- Russ Frushtick at Plugged In11 days ago
No one was quite sure what we’d get when 2K Games rebooted the beloved XCOM series , largely dormant for over a decade , with2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown . What we got, it turned out, was one of the best strategy games in recent memory. Against the odds, 2K succeeded in paying homage to the franchise while branching into new territory.
They’ve channeled a lot of that magic into XCOM 2 , the direct sequel to Enemy Unknown . But while it captures the same feel and adds a few excellent new features, some odd design decisions and bugs prevent it from hitting the same high notes.
It’s been 20 years since the events of Enemy Unknown . Despite Earth’s best efforts at fending off a bizarre menagerie of aliens, things haven’t gone quite as planned. The world has come under control of the ADVENT Administration, a government agency that is really just a bunch of aliens wearing people masks. XCOM, Earth’s one and only defense force, has regrouped underground as a resistance movement and, after a daring rescue, recovers its commander (read: you) from the alien containment tube you’ve stuck inside for two decades. Needless to say, you’re pretty pissed.
- Matt Cabral at Plugged In14 days ago
Unlike the Hulk, who minutes into LEGO Marvel Avengers smashes through cars like they’re empty soda cans, the latest video game romp based on the famous plastic bricks doesn’t break much new ground.
Like past LEGO games, this comic-themed entry, which satirizes the Avengers film canon (including Captain America , Thor , and Iron Man ) , finds players solving puzzles, collecting studs, and busting up blocky bad guys. And not much more.
The benefit of sticking to an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it mentality is it allows developer TT Games to perfect their familiar formula. Indeed, the degree of polish on display in Marvel Avengers could put the sheen on Captain America’s shield to shame. The crisp, vibrant environments are packed with fan-pleasing details, character animations are super smooth, and even subtler touches, like shadow and lighting effects, look noticeably better than they did in 2013’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes .
- Gordon Cameron at Plugged In15 days ago
Jonathan Blow is trying to make me feel stupid. Scratch that — Jonathan Blow is succeeding at making me feel stupid.
Blow, an indie developer whose dazzled gamers with its winning combination of devious level design, twee art direction, and somber emotion, is back with a new opus. The Witness is strange, austere, infuriating, and occasionally brilliant. Some are hailing it as a masterpiece.
I regretfully report that I am not going to be one of those people.
The overall concept recalls 1993’s seminal adventure game Myst . You wander an isolated island, encountering puzzles around every corner. There’s nobody else here. The atmosphere is mysterious, serene yet vaguely sinister. You solve a puzzle. You solve another puzzle. New areas are gradually unlocked. What are you doing here? What does it all add up to?
Answers are seldom forthcoming. In their absence, your imagination runs wild. You begin to see significance in everything. See how those clouds are positioned? See that pattern in the flower garden? It must mean something. But what? The game freely exploits that trick of human psychology whereby we interpret obscurity as profundity.
- Ben Silverman at Plugged In21 days ago
He jumps, he smashes, he karts. But while Mario’s impressive physicality helped make him the world’s most well-rounded (literally) video game icon, the portly plumber has quietly made a name for himself among more cerebral fans through the excellent Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario role-playing franchises. There’s a big brain underneath that famous red cap.
His latest role-playing effort for the Nintendo 3DS, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, is an odd mashup between the two series that on, ahem, paper seems like a recipe for RPG perfection. But it turns out to be a study in conflict. The game looks great and its combat is fun and layered, yet the series’ typically sharp writing couldn’t yield a paper cut this time out. Coupled with some unflattering side content, Mario & Luigi makes for a jam with a few sour notes.
- Gordon Cameron at Plugged In24 days ago
Fantasy dungeons are, typically, unpleasant. They’re dark, smelly, and populated with abominations that want to kill you.
So it’s odd that most fantasy role-playing games feature parties of adventurers who uncomplainingly trudge through mile after mile of pungent sewage, swinging swords and slinging fireballs until their last hit point is bled dry.
The makers of Darkest Dungeon have a different vision. This tactical RPG from indie developer Red Hook Studios, kickstarted in 2014 and just released after months of refinement on Steam Early Access, imagines parties of dungeoneers who feel mounting pressure until, one by one, they begin to crack under the strain. An expedition begun in optimism and camaraderie can end in selfishness, despair, and madness.
