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?

NBA 2K21’s The W Shows The Power Of Women In Sports

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NBA 2K21’s The W Shows The Power Of Women In Sports

Whether it’s the cutting-edge graphics, continually evolving gameplay, or always-contentious microtransactions, the NBA 2K series fosters plenty of passionate (and heated) discussions. That’s to be expected when you’re at the top of the sports genre, helping set standards and drive innovation. That’s why it’s important for fans and critics to voice concerns over missteps, but it’s also just as important to celebrate the victories (which I do in my full NBA 2K21 review here). One thing I’m sad more people aren’t talking about is a new feature for the new-gen versions called “The W,” which allows you to can create your own WNBA MyPlayer for the first time and build your own path to stardom by playing for one of the league’s 12 teams. Playing WNBA games isn’t new for the series, but centering an entire experience around it is the biggest push and commitment we’ve seen from a mainstream team sports game to represent female athletes and their experience. And that’s a pretty big deal.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: Our Sequel Wishlist

about X hours ago from
Final Fantasy VII Remake: Our Sequel Wishlist

The success of Final Fantasy VII Remake hinged on one central question: Would Square Enix be able to respect the classic 1997 original while also creating a modern RPG that was good on its own merits? When the game released earlier this year, fans learned that the answer to that question was a resounding “yes.” The years of anticipation paid off, and the end result was a memorable journey that artfully mixed old and new. But with that matter settled, a new question has arisen: Can Square Enix do it again?

While the first game was undoubtedly a complete experience, much of the original story remains to be told. The second installment of the Final Fantasy VII remake is already in production, and the development team is undoubtedly weighing how to approach this next chapter. As much as I personally enjoyed this year’s release, the formula still has room for change and improvement. With that in mind, here’s my wishlist for what I’d like to see in the sequel to Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Crash Bandicoot, Streets of Rage, And How Familiarity Can Top Innovation

about X hours ago from
Crash Bandicoot, Streets of Rage, And How Familiarity Can Top Innovation

2020 has seen its fair share of innovative experiences. The Last of Us Part II raised new bars in interactive storytelling. Half-Life: Alyx set a standard for story-driven VR campaigns. Watch Dogs: Legion ditched NPCs for a city filled with recruitable allies. Even Final Fantasy VII Remake reinvented itself into an amazing new experience that, from a design standpoint, barely resembles its original RPG form. That’s all well and good, but I’d like to redirect some of that spotlight to a pair of games that didn’t need a dump truck of fancy bells and whistles to be barrels of fun: Streets of Rage 4 and Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.

As a childhood fan of both series, I had a blast playing through these games. Their nostalgic design evoked the joy of simpler days, providing a warm blanket of comfort to shield me from whatever 2020’s Crisis of the Day was. Sure, they each sport a few new tweaks under the hood, but the additions feel like garnishes meant to complement their largely familiar designs; toppings of digital crème fraiche, if you will.  

Three Upgraded Controller Options For Xbox Series X

about X hours ago from
Three Upgraded Controller Options For Xbox Series X

When I reviewed the Xbox Series X and S earlier this month, I talked about the controller's improvements over its Xbox One counterpart. However, if you played Xbox One using the base gamepad, chances are, it feels pretty familiar, particularly when compared to the myriad innovations present in the PS5 DualSense controller.

Thankfully, you have options if you're looking for a different experience. While all these options carry a premium price tag, they do several things the standard Xbox Series X/S controller does not. 

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Kentucky Route Zero Feels Like Home – For Better And Worse

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Kentucky Route Zero Feels Like Home – For Better And Worse

Kentucky Route Zero is, unsurprisingly, a game about Kentucky. But it's not a game that romanticizes the state or makes it something it's not. If anything, it places Kentucky under a microscope, revealing its many socio-economic flaws. Debt, addiction, communities destroyed by corporate expansion, a healthcare system fundamentally designed to destroy the poor – all of this and more, displayed on a tiny Nintendo Switch screen; my home state, spread out for me to see and agonize over.

In Kentucky, everyone lives hard – the coal miners, the drug dealers, the people that starve and break laws just to survive. I have friends who do drugs first thing in the morning, friends who aren't ready to face their own demons, friends who will always be poor – victims of a system they had no choice but to live under. I also have friends from the program who I lost contact with, and sometimes I wonder if they're still sober or still alive. Some aren't. Kentucky Route Zero makes me think of all these people. It makes me think of myself, too.

How Spider-Man: Miles Morales Reminds Me That Being The New Guy Is Okay

about X hours ago from
How Spider-Man: Miles Morales Reminds Me That Being The New Guy Is Okay

Miles Morales has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s adjusting to becoming the man of the house after the death of his father. He’s moved from his native Brooklyn to Harlem. Oh, and he’s also a fledgling superhero – a new Spider-Man training to live up to his mentor, Peter Parker. 

When Miles isn’t doubting himself, he’s overcompensating to make up for his inexperience. He’s hard on himself for making understandable rookie mistakes. As I watched Miles mature throughout Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, it was impossible not to feel a kinship beyond the fact that he looked the same as me. Like me, he’s a new guy trying to live up to expectations of his peers. Expectations partially inflated by his own insecurities and fear of failure.  

Five Fun Games You Can Play In 15-Minute Chunks

about X hours ago from
Five Fun Games You Can Play In 15-Minute Chunks

My average gaming sessions are probably between two and four hours. The lower number for competitive play and the higher for everything else. In between these sizable time commitments, I like to throw in what I call palate cleansers; games that are every bit as rewarding, yet don't demand as much time. Over the course of 2020, these "diversions" range from roguelikes to simulations, some possibly landing in my Top 10 list for Best Games of the Year.

Each one of these titles allows you to make meaningful progress in just 10 to 20 minutes. For years, I would bring out my phone whenever I have a short window of free time on my hands, but I now find myself diving into various games, depending where I am at. If I'm on the go or am lying in bed, I usually have my Switch handy. If I'm home, I'll boot up my Xbox or PlayStation. Yes, I am still hopelessly addicted to my phone (and love Clash Royale and Pokemon Go for short game sessions), but have thoroughly enjoyed using it less to focus on other games that released this year. Here's what I'm currently playing in short bursts:

The Divine Comedy Of Immortals Fenyx Rising

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The Divine Comedy Of Immortals Fenyx Rising

A powerful titan of legend has launched a massive assault on the Greek gods of mythology, severing them from their essence, smashing open cracks to the underworld, and infesting Earth with corrupted beings from the afterlife. A setup like this isn't uncommon in the world of video games, but when it comes to comedy, a dark premise such as this isn't the first thing you might think of. However, that's exactly the direction Ubisoft Quebec went with Immortals Fenyx Rising.