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Players pilot an ethercraft in Stardust Odyssey.<br>Sony Interactive Entertainment/TNS

PlayStation VR roundup: Stardust Odyssey, Audica highlight holiday offerings

PlayStation VR is still going strong going in its fourth year. The peripheral has seen a fair amount of great games since then developers get a grasp of the maturing medium and create higher-quality experiences.


‘Ring Fit Adventure’ is Nintendo’s bid to slay the fitness dragon

Early in Ring Fit Adventure, a talking, virtual Pilates-like ring tells you that your “glistening sweat” is beautiful. Your opinion of such a phrase — sorta cute, kinda funny or infuriating — might reflect how you will feel about Nintendo’s latest bid to enter the fitness and tech market.


Luigi’s Mansion 3 scares up fall fun

Mario may be the most recognizable mascot in gaming but I’ve long been partial to his brother Luigi, probably because he seems like the more conflicted of the two. Whereas Mario is short, round and confident, Luigi is lanky and bumbling — qualities dear to my heart. Yet, despite my affinity for the younger brother, I haven’t settled my thumbs around a Luigi’s Mansion game until recently.


Call of Duty Modern Warfare’s terrorism scenes detract from great online package

Call of Duty Modern Warfare has returned with a vengeance. It’s been eight years since the release of Modern Warfare 3. Since then, a new console generation has boosted gameplay and graphics capabilities. And the real-world war against terrorism has morphed into something even more sinister. That allows developers at Infinity Ward to deliver a game that’s bold, beautiful and very brutal.

Code Vein borrows from Dark Souls and tweaks some less-forgiving aspects of the classic game

Difficulty has always been a barrier for Dark Souls. The franchise’s intimidating reputation is a turn-off for gamers who don’t see the joy in “getting good.” That’s a shame, really, because the series shines once players shatter those challenging roadblocks.


Despite being marred by numerous mechanical glitches, Ghost Recon Breakpoint offers fun cooperative gameplay

When the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ruled the gaming world, Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon franchise delivered exceptional tactical shooters built around ingenious gadgets, stealthy combat and enthralling cooperative play. Missions were intense and every action had significance. A console generation later, the franchise is a ghost of its former self.


Faithful rebuild of Link’s Awakening will please fans and newcomers alike

In recent years, the Zelda franchise has seen a number of remakes. Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess have all been recast to take advantage of more versatile hardware. Advances in technology have allowed the masterful game design of these titles to shine even brighter. Arguably, no game in the series has benefited as much from a visual overhaul as the The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which was originally released in 1993 on the Game Boy.


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  • Astral Chain is complicated, but ultimately enjoyable

    At the end of each of Astral Chain’s missions, a menu pops up on screen asking if you’d like to advance to the next “file” with the same “play style” or difficulty level. I can’t think of another game that so frequently reminds its audience of such options, and I wondered why the developers of this flamboyant new action game might do this.


  • Switch Lite is Nintendo's second consecutive hardware home run

    To see the Lite is to touch it. It hits you immediately when you first pick it up. The matte finish feels just crispy enough under your fingertips. Your index fingers nestle into a slightly deeper scoop on the trigger buttons. Like resting your hands in slime, it’s tactile bliss, ASMR for the grabbers. Both airy and sturdy, the discounted ($199), handheld-only “Lite” model of Nintendo’s hit console Switch is the most comfortable mobile gaming device ever made.


  • Gears 5: The definition of a great action game

    It’s there in the title: Gears 5, not Gears of War 5. Just “Gears,” the de facto name that fans have been using for more than a decade. The clipped title agrees with the game’s sense of focus which seems intent on reminding players why the series remains an exemplar of AAA game development.


  • Control is a space-warping science-fiction game with much to like, but not a lot to love

    In New York City, a woman walks into a federal building that goes unnoticed by most passersby on account of its “paranatural” qualities, which make it there and not there. An extraterrestrial voice in her head tells her where to go. She passes through the empty lobby of the Federal Bureau of Control and meets a janitor with a Finnish accent thick enough to make subtitles an appealing option.


  • Eliza explores the perils of technology and our desire to automate intimacy

    Please, pleads a character we meet in Eliza, just let him talk to a real human. The interactive game unfolds as a not-too-distant nightmare, one in which technology has enabled us to talk to everyone and connect with no one. It also taps our fears over healthcare access and how our always-connected life affects our mental health. It’s a timely work of digital anxiety that captures a generational desire to use apps and technology to solve problems rather than seek to fully understand them.


