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Xbox One | Dead Rising 3's Ridiculous Combo Weapons Revel in Capcom Nostalgia E-mail
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Written by Munk   

We look at some of the more absurd weapons you can cobble together in this Xbox One launch title.


Has Dead Rising 3 become too serious for its own good? We'll put it this way: this is a game where you can outfit yourself in a flowery summer dress, and then twirl in circles as you mow down zombies using crudely modified gloves with machine gun barrels for fingers. But as crazy as that visual is, some of the coolest and most ridiculous weapon combos in Dead Rising 3 are those where the development team at Capcom Vancouver offers a very absurd wink and a nudge toward the history of its parent company.

One of those weapon combos is a handy little number called the Dragon Punch. Take a pair of boxing gloves and a motorcycle engine, slap them together using the type of mechanical prowess you can find only in video games, and you've got an ultra-powered pair of boxing gloves capable of letting you live out your inner Ken or Ryu. Dead Rising 3 protagonist Nick Ramos shouts "Shoryuken!" as he uppercuts a throng of undead foes, or "Hadoken!" as he dashes toward them with arms extended and hands held together.

All the while these poor zombies are getting the living daylights clobbered out of them thanks to the extra power of that motorcycle engine. It's a sight to behold, thanks in no small part to just how ridiculous those makeshift gloves look in concert with whatever Nick might be wearing at the time. Now if only Nick had the lower-body strength to pull off a convincing Tatsumaki.

If Ryu and Ken aren't really your thing, you can always craft an item called the Roaring Thunder. This guy requires you to find a Blanka mask and a car battery, and from there you can pretty much use your imagination as to what might be the result. But here's a spoiler: it's a mangled monstrosity of a mask, with pulsing electricity and exposed metalwork bolted atop Blanka's otherwise handsome visage. Trigger your attack, and Nick will crouch down and zap any nearby zombies with a rather impressive rendition of Blanka's signature special. Almost makes you wonder why Capcom hasn't given Blanka his own zombie survival game yet.

It's worth noting that Dead Rising 3's weapon-crafting system won't always require these specific combinations of weapons. As you work your way through the role-playing-game-inspired leveling system, you'll be able to unlock expanded crafting in over a dozen different item categories, ranging from melee weapons to novelty items. What this means is that you no longer need that specific pair of items, but rather a pair of items with similar traits. So instead of crafting that Roaring Thunder with a car battery, you might be able to use a flashlight, since they both share the electrical trait. Capcom's aim is to make it so that you can eventually combine one item with any other item in the game.

It's good to see that Dead Rising 3 hasn't lost its penchant for silliness. Yes, the story and setting are dark and gloomy, but the humor in this series has always stemmed from the contrast between the dire situation you're faced with and what you choose to do with the sheer assortment of items around you. And in this case, it's clear that Capcom Vancouver wants you to be able to do some very silly things.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"Xbox One | Dead Rising 3's Ridiculous Combo Weapons Revel in Capcom Nostalgia" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Thu, 22 Aug 2013 09:28:45 -0700
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Wii U | How Call of Duty: Ghosts' New Multiplayer Mode Balances Chaos With Strategy E-mail
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Written by Munk   

Blitz mode may seem simple, but it comes with its own unique twist on teamwork.


There's something deceptively complex about the new Blitz multiplayer mode in Call of Duty: Ghosts. Sure, it looks simple enough: two teams try to defend a magical glowing circle within their base, and if anyone from the competing team manages to dash inside that circle without getting killed, that sneaky player will earn one point and find himself instantly teleported back to the safety of his own side of the map. It is, essentially, CTF without ever needing to pick up a flag.

And wouldn't you know it, combining that straightforward rule set with Call of Duty's frenetic pacing can lead to some pretty chaotic action. With the ability to teleport right back to your base, you can charge headfirst into the enemy stronghold knowing you need only the slightest shred of health in order to score a point and make it back alive. Once you've got your eyes on that circle, you know you've got to go for it.

And that's exactly what you wind up first. But spend more time with Blitz mode, and you'll find a competitive multiplayer experience that balances that chaos with a pretty substantial need for team strategy. For one thing, scoring a point triggers a 10-second cooldown period on the enemy team's circle. There's nothing worse than being that guy who runs into the circle immediately after his teammate scores a point, only to find himself surrounded by enemies without the ability to teleport home to safety. You've got to coordinate the timing of those attacks, spacing them out enough to make sure no one gets left high and dry.

