GamesRadar - Xbox 360 Previews, 24 Oct 2014 02:03:15 -0700Codemasters&#39; Toybox Turbos looks like Micro Machines..., 24 Oct 2014 02:03:15 -0700 Age: Inquisition&#39;s multiplayer co-op is a loot fiend&#39;s best friend <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>I bet this wasn't what you were expecting from <a href="" target="_blank">Dragon Age: Inquisition</a>. Multiplayer? For real? Yep! It's happening, and I'm sure you have a lot of questions. Like: How could tactical RPG combat translate to a four-player co-op scenario, and why the HELL is Bioware <i>wasting</i> time on a multiplayer mode for a story-based, SINGLE-player title? Hey, hey, hey. Hold on there buddy. I've got all of the details on the new co-op multiplayer mode to help bring your worries to rest. <p>I had the chance to play Dragon Age: Inquisition's multiplayer mode during a recent visit to the Bioware offices, and I can tell you right now, it's actually pretty awesome. Like, I'm-going-to-be-spending-way-too-much-time-playing-this awesome. Its got the economy of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer with a ton of Dragon Age elements mixed in. There's a lot to show you, so let's jump right into it.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>If you're familiar with Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, you're going to feel right at home with Inquisition's new co-op mode. After sitting through the matchmaking lobby (which allows you to select the mission and difficulty settings), you'll drop into a 20 to 30 minute mission with your group of four online companions. From there, every player controls a single character, leaving it up to your group to coordinate attacks and manually execute combat strategies. <p>Unlike Mass Effect 3's horde-style gameplay, however, Inquisition's multiplayer challenges your team to complete a randomized mini dungeon. You play as a member of an Inquisition strike team that will need to explore every room to find hidden chests filled with gold and items, and defeat all of the enemies contained within the level--including a massive boss at the end. This is no cake walk. Coordination between players and classes is essential. "What kind of classes?" you ask. Well...</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Basically, any character type you're used to playing in the Dragon Age series is an unlockable class. You'll start off the progression system with a sword and board dwarf class, elf caster, and human archer unlocked (with nine total classes available at launch). Each of these classes has their own skill trees to unlock via experience points, special weapons to find, and armor to collect and customize. As you progress, you can unlock more specialized classes with unique skills, such as the two-handed weapon-wielding Reaver, fireball-throwing Elementalist, and stealthy Assassin. <p>Like Mass Effect 3's classes, Inquisition's level individually and share a loot pool. So, if you find an awesome shield playing as an Archer, you can equip it to your shield-bearing Legionnaire later on. It's always a good idea to keep more than one class equipped and ready for battle because joining a group in which all players are the same exact class is a surefire way to wipe. Variety wins the day in Inquisition's multiplayer.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>When it comes to class based co-op and parties, an RPG veteran's mind can't help but think of the holy trinity: tank, DPS, and heals. In Inquisition's co-op missions, you'll definitely have a huge advantage going into a dungeon with a balanced team, plus only certain classes can open special doors containing extra loot. But if you wanted to rock a party of three Legionnaires and a magic-throwing Keeper, you can probably pull off a victory in the easier difficulties (if your team is super good). <p>My experience with a balanced team went quite well. I rushed my shield-bearer to the front, holding up my shield to absorb damage and gained a boost to my armor. While I did my tank thing, ranged magic casters and archers behind unleashed their skills to put down heavy damage and heal my dwarf's wounds. The trinity worked like a charm--at least, until my group encountered tougher enemies, who promptly murdered us.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Whether you finish a quest with your co-op partners or get brutally eviscerated by the demons of the Fade, you're going to get some gold for your efforts. What's that gold for? Well, duh, buying stuff. But you won't be handpicking the weapons and armor from some shopkeep or blacksmith. Inquisition's loot system is all about blind, random luck. <p>To get new gear, you can purchase loot chests that come in the small, medium, and large variety. These can contain temporary items like potions and buffs, or rare equipment pieces. The larger the chest, the more items you get, and the more rare the items can be. There's also the option to put down real money to speed up your looting progress. That said, you won't be able to buy any items in particular and there aren't any items you can't earn by just playing the game.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Other than purchasing loot chests to get new items, you have the option to gather materials and craft your own weapons and armor, or improve your items with new sword hilts and armor reinforcements. In Inquisition's multiplayer quests, the gold filled chests you come across might include crafting materials and recipes (or you can break down unwanted items for materials). Once you get everything a recipe calls for, you can build your new item through the multiplayer menus in the matchmaking lobby. <p>In Inquisition's MP you can completely outfit your character from head-to-toe (with individual armor pieces that include boots, gloves, chest pieces, and head gear). Items have different classes of rarity and distinct looks, allowing you to truly customize the abilities and appearance of your characters. The crafting system definitely adds to the loot-monger appeal. I already see myself spending way too much time trying to complete an armor set.