Monthly Archives: November 2014 - Page 2

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Review

It is 2:00 a.m., my right thumb is sore and my brain is fried, yet I cannot sleep–not just yet. I am staring at two numbers in the millions, one of which is higher than the other. The higher number belongs to a colleague at another publication. By day, we are friends and peers; by night, we participate in a grueling display of one-upsmanship and vain preening, working to best each others’ Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions scores. And I cannot abide by this discrepancy. Clearly, I must prove my superiority.

Geometry Wars 3 is about that endless quest to best friends and strangers. As you work your way through the single-player progression or toy around with the returning modes from Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 and its predecessor, your focus may be on the onscreen fireworks display, but it’s the promise of rising up the leaderboards that compels you. You use the left stick on your controller to move your minimalist vessel across the playing grid; you use the right to shoot a constant stream of projectiles in whatever direction you push. Green diamonds, yellow arrows, purple pinwheels, and all sorts of other geometric structures swarm you from every side, each shape following a particular pattern through space. Your brain and your thumbs are fully engaged with the process of mowing them down to the point that mind and muscle become one. You react to events before you understand them, yet there is a miniscule segment of your gray matter always devoted to the score you hope to reach.

Score-chasing is rarely so elegant. Numerical goals are always visible on screen, and should a level end before you meet your challenge, it’s quick and easy to restart the stage and try again. Yet while the promise of gloating over your friends is primary to Geometry Wars 3’s appeal, that appeal would be diminished were the action itself not so refined. This dual-stick shooter controls like a dream, responding to your nudges and wiggles with exceptional grace. All the while, the soundtrack recalls Jan Hammer and Daft Punk, forcing you ever onward while giving even the early seconds of each level a sense of nervous urgency.

You could have described the awesome Geometry Wars 2 with similar praise, and that game’s best modes are represented once again, all under the guise of “Classic Mode.” Evolved is a time-honored tradition among shooter-lovers and loses little of its chaotic seductiveness. It’s Pacifism that remains the most interesting of the returning styles, however, in that it removes shooting from the Euclidean equation entirely and has you traveling through neon gates that explode when you travel through them, and in the process, take down the alarming number of the pulsing cyan prisms pursuing you. The mode may be called Pacifism, but you aren’t likely to feel very peaceful while you play. Success here means taking dangerous chances, allowing dozens of shapes to encircle you in the hopes of annihilating great numbers of them at once. Or, perhaps, zooming through the cloud of blue detritus that those shapes leave behind when destroyed, and cursing the busy visuals that obscure the perils that lurk behind the proliferating particles.

Good luck on the global leaderboards! Get it? Get it?

Adventure Mode is at the forefront, however, and it is the mode that most deviates from the Geometry Wars formula. For one, it provides structural progression, granting you currency that you then spend on drones (and drone upgrades). Drones accompany you as you flit about the arena, perhaps adding to your firepower, perhaps sniping foes from a distance, perhaps collecting the green geoms that vanquished shapes leave behind. Then there are supers, special abilities that join your arena-clearing bomb, and have you dropping mines, spewing out homing missiles, or placing a highly powerful automatic turret. Adventure Mode’s other deviation is in the levels themselves, which are no longer just flat arenas, but wrap into three-dimensional constructs. Some arenas take the form of globes; others are shaped like peanuts or cylinders. Sometimes, additional idiosyncrasies are mixed in, such as walls that gradually close in on you, or bosses that belch aggressive geometry and chase you around the playing field.

Both diversions change Geometry Wars in fundamental ways. Where the unlock system is concerned, not all players are on level ground when playing a stage. You won’t have the same abilities the first time you play a stage as you might when you return to it to shoot for a higher score. This adjustment inspires you to return once you’ve earned powerful drones–but it also strikes at the heart of the series. One of Geometry Wars 2’s greatest assets was its purity: it was by skill, and skill alone, that you triumphed. There’s less joy in rising to the top of the leaderboards when most of the players lurking under you conquered the level with lesser equipment. I glowed when I saw my name at the top of Adventure Mode’s very first stage, but I didn’t really earn my place at the head of the table. Classic Mode grants you a more accurate picture of your abilities, and though those leaderboards might crush your soul, it’s a great pleasure to claw your way to the top–a pleasure Adventure Mode doesn’t duplicate in spite of its own natural addictiveness.

