Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Preorder Paper Mario: The Origami King[poilib element="commerceCta" json="%7B%22image%22%3A%7B%22url%22%3A%22https%3A%2F%2Fassets1.ignimgs.com%2F2020%2F05%2F14%2Fpaper-mario1589465875110.png%22%2C%22styleUrl%22%3A%22https%3A%2F%2Fassets1.ignimgs.com%2F2020%2F05%2F14%2Fpaper-mario1589465875110_%7Bsize%7D.png%22%2C%22id%22%3A%225ebd5319e4b0113dce779239%22%7D%2C%22url%22%3A%22http%3A%2F%2Fr.zdbb.net%2Fu%2Fbv0b%22%2C%22title%22%3A%22Paper%20Mario%3A%20The%20Origami%20King%22%2C%22store%22%3A%22Amazon%22%2C%22additionalInfo%22%3A%22%22%2C%22ourPick%22%3Afalse%7D"]
- Get it at Amazon - $59.99
- Get it at Best Buy - $59.99
- Get it at GameStop - $59.99
- Get it at Nintendo eShop (digital) - $59.99
Other Preorder Guides[poilib element="commerceDeal" parameters="slug=other-preorder-guides&type=list"] [poilib element="accentDivider"] Chris Reed is IGN's shopping and commerce editor. You can follow him on Twitter @_chrislreed. [widget path="ign/modules/recirc" parameters="title=&type=articles%2Cvideos&tags=us-shopping&count=3&columnCount=3&theme=article"]
"We're seeing confusion about #MTX in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time and want to be [gem emoji] clear. There are NO MICROTRANSACTIONS in the game. As a bonus, the Totally Tubular skins are included in all digital versions of the game."[ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/06/29/crash-bandicoot-4-new-gameplay-shows-new-tricks-returning-moves"] The "in-app purchases" moniker led many to assume there would be DLC, either cosmetic or gameplay-wise, that Activision could charge players for from day 1. According to the developers, however, there are no microtransactions at this time. While, of course, DLC could be added down the line or more cosmetics made available via in-game purchases — Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled did add microtransactions with the ability to buy Wumpa Coins with real-world money after its launch — the developers appear to want to assuage fans' concerns that Crash 4's launch will be held back by additional content that has to be purchased on top of the base game. For more on Crash Bandicoot 4, check out our latest deep dive on exclusive Crash 4 gameplay, all of the first Crash 4 gameplay and story details, and a look at every Crash Bandicoot IGN review below. [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=every-ign-crash-bandicoot-game-review&captions=true"] Crash Bandicoot 4 hits PS4 and Xbox One on October 2.
Sea of Thieves' pirate life wasn't for me. I drank my weight in grog, dug up a few treasure chests, and screamed "fire the cannons!" way too much. I got into character and had some fun, yet retired my pegleg just a few days after the game launched in March 2018. I never envisioned going back to it.
I also didn't foresee the pandemic of 2020, which has pushed many of us to search for new ways to entertain ourselves from the safety of our own homes. Within the Reiner residence, my daughter and I are finding video games are a great way to pass the time. We sometimes play couch co-op on the same screen, but our favorite way to game is on two TVs in the same room that are connected to Xbox Live. Having two Xbox subscriptions is a bit spendy and makes me question why Microsoft doesn't take better care of families, but being able to move about a full screen independently is the way to go. You can't beat it.
In recent months, our gaming family has grown to include my girlfriend and her children. Between our two households, we can have four people online at once – it's amazing when we are all together laughing and enjoying each other's company. Depending on which children are playing, we are fed a steady diet of Minecraft, Roblox, and Farm Together (a wildly underappreciated co-op experience). Keeping everyone engaged and excited has been tough, as the kids' interests and attention spans are changing.
Expanding the number of games we can play on any given night makes sense, but there sadly aren't many family-friendly co-op options out there. To this day I will never understand why the Lego games don't have online play.
In my search to uncover the next great game for us to play, the name Sea of Thieves surfaced again. Given my unsatisfactory history with it, I decided to ignore it, and instead tried to track something else down. Sadly, no other game jumped out as an option that would check the kids' numerous interest boxes. With nothing else to try, I thought they may get a kick out of sailing together in Sea of Thieves. My thinking: We could ignore the rest of the game's activities and enjoy a relaxing evening on the high seas. It was worth a shot.
The game journalist in me also wanted to see how much Sea of Thieves' experience had evolved since launch, but dissecting content while paying attention to children who just want to play their way can be challenging. That night, I told my girlfriend about Sea of Thieves, walked her through the concerns of pirate violence (and grog), and we decided to give the game a shot.
When my daughter saw the pirate theme on the title screen, she didn't want to have anything to do with it. She thought it looked scary and "dumb." After telling her about the boat we would get, she agreed to try it, but just for a few minutes.
When my pirate character spawned into the world, a flood of memories came back to me. I cringed, and thought, "this was a mistake." My pirate was standing in the same pub I was in years ago, and my mind was suddenly filled with memories of mundane questing and loot. I remembered why I left the game behind.
