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Wipeout Omega Collection For PS4 Review

Wipeout Omega Collection Review

Wipeout Omega Collection is not a history lesson. It most certainly doesn’t remind players of Wipeout’s significance during PlayStation’s early years. It isn’t a greatest hits package either–given the absence of Wipeout XL and 3–although this gorgeous remastered trio of games represents a hefty helping of the series’ most recent outings. In other words, it’s sensory-overloading anti-gravity racing that sublimely blends often-chaotic vehicular combat.

This collection feels like a thoughtful bundle when you consider that Sony could have easily released an untampered standalone PS4 port of Wipeout HD. Instead, the 2008 PS3 classic–which was considered a return to form–got a minor visual makeover while being sandwiched by its excellent Fury expansion and a much-improved version of Wipeout 2048, previously a PS Vita exclusive. While these games are strengthened by their frenzied racing commonalities, their differences are equally compelling, enough that you can find yourself jumping from installment to installment in one play session in pursuit of variety. The Detonator and Eliminator modes exclusive to Fury, for instance, offer an engrossing combat experience, even more so than your typical Wipeout race. 2048 stands out with its courses’ unusual natural landscaping, indicative of the game’s place as the first in the timeline, before tracks were completely man-made.

No matter the mode or game you choose to play in the Omega Collection, there’s consistency in how the myriad ships control, from drift cornering to speed-boosting barrel rolls. You keep one eye on the track for acceleration pads and incoming corners while the other maintains awareness of your nearby competitors. And as you pass over weapon pads, you quickly assess the value of each pick-up based on your current race situation. For series vets, such appraisals take less than a second, and having to constantly make these decisions underscores Wipeout’s involving gameplay. Do you fire the high-damage Plasma or would it be best served by converting it into energy (i.e. health)? Do you hold on to the Turbo for the next straightaway even though you’ll miss out on the next five weapon pads? If you’ve played Mario Kart, you can relate to these split-second value judgments, only that in Wipeout, you’re piloting ships that are the equivalent of 300cc karts.

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One of the draws of the Wipeout series is how AI competition changes and evolves as you unlock tougher (and therefore faster) competitions. In the first couple speed levels, it’s easy to focus on the closest racer in front of you, systematically passing competitors one by one until you (hopefully) reach first place. The more feverish, pupil-dilating races later on produce a totally different beast of collective aggression among all the racers. You, along with all the AI, are perpetually in a forward-moving swarm where no one is out of contention until the home stretch, barring a significant crash. It’s during these races that certain weapons can change fortunes for everyone in an instant. For example, the Quake–which sends a wave over the track–can slingshot someone from last to first in seconds, making it the bizarro Blue Shell of combat racing games. Such dramatic outcomes in the higher speed classes are the reason why these races captivate time and time again. And that’s not even taking into account online play, which is appropriately unpredictable and riveting against an array of veterans.

Experiencing Wipeout in its prettiest form to date only adds to Omega’s already enticing gameplay. It’s a tall order given that Wipeout HD and Fury already looked gorgeous to begin with. While many of the improved details can only be appreciated with side-by-side screen comparisons, enhancements like the ships’ flaming exhausts and contrails prove that it’s not a straight PS3 port, to say nothing of Omega’s 4K support. Driving the point home is 2048, which visually bursts out of the small-screen confines of the Vita with an eye-pleasing presentation that stands up to the rest of the compilation. One can imagine how transcendent these races would be if Wipeout Omega Collection had PSVR support.

These games already benefitted from an established universe where racing teams are brands unto themselves and anti-gravity racing is a global sport with a 100-plus year history. It’s a near utopian vision of the future, one that has always been fittingly paired with electronic dance music. Tracks by DJ Kentaro and James Talk represent the best of Omega’s tunes, though the playlist as a whole can’t compete with the greatness of Wipeout XL or even Wipeout 3’s soundtrack. Should you feel nostalgic for Underworld’s or Fluke’s contributions to the series, using the PS4’s Spotify app while you play this collection will take you back to 1996 in a pinch.

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By focusing on this specific era of the series, Wipeout Omega Collection maintains a level of cohesion you wouldn’t get if this compilation included, say, Wipeout Pure or Fusion. While each of the three games exude style and stimulation in their own distinct ways, they collectively showcase the best elements of franchise’s engrossing racing and silky smooth visuals. And even though it doesn’t completely scratch the itch that only a completely new PS4 sequel can offer, this collection is easily the next best thing.

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Failure To Fame: The Story Of Arkane Studios

Failure To Fame: The Story Of Arkane Studios

Arkane Studios is a developer that has made its mark in the industry creating games, like the Dishonored series and this year’s Prey, that follow in the tradition of classic first-person immersive simulators on PC. But how did the studio come to be and who are its major players? In this three-part behind-the-scenes video series, GameSpot travels to Arkane Studios to explore the history of the team, the roots of modern first-person RPGs, and the decade-long struggle that led to the studio’s current fame.

Part one gives us a look at Arkane’s breakout hit, Dishonored. Part two delves into the origins of the immersive sims and the genre’s influence on the studio. And the final part gives us insight on how Arkane learned from these early games, its struggles to iterate on its own work, and its hopes for the future.

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For more videos like this, watch our GameSpot Studios documentaries on Mass Effect Andromeda and the history of Relic Entertainment. You can also check out our full GameSpot Studios playlist on YouTube.

Part 1: How Dishonored Saved Arkane Studios

Arkane discusses its struggles to find success for 12 years, how Dishonored propelled the studio into the limelight, and helped revive immersive sim RPGs.

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Part 2: The Secret Origins Of Arkane Studios

GameSpot tracks down Richard Garriott and Warren Spector, two legendary developers who helped pioneer immersive sim RPGs in the ’90s, to discuss how they mentored the members of Arkane Studios.

