A number of sandbox games don't actually embrace openness in their mission design. Mafia III, if this trailer is any indication, shows otherwise.
Vietnam war veteran and protagonist Lincoln Clay can face missions in a handful of different ways. Stealth, melee takedowns, explosions, sniping, or just regular ol' gunplay seem to cover the options Mafia III makes the available to the player. Given how most games funnel you down one specific path for each mission, this choice is quite refreshing.
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Mafia III comes out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 7. To look at Game Informer's cover story on Mafia III, check out the hub here.
Although formulaic and somewhat one-note, Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice is a fast-paced platformer in a similar vein to classic side-scrolling Sonic the Hedgehog games. It combines the same enjoyable spin-dashing, looping courses, and ring collecting of old with some new--albeit vapid--ideas. The story comes down to the classic struggle of Sonic and friends trying to clean up the mess left in the wake of Dr. Robotnik’s shenanigans. The only difference, however, is the fact that mysterious rifts in the world have integrated with the tech worn by Sonic and his buddies, temporarily granting them their newfound fire and ice powers.
With a button tap, you can charge Sonic with fire or ice powers, allowing him to burn away or melt obstacles and freeze solid water for easier traversal across hazardous environments. These features are useful in more challenging sections with many obstacles that call for quick reflexes, including moments where moving pillars have to be avoided by quickly switching between fire and ice to enter safe zones beneath the hazards, but the feature is not so great when it brings fast-paced sequences to a jarring, unnecessary halt by sending characters crashing headfirst into an icy brick wall or through water into a pit of spikes.
You have the ability throughout the game to rapidly switch between different characters from the Sonicverse, including Knuckles, Tails, and Amy. Each character has their own unique special ability that can occasionally be used to access otherwise gated sections or each stage. For example, Amy’s hammer can bash walls or floors to move certain obstacles and Knuckles’ burrowing ability allows him to dig underground.
Some abilities can occasionally be used for mundane tasks like collecting items, but they rarely have any meaningful application aside from accessing hard-to-reach areas. And really, searching for hidden items is largely inconsequential, more of a temptation for completionists than a beneficial pursuit in practical terms. Like the fire-and-ice mechanic, special abilities and collectibles are ultimately underutilized.
The flow of Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice is also unabashedly formulaic. Every island Sonic visits has a handful of standard 2D levels set in seemingly arbitrary environments, like a prehistoric beach or a pirate bay. Accompanying these core areas are a few others with different formats that break up the flow of typical side-scrolling levels. These include a runner-like minigame in which Sonic auto-runs while dodging obstacles using his fire and ice powers; a side-scrolling, time-limited submarine-diving minigame used to acquire trading-card collectibles; and one-on-one races with one of Robotnik’s super-fast robots.
Minigames are fairly basic and straightforward, and only loosely related to the rest of the adventure. The attempt to fit a submarine minigame in an otherwise standard 3D platformer especially felt somewhat out of place, but ultimately these diversions serve as a nice palate cleanser in between 2D levels and make for easily replayable challenges.
Although formulaic, when it makes great use of its new mechanics and evokes classic Sonic gameplay, Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice is a competent and enjoyable adventure. The ability to replay levels and minigames to improve scores or use a character’s unique ability to explore more of a map offers enough incentive to dive back in, and the mix of classic Sonic platforming elements with newfound twists gives the game a more novel identity unto itself. Compared to the many missteps in Sonic’s history, it’s a decent example of what the series could be in a modern context. But when measured solely on its merits as a platformer, Fire and Ice is a repetitive yet competent game that's slightly above average.
We've seen Titanfall 2's story from the viewpoint of a Pilot, but not from an outsider. The newest cinematic trailer for Titanfall 2 shows the relationship between Pilot and Titan from an envious grunt.
The trailer gives us the perspective of an unnamed militia rifleman as he tries to push back the IMC, the antagonistic force responsible for destroying the Frontier, the narrator's home. Given how the Titans are a powerful force, it makes sense how idolized these mechanical beings and their human counterparts are.
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Titanfall 2 comes out on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 28. If you want more campaign details, check out Javy's article detailing five must-know aspects about Titanfall 2's single-player mode. But if you want to read about the multiplayer, click here for a look at the returning Attrition mode.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered releases alongside certain versions of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, but those who pre-purchase Infinite Warfare on PlayStation 4 will get access to the game next week. And that's why it already has a launch trailer.
For those pre-purchasers, the game's campaign will be available to play on October 5. The online multiplayer, which includes 10 maps with plans to add six more for free in December, will be online when the game wide releases on November 4..
The trailer is full of Modern Warfare spoilers, so tread lightly if you've never played the game and are hoping to be surprised. But those that played the game in 2007 will recognize many of its most memorable moments.
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Modern Warfare Remastered will be included with either the Legacy, Digital Deluxe or Legacy Pro edition of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, which will be available on November 4.
The Clockwork Mansion is one of Karnaca's technological wonders, a mechanical building engineered with shifting walls and automaton security. A new Dishonored 2 trailer shows Emily Kaldwin roam its twisting hallways, leaving a trail of carnage along the way to her assassination target.
