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  1. Release date: October 18, 2018 Publisher: Another Indie Genre: Action RPG Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X Developers: Darkstar, DARK STAR Many stories like to use religion as a narrative device, and the name would suggest, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption takes a crack at it too, offering a refreshingly pared-down experience of Gothic religious horror. But while the game's boss rush structure possesses some clever mechanical twists, its more superficial elements don’t quite have the same shine. Enter Adam, the titular sinner, not-so-subtly named after the first man to do wrong. Instead of an apple from a tree, you've clearly been far naughtier than your namesake. Here, the afterlife has dealt you a rather unfortunate hand; defeat the manifestations of all seven mortal sins, and you just might get a happy ending. However, that's definitely a lot harder than it actually sounds, because the bosses are all about 20 feet tall, incredibly strong, and they hate your guts, and you have to give something up before you fight each one. This is the pivotal "sacrifice" part of the equation. Sinner is about going from boss to boss and beating them into the ground before they can do the same to you. It clearly takes inspiration from the Dark Souls lineage of games, both conceptually and mechanically. Each adversary you face has succumbed to a cardinal sin, whether it's by lack of action or by a conscious choice to take a particularly unsavory behavior too far. As a result, the bosses are fascinatingly warped beyond human recognition--we're talking about headless noblewomen, hunchbacked sorcerers, and walking fortresses that are more metal than man. Mechanically, Sinner features animation locking, that has you commit to your attacks, and tough-as-nails enemies. You're given a handful of javelins, health potions, and melee weapon options that you can swap between on the fly before the game throws you at the first boss. All your enemies have unique attack patterns that you'll have to memorize if you want to win, and some are more telegraphed than others, which leads to a good variety of challenges across the board. It's a strong, if familiar, set of systems, but Sinner's biggest feature lies in its sacrifice mechanic. Inventively, the game puts you in the unique predicament of getting weaker as you progress. Your 'sacrifice' could be a portion of your HP, some of your weapon attack damage, or even resources. You lose that thing, and you get a little bit weaker each time you go toe-to-toe with a malevolent foe. It's an innovative spin and its focus on the core basics means Sinner feels like an evolution of the genre rather than a derivative work. Sinner also includes a new game plus mode, which adds some exciting spice in the form of more challenging boss gauntlets where you fight them in groups along with broader weapon customization options. Each enemy is introduced by way of an epitaph and a scene which tells you how they ended up in that sorry state. The scenes are compelling on their own, and despite the sparse monologues which don’t give you a whole lot to go on other than your own imagination, the villainous Victorian-inspired visuals and the individually distinct boss arenas also provide just enough environmental storytelling to pique your curiosity. While you may still be slightly in the dark about what you've truly accomplished for your character in the atonement department when the credits roll, the road to redemption is still a scenic one. However, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption suffers from some problems with repetition. After about the sixth hour, things start to blend together a little. Each boss has its own unique orchestral accompaniment, which are enjoyable in their own right, but they're all based on the same recipe of overdramatic string sections and choral vocals. Each boss also harnesses a theme or an element of its own, but the arenas don't necessarily hold up to scrutiny over long periods of time; the surrounding textures in the background suffer slightly from a lack of fine detail, and there's only so much crumbly ruined stonework that you can stomach. It's also a little disappointing, though not completely surprising, to see the game run worse on Switch than on other platforms. There were instances of framerate lag turned deadly because of the pace of gameplay and also an instance of blinding light effects for a particular boss in a dimly-lit environment that were a hindrance. On the PlayStation 4 and PC versions, the framerate lag is almost undetectable. Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is an ambitious game that brings something new to an increasingly po[CENSORED]r style of action game. While it seems like it's missing a lick of paint to make sure that its aesthetics are as strong as its mechanics, it's still a smart step forward and a good example of how we can pay homage to the beloved works of others with originality. Minimale : Système d'exploitation et processeur 64 bits nécessaires Système d'exploitation : Windows 7/8/10 (64 Bit) Processeur : Intel i5-2300 2.8 GHz Mémoire vive : 8 GB de mémoire Graphiques : NVIDIA GTX 550 Ti 2GB DirectX : Version 11 Espace disque : 12 GB d'espace disque disponible Carte son : Any
