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The Resurgence of Rock Band: What to Look Forward to with Rock Band 4

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Several years ago, if you were to ask video game fans what their favorite party-style video game was, the majority would have said Rock Band. It seemed unstoppable in both the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, as developers emerged with sequel after sequel.

However, almost as suddenly as it emerged, it ceased. The founding company, Harmonix, moved on to bigger and better games and the legend of Rock Band quickly petered off.

This was five years ago, shortly following the release of Rock Band 3. Now, to the delight of Rock Band enthusiasts around the world, Harmonix recently announced the release of Rock Band 4 coming this year. Here are a few things you have to look forward to with the new and improved game.

New and Improved Interface

Fans of the music game will remember that each of the new Rock Band games included a lot of fancy features that made the game look cool, but the basic interface was a little too simple for users. Once they reached a certain point and played all the songs, there wasn’t much point in continuing the game. It was simply a stock game that lacked the potential to go further.

The new game comes with new challenges that offer more of an arcade adventure. The Rock Band 4 experience comes in three parts to meet the wishes of most of their participants.

To begin with, there’s the simple desire to get the highest score possible and play all of the notes precisely. It also has the party feature that allows players to compete in large groups. The final part is new to the Rock Band experience with a story mode that leads you on your career as a virtual rock star. The makers of the game hope that the combination of these three features will lead to a better overall playing experience.

Songs Across Platforms

The makers of the game are working extremely hard to allow the users to move their downloaded songs across platforms. Though they have approval for compatibility between different gaming consoles, the problem they’re dealing with is licensing with the original song owners. However, the makers are optimistic about the progress they’ve made so far.

All New Instruments

Though developers are doing everything they can to allow the compatibility of the old instruments, they are also working to create new and improved instruments.

The new instruments will not only be receiving a slight face-lift, but they will also be significantly improved in the hardware. They’re looking to improve not only the tilt function, but also the latency of the instruments. There will be minimal add-ons to the design, but the new instruments are slated to function more smoothly than the original versions.

Though updates will continually be administered to the game, there are no prospects for more Rock Band games in the future. That will depend on the success of this new game.

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Entertainment

Will Super Smash Bros. 4 Overtake Melee in the Competitive Gaming Scene?

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Arguments over which games and installations of game brands are the best for competition are bound to pop up amongst any group of avid gamers. It’s because of this aspect of the gaming community that the Nintendo brand’s game development skills has, as one can imagine, been the source of some of the fiercest arguments. The most recent debate among serious gamers has been over which of the Nintendo brand Brawl style games is better: Melee or Super Smash Bros 4.

When it comes to community and support, both of these games have a tremendous amount. With each game receiving equal and incredibly high rankings of 92/100 on Metacritic, it’s no surprise that they’re the two games being hotly debated. The multi-player combat is similar in each game, as is the general bracket-style layout of the competitive gaming tournaments for either teams or individuals. With so many similarities, the debates, some believe, come down to splitting hairs or simple matters of opinion. However, there are several key differences between the two.

One of the most profound differences between Super Smash Bros 4 (or SSB4, as it’s commonly abbreviated) and Melee are the characters available as fighters. While Melee sported 26 playable characters, SSB4 boasts 49, giving players many more playstyles to master and counter other characters.

Another commonly cited difference is the presence of advanced techniques or tactics. Melee’s engine is much different than SSB4’s, as are the game physics, which allow for some advantageous maneuvers for skilled players with many hours of practice. SSB4, meanwhile, offers an environment that’s easy to learn, but difficult to master.

Perhaps the most important difference between the games is the presence of online competitive support in SSB4, as well as its availability on the Nintendo 3DS, both of which Melee lacks. These features could create a much wider adoption and awareness of SSB4 as compared to Melee, ultimately leading to a larger community and, as such, a larger competitive base.

While the debate rages on, and points to both sides are counter argued, validated, supported, and challenged, many feel that SSB4 might come out on top. Even Forbes has pointed to its nearly unprecedented 9.4/10 launch day ratings as proof that it’s the superior game. Despite the arguments for and against either game, one thing remains true: the Nintendo brand has produced some of the greatest games of all time, including those sought after by competitive gamers with its Smash Bros series. The debate between which game – Super Smash Brothers 4 or Melee – will reign supreme in the serious gaming world stands as proof.

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Entertainment

Will Halo 5 Be The Best Halo Yet?

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Halo 5: Guardians is already exciting players and making waves with its recently concluded beta test. With a release date of fall 2015, fans are trying to decide if it will be the best Halo of the series.

