GamesRadar - Xbox One Features, 30 Jan 2015 14:00:00 -08008 enemy archetypes that are way cooler than zombies <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>If I see <i>one more</i> game that pits you against a horde of zombies, I'm going to scream. And with the way things are going, it'll be less than a week before I've shredded my vocal cords down to tissue-paper thinness with my constant shrieks of anguish. So often, developers seem content to fall back on such a limited subset of cliched enemies - mainly things like zombies, robots, super-soldiers, aliens, or hellspawn. And with so much oversaturation of these popular baddie archetypes, all those demons, extraterrestrials, and undead now feel about as menacing as an elderly Wal-Mart greeter. <p>It's time we got some more variety, don't you think? Pitting the player against an unfamiliar kind of opposition can be a risk, but when it pays off, the results are memorable at worst and ingenious at best. So whaddya say, game devs: why not give these underused antagonist themes a try? Maybe one day, they'll have been reused so many times that zombies could - miracle of miracles - actually feel fresh again. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Cthulhu may be H.P. Lovecraft's <a href="" target="new">most iconic creation</a> - but that dude had so much more to give in the 'deeply disturbing imagery' department. Take the human-fish hybrids that populate the fictional town of Innsmouth. This breed of bad guy is essentially a two-for-one deal: they start out as increasingly disfigured cultists, eventually degrading into full-on aquatic mutants. How are they created, you ask? Simple: generations of ungodly breeding between mankind and ancient, underwater creatures called Deep Ones! <p>Something about that transition from physically repulsive villager to bipedal sushi monster makes them so much more terrifying than your average supernatural aberration. Imagine walking in on a disheveled figure huddled in a corner, who spins around as you draw near to reveal bulging, glassy eyes, webbed hands, and gills forming from the oily creases in their neck fat. I'd take that over yet another reanimated, bloody-mouthed corpse any day! <p><b>The current gold standard:</b> Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Sure, plenty of video game heroes can recount stories of how they single-handedly foiled an alien invasion, or killed the Devil himself in his own lair. But how many can claim that they were attacked by a sentient sign post? Or got jumped by a Scalding Coffee Cup that burned their flesh with psionic fire powers? I imagine that being suddenly assaulted by an everyday object is at once hilarious and terrifying. Wouldn't it just be so silly if a fire hydrant developed the urge to kill you? And can you imagine the pain of a nozzle cap, propelled by a jetstream of high-pressure water, slamming directly into your skull? <p>If I walked around a game world only to be accosted by random bits of scenery, I'd probably laugh at the absurdity of it all. But if done correctly, that kind of uncertainty could make every environment feel like it's out to get you. Is that gas station pump looking at me funny? Did those paintings just move? And how did that charred, smoking corpse end up next to an ordinary looking electric guitar? <p><b>The current gold standard:</b> Earthbound</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You've got to be at least a little crazy to don tights and a snazzy mask, oil yourself up, then jump from the tops of tall posts onto another person's body. So what happens when you take that kind of eccentric individual and give them assault rifles and rocket launchers? Fun. Insane, anarchic, highly explosive fun. Luchadores earn their reputations based on showmanship and impressive stunts, so only the finest gun tricks and snazzy trickshots will suffice. Plus, they're always able to tag in a buddy if the fight's not going their way, forcing you to adapt to uneven odds. <p>If nothing else, the vibrant, eye-catching attire of the average luchadore can add a splash of color to even the dingiest environment. And while making enemies with these masked wrestlers is incredibly hazardous to your health, luchadores are very honorable opponents (provided they're not heels). If you can impress them with your fighting spirit, you just might make an ally out of your adversary. <p><b>The current gold standard:</b> Saints Row: The Third</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>As any introspective shooter fan will tell you, even the noblest of video game heroes can be classified as a mass murderer (yes, I'm talking about <i>you</i>, Nathan Drake). It sometimes makes you wonder if that gun-wielding guard had a family, or those squealing Grunts you just plasma-sliced developed brotherly bonds during their years of basic training. But what if you could slaughter all those virtual villains completely guilt-free? After all, it's much tougher to feel remorseful when the guy you're strangling to death is a murderous psychopath with a flair for the sadistic. He practically had it coming! <p>Which feels more righteous to you: gunning down a misguided insurgent in a third-world country, or ending the carnage of a convicted killer by taking his life before even more are lost? I'd go with the latter, personally. And if these particularly nasty criminals like to outfit themselves in freakish outfits, so much the better! People who wear bloodstained masks 24/7 or tattoo the word 'KILL' all over their bodies typically don't have much luck in polite society, anyway. <p><b>The current gold standard:</b> Manhunt</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Fighting against sickness is a concept that's rarely touched on in games, usually reserved for the occasional poison debuff, <a href="" target="new">malaria infection</a>, or the insurmountably heavy subject matter of an <a href="" target="new">indie game</a>. But it's so much easier to battle something when you can put a face to it and call it your sworn enemy. You know those <a href="" target="new">Giant Microbes</a> plushies that are all the rage with hip, science-conscious collectors these days? Why not take some inspiration from those designs and make an entire action game of the microscopic battles that rages in all of our bodies? <p>Enemy designs could either go full cutesy, like the impish Viruses of Dr. Mario, terrifying and abstract, like the twisted aberrations of The Evil Within, or just true to life (have you <i>seen</i> <a href=" target="new">spirochaetes</a>?). It certainly makes more sense that there'd be waves upon waves of infectious, replicating germs attacking you, rather than grunts who are all too willing to throw themselves in front of your crosshairs, or zombie hordes that seem to outnumber the pre-outbreak population. <p><b>The current gold standard:</b> Dr. Mario</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Here's the opposite side of the sickness coin: afflictions that take place not in our organs, but in our minds. Our innermost fears, insecurities, and emotional anguish can be the basis for some truly inspired enemy designs - yet so few games try to tackle the idea of giving physical form to psychological suffering. When the player is given the freedom to make their own associations for what could possibly explain the atrocity that's standing in front of them, the game world feels that much more rich and alive. <p>When you know that your own mental projections are the basis for all the horrors you encounter, it's a brilliant invitation to deconstruct the character you're playing as. When done right, this type of enemy can tell you so much more about your protagonist than a canned cutscene or audio log ever could. 'Show, don't tell', they always say - and showing the player <a href="" target="new">a look into the main character's subconscious</a> is so much more disturbing than just another scary, gory monster. <p><b>The current gold standard:</b> Silent Hill 2</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Trying to turn precious, huggable critters into primary antagonists typically hasn't done so hot in the past - just look at Naughty Bear or Fur Fighters. But robots and cyborg super-soldiers are so passe. Why not follow in the footsteps of Dr. Robotnik and simply combine the two? It's utterly diabolical - take piglets, baby chicks, squirrels, and all manner of adorable animal, then stuff them into the heart of a metal monstrosity to act as a living power source. These so called 'Badniks' create quite the dilemma: would you risk harming the innocent creatures imprisoned in these mechanized terrors? How do you fight the unwilling enemies that you're actively trying to save? <p>Of course, Sonic games let you off the hook, clearly showing each animal being freed and happily bouncing off the screen whenever you reduce a Badnik to scrap metal. But what if another game didn't make the choice so easy? I don't know if I could bring myself to dismantle a metal-toothed piranha if it meant crushing the baby duckling inside. <p><b>The current gold standard:</b> Sonic the Hedgehog 2</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Of all the suggestions on this list, this is the one I'm rooting for the hardest. Twisted theme parks and dark carnivals crop up all throughout the gaming kingdom, and evil clowns have some pretty good representation as their requisite enemies. But mascots-turned-psychopaths are so woefully scarce, given how much they have to offer as menacing villains. That blank, unblinking stare; a smile so wide as to be painful; the exaggerated, grimy features of something not quite human but too disheveled to be a cartoon. Somewhere behind that unfeeling foam mask is a tormented, demented individual - but you'd never know it just by looking at them. <p>Mascots gone mad are disturbing in much the same way as clowns: their unflinchingly happy image is meant to delight children, but to see their true, flawed selves would shatter the illusion. So they buy into the persona of the costume they've now accepted as their new body, suppressing their own hardships and misery as they struggle to remain true to the character. Eventually, something deep within their psyche is going to snap. If that kind of tortured existence doesn't make for a compelling villain, I don't know what will. <p><b>The current gold standard:</b> Dead Rising 2</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Oh, and there will always be a place in my heart for more virtual, bloodthirsty sharks (like the frightening ones in Depth, pictured above). I'm curious: which enemy types do you think are criminally underused in gaming? Can you think of something so radically unique that no game has ever attempted it before? Give a holler in the comments section below! <p><b><i>And if I were you, I'd read these hand-picked articles next: <a href="" target="new">12 ways your favorite game characters will actually die</a> and <a href="" target="new">The most ludicrously impractical fighting game weapons</a>.