here, but I’d use these services with severe caution.

Android

Google is coming down hard on any Pokemon Go radar apps that pop up, either voluntarily or because Niantic is having them taken down. Either way, in order to use these apps on your phone, you’ll have to enable Unknown Sources in your settings menu before you can install them.

PokeRadar

poke-radar

PokeRadar sprung up on GitHub and has been actively developed since PokeVision went offline. You can download the .apk and if you’re concerned about security, you can even see the app’s source code.

PokeSensor

pokesensor

PokeSensor functions mostly how PokeVision worked and the best part is it’s available on both platforms. The app is pretty well designed and seems to be actively maintained as well. You can download the iOS version directly from iTunes, but you’ll have to download the .apk for the Android version from GitHub.

PokeAlert

pokealert

PokeAlert doesn’t just let you track Pokemon on a map, it’ll send you notifications on your Android device to let you know when a Pokemon you want is nearby. Since you probably don’t want your phone buzzing every five minutes to tell you about that rattata, there’s also a Pokemon filter available so you can select only the Pokemon you really want to be notified about.

iOS

PokeRadar

poke-radar-ios

PokeRadar is perhaps the best known iOS Pokemon Tracker because it’s at the top of the lists for iTunes every since Pokemon Go has released. It’s still working and still functioning for iOS users, so give it a download if you’re wanting some help in catching them all on your iPhone.

Go Radar

go-radar

If you don’t like the way PokeRadar functions, Go Radar might be a bit more to your taste. It seems to be better designed and features Pokemon sihlouettes rather than showing their full sprites from the Gameboy games, so the maps are a bit easier to read.

Uncharted 4 title

Since the series’ inception, Uncharted has always had a strong focus on bringing together elements of other games, while adding a bit of its own flavor to them. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End keeps up this formula, but instead of staying toward a linear level design, Naughty Dog borrows heavily from their other popular game: The Last of Us by opening levels up. The success of The Last of Us has changed Uncharted in a colossal way. This isn’t the Uncharted of old, and that’s not a bad thing either. Uncharted 4 is far more open, far more emotional, and far more personal than previous entries.

While inherently a third-person shooter, the Uncharted franchise has always had its fair share of platforming and general adventuring. As the series progressed, Naughty Dog began to open levels up more. With Uncharted 4 turning the series on its head and completely redefining what Uncharted is, this approach is none the more apparent here. Platforming and exploration are at the forefront of Uncharted 4. Gone are the small, corridor-esque levels. Now, players explore open levels, with tons of collectibles ranging from journal entries to the familiar treasures to nab along the way. Combat is now on the backburner, being focused on less, but far more polished than in previous Uncharted entries.

INTRODUCTION

Uncharted 4 - Eating Dinner

Uncharted 4 is a lot more grounded than previous Uncharted games. Nathan Drake is a family man now, with responsibilities, a job, home, and most importantly, bills to pay…I assume. The bottom line is this: the adventures are over and Drake’s left that life behind. In this regard, I found it interesting just how long Naughty Dog chose to expose us to the mundane elements of life, something that too many of us are all too familiar with. Getting to experience just a bit of Drake’s new life helped develop the character, cement his new outlook on life, his actions throughout the game, and the length that he’ll go to save his brother’s skin. Oh right, Drake now has a brother named Sam. This thought-to-be-dead brother is the catalyst that restarts Drake’s dangerous, adventuring life.

Sam is a pretty decent character. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would like him, but as the game progressed, and I got to spend more time with the character, I realized that Troy Baker and Nolan North as Sam and Drake respectively really sold the whole brotherly angle of the game. The way they almost effortlessly pick up where they left off the last time they saw each other made Sam feel more like another piece of the Uncharted family, rather than a whole new character. The jokes Baker and North play off one another made me feel like I was actually interacting with Sam myself, rather than through Nathan Drake.

Uncharted 4 - Villains

 

Sadly, I can’t say the same about the villains. I would love to rave about how great they were and how Uncharted 4 had the best villains in the series, but I can’t. I’ve struggled with articulating just what was wrong with them and it comes down to one thing: Rafe. Rafe is a villain driven by a desire to prove that he’s more than his money, but that’s all he really has going for him. I liked the character because he has a connection to Nate and Sam, but beyond that, there isn’t much else to him. There’s also Rafe’s hired help, Nadine. She’s entirely forgettable. She’s strong, yes, and could possibly hold the game better than Rafe, but alongside Rafe, she’s all-too-forgettable.

You don’t need to play the other Uncharted games to understand the events of this one, but it would help some. Veterans of the series will appreciate the callbacks made to Nate’s other adventures and to a certain degree, why he went into retirement in the first place. You’ll appreciate the game more if you played the other titles, but again those elements are small so it’s not entirely necessary.

