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Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Review: The Natural Evolution of Retro Evolved 2

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Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions had a lot to live up to. The last game in the series, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, dethroned Smash TV as the standard bearer of the twin-stick shooter genre. And the first game in the franchise, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, was considered by many to be the Xbox 360’s killer app for the first year. But Lucid Games proved to be more than up to the task with an excellent new entry in the series. After the closure of Bizarre Creations (the creator of Retro Evolved and Retro Evolved 2), Lucid became the new home for multiple members of the Geometry Wars development team. So we probably shouldn’t have been worried at all.

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 (Version Played), Xbox One
Publisher: Sierra Games
Developer: Lucid Games
Genre: Technicolor Twin-Stick Shooter… IN 3D!
Release Date: November 25, 2014
ESRB Rating: Everyone

geometrywars3-boxGeometry Wars 3: Dimensions looks a bit different, but it will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played the previous two games in the series. Instead of a flat grid, the majority of the game boards in Dimensions are built around three-dimensional objects like spheres, cubes, and cylinders. This means that your ship can now completely circumvent the playing field instead of being restrained by a series of guard rails (though there are a number of flat levels as well). This change opens up the playing field and feels less like a radical departure for the franchise and more like a natural evolution. At first, it’s a little disorienting to go right up to the edge of the game board and then magically circle around to the other side, but I got into the Geometry Wars groove soon enough.

The second major change to Dimensions is the addition of an Adventure Mode that features 50 levels with their own unique win conditions (as well as a few boss battles). Most of these levels are based on familiar gameplay modes from Retro Evolved 2, including Deadline (score as many points as possible within the time limit), Evolved (score as many points as possible with only one life), King (shooting is only allowed in special safe zones), and Pacifism (shooting is disabled and enemies must be killed with exploding gates). Several new battle modes round out the Adventure Mode, including Claustrophobia (walls close in on the grid until you’re crushed), Sniper (bullets are limited), Titan (bigger enemies must be broken down into smaller enemies to proceed), Rainbow (rollers repaint the grid and you must stop them), and Checkpoint (enemies appear in waves that must be dispatched to extend the time limit), riff on the same ideas while being unique in their own way.

Finally, Lucid adds a third wrinkle to Dimensions with the inclusion of Drones, Supers, and Super States. Each of these powerups adds an augmentation to your ship and changes the game in a big way. A Drone companion may collect distant Geoms or add a second gun to your ship, while a Super is a single-use item that builds on the screen-clearing Smart Bomb with a unique attack, like a spinning turret or a series of homing missiles. Super States are temporary powerups that add a little more pop to your guns (and which I had initially forgotten were part of Retro Evolved as well). Like with the game’s 3D grids, I was initially uncomfortable with all these additions to the simplicity the Geometry Wars series is known for. But as I added hour after hour to my game clock, I had a hard time letting them go when I dipped back into Classic Mode, which resurrects most of Retro Evolved 2’s gameplay modes without all the extras Lucid added to Dimensions.

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As something of a connoisseur of twin-stick shooters, I’ve always loved it when developers kept things simple. But the new pieces added to Dimensions feel like more than just tick marks on a feature list. As I said before, they are a natural evolution for the franchise. Now I can’t imagine playing without Drones or Supers. I heartily enjoyed the boss battles in all their controller-flinging glory. And the three-dimensional look, instead of being the distraction I worried it would be, seems like the perfect extension of the new direction that Dimensions has taken the series.

Rather than cluttering up the simplistic joy of Retro Evolved 2, Lucid’s additions have opened up new ways to have fun with a Geometry Wars game. These changes only enhance the heavily stylized technicolor chaos the franchise is known for. And I know that in the weeks and months to come I’ll be trying different combinations of Drones and Supers to earn every three-star rating in the game and battle my way up the Leaderboards.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is more than worthy of carrying the Geometry Wars name, and it stands as one of 2014’s best. Fans of the franchise (and twin-stick shooters in general) will ignore it at their own peril. If you haven’t already, I recommend downloading it on your platform of choice right now. This goes double for PlayStation owners, who have never had a chance to experience a Geometry Wars game until now.

