Trine 2: Complete Story Review (PS4): “An Adventure Worth Revisiting”

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Throughout this generation of consoles, we’ve seen numerous indie developers create games that offer unique experiences from those that are already on the market. In 2009, indie developer Frozenbyte released a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer that incorporated in-depth physics called Trine. The game received a solid amount of positive feedback, with the exception that it lacked an online co-op mode and forced those wanting to play together local only. In December of 2011, Frozenbyte released the sequel to their puzzle-platformer, Trine 2. Taking the elements of the first game, while expanding upon them in practically every department, Trine 2 was the improvement many fans of the first game appreciated. Now, with any new hardware comes the opportunity for developers to provide enhanced versions of their previously released games. Last year, we saw Trine 2: Director’s Cut hit the Wii U. This year, Frozenbyte decided to bring the Wii U’s edition to the PS4, with all the bonus content they added there. However, did Trine 2: Complete Story translate as well to the PS4 as it did the Wii U with Director’s Cut?

Trine 2 follows the events of the first game, in which we find the wizard Amadeus waking up in his home to see a glowing light piercing through his room. After going after the light, Amadeus then realizes that it is the Trine, which reunites him with Pontius (the Knight) and Zoya (the Thief). The Trine brings the heroes together once again as they’re help is needed to restore the kingdom. Along the way, the heroes will run into Rosabel, the Princess of the kingdom, and aid her with vanquishing all the evil in the land. The story is told as if someone were narrating a fairy tale, while there is some banter amongst the characters and some storybook sequences to watch. Additionally, there are poems and letters that can be found in levels that provide a bit more background to the story being told. It’s a charming story and one that evolves as you progress deeper into the game.

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There are a number of elements that Trine 2: Complete Story truly achieves. Let’s start with the gameplay. As mentioned earlier, Trine 2 is a side-scrolling, puzzle-platformer that relies heavily on physics. You’ll take control of Amadeus, Pontius and Zoya, as each one of them will excel in a variety of situations. Amadeus can conjure up mechanical blocks and planks to help the heroes traverse through the environment. He can also interact with the objects within the environment to help solve certain puzzles or further help the heroes navigate ahead. However, when it comes to battling goblins or other creatures, the wizard doesn’t quite excel here. Pontius is a all-out offense character. When it comes to combat, Pontius can clear out waves of creatures standing in the heroes’ way, whether with his trusty sword and shield or with his hammer. He can also utilize his shield to press forward through areas that have projectiles blocking your path. Zoya is more the all-range character. Her combat is more long-distance, resorting to her utilizing the bow and arrow. One of her neatest qualities is traversing with the grappling hook. You’ll be able to attach the grappling hook to any wooden object or ceiling and either climb, descend or swing your way across. As a puzzle-platformer, Trine 2 doesn’t offer a strict design in terms of solutions. There’s always a solution to an environmental puzzle, whether it’s the way the developers intended or more creative methods by the player. It’s an interesting execution, as it doesn’t restrict players from thinking a bit “outside the box” and being creative on how to advance through the levels.

Progressing through the environments, you’ll find blue experience jars that can be collected, some more difficult to nab than others. Every 50 experience points you get will grant you a Skill Point. Pressing the Minus Button, you’ll open up the Skill Tree, in which you’ll be able to distribute points amongst the three heroes. Amadeus can upgrade his conjuring ability to create up to four blocks at once, or even imprison goblins in battle. Pontius can upgrade his sword to have fire surround it for more damage, make his shield magnetic and also throw his hammer across the screen. Zoya will be able to upgrade her arrow types such as ice and explosion, while also getting a stealth ability. If, for any reason, you’re not crazy about the way you upgraded the heroes, you can reset the skill points and respec your characters. In Complete Story, each of the heroes have received an extra exclusive ability to upgrade them to. Amadeus can conjure magnetic objects to stick to each other, Pontius can use his shield to glide across chasms, and Zoya can shoot low-gravity arrows that create a field that slows everything down. Each of the heroes’ new abilities are certainly welcome additions and actually add a new element of play to the game.

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On the Wii U, Frozenbyte took advantage of utilizing the system’s GamePad functionality. With the PS4, they transferred a part of the experience by using the DualShock 4‘s touch-pad. Drawing your finger on the touch-pad, you will be able to aim projectiles and create objects with ease. While it may not feel as natural as the Wii U’s GamePad since you could actually touch where on the actual screen to make actions happen, the touch-pad works really well also.

