Plugged In

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

batman_ep1

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’

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’

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’

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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