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Priced at $49.99, The Talos: Principle: Deluxe Edition is the PS4 version of last year's first person puzzler of the same name. It contains both the original game and its recently released expansion Road to Gehenna.
The video series details several aspects of the game and its expansion, including narrative, philosophy, puzzles, and tools. Check them out below.
The Talos Principle was initially released on the PC last year. Its expansion Road to Gehenna was released this past July. You can read our in-depth reviews of each here.
The Deluxe Edition is set to release for PS4 on October 13.
GameSpot: After the issues with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, what are you doing to ensure Halo 5 has a smooth roll-out?
Franklin: Our biggest thing is that Halo 5 is built from the ground up for Xbox One. All the technology is really lined up. There's only one network layer, we're not trying to build three to four different games in one. That's given us a huge advantage. We did our beta almost a year ago now, that gave us a whole bunch of time to stress test our servers and make sure everything was running, and work through some problems. Lastly, we have a lot of base skill testing we're doing with thousands of players almost every weekend before launch.
What did you learn from the Halo 5 beta last year with the subsequent feedback and how has that changed the Arena's multiplayer as a result?
It was kind of crazy to have a beta that early. Normally you have them, and you don't have time to change anything. This time we had tons to change. We changed ground pound, the whole way that entire feature worked. We changed a lot of the little tuners around escapability. Things like thrust, thrust recharge, the way sprint worked. We also changed the map. Several of the maps have completely different sight lines and paths changed directly in result to the beta feedback.
On top of that, we've also taken feedback from a lot of the pros. Like hey, do you have confidence in shoulder charging, do you have confidence in ground pound, do you think we should be keeping these things even if we fix them, are you cool with thrust always on? A lot of the pros are giving us great feedback that we've carried through.
Is that something you're doing so that Halo becomes more of an esport again?
It's definitely a goal for us. We want it to be like Halo 2, Halo 3, really show off the legacy of Halo within Arena. We really had to start that from the ground up. We want to say hey, we want to be an esport. We have built our own esport league--we're really inspired by the way Riot Games, Valve, and Blizzard built their own leagues in-house, so we have our Halo Championship Series we built in-house that is awesome. That really gives us a great platform to show off our new competitive experience.
We also have a pro team, a group of four competitive gamers that work on the game all day long and give us insane amounts of feedback. No matter what we change, what we do, they're on us. Keeps us really engaged with that pro side of the community.
We built a spectator mode into Halo 5 for the first time, which we're very excited about. The Halo Championship Series also has a great relationship with the pros and we're showing off tons of tournaments. We did a tournament already at Gamescom, before launch, which was crazy.
You're taking a unique approach to DLC by offering all maps free for the first year--why are you doing this and do you think it will become the norm in the industry?
I certainly hope it becomes the norm!
There's two reasons we're doing this. One, we decided from the get-go that we wanted to make a very big investment in our players. We didn't just want to release a game and hope it worked. We wanted to say okay, this is an investment in our players. So we're revealing two completely different multiplayer experiences. We're going at it big, we're giving them dedicated servers, so it really felt natural, when it came to the DLC question, to put all of our players in one place. With Halo 4, you could have the season pass, DLC 1, DLC 2, DLC 3, and all of a sudden you have six different buckets and players have to make decisions about whether they play new content or with their friends.
We just couldn't solve that in game design. The solution was to put everyone in the same playlist. The benefit of this is it's going to give us better match-making, because there's less buckets people have to filter through, everybody has access to the same content, it's going to give us a lot more focus on when we want to start adding things. So that was the biggest deal for us when we were making that decision.
I've been following the 'Hunt the Truth' campaign that is creating a lot of mystery surrounding the game. We still don't know a lot about the story, but what are the core themes of Halo 5?