</p></b></i></caption> </div> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:00:00 -0800 Project CARS&#39; realism actually makes it more fun, 30 Jan 2015 08:55:41 -0800 times I slacked off instead of being a hero in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>“You'd better hold onto your promises,” sang the Cranberries in 1999, almost certainly referencing the bold claims CD Projekt RED would make 15 years later in the lead up to hugely anticipated RPG <a href="" target="_blank">The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt</a>. Every game talks the talk these days: open world this, rich narrative that, movie-like graphics the other. But The Witcher 3's different: its open world appears full of stuff you'd actually be interested in, its story continues from a masterful narrative thread woven by The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. And it's not the worst-looking game out there either, is it?</p> <p>CD Projekt knows how to do grown-up fantasy. There isn't a bright green tear in the sky above hero Geralt of Rivia signalling an impending doom. There <i>is</i> magic, sure, but the troubles of the land he inhabits are products of political power struggles, of characters with motivations and fears. Which means its much-touted open world is a pretty immersive place. Finally getting hands-on with the game, I became so immersed that I regularly forgot I was supposed to be checking off quests and instead found myriad ways to arse about. These are they.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Remember that unspeakably awful teenage moment when you were watching a movie with your parents and a sex scene came on? I do, because that exact same feeling washes over me as the camera pulls slowly up on Geralt of Rivia having a lovely bath, <i>sans</i> clothes, in the opening scene. And who's that? Oh, it's love interest Yennefer, also starkers, reclining on a chaise lounge. Behind me, I can feel the eyes of several CD Projekt developers. Watching. Judging. Should I be looking appreciatively at the lingering bum shots so as not to cause offence? Or will that make me look like some kind of deviant? <i>What's the protocol here?</i></p> <p>The more pertinent question is probably this: does the scene create a sense of intimacy with its principal characters, or is it wafer-thin titillation? Well, the camera gives more attention to Yennefer than Geralt, but you could argue that's a cinematic convention as much as anything. It's probably a bit of both; an assertion of adult tone with a faint whiff of the tacky. Undeterred, I robe up and leave my tent of debauchery for the wider world.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>A crash course in Witcher lore: long ago, the gods let magic into the unnamed continent on which the games (and, prior to that, Andrzej Sapkowski's novels) are set. Normality was never quite restored, and unearthly beasts still roam the wilds. Through some form of arcane ritual, beings like your good self are born with magical powers and not-quite-human properties. Ciri is one such, carrying in her some powerful magic that's much coveted by The Wild Hunt, a collective who owe a bit to LOTR's Ringwraiths.</p> <p>Phew. That goes some way to explaining why Geralt is training young Ciri up with such gusto. She needs top-notch blade skills to defend herself from the Wild Hunt, and the best way to gain those skills is apparently to spar with training dummies on tiny raised platforms beside a cliff while blindfolded. And doing backflips. She appears pretty good at it to the layman's eye, but Geralt isn't happy. He chastises her like only a white-haired, flame-eyed magical mutant can. Before you go phoning Childline though, remember he's doing it to protect her, really. The softie.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>I'd try to explain the exact passage of events that lead me to this point, an enormous grizzly bearing down on me (terrible pun intended) amidst the upturned tables and gore of what was once a jolly feast, but I'd be here until the game's out (May 19th, since you ask). The salient facts are these: I was attending a hearty banquet on the norse/celtic flavoured archipelago of Skellige, having my back slapped by enormous men with northern Irish accents and marvelling at genuinely one of the highest detail interior scenes I've ever witnessed in a game – people danced on tables, food and drink spilling everywhere, diffuse lighting effects giving the windows a wondrous glow. I stepped downstairs to talk politics with someone, and then...</p> <p>Then the bears showed up. Three or four of them. Slaughtered the whole banquet hall in seconds, leaving nothing of the feast or its patrons except what I choose to believe is strawberry jam splattered everywhere. Their mighty bear paws deal huge damage, so I keep my distance, casting the Igni sign to whittle away their health before cleaning up with a silver sword. Great night.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Tell me the very first thing you do in an open world game isn't galloping off to the furthest point from your starting location just to see what happens on the way. Go on. See? We're so in sync. That's my first move, calling upon my horse and attempting to leave the sleepy autumnal village in which the prologue begins behind for some darker, deadlier climes. Since enemies don't scale in The Witcher 3, I've every chance of running into impossibly powerful foes. But hang on – I reach a certain point on the map, not all that fair from said sleepy village, and am unceremoniously teleported back within some invisible confines. Horrors!</p> <p>'Witcher 3 not open world after all!' I imagine myself typing, and subsequently breaking the internet, before a developer patiently explains that the prologue area is closed off in this way to maintain narrative focus for a bit before you're let loose into the game proper. Placated, I explore within those confines and see a tremendous amount of environmental variation even in that space. Rolling hills. Crop fields. Hamlets build near the river. A foreboding Nilfgaardian fortress. Alright, Witcher 3. You get away with that one.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>There's a fine tradition in RPGs of dicking around in bars when you should be saving the world, and The Witcher may just offer the widest array of procrastination. Not only does it strongly hint at the return of bare-knuckle boxing from TW2, but introduces a new pub pastime in the form of a Hearthstone-aping card game.</p> <p>It doesn't work exactly like Blizzard's time sink, though. Instead you and your opponent are both trying to fill a number of columns with the most attack points using a limited, non-replenishing deck of cards. I'll level with you – I still don't completely understand it, and I spend longer than a monster hunter should losing precious coins to the bar fly who introduced me to it. I almost won once. I <i>think</i>. As with Pazaak from BioWare's KOTOR games, there's a long-term collectible element, so merchants across the land will stock rare and powerful cards with which to bolster your deck. For a price. What's that, mate? Town being pillaged? In a minute, I think I've nearly got a handle on this...</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Witcher lore top-up course: humans don't exactly welcome Geralt and his kind with open arms, despite their proclivity for ridding the lands of dangerous critters. As you walk through the open world you're subject to considerable prejudice, sometimes in the form of a comment uttered under someone's breath as you walk past. Sometimes in the form of three stacked dudes waiting outside the pub you've spent all afternoon playing cards in to pulp your mutant ass.</p> <p>I could take the high road here and run away from them. I could trap them with my Yrden sign and make a break for it while they're slowed. I could even charm them with my Axii magic. But – no. It's my magical abilities they fear and hate me for in the first place. Resorting to those signs will only reinforce that negative stereotype and proliferate my reputation as untrustworthy. Instead, I punch them all in the head until they die, leaving the scene with my pride intact and my moral compass bearing due right. Be the change you want to see.