News

Twitch Announces Twitch Prime for Amazon Prime Members

The Keynote, which kicked off Twitch Con 2016 this morning has more than a few announcements. The biggest of which was “Twitch Prime” a new premium Twitch service made in partnership with Amazon who acquired Twitch back in 2016. All Amazon Prime members are given access adding to the slew of benefits for Amazon Prime users including a video streaming service, two-day shipping, and a 20% discount on new games.

The perks of Twitch Prime include a free monthly channel subscription, as well as some free in-game DLC. If you have an existing Amazon Prime account, you can link it with your Twitch account now here.twitch-pax-east-2013-booth

Twitch Prime launched today alongside the Keynote, and members are eligible for a new Hearthstone character the Night Elf Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind as well as a new card back. You can also unlock a new weapon skin in Paladins, a Ymir skin for Smite, and download Streamline for free. These bonuses will be available until November 6th. Twitch also promises new bonuses will be frequent.

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Review

Review: FireWatch

Game: FireWatch

Developer: Campo Santo

Publisher(s): Panic

Platforms: Windows, OS X, Linux, PS4, Xbox One

Release Date: February 9th, 2016

MSRP: $19.99

What is Firewatch? It’s a question I found myself asking again and again in the month leading to its release. The game in question was made by the fine folks at Campo Santo; it is a 3D adventure game for the PC and Playstation 4 set in the Wyoming wilderness of Shoshone national forest in 1989. You play as Henry who has taken a job as a summer Fire watchmen in the park. The majority of the story is told through radio conversations between Henry and his female supervisor Delilah. If you have an itch for an intriguing mystery told in a unique setting Firewatch may very well be the game for you. I’ll do my best to keep this review spoiler free.firewatch1

Firewatch takes a unique approach to making us feel familiar with its main protagonist very quickly. Through a series of dialog options, we are given about 20 years of history on the player character. While some of these don’t feel story altering, it is a good way to create some comprehensive back story in a short time. In the span of ten minutes, we learn how Henry met his wife Julia as well as the incidents that lead to him taking such an isolating job in the national park service. The core gameplay is similar to that of a game like Gone Home, you walk around the park investigating disturbances radioed in by Delilah things like teenagers setting off fireworks, downed power lines, you get the idea. The game really shines in its dialog. The quips and chatter between Henry and Delilah keep you both entertained and invested. I’ve never felt bored despite the fact that the bulk of the gameplay is simply walking from point A to point B.

firewatch_150305_06Visually the game is stunning. It’s cartoon-like art style, and colorful imagery really brings the forest to life in an amazing way. I’ve learned while writing this that there is even a way to order original prints of the photos you take in game.

Firewatch won’t take up a whole lot of your time(I beat it in one sitting of about four hours), but it does leave a bit to be desired. The ending seemed rather abrupt to me; one mystery was resolved, but Henry had no real pay off. It’s hard to justify such an in-depth backstory on a character when none of his personal problems are ever resolved.Firewatch has well-written characters and enough of a mystery to keep you wanting more. However, it seems to leave you that way. At a twenty dollar price point if you have an afternoon to kill it’s worth your time.

Score: 7 out of 10

 

 

 

 

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Review

Review: Ratchet and Clank (2016)

Game: Ratchet & Clank

Platform(s): PlayStation 4

Developer: Insomniac

Publisher: Sony

Release date: April 12th, 2016

MSRP: $40.00

In 2002 the character action platform Ratchet and Clank was the only thing on my mind. When I heard, 2016 was bringing a re-imagined version of one of my favorite games I was skeptical. However, 2016’s Ratchet and Clank is so much more than an HD remake. It’s a perfection of one of the best action platformers on the PS2 and a welcome breath of fresh air for a genre that is next to non-existent in the current gaming landscape.

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Besides Quark himself the Galactic Rangers are brand new characters

 

While it tells the same story, it adds stunning new visuals as well as welcome changes to collectible locations and a few new sequences including playable sections as Clank.
All the staples of the series remain. Collect bolts to upgrade Ratchets ever expanding arsenal of handheld death machines. A new card collection system has been added that gives the player different buffs like a boost to the percentage of bolts earned for every set of 3 completed. The cards also play a role with a memorable weapon for fans of the series. The R.Y.N.O. or Rip ya a new one is collected this time, not with bolts but by completing 3 R.Y.N.O. card sets.While most cards are found as mere enemy drops, the R.Y.N.O. cards are in set locations like gold bolts or any other collectible.ratchet-and-clank-e3-2015-011

Ratchet and Clank does it’s best to keep elements that weren’t introduced until its sequels present in this retelling. For example Ratchets, grappling hook is no longer an item purchased from gadgetron vendors as it was in the original but takes a note from Going Commando and is merely present from the start.