On our own systems, my daughter and I went through the tutorials and then joined together for co-op play. She ran up to me, waved, and tried to hand me a few grubs that were wriggling around in her hand. She accidentally hit the wrong button and ended up eating them. She giggled and said, "oops!" I told her that her character's face was turning green and she ran over to my screen to see it for herself. She laughed out loud and then her character barfed all over me. My screen was filled with vomit, and my daughter was on the ground in a full-body laugh.
That's all it took to hook her. From that accidental snack, she was sold on Sea of Thieves' player interaction. We moved on to dancing, playing music together, fishing, swimming, and didn't once think about going on a mission. We were just having fun doing random things on shore. When we did finally board our ship, we didn't have a destination in mind. We just set sail onto the wild blue yonder, and my daughter used her eyes (and telescope) to tell me where I needed to go next. We didn't make any progress toward any objectives during our first night of playing. We instead enjoyed each other's company, as well as Rare's sense of humor for all things pirates.
When we woke up the next morning, Sea of Thieves was all my daughter could talk about. She wanted my girlfriend and her children to join us on the second day (since they couldn't on the first). They did that night, and again, we didn't complete any missions. We just had fun exploring the world together. My daughter got a little scared when ghost ships showed up, and didn't like seeing me get eaten by sharks, but our second session with this game was even more enjoyable than the first. Having more people playing with us was a blast.
I realized I was liking Sea of Thieves, and it wasn't because Rare made the game better. I, in fact, don't know if it is better or not. In the span of a week, we've only completed a few missions. Most of our time is spent messing around. I'm enjoying the game more now because I'm seeing it through a different lens. The lens is my daughter and extended family.
Sea of Thieves may not be a game I play with people from my Overwatch and Rocket League clan, but it's hitting all of the right notes for my family. Games can be experienced in so many different ways, and you sometimes just need to find the right group of people to figure out exactly what that fit is. For Sea of Thieves, the fit for me is family time.
Digital subscribers of Game Informer can now read our enormous cover story on one of the most anticipated games of the year: Cyberpunk 2077. Following today's cover reveal, our digital issue is now live to subscribers on web browsers, iPad/iPhone, and Android devices. Individual issues will be available for purchase later today. You can download the apps to view the issue by following this link. All of these digital options are included in a standard subscription.
In case you missed it yesterday, part of the Call of Duty: Warzone Season 4 package is 200-person quads (That's 50 teams!).
Activision and Call of Duty have pushed out a new trailer to highlight all the action. You can try the new Warzone experience... well, right now! It's live! Or you can just war vicariously through the trailer below.Click here to watch embedded media
It all starts in a familiar way, with an invitation from Princess Peach. Toad Town is hosting a special origami festival, and Mario and Luigi are among the requested guests. Say no more! The brothers head out to the event, only to find that the ordinarily thriving town is virtually abandoned. Worse, Peach has been transformed: Her body has been reconfigured into an origami form, and her normally friendly personality replaced with a detached automaton.
Peach is among the latest victims of King Olly, the diabolical ruler of the Origami Kingdom. After she drops Mario into a dungeon, Olly wraps Peach’s castle in five massive streamers and places it atop a far-away mountain. Fortunately, all is not lost. Mario meets Olivia, one of the few origami creations who isn’t his enemy. Together, Mario and Olivia need to figure out how to unravel this plot and restore Toad Town and the rest of the land to its normal, flattened format – even helping a partially origami’d Bowser along the way.Click here to watch embedded media
That’s the elevator pitch for Paper Mario: The Origami King, the latest entry in Nintendo’s RPG series. It may be hard to believe, but Paper Mario is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. Over the course of that journey, players have become comfortable with a “Mario, but flat” conceit that, if you step back, is about as weird as it gets. The tone is often as strange as the paper-thin setup, too, with plenty of humor and silliness scattered throughout. The Origami King is building on the past, but is also taking the series in some new directions, including an interesting ring-battle system and the introduction of open-world levels you can traverse seamlessly.
Ring Fight Adventure
“When continuing a game series, it’s much easier to carry over the basics from an existing game system rather than building new systems for each new installment,” says Kensuke Tanabe, producer at Nintendo. “But that’s not how you create new experiences or unexpected surprises. As a game designer, I want to deliver new experiences and surprises to our fans, so I always challenge myself to create something new. To be sure, I will sometimes use the same system in a subsequent game to further develop that system until I feel it has reached its full potential. But my goal is to continue to tackle new challenges as much as possible.”
This is a subject Tanabe knows a thing or two about. He worked on Super Mario RPG back in the Super Nintendo days, and has been involved with every game in the Paper Mario series since Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door released on GameCube in 2004. For the most part, combat has been consistent over the years, with turn-based battles that incorporate a little bit of timing. If you manage to hit your attack at the right moment, your attack will squeeze out some extra damage. It’s fun, but Tanabe and the developers at Intelligent Systems wanted to push themselves further with this entry.
“Mr. Naohiko Aoyama, who is a member of the staff at Intelligent Systems and the director of the previous entry in the series, Paper Mario: Color Splash, asked for a battle system in which the enemies surround Mario to attack from all sides,” Tanabe says. “That became our starting point when thinking about how the battles would work.”
