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    Wasteland 2 Review

    GameSpot
    By GameSpot,

    "You vaguely remember a child's rhyme... something about a flag and a nation. Childish notions indeed."

     

    I don't exactly remember which part of Wasteland 2 that quote is from, but it, more than anything else, highlights what the game is about. Fiction generally, but science fiction especially, often explores some fundamental element of what it means to be human. Whether they describe a destructive thirst for revenge, the glorious touch of a lover, or the fear of losing your humanity to technology, these stories enrich us because they give us mental playgrounds for our own ideologies. Wasteland 2 captures the pettiness of loyalty, of nationality, of these abstractions people are so insistent on building to guard them from the evil in the world. And yet it's also about the kindness of people in the face of these same obstacles.

     

     

    In Wasteland 2, you play as a squad of several people, most of whom you'll create from whole cloth. You're encouraged to shape their backstories, craft their skills, and choose their religions, so that you might have a cohesive group that can take on any attacker, and so that you might have ripe material from which to pull creative inspiration as you write your own story. Your team will always be members of the Desert Rangers, a loosely-organized militia that protects what remains of the people that have survived an apocalypse. Your affiliation with this quasi-national group is at times a hindrance, as there are civilians that have been slighted by the organization, and others that retain a deep loyalty because of some prior graciousness.

     

    The first major mission you come across presents you with a choice. There are two places in desperate need of help. One is the last bit of farmland fertile enough to provide food to everyone else in the wastes; the other is the only major source of water left in the deserts of Arizona. You will lose one of them, and those few residents that survive the destruction will hate you. Their friends and relatives scattered around the wasteland will hate you too. It is unavoidable. No matter how far you progress, you will never be able to repair all that ails the land, see every possible sight, or assist everyone in need. There's a sense of fatalism about the limits of organization, about the boundary of governments, that feels almost anarchic. Even kindness isn't universally helpful.

     

    One particularly tough scene had me slowly watching a woman die as she begged my squad to put her out of her misery. Trying to show an ounce of mercy in an otherwise cold and macabre place, I agreed. A child saw me and ran to tell his family, another group I had agreed to help by finding their stolen pigs. They were terrified of me, and left their home without food and water. They probably died.

     

    Rich descriptions do a fantastic job of keeping the solemn, mournful atmosphere consistently at the forefront.

    It was these little vignettes that dominated my time with Wasteland 2. Finding people in need, or encountering the remnants of some long past conflict, is the heart of the experience. The slow pacing and long stretches of silence, occasionally punctuated by the sound of a dot matrix printer ticking off vivid descriptions of the vistas and characters you encounter, create a rich atmosphere for classic role-playing. Most of Wasteland 2 takes place inside your own head as you wrestle with dozens of moral choices, build connections between disparate events, and try to grasp the big picture. You'll only ever have your experience, though. Your piece, your perspective, is all the context you'll ever have, and from that you're tasked with trying to make complex decisions and hope that your net good (or, if you're a sadist, net evil) shines through whatever missteps you may make. Even wandering around, mindlessly fighting raiders ad infinitum, is a distinct choice with distinct consequences. Ignoring your duties means that people die. In the same way that nothing exists without some implicit statement about politics or morality, there's no avoiding the larger themes and conflicts here. From the moment you step into Wasteland 2, you are always making choices about the way you influence the game world.

     

