, | Game reviews
GTAV_PS4_review

Wait, you haven’t played Grand Theft Auto V? Seriously? I obviously haven’t done my job if you missed this review and the top pick on this list of my favorite games of 2013. But if you’ve got Playstation 4 or Xbox One, your timing is impeccable. Rockstar’s latest and greatest is ready for you and there’s no excuse for you to miss out on an absolute masterpiece of modern videogaming. It’ll even be along on the PC shortly. Oh boy, are you in for a treat.

But what if you’ve already played it on the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3? Is this newest release relevant to you?

After the jump, when is it worth buying a game a second time? Continue reading →

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, | News
steve

“I chopped some wood from a tree. I dug a hole. I found some coal and crafted a torch. I chopped some more wood from trees. I made a crafting table.” Telltale Games thinks there may be more to Minecraft than that. They’re partnering with Mojang to create Minecraft: Story Mode, a narrative-driven game series like The Walking Dead or Tales from the Borderlands but with more exploding zombies. According to Mojang, Minecraft: Story Mode will not attempt to cement the franchise’s lore.

We’re not intending on creating an “official” story for Steve, or explaining the world of Minecraft in detail. It will be a cool game.

Minecraft: Story Mode’s first episode will launch in 2015 for Xbox and PlayStation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android-based devices.

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outcast_not_outkast

Outcast 1.1, an “enhanced” version of the original 1999 free-roaming voxel-based action game, is launching on Steam today. Fresh3D originally purchased the rights to Outcast from Atari in 2013 and had hoped to raise enough Kickstarter funds to completely remake the game using modern technology. Alas, that effort failed to garner enough interest to hit the needed $600K goal, but the developers didn’t give up. Instead off shuffling off with their license, they’ve pared down their vision to a more modest project.

The main improvements compared to the original version are: multithreaded voxel renderer for higher performances, software bilinear filtering on polygonal meshes, part of the HUD redesigned to match higher resolutions, new high-resolution sky paintings, new launcher, native support of Xbox gamepad, user-friendly controller configuration, a lot of bugs fixed and improved stability.

Fresh3D includes members of the original Outcast development team back when it was Appeal. If voxels and non-linear gameplay on alien worlds isn’t enough to get you excited, check out the name of the player character: Cutter Slade. That’s almost as good as Max Steel or Jet Brody.

Update: Outcast 1.1 is also available on GOG.com as well. Thanks to “flang” for the heads-up!

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rogen_vs_un

While the panicky fallout of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack is being felt across the movie industry, Moneyhorse Games dares to make a game that directly pokes fun of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The Kickstarter for Glorious Leader! capitalizes on the West’s fascination with the pudgy dictator and promises to let players fight the symbols of decadence like robot Statue of Liberty and the President of the United States. Will the game be a mess of topical jokes that will lose all potency in weeks? It can’t be worse than The Interview.

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dai_dinos

BioWare has released two new content packs for Dragon Age: Inquisition. The free Destruction DLC adds new paths and wild animals to existing multiplayer areas. The Deluxe Upgrade offers buyers of the standard edition of the game the opportunity to add all the goodies that deluxe edition buyers had from the beginning for $9.99 extra. It comes with the Skyhold Throne, exclusive in-game mounts, bonus multiplayer chests, and “unique” Flames of the Inquisition gear so you can look like everyone else that has the deluxe edition of the game.

Both packs are available now for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC.

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dangerously_elite

Elite: Dangerous, the long-awaited spaceship sim from Frontier developments, has launched. You can see the video here in which game designer and studio head David Braben pushes the symbolic big red button to officially release the game. After the crowd-sourcing and lengthy alpha and beta periods, would-be Sidewinder pilots can explore, trade, and fight each other in 400 billion procedurally generated star systems. Become a trader to buy low and sell high. Buy a nicer ship. Supercruise between points of interest and get ambushed by someone with a better ship than yours. Go back to your starter ship and begin again.

Frontier Developments promises that Elite: Dangerous will have plenty of post-launch support. Work on the online shared galaxy will continue to include a dynamically changing storyline and economy. Elite: Dangerous is available from the developer’s online store.

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stomry_weather

What is it with islands and open world driving? Something about cruising next to the boardwalk and blazing around mountain roads seems to hit the racing sweet spot. Forza Horizon 2 suggests that racing up and down a sunny beach is old news, so the upcoming Storm Island add-on invites players to go all Colin McRae on the wilderness in a monsoon downpour. Take that, palm trees! The DLC promises 6 new vehicles, a new barn find, and 80 new events spread across an all-new island area. Events will take advantage of “extreme” weather conditions, which going by the trailer is a lot of rain.

The Storm Island expansion for Forza Horizon 2 launches tomorrow for $20 by itself, but Forza VIP members can purchase it for only $10.

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for_those_about_to_die

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition on PC no longer uses Games for Windows Live. Publisher Bandai Namco has released the update that removes GFWL and replaces it with full Steamworks functionality. Players can die as many times as they need to and they won’t have to deal with Microsoft’s ill-made Xbox 360 to PC gaming client. Players that have hard-earned progress in Dark Souls need not fret. A transfer process will be available until February 16th that will allow players to shift their achievements and save data to the new system.

