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  • Game Informer News Feed: <img src="https://www.gameinformer.com

    Today is the 27th anniversary livestream for Sonic the Hedgehog, which unfortunately did not have any loud buzzing sounds or people in Sonic costumes being awkwardly asked to stop dancing and exit the stage. It did, however, have an announcement of a few new characters for Team Sonic Racing.

    Amy comes with a pink car that she is basically invisible standing against, the Chao which is actually four Chao driving together have a pod-like buggy, and Big the Cat has a big green car that looks like Froggy and has a fishing rod in the back. 

    Team Sonic Racing later this year on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Switch.

  • Game Informer News Feed: <img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/prod

    At E3 this year, Life is Strange creators Dontnod revealed a new story set in the Life is Strange universe, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. The episode will be free to download and the developers have confirmed it is launching one day earlier than its initially revealed date next Tuesday. The game is now launching on June 25.

    Here are the release timings for when you will be able to download and play #CaptainSpirit entirely for free! pic.twitter.com/G1epJ2noDf

    — DONTNOD_Ent (@DONTNOD_Ent) June 21, 2018

    The game supposedly sets up the story of Life is Strange's sequel series, but it's currently unknown why or how. The episode will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

  • Game Informer News Feed: <img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/prod

    Announced in a Reddit AMA today, Ubisoft confirmed that Assassin's Creed Odyssey will have a reversible cover, each side featuring a different playable character.

    Q: Will Assassin's Creed Odyssey have a reversible cover? - Rubensaurus pic.twitter.com/E05RdHWRVK

    — Assassin's Creed (@assassinscreed) June 21, 2018

    One side of the cover will represent Alexios, the male choice, while Kassandra, the female choice, is on the otherside. While it isn't said there which cover will be the default one, Ubisoft did confirm in a later answer that Kassandra is the canon story. They did emphasize, however, that there's no incorrect choice between the two.

    Q: Will there be a definitive canon story? - TheOneAlistair pic.twitter.com/ekRM7CBgvJ

    — Assassin's Creed (@assassinscreed) June 21, 2018

    If you want to learn more about Assassin's Creed Odyssey, check out New Gameplay Today playing through a good chunk of the new game, wrote down ten things to know about the game, and explain how the latest AC title is doubling down on Assassin's Creed Origins' RPG elements.

  • Game Informer News Feed: <img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/prod

    The Switch version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, the puzzle/adventure game starring the galaxy-spanning explorer and his colleague Toadette, has a demo on the Switch eShop in all regions now.

    You can go ahead and download the demo now and explore how the game plays on the Switch. Captain Toad made his introduction in Mario Galaxy as the leader of a brave though perpetually lost exploration force, then as a minigame in Super Mario 3D World. That minigame was spun off and fleshed out into Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, which ended up featuring full levels from 3D World for Captain Toad to strut through.

    According to a Nintendo World Report preview, however, the Switch version is losing those 3D World levels. It was revealed in its first Nintendo Direct that the game would be getting New Donk City-themed stages added to the Switch and 3DS versions, but it appears those are coming at the cost of the 3D World content. It sounds like the other stages are based on Odyssey's kingdoms, but are still replacing 3D World's levels with smaller puzzles.

    You can find our review of the Wii U version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker right here.

  • Gamespot News Feed: Jurassic World Evolution Review: Life Finds A Way

    Whether you're reminded of vicious raptors hunting terrified children, placid Brachiosaurus strolling verdant hills, or a scientist reaching elbow-deep into a mound of Triceratops dung, the words "Jurassic Park" can evoke some pretty powerful memories. Jurassic World Evolution reinforces these associations with its take on dino-park management, and all the good and bad that comes with such a brazen endeavor. It can be a bit clumsy at times, but Evolution ultimately finds a comfortable middle ground between establishing deep mechanics and maintaining accessibility for the average dino enthusiast.

