Undead Darlings Launches on Kickstarter

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Have you ever woken up from an alcohol-induced coma just to have your father tell you it’s the end of the world, and that he has the cure for the zombie apocalypse? Me neither. But there is alway the chance you can play a game like that. A new Kickstarter has caught our eye from Mr. Tired Media: Undead Darlings ~no cure for love~.

Undead Darlings is a "visual-novel-dungeon-crawler-RPG developed in the West with a Japanese aesthetic,” says their Kickstarter page. The game includes over 20 floors of dungeons to explore, a loot system, and what Mr. Tired Media is calling the “Exponential Exploitation (EE) System; A system that stacks damage based on enemy weaknesses. You can also unlock some great CGs as you play—who doesn’t love some cute anime CGs? The early-bird special is only $25, so snag it while you can. The game has some great looking artwork and is worth checking out of you're a fan of the genre.

News by: Mike Ackerman

E3 Microsoft Unveil Minecraft for HoloLens

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Since its inception in 2009, Minecraft has been delighting gamers with its engaging brand of sandbox freedom across PC, console and mobile platforms. The now iconic game, in which players construct and explore their own virtual 3D reality, has come a long way since then, granting even greater levels of freedom and creativity. Crucially, Minecraft has evolved to allow players to interact and play together within a single virtual world. Through player-hosted servers using providers such as 1&1, Minecraft enthusiasts can band together to create, explore, and even cooperate to survive in the wilderness.

But can you imagine how utterly amazing it would be to transform your living room into this immersive world? At E3 recently, Microsoft unveiled how their HoloLens can make this dream a reality, well, a virtual reality. For those of you who haven’t already heard, the HoloLens is essentially a stand-alone computer in the form of a headset, allowing high definition holograms to integrate seamlessly with your surroundings. Having only been announced in January, the jury’s out on whether it will become a complete success or feature on a list like this in the future, but it’s certainly a thrilling prospect.

Combining this augmented reality technology with a tailor-made version of Minecraft yields pretty staggering results. Not only can you immerse yourself visually in your fantasy land, thanks to the gorgeous holographic visuals, but the HoloLens also allows you to interact with the game using verbal and physical commands. Your surroundings are entirely yours to manipulate – one minute you can be playing in 2D on a holographic screen on your wall and the next, by simply uttering "place world”, as you watch your Minecraft world sprawl across your table, shelves, floor, or wherever you like!

Then, you can have a good look around by tugging the world around with your fingertips, as if you were a god surveying your kingdom. Practically anything is possible - zoom in, zoom out, bird’s eye view, 360 degrees, and even lifting the entire world up to see what’s lurking beneath. What’s more, the potential control also extends to interacting with the virtual world rather than merely changing your perspective on it. Create sign posts, dictate the text they display and even keeping in the god-like spirit, cast lightning bolts purely by looking at your target and uttering the command.

As for when we can actually expect to use the HoloLens, Microsoft have remained characteristically tight-lipped. It would be a reasonable guess to suppose that it will arrive around the time of the final version of Windows 10, due for release late this year. However, only time will tell when this remarkable bit of tech will be available to Minecraft buffs, eager to experience the latest development of this beloved sandbox game.

Game Accessories Have Evolved ... And These Are Awesome!

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“Drink back your childhood.” That’s the slogan for a new project on Kickstarter: Bartendo Line by Ink Whiskey. Back in 2013, Ink Whiskey brought the world the first flask that looked like an NES game cartridge. Now they are seeking funding for a whole slew of new NES, alcohol-drinking paraphernalia.

Bartendo has made ice cube trays that resemble the Triforce, green shot glasses that look like pipes from Mario, a bottle opener that looks a whole lot like the NES Zapper and “The Kega Man Double Pint,” that might as well be called “Mega Man’s Buster.” Of course, it could just be me. So if you’re reading this Nintendo, the similarities might just be my brain thinking back to some of my fondest childhood memories, and not some possible IP infringement.

News by: Mike Ackerman

Payday 2: Crimewave Edition Review

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People play video games for different reasons. Some play as means of socializing with their friends, some to relieve their frustrations on complete strangers, while others seek unaccompanied escapism. With the entire industry shoving multiplayer and social aspects down our throats, I sometimes feel like I belong to a dying breed of gamers…those who still play games to step away from constantly being connected. Looking at all the trailers for next generation titles, the single-player experience seems nearly extinct. There are fewer and fewer games like Skyrim, The Witcher 3 and The Last of Us, and virtually every release these days carries frighteningly similar multiplayer modes with very few variations to the formula. A few exceptions aside, the differences between most multiplayer ventures are indistinguishable. 

Fundamentally, I have nothing against multiplayer, but it seems that every competitive match I’ve played in the last decade has resulted in some enraged teen throwing a tantrum fit and ruining everyone’s fun. So why am I bringing this up? Well, because Payday 2 happens to be one of those rare exceptions where the developers decided to alter the playing field. It's a wonderful rarity that encourages (well, more like forces) cooperative teamwork, and despite its abysmal technical shortcomings, it’s one of the finest multiplayer titles I’ve played in years.