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>One thing The Witcher games do better than anybody else – late '90s era Black Isle excluded – is write meaning, purpose, and plausibility into the most inconsequential side quest. Here's the barebones of one such optional mission I pick up: talk to a man, visit a well, look at some blood, fight a boss, talk to the man again. Standard.</p> <p>But it's the narrative stuffing which separates CD Projekt's work. I'm talking to the man in the first place because I've heard his village can't find a clean water supply since a battle took place upstream from its supplying river and the casualties keep washing down in the current. I've already been to that battlefield, so it makes sense to me. The well used to service the settlement in desperate times, but it's since become haunted. I visit it to discover the remnants of a murder scene from long ago using my Witcher vision (think focus mode), and that gives me hints as to how to make the imminent boss fight easier. Even with the quest wrapped up, there are later dialogue options which let me learn more about the murder when I chat to certain characters. So. Much. Depth.</p> </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Very early on in my playthrough it becomes apparent that the surrounding area has a bit of a Griffin problem. My sleuthing instincts are first awoken when one savages a local farmer and his hay cart, flying off with an entire horse between its talons as if it were a mere vole.</p> <p>However, I'm at the very beginning of the prologue, which means I'm levelled up to the approximate ferocity of Richard Hammond and – stop me if I've mentioned this – enemies don't scale. That Griffin isn't going to play nice just because I choose to take it on at the very start of the game, before exploring any side quests, making any potions or finding any better equipment. I take the only logical course and decide to investigate literally every other quest line first, scything down Dredgers who are terrorising a local farmhouse, banishing a Noonwraith from the haunted well, collecting disgusting bits of magical enemies for local alchemists, and popping back in the pub to see if I can't get my head around that card game. That's the plus side of enemies existing at a fixed level (which is visible on your HUD, an unlikely similarity with Destiny) – you can potter about doing odd jobs, then return to annihilate them later.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Moral ambiguity – the cornerstone of any good RPG yarn worth unfurling. This chap's the very embodiment of that. He's a Nilfgaardian warlord with whom I must pester for details on a certain character's (who I won't name) disappearance, and when I find him he's shaking down a local peasant for a share of his village's grain. “How much grain can you give?” he asks the peasant.</p> <p>It transpires that some Temerians already raided the village of grain, but the peasant reckons they can give forty bushels, max. “You will give thirty,” says the warlord. So, he's a good guy for letting him off lightly, or a bad guy for extorting them in the first place, or... I don't know. What's important is that he's interesting. “Look at my hands!” he says. “See the calluses? These are not the hands of an excellency but a farmer. So we speak peasant to peasant.” It's characters like him by which an open world RPG lives and dies, they get you to care about your surroundings more than grass density or tree bark fidelity. Which are both top-drawer, incidentally.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's surprising how familiar The Witcher 3's core mechanics feel to its predecessor, but they also feel expanded and refined where it counts. Combat is subject to plenty of new animations which give Geralt newfound litheness, but its basic principles of dodging, blocking, parrying and spellcasting remain. It's in the open world where the true novelty lies, both for the series and the genre – we simply haven't seen a space this detailed, technically or narratively, before.</p> <p><strong><i>Want more Witcher 3 info? Here's a guide to <a href="" target="_blank">Killing Monsters In The Game</a>. Not for you? Here are the <a href="" target="_blank">100 Most Anticipated Games Of 2015</a>, then.</i></strong></p></caption> </div> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 02:14:54 -0800 brings the telekinetic smackdown in Mortal Kombat X <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's always nice to see a familiar face - something that Netherrealm Studios is keenly aware of judging by the <a href="" target="new">Mortal Kombat X</a> roster. The newest character to be announced for MK's tenth outing is Ermac, the green-eyed bundle of souls who just loves picking fools up and slamming them down (with his <i>mind</i>). <p>Ermac was revealed on a recent <a href="" target="_blank">livestream</a> hosted by developer NetherRealm. Based on the footage shown, it seems many of his iconic moves will be making a come back, including his teleportation- and telekinetic-based attacks. And just like the other MKX warriors, Ermac will have three fighting variants to choose from. These variants can either enhance his projectiles, telekinetic attacks, or give Ermac the ability of flight. To find out who else has made the cut, <b>read on to find out who else is in the Mortal Kombat X roster</b> before its release this April.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>These guys and gals will definitely be in Mortal Kombat X.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>This red-clad ninja might not be as iconic as Sub-Zero or Scorpion, but it's hard not to love Ermac for his ability to lift up opponents and slam them into the ground with nothing more than the power of his mind. Rather than fighting as an individual like the other Kombatants, Ermac is actually an amalgamation of lost souls channeled into one host body, which explains all his supernatural, Sith-like powers of telekinesis and powerful blasts of green energy.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Reptile has always lived in the shadow of the other Mortal Kombat fighters, but he recently got his very own trailer for Mortal Kombat X. Originally a hybrid of Sub-Zero and Scorpion’s fighting styles, Reptile can vomit acid, camouflage himself, and fire a green energy ball - all of which he demonstrated in the trailer. He also has a pretty nasty throw involving his long, prehensile tongue, something he never used <i>enough</i> in older games. It remains to be seen what Reptile's three variant styles will be, but we'll be sure to add that information here when it becomes available.</p> </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Kitana is the Princess of Edenia, and - despite her appearance - is 10,000 years old. She was at first loyal to her stepfather, Shao Kahn, but later made an enemy of him upon leaving Edenia. Kitana also holds something of a romance with Liu Kang, even after his murder. She attacks using her steel fans, slicing foes by throwing them across the stage. She’s just as deadly without them too, opting for sharp punches and flying kicks when her fans are at rest. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Liu Kang's maybe-cousin is best known for his giant razor-rimmed hat, which he can toss around like a boomerang or use to bisect his foes (preferably from the groin up). In Mortal Kombat X, it looks like he'll be grated even more space control thanks to his sharp-rimmed headgear. Kung Lao also fights on the side of good, preferring pacifism to aggression - though you'd never know it from watching him in action. Like Liu Kang, Kung Lao is trained in the ways of Shaolin and hails from the White Lotus Society.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You might remember this stark-white, Kratos-looking sorcerer from such games as Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, but he actually originated in the <i>Defenders of the Realm</i> animated series. Being a master of the dark arts, Quan Chi's three movesets show off his necromancy powers in full effect. There's Warlock, which opens up portals for extra avenues of attack, Summoner, where Quan Chi calls a freakin' Netherrealm Bat to fight as his side, and Sorcerer, which allows space control through buff/debuff fields. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Hmm, something about this young lady that feels oddly familiar... Yes, Cassie Cage appears to be the daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, two of the few survivors of the last Mortal Kombat. And Cassie plays like a combination of those two veterans, with Sonya's agility and propensity for firearms mixed in Johnny Cage's pompous swagger. She also inherited Johnny's love of hitting people in the groin, as she is equipped with multiple hits below the belt. In fact, her X-Ray Move involving ruptured testicles might be the queasiest attack in the game.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Raiden's back, baby! If you didn't know, this almighty God of Thunder is responsible for keeping all of Earthrealm safe from the forces of evil. He acts as a guiding light for the other Kombatants who wish to see Shao Kahn dethroned, sometimes stepping into the ring against lesser mortals to get the job done. As a god, Raiden controls the powers of electricity, able to teleport, fly short distances, and set up lightning traps around the stage. In MKX, he might have the most grisly Fatality yet: charging his dazed enemy with such a surge of energy that their eyes pop out of their heads, electric-chair style.