Part 3: How Arkane Studios Mastered a Genre

We talk to Arkane about the challenges that came with the success of Dishonored, the problems with making a sequel, how Prey develops the studio’s identity, and where the team wants to go in the future.

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Werewolves Within For PC Reviews

Werewolves Within Reviews

There’s a certain thrill to a well-designed lie. You know it’s something you’re not “supposed” to do, but crafting an airtight fib is a test of imagination, improvisation, and grace under pressure. There are a lot of ways a lie can fall apart, though. Someone who knows for a fact that you aren’t telling the truth can call you out on your deception. Do you double down and accuse this person of lying, come up with a new lie, or clam up because you know you’ve been caught? The best moments of Ubisoft’s Werewolves Within test your ability to handle those precise situations.

Werewolves Within is a multiplayer VR game for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, and the basic concept should be familiar to anyone who ever played Mafia, Werewolf, or similar card games. Players are placed into groups of eight and then assigned a role to determine their win conditions. Villagers have to work together and figure out who the Werewolves are. Werewolves have to lie and misdirect the Villagers, or ensure their victory by having themselves and any other Werewolves vote unanimously for the saint. The Deviant has to convince everyone else that they’re a Werewolf–if the Deviant is voted out, they win.

If you’re a non-Saint villager, things start off relatively straightforward. You can tell everyone else your role. If you’re a Tracker or a Gossip or an Astrologer, you have abilities that reveal information about the roles of those around you. Houndsmen can “sniff” the players sitting next to them and learn their roles. Trackers know if there’s at least one “Werewolf” in half the group to one of their sides. Gossips have information that may or may not be true about members of the group.

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But Werewolves and Deviants throw wrenches in these plans. If you’re a Werewolf, how do you throw the party off your trail? One tactic is to wait for another member of the group to claim they had one specific Villager role–and then say they were lying, and that you have that role, casting aspersions on other party members. Deviants add even more chaos because it’s their job to act as suspicious as possible.

As a Villager, it’s impossible to have perfect information about the party because you never know who is lying to you. Good werewolves sow dissent amongst the party til it’s total chaos and all of the villagers are at each other’s throats because they don’t know who to believe. The best deviants will be so wily that they’ll have you convinced they’re a werewolf who barely understands the rules of the game and is just asking to be caught.

For a game built entirely around social interaction, Werewolves Within unfortunately doesn’t have enough safeguards in place to deal with abusive or inappropriate players. The game offers “mute” and “kick” options, but muting another player is pointless because all players need to be able to speak in order for the game to work, and kicking a player requires a majority vote from the group–a rare occurrence.

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Bad apples aside, Werewolves Within proves that VR doesn’t have to feel like an isolating experience. The immersion it affords makes you all the more convinced that you’re sitting in a circle, conversing group of people. Your avatar’s head follows where you, the player, are looking, so if you’re lying to another player about your role, there’s a good chance you’re looking them right in their “eyes” as you do it.

It isn’t just the immersive nature of VR that makes the social stuff work so well. Player avatars are thoughtfully animated; when you speak, they move their mouths and gesticulate to communicate a wide range of emotions. The avatars can be so convincing that they become almost indistinguishable from the player controlling them after only a few rounds. The only exception is when a player’s voice is dropped mid sentence–a bug that’s unfortunately common.

There are so many ways that a Werewolves Within match can go down that it’s also a shame the overall game is somewhat threadbare at launch. There’s a single game mode, and that’s it. Additionally, there’s no ranking system or even a way to keep track of your stats. If you want to know how often you win as a Werewolf versus how often you win as a Villager, you’re out of luck. The game keeps track of no information of any kind besides trophies, which is a shame, because the core game offers so much to pick apart.

A week after launch, Werewolves Within has a seemingly dedicated player base, though not one big enough to prevent occasionally waiting 20 minutes for a “quick match.” But the best matches–with a good group–are hair-raising, pulse-quickening experiences that are worth the wait. If Ubisoft can find a way to expand the community and add more incentives to return to the game, it’s easy to see Werewolves Within becoming a regular haven for players looking to test their guile in VR.

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Parappa The Rapper Remastered Review For PS4

You can pretty much count the number of PlayStation games from 1996 that actually stand the test of time on a single hand, but Parappa the Rapper is a particularly egregious example of a game that had a deep problem even back then: it’s a rhythm game that can’t keep rhythm.

At their worst, broken games are a valuable lesson in what not to do. But at their best, you get games that overcome major technical shortcomings to deliver exceptional experiences despite their flaws. Parappa the Rapper is almost–almost–in that latter category. After all, it’s difficult to put down a game about a rapping dog trying to win the affection of an anthropomorphic sunflower by learning karate from a giant onion, getting his driver’s license from a moose, and nearly screwing up his date with her because he can’t find a toilet to pee in.

While Parappa and the world he inhabits are amusing, the game he stars in is frustrating to play. The foundation of the game is a call-and-response system: in each stage Parappa is paired with a wacky character with some wisdom to impart via the power of hip-hop. The stage master will drop a silly, nonsense rhyme, each syllable of which corresponds to a timed button press on the controller. You need to copy the pattern and respond with a rhyme of your own.

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It’s a simple enough premise, but as with the original, the remastered version of Parappa the Rapper struggles to find its rhythm. Trying to match button presses exactly with what you see on screen will result in failure. What ultimately works is hitting the syllables in some invisible sweet spot that seems to be unique to each master, which means gameplay feels more predicated on luck than rhythm. Regardless, even when Parappa’s rhymes do play out on time, he sounds like a dying Siri.

The kicker is that the game has an Easy mode that eases the odd and strict timing for each note, but–in another one of those touches that could only have come from the mid-’90s–only the first three stages of the game are playable when you knock the difficulty down, and your scores aren’t saved. Oddly, the game’s original cutscenes remain untouched–they’re presented in tiny boxes, in their original low-res form.