New Hero, New Story

Halo 5 follows the story of a new hero, Spartan Locke, who is tasked with finding the famous Master Chief after an alien attack on human colonies. Microsoft originally announced Halo 5 at E3 2013 with a short teaser trailer featuring a glimpse at the new character and a voice over by the Arbiter character played by Keith David. In the teaser, Spartan Locke watches one of Master Chief’s famous exploits from Halo 2 as he destroys a covenant ship immediately evoking our feelings for that classic, superb game. In yet another trailer showcased, we see Master Chief exploring an unknown world as a massive machine explodes from the surrounding desert landscape. Developers have been tight lipped on story details but have stated that the original Reclaimer Trilogy story line will be continued in this new game.

Development

Halo 5 is the 12th game in the Halo series. 343 Industries’ contributions to the franchise, Halo 4 and Halo: Spartan Assault, have been met with mostly positive reviews from fans. For the new game, the developer has designed an entirely new game engine which takes advantage of the Xbox One’s graphical power and dedicated servers.

Multiplayer

While the franchise’s story has captivated fans for over 13 years, the multiplayer experience of the Halo games has always been paramount. Gamers who purchased Halo: The Master Chief Collection earned an exclusive pass to participate in the Halo 5 multiplayer beta which ran until January 18th.

Halo 5 brings back many of the most requested old features from previous games as well as a few new ones. Guns no longer feature down sight aiming and instead all feature the new Smart Scope. Much like Halo 2, taking damage will knock players out of the scope, keeping things from reaching stagnation. Sprinting is infinite, but while running, players no longer recharge their shields. Like many modern shooters, all Spartans are sporting new thruster packs which allow them to hover and boost through the air. This, combined with the new clamber ability, which allows for a certain level of parkour over boxes and objects, makes for a much faster paced and hectic gameplay. In comparison to the clumsiness fans felt throughout Halo 4, these changes are most welcome.

Old maps like Midship and weapon favorites like SMG, pistol, rocket launcher and energy sword have all made appearances though with noticeable tweaks. Everything looks extremely polished for the upcoming release, though many players found the new controls to be clunky and unresponsive.

With beta closed, 343 Industries has given themselves plenty of time to iron out these minor kinks. While it is unknown whether Halo 5 will live up to its predecessors, everything points toward this being the best Halo game yet.

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Entertainment

Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of E3 2015

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After a 2014 that was middling or deeply upsetting for many gamers, it isn’t a surprise that most are hoping for a strong 2015 and 2016 to ease the sting of disappointment. The first several months of 2015 offer a number of promising games, but it won’t be until E3 in June that we’ll get an idea of how many blockbuster titles are shaping up. While the lineup for E3 hasn’t been solidified, it’s simple to boil down the anticipated list for the event into a few releases.

The Legend of Zelda Wii U

Nintendo spent 2014 working hard with a string of heavy hitters to turn around the fortune of the struggling Wii U. While the jury is out on the legacy of the console, they presented a strong case with “Mario Kart 8” and “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U” to make an investment. 2015 promises a multitude of potentially strong titles, but the biggest is the currently unnamed “The Legend of Zelda.” Producer Eiji Aunoma is looking to the open, exploratory nature of early “Zelda” titles for inspiration, but will that make for an adventurous romp or a huge, empty world padding travel between quests?

Kingdom Hearts 3

The long-awaited proper “big screen” sequel to the PS2’s Kingdom Hearts 2, released way back in 2005 between strings of handheld games, this entry has spent a long time in development limbo. While the public has only caught glimpses of protagonist Sora and his adventures with Disney characters, the now multi-platform series feels like the return of old friends for many, while offering a Disney popularity boost to bring younger players into the fold.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Following the departure of series creative director Amy Hennig from developer Naughty Dog and a slight drop in quality in the series’ third title, the newest “Uncharted” was on shaky ground before a teaser trailer rolled out and got the hype started. Now we can just hope for further evidence at E3 that Nathan Drake’s next (final?) adventure is a game that really fulfills the promise of the newest console generation.

Halo 5: Guardians

While the Halo community is still sore over the difficult implementation of online play in the recent “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” all could be forgiven if “Halo 5” delivers the goods. The tentative fall release date is not long after E3, so we can expect videos of polished gameplay to supplement the positive buzz of the multiplayer beta.

No Man’s Sky

As the only non-sequel on this list, there is a lot riding on “No Man’s Sky” by Hello Games. Concrete information is frustratingly scant on this procedurally generated open space adventure game. The screenshots are gorgeous, and unparalleled exploration is promised, but most of what we have to go by is our imagination. “What do you do in this game?” is possibly the most exciting question to ask about E3 and 2015 in gaming.