This is my first outing with the Payday franchise. Having spent only five minutes with the original Payday, I can’t say I went into the remastered sequel knowing what to expect. The premise is simple. Four players team up to descend on a crime spree by picking from 30+ available heists spread across the Washington DC map (more if you count the added DLC). Whether you’re robbing a bank, a jewelry store, destroying valuables in a mall or breaking into a nightclub, the mission diversity is impressive and serves as the perfect playground for players to learn the true meaning of teamwork.

"Whether you’re robbing a bank, a jewelry store, destroying valuables in a mall or breaking into a nightclub, the mission diversity is impressive and serves as the perfect playground for players to learn the true meaning of teamwork."

You can’t win in Payday 2 unless you are a team player. If you plan on trolling, Payday 2 is your worst nightmare. The entire experience is designed around covering your team’s back and strategizing heists cooperatively. When your teammates are down, you have seconds to reach them before they’re arrested. Add to that the nonstop resetting safe drills, and you find yourself constantly running back and forth between rescuing your buddies and securing loot.

Heists can be tackled either stealthily or with guns blazing. Since you begin with very basic skills and no additional weapon mods, your early heists are more likely to turn into war zones. This creates a surprisingly realistic sense of progression as you grow into a more skilled robber and acquire enough experience to complete missions without ever alerting the police. It may seem impossible at first…and it’s certainly tough as hell, but the sense of accomplishment is unparalleled. As you gain skill points, you can invest in any of the four available professions: Technician, Enforcer, and Ghost. Each offers deep customization trees with interchangeable skill points allowing you to shape a character that’s precisely suited for your playing style.

To get the most out of Payday 2: Crimewave Edition, it’s best to play with people you know. Being able to play with four diversely skilled robbers versus matching up with random players online makes a big difference when planning your heists. Playing with a headphone set and a crew of close friends makes heists feel realistic and immersive, whereas playing with strangers that don’t like communicating can lead to some very unpleasant scenarios. In a way, your experience is only be as good as your co-op partners, and that’s ultimately Payday’s both strength and weakness.

"Why is Payday 2: Crimewave Edition running at 30 fps? This isn’t a demanding game, and the low frame rate makes the already sloppy visuals look even worse."

Payday 2 requires a ton of commitment to succeed. Weapon upgrades are absurdly expensive and you might find yourself playing for hours just to purchase a silencer or a larger clip. Additionally, if you remove any of the mods and decide to re-add them later on, you have to pay the full price again. This is incredibly frustrating and detrimental to the overall experience. 

But strange design choices aside, it’s the technical shortcomings that cause the most problems. Aside from the extremely outdated graphics and horrendous framerate judder, there are numerous glitches constantly interrupting the immersion. Clipping issues…audio bugs…every gameplay session introduces some unexpectedly nasty surprises. On more than one occasion, cops were getting stuck inside walls, deeming them invincible and forcing a mission restart. Other times the audio would go bonkers with the characters’ voices sounding like there were echoing inside a tunnel. It may be something the developers can fix with a future patch, but the current state of the game is a little too rough around the edges. Why is Payday 2: Crimewave Edition running at 30 fps? This isn’t a demanding game, and the low frame rate makes the already sloppy visuals look even worse.

"Payday 2 is currently available on Steam’s summer sale for only $4.99, so the $40 price tag on consoles isn’t a particularly appealing deal."

Despite the bumpy production values, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is one of the most thrilling multiplayer games I’ve played in a long time, and this is coming from someone who typically likes to game solo. The emphasis on cooperative gameplay is a nice change of pace and there’s plenty of content here to keep you playing for a really long time. Payday 2 is currently available on Steam’s summer sale for only $4.99, so the $40 price tag on consoles isn’t a particularly appealing deal. However, if you don’t own a gaming rig and are looking for some frantic, cooperative multiplayer action, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is a worthy investment. 

Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 4


The Definitive Mobile Gaming Checklist

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Phones have come a long way and so have the games we play on them. Mobile gaming was actually something of a joke for many years because while console tech rocketed forward mobile games still looked ridiculously retro. Now between today's higher-end graphics, better-quality audio, boosted speed and enhanced touch screen responsiveness, phones are becoming many players' go-to gaming devices. There's still room for improvement in the mobile space, but the gap between phone and console is closing and mobile gaming is set to become a $40 billion industry by 2017.

Which is exciting – expect to see more titles from developers both big and small for players of all stripes – but doesn't negate the aforementioned room for improvement. There are plenty of gamers for whom phones and tablets aren't their first choice for gaming. Tiny characters, touch screen blunders, fast-draining batteries and tinny sound are usually to blame, but the good news is these obstacles aren't insurmountable. With a few choice accessories the emphasis of the mobile gaming experience is less about mobility and more about games. Here's a list of must-haves:

An Amazing Device
Start at the beginning and don't skimp. So many of today's new titles were designed to look and play their best on devices with a dual- or quad-core processor, high def displays and stereo speakers. Multiple cores mean visuals, speed and sound will all be there, whatever game it is you're firing up. Even better, choosing a solid device with a dual- or quad-core processor may let you “future proof” your phone or tablet so you can play the games of tomorrow without upgrading. 