The designers thought about how best to reflect this feeling of being surrounded, and came up with an unusual take on a battle grid. Rather than setting the action on a traditional checkerboard, they arrived at something similar to the concentric rings and segments of a dartboard. Then players could rotate each of the concentric circles to line up attacks. But something was missing.
“We kept thinking about what to do, until one day an idea suddenly popped into my head while I was in the shower,” Tanabe says. “The idea was based on a Rubik’s Cube. It inspired me to add vertical rotations to the horizontal rotations, so we got the slide mechanic added to the program, and it worked well. That is the moment I was convinced we’d be able to build our battle system.”
When combat begins, players have a set number of turns in the planning phase to optimize their positioning. The goal is to line enemies up in groups so that Mario can take them out efficiently. His stomp attack hits enemies lined up in a row, and his hammer deals more concentrated damage to groups of enemies that are standing side-by-side and one row deep. It’s almost like a puzzle, with each combat scenario having an optimal solution. You can spend coins to purchase more time to think if you’re running low on time, or your Toad friends can give you hints – provided you pay them. Even if you blow it on your first attempt, you can still rearrange the stragglers once both you and the enemies have taken turns.
Each of the five streamers encasing Peach’s castle is guarded by a member of the Legion of Stationary, which are realistic depictions of familiar art supplies such as colored pencils, rubber bands, and tape. Tanabe says the team initially wanted to use the same basic battle system in these boss encounters, but they ran into a problem: Since you fight these bosses one at a time, you didn’t have anything to line up.
“It occurred to us that one way to avoid introducing a different system would be for the boss battles to be the opposite of regular battles, with the boss in the center and Mario creating a route to the boss from the outside,” Tanabe says. “I drew concentric circles on a whiteboard, put mock-ups of some panels using magnets with arrows and other things drawn on them so Ms. Risa Tabata [the assistant producer] and I could simulate how a battle would play out multiple times. We felt that we had gotten something pretty good out of that process, so I proposed it to Intelligent Systems.”
A New Crease On Life
These bosses aren’t just waiting in one location for Mario to find them. Instead, they’re scattered around the world. That creates a striking visual, as players can see the streamers far in the distance, while also giving them a hint as to where their next challenge lies. One of the biggest departures with The Origami King is that the story isn’t chapter-focused as past games have been. Instead, players can travel from region to region seamlessly in an open-world setup.
“One major feature that makes the world where this adventure takes place special is that there are huge maps to explore at every turn,” says Masahiko Magaya, director at Intelligent Systems. “Because the game is laid out this way, we were careful during the design phase to make sure there is always something in the player’s field of vision to catch their attention.”
Players can watch the scenery unfold through several modes of traversal. Mario can run around, but crossing major distances might get tiring. Fortunately for his feet, he can drive a boot-shaped car around (a nod to Super Mario Bros. 3’s shoe power-up?) and pilot a boat. I also saw him aboard an airship, where he takes command of the ship’s defenses to fire rockets at incoming paper planes.
That variety extends throughout the game. Players can expect to encounter lots of one-off activities and miscellaneous diversions. During his travels, Mario encounters a host of Toads who have been folded into different origami forms. Hitting them with his hammer reverts them back to their normal form, then several things can happen. They might return to Toad Town, restoring valuable services to the location, like selling items or opening the dock. The Toads may also join Mario in battle, watching from the sidelines and helping when asked (and paid). You can also go fishing, if you’re looking for some downtime.
Mario doesn’t do any of this alone. Olivia is a constant companion throughout the adventure, and other characters join and leave along the way. The shuffling cast is a function of the story, so players aren’t deciding which allies to bring along.
“We never considered whether or not we should implement a party-based system like some other games,” Tanabe says. “As we worked on Paper Mario: The Origami King, we decided we could create more memorable moments if Olivia and the other characters team up with Mario along the way. In other words, we first determine what elements are needed in a game and then figure out how to implement and program them. Bobby, the Bob-omb, was the first character we decided to include, and from there we chose the characters that would be the best fit for the events in each stage of the game. Bowser Jr. was an exception. The director, Mr. Masahiko Nagaya, personally had strong feelings about including a storyline where a son sets out to save his father, so in this case, we decided to include the character before deciding exactly what we would have him do.”
With an interesting combat system and a larger world to explore, Paper Mario: The Origami King looks like a nice evolution for the series. There are certainly some elements that are foundational to Paper Mario, but it’s great to see that Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are willing and able to color outside of the lines.
Paper Mario: The Origami King comes to the Nintendo Switch on July 17.
