With just a month before their release, the enthusiasm for Pokémon
Sun and Moon is swelling. At the height of this hype, The Pokémon Company has
given everyone a peek at the final product with a recent demo. While we can't say
for certain that everything in the demo is reflective of the final product,
this appetizer gives us a good idea of what the main course might be like.
The Graphics From the first moment you boot up the demo you can tell that
this is on another level graphically. While X/Y and Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire dabbled
in 3D, they were still technically based on a 2D grid. Sun and Moon go all-in,
adding depth that changes how players interact with the game. Opposing trainers
now watch the player's movements within a line of sight. This gives the
environments a sense of scale that is reinforced by new cutscenes that show
Pokémon at their actual heights compared to the trainer. The final battle of
the demo's main trial with a larger-than-life Hakamo-o felt way more
intimidating when it was towering over the player character just moments
Super Effective Battle Tweak The battle system has been one of the most consistent mechanics
in the Pokémon series, but with Sun and Moon it seems to be changing for the
better. The easiest addition to spot is each move now has flavor text about
whether it'll be effective against the current opponent. This probably won't
affect the competitive scene too much since most of the players will have
memorized how the 18 different Pokémon types interact with each other, but it's
perfect for the casual player that forgets how rock is super effective against flying.
Another welcome change is the ability to check what status changes each Pokémon
has. This isn't limited to status ailments like before, instead expanding to
more nitty-gritty details like changes in attributes. Both of these changes have
the potential to allow players to focus more on the battle and less on the
details outside of team-building.
Evolution Of Music One of the other biggest mainstays of the Pokémon franchise
has been the music. Almost everyone knows how the battle theme sounds even as
each new entry in the series gets a remixed version. It perfectly jives to the
wail of the other musical scores, which in turn makes them feel classic already.
While music during the day comes with a predictable ukulele tones, the track at
night comes with a surprisingly calming score that reminds me of the National
Park theme from Gold and Silver. These different tunes are complemented by Pokémon
cries that sound off whenever the player is near tall grass. It's just one of
the new features that makes the world feel more alive.
New Features Going on a safari in the world of Pokémon has been a dream
for those who have grown up with the franchise. Pokémon Snap gave us a taste of
that in 1999, and Sun and Moon's Pokéfinder has been built up to be a spiritual
successor to that cult classic. Unfortunately this doesn't seem to be the case,
as the chances to take photos in the demo are heavily controlled and there's no
scoring system for any creatures that you snap. Hopefully the Pokéfinder
sequences aren't as restrictive in the full game. While the photography feature
is a bit underwhelming, riding Pokémon is as satisfying as you would hope. Being
a nuisance on a Tauros feels wonderfully ridiculous and makes me wonder what
function the bicycle will have in this new generation. In the past we've been
able to surf with Gyarados or fly with Charizard, but seeing the idea expanded
upon in this manner feels like a natural evolution.
A Bone To Pick With Team Skull Just as certain mechanics have changed over the Pokémon
series, the various antagonistic teams have as well. We've been introduced to
Sun and Moon's heinous Team Skull slowly, so while their motives are still a
mystery their personality has been pretty noticeable. The grunts are the most
ridiculous yet, dancing as they walk like caricatures from the '90s. Their
admin Plumeria seems to be an anime trope, going from non-threatening to
sadistic as soon as her minions ask for help. They're an interesting bunch that
is sure to obstruct the player throughout the story. On the other end of the
spectrum, Professor Kukui is especially helpful to the player within the demo; if
our time with him in this short snippet is any indication, he may be more
involved than previous Pokémon scholars. It's a little strange how he
researches moves by having Pokémon use them on him, so hopefully we learn more
about his unique studying methods next month.
After months of getting information piecemeal,
it's awesome that everyone can finally get their hands on this quick demo. If
it is any indication, Pokémon Sun and Moon are going to innovate this 20-year-old
series in some practical and useful ways. While we haven't had a chance to try
out some things, this demo seems to indicate the final game will be a solid
entry for the series.
Rockstar finally gave us our first glimpse of its return to the wild west today with the debut Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer.
The trailer focuses predominantly on the idyllic frontier moments, showcasing the beauty of the unspoiled American landscapes (and the powerful Rockstar technology used to recreate it). We do, however get look at a posse of seven armed cowboys riding on horseback to conclude the trailer, with the narrator saying, "when the time comes, you gotta run and don't look back."
Here it is!
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Red Dead Redemption 2 is scheduled for a Fall 2017 release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
We haven't heard much from Nintendo about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in a while, but that changed this morning. The company released three new trailers for the highly anticipated game, which showcase some of the game's varied environments as well as a few more looks at Link adeptly getting around – and above – danger.