An External Controller
The touch screens on the market today are more responsive than ever but serious gamers know that nothing beats the feel of analog. The MOGA Pocket Controller is finger-friendly, budget-friendly at just $30 and backpack-friendly (i.e., durable), too. The controller, which feels like the standard Xbox One model, comes with a case and access to a library of games including titles like GTA and Call of Duty. Alternatively, try Logitech's PowerShell for iPhone, which packs console-style controls and a 1500 mAh battery into a very slim package. 

A Sound Solution
At home you can hear the action through whatever wireless sound system you have set up but outside tinny phone speakers can take all the excitement out of your favorite games. For extreme portability, you can't beat Jawbone's Mini Jambox.  It is tiny (but not tinny) at 6″ x 1″ by 2.3″ and 9 ounces and has been rated as the best micro wireless speaker by CNET. 

Extra Life
Battery life, that is. Even the best phone and tablet batteries have their limits. A serious gaming session requires serious power, making backup batteries an essential accessory. The EViO EUP 13,000mAh power bank takes time to charge up but won't run down when you're running through longer titles. Need something extra portable? The EC Technology Power Bank packs 22,400mAh into a seriously slim package so you can play longer on the go.

Quirky Add-Ons
Gaming is serious business but that doesn't mean you can't have a fun while you're at it. The Impulse Controller is the world's smallest wireless controller – picture a classic Nintendo rectangle in miniature. Game with it, use it as a remote, take at-a-distance selfies without one of those lame sticks or just find your keys. Then there's the Joystick-IT Arcade Stick, which is a slightly retro solution to touch screen finger fatigue. Slap these joysticks right onto your screen to enjoy that old school arcade experience.

Gaming and gamer are quickly coming to mean something very different than they once did thanks to changing demographics and evolving technology but hardcore gamers are still out there looking for the best experiences. Externals like these can help make mobile a little more like consoles and a lot more satisfying. 

Article by: Jessica Oaks

Is Project Cars the New Racing King?

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Founded as an independent British developer in early 2009, Slightly Mad Studios quickly gained critical acclaim as one of the top 100 most successful developers in 2010. Taking over the Need for Speed series with their Shift entry, Slightly Mad Studios flawlessly combined the franchise’s legendary arcade gameplay with a healthy dose of simulation. Many gamers compared Shift to survival horror due to its realistic first person cam and dynamic driving physics. To this day, Shift remains one of my favorite racing series, so when I found out that Shift 3 wasn’t being considered for development, I was more than disappointed. That is until I played Project Cars. Project Cars may be called a new IP (mainly for marketing purposes), but in reality, it’s the unofficial sequel to the brilliant and underappreciated Shift 2.

So, what makes Project Cars so special? What makes it better than the Forzas and Gran Turismos? What makes it the new racing king? It really comes down to one thing, and one thing only: the driving. Project Cars’ physics are unparalleled. As someone who's played every imaginable racer out there, Project Cars is the first title in years that truly “feels” different from the competition. 

Last week, I turned on Forza 5, Gran Turismo 6 and Project Cars simultaneously. I was jumping back and forth on the same course between the three games, comparing how different vehicles handle cornering, acceleration and overall handling. While both Forza 5 and Gran Turismo 6 control beautifully, there are very few vehicles that require drastically different driving strategies. I’m not just talking about the difference in handling, but the overall sensation of weight and traction between tires and various settings. Sure, both GT6 and Forza 5 manage to make the transition between a Mclaren and a BMW i3 feel substantial enough, but only Project Cars makes me appreciate the minute details. Slightly Mad Studios has done wonders in making each vehicle a completely unique experience. 

This attention to detail comes with a caveat. Project Cars isn’t for casual gamers. Heck, it may not even be for every racing fan. I’ve talked to fellow genre fans, and some of them are struggling to keep the cars on the track. Depending on your skill level, the learning curve can be brutal. Project Cars requires concentration and skill. It requires patience and a real passion for cars. If you’re not willing to re-learn driving each time you step into a new vehicle, you will most likely walk away from Project Cars disappointed. But for hardcore fans like myself, this is precisely what makes Project Cars so special. It reflects the developers’ respect for their audience. There’s no dumbing down of features, no rewind functions and pointless assists. 

Sure, you can toggle the racing line on or off, but it doesn’t take away from the experience. There are plenty of casual racers out there, but the hardcore audience has been left in the dust. Asseto Corsa and Codemasters’ latest DiRT Rally are finally taking the genre more seriously, but Project Cars is the first multi platform AAA release in years that’s finally shifting away from the “mainstream” approach to game making. Have you guys played Project Cars yet? What are your thoughts? Are you as excited about Slightly Mad Studios’ latest racer as I am, or do you still prefer titles like Forza or Gran Turismo. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Note: A retail copy of Project Cars was provided by the kind folks at Green Man Gaming.

Article by: Tin Salamunic