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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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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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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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A big week for “The Walking Dead” fans just got a little bigger as Telltale Games has announced the release date for the first episode of its three-part miniseries centered around everyone’s favorite sword-swinging loner, Michonne.

“The Walking Dead: Michonne” makes its debut on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC on February 23 with the premiere episode, “In Too Deep.” Additional episodes are slated to follow in March and April. The complete series will retail for $15.

A Telltale Games press release offered the following summary for the first episode:

In this premiere episode, ‘In Too Deep,’ Michonne joins Pete and his crew on the sailing ship The Companion as they cruise the coast for survivors and supplies. When a desperate signal for help draws them to a scene of horrific massacre, Michonne and the crew are lead further to the floating survivors’ colony of Monroe, which may just be harboring the person responsible for the carnage. 

In other “The Walking Dead” news, the AMC series returns for the second half of Season 6 Sunday at 9 p.m.

‘Layers of Fear’ looks terrifying

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A room full of floating doll heads. What could possibly be scary about that?
A room full of floating doll heads. What could possibly be scary about that?

I’ve always been a huge fan of horror games. It’s an obsession that began with “Resident Evil” and continued through the likes of “Condemned” and “Outlast” and, most recently, the grossly underrated “Until Dawn.”

But if the screenshots I’ve seen (like the one above) are any indication, “Layers of Fear,” the upcoming release from Bloober Team, may well be the game that forces me to sleep with the lights on.

In “Layers of Fear,” you assume the role of an insane painter trying to desperately to finish his masterpiece from inside the confines of a spooky Victorian-era mansion. This descent into madness results in a constantly shifting and changing game world, one in which doors can vanish after you pass through them and paintings change with each look. It sounds like psychological horror at its best, which is something I’ve been craving ever since I walked down that hallway in “PT.”

After enjoying a successful run on Steam Early Access, “Layers of Fear” is set to be released to the masses on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 February 16.

Make no mistake about it — I love Ubisoft’s “Far Cry” franchise. And when the latest installment, “Far Cry Primal,” was announced last October, I was genuinely excited. “Far Cry” with perhaps a dash of “Apocalypto” and woolly mammoths? Sign me up.

What intrigues me most about “Primal” is its unique setting, and how the shift back in time should fundamentally change how you approach situations within the game. The “Far Cry” series helped define the open-world first-person shooter genre, but with “Primal” taking place during the Stone Age, this clearly isn’t going to be a typical FPS. And that opens up a world of possibilities.

I’m hoping to see a greater emphasis on crafting weapons from the materials you scavenge. I want to see more stealth options available since going into a fight with guns blazing isn’t exactly going to work in a world without guns. Fire has always played a key role in “Far Cry,” and I’m hoping to see it become an even more integral tool in “Primal.”

The ability to control animals is another feature that could be unbelievably cool — if implemented well. Taming predators and using them as weapons against your enemies? Again, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Hopefully there’s a honey badger roaming around somewhere to sic on unsuspecting foes, because those little guys were relentless in “Far Cry 4.”

If everything comes together, “Far Cry Primal” could become one of the year’s most exciting titles. After all, the struggle to remain at the top of the food chain isn’t something you find in most games. Luckily we won’t have to wait much longer to find out as the game launches Feb. 23 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

‘Doom’ launching May 13

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Publisher Bethesda Softworks has revealed that the next installment in the pioneering first-person shooter franchise “Doom” will launch May 13 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Developed by id Software, “Doom” will again pit players against the forces of Hell in a “brutally fun and challenging modern-day shooter experience.” Multiplayer is, unsurprisingly, a major focus with several different game modes and a new SnapMap game editor that allows player to create and share content.

The studio also announced plans for a collector’s edition of the game, which includes a 12-inch statue of a Revenant demon and a copy of the game packaged in a “battle-worthy metal case.” The collector’s edition will retail for $119.99.