The biggest theme is epic. That was written all over our whiteboards before we even started the game. You're going to see some very, very big things in the campaign that you've never seen before. The second one is the rivalry between Chief and Locke. I think there's a lot of mystery to explore. I can't go into too much detail, but I love that there's the two teams you can go back and forth between. Spinning out of those two teams we have co-op, which has been a huge focus for us. There's a lot of co-op mechanics like revive, tracking, and just the way the missions have been built, they've all been built with co-op in mind. So that's a big step forward. The team is very passionate about that on the campaign side. All the multiplayer developers, because we love playing with our friends, made it very natural for us to jump into co-op experiences on Halo 5.
Has the epic theme trickled down to design in terms of creating a level, where the team designs a level and the higher-ups say, "No, this is not enough. We need to make this more epic!"
I wouldn't say that the higher-ups will go back and say, hey this needs to be epic, or not. But what we have done, the developers will get together in a room and we'll start saying, "We want to see a Hunter kill like five Spartans at once in multiplayer," or "we want to see a map that's so big that there's a base in it that you could have an arena fight in."
We've come up with ideas like, we want to see five-on-five scorpion battles, or we want to have banshee dog-fighting. We've built a new vehicle, the flying Phaeton, and it's completely designed to wreak havoc on a huge battlefield. Epic was kind of synonymous with all of our thoughts for multiplayer, especially Warzone. We've got maps four times larger than we've ever built before, which is a tremendous challenge in itself.
Speaking of which, how do you think the fans will react to Warzone? What are you hoping to see?
We want to attract new players to Halo, who have never played multiplayer before, like on the campaign, because they can interact and go after the AI. We want to get Arena players into Warzone as well. We really feel like it's a great place for players to live a Halo fantasy of having a massive, massive, Halo battle.Halo Wars.
If you've ever played Halo Wars (a real-time strategy game), there are these great moments where you can see like seven scorpions, five banshees, you've got wraiths on the battlefield, you've got three guys running around in circles in warthogs, and it created this controlled chaos. That was one of our visions for Warzone and when the team started, everyone was like, "That sounds awesome but you're insane, how are you going to do that?" The way we got there was a lot of controlled focus on what we wanted to build, simplifying the game rules down so that everyone could pick it up and understand it, and then just building it.
The team in Seattle is fantastic, they spent a long long time on Warzone. Lots of iterations; everything from tech, to scoring, working with the campaign team to bring AI and bosses into the mode. I think we've developed an incredible and new experience that people are going to love.
That sounds like it could get really chaotic. Any funny stories to share of when Warzone was still in its early testing days?
Yeah actually, that's a great question. We had one week where all the vehicles, instead of getting into them, you'd stand on top of them surfing! So it was even more of a motivator for everyone to buy vehicles. There was another week where some of the tuning broke on an A.I. boss who comes in halfway through the map Escape from ARC, and he just decided to kill everyone instantly. So the theme of that day, it wasn't like, hey everyone be careful, watch out for this player, it was "Stay the f*** indoors!" Another day, all the water you could just fall through, so we had to spend our entire day avoiding water, just jumping around.
These sound like they could be made into great GIFs!
Yeah, it's funny, our test team, they have a whole bunch of them!
When you announced details about the REQ system, some fans worried about how microtransactions would factor into the game. Can you explain how microtransactions will work in Halo 5?
Everything you can get in the REQ system, you can earn whether you spend money or not. There's no crazy special items that are only going to be reserved for people who spend a lot more money. Also, you get a lot of rewards whether you're playing Arena or Warzone, so you're always going to have a ton of stuff that you'll be able to use. The biggest thing for us the moment we started even talking about this system was that the game has to be balanced. At the end of the day, it's a multiplayer game. It's not a spend-more-to-win game. We wanted to make sure that if you spend a whole ton of money, and you thought you could get five scorpions just because you spent more money, it's not going to work. You're still going to have to earn the right to call these scorpions into the battlefield.
