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Capcom Producer Talks Street Fighter V Charlie Nash and Roster

IGN.com - Sat, 2015-01-31 18:22

Street Fighter V Producer Yoshinori Ono has offered some insight into the character roster building process for the upcoming Capcom fighting game in an interview at the Taipei Game Show 2015.

Ono says community input is being considered regarding the roster and potential returning characters, according to a translation of Famitsu provided to Shoryuken. However, he expressed a desire to keep the Street Fighter V roster smaller in an effort to provide an easier point of entry for new players, as well as to keep development production costs down.

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Mario Maker May Launch Later Than We Expected

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 17:42

Mario Maker, the Wii U game that will allow players to create their own Mario levels, may arrive later than we've expected.

The game was scheduled to release in the first half of 2015 when it was first announced at E3 2014, and is still listed with that release window on Nintendo's site. However, Nintendo's recent earnings release for the nine-month period that ended on December 2014 includes a list of the company's upcoming games and launch dates, which now shows Mario Maker with the less specific release date of "2015."

Project Guard, legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto's experimental tower-defense game that relies heavily on the Wii U gamepad, which was also scheduled to release in the first half of 2015, no has a "2015" release date as well.

For more on Project Guard, check out our hands-on impression of the game from E3, and for more on Mario Maker, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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Watch Star Citizen Devs Talk Wormholes, In-Game AR, and Much More

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 13:58

Last week, Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games held its 2015 Town Hall presentation at PAX South, where it discussed various aspects of the space sim at length. Yesterday, Cloud Imperium uploaded videos of the presentation to YouTube, where you can watch the developers discuss the game's wormholes, persistent universe, and much more.

In the first part of the persistent universe presentation (above), you can see some early NPC character models, and early concept footage of what jump point navigation will look like. It also includes footage of Star Citizen's in-game AR, MobiGlas. It's a functional, contextual interface solution for shopping, accessing information, and any other part of the game where you'd need a menu or head-up display (HUD). You can read an exhaustive explanation of the team's plan for MobiGlass on Star Citizen's website.

Overall there's around six hours Star Citizen talk, which you can find in the links below

Star Citizen, which is already the most successful crowdfunded project in history, is now closing in on $72 million, up from $70 million just a week ago.

For more on Star Citizen and Roberts himself, check out part one and part two of GameSpot's interview with the legendary designer.

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When Will Shovel Knight Come to PlayStation Vita? - Podcast Beyond

IGN.com - Sat, 2015-01-31 13:30
The Beyond crew makes their predictions.
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What Dragon Age's Success Means for Mass Effect 4 - Podcast Unlocked

IGN.com - Sat, 2015-01-31 13:00
Dragon Age: Inquisition was BioWare's "most successful launch." And that's good news for Mass Effect 4.
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Twitch Hits 100 Million Monthly Viewers

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 12:27

Last year, Twitch hit the impressive milestone of 100 million unique viewers per month, the games streaming service has announced.

Twitch launched a little website yesterday highlighting that impressive number and other stats from 2014. Last year, the site also hit a peak of 1 million concurrent viewers, 11 million total videos broadcast per month, and 1.5 million unique broadcasters per month.

You can see the most impressive milestones in the image above, and check out the full 2014 report on Twitch's website. If nothing else, it help to explain why Amazon, which bought the company in August of last year, thought it was worth $1 billion.

Earlier this month, Twitch introduced Twitch Music, a library of 500 of pre-cleared, mostly EDM songs that streamers can use without having to worry about copyright infringement.

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Square Enix's Project Code Z Is a New, PS4-Exclusive Spelunker

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 12:01

A new Spelunker game, Minna de Spelunker Z, is coming exclusively to the PlayStation 4, publisher Square Enix has announced.

Earlier this week, the Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider publisher launched a teaser website for an upcoming game with the working title "Project Code Z." Today, during the Tokaigi 2015 event in Japan, the company revealed that game is based on the original Spelunker, which was first released in 1983.

These days, you might better recognize Spelunker's gameplay from a more recent popular game it inspired, Spelunky. As you can see in the trailer above, much like Spelunky, Spelunker is a 2D platformer, where you venture into a cave, jump around, climb ropes, and collect treasure.

