GamesRadar - Updates, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:00 -0800Come at me bro! 2015&#39;s biggest gaming rivalries <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's that time of year again: the last big games of the season have hit shelves, <a href="" target="blank">Game of the Year</a> has been decided, and you've hopefully finished all your holiday shopping (though we've <a href="" target="blank">got a few ideas if you haven't</a>). Now, as visions of sugar-plum goombas dance in my head, I like to relax and think about all the good things that have happened over the last year… and how <i>freaking sick</i> <a href="" target="blank">next year's gonna be.</a> Holy shit, <i>look at that list!</i> <p>With so many heavy-hitters arriving next year, from Geralt to Batman to that dude with the awesome ax-saw from Bloodborne, it looks like there's going to be stiff competition for players' attention. Each release has something that sets it apart, but I suspect there will be games with just the right amount of similarities to spark a rivalry. And you know, just for fun, I'm gonna make my guesses <i>right now</i>. Place your bets, place your bets!</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>If this isn't the first thing that popped into your head when you read this article's headline, you don't know Lara Croft and Nathan Drake. Though they've never met, don't exist in the same universe, and were birthed from the minds of completely different developers, there's no denying that the rivalry between these two ruggedly attractive adventurers runs deep, and has shaped them both. <p>It wasn't always that way. Lara had been raiding ancient and holy structures for a good ten years before that whippersnapper Drake made the scene. But he brought with him a whole host of new ideas about scaling walls and punching stuff, which Croft clearly took to heart. They now compete for the title of Most Epic Action-Adventure Badass on a regular basis, and with <a href="" target="blank">Rise of the Romb Raider</a> and <a href="" target="blank">Uncharted 4</a> both dropping in 2015, this will be the first time they've both had an original release in the same year. And with both acting as console-exclusive daredevils on release? Things are definitely going to get adventurous.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>When looking up 2015's most anticipated titles in a sleep-deprived fugue state, I typed Evolve: Wild Hunt into the search and didn't realize my error for several seconds. It just seems so right, doesn't it? That's because Geralt of Rivia from <a href="" target="blank">The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt</a> and the hunters from <a href="" target="blank">Evolve</a> have the same important job: kill the shit out of some monsters. <p>Granted, the <i>where, how</i>, and <i>why</i> of the monster-killing is different for both. Geralt will use his Witcher abilities to hunt beasts in a massive open world setting, while the Evolve hunters will fight behemoths (indeed, one's even <i>named</i> Behemoth) to clear a far-off planet for human civilization in asymmetrical multiplayer combat. Still, the basic premise remains the same - kill that big thing before it kills you, for adventure and profit. But between a medieval magic user and grizzled futuristic warriors with a death wish, who is the ultimate predator? Only time will tell… specifically the 365 day period beginning on January 1st. Yeah, that time.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>We've got more hunters here, but these folks specialize in saving mankind… or what remains of it. DUN DUN DUN! Set in different post-crisis cities, both <a href="" target="blank">The Order 1886</a> and <a href="" target="blank">Bloodborne</a> focus on the struggle to combat a hellish blight that turns humans into demonic creatures. It's a rough job, but… <p>Unlike the badass hunters from the previous slide, the hero of Bloodborne (currently codenamed 'That Guy') and the knights of The Order are more hemmed in when it comes to combat. Navigating the cramped streets of the gothic Y'harnam or alternate-universe London is no easy task, especially when they're full of human mobs and post-human Frankensteins that want to rip the heroes to pieces. Bloodborne dude and The Order's knights are going to need every ounce of wit and steel they can gather to survive, but the real question is, who's going to survive <i>better</i>?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>In <a href="" target="blank">Rainbow Six Siege</a>, you play as a SWAT team member tasked with saving a hostage from a team of vicious criminals. That's a pretty similar premise to <a href="" target="blank">Battlefield Hardline</a>, where you try to keep the streets of L.A. safe from sophisticated career criminals who try to rob banks, start high speed chases and, yes, take hostages. The ultimate goal is to stop these evildoers from doing all that evil, which just goes to show that crime doesn't pa - oh wait. You can also play as the criminals in both games and ensure that their dastardly plots succeed. Well! Nevermind then. <p>As part of both Siege and Hardline, you'll flip between cop and criminal teams regularly, alternatively enforcing or thwarting the law. Both are intriguing in concept and leave little room for questioning the morality of hostage-taking, since <i>you'll</i> be the one doing the nabbing in about five minutes. But which one will have the upper, morally-gray hand? Keep your sights set on next year.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You normally wouldn't try to equate an eccentric billionaire with a thing for cosplay and a grizzled veteran who likes taking selfies. But in the words of an insane clown, maybe they're not so different after all. While Big Boss has quite a few years on Batman in the video game protagonist department, Batman was doing the gruff pseudo-hero act before Snake was a twinkle in Hideo Kojima's eye. That gives each equal claim to the cranky-and-jaded-protag title going into 2015, when <a href="" target="blank">Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain</a> and <a href="" target="blank">Batman: Arkham Knight</a> kick it into gear. <p>Even taking into account their equally tragic pasts, there's no clear-cut winner. Both of these guys have grown thick calluses on their souls from exposure to the horrors of man, yet keep hoping that <i>others</i> will be able to ensure peace. Plus, there's the horrors of their personal lives: Batman may be able to play the 'dead parents' card (and boy does he ever), but Big Boss gets to mourn the fact that he was made to kill his mentor/mother figure as a pawn in a giant game of Illuminati chess. 2015 will tell who's the grumpiest, most ruined and noble justice-seeker.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Come 2015, it'll once again be time for a ragtag team of heroes to combat a vast network of foes with the most ridiculous array of weapons and powers you've ever seen. Blizzard is ready and raring to deliver just that with its team-based shooter <a href="" target="blank">Overwatch</a>, and wouldn't you know it, Gearbox is <i>also</i> prepared to fill your clip with <i>its</i> team-based shooter <a href="" target="blank">Battleborn</a>. <p>Crashing the house party that Team Fortress 2 started, both Battleborn and Overwatch are looking to build off those foundations and add their own flair to the décor. Both have grand-scale narratives as their backdrops, with the Overwatch folks battling to bring peace to a vaguely chaotic world and Battleborn's crew trying to protect the last living star in the universe. Yeesh. This involves a lot of killing each other (though Battleborn boasts a MOBA-like horde mode as well), and with an arsenal full of bizarre offerings from lightsabers to steampunk shotguns and the mighty fists of a silverback gorilla, both games look to be completely insane. But which one is MORE INSANE???! WE'LL PAINT THE WALLS WITH THE BLOOD OF MUSHROOMS!!!</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Yes, both of these games and their beloved protagonists are the brain fruit of the same company. But you've seen <a href="" target="blank">Super Smash Bros</a> - these guys fight <i>all the time</i>. And in 2015 Team Link and Team Fox have even more to brawl over, because both <a href="" target="blank">Legend of Zelda Wii U</a> and <a href="" target="blank">Star Fox Wii U</a> will be hitting store shelves and battling for the heart of every gamer's inner child. Yes, even the kids who played Sonic. <p>Each of these games has something special tucked in its corner to win player favor. The Legend of Zelda has had a relatively consistent release schedule over the course its illustrious history, particularly since the late 90s, giving the Hero of Time plenty of… well, time to gain more fans. Fox hasn't been so lucky, since his last original title came out in 2006, but that just means fans are even more excited to see him back in action and barrel-rolling to his heart's content. It'll be a tough race for sure, but only one can be the <i>TRUE VICTOR!</i> I mean, unless people buy both. That could also work.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The new year is fast approaching, and these conflicts will come to a head before you know it. But there's still plenty of time for <i>more</i> rivalries to blossom. What other matchups do you think we'll see next year? Which of these adversarial relationships gets your blood pumping the most? Tell me in the comments below - betting hasn't ended yet! <p><b><i>Want to hear more about 2015? Of course you do, because may just be <a href="" target="blank">the best year in gaming history yet</a>. Or if you're all about the rivalries, check out the <a href="" target="blank">Top 7 Classic gamer rivalries</a> and <a href="" target="blank">the 8 best brotherly rivalries gaming has to offer</a>.</b></i></caption> </div> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:00 -0800;s new Wraith monster is a 30-foot tall stealth assassin <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Big, bad monsters are the new zombies. At least, the creators of the zombie slaying, co-op blockbuster Left 4 Dead think so. Turtle Rock Studios' next shooter is Evolve, and instead of 4vhundreds, it pits the teamwork of four, fully-loaded hunter players against one, player-controlled, ever-growing monster. <p>We've had n a few peeks at Evolve since its reveal, but now we've seen the much more of the final product. The last four hunters have been announced, and they all bring fresh new personalities, weapons, and abilities to the battle against the gargantuan, morphing monstrosities infesting the planet Shear. And even more exciting than that, we've played as the third monster, the Wraith. She's radically different to any beast we've seen before, and a hell of a lot of fun to get your head around. Want all the details? Of course you do. So click on and get them. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Goliath is kind of a King Kong / Godzilla hybrid, and an absolute bastard to bring down. He / she (it?) starts with 2 powers, and gains more (up to a total of 4) every time he evolves. These powers are breathing fire, throwing massive boulders, a huge ground-pound, and a charge attack.</p> <p>He’s a clunky beast to use, but can climb obstacles and outrun the hunters for short distances. Goliath can sniff out enemies by clicking a thumbstick, and can stealth move to avoid leaving footprints (used to track him). In addition to the special attacks listed above, Goliath can smash enemies with his fists, which is clumsy but hugely satisfying if you land a decent blow. He starts off as a formidable beast, but that’s all before he evolves…</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It makes sense that Evolve, a game a game that pits a team of four players against a massive player-controlled monster, has a fire-spewing beast that looks a <i>tad</i> like Godzilla. But, for a while, that's the only monster we knew about. But atE3 2014, we finally got a glimpse of the Kraken. This humongous tentacle-beard monster (don't say Cthulhu!) shoots electric beams from its tendrils like it's no big deal. <p>The hulking creature can blast teams of hunters into chunks with electric shockwaves, and use its tentacles to climb structures quickly when rapid escape is needed. Its subaquatic sleeping arrangements and nefarious involvements with New England towns, however, remain unconfirmed. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The Wraith is a rather different beast from its jungle-wrecking brethren. With a countenance akin to the result of sticking a squid, a preying mantis, a Predator and a xenomorph in a washing machine, her tricks and strategies are all about stealth, misdirection, and hit-and-run damage. <p>How does stealth work when you're 50 feet tall and liable to knock over a building with a wayward burp? POWERS. Powers is how. While the weakest of the three monsters, the Wraith can instantly warp over short distances, making for great, rhythmic, 'get in, get out' tactics in conjunction with her rapidly attacking arm-blades. Another ability allows her to chain a localised blast onto the end of a warp, excellent for disorienting a team after striking from nowhere. For evasion, she can spawn a diversionary clone before scarpering to regroup as the hunters go after the wrong target, and when massive damage is required, her supernova ability supercharges her attack speed for furious beat-downs. Less direct than the other monsters, and requiring a a fair bit of thought, her elegantly stacking powers make her a cerebral joy to play. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Evolve’s plot isn't too deep (think about how Turtle Rock's previous game, Left 4 Dead, weaves simple stories around its zombie mayhem), but there is a backstory: sometime in the future the human race spreads out across the final frontier and begins colonising every planet it can find. Shear, the planet Evolve takes place on, has only been colonised for about 50 years; however, the hostile inhabitants have begun to become more powerful and more deadly, and the colonists are in real danger.</p> <p>To ensure the safety of the human settlers, hunters watch over the land and deal with any monster attacks. They’re not fighting against other armies; these are individual creatures of all shapes and sizes. Needless to say, these hunter teams have their work cut out for them.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Hunt mode is the what the developers have been using to ease gamers into the asynchronous multiplayer. There are other variants that change the rules, more different monsters, and different areas to hunt them in (more later). Plus, Turtle Rock has confirmed a single player mode. The main focus of the game is 4 vs 1 online play.</p> <p>At the start of Hunt session the monster gets a 10 second head-start over the hunters. Hunters drop in at the exact point where the monster spawns, and from then on, it’s free-form chasing and shooting. Hunters can be revived twice before death, and health doesn’t automatically regenerate (although Medics can heal team mates). Once dead, you have to wait 2 minutes to be redeployed via drop-ship, which is extremely tense given the fast pace of the action.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Mix the Crocodile Hunter with Han Solo and you kind of get an idea of what Abe is like. As a Trapper, he's in charge of tracking the monster's movements, and pinning it down for the rest of the team to kill. In order to do those things, he has some handy gadgets at his disposal. <p>Abe's tracking dart pistol puts a locator icon on any monster it is attached to, but you don't necessarily need to shoot the monster to track it. Shoot the local wildlife with a dart and those particular animals might get eaten by the opposing player's beast. His slow-mo grenade is pretty self explanatory, slowing the monster to a crawl. But even his shotgun is unique - the faster you shoot it, the wider its spread - making it perfect for short-range, rapid-fire devastation and long-range sniping. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Sure, the other Medics have sniper rifles and gadgets that can bring things back to life, but Caira has a grenade launcher. Yes, that grenade launcher can kill things, launching napalm bombs that explode and burn victims for damage over time, but on the flip side, you can also launch healing grenades to make your team's (and even your own) owies go away. <p>One of Caira's most handy abilities is her acceleration field. Once activated the medic and any teammates around her get a speed boost. It's perfect for those moments when you catch the monster in your sights and need to play catch up, or when you're trying to get to an objective before the big, bad fire-breathing mutant does. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Aside his rapid-fire shotgun and dummy missile launcher (no lock-ons here), Parnell has a suit. It isn't just a normal, armored space suit - this thing turns the Assault hunter into a super soldier. Think Captain America, but with a love for death and destruction. Once you activate it, all of your abilities become enhanced. You can run faster, jump higher, and rapid fire your guns for increased damage. <p>But superhuman abilities don't come without a cost. Every time Parnell activates his super suit, it damages his body, straining his human physiology to the limits. In fact, the lore says that all other people who have tested the suit out straight up died. Yet, Parnell lives. Needless to say, Parnell is a badass. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>There always has to be a leader, and the head of the hunters is Cabot. He may call the shots, but that doesn't mean he can't dish out the pain too. Cabot carries a hyper-accurate rail gun that is capable of hitting his target the instant the trigger is pulled. No travel time here. Also, the projectile has so much force that it will penetrate anything between him and his target. But surely using that skill effectively would require a person to see through walls, right? Well, yes he can. His radioactive dusting ability drops a bomb that highlights all living creatures through any objects within the vicinity. <p>Those aren't all of the tricks Cabot has up his sleeve. While the rail gun and radioactive dusting are great abilities for chasing down monsters, in an straight-out confrontation with the beast, he's all about supporting the team. If you're team is unloading on the monster, Cabot's damage amplifier gun is your key to victory. This significantly increases the incoming damage to the target. Pair the damage amp with Parnell’s superhuman ability, and you've got a devastating combination.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Let’s start with Griffin the Trapper (he's the guy with the hat and the amazing moustache). It’s his job to hunt the monster through each level, and a good Trapper can make a huge difference (in fact, Trapper is probably the character that wins or loses each match for you). He can place Sound Spikes throughout the level, which activate every time the monster rumbles past them. So you can not only tell where the creature is, but you can work out where he’s heading.</p> <p>When the players track down the monster, the Trapper can--and should--lay down a mobile arena, which traps the monster and hunters within a small playing area for about a minute. This allows everyone else to smash into the creature with as much firepower as possible. The monster can’t run and hide, or eat creatures to regenerate health and armor. Finally, Griffin also has a harpoon gun that slows the monster’s movement, preventing him from fleeing a fire-fight. Top, top tip: keep your Trapper alive.</p> </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's almost an unspoken rule that video game hunters need a loyal pet at their side, ready to attack at a moment's notice. Evolve's iteration of this classic archetype is Maggie the Trapper, with her trusty companion trapjaw Daisy. Like Griffin, Maggie excels at isolating the monster so that her teammates can tear it a new one. But Daisy's presence can be a game-changer. <p>That's because Daisy acts almost like a fifth member of your team, tracking the monster's footprints and scent like a bloodhound, or reviving downed players by herself like a cartoon St. Bernard savior. Daisy is entirely AI-controlled, freeing up Maggie to lock down the monster with an impassable dome identical to Griffin's. These Mobile Arenas seem to be the iconic Trapper move--they give the hunters the best chance of downing the monster, since it has nowhere to run and its movements are restricted.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Markov is the Assault character perfect for learning the ropes. He’s your basic tank who exists to deal as much damage to the creature as possible. The Assault carries a lightning gun for close-range brutality, and a rifle for longer-distance shooting. In terms of defense, Markov also has a personal shield that lets him just wade in and smash the monster.</p> <p>The Assault is the most basic class to play as, and that makes him feel a little… disappointing when compared to all the other hunters. Don’t misunderstand--I enjoyed playing as Markov, but he lacks the interesting armaments of the Trapper and Medic.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>When you're in the mood for a monster-flesh barbeque, Hyde's the man for the job. As an Assault, Hyde is all about racking up massive damage on the monster in close-quarters--but in Hyde's case, "close-quarters" essentially translates to "directly in the monster's face." That's because Hyde's primary weapon is an arm-mounted flamethrower, which does insane damage but has an incredibly limited range. <p>If you can't close the gap just yet, Hyde's other hand just so happens to be holding a devastating mini-chaingun. When the monster realizes it's being cooked alive, it's liable to start sprinting in the opposite direction. That's the perfect opportunity for Hyde to tag it with a poison grenade, chipping away at the monster's health even when it's seemingly made a clean getaway.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Val is probably one of the best medics in all of games, on account of her excellent arsenal. She’s got a sniper rifle that not only deals damage, but it also penetrates the creatures armour. These penetration points (stop giggling) are highlighted on the monster, and other players can blast these weak points for massive damage. Yeah?</p> <p>Val’s arsenal is rounded off by a Medgun that can heal other players from a distance (top medic tip: always get up high, hide, and support your team, because a smart monster will come for you first), a healing burst that adds a load of health to anyone within a small radius, and a Tranquiliser Gun. Not only do tranq darts slow the monster, they also make it glow green, allowing players to track the beast even if it breaks line of sight. The Medic is pretty awesome.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Like the idea of being a team player, but don't feel like dealing with the hassle of players constantly screaming out for heals? Lazarus will be your go-to guy. This bearded scientist may be a Medic, but his playstyle differs greatly from Val's. Instead of providing his teammates with a constant stream of healing energy, Lazarus is adept and reviving downed players with lightning speed. <p>That's made possible by Lazarus' crazy cool gauntlet, which can instantly bring back incapacitated players from the brink when charged up. This makes Lazarus a nightmare--and a high-priority target--for the monster. Luckily, Lazarus can pop a personal cloak at any time to evade danger or make a clutch, last-second stealth revive. He can still help out living teammates with a weaker healing pulse, or pepper the monster with weak-point enabling sniper rounds from afar.