Games

Pikmin 3 Deluxe Review

Gamespot News Feed - 7 hours 20 min ago

By this point, nearly four years into the Switch's life cycle, Nintendo has repackaged almost all of Wii U's most noteworthy games for the system's successor, with only a handful of holdovers yet to make the jump. Pikmin 3 is the latest Wii U gem to be dusted off and repurposed for Switch, and like other "deluxe" offerings, it arrives on the hybrid console packed together with all of its original DLC and a smattering of new content--in this case, a handful of additional missions starring series mainstays Olimar and Louie--making this the definitive version of one of the company's most underrated titles.

Although the side story missions are the biggest selling point, Pikmin 3 has actually received a fair number of other tweaks in its move to Switch as well. There are new difficulty options, a hint system that helpfully nudges wayward players in the right direction, and other additions like badges--unlockable achievements that are doled out upon completing specific tasks or reaching certain milestones. These nips and tucks don't radically alter the experience for returning players, but they do help make the game more inviting for newcomers, especially those who may not already be familiar with the series.

Even without any dramatic touch-ups, Pikmin 3 remains just as delightful now as when it first premiered more than seven years ago, thanks to its wonderfully idiosyncratic blend of strategy and adventure. The centerpiece of the package is the Story mode, which begins--just as previous games did--with a crash landing. This time around, you take control of three new explorers named Alph, Brittany, and Charlie, who embark on an expedition across the cosmos in search of food for their starving planet. En route, their spaceship is struck by a meteor, sending the crew plummeting to the planet of the Pikmin, and it falls to you to reunite the explorers, navigate the planet's perils, and retrieve enough food to save their home world.

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Categories: Games

Watch Dogs: Legion Review

Gamespot News Feed - 9 hours 19 min ago

Watch Dogs: Legion takes the foundations and ideas of its predecessors and expands upon them exponentially. The core conceit of Legion lies in the old adage of "strength in numbers," which manifests in the game letting you recruit and play as nearly any character you come across, amassing a ragtag crew of freedom fighters. This open-ended stance to fighting the system is a significant change for the franchise, and it's bolstered by improved hacking and social-engineering gameplay. Legion's approach, while admirable, does have some unintended issues that make its powerful message of unity waver at inopportune times, but it still manages to make a profound statement about hope with its novel approach to player agency.

Legion is set in a near-future, more technologically advanced London. Longstanding hacker group DedSec has been framed for a series of bombings in the city, and its members are branded as terrorists. This, however, was all engineered by the mysterious rival hacker group known as Zero Day. In the chaos after the bombing, London and its citizens are effectively caught in the vice-grip of encroaching fascism and suffocating capitalism due to the occupation of Albion, a private military group, as well as criminal and corporate enterprises taking advantage of the power vacuum. With many key operatives dead or missing, DedSec London starts from scratch by crowdsourcing new members made up of like-minded citizens wanting to liberate the city.

The London in Watch Dogs: Legion is presented as a more advanced and exaggerated version of the real-life London. However, this interpretation of the city still reflects the present mood of 2020, albeit with more of a cyberpunk-dystopia aesthetic. The city's history and its iconic landmarks are the backdrop for stark futurism. The majesty of Buckingham Palace and the bohemian charm of Camden are washed with parcel delivery drones, holographic advertisements, and self-driving cars that flood your line of sight. Of course, all of this also makes for an exciting playground for your hacking antics.

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Categories: Games

Ring Of Pain Review

Gamespot News Feed - 16 hours 8 min ago

Ring of Pain is a roguelike card game that's too damned creepy to not live rent-free in your head long after you're finished. You play as someone trapped in darkness, unsure of who can help you out and who intends to lead you into ruin. The constant uncertainty leaves you always second-guessing yourself, while the action manages to keep you firmly in the moment as you juggle satisfying risk-reward choices. This balance of feeling both powerful and vulnerable--but in different ways depending on your choices--manages to shake up potentially repetitive attempts to navigate the rings of cards in your efforts to escape this eerie, unsettling world.

Each run in Ring of Pain starts out largely the same: It's just you and a circle of cards that probably want to kill you. Two cards in the circle are in the foreground and can be viewed and interacted with immediately. Cards feature an interesting array of spooky creatures that can be fought or dodged, items to be collected and equipped, stat boosts, potions, curses, or doors to be passed through into another new dungeon ring. There’s a menagerie of different cards to come across, which keeps you constantly on your toes and never too sure of what to expect--but there are still patterns and hints to the madness, such as themed dungeons that keep things purposeful rather than totally random. The rings cycle through depending on your actions--you might find a card that shuffles the ring, or a card might cycle itself through the ring to chase you--and how you choose to navigate them will determine your play style.

You don't have to clear a ring to move to the next stage, just to get to a door. You have your own base stats, which change based on the items and boosts you find and equip. It’s best to think of yourself as a sort of customizable creature card with slots augmented by what you find. Most of the equipment will have basic stat augments, but others will offer interesting strategies like gaining health from curses or knocking back creatures after an attack. Each little factor can greatly determine how effective you are in satisfying ways that alter available strategies. The knock-back ability can make slow but devastatingly strong enemies a total non-issue as they no longer have a chance to attack, while without it even sneaking past them can be risky business.