  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses explores romance in a sword-and-sorcery setting

    The drama comes quickly in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the latest in Nintendo’s wonderfully weird, soap opera-worthy sword-and-sorcery fairy tale franchise. A teacher introduces her medical practice by also noting that she’s single and ready to mingle. A student lays the groundwork for doubting that you’re truly your father’s daughter. An academic administrator says, “We try to avoid discrimination based on social status,” but, well, you know how the upper class can be, so get used to it.


  • Team up with a friend or play solo in 1st modern co-op Wolfenstein adventure

    Picking up 20 years after the events of the last game, Wolfenstein: Youngblood stars the twin daughters of the series hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, who take the fight against the Nazis to the streets of Paris. A few cutscenes notwithstanding, Youngblood doesn’t have the number of arresting narratives as The New Colossus. But, in a series first, its campaign is organized around co-op gameplay.


  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night shows how much fun the Metroidvania genre offers

    It’s been more than two decades since I first played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and my love for it has only grown through the years. In fact, I consider it to be my favorite game of all time, and I replay it regularly. Naturally, I was thrilled to hear that Koji Igarashi, the creative mind behind Symphony of the Night, was working on a spiritual successor titled Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.


  • The Sinking City an ambitious detective game that fails to reach its full potential

    The Sinking City is quick to set a mood, but struggles to deepen it. Its supernatural elements aren’t unnerving, its noirish elements rest on characters who are simply shady as opposed to morally complex, and its technical shortcomings don’t do it any favors.


  • Sea of Solitude explores the terrors of loneliness, what it means to be human

    We’re accustomed to games, even the most nuanced, beginning with a clear problem: an outlaw on the run, a world in peril, a loved one kidnapped and held hostage by a gorilla. Sea of Solitude, however, starts with an overwhelmed plea, a phrase spoken with equal amounts of desperation and hopelessness: “Change me.”


  • My Friend Pedro a bizarre ballet of bullets and brazen bananas

    Close your eyes and picture this, if you will. You’ve just woken up in a butcher’s freezer with no recollection of who you are or how you got there. You’re terrified, angry and alone — except for some banana. But it’s not a regular banana — no, not at all. This banana has a name. It’s Pedro. And he’s your ticket out of this nightmare. The only way out is with guns and a whole lot of crazy. Good thing, because you’ve got it in droves. Welcome to My Friend Pedro, a game all about pistol-whipping enemies, slowing down time and listening to your psychotic, fruity friend. Strap in, because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.


  • Uber satisfying: Upcoming Neo Cab examines the gamification of life

    Games, multiple companies at this year’s Electronic EntertainmentNeo Cab was the most perfect demo I played at E3 this year, a game designed not just with the sort of clean and simple choice-based interface that could be grasped by many, but also calling attention to the mini emotional mind games that occupy — and wreak havoc on — our day.


  • Draugen a scenic game about delusional thinking

    Draugen is a pleasant vacation from the world of mainstream gaming. Its protagonist is not a hero, but a man traumatized by his past. Its pacing is leisurely rather than hurried. Its mysteries court the mundane more than the spectacular. Billed as a “fjord noir,” this short, narrative-driven game is set in 1923, in a small Norwegian village bordered by sparkling water. The area’s rustic charm is undercut by an atmosphere of tragedy that’s captured by a sign that hangs over a hastily boarded up church which, when translated from the Norwegian, reads: “God is not here.”


  • Interesting concept behind Heaven’s Vault takes a while to grab you, but stick with it

    Learning a language can lead to a profound transformation of how one interacts with the world. But the struggle to acquire a basic proficiency is enough to deter most of us from stretching our linguistic abilities. Heaven’s Vault is a visual novel that dramatizes the grind and reward that comes from studying a foreign language, where progressing through the game’s worlds of robots and spaceships is dependent upon adding to its heroine Aliya Elasra’s vocabulary.


  • Confidently bland: Good gunplay gives small boost to Rage 2’s overly familiar story

    The one time I got mad about Rage 2, it was my fault. My first night with the post-apocalyptic shooter, I spent at least 30 minutes fuming over the game’s “insane balancing issues” after I tried to flush out a bandit enclave and kept getting plucked off with explosives. “Why,” I fumed to myself, “do the enemies have so many grenades this early in the game?!”


  • Mortal Kombat 11 lives up to its reputation: Brash, fun and ridiculously violent

    “Can you believe that we’re playing a Mortal Kombat game?” my friend Milton asked as we dove into the new “Mortal Kombat 11.” It has been 20 years since he and I went to college together. Back then we played a serious amount of Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat 4 on the Super Nintendo and the N64, respectively. Though I got into fighting games via Street Fighter 2, my fighting game skills plateaued with those two MK games. My friends and I used to play them with a guidebook on our laps which we used to memorize long combo-strings and fatalities. At the height of our mania, MK became for us an almost-purely cerebral experience where we’d try to guess each other other’s strategy, then switch up the tempo of a game on the fly. It was our chess.


