Tech-Gaming http://www.tech-gaming.com Technology, Gaming, and Culture Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:36:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1http://feeds.feedburner.com/tech-gaming/HZXF Each week, Robert, Eric, Sage, and Jeremy offering impressions of the latest games, trivia, industry interviews and some of the liveliest discussions on interactive entertainment. Tech-Gaming yes Tech-Gaming editor@tech-gaming.com editor@tech-gaming.com (Tech-Gaming) © 2011 Tech-Gaming The Tech-Gaming Podcast Video Games, Xbox, 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP, 3DS, Tech-Gaming, Trivia, Games Tech-Gaming http://www.tech-gaming.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Podcast-Art.pnghttp://www.tech-gaming.com Los Angeles, CA New Game Releases: November 20th-26th, 2014http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-11-20-2014/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-11-20-2014/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:36:23 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12211 With Black Friday looming, the majority of this weeks’ titles are digital rather than physical releases. Naturally, the former present a wide range in both quality and genre, with everything from a reworking of classic mobile game, Snake, Japanese role-playing game for the Wii U, and another sequel in the Geometry Wars franchise. While these ...

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Magical Battle Festa

With Black Friday looming, the majority of this weeks’ titles are digital rather than physical releases. Naturally, the former present a wide range in both quality and genre, with everything from a reworking of classic mobile game, Snake, Japanese role-playing game for the Wii U, and another sequel in the Geometry Wars franchise. While these downloadable might games are poised to earn the notice of some players, undoubtedly a larger amount of attention will be devoted to this week’s three retail giants: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire.

PlayStation 3
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

PlayStation 4
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions
Thomas Was Alone

Wii U
Alphadia Genesis (eShop, $14.99)
DK: King of Swing (eShop, $6.99)
Penguins of Madagascar (also on eShop, $39.99)
Snake Den (eShop, $6.99)
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (also on eShop, $59.99)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Amazing Spider-Man Ultimate Edition

3DS
Battleminer (eShop, $9.99)
Penguins of Madagascar (also on eShop, $29.99)
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth – The Wild Cards Premium Edition
Pokémon Alpha Sapphire (also on eShop, $39.99)
Pokémon Omega Ruby (also on eShop, $39.99)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (eShop, $29.99)
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man 2

PC
European Ship Simulator (Steam, $TBA)
Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm Player’s Edition (Steam, $TBA)
If My Heart Had Wings (Steam, $TBA)
Inside the Gear (Steam, $TBA)
Magical Battle Festa (Steam, $TBA)
MotoGP 14 Compact (Steam, $TBA)
Motorama (Steam, $TBA)
Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues (Steam, $TBA)
The Good Life (Steam, $TBA)
TOME: Immoral Arena (Steam, free-to-play)

Robert’s Pick: While some equate fan-service with a superfluous amount of skin, I tend to think of the term in a more pragmatic manner: it’s giving the audience exactly what they want. By that benchmark, few games can complete with Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, a title which unites key members from the Persona 3 and 4 casts and send them skulking through Etrian Odyssey-esque dungeons. While the game is positioned at an elevated fifty dollar MSRP, for fans the premium is justified by spending a bit more time with beloved characters like Fuuka Yamagishi, Junpei Iori, and Rise Kujikawa.

Persona Q Shadow of the Labyrinth

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Far Cry 4 Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/far-cry-4-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/far-cry-4-review/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 02:09:28 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12203 In the East, the amnesiac hero is a pervasive trope, showing up reoccurring in the role-playing genre. As an expositional device, the method can be effective, with the player’s gradual discovery of the world mirroring the perspective seen by the main protagonist. But in the West, there’s a slightly different approach, with ‘the outsider’ serving ...

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Fry Cry 4 (1)

In the East, the amnesiac hero is a pervasive trope, showing up reoccurring in the role-playing genre. As an expositional device, the method can be effective, with the player’s gradual discovery of the world mirroring the perspective seen by the main protagonist. But in the West, there’s a slightly different approach, with ‘the outsider’ serving as a prevailing archetype. Here, the main character is aware of their past- only uncertain of exactly how they’ll adapt to a completely different set of surroundings.

It’s a storytelling technique that has unified each of the four main installments in the Far Cry series. Crytek’s inaugural entry transposed U.S. Special Forces operative Jack Carver to an archipelago in the South Pacific while the Ubisoft Montréal-developed follow-up asked players to choose one of nine international mercenaries tasked with quelling a coup between two African factions. Far Cry 3 followed a similar narrative, with Jason Brody plunged into a pirate-infested string of islands situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the set-up behind Far Cry 4, the latest entry in the franchise what extradites players to yet another exotic locale- where they’ll have to refine their raw potential in an effort to survive and inevitably surmount a reigning leader.

Fry Cry 4 (4)

The game’s opening cinematic introduces players to Ajay Ghale, a protagonist returning to his birthplace, the country of Kyrat, honoring a wish to scatter his mother’s ashes. Between an overheard voicemail left by a bureaucrat at an American embassy and the ubiquity of armed guards, political instability coats the sequence, much like how snow blankets the game’s Himalayan backdrop. At an inspection point, volatility ensues, and a number of innocent people are gunned down, before the game’s heavy, Pagan Min, offers an ostentatious entrance via helicopter.

Ubi Montréal prodigiously frames the scene, offering a captivating combination of adept voice work, realistic motion capture, and convincing character models. But while the technology behind the preface is adept, the set-up feels a bit too similar to Far Cry 3’s introduction. Like Vaas Montenegro, Pagan Min is a mesmerizing character- a dictator teaming with contradiction and rendered with just enough unpredictability to ensure players hang on every cinematic and Handsome Jack-like message. And while Min’s personality is fascinating, with mix of obedient manners and over-the-top mayhem that complements the game’s tone, in execution it recycles the same twisted pathos explored in the last game.

Fry Cry 4 (2)

Look past the similarity between antagonists, and Fry Cry 4 does extend other narrative-based niceties. Interaction with NPCs begins filling in the details of Ajay’s father as well as explaining the reasons behind his mother’s last request. Soon, ancestral allegiances draw players toward The Golden Path, a resistance movement focused on dismantling Min’s control of the country. On a basic level, this equates to missions which gradually ebb away at the dictator’s command, such as reclaiming propaganda towers or liberating military outposts and palaces.

Like its predecessor, Far Cry 4 excels at offering the players a myriad of takeover methods. Those who prefer a clandestine approach was perform reconnaissance, using the in-game camera to locate and tag foes, covertly lowering the guard population. Alternatively, gamers who appreciate an adrenaline-pumping run-and-gun approach can storm the compound. Given the adaptability of Far Cry 4’s AI, players can even change approaches on the fly, and watch the enemies abandon their investigative patrols to flank the player. Although they obey to line-of-sight rules and can hear a running protagonist, they are rarely so shrewd that the player doesn’t feel like a perpetual bad ass. Regretfully, aptitude in battle doesn’t extend to any computer-controlled allies that can be hired via in-game tokens. Too often, your CPU comrades rush in recklessly, taking out a few foes before perishing. Instead, players who want assistance on a mission are urged to use the drop in/out cooperative component, which exponentially escalates the title’s level of contenting chaos.

Fry Cry 4 (6)

Adeptly, combat against armed foes is one part of Ajay’s journey, with collection, crafting, and hunting contributing to the campaign’s fifteen to twenty-hour playtime. Like its predecessor, players will be using flora and fauna to improve the capacity of their arsenal, crafting med kits from combinations of indigenous plants and increasing their carry limits by constructing slings from multiple animal skins. Like Skyrim, the level of autonomy is intoxicating, with players able to impulsively follow pursuits as they spring up and easily get back on task when provocation beckons.

Pleasingly, when players want direction, Far Cry 4 contentedly obliges giving gamers two divergent leaders to align themselves with. Sabal is a traditionalist who values human life, committed to returning Kyrat to its time-honored roots. Conversely, Amita is a pragmatist and has little problem funding the war efforts with drug money as long as the outcome increases equality. And while the discord could feel dubious with less skilled scribes, the game’s writers do a compensable job at creating a complex ethical quandary. Save for the felling that the future of Kyrat hinges on your decisions, Far Cry 4 demonstrates both a skillful balance as well as the ability to make you second guess you decisions. Know that whichever path you follow, regret is predestined.

Fry Cry 4 (5)

One the decisive elements for any open-word shooter is the quality of its arsenal. Agreeably, Far Cry 4’s weapons and vehicles are thoroughly entertaining. A common quandary with many games that that gun feels nerfed, taking multiple blasts to incapacitate an enemy. Here, each pistol, rifle, shotgun, launcher, bow, and flame thrower is undeniably lethal, quickly downing most obstinate foes (animals seem to be the sole outlier, with multiple shots typically needed to halt a charging creature). Likewise, the game’s assortment of transportational equipment allows players to quickly cut across expanses of land, sea, and air with ease and enjoyment. Far Cry 4’s one notable addition is the inclusion of autodrive, with a click of the left stick telling the CPU to chase a waypoint, leaving the player able to shoot any meddling militia. Although a few pedestrians become vehicular fodder, expect to see automatic driving integrated in future open-world titles.

Beyond the core campaign, Far Cry 4 also extends a multiplayer component that pits the contemporary weaponry of The Golden Path and the traditional arsenal of the Rhakshasa. While it would seem that the rebels have an obvious upper hand, in execution the competitive matches recall the divergent factions of Splinter Cell’s Spies vs. Mercs, with the opposition having the ability summon animals to supplement their loadout of bows and ability-enhancing herbs. Although matches are enjoyable, it’s evident that Fry Cry 4’s gameplay was designed for single-player, and then shoehorned into a multiplayer endeavor. While certainly enjoyable, bouts aren’t quite as fun as titles developed around competitive contests. More praiseworthy is the inclusion of Far Cry 4’s map editor, which gives gamers an indulgent amount of flexibility to build their own skirmish spots. Anyone familiar with the construction module of a game like LittleBigPlanet Karting will feel at home with the impressive toolset handed to players.

Fry Cry 4 (3)

Whether players are tossing a bit of bait in hopes of luring an animal in the middle of an ensuing fracas or exploring the ethereal expanses of Shangri-La, Far Cry 4 offers a cornucopia of compelling objectives. Like its predecessor, enjoyment stems from the autonomy afforded to players, with Ubi Montréal extending a massive playground that’s a near-perfect catalyst for combat, climbing, crafting, and conflagration.

Far Cry 4 was played on the PlayStation 4 with review code provided by the publisher.

Far Cry 4
Platform:
PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Developer:
Ubisoft Montréal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release date: November 18th, 2014
Price: $59.99 retail and digital
ESRB: Mature

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Tales of Hearts R Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/tales-hearts-r-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/tales-hearts-r-review/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 00:09:29 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12188 Across the last two decades, the Japanese role-playing genre has undergone a number of significant shifts. Many of these changes of obvious- the capability of contemporary hardware now offers the ability to render richly detailed realms or deliver sophisticated battle systems. But other alterations are slightly less apparent, such as how contemporary protagonists have gradually ...

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Tales of Hearts R (1)

Across the last two decades, the Japanese role-playing genre has undergone a number of significant shifts. Many of these changes of obvious- the capability of contemporary hardware now offers the ability to render richly detailed realms or deliver sophisticated battle systems. But other alterations are slightly less apparent, such as how contemporary protagonists have gradually shirked their innocence and altruistic temperaments, transforming the unlikely hero into a woefully egotistical, reluctant hero.  As well, modern narratives have attempted to transcend the legion of lands gamers have liberated over the years, but have struggled to provide an impetus that players can get become immersed in.

Then there’s Bandai-Namco’s Tales series, which has tenaciously resisted most of these modern trends. Sure, Xillia 2 might be a bit more melancholic that most of our ‘90s-era treks, but fundamentally the franchise is rooted in the same old-fashioned sensibilities which have become a trait for the Tales series. As such, as a port of a 2008 Japan-only DS title, Tales of Hearts R demonstrates the halcyon tenets of the JRPG. While some might scoff at the game’s reliance on character trope or adherence to the series’ action-driven battle mechanics, PS Vita owners who appreciate grand adventures from role-playing golden era will enjoy the trouble-free, indulging journey. It’s little wonder than Hideo Baba, longtime producer and brand manager for the Tales games has said that Hearts is one of his favorite games in the series.

Tales of Hearts R (3)

The game’s introduction introduces players to Kor Meteor, a likeable sixteen-year old who demonstrates a prodigious command of Soma- a type of ancient, malleable weapon that’s forged from the ‘spiria’ of other people. Kor’s age isn’t just keeping with role-playing tradition, it’s also symbolic of the tension between the need for autonomy and continued tutelage via his compassionate grandfather, who’s humorously referred to as “gramps”.

The next day, the elder is called to perform a spiria link, a procedure that sends a character into the soul of a character in an effort to eliminate any malevolent entities. While Kor yearns to perform the process, his grandfather concludes that the character is still too emotional, and asks the youth at stay at home. Soon after, the protagonist walks outside out the house, only to discover a mysterious women washed up on the adjacent beach.

Tales of Hearts R (4)

The young woman, named Kohaku Hearts, soon awakens, explaining that both she and her overprotective older brother Hisui were being chased by a witch. Kor offers assistance, telling Kohaku that his grandfather’s Soma is housed nearby. But as soon as the newly assembled trio retrieve the artifact, the witch attacks- severely injuring both the grandfather and Kohaku. Desperate to save the girl, Kor attempts a spiria link, but the undertaking fails, inadvertently splintering the women’s psyche, sending pieces in far-flung directions. With the weight of both Kohaku and his grandfather’s injuries on his shoulder, the young hero determines to resolve the predicament, driven by the devotion of both his closest relative and an acquaintance he just met.

