What began in 1998 as a space-themed variant on the sword-and-sorcery of Warcraft has become a gaming phenomenon, with a successful sequel and more expansion packs and gaming tournaments than you can shake a pylon at. Now, Legacy of the Void, the final expansion pack to Starcraft II, closes out the story which began nearly two decades ago, forcing players to push their actions-per-minute to the brink if they want to save the universe from the looming threat annihilating everything in its path (and pwn every Zerg-rushing noob this side of Korhal).
9.0 out of 10 Review
For a time, the rhythm game genre was flush with games vying for your attention. While it could be argued there was a bit of oversaturation in the marketplace, the disappearance of these peripheral-based games happened so suddenly, it was as if they never existed at all. Then a funny thing happened. Somewhere out in the ether, the idea for a resurgence took hold. It was as if someone shouted from the rooftops, "Let there be (virtual) rock!" Freestyle Games answered the call for Activision, and the Guitar Hero franchise was never the same. In fact, it was better than it ever was.
The movies of the 1980s taught us many things, but in particular there were two key takeaways. One is that montages are awesome and make even the most mundane things cool when set to the right music. The other is that there is no greater adventure than the one you embark upon with your closest friends. Taking inspiration from the golden age of teen cinema, where movies like The Goonies, Explorers and Stand By Me ruled, Minecraft Story Mode sends you on a grand adventure through the voxel-based world. While putting a story to Minecraft might seem counterintuitive to the core game's design, the team at Telltale has proven they can make a great story out of anything. And yes, that now includes Minecraft.
Five years after the last full retail release, Harmonix has returned with Rock Band 4. Like your favorite band that's been out of the studio for too long, Harmonix's return is a welcome one. Who better than the masters of the genre to bring back one of the most storied franchises of the last decade for another run at greatness? With new platforms and audiences to reach, the time seemed right for Rock Band to once again make a claim to the throne of the ultimate music franchise. Much of what makes up Rock Band 4 will be immediately familiar to longtime players, but that's not a bad thing. Rock Band 4 brings back feelings you didn't even know you were missing, and improves upon the formula just enough to make everything feel fresh and new, while being as comfortable as a pair of worn-in leather pants.
I just put the finishing touches on a brand new stage for Mario to conquer with friends and strangers at the helm. There are enemies galore in my aptly named stage "Enemies Galore!," with Goombas and Koopa Troopas lining also almost every square of the arena provided for my customization. With a few quick taps my stage is uploaded to the world, and I can either choose to keep building or try some courses of my own. This is the beauty of Super Mario Maker, the coolest idea to come from the minds of Nintendo in quite some time. This game gives me the power to do something I never could before: take the Super Mario formula for building challenging stages and create my own Mario opus, then upload that stage for the world to get their hands on. It's charming, it's addicting, and the best game Nintendo has put out this year.
The rains at Sebring International Raceway have been coming down hard throughout the day, and there's no sign they'll be letting up before the green flag drops. The wiper can barely keep the windshield clear enough to see beyond the edge of the hood, but this race is happening no matter what. The asphalt and concrete, slick beneath the rubber tires, is treacherous even at the lowest gears. Then come the puddles. If you're quick, you can avoid them. If you're too quick, you can't. Before there's time to react, both driver and car are embraced in a futile dance with physics as they careen all the way off the track and into the tire barricade. You're no longer competition; you're a warning from Mother Nature. Be wary, racers, for the same fate awaits you if you don't respect the elements.
Mega Man fans have been starving for a new Blue Bomber game for years now, especially since the Mega Man Legends 3 fiasco in 2011. While the Mega Man Legacy Collection won't scratch that itch -- if anything the itch gets worse playing these games -- it's still a great way to relive the glory days of Mega Man in ways I didn't even expect.
Tellatale's Tales From the Borderlands has been all over the place. While normally that would be a bad thing for a game, it actually works to TFTB's favor. What started as a story about a con gone wrong has evolved into a wild hunt for treasure and betrayal, and now with "Escape Plan Bravo," a heist adventure. Though all the core players have remained the same, shifting the type of story they're involved in has kept Tales From the Borderlands fresh and different every time you start a new episode. "Escape Plan Bravo" keeps the laughs coming, moves the story along in interesting ways, and is might just be the ultimate penultimate episode Telltale's ever delivered.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Bringing back memories of a lost age of innocence is a sure way to make people very happy, and Rare Replay has nostalgia pouring out of it. Every single part of this game was designed with the long-tenured player in mind, especially the hilarious introduction song that describes the developer's thirty years in the business. Thankfully the games play just as enjoyably, creating a really fun package of games that are sure to delight both the young player and the more seasoned vet.
Rocksteady Studios' Batman: Arkham Knight has been a long time coming. Since Batman: Arkham Asylum's release, Rocksteady has been tinkering with the formula that made that first game so successful, and the culmination of those efforts can be seen in Batman: Arkham Knight. The combat so many competitors have aped is as sharp as ever, the breadth and scope of Gotham City is staggering, and the presentation is absolutely eye-popping. The inclusion of the Batmobile, divisive as it may be, for the fist time shows that Rocksteady is willing to take big chances even with its final word on the franchise. Despite its over-reliance on a few new tricks, Batman: Arkham Knight is a stellar game that cements Rocksteady Studios as one of the premiere action game developers of the modern era.