Thursday, May 29, 2014

Super TIME Force, Drakengard 3, Mind Zero, Of Orcs And Men, Destiny Of Spirits & Captain America  

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It's been a while since I updated and there's a lot to cover, so just gonna jump right into things here…

NEWS FLASH FOR THE SOULS FANS - NEW VIDEO OF PROJECT BEAST LEAKED via NeoGAF - HYPE LEVELS OFF THE CHARTS!!! Click this thing now!! 

...Holy shit, right? Thanks to @RichStanton and @EddieInzauto for the tipoff!


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Okay, on with the show.

Super TIME Force (XBO, 360, PC): About halfway through this one from one of my favorite developers, Capy Games. I've been a fan of these guys ever since Critter Crunch (rainbow puke for LYFE, yo) and they have yet to disappoint me. If there's a more consistent, reliable developer out there, I'd love to know who it is.

Anywho, TIME Force is a little hard to describe, but I think Capy’s own phrase "single player co-op" kind of explains things a bit. Basically, the player goes back-and-forth to different time periods Mega Man style, and has the ability to rewind time whenever their character dies. After rewinding, they can switch to a different character (several wacky ones to choose from) and the trick is that not only does the new character stay, the old, dead one does as well. With just a few dies and restarts, the screen is full of friendly "ghosts" who are all opening fire on the same boss, or laying waste to the same area.

The writing is hilarious, there's a lot of really clever, interesting design going on, and the graphics are stylized pixel art, which I think looks great. It takes a little bit of time to wrap your head around the rewind mechanic, but once you click into it, it's a much deeper, more sophisticated game than it first appears.




Drakengard 3 (PSN): There are no words in human language that can fully encapsulate how disappointing and terrible this game is. I was not a fan of the previous two in the Drakengard series, but I am absolutely in love with Nier, and knowing that D3 was from the same developers was all that was needed to pique my curiosity. Unfortunately, while there are a few moments where hints of a Nier-like flavor comes through, this game is generally terrible in all aspects.


The story has chaotic mood swings between being totally serious, being absurd, breaking the fourth wall, and everything in between. It's a real mish-mash that doesn't hit any correct notes, and it doesn't help that all of the characters are intensely unlikable thanks to their general a-hole personalities and an overall obsession with sex in ways that are neither appropriate, funny, clever, or appealing.

Technically, it's a steaming pile with muddy PS2-era graphics, a framerate that chugs harder than a desperate frat boy eager to impress, super-basic camera problems,… Hell, you name it, and it’s bad.

The actual gameplay is miserable as well, coming off like a poor-man's Dynasty Warriors that soon turns repetitive and intolerable. I have no idea why Square bothered to bring this to America other than the fact that they knew Nier fans like myself would jump at the chance to get another piece of work from that same team, but these two projects couldn't be further apart. Avoid it all costs.




Of Orcs And Men (XBL,PSN,PC): Finished it last week. Ironically, although it has technical problems the way that Drakengard does (although nowhere near as severe) the writing is light-years better and the super-appealing character work holds together. Fans of story in games, take note.


It was a great adventure on a small-scale, and my review’s coming soon. Big thumbs UP.




Mind Zero (Vita): I heard nothing but bad things about this one from people who had played the Japanese version, or people who "just knew" somehow, but after watching videos on YouTube, I was convinced that I needed to give it a try, and I'm glad that I did.


I'm about eight hours in, and so far it's best described as Persona-lite, but I don't say that as a bad thing. I mean, if you’re going to steal, then still from the best. That said, it's in no way a complete carbon copy, because it varies in quite a few ways.

The biggest, most interesting thing about it is the combat system. It's a little more complicated than I want to get into right now, but basically people can have their "MIND" (basically a persona-like spirit) turn on or off at will, and there are positives and negatives to being in either mode. The game also has a few interesting spins during combat, mostly in the way it manages three different resources that fuel abilities. It doesn't feel at all like the combat in Persona although it may appear similar on the surface, and I definitely appreciate what it’s got going on.

At the moment, my characters are trying to figure out what's going on with their world, having recently discovered a spirit realm that is somehow connected, in addition to a vaguely Team Rocket-ish squad of MIND users who are gonna end up being The Bad Guys . The story isn’t mind blowing but it's definitely good enough to keep the action going so far, and the art style is solid.

I've enjoyed my time with it so far and I’m still pushing onwards despite the dungeons being a little too long and the encounter rate being a little too high. Hopefully this won’t turn into a big problem.




Destiny Of Spirits (Vita): I haven't talked much about this free-to-play from Sony but I've been chipping away at it for about a half an hour every day before bed, and although it's really low-rent and kind of boring, there is a certain charm to it.


In this game, the player must collect spirits found using the Vita’s GPS functions, as well as more commonly summoned with currency earned in the game. There are the usual elemental attributes to deal with (fire beats water, etc.) and there are a wide variety of supporting skills that characters have.

It's not really that this game is that good in any one aspect, but the elements come together to create an experience that's satisfying for a few minutes at a time, although I can see many places where the developers can improve. Specifically, I'm getting to a point in the game where the enemies are of a much higher level than I am, and I can't level up the characters that I have. Without access to better characters through random summons or buying them, it seems as though I'm going to hit a wall of difficulty that I won't be able to get past, but we’ll see.

If nothing else, I hope the developers take this template and make a more polished sequel that addresses some of my issues.




Movies: The wife and I went to go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other day, and I have to say that all of the hype surrounding it was definitely justified.