In keeping with Tales tradition, relational development is articulated through both obligatory dialog as well as skits, which periodically offer supplemental conversations. These short exchanges range from the comical (the word “peanuts” is misheard as a body part) to the endearing (Hisui’s respect for Kor grows after the protagonist acknowledges pain be inevitable while assisting Kohaku), but they frequently make the player feel like an interloper who’s privy to more personal interchanges. Pleasingly, they also offer the ability to build rapport with team member, potentially bolstering character stats.

Tales of Hearts R (7)

Naturally, the power of party members is also increased by gaining experience, with Hearts extending a five-point skill tree that players can invest dividends in. Beyond mere statistical augmentation, there’s also the acquisition of new skills, with each character increasing their arsenal of melee- or ranged-based attacks, passive and active skills, along with a magic system referred to as Artes. What’s particularly pleasing is the rejection of rigid fantasy roles. While there’s specialization, characters have the ability to use both weapons as well as magic, which help to make each personality feel astonishingly potent as they stun and juggle enemies who dare encroach on the team.

Beyond the pursuit of party member augmentation, Hearts extends a number of other tasks to chase. Collecting recipes and ingredients allows players to execute their culinary skills in a dungeon or overworld, resulting in a gastronomically gratifying consumable that can provide either a temporary buff or regenerate lost hit points. Even more involving is Hearts ever-escalating control over ally artificial intelligence, which recalls Final Fantasy XII’s gambits. Building on an adeptly autonomous baseline, Hearts allows players to add an increasingly elaborate set of rules. Just one example: players can command an ally to cast a healing Arte on any character that drops below forty percent of their HP. The beauty of the mechanics is that is wholly optional. Party member function just fine on their own, but those with an infatuation for micro-management can establish an elaborate set of rules for comrades to follow, shift between characters, or issue directives with a swipe of the touchscreen.

Tales of Hearts R (8)

Regardless of whether players involve themselves with Hearts AI, the game’s combat remains thoroughly compelling. At its core, the title’s combat remains the Tales series trademark brick, combo-heavy, action-driven battles, extending more than enough variation to offset stagnancy. Although encounters are random and can occur with an irksome frequency when navigating across the overworld, most scuffles are quickly settled. Initially, combat is superbly simple, merely tasking players with punching out combos of basic attacks and Artes with successions of the ‘X’ and ‘O’ buttons, while square is used to block any incoming strike. Navigation can be accomplished through two schemes, with the directional pad mirroring the movement of a 2D fighter, while the analog nub permits players to free-roam the playfield.

Nuance stems from a number of mechanics that emerge over time. Assault foes too many times in rapid succession and they’ve apt to turn red- indicating a devastating counterattack is incoming. Ideally, players can adopt a well-timed defensive stance, creating a guard counter than permits players to persist their combo. Later, you’ll will earn the ability to chase link, which allows players to juggle enemies, perform finishers, and even warp to the next enemies to allow an uninterrupted barrage of power. Furthermore, Hearts extends Spiria Drive, a mode which increase your speed and strength for a limited time, which is essential in boss battles.

Tales of Hearts R (6)

Although the game’s trek is a largely linear journey, Hearts does propose a pleasing number of alcoves among its overworld, dungeons, and Spiria links. When not venturing along these antagonist-filled alleys, the game also has a number of combat-free zones— towns that are filled with the typical selection of NPCs, sundries, bars, and inns. Like the rest of the game, their drawn in a way that’s certain to stoke the flames of nostalgia for veterans of PS2-era RPGs, conveying a quint charm that missing from modern games. Also absent is any kind of English voice-over, a pardonable omission that will probably go unnoticed by genre aficionados. The game’s other aesthetic niggle is found in the animated cutscenes. While Production I.G.’s cinematics help bring the characters to life, they inexplicably shift between wide- and fullscreen output.

While players seeking a strenuous challenge might not appreciate Tales of Hearts R’s low level of difficulty, that’s really only the transgression committed by the Tales team. Look past that indiscretion, and you’ll find a largely enjoyable adventure, elevated by both a pleasing thirty-hour storyline as well as an engaging battle system. Although the PS Vita has no shortage of respectable role-playing games in its library, ardent fans will certainly want to make Tales a permanent part of their collections.

Tales of Hearts R (2)

Tales of Hearts R was played on the PS Vita with review code provided by the publisher.

Tales of Hearts R
Platform:
PS Vita
Developer:
Namco Tales Studio
Publisher: Bandai-Namco Games
Release date: November 11th, 2014
Price: $39.99 digital, $39.99 retail (Gamestop Exclusive)
ESRB: Teen

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New Game Releases: November 13th-19th, 2014http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-11-13-14/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-11-13-14/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 20:27:07 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12183 With the holiday shopping season on the verge of critical mass, this week offers a remarkably robust collection of new titles hitting both store shelves and digital marketplaces. Most notable is the number of cross-generational ports, with titles like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor coming to the seventh-generation, Grand Theft Auto V making its way to ...

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Hatsune Miku Project DIVA F 2nd

With the holiday shopping season on the verge of critical mass, this week offers a remarkably robust collection of new titles hitting both store shelves and digital marketplaces. Most notable is the number of cross-generational ports, with titles like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor coming to the seventh-generation, Grand Theft Auto V making its way to newer hardware, and Watch Dogs finally showing up for Nintendo owners. Of course, this week’s biggest development might be the appearance of Nintendo’s perennial cash cow, Super Smash Bros., which brings the light-hearted brawler to the Wii U.

PlayStation 3
Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age Inquisition Deluxe Edition
Dragon Age: Inquisition Inquisitor’s Edition
Escape Dead Island
Far Cry 4
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd (also on PSN, $39.99)
LittleBigPlanet 3
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Rollers of the Realm

PlayStation 4
Dragon Age: Inquisition (also on PSN, $59.99)
Dragon Age Inquisition Deluxe Edition
Dragon Age: Inquisition Inquisitor’s Edition
Far Cry 4 (also on PSN, $59.99)
Grand Theft Auto V (also on PSN, $59.99)
LittleBigPlanet 3 (also on PSN, $59.99)
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) (PSN)
Rabbids Invasion: The Interactive TV Show
Rollers of the Realm
WWE 2K15 (also on PSN, $59.99)

Wii U
A World of Keflings (eShop, $9.99)
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (also on eShop, $49.99)
Mario Kart: Super Circuit (eShop, $7.99)
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (also on eShop, $49.99)
Super Smash Bros. (also on eShop, $59.99)
Super Smash Bros. with GameCube Controller and Adapter
Tengami (eShop, $9.99)
Watch Dogs (also on eShop, $59.99)
Xavier (eShop, $4.99)

Xbox 360
Dragon Age: Inquisition (also on XGS, $59.99)
Dragon Age Inquisition Deluxe Edition
Dragon Age: Inquisition Inquisitor’s Edition
Escape Dead Island
Far Cry 4 (also on XGS, $59.99)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Rabbids Invasion: The Interactive TV Show

Xbox One
Dragon Age: Inquisition  (also on XGS, $59.99)
Dragon Age Inquisition Deluxe Edition
Dragon Age: Inquisitor’s Edition
Grand Theft Auto V
WWE 2K15  (also on XGS, $59.99)
Far Cry 4  (also on XGS, $59.99)
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)
Rabbids Invasion: The Interactive TV Show

3DS
Castle Conqueror Defender (eShop, $4.99)
I’ve Got to Run: Complete Edition! (eShop, $4.99)
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (also on eShop, $29.99)
PICROSS e5 (eShop, $5.99)
Pokémon Trading Card Game (eShop, $5.99)
Scarygirl Illustration Kit (eShop, $5.99)
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (also on eShop, $39.99)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Danger of the Ooze (also on eShop, $29.99)
Tetris Ultimate (also on eShop, $19.99)
Winx Club Saving Alfea (eShop, $29.99)

PS Vita
Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd (also on PSN, $39.99)

PC
Adventure Time: The Secret Of The Nameless Kingdom (Steam, $TBA)
Basketball Pro Management 2015 (Steam, $TBA)
Cinemaware Anthology: 1986-1991 (Steam, $8.49)
Construction Simulator 2015 (Steam, 29.99)
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Escape Dead Island (Steam, 39.99)
Far Cry 4 (Steam, Uplay 59.99)
FATE: The Cursed King (Steam, $TBA)
Frozen Synapse Prime (Steam, $21.24)
Hell (Steam, $19.79)
Lords of Xulima (Steam, 17.99)
QP Shooting – Dangerous!! (Steam, $7.19)
Rollers of the Realm (Steam, $TBA)
This War of Mine (Steam, 19.99)
Whisper of a Rose (Steam, $7.49)

Robert’s Pick: Two years ago, I was fortune enough to spend the afternoon with Kenneth Melville, who served as the writer and composer of Wings as well as scribe for It Came From the Desert. At the time, he was hoping to create an update of Wings, Cinemaware’s beloved 1990 title. Sadly, Melville was never able to see the renovation, he passed away last February. This week’s release of the Cinemaware Anthology: 1986-1991, seems like a great reflect to reflect on the games of yore and the imaginative folks that helped to create them.

Cinemaware Wings

 

Gonçalo’s Pick: I like to think of Robert’s pick as the gentleman’s choice. The Cinemaware Anthology is a blast from the past for all of us who grew up with early 90s PC gaming in all of its FMV glory. While I’ll always hold games like It Came From The Desert in a special place, I can’t deny this week my eyes are set on Dragon Age: Inquisition.

It’s true that Dragon Age 2 was a little on the disappointing side, and some of the design decisions for the sequel do seem to contradict the lore a little bit. Regardless, Bioware is known for its strong RPGs and character dialogue an intend to enjoy this game to its fullest.

Dragon Age Inquisition

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Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/senran-kagura-bon-appetit-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/senran-kagura-bon-appetit-review/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 21:51:30 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12174 Not long ago, localization of the lascivious Senran Kagura franchise would be nearly inconceivable. But gradually, stateside sensibilities have changed, spurring a trickle of Japan’s more salacious titles. Beyond the moe-istic merriment in games such as Abiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed and Monster Monpiece, the Senran Kagura series has steadily carved a successful niche- led ...

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Senran Kagura Bon Appétit (1)

Not long ago, localization of the lascivious Senran Kagura franchise would be nearly inconceivable. But gradually, stateside sensibilities have changed, spurring a trickle of Japan’s more salacious titles. Beyond the moe-istic merriment in games such as Abiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed and Monster Monpiece, the Senran Kagura series has steadily carved a successful niche- led up a squad of sultry, female shinobi. For those who haven’t missed the previously released 3DS or PS Vita titles, know the each game elevates straightforward gameplay mechanics with a persistent procession of leering bra and panty shots as well as a jovial amount of jiggle.

For better or worse, Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! does little to upend this formula. At its core the title pits players against other ninja in a carnal-minded cook off, with each culinarian losing an article of clothing if their course is underwhelming. Although Bon Appétit! certainly isn’t high-brow, like it’s gastronomic creations, it’s light, frothy, and largely enjoyable- especially if consumed in small amounts.

Senran Kagura Bon Appétit (2)

Although players may select from Story, Arcade, and Free Play, differences between each play mode aren’t substantial. The ten-character story campaign offers an emaciated premise centering on the persistently pervy Master Hanzo’s decision to host an Iron Chef-style tournament, with the contest winner earning a ninja scroll capable of granting a character a single wish. In execution, the plotline allows Bon Appétit! to deliver a multiple-course banquet of double entendres, bawdy puns, and suggestive images of uncut futomaki rolls. While the dialog might be a bit too spicy for some people’s tastes, credit should be given to XSEED’s localization team for striking a precarious balance between titillation and tastelessness. Pleasingly, Senran Kagura shirks the prototypical lecherous male lead, allowing women to be the sexual aggressors.

Arcade Mode dispenses with the large disposable storyline, permitting players to select a character that will face off against six other shinobi. Although Bon Appétit! lacks any kind of off- and online contests between competitors, completion of Arcade allows players to upload their score to the Honor Roll, an net-based leaderboard. Free Mode allows gamers to create an impromptu match-up between the game’s current collection of characters; the twelve empty spots on the roster are purportedly filled with Shinovi Versus’ as well as a forthcoming DLC release. Considering Bon Appétit’s fifteen dollar MRSP, the indication of downloadable content isn’t too problematic, as long as the price remains reasonable.

Senran Kagura Bon Appétit (5)

Regardless of which mode is selected, Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit’s play remains the same, with rhythm-based mechanics serving as the underpinning for the culinary competitions. Utilizing two horizontal lanes, the title sends a succession of face button and directional pad icons, which slide toward the left side of the screen. While the game’s two lower difficulty levels allow for some temporal leeway when entering in the commands, the highest setting will certainly test the precision of rhythm-game devotees. No matter what level of challenge is selected, the game does it’s best to distract players with the camera spinning around each steadily disrobing character, leering on each character’s erogenous zones.

Undoubtedly the developers at Meteorise, are having a bit of puckish fun. During the final clothes-cleaving interlude, the moment of maximum exhibition flawlessly coincides with the reappearance of command prompts, testing the concentration of players. Even when the match is decided and the appeal is appropriated from the loser, there’s no real nudity, just playful chibi avatars and light flares to offer a modicum of modesty. The dirtiest Bon Appétit ever descents to is a post-win segment where the underdog is covered with confectionary condiments, with the analog sticks and gyroscopic function of the PS Vita altering the ogling perspective.

