Posts Tagged ‘Sony’

While the mere thought of indie games on the PlayStation 4 has some gamers generating tons of hate, I happen to disagree with them. Indie games happens to be the popular trend these days, and seeing the visionary ideas that indie developers bring to the table help shape the games we play in the future. Of course there’s also the fact that these games are relatively cheaper and sometimes are better than the big budget blockbusters that get all the attention. PlayStation 4 will be chock full of indie goodness, so I decided to highlight a handful of the indie games that have my interest when the next generation of gaming arrives on November 15. Here are a few of my picks that I’ll be playing.

Helldivers

Expected in 2014, Arrowhead Games has developed a title that in my opinion is a mix of Halo: Spartan Assault for the Windows phone along with the campy Starship Troopers movies. This top down co-op shooter for up to four players is no easy romp. Helldivers will challenge my gaming skills along with my patience with it’s random generated levels making every experience different each time I play.

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Octodad: Dadliest Catch

A game about an octopus posing as a human. Now I would have to file this game from Young Horses under weird, but fun. Dadliest Catch is a sequel to the original Octodad where the main idea is for this octopus to mimic human behavior without raising suspicion that he is in fact an octopus. The premise is absolutely ridiculous, but the idea that the human world has trouble noticing this could make for one of the most hilarious games ever made.

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Outlast

This is probably the one game that I really can’t wait to play. Outlast is a first person survival horror experience from Red Barrels that could bring the scare back into a genre that’s been a little tame through the years. Once I’m inside the Mount Massive Asylum I’ll once again feel the chills up my spine as I discover the horrors that await me. However, once I find the secrets will I be able to find a way out to tell the world, or will they die with me.

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Mercenary Kings

Calling this game a 2D Borderlands does not do Mercenary Kings justice. This game from Tribute (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game) combines the looting elements of Borderlands along with megahit shooter titles including the Metal Slug and Contra series. My mission is to save the world from the evil corporation known as CLAW at a secret laboratory base on a remote island. Taking out enemies will reveal loot that I can use to craft weapons and gear to help accomplish my mission.

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Ray’s The Dead

Taking on the role of a zombie, this Pikmin style of game from Ragtag Studio will have me recruiting fellow members of the undead and create an army all with the purpose of avenging my own death. There’s also that other question of why there’s a lightbulb on top of my head. How did that get there? Lots of questions, but plenty of zombie fun lies ahead.

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This is just a small taste of some of the indie games I’ll be playing once the PS4 finally arrives. Do you have any favorites your looking forward to? Let me know in the comments.

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At Gamescom, the announcement heard around the world was finally made. Gamers including myself have anxiously awaited the news about the impending release of the PlayStation 4. Since E3, things have been pretty quiet at Sony, but there was no reason for anyone to be concerned. Unlike Microsoft that had to change their policies to keep up, Sony stayed the course by sticking to a vision that had gamers in mind as they brought the PS4 to life. The big question we all had was when, and at the closing moments of Sony’s press conference that answer as given. November 15. In less than three months the next generation will officially begin. While excitement rang, there was an ominous dark cloud looming that had some gamers rather upset. Why?

Indie Games

The main reason that had some hardcore gamers a little perturbed at Sony had to do with the large indie games presence at Gamescom. Hardcore gamers wanted to see more big blockbuster AAA first party games that has Microsoft execs busting out of their expensive Don Mattrick inspired jackets. However, Sony wanted to show gamers their commitment to the indie scene by showcasing games that don’t get the large stage, or over the top trailers to bring excitement to the masses. Microsoft may have all the money (due to the $60/year Xbox Live Gold price) to buy timed exclusive games and have DLC first, but Sony decided to flex their muscles elsewhere and give smaller budget game developers the spotlight which has some dishing out indie hate.

Now I’m not a hater when it comes to this subject, because I like what Sony has brought to the table with their endless supply of indie games. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted a PS4 over the Xbox One. Games including Helldivers, Hotline Miami 2, Ray’s The Dead, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Mercenary Kings, Outlast, Secret Ponchos, and countless others have me more excited than the usual big budget sequel driven franchises including Call of Duty, Battlefield, Dead Rising, Assassin’s Creed, and even Halo. Indie games bring some new visions and ideas to the table that help shape the way we will play games in the near future. Basically, indie developers are willing to take big risks and sacrifices to help broaden the horizons of the gaming world.