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Categories: Games

Ghostrunner Review

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 10/26/2020 - 14:00

Ghostrunner's intense first-person parkour platforming demands perfection. Whether you're clearing out a neon cityscape of cyberpunk goons or racing on walls and sliding through vents of a gigantic factory, even a small miscalculation will get you killed. Your jumps need to be precise. Every swing of your sword should be deadly. Anything less isn't up to robot ninja spec. Ghostrunner is quick to punish, but it's also more than willing to reward players who rise to its challenge. Bouncing from wall to wall feels like flying. Running circles around gunmen, dodging bullets, and cutting them down without a scratch is exhilarating. It's a high-risk, high-reward situation: Struggling with failure after failure, even on simple tasks, is incredibly frustrating early on, but that anger eventually dissipates as your skill grows to reveal a thrilling test of your abilities.

Set in a cyberpunk-style post-apocalyptic world, Ghostrunner puts you in control of a robot ninja assassin on a mission to kill his world's authoritarian ruler. (She also nearly killed him a while back, so it's a twofer! Revolution and revenge.) There's a twisty, turny plot, but it's often very detached from what you're actually playing, as it's told almost exclusively through voiceover.

Ghostrunner adheres quite closely to tenets of cyberpunk's visual aesthetic. You run through dirty dilapidated cities with dark corners, contrasted with neon signs and bright screens lighting up the night. Some of the enemies you face are literal cyborg punks. Don't worry; there are also plenty of robots. There have been enough cyberpunk stories in games that this look isn't especially fresh, but that doesn't stop it from looking cool. It helps that, on a technical level, Ghostrunner looks very sharp. The environments, enemies, and your sword, which is always sticking out in front of you, are all incredibly detailed. It may not be the most creatively constructed, but it is appealing all the same.

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Categories: Games

Disc Room Review – Getting Buzzed

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 10/22/2020 - 14:00

There are times in life where it feels like no matter what you do, something is waiting to ruin your day. Obstacles that come from all directions, trying to take you down when you're just trying your best to make it to the next day. Perhaps they're big, foreboding, and scary. Maybe there are lots of little things that can harm you just as easily. Something might seemingly come out of nowhere and just wreck your entire being. That's the vibe of the year 2020 Disc Room, a ball of anxious energy in the form of a 2D action game. But as nerve-racking as that sounds, Disc Room is also a game that will eventually encourage you to come to terms with frequent failure, learning instead to cherish the small successes that help you push forward.

A giant disc-shaped object has appeared over Jupiter, or so Disc Room's introductory text tells you, and as a charming little space person your goal is to explore what is revealed to be a labyrinth filled with numerous deadly rooms. Each room houses a unique trial involving copious spinning buzzsaws threatening to cut right through you, something that will happen more times than you'll be able to keep track of.

It's a twitch-action game that focuses solely on the most heart-pounding element of bullet-hell shoot-em-up games: trying to avoid a ridiculous number of projectiles. Disc Room is concentrated on difficulty and pushing you into panicked situations, featuring a creative variety of aggressive enemy discs. Each exhibits particular behaviors, but none follow a predetermined course, making even the relatively simple stages dangerously unpredictable and challenging every time. Disc Room's reality is one where you're trapped in a room with over a dozen bouncing, fatal blades, where dark electro thumps non-stop, and where death can occur in less than a second.

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Categories: Games

Noita Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 10/20/2020 - 22:26

One of Noita's best spells is the ability to summon a torrential downpour from thin air. A heavy, magical cloud bursts open above you, extinguishing damaging flames or washing away toxic poisons. Having this ability on one of my many runs always reassured me that I could be a little more reckless with my navigation through Noita's dangerous biomes--at least it did, until I discovered that I could just as easily drown myself in many of its narrow and twisting procedurally-generated mazes.

A big part of Noita's appeal is watching how all its physics-based systems interact with each other. This 2D roguelike's dynamic world is brought to life with vibrant pixels, each one reactive to the world and circumstances around it. Fires will spread and engulf nearby wooden structures, slowly burning them away. Those wooden structures might support a giant vat of toxic sludge, which will quickly pour through the tunnels of a mine once its supports are gone. This sludge, in turn, can erode enemies, infect life-giving pools of water, and melt away the ground. But it can also just as easily kill you. The simple act of knocking down a lantern creates a deadly domino effect, and part of Noita's appeal is learning to spin that into an advantage.

Noita doesn't give you the means to control this chaos, but with a variety of wands and spells you can learn how to nudge it in advantageous directions. It's easiest to think of wands in Noita as weapons, while spells are the ammunition loaded into them. Each wand features slots for spells, as well as attributes determining casting speeds, delays, and whether spells are shuffled when cast. Spells, on the other hand, determine your overall damage output and effects. This can range from the expected arcane fireballs and small jolts of electricity to the more absurd, such as combining specific spells to summon terrain-consuming black holes that spit out explosives or create magnificent electrical storms that spew out toxins.

