inFAMOUS First Light Review

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inFAMOUS First Light gets us back into the city of Seattle, this time with the hyper-colorful Fetch. It’s fantastic to learn her origins, but will this second dose of neon be enough to light our hearts? Watch the video for the full review.

+Beautiful and vibrant art design

+Great to see Fetch’s backstory

+Game controls wonderfully

-Some missions fall flat

-The city feels unimportant

-Challenge modes get repetitive



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Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition Review

Guacamelee Screen Shot 7:23:14, 8.42 PM

Check Out Our Video Review

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Juan Aguacate is a simple man. He spends his days as an agave farmer, toiling in the fields of Pueblucho, and pining for the daughter of El Presidente’. After helping a local holy man he gets invited to a fiesta by the very apple of his eye, only to be cut off while on his merry way by Carlos Calaca and his troupe supernatural ne’er-do-wells. Amidst the resulting fire, Calaca escapes with the young lady and Juan is no more. That is just the beginning of Juan’s journey. After Juan awakens in the death-realm version of his hometown, a female Luchador named Tostada meets him. She is the guardian of the mask that Juan now wears, empowering him to right the wrongs in the world of the living.

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In this era of “what is old is new again”, the 2D side scrolling platformer has made a wonderful comeback. The newest jewel in this crown in Gucamelee!: Super Turbo Championship Edition. This Metroidvania champion is the love child of DrinkBox Studios, a Canadian firm best known for smaller titles “Tales from Space: About a Blob” and its follow-up “Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack”.

The combat in Guacamelee! is tight and fantastic. As you progress through the story, you are presented with a wacky goat-man who teaches you new fighting maneuvers, but only after smashing his comically-named (and blatant tip of the hat to Metroid-named) Choozo statues. For every destroyed piece of art, you get one new wrestling move that will help you not only destroy your skeleton enemies, but also opens up new areas for you. As you progress and gather abilities, your goatly pal Uay Chivo gets tired of naming them so you go from impressive-sounding attacks like “Rooster Uppercut” to the lackadaisical-sounding “Dashing Derderp”. Don’t let the name fool you though, each attack has its merits and will help you along your path to face-punching your enemies.


The story is a twist on the classics, but with a Mexican flair. Rescuing El Presidente’s daughter is the main motivating factor of Guacamelee, and as usual she is always in another castle. What really sets the story apart is the brilliance in its writing. The characters are all (clears throat) fleshed out and very much individuals in their own right. The scripting is tight and funny and if you are like me, you will have some laugh-out-loud moments along with a few poignant ones to even out the comedic foundation. You will want to know more about Juan and by the end you are rooting for his victory.

Guacamelee is fun, beautifully maddening, and a joy from beginning to end. The crispness of the controls are only matched by the impeccable art and writing that leaves you wanting more. The Super Turbo Championship Edition also includes new powers (Intenso is a sight to behold), a new boss, new music, and every piece of DLC from the previous versions.

I highly recommend you play this latest version and ask you this question: Will you be able to save your love with your new powers? Take on Calaca and find out for yourself.

We give Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition a



Reviewed on Xbox One

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Sparking Creativity

“Are games art?” This is a phrase that has been hotly debated in and around games almost since the first quarter was inserted into Space Invaders. Well, I’m here to put the debate to rest; games ARE art! Or at least they definitely have the potential to be so. The ability for users to create beautiful, fantastic, and fun experiences, when given the tools has been truly inspiring. A quick glimpse of User Generated Content (UGC) from games like Little Big Planet 2 and Minecraft shows just how eager people are to create, and recreate their favorite worlds.

 The newest entry in the “create your own world” game genre truly has the potential to completely change the gaming landscape. This game is Microsoft in house studio Team Dakota’s Project Spark. Project Spark is currently available in beta form for the Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs as well as Xbox One consoles. Like the aforementioned Little Big Planet and free-to-play PC game RoBlox, Project Spark allows users to create game experiences that run the gamut. Some of the games that I’ve been able to play in my limited time with the game have included a 3D adventure game, a pinball game where the “table” is a village and the bumpers are trees and a scenery demo where its only purpose was to allow you to travel via cable car from one mountain to another.


The amazing thing about this game is the ease with which a game world can be created. Mountains can be raised, lowered, deformed or smoothed. When inputting characters in the world, users customize the characters behavior via the character’s brain. The brain is a logic based, visual basic like template of simple When/Do statements. While initially simple it can be utilized in incredibly complex ways. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

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When I first learned of this game at 2013’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) I was intrigued but not necessarily excited. Like Little Big Planet before it, I was intrigued by the idea that I could create games from the depths of my imagination but found the execution to be daunting and/or limiting. It was with much trepidation therefore that I redeemed my beta key for Project Spark and entered the tutorial. Within 5 minutes of use, my trepidation turned to intrigue. In 10 minutes my intrigue morphed into unbridled excitement.