Minna de Spelunker Z is being developed by Tozai Games and will release in Japan on March 19. It will be free-to-play, and while it's not yet clear how Square Enix plans to monetize it, we can see an inventory system in the trailer where you can equip your character with different items and outfits.

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Alienware Alpha Review - GameTech

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 11:00
PC or Console? Alienware's $500 Alpha tries to tackle both.
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Alienware Alpha Review

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 11:00

Numerous Steam machines debuted at CES 2014, but Alienware's solution, the Alpha, stood out from the pack. It wasn't an underpowered or rebranded product, and it also wasn't sitting next to a four figure price tag. Alienware's little box looked to be the most viable looking console-sized and console-priced offering of the lot.

Alienware started shipping the Alpha late last year for $549 (the high-end version with a faster CPU, more RAM, and an SSD costs $849), but it recently cut that price down to $499. The Alpha is still more expensive than consoles, but also fairly cheap as far as gaming PCs go. Obviously it's not as powerful as the quintessential PC gaming tower, but it may give Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles a run for their money.

With a slightly overclocked 860M GPU based on Nvidia's GM107 chip (the same one that's found in Nvidia's 750 Ti desktop GPU), 4GB of RAM, and Intel's Core i3, the Alpha has all the makings of a good, entry level gaming PC. The 5400 RPM hard drive is a slight disappointment, and it's likely the source of the Alpha's occasionally long loading times. Otherwise, the rest of the components make for a surprisingly capable gaming PC given the Alpha's relatively low cost.

System SpecsHardwareAlienware AlphaCPUIntel Core i3-4130T @2.9GHzGPUModified Nvidia GTX 860MRAM4GB DDR3LStorage500GB 5400 RPM 2.5" Hard drive, 6Gb/s2794980-6327420925-alien.jpgPerformance

While the Alpha simply can't fulfill the desires of every PC gamer who dreams of pushing graphics settings to ultra, that doesn't mean that medium or high settings are out of reach. While you can get away with these settings at 1080p in most cases, you may need to kick the Alpha down to 720p if you want to inch closer to 60 frames per second and take advantage of greater lighting and post processing effects. Although Alpha's GPU supports 4K output, it can't realistically play games at such a demanding resolution. Despite its PC roots, the primary appeal of the Alpha is like that of a console, such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In the interest of competition, let's see how the Alpha fares against Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles.

Tomb Raider, 45-70 FPS: high settings, 1080p, FXAA, TressFX off, tessellation off
The Alpha can't handle advanced hair found in the PlayStation 4 version of Tomb Raider, but it still handles the game quite well with high settings at 1080p, staying well above 30 frames per second.

Titanfall, 45-60 FPS, high settings, 1080p, 2x MSAA, bilinear texture filtering
Though the difference is only noticeable on occasion, the Alpha stands above the xbox One so far as Titanfall is concerned, one of the system's flagship games,

Watch Dogs, 35-50 FPS, medium settings, 1080p, texture quality high, antialiasing off, ambient occlusion off
The Alpha struggled a bit with Watch Dogs on high settings, so we had to dial the effects down a bit to hit a reasonable frame rate at 1080p. Still, next to the PlayStation 4 version, it's hard to notice any major differences.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, 35-45 FPS: High setings, 1080p, ambient occlusion on, tesselation on
Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor could have ran closer to 60 FPS on the Alpha with more conservative settings, but Alienware's little box stayed above 30 FPS when we turned on advanced settings like ambient occlusion and tessellation, remaining totally playable while looking good, too.

GameAlienware AlphaXbox OnePlayStation 4Tomb Raider1080p, 45-70 FPS1080p, 30 FPS1080p, 30-60 FPSTitanfall1080p, 45-60 FPS792p, 40-60 FPSn/aWatch Dogs1080p, 35-50 FPS792p, 30 FPS900p, 30 FPSMiddle-earth: Shadow of Mordor1080p, 34-45 FPS900p, 30 FPS1080p, 30 FPS

These tests make it clear that the Alpha is, on average, as capable as PS4 and Xbox One when it comes to sheer in-game performance. Unlike those systems, the Alpha's RAM and CPU are upgradeable. If you spend a little more money, you can push the Alpha further than we have in our tests, but at that point, $850, it may be worth investing in a traditional PC with a stronger GPU.