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Hank, the Support class character from my demo, offers a curious mixture of weaponry. His laser cutter does medium-amounts of damage from short range, and he’s got a shield gun that allows him to protect other players while they fight the monster. Ideally when said monster is trapped in a Mobile Arena laid down by your Trapper.</p> <p>As back-up, Hank can bring players under his invisibility cloak. While the hunters typically need to be aggressive to try and wipe out the monster before it evolves to level 3, there are times for hiding and avoiding conflict or employing subtlety. If you’re trying to revive a fallen team mate, it’s best to do that under Hank’s invisible cloak. Finally, Hank has the orbital strike, an utterly devastating mortar-style attack that can tear chunks out of a monster’s health bar if you hit it dead-on.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Maybe I'm just biased to favor all robots, but Bucket the Support 'bot is easily my favorite of the hunters so far. Turns out, not all hunters have to be human, as demonstrated by this player-controlled hunk of rusty yellow metal. Bucket's abilities perfectly gel with his mechanical theme--like the ability to detach his own head and fly it around like a UAV, scouting out the monster's location and tracking its movements once you've gotten a bead on it. <p>Bucket synergizes perfectly with the Trapper class, since he can deploy floating turret droids that can turn any area into a monster-melting death zone. His default weapon is no less awesome: a laser-guided missile launcher that lets you nail a monster even if its leaping around. And Bucket's excellent Support package is rounded out by the ability to cloak the entire team, enabling surprise-attack offenses or reliable escapes from a losing battle.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The game is called Evolve, so monster evolution gets its own slide. The Goliath goes through two stages of evolution. He starts as ‘level 1’. What you need to do is hunt wildlife within the level, and eat it. Fill up your evolution gauge and you can choose to go into a fleshy cocoon, where you’re vulnerable for about 15 seconds. You can’t move: you can only wait and pray the hunters don’t find you.</p> <p>However, when he emerges from the cocoon, Goliath is a bigger monster with more armor, more health and a new human-smashing ability. You can evolve up to level 3 (which makes you more badass again), and it’s at this point that you’re given objectives. On the level I played, the level 3 Goliath is tasked with destroying a power-unit inside a human base. He does so by eating it (you hold down RT next to the unit, and you can only eat when you’re not being shot). Destroy the generator, and the human NPCs inside the base run outside in panic. Kill them all (a single blow per human does the job) and Goliath wins!</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>There is a third force influencing the 4 vs 1 shenanigans: the environment. Hunters can track the monster’s movement by following footsteps and using visual clues in the surrounding area (like flocks of birds being disturbed by monster movements), while the monster rushes to feed on the local wildlife in order to evolve into its stronger forms.</p> <p>There are some crazy species living on Shear, and many of them are incredibly hostile. Giant carnivorous plants will grab a hunter and slowly swallow them unless another hunter can save the day. The dog-like Trap Jaws travel in packs and can mess you up quickly--something you don't need when you're already tracking a massive killing-machine. You can actually use the wildlife tactically. If the hunters kill loads of AI critters, there are fewer left for the monster to feed on. Conversely, if you're playing as Goliath, you can aggro a nearby creature and lead the hunters into the fight. And while they're scrapping for their lives, you can either bring the pain or run off to evolve in peace...</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Evolve will have over 12 maps at launch. In addition to the now-familiar jungle map, we got the chance to roam around the Dam stage, which features a cavernous ravine located near a hydroelectric dam. The layout provides a nice change from the jungle's claustrophobic foliage--and with the new biome comes different wildlife that's just as dangerous. <p>Hunters on the Dam have more to fear than just the monster--gigantic dune beetles can lash out at any time, and hunters can also get caught in camouflaged, Venus-fly-trap-esque plant life. Each new environment follows the same basic formula. There's lots of open space, plenty of dangers, and a ton of hidden nooks. Whether you're playing as a hunter or a monster, knowing which path to take and which hazards to avoid in each environment is crucial. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Playing as the hunters requires loads of quick, tactical decision-making, as well as a quick trigger finger. In Hunt mode, the monster only gets a 10-second head-start, and the hunters have jet-packs, so the action gets going very, very quickly and maintains that pace for about 30 minutes. It’s intense, and you’re constantly on the move, hunting the beast by tracking its footprints or watching out for flocks of birds that are scared into flight as the creature lumbers past.</p> <p>Playing as the monster is just as frantic. The start is all about staying away from hunters, feeding until you can evolve. The latter stages are all about creating as much mayhem as possible. The best thing, though, is that the balance is already brilliant. Winning as the monster is just as common as scoring victories while playing as the hunters. There was no guaranteed winner, so far.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Tracking and killing the monster in the Hunt game mode isn't the only match option you have in Evolve. There are three additional gameplay modes to test your teamwork, tactics, and monster strategies against - Nest, Rescue, and Defend. <p>The Nest mode drops monster eggs in random locations on the map, tasking the hunters to destroy them before the monster destroys them. Plus, there's the added twist which allows the monster hatch an egg and gain the help of a minion. In Rescue, the hunters need to find injured colonists and guide them to an evacuation point before the monster eats them. And Defend challenges the hunters to protect an escaping ship from the Monster and waves of lesser monster minions - like a MOBA with super strong creeps. Once you perfect your strategies in each of the modes, you're ready to jump into the Evacuation mode. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Evacuation is Evolve's answer to Left 4 Dead's campaign mode. Colonization of the planet Shear has gone to shit, because, you know, it's infested with evolving super-monsters. The colonists decided it's time to hoof it, but the Goliath and Kraken beasts would much rather munch on their crunchy, human bones. In Evacuation, you're working towards one goal: Get the colonists off the planet. As either the hunters or the monster, you'll play four consecutive, random matches - concluded by the MOBA-style Defend map - to determine if the humans escape successfully or get ripped to shreds. <p>As you win or lose each match, the result affects the next map. The monster wiping out the hunters in a match can result in the destruction of a weather control station, causing more man-eating plants to grow in the next environment. On the other hand, the hunters can pull out a victory and inspire colonists to take up arms against their aggressors and assist them in the next mission. Each map has variables that make one each match feel different than the last, and the whole mode, like all of Evolve, can also be played offline as a simulated, solo campaign. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Ok, here’s the non-gamey stuff you need to know. Evolve is due worldwide on February 10, 2015. It’s coming to Xbox One, PS4 and PC. There are no current-gen versions, so sorry 360, PS3 and Wii U.</p> <p>I also asked the producers if there will be an option for split-screen co-op. Sorry, the answer is a resounding ‘No’. This game is full-screen, online co-op only. Oh, and the Xbox One version will have exclusive DLC (no word yet as to whether or not it's timed) and beta access. So there's that. </p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Is this the next evolutionary leap in video game multiplayer? It's still early yet, but from what I've seen, this game is on the right track. Got any thoughts on Evolve? Does it sound awesome to you? Let us know below.</p> <p><i><b>For more looks into the upcoming year in games, take a look at everything we know about <a href="" target="new">Alien: Isolation</a>, or if you're looking for something a bit more family friendly, check out everything we know about <a href="" target="new">Mario Kart 8</a>. </p></i></b></caption> </div> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:38:57 -0800 characters who should never, ever play Santa Claus <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which means all you good little girls and boys will soon be receiving a visit from old Saint Nick. Of course, I know what some of you little monsters are thinking: "Santa is <i>so lame</i>. He's fat. He's old. He wears a stupid outfit. He's fat. He needs an upgrade." Santa would be a lot <i>cooler</i> if he was replaced with one of your favorite video game characters, am I right? </p><p> No, I am not right, and neither are you. Video game characters exist in worlds of violence and fantasy, and don't know the first thing about Christmas spirit. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at some notable examples of video game characters you would NOT want to find breaking into your house with a bag full of 'goodies' in the middle of the night.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>I know some of you would love to find David Bowie-esque Albert Wesker waiting under your tree come Christmas morning, but hear me out. Underneath that leathery voice and those piercing, reptilian eyes is an ego that's grown three sizes too large. Chances are, if you see Big Al teleporting down your chimney it means someone is either going to die, get put under mind control, or is actually an Umbrella CEO in disguise - none of which are very Christmas-y. </p><p> <b>Gift of choice:</b> Uroboros. Albert Wesker doesn't need anyone else; he has… <i>uroboros</i>. And he is all too willing to share it with anyone (and everyone) on the planet, thus ensuring complete global saturation. Hope you kids like zombies.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>"<b>ARRREES!!!</b>" You know what that is? That's the sound of Kratos wishing you a merry Christmas. It's also how he says "Ho! Ho! Ho!" and "Good morning" and a whole bunch of other everyday idioms. Kratos may appear to be in the holiday spirit - what with that red-and-white ensemble he's always running around in - but don't let that fool you. His heart is a lump of coal, and every single man, woman, child, and especially <b>ARRREES!!!</b> is on his naughty list. </p><p> <b>Gift of choice:</b> Murder. Let's face it, Kratos only has one setting: murderdeathkill. It's how he gets through life. Try and think of a problem that Kratos has encountered in which stabbing didn't fix everything. Okay, there was that one box-sliding puzzle, but that's about it.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>At first blush, Samus seems like a good pick for the part of Santa Claus. She has a spaceship that can zip her all across the planet. She can transform into that little morph ball and roll her way down the chimney. And she's a pretty nice and well-adjusted lady when she's not battling space pirates. Just slap a fake beard and a red coat of paint on her and you're good to go. There's just one tiny hiccup when it comes to the actual <i>giving</i> of the presents... </p><p> <b>Gift of choice:</b> Nothing. Don't get me wrong, Samus would <i>love</i> to give little Timmy a present. But here's the thing: her commanding officer, Matt, hasn't authorized the use of Samus' present cannon just yet. Apparently it poses too great a risk to the general public, or somesuch nonsense. Better luck next year.