Max Parker (The Game Guy)

Max Parker (The Game Guy)

 

The Evil Within boxartThe final release of “The Evil Within” completes the roller coaster ride I’ve had with the title. In a twist more shocking than anything the story could’ve provided, the ride ended on a high peak rather than the expected ghastly drop. My expectation couldn’t have been lower for this game following a PAX East demo that was, without exaggeration, the worst live demo that I have ever witnessed. Everything about “The Evil Within” seemed like it took everything good about modern game world building, threw it out the window and instead replicated a game from the early 2000’s.

Thankfully, “The Evil Within” stands as a chief example that previews and demos are not indicative of the final product. It didn’t have to do much to exceed my expectations, but I wasn’t prepared for “The Evil Within” to be what “Resident Evil” should have been for the past six years. “The Evil Within” is the second coming of “Resident Evil 4.”

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SDReview note: I’m not going to get into the story, mechanics and gameplay in this review. For that information, consult my original review of “Sleeping Dogs,” which can be found here. The review of the “Definitive Edition” will observe the game as a bigger picture.

“Sleeping Dogs” was a sleeper hit of 2012 that took open-world, “Grand Theft Auto”-style gameplay to the streets of Hong Kong. The game borrowed driving and exploration from the popular Rockstar franchise, but free flowing combat and a rich RPG leveling system made it stand out on its own.

Now it receives the “Definitive Edition” treatment like so many other titles have in 2014. This new version contains a few new things to collect and see around Hong Kong, and has updated graphics for the PS4 and Xbox One. But the burning question that looms over any remake also applies to this new “Sleeping Dogs” package. Is it worth buying again?

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(6:36) Now that's officially a wrap. This looks like quite the package, but it makes the 3DS version look quite watered down. Who's going to even want to play the 3DS version once the superior Wii U version is available? 

(6:30) That's a wrap on a ton of information on Smash Bros. for Wii U. This might have been the most informative Nintendo Direct ever. This game looks like it has a ton of content that will make the Wii U a must-buy. One last thing: The koopa arma will be in the cast. Looks like the same lineup that's in Mario Kart. They look like they behave the same way as Bowser Jr. Oh we're not done yet! Mewtwo is back! It's a free download if you have the 3DS version of hte game. Mewtwo won't be available at launch. Coming Spring of 2015. 

(6:29) Stage creatue looks like it's up last. Custom stage building can be made and shared with others. I imagine people will come up with better stages than the original lineup. 

(6:26) Online Mode gets the focus. Get a USB-Ethernet adapter if you don't have a good wifi connection. Two players can play on the same team online. That's terrific and will be used often, I believe. Tournaments can be made online, similar to Mario Kart 8. Gamepad can mirror screen or can show damage taken by players. The Gamepad will also allow users to paint on photos that are taken on the game. People are going to come up with amazing photos with this feature. Voice chat confirmed! You'll be able to talk with friends in the game. There is no voice chat in the matches, only before and after. Bleh. It's just like Mario Kart 8. That's a shame. Make sure all your friends have Skype! 

(6:24) Masterpieces Mode is being shown now. You'll be able to play demos of old games that feature the original characters. This mode was in Brawl, and I'm glad it's returning. There are dozens of classic games that can be played in this mode. Amiibo system is on display now. Amiibo can be scanned, which brings the character to life in the game. Amiibo characters, or Figure Characters, will level up and become stronger based on experience. This will certainly be banned in competitive play. 

(6:20) Any and all Nintendo controllers can be used in this game from the 3DS to the Wiimote. Classic controller and pro controllers are also compatible. GameCube controllers can be used, but we already knew that. Oh nice! There will be a special Smash Bros. GameCube controller coming out. Progress like trophies, costumes and equipment will carry over from the 3DS version once the systems are linked. That's a nice touch. Tons of trophies are being shown now. Wii U will have many more trophies. Final Smash trophies return from previous Smash Bros. All Star mode will unlock Final Smash trophies. Trophy photo mode is going to be in the game. You can arrange the trophies how you like and then snap a picture. People will be able to get pretty creative with this mode. Trophy Rush will be able to be played with multiple people. That's neat. 

(6:17) Stadium Events return for target blast and sandbag. This can be played with 4 players. Multiman Melee can be played with four players, too. That will be fun! Special Orders is another mode that is being introduced. Here you'll face Master Hand and Crazy Hand. They will have special rules and rewards for you. You'll have to complete the battles to get the rewards. These look sort of bizzare. Not sure how these differ from events. Master Core returns from the 3DS version. He should look pretty nifty on the Wii U. Master Fortress is another form of Master Core only in the Wii U version. 