So we have a mid-session progression loop, which any MOBA player will be familiar with. You have to level your character up in-game, every game, by killing enemies, going after A.I., and contributing to your team. Then you'll unlock the ability to use these cards. So if you have ten scorpions, you can't just call in ten scorpions. You actually have an energy system, and that levelling system that will gate you and keep the end-game balanced. And that was really huge--we're multiplayer designers, we can't just make a really unbalanced game. It just wouldn't feel Halo.
How much pressure to do you feel working on Microsoft's crown jewel IP?
You know, from the day I started at 343 Industries we had pressure. That day, I was a Halo fan, and then all of a sudden I was a Halo developer and a Halo fan. So I knew if I was going to screw up Halo I'd be pissing off myself too. I think the entire team felt that pressure. It's not just pressure because it's Microsoft's crown IP, it's pressure because it's Halo and it's a worldwide brand. We're expected to lead. That's one of the reasons we took on a challenge like Warzone and decided to take on such an investment like splitting the multiplayer into two. It's awesome, and I think that drives a lot of the team.
Even just looking at Devastation feels fun. Its cel-shaded world is steeped in bold, saturated hues that perfectly suit the subject matter. Action sequences explode with bursts of color, characters move with dramatic speed blurs, hard black outlines frame every object the way they might in a comic book--essentially, every loving detail perfectly conveys the vibe of a classic Saturday morning cartoon, as does the story.Optimus Prime is just one of five playable Autobots, each of which offers unique moves and stats.
Megatron has teamed up with the Constructicons, and they're once again wreaking havoc because, like, they're bad and stuff. The narrative is utterly simplistic in a "Suitable for ages 8 and up" kind of way, but there's something oddly comforting about its absolute moral clarity. The villains are evil, the good guys are noble, and friendship wins the day. In essence, it's a story for kids that pulled a neat trick by making me feel like a kid again. There's only about as much story content as you'd expect from a three episode arc of the show, but honestly, that's enough. It hits the high notes and cuts all the filler. Fans will be served, and everyone else will be entertained.
Besides, the real star here is the flashy, dynamic combat. Devastation was developed by famed Japanese studio PlatinumGames, and it shows. The gameplay evokes shades of Vanquish and Bayonetta’s flashy, fast-paced, combo-driven madness, only simplified and streamlined. As with most contemporary third-person action games, you have light and heavy attacks that can be strung into combos. At the end of each successfully executed combo, you'll see a button prompt for a powerful "vehicle attack." After that, you can dodge your opponent's next move, triggering a brief moment of slow motion that allows you start the process all over again.Megatron wants to turn Earth into a new Cybertron. We must stop him!
Action not only looks and feels satisfying, it also requires a keen sense of timing. Should you fail to activate your vehicle attack in time, your surprisingly formidable opponents won't hesitate to break your rhythm and beat the crap out of you for a while. That risk of failure creates a genuine feeling of reward, on top of the visceral joy and empowerment that comes with pummeling bad guys with effortless style. All this satisfaction is further amplified when you're able to implement other combat techniques like launchers/aerial combos or ranged attacks just to add a little variety. The well of options runs impressively deep--assuming you're willing to hunt around in menus to learn the ins and outs of each character--and like Platinum’s other games, this depth allows for a welcome sense of creativity and self-directed challenge.
Those characters, by the way, are of course the iconic Autobots. Following a relatively short introductory segment, you can choose to play as Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, or even goofy robotic T. rex Grimlock during any of the campaign's missions. While these characters aren't hugely distinct, they're far more than simple pallette swaps. Optimus moves a bit slower but deals more damage, Bumblebee has greater agility and can more easily link vehicle attacks--you get the idea. Your character choice won't drastically alter your experience, but you can at least pick the Autobot that best suits your gameplay preferences.