    Your venture kicks off with a warning from Dr. Ian Malcolm--voiced by Jeff Goldblum himself--who ruminates about the inevitability of disaster before dropping you straight onto the first of the game's five main islands. To successfully run your new park, you need to maintain a variety of dinosaur species and build facilities to protect and entertain paying customers. Do well enough and you unlock additional islands for your expanding park, each with a new curveball to keep you on your toes, be it aggressive weather systems, unique financial constraints, or limited construction options.

    After learning the basics of construction and dinosaur creation, you're introduced to the three divisions that make up your park's staff: science, entertainment, and security. Each division will offer contracts that, when completed, give you cash and raise your reputation with that division. This unlocks further items and buildings for research, as well as that division's story mission. While contracts are a good source of money in the early game, they come with an odd complication: completing contracts for one division lowers your reputation with the other two. This creates a nonsensical balancing act that, whilst not difficult to overcome in the long run, feels arbitrary in context.

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    Building a good dinosaur park isn't as simple as putting down some fences, incubating dino eggs, and sitting back to watch them majestically take their first steps into the world. You'll need to manage everything from dig sites and DNA extraction to general park maintenance via your rangers--who will fill feeders, fix fences, and keep everything in working order. In an awesome twist, you can manually control the rangers' Jeeps or helicopters from a close third-person perspective, leading to some surprisingly beautiful and memorable moments as you mingle with the great beasts inhabiting your park.

    If you've played any kind of park management sim before, you'll feel right at home with how everything works thanks to streamlined controls and an elegant UI. Console players can similarly rejoice as controller configurations are surprisingly intuitive, making navigating everything a breeze.

    With the exception of cash, all your research and item progression is shared across each of the islands, and you can freely move between them at will once they're unlocked. If you've got something you want to research but you're struggling with funds in your current park, switch back to your previous one and spend their money on it instead. Although it would be a time saver to simply let you funnel cash from one park to another, going back to old parks never feels you're like taking a step backwards. Research progression is skewed so that you'll unlock the next park before you've unlocked all the research items in your current one, so you'll always feel like you're achieving something worthwhile, even if that means re-visiting old areas.

    Interestingly, unlike most other park management sims, you can't speed up the flow of time while waiting for tasks to complete, but it's not as detrimental as it sounds. It's rare that there isn't something in the park needing attention, and more often than not you'll be thankful for the time.

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    Each of the dinosaurs in your menagerie have particular needs--some are placid, solitary creatures who are super chill, while others are quick to go on high alert. Put a herbivore in a pen full of meat-eaters and it will (understandably) panic. Put two aggressive meat-eaters next to each other and they'll probably fight to the death, unless you can get your rangers in there to tranquilize and then separate them both before any real harm is done. Learning the differences between each species is an important part of keeping your park operating smoothly. But even when things are going well, calamity never feels that far away.

    From rampaging dinosaurs and tropical cyclones to internal sabotage, there's always something ready to trash your hard work. While dealing with these hazards can be exciting in your early hours, the fifth time your Ankylosauruses make a break for it because they don't like being around other dinosaurs can get tiresome. Attacks on park goers can initially be costly; later on, when you've got money to burn, a few lawsuits digging into your bottom line doesn't matter much. But while the lack of surprises and stakes after 20 or so hours is a bummer, it's never enough to take away from the joy of watching your creations live out their lives in structures you've meticulously designed and maintained.

    Evolution captures the essence of Jurassic Park while being a good park management sim in its own right.

    When your coffers fill up, you can really cut loose with how you build up your parks across each island. A maxed-out park is a sight to behold as thousands of guests wander the attractions. Hotels let you increase your parks' capacity to house more people, while shops and arcades will keep them entertained for when they aren't gathering in one of the many viewing platforms that line the fences keeping your dinosaurs in. When it's all working, it's like watching the components of a well-oiled machine tick over. Though it's similarly fun, albeit sadistic, to watch a full park of guests scramble for the emergency shelter when you trigger the alarms.