Episode 4 of the Spawn On Me podcast featured an interview with indie game developer, Shawn Alexander Allen, and his upcoming beat-em up RPG Treachery In Beatdown City. One of the most “controversial” elements of the game is the fact that the protagonists are minorities. It wasn’t until it was mentioned that I really thought critically about the lack of minority, non-stereotypical protagonists. If you exclude games where gamers have the choice of main character, there have only been a handful of games where the campaign’s story is told from the point of view of a person of color. Even fewer of those games present a protagonist that isn’t “stereotypical”. Prototype 2’s James Heller is a Iraq war veteran and Prey’s Tommy is a mechanic and also an Army vet. Even The Walking Dead: The Game’s Lee Everett, who is a professor by trade, is also a convicted double murderer by the time we meet him.


I think about my son, completing his junior year of high school, and the pride he displayed in his RoBlox game creations. Project Spark has the potential to not only allow him to create more sophisticated versions of the games he created years ago but also has the ability to evolve his pastime to a passion and then potentially to a profession. There’s a whole generation of young gamers who haven’t been burdened with the knowledge of decades worth of gaming. They can produce ideas that have as of yet been conceived. It makes me terribly excited for the future of gaming that users have the ability to define the experiences their peers will enjoy. As Shawn Allen’s foundation plainly states “You Can Make Games Too”.

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What the future holds for the free-to-play Project Spark is completely up to the community. Will they take to it? Will there be compelling gameplay mechanics that we’ve never seen before in gaming? If the past is any indicator, the answer is an emphatic “Yes!”. I’m eager to see the first ametuer game creator who gets a job making games as a result of their Project Spark masterpiece.

 What do you guys think? Have you joined the beta and have some thoughts? Are you as excited for the future as I am?  Let me know in the comments below.


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OlliOlli Mixes Up A Salad Grind Of Awesome

If you combined the 8-bit motif of an endless runner like Canabalt with the skateboarder based gameplay of a Tony Hawk, what would you get? You would get my latest gaming addiction called OlliOlli. The newest game from developers Roll7 released this past week has been in constant rotation on my Vita system.

OlliOlli satiates all my sensory needs while providing hours of drop in-drop out gameplay with its easy pick up and play feel. A simple control scheme consisting of different holds on the left analog stick will get you started with basic tricks. Adding quarter-circles and pushes of the left or right “triggers” will add spins and more difficult maneuvers to the mix. Doing all this, and hitting the “X” button right when you land will end that particular trick string and get you a combined score.

Performing all these tricks at first was daunting; you quickly learn the cadence of pulling off a move then adding a quick grind to build speed and momentum. This inertia is important both for finishing the level and clearing upcoming gaps in the track.  The learning curve can be steep if you want to complete each level’s task, but man is it satisfying when you do. Seeing your score grow with each perfected trick never gets old and committing each stage to memory so you can get better scores is never tiresome.

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I’m Better Than You

Taking a page from the genius that is Spelunky’s daily challenges Roll7 added their own version for OlliOlli. They even did one better by letting you practice your run before having to take on that particular day’s course.  I’ve found that weirdly no matter how much I practice it adds an extra level of angst to my daily run. I get so nervous trying to put up a good score that I wind up falling on my face way earlier than I’d like, even with that said I’m really happy the option is in there.

The Award For…

Whoever was in charge of music for this game needs to be hugged, promoted and paraded through the Canyon of Heroes. I’ts been a very long time since I’ve played a game where the fusion of soundtrack and gameplay worked so flawlessly together. Pulsating bass-y tracks featuring various genres ranging from Electronic to Bebop Jazz are there to soak in and add to the total experience. If you would like to check out some of the songs go here:

Check out track  number eight “Long Arm” from The Roots, it is by far my favorite and is REDONKULOUSLY DOPE!

Huge shout out to Nick Kosmides for putting this together on Youtube.


People who are looking for a game to pick up on their Vita system must pick this one up. OlliOlli 50/50 grinds its way between accessible for those on-the-go and folks who have been looking for deceptively deep scoreboard climbing play. Roll7 has made a superb game I am excited for what comes next.

If you’ve played OlliOlli, let us know what you think of the game so far in the comments below.

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Xbox One is shown on display during a press event unveiling Microsoft's new Xbox in Redmond

We got an Xbox One. Here’s our Impressions…

My Xbox One Experience

The next generation of gaming is here!  Some would argue, incorrectly, I might add, that it began last year with Nintendo’s release of their WiiU console. Most would agree, however, that the “Next Gen Race” has only two ponies and they’re named Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Sony’s Playstation 4 console released in North America on November 15th with Microsoft’s Xbox One released one week later in 13 territories. I’ve been an active gamer for all of console gaming’s eight generations, but it wasn’t until the last generation of gaming that I could justify purchasing more than one home console concurrently, and I did so by buying both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. I knew, going forward, that with both consoles releasing within days of each other this year, I would only be able to purchase one immediately.  Based on my proclivity for social and multiplayer gaming within a secure online community, my choice for my next console seemed very clear; at its launch, I bought an Xbox One.