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>In Mass Effect 3, players have to play multiplayer to pump up their Galactic Readiness, which affects the single-player story events. In Inquisition, however, there won't be such interconnectivity between the single-player and multiplayer modes. <p>Of course, there is some narrative behind the operations and characters in the DAI co-op, but none of that will bleed into the mechanics of the single-player game. So, any players who don't want to partake don't have to (which is a good thing because the single-player will probably take up enough of your time).</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>As if 150 to 200 hours of single-player gameplay wasn't enough. Bioware will also provide regular updates to the multiplayer experience. So, you can expect to see new heroes, levels, and items trickling in during the weeks and months after Inquisition's launch. And probably the best thing about the upcoming content: it's all free. No subscription, no season pass, no nothin'.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>There you have it. Those are all of the details we have on Inquisition's multiplayer mode so far. What do you think of the series' plunge into the multiplayer space. Are you apprehensive? Excited? Let us know in the comments below. <p>Read more about Inquisition in our <a href="">Dragon Age Inquisition Road to the Review</a> and check out other titles coming later this year in our <a href="" target="_blank">most anticipated games of 2014 list</a>.</caption> </div> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 06:00:00 -0700 Isolation&#39;s long-term play is intimate, intelligent, and excruciatingly intense, 27 Aug 2014 05:00:00 -0700 Life Is Strange makes normality... rather special, 22 Aug 2014 06:00:00 -0700 is Strange: An entirely realistic tale of teen trauma and time-bending <div> <img src=""/> <caption>Okay, so that headline is an impossible statement. Because, you know, time-bending. But really, if there ever was a real-life scenario in which a teenage girl found herself able to reverse her recent chronology for the greater good, it's a very good bet that things would play out much like they do in Life is Strange.<p> Because Life is Strange, the brand new, episodic adventure game from Remember Me developer Dontnod, isn't taking the grandiose, superheroic approach to temporal tomfoolery. Rather, it integrates its clock-bothering malarkey into an otherwise entirely naturalistic tale of estranged childhood friendships, troubled parent/offspring relationships, and the strains of becoming an adult amid the numerous traumas of school, small towns, and non-ideal peer groups.<p> There is a central mystery at the core of the story, namely one relating to the recent disappearance of a local girl, but however that plays out, the game's refreshingly matter-of-fact, personal, and introspective treatment of its content already gives me high hopes for an unusually engaging tale. Playing like a quiet, sedate version of Telltale's The Walking Dead, it concentrates its time-warping not on epic, world-saving situations, but on the fixing of minor but important mistakes.<p> The careless screwing over of a friend with a panicked, badly thought-out dialogue choice can be undone. The whole preceding scenario can be struck from the record by going back a little further. Environmental puzzle solutions can be reverse-engineered by coming to understand their causality backwards. And all of this is wrapped up in a quietly thoughtful--but thankfully non-angsty--vibe of underplayed humanity. However much the game's core mechanic might flagrantly break the fundamental laws of physics, it's all to the end of making little, but hopefully far reaching, improvements in its very real characters' very real lives.</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> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 07:30:00 -0700 Hardline: Why campaign mode might finally match multiplayer. Really. <div> <img src=""/> <caption>There is traditionally no lonelier disc than that which houses a Battlefield game's single-player campaign. However epic, shiny and bombastic those solo stories have become, they've remained in charge of the secondary fiddle, consistently drowned out by the orchestral furore of multiplayer magnificence. But now, just maybe (whisper it), that might be about to change. <p> Battlefield Hardline's campaign is being made not by usual developer DICE, but by Dead Space studio Visceral games. That fact is very, very significant. Because while multiplayer-minded DICE has often seemed to struggle in translating Battlefield's open, emergent online play into a satisfying offline campaign, Visceral has a hell of a track record with the all-important pacing, structure and set-pieces. <p> That shines through in Battlefield Hardline's Gamescom demo. Now focused around a single, rather human cop, rather than legions of faceless Marines, its tale of undercover investigation and moral ambiguity feels a far cry from the vast but unengaging conflicts of single-player Battlefields past. Previous games have impressed with their breadth, but been found lacking in terms of agency