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Review: ‘NASCAR Heat 2’

nascarheat2There was a series of events during the running of the Daytona 500 in my “NASCAR Heat 2” season mode that pretty much boils down my experiences with the game in a nutshell.

As the laps ticked down in the final stage, I had methodically worked my way up through the field when practically every AI-controlled car decided to come to pit road under green at the same time — something that never, ever happens in an actual NASCAR race.

As one could imagine, this caused a massive pile-up. As I veered off the track and onto the infield grass in hopes of avoiding the carnage, my eyes were drawn to a car flipping over and over and over again down the track. It was the No. 33 of Jeffrey Earnhardt, and it was the kind of crash that any driver would simply be happy to walk away from in one piece.

Yet Earnhardt didn’t walk away. Or even get out of his car. Nope, he stayed strapped into his ride and went on to race the final 15 laps, finishing on the lead lap, just outside the top 10.

All I could do was put down my controller and shake my head.

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‘Destiny 2’ impressions — The first week

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“Destiny 2,” the ambitious first-person shooter from Bungie and Activision, has been out in the wild for a week now. During that time, I’ve been doing my part to return Light to the universe and, of course, collect as much sweet loot as possible.

Though “Destiny 2,” like its predecessor, is largely designed to be played with a group, I have again decided to take the lone-wolf approach to experiencing all the game has to offer. I’ve spent the first week focusing on the campaign and tackling an assortment of story-driven side quests available, known as Adventures. I’ve also lent my rifle to helping other Guardians take down bad guys in large-scale public events — not to make friends, of course, but to collect that lovely loot and level up my own Guardian so that I can continue on my mission.

I’ve not yet finished the campaign, so I’m not going to assign an official score to “Destiny 2” today. Instead, I thought I’d offer up a few observations from my time with my review copy thus far:

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We’re less than 24 hours from taking the court in “NBA 2K18” as the free demo, dubbed The Prelude, launches Friday. To mark the occasion, 2K Sports has released a new trailer highlighting what we can expect.

Available free for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners, The Prelude lets gamers take their first steps into The Neighborhood, 2K18’s new shared-world mode.

“NBA 2K18” launches Sept. 15 on PS4 and Xbox One.

 

New ‘Middle-earth: Shadow of War’ trailer

This week’s “Middle-earth: Shadow of War” trailer spotlights the expanded Nemesis System, which tracks your interactions with orcs in the game world and scripts their personal stories accordingly.

For example, sparing an orc in battle may lead to him joining your crusade as a follower. Likewise, lopping his arm off is something he’ll remember, too, and may cause him to rise up against you later.

The Nemesis System was one of the highlights of the first “Middle-earth” game and I’m excited to see how it has been expanded and improved upon for “Shadow of War.” Check out the video above for a closer look at the Nemesis System in action.

“Middle-earth: Shadow of War” launches Oct. 10 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

It can — and probably is —  said every year, but the roster for this year’s WWE video game is shaping up to be the most impressive collected.

Indeed, the most recent group of 43 playable characters announced for “WWE 2K18” continues the trend from the first two roster reveals by including NXT stars, established main-roster guys (and girls), popular legends and a few first-timers.

The big names that jumped out at me from this week’s list are two of those aforementioned first-timers, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, formerly known as the tag team DIY. Like many fans, I was pretty bummed that the “powers that be” saw fit to break up this duo, so I’m already looking forward to correcting that wrong and reuniting them in my virtual WWE universe.

For a look at another tag team making its series debut, check out the entrance video for the Authors of Pain above.

Here’s the complete list of names revealed this week: Akam, Alexa Bliss, Apollo Crews, Asuka, Big Cass, Carmella, Cedric Alexander, Chad Gable, Chris Jericho, Dana Brooke, Dash Wilder, Finn Bálor, Jason Jordan, Jimmy Garvin, Johnny Gargano, Kevin Owens, Lex Luger, Michael P.S. Hayes, Mick Foley, Miss Jacqueline, Mr. Perfect, Neville, Nia Jax, Nick Miller, Randy Savage, Razor Ramon, Rezar, Ric Flair, Rick Martel, Rick Rude, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Rikishi, Roderick Strong, Rusev, Samoa Joe, Scott Dawson, Seth Rollins, Shane Thorne, TJP, Tommaso Ciampa, Tye Dillinger and Vader.

“WWE 2K18” releases Oct. 17 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

2K is bringing together some of the most popular elements from its “NBA 2K” franchise to create The Neighborhood, a virtual online world that lets players experience the life of a basketball star on and off the court.

In The Neighborhood, you and your MyPLAYER avatar can interact with other players and AI characters in various activities such as shopping for new gear at Foot Locker or getting a new haircut at the local barbershop. Oh, and you can play some hoops, too.

For more on what to expect in The Neighborhood, check out the trailer above. “NBA 2K18” launches Sept. 19, but gamers can get an early taste of the game Sept. 8 with “The Prelude,” a free downloadable experience that lets you begin your journey toward NBA stardom.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has unleashed a new video for “Middle-earth: Shadow of War,” this one highlighting the Terror tribe of orcs you’ll encounter during your adventures in Mordor.

Here’s a quick description of what to expect from the tribal system, courtesy of the news release:

“In ‘Shadow of War,’ orcs now belong to tribes, which extend their influence stemming from the Overlords ruling the mighty fortresses throughout the open world, providing a rich ecosystem of missions, exploration and a dynamic Orc society with diverse Orc cultures, all brought to life through the expanded Nemesis System. As master tormentors, the Terror tribe rely on their infamous reputations to inspire fear among their enemies.”

‘Middle-earth: Shadow of War’ launches Oct. 10 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been legitimately excited for a new “Call of Duty” game, but I am downright giddy with anticipation over “Call of Duty: WWII.”

Thankfully we won’t have to wait much longer to get our hands on the multiplayer portion of Activision’s FPS as the private beta — available to players who pre-order the game — is slated to run Aug. 25 -28 for PlayStation 4 users. A second beta, for both PS4 and Xbox One gamers, will begin Sept. 1 .

For more information about what to expect in the beta, click here and be sure to check out the trailer above.

 

Review: ‘Batman: The Enemy Within’ Episode 1

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The announcement last month of a second season for Telltale’s Batman series was certainly a welcome one. The first five-episode arc of “Batman: A Telltale Series” was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I was hopeful Telltale would give us another opportunity to don the cowl and become the Caped Crusader once more.

And if the first episode of “Batman: The Enemy Within” is any indication, this season appears poised to surpass the original both in terms of quality and surprises.

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Review: ‘Battlefield 1’

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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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