Black WidowNapoli explained that Natasha Romanoff actually was the team’s starting hero because of her unique difficulties. “We actually started with Black Widow. She made the most sense [to start with] because she provides so many challenges, especially going up against some of the crazier, god-powered, god-tier heroes,” Napoli said. And so the team honed in on a few aspects of Black Widow to make her feel truly unique and fun to play — namely, making her more agile in combat than any of the other heroes. “She's incredibly fast. She's incredibly agile. She has the fastest melee attacks and melee combos in the game. She is also able to alternate between her electric batons as her heavy attacks, and you use those differently than her melee attacks on the light button [and] switch between multiple ranged weapons as well,” Napoli said, noting she can choose from automatic pistols, dual-wielding rapid pistols, and a heavy-caliber Magnum pistol. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/marvels-avengers-war-zone-co-op-explained"] But a defining aspect of this version of Black Widow is her stealth, and the ability to enter and exit an invisibility mode while in the midst of combat. Napoli explained how playing as Nat well, and really making use of her intrinsic stealth ability, is the key to success in battle with her. “Some of the most interesting and fun play we see with her is the ability to enter stealth. You stealth very quickly, get out of it and then enter it again,” Napoli said. “If you're playing her well, you do feel like you're constantly escaping the battlefield, entering the battlefield, tricking the enemies constantly.” The focus on stealth allowed the team to crack the code of Black Widow’s arsenal and the many abilities that could be layered onto her customization options. From her weapon arsenal to abilities to do multi-takedowns, instakills, affect teammates from stealth, and even possibly have them enter stealth mode — Black Widow became this unseen force among the Avengers roster. “Then you add in her grapple ability to quickly move between targets, and you combine stealth, you make her this ninja on the battlefield where she's rapidly moving between enemies. You can't see here, she's disappearing, she's reappearing. Once we had all of those elements in place, she definitely started to play as something really, really special,” Napoli said.
Captain AmericaSteve Rogers is the elephant in the room, the team member whose presence we don’t quite know in the scope of the full game because, well, as the A-Day demo shows...Captain America seemingly dies at the onset of Marvel’s Avengers. Still, Crystal Dynamics created what is clearly a deep combat system that, presumably, we’ll eventually get to play in full. And while however Steve may re-enter the picture is being kept under wraps, Napoli did offer some details on how he plays, and how the team is making good use of Cap’s iconic shield. “Throwing the shield is obviously so iconic and needed to feel so special,” Napoli said. “His shield throw actually has its own built-in ranged combo. It's a unique characteristic the other characters don't have, which is that his ranged attack actually works like a combo. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/08/20/marvels-avengers-prologue-ps4-gameplay-trailer-in-4k"] “So perfect timing as you catch it and throw it will increment his throws and create different throws and reactions on the enemies. He also has a special counter kickback, which is when you use his charge throw, after it hits the last enemy, if you can time the kickback ahead of time, he'll jump up and kick the shield back and meet it as it's returning and he'll kick it back out and hit once again all the targets that you were able to target with his charge throw.” That depth and nuance came from, according to Napoli, a desire by the team to add skill and a sense of mastery to Cap’s abilities for players. “How can you really feel like you've mastered the shield throw, what layers can we do where there is some amount of practiced and learned ability to the point where you actually do feel like an expert Captain America player?” Napoli said the team asked one another.
HulkWhen I began speaking to Napoli about Hulk, I mentioned how perhaps the strongest and best gaming memory for myself and many others of Bruce Banner is the PS2-era Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. And Napoli noted that he has fond memories of that superhero outing and even went back to get a feel for what that game did for the character. But in devising their own Hulk, the team at Crystal Dynamics wanted to think about a larger question — how could they imbue this force of strength with strategy? “Other than being able to utilize his rage and smash through stuff and feel that overwhelming sense of power, what would my gameplay strategy be as Hulk, what would a realistic gameplay strategy be as him if you were a Hulk player?” Napoli said he and the team considered. [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=marvels-avengers-game-overview-screenshots-hero-customization-outfits-and-more&captions=true"] “What if we took the idea of weaponization. Hulk is basically all about weaponizing the environment and weaponizing the enemies, or weaponizing the combat scenario around him. And what I mean by that is that that's actually why he's able to pick up and wield enemies as weapons,” he continued. Napoli pointed to a specific example of using the environment as a giant boulder before going into a fight. “I'm going to prepare at the beginning of this fight because I'm going to rip up part of the ground and turn it into a giant boulder,” he said. “And then I'm going to start the fight by leaping off the highest thing I can and dive bomb into the fight with my giant boulder. And for example, using the status effects, you can make that a cosmic-infused boulder. You can radiate the boulder with gamma,” he continued. “[Playing as Hulk] rewards a little bit of preparation work there, which is a little bit of an antithesis to Hulk, but it does reward a little bit of slight preparation with even more over-the-top destruction. Hulk can of course also grab enemies, and Napoli explained that picking different enemies will change Hulk’s swing with them, allowing players to further plan their combat by choosing which enemies to go after first.
Iron ManA lot rests on Iron Man’s shoulders. After kickstarting the MCU into one of the biggest movie franchises of all time, the character and his moves have become a lot more iconic to a lot more people. Napoli said that leaning into that iconography, rather than limiting the scope of his moveset, allowed the team to figure out their take on Tony Stark. “What if he could use his weapon selection, not just in his range attacks, but integrate that into his melee combat, really make that a part of who he is?” Napoli said. He explained how they took Iron Man’s repulsor gloves and, instead of limiting them to a couple of moves, integrated his iconic weapons into his entire combo system. “That way you can actually see him do a lot more of the iconic posing that you see in the movies and the comic panels,” Napoli said. “And once we had that down, I was like, ‘Well, let's do the same thing with lasers. Let's give him two dozen laser attacks that he could use in melee combat.’ [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/marvels-avengers-combat-explainer"] “So for example, his heavy combo finisher you can unlock is a pinning missile, which pins the enemy and takes them off and propels them into the air and then does different like loops into the air and runs different patterns and sends them flying,” he continued. Napoli estimates that there are about 36 different attacks incorporating his ranged moves, which can be brought into combos that focus on his standard hand-to-hand combat abilities.
