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BECAUSE WE LOVE VIDEO GAMES

GOD OF WAR COVER STORY

BIOMUTANT

EXTINCTION

THANOS


COVER STORY

PREVIEW

K

ratos has e his past, bu world and necessity for him. some of the things he can’t read writin complete the goal do, Kratos needs h as his son needs h

"


escaped a little bit of ut he is in this alien this kid is actually a He can’t understand s people are saying, ng on the wall, so to they’ve set out to his son, just as much him." CORY BARLOG Creative Director @ Sony Santa Monica

"


DERRICK SMITH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF derrick@game-insider.com

derrick_i_am

GOD OF WAR

51

Creative director Barlog delves into how he pitched this interesting new direction for the character, changing gameplay mechanics, picking apart Norse mythology and his plans for the series and character beyond the 2018 release.


38

MONSTER HUNTER: WORLD

For the first time in the Monster Hunter series, players from Japan and the west can play together online, providing an expanded base of cooperative hunting companions.

EXTINCTION

10

60 E

CRAZY JUSTICE

xtinction comes with a deep story campaign featuring Avil, as he desperately rescues civilians while taking down massive opponents.

Crazy Justice is already looking like a super fun addition to our library of shooters with a twist!

48

70

RUINER

Visually RUINER is a super stylish eye-pleaser, reminiscent of Metal Gear with its cold metal inspired level designs.

72

HELLBLADE SENUA'S SACRIFICE

While Senua is the only player in the world, Ninja Theory makes up for it with intense expression, resulting in a fascinating experience.

94

BIOMUTANT

BioMutant already plays like a Jak and Daxter meets Horizon Zero Dawn experience. The world of BioMutant is quite vivid with lush environments.

INHUMANS VS X-MEN

The question I’ve been asking since issue #1 is finally asked by one of the characters taking part in this epic battle.


The U.S. video game industry employs more than 220,000 individuals according to new data released today by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2017 Report states that the U.S. video game industry is creating high-paying jobs and generating revenue for communities across the nation. Employment in the video game industry grew at an annual rate of 2.9 percent, more than double the rate of the U.S. job market. Employees in the industry earned an average compensation of $97,000 per year in 2015 – nearly double the average U.S. household income. “The 21st Century knowledge economy demands a creative and innovative workforce. The interactive entertainment industry is powered by real jobs that develop the most innovative and remarkable technology and entertainment in the world. These high-paying, creative careers build communities all across the US,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA, the trade association that represents the U.S. video game industry. “The data we share today details a roadmap for economic growth, and the power of cultivating high-paying, technical careers in interactive entertainment.” Other key findings in the report include: * There are 2,322 video game developer locations across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are also 526 publisher locations across 44 states. In total, there are 2,858 video game company locations across 84 percent of the congressional districts in America; * 95 percent of video game companies were founded in the United States; * There are now 65,678 workers directly employed at game software publisher and developer locations in the United States. Of this total, U.S. video game publishers directly employ 28,556 workers while U.S. video game developers employ 37,122; and, * The U.S. game company industry’s value added to U.S. GDP was more than $11.7 billion in 2015. Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2017 Report, presents a number of statistical measures that quantify the economic contributions of the game software industry from 2012-2015. Video game company databases and online tracking resources provided the information used for this analysis. In addition to data collected by ESA, U.S. government sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau provided statistical measures included for this report. This report is the third economic impact study prepared by ESA, with the most recent report published in 2014.

entertainment software association


"The 21st Century knowledge economy demands a creative and innovative workforce. The interactive entertainment industry is powered by real jobs that develop the most innovative and remarkable technology and entertainment in the world." Michael D. Gallagher, ESA President & CEO

U.S. Video Game Industry Expands to 50 States, Supporting 220,000 Jobs, and $30.4 Billion in Revenue


IS THE THIRD TIME A CHARM FOR NINTENDO'S O

S

NINTENDO SWIT

ometime in 2018 Nintendo will launch its online network for the Nintendo Switch, and for the first time ever Nintendo gamers will have to pony up the dough to enjoy online gaming on their system. But are we ready to fork over the cash to Nintendo for online gaming based on past experiences? I mean the company’s online set up is commonly seen as being far behind what is offered by Sony and Microsoft. But that being said, this is a brand-new Nintendo, one that has shown recently that they are not afraid to embrace new ideas, both for the industry as a whole and for themselves. So is the third time the

charm for Nintendo’s online? Before we get to what the online network for the Switch could be, let’s take a look back at what brought us Nintendo’s past online experiences. Back in the Wii and DS era, Nintendo launched its first online service titled the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection which allowed players to connect to a worldwide network of players and play against friends and rivals. While this usually worked fairly well (unless you were playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl) it had quite a few nagging issues, namely how you would connect to your friends. Instead of gamertags or ID’s each player was assigned a 16-digit friend code… per game. Keeping track

of all your friend codes was pain and made playing onli or Nintendo DS more of a h simple feature. Thankfully N seemed to learn when they their second online network Launched for the Ninten Wii U, Nintendo Network m eliminated the nagging issu Fi Connection and replaced with actual lists of friends th stored on your system. And was a huge improvement, t themselves also used the s features to bring Nintendo’s infrastructure into the 2010 leaderboards, tournaments competitions. However, and


ONLINE?

TCH

s an absolute ine on the Wii hassle than a Nintendo y upgraded to k. ndo 3DS and mostly ues from Wid friend codes hat would be d while this the games system’s new s online 0’s with online s and ranked d probably

by Alex St-Amour the most damning for the Nintendo Network is that your profile was tied to your system, so your 3DS friends weren’t automatically your Wii U friends which segregated your online and offline gaming even more. So while Nintendo was busy with their Wi-Fi Connections and Nintendo Networks, Sony and Microsoft were busy building up and expanding upon their online systems (PlayStation Network and Xbox Live) to include things like achievements, lobbies, reward programs and cross-platform friend room and gaming. These are all things that Nintendo’s online is lacking and could very much benefit from adding to the Switch, especially considering that Nintendo is now planning to charge us for their online services, the suite of features will definitely have to be expanded upon beyond what we’ve already seen in early Switch titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Arms. However, the thing I most want to see from Nintendo’s Switch online system is a sort of continuity into the next platform or device. The way its set up right now is extremely confusing with several accounts needed for different things. Case in point, as of writing this I have a My Nintendo, Nintendo Network and Nintendo Account all set up, though I’m still very confused as to which actually does what. If Nintendo wants gamers to embrace their online system they need to take a page out of their competition’s books and continue building upon and adding to their system instead of

LINK-CABLE.COM rebooting it every time a new device is released. So what does a perfect Nintendo online solution look like? Well, for starters it has to be unified across your Nintendo devices. There’s no reason I can’t see what my 3DS friends are playing while I’m zooming through a course in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. And if I can see what they are playing then I should be able to easily shoot them a message and maybe even invite them into my game or vice versa. Of course if we’re talking communication then voice chat is a must with both friends and strangers. Achievements would be nice as well as a tie into the My Nintendo rewards program so that players can feel rewarded for let’s say finding all the Korok seeds in Breath of the Wild. Simply put, if Nintendo wants to charge for online, they need to offer more. Online gameplay is incredibly important for the success of the Nintendo Switch. For the system to succeed in 2017 and beyond its impossible for Nintendo to go without a strong online presence that includes many of the modern elements that have made the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live so respected by gamers. Of course this is Nintendo after all, and the Big N is not known for simply copying what others do, but putting their own spin on things. What that ‘thing’ is, is yet to be seen but if anything is for certain its that all eyes will be on Nintendo to see if they can finally deliver, after two tries, on delivering a solid and modern online experience.


PREVIEW

CRAZY JUSTICE

Platform PS4, XBOX ONE, SWITCH, PC Genre ACTION-SHOOTER Publisher BLACK RIDDLE STUDIO Developer BLACK RIDDLE STUDIO Release Q1, 2018


PS4

XO NS PC


In development for some time now by the young and talented team of brothers over at Black Riddles Studio, we have been excited about Crazy Justice ever since initially discovering the games FIG community funding campaign, which at the moment of this writing is sitting at 80% of its goal having been met. Crazy Justice is a third-person shooter presented in a well polished cel-shaded visual style with steampunk elements. Simple, yet enjoyably creative in form, Crazy Justice places you in the role of a hero who is tasked with traveling across the world in order to find and activate hidden tesla coils to save the world, but unfortunately the expedition causes a huge chaos in the world from the forces of evil. Too cliche, well no worries as we have been promised loads of missions, the discovery of new heroes and new special weapons and the satisfying pleasure of eliminating the steampunk horde. While the environments can come across as a bit on the more linear side, our hands-on made this truly forgivable as the levels were impressively detailed, while spanning locations across the globe, like the alleys of New York to Egypt and even the North Pole.

Crazy Justice features a building and upgrading system, including destructible environments and cross-platform play. Impressively, Black Riddles Studios announced the cross-network play support, next to the Battle Royale mode for Crazy Justice, which will be the first game on Nintendo Switch with this game mode. Players on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC will actually be able to play with each other on different online multiplayer networks, but they will always have the option of choosing to play only with the same platform players, as well, which we are excited to try out. PlayStation users will also be able to jump into the action day and date of the games release, however Sony does not allow for crossnetwork play with other consoles, only with PC for specific games at the moment. Additionally, Crazy Justice will offer motion control support for the Nintendo Switch, splitscreen support with up to 4 players for all platforms, a cover and hiding system and a customizable skill deck, which specifies the character's behavior. Crazy Justice is already looking like a super fun addition to our library of shooters with a twist!


LAUNCH TITLES

NOV/DEC/JAN

MONSTER HUNTER: WORLD JANUARY 26 PS4

XO PC

RESIDENT EVIL REVELATIONS 2 NOVEMBER 28 NS

THE INPATIENT JANUARY 23 PS4

XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 2 DECEMBER 1 NS

YAKUZA KIWAMI 2 DECEMBER 7 PS4


OKAMI HD DECEMBER 12 PS4

XO PC

DRAGON BALL FIGHTER Z JANUARY 26 PS4

XO PC

NI NO KUNI: II REVENANT KINGDOM JANUARY 19 PS4

PC


PREVIEW

CALL OF CTHULHU

Platform PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre SURVIVAL HORROR Publisher FOCUS HOME INTERACTIVEL Developer CYANIDE Release 2017


PS4

XO PC


H. P. Lovecraft's famously twisted universe will be coming alive on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC later this year, in the official video game adaptation of Chaosium's pen & paper RPG Call of Cthulhu. The Cthulhu Mythos has grown to become one of the largest shared universes ever envisioned, giving birth to countless stories, novels, and even movies ever since the original publication of Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu. Developed by seasoned studio Cyanide and built from the ground up on Unreal Engine 4, Call of Cthulhu showcases a dark, oppressive ambiance of the game's semi-open environments, as a backdrop to the RPGInvestigative nature of the experience. On a mission to find the truth behind the death of an acclaimed artist and her family on a backwater island, players are plunged into the troubled mind of private investigator Edward Pierce, as his perception of reality becomes more and more skewed the closer he gets to the Great Dreamer’s sphere of influence. Call of Cthulhu intends on making you clutch to your withering sanity to discover the conspiracies, the cultists and otherworldly terrors that inhabit this twisted universe. As Edward Pierce traverses down this intriguing path of the unknown, his original assignment spirals out of control against a backdrop of suspicious locals, mutilated whales, and disappearing bodies. Pierce’s mind will suffer as developer Cyanide tightropes a razor-thin line balancing act of sanity and madness, with your senses pulled and disrupted until you question the reality of everything around you. Darkwater Island is a dreary place and adding to it foreboding mystiq sits Hawkin Manor, a complimentary massive grey house with loads of secrets which can't wait to be discovered. As the tell is told fire has tore through the Hawking Manor tragically killing all of its inhabitants, Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins and their son. With the police unable to make sense of the ordeal due to inconsistencies and errors, the case is closed, until work hungry private investigator Edward

Pierce comes along, who has been commisioned by Mrs. Hawkins father. The reality of Call of Cthulhu is a rather bizarre place as inhabitants of Darkwater Island are unwelcoming to outsiders, which also adds to the apealling discoveries sometimes happening right under the players nose. While investigating the tragic events of the Hawkins family, players explore, investigate, and talk to people to gather clues and find out what really happened with the fire, uncovering Darkwater’s secrets at the same time. Interestingly, there are very few weapons in and around the island, so players must lean on their instincts while remaining ever aware, keeping their eyes peeled to discover as much as they can about their surroundings. The demo for the game already looks and plays quite well, in truth I did not want to put the controller down. With just a sample of a hands-on and understanding the direction of the narrative with seemingly mountains of more to learn and discover, Call of Cthulhu has certainly shot up our list of most anticated games of 2017.


PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING SCI-FI/ACTION PG-13

The globe-spanning conflict between otherworldly monsters of mass destruction and the human-piloted supermachines built to vanquish them was only a prelude to the all-out assault on humanity in Pacific Rim Uprising.


BLACK PANTHER - 2/16/18 ACTION-ADVENTURE PG-13 STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI - 12/15/17 ACTION-DVENTURE PG-13

ALPHA - 3/2/18 DRAMA/THRILLER PG-13

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T'Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country's new leader. However, T'Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakanadan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war. Excitement is running rather high for the Black Panther, and if the feature previews are smaller indicators of the full movie experience then we are in for a truly epic Marvel action adventure. While at the moment very little is known about the intricate plot details concerning Star Wars: Episode VII – The Last Jedi, what we can piece together is this exciting new episode is a direct sequel of the The Force Awakens. Having taken her first steps into a larger world in Force Awakens, we are eager to bear witness to Rey as she continues her epic journey with Finn, Poe, and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the saga. We have many questions concerning the potential new direction for Finns character, who in fact is Rey's father, is she related to Kyo Ren in some way and does like Luke Skywalker re-establish the Jedi counsel, beginning with Rey? We shall find out December 15, 2017. This latest coming of age adventure has us intrigued by its boy and wolf companionship journey. While on his first hunt with his tribe's most elite group, a young man is injured and left for dead. Awakening to find himself broken and alone, he must learn to survive and navigate the harsh and unforgiving wilderness. Reluctantly taming a lone wolf abandoned by its pack, he learns to rely on it, and they become unlikely allies, enduring countless dangers and overwhelming odds to find their way home before the deadly winter arrives.


PREVIEW

MOTHERGUNSHIP

Platform PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre ACTION-SHOOTER Publisher TERRIBLE POSTURE GAMES/GRIP DIGITAL Developer SOLD OUT Release 2018


PS4

XO PC


With developer Sold Out partnering with Terrible Posture Games and Grip Digital comes the first-person bullet-shooter, Mothergunship. Arriving in 2018 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC via Steam, Mothergunship pits players as Earth's last hope against the armadas of data-hoarding robotic alien invaders. The idea that if you have played one bullet-hell shooter, you have played them all, simply does not apply to Mothergunship, and for good reason. Mothergunship mixes bullet-hell intensity with the shooting, customization, and traversal of the firstperson genre. Fight your way through the alien fleets, facing randomized enemy and level mayhem as you clear rooms and take out some of the biggest bosses seen in the FPS genre. Throughout the journey you face off against overwhelming odds in brutal, non-stop combat where thinking on your feet is the only way to survive. Dodge hundreds of bullets with unique FPS/Bullet-hell hybrid gameplay. Each ship hosts hordes of alien machines, deadly traps, and intimidating bosses, all set on preventing you from saving humanity.

With the ambitious resolve to take down the infamous Mothergunship, you will need your very own personalized arsenal of destruction. Luckily, in Mothergunship you can create the gun of your dreams with one of the most modular gun-crafting systems ever seen in a video game. Want to have a twelve-barrel gun that shoots homing rockets? Or do you prefer a lightning shotgun...literally? And what gun wouldn’t look better with a fish tank affixed to the top? The design of your destructive arsenal is certainly in your hands. Impressively, Mothergunship allows players to join the ranks of the global resistance movement and take back Earth together with their friends, by allowing players to join up to fight together in a full co-op experience, or participate with the community while you work together to cut through the alien fleet and reach that ultimate goal of bringing down the Mothership. Again, Mothergunship is currently positioned to launch in 2018, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more updates on this over-the-top shooter.


C

omputer Games graduates from Staffordshire University are the most employable in Europe, a new industry report has revealed. TIGA, the trade association representing the UK video games industry, has published a report about its accreditation program which launched in 2015 to ensure universities and colleges produce graduates with industry relevant skills. Staffordshire University delivers 7 out of the 17 courses which have achieved accreditation since the initiative began. These include: · · · · · · ·

BSc (Hons) Computer Games Design BEng (Hons) Computer Games Design MEng Computer Games Design BSc (Hons) Computer Gameplay Design and Production BEng (Hons) Computer Gameplay Design and Production MEng Computer Gameplay Design and Production BSc (Hons) Computer Games Design and Programming

TIGA also revealed that Staffordshire University has the highest employment rate of all the accredited programs with 67% of 2014/15 graduates from the BEng (Hons) Computer Gameplay Design and Production degree securing jobs in the video games industry. Dr. Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, said: “The UK needs its studios to be backed by quality graduates from universities that know the current needs of the games industry. To make that happen, collaboration between industry and educators is essential.” Dr. Bobbie Fletcher, Head of the Department of Games and Visual Effects, added: “Employability is central to our vision and being recognized by TIGA demonstrates this. It is so important to have strong links with industry to equip graduates with the relevant skills.” “We are delighted at the successes of our graduates. At Staffordshire University we pride ourselves in saying, ‘we make people who make games.” Anyone wanting to find out more about Computer Games courses at Staffordshire University can book on to an Open Day here.


PREVIEW A WAY OUT

Platform PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre CO-OP ACTION ADVENTURE Publisher ELECTRONIC ARTS Developer HAZELIGHT Release Q1, 2018


PS4

XO PC


The last we saw of Electronic Arts and the talented developer Hazelight and their all-new experience, A Way Out, we were full of questions concerning the games plot and unique gameplay style. As a new EA Originals game coming to players from the creative minds that brought us the impressive indie title, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, A Way Out turned heads when it was revealed earlier this year. Offering a co-op only game uniquely tailored for two players to work together through a myriad of distinct situation. A Way Out is supported by a compelling narrative as lead characters Leo and Vincent embark on an emotional adventure, where they will live some memorable action moments that they will face together including car chases, stealth passages, melee fights, shootouts and many more. More than confident in their most ambitious game to date, Hazelight writer and director Josef Fares expresses that “A Way Out is going to bring a co-op experience unike anything we have ever seen before.” He further goes on to explain, “The idea for A Way Out came when me and a friend tried to find a story driven co-op game that wasn’t a drop-in/ drop-out experience. We simply could not find a game like that. We’re also bringing an innovative look into how to tell the story of both these characters.

Players will be immersed in the game with the way we change the display from a full screen experience seamlessly to different cinematic split-screen formats. By focusing on the two characters in different ways, it opens up a huge variety of gameplay, as we really wanted to avoid repetitions so they will get to know the characters through very different situations.” As the story will be presented, A Way Out begins in prison with two separate inmates, Leo and Vincent, who don’t know each other. While their individual stories progress, players will have to build a relationship based on trust as they break both men out of prison into the world beyond. A mentioned before, this will be a co-op only experience, meaning you cannot play this a game alone, as it is meant to be played together with a friend on a couch or online. While this could seem like a rigid seemingly forced experience with the absence of solo play, based on what we have seen of the game thus far, we are already convinced the experience is in the capable hands to successfully pull this off as one of the most unique adventures in quite awhile. Expected to launch in Q1, 2018, we will certainly have more on A Way Out as EA updates us.


BECAUSE WE LOVE VIDEO GAMES


S E S S A L C B SU


S

D by David Luther

estiny 2 came out September 6, and everyone in the office has played it a little more than we’d care to admit. Beyond inspiring some Hatfield-McCoy level feuds at the water cooler about the value of the Hunter’s dodge ability, most of our discussions focus on which subclass will be nerfed first and which one we figure is the obnoxious pre-teen demographic’s favorite, a la Genji. Bungie hasn’t responded to the email request we actually sent for that information, but we were able to figure out which subclasses have the most search volume for your state based off of search traffic — and we can tell you what the most popular class and subclass is overall. We used search traffic to figure out which Destiny 2 subclasses are the most popular in the game (and your state) so you’ll know how indemand you’re going to be on a raid.


HOW WE FIGURED IT OUT Here’s a quick rundown of how we got this information in the first place. Using Google Adwords and Google Trends, we were able to compare the popularity of certain search terms over others and get information about which states Google particular characters’ names more than others. Because some characters’ names are from the first game or unrelated products, names were appended with the title of the game itself — so “Arcstrider Destiny 2,” for example. We didn’t want to get false results for heartworm medications (Sentinel), book titles (Gunslinger) and soccer positions (Nightstalker Striker). Whatever, video games are more our thing. Using these constraints, we were able to put together our list of each character class and the states that Google them the most and what’s being most-Googled in your state. One of the first things you’ll notice is that this isn’t just a product of people searching for unfamiliar classes, as two of the least popular ones are the brand new classes. When you break it down by primary class, we’ve got Warlock, Titan and Hunter. This is kind of cool, because in Destiny 1 it went the complete opposite. In case you’re not capable of reading things in the opposite order, that’s something like Hunter , Titan and Warlock. Way to flip the script, Warlocks! All character descriptions were taken from the Destiny 2 Wiki on Wikia, as well as Metabomb’s breakdowns.

DAWNBLADE

Most popular subclass in: 12 states State with the most search volume: Texas

STORMCALLER

Most popular subclass in: 6 states State with the most search volume: Missouri

SENTINEL

Most popular subclass in: 6 states State with the most search volume: California

MOST POPULAR SUBCLASSES

DAWNBLADE

STRIKER

GUNSLINGER

STORMCALLER NIGHTS


STRIKER

GUNSLINGER

Most popular subclass in: 10 states State with the most search volume: No traffic to tell

Most popular subclass in: 10 states State with the most search volume: Texas

NIGHTSTALKER

VOIDWALKER

Most popular subclass in: 3 states State with the most search volume: Washington

Most popular subclass in: 1 states State with the most search volume: Texas

ARCSTRIDER

SUNBREAKER

Most popular subclass in: 2 states State with the most search volume: Texas

TALKER VOIDWALKER

SENTINEL

Most popular subclass in: 0 states State with the most search volume: North Carolina

ARCSTRIDER

SUNBREAKER


PREVIEW

MONSTER HUNTER: WORLD

Platform PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre ACTION-ADVENTURE Publisher CAPCOM Developer CAPCOM Release Q1, 2018


PS4

XO PC


Crazy excited about the latest entry of the action RPG series, Monster Hunter: World, this upcoming iteration introduces a living, breathing ecosystem in which players take on the role of a hunter that seeks and slays ferocious beasts in heart-pounding battles. Venture on quests alone or with up to three other hunters in a newly designed online drop-in multiplayer system which allows cross-region cooperative play between Japan and the West, uniting the global player base for the first time ever. Monster Hunter: World delivers a seamless gameplay experience allowing players to move freely across map areas that comprise the living ecosystems and dynamically transition from day to night. The landscape and its diverse inhabitants play a critical role in each quest as players strategically use the surrounding environment including terrain, vegetation and wildlife to their advantage in battle or become hindered by the hazards they present. Hunters must use their cunning and abilities to track and maneuver their targets throughout the intense, evolving battles. Retaining the series’ skill based progression and robust crafting system, players gear up to venture on quests to seek and slay monsters, progressively improving their skills to become

the ultimate hunter. Loot collected from fallen foes can be used to create new equipment and armor upgrades styled after the monsters they’ve slain, allowing hunters to survive the elements and defeat the tougher opponents that await them. The landscape and its diverse inhabitants play a critical role as players strategically use the surrounding environment to their advantage. Hunters must use their cunning and abilities to survive the intense and evolving fights as they battle to become the ultimate hunter. With flexible online multiplayer options and an accessible quest structure, players can tackle challenges alone or join up to three other hunters online for cooperative play. For the first time in the Monster Hunter series, players from Japan and the west can play together online, providing an expanded base of cooperative hunting companions. With the new online drop-in functionality, solo players can hail for assistance from the worldwide group during quests when their opponents are too daunting to take on single-handedly. Monster Hunter: World will be the first game in the series with a worldwide simultaneous launch window and is planned for release on PS4 and Xbox One in early 2018, followed by a PC release at a later date.