Senran Kagura Bon Appétit (4)

Although Bon Appétit! is a visual feast, the game’s soundtrack can feel more like a trip to a low budget buffet. Sure, there’s a few vocalized tracks, but the majority of the title’s songs are an eccentric hodge-podge of waltzes, generic J-pop, and circus music. Undoubtedly, Senran Kagura’s ninjas deserve something quirkier that songs that use Mendelssohn’s Wedding March as the main refrain. On the upside, every accomplished note is accompanied by the soothing sound of a tsuzumi drum sample.

Beyond the benefit of a maiden drizzled in chocolate syrup and whipped cream, success in Bon Appétit! mode’s extends a large selection of unlockables. Beyond a bevy of alterative costumes, gamers can also choose what type of undergarments their characters wear, as well as hair styles, and accessories like cat ears, bunny tails, and glasses. Nicely, players are allowed some flexibility when positioning accoutrements, permitting some distinctive looking shinobi.

Senran Kagura Bon Appétit (6)

As a rhythm game, Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! is functional, but hardly distinctive, extending the time button taps and holds that has driven the genre for years. Differentiation comes in the game’s dedication to fan-service, where a cast of amatory anime-style shinobi assemble to produce a confectionery that’s brimming with eye candy. While hardly essential, Bon Appétit! is a tasty desert that otaku might find hard to resist.

Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! was played on the PS Vita with review code provided by the publisher.

Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit!
Platform:
PS Vita
Developer:
Meteorise
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release date: November 11th, 2014
Price: $14.99
ESRB: Mature

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MX vs. ATV Supercross Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/mx-vs-atv-supercross-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/mx-vs-atv-supercross-review/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 05:39:33 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12165 While the desire for innovation is a virtuous ambition, some developers would rather pursue perfection- offering a succession of sequels aimed at the realization of a specific genre. Such is the path plotted by Phoenix-based Rainbow Studios. Save for a few curios like the PSOne-based shooter The Hive or Deadly Creatures for the Wii, the ...

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MX vs. ATV Supercross (1)

While the desire for innovation is a virtuous ambition, some developers would rather pursue perfection- offering a succession of sequels aimed at the realization of a specific genre. Such is the path plotted by Phoenix-based Rainbow Studios. Save for a few curios like the PSOne-based shooter The Hive or Deadly Creatures for the Wii, the developer’s body of work is faithfully fixed on racing titles that have challenged the tradition of tarmac-based competitions. From ATV Offroad Fury’s bevy of berms to Splashdown’s foray in wet and wild jet-ski events, Rainbow has been dogged in their pursuit, delivering a variety of racers built around a pre-loading mechanic. Undoubtedly, the studio’s most prolific franchise are the MX vs. ATV games- a nearly decade old series where two- and four-wheeled machines contend for domination of the dirt.

But when publisher THQ folded last year, the MX vs ATV games were left in limbo. Fortuitously, Nordic Games was able to acquire the license, allowing Rainbow to give the seventh-console generation console owners with at least one more lap around the earthy track. While the release of MX vs. ATV Supercross for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 occasionally reveals the markings of a bargain-priced game, it’s also an enjoyable, if not particularly progressive, off-road racer.

MX vs. ATV Supercross (4)

Forgoing the traditional energetic cinematic sequence common to most contemporary titles, Supercross shuttles players directly to the main menu. Beyond altering the look of the avatar and using unlockable parts to improve the performance of their bike or quad, players have the option to jump into a quick race or commence a career campaign. Here, each of the eleven core competitions task players with sequences of either eight or seventeen events at a variety of authentic U.S.-based venues. Expectedly, podium finishes bestow new equipment or performance parts, pushing players to remain and the front of the pack.

Racing borrows core mechanics from 2009’s MX vs. ATV Reflex, allowing players to steer their vehicle with the left analog stick, while shifting the rider’s weight with the right stick. In execution, it’s a control scheme that balances versatility with instinctiveness, permitting players to accurately careen around berms. Pre-loading, or maximize the trajectory of your jump, if accomplished by pulling the stick back during the incline, then flicking forward at the peak of the ramp. The core change to Supercross’ handling comes in the reduction of in-the-air maneuvering, with the game sequestering the ability to manipulate your vehicle with supernatural capacity. While the game also give gamers the ability to stunt, pulling off tricks offers no actual benefit during races, which is probably why the game fails to even mention their inclusion.

MX vs. ATV Supercross (2)

Other than any lack of requisite daredevilry, sprinting through Supercross’ selection of seventeen tracks is enjoyable, with higher difficulties settings offering some tense and tough competition. Like any racer, the game demands track memorization, so riders can float along the top of whoops and avoid casing a jump. Agreeably, Rainbow really accentuates the difference between its two and four-wheeled machines. Bikes offer a bit more grip and are probably well suited for newcomers, while more experienced racers will appreciate the challenge of keeping their powerful quads from careening through the soft barriers.

At times, your AI opponents can act a bit ditzy, missing simple jumps and careening off-course (until they are jarringly reset). Players who tire of these competitors can jump online for events that can accommodate up to twelve participants. Pleasingly, online performance provided reliable, with matchmaking quickly ushering a pool of players into a match, while heats exhibited a minimum of lag.

MX vs. ATV Supercross (7)

Visually, MX vs. ATV Supercross is competent, with all the fundamentals of motocross agreeably rendered. One of the title’s best visual effects is the way a rider’s suit ripples in the wind, helping to convey the game’s sense of speed. Although wipeouts betray the game’s sense of authenticity, they are incredibly enjoyable to watch, as ragdoll physics catapult riders into spine-splintering animations. Elsewhere, bike, quads, and riders are all nicely drawn, and the game’s tracks show some impressive texturing. Sonically, Supercross’ combination of generic metal and dubstep attempts to establish a rousing cadence, but is largely forgettable.

Although MX vs. ATV Supercross isn’t revolutionary, there’s no denying that the game is a rousing, off-road racer. Sure, amenities beyond upgrades might be sparse, but Supercross captures the fundamentals, which is critical condition for the genre. Any other transgressions are diminished by the title’s reduced, thirty dollar MSRP. With an entry fee that affordable, devotees of dirt-based racing might want to consider a purchase.

MX vs. ATV Supercross (3)

MX vs. ATV Supercross was played on the Xbox 360 with review code provided by the publisher.

MX vs. ATV Supercross
Platform: 
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Developer:
Rainbow Studios
Publisher: Nordic Games
Release date: October 26th, 2014
Price: $29.99
ESRB: Everyone

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/call-duty-advanced-warfare-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/call-duty-advanced-warfare-review/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 02:41:22 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12152 While Metal Gear Solid 4 once asserted that “war has changed”, Fallout 3 proclaimed that “war never changes”. The Call of Duty franchise has contently existed somewhere in the middle of those two contradictory tenets. Each annual iteration has typically extended just enough advancement to slow the specter of stagnancy, while fundamentally recycling the same ...

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Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (1)

While Metal Gear Solid 4 once asserted that “war has changed”, Fallout 3 proclaimed that “war never changes”. The Call of Duty franchise has contently existed somewhere in the middle of those two contradictory tenets. Each annual iteration has typically extended just enough advancement to slow the specter of stagnancy, while fundamentally recycling the same basic formula for firefights. Woefully, last year’s Call of Duty: Ghosts was the first sequel to reveal regress. While the title gave players access to an entertaining, futuristic arsenal- it also pushed players through linear walkways, lined with pop-up enemies and was book-ended with cutscenes bogged down with tedious techno-babble. On next-gen systems, the game was marked by frame-rate problems, degraded resolutions, and a number of other porting problems.

For the release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, development duties have passed from Infinity Ward to Sledgehammer Games, whose previous coding experience was limited to the design of COD: Modern Warfare 3’s engine. Given the studio’s abridged resume, the pressure to reinvigorate the series, as well as the burden of creating a truly next-gen Call of Duty, Sledgehammer could have easily faltered. For better or worse, the studio took the prototypical path, adding just enough attentive change to keep franchise fans happy. Of course, those expecting revolution or even substantial progression are poised to be a bit disappointed.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (2)

Advanced Warfare’s narrative follows the predictable path, commencing with a bit of human emotion before giving away to a spectacle of sequentially more explosive set pieces. Our chaperone through this futuristic milieu, filled with ability-enhancing exo suits and all types of exotic gadgetry, is Jack Mitchell- initially shown as a private in the United States Marine Corps. During a battle to push back North Koreans who have invaded Seoul, Mitchell loses his closest comrade and left arm- with the injury warranting a discharge from the military. During the funeral for his fallen friend, he’s approached by Atlas CEO Jonathan Irons, who offers Mitchell a prosthetic appendage, and the opportunity for retribution.

While the opening scenes have an undeniable, if hackneyed pathos, the drama quickly escalates into the type of conspiracy theory-driven geopolitical intrigue that has marked Call of Duty’s modern contexts. As such, expect the timeworn warnings about private military contractors running rampant as well as the conventional globe-trotting where players serve as a catalyst for capitalism-driven carnage. On the upside, Advanced Warfare’s facial animation proves a capable instrument for storytelling, with every wrinkle and facial tic articulated in near photo-realistic fashion. Although Hollywood talent doesn’t always offer a seamless transition into interactive entertainment, Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker give a skilled performance, with The Usual Suspects star delivering the type of delightfully ostentatious dialog that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond film.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (3)

One of the enduring virtues of the Call of Duty series is the franchise’s reproduction of weapon handling. Although Advanced Warfare extends high-tech interpretations of contemporary rifles and sniper rifles, the title also delivers the type of directed energy or rapid fire shotguns that the subtitle implies. Expectedly, these future-firearms come with a range of sophisticated accessories, providing thermal scopes that peer through walls or a sonic pulse devices that inexplicably tweaks your perception time, allowing for bullet-time room clearing sequences.

Additionally, players are provided with secondary devices that offer a bit of flexibility. Grenades can be switched into EMP mode, potentially depowering any pesky drones or converted into smart explosives that can be steered into clusters of foes. There’s also a cloaking device and grappling hook which both bestow potent abilities to players. Unfortunately, the campaign largely determines when players can use these tools, which has long been an issue with the franchise.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (4)

More autonomy is given to Advanced Warfare’s exo suit mechanics. Although each of the campaign’s fifteen level dictates which capabilities are conferred, multiple skills are usually available throughout the duration of each stage. Undoubtedly, the biggest change are the double jump and augmented landing abilities, which allow players to bound over objects or descend large distances without taking damage. There’s also the ability to perform a quick dodge, but pushing down the left analog stick while moving the stick in a direction feels unswervingly awkward.

While these implements are undeniably enjoyable, allowing players to rocket around level with wild abandon, the toolset feels neutered by Advanced Warfare linear battle paths and predictable artificial intelligence. Save for a section that either pays homage (or attempt to replicate) “All Ghillied Up”, firefights often feel like a Mature-rated take on the Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters ride at Disneyland, as gamers follow a rigid footpath, blasting any interlopers that pop up along the way. Although next-generation sales pitches promised better AI, Advanced Warfare shows little improvement over predecessors, with enemies nonsensically running to take the place of their gun-downed companions. On the upside, there are fewer of the insta-death moments where players perish if they don’t do exactly what the game expects.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (5)

While Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer component supports matches without the exo supplements, the suit abilities certainly help to elevate skirmishes. In effect, the ability to quickly rocket up to vertical plateaus nullifies the dominance of sniper encampments, with opponents cutting across substantial distances before long-shooters can draw a bead on them. Inversely, it also emboldens shotguns, allowing a combatant to quickly get into an adversaries safety zone to unload a barrage of shells. To accommodate these changes, most of the title’s MP maps flaunt an increased area and are approximately twice the size of traditional maps.

Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer modes reflect COD’s tried and true approaches to competition, save for the addition of Uplink and Momentum. The former is an entertaining variant of Capture the Flag, tasking participants to throw or toss a ball-shaped satellite into a goalmouth. The latter is closer in spirit to a tug-of-war battle, with a team attempting to hold a series of several capture points. The game’s Pick 13 system builds upon Black Ops’ Pick 10 component, giving players a wide variety of way to customize their loadout. The flexibility allows veterans to use their slots to select high-tiered bonus, while those who struggle for kill streaks can increase the potential and size of their arsenal. One of the most pleasant surprises of Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer component is the variety and motifs of maps, which occasionally divert from the game’s single-player venues as well as the end of match supply drops- which bestow goodies like new weapons, clothing, and temporary perks, like a double XP boost

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (6)

Rounding out the package is a mode called “Exo Survival,” which offers action for one to four participants. In execution, it recalls Modern Warfare 3’s Survival, where foes attack in waves, striving to kill the games’ party of offline or online players. Slaying enemies rewards combatants with credits which can be used to purchase new weapons, attachments, and upgrade your exo suit. While it’s functionally solid (and a bit too forgiving in difficulty with a full party), there are elements like malformed ragdoll animations which divulge a lack of playtesting.

