Astro's Playroom Is A True Next-Gen Experience

about X hours ago from
Astro's Playroom Is A True Next-Gen Experience

On the PlayStation 5, you can swing around a lovingly recreated New York City as Spider-Man, zipping around at 60 frames-per-second or in 4K resolution. You can listen to the explosions in Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War surround you in 3D audio. You can marvel at the way giant AAA games load in a matter of two or three seconds, wondering how you ever dealt with load times in the past, disgusted by the mere thought. 

Also, you can put this cute little robot named Astro in a spaceship, and when you do that, you have to zip him in there. Here's the best part, though: When you zip him up, the DualSense controller that comes with the PS5 rumbles, and it feels like a real zipper! That's next-gen gaming, baby. That's the reason I spent $500 on this big ugly box in the middle of a pandemic and financial crisis. 

But seriously: Of all the games I've played on the PlayStation 5, Astro's Playroom (review) is the only one that truly feels like a next-gen experience. This is partly because it's the only game I've played so far that’s not also on the PlayStation 4 (I haven't had time for Demon's Souls, sorry). Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Call of Duty look pretty, and they load very fast, but they don't make extensive use of the PS5's new features. But in Astro ... that zipper, man. 

5 Hidden Gem Games You Missed In 2020

about X hours ago from
5 Hidden Gem Games You Missed In 2020

In a year defined by ample hardships, video games have been a routine escape for many of us. Luckily, we saw the release of several incredible games, including Hades, The Last of Us Part II, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and much more. However, with so many sizable game releases, some of the year’s most interesting experiences likely flew under your radar.

Without further ado, here are 5 hidden gem games you missed in 2020. 

Risk of Rain 2 is a roguelike third-person shooter wherein teams of up to 4 travel from dimension to dimension to explore space and time. Players slowly build up their stats and abilities each run by obliterating waves of alien enemies and subsequently collecting randomized loot.

5 Hidden Gem Games You Missed In 2020

about X hours ago from
5 Hidden Gem Games You Missed In 2020

In a year defined by ample hardships, video games have been a routine escape for many of us. Luckily, we saw the release of several incredible games, including Hades, The Last of Us Part II, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and much more. However, with so many sizable game releases, some of the year’s most interesting experiences likely flew under your radar.

Without further ado, here are 5 hidden gem games you missed in 2020. 

Risk of Rain 2 is a roguelike third-person shooter wherein teams of up to 4 travel from dimension to dimension to explore space and time. Players slowly build up their stats and abilities each run by obliterating waves of alien enemies and subsequently collecting randomized loot.

Persona 5 Royal Makes The Long Replay Worth It

about X hours ago from
Persona 5 Royal Makes The Long Replay Worth It

In a year filled to the brim with tragedy, never-ending stress, and political unrest, Persona 5 Royal defined my summer staycation in the best possible way. Last week, Royal was nominated in the Best Role-Playing category at The Game Awards, and rightfully so – though I wish it had been considered for other commendations as well. This isn’t a mere expansion of the original 2017 game. Among a bevy of substantial updates, Royal makes noticeable tweaks to Persona 5’s gameplay loop, introduces new cast members to the central narrative, and offers more areas to explore in Tokyo and the cognitive world. All these features combine to create a contemporary JRPG unlike any other. The 100-plus hours it takes to reach Royal’s closing credits may seem like a dauting commitment – especially for people who played the original Persona 5 – but this expanded vision for the game is less about the final destination and more about the journey itself. With that in mind, here are some reasons for why Persona 5 Royal never overstays its welcome.

Top Of The Table – Dune: Imperium

about X hours ago from
Top Of The Table – Dune: Imperium

Science fiction enthusiasts hardly need an introduction to Dune. The original book, along with the long-running novel series that ensued, are foundational pieces of the genre canon. The series also has close ties with the early days of the strategy tabletop hobby, as the original 1979 board game was an early success story for theme-driven licensed board games. That game finally saw a re-release last year, and it’s a wonderful and challenging trip back in time, albeit with new art and some small tweaks. But as anyone who knows the franchise could tell you, there’s plenty of room in the Dune universe for additional perspectives. The brand-new Dune: Imperium, from Dire Wolf Digital, is a remarkably engaging game in its own right, and has nothing to do with that older release. Drawing on elements from across the fiction, and borrowing visual elements from the forthcoming Dune film, it’s a standout new release, offering a tense competition for influence and power to dominate the all-important spice. 

In Dune: Imperium, one to four players each take control of a leader of one of the major houses. Whether you control Paul Atreides or Baron Harkonnen, your goals are the same; gather ten victory points and ultimately gain control of the spice. After all, whoever controls the spice, controls the universe. 

Half-Life: Alyx Is Great For Horror Fans

about X hours ago from
Half-Life: Alyx Is Great For Horror Fans

Half-Life: Alyx is one of the best games of the year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t get around to playing it. In order to jump into Valve’s immersive new shooter, you also need to have access to a VR rig, which can set you back a significant amount of money – especially if you don't have a high-end PC. Personally, I think Half-Life: Alyx is fantastic; it’s the kind of game that makes me glad I invested in VR. But, I’m not here to convince you to spend money a fancy new headset; plenty of people have already made the case for Half-Life: Alyx as a defining VR game. I just want to tell you why it is worth playing if you’re a horror fan.

