Music is condemned to play a bit role in most platformers: no matter how good the composer is, and no matter how moving the score, this entire element of a game’s development can often be tuned out with little to no impact on the gameplay. Not so with Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians. Here is a game where the music plays as key a role as the avatar onscreen–where nodding your head to the beat can help you float through Beatbuddy’s mix of adventure and puzzle solving more easily. It’s a strong and unusual concept, although the focus on following the beat bears unexpected consequences for the longevity of the puzzle-based gameplay.
Payday 2 may look a little like its Left 4 Dead-inspired predecessor when viewed from afar, but there’s a pleasingly improved if familiar experience waiting under the franchise’s new mask. Before, we were working with rookies who approached every heist with guns blazing. Now, we now have the opportunity to work as experience-hardened masterminds who value stealth over cocky presumption. A few concerns remain, but on this whole this satisfying sequel stands poised to steal away hours of your time.
Dragons, real-time strategy, and political simulation? Under different circumstances, Divinity: Dragon Commander could have been pitched as the game version of Aegon’s Conquest from A Song of Ice and Fire, and with minimal changes to to boot. Ditch the steampunk aesthetic, ground the airships to the water, and trade some of those turrets for catapults, and we’re there.
EverQuest Next may have dazzled us with promises of a destructible fantasy world and parkour-trained heroes during the MMORPG’s recent unveiling, but once you ventured beyond the carefully prepared videos and statements, you ran into a near-unassailable wall of evasive answers. Key features such as PvP and group-based combat remain cloaked in secrecy, as does that all-important ingredient to an MMO’s well-being: social interaction. Regardless, based on little slips I heard throughout the weekend and in my own chats with the developers, I was able to scrounge up a rudimentary understanding of what awaits those of us who still play MMORPGs to meet and interact with new people.
On the screen, a lumbering Kerran warrior slashed his way through foes in a whirlwind of blades, while by his side, a mage teleported a few yards forward to keep up with him. So far, I thought, so familiar. Impressive though the models were, their flashy variations on familiar MMO attacks left me ready to dismiss EverQuest Next as a visually appealing but by-the-books MMORPG. And that’s when something wonderful happened. The mage unleashed a spell that shattered a small land bridge behind her, killing some pursuing enemies and cutting off the rest. The duo then faced a massive golem, whose special attack hit the ground so heavily that it shattered thin ground and dropped them a massive cavern below. My mouth dropped. Unwilling, skeptical, I nevertheless mouthed the words to myself, “This changes everything.”
R.I.P.D., much like the movie of the same name, is about the afterlife, and thus it’s appropriate that playing it is like suffering through a little version of hell. That’s not so much because the world around us turns out to be packed with criminals playing hooky from facing their divine retribution (though there is that), but rather because it’s so tedious and unsatisfying to bring them to justice. With its humdrum gameplay and severely flawed mechanics, R.I.P.D. is a mess of cooperative shooter.
Final? Square Enix doesn’t know the meaning of the word. That’s apparent enough from the avalanche of Final Fantasy games we’ve seen since 1987, but it’s especially true of its approach to its last MMORPG. By all accounts–including Square Enix’s–2010′s Final Fantasy XIV was an abomination, a shameful excuse for an MMORPG that couldn’t even pull off the simplest kill-and-fetch quest without tripping over itself. And so I tiptoed into this “reborn” incarnation of Eorzea with caution, fully expecting the world to crumble around me pixel by pixel. That didn’t happen. Against all odds, it was good, and I found myself reluctant to leave when the closed beta breathed its last. But was it enough to justify such a Herculean effort? I’m cautiously optimistic.