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    PC Review: The Walking Dead Episode 3 - "In Harm's Way"


    "In Harm's Way" is the third installment of the second season of TellTale Games' critically acclaimed video game series; The Walking Dead. This installment features the group and Clementine's struggle after being captured by an old enemy of her new friends - Bill Carver - whose out to not only get his child back from an impregnated Rebecca, but also to make sure they don't cause him any problems in the future. There's lots of potential in this episode; will the group submit to Carver and live by his rules? Would they attempt a revolution? Where's Luke? So, did the episode live up to expectation? [Everything spoken in this review is through choices from my playthrough. Don't take it as gospel since the game changes based on the player's own choices.]

    Although it may not be everyone's cup of tea, and it isn't always mine, this episode is chalk-full of character moments. Additionally, there is plenty of drama and suspense sprinkled throughout TellTale's third episode, but this one really tells us who the characters are and shows their true colors. We're introduced to new characters like Reggie who are pretty well developed and despite biting the bullet, he is actually a pivotal part of the development of the episode. After Carver kills him, it knocks down the dominoes of drama as even Bonnie - who helped kidnap Carlos' crew last episode - questions her allegiance to Carver and his ways. Overall, there was some really good character moments in this episode that I'll get to.

    The character development in this episode was superb, but I almost felt that it was sort-of lacking for Bill Carver who dies at the end after a gruesome beating by Kenny with a crowbar; reminisce of Batman: Under The Red Hood. To me in this episode, Bill wasn't taken in a straight direction. For example, the only thing he asks of the crew is to do their chores and help out with the community so he can earn their forgiveness and rejoin the community and live in peace with him, however he kills (new character) Reggie over a simple mistake and didn't even twitch at the action. You could say that Bill was never going to forgive the crew and just kill them all after they've contributed enough, but Bill is killed before we could ever find out. Although I have to tip my hat to Telltale for not dragging out the "evil emperor with a sanctuary" route that Robert Kirkman ever-so recycles. Instead, in this episode, classic character Kenny evolves into something we'd never thought he'd become thanks to the writers taking a big swerve. It is within this scene, i think, that we get a surefire definition of everyone involved in the episode. Kenny slowly takes out a crowbar and asks people to leave so they don't have to witness what is about to be done to Bill; this scene tells us who realizes how bad the world really is based on whether or not they left. Naturally, as Clementine, I voted to stay and it's a really badass moment when Kenny says "This is about to get ugly" and Clem says "I know."; this is a moment that actually made me like Clementine, a lot. There are plenty of scenes throughout the game that showcase who these characters are what they're willing to do but this scene, by far, might be my favorite in the entire series.

    The latest installment of "The Walking Dead" is downright terrifying, not because of the settings or the zombies; it's the character development that really shocks you. This episode is all about empathy, and the choices you make have a cost; especially the ending scene where Kenny's girlfriend gets bitten and you have a choice of killing the walker that bit her or cutting her hand off; and I've played both endings which are equally amazing. This review took so long because I played through the episode maybe 3 times which is very rare for me with a Telltale game. It's downright excellent. I've got to say it; In Harm's Way holds the best scene Telltale has ever made. It's the aforementioned scene with Clementine saying "I know". Additionally, it's extremely hard to find a fault in this game considering almost every scene is excellent. Telltale, you really won this month.



    PC Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Is A Suprisingly Fun Swing

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is Beenox's latest foray into the world of Spider-Man. It features a storyline adjacent to the one of Marc Webb's feature film while keeping in continuity to Beenox's previous Spider-Man movie tie-in. This game features some classic Spider-Man villains that have yet to show up on film - such as Shocker and Kraven - but also features the ones from the film as well. Beenox's take on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is very interesting, and they've obviously poured a lot more into this than their previous attempts at bringing Spidey's world at life, which people feel have been very repetitive and boring. However, is this game worthy of buying, or is it another lame cash-grab?

