The Game Guy

 

MKX coverThe Mortal Kombat series has carved its own space within the fighting genre. Popularity within the genre is usually achieved through high level play at tournaments like Evo. If a game headlines there, it’s reached the pinnacle of the genre. But “Mortal Kombat” has found a way to appeal casual fighting game fans, while being a part of that tournament scene.

 

Other games in the space could benefit from taking some of the ideas in “MK 9” and recently “MK X.” The game is packed with offerings that are more substantial than just local versus matches and online multiplayer. While offering this abundance of content, “MK X” suffers from a bloat of downloadable content. Both the fighting genre and the “Mortal Kombat” series would benefit from observing each other.

Join the conversation:

 

MLB15 coverI’ve been on review duty for Sony’s exclusive “MLB: The Show” series for several years now. Each new year seems to be a marginal improvement from its predecessor. But now I’ve noticed that it’s getting to be nearly impossible to measure its merits because the previous year is the only baseball game to compare it to. Much like the the “Madden NFL” series, “MLB: The Show” is the only simulator available for its sport. So, in reality, is it actually a stellar representation of a baseball video game, or does it just appear that way because its the only game in town? This is really impossible to know because we don’t know what we could be missing.

 

As it stands, “The Show” is still an excellent representation of America’s Pastime. “MLB 15: The Show” perfectly captures what I imagine it is like to play on the diamond in the bigs. If playing professional baseball is anything like guiding a virtual created player from AA to MLB, then it must be a total thrill. But that climb takes work. The premier mode of “The Show” has always been its “Road to the Show” (RttS) mode. This mode allows you to play as an existing player or a created player. The journey starts in the small towns of AA ball. If success is found there you’ll be called up to AAA. Eventually your dreams will come true in the major leagues, but the pressure of the big leagues proves Diddy's axiom of “mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

Join the conversation:

 

Borderlands coverThe original “Borderlands” marked the beginning of a craze. As the brash marketing loved to yell, it was as if a shooter and RPG birthed a lovechild. The open world of Pandora with its cast of kooky misfits brought hours of co-op grinding, laughs and entertainment in its broadest sense. Unfortunately, the original game that started it all isn’t part of the remastered “Handsome Collection,” but its two sequels are. Including the two games starring Handsome Jack is both good and bad depending on what sequel is in question.

 

“Borderlands 2” improved on nearly everything from the original: more guns, different types of enemies, better conceptualized DLC and much improved writing thanks to lead writer Anthony Burch. “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel” tried to bring too much change to the formula. Not only was it too much change, but it wasn’t the right kind. The oxygen mechanic which gives each character a meter that perpetually ticks away when exploring the environments all but ruins the open-world nature of the series.


 

“The Handsome Collection” includes the latter two games of the series, but “Borderlands 2” is really the only one worth your time. I find it to be a strange choice to neglect the game that started the series, while including the most recent title that is widely accepted to be the weakest. But just measuring the amount of content included in the $60, there are still hundreds of hours here to occupy your time.

 

Both games received the typical remastered treatment we are used to seeing on the current-gen consoles. Frame rate has been improved to a steady 60 FPS while resolution is the now-standard 1080p. The 60 fps makes the action more pleasing to the eye, but this isn’t a “Last of Us”-calibur upgrade. There’s only so much detail designers can add to cell-shaded graphics. The frame rate is the biggest difference maker, but even that struggles in the Pre-Sequel. I encountered numerous frame rate drops in open areas with a lot of action.

 

The new hardware can be thanked for the new four-player split screen mode that is now possible. Four players can now play “Borderlands” at the same time on the same couch. Of course, this means you’ll need four controllers and three friends who want to play “Borderlands” who are all available at the same time. If you’re able to make that happen in today’s world that favors online play over couch co-op, then “The Handsome Collection” is easily worth the asking price.

 

BorderlandsHandsome3

 

If those friends have characters from the original games, then those characters can be uploaded to “The Handsome Collection.” This can’t be performed across console manufacturers. Characters from the Xbox 360 can be uploaded for Xbox One, and PS3 characters can be uploaded to the PS4. You’ll also need an original copy of “Borderlands 2” and “The Pre-Sequel” to access your character for the upload process. It’s an easy process if you still have the games.