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Entertainment

The Order: 1886 Review

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The Order: 1886 takes place in an alternate version of London, blending fantasy and horror elements with history and its myths.

The Graphics

The graphics of The Order: 1886 are strong, showing off what the new generation of consoles can do. The game beautifully showcases London, showing both the city’s slums and the wealth built on top of them. The environment is filled with detail that you will find yourself looking at as you progress through the game. London is shown as dark and the gloomy weather associated with the city is ever present, and it looks beautiful.

The characters also showcase the beautiful graphics that the new generation of consoles can work with. They are textured and realistic, rivaling that of animated movies being released in theaters.

History with a Twist

This is a game that takes place in historical London, and so it is only natural that actual historical people make an appearance. However since this a fantasy London, the historical characters come with their own twists. One historical person you will run into is Nikola Tesla. In the real world he is known for his work with electricity, like creating the first alternating current motor. However in The Order: 1886 he is the man in charge of creating the weapons for The Order. You will also find yourself dealing with the well known East India Trading Company, and come across stories that you will recognize as belonging to the famed serial killer Jack the Ripper. Along with these historical figures and company you have The Order, which in the game is what the Knights of the Round Table would have been if they were in victorian era London.

The Werewolves

The werewolves–also known as lycans–in The Order: 1886 are the most dangerous of the enemies you will face. Their fighting style is hit-and-run, and because of this their attacks are more unpredictable than the humans you also fight. They also look great, with their mixture of wolf and human features that can make them look like the terrifying monsters they are.

The Technology

The Order: 1886 may take place in London in the year 1886, but it is not what the real London was like in 1886, yet it still manages to feel plausible. The Order: 1886 has a large steampunk influence, evidenced by the airships flying above the city and wireless technology that seems right at home despite the fact neither existed in the actual London of 1886. The weapons also have a feel of steampunk technology that would still feel completely normal to be seeing in Victorian era London, like a crossbow, or a gun that uses induction coils for power.

The Order: 1886 is historical fiction game with a fantasy and steampunk twist, and yet still manages to feel like London. It is a game with a beautiful world and a terrifying enemy and that manages to blend its fictional technology with its world seamlessly.

Image courtesy of playstation.com

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Entertainment

Hive Jump: First Impressions

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Can you recall a time when you and your friends dumped quarter-after-quarter into arcade game machines to reach that next level, so engrossed in the action on-screen that time and money became unimportant? If so, Hive Jump, a new side-scrolling shooter from Graphite Lab, will take you on a nostalgic journey back to those golden days of arcade gaming glory. With blazingly-fast sci-fi action and surprisingly deep game design, the team at Graphite Lab has created an experience that is indelibly fun throughout its several hours of game-play.

The premise for the game should be familiar to fans of the sci-fi genre: Set in the 24th century, the human race is at war with an aggressive and blood-hungry horde of inimical aliens and it is up to you and the other members of the J.U.M.P. Corps to save humanity from extinction.

Though its premise is nothing original, the game’s pure emphasis on fun game design and challenging game-play are what make it a joy to play, especially in its cooperative mode along with up to 3 friends.

Dynamic Level Design

After launching the game’s campaign, several different paths can be taken to eradicate the alien horde.

Known as “Jumps”, each level provides a stiff challenge filled with evil aliens to destroy and many secrets to discover, such as upgrades for your team’s arsenal or ancient artifacts that provide special abilities. Jumps are comprised of “procedurally generated” hives of alien armies that develop based on the player(s) actions and performance.

A simple, but brilliantly fun meta-game serves as the skeleton of this system, where each decision the player(s) makes and each Jump that is taken affects the ultimate outcome of the ongoing war between aliens and humans.

A Welcome Challenge

One component of the game’s difficulty comes from an AI system that bestows enemies with the ability to defend strategically and attack tactically to get an edge on you and your friends.

Graphite Lab gives a nod to the brutal challenge of retro arcade games of yore by providing players with a mobile re-spawn point in the form of a backpack, which, if destroyed, causes the player(s) to lose all lives and restart from the beginning of the game’s adventure.

An Homage to Gaming’s Roots

In addition to its fast-paced, fun-focused game-play, Hive Jump’s art design is a romantic tribute to pixelated arcade shooters from two decades ago–an enormous amount of detail has been packed into each environment, and with graphical touches such as dynamic lighting powered by Sprite Lamp, the game’s retro style looks both gorgeous and fresh.

Each environment has been beautifully crafted to convey its own unique feel–Graphite Lab has clearly taken a lot of care to make each part of the world feel like uncharted territory to the player, and with obstacles and enemies spawned based on individual play-style, there is plenty of reason to come back for a second or even third play through.

