標籤彙整:遊戲

3 SCARY GAMES #30

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Fortnite’s Map Blows Up And Entire Game Gets Sucked Into A Black Hole

Epic Games is no stranger to using viral events to promote the next season of its popular game Fortnite, but the newest way of hinting at what’s next puts the strange purple cube from last year to shame. 

This morning, rockets flew through the map, then converged with a meteor to destroy the game’s world. The event sent every player skyward, then a black hole appeared, consuming the entire game. Now, when you attempt to play Fortnite, you cannot access Save the World or Creative, but when you select Battle Royale from the menu, it tells you a technical error has occurred before the menu is sucked into the same black hole that consumed players earlier today.

You can check out what happened just before the emergence of the black hole through a clip from popular streamer Dr. Lupo.

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Once at the black hole screen, you have one option: exit. However, many players have opted to watch the black hole for clues. Every once in a while, the lighting of the screen changes to reveal numbers, but not much else is happening. If you get bored while watching, you can enter the Konami code to unlock an elementary top-down space shooter arcade minigame.

In addition to taking the game offline for now, the Fortnite Twitter account has also deleted all of its tweets aside from its most recent, which is just a livestream of the current game state. As of this writing, the official Fortnite account has over 100,000 viewers as the community attempts to find out what’s next. Additionally, throughout the day, Fortnite has been a top trending topic on Twitter.

You can monitor the current state of Fortnite by checking out its Twitch account below.

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BLAIR WITCH Part 6 — (ending)

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How Two Developers Made A Living With Awful Games

Mobile games were supposed to be an indie developer nirvana. When the iPhone debuted in 2007, Apple pitched consumers on the promise of an endless stream of tiny creative games and other productivity applications. Indie developers immediately recognized the market’s potential: A small team of developers could release their experimental projects to millions of users at a low price and reap large rewards. Early mobile hits like Words with Friends, Fruit Ninja, and Temple Run seemed to confirm this notion, and those titles helped their developers amass significant nest eggs.

Then the gold rush happened, and the mobile market metastasized into something ugly. App stores overflowed with ad-driven, free-to-play games that catered to the lowest common denominator. Mobile game development became financially unsustainable for many. In the midst of this mobile “indiepocalypse,” two friends found success in an unlikely place. Their secret: Make a thousand bad games.

Ziba Scott and Alex Schwartz at a GDC party in 2013, around the time they came up with the idea for Slots

THE BROKEN DREAMS OF GAME DEVELOPERS

In 2013, Alex Schwartz and Ziba Scott joined a shared workspace co-op in Boston while independently pursuing careers in game development. Both designers had shifted to the mobile space with the dream of making their big break in the industry. After their first meeting, they quickly bonded over the struggle to realize that dream.

Schwartz had attended college for game design before landing a job at Seven45 Studios working on a failed Rock Band clone called Power Gig: Rise of the SixString. After its release, Schwartz set off on his own and formed Owlchemy Labs, the indie studio that released the racing smuggler game Snuggle Truck as well as the early VR standout Job Simulator.

Scott, on the other hand, worked for seven years as a Linux consultant and web developer when he decided that making games was more fulfilling. After earning a master’s degree in serious game design from Michigan State University, Scott secured a publishing deal with Adult Swim Games for his puzzle game Girls like Robots. By the time Schwartz and Scott met, they had both signed contracts with big publishers and released creative indie titles to favorable reviews. And yet, both designers still struggled to make ends meet.

“We always felt like if we could do something that was creatively fulfilling, and we made enough money on game number one to fund game number two, then that was top-tier success,” Schwartz says. “We played the multiplatform hustle, where if you make something in Unity you can put it anywhere, and it wasn’t working. The dream wasn’t ‘Oh man, I hope we can be kings of mobile.’ We were just chasing platforms, and we were watching the concept that people would spend three dollars on a premium mobile game nosedive super hard.”

We played the multiplatform hustle, where if you make something in Unity you can put it anywhere, and it wasn’t working…”

“It was 2013 when it became clear that that premium mobile market was dying,” Scott adds. “It was becoming a strange beast. Even now, you can’t follow the successes from two years ago. You can’t follow those rules because the industry is constantly changing. That was something we were learning. I think both of us felt like we were a year or two too late to release a three-dollar game or even a five-dollar game on iOS that would even make its money back.”