What are you waiting for? Go!

Review Disclosure: A review copy of Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions was provided by Sierra Games for the purposes of this review.

Posted in PC, PS3, PS4, Reviews, Top Story, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged

Insert Quarter: Broken Games Are Still Broken

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Yes, we’re still talking about games that were shipped to stores broken and still haven’t been fixed after nearly half-a-dozen patches apiece. In light of all the problems that Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Halo: The Master Chief Collection has caused for Ubisoft and Microsoft, respectively, Joystiq’s Richard Mitchell looked at what companies are trying to do to prevent this from happening in the future. And the answer seems to be… “not much.”

Sony will gladly take your $60 to pre-purchase Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End through the PlayStation Store, and that’s because they’ve added a disclaimer stating they don’t have to refund your money if it gets canceled. But on the other hand, CD Projekt delayed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt when it became obvious that they wouldn’t be able to ship the game in February as originally planned. Even though the average gamer now expects the games they purchase to be patched many times over:

What’s really alarming, however, is that this process is standard practice now. Not only do we expect games to have problems at launch, but we tolerate it. We shrug our shoulders, saying “that’s just the way it is,” while developers and publishers take advantage of one of the most passionate audiences in existence.

That’s unacceptable.

The full article is available for your perusal at Joystiq.

Posted in Insert Quarter, PC, PS4, Xbox One | Tagged , , ,

Telltale teams up with Mojang for Minecraft: Story Mode

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After teasing some kind of “super secret surprise announcement” yesterday, Telltale Games has announced that they’re teaming up with Mojang to produce an episodic game series based on Minecraft. They were right, that is surprising!

The first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode will premiere sometime in 2015 and “introduce new characters” to the world of Minecraft whole exploring “familiar themes.” To that end, Telltale has also confirmed that they plan to enlist prominent members of the Minecraft community to help them craft the game’s story.

“People really like the idea of stories about Minecraft, but forcing a narrative into our core game experience would restrict players’ freedom to view the world in their own unique ways. Instead, letting them explore an alternate interpretation via Minecraft: Story Mode, driven by the proven might of Telltale, seems like a no-brainer,” said Owen Hill, the Chief Word Officer at Mojang. “We’re big fans of Telltale Games at Mojang, and we can’t wait to reveal more details on Story Mode soon.”

Minecraft: Story Mode is currently in development for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC platforms (Windows and Mac), and mobile platforms (iOS and Android).

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Telltale Games teases a “super secret surprise announcement”

telltale-logoTelltale Games has had a very busy year. They completed development on The Walking Dead Season 2 and The Wolf Among Us over the Spring and Summer before moving on to the launch of Tales From the Borderlands and Game of Thrones this Fall. And both of those episodic titles will be completed in 2015 before the developer rolls right into The Walking Dead Season 3. But they’re not done yet.

According to the Job Stauffer, their Director of Public Relations, the company has plans to make a “super secret surprise announcement” as early as today:

Not only that, but Stauffer later said that the announcement isn’t “directly related” with anything they’ve released this year:

So what does Telltale have up their sleeve? Hopefully we’ll find out soon…

Posted in Mobile, News, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged

Turtle Rock unveils Evolve’s third Monster, Wraith, and beta test details

If the Monster you’re unveiling is an invisible she-beast that can kill you without being seen, can it really be called an unveiling? That’s the question we’ll have to grapple with as Turtle Rock Studios has released a trailer showcasing Evolve‘s third monster design, Wraith. Writing on the game’s official website, Turtle Rock laid out the four attacks that make Wraith more of a deadly assassin than an out-and-out brawler:

  • Warp Blast allows Wraith to travel almost instantly to a target and create an explosion wherever she lands, dealing damage to everything around her.
  • Her Decoy ability spawns a dangerous clone of herself that attacks targets while distracting the Hunters. With the Decoy deployed, Wraith becomes invisible and the Decoy can be used strategically to escape from combat or allow the player to re-position themselves for surprise attacks.
  • Abduction steals hunters away from their teammates. During an abduction attack, Wraith travels large distances, grabs the target, and returns to her original location all within the blink of an eye.
  • Supernova creates a large arena for Wraith to fight in. Inside the Supernova, Wraith becomes a frenzied melee beast of pure energy as her scythe-like blades cut down just about anything in their path. If Wraith leaves the Supernova area, she returns to her normal state.