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>This character’s surname would suggest a relationship to Shao Kahn, and Kotal certainly fights with an intensity similar to Shao’s. Though Kotal is much more reminiscent of an Aztec god, particularly with his enjoyment of bloodletting and devouring hearts. Several of Kotal’s moves involves drinking blood for power, whether his own or his enemy’s. His love of gore is at its height during his Fatality, as he cuts out his opponent’s heart in a ceremonial style, then pours the blood all over his face. To each their own, huh?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>If Scorpion were to write a memoir, it'd probably be titled "To Hell and Back Again." That's because this yellow-clad ninja was murdered by Sub-Zero, banishing Scorpion to the Netherrealm (the MK universe's equivalent to Hades) where he became a vengeful specter. Think of Scorpion as the archetypal anti-hero; he's not outright evil, but he has no qualms with killing anyone who gets in his way.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption>Yeah, Goro's in the game. Well, technically, he's a four-armed pre-order bonus, but whatever. This walking advert for Maximuscle has been in Mortal Kombat since the beginning, and is seen by some as a bit of a cheat character. Given the savage nature of other confirmed characters, and the bloody creativity they show in some of their movesets, we imagine Goro will finally be on a level-footing. We'd bet every penny we own on his finishing moves involving him physically ripping enemies to pieces with his massive arms. Something for the whole family to enjoy, then... </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Who here saw <i>Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome</i> and wished that the Master Blaster character was in a fighting game? Because that pretty much sums up Ferra and Torr, two characters that play as one. Torr is the massive bruiser that can steamroll right over you, while Ferra will often dive into the fray with some quick, precise stabs. They’re a really fun combo, but what brought this pair together? Hopefully we’ll find out everything in the story mode. Oh, and don't worry: Ferra isn't a child, just a really, really tiny woman.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Of all the new characters, D’Vorah might be the one most at home in Netherrealm’s previous game, Injustice. This fierce woman is an odd human/insect hybrid that can command hordes of wasps and larva to do her bidding. And under that cloak of hers are sets of wings and devastating pincers used to stab kombatants in their most vulnerable places. But where does she hale from? Could she be the leader of some previously unseen insect kingdom in Outworld?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The yin to Scorpion's yang, Sub-Zero is a skilled assassin who hails from the Lin Kuei clan of ninjas. Sub-Zero is actually the persona of two different warriors: Bi-Han, who is killed by Scorpion in the first Mortal Kombat tournament, and his younger brother Kuai Liang, who took up the Sub-Zero mantle and swore vengeance on Scorpion. Sub-Zero wields the power of ice, able to freeze his opponents solid or create patches of frost at will.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>These characters are likely to be included in MKX's roster, but there's no official word from NetherRealm Studios as of yet.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Here's the everyman hero of MK--an incorruptible warrior with the power to shoot fireballs from his hands and kick through the air as if gravity doesn't exist. Sound like any other fighting game frontman you've heard of? Liu Kang is a little like the Shaolin version of Goku, in that he's saved his world countless times and come back from the dead even more frequently. The evil sorcerer Shang Tsung is Liu Kang's primary adversary.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>When you die after a life of cold-blooded assassinations, do you rest in peace? No--you come back as a shadowy phantom eager to do even more killing. Noob Saibot is actually the reincarnation of the original Sub-Zero, his soul now fully corrupted after decades of torment in the Netherrealm. His Ghost Ball attack can totally disable the opponent's attacks, and he's just as adept at teleporting strikes as Scorpion. And for you trivia fans out there, yes, his name is backwards reference to MK's co-creators Ed Boon and John Tobias.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Originally a clone of Kitana, Mileena holds a grudge against her blue-clothed counterpart. Created by Shang Tsung, she wants nothing more than to rid the realm of Edenia of its princess. She hides a hideous mouth of fangs under her facial garb, which she uses to tear the flesh from her enemies after leaping onto their necks. Other attacks include teleporting kicks and a tuck-and-roll. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Given that Mortal Kombat X will be coming to new-gen, this is an incredible opportunity to show off the power of PS4 and Xbox One with this obese drunkard. His belly-jiggling physics could be more disturbing than ever, and upgraded particle effects would let you actually <i>see</i> the chunks of last night's dinner in Bo Rai Cho's projectile vomit attack. Not to mention...OK, in all seriousness, we hope to never see this oaf in another Mortal Kombat game again.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Those are the fighters we hope make it into Mortal Kombat X--and in the coming months, we're sure to find out more about the game's roster. Do you have any favorites you want to see in MKX? Tell us about it in the comments below! <p><b><i>And if you're looking for more, check out the full <a href="" target="new">Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS roster</a>.</p></b></i></caption> </div> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:34:10 -0800 manuals are dead, but I’m sure going to miss them, 29 Jan 2015 13:00:34 -0800 Tournament is a Pokemon battle unlike anything you&#39;ve seen <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Pokken Tournament, which has so far only been announced for Japanese arcades, is a Pokemon-only fighting game from the house of Tekken, Gundam Extreme Vs., and all those Naruto fighters. Similar to those games, Pokken is a 3D fighter, combining close-range melee combat, projectiles, and what appears to be some character customization as well. </p><p> So far, only a handful of characters (and videos) have been released, but even from those small snippets there is still a lot to be unpacked. Obviously, the most exciting inclusions are the characters, six of which have been shown thus far. If you want to find out who they are, <b>read on and find out who's in Pokken Tournament</b>. I've also included a few suggestions of my own who I think would make interesting additions to the roster.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It should come as no surprise that fan-favorite Lucario, the aura Pokemon, has been announced as one of the first Pokemon to join the Pokken lineup. Having already been featured in the Super Smash Bros. series, Lucario can be seen using some of the same attacks in the footage released thus far - including its iconic aura sphere projectile. Lucario's mega evolution has also been shown.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Machamp doesn't have the wide-spread of love of Lucario or Pikachu, but as one of the original fighting-type Pokemon, it deserves a slot on the roster. Personally, I believe Machamp's inclusion was largely because the developers wanted an attack that looks like <a href="" target="_blank">this</a>, which it totally has. Machamp also has a spinning lariat similar to Zangief's from the Street Fighter series, however it does not appear to have any projectile attacks.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>While images of Blaziken in Pokken have been floating around the internet, there does not appear to by an footage of its fighting style just yet. However, one could speculate that, given the stance Blaziken takes after its mega evolution, this Pokemon could easily be fitted with a Muay Thai fighting style. Plus, developer Namco Bandai has experience in this field with its Tekken series, specifically the fighter Bruce Irvin.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Suicune, the first legendary shown in Pokken, is a long-range, projectile heavy fighter. In one especially devastating match again Machamp, Suicune successfuly keeps the close-range brawler at bay by filling the screen with all manner of energy beams and shockwave attacks. And while it does appear to have <i>some</i> melee attacks involving its two, rippon-esque tails, these attacks appear to be more of a last resort.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Similar to Suicune, Gardevoir is also a long-range fighter who relies primarily on projectile attacks. And of the Pokemon shown thus far, Gardevoir is the only one labeled in-game as a 'technique' fighter (the others being either 'power' or 'standard' fighters). This would imply it's one of the more difficult Pokemon to use. Based on the footage shown so far, Gardevoir's go-to attack is an air projectile that splits into several different homing missiles.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It just wouldn't (and likely <i>couldn't</i>) be a Pokemon game without Pikachu. Fresh off its latest stint in the Super Smash Bros. circuit, Pikachu now finds itself facing down a new roster of challengers in Pokken. Its fighting style combines several long-range, lighting-based projectiles with some high-speed dash attacks to help it zip around the arena. No word yet, however, on whether or not all those cosplay options will be available.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>So far, the Pokken roster has been comprised of (mostly) bipedal, humanoid Pokemon. Here are some potential Pokken candidates who would break that mold while offering interesting fighting styles for players.