It’s an awful rhythm game. All the more awful because I was compelled to continue playing despite its obvious flaws.

Despite its issues, Parappa the Rapper has an infectious spirit. Its bright and unmistakable aesthetic lends the game an undeniable charm, especially since the remaster smooths out the original’s jagged pixels. The tonal weirdness makes its craziest moments unforgettable. The raps are Sesame Street levels of rudimentary yet silly enough to be memorable, and the constant repetition of failing and retrying stages hammers them into your brain like musical nails.

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The linchpin is the game’s attitude. Parappa himself is a loser with no money or prospects who spends his entire day hanging out with his loser friends. He’s also constantly being shown up by the very rich and very lame Joe Chin, who shows up in every cutscene to demonstrate how much better he is. And yet, every time the chips are down, Parappa springs up, screams “I gotta believe!” and does something crazy to match Joe with the sheer size of his heart. Parappa is the G-rated version of 8 Mile’s B-Rabbit, and his willingness to overcome every obstacle in his silly life with the power of belief is so charming, it’s easy to forget you’re getting torn apart on the scoreboard.

There’s a generation of gamers who will find Parappa the Rapper Remastered validates all their happiest memories watching Parappa kicking and spinning with Chop Chop Master Onion again, more vibrant and colorful than ever before. But there will come a point when they have to confront how incongruous the aggravating gameplay is with how delightful everything else around it is. The aesthetics and vibe are still unlike anything else out there, and they’re still worth the hassle. But the greatest trick Parappa the Rapper ever pulled was convincing the world it’s not a broken game.

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Shovel Knight: Specter Of Torment Review For NS

Shovel Knight is defined by its likeness to games from the era of 8-bit consoles. It takes inspiration from games like Mega Man and Ducktales not only in its pixel- and pitch-perfect audiovisual aesthetic, but also in its mechanics–Shovel Knight is a resolutely unforgiving 2D platformer. Peril is almost always present on screen–be it a bottomless pit or a tough enemy that can quickly whittle down your health–making this a game that demands your undivided attention as much as it does your quick reflexes. Specter of Torment is the latest expansion to Shovel Knight, a prequel that’s available as a standalone campaign on Nintendo Switch or a free update to those who already own the main game, and it follows the titular Specter Knight as he sets out to gather an army for the series’ primary antagonist, The Enchantress.

Specter Knight’s default skillset is dramatically more varied than that of Shovel Knight, with a focus on the lightness and dexterity of his character, as opposed to Shovel Knight’s heavier, brute-force feel. Specter Knight has an innate ability to wall jump, mount ledges, and vertically scale walls for a short time. Most significantly, Specter has the ability to perform a mid-air scythe dash on enemies and certain environmental objects, an attack which sends him flying at an angle and is used for traversal as much as it is for offence.

The execution of these moves is simple, requiring nothing more than a timely press of the attack or jump buttons, and together they make Specter feel like a powerfully agile character who is a joy to control. But with these abilities come more difficult challenges in Specter of Torment’s new platforming levels. Unlike Shovel Knight, whose stages gradually grew in difficulty and were gated in an overworld map style reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3, Specter of Torment presents you with the full selection of what I personally found to be equally-challenging stages and their accompanying boss fights, available to be tackled in any order in a structure more reminiscent of the Mega Man series.

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Bottomless pits and other instant-death hazards feel more abundant in Specter of Torment, and proceeding forward almost always involves more than just careful jumping. Stages often require you to chain a series of movements together in order to keep Specter Knight airborne for extended periods of time over treacherous ground, and one fumbled execution could mean a complete do-over. You might climb the side of a wall to get you just enough height to wall-jump towards a series of swinging chandeliers, letting you scythe-dash into each one and eventually fling yourself across the room to mantle an opposing wall. Managing to reach a checkpoint after perfectly overcoming a series of obstacles without fumbles or fatalities is always a thrilling relief. The dexterous demands of performing these moves means that progress always feels satisfying and well-earned, even when it feels second-nature.

Each themed stage adds its own unique mechanical twists to the game’s platforming which need to be internalised too. There are some incredibly memorable ones such as scythe surfing, which sees Specter Knight ride his scythe like a skateboard and grind rails to move through stages at speed–but otherwise the majority will be familiar to those who have played the main Shovel Knight game, albeit with minor twists to better accommodate Specter’s abilities. This is unsurprising, given the game’s prequel nature and the appearance of many of the same characters and worlds, but the new level designs still feel more demanding.No Caption

Specter of Torment also features many of the same formidable level bosses as the original Shovel Knight, and although many of the battles with them seem a bit too similar to their previous appearances, some are altered significantly to make the most of Specter’s mobility, and can come as an enjoyable surprise to those familiar. The fight with Propeller Knight, for example, no longer takes place on a static platform, but in the midst of many tiny, cascading airships, requiring you to continually scramble upwards while dodging attacks.

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The completion of each level allows you to purchase additional Curios, Specter of Torment’s unique version of Shovel Knight’s Relics, which allow for the use of special abilities at the cost of a consumable meter. Each Curio has its own distinct use to aid in the dispatching of enemies or to ease the burden of traversal. For example, the Hover Plume gives Specter Knight the ability to float in mid-air for a short duration, and Judgement Rush allows Specter to ignore pits and walls and teleport directly to an enemy. Each tool adds an interesting new facet to the way you can approach Specter of Torment’s levels, but the entirety of the game can be completed without using them. I found that relying on Curios diminished the sense of satisfaction that came from overcoming difficult obstacles using only Specter Knight’s base skillset, and tended to avoid them.

