Max Parker (The Game Guy)
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced “Batman: Arkham Knight” today via press release. This new chapter in the “Batman: Arkham” franchise will conclude the best-selling series. It will be available later this year for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Developers Rocksteady Games are back at the helm of the series, after Warner Bros. Montreal handled last year’s prequel “Batman: Arkham Origins.”
Sometimes the simplest games are the best: “Tetris,” “Portal,” “Flappy Bird.” Then there are other times when simple games are hollow voids that don’t offer any new concepts or enjoyable gameplay. “Basement Crawl,” the downloadable PS4 game from indie developer Bloober Team, is an example of the latter. If it were available in physical media form, the basement would be a good place for it.
“Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare” transforms the tower defense series primarily found on mobile devices into a serious console shooter. It answers the question nobody asked: What’s really happening on the lawn when plants clash with the relentless onslaught of the undead? The answer is a brutal battle where chlorophyll is spilled and limbs are lost. The thought of that sounds pretty heinous, but “Garden Warfare’s” colorful, cartoonish veneer brings whimsical charm that is seriously lacking in today’s landscape of shooters.
“Thief” is the latest series to receive the reboot treatment. Rather than evolving with the times, and reinventing itself like last year’s “Tomb Raider,” Square Enix's and Eidos Montreal's “Thief” shows that it’s been left behind. It is better suited for the past in nearly every way.
Garrett, the famed thief from earlier games in the series, returns to do what he does best: stealing valuable goods from every class of citizen. He’s being hunted by the Thief Taker General, a character that the writers felt needed no introduction, but Garrett is more preoccupied by mysterious visions he has of his loved one and fellow thief, Erin.
Developer Double Helix Games is on a roll. First it was the “Killer Instinct” remake for Xbox One. Now it’s the multi-platform action adventure game “Strider.” This downloadable title calls back the exploration of 2D classics like “Castlevania” and “Metroid,” and combines it with quick twitch combat. Set this gameplay in a beautiful, yet sinister world of government oppression, and the result is a package worthy of $15.
Master assassin Strider Hiryu is sent on a mission by the Strider organization to take out the tyrannical leader of Kazakh. Along the way, Hiryu journeys through various neighborhoods around the city, and encounters many of the leader’s henchmen.
EA and Respawn Entertainment gave Xbox One and PC owners a taste of “Titanfall” with a six-day open beta that concluded Wednesday evening. In short, this hectic shooter feels like the first truly next-gen experience for either of the two new consoles.
Nintendo’s first-party developers seem to have one main goal: make old games feel like new again. Their latest entry, “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,” builds on the side-scrolling gameplay of the “Donkey Kong Country” series of the SNES. Its visuals have received an upgrade with the Wii U hardware, but the game plays nearly identical to the Wii and 3DS’ “Donkey Kong Country Returns” from 2010.
In “Tropical Freeze,” Donkey Kong’s peaceful island is under attack by a clan of cold weather animals called the Snowmads. The Snowmads have launched an attack on Donkey Kong’s tropical island, covering it in cold, snowy weather. Not every level in “Tropical Freeze” is snow themed, however, which doesn’t seem to gel with the story.
“Donkey Kong Country” games have never been known to push the boundaries of video game narratives. They’ve always been about simple and challenging gameplay that puts fun factor above all else. “Tropical Freeze” continues that tradition.
The gameplay formula is largely untouched from “Donkey Kong Country Returns.” Donkey Kong jumps, rolls, and has a ground pound ability that can stun enemies. “Tropical Freeze” continues the style of two-dimensional side-scrolling in the series, but each level has bright 3D environments. Donkey Kong will occasionally be launched into the background or foreground, putting him on a new plane with new obstacles.
He starts out on his own but can find help from his friends if he finds them in barrels. Diddy Kong, Kranky Kong, and Dixie Kong are all waiting to lend a hand with their unique abilities. Diddy Kong allows Donkey to hover in mid-air thanks to his jump jets. Kranky allows the use of his cane, which can bounce over hazardous obstacles like spikes. Dixie gives Donkey some extra altitude while jumping thanks to her ponytail helicopter.
Donkey Kong’s cast of pals help significantly during the later, harder levels. The levels, along with the world bosses, get incredibly challenging. “Tropical Freeze” toes the line between satisfying and frustrating.
Being a Wii U exclusive, the game could’ve benefited from features made possible with the second screen of the GamePad. Unfortunately, the second screen doesn’t do anything when playing on a TV. The GamePad’s screen turns off. The game can still be played on the GamePad when it’s selected as the main screen.
“Tropical Freeze” takes roughly five hours to complete, but there’s plenty more game to experience after the first completion. Collecting the “K,” “O,” “N,” and “G” letters unlocks bonus levels in each world. In addition to these bonus stages, each stage has puzzle pieces that can be collected to unlock concept art.
The classic mine cart levels are back, as are the rocket barrel stages from “Donkey Kong Country Returns.” These fan favorites return, but the gameplay doesn’t deviate far from what was in that previous Wii U game. The game continues the fun from the previous games but doesn’t bring many new ideas.
“Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” is a top-tier offering for the Wii U, but it doesn’t break the mold the same way “Super Mario 3D World” did late last year. It’s a Wii U exclusive, but it fails to take advantage of the GamePad. This is a good game that missed opportunities to be great.
8 out of 10
Challenging, yet satisfying gameplay
Fails to take advantage of the GamePad
Feels too familiar to "Donkey Kong Country Returns"
|Rated||E for Everyone|
5:01 - Satoru Iwata is on camera for the first Nintendo Direct of 2014.
5: 03 - The show kicks off by showing off a new trailer. The trailer shows off Little Mac from the "Punch Out" series. He's the new character in Super Smash Bros. He will be in both the 3DS and Wii U versions.
“Dying Light,” the upcoming first-person survival game from Techland and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, received a new trailer today. This trailer entitled “Humanity” shows a glimpse into the decaying world overrun with zombies.
“Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13-3” is a hefty dose of video game from the length of the title to the actual game itself. It’s the third installment of the thirteenth game of the “Final Fantasy” series. While it does bring truly inspired combat to the RPG genre, the total package proves that quantity doesn’t always bring quality.
The fan favorite heroine Lightning returns to the series after being absent from the previous game. The world is mere days away from ending. God has entrusted the skills of Lightning to carry out a number of missions in order to save the world. Since the world is on the brink of destruction, “Lightning Returns” features a running clock that constantly inches the game closer to doomsday.