Of course, coordinating those attacks doesn't have to be a clean and precise endeavor. Say you've got your gaze fixed firmly on the enemy circle with too much ground to cover before getting gunned down by enemies. Just throw a flashbang while dashing toward the circle, and as long as you continue a fixed line, you may just distract your enemies long enough to score yourself a point--blindness and all. It's those little ways of buying a quick route into the enemy base that makes Blitz such a chaotic but entertaining endeavor.

Then there's the need for defense. If everyone is attacking the enemy base, that means you're leaving your own base completely uncontested. Success in Blitz mode requires at least a few players to hang back and guard the fort, preferably those who've outfitted their character with enough claymores to surround the circle with deadly stopping power. And given that scoring a point automatically teleports you back to base, there's a very fluid distinction between attacker and defender. You can reel off a few quick points in a row, and find yourself in a position to hold tight and play defense for a bit.

Or maybe you just use defense as a decoy. Don't kill the enemies attacking your base--that would just send them back to their side of the map where some of your teammates might be working on scoring points. So instead, you just distract them for a bit. A spray of gunfire here and there to keep them pinned behind cover. That keeps them away from their base, giving your guys enough breathing room to score a point or two.

It's situations like these that make Blitz a surprisingly rewarding game mode for how straightforward the match parameters are. Sure it's chaotic, but to find success, you need to manipulate that chaos to your advantage.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"Wii U | How Call of Duty: Ghosts' New Multiplayer Mode Balances Chaos With Strategy" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:51:54 -0700
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Xbox One | Forza 5's Career Mode Is About Exploring Cars, Not the Life of an Eccentric Billionaire E-mail
Written by Munk   

With a more open-ended career mode, Turn 10 is aiming to let you explore every style of car however you choose.


If there's one thing Forza Motorsport has always done a good job of simulating--besides, you know, the actual driving--it's the rags-to-riches character arc of an increasingly wealthy billionaire. You start off with a modest little city car like the Nissan Micra or Ford Ka, and then proceed to build up a garage full of faster and more luxurious supercars. At least, that's how the career mode progression has worked in previous Forza titles. With Forza 5, Turn 10 is aiming to mix up the routine.

Forza 5's career mode is no longer focused on starting with cheap cars and working your way up the economic ladder. Instead, it's a sort of choose-your-own-adventure novel spanning numerous styles and eras throughout the history of motorsports. You can begin in any of eight leagues, which are basically categories like exotics, vintage, and sport compact. But within those eight leagues are 42 much more specialized events. Sound confusing? We'll explain.

Take the sport compact league, for example. Housed within this umbrella you'll find events such as hot hatches or rally sport. Turn 10 describes these events as mini-career modes in themselves--each spanning enough races to last roughly 90 minutes--which have been designed to let you progress all the way through with a single car. Sure, you can still mix it up with different cars that fit the event restrictions, but you're no longer forced to say goodbye to a car that you've grown attached to once those more powerful models begin filling the starting grid.

Once you've completed an event, you can choose any other you'd like--there's no predefined event arc. Turn 10 wants you to be able to immerse yourself within a family of cars, and then jump to whatever strikes your fancy once that event is complete. You can bounce from demanding supercars to sensible coupes right back up to hulking American muscle--the order doesn't matter. Add in Top Gear commentary spread through each event, and you're not only learning how these different families of cars handle, but also hearing Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May explain the cultural significance at the same time.

Of course, there is still a progression to all of this. You're still earning credits, buying new cars to add to your garage, and spending that money on performance upgrades. All of that is still there. But given the career mode's more open-ended nature, you'll be leveling at a more steady rate--what Turn 10 describes as a "metronomic" cadence of level-ups hitting roughly once per hour of gameplay. It's their way of saying they don't think that exotic league you played through at hour 20 of your career mode should take eons longer to level up in than the grand touring league you chose right at the start of the game.

