Earlier this year Square Enix and Sony made a big splash at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) when they showed the announcement trailer for an upcoming remake of Final Fantasy VII. Though many fans have been asking and hoping for just such a thing to happen, many believed it never would. So, when the announcement trailer dropped back in June, people lost their minds.
This weekend, in what seems like a pretty short span of time, we were already treated to more footage of the game. Most interesting is the tiny bit of actual gameplay in the trailer, as it definitely looks to be a departure from the classic turn-based system that the original operated on in lieu of a more current, action oriented approach. Not surprising as the franchise has largely moved away from the classic combat systems of old in favor of a more fluid approach to battle. Take a look after the jump:
Episodic adventure games are in the middle of a well deserved renaissance period. Telltale Games’ popular titles have breathed new life into the genre, which is why other game developers are now following suit. Dontnod Studios has put together a supremely interesting plot line that follows the supernatural mysteries and high school drama of a female teenage named Max.
Welcome to the first episode of Life is Strange – Chrysalis.
Your main character, Max Caulfield, is an aspiring photographer who’s recently made a big move. After leaving her quaint hometown for the big city, she finds herself returning to that quiet town to attend a prestigious private school. Max exhibits the expected qualities of a teenager who considers themselves an outsider, which makes her instantly relatable for some. Her love of photography has driven her to attend such a respected institution. Max’s school mates fill the gamut of the personalities that exist within high school cliques – mean rich girls, varsity jacket wearing jocks, mysterious loners, skate punks and more. There’s a wide host of interesting characters to interact with who come with their own events for Max to intervene in. Getting the chance to play out these events is one of the highlights of this game.
The most important element behind Life is Strange is Max’s newfound power – she has the ability to rewind time at will. Max’s time rewinding skills come into play as you solve simple puzzles and help deal with situations involving your closest friends. The first episode starts off simple enough, as you sit inside a classroom and discover how to make good use of your new time sensitive skills. The story quickly intensifies though, as you’re forced to utilize your rewinding skills to save the life of a close friend. The rest of this episode is filled with even more events that test your moral compass. You’ll be driven to find each and every instance of character interaction.
Life is Strange’s supporting cast is fun to follow. The voice acting here is great, as is the simple yet clean visual makeup of the quaint environment you inhabit. A slew of personalities await at every turn and the conversations you engage in with them are hard to pass up. The trials and tribulations of early adulthood permeates through this first bit of the game. Important decisions seem to occur regularly. Should you tell the school’s principal about a potential threat? Should you intervene when a school security guard bothers a young student? Should you aid a close friend when her stepfather gets out of hand? There are several decisions to make here and the game’s solid story will drive you to strongly consider every possibility.
The time rewinding mechanic of Life is Strange is a cool, no doubt. But this power kind of diminishes the impact of your decisions. Having the chance to quickly change your decisions after making them feels like a cop-out, which may be great for some players who feel a sense of regret and guilt after an important event. This ability is great for navigating environmental puzzles and changing minor events, but it makes important decision making feel unimportant since you can change your mind at the drop of a dime. It’s best if you were left with your hard choices instead of having the power to change them to your liking so quickly.
Life is Strange’s first episode ends on a high note and will most certainly have you anticipating the next chapter in this strange tale. Max is an interesting young soul surrounded by suspicious characters who present several mysteries to solve. All of these stories, combined with the time rewinding powers, missing young girl and the threat of an impending storm has us ready for another helping of the game.
Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics gave longtime Tomb Raider fans a fun sidequest to enjoy with friends back in 2010, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light . Introducing Lara Croft to the world of top-down, twin-stick gunplay and co-op puzzle solving, this winning formula breathed some life into the stagnant Tomb Raider series that was one so highly regarded by gamers. In 2014, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have once again decided to adopt this formula for Ms. Croft and her accompanying adventurers. 4 players now have the ability to battle an evil Egyptian God in Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris.
The Lara Croft that ’90s followers have become accustomed to returns here, and this time she has three other allies in tow. All four heroes must deal with the wrath of an angry Egyptian God named Set, which means they are tasked with retrieving the idols of a kinder God and putting an end to Set’s plans. The increased player count makes this missions a lot more fun to engage in and introduces new powers for each player to utilize. Lara and her friendly rival Carter get around using a grappling hook that gets them to higher ledges and allows other players to climb up to them. The two magic-powered characters, Isis and Horus, can lift up specially marked platforms and create shields through the use of their magic staffs. Watching how all four characters and their associated powers work together is one of the better elements of this fun adventure.