The soundtrack recalls Jan Hammer and Daft Punk, forcing you ever onward while giving even the early seconds of each level a sense of nervous urgency.

The wraparound levels are home to some creative challenges. In many cases, the arrangement and order of the shapes that spawn into the arena are fixed, thus establishing specific gameplay rhythms. A stage might have you continuously zipping around a volumetric curve, carefully navigating a cube that flips around as you approach its edges, or avoiding oscillating platforms that destroy you with a single touch. Discovering how to exploit these rhythms is one of Geometry Wars 3’s great challenges, for it’s in that rhythm that is hidden that elusive high score. This is an uncommon brand of trial and error in the series, Waves mode notwithstanding, for you are rewarded just as much for your ability to recognize and memorize patterns as you are for your quick reactions to the game’s variables.

Geometry Wars 3 is absorbing regardless, though I can’t in good faith claim that its additions make this sequel surpass its predecessor. Concerns of equal footing among players aside, some quirks also poke at the elements that made Geometry Wars 2 a case study in arcade austerity. In King Mode, for example, the circles that signal a safe space have been stretched into three-dimensional domes, complete with unnecessary rotating details, whose boundaries aren’t as clear as they should be. Elsewhere, the returning red-and-blue diamonds that prove so often deadly in late-game fireworks no longer announce their presence via sound effects, leading to deaths that don’t feel particularly fair, in part because the entirety of the stage doesn’t appear on screen, and thus the shape’s sudden appearance leaves no time to react. In the past, the series’ visual clutter came from the vibrant particles that painted the screen. Now, it’s the 3D visualizations, tilting surfaces, and warping effects that prove distracting, and often more so.

Power-ups come in the form of power states, which temporarily increase your firepower, draw geoms to you automatically, or aid you in some other way.

You can crank up the distractions (and the tension) in four-player cooperative play, which leads you through a mini-adventure of its own, as well as a bit of squabbling as you face the fun (and challenging) mode-ending boss. (Sadly, there is no cooperative Classic Mode.) Your dreams of online cooperation still go unrealized, but you can still take the enjoyment online in the form of two different competitive modes, which pit two teams of up to four players against each other in a high-score showdown. These modes are sadly underpopulated to the extent that you might not find a match, which is a shame, considering how unusual and energetic they are. In Stock Mode, for instance, you must gather ammo drops to beat a crystalline boss, which means you and your opponents remain in constant motion, battling not only to survive and collect, but also to reduce each others’ collective ammo pools. There is consolation here, however: online battles are a blast even when you’re competing in lonely teams of one player each.

But it’s the leaderboard competition that remains at the heart of the series, in spite of Geometry Wars 3’s tweaking and twisting of the blueprint. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 remains an almost-perfect example of its genre; Geometry Wars 3, in its reliance on unlockables, feels less confident in its foundation, adding embellishment where none was needed. My thumb, however, stands testament to the game’s greatness, throbbing in pain as I enter the seventh consecutive hour of geometric action. Tomorrow, I will look at my swollen digit and promise myself to lay off the Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions. But such are the game’s absorbing attributes that I will break that promise before the day passes.

SPOILERS Hidden Ending – Far Cry 4

How to get the alternate finale at the end of Far Cry 4.

GS News – Steam Sale Details; Free Far Cry 4 for AC Unity Owners!

Ubisoft is dishing out free DLC and games due to AC Unity’s rocky launch, and Bungie says games like Destiny will change the game review process.

Top 5 Things To Do in GTA V First Person

The reissued GTA V is stunning, but the first person mode is something special. Here’s our Top 5 things to do in Grand Theft Auto V’s first person mode.