We're eager to see how this idea pans out. The advantage to the old system is obvious: starting with cheap cars and working your way up to the fancier ones provides a nice, clear progression system to follow. Can Turn 10 keep your attention with this more free-form approach? We'll find out later this year.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"Xbox One | Forza 5's Career Mode Is About Exploring Cars, Not the Life of an Eccentric Billionaire" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 11:43:04 -0700
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Xbox 360 | Can Dying Light Freshen Up a Rotting Genre? E-mail
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Written by Munk   

The thrill of first-person parkour can be a game changer to zombie-killing action games, but developer Techland needs to work out its technical kinks.


Dying Light is quite a surprise; it blends the first-person free-running mechanics of EA's Mirror's Edge with a zombie apocalypse open-world concept. Combining the two may seem unorthodox, but the game's day and night cycle gives it a good reason to do so.

While your player character is out in the day, he performs a supply drop collection here and a stash-recovering objective there to get supplies and weapons, as well as gain skill points to bolster his current abilities. Melee options aren't in short supply, as you have access to a baseball bat, a machete, and a sledgehammer to take down zombies coming after you.

Be it a big one that can dish it out as much as it can take it, or a green pus-filled one that explodes upon death and unleashes corrosive goo, swinging at enemies and knocking them down is satisfying thanks to responsive controls. However, you can't swing irresponsibly because doing a melee attack drains your stamina meter bit by bit. When it's empty, you can't even deal a full-brunt swing on even the slowest of walking corpses.

Running, jumping, sliding while running, and dropkicking a zombie while doing a running jump feel great too, though the gamepad controls have taken us a while to get used to. You get access to handguns too, but their loud booming gunshots will alert nearby undead that will relentlessly pursue you.

All of the above may remind you of Techland's other zombie game, Dead Island. When nighttime hits, however, that's when it differentiates itself from its cousin. Your free-running skills are put to the test; the zombies become more aggressive, slightly more intelligent, and tougher to kill.

With ammo being scarce and weapons not having much of an effect, you don't have much of a choice but to run like hell. Fleeing from the undead horde to your safe house is really thrilling and tense, as zombies can pop up wherever and whenever, as well as pursue you to kingdom come. A couple of tricks come in handy: you can push away zombies by holding the X button while up close to an enemy and then flick the left analog stick to any direction, or you can use a zombie as a platform by double-jumping over its head.

Even with the thrill of the chase, we had some trouble with the game's camera. While a game like Mirror's Edge reduced head-bobbing effects and had a white blip in the centre of the screen to minimize potential nausea from the free-running, there is no such luxury in Dying Light. We foresee players getting motion sickness easily with the constant motion your player character has to go through to survive and complete story objectives in the game.

Dying Light's melding of gameplay ideas could make it a surprising success, thanks to its day and night open-world mechanic. This being the studio that did Dead Island: Riptide and Call of Juarez: The Cartel, however, it may be dealing with an uphill struggle. Zombie game fans can expect this undead genocidal concoction in 2014 for next-gen consoles, the Xbox 360, the PS3, and the PC.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"Xbox 360 | Can Dying Light Freshen Up a Rotting Genre? " was posted by Jonathan Toyad on Wed, 12 Jun 2013 12:16:09 -0700
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Xbox One | How Forza 5 Is Crowd-Sourcing Artificial Intelligence E-mail
Written by Munk   

Thanks to some ambitious cloud-based technology, you'll never race against vanilla AI in Turn 10's latest racing sim.


With features like assisted steering and a driving line telling you how to approach each corner, the Forza Motorsport series has always excelled at giving newcomers the tools to overcome racing barriers. And with the latest iteration in the franchise, Turn 10 Studios is aiming to let players overcome the greatest barrier of all: how to continue playing Forza when you're not actually playing Forza.

The approach? A cloud-powered upgrade to the Drivatar technology that debuted way back in 2005's original Forza Motorsport. In this latest game, Drivatar is constantly keeping track of your driving habits: how aggressive you are in the straights, how prone you are to cutting corners, and whether or not you're afraid to trade a little paint when the situation calls for it.

Forza 5 takes all of this data and sends it to the cloud after every race. In doing so, Forza 5 is storing a virtual representation of every single player in the world. If you play Forza 5, you'll have your own doppelganger living in the cloud. And the more you play, Turn 10 says, the more accurate that doppelganger will be.

Here's the most interesting part: these cloud-powered representations of human players are the drivers that make up every event in the game, whether it's an online match that needs to fill out a few extra slots or a single-player race deep into your career mode. That means you'll never be racing against vanilla AI. Every driver you encounter in the game is based on the actual driving habits of another human being.

