NBA 2K15 is an interactive sporting soap opera, and it's quite brilliant in that regard. Visual Concepts have been leading the line in terms of narrative framing for career modes for some time, but last year's next-gen version saw them really ratchet things up in terms of context and plotting for MyCareer, upping the stakes by giving you a nemesis to measure yourself against, a mute team buddy to give you inspiration and a kick up the arse when warranted, and interactions with coaches, GMs and the press.
This year, though, they've really gone the extra mile in cultivating a sporting narrative full of drama and emotion. You kick things off as an undrafted rookie with an obnoxious, Jerry Maguire-esque agent shopping you about low-to-mid-level teams for a trial. The greater the team's standing, the harder you'll have to work to impress them, and so on. Succeed, and you'll earn yourself a ten-day contract; do well in the mattering of games during that short time period, and you might win a spot on the rotation for the rest of the season. It's a true underdog setup that then spins out into regular team meetings, chats with your coach, practice sessions, contract negotiations, team-mates finding out about you entertaining the notion of signing with a another team, squabbles about playing opportunities, clashes with other rookies and players, all in the quest to become the greatest player you can be.
It's rather intoxicating stuff, aided by more fully-featured voice work from the characters you'll meet along the way. It must be said, however, that few NBA players have the acting chops of Shaq, and the monotonous drawl of the likes of Terrence Ross and Andre Drummond, not to mention the interesting timing of some lines that VC clearly didn't have the time to record twice, can make dialogue exchanges inadvertently hilarious.Click here to read more...
This awful slogan was terminated before launch, but the narrative remained: Xbox One is an "all in one" device. Rather than a games console, Microsoft positioned their new system as a total entertainment solution, a one-stop-shop for all of your digital content, services, television and media.
It wasn't. They lied. However, a year after it launched, the Xbox One finally has the right to call itself "all in one" thanks to the massive sweeping changes in the October firmware update last week. Admittedly we took this functionality for granted on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but the addition of DLNA media streaming and media centre extender functionality has turned Microsoft's console into the lounge commander it was born to be. One device capable of pulling all of your media onto your television, acting much like an home theatre PC alongside its console duties.
If you own an Xbox One and aren't already using this feature, you probably should be. Over the next few paragraphs I'm going to explain how to set it up and why it's important.Click here to read more...
Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is a fantastic idea that turns you into a full-body conductor with the power of your Kinect Sensor, allowing you to create and share crazy remixes on the fly. However, it just boils down to flailing your arms around in front of the telly like a drunk hailing a cab.
I was deeply conflicted in our full review, but in fairness, I should also point out that I've probably awarded it the lowest score on the internet. Definitely download the demo and try it out for yourself! Note that Kinect 2.0 is mandatory. Thanks to Aeschylus @ HUKD!
Shadow Of Mordor is a genuinely great game with excellent combat and an innovative nemesis system, and a true narrative bridge too. It's great to see Monolith back on form after a few miserable years, but it's even better to see Bundle Stars' astonishingly affordable £19.99 price point so soon after launch. PC gaming, as always, has its benefits. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Good morning! Today brings good news for Android fans, The Stanley Parable and Dark Souls PC players, but bad news for Paranautical Activity and Uber Entertainment.
What have we learned? Don't threaten Gabe Newell when your game is on Steam, don't ask for $1.4 million to develop an RTS when your last one still only has one faction, and do play The Stanley Parable before Hearthstone eats all of your free time. Here are your headlines.
I filled up my Xbox One's hard drive last month.
Sure, I arguably receive more games than the average console owner in my line of work, but less than a year after launch I'm being forced to delete entire games from my hard drive just to play and review new ones, requiring me to then re-install them down the line if I ever fancy a quick impulse play. Forza 5 swerved off the track, Ryse fell on its sword and I'm still struggling to keep on top of things.
And soon Halo: The Master Chief Collection wants to guzzle up another 60GB or so... followed by a 20GB patch. I'm sorry, but this situation has gotten entirely out of control and we're only a year into the current generation. Put the important debate about frame rates and resolutions on hold for a moment, because we might have bigger problems on the console front.