PREVIEW BRAVO TEAM

Platform PSVR Genre ACTION-SHOOTER Publisher SONY INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT Developer SUPERMASSIVE GAMES Release Q1, 2018


PS4


Supermassive Games takes aim with their newest heart-pumping firefight of intense combat and split-second tactical decision making in Bravo Team. Bravo Team is a first person VR cover shooter set in a fictional, modern day city in Eastern Europe. When your escort mission goes wrong it’s up to you and a friend to survive as the city is thrown into turmoil. You’ll need to think on your feet and work together as you battle through an intense journey of close calls and chaotic firefights. According to Supermassive Games teamwork is vital to your survival and Bravo Team has been developed for both single player and two player co-op online. Levels and enemies are designed to test your ability to work as a team. Calling targets, covering fire and constant communication are the difference between success and failure. The development team has gone to tremendous lengths with Bravo Team to put players inside the firefight. With only a shred of cover between you and certain death, RPG's fly overhead and bullets impact just inches from your face to put you right in the middle of a warzone. The arsenal of lethal weaponry gives you the tools you need to tackle these threats with a variety of powerful, tactile firearms. Throughout the development process for Supermassive Games, getting their hands on the Aim controller was an enormous inspiration for this game. Supermassive Games has always enjoyed designing and building around the best features of great new controllers, and the Aim is no exception. Feeling that you are actually holding and interacting with the weapons in Bravo Team is incredibly exciting and elevates the experience to an entirely new level. Bravo Team demands that you interact with your weapon and environment in natural, tactile ways. To lean around cover simply lean left or right. To aim your weapon, just raise the controller and line up the iron sights as you would in reality. Pinned down by enemy fire? Lift the controller above your head and blind fire away. Each action is performed naturally and intuitively, just like in

real life. This sense of ‘being there’ is an enormous focus for Supermassive. Not only is the feel of battle key, the sense of place and presence that comes from a seamless experience is incredibly important. Impressively, from beginning to end you will fight through the streets and buildings without any loading or level select screens interrupting your immersive VR experience. Bravo Team will thrust you into the chaos of an action movie firefight. With the Aim controller in your hands and a trusted teammate watching your six, you’ll make split second decisions in a fight for survival that spans the length and breadth of a city in turmoil. I hope you’re just as excited to play it as we are. We can’t wait!


PREVIEW BIOMUTANT

Platform PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre ACTION/RPG Publisher THQ NORDIC Developer EXPERIMENT 101 Release 2018


PS4

XO PC


Launching in 2018 comes a unique new RPG experience entitled BioMutant from developer Experiment 101. Offering a spirited take on the stylish combat and more, BioMutant is set in an imaginative post-apocalyptic world of kung fu fables filled with exotic creatures to discover, dangerous factions to navigate, and elaborate worlds to explore with mech, paragliders, balloons, mounts, jet skis and more. Impressively, you are able to re-code your genetic structure to change the way you look and play. This will affect your attributes and in addition to this, exposure to bio-contamination in the world will lead to physical and powerful mutations such as mantis-claws and barbed tails, while exposure to radioactivity found in bunkers from the old world will affect your mind and unlock psi-mutations including telekinesis, levitation, bionic prosthetics, sprouted wings and weapons. Each choice will impact the way your hero plays in real-time combat that blends melee martial arts and firearms, ala Devil May Cry! BioMutant adds a proficient crafting mechanic to the mix, allowing players to craft some attention grabbing weapons. Mixing and matching parts to create your own unique single or double-handed slash, crush and pierce melee weapons enables player to craft these death tools more suited to their play style. Rounding out your compelling instruments of mayhem we found revolvers, rifles and shotguns with some added modifications from cork-screws and battery-powered chainsaw modules to biocontaminated sludge vials, that give a destructive edge to your combat arsenal. There are even characters you will meet that will craft you cool stuff, such as bionic wings, a jump-pack and even let you modify your Automaton, your trusty scrap-toy sidekick! BioMutant give players full freedom when equipping your character. Not only when it comes to choosing weapons you have created, but also what type of gear you wear. For example, equip a gas mask and an oxygen tank for exploring the

Dead Zones, thermo-resistant clothes for venturing into cryonic areas or protective gear for taking on bio-contaminated creatures... or not. The world of BioMutant is quite vivid with lush environments and fantastic lighting. You will traverse the dying wildland, the tunnels and bunker networks of the underworld, and find your way up the mountains or out in the archipelago. There are lots of discoveries to be made, mysteries to unravel, creatures to confront and weird characters to meet in this vibrant and colorful world. With an unusual story your actions play a major part in the unfolding of the story. As the story is introduced from the play test there is a plague ruining the land and the Tree-of-Life is bleeding death from its roots, tribes stand divided and in need of someone strong enough to unite them or bring them all down, and so the seemingly epic journey begins. Players are guided through the experience by a cool narrative storyteller that narrates every step of your journey, however the journey is very much yours. Your actions and choices ultimately decide how your story of survival ends. BioMutant already plays like a Jak and Daxter meets Horizon Zero Dawn experience. While the code we were able to demo was more on the linear side the game is in fact an open world affair. BioMutant looks to be wonderful addition to the myriad of upcoming games for 2018 and we are excited to learn even more about the world and the games particular protagonist in the coming months.


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Platform PS4 Genre ACTION ADVENTURE Publisher SONY INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT Developer SONY SANTA MONICA Release Q1, 2018

t E3 2016, PlayStation revealed their biggest PS4 secret; a sequel-come-reboot of God of War, with a trailer which nearly took the roof off with wild cheers in the Shrine Auditorium where the conference was held. Fast forward 12 months to E3 2017 and God of War was back, looking bigger, better and more fleshed out than ever. But the new trailer wasn't just more bombastic, it also provided some real depth to the wider story and this new Norse setting, be it giant serpents, Kratos haunting past or the strained father son relationship between the angry anti-hero and his son, Atreus. However, with Sony not planning to release the game until early 2018, fans still have quite a few questions about this series bold new direction. What prompted the change in camera angle? How will the boy play his part in the game? What still makes this a God of War with so many changes? Thankfully, we've been able to revisit the game in the company of God of War's Director Cory Barlog, who as many might know, returned to helm the project at Sony Santa Monica - having left the studio in 2007 following the release of God of War 2 on the PS2. The time in between allowed Barlog to stop over at Crystal Dynamics to help direct the cinematics for the new Tomb Raider, before eventually returning to forge his brave new adventure for the once Ghost of Sparta. Cory Barlog delves into how he pitched this interesting new direction for the character, changing gameplay mechanics, picking apart Norse mythology and his plans for the series and character beyond the 2018 release.


by LINK-CABLE


Q&A You left after God of War 2 and you returned in 2013 for this big new chapter in Kratos life. What drew you back?

Rebooting the series, how did that elevator pitch go exactly with Sony?

Barlog: It’s funny because Kratos goes on this journey leaving Greece at the end of God of War 3 and he kind of ends up wandering the earth for an as yet undetermined amount of time that we’re not telling anybody. I kind of feel like I kind of went through that a bit. Coming back, Kratos is arriving in this new place and I think that I too had reached a point where I think I was ready to take on something bigger.

Barlog: Initially, when I came back I said look we need to fundamentally shake things up. I think a lot of work needs to go into evolving the game, things need to change, we need to move this forward. When I was doing that with the team, we examined a lot of different avenues, I had thrown the idea of Kratos having a son early on and I think when it came down to it, every other idea seemed to be orbiting around that singular idea. Finally, I just kind of said all right you know what, I think this is the one, want to push forward

'The elevator pitch was Kratos has a son. It was literally just that.'


with, so I started telling other people about it. And how did they react? Barlog: I got very strange reactions from team members at first. The elevator pitch was Kratos has a son. It was literally just that. Then I had to explore what that meant and all the little light bulbs started to turn on. Like, what kind of father would he be? From a narrative point of view, what is Atreus bringing to the game? Barlog: Well, for one thing, Atreus knows multiple languages in the game and for me that one

aspect helped highlight the idea of a stranger in a strange land. Kratos has escaped a little bit of his past, but he is in this alien world and this kid is actually a necessity for him. He can’t understand some of the things people are saying, he can’t read writing on the wall, so to complete the goal they’ve set out to do, Kratos needs his son, just as much as his son needs him. It's this symbiotic relationship and Atreus is the human side Kratos lost so long ago. On the other hand, Kratos is teaching him how to be a god, because to him being a god is this horrible disease so he’s trying to prepare him for what Kratos believes will be a life of misery.


So is Kratos still an anti-hero within this game, is he still trying to work against the gods? Barlog: I think he’ll never trust the gods, gods of any pantheon or any region anywhere, that’s never going to change. He also has an inherent distrust of everyone. I think he’ll never lose that idea that he doesn’t care what anybody thinks. What's changed is that I think now Kratos has realised that everything he has done in the past hasn’t worked. His vengeance and blaming of others and saying 'other people did this to me'; now he's realised that’s not going to change him, so he needs to change himself. In terms of Atreus, how does he impact gameplay without the game becoming one long protect mission? Barlog: First thing to know is there’s this game called Dead to Rights. In it, this guy has a dog which he can send out to do things, it’s like a projectile weapon. To me, that game mastered the ability to have a game with a companion

which is never a burden. The dogs always an active participant and you enter into a risk reward system when you send him out. Whether that's to distract someone or grab their weapon. In this game, you enter into similar situations and you are actively saying I’m entering into a risk reward scenario. We talked to a bunch of other studios who’d done this and some cautioned us against it. But we’ve established some core set of rules like, you don’t want this kid to be a burden, you don’t want him to be the reason you die, you don’t want him to steal your kills. Everything he does is helping you but not taking anything away from you. Player agency is so important. It leads into the narrative as well, so while you're fighting, they’re talking about tactics, then when it's over the boy will be like so how did I do? And Kratos might be like not good enough, do this and this and this. So the child will process that as he’s not satisfied with me, I’m not strong enough - but it’s just Kratos trying to prepare him. A big theme of the game is Kratos mastering his own rage and the lesson he’s trying to pass onto his son. Don’t just get mad for no reason, use it, channel it, make it into a weapon so you can survive The camera angle change. Was that a gradual decision?

Barlog: This has been a very contentious subject for so long. I don’t think we would have made it if it had been gradual. I had to kind of rip the band aid off and say this is what I want and just deal with the months and months of fighting with the team. Finally, the lead combat designer Jason McDonald, who was a fan of having the camera much further back said ‘alright go away, leave me alone for a couple of days, I am going to try something, I’ll do some tests and I’ll come back to you’


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'A big theme of the game is Kratos mastering his own rage and the lesson he's trying to pass onto his son'


'A lot of people said,'Kratos story is done, you should get rid of him' and I am like really?

So, we come back after the weekend and he goes, ‘alright, well first of all you are going to laugh because what I chose is very different to what I think you are expecting me to choose’ and then he explained he had something quite cool that was even closer than what I was even asking for and I was just like “WINNER!” Then when Jason started talking about it and talking about how nobody was really doing it like this, and he had a bunch of ideas of how we were going to be able to make it work, it was an exciting challenge.

From what we’ve seen so far, the axe also seems to be a focal point for a game, a character in itself, was that intentional? Barlog: It was intentional, right from the beginning. There’s a lot of history, a lot which we haven’t told everybody and will be told throughout the game. It is more than just a weapon, it is absolutely a piece of history that connects directly to them and connects to the rest of the world as well. It’s definitely important.