In the first clip, you can see Link taking full advantage of his parachute item, both as a standalone way to descend from great heights safely and also a fun way to transition to the air during shield snowboarding. There are also some shots of topless Link going for a quick dip (scandalous!), scaling a mountain, and making his way to a mysterious temple.
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Link gets a little more hands-on in the next clip, which shows him hunting, gathering resources, and taking on some of the world's enemies. Look out: Link is a bit of a firebug...
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Finally, this clip shows off the game's day and night cycle, as well as its changing weather. Take a look to see stormclouds roll in and out and the scene transform from something peaceful and inviting to a place that's a bit more ominous.
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For more on Breath of the Wild, take a look at our earlier hands-on impressions. The game's set for a 2017 release on the Wii U and Nintendo NX.
If Suda 51 represents one of a scant few auteur game designers, The Silver Case, finally released on Western shores in this remastered form, is basically his student film, a statement of intent and trajectory rather than its own cohesive masterwork. As such, The Silver Case has a few of the elements that fans have come to recognize in a legitimate "Suda 51 Joint", but those elements are obscured by convoluted point-and-click gameplay, and a story that meanders, rants, and rambles getting where it needs to go.
The overarching narrative involves the return of an infamous serial killer named Kamui Uehara to a futuristic Japanese city known as the 24 Wards--and the efforts of a small investigative team to take him down. The game features two scenarios: In the first, Transmitter, you play as a mute detective who is somehow spared by the killer Kamui on the night he first reappears. In the other scenario, Placebo, you take on the role of a freelance reporter whose tale runs parallel to the first mode, as you sort through the mess after the cops are done.
The Silver Case's gameplay uses bog-standard adventure game mechanics. You can walk around your environment from one specified point to another by just turning, looking, and pushing up on the keyboard/gamepad. Once at a specific point, noted with a technicolor star indicator, you can use the Check option to get more details or activate the next scene. Some moments and puzzles require special tools in the Implements menu, but these moments are rare. For the most part, you're basically just following the dialogue around a room to get to the next scene. It's always when it's least expected or necessary that the game finally cottons to the fact that you might want to play it, and then it has the player knocking on doors, asking witnesses questions, wandering aimlessly around an environment to find the trigger for the next scene, or, in some cases, solving tricky little ciphers to open a door. Still, you can go long stretches without ever getting a button tap in. Some scenes literally have the protagonist walk two steps ahead, then trigger a long dialogue that may not let up for 10 minutes.
The game is framed like episodes of a television show, with each taking maybe an hour and a half to two hours to complete each--assuming you don't get tripped up by an obtuse puzzle or have to re-check every door and contact point looking for the one action prompt you missed; or assuming you don’t get confused by the controls altogether, where just getting to the point of moving forward through the first-person space is a three-step process instead of just pressing forward. The same goes for looking up, down, investigating an object, or talking to someone in the room, all which involve an overly convoluted, clunky menu.
Even if you gain some sort of finesse with the controls, the game's length remains a sticking point due to some terrible pacing and difficulty parsing new story details. Bad controls in a '90s point-and-click adventure can be tolerated if the stories are well paced and brilliantly executed, but each Silver Case episode is padded with filler. Every detective seems to have a philosophical ramble on every small decision they have to make in the field, and none of these characters are interesting or layered enough to make this stuff compelling. Most fall into the category of thinking that their job is dumb, and anybody putting in effort is a loser.
This, of course, is one of the hallmarks of Suda 51's work: apathetic heroes treating a completely insane, terrifying scenario as a nuisance keeping them from a good nap. The main issue with The Silver Case, however, is that--some bizarre minor details aside--the scenarios here are grounded in reality more than anything Suda made afterward. The usual fuzzy logic and unnatural human interactions that add to the “playable dreamscape” feeling of most of his games is an ill fit here. These are plausible scenarios, worked on by implausible characters.
When the game does get to the business of actually presenting the gory details of each case, it fares better. The overarching narrative of the Kamui case is the glowing red seed of abstract madness that has come to define Suda's work, and the horrors presented whenever the plot progresses are chilling and effective. Some of the other scenarios, including a hilariously dated (yet sadly, still prescient) case based around cyberbullying are just dead-weight slogs to get through. Others, however, such as a case that revolves around a man held for ransom while his businesses are completely dismantled by a mute terrorist, are breezy and captivating-- that one employs a beautiful black-and-white noir-ish art style.
The Placebo scenario as a whole gets some points for having an active, talkative, interesting protagonist to tag along with. Even the good cases are sometimes hard to get a solid grasp on, however, and the fact that so many different art styles--CG, anime, live action, still manga panels--are employed willy-nilly to tell the tales doesn't help. While some of the varieties in art direction are compelling, there are often too many to get a firm grasp on what the game aims for as a whole. For this remaster, Suda enlisted his longtime collaborator Akira Yamaoka to help remix the score, and while the music by itself is a fun, jazzy throwback most of the time, it, too, flies in the face of whatever of import is happening onscreen.
