PlayStation

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In a world where Japanese publishers have finally started to embrace global simultaneous releases, and there's no longer much stress over whether we'll see niche role-playing games come to the West, one series remains woefully behind: Trails, also known as Kiseki, also known as the best JRPG series out there.

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There are some good games in January's PlayStation Plus lineup. In addition to some solid PS4 games with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Telltale's Batman, the PS3 gets The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, and the Vita gets Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness. As always, these games are only "free" if you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription.

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In late 2013, veteran Bungie composer Marty O'Donnell finished Music of the Spheres, an eight-part musical work designed to be released alongside Destiny. It never came out. But today, thanks to an anonymous leaker, the elusive work is finally on the internet -- at least until the copyright strikes hit.

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From Tales to Dragon Quest to a brand flippin' new Persona, this has been a stellar year for Japanese role-playing games. We've come a long way from the dark days of, like, 2012.

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In 2012, as work on Mass Effect 3 came to a close, a small group of top BioWare employees huddled to talk about the next entry in their epic sci-fi franchise. Their goal, they decided, was to make a game about exploration -- one that would dig into the untapped potential of the first three games. Instead of visiting just a few planets, they said, what if you could explore hundreds?

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In the five years since we last saw a mainline Soulcalibur title released, no competitor has really stepped up to fill the game's specific niche. Focused on armour and weapons, the Soulcalibur games have always had a unique combat range, pacing, and impact speed built around various weapon styles.

I played Soulcalibur VI for around an hour at a press event last week and, while the demo was very limited, there was enough to show that the fundamentals of the series are not being radically changed. This is Soulcalibur as you know it, with some of its systems simplified, and a couple of new features to help turn the tide in a particularly one-sided match.

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Yakuza 0 is one of 2017's sleeper hits, a prequel to the popular crime drama that brought it to a wider audience. While most of the game is about criminal intrigue and martial arts brawls, a surprisingly robust club management mini-game is one of its most entertaining activities.