  • Tired of the zombie apocalypse? Sure — but Days Gone can still provide hours of entertainment

    As someone who long ago stopped watching “The Walking Dead,” and generally has little interest in zombie-related fare (excepting The Last of Us), I wasn’t keyed up to play Days Gone. I never expected it to wring any fresh ideas from one of the most strip-mined veins of contemporary pop culture. The few dozen hours I’ve spent with it haven’t given me a reason to amend that assessment, but I’ve been surprised at how easy the game has been to fall into.


  • Far Cry New Dawn an entertaining return to Hope County

    Nuclear Armageddon might not have improved things in Hope County, but it certainly didn’t make them much worse. A slightly irradiated Hope County, Mont., is the setting of Ubisoft’s Far Cry New Dawn, a sequel to last spring’s Far Cry 5. The first-person shooter is set about 17 years after the previous game’s hero battled the Eden’s Gate cult, which was terrorizing the rural county. During those years, nuclear war — a looming menace in Far Cry 5 — has come and gone, and survivors have crawled out of their shelters to establish new settlements.


  • ‘Devil May Cry 5’ steps out of shadow of original by breaking from past

    With “Devil May Cry 5,” director Hideaki Itsuno fulfills the promise of his predecessor. But players have to delve through a complicated story line. Told through three perspectives, it follows Dante, the long-standing protagonist; V, a mysterious newcomer and Nero. The three have teamed up to take down a demon called Urizen, which has planted a giant tree called the Qliphoth that is sucking blood out of humans and unleashing monsters on Red Grave City.


  • Plenty to shoot, plenty to love in 'Division 2'

    Rarely has a video game been more about hope. “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” is about bringing hope to a plague-stricken metropolis beset by warring gangs and paramilitary forces. It’s also about bringing hope to gamers who have experienced some recent disappointments with cooperative shooters. “Anthem” is a rocket-powered sci-fi adventure that’s going down in flames, and “Fallout 76” turned into a postapocalyptic disaster.


  • District of destruction: ‘Division’ developers bring Washington to life, then bring it to its knees

    When Stripes moved to its new offices a few months ago, I didn’t realize my desk was a great sniper position that could provide overwatch for teammates operating in the dark zone north of Capitol Hill. Or at least it could in the post-apocalyptic world of Ubisoft’s “The Division 2,” which releases March 15.


  • New game-a-day platform Meditations proves there can be joy in text-free play

    Over the past several weeks, new video games have tackled unexpected subjects in unpredictable ways. One release was designed to capture the sensation of seeing a newborn smile for the first time. Another sought to illustrate how an entire family could drift apart after the death of a beloved grandfather.


  • 'Metro Exodus' a post-apocalyptic train ride to adventure

    I love a good post-apocalyptic romp among vicious mutants and cutthroat brigands. I like it even more when my actions have consequences beyond the body count. Games of the “Metro” franchise have delivered that quite nicely, and the latest entry is no exception.


  • 'Kingdom Hearts 3' has a baffling backstory but is a treat for fans of Disney and Pixar

    Whenever a popular, story-infused video game is released and has a few numbers in its title, the question, “Do you need to play the previous ones in the series?” usually pops up. The vast majority of the time I say “no.” No, you don’t need to play the earlier Elder Scrolls, Red Dead Redemption, Assassin’s Creed, The Witcher or Persona games to forge a deep connection with the latest incarnation. But if you ask me this question about “Kingdom Hearts 3,” well ...


  • ‘Resident Evil’ remake modernizes a survival classic

    Capcom never lets a good idea go to waste, and if it’s popular enough, the company isn’t afraid to use it twice. The company has released reworked editions of “Street Fighter II” and gathered the “Mega Man” games and sold them in collections. With the “Resident Evil” series, the publisher has opted to revamp the titles from the ground up. Beginning with the excellent original, the company has updated the visuals and design for several chapters.


  • 'Katamari Damacy Reroll' will charm its players with strangeness

    Ever since the study of consumer culture began, attention has been paid to the anxiety people feel toward their possessions. The downside to living in a society that values accumulation is that many of us feel uneasy about the amount of stuff that surrounds us. (Clutter, some psychologists tell us, can create a stressful environment.) Of the innumerable artistic responses to this phenomenon, Keita Takahashi’s classic game “Katamari Damacy’ is one of the more sanguine.