  2. Release date: May 24, 2018 Developer: P Studio Designer: Shigenori Sujima Genre: Dances video game Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation Vita Series: Persona, Megami Tennessee One of the most important pieces of the Persona series, and a major reason why we remember each game so fondly, is the music. Each mainline game and spin-off has its own memorable songs that encapsulate its defining moments. And with Persona 5: Dancing In Starlight, the evocative soundtrack that wonderfully captured the journey of Persona 5 is brought to the forefront for a fun, exhilarating rhythm game with its charming personalities taking center stage. Here, the rhythm gameplay system used in Persona 4: Dancing All Night makes a comeback. As songs play, you're tasked with hitting the corresponding notes that align with the six button inputs that border the screen. Notes come from the center and move outward to the corresponding input, with unison notes, double notes, holds, and DJ scratches (using the analog stick or L1/R1) keeping you on your toes. It's a system that's beginner friendly with lower difficulties and assist modifiers, but wildly challenging on the highest difficulty. There's an incredible satisfaction to nailing perfect combos as note patterns flow seamlessly with the tracklist. The audible claps, tambourine shakes, and scratches that come from these notes mesh impeccably with beat of the song. It's not far off to say that you feel the rhythm when note patterns start to come naturally as you grow familiar with each track. The style and swagger of the Phantom Thieves bursts at the seams in Dancing In Starlight; it's seen in a wink, nod, or smile as they move in ways that fit their personalities. They'll be getting down in familiar locations like Mementos, Shibuya Crossing, and Shujin Academy. Even deep within hostile palaces, they express themselves by going all out on the dance floor with an impressive fluidity. Tandem dances in Fever Time and group dances are choreographed with a natural imperfection, supported by the eclectic soundtrack. The style and swagger of the Phantom Thieves bursts at the seams in Dancing In Starlight; it's seen in a wink, nod, or smile as they move in ways that fit their personalities. The theme song "Groovy" is so beautifully drawn and animated that the unapologetic confidence of the Phantom Thieves comes through vividly--it's an inspiring microcosm of the original game's attitude. A number of hard-hitting songs like "Rivers In The Desert", "Blooming Villain", and "Yaldabaoth" are featured here alongside the more calming tones of "Life Goes On" and "Tokyo Daylight". And, of course, the best palace theme "Price" features Makoto throwing it down in front of Kaneshiro's bank in the Metaverse sky. The masterful fusion of jazz, pop, metal, and rock make for a great playlist that feels like a trip through the struggles and triumphs of Persona 5 all over again. There some decent remixes, like the house-style version of "Whims Of Fate", but many are a little underwhelming, such as the "Beneath The Mask" remix that doesn't quite make the same impact for a rhythm game. That's not to say they're bad songs, but with the bar set so high, you wish they had a bit more punch for the gameplay to thrive on. There are also a few shortcomings in Dancing In Starlight when it comes to presentation. "Life Will Change", an empowering song with infectious conviction is paired to a fairly cheesy music video. But what's much worse is that the female cast members (who are also high school students) get oversexualized in the Last Surprise music video, which is some sort of bizarre burlesque show that's out of touch and wholly unnecessary. Dancing In Starlight doesn't feature a traditional story mode, unlike its predecessor Persona 4: Dancing All Night. However, there are Social Events, which are scenes of dialogue where characters banter--these play out similar to a visual novel-style of Confidants in the original game. The overarching premise is that you and your crew are stuck in a dream state dictated by Caroline and Justine of the Velvet Room, and they're enforcing the one rule of Club Velvet: dance. Admittedly, it sounds silly, but it works to pave the way for some joyous moments in Social Events. You shouldn't expect much when it comes to further character development, although they embrace their newfound passion for dance. Conversations and references play off of what you already know about the cast; Ann's striving to be the next top model, Yusuke's enraptured by his artistic side, and Ryuji's as brash as ever. While these don't play into the high stakes and striking themes of the RPG, it's great to be with these characters again and watch the silly banter unfold, especially since the original English and Japanese voice casts return. You're also incentivized to play in different ways since each character has specific conditions for unlocking their Social Events, like passing several songs using modifiers or customizing characters during your time playing. Viewing scenes grants you these cosmetics, too, so the game naturally guides you to seeing most of its features. And the conclusion to Social Events rewards you with room visits; even if its just the attic of the Leblanc coffee shop or a crew member's room, working towards them is worthwhile as you get to see familiar places in first-person and take a closer look at a world you thought you already knew. The masterful fusion of jazz, pop, metal, and rock make for a great playlist that feels like a trip through the struggles and triumphs of Persona 5 all over again. It might take some adjusting to the overall premise, but it's fitting to see this cast getting footloose across Tokyo and the Metaverse. Dancing In Starlight shines the spotlight on the original RPG's rich, wide-ranging soundtrack and highlights some of the best work from series composer Shoji Meguro. Although many of Persona 5's tracks struck a chord because of their evocative attachments to the events of that game, these songs come back around to remind you just how special that journey was. And the fact that these amazing tracks are tied to a great rhythm gameplay system make this game a fantastic new way to enjoy Persona 5's tremendous music and revisit the Phantom Thieves.