You can also outfit each bot with upgradable weapons and technology built from loot you gather in game, although this component may be Devastation's biggest misstep. The idea of combining two weapons to make one stronger weapon is, fundamentally, pretty cool, but the whole system is poorly explained and needlessly convoluted. Worse still, nothing I created ever seemed to impact the gameplay in any material way, rendering both the weapon system and in-game loot hunting pointless. The gameplay remains fun regardless, but a feature that could have really enhanced the experience instead just sits there unused.Imagine upgrading that giant hammer with elemental abilities. Now imagine that upgrade not mattering.
Unfortunately, Devastation suffers from other issues beyond a half-baked loot system. Some--like slightly overpowered weapons and poorly communicated mission information--are negligible, and to the game's credit, it's generally pretty clever about concealing its flaws. For example, the beautiful characters models and fluid animations make the bland, repetitive environments and ugly textures easier to ignore. The frequent and diverse boss encounters distract from the otherwise rote, unimaginative, and oft-repeated mission objectives.
Other issues, however, are unavoidable, the largest of which is a simple lack of depth and content. There's just not that much game here. The campaign lasts roughly six hours and offers only limited replay value. The only additional mode is a series of challenges that mirror the campaign's empty side quests. I mean let's face it, "Kill all these enemies within this time limit" is not a real mission. You can rove around the hub city within the campaign, but rather than feeling open, it's a weird maze of tight, samey looking corridors littered with lazy invisible walls. Plus, given the pointlessness of the aforementioned crafting system, there isn't much incentive for exploration.
The frequent and diverse boss encounters distract from the otherwise rote, unimaginative, and oft-repeated mission objectives.
Still, the thought of simply beating up a bunch of slick-looking robots for a few hours is plenty appealing on its own. Devastation leverages the Transformers license masterfully and delivers tight, satisfying action with incredible flair. Honestly, I had fun just driving around trying to do donuts, and at one point, I randomly picked up a taxi and threw it over a building just for laughs. That's pretty great. And when that perfect rockin' soundtrack kicks in as you face off against Megatron, that's even better.
"Star Wars Battlefront is still rated 'RP' (Rating Pending) but we're targeting a rating of 'T' for Teen," the developer said through the game's Twitter account.
This isn't all that surprising. Overall, Star Wars isn't really considered a "mature" brand, nor is it necessarily a "kids" franchise either, which is why it probably won't receive an E or M rating. In addition, history is on the side of a T rating, as the first two Battlefront games each received T ratings from the ESRB.
Battlefront doesn't launch until November, but you can play it right now through an open beta on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. This pre-release trial period runs through October 12. It's already producing some excellent videos, including this one where Luke Skywalker gets squished by an AT-AT.
As you can see in the image above, the defining characteristic of the three-bedroom, five-bathroom abode is its glass terraces. Views (on a clear day, at least) extend to the Pacific Ocean. There is also an outdoor fireplace, infinity pool (and "party-sized spa), sunken wet bar, and a stainless steel barbecue.
Variety also reports that Maron's home is only a few thousand feet away from the $70 million, 23,000-square-foot mansion that Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson bought last year.
For a closer look at Maron's new house, check out a full image gallery here. The YouTube star has more than 8.8 million YouTube subscribers.
Posting on Twitter, Yeezus made his opinions Cristal clear:
Fuck any game company that puts in-app purchases on kids games!!!— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) October 10, 2015
That makes no sense!!! We give the iPad to our child and every 5 minutes there's a new purchase!!!— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) October 10, 2015
If a game is made for a 2 year old, just allow them to have fun and give the parents a break for Christ sake.— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) October 10, 2015
As of yet, it is unclear what sparked this outburst. Ye is known to deliver his thoughts on controversial issues out of the blue, so this may be another case of Mr. West just speaking his mind on something that's important to society. What's more likely, however, is that his daughter--North West--has been splashing out on in-game gems, the little scamp.
It's worth noting that West isn't actually complaining about the expense. As we all know, money isn't an issue for him, Kanye is all about going dumb again, people regularly see him pull up in his other Benz, just a week after he was in his other other Benz.