Ms. MarvelKamala Khan, who serves as a major entry point for the story, offered a unique challenge for Crystal Dynamics. “Her abilities for a melee game are a dream and a curse at the same time, because you can do anything with them. You can make any weapon attacks and motions with them, but at the same time... you can do anything with them,” Napoli said, noting how that freedom offered a unique set of challenges. But in aiming to stay true to the characters within combat, Napoli and the team found that honing in on Kamala’s fandom for the other Avengers offered a special opportunity for her moveset. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/marvels-avengers-preview-playing-as-thor-and-ms-marvel"] “One of the approaches we took was to look for any influences we could from the rest of the Avengers with her actual moves. Almost all of her moves are based off of attacks that the other Avengers can do,” he said. “So you'll notice, she's got a version of Black Widow's light trip kick, where she sweeps the enemies. She's got a version of Hulk's shoulder ram attack. She's got a version of almost every character's attack [with] the Kamala spin on it; just to give it that feel of, ‘She is learning, and where would she be learning from? Where would she actually draw inspiration from? Of course, it'd be from the other Avengers.’”
ThorHaving gotten to go hands-on with him a couple of times, Thor undoubtedly shares some DNA with Kratos in the recent God of War, with his Mjlonir hammer standing in for the Leviathan Axe. That’s assumedly no mistake, given Napoli previously worked on that PS4 exclusive, and it’s a great lineage to see continue in the god of thunder. But, of course, in playing within the Marvel sandbox, there is plenty of comics and film inspiration to pull from. (I noted in my preview how Thor’s Odinforce powers wonderfully channel the Thor: Ragnarok action scene set to Led Zeppelin's “Immigrant Song.”) And in designing Thor, Napoli noted that Ragnarok played a large influence not just in his playstyle but in the studio’s pitch to Marvel for the character. “There's a scene in Thor: Ragnarok where Odin tells Thor that he's not the god of hammers,” Napoli said, explaining that the team pitched, for Marvel’s Avengers, that he would be both the god of hammers and the god of thunder and lightning. “The coolest thing about his combat is that you can trigger his Odinforce and [Thor can] electrify himself, protect himself, counter enemies,” Napoli said. “But it also has a unique property that it adds to every single one of his attacks. And it isn't just as simple as, ‘Oh, it just adds lightning damage.’ It completely changes the impact or the effect that it will have on the enemy. So you can see what it does and modify each of his attacks.” [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=marvels-avengers-playstation-5&captions=true"] Napoli explained that the Odinforce “starts to create a storm of lightning everywhere,” that offered both defensive and offensive opportunities for Crystal Dynamics to build into Thor. And as for his hammer attacks, Napoli said they took a similar approach when it came to creating various uses for Mjlonir, rather than just hueing to one possible mode of combat for it. “You can change [Mjlonir] into this lobbed grenade-style toss, where it creates a lightning explosion and creates cluster bombs. Or you can change it into the ability to seek out targets in the battlefield, which is not the way its base throw works,” he said. [poilib element="accentDivider"] Marvel’s Avengers is set to hit PS4, Xbox One, and PC on September 4, and all throughout July IGN will have an in-depth look at what Crystal Dynamics’ Marvel adventure will deliver. In the meantime, be sure to check out the full Avengers War Table presentation for more details, and stay tuned to IGN for more.
And while that’s certainly true in some respects, after spending more than a few hours with the 2020 version, it’s clear that the updates to its visuals and gameplay are trying hard to modernize the end of the world as we (used to) know it in some fun and intuitive ways.[ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/06/30/destroy-all-humans-remake-the-final-preview"]
If you never played the original, here’s the short version: you’re Crypto 137, a clone of Crypto 136 who crash-landed on earth in the 1950s - where you now need to wreak havoc to help secure the future of the Furon empire. You do so with a host of classic sci-fi weaponry, ranging from disintegrator rays to anal probes (we never said this was Shakespeare) and flying sauces with death rays, plus some more unique abilities like mind control and telekinesis.
All of those elements are back, and have all been tweaked and updated to feel and function like a game that didn’t launch alongside the first Guitar Hero. The development team’s go-to line since they revealed the game last year is that they’re "not making a remake of the original game, we're making remake of the memories players have of that game." And that targeted nostalgia works – for the most part.
As I said, the “of a different time” disclaimer definitely rings true, and while that mostly comes through in the form of jokes that were clearly targeted at players a generation above my own (I’d be surprised if most modern gamers knew who Milton Berle was, let alone why he’s famous), it’s a bit surprising to see some of the jokes that were questionable – even for 2005 – have still made the cut. There’s nothing as overtly offensive as the notes about “outdated cultural depictions” on Disney+ cover, but it was still jarring to hear so many “don’t ask, don’t tell” jokes whenever I was around the military.
