Before 2005, there were only a handful of racing franchises that dominated the landscape. If you asked any player what a good console racing game was, they would probably point you in the direction of Need For Speed, Gran Turismo, or even Burnout. While each of those games set a style and garnered a fan base all their own in the world of vehicle video game enthusiasm, there was yet one more franchise on the way that was about to turn the genre on its head. In May 2005, Forza Motorsports arrived on shelves for the original Xbox, and with it came an all-new level of realism the likes of which had never appeared in a racing game before it.
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Many years ago today, Morrowind hit the shelves, giving us much more than a sequel. It gave us a content-packed living and open world that was set a standard even above those set before it and become the new bar by which all other games like it would be judged.
Hitman’s first episode took place in Paris, but it really didn’t show much of the actual city as most of the action took place indoors. Not that it had to, since just hearing the name Paris inspires all types of mental imagery and the fashion show featured in the first Hitman episode really captured that modern high-fashion feeling. This episode takes place in Sapienza, Italy and unless you’re familiar with some of the lesser known towns in Italy this name doesn’t evoke the same icons that Paris does. Despite that, this episode’s mission features a beautiful and more fully realized environment than its predecessor.
In 2007, the shift over to next generation consoles was in full swing. Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 had been on the market for some time and developers were getting comfortable working with the new and more powerful machines. Rockstar North in particular had still been running on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Liberty City Stories, and Vice City Stories in 2004, 2005 and 2006 respectively without a true foray into the then-next generation. Rockstar North wouldn’t stay quiet forever though and just a couple years later, it would come forth with one of the most substantial updates to the Grand Theft Auto formula since its transfer to 3D space with Grand Theft Auto 3. Today, we celebrate Grand Theft Auto IV’s arrival on shelves in North America and the standard it set for next-gen open world games going forward.
The first two chapters of The Walking Dead: Michonne took some time getting to the core of what made this mini-series special. Both "In Too Deep" and "No Shelter" had some great introspective moments for Michonne, but the story points driving them along weren't nearly as compelling as what was unfolding in Michonne's head. With the final episode, all of the elements finally pull together to deliver a haunting, gut-wrenching conclusion that gives Michonne more depth, and will have you wondering if we get what we deserve or we deserve what we get.
The Xenomorph of Alien franchise fame has been around for several decades and in that time, it has become a practically unavoidable science-fiction horror icon. Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece set an amazingly high bar in terms of atmospheric set and sound design with the addition of gruesome set pieces and masterful monster appearances that would haunt viewers’ dreams for decades. It’s only natural with such an explosively popular franchise and widespread fanbase that video game developers would want to get their shot at portraying that license. Indeed, the Alien franchise has seen its share of video game adaptations across the many years since the release of the original.
When we talk about video games, there is and perhaps always will be a debate going on about the fun factor of a game and how that dictates the game’s worth. iNK Stories & N-Fusion Interactive’s 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is the kind of game that is likely to add fuel to that debate. In a world where racial, religious and political tensions are still unfortunately in the spotlight, 1979 chooses to observe the revolution that took place in Iran against the monarchy led by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The game has some slight technical flaws and pacing issues that work against its goal, but it is nonetheless a gripping snapshot of human hope, passion and cruelty from a personal perspective.
Square Enix fans often complain about seemingly contradictory things when it comes to their favorite RPG company. "Square Enix experiments too much," say some fans, "they redesign each Final Fantasy game so much that each one barely resembles the last." Other fans complain that Square Enix's other big RPG series, Dragon Warrior, doesn't experiment enough, and that its latest entries are still far too similar to the NES games of decades past. When Bravely Default arrived in 2012, it satisfied both camps thanks to its bold, yet familiar, RPG framework. Bravely Second continues in the footsteps of its predecessor, trying again to find that magic oasis of fun which balances out the old and the new.
"It's about time you showed up, Fox!" After eleven years, the ace fighter pilot and his team of mercenaries are returning to a home console in Star Fox Zero, and a long hiatus like that creates some major expectations. Surely if Nintendo thought it was time to bring back Star Fox now there'd be some big things in store, right? Well it seems those "big ideas" aren't quite as big as I had hoped.
Imagine having to follow up a legendary piece of media with something better. Can you put yourself in a place where fans ask you to take the thing you made that revolutionized a genre and make a follow-up that’s not only on par, but continues to push the envelope? That’s where Portal 2 was as it entered the gaming community’s collective radar. The game had an enormously high bar to clear with the original Portal, which was renowned for its excellent design, ingenious mechanics, and bizarre and somber, yet cynically humorous themes. Fortunately for all of Valve and Portal’s many fans, Gabe Newell’s team was well up to the task and years later, we celebrate the amazing sequel that was Portal 2.