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The story is at its heart, a retelling of the first game. Framed through the eyes of an imprisoned Captain Quark. While this gives us an unreliable narrator at times, it provides a fun levity to the story. The game sets up the new characters for the film while never feeling like it sacrifices the charm of the original game to shoehorn in these new elements. The jokes are fast paced and even had me laughing out loud at times, something no game has done in a long time.

Ratchet and Clank is exactly what a remake should be. It makes you feel nostalgia for 2004’s Ratchet and Clank all while being something all its own. The game finds a balance with humor and while it retreads original story beats.I found myself pouring hours in during my first few days with the game. The way things are looking a second play through is bound to happen. I hope with games like Ratchet and Clank making such a splash, as well as games like Yooka-Laylee on the horizon.That 2016 sees a resurgence in the long lost mascot platformer genre.

Score:8 out of 10

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News

Shovel Knight to Appear in Yooka-Laylee

Shovel Knight, one of the greatest original characters in video games in quite some time, will be making a special guest appearance in Yooka-Laylee.

Just yesterday Playtonic games dropped a new trailer for Yooka-Laylee over at an EGX panel. The trailer saw our first look at some of the games supporting cast as well as revealed Shovel Knight as a special guest. It would seem  Yacht Club Games was approached about the idea by Playtonic after Yooka-Laylee publisher Team 17, brought up the idea of having a guest character.

This isn’t the first guest appearance Shovel Knight has made either. He also appeared in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, Pixel Noir, and is set to be in Blood Stained Ritual of the Night just to name a few. Either way, this is fantastic news and Yooka-Laylee still looks incredible. Check out the new trailer below.

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Review

Review: Batman The Telltale Series Episode Two Children of Arkham

Game: Batman The Telltale Series: Episode Two Children of Arkham

Developer: Telltale

Publisher: Telltale

Platform(s): Windows, Ps4(reviewed), Xbox One

Release Date: September 20th, 2016

MSRP: $4.99

The first episode of Batman The Telltale Series made some aggressive moves. It put a new spin on classic Batman Characters and asked an incredibly important question. What if the very thing the Batman has been fighting for is a lie? What if his Thomas and Martha Wayne weren’t Gotham’s saints? What if they were just as bad all the doctorate wielding super villains. Episode Two starts strong and begins to explore just that before quickly shifting gears to establish its villain.

Children of Arkham has a clear focus; this episode is about Oswald Cobblepot. Oz’s past and the downfall of the Cobblepot name are laid out for everyone to see and if he weren’t the Penguin and if his actions weren’t so grandly villainous you may even start to feel sorry for the guy. Penguin is evil that much is made clear in this chapter. In episode one Oz only speaks in hushed tones of a revolution on the horizon, in episode two he and his mysterious new partner bring the first spark to ignite it. It’s clear that the Telltale writers are trying to ride Fox’s Gotham’s reinventing of the Penguin as a young, charismatic character. The problem is he never feels that way. He enters briefly, says some menacing lines and fires a gun. So far the promise of Oz and Bruce’s childhood connections making the Penguins charcter more meaningful seem squandered.

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Oh, I get it, he’s the Penguin

 

We also get a brief look into the past of Thomas Wayne. It’s the shocking actions of Thomas that start to bring up the slightest feelings of sympathy for Oz, as well as begin to put a strain on Bruce’s relationship with Harvey Dent. As the Wayne name continues to be tarnished Harvey is forced to distance himself from Bruce. These conversations present the player with options to lash out at Harvey. While doing so would be understandable it may be better long term to continue to support Dent from behind the scenes silently.

Bruce’s relationship with Alfred also seems to take some turns in this chapter. In the first episode, Alfred is warning Bruce not to take things too far. In children of Arkham he’s more supportive of Bruce’s actions as the bat, even going as far as to say Gotham needs Batman. You can credit this change to his need to show Bruce his support after lying to him about his parent’s ties to Falcone. Just the same it could prove interesting for their relationship going forward.

