UPDATE: The prototype from iBuyPower will reportedly only cost $499 and comes with a multicore AMD CPU and a discrete AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card.
The additional details come from a report on the Verge, and reiterates that "existing Steam for Linux games should run quite well, at full 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second." As reported previously, Steam Machines will not run the entire Steam library, only those games which have been optimized specifically for the Linux-based Steam OS.
The article also claims the box above is "bigger than a PlayStation 4 but smaller than a Microsoft's Xbox One." The $500 price tag includes the Steam controller, wi-fi, Bluetooth, and a 500GB hard drive.
The original story appears below:
Bucking the trend of black boxes, PC developer iBuyPower revealed the first images of their prototype Steam Machine: a white box.
Engadget reports that the system is set to launch in 2014 and "the hardware will run all Steam titles in 1080p resolution at 60fps." No other details were revealed about the hardware, but iBuyPower did show off two variations of their white box. When not illuminated, the light bar in the middle is clear on one machine and black on the other. One has been codenamed Gordan and the other Freeman.
The machine runs an early version of Steam OS, but "it's not quite a finished product," writes Engadget. Valve has previously revealed the general specs for the Steam Machines, but with CES just around the corner, we'll have even more info (and hands-on with the systems) then.
Golf might be the very definition of a game that is simple conceptually, but exceptionally difficult to master. It's this mix of simplicity and challenge that makes golf video games so captivating, when they get it right. Which Powerstar Golf does--mostly. There's nothing revolutionary here, but Powerstar Golf is an absorbing game in the tradition of the Hot Shots Golf series, with some fun competitive features and a loot system that offers you enticing rewards for your progress, but can also be stingy with the goods.
When you first fire up Powerstar Golf, you have access to only two golfers and one course, the leisurely City Park. Each golfer has his or her own unique ability that can be used a set number of times in each event. Scientist Reiko Kobayashi's Tesla field, for instance, puts just a teensy bit of magnetic pull on the hole, giving you a slight edge when putting, while retired astronaut Frank Weaver's rocket launch ability lets him send balls flying farther than they would otherwise. These characters and the others you can unlock have a fashion sense and an angular look that make the game feel as if it takes place in some idealized vision of the 1950s.
It's at City Park that you learn the basics--how swings are performed by tapping to start, tapping again to set the swing's power, and tapping one last time for accuracy. It's a straightforward approach to swinging, and just tricky enough that nailing the power and accuracy of a shot never stops feeling great. Simple as it is, though, it becomes quite complicated when you realize you have to take factors like wind and terrain into account. It's your struggle against these factors that makes success on the links so satisfying, but Powerstar Golf doesn't go far enough in helping you to understand the tools at your disposal. Brief tutorial videos introduce you to concepts like putting spin on the ball to curve your shot and to the properties of pitch shots and chip shots. But at no point does the game illuminate the difference between a 3 wood and a 5 wood, or explain why you might want to use a 9 iron for certain shots and a 4 iron for others. Since the game doesn't shy away from many of the complexities of real golf in its mechanics, it's a shame that you can't say the same about the tutorials.
Though the game doesn't go far enough in its efforts to help you succeed on the golf course, it does make your successes, large and small, feel like a cause for celebration. On every shot you take, you can see markers on the course indicating your previous personal best, as well as the best performances among your friends, and even the world record. The game tracks things like the longest drive, the closest approach within 75 yards, and the closest approach beyond 150 yards. And each time you beat your own personal best for longest putt or anything else, the previous marker for your performance vanishes and is replaced with a new one as the game celebrates your achievement. The game finds little ways to make you feel good, even when you're having a bad day on the course.
It's on the green where most of your dreams are realized or shattered, where your heart sinks as a chance at a birdie turns into a double bogey when you miscalculate the left slope in the terrain or overcompensate for an uphill climb. But if the game of golf (and of Powerstar Golf) couldn't conjure such heartbreak, the victories wouldn't be as sweet, and the difficulty of putting properly means that when you do sink that birdie from a distance, you feel like a champ.
As you play, you level up, unlocking new courses and new career events, though the process can take a while. You may be eager to see what challenges await in the lush Emperor's Garden course or in the tropical and volcanic Burning Sands course while you're still stuck only having access to City Park and the autumnal Rocky Ridge. Leveling up isn't enough, in and of itself, to get you access to additional golfers. For that, you must defeat each of them in career events on their home course, and these events can be devilishly difficult. Two-thirds of the game's playable characters require you to win tough events before you can access them, and you might tire of playing those nine-hole contests over and over again in a bid to unlock them.
You can improve your performance with gear that you purchase using credits you earn during play, but you can't just pick out a more precise putter or a more powerful set of irons. Instead, you buy packs that contain five items, and each item could be gear, or a onetime-use booster (a 20 percent boost to the experience you earn, for instance), or a new equippable perk for your caddie (a 50 percent chance for the ball to skip on the surface of a water hazard, perhaps), or even just a new outfit for a golfer or caddie. The element of chance makes it exciting to fork over your credits and see what you end up with, and the color coding of items in the green-blue-purple-orange tier system familiar from so many loot-driven role-playing games makes getting the rare, high-end stuff especially exciting.
At least, until you rack up enough credits that you can buy packs guaranteed to contain nothing but orange-colored "extreme" gear. Acquiring that many credits, however, would take an extremely long time, given the slow pace at which the game doles them out. As it is, you can purchase a pack of blue "pro" gear after every few events and purple "elite" gear after every several, and there's always a chance these packs will include a few items from the next tier up. But the game is just stingy enough about doling out credits to nudge you toward purchasing them with real money. This option isn't yet active in the game's online store, but there's already a button prompt for it, so it's likely coming very soon.