More than anything, The Silver Case is more interesting in the context of Suda 51's career than it is as a standalone game. It shows an ambitious floating of new ideas past the player, and much of how the story is presented would later find a more welcome home when surrounded by much weirder, wilder worlds. Stranded in the framework of a police procedural, however, the game fails its best concepts. The Silver Case's unusual take on human conversations, its indecision about whether it wants to be just a visual novel or an adventure game where the player is a full participant, and its lack of focus in tying up any sort of cohesive plot, all add up to a mess of a game.
Frictional Games created an online sensation with its Amnesia series, giving YouTubers plenty of reasons to howl into their microphones. The horror game emphasized evasion over combat, leaving players feeling drained and helpless. Console players were left in the dark, however, which Amnesia fans know is not necessarily a great place to hang out. That's changing this November, with the release of Amnesia: Collection on PlayStation 4.
Titanfall 2 is letting you talk smack to a mech, according to the latest trailer from developer Respawn Entertainment. The Studio has given the main robot an A.I. that slowly grows attached to the main character Jack Cooper.
You can check out the the story-focused trailer below.
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Besides a bigger story mode, Titanfall 2 is seeing the return of the popular Attrition Mode from the first game.
Since the shift to current-generation consoles, 2K's WWE series has steered away from the arcade-style formula of its extensive lineage. It's clear that developers Yuke's and Visual Concepts want to forge their own unique path to a simulation style of wrestling video game, iterating further and further in this direction with each passing installment. Much like last year, matches in WWE 2K17 have a distinctly measured pace, focused on capturing the look and feel of the current WWE product as closely as possible. It's an acquired taste, for sure, and if you haven't enjoyed this deliberate style previously--and perhaps yearn for the days of old--2K17 isn’t going to change your mind.
With that being said, however, I wouldn't hesitate to call WWE 2K17 a better video game than its immediate predecessors. For one, singles matches have seen some incremental refinements that improve the ebb and flow of each contest. While the reversal system, pin/kickout mechanics, stamina management, and submission minigame remain relatively unchanged, there's some welcome fine-tuning sprinkled throughout.
Counters, for instance, now feature a much more generous timing window and come in two flavors: minor and major--with the latter eating up two reversal slots but dishing out damage to your thwarted opponent. There's also an alternative submission minigame that ditches the swiveling red and blue blocks for much more intuitive button mashing. And taunting now provides mid-match buffs, which makes sense and gives these gestures the same measure of importance they carry on TV.
For the first time in a few years, you can take the fight backstage, too. With the gorilla position, a hazardous hallway, locker room, and Authority office ready to be demolished, this isn't as gargantuan a space as it was in the halcyon days of WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw, but there's no denying the joy to be had powerbombing your opponent onto a sturdy oak desk while Vince McMahon stands by, undeterred. Sure, backstage brawls are nothing groundbreaking, but it's an anarchic addition that's entirely welcome.
Similarly welcome are some of the improvements made to multi-person matches. Previously, these scuffles were a noxious mix of the chaotic and the frustrating. With everyone stuffed inside the ring at the same time, moves were constantly disrupted, and matches would extend far beyond their expiration date as one pin after another was irritatingly broken up. WWE 2K17 fixes this issue and injects a dose of realism into proceedings at the same time. Much like actual multi-person matches, the action is still mostly confined to two warring combatants. As damage is inflicted to various superstars, they'll roll out of the ring and lay on the outside to recover for a short time, making the in-ring action a lot less disorganised. Mechanically, this gives you time to regain lost stamina, but you can also cut this process short if you want to get up early and try to stop someone else from getting a three-count.
Switching between targets is, thankfully, a lot less cumbersome this year, too. A simple tap of R3 cycles through each wrestler involved in the bout, with the name of your target appearing above your wrestler's head for a short moment. Ladder matches have also seen some ease-of-use adjustments. Now, you'll never have to suffer the ignominy of setting up a ladder--only to climb it and find out it's not in the exact right position required to grab a dangling briefcase. Ladder placement is now restricted to specific positions dotted around the arena, which certainly makes things easier but does rob these matches of some spontaneity.
All of these changes, however incremental, move the needle in a positive direction. But some nagging issues still drag down the overall quality of the in-ring action. Now, I'm not expecting this series to suddenly adopt the fast-paced, arcade-style sensibilities of its forebears, but something slightly more sprightly wouldn’t be amiss, either. The pace of the action is still far too plodding, and the game is overly reliant on disconnected reversals dictating the outcome of each matchup. Maybe it's implausible, with such a bevy of moves available, to somehow coalesce the reversal system with the excellent motion-captured animation, but simply tapping a button when a prompt appears above your head feels far too rigid and detached from the action. These issues aren't game-breakers, and some will appreciate the deliberate pacing. But the series is still a long way off from being a king in the ring.