Do you want to know what really separates the indies from the big dogs? Allow me share something with you.

Let’s take a look at the big picture when it comes to video games. Big name publishers and developers are basically playing it safe by creating sequel after sequel of popular franchises knowing that they will get your money. Most of these games show up yearly including sports games, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed. These yearly games have either peaked, or they’re past their prime, because these games either make minimal tweaks to slightly enhance the gameplay, or are not willing to experiment with anything new at all. In essence, your just playing the same game with a minor graphical bump to make it look shiny and special. Still excited about Madden 25, Battlefield 4, or Call of Duty: Ghosts?

Indie developers, on the other hand, are willing to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating new and exciting games. These developers will take a concept that you and I are familiar with, and throw a monkey wrench within the programming thereby creating a new way to experience the game. Most will call this weird while others will call this genius.

Everyday indie developers are coming up with new ways to enjoy the genres we love. So why should we hate on them when a company like Sony is willing to invest big on these new and innovating ideas that they create? Sony is bringing these indie developers to the forefront, and not burying them in the back of a marketplace so that we would have to sort through a huge clutter of shit to find the diamonds in the rough. As gamers we should be happy to see that a company is willing to take risks, and not play it safe by buying up timed exclusives just for the sake of sales. Besides, these games that Microsoft has bought as so-called “exclusives” will soon be available on the Sony platform for us to enjoy. Add on all the indie goodness that came before it, and what you have is a win for gamers.

Back in 1989, a video game came along and changed the way we view games forever. Disney and Capcom took us on a journey to the land of Duckburg, but that was only the beginning. The real adventure was soon to follow that took us everywhere from the Amazon all the way too the Moon itself. All of this while singing that all too familiar tune.

Life is like a hurricane
Here in Duckburg
Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes
It’s a duck blur
You might solve a mystery
Or rewrite history

DuckTales, Woo-oo!
Everyday they’re out there making
DuckTales, Woo-oo!
Tales of daring do bad and good luck tales, Woo-oo!

D-D-D-danger, watch behind you
There’s a stranger out to find you
What to do?
Just grab onto some

DuckTales, Woo-oo!
Everyday they’re out there making
DuckTales, Woo-oo!
Tales of daring do bad and good luck tales, Woo-oo!
Not pony tails, or cotton tails, no
DuckTales, Woo-oo!

Now I’ve never played the original game on the NES, but I do know about DuckTales. This means that this remastered version of the original game is all new to me and I like it. The Disney fan in me enjoyed watching the television series back in the day featuring the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and the gang scouring the world for legendary treasure. There was also something else I’ve always wanted to do. That would be diving into a massive vault of coins just like Scrooge McDuck. Sadly, there’s no way to perform this act in real life, but I can live the fantasy here in DuckTales Remastered, and it’s awesome!

The first thing that impressed me with DuckTales Remastered are the high definition visuals. Everything from the characters to the jaw-dropping levels themselves look absolutely fantastic. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All the original actors of the show are also back reprising their roles for the game giving voices to the characters during all the cutscenes. The overall atmosphere gives me the impression that I’m participating in an actual episode of the hit animated series. Now that is a real treat for fans like myself, because this takes the DuckTales experience to a completely new level.

Platforming is the name of the game here in DuckTales, and it’s well executed as Scrooge uses his cane as a pogo stock for jumping on enemies and completes some simple puzzle solving. Considering the fact that this is a Disney game, don’t expect DuckTales to be some easy romp even though it does follow the main 8-bit rule of “If you lose all your lives you must start over”. I would keep that in mind especially in boss battles. These battles can be a bit of chore since memorization of their attacks is needed for survival. Remember that less stress equals more fun.

Throughout my adventure I would come across random treasure chests randomly appearing out of nowhere containing health and other riches. Gems also sometimes appeared as I walked by. This just goes to show that wherever Scrooge McDuck walks money is sure to follow. As I collected the money I was able to spend it in the gallery mode where I can unlock concept art, music, and more showing the rich history of the game. I really like seeing how the game has evolved from it’s 8-bit beginnings to the current generation consoles.

