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6 Reasons We Can't Wait for Batman: Arkham Knight - The Superhero Show

IGN.com - 5 hours 13 min ago
The Superhero Show takes a look at Rocksteady's final Arkham games, plus we pay comics legend Dave Gibbons a visit.
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The Cursed Bees! Save Yourselves!

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 19:50
Geralt uses his carefully-honed Witcher abilities to explode a beehive and make the bees go crazy and start stinging bandits.
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How 'Bout That Gwent?

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 19:50
Gwent, the trading card game that exists within The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is surprisingly addictive. Let Max, who's never played a TCG, explain how it works.
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Quick Look: Splatoon

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-05-29 19:18
Watch extended gameplay footage from Splatoon featuring the Giant Bomb crew.
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20 of the Most Expensive Games Ever Made

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-05-29 19:01

1. Destiny - 2014

Activision spent $500 million on the development and promotion of Destiny, the most expensive game ever made. Destiny cost more than most summer blockbusters!


2. Grand Theft Auto V - 2013

In Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V, you can hijack an armored truck. The game's developers might've had to do the same, given the $265 million price tag on the open-world action game.


3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was an incredibly successful game that cost about $50 million to develop. Add on $200 million on launch and marketing costs, you've got a quarter-mil invested.


4. Star Wars: The Old Republic - 2011

The Star Wars MMORPG was developed by more than 800 people over six years and cost $200 million.


5. Final Fantasy VII - 1997

Spending $145 million on a game made in the '90s is hard to wrap your mind around. At least the final product was one of the best RPGs of all time.


6. Shenmue II - 2001

The sequel to the original Shenmue cost $132 million.


7. Max Payne 3 - 2012

The gritty shooter from Rockstar was a $105 million expenditure for the developer. It sure was a better use of money than the movie.


8. Grand Theft Auto IV - 2008

Back in 2008, Grand Theft Auto IV was the most expensive game of all time, at $100M. Now that figure looks minuscule in comparison to other games' big budgets.


9. Too Human - 2008

The Xbox 360 exclusive cost developer Silicon Knights $100 million to make. A sequel to the expensive original is reportedly in the works.


10. Red Dead Redemption - 2010

Red Dead Redemption will go down as one of Rockstar's greatest efforts. Venturing into the wild, wild west tallied $100 million for the GTA developer.


11. Disney Infinity - 2013

Disney put more than $100 million into the Infinity franchise. Disney Infinity uses various figurines that sync with the game and allow custom, interchangeable gameplay.


12. Deadpool - 2013

Activision's High Moon Studios spent an estimated $100 million on Deadpool. Unfortunately, the game was released to less-than-stellar reviews.


13. Tomb Raider - 2013

Reboots are never cheap, but they can definitely be worth it. This fresh take on the Tomb Raider franchise revitalized the game series and was well worth the $100 million price.


14. Defiance - 2013

Defiance was born out of a convergence of television and video games. Based on SyFy's series of the same name, an MMORPG was released at a price tag of $80 million.


15. Shenmue - 1999

An extremely pricey game to make at $70 million, Shenmue took seven years to develop and sold just 1.2 million copies.


16. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - 2008

With the amount of detail packed into Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, it's shocking that Konami was able to bring it to the masses for just $70 million.


17. Watch Dogs - 2014

Watch Dogs was long in development before its release in 2014. The open-world hacking adventure cost $68 million to make.


18. Crysis 3 - 2013

According to the Crytek CEO, the third installment in the Crysis series cost three times the original. That puts the charge at $66 million for one beautifully constructed game.


19. Final Fantasy XIII - 2009

The 2009 RPG from Square Enix cost the Japanese developer $65 million to produce.


20. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier - 2012

The third-person cover-based shooter by Ubisoft comes in at $65 million.


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The 12 Most Frustrating Video Game Challenges Ever

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-05-29 19:00

1. Emerald Graves rift

Dragon Age: Inquisition players, a warning: If you venture out into the Emerald Graves too early, you regret it soon enough, thanks to an oddly stubborn fade rift with demons that dole out almost instant death.


2. The Great Palace

Who would have thought that mere birds could burn you from a distance in such an effective manner? In Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link, you find out.