and involvement. Hardline takes the opposite approach, scaling things in, but ironically providing much more scope for experimentation and improvisational play. In fact, it's built out of the stuff. <p> You see that 'far cry' line above wasn't a mere figure of speech. The action I've seen this week seems to take inspiration from Far Cry 3's fantastic, dynamic camp raids in all the right ways. Watching an assault on a junkyard play out twice, in stealthy and loud variations, the parallels are obvious and very, very heartening. A small sandbox. A non-linear objective with optional bonus tasks. Multiple means of entry and escape. More nuanced AI than usual, with multiple levels of alertness and aggression, leading to more layered interactions. It's great stuff, right down to the climactic, Metal Gear-style, hide-and-seek evasion, leading to a custom zipline escape from a guard tower. <p> And there's more going on than that, and it’s all very cool. Click on through the following slides and I'll fill you in. </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> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 06:45:00 -0700 Wars 3: Say goodbye to sleep. Again <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's the morning of the second full day of Gamescom. I've had about two nights' sleep over the last three and have been on my feet every minute in between. I am flagging. But suddenly, all of that changes. A soundtrack reverberates through the door to a tiny demo room hidden in Activision’s stand. Screeching electronic hits. Hard, pulsing beats. Soaring synth lines. The goosebumps kick in. I am wide awake. I haven't even seen it yet, but already Geometry Wars 3 has kicked my arse into a wide-eyed frenzy.</p> <p>Minutes later, I confirm that it has every right to. This is a 100% legit sequel to the previous two games, coming to new-gen consoles, old-gen consoles, and PC. Developed by Lucid Games, a new studio comprising staff from original developer Bizarre Creations, as well as WipeOut dev Sony Studio Liverpool, it's the product of a long-standing desire to get Bizarre's best-loved game back on the road. It's the culmination of years of frustrating stasis, an intensely brewed, long-steeped blend of every idea its creators have had--but been unable to act upon--since Geometry Wars 2.</p> <p>Don't let the almost-subliminal implication of its full title worry you. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions might play out on 3D grids, but the gameplay is 100% pure, classic, 2D firework-frenzy. The action is unquestionably authentic, smooth, flowing, utterly intricate, and fuelled by a consistent, noose-tight balance of risk and reward. The enemies are recognisable (though there are new ones too). The Geom-driven score multiplier system still underpins the game's entire ethos. It's exactly what I dreamed it would be. It's exactly what it <i>should</i> be.</p> <p>That said, the 3D arenas are no mere visual gimmick. Rather, they're the fundamental evolution that makes this a true sequel rather than a lazy retread. By bringing organically shifting fields of view to Geometry Wars, they layer emergent challenge and brand new tactics over the robust, tried-and-trusted core. One level is a cylinder, with dynamic barriers floating around it, becoming lethal from time to time. Another is a cube, reducing the visible play area and hiding five sixths of the potential enemies on the grid. Yet another is peanut shaped, its amorphous structure providing two cramped 'hills' for defending, and a potentially lethal bottleneck in its furrow. There's more to say--much <i>much</i> more, so click on through the following slides for that. But know that the king of one-more-go is back, and your sleep patterns are no more.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 04:58:15 -0700 Island 2 co-op lets you share the head-stomping <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><a href="" target="_blank">Dead Island 2</a> is in pre-alpha form (which means ‘still in early development’), but already playable in 4-player co-op. That means four players all stamping on zombie heads, turning single zombies into two half-zombies and basically making lots of very dead things even deader, all at the same time. It’s a massacre.</p> <p>It’s hard not to draw parallels with Left 4 Dead when you’re playing 4-player zombie-smashing co-op, but the action here is different. It’s more about the gore than the survival and success is therefore less reliant on teamwork, at least in the 12-minute demo I played. You can run off and do your own thing most of the time, though it certainly helps to stick together.</p> <p>Two of the missions in the 12-minute-long Gamescom demo require you to upgrade weapons with elemental powers. Heading to the gas station that’s on fire at the end of the road allows you to fill up on gasoline direct from the pump, in order to give your weapon a firey slant. Likewise, the electrical store can turn your shots into electrocuting attacks. Lots of fun.</p> <p>Only problem with draining gasoline in full view of everyone is that it attracts the attention of special zombies. ‘Runner’ zombies have only recently transformed so they still have decent muscles and are much more mobile. And thugs are hulking great beasts, reminiscent of L4D’s Tanks. Then there’s the Suicider, a huge enemy full of explosive pus, which you can kick back into a crowd and watch the whole thing go up. Boom.</p> <p>There will be more zombie types in the finished game, but also more humans too. Ex-military men and escaped prisoners will be present in the game world to fight. Whether you’ll be able to slice the humans in half like you can the zombies remains to be seen. But it’ll be fun finding out. <a href="" target="_blank">Well, maybe not for you, Germany.