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Big guy has quite the grip

 

Unlike the first episode, we don’t get a whole lot of the large scale crime scene investigation segments that I loved so much. A few basic tactical takedowns and a whole lot of over the top dialogue. One choice in this episode did stand out to me. You’re presented with the option to approach a possible interrogation scenario as either Batman or Bruce Wayne and for the first time, I felt I was in a scenario that was better suited for the playboy millionaire rather than the Dark Knight detective.  Batman the Telltale series, continues to tell a better Bruce Wayne story than we’re used to seeing in video games.

In its second outing Batman the Telltale Series gives us a few big surprises, establishes an over the top villain but ultimately doesn’t shine in the same way as its first act. With new mysterious character introduced and more new questions raised than answered Telltales latest title is shaping up alright. We’ll have to wait to learn the truth about the Wayne’s in episode three. You can pick up Episode two now for $4.99.

Score: 6 out of 10

Thanks for reading, follow me for more reviews and news.

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Forgotten Games

Forgotten Games: Ghost Rider

So you ever here about think about all those games that just never came to be? The Conker sequel that never was, all those first person Avenger games? Well in this new segment I’ll be taking a look at canceled games that never got a chance. So let’s get started.

For this first installment, I’ll be looking at Marvel’s Ghost Rider. As friends may know, Ghost Rider is my favorite Marvel superhero; he’s also been given notoriously shitty treatment in media over the years. Despite two extra horrible Nic Cage movies he’s still made some excellent comics over the years. He’ll also be a regular in the upcoming season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However we’re here to talk about his PlayStation title that would never grace our PlayStation disc drive.

Crystal Dynamics entered an agreement to make video games for licensed Marvel characters. With Neversoft on board to develop they were to begin work on Ghost Rider using their 2D side-scroller Skeleton Warrior as something of a template.The game was never finished, but a tech demo that was created for journalists attending E3 1996. The Playstation Museum has the demo and allowed Did You Know Gaming and Unseen64 to use it in a recent explainer video that I’ve linked below.

The game had some interesting ideas. It would feature 3D environments on a 2D plan. The player would be able to move the Ghost Rider on the 2D plan while moving the camera between the background and foreground in order to dodge enemy attacks, as well as access platforms that might only be visible from a certain depth. Ghost Rider fought mainly with his iconic chain which was used much like the whip from the Castlevania series. A lot of effort was put into making Ghost Rider’s flames look real and have a dynamic response based on the player’s action to bring more life to the character. Levels featuring his iconic Motorcycle were planned but none ever made it into development.

The main villain of the game would’ve been the Goddess Lilith. The story saw her entering Ghost Riders world from the parallel Shadow World and weakening the barriers separating them. It would be up to Ghost Rider to restore the barriers to full strength by defeating Lilith and her Demon army. The game was set to feature voice acting and CGI cutscenes although none of that made it into development.

I guess I’ll have to hold out for a great Ghost Rider game in the future. Until then I hope you guys enjoyed, and if you have any ideas for any forgotten games I should look into let me know in the comments.

 

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News

New Gears of War 4 Gameplay Trailer Released

This morning a new Gameplay trailer was released online for Gears of War 4. We got a look at some story beats,  a grizzled Marcus Phoenix back in the action, and…are those giant fucking mechs?! Yes, yes they are.

The story seems to be doing its best to invoke nostalgia for fans of the series. With heavy aspects of family bonds, son and daughter relationships and twenty-five years of peace in the Gears universe. You can check out the new trailer above along with Microsofts press release below. Gears of War 4 drops for Windows 10 and Xbox One on October 11th.

Microsoft’s Press release:

“A new saga begins for one of the most acclaimed video game franchises in history. After narrowly escaping an attack on their village, JD Fenix and his friends, Kait and Del, must rescue the ones they love and discover the source of a monstrous new enemy.

Gears of War 4 is available worldwide October 11 on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC as an Xbox Play Anywhere title. Buy Gears of War 4: Ultimate Edition and play four days early, starting October 7.”

Watch the new trailer above, so you can see what Marcus Fenix’s kid and his pals are getting up to when you jump into the game on October 11, 2016. For more on Gears of War 4.

 

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