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Categories: Games

Amnesia: Rebirth Review

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 14:00

Back in 2010, developer Frictional Games set the tone for PC indie horror games with Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Focused heavily on story, it created its scares through an intensity of atmosphere and an emphasis on powerlessness. With Amnesia: Rebirth, it feels like Frictional has fully refined its particular approach to horror. You're trapped in a deadly, smothering world, struggling against your character's limitations and even her perceptions. Rebirth is Frictional's best game yet, marrying a deep, mysterious story to the signature mechanics the developer has been refining over the course of 13 years of horror games.

Amnesia: Rebirth continues Frictional's specific approach to story and horror, which emphasizes avoiding conflict, hiding, and mastering your character's own fear. It also adds to the story told in The Dark Descent, although you don't need to know that game well to follow this narrative of this one. (The narrative doesn't link to Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, the 2013 follow-up to The Dark Descent.) You play Tasi Trianon, a French woman who joins a mining expedition to Algeria in 1937. In the opening moments of the game, the expedition's plane experiences some supernatural shenanigans that cause it to crash in the desert. Tasi wakes up soon after, alone in the plane, with few memories of what has happened and strange black tendrils creeping into her vision. As she goes searching for survivors, she discovers that the strange bracelet she wakes up wearing can open portals to a dark, ruined parallel world. Tasi goes searching through caves and tunnels for her friends, and the story often pulls her into the alternate dimension as she tries to find her way forward.

Rebirth brings back the main mechanics from The Dark Descent, and really, all of Frictional's games deal in similar sets of ideas. You trace the survivors' path, gathering notes and uncovering clues as to what happened. As you explore the caves, you're quickly plunged into darkness, and as in The Dark Descent, the dark increases Tasi's fear and has palpable effects on her psyche. You're not dealing with a loss of sanity that changes how you perceive the world like in that game, however. Instead, Tasi's increasing fear causes the black tendrils to reappear and her heart to start pounding, and if she gets too afraid, the blackness overtakes her entirely, causing her to lose herself and wake up somewhere else with no memory of how she got there.

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Categories: Games

Ring Fit Adventure Review: One Year Later

Gamespot News Feed - Sun, 10/18/2020 - 14:00

Editor's note: Ring Fit Adventure first released on October 18, 2019. Because we were unable to review the game back then, we're taking this opportunity--the one-year anniversary of its release--to give it a full evaluation now. In this review, Jenae Sitzes reflects on a full year of on-and-off workouts with Nintendo Switch's premier fitness game.

Over the past decade-plus, Nintendo has established itself as the home for fitness games. Wii Fit and its enhanced version, Wii Fit Plus, have together sold over 43 million copies worldwide, so it was only a matter of time before the company attempted to replicate that success on Nintendo Switch. Fortunately, Wii Fit's successor is far more ambitious than many people may have anticipated. Released one year ago on October 18, 2019, Ring Fit Adventure is not Wii Fit 2.0, but rather a full-blown fitness RPG with an overarching story, skill tree, and vibrant, lively landscapes. Not only is it far more ambitious in terms of scope than its predecessor, but it also fosters a healthier attitude toward fitness and a friendly tone that's relentlessly encouraging without a hint of judgment, even when it's been weeks--or even months--since you last logged in.

In Ring Fit Adventure, you team up with a magical pilates ring to track down and defeat an evil bodybuilding dragon named Dragaux, who is spreading a dark influence across the land. In your pursuit of Dragaux, you jog through beautiful landscapes and engage in turn-based battles against fitness-themed monsters (such as a feisty dumbbell or mischievous yoga mat). In order to attack or defend, you'll have to perform exercises, and the game eventually introduces type matchups--some monsters will be particularly weak to leg moves, for instance. With four different move types available (leg, arm, abs, and yoga), Ring Fit Adventure provides a great full-body workout, and even though some levels may focus on one muscle group over the other, the option to use different move types keeps workouts balanced and prevents you from tiring out too quickly.

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Categories: Games

Ikenfell Review

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 10/17/2020 - 00:10

Ikenfell is a magical school in its seemingly natural state: peril. Students have gone missing, strange trees are cropping up, and other magical anomalies plague the land. As Mariette, the non-magical yet still worried sister of one of Ikenfell’s students, you embark on a journey through this pixelated 2D RPG adventure to save her, the school, and maybe the whole world. A number of interesting ideas in both story and combat make Ikenfell an appealing prospect, but since some prove stronger than others in execution, ultimately it's a journey with more than a few bumps in the road.

As the game begins, Mariette almost immediately gains supernatural pyromantic abilities thanks to strange magical occurrences. It actually feels a bit at odds with the message of not needing to be magical to be heroic, which throws the vibe off kilter right from the beginning. The conceit does make sense within the context of the story, though, and sets out one of the first mysteries in the game. New forms of magic are cropping up, and even some who previously had no magical powers suddenly find themselves wielding elemental magic. Mariette can use her new fire power to take on the various magical enemies of Ikenfell in turn-based isometric grid battles, with a bit of a twist.