The performances were strong, the story was actually much deeper and more interesting than I expected, and action sequences were fantastic. Also: The Falcon is cool as hell in that film. We enjoyed it from start to finish, and it comes totally recommend it if you haven't seen it already. After so many years of crappy comic book movies, it's amazing to get so many that are of such a quality lately.




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WASTELAND 2 TO SHIP END OF AUGUST 2014

Early Access Beta Receives Major Update That Includes All of Arizona - Available Exclusively on Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/240760/

inXile Entertainment announced an end of August launch window for Wasteland 2, one of the most successfully crowd funded projects/video games of all-time and sequel to the critically acclaimed smash hit Wasteland and the post-apocalyptic predecessor to the Fallout® series. In addition to the end of August launch window announcement, inXile Entertainment has released the entire Arizona portion of the game via the Wasteland 2early access beta, which is only available at http://store.steampowered.com/app/240760/

The highly anticipated, post-apocalyptic turn-based Wasteland 2 offers an alternative history. America lays lifeless in the hot ashes and radioactive embers of a deadly nuclear holocaust and players must take command of an elite squad of desert Rangers, formed in the time-honoured tradition of the Texas and Arizona Rangers.  Setting out across post-apocalyptic and treacherous landscapes players try to help the last remaining remnants of humanity in their struggle for survival against hordes of desperate bandits, insane criminals, decaying mutants and much worse.
 Developed by an amazing team of RPG pioneers that include Brian Fargo and Chris Avellone and with a musical score composed by the legendary Mark Morgan, Wasteland 2 is a return to form for RPGs because it actually provides options and choices. Options allow players to make fundamental choices in customization and character creation throughout the game’s role-playing progression with decisions that carry consequences and impact a living world.
Wasteland 2’s early access beta mode, which GameSpot called “one of the best post-apocalyptic role-playing games to emerge in a long time,” is available on the Steam store http://store.steampowered.com/app/240760/. End of August marks the launch window for the full game, available for PC, Mac and Linux gamers.  

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1001 Spikes

Publisher: Nicalis
Developer: Nicalis, Inc. / 8Bits Fanatics
Platform: Xbox One®, PlayStation 4, PlayStation®Vita, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and PC (Windows, OSX, and Linux)
Genre: 2D action-platformer
Price: TBD
Players: Single player campaign, 2-4 player local co-op and versus modes
Release: Summer 2014
Rating: T for Teen - Blood, Violence, Mild Language
Synopsis
Discover the lost treasures of Ukampa in South America as Aban Hawkins searches for his estranged father, world-famous archaeologist Jim Hawkins. Before the elder Hawkins mysteriously disappeared, he entrusted his daughter Tina with a map to the location of the ruins with a grave warning that death awaits around every corner.

Aban Hawkins races into the frozen tundra of the antarctic, undiscovered temple ruins, and the vast caverns of South America in search of his father and the legendary treasure rumored to lie behind the Golden Door of Poko-Mum.
Game Features
Tough-as-nails difficulty
Pixel-perfect, razor-sharp controls
Clever-yet-insidious game design
Single and simultaneous 2-4 player co-op and vs. multiplayer!
8-bit inspired visuals with current gen flare
Soundtrack by Misoka and Rushjet1
Over a dozen unlockable characters with different abilities, some as featured friends from other games
Over 100 stages to clear
Three save files
Multiple endings
More information can be found on the official website at http://nicalis.com

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4A Games and Deep Silver are bringing the iconic and award-winning Metro series to the next generation: Metro Redux features fully re-mastered and improved versions of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, creating the most compelling Metro experience ever. Upon release, Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux will each be available separately as a digital download for Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and PC for $24.99. Alongside the digital release, a boxed compilation containing both games, Metro Redux will be available at retail for a suggested $49.99.

With new, never-seen-before content and new gameplay features, as well as outstanding updated graphical fidelity and silky smooth 60FPS gameplay, Metro Redux is much more than a simple HD upgrade. 

For the Redux edition, Metro 2033 has been completely overhauled:

The original game has been rebuilt in the latest and greatest iteration of the 4A Engine, bringing all the graphical and gameplay improvements from Metro: Last Light to Metro 2033 Redux 

Experience radically improved gameplay: advanced enemy AI, improved combat and stealth mechanics, superior weapon handling and more responsive, intuitive controls plus signature features from Last Light such as the atmospheric ‘mask wipe’ mechanic, weapon customization, and silent kills and takedowns

Enjoy completely re-mastered visuals: advanced lighting, dynamic weather, more detailed characters with improved animation, more dynamic destruction and improved smoke, fire and particle effects
Metro: Last Light Redux has also received a graphical facelift and gameplay improvements that carry across both titles, including new melee animations, and the fan-requested ‘Check Watch’ and ‘Check Inventory’ features. It also includes all previously released Season Pass add-on content – a further 10 hours of single-player gameplay. 

With Metro Redux, players now have the choice to experience both Metro games the way they want with the introduction of two unique ‘Play Styles.’Those who favored the more survival horror oriented gameplay of Metro 2033 can play both campaigns in the ‘Survival’ Play Style, a fraught slow-burn fight for survival with limited resources, deadlier enemy AI, and slower reload speeds. Those who enjoyed the more action oriented gameplay of Metro: Last Light can try the ‘Spartan’ Play Style, providing Artyom with a powerful set of combat skills and more plentiful resources. In addition, the legendary Ranger Mode returns to both games, providing the most immersive and challenging experience as the HUD is stripped away and hardcore rules apply.