When you’re piecing this story together, how did you conclude we’ll have these bits of Norse mythology and not these bits especially when it’s so dense? Barlog: The thing with Norse mythology is that there’s so much great stuff and so much bonkers stuff. In the research, we opted for things that spoke to us, elements we knew we could have a take on. Even if it was a single line that referenced a small part of Norse. We have some parts which are actually based on one single sentence. Some of the characters are chosen in the same way. Like this persons one character trait is so fascinating we should really focus on that. Looking at everything, you’ve changed the camera angle, Kratos is drastically different, combat has evolved, you’ve got the son thrown in too. So what is it about the game, in your mind, that still makes it a God of War

game? Barlog: It’s interesting because, when you look at it, is Zelda Breath of the Wild still Zelda? Am I still Corey because I am different from when I was in high school? I think change is often regarded as bad because it’s difficult. That’s what’s interesting about the new story too, the change for Kratos is not easy, it is going to be a long road. But he is going to still be a lot of who he is for a long time and elements of the new start to bleed in. To me I don’t see it as throwing anything away. I don’t see it as totally fundamentally changing anything. A lot of people said ‘Kratos story is done you should just get rid of him’ and I am like really? Because a lot of people talk about Mario and Link and has anybody seen a Zelda game and said Link’s story is done?


'...with this game, I think people know that we're going to be here for a while. Me personally, I know I've got a couple more of these in me.'

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ven when the character is fundamentally fferent?

rlog: For me, I think it’s interesting to take this y who is dark and very much the iconic presentation of the anti-hero and then in some ays treat it like okay what would it be like if he anted to change. How difficult would it be for him just to have a oment, a single moment in which he went like ere I can feel something. The example I would give is Wilson Fisk, in aredevil season one. Now, King Pin is not a aracter you would think, if he had relationship oubles I’d be bummed for him. But honestly, hen I watched season one of Daredevil I felt for sk. I related to him a little bit. Obviously, they ake him really dark in the end and it’s really bad here he goes, but that sort of interpretation, there some vulnerability there that is just unheard of r the character. Again, some people will say ‘oh you’ve anged King Pin’ but it’s like no man, human ings are complicated, very complicated and body is ever just one thing.

The way you talk about Kratos now, it’s like the beginning of something. And clearly, the work that’s gone into this game, to create such a bold new chapter for the character, presumably this can't be a one-shot deal for you and the game? Barlog: For me, I am just trying to get this game done. But I will say that when I chose this story, I had chosen it because I already outlined and mapped out stories for multiple games. I have an arc in my head that goes well beyond this game and everything that we are doing in God of War, to me, is very much building towards that. Like you see the second God of War game and it ends with Kratos going up to Olympus. Everybody said that it was the stupidest decision like why are you doing this, nobody wants a cliffhanger ending. But I was like, whatever, this is awesome. This is telling people more to come, this is great. And with this game, I think people know that we’re going to be here for a while. Me personally, I know I’ve got a couple more of these in me.


PREVIEW

EXTINCTION

Platform PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre ACTION-ADVENTURE Publisher MAXIMUM GAMES Developer IRON GALAXY STUDIO Release Q1, 2018


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Avil is the last-remaining Sentinel and only he has the power to save humankind. Indie developer Iron Galaxy presents a brand new action-adventure game – Extinction. Extinction places emphasis on high-speed traversal around an interactive environment. Avil must move quickly traversing across rooftops, alongside buildings, and more to save humanity from the encroaching horde, and take down the seemingly endless waves of Ravenii using his powers as a trained Sentinel. And while the swarm of smaller minions may seem like the crisis at hand, there’s always a larger problem on the horizon. Armies of ogres are equipped with their own weapons and armor, requiring Avil to use tactical thinking, the structure of the environment, and even the enemies themselves in order to quickly eliminate the giants before they destroy all that’s left of the world and drive it to extinction. It will take more than raw power to defeat these monstrous foes. Avil needs to use strategy, cunning and quick thinking to permanently take down ogres covered in layers of bone, iron, spikes, thorns, and dark steel. Avil fights these giants in real-time combat, but there’s only one way to stop them permanently, decapitation. However, a Ravenii decked out in spiked armor isn’t going to be easy to take-down as his armor will injure Avil if he comes in contact with it. Therefore, he must lure a spiked Ravenii into smashing the ground, cracking his own armor until it breaks away. Only then can Avil sever a limb, vertically run up the monster’s torso, and make the finishing blow using a Sentinel’s most valuable skill: a powerful rune strike. Extinction comes with a deep story campaign featuring Avil front and center as he desperately rescues countless civilians while taking down massive and brutal opponents. Added to the fray, Extinction laces the action with dynamic side missions maintaining various objectives, earnings upgrades to aid the adventure. Players will need to master Avil's vast array of skills

based combat and maneuverability. Avil is an agile protagonist who can quickly travel horizontally and vertically, performing wall runs with the use of a whip as a vault to perform devastating air assaults. Every battle in Extinction is uniquely different from the last and there are tons of battles. Impressively, these epic battles are integrated with fully destructible environments, allowing the use of objects throughout the world for strategic advantages. So far, Extinction is high on our list of must play games for Q1-2018, and thankfully we will all be able to take down hordes of towering Ravenii on the PS4, Xbox One and PC very soon.


PREVIEW

WARHAMMER: VERMINTIDE 2

Platform PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre CO-OP ACTION Publisher FATSHARK Developer FATSHARK Release Q1, 2018


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Developer and publisher Fatshark brings back the five popular heroes of the original cooperative adventure, as they face off against an even greater threat - the combined forces of the cowardly Skaven army and the barbaric Chaos faction, for a more daring and feature rich experience. While the original game offered bold and challenging ecounters, the sequel aims to up the challenge meter like never before, as you and your team desperately try to survive the never-ending horde of enemies. Players can now choose between fifteen different careers, climb the talent tree, and customize their weapon arsenal. As you fight your way through thirteen stunning levels. The only thing standing between utter defeat and victory is you and your allies, so if you fall, so will the Empire. Fatshark has certainly added more eyepleasing depth to Vermintide 2 and while the game is not expected to launch until eary 2018, the game in its current state is already visually striking. Even the new ground breaking melee action has been given a serious boost, pushing the boundaries of the first person co-op genre. The game introduces the dark, bloody and twisted Chaos as an enemy faction. Other new features include fifteen new hero careers, new environments, talent

trees and the proprietary Heroic Deeds System. More specifically, the ruthless four player cooperative experience will require a team effort to survive the never-ending onslaught of the combined forces of Chaos and Skaven, which are merciless. As mentioned before, the five heroes can choose fifteen unique career paths, each with different appearances, abilities, talents and weapon arsenals to best suit your preferred combat style. The new and improved loot system now rewards players with relevant loot for the chosen career at the end of each successful mission. We actually cannot emphasize enough the overwhelming and unimaginable odds of the relentless Skaven, and now with the Chaos at their side the you and your buds must be seriously prepared. In all fairness, if you liked the first game, then you should love the sequel. According to Fatshark CEO, Martin Wahlund, “ We have listened to the community, analyzed hours and hours of online playthroughs, and combined this with our passion for co-op games to bring you the very best experience possible.” Don't you just love it when the developers seriously take the opinions of the community to heart to better the experience.


GAME


PS4 XBO

PC Platform: PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre: Action-Shooter ESRB: Teen Publisher: Devolver Digital Developer: Reikon Games

RUINER is must play experience with

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ffering a unique take on a futuristic dystopia, developer Reikon Games has set their creative ambitions on RUINER, a brutal cyberpunk action adventure that has quickly become one of our favorite indie games of the year. Set in the year 2091 within the cyber metropolis of Rengkok City, Rengkok South is where you spend most of your stay. Considered the bottom of the bottom, according to a local mechanic who comes to your aid soon enough, RUINER places you in the more than capable boots of a nameless mask wearing wired psychopath who lashes out against a corrupt corporate system known as Heaven. While your sole purpose of saving your brother from this monolithic corporation hangs in the balance, players are introduced to a secretive hacker allie only known as Her, who offers informative insight into your brothers whereabouts and more.

great quality across the board!

At the heart of this stylish top-down reality sits Heaven, which basically owns the Rengkok region. Among their numerous sub-companies and limitless influential ties, Heaven’s main product is Virtuality offering real sensations in the virtual world. Unfortunately you eventually have to wake up. RUINER is a visionary tale comprised of a stylish glimpse into the future, maintained by an aggressive reality where punishing your foes is a constant joyride to the heart of Heaven. With a few errands like quests updated to your list of objectives while perusing Rengkok South, our no-named masked hero again with the constant aid of Her, sets his sights on uncovering as much as he can about his brothers whereabouts, including new insights into the slums Rengkok South. RUINER is all about properly managing and replenishing your valuable health and kinetic energy, while refining your kill skills, gaining skill points

in an effort to broaden your abilities which requires skills points for purchasing. With a total of (13) abilities our hero progressively becomes a seemingly unstoppable killing machine. While there are multiple abilities, developer Reikon has situated the ergonomics comfortably, limiting the use of each ability strategically to specific buttons. Conveniently, players can retrieve the most useful abilities on the fly for varied combative scenarios. The most commonly used abilities were the Dash, Energy Shield and Power Attack, however as the narrative unfolds drawing you closer to your mysterious brother, the combat becomes a brutal affair of trial by fire, (the game becomes increasingly more challenging) requiring you to pull out all stops in order to survive. Early on I was able to have my way with the colorful enemy types by only using a few of my abilities, yet later on I was compelled to activate abilities like Overload, the Kinetic Barrier, Ghost


Break, the Shock and Grenade Launcher, with the Relex Booster as a helpful constant in order to get me out of those too close for comfort confrontations. Impressively, you are greeted with some old school boss battles scenarios boosting your confidence with each successful encounter. Progressing through the story players are met by barriers which need to be hacked in order to pass through. Hacking these barriers are simple requiring players to accurately tap the correct sequence of buttons for passage. This hacking behavior is also necessary for acquiring newer weapons which are locked up in vaults throughout the levels. After defeating a boss or an areas mini-boss the handy weapon grinder

makes an appearance, grinding all of the areas weapons into some much needed Karma that is eventually launched out of the grinder and added to your Karma level. Also, very similar to completing a level in games like DMC Devil May Cry, RUINER does a level evaluation of your kills, deaths and total points ultimately giving players a letter grade of how well they performed, just before moving the story forward. Visually RUINER is a super stylish eye-pleaser, reminiscent of Metal Gear with its cold metal inspired level designs, perfectly adding to the games reality of despair and corruption. The impressive lighting, detailed character models and environments are stellar in their presentation. Complimenting the visuals are the games cut-scene cinematics and

cut-scene artistic character dialogue stills, which only enhance the experience Oozing with a myriad of stylish quality, RUINER is easily one of the best indie game of 2017. With so many upgrades to be added to your list of awesome abilities, a single playthrough is truly not enough as I am certain most will be compelled to tackle this rich experience for a second time. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how magical the games soundtrack adds a pulsating heart beat to the affair. RUINER is must play experience with great quality across the board!

9.0


PS4

PC Platform: PS4, PC Genre: Psychological Thriller ESRB: Mature Publisher: Ninja Theory Developer: Ninja Theory

I simply could not stop playing the game until

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nown for their impressive list of titles such as Heavenly Sword, Enslaved Odyssey to the West and DMC Devil May Cry, developer Ninja Theory’s latest interactive tale takes us to the doorsteps of Helheim or Hel as it is popularly known according to Norse mythology. Steeped in a transcendent universe, layered with mystical Norse overtones, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice takes players on an epic journey of salvation as Senua, a celtic warrior who suffers from an extreme case of psychosis. On a quest to save Dillion, her lost loves soul from the clutches of Hel, Senua’s state of psychosis is unwavering with paralyzing resolve. Believing that the source of the Darkness, Senua’s ever present antagonist and its source are in Helheim, Senua with her bizarre reality, fearlessly traverses through barren and gruesome environments.