Half a decade after the release of the iPhone, the mobile market was awash with clones, reskins, and other low-effort shovelware. In some cases, the clones were actually making more money than the originals, which famously happened to number-based puzzle game Threes in 2014. Schwartz and Scott felt that it was nearly impossible for the average game developer to get noticed without a million-dollar marketing budget. As young indie developers struggling to pay the rent, Schwartz and Scott were growing disillusioned.

Then they had a crazy idea. If the system had stopped working for them, maybe they could just work the system.

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QUANTITY OVER QUALITY

Every January, MIT helps host the Global Game Jam, the world’s largest game jam, which takes place at multiple locations around the world. While teams of programmers and artists beat their heads trying to come up with one “perfect idea,” Schwartz and Scott giggled in a corner and asked themselves, “How can we do worse?”

The two developers had often joked about how they could reskin and clone their own games and flood the mobile marketplace. Now they were ready to actually do it. But first, they needed to make a game that was incredibly simple and easy to clone. Schwartz and Scott never intended to spend a lot of time or effort on a project like this. Cutting corners was not only encouraged, it was a mantra. Ultimately, the designers decided that they didn’t even need to make the game themselves – they could just download and repackage some prebuilt program off the Unity Asset Store. Reskinning and cloning a game they hadn’t even made felt like one gigantic corner to cut. It was perfect. Schwartz and Scott hopped online and bought a slot-machine game for $14.99. The duo didn’t know it yet, but they would eventually see a massive return on that investment.

“Slot-machine games seemed like the perfect fit, because they have such a low barrier to entry,” Scott says. “There aren’t many games simpler than pressing a button that says good or bad. You can hardly abstract the concept of a game any further -than -that.”
“Slot-machines are the one world where there is already an entire industry built around reskins, and no one gives a s—,” Schwartz adds. “Walking through Vegas, you see hundreds of different slot-machines. You walk past Cleopatra slots and then Wheel of Fortune slots, there are even Fruit Ninja slots. It’s such a weird world that we didn’t understand, but we knew that humans seem drawn to them in some way.”

Once Schwartz and Scott had a working game, they set to work making copies. They added new background images, in-game “about” descriptions, and a custom theme song. Their slot games were of admittedly low quality, but they had taken less than an afternoon to cobble together. Future clones would take only a fraction of that time.

Scott wrote a Unity editor script that automatically grabbed images off the web, swiped an about blurb from Wikipedia, and then used a text-to-speech program to generate new lyrics to their electronic theme song. At this point, all Schwartz and Scott had to do was type a theme into their Unity editor and the program would spit out a new slot-machine. Before long, they had dozens of slot games with titles as absurd as Lobster Slots, Richard III Slots, and Harlem Shake Slots.

The designers then took the hundred-plus games they had made and published them onto the Google Play store. They marveled at the fact that a few people actually downloaded them and laughed over the smattering of bad reviews. At this point, Schwartz and Scott’s silly experiment seemed like a success. They didn’t know what it proved, but releasing a glut of low-quality games onto Google’s marketplace felt like a snarky middle finger to the industry and its rising tide of low-quality content that was drowning out premium mobile products dedicated developers had poured their blood, sweat, and tears into. Their curiosity satisfied, Schwartz and Scott walked away and forgot about their little experiment.

Over the next several months, while quietly unobserved, their games continued to accrue downloads.

DOUBLING DOWN

After the Christmas break of 2013, Schwartz and Scott returned to check up on their slot-machine experiment. They were startled by their discovery. All of Schwartz and Scott’s games were free to download, but like most free games, these slot games featured integrated advertising. It was almost a joke. One of the most annoying aspects of the mobile market were the “gacha” free-to-play games that roped players into watching one ad after another for another spin at the wheel. Schwartz and Scott were trying to mock those types of games; they hardly expected to make money on the ads in their own crappy games.

“A lot of times app stores have a bump over the holidays and we wondered what happened,” Schwartz says. “We saw that our downloads had gone way up, but then we checked our ad network backend and saw that in January and throughout the holidays we were making over $200 a day.”