    The gameplay in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not bad at all, hell, it's actually quite fun and even though it takes a bit to learn and can feel unpolished on the get-go, Beenox has finally perfected the swinging mechanic and made combat something I look forward to doing in this game. Also returning to the game from the previous installment is the "web Rush" system, which allows you to specify targets in the immediate view and, well, rush to them by shooting web.

    This system is similar to Arkham City's grapnel gun, except the web rush system allows complete freedom in the destination, including the air. I didn't play much of the previous installment of the franchise, but in that game I hated the Web Rush system. However, in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it feels much, much more defined and polsihed, even when you aren't in targeting mode. It's incredibly useful when you're high in the sky, prancing around skyscraper to skyscraper. You can graciously go from one end of the map to the other just by strategically web-rushing, and very quickly. I honestly use this system more than the swinging, which has been perfected for maximum fun and travel. Speaking of web slinging, Spidey's webs now connect to buildings, and the swings can be boosted. Also, another cool feature within the web slinging mechanic is the slingshot, which has an excellently fluid animation and shoots you far through a street for expedited travel. Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2's web swinging mechanic is all-out fun. There's multiple ways to travel throughout the city to find objectives and such.

    The combat, however, isn't as polished but it's still fun and that's really all that matters to me -- the fun factor. The system is basic, X to punch, A to jump, LB to web-pull, RB to web-rush and B to seismic blast/web shoot your enemies. You can string together a couple of basic combos, but there's no real depth to it. However, shooting huge blasts to giant foes to knock them down somewhat feels satisfying, especially after web-rushing towards them and beating them down. It's a combo that feels fluid even though there's no real depth to it, and that's what I like about the combat in this game - it's not deep but it's fluid and elegant, and can almost feel like poetry in the right position such as Kingpin's boss battle. Admittedly, at times, it does feel broken at times, however that may simply be due to user error. In addition, the player can practice the combat system in Challenge Maps available in an Arcade Machine located in a comic shop owned by Stan Lee. In the end, The Amazing Spider-Man 2's combat is incredibly fun and mostly fluid, but head-to-head combat isn't the only way of playing the game.

    The game also boasts stealth combat, similar to that of many other superhero games. And to be quite honest with you, I feel as though The Amazing Spider-Man 2's stealth is more fun than the Arkham series'. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, you can sneak behind enemies and "Stealth Takedown" them by pulling them towards you and Spidey knocks them out and ties them to the floor. Alternatively, you can sneak onto poles, walls, roofs, chandaliers and many other things and pull thugs towards you and tie them up into webbed-coccoons. The system could definitely use work by adding a lot more of a variety in animations and takedowns, but surprisingly it works for a Spider-Man game and the execution fits the character. I love it because it allows freedom. I can web-zip to a whole new side of the wall in an instant instead of trying to circle around multiple gargoyles like a trapeze act. I can crawl on the roof and slide slowly down and take out and enemy before he knows it, instead of having to wait for the enemy to get in the perfect position below me. The stealth isn't perfect, and could definitely use some refining but I've played games with worse.

    Admittedly, one of my favorite aspects however is the voice acting. Sam Riegel reprises his role as Peter Parker and although his lines can get repetitive quickly, the delivery is fantastic and he brings some true emotion to the role of Peter Parker - as if he were playing the character in a feature film. Steve Blum does a fantastic job as Kraven The Hunter, capturing the character well. However, my favorite definitely had to be JB Blanc as the Kingpin/Wilson Fisk whose voice was just excellent. It was dark, brooding but also wise and scary and I had to look at the credits to see who the actor was. It was an all-around powerful performance and I can't wait until the next game to hear him in the role again. Speaking of which, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has an important post-credits scene setting up Beenox's next movie tie-in that also features the Kingpin. Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2's voice direction and casting is superb.

    To summarize, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels like the game that Beenox has been trying to make for years. It incorporates all the best features of their previous attempts at Spider-Man whilst polishing and refining them. Additionally, a few more months of development time and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would've been the perfect Spider-Man game. It ranks high in my list of favorites along with Spider-Man for the Playstation and Web of Shadows. We know that Beenox is working on some non-film Spider-Man games, so I look forward to playing and reviewing their next entry.


