Skulking through shadows, lining up your perfect kill, and, oh yeah, freezing time and teleporting across rooms to your heart's content. Dishonored is another in a growing trend of assassin games, but it offers plenty of new concepts to the genre. After the Empress is murdered and the blame pinned on you, her protector, you don a mask and set out to eliminate those behind the conspiracy that killed her and ruined your life, one by one . . .
FTL is a rogue-like space exploration and survival game that began as a Kickstarter earlier this year. You play as a Federation starship with the mission to deliver vital information to the fleet with the Rebel armada in hot pursuit. The interface is relatively simple with you moving crew members from stations aboard the ship and repairing damage while making use of the ship's systems like weapons, shields, and engines to overcome obstacles before jumping to the next star system. The game has some RPG elements where systems can be upgraded and new items bought at stores to increase your effectiveness.
Borderlands 2 is the successor to what was one of the most popular new IPs in 2009. Maintaining the same first-person shooter/RPG gameplay as the first, players take on the role of a Vault Hunter on the planet Pandora and have to fight their way through bandits, robots, and alien beasts while looting and leveling to their heart's content. Borderlands 2 surpasses its predecessor in almost every way, delivering the same great combat and offbeat sense of humor with more guns, great characters, guns, varied quests, more diverse settings, and, oh yes, guns.
School Daze is an RPG which takes high school and makes it fun. Think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Glee, Saved by the Bell, The Breakfast Club, Veronica Mars, etc. How many great TV shows and movies took the setting of high school and made it fun? Now, you can too!
I first talked about School Daze when it was in its Kickstarter phase back in March. The rules haven't changed since then, though creator Tracy Barnett has added a lot of fluff to the setting for the book's official release.
So, you want to play one of those massive, multiplayer online roleplaying games, but you don’t have the funds to shell out on a monthly basis to get your Jedi skills trained or to raid the Horde? What do you do? Look for those rare, yet still satisfying, free-to-play games such as DC Universe Online or Star Trek Online, where you can get all of the gameplay multiuser interaction—both the good and the bad—without having to become a case study for a psychology course. But, even if it’s free-to-play, is it still worth your precious Geek time? In this case, yes, it is. Star Trek Online is great for people who are casual RPGers, as well as the die-hard Trekkies who enjoy spotting the little cameos and references within the game. So, give it a try—in fact, I’ve gone ahead and done it for you, so you can see what I think of it.
Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) is hard at work on the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons, currently called D&D Next, and has a huge playtest underway. If you're looking for some more background on how this edition is shaping up and what was included in the first playtest packet, check out Jason Enright's excellent post about his first impressions. On August 13, Wizards released packet 2, which included all of the necessary rules for creating and running a D&D Next character up to the fifth level. Overall, this packet is a great next step for the playtest for those of us who had exhausted the resources provided in packet 1. I took the time to go over the new information and even roll up a few characters of my own to see how these rules worked together and thought I'd share my impressions.
Spidey has had it rough when it comes to video games. Like most superhero games, it's pretty difficult to capture the feeling of actually being that hero. 'Till this day, poor Superman has not once had anything decent in this regard but lucky for us, Spider-man has. The Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man video games beautifully captured what it felt like to really BE Spider-Man. As a life long Spidey fan, these games were like a dream come true. Web-slinging through the city of Manhattan never felt more rewarding. Of course, those games came out back in 2004 and 2005, and almost every Spidey game that has followed has paled in comparison. The one exception would be Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which sacrificed the open world of the previously mentioned games yet still delivered a unique gaming experience playing as 4 different variations of our hero. It's follow up, also by Shattered Dimensions developer Beenox, was a disaster that decided to limit our hero to indoors only. And, don't even get me started on the Spider-Man 3 movie game.
While the LEGO games are probably geared more towards a younger demographic, the fact remains that they’re LEGO games, and LEGOs are completely awesome to play with. Traveller’s Tales has done a great job of creating several games based on licensed properties over the years, evolving their game model and interactivity to make them more enjoyable and challenging, and I personally enjoy them all—although the newest one certainly has some frustrating moments.
The Matrix and its sequels are old, if treasured, news these days, but that same respect is rarely afforded to its imitators. Complaints of bullet time and rampant slow motion have been common critics’ fodder against action movies ever since 1999. It’s a testament to Max Payne’s appeal—or the follow-the-leader nature of shooters, or both—that Rockstar Entertainment decided to buy the IP wholesale from Swedish developers Remedy Entertainment (who are currently known for Alan Wake). Rockstar spent an estimated $105 million and eight years creating Max Payne 3, instead of putting that funding towards a surefire Grand Theft Auto expansion pack or three. If it’s a follow-the-leader gaming fad, it’s passing in appropriately slow motion.
Dungeons & Dragons has come a very long way from the game that Gary Gygax played in the basement with his friends and family. In the past 30 years, it has gone through many incarnations, and, right now, it is about to evolve again. Wizards of the Coast is currently playtesting the 5th edition of D&D in a massive playtest with gaming groups all over the world. They are calling this fan feedback playtest experience D&D Next. As an avid RPGer and a game store manager, I just had to get in on this.