Ikenfell captured on Nintendo SwitchGallery

Combat is a fairly large part of the game and is mostly turn-based. Turns are split between a movement phase, where you position your team on the battlefield, and then an attack phase where you select from combat options that have their unique ranges and damage, and sometimes added effects. Starting out you’ll have basic attacks which do moderate damage to a single enemy in front of you on the grid. As levels are gained, party members added, and moves are unlocked, more strategies and styles open up.

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NHL 21 Review - Score

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 08:01

EA normally releases new NHL games during the Stanley Cup playoffs when the sporting world is focused on hockey, but complications due to COVID-19 led to a delay for NHL 21. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup weeks ago, and as a result, ice hockey has escaped the wider public sports consciousness as other leagues take hold. But NHL 21 is a compelling reason to care about hockey again, as this year's game delivers a major improvement to the story mode, adds a flashy new arcade-style mode in HUT Rush, and makes the on-the-ice gameplay better than ever thanks to a series of new skill moves that let you play with more style.

Be A Pro 2.0

The biggest new addition for NHL 21 is the expanded and improved Be A Pro. After NHL 20 delivered basically no updates on the career-focused mode, NHL 21 offers a huge step forward thanks to a cinematic-style campaign of sorts, where you create a character and guide them through their career, beginning in either Europe or the Canadian Hockey League and competing for a spot in the NHL. The story beats play out through non-voiced dialogue sequences and cutscenes with coaches, media, and teammates. The main choices you make come from the Team or Star paths, and both have pros and cons to consider as you weigh your options to shape your career in the way you want to.

As an example, my agent called me to ask if I wanted to attend a charity event for a wildlife protection company. I chose the "Team" response, and my brand rating improved because the simulation suggested my fans would see this as a sports star being humble and genuine. However, choosing this option came with a negative effect, too, as my agent told me it was a noble choice but I should also plan for my life after hockey and try to make as much money in my prime as possible. I enjoyed the struggle of making these choices, and I found myself choosing one option and then loading a previous save to see how things would have played out differently. The choices you have to make can be real head-scratchers and they generally seem believable and taken from real-world headlines. But while the conversation system and cutscenes are generally enjoyable and a step up from the past iterations of Be A Pro, they are at times very cheesy and contrived, so the conversations and their impact don't always resonate.

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Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Review – Making Tracks

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 10/14/2020 - 14:00

There's an old truism in gaming circles that Nintendo is a toy company at its core. This is both praise and critique, expressing a sense of wonderment over the company's ability to tap into childlike playfulness and bafflement at some of its esoteric hardware decisions. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit may be the purest recent expression of the "Nintendo as toy company" ethos. For one, it revolves almost entirely around an actual toy: a tiny camera-equipped go-kart that you race around your real-life house. But more broadly, it behaves the way the simplest toys do, by giving back only as much as the effort you put into creative play.

That's because the core pillar of Mario Kart Live is making your own tracks. The game comes with four numbered gates that help define your track. These are made out of unfolding cardboard, like the natural evolution of Nintendo Labo. Once you've laid down your track and any real-life objects as hazards, you need to run through it once, pace-car style, before starting the race. Choosing the main Grand Prix mode populates your Augmented Reality (AR) track with four Koopaling opponents, and then you're off to the races.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit screenshots provided by Nintendo

Once you're actually in a race, it operates like any other Mario Kart game. You keep your eyes on the screen--watching your real-life kart is a surefire way to lose--and you see visual effects like Item Blocks and virtual hazards littering the track. And while the kart actually moves relatively slowly in its slowest setting, it actually looks reasonably fast on-screen with the camera set so low to the ground.

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Genshin Impact Review – Direct Hit

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 10/13/2020 - 22:52

When you hear the words "free-to-play," you probably think of very specific kinds of games: mobile time-killers, first-person shooters with loot boxes, MMORPGs. However, a story-driven, open-world action-RPG in a similar vein to Zelda: Breath of the Wild is probably not what springs to mind. But that's exactly what Genshin Impact aims to be. It delivers a large, lore-filled, graphically lush world with nuanced combat, character-building, exploration mechanics, and co-op crossplay across multiple platforms at the most appealing price point possible--free! And while it succeeds admirably for the most part, it stumbles in a few key ways that remind you that there's no such thing as a fully free-to-play game.

Genshin Impact makes a great first impression. The anime-inspired visuals are inviting and colorful, and the fully voiced, nicely choreographed cutscenes give the game the feel of a premium product. It also gets you going with the gameplay very quickly; thanks to solid control design, you'll be running, swimming, climbing, dodging, gliding, fighting slimes, and slinging spells just a few minutes after the intro cutscenes wrap up. And once your first additional party member officially joins your posse, things start to get very interesting, as you'll start to learn the ins and outs of the elemental interactions that make Genshin Impact unique.