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Ditto would force mirror matches, meaning it would transform itself into whatever Pokemon your opponent is playing. In addition, I think it's safe to assume Pokken will have <i>some sort</i> of character customization, be it custom attacks, custom stats, a leveling system, or all three. Ditto could copy those under-the-hood changes as well, and let players test-drive custom characters from other players. This could provide valuable insight into new strategies and tactics player may not have thought of on their own.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Vespidquen would be an interesting inclusion because of its ability to command lesser swarms of Combees. In the Pokemon games, it can command her minions to either protect it, attack its enemies, or even heal it. This would be a fun mechanic to play with in a fighting game, giving Vespidquen three different 'modes' to switch between (attack, defend, heal). The Combees could provide a simple, passive buff (+10% attack in attack mode) or be controlled independently of the queen as a secondary character.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You want to talk creative challenges? Try making Arbok into a fighting game character. It's got no arms and legs, only a creepy snake body and a creepier Cobra-like face. Even so, I think there's still some fun to be had in designing its slinking, slithering movements. Arbok could coil around its opponents and spit up acidic projectiles from afar. And don't forget about those deadly fangs. And thanks to the TV series, Arbok is one of the more recognizable Pokemon, especially in the under-appreciated Poison-type category.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>There aren't a lot of great candidates when it comes to Flying-type Pokemon. Swellow? Braviary? Talonflame? Actually, Talonflame <i>would</i> be pretty sweet, but not as sweet as the mack daddy of them all, Ho-oh. I'd put Ho-oh right up there with Suicune as one of the more majestic-looking legendaries, and the fact that it's a flier gives Ho-oh an interesting way to move around the battlefield. Couple that with the fire typing, and this Pokemon has a very aggressive pool of attacks to choose from in a fight.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>In the Pokemon games, Aegislash can switch between can switch between offensive and defensive stances. This mechanic would obviously translate easily into the realm of fighting games. In its attack stance, Aegislash would be a quick and nimble brawler that's in your face all the time. When it switches to its defensive stance, Aegislash then becomes a distance fighter who fires projectiles from its shield. Two stances, two fighting styles, one interesting Pokemon to play.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Starmie basically looks like a giant throwing star, so its transition into the realm of fighting games should be an easy one. It would spin and bounce and basically zip all over the place, all while damaging opponents on contact. This could be complemented with some tricky psionic attacks that could disrupt your opponent and open it up to another spiky barrage.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Alright, that's enough character speculation out of me. What do you all think? Who would you like to see join the Pokken lineup? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below, and keep an eye on this page for all the latest Pokken character announcements. </p> <b><i>There's plenty more Pokemon fun to be had on GR+. Check out <a href="" target="_blank">The most disturbing Pokemon of all time</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Top 7... Weirdest theories about the Pokemon universe</a>.</b></i></p></caption> </div> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:00:01 -0800 ways your favorite game characters will actually die <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Video game characters can live through just about anything. Actually, what I mean to say is that video game characters can <i>die</i> through just about anything, but they'll always come back. Doesn't matter if they're shot up, torn to pieces, or even plummet into a bottomless pit, they'll reappear within seconds to take another crack at their objective. There's one important caveat, though: they still die <i>sometimes</i>, usually when it's the end of a trilogy (or it's time for a reboot). <p>So the only conclusion I can draw here is that video game characters will only die under <i>very specific circumstances</i>. These almost never come up throughout the course of a game, so naturally they almost never die. What exactly are these fatal circumstances for your favorite characters? Well, I'm glad you asked, because I happen to have assembled a slide deck for just this occasion...</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>This one's obvious. Just because Snake's managed to outlast some half-dozen armed uprisings, a gaggle of super-powerful military robots, and a virus that was genetically engineered to kill his clone doesn't mean he can sneak by the third-leading cause of death in the world. That's right, the legendary soldier will be felled by <a href="" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease</a>. Why not lung cancer? I'm thinking all those nanomachines in his blood probably know how to seek and destroy malignant tumors, given his frequent exposure to radioactive weaponry. Nope, thanks to his pack-a-day habit, he'll just cough his way into oblivion.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Compare Cloud Strife's outfit in Final Fantasy 7 to his outfit in Advent Children. Go ahead, I'll wait. Did you spot the difference? Aside from dropping that radical bolted shoulder plate, I mean. Yep - <i>no more weightlifting belt</i>. Shinra was smart enough to make a lifting belt part of the standard SOLDIER uniform. After all, if you're going to have your elite paramilitary force swinging around swords that weigh <i>literally hundreds</i> of pounds, you'd better look after their lower backs. But it looks like Cloud got cocky after he struck out on his own. I give it five years before his vertebrae explode like popcorn kernels and he drops dead.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>We don't know much about sexually transmitted diseases from before the Renaissance, since medicine wasn't really a big deal back then. So I can't say with certainty which STDs the Spartan warrior Kratos would be most likely to contract thousands of years ago. I'll go with the safe answer and postulate <i>all of those available at the time</i>. Kratos can't go half an hour without ending up in bed with a handful of comely ladies, and I have no reason to assume that his many lovers are any more selective about their partners than he is. So assuming Kratos survives his perpetually uncertain fate, he'll still drop dead of the ancient Grecian equivalent of syphilis.... after his junk shrivels up and falls off.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Despite saving both Hyrule and Termina, no one else would ever sing of Link's most heroic exploits. That's the problem with grand quests to set timelines back in order - if you do your job right, you're the only one who knows you did it. So Link wanders around feeling unfulfilled. As he gets older, he takes to picking fights in taverns to prove his skill in combat. Forgetful from drinking, he doesn't remember to stock up on fairies. He loses his last fight to a mean-looking goron and comes back a few hundred years later as the Hero's Shade, where he can at least pass his knowledge on to a new hero in green (and warn him to stay off the booze).</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>There are so many ways Amanda Ripley can die in Alien Isolation! It's a veritable buffet of fatality. She could be shot to death by a crazed scavenger, kicked to death by an android, or even have her noggin punctured by the alien's inner jaws, to name a few options. But don't worry, because I guarantee you she's going to be A-OK for <i> at least</i> the next forty years. How can I be so sure when I myself haven't actually finished Alien Isolation yet? According to the director's cut of <i>Aliens</i>, Amanda is slated to die of cancer at the age of 66. Duh.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Nothing can kill Max Payne. It's a sentiment that many of his enemies have marveled about at one time or another, but it's not true. Despite his miraculous ability to shrug off the massive bleeding and organ failure endemic to <i>being shot hundreds of times</i>, he still has one big weakness: a crippling addiction to painkillers. And yeah, he's built up so much of a resistance to the drugs over time that his body can handle enough to put down an elephant. But when he starts approaching his golden years, and the usual aches and pains of aging are amplified by ten lifetimes worth of grievous injury, he's guaranteed to go a pill too far.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Whenever one of the Kongs gets taken out, they know they can count on their partner to come along and free them from the next conveniently placed DK Barrel. You can tell this particular scheme was conceived by Donkey Kong. The brutish ape turns barrels into splinters just for kicks - so obviously it wouldn't take too long to escape from one if nobody was around to free him. But what about Diddy Kong, just as an example? Diddy has chimp strength, not gorilla strength. Leave him in a product of fine cooperage for a week or so and, well, at least you already have the coffin sorted.