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Endless Skater Announced For XBLA/Win8

Skateboarding fans finally have another video game to do mass combo laced grinds in a project that doesn’t star the legendary Tony Hawk.  Sadly the Skate series is still out of commission as per the ever shifting plans of EA, but now Supervillain Studios has stepped up to the plate to release Endless Skater for Xbox Live Arcade via the Windows 8 platform.

Forza Horizon [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

A brilliant blend between high-stakes, full-throttle racing and meditative country drive in your dream car, Forza Horizon takes a well-loved, established franchise and dares to do something a little different. Fans of the franchise may miss the game’s simulation edge, but for a game that offers so much variety strung together, quite nicely, with a core concept that holds throughout, it’s hard to stay angry at the decision to change for more than a couple minutes into the game.

The Pros: 

+Intelligent use of the world, environment, menus and audio to create a unified theme throughout.

+Combines the best of both worlds: full-throttle super-speed racing, and a relaxing Sunday drive through the country.

+Slightly more relaxed atmosphere/controls than the previous games, lowering the barrier of entry for new/casual players.

The Cons: 

-Some of the “challenges” push the boundaries of casual into straightforward boredom, i.e. the photo challenges (where you just need to get your car to a visually stimulating point without wrecking the car, without any form of time challenge).

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
9

Forza has spent the last seven years working its way into my heart. Originally a franchise I passed off as Microsoft’s attempt to be Gran Turismo. It’s grown over the years in leaps and bounds, the most recent iteration, Forza 4, becoming one of my favorite racing games of all time. When Horizon was announced, so shortly after the launch of four, I found myself wondering if it was a bit too soon for a sequel.

Dance Central 3 [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Dance Central, with two previous titles, is a well-established series. It’s not something that needs any further explanation at this point beyond “That Harmonix game where you dance like a lunatic in front of your TV for the bemusement of your drunken friends.” If you’ve picked up Dance Central 3, or are considering it, you likely know exactly what you’re getting into.

The Pros: 

+Far more diverse set-list then the previous games.

+Funny, if not slightly cheesy, ‘story mode’ in the vein of Elite Beat Agents.

+Gangnam Style DLC announced.

The Cons: 

-Shorter set-list than other games in the genre.

-Dance party mode only offers the set-list via SmartGlass.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

When the Kinect originally launched, two years ago now, there was only one thing that had me excited for the hardware (I mean, aside from the potential and the games we were all dreaming up; I mean real, announced titles). That game was Dance Central. “Harmonix is allowing gamers an excuse to dance like fools in the safety of their own living rooms?” I thought.

Halo 4 Hands-on [PAX Prime 2012]

Microsoft has a tendency to drop the ball when it comes to PAX. Their booth is hardly ever the largest, or most impressive at the show… Though an argument can be made in the favor due to the titles that they tend to have. This year’s showing offered up game-play time with sequels to two of their biggest franchises: Halo and Gears of War. I wound up getting play time with both, but it was Halo 4 that caught my attention…

Deadlight [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Deadlight is a unique blend of vintage side-scrolling adventure mechanics (in the vein of SNES/Genesis classic Flashback) with slick modern visual (akin to Limbo) that deals with some dark and mature themes surrounding a small group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic ‘end of the world’ zombie setting.  The game feels good, although vastly different from most modern ‘platformers’, and offers an interesting story-line focused around survival and rescue, with a nifty little twist in the third act. 

The Pros: 

+The storyline, while not completely original, is an interesting one and offers a little more weight than we generally see out of an arcade title.

+The controls are smooth and work well, even though they aren’t exactly ‘traditional’ for games of its genre.

+The length of the game is just about right, it fits snuggly in the ‘short but sweet’ category that arcade games should. 

The Cons: 

-There is no replayability for the casual gamer. Unless you’re a competitionist or an achievement whore when the game wraps up (just over 2 hours) you’re done for good.  

-Some of the artistic choices in the game mar the level design and can cause some unexpected deaths. 