Day One: It arrives

November 22, 2005 – I waited out in the (literal) freezing temperatures outside of an Albany, NY Target for 6 hours in the hopes of purchasing one of the 30 Xbox 360s they had at launch. I was successful and while it was a fond memory, to be sure, allow me to paraphrase Lethal Weapon’s Det. Murtaugh, “I’m too old for this stuff!”. So, for November 22, 2013, I decided that getting my Day One edition of an Xbox One on day one was just as good as getting it at midnight. Again, my choice was easy; Amazon was getting my pre-order which meant I was going to be able to sit home and “relax” until the UPS man knocked on the door. That moment arrived right around noon with me attempting to feign a level of coolness about getting the new toy I had literally been waiting months to receive.

Some time earlier in the year, I made a decision: I had no desire to purchase physical media any more. As a Playstation Plus member, I’ve been able to appreciate having multiple “full-sized” games live directly on my console and have absolutely loved the ease with which switching from one game to another was accomplished. While it was Sony who introduced day and date digital releases to the console world, it was Microsoft who decided to adopt this policy for the Xbox One. Utilizing the Kinect 2.0’s voice recognition meant that switching from game to game, or game to app, or any machination therein, would become easier than it’s ever been. It also meant that I was gearing up for a day more full of downloads and installs than jubilations and explosions.

Xbox One Day One Edition

Taking it out of the box, I was surprised at how substantial the Xbox One is. It’s at least 30% larger than the Xbox 360 Slim and probably closer in size to the original Xbox. The Kinect 2.0 (which is included with every Xbox One)  also looks more like a product and less like a prototype when compared to the original Kinect. It’s also slightly smaller than the original. The external power brick shares the Xbox One’s refined look but also the 360’s girth. Many are disappointed with Microsoft’s decision to not internalize the power supply to match the PS4, but I am not one of those people. I think the decision to keep the power, and all the heat it generates, as far away from the console as possible was a good one, especially considering how long Microsoft intends for you to have your Xbox One powered on (more on that in a bit).


Now to the thing gamers care about the most: the controller. It’s great! No really, it’s damn nice to hold in your hands. If you believe that the Xbox 360 was the best controller in gaming, then holding the Xbox One’s controller in your mits makes you fall in love all over again. The controller is roughly the same size as the 360’s but has more of a matte plastic finish as opposed to the glossy plastic finish, which improves grip. The battery is still 2 AAs, by default, but the casing for said battery is now flush with the back of the controller, which also improves grip. The analog sticks, while located similarly, are slightly smaller and more concave, meaning your thumb somewhat sits within the stick itself making it less likely to slip off and increases precision.  The bumpers are raised, making it less likely to accidentally throw the ball away during intense Madden sessions, and the triggers are more convex but easier to push.  Finally! The D-pad has arrived at X-BOX! No, it’s not as good as the one on the PS3, but it’s clicky and easily as good as the ones you find on the Wiimote. The Select and Start buttons are replaced by icon-based, contextual buttons meant to represent Options and Menu. The Guide button has been changed but (essentially) retains the same function as you’re accustomed.

 Service, Don’t Fail Me Now

Owning both consoles allowed me to speak authoritatively on certain subjects; one of which was that the Xbox was the hands-down winner when it came to their online service as it pertains to downloads and patching.  So, I was hopeful that my decision to go all digital on day one would only hurt a little.  After a brief initial setup, I was prompted to start the mandatory 500MB day one patch, which took less than 5 minutes. So far, so good. But now how long would it take to download all of the applications and 4 retail games I had planned on getting? Well, I can pleasantly say that I was able to download, install, and start playing all of my games within 5 hours of receiving the console. Not only had Microsoft shown me I had nothing to fear with regards to their network, they exceeded my expectations when it came to the speed with which I can use my digital content.

One Box to Rule Them All

Microsoft’s ambition is that after your television, your Xbox One will be your most ubiquitous piece of entertainment hardware. Besides the now standard online streaming video options of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, et al., using the Xbox One’s HDMI passthrough, you can connect your cable box to the Xbox and watch cable TV through there as well. Setting up the Xbox to control the volume and power on both my TV and soundbar was a breeze. Additionally, my cable box, which uses RF signals instead of IR signals, was also very easy to configure to be controlled by my new $500 black box.

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Say It, Don’t Spray It

The future is here! You want your Xbox to do something? Just tell it what to do! The Kinect 2.0 takes voice control and attempts to turn it up to 11. Anything that’s not gaming can be done using your voice. In fact, one could argue that Microsoft discourages you from using the controller by putting essential apps many layers deep within a menu structure. You can even turn the console on and off using only your voice.  Pretty next gen indeed.

A typical day begins with me saying “Xbox On.”, the Xbox powers itself on, along with my tv and soundbar within 15 seconds. Most voice commands are intuitive enough and, once you learn the vernacular of the Xbox’s command structure, very easy to execute.  I’ve found that voice commands work about 95% of the time and, if it doesn’t work the first time, voice commands work the second time. Whereas with the original Kinect I used the voice commands sparingly at best, I default to controlling my Xbox One using only the power of my voice with the met expectation that it will do what I want.


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Not all is perfect in the world of Microsoft’s everything box. Things we took for granted for the last 8 years and expected to be improved or at worst remain the same, in certain cases, have been made worse. Party chat works…most of the time. If you’re not in a specific game, *cough* Battlefield 4 *cough*, you can feel free accepting an invitation to your friend’s party. However, once a party starts you must remember to select the “Turn on party chat” option. Why isn’t turning on party chat the default? I’ve just gone through the trouble starting a party, why wouldn’t I immediately be able to speak to them?