Much of what made the original Shovel Knight a success can also be found in Specter Knight. Level designs also cleverly act as intuitive tutorials, demonstrating the possibilities and limits of what you can and can’t do in particular stages without explicit explanation. Shovel Knight’s penchant for rewarding exploration is also still present. Secret paths and areas are strewn throughout the game’s stages and hub world. Some are obvious, but some can come as a small surprise to those who are willing to push the limits of the traversal abilities. The game’s checkpoint system–which allows you to actually destroy a checkpoint for monetary reward at the risk of having to re-traverse more of the level upon death–is still a clever mechanic. And Shovel Knight’s sense of humor and charm still manage to shine through, despite Specter of Torment’s more melancholic tone. Small moments like watching a reunited skeleton couple perform a waltz, playing with a cat, or simply enjoying the lighthearted dialog of NPCs provide nice moments of levity.

While it only took us a few hours in total to complete the game’s story mode, Specter of Torment felt well-paced and never unnecessarily short. The density of challenge contained within its individual stages meant that I was always entirely concentrated on the next obstacle, but Specter of Torment attempts to pace its demands on your mental state every few levels with short, interactive narrative interludes that serve as an enjoyable prequel to this prequel campaign. Specter of Torment also offers a new game plus option upon completion with a slightly more demanding health mechanic, and also offers a challenge mode which presents a variety of platforming and boss fight trials under strict restraints.

Specter of Torment is a finely-crafted 2D platformer that is satisfying in all respects. Simply controlling Specter Knight–flying through the air and slicing through enemies–is a joy in itself, and being able to push your ability to control these skills in overcoming the game’s cleverly-designed and challenging levels is always an exhilarating feeling. Specter of Torment is a focussed, polished, and satisfyingly challenging game that’s well worth experiencing whether or not you’ve had the pleasure of playing Shovel Knight.

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Stardew Valley Review For PC and PS4

On the surface, Stardew Valley is a game about farming, but there are more adventures awaiting curious players beyond cultivating a rich and bountiful garden. From mining and fishing to making friends and falling in love, Stardew Valley’s Pelican Town is stuffed with rewarding opportunities. As modern day woes give way to pressing matters on the farm and within your newfound community, Stardew Valley’s meditative activities often lead to personal reflection in the real world. It’s a game that tugs at your curiousity as often as it does your heart.

Your journey begins in the field, cleaning up a neglected and rundown farm. Plotting and planning your garden requires care and attention to detail. What fruits and vegetables do you grow? How much room does each plant need? How do you protect your crops from nature’s troublemakers? You learn through practice, and while the basics are easy to grasp, you quickly need to figure out the best way to outfit your budding farm with new tools and equipment.

Upgrades help speed up essential tasks like tilling the earth and watering your plants, but advanced equipment becomes a necessity when the time comes to break down large rocks and stumps that stick out in your garden. The crafting menu also entices you with optional time-saving tools; automated sprinklers that water the crops every morning, artisan equipment to make preserves or beer out of your harvest, and refineries, such as a furnace for turning ore into metal bars. If you want something, you can make it, you just have to scour your environment for the necessary components.

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As your farm improves, you gain the ability to raise livestock. Animals are expensive to buy and maintain, and the barn they live in isn’t cheap either. You start small, with a barn just big enough for a few chickens and ducks. But if you run an efficient and bountiful garden, you can eventually afford to upgrade to a bigger barn and keep hearty livestock like pigs, cows and sheep.

You have to feed your stock every day, which can get expensive, but they will eventually begin to produce eggs, milk and other rewards for all your hard work. Beyond their monetary value, animals are simply endearing to be around. Give them a name and work a little petting time into your routine; before you know it, your commodities have become your friends. Like your crops, the goodies livestock produce give you a sense of accomplishment, but their companionship is a different yet equally valuable reward.

The goodies livestock produce give you a sense of accomplishment, but their companionship is a different yet equally valuable reward.

When your farm is healthy and your equipment set, Stardew Valley opens up and your routine expands: after you water your plants, feed your animals and tidy up in the morning, you get to head out in search of adventure and friendship. There’s a mine north of Pelican Town with a seemingly endless bounty of buried treasure, but also danger. Combat is simple–a plain swipe of a sword will brush back most common monsters–but the dangers you face grow as you delve deeper into the mine, pushing your basic tactics to the limit.

There’s a risk/reward relationship to seeking out valuable treasure, as it becomes increasingly more difficult to defend yourself from procedurally generated creatures the deeper you go. You hit checkpoints–in the form of elevator stops–every few floors, which both encourages you to keep going and to return in the future in search of grander rewards as checkpoints allow you to skip past the mine’s early levels. The precious gems you find can be sold for profit, donated to a museum that will conduct and share research, or simply hoarded in a chest to be fawned over down the road.

When you grow weary of toiling underground, you can also spend time fishing on lakes, streams and coastal beaches. Fishing in Stardew Valley is straightforward–you use one button to reel in a fish and let go when the line is tense–but it gives you a chance to soak in your surroundings and experience the joys of catching a wide array of fish unique to specific seasons and locations. It’s a calming experience at sunset after a long day that gives you a chance to reflect on your progress and daydream about adventures to come.

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Stardew Valley constantly encourages you to explore, be it mining, foraging for fruit in the woods, or collecting seashells, and your curiosity is amply rewarded. Every hidden area you find, every train track you follow, leads to new sights and discoveries that add detail and color to the world around you. Yet as fulfilling as farming and exploring are, visiting Pelican Town’s community center pulls you ever deeper into your new life. Like your farm at the beginning of the game, the community center needs a little attention at first: you’re sent out on fetch quests to gather the necessary materials to fuel its reconstruction.

Outside of the community center, the rest of Pelican Town’s inhabitants also need your help. In working together to achieve small goals, you grow to understand your neighbors’ personalities and identify what makes them tick. Some are pursuing their hopes and dreams, while others fight day to day to overcome personal obstacles; others are quirky creatures of habit that round out the community’s overall identity.