Is it a PC or a console?

Although some people refer to the Alpha as a console, it's driven by Microsoft Windows, a PC operating system, and with that the Alpha exhibits the same general capabilities and limitations as any other Windows gaming PC. What is unique about the Alpha, and why some consider it to be a console, is Alienware's custom user interface, which boots up on top of Windows and is 100% controller friendly.

2795079-vlcsnap-00002.jpg

Currently, the Alpha has only integrated Valve's Steam service within its UI, because Steam's Big Picture Mode makes it easy to access its marketplace your own library of games with only a controller. Neither EA's Origin nor Ubisoft's Uplay touts a controller friendly interface, and while they are still accessible through the Alpha's windows 8.1 desktop mode, there's no way to properly and seamlessly access games purchased through those services within Alienware's custom UI. In most cases, Ubisoft and EA games purchased directly through Steam will work without any problems. The only caveat: you may need to make use of the Alpha's virtual mouse mode.

Every Alpha comes with a wireless Xbox 360 controller that, with a simple hotkey combo, can function as a mouse using the left analog stick. It's handy when you need it, such as the initial setup when you power on the Alpha for the first time, but the need for such a feature reminds you that you are indeed using a PC and not a system that's completely controller friendly 100% of the time. The virtual mouse suffices, but it's not an elegant system.

Apart from the backlit Alienware logo, the Alpha is rather unassuming and less ostentatious than most of Alienware's other systems. If you don't like the color of the default backlight, or you want to turn off the lights completely, you only need to hop into the Alpha's settings menu and adjust the color to your liking.

The Alpha has the basics covered when it comes to connectivity. There are two USB 2.0 ports on the front of the box and two USB 3.0 ports on the back, right next to the ethernet, optical audio, and HDMI in and HDMI out ports. The HDMI in port is an unusual feature, but similar to the Xbox One, it lets the Alpha handle video passthrough from another device, such as a gaming console or Blu-ray player. Alienware hasn't invested in this feature as much as Microsoft--you won't find guide apps and the like that sync with your cable provider--, but its a handy feature to have just in case you run out of HDMI ports on your TV.

2795082-vlcsnap-00004.jpg

The Alpha doesn't offer an experience that's as composed or seamless as a console, but Alienware has done a decent job of consolizing the PC, outpacing the competition in some meaningful ways. The UI creates the illusion that using a console, and it's a disappearing act that almost works 100% of the time. Though you can't tap into Origin or Uplay within the Alpha's console mode, you can if you boot into the Window's desktop. Though the Alpha isn't quite a console, it offers so much more as a PC than the Xbone One or PlayStation 4 ever could. Taking the Alpha out of the home theater and putting it on a desk with a mouse and keyboard open a wealth of functionality that cannot be overlooked. Apart from being able to upgrade the GPU and motherboard, you can do anything with the Alpha that you could with an equally powerful, traditional desktop computer.

With this in mind, the Alpha is a great value. It may be more expensive than consoles, but the difference of $100 is a small price to pay for a console-like gaming device that doubles as a Windows PC. If you like the convenience of the console experience, are interested in the hundreds of excellent games available on Steam, and could benefit from a new desktop PC, $500 is a very reasonable asking price. It may not blow consoles out of the water when it comes to performance, but it comes close. Manage your expectations accordingly and you won't be disappointed by the Alienware Alpha.

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Sony Teases Metal Gear Rising 2 -- Report

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 10:39

It looks like Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, the character action game spun off from the Metal Gear series, might be getting a sequel.

The news comes from the 2015 Taipei Game Show, where during a sizzle reel of PlayStation 4 games, the number two, stylized like the Metal Gear Rising logo, appeared for only a second. It appeared specifically during a short clip showing off the PS4 exclusive third-person shooter The Order: 1886. As the character was counting down, the Rising tease flashed on the screen when she said two. You can find the exact moment in this Twitch steam at the 2:46:33 mark.

Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima was at the show, but he didn't discuss Metal Gear Rising. However, looking at his Twitter account, Kojima has been meeting Metal Gear Rising and Bayonetta 2 developer Platinum games lately, most recently in December 14, 2014, when he met with Platinum President and CEO Tatsuya Minami.

Is it a confirmation? Far from it. It's a very subtle tease at best, but one that does seem to fit Metal Gear and Kojima's sensibility.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengence was released in 2013, and featured Raiden, the protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, instead of of Snake, and fast-paced action and an innovative slicing mechanic instead of stealth. GameSpot's review gave it an 8/10.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain launches in 2015 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A PC version of the open-world game is also in the works, but Konami has not announced a release date for it.

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Dead or Alive 5 Last Round Delayed, But Still No Online Multiplayer at Launch

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 09:33

Team Ninja's fighting game Dead or Alive 5 Last Round has been delayed on PC by more than a month, but it's online modes still won't be ready by launch, publisher Koei Tecmo has announced.

The game, which was originally slated to launch via Steam on February 17, has been pushed back to March 30.

"In appreciation for your patience, we'll be offering the Halloween 2013 Set (28 costumes) free of charge to all users who purchase Dead or Alive 5 Last Round on Steam," Koei Tecmo said, explaining that it pushed the game back in order to provide players with "the best experience possible."

However, this doesn't change Tecmo Koei's previous statement from back in December 2014 that the game will not have any of its online modes at launch. As the publisher said then "Online modes for Dead or Alive 5 Last Round will be added in a patch within 3 months of release."

Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja previously announced that Dead or Alive 5: Last Round will launch across Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 in North America on February 17, 2015. The game launches three days later on February 20 in Europe.

For more on the game, check out GameSpot's previous coverage of Dead or Alive 5 Last Round.

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How World of Warcraft Got Its Groove Back

IGN.com - Sat, 2015-01-31 08:00

World of Warcraft’s a curious creature. In the 10 years it’s been around, Blizzard’s MMO has been a genre-defining prodigy, an out-of-touch relic, and everything in between. From Leeroy Jenkins to the birth of the word “pwn”, WoW even managed to transcend video gaming and enter the world of popular culture proper. The last few years, however, have seen a slow but steady decline in subscriber numbers, with a lot of former players inexplicably keen to see the game’s demise. The release of Warlords of Draenor seems to have reversed everything, with former players returning at an impressive rate and subscriptions rising above the 10 million mark for the first time since the September 2012 launch of Mists of Pandaria.

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Weekly Recap: Witcher 3 PS4/Xbox One Resolution, "Mind-Blowing" HoloLens Gaming

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 08:00

(Some Of) The Big Stuff:

Witcher 3 1080p On PS4, 900p On Xbox One: After numerous rumors, resolution details for CD Projekt Red's open-world role-playing game have finally been confirmed. The Polish developer announced this week that the game will run in 1080p/30fps on PlayStation 4 and 900p/30fps on Xbox One. The Witcher 3 launches this May.

Microsoft CEO Talks "Mind-Blowing" HoloLens Gaming Potential: CEO Satya Nadella this week talked about the company's new HoloLens augmented reality platform, teasing that it could have major implications for gaming. While Microsoft isn't talking specifics just yet, Nadella said: "Just imagine what is possible with Minecraft. Gaming truly is a valuable part of millions of people's lives and Microsoft will excel and increase our lead."

Read Nintendo's Response To Kid's Super Mario Bros. 4 Pitch: Here's a nice, heartwarming story to read over the weekend. An 11-year-old sent Nintendo a pitch for Super Mario Bros., which comprised a 13-page document with character descriptions and hand-drawn art. Nintendo declined to use his ideas, but wrote a compassionate, warm reply. D'awwww. Read the full reply here.

The Other Stuff (Stories We Like, But Didn't Cover With a Standalone Post):

PC MMO Star Trek Online has celebrated another milestone. This week, the game, developed by Cryptic Studios, celebrated its fifth anniversary. To celebrate, Cryptic and publisher Perfect World announced an in-game Anniversary Event (Jan. 28-Feb. 26), which will feature a new story episode highlighting Garrett Wang and Denise Crosby.