In related news, Microsoft continues to hope that you’ll forget how bad GFWL has been when Windows 10 launches. The latest build of the upcoming PC operating system has an Xbox App.

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steam_elves

Yesterday, Valve rolled out the Steam Holiday Auction event. The complicated game involved turning Steam trading cards, emoticons, and wallpapers into gems, which could then be used as virtual currency to bid on games every 45 minutes. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for people to figure out that gems could also be indirectly resold for monetary value by turning them back into trading card booster packs at rates above the true cost of the gems. Faster than you can say “housing bubble” the gem market crashed and games were being purchased at well below their normal price. Additionally, Valve discovered that an exploit was being used to duplicate gems thereby undercutting the market.

Sorry, but there have been some issues with Gems and the Steam Holiday Auction has been temporarily closed. The elves are working frantically to get the issues sorted out, and the auction will start again as soon as they’re done.

What happens now is anyone’s guess. The original event was supposed to last until December 18th. Although gems are still in people’s inventories, there’s nothing to bid on. Isn’t it exciting to take part in economic experiments?

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papers_please_tease

The iPad version of Papers, Please will be released on December 12th. Developer Lucas Pope tweeted the announcement after the game passed Apple’s vetting process. The 2014 Seumas McNally Grand Prize winning game puts players in the role of a border guard for a fictional Eastern European country during the Cold War. The gameplay features a cramped space, washed out colors, and increasingly difficult security tasks that ties the player’s success to dwindling resources for his family. Letting the “wrong” people cross the border results in punishment that can eventually result in a cold and bitter death. Think of it as a quality control job overseen by Stalin.

It turns out that the game was itself turned away from Apple’s “walled garden” for pornographic content. The full body scanner in the PC version of the game sometimes presents players with the pixelated nude image of border applicants. This screen had to be changed to Apple’s satisfaction. Too pornographic indeed! This is what we must do to protect Arstotzka from the foreign hordes! Be ever vigilant.

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, | Features
SMAC_classic_game_club

[Editor’s note: Every two weeks, we’ll pick a classic game to play and discuss. Then the choice of the next game will be made by a randomly selected participant from the current discussion. It’s like a book club, but with videogames. We’d love to have you join us. Register for the forums and hop into the discussion! This week’s choice, by MrPinguin, is Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.]

When the Classic Game Club started, this title wasn’t on my short list. That’s not to say I wasn’t interested in seeing it come up, but it happens to be one of those oh-so-famous classic games that I’d never played. So I was inclined to leave this choice to someone more familiar with the game. But the recent release of a supposed spiritual successor, Civilization: Beyond Earth, seems to make this a perfect time to revisit the original.

Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri and its expansion, Alien Crossfire, were both released in 1999. Like many of our Classic Game Club selections, it appears that it won critical acclaim but may have suffered from lackluster sales. I’m not even sure if I was aware of it in 1999, which I suspect I was busy with Ultima Online and Starcraft, but I’ve always been surprised that I missed it since I was a huge fan of Civilization II.

Thus far I’ve only played about 60 minutes of the vanilla version of Alpha Centauri, which was just long enough to read through the tutorial popups, scout out some nearby fungus, discover a forerunner-alien ‘borehole’, experience an earthquake that raised a mountain below my first expansion city, and lose a ‘colony pod’ to roving worms. My initial foray into the game was impressively varied, and I can already see how much Alpha Centauri diverges from its Civilization II roots with the sci-fi setting, integrated narrative, and an emphasis on terraforming a hostile planet. I’m still not sure how well it holds up, and I can’t offer much advice on how new players should begin, but I’m hoping others with more experience can fill us all in.

You can listen to an interview with designer Brian Reynolds on Three Moves Ahead here. You can read Tom Chick’s ode to Sister Marian here.

Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri is currently on sale at Good Old Games. It’s a 500MB download.

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, | News

The Last of Us: Remastered for PlayStation 4 is getting DLC that makes multiplayer more violent. The hit from Naughty Dog earned critical raves and big sales by taking a surrogate father and daughter relationship and setting it in a post-apocalyptic fungal nightmare. But what that game was apparently missing was more hand signs and gory fatalities in Factions mode. Headshot sucka! Naughty Dog unveiled DLC packs that add bloody takedown animations for each of the weapon classes, new gestures, new weapons, cosmetic bits, and new skills. The new over-the-top kill animations were excluded from the PlayStation 3 version of the game due to “memory constraints” but thanks to the beefier PlayStation 4, we can punch an arrow into the neck of our foe, or riddle his downed body with revolver fire. In the face, fool! Take your poignant survival story and Dew it!

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Snowdriveclub

With the latest patch for Driveclub, the Playstation 4’s beleagured driving sim has pretty much reached the state it should have been at when it was released. The connectivity issues have been fixed, the challenges finally work, races are fully stocked with face-off challenges that mix up the action, and all the DLC vehicles and tours are free for everyone (more vehicles and tours will be out later this month).

The patch also adds the dynamic weather feature that was going to be added post-launch. “Snow in Norway, rain in Scotland,” Evolution Studios claimed. But dynamic weather doesn’t just mean the sudden onslaught of snow flurries or possible showers. Races that had previously taken place under the lowering grey skies of Canada can break out in bright sunlight. It’s yet another lovely effect in an already lovely game.

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