Each character in Genshin Impact has one of seven elemental properties tied to them, which greatly affects what they can do for combat and exploration. While systems of strong and weak elements are extremely common in games, Genshin Impact takes things a step further, introducing unique and interesting ways for multiple elements to interact with objects and enemies. It starts with simple interactions: an object aligned with Dendro (nature) like a wood shield or structure burns with damaging flames when exposed to Pyro attacks, while pools of water can be frozen with Cryo element skills or used as a conduit for causing Electro damage in an area. Experimenting with other elemental combinations will yield more interesting results; setting an enemy on fire and following up with an Electro attack overloads them with energy and causes area damage, while using a windstorm can blow another source of elemental damage like Pyro or Hydro elsewhere while augmenting its strength.

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Star Wars: Squadrons Review – Catch Me If You Can

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 10/13/2020 - 01:30

For all the ups and downs I've had with various Star Wars media products over the past few decades, the formative space combat simulations of X-Wing and TIE Fighter on MS-DOS (or at least, my memory of them) have always been a fixed highlight. It's hard to go astray when you're focused on the minutiae of inherently cool sci-fi fantasy planes, as opposed to whatever's going on with Jedi lineages or space politics now.

There have been a few arcade-style Star Wars space combat games that filled the 20-year period since the last flight simulator, and some of them were even good. But Star Wars: Squadrons is now making a welcome return to some of the simulator intricacies, while still retaining a large degree of the approachable spectacle of the arcade-style flight games. And the balance Squadrons has settled on works very well in creating an experience that makes you feel as if you're really an active participant in a Star War.

The basic mechanics will be familiar if you've ever played any kind of flight game. You pitch your fighter up and down, you bank it left and right. You fly forward, not backward, and you can twirl until you feel sick. You maneuver your crosshairs onto an enemy and then fire lasers or missiles at them. You're locked to a first-person cockpit view of the action, but all of Squadron's missions are in space, which means maintaining altitude isn't something you have to worry about, and instead, you get the wonderful freedom of being able to fly along any axis--rolling your ship and flying upside down is a hoot. It feels like you could feasibly finish the Squadrons campaign relying mostly on those principles if you wanted to, especially on lower difficulty levels, and that's great. But Squadrons digs a little deeper with the ability to reroute power on your ship, a system that brings a nice layer of complexity in the advantages that it can open up for you and the considerations that come with that.

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Yakuza: Like A Dragon Xbox Series X Preview – Taking A Turn In Yokohama

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/12/2020 - 14:00

Publisher: Sega Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios Release: November 10, 2020 (Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), March 2, 2021 (PlayStation 5) Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

To this point, the Yakuza franchise has delivered a gripping narrative starring Kazuma Kiryu featuring fast-paced, beat-'em-up action with the gorgeous, bustling backdrop of Kamurocho. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life wrapped up Kiryu's long-running story, giving way for more tales to be told within the Yakuza series. With the upcoming Yakuza: Like a Dragon, developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is turning several familiar elements on their heads. I had a chance to play through a chunk of the game starting in Chapter 5 to see just how different this new entry is.

For starters, the protagonist is Ichiban Kasuga, a man on a personal quest to be a hero after hitting rock bottom and spending nearly two decades in prison. The departures from the series to this point don't stop there: The majority of the game takes place in Isezaki Ijincho in the Yokohama district and unlike recent entries, you can choose either Japanese or English audio. However, the biggest departure from the typical Yakuza series is the arcade-style brawler combat being supplanted by a traditional turn-based-combat system.

The new turn-based system features a party system including 19 playable jobs.

While that notion may be shocking to both longtime fans and those who have just jumped on board with the series in wake of the recent surge of popularity, the turn-based mechanics work surprisingly well. Fights play out in true turn-based fashion, with each character acting in order. When it's one of your character's turn, they can attack, use a skill, use an item, or guard. Attacks do basic damage, while skills (which cost MP) can attack multiple enemies, inflict status ailments, do elemental damage, or even buff/heal allies. Kasuga's Mega Swing skill does a decent amount of damage to all enemies in range, which is helpful for when you don't have time to deal with a group of street thugs.

In other Yakuza games, using environmental objects to your advantage can play a major role in the fights. While the free-flowing nature of that is somewhat lost in the new turn-based system, it's not completely gone. If you initiate an attack and an object is in the way, your character will either knock it over, possibly hitting the enemies, or pick it up and use it in the attack. 

Some skills also feature cutscenes as they inflict extreme damage. For example, Saeko's Essence of Handbag Hurricane skill halts the action as she winds up and spins until her handbag smashes into the face of an enemy, leaving him bloody and defeated. Some, like Kasuga's Essence of Mayhem skill, get the entire team involved as they volley a single enemy back and forth in a satisfying and devastating fashion.

Another change is that your journey is not a solitary one. In fact, throughout my session, Kasuga was accompanied by three companions – his party. These party members can take on different jobs from a pool of 19 (plus an additional 2 DLC jobs at launch). Each of the party members began with only one job each; Adachi has the Detective job, which lets him fight using a police baton and judo, as well as techniques that let him disrupt the enemy and protect his allies, Nanba has the Homeless Guy job, which lets him use umbrellas and canes as weapons, as well as the ability to learn fire breathing, pigeon control, and smelly breath skills, and Saeko has the Barmaid job, giving her the ability to use her handbag as a weapon, plus the option of learning martial arts using cosmetic tools. Meanwhile, Kasuga uses the Hero job, letting him use a baseball bat. The Hero job is a versatile role, so he can learn several diverse techniques. He can also use the offense-heavy Freelancer job, which uses bare-knuckle and pro-wrestling tactics.