The issue seems to be that he's being informed of a new purchase every five minutes, indicating the notifcations of purchase may be the problem. This has not yet been confirmed, GameSpot has contacted Kanye's representatives for clarification.
Kanye West is a known lover of the video game medium. Before moving into music, he wanted to be a game designer and in February 2015 he announced he was making a video game based on one of his songs.
"Right now I'm working on a video game for Only One, and the idea is that it's my mother going through the gates of heaven and you have to bring her to the highest gates of heaven by holding her to the light," West said. "We've been working on it for like six months."
West also attended E3 2015, where GameSpot photographed him going to see games like Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and smiling.
Back in September, PS4 boss Shuhei Yoshida said he was surprised by how well the game had sold, especially considering how little marketing the company did for it. The game will continue to sell well in the holiday season, he said, going on to describe it as a "sleeper hit" for the PS4.
Samuels also teased that developer Supermassive Games is thinking about Until Dawn 2, though he admitted that it's "a little early" to talk specifics.
"We do talk internally about what Until Dawn 2 could be, as it clearly can't be a sequel in the traditional sense, with the same characters facing the same threat, not least of which because in different stories some or all of them are already dead!" he explained. "We've investigated other ways we could do Until Dawn 2 but it probably is a little early to be discussing that."
If Supermassive does not work on Until Dawn 2, you can still expect the studio's next game to benefit from lessons learned on the first game--whether they make a horror game or something different.
"I think that you should expect the team to build on what we've done with Until Dawn, whether it's in horror or in other genres," he said. "We're already working on one thing that does that, whilst exploring other avenues for our other teams in anticipation of them finishing their current projects."
GameSpot scored Until Dawn an 8/10, while the game was generally well-received across the board.
What would you like to see from an Until Dawn sequel, if it ever happens? Let us know in the comments below.
PS4 Price Drop: Big news for the PlayStation 4 this week, as the console got a $50 price cut, bringing the starting cost down to $350. That's the same price as the base model Xbox One.
Far Cry Primal Announced: A Far Cry game set in 10,000 BC? Sounds cool to me. The game launches in February 2016 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Destiny Gets Microtransactions, Could Generate Hundreds of Millions Per Year: Microtransactions are coming to Destiny on October 13, and they could make Activision/Bungie a lot of money.
Mashable has an excellent feature about Destiny's sound effects and music. Did you know Bungie's sound team used vegetables, cats, and styrofoam to do the job? Get the full story here.
Kellee Santiago, the former ThatGameCompany developer who joined Ouya, is now working at Google.
Announced at the #GISummit by @jmoledina - I'm joining the Google Play Games team in Mountain View!— Kellee Santiago (@KelleeSan) September 24, 2015
A new Walking Dead mobile game launched this week--and it looks pretty good! The game is called No Man's Land, and it looks like it takes inspiration from XCOM, which is never a bad thing. Read more about it here.
Newly discovered PlayStation patents offer a tease for where PlayStation VR may be headed. Have a look.
The Star Wars Battlefront beta started this week. It's available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, and you can play as much as you want through October 12. Best of all? You don't have to preorder. It's free and open to everyone. What are you waiting for? Go go go.
The Deus Ex franchise turns 15 this year. Has it really been that long?! To celebrate, Square Enix has released a retrospective video and an animated trailer. Watch them below.
The next update for PS4 racing game Driveclub will include a "little thank you" to fans, Sony has announced. Get the full story here.
A 1930s barber shop shaving game? Finally! Get the full story at Kill Screen.
Here's the music video for Sam Smith's new 007 Spectre song Writing's on the Wall. There's even some new footage from the movie to be seen here. What do you make of it?
Hey, this is a nice new feature. Amazon is now selling digital Blizzard games. Visit the store page on Amazon to see everything that's for sale.