3. Imperator Mar'gok

The latest World of Warcraft expansion introduces players to a super-hard ogre mage. Some have complained that the two-headed foe is actually too hard, compared with the rest of the game.


4. The Water Temple

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time has an underwater level featuring tons of doors, keys, levers, locks … and tears.


5. Big Score Obvious Approach

Fans of Grand Theft Auto V cite this mission as quite the pain, especially when players choose the higher-paying “obvious approach.” No wonder it pays $201.6 million.


6. The Great Maze

Don’t you just love facing off against all the bosses you’ve already killed? The creators of Super Smash Bros. Brawl seemed to think we would.


7. Tubular

In ‘80s-speak, tubular means “great.” Among Super Mario Bros. fans? Not so much.


8. Your random Dragon Priest

In Skyrim, some floating undead baddies can sport serious armor (such as powerful masks), not to mention very high magic skills.


9. Truth and Reconciliation

It can be tough to decide which task is the hardest in Halo: Combat Evolved. But plenty of fans still shudder when they recall this rescue mission, which is the first level in the game to introduce Hunters, Zealot Elites and Stealth Elites.


10. Chamber 18

As if this Portal room, packed with turrets and laser beams, isn’t taxing enough, you also get to hear GlaDOS threaten, “You will be baked and then there will be cake.” Thanks. Thanks a lot.


11. Master Core

This Super Smash Bros. boss eventually morphs into a candy-hued orb. Think that a gobstopper-colored ball is all pleasant and sweet just because it has pretty colors? Just try defeating it at level 9 intensity.


12. The Ender Dragon

Minecraft devotees know that defeating this boss isn’t just about hitting it; you also have to keep it away from ender crystals, which heal the creature.


12. Level 65

Candy is supposed to be fun. Candy is supposed to be a treat. But Level 65 of Candy Crush Saga is routinely described by players as quite the opposite of all that.


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18 Twitch Streams You Need to Watch if You Love Games

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-05-29 18:59

1. FeliciaDay

Twitch video game streamers are a colorful mixture of amateurs and pros all sharing the games they love. If you're new to Twitch, though, it can be a bit intimidating to find someone to watch. A pro like Felicia Day, famous for her hit series The Guild, has a charming and personable style. It's a great place to start before you jump into the weirder stuff.


2. TheMexicanRunner

The Mexican Runner is a man on a mission: play through and beat every single NES game ever released. Despite facing one of the hardest game catalogs of any system, this world record holder tenaciously marches forward. A must watch.


3. FishPlayStreetFighter

Nothing quite makes you feel like the future has arrived than watching a pair of fish compete in a game of Street Fighter live over the internet. It's a channel that lives up to its title, thanks to the ingenuity of their owner, who's mapped control inputs to sections of their fish tank. Take a moment to reflect on the wondrously strange world we live in.


4. Srwfe

If you thought Dark Souls was hard, try playing through the game using only your feet while millions watch in nervous anticipation. Even if you don't speak Mandarin or Taiwanese, watching Srwfe's amazing dexterity transcends national boundaries.


5. rabbitbong

Yoni has a diverse taste in games, ranging from League of Legends and Counter-Strike to more artsy fare like Child of Light. If you tune in often enough, you can even catch her singing impromptu renditions of They Might Be Giants songs.


6. GamesDoneQuick

Twitch has a ton of renown speed runners who plow through games with inhuman concentration and reflexes. Games Done Quick showcases a lot of these talented players while simultaneously raising money for charities like Doctors Without Borders and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Incredible skills for an incredible cause.


7. IdleThumbs

Idle Thumbs is mainly known for their highly literate (and frequently silly) podcast, but their Twitch channel has gotten some much-needed attention with the recent addition of cast member Danielle Riendeau. You can catch obscure indie games, Bloodborne, Spelunky runs and more.


8. LAGTVMaximusBlack

Maximus Black became famous for his dual-lightsaber-wielding musical performances while comfortably dressed in authentic chain mail. If you need your game streaming laced with a healthy dose of absurdity, this is the fella for you.


9. itsHafu

Hafu became famous as a professional gamer with respectable showings in League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and most notably, Hearthstone. One of the coolest things about Twitch is watching pro players who are great at what they do and picking up some of their techniques.