Click here to read more...
The Warlock II expansion pack "Wrath of the Nagas" is out this week, and to celebrate, we've been given five codes for Warlock II: The Exiled - Great Mage Edition, which features pretty much everything you need in order to get up and running with the hextacular strategy game. Here's what I said about Ino-Co's sequel in my review:
Warlock II: The Exiled is a game that stands on the shoulders of its predecessor rather than blazing a trail, but that's okay. What Ino-Co have given us here is an incredibly solid, hex-based strategy title that provides a great entry point to the series (and the genre, to be honest), with enough here to keep fans engaged for several thousand turns.
Sounds pretty good, right? It's the sort of game that, while not spectacular, is a great entry point for genre newcomers, and will easily become a major timesink. And you can nab it for free. Here's what to expect from the the Great Mage Edition:
- Warlock II: The Exiled - the game
- Soundtrack for Warlock - Master of Arcane
- Soundtrack for Warlock II: The Exiled
- Digital Novel - The Great Mage Game - A story of action, intrigue and wizardry, set in the Warlock universe. Written by acclaimed fantasy and sci-fi author John Helfers.
- Digital Artbook - 42 full-color pages of beautiful artwork from the Warlock 2 game: Great Mages, Environments and Units
There are also seven in-game items included with the bundle:
- Domain of Death - Start your quest in the land of the dead!
- Magic is Fun - The lord known as The Magical Genius is available to your cause!
- Elementary, My Dear - Adds three new deadly elemental spells to your arsenal towards world domination!
- Chants of Light - Gives access to three new magical powers, including a powerful Lord Summoning ability!
- Frost Power - A former Great Mage who seeks retribution offer his services to you!
- Half-of-Everyone - Nobody knows him, but this Jack-of-all-Trades can be the best ally by your side!
- Ancient Dragon - A new Great Mage - the Ancient Dragon - joins the fray, and wants to show who is the greatest mage of all! Start as a huge almighty dragon who does not need any starting city. Be your own capital and conquer everything you want!
We've got five codes for Warlock II: The Exiled - Great Mage Edition. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to pop a comment in the box below (apologies that the Chrome login bug is still an issue) telling us what you'd want to be called if you were a Great Mage. What name would you go by? What moniker would you choose for yourself? Make it inventive, keep it moderately clean, definitely abuse the English language for excellent and cringeworthy puns, just let us know in the comments.
We'll close the competition this Friday at 11:59am BST and email out the codes the same day!
Winners will be notified and sent their code to the email address associated with their Dealspwn account, so please make sure to use a valid email address. Good luck!
I'm a big fan of Corsair's mechanical keyboards. When I bought my current gaming rig last year, I slapped down some cash for the Vengeance K90 Performance MMO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, with its programmable "G" buttons (that I've still never used, mainly due to the paucity of MMOs in my gaming diet), adjustable blue backlighting, Cherry MX switches, anti-ghosting, and USB pass-through. I give my hardware a true hammering too, and the robust nature of Corsair's stuff is why I keep coming back to them.
Mechanical keyboards and backlit models are nothing new, but few have attempted to bring the very best of both worlds together. Until now (alongside Razer's Black Widow Chroma, that is). Ladies and gents, say hello to the rebranded Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard -- a piece of kit that mixes the durability and functionality of the old K70 with a disco ball. It might just be the most snazzy piece of hardware I've ever owned.
The K70 RGB mirrors its non-RGB predecessor in many ways. Last year's K70 was an outstanding piece of kit, and at first glance, this model seems to be its equal in every way. Both models utilise the same chassis and brushed aluminium faceplate, the same keycaps and 10-key number pad, and neither offer up the option of those programmable macro keys to be found on the K90 or new K95 RGB. The multimedia buttons are still in place too, and Corsair have kept the volume roller, which is much more preferable to the usual two-button setup. Also retained from the older model are the illumination level and gaming mode buttons, with the latter locking up Windows shortcuts like Alt-Tab, should you want to game away without fear of frantic mishaps should you accidentally mash the wrong buttons.Click here to read more...