Dedicated Linux and SteamOS versions will also release later this year.

Metro Redux is based on the internationally bestselling novel Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky.

For the latest news and information on Metro Redux: Official website at www.enterthemetro.com 
Follow us via Facebook: www.facebook.com/metrovideogame 

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Hyrule Warriors, the imaginative upcoming game for the Wii U console, combines the action-packed game play of Tecmo Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series with the iconic characters and worlds from The Legend of Zelda series. In addition to the focused action game play of leading one soldier against a massive horde of enemies, theDynasty Warriors series is also known for its epic storyline. In this game, players control Link as he faces a powerful new enemy – the evil sorceress Cia – and her army to rescue the captive Princess Zelda. For the first time ever, Princess Zelda’s loyal Hyrulean Captain Impa makes her debut as a playable character. Impa equips a huge sword and can perform powerful combos to defeat enemies. Many other surprising playable characters make appearances in Hyrule Warriors, and each playable character will have signature weapons and action animations.

Hyrule Warriors, the imaginative upcoming game for the Wii U console, combines the action-packed game play of Tecmo Koei's Dynasty Warriors series with the iconic characters and worlds from The Legend of Zelda series.

The first stage of the game takes place in Hyrule Field, a location that will be very familiar to fans of The Legend of Zelda series. The game-play structure of most of the stages bears a close resemblance to the Dynasty Warriorgames, so Hyrule Warriors is a game that can truly be enjoyed by fans of both The Legend of Zelda and theDynasty Warrior series. Players must defend or reclaim areas by fighting against hordes of enemies and using different types of flashy and powerful moves. Players will encounter new enemies such as Sorceress Cia, but some familiar enemies like Bokoblins and Lizalfos from The Legend of Zeldaseries will also appear in the game.

For more information about Hyrule Warriors, visithttp://www.zelda.com/hyrule-warriors.

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XSEED Games, the independent-minded console publishing brand of Marvelous USA, Inc., today confirmed STORY OF SEASONS will be released exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS in North America this winter. Developed by the veteran team behind the fan-favorite Bokujo Monogatari series and headed by longtime lead producer, Yoshifumi Hashimoto, STORY OF SEASONS represents a new beginning for the beloved series which has seen dozens of entries and sold close to ten million copies worldwide.

Released under the title Bokujo Monogatari: Tsunagaru Shintenchi in Japan earlier this year, which literally translates as Farm Story: Connect to a New World, STORY OF SEASONS carries on the iconic life simulation and farming RPG gameplay made famous through the Bokujo Monogatari series’ 18-year history while infusing new and exciting features into the experience, marking a key milestone for the franchise. Fans will appreciate the evolution seen inSTORY OF SEASONS as the game retains its signature style while adapting and strengthening its offerings through the formation of this new IP. 

Players will create a fully customizable character, selecting gender, hair style and facial features as desired. They will then take on their role as the newest resident of Oak Tree Town, a small settlement filled with promises of new beginnings, hard work and significant relationships. In the process of tending to crops, animals and the many other aspects of everyday farming life, players will amass the resources necessary to customize and expand their farms – from livestock and seeds to d├ęcor and layout – granting total freedom to shape their homestead as they wish and fit virtually any play style.

In STORY OF SEASONS, traditional farm-building mechanics are combined with all-new multiplayer and StreetPass connectivity, granting players the ability to tour one another’s farms, cultivate crops together and even exchange gifts. Further adding to the roster of new elements, STORY OF SEASONS has decorative items available from the Super Mario Bros. franchise, including Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Super Star.

Developed in Japan by MarvelousAQL, STORY OF SEASONS will be published in North America by XSEED Games, and will be released in winter exclusively for Nintendo 3DS. STORY OF SEASONS will make its US debut at the E3 2014 expo in XSEED Games’ West Hall booth #5436.

For more information on XSEED Games products, please visit www.xseedgames.com. Fans can also follow XSEED Games on Facebook at www.facebook.com/XSEEDGames and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/XSEEDGames

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Deadrock Divide from Bootsnake Games - Kickstarter Edition!  

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Earlier today I had the opportunity to stop by @BootsnakeGames to take a look at their new title, Deadrock Divide. These plucky guys just launched a kickstarter today, in fact! 


Full disclosure: I've been a fan of the studio for some time, although some of you may not have heard of them. Their first game was Containment: The Zombie Puzzler, one of my honorable mentions when picking a top ten for 2012. If you haven't played it, it's fantastic. Also, as far as I know, it’s available on pretty much every platform.

About the studio themselves, the core is made up of two brothers, Mat and Dru Staltman. These guys knew they wanted to make games together since their teens, and their two-pronged ‘we are brothers’ approach comes out in the way Dru handles code and Mat handles art. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gifEach one is an industry vet, and between the pair they’ve worked on titles like Pirates of the Burning Sea, Bakugan, Supreme Commander and Demigod. When their grandfather passed away, he left them a small sum of money -- the seed of Bootsnake itself. 


Their new project, Deadrock Divide, is a bit tough to nutshell, but it's probably easiest to say that it's inspired by XCOM with cues from FTL. It’s also worth noting that while Skyrim doesn't immediately come to mind, that same sense of "go anywhere and find something" was a theme that came up in the discussion. 