Thankfully, Powerstar Golf makes your time on the links enjoyable, whether or not you have any interest in sinking money into microtransactions to get some extra goodies. This game covers well-trodden territory, but the way that it tracks your performance and the performance of your friends makes it a fine fit for the Xbox One's launch lineup, and a pleasant way to spend some time. So long as your idea of pleasant doesn't preclude the anguish that can come with a missed putt or a miscalculated swing that sends your ball plummeting into the water.
One of the most divisive elements for gamers surrounding the upcoming launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One revolves around screen resolution, especially in games like Call of Duty: Ghosts. The Activision shooter runs at a native 1080p on PS4, but only 720p on Xbox One. Speaking with Sony president Shuhei Yoshida at a PS4 review event in New York, he said that there’s a practical reason developers aim for 1080p: “I don't think any team is just fixated on 1080p, it's just one of the options...but [1080p] games allow you to be more precise and a better gamer. That's clearly the benefit.”
Yoshida offered an example focusing on Killzone: Shadow Fall. “You immediately notice the difference compared to playing most games on PS3, like [the original] Killzone which was rendered at 720p. You can clearly see the enemy in the fog, and with the accuracy of the DualShock 4 dual analog sticks, you can aim and shoot at enemies with pixel-perfect accuracy.”
Posing the same question to Mark Cerny, lead architect of the PS4 and director of Knack, he said, “Resolution does make a difference. One point of confusion is that people say, ‘Oh, you won’t notice the difference because you can’t resolve individual pixels unless you’re very close to the TV set.’ But even if you take a 1080p image and scale it down to 720p, it looks better. That’s called supersampling. It’s a very specific quality graphics technique.”
“In Knack, for example, there is no 720p mode,” he continued. “If you’re playing on a 720p HD TV, we’re just scaling the 1080 down, and it looks better than if we had produced that image at 720p. All of the details of the scene are much more visible as a result.”
But for some games, higher resolution can come at a cost. For the PlayStation 4 review of CoD: Ghosts, Giant Bomb editor Jeff Gerstmann wrote that he experienced “a handful of noticeable dips in its frame rate.” However, GameSpot reviewer Shaun McInnis didn’t experience similar issues. Gerstmann wrote later that an upcoming patch from Infinity Ward may solve the issue.
To explain, Cerny said, “Every developer is doing a trade-off between framerate and resolution, and they do that based on the game experience they are trying to create. Typically the fighting games and the driving games want to be at 60 because of the twitch aspects of the gameplay, so they’re much more sensitive to framerate. The other genres then, tend to have a bit more freeform. Specifically looking at the launch titles for PlayStation 4, most of them are at 1080p. There are a variety of framerates.”
The arcade may be dead in the United States, but many arcade-style games are finding new life on the PC. Intake steps in as an excellent light gun game, reminiscent of a strange mash-up of Ikaruga and House of the Dead, built on a tongue-in-cheek presentation of rave and drug culture. It's a curious marriage, but one that works well, creating an exceptionally satisfying, brutally difficult modern reinterpretation and refinement of classic mechanics.
Running Intake for the first time opens a menu with three graphics options--Pep Rally, Dance Party, and Sparkle Party--and these options make for an accurate introduction to the frenetic shooter. Intake is a game about drugs...sort of. There's no serious political message besides the 1980s arcade callback screen showing the phrase "Winners Don't Use Drugs." Beyond that, there isn't even a direct reference to anything illegal, but the intent is clear.
During play, you're assaulted by a never-ending stream of colored pills falling from the sky. The right mouse button changes the color of your cursor, and the left mouse button destroys whatever pill is in your reticle. At the bottom of the screen, you have a "shield" that blocks any pill that doesn't match the color of your cursor. Each level has only two colors, to keep things simple, but every level changes up the palette to a new set of vibrant, neon-soaked hues. If a pill falls below your shield and you don't manage to destroy it before it falls off the screen, you die of an overdose.
Those are the basics, but the bare-bones tutorial doesn't even say that much. Advanced mechanics, such as chaining combos, snagging power-ups, and something I've come to call "bumping" pills, are never mentioned or introduced, which is a shame, because these advanced bits make Intake compelling.
Each pill you hit with the properly colored cursor starts or continues a combo. If you miss your target, however, the combo drops, and you need to start over again. If you destroy a pill with your shield, you're safe, but you don't get any benefits. Combos are critical because they act as score multipliers that increase the in-game currency yield of each round. The points you earn, appropriately measured in milligrams, are used to unlock more colors, more music, additional lives, and power-ups. As the pace of the game picks up, all but the best players will be lost without these power-ups and extra lives, so unlocking them as early as possible is important. There's a decent variety of power-ups as well: one increases the size of pills to make them easier to hit, another one slows down time so you can pick them off with a bit more accuracy, and yet another launches a bolt of lighting that bounces between pills destroying each one it encounters up to a preset limit. Which power-up you get is randomly determined, but you can unequip the ones you've unlocked to limit drops to the one or two you like the most.
Intake draws heavy inspiration from modern rave culture, a sort of bass-driven sensory overload environment where you and the other club-goers teeter on the brink of mental breakdown tapping into the state of mind that stands as the namesake for one of the scene's most popular substances. Aesthetically, Intake captures the feeling almost perfectly. It's loud, obnoxious, and altogether trance-inducing. When the game really got going during intense challenge matches or in some of its later levels, I felt myself achieving a sense of flow that's remarkably uncommon in a fair portion of today's games. Play becomes euphoric as the pace increases--faster and faster--and once you've built up a decent momentum, the experience is unreal.
Intake is a spectacularly minimal game that contains a staggering amount of complexity with just a handful of straightforward concepts.
Achieving that state is easy because everything fits together so comfortably. Everything you can do presents its own risk/reward payoff, and Intake asks you to make so many choices so quickly that, at best, you end up operating on instinct and playing with sheer technical skill. If, for example, you finish a level while an untriggered power-up is on the field, it explodes into a small starbust of tablets, each worth 10 milligrams. Those can, in turn, collide with the tablets that appear in a rainbow shape at the end of every level, making it harder to hit them all and pick up a small completion bonus. Wildly clicking to hit all of the end-of-level tablets helps for a few seconds, but as soon as the next level's pills start falling, missed clicks suddenly count against you once again, and you risk dropping your combo. Picking up extra in-game currency becomes a challenge to gather as much as you can before you risk killing the very thing that multiplies the currency you can pick up.
