I didn’t get to spend as much time with Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric as I would’ve liked, but the taste I got was promising. The Sonic series has been on shaky ground for a while now, managing maybe one genuinely good game for every two or three mediocre ones. As I stated in my review, last year’s Sonic Lost World was basically half of a good game brought down by poor execution and lack of focus. Sega’s venerable Sonic Team is taking a step back from the franchise, letting American developer Big Red Button try their luck. This may seem like blasphemy to some longtime fans, but after sampling Big Red Button’s work, I have to say this might be exactly what the Sonic series needs.
The problem with Sonic, at least in 3D, is that the series never knew exactly what it wanted to be. Is it a platformer? An action game? An adventure? Games like Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast copped ideas from Spyro and Banjo Kazooie, but their camera system couldn’t keep up with Sonic when he needed to speed up. Lost World stole a lot of great ideas from Mario Galaxy, but the controls were cumbersome. And Sonic 2006…well that was an unholy mess.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric takes a hybrid approach, breaking up the gameplay into manageable chunks that do things differently but work well together. I played the E3 demo at the airstream, and while my concerns haven’t been completely dispelled, there is promise here. The basic free-roaming adventure gameplay resembles a brawler, with Sonic and his allies exploring closed-off levels and beating robots into scrap. The combat is pretty basic stuff, but at least it’s a tangible element; past games have used enemies as cheap speedbumps, or as platforms in and of themselves for Sonic to auto-target and bounce across. Sonic can also pick up standalone weapons, such as a giant extendo-hand for slapstick attacks.
These levels have boost pads and other features that require Sonic to spin-dash to reach new areas, but the gameplay stays tight and focused; you won’t be dropping the controller for 30 seconds as Sonic speeds through a loop completely on his own. As Sonic Boom is a co-op ready experience, Sonic will usually have a partner you can swap to at any time. In this level he was accompanied by Amy Rose. I know longtime fans hate Sonic’s cluttered roster of sidekicks, but the developers are actually giving them something useful to do this time, and thankfully it isn’t fishing.
Amy had her own distinct attack style—using her signature megaton hammer—but she could also get to places Sonic couldn’t. While Sonic is fast, Amy has some parkour abilities so she can balance on pipes and other structures to reach new areas. Beating a level actually requires that you swap between characters fairly often, so I’m interested to see what Tails, Sticks and Knuckles are capable of.
In previous games the ”fast” gameplay sections were usually separated from other levels or worse, dropped haphazardly in the middle of one. To a certain degree that’s still true here but it’s handled much better. Toward the middle of the stage I was chased down a winding tunnel by a giant robot spider, and this sequence was clearly all about speed. Grabbing rings was a lot easier, and once I managed to outrun the spider, the level continued normally. These speed sections might be scripted, but at least they’re well integrated into the main gameplay and they certainly don’t play themselves the way Sonic Adventure did.
The controls were a bit stiff and the camera got hung up on the scenery a bit, but that’s to be expected of an E3 demo. Hopefully those issues will be resolved in the final game, as a third person camera has been Sonic’s true nemesis for years now. The most optimistic thing I can say about Sonic Boom is that it’s different. I felt like for years Sonic Team kept going back to the same well, polishing and re-arranging the same variables in the ancient formula they built for Sonic Adventure. Sometimes this worked surprisingly well—as in Sonic Colors—but other times it was disastrous, as in 2006. But often it was just underwhelming, like in Lost World. A fresh perspective is what’s needed to give Sonic the decent game he’s deserved for over a decade now.
Microsoft is knocking $50 off the price of every single Xbox One this holiday season; your move, PlayStation 4. Chrysler is employing "video games" to train its personnel--though it's not much more than a multiple-choice quiz with a leaderboard. And Twitch now asks that you "dress...appropriately" while you're streaming.
What are you playing this weekend?