DuckTales may be a near perfect port of the original game, but there is one area of concern that will have fans scratching their heads. This would have to do with the game’s length. The levels in DuckTales Remastered have been extended in some areas, because the original NES game didn’t take very long to finish. This new version of DuckTales can be finished within a couple of hours which might have some fans wondering if the nostalgia trip is worth the $14.99 price tag. I think that some won’t care, because it’s DuckTales. However, others will probably wait for a sale.

As a trip down memory lane, DuckTales Remastered shines with it’s high definition visuals, and making me feel like I’m in an episode of the show. The platforming is fantastic, and at times can be quite challenging, but it’s not entirely frustrating. The game’s length may be it’s only setback, but it didn’t hold me back from buying it. Besides, it’s not very often that I get to “solve a mystery, or rewrite history!”

DuckTales, Woo-oo!

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Developer: Capcom, Disney, WayForward
Platform: PlayStation 3, PSN
Players: 1
Price: $14.99

Once again it looks like Microsoft has announced another policy reversal. This time it’s in regards to the Kinect sensor with the Xbox One. Stemming from an Ask Microsoft Anything article from IGN, Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten has stated:

“Xbox One owners will be able to use all of the console’s core functions regardless of whether the new Kinect sensor is connected. Naturally, many of the tentpole features of the new Kinect, such as player identification, voice commands, etc., will be disabled as a result, but players will still be able to play games and access entertainment content.”

So what does this all mean? Basically, it means that the Kinect sensor is no longer required in order for the Xbox One to function. No more worrying about Microsoft “spying” on you. No more Kinect…period! While this latest reversal has Xbox fans once again rejoicing, I begin to wonder whether this change is a so called “victory” for gamers? Honestly, I don’t think so. The conclusion that I draw from all this is that Microsoft has raped the identity of the Xbox One leaving gamers confused about Microsoft’s next-gen vision.

Yes, Xbox One actually had a vision, however gamers including myself saw it as a console filled with restrictive policies that seemed to benefit the publishers more than the consumer. Personally, I was pissed off about the requirement of Kinect, DRM, always online, and no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. All this gravitated me towards the PlayStation 4, and by E3 my decision was made after the Sony press conference as Jack Tretton stated that the PS4 was everything opposite of what the Xbox One was as well as $100 cheaper. I was sold. The PS4 was for me.

What has happened since E3 has had Microsoft backpedaling, and the results that followed had me wondering just what the heck was going on in Redmond. For a while I believed that Microsoft had it’s head on it’s shoulders, and was taking the correct steps in bringing a community of gamers together. Unfortunately, things have changed dramatically, because I now believe that Microsoft is absolutely clueless about what they’re doing. The last couple of months have been filled with reversals that include the Draconian DRM, self publishing with indie developers, always online, and now the Kinect. To put things in a nutshell, Microsoft has abandoned just about everything the Xbox One was supposed to be in terms of the future of gaming and entertainment just so they can compete with the PlayStation 4. Basically, the Xbox One is nothing more than a beefed up Xbox 360. Now why would you want something that you pretty much already have?

And what about the Kinect?

Now that the Kinect is no longer mandatory, developers might decide to no longer include the use of the peripheral when making their games. Why enhance the gameplay with a device that gamers were against using in the first place? This once again makes the Kinect nothing more than another useless gimmick. As of this moment, Microsoft has no plans to remove the Kinect sensor from the Xbox One which means first adopters will still have to pay the $100 extra for something that they might never use. For some this is a waste of money. Microsoft, on the other hand, can only hope that gamers will actually use it.

From excitement of the announcement to damage control that followed, it’s such a shame to see how far Microsoft has fallen in just the past few months. They’ve completely lost their way, and I just don’t understand why some people are such Microsoft apologists after all these reversals. The Xbox One now has a major identity crisis, and I no longer know what this console is or what exactly makes it so special. Maybe what Microsoft should’ve done was stick to their guns, and slowly ease people in to what could be the future of gaming and entertainment. Unfortunately, all Microsoft has done is continue to dig themselves further down the hole while still not finding a way to get themselves out of it.