Kaldwin is there to take on Kirin Jindosh, the mind behind the mansion. During her tour of destruction, you'll see her tap into her supernatural powers to tear through human guards and dismantle clockwork enemies.
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It's a lengthy look at the game, but this kind of all-out action may not be for everyone. Tomorrow, Arkane and Bethesda are releasing a new video, which shows a non-lethal stealth run of the level.
Nidhogg, the indie competitive fencing game with the weird name that makes sense if you look up its meaning, is getting a sequel.
The original game was a simple, but engaging title with visuals that recalled games like the very first Prince of Persia. The sequel's visuals have been radically overhauled, but the core combat moves forward. Additions, outside the aesthetic ones, include new weapons like bow and arrow and axe, as well as fatality moves, which you can see in the trailer below.
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For our review of the original Nidhogg, head here. Nidhogg 2 will be out in 2017.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is a fulfilling follow-up to Inti Creates' electric 3DS action-platformer from 2014, and while it's notably similar in many ways, the subtle changes it introduces expand and enrich the experience. An additional playable character--the returning antihero Copen--completely changes the way the game is played, and expanded sub-systems imbue the action with newfound significance and complexity. Whether you've played the first game or not, Gunvolt 2 is an exemplary display of tightly-paced action from start to finish.
Gunvolt 2's story takes place shortly after the events of the first game, throwing its electric-powered protagonist, the titular Gunvolt, into a conflict against Eden, a fanatical group of superpowered individuals known as Adepts. However, Gunvolt isn't the only one standing against Eden; his rival and anti-adept extremist, Copen, has also entered the fray fueled by his own agenda.
Despite the fact that the game offers a different campaign for each of its two playable characters, the narratives told aren't very memorable--each follow a structure that more or less resembles an extended fetch quest. At times, a hint of self-aware writing attempts to tide over the lacking story, but these moments end up more cringeworthy than entertaining.
Fortunately, these narrative issues do little to undermine the game’s strongest quality: run-and-gun action. Like its predecessor, combat is focused on tagging enemies with pistol fire and zapping them with a devastating surge of electricity. The game's distinct "tag-and-assault" playstyle deconstructs the rudimentary nature of combat within run-and-gun action games, breaking down the formula into a multi-step process. The result is combat that's both incredibly engaging and satisfying in practice.
For those who played the first game, it's worth noting that Gunvolt's abilities haven't changed much, as the skills and abilities he earns throughout the game are identical, like his HP restoring Galvanic Patch skill and his powerful Luxcalibur projectile attack. Some minor additions are present, however, such as new items that allow you to increase the number of enemies you can tag. These don't do much to enhance the already well-realized Gunvolt, but despite the lack of any meaningful changes, he remains an entertaining protagonist.
Then there's Copen, a character whose addition opens up a wealth of new combat opportunities. Like Gunvolt, Copen's primary method of attack is tied to tagging and assaulting his enemies. But while Gunvolt tags an enemy by shooting them, Copen does so by dashing into them. Once an enemy's tagged, Copen can follow up with a barrage of powerful homing bullets from his pistol. This might sound like a miniscule deviation from the formula, but the differences between Copen and Gunvolt are immense.
For starters, Copen can only tag one enemy at a time, while Gunvolt can tag up to three. To compensate for this limitation, Copen has a higher degree of mobility, thanks to his ability to air dash in six different directions. In addition, he sports an arsenal of support weapons that help compensate for his inability to tag more than one enemy. For instance, he has a dual water cannon that can provide supporting fire, and a drill weapon he can deploy to cover his rear. Copen is by far the more gratifying character to play as, offering a complex set of tactics to learn, an array of attack options to use, and a sense of speed that's continually exhilarating.
Thankfully, the stages are meticulously designed around each character's playstyle, providing a diverse selection of obstacles to navigate, hazards to avoid, and enemies to defeat. During the first half of the game, each character traverses stages completely unique to his campaign. The latter half, however, has both characters progressing through the same ones. This structure lends itself well to emphasizing the unique abilities that Gunvolt and Copen posses. While none of the areas are particularly memorable on a visual level, the challenges they present keep the pacing tight--the game never lets up as you unleash an onslaught of destruction against the waves of enemies in your way.
The experience is further enhanced by the kudos system, an adjustable score counter that increases as you defeat enemies. The catch? If you're hit often, you stand to lose all the points you've earned. The points you do earn are saved at the semi-frequent checkpoints you encounter and contribute to your total score at the end of a stage. This feeds into the crafting system--the better your total score value, the more crafting items you can obtain at the end of the stage. From there, you can create special equipment to improve your character's abilities.
This all may sound superficial on paper, but in practice, the system injects the action with a new level of challenge, unlocking a difficulty you wouldn't have otherwise known existed by simply playing the game. Hazards and bosses take on a whole new meaning when you can only take one hit before your score multiplier goes straight to zero. With three different kudos-system options to choose from--each offering different handicaps and score multipliers--there's more than enough challenge to take on.