It’s still quite early but I laid hands on a pre-alpha build, and I was liking what I was seeing. Essentially, the player takes control of a miner entering a region of space that is currently being fought over by different factions. The player will have their own customizable ship and every member of the crew will have a customizable loadout of weapons and armor. Combat plays out in a turn-based, grid-based fashion reminiscent of other turn-based strategy games. 


I'm happy to report that the game will have a campaign mode, companion characters, recruitable grunts, and a full storyline. After a certain point, the player will be asked to align themselves with one of the three factions in the area: the Miners, the Corporation, and "The Lost". Not only do these factions have their own unique plot branches, but their own unique win conditions as well.

The Miners are the people who were in the area first, and they’re fighting to get their territory back. The Corporation is after alien tech from a previous civilization, so they win the game when they find enough of these artifacts. The Lost are exiled aliens out to collect the precious "deadrock" mineral for their people, so their goal is to amass a pile of the stuff by any means necessary.


Although everything I saw and everything I'm discussing here is in a very, very early stage, I thought they did a fantastic job with Containment, and if that level of quality is any indication, then Deadrock Divide will be one to keep an eye out for.

For you fans of turn-based strategy who might like to throw sunshine on a small studio filled with hard-working people, click on over to their kickstarter, toss them a few bucks, and tell them that I sent you.


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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Dark Souls Two, Of Orcs And Men, Super TIME Force, and Deception IV  

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Podcast: I was recently turned onto a new podcast thanks to @Toupsi, and I've been loving it. It's called The Dark Souls Two, and it’s put on by a pair of guys who go into excruciating detail on each area of the game, while also infusing it with humor and personality. I've been eating these episodes up, and if you like the Souls games as much as I do, I'm guessing you'll find these examinations to be both informative and entertaining.




Games: It's been a pretty brutal work week so I haven't had a ton of time to play games, but I did put a few minutes into a couple of things. Mostly, I was trying to get further with Of Orcs and Men.


Although the combat needs work and the level design is pretty focused and linear, the characterization and story are great, and I'm absolutely in love with the dark tone and serious story. It’s rare you see humans portrayed as an evil force committing genocide, so taking on the role of a pair of “greenskins" fighting back is fresh perspective. For fans of very dark fantasy and unusual, well-written material, this is it.

Side note, I'm quite happy to say that one of the main characters, Styx the goblin, will be the star of his own upcoming game. After getting to know the characters in OOaM, I definitely want to spend more time with them, and I'm tickled to find out that I'll get the chance. Cheers to @Vod_Crack for the tip-off!




I've also played a bit with Super T.I.M.E. Force from Capy Games. Although I haven't had a chance to play much, I really like what I've seen so far.


Basically, the player has a small team of agents tackling various bad guys, but they also have a power that lets them rewind time and create clones of themselves. It's a little hard to describe and turns out to be more complicated than you might first expect, but once you understand how it works and everything clicks, it's great.

Once again, Capy proves that they’re one of the most reliable devs out there-- their games have all been fantastic, and they manage to find the fun in just about everything they do.




Portable-wise, I'm about halfway through Deception IV: Blood Ties on the Vita. 


I'm a Deception fan from way back and I've played all the games, but I was surprised to hear that it was getting a sequel. It's never been more than super-niche, so the fact that it hasn't been completely forgotten was amazing. That said, my enthusiasm dimmed a bit since it's basically unchanged except for a few minor tweaks here and there.  It looks better and controls better, but it hasn't taken any big steps forward. 

In one sense that’s fine because the core gameplay of trapping people to death in the service of Satan is pretty entertaining, but on the other hand, it seems like it's long past due to be revamped in terms of complexity and usability -- things like no mid-level saves and the inability to change your gear during a mission are real head-scratchers. It's an easy recommend for series fans (are there fans of this series?) but it seems like it’s missing huge opportunities for growth in a positive direction.




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Ready to… FIGHT? Capcom today announced that the digital upgrade versions of Ultra Street Fighter IV will release across North America on June 3rd for PSN (PlayStation 3) and on June 4th from the Xbox Live Games Store (Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft). On August 5th, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 retail versions will be in stores, with the full digital bundle on PS3 available for download then too. Both the digital upgrade and full digital bundle for PC (Steam) will be out on August 8th.

Players who pre-order any version of Ultra Street Fighter IV at select retailers will receive the 2014 Challengers Costume Pack, consisting of alternate costumes for each of the five new characters for free. The five new costumes include: Jungle Elena, Medieval Hugo, Pirate Poison, Wizard Rolento and Gladiator Decapre. The pre-order program officially kicks off today, so be sure to check out the alternate costume character art and new trailer here! More information on the pre-order promotions will be available on the official Street Fighter website and on Capcom-Unity in the coming weeks.

In Ultra Street Fighter IV, Poison, Hugo, Elena, Rolento and Decapre join the fight, complete with new animations and their own unique play styles, bringing the final roster count to a massive 44 characters. Six new battle environments (including Pitstop 109, Cosmic Elevator, Half Pipe and more) provide a thrilling and colorful backdrop to the action. Direct fan feedback was gathered on all of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition’s original 39 characters and core system mechanics in order to achieve the most balanced Street Fighter ever. In addition to the action-packed new content and the finely-tuned rebalanced gameplay, the new version features a host of new features and modes that are sure to test even the most well traveled world warrior.