Perhaps an even tougher choice on the higher levels is whether or not to grab an extra life. On the one hand, it can replenish the one resource that keeps you clicking away at pills longer. On the other hand, the extra life releases a burst upon collection that typically pushes all the pills onscreen closer to the edge, and much like those pills, once the collectible is off the map, it's gone and you're out of luck.
Challenge levels push your skills and the criticality of snap decisions to the limit starting after level 25. There are four different types. Flood stages do just as their name implies and slowly fill the screen with countless pills, typically far more than you could ever hope to click through. Acceleration does just the opposite, sending a few pills rocketing across the screen at insane speeds. Minefield uses an abundance of flashbangs, which are colorless pills that freeze your screen for a second, causing you to lose track of standard pills. The last is called Reaction, and it makes nearly all of the pills detonate violently upon destruction. Typically, that's a good thing, since it wipes out a good chunk of pills all at once, but in this case, careful clicks are the only thing that stand between you and dozens of stray, hypervelocity bits of "medicine." These stages are randomly triggered and mixed in with the normal ones, keeping the level of challenge on the ridiculous end of the spectrum throughout.
Intake is a spectacularly minimal game that contains a staggering amount of complexity with just a handful of straightforward concepts. The only issue, besides the aforementioned semi-useless tutorial, is the exceptionally small music selection. While the tracks are excellent, it's odd that there are only three. The backbone of rave culture is exciting, pulsing music, and more is always better. I've dumped a good 10 hours into the game so far, and I can't say I'm sick of any of these songs, but that might not be the case for everyone.
Games that can, through abstraction, accurately capture the distilled essence of a much larger experience are truly special. Intake is one of them; it uses a few simple ideas to build a complicated affair. It's not quite the relaxing, surreal Dyad, but it does tackle the kind of frenetic, euphoric atmosphere of the modern electronic dance music scene. If you have even the slightest appreciation for score challenges, shoot-'em-ups, or light-gun anything, Intake will keep you popping pills for quite some time.
The announcement came during the Day of the Devs event in San Francisco and on the private backer forums for Broken Age. Ward will be voicing one of the characters in Broken Age, and the reveal was accompanied online by a video showing him in the studio recording lines and improvising with Tim Schafer.
As announced earlier, Hynden Walch (who voices Princess Bubblegum in Adventure Time) Jack Black, and Jennifer Hale also play characters in the game.
Broken Age made headlines earlier this year as the most successful video game Kickstarter (and one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time) up to that point. And Pendleton Ward's cult hit Adventure Time is featured in the upcoming game Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!
The Day of the Devs event runs until 8PM PDT today, and you can watch the remainder on the Double Fine Twitch channel here.
The Mario & Sonic series has always, and perhaps bizarrely, mixed accessible minigames, topical sporting events, and gaming nostalgia. It's an odd but enduring mix, one that's given us Charmy Bee cameos in a stylised re-creation of England's capital city for London 2012, but sadly the mascot duo's fourth outing falls flat.
In Mario & Sonic's first outing on the Wii U, developer Sega starts with a major change for the series: Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games demands that you make use of the Wii MotionPlus across its collection of 20 Nintendo and Sega characters and 25-odd minigames. The hardware boost ensures an extra degree of controller fidelity in new and returning Olympic events including skiing, figure skating, and curling. And while the move creates an additional expense for families with only a few regular Wii Remotes kicking around, the MotionPlus helps bring a touch of finesse to a previously waggle-intensive series.
It's the forced addition of the GamePad that serves to complicate matters, shifting the series away from its simplistic roots. At best you've just got to explain each individual mechanic to a group all holding different configurations of controllers, but at worst you've got to contend with groups of irate children arguing over why one gets to have a GamePad and the others don't.
The GamePad is incorporated in various ways, and like with many aspects of the Mario & Sonic series, there are both ups and downs. Biathlon, a new event for 2014, mixes cross-country skiing on the Wii Remote with a shooting range, letting the player at the top of the pack shoot via the GamePad while forcing others to use the more complicated Wii Remote. It's a sporting event that hasn't been well translated into a party game, suffering too much from the fact that it's the person who's already ahead that gets placed in the most advantageous situation.
Bobsleigh is another example of an event that's complicated by the GamePad's involvement, only one that's far more endearingly preposterous. The leader steers the vehicle with the GamePad while barking orders at up to three other players, who lean their Wii Remotes to the left or right to help steer around corners. Sitting cross-legged in a row on the floor isn't required, but it does make this event a lot more fun.
Snowboard slopestyle, meanwhile, has you take turns to get the highest score on a downhill run, with points awarded for speed, jumps, and grinds. You steer with the GamePad, and flick the touchscreen to perform tricks. It's simple but fun, and is pleasantly different from the more traditional downhill skiing.
Many returning events are identical to their previous incarnations, though some have been spruced up a bit. Hockey, a particularly drab addition in Mario & Sonic's last wintry sojourn, fills in the hole left by the absence of soccer and beach volleyball, now functioning as a kind of cut-down NHL that has you darting around a tiny rink making chaotic overpowered shots while a Shy Guy sits in goal at each end. It's a lot more fun than you'd expect from such a rudimentary implementation, but it's also hard to imagine it being something you'd want to play multiple times.
Figure skating pairs easily takes the crown for the barmiest minigame. Two players are judged on synchronising their movements, and while you're each allowed to hold a Wii Remote, it's when you play together by holding hands around a single controller that the real silliness kicks in. Having one player clumsily spin around the other in real life while an onscreen Daisy pirouettes elegantly around Dr Eggman is enough to put a smile on anyone's face, although you might need to encourage your immediate friends and family members to finish a glass of wine before joining in.