It’s a brilliant conceit, but the trick is in the execution. After all, if all you’ve done is turn ‘morale’ or ‘psychological stability’ into another hit-point counter, you haven’t really done anything at all. Darkest Dungeon doesn’t entirely avoid this trap, but its clever gameplay mechanics and formidable design will keep you trudging through dungeons for hours on end.
- Ben Silverman at Plugged In28 days ago
What happens when a bunch of teenagers have their mundane lives interrupted by a chance encounter with the supernatural? Provided you’ve watched any TV or seen any movies in the past, say, 40 years, you know the answer: They tease the fat kid, overcome their insecurities, and save the world. And probably ride dirt bikes.
Oxenfree , the debut game from indie developer Night School Studios, does a marvelous job elevating this well-worn premise into something unique. It’s a surprisingly engaging game that makes what’s often the dullest part of an adventure — the conversations between characters – the real star of the show.
You play Alex, a 17-year-old girl with a complicated family life: Her big brother passed away, her mom remarried, and she’s now awkwardly faced with getting to know her new stepbrother, Jonas. Joined by a few friends, Alex and Jonas head out to a local touristy island with plans to get loaded by a campfire and root around a creepy cave. Naturally (or supernaturally), things go sideways, and the island turns out to hide some otherworldly secrets. It’s Lost by way of Freaks & Geeks .
- Gordon Cameron at Plugged In1 mth ago
Internet illusionist Brusspup is back with another video, and this time – despite the high-tech trappings – he’s going old school. Old school as in the Renaissance. The trick on display here is called anamorphosis, and painters have employed it for hundreds of years.
The idea is to create a distorted picture of an object such that, when viewed from a certain perspective, it seems to exist in the same three-dimensional space as everything around it. Brusspup dares you to spot the trick by placing his anamorphic images in plain view on a tabletop amid real objects.
“ Each object was photographed and then stretched properly and printed, ” explains Brusspup. “ When the printed paper is placed back in the same position as when it was photographed, then it looks like the object is actually there. ”
There are some subtle touches that help to sell the illusion. For example, there’s a reason each object is sitting on a piece of paper or a pile of photos. These items create a surface on which the shadow can be cast. “ Without the shadow, the illusion would be instantly broken,” says Brusspup. “So the shadows are extremely important.”
- Chris Morris at Plugged In1 mth ago
Poor Aunt Myrtle. She tried. She really did. But despite her best efforts, there's just no way you can work up excitement over Just Dance 2016 when you were hoping for Just Cause 3 .
The goood news? Once she has toddled back to Cleveland and you don't have to worry about hurting her feelings, you have plenty of options when it comes to getting rid of the game and getting what you really wanted for Christmas.
Of course, in the best of all worlds, your present came with a gift receipt, letting you return it with little to no hassle. But if not, there are still a number of different ways to get cash or credit for that unwanted title. Getting the most take a little work, though.
GameStop: Still worth it?
When it comes to game trade-ins, GameStop is the big fish in the slightly-larger-than-it-was-a-few-years-ago-but-still-pretty-small pond. You can get cash for your old games, but it's a sucker's bet. The smarter play — assuming you intend to purchase another game at some point — is taking store credit.
- Chris Morris at Plugged In1 mth ago
It's the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas. I'm talking about that week between Christmas and New Year's, where schools are out and most of corporate America takes a breather. In other words, a week of uninterrupted game time (with, perhaps, a couple breaks to go see The Force Awakens again).
Nothing can spoil that fun any faster than getting stuck, though. No matter how hard you try, you can't clear a certain level or solve a particular puzzle. Or maybe your multiplayer skills could use some work.
The good news is that despite its reputation as a hive of scum and villainy, the Internet can also be pretty helpful. We've scoured the web to find the most useful guides for the year's hottest games.
- Ben Silverman at Plugged In2 mths ago
The best start in NBA history. The third-longest win streak. The deepest team, with the league’s best player, making the impossible look routine. When will the Golden State Warriors lose a basketball game?
How about tonight? That’s the prediction made by NBA 2K16, or rather the humans who created the game and subsequently simulated the matchup. The result: 103-99, Pacers. Cue the dramatic, slow-motion images:
Before you write this off — and you should totally feel justified doing that, because the Warriors just keep finding ways to win — keep in mind that last year’s NBA 2K15 actually did a solid job of predicting last year’s playoffs. Or Finals, at least. The simulation missed a few stops on the way (Memphis beat Portland, and Houston made it past San Antonio), but nailed the 4-2 Finals win for the Warriors.