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC owners of Super Street Fighter IV or Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition will be able to download Ultra Street Fighter IV as a $14.99 digital upgrade. The full digital bundle for PC is priced at $29.99 and PS3 users can download the full version of the game for $39.99. PS3 and Xbox 360 users can purchase the retail versions of the game for $39.99. Players who purchase the retail versions (PS3, Xbox 360) or full digital bundles (PS3, PC) will receive all previously released costumes for the series, making this the definitive version of Street Fighter IV!

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NIS America is proud to announce that a new trailer and the updated English logo are now available for NAtURAL DOCtRINE. The game will receive both a digital and physical release in the North American and European markets for the PS4, PS3, and PS Vita systems in 2014! Developed as Kadokawa Game Studio's inaugural title, NAtURAL DOCtRINE is a challenging strategy RPG that features cross-play, cross-save, and stunning visuals. Strategy role-playing gamers be ready, as this title will truly test your ability to conquer the evils that lurk in the sprawling networks of mines and ruins in the areas surrounding the fortress city of Feste.

About the game:
Seasoned explorers and novices alike venture underground into dangerous caves to collect the coveted material known as Pluton. During your first trip down into the depths of one of these mines, you and your new explorer friends quickly realize that things may be more dire than you had imagined as you encounter a brand-new type of evil lurking below the surface. You and your newfound friends must strategically defeat these new difficult foes and warn the kingdom of their presence before it's too late.


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Monday, May 12, 2014

Pulling Out Of A Nosedive  

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Although 2014 started off in a fantastic way with a string of great titles like Danganronpa, Lords of Shadow 2 and Dark Souls 2, we are definitely hitting some lows right now -- I've had nothing but duds for review lately, and whenever I play too many weaksauce titles in a row, it always bums me out.




It started with Amazing Spiderman 2


From the first few moments after I started, I knew it was going to be a dog, and that instinct proved correct. Although it was running on PS4, the engine was super-creaky, the gameplay felt totally outdated, and it came off like yet another rushed-to-shelves crapper meant to cash in on being a movie tie-in.




After that, I moved on to Strike Suit Zero, also on PS4. In general, I would say that spaceships transforming into robots would be filed under ‘super interesting’, but this game manages to make spacebound missile-firing mecha boring. 


Each mission boils down to shooting a thousand guys in space, and there's no supporting content to keep the player engaged. It controls fine and I haven't played a spacefaring game like this for a while, but it's impossible to stay interested when all you're doing is highlighting bogeys over and over.




Finally, I had high hopes for Bound By Flame, and I'm definitely a fan of Spiders, the studio that developed it. Unfortunately, it’s probably the worst game they've done so far, and it comes off as a slapdash embarrassment despite the fact that there are two or three really brilliant ideas on display. 


For example, I think the combat engine’s design is incredibly interesting, and the concept of having a player possessed by a demon which then causes you to second-guess other characters is pretty ripe for exploration. However, the game barely scratches the surface of what it attempts, and what it does do is pretty bad.




Feeling desperate for something worthwhile to play, I dug into my backlog and came up with a couple of winners.




First, I checked out Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition on theVita. I picked it up for $12 and although I initially wanted it for PS3, I think it's a good fit for the handheld. NetherRealm is on a real tear lately, and between this and the recent Mortal Kombat reboot, these guys are making some of the best fighting games they’ve ever done. 


The combat engine is super solid, there are great environmental interactions, and the characters have a good spread of abilities and styles. They story mode is neat too, and has a lot of great moments -- double Batman, anyone? Although I'm not much of a DC guy, it's a super-enjoyable fighter with a boatload of content to get through. For $12, this is an absolute no-brainer.




Aside from that, I downloaded Of Orcs And Men quite a while ago and tonight was its night to shine. It was one of those odd titles that caught my eye way back when, and after an extremely extended delay, I was incredibly surprised to see it available when it stealth-launched, fanfare-free on PSN. I've only just started it, but it hooked me right away.


The premise is that humans are expanding their kingdom, and they've not only taken away territory from the orcs, but they've also enslaved them. The player takes on the role of a battle-hardened berserker orc, who soon joins up with a super-stealthy, throat-slitting goblin. Naturally, the pair of them go on a mission to assassinate the human Emperor.

Not only is this game interesting because humans are the nasty evildoers, but because the two-character system of a tanking orc and a quick, stabby gob asks the player to stack attacks and watch them play out automatically while switching between the pair.

The writing and voice acting are much better than expected so far, and I really like the way the game is flowing. My opinion may change (I've already seen a few rough edges that are definitely in need of polish) but at the moment, I'm finding it pretty fascinating.




If you’ve read this far and you need something else to check out, @RichardNaik hosted a great @Gamecritics Podcast on Dark Souls 2. Give that a listen if you're so inclined.

Also, may I humbly suggest checking out our recent reviews for…









 …And also, HEY MY BOOK IS OUT!!! 

See the previous post or click on the sidebar to your right for more details.  ^_^




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The day has come. It's finally time to test your mettle with Daylight, the frightening first-person survival-horror game from Zombie Studios. Available RIGHT NOW  for PlayStation 4 and PC, it's time to fire up those live streams and start scaring the pants off yourself. Oh, and don't forget. Because Daylight is procedurally generated, you can't predict when or where the scares are coming from! Especially when your friends in Twitch chat can type in key words that trigger scares... 
To see what you're in for, click here for the launch trailer:

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Lose yourself in the kaleidoscope of color that is Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! for PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, to be proudly published by Aksys Games in Fall 2014. Deciding that one exclamation point wasn’t enough, we’ve decided to match the intensity of the game by including a total of five! Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! promises to provide players with copious combo creations, panoramic pics, beautifully detailed backgrounds, and 23 adorable combatants in this fully feminine fighting game from EXAMU Inc. and ARC SYSTEM WORKS CO.,LTD.—basically, it’s an air-dashingly good time!
Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! has not been rated (RP) by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.  For more information, visit www.esrb.org. For more information about Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!!, please visit the official website.