The game does this by pulling data from the cloud and matching other players' skills with your own. Turn 10 insists that you'll be given plenty of control over what types of drivers you're matched up against, with various settings and toggles to fine-tune the matchmaking in terms of both skill and driving styles.

In doing all of this, Turn 10 is aiming to create a more human driving experience. It wants to move past the days where every AI you face just sort of blends into the other. Instead, Turn 10's goal is to let you face off against a grid of racers who each boast their own unique personalities and eccentricities.

So what happens once you've turned off the system and your Drivatar finds his or herself downloaded into Xboxes across the world? Well, you'll get paid for it, of course. Every race that your virtual doppelganger takes part in will earn you in-game currency to buy new cars and upgrades. You may be lying in bed reading a book, but you'll be making sweet, sweet virtual credits in the process.

For more on Forza Motorsport, check out GameSpot's video feature about the history of the franchise.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"Xbox One | How Forza 5 Is Crowd-Sourcing Artificial Intelligence" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 12 Jun 2013 09:20:24 -0700
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Xbox One | Five Things We Noticed About Call of Duty: Ghosts E-mail
Written by Munk   

Guiding your dog, shooting at fish, and playing your part in Call of Duty: Ghosts.


Activision has been showing off the first gameplay for its revamped Call of Duty game at E3 2013. The story in Call of Duty: Ghosts takes place more than a decade after an as-yet-unspecified event dethrones America as a world superpower. As a result of the incident, you and your brother grow up a product of this new age, taking up arms as part of a resistance force. While developer Infinity Ward says that this turning of the tables means you'll no longer have the juicy military gadgets you normally would at your disposal, the demo we saw definitely didn't have us fighting with pointy sticks. Read on for five things we noticed during our demo of Call of Duty: Ghosts.

You will need to prepare your approach

Plenty of jokes have already been made about the inclusion of a dog in this year's instalment, but after seeing the game in action, it's clear that the addition adds a stealth helper as much as it does a fighting sidekick. Riley, your canine companion, is fitted with its own tactical vest, which includes a periscope-style camera you can deploy in the field to scout ahead before wading into combat. There will still be plenty of time to go in with guns blazing, but in at least one section, it was useful to pull out a tablet controller, take control in pup view, and issue commands to mark targets before launching our attack.

Dogs can wear headphones too

Like any good member of the team, Riley is equipped with an earpiece and is wired for sound. This allows you to whisper sweet nothings and orders during tense moments. These include commands to sneak in and scope out the scene, or go straight for the jugular, biting at opponents' arms and tearing out their throats. Just pretend every bad guy is the mail carrier.

You will still need to do the bulk of the work for your team

Another mission we saw had us as part of a three-man team, stealthily infiltrating a high-rise office block in Caracas, Venezuela. After firing bolts to secure ziplines, we slowly slid our way down the outer glass of the building, allowing us to pick off groups of guards. Some sat facing away, oblivious to our presence, making for easy targets, while others loitered around, playing poker in an adjacent room. It's clear the game wants you to be the one pulling the trigger, rather than simply being along for the ride, so expect to do the majority of the heavy lifting, even when shoulder-to-shoulder with a teammate with a clear shot.

You will fire a gun underwater

Yep, you read that right. While plenty of previous games in the series have seen you don a wetsuit and mask to go for a swim, it has typically been under the premise of simply getting behind enemy lines before ascending to the surface. COD: Ghosts will give you a chance to do full underwater warfare. In another mission that took place in the Caribbean, we began by navigating a coral and seaweed playground, while colourful fish darted around us. A warning from our partner said that while we could fire our rifle, we'd need to put twice as many bullets into our victims as we would on dry land--he was right.

Underwater hand-launched guided missiles are a thing

Spotted and targeted by a roving submarine, we pulled out a hand-launched guided missile. Just as was the case when shooting down the enemy helicopter early in the Black Ops II campaign, once out of the tube, we steered it in manually, homing in on the red targeting reticle. And no, before you ask, the dog was not paddling along with us in a fishbowl diving helmet; he'll only join you for certain missions from the looks of things.