“It’s hard not to look at a few hundred bucks a day that took no work and not draw a line from $200 to millions twinkling in our eyes somewhere,” Scott says.

Schwartz and Scott didn’t need any more encouragement to fire up their automated workshop again. But this time, they were ready to take things to the next level, so they incorporated under the name Signal to Noise. The pair even came up with a cutesy tagline, “We are the noise.”

Making slot games was a snap, but there were a few speed bumps to Schwartz and Scott’s automated system. It took several minutes to fill out all the forms to submit a game for publishing on Google’s App store, and the pair still had to sit down and brainstorm new themes for future slot games. Sure, typing in a new theme took seconds, but they felt that even this process could be automated.

To solve the first problem of submitting games for publishing, Scott used a web-automation tool that played back browser-based interactions. This allowed him to record the inputs for filling out the developer agreements needed to submit a game to Google’s Play Store. To solve the second problem of generating ideas, Schwartz and Scott had Google Trends feed their system relevant news and celebrity gossip, which resulted in games likes Deer Antler Spray Slots and John Boehner Slots. Next, they downloaded massive lists of words and coded a formula that took random adjectives and paired them with random nouns. This program spit out a stream of nonsensical slot-machine ideas like Stupid Pumpkin Slots, Tremendous Face Pain Slots, and Inexperienced Great Horned Owl Slots. “We had reduced the gap between conceiving a game to publishing it to market to typing a single word and hitting enter,” Scott says.

After a few months of tinkering, Schwartz and Scott had developed an automated system that could be accessed via Wi-Fi from any country in the world. They had visions of sipping drinks on the beach while periodically checking in on their slot-machine empire. The duo nicknamed their system The Goose, as in the fabled bird that laid golden eggs. Before long, The Goose was churning out and publishing games at an insane clip. In fact, Schwartz and Scott were amassing more games than they could ever publish; Google actually restricts developers from publishing more than 15 games a day. But even with this artificial restriction, after its first year Signal to Noise had already submitted nearly 750 games to the Google Play Store. Most games only got a few hundred to a thousand downloads, but even the least successful slot-machines contributed to Signal to Noises’ overall downloads, and ultimately ad impressions.

We had reduced the gap between conceiving a game to publishing it to market to typing a single word and hitting enter,” Scott says.

“One month, we looked at the drip income of Owlchemy’s entire portfolio,” Schwartz says. “I remember that Slots, this low-effort garbage pile, was somehow bringing in more money than the past four years of my creative endeavors. That was a real laugh-while-crying kinda moment. I went, ‘What the f— are we doing with our lives if this joke has started to supersede true effort?’ … I almost didn’t want it to make money, because it proved that it’s more effort to make games the right way. There was a feeling of it shouldn’t be this easy, because it proves that, as a society, people are not as discerning with quality as we had hoped.”

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WALKING AWAY FROM A WINNING HAND

On a good month, Schwartz and Scott wouldn’t even interact with The Goose and they could watch the ad revenue roll in. But eventually, The Goose always needed attention. Schwartz and Scott had built a fragile scaffolding with several points of failure. Their entire automated system relied on over a dozen different online services, from Google to Wikipedia to small web-based freeware. When Google Images caused problems for their automated system, they had to switch over to Bing’s image search. When Google Play required game submissions to include high-res images, they had to update their photo capture system. When Unity changed its privacy policy, a country altered its laws on gambling apps, or a checkbox on Google’s publishing forms shifted even 10 pixels to the left, The Goose would grind to a halt and the system had to be updated. Fixing these problems was rarely complicated, but The Goose needed the-occasional greasing.

The bigger issue was that Signal to Noise had started as a joke, but it had grown into something larger – something unfulfilling. “I was constantly torn between pride and amusement and a sense that I should be doing something else,” Scott says.
“There was a joke here, where if the mobile market was more sustainable for premium content, then we wouldn’t have had to lower ourselves to following through on this joke idea,” Schwartz adds.

When Google started to implement systems that made it difficult for cloners like Signal to Noise, Schwartz and Scott ultimately decided to walk away from their project. On March 19, 2017, after more than four years, 1,500 slot-machine games, and over 1.6 million downloads, Signal to Noise published its last game: 3D Astronomer Slots – Free.