Russell Archey, staff writer, @NeoScyther
This weekend I'll be continuing my art training at the Pokemon Art Academy. I will say that I feel like my art skills have improved some since starting and I am enjoying the game so far, minus a few things here and there. I still need to try uploading my own image into the game to try and draw. Likely I'll just find a good image of Scyther on the internet somewhere. Beyond that I'm hoping to make more progress with my Pokemon Blue Nuzlocke Run over on YouTube. My last video ended after beating Brock at the Pewter City Gym which means...my next stop is Mt. Moon, home of the Zubats. This isn't going to go very well, is it?
Nathaniel Cohen, staff writer, @seven_hells
Well, after failing to win a single piece of silverware in my second season as Everton manager for the first time in any FIFA career mode season (good for you FIFA 15!), I'll be getting right back on the FIFA horse. When I'm not doing that, I'll be following Gollum around in Shadow of Mordor (because that seems to be a big part of the game so far). Also, thanks to Gamefly, I'll be playing the singleplayer modes only in Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4. At this point, even I'm getting sick of the sturm und drang of modern military shooters, but whatever.
Sean Colleli, staff writer, @scolleli
I picked up Bayonetta 2 on Mr. Mirkovich's recommendation. The special edition includes an enhanced Wii U port of the original game on its own disc, no less. I missed the first Bayonetta back when it was released on 360 and PS3, so I'll be playing through that game before tackling the sequel. I recommend getting the retail version of Bayonetta 2, because getting two of the best action games ever made for $60 seems like a pretty good deal to me.
Jeremy Duff, senior staff writer, @Duff3c
This weekend is all about the world of Halo in my household as I continue to dig into the upcoming Master Chief Collection. I actually hope to do a little streaming of a couple of missions from the various games in the collection (although the embargo requirements are pretty limited as to what I can show). Plus, I hope to get back into exploring Shadow of Mordor, as I love lopping off orc heads at will.
Travis Huinker, staff writer, @travishuinker
This weekend I'll be playing many hours of recently released Civilization: Beyond Earth as I'll fall into the never ending trap of "one more turn." I also plan to start planting crops and driving around tractors in Farming Simulator 15.
Charles Husemann, editor-in-chief, @chusemann
Gaming is going to be limited, as I've managed to line up an Ohio sports hat trick of hockey, soccer, and football this weekend. When we aren't at the events, I'm going to be digging into the Evolve Big Alpha and then a bit of Destiny to round out the shooting fun. I'm also hoping to spend some time with Tie Fighter and X-Wing, as I've been waiting for years to dive back into those jewels.
Randy Kalista, staff writer, @RandyKalista
Since there are actually people that still buy inventory items on Steam, I had the $2.37 to buy The Moon Sliver. Apparently I'm in the mood for a new empty-island story with explore 'em up gameplay features (hi, Dear Esther). While my wife and I continue marathoning Gilmore Girls, I'll build on my Tiny Death Star progress—I think I have a couple dozen levels constructed—and bulking up my walls in Age of Empires: Castle Siege.
Rob Larkin, staff writer, @Rob_GN
I don't think I'll be playing at all this weekend. Which is especially disappointing considering it is the Evolve Big Alpha that I was so looking forward to. Got family coming in from out of the country for a visit, so it will be country drives and a trip to Hampton Palace Court, residence of King Henry VIII.
It's become sort of a tradition for Activision to produce some live action trailer for a Call of Duty game. Here's their latest effort to promote Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Directed by Peter Berg of Battleship and The Rundown, the trailer stars Taylor Kitsch. Taylor's been in such films X-Men Origins: Wolverine and John Carter, which was a pretty good movie.
The live action trailer shows what a power suit could look like in real life and Peter Berg does a great job in putting together some high energy action sequences that makes it look like you are superhuman.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare hits home on November 3rd.
Since BioWare went all in on the save-file transfer game with Mass Effect and Dragon Age, I've played them all with both save-file transfer and non-save-file transfer profiles. The worlds where you import previous save-files are always more interesting but it's not always convenient to spend 100 hours playing games just to import the save-file.
The Mass Effect franchise's work around was a motion comic that let you make key decisions with the idea of actual save-file editing being tossed around for Mass Effect 4.