10. TeamSp00ky

TeamSp00ky are the undisputed kings of the Twitch fighting game scene. They've been busy with Ultra Street Fighter IV, Mortal Kombat X, and Smash U lately. Make sure to tune in if you want to keep on top of the latest fighting game tournaments and events.


11. Virus610

Later this year, Nintendo is releasing a cool creator's tool called Mario Maker, It allows you to design your own Mario levels. There's already a thriving community of Mario ROM hacks, so if you want to explore the scene early, Virus610 has a great channel that regularly explores the strangest and most creative homemade Super Mario World tweaks.


12. StreamerHouse

It's like The Real World of video game streaming: A collection of gamers combined forces to set up more than 20 cameras in their house for 24/7 video game streaming. It's largely a novelty act, but you gotta respect the commitment to the cause.


13. Greenspeak

Jeff Green is a venerable games writer known for his work as editor-in-chief for Computer Gaming World magazine. He's also amassed quite a following for his amateur Dark Souls and Bloodborne streams on Twitch. With his decades of industry experience and hilarious style, Jeff runs circles around some of the younger subscription-obsessed streamers.


14. XeroKynos

Everyone with a soft spot for Final Fantasy should check out XeroKynos, who speedruns Final Fantasy VII, VIII & IX in gigantic one-sitting marathons. It's a fun way to relive memories of the classics with simply the best player around.


15. AriaBlarg

Aria Blag is a fun streamer whose infectious love for games really shines through. Her adorable family often shows up while she plays cute and odd titles such as Chulip, or Nintendo classics like Pokemon. She's also a talented painter, and you can frequently catch her crafting art that honors her favorite games.


16. DansGaming

Dan's channel exploded during his now-famous month-long horror game marathons. But he's still a regular guy with a down-to-earth sense of humor. He's currently playing a lot of Witcher in preparation for Witcher 3's release.


17. Tapezilla

Tapezilla grew out of a podcast supergroup, which, in turn, formed out of former IGN, 1up and Expert Gamer personalities. Now they're a successful Twitch stream with a good variety of retro games and newer releases. Come for the great game conversations. Stay for the randy dinosaur imagery.


18. missharvey

Stephanie "missharvey" Harvey is another pro player you'll want to watch, just to absorb her technical wizardry. She completely destroys at Counter-Strike, and she has a fun hosting style as well.


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Sega vs. Nintendo: A History of the Epic Video Game Rivalry

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-05-29 18:59

The Battle Begins

Nintendo launched in 1889 as a Japanese playing card manufacturer, while Sega had its roots in 1940 as a Hawaii-based jukebox and slot machine distributor. Neither company foresaw it at the time, but the two would ultimately grow into giant entertainment corporations, sparking an intense rivalry that would define video games and pop culture for decades.


Sega's Opening Salvo: Periscope

After the fledgling Hawaiian company Service Games joined forces with an entrepreneur in Tokyo, the duo rebranded themselves as Sega. Sega achieved its first big hit in interactive entertainment with a submarine simulator game called Periscope. The electro-mechanical game was a success across Europe and the US in 1966.


Fonzie Puts the "Aaaaay" in Sega

Sega became a huge name in the video game arcade boom of the 1970s. One of the company's more popular games was Fonz, a Happy Days rebranding of the motorcycle racing game Moto-Cross. By the end of the 70s, Sega had already achieved annual sales of $100 million.


Nintendo Tests the Home Game Market

Nintendo initially struggled to compete in an arcade scene dominated by Sega's machines and Taito's Space Invaders. But Nintendo did make an early attempt at a Japanese home console, the "Color TV-Game" in 1977. It was essentially a variation on Pong, and it became popular enough to sell 3 million units.


Nintendo's Game & Watch

After a modest success with the Color TV-Game, Nintendo tried its hand at a portable electronic game with an LCD screen in 1980. You'll probably recognize the hero Mr. Game & Watch from the Smash Bros. series. The Game & Watch became a phenomenon, with Nintendo selling more than 43 million units worldwide.


Nintendo Struggles With Arcade Games ... Until Donkey Kong

Nintendo had made some attempts to enter the arcade market in the seventies, but nothing really caught on for them until the revolutionary Donkey Kong in 1981, designed by young company artist Shigeru Miyamoto.