  3. Name of Game: Red Dead Redemption 2 Price: $47.99 Link Store: https://www.gamersgate.com/DD-RED-DEAD-REDEMPTION-2-REL/red-dead-redemption-2 Offer Ends After : 7Day minimum requirements: OS: Windows 7 – Service Pack 1 (6.1.7601) Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K / AMD FX-6300 Memory: 8GB Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 2GB / AMD Radeon R9 280 3GB HDD Space: 150GB
  4. Initial release date: August 23, 2016 Series: The King of Fighters Software developer: SNK Platforms: Playstation 4, Microsoft Windows Modes: Single video game, group video game Publishers: SNK, Atlas USA, Deep Silver Corporation the King of Fighters XIV see deal is an unapologetically complex game with a learning curve that ramps up into a sheer wall at times, but scaling that wall is a big part of the fun. Taking the time to explore the massive cast of fighters and master their intricate abilities is a test of dexterity and patience, but it delivers a satisfying experience perfect for those looking for a challenge to conquer. The transition to polygonal graphics from the historical sprites hasn’t exactly been kind to it, but this is still an excellent entry in the series. King of Fighters XIV is nearly exhausting in the sheer amount of content it contains. There’s enough here to spend hours learning various moves, characters, and combinations and still feel as if you’ve barely scratched the surface. A total of 50 individual fighters provides nearly unparalleled variety when choosing just who to take with you onto the field of battle. Most of the men and women vying for the title of the King of Fighters feel unique, some radically so, such as Angel and the impressive variety of her Unchain Circle combo attacks. Eighteen of the combatants are all-new to the series with this game. Most of the new arrivals fit right in with the old favorites, like Kukri, who can harness various projectiles to confound opponents and pour on the pressure. Others carry on the King of Fighters tradition of groups of characters representing countries and areas from around the globe, such as Nelson, Zarina, and Bandeiras who form Team South America. I Choose You Nakoruru This seemingly endless variety of fighting styles and matchups really comes to a head when deciding which three fighters will make up your team. Making adjustments to your regular crew by replacing a character to shore up a weakness might shift the synergy of the entire team, requiring you to use a new style with old favorites. You may try a new fighter that you feel makes good use of your Max meter and play them last, but if you add in another character that fills the same function you may need to learn to play them without spending resources, or perhaps change them out entirely. There are, for instance, no less than four different ways just to jump - nothing is simple. “ Since you need to become proficient with at least three characters, as opposed to just one in most other fighting games, there’s a tremendous amount to learn. There are, for instance, no less than four different ways just to jump - nothing is simple. You’re given the tools to learn though, including a Trial mode which will teach you basic and intermediate combos for every character, but it’s up to you to put in the work. The options are almost too plentiful, but exploration of the nearly endless combinations of characters, maneuvers, and matchups is a large portion of the appeal. Action is often frantic and it’s generally geared more towards offense. Dashes, rolls, and hops help you to apply pressure, and damage really ramps up in the later portions of a bout when both players have a lot of Max meter to work with. Making a defensive mistake against a skilled opponent late in a match could cost you a character, adding tension to each of your decisions. That said, big damage doesn’t come easy; even for those familiar with other fighting games KoF’s complicated controller motions and button combinations may seem daunting or alien at first. Finally landing that crazy, character-killing combo late in a match after practicing it for hours in training is hugely satisfying, and it’s that particular rush that kept me coming back for more. Technical Knockouts Moments like that are hard to come by online, sadly. In its current form netplay is a big black fly in the punch bowl. Online multiplayer is inconsistent in quality at best, with matches often reduced to a stuttering and unplayable mess. It is possible to find smooth fights when carefully matching against players with strong internet connections, but it requires patience and a little searching. Even attempts to fight players on medium-strength connections were sluggish and hitched. Despite running at a smooth 60 fps though, King of Fighters XIV doesn’t look great. This game marks a transition from the series’s traditional 2D sprites to more modern 3D-rendered models on a 2D plane, similar to Street Fighter V. Oddly, despite the in-game animations being fluid and the fighter models being well crafted, characters in cutscenes aren’t animated as skillfully, looking stiff and clumsy. These brief glimpses of the simple plot are also graphically shabby, with the vignettes looking more like they belong in an early PlayStation 3 game. The cutscenes and quick in-game interactions between characters fail to give a comprehensive understanding of anyone’s motivations, which was really frustrating considering how initially appealing some of these characters are at first glance. Despite running at a smooth 60 fps though, King of Fighters XIV doesn’t look great. “ Though technically lacking, strong art direction throughout the 19 vibrantly colored stages and 50 distinct characters helps to establish a fantastic atmosphere for the over-the-top proceedings. The environments range from an abandoned church to an aircraft carrier to the Great Wall of China. Most of the characters are equally visually striking, like Chinese opera dancer Mian and her traditional stage garb, or the mysterious luchador known as King of Dinosaurs, a rudo fighter wearing a Tyrannosaurus mask. Even with so many fighters to choose from, most of them sport radically different character designs. This actually made me want to learn new fighters; I spent hours in Training mode checking out various fighters and seeing what they could do based simply on the fact their appearance alone made them interesting. Verdict King of Fighters XIV offers an astonishing amount of content, with nearly double the playable characters of most other games available on day one. The fighters themselves are interesting and well designed, both visually and mechanically, and they push limits with an execution ceiling higher than perhaps any other fighting game. King of Fighters XIV’s netcode and technical shortcomings are itis biggest stumbling blocks, but mastering its characters and leveraging what you’ve learned remains satisfying regardless. There are no shortcuts to becoming the new King of Fighters, but the journey to the top is well worth taking. Minimale : Système d'exploitation : Windows 7 64-bit Processeur : Intel Core i3-4160 @ 3.40GHz Mémoire vive : 4 GB de mémoire Graphiques : NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 480, Intel® HD Graphics 4400, ATI Radeon™ HD 5000 series et au-delà. OpenGL 4.3 requis. Espace disque : 16 GB d'espace disque disponible Notes supplémentaires : Compatible avec appareils USB XInput and DirectInput USB, y compris les manettes et sticks arcades Xbox 360, Xbox One ainsi que les manettes de jeu DualShock
