Opinion: I'm Disappointed In Myself For Forgiving Star Wars Battlefront's Shortcomings

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In the lead-up to Star Wars Battlefront, I was transparent that I didn't think the game was shaping up well. My experience at Gamescom with the then newly announced Fighter Squadrons mode was dripping with disappointment. Everything pointed to a shallow experience that would sell in huge numbers because of gorgeous visuals and sound and the potent Star Wars license.

I stand by my statements. Star Wars Battlefront is shallow. It takes less than an hour of play to see the meager offering of four large maps, which EA has cleverly reframed as "locations." You'll visit Hoth, Endor, Tatooine, and Sullust in short order before restarting the war all over.

The smaller modes pare off some of Battlefront's most exciting offerings: heroes and/or vehicles. They don't hold attention like the big battle modes, Walker Assault and Supremacy.

Opinion – Just Tell Me What To Do

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After playing through Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in its entirety and more or less jumping right into Fallout 4, I have found that – for the moment – I am burned out on open-world games.

It really set in as I made my way into Fallout 4. I did the first few opening missions, found a weapon or two I liked, and decided to place an arbitrary marker on the map and just start walking toward it. I reached my destination, exploring some random buildings along the way, and as I stood in the open area I thought to myself, “What am I even doing here?” I realized I craved some direction, a semblance of structure. I wanted to be told what to do, and maybe watch a cutscene.

I decided to put down Fallout 4 and pick up Rise of the Tomb Raider, and it’s exactly what I wanted and needed after so much aimless exploring. Rise of the Tomb Raider is not an open world game. It has large, connected areas worth exploring. They’re dense and their rewards are delivered much faster than Fallout's action-RPG character build-up. There is no trickle of experience and leveling, and the prizes for reaching certain milestones have a larger effect on the game. Exploring a tomb will net you a specific new skill, and getting a new weapon instantly changes how you approach a battle. It’s not an occasion to pause, enter a menu, and compare statistics.

Top 25 Xbox 360 Games

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Top 25 Xbox 360 Games

Today is the Xbox 360's 10th birthday, which is a great excuse to revisit our list of the console's best 25 games. We originally published this list in earlier this year in April.

Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 in 2005, kicking off the last generation of gaming. This was the most successful period for the company to date; with its excellent Xbox Live service and deep support from third-party developers, the Xbox 360 in many ways became the defining console of the last generation. This success was driven by great games – the Xbox 360 was the destination for dozens of amazing titles, and the difficulty we had compiling this list of 25 speaks to the depth of its catalog.

For the sake of making a list with more variety, we decided that we would include only one game per franchise on this list – that’s why you see only one game from fantastic series like Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, and Grand Theft Auto on the list. Even after agreeing on this approach, narrowing down the list proved tough; many great games didn’t crack this list, and entire genres like fighting and sports failed to make the cut.

Super Replay – Beyond Good & Evil: Episode 1

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Super Replay – Beyond Good & Evil: Episode 1

One of the most criminally overlooked games from yesteryear, Beyond Good & Evil is a story-driven adventure that follows a photojournalist named Jade and her mechanic friend Pey'j. We won't spoil where this journey goes, but fans of Zelda, Pokémon Snap, and fun science fiction stories should either watch our playthrough or pick up the game and play it. This is an exceptional game from developer Ubisoft Montpellier and legendary creator Michel Ancel.

Beyond Good & Evil was originally released for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and PC on November 11, 2003, but to make it look better on your massive displays, we're playing the HD re-release from 2011, which we downloaded through Xbox One's snazzy, new backwards compatibility.

Unlike other Super Replays, we're airing these episodes as soon as we finish them, and we won't record more until you've watched and commented on the newest chapter. We want you the viewer to be a part of this journey as well. We plan to read as many comments as we can during the next episode. If you have any questions for us about Beyond Good & Evil, Replay, or video games in general, list them in the comments section below, or on YouTube. If all goes as planned, we'll finish this Super Replay in December, and will roll into our annual 12.31 Super Replay next. Thanks again for the support!