Sega Creates a Home Console

By 1983, the arcade market suffered a downturn, prompting Sega to branch out with its first home console, the SG-1000. It only sold 2 million units in Japan, but it did offer some notable games. Giri's Garden would be first title created by Yuji Naka, who would later design Sonic the Hedgehog.


Nintendo Overshadows Sega With the Famicom's Debut

Sega launched its SG-1000 in 1983. But unfortunately for the company, Nintendo released its own product on the same day: the Famicom, its most successful offering to date. In its first year, the home console featured games like Popeye, Donkey Kong, and Baseball, all of which dominated home software sales in Japan.


Nintendo Revives the American Game Market With the NES

In 1985, the US game industry was in shambles. Atari had driven the market to over-saturation, spurring bankruptcies and general public apathy. But then Nintendo introduced the Famicom to the West as the "Nintendo Entertainment System," with careful branding that positioned the machine as a control deck instead of a video game console.


Nintendo Ushers in the Era of Blockbuster Home Console Hits

With its uniquely creative games, Nintendo quickly gained a foothold in the US. Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda went on to sell a total of 46 million copies combined, boosting the success of Nintendo's NES.


Nintendo of America Celebrates its Success

Above, the president and founder of Nintendo of America, Minoru Arakawa, stands next to a row of popular NES Games. Super Mario Bros. 3 became Nintendo's bestselling stand-alone game, selling 18 million copies, ultimately pushing its 8-bit system to 61 million units sold worldwide. Many credit Nintendo's success with reviving the video game industry in the mid-80s.


Sega Releases the 8-bit Master System

After dominating arcade sales, the tables turned on Sega in the home market. Sega released an 8-bit Master System for the U.S. market in 1986, but Nintendo's stranglehold proved tough to beat. The Master System was still a modest success for Sega, though, eventually selling 13 million units worldwide.


Sega's Standout Software Struggles for Attention

The Sega Master System had a hard time achieving the same attention as the NES, but its software library still excelled at delivering artistic experiences. Alex Kidd, Sega's answer to Mario, starred in a complex adventure, and Phantasy Star went on to become one of the most respected RPG series of all time.


Nintendo Starts the Handheld War

Seeking to replicate the portable success of Game & Watch, Nintendo introduced the black and white handheld Game Boy on July 31st of 1989. Propelled by the popularity of the packed-in game Tetris, the Game Boy sold a staggering 118 million units worldwide.


Sega Genesis Enters The 16-Bit Race First

While Nintendo was busy launching the Game Boy, Sega began a foray into the next generation of home consoles. The tech in Sega's 16-bit Genesis was a significant step up from both the Master System and the NES. Its early launch was a smart move that gave Sega a home-field advantage in the coming 16-bit war.


Sonic The Hedgehog Spins Circles Around the Competition

After two decades of making games, Sega had yet to create a pop culture icon a la Mario. That all changed when Sega designer Yuji Naka helped create Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991. The Genesis game was blisteringly fast, like nothing that had come before. He made the 8-bit Mario seem antiquated by comparison.


Sega Battles the Game Boy

As Sega gained confidence, the company entered into direct competition with Nintendo's Game Boy by releasing its own handheld device in April 1991: the Game Gear. The Game Gear had a backlit color screen and was significantly more advanced than the Game Boy, but the system's short battery life and small game catalog weakened its appeal. It ultimately sold 11 million units.


Nintendo Counters Sega With the Super NES

Two years after the Sega Genesis was released, Nintendo finally released its 16-bit system: Super NES. Early titles like F-Zero and Pilotwings showed off an impressive range of colors and flashy visuals.


Miyamoto Demonstrates Super Mario World

The premier showcase for the Super NES was the next installment in Nintendo's popular Mario series, Super Mario World. It was a critical success and sold 20 million copies (largely as a pack-in title with the system). But the Nintendo mascot also faced serious opposition for the first time. Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog had already begun to mark his territory.


Shots Fired as Sega Delivers an Aggressive Ad Campaign

Because Sega had launched the Sega Genesis so early, it had a robust catalog of quality action and sports games to counter the Super Nintendo's fledgling library. Sega capitalized on this with a snarky ad campaign brashly mocking Nintendo for being behind the times. The ads cemented Sega's reputation as the "cooler" company.