I discovered its powerful conclusion

Along for the ride, and within Senua’s very active mind, a variety of individual thoughts, with their own personalities occupy an entertaining space as Senua’s sidekicks. While these voices keep Senua company throughout her tumultuous journey, their intentions are never manifested through Senua’s action, however due to their real sense of self-preservation, Senua is never without their boastful and encouraging insight during intense combat sequences, and even upon entering questionable new locales. However, every once in a while these compelling thoughts are able to get a subtle rise out of our capable warrior maiden. While Senua’s thoughts are not real, due to her mental illness, her thoughts are as much real to her as the thoughts, sights and sounds of a considerable normal person. Because we believe what we see, touch and hear around us, our reality can also threaten our very existence and such is the case for

Senua in a literal sense. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an ambitious and bold tale which fully captures the severity of mental illness through a compelling narrative that embraces admirable gameplay elements for an unforgettable journey I will not soon forget. The world of Hellblade is cold and desolate, absent of life filled with corpses. As the saying goes, only the dead live in Helheim, however Senua is the sole survivor in this world, yet Ninja Theory has managed to deliver a memorable experience through her psychosis, fantastic puzzles and level designs and wonderful combat. Imagery weighs heavily on the experience as seen through Senua’s vivid thoughts. What Senua often sees as an impassable object or barrier, her subconscious relates to only being passable by way of discovering the necessary symbols within her nearby surroundings as the key to progress.


Accepting how Senua sees the world around her and in relation to her minds superstitious beliefs gives the player an understanding of how to decipher many of the games challenging puzzles. There could be an occasion where you find yourself looking all around for an opening, while the opening is actually hiding in plain sight. Often these mystifying environmental riddles lead Senua into the heart of formidable boss confrontations. Considered demi-gods of Norse mythology, in order to gain access or overcome the mighty foes of the Darkness, Senua is tasked with utilizing her combative prowess to defeat these sizable adversaries. As illustrated through Senua’s psychosis, players are progressively offered pieces of the Senua’s past, building upon her origin story, made relative to her current mental state. The more I learn about Senua’s past, her upbringing, the Darkness, her lost love Dillion, whose very skull she takes on her journey and what he meant to her, the more transparent Senua becomes, cementing my empathy to her plight. The combat in Hellblade is supported by a simple yet impressive and effective combination of sword strikes, sustained with a blocking maneuver that if timed

just right offers a opening attack with great results. During combat scenarios Senua is able to utilize evasive maneuvers, again block and attack. Attacks can be varied from light to heavy with the inclusion of combining attacks with stylish aerial strikes. Senua can even run directly into her enemies with a charge offense, knocking most enemies back for an opening sword strike. Once Senua discovers the true purpose of her iron mirror device, our heroine becomes even more empowered by the aid of her focus ability, which operates in relation to the iron mirror. During battles Senua is temporarily able to slow down time, allowing her to manipulate her foes attacks with a barrage of attacks of her own. In addition, the focus tactic also becomes extremely useful when facing enemies who can attack from the shadows. Sometimes enemies will choose to attack from their shadow form, leaving Senua unable to land a strike, as though she is swinging at a mist of smoke. By activating her focus ability Senua exposes their true form enabling her to effectively engage. Ninja Theory has gone on record calling Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice an independent AAA game, one that has

been developed with AAA quality and intent, but with a more focused game design, lower price point and open development process that defines indie games. Without a doubt Hellblade plays like a AAA title. What the game may lack in its full production since Senua is the only player in the world and so on, Ninja Theory greatly makes up for it with intense attention of the senses, resulting in a vigorous and fascinating experience. For $29.99 Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an absolute bargain and a must buy title. While I did experience a subtle glitch early in the game when I began climbing the first ladder of sorts, from there on out Hellblade performed without a hitch. I simply could not stop playing the game until I discovered its powerful conclusion, or needed food or sleep, of course.Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is Ninja Theory’s best work yet, and we truly hope to once again journey with Senua on her next thrilling adventure.

9.2


PS4 Platform: PS4 Genre: Action RPG ESRB: Mature Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Guerrilla Games

I truly never wanted

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fter 68 hours and 49 minutes of being submerged in the universe of Horizon Zero Dawn, I have finally come up for air with bold proclamations. In truth, there is no way to fully express all of which Guerrilla Games has created here. Yet the idea puts a pleasant smile on my face in recollection of this monumental experience. With each console generation gamer’s and game critics alike are anxiously anticipating that one game which will undoubtedly raise the interactive achievement bar to new heights. These games are rare gems, possessing a seamlessly unique sophistication throughout. Almost every nook and cranny related to the production value, story and the all important game play is scrutinized with a fine tooth comb and upon entering these worlds you are immediately swept away by their compelling grasp. From the

the story to end

drooling sights, emotionally moving sounds and exhilarating interactive game play, Horizon Zero Dawn is one such game which has left this critic truly amazed and exhausted. As an open-world RPG, Horizon Zero Dawn places you in the shoes of an inquisitive young lady named Aloy. Forced to live her youthful years as an outcast due to reasons fully explained within the game, a midst an ostensibly primitive reality, Aloy discovers a rare device known as a Focus. Already the inquiring type, the Focus device allows Aloy to see that which is invisible to the naked eye, eventually prompting a larger-than-life mystery, which drives our heroine on her tumultuous journey of discovery. Horizon Zero Dawn is set on a postpost apocalyptic Earth, where man who was once at the forefront of technological achievement, has in the future digressed, returning to our history’s more primordial existence.

On the surface, Aloy’s new Earth is maintained by various clans, higher social orders, bandit (outlaw) encampments and social outcasts, with interesting ideologies. However, the star of the show is supported by the mechanical robotic beasts, which roam the lands. From the start, you fall in love with Aloy, who longs to understand her place in this massive world of mechanical monsters and rigid bureaucratic rule. While many RPG’s offer the user option of gender choice, for Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games firmly impresses Aloy on you for the entire ride. The result is impactful, giving the experience a meaningful and empowering emphasis. The world of Horizon Zero Dawn becomes increasingly threatening at almost every turn. Yet, possessing a desire for acceptance and an improved identity, this harsh existence begins to shape Aloy’s personality and survival prowess. Supporting a simple and


effective communication dialogue, players are prompted to sometimes express Aloy’s response with force, compassion or logic. These indicators are supported by on-screen item such as a fist, a heart or a brain, respectively. This allows the player to shape Aloy in their desired image. As RPGs go, at first glance Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel as there are glaring influences from previous games within the genre. From Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry Primal to Red Dead Redemption and The Witcher 3, there are clear inspiration indicators here. However, the further ones goes down this rabbit, the more of what you thought you recognized was something completely different, and in many cases, better in fact. Simple enough, Horizon maintains a six tiered UI interface supporting skills, inventory, crafting, the world map, quests and an informative notebook. The skill tree offers three main approaches to the gameplay; prowler, brave and forager. Each category is aligned with twelve enhanced skills for Aloy to acquire through skills point, which are earned though XP. Aloy’s inventory, which offers weapons, outfits, mods, resources, treasure boxes and the like, works in tandem with the crafting feature. Weapons support the popular loot

grades of uncommon, rare and very rare indicated by the distinct green, blue or purple colors, respectively associated with their level of superiority. Outfits also work in this same fashion as specific uniforms offer Aloy distinct combat advantages. In addition, modifications supporting weapons and uniforms also work in this same order, further enhancing Aloy’s progression of physical and tactical power. Yes, we have all seen something like this before, but how it all translates together with the games awe-inspiring gameplay and fascinating narrative is truly magical. The world is filled with collectibles, audio, text and hologram datapoints, with the added scanned glyphs which in total I decided to read as many as I found, all adding a wealth of meaning to the contrast of the old world and the new. Horizon Zero Dawn is a technical marvel, and the most stunning, eyepleasing interactive spectacle this critic has ever seen. Having played the game on the PlayStation 4 Pro in 4K for its entirety, the level of detail truly amazes. Optimized for the PlayStation 4 Pro, draw distances convey an unbelievable level of structure, with mountain ranges and land monuments showcasing vibrant form. Supporting an immersive day/night cycle, there is never a point within the game where it seems Guerrilla has cut a

single corner. The entire playing field of Horizon Zero Dawn, whether in the icy cold climate, hot barren lands of the desert, the refreshing richness of the lush green lands or the surrounding locales of flourishing Meridian, and even while traversing the Earth’s underbelly within the varied cauldrons, you can never escape its beauty. For a game this gorgeous, Guerrilla thought it necessary to add a photo mode option and I am glad they have. Easy to use, I have taking over 60 images from my play though and I don’t believe I am done, just yet. With clear certainty, Horizon Zero Dawn is best new IP I have played this generation. There is absolutely no debate. Where it counts Guerrilla Games has nailed it. Very seldom if ever do we experience a successful RPG with action adventure like gameplay, mixed with invigorating tactical combat, fluid and responsive platforming, alongside one of the most rich and inspiring stories. I truly never wanted the story to end.

10


PS4 XBO

PC Platform: PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre: Shooter-Hunter ESRB: Teen Publisher: Astragon Software Developer: Expansive Worlds

Hunter: Call of the Wild offers a mature appeal

C

rafted by developer Expansive Worlds comes a true wilderness hunters dream game, in the form of The Hunter: Call of the Wild. Developed with seemingly painstaking scrutiny in order to capture the true essence of being out in the wild, Expansive Worlds has left no stone unturned with their compelling depiction. The Hunter: Call of the Wild is a true open world FPS, which prides itself on forcing player to approach the experience as would a real-life hunter. Meaning, patience is an absolute virtue and if players can buy into this system of methodical currency, then there is an abundance of entertaining quality to be had. Choosing between a male of female hunter, players immediately venture out into the vast open wilds and immediately discover the impressive attention to detail. The longer you stay in the game the more intoxicating the world around

that will not be for everyone

you becomes. This is supported by a rich visual and sound presentation, which truly captures the impression of being out in the wild as the wind blows gently through the trees, birds chirping melodious sounds in the distance, with the crackling of insects and rodents hurrying through the bush nearby, among other neighboring visitors waiting to evade your itchy trigger finger. Even the rays of the sun will often reflect off the vegetation during the daytime, while at night the moon and the stars brightly add a pristine yet intimidating temperature to the evening setting. I must emphasize that while The Hunter: Call of the Wild is a first-person shooter, if you are looking for a fastpaced action hunter shooting experience, this is absolutely not that game. Steeped in realism, these hunting grounds are marinated with a multitude of lush locales which introduce almost endless forest scapes, rivers and lakes, mountain ranges and prairie lands.

Similar to games such as Assassin’s Creed where players are required to reach certain high points in order to open key points of interaction in the surrounding area, here when players climb to the top of lookout points, point of interest are then introduced giving players a gorgeous, almost birds-eye view of the valley. These lookout points are scattered throughout the map, which unlocks addition hunting quests. Becoming a successful hunter is about ones perseverance in The Hunter: Call of the Wild. Enduring the sometimes tricky process of getting in the right position for that accurate kill shot is the name of the game. Unfortunately for players who are all about instant gratification, you are sure to get frustrated by what may seem like a scarcity of available animals to rapidly place in between the cross-hairs of your weapon of choice. However, do not be fooled by this, as there are loads of animals in the wild to add to your kill list.