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
7

In all honesty I’d nearly forgotten about the side-scrolling adventure genre. I say adventure as opposed to ‘platformer’ because what Deadlight, and its predecessors, provided is something much grander than what most people would associate with the term ‘platformer’ (namely titles like Mario, or Sonic). While it’s true the gameplay focuses around the same core mechanics: running, jumping, navigating through a labyrinth of 2D obstacles; the game styling is completely different.

Fresh Gears of War: Judgement Multiplayer Footage

The fact that the Gears of War franchise is continuing past Gears 3 is indeed odd since it seemed like the series had some much desired closure. With a bunch of characters dead, the Locust seemingly a thing of the past, and Marcus finally able to shack up with Anya and have blonde haired kids with burly muscles, it was believed that gamers had seen the last of Gears. Jump to E3 last month and Microsoft pulled a fast one on us with the reveal of Gears of War: Judgment, a new prequel revolving around Cole, Baird, and a new motley crew of COG soldiers.

Fable Heroes [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Lionhead Studios put in a valiant effort towards breathing new life into their RPG series Fable. While its charm shines through in character design, it’s overshadowed by repetitive and simple minded gameplay.  This is defiantly made for the gaming impaired... namely kids. Hardcore Fable fans tread lightly.

The Pros: 

+Lionhead succefully crafted both charming characters and a vibrant world

The Cons: 

-Repetitive gameplay leaves this title dead in the water

-Difficulty progression is none existent 

-Player customization is long and exhausting

-Good and evil decision should have been left on the sidelines

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
4

 

Fable Heroes is a step back from the RPG roots it’s garnered its fame from. Now a 4-player beat ‘em up, players cross the universe of Fable hacking and slashing through familiar enemies and new ones.  You take the role of a puppet hero from a library of 12 characters. As you finish each world, you’re able to customize your stats, and character appearance. 

Fez [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Fez bends the platforming genre to its will by allowing players to rotate a 3D world and traverse across it as if it were a 2D structure. Along with some relaxing, low-stakes platforming and a focus on collection, Fez features some incredibly complex and demanding puzzles that require some serious attention to detail to solve. This is a game that rewards players according to how deep they want to go, and stands as an example of the level of quality indie games should aspire to.

The Pros: 

+ Perspective-shifting gimmick never gets old

+ Hidden puzzles are challenging and intelligently designed

+ Atmospheric, calm environments are accompanied by a wonderful 8-bit soundtrack

The Cons: 

- Platforming isn’t overly challenging

- Puzzle clues can be impossibly subtle at times

- Occasional slowdown can be a bit disruptive

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
9

Fez, from indie developer Polytron, isn’t an easy game to review. That’s not because it’s bad, disappointing, or polarizing. Fez is a remarkable achievement, and a new touchstone for what indie games can aspire to. It’s difficult to talk about Fez because the less said about the game and its mysteries, the better.

Obsidian Entertainment's Fate May Have Been Sealed By Microsoft

The first major casualty of the next-gen wave of consoles may have just fallen on the battlefield but surprisingly its identity may forever be unknown.  Right now there are likely a dozen or so studios working on next-gen games for both Sony and Microsoft which will remain nameless until it’s time to start the hype machines and get people excited about spending $400 on a gaming console again.

Alan Wake: American Nightmare [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Using the tools established in Alan Wake, specifically the ability to re-write reality, Remedy has taken Alan Wake in a whole new direction. The game is now themed more like pulp '80s action films, moving away from its Stephen King/Twin Peaks roots, and offers a whole new (unique) story with the flavor of the mini-series Night Springs that ran within the original game.

The Pros: 

+Well written story-line that manages to feel fan-fiction and cannon at the same time.

+Improved gameplay mechanics that make the core even more fun to play.

+Remedy's love for genre films really shows through.

+Small touches like the constant narration (via a Twilight Zone knock-off host) provide that same strong feeling of the original, with a whole new tone.

The Cons: 

-The game does only use three locales, which loop three times.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
9

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Remedy’s 2010 thriller title Alan Wake. I went on record saying that it was the best game of the year, and was passionate enough in my appeal of the other writers of the site that eventually we pushed it through to win. The reason was that the game brought something new to the table, it was atmospheric, creepy, smart, and offered just a touch of humor (via the TV series Night Springs, which could be watched through monitors placed through-out the world).

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