To start, I want to reiterate that Half-Life: Alyx is a stellar experience on many levels. The series is known for its incredibly engrossing action, pitch-perfect environmental storytelling, and clever puzzles. Half-Life: Alyx features all those elements and does them all remarkably well. The storytelling and action, in particular, have never been more engaging. However, virtual reality amplifies Half-Life’s spookier elements more than anything else.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon Is The Series’ Perfect Entry Point

about X hours ago from
Yakuza: Like A Dragon Is The Series’ Perfect Entry Point

The Yakuza series intimidates me. It includes seven huge mainline games, and even though I’ve made two earnest attempts to start the saga, I’ve never even finished Yakuza 0. That says more about me than the games, but I’m sure I’m not alone; getting through Yakuza’s whole sprawling story is a daunting proposition, since it involves playing through multiple giant RPGs. However, the recent release of Yakuza: Like a Dragon gives players the perfect opportunity to start with a clean slate.

The core Yakuza games follow hero Kazuma Kiryu and decades of his exploits in the city of Kamurocho. If you want to jump into the deep end, we have this guide to help you with that – but Like a Dragon offers something different. It features a brand-new story with a different protagonist (Ichiban Kasuga), and mainly takes place in a new city (Yokohama), shedding years of baggage that may have been a barrier for new players. As someone with a little experience playing Yakuza, I am finding Like a Dragon to be an invigorating breath of fresh air that taps into the series’ strengths without getting too weighed down by its history. You can opt to do some research to learn how this game fits into the larger context of the franchise, but it isn't necessary. You can have fun by jumping in blind.

Missile Reversal Is A Game-Changing Skill In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

about X hours ago from
Missile Reversal Is A Game-Changing Skill In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla mixes up its RPG elements a bit in how it plays with the concept of a skill tree. Rather than give up the goods from the start, you reveal chunks of it from the fog as you go. I guess it technically adds a bit of mystery to character progression, until you realize you can just poke around online and see maps of the whole darned thing. Still, even if you have the whole tree laid out in front of you, it might be tricky to figure out what to prioritize. I’ll make it easier: get the Missile Reversal skill as soon as you possibly can. That single ability has transformed the way I play the game – in a good way.

I’ve always enjoyed parrying and countering attacks as long as that’s been part of the Assassin’s Creed series. There’s something I find satisfying about waiting for an enemy to attack, only for your character to knock it aside and punish that enemy for having the nerve to take a swing. Once you get the timing down, it’s the best. And it’s the same in Valhalla. Still, I was getting annoyed during some of the larger raid-type missions, in how archers and other ranged attackers would (wisely) hang back and take pot shots at me while I was busy killing their friends. The nerve! Sure, I could block those incoming projectiles, but it kind of broke my combat flow. The cure for that problem? Why, it’s Missile Reversal, of course.

Fuser Is The Escape I’ve Needed In 2020

about X hours ago from
Fuser Is The Escape I’ve Needed In 2020

For decades now, Harmonix has brought a very particular set of skills to the gaming audience – finding ways to share the joy of music-making with players, even if those players have never picked up the instrument(s) in question. Time and again, the studio manages to find the thrill and wonder inherent to a particular corner of the musical world, and translate that into something approachable and fun. With Fuser, the developers behind Amplitude, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central have zeroed in on the festival dance music scene. I’ve never spun records as a DJ. I’ve never even attended a big outdoor music festival. And yet Fuser is everything I want as an escape from the doldrum and frustration of 2020, offering one of the most creative and technically remarkable opportunities for musical expression I’ve encountered in a game.

As Brian Shea writes about in his enthusiastic review for Fuser, this new music game offers a number of different ways to interact with the music, from a tutorial-focused campaign that shows you the ropes, to freestyle mix creation, to social tools for sharing and enjoying music with others. Any way you choose to approach it, the takeaway is the same – Fuser is a music-mixing and creation tool masquerading as a video game. And its ability to sweep me away into the fun of toe-tapping tunes remixed in new ways is especially invigorating.

Video Game Remakes Are Better Than Film Remakes

about X hours ago from
Video Game Remakes Are Better Than Film Remakes

In 2019, Disney debuted four remakes of beloved cartoon classics: Aladdin, Dumbo, The Lion King, and Lady and The Tramp. Reviews for all four films were mixed, but largely ranged from “Meh, it’s okay” to “Why was this necessary?” That same year, Capcom remade one of the most beloved entries in its long-running survival horror series and got the opposite response. Resident Evil 2 reviews were effusive, and fans declared it one of the standout titles of the year. It's a fascinating tale of two cities, but the remakes of 2019 are just a microcosm of a larger trend: Video game remakes are better than film remakes.

The movie industry loves to remake old properties. The video game industry (increasingly) does too. But there is a big difference between how the two entertainment fields manage their properties, because every time the movie industry announces a remake we collectively groan. When a video game developer announces a remake of a beloved classic, we’re ready to party.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes Hollywood gets it right, but for every Invisible Man (2020), I feel like we get several films like Total Recall (2012), Point Break (2015), Ben-Hur (2016), and The Mummy (2017) which completely fall flat and fail to capture the magic that made their original films special. Why does this happen? What makes video game remakes so exciting and film remakes so excruciating?