Trine 2: Complete Story contains not only the 13 levels from the original campaign, but all the content from the Wii U’s “Director’s Cut”. This includes the six levels from the PC-exclusive “Goblin Menace” DLC, as well as the exclusive level that was only available on the Wii U. Once you complete the main campaign, you’ll go right into the Goblin Menace stages. The story continues with Amadeus’s wife being kidnapped from goblins and the heroes are under attack in the kingdom. From here, our heroes continue their quest, but to much more extravagant locales. They’ll venture through the scorching desert, floating islands, and even the insides of a beast. Personally, the stages incorporated here actually seemed to stand out a bit more than the original campaign’s. That’s not to say the original 13 levels were of lesser quality by any means, but the Goblin Menace stages were slightly more memorable. Additionally, you’ll have to find map pieces hidden in each of the Goblin Menace levels to unlock the 20th and final new level, the Dwarven Caverns. This stage serves as more of an epilogue to the two campaigns included and is a nice addition.

Throughout the game, you’ll encounter a few boss battles, which tend to get a bit intense. The bosses in this game will kill you…instantly, if you’re not quick on your feet. You normally can’t approach a boss head-on, swinging your sword like crazy and hope to win. This is a good thing, as a boss should always entail a challenge. While Trine 2’s boss aren’t “insanely” difficult, they maintain a solid challenge that will test your skills. The final boss battles in both the main campaign and Goblin Menace aren’t as difficult as the main bosses due to not being able to die instantly from them, but they’re still challenging battles that feel climatic.

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Upon beating the game, you’ll unlock a few extra features to tinker around with. For starters, you’ll unlock “Hardcore Mode”, which only allows your characters to respawn when you reach a checkpoint once. Also, it removes any mid-level saving. If all your heroes fall, it’s back to the very beginning of the level. This is more for the old-school gaming fan and those really looking to test your skills. You can also now make the Player Selection “Unlimited” so that when you play online with other people, you’re not restricted to a character that’s not in play. Speaking of the online, I’m pleased to state that the game ran smooth as butter, with not an ounce of lag. Playing the game online with a friend or two is definitely the way to go, as chances are you’ll get even more enjoyment out of the game helping each other…or laughing at each other’s mistakes. The trophy set is also much more extensive than the original’s release on PS3, offering 51 trophies now (Platinum is still included).

When it comes to the visual and audio presentation of Trine 2: Complete Story, it’s simply a spectacle. Visually, Trine 2 is absolutely beautiful, full of color, lush detail and incredibly rich texture work. This is one of those games where your jaw will hit the ground when you see how stunning the environments look. It did so when we saw the original release, it furthered that on the Wii U, and I can happily state that it continues to do so on the PS4. The visuals are in full 1080p like the Wii U edition but the enhancement here is that it runs at a smooth 60 fps. The incredibly silky smooth framerate was what really stood out the most for my experience in Trine 2: Complete Story. Ari Pulkkinen (whom is known for his exceptional soundtracks for “OutLand” and “Dead Nation”, as well as the original “Trine”) is brought on board once again to provide another great soundtrack. Whether you’re exploring the lush jungles, scorching desert, or combating enemies, each track fits perfectly in the game. Some tracks are heroic, some charming, some more engaging, and they all blend to provide a soundtrack that nails the game’s atmosphere. The voice acting is decent as well, with the game having that fairy tale feel to it. None of the characters sound “too” serious, but they don’t sound mundane either. It’s that fine line of solid voice acting for the game it’s intended to be. Sound effects are also very effective. Whether you’re hearing the environmental ambiance, the exploding arrows hitting against an enemy, the fire sword swinging away, or even the audio muffling a bit when going underwater, the attention to detail is here.

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Frozenbyte really won me over with Trine 2: Director’s Cut last year and the same remains with Complete Story. Players whom only played the original PS3 release would do very well to double-dip into Complete Story, as the Goblin Menace DLC actually surpasses the core campaign. With it’s charming story, jaw-dropping visuals, great audio, impressive physics and unique gameplay, Trine 2: Complete Story is a game that any PS4 owner can really dig into. It may be one of the pricier indie-based games available on the PSN at the moment ($19.99), but it’s well worth every penny and highly recommend it for platforming fans.

Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10 = BUY IT!

A special thank you to Frozenbyte for providing us the review copies for “Trine 2: Complete Story”! Copy tested on the PS4.

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Flower, Flow, Escape Plan, And Sound Shapes All Heading to PS4

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Recently, Sony stated that an upgraded PlayStation 4 version of Flower, flOw, Sound Shapes, and Escape Plan will hit the PSN shortly after the PS4 launches. However, the the PlayStation 4 version of Flower will now run at a smooth 60 frames per-second and in full 1080p.  Sound Shapes will be another title visually updated for the PS4 launch. However, Escape Plan and flOw will just feature reworked controls optimized for the DualShock 4. Terrifically, all four games are Cross-Buy titles, and will be available as free downloads for gamers who had previously purchased the original editions for the PlayStation 3 or PS Vita. In addition, Sony revealed that the PS Vita version of Flower will feature cross-buy support when it hits PSN this November 15th.

[Source – Playstation Lifestyle]

Atomic Ninjas Review (PS3/Vita): “Radiates Fun”

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You usually know what you’re getting when you go for a downloadable title, no matter the platform – bite-sized games with appropriately reduced prices. This isn’t to say that the downloadable market is bad in any way – it really stands in a league of its own right alongside the triple-A console market. However, you get what you pay for, and even the best gameplay experiences to be found in downloadable titles can be a bit light on content.

At least, that’s usually the case – unless you give Atomic Ninjas a try.  Developer (and publisher) Grip Games has come up with an engaging, exciting, and surprisingly bang-for-your-buck-worthy competitive multiplayer title. The game pits you (and your tiny acrobatic avatar) against up to three opponents, be they human or AI, in a race to complete a variety of objectives in a smattering of 2.5D arenas. Combat is a central part of the game, but rather than outright killing foes, your ninja makes use of a variety of weapons and gadgets to maneuver around the arena and knock opponents off the stage or into environmental hazards. Weapons and items are varied, from hard-hitting boxing gloves to swift and deadly shuriken, and grappling hooks to climbing claws and more. Killing an enemy gives you the chance to swap your hapless opponent’s weapon with your own, adding insult to injury while switching up your tactics in the process.

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It’s this randomness that stands as a core strength for the game’s fun factor, as so many elements of the game are switched from one round to the next, making it near-impossible to get bored. Games consist of a large variety of objectives, including Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, Domination, and Treasure Hunt (a deadly take on keep-away), with free-for-all and team varieties of each present, sometimes within the same match! It’s really disorienting in the best way when you’re spending a few minutes trying to kill one player, only to be paired up with them the next. Toss-ups like this keep the gameplay extremely fresh and lend tremendous replay value to a genre that relies so heavily on it. Several game-changers come into play at the most appropriate times as well, such as entering an unstoppable “Noob Rage” mode when you’ve died several times in succession, and a “Power Play” state where for a limited time, everyone respawns instantly after death.

While these random tweaks will keep you engaged in every match, it’s the advancement options that will keep you coming back for more. Players initially start with a single character and power, but can unlock more by leveling up (with experience earned through play). Powers can be strengthened by completing Ninja Challenges, which require you to fulfill certain conditions within a game, like killing 5 opponents in a round or earning 250 points from flag captures. Combining the correct powers with the right weapons and items can really boost your effectiveness, and are great no matter what your play style is.

There’s several ways to get into the fight; Both platforms support online play with up to four players, as well as offline bot-matches, but the PS3 has the edge in its ability to field up to four players in split-screen competitive play. If a Wi-Fi connection isn’t available on your Vita, you’re stuck with bot-matches. This isn’t to say they aren’t fun, though – bots put up a good enough fight to keep things interesting, but sooner or later you’ll want to go head-to-head with other human opponents. Connecting to other players is currently a bit tricky, but will get better as the Atomic Ninjas player base grows.