There are highlights, then, but too many events prove to be a disappointment. I've always found it particularly difficult to feel anything but boredom for this series' ski jumping and speed skating modes, and the downhill slide offered by skeleton is handled with more panache by skiing and snowboarding. But it's Sochi 2014's Dream Events that are especially lacking, with the series' former fantastical twists now reduced to half-baked spins of preexisting events wrapped loosely in the aesthetics of the Sonic or Mario series. Snowball scrimmage is the worst of the lot; it's a crude third-person two-versus-two battle with flat snowball-firing guns.
The Mario & Sonic series has been an inclusive experience, catering to all players of all skill levels, but Sochi 2014 complicates that simplicity.
Developer Sega attempts to add value with a flurry of other modes, with Legends Showdown acting as the game's campaign. As opposed to the technically involved London Party board game of London 2012, Legends Showdown simply peppers a cluster of events with the odd cutscene, as a quartet of characters face off against shadow versions of themselves. Each area is capped off with a boss battle against one of the Sonic or Mario series' more obscure characters, including E-102 Gamma, Birdo, and Jet the Hawk. The mode is completely dull.
Medley Mania is similar to Legends Showdown, but presents clusters of events without any narrative context, and Action & Answer Tour mixes individual events with a quiz show . You must complete various feats during randomised events, such as exposing a picture hidden in smoke with curling stones. It's the most successful additional mode in the game by a country mile, forcing you to keep a little something extra buzzing around your head while competing.
The game also adds online competition to the series for the first time, but only via four events: Olympic events freestyle ski cross, snowboard cross, and short track speed skating, alongside multi-vehicle Dream Event winter sports champion race. You can be matched into games alongside strangers or people from your friends list, and online multiplayer is tied together with a national metagame. Winning points in an event goes towards a ranking for your country, with the game displaying the national rankings on the main screen and also via in-game updates on the GamePad.
The Mario & Sonic series has been an inclusive experience, catering to all players of all skill levels, but Sochi 2014 complicates that simplicity. The game's long-winded tutorials have a wearying effect, and the most enjoyable events--which are the simplest, coincidentally--are essentially identical to events from previous years. There are dribs of fun to be extracted from the overall package, but from the outset, it's hard to shake the feeling that this is a series that has now thoroughly outstayed its welcome.
The Mario & Sonic series is the perfect example of the kind of charming, bite-sized, and all-inclusive entertainment that defined Nintendo throughout the Wii's golden years, but a lack of creativity and a poor implementation of the Wii U GamePad ensure that Mario & Sonic's fourth outing in six years fails to secure a podium finish.
Xbox Live transactional revenue was up >25 percent during the quarter ended September 30, Microsoft announced today as part of its latest earnings report. Specific sales numbers were not provided.
Xbox Live transactional revenue continues to grow this year. By comparison, for the quarter ended June 30, this revenue rose by 20 percent.
Microsoft also announced today that it sold 1.2 million Xbox 360 consoles during quarter, down from 1.7 million systems a year ago.
Overall, Microsoft's Devices & Consumer Hardware sector posted revenue of $1.48 billion, compared to $1.08 billion last year. This growth was attributed not to Xbox, but Surface, which added $400 million to the sector. Xbox figures are also counted in Microsoft's Devices & Consumer Hardware Other business unit, which recorded revenue of $1.64 billion, compared to $1.4 billion last year.
Total Microsoft revenue for the quarter was $18.53 billion, compared to $16 billion last year. Microsoft posted a profit of $5.24 billion during the quarter. The Xbox One launches on November 22.
In the dark age of the law, truth has no place within the confines of a courtroom. Reality is nothing more than an unreliable recollection of events by a flawed person. How can we trust memories that are tempered by emotions, undermined by biases, and torn apart by baseless assumptions? Truth and lies are much closer than people would want to believe, and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies explores the twisted path of the judicial system. When the end is the only thing that matters, the means you use to arrive at that point isn't important. Or is it? The moral quagmire of the law is a difficult road to navigate and Dual Destinies weaves a clever analysis of this fascinating process.
Apollo Justice has sworn to protect those wrongly accused of heinous crimes, but an attorney has only so much power to right injustices. When one of his friends is accused of murdering another, his duty to seek justice goes much further than a mere courtroom could allow. Such dramatic events are interspersed with comedic jabs so you're never burdened by these lofty themes. Cutting insults hurled at the buffoonish judge by prisoner-turned-lawyer Simon Blackquill inject levity within the heated debates, and spirited newcomer Athena Cykes displays an energetic naivete while she deconstructs the emotions of those who take the stand. Dual Destinies expertly balances two narrative extremes, using off-the-wall dialogue at key moments to keep the mood light even when the characters are grappling with their own limitations.
Practicing law within the Phoenix Wright universe requires a cleverness better suited to authors of courtroom drama than to actual barristers. While scouring a crime scene, you may find a trinket seemingly unrelated to the facts of a murder, but you tuck it in your inventory without question, in case its importance becomes known during the court proceedings. Pretrial investigations push you from one disorderly scene to another, and you interview potential witnesses to slowly piece together what actually happened. Such activities are performed by rote because there's little variance in what's expected of you. A checklist chronicles exactly what you must accomplish before the next event is triggered, so although the occasional eureka moments stamp exclamation points onto your actions, you're so rarely asked to think beyond the basics that you're left going through the motions until court is in session.
Off-the-wall dialogue at key moments keeps the mood light even when the characters are grappling with their own limitations.
Verbal sparring within the courtroom rises above the pleasant predictability of the investigative process. Witnesses provide testimony tinged with contradictions, so you must scour your evidence to find the piece that proves they're lying. Following the breadcrumb trails of lies to an ultimate truth gives weight to every objection you utter. Although the committed crimes are incredibly complex in how they were performed, there's an underlying plausibility that makes it easy to accept the outcomes. From motivations to opportunities to the method for covering up his or her actions, the perpetrator's thought process is eventually unraveled and displayed in detail. To succeed within the stressful back-and-forth swings is to discover the very essence of truth, and the game masterfully urges you onward to unearth the secrets that lie hidden deep below the surface.