Sega Cultivates a Violent Edge

Action titles like Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and Altered Beast showed off Sega's edgier side. Nintendo's Super NES certainly had similar games, such as Final Fight, but only Sega integrated the violent content into its brand. Sega successfully positioned itself as the sophisticated alternative to Nintendo's lighthearted fare.


Super Mario Kart Gives Nintendo a Boost

As the Genesis racked up gritty, high-octane racing titles like Road Rash, Nintendo stuck to its milder, kid-friendly games. On September 1st, 1992, Nintendo released Super Mario Kart, a highly polished racing game featuring its cute mascots. The game went onto become a top-seller, pushing nearly 9 million units.


Genesis Goes for the Jugular

The title that most exemplified the difference between Sega and Nintendo was the brutal fighting game Mortal Kombat. Violence in video games had grown into a controversial topic, and Nintendo would only allow Mortal Kombat on its system with the blood effects censored into harmless grey sweat. The Genesis version contained a "blood code" that allowed players to perform all the gruesome fatalities from the arcade game.


Sonic 2 Launches Around the World

As the battle between the two game companies intensified, Sega initiated an unprecedented $10 million ad campaign to launch Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonic 2 released on Tuesday, November 21, 1992, branded as "Sonic 2sday." It was one of the first games to receive a worldwide simultaneous launch, and went on to sell more than 6 million copies.


Donkey Kong Country Barrel-Rolls the Competition

For a while, it seemed the Sega Genesis had taken the lead between the two 16-bit systems. But Nintendo delivered a late knockout punch with Donkey Kong Country, far surpassing the spectacular sales of Sonic 2 and Sonic 3. Donkey Kong Country 2 even took a swipe at Sega by including a picture of Sonic's iconic running shoes near a trash can.


So Who Won the 16-Bit War?

The "winner" of the intense battle depends on your criteria, because both the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo have incredibly diverse libraries that contributed significantly to games as an art form. But in strict sales terms, the Super NES gets the edge, with 49.10 million consoles sold, versus an estimated 40 million for the Genesis.


Sega Unleashes an Avalanche of Add-Ons

Sometimes history doesn't repeat itself. Releasing new technology early helped Sega gain the 16-bit advantage. But fresher advancements, such as the Sega CD and 32X add-ons, failed to capture much attention and only served to fragment Sega's audience.


The Nintendo Virtual Boy Lands With a Thud

Nintendo wasn't without its own high-profile flops. In 1995, the company released the Virtual Boy, a 3D game console with red and black graphics that induced headaches and eyestrain in most players. It became Nintendo's biggest commercial failure, selling only 770,000 units worldwide.


The Sega Saturn Fumbles Out of the Gate

Sega continued to flounder after the back-to-back failures of the Sega CD and 32X. In a surprise E3 announcement in 1995 that caught even its own employees off-guard, Sega declared that its new console was available immediately on store shelves. The distribution of the Sega Saturn went poorly, angering retailers who were unprepared.


Sega Continues to Innovate With Stellar Software

While the Sega Saturn faced a bumpy road at retail, Sega continued to deliver on the software front with technology-pushing games such as the whimsical NiGHTS into Dreams, as well as an excellent arcade port of Virtua Fighter 2. Without a new Sonic game to push sales, though, the Saturn stagnated at 9 million units sold worldwide.


Nintendo Charts Its Own Path With the Nintendo 64

With CD-ROMs quickly becoming the prominent data storage medium, Nintendo made a surprise move: Sticking with the more expensive cartridge format for its next system, the Nintendo 64, in 1996. Third-party developers largely preferred the CD format. The result? Fewer games for the Nintendo 64.


Super Mario 64 Revolutionizes 3D Games

Nintendo 64 didn't light sales on fire, but the company's ingenuity in software design was still unparalleled. Super Mario 64, the first Mario game using a 3D perspective, is often cited as one of the greatest games ever made.


A New Challenger Appears

A lot of critics attribute Sega's downfall to its disorganized console strategy in the mid-90s. But when the Sony PlayStation entered the console market in September of 1995, it was a complete wrecking ball, demolishing previous sales records. With huge hits like Final Fantasy VII and Gran Turismo, the PlayStation sold 102 million units worldwide, more than double the total of the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn combined.