* Source of linked IGN article written by Scott Lowe

If you asked me a couple of months ago about the game Dragon’s Crown I would respond to you with this phrase. “What’s Dragon’s Crown?” Before E3 I had no clue about this game, but during the show I became more aware about this action/role playing adventure. However, most media members were paying more attention to a certain Sorceress’ large rack. Breasts aside, as the professional journalist that I am, I was able to look past the succulent tits and focus in on what’s important. What I can tell you is that beneath all the scrutiny Dragon’s Crown is actually a very entertaining fantasy adventure filled with tons of action as well as satisfaction.

Developed by Vanillaware, most known for games including Odin’s Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Dragon’s Crown is a hack-n-slash brawler featuring six adventurers on a quest for the Dragon’s Crown which is said to give them control of a dragon. Considering the fact that I’m a veteran of titles like Golden Axe, Dungeons & Dragons, and numerous Gauntlet games I found myself quite comfortable with the brawling style that’s presented in Dragon’s Crown. The combat moves are very simplistic to perform which never left me frustrated at any point during the game including the epic boss battles. Truth be said, once I started playing Dragon’s Crown I became addicted.

On this adventure six classes were available for me to select from. Right off the bat I chose the Fighter which looks like a badass knight. I was able to customize my character in terms of name, colors, and creative messages (I did a few Gauntlet ones for the nostalgia). The Fighter is more of a “tank” character allowing me to get a feel of the game. Then I started playing as the other characters testing out their unique strengths and weaknesses. Characters including the Dwarf and Amazon are also good starters with their melee and limited magic attacks. As for the other characters the Elf is great at ranged attacks with her bow. The Warrior and Sorceress are both weak in terms of melee attacking, but are awesome with their wide range of powerful magic attacks as well as summoning the dead to fight for them.

Questing in Dragon’s Crown can be achieved in solo gameplay which allows me to work on character progression as well as allowing the selfish part of me to keep all the loot I earn. I can also gain companions that I resurrect from the dead to join me on quests along with a rogue thief to open treasure chests. Of course this game is also even better with a few friends to join in on the adventure. Dragon’s Crown excels with both couch and online co-op for up to four players. There is a catch. The ability to play online is an unlockable option so I needed to gain some experience first before joining others. At first I thought this sucked because I wanted to join the online arena right away, but I guess having some battle experience was much better than questing with a bunch of noobies who’ll die more than actually help.

Now if there’s one thing that I really love about Dragon’s Crown it would have to be the artwork. Game creator and lead artist George Kamitani has created some absolutely stunning hand drawn visuals that are nothing short of breathtaking. When I would clear a room full of enemies I would just take a moment and stare at the beautiful backgrounds in 1080p. Character design is also well done, but also features the game’s biggest scrutiny around mostly female characters like the big breasted Sorceress. Kamitani has stated that he “wanted his game to stand out.” Well congratulations George because you definitely succeeded in that. I know there are people who may not like some of the female poses that look a little oversexed, but honestly it’s just art. The way I see it is that art is meant to be looked at as well as appreciated or even scrutinized. In the case of Kamitani’s depictions of the female body featured here in Dragon’s Crown (from the Sorceress’ huge breasts to other females in rather compromising positions) keep in mind that this is a fantasy game so this shouldn’t be treated as such a big deal. Then again I’m a guy, and I’m sure most females would probably disagree with my opinion.

With all the fun that was had in Dragon’s Crown from all the questing, killing, and looting I did unfortunately have one gripe. When multiple characters were on the screen (either teammates or enemies) things can get quite chaotic as I would lose focus on where I was in the battle. At times battles can get very involving (especially in multiplayer) where there is so much action taking place on the screen. I love seeing all the magic attacks and the huge bosses at the end of each level, but there was a moment or two where I was lost in the shuffle and I didn’t notice where my character was which led to a few cheap deaths as well as a misuse of health potions. Given the fact that I have unlimited lives this concern was only a minor inference, because I was just too busy having fun while collecting some epic loot.