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It really needs to be said that while Atomic Ninjas is light on story, its whimsical writing and hilarious presentation really make for an extremely enjoyable and light-hearted experience. I was laughing out loud during the majority of the tutorial level as the NPC instructed me in the basics of Atomic Ninjas play while pelting me with outrageous criticisms and deadpan deliveries. As for the ninjas themselves, Players can choose from a quirky cast of them, from the familiar silent-but-deadly shadow warriors to a brave, stoic samurai, a wise (but senile) Kung-Fu monk, and even a zombie ninja. Each character is fully voiced and features his own unique personality quirks. Each ninja will loose his own quips during a match when killing opponents, getting hit, or meeting an early (but brief) demise. However, nothing is quite as laughable as when a player enters “Noob Rage” mode, letting loose sounds more violent and gibbering than a Call of Duty player on a death streak (sorry guys – you know who you are). Character choices aren’t just important for presentation, though – each one starts with their own weapon and item, lending to a unique gameplay style right out of the gate. These aren’t set in stone, though, and your weapons and items can be swapped on-the-fly by finding item crates in the arena and killing opponents to steal their stuff.

Atomic Ninjas features a simple but pleasant cartoon style, with bright, vibrant colors and tiny, whimsical proportions. It’s a visual treat the whole time, but at the same time, isn’t particularly jaw-dropping. That’s fine, though – less to distract you from the action. The sound is another seesaw too – the voice work, sound effects, and music are all great and really lend to the atmosphere of the game, but a couple of technical problems keep them just shy of a perfect score. While playing on the Vita, there were rare occasions where music would lose its fidelity and static would become audible, which isn’t pleasant by any means, but is thankfully rare enough, seemingly only happening at the end of a match. This seems like an issue that Grip Games can squash with a future patch. Otherwise, there really isn’t much to complain about – the game is very well-balanced, but there were a couple of occasions where a really devious player could pin me in one spot with very little I could do to retaliate. This was especially bad when an opponent caught me in a corner while in Noob Rage – I was powerless to do anything to escape until the mode wore off, and it was extremely frustrating. However, it takes a lot to get into this sort of situation, and it taught me to stay away from dead ends when an opponent starts slavering.

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Atomic Ninjas stands out as one of the most addicting, engaging, and just plain fun downloadable titles of this year. The bite-sized game sessions lend themselves perfectly to the Vita’s pick-up-and-go nature, while the randomness of each moment will hook you for hours on end. Multiplayer is this game’s watchword, and it creates an extremely fun and competitive arena for players to duke it out with each other. A couple of technical issues mar Atomic Ninjas from a perfect score, but between the solid gameplay, hilarious presentation, and pleasant visuals, Atomic Ninjas is a game you won’t want to put down.

Overall Score: 9.0 out of 10 = BUY IT!

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for Atomic Ninjas!

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“DuckTales: Remastered” Physical Version Finally Coming

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Physical gamers are rejoicing today, as DuckTales Remastered will finally be getting a physical disc and box. Last month, the PS3 got a retail box with no disc and just a PSN code for the title. The Wii U, and 360 version only received a digital iteration of the game. This will change on November 12th, as all three consoles will now receive the full physical shaabam! The game will retail for $20 in stores, just $5 more than the previous digital versions. For more news on DuckTales, stay tuned.

[Source: Capcom PR E-mail]

Cloudberry Kingdom Review (PS3/360/Wii U): “The Most Sadistically Awesome Platformer”

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Over the course of gaming history, 2D platformers have really become a staple genre that gamers of all kinds can enjoy. Ever since the days of Super Mario Bros. gracing the NES and Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis, we’ve seen a plethora of platformers impact the industry. Within the last half-decade, we’ve seen some stellar 2D platformers made by indie developers, such as Braid, Limbo and Outland. Pwnee Studios, an indie developer created by childhood friends Jordan Fisher and TJ Lutz, have worked together to bring about a 2D platformer that’s for the masochist called Cloudberry Kingdom. Is this a kingdom worth venturing?

When you start off the game’s story, you’ll be treated to a cutscene of the hero, Bob, trying to rescue the princess (where have we heard this before). However, instead of the cheery tone we’re accustomed to in Super Mario, we’re seeing that Bob is a tired, frustrated hero and that the Princess could care less that she’s being rescued from the evil king. Naturally, things aren’t so simple for Bob, as he’s thrown off a cliff by the evil king and forced to continue his tireless journey of rescuing the princess. From here, the game’s story mode begins. Cloudberry Kingdom plays precisely like you would expect a 2D platformer, with a few twists. You’ll have to traverse your way through deadly obstacles to reach the next level, with each ramping up in difficulty obstacle-wise, and each level takes only 15-40 seconds to complete. Controls are standard fare and nothing complicated by any means, with the A button used for jumping and Y button to use the exit door at the end of a level. Sounds pretty simple and straightforward enough, right? Well, here’s the thing. Bob dies in a single hit and has no weaponry to defend himself. If any obstacle or enemy hits Bob, he’s dead and it’s either back to the beginning or checkpoint. Levels are all cleverly designed to have a specific line that you can do that avoids death entirely, but I’ll touch more on that in a bit.