</a></p> <p>And the best part? The finished article will actually feature 8-player action, split into two teams, allowing you to work together or even play PvP in special events (triggered by helicopter arrivals). With areas like the Santa Monica pier, Venice beach, the LA river and San Franciso to explore (and cover with gore), your bloodlust should be sated for a good while when the game releases on PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2015.</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> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 09:30:00 -0700 2014 screens look gorgeous, but new-gen is coming later <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>If you were expecting the first new-gen showing of F1 and Codemasters' EGO engine with the announcement of F1 2014, you'll be sad to hear it's not happening <em>quite</em> yet. But the good news is you won't be waiting another whole year for it. New-gen F1 will be coming to PS4/Xbox One and PC 'earlier than usual' in 2015, with the current-gen versions (and a PC version of them) coming this year on October 17 in Europe and October 21 in the US.</p> <p>The earlier-than-usual release for F1 2015 (which is what I'm assuming it will be called, though its name is unannounced) means that new content can--and will--be delivered digitally as the real-life season unfolds. So expect real-world championship standings/leaders in your game's season mode.</p> <p>But that's for the future. For now, current-gen F1 2014 promises all the rule changes and mechanical differences from the real sport (which are considerable after the biggest upheaval in regulations in recent memory), plus the new Sochi Autodrom track in Russia and the return of Austria's Speilberg circuit, which has been off the roster for a decade. Bahrain will also feature a day/night transition effects as the weekend gears up for 2014's spectacular night race.</p> <p>There will also be a new 'Very Easy' difficulty option, plus a new feature that recognises a player's skill automatically and tunes the game difficulty to match. If you live and breathe F1 (figuratively), you can still choose your own options to give yourself a decent challenge.</p> <p>There's currently no mention of the 'classic' content that made last year's game so memorable, but it's still early days. The screenshots on the following slides look spectacular, so click on through to see how the game is shaping up. And don't worry, the new-gen version will be here sooner than it feels.</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> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 04:10:00 -0700 Dead Island is like a stealthy, tropical Dead Space <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Before you say anything, yes--there are currently three Dead Island games in development. <a href="" target="new">Dead Island 2</a> is the continuation of the main series, DI: Epidemic is the MOBA spin-off, and Escape Dead Island is coming to PS3, 360, and PC this fall. So what makes this Dead Island different from the rest? A lot, actually: it's third-person, cel-shaded, primarily stealth-based, and extremely trippy. As in, not-sure-whether-or-not-this-is-real trippy. <p>Rather than a first-person zombie slash-'em-up, Escape Dead Island takes a surreal survival-horror approach, with an emphasis on exploration. After a shipwreck, you wake up as Cliff Calo, a young videographer hoping to find out what happened after the zombie outbreak on Banoi (as seen in the original DI). Only, something is very wrong with Calo's mind--he seems to be drifting in and out of reality, reliving the same day in a constant loop but retaining the gear he finds strewn about the island of Narapela. Calo's weakening grip on sanity mirrors Isaac Clark's trauma in Dead Space; he’s a lone everyman in radio contact with his friends, forced to face hordes of freakish zombies all by himself. The core of the Dead Island experience--a hellish zombie apocalypse in a gorgeous tropical setting--is here, but Deep Silver's Will Powers says the game is more in line with a "<i>Groundhog Day</i> meets <i>Memento</i>" kind of mysterious, cerebral horror. <p>The concept definitely has me intrigued--and with the unpredictable insanity sequences (where Calo starts seeing everything in red, black, and white), object-based exploration, and a colorful cel-shaded look, it reminds me of another 2014 release I'm stoked for: <a href="" target="new">D4</a>. Escape Dead Island is said to offer 18 hours of strictly single-player content, all at the budget price of $40. Sounds like the kind of creepy mind trip I could get into. <p><b>Check out the following screenshots for additional info!</b></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption>Sometimes he might randomly hear his friends telling him to kill himself after ordinary bits of dialogue, or he'll answer a ringing phone only to be screamed at by the (quite possibly imaginary) person on the other end.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption>There's no character crossover, but these events all take place in the same world.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption>From the looks of it, Calo gets separated from them very early on in the plot.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption>Stealth kills using makeshift weapons--like a screwdriver to a zombie's neck--cause tons of bright red blood to spray all over the place.</caption> </div> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 06:31:43 -0700