That said, most of this send-up of the ‘50s Cold War craze remains accessible, in part thanks to the more cartoonish designs of the updated art style, but also because of the enduring talent of the original voice cast. J. Grant Albrecht’s Crypto sports an off-brand Nicholson impression that helps reinforce the satiric undertones with every line, and while I’ll never not think of the Angry Beavers or Invader Zim when I hear Richard Horvitz, his bombastic delivery as Orthopox makes even the most exposition-ey exposition enjoyable.[ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/06/30/destroy-all-humans-remake-foreign-correspondent-mission-gameplay"]
The biggest features the remake focuses on are modernization and replayability. Most notable in terms of the overall structure is that now, after completing each area’s story missions, you can revisit each sandbox to zap, probe and disintegrate earthlings to your heart's content - or tackle a series of challenges, most of which revolve around some form of zapping, disintegrating, and probing. Causing chaos in each area was fun (though not endlessly so), and while the challenges seemed like a good way to earn some much-needed upgrade points, some of the later ones in my demo felt a little unbalanced against my modestly-upgraded arsenal… though I suppose that’s why they call them “challenges.”In terms of the moment-to-moment gameplay, all of the mechanical updates I saw appear to serve that purpose of “remaking the memories” well - though I'd forgotten just how much one could choose to focus on stealth through a lot of the missions. Being able to use multiple abilities simultaneously – not having to swap between weapons and telekinesis, for instance – is a welcome addition, and I honestly can’t imagine not being able to control the height on my spacecraft during the flying sections, even if they did still feel a little stilted. It’s also worth noting that a lot of the original gameplay ideas - like being able to assume the form of humans and read their minds or hypnotize them - all hold up, and even seem to benefit from the more intricate environmental redesigns. [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="legacyId=20100393&captions=true"]
I’m mostly curious to know whether or not these modernizations will hold up throughout the entirety of the new Destroy All Humans. I played through roughly half of the main story, if memory serves, and despite some occasionally repetitive mission structure - it was 2005, after all - for the most part, it had yet to wear out its welcome. Whether or not this remake will serve as just a one-time novelty or a reboot for the entire series remains to be seen, but at the very least it’s been fun to jump back into the little
green gray boots of Crypto 137 again.
JR is a Senior Editor at IGN who still can't believe that the Pentagon basically said "yeah, aliens are real" and we all let that slide in less than a day. 2020 is crazy; to that end, please consider donating o the ACLU or NAACPLDF if you're able.
After years of waiting, CD Projekt is finally offering more details on the long-awaited Cyberpunk 2077. We shared our impressions from playing the game last week, and you can explore written accounts of our full playthrough, as well as our biggest takeways. But there’s much more to discover about this massive new RPG, and we’ve pulled together everything we could learn in this month’s blowout cover story.
We spoke with the developers about the game-creation process, and uncovered the motivations for why the game is built the way it is. We also interviewed franchise creator Mike Pondsmith about the origins of the Cyberpunk tabletop game and what sets this science-fiction world apart from others. Cyberpunk 2077 is such a big game with such a lengthy series history that two of our writers – Kimberley Wallace and Matt Miller – worked together to co-write the article, bringing their distinct perspectives from multiple separate playthroughs of the early hours of the game.
On top of all the information we gathered, our cover story includes new exclusive screenshots and art spread across 14 pages of the issue, as well as a special surprise for print magazine readers when they receive their copies in the coming days. It’s one of our biggest stories this year on one of the games we’re most excited about, so don’t miss it.
This issue also includes a rundown of other cyberpunk-themed games you can play right now as you wait for Cyberpunk 2077, along with deep looks at Paper Mario: The Origami King, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 & 2 (complete with an interview of Tony Hawk himself).
Now that PlayStation 5 has been revealed, we dedicate 10 pages to the upcoming console, and give you a look at all of the games that have been announced for it thus far. We round out this issue with a fun interview with Yoko Taro, the Nier creator who isn't afraid to say what he thinks.
Print subscribers can expect their issues to begin arriving in the coming weeks. The digital edition of this issue launches later today for PC/Mac, iOS, and Google Play. You can also get the latest issue through third-party apps on Nook and Kindle later this week. To switch your print subscription to digital, click here, or to create a new subscription, click here.
I was 19 when the first issue of Game Informer released back in 1991. For me, it was a dream come true. There I was. In print. Official. I had done something I (and my parents) thought was impossible: I turned my love of video games into a job.
By some miracle, I’ve had that job my whole adult life. I worked hard, moved up, and had the pleasure of being part of Game Informer every step of the way. However, this is where that journey ends; after 327 issues, this will be my last one. I’m stepping away from games journalism.
I’ve had the time of my life here. I owe some of my best friends and most memorable experiences to this place. Countless people throughout this industry have inspired me, believed in me, trusted me, and ultimately fought with me to make Game Informer the best we could make it. Things were not always easy; we had a long road to success with plenty of challenges, but I was always proud of the Game Informer team spirit that could fight through anything.
Over the last 29 years, I have had the privilege to work with so many talented and amazing people. Andy Reiner (your new editor-in-chief) and I have worked side by side for 26 years – month after month, issue after issue. I don’t have the space here to individually thank everyone who is woven into Game Informer’s history, but you can find their names in every issue over the decades, and I am always happy to tell stories about our adventures together.