It is all about the approach. With the ability to spot predators with their keen sense of hearing, animals are not aimlessly walking out in the open begging to be shot, they must hunted. Sure, with enough composure to wait in the bush preferably in prone position and hopefully in the right direction, you can occasionally spot your prey taking in the blissful wonders of nature. On occasion I could even spot several animals attentively passing by my view. In these precious moments the games comes alive. Yet, the moment doesn’t last that long, requiring you to take careful aim for that perfect kill shot. You will learn early on that a well placed head-shot will make all the difference between getting a quick kill instead of having to hunt down your wounded prey. When chasing your prey players are required to carefully identify the bloodstained trail of their recently shot animal. Because the wilderness is filled with various animals roaming about, players need to constantly identify the correct trail as animal prints

will often cross the paths of other animals, so paying attention to the right ques is key. I found myself feeling like a kid in a candy store with so many hunting trail options while pursuing my preferred prey, due to the sheer amount of trails to follow, but of course it does come at the cost of your much needed careful persistence. As the hunt starts out you are equipped with binoculars, two deer lures or callers, a smart device and a standard Ranger .243 rifle that does gets the job done. However, there are several rifles (no assault rifles), handguns, shotguns and bows to spice up the hunt. Speaking of the bow, playing with the Hawk Edge CB-70 was fantastic! Super quiet and powerful this bow was a joy to play with. The downside of playing with this bow however, was due to it low accuracy, forcing me to get closer to my prey than I wanted, but of course, Expansive World would not make it too easy. Interestingly, while everything which builds up to making this a fulfilling

hunting experience delivers quite well, the actual killing of your prey left much to be desired. Maybe this had to do with how quickly the animal vanishes from your sight after collecting the necessary bounty or maybe there wasn’t enough celebratory cadence to accompany the kill. Regardless, there was a void, which fought against the earlier processions of the game. After spending over 50 hours hunting and opening up new locations, as well as joining a few online hunters for some impressive cooperative hunting, which allows for up to 8 players, Expansive Worlds has delivered a true to life and satisfying hunting experience. The Hunter: Call of the Wild offers a mature appeal that will not be for everyone. With its acquired taste for the hunt, what is on offer is more than satisfying for the disciplined hunter.

8.0


PS4

PC Platform: PS4, PC Genre: Shooter ESRB: Teen Publisher: NEXON Developer: Boss Key Production

Lawbreakers is a complete

F

rom the mind of Cliff Bleszinski, the uber talented game creator that brought us the undeniable Gears of War series, comes a new and very affordable dedicated multiplayer-only arena shooter, known simply as Lawbreakers. With a team (Boss Key Production) headed by Cliff Bleszinski and operated by COO Arjan Brusse, former co-founder of Guerrilla Games creating the acclaimed Killzone series, Lawbreakers leaps into this years shooter scene with high-octane, break neck speed gameplay. Lawbreakers currently offers nine character classes, each with an opposing alter ego of good vs evil. Classes consist of the Vanguard, Enforcer (my personal favorite), Titan, Assassin, Gunslinger, Juggernaut, Battle Medic, Wraith and Harrier, all supported with customization’s for character skins, primary weapon skins and stickers. Including secondary weapon skins and

blast to play!

stickers and various Kick Decals for each character. While some have considered Lawbreakers to be a shooter along the same lines as Blizzards ever popular Overwatch, I beg to differ. Sure, Lawbreakers operates along a unique set of character skill sets, Lawbreakers plays quite original, offering an antigravity playing field pitting deadly combatants known as the Law and Breakers against each other in a variety of gameplay modes across a motley of asymmetric maps. So far there are eight maps, consisting of Granview, Promenade, Mammoth, Station, Reactor, Vertigo, Redfalls and Trench, all with their own unique level designs. Bringing the combatants together game modes are comprised of five slightly altered modes shooters fans should be used to, just with bit of a twist. Having played with all the playable characters, Lawbreakers is definitely not

for the faint of heart. While all the characters look absolutely awesome with their progressive skin updates, becoming effectively proficient with many of the characters can be challenge. Forget about the ease of play for you noobs who love to camp and get away with lame kills to pad your kill/ death ratio, Lawbreakers is not that game. Fast and furious, Lawbreakers is all about mastering your character of choice while working cooperatively with your team if you are seeking to be victorious. Impressively the level designs compliment each of the unique characters quite well. Gameplay is nicely balanced for the most part, however there are times when characters such as Wraith with his incredible elusiveness, the Gunslinger with his powerful dead-eyed pistols and warped evasive traversal speed can really frustrate you when you are on the dying side of their trigger pull. Yet, when


trying to become as efficient with these same characters you then realize just how inspiring it is to master their abilities. Characters are all rather accessible, however to master characters like the always on the move Assassin or the Battle Medic with his or her terrible side arm, getting used to these characters while it take more time with some more than others, is extremely rewarding. From my experience long term success in Lawbreakers comes by way of mastering your characters skills among a cooperative team of players who are driven to ply together and

accomplish the objectives. Unfortunately, for players looking for something different while being solely rewarded with an attractive kill count, at the moment Lawbreakers does not offer a traditional team deathmatch mode. While we would like Lawbreakers to offer a team deathmatch mode, as well as more options before beginning each match, such as giving players a choice to choose the map and game modes prior to jumping in, including a better more effective side arm for the Battle Medic, among a few other additions, for $29.99 I am certainly not complaining based on its current offerings.

Lawbreakers is a complete blast to play! Currently available on PS4, PS4 Pro and PC, Lawbreakers looks crisp and clean and plays super smooth on PS4 Pro and PC. This review was played on the PS4 Pro and PC. Ultimately, Boss Key Productions has a real gem on their hands with Lawbreakers. Its staying power will be solely determined and maintained by offering key additives through regular and effective updates.

8.0


PS4 XBO

PC Platform: PS4, XBOX ONE, PC Genre: Action ESRB: Mature Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Developer: Deck13 Interactive

As a new IP The Surge truly has the potential

F

rom the creative team that brought us Lords of the Fallen, developer Deck13 Interactive unleashes their next challenging action roleplaying adventure, in the form of The Surge. Taken heavy ques from the Souls series and its imposing layer of inspired gameplay, The Surge takes place in a dystopian future where mankind has exhausted the world’s resources, leading to strained social service and environmental diseases. According to the developers, the game paints a grim portrait of the future where the evolution of technology in relation to society and the environment has led to a decadent era for humanity. You are Warren, a handicap gentleman who cannot walk. Bound to his wheelchair, Warren wants to make a difference, and in order to have the impact he so desires, Warren must place his trust in CREO, the mega-corporation promising to remedy earth of the war

of being something special.

and global warming crisis, as well as offering you the opportunity to walk again. Upon the promise of being able to walk again Warren ‘joins’ the CREO cause and quickly discovers that all is not so rosy. Sure, Warren can now walk, but at a brutal and painful cost. Waking up to his new reality, Warren finds himself equipped to the bone (literally) in his new seemingly clumsy exoskeleton suit, which enables him to walk, among other things. Soon, after exploring his new surroundings Warren observes that there are other individuals cursed to his same fate, yet their coherency is not quite in tact, in fact, they attack you on sight like fanatical cyborgs. Everywhere you turn, from pesty attack drones to crazed CREO exoskeleton suit wearing assailants, Warren is safe nowhere, and there is no turning back. Warren must fully unearth all the that CREO throws at him and the further you go the more challenging it becomes.

The Surge is played across varying locales of CREO’s industrial facility, with each area offering unique and intricate pathways of discovery, all impressively connected together allowing you the convenience or making your way through the facilities by way of a trial by fire approach. Amidst this cold metal environment players are consistently greeted by enemies who become increasingly formidable. However, while each area of CREO’s facility does express a particular presence, after awhile you can get the feeling that you have been here before when encountering new areas. This is not necessarily a bad thing, yet what does betray each areas uniqueness is supported by the lack of enemy diversity. For the most part as you navigate your way through the facility enemies will often behave the exact same with some varying attacks depending on the enemies themselves. This does however maintain narrative consistency if we are


nitpicking. The combat is founded on varying weapon types and their attributes. Keeping the combat fairly simple, your attacks, blocking and evasive measures are fairly easy to pull off. However, the challenge becomes how you manage your attacks while staying clear of enemy aggression, which is all tied to your stamina. Affectively, players become equipped with a multifunctioning attack drone, allowing you to express your power from a distance, in addition to being protected from enemy attacks via a useful sheild. Ultimately, each area of CREO offers an imposing boss battle that could take some getting used to as the initial introduction to these powerful bosses can seem overwhelming. Going into these encounters I found myself needing to be as equipped and as ready as possible, so paying careful attention to their attack patterns and my positioning was critical. While boss battles took several attempts before besting them all, some far more challenging than others, upgrading Warren with the current environments best enemy equipment saved me a lot of headache, for the most part. The more I died in these encounters

the more frustrated I became at the idea that my restart meant I needed to begin back at my safehouse and find my way back to the boss while being confronted by previous enemy types who could deplete some of my important resources needed to overcome the boss. Interestingly, the more you explore each area of the CREO facility before confronting the boss (highly recommended) the more you will begin to connect key areas, allowing you to travel through the facility much faster, like making your way directly to the boss with less hassle. While I understand why The Surge forces players in this way, after several unsuccessful attempts at besting a boss, the option of being able to begin right at the bosses lair would have been a welcome convenience, alleviating the monotonous trudge of getting back to the boss, despite the quicker route. Thankfully customization is founded on farming enemies for their parts, progressively turning Warren into a seriously dangerous anti-CREO operator, which impressively empowers the player. This along with the joy of overcoming the challenging boss battles kept me coming back for more punishment, despite the limited

assortment of enemy attacks atop the games seemingly hollow yet highly detailed environments. The Surge could seem like a grind after a while if you’re not used to playing game of this nature as it does not frequently hold your hand with narrative overtones driving the story forward. Fans of games such the Souls series, BloodBorne and even Nioh might want to give The Surge a try, as you will be right at home even if the aforementioned games are of a higher caliber. The Surge does a great job fusing its ideas together making the increase in player power and gameplay the star of the show. Though I would have wanted a more fleshed out story running alongside the challenging encounters, The Surge is quite entertaining in its own daunting way. I had a great time playing the Surge and hopefully Deck13 Interactive can improve upon the games slight imperfections. As a new IP The Surge truly has the potential of being something special.

7.5


PS4 Platform: PS4 Genre: Action Adventure ESRB: Teen Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Naughty Dog

Insane visuals, crazy fun gameplay with

F

rom the beginning Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was positioned as a stand-alone DLC expansion – as a last hoorah for the famed series. With the legendary Nathan Drake and his potential future exploits now forever removed, Naughty Dog reenlists fan favorite character of Uncharted 2 fame, Chloe Frazier as the star of the show, partnered with the formidable Nadine Ross, who made a significant splash in Uncharted 4, as the dynamic duo to carry this Uncharted experience forward. Cutting straight to the chase, Chloe and Nadine are pure magic on screen together as the battle tested treasure hunters on a mission to find the legendary tusk of Ganesh. As the story is told, son of Hindu god Shiva, lost the tusk while defending his father’s temple, according to the legend. While I could leave this next thought for the reviews conclusion, I rather not. Simply put, it would be an absolute disservice to

an engrossing narrative

fans if in fact this so-called expansion is truly the end of the series. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is not a DLC expansion and should certainly be considered in its own right a sequel to Uncharted 4. The game is that good! After eight blissful hours of action-packed gameplay, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is easily among the best in the series. From the beginning Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was positioned as a stand-alone DLC expansion – as a last hoorah for the famed series. With the legendary Nathan Drake and his potential future exploits now forever removed, Naughty Dog reenlists fan favorite character of Uncharted 2 fame, Chloe Frazier as the star of the show, partnered with the formidable Nadine Ross, who made a significant splash in Uncharted 4, as the dynamic duo to carry this Uncharted experience forward. Cutting straight to the chase, Chloe and Nadine are pure magic on screen together as the battle tested treasure hunters on a mission to

find the legendary tusk of Ganesh. As the story is told, son of Hindu god Shiva, lost the tusk while defending his father’s temple, according to the legend. While I could leave this next thought for the reviews conclusion, I rather not. Simply put, it would be an absolute disservice to fans if in fact this so-called expansion is truly the end of the series. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is not a DLC expansion and should certainly be considered in its own right a sequel to Uncharted 4. The game is that good! Based in India, and for the first time we get to play as Chloe Frazier who hires the services of mercenary Nadine Ross to help her find the legendary tusk of Ganesh, and from the start the two are quite uncertain of one another, despite their resolve to simply get the job done. This tension creates a dynamic contrast of the two complex characters, driving the story forward while making matters interesting to the backdrop of the series


in general. I recommend playing the game very loud as the weapons and explosions sound fabulous. Like all Uncharted games taking down enemies leaves various weapons littering the area so getting your hands on an assortment of weapons will be the least of your concerns. In combat, players can use long-ranged weapons, such as rifles and shotguns, and short-barreled guns like pistols and revolvers; handheld explosives such as grenades and C4 are also available. Though players can attack enemies directly, they have the option to use stealth tactics to attack undetected or sneak by them. Impressively, the game also introduces silenced weapons. Though the game is linear, environments feature multiple

paths for players to explore, adding to the treasure hunting side of the game. While the enemies in Lost Legacy behave quite similar to enemies of previous games in the series, it is impotant to note that shootouts are an absolutely blast. Though you play as Chloe for the games entirety, Naughty Dog has done a masterful job with Nadine as her AI sidekick. Unlike games like Ghost Recon Wildlands, which offers some rather frustrating character AI when playing the campaign, Lost Legacy seriously nails it! Never once was I worried about Nadine or Sam blowing my cover or going guns blazing at an inopportune time. With Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, whether Naughty Dog was intending on offering fans a final farewell story or

teasing the possibilities of taking the series in a new direction, the exploits of Chloe and Nadine are undeniable. We need more! Despite the games length which was slightly over eight hours, if there anything vaguely resembling a takeaway from the experience, it would be my selfish desire for more. The game was not too short and the length felt just right. Insane visuals, crazy fun gameplay with an engrossing narrative and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is easily one of the best games in the series.