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Backflip Studios today announced the mining puzzle game Dwarven Den is now available free on the iTunes App Store. In Dwarven Den, you play a group of dwarves seeking adventure and sparkly treasures buried deep within the earth. Your dwarven ancestors have been trapped in vast underground mines. Armed with only a pickaxe and a mighty beard, you’ve got to dig down deep by excavating floor after floor. Simply tap to dig through ancient civilizations, choosing your next move cautiously to avoid cave-ins and cartoon monsters. With challenging puzzles and simple controls, the app has already been deemed “What’s Hot” in its Canadian beta phase. Free with optional in-app purchases, players can download Dwarven Den today!

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The super-awesome dev team Zoink! Games and Indie Publisher Ripstone announced today that Stick It To The Man! is out now on PlayStation®4 in Europe and is totally free for PS Plus users! The insane mind-reading game will also be sticking itself to the US PlayStation Store May 6th - where it will (of course!) be completely free to download for stateside PS Plus users too!

Stick it to the Man! priced at £6.99 / €7.99 / $9.99 follows the hilarious adventure of Hardhat Tester Ray Doewood, who lives in a word made of paper and stickers. After a bizarre accident at work one day; Ray wakes up with a giant pink spaghetti arm sticking out of his brain - giving him extraordinary mind-reading powers! Suddenly, Ray can hear people's inner most thoughts and transform the paper world around him by tearing it, folding it and using the crazy stickers he finds to solve brain-twisting puzzles! Digging in the brains of his fellow citizens - including Santa Claus, Captain Ahab and Elvis (to name but a few!); it's up to Ray to gather clues from countless deranged characters all while trying to get to grips with his awesome new abilities and evading the evil clutches of 'The Man'! Can you help to get Ray out of this sticky situation?

 Check out the website for more information www.stickitgame.com or head to the Facebook page for sneak peeks and competitions. You can even get involved in the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #StickItGame.

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Techland officially announced that its upcoming dark fantasy game will run on a new engine, while the game itself went through an overhaul and is now heading to next-gen consoles alongside the PC release, with Steam Early Access planned for autumn.

Since its reveal last year, Hellraid has expanded and evolved thanks to the developers’ experience and players’ feedback. While the game will remain faithful to its first-person co-op slasher gameplay, Techland has decided to implement new features and technology, and is now ready to announce them and show it all off in a brand new trailer.

The game is currently undergoing a transition to the Chrome Engine 6, the latest version of Techland’s proprietary technology, which is also used by the next-gen zombie survival horror, Dying Light. Thanks to this technology, Hellraid will benefit from a new physics-based lighting system, more detailed locations and character models, complex animations, advanced particle effects, and state-of-the-art AI systems.

With new gameplay features and technology, Hellraid moves from past-gen consoles to the next generation with the announcement of PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions coming in 2015.
Hellraid will also receive a Steam Early Access release in autumn 2014, which will be regularly updated based on players’ feedback until the final version is launched. For more information visit hellraid.com and like the game atfacebook.com/hellraidgame.

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Lace Games and Stage 2 Studios are pleased to announce that the release date for the hugely anticipated and critically acclaimed indie PC game 'LIFELESS PLANET' has been confirmed as 6th June 2014.

Developed almost single handidly by Alaskan based David Board (Stage 2 Studios), 'LIFELESS PLANET' is a third-person action-adventure game that puts the player in the moon-boots of an astronaut on a one-way mission to a life-bearing planet far outside our solar system.  But after a rough landing, the promise of a new Earth soon fades with the discovery that the planet he was to explore is now barren and inhospitable. The adventure truly begins when he discovers he is not the first human visitor to this mysterious world!

'LIFELESS PLANET' will be available to purchase from Steam and all other leading digital retailers from 6th June 2014.  The game will feature English text and voice overs along with full text and subtitled localisation into German, Russian, French and Spanish languages. Selected UK retailers will also be stocking physical copies in stores on the 6th June 2014 with further releases to follow throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

For those gamers who would like a taste of some of the games early levels but can't wait until 6th June 2014, 'LIFELESS PLANET' is available to buy at a discounted price via Steam's Early Access program - http://bit.ly/1izkScO.  The full game will then unlock on 6th June 2014 at no extra cost. To find out what other gamers are saying about the Early Access version take a look at this video - http://bit.ly/QYMw7A

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Evergreen Studios today released Tales of Honor: The Secret Fleet, the official mobile game of the Tales of Honor science fiction storyworld based on David Weber’s Honor Harrington novels. The space-combat strategy game is available now for free on the App Store. The game is also coming to Google Play in the coming weeks.

See the game in action in the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc5Yb4O5OBM
Tales of Honor: The Secret Fleet is now available for free on the App Store. The second comic issue of Tales of Honor: On Basilisk Station is now available in comic stores and digitally on Comixology.com.
For more information on the Tales of Honor storyworld, comic books and interviews with the creative team, please visit www.tales-of-honor.com.

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We have your back to the wall. You have just witnessed the Conception, and in the wake of the catastrophe, you find out that you have been turned into a demon. Now you must navigate through the aftermath of the destruction, in a do-or-die journey to bring order to the chaos and stop the hordes of demons. 