Tales from the Borderlands: Behind the Review – The Lobby

Alexa’s first game review at GameSpot was for Tales from the Borderlands, giving the game an impressive nine. She explains some of her reasons for the score, and answers the question: Does the game appeal to Borderlands fans?

Star Citizen Rockets Past $63 Million

The crowdfunding campaign for Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts’ upcoming PC space sim, Star Citizen, has now surpassed $63 million. This is up from $61 million notched just two weeks ago.

To date, more than 661,000 people have backed Star Citizen. The game is the most crowdfunded project of any kind in history. Roberts is hopeful the title can reach $100 million during its lifetime.

Star Citizen’s original Kickstarter campaign ended nearly two years ago, with further funding later shifting to the game’s official website, where the bulk of contributions have been made.

Developer Cloud Imperium Games says Star Citizen is hoping to be the first AAA game developed with money from fans instead of a big-name publisher. It seems well on its way to achieving that goal.

For more on Star Citizen and Roberts himself, check out part one and part two of GameSpot’s interview with the legendary designer.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Gaming Deals: Titanfall for $5, The Evil Within for $20, and More

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We’re only two days away from Black Friday, but you can already get some amazing deals. Steam has kicked off its Exploration-themed Fall sale, Microsoft has a huge pre-Black Friday sale with up to 75 percent of on Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, and Origin is discounting over 200 PC games.

Even Blizzard, which doesn’t discount its games as often, is offering Diablo III for $20, World of Warcraft (including the first four expansions) for $5, and more.

Below you’ll find today’s best deals divided by platform:

PlayStation 4

Sony is discounting co-op games like Rayman Legends, Far Cry 3, and many others by as much as 80 percent in its PlayStation Store co-op sale. Full details on this promo are available here.

Walmart is offering a $50 gift card with a PS4 or the white PS4 Destiny bundle. You can also save up to $44 on a PS4 that comes with camera, and choose between a regular PS4 or the white Destiny bundle, one additional game, and your choice of controller: white, black, or blue.

In Europe only, Sony is holding a PSN sale with up to 60 percent off games like Sniper Elite III, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Thief, InFamous: Second Son, and many more. You can find the full list of discounted games on the PlayStation Blog.

Xbox One

Microsoft has a huge pre-Black Friday sale with up to 75 percent of on Xbox One and Xbox 360 games as well as hardware bundles and accessories. Find our full breakdown of what’s available here.

This week’s Deals with Gold also includes more games and add-ons than usual, with 40 percent off Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition, 30 percent off Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, and more. You can find a complete list of discounts here.

Save up to $30 on various Xbox One bundles at Walmart.

PC

Steam’s Exploration-themed Fall sale kicked off today, and will last through December 2. Here are some highlights available for the next 48 hours:

Origin is offering over 200 titles at up to 75 percent off, including the Mass Effect Trilogy for $15, Titanfall for $5, and more. You can check out the entire list on Origin here

Blizzard Entertainment has rolled out its pre-Black Friday deals:

If you don’t mind installing Arc, you can get Torchlight for free.

Green Man Gaming is offering a 25 percent discount on hundreds of game with the code 1MZ9FW-H92JSD-2CT74F. You can use it to buy the recently released Dragon Age: Inquisition, or preorder Total War: Attila, which we just learned will launch on February 17.

Wii U

Target will give you a $25 gift card when you buy a 32 GB Nintendo Wii U Deluxe Set with Super Mario 3D World and Nintendo Land for $300.

3DS

Hardware

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg.

For all of GameSpot’s news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Watch New Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Exo Zombies Trailer Now

Activision and Sledgehammer Games today released a new trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare‘s Exo Zombies mode, showing off how the popular gametype plays in a future setting.

Check out the trailer above to see how things shake out (hint: all hell breaks loose).

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The first chapter in a season of Exo Zombies content will launch in January 2015 included with Advanced Warfare’s Havoc expansion pack. You can buy the DLC by itself for $15 or through the game’s $50 DLC pass.