  5. Release date: March 24, 2016 Software developer: From Software Awards: Satellite Award for Outstanding Platform Action / Adventure Game Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows Modes: Single video game, group video game Designers: Shigito Hirai, Yuya Kimijima, Juniya Ichizaki, Hiroshi Yoshida Dark Souls III is a game of valleys and peaks, down through dungeons and up over castle walls. It's a plummet into places we shouldn't be--an escape from places we don't belong. But of course, we fight our way through the darkness, and find our way out. There are a few stumbles along the way, but in the end, Dark Souls III is well worth the riveting climb. This is the third in a series of dark fantasy role-playing games known for their brutal difficulty and unforgiving nature. It gives minimal direction and little room for error. As with its predecessors, playing Dark Souls III means accepting two extremes: recurring defeat, and the reward of breaking through it. This is a game that recognizes the value of perseverance, tearing you down before it pulls you back up, reinforcing the spots where it broke you, preparing you for that next valley just down the road. The world itself is a disconnected series of detailed areas--some sprawl outward, while others stack on top of themselves, folding back and looping around in intricate webs. It's a testament to the level design that discovering a bonfire checkpoint is as important as levelling your character or defeating a challenging boss. In this dangerous world of swamps, prisons, and undead villages, every milestone is a victory. Returning to the Firelink Shrine hub world in order to level up character stats, weapon quality, and the health-imbuing estus flask seems tedious at first, but as time goes by, you'll recruit helpful companions that set up camp at your base, granting useful items and buffs throughout your playthrough. Bonfire checkpoints strewn throughout Dark Souls III allow for easy fast travel, and returning to Firelink becomes a welcome reprieve from the surrounding world. This macabre locale has subtle stories to tell--enemies on the Road of Sacrifices behave defensively, only attacking once attacked. Giants bow their heads in exhaustion among the rafters of the Cathedral of the Deep. A sense of mystery pervades Dark Souls III's gloomy world, and there's a confidence on display that's often missing from many modern games--Dark Souls III has secrets, whether you find them or not. It's also impressive how Dark Souls III strikes a balance between exploration and guidance. There's usually more than one path you can take through the world at any time--to new bosses, secret dungeons, or new areas entirely--but never too many that it feels overwhelming. The level design encourages wandering without losing focus. Dark Souls displays a confidence often missing from many modern games--the secrets are here whether you find them or not. Obstacles come in a variety of grotesque forms along the way: hulking giants and feral dogs; ancient knights and suicidal monks. Each enemy is a unique threat, and in groups, they grow more dynamic and punishing, demanding a flexible approach to combat. Dark Souls III is also clever in the way it plays on your false sense of comfort: many deaths come when you underestimate an enemy you've killed dozens of times before. The danger is always lurking. In the long run, survival requires patience. This is true throughout--there's a certain cadence to the combat, a certain pattern to each enemy, that's only discernible when you take time to observe it. Some enemies are weak near their sword arm--others are vulnerable from behind. Instinct may tell you to dodge every time a knight retracts its spear, but wasting stamina could lead to a quick death, forcing a restart at the most recent bonfire. Dark Souls III doesn't just teach you new skills--it forces you to forget ones you've already learned. The combat fluctuates between measured duels and frantic fights, but it almost always manages to keep things fair: you may be outnumbered and underpowered, but defeat is usually your fault. Sometimes, however, Dark Souls III breaks that rule. The camera often struggles to adjust in tight spaces, and the lock-on mechanic can be capricious, especially against Dark Souls III's more mobile, aggressive enemies. In boss fights that require precision, an imprecise camera becomes all the more of a hindrance. But what impressive monstrosities these bosses can be. In fact, several display more creativity than any others in developer From Software's RPG lineup. These creatures play on your expectations and force you to adapt. One boss fight pits you against a crowd of pyromancers that inches toward you, hinting at its weakness with subtle visual cues. Intuition tells you to keep your distance, but it soon becomes clear you'll need to enter the fray. It rips you out of your comfort zone at a harrowing pace. Despite the nuance and novelty of most bosses, however, some stick to familiar ground. Deja vu kicks in during several fights, when the monsters display move sets similar to those that came before them, diminishing the creativity displayed elsewhere. I brought down Pontiff Sullyvahn, the Consumed King, and even Aldrich--a boss the game purports to be one of my major targets--with tactics I had used hours earlier. These enemies feel recycled. They feel repetitive. The skin may be different, but the beast remains the same. One glaring design misstep involves a boss requiring a specific item to bring him down--that is, if you don't want to spend half an hour whittling away at his health. There is an earlier, obscure side quest that removes the need to use that item. But many players might not stumble upon it. Dark Souls is at its best when it rewards your growth, and tests your character's hard-earned experience. This boss fight doesn't--it has a very specific solution, despite the path you've taken to get there. This enemy, and the repetitive bosses, fly in the face of the progress you've made. They repeat patterns you've already mastered. The late-game hours of Dark Souls III seem not to erupt, but fade slowly into the fog. So too does the overall level design of the late-game hours. Whereas most of Dark Souls III makes uses of labyrinthine corridors and trap-laden outdoor settings, these areas lose their design appeal as the game comes to a close. I expected Dark Souls III to carry me through imaginative fights and engaging treks as my character reached the apex of her skills, but instead I felt disappointed. I had come all this way with her, and aside from two fantastic end-game bosses and a handful of inventive secret areas in its waning hours, Dark Souls III seemed not to erupt, but rather, fade slowly into the fog. But by and large, your growth is respected. It's that thread--that near constant sense of progress--that leads to Dark Souls III's greatest moments. We create our travelers. We make them stronger, faster, more resilient, turning them into fighters as we too learn the intricacies of this foreboding world. We can't slay the final boss until we conquer every enemy before it, so by the end of Dark Souls III, we've truly mastered something. That's a special feeling. Much like From Software's earlier entries, Dark Souls III obscures its plot beneath its gameplay elements--the story is more concerned with tone than exposition. But what plot there is asks important questions: why do we place our idols in such high regard? How did they become our legends? The Lords of Cinder are imposing figures in Dark Souls III, and their power is attractive to pawns like us. But the end of their road is a lonely one--was that destination worth the sacrifice it took to get there? There are several possible endings to Dark Souls III, and although most are anticlimactic, they drive home the loneliness of the paths we took. The old lords have abandoned their posts, and in the hunt to usurp them, we descend into those dark valleys, and climb those imposing peaks. This is the essence of Dark Souls III: periods of doubt, followed by great reward. The journey may be rocky, but there's a throne waiting at the end.