Trust is often the only thing that keeps Phoenix Wright and his colleagues afloat when odds seem stacked against them. The bonds of friendship run so deep that even when every piece of evidence is screaming that the defendant's hands are covered in red, the unwavering belief in his or her innocence keeps the attorneys pushing to explain how the crime actually transpired. And though such loyalty is admirable, it creates situations that border closely on the dangerous adage "the end justifies the means." This phrase is uttered by those who have ushered in the dark age of the law, ignoring truth for the greater good, and though Phoenix strongly disagrees with that theory, he is forced to use creative means to avoid guilty verdicts. Concocting questionable alternate theories eventually brings Phoenix to the truth, but he tears down the wall separating fact from fiction to come to those conclusions.
The game masterfully urges you onward to unearth the secrets that lie hidden deep below the surface.
Because of the dance both the defense and prosecution must perform, Dual Destinies presents both sides of the coin in the the ongoing discussion about achieving justice while working within a flawed judicial system. As much as Phoenix's team members deny the benefits of lying to further their goals, they are guilty of the same actions, so you understand why someone would twist facts for their own purpose. It's fascinating to see these scenes play out. A witness may lie because he's covering up his own despicable actions, trying to hide that he is really guilty of a murder most foul. But other times, lies surface only to protect a loved one. Would you testify if you knew your words could send your friend to prison? Dual Destinies shows just how scary the truth can be, so you sympathize with those who turn their backs on it.
There are times when someone changes reality to fit their own needs, but those aren't the only lies that exist in Dual Destinies. Words are empty to Athena Cykes. As a trained psychoanalyst, she knows that people can say whatever rushes into their heads, but their emotions are unfiltered. When Athena discovers discord, she analyzes the emotions of whoever is on the witness stand to figure out what he or she refuses to say out loud. Why would someone be happy when a ceiling crumbles upon them? Or sad when they don a cloak adorned with shining constellations? This simple mechanic reverberates beyond the courtroom proceeding. I started to think about my own emotions that surface when I wish they would stay hidden. Even when lying would make my life so much easier, the truth still finds a way out, and I realized while calling out witnesses on their contradictory feelings just how pointless it is to hide from who you are.
Dual Destinies dives deep within the psyches of those involved in crimes--from the attorneys to the perpetrators and everyone else associated with the events--and such ruminations give you a better understanding of human motivations. The manner in which you investigate and argue is unchanged from previous iterations, and the exaggerated personalities of the characters hit the same notes as before, which does lessen the mysterious appeal of a courtroom drama. However, Dual Destines is more than just another retread. Themes of friendship and trust make you appreciate the depth of relationships, and the omnipresent question of the necessity of truth provides a compelling backdrop. Phoenix Wright's return to the courtroom brings with it an impressive blend of comedic sensibilities and philosophical examinations that make you question how any judicial system can determine guilt when the relationships people have with the truth are so complicated.
The new site has been on its legs for a little over a week and so far things have been fairly smooth sailing. Of course, there have been a few hiccups along the way but for the most part everything seems to be getting back to normal. Remember, if you find yourself experiencing any technical difficulties, bugs, or just a feature that you miss having around; be sure to share on our Bug Report and Feedback forum.
GameSpot Popular Pick
This week, Sony detailed the cost of the PS4 in Brazil, shockingly enough the next-gen console will be going for $3,999 Brazilian Real due to import fees and taxes. Additionally, games will cost around $179 Brazilian Real. Full Story.
Skylanders: Swap Force is a solid action adventure game complete with a wide variety of lush, colorful environments, an extensive array of enemies to slay, and fun characters to interact with. This is a ridiculous, Saturday-morning-cartoon world, with goblins, trolls, frost giants, mechanical golems, bats, goo-based monsters, and startled sheep being hurled at you as you fight through the single-player campaign. Full Review.
Community Feature: Facebook Fan Sahara
This week's community spotlight shines on our Facebook fan Sahara A. from Brooklyn, NY. She was one of our winners from the Injustice: Gods Among Us contest that we ran. She took the time to share with us this nifty little video of her unboxing her giant box of goodies that we sent (we gave her some extra perks for it being her birthday).
World of WarCraft Trivial Pursuit Winners
On Monday, we posted a giveaway of World of Warcraft Trivial Pursuit Editions on our Facebook page. Here are the winners:
Atish C., Bryan S., Carolina D, and. Teh C.
A Wild Contest Appears!
Also, we posted a random giveaway today on Twitter. These will be happening at different times, so keep an lookout. Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don't miss our awesome random giveaways!
How many shirts does Francy have on? First one to correctly guess wins a download code for Witcher 1 and 2. https://t.co/WjCk7qhWRd— GameSpot (@gamespot) October 18, 2013
Community Final Thought
This week, Ohaifrancy will be taking it easy for the most part but rumor has it that she's busten' out her dancing shoes to give a second look at Just Dance 2014. While DigitalDame is back to her spell slinging and will likely be taking part in yet another Pro-Tour Qualifier. And as always; make sure that you're following us on Twitter, that you Like us on Facebook, and that you've subscribed to us on Youtube.
Have a good weekend, Community OUT!
Grand Theft Auto V deserves accolades for its innovative triumvirate of antiheroes, its many and varied missions, and the sprawling depiction of Los Santos and the hillbilly outbacks. But to rip off what an erudite author once said about Oakland, there is no "there" there. I can't imagine any scenario in which a literary icon like Gertrude Stein would be critiquing a video game, but that legendary putdown can also apply to the Greater Los Santos Area. There is something missing in GTAV that makes the game less engaging than the sociopathic sandboxes of GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas, the two GTA games that will perpetually be my measuring sticks for the franchise.