    Firaxis Games Announce "Civilization: Beyond Earth"

    Firaxis Games is releasing Civilization: Beyond Earth this fall. Now, you're probably thinking it, but no, this is NOT an expansion pack for Sid Meier's Civilization V. It's a fully-fledged standalone game set "Beyond Earth" where players can encounter new civilizations and planets. Additionally, the game will scrap the "tech-tree" in favor of a "tech-web" which starts with simple ideas and branches out into much more broader, and crazier things. The developers promise that by endgame, each faction will be severely different from another. Beyond Earth will keep the traditional hex-sized tiles and still restrict one unit-per-tile combat, but allow satellite and orbital strikes to help buff the player. You can read all about Beyond Earth at IGN with quotes from Firaxis Games.


    First Trailer for THE LAST OF US: REMASTERED for PlayStation 4


    The first trailer for Naughty Dog's The Last of Us: Remastered dropped today, giving us a brief but beautiful glimpse of the game's improved graphic fidelity by showing one of the most genuinely moving and hard to watch scenes in the entire game.

    When Naughty Dog and SCE released The Last of Us just last summer, no one could have predicted the rave it would recieve.
    As it was more or less touted as the PlayStation 3's swan song, with some of the best visuals the console had seen (and even rivaling that of the PlayStation 4), many were already hoping for a re-master as the PlayStation 4 released in November.

    Well, as it is, that's exactly what Naughty Dog had been planning all along, according to Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells to IGN:

    “We had a lot of people on the forums saying ‘can I play this on PlayStation 4?’ We had actually been anticipating that, and started working on it pretty much as soon as we finished the PlayStation 3 [version]," he explained. "We weren’t sure if it was going to go anywhere, but when we saw the fans clamouring for it we doubled-down, and put more effort behind it.

    "The graphic fidelity has been turned up to eleven. We’ve got 1080p, we’re pushing the draw distances further, we’re creating higher resolution character models, better lighting, better shadows.”

    The game will include all DLC for both single and multiplayer as well as pre-order incentives:

    Pre-ordering The Last of Us Remastered at a participating brick and mortar retailer, you will get 100 Supply Points for Factions mode, bonus skins for Joel and Ellie, increased crafting and healing speeds in the campaign, and increased reload speed and clip capacity for select weapons. Pre-ordering on the PlayStation Store will net players early access to the Brawler Survival Skill, additional loadout points, and some costume components, all for use in Factions Mode.

    No release date has been confirmed; but I'd expect it (personally) to be around the games 1-year anniversary this summer.
    For more, read my review of The Last of Us here.  


    Review: The Wolf Among Us Episode 3 - "A Crooked Mile"

    DISCLAIMER: This "review" will be filled to the rim with SPOILERS. Future reviews will also have a similar disclaimer if SPOILERS are contained. This review serves more as a discussion of the events in the game.

    In my eyes, I was truly worried about this episode of The Wolf Among Us. After the way the second episode ended, the rest could easily be predicted if you've read the comics. It implied the cliffhanger character, Icabod Crane, was a normal big, bad serial killer using prostitutes to live his dirty little fantasies about Snow White, which was hinted at in the comics. I thought the next three episodes would have focus on Bigby hunting him down. But, boy, I've never been so happy to be wrong. The third episode of The Wolf Among Us - "A Crooked Mile" - pushes everything in full-throttle and turns the investigation upside down.