9.0


COMIC


by Chris Micieli


HULK ISSUE #1 COMICS Platform: COMICS Genre: Action ESRB: Teen Publisher: Marvel

I think we all want to see Jenn transform

and start destroying things!

Cover Rank: 7/10 A solid cover. I like the use of colors and the distinction on who exactly the Hulk is going to be for this series. She’s not full on Hulk, and there could be a reason for that which I will cover shortly. Hulk smashes things, so holding the Hulk logo front and center with Jenn Walter grunting suits the cover well. Is she trying to hold the beast in or let it out? Could go either way.

Best Variant Isssue Pia Guerra Issue. Jenn is really struggling with trying to keep the beast within kept inside, and this cover does a great job expressing

that. She mid transformation and seems ashamed she can’t keep it inside. She’s got her back to us as she peers over her shoulder at us as if to say “don’t look at me”.

Best Moment Not much happened in the premier issue of Hulk, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a good moment. Since this moment is the conclusion of the issue I will direct you to the ending section of the review.

What I Like She-hulk seemed like she was

going to be a large part of Civil War II. She started out getting put in a coma after a battle with Thanos and when she finally awoke she did so to the news that her cousin Bruce Banner had been killed. It seemed like she would be a central part of the Civil War storyline. Yet after the revelation of Bruce’s death, we got a whole lotta nothin. It was strange. Maybe Marvel was holding out for this series. Whatever the case we finally have a follow up story to the event of Civil War II for She-Hulk. But instead of keeping the series with the title of She-Hulk the writers make it very clear this


series is not sticking with that title. In the introduction of the issue in the synopsis we are told just that. This is the new Hulk and that is what we are calling her. The fact that it is a female is of no significance.

What I Didn't Like Issue #1 moved a little slow and it might be a turnoff to the non hard core comic book fan. It more or less seemed like one huge introduction to the character which a person like myself can appreciate, but someone who might be just starting out with the series could feel let down. Top it off with the fact that Jenn never actually turns into the Hulk and I wouldn’t fault people for feeling

6.5

disappointed. Even though she is trying to prevent the transformation, and it’s inevitable she eventually will, starting the series off with a bang would have been a way to get people on board.

Ending: 8/10 A solid ending that for all the issues shortcomings will definitely keep you interested for issue #2. Jenn has gone back to her normal day job as a lawyer for the first time since coming out of the coma and is struggling internally with everything that comes with that. The first client she sees is a very strange elderly woman with jet black eyes who sends chills up your spine. She’s having issues

with her landlord and makes it a point to emphasize the fact that she cannot move out of where she lives. When you see what she looks like you wouldn’t want her as a tenant either. The conclusion centers around her and we get a very vague but very interesting reason as to why she doesn’t want to move. Something is living with her that she’s keeping a secret, and we are left to guess what it is.

What I'm Looking Forward To The cliffhanger ending has me looking forward to what the old woman is hiding, but maybe more than that, I think we all want to see Jenn transform and start destroying things!


COMICS Platform: COMICS Genre: Action ESRB: Teen Publisher: Marvel

Think of Aphra as a smaller time

female version of Han Solo.

Cover Rank: 7/10 What I like best about this cover is it introduces us to the team. Aphra might be the leader and the namesake of the comic, but the whole is made up by the sum of its parts. Droids Triple Zero and Beetee along with Wookie Black Krrsantan are just as important to this series as Aphra herself. So to see them featured in the premier issue is a nice sight.

with people who had become enamored with the character. We don’t know if Vader will make an appearance (if he does it would immediately be the best moment of the series, I’ll explain why later) but to put him on the front of an Aphra issue might work in two ways. One as a nod to the Vader series and the other to just get Vader on a cover. Like sex, Vader sells

Best Moment

supplies. What they are really going into town for is much more brutal and something I won’t spoil. We’ve come to know Droids as friendly and servant like thanks to R2 and 3PO. So to see Droids that are the total opposite is at first shocking and a little bit welcoming. R2 and 3PO were of great importance to Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance in general. Triple Zero and Beetee will be just as important to Aphra.

Best Variant Isssue Elsa Charretier Issue. Fans of the Darth Vader series are already familiar with exactly who Doctor Aphra is and her unceremonious exit from that series left a mark

Think of Triple Zero and Beetee as 3PO and R2-D2, respectively, but ruthless versions of those well known Droids. Case in point, Triple Zero and Beetee tell Aphra they need to go into town for

What I Like The absolute best part of this series is that it’s the first Star Wars comic series based on a character that were created in the


comics. Aphra was created for the Vader series so that was the first time anyone met her. It looks like Marvel was finally happy with and is taking a chance on their end of the Star Wars universe, and it’s time. They have done an incredible job adding to the lore of Star Wars, and to their credit they didn’t try to shake the apple tree right off the bat and run in a million different directions and create a million new and different characters. They gave us characters we knew well and put them in a new story. It was perfect. But now is the time to break away from that and start to stand on their own within the Star Wars world. If we are getting movies like Rogue One that introduce us to a new story and characters, than the comics can do the same. I also need to mention a small but creative section of the issue that shows the writer’s attention to detail. When Triple Zero and Beetee go into town for those “supplies”, Aphra asks them almost sarcastically to grab her a popsicle, fast forward to a page

later when the gang is driving to a location, we see Aphra in the driver’s seat holding a popsicle. There’s no mention of it in the dialog at all. It may be small, but if the writers are going to have details like that for something so small we should all have a keen eye for some other easter egg.

anyway at the conclusion of issue #1. Think of Aphra as a smaller time female version of Han Solo. She beats her own drum and we don’t know much about her past. So to have her father show up and offer her some help almost presenting himself as a spiritual being is something that has me interested.

What I Didn't Like What I'm Looking Forward To From an action standpoint, issue #1 was a little bit lacking. In place of action sequences we have a lot of dialog that helps us get to know Aphra on a deeper level. She’s a sarcastic person and that comes across on multiple pages, and the sole action sequence, as short as it is, doesn’t include her specifically. It’s early however and it’s Star Wars, the action is just around the corner.

Ending: 8.5/10 ts going to take some time for me and I assume fans of Star Wars to have a series dedicated to characters created totally for this comic. That was evident for me

How long can this series go without bringing in the characters we have come to know and love from the Star Wars universe. Vader thinks she’s dead after she faked her own killing in the Vader series, so if he were to return at some point it would be an amazing moment. Aside from Vader will Aphra run into any major or even minor characters from Star Wars? Personally, I would like to see it, but somewhere down the road. Let these characters get their own identity and footing before we rely on the star power of people like Vader, Luke or Solo

7.0


KINGPIN ISSUE #1 COMICS Platform: COMICS Genre: Action ESRB: Teen Publisher: Marvel

My favorite moment from Kingpin #1 is

more of a subtle moment.

Cover Rank: 7/10 I like this cover. It gives us a great view of what characters we should encounter when it comes to someone associated within the Daredevil world. Wilson Fisk is a big man in more ways than one and making him the focal point of the cover while Daredevil is confined to the lower corner is a smart and smooth decision.

Best Variant Isssue Bill Sienkiewicz Cover – The setting of issue #1 might be Kingpin attempting to go straight edge. We all know they can’t build a series based in a docile, laid

back, kumbaya singing Kingpin. Bill Sienkiewicz’s cover is just a nice reminder of the blood this man and spilled. By blood spilled I mean other people’s blood of course. Kingpin’s Butterbean mug is highlighted with blood splattering covering the page. Try as you might Wilson Fisk, you can’t change who you really are. You know it, I know it, Bill Sienkiewicz knows it.

Best Moment My favorite moment from Kingpin #1 is more of a subtle moment. It’s not a huge fight scene or a part with Kingpin tearing someone apart with his bare hands. We actually don’t get any of that at all

in this issue. No, I really like the quick interaction reporter Sarah Dewey shares with Matt Murdock while at a party Kingpin is attending with Ms. Dewey as his guest. Kingpin is trying to woo her into writing his biography and brings her along to a party to impress her. I was of course expecting Daredevil to make an appearance at some point in the series, and maybe I was expecting his appearance to be a full on battle when he did arrive. Instead it’s a short, friendly conversation between the Murdock and Ms. Dewey and that’s all. The conversation was about Kingpin obviously, and the party was one attended by prestigious people. So having Matt there as if to say “I


know he’s up to something and I’m just keeping an eye on things” (no pun intended) was a nice touch.

What I Like Maybe it’s just coincidence, but this is the second comic in a row I’ve reviewed where you can classify them as a ‘slow burn’, and maybe it’s just coincidence that both those comics were #1 issues (see Hulk #1 review). Maybe Marvel is wanting their writers to do stories with a more fleshed out story line and make these characters more lifelike and leave the explosions and mass fighting to the Inhumans and X-Men. I’m kind of OK with this. This issue centered around the dynamic of Kingpin and Sarah Dewey and how he is trying hard to get her to write his story. Building up the relationship looks like it will be of major importance throughout the series, so spending almost the entire issue on him working on her will really get us

7.5

immersed in the characters which I feel will pay huge dividends later. Fans of the Netflix series will no doubt make comparisons to the way Kingpin tries to make an impression on Vanessa in the early stages of season 1.

What I Didn't Like Kingpin doing karate. You can’t unsee that.

Ending: 8.5/10 A really good ending. Let’s not kid ourselves. The real ruthless Kingpin will at some point show his true colors and start cleaning up the underworld like he normally does. He might have already done so at the conclusion of issue #1. At the end we see him walking Ms. Dewey home through a park and Kingpin is approached by a homeless man asking for money. In an attempt to impress the woman he hands the guy $20. They continue on only to find the

homeless guy behind them now asking for more money and Kingpin’s watch while holding them at knife point. Kingpin gladly hands over what is asked. Did he impress her? He’s starting too. Ms. Dewey and Kingpin go their separate ways for the evening, and later the homeless guy is found by the cops dead in an ally. Was it Kingpin who killed him? Tough to say. After all he is homeless and obviously has a drug problem with the needle the cops found sticking out of his…….yea Kingpin probably killed him.

What I'm Looking Forward To Like Hulk, I’m waiting for what these characters are known for to come to fruition. Yet, I really appreciate the way we are presented with the story and I can be more than patient for the writers to present a fully thought out story before we see their true form. It will make it all the more special.


COMICS Platform: COMICS Genre: Action ESRB: Teen Publisher: Marvel

I like that I’m still torn on this

whole thing on who to root for.