To be clear, Schwartz and Scott didn’t shut down their automated system, they just stopped updating it and let The Goose die a slow death. They left the keys in the car and let it slowly roll into a ditch. Surprisingly, The Goose lived far longer than either Schwartz or Scott had expected. Today, Signal to Noise’s entire portfolio of games has been suspended by Google for failure to keep up with the latest updates. Even so, as of this printing, Schwartz and Scott are still scraping in a small amount of ad revenue from users who occasionally fire up the apps still lingering on their phones.

BIG PAYOUT

Fortunately, these days, Schwartz and Scott don’t have to play the slot game to make money, and both developers have found some of the indie development success they yearned for. In 2016, Scott used Fig to successfully crowdfund Make Sail, a physics-based construction adventure, and the game is currently in early access. Meanwhile, in 2017, Schwartz’s company Owlchemy Labs was purchased by Google, and Schwartz has spun off once again to form another, currently unnamed, indie game company.

Both Schwartz and Scott say Google has made it more difficult for developers to flood the market with the types of automated clones that they released, but that doesn’t mean the mobile market has become more friendly to developers, or users for that matter. App stores are still brimming with clones and ad-driven shovelware that make it hard for premium titles to be discovered. This problem isn’t localized to the mobile space, either. As online stores like Steam continue to open up and make it easier for anyone with a computer to publish software to the platform, developers will continue to find ways to exploit those systems.

“It’s interesting how this experiment tied into my ideas on curation,” Schwartz says. “This is the logical outcome to a completely open, uncurated platform. Quality goes down, people think of various schemes to flood the market, and consumers are left with a low-quality experience overall. I feel very passionately that consumers should have a curated experience. So this was us jumping over the tiniest of tiny fences to go muck around in an open ecosystem to show people how bad things are, and how bad they can be.”

If Schwartz is to be believed, then maybe the problem isn’t with the kinds of developers who churn out endless clones and other low quality software. And the problem might not be the consumers who find themselves lost in a sea of likeminded apps that constantly demand their eyeballs. The problem is likely the systems platform holders have built that allow for this level of exploitation. Some developers are trying to stem this tide. Valve has taken a player-driven approach to discoverability, allowing user reviews and trends to drive many of Steam’s algorithms, but as more new games flood the market, developers continue to complain about getting lost in the sea. Online stores are full of garbage, but who’s cleaning up the trash?

This was us jumping over the tiniest of tiny fences to go muck around in an open ecosystem to show people how bad things are…”

If anything, experiments like Signal to Noise expose the inefficacies of our current online markets, and offer a peek into one potential future where automation spirals out of control.

Today, the internet is crawling with automated bots that do everything from sending emails to leaving consumer reviews to responding to Twitter comments. It’s easy to get lost in the cacophony. Tomorrow, bots are already learning how to make, publish, and even promote games. What happens next is still up to us.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Game Informer.

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GI Show – PlayStation 5 News, John Wick Hex, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep

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Welcome back to The Game Informer Show! On this week’s show, we talk about Wired’s big reveal of even more information on the PlayStation 5. Then we unpack our full thoughts on Indivisible, John Wick Hex, and What the Golf. After some wonderful community emails, we dive in deep on Bungie’s Destiny 2: Shadowkeep with Andy McNamara, Matt Miller, and Dan Tack.

You can watch the video above, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Playlisten on SoundCloudstream it on Spotify, or download the MP3 at the bottom of the page. Also, be sure to send your questions to podcast@gameinformer.com for a chance to have them answered on the show.

Our thanks to the talented Super Marcato Bros. for The Game Informer Show’s intro song. You can hear more of their original tunes and awesome video game music podcast at their website.

To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below.