Getting to the friends list is a bit of a chore and once you get there you realize it needs some tweaking. Available on your base level friends page is access to your profile, your number of friends (the capacity has thankfully increased to 1000), access to your twitter-like followers, as well as your messages, achievements, and your game DVR.

Members of a party chat are automatically invited to fellow members’ game instances but if you’re not in a party, inviting a friend to a game is frustratingly difficult. Achievements, settings, and just about any app is difficult to access via the controller. The Achievements interface is especially bad and much more obtrusive and obnoxious than it ever was previously. None of the issues are game stoppers but they are all head scratchers. I have no doubt that the issues of launch will have been addressed in some way within the coming months.

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 Wrap it up, B!

Three weeks with the Xbox One has really allowed me to understand what gaming will be like for the years to come. It looks pretty similar to how it did 4 weeks ago, except my Xbox IS the center of my entertainment hub. It’s the only thing I turn on when I enter my living room; it turns on all the other necessary components, and it stays on until I leave the living room for the evening. The games definitely look better, but only incrementally so when compared to last-gen’s “HD” leap. The gaming DVR and Xbox’s editing suite are currently being abused by me based on the ease with which I can create shareable gaming content, and playing the games on the system is as much fun as I thought it would be. It’s a fantastic console that is still a little rough around the edges but shows the promise of a true evolutionary step in console design and utilization.




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Without An Iota of Doubt, You Must Play Tearaway.

When Media Molecule first came on the scene with Little Big Planet in 2008, they pushed the creative boundaries of user-created content in a way that was never seen before on console (as well as introducing us to Sony’s de-facto mascot Sackboy). Fast-forward to 2013 and we are again treated to another masterful game by the Surrey, England based developers in the form of the papercraft-themed Tearaway.

Tearaway Monster

I can easily say after completing the game that it surpassed my already high expectations, provided numerous memorable moments, and absolutely should be in the running for one of the best games of 2013.

Tearaway opens a story-book world in which your character is a whimsical paper puppet envelope named Iota or Atoi.  Figuratively and literally you are a message being sent to you the player.  In a continued effort to engage the player, the world casts you as the other major character in the narrative. You play the role of the sun and are shown in the world via the Vita’s front camera.

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Small ideas like this wrap the world around you and at the same time ground you in it. Tearaway’s characters and enemies are absurdly cute. New gameplay and puzzle elements are introduced over the game’s five plus hours. Locales and environments evolve and are stunning to play in.


I really don’t know if I have enough adjectives to describe how gorgeous Media Molecule’s take on papercraft is. Colors are vibrant and pop off the OLED screen, intricate touches are all over the game. The ways paper elements bend, crumple and fold give everything in the world a faithful and tactile feel. Background and foreground elements animate with an almost stop-motion feel that gives things like the blue uncurling paper of a waterfall, or the origami shape of a squirrel, a very stylized look.

Style isn’t just about your surroundings, here. Iota/Atoi have a bundle of customizable parts that you can mix and match to make the character you’re playing entirely unique.

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At some points, you are tasked with making your own accessories for Atoi, with construction paper, pencil and scissors. Or, you can purchase from pre-configured options for facial features and accessories, using confetti, the in-game currency.

Confetti is everywhere: you can earn confetti by picking up pieces that are strewn around the world, opening up hidden gift boxes, or using your camera to bring silhouetted papercraft characters and objects back to life.  The camera also plays into the confetti system, allowing you the ability to purchase different lenses and filters.

Tearaway Camera

I found camera inclusion extremely fun and don’t think the game would have been the same without its incorporation. You can tell that in the development phases of the game the team put a real emphasis on uses of the in-game and Vita cameras, and those implementations. I found myself stopping everywhere in the game to take pictures of the world and selfies of me with grazing elk in the background. To my surprise at the end of my playthrough I’d taken almost 100 pictures.

The game’s soundtrack is another highlight. Genres run the gamut from ska to celtic with a dub step beat to straightforward orchestral score, all without skipping a beat or ever sounding out of place. And a pro-tip: play the game with headphones on, as the environmental sounds are amazing as well. Massive kudos goes out to the sound team on this one.

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Tearaway is by far the most compelling reason to buy a Vita, and the best game you could own for the system. It utilizes all the functions of the system in ways that are inventive and fun, and is ripe for replaying. Throughout the whole experience you never feel like the game asks you to do something that doesn’t make sense or asks too much of the hardware itself.  Use the front touch to draw an item on the craft table? Done. Press the rear touch pad to move a puzzle element into place? Gotcha. Take a picture of your real world environment to apply as a skin for a character? Bam! Again it seems like intense thought went into how best to mesh the user experience and hardware to make the Vita an enjoyable device to use—and it all works flawlessly.

If there was ever a love letter to a piece of hardware, Tearaway is it. It is very rare that a game pulls off all its proposed ideas with such a deft hand, and it really makes you wonder why Sony didn’t have MM working on Vita games before Little Big Planet Vita.