What is missing most of all is a solid sense of place. Both Vice City and San Andreas reveled in nostalgia. Vice City reeked of the '80s, from the pitch-perfect radio stations to the Crockett and Tubbs lookalikes that showed up in their Testarossas--er, Cheetahs--when you cranked your wanted level to three stars. San Andreas evoked the early 1990s in a similar way. San Andreas' theme was not as developed as Vice City's, but the game still depicted a recognizable time and place in its grim cartoon look at Los Angeles--with sidelong glances at LA County, San Francisco, and Las Vegas--during the explosion of rap and the racial tension that saw a good chunk of SoCal go up in flames after the Rodney King verdict.
Both San Andreas and Vice City seemed like real places. Rockstar's biggest achievement in these games was in creating places that you wanted to visit. Vice City was most successful at this. I practically moved to Vice City; I knew the streets by name and could find my way around there better than in the real world. This devotion speaks to Vice City's power to invade my waking thoughts. Long after the game's release, I would go for long drives around town, listening to the radio and indulging my inner hooligan in a rampage or three. The same is true of San Andreas, although the allure of the '80s theme usually won out before I got the San Andreas disc into the system. Rockstar hasn't forgotten how to do this sort of thing. I liked visiting the faux West of Red Dead Redemption just as much as I did Vice City, and still load up the game to ride around the lonely prairie.
GTAV, much like its immediate predecessor, GTAIV, is too almost-modern for its own good. While the setting is ostensibly today, the plot goes back to the 2008-2009 depths of the Great Recession. The story feels dated, and not in the good way of Vice City and San Andreas, which were intentionally retro. Instead of thinking, "Cool! That Exploder: Evacuator Part II movie commercial perfectly sums up how dumb action movies really were in 1986!" you're thinking, "Man, the developers started writing this stuff a long time ago."
Look beyond the jokey stuff, and you discover an unrelentingly bleak, black-hearted look at humanity.
Not that the economy is really a whole lot better today, of course. But worries about the housing crisis, the implosion of Lehman Brothers, and the bursting of the housing bubble in the US--all things that clearly motivated a lot of the storyline in GTAV--are not exactly current. We've moved on to new economic meltdowns, like the stateside debt ceiling crisis. It's critique of mainstream media is equally archaic; taking shots at reality television for being crass also isn't cutting-edge comedy. Grand Theft Auto V was a clearly expensive game to make and obviously took a long time to develop, but a story that is only contemporary when work begins in earnest on a project of this magnitude ultimately looks dated. It suffers from the curse of trying to be too current.
Los Santos, at least, is brilliantly realized, particularly as a technical achievement. The city and the surrounding meth-producing rural environs form the most realistic depiction of a metropolitan area to ever grace a game. The whole burg lives and breathes, offering colorful slices of life whether you're creeping through backyards in the dead of night or just wandering down the sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon. I don't think I ever encountered any window dressing; all of the people seemed to be present in their own moments, not just there to serve as my personal backdrop. But it's so damn big. I long for the simpler layouts of Vice City and even the more sprawling San Andreas. You could get to know them in a reasonable amount of time, which added to that easy sense of familiarity that turned them into real places in short order.
This is the most personable GTA game, with a strong emphasis on the three lead characters that delves into their psyches (and even into your own psyche by the end of the storyline). That isn't always a good thing, especially when it comes to Trevor, who's probably the most reprehensible dirtbag protagonist in the history of gaming, if not everything. Still, I couldn't look away. Trevor's most malevolent lines were also some of the most hilarious in the game. He forms a vital part of the triumvirate of playable characters, which are a commentary on life in 2008-era America. Trevor represents bottoming out, while burned-out Michael is the guy who's got it all and is still up to his neck in ennui (he's sort of Tommy Vercetti, 25 years later), and up-and-coming Franklin is the man on the rise who's eager to do anything to make the money needed to be regarded as a success in Los Santos. The three are a before, after, and way after.
The script is brilliant, from the start with Franklin and his idiotic buddy Lamar, through Michael's spoiled-brat family life, through Trevor's meth-lab murders, through the multiple-choice endings. GTAV gets back to the psychopathic comic strip best represented in the craziness of Tommy Vercetti in Vice City, but with more plot points and tighter characterizations to hold the story together. This game hates everyone and everything, expressing an unrelentingly bleak, black-hearted look at humanity, with even the few rays of sunlight bookended by atrocity. Trevor shows mercy on occasion, though the biggest act of charity he offers in the entire game comes right after introducing a guy to creative uses for a car battery and a monkey wrench.
The appeal of exploring the map on your own has been diminished.
If you have a dark sense of humor, there are more laugh-out-loud moments here than in all of the previous GTA games combined. Being able to switch between the members of this trio at will is a great mechanic that accentuates the humor. Flipping over to see what Trevor is doing almost always results in tuning in to pure insanity. My favorite such event was dropping in on him just as he was looming over a bikini-clad girl on Vespucci Beach, while wearing nothing but a filthy muscle shirt and tighty whities, saying something about her licking his white bits. Such moments are likely scripted, given how this Walter White moment led directly into a mission opening where Trevor dropped his undies in front of hapless Floyd, but it all seems organic when you're playing.
Missions have also been laid out almost perfectly, with loads of options as to how you play them, especially when it comes to the big multipart heists that see you planning and executing jobs with the help of hired operatives. Events get overly surreal at times, with the trio working together to form something of a James Bond team adept at everything from flying planes to scuba diving. Still, it's all incredibly captivating, and the game does everything at least reasonably well. Flying and landing planes, for instance, still aren't fully enjoyable tasks, but they've come a long way since San Andreas.