(6:12) Modes are getting the focus now. The classic mode will be different. Paths will be determined by how well you did in the previous match. Difficulty settings are the same as the 3DS. Higher difficulty will give you more coins. This mode can be played with 2 players. Completion will unlock a nice video, like it has in the past. All-Star mode is reversed from the 3DS version. You fight the newer characters first and work your way backwards. You can also play this with 2 players. Event Mode is new. There's a grid of matches that you'll have to get through. You'll have to win in a specific way, like Event Mode has been in the past. Smash Tour mode replaces Smash Run mode. That's nice because I hated Smash Run mode. This is the game board mode that was revealed earlier this week. This mode needs more explanation. 4 players are on a board a la Mario Party. You'll get powerups and items throughout the game. Still not exactly sure how it will all work. You'll face off at the end of the game, but your stock will be determined by how well you did. Pretty confusing. 

(6:10) Item frequency is fact 11. You can set items on and off, plus change how frequently each item is seen. This is a nice touch. I've completly lost count of the fact numbers. They're jumping around like crazy. They're addressing music now. You can pick and choose each song that you like and eliminate the ones you don't like. You can also set how often you'll hear these songs in stages. Songs and stages can be mixed and matched. Unlocking music is determined by finding CDs in the stage. Challenges are similar to the 3DS version, but all challenges are laid out on one screen. 

(6:07) Patelunia Help will give advice for noobs. That was fact 5. Fact 6 is that Metal Face will be in the game. He will come in from the background and cause trouble. He can be KO'd. Ridley is another one of those bosses who will interfere. Think of it like a supercharged assist trophy. That's fact 7. He can become Meta-Ridley. He looks ridiculously awesome to fight with. Fact 8: Battle Coins. Standard time and stock matches are avaialble, but coin battles are coming back! This returns from Melee. Stamina matches return, as well. This is fact 9. I always liked Stamina matchs. Special Matches are fact 10. There are way more variables than there have ever been. 

(6:03) Fact 4: Danger Zones. Stages will have danger zones that will be an instant KO if you hit it with more than 100% damage. Fact 5: Dual-zone hijinks. You will be able to jump into the background in certain stages. Like DK stages will have a background fighting area and a foreground. Fact 6: More stages. The video is running through the available stages. First it's going through the same stages as the 3DS version. Now it's getting into the others. They're flashing so fast that it'll take multiple viewings to get them all. There are a ton, a mix of old and new. Miiverse stage won't be ready when the game releases. Will release post-launch. Miiverse messages will appear in the background. 

(6:00) The stream has officially started. Let's see what these 50 facts will be. A glorious montage of the action has begun. Fact 1: 40 unique characters to start from the beginning. There will be fewer characters to unlock. More will be ready at launch. Face 2: Resolution is better on the Wii U. NO KIDDING. Fact 3: 8-players can play at the same time! Bigger stages will be available, so 8-player smash won't be so ridiculous. A larger version of Battlefield will be one of those stages. 

(5:59) The video stream should be starting any minutes. This feels like an Apple announcement. I'm waiting for the lights to dim.  

(5:54) We are a little less than ten minutes away from the start of the Nintendo Direct. Any last minute bold predictions? The stream will be about 35 minutes, and will feature 50 facts about the game for Wii U. 

 

Every day inches closer to the release of “Super Smash Bros.” for Wii U. Today’s Nintendo Direct presentation will unveil more juicy details about the brawler to undoubtedly raise hype levels into the stratosphere.

 

The “Super Smash Bros.” Nintendo Direct begins at 6:00 p.m. EST. If you can’t watch the livestream, bookmark this post as I’ll be following along and keeping track of the event via liveblog. I’ll be posting live announcements and thoughts on the show. See you at 6:00!

 

 

 

 

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Fantasia CoverIn 1940, Walt Disney’s idea of “Fantasia” melded the sound of classical music with the imagery of cartoon animation. The result was an inspired creation of sight, sound and wonder that remains one of his most fondly remembered creations. The concept wasn’t fully appreciated in its era, but was decades ahead of its time.

 

Now Harmonix, the visionaries behind the “Rock Band” series, attempt to create the next generation of “Fantasia” experience. “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved” looks to combine music with the interactive nature of the video game. The idea has the added pressure of being one of only marquee titles for the Xbox One’s motion sensing camera, the Kinect. Not only is this game as unique as the movie that inspired it, it may just become the primary reason to own a Kinect on the Xbox One.

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“Super Smash Bros.” - That title signifies something more than a game series. For me, the title was an obsession. Even the word “obsession” suggests that the situation at hand teeters on the edge of being dangerous. If my college “Smash Bros.” playing habits would have been presented to anyone outside the gaming realm, the person would’ve conclusively branded it as such. 

In hindsight, it was dangerous. I think my friends and I all realized that at the time on some level even if that thought was heavily suppressed by the joy that “Smash Bros.” brought to us all. There was always something more productive that we could’ve been working on, whether it was respective studies, a term paper that had a looming deadline, or something as simple as stepping outside to see daylight. But all of those peripheries were easily brushed aside if there were four bodies willing to pick up the sticks and throw down in a 2-on-2 “Smash” session. Three-stock matches are generally short, and shouldn’t last longer than 10 minutes. It was the best-of-seven series or the endless refrain of “one more game” that turned one match in to several, and minutes into hours. I can say without question that I have logged more hours into "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" than any other game I've ever played.