After disappointing the fanbase with Ghosts, Activision needed a hit to rekindle its relationship with the Call of Duty Community. With exo suits that modify movement mechanics and an arsenal of high-tech weaponry, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare executes the essentials. But the game’s staunch commitment to a linear campaign and a pleasurable, but risk-free multiplayer component might not be enough to protect the revered franchise from interlopers and eager upstarts.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (7)
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
was played on the Xbox One with review code provided by the publisher.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Platform: 
PS3, PS4, XBox 360, Xbox One, PC
Developer: 
Sledgehammer Games
Publisher: Activision
Release date: November 3rd, 2014
Price: $59.99 (Standard), $79.99 (Atlas), $99.99  (Pro)
ESRB: Mature

 

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New Game Releases: November 6th-12th, 2014http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-11-6-2014/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-11-6-2014/#comments Sat, 08 Nov 2014 18:55:33 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12147 Traditionally, early November is a time when publishers trot out their triple-A holiday titles; this week’s itinerary of new releases confirms that industry custom. With big name releases such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Rogue, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham and Halo: The Master Chief Collection hitting both store shelves and digital markets, disposable include ...

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Tales Of Hearts R Header

Traditionally, early November is a time when publishers trot out their triple-A holiday titles; this week’s itinerary of new releases confirms that industry custom. With big name releases such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Rogue, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham and Halo: The Master Chief Collection hitting both store shelves and digital markets, disposable include might be sparse. Fortunately, a few stores have a number of money-saving deals, making the purchase of multiple titles just a little easier on our bank accounts.

PlayStation 3
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (also on PSN, $59.99)
Digimon: All-Star Rumble (also on PSN, $39.99)
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (also on PSN, $49.99)
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 (also on PSN, $39.99)
Retro City Rampage: DX (PSN, $9.99, Cross-buy)

PlayStation 4
Assassin’s Creed: Unity (also on PSN, $59.99)
Assassin’s Creed: Unity Gold Edition (also on PSN, $89.99)
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (also on PSN, $59.99)
Nano Assault Neo-X (PSN, $9.99)
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 (also on PSN, $59.99)
Retro City Rampage: DX (PSN, $9.99, Cross-buy)
Terraria Bundle (PSN, $19.99)

Wii U
A World of Keflings
Disney Infinity (2.0 Edition) (now on eShop, $19.99)
Flapp & Zegeta (eShop, $4.99)
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Pier Solar and the Great Architects (eShop, $14.99)
Planes Fire & Rescue (also on eShop, $39.99)
SDK Paint (eShop, $2.99)
Sportsball (eShop, $9.99)
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (also on eShop, $49.99)
Super Mario Advance (eShop, $7.99)
The Swapper (eShop, $19.99)

Xbox 360
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
Digimon: All-Star Rumble
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Retro City Rampage: DX

Xbox One
Assassin’s Creed: Unity (also on XGS, $59.99)
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (also on XGS, $59.99)
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (also on XGS, $59.99)

3DS
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Kemonomix+ (eShop, $4.99)
nintendogs + cats: French Bulldog & New Friends (now on eShop, $14.99)
nintendogs + cats: Golden Retriever & New Friends (now on eShop, $14.99)
nintendogs + cats: Toy Poodle & New Friends (now on eShop, $14.99)
Planes Fire & Rescue (also on eShop, $29.99)
Pokémon Puzzle Challenge (eShop, $4.99)
Pokémon Trading Card Game
Safari Quest (eShop, $4.99)
Shuttle Rush (eShop, $7.99)
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (also on eShop, $39.99)

PS Vita
Get Off my Lawn (PSN, Free)
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (PSN, $29.99)
Retro City Rampage: DX (PSN, $9.99, Cross-buy)
Ring Run Circus (PSN, $9.99)
Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! (PSN, $14.99)
Tales of Hearts R (also on PSN, $39.99)

PC
Amphora (Steam, $12.59)
Assassin’s Creed: Unity (Steam, $59.99)
Chariot (Steam, $14.99)
Deadlings – Rotten Edition (Steam, $2.99)
Deadstone (Steam, $8.49)
Desert Ashes (Steam, $TBA)
Get Off My Lawn (Steam, Free)
Global ATC Simulator (Steam, $TBA)
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (Steam, $29.99)
Magnetic by Nature (Steam, $TBA)
Onikira – Demon Killer (Steam, $TBA)
Randal’s Monday (Steam, $24.49)
Retro City Rampage (Steam, $6.99)
Royal Defense (Steam, $5.39)
Smash Team (Steam, $TBA)
Sneak Sneaky (Steam, $8.99)
Space Hulk Ascension Edition (Steam, $26.49)
The Sun and Moon (Steam, $TBA)
Toybox Turbos (Steam, $13.49)
Valkyria Chronicles (Steam, $17.99)
Why So Evil? (Steam, $2.49)

Robert’s Pick: As a JRPG aficionado, the PS Vita has undoubtedly justified its purchase price, with the portable playing host to a number of exceptional role-playing titles. This week’s release of Tales of Hearts R add one more obligatory purchase to the Vita’s library, ushering in the franchise’s customary action-driven battles, charming characters, and lengthy storyline. Save for the cropping of Production I.G.’s animated cutscenes (ported from the DS version, which was never localized), Hearts R looks like a winner.

Tales Of Hearts R

 

Gonçalo’s Pick: Based on the strategy board game by Games Workshop, Space Hulk was a fun, deep, frustrating, and flawed experience. This year, Full Control Studios seeks to correct some of the issues with the original while adding more content and RPG mechanics to its standalone sequel, Space Hulk: Ascension Edition.  I don’t expect the game to be perfect, but it doesn’t have to be, dying and becoming frustrated is part of the Space Hulk experience, and I for one welcome it.

Space Hulk Ascension Edition

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LoveLive! School Idol Project Premium Edition Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/lovelive-school-idol-project/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/lovelive-school-idol-project/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 20:12:15 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12138 An English professor once explained why Shakespeare’s sonnets were still a fundamental part of the college curriculum: they are the quintessential model of triumph over form. Shackled by a structure of a rigid rhyme scheme and iambic pentameter, each of The Bard’s 154 sonnets absconds from the confines of composition, revealing an exquisiteness that grows ...

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LoveLive! School Idol Project Premium Edition (1)

An English professor once explained why Shakespeare’s sonnets were still a fundamental part of the college curriculum: they are the quintessential model of triumph over form. Shackled by a structure of a rigid rhyme scheme and iambic pentameter, each of The Bard’s 154 sonnets absconds from the confines of composition, revealing an exquisiteness that grows even more dazzling when the reader considers the restrictions of each piece. In essence, the works reveal poetry that effortlessly transcends its own self-imposed parameters, rendering its own rules translucent.

Although the first season of LoveLive! School Idol Project doesn’t exhibit the narrative complexity as say, The Tempest or Macbeth, the anime does a remarkable job at ebbing away at the vexing confines of cliché. While THE iDOLM@STER, K-On!, and Lovedol ~Lovely Idol~ audiences may have plumbed similar pop-idol driven plotlines, Love Live’s effervescent energy, charming cast, and eleventh-hour tensions help to distinguish the series from its contemporaries. Likely, viewers will detect a number of the season’s virtues during the inaugural episode.

LoveLive! School Idol Project Premium Edition (2)

Following a bit of foreshadowing of the big musical number, we are introduced to Honoka Kōsaka, a second year student at the Otonokizaka Academy who makes up for her shortage of studiousness with steadfast determination and a boundless wellspring of enthusiasm and energy. When Honoka learns of the Academy’s pending closure due to a lack of incoming students, she decides to go on a reconnaissance mission to determine how neighboring schools are augmenting their enrollment. Unsurprisingly, Honoka finds that J-Pop idols are the key to each academy’s success, determining to start her own musical group in an effort to help save the school from being shuttered.

Naturally, opposition abounds. Honoka’s closest friends are initially reluctant to pursue their pop idol fates, forcing a bit of good-willed badgering before both Umi Sonoda and Kotori Minami concur. But the challenge of drafting group members is dwarfed by the resistance of school bureaucrats, who view the trio’s ambitions as little more than typical schoolgirl folly. Slowly, Honoka’s dogged persistence and the girl’s determination wears down the student council, who grudgingly allow the fledging group to use the campus facilities for practice sessions.

LoveLive! School Idol Project Premium Edition (5)

Whereas other anime has offered a fleeting glimpse of the formation and early progression of a pop idol group, LoveLive! School Idol Project does an outstanding job at expressing the myriad of difficulties in getting the group off the ground. Sure, some elements are woefully predictable. Each newly acquired member seems to have a talent that offers an uncanny fit for the group’s talent gaps, with additional recruits having a knack for song writing, customer design, and choreography. Although this miraculous assembly might stretch the limits of plausibility- in execution it’s largely a joy to observe, mirroring the satisfaction gleaned from placing the concluding pieces of a puzzle.

But once the group, known as μ’s (pronounced “muse”) solidify into a nine-member troupe, Love Live struggles to offer development for every character. Largely, Honoka, Umi, and Kotori receive the lion’s share of screen time, leaving the rest of the members as rather one-dimensional, static foils. Although this issue might be rectified with subsequent seasons focusing on the other girls, as it stands the maiden season can’t capitalize on the expected synergy between its members. Luckily, it’s a relatively pardonable transgression, with most viewers likely focused on the program’s unrelenting charm, upsurges of comic relief, or playful (but subtle) yuri elements. While LoveLive’s plotline might seem entrenched in trope, the season does extend a few unexpected twists which demonstrate the elusiveness of success amidst the concluding episodes.

LoveLive! School Idol Project Premium Edition (3)

Given that LoveLive started as an ambitious multimedia venture designed around the staggered release of manga, music, rhythm-based games, as well as anime, it’s not surprising that a few external elements help to elevate School Idol Project. While the series’ songs don’t deviate far from J-pop standards, most are exceedingly catchy and flaunt heightened production values. As such, when the anime builds toward a musical sequence crescendo, the payoff is especially gratifying, giving the quality of the songwriting. Regretfully, these moments are undermined by a glaring change in animation styles, where the series’ established hand-drawn aesthetic gives way to sterile-looking CG sequences.

While NIS America’s premium edition forgoes the inclusion of soundtrack, the deluxe set of School Idol Project does include two pleasing supplement: a μ’s card for Bushiroad’s Weiß Schwarz’ collectable card game as well as a promo code for the LoveLive! School Idol Festival mobile rhythm game. Mirroring the publisher’s previous anime releases, the series is houses in a study cardboard exterior, with two slimcases protecting the two Blu-ray disks inside. Image quality through the season’s thirteen episode, 307 minute runtime is immaculate, courtesy of a 1080p, MPEG-4 encoding.

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Customary for the publisher’s premium editions, LoveLive! School Idol Project also ships with a 28-page hardcover book, designed to resemble a sticker-adorned student scrapbook. Inside, viewers will find a wealth of supplemental information, from an episode guide, character bios, art, as well as brief interviews with the anime’s voice talent, which helps to further delineate each member of the group.

Although LoveLive! School Idol Project isn’t going to dissuade idol detractors from changing their stance, anime aficionados who enjoy cheerful, lighthearted antics and the delight of meticulously choreographed song and dance numbers should give the series a try. Seemingly entrenched in tropes, School Idol Project does a remarkable job of rising above them, offering an enjoyable thirteen episode romp that is poised to leave viewers eager for more.

LoveLive! School Idol Project Premium Edition (6)

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Kromaia Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/kromaia-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/kromaia-review/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 03:15:22 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12128 For the last decade or so space games have been on a steady decline. Whether you crave an on-rails experience similar to Starfox or a more complex space simulator provided by the X series, one can’t deny that pickings have been rather slim for a while now. Meanwhile, fans of the genre have been eagerly ...

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Kromaia (1)

For the last decade or so space games have been on a steady decline. Whether you crave an on-rails experience similar to Starfox or a more complex space simulator provided by the X series, one can’t deny that pickings have been rather slim for a while now. Meanwhile, fans of the genre have been eagerly awaiting the upcoming releases of Space Citizen and Elite Dangerous. However, while we wait perhaps it would be best to check up on smaller, unknown indie developer teams and see how they’re tackling the genre.

This brings us to Kromaia, an indie space game seeking to bridge the gap between on-rails shooters and 360º action games similar to Descent, all while sporting a minimalistic graphical style reminiscent of early texture-less 3D games. Right from the start Kromaia establishes itself as a unique experience, providing little in the way of narrative or context, but giving just enough to entice curiosity while letting players fill the gaps themselves. The game then propels you to a hub area with little more than an idea of where to go or what to do.

Kromaia (5)

Upon entering a level the objectives become much clearer. Stages have 20 jumpgate components which must be collected before facing the main boss with each component being guarded by a variety of enemies. Despite the free-flow movement, combat is closer to that of an on-rails shooter than a space sim. Enemies will only attack once they swoop into the player’s field-of-view, if you try to dodge they will simply swing around the player until they are in your view once again.

This makes outrunning enemies is a near-impossible task; instead Kromaia requires gamers to either dogfight until they are all eliminated or to try and rush through each objective while being chased by an ever-growing horde. Both strategies have their merits, it’s possible to clear a map of enemies, but it’s long and grueling process. On the other hand simply rushing through each objective prevents exploration and makes each boss battle a much more daunting task.

Kromaia (3)

Each enemy type requires its own set of specific tactics to shoot down, meaning the combat relies on mixing and matching these to the different attack patterns facing you. Players can boost, strafe, yaw and generally move in any direction to avoid projectiles. Your ship can only take a handful of hits, similar to what you’d expect from Starfox, though enemies tend to drop the occasional power-up or health upgrade. Finally, your ship can also “level up” proving shorter reload times for both weapons and boosts.