 

As far as content goes, you’ll be hard pressed to find a remastered game or collection that has as much content as “The Handsome Collection.” It has two full games, plus nearly a dozen DLC areas, plus two new vault hunters per game. If you’re the hardest of hardcore “Borderlands” fan, this may be the only game you need this year.

 

“The Handsome Collection” doesn’t reinvent the wheel of remastered games. It’s a standard fare that we should now be used to in the current-gen era of rehashing old games with new graphics. That doesn’t mean this collection isn’t worth the money. “Borderlands 2” alone is nearly worth the price of admission for serious vault hunters. If you’re gung ho about revisiting the world of Pandora, “The Handsome Collection” is an attractive offer.


8.5 out of 10


Pros:

Unprecedented Value
Semi-stable 60 FPS
Port old characters

Cons:

No original "Borderlands"

BorderlandsHandsome1

 

Join the conversation:

How Spotify works on the PS4

Tuesday, 31 March 2015 10:18 AM Written by

spotHave you ever been stomping through the Forgotten Woods in “Bloodborne” and thought, “TLC’s 1999 smash hit No Scrubs would be the perfect soundtrack choice for this moment”? Or how about adding Lenny Kravitz’s rocking guitar riffs of American Woman to "The Order: 1886" as Sir Galahad, a British man, takes on lycans? Now these crimes against art are possible thanks to Spotify integration on the PlayStation 4.

But in all honesty, the use of Spotify on the PS4 is actually pretty cool. Music and playlists from the music streaming service can be played over any PS4 game. It doesn’t replace the game soundtrack like custom soundtracks did on the Xbox 360, but just turning down the game music from the game’s settings is any easy solution for this.

Join the conversation:

'Bloodborne' is really a gambling game

Thursday, 26 March 2015 12:00 PM Written by

 

BloodbornecoverI walk into a smoky casino at a hopeful pace and head to the pit of Blackjack tables. Once a suitable table is found, I meet my real life boss fight: the house dealer. Victory against this nemesis isn’t a defined time or state. It’s a judgment call. It’s deciding when I’ve taken enough of the casino’s money, or when I’ve taken enough of a beating. Whether it’s the former or the latter, it comes down to knowing when to walk away. It was after several hours of my “Bloodborne” review session that I discovered exactly why the gameplay was a combination or tense, exciting, rewarding and dangerously addictive. It perfectly captures the highs and lows of gambling with its blood echo system.

Join the conversation:

Meet the bosses of 'Bloodborne'

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 02:09 PM Written by

The wait for “Bloodborne” is over, and hundreds of thousands of people are meeting their demise in the treacherous world of Yharnam. But the creepy foot soldiers are nothing compared to the game’s goliath-esque bosses. These other-worldly creatures are the real stars of “Bloodborne’s” haunting game world.

Join the conversation:

 

BloodbornecoverMost action games star a great warrior with a special gift; something that makes that character special, or more powerful than the rest of the world. Dante from “Devil May Cry” or Master Chief from “Halo” are the all-powerful danger in their respective game worlds, and controlling characters with such a gift is its own brand of fun.

 

“Bloodborne,” From Studios’ spiritual successor to the “Dark Souls” series, turns the tables. The created character is not strong or special, and is put against seemingly insurmountable odds at virtually all times throughout the game. Like “Dark Souls” before it, such design comes with high difficulty, but overcoming that difficulty is what makes “Bloodborne” so satisfying.

Join the conversation:

 

OriCoverLet me start by giving game developers a quick pointer about my response to a specific kind of video game. If a game nails “Metroid-vania”-esque progression and exploration, I’m automatically interested. If it has that base and then adds something unique to the genre like a creative story and art style, I’ll place the game in the upper echelon of video games. Lastly, if it has extraordinarily tight, responsive controls, just go ahead and take my money. Moon Studios’ “Ori and the Blind Forest” meets all of the above criteria to become 2015’s first truly exceptional game.

Forget for a second that “Ori and the Blind Forest” is a total treat to play from beginning to end. Gameplay is such a driving force in this game that it’s easy to overlook the heartbreaking story that’s on display. The story is one of loss. Ori is a small spirit-like being who befriends a larger forest dweller. The two have a strong bond that is a mixture of parental and friendship. The once thriving forest begins to decay after a great storm of fire and lightning. Ori’s friend dies of starvation, forcing Ori to wander the forest alone. On that journey, Ori meets a spirit guardian named Sein.

Join the conversation:

Page 1 of 49