    This episode features an incredibly pissed off Bigby Wolf demanding answers and turns the game into a no-holds-barred suspenseful investigation. It starts off immediately where we left off, with Bigby discovering the photo of Ichabod with Beauty, where he then goes to Lily's funeral to talk to Snow and tell her the urgency of the crime. This small funeral scene by Telltale was really touching, and that's what I like about The Wolf Among Us. The gloves are off to do almost anything in this noir-esque New York City with characters from almost any piece of fiction. The Lily funeral scene was very genuine , yet quickly turned suspenseful, but not because there was much action, but because you're worried about what's going to happen to these characters that Telltale has made you grow to love. TweedleDee and TweedleDum invade the funeral to tell Bigby to back off of and with Telltale, you almost never know if what you say will have big consequences. Did telling them to "Fuck Off" ensure the death of one of the characters at the funeral? Luckily, it didn't, but my actions did cause some pretty bad consequences.

    Fast-forward and Bigby and Snow are now in the Fables Business Office with newly-introduced character Dr. Swineheart (who Fables fans know is important to the lore and will discover something vital to Bigby and Snow's future) who gets Bigby all checked up. The next few minutes actually lost me, honestly. We go from Bigby contemplating how to find Crane since he smashed the magic mirror, to Bigby finding a ripped page from a magic spellbook. It's all too convenient, and then Bluebeard comes in and starts rambling about helping to find Crane. I think, it was just something in the pacing of the dialogue that made me lose track of where it was going. Thankfully, it picked itself back up not minutes later and explained enough for me to make a harrowing decision. And this is what I have to praise, I had to actually think about picking where to investigate first because I thought - that much like the first episode - my choice would have some very big consequences.

    The difference for me - and in a good way - that separates TellTale's The Walking Dead from The Wolf Among Us for me personally is that I know who the main character is. I know his motives, his ambitions, his personality and his future. I've read a ton of Fables issues so I know some start and end points for this character. So when making hard decisions, I choose what I honestly think Bigby would do, or I play and act how I think Bigby would act. For example, when investigating Crane's apartment, I ran into Jack and from reading Fables, I know how much of a shit Jack will end up being to Bigby so I try to give him the worst shit I can. I'm a hard ass because Bigby is a hardass and served Fabletown for years trying to protect the city. The ending for example, also lets you to decide to kill someone or not when Bigby is in full Wolf mode, and that was one of my favorite scenes of the episode, actually. But in the end, Telltale really makes the game your own by letting you choose the narrative even if you have an idea of how the character acts, because sometimes, all of the choices are all in the same tone or "morality" column.

    All in all, The Wolf Among Us jams a ton of content into one episode. From it's start as a small investigation into the death of an unknown Fable into a giant conspiracy in Fabletown, I'm nothing but curious as to where they're going with this "Crooked Man" storyline. There has been no references to the comics about Ichabod's early days in Fabletown other than that he embezzled money from the city and had some sexual obsession with Snow White which was obviously portrayed in this episode. I'm not worried that The Wolf Among Us is going to disrupt Fables canon, because honestly, the past episodes have only been adding to the mythology.


    PlayStation Exclusive Content for WATCH DOGS Revealed 


    From Eurogamer comes news detailing the PlayStation exclusive content in the upcoming Ubisoft venture, Watch Dogs, complete with a trailer just for the occasion.

    The cyber-action game hits stores this May after a lengthy series of delays and set-backs; but if you're a PlayStation gamer you'll be getting a few extra missions to envelope you in the virtual and expansive rendition of Chicago.

    Those playing on Sony platforms will get an extra hour of gameplay, split up into four missions, which will delve further into the world of hacker organisation DeadSec.

    PS3 and PS4 gamers will also get an exclusive outfit and a hacker boost, which enables an extra battery slot on your mobile - the rechargable meter which regulates your use of hacking powers.


    PlayStation 4 Expecting Pre-Installment Technology for Games in April 


    Coming from developer Sucker Punch, the force behind the Sly Cooper and iNFAMOUS franchise for Sony, info got spilled on Twitter yesterday hinting at the ability to buy and pre-download games for the PlayStation 4 so that once they are released, players can jump right into the action.

    IGN reports:

    Though we've yet to get any official word about this from Sony, we do know a big patch is on the way next month that's set to include video editing, a HDCP off option and an upgrade in Twitch broadcasting quality.