What was once considered “under the radar”, Dragon’s Crown has jolted into the spotlight and it’s praises are well deserved. This fantasy action/role playing game is a lot of fun to play and features nearly endless replay value with multiple difficulties unlocking when completing the game. I also liked the bonus art book (sadly no hardcover) that I received for pre-ordering the game early because the art looks absolutely fantastic. For those who deem the game’s artistic depiction as “gross” or “immature” need to stop being so politically correct, and just desensitize yourself while enjoying the game for what it is.

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Developer: Atlus, Vanillaware
Platform: PlayStation 3
Players: 1-4
Price: $49.99

It has felt like an eternity, but Irrational Games has finally announced their DLC plans for Bioshock Infinite. For a while I was regretting my Season Pass purchase since there was no new content, but now I can see why it’s been taking so long. The upcoming single player story content entitled “Burial at Sea” looks absolutely amazing as I’ll get to return to the familiar surroundings of the underwater city of Rapture. Sadly, since that DLC won’t release until further down the road, Irrational Games has released something to hold gamers like myself over. Clash in the Clouds has arrived, and the new content feels like something very familiar that I’ve played many times before, but it’s unfortunately not the DLC that I was hoping for.

Clash in the Clouds basically sums up as the equivalent to Horde Mode found in Gears of War and the Zombie Mode in Call of Duty. Featuring four brand new maps, the goal was to clear waves of increasing enemies. Now I know I’ve done shit like this plenty of times before in other games, but I can assure you that Bioshock Infinite‘s take on the popular game mode is quite interesting and at times can be fun. Why? Well that’s because I get to use more than just conventional weapons. I’ve also got vigors as well as Elizabeth creating tears allowing me to add strategy to my attack patterns that include more than just point and shoot.

After customizing my weapon loadout at the Columbian Archaeological Society it was off to battle against the horde. Early on the waves were pretty simple allowing me to get comfortable with my surroundings as well as work on some combo play with my guns and vigors. Then all of a sudden the kitchen sink was thrown at me. Motorized Patriots, Handymen, and all the other big boys were coming out to play. Business was definitely picking up and all I can say to myself was “It’s on!” With each kill I made money was earned plus I looted corpses for some extra bonuses of ammo, health, and money. Speaking of extra bonuses, there are also Blue Ribbon Challenges for each wave. Each wave features a specific task for me to complete all for that extra cash as well as a blue ribbon for the accomplishment.

What I got a kick out of during my gameplay sessions was taking out soldiers from the skyline as well as using the Undertow vigor. What I really enjoyed was experimenting with different weapon and vigor combinations that I didn’t use in the main campaign. I will mention that the Blue Ribbon Challenges are tough, but quite exhilarating at the same time when I accomplished them. Elizabeth was also extremely helpful with the tears as well as handing me extra ammo and health when I needed it most. One thing I would recommend to everyone is get to know the layout of each map first before worrying about earning those elusive blue ribbons. It will all come in due time.

Another good thing that makes Clash in the Clouds a step above the other horde mode based games is what I got to do with all the money I earned. The money is not just points for leaderboard positioning, although I think that leaderboards are pretty pointless these days. I got to use my hard earned cash at vending machines to purchase weapon and vigor upgrades, stage unlocks, and even extra lives. I can also use it to purchase items to put on display at the museum. Ok, I know that all these museum trinkets sound pretty useless, but there is a reward for purchasing them all: a nice PlayStation bronze trophy.

For those of us like me who purchased the Season Pass for Bioshock Infinite Clash in the Clouds is considered somewhat of a disappointment after the long wait. I’m not saying that the new content sucks, because this horde mode style gameplay is fun with the combined use of weapons, melee attacks, vigors, and Elizabeth’s very useful tears as I eliminated enemies in style. Finding new and creative ways to lay waste on my foes as well as earning the blue ribbons was also a nice plus. While Clash in the Clouds is fun I can only recommend it to those who have the Season Pass (since it’s free) and to those who enjoy horde mode style of gameplay. For everyone else it’s more of a pass. In the end, all this DLC has done for me is anticipate the release of Burial at Sea just a little bit more.