    If there's one word that could easily describe Jurassic World Evolution, it's "faithful." Taking control of a ranger behind the wheel of a Jeep in the rain and sidling up to a pack of socializing Stegosaurus is as epic as it sounds and is a definite highlight, as is releasing a newly recovered species into your park. Despite the campaign stumbling over itself and losing focus towards the end, Evolution captures the essence of Jurassic Park while being a good park management sim in its own right.

  • Game Informer News Feed: Total War Makes A Compelling Return To History With Three Kingdoms

    After two fantasy-based jaunts into the Warhammer universe, The Creative Assembly has once again turned its eye to history with the latest Total War game. Previous games have let players wage war and live out their realpolitik fantasies in historical periods like medieval Europe, feudal Japan, and the Roman empire. With Three Kingdoms, Total War is taking on a new era, The Han dynasty, as well as a few new gameplay twists.

    Now let's be clear: You should not expect a radically different Total War game with Three Kingdoms, which is probably a good thing. The series has remained one of the strategy genre's most popular titles for a reason, with massive battles featuring detailed environments and troops as far as the eye can see, as well as extensive diplomacy and warfare options on a metalevel. Three Kingdoms looks to expand on all those things.

    While Creative Assembly wouldn't dish out details on what new diplomatic options players would be getting, they told me it would be an expanded suite compared to previous games, and that those who loved finding a reason to justify their high-end PCs would find plenty of eye candy here. The developer also told me that those with moderate-powered PCs would have enough graphical options to make the game run well.

    The biggest gameplay twist that players can expect is when it comes to the MOBA-like hero of generals (all based on historical figures like Lu Bu and Cao Cao) that carries over from Warhammer. Generals have buffs and powers that can turn the tide of battle, but the new wrinkle is that generals can also build relationships with one in another in a social-link mechanic that's reminiscent of both Fire Emblem and even a little bit of Persona.

    During battle, your generals' relationships will change as they fight alongside one another. Sometimes they'll become friends and give each other buffs. Other times, their personalities might grind, having negative effects on your army and maybe even culminating in one of those generals leaving your army to join your opponent's army.  This extends to more than just battles, too. Force a general to surrender enough times without executing him, for example, and he may be so impressed by your honor that he joins your army. This system has a lot of potential for adding an engaging level of unpredictability in the campaign, and we can't wait to see more of it in action.

    Total War: Three Kingdoms is out next year on PC. You can read our review of the previous game, Warhammer II, here.

     
  • Game Informer News Feed: Six Changes That Make NHL 19 The Most Promising Hockey Game Of The Generation

    After starting the console generation in the hole with a handicapped debut, EA’s NHL series has slowly skated back toward relevancy by rebuilding popular modes like EASHL and introducing new ways to play like NHL Threes. But despite incremental changes, the game has never felt truly next gen. Based on our early impressions with NHL 19’s new skating and physics systems, that time could finally be coming. 

    In addition to getting hands-on time with the title, we sat down with longtime producer Sean Ramjagsingh and new creative director William Ho, who most recently worked on the Need for Speed franchise, to talk about the big changes coming to NHL 19 both on and off the ice. Here are the standout changes. 

    A Revolutionary New Skating System
    For years, we’ve been asking for dramatically improved player handling to give us more fidelity in moving in small spaces, more agility when making turns so it doesn’t feel like you are steering the Titanic, and better puck pickups. EA Canada thinks it can go three for three on these requests thanks to the integration of the Real Player Motion animation technology and significant changes to how players skate. 

    Grabbing the controller, it only took a matter of seconds to understand just how dramatically the skating system has improved. Players burst out of their stops, showing the acceleration of world-class athletes. Their edgework, crossovers, and carving looks more in line with NHL players, and it’s much easier to turn, cut, and make hard stops.  Turns are more responsive and natural feeling. "Before it was difficult to just take a step or two over, now you can actually do that," Ho says. That fidelity of movement is going to be necessary, because when elite stick handlers get used to the new skating, they could be even harder to stop. 