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The Pokemon prof. wouldn't be the worst Santa. He kinda looks the part, which is a good start, and he has lots of experience working with children. His knowledge of Pokemon is absolute, making him a great storyteller when roasting chestnuts on an open fire. At some point, however, he will try to send your son or daughter off on a ‘Pokemon adventure’. All he asks in return is for someone to tell him the name of his grandson. </p><p> <b>Gift of choice:</b> An empty house. The professor never leaves home without a few Pokedexes plus a Charmander or two, just in case he should run into a young person who hasn't dedicated his or her life to catching wild animals. Those Pokedexes aren't going to complete themselves after all.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Naked Snake's whole job - nay, his <i>entire life</i> - is built upon sneaking into places he's not supposed to be. Whether it's the Russian wilderness, the jungles of Costa Rica, or straight into our hearts, this legendary soldier is custom-made for infiltration, so you'd better believe he can worm his way down a chimney. Just make sure the kids are tucked in tight - otherwise they could end up in a sleeper hold, or with a tranq dart to the neck. </p><p> <b>Gift of choice:</b> Dead animals. Wake up, little Billy, wake up! Look at what Santa left you: a reticulated python carcass. It's right next to that hunk of raw markhor and the kenyan mangrove crab. They smell of dead animal (go figure), but I hear they taste pretty good.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Dante is one of the most destructive and obnoxious guests you could have the displeasure of hosting during the holidays. He starts by kicking in the door (because chimneys are for nerds) and spies the milk and cookies left on the table. Instead of eating them like a normal person, Dante first shoots out the legs of the table and kicks the whole thing towards the ceiling. Then he stabs each cookie out of the air with the tip of his sword, before catching the glass of milk at the last second without looking. He then leaves a demon corpse under the tree with a bow on it. </p><p> <b>Gift of choice:</b> Property damage. Here's the thing: Dante knows his whole life is one big video game. Why do you think he's able to get away with all the crazy stuff he does? He's like Neo at the end of <i>The Matrix</i>: he knows the rules - sees the code - and knows how to break them.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Kuma is a bear. You do not want to have a bear in your home attempting to hand out presents. Bears are wild animals, and pose an obvious safety hazard to both children and adults - not to mention the potential property damage. Have you seen those videos online of bears breaking into campground dumpsters? They're crazy. If a bear smells food inside your pantry (or small child) they will pop the top and refuse to stop. Plus, bears don't look anything like Santa Claus. </p><p> <b>Gift of choice:</b> A mess. How big of a mess, you ask? Imagine if your household cat was actually a ferocious mountain lion. Now imagine if that mountain lion was a bear. Think of all the damage those long claws and sharp teeth could cause. Not to mention all the fur it would shed.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><i>December 25, 2006</i> </p><p> <i>I can feel The King's presence - he smells my hunger. My family doesn't believe he's real, but I know it to be true. I've seen him dancing across my periphery; seen his dead, soulless eyes peering out from the shadows atop a twisted grin. He won't stop until all manner of fast food horror has been visited upon this house; my family drowned in a sea of dry hamburger patties and soggy fries. I can't stop it. The hunger inside me is growing worse. The King will be here soon.</i> </p><p> <b>Gift of choice:</b> Delicious Burger King food products. The King bestows upon his subjects only the finest beef patties from your local Burger King eatery. If something should go wrong with Christmas dinner, never fear. The King will be there - burgers in tow - regardless of how many doors you lock.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Now do you understand, children? At the end of the day, the <i>original</i> Santa Claus is still the best Santa Claus. He's round, he's jolly, and he won't try and steal your stuff or abduct your kids. Let him do his job, and let the video game characters do their jobs. </p><p> <b><i>And for even more holiday fun, be sure to check out <a href="">The 12 best games to play at Christmas</a> and <a href="">Secret Santa gifts for Kratos, Mario, and more</a>.</b></i></p></caption> </div> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:00 -0800 Light interactive trailer tests your zombie survival skills <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p> The life expectancy of a free-running enthusiast who is infected with a zombie virus is admittedly pretty slight, but that doesn't mean you have to try and get yourself killed. The new choose-your-own-adventure style interactive trailer for Dying Light embedded below lets you get a feel for the game's survival freedom: engage in your preferred mix of high-flying acrobatics and clever zombie traps, or maybe even hang back a bit when <i>distraction</i> is the better part of valor (hint: no matter how much you idolize Casey Jones, taking on armed thugs with a baseball bat is still a poor idea). <p> Will Techland finally make good on its grand zomb-pocalyptic ambitions, previously seen in <a href="" target="_blank">Dead Island</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Dead Island: Riptide</a>? We'll find out soon enough. Dying Light's set to release on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on January 27, 2015 in North America, but until then make sure to click on for some of our preview impressions from earlier in the game's development.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Usually, your character in a first-person shooter isn't much more nimble than your typical zombie. It's here that Dying Light immediately separates itself from the rest of the genre, with fast, acrobatic movement that looks more like Mirror's Edge than Dead Island. <p>You can scale trees and poles, jump from rooftop to rooftop, and climb around almost anything, within the world. Being this agile completely changes how you approach situations, as you don't always need to carve a hole through the undead horde in order to escape. When forced to choose between fight or flight, flight is actually an option, and it looks incredibly fun.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Climbing around wouldn't be as entertaining if the world itself wasn’t wide open to explore. Thankfully, Dying Light is massive, with detailed environments that look truly stunning. We watched as the hero ran across rooftops, looking off into the brilliantly rendered distance and surveying the gigantic playable game space. <p>Techland wasn't ready to talk about the actual geography of Dying Light, but we could see that the game didn't take place in a wholly developed nation. The buildings were made of wooden planks and sheet metal, and the location looked more like a shanty town than a bustling metropolis. If we had to take a wild guess, we'd place the setting on an island or in South Africa, but we're not sure just yet.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>When our demo started, the protagonist saw a number of supply drops fall from the sky. After a quick radio call with another survivor, he set off to try to work his way towards the nearest one in hopes of finding medical supplies, leaping over buildings and avoiding undead along the way. As he passed a building, he heard a noise that sounded like whimpering, and went into a nearby home to investigate. <p>Inside, he was attacked by a zombie, who chewed on his leg for a few moments before being stomped to a pulp. In the next room, a little girl was hiding in an armoire, crying about how her dad was "very mad and might hurt you." You got back in touch with a woman on the radio who said she'd come pick her up, and continued on your way. Objectives like this are optional and randomly appear in certain areas, creating unique situations for each person who plays.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Yeah, you read that right: Your character just had his foot chomped on by a zombie. Shouldn't that, you know, cause him to freak out and kill himself else he be turned into <i>one of them</i>? Well, no, because he's already on his way. Your character in Dying Light is infected with the zombie virus, and a little nibble here and there isn't going to change that. <p>His infection does come with a benefit, though: it also allows him to sense other zombies. He can send out a pulse--a sonar of sorts (zombdar?)--that shows where undead monsters are hiding. Totally worth it, right? We're guessing this is why it's so important that he finds medical supplies.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Sure, you'll spend plenty of time running over and away from zombies, but eventually you're going to have to fight some. This is, after all, a video game--and one made by the people who made Dead Island, no less. We watched as the zombie-hunter beat down hordes of enemies, cracking their skulls with blunt objects (with gory visibility thanks to with a cool x-ray effect), slicing off appendages with blades, and even using some cool acrobatic maneuvers to kick enemies or jump on their heads. <p>There are special abilities unlocked throughout the game, too. At one point the hero spun around with a machete, slicing enemies in a circle around him. Later, he grabbed a sledgehammer and leapt off a building, smashing into the ground and sending a wave of body parts flying through the sky.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>You won't be limited to the weapons scattered around the world, though. Tinkering is a major part of Dying Light, and you'll be able to piece together different weapons from parts found in nooks, crannies, and bodies. We watched as the hero turned loot into a badass electric machete that was later used to slice apart undead hordes. <p>This element feels like it might be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, adding loot that can be turned into upgrades and crafted items gives you a reason to explore the world even more. No stone will go unturned when there's a chance that doing so could result in making a rocket-powered sledgehammer. That said, we feel as though an open-world zombie game with an emphasis on parkour might be enough complexity for one game, and adding in goofy, makeshift weapons might muddle things.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>It's not uncommon for there to be day and night in open-world games, but usually day is bright and sunny, night is dark, and that's all there is to it. This isn't the case in Dying Light--when the sun goes down, everything changes. In the demo, the character was finally able to find a supply drop (besides the first one, which was guarded by gun-toting soldiers), but he arrived just as the sun went down. <p>During the night, the zombies behave more aggressively. This, alone, is disconcerting, but even more troubling is the <i>other</i> stuff that shows up when it's dark out. There's a different, mysterious kind of monster that prowls the streets after dark, hunting down the living (instead of, you know, just wandering around like a dumb zombie). You can try to outrun them, hide from them, or avoid them altogether by getting back to your base before they arrive.