At the start of the demo, the team is searching for the killer of the boss of the soapland Kasuga works at. The quest takes them to Yokohama, where they begin poking around to find more information about the Yokohama Liumang, a Chinese gang Kasuga suspects may have been involved in the killing. Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for word of the nosy group to get back to the Liumang, and they confront the crew. 

Without spoiling too much, a battle ensues and it kicks off a chain of events that involves infiltrating a Chinese club, which, of course, results in another fight, a lead on the murderer, and an escape from Yokohama. However, in my downtime, I decide to sample the local foods (which restore party HP and MP), pop into a couple of convenience stores for some health-restoration items, and take part in a minigame where I'm riding around on a bike, collecting cans in the streets while A.I. enemies try to ram me and steal my cans. Finally, I encounter a side-mission for the Part-Time Hero mission I took: a fight to save an in-trouble citizen with a monetary reward. I'm also pleased to see that Like a Dragon hasn't lost its flair for the odd and downright zany moments; during one random encounter, I fought a lubed up man in his underwear who slipped and fell when he tried to attack. 

Since I was playing on Xbox Series X, the performance of Yakuza: Like a Dragon was excellent. The gameplay was responsive and smooth, and I didn't notice any frame rate dips or hiccups. In addition, my initial load into Yokohama was just around five seconds.

If what I played of Yakuza: Like a Dragon is any indication, the tone, grit, and humor of past games all carry forward in excellent ways, even while the series is changing its conventions in many ways. With an effective evolution of the franchise that doesn't sacrificing its identity, Yakuza: Like a Dragon looks to be another crowd-pleasing, jaw-busting affair.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon launches on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 10, with a PlayStation 5 version arriving on March 2.

Categories: Games

Dirt 5 Xbox Series X Preview – An Impressive, Muddy Showcase

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/12/2020 - 05:00

Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Codemasters Release: November 6, 2020 (Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4), November 10, 2020 (Xbox Series X/S), November 12, 2020 (PlayStation 5), 2021 (Stadia) Rating: Everyone Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

With the new generation a month away, I finally got my hands on a true next-gen title after putting the new Xbox Series X through the paces with backwards compatible games. Dirt 5 is a visual treat; mud flings into the air as you throw on your handbreak to cut around a corner as the sun slices through deep blue sky in blinding fashion. The visual leap forward is noticeable, but I was most impressed by how smooth everything feels.

Dirt 5 capitalizes on the speed emphasis of the Xbox Series X, loading detailed environments with several cars in just under 15 seconds; just as I was blown away by how fast the Series X can load an Xbox One game, I'm impressed by how short I have to wait once I enter an event. Speaking of events, Dirt 5 gives you multiple ways to experience a diverse offering of races, ranging from the choose-you-path career mode (complete with playful narration by Nolan North, and a mentor played by Troy Baker), and the other-the-top and creative Playgrounds.

Career mode gets you into the action faster than I anticipated. After a short explanation of how the mode works, I'm immediately thrusted into my first Ultra Cross race (a combination of off-road and street racing) on a muddy Norwegian cliffside with waves crashing by the barriers. The better you do in each career race, the more XP, money, rep, and rewards you take home. While money is obviously used to buy new cars and upgrades, rep gives you additional sponsorship opportunities (which in-turn give you even more money) and XP levels up your profile, granting you access to more cosmetics to equip on your cars and profile.

After taking first place in that initial event in Norway, I'm given a choice to proceed to either a Rally Raid event (the quintessential point-A-to-point-B Dirt experience) in Greece or a Land Rush event (a true battle against the elements) in China. After completing my third event, a hilly Stampede race capped off by a massive jump in Italy, I'm finally able to afford a new car; I opt for the Ford Fiesta R5 MK II. 

I spent a bit more time in career before heading over to Playgrounds, an all-new mode that not only lets you race in creative and outlandish courses, but also create them for yourself and share them with the world. Hopping into the Discover section of Playgrounds, I'm greeted with a treasure trove of creations from other players. From a checkpoint-based course full of jumps, tight turns, and even an upward spiral to a complex skill-based track centered on smashing targets while avoiding hazards, I encountered all kinds of ways to put my driving skills to the test. On top of finding plenty of enjoyable courses like these, my competitive streak was also satisfied, as each event has a leaderboard built in, encouraging you to play again and again to top other racers.

Once I dug into the creation tools for myself, I was easily able to craft a stunt course with a jump through a flaming hoop, a pipe to drive through (upside-down if you want), and a sharp U-turn to drift around. Thanks to pieces that snap together, it didn't take long before the ideas in my head were brought to life on the screen. I'm excited to see what I can whip up once the final version hits and I devote more time to learning the ins and outs of the components available.