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  7. Name of Game: WATCH_DOGS® 2 Price: $15.30 Link Store: https://www.gamersgate.com/DD-WATCH-DOGS-2-EMEA-RELEASE-GN/watch_dogs-2 Offer Ends After : 1Day 22 h System Requirements Minimum: OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64bit versions only) PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5 2400s @ 2.5 GHz, AMD FX 6120 @ 3.5 GHz or better VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 with 2 GB VRAM or AMD Radeon HD 7870, with 2 GB VRAM or better - See supported List* SYSTEM RAM: 6 GB HARD DRIVE: 50 GB SOUND CARD: DirectX compatible using the latest drivers DIRECT X: DirectX End-User Runtimes (June 2010) PERIPHERALS: Microsoft Xbox One Controller, DUALSHOCK® 4 Controller, Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, optional controller MULTIPLAYER: 256 kbps or faster broadband connection
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    [Review] Maneater

    Release date: 2020 Genre: Action RPG Mode: Single video game Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows Developers: TreeWire Interactive, Blindside Interactive Publishers: TreeWire Interactive, Deep Silver Corporation Toward the middle of my time with Maneater, my shark, now the size of a sedan and sporting glowing blue fins and whiskers to help it channel bioelectricity into the water around it, leaped out of a canal and onto the cobblestone dais filled with drunken revelers. As the folks enjoying the shoreline of Port Clovis screamed, my shark flopped after them, deterred by neither lack of limbs nor lack of oxygen as it chased down and chomped partier after partier unfortunate enough to think they could enjoy a gathering this close to Dead Horse Lake. As I gained bloody vengeance against the residents of Port Clovis for their abuse of the marine ecosystem, actor Chris Parnell's voice-over narration filled in some interesting details about the horse monument my prehistoric killing machine was defiling. One year, he explained, a Port Clovis-born horse placed 20th at the Kentucky Derby, creating a new holiday since the local po[CENSORED]tion, known for public drunkenness and petty crime sprees, was eager to celebrate. Maneater provides a lot of these kinds of moments, mixing ridiculous ichthyological carnage and reality-show absurdity to create something hilarious. It's an uneven experience, due largely to technical glitches, frustrating marine predator combat, and repetitive missions. But the longer it goes on, the more fun Maneater becomes, and its presentation keeps it from getting stale. That presentation is the most inspired part of Maneater. The game plays itself off as a basic cable reality TV show that follows Cajun shark hunter "Scaly Pete" as he patrols the polluted waters of the fictional Port Clovis. When Pete finds and kills a pregnant shark, the baby breaks loose of the hunter's grip (by chewing off his hand) and escapes into the bayou, where it (apparently) vows revenge. What follows is a vicious romp through various biomes, thanks to the shark's apparent mutated ability to survive in both freshwater and saltwater, as you pursue the singular goal of getting huge and eating Pete. The whole experience is narrated by Parnell (of 30 Rock, Archer, and Rick and Morty fame) as if it were a cheap Discovery Channel nature documentary following the shark and its feud with the reprehensibly eco-unfriendly Pete. Parnell's narrator mixes actual shark facts--or what sound like facts, at least--with plenty of gags at the expense of the drunk and disorderly Port Clovisians, wealthy shoreline property owners, the human propensity to exploit the ocean and its vast biodiversity, and particularly boring fish. The comedy is a huge part of what makes Maneater work, because otherwise, living the shark life would probably be kind of boring, since you'll mostly spend your time eating. You start as a small bull shark pup, gobbling up everything you can. Eating animals nets you nutrients you can use to level up your shark and upgrade mutations you earn as you complete quests, which help you get bigger and more ferocious. You'll swim around eating everything in your path, but predators eager to make a meal of you, also patrol the waterways. Enemies like alligators and Mako sharks will dart toward you and chomp down, requiring you to use a quick dodge ability to try to stay out of their way and get a few bites in when their guard is down or smack them with your tail to stun them. You recover health whenever you consume another creature, so victory is usually about beating strategic retreats and eating strategic treats to get back up to fighting strength. Combat can be a fraught affair when you're facing dangerous animals, since you and your enemies are darting toward each other like missiles and frequently passing each other. Pressing in one of the control sticks on console will zip the camera back around to the threat, but Maneater lacks a true lock-on system for some reason, which can make it easy to lose track of the creature you're trying to take down or escape. Especially in shallower regions, combat gets messy as you lose track of enemies, the camera gets caught against nearby landmasses, or you accidentally beach yourself or take to the water's surface, which locks you into an above-water view until you hit a specific button to dive back down. Fighting predators is a pain until you start unlocking cool mutations, which give you increased stats and perks such as stunning fish as you rocket past or returning health when you bite larger prey. Once you get a bit bigger and a bit more mutated, things take on a fun, if somewhat repetitive, routine as you climb the food chain. Each region includes quests that are all basically "Eat 10 of X fish," "Eat 10 humans at X spot," and "Eat X large predator," no matter where you are. But going after the humans indiscriminately has its costs--eat enough folks and a meter at the top of the screen that tracks how big a threat you present to Port Clovis will rise, causing the city will send shark hunters after you. These folks constitute your most dangerous adversaries most of the time because they carry everything from harpoons to dynamite to try to turn you into chum. Eating enough hunters and sinking enough of their boats raises your Infamy level, causing a boss hunter to join the fray. Eat the boss and you get a new mutation upgrade to equip, which makes taking down progressively