For more on Call of Duty: Ghosts, check out GameSpot's live stage demo.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"Xbox One | Five Things We Noticed About Call of Duty: Ghosts" was posted by Dan Chiappini on Tue, 11 Jun 2013 22:13:57 -0700
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Xbox One | Four Details About Destiny You Probably Missed at Sony's Press Conference E-mail
Written by Munk   

We fill in a few gaps from Bungie's gameplay debut.


Amid all the announcements about used-game policies and hardware pricing, one of the other highlights of Sony's E3 press conference was finally getting the chance to see Destiny in action. Sure enough, Bungie's new game looked fantastic. One day later, we just had the opportunity to see the demo a second time behind closed doors and managed to pick up on a few details you might have missed in last night's gameplay debut.

We're Pretty Certain Peter Dinklage Is Your Robo Buddy

At one point, the player-controlled Guardians find themselves exploring a pitch-black hallway in dire need of some light. Fortunately for these intrepid explorers, one of the players came equipped with a floating orb companion named Ghost. This little guy not only acts as a beacon in the darkness, but provides some cheeky commentary to boot. But listen closely, and you'll hear a familiar voice. Bungie wouldn't confirm this, but we're fairly certain Ghost is voiced by Peter Dinklage. In other words, Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones might just be your floating robo buddy. Now that's a casting decision we can get behind.

The Weapon Names Are Delightfully Ridiculous

After the players defeat that first boss-level enemy, a hulking beast dubbed an archon slayer, their reward is a loot drop consisting of a couple of rare weapons. One of them is a slick blue light machine gun glowing with electrical energy called the Thunderlord. The other? A sniper rifle that has clearly seen better days, patched together with all manner of makeshift repair methods. Naturally, the name of this gun--as relayed by Bungie itself--is "Duct Tape Fixes Everything."

The Enemy AI Is Very Adaptive

Onstage, there was a big shootout that required the two players to take out a group of Fallen, those creepy four-armed aliens who leap about while brandishing not one but two swords at a time. What we saw in this second playthrough revealed an interesting detail about how the group AI of these enemies might function. Basically, the two players manage to carve through the entire enemy onslaught save for one remaining Fallen. Rather than surrender himself to certain death, this enemy decides it would make a whole lot more sense to hightail it out of there and thus preserve his own life. Yes, enemies can actually sense their odds dwindling and act accordingly. Sadly for him, the Bungie rep playing the game let this poor chap think he'd succeeded in taking the coward's way out just before popping him in the head with a pistol for a critical hit.

Sure, Destiny is hardly the only first-person shooter to employ this type of adaptive enemy AI--but it's always refreshing to see an action game that recognizes that enemies can be a whole lot more interesting when they're not simply flinging themselves into certain death for the sake of the player's enjoyment.

So That's What Bungie Meant by a "Hopeful World"

When we took a trip up to Bungie a few months ago to hear about the ideas driving this new franchise, one of the most frequently repeated phrases was this concept of a "hopeful world." We weren't really sure what to make of it at the time. How does hope play such a central role in a ravaged vision of earth where the few vestiges of humanity are caught in a perpetual struggle against all manner of nasty aliens?

Now things are a lot clearer. Take one look at the opening shot from that Destiny demo, and you'll see what they meant by a hopeful world. The glowing sunset, the trees dotting snowcapped hills, the mountains towering in the distance--Bungie's penchant for creating gorgeous atmospherics is present here more than ever. Humanity may have been pushed to the brink of extinction, but the Earth is making a pretty convincing case that this is a place worth fighting for.

For more on Destiny, be sure to check out GameSpot's live stage demo.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"Xbox One | Four Details About Destiny You Probably Missed at Sony's Press Conference" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Tue, 11 Jun 2013 17:57:15 -0700
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Xbox One | Dead Rising 3 and the Case of the Disappearing Banana Hammock E-mail
Written by Munk   

Why Dead Rising 3 isn't nearly as serious as the Xbox press conference made it out to be.


When Dead Rising 3 made its debut at the Xbox press conference yesterday, longtime fans of the series raised a collective eyebrow at what appeared to be a significant tonal shift for the franchise. And with good reason: this is a series well known for its absurd sense of humor. Ridiculous weapons, unflattering costumes--these tools for goofing around are just as critical to Dead Rising as the zombie outbreak you're attempting to survive.