Relationships are gauged by a heart meter, and getting to a certain number of hearts results in a cutscene that offer a closer look into your new friends’ lives. Offering gifts and completing tasks from a board in the center of town are easy ways to increase your connections, and slowly but surely you’re allowed in the inner circle of people’s otherwise private lives. You may befriend a father named Kent who’s dealing trauma after years at war. He’s working on his temper and trying to bond with his child after being away from home. The child, whom you meet in hiding in his parent’s basement, is quiet and introverted. But when you put the time in to get to know him, he reveals that he actually doesn’t mind being alone, even though he believes that he’s at odds with his parents. These personal moments are touching, and encourage you to spend more time getting to know the people around you.

And if you decide to enter Pelican Town’s dating scene, don’t be surprised if you end up with butterflies in your stomach. Giving your crush the right gift and seeing the joy on their face makes you genuinely happy, but you have to put yourself out there first. Sure, working with townsfolk in general is a good way to understand the ins and outs of potential suitors, but no amount of preparation diminishes the impact of anxiously delivering a heartfelt gesture. Because you’ve invested so much time and energy into forging relationships, you get nervous when you expose your feelings, regardless of the fact that you’re courting a pixelated crush. Through strong writing and characterization, Stardew Valley stirs up surprising feelings: when your date shares his umbrella in the rain, you know he’s the one.

Through strong writing and characterization, Stardew Valley stirs up surprising feelings

Romance often buds during community events that take place each season. In spring you’ll attend a dance and try to get someone to be your partner. At the summer luau you’ll have to bring something delicious from your harvest for the community potluck. At each of these events you’ll have time to get to know the people within the community and see them in a different light than usual. Although it’s lovely to see them outside of their usual activities, it’s a shame year after year the comments and actions of the villagers remain the same. Still, you can learn from previous years, adding better food to the potluck and finally earning the affection of your favorite dance partner.

Mastering farming and earning the affection of your special someone in Stardew Valley are fulfilling journeys filled with surprising and rewarding challenges. But when you have those accomplishments under your belt, it’s hard to know where you go from there. Divorce is an option, but if you put a lot of yourself into finding a spouse, dumping them merely to extend your game doesn’t seem like an attractive path. Besides, with your money-making farm, cash isn’t a concern either.

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Ultimately, Stardew Valley’s eventful world is so inviting that you may opt to simply start from scratch and forge a new life. For anyone who played Stardew Valley earlier this year when it launched on PC, the new console ports capture the same magic that made the game special all those months ago, and allows you to play from the comfort of your couch. Controls on console are essentially identical to what you get from the PC version’s controller support. Console versions also get the fully updated version of Stardew Valley, which includes the aforementioned divorce option, new farm maps that focus on different skills, and a handful of new mechanics that add appreciable wrinkles to life on the farm and about town.

The sheer number of things to accomplish in Stardew Valley can keep you interested beyond the original three in-game years you need to reach the end of your story–you may just want to start over rather than continue on. You’ll work quite hard to gather enough money for your first horse, so that you can quickly move to the mines to get a mineral to complete a bundle at the community center. It’s all centered around whatever it is you want to accomplish that day. And that’s truly what makes Stardew Valley such a lovely experience, it encourages you to go out and be the best you can be, in whichever task that brings you the most joy. Stardew Valley motivates naturally, with blissful optimism.

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Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns Review For 3DS

Few could have predicted that the niche “social farm simulator” genre would become a hotbed of competition in 2017, but thanks to trademark shenanigans and the surprising success of indie favorite Stardew Valley, that’s where we are today. Publisher XSEED Games is once again looking to capture part of the audience for these charming life adventures with Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns.The game delivers a warm-hearted, relaxing experience that rewards patience and perseverance, even if it does come with a few issues.

The game begins with a flashback to a time where your character had a life-affirming experience at the farm as a young child, inspiring them to dream about running their own farm. Flash forward to the present, where you’re going off with your uncle Frank to begin a new life as a fledgling farmer–though not without some stern disapproval from your father, who isn’t convinced you have what it takes to endure the harsh realities of country living. Can you grow from an inexperienced greenhorn into a farming wunderkind, all while forming important interpersonal relationships and eventually finding the love of your life? That’s what Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is all about. Well, that and shoveling cow manure from time to time.

The basic formula that drives Trio of Towns is familiar by this point: You operate on a day-to-day schedule, with an in-game timer that flows from morning to night each day. Performing activities like cultivating crops, tending to livestock, fishing, mining, or clearing out weeds, trees, and boulders from your fields consumes your stamina, which can be refilled by eating food or resting (and moving on to the next day). Eventually, your hard work will pay off with a bountiful harvest, yielding tender veggies, juicy fruit, and prime produce you can sell to earn money and invest further in your little farmstead. You can also head into town and interact with the local folks, forming important social relationships and eventually, after many moons, finding a nice young lad/lass to settle down with.

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The amount of time and effort this will all take depends on the difficulty you choose at startup: “Seedling” difficulty makes things a fair bit more gentle, giving you more money for your sales and work and decreasing stamina consumption. If you want a more chill farming experience–and, really, given this genre’s appeal as “unwind and relax”-style games, many people do–you can pick this difficulty with no repercussions. If you’re really invested in the simulation aspect, however, there’s a stricter difficulty you can choose that puts more emphasis on the day-to-day micromanagement.

Trio of Towns makes the most of the aging 3DS hardware, giving players nicely rendered environments and an attractive cast of NPCs to engage with. 3D effects are used sparingly for things like the HUD, text boxes, and various graphical flourishes. Sometimes the game will try to do too much, however, causing it to chug a little when there’s a big rainstorm or a flurry of flower petals zipping across the screen. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it can be somewhat distracting.