tougher hunters a useful diversion from the main set of quests. Mixed in with those quests are hunts for collectibles. Scattered throughout each region are crates of mutagens you can find and consume and floating license plates you often need to leap high out of the water to collect. There are also signposts that mark local landmarks both in and out of the water, which the game uses as opportunities for jokes and pop culture references, like the sunken wreck of a knock-off of the Bluth banana stand from Arrested Development. Seeking out the collectibles provides a nice, quick break from constantly chowing fish, with the landmarks and their jokes especially worth the effort of tracking them all down. So while you'll do the same things at each location, there's just enough variety of activities that you won't get bored, especially as you level up and get bigger and more powerful (and especially once you're out of the way-too-shallow bayou). Completing objectives earns you specific mutations for each shark body part that can be mixed and matched to suit your play style, giving a bit of a tactical RPG component to your constant consumption. The three main sets of mutations focus on speed, debuffs for enemies, and higher defense, and picking the right mutations for a situation gives you an edge. The mutations don't really change up the gameplay too much for most of the game, unfortunately, but once you start maxing out upgrades, they help create the experience that is Maneater's beating, delicious heart: Making you into a huge, ludicrous, nearly unstoppable killing machine. You'll still face challenging enemies like boats and predators, but you'll usually get to choose when to have those dangerous encounters, leaving a lot more time for undisturbed mayhem. That mayhem would work a lot better if not for the camera issues, the loose, panicky nature of the combat, and some minor technical issues we faced while playing on PS4. In certain biomes in particular, the frame rate would often take a dive, which was especially frustrating when trying to survive an onslaught of hunters or a pack of hammerheads. I also experienced a rare bug that caused me to lose my save file and had two collectibles straight-up not work when I collected them, preventing 100% completion and locking me out of one of the mutations. Publisher Tripwire says both the save bug and the collectibles issue have been fixed with a pre-release patch. Issues aside, Maneater opportunities for shark chaos can be a lot of fun. The best parts of the game are akin to running around in a Grand Theft Auto game with a rocket launcher, indiscriminately wrecking everything you see as the cops come zooming in from all directions in a futile attempt to stop you. But instead of a guy running around with an arsenal of weapons, you're a monster shark launching itself 30 feet into the air, barrel-rolling straight through a boat, and plucking some screaming dork right off the bow for good measure. With the sharply written, hilariously delivered narration and story beats to freshen up the experience as you go along, Maneater becomes a goofy, fish-flopping romp, with a good balance of limbs to sever, boats to wreck, and challenging creatures to render into bite-sized chunks. Maneater isn't a perfect shark simulator, but it is a fun and funny one whose positive adaptations outpace its drawbacks.
  9. Initial release date: December 8, 2016 Release Date: December 8, 2016 Series: Yakuza Genre: Action-Adventure Game Platform: Playstation 4 Developers: Sega, Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, and Rio Ga Gotoku Studio The Yakuza franchise is over a decade old, and in that time, its feature set has predictably grown. Over six mainline entries, free-roam areas became more substantial, additional playable protagonists were introduced, combat mechanics were expanded to incorporate multiple fighting styles, and more and more minigames were steadily piled on. Surprisingly, the latest installment goes the other way, discarding components that certainly won't go unnoticed by series devotees. But that doesn't end up being a bad thing, because Yakuza 6: The Song of Life successfully uses its smaller footprint to create a deeper, more meaningful impression. The final installment in Kazuma Kiryu's story focuses on him alone, with the plot seeing the large cast of series-significant characters like Majima, Saejima, Daigo, and the children of Sunflower Orphanage make only the briefest of appearances before being tidied away. Adopted daughter Haruka, sympathetic detective Date, and hobo-turned-loan broker Akiyama play important parts, but exist on the fringes. The Song of Life centers on Kiryu as he returns from another long stint in prison, separated from the Tojo Clan, and unravels the mystery of an infant who's suddenly come into his care. The setup distinctly echoes the events of the first game, a seemingly purposeful decision which lets The Song Of Life act as a fitting refrain, giving Kiryu's final sojourn a roundness that brings a nice sense of closure to his series arc. His investigations bring him to the port town of Onomichi, Hiroshima, where he encounters a lowly blue-collar crime family led by an aging, but supposedly legendary yakuza portrayed by Takeshi "Beat" Kitano (a yakuza film icon in his own right, though his subtle mannerisms don't completely survive the transition). While the game unsurprisingly spirals into a complex and dramatic story involving underworld political alliances, age-old conspiracies, and a healthy dose of deception, what's ultimately memorable are the threads and character developments that explore what becomes a very significant, widespread theme: family. Kiryu's time meeting new people from different walks of life in a closely-knit small town has him reflecting on remarkably ordinary ideas as they exist in different facets of society--bonds of friendship in the face of adversity, loyalty in times of uncertainty, and caring for your ward as a parental figure. These themes resonate consistently throughout the better part of Yakuza 6's narrative, and this includes the numerous, optional substories. You'll help children and parents resolve conflicts and try to understand each other's point of view. You'll see Kiryu finding true strength and loyalty in the smallest of gestures, along with the different ways friends and strangers can support one another. The writing in these stories is often corny, but that