New DLC is now available for Gearbox's Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The Lady Hammerlock Pack expansion launched this week for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, introducing a new character--Lady Hammerlock--as well as a new weapon (sniper rifle) and a new skill called Cold As ice. You can buy the expansion today for $10.

How do all the Mario games fit together, in terms of an overall timeline? While Nintendo hasn't answered the question, one fan now has, creating this video (and this image timeline) explaining what he thinks is the correct chronological order. Check it out.

Uken Studios this week launched its latest mobile game, Titans, for iPhone and iPad as a free download. Haven't heard of Titans? Based on an original IP, Titans is a real-time card battle game that puts players into a fantasy world that has been conquered by an evil nation. You play a Master Alchemist and must forge an army to fight back. You can download the game today here.

Organizers of this year's Game Developers Choice Awards this week announced the first two special award winners for the year. The Ambassador Award, which honors someone who is actively involved in helping games "advanced to a better place" through advocacy or action is going to Brenda Romero. Meanwhile, the Pioneer Award, given to a person who has achieved breakthrough technology and game design milestones, will be given to Elite creator David Braben. Romero and Braben will accept the honors as part of the Game Developers Choice Awards on March 4 in San Francisco.

From the folks at Game Informer comes this wonderful interview with Naughty Dog key creative developers about the challenges of writing Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Grab a cup of coffee and watch the interview here. It will be worth it.

This fan-made Game of Thrones Miencraft world, WesterosCraft, continues to look amazing. This week, creators behind the project released a new video that shows the incredible progress they've made. Even if you aren't into Game of Thrones, this is still worth your attention.

The Game Awards, a new video game awards show from industry media veteran Geoff Keighley, will return in 2015 after the inaugural 2014 show. Keighley revealed the news on Twitter, saying he's already started putting together the event and will reveal more details this spring. What would you like to see from this year's show?

Science! New research from smart people at UC Davis says that gamers who play sports- and health-oriented video games are likely to try harder of they play with a trim avatar compared to a heavier one. You can read a summary of the research from Polygon.

En Masse Entertainment this week announced that MMO Tera is getting a guild housing system next month. Called the "Skycastle" system, Tera's housing system will come to the game via its next major content update that is currently scheduled to arrive February 25. In addition to the housing system, the update introduces a new 5v5 PvP Battleground, and a new airship dungeon, among other things.

The Irrational Games Store has been updated with a new item: BioShock shot glasses. The four glasses are focused on plasmids Electro Bolt, Incinerate, Insect Swarm, and Telekinesis. Buy the four-pack today for $20.

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences this week announced the full list of speakers for this year's DICE Awards, which will be held February 5 in Las Vegas. Without further ado...

  • Dr. Mike Capps, AIAS Board Member
  • Mark Cerny, PS4 Lead Architect, Cerny Games
  • Jessica Chobot, host, Nerdist News
  • Neil Druckmann, creative director, Naughty Dog
  • Richard Garriott de Cayeux, creative director, Portalarium
  • Rich Hilleman, chief creative director, Electronic Arts
  • Min Kim, executive vice president, Nexon Partners
  • Robin Hunicke, co-founder, Funomena
  • Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris creator
  • Ted Price, CEO and founder, Insomniac Games
  • Martin Rae, president, Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Jade Raymond, game developer
  • Chris Roberts, chief creative officer, Cloud Imperium Games
  • Brenda Romero, program director, UC Santa Cruz MS Games & Playable Media
  • John Romero, creative director, UC Santa Cruz MS Games & Playable Media
  • Glen Schofield, GM and co-founder, Sledgehammer Games
  • Chris Taylor, general manager, Wargaming Seattle
  • Nathan Vella, president, Capy Games
  • Ru Weerasuriya, chief executive and creative officer, Ready at Dawn Studios

Another DLC song is now available for dancing game Just Dance 2015. The track is Charli XCX's hit song "Boom Clap," which you can buy now on all platforms for $3.