  • Upcoming video game forces commanders to earn the trust of their troops or face defeat

    In many combat-themed games, soldiers are simply a collection of polygons that do what a player commands — but the upcoming World War II battlefield simulator “Burden of Command” shows players the complexity of leading people into battle.


  • 'Desert Child': race, ramen, repeat

    Sometimes we want a video game to relax with; something that doesn’t ask to be taken seriously because it doesn’t really take itself seriously. Sometimes making a game with simple mechanics allows the overall experience to shine, giving gamers the chance to enjoy what they see instead of focusing on what comes next. It’s not an approach seen often, and yet it’s exactly the sort of approach Oscar Brittain seems to have taken with his retro-throwback racer “Desert Child.”


  • Video game review

    ‘Vermintide 2’ a cut above

    In ages past, four heroes banded together to ward off the minions of destruction. They wielded their weapons with precision and maneuvered with skill or they fell before the oncoming hordes. Their deeds brought cheers from the masses. But enough of “Left 4 Dead.” A new franchise has risen to claim the mantel of the king of co-op fun: “Vermintide 2,” from the Swedish developer Fatshark.


  • 'Magic: The Gathering'

    Trading card game comes to PC with intuitive online system for casual and seasoned players

    “Magic: The Gathering” is the legendary trading card game by which most other new games are measured. Ever since it debuted in 1993, it’s been “the” go-to game when it comes to collecting, trading and decimating our opponents. Having grown up with “Magic” myself (Mercadian Masques, represent), I’ve played it at nearly every stage in my life, though I spent most of my childhood swapping between that and the “Pokemon Trading Card Game.”


  • Puzzle game is even more addictive in ‘Tetris Effect’

    I’ve never considered myself a fan of “Tetris.” Sure, I played it occasionally as a kid whenever a friend briefly relinquished their Game Boy, but I don’t have warm memories of lining up falling blocks into neat rows to make them disappear. Of course, Alexey Pajitnov’s game must be counted as one of the most accessible and broadly recognized video games in history. I just never figured that one of its iterations would prevent me from sleeping. That’s why, slowly, over recent weeks, I’ve tried to make peace with the possibility that “Tetris Effect” is a game I love too much.


  • 'Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding' alternate universe is a big hit with Facebook users

    Tony Snipes is the “public information officer” at The Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co., an alternate universe that resembles the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. But at this Portsmouth yard, ships are built to fly.


  • Avalanche is taking action series ‘Just Cause’ to another level in 4th installment

    Avalanche Studios has consistently upped the ante with each entry of “Just Cause” and the latest shift is, essentially, tossing all of the previous upgrades into a weather-powered blender. “Just Cause 4” is using the new Apex engine and the developers are using the engine’s power and flexibility to add four extreme weather conditions to the series’ high-speed and malleable action.


  • 'Battlefield V' struggles to make sense of history

    The “Battlefield” series has never gone in order, or even really added up. “Battlefield V” is technically the 15th game in the series (depending on how you count), not the fifth. It’s the direct sequel to “Battlefield 1,” which was the 14th game, not the first. The first was 2002’s “Battlefied: 1942.” 2005’s “Battlefield 2” was actually the third in the series, and there were seven games released between it and “Battlefield 3.” Though the title of each always seems straightforward, when you look back across the series it seems to have lost track of itself. These are games built around moments that blend together without ever really connecting.


  • 'Fallout 76': Little life in the post-apocalyptic landscape

    Waking up in Vault 76 is a lonely experience. You start Bethesda Softworks’ “Fallout 76” by stepping out of an underground vault 20 years after a nuclear war. The vault was packed with the best and the brightest among Vault Tec’s employees — a crew intended to be the first to step onto the blasted landscape and start rebuilding civilization.


  • In ‘Luigi’s Mansion,’ the other Mario brother wrestles with ghosts in this fun, spooky 3DS port of the GameCube classic

    “Luigi’s Mansion” originally debuted on the GameCube in 2001. Now, 17 years later, it’s found a home on the Nintendo 3DS, thanks to a port from Grezzo and Nintendo’s baffling decision to aim for the handheld when the Switch is the port machine that typically gets the most love as of late. It’s a bit strange that a sequel to the game, 2013’s “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon,” hit the 3DS before the original did, but I’m thankful for it.