Sega Launches Its Final Console

Sega had always been a more daring company compared with the competition. With Sega's final console, the Dreamcast, the company continued to innovate, even if it meant rushing to market in 1999. The Dreamcast was the first console of the sixth generation, and it featured a built-in modem for online play, a unique VMU controller display, and an excellent, if small, game library.


Sega Announces Its Withdrawal From the Console Race

After achieving unsatisfying sales with the Dreamcast, Sega COO Hideki Sato announced in January of 2001 that his company would cease production of the system and exit the console market. With only 10.6 million units sold, Sega had simply suffered too many financial losses to continue.


Nintendo Holds on to Hope With the GameCube

In many ways, Sega bowing out of the console race gave Nintendo just enough room to compete against Sony's Playstation 2 and Microsoft's new Xbox console. In November of 2001, Nintendo introduced the GameCube, which went on to sell 21.74 million units worldwide. It was enough to keep the company above water ... until the unprecedented success of the Wii many years later.


A Sign of the Times as an Era Concludes

In 2002, Sonic Advance became the first Sega game developed for a Nintendo system. It's a development many gamers never thought they would see. Sega lost the hardware battle to Nintendo, but Sega's legacy lives on through an extensive software library that pushed the medium to its creative limits.


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GS News Top 5 - Need for Speed Will Require Internet Connection; Women Teams Coming to FIFA 16

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-05-29 18:56
Resident Evil Zero is getting an HD remake; images of the new Xbox controller may have been discovered; and to get the best experience with Oculus Rift could cost $1,500.
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Bad Ending (SPOILERS) - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 18:37
IGN shows you the most negative outcome to the main story of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. For more on TW3, check out our full wiki on IGN @ http://www.ign.com/wikis/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt
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Magicka 2 Review

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-05-29 18:36

Put Magicka 2 next to its 2011 predecessor and you’ve got a before-and-after comparison straight out of a weight-loss advertising campaign. The new-and-improved version is leaner, meaner, and better looking, but just like in those ad photos, at the end of the day this is still the same guy with a few less pounds and a spray-on tan. As a fan of the cult franchise, I don’t consider this a disappointment. I’m happy with more of the same because this new demonstration of wizard-bursting carnage features the same skill-based magic system and catchy co-operative modes of play that made the original play like Dungeons and Dragons on crank in a slaughterhouse. Still, there isn’t much new here aside from expected refinements, like smoother controls and better visuals, and plenty of added frustration from bugs and the extreme difficulty for single players.

Anyone who played the first Magicka will see a lot that’s familiar here. This is pretty much the same magical combat experience, with colorful cowled wizards slinging spells at a veritable Monster Manual lineup of goblins, orcs, ents, gun-toting demons, and more. As before, the essence of the game can be summed up with its control mechanics. While this looks like the usual rip-off of an action RPG, there are no experience points, no inventory, no need to smash open chests to get at the enchanted goodies inside, or anything else that might be the provenance of Diablo and its successors. All that’s between you and the bad guys are eight magical elements (accessed via the QWER and ASDF banks of keys or via the buttons on a gamepad, if you swing that way) that are called up and thrown together into combos to create dozens of spell effects you can cast on yourself, enemies, or the area at large.

As a result, combat is almost entirely skill-based, depending on how swift you are with a keyboard. You can dumb things down and hammer on single elements for spells. Hit Arcane, and you launch a death beam. Fire activates a mystical flamethrower, Water calls up a spout of H2O, and so forth. But that won’t get you very far due to the sheer number of monsters. You need to do a lot of experimenting to make the most of your spellcasting.

This means that combat quickly grows complex. You can use up to five elements at once. Some are good matches, while others are opposites (oddly enough, Water and Lightning don’t mix well). Add Cold to Shield, and you get a frozen barrier. Use Earth and Fire to launch flaming boulders at foes. But you’ve really got to play around with the spells (or do some online searching) to get a grip on the powerful spell effects generated by using more than two elements. And you’ve gotta dance on the keys like you’re a latter-day Mavis Beacon or you won’t be able to keep up with the enemy hordes.