Players can move about in any direction they wish and are generally free to fulfil each objective at whatever pace they set. Maps are fairly large and wide while being populated by asteroids and even buildings or temples with a strong Greco-Roman inspiration, some of which can even hide secrets waiting to be unlocked. The minimalistic art style coupled with a fitting soundtrack helps establish the aura of mystery provided by what little story we’re given. We could call the visuals “Rez-inspired” but that would be a disservice to both games. Yes, both use a simplistic polygonal look, however, Rez establishes a fast paced cyberspace feel, whereas Kromaia creates a mysterious world that spikes the player’s curiosity and encourages exploration.

Kromaia (4)

It should also be noted that Kromaia’s vagueness extends to its optional objectives. In one case I found a secret item but the game never bothered to tell me what my discovery actually was, choosing instead to display alien symbols with few clues as to their meaning.

Despite their size, levels still have borders but they are not apparent until crossed, when that happens the camera will suddenly shift to the opposite direction. I didn’t come across this often, but every time I did it threw my off my bearings. In one particularly egregious case the camera suddenly shifted while I was fighting a giant boss, suddenly I couldn’t see my enemy, its projectiles or where I was going.

Kromaia-PK-17

Kromaia’s biggest issue lies with repetition. There are only a few stages in the overall package and the game expects you to replay them several times with different ships. Moreover the continuous onslaught of enemies quickly becomes monotonous. The game tries to get around this issue with an arcade-like point scoring system, it’s not enough to offset the near relentless aggressions. This isn’t to say Kromaia is a difficult game, it’s actually quite accessible, but it does a poor job at balancing the frustration of a SHMUP with the exploration it tries to provide.

The game allows players to use a keyboard & Mouse, controller or a joystick. I didn’t get the chance to try it with a joystick, but between both remaining options, I surprisingly had an easier time steering with the controller. It sacrificed accuracy for an easier flow of movements which I found preferable to its mouse counterpart where a 180º turn often had me struggling with the controls.

Kromaia (2)

Kromaia is an interesting take on space games, combining the constant flow of action found in an on-rails shooter while providing the freedom of movement and exploration found in titles like Descent. The action is solid and its moody atmosphere intrigued me into learning more about this world. Unfortunately, the repetitive and often frustrating nature of the games it pays homage to quickly sets in, preventing players from properly exploring its artistically beautiful locations. For this reason, Kromaia is at its best when played in short bursts.

Kromaia was played on the PC with review code provided by the publisher.

Kromaia
Platform: 
PC
Developer:
Kraken Empire
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Release date: October 23rd, 2014
Price: $19.99
Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish

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New Game Releases: October 30th-November 5th, 2014http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-10-30-2104/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-10-30-2104/#comments Sun, 02 Nov 2014 01:52:27 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12120 Beyond a quartet of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare SKUs and The Wolf Among Us’ leap onto Sony platforms, the week offers a number of remarkable new releases. The Binding of Isaac makes its console debut while the exceedingly prolific Harvest Moon franchise adds another entry to its legacy. For Wii U owners, the availability ...

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Harvest Moon- The Lost Valley

Beyond a quartet of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare SKUs and The Wolf Among Us’ leap onto Sony platforms, the week offers a number of remarkable new releases. The Binding of Isaac makes its console debut while the exceedingly prolific Harvest Moon franchise adds another entry to its legacy. For Wii U owners, the availability of Demon’s Crest, Gargoyle’s Quest II, and Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land on Virtual Console bring a trio of timeless 2D classics onto Nintendo’s system.

PlayStation 3
BlazeRush (PSN, $9.99)
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Limited Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Pro Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition (PSN, $59.99)
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Digital Pro Edition (PSN, $99.99)
Disney Infinity Revolution, 2.0 Edition (PSN, $19.99)
Frozen Synapse Prime (PSN, $19.99)
MotoGP 14 (PSN, $39.99)
Snark Busters: High Society (PSN, $11.99)
The Wolf Among Us (also on PSN, $24.99)

PlayStation 4
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Limited Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Pro Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Digital Pro Edition (PSN, $59.99)
How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition (PSN, $TBA)
MotoGP 14 (PSN, $59.99)
Rocksmith 2014
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PSN, $14.99)
The Wolf Among Us (also on PSN, $24.99)

Wii U
Cosmophony (eShop, $3.99)
Costume Quest 2 (eShop, $14.99)
Demon’s Crest (eShop, $7.99)
Gargoyle’s Quest II: The Demon Darkness (eShop, $4.99)
Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (eShop, $7.99)
Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones (eShop, $14.99)

Xbox 360
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Limited Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Pro Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Digital Pro Edition (XGS, $59.99)
Rocksmith 2014

Xbox One
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Limited Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Pro Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Digital Pro Edition (XGS, $59.99)
Rocksmith 2014

3DS
Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley (also on eShop, $29.99)
Woah Dave! (eShop, $4.99)
Zombie Panic in Wonderland DX (eShop, $6.00)

PS Vita
Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! (PSN, $4.99)
Home – A Unique Horror Adventure (PSN, $2.99, Cross Buy)
MotoGP 14 (PSN, $29.99)
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PSN, $14.99)
The Hungry Horde (PSN, $9.99)
The Wolf Among Us (also on PSN, $24.99)

PC
BossConstructor (Steam, $TBA)
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Steam, $59.99)
Defenders of Time (Steam, $TBA)
Depth (Steam, $TBA)
Logistics Company (Steam, $TBA)
Spectre (Steam, $TBA)
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Steam, $14.99)
World of Subways 1 – The Path (Steam, $TBA)

Robert’s Pick: Sure, Call of Duty: Ghost’s lackluster campaign and middling multiplayer matches induced battle fatigue in franchise vets. But in the interactive entertainment industry, failure is forgiven with a single, kick-ass follow up. While the jury’s hasn’t rendered their final judgment on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the game looks to play to the series’ strengths, providing players with all types of high-tech toys, like jet-packs, laser-guided smart grenades, grappling hooks, and exo-suits. Sixty dollars seems like a reasonable price to play around with all these wonderful weapons of mass distraction.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare

 

Gonçalo’s Pick: Although this series has been mostly forgotten, the Gargoyle’s Quest games stand amongst Capcom’s most innovative games. Mixing platforming with RPG mechanics was quite a risk back in the day, but one that paid off. This holds especially true for its Super Nintendo iteration, Demon’s Crest. Featuring multiple endings, an interesting world to explore and a darker mood than any Capcom game of the time I urge every 2D platformer to give this game a try.

Gargoyles Quest II The Demon Darkness

Eric’s Pick: If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Activision put out multiple versions of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on almost every platform just to increase the odds that I’d pick it. Unfortunately for them, the latest COD shares its release week with Harvest Moon; a franchise near-and-dear to my heart. Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley on the 3DS is the story of a village that has been trapped in an eternal winter. That is, until the main character shows up in town and starts doing what every MC in a Harvest Moon game does; planting vegetables and raising livestock. While I doubt The Lost Valley will decisively topple Harvest Moon 64 from the top of the “greatest Harvest Moon games” list, it should provide 3DS owners with a nice slice-of-life distraction in between sessions of Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

Harvest Moon The Lost Valley

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Podcast 14-2: Leeks, Pickles, and a Dash of Ironyhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/podcast-14-2-leeks-pickles-dash-irony/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/podcast-14-2-leeks-pickles-dash-irony/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 17:18:14 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12114 Beyond offering impressions of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Fluster Clunk, Skylanders: Trap Team, Hohokum, Escape Goat 2, Ingress, To the Moon, and Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, the crew also tackles trivia, offers responses to reader mail, and even diverts to discuss a handful of must-see anime. Additionally, IndieOutlook highlights two titles that should be ...

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Podcast 14-2 Leeks, Pickles

Beyond offering impressions of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Fluster Clunk, Skylanders: Trap Team, Hohokum, Escape Goat 2, Ingress, To the Moon, and Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, the crew also tackles trivia, offers responses to reader mail, and even diverts to discuss a handful of must-see anime. Additionally, IndieOutlook highlights two titles that should be on your radar: the satirical Fat Chicken and achingly affecting Poncho.

Anime
Love Live! School Idol Project
The Devil is a Part Timer
My Little Monster
I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job

Music
Street Fighter 2 Guile’s Theme (R.A.H. Mix), remixed by Rayza
Irony (feat. Hatsune Miku), Scop
The Melancholy of Literary Boy (feat. Hatsune Miku), Getsumen
Tenchu: Shadow Assassins ‘It’s Raining Zen’, remixed by AngelCityOutlaw, timaeus222

Download: Podcast 14-2: Leeks, Pickles, and a Dash of Irony
RSS Feed: The Tech-Gaming Podcast

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http://www.tech-gaming.com/podcast-14-2-leeks-pickles-dash-irony/feed/ 67 Kinect Beyond offering impressions of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Fluster Clunk, Skylanders: Trap Team, Hohokum, Escape Goat 2, Ingress, To the Moon, and Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, the crew also tackles trivia, offers responses to reader mail, Beyond offering impressions of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Fluster Clunk, Skylanders: Trap Team, Hohokum, Escape Goat 2, Ingress, To the Moon, and Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, the crew also tackles trivia, offers responses to reader mail, and even diverts to discuss a handful of must-see anime. Additionally, IndieOutlook highlights two titles that should be on your radar: the satirical Fat Chicken and achingly affecting Poncho.Anime Love Live! School Idol Project The Devil is a Part Timer My Little Monster I Couldn't Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a JobMusic Street Fighter 2 Guile's Theme (R.A.H. Mix), remixed by Rayza Irony (feat. Hatsune Miku), Scop The Melancholy of Literary Boy (feat. Hatsune Miku), Getsumen Tenchu: Shadow Assassins 'It's Raining Zen', remixed by AngelCityOutlaw, timaeus222Download: Podcast 14-2: Leeks, Pickles, and a Dash of Irony RSS Feed: The Tech-Gaming Podcast Robert Allen yes 2:31:52
Fluster Cluck Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/fluster-cluck-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/fluster-cluck-review/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:16:39 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12106 What is the concept? Before online matches became the traditional method of conducting multiplayer competitions, franchises like Bomberman, NBA Jam, and Super Smash Bros. and Power Stone permitted a roomful of players to host heated rivalries. And while modern ‘net-facilitated chatter might have its charms, trash talk is no match for the type of spirited ...

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Fluster Cluck (1)

What is the concept? Before online matches became the traditional method of conducting multiplayer competitions, franchises like Bomberman, NBA Jam, and Super Smash Bros. and Power Stone permitted a roomful of players to host heated rivalries. And while modern ‘net-facilitated chatter might have its charms, trash talk is no match for the type of spirited camaraderie that erupts when a group of real-life acquaintances squares off in the same physical space. Undoubtedly, the emergence of local-only titles like Sports Friends, Towerfall Ascension, and Nidhogg demonstrates that indie developers are hoping to reinvigorate the sense of sociability which accompanied these classic titles. Although the recent release of Fluster Cluck for the PlayStation 4 aspires for the same goal, the game’s repetitive, unpolished, and tedious mechanics means that groups are more likely to experience frustration rather that moment of congenial recreation.

Like many couch-based competitions, Fluster Cluck’s concept is remarkably simple. Each of the game’s four participants guides a flying saucer around each playfield, using a tractor beam to chaperone creatures like cows, camels, zombies, and even downed enemies toward a chikkinizer which converts any dropped organisms into poultry. Like any respectable space craft, your ship is capable of more than just transport duties, with laser cannons able to inhibit the actions of your opponents. In execution, gamers can go about their transmogrifying tasks in either a Career mode that caters to one to four players, or a Battle option which allows participants to either team up or remove the requirement for farming fowl, shifting the focus to UFO fights.

Fluster Cluck (6)

What are the game’s strengths? While players start off with a basic gun, soon they’ll earn a host of unlockable weapons, bringing devices such as turrets, missiles, shields, and decoys in the game’s arsenal. Additionally, experience earned in any of Fluster Cluck’s game mode also rewards players with perks like new ships, pilots, and customization options- lending a morsel of variety to the otherwise pedestrian battles. While some items are little more than cosmetic, other objects increase the speed of your craft or augment the capacity of your cannon.

Fluster Cluck’s other merit is the scoring modifier, which goad gamers toward certain type of strategies. Linger around the chikkinizer too long and players will subject to a camping fine, which reduces the point value of every acquired piece of poultry. Likewise, gamers that down at least three consecutive foes are able to earn a kill steak bonus, which increase the value of every drop-off. Regrettably, players will probably have to learn about these variables on their own. Between the lack of a dedicated tutorial and a clear indicator amidst the game’s chaotic clashes, modifiers may go unnoticed by Cluck’s combatants.

Fluster Cluck (2)

What are the game’s weaknesses? Once players commence Fluster Cluck’s campaign, they’ll likely be disoriented amidst the on-screen action. The title’s grassy, mountain, and desert milieus don’t offer much distinction, with each battlefield covered with nondescript ramps and slopes. Unfortunately, firing your cannon across different elevations proves to be a crapshoot, with shots harmlessly hitting the ground instead of connecting with an opponent. Woefully, this problem is exasperated by a game camera that’s positioned to close to your craft, hiding any trailing foe. Developer LOOT Entertainment was obviously aware on the problem- venture into the game’s menu and you’ll find an option to automatically fire at antagonists on your aft. But selecting this aid weakens a part of Fluster Cluck’s already minimal mechanics.

Despite the game’s efforts to introduce incentives and an assortment stages, rounds of Fluster Cluck quickly meld together, leading to tedium well before the inaugural hour has passed. While players can opt for either an offensive and defense approach, in execution, each game feels woefully similar, with none of the erratic “did you see that moments?” which energize most multiplayer games. What’s more the title’s single-player game isn’t fun, with overly-aggressive AI bots showing superhuman precision.