By smartly blending old-school art, music, and game design with modern graphical touches and game-play elements that leverage the power of the PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii U platforms, Hive Jump offers something unique in the often ubiquitous world of modern video games.

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Entertainment

Resident Evil Revelations 2: Review

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Resident Evil Revelations 2 continues upon the foundation laid by its acclaimed handheld predecessor. The first installment of the episodically released game hit consoles on February 25th and will continue to add a new chapter every week.

The game is split between two pairs of protagonists, one headed by Claire Redfield, returning to the series after a long absence, and Barry Burton’s teenage daughter Moira. The other half is lead by Barry himself and a girl with mysterious powers, Natalia. Revelations 2’s first episode delivers story and gameplay at a perfect pace, leaving plenty of room for development and a lot to be excited about.

Entertainment Value

Resident Evil Revelations 2’s first episode makes for an enjoyable session, alone or with a friend. After trapping players in a claustrophobic prison setting and with undead on the loose, Revelations teases them deeper into the larger, mysterious plot. Gunning down enemies on the way is as satisfying as ever, and horror elements persist throughout the chapter without insisting upon themselves in a way that diminishes the effect. Most of the focus is on the action, from the gratifying gore fest of the simpler modes to the challenges of higher difficulty settings. Environments are suitably bleak, and if the first Revelations is any indicator, soon to expand into a more elaborate horror wonderland.

Players can switch between the two characters in each pair, or run through the campaign with a friend. One character in each pair is always significantly less effective in direct confrontations, but comes with their own set of skills that enhance the experience.

Gameplay

Resident Evil Revelations 2 plays well, with quick controls and satisfying effects. Combat sequences are appropriately tense, and a replayable raid mode gives players something to come back to. The new game handles more intuitively than the first, with the snappy sleekness of a true action title. The campaign manages to sneak in a few jump scares, to keep players on their toes.

Story

The first episode comes with an intriguing build to a decent cliffhanger, and promises to bring some surprises to long time fans of the larger series as well. Characters are well put together, and their dialogue lacks the slightly ham-fisted technique found in recent installments of the core series. The overall presentation of Revelations 2 contributes to the establishment of Revelations as a unique brand. Overall, Revelations 2 is compelling and ought to keep players excited for every weekly installment.

Verdict

Resident Evil Revelations 2 does a lot of good with only a few drawbacks. Its well-told story and fantastic co-op modes overshadow any minor design flaws it has. The backbone of the game is how it plays, and Revelations 2’s action sequences are on point. It gains extra points for the Raid mode that gives the low price of entry lasting value. Time will tell if Revelations 2 lives up to the reputation of its predecessor, but its debut episode makes a firm argument that it may even surpass it.

Image courtesy of gameswiki.net

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Entertainment

Dying Light: Review

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Dying Light is an open world game filled with zombies of many kinds, from the easier to handle Biters to the terrifying Virals that are agile and will try to dodge your attacks. In order to take down the vast number of zombies that the game throws at you, you may have to get creative. The game allows you to create your own weapons from various things that can be found throughout the city of Harran, leading to a vast amount of ways to take down zombies with a vast amount of weapons.

The World

One of the strongest aspects of Dying Light would be the open world city you are placed in, called Harran. Harran is large and full of buildings to climb, perfect for the parkour you will be using to get around. Since it is an open world game, you are free to roam around, finding loot that can be used to create new weapons, and discovering side quests that can be received from the survivors that populate the city. The great thing about these side quests is that they can become their own adventures, developing their own small storyline that could see a typical rescue mission turn into a trap. Source

Day and Night

There are two modes to Dying Light, the day and the night. While the day is filled with zombies that you will enjoy slicing through, the night offers a very different experience. When night falls it unleashes more terrifying zombies, like the Volatiles, a type of enemy that is hard to take down and will cause massive damage if it catches you. It is because of enemies like Volatiles that night focuses on stealth rather than fighting, and if stealth fails you could find yourself sprinting to the nearest safe zone. However while it may be tempting to stay in a safe zone during the night to avoid the more dangerous enemies, the night does give you an incentive to head out and brave the terror: the amount of XP you earn is doubled. This can allow for quicker leveling up and gives you a reason to go out during the night.

Guns

An interesting thing about Dying Light is that even though it does include guns later, it does not make them the weapon that could change the game. The guns have a slow rate of fire and the noise they make attracts more zombies, making them more a weapon to used only when you have to instead of the first choice.

Co-op

While some people may prefer to play alone, many people like to play games with their friends. Dying Light offers a co-op mode to allow for this and allows for up to three friends to join you in your game.