I am not leaving the game industry, so my time with these lovely people (or you) is not done. It will just no longer take place under the Game Informer banner – unless they invite me to be a guest on one of their shows! Please?
To the fans of Game Informer, there is no way for me to convey the depth of my gratitude for your support. From print and online to our shows and podcasts, you have always been the reason we do what we do. You are all part of the Game Informer family. The team here is so talented, you will barely notice my absence. Please support them in all they do. It is just time for me to try something new.
I love you, Game Informer fam, and I always will.
P.S. I’m not dead! Follow me on Twitter @therealandymc. Let’s talk games! Special shout-out to my Funcoland peeps! *Drops mic*
Some games not only stand the test of time, they actively defy it. That’s undoubtedly the case for Trackmania’s over-the-top time trials and deep track editor – a simple but addictive combination that’s earned the series a dedicated community for nearly two decades. The latest entry, a remake of 2006’s TrackMania Nations simply called Trackmania, feels like a return to form in many ways. But an off-putting subscription system and poor tools to actually teach you its intricacies make it a bittersweet reunion.
While there’s plenty of racing in Trackmania, the main event has always been variations on time trials. Whether you’re playing alone or against others online, you’re always really competing against your own skills. This can make a lot of Trackmania’s modes feel repetitive, whether its Time Attack, the team multiplayer of Chase or the traditional circuit-based Lap. But that drive to master a track is more than enough reason to keep coming back.
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Unfortunately, Trackmania has never explained itself particularly well, and 2020’s rendition is no different. An all too brief tutorial covers the basics, but you’re on your own when it comes to learning the mechanical subtlety behind getting truly fast times – tricks like nudging the jetpack-like reactor boost in midair to hover through midair checkpoints you didn’t see coming. That gives Trackmania a steeper learning curve than it ought to have.
But once you zoom past those initial speed bumps, Trackmania can be hard to put down. Finishing any of its decent launch selection of 45+ official tracks can take less than 90 seconds a piece, but you’ll want to play them over and over to shave off seconds and find all the clever shortcuts hidden in plain sight. The potent sounds of your engine roaring backed by high energy music can even eventually become quite soothing, drawing you in as you boost, jump, and drift around each corner in perfect rhythm.
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That doesn’t mean that you’ll be calmly cruising to the finish line though. Trackmania’s cars always feel floaty around turns, and you often pick up speed faster than you think you should. That may sound like a bad thing, but it actually contributes to the feeling that you’re perpetually just on the edge of losing control, which makes it all the more exhilarating when you dial things in just right and hit the goal for a gold medal.
Drifting Off The Main Circuit
The other side of the Trackmania coin is its custom tracks, which remain as impressive as ever – partially thanks to an intuitive block-based editor. Even before release, there are already user-made tracks ranging from recreations of Mario Kart classics to car golf to a rudimentary version of bumper cars. One dark course full of lamp posts felt like a throwback to Night Driver on the Atari 2600. Another downward slope felt like a slide from a water park that could send your vehicle flipping and flying at any moment. You never really know what you’ll get as you rummage through Trackmania’s course selections, and that’s half the fun. Time will tell if custom servers can achieve the level of plugin-based madness seen in the days of Trackmania 2, but creators already seem to have the means to go nuts in all sorts of ways.
Unfortunately, not everyone who plays Trackmania can utilize these tools thanks to its unappealing new subscription service. You can play on official tracks and use a simplified map editor entirely for free, but most other things require either the “Standard” or “Club” access subscriptions, which are $10 and $30 per year respectively. Without open access to custom tracks and other community features like chat, it’s less of a free-to-play experience and more of a glorified demo.
Gating off access like this runs the risk of putting a damper on the community support that makes Trackmania shine long term. 2016’s Trackmania Turbo proved the community won’t automatically rally around the latest entry in the series just because it’s new, especially when you can load up new tracks in TrackMania 2 for the rest of your life at no extra cost. This new Trackmania is definitely a fun return with an impressive new coat of paint, but there’s not really enough that’s brand new to justify a recurring entry fee. Nadeo has committed to adding a new set of official tracks every season for all players, but that can only differentiate things so much compared to what the community cooks up.
Whether you’re playing free or paid, Trackmania’s fancy new graphics at least makes everything look and feel fresh – it’s not going to stand up to the latest Forza or Gran Turismo, but this more lighthearted take on racing isn’t exactly trying to. Cars have a great sheen to them that persists even as you pick up speed and focus on the road ahead.
Outside of the races, Trackmania doesn’t look as impressive. Its menus are poorly cobbled together – but as a longtime fan, that off-kilter feeling oddly seems like a core part of the Trackmania experience at this point, and Nadeo probably knows it. Maniaplanet may be gone, but the charm of strange font choices and obtuse settings reminded me exactly what game I was playing, even if those rough edges will probably keep newcomers at arms length.