    When it does come time to fight, your choices are similarly varied. Wasteland 2 supports a huge breadth of combat styles. Each tile-based, tactical battle is distinct and opens with dramatic visual fare and a message saying “Encounter Begins.” From there, you select actions for each member of your squad. Moving, attacking, reloading, taking cover, unjamming weapons, and performing impromptu surgery are all on the potential action menu. These actions require a certain number of action points based on your characters' core attributes. There's a lot of latitude here, however, as you can reserve some points to give yourself a boost next turn, or dump them all into an ambush in a bid to play more defensively. When enhanced by a robust item set, your tactical approach is nearly limitless: the kind of armor you're wearing and the food you've eaten are just a few of the considerations that can affect combat. At one point, I had a heavy fist-fighter and decided to set her up with some good armor because she was often taking too much damage. While the suit offered better protection, it also dramatically reduced her ability to move around the battlefield. That led me to have her always leading the squad so she'd be closer to the action, wouldn't have to move as far, and was still adequately protected. You can destroy some parts of the environment to open up new ways to attack, or you can use a particularly fast character to lead an opponent around the battlefield, pulling fire away from your main group. It's an open system that encourages you to vary your approach, but that depth is only apparent at higher difficulties. On easier settings, there's no need to employ greatly complex tactics.

     

    2665108-wl2.jpg2665110-wl3.jpg

    The moments in which Wasteland 2 fell short for me were those when I was acutely aware of its most antiquated ideas. The game applies skills like lockpicking in wonderfully varied ways, and shows off some impressive level design in the process. Wasteland 2 creates spaces with intricate connections, but that intricacy is wasted given how little agency you often have in the game’s world. You may approach a circumstance in a specific way, only to discover that the events that follow are left to chance, robbing you of a sense of control over the progression. This feature may be meant to call back to the inherent randomness of pen and paper games like Dungeons & Dragons, but Wasteland 2 comes up short in such a comparison. Instead of feeling that I could do anything as long as I succeeded in a dice roll, I felt confined by probability.

     

    Fallout 3, by contrast, managed these kinds of conflicts well. It required training in certain skills to use them, but also gave you direct control over the success or failure of a lockpicking or hacking attempt. By leaving that control in your hands, you had agency over your own failure, and when you succeeded, you had reason to celebrate. In Wasteland 2, a game that places such a heavy emphasis on the consequences of your actions and choices, it is frustrating when you’re shown the limitations of those mechanics; when juxtaposed with modern inventory management, level design, and visual presentation, such archaic elements stand out.

     

    In many ways, though, Wasteland 2 represents everything about classic computer role-playing games that the modern iterations of Fallout aren't. Where Fallout 3 gives you an extreme amount of general latitude, Wasteland 2 focuses on the narrative minutiae and tangible consequences of your individual actions. Where Fallout 3 tries to craft a broad world that feels whole, Wasteland 2 loosely strings together several locations with hidden connections, with secrets waiting to be discovered and picked over. And where Fallout masterfully uses comedy to lambast the ludicrous tone of paranoia surrounding Cold War America, Wasteland 2 attacks the natural arrogance of the individual. It forces us to confront the painful truth of our own blind self-righteousness, and shows us how childish our own grand plans truly are.

     

    Source: GameSpot


    Half-Life, Mass Effect DLC, and Spider-Man Discounted in Xbox One/360 Weekly Deals

    GameSpot
    By GameSpot,

    Microsoft's weekly sale for Xbox Live Gold members has begun, and as usual, the bulk of the deals can be found on Xbox 360.

     

    Whereas last week saw only a single Xbox One game discounted, this week gives you a choice of three: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is $40, Contrast is $10, and the ultra-hard 1001 Spikes is $10.

     

    On Xbox 360, $5 gets you a copy of The Orange Box, a collection of Valve games (Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal) that was an excellent deal at full price. That's even more true for $5, even if the console versions of TF2 have never been updated in the way the computer version has.

     

    Also discounted is Syndicate, which offers an enjoyable co-op multiplayer mode, for $5, and a selection of DLC for Mass Effect 2 and 3 (including some of the best stuff, like Lair of the Shadow Broker) for half price.

     

    These deals run from now through September 29. You can check out a full list of them below.