    The telling part of yesterday's update announcement was the final sentence, which promised, "there’s a lot more coming in this update as well," so it's very possible that pre-loading is going to be one of these currently unannounced features.


    This comes at a pretty big time for Sony, with VR technology in the works as well as swelling sales numbers, the PlayStation 4 seems to be at a good place.

    inFAMOUS: Second Son releases tomorrow. 


    Trailer for CASTLEVANIA: Lords of Shadow 2 DLC: Revelations

    If you're a fan of Mercury Steam's Castlevania: Lords of Shadow series; but felt the ending for Lords of Shadow 2 was a bit underwhelming and wished there was just *something* else, well this might be just for you.

    From Gamespot, who also talked with Lords of Shadow 2 producer David Cox:

    "Alucard's role is given more clarity in the DLC, and players get a much better understanding of the motivations of the characters," according to Konami's Lords of Shadow producer, David Cox.

    Alucard, played by Game of Thrones and KLONDIKE actor Richard Madden, was a very crucial element in Lords of Shadow 2, which if you haven't played it is somewhat hard to discuss.

    Cox went on to say that the DLC should put things in a new light for fans of the series and of the character of Alucard:

    According to Cox, the DLC "gives players a new perspective on the events of the main game. It doesn't change the ending but offers further insight into what and how certain things happened in the game."

    This isn't a simple re-skin either, Alucard's weapon set are two swords (similar to the dual power system in the previous games; but completely unique from Gabriel's in a combat standpoint) that have their own skill-tree, as well as new abilities such as taking the form of a spectral wolf to pass through obstacles, an ability to reach higher vantage points through a cloud of bats, and the new "timeless vision" skill which will allow the player to temporarily rewind the "time" of certain objects.

    Thankfully, the enemies you fight as Alucard have been "customized to present a heftier challenge," according to Cox. Considering combat is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the Lords of Shadow games, this sounds promising, but what of the stealth sections from Lords of Shadow 2 that hampered the overall experience? When I asked Cox if those will return in Revelations, he responded clearly: "No."

    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Revelations is Mercury Steam's final mark on the Lords of Shadow fiction; with Cox saying that the future of the franchise is for "others to write the next chapter", which wasn't clear if that would be a continuation of the LoS universe or a new one altogether.

    As for a next-gen port of Lords of Shadow 2:

    According to Cox, there's "no chance" of that happening.

    The DLC hits PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on March 25.


    Review: The PowerPuff Girls: Defenders Of Townsville

    About a month ago, Cartoon Network and Radian Games revealed a new PowerPuff Girls game headed to Steam featuring the artistic style of the 2014 special that aired on Cartoon Network a while back, as well as the classic artistic style from the original cartoon that we all grew up on and loved. In addition, PowerPuff Girls games don't have the greatest track record. I mean, some can be extremely fun but others are just down-right cashgrabs. However, PowerPuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville is definitely not a cashgrab. It's a fantastic, fun, thought-out Metroidvania-esque video game that is completely addicting and replayable with goregous art, despite being on the short side.

    PowerPuff Girls: Defenders Of Townsville has incredibly great level design accompanied by it's stylistic aesthetic. In the options of the game, switching between "Classic" and "Modern" PowerPuff Girls design doesn't only change the design of the girls, but the entire game world with it. The amount of effort put into that alone is incredible, especially considering how detailed and depthful the enviroments truly are in the game itself. Along with the visual style, in "Classic" mode you can change the amount of pixelation the graphics have to truly get an old-school arcade game feel. In addition to the incredible aesthetics of the game, one of my favorite things about it is the brilliant level design that encourages exploration. The game starts off with the PowerPuff Girls forgetting how to use their powers, so you must collect power-ups to "remember" them which eventually allow you to get past certain obstacles within the level design. After all, it is a Metroidvania-esque game and exploration is a huge part of the genre and PowerPuff Girls incorporates it seamlessly, especially considering the difficulty.