2:25 – Ghost Recon Breakpoint
4:30 – PlayStation 5 news
20:00 – Indivisible
30:55 – John Wick Hex
36:15 – What the Golf?
38:00 – Untitled Goose Game
40:40 – Community emails
1:43:40 – Destiny 2: Shadowkeep

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BIGFOOT… UP CLOSE and PERSONAL

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Rockstar Reveals Additions To Red Dead Redemption II For PC

Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Games
Release:

(PlayStation 4,
Xbox One),
(PC)
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Despite releasing last year, Red Dead Redemption II has been in the news a lot lately, with new content in Red Dead Online and the announcement of a PC version scheduled to launch on November 5. On that latter point, Rockstar today revealed more information about what is going to be different about PC version compared to its console counterparts.

Gamers can obviously expect some graphical improvements that take full advantage of the hardware, like increased draw distances, improved lighting, and better textures. But beyond that, the PC version will also have new content that wasn’t in the previous release. That includes brand-new horses (and new variations of existing horses), three bounty hunter missions, two additional gang hideouts,  two new treasure maps, and extra weapons for the story mode (some of which are already in Red Dead Online), and more.

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Players who pre-purchase the game via the Rockstar Games Launcher (until October 22) also get a bevy of other goodies, like a free upgrade to the premium edition, bonus cash for story mode and online, and a war horse for single-player. As another incentive, this deal also includes two free Rockstar PC games (selected from: Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Bully: Scholarship Edition, L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition, and Max Payne 3: The Complete Edition). You can get all the details at the official site.

You probably knew this already, but the original console release of Red Dead Redemption II was excellent (we gave it a 10), and these improvements may give everyone a reason to jump back in with the new version.

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The Division 2’s Largest Content Update Is Set To Launch October 15

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Washington D.C. is still under siege, and fans of The Division 2 are getting a huge content update sooner rather than later. Ubisoft announced today that the next wave of paid downloadable content for The Division 2 will be launching next week, October 15, for players who’ve purchased the Year 1 Pass.

Title Update 6 includes two new story and Classified Assignments missions, a new character specialization, a player-versus-player mode and multiplayer map, along with other cosmetics and in-game fixes.

The Division 2’s story mission, Pentagon: The Last Castle, centers around the agents’ mission to take back the iconic building from Black Tusk terrorists and stop them from further spreading the lethal outbreak. On top of the story missions, pass holders can also delve into the exclusive Classified Assignments side missions to thwart the attempts of the Outcasts from gaining a greater foothold in the United States Capitol.

Each piece of new content provides the perfect playground for players to test out the new Technician Specialization, which comes fully equipped with EMP Grenades, a new skill variant, the Maxim 9 sidearm, and the P-017 Launcher, which targets up to six enemies before blowing them away with a devastating missile barrage.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news for Division 2 fans, as it was also announced that the game’s second raid would be delayed, giving developers more time to polish the endgame event. As of now, Ubisoft has yet to announce when the raid will become available other than to say it’s coming in 2020.

If players are interested in the new content but don’t have the Year 1 Pass, fear not, as each piece of content will become available to everyone (outside of the Classified Assignments) a week later on October 22. And for players who haven’t yet picked up the game, Ubisoft also announced that it is hosting a free-to-play weekend across all platforms later this month, along with a sale of the game.

[Source: Ubisoft]

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John Wick Hex Review – A Slow-Motion Ballet Of Blood

Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Developer: Mike Bithell Games
Release:
Rating: Mature
Reviewed on: Mac
Also on:
PC

John Wick walks into the room. Like a clockwork automaton, his movements are precise. His eyes effortlessly scan for danger. The gun in his hand snaps forward like the head of a serpent, spitting bullets like venom. Even more than most action heroes, John Wick exudes stone-cold confidence, and Bithell Games’ strategy adaptation perfectly captures that style. I’ve rarely felt like such a capable assassin than while playing John Wick Hex. Even after a few repetitive encounters and an aggressive enemy A.I. tried to cut my ego back down to size, they couldn’t diminish the overall high I felt playing Hex.

The John Wick franchise is all about speed and nonstop action, so Hex’s choice to distill battles down to one-second chunks seems a bit odd. Fortunately, it works. In Hex, you navigate John Wick through a series of seedy underbellies as he takes down a seemingly endless stream of mob thugs. Each time a new enemy enters Wick’s field of view, the action stops and you have the opportunity to issue a new command. John Wick isn’t a turned-based strategy game, but it offers some of that slow-paced, contemplative action. Yet magically, these slow-mo firefights feel as tense and hyperkinetic as a real-time shooter.