  • Things get dark and dirty in solid open-worlder ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

    This is what it’s like to play “Red Dead Redemption 2”: You’re living the life of an outlaw in the Wild West. You’re Arthur Morgan of the Van der Linde gang, and you and the crew are on the run. That means a battle for survival throughout five fictional states in Rockstar Games’ masterpiece, but it means more than that, too. It means maintaining guns, eating, and feeding your horse, and it means hours and hours on horseback, traversing one of the most detailed depictions of the Wild West that you’ve ever seen. This is life in “Red Dead Redemption 2,” and if you’re not careful, you’ll burn hours upon hours of your real life in New Hanover.


  • ‘Monster Energy Supercross 2’ is dirty, challenging and possibly the most exciting Milestone release yet

    Italian games developer Milestone S.r.l. might be primarily known for its hyper-realistic motorcycling racing simulators, but some game fans might be surprised to learn that the company has been producing off-road racing games since as far back as 2010. The latest dirt-focused title, “Monster Energy Supercross 2: The Official Videogame,” gives players the chance to live out the 2018 Supercross season with a selection of the industry’s top riders and tracks, and comes complete with new technical tweaks and rider aids that aim to create a much more approachable and engaging experience.


  • ‘My Memory of Us’: A fast-paced, stylish adventure with a storyline some might find off-putting

    Do you like the voice of the noted actor Patrick Stewart? Are you a fan of fairy tales starring plucky children? If you answer yes to either of these questions, then the stylishly animated adventure game “My Memory of Us” might be worth a look. If, however, you are troubled by the Disneyfication of historical tragedies then you’ll probably be put off by it, regardless of its conspicuously good intentions.


  • Battle royale boosts 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 4'

    Developers at Treyarch have accomplished something truly unusual with “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.” They’ve eliminated a franchise cornerstone while still offering a satisfying array of content. And they’ve created a game that doesn’t break any new ground, but still feels incredibly fresh.


  • Latest Assassin’s Creed will please those who take time to truly play it

    The Assassin’s Creed series is known for making playgrounds out of history. From the banks of the Nile in ancient Egypt to the cobblestone streets of Victorian London, the games hopscotch through momentous epochs in human civilization, trailing intrigue and corpses in their wake.


  • Great visuals, new missions make for a good time, but ‘Forsaken’ starts to feel stale after a while

    The games in the Destiny series have always aspired to keep players busy not for hours or weeks, but months on end. When the first game launched in 2014, it appeared on track to accomplishing its mission. (Indeed, there was a running joke on Eurogamer about the number of articles devoted to Bungie’s interplanetary shooter.)


  • ‘Tomb Raider’ is a familiar thrill ride with new scenery

    Lara Croft is one of a handful of characters the video game industry has produced who scarcely needs an introduction. Three Hollywood films and a slew of cultural criticism have served to fix her in the public imagination as a successful Indiana Jones clone and a metric of how the industry has (and hasn’t) shifted in its portrayal of women. As Josephine Livingstone wrote in The New Republic, Lara Croft’s recent incarnation in games and on the silver screen is “more human, less funny, more abs than boobs.” Basically, still incredibly attractive, but in a less juvenile way.


  • 'Marvel’s Spider-Man' is breathtaking, electrifying - and a tad too predictable

    After 36 years and 37 Spider-Man video game appearances that date back to a 1982 Atari 2600 encounter with the Green Goblin, none shimmers with more signature angst and electrifying, heroic feats than Insomniac Games’ new, photorealistic offering for the PlayStation 4.


  • Game review

    'Donut County’ is a little bit about gentrification -- and a whole lot of fun

    “Donut County” is an upbeat game about being a callous worker, someone entitled and destructive who thinks he is a good guy. For most of the game you upend the lives of people and ruin different environments with rollicking abandon.


  • Shooting prompts cancellation of three remaining Madden Classic events

    Software publisher Electronic Arts has canceled the remaining three qualifying events for its Madden Classic esports tournament following the deaths of two competitors at the tournament's opening event held Sunday in Jacksonville.


  • ‘Octopath Traveler’ shows that old-school RPGs can learn new tricks

    Japanese role-playing games have strived to give players bigger and more bombastic experiences. Epic cutscenes rival anything this side of a Peter Jackson movie. Dazzling visuals showcase the latest hardware that make fantasies look like reality. But for all the effort to give fans a grand adventure, crucial elements of the genre were lost along the way — compelling characters and daring storytelling. "Octopath Traveler" from Square Enix does not make that mistake.


  • 'Airheart': A quirky quest to capture the great whale in the sky

    Occasionally, it can be uplifting to discover you've been going about things the wrong way. That's how I felt when I realized I was playing "Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings" incorrectly. This game rewards patience and restraint over frantic activity, which makes sense because "Airheart” is a mashup of a shooter and a fishing game. And as any angler will tell you, a relaxed-frame of mind is conducive to taking in a big haul.