Cover Rank: 9/10 Another solid cover for the series. Marvel has done a great job really hitting home that this is war and these covers really express that. The first issue had each race divided. Since then they are all intermingled fighting to protect their race. No detail is left unchecked. Just looking at it and seeing the colors flow is pure joy. There is so much to look at and dissect that these covers are almost issues all themselves. The T-Rex is a tad misleading however, at least for now.

Best Variant Isssue John Cassady Issue. While it may feature three important characters

to the series, only one had a somewhat large role within the issue. Nonetheless, this cover art is very well done and features a mid air Wolverine jumping right off the page at us with Black Bolt and Medusa’s images on either side of him. Somewhat simple but a great cover.

Best Moment There’s a couple different ones to choose from here. One dialog driven with a surprising result, the other a battle scene. I’m one for battles so let’s go with that. What we were left off with in issue #2 was Inferno and Iso of the Inhumans teleporting mid battle to an unknown location only to find another battle waiting for them in Logan. Iso goes to investigate something else that is happening

in the area leaving Inferno to battle the legendary X-Men. The result is not only shocking, but the state Logan is left in might be even more so. Rarely do you see him so defeated after a fight and to be brought down by an inexperienced hero makes it even more of an amazing moment. Add the way he brought Logan down and you are left staring at the pages in awe.

What I Like I like that I’m still torn on this whole thing on who to root for. I’m leaning on the Inhumans because of the way the X-men started they fight. Yea I sound like a 5 year old saying “he started it!”, but they did. Did they need too? Yea they kinda had too. Which makes this a real internal struggle for the


reader. It is also great writing in the fact that it is difficult for the reader to figure out what the next move is with the Inhumans. The X-Men have successfully taken New Attilan and have placed the most powerful Inhumans in Limbo. A place more difficult to escape than Hell. What they do next and how they do it is a mystery to all of us. Especially with Karnak in a secluded place all his own. Pretty sure they will come up with something though.

What I Didn't Like Switching artist, although planned, it was not a good idea. I don’t know why after two issues the

artist for the series switched from Francis Yu to Javier Garron but the difference is noticeable. Yu was a master at creating the dark atmosphere of this battle while Garron almost lightens it up and makes it a bit more kid centric from an art standpoint on certain pages. He’s still an amazing artist but what we were treated to in issue #1 and #2 almost spoiled us. However, Yu will be back for the final issue in the series which is something to look forward to.

Ending: 9/10 We don’t hear from Black Bolt the entire issue and in the end we find out why. Black Bolt could end this war in the blink of an eye and the

X-Men know that. So securing him and taking him out of the equation was priority number one. How they did it exactly we are not shown, but the end result we are. It’s impressive.

What I'm Looking Forward To Just for this incredible story to continue. You can’t figure out which way this war is going to finish on the side of. Although right now I’d say the X-Men have the upper hand. Look for the Inhumans to counter shortly as they are already planning a counter offensive with something the XMen either underestimated or forgot about completely.

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COMICS Platform: COMICS Genre: Action ESRB: Teen Publisher: Marvel

The question I’ve been asking since issue #1 is finally

asked by one of the characters...

Cover Rank: 8/10 A great and meaningful cover even if it just comes across as a close up of Magneto shouting in pain. It’s simple yet portrays the most integral part of the IvX story so far. More on that later.

Best Variant Isssue Ryan Sook Issue. 8/10. The best variants so far have been ones where a central character is placed in the middle and the remaining characters from each race is divided on either side of the cover. This time, Medusa is the one flying towards the reader. Her hair tangled in such a way

that splits the two races, each of them with their game faces on. Even though Black Bolt has been a non factor to this point his roar yells the loudest here.

Magneto. Talk about a bold move son. What does he see? The reasons why the X-Men pulled a preemptive strike on the Inhumans. Up until now the Inhumans didn’t know that the Best Moment Terrigen Mist was expanding and in a few short weeks will consume A turning point of sorts. The the entire planet. Now they do. So Inhuman named Mosaic who is now what? The Inhumans deep one of the few Inhumans that down are very honorable people have not been locked up in X-Men and even though they have been limbo, is given the task to infiltrate attacked are still looking at all of the Mutants at their base on Muir this in an optimistic way. Case in Island. Think of Mosaic as Patrick point, they have an opportunity to Swayze in Ghost. People can’t destroy Limbo, but Medusa tells see him but he can take over their them not to and instead just do bodies and while he is possessing enough damage to send a them, can see their thoughts past message. So this makes me and present. So he does this…..to think, with this new information


from Mosaic, will the Inhumans act like humanitarians and destroy the one thing that gives them power? Will the Inhumans destroy their Terrigen Mist so the X-Men can live?

What I Like I liked the addition of Mosaic and the key role he played in the issue. He’s one of those Inhumans that is not utilized enough and they put him to good use here. He also brought some comedic aspects to the issue to lighten the war mood up. I also liked that we have a break from the fighting and both teams are figuring out what to do next. The Inhumans have escaped Limbo and the Inhuman Royals who were locked up are no doubt going to be looking for some Xmen to battle, but they were not given the information that Mosaic recently discovered. Will they get

9.0

this information before they go head hunting for some X-Men? The twists and turns keep coming.

What I Didn't Like I mentioned in the best variant section about Black Bolt. He’s featured on almost every cover and I understand why. He’s a draw. The X-Men have been able to capture him and put him in a state where he is a non-factor thus far. I can understand that too. If Black Bolt were still an able bodied, this series would be one issue only. Having said all that, I wish he was more of a factor in the series. Couldn’t the writers figure out a way that deemed Black Bolt incapacitated yet still coherent? Right now he’s just a hero in some liquid being held together with wires. Think Neo in the Matrix. He has to make his presence felt at some point in the

series, but right now he is a mere footnote.

What I'm Looking Forward To The question I’ve been asking since issue #1 is finally asked by one of the characters taking part in this epic battle. We don’t get an answer but it leaves so many questions, debates and topics open for discussion.

Ending: 9/10 Only a few more issues left. Will the Inhumans use the new information from Mosaic as a way to go about this war in a different way? Will this information get to the Royals before they embark on a counter attack? Will Black Bolt and Karnak break free and impose their will? What will I do with my life when this series ends!?!


THANOS ISSUE #2 COMICS Platform: COMICS Genre: Action ESRB: Teen Publisher: Marvel

Honestly there wasn’t anything I can single out

as not enjoying

Cover Rank: 9.5/10 The contradictory nature of this cover is one that of all the past issues featuring Thanos never cared to tackle. Peace and serenity is of course something that is not thought of in the same breath as the name Thanos. What’s inside this issue can attest to that, but what is so appealing with this cover is we get the exact opposite of what Thanos is known for. I can’t help but think in the production meeting for this series they thought ‘what can we do that nobody will expect’ followed by ‘Thanos gently releasing a single butterfly into the atmosphere’. Well done Marvel, well done indeed

Best Variant Isssue Nguyen Issue. Just a cool, simple cover. Thanos is front and center looking down at us with his signature scowl. The cel-shading like design adds a cool aesthetic. Thanos almost resembles the Rock man from Neverending Story.

Best Moment I thought the opening sequence was going to be the best moment of the issue, but I should always assume Thanos can do worse (or better?) The conclusion of issue #1 left us wondering what would Thanos do next. How would he stop this impending doom laid

before him. The answer is to do what any of us would and go see a doctor, or in the Marvel world a scientist. It just so happens Thanos’ father happens to be one. The welcoming he receives is not one of hospitality and you can figure out how the end of this long lost meeting goes. Thanos has many names, and he earns each and every one of them with his brutal actions towards the end. Is there no end to the madness of Thanos?

What I Like With every story about Thanos there’s a sub story about people trying to stop him. This time around a team has been


assembled by none other than Thane, son of Thanos. He has meticulously put together a team he feels can face Thanos. Because he doesn’t just want to take down the great God, he wants to kill him. His thinking is assemble a smaller, smarter team instead of getting every able bodied hero and just go in fighting without a plan. We often feel like the people opposing Thanos have no chance of taking him down, and with good reason. This time we feel like because they are smart about their attack and who they are attacking with, they might just have the upper hand. Couple that with the

COMICS

Thanos health issues and the Mad Titan could really be in trouble.

What I Didn't Like Honestly there wasn’t anything I can single out as not enjoying. The pace of the issue was perfect, the storyline is going in a clear direction and there was the right about of back and forth between the two stories. Writer Jeff Lemire is really on top of his game here.

Ending: 10/10 The team attacks and leaves us on the edge on if there is a battle, or

is the weakened Thanos too weak to fight back and gives up to save his strength for a later time. This series is just getting started and it’s heading towards epic status.

What I'm Looking Forward To Pretty simple, I’m itching to see how the battle that just started at the end winds up. For the first time we have heroes who might have the upper hand on Thanos from the beginning, and Thanos has other personal issues on his mind and fighting enemies might leave him vulnerable.

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COMICS Platform: COMICS Genre: Action ESRB: Teen Publisher: Marvel

Thanos is in a state we

have never seen before

Cover Rank: 8.5/10 Great visuals of capturing the battle we were promised at the end of issue #2. The Shi’ar have arrived to take Thanos into custody and this cover image does everything to show us they are going all in, in an attempt to take down the Mad Titan.

Best Variant Isssue Pat Broderick Issue. Again there is only one variant Issue to this series and it’s a great one, although maybe not in line with the current story. The use of colors here seems a bit of a throwback to the older Thanos which I always love seeing. Him

looking down in a burning village from a mountain top is something we would expect of Thanos, but following this story seems to not make much sense. Just based on an art standpoint however, it’s fantastic work.

Best Moment Thanos is weak and dying. If there was ever a time for his enemies (which is pretty much everyone) to attack it is now, and the Shi’ar do just that. For the majority of the battle they have the upper hand. That doesn’t mean however that Thanos just lays down and surrenders. He’s still got fight in him and he slowly starts to turn the tide in his favor.

The best moment in this turnaround is at the beginning of it. Thanos is on his heels, and the Shi’ar send in the “third wave” which starts with Titan facing Thanos. You would think this would be the finishing blow to Thanos. Titan towers over him and is a very imposing figure. However, this is Thanos we are talking about here. As Titan goes in for the grab, Thanos takes his finger and breaks it. This is not your ordinary finger. The size of Titan makes it look like a body is being broken in half, and the visual, thanks to the great artwork, really makes your cringe.

What I Like


The entire issue is one big battle between Thanos and the Shi’ar cut between interview like dialog between someone “off camera” and a member of the the Shi’ar. These interviews are a nice short break in the action as we get background information on Thanos from people who know him and have battled him through the years. It’s a nice back and forth between fighting, interview, more fighting, another interview. The flow of the issue is great. While I don’t understand the importance of these interviews it was a nice surprise that they were actually being conducted during the battle! We get the impression they were done at another time at another location. The background art looks like a bar setting. We aren’t made aware these interviews are taking place in real time until the last interview, and when we do find out it really adds to the battle taking place right outside.

What I Didn't Like So remember that team that was meticulously being put together to take down Thanos? I wrote all about it in my review of issue #2. I was applauding the writers for doing something not done in a Thanos book, which is putting a team of smart characters together to take down the Mad Titan and not go in with just any able bodied superhero only to get taken down without much effort from Thanos. Well, that team has completely disappeared in issue #3. There’s no mention of them at all. The Shi’ar have come and they seem to have a plan as well, but we were never made aware of any of it until now. It’s a curveball, no doubt, and I’m leaving my faith in the writers hands that they have this story planned out for us. Yet, for now this is a little strange.

What I'm Looking Forward To

A good ending but not as great as what the lead up to it made us anticipate. Thanos is in a state we have never seen before. He’s vulnerable and the heroes of the universe are taking advantage. Why shouldn’t they?

Ending: 6/10 My real question is what are we going to get with the team that was assembled that was nonexistent in issue #3? Does their thinking now change since Thanos has been somewhat defeated and is now in Shi’ar custody? It was somewhat of a head scratcher issue in the sense that it diverted from the story we had been given in issues #1 and #2. Yet the substance within issue #3 was still good even though it was almost a new story. It will be interesting to see how the two story lines intersect.

7.5


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