doesn't mean there isn't an endearing sincerity that regularly shines through. When the sentimental piano melody kicks in during pivotal scenes of moralistic resolution, it's hard not to be swept up by it all. The series' penchant for goofiness still exists, though it doesn't return to Yakuza 0's ludicrous levels of absurdity. Particularly memorable substories are ones which humorously explore Kiryu's unfamiliarity and disdain towards modern technology like drones, robot vacuums, and YouTubers. But even the game's most comedic series of quests, which involve Kiryu dressing up as Onomichi's adorable character mascot (who has an orange for a head and a fish for a purse) ends up becoming a touching reflection about having loyalty in town pride. These heartwarming stories are also a key component of Yakuza 6's new minigames. There are less of these side activities than previous entries, but much of what's included is more robust than usual, and in many cases, the substories attached to them are enjoyable enough to stop the simple mechanics from wearing thin too quickly. Spear Fishing is a score-based on-rails shooter that finds Kiryu helping an injured fisherman and orphaned fishmonger track down the shark that ruined their lives. The Onomichi Baseball League involves some light team management, pinch-hitting, and player scouting, but the story of Kiryu rallying a team of no-hopers is what really makes the whole affair great. The Snack Bar minigame stands out as a real highlight in this regard. It involves attempting to become a regular in a small, Cheers-style local's bar where Kiryu tries to forge personal relationships with a group of relatively unextraordinary, blue-collar folk. Its key mechanic is participating in group conversations where one patron has a vent about their woes, and Kiryu's role is to help provide supportive dialogue and refrain from saying anything selfish or dumb. It's lovely to see Kiryu try to resolve everyday, down-to-earth dilemmas and provide genuine acceptance and friendship. Conversely, there's the incredibly involved Clan Creator Mode, which sees Kiryu unwittingly intervening in a war between youth gangs (whose leaders include real-world New Japan Pro Wrestlers, because why not). Taking leadership of one of these groups, you'll help Kiryu scout for soldiers, organize hierarchy, and participate in simple, real-time strategy-style street battles. You'll take a bird's eye view in skirmishes, where you can dispatch autonomous grunts as well as a limited number of leader characters with special abilities. Clan Creator is Yakuza 6's most substantial minigame, boasting online network functions that let you compete against other players, tackle daily missions and participate in a ranked ladder. Unfortunately, it's also the most tedious to play. Victory strategies stem entirely from massing as many troops as possible and grinding missions to keep your leaders at a capable level. Battles don't really become challenging until the many substory missions are already done, and even then, the strategy more or less stays identical. For a mode with such ambitious scope, its mechanics and relatively uninspired plot--which mainly seems concerned with spotlighting its celebrity guests--aren't satisfying enough to make the long ride enjoyable. Elsewhere, the Club Sega arcade once again offers playable classics like Super Hang-On and Outrun, but there's also complete, multiplayer-capable versions of puzzle action favorite Puyo Puyo, and the seminal Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, both robust offerings in their own right. Mahjong is back, a gym offers track-and-field-style minigames for above average experience gains, karaoke and a cat cafe provide enjoyable distractions, and a simple-to-master darts minigame features a substory that lets you take on a real-world darts legend. Yakuza 6 also maintains the series convention of including more titillating pursuits. Cabaret clubs return, with a choice of six hostesses for Kiryu to woo through conversation minigames. Also notable is the particularly risque Live Chat, a minigame which sees you pay money to watch live-action webcam shows (featuring real-world AV idols, no less), while hitting button prompts to progress to the point where you can watch the models strip their clothes off and moan suggestively. The unambiguous objectification of women in these minigames continues to make their inclusion uncomfortable in their own right. Their presence does truthfully reflect prominent parts of the real-world Japanese nightlife and adult industries, but these kinds of minigames have always perpetuated an unbelievable inconsistency of character for Kiryu. There's a conflict between the canonical depiction of him as a strong, stoic, honorable saint, and a version who is a creepy, bumbling pervert. After ten years, it's still hard to believe Kiryu is someone looking to build a harem as big as the orphanage he owns, who madly exclaims "BOOOBS" and "IT'S GROWING" when a woman takes her top off. These activities do have their moments, though--the text-based quips of Live Chat participants can sometimes be laugh-out-loud funny, and courting hostesses mean you get to see additional, phenomenally good karaoke videos. But in the grand scheme of Yakuza 6, where heartfelt themes pervade all of Kiryu's character interactions, these minigames feel like distant outliers The iconic red-light district of Kamurocho still plays a big part in the story, though it has a noticeably smaller area size this time around. You'll still feel at home if you've visited the area before, but there is a significantly disappointing lack of access to the Champion District and Park Boulevard areas. However, the distinct sense of a vibrant, bustling city still remains, and that's amplified by what feels like a more detailed and densely po[CENSORED]ted world. Walking around in the first-person mode is enough for you to appreciate all the surface level intricacies and changes, and there's a new element of verticality with increased rooftop access. But there are also some great advancements in the way the city invites you to engage with it. Yakuza 6 now rewards you for interacting with the world in a way that previous games didn't. Eating at the game's many restaurants, which was previously really only worth doing if you needed a health boost, is now the most convenient way to rack up experience points to spend in the game's extensive upgrade system, though