I know I’m gushing but I absolutely loved the time I had with this game. Everything from traversing the levels to collecting the papercraft figures (that you can print out online), to taking pictures of the world made me again appreciate the genius that runs through the Media Molecule team. Tearaway, like Game-of-The-Year Journey, was an experience for me, more than just a game, and one that I will have fond memories of for a lifetime.

tearaway friend

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Saints Row IV: The Best Game You Don’t Want People Seeing You Play.

When the Saints Row franchise came on the scene, it was apparent that the creators wanted to supplant the “Grand Theft Auto” series while sharing their take on gang culture and all the tropes within. It kind of reminded me of the “2K Sports NFL 2K5” vs “Madden” days, with the newcomer trying to take the crown from the wily vet. Gamers were given an actual choice between two very similar and well-made games and each had a very distinct style and flavor.

At the end of the day, “Saints Row” lost the battle of the gritty hood open-world games, but as history has often shown, losing the battle does not mean you’ve lost the war. In fact, I would say their loss is both their and our gain.

“Saints Row IV” provided one of the most fun experiences I’ve had playing a game in a very long time. It is sophomoric, crass, and many times—okay, most times—gleeful and slathered in immaturity. It is the ultimate in guilty pleasures and I’m so very happy that it exists.

SR IV picks up with the Saints now in control of the White House, with you playing President of the United States. You’ve got the world at your beck and call until an alien attack during your press conference kills your vibe. Zinyak, the leader of the alien race introduces himself and his plan for world domination.  He kidnaps your friends, destroys the earth and places you in this Matrix-style world called “The Simulation” both to punish you and to feed his need for entertainment.

This is the backdrop of your 20+ hour homage to everything pop culture. Everything from the Aerosmith “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” Armageddon sequence to the Robocop-skinned pistols tells you that the folks from Deep Silver understand what they’ve inherited from Volition and understood how to improve upon it.


The gameplay foundation of the Saints Row games has been about driving and shooting. In SR IV the latter of that equation will be immensely important while the former is pretty much unnecessary. Why? Because you now have SUPER POWERS! Being in the Mat— er, Simulation means you can do anything. You want the ability to glide, sure. Want to throw fire and ice from your hands? Why not? Feel like slamming your body into the ground so hard that the shockwaves rippling from your being miniaturize all those around you? Ya got it. Nothing is out bounds and it makes both locomotion around the world and combat extremely fun.

Adding to the mayhem, you can enjoy an array of weapons that only could have been conceived in the minds of people on a diet of lead paint chips. For example, the Dubstep gun fire music at enemies to make them dance themselves to death, and the ‘Merica gun comes with the Presidential Pack DLC. You have to see it to believe it but in short: if Ron Popeil and Ted Nugent ever went into weapons manufacturing, the ‘Merica gun is what you would get.

I thought the addition of super powers would hamper bits of the game, but honestly it just makes the game better. There is nothing like the first time you leap over huge swaths of the city or run at super speed down the highway. It achieves the goal of making you feel like an undeniable badass.

The only thing that might be a drawback is that you are totally overpowered by the later third of the game. You have such an arsenal of both physical weapons and powers that when you add new ones you kind of feel like they aren’t necessary to the dispatch of baddies. Weapons and powers alike end up being used more for style points than anything else, which is kind of disappointing but not worth giving demerits.


The activities are back and they are both more fun and more varied. Tank Mayhem is ramped up even more when you swap out the tank for a Mech. Using your super speed to run races around the world is actually more fun than driving. The addition of narrative driven mini-games reminiscent of Battle Tanks, Tron, and one of the best Streets of Rage clones ever to grace a console/PC add to what is already a feature-filled game.


First, I want to say that the voice acting in the game is outstanding. From SR vet Keith David to Troy Baker, they deliver their punch lines ever so deftly, while solid guest appearances from Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Dorn, Roddy Piper, and Terry Crews taking over from the late Micheal Clarke Duncan round out the cast.  Also, the performance of Zinyak by J.B. Blanc is utter genius. His snark is on a whole other level of dopeness.

Secondly…I HATE YOU NOLAN NORTH. When I made my Carl Weathers/Black Dynamite fighter for truth, justice, and the Negro way, I specifically didn’t choose the Nolan North voice option just because of the glut of games that he has voiced. I was totally fine until I downloaded a character from the Saints Row website that had an awesome crimefighter suit. I did this during the last third of the game and DAMMIT! Whoever created him gave him the North voice! The problem is that Nolan North is just too damn good. My character acquired a new level of awesome with his voice, during both the cut scenes and incidental parts. Nolan North, you’re ubiquitous, and powerfully awesome, and I just wanted to say I hate and love you.

You really don’t get to see videogames delve into slapstick humor much but the cast seemed to really get what Deep Silver was trying to do with this game. That is so evident in the voiceover work.


One of the things the Saints Row franchise has been known for is its radio stations, both for their genre and song variety. SR IV gives you numerous choices for your mayhem soundtrack, everything from Bach to Kendrick Lamar are yours for the picking. My personal favorite is the combination of a waffle-cone-skinned rocket launcher and OutKast’s B.O.B.  Beside the background radio music that you can listen to both in and out of cars, there are some great soundtrack moments, when specific songs are timed to pair up with your action. Some of these just hit the spot, showing just how nerdy the creators are.