Developer Little Orbit this week announced a new contest that invites players to design their own Adventure Time character for a chance to have it featured in the next Adventure Time game. Fans can now submit their artwork, along with a short character description, to Little Orbit for consideration. All you need to do is email your design in a .jpg file no larger than 5MB to atcontest@littleorbit.com. The contest closes February 17.

Want to try out upcoming Alone in the Dark game, Alone in the Dark: Illumination, ahead of its release later this year? If you do, you're in luck, as publisher Atari this week announced that anyone who pre-buys the PC game will gain entry to its beta testing period right away. Pre-buy the game today on Steam for $30.

PC shooter Block N Load developer Jagex this week announced a new skin for the character Nigel. The character skin is called "Old Scroll Nigel," and it's meant to showcase a "youthful" version of Nigel. The new skin is available now for anyone who bought the Fully Loaded Edition of Block N Load. Jagex has also this week released two new maps for Block N Load: The Last Bastion and Shuko Style. Check out Block N Load today on Steam.

League of Legends developer Riot Games this week released a free album of music based on the immensely popular PC game, featuring the new Amumu track, "The Curse of the Sad Mummy." You can listen to the album and buy it here. Alternatively, it's also available through iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.

Super Smash Bros. Kazoo Cover. Need I say more? Enjoy.

Valve announced on Monday a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament will be held at upcoming European gaming tournament ESL One Katowice 2015. The top qualifying teams will battle it out March 12-15 for a prize pool of $250,000. For more, check out: http://blog.counter-strike.net/

Here's a pretty good deal for WWE 2K fans. The latest game in the series, WWE 2K15, is now available through Walmart and Amazon for $40 across all platforms.

Have questions about The Elder Scrolls Online's recent announcement that the online game is dropping mandatory subscriptions? You're in luck, as developers from Zenimax Online Studios answered loads of questions about the business model change on Reddit. Read the full thing here.

Here are NBA logos as video game characters. We won't waste your time: click here to see them all. They are great. Enjoy.

Have a great weekend!

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Dying Light Review

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-01-31 01:04

Oh, Dying Light, how I love you. I love the way you let me leap across rooftops and climb tall towers like an acrobat with endless supplies of energy. I love how I can dropkick a zombie and watch its flailing body knock over others like a fleshy bowling ball. I love looking over my shoulder as I run through the darkness, only to see a crowd of undead sprinting towards me, growling hideously and baring their ghastly teeth.

But oh, Dying Light, how you irritate me. I hate you for the gunners that ambushed me as I swam underwater, because there was no way to know how to react until I emerged and discovered that I wasn't meant to peek my head out--not yet. I hate you for that time you filled the screen with so much haze and bloom during a boss fight that I couldn't see properly. I hate that sequence when you made me leap from one pole to another, because you made it hard to get a good look at my surroundings, and your button prompts are hardly generous. And I hate these moments most because your systems are strong enough to let the open-world gameplay do the heavy lifting. The harder you try to direct the action, the weaker you become.

Fight or flee? It's a decision as old as humanity itself.

If you count yourself among the Dead Island fandom, your expectations are already set. You understand developer Techland's inconsistencies, and you are prepared to disregard the chaff so that you may reap the grain. Dying Light spawns from the same pile of mutated freaks as Dead Island, but it establishes its separate identity early on. The first difference to become clear is in tone: where Dead Island's story was difficult to take seriously, Dying Light sets the stage for a dark drama with a city overrun with infected victims, and a desperate populace anxious for hospice and aid. There are light touches here and there: you stumble upon The Bites Motel, for instance, and magazine covers and other details offer plenty of sight gags. But you are meant to be fearful and cautious, and you are meant to empathize with the survivors working so hard just to stay alive, let alone thrive.

As a covert operative sent to the city of Harran to recover a secret file, you find yourself in over your head, playing triple agent as you run errands for the city's two primary factions while radioing information to your agency's head honcho. Death is always in the air, not just because the infected have overrun the city's two sizable explorable areas, but because the survivors are so weary, so close to defeat. Dying Light lumbers through one cliche after another, but it's perfectly palatable: expressive faces and decent voice acting make the story beats and cutscenes worth paying attention to, even when the specifics--the antihero with a heart of gold, the doctor close to discovering a cure, the power-hungry villain--fall solidly within been-there, done-that territory.