Activision says it will release more information about Exo Zombies in the coming weeks. But for now, Sledgehammer teases that the zombies in Advanced Warfare represent a “new breed” of undead.

“As things were wrapping up around launch, we started playing around with the idea of what happens when zombies were thrown into the mix with exoskeleton gameplay,” Sledgehammer said in a blog post today. “What we came up with is Exo Zombies–an entirely new breed of zombies and an entirely new co-op experience that is truly unique to Advanced Warfare.”

Advanced Warfare launched earlier this month and has become the “biggest entertainment launch” of 2014, outpacing all other games and movies. For more on Advanced Warfare, check out GameSpot’s review.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Geometry Wars 3, Tales from the Borderlands – The Lobby

This week on The Lobby we have Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, Tales from the Borderlands, and our spin on The Console Dating Game! Join the chat and get a chance at winning our PlayStation Experience giveaway! Live Stream begins at 2pm PT.

Original PS Vita Ads Were Misleading, US Government Agency Says

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The Federal Trade Commission announced today that Sony Computer Entertainment America will settle false advertising claims related to the technical abilities of the PlayStation Vita. The ads in question date back to the portable’s US launch campaign in late 2011 and early 2012, and have to do with the Vita’s Remote Play, cross-platform, and cross-save features (see below).

As part of Sony’s settlement with the FTC, the PlayStation company is prohibited from making similarly misleading claims going forward, and it must refund affected gamers. Under the terms of the settlement, anyone who bought a Vita before June 1, 2012 will be eligible for a $25 cash or credit refund, or a $50 merchandise voucher for PlayStation games and services.

“The FTC will not hesitate to act on behalf of consumers when companies or advertisers make false product claims” — FTC director Jessica Rich

If that’s you, you don’t need to take any action, as Sony will send emails to eligible consumers after the FTC and Sony officially complete their settlement. The FTC said in a statement that it’s important to hold companies accountable for the claims they make in advertising.

“As we enter the year’s biggest shopping period, companies need to be reminded that if they make product promises to consumers–as Sony did with the ‘game changing’ features of its PS Vita–they must deliver on those pledges,” FTC director of consumer protection Jessica Rich said in a statement. “The FTC will not hesitate to act on behalf of consumers when companies or advertisers make false product claims.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, Sony claimed the Vita would “revolutionize gaming mobility” by allowing users to enjoy PlayStation 3 titles using Remote Play and take advantage of cross-platform play and cross-saves. But the FTC concluded that these assertions were misleading.

Killzone 3

“Sony claimed, for example, that PS Vita users could pause any PS3 game at any time and continue to play the game on their PS Vita from where they left off,” the FTC said. “This feature, however, was only available for a few PS3 games, and the pause-and-save capability described in the ads varied significantly from game to game.”

“For example, with respect to MLB 12: The Show, consumers could only save the game to the PS Vita after finishing the entire nine-inning game on their PS3,” it goes on. “In addition, Sony failed to inform consumers that to use this feature, purchasers had to buy two versions of the same game–one for their PS3 and one for the PS Vita.”

The FTC’s complaint further alleges that Vita ads falsely stated that gamers who owned a 3G Vita could take advantage of online multiplayer over the network, when in fact this is not true. The complaint goes on to say that Vita ads falsely informed gamers about the extent of Remote Play support for PS3 games.

“Sony also misled consumers by falsely claiming that PS Vita users could remotely play the popular PS3 game, Killzone 3, on the PS Vita,” the FTC said. “In fact, Sony never enabled Remote Play on its Killzone 3 game title, and very few, if any, PS3 games of similar size and complexity were remote playable on the PS Vita.”

The FTC has also filed a complaint against the advertising firm behind the Vita ads, Deutsch LA, saying the company is also responsible for misleading consumers through the ad campaign.

GameSpot has reached out to PlayStation for comment and will update this story with anything we hear back.

For more on this case, check out the FTC’s full complaints against Sony and Deutsch LA.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com