Funcom is making a theme park-themed horror game. And it looks pretty darn spooky. Check it out.
It's October, which means it's almost November, which means BlizzCon is coming soon. Blizzard has now posted the schedules for Friday and Saturday. What catches your eye?
What does the future hold for Microsoft, Xbox, and Windows 10? The Verge caught up with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently for an in-depth interview. Watch it here.
The Sonic: Lost World PC port announced this week is the first of many, according to Sega. What games would you like to see brought to PC?
PC gaming and peripheral company Razer has announced its next product--but it may not be what you expect. Say hello to Razer Music, featuring Deadmau5, of course.
Have a great weekend!
If you don't want to pull the files from Dota yourself, you can find the full uploads here:
Are any of this a reference to possible features in Half-Life 3, and were the files just "accidentally" dropped into a Dota 2 update?
But judging by the number of "It's Happening" (and "It's Not Happening") gifs on the Internet right now, everyone still wants to believe.
As featured in the video above from YouTube channel ZaziNombies Lego Creations, this is comprised of more than 650 Lego bricks. Many of the pieces are said to be "specialty" ones, which probably shouldn't come as a surprise given the distinct look of the weapon.
The best part of the recreation is probably the sort of purple light it has on top of it. This was created using a light brick which is housed inside of a purple wind screen.
If you're not familiar with the Telesto, you can see some images of it in the gallery above, below the video. You should also have a look at video of it in action--it's an unusual weapon that functions somewhat like the Needler in the Halo games (Destiny developer Bungie's previous series). You can also check out what Bungie's artists told us about its design, as well as that of other new weapons, areas, and characters in The Taken King.
There's a slightly less cumbersome way to enjoy this, of course. Elite: Dangerous has been around since last year for the PC, where the keyboard is the perfect interface for a complex array of inputs. Xbox One players may share the same galaxy and economy as their PC cousins (which is odd, considering that players on both platforms can't actively play together), but they must experience it with all those actions crammed onto a gamepad. It's rough, but functional. Simple D-pad combos keep key features such as landing gear within reasonable reach, and an option to bring up an in-ship HUD with menus by pressing R3 removes much of the need for acrobatic finger-work.If it's action you want, you'll be better off spending must of your time in the new, fast-paced PvP matches.
Elite: Dangerous is all about exploration, and it’s worth taking the time to master your spacecraft in order to access the galaxy's many splendors. The trails of asteroids bobbing through space or the light of dawn touching the edges of a nearby planet are, at times, mesmerising in their beauty. Elite: Dangerous is filled with richly textured vistas, whose demanding effects can cause frame rates to dip, but at least they closely resemble their counterparts in the PC version. I had the most fun with Elite: Dangerous during these jaunts into the darkness of outer space, where undiscovered celestial bodies lie in wait.
Elite: Dangerous smartly adds variety by providing bulletin boards that allow like-minded explorers to deliver cargo, mine asteroids for minerals (right down to using lasers and scoops), fight wars for NPC factions, or ferry items from one station to another where they'll fetch a better price. That comfortable rhythm satisfied me for a while, but it wasn't long before I discovered I had far more fun spending my hours in space as a pirate and driving down my reputation with the more upstanding of the game's factions.The details are sometimes breathtaking, such as when you glide down beside Saturn-style rings.
I turned to piracy because that's where I found adventure beyond the inevitable grind and the simple act of exploration. As seems to be the case with other similar space exploration games, there's only the hint of an overarching story in play here; instead, the tales that emerge from Elite: Dangerous are largely the ones we make for ourselves. That kind of thinking has worked for the likes of EVE Online for roughly 12 years now, but it works because of that game's extreme emphasis on cooperation. Elite: Dangerous' missions tend to focus on NPCs, and it suffers for that absence ever so slightly. Perhaps it springs from the very distances involved.