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ShadowofMordorCoverThe “Lord of the Rings” books and movies can hold clinics on story structure. They establish a cast of heroes, their plight as a group and individually, introduce a great evil, a struggle of power, a great journey, downfall and redemption. There are such epic developments in the “Lord of the Rings” saga that it had to be divided into three books and movies. But one thing that isn’t developed is the story of the orc soldiers. They are portrayed in enormous groups with each face more grotesque than the last. Every nameless uruk can be mindlessly slaughtered because they’re orcs. Nobody cares about orcs.

“Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s” mantra is “know thy enemy.” You’ll know everything about the leaders of the orc forces called uruks: their strengths, weaknesses, motivations, fears and what gets under their leathery green skin. You can then use this information to demolish your enemy from within. That process is carried out by the ranger Talion.

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Disney Infinity

 

“Disney Infinity 2.0” is in stores today! Marvel characters are about to collide with the world of Disney. As exciting as this prospect is, the game requires careful consideration from consumers. Since these Play Sets and figurines aren’t cheap, you should know which ones are worth the money, and which ones should stay on the shelves.

 

I played all 16 launch characters and all three play sets and compiled a ranking of each character. Here’s how they stacked up.

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'Disney Infinity 2.0' review

Monday, 22 September 2014 11:00

 

Disney Infinity 2.0 Pack CoverartThe concept behind “Disney Infinity” was a perfect fit for Disney’s deep bench of beloved characters. It brought small, detailed figurines to life, from the cast of “Monster’s University, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and many series in between.

 

But the build up turned out to be bigger than the payoff. The end result was a series of Play Sets that were hit or miss, and a level creation system called Toy Box that was too confusing for many.

 

Now comes “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes,” or often called “Disney Infinity 2.0.” This time around, Disney is tapping into their recently acquired Marvel franchises. Marvel favorites like Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Venom, The Guardians of the Galaxy and many others are available in the 16-character roster. Additional Disney figures like Merida from “Brave” and Maleficent will be available in the near future.

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'Destiny' diary: Guardian's log part two

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 12:00

 

Destiny box artPart one of my “Destiny” diary tackled the opening to about hour 10. Part two picks up where that left off and continues to hour 20 and beyond. After all that time spent planet hopping and palling around with other Guardians, I’m still not sure what “Destiny” is. Is it a shooter, MMO, shoot and loot or dance party simulator? I still don’t know. But I do know that it’s a melting pot of some of video games’ most beloved types of games.

 

But “Destiny” isn’t one thing: perfect. There are some questionable gameplay mechanics and story structures. Those shortcomings don’t ruin the entire experience. The game still provides fun, especially when playing with friends.

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'Destiny' diary: Guardian's Log - day one

Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:00

Destiny box artAh, the old familiar feeling of starting a sprawling, endless RPG. It begins as a blank slate that holds the potential for greatness. You, as the player, have the ability to make that greatness possible. “Destiny” is no exception.

 

Starting “Destiny” is reminiscent of the first day of high school. You don’t know where to go, or what to do. What’s worse, you don’t even know who you are yet. It takes months (hours of in-game time) to discover your role, your strengths and your weaknesses. Eventually you find a crew to pal around with, and you find direction along the way. Things start to click, and the fun begins. You’ll have friends. You’ll have enemies. You’ll excel, and you’ll fail. Success is essential, but enjoying the ride sits above all.

 

“Destiny” nearly succeeds in being the groundbreaking new I.P. that it bills itself as. Its structure is refreshingly unusual. Because of this, the first steps are ones of discovery that are occasionally familiar. The game kicks off with the obligatory character selection.

 

There are three classes with different abilities. Each class can be one of three races, which can each be male or female. The Titan has a defender ability that acts as a shield for party members, the Hunter is more of a high-damage, close-quarters attacker and the Warlock has a couple mystical powers.

 

Races include human, Awoken and Exo. Awoken are pale creatures that live on the edge of space, while Exo are self-aware robots. It’s odd how similar these three races actually are. Each has human characteristics other than their skin color. It’s not immediately easy to tell what race a character is with a quick glance. The game, and certainly the locales, would benefit from some diversity. Otherwise, it just looks like a game inhabited by hundreds of Mandelorians.

 

At this point, I don’t know how differently each class behaves. I chose the Hunter class for no reason other than because he’s the only character with a cool blade in his offhand. It seemed like a useful skill to have when planet exploring.

 

“Destiny” is a huge game. Activision and Bungie claim that they have a 10-year plan for it, rendering a 3-day review unfair, not to mention impossible. Instead, I’ll be keeping a journal of my experience over the next two weeks. Each entry will contain notes from recent play sessions: what I liked and what I didn’t like, cool things I noticed or found, annoyances, amazements and everything in between.

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