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Nathan Drake is near-indestructible, but he does have a certain weakness for one woman: Elena Fisher. So it's a good thing she's a pinnacle of loyalty, tenacity, and patience, always ready to help him whenever he needs it... which is a lot of the time. But even Elena's saintly patience has to break down some time. As you can see from the existence of Uncharted 4, Drake just can't stay out of the adventuring game, and he just can't stop dragging Elena into it. She knows he'll never actually die on his dangerous adventures. So there's only one way to break the cycle of bullshit: sneak up behind him while he's making breakfast and <i>break his neck</i>. He'd want to go out that way.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You know how sharks will supposedly die if they stop moving? It's not entirely true, since most species can use suction to get oxygen to their gills when they slow down. But Sonic the Hedgehog isn't one of those species - heck, he isn't a shark at all! It's easy enough to diagnose Sonic's breathing difficulties just by looking at his shiny black nose. No nostrils, see? And the way his mouth is stuck in a permanent smirk off to one side of his face means he needs to keep running super-fast to force enough life-giving breath down his misshapen airway. That little foot-tap of his isn't attitude, it's a <i>desperate plea for help</i>.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The Master Chief is unbeatable in a firefight, but it's not all skill on his part. He owes his life to his MJOLNIR powered armor suit, and, more specifically, to its regenerating shield system. It's absorbed enough firepower to scorch a small country (let's say Finland), but it always <i>fwooshes</i> back on after taking a few seconds to recharge. At least, it always does before the batteries run out. Seriously, it's a miracle it hasn't happened already, considering how much power that thing must chew up. One of these days he'll forget to plug it in before he goes to bed, and that'll be the end of John-117.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Jill Valentine's seen some shit. Regular zombies, super-zombies engineered solely to destroy her, creepy parasites in cryo-stasis; she's dealt with them all admirably. Some day she'll get to leave all the battles behind. But they'll never leave her. It's only a matter of time before some poor sleepwalker sets her into a PTSD-induced flashback, only for her to regain lucidity as she's standing over his kerosene-soaked corpse. Her lawyer will try to get her off on an insanity plea, but her reputation as a "Master of Unlocking" will be enough for the prosecution to establish a criminal history. She'll spend the rest of her life wandering around, looking for the right key to open her cell door.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Normally I'd feel bad for revealing all of these heroes' weaknesses, but to be honest, they've encountered so much pain in their action-packed lives that they probably feel downright <i>deprived</i> of the sweet release of death by now. You know of any other surefire ways to make a character croak? Let's hear it in the comments! <p><b><i>Do you thirst for ever more death and destruction? Are you OK? Alright, then why not try the <a href="" target="_blank">Top 7 doomed characters who are definitely going to die</a> and <a href="">nine healing items that would totally kill you in real life</i></b>.</caption> </div> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:00:00 -0800 out GR+&#39;s newest show: First To Five!, 29 Jan 2015 10:04:46 -0800 video shows off single-player progression <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Just because Evolve's all about those 4v1 battles doesn't mean you have to interact with your fellow humans to play it. 2K Games and Turtle Rock studios have published a lengthy new video which shows off the game's single player, which lets you try out all the same modes, maps, and characters of as in the online game... but with significantly less pressure to not cause the demise of your teammates. Or, if you're the monster, pressure to cause their demise. <p>Not only can you practice with new Hunters and Monsters in single-player mode, you can actually unlock them - all of your achievements will transfer over from offline to online and vice versa. And since your teammates are all bots on the Hunter side, you can swap between the four roles at will, making for a uniquely tactical experience. Check out the video below for more impressions from both sides of the single-player experience, and make sure you click on for more details after that.</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, 29 Jan 2015 08:12:00 -0800 Games with Gold titles are free right now? <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><i>Updated with February's free Games with Gold additions.</i> <p>Microsoft is giving away more <a href="" target="_blank">free games</a>. That is, as long as you're quick enough to snatch them up while they're available. Xbox's Games with Gold program hands out free downloadable copies of games in the Xbox 360 and Xbox One libraries, but if you miss out, you're not going to see those games for free anytime soon. <p>No one likes to miss out on free stuff, and that's why we've put together this list (that we will continually update) with all of the <a href="" target="_blank">upcoming Xbox One games</a>, 360 games, and currently available titles on Games with Gold - and all the ones you missed. So, without further nonsense, here are the free Games with Gold titles you can get right now and in the near future.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> February <p>#IDARB (you've gotta say the whole thing) is an eSport waiting to happen, with the emphasis on "e". Two teams go head-to-head in up to eight-player matches, leaping around an arena as they try to drive the ball into a goal. Sounds simple, but that's just so it can build <i>sheer mayhem</i> on top - including pixel-by-pixel character creation, massive score multipliers for good teamwork, and "hashbombs" that let Twitch broadcast viewers splash a pixelated Rick Astley over the action, among other oddities.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> February 1 to 15 <p>Inventive, clever, and heartbreaking, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was one of the grandest surprises ever to hit Xbox 360. Controlling each brother with their respective thumbstick and shoulder buttons can be a bit overwhelming at first, but you'll feel like some kind of two-brained genius when you work past its clever puzzles and dangerous encounters. And the story which weaves it all together is so heartfelt, even if you can't understand what anybody's saying.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> February 16 to 28 <p>You can change the course of a war with a single bullet. You can also change the course of a person's nervous system with a single bullet, as Sniper Elite V2 sadistically celebrates. Seriously, if you thought Mortal Kombat's X-Ray moves were gratuitous, the X-Ray kill cam's anatomical assault will take you to a new realm of sympathy winces. But hey, if you have to bounce a bullet around anybody's cranium, it might as well be a Nazi warmonger.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> January <p>Dark Dreams Don't Die (D4, get it?) is another quirky adventure title from developer Swery65 -- the creative mind behind the now cult classic Deadly Premonition. D4 keeps the same sort of tone as <i>Twin Peaks</i>-based mystery. You play as a private investigator David Young who is trying to uncover the mystery surrounding his wife's murder. David lost his memory over the ordeal, but as he progresses through the investigation he is somehow given him the power to go back in time to uncover clues and prevent the murder. Looking for a quirky and entertaining mystery to solve? D4 is where it's at.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> January 1 to 15 <p>Okay, you aren't necessarily getting as much game as you might expect with MX vs. ATV, being that much of the content is in DLC expansions. But the game does offer ups some pretty decent racing mechanics giving you independent control of your rider and vehicle with both two-wheeled dirt bikes and the quad ATVs. With a dozen tracks and plenty of bikes and quads to earn, MX vs. ATV is definitely worth a shot.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available: </b>January 16 to 31 <p>This is your chance to catch up on the adventures of the White Wolf before the The Witcher 3 launches later this year. The Witcher 2 continues the story of the amnesiac Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, as he embarks on a quest to clear his name of regicide. Not a crime that you'd want to be accused of. Geralt will have to explore the monster-infested world to uncover the truth, all the while encountering colorful characters and deciding their fate. Make no mistake. This isn't the story of a hero. Geralt would just a soon slit a throat as he would save a kitten.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> December</p> <p>Need a little more competitive couch multiplayer in your life? Well, look no further. Worms: Battlegrounds allows players to blow each other to smithereens in turn-based artillery strategy, as one of the quirky and adorable worms. But don't let their looks fool you. These little guys are armed to the teeth. You can pick up rocket launchers, grenades, and baseball bats to beat down and vaporize the competition. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> December</p> <p>This game may have been overshadowed by some more popular point-and-click adventures like A Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, and everything else TellTale is putting out these days, but if you're in the mood for a classic mystery adventure, give The Raven a shot. The animations might be a little stiff, and the puzzles a bit elementary, but there are few games out there that satisfy the urge to pull out a pipe, analyse clues, and catch the criminal behind a daring caper. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><b>Available:</b> November <p>Games like Volgarr The Viking harken back to more than 20 years ago--when games were stupidly difficult and that's the way we liked it, dagnabbit. This mash-up of Castlevania, Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and Metroid will punish you with one hit kills and difficult platforming, but each step forward feels like a triumph in the tough but fair adventure. Already a hit on PC, this taxing downloadable debuts on Games With Gold, meaning every Xbox One owner needs to add it to their collection. Now get off my lawn!</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><b>Available:</b> November 1 - 15 <p>I try not to get bitter about things, but Viva Pinata's lack of success is a real downer. This paper animal husbandry simulator lets people of all ages know the fun of making paper mache animals, and it's filled with the type of cheeky humor Rare is known for. Viva Pinata works on so many more levels than its colorful leads you to believe, and now that the 2008 sequel will be free on 360, it's high time people discovered what they're missing. Once you've bred your first Pretztail, you'll never go back.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><b>Available:</b> November 16 - 30 <p>Volition is now tied to the chaotic wackiness of Saints Row, but the developer also made one of the most addictingly destructible games of all time. Guerrilla sends players' asses to Mars, rebooting the shooter series as an open world revolution on the fourth planet from the sun. Nearly everything in the world can be destroyed, from the largest buildings to the smallest vehicle, making for endlessly rewarding mayhem. Any GTA-inspired game can give a "kill that guy" mission, but only Red Faction lets you do it by knocking over the three story building he lives in.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><b>Available:</b> October <p>Tired of not knowing whether or not you want to get the next unknown indie release? Well, Chariot makes it easy. At launch, this co-op platformer is free on Xbox One. The king has died and it's up to his daughter to find a suitable sepulcre to lay her father's body to rest. Except the king's spirit is really picky and forces the princess and her (co-op partner) fiance to traverse dangerous, puzzle-laden environments to find the perfect resting place. Sound interesting? Now's the time to give it a shot.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><b>Available:</b> October 1 - 15 <p>Bad Company 2 is considered one of the high points of the much loved Battlefield series. The single player campaign is totally worth a play through with quirky characters, fantastic set pieces, and expansive levels to explore, but the real bread and butter is the multiplayer. You get all of the Battlefield trappings, including massive war zones, customizable soldier classes, and vehicular mayhem. Oh, and snipers get mortar strikes. How I miss the mortar strikes...</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><b>Available:</b> Octoper 16 - 31 <p>Holy crap! If you haven't played Darksiders 2, there are no excuses now. The sequel to the original God of War / Zelda clone mash up puts you behind the mask of the most powerful horseman of the apocalypse, Death. This time, the game takes a turn away from the Zelda-inspired dungeons and focuses on Diablo-esque looting. Mixing in improved combat, open-world gameplay, and a fascinating story, Darksiders 2 is a game you definitely shouldn't miss. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> September <p>There have been a ton of side-scrolling shooters over the years, but Super Time Force definitely stands out from the crowd. You play as a team of unique soldiers, all carrying their own prefered instrument of destruction. But the twist in the gameplay comes when you take hold of time itself and bend it to your will. You can play through a section of a level, rewind time and do it again. Then, on the second run, your previous run's clone will kill things along with you. Stack together clones of yourself, and you turn into a bullet-flinging wave of destruction. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> September 1 to 15 <p>Ever wanted to know if you could pull off the perfect heist? In Monaco: What's Yours is Mine, you can give it a shot. Assemble a team of criminals to rob businesses, banks, and any establishment containing a pile of cash. You'll need locksmiths to open doors, lookouts to spot dangers, and cleaners to take care of the more...unpleasant duties of a robbery (like poisoning guards). Need more help? Up to four players can join in co-op and take on a heist together, making an addicting and challenging experience to play with friends. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> September 16 to 30 <p>How did the war with the Covenant start? Who are the Spartans? How did the Chief get all mixed up in all this? All of these questions are answered in Halo: Reach, the last Halo title created by the developers at Bungie. As a send off, Master Chief sits on the sidelines and an entire team of Spartans step in to save the world. You play as the newest member of Noble Team as they fight to defend the world of Reach from an overwhelming covenant invasion. Expect all of the intense action, vehicular destruction, and rifle butting the series is known for, plus a multiplayer experience that can't be beat. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> August 1</p> <p>If there was ever a good time to give the spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon a shot, this is it. Crimson Dragon puts you in control of a dragon rider as you battle an army of evil dragons, flying jellyfish, and humongous monsters in on-rails shooter missions. The gameplay feels like you're playing through Star Fox 64 as you try to shoot down as many enemies as possible using charged shots and rapid-fire blasts. If you missed this Xbox One Launch title at its initial release, here's your chance to finally get your hands on it. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption>You snooze, you lose. Here's the games you missed from previous months.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> August 1</p> <p>As the second flight shooter available for free in the month of August, Strike Suit Zero puts you in the cockpit of an advanced, transforming space ship that is capable of taking on entire fleets of enemy ships by itself. You know those epic space battles you see in the Star Wars movies? Strike Suit Zero's missions feel just like that, except your ship can use it's stored energy to turn into a mech with the ability to quickly decimate a squadron of enemies with a barrage of missiles. You'll dogfight, strafe enemy capital ships, and explore beautiful environments set in the vast expanse of space. If you've been looking to engage in epic space battles, check out Strike Suit Zero. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> August 1 to 15</p> <p>There's just something about sitting on a motorcycle, revving up the engine and kicking up a bunch of dust in your opponent's faces that just feels sooo good. Motocross Madness is an Xbox Live Arcade title that lets you race on a high flying dirt bike as your Xbox Live avatar. You'll race on off road tracks that range from the scorching hot deserts of Egypt to snow-capped mountains in 8-player online races.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> August 16 to 31</p> <p>Corvo Attano is a man on a mission. After being framed for the murder of the woman he was sworn to protect, is hunted by the authorities, and is dead set on getting his revenge. Now he has to fight (or sneak) his way through enemy territory to assassinate the people responsible. Sounds like a bad place to be in, right? Well, it would be if Corvo didn't have supernatural powers that allow him to teleport, summon guard-devouring swarms of rats, and stealth his way to his assassination targets. Plus, he's got enough gadgets and weapons at his disposal to be ready for just about any situation--whether that's hacking into security systems to sneak by an unsuspecting guard, or stabbing an alerted enemy through the neck with his collapsable sword.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available: July</b> <p>Out with the free Halo Spartan Assault (the Xbox One free game available in June) and in with Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. This Metroidvania-style, side-scrolling brawler puts you in control of a magical Mexican wrestler as you traverse a bizarre world drenched in the Mexican cultural themes and internet memes. As the luchador protagonist, you must save the land of the living from the evil leader of the World of the Dead. "But how?" you ask. Well, with a repertoire of wrestling moves and ground-to-air-based melee combos, of course. Along the way you'll pick up special abilities that let you traverse the multidimensional world, and move through some complex platforming puzzles.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> June <p><a href="" target="_blank">Max: The Curse of Brotherhood</a> is the first game made available for free for Xbox One's Games with Gold. The 2.5D platformer puts you in the shoes of a young boy that has mistakenly caused his little brother to be whisked away to a mysterious fantasy land, and you have to rescue him. With the power of his magic marker (which has magic powers, obvs) you can create vines to swing on, move earth, and shoot fireballs. If, for whatever reason you were waiting to play The Curse of Brotherhood, you have no excuses now.