  • Players roam America freely in Ubisoft’s open-world racer ‘The Crew 2’

    When making an open-world racing game that lets players freely roam the United States, expectations are high. With “The Crew,” Ivory Tower Ubisoft succeeded in creating an approximate replica of the country. The problem was that while “The Crew” reflected the vastness of America, it was a game that felt bland, empty and lifeless. “The Crew 2” fixes that major flaw by expanding the project’s main concept beyond racing.


  • Classic games, lovingly reimagined in 'Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy'

    At first blush, it makes perfect sense that Activision would remaster three Crash Bandicoot games and compile them under the moniker “N. Sane Trilogy.” The game is priced nicely, features a jovial, marsupial protagonist with a manic personality, and was an essential part of PlayStation history. I approached the compilation with trepidation, though, after playing other revivals during the past year.


  • ‘Mario Tennis Aces’ is the perfect way to kick off the summer

    I knew I was smitten with “Mario Tennis Aces” after I lost a hard-fought match to Shy Guy — Nintendo’s cutesy, mask-wearing scoundrel. At 40-all, we went back and forth angling for the two consecutive points that would clinch the game. “Mario Tennis Aces” is the first sports game since, well, “Mario Kart 8” that’s captivated me. I say that to make it clear that I’m not the sort of person that finds more realistic sports-themed simulations particularly appealing.


  • Interesting social simulator ‘Vampyr’ is bogged down by uninspiring combat

    Blood is at times cited as a marker of lineage, a gauge of health, or an index for commitment to a political cause (to give one’s blood for their beliefs). In “Vampyr,” an action-RPG set during the time of the 1918 Spanish Flu, the most decimating pandemic of the modern era, each of these dimensions is probed alongside the game’s spin on the vampire myth.


  • Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

    Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing.


  • Video game review

    A cliched but enjoyable ‘Detroit: Become Human’ explores life after tech awakening

    For decades, technologists have bid us to envision a time when technology becomes self-conscious and claims responsibility for its self-improvement. According to the survey I took in “Detroit: Become Human,” a majority of players with early access to the game think that such an event will happen, and if a humbling phenomenon like this were to occur it follows that human society would be changed forever.


  • Sail on the winds of adventure with ‘Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire’

    “Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire” expands on the more traditional setting of the first game, infusing tropical scenery with traditional fantasy trappings to create an unforgettable experience.


  • Big Bad Wolf lays solid foundation for new ‘Council’ series with ‘Mad Ones’

    Despite technical flaws, the Telltale formula has propelled the studio to the upper echelons of gaming, leading more developers to leap into the episodic adventure pond following their games’ success. Big Bad Wolf, a French indie developer, is the latest to step up to the plate and is doing so with a secret society-centered mystery adventure set in the 1700s.


  • ‘Far Cry 5’ marries commentary with fun

    For more than a decade, the Far Cry series has been known for sending players to locations that would seem exotic to all but the most globetrotting Westerner: the savannah, the tropics, the Himalayas. Even without placing too much stock in the political wink-winks that date “Far Cry 5” as a product of the Trump Era, there is something ironic about setting the new game in Montana.


  • 'Hearthstone' has new competitor in 'Magic: The Gathering Arena'

    “Magic: The Gathering Arena,” is an online-only version of the venerated collectible card game that is attempting to bring together the glamour of "Hearthstone" and the deep, intricate play of Magic. It succeeds, for the most part.


  • Taking a quick, bloody walk down memory lane with ‘Amid Evil’

    Everything in the still-in-early-access “Amid Evil” heralds its creators’ love for the early-’90s FPS. The low-poly graphics, the visual aesthetic ripped from a death metal cover, the sound design that includes bloodcurdling screams and maniacal laughter. Every aspect of “Amid Evil” is a love letter to a bygone era — an homage to a more uncivilized time, if you will.


  • Fight the horde for fun and loot in 'Warhammer: Vermintide II'

    Online gaming has never been more popular than it is in 2018, with heavy hitters like “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” drawing millions of players daily. But the subgenre represented by “Left 4 Dead” hasn’t really seen the success of those frag fests. Thank Sigmar for developer Fatshark and its “Warhammer: Vermintide” series


  • ‘Golem Gates’ looks to blend strategy, luck and lane combat

    More than a few games over the years have attempted to meld real-time strategy and collectible card games. To date, none yet have really succeeded in marrying the two seemingly disparate genres. Yet, the endorphin rush of opening packs of cards and the ego boost of pulling off a master strategic plan remains an attractive combination for developers. Enter “Golem Gates,” the latest game that looks to extract the best qualities of those two genres, add a touch of MOBA flavoring and distill it all into one package.