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>We're still learning about the world of Dying Light--we don't know what caused the zombie outbreak, where the game takes place, or what's going on with the story. After seeing some of the different zombie types, though, we're sure it's all bad news. Besides regular zombies, which can swarm in massive groups (at one point, it looked like there were easily 100 running at the player) and the aforementioned night hunters, there are also other things that go bump in the day. <p>Giant, monstrous zombies roam the streets, bashing walls and charging the player. The coolest thing we saw, though, was a recently turned human. It was a zombie, through and through, with a hunger for flesh and a case of the undeadsies, but he still had some of his humanity left. It felt… different when he was killed. The noise he made unsettled us. We doubt the game will go into the morality of killing a mostly-human zombie, but we were intrigued by the concept.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>We'll give you a few minutes to let this all sink in. We know what you're feeling. It's… confusion. Here you were, thinking you'd seen everything there was to see from a zombie game, when Techland shows up and throws Mirror's Edge into the mix and gets you all excited. Will it end up bringing your love for zombies back from the dead? Let us know what you think, and be sure to check back as we find out more about this intriguing game. <p><b><i>And if you're looking for more, check out <a href="" target="new">everything you need to know about the Xbox One</a> and <a href="" target="new">how Microsoft can win us back at E3</a>.</p></b></i> </caption> </div> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:55:02 -0800 is coming: Jon Snow&#39;s guide to the biggest Xmas games of 2014 <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Christmas is a tricky time of year. In addition to working out how to eat your own body weight in Pringles and little sausages wrapped in bacon (without being sick all over your Grandmother's eyes), you need to work out what game (or games) to play during that magical work-free / school-free / parole period. And there are many, many guides clogging up the internet, telling you what to play. I counted at least 37 of them. Never fear, though, your old friend GamesRadar+ is here. He's drunk, belligerent, and has some advice for you.</p> <p>Following the success of my <a href="" target="_blank">Hodor's Guide To 2014's Biggest Games</a> feature earlier this year, which got me nominated for no fewer than zero Pulitzer awards, I turned to another trusty member of the Game Of Thrones cast to give his take on 2014's best. After spending roughly a week getting his phone number from Hodor, I contacted Jon Snow to tell me his top picks for what to play this Christmas. The results are enlightening.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Sorry, I know nothing about this game.</p> <p>Hmm, not the reaction I was expecting. Oh well, it's a bit much to ask someone to play every game in 2014.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Sorry, don't know anything about this one either.</p> <p>Oh. Not a COD fan, eh? Look, I get that. I skipped Modern Warfare to put more time into Destiny, so am sure he did the same.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Nope, no knowledge of this game either.</p> <p>Really? I mean everyone has an opinion on Destiny. Where have you been all year, Snow? Beyond the fucking wall?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> You are going to hate me... I don't know anything about this.</p> <p>Not ringing any bells, Snow? Our #2 Game of the Year? Big RPG? BioWare? Dragons? Dwarf rufty? NOTHING? Are you trolling me?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Um, well, this is awkward. Literally no knowledge of this game.</p> <p>Christ-on-a-bike, Snow. You're winding me up, yeah?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Sorry, not heard of FIFA.</p> <p>Seriously? Because it's the official game of the biggest sport on the planet. It has been running for decades. Just fake a goddam opinion. No wonder everyone calls you the bastard.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Um... I've got nothing.</p> <p>Yeah, fair play, no-one bought LBP3.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> This game is really... um... it's kind of. I really like the, er, robots in it... Dragon-robots. Yeah...</p> <p>You don't know what the hell you're talking about, do you, Snow?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> I... uh...</p> <p>Don't even bother.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Wait, is that Dragon Age?</p> <p>Fuck sake.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Well, that was insightful. I'm calling your agent, Jon Snow, and telling them how utterly useless you are. I might as well have been talking to fucking geese. Even Hodor had an opinion on these games, even if it was the same fucking one. You? Yes, you, the one staring at the screen making that 'I'm not amused by your jokes' look. Have an opinion? Good. Leave it below, and show Jon Snow how it's done.</p> <p><strong><i>Want more hilarious features that are based on repeating the same joke until it gets funny? I've made a career out of those. Here's <a href="" target="_blank">11 Random Objects That Look Like Gaming Executives</a> and another, really out of date piece on <a href="" target="_blank">8 Ways It Could Be Worse For Xbox Chief Don Mattrick (After E3 2013)</a>. Actually, that's still pretty funny.</i></strong></p>.</caption> </div> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 2 brings wizard warfare to PlayStation 4 <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>If you haven't played any of the Magicka games yet, you'd better get on that, buddy. Up to this point, the magical mayhem of the comical wizards has been PC exclusive, but now Magicka 2 is coming to the PS4. Up to four players can explore the wizards' Medieval fantasy world while hurling fireballs, chaining lightning strikes between enemies, and accidentally vaporizing your friends. <p>Magicka 2 is all about exploring dungeons and combining elemental spells to fend off unrelenting onslaughts of enemies - while attempting not to kill your co-op buddies. Friendly-fire is <i>on</i> in Magicka, and it's very much what makes the game so hilariously entertaining. While I was toying with the spell combinations, I couldn't count the times I said "I'm sorry" to my teammate after I froze him solid or blasted him with an AOE explosion. At first you'll feel like you're in over your head, but with some practice, you'll be launching spells like a boss. <p>Using the right spell at the right time is essential for you and your team's survival, and the new PS4 controls make combining the eight elements quite easy. Four elements, like fire, ice, and water, are assigned on the controller's four face buttons, and holding the right trigger swaps the previous spells to the remaining options. After your spell is set, you use the two analog sticks to aim and strafe, twin-stick shooter-style. The new control scheme works well, although it does take practice and a bit of memorization to get the hang of the spellcasting. <p><b>Check out the following slides for more information and screens</b></p> </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0800 job titles in gaming (and what I wish they meant) <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The bigger the game, the more people it takes to make it a reality. But when you have hundreds of people toiling away on one project, figuring out who's contributing to what can get a little tricky. <i>Super-specific job titles to the rescue!</i> Why have a team of equally responsible designers when you <i>could</i> have Lead, Project Manager, Assistant, Associate and Assistant Lead variations of every position imaginable? That way, there's absolutely zero confusion as to who is doing <i>exactly</i> what! <p>But in the quest to make every piece of the puzzle feel unique, some honorary titles can get a bit... convoluted. Ever watched the credits to a game and thought "I wonder what that person <i>actually does</i>?" Me too! To refresh my memory, I scoured through the credits of some of the past year's biggest productions - <a href="" target="new">Far Cry 4</a>, <a href="" target="new">Destiny</a>, <a href="" target="new">Titanfall</a>, and <a href="" target="new">Assassin's Creed Unity</a> - and omitted names so as not to single anyone out. But rest assured, all of the following are actual job titles that you can spot in credits and on business cards. Maybe you're also looking for a career working as...</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> "EUREKA!" moments don't just happen on their own - they're <i>orchestrated</i>. When employees arrive at a brilliant new idea for their game, they assume that it was just a spontaneous stroke of genius; a moment of serendipitous brainstorming. Only the Realization Directors know the truth: the inception of that idea was planned years ago, fed to the game designers through subtle cues and subliminal messaging during the course of their daily lives. Truly, the Realization Directors are the puppet masters pulling our cerebral strings from unseen shadows. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> These people assist the creative director to ensure that the game stays true to the team's vision.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> After everyone else is finished with their work and leaves the office, this person diligently walks around to each and every computer, closing files, programs, and browser windows while making sure to Save All Changes. Clicking hundreds of "X" buttons day after day isn't glamorous, but it pays the bills. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Someone who's brought on to ensure that the game finishes on time.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Feeling lazy today? Think your bosses don't have a clue what they're talking about? Well, guess what: the Lead Compliance Specialists have your family, and you don't want to know what they'll do to them if you don't cooperate, <i>now</i>. You think making games is a game? The Lead Compliance Specialists will break you down like cardboard boxes at a recycling center, until you're no longer capable of a generating a single thought that goes against company policy or <i>the brand</i>. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> The enforcers of rules and corporate policy within the office.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> When you need three cheetahs, a humpback whale, and a gaggle of geese <i>STAT</i>, you call the folks in the Animals Production department. They don't just render or program them in boring old <i>code</i>, either - they <i>produce</i> them, overseeing an extensive network of breeders and animals in heat to guarantee the most desirable traits. Once the requested animal is born and matures over the course of years, only then is it ready to be motion captured into its virtual form. Magnificent. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> These people design animals that populate the game.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Your ears do not detect airborne vibrations without the permission of the Sound Masters. An ancient sect of immortal wizards, the Sound Masters have spent eons dictating the ebb and flow of noise. If you hear a melodic harmony, it is because the Sound Masters will it so. If you narrowly avoid a car crash because of loud honking, it is because the Sound Masters will it so. If someone puts an air horn directly to your head and blasts you until your ears bleed, <i>it is because the Sound Masters will it so</i>. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Audio engineers who determine what noises sound like in the game.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Rarer than a unicorn and more elusive than the winged Fae, the Ergonome is a wood-dwelling creature long believed to be naught more than a myth. Diminutive in stature, it skulks about the village at night and uses its bulky, gnomish physique to support the lower backs of townsfolk while they sit down. What feels like sturdy lumbar support to them is actually the work of the Ergonome, which chuckles to itself knowing that it has spared another commoner a life of lower back pain. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> This is a respectable job title written in French, which I don't speak. Ergo, gnome.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> You think drawing a straight line is easy? <i>HAH</i>! You couldn't be more wrong. After years upon years of dedicated study and training in a remote mountain facility, the Line Design Director emerges with a prized power: the ability to draw a perfectly straight line, <i>freehand</i>. This kind of supernatural talent fetches a ludicrously high price, whether you're on Wall Street, the black market, or a cubicle in Montreal. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> A producer who manages day-to-day content strategy.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Literally God. I can think of no other entity whose profession expands the far reaches of our seemingly infinite universe, turning that which isn't into that which is. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Someone who writes blurbs to fill any gaps in the game's lore or backstory.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> In the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, this person has transformed their skull into a living piece of radiant artwork. As the Head of Art slowly paces back and forth around the office in respectful silence, employees can't help but notice the striking still-life adorning this particular worker's cranium. They'll be so inspired by this avant-garde display of <a href="" target="new">headism</a> artistry that they'll hastily return to their graphical work with newfound vigor, the Head of Art simply nodding with serene, monk-like approval. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Leads the art team.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> A sentient gamepad, given life after a horrific accident involving radioactive AA batteries inserted during a thunderstorm. By day, it improves video games, offering developers insight on the subtleties of player comfort. By night, it goes face-to-face-buttons with the forces of evil as The Controller, a potent piece of psychic plastic with the power to bend minds like it twiddles joysticks. But not in that way, you degenerate. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> This person is in charge of accounting operations across the company.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> An author the size of a skyscraper, forced to use the world's largest MacBook Air in order to sharpen his craft. He knows that any sudden movements would surely crush the innocent citizens below like ants, so he stands stationary, like a benevolent protector of the skies. For a small fee, you can take an elevator up to his shoulders in the hopes of glimpsing some passages from his next literary work. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> The person who wrote the dialogue for the Tower, Destiny's main social hub.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Sometimes, when your game's servers keep glitching out, disconnecting players and dropping matches like clockwork, there's nothing you can do to fix the problem. And at that point, you might as well just blow up the whole damn thing and start over. This is where the Server TNT Engineers come in - they'll rig up your server mainframe with indisputably illegal amounts of dynamite, blasting powder, and other assorted explosives. From there, it's just a matter of evacuating your employees from the building, pushing down on the plunger with a satisfying <i>ker-PLUNK</i>, and enjoying the fireworks from afar. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> The go-to tech people for fiddling with TNT networking software.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> The Matchmaking Engineering Lead has two distinct, but equally useful responsibilities. When they're not carving small sticks of wood which create fire via friction, they're pairing together perfect couples on internet dating sites. Either way, there's going to be some <i>heat</i>. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> A chief programmer that designates how users will be matched up during multiplayer.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> A regal knight errant of the Emea clan, this nobleman has been tasked with bolstering the throne's forces as the kingdom prepares for war. Through his wisdom and guidance, militias will be honed into seasoned troops, and entire provinces will swear loyalty to the king's name. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Someone who handles marketing in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Which is still pretty cool, to be honest.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Beer lovers around the world know its name: Das Boot, the footwear-shaped glass that can deliver 92 oz. of your favorite brew directly to your drooling mouth. Such a terrifying, awe-inspiring vessel of alcohol didn't just pop into existence - it was thoroughly assessed by a team of Boot Flow Testers. They were the ones who discovered the secret to downing Das Boot: <a href="" target="new">remember to tilt it when the bubble hits the heel</a>. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> These testers ensure that the game starts up as intended.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> This <i>high-octane</i> sequel to the blockbuster thriller <i>Program Managers</i> will have you at the edge of your seat like a toddler at the grown-ups table. When Jodie and Steven discover that the malevolent computer virus they thought was dead is back on the 'net, it's time to boot up their Uber-laptops for one last job. This time, the code is for keeps in… <i>Program Managers II: Executable</i>! <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Another team of people who manage programs.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> A <i>delightfully</i> resourceful chap who knows his way around a multitude of gizmos and gadgets. Whatever will he tinker with next? <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> The highest-ranking member of the R&D team at a large corporation.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Gladiatorial combat is not for the weak. You must <i>prove</i> your strength as a warrior if you wish to fight for glory - and all pass judgment before the Combatants Testers. They will bend you to the point of breaking, putting your body through rigorous physical exertion and preparing your mind so that you may speak confidently in the presence of the great Caesar. By the time you march out onto the gritty dirt of the arena, thousands of bloodthirsty onlookers fervently chanting your name, you will hate the Combatants Testers for what they put you through - but you will also love them, for they have taught you well. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> These people test enemy AI.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Hey, maybe I'm just jealous of these fine workers - 'Editor' doesn't have quite the same flair to it as some of these titles. Know of any other convoluted job titles in game credits? Or maybe you know a few deliberately goofy titles, like the Sleep Deprivation Team, Shadows, and Render Wranglers listed in <a href="" target="new">Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor</a>'s credits. <p><b><i>And if you're looking for more goofy features, check out <a href="" target="new">The biggest spoilers of 2014 that you'll in no way see coming</a> and <a href="" target="new">Everyday gaming phrases that mean something very different to non-gamers</a>.</p></b></i></caption> </div> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:00:00 -0800 Best Movies of 2014 <div> <img src=""/> <caption>From a 350ft Godzilla to wormholes in space and time, via robots, aliens, superheroes, apes, vampires, cannibals, Welsh miners and a weapon-wielding racoon; 2014 had it all. </br></br>Looking at the high standard of this year’s crop, it’s clear that we’re enjoying a new golden age with a glut of distinguished titles. So here we turn our misty eyes to the past 12 months. Enjoy – it’s one for the archives.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> <em>Sleeping Beauty</em>’s wicked witch gets a big-screen fantasy update in a fairy-tale of feminist revenge. Star charisma roaring, Angelina Jolie upends Disney clichés (motherhood, morality) with sly, wry humour.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Composed and classy, Jim Mickle’s US horror remake improves on the Mexican original. <em>WAWWA</em> sees a family of cannibals struggle to survive in a bleak Southern backwater. It’s unnerving and moving in equal measures.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Let there be rock monsters, sayeth Darren Aronofsky, reimagining The Bible. Russell Crowe rediscovers his mojo as the ark knight aided by Aronofsky playing God with a $125m budget.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Michael C. Hall’s family man turns true detective in Jim Nickle’s ‘80s-set neo-noir. Also on board are Texas locales and Don Johnson as a pig-farming PI with a brick-sized portable phone. What’s not to like?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Brad Pitt tanks into Second World War-fare. Pitt’s weathered lead and Logan Lerman’s green rookie ground the experience. Loud, intense, violent, relentless, <em>Fury</em> doesn’t stop until the credits roll, thanks to David Ayer’s cracking direction and a committed cast. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Charlotte Gainsbourg shares her sex-capades in an art-grot two-parter that requires close attention and an open mind. Mixing filth and philosophy, Lars von Trier delivers maximum provocation in his friskiest picture for years.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Ridley Scott returns to the swords-and-sandals epic as Moses leads 600,000 slaves out of Egypt. Scott operates on a suitably Biblical scale (huge practical sets mixed with CG) and grounds the spectacle with a rock-solid turn from Christian Bale as Moses.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Brit director Gareth Edwards breathes new life into Japan’s galumphing gecko. The original Godzilla design is lovingly recreated with CGI, while Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are central to set-pieces that bring the awe.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Sun, sex, psychosis, skinny-dipping: it sounds like genre tat, but Guiraudie’s dark, droll study of a risky attraction upends expectations. Love and death feature in the great outdoors, as a gay hangout becomes a murder scene.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Undercover idiots Schmidt and Jenko go to college in a raucous sequel that deconstructs sequels. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill once again pump up the bromance as the cops sent to investigate a drug pusher at a local college. Roll on <em>23</em>! </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Lenny Abrahamson’s off-piste comedy lifts the mask of an outsider-pop savant. Michael Fassbender nails every note alongside Domhnall Gleeson in a riff on music and mental illness plays to its own key.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Laura Poitras’ eye-opening doc on whistleblower Edward Snowden locks you in a hideaway with Snowden, just as his inside info breaks to alert the public that Big Brother is watching.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> A lone squaddie separated from his unit runs for his life in 1970s Belfast. The action sees Jack O’Connell excel in a nail-biting thriller with a foot chase to rival <em>Point Break</em>’s.