This week's selection of Xbox Live Gold Member-exclusive offers isn't the best selection of deals I've ever seen, to be honest. I personally rate Strike Suit Zero's Director's Cut, though it's an acquired taste to be sure, and I'd recommend putting £23.99 towards buying Forza Horizon 2 as opposed to Forza 5's car pack.
On Xbox 360 we have a selection of DiRT, Need For Speed, Dragonball and Burnout deals, which are fairly reasonable, though chances are you'll already own the likes of BurnOut Paradise.
Batman: Arkham Origins can't hold a candle to Rocksteady's two original games, but it's still an enjoyable open-world BatRomp now that the technical issues have been all but ironed out. GAME's exclusive steel pack Heroes & Villains edition is currently only £9.99 on last-gen consoles, which boasts beautiful presentation. Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII @ HUKD!
I think that we might have found the butter zone for SimCity pricing. What was broken and abusive at launch is now an enjoyable and accessible city builder, complete with advanced features like an offline mode (wow!), though restrictive compared to practically all of its prequels. 365 Games' incredibly cheap £6.99 cheap offer is tempting nevertheless. Thanks to Barst @ HUKD!
Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are shaping up to be really rather excellent, despite releasing only one year after X and Y. With more features and Mega Evolutions than even its predecessor, including the ability to fly around the continent atop Latios or Latias, I'm more excited than any grown man (allegedly) probably ought to be.
Anyway, £29.95 is a great price courtesy of The Game Collection. Thanks to ElectroDragon8 @ HUKD!
Good morning! Today brings us the news that veteran producer Jade Redmond has left Ubisoft after a decade stint working on Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell and Watch Dogs. We wish her well and look forward to seeing what she's moving on to.
On the subject of veteran producers, 343 Industries' Frank O' Connor is still trying to convince us that a 20GB day-one patch is acceptable for the Halo: Master Chief Collection. It isn't. Here are your headlines.
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed) | Xbox 360
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
I genuinely love my Kinect sensor and the musical legends at Harmonix, but I think they might have missed the point here.
Guitar Hero and Rock Band make you feel like a rock god, whether you're shredding on a plastic guitar, smashing the drums, laying down a bass line or howling into a microphone. Rocksmith literally teaches you how to play a six-string, much like Dance Central teaches you a selection of hilarious dance moves. Child Of Eden makes you feel like a transcendent electric death machine. You're only stood in front of a telly with a plastic peripheral or Kinect sensor, but the physical movements feel empowering and rewarding in and of themselves.
Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is supposed to turn you into the Sorcerer's Apprentice and grant you dominion over music itself... but playing it feels like directing traffic at a busy intersection. Or attempting to guide a light aircraft in to land in your living room. You're just waving your arms about in time to music, more like a weather reporter in front of a greenscreen than a magical orchestra conductor.
It's a shame, because Disney Fantasia is otherwise one of the most fascinating and unique projects ever developed for the Kinect sensor, letting you create crazy remixes out of classic and current music.Click here to read more...
After falling down a hole in last week's Hunger Games video, this week it's all about Sky Wars -- a game mode where everyone starts on their own little floating island and fights to become the last person standing.
True to form, the first thing I go and do is fall in a hole. Great.
I've discovered that I desperately need practice in terms of the basics when it comes to Minecraft, and that it always helps to have a crafting guide open on a second screen. This week's efforts are riddled with failure, but we also have our first taste of victory, and I follow Deadpool around demand that he gives me his skin.
It's all rather surreal.Click here to read more...
Back in 1999, gamers banded together to demand an end to the accusation by mainstream media that violent video games were in some ways to blame for that decade's school shootings. Fifteen years on, just last week, and a woman due to give a speech at a university cancels the event in light of security measures implemented to prevent threat of a "Montreal Massacre" style attack. Her crime? Making feminist videos critiquing video games.