    You should also notice a wider variety of skating animations from player to player. For the first time in the series, EA motion-capped small, mid-sized, and large players to give them unique movements. 

    The wide new variety of animations makes it easier for the players to reach for the puck, kick the puck to their stick, or glove the puck, which hopefully alleviates the myriad frustrations around puck pickups. “We've really dramatically improved in this department," Ho says.

    More Realistic Player Collisions
    The new skating animation system couples with a new physics engine to add a lot more variety to the types of hits you see across the ice. 

    “The new physics engine gives us the ability to tune every single limb on the character, and because you see them in new positions they were never in before, we're seeing tons of new checks,” Ramjagsingh says.
    We saw several of these hits in action in our brief time with the game. Some examples include a larger player driving through his target, open ice hits that stop the puck carrier flat, and awkward collisions that take out a players’ arms and legs on the same side. Ramjagsingh says they’ve even seen players helicopter spin when hit right. 

    The incidental contact when players are fighting for the puck also looks more realistic based on the brief time we’ve had with the game thus far. 

    With physicality returning to a more prominent place in the game, the team is still refining defensive tools like poke checks to make sure they aren’t too overpowered. As the game is currently tuned, if a puck carrier is protecting the puck properly, there is a very low chance of getting poke checked and a higher chance of drawing a penalty.

    Introducing The World Of Chel
    The EASHL is the NHL franchise’s stickiest mode, so when exploring new ways of capturing the essence of the sport, EA wanted to expand the way players compete against one another. Enter The World of Chel.

    This new social hub includes EASHL, Threes pick-up games, plus two new modes. The first is NHL Pro-Am, which allows players who want to play online to hone their skills against A.I. before jumping into real competitions. This mode offers 40 3v3 challenges against the best hockey players past and present. The second is Ones, a new skill-based competition that pits your talents against others in a three-for-all where the player who scores the most goals against an A.I. goalie in a certain amount of time wins.

    As you win these 1v1v1 competitions, you earn points that can eventually move you up the competitive tiers. Conversely, if you’re on a losing streak you face the real threat of being relegated back down the ladder. You start playing in a parking lot rink, and can earn your way up to the cove rink, dock rink, and eventually a resort-style rink with massive stands, a festival atmosphere, and live music. These outdoor environments are partially inspired by events like the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships (and feature a unique announcer), but EA took some liberties with the locations. For instance, one is modeled after Lake Louise in Banff National Park, which has the beautiful Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. 

    Ones hosts a daily tournament, so whoever ends up in first place gets a special reward in the form of cosmetics. Another player who sees you wearing a Ones reward will know you're a past champion. These matches are quick, so while this mode won’t be a destination experience for me, I could see myself killing time in these games while waiting for my EASHL team to form up. 

    Greater Player Customization
    No matter which World of Chel mode you play, your created player earns XP and rewards in the form of hockey bags. 

    When first creating your player, you can choose your height and weight, which has parameters based on the 12 available player classes that break down according to classic hockey archetypes (sniper, playmaker, grinder, etc). From there, you can pick from dozens of traits to activate in a primary and secondary slot, as well as specializations. The primary trait is more heavily weighted, and the secondary gets about half the weight. The game gives feedback when you are activating a trait via new HUD icons that light up in the lower left-hand corner, so you can understand if the trait fits with your play style. A large number of traits are unlocked right from the start, and the game awards the rest quickly as you level up.

    Specializations are more context-based, like getting more energy late in a period or giving your team energy boosts if you get a late goal. 

    Since you won’t always be playing the same class in EASHL, NHL 19 allows you to save multiple loadouts so you can develop different roles like stay-at-home defensemen, hitting sniper, etc.

    "Ultimately, we want people to have their favorite loadout so that when they're playing with their buddies, they are min-maxing,” Ho says. “They are strategizing as a group in how they are going to go in as a team with everyone playing their role on the team with their different loadouts."