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> A super-drug boosts Scarlett Johansson’s skills in Luc Besson’s sci-fi brain scrambler, full of set-pieces, pulp metaphysics and superhero origin riffs. From down-at-heel victim to super-smart ass-kicker, Johansson owns every giddy moment.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Mike Leigh paints a rich picture of Romantic artist J.M.W. Turner, played to perfection by Timothy Spall. One great British artist pays tribute to another in a lengthy but rewarding homage that boasts a titanic turn at its centre. Rarely has watching paint dry been so fascinating.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> James Dashner’s novel about an entrapped teenager is <em>Lord Of The Flies</em>-meets-<em>Lost</em>. This this lean sci-fi thriller is hoisted above YA fatigue with Dylan O’Brien’s energised lead, with help from three essential ingredients: mazes, running, and monsters.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> On reflection, only <em>The Babadook</em> beat Mike Flanagan’s time-hopping chiller in spooky dread. The creepy supernatural horror stars ex-<em>Doctor Who</em> companion Karen Gillan as a young woman investigating the possibility that an old mirror is responsible her family's misfortune. Mirror, mirror on the wall, why do you want to kill us all?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> The Dardennes capture the panic, sadness and desperation of the recession that sets off Marion Cotillard on a quest: she must persuade her co-workers to give up their bonuses to save her job. A small drama with great import.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Hayao Miyazaki tells the life and love of Japan’s foremost aircraft engineer Jiro Horikoshi in a deeply personal biopic which forms a fitting swansong for Studio Ghibli’s guru.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> A war veteran cosies his way into a family’s life and, of course, the shit hits the fan. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s high-grade B-pic smarts, as Dan Stevens terminates <em>Downton Abbey</em>’s shadow with muscular ease.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Michael B Jordan stars in Ryan Coogler’s version of the shooting of an African- American man by a white cop. Together, they bring a raw, ragged humanity to the gut-punching tragedy that was also a hard-hitting festival favourite that won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Bilbo and co. fight Smaug and just about everyone else in Middle-earth. Peter Jackson completes his six-film Middle-earth cycle without dropping the ball: one of the great cinematic achievements and it’s ENORMOUS.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Intrigue. FIGHT! Car chase. FIGHT! Shoot-out. FIGHT! Gareth Evans re-staked his claim as the master of mayhem in this bigger, bolder follow-up to his seminal 2011 actioner. Fight aficionados should brace themselves for a bruising, blistering ride.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> The Coens’ ballad of a ’60s folkie presents another of their seriously flawed men. Oscar Isaac is pitch-perfect in a winning tale of an incorrigible loser, blending mirth, music, moggies and melancholy. It hits the right note on every level, from period vibe to performance (human and feline).</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Out of the frying pan of the arena, into the fire of all-out war: it’s the beginning of the end. With measure and muscle, Lawrences Jennifer and Francis nail the job of selling the long, twisting road towards revolution.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Jeremy Saulnier‘s Cannes-lauded tale sees a homeless man out for vengeance. The old-school indie thriller carves out tension with precision, bearing comparison to the Coen brothers’ <em>Blood Simple</em>. It’s also an impossible-to-ignore calling from writer/director Saulnier. Hollywood awaits.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Hiccup, Toothless and friends face a dragon god’s army in the franchise that stays airborne. With miraculous creatures, engaged voice-work and emotion-seared twists, cross your talons that another instalment will breathe fire into our screens soon. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Morten Tyldum’s thriller cracks open WW2 codebuster Alan Turing’s secrets and allows Benedict Cumberbatch to ace another genius. Together, the direction and taut script meet Turing’s magnetic precision head-on.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> A homophobic rodeo star turns AIDS victim turns self-medicating Mother Theresa. Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto dazzle in a true story that’ll make you burn with anger.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> The <em>Flight Of The Conchords</em> team prove to be New Zealand’s answer to Edgar Wright as they serve up a mockumentary about three vampire flatmates. Sharp as fangs, warm as fresh blood, this could be the funniest movie of the year.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Who knew striking miners and gay campaigners had so much in common? Saucy, uplifting and astute, Matthew Warchus’ vibrant Brit-flick was the crowd pleaser of the year.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> The ‘new’ X-Men meet the ‘old’ X-Men to battle time loops and giant robots. This humungous comic-book adaptation sees Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travel back in time to help Professor X (James McAvoy) prevent future destruction. There’s more ambition, more thrills and more A-listers than all the other X-flicks put together.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Based on the Gillian Flynn’s bestselling crime thriller, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play the perfect-looking couple whose relationship is far from perfect. David Fincher's on directorial duties for a vicious dissection of marriage that’s to die for. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Forget <em>Porridge</em>. David Mackenzie’s drama showed prison as it is, with father and son convicts reuniting behind bars. You wouldn’t meet Jack O’Connell’s tasty glare in a boozer, but try taking your eyes off him here.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Switch off that television and head out to the cinema: Jake Gyllenhaal prowls LA for crime footage in Dan Gilroy’s satire of media amorality. This stylish horrorshow sees a gaunt, vampiric Gyllenhaal give a career-best performance.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Spike Jonze logs on to a man/machine virtual romance that, for all its techno-focus, is a very human love story about our need for connection. Joaquin Phoenix’s open-book emotions move, Scarlett Johansson speaks volumes. Strange, witty, honest and curiously comforting.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> San Fran’s simians get smart in a sequel to the prequel. Set years after the events of <em>Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes</em>, freed ape Caesar leads a community of photo-realistic mo-cap apes whose peace is ruined by an invasion of humans. The emotive script doesn’t monkey around either.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Brendan Gleeson excels as a Catholic churchman under physical and spiritual threat in this unexpected blend of passion play, detective story, rural comedy and serious inquiry into faith.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Cruise’s taut time-looping actioner offers smarts as well as spectacle, and a kick-ass Emily Blunt. Together, they battle the future (and invading aliens). He fights aliens. Dies. Fights aliens. Dies. Fights aliens…</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> By probing parts other Tinseltown take-downs don’t reach, David Cronenberg engineers his own genetic mutation of the Hollywood satire. Among its starry cast of Cusack, Pattinson and Wasikowska, Julianne Moore especially revels in the sex and psychosis.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> A game-changer for the MCU (that killer S.H.I.E.L.D. reveal) and for Cap too, giving the star-spangled Avenger a much-needed injection of cool. This solidly entertaining blockbuster is <em>The Dark Knight</em> of Marvel movies, steeped in modern fears and bruising, bravura action. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Jonathan Glazer wrestled with Michael Faber’s same-titled novel, stripping it back to the core story of an alien female presence (Scarlett Johansson) trawling Glasgow and the surrounding countryside for men to suck the life out of. Eerie, unsettling and ambiguous, it’s a sensory experience that out-weirds alienation classic <em>The Man Who Fell To Earth</em> (an influence).</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic comes on an IMAX-demanding scale that feels like a giant leap beyond other blockbusters. Opening to less fanfare than his previous films, it remains essential viewing: a heartbreaking adventure overflowing with science, philosophy and emotion, as Matthew McConaughey’s astronaut struggles to reconcile his mission to save humanity with the prospect of never seeing his kids again.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Crowned Best Picture on Oscar night, Steve McQueen’s chronicle of Solomon Northup’s appalling ordeal (a free man, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery) is harrowing and heartrending in the extreme. Yet it also has moments of poetry and beauty, with Sean Bobbitt’s painterly images and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o’s dignity in the face of savagery.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Chris Pratt kicked off his top year by voicing happy-go-lucky construction worker Emmet, who gets embroiled in a plot to stop Will Ferrell’s shouty Lord Business. From the plethora of visual gags to the infernally ‘awesome’ theme tune and the dorkiest Batman yet, it all snaps perfectly into place.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> “Ba-ba-ba-dook... dook... dook!” This sombre, soulful Aussie horror is a heartfelt study of grief and depression, albeit featuring a top-hatted monster that evokes Nosferatu, the Child Catcher and Dr. Seuss’ freakiest imaginings as he springs from the pages of the titular kids’ book to torment a single mum and her son.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Wes Anderson’s penchant for crafting exquisitely detailed, literate concoctions reached its apogee with this glorious homage to a hotel that never was in an Eastern European country that never existed. Part mystery, part screwball comedy and part adventure, <em>TGBH</em> boasted the year’s finest cast and (we’d wager) its wordiest script. Oh, and those cakes weren’t too shabby either…</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Leonardo DiCaprio gives a career-best performance as Jordan Belfort, the ’80’s stockbroker who poured many a poor schmuck’s life savings into his own bulging pockets, while Jonah Hill shines (literally, in the case of his brilliant white teeth) as right-hand douchebag Donnie Azoff. Scorsese’s flight-of-Icarus tale dazzles in a three-hour car-crash narrative that holds our horrified attention.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Touted as Marvel’s biggest gamble since <em>Iron Man</em>, <em>Guardians Of The Galaxy</em> found freshness in its grungy genre aesthetic, with its very idiosyncrasies now the envy of every studio looking to make their future tentpoles stand out. Writer/director James Gunn was given free reign (Joss Whedon’s feedback on the first draft of the screenplay was he “wanted it to be ‘more James Gunn’”) and it shows, allowing for Marvel’s funniest, wildest and most heartfelt film yet. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><strong>The TF Verdict:</strong> Made for a piffling $4m with an untrained lead and a level of dedication and foresight unrivalled in modern cinema, Richard Linklater captured 12 years in the life of a boy as he progresses from precocious child to testy teenager to self-assured young man. Like all great art, <em>Boyhood</em> reveals the universal in the specific, the immense in the minuscule. But it also shows us something revelatory: the boundless potential of cinema as an art form when commercial considerations cease to apply.