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Over the game’s eight chapters, there will be 40 levels of hardcore platforming action in each chapter (320 levels total). The obstacles all range from spinning fireballs, swinging spike balls, spikes that pop from the ground, lasers, etc. You’ll start off simple, just acclimating to the controls and feel of the game. However, things will quickly spin out of control when you play as various phases of Bob that change the mechanics and physics entirely. Every set of 10 levels, you’ll play as a new phase of Bob, such as Wheelie, Double Jump, Jetpack, Phase Bob, Tiny Bob, Fat Bob, Gravity Bob or even a Spaceship! For example, playing as Wheelie has Bob strapped to a stone wheel and will have the physics of a heavy wheel. Tiny Bob will make Bob gain more height, while Fat Bob makes him get less height than normal and is more prone to getting hit by an obstacle. Phase Bob will actually have Bob constantly morphing from Fat to Tiny, making traversing through levels a true challenge of timing. Playing as a Spaceship is really cool too, bringing back that feeling of playing something like R-Type or Gradius (granted you can’t shoot anything, but maneuvering it is fun).

As you traverse each level, you’ll notice there are blue crystals that can be collected. If you collect all of them in a level, you’ll get a “Perfect” status and earn an additional 10 crystals on top of what you collected. So what are the purpose of crystals you ask? Well, by pressing the X button, you’ll open up a Powerup Menu, which allows you to purchase a specific item to help you out with completing a level. The first item, which looks like “Terminator” Bob has you watch a video of the level to see the perfect path and timing you need to complete the level. The second item (which costs the most amount of crystals) will actually show you the exact path you need to take, as well as a dark object that goes along it to show you the exact timing of the path you should take. This item proved to be immensely helpful, especially with the precision required in later levels. The last item is a time clock that enables slow-motion, making everything except Bob move at a crawl. These items definitely help in their own respects and I never felt the need to be stingy with cashing in crystals for them since you keep collecting them.

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Aside from the game’s Story Mode, you will have access to Arcade and Free Play modes as well. In Arcade, you can choose between four different modes: Escalation, Time Crisis, Hero Rush, and Hybrid Rush. Escalation is essentially endurance, where you’re given 15 lives to start with and must get through as many levels as possible. You can get extra lives by collecting set amounts of crystals during the run. Time Crisis starts you off with 15 seconds to last before Bob explodes. As you race to the exit of each level (which are much shorter than usual), you must collect crystals to add precious time to the clock. Hero Rush and Hybrid Rush are much like Time Crisis mode, but both with distinct ways to play. Hero Rush has Bob changing his phase type in every level, while Hybrid Rush has Bob shifting into a combination of phases per level (such as being Wheelie and Phase Bob at the same time).

Free Play has a more customizable aspect to it. You’ll be able to choose a location, game type, hero style, difficulty, length of the level and how many checkpoints you’d like. The difficulty can not only be adjusted for players of any level, but can be completely customized to your liking. Want an incredibly simple level that has not a single obstacle? You can do it. Want a level that has more objects on screen that seems like there’s almost no room to move through? You can most certainly have that as well. The game’s AI has been designed to randomly generate a level that’s 100% beatable, which is incredibly impressive. Another customizable feature that’s really fun to play around with is Hero Factory. Here, you will actually customize the base, jump type and shape of Bob, while also tweaking every attribute to a tee, such as the acceleration, max speed, size, gravity, falling speed, jump length, number of jumps, etc. You can even fine tune your settings by testing it before going into the actual level. The options are simply endless.

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Cloudberry Kingdom is a vicious game in terms of difficulty, but why play it alone? You can have up to 4 people playing at once, all racing their way to the exit of these challenging stages. Each player can even customize Bob the way they want him to look. Whether they change the color of his suit, what kind of beard he has, his cape color (or no cape at all), and even the lining of his cape, there’s a solid amount to customize. I came across someone’s screenshot on the Miiverse where they practically replicated the look of Dr. Robotnik (sorry, his name is not Dr. Eggman in my book) from Sonic the Hedgehog. Playing in multiplayer makes this already chaotic game even more chaotic, but is an absolute blast. There’s even a co-op mode in Free Play where all the players are tethered together and must coordinate with each other to reach the end of the level. This alone will provide plenty of good laughs amongst friends.