When these various mechanics all function at once, things can get crowded on-screen. This is further compounded by dialogue boxes that take up nearly a third of the screen, sometimes obscuring the position of enemies. Fortunately, the dialogue can be turned off, but that feels counterintuitive if you're trying to understand the narrative. The presence of an English dub might have alleviated these issues--Gunvolt 2 is dubbed in Japanese--but even then, the amount of space taken up by the speech boxes on the screen remains a major issue when trying to focus on the action ahead.
With a host of bonus stages and challenge modes that unlock after clearing each campaign, Gunvolt 2 provides enough to inspire you to go back in for another run--either to refine your skills or simply to bask in the bliss of combat and movement. While an uninspired story and intrusive dialogue displays hold the game back from reaching its potential, what's here remains incredibly satisfying and worthwhile.
Mafia III's Lincoln Clay must think he's something special if he can defeat the mafia in the game's New Bordeaux, and this new trailer for the game shows just how special he is.
The trailer features Hayden Blackman, studio head at developer Hangar 18 and the game's director, talking about what makes Lincoln particularly apt to defeat the mafia. From his army training, brutal stealth kills, weaponry, and ways he can move around environments, Lincoln is a force to be reckoned with.
In Osiris: New Dawn you have to make your way as an explorer who has crashed on a mysterious planet. The game is now in Steam Early Access, and the launch trailer celebrating that availability shows that while you may be a stranger in a strange land, you're far from helpless.
The trailer highlights just a few of the game's features, from building bio domes and vehicles, to combat against some fearsome natives and traveling off the planet.
For more info on the game and to buy into the Early Access version, check out its Steam page.
Kunio’s a hot-blooded teenager who’s known as the toughest punk at school--his very name sends fear down the spines of rival troublemakers across Tokyo. Grades and respect for authority mean little to him--he’s all about fighting for his own personal brand of justice, and if that means pummeling a few muscle-heads on the back streets of Tokyo, he’ll do it. However, what seems like a personal scuffle between one of Kunio’s friends and a rival group turns out to be a plot by a vicious gang to conquer all of Tokyo. It’s up to Kunio and company to clean up the streets in order to put a stop to their plans.
River City: Tokyo Rumble utilizes much of the familiar gameplay and visual style of River City Ransom--a cult-classic NES brawler. As Kunio, you bash your way across side-scrolling sections of Tokyo, fighting off mobs of rivals and local punks and picking up the loot and cash they drop, all while learning more about the strangely lovable band of delinquent scrappers you’re controlling. Tokyo Rumble’s combat is pretty basic when compared to other beat-em-ups, but that’s not really a huge mark against it--the easy-to-learn controls make it a breeze for players of all skill levels to start delivering some beatdowns.
Of course, if things didn’t increase in complexity, the game would get dull pretty fast--but that’s a point where Tokyo Rumble excels much in the same way as the original RCR. As you pick up money and items dropped by defeated enemies, you can buy food, equipment, and skills to help augment your character. Gear like boots and brass knuckles raise your fighting stats, while buying instructions on new fighting skills from bookstores adds new moves to your arsenal--they increase your options during combat without significantly upping the control complexity. Pummeling enemies also increases your level, allowing you to get stronger and stronger as the game goes on.
Tokyo Rumble is modeled after RCR in its gameplay and visuals, but this time publisher Natsume has opted for a somewhat different style of localization that preserves much of the Japanese setting--many areas are based on real-life parts of Tokyo--and cultural tough-guy tropes that were missing from RCR. The result is a game that feels both comfortingly familiar and fascinatingly different to fans of the original RCR.
Supplementing this is an all-new quest system that has Kunio and company doing various errands in areas they’ve already cleared, such as fighting special bosses or looking for hidden mystery shops. Progressing through the game will also let you recruit CPU-controlled helper characters, who tag along with you but fight and level up independently. You can give your CPU pals basic orders, such as “help” or “stay back,” and they can be great assets during tougher boss brawls.
I say “tougher” because Tokyo Rumble isn’t a terribly difficult game on the default setting: I played through on Normal, and it felt quite breezy as long as I kept a few healing items on hand for the bosses. It’s also not a terribly lengthy game, either: you’ll likely be able to smack your way through this on a lazy Saturday. While you can extend the game length by taking on the various optional missions available throughout the game, many of these missions actually make the game less fun, like asking you to beat a high number of faceless thugs in certain parts of the city or entering the same areas over and over again in hopes of finding a rare enemy encounter.
Tokyo Rumble does a good job of avoiding repetition in the core game, but asking you to waste time bashing generic thugs can make the combat really start to wear out its welcome. The same goes with boss fights: While some bosses have a few neat tricks up their sleeves, such as surrounding themselves with speedy motorcycle gangsters that need to be KO’ed with jump attacks, a lot of them are simply brutes that favor perseverance over skill.
While the main game is brief, it’s plenty of fun, and bonus minigames like dodgeball add some extra charm to Tokyo Rumble. It’s a solid action game with a charming retro flavor that leverages RCR's foundation to construct both a new adventure and a different perspective on beloved game. Here’s to hoping that Tokyo Rumble heralds the further adventures of Kunio and company coming Westward as well.