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Developer: Irrational Games
Platform: PlayStation 3
Players: 1
Price: $4.99

“Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt”

Back in 2007, Irrational Games took me on a journey. A journey under the sea. Rapture. A once great utopia that sadly morphed into the asylum of horrors. Andrew Ryan’s dream turned into a nightmare with a population full of plasmid induced Splicers, Big Daddies, and Little Sisters. Yeah, things went really bad in this underwater city, but I was eventually able to break free of the terrors that were before me. Fast forward to today and Irrational Games is sending me on a new adventure, but this time I’m no longer under the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Now it’s time to head above the clouds. Welcome to Columbia.

Bioshock Infinite has me playing through the eyes of the main protagonist Booker DeWitt, a former soldier and detective, now a private investigator in New York City. Booker is charged by the Luteces with a mission to make his way to the floating city of Columbia, and bring back a young woman named Elizabeth who is held captive there. Along the way Booker, as well as the rescued Elizabeth, will come under fire from rivaling factions plus a few other surprises like the Motorized Patriot with a George Washington head, Handymen, and even the main antagonist himself Father Zachary Hale Comstock.

Just like the underwater city of Rapture before it, the floating city of Columbia is absolutely breathtaking. The beginning of the game took me on that all too familiar ride to give me an overall look of the city. While I do believe that Rapture’s epic introduction was a little bit better than this one I was still taken by Columbia’s overall appearance. I just couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the sheer size and the use of color which was something that the the Art Deco look of Rapture somewhat lacked. While roaming the city streets, and floating buildings, I was amazed with the population of it’s citizens as there was singing, dancing, and relaxation. Columbia definitely looked like a utopia of peace even though the stench of evil is also entrenched from deep within.

Gameplay has not changed much from the original Bioshock. Combat is still in the first person perspective featuring my usual array of pistols, shotguns, rifles, machine guns, and more. Guns sure are a dime a dozen in this game, but sadly I could only carry two weapons at a time. Compared to the first two games where I carried an arsenal I hated feeling limited to only a very small selection of firepower, however I was already used to this formula with shooters including Battlefield, Call of Duty, and even Halo so this wasn’t a big deal. Plasmids are also back once again, but are now known as Vigors which bring forth the elemental attacks. Vigors include Fire, electricity, possession, summoning crows, and so much more allowing me to differentiate my attack patterns as well as strategize for success. I also had some fun on the skylines as I shot my guns, used my vigors, and melee attacked various enemies from above. The skylines make for a fun ride as well as a new attack perspective.

What truly makes Bioshock Infinite unique has to deal with the character of Elizabeth. When I first encountered Elizabeth I had the first impression that she was sort of like a Disney princess type of character. In a way she has that Disney look and feel, but as I continued playing I realized that she was more than just a typical cookie cutter princess character whose hand was my job to hold. Elizabeth as a character is awesome, and actually became the biggest help I ever had. When I was in a pinch she would throw me helpful items like salts for vigors, ammo, lockpicks, and even money. She even creates tears in the environment which are a sight to behold. Elizabeth made me wish that all other characters that I had to escort were this helpful.

If there is one thing that I really have to commend Irrational Games for it would have to be not including a multiplayer mode. I love that they focused in on the single player aspect of the game just like the original masterpiece. This allowed for a deeper story that is one of the year’s best. DLC is also starting to finally trickle in with the release of “Clash in the Clouds” which is a collection of four challenge maps in the style of Gears of War‘s famous Horde Mode. Also planned for release down the road is a new story DLC called “Burial at Sea” which is a two part story set in another dimension featuring Booker and Elizabeth in Rapture just one night before the fall of the underwater city. So far I have to say that things are looking quite good.

Bioshock Infinite is a story filled with action, suspense, intrigue, and even just a bit of horror all wrapped up in a nice package. Sure there is a bit of controversy intertwined within the story in terms of race and religion, but that didn’t steer me away from this delightful game. Just turn off your somewhat sensitized mind and enjoy the experience. The main campaign, along with the DLC, makes for plenty of replay value for many months to come. Might I suggest 1999 Mode for a real challenge. Bioshock Infinite is clearly a game that is more than just for fans of the franchise. If you haven’t bought this game yet (it’s been available since March 26 so what are you waiting for?) I definitely recommend you getting it right now as well as the Season Pass.

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Developer: Irrational Games
Platform: PlayStation 3
Players: 1
Price: $59.99