Unfortunately, the appeal of exploring the map on your own has been diminished. Attempts at free-form chaos inevitably had me switching back to the scripted stories and missions, which yielded far more entertainment. The only thing I enjoyed about exploring was stumbling upon random occurrences, such as robberies, an apparent bus hijacking, and police shootouts with other criminals. Yet even these great little touches paled in comparison with the scripted missions, and core components of the game design have been tweaked to raise the profile of scripted story at the cost of the open-world concept that has powered previous GTAs. You can still go gonzo in style, but it's not nearly as easy to explode in a random manner when the mood strikes you.
One reason the zaniness feels so limited is that the police are extraordinarily good at what they do and extremely aggressive. They arrive on the scene of even one- and two-star wanted level incidents almost immediately, and a police chopper is quick to show up the moment you hit three stars. Police boats roar up quickly if you try to take to the waves, and cops shoot extremely well, to the point where they can tag you with bullets from a good block away. Basic patrol cars accelerate almost as well as the average Pegassi Infernus, and their drivers are expert at cutting you off and blocking you in. If you want to go on a satisfying tear, you need to armor up, make sure you have loads of the best hardware that Ammu-Nation carries, and have a zippy car nearby. Walking out of a hospital in a bad mood and going berserk with cathartic anger generally gets you wasted again in very short order.
It's a lot more fun to escape the cops by slamming a car into a Pay 'n' Spray booth at a hundred miles an hour than it is to cower in an alley for five minutes while the police gradually give up their pursuit.
You can still go on rampages and evade the police, of course, but you have to do it more realistically by switching cars, hiding in bushes, ducking into somebody's backyard, hanging out in a parking garage, and so forth. This is a more lifelike way of ditching the boys in blue, but it's not very entertaining, especially if you like the intensity of one-man-stand firefights. The best way to eliminate a wanted level now is to hide. I had the most success by driving off-road where the cops couldn't follow me very well. Then I just stuck the car in a gully and sat back until my wanted level vanished completely.
Long gone are the days when you could clock six stars (the game now tops out at five stars), get the army after you, and still escape justice simply by scraping into a Pay 'n' Spray a second ahead of the long arm of the law. Pay 'n' Spray shops have actually been pulled out of GTAV entirely in favor of Los Santos Customs, which is more of a car modification garage than a ready way to escape the cops, since it's useless unless you've already lost your pursuers. Magic car paint in Vice City and San Andreas may have been pretty ridiculous, but it was also a great game mechanism that emphasized the catch-me-if-you-can excitement that made sandbox rampages so integral a part of the GTA experience. It's a lot more fun to escape the cops by slamming a car into a Pay 'n' Spray booth at a hundred miles an hour than it is to cower in an alley for five minutes while the police gradually give up their pursuit.
This is a considerably different style of game than either San Andreas or Vice City, with more structure and less of that eyes-wide-open world where the most fun was surveying the landscape and seeing what kind of trouble you could get into. This is a new GTA, one that is a great game on its own terms, but also one that fails to capture the magic of the freestyle adventures that set the tone for the series. I can't see myself coming back to GTAV very often now that I've wrapped the main storyline, save to check out the expansions that Rockstar is undoubtedly prepping for 2014, or to get into the multiplayer, if and when it lives up to its potential. Here, because the game's structure is so tight, done is done. That's typical of how I play games. But it isn't typical of how I play GTA games.
GameStop's Black Friday advertisement has leaked, giving gamers a look at some of the deals they can score at the retailer during the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza next month.
According to the advertisement obtained by GottaDeal.com, which GameStop has not verified is accurate, Battlefield 4 will be available for $30, while Call of Duty: Ghosts will go for $50. Both deals are valid Friday only.
The leaked ad also indicates that GameStop will offer a pair of HD console deals. A 250GB Xbox 360 bundle including Tomb Raider and Halo 4 will be available for $200, while a 250GB PlayStation 3 with copies of Batman: Arkham Origins and The Last of Us will also go for $200.
Other deals include Assassin's Creed III ($15), Halo 4: Game of the Year Edition ($30), Red Dead Redemption: Game of the Year Edition ($15), and BioShock: Infinite ($20), among others.
A GameStop representative was not immediately available to comment on the leaked ad. The retailer traditionally offers various markdowns on Black Friday.
GameStop is hiring more than 17,000 seasonal employees for the holiday.
I vividly remember finally nabbing that final star in Mario Galaxy 2. It had taken weeks of planning the perfect route, and timing each and every button press to guide Mario across that agonising collection of spinning platforms and deathly gravity traps. In a way, it was an oddly torturous experience, but--for that feeling of elation upon reaching the glorious golden star--an entirely worthy one. Sonic Lost World so desperately wants to capture that feeling. The trouble is, where Galaxy presented its more difficult challenges only to those who actively chose to pursue them, Lost World bombards you with arduous platforming trials at every turn.
The first level, for example, is a take on the classic Green Hill zones of past Sonic games. Long grass-covered cylinders and floating planetoids are home to complex spring arrangements and rolling spiked balls that leave just the tiniest of gaps for you to squeeze through. Then there are the enemies--some heavily armoured, others camouflaged onto walls--that lie directly in the path of speed boosters and at the end of long spring-aided jumps. It's all the inordinately tricky platforming of Galaxy without any of the gentle trials needed to ease you into it.
That's odd considering this is a game that shamelessly lifts ideas from its plumber-fronted rival. Each of its levels are filled with the same free-floating islands and gravity-based trickery that made Galaxy such a success, and even includes those super tricky tunnels and half-pipes that slide you along at a pace while you nudge into rings and avoid deadly spikes. Frozen Factory throws slippery surfaces into the mix, with one wrong move hurtling Sonic off into space, while Tropical Coast throws you into a lush tropical environment filled with some familiar-looking planetoids. Even the boss battles are similar, with one fireball-dodging session an almost like-for-like replica of Mario's Bowser battle atop a small planet.
This is a game that shamelessly lifts ideas from its plumber-fronted rival.