Deep Silver had stated that this game is the end of the Saints Row franchise, as we know it. That makes me a bit sad but I understand why they are moving in a different direction. Plus it’s always better to go out on top. Saints Row IV is the culmination of a wild, wild ride. It’s been refreshing to play these games over the past couple of years. They provide a kind of a lemon sorbet from the heavy post-apocalyptic and military shooters that we are inundated with every season. For as much as I feel like the gaming medium has to grow up, I believe games like this absolutely have a place in adult spaces for us to romp and lose ourselves in as long as we don’t take the games or ourselves too seriously. SR IV made me want to dig out my old “Amazon Women On The Moon” DVD, it’s that good and you owe it to yourself to play it.

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“Chalk One Up For Pool Nation” – Review

Cherry Pop Games might have resurrected a dead genre with their release of Pool Nation on PSN last month. This vibrant and beautiful game jumps off your screen with its style and cheeky sense of humor. I would say it’s a game not to be missed for the billiards enthusiast.

What makes this game so great is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. You’ll quickly see what I’m talking about while reading bios of the other players in tournament mode. Quirky pictures that could have easily been Instagram selfies give you a glimpse of the personality that oozes out of this game. Although these characters aren’t voiced or even seen, the pictures are pretty entertaining, mixed with their backgrounds. You want a saintly bad-girl pool hustler or a pre-steroid Nelly clone to play against? This game has them all. It’s funny and lighthearted and will provide a chuckle or two. If you wind up beating one of these fine folk you obtain a decal of their profile picture that you can gleefully use to adorn your pool table. At first I thought it would be a bit distracting to have this huge graphic on the table while you try to shoot, but in actuality they are gorgeous to look at, especially at the angles represented when shooting.


During the tournament you also have the ability to win more cue sticks and ball sets by winning special side games, if you earned enough stars in the game prior. You gain those stars by meeting certain criteria in a match like “get x amount of points,” or “hit two cushions before pocketing a ball.” It’s a smart way to lengthen a game of this type that can, in many cases, not have a long tail.

With all that said, where Pool Nation really shines is on the table itself. Hustle Kings was the best billiards game on the market for a long time, due to its hyper-realistic graphics and gameplay. I can easily say that Pool Nation bests that game across the board. I’m not sure if the folks over at Cherry Pop are pool sharks but they really understand the physics of the game. For anyone that has played for a long time, getting the feeling of being able to cut a ball into a pocket or masse (curve) the cue ball to hit the object ball is no easy task but this game gives you all the visual feedback to make the shot you want, when you want.


Some really smart moves also open the game up to a wide range of players. For example, being able to lock the amount of power you put behind a shot with the press of a button allows you to focus on your stroke. The game also includes a “do-over” mechanic in which you can replay your last missed shot. Everyone from the corner bar quarter tables to the would-be Willie Mosconis of the digital world can have fun with Pool Nation. One of the most well-done tutorials I’ve even seen in a pool game, combined with a surprisingly dope soundtrack, really bring the package together.

My only gripe is that I wasn’t able to find any other people to play with online on PSN. I tried for a week straight to go on at different times of day and had no bites. Games of this genre unfortunately usually suffer from lack of online community and Pool Nation may see this happen as well. It’s a shame because the game is so much fun and is so well done and CHEAP! $8.49 ($5.09 for PS+)

If you have any questions or comments leave them below and I will respond accordingly. Thanks to the folks over at Cherry Pop Games for the review code. Billards and party fans, go pick this up now.

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What A Way To End A Generation – Our Last Of Us Review

We have a special treat for you this week: one of our readers is an aspiring games journalist and asked if he could review a game for the world to see. I started this site with the hopes of sharing my experiences with an audience bigger than my cell phone, so I had to say yes and I think he will have a promising future ahead of him. Here is Joe Sorbini‘s review of the The Last of Us:


Imagine yourself in a world that was devastated by a pandemic twenty years ago. Nature has resumed its dominance; all organized power and civilization have been wiped out. The infection that broke out on our people has not only taken them from us, but also turned them against us. Survival is the only thing that matters in this brutal world.  This is the world that was crafted by the Naughty Dog team in their latest game titled “The Last of Us”.

Naughty Dog has a long history of producing award winning titles like “Jak and Daxter”, “Crash Bandicoot”, and the “Uncharted” series. After 3 years of development, “The Last of Us” had a lot of hype coming up to its release date, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the journey that was awaiting gamers with this title.

One main feature that really makes this game special is its focus on immersion. It is the little things that may not initially stand out to someone, but when they are blended together it creates an experience that really captivates the audience. Naughty Dog has done an absolutely incredible job with this aspect, taking the time necessary to ensure that every room and street has character. Showing a world that was attacked and then left in an instant, seeing the untamed wilderness reclaim the spaces we used to inhabit. The landscapes play a major role in this game because they further drive home the fact that it is a game of survival and the environment is just another obstacle in the way.