Elite Dangerous does a good job of providing secondary activities--even if they lack of bit of personality--but much of the exploration is spent careening through the inky blackness at various speeds, which do little to alleviate the trek. "Because it's there" served as reason enough for exploring for the first five or so hours, but after that the weight of the void started to press on me, and I found myself asking what I was doing so far out on the edge of the unknown.
There's appeal in that, if you're of the right mindset. Elite: Dangerous tends to cater to a very specific type of personality--one that's OK with the routine world of trade and the joys of visiting blank spaces where no one has gone before, even if all that waits there is a new deposit of Lepidolite.There's nothing quite like it on the Xbox One with respect to range of freedom, and it holds endless wonders if you're bold enough to tackle the learning curve necessary to enjoy that freedom. It's great for collectors who thrive on spending hours amassing minerals and credits or--more to my liking--an array of ships that specialize in everything from battle to long-range ventures. Even then, collecting comes into play, as you visit different stations to hunt down specific parts for upgrades.
Elite: Dangerous tends to cater to a very specific type of personality--one that's OK with the routine world of trade and the joys of visiting blank spaces where no one has gone before.
In general, then, it's a game for players who like things slow and steady. Yet it seems that someone at Frontier thought that type of gameplay didn't fit well with the conventional console stereotype. To that end, the Xbox One version's launch marks the game-wide release of the CQC (Close Quarters Combat) Championship mode, which grants you access to ships with much more punch than your piddly starter Sidewinder, and let you blast away enemy players with abandon. It's fast. It's tense. It's everything the core game is not. It boasts team conflict, deathmatch, and capture-the-flag modes, and in its best moments, it reminds me enough of CCP's highly anticipated EVE Valkyrie to scratch that itch while I wait for the real thing. It's here where the gamepad controls perform at their best, providing a vacation set in arcade-style mayhem when the everyday business of mining and meandering grows too stale.What story there is originates in the balance of power, which is shared between console and PC users.
As with our own species’ ventures into space, though, Elite: Dangerous remains a work in progress. Massive new features such as the CQC Championship mode continue to work their way in, and additional options to visit planetary surfaces or engage in first-person combat are supposedly in the works. But Elite: Dangerous has plenty to offer at the moment if you're of a mind to explore, fight, and trade, even if much of it demands long, occasionally doze-worthy treks into the infinite. On the other hand, the distances involved are so great that I almost never saw another player (although I should note that I chiefly played in the pre-release build), which means that I almost forgot that grouping up was an option.
True to its name, Elite: Dangerous is an intimidating beast. It's a slow game that demands feats of patience, and it's the kind of experience that you may leave you unwilling to call yourself anything but a rookie even after dozens of hours. Once you scale its peak, though, its chief attraction is that it lets you see and travel farther than many other games have dared to. It may lack a certain spark and its missions tend to slip into drudgery, but I keep finding myself coming back to blast off toward any star in the night sky and eventually reach it. Such possibilities satisfy the thwarted little astronaut within me, and perhaps more importantly, they kindle excitement for the possibilities of the future.
Despite being a key part of completing some levels, seeking out extensions for your grappling-hook ultimately feels pointless. It's great at the end of the level when you can toss it into a hallway and watch it bounce here and there, grabbing coins and other collectibles, but it's deflating when it's back to square one at the start of the next level. It would have made for a much more meaningful experience if your tools and abilities progressed over the course of the entire game, and it could have paved the way for more complex levels, too. Unfortunately, it's handled on a level-by-level basis, thus any joy you derive from making progress is short-lived, and you begin every level tackling the most basic of challenges.Chibi-Robo is charming, but he has the unenviable task of cleaning up your garbage.
