Plugged In

Review: ‘Madden NFL 18’

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Unlike most years, I opted not to board the “Madden NFL” hype train leading up to launch this time around.

Don’t get me wrong, I always look forward to each new edition of EA Sports’ annual football sim. But for “Madden 18,” I wanted to approach the game with a clean slate. So I tuned out as much pre-launch noise as possible and actively avoided reading others’ thoughts on the game.

“Madden” is one of the most subjective franchises around — some people love it with blind devotion while others refuse to play a single snap if the secondary color on their favorite team’s alternate jersey is the slightest shade too dark — and I’ve found it’s easy to be influenced by those who aren’t looking to get the same experience from the game that I am.

So when I fired up my review copy for the first time late last week, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the series was moving to the Frostbite engine, so I figured it would be really, really pretty, but beyond that I was Jon Snow — I knew nothing.

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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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‘Hitman’ season premiere trailer arrives

Publisher Square-Enix and developer Io-Interactive today have given gamers a fresh look at “Hitman” with the season premiere trailer.

With the first episode launching in just over a week, the new trailer highlights several locations from both the prologue and the first two episodes. A total of six episodes are planned for 2016, with the first arriving March 11.

The recently conducted beta showcased much-improved visuals and the return of the classic open-ended “Hitman” gameplay that has made the series such a success with players. The beta was a welcome return for Agent 47 and certainly whet my appetite for the full version.

“Hitman” is releasing on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. For more information on the game, visit the official “Hitman” website.

‘Uncharted 4’ delayed

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PlayStation 4 owners will have to wait a little longer to get their hands on Nathan Drake’s latest adventure.

SCEA President Shawn Layden announced Tuesday on the PlayStation Blog that “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” will now release two weeks later than expected. Layden says the delay is to allow for additional manufacturing time, which makes sense considering “Uncharted 4” is likely to be one of the hottest-selling PS4 titles of the year.

“Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” will now launch May 10.

In related news, an open multiplayer beta for “Uncharted 4” will run March 4-6.