  • FIRST LOOK

    Lifting the veil of mystery surrounding ‘Abandon Ship’

    While there are a ton of Early Access games not worth the electricity spent to launch them, others such as They Are Billions and Astroneers are outright better than most of the games cluttering up Steam. Is Abandon Ship the next great Early Access title?


  • REVIEW

    Learning to love the brutality, excitement of 'Kingdom Come: Deliverance'

    “Kingdom Come” is unlike any other RPG made. While plenty of RPGs have paid lip service to realism, almost all of them eventually have veered in magic, prophecies about the Chosen One or some other such nonsense. “Deliverance” offers no such tomfoolery and replaces it with chores, learning how to read and getting your ass kicked. Constantly.


  • ‘Dragon Quest Builders’ a delightful addition to Switch library

    If you missed out on Dragon Quest Builders the first time around, what differentiates it from Minecraft and its clones is the focus on story progression and the mash-up of traditional roleplaying game elements with build-what-you-want mechanics. Oh, and it's fun, to boot.


  • REVIEW IN PROGRESS

    It's a serf's life in 'Kingdom Come: Deliverance'

    There is a certain rhythm to open-world roleplaying games. First, you start off as nobody. Then you get a sword. Then you become Lord and Master of Everything That Ever Was and Will Be. “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” is basically the opposite of all of that.


  • Nostalgia, pixel art perfection can’t save ‘Crossing Souls’

    Fourattic’s small team clearly has a love for all things ’80s.From the pixel art that evokes video games of yore, to the low-budget Saturday morning cartoon-esque cutscenes, to the dozens of references to everything from Michael Jackson to “Ghostbusters,” “Crossing Souls” is packed with love letters to the decade that Ronald Reagan built.


  • ‘Dragon Ball FighterZ’ goes super Saiyan

    Let me take you back to the ‘90s really quick, an era where anime could pretty much only be found at Blockbuster videos and interest in Japanese cartoons was considered a hobby only for the socially inept. This was around the time I had my first exposure to the Dragon Ball franchise in the form of imported Super Famicom fighting games. These 2D brawlers were like nothing I’d seen stateside. Who were these characters with spiky blonde hair and how could throwing fireballs be as simple as pushing a button?


  • Underwater ‘Subnautica’ breathes new life into stale genre

    Even if you can’t stomach the thought of having to juggle yet another series of food, water and health meters, “Subnautica” deserves your immediate and undivided attention. It’s not only a breath of fresh air in a stale genre, but it’s an absolutely stunning game


  • ‘Accounting+’ is pure virtual reality fun

    I’m standing in the middle of a woodsy-looking area holding a battery that I plucked from a climate-control machine in one hand and, in my other, the receiver of a corded phone attached to a pole. My attention is divided between my bosses who are yelling at me through the phone telling me that I should kill myself and a tree dwelling creature I see nearby who is cursing at me for invading his sanctuary.


  • Stars and Stripes’ top 10 games of 2017

    Another year down, another year of amazing video game experiences. As with every year, there have been some great games and some titles that are best forgotten. This year in particular will be remembered largely for the resurgence of Nintendo, what with the company’s massively successful Switch and the exceptional critical reception of two of its flagship IPs. But 2017 was chock full of other success stories as well. Please enjoy our rundown of what we consider to be the best video games of 2017.


  • Parenting

    What’s the biggest hurdle a high-school coach faces?

    Kyle Gray knows basketball. But in a crowded conference room on a sweltering July afternoon in Yakima, Wash., no one attending a clinic seemed to care about that. They wanted to know only one thing from the Edmonds Community College men’s basketball coach: How do you deal with parents?


  • Video game holiday gift buying guide 2017

    We’ve compiled a list of some of the best games from across the most popular genres released this year. Take a look and keep this article in mind next time you’re at the store looking for a gift for that special someone. Even if that someone is you.


  • The Force is faltering with ‘Battlefront II’

    Few developers have managed to squander as much goodwill as the “Stars Wars Battlefront” team. But is the game beneath the controversy worth playing?


  • The 'Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim' is overly familiar, great on handheld Switch

    Where do you even begin to review a re-re-release of a six-year-old video game? Most of the time, the answer is simple. You don’t. You skip that release and move on to the next one, much like gamers will not normally flock to a port of such an old game.


  • ‘Call of Duty’ returns to past glory

    In promoting “Call of Duty: WWII,” Activision has touted a return to tradition. However, the latest first-person shooter makes so many bold changes to the franchise’s format that it’s quickly apparent that it’s anything but traditional — and that’s for the best.