In the past week, the New York Times ran a front page story that put Sarkeesian's cancellation of her university talk due to a "massacre" threat in the same sentence as movement known as Gamergate. The Washington Post, and The Guardian weighed on it too. Sarkeesian appeared in Rolling Stone and Newsweek following the pulled event, her name in the ascendancy once more, largely thanks to the same anonymous abusers who would see her silenced. The mainstream media saw a woman who talks about sexism in games being hounded by anonymous sexist trolls online, and #Gamergate creator Adam Baldwin questioning her abuse and belittling her experiences in since-deleted Tweets. The mainstream media made a broad connection and had themselves a field day. Deja vu.
I'm fed up with all of this. I'm fed up of having a pastime and an identity that I treasure and believe in dragged through the mud because people would rather sling abuse and trade insults and invent "sides" and cling to a social media construct rather than engage in meaningful communication. This all started with a break-up made public and (unfounded) allegations of a developer sleeping with a journalist for positive coverage, and it has developed into a nebulous movement that has attracted all sorts -- from criminals to anonymous trolls, from disgruntled gamers determined to strike back against a press that has seemingly abandoned them to right-wing opportunists with a passing interest in games and a greater interest in scandal, from lifelong gamers protective of their sub-cultural identity to moderates who have tried to steer the conversation around to real talk about representation and ethical standards and how we all need to take a long hard look at ourselves.Click here to read more...
Long-time readers will know I have a soft spot for the Warcraft franchise, especially World of Warcraft. As a day-one player who has experienced everything the game has offered, including the Mists of Pandaria expansion, I’ve seen it go through a fair few changes. New races being added, enhanced weather and lighting systems being introduced, a new class thrown into the mix, talent points being redesigned, and a constant stream of rebalancing for everything involved, That said, some things have stayed the same in the face of change. New abilities would continue to crowd up toolbars, the rise of damage and health numbers for players and NPCs alike spiralling up exponentially, and the models for the playable races becoming more and more dated as the years went by. With the upcoming expansion Warlords of Draenor approaching, Blizzard saw it as an opportunity to fix these things, and so with patch 6.0.2 being unleashed last week I returned to the MMO behemoth for the first time in nine months. It was time to see if the game that sent the genre mainstream still had the ability to pull in new punters and veterans alike.
I’ll tell you one thing though – WildStar’s combat and traversal systems have spoiled me rotten compared to WoW's seemingly archaic mechanics, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The inclusion of the Worgen, Goblin and Pandaren made it quite clear that the original race models needed an update. The blocky, expressionless and (in the case of humans) hairlipped choices on offer just didn’t blend with the rest of the updated visuals of the game. Thankfully, after years of waiting the update has arrived – except for Blood Elves, who will have to wait a little while longer to be made more beautiful. If I’m honest, I really shouldn’t be impressed by the new visuals and animations considering what the competition has produced elsewhere in the genre, but I really am.
Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Developer: 2K Australia
Publisher: 2K Games
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is ridiculously good fun. I really can't stress that enough.
This awkwardly titled segue might appear to be a lazy off-year cash grab, but it actually delivers the most fundamental mechanical update the series has ever received. Low-gravity combat. We're still shooting and looting, but now we're soaring merrily through the air (or vacuum!), using a nuanced double jump to gain extra height or boost our way around sprawling three-dimensional stages.
It's awesome, and unlocks a host of exciting new encounters as we take on airborne foes in the air, rain down firepower onto smart squads of jetpack troopers or employ an epic Butt Slam attack to smash down into enemy formations; cracking their faceplates and watching them asphyxiate to a wub wub soundtrack. On top of that, insanely powerful laser cannons and freeze-shattering Cryo weapons slot perfectly into the Borderlands experience, giving us more ways to brutalise anyone stupid enough to stand against us. Now that I'm used to The Pre-Sequel's very Australian humour and voice cast, I don't think I can go back.
It's so much fun, in fact, that while I'm playing I can ignore all of its many, many, many flaws.Click here to read more...