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One of the biggest changes in Trio of Towns is that, instead of one central hub town to explore, you now have three separate population centers to engage with, each with their own distinct flavor. Westown is a typical Western-inspired city, dotted with mines, train tracks, and cacti, while Lulukoko is a Hawaiian-themed tropical city filled with palm trees, exotic animals, and a beautiful oceanside ripe for fishing. The final area, Tsuyukusa, is a village with a classical Japanese flair, filled with blooming sakura trees, rice paddies, and flowing river water. Each of these villages has a unique culture and vibe to it, slightly changing the way you interact with the people who live there and giving you a variety of new activities and festivals to engage with over the course of the year. They also provide you with opportunities to acquire exotic livestock and crops–it’s pretty darn neat to be able to raise banana trees right beside rice and tomatoes, and the variety of stuff you can work with lets you customize and specialize to your heart’s content.

Of course, these towns also offer a new layer of simulation micromanagement. You build a personal relationship with each town separately by doing simple part-time jobs for residents (usually quick, somewhat tedious activities like parcel delivery or variations on standard farm chores, though more interesting stuff eventually opens up), participating in local events, and shipping items for sale to specific areas through the use of the farm’s shipping bin (which, thankfully, eliminates the need to physically travel to each town simply to sell stuff). Sometimes you’ll hit a snag in building your relationships with each area, blocking progress until you fulfill a set of arbitrary requirements to progress further.

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Other changes in Trio of Towns are smaller but still help change up the formula enough to keep the game from feeling overly familiar. Foraging for wild plants and materials is more prevalent here, allowing you to sustain yourself on harvesting things growing outside your fields if the going ever starts getting a little rough. Your crops now have individual values for elements like color and juiciness, and later in the game, when you’re entering competitions and fulfilling specific requests, growing for specific crop qualities becomes very important.

Building decorations for your farm (called “farm circles”) can not only make your fields look incredibly swanky but can also grant you special effects that will aid you in your agricultural endeavors. Tools can be improved and customized to increase effectiveness and efficiency, using less stamina to produce better results. The added complexity and customization these changes offer make for a more varied, interesting farming experience, adding to that sweet, sweet sense of satisfaction you get when that paycheck comes in and you can splurge on the cool farm bits you’ve always wanted.

But while Trio of Towns does add a few neat new ideas, it falters a bit in streamlining and eliminating some of the tediousness that’s been present in this genre for many years. I know–farming is hard, tedious work, so it makes sense that some of that would be present in a farming-themed game, but would improving the user interface a little really affect the feeling of “hard work yields satisfaction” these games deliver? The rucksack is a mess, with similar items taking up separate slots for reasons I can’t understand. You can’t assign specific, commonly used tools to controller buttons to make things easier when doing your morning farming routine. Instead, you have to open up a menu, select a tool, then manually put it away when done.

No Caption Provided Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10Gallery image 11Gallery image 12Gallery image 13 The same goes with items–it takes a surprising amount of time and button presses to do something as simple as checking your pocket planner to see whose birthday it is. (You can assign specific items to a shortcut menu, but as I found out when attempting to put my planner on this menu, it treats all items assigned this way as something you hold and throw around rather than something you use.) Given the increase in the number of towns, it would also have been nice to have an in-game item that let me keep detailed notes on each of the game’s many characters to help me with boosting my social standing.

Perhaps the biggest issue with Trio of Towns, though, is that its narrative feels a bit weak. The core conceit of “I have to impress my stern father” isn’t terribly compelling as a plot mover, and rarely does the game make a move that makes you genuinely invested in the plight of the people in the titular Trio of Towns. Yes, you do learn a lot about the (sometimes tragic) backstory of your chosen romantic interest over time, but compared to the standards set by Stardew Valley, the story-related elements of Trio of Towns feel a little underwhelming.

But even with some annoying interface issues and a handful of other frustrations (why am I failing delivery quests when I know I put the right items in the shipping bin in time?), Trio of Towns manages to deliver a fun, relaxing experience that’s engaging and charming. Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns might not be that revolutionary step forward for this little sub-genre just yet, but it’s a pleasant little diversion in its own right that’s well worth your time.

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Parappa The Rapper Remastered Review For PS4

You can pretty much count the number of PlayStation games from 1996 that actually stand the test of time on a single hand, but Parappa the Rapper is a particularly egregious example of a game that had a deep problem even back then: it’s a rhythm game that can’t keep rhythm.

At their worst, broken games are a valuable lesson in what not to do. But at their best, you get games that overcome major technical shortcomings to deliver exceptional experiences despite their flaws. Parappa the Rapper is almost–almost–in that latter category. After all, it’s difficult to put down a game about a rapping dog trying to win the affection of an anthropomorphic sunflower by learning karate from a giant onion, getting his driver’s license from a moose, and nearly screwing up his date with her because he can’t find a toilet to pee in.

While Parappa and the world he inhabits are amusing, the game he stars in is frustrating to play. The foundation of the game is a call-and-response system: in each stage Parappa is paired with a wacky character with some wisdom to impart via the power of hip-hop. The stage master will drop a silly, nonsense rhyme, each syllable of which corresponds to a timed button press on the controller. You need to copy the pattern and respond with a rhyme of your own.

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It’s a simple enough premise, but as with the original, the remastered version of Parappa the Rapper struggles to find its rhythm. Trying to match button presses exactly with what you see on screen will result in failure. What ultimately works is hitting the syllables in some invisible sweet spot that seems to be unique to each master, which means gameplay feels more predicated on luck than rhythm. Regardless, even when Parappa’s rhymes do play out on time, he sounds like a dying Siri.

The kicker is that the game has an Easy mode that eases the odd and strict timing for each note, but–in another one of those touches that could only have come from the mid-’90s–only the first three stages of the game are playable when you knock the difficulty down, and your scores aren’t saved. Oddly, the game’s original cutscenes remain untouched–they’re presented in tiny boxes, in their original low-res form.

It’s an awful rhythm game. All the more awful because I was compelled to continue playing despite its obvious flaws.

