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Review: ‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’

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At a glance, “Horizon: Zero Dawn” bears a striking resemblance to any number of open-world action games on the market.

The influences are hard to miss, whether it’s the post-apocalyptic world reclaimed by nature (“Fallout”), the protagonist’s ability to see things in the world undetectable to the naked eye thanks to the aid of technology (Rocksteady’s “Batman” series), or how large sections of the game map are revealed by platforming to the top of a tall structure (“Far Cry”).

But look closer and you’ll find a game that, while familiar, succeeds in forging its own path. “Horizon: Zero Dawn” isn’t just another open-world game, it’s one of the best games of any genre I’ve had the pleasure of playing.

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Review: ‘Battlefield 1’

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battlefield1

While other first-person shooters continue to push into the near-future and beyond, developer DICE has taken a step back with its “Battlefield” franchise. Back in time, that is.

Set during the first World War, “Battlefield 1” stands out from the crowd by offering a more grounded shooting experience that draws heavily from the source material with era-specific weapons, vehicles and settings. Indeed, playing “Battlefield 1” is an adrenaline-fueled history lesson that manages to pay reverence to the tens of thousands who fought and died during that brutal conflict while still providing an intense gaming experience.

This is especially true during the campaign, which plays out in a series of stand-alone missions centered around specific characters and their respective stories. Each of these bite-sized adventures also help serve as an introduction to the skills you’ll need to be successful in the game’s multiplayer modes. Whether you’re taking on the role of a hotshot fighter pilot, driving a tank through the German lines or facing insurmountable odds as a member of the Harlem Hellfighters, the single-player portion of “Battlefield 1” is both a learning tool and a painful reminder of the horrors of war.

While the campaign certainly deserves your attention, the real star here is the vast multiplayer suite.

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batman telltale
A scene from “Batman: The Telltale Series, Episode 1.”

Gamers are no strangers to donning the cape and cowl and defending Gotham from all manner of villains as the iconic Batman, thanks in large part to Rocksteady Studio’s classic “Arkham” trilogy. But what happens when the costume comes off and Bruce Wayne is left to fend for himself?

That’s the side of the superhero mythos being explored in “Batman: The Telltale Series.”

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Review: ‘Inside’

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"Inside" is the latest offering from "Limbo" developer Playdead.
“Inside” is the latest offering from “Limbo” developer Playdead.

It’s taken a while, but indie developer Playdead has finally delivered a follow-up to its 2010 smash “Limbo.” And after playing through their latest effort, “Inside,” I can safely say it was worth the wait.

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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

There has been an awakening …

Yes, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was just the shot in the arm that the “Star Wars” film franchise needed after the much-maligned prequel trilogy. And in a similar fashion, “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is exactly the kind of effort developer Traveller’s Tales needed to deliver in order to get its family-friendly video game series back on track after a string of so-so offerings.

As such, “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is easily the most enjoyable LEGO-branded game since “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes” way back in 2013.

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Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is nearly upon us, but fans looking to experience America’s Pastime on the digital diamond needn’t wait any longer.

Whether you’re looking for a no-frills pick up and play title, an insanely deep text-based sim or a highly detailed virtual recreation of the sport, there’s a video game for that. Here’s a look at this year’s offerings, peanuts and Cracker Jack not included:

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Review: ‘Layers of Fear’

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layers of fear

When it comes to horror games, I have no problem dealing with hordes of zombies or twisted creatures ripped straight from someone’s nightmares. It’s the unseen terrors, those things that go bump in the night and lurk in the dark corners of the mind, that make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

And that’s exactly the kind of horror you’ll find in “Layers of Fear,” the recent release from independent development studio Bloober Team.

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twd michonne

Telltale Games has already shown it knows how to tell a compelling original story within Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead” universe. But what about crafting a game around a well-established and beloved character?

If the debut episode of “The Walking Dead: Michonne” is any indication, the developer is up to the challenge.

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Review — ‘Dying Light: The Following’

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I thoroughly enjoyed Techland’s “Dying Light” when it released early last year. You can see how much I liked it by checking out my review.

What I liked most about “Dying Light” wasn’t its parkour-style movement system, though that was definitely cool. It wasn’t the story or the seemingly endless weapon crafting options. No, what I liked most about the parkour-infused survival-horror romp was the high tension created once the sun went down and the zombie threat ramped up.

The game’s first major DLC expansion, the recently released “The Following,” changes things up quite a bit by introducing a large new area to explore and, more significantly, bringing vehicles into the mix. I was initially concerned that the inclusion of vehicles would eliminate those tense moments that made “Dying Light” so memorable. Let’s face it, zombies aren’t that scary when you’re running them over in your souped-up buggy.

But all it took was one ill-timed trip into the countryside to put my fears to rest.

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video

Review: ‘Gravity Rush Remastered’

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Just because a gaming system fails to find an audience doesn’t necessarily mean the platform lacks quality software. The PlayStation Vita is a perfect example.

Sony’s powerful handheld may have struggled to gain a foothold in the crowded mobile market, but it was home to several very good games. Unfortunately many of those titles went unnoticed by the majority of gamers who didn’t own a Vita.

Now Sony is giving one of these games a second chance.

“Gravity Rush,” which first launched on the Vita in 2012, makes the move to PlayStation 4 today with the release of “Gravity Rush Remastered.” Developed by Bluepoint Games (SCE Studios Japan created the original), the port features enhanced high-definition graphics, an improved frame-rate and the same great gravity-defying gameplay that made the original such a unique experience.

gravityrushPlayers control Kat, a young girl with a missing memory and the ability to manipulate gravity. The gameplay possibilities that come with her special talents elevate “Gravity Rush Remastered” above most traditional action-platformers. Whether it’s turning a floor into a wall or bending gravity in order to gain a fresh perspective during combat, Kat’s abilities make her a powerful protagonist. The story is equally engaging, as Kat proves to be as personable as she is powerful.

“Gravity Rush Remastered” is a terrific addition to the PS4 library and well worth a look even if you’ve already experienced the original on Vita. It’s also a fine opportunity to get familiar with the characters and gameplay before the full-blown sequel arrives on PS4 later this year.

“Gravity Rush Remastered”

Developer: Bluepoint Games

Publisher: SCEA

Available for: PlayStation 4

Rating: T for teen

Score: 8.0/10