Dirt 5 isn't a title that's impossible to achieve on current-gen technology, but the experience on Xbox Series X is smooth as silk. I haven't had a chance to check out the title's performance on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, but I continue to be pleased with the efficiency of the Xbox Series X, even on next-gen titles such as this.

Dirt 5 launches on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC this November. It arrives on Stadia sometime next year.

Categories: Games

Dirt 5 Xbox Series X Preview – An Impressive, Muddy Showcase

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/12/2020 - 05:00

Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Codemasters Release: November 6, 2020 (Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4), November 10, 2020 (Xbox Series X/S), November 12, 2020 (PlayStation 5), 2021 (Stadia) Rating: Everyone Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

With the new generation a month away, I finally got my hands on a true next-gen title after putting the new Xbox Series X through the paces with backwards compatible games. Dirt 5 is a visual treat; mud flings into the air as you throw on your handbreak to cut around a corner as the sun slices through deep blue sky in blinding fashion. The visual leap forward is noticeable, but I was most impressed by how smooth everything feels.

Dirt 5 capitalizes on the speed emphasis of the Xbox Series X, loading detailed environments with several cars in just under 15 seconds; just as I was blown away by how fast the Series X can load an Xbox One game, I'm impressed by how short I have to wait once I enter an event. Speaking of events, Dirt 5 gives you multiple ways to experience a diverse offering of races, ranging from the choose-you-path career mode (complete with playful narration by Nolan North, and a mentor played by Troy Baker), and the other-the-top and creative Playgrounds.

Career mode gets you into the action faster than I anticipated. After a short explanation of how the mode works, I'm immediately thrusted into my first Ultra Cross race (a combination of off-road and street racing) on a muddy Norwegian cliffside with waves crashing by the barriers. The better you do in each career race, the more XP, money, rep, and rewards you take home. While money is obviously used to buy new cars and upgrades, rep gives you additional sponsorship opportunities (which in-turn give you even more money) and XP levels up your profile, granting you access to more cosmetics to equip on your cars and profile.

After taking first place in that initial event in Norway, I'm given a choice to proceed to either a Rally Raid event (the quintessential point-A-to-point-B Dirt experience) in Greece or a Land Rush event (a true battle against the elements) in China. After completing my third event, a hilly Stampede race capped off by a massive jump in Italy, I'm finally able to afford a new car; I opt for the Ford Fiesta R5 MK II. 

I spent a bit more time in career before heading over to Playgrounds, an all-new mode that not only lets you race in creative and outlandish courses, but also create them for yourself and share them with the world. Hopping into the Discover section of Playgrounds, I'm greeted with a treasure trove of creations from other players. From a checkpoint-based course full of jumps, tight turns, and even an upward spiral to a complex skill-based track centered on smashing targets while avoiding hazards, I encountered all kinds of ways to put my driving skills to the test. On top of finding plenty of enjoyable courses like these, my competitive streak was also satisfied, as each event has a leaderboard built in, encouraging you to play again and again to top other racers.

Once I dug into the creation tools for myself, I was easily able to craft a stunt course with a jump through a flaming hoop, a pipe to drive through (upside-down if you want), and a sharp U-turn to drift around. Thanks to pieces that snap together, it didn't take long before the ideas in my head were brought to life on the screen. I'm excited to see what I can whip up once the final version hits and I devote more time to learning the ins and outs of the components available.

Dirt 5 isn't a title that's impossible to achieve on current-gen technology, but the experience on Xbox Series X is smooth as silk. I haven't had a chance to check out the title's performance on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, but I continue to be pleased with the efficiency of the Xbox Series X, even on next-gen titles such as this.

Dirt 5 launches on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC this November. It arrives on Stadia sometime next year.

Categories: Games

I Am Dead Review – Staying Alive

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 10/09/2020 - 23:03

It's common in games for death to go unexplored. When it's not used as a narrative device to motivate living characters, it's brushed aside as collateral for a game's mechanics, with few interrogating the effects of your actions. I Am Dead is nothing like that. Not only do you play as a recently deceased protagonist, but its warm and welcoming tale explores themes of what it means to leave a legacy--however big or small--on the people you shared your brief time with while alive.

Playing as former museum curator Morris Lupton and guided by his equally dead pet dog, Sparky, you explore the recent history of the fictional island of Shelmerston in search of a new guardian for the tranquil settlement. The island's dormant volcano is being kept at bay by the waning spirit of a former inhabitant, forcing Lupton to search for a replacement from a handful of other Shelmerston inhabitants that have recently found themselves in the afterlife. With the ability to explore some of the island's picturesque locations and interact with objects in ways unique to your spectral form, you slowly unearth the island's history and touching vignettes of some of its residents.