The bulk of this sequel features the same great gameplay seen in its predecessor – action-packed shooting sequences, intricate puzzle solving sequences and plenty of opportunities to collect gems and score more points than your allies. One of the newer wrinkles for this release is the addition of stat-boosting rings and amulets. While the introduction of these items is a nice change of pace, they don’t do too much to drastically alter the gameplay. While these equipped items offer nice bonuses such as increased weapon damage, your chosen character won’t be impacted as much by them. Later sections of the gameplay don’t get too difficult or include moments where your items are dire, so these rings and amulets won’t make much of a difference.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is fun, no doubt. The online co-op, and ‘short but sweet’ campaign provide a nice bit of fun. Solving intricate puzzles and besting the huge bosses you encounter with your buddies is always entertaining. Fans of the past game will certainly enjoy their time here, while others looking for something newer and a lot more improved will be disappointed here. The visuals, audio and gameplay elements of The Guardian of Light are clearly evident here, yet the only real change is the addition of two extra characters. This newest installment in the Tomb Raider series may be enjoyable for some, but its repeated gameplay elements bring this game’s replay value down just a tad.
December 6, 2014 will go forever be remembered by Sony PlayStation fans for several reasons. Sony celebrated 20 years of gaming excellence on their behalf by putting on the inaugural PlayStation Experience event. The first official day started off with an extensive press/fan conference that featured exciting bits of gamer trailers and so much more. Never mind the disappointing moments (that Final Fantasy VII PS4 reveal felt like the biggest troll announcement ever…), because we’re going to showcase the top 10 gameplay trailers that made their debut.
10. LittleBigPlanet 3
This nod to the long spanning past and present of the PlayStation brand was incredible. The PlayStation Experience audience no doubt got nostalgia chills as they watched Sackboy reenact the best moments from PlayStation’s biggest games. We spotted some of our favorites here, like Twisted Metal, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus and more. We’re hoping those levels spotted in this trailer are up for download soon…
9. Drawn to Death
David Jaffe’s name is attached to two of Sony’s biggest original IP’s – Twisted Metal and God of War. So when he finally hit the stage during the final moments of the PlayStation Experience live stream, we got excited. His newest project was revealed to be Drawn to Death, a third-person multiplayer shooter that sports the visuals seen in school book doodle drawings. We have a new favorite character because of this gameplay trailer reveal – Dodgeball Dan.
8. Until Dawn
You’ve probably guessed by now that some of us here enjoy a good slash ’em up horror film or two. The PS4 exclusive Until Dawn replicates the slasher film experience perfectly as evidenced by this new dose of gameplay. You’ll have to make tough decisions as you avoid death at every turn. You’ll need to keep your teenage survivors safe since they’re capable of dying for good. We can’t wait to act out our Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book fantasies with this game in 2015.
7. Yakuza 5
Sega made a bold proclamation during the PlayStation Experience live stream event – Yakuza 5 will be arriving on the PS3 in 2015! Our hype levels went through the roof once that announcement was made! There’s no need for us to be jealous of Japanese gamers any longer. The localization for this open-world hit has been a long time coming. We’re finally getting the 5th main entry in the best video game adaptation of Chinese Mafia living…ever.
6. The Order: 1886
FINALLY! Some extended gameplay for this fresh PS4 IP was on the top of our list of the trailers we wanted to see during the Playstation Experience. The Order: 1886 just got put back on our list of most anticipated games for 2015. The cover-based gameplay, cinematic graphical presentation, interesting plot premise and terrifying beasts got us even more excited to enter this game’s dark world.
5. Batman: Arkham Knight
We knew we were going to have to pick our jaws up off the floor once this trailer came to a close. Batman: Arkham Knight will take away so many countless hours from our lives upon release. This new gameplay trailer showed off the Batmobile’s puzzle integration, Batman’s new combat skills and an explosive gunfight between the Batmobile and a helicopter. Just like those bums The Dark Knight laid out, that helicopter didn’t even have a chance…
Wow…just wow. From Software adopted the punishing yet addictive nature of its Dark Souls series, placed it all within a gothic horror backdrop and made the combat just that much quicker and bloodier. The result? Bloodborne. The new trailer on display for the upcoming action RPG featured some intense battles that featured well-equipped co-op partners. The mentioning of a playable, never-ending dungeon got us pretty hyped for this one.
3. No Man’s Sky
So Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky is big. Like, really friggin’ ginormous. Want proof? Take a gander at all the different planets you’ll come upon as you explore this game’s massive universe. The sci-fi nut inside of us felt so much shock and awe at the sight of all the different looking landscapes we could explore. This game is innovative and we can’t wait to test out its fresh take on planetary exploration in 2015.
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
We knew we were going to see some sort of trailer alluding to the continued development of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. We just weren’t expecting to watch a 15-minute long live demo of it. As far as video game press conferences go, this intro was one of the best. Watching Nathan Drake run, jump shoot, sneak and grapple looked amazing in motion. That new grappling hook mechanic was cool as all hell. Ignore the Drake death glitch and enjoy the gameplay!
1. Street Fighter V
Yeah, we totally saw the leaked trailer for this huge reveal. But the official PlayStation Experience reveal was nothing short of mesmerizing. The next-gen overhauls of Street Fighter’s Ryu and Chun-Li were incredible to watch during this extended fight scene. We came away from this demonstration thoroughly impressed. The flashy air combos, environmental interaction and powerful new moves has us ready for the next generation of Street Fighter.
The Kingdom Hearts fanbase has every reason to be joyful once again. 2013’s HD 1.5 Remix bundled up the original Kingdom Hearts, Chain of Memories and a cinematic presentation of the story for 358/2 Days. That particular collection was worth investing hours of playtime into again, due to the extra content and upgraded visuals for the first game. The two other additions to that package were sort of a letdown due to their own faults, but it was still worth playing through and watching to some extent.
This time, Square Enix has brought along another remixed compilation of its most beloved action RPG series – Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix. The package here automatically gets extra points over its predecessor due to the inclusion of its main title – Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix. Fans who have fond memories of this sequel will no doubt fall in love with it all over again. The excellent Keyblade swordplay, an abundant new Disney world to explore, varying Sora battle transformations, and extra dosage of bosses make this the version you need to revisit. It’s easy to see just how superior this game is when compared to the first introduction of Kingdom Hearts. You’ll once again get sucked into Sora’s epic conflict thanks to the wealth of new content on hand.
In this reviewer’s honest opinion, the standout part of this game’s package has to be the former PSP exclusive, Birth By Sleep. This entry immediately feels a million times better since it ditches the PSP control scheme and adopts the DualShock 3 control scheme. Getting access to new analog sticks makes maneuvering around the world and engaging in battles a much simpler and less strenuous affair. You’ll get access to three separate Keyblade warriors and venture through the same locations, but with different scenarios. The settings lose their fresh factor after all three playthroughs, but the battle gameplay is the best of the entire series. Getting access to character specific skills in the heat of battle makes each encounter different and gives you cooler skills to employ. The extra content here must be applauded as well.
The RE:coded portion of this collection fits the same mold as 358/2 Days presentation in the 1.5 Remix collection. This 3-hour long FMV sequence is only recommended to hardcore fans. Watching it is a chore for casual fans, so it’s easily the weakest part of the overall package. It’s there for those who want to make sense of the incredibly hard to decipher plot, which deals with Roxas and Organization XIII. You’ll likely pass on siting through all of it though. Some of the other issues of the overall package deal with the occasionally wonky visuals. Sometimes the updated visuals are easy to spot, but it’s even easier to locate the wonky lip-synching and loading textures of environmental structures.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix’s overall package is worth getting thanks to its two upgraded, playable adventures. Ignore the RE:coded movie sequences, deal with the sometimes strange visual hiccups and you’ll feel right at home with this still excellent compilation.
You probably passed up on Sleeping Dogs upon its 1st launch back in 2012. This super underrated open-world action game set in Hong Kong surprised gamers who played it, due to its tightly written plot, immersive combat system and excellent world. Now that gamers have moved on to the next-generation of consoles, the game’s developer (United Front Games) have done a clean-up job with its much appreciated game. In 2014, Sleeping Dogs has been given a new lease on life with this Definitive Edition.
This remastered version of the game does a fine job of improving the visuals to an impressive level. The crowded markets, dark alleyways, rambunctious crowds and hot rod’s existing in this game’s version of Hong Kong looks even more detailed. The rough graphical patches of the past-gen version of the game are practically existent. Venturing out into this game’s crime-filled world is a better experience thanks to the 1080p graphical fidelity and much improved textures. The added details of extra traffic and pedestrians is a cool but non-impactful addition, though.
Sleeping Dogs gameplay is still as strong as its initial version. For those who don’t know, you take control of Wei Shen, an undercover police officer who’s looking to take down the most volatile Honk Kong Triads. As you venture throughout this game’s murky underworld, you’ll get involved in multi-man melees as you fight for turf control and drive away rival gangs. The good cop persona of Shen will task you with aiding the police during criminal skirmishes, undercover stings and high-speed chases. For those who love the gang part of Shen’s lifestyle, the abundance of ever-changing missions are ripe with fun and plenty of replayability. Both sides of the law provides equally engaging modes of play.
Along with the excellent main story campaign, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition comes with a host of much-needed extras. The two additional side story campaigns are present here, thankfully. The fantasy filled story campaign and good cop duty fulfillment missions are both fun in their own right. The tight fist to fist gameplay makes these missions and the main story campaign a very entertaining experience. The gunplay doesn’t falter behind the melee combat and the driving aesthetics control much better than some of its open-world gaming peers. The extra DLC costumes are all present here as well.
While this Definitive Edition is nice to have, it’s notable upgrades honestly doesn’t make this game a worthy second purchase for those who have already played it. The improved visuals and full suite of DLC is fine, but it’s mostly worth checking out for franchise newcomers. The game itself is still a joy. Returning to it with this new re-launch won’t be much of a priority, though.
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition does a great job of making the game’s gritty Hong Kong look even more amazing. This game’s full package of DLC content is a worthy treat for first time investors, but it isn’t much of an important re-buy for those who have already taken down the Triads.