All of this made Capcom's demo of Dead Rising 3 seem a little strange. Here was a plain-dressed mechanic fellow in rural California slaughtering a cavalcade of zombies with nary an inappropriate bathing suit in sight. Where were the ridiculous costumes? The wildly overpowered weapons? It all looked so straightforward. So serious.

Not so fast. In a follow-up demo, we got a chance to talk to the development team at Capcom Vancouver, and the folks working on the game are just as aware that humor is a cornerstone of this series as everyone watching that press conference yesterday.

According to executive producer Josh Bridge, they wanted to introduce the game on a serious note so that when they get around to showing the humorous elements of the game, fans will see that "the juxtaposition is stronger than ever." After all, the humor in Dead Rising games has always been rooted in the fact that a very serious story is playing out while the player goes about doing very ridiculous things. It is, in other words, humor based in contrast.

"Don't worry; we've got the banana hammock," Bridge assured us with a sly smile.

Beyond ensuring that players still have the chance to goof around during a terrifying zombie apocalypse, some of the new features in Dead Rising 3 include a more traditional open-world setting (think fewer corridors and loading barriers separating discrete zones), as well as a damage model that allows you to precisely slice away at a zombie's various body parts and see the results of your handiwork play out with gruesome accuracy. And while we didn't get to see it in action, producer Mike Jones tells us that you can now combo "anything with anything." Pre-set weapon recipes will still yield the most effective results, though Jones tells us that you are free to tinker around with any collection of items to see if they yield a devastating original weapon or just a useless experiment gone wrong.

However, the boldest change of all is probably that Capcom Vancouver has done away with the countdown clock on the default play setting, giving you the opportunity to goof around within the overall sandbox without the stress of a deadline looming over you. But in a nod to those Dead Rising purists who would prefer to have a countdown clock urging them forward, that's available as an alternate play mode you can choose to enable if you're up to the task.

Capcom has promised a longer demo here at E3 showing more of the sandbox elements in Dead Rising 3. We'll be sure to report back with our zombie-slaying exploits once we've had a chance to check the game out.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"Xbox One | Dead Rising 3 and the Case of the Disappearing Banana Hammock " was posted by Shaun McInnis on Tue, 11 Jun 2013 07:40:47 -0700
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Xbox One | The Crew: Playing Matchmaker in a Massive Open-World Racer E-mail
Written by Munk   

There's more to Ubisoft's new arcade racer than a giant sandbox.


After releasing the wonderfully ridiculous Driver: San Francisco in 2011, Ubisoft is ready to take another shot at the open-world racing genre with The Crew. Developed by Test Drive Unlimited veterans Ivory Tower along with Ubisoft Reflections, The Crew is a PC and next-gen exclusive where your driving playground is a shrunken down version of the entire United States. With 10,000 kilometers of roadways and a map that will take players two hours to drive from coast to coast, The Crew's gargantuan sandbox is looking awfully impressive.

But besides its sheer scale, one of the most interesting features about The Crew is the way it incorporates multiplayer into its open-world design. This is a game aiming to do away with discrete single-player and multiplayer modes; its goal is to act as a sort of invisible matchmaker--similar to what Bungie has stated it's planning to do with Destiny--by performing behind-the-scenes networking and grouping players together based on where they are in the world.

Whether you're cruising downtown Manhattan or off-roading in the dusty hills outside Las Vegas, you'll always be connected to eight other players. Those are the people playing The Crew at the same time as you who happen to be closest in the game world. Head off in another direction and the game will swap in new players of a more appropriate geographical distance. The cool thing about all this is that you're never shown a "connecting to Player X" screen or anything of that nature; it's all done invisibly and seamlessly under the hood.

How you engage--or don't engage--with those players is up to you. You can challenge them to various races and activities, or simply cruise by them in your highly customized licensed vehicle with the smug knowledge that their stock car hasn't been tuned to high heaven like yours has. At the most basic level, players are grouped together to add more human life and activity to these driving environments. From there, it's up to you what you do with these players.

But no matter where you are in the world, you'll always be shown a map of where your friends are. If you're doing a street race in Miami and happen to grow suddenly grow incredibly lonely once you notice you're friends are all off-roading in the Rockies, you can simply pull open a map and fast travel right to them. In fact, you can fast travel anywhere you want at any time--so long as you've unlocked those portions of the map through the story mode.