you're limited by a new stomach capacity meter. Purchasing and drinking beverages from one of the numerous vending machines around the world will give you cheap, temporary combat buffs. Every mini-game, from the batting cages to playing a round of Space Harrier will also earn you experience. The result is that slowing down and taking your time to soak in the atmosphere of the city will benefit you, and the world is no longer just a pretty path for you to run down to get to your next objective. Now, you don't necessarily have to feel guilty for letting yourself be distracted by Mahjong for hours. Onomichi, Hiroshima is a region that is larger than previous accompanying locales have been, although the sleepy port town is a much quieter, more unassuming area than Kamurocho. Situated by the seaside, cute greenery arrangements line its single-story businesses, an above-ground train splits the area, and narrow pedestrian walkways snake up the steep hills, leading to an impressive temple with spectacular views. It's a charming, authentic-feeling recreation of the more tranquil parts of Japan, which both you and Kiryu learn to cherish. The town's relaxed atmosphere and characters exemplify the Song of Life's wholehearted themes. Of course, in order to keep that tranquillity, sometimes you need to pound a few dirtbags into the ground, and the game's updated combat system follows its philosophy of slimming and focussing. Gone are the variable fighting disciplines introduced in Yakuza 0--the Kiryu of Yakuza 6 is equipped only with an expanded version of his signature brawling style, perhaps another refrain to the series' beginnings. It still maintains its characteristic weight and rigidity, but there are additional factors that make the act of fighting feel more fluid than it's been in the past, turning encounters as a whole into more dynamic and exciting experiences. Enemy mobs are larger in The Song of Life, and crowd control takes a more prominent focus because of that. Set-piece fights that make up central story moments regularly see Kiryu and his companions go up against dozens upon dozens of enemies at once--a ratio that is frequently amusing. As a result, the properties of Kiryu's attacks have been altered. His throwing maneuver swings a victim around before letting them fly. Each combo string now allows him to execute two finishing blows as a default, and the second typically lunges forward with a wide attack radius. Starting a hard-hitting combo with some wise positioning means that Kiryu can feel like a human wrecking ball as he cleaves and plows through a group of assailants. You can frequently create domino effects that send enemies crashing into each other, and thanks to the game's new physics engine, into environmental objects like rows of bicycles, through glass windows, and potentially, into stores and restaurants. That's the most significant change to combat--it now benefits from seamless transitions between world exploration and battles. Getting into a fight on the street no longer means coming to a jarring halt for a few seconds while a splash screen pops and civilians gather to restrict you to a small area. Fights now have the potential to move through the city and into areas like stairwells, rooftops, convenience stores, restaurants, and a handful of other accessible building interiors. It also means you have the opportunity to make a break for it if you're not in the mood to throw down. The dynamism and uninterrupted flow this gives to Yakuza's combat is a real wonder, and means that random battles are less likely to eventually devolve into monotony, as they could in past games. You could be strolling down the street, leisurely drinking a can of Boss coffee or taking a selfie in front of the cat cafe, and a gang of thugs can suddenly interrupt you, forcing you into a tight stairway brawl that eventually spills out onto a rooftop. Or, you might try to run and hide in a convenience store, unsuccessfully, and find yourself destroying shelves and sending snacks flying until you put an end to the chaos by slamming a thug's head into a microwave--just don't expect the clerk to serve you afterward. Combat in Yakuza 6 is exciting, and the situations you might find yourself in positively echo the kinds of scrappy, tense struggles you see so commonly in East Asian gangster films. The one mechanic that doesn't really hit the mark is the new Heat Rage system. It allows you to sacrifice your entire Heat gauge (earned by dealing and taking damage) for the limited ability to deal more damage, avoid being staggered, and perform unique Heat Actions, the series' entertainingly brutal takedowns. It's a useful tool on paper, but when activated, the camera zooms far too close to Kiryu, and you lose too much peripheral vision to make the technique practical in crowd situations or difficult one-on-one fights. Another sticking point is one that's been present in all of the game's iterations--the inconsistent visual presentation. While the scenes that deliver pivotal plot events are absolutely spectacular--with uncannily lifelike character models, dramatic cinematography, and exceptional Japanese language performances--scenes that present lesser moments, like substories, are a dramatic drop in quality. As in previous games, they feature far less detailed character models and wooden, sometimes non-existent animation. Static camera angles also play a big part in aggravating their dullness. Substories make up a significant part of Yakuza games, so the low-end visuals continue to be an unfortunate blemish. Yakuza 6 is also entirely voice-acted for the first time in the series, and because the performances go a long way in enhancing the humorous and earnest moments these missions can contain, it's a shame that the presentation doesn't go to the same efforts. Yakuza 6 reins in its scope, but doubles down on what has made the series great. It's a unique and fascinating representation of the modern Japanese experience, worth playing even if you're a newcomer. The narrative is dramatic and sincere, and the game's endearing characters--coming from all walks of life--are interesting studies. The world is dense and rewarding to exist in, the dynamic combat system stays exciting even after you've kicked the crap out of five thousand enemies, and perhaps most importantly, Yakuza 6: The Song Of Life serves as a fulfilling conclusion to the turbulent, decade-long saga of its beloved icon, Kazuma Kiryu.