    Every time you level up, you earn a hockey bag that includes a random cosmetic item. Given that EA wants to expand into the wider hockey culture, this means you will receive apparel well beyond team jerseys. Yes, there is a lot team-brandedded apparel (for current teams – don’t expect a lot of Whalers and North Stars gear), but you can also earn parkas, hoodies, hats, track pants, cargo pants, breezers, unique skates, and fun sticks like an NHL ’94 themed twig. In all, EA says it has more than 900 customization items in the game, with more to come post-release. 

    Given this is EA we’re talking about, you’re probably wondering if these hockey bags are microtransaction focused. "They're not monetized, I'll say that right away,” Ho says. So why is it randomized instead of letting players pick what they want? “We wanted to create a lot of divergence so everyone is getting different rewards so they'll equip different pieces of apparel.  We'll get instant variety on the ice."

    You can’t trade items with other players, but at least you won't have to contend duplicates. 

    Doubling Down On Legends
    We’ve had NHL legends appear in various modes like Hockey Ultimate Team before. But thanks to an agreement with the NHL Alumni Association, EA Canada is bringing enough legends to NHL 19 to fill out several all-time teams. More than 200 legends are featured in this year’s title, including The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky. These legends aren’t all from recent eras, either. The game has Hall of Famers extending back to the days of black and white television, including stars from teams relegated to the dustbin of history like the Hartford Whalers and Minnesota North Stars. 

    A New Scouting System
    We plan to go into greater detail on this at a later date, but what we can tell you right now is EA has designed its franchise mode scouting system to give players more control on how they scout, which results in more useful information on prospects. The CPU teams also have access to this new system, and should be much more active in draft day trades to make sure they get their most coveted prospects. 

    In addition to handling amateur scouts, you will also be managing a team of pro scouts, who will need to be deployed so you understand how other team’s prospects are progressing and whether or not aging players are regressing. These changes should add more interesting management options for players who like to tinker with roster creation. 

    NHL 19 is scheduled to release on September 14 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

  • Game Informer News Feed: Watch Leon Stalk The Halls Of The Raccoon City Police Department In New Resident Evil 2 Footage

    Resident Evil 2 was revealed during Sony's E3 conference and playable on the show floor. While we got hands on time with the demo, the realities of playing a creeping horror game like Resident Evil 2 around people in a bright room on a convention floor means it's hard to sit back and take the entire game in.

    Thankfully, Capcom has released five minutes from the demo containing nothing but the game audio as Leon finds his way in and through the Raccoon City Police Department. You can check out the five minute video below.

    Resident Evil 2 releases on January 25 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

  • Game Informer News Feed: <img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/prod

    Pokémon Quest was announced a few weeks ago at The Pokémon Company's unveiling of Pokémon Let's Go: Pikachu & Eevee and came out just after the unveiling. At the time, the game was announced for both Switch and mobile platforms, but only Switch has been released so far. That might not be the case for too much longer, according to IGN.

    The Japanese Pokémon Twitter account tweeted today that pre-registration for the mobile version begins soon. The Switch version has also been downloaded 2.5 million times so far. IGN discovered an app store listing that says the iOS version of the game, and presumably the Android version as well, will release on June 28.

    You can find our review of Pokémon Quest right here, which takes a thorough look at the Switch version of the game.

    [Source: IGN]

  • Gamespot News Feed: Mario Tennis Aces Review In Progress: Aim High

    When the credits rolled on Mario Tennis Aces' Adventure Mode, I vowed to never again laugh at a tennis player having an ugly meltdown on the court. I had felt the volcanic surge of adrenaline that comes when a rally has gone too long. I knew the sense of high alert while trying to suss out which corner of the court an opponent is going to attack next. I have spliced and invented new curse words to mutter when a ball goes out of bounds. Off-beat stages and creative use of characters from the Marioverse ensure that you'll never lose sight of simply having fun, but don't let the adorable exterior trick you; Aces takes its unorthodox tennis very seriously.

