Posts by Ben Silverman

  • Review: Nostalgic ‘Rare Replay’ is an uncommonly great deal

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 21 days ago

    You’ll want to start at the beginning, though you probably won’t stay there for long. Built to run on the 8-bit ZX Spectrum computer that was all the rage in the UK in the early ‘80s, the old-school games are fascinating, if a little short on fun. The company's first game, 1983’s Jetpac , is a simple platform shooter where you must rebuild a rocket while blasting and dodging aliens. The clever little action-RPG Atic Atac is probably the best of the bunch, while a few oddball games like Sabre Wulf and Knight’s Lore suffer from bad controls and confusing gameplay. Things pick up significantly when you move to Rare’s NES and SNES games. The racing game R.C. Pro Am is a genuine classic and still holds up, as does its less popular sequel. I completely forgot that the fighter Killer Instinct was a Rare game until I bumped into the N64 version included here (not as good as the coin-op take, but happy to see it). Most gamers will probably zip immediately to Battletoads , often considered one of the hardest games ever made. It’s also really good, however, and it looks and plays great here.

  • Time Magazine’s VR cover is so horrible it almost ruins VR

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 22 days ago

    Virtual reality is coming — and it’s coming fast — but there are still plenty of barriers holding it back from mainstream acceptance. No matter how many breathless stories we post about the awesome experiences delivered by the Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus, or Microsoft Hololens, writers never do the tech justice. To really get this new wave of VR, to truly appreciate it, you need to strap a headset on your face, open your eyes, and see what it’s all about.

    But if this image pops up, flush your eyes out with water and run to the nearest E.R.

    That’s the August 17 cover of Time Magazine. Inside this issue are a handful of stories about VR, interviews with the big creative names, and insight into how it all works.

    But you won’t get that far, because unless you’re related to Oculus founder Palmer Luckey (he’s the guy in the blue shirt), you will see this cover and be overcome with an upsetting blend of sadness, anger, amusement, confusion, and disgust. Also maybe you’ll be relaxed, because that looks like a nice beach.

  • Hands-on: 'Dark Souls III' is faster (and deadlier) than you might think

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 23 days ago

    But the reason they’ll very likely love Dark Souls III is that the game's learned a thing or two, too.

    The next entry in From Software’s chart-topping, critic-pleasing, controller-smashing role-playing series is just as infuriatingly difficult as you’d expect, throwing tons of absurdly overpowered enemies at underequipped players. But it’s a different Dark Souls this time out, a quicker one, thanks in large part to the success of the spectacular spiritual successor, Bloodborne.

    I spent an hour getting skewered, clawed, chomped, and eviscerated by a variety of ghastly things in Dark Souls III at a recent hands-on event, and while I saw about a dozen YOU DIED screens, I also saw some interesting changes to the formula.

    [Related: Diabolically difficult 'Bloodborne' is among the PS4's best]

    Of course, you still have that trusty shield, and when you remember to use it, the game feels decidedly more like Dark Souls again. It strikes a good balance between the offensive nature of Bloodborne and the defensive posturing of earlier Dark Souls .

  • Review: Ridiculously fun ‘Rocket League’ gasses up, shoots, and scores

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 1 mth ago

    It’s soccer with cars.

    That’s both the elevator pitch and a near-complete description of Rocket League . Built by small independent studio Psyonix and fast becoming a sensation on the PS4 (it’s available for PC as well), the competitive vehicular sports game is, when you boil it down, exactly as straightforward as it sounds.

    It’s soccer with cars.

    Maybe that doesn’t sound interesting to you. It didn’t to me, but the more time I spent hurling my car into a giant ball in an effort to push it into the opponent’s goal, the more I realized that it’s not just interesting, it’s amazing. Despite its limited scope and the occasional connection issue, Rocket League is one of the year’s best online games.

    Why are you smashing your car into a ball? Is it a toy? Life-sized? Is there a driver? Is it a drone car? Is car soccer some sort of futuristic bloodsport for a totalitarian regime?

    But when controls work in perfect harmony with the game? Now we’re cooking with grease. And gasoline. And soccer balls. Rocket League ’s precise, responsive, instantly comfortable controls elevate it from a solid competitive car soccer game into a totally awesome car soccer game.

    That’s exactly as hard as it looks.

  • Review: ‘Rory McIlroy PGA Tour’ misses the cut

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 1 mth ago

    Move over, Madden Curse. Tiger Woods wields some dark magic, too.

    What else can explain the drama surrounding Rory McIlroy PGA Tour ? After spending well over a decade slapping Tiger’s mug on the cover of PGA Tour games, EA Sports decided to switch it up and distance themselves from the ailing pro. I suppose you can’t really blame them. EA’s in the business of selling golf games, so swapping the troubled Tiger for the top-ranked player in the world was a no-brainer. There is no fairer weather fan than a video game sports publisher.

    But a mere ten days before EA Sports released their new golf game, McIlroy severely injured his ankle while playing soccer with his pals. It’s bad enough to keep him out of the British Open and possibly impact his ability to contend at the PGA Championship in August, a terrible break for both the young pro and the company hoping his popularity will help sell some golf video games.