For an even more in-depth look at Wraith, Turtle Rock has released an extended Interactive Trailer featuring a full battle between four Hunters and a Wraith. You can find it after the break.

In other Evolve news, the developer has announced that Xbox One owners will be able to take part in an open beta test on January 15. PC players will be able to jump into the test on January 16 with PS4 players following a day later on the 17th. However, neither of these platforms will have an open test. On the PS4, participants will be limited to those that played Evolve’s “Big Alpha.” “Big Alpha” players will also get in on the beta on the PC and they’ll be joined by owners of Left 4 Dead or BioShock Infinite, who will also receive invites. More details about each platform’s beta test can be found at Evolve’s official website.

Evolve will be released for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on February 10. (more…)

Posted in News, PC, PS4, Xbox One | Tagged

Shovel Knight will be available on PlayStation platforms “early next year”

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In a new update to their Kickstarter backers, Yacht Club Games has revealed that Shovel Knight will be released for the PS3, PS4, and Vita in early 2015:

Maybe you haven’t heard the exciting news, but Shovel Knight is branching out on to other platforms for adventure. Early next year, Shovel Knight will make his debut on Playstation platforms: PS3, PS4, and PSVita! Along with this extremely exciting development in the legend of Shovel Knight, a guest character that you are all familiar with will be meeting our stalwart, blue knight: Kratos from the God of War series!

Yes, that’s right. Steel will strike against steel as Shovel Knight’s Shovel Blade challenges Kratos’ Blades of Chaos in a battle for the ages. The team is also hard at work on the Plague Knight campaign, which will be available to all owners of the game as a free downloadable update:

The pedal is to the proverbial metal on Plague Knight! We are working full time on update content (Plague Knight, Body Swap Mode, and Battle Mode!), and it’s shaping up to be amazing. The Plague Knight campaign will be the first content released, and it’s feeling like a whole new adventure already! A new relic system! New characters and bosses! Remixed content! On that subject, we’re going to share a little detail. Mona, who runs the potion minigame in the village, will have a vastly expanded role…

There’s no ETA on when the Plague Knight campaign will be released, but you can head over to Kickstarter for a peek at a few design sketches featuring Mona.

Posted in 3DS, News, PC, PS3, PS4, Vita, Wii U | Tagged



Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance will be released for the PS4 in Fall 2015

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NIS America has been busy with a lot of announcements! The most recent one, and definitely my favorite, is that Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance will be coming to the PlayStation 4 in Fall 2015 in North America and Europe. Here’s what players can expect, according to the PlayStation Blog:

As a new and terrible Overlord named Void Dark seeks to enslave the countless Netherworlds, one young demon has stood to end his reign — Killia. In Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance, you will lead Killia and his tenacious army of rebels in their struggle against Dark Void. Along their dark path to vengeance, you will encounter more hilarious writing, over-the-top animations, and absurd damage numbers than anyone has seen in a Disgaea game. Ever.

It’s a tale of revenge and rebellion that is sure to be chock-full of that trademark Disgaea hilarity. There are some new features, including Alliance Attacks, which depend on relationships between characters; and Revenge Mode, which boosts your character stats based on – you guessed it – revenge. There’s also the ability to explore the Netherworlds in more detail.

Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance will be out in North America and Europe in the Fall of 2015 for the PlayStation 4.

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Dontnod’s Life Is Strange Episode 1 will be available on January 30

Dontnod’s upcoming episodic game series, Life Is Strange, could easily be described as Gone Home meets Heavy Rain. Hey, look at that, that’s just what a variety of critics say in the trailer above. But in Life Is Strange, you can rewind time and change the past, which can have disastrous consequences.

The first episode of Life Is Strange will be released on January 30 on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Like most episodic titles, there will be five episodes in all.

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