The acclaimed PS2 RPG Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is back and now available for PlayStation 3 as a PS2 Classic. There's over 100 fiendish demons to recruit as your allies in battle. Will you be the herald of a new world or the harbinger of its destruction? Will you survive the fall from grace or be one more god rejected? 

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XSEED Games, the independent-minded console publishing brand of Marvelous USA, Inc., today announced that the battle adventure title, SENRAN KAGURA SHINOVI VERSUS, will be coming exclusively to the PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system as a digital download later this fall. For the ultimate of fans, XSEED Games will also be producing a limited run “Let’s Get Physical” retail version of the game, which will include a soundtrack CD and “Shinobi Syllabus” containing profiles of the shinobi students, gameplay strategies, and illustrations. The follow-up to last year’s Nintendo 3DS hand-held system title, SENRAN KAGURA Burst, SENRAN KAGURA SHINOVI VERSUS takes the game’s signature over-the-top style and raises the bar in every possible way, from characters to art style, combat mechanics and story.

SENRAN KAGURA SHINOVI VERSUS is developed by Tamsoft together with MarvelousAQL Inc. of Japan, and will be released in North America for PS®Vita by XSEED Games in fall 2014. XSEED Games will share more information in the coming months.

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Dear Gamers,

We know you’ve been waiting on a Dying Light release date for quite some time now. After careful consideration, we have decided to release our upcoming game in February 2015. Since this means Dying Light will launch a few months later than originally planned, we feel obliged to explain the reasons that influenced this important decision.

When we started the development of Dying Light, we were committed to innovation. We wanted to give you a freedom of movement unprecedented in open world games. After many improvements and months of hard work, we have now come so close to realizing our initial vision we feel we cannot stop before it is ready.

We believe the Natural Movement element of our game will change what you expect from the genre, and we don’t want to sacrifice any of its potential by releasing too early. This quality-focused thinking underlines all our development choices and we hope you share our belief that the gameplay must always come first.
The new date ensures that we can fully realize our vision of an innovative open world game. We won’t need to make compromises or trade-offs on any of the five platforms we’re working on. For you, it means an outstanding, original game that makes the wait more than worthwhile.

Finally, we would like to thank our publishing partner, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which fully supports our decision. It’s a real pleasure to work in an environment where quality is universally accepted as the top priority. We believe that this is the only way to make truly incredible games.

We also have an additional announcement for you: starting next month at E3 2014, we’ll be telling you much more about all the exciting features and different aspects of Dying Light. Stay tuned!
-- Dying Light Team

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The Bridge, a black-and-white indie puzzler in the style of M. C. Escher, will be available on both Mac and Linux for Steam on Friday, May 16, 2014. The price of The Bridge is $9.99, and it will feature SteamPlay with cross-platform cloud game saves. The Bridge released for Windows and Xbox 360 in 2013 and has received tremendous critical and audience praise, selling over 125,000 copies to date. The Bridge has received international attention after receiving nominations in contests such as the IGF, PAX 10, Indie Game Challenge, and IndieCade. Below is a complete list of accolades for The Bridge:

The Bridge is a 2D logic puzzle game that forces the player to reevaluate their preconceptions of physics and perspective. It is Isaac Newton meets M. C. Escher. Manipulate gravity to redefine the ceiling as the floor while venturing through impossible architectures. Explore increasingly difficult worlds, each uniquely detailed and designed to leave the player with a pronounced sense of intellectual accomplishment. The Bridge exemplifies games as an art form, with beautifully hand-drawn art in the style of a black-and-white lithograph.

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Idea Factory International is excited to announce today that its first PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system title, Monster Monpiece, will be released in digital format via PlayStation®Network on May 27 for the North American market and on May 28 for the European market. Monster Monpiece will be available to purchase for $29.99.

Monster Monpiece is a card-battling strategy game with light RPG elements, providing a simple yet strategic card-based battle system with a charming story. Monster Monpiece also supports Ad-hoc and Network multiplayer game modes, so you can test your customized decks against other players online!


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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Speaking in Forked Tongues - My Book Is Out, And It's For Sale!  

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 Books: Well, it's been a long time coming but the day is finally here… My most recent book, Speaking in Forked Tongues, is finally available for sale in both electronic and paperback formats everywhere books are sold, although that link goes to Amazon.

Back in 2007, I started this blog with the intention of talking about writing and games in a 50-50 ratio, it didn't really pan out that way… After trying my hand at it a few times, I realized that my own writing process was mostly internal, and discussing it publicly came off like I was trying to appear smarter than I am. As such, I held off on discussing it for the most part, and I've been more than happy to drench Coffeecola in games. But, since today is a big day, I'll make an exception to that and touch on my books just a bit.



Speaking in Forked Tongues was originally started in 2001. Back then I was working a job that gave me several hours of unsupervised free time, and rather than sitting and staring at a wall, I decided to use that time to start chipping away at a book. Progress came fast and furious, and I was knocking out at least a couple of pages a day. Then, as it always does, life happened.

After getting through a big chunk, maybe the first third, my ex decided that she wanted a change of pace and my life was thrown into a period of nonstop turmoil. My entire existence became focused on dealing with that situation. All of my work on the book got put on hold, and I basically stopped writing about anything for quite some time. I even left Gamecritics.com.

