“Disney Infinity 3.0” is the best installment yet
Just like the Marvel Universe was a natural fit to headline last year’s edition of Disney’s “toys-to-life” video game franchise, it was a forgone conclusion that the “Star Wars” universe would play a key role in “Disney Infinity 3.0,” especially with the new film coming out later this year. But while George Lucas’ space adventure saga is undoubtedly the main draw, there’s a lot to love about the latest installment, which makes some big strides towards improving the game’s all-around experience, as well as its future potential.
1) Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars
“Star Wars” is sort of like the cinematic version of The Beatles – everyone likes it, but we all have our favorite movie/album and character/band member. Thankfully, that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the team at Disney Interactive. Though it’s a little strange that the original trilogy isn’t featured in the game’s official Starter Pack – instead, you get prequel characters Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano along with the “Twilight of the Republic” Play Set – Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia will be getting their own playable adventure (“Rise Against the Empire”) at the end of September. In addition to those four characters, you can purchase other figures individually, including fan favorites like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Darth Maul, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and most of the “Star Wars Rebels” crew, all of which are compatible with any “Star Wars”-themed Play Set.
Those with a PS4 or PS3 don’t even have to wait to play “Rise Against the Empire” thanks to an exclusive Saga Bundle that includes both Play Sets and an advanced copy of the Boba Fett figure, but if you’re in the Xbox One or Wii U camp, don’t fret, because “Twilight of the Republic” is still loads of fun. In fact, it’s a marked improvement upon the Avengers Play Set from “Disney Infinity 2.0,” with more exciting gameplay and improved combat mechanics, that basically operates like a greatest hits of locations and characters from the prequels and “Clone Wars” animated series.
2) Upgraded Toy Box features
One of the biggest complaints about previous iterations of the Toy Box was that, despite trumpeting all of the great things you can do with the software, it was incredibly confusing to use. Version 3.0 fixes most of those issues by including a central hub with specialized guides that help you along the way, as well as introduces some new tools, like farming crops that give your sidekicks abilities; a Path Creator that can be used to build theme park rides, parades and more; and a Toy Dispenser that provides instant access to toys you would otherwise have to unlock through gameplay. Additionally, there’s a new online matchmaking system located inside Flynn’s Arcade, as well as an in-game access point at the famous El Capitan Theatre for uploading and downloading customized Toy Boxes.
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2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Games
The holiday season is the video game industry’s busiest time of year, with publishers saving many of their marquee titles to release on the public like an avalanche of digital goodness. It can actually be quite overwhelming with so many different options to choose from, so we’ve done our best to put together a collection of what we feel are some of the year’s best titles, and ones that the gamer on your list will love.
Click the links to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.
After creating one of the most successful video game franchises in history, Bungie could have done pretty much whatever they wanted for their next project and it would have undoubtedly been a massive hit. Thankfully, the team behind the “Halo” series hasn’t strayed too far from its roots with this sci-fi first-person shooter, although it’s certainly a different experience due to the incorporation of role-playing and MMO elements. But while you can do things like upgrade your character’s abilities, weapons and armor, or team up with fellow players (via Bungie’s matchmaking system) to complete missions, the game is still very much a shooter at heart – one that has the benefits of co-op multiplayer without making you feel like you can’t play and progress at your own pace. The story doesn’t dig as deep into the post-apocalyptic premise as we would’ve liked, and the gameplay can get a bit repetitive at times, but “Destiny” is a deceptively enjoyable shooter with fantastic visuals, an addictive multiplayer mode and an open-ended structure that allows Bungie to continue to provide new content for many years to come.
Most video game sports franchises have gotten to the point where the truly innovative features are less about what’s on the surface than what’s underneath, and “FIFA 15” is a perfect example of how subtle changes can still make a world of difference. Though it plays very similar to last year’s edition, “FIFA 15” has gone one step further in bridging the gap between a video game and the real thing. Slide tackles and boot marks are visible on the pitch, the surface becomes more weathered as each match progresses, and crowds behave differently according to their specific club or country. Gameplay has received a few upgrades as well, including the ability to control teammates during set pieces, improved push/pull mechanics during man-to-man battles, and more accurate ball movement. There’s also a brand new intelligence system for goalkeepers that allows them to better anticipate shots and passes, while players now recognize situations (whether it’s a hard tackle or a series of bad fouls) that trigger an emotional response. And believe it or not, that’s just a taste of what “FIFA 15” has to offer, because this is arguably the most comprehensive digital soccer experience yet.