Visually, Cloudberry Kingdom has a “flash” look to it, with very clean and vivid colors, as well as fluid animations. Environments and characters are nicely designed and the game itself runs incredibly smooth, never dropping the frame rate at all. The only odd animation that seems unpolished was Bob’s double jump, which had zero animation to it and was simply a “standing” animation while moving up. Cutscenes have a different visual style, representing a paper mache look. It’s actually pretty cool and works quite well for the visual aesthetic. Audio wise, this game has a bumpin’ soundtrack that’ll definitely engage the player further into the game. The soundtrack was composed by Blind Digital and Peacemaker…and damn is it a sweet soundtrack. They provide techno tunes that really get you pumped for wanting to complete a level. As I type this review, I’m listening to “Evidence” by Blind Digital (my favorite track in the game)…it’s that’s good. Although, I wish there was a way to change the song with a simple button press. On the flipside, the sound effects are pretty generic, but nothing bad by any means. Oh, and voice acting wise, Kevin Sorbo plays Bob…yes, the dude from the live-action Hercules TV show back from the 90s.

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Cloudberry Kingdom is an excellent 2D platformer that’s so sadistic, it makes the hacked Mario games look easy at points. However, the game’s stages are all designed to be 100% beatable thanks to the AI designed for the game. It’s an endless platformer alright, and one that you’ll be endlessly returning to, whether by yourself or with friends. The clean visuals, bumpin’ soundtrack and just downright addictive gameplay make Cloudberry Kingdom a must-own for any platformer fan.

Overall Score: 9.0 out of 10 = BUY IT!

Copy purchased by author for review purposes. Game tested on the Wii U.

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Walking Dead Season 2 Sees a Familiar Face

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TellTale Games has finally dropped some tidbits about The Walking Dead Season 2 interactive game. Clementine, the lovable innocent sidekick from Season 1 will be returning for the new season. Clementine’s appearance in season 2 can be a major driving point for buyers of the first game. TellTale’s Chief Executive Dan Connors confirmed that she “will definitely be a part of” the second season. Whether this means she will be the protagonist or not remains to be seen. It was long rumored that Clementine would appear in the 400 days DLC, however it turned out to be a whole new cast. Meanwhile, fans are eagerly waiting for the release date announcement for Season 2. For more news, stay tuned.

[Via: Gamezone]

Sony Shutting Down 3 Online Servers Come This Winter

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It appears Sony will be pulling the plug for several games on the PS3 come this January. The three games to lose their online components will be MAG, Socom: Confrontation, and Socom 4 on approximately January 28, 2014. Sony via their twitter account stated:

“Advisory: Online multiplayer services for MAG, Socom Confrontation, and Socom 4 will be ending on 01/28/14,”

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Both MAG and Socom: Confrontation do require an Internet connection in order to play. This means that both games will be rendered useless once these servers are shut. Thankfully, Socom 4 does have an offline story mode, so gamers can continue to play that for a long time to come. These particular studios have not fared well in recent years sadly. Zipper Interactive was closed by Sony last year after they finished their Vita exclusive Unit 13, and Slant Six (independent studio) has been operating on life support since they released “Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City” last year.

[Via: VG24/7]

Kung Fu Rabbit Review (PS Vita): “A Charmingly Addictive 2D Platformer”

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Sony has really become a powerhouse of securing indie titles for their platforms as of late, and the Vita has a new indie game from the developers of Puddle, Kung Fu Rabbit. Originally, this title was released on iOS and Android devices last year by developers CTools, Cazap and Bulkypix. This Spring, Wii U received an enhanced version of the 2D platformer courtesy of Neko Entertainment, and has now been brought to the PS Vita. In an interview I conducted with them during the Wii U version’s release, Neko Entertainment stated that they thought it was something great, but the touch controls didn’t provide it the precision that it needed. The game certainly has a very charming, cutesy style to it, but how well does it play?