Combine all of this into an arcade racer with a 500 square-kilometer map full of events you can trigger at virtually every intersection and you've got--in our eyes at least--a very promising next-gen racer. Hopefully The Crew doesn't hide too much of its fun behind the overall story progression, because this looks the type of game that could be great for getting a few friends together and cruising the sandbox just goofing around.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"Xbox One | The Crew: Playing Matchmaker in a Massive Open-World Racer" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Mon, 10 Jun 2013 16:15:00 -0700
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PlayStation 3 | Changes That Seem All Too Familiar - Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn E-mail
Written by Munk   

Sweeping changes to Final Fantasy XIV may surprise and delight fans, but the new additions are old hat to those who have played other recent MMOs.


In 2010, the release of Final Fantasy XIV Online was met with heavy criticism. Impressive presentation aside, the MMO was riddled with issues, so much so that Square Enix eventually apologized for the quality of the game. The company promised a complete revamp, and hired a new producer who worked on the online-focused Dragon Quest X to spearhead development.

The result is Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. After our lengthy journey through the closed beta sessions of this new version of FFXIV Online using a Lalafell lancer, it's obvious that the producer and his team meant serious business in wiping the slate clean. A Realm Reborn is a completely different experience from the original Final Fantasy XIV. A new story, new gameplay, and a new graphics engine will make this title feel fresh to Final Fantasy fans, particularly those who were longtime players of Final Fantasy XI. However, the new additions to A Realm Reborn may not be eye-openers for MMO veterans, especially those who have played recent releases like Guild Wars 2 and Rift.

While the concepts of random encounters and daily quests aren't new, they are fresh ideas if your experience with the genre is limited to the Final Fantasy MMOs. Take the FATE (Full Active Time Event) system, for example, which is similar to random quests found in games like Guild Wars 2. While players are wandering around the enchanted hollows of Gridania, random FATE events will occur, such as an outbreak of monkey-like Opo-opos stealing coffee beans from a village or a gargantuan horde of Ixali insurgents storming a nearby fort. Players in the game world can jump in and earn more experience or loot by joining in the slaughter of these mobs. To reap the benefits, however, players will need to be about the same level as the requirements stated on the FATE event. High-level adventurers who complete a low-level FATE will get absolutely nothing for their troubles.

Another feature that's reworked is the Levequest system, which works exactly like daily quests in World of Warcraft. Once players have been to their first Guildleve club, they can start doing Levequests. These are entirely optional and do not come with a fatigue system like in the original FFXIV. The objectives for Levequests come in multiple consecutive forms; once a task in a Levequest is completed, players move on to the next until the entire mission is over or time runs out. Players can get bigger rewards if they complete these, though these quests can take up more time than usual and are meant for large groups.

A Realm Reborn also introduces a system called the hunting log, a feature that's familiar to anyone who's played Ragnarok Online 2. Players go through a checklist of enemies they need to kill for the log. Killing a required set of enemies will net adventurers extra experience. Players can take their sweet time and wander around Gridania at their leisure while doing these logs, as they're meant to reward those who explore the sights of the game world.

The new game play additions may be familiar, but they still make for an enjoyable experience. Our play session during the beta weekend was filled with similarly-leveled pugilists and spellcasters joining in unison as we beat down the aforementioned Opo-opos and Ixali birdmen until we had fulfilled the required amount of mob deaths. The up-close offensive capabilities of the lancer we used help complement the ranged attacks of our temporary partners during several FATE missions. Visually, Square Enix again show that they are masters of their craft. The sights of Gridania's huge forest areas and towns are easy on the eyes, while the background music that plays during exploration are relaxing to the ears.

Players seeking for something new in an MMO may not find the FATE and Levequest systems groundbreaking. However, the developers promise that there are more changes to come, like Chocobo-back battles, new player-versus-player options, and other nostalgic additions like enemy Behemoths and Iron Giants (from past FF titles), as well as Magitek Armor mounts (from FFVI). The new additions have done a lot to raise A Realm Reborn closer to modern standards for MMOs, now the challenge remains to elevate it even further.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"PlayStation 3 | Changes That Seem All Too Familiar - Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn " was posted by Jonathan Toyad on Fri, 03 May 2013 01:39:13 -0700
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