Fluster Cluck (5)

Beyond the game’s high-resolution output, Fluster Cluck does little to flaunt the PS4’s capabilities. Environments are visually underwhelming, resembling the brightly colored, minimally-textured landscapes of Super Money Ball. Moreover, the game’s physics modeling is especially underwhelming, with saucers articulating little sense of mass and habitually rebounding off opponents like a pinball colliding with a bumper. Socially, the game’s soundtracks is just as bland as its graphics, offering several forgettable melodies which failed to match the cadence of the game’s action.

Is the game worth my money? Even at Fluster Cluck’s discounted price for PS+ subscribers, the game is exceedingly hard to recommend. In essence, the title feels like a fleshed out version of one of Mario Party’s mini-game rather than a fully-realized downloadable title. Players are counseled to avoid getting Flustered, and spending their cash on an actual bucket of chicken. Most likely, the sense of satiation will outlast anything Cluck can cook up.

Fluster Cluck (4)

Fluster Cluck was played on the PlayStation 4 with review code provided by the publisher.

Fluster Cluck
Platform: 
PlayStation 4
Developer:
LOOT Entertainment
Publisher: LOOT Entertainment
Release date: October 21st, 2014
Price: $14.99, $8.99 PS+

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Samurai Warriors 4 Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/samurai-warriors-4-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/samurai-warriors-4-review/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 23:24:41 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12097 Toyko-based Omega Force has always been a remarkably industrious studio, persistently juggling a multiplicity of musuo-minded franchises. In the last eight months alone, Hyrule Warriors, One Piece: Unlimited World Red, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition, Toukiden: The Age of Demons were all given stateside releases, while the studio labored ...

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Samurai Warriors 4 (1)

Toyko-based Omega Force has always been a remarkably industrious studio, persistently juggling a multiplicity of musuo-minded franchises. In the last eight months alone, Hyrule Warriors, One Piece: Unlimited World Red, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition, Toukiden: The Age of Demons were all given stateside releases, while the studio labored on a yet another blitzkrieg of console and portable-based battlers. Given this exceeding prolific output, players might expect that the recent release of Samurai Warriors 4 is of dubious quality- at the very least a homogenous effort that slothfully swaps out Dynasty Warriors’ Three Kingdoms context for Sengoku-era Japan. After all, the collective consensus of the Omega Force’s output seems to be that each game offers only a slight variation on a deep-rooted theme.

At first glance, those suspicions seem to be confirmed. Given Orochi 3 Ultimate’s cornucopia of content and approaches to gameplay, Warriors 4’s two main modes seem like the type of cutback Electronic Arts performs when they port one of their sports franchises to a new generation of hardware. But spend a bit of time with the title and you’ll understand Omega Force’s design decision. Despite the Warriors’ series departure from reality, where combatants routinely plow through thousands of foes, the developers want players to appreciate the collection of 55 historical figures in the game, providing a pleasing new angle for the franchise.

Samurai Warriors 4 (6)

Adeptly, distinction transcends the fighting style devoted to each personality. Sure, a certain amount of the enjoyment and longevity of Samurai Warriors 4 stems from the singularity afforded to each character. Unique weapons, movesets, ensure that players will want to try out each protagonist, while persisting with and leveling up their favorites. Special Moves further stress the diversity, with characters able to lay traps or employ ninjutsu to clear out packs of peons.

But fully voiced dialog during and after each battle help to bring each Warrior to life, revealing the ambitions and allegiances of each personality with writing that easily outshines Omega Force’s past efforts. In the past, secondaries have habitually been given a short shrift; here, their interactions have been more seamlessly woven into Samurai Warriors 4’s rich tapestry of tales. What’s more, the game’s roster includes notables like Goemon Ishikawa, Kojirō Sasaki, and Musashi Miyamoto that were left on the cutting room floor for the series’ third iteration.

Samurai Warriors 4 (5)

Story mode is split into multiple Legends, each revealing a view of the territorial conflict from the perspective of different daimyo and their respective clans. Collectively, this assembly of eleven multi-stage scenarios provides an impressive time sink, as players follow the tangled trajectories of the families like the Shikoku, Kantō, Sanada. Finish the Oda and Takeda Legends and the game unlocks a lengthy Land United Scenario, which offers a comprehensive campaign that follows the unification efforts of the era.

On Samurai Warriors 4’s easiest level, victory is a largely linear trek, with thousands of peons, a few commanders, and an end boss defiantly standing on the path to victory. Increase the difficulty setting and players will have to be a bit more strategic, using the game’s character switching mechanic to swap between two protagonists, with the unselected character autonomously roaming and ravishing the battlefield. Alternatively, a second online or local player can assist players in their pursuits.

Samurai Warriors 4 (2)

In execution, the standardized structure of each stage remains a disadvantage for the Warriors franchise. Although character variety produces a bit of variability, essentially environments push players through labyrinthine layouts, which can diminish Story Mode’s long-term appeal. Fortunately, Chronicle Mode offers a bit of variation, extending smaller-scale missions for participants.

Here, players begin their rise through the ranks in a robust character creation suite, building their avatar from an impressive collections of body parts, costumes, and weapons. From the initial position as a lowly foot soldier, each subsequent mission helps to build your reputation, offering a multitude of choices to help realize your ambitions. Nicely, branching dialog tress extend this independence, allowing players to opt of missions, or help to build their army. Like Story Mode, there’s an astonishingly amount of content to be found, capable of preserving a player’s attention for upwards of forty hours.

Samurai Warriors 4 (3)

A number of key changes to gameplay are bound to please longtime musuo maniacs. Most noticeable is the inclusion of hyper attacks, which allow to use the heavy strike button to lunge at opponents, effectively knocking down dozens of foes at once. Although Warriors combat has always favored the hyperreal, with a single character overpowering scores of simultaneous adversaries, here it’s pure spectacle. Now, a rapid tap of the triangle button turns players into a whirling dervish of destruction, with players darting between each throng. On the PlayStation 4, it’s a startling visual effect, advanced by the game’s high framerate, impressive physics modeling, and detailed texturing.

But while hyper attacks are effective against lesser opponents, they’re largely useless against elevated foes. In these instances, players are prodded into using a well-timed block, disrupting their opponent’s cadence, and giving the opportunity for upset. While a seemingly small element, this decision helps to distinguish these duals from the countless instances of peon overpowering which drives more stages. Likewise a finishing move, called a Tate offering a highlight, delivering a unique kill animation if gamers can accomplish a certain prerequisite.

Samurai Warriors 4 (4)

Although Omega Force could have rested on their laurels and offered a tepid contextualization for Samurai Warriors 4, the developers really went all out for the title. From the integration of a new engine which harnesses the power of the PS4, reworking the plotline to give players a better perspective of the intrigue, this is a major step forward for the team. For those that have sat on the sidesides and contemplated giving the franchise a try, Warriors 4 is an ideal starting point. Unquestionably, musuo veterans will want to add this game to their library.

Samurai Warriors 4  was played on the PlayStation 4 with review code provided by the publisher.

Samurai Warriors 4
Platform: 
PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PS Vita
Developer:
Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo America
Release date: October 21st, 2014
Price: $49.99 (PS3), $59.99 (PS4), $39.99 (Vita)
Languages: Japanese voice, English subtitles
ESRB: Teen

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New Game Releases: October 23rd- 29th, 2014http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-10-23-2014/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-10-23-2014/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:25:49 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12085 Not long ago, game shopping was a binary choice: you decided to purchase a particular title or you didn’t. Woefully, that’s not the case anymore, with publishers offering an array of different SKUs, goading prudent players to do a bit of research. Case in point: this week offers at multiple versions of Sunset Overdrive, each ...

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Sunset Overdrive

Not long ago, game shopping was a binary choice: you decided to purchase a particular title or you didn’t. Woefully, that’s not the case anymore, with publishers offering an array of different SKUs, goading prudent players to do a bit of research. Case in point: this week offers at multiple versions of Sunset Overdrive, each differentiated by a number of confusing perks.

Those that pre-ordered the game will earn two additional weapons in the Day One Edition in addition to a number of retailer-specific goodies. The Microsoft Store gives the Hangover, which may not play homage to Zach Galifianakis, but does provide players with an armament comprised of beer cans taped on an electrified pitchfork, while Amazon customers receive the Hotty Shotty gun and Wasteland skin. Strangely, not all stores are offering comparable bonuses, with Wal-Mart only extending a single item and Target apparently furnishing no supplemental items.

All of this begs the question, what was so special about the eighty dollar Sunset Overdrive Day One Deluxe Edition? Nothing really, besides getting the game and the obligatory season pass. In the end, Microsoft and Insomniacs’ methods seem more likely to bewilder and disillusion loyal fans, rather than offer any type of worthwhile reward.

PlayStation 3
Costume Quest 2 (PSN, $14.99)
MX vs ATV: Supercross (also on PSN, $29.99)
SingStar: Ultimate Party (Free to download, paid content)
WWE 2K15

PlayStation 4
Costume Quest 2 (PSN, $14.99)
Home (PSN, $TBA)
Lords of the Fallen (also on PSN, $59.99)
NBA LIVE 15 (also on PSN, $59.99)
SingStar: Ultimate Party (Free to download, paid content)
The Unfinished Swan (PSN, $14.99, cross-buy)
WWE 2K15 (also on PSN, $59.99)

Wii U
Bayonetta 2 (also on eShop, $59.99)
Castlevania Aria of Sorrow (eShop, $7.99)

Xbox 360
MX vs ATV: Supercross (also on XGS, $29.99)
WWE 2K15

Xbox One
Lords of the Fallen (also on XGS, $59.99)
NBA LIVE 15 (also on XGS, $59.99)
Sunset Overdrive Day One Edition (also on XGS, $59.99)
Sunset Overdrive Day One Deluxe Edition (also on XGS, $79.99)
WWE 2K15 (also on XGS, $59.99)

DS
Magical Diary: Secrets Sharing (eShop, $4.99)

3DS
Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay (also on eShop, $29.99)
Castle Conqueror EX (eShop, $3.99)
Fantasy Life (also on eShop, $39.99)
KORG DSN-12 (eShop, $37.00)
Pokémon Art Academy (also on eShop, $29.99)
Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce (also on eShop, $29.99)
Secret Journeys: Cities of the World (eShop, $4.99)
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (eShop, $19.99)
The Legend of Korra: A New Era Begins (also on eShop, $29.99)

PS Vita
Freedom Wars (also on PSN, $29.99)
The Unfinished Swan (PSN, $14.99, cross-buy)
Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops

PC
Daedalus – No Escape (Steam, $TBA)
Skara – The Blade Remains (Steam, $TBA)
Fabula Mortis (Steam, $TBA)
Lords of the Fallen (Steam, $49.99)
Mythos: The Beginning (Steam, $TBA)
Retro-Pixel Castles (Steam, $14.99)
Skara – The Blade Remains (Steam, $TBA)
Zero Point (Steam, $TBA)

Robert’s Pick: Sure, I might pick up Sunset Overdrive, if I can navigate through the obstacle course of retailer exclusives. Much more likely is a purchase of Bayonetta 2, which also includes a copy of the first game regardless of which merchant you patronize. I loved the original title’s combination of outrageous hyperkinetic speed, quirky outlandishness, and profusion of visual and mechanical polish. The sequel looks to outstrip its predecessor in every possible way.

Bayonetta 2

 

Gonçalo’s Pick: There’s nothing I can say about Bayonetta 2 most of you don’t already know. It looks great, runs at smoother framerate than most games on more powerful systems and it’s made by Platimum, a studio known for its quality action games. To put it quite simply, this game is the reason I’m now on the market to buy a Wii U.

Bayonetta 2 (1)

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Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/sleeping-dogs-definitive-edition-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/sleeping-dogs-definitive-edition-review/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:05:36 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12075 Traditionally, the launch of a new generation of console has been marked with a succinct transitional period, with companies swiftly shifting their efforts from legacy hardware to shiny, new hardware. But the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One revealed an atypical approach, with a large number of titles continuing to be simultaneously published ...

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Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition (1)

Traditionally, the launch of a new generation of console has been marked with a succinct transitional period, with companies swiftly shifting their efforts from legacy hardware to shiny, new hardware. But the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One revealed an atypical approach, with a large number of titles continuing to be simultaneously published across both hardware generations. Even more remarkable is the substantial number of high-definition ports crafted for the new consoles. While these enhanced remakes are worthwhile purchases for those who sat on the sidelines during the last generation, they’re often a tough recommendation for players contemplating a double-dip.

And that’s exactly the dilemma faced by prospective purchasers of Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition. The remake bundles all 27 pieces of the game downloadable content onto a Blu-ray disc while incorporating a multitude of visual upgrades, creating a near-requisite experience for newcomers. But for open-world junkies who’ve already explored the game’s interpretation of the seedy Hong Kong underworld, the dearth of any new material and the presence of a several residual failings means that returning players might be better of waiting to see how the upcoming Triad Wars turns out.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition (4)

But Sleeping Dogs’ fresh recruits will quickly discover the game is built on an extremely solid foundation. In execution, protagonist Wei Shen’s straddling of principled police behavior and an attraction to the allegiance shown by the Sun On Yee Triads not only recalls the tension which fueled HK films like Infernal Affairs and Special ID, but also nurtures the game’s dialectical play styles. As with most narratives that explore the cognitive dissonance faced by undercover cops, Shen loyalties waver between the two opposing factions, creating a set-up where players can dispense violence and wanton destruction while still extending the structure and mission objectives of police work.

Much of the game’s success can be attributed to the writers’ familiarity with HK cinema. Undertakings draw directly from the oeuvre of renowned directors like Woo, Tong, and Lam, with gritty and terse (as well as habitually coarse) dialog punctuating each event. Likewise, melee combat can often feel like cinematic action sequences, sending opponents into environmental pieces which shatter and splinter with greater frequency. Battling draws upon Arkham and Yakuza’s mechanics, allowing players to strike, counter, and grapple with foes via well-timed presses of the face buttons. One drawback with the Definitive Edition, is that developer United Front Games squandered the opportunity to add more types of opponents and bolster the number of enemy models. Smartly, you won’t see all of Wei Shen’s destructive capability too quickly, with separate tech trees that grow depending on the character’s interaction with cops, triads, and the Hong Kong populace.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition (6)

Both expansions, the horror-themed Nightmare in North Point and epilogue Year of the Snake, are available from the Definitive Edition’s main menu, offering a duo of supplemental adventures that don’t measure up to the quality of the core game. Certainly, each have their moments- with the former offering some affecting conversations with Vincent and the second adding a number of lively tools to Shen’s arsenal. But largely, both expansions feel far too linear, brief, and don’t demonstrate enough distinction from Sleeping Dogs’ main campaign.

Visually, the Definitive Edition flaunts a nice coat of high-def polish. Running in 1080p, the game’s draw distances have been expanded, while urban areas are more realistically populated with roaming NPCs with street vendors have an amplified number of goods. Texturing for these secondaries has been noticeably improved, making them appear less like automatons. Sadly, the advancement wasn’t bestowed on principals, and the sporadic stilted animation or awkward lip synching can divulge that the Definitive Edition wasn’t built from the ground up for next-gen systems. Although the game targets a thirty frame-per-second output and has eliminated instances of screen tearing, racing through heavily populated areas can induce a minor drop, which can make driving the difficult just as players need the more control precision. One disappointing holdover from the Xbox 360/PlayStation iteration is the game’s camera, which has a difficult time framing the action when players are reversing in or on a vehicle.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition (5)

But despite these transgressions, Sleeping Dogs’ does flirt with the picturesque, especially when speeding over streets dotted with reflective puddles or when the specter of volumetric fog blankets sections of the city. Skulking Hong Kong at night looks especially attractive now thanks to animated signage, and improved lighting effects. Collectively, these improvements help to augment the impact of Dogs’ most essential character, the city of Hong Kong. As such, her skyline is fuller, while her congested streets and network of alleys feel richer and a bit more convincing.

The content, rather than the high-definition conversation is the reason to own Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition. While the game’s new-found gloss is indulging, it’s the amalgam of absorbing storyline and combination of proven mechanics that make the title an obligatory experience for aficionados of the open-world genre. For players who already own the original game, the Definitive Edition’s improvements are satisfying but not enough of an incentive to purchase a full-priced ticket back to Hong Kong’s underbelly.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition (3)

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition was played on the PlayStation 4 with review code provided by the publisher

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
Platform: 
PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer:
United Front Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: October 14th, 2014
Price: $59.99 digital or physical
Languages: English/Cantonese voice, English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian subtitles
ESRB: Mature

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Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/tears-tiara-ii-heir-overlord-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/tears-tiara-ii-heir-overlord-review/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 04:14:14 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12062 The potential to become blindsided by Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord is remarkably high. Outside of otaku circles, the title isn’t likely to trigger recognition, with six characters in Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match once representing the franchise’s sole stateside presence. Even for those who fervently follow Japanese gaming, Heir of the Overlord ...

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Tears to Tiara II Heir of the Overlord (1)

The potential to become blindsided by Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord is remarkably high. Outside of otaku circles, the title isn’t likely to trigger recognition, with six characters in Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match once representing the franchise’s sole stateside presence. Even for those who fervently follow Japanese gaming, Heir of the Overlord might be met with middling expectations, either from the eroge legacy of its predecessor or the game’s lackluster art design. Moreover, Atlus’ decision to release the title at a discounted, forty dollar MRSP might not bolster player confidence.

But once players venture into Tears to Tiara II’s protracted opening sequence, which demonstrates the game’s resplendent writing and a plotline that unapologetically poignant, they’ll likely be struck by the virtues of this captivating blend of visual novel and strategy role-playing game. Whereas the weighty, emotionally-laden stories in yesteryear’s RPGs seem to have given way to frothy, comical premises, Heir of the Overlord reminds us that a powerful plotline has the potential to remain with players long after the final credits have rolled.

Tears to Tiara II Heir of the Overlord (3)

Although Tears to Tiara II themes might be familiar, involving forgotten deities, a reluctant hero, and merciless, dominating empires- the amount of detail devoted to sentiment is uncommon. When we first meet the game’s protagonist, Hamil, he’s being flogged for working too slowly during the forced demolition of a cherished temple. As he’s beaten, his captors mock his heritage, taunting the character’s bloodline from Hispana’s once-ruling royal family; a dynasty that was subsequently subjugated.  A flash-forward and dream sequence reveal Hamil’s bastion of hope- a young goddess who inspires the character to rise up against the malevolent Imperial Army. While Hamil is reluctant to accept his fate, once the goddess is kidnapped, the protagonist is quickly forced to take action, soon uniting with a clandestine militia.

Much of the game’s narrative proficiency stems from its rich dialog. Whereas most games would merely show the aforementioned lashing using animated sprites, Tears to Tiara II is unexpectedly verbose, as Hamil goes into detail about not just the physical agony of the act, but the consequent pain felt during his everyday actions. What’s more, the protagonist’s early dialog with Tarte, the goddess, is especially charming, with Hamil expressing tremendous humility and piousness. While the conversation would be powerful on its own, when accompanied by the haunting melodies on Tears to Tiara II’s prodigious soundtrack, the dialog becoming achingly beautiful- revealing an exquisiteness that rarely plumbed in game plotlines.

Tears to Tiara II Heir of the Overlord (6)

Although the game’s character arcs are especially gratifying, Heir of the Overlord does have a few pacing issues. Sequences between save points can extend past the two hour mark, meaning play sessions can become significant commitments. Similarly, beyond a brief foreshadow during the game’s conclusion, Tears to Tiara II’s competent combat isn’t revealed into several hours into the game.

For better or worse, engagements don’t veer wilding from the SRPG mechanics established by popular franchises such as Disgaea and Final Fantasy Tactics. Players’ take turns moving and issuing attack orders on a grid-based battlefields, with essential information like reach and strike ranges clearly articulated, allowing players to focus on their battle strategies. Nuance comes in Tiara II’s variety of allies, from archers that can dish out long-ranged damage, sturdy warriors who can absorb damage while inflicting injury to several adjacent spaces, as well as the obligatory mages who can exploit elemental spell to wound foes. Positioning proves to be one of the decisive elements of warfare, with strikes against a foes’ susceptible backside more likely to land and deliver increased damage.

Tears to Tiara II Heir of the Overlord (3)

While combat is hardly innovative, there are a few elements which are bound to hold a players attention. Select allies can change form on the battlefield, temporary transforming into instruments of destruction. Naturally, this kind of power comes at a cost, with characters changing back after two turns of play and forced to recover, making them particularly vulnerable to enemy attack. Likewise, a number of party members are able to ride mounted animals, which not only increases their attack range, but also augments their quantity of hit points. While the game doesn’t quite necessitate grinding as much as its contemporaries, players should prepare to visit Tiara II’s free-battle areas with regularity. Ultimately, it feels as if this choice was made to pad the title’s already extensive playtime.

Although skirmishes are no pushover, except on the game’s easiest difficulty settings, a few design decisions are likely to help players. Heir of the Overlord’s shirks the concept of permadeath, allowing players to experiment with different tactics, without fear that they’ll eternally lose one of their favorite allies. Pleasingly, the game also permits players to ‘rewind’ turns, taking the sting out of impetuous battle plans. During the title’s seventy-plus hour playtime (as well as a fifty floor, post-game challenge), Heir of the Overlord will exhibit a decent amount of difficulty and diversity. What’s especially contenting is that unlike say, Natural Doctrine, Tiara II doesn’t constrain player into adopting a single strategy, sanctioning a wealthy of solutions to each stage.

Tears to Tiara II Heir of the Overlord (4)

As mentioned, Tears to Tiara II’s art design is an impediment to enjoyment. Beyond the glaring dissonance between the well-drawn portraits and their substandard polygonal representations, the game’s visual are often middling. Frequently resembling the aesthetics common during the PlayStation 3’s launch window, Heir of the Overlord frequently cut corners, jump cutting past cut scenes which should be animated, and exhibiting simplistic textures and jaggy shadow modeling. Mercifully, the game’s aural output fares far better, with first-class Japanese voice-acting complemented by a soundtrack that ranges from sorrowful to stirring.

Tears to Tiara II only link with its predecessor is the same broad setting, making Heir of the Overlord an appropriate entry point for Stateside and European players. Heading into the title, players can expect lengthy conversational set pieces to be balancing by an affecting, wonderfully realized plotline. Agreeably, combat is also engaging, extending a healthy amount of tactical conundrums at players. Although it might feel as if you’re advancing the narrative rather than affecting the world, Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord proves that adept storytelling can occasional trump player autonomy.

Tears to Tiara II Heir of the Overlord (5)

Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord was played on the PlayStation 3 with review code provided by the publisher.

Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord
Platform: 
PlayStation 3
Developer:
Aquaplus
Publisher: Atlus
Release date: October 14th, 2014 (US), October 15th (EU)
Price: $39.99 digital or physical
Languages: Japanese voice/English text

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New Game Releases: October 16th-22nd, 2014http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-october-16th-22nd-2014/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/new-game-releases-october-16th-22nd-2014/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 17:26:12 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12058 From Clementine’s search for safety in The Walking Dead: Season Two to Lo Wang’s ferocious foray in Shadow Warrior, this week’s itinerary of new releases offers a variety of notable titles. Retro-minded fans will be pleased to know a number of worthwhile titles are due as well, with Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance and Harvest Moon ...

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Samurai Warriors 4

From Clementine’s search for safety in The Walking Dead: Season Two to Lo Wang’s ferocious foray in Shadow Warrior, this week’s itinerary of new releases offers a variety of notable titles. Retro-minded fans will be pleased to know a number of worthwhile titles are due as well, with Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance and Harvest Moon 2 hitting digital marketplaces.

PlayStation 3
Just Dance 2015 (also on PSN, $39.99)
F1 2014 (also on PSN, $59.99)
Samurai Warriors 4 (also on PSN, $49.99)
Race the Sun (PSN, $9.99, Cross-buy)
The Legend of Korra (PSN, $14.99)
The Voice: I Want You (also on PSN, $49.99)
The Walking Dead: Season Two (also on PSN, $29.99)

PlayStation 4
Escape Goat 2 (PSN, $9.99)
Fluster Cluck (PSN, $14.99, $8.99 PS+ )
Just Dance 2015 (also on PSN, $49.99)
Race the Sun (PSN, $9.99, Cross-buy)
Samurai Warriors 4 (also on PSN, $59.99)
Shadow Warrior (also on PSN, $39.99)
The Legend of Korra (PSN, $14.99)
The Walking Dead: Season Two (also on PSN, $29.99)

Wii 
The Voice: I Want You

Wii U
Ballpoint Universe: Infinite (eShop, $4.99)
Chests O’ Booty (eShop, $1.99)
Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance (eShop, $7.99)
Just Dance 2015 (also on eShop, $39.99)
Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut (eShop, $12.99)
Paper Monsters Recut (eShop, $7.99)
PING 1.5+ (eShop, $4.99)
The Voice: I Want You (also on eShop, $49.99)

Xbox 360
Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (also on XGS, $49.99)
Just Dance 2015 (also on PSN, $49.99)
The Legend of Korra (XGS, $14.99)

Xbox One
Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (also on XGS, $59.99)
Just Dance 2015 (also on XGS $49.99)
The Legend of Korra (XGS, $14.99)
The Voice: I Want You (also on XGS, $49.99)

3DS
Harvest Moon 2 GBC (eShop, $4.99)
Pyramids 2 (eShop, $4.99)
The Legend of Dark Witch (eShop, $3.99)

PS Vita
3-In-1 Mega Bundle (PSN, $9.99)
Race the Sun (PSN, $9.99, Cross-buy)
Samurai Warriors 4 (also on PSN, $39.99)
The Walking Dead: Season Two (also on PSN, $29.99)

PC
Data Hacker: Corruption (Steam, $4.49)
Deathtrap (Steam, $19.99)
Devil’s Dare (Steam, $10.39)
Dreamfall Chapters (Steam, $29.99)
Fat Chicken (Steam, $9.99)
IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad (Steam, $59.99)
Jagged Alliance Flashback (Steam, $23.99)
Life of Pixel (Steam, $6.99)
Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror (Steam, $7.99)
Prophour23 (Steam, $11.99)
Screencheat (Steam, $13.49)
The Legend of Korra (Steam, $14.99)
Time Rifters (Steam, $8.99)
Vampires: Guide Them to Safety! (Steam, $4.49)

Robert’s Pick: While Samurai Warriors 4, Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance, and even Fluster Cluck are all worthwhile selections, there are too many exciting title on the horizon to give any of these games a wholehearted recommendation. Next week, Nintendo is delivering a tag-team attack of Bayonetta 2 and Pokémon Art Academy, with 2K bringing Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth to PCs. Soon after, Sunset Overdrive ships to retail, potentially making free time as scarce as mint condition copies of Nintendo World Championships.