Dragon Age has the brand new Dragon Age Keep. Simply log in with Origin and craft your Dragon Age: Inquisition setting however you see fit. I've only just dove into DA: I (you can expect my review for Gaming Nexus in a few weeks) and haven't yet checked out Dragon Age Keep, but since I have no Dragon Age save-files on a Sony console, I'm going to directly.
Check out the video to learn more. Find full details on Dragon Age: Inquisition after the jump.
A few days ago, Frontier pushed out Beta 3 for Elite: Dangerous. Besides adding a ton more systems to explore, Beta 3 adds some really cool new features.
Scooping up fuel from stars will let you refuel in times of need, but just be careful on how hot your ship gets. Want to do some mining? Asteroids abound in space and you can now see if there are any goods in there to make money off of.
You're no longer stuck with one ship as you can now own multiple ships. Outfit each one to your needs and take out the ones you need.
There a great deal more put in as the game races towards release. Q4 2014 is still the time frame that Frontier has for the release of Elite: Dangerous. Of course, you can get into the beta now for $75, or wait until the game's released and nab it for $50.
If you like space sims, trust me this is a no brainer to pick up.
The last time I wrote about Prey 2 was in April of 2012 when Bethesda released an official statement saying the game wasn't cancelled.
Today, that changes as Pete Hines of Bethesda has told IGN that Prey 2 is now officially cancelled.
Prey 2 has has a long and difficult road with many obstacles to overcome, but in the end Bethesda didn't think the quality of the game being produced was up to their standards and the game's no longer in development. It's a little sad too as I heard great things from many people that saw it at E3 a few years ago.
Bethesda isn't closing the door on the Prey universe, but it might be a long time before they try and go back to it.
It’s no secret that I am an absolute sucker for any kind of collectible item related to video games. I love figures art and all sorts of collectible items and this creation is the perfect example of why. First 4 Figures has revealed their latest creation which comes directly from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. it is GORGEOUS.
The figure which is of Link flying on Loftwing; it is intricately designed and detailed, looking absolutely amazing. Then again, it should for the price that they are asking for: $459.99. You can't tell me that thing would look cool sitting on either your desk or entertainment center. They are only producing 2,500 of these, so if you want one you should head over to their website and place your order now.
As GN's premier swag hound, it shouldn't be too surprising that I'm a member of the better sampling and "freebie" sites on the web. I've been a Klout member since the social media metric company debuted. So after a few weeks of vacation from all things web, I signed into my email, and found that I had a "perk" (aka social media marketing opportunity with freebies and/or contests as bait) related to Advanced Warfare. Activision is providing Call of Duty:Advanced Warfare coffee mugs as a perk to bring people into a contest that gives Klout members the opportunity to win their way into the prizes from game related gear to a grand prize of a trip to San Francisco. Klout members just have to tweet the link to the AW trailer and are entered each time for doing so.
For fans of the game who are actively involved in social media, it's quite an opportunity. Just tweeting to win, basically. As a game journalist, I am not participating in the "tweet to win" part, but I definitely took them up on the coffee mug while I got just for signing up to find out what they were doing. So if the AW trailer seems to be more heavily present in your tweet stream than other new titles coming out, this could be part of it.
SMITE got a new patch this week, which brought to the game Nox, the goddess of the night and the "Orbital Strike" skin for Rama.
The Nox reveal trailer can be seen below and features her lore as well as a rundown of all of her abilities in action along with some useful tips for using her in Conquest mode. You can also check out the trailer for "Orbital Strike" Rama which shows off his new skin along with all of the special FX added to his abilities.
If you are unfamiliar with SMITE, it's a third person MOBA which is free to play and is currently available on PC and will be coming to Xbox One as well in the future. As someone that played a crapload of Super Monday Night Combat, the one thing that attracted me to SMITE was the fact that you controlled all of the action. WASD controls in a third person perspective is what I absolutely love about this game and I would rather control my characters than point and click their way around the battlefield like other MOBA's do.