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  • Outer Wilds: Echoes Of The Eye Review - Once More Into The Breach
    by Alessandro Barbosa on October 15, 2021 at 5:50 pm

    Outer Wilds was an expansive, planet-trotting puzzle adventure, but its first and only expansion, Echoes of the Eye, is a more condensed and focused encapsulation of all the elements that made it great. Instead of taking place throughout a solar system, Echoes of the Eye hones in on a singular location, which itself is broken up into distinct areas of interest that keep the intrigue and sense of discovery alive and well. But it's also not without some new stumbles that introduce infrequent but inescapable frustration to the game's core time loop.Echoes of the Eye doesn't require any prior knowledge of the format of Outer Wilds to start or complete, but it's certainly tuned for players who have accustomed themselves to the type of thinking its puzzles require. Even starting the expansion is a delightful puzzle, giving you a thin breadcrumb trail to follow that exposes a secret so deviously hidden that it's easy to believe it was always there to begin with. This expansion is meant to sit parallel to the challenges of the main game, which means you won't have to be familiar with its mechanics regarding quantum physics or superposition. At the same time, not having played the original adventure will make Echoes of the Eye more challenging, given how it depends on a way of thinking that is only gained through cutting your teeth on the puzzles of the main game.Gallery The expansion takes place on The Stranger-- mysterious ship that has supposedly always been orbiting the solar system in plain sight. It's a craft from another universe entirely, drawn to your home by the same intrigue surrounding the Eye of the Universe, which drives all the stories throughout Outer Wilds. The Stranger is its own small ecosystem that wraps around itself and subscribes to the same time-based changes that all the other planets in Outer Wilds follow. As soon as you start, you're on the same 22-minute timer as before, with crucial changes within The Stranger requiring you to become familiar with how they affect the entire area over time.Continue Reading at GameSpot […]

  • Back 4 Blood Review - Reanimated
    by Richard Wakeling on October 14, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    Let's not beat around the bush: Back 4 Blood is Left 4 Dead 3 in all but name, and even then it isn't exactly trying to be subtle. Obviously, developer Turtle Rock Studios doesn't need to be considering it consists of many of the same developers who created Left 4 Dead. It's also not surprising to see the studio return to the cooperative zombie slaying that initially put it on the map. The similarities between the original game and this spiritual successor are endless, even after a 12-year gap, yet it's their overt differences that prove to be the most interesting part of Back 4 Blood. It still maintains all of the familiar hallmarks of Left 4 Dead, only now these foundations are interspersed with contemporary ideas befitting of the modern era, resulting in a game that captures what you might expect from a reanimated Left 4 Dead in the year 2021.Back 4 Blood's chaotic template might be the most overt similarity between the two games, as you and up to three friends are tasked with surviving the ravenous zombie hordes as you desperately fight from one safe room to the next. The campaign is split into four acts, with each one containing a variable number of chapters. The first act is the longest, for instance, coming in at 13 chapters, while the final act consists of a single boss fight. Finishing the entire campaign on the game's regular (and easiest) difficulty will probably take you around six to seven hours, but Back 4 Blood offers plenty of replayability when you factor in the other two punishing difficulty levels and the game's inherent variety. The AI Game Director, which makes on-the-fly decisions on where and what enemies spawn, returns from Left 4 Dead and ensures that each chapter is noticeably different on repeat visits, as hazard placement, weapon availability, and zombie frequency differ with every playthrough.You're also faced with the same kinds of objectives throughout the campaign, whether that means simply making it to the next safe room alive, alerting the horde in order to remove an obstacle and progress forward, or defending a location until you're able to escape. It's familiar territory if you've ever played Left 4 Dead, and this works in Back 4 Blood's favor when it begins to veer from that exact formula. During one chapter you find the safe room almost immediately, but instead of escaping, you have to locate and rescue a group of other survivors first. There are more interesting examples, too, including a chapter that sees you stumble upon a decimated police station where the only way out is locked by a hand scanner. Not only do you have to find a dead guy's severed arm to unlock it, but whoever picks it up is forced to wield the limb as a morbid weapon while you mash your way back to the door.Continue Reading at GameSpot […]

  • Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review - Better Than Bad, It's Good!
    by Heidi Kemps on October 14, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    There aren't all that many games in the sub-genre of "platform fighters," but there's a good reason for that--the genre is absolutely dominated by the 1000-pound gorilla that is Super Smash Bros. Yes, there are other games that look to put their own spin on Smash's formula, but they don't have anywhere near the same kind of reach or appeal as Nintendo's beloved brawler. Enter Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, a game with a roster of nostalgic characters that is very clearly modeling itself on Smash, from the controls to the stage and game formats all the way down to how the interface is designed--but with several elements catering to Smash's competitive sub-community.The premise is simple: A bunch of your favorite Nickelodeon characters (from the early '90s Nicktoons era to the present day) are all, for reasons unclear, trying to blast each other off of various themed levels. This is accomplished the same way as you do in Smash Bros.: smack around an enemy a bunch to get their damage percentage higher and increase their launchability before whacking them with a power move to blow them out-of-bounds. The gameplay will be instantly familiar to Smash players, but newcomers to platform fighters shouldn't have much of a problem picking up SpongeBob, Reptar, and Korra and doing some cool moves. Every fighter has an array of normal and special attacks on the ground and in the air (including an aerial recovery attack to attempt to save your bacon when launched), along with a throw and shield.That isn't to say it's exactly like Smash, as there are some key changes to set All-Star Brawl apart. One example is in the controls. You have three attack buttons: normal, strong attack, and special attack, along with a dedicated jump button (and no "press up to jump" option). Smash's "Tilt" moves, where you move the analog stick slightly in one direction and press the normal attack button, are instead remapped to D-pad or analog stick plus normal attack button in All-Star Brawl. This is a very clever way to implement these attacks while reducing the odds of a wrong input, and as someone who frequently overshoots the tilt threshold in Smash, I greatly appreciated it. Also welcome is a dedicated "strafe" button to keep a character facing a specific direction while moving around the arenas. Advanced mechanics familiar to Smash faithful, like wavedashing, perfect guarding, and attack priority, have been deliberately emphasized and expanded upon.Continue Reading at GameSpot […]

  • Metroid Dread Review: Space Truckin'
    by Steven Petite on October 6, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    In the nearly two decades since the release of the last original side-scrolling entry in the Metroid franchise, the genre that the series pioneered has evolved exponentially. The metroidvania genre moniker alone is proof that Metroid's DNA has lived on throughout the lengthy hiatus. As Samus returns in Metroid Dread, it's undeniable that the series is entering a landscape that is littered with games that are indebted to it and in some cases improved on it. Nevertheless, Metroid Dread is a triumphant return for the bounty hunter—in large part because it remains true to its lineage. Like seeing an old friend for the first time in many years, Metroid Dread is charmingly familiar, an old-school side-scroller with a modern look and feel.Metroid Dread, unsurprisingly, plays similarly to its developer's remake of Metroid II for Nintendo 3DS. Mercury Steam brought over the excellent counterattack mechanic from Metroid: Samus Returns to Dread as well as the manual sighted aiming system that gives you pinpoint control over beam shots and missiles. While Dread is pleasantly familiar mechanically, Samus has never felt this good to control. With a pep in her step and tight controls, Metroid Dread is silky smooth in motion and an absolute joy to play from a combat and platforming perspective.Utilizing the same 2.5D art style from Samus Returns, Metroid Dread offers crisper, more detailed visuals that help make each of the locales and their enemies stand out. Rocky tunnels, molten caverns, industrial compounds, underwater depths--Metroid Dread is filled with the distinct level designs that have marked the series' storied history. Improved animations, especially from Samus herself and bosses, enhance the overall presentation while still adhering to the signature art direction and style the series is known for. It probably doesn't take full advantage of the Switch's processing power, but as a side-scrolling Metroid game it falls right in line with the series as a whole.Continue Reading at GameSpot […]

  • Far Cry 6 Review - Less Than Revolutionary
    by Phil Hornshaw on October 6, 2021 at 11:00 am

    I have a missile launcher on my back, a flamethrower in my hand, a host of poison grenades and throwing knives, and a killer crocodile that attacks on demand. But as I gaze out on the Yaran military base ahead of me, I know I'm not going to use any of those things. I'm going to pull out the suppressed rifle I got on the second mission of the game, complete with the first set of mods I made in the game's tutorial, and headshot each of the soldiers in turn until Far Cry 6 tells me I've successfully captured the base. I know this because I've done it so many times already in countless bases just like this and it works exceedingly well. Best of all, I can do it without thinking about all the other junk I'm lugging around--or worrying about that stupid crocodile catching someone's attention and blowing my cover.Far Cry games have long been gigantic open-world affairs, providing players with all sorts of things to do, from driving different vehicles to flying around with wingsuits to hunting animals to experiencing side missions. As revolutionary guerrilla Dani Rojas, all those options are available to you again in Far Cry 6--and more. In fact, the game is cluttered with systems, from base-building to weapon-modding to sending guerrilla teams on missions.Far Cry 6 is overwhelmingly full of stuff. While a lot of its ideas seem interesting on paper, in practice, they're easily ignored. There's a whole lot to do, plan for, and keep in mind at any given time, and a large portion of it can feel superfluous and overbearing at best, repetitive and dull at worst.Continue Reading at GameSpot […]