Kung Fu Rabbit starts off with a comic-book style story panel being displayed, showing your fellow rabbits being kidnapped. However, abductors left one rabbit behind…you. It’s up to you to platform your way through 80 levels to save all the abducted rabbits. While the story isn’t much to write home about, it’s there to give you the basic reason as to why you’re navigating the levels. Plus, while there may not be much story, the character designs are very appealing.

Kung Fu Rabbit Vita Gameplay 1

The gameplay is very reminiscent of old-school 2D platformers, as well as some recent indie ones such as Super Meat Boy. Each level has you running, jumping, wall jumping, collecting carrots and slashing enemies as you reach the goal to rescue a kidnapped rabbit. The game takes place within three worlds, each containing 20 levels to tackle. The controls are incredibly simple and responsive, as any 2D platformer should be. You’ll use the control stick or D-Pad to move, the X button to jump and the Square button to use items. Neko Entertainment wasn’t kidding when they said they wanted to provide proper controls, so you can use the X button, Touch Screen or Rear Touchpad to control jumping. Since this is a platformer, jumping is a tremendous element to the game, so precision is a must. Thankfully, controlling Rabbit is a charm, as his running speed and jumping feels just right. Even jumping off walls works the way it should with the right amount of physics applied. Rabbit can attack enemies, however in a non-traditional method. Instead of being given an attack button, Rabbit will be able to slash an enemy automatically by simply approaching it where their “Achilles Heel” is. Enemies will have a certain spot where they’ll have a glowing blue design, and it is here where you can attack them. If it’s behind them, then you’re going to have to run into them from behind. If it’s on their head, then you can give them the good ol’ “goomba stomp” that we’ve grown accustom to since the days of Mario. In each level, you’ll come across carrots. There are three regular carrots in every level, alongside a gold carrot that gives you extra. The carrots are used to purchase items for you to use, whether it be single-use, artifacts or unlockables (such as the Mexican Avenger costume). The single-use items vary from cleansing the area of enemies, activating checkpoints, deflecting projectiles, etc. Artifacts are essentially perks, which will enhance Rabbit’s abilities: “Carrot Juice” will let you run faster and jump higher, while “Death from the Sky” allows you to defeat any enemy by simply jumping on them (regardless of their weak spot), “Feet of Ice” will freeze breakable platforms so that you can pinpoint your jump better, “Claws” lets you slide down walls slower, “Feather” decreases your falling speed, and lastly, “Master of Arms” lets you run into any enemy and defeat them instantly (basically making you invincible against them). The catch with the Artifacts? You can only equip one at a time. If a level is giving you a hard time, you’ll want to figure out which Artifact to bring with you.

Kung Fu Rabbit Vita Gameplay 3

Kung Fu Rabbit’s platforming starts off very simple, allowing anyone to be able to dive into the game. However, as you progress, expect the difficulty to certainly ramp up, demanding for some spot-on platforming skills. Aside from the enemies, Rabbit will have to worry about the “dark goo” that fills some of the platforms. Whether you’re jumping over dark goo, or wall jumping precisely to avoid it on walls, it’s a big obstacle throughout the game. As a matter of fact, almost everything poses a threat to Rabbit, as he dies instantly when coming in contact with an enemy directly or the dark goo. Thankfully, levels are very short and the game rarely leads to frustration. The overall difficulty curve is actually nicely handled and never feels like it spikes dramatically. Aside from the 60 main levels, there’s also a bonus world with 20 additional levels. These will test your skills further and if you wanted more of a challenge, you can unlock the game’s hard mode called “Hardcore Rabbit”. Basically, this will have you revisit levels but they’ll have a plethora of extra obstacles and enemies placed around. This mode alone will double the game’s length and keep you coming back for more.