Despite its issues, Parappa the Rapper has an infectious spirit. Its bright and unmistakable aesthetic lends the game an undeniable charm, especially since the remaster smooths out the original’s jagged pixels. The tonal weirdness makes its craziest moments unforgettable. The raps are Sesame Street levels of rudimentary yet silly enough to be memorable, and the constant repetition of failing and retrying stages hammers them into your brain like musical nails.

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The linchpin is the game’s attitude. Parappa himself is a loser with no money or prospects who spends his entire day hanging out with his loser friends. He’s also constantly being shown up by the very rich and very lame Joe Chin, who shows up in every cutscene to demonstrate how much better he is. And yet, every time the chips are down, Parappa springs up, screams “I gotta believe!” and does something crazy to match Joe with the sheer size of his heart. Parappa is the G-rated version of 8 Mile’s B-Rabbit, and his willingness to overcome every obstacle in his silly life with the power of belief is so charming, it’s easy to forget you’re getting torn apart on the scoreboard.

There’s a generation of gamers who will find Parappa the Rapper Remastered validates all their happiest memories watching Parappa kicking and spinning with Chop Chop Master Onion again, more vibrant and colorful than ever before. But there will come a point when they have to confront how incongruous the aggravating gameplay is with how delightful everything else around it is. The aesthetics and vibe are still unlike anything else out there, and they’re still worth the hassle. But the greatest trick Parappa the Rapper ever pulled was convincing the world it’s not a broken game.

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Night In The Woods Review

Mae Borowski drops out of college and returns to Possum Springs, the small, rural town where she grew up. But it’s a bittersweet homecoming. She was the first Borowski to go to college, and her parents are disappointed she quit. The collapse of the coal mining industry has left the town in a state of steady decline. And her friends have matured in ways she hasn’t. But while Night in the Woods is a game that fearlessly tackles big, heavy subjects like mental health, responsibility, and relationships, it’s also really, really funny.

We follow Mae as she reconnects with her friends, confronts her past, and faces her future, while still finding time to play bass, get drunk, and smash stuff up with a baseball bat. Without a job or school to go to, she spends her days exploring Possum Springs. And her aimless existence gives you a wonderful sense of freedom as you wander the game’s handful of streets, talking to people and poking your nose into their lives. There are a few dramatic moments that drive the story forward, like the discovery of a severed human arm outside the local diner. But for the most part you’re just living Mae’s life, hanging out with friends, going to band practice, and talking to your parents. The leisurely pace gives you plenty of time to get to know the town and its residents, meaning even minor characters have interesting personalities that develop over the course of the game.

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The writing is fantastic throughout, with an easygoing charm and knowing sense of humour that makes every interaction a joy. When it gets deep, it’s never preachy. If things get tense, someone will crack a joke at just the right moment to defuse the situation. And even though it stars a cast of colourful animals, they have relatable problems, insecurities, and passions that make them surprisingly believable characters. Mae will argue with her parents, fall out with her friends, and make new ones. She has good days and bad days, and so do the people around her. It captures the nuances of modern life and relationships in a way very few games manage, and does it with genuine heart.

It’s a celebration of why life is awesome, but never shrinks away from the fact that it can also be really shitty

While there is a story to follow that has some nice twists, it’s the small moments that really stand out. Some days you get to choose who to spend time with, and these little adventures are where the best character moments are found. You’ll cycle into the woods with your best friend Gregg, an excitable fox who loves ‘doing crimes’, and share a soul-searching moment while you fire a crossbow at birds. Or you’ll visit the mall with Bea, a downbeat alligator with a gloomy outlook on life, and reminisce about your childhood. The more time you spend with your pals, the more they open up. And they’ll hit you with a few brutal home truths, ’cause that’s what friends do.

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Outside of the story, Night in the Woods is also incredibly beautiful. The simple, stylised characters are brought to life by lively, expressive animation. As you explore Possum Springs you notice a thousand tiny details, from autumn leaves being kicked up as you walk through them to mischievous squirrels slinking across the rooftops. It uses lighting brilliantly too, whether it’s a hazy golden sunset or a spooky graveyard shrouded in mist and moonlight. The animation also does a lot of the legwork when it comes to establishing the characters. Gregg’s wavy arms when he gets excited, or the way people’s eyes follow you around. There’s so much fine, intricate detail everywhere you look.

Night in the Woods is a pretty special game. It’s a celebration of why life is awesome, but never shrinks away from the fact that it can also be really shitty as well. And it wrestles with difficult issues in a way that made me think about my own life and relationships. The dramatic tonal shift in the final act didn’t quite work for me, I found the dream sequences repetitive, and the long loading between areas was occasionally frustrating. But these issues are easily ignored in light of everything else. It’ll probably be too slow and story-heavy for some, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished it, and I’m going to miss hanging out in Possum Springs with Mae and her weird friends. Andy lost countless hours of his youth to PC games, and now he loses countless hours of his adult life to them. He loves RPGs, horror, immersive sims, anything set in space, and games that try something different.

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Gravity Rush 2 Reviews For PS4

Gravity Rush 2 Reviews For PS4

The original Gravity Rush had many positive qualities, but controlling Kat, its upbeat and unusually skilled hero, was the reason to play the game. With the ability to control her center of gravity, you could walk on walls and ceilings, and–most important of all–fly through a magnificent floating city in the clouds. The unusual gravity-based nature of Kat’s powers made the age-old concept of flight feel fresh and managed to carry the imaginative yet underdeveloped adventure. But by the end, with untapped potential and numerous unanswered questions hanging in the air, Gravity Rush felt like it needed a sequel to finish its tale.

More than just a simple follow-up, Gravity Rush 2 exceeds expectations, filling in lingering gaps while simultaneously telling a new story. It also crucially doubles down on depth and scale, significantly increasing the scope of the adventure and the number of optional missions. Like the first game, you spend most of your time peacefully flying around looking for key items and characters to move the story along. But when the alien-like Nevi appear, Kat turns full action superhero.

