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If you've played video games, you've encountered a handgun. In the right game, a handgun can be an object of menace or empowerment. But video games often treat them as a starter weapon to be replaced as soon as possible. What makes for a great video game handgun?


Call of Duty has returned to World War II. It wasn't so long ago that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare saved us from drowning in World War II games. Unfortunately, its success meant we spent the next several years drowning in modern military shooters instead, and when we got tired of that, game devs gave us near-future combat, and now, finally, fourteen years after it began, Call of Duty is returning home.


Last spring, Dishonored 2 ripped me right out of my gaming funk. I tore through the game in two days, scouring every square inch of its wonderful setting, Karnaca. Dishonored 2's brilliant self-assurance is compelling; I couldn't stay away. Now, after the release of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, I found myself craving a return to Dishonored 2.


Age of Empires is finally back. After 12 long years, Microsoft has finally decided to resurrect one of gaming's most beloved franchises, and fans are ecstatic. If you're unfamiliar with the series, Age's return might not seem like such a big deal. After all, it isn't like strategy fans are lacking options. Starcraft and Company of Heroes offer a better competitive scene, and Homeworld has a more compelling story. The hype is not simply due to nostalgia. Age of Empires' timeless appeal is thanks to its unique approach to real-time strategy.


I need a break from open-world games. While I've had a blast with Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Ghost Recon: Wildlands, I've been craving something considerably more linear. In a happy coincidence, Electronic Arts's Dead Space 2, one of my favourite games, recently showed up on Xbox One via backward compatibility.


Games have a zombie problem. They can be your basic slow shamblers or your fast berserkers, but whatever variation appears in a game, zombies are little more than mindless pinatas meant to be killed in large numbers. Zombies are rarely a challenge to fight on an intellectual level, and an enemy that doesn't get players thinking isn't an enemy worth fighting. So how do you make zombies interesting? Capcom's Dead Rising 2 offered an interesting solution: Add a timer to the mix.


Innovation is like a game of telephone. Someone creates a message, but as it spreads, it loses its meaning. Lessons that seemed clear back in the first-person shooter's formative years became taken for granted and eventually forgotten. Shooters today are all about weapon limits, level design set pieces and regenerating health. Doom's return in 2016 was like finally hearing those original lessons with startling clarity. Its immaculate design is a defiant reminder of the strength of classic shooter design.


It may be a rare sight today, but a demo is one of the best things an upcoming game can do for its audience. Of course, not all demos are created equal - the best demos generate excitement and set expectations for what's to come, while the worst demos convince us not to buy. What makes a great demo?


By the time Digimon Tamers aired, I was growing out of cartoons, or so I thought. Tamers was an impressive feat for an after-school cartoon, a surprisingly mature, more grounded take on the Digimon series, and that's thanks in a large part to the show's best character: Rika Nonaka.


So there you are, minding your own business, when the CEO of Giant Game Publisher approaches you with an offer: he wants you to lead the development of a brand new entry in That First Person Shooter that he makes, and he wants you to make sure it's fun to play. How do you make sure it's fun to play?


It's no secret that Duke Nukem Forever was not particularly well received. As a self-described snob of first person shooters, I'm certainly not wild about the game. Broken encounters, weak level design, and an inconsistent sense of humour held Duke Nukem Forever back from being a great game. Duke deserves better. Duke Nukem 3D is one of the most important games ever made. So how does someone go about fixing Duke?


Rise of the Tomb Raider is the best action-adventure game of this generation, a game that effortlessly balances great gameplay with puzzles that feel more naturalistic than artificial. As if that weren't enough, the levels are awesome, exploration is a blast, and the game's great at encouraging a sense of completionism. There's just one problem: Lara Croft is boring.


Downloadable-only games have exploded in popularity in the last few years. Gone are the days when retail was the be-all, end-all of video games. Now, some of the coolest, most inventive games are just a few clicks away from being able to play. Still, I can't help but feel like the grass is greener on the other side of the generational fence. I miss last generation's digital games something fierce.


I have an overactive imagination. When I read books, I imagine myself as being in the book's world, as sharing the experience with the characters themselves. Video games are cool because they actually bring that experience to life; with The Witcher, for instance, fans of the books finally got to be the witcher Geralt, hunting down monsters and saving kingdoms. Recently, I've been thinking about what other books might make great video game adaptations, and I have a few ideas.


Most discussion about superhero video games revolves around the same few boring superheroes. People want to be Superman. They want to be Wolverine. They want to be Batman. Everyone wants to be the most popular and least interesting superheroes in comic books. Enough, I say! There's only one superhero we absolutely need to play, and she's Rogue.


You're probably wondering what's taking Valve, a company with nigh-infinite resources, forever to make Half-Life 2: Episode 3. Or you've given up on that and you believe it's going to be called Half-Life 3. The sad truth is that we will never see another Half-Life game from Valve, and for one very good reason: its most important character is dead.


If there is one simple, undeniable fact about anything, it's this: every game idea is improved by putting it in first person. Don't believe me? Cool, that's the point I'm here to prove, and I will do that simply by listing all the times the first person perspective made other, lesser games better.