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available: </b>July 1 to July 15 <p>Remember those vigilantes that dress up like Batman in the beginning of <i>The Dark Knight</i> movie? You're one of those Batman wannabes n Gotham City Imposters (or a Joker gang member if that's how you roll). That's right, you don't play as the Caped Crusader or Boy Wonder this Bat-time. Imposters is a first-person shooter that has you blasting rifles, firing rockets, and zipping around Gotham via grappling hooks. The multiplayer-only FPS pits two teams of up to 6 players against each other in four different modes. While there is the standard team deathmatch and a variant on a capture point-like mode, modes like Bounty Hunter and Psych Warfare have you collecting coins to claim kills and capturing batteries to power a mind control machine. It's a different take on the dark comic book world, but Gotham City Imposters is definitely worth a look. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> July 16 to July 31 <p>If you haven't jumped into The Behemoth's puzzle platformer, now is the perfect time to check it out. Battleblock Theater maintains the hand drawn, cartoon aesthetic of the developer's previous games (like Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid) that is as adorable as it is humorous. But unlike the developer's other action-heavy titles, this one is all about platforming. In Battleblock Theater you play as a puppet that has been enslaved by evil cats, who are forcing you to perform on stage in murderous shows for the feline audience's amusement. To escape and confront the treacherous puppet that enslaved you, you'll have to survive stage after stage of puzzle environments, hanging by a thread. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> June <p>Can't get enough of gunning down Grunts, Elites, and Banshees as a space-aged super soldier? Halo: Spartan Assault gives you a chance to take the fight to the Covenant as a Spartan-in-training on the UNSC Infinity as you undergo rigorous, historical battle simulations. Instead of being played from the series' typical first-person perspective, Spartan Assault takes on a twin-stick control scheme and gives you an isometric view. But the change in perspective keeps the Halo experience intact, allowing you to use weapons like the Needler and Spartan Laser, jump into any vehicle, and even use armor abilities.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> June 1, 2014 to June 15, 2014 <p>If you haven't prepared to die yet, you should start. <a href="" target="_blank">Dark Souls</a> is notorious for being unforgivably difficult, but if your reasons for not jumping in to try it was actually paying for the game, that is no longer an issue come June. Dark Souls gives you an open, interconnected world full of deadly traps, even more dangerous creatures, and all the awesome looking loot you could hope for. On top of the incredibly challenging single player campaign, and surprisingly deep storyline, you can also jump into the unique multiplayer feature that lets you invade other player's worlds and make them cry. What are you waiting for? Get in there and praise the sun!</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> June 16, 2014 to June 30, 2014 <p>Punk rock bands, dynamite strapped suicide sharks, and four-player wrestling matches? Yup, Charlie Murder has just about everything you could ask for in a psychopathic beat 'em up. You play at the members of the garage punk band Charlie Murder as they are betrayed by their former band mate, killed, and sent to the pits of hell. Only, now each band member has awesome undead powers to fight their way through a legion of undead monsters and demons to get revenge against their new rival and play in the ultimate battle of the bands.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Available:</b> June 16, 2014 to June 30, 2014 <p>To celebrate the one year anniversary of Games with Gold, Microsoft is making one additional game available in June. Yeah, <a href="">Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition</a> isn't going to be the latest game in the long time fighting series for long (Ultra is on the way), but if you've been out practice, getting a free copy of Street Fighter IV is the perfect opportunity to catch up. And if you get the game for free, you can still do the relatively cheap upgrade to the Ultra version when it releases.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Dust: An Elysian Tail (Xbox 360):</b> This beautiful sidescroller has much more going for it than its looks and the awesomeness that's inherent of anthropomorphic characters. Once you get into the intricate combat and Metroidvania-style exploration, you'll be hooked. Even if you did miss the Games with Gold free offer, we say just go an pick this one up anyway. <p><b>Saints Row: The Third (Xbox 360) Available until May 31: </b>If all of the crazy stuff you can do in a GTA game wasn't enough--like utterly destroying dozens of cars with a rocket launcher or running pedestrians over while driving down a sidewalk--Saint's Row: The Third may just be the game for you. From the giant purple dildo bats to the flame spewing Gat Mobile, Saints 3 is completely off the walls, in the best way possible.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Hitman: Absolution (Xbox 360):</b> Agent 47 is back again, equipped with enough gadgets, disguises, and weapons to pull off the perfect assassinations. Every mission you take leaves the decisions up to you. You choose how you will approach your target, how it happens, and when it happens. Few games give you this much freedom to accomplish your murderous goals. <p><b>Deadlight (Xbox 360):</b> Another XBLA title that's probably worth a look despite no longer being free. Deadlight puts you in the role of a survivor of the Zombie apocalypse. But rather than having to gather bullets to shoot aggressors to death like you might in other zombie games, this platformer challenges you fast paced platforming and lots of exploration.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution (Xbox 360):</b> Usually, when you hear about a Civilization game, you think of a grand, strategic undertaking, filled with managing resources, building cities, and taking your built-from-the-ground-up population through the ages... and all of that being done on a PC. Well, in Revolution you can skip the PC part and just play some good old Civ on a console. Pretty sweet right? <p><b>Dungeon Defenders (Xbox 360):</b> It's a horde-based mish-mash of tower defense, third-person action, RPG leveling, and loot-grabbing insanity. All of these elements mix to create a hectic, yet strategic effort to defend giant magic crystals from being destroyed by waves of incoming enemy grunts and bosses. While it's definitely fun to set up your perfect defense alone, if you can manage to grab three other friends, you'll have a blast in co-op.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Dead Island:</b> Zombies. Somehow we just can't get enough of killing those brain-munching flesh bags. In Dead Island, you'll have plenty of opportunities to cave in the skulls of bikini-wearing undead. You're trapped on an island and, of course, you need to find a way off. Along the way, you'll need to gather supplies, craft makeshift weapons, and help the other survivors around the island--all from a first-person perspective no less. <p><b>Toy Soldiers: Cold War (Xbox 360):</b> Another XBLA title you might have missed, Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a tower-defense style game that lets you strategically place your defenses as usual, but you can also take control of individual troops. Like it's WWI predecessor, the battlefield is populated by toys, bringing a oddly cute aesthetic to the otherwise brutal war zones.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Sleeping Dogs (Xbox 360):</b> Put Grand Theft Auto in China, make the main character a good guy cop (rather than a random criminal), and add Batman: Arkham Asylum-style Kung Fu combat, and that's <a href="" target="_blank">Sleeping Dogs</a>. The open-world gameplay holds on to the same features you might be used to from a GTA title: You can steal cars, take on side missions at any time, and drive at breakneck speed into oncoming traffic. The latter is much more common than you think. Chinese traffic drives on the <i>other</i> side of the road. <p><b>Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Xbox 360):</b> A co-op, twin-stick shooter isn't the first type of game you'd expect to see Lara Croft brandish her dual pistols, but here she is. Lara's co-op partner is Totec, a spear and shield-wielding buddy. And don't worry about the game being all shooter; the duo will also have to solve environmental puzzles together--which often involves spears being thrown into walls and Lara using her gymnastics skills to reach new heights. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>With all of these free games, you've got even more gaming options to fill in the summer lull. The Xbox 360's Games with Gold has already been around for a year, but the Xbox One is just starting out. What games do you want Microsoft to put up for free? Let us know in the comments below. <p><b><i>Want more? Check out our <a href="" target="_blank">upcoming Xbox One games</a> article, and our <a href="" target="_blank">PS4 vs. Xbox One</a> comparison.</i></b></p></caption> </div> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:00:00 -0800