Lost World's copying isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, if you're going to take ideas from anywhere, it might as well be from Galaxy. Sometimes this approach works. You might have to use gravity to guide a giant apple into a mincer on a small planetoid, carefully avoiding enemy fire before leaping into the stream of juice to catapult to another area. Or, you might have to deftly guide a Sonic snowball around a series of intricate platforms, much like the levels in Galaxy where you manoeuvre Mario atop a giant ball.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time Lost World lacks its rival's finesse. Sonic's raw speed sits uncomfortably alongside the gravity-based platforming, making it far too easy to suddenly leap off into oblivion. And while you can at least slow Sonic down to a more sedate pace, his overly twitchy movement makes it tricky to land on certain platforms, or perform the precise movements needed to nab one of the many red coins hidden amongst a level. Plus, a loose sense of depth means it's difficult to jump precisely onto switches to free trapped critters, and line up jumps, making the already difficult levels more taxing.
Lost World's own ideas often fall flat too. Rings placed alluringly up the sides of walls can be reached with a spot of parkour, but its implementation is clumsy. All too often I found myself cursing at the screen as Sonic failed to leap smoothly from a platform to a wall-run and frustratingly plunged to his death in endless space. The wisp powers of Sonic Colors, such as drill, which lets you burrow through the ground to collect extra rings, and rocket, which lets you jet off to distant planetoids by aiming with the motion sensor, make a return, but they're more of an amusing aside than an integral part of Sonic's arsenal.
Then there are the new powers, such as eagle, which uses the motion sensor to fly Sonic through the air, but does so erratically, with an imprecision that makes collecting the bonus rings it puts tantalizingly within reach a nightmare. Each power is time limited too, and in the case of eagle, if you drift off course because of the frustrating motion controls, you're dropped off the planet to your death. Again.
Lost World fares better in its 2D sections, where some of the classic Sonic platforming magic makes an appearance. Zipping Sonic through loop-the-loops and smashing badniks to free the cutesy animals trapped within is great fun, with the depth and control niggles far less of an issue here. And while the challenges aren't all that imaginative--avoiding falling blocks and navigating banks of bouncy springs--they're way more enjoyable than the frustrating mishmash of speed and exploration found in the 3D sections. Unfortunately, here too a misjudged level of difficulty stifles progress; I defy anyone not to develop an unhealthy hatred of the all-seeing owl that unleashes an insta-death flurry of bats when you wander into its evil, gazing spotlights.
The fact that these moments are thrown into the main story arc is baffling and immensely frustrating too. At least you're not missing much when it comes to the story, which plays out like a Saturday-morning kids' show, complete with grating 90210 voice acting and a gross overuse of the word "bro." Plus, while it's not going to win any awards for its art style, Lost World's colourful visuals are easy on the eye, and even raise a smile or two during its more esoteric moments, with the candy-based platforms of Desert Ruin being a particular highlight.
Sonic Lost World desperately wants to be Mario Galaxy, but in overtly coveting the great Italian plumber, it smothers the talents of its blazing blue hedgehog.
If you opt for the 3DS version of Lost World don't expect a dramatically different, or better experience: both the story and zones are the same. There are some redesigned levels to accommodate the 3DS version's simplified powers (reminiscent of the shield-based power-ups from Sonic 3), but the same design, control, and difficulty issues remain.
That some inoffensive visuals and a few fun 2D sections are the highlights of a largely 3D game is telling. Sonic Lost World desperately wants to be Mario Galaxy, but in overtly coveting the great Italian plumber, it smothers the talents of its blazing blue hedgehog. There were moments when I thought it might all come together, when Sonic's fun, if slightly erratic, speed would be matched to levels that were intelligently designed to make the most of it. There were some brief glimpses of that, but for the most part, Sonic Lost World is confused and derivative, and tries far too hard to be clever without any clever design to back it up.
Fan favorite Take5 was disqualified from the MLG Columbus Championship qualifier for using standins.
Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho, Take5's team captain, just broke over Twitter that his team has been disqualified from the Major League Gaming Columbus Championship qualifiers for using an unregistered standins in their match against VexX Gaming yesterday. VexX will, according to Ho, move forward in the bracket due to Take5's forfeiture.
When GameSpot eSports asked Major League Gaming for a comment, Executive Vice President Adam Apicella told us:
"Take5 reached out to us about a roster change on 10/3. We let them know they could make additions to their roster prior to their first match. However, they made no additions to their roster. On 10/7, the day of their first match, they played a match with 2 stand ins that were not on their registered tournament roster, resulting in a DQ.
Their original tournament roster consisted of:
On the night of 10/7 Arteezy and Demon did not show up and were replaced by players that were not on the official roster."
A comment on Reddit appeared shortly after the news broke that alleged Take5 had used Arif "MSS" Anwar, the new mid player from Evil Geniuses, in their match. When GameSpot asked Ho whether he could confirm or deny the allegation he declined to comment.
The MLG Columbus Championship will take place on November 22nd to 24th at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. The tournament will feature nine of the best Dota 2 teams from around the world, including the International 3 winners Alliance, Na'vi, DK, Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid, and boasts a $50,000 prize pool.
Film composer and former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Cliff Martinez reveals Far Cry 4 is in development.
During a recent interview with Lost in the Multiplex, Drive composer and former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Cliff Martinez revealed Far Cry 4 is in development.
Asked what projects he is currently working on, Martinez outed the unannounced game. The original text has been edited to remove mention of the game, but Polygon saw the story before the change was made.
"There's a secret mission that I'm not completely on yet, it looks like I'll also be doing a Soderbergh TV series called The Knick, and I'm working on a video game called Far Cry 4," he said. "So yeah, I'm popular all this week."
A fourth Far Cry game would not be much of a surprise. Ubisoft senior vice president of marketing and sales Tony Key said this summer that the commercial and critical success of Far Cry 3 has ensured a sequel.
"We're totally psyched from [Far Cry 3]. It's a great brand, and now it's got the recognition it deserves, so we're clearly going to make another one; more on that soon," he said at the time.