Online matches are effected by the same latency problems that have plagued the series for years. The general flow of each fight is fine, but the timing window for reversals is impacted, so kicking out of pins becomes nigh on impossible. I was constantly defeated minutes into fights purely because the timing of counters gets knocked so far out of whack that it's incredibly difficult to react with the necessary precision. In most instances, it felt like my button presses weren't even registering.
I wouldn't hesitate to call WWE 2K17 a better video game than its immediate predecessors.
The lack of 2K Showcase mode this year puts a damper on the proceedings as well. By offering a guided tour through some of the most memorable moments in WWE history, 2K Showcase was a nostalgia-fuelled romp of recreating famous matches and being treated to WWE’s wonderfully reverential video packages. It’s absence this year can’t help but strip WWE 2K17 of much of its personality, and that leaves MyCareer to pick up the slack.
Much like year’s previous, MyCareer is still an incredibly tedious slog, as you use a created fighter to wrestle your way through the roster, ever so slowly grinding your way closer and closer to a title fight. It’s bland and lacks character, neglecting all of the pomp, spectacle, and engaging storylines that encompass the actual WWE. This is an odd issue, considering how 2K’s own NBA series has embraced the idea of sporting narratives in MyCareer. Wrestling should be an obvious choice for similarly scripted stories, but WWE 2K17 is far more interested in presenting meaningless matches and monitoring T-shirt sales than in aping its real-life counterpart. Even the ability to become a Paul Heyman Guy boils down to fulfilling a few insipid objectives with minimal payoff.
One interesting aspect of MyCareer is the introduction of interactive promos. These exist elsewhere in Universe mode, but they make much more sense as a tool to shape your own created character. The aim of promos is to essentially play up your heel or face persona in order to achieve a positive or negative reaction, depending on how "smarky" the crowd is on any given night. You have four options to choose from for each stage of the promo, but these choices are incredibly vague and rarely reflect what your character is actually going to say. This proves problematic when you’re trying to lean a certain way, especially if you want your promo to be the least bit cohesive. The writing here is also terrible for the most part, which can’t help but break the immersion when Bray Wyatt says "You hate me because you ain’t me" or Brock Lesnar complains about a bad smell backstage. With no voice acting to speak of--just superstars moving their mouths to abject silence--this mechanic feels like a first draft that still needs plenty of work. I appreciate the effort, because it's about time a wrestling video game tried to capture one of the industry's most important aspects, but the implementation is lacking.
Other presentation issues persist throughout. The commentary is as atrocious as ever. It's stilted and regularly irrelevant--which some would argue is entirely true to life. Replays are universally awful, too, often showing pins rather than the moves that preceded them. And the whole game is considerably outdated. This isn't 2K's fault, mind you. At some point, the developers have to lock down their content and actually finish the game. They're just in the unenviable position of releasing a game a couple of months after a vast upheaval in the WWE, with the brand split resulting in a wave of NXT callups, new teams forming, shifting character alignments, new commentary teams, and new sets. Fortunately, if you're a stickler for accuracy, WWE 2K17's exhaustive creation suite means that many of these issues can easily be rectified, with the community already creating plenty of near-perfect new attires, wrestlers, and set designs.
No matter how you spruce it up, however, WWE 2K17 isn't the substantial leap forward I was hoping for. The in-ring action is still serviceable, and refinements to various aspects of its combat make for a more enjoyable game than in previous years. But there are still a myriad of niggling issues holding it back, and the absence of 2K Showcase only compounds these problems. If you’ve had previous reservations about this series, WWE 2K17 is unlikely to change your mind--and, at this point, it feels like 2K would be better served taking a page out of Seth Rollins' book for next year’s installment. Time to redesign, rebuild, and reclaim.
Last week Capcom teased some of the features coming to Resident Evil 7, including item boxes and guns. Today the company teased two more features that should appease fans' desire to see more classic Resident Evil elements.
Teaser #3 teases the return of the save points, this time making the jump from typewriters to tape recorders.
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The fourth teaser shows off the ability to use a knife to open boxes, revealing that inventory management will be another returning element.
In the world of Prey, mankind has tried to cover up the existence of alien lifeforms since the '60s. For decades, these aliens have been studied in secret, and now the game's protagonist Morgan Yu is going to find out first-hand exactly what's going on.
The new trailer for the title, from within private corporation TranStar, exposes some of the research on the alien lifeforms being conducted at the orbital Talos I facility.