Dying Light is vast open world game with a long campaign and plenty of side quests and discovering of new weapons to keep you busy for time to come.

Cover image courtesy of ytimg.com

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Entertainment

Just Shapes and Beats: First Impressions

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This quirky game is, as its name suggests, based on the perfect marriage of two simple things: Shapes and beats. Just Shapes and Beats is challenging enough that you’ll get used to dying, but you won’t mind because you’ll be grooving to the beats the whole way through. It’s an inspiring, unique indie game that builds a new level on Twitch each week, and accepts submissions from independent music artists to have their songs featured in the game.

About the Game

As a challenging shooter game, your reflexes will be pushed to their limits. If you want to know how awesome this game truly is, check out the video Just Shapes and Beats: Boss Battle Gameplay — PAX South 2015.

What Makes This Game Stand Out?

Just Shapes and Beats features fun, colorful, trippy graphics. The lively music keeps you on your toes as you progress throughout each level.

When you play Just Shapes and Beats, never assume the battle is over until it is over. The bosses have been known to come back to live and waste entire teams of players because they were not prepared.

Great Party Game

Just Shapes and Beats makes an amazing party game. It’s not the type of game that you want to play alone because you will die—a lot. The game can be played by up to four players, which is the best way to play, as it makes for a much more fun, interactive, engaging experience. You can revive fallen comrades by moving your shape over theirs, offering an element of partner and team-based strategy to successfully navigate through each level.

What’s the Object of the Game?

The supreme goal in Just Shapes and Beats is essentially to dodge obstacles while jamming to some fun, catchy tunes and beats. The developers have creatively synchronized the obstacles with the music, merging the “shapes and beats” experience beyond just the surface; the music becomes a core gameplay element.

Before each level, credits are displayed to show the song’s artist and title.

Conclusion

Just Shapes and Beats is like Raiden Fighter mixed with Geometry Wars, but with totally amazing music and better co-op play. The game features colorful, flashy and bright graphics that makes it great for a game party. It’s amazingly fun, and highly recommended.

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Entertainment

No Time to Explain: First Impressions

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Let’s take some time to explain No Time to Explain. Sometimes, a man’s only friend is his laser cannon jet-pack; in these instances, his only adversary his himself from the future.

Indie Credibility

This title shows the staying power of indie games and their developers. The entire project is tinyBuildGame’s first release, and the effort only involved two designers. It is pretty amazing that this whole adventure was constructed solely by Tom Brien and Alex Nichiporchick.

When it was originally released on Newgrounds in 2011, it became an icon of modern 2D platform gaming. The humorously explosive action combines with rapid paced strategizing to deliver a marvelously one-of-a-kind experience. The full version was recently uploaded to Steam for a generous price of $4.99.

Crazy Physics

The weapon’s versatility is worthy of awe and admiration. Unlocking modifications is a serious delight. Countless expansions culminate in a seductive shotgun! While developers are amping up all of the bells and whistles for a major console release, one can only hope that they will include an explanation this time. So far, every time players catch up with the future version of themselves, a catastrophic diversion occurs before the truth is divulged.

Most of the physics in this game rely on manipulating gravity with varying mechanisms of propulsion. This game brings new technology to old school charm. The retro wonder is often nail-bitingly difficult, but other moments are simply laugh-out-loud hilarious. There are a lot of paradoxes and alternate time lines. It is a fascinatingly complex journey through an endless loop.

As the name implies, this game’s action is intensely fast-paced. Players hop around at maximum pace, but dangers are always lurking. The boss fights are brutally insane.

Major Popularity

This title clearly has enduring popularity. It has expanded a great deal from the original Flash post. A Kickstarterpage was started to promote a major console release. The creators received $26,000 for the project, which vastly exceeded their original goal of $7,000. The maker of Minecraft even personally contributed $2,000! Overall, the work was 372% funded with a total of 2,052 backers.

The exact release date of a console version has not been confirmed, but the world eagerly awaits this revolutionary gaming event. A lot of trippy calamity has already ensued, so the climactic conclusion is really going to be something special.

Final Assessment

This is one of the fanciest platform games ever made. The animation is maniacally rapid, and the frame rate is seamlessly smooth every second. It takes a lot of patience to master the art of shooting that gravity gun in exact ways.

The controls are a lot of fun, and handling can be figured out within minutes. Still, it will take hours to fine-tune those flying skills. Supreme simplicity truly makes this game a romp that everyone can enjoy!

These hijinks could go on for all eternity. No Time to Explain is definitely worthy of a sequel or two. Gamers around the world are hoping that the time traveling go on forever!

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