The Big 2015 Parents' Guide To Skylanders: SuperChargers, Disney Infinity, And Lego Dimensions

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The Big 2015 Parents' Guide To Skylanders: SuperChargers, Disney Infinity, And Lego Dimensions

Over the past five years, the unlikely success of Activision’s Skylanders franchise has blossomed into a full-blow genre. This year, there are three major entrants in toys-to-life space (not counting Nintendo’s own spin on things with Amiibo).

As a service to parents, we’re breaking down everything that’s coming for the three different games. Below, you’ll find complete checklists for the toys and accessories we know are coming to Skylanders: SuperChargers, Disney Infinity 3.0, and Lego Dimensions

We’ve also detailed some things to know about each of the games as you're considering what you might already own (and what your kids say they need). 

Replay – Mercenaries: Playground Of Destruction

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Pandemic Studios is no longer around, but this development studio's legacy is still felt today. After crafting the first Star Wars Battlefront title, which finally brought Star Wars gamers the full-scale battles they saw on the silver screen, Pandemic released another enormously successful title called Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. This open-world game places the player in North Korea in 2007, with the specific goal of preventing nuclear war.

This feat requires the player to pick off the key military leaders featured in a deck of 52 cards. Much like Avalanche Studios' current hit series, Just Cause, Mercenaries pushed the player to accomplish this goal with mass amounts of destruction. Mercenaries was one of the first titles that truly captured the "sandbox" experience that embraced creative choice in how missions were tackled. In 2005, Pandemic was one of the top developers in the industry, releasing Mercenaries, Star Wars Battlefront II, and a fun little game called Destroy All Humans.

After a lengthy look at Mercenaries, we foolishly dive headfirst into one of the worst fighting games of yesteryear, yet find ourselves moderately charmed by its hideous character designs. We hope you enjoy this week's show, and we'll see you again in a quick seven days!

Yoshi’s Woolly World's Burning Questions

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Yoshi’s Woolly World's Burning Questions

Yoshi’s Woolly World is a pleasant experience, but more than a little weird when you really think about it. Among other oddities, it stars a yarn Yoshi gobbling up yarn enemies, then pooping them out as yarn balls to toss at more yarn enemies. After conducting our Afterwords interview with designer Emi Watanabe and producer Takashi Tezuka, we took the opportunity to ask a few more hard-hitting questions pertaining to Yoshi and his yarn-spun universe. 

[Editor's Note: This interview was conducted by Brian Shea and myself.]

What do the fire melon and the ice melon taste like?

The Maps We'd Like To See In Star Wars Battlefront's DLC

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Although DICE can be commended for creating the most authentic Star Wars video game experience to date, Star Wars Battlefront comes up short in content. As an enormous fan of George Lucas' original trilogy of Star Wars films, I can't help but feel excitement whenever I step on the snowy dunes of Hoth or find myself exchanging laser fire with Stormtroopers on the forest moon of Endor. Star Wars Battlefront makes it feel like you've stepped directly into these iconic battles. But that feeling of nostalgia isn't enough to carry the game. After just a few hours of playing, I found myself thinking "Hoth again?" The game simply needs more locations and maps.

The brain trust at Game Informer sat down to discuss which maps they'd like to see. DICE has revealed that an additional four locations are on the way in the form of DLC, starting with the planet Jakku, which will be featured in the forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. That leaves three additional locations. Seeing that DICE focused primarily on battles and locations featured in the original trilogy, we narrowed our sights to this era for our picks. Below is a listing of the destinations we hope to see when Star Wars Battlefront's upcoming DLC drops.

Quantum Break's Sam Lake On The Future Of Interactive Storytelling

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Game Informer's cover story for December is Remedy Entertainment's Quantum Break. We've been rolling out features that highlight different aspects of the game, but we wanted to focus in on the game's creative director Sam Lake and speak about his perception of the state of interactive storytelling. Known for his work on Max Payne and Alan Wake, Sam Lake has been a strong proponent of the storytelling potential of the medium and is tackling a new challenge with Quantum Break's embedded television show.

We speak with Lake about weighing the value of interactivity, the power of using storytelling cliches, and what he sees as the future of interactive storytelling.

Watch the video interview below to learn more from Remedy Entertainment's Sam Lake about the challenges of modern storytelling.