     

    Xbox One:

     

    Xbox 360:

     

    • The Amazing Spider-Man -- $13.59 (regularly $39.99)
    • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 -- $19.99 (regularly $49.99)
    • Fuse -- $6.79 (regularly $19.99)
    • Syndicate -- $4.99 (regularly $19.99)
    • Mass Effect 2:
      • Arrival -- $3.49 (regularly $6.99)
      • Kasumi - Stolen Memory -- $3.49 (regularly $6.99)
      • Lair of the Shadow Broker -- $4.99 (regularly $9.99)

      [*]Mass Effect 3:

      • From Ashes -- $4.99 (regularly $9.99)
      • Leviathan -- $4.99 (regularly $9.99)
      • Omega -- $7.49 (regularly $14.99)
      • Citadel -- $7.49 (regularly $14.99)

      [*]The Orange Box -- $4.99 (regularly $19.99)

      [*]GRID Autosport -- $20.99 (regularly $49.99)

    Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX

    For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email [email protected]

     

    Source: GameSpot


    Valve Launches Steam Discovery Update

    IGN
    By IGN,

    Valve Launches Steam Discovery Update

    Today Valve launched the Steam Discovery Update, which revamps Steam's homepage and makes it easier to find the games you're looking for.

     

    Of the 3,700 games now available on Steam, 1,300 were added just in 2014. Valve says its new update makes it easier to discover new releases, indie games, and timeless classics amidst the huge influx of titles.

     

    The new homepage offers personalized recommendations based on your playing habits, plus it's all customizable with search fields and filters galore. A new "Discovery Queue" is populated every day with suggestions that you can follow, add to your wishlist, or purchase.

     

    You can also follow "Steam Curators," which are individuals (or groups) that publish reviews and recommendations publicly on Steam. If you fancy yourself an expert on a certain genre, you can become a Curator yourself.

     

    Continue reading…

     

    Source: IGN


    Your Favorite Killstreaks in Call of Duty's History

    IGN
    By IGN,

    Your Favorite Killstreaks in Call of Duty's History

    There is nothing more satisfying in a Call of Duty multiplayer match than reaching your favorite killstreak and raining hell on your opponents. As the franchise has evolved, the killstreaks have been tweaked and improved.

     

    To tide us over until Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is on store shelves, we decided to poll IGN users on the best killstreaks the Call of Duty franchise has had to offer.

     

    PaveLow-720x405.png

     

    The Pave Low is AI controlled and comes with 1 set of flares to avoid players from shooting it down. Although it is slower than the attack helicopter, the Pave Low comes with better armor and two gun turrets compared to the attack helicopter's one.

     

    Continue reading…

     

    Source: IGN


    Ubisoft Montreal Promises 'Radical' Changes in Watch Dogs Sequel

    IGN
    By IGN,

    Ubisoft Montreal Promises 'Radical' Changes in Watch Dogs Sequel

    In a recent interview with CVG, Ubisoft Montreal's Vice President of Creative Lionel Raynaud discussed the studio's plans for the eventual Watch Dogs sequel, noting its reception mirrors that of the first Assassin's Creed.

     

    "We had a lot of flaws in the replayability of gameplay loops and you could feel that the game

     

    was a first iteration. At the time, there was clear potential but it was not easy to know it was going to become the franchise that it is today," Raynaud said. "It's the same thing with Watch Dogs: it was difficult to do everything at the right level, which is why we took more time."

     

    Continue reading…

     

    Source: IGN


    Hack 'N’ Slash Review

    IGN
    By IGN,

    Hack 'N’ Slash Review

    The amazing thing about Hack N’Slash isn’t what it does, but how much it commits to it. At the start, it’s an amiable action-adventure with a cute gimmick. Instead of a sword, you have… well, it’s still a sword, but a sword with a USB connector that lets you hit monsters, blocks, and a few other things and play around with their variables. How far a block moves when pushed. Whether an NPC is friendly or not. Setting a guard to do negative damage so that he furiously heals you with every hit. Coupled with its funny script and charming retro aesthetic, all the pieces are in place for a clever little pastiche of adventuring that does for coding what Gunpoint did for security-system rewiring.

     

    Continue reading…

     

    Source: IGN


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