The visuals in this game are unrivaled, like the emphasis on glare after stepping over a hill to see the sun on a horizon. Or the change in lighting after moving from an outside to inside space. It isn’t only the surrounding nature that is beautiful; this game does not have anything generic in it. One building will not look like the next; they all have been affected by nature in a different fashion. At one point in the game you will be able to enter a hotel, and once you’ve entered you will see what twenty years of being exposed to Mother Nature, the infected, and other survivors passing through can do to what was once a pristine and beautiful building. You can see that things were scavenged, eroded, and destroyed not only by time but by its inhabitants as well.


The visuals remain consistent with the cut scenes in the game. Cut scenes flows seamlessly into gameplay. The Naughty Dog staff did tremendous work with motion capture, facial expressions and body language. When you look into one of the character’s faces you can see and feel the emotion. You can tell from their eyes and how they act. These emotions even come through during gameplay. You’ll know when Ellie is upset because she won’t look at you, or she will cross her arms and pout. Also, the incredible detail on the infected makes them terrifying when they are sprinting at you. In the art book that I received with my game, it was written that each and every infected person would look different from the last, which is very impressive.

It is difficult to be immersed in a game without great sound to partner with the visuals. The sound quality of this title is on par with its graphics. Everything in this game is dynamic and has some subtle but powerful effects on the player’s experience. It makes walking through the woods feel real, and it makes being stuck in a tunnel full of the infected that much harder to bear. This amount of emphasis on sound quality really helps instill powerful, emotional gameplay. The soundtrack to this game also compliments its overall theme. It is very subtle, but when it is thrown in with emotional cut scenes, it makes the experience complete.

Another major feature that makes this game stand out amongst the rest is the voice acting done by Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie). The acting in this game is so powerful that it is difficult not to build a bond with them. As Joel, Troy displays how much depth and range he has as a voice actor. Taking on the role of a rugged, hard, and vengeful protagonist, Joel knew the world before it collapsed and now his past is being revisited with his newest journey. Ashley Johnson does a fantastic job taking on this role; Ellie, a young fourteen-year-old girl, was born into this world filled with death and despair. She doesn’t know any better and therefore is callous to the violence she sees every single day. Though she is young, she is very capable and Johnson’s portrayal of a young girl wiser than her years shines through in The Last Of Us. Another thing that captivates the player is that there are no static or dull characters that you encounter in this game. Along your journey you will meet some characters that have deep histories and through a little exploration and digging you can delve deeper into they’re pasts to see how they’ve become who there are now.

Ash and Troy

The gameplay in this title just clicks with its narrative. It flows perfectly and has realistic combat and movement. Gameplay for this title consists of two different play styles: stealthy assassin, or guns blazing. Both styles are challenging, but the former is much more forgiving than the latter.

This game is incredibly realistic which means in a post-pandemic world ammunition and materials are not entirely easy to come by. Meaning you have to treat every combat scenario based on what you have to work with. This also makes completing combat scenarios stealthily incredibly gratifying because you did not have to waste ammunition and probably not lose any health in the process. Every situation has its risks and the enemies react dynamically to what you do. Throwing bottles and bricks to distract or stun opponents is a great way to get gamers thinking tactfully throughout their entire play through. Gun play carries a lot of risk when it is not necessary in the game. Though using guns is much faster and more effective than sneaking up and choking enemies, there is the chance that you will miss and draw all the enemies towards you at once. Each style costs either ammo or materials, and since you cannot strangle some of the stronger enemies known as ‘Clickers’ (enemies which are at a further stage of the infection,) you’ll have to put together a makeshift weapon to kill them.

Crafting is another aspect in this title that helps players adjust to every situation. Players will be able to upgrade their weapons and themselves. Using materials found throughout the game, items can be crafted in your back pack to help aid you through your journey. These items include: shivs, nail bombs, upgraded melee weapons, smoke bombs, molotovs, and health kits. You will also stumble upon supplements scattered around the game which can help upgrade your character’s health, crafting and healing speed, listening distance, shiv usage, and weapon sway. You can upgrade the weapons you carry by collecting parts and tools found throughout the game as well. You will be able to upgrade the gun’s clip size, power, range, and other specifics that will make your weapons more effective against your enemies.

I believe the other core mechanic that this game was built around is the aspect of interpretation. This game is incredibly open in multiple ways. The world is vast and deep with a story to match. Though there are a very limited number of executive decisions that the player gets to decide, it does not take away from the power of this linear story. This game can be beaten fairly quickly if players do not explore and just fight their way through the main story. There is nothing wrong with that style, but I would highly recommend players take their time and appreciate all the effort that Naughty Dog has put into this title. There is so much to be found in this game including: collectables, artifacts, notes, comics, materials, etc. I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly deep this game goes. Everywhere you look there is something to be found and analyzed. The extra exploration also opens some new dialog between our two protagonists that, although incidental, really grounds them in the world. The game follows a linear story but getting there is rather difficult at times. When exploring sometimes it is easy to lose your way. This is not a fault on behalf of Naughty Dog. On the contrary, it almost motivates players to explore more deeply. It puts you in the shoes of a survivor trying to find their way. This is just another tactic to immerse players and make them think like our survivors.