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“Sunset Overdrive” Trailer
Do you like explosions in your games? If so, you’ll love “Sunset Overdrive,” coming soon on Xbox One. It’s set in 2027 Sunset City and a contaminated energy drink has transformed most of the population into toxic mutants. This wasteland provides the setting as you get to wreak havoc with a devastating and unconventional arsenal. This game offers a wild and unique experience, with the video below giving you a glimpse of the irreverent and stylish attitude. It features hyper-agility along with customizable special abilities, so it rewrites the rules of traditional shooters. Get ready for some serious action and explosions!
2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Games
The holiday season is the video game industry’s busiest time of year, with publishers saving many of their marquee titles to release on the public like an avalanche of digital goodness. It can actually be quite overwhelming with so many different options to choose from, so we’ve done our best to put together a collection of what we feel are some of the year’s best titles, and ones that the gamer on your shopping list will love.
Click on the image next to each item to purchase it online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.
Sony PlayStation 4
Sony’s already broken launch day sales records with the PS4, meaning that getting one for the holidays won’t be easy. That’s a shame, too, as by all indications, it is one incredible piece of hardware that has developers across the industry whistling in wonder. Sony really went out of their way to address many of the complaints people had with the PS3, and the PS4 not only fixes them, but adds exciting new features like built-in live streaming capabilities and a much more versatile and comfortable controller. If you do manage to get your hands on one, be sure to download the addictive and intense shooter “Resogun” to go with it. While it may not look like much, and isn’t that long, it’s the “Geometry Wars” of the new generation, meaning you’ll be playing it over and over again and long after bigger games have begun gathering dust on your shelf. It’s the unlikely can’t-miss game of the PS4’s launch.
Microsoft Xbox One
Is the Xbox One the system for you? Well, to answer that, you first must ask yourself if its $100 increase in price over the PS4 fits your budget. If so, then buying one means getting a gaming console that has both an intense interest in becoming the centerpiece of your home theater and the capabilities to do so. The Xbox One’s ability to work harmoniously with your TV and other devices through a native interface as sleek and capable as we’ve ever seen is so incredible that you would be forgiven for momentarily forgetting that it’s also quite a gaming system. Of course, the phenomenal Day One lineup of games available for the Xbox One should go a long way to reminding you. It’s hard to choose just one to spotlight, but if you haven’t yet got your fill of zombie killing, then be sure to consider “Dead Rising 3” and its own particular over-the-top brand of undead apocalypse. Much like the PS4, though, all of this is assuming you can somehow find one. Going by the pre-order numbers, that won’t be easy.
The Last of Us
“The Last of Us” has been referred to by some in the past as the greatest “Resident Evil” game ever made, and it’s been taken as an insult. That couldn’t be further from the truth, though, as it’s a statement only meant to convey the absolutely unbelievable mix of horror, survival, plot and atmosphere you get from this game. Purchasing “The Last of Us” is like giving a toddler on a sugar rush access to all your emotional buttons. Its world of despair and terror where survival is the only reward left is the perfect setting for its cross-country journey in search of hope. There’s nothing quite like “The Last of Us” in the history of gaming and, as much as fun as the game is to play, it’s an even better experience.
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Posted in: Games, Lifestyle, Stuff to Buy
Tags: 2013 holiday gift guide, Batman: Arkham Origins, BioShock Infinite, Christmas gifts, Diablo III, FIFA 14, gift guide, gift guide for men, Holiday Gift Guide, holiday gift guide for guys, holiday gift ideas, Need for Speed Rivals, PlayStation 4, The Last of Us, video games, Xbox One
Game Review: “Lost Planet 3”
Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
There are two types of bad games. Those that try for something great and simply miss the mark, and those that just didn’t care at all and end up being the exact sum of their efforts. While “Lost Planet 3” is an example of the former, which is normally the better way to go, here it’s a frustrating case of a game with incredible potential not making the most of it.
Let’s back up a bit. “Lost Planet 3” is the return of a series that had its 15 minutes of fame during the Xbox 360 launch for featuring an impressive snow world that proved to be one of the initial examples of things that the 360 could do that wasn’t possible before.
Those amazing graphics, and some lightning fast gameplay, made the series stand out for a time, but its star faded only months after its release, and a 2010 follow-up did little to improve its standing, as it only emphasized the same elements and gameplay that by then had more than worn out their welcome.
That’s where new developer Spark Unlimited takes over for this third installment, and their designs to turn the series into something relevant are immediately apparent. A prequel to the initial games, renewed focused has now been placed on the plot, which may borrow liberally from movies like “Alien,” “The Thing,” “Starship Troopers” and other classic sci-fi staples, but is actually really, really good. Told through found audio and text logs, along with traditional cut scenes and environmental clues, it revolves largely around a new energy source on a hostile (and still very snowy) planet, and the trials your blue collar protagonist endures in his pursuit of it as a contract worker for a shady organization.
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