Crowbar Collective releases a trailer for Black Mesa: Xen to celebrate 20 years of Half-Life

Source: Black Mesa, Steam

Half-Life turns 20 years old today, giving fans an opportunity to celebrate one of PC gaming’s greatest shooters, although sadly there comes no Half-Life 3 announcement at the top of it. Still, we’ve been given a glimpse of a new project by Crowbar Collective, the studio behind an excellent re-make of Half-Life, known as Black Mesa

The new project is titled Black Mesa: Xen, and aims to bring the developers’ vision of the alien world in Half-Life players got to visit briefly. Xen will serve as an extension of Half-Life, although besides the main assets, rest has been built up from the ground up. The story will expand Gordon Freeman’s brief adventure on the Xen world to a roughly 6-hour campaign, which will include plenty of jaw-dropping moments if the minute-and-a-half trailer is anything to go by. Level design showcased so far promises expansive maps spread across spectacular and intricate alien environments, while also looking exponentially better than the team’s Black Mesa release.

With stellar gameplay remaining unchanged, Black Mesa: Xen will once more put players in the shoes of Half-Life’s protagonist and give players an extensive range of weapons to be used. The alien world holds a lot of unknowns expressed through detailed enemy designs, and the team at Crowbar Collective will hopefully give us a fun range of weapons to use against them. Black Mesa: Xen is slated to release in Q2 2019 so the team has time to polish the game and bring it fully in line with the intended vision. Meanwhile, check out the announcement trailer below, as well as follow Crowbar Collective’s community page for further updates.

No Man’s Sky Next review

Developer, Publisher: Hello Games


Released: August 12th, 2016 (original), July 24th 2018 (Next update)

Reviewed on: PC; Available via: Steam

Testing specifications: Core i5-6500 3.2 GHz, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

The hype surrounding No Man’s Sky was one of the biggest generated throughout the entire gaming industry, but when it released in 2016, it lacked many of the promised features, and underperformed on delivering the expected experience. This resulted in a wide community backlash, where negative reviews encompassed positive comments, but development on the game wasn’t finished. Hello Games spent the next 2 years providing consistent updates to the game, which expanded on what players could do and aligned the game with original design vision. No Man’s Sky gives players a massive universe to explore, filled with a myriad planets, star systems, and space fleets, now enabling cooperative play throughout the entire game. The Next update, coupled with previously released improvements, brings No Man’s Sky to the next level, and while players won’t be able to escape the tedious structure of its survival mode, it provides ample opportunity to create fun moments. With so many elements introduced post-launch, this feels like the game Hello games should have made at the start, although doesn’t feel vastly different from its original build. Thankfully, all the updates came at no charge, enabling early adopters to experience a fresh take on survival in a vast universe.

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Sunset Overdrive makes its way to PC after 4 years

 

Developer Insomniac Games surprisingly confirmed release of their wacky open-world shooter Sunset Overdrive in recent few days, and today it releases worldwide on the platform. Available to purchase through Steam and the Microsoft Store, the game includes two DLC packs and retails for $19.99, which is quite a good deal for one of the most underrated open world IPs. If you missed it in 2014, there’s now an opportunity to experience the definitive edition, although details are scarce whether the PC port improves any visual aspects.

Sunset Overdrive failed to receive extensive attention during its release window, overshadowed by some higher profile titles, but critics were generally accepting of the fun experience it provided. Mashing multiple games together, it features a vibrant open world along the lines of Saints Row 4, and especially shines in player movement which resembled Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, as you grind along the metal rails spread throughout the city. The mutant outbreak caused by a certain energy drink is as silly as story premises go, but ties in well with the gameplay activities you’d be doing. With a diverse selection of crazy weapons to top it off, Sunset Overdrive really shines as one of the underlooked gems in open-world gaming.

Insomniac Games also released a trailer to accompany the PC launch of the game, which you can check it out here:

Far Cry 5 Review

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Toronto; Publisher: Ubisoft

Released: March 27th, 2018; Reviewed on: PC

Testing Specifications: Core i5-6500 3.2 GHz, 16GB DDR4 RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

Available via: Steam, Ubisoft Store

Playing a new Far Cry game at this point feels like slipping on a familiar pair of shoes, and despite minor token innovation throughout each release, extensively feels like going through the same motion. Far Cry 5 may be the biggest step away from the series’ usual tropes so far, yet I can’t escape the feeling I’ll be doing precisely the same stuff in a different setting. It’s a new region to explore, a new story, a new villain – yet feels very much the same as the games that came before it. Retreading familiar ground, Far Cry 5 throws players into an isolated region, tasked to liberate it from an oppressive cult. It’s wearing a new coat again, although this time Ubisoft made some welcome changes to make the experience less redundant. Don’t expect full blown progress, however, as we’re still playing by the same rules established in Ubisoft’s sandbox titles back around when Far Cry 3 came out. That said, there is a reason many enjoy the series, and won’t leave that comfort zone for innovation. Far Cry 5 is a solid entry once more, but four games in, the magic of its experience is starting to wear off no matter what Ubisoft attempts to change for a new release.