Kung Fu Rabbit’s visuals are really appealing to the eye. The art direction for the game is very charming, with nice color palettes and a smooth frame rate. The character animations are a bit simplistic but that doesn’t detract from the overall experience. The environments definitely have that “asian” feel to them, whether you’re in the forest, cave or indoor dojos. It may not be anything overly complex, but that’s fine, as the game’s aesthetic is certainly done right. Thanks to the Vita’s OLED screen, the colors really seem to pop out of the screen. Audio wise, there are a few music tracks here and while they capture the setting appropriately, they become a little repetitive. Also, there is some “voice-work” done for the characters. I use the term “voice-work” lightly because there’s no dialogue, mainly just chants from the creatures and Rabbit. However, hearing Rabbit cheer when he rescues a kidnapped rabbit is very catchy. Funny enough, when Rabbit would die, his shout reminded me a bit of the Rabbids from “Rayman Raving Rabbids”. One of the main issues I had with Kung Fu Rabbit was it’s menu design. There are images for each icon to give you an idea of what part of the menu you’ll be accessing, but it just feels somewhat off when navigating them. It’s nothing detrimental that severely hurts the game, but something that stuck out immediately and never really adjusted to. On the plus side, the menus provide for full touch-screen navigation or through regular buttons, so you have either option. Also, for trophy hunters, this is a game that contains 17 trophies but don’t expect a platinum trophy in this list. The trophies are very easy to get and but a fun set to get nonetheless.

Kung Fu Rabbit Vita Gameplay 5

Kung Fu Rabbit is a game that’s simple to pickup-and-play, yet challenging enough for gamers of all types. Don’t let the game’s cutesy appearance turn you away. This is no doubt a fun and addictive game that you’ll find yourself coming back to. For the $4.99 asking price, there’s a good amount of content to be found here and is almost impossible not to recommend. If you’re a fan of platformers, don’t think, just buy this game.

Overall Score: 8.0 out of 10 = BUY IT!

A special thank you to Neko Entertainment for providing us a review copy for Kung Fu Rabbit!

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Insomniac Debuts New Project – Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus

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Insomniac Games has finally unveiled the secret project they have been working on currently, besides Sunset Overdrive. Late yesterday, an image was leaked from Insomniac and rumors began to swirl. Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus will serve as an epilogue to past Ratchet and Clank Future saga. James Stevenson from Insomniac Games gave a brief synopsis of the story.

“The story sees Ratchet and Clank lost in an abandoned sector of deep space, where they uncover an inter-dimensional event that threatens the universe. The game will also introduce a bunch of new weapons and gadgets. While gravity is one of the game’s themes: you”ll experience zero G space using gravity defying gadgets.”

The game will be available for download on PSN this holiday season and will be $29.99. Check out the new debut trailer below!

[via PlayStation Blog]

Flashy PSN Summer Deals Inbound

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Well it seems every company is rolling out their summer deals in a big way. Starting tomorrow, PlayStation gamers will have the chance to save up to 60% off on Summer titles, and for PS Plus members, it will be a whopping 80%! As always, make sure you check the PSN Store for this week’s offers. Lastly these sales will vary each week, so make sure you check out the PSN on a weekly basis. Depending if you’re a PS Plus member, some of the older retail titles range as low as $4!

Below you will find this year’s Summer Sale list:

July 2nd – 9th

Call Of Duty Black Ops II (PS3) – Regular Price: $59.99 Sale Price: $41.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $37.79
The Amazing Spider-Man (PS3) – Regular Price: $49.99 Sale Price: $29.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $20.99
Batman Arkham Asylum (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest (PS Vita/PSP) – Regular Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $4.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $2.50
Mortal Kombat (PS Vita) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Mortal Kombat – (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Prince of Persia Forgotten Sands (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $7.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.00
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: the Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $3.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $2.00
Shadow of the Colossus (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Ratchet & Clank Collection (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $14.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $7.50

July 9th – 16th

Fast & Furious Showdown (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $31.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $23.99
Star Trek (PS3) – Regular Price: $54.99 Sale Price: $43.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $32.99
Men In Black: Alien Crisis (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $29.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $20.99
The Simpsons Arcade Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $6.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.89
X-Men (PS3) – Regular Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $6.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.89
Hitman Trilogy HD – (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $19.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $15.99
Lord of the Rings: War in the North (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Silent Hill: Book of Memories (PS Vita) – Regular Price: $29.99 Sale Price: $14.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $7.50
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (PS3) – Regular Price: $29.99 Sale Price: $14.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $7.50
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (PS Vita) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
The Adventures of TinTin: The Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $19.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $10.00
Star Wars The Force Unleashed II (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Just Cause 2 (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $7.99
Prince of Persia Classics Trilogy (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $15.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $8.00
Tron Evolution (PS Vita) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $7.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.00
Alice: Madness Returns (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $7.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.00
Fight Night Champion – Full Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $29.99 Sale Price: $11.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $6.00

[Via PlayStation Blog]