Although I came back to reviewing games after six months of being in a dead zone of productivity, I still left the book untouched… I just wasn't feeling it, and definitely wasn't in the right frame of mind. Then, after a number of years went by and I started to feel better about my life situation (thanks almost entirely to my wonderful wife Gina) I started considering fiction again. I didn't get back to Forked Tongues right away, though.

Somewhere around 2005 or 2006, I ran into a friend of mine who’s an accomplished author published many times, and we started talking about writing. I mentioned that I had an unfinished manuscript, and we started kicking around ideas… Eventually we came to the conclusion that we should work on a book together. The thought of getting a fresh start sounded great, and I went for it.

The result of this partnership was an all-new project called Remember Tomorrow, which was completed and has been on sale in electronic format for some time.



It was kind of an experimental project for both of us and my co-author wanted to retain his anonymity, so out of respect for that, I didn't talk about it except with a few close friends. Now that Forked Tongues is out, I asked if he would agree to me breaking the silence, and he said yes. So, for anyone who's interested in my first published work, you can buy it right here, published under a pen name. It's a strange little book that took a few twists and turns on its way to being written, but parts of it really make me smile.  

After Remember Tomorrow wrapped up, I took a break to evaluate and still felt good about being in the writing process again, and this is when I decided to pick Forked Tongues back up. Although I still clearly remembered what I was doing in the story and where I left off, what I didn't account for was how much I would change in the years between when I began and when I resumed.

Looking back at my manuscript and notes, they sometimes seemed as though they were written by a different person… Certain ideas had changed, most of my references were out of date, and a big portion of that book was written from a different personal perspective. (It also had way more sex and videogame references, too.) It was a little challenging to get myself back in that same headspace and some things just had to be scrapped or reworked overall, but I think I did a solid job of finishing what I started so long ago, and here it is.

So what’s it about? 

Here’s the synopsis….


Bren Barran is a normal guy in most ways. All he really wants is a sweet girlfriend and enough time and money to play videogames, but his job keeps getting in the way. After all, opening trans-dimensional gates to hell and summoning demons for money isn’t the sort of thing that you can leave at the office when the clock hits five. Even so, he’s doing all right until someone (or something) starts making people in his line of work disappear. With nothing in his corner except for his job skills, a few friends in low places, and a good head on his shoulders, Bren’s got to do everything he can to figure out what’s going on before all hell breaks loose (literally) and he ends up dead… or much, much worse.


 …But for those who want to know more, Speaking in Forked Tongues sprung from a few sources.

Primarily, it was based on my love of the Urban Fantasy genre before it was hijacked by heavy romance elements and too many vampires. There’s nothing wrong with shapeshifting sex and undead love triangles, but the genre blew well past the saturation point for that type of story and it seemed like there was nothing else on the shelves. I wanted to try my own hand at something that didn't fit that profile.

Another source of inspiration was modern life as a (then) young person trying to make their way in the world. When I was growing up, my parents said that I should get a 9-5 job and just stay wherever it was until retirement age, but they didn't realize how much things had changed since their time. I mean, they both got jobs right out of high school and were able to make enough money to buy a house, a couple of cars, and would have been very comfortable if they’d been better about managing their money.

Leaving home and being on my own was a bit of a struggle. This book wasn't written as some sort of "woe is me" story at all, but it sort of comes from a reflection of that reality – and it’s a reality that’s only gotten worse.

Many Forked Tongues test readers gave me feedback that they didn’t like how the main character depended on his parents so much, or that he didn’t somehow ‘grow’ or become more capable and independent by the end of the book, and to that I say “Yup.” Although Forked Tongues is not autobiographical, I’ve seen so many friends struggle to make it and fail, only to come back and live in their old room, or to borrow money from their parents, or to somehow otherwise lean on their families for survival. The reality of being a successful-out-of-high-school person (or even a successful-out-of-college person) is a myth these days, and I wanted to capture that feeling.

Another theme was one of wanting to resist having a typical hero sharp enough to put everything together and overcome everything on his own. I wanted to explore a story where the main character was just an average guy in most ways, and was doing the best he could with a really out-of-control situation. What would the average guy do? What would be realistic? Of course, that's not to say that my book is entirely realistic -- far from it--- but I do like that he struggles quite a bit and leans very heavily on support from others, which calls back to the situation I just referenced.

So with all that stuff aside, one final (and enormous) influence in writing this book was a 1989 film called The January Man starring Kevin Kline. 


I can't remember the first time I saw this movie, but what I do remember is that it completely blew my mind. Anyone interested in non-standard crime films should check it out, because this story about a detective tracking down a serial killer has one of the most memorable endings I've ever seen -- it was totally realistic in a way that most films wouldn't dare, and I desperately wanted to capture some of that same honesty and sensibility.

So, there you have it. 

Before I close this up, I’d like to thank my wonderful wife Gina for all her encouragement and support. She kept me going so many times when I wanted to kick it all to the curb, and I'm eternally grateful for the nudging. I’d also like to thank my anonymous writing partner for getting me back into the game, Rebecca Quintana for giving me some valuable last-minute feedback,and my publisher Typhoon Media (and their imprint, Lightning Originals) for taking a chance on me, and this story. It's always been a dream to see a book of mine become a reality like this, and they made it happen.

Thanks also to you for reading this post, this blog, and my books, if you pop for them! If you do, feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you thought, or you can always post something here as well.

…Oh, and to my readers who don’t give a rip about my book, no worries. The next blog post will be back to Coffeecola business as usual! See you then!

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