Before being able to ask a friendly resident ghost if they're up to the task of watching over Shelmerston, you need to first learn about their lasting impact on those who are still alive. This manifests in distinct levels where you explore stories of each character through the lens of those who remember them. The devout followers of a yoga instructor who reside in a repurposed lighthouse recall the calming nature of their late leader, coloring in his complex relationship with past trauma and how it shaped his pursuit for inner peace. Another tale set in the island's bustling port town tells the tale of a blossoming romance between two youths who both discovered more about themselves when apart, which cemented their relationship further when reunited. These stories help introduce you to the would-be caretakers before you get to meet them, giving you all the context you need to understand their decision to either accept or decline the position of island custodian.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

What Is Monster Hunter Rise?

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 10/09/2020 - 20:20

Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release: March 26, 2021 Platform: Switch

Unveiled during a Direct event, Monster Hunter Rise is the next big game in the Monster Hunter franchise coming to Nintendo Switch. Unlike many of the 3DS games, the map is a fluid experience — only one load into the area, no loading between various map sections or chunks. A brief chat with the development team on Zoom allowed us to dig into some of the various aspects of Monster Hunter Rise that make it stand out.

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A new feature called the wirebug (which actually seems kind of similar to the Clutch Claw from Monster Hunter World) allows players to both traverse the environments at high speed and also weave the wirebug into powerful, weapon-specific attacks. Sidekicks have been a prominent part of the franchise for a while, offering support in combat. You've probably spent a lot of time with Palicoes, our feline friends, but now a new sidekick is about to come into the spotlight — the palamute! It's a doggo! Palamutes are more offense-oriented than palicoes, and you can even ride them around like mounts. Cats and dogs? Guess the next pet that shows up in the Monster Hunter series! Get a good look at the palamute and a lot more in the TGS trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Players can party up in four-player multiplayer in both local and online co-op. In Monster Hunter World, it was often frustrating to have to go through cutscenes over and over again. Thankfully, cutscenes can actually be skipped in this game. There won't be G Rank or Master rank quest experiences, only Low Rank and High Rank, though we don't know if the higher difficulty tier may be added in the future. A maximum of three monsters can be on any map at any given time, similar to other games in the franchise. When asked about how the team determines which monsters to bring back to the games, the response was that they determine which environments and locations to create first, and then select monsters that would be appropriate to those areas. 

Players can now all bring one pet companion into the four-player experience. If only one or two players are in a mission, they can bring two pets each! That's a lot of bark, bite, and meow! All in all, from what's known so far, Monster Hunter Rise looks similar to other Monster Hunter offerings, with a few slight iterations to keep things fresh. We'll find out more as we plod toward release next year. And Monster Hunter Rise isn't the only new title in the Monster Hunter universe coming to Switch. Monster Hunter Stories 2 is also on the way, you can check out our review of the first title here

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Categories: Games

Valorant Unveils New Map And Character For Act III

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 10/09/2020 - 18:04

Publisher: Riot Games Developer: Riot Games Release: June 2, 2020 Platform: PC

Riot Games is bringing Act III to Valorant starting on October 13. Various elements of the season will roll out over time, with the brand new map hitting immediately. It's called Icebox, and it's aptly named. A frozen facility with two detonation points, the new map has a focus on skirmish gameplay.

Oh, and there's something else new on the map too — the zipline! Get vertical and get fast as you catch your opponents by surprise and speed quickly across the environment. Icebox is slated to be available on October 13.

A bit later into Act III on October 27, players can experience the new agent Skye. Hailing from Australia, Skye is a master of beasts. Kind of like a druid in futuristic military agent form, Skye can impair enemy vision, heal teammates, and sic her beast companions on opponents. 

While Skye can heal multiple teammates at once, there's a balance in her kit as she cannot heal herself. Bummer! Her ultimate can inflict nearsightedness on multiple enemies, which is sure to be an incredibly devastating ability. Being able to almost blind your enemies before breaching territory makes for a potent initiate, and foes would be wise to spread out or face a vicious gundown.

Of course, a new Act means a new battlepass too. Chock full of the usual cosmetic unlocks, players can work on the pass over the course of the Act. Remember the sweet Dragon skins? Act III brings a new skin kit for weapons. If you play the Sheriff, Spectre, Phantom, Ares, or Melee weapon, Singularity skins are available, with the entire bundle going for 8,700 VP. Send the enemy into the void, or something. Whatever, they look really cool.

Click here to watch embedded media

The action kicks off on October 13, but expect content to roll out over the course of the season!

Categories: Games

The Medium Releases On December 10

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 10/09/2020 - 16:45

Click here to watch embedded media

Publisher: Bloober Team Developer: Bloober Team Release: December 10, 2020 Platform: PC

The Medium is the upcoming horror title from Bloober Team – the studio behind other tense first-person games like Observer, Layers of Fear, and Blair Witch. Since The Medium's reveal earlier this year, it has had a vague "holiday 2020" release date, but today Bloober Team put a finer point on it: You can dive into this unique horror landscape on December 10. 

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

One of the most interesting things about The Medium is the fact that it is exclusive to next-gen; while many games releasing this holiday season are straddling both generations, The Medium is only for Xbox Series X/S and PC. 

You can see the latest trailer above, and read more about The Medium in our list five next-gen worlds we're excited to visit.  

Categories: Games

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