For most of its adventure, Chibi-Robo is the definition of mundane; you kill slow moving enemies and overcome basic platforming scenarios, collecting items, including literal garbage, such as a discarded coffee cup. Other times, it's candy--real-world candy. While there's nothing inherently awful about seeing brands like Pocky or Dots in a game, Zip Lash fetishizes these products, with NPCs who yearn for specific treats. Upon receipt, they repeat marketing catch-phrases, their favorite commercials, and lists of flavors, just in case you had any doubt that Tootsie-Rolls are the snack for you. There are dozens of these snacks to collect, but by the time you've seen the tenth "commercial," it becomes a non-priority as you search for more worthwhile goals.
These garish displays could be forgiven if the rest of Zip Lash offered meaningful substance, but it's a game that's far too easy, with very little in the way of interesting level design. You play through six worlds, set in different locations such as North Africa, the South Pole, and Europe. These window dressings rarely amount to anything of note, with few standout elements. There's some variation in the enemies you face as you travel the world, but not enough to make each location standout in a meaningful way. North America's world does contain some lively and challenging stages, with lots of moving parts and chaotic sequences that effectively communicate the nature of factories during the industrial revolution. It can be fun to move about with your grappling-hook and search for hidden areas, but these joys are fleeting. It doesn't help that Chibi-Robo is a slow-moving character whose actions are sluggish and few. Unlike other Nintendo platformers that thrive on variety, Chibi-Robo's adventure is monotonous.Things pick up when your cord grows, but it's a process you have to restart in every level.
To be fair, Chibi-Robo tries to offer a mix of experiences, but beyond status-quo platforming and grappling, you only find variety in boss fights and vehicle-based levels. The aforementioned skateboarding is fun, but I wish there were more stages that offered the same level of reflex-based challenges. When you're plopped into a submarine that moves achingly slow, or a similarly-paced inflatable balloon, you groan out of frustration the same way you do when driving behind someone going 5 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. Sure, you're doing something different than jumping and swinging, but that doesn't mean much when the activity is aggravating.
Boss fights provide some of the best moments in the game, offering a real challenge as you're required to use your grappling-hook in fresh ways in the face of new behaviors and obstacles. The bosses themselves are ornate, exhibiting a level of detail that's rarely seen elsewhere in Zip Lash. These encounters are a breath of fresh air that only magnify the mediocrity of the rest of the game.
Chibi-Robo loves to collect, but there's more in the world to find than just candy and trash. Coins, Chibi-Robo children, and medallions await the intrepid explorer, though you won't have to dig deep. Most "hidden" items lie near the beaten path and are easy to locate if you look around with the slightest of care. The game toys with the idea of returning to completed levels to seek out collectibles you might have missed, but earning high-marks for finding everything isn't motivation enough to return to unremarkable levels.
To make matters worse, Zip Lash features a convoluted world map designed around a mechanic that wastes your time. Rather than moving in a straight path from level to level, you're forced to spin a wheel that determines how many steps you will move along the world's path. This mechanic would make sense if you could hit a high number, end up on the final stage, and quickly complete a world. Zip Lash doesn't work that way--you have to beat all six levels in a world before you can move on to the next, so there's no incentive to aim for anything other than a panel with the number one--the most prevalent panel there is.Chibi-Robo would have benefited from more fast-paced moments like the skateboarding and jet-skiing sections.
While you could argue that the spinning wheel makes it tough to revisit levels exactly in the order you wish, you can freely move about the map once you've completed all six levels and beaten the world's boss. Even if you're clumsy, you collect so much currency in the game through casual play that you can always purchase specifically-numbered panels for the wheel to increase your chances of landing on the number you wish. When the wheel disappears after you beat the boss, or you fix the odds to your advantage, you wonder why it ever existed to begin with.
These frustrations don't make Zip Lash a bad game, but they prevent it from rising above adequacy. For every promising moment--which are few and far between--there's a commercial for candy, or a series of mini-tasks and menus that drag you back down. Chibi-Robo is a sleepy trip through a forgettable world. Plead with it to go faster, beg it to surprise you with new experiences, but don't be surprised when it answers back with the merits of biting into the center of a Tootsie Pop.