In the dark--but never alone.

Dying Light also sets itself apart with its parkour system, which sees you running across the city from a first-person perspective. It takes a short while to get used to climbing onto ledges, which requires you to be looking at them in the proper way. But then it's off to the races, and you're running across rooftops and sneering at the zombies below, most of which can't handle the climb. Rushing through the open world this way is terrific, due to solid (if not quite excellent) controls and well-constructed climbing and leaping paths, particularly in the game's second half, which takes place in the city's vertically-minded old town. Even better, the parkour energizes moments of great tension. Far Cry comparisons are easy, given how you unlock a few of the game's safe houses by climbing tall towers. But the climbing requires more finesse and situational awareness than it does in Far Cry 4, and some of the towers are outrageously tall, making the entire endeavor an anxious exercise in precision.

And tension is yet another aspect of Dying Light that sets it apart from its zombie-game peers. When night falls, particularly dangerous and fast zombies roam the city, and the entire timbre changes. It's best to circumvent the vision cones of those baddies and avoid direct confrontation, but you're occasionally mobbed in spite of your careful movement. These undead are more persistent than the Liberty City police department, so the best option is to run, run, run until you lose them. You can hold a button to look behind you and see how close they are, and doing so can be startling when you see the incoming horde. It's been some time since a zombie game legitimately scared me, but that look-behind-you move reveals some creepy sights. During the day, you scamper around and, occasionally, confront your infected fears. Once the sun has set, you slink and sprint, trying not to catch the deadly eyes of nearby volatiles.

Burn, beautiful zombies, burn.

Throw in a three-pronged upgrade system that makes you stronger and more agile as the game progresses, and you have the foundation of a great game. Alas, Dying Light flounders too often for it to achieve greatness, though it's poised to develop the same cult following that so many Techland games do. This is a surprisingly long game stuffed with, well, stuff, yet your role for too many hours is to play errand boy--a role so demeaning that even lead character Kyle Crane remarks upon it. Go flip a switch. Go collect crayons, or mushrooms, or coffee. As the first act draws to a close, Dying Light has taken a turn for the worse: each time the game grants you structure, it struggles, to the point where you might wish the gofer quests would return, because the ones that have taken their place are either frustrating slogs, or simply bad ideas.

The slog arises because these simple tasks require you to cover a lot of real estate. As fun as it is to move through Harran, the parkour doesn't carry the game alone. The other problem with Dying Light's first half, as dumb as it may sound, is the zombie crowd itself, which is not powerful enough to provide a huge challenge, but is too powerful to wholly ignore. The undead become annoyances--children that wave their arms around and demand attention while the game asks you to once again take to the streets so you can pull a lever.

Firearms are powerful, but it's best to use them against human foes.

The bad arrives when Dying Light embraces ideas that have an air of cleverness, but have you crying out "what were you thinking?" as implemented. There is the time you quaff a potion intended to temporarily disguise you from the undead, but it reverses your movement controls. And so death might very well ensue depending on when you drink and how quickly you adjust to the surprise. There is the time you descend on a zip line and let the game drop you at the very end of it, only to take a good amount of fall damage. There's a garbage pile a few feet before the end that you can leap into, but the limited field of view when ziplining, and the general visual bleariness, mean you probably won't know it's there until you've lost half of your health bar, and you're cursing Techland for not noticing how these elements don't quite work together--or worse, for not caring.

These are just a few examples of the frustrations that set in. Once the second act arrives and you enter old town, however, there's a moment of revelation when you gaze upon the district and take in its beauty. The slog has been set aside, and excitement for new navigation blossoms. Depending on how you spend the skill points you earn, you gain access to a grappling hook that provides so much stimulation that you wish you'd gained access to it even earlier. Then again, Dying Light gets occasionally lost in "ideas" even in the second half--shooting segments that lack tightness, confrontations with multiple kinds of big baddies that have you flying backwards and getting poisoned simultaneously, and so forth. You've got the tools to succeed, at least, even when the fun meter drops: upgradable weapons starting with knives and baseball bats and working up to machetes and ice picks, along with throwables like grenades and molotov cocktails. Those weapons degrade quickly, but there are more of them scattered around than you will ever need.