  • USS Kidd to be featured in World of Warships game

    On Nov. 10, World of Warships will introduce the USS Kidd to its fleet of military ships. It’s creators believe if a Kidd veteran sees the gaming version, it will seem like the real thing.


  • The success of 'Super Mario Odyssey' explained

    Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re well aware of “Super Mario Odyssey's” stellar critical reception. Game reviewers far and wide have proclaimed “Odyssey” to be one of the best games of the year - with good reason. We break down some of those reasons in this look at the game's success.


  • Former Ranger, current NFL star appears in new ‘Call of Duty’

    Barracks rooms across the world soon will be filled once more with the sounds of explosions, gunfire and cries of foul play, all indicating that another “Call of Duty” has been released into the wild. A former Army Ranger and current Pittsburgh Steeler will make an appearance in this year's "Call of Duty: WWII."


  • 'Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus' features riveting action, too many cutscenes

    It’s a strange world that we live in when a first-person shooter that features robot dogs and military bases on Venus can be relevant to today’s political landscape. Yet, the marketing for “Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus,” which featured heavily riffs on modern-day political slogans, managed to make a 35-year old game series a political touchstone among the gaming community in 2017.


  • The scares within 'The Evil Within 2' makes this a must-buy for horror fans

    The first “Evil Within” was a breath of fresh air, a truly scary, unsettling game among a sea of dull, gory action titles. The major question I had coming into “The Evil Within 2” was this: now that true horror games seem to be released monthly, would the series still hold up?


  • Orchestrate a campaign of conquest in challenging ‘Middle-earth: Shadow of War’

    Anyone familiar with “The Lord of the Rings” knows that fighting orcs is hard work, but somebody’s got to do it or the Dark Lord wins. “Middle-earth: Shadow of War” lets you take up a sword and bow to join the battle against Sauron. And it’s definitely hard work.


  • Review: South Park takes on superhero setting in 'The Fractured But Whole'

    For more than 20 years now, “South Park” has delighted fans, annoyed its detractors and – at times – outraged both in equal measure. That same combination of clever writing and childlike wonder made “South Park: The Stick of Truth” not only a fantastic South Park game, but an enjoyable experience for nonfans. The recently released follow-up, “The Fractured But Whole,” deviates from the original game in small ways, but keeps most of what worked there intact.


  • ‘Cuphead’ brings pain, gaming bliss in equal measure

    “Cuphead” is a special game that will make players want to put their controller through the wall one minute, and want to pick up the sticks and get back to it the next.


  • REVIEW

    SNES Classic packs a lot of nostalgia, gaming history in small package

    In just a couple of days, Nintendo will unleash its Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic console on a very suspecting world. This follow-up to last year’s massively sought-after NES Classic is already selling out through pre-orders from vendors across the world.


  • 'Divinity: Original Sin II' delivers where original didn't

    I have a bit of a confession to make. I didn’t enjoy "Divinity: Original Sin." That being said, the recently released “Original Sin 2” takes everything great about the original and improves it, while cutting back on the annoyances that weighed down the original.


  • ‘Destiny 2’ improves upon original in nearly every way

    Almost everything about the original “Destiny” has been overhauled, or at least enhanced to place the focus on action.


  • Unique combat, beautifully-realized world in ‘Absolver’

    Some combinations seem so intrinsic to our lives that it catches the mind off guard when we realize somebody had to have invented them. Peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. Flowers and chocolate. That realization hit me while playing Sloclap’s fantasy martial arts title “Absolver.”


  • REVIEW

    Colorful cast of character anchors explosive action in ‘Agents of Mayhem’

    Deep Silver Volition, the company behind the recently-released “Agents of Mayhem,” has an interesting track record when it comes to its most famous intellectual property. “Saints Row” began as a “Grand Theft Auto” clone that copied more than it created.


  • Balance issues bring down ‘Sudden Strike 4’

    There are two different games to be found in “Sudden Strike 4.” One that was that balanced for engaging gameplay and another that was designed with little to no thought toward player enjoyment.


  • Bloody mess, boredom to be found in ‘Redeemer’

    It has been a long while since gamers have had a truly fantastic brawler to play. It'll be a while longer, still.


  • REVIEW

    ‘Hey Pikmin’ a charming puzzler that lacks challenge, surprises

    “Hey Pikmin” is the first handheld version of the groundbreaking Nintendo series born from legendary gamesmith Shigeru Miyamoto’s love of gardening.The series’ trademark warmth and laid-back approach to gaming has remained intact. What has changed, though, is the core gameplay and, to some extent, its universal appeal.

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