Most of my time with Hex was spent calculating the length of time it took for John Wick to complete each order. Firing a pistol takes a full 1.5 seconds, while shoving a nearby enemy takes 1.3 seconds, and parrying an attack takes only .5 seconds. Those time difference might sound relatively insignificant, but the difference between life and death is measured in nanoseconds. Some weapons also take longer to fire than others; lining up a shot with a shotgun consumes more time than the standard pistol, but it does significantly more damage. Fortunately, Hex does a fantastic job laying out the timeline for upcoming attacks, and I always knew what my foes were planning and how much time I had to retaliate. Wick is almost always faster than his enemies, but when three goons burst through a door, managing enemy timelines becomes an exciting juggling act.

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I regularly felt outmanned and outgunned, but overcoming the odds feels amazing. In the span of only a few seconds I could parry one attack, then – while one foe was stunned – initiate a grappling takedown of another enemy, which would place me behind cover and allow Wick to narrowly avoiding incoming gunfire. Finding a few seconds to squeeze off your own attack is often harrowing, but stepping over a room full of fallen foes is incredibly satisfying.

Some of Wick’s best attacks and defensive moves cost focus. For example, the dodge roll makes Wick incredibly hard to hit and allows him to quickly traverse the length of a room. Every time I ran out of focus mid-battle, I felt handicapped; much like reloading, finding time to replenish Wick’s focus is tricky, but this adds a welcome wrinkle to the strategy.

Wick begins the game as a highly capable assassin, which means he doesn’t have much room to grow. The tactics and strategies I used at the end of the game were the same ones I learned during the opening levels. Before each mission, you have the opportunity to purchase upgrades that improve your hit percentages or lower the focus cost for some moves, but these are temporary buffs and I often found it more useful to spend my coins on extra bandages and weapons instead.

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Most of the challenge in the later levels comes from throwing more thugs your way or introducing more resilient enemies. When I did get overwhelmed, I was forced to start each level over from the beginning. Fortunately, these levels are relatively short, but I was frustrated to have to play through a level’s early encounters repeatedly when I kept getting hung up near the end.

The narrative doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Hex is set in a period before the films, when John Wick still works for The High Table and recounts a mission where he must hunt down and kill the lieutenants of a villain named Hex. This plot largely serves only to introduce a number of marks for John Wick to hunt down, and doesn’t contribute much to the franchise’s wider lore.

Despite those frustrations, I continually returned to John Wick Hex because the core mechanics are incredibly tight. Thanks to Hex’s clever time management systems I always felt one step ahead of my enemies and capable of constructing the kinds of sophisticated close-quarters gunfights that make the films so exciting. John Wick Hex might hit the same note over and over again, but it’s one incredible note.

Score: 8

Summary: A few repetitive encounters and aggressive A.I. don’t diminish the overall highs Hex offers.

Concept: Slow down John Wick’s hyper-violent gunfights to create a series of tense strategic encounters

Graphics: This dark, comic book aesthetic fits the tone of the universe. Sadly, a few jerky animations don’t do this hitman justice

Sound: Actors Ian McShane and Lance Reddick reprise their characters from the films, which adds some authenticity to the experience. John Wick is played as a silent hero, so no Keanu Reeves

Playability: Hex expertly breaks down John Wick-style fights into a series of puzzle-like encounters, but your combat options don’t expand much over the course of the game

Entertainment: At its best, John Wick Hex makes you feel like a trained assassin, but those moments are interrupted by strings of repetitive action

Replay: Moderate

Click to Purchase

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Game Freak Explains Everything About Scorbunny From Pokémon Sword And Shield

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We’re continuing to roll out exclusive content throughout the month for Pokémon Sword and Shield, and today’s feature is all about the new fire starter Scorbunny. While visiting Game Freak, we sat down with the game’s director Shigeru Ohmori, producer Junichi Masuda, and art director James Turner to learn who’s the right trainer for a Pokémon like Scorbunny and why there are bandaids on its face. In case you missed it, yesterday we debuted a video focusing on Grookey and on Wednesday we’ll be airing one on Sobble.

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