</caption> </div> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 04:13:56 -0800 Final Fantasy XV&#39;s first English-language trailer <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Talking's kind of important in Final Fantasy, but up until this point we had to read subtitles to tell what was going on in the series' upcoming numbered entry. Square Enix has finally released its first English-language trailer for Final Fantasy XV (it's the same video as the Tokyo Game Show Demo), giving us a good listen to the voice cast behind the game's principal protagonists. That includes Prince Noctis, the raven-haired royal who players will guide through the campaign, and his posh-sounding friend who fancies a bath after a day of adventuring. <p>The trailer depicts some of the events you can try yourself in the Episode Duscae demo, which will be sold alongside Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. You'll need to buy it bright and early to get access to the demo though - it will only be available in 'Day One' editions of the standard game, or in the $99/£79.99 Collector's Edition, and will never be available through other channels. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD goes on sale for PS4 and Xbox One on March 17 in North America and March 20 in Europe.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Whether it's hardcore sword and sorcery or steampunk, Final Fantasy has always been a more unpredictable series than it gets credit for. But who could've predicted that one of the game's lengthiest trailers would focus on the four spiky-haired characters driving down a highway? Yes, airships seem to have been replaced with driving around the world in a fancy convertible. <p>Of course, the new trailer also shows the characters on-foot as well, slashing away at monsters in real time, sort of like the core combat in Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The trailer even ends with what can only be a nod to FFXV's many delays. "It's been a long time coming… Almost there." I sure hope so, Noctis.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>When it was first shown as Versus XIII, the game was presented as the brainchild of Tetsuya Nomura, one of Square Enix's top developer masterminds. Nomura rose to prominence as character designer on Final Fantasy VII, then gained international notoriety as the director of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. It was Nomura that reintroduced FFXV to the gaming world at E3 2013, so it's somewhat shocking to learn that he has since stepped down as the director on the title. <p>Hajime Tabata had been working as co-director following his directing job on Type-0, but at Tokyo Game Show 2014 it was revealed that he is only lead on the game. Nomura's input on the story concept, characters, and overall world building is still in the game, but he has removed himself from seeing it to completion. Nomura's fans should be happy to know that he's doing this to focus his attentions on Kingdom Hearts III and "other highly anticipated titles," according to Square. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy fans may be slightly relieved by Nomura's exit, because his titles are known for facing numerous delays. Perhaps this one might just come out in 2015 after all.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Unlike Final Fantasy XIII's convoluted tale of the god-like fal'Cie, Final Fantasy XV's taking a more political approach to its story. The big players here are the kingdoms of Lucis and Niflheim (sounds pretty darn close to FFVII's Nibleheim--fan service, perhaps?), both of which had been engaged in a cold war over the world's mystic crystals, objects of huge importance in most Final Fantasy games, prior to the signing of a peace treaty. <p>Of course, there'd be no interesting story without some sort of betrayal. Cue Niflheim's surprise invasion of Lucis, which it does in an attempt to steal the last remaining crystal and dethrone Regis Lucis Caelum--your father. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Noctis Lucis Caelum, the heir to the kingdom of Lucis, is who you'll be controlling throughout FFXV. He's a stereotypically rebellious young man, choosing to live by his own rules as opposed to following the strict code of conduct set by his royal overseers. With his kingdom under siege, Noctis and his friends must protect the crystal of Lucis and exact revenge on the forces of Niflheim at all costs. <p><b>Weapon style:</b> "Noct" isn't your average moody prince; a childhood event endowed him with the ability to sense the impending death of other people, a power that (for some reason) also allows him to summon a variety of weapons from thin air, which he can also use as a protective shield, and teleport around the battlefield. He's the only character in the game who can use any type of weapon, including spears, swords, axes, lances, and guns.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>The great house of Amicitia, to which Gladiolus belongs, is a part of the royal circle of Lucis. Its sole responsibility: to protect the crown. Gladiolus (or "Gladio" for short) grew up with Noctis, forming a deep bond that goes beyond the scope of duty. <p><b>Weapon style:</b> In recent gameplay trailers, Gladio can be seen wielding a humongous two-handed sword that looks like a weapon straight out of Monster Hunter. He may fulfill a tank-like role in combat, seeing as he's Noctis' guardian. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Noctis is a bit of a loose cannon, so it's Ignis' job to keep the prince in check. Like Gladiolus, Ignis has a storied past with the young heir, and the two have developed a trustful bond. The official description for the character depicts him as an "unwavering voice of reason," further stating that Ignis is very logical and received a "classical education" in order to one day counsel Noctis once he becomes king of Lucis. <p><b>Weapon style:</b> Ignis utilizes a katana and throwing knives in battle, which allows him to strike multiple enemies at once. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>It's very likely that Noctis has Prompto to thank for some of his rebellious nature, as this womanizing trouble maker is a wanted fugitive. The two supposedly met during their school days, and though Prompto is friends with the prince of Lucis, he was raised in an inferior social class and harbors resentment for it. <p><b>Weapon style:</b> Prompto is an expert marksman, and is able to wield a variety of handguns and shotguns. When in control of Prompto, you can manually aim his weapons Dirge of Cerberus-style to target enemy weak points. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Every fantasy fellowship needs its battle-worn veteran, which is where the 42-year-old Cor Leonis comes in. Cor has devoted his life to studying the art of war, and is bound by duty to protect the crown, though he doesn't always see eye to eye with Noctis. <p><b>Weapon style:</b> Cor has quite the reputation for his katana expertise on the battlefield. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Final Fantasy games have traditionally adhered to the turn-based JRPG battle standard. You'd select an action from a list, your character would perform said action, then you'd wait for a time gauge to refill before being allowed to select another. Final Fantasy XV throws this out the window, instead adopting an action-heavy combat system, akin to that of Kingdom Hearts, where fights unravel in real-time. <p>Noctis and crew can run around the battlefield, actively dodging attacks and following them up with brutal strikes without waiting for a meter's permission to do so. You can also climb giant monsters when fighting them to target their weak points for massive damage.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Though the story will dictate which party members you have available at the onset of the game, you'll eventually get to choose two characters to accompany Noctis on his journey. Each party member (aside from Noctis) is proficient with only one type of weapon, and though all can use magic, spell effects differ from character to character. <p>You won't always have to control just Noctis, though (but if he dies, it's game over). FFXV allows you to freely swap between party members during combat, so you can get a feel for each of their distinct fighting styles. Best of all, you can combine the attacks of all three into one flashy group combo, doling out a huge serving of pain to those unfortunate enough to be standing in your way. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>One of the things about Final Fantasy XV that immediately struck us was how much vertical space it explores. Hell, jumping is a <i>feature</i> in the upcoming Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, but Noctis straight up launches himself through the air, using his magic swords as grappling hooks. <p>We saw him initiate battles in mid-air, and he even scaled towering enemies to hit them where it hurts--but is vertical navigation something that can be done freely, or does it require scripted hook points in the world? We're hoping players will have a bit of freedom to play around with this a bit. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Vehicles certainly aren't new to the Final Fantasy scene (boats and airships have been a regular mode of transportation when it comes to traversing the world map since the very first game in the franchise), but they've never been something you could hijack from enemies to use against them. That is, until Final Fantasy XV. <p>In the gameplay trailer below, you can see Noctis hop on an enemy mech mid-battle and hurl it toward his foes. We're not sure whether or not you can actually <i>pilot</i> these vehicles in combat, or if these sequences are more of a scripted thing. At the very least, you can definitely count on being able to pilot an airship once more.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Back at E3 2012, Square Enix unveiled a jaw-dropping tech demo, entitled Agni's Philosophy, to showcase the power of its new development engine, Luminous. People went nuts. The level of detail was astonishing, and the video being rendered in real-time was of a quality typically reserved for pre-rendered cutscenes. <p>FFXV runs on that very engine. It's hard not to be exciting about how fantastic the game looks on a visual level after having seen it in action. And as developers become more familiar with next-gen hardware, things will only start to look better going forward. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption> <p>Back when Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced in 2006, it was planned as a current-gen title. But with its rebranding to Final Fantasy XV, and its transition to Square Enix's new Luminous engine, the PS3 and Xbox 360 were abandoned entirely in favor of the PS4 and Xbox One. And you know what? We're cool with that. <p>With access to new hardware, the developers are sure to attempt some amazing things with the game that just wouldn't be possible otherwise--at the very least, it's gonna look pretty damn amazing. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Excited for Final Fantasy XV? Are you cool with its action-oriented approach? What are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments below. <p><b><i>And if you're looking for more Final Fantasy reading, check out <a href="" target="new">why every Final Fantasy game is the best and worst in the series</a> and <a href="" target="new">the five best Final Fantasy heroes</a>, or plenty of the other games coming to the <a href="">PS4</a> and <a href="">Xbox One</a>.</b></i></p></caption> </div> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:59:01 -0800 the Internet - Street Fighter V, the PlayStation Experience, and more, 14 Dec 2014 12:00:00 -0800