    Mario Tennis' renewed vigor is driven by a suite of new mechanics that force you to make pivotal risk-reward decisions. Special shots are now tied to a meter that fills a little with every shot fired back at your opponent, more so if you're able to charge your swing ahead of time. Once the Energy Meter is at least a third full, a ball landing on your side of the court will be forecast by a glowing star. Initiating a special swing while standing on a star activates a first-person view that lets you aim a powerful Zone Shot.

    When the Energy Meter is completely full, you can unleash your character's Special Shot. While Specials don't unleash the cavalcade of effects they did in Wii U's Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, they do fire a lightning-fast ball that requires exacting maneuvers to return without incurring any harm to your racket--destroy your collection of rackets during a match, and you lose.

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    Holding the R button slows down time at the cost of meter, allowing you to stroll over and hit hard-to-reach shots or gain a slight advantage when returning racket-breaking shots. Alternatively, a Trick Shot can be activated by tilting the right stick, which causes you to leap across the court at the last second . You can get away with basic shots during simple face-offs, but in advanced matches the exchange of powered-up strikes feels like a breathless symphony that requires you to be at the top of your game and on top of your options.

    Even veterans of the series have a little bit of a learning curve to overcome, but Aces' Adventure Mode does a good job of both entertaining you and teaching you how and when to use your new tools. The story itself is ridiculous, but ridiculous in that very specific, quirky way Nintendo has been getting away with for decades. During the Mushroom Kingdom's annual tennis tournament, an evil tennis racket--yes, really--named Lucien takes possession of Luigi and flies off to find five Power Stones that will help him take over the world.

    Instead of settling for a revolving door of opponents along the way, you're challenged to utilize Ace's new mechanics in a range of unusual scenarios. An average stage might simply challenge you to keep a rally going for a certain length of time, but bosses and puzzle stages require a greater level of ingenuity. You have to figure out how to disable protective barriers, earning enough energy to perform a Zone Shot, and aim at the right part of the court to inflict damage. Bosses also initiate hurdling challenges mid-match that reward precise use of your leaping Trick Shot. Adventure Mode mixes up your objectives from one stage to the next to ensure you're never simply going through the motions to progress.

    Mario Tennis Aces does what this series has done best, and improves what it's rarely gotten right prior.

    Aces is more difficult and devious than you might expect, especially in the latter half of Adventure Mode. Though not required, grinding through matches can improve your chances on the court. Win or lose, you earn experience points for every match played, allowing you to improve Mario's speed, power, and agility over time. But no matter how much XP you earn, the only way to make it to the end of Aces' campaign is to master its unique tennis mechanics. Those who persevere will find themselves better equipped and prepared to face anything the other modes have to offer than ever before.

    Outside of Adventure Mode, you'll find a rather plain assortment of activities: a bracket-based tournament mode, exhibition matches against the computer or another friend, online modes, and the ability to play doubles matches, which can turn into downright anarchy before you know it. Online matches will be the true test of Aces' depth, but pre-launch servers being what they are, we still need to spend time playing once the game releases to form a solid opinion of its netcode and the competitive scene.

    Perhaps the one major and surprising misstep is Swing Mode, where players can swing Joy-Cons like proper tennis rackets, similar to Wii Sports Tennis. At first it seems odd that this control scheme is isolated to a specific mode, but within a minute or two, it's obvious why: playing with Joy-Cons feels too imprecise, and even just executing a simple backhand was a twitchy comedy of errors. It's too bad that the motion controls seem to fall apart so easily, but considering that, it's probably best the option is siloed away.

    It's not like Aces needs a gimmick like motion controls to win you over, anyway. The Tetris Effect is in full swing here; days after the credits rolled, I still crave the satisfying thwack from a Power Shot, mentally replay matches and imagine how I might do things differently given a bit more focus and know-how. Mario Tennis Aces does what this series has done best, and improves what it's rarely gotten right prior. Fingers crossed that the online support stands up to the rest of the game after launch.