As with the first game, Magicka 2 also features superpowered “magicks” that take incantations to the next level. The one big difference here is that these spells can be accessed via hotkeys rather than having to type in a challenging combination of three or more keys. This removes some of the skill from the game in that you don’t have to splay your fingers all over the keyboard to cast Haste or Thunderbolt. It also takes away some of the fun, especially for the overly dextrous. Before, you were only limited by the speed of your fingers. Now, each of these magicks is subject to a cooldown period.

Calling down powerful magicks can be helpful in spots, but only if you’re extremely adroit with the eight keys that control spells.

Still, these instant-access magicks seem to make a positive change overall. Anything that eases the steep learning curve for the average player can only be a good thing, especially given the challenge of the core spell-casting system. You can still use the key combos if you want (although the cooldown period is still in effect, so there’s little point in doing things the hard way).

Speaking of a challenge, Magicka 2 is even harder than its predecessor, which is really saying something. Both the adventure campaign and the one-off Challenge scenarios against waves of monsters are brutally tough when you’re going solo. I found it unplayable after the fourth chapter, where I encountered swarms of creatures that wiped me out again and again. Casual players and those who want to go it alone desperately need an easier difficulty setting.

Aspects of the campaign are sadistically punitive. Levels have been designed as killing floors where retreat is routinely blocked off. Every battle plays out the same way. You walk over a trigger point. This kicks off a huge monster onslaught. Overwhelming enemy numbers force you to retreat. Then the game refuses to let you go any farther, even though there is no visible reason why you can’t go back down a cave tunnel or forest path that you just traversed seconds before. Seconds later, you’re dead.

That Magicka sense of humor returns.

I can’t understand why the developers chose to cut off escape routes like this and make battles so cramped. It is totally unnecessary and does nothing but push the game beyond any sort of reasonable difficulty level. In addition, closing down the ability to freewheel really affects the gameplay, turning battles into mindless drudgery where you constantly run away, pausing only to lay down bombs and shields in your wake or heal up.

Thank Odin for co-op. The only way to really enjoy (and survive) Magicka 2 is by joining up to three other mages either online or locally and tackling the campaign or challenges together. This doesn’t turn levels into a cakewalk, but adding even one buddy turns unwinnable scraps against giant orcs and their pals into tough but manageable battle royales that are a blast to play. It’s easy to log in and play with two or three strangers in seconds.

Every match is a chaotic free-for-all that moves swiftly, with zero to very little slowdown even in the most insane battles with mobs of monsters. The one drawback is that everything is so nuts with explosions and death beams and gibbed mages that you can easily lose track of where you are on the screen. It’s clear that the developers intended players to experience Magicka 2 in co-op, although it’s a shame that they didn’t scale the difficulty better so solo players could get the most out of the game. Incidentally, there is no versus mode here, likely because of the team-based multiplayer focus of sister game Magicka: Wizard Wars.

Magicka 2 is even harder than its predecessor, which is really saying something.

Other changes are fairly minor. Movement is now smoother, and you can cast spells and run at the same time. You can pick a location, click to run to it, and then blast away at trailing enemies as you shuffle backwards. I found this incredibly helpful when retreating from crowds of monsters (well, at least until the game decided not to let me back up any farther). The old checkpoint save system has been automated with regular save locations that prevent a fair bit of backtracking (although there are some aggravating moments, and you are always set too far back if you get killed during boss battles). You can use unlockable artifacts to tweak gameplay, offering the ability to adjust everything from your health to enemy attacks and introducing goofy frills, like adding sitcom laughter to deaths. It’s an interesting concept, although I didn’t experiment much here. Artifacts seem to hold promise in boosting replayability, though.

Visuals and sound are in the same ballpark as the original game, although the graphics are more colorful and better detailed and the sound is a little more amped up and cartoony. As with the first game, there is a pleasant atmosphere to everything, with a bright color palette, NPCs speaking gibberish, and constant self-lampooning jokes--right up until the moment the first wizard explodes into shreds of red goo. Nothing here is funny in a laugh-out-loud way, although the combination of good cheer and bloody murder is twisted enough to raise a few smiles.

Playing cooperatively is the only way to experience the murderous mayhem that is Magicka 2.

