Author: Eric Hollis

Wii U

NES Remix 1 and 2

The remix part comes in with 60 plus special challenges that completely change the familiar levels and games around. Playing Donkey Kong with Link (who can’t jump) or plowing through lights-out Excitebike are just two of the awesome tweaks that make this the mode worthy of the purchase. Some of the challenges are downright brutal. For example, imagine playing Balloon Fight (aka C-List Joust) while the screen continually shrinks. The remix levels are hands down the hardest to complete, and they will certainly test your 8-bit mettle.

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Xbox 360

Dark Souls 2

One major tweak that might infuriate gamers is the new health bar reduction. When you die, a small portion of your health bar is permanently removed. The only way to restore it is with a very rare item called an effigy; these also essentially replace humanity from the first game. This new twist on the formula made me a lot more cautious at first, but eventually I just learned to function with half a health bar at all times.

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Xbox 360

World of Tanks

If you love blowing up tanks with other tanks, you couldn’t ask for a better game. While the content is a little dumbed down from the PC version, you still can choose between multiple vehicles from American, German, and British stables. Upgrading said vehicles can become a chunky grind. Even if you are willing to throw down real cash for a new ride, you still have to play multiple matches with each vehicle to move to the next tier.

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Xbox 360

Reflections: Titanfall Beta

Ejecting out of your Titan while it turns into a nuclear bomb and torches your opponent is absolutely thrilling. You can actually sabotage Titans while in soldier mode which keeps the playing field a little more even. My favorite moment over the 25 matches I participated in was ejecting out of my Titan, launching my would-be Titan-jacker into the air, and then shooting him in the face before I hit the ground. I’ve never played a game where I could do that.

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Xbox One

Killer Instinct

All in all, Killer Instinct is pretty disappointing for a next-gen release, especially since the game is a glut of microtranscations. If you want the full game, it’s a standard twenty bucks. You can also just buy the individual characters if you want, which would be really cool if there were more than seven to choose from. If you want everything the game has to offer, which basically boils down to a couple of aesthetic character accessories and a playable version of the original KI, prepare to double-up on that Andrew Jackson. The only thing I was interested in besides the core game was the original that, unlike everything else, isn’t available separately. This fact, my friends, is worthy of ire right there.

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Xbox 360

Grand Theft Auto 5

The world of Los Santos is so gorgeously detailed I found myself following random pedestrians on the street just to hear their side of hilarious cell phone conversations. A couple of the radio commercials and conversations made me laugh so hard I paused mid-mission just to hear the end of them. Other games have shown similar levels in depth of world, but none of them have made me feel like the city existed without me playing the game.

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Xbox 360

Payday 2: The Heist

The most enjoyable way to play Payday 2 is with three of your friends who actually use microphones. When the missions are pulled off flawlessly you will feel extremely satiated as a player, but communication and precise planning are necessary, even on some of the easier and shorter selections. One stupid mistake can cost you an entire run, and this will happen 99.9 percent of the time you even attempt, making robberies that don’t end up turning into the last act of Dog Day Afternoon both extremely rare and immensely rewarding.

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Xbox 360

Star Trek

Star Trek was always about helping your fellow man (or alien); the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, ect. Apparently, the many all need to be repeatedly shot point blank in the face because other then a few random tricorder readings that’s basically all you accomplish. Sure, you are encouraged to set phasers to stun and then knock out your enemies, but when you can just dispatch them safely from behind cover with zero penalty then what is exactly the point besides painfully shoehorning some of the familiar trappings of the series?

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Xbox 360

Runner 2: Legend of Rhythm Alien

Runner 2 might as well be a checklist of how to do everything correctly in a video game. The gameplay is extremely accessible and enjoyable, coupled with eye pleasing, unique graphics and an amazing soundtrack. Difficulty in the game gradually scales but is unbelievably fair; you start off with a simple selection of moves and then slowly learn all of the combinations required to be successful. There’s also some great humor (the hardest thing to pull off in gaming) and some phenomenal references mixed in to the package that I wouldn’t dare spoil here.

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Xbox 360

Dead Space 3

The major issue I had with the game is one I didn’t anticipate: the writing. The game starts off strong but during the midpoint I almost started cringing at some of the dialogue and directions the characters are taken in. Without entering into spoiler territory, essentially Ellie, the girl who you risked your ass (and sanity) to save in Dead Space 2 has moved on to another mate who is basically the equivalent of the douchey blonde villain in so many eighties movies.

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Xbox 360

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Fan service is also prevalent here; many more characters are featured this time around, including the Dinobots, the Combaticons, Metroplex, and the Insecticons. I actually felt like I had been sucked into an eighties toy commercial every time a new character appeared. Hardcore Transformer fans should really find a lot to enjoy here, before I played the game I couldn’t distinguish Swindle from Onslaught, so fans of the source material will really enjoy all of the love taken with the character choices.

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Xbox 360

Skylanders: Giants

Each Skylander represents one of eight different “elements” like fire, wind, technology, or undead. The levels are divided with multiple gates and hidden areas that can only be accessed by certain elements, meaning in order to fully unlock everything the game has to offer you must own at least one character from every element. If you are defeated, the only way to continue the level is by swapping out figures on the fly, making the game near impossible with only the starter set, but very manageable with a stable of Skylanders figures at your disposal.

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Modern PC Gaming

The Walking Dead: Episodes 1-5

Much like previous Telltale Games, you use a four tied conversation tree that corresponds with each direction of your control pad. Unlike previous titles, however, in The Walking Dead all of your choices are timed (and some you only have mere seconds to make). There is absolutely zero backtracking to see different options or outcomes. This gives each of the choices a weight that just didn’t exist in similar point and click adventure games; once you make a decision, you are stuck with it unless you restart the entire chapter.

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Arcade Games

Midway Arcade Origins

Thankfully I was able to get a lot of enjoyment out a few of the included offerings. Joust and Joust 2 hold up extremely well, as do Satan’s Hollow, Robotron 2084, Spy Hunter, Rampage, and both Gauntlet games (just don’t shoot the food!). Two titles I’d never played before, Wizard of Wor and Bubbles, ended up being my favorites. Smash TV and its sequel Total Carnage also play well with a modern controller, and they still serve as a reminder that most of these games were simply designed to get one more quarter out of the pocket of your Kangaroos. This is certainly a staunch contrast from the “save anywhere, unlimited lives” mentality that permeates game design today.

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Xbox 360

Hitman: Absolution

Multiplayer (a first for the series) also feels very adaptable. Campaign levels are opened up sandbox style; any NPC on the map can be chosen as a target and then sent to your respective friends list. Gamers can place restrictions on the assassinations; you can compete with your friends to see who can complete the hits most efficiently based on the parameters dictated by another player. This adds an even greater level of replay to the game, and it also welcomes the creative contributions of gamers. Hundreds of thousands of player-made challenges have already been uploaded, giving play time a durability that previous entries in the series failed to achieve.

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