Brigandine debuted over two decades ago on the original PlayStation, and only now is it getting a sequel. It may seem like an unlikely candidate for revival, but Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia comes at a time when the strategy/RPG genre is getting renewed attention – partially thanks to Fire Emblem’s success. For those who want something in that vein, this certainly scratches a similar itch. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia personalizes the strategy/RPG experience by letting you recruit and get to know your combatants in side stories. Watching your team grow in strength and invading new areas makes you feel powerful, even if it lacks variety and gets repetitive.
The gameplay offers a lot of customization and freedom in how you build an army for world conquest. You begin your journey by selecting from one of six nations, each with its own leader, storyline, and strategic slant. I picked the Republic of Guimoule, where my leader has been performing under a secret identity as a ballerina, but must step up into a leadership role once her country is endangered. The game positions you well to think and feel for your nation, since each one has hopes and expectations riding on success, such as the Mana Saleesia Theocracy who is fighting a holy war in an attempt to convert everyone to his religion. As you pursue power, you see it reflected back in a satisfying way in the size of your army and occupied bases across a vast map.
Your goal is to occupy opposing bases, recruit allies, gather new weaponry, and train your combatants – all in the name of total domination. The action is split into organization and action phases for each turn. In the organization phase, you decide where to move your army, who to send on quests for experience or items, and how you want to manage your troops, upgrading their classes and summoning monsters for assistance. These decisions are a balancing act, and I enjoyed deciding when to be aggressive or defensive before even stepping on the battlefield. Positioning is key, as you need to be adjacent to an area to invade it, but you also can’t leave your bases undefended. If you send troops off to do quests, they are unavailable to fight if the base becomes besieged. The challenge comes in needing to do all things, and the push-and-pull is handled well; you can’t advance your power without trying to aggressively take over enemy forts, nor can you ignore quests due to their wondrous rewards.
When you reach the attack phase, you can invade rival nations’ bases, each with their own power level to consider. You can still win if you’re under-leveled, but you’re likely to lose monsters that you’d rather keep alive for future encounters. Battles play out on hexagonal grids, where you position your troops and select their actions. You can pick up to three leaders for each invasion, accompanied by a corresponding party of dragons, fairies, and ghouls with their own unique abilities. To finish your engagement, you can dole out enough damage and force an enemy to retreat, completely annihilate the leader and get any of their leftover monsters, or retreat yourself to save face.
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Watching your units grow and building parties to fit different strategic needs is a fun gameplay layer. Sometimes I had my leader was a mage surrounded by tanky golems or dragons for protection. I assembled groups entirely focused on healing, relying on my two other factions to do the dirty work. Your approach to combat has a lot of flexibility, and once you start leveling up your units, you really see the fruits of your labor as their skills grow in number and power. That’s especially true as you upgrade their classes, which often branch and have elemental variants. It’s a lot to tinker with, but also the most fun part of the game, since you have an expansive roster of different classes and unit types with distinct abilities to pursue. I had everything including sea serpents, high centaurs, pegasi, and more in my ranks.
Unfortunately, the battles themselves don’t play out in exciting ways. Every invasion feels similar, and the action unfolds slowly, so combat feels lethargic instead of energized. In fact, it usually takes a few turns before you even reach the enemy to fight. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia boasts about the different terrain being a difference-maker on the battlefield and shaking things up, as certain classes get bonuses or penalties based on their preference, but it didn’t do much for me. I factored it into my strategy when I could, but battles don’t play out that dramatically, nor did it feel like such a great tool I could exploit to my advantage.
Enemies are rarely pushovers, and completing a battle with your full team intact is rare. A lot of your success comes down to positioning, whether that’s keeping some units together or spaced apart – but which approach is correct often depends on pure luck. This is frustrating, and I can’t tell you how many battles I started over due to an unfortunate turn rather than any flaw in my strategy. The presence of permadeath makes this all the more annoying. You can revive monsters with their levels intact if you have a special item, but these are pretty scarce. When you consider all the time it takes to grind and upgrade these units into something satisfying, losing them can feel downright punishing, and I wish these items weren’t so hard to come to by.
Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia does everything pretty adequately, but there’s also nothing all that remarkable about the experience. I felt like I was going through the motions without anything meaningful to keep bringing me back for these tedious takeovers. The repetition just dulls the adventure, and everything plays out predictably. The game is decent and functional, but it doesn’t have any surprises, big innovations, or memorable moments.
Summary: Watching your team grow in strength and invading new areas makes you feel powerful, even if the game lacks variety and gets repetitive.
Concept: Pick a nation and work toward dominating a continent via grid-based battles
Graphics: Environments could use more variety, but the character models are beautifully drawn, showcasing the flavor of different nations
Sound: The music is not especially memorable. Also, be aware that the voice acting is only in Japanese with subtitles
Playability: Tutorials ease you into the mechanics well, but advanced features require more trial and error
Entertainment: Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia allows you to see your influence and dominance grow across its vast world, but isn’t varied enough to keep you invested
Being a cover star is a career milestone, and this year Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is adding that accolade to his already distinguished resume.
Lillard is the cover star of the current-gen version of the game out of a total of three, with the other two (next-gen and Legend edition) still to follow.
Not much has been said by developer Visual Concepts about the game itself so far, but the next-gen version was recently unveiled at Sony's event, and it should make use of the upcoming systems with shorter load times, etc.