The game also has a multiplayer which gives this title added replay value. The multiplayer is very fun and challenging. When beginning multiplayer you must choose a faction. Once you choose said faction, you will be the leader of a clan. This clan grows as you progress through multiplayer, but be cautious because if you do poorly or leave matches, as members of your clan will fall ill or begin to starve. Multiplayer has two modes, the first being the ‘Supply Raid’ mode. The objective of this mode is to eliminate enemy players while harvesting supplies from their bodies and toolboxes placed around the map. The supplies are then transferred into parts which help your clan grow and survive. The other mode is the ‘Survivors’ game mode. In ‘Survivors,’ players compete for multiple rounds in a sudden-death-based team death match of four-on-four. Both modes are incredibly intense and provide endless hours of entertainment.


A masterpiece would be an understatement for Naughty Dog’s newest title. This game is an experience that can’t be matched, it provides a timeless tale of the bond built in a world designed to break everything. It is a journey that hooks players from the moment the game begins and leaves them begging for more when it’s over.

This game receives a 10/10 in my books.

– Joe Sorbini –

Huge thanks to Joe for contributing. If you’d like to let him know how he did, send him some love in the comments below or send him a shout at @jsorbini on Twitter.

If you would like to contribute to the site or would like to see more guest posts like this email us at thespawnpointblog@gmail.

Thanks guys and see you next week!

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Guacamelee es magnífico!



It looks as if the Indie game movement is saving us again from what could be an anemic spring/summer release schedule. Drinkbox Studios comes to the rescue with its wonderfully done Luchador-themed brawler, Guacamelee. The game exhibits lots of flair while being extremely accessible — it provides MetroidVania veterans a challenge, while giving newbies an opportunity to embrace the genre.

The main character of the story is a lowly farmer named Juan, who finds himself confronted by a demon in skeleton form. This mysterious creature grabs your would-be love interest, kills you, then skitters away to complete his plan of world-ending domination. While in the afterlife, you are met by a female luchador who bestows upon you a magical mask that both brings you back to life and imbues you with the strength and speed of ten Koko B. Ware‘s.

You can tell by the cadence and snark-laden story that the folks at Drinkbox have really hit their stride when spinning a comedic yarn. The jokes are funny, the memes timely, and gaming callbacks just numerous enough to not be overdone. You can tell that they love games and love having a good time; that they appreciate traditions without taking themselves too seriously. This light and airy feel is evident within the art style as well. Guacamelee taps into Mexican folk art themes and Day of the Dead lore, jumping easily between the worlds of the living and the dead. A cartoonish Mexican town is your playground, laced with beautiful earthy tones with huge splashes of neon pastels around every corner. I played the game mostly on my Vita, but when I transitioned to the PS3 via my cross-save (more on this later) the colors jumped off the screen. Along with the gorgeous graphics comes a fun soundtrack that blares mariachi and electronic music that really fits the aesthetic and ties the package together nicely. The game feels like a lighthearted homage to old-school Mexico, with a layer of modern self-effacing humor on top.


Guacamelee’s combat is mostly of the combo/brawler style. Later in the game you meet a recurring character that gives you more wrestling moves to add to your arsenal. The interactions with him are some of the best in the game and provide a small shout out to Metroid along the way. The controls are easy to pick up and provide all the tools you’ll need to dispatch of the enemies once they get bigger and stronger.


The game wraps in about six hours but felt just right. It will take you longer depending on how completion-ist you are or how long it may take to get through some of the trickier platforming levels. Boss encounters are really well done and challenging. Interactions with the town’s people provide fun and silly side quests that don’t feel tedious, and if you wish you can even play with two people on the PS3

For a $15 price tag ($12 if you are a Playstation Plus member) you get a wonderful experience chock full of dopeness. I honestly think if you’ve been looking for a game that is great for pick-up-and-play purposes, you can’t really beat this one.

Kudos to Sony

Besides the awesome game and reasonable price tag, there are a couple of other things of note with this package. Some months ago Sony started rolling out some games under their “Cross-Buy” banner. So if you owned a PS3 and a Vita you could basically get the game on both systems at one price. Guacamelee is one of those games. Usually with a feature like this, the cross-save feature is implemented sloppily or in a convoluted way within the game. But Drinkbox does this simply and eloquently. Navigate through a couple of screens, upload your save, head to your home console, download and you are playing where you left off.

If this is a glimpse of what Sony was taking about with the connectivity between the PS4 and Vita, then I’m sold. It works extremely well and made me love the game as a commuter. One other added bonus is “Cross-Control”: you can also use the Vita as a second controller via Remote Play! The Vita’s screen becomes the games mini-map while you control the game you see on the television.

I love stuff like this and thought it was an awesome addition to the game. If you’d like some instructions on how to get this up and running check out the blog post on the Guacamelee site

The Champ is Here

After finishing the game I totally understand why there were long lines and lots of smiles to be seen coming from the Guacamelee station at IndieCadeEast this year. I wondered what all the commotion was about and now I get it. Beautiful games that provide nothing but fun should give people that kind of reaction. If you are tired of trudging through another shooter or sequel, you need to play and share Guacamelee with everyone you can.

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