  • Nintendo president Satoru Iwata dies at 55

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 1 mth ago

    Nintendo announced the tragic news in a brief statement, listing his cause of death as “a bile duct growth.”

    Iwata’s health had been declining for some time. In 2014, he missed the E3 conference in Los Angeles on advice of his physician. He underwent what was believed to have been successful surgery shortly thereafter.

    Iwata’s career began as a developer with Nintendo subsidiary HAL Laboratories, where he worked on popular Nintendo games such as Balloon Fight and Earthbound . He became president of HAL in 1993. Seven years later he became the head of corporate planning at Nintendo proper, a title he held for only two years. In 2002, Iwata succeeded longtime company president Hiroshi Yamauchi to become only the fourth president in Nintendo’s history.

    Greatly admired by gamers and peers, Iwata steered Nintendo through some of its brightest days. During his tenure, Nintendo released the DS line of handhelds — the best-selling video game system of all-time — as well as the wildly popular Wii console.

    Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime released a statement Monday:




  • 'Call of Duty: Black Ops III' Collector’s Edition comes with a mini-fridge

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 1 mth ago

    Activision will pose this bizarre question to gamers later this year when they release the Call of Duty: Black Ops III “Juggernog” Edition, which comes with a working mini-refrigerator.

    The fridge is modeled after the Juggernog Perk-a-Cola machines found in the franchise’s popular Zombies mode. It’s pretty sizable, too, holding up to 12 cans of your favorite beverage. It even lights up and plays sounds from Black Ops III , presumably a soldier instructing the fridge to “stay frosty.”

    The Juggernog Edition also comes with some Perk-A-Cola coasters, some exclusive downloadable weapons and maps, fancy art cards, a pretty steelbook case to hold the game, a copy of the soundtrack, and a Season Pass granting access to more upcoming content.

    The price for all this jazz? A hefty $199, though when you break it down, that’s probably about right. A decent 12-can mini-fridge runs about $80; tack on the $60 price of the game and you’re already at $140. The Season Pass can cost up to $50. Toss in the rest of the goodies and the price isn’t clinically insane.

    Call of Duty: Black Ops III   releases on November 6 for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

  • The 10 Coolest Things from E3 2015

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 2 mths ago

    Who won E3 2015?


    E3 2015 was one of the best shows in years. A current of optimism ran through the crowds roaming the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center, a palpably positive vibe powered by booth after booth of really good video games. It seemed every company had something worthwhile to show, from big-budget blockbusters to smaller experimental experiences. What’s the next big thing? So many games qualified, it was hard to keep your scoreboard straight.

    [ Related: The Hottest Trailers of E3 2015 ]

    But for the sake of brevity, I’ve whittled down my enormous list of awesome things to ten. Here’s what really blew me away at E3 2015.

    Fallout 4

    No Man’s Sky

    Star Wars Battlefront

    It’s a big year for the far away galaxy, but not just because of that little student film project sneaking into theaters this holiday. Star Wars: Battlefront returns in 2015, bringing with it epic multiplayer battles set on Hoth, Tatooine, Endor, and other famous locations. It’s looking great, perfectly nailing the look and feel of the universe and delivering fast, chaotic action.

     Oculus Rift Touch

  • Review: ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’ casts a mean spell

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 3 mths ago

    The problem with trying to review The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is that it requires you to stop playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt long enough to write a review.

    This is not easy.

    It’s The Lord of the Rings by way of A Game of Thrones , an immense, mature, character-driven fantasy that balances its ridiculously long script with plenty of sword-swinging, spell-flinging action. It requires time, patience, and more than a few reminders to your spouse that when she said she would love you unconditionally, it was letting you play The Witcher 3 every night until the crack of dawn for a month that you had in mind.

    What makes The Witcher 3 most remarkable, however, isn’t its potential to derail your marriage; it's how the game manages to be both intimate and vast at the same time. A massive, open-world game with a great story? Believe it. The Witcher 3 is one of the best role-playing games in years.

    Unfortunately, like most games of this nature, The Witcher 3 can’t quite figure out how to wrap itself up. The third act loses focus, running you around the world in an awkwardly long goodbye.

    What’s Hot: Absolutely massive; engrossing story; stunning graphics and voicework; tight, punchy combat

  • Odell Beckham, Jr. lands the cover of ‘Madden NFL 16’

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In 3 mths ago

    As revealed during a live event on ESPN’s Sportscenter Wednesday evening, New York Giants wide receiver extraordinaire Odell Beckham, Jr. beat out New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to become the face of Madden NFL 16 , due out this summer.

    “This is mindblowing,” Beckham said. “After playing one year of football and then being on the cover? I’m at a loss for words."

    The honor puts an exclamation point on a huge debut season for the agile receiver, highlighted by one of the craziest catches ever. Beckham backed up that one-handed grab with over 1,300 receiving yards and 12 TDs in only 12 games, good enough to score him the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award and give him the cred needed to enter the race for the cover.

    To complement the cover reveal, EA also debuted the first trailer for Madden 16 . Whereas last year’s game focused on improving the way gamers play defense, the new effort is all about playmaking on offense. Or at least that’s what the press release says, because the trailer’s a little vague: