If you’ve played the popular side-scrolling indie puzzler Braid, you might find The Bridge to be a tad too familiar. The art is of a hand-crafted style. The scale of the environment to the main character is largely the same. The chapters are accessed through doors in an “overworld” house. The narrative is rather esoteric, “deep thinking” stuff. There’s even a rewind mechanic. The many parallels certainly dominated my first impression of this title.
But to write The Bridge off as simply a copycat would be dishonest. This title’s puzzles are gravity-based with a unique, pencil-sketch style inspired by Escher drawings that challenge the player to examine the situation from multiple perspectives. I can safely say that this core hook is unlike anything I have played before.
We’re getting a bit too accustomed to the archetypal first-person shooter that has a great multiplayer mode to go along with a mediocre single-player campaign. Historically, though, the Killzone franchise has been somewhat of an outlier, with action-packed story modes that sit comfortably side-by-side with the engaging multiplayer. Now that the next generation of gaming is officially upon us, does Killzone: Shadow Fall continue the trend?
Kind of. Not really.
While the multiplayer modes continue to entertain, the single-player campaign of Killzone: Shadow Fall improves on its predecessors in some ways, but also tries to fix what wasn’t broken — with varying degrees of success. It continues the technical prowess of its pedigree with outstanding visuals and sound design, along with rock-solid shooting mechanics with all the oomph you could ask for. However, for perhaps the first time in the core series, it’s the pacing that cripples the experience.
It’s official: Media Molecule is much more than just “the LittleBigPlanet studio.”
Tearaway is host to a wonderful world of paper. Everything here — from the sky and the clouds to the leaves and the grass — is made of paper. Part Psychonauts, part Scribblenauts, and part LittleBigPlanet (-nauts?), it’s a beautiful, unique display unlike any game before it. But more than just an exceptional-looking title with a mashup of influences, Tearaway blurs the line between game world and real world. This journey is one that will not be easily forgotten, and has earned the status of must-play.
At first glance, Tearaway looks to be a simply a third-person, 3D puzzle platformer, but there’s a lot more going on underneath the paper-thin aesthetic. As the player, your role in this title is rather unique — you’re actually playing as two characters. Utilizing the analog sticks and face buttons directs a messenger named Iota throughout the wonderful papercraft world — running, jumping, throwing, and interacting with a plethora of charming characters through beautiful, varied settings. On occasion, Iota does battle with Scraps, the resident antagonists in this universe bent on derailing his (or her — your choice) quest to deliver a very important message.
But when using the touch screen and rear touchpad, you’re filling the role of the “You,” Iota’s companion with god-like power over the surroundings. As the You, you’re invisible to the inhabitants of the world of Tearaway, but your influence is evident around every corner. A press of the rear touchpad can bounce objects, or even cause your finger to burst through certain areas of the paper world. A swiping gesture across the front screen can peel away coverings to reveal useful areas. And your face — as captured in real time by the PlayStation Vita camera — is present in the reigning sun at all times.
It’s amazing what cutting the fat and returning to basics can do for gameplay.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS is Nintendo revisiting a golden period in the Zelda franchise. There’s no lengthy introductory sequence, no flashy cut scenes, no superfluous dialogue; it’s all slashing enemies, opening chests, and setting bombs. This is our hero Link the way we learned to love him — solving dungeon puzzles from an overhead perspective. It’s also one of the best Zelda experiences in years on any platform.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is famous for its punishing difficulty. Balancing attention between managing squad members, conducting research, erecting base facilities, and intercepting UFOs is an arduous task; losing one of your prized soldiers in battle is heart-breaking. The combination of these aspects and the deep — yet accessible — strategic gameplay gave life to one of the best and most satisfying games of 2012. Not content to rest on their laurels, Firaxis brings us a full-fledged expansion in XCOM: Enemy Within. This fantastic package does more than just add to an excellent game — it improves it in several meaningful ways. After experiencing XCOM with this new expansion installed, you won’t want to go back.
When it comes to precision, serious console FPS gamers will take any advantage they can get to add just a touch to their K/D ratio. KontrolFreek knows this all too well, and they have designed a line of control stick extensions that fit both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 controllers equally. The idea is to help decrease hand fatigue in long sessions while also offering a greater range of motion for more precise aiming. I was recently sent a few models for review and put them through their paces.
It doesn’t matter how much of a fan you may be of Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, it doesn’t matter how interesting the hook of combining old-school game genres may sound; very little of Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-bit Land has anything to do with the popular cartoon series, and even less of it is worth your time (what little is required to finish it). It is utterly skippable, and certainly not worth the asking price.
We here at Gaming Trend really like Star Wars Pinball (as long as it’s not the 3DS version). If you’ve also been enjoying doing your part in deciding the Balance of the Force, you’ll be happy to know that Zen Studios has offered up three new tables to add to the bunch. I recently sat down to see if they scratch the itch as effectively, this time on the PC version available through Steam.
Co-op beat-em-up games are often safe bets. It’s hard not to have fun running back and forth while button-mashing enemies into oblivion, particularly when accompanied by a pleasing aesthetic like the one found in Final Exam. But while this is a game that comes off as charming, and certainly thrills on occasion, it is ultimately crippled by a stat-reset bug and questionable design decisions.
The Battlefield franchise has a history of setting the standard for squad-based multiplayer gameplay. With Battlefield 4, DICE has done it again, skillfully capturing what made its previous release such a success and building upon it. Though the additional game modes are a nice touch and the presentation aspects continue to astound, it’s the more subtle tweaks to gameplay that make Battlefield 4 the definitive squad-based multiplayer shooter today.
The multiplayer is so good, in fact, that it makes the already mediocre single-player campaign feel like a veritable waste of time. Battlefield 4 plays host to another linear story mode that manages to demonstrate the game’s fantastic shooting mechanics and visuals whilst navigating some horrendous writing. Watching a docked airplane only yards away from your character slide off of a devastated, sinking aircraft carrier will stun your senses. But for every impressive sequence, you also have a line from the groan-worthy script, and a reminder of the same-old predictable storyline.