    Level design isn't the title's only highlight as the gameplay is incredibly simple, but fun and evolves along with the progression of the game. The controls are simple and fluid (using an Xbox controller; X/B to punch, Y to switch powerup, A to dash) and mesh together well. The game definitely starts out boring due to the fact that the girls have "forgot" their powers and they must remember them, but very quickly you gain the ability to fly and shoot energy beams from your hands. Soon this evolves into eye laser beams and eventually, a third move unique to each girl that helps progress and unlock certain areas in the map. The gameplay evolves with the player and the progression of the map, and while at times it may seem the girls are overpowered (especially with Charge Attacks), the boss battles will make you think twice about that notion (especially with MoJo JoJo.). To summarize, PowerPuff Girls' gameplay evolves naturally with the player and is incredibly simple to control. It offers rewarding perks to unlock and discover new parts of the map.

    To wrap up, there are very little cons with PowerPuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville. Mainly, in my opinion, the game almost desperately needs a minimap. I kept constantly pressing "Start" to check where I should be heading and where I've been, even though after I while I had almsot memorized the map from viewing it too much. In addition, the boss battles are almost the exact same. Yes, they continue to get harder but they all have the same overall goal; avoid the hits and attack the machine holding the hostage. Finally, the game is way too damn short! The main campaign can be completed in about 4 hours, but there's an additional "story" called "MoJo's Key Quest" which is good for another few hours. Is it worth almost ten dollars? That's up to you to decide, but it's definitely longer than Ground Zeroes.


    PlayStation 4 Review: METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES 


    Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a game you can beat in 2 hours and it's $30. Let's get that out of the way right now. 

    If you're a fan of Metal Gear Solid, the "tactical espionage action" game created for the PlayStation by Hideo Kojima, and I don;t mean "oh they're ok", I mean if you played the originals, the 'Solid' series, the awful Portable Ops, as well as suffered through AC!D and even trudged through Metal Gear Rising: REVENGANCE to get the "full" experience, you will NOT have minded dropping $30 for this game, and let me explain why before getting to the meat and bones of the project.

    Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was released as a more-or-less demo of the end of Big Boss's saga, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The game allows you to get adjusted to the heavily changed gameplay landscape of Metal Gear Solid V, which takes elements from Peace Walker and Guns of the Patriots but ups the ante to about an 11.
    Coupled with breath-taking visuals, Konami integrates this into the gameplay extremely well. No longer is Snake clunky and enemy patterns easy to recognize, and no longer is there the ability to pause the game for rations or weapon and item choices.
    Ground Zeroes forces players to think on their feet from both a tactical and espionage stand-point, coupled with some advanced AI that changes based on guard shifts, alert statuses, and previous encounters, even on 'Normal' difficulty, Ground Zeroes ushers the acclaimed gaming franchise into difficult and uncharted waters.


    There is also no longer an on-screen map with visual cones, instead the player "tags" enemies (similar to Far Cry 3) and must observe and get input from the CODEC which is Kazuhira Miller in Ground Zeroes; but will probably change in The Phantom Pain.

    In short, if you're guaranteed to buy The Phantom Pain; Ground Zeroes is a nessecary purchase as both an introduction into the gameplay, and as a crucial plot based prologue. 

    Ground Zeroes main "mission" is the rescue of Paz and Chico, two children that Big Boss befriends in Peace Walker (I won't go into detail, if you haven't played the games you wouldn't care).
    The voice acting is powerful to say the least, from Kiefer Sutherland (24, Pompeii) as Snake to Tara Strong as Paz and Antony Del Rio as Chico. 


    Despite the game's short run-time; I felt more from Ground Zeroes than I have almost all year in AAA releases. 
    The ending leaves you breathless and leaves you wanting more, so for the hardcore Metal Gear Solid fans: this is a $30 must purchase. 
    And for those who complain about the 2 hour campaign, after beating it, I only had 8% of the game complete.  

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