Bugs are something of a concern. The game is stable enough that I didn’t experience any crashes, but I did run into a couple of glitches playing solo. Every so often, getting killed by the exit to a level’s section during the campaign would throw me into the next section as if I’d slain the bad guys. Given the spectacular difficulty of many of these fights, I wasn’t complaining. Still, there’s obviously a bug here.

Respawning is messed up in solo play. Almost without fail, getting killed once in the midst of a mob of enemies results in getting killed twice in the midst of a mob of enemies because you always respawn within inches of where you were murdered in the first place. To make matters even worse, you can sustain damage almost from the moment you appear, and magicks (including Haste, which is spectacularly useful in these situations), are greyed out for what seems like a thousand years after you pop back into existence. Because getting taken out twice sends you back to a save point, this automatic second strike is incredibly annoying.

Battles can get just a teensy bit chaotic, especially in Magicka 2 co-op, which is really the best and only way to experience the game.

A lot of the discussion above sounds pretty negative. That’s with good reason--I have to admit that at many times, solo Magicka 2 almost made me throw my mouse through my office window. But the terrific magic system, joyous carnage, and the ability to ditch single-player for the vastly more enjoyable co-op rescued the game and made it almost as compelling as the typical “after” model featured in a late-night infomercial. If you’re a social type, this is a must-play. But loners might want to give this one a pass, at least until the developers scale the difficulty better for single mages.

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Uncharted 4 Gets Release Window and Silent Hills Publisher Konami Apologizes - IGN Daily Fix

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 18:00
Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End gets a release window and Konami issues an apology. Meanwhile pictures of the revamped X1 controller surface and Need for Speed Reboot is to require online connection.
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Ultra Street Fighter IV - Guile vs Ken on PS4 at 1080p 60

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-05-29 17:59
Watch Ken take on Guile in the new port of Ultra Street Fighter IV on the PlayStation 4.
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The Witcher 3 XP Glitch Will Be Fixed Next Week

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 17:56

A fix for an experience points glitch affecting a number of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt players will be deployed Monday on PC. The glitch will then be addressed on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the following days as part of Patch 1.04.

According to a post made by a CD Projekt Red gameplay designer on the official Witcher 3 forums, players encountering the problem aren't being rewarded XP after completing certain quests that are six or more levels below their own. The developer is looking into retroactively rewarding players the XP they should have earned, according to the studio's community lead, Marcin Momot. However, he's careful to note he can't make any promises.

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Evolve Will Be 'Another Permanent IP' For Take-Two - IGN News

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 17:50
Evolve, the 4v1 asymmetric shooter from developer Turtle Rock Studios, joins the ranks of Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Borderlands as another one of publisher Take-Two Interactive's "permanent" franchises.
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Sony's 2015 PS4 First Party Lineup and New Xbox One Controller - IGN Daily Fix

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 17:45
This week's top 5 gaming news highlights Sony's light 2015 PS4 first party lineup, Microsoft's new Xbox One controller, PS Plus/Games with Gold titles, and more.
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Witcher 3 Script Is 4x Bigger than a Novel - IGN News

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 17:43
Considering your average novel is about 80,000 to 100,000 words, the 450,000 words in The Witcher 3 script should give you some idea of its length and scope.
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Fans Welcome at E3 This Year, But There's a Catch

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 17:33

This year's E3 in Los Angeles will see the premiere of not just countless games, but also public access to the industry's biggest event.

According to a report on Polygon, between 4,000 and 5,000 fans will be granted invite-only access to the show floor. Full-access passes will be passed out by Entertainment Software Association member companies.

The report says that the number of passes given out is based on the size of a company's booth, so companies with a larger show presence, and therefore those with the largest monetary investment in the show, will have the most passes.

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Side Quest: Contract: Woodland Beast - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Walkthrough

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 17:20
IGN guides you through the Velen side quest: Contract: Woodland Beast, in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. For more on TW3, check out our full wiki on IGN @ http://www.ign.com/wikis/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt
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Side Quest: Starving Children - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Walkthrough

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-05-29 17:20
IGN guides you through the Velen side quest: Starving Children, in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. For more on TW3, check out our full wiki on IGN @ http://www.ign.com/wikis/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt
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