Bayonetta 2

 

Gonçalo’s Pick: While most Platinum fans are eagerly awaiting next week’s release of Bayonetta 2, I’m twiddling my thumbs in excitement for the upcoming Legend of Korra. Platinum is a studio known for its fast-paced quality games and I expect no less from either title.

The show is known for its deep storyline and alluring art-style, both of which I hope to see reproduced in its videogame counterpart. With that said, I question the logic of releasing both Korra and Bayonetta 2 back-to-back.

Legend of Korra

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Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/senran-kagura-shinovi-versus-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/senran-kagura-shinovi-versus-review/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 18:05:56 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12050 Last August, Acquire’s Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed took players to an imaginative interpretation of Toyko’s Akihabara district, where they were tasked with ripping the clothes off of vampiric foes. Although titillation was undoubtedly a driving force behind the design decision, it could be argued that seizing the attire from antagonists so they could be ...

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Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (1)

Last August, Acquire’s Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed took players to an imaginative interpretation of Toyko’s Akihabara district, where they were tasked with ripping the clothes off of vampiric foes. Although titillation was undoubtedly a driving force behind the design decision, it could be argued that seizing the attire from antagonists so they could be ravaged by the sun could be an elaborate metaphor for shame. Essentially, garments were the only thing shielding both you and your foes from calamity.

While the recent release of Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus employs a shockingly similar gameplay mechanic, it would be difficult to consider the mix and pugilism and pantsu anything more than indulgent fan-service. But that’s not to say that Shinovi Versus is without merit; between the game’s competent Dynasty Warriors-esque combat and ambitions for character development, there are a number of eminent elements that are poised to please otaku.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (3)

Mercifully, the game’s exposition isn’t quite as skimpy as its protagonists’ wardrobes, with an introduction conveying a heated rivalry between a quartet of all-female shinobi schools. The underlying premise may seem a bit skeletal, but Shinovi Versus certainly tries to flesh out its roster of kunoichi, offering optional side missions which help to delineate and develop each character, establishing appealing, if tropey motivations for each protagonist. The one downside is that most of the info is presented through continuous screens of text, with the sporadic motionless protagonist in the backdrop. Undoubtedly, animated portraits would have helped players connect with the characters.

The game’s main campaign places players in a hub room, where they can tackle essential missions, shop and change their costumes, or chat with their fellow ninja.  The liberal amount of money earned during each undertaking can be used to purchase basic uniforms, lingerie that’s revealed when characters take damage, as well as the shinobi costumes that players wear when they initiate a transformation which allows for more aggressive attacks. Naturally, there’s also a bevy of accessories to customize the look of the game’s collection of twenty pugnacious maidens, extending essentials like cat ears, bunny tails, and odango. Gamers with a susceptibility for gambling will appreciate Senran Kagura’s lingerie lottery, where they can wager earned zeni to win undergarments from that are ranked from “meh” to “climactic”. Naturally, the more money you’re willing to risk, the less fabric you’re likely to obtain.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (4)

Likewise, players can adjust the difficulty level of each stage, elevating the level of challenge for the possibility of earning more experience and currency. Levels themselves lend themselves for portable play, offering ten to fifteen minute multi-stage missions which typically conclude with a boss battle. Playing through Shinovi Versus’ comprehensive tutorial will familiarize players with the fundamentals of combat, imparting the games arsenal of ground and air attacks, as well as dashes which also allows the protagonist to cancel out of an attack. Meanwhile, the game’s aforementioned Shinobi Transformations are capable of turning the tide of battle, with a press of the left trigger changing the uniform of the protagonist, extending a new repertoire of attacks, and refilling the health bar.

Against most minions, combat proves fulfilling, with players able to bowl over a bevy of foes with a simple combo. But once enemies issue projectile attacks or a boss appears, Shinovi Versus’ battles can verge into the vexing. While blocking is an effective technique against ordinary opponents, it’s useless against airborne foes. What’s more, bosses with humongous health bars have the ability to stun or juggle the player, which can lead to aggravation when players are unable to retaliate with a transformation or even parry. While players can upgrade their offensive and defensive stats to even the balance, doing so involves a bit of level grinding. And even when players feel as if they have the statistical upper hand in battle, Shinovi Versus’ camera does a half-hearted job of framing the action, forcing players to fiddle with the right stick while their busy evading a constant stream of incoming assaults.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (6)

Save for the oscillating level difficulty, combat can be enjoyable. Characters level up at a brisk rate, adding extra moves to their arsenal or abilities like health regeneration, which can help overcome tougher opponents. Undoubtedly, Senran Kagura’s fisticuffs are visually pleasing, with inflicted damage depicted by a tearing and removal of clothes. Like many ecchi games, there’s no actual nudity, with adhesive bandages covering nipples and g-strings obscuring character’s backsides. That said, Shinovi Versus is unabashedly lascivious, with massive mammary glands that jiggle and oscillate hypnotically. One mechanic even tasks players with using the touchscreen to jostle a set of on-screen boobs, providing access to elevated attacks as well as the possibility of public embarrassment. But there’s one nagging blemish on the game’s otherwise amusing on-screen action: there’s a noticeable lack of diversity in Shinovi Versus’ character models, with every character having the same body type.

At least, the title delivers graphical variety in other areas, with a gratifying mixture of antagonists and attractively-rendered environments. Largely, the game’s framerate is stable, retaining fluidity even when throngs of foes are being sent reeling through the air. Save for a few Shinovi Versus’ localization is accomplished, offering subtitled text for the game’s Japanese voice-overs. Overall, the game’s only technical issue are the protracted and frequent load times, which recall the performance of a PS Vita launch title.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (5)

Entering Senran Kagura’s dojo allows players to challenge up to three opponents via an online or ad-hoc connection. While the game’s community is still small, making matchmaking a sluggish process, the title offers gamers a nice supply of options, allowing for a variety of different rules, win conditions, and participant levels for each match. In execution, bouts are generally lag-free, but a lack of character balancing means that online sessions are ruled by certain dominating characters.

Although Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus isn’t free of flaw, competent combat, character developer, and unabashedly ecchi elements make the game an acceptable addition for both fans of the franchise as well as aficionados of bawdy battlers. Much like the Dynasty Warriors series, missions might seem homogenous, but engagement can be found in the cultivation of Shinovi Versus’ cast of twenty characters.

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus was played on the PS Vita with review code provided by the publisher.

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: XSEED Games (US), Marvelous AQL Europe (EU)
Release date: October 14th, 2014 (US), October 15th (EU)
Price: $39.99 digital, $49.99 “Let’s Get Physical” Limited retail edition
Languages: Japanese voice/English text
ESRB: Mature

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TRI: Of Friendship and Madness Reviewhttp://www.tech-gaming.com/tri-friendship-madness-review/ http://www.tech-gaming.com/tri-friendship-madness-review/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 04:33:32 +0000 http://www.tech-gaming.com/?p=12040 Robert’s Take: Successful puzzle games allow the seemingly impossible to be accomplished, leading players down a path of nearly imperceptible path of breadcrumbs. The genre’s most prestigious titles are able to perform this feat with an exceptionally lean toolset, crafting a progression of challenges from every conceivable combination of abilities. In essence, it’s the formula ...

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TRI Of Friendship and Madness  (1)

Robert’s Take: Successful puzzle games allow the seemingly impossible to be accomplished, leading players down a path of nearly imperceptible path of breadcrumbs. The genre’s most prestigious titles are able to perform this feat with an exceptionally lean toolset, crafting a progression of challenges from every conceivable combination of abilities. In essence, it’s the formula that has allowed celebrated games like Lemmings, The Lost Vikings, and the Portal series to earn a spot in the pantheon of puzzlers.

And while a few blemishes prohibit the recent release of TRI: Of Friendship and Madness from joining that elevated echelon, the PC title exhibits an adept mastery of elements, uniting brisk exploration with a rapid succession of navigational dilemmas. What’s more, developer Rat King demonstrates a deft command at level design, playfully giving players a glimpse of their core objective, but forcing them to get their through an elaborate gauntlet of challenges.

Following a brief cinematic which sets up a sets-up a dialectical tension between two differently hued foxes, TRI’s opening stage imparts the basics of navigation. Beyond using a traditional mouse and input scheme to move through the level, the developers deliver a few concessions to make the game’s first-person platforming a bit less awkward. Additions like being able to clinging to the edge of a platform by holding down the jump button might see humdrum at first, but once TRI reveals its passion for verticality, players will be thankful for its inclusion.

TRI Of Friendship and Madness  (4)

Every stage tasks players with collecting three fox statues and bringing them to an altar. While players can roam freely, discovering a wealth of additional collectables is every alcove, oblique guidance is always available, with a key press showing the general direction of each figurine. As such, TRI offers a pleasing balance, with levels that feel substantial and complex, but aren’t so big that gamers will become hopelessly lost.

The game’s second stage grants gamers the ability to construct a seemingly endless number of three-sided platforms. Here, players create a triangle by defining three points in front of them. Once the third vertice has been selected, the polygon is filled with color. If it’s yellow, that means the triangle can be traversed, while a red figure is too steep to be negotiated. As such, right-clicking the crimson colored triangle removes the figure from the environment.

Building makeshift walkways (and later, gravity-defying footpaths) out of three-sided figures isn’t easy at first. Expect your provisional ladders and platforms to have the occasional fissure which can send you back to square, or rather, triangle one. Construction can also be a bit fiddly. While the game does superimpose translucent build markers on-screen, occasionally the game automatically designates the third vertice, which isn’t always where you might want it.

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But any small frustrations with level traversal are offset by TRI’s autonomous nature. Stages are devoid of enemies, so players won’t have to worry about foes meddling with your construction efforts. Although the end of level displays your competition time (as well as the number of Tri’s created), there’s no mechanic to artificially goad gamers along. As such, Of Friendship and Madness often conveys a serene, Zen-like demeanor which mirrors its aesthetic choices.

Just don’t assume the game’s relaxed vibe means that TRI doesn’t offer an engaging game experience. While each of the game’s sixteen stages can usually be completed in about half an hour, each level’s succession of traversal challenges, switch-based puzzles, trap doors, and other conundrums makes playthroughs seem about than half as long as they really are. Paradoxically, this kind of misperception of time is a fairly reliable indicator of the quality of a game. Certainly, TRI: Of Friendship and Madness is a superb way to fill your free moments.

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Gonçalo’s Take: Valve’s Portal games have been instrumental in popularizing the first person puzzler genre during these last few years. We’ve now seen various studios attempting to further evolve this style of gameplay but none seem to have been able to strike a chord as the original Aperture Science trials did.

Of all these entries, Rat King’s Tri is perhaps the first game to have provided me with the same style of experimental glee I felt when I first got my hands on a portal gun. The story is kept vague if heavily inspired by Japanese folklore.

Players are presented with a tale of the fox Gods; two innocent and playful spirits who have been mysteriously separated. A silent protagonist simply known as the acolyte serves as our avatar, who is then tasked with finding and reuniting the fox Gods.

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With the exception of the tutorial area, Tri’s action takes place in temples, each serving as a level to explore. Scattered throughout these locations are fox icons which must be collected by the acolyte. The first level has players reaching these through a mix of 3D platforming, puzzle solving and spatial recognition, which serves as a nice introduction to Tri’s basic control scheme.

The game’s ingenious gameplay really gets going when you acquire the power of Tri, an ability that lets you draw triangles out of thin air. These can be used as platform or bridges but require some time to master their use. Triangles need three solid points like walls, floors or other triangles and must be created at an angle that allows your character to walk on top of it without slipping.

More abilities are unlocked later such as the ability to walk on walls or reflecting light, but the game places a heavy focus on its triangle-creating feature and with good reason too; it’s incredibly fun. Most maps are relatively small in size, but hide many secrets and pathways to players with enough imagination and curiosity.

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At one point I found myself staring at the ceiling of a temple, wondering if I could build bridge. There was no in-game motivation for me to do so, I simply did it for the personal challenge. As I reached the top I uncovered a hidden easter egg left by the developers, it was at this point I realized how meticulously every map was designed. They function as a playground for Tri’s abilities and encourage players to use imagination with the powers they are given.

Gamers who require in-game rewards for trailing off the beaten path will be glad to know every stage features several optional tanuki idols which once collected, unlock making-of images, developer’s commentary and more.

Story segments are occasionally presented as players progress through each temple. These are presented either through both in-game dialogue and motion-comic cutscenes. I found the latter especially impressive due to its unique artstyle, mixing a Japanese inspired look with the triangle motif. This even expands to the in-game engine as dust particles, leaves and other miniscule objects are all in fact, triangles drawn to resemble their real world counterparts.

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In fact, the game features an appealing and colorful if minimalistic look. Much like the structures we explore, every visual detail seems to have been carefully woven by the developers. Even the soundtrack is unique, mixing western and eastern instruments as well as styles to creating a rare musical blend with a hint of humor thrown in for good measure.

Tri is definitely one of the most memorable entries in its genre. From the abilities you are given to its sounds, art style and even how gameplay flows, Tri provides a very surreal, almost dreamlike experience. All of its stages are meticulously designed to promote exploration and lateral thinking without ever feeling unfair or frustrating. Whether you enjoy solving puzzles or just playing around with imaginative abilities, TRI is a game truly worth experiencing.

TRI: Of Friendship and Madness was played on the PC with review code provided by the publisher.

TRI: Of Friendship and Madness 
Platform: PC
Developer: Rat King Entertainment 
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Release date: October 9th, 2014
Price: $13.49 until October 16th, $14.99 thereafter
Languages: English audio/English, German, French, Spanish, Russian text

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