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Life is Strange Android port impressions

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Developer: Dontnod Entertainment, Publisher: Square Enix

Released: July 18th, 2018

Tested on: Razer Phone, Android 7.0

It’s always exciting to see a fully-fledged game release available on your mobile device’s marketplace, especially if it is a port of the game you’ve enjoyed on PC throughout the last couple of years. There’s something remarkable about being able to play a PC release in the palm of your hand, even more so if there was no downgrade in the process. Life is Strange marks one of these rare cases where the mobile port is so good, I may never go back to the PC version, as the platform is more adept to play action-heavy games on. If I want to relax and game on my phone, Life is Strange offers a compelling story-rich experience that will be engaging throughout long stretches of time. With fluid controls, excellent graphics and rewarding story content, Life is Strange arrives on Android in shining colors, and delivers the quality few mobile titles can match. And the fact that it’s one of the best episodic adventure games on the PC and consoles makes it even even more sweet.

Note: this is not a full-feature review but my impressions with the Android port of the game, which released a few months ago.

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Blizzard announces a mobile spin-off Diablo Immortal

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At BlizzCon 2018, Blizzard unveiled a little surprise for mobile gamers by announcing an online action RPG Diablo Immortal. It’s set in between Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction and the third main title, and will come to both iOS and Android platforms. There’s a trailer to go along with it, and the game’s webpage offers the ability to pre-register already.

Diablo Immortal is being developed from the ground up for mobile devices, and will make the most out of touchscreen controls. We could certainly benefit from another high-profile aRPG on the platform, and the format has shown to integrate well into mobile controls. Players can expect to find a lot of the same features introduced in Diablo 3, including full multiplayer support and co-op quests. Immortal even has a lot of resemblance to the third title’s graphics.

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The game’s trailer showcases some impressive graphics and visual design, and looks almost on par with the bigger Diablo releases. Immortal looks to control smoothly, with an easy touchscreen layout and directional movement. Players will battle hundreds of demons on their adventure, and can choose to do so alone or co-operatively. With six familiar classes to choose from, Diablo fans will have an absolute blast playing this on their mobile devices.

Diablo Immortal is certainly a departure for the series, and an unexpected spin-off, but everything shown in the trailer looks promising, and I can’t wait to be able to check it out. The final release date hasn’t been announced yet, but will likely happen sometime early 2019. For now, there’s cinematic and gameplay trailers to check out:

Gameplay:

 

Cinematic:

Activision is giving away a free copy of Destiny 2 on Battle.net

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Who doesn’t like free stuff? We as gamers especially enjoy getting our hands in various freebies, from small indie titles to large profile games. With free to play events, free trials and giveaways, gamers are spoiled for choice when it comes to trying out new titles, especially when they get to keep the full game. For the next three weeks, if you game on PC, Blizzard are giving away a free copy of Destiny 2 through Battle.net online store.
The giveaway lasts until November 18, and anyone with a battle.net account can grab a full version of the game at no cost. Destiny 2 is offered through gifts, and users will find a new item located in that category, upon which they claim a free copy to own. There are no further conditions required to keep the game, which makes the giveaway pretty sweet.

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Neither Blizzard nor Activision typically give out free games, let alone such a fairly recent release as Destiny 2, but this giveaway commemorates the one year anniversary for the title. Further, it is likely a move to attract a large new base of PC gamers to the title, which isn’t a bad deal to start with. You don’t get a cheap or very old title here, but instead a triple A release from a year back.
Destiny 2 is Bungie’s improved successor to the original IP, and although many have compared the two upon release, it brings a lot of new elements to elevate the shoot and loot FPS. As a first release on the PC platform, it is a very competent port and looks spectacular on high end hardware. Whether you like its gameplay style and long term progression, this is a deal that’s hard to pass buy. For a game that still retails for $80 CAD, this is an incredible giveaway and you should head over to Battle.net to grab a copy of Destiny 2 at no cost.

Update: giveaway ended Nov 18