When night falls, particularly dangerous and fast zombies roam the city, and the entire timbre changes.

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Dying Light succeeds when it remains confident in its systems. The combat isn't as fulfilling as it is in Dead Island--you won't be breaking any arms--but out in that wild world, you aren't meant to wade into the horde anyhow. What drives the action is the promise of discovery and self-improvement. There are locks to pick and supplies to nab before the opposing faction gets to them. The balconies harbor new people to meet, who share their stories if you stick around long enough to hear them. When a zombie or six draw near, you swipe, kick, and bash until the blood is flying and the grunts are silenced, and you can return to your pillaging. Dying Light most often approaches greatness when it allows you to improvise your own tune instead of clumsily trying to conduct the entire orchestra.

That a game of such wild fluctuations can still give rise to so much fun speaks well of its high points. Those peaks rise even higher when other players are involved, and you have a few friends (up to three) join you, distracting the speedy virals while you take care of a ground-pounding beast swinging his giant hammer around. Competitive zombie invasions are liable to have you tensing your muscles even further invasions when they turn the game into a nighttime arena. This is Be the Zombie mode, and while using your tentacle to grapple your way around as a zombie is enjoyable, it is the tension you feel as a hunted human that makes these moments stand out. You can tweak your setting to allow or disallow these sudden multiplayer matches, and there's no shame in wanting to explore without distraction. But if Dying Light's nighttime pressures appeal to you, allowing zombie attacks further extends that drama.

I am rooting for Dying Light's success, even as I shake my head at its avoidable foibles. I understand it, I get it, and so I find pleasure in it even as it disappoints me, even when I land between a fence and a rocky cliff and get stuck there, even when I don't grab a ledge or pole after a jump for reasons that I can't quite understand. My dearest Dying Light, I am so grateful for your specialness, for it shines through even when I am prepared to damn you to hell.

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Opinion: Hype Isn’t Always a Bad Thing – Hype is Hope

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-01-30 21:01

Hype's gotten a bad rap.

True, things can definitely get out of control when frothy-mouthed marketers promise life-changing miracles to get all of us to take notice of a game nearing release. We all know the dangers of over-hype – and yes, we’re all a little guilty of sometimes getting a little too caught up in the excitement. To be perfectly clear, I do not mean to defend flagrantly false or misleading advertising, and I certainly do not recommend that you pre-order games on blind faith. After all, if people don’t wait for reviews before buying games, I’m out of a job as IGN’s reviews editor. You should absolutely always wait until reviews are in and gameplay footage is available before throwing money at a game, no matter what’s been said ahead of launch.

Continue reading…

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The Maritime Union Part 3 - Grim Fandango Remastered Walkthrough

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-01-30 20:49
Manny needs to get a Maritime Union card in order to join the Limbo's crew. For a full walkthrough of Grim Fandango, check out the wiki.
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The Maritime Union Part 2 - Grim Fandango Remastered Walkthrough

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-01-30 20:33
Manny needs to get a Maritime Union card in order to join the Limbo's crew. For a full walkthrough of Grim Fandango, check out the wiki.
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Review-in-Progress Commentary, Day 5

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-01-30 20:23
We dive into competitive multiplayer as a Venom-like zombie, and show off the end-game weaponry and skills in single-player.
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COD: AW Exo Zombies - GameSpot Plays

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-01-30 20:16
Kevin Spacey has given the undead exo-suits and it's up to you to kill them all. Join Rob & Danny as they explore the latest zombie DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
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The Maritime Union Part 1 - Grim Fandango Remastered Walkthrough

IGN.com - Fri, 2015-01-30 20:10
Manny needs to get a Maritime Union card in order to join the Limbo's crew. For a full walkthrough of Grim Fandango, check out the wiki.
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