Kat can pick off small enemies or weaken large brutes from a distance by magically throwing inanimate objects, but you typically rely on her kick abilities to get the job done–quick-and-dirty combos on the ground and measured homing attacks in midair. Nevi have sensitive red orbs on their bodies, and while you’re required to target them to inflict damage, built-in aiming assists make your life a little easier.

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Kat eventually learns two new “styles” that mix up her relationship with gravity. Rather than merely changing the direction of gravity and falling at a fixed speed, the Lunar style makes Kat move in a floaty manner, with persistent low gravity, and makes her auto-targeting more effective. It also gives her the ability to leap great distances. The Jupiter style allows Kat to hit harder, but she moves in a much more deliberate, weighty manner. Kat’s powers never feel lacking to begin with, but these additions give you a few new tools to wield during combat. Thankfully, you’re rarely forced to use one style over the rest, so you’re free to experiment and devise your own fighting style most of the time.

Fighting in midair in Gravity Rush 2 feels a lot like it did in the first game: exciting and unusual, and at the mercy of the camera. It’s relatively easy to look past this issue since the camera only gets temperamental on occasion, but during tense, prolonged battles, this issue isn’t as easy to reconcile.

More than just a simple follow-up, Gravity Rush 2 exceeds expectations, filling in lingering gaps while simultaneously telling a new story. Kat’s story is reestablished months after the conclusion of the first game, though you spend quite a bit of time in new locations before reconnecting with her past. After the appearance of a mysterious gravity storm, Kat and her detective friend Syd are violently whisked away to a mining camp. Dusty, Kat’s feline guardian and the source of her power, is nowhere to be found.

Before she can locate Dusty and regain her powers, Kat has to navigate a slave-like existence at the camp. While this section does feel a little deflating given that Kat’s powers are the first thing you want to explore, it thankfully doesn’t last too long. If nothing else, the intro helps set up the new cast of characters and a new conflict for Kat and Syd to wrestle with.

After you break out of the intro, you’re brought to a divided society where the rich live in opulence above the clouds, while the poor try to scrape by below. In working to bridge the gap between the two social classes, you come to realize that the poor aren’t the ill-natured thieves the rich make them out to be; the rich, on the other hand, are mostly as slimy and greedy as you imagine. The examinations of these topics aren’t revelatory or groundbreaking–Gravity Rush 2 loves silver linings–but they lend a small amount of relatability to the otherworldly realm.

Given the open world nature of the game, you’re free to explore its locales and pick from a selection of activities and missions that are automatically pinpointed on your map. With over 20 episodes and at least 40 side missions–including skill trials–boredom is never an issue. Through expressive avatars and minimal but effective voice acting–and the joy of flight, naturally–even basic missions are a treat and rarely feel like filler content. Gravity Rush 2 goes to great lengths to connect side missions back to the main story too, revealing new facets of seemingly minor characters that enhance your understanding of their position in society–and, thus, your perspective of the bigger picture.

Simply flying around the world is a captivating experience in its own right, both for the innate thrill of flight and for the beauty of your surroundings. The only types of missions that wear thin are those that force basic stealth rules. Sometimes you have to sneak around a soldier-filled base and avoid their sightlines while you make for a key location, or you may trail a suspicious character to gather intel. These brief missions aren’t very challenging, but should you be spotted, you’re immediately kicked back to the last checkpoint. They aren’t a major intrusion, but by and large, these missions fail to leverage Kat’s strengths, and come across as dull compared to the rest of her high-flying adventure.

Truth be told, you don’t even need to engage with missions to enjoy yourself. Simply flying around the world is a captivating experience in its own right, both for the innate thrill of flight and for the beauty of your surroundings. The world pops with color and character, building on the first game’s strong, Studio Ghibli-esque visuals. And basic exploration is once again made more rewarding by the hundreds of gems–used for ability upgrades–strewn across the map. Kat flies with an awkward grace that feels totally unique, and though you occasionally need to let her fall for a second or two to recharge her power during a long flight, there’s an undeniable sense of freedom to flying through the world, unencumbered by architecture or enemies.

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Beyond littering the world with collectible gems, Gravity Rush 2 incentivizes casual exploration by introducing emergent events, generated by other people playing the game. On a regular basis, notifications pop up when you’re flying to and fro, indicating a nearby treasure hunt. Accept the challenge and you’re whisked away to a specific point on the map. You’re then given a chance to examine a photo of the relevant location in order to pinpoint landmarks and zero in on a treasure chest within a limited amount of time. This provides a fun diversion that tests your observation and navigation skills in new ways, and if you generate a photo that helps another player successfully locate some treasure, you’ll receive a small reward for your work. It’s a small touch, but treasure hunts also reinforce the feeling that you’re part of world that operates independently of your adventure, befitting the new large, lively open world.

After more than a dozen hours of helping the poor, supporting your friends, and uncovering corruption at the highest levels of government, Gravity Rush 2 concludes its new tale before revisiting Kat’s origin story. In the final act, you discover the answers to the biggest mysteries laid out in both games. You have to do a little detective work at first to get the ball rolling, but once you find the path forward, Gravity Rush 2 delivers a series of exciting, over-the-top boss battles–one with an unmistakable likeness to the olympic stadium battle from Akira–and narrative-heavy scenes that delve into Kat’s pre-Gravity Rush past.

With a wealth of stories big and small to chew on, Gravity Rush 2 fulfills the needs of both a sequel and a prequel. The first Gravity Rush had enough going for it, but Gravity Rush 2 is stuffed with things to love. While its stealth missions are lame and it’s disappointing to experience camera issues from time to time, Gravity Rush 2 excels in almost every other respect, making its predecessor seem quaint by comparison. This is easily one of the best video game sequels in recent memory, and an adventure truly worthy of its excellent lead character.

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