GAMEPLAY

Uncharted 4 - Vista

The level design is no longer linear with small paths offered to the player between their travels from point A to point B. Levels in Uncharted 4 are far more open, offering different points of attack and collectibles throughout. If you’ve played The Last of Us, you’ll have a general idea of what to expect. While there’s still a clear path from destination to destination, the opportunities along this path have been broadened tenfold. Players are encouraged to explore the world Naughty Dog has created for the series’ swan song. You’ll want to journey off the beaten path and look at every square inch of this very large world. Some of this exploration is facilitated by the introduction of a new jeep that lets you traverse the sweltering heat of Madagascar. The jeep controls relatively well, although it does tend to slip and slide a lot.

With subtlety playing a key role in Uncharted 4’s design, the battles have been revamped. In fact, a good portion of the first half of the game sees the player go without shooting an actual gun once. This is spent mostly fleshing out Drake’s home life and introducing some of the game’s new mechanics to the player. Mechanics such as the rope swing, targeting, and more dynamic stealth kills.

These new additions make the battles in Uncharted 4 more exciting. The player is given so many options to tackle combat scenarios that thinking is now important in an Uncharted game.

Uncharted 4 - Stealth Kill

Starting with Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog began to edge the player toward a more stealthy approach. Yeah, you could go in guns blazing, but due to the dense amount of enemies, that wasn’t always the best option. In Uncharted 4, stealth is at the forefront of combat, allowing the player to easily use tall grass to get the drop on enemies.

That said, doing so can still be difficult on the harder difficulties. On my first playthrough, I went through the game on hard and found myself struggling to stealth my way through various encounters. My setup was just about perfect: I would grab someone from cover, or lob a grenade one way to divert attention away from me for a quick few kills. However, there was always one unforeseen variable that prevented me from escaping unharmed. Sometimes this would be an enemy I hadn’t seen, while other times, I simply wasn’t quick enough. In moments like this, it wasn’t long before the rest of the crew was on me like white on rice.

Uncharted 4 - Marking

Thankfully, keeping track of enemies is far easier than before. Taking a cue from Metal Gear Solid V’s book, Uncharted 4 allows the player to spot enemies by pressing L3. This places a white marker over the enemy’s head so you’re constantly aware of their position when you’re trying to be Mr. Sneaky Sneaky. The spotting mechanic helps facilitate the “anything goes” approach that Uncharted 4 has going on. Whether you’re being stealthy or trying to be the next Rambo, throwing a tracker above an enemy and keeping an eye on his position can be quite useful in a pinch.

Interestingly enough, one of the things that help drive the “anything goes” approach to Uncharted 4’s combat are the enemy animations and improved AI. In one instance, I was hiding in the bushes, surveying my current situation. I had a few dozen enemies in front of me, so I marked each as I saw them before taking action. When I was ready, I moved to a side of the map and lobbed a grenade far over their heads, enough to act as a distraction. As I thought, the grenade blew up, and everyone turned their attention that way, granting me enough time to rise from my grassy haven and pounce on an enemy. Because I wasn’t paying quite enough attention, I alerted an enemy just behind the guy whose lifeless body I was standing over. As fast as I could, I whirled around and pistol-whipped him in the head, unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough. Before my pistol connected, he had already let out a cry for help, alerting the others who had gone off to check on the noise my grenade had made. At that point, I took an offensive, yet still tactical approach.

Uncharted 4 - stumble

Now, my objective wasn’t solely on survival or stealth, but rather on carefully aiming my shots at key points on the enemies’ bodies. With Uncharted 4, enemies react differently depending on where you shoot them. Sink a few bullets into their legs, for instance, and they’ll stumble back, free arm flailing while they try to train their gun back on your agile body . This small window of opportunity oftentimes gave me a chance to shoot them in the chest and take them out. Enemies might still take a few bullets to the chest to take out, but they’re no longer exactly “bullet sponges.” With a few well-placed bullets, taking out a single enemy isn’t that hard.

That said, combat scenarios where there are a lot of people before you are still challenging, as they should be. Because of this, going in guns blazing might not be the best tactic, even when you’re spotted by someone. Uncharted 4 allows you to de-escalate an encounter if you’re quick enough to break the line of sight between an enemy and yourself by hiding in cover. Sadly, you can’t retreat back into the grass when an encounter begins. In cases like this, you have to wait until enemies can’t find you, then when they go back to patrolling their posts, you can revert to a stealthy approach.

Like the companions in all the other games, Sam will help the player in battle. This means team melee attacks, helping you get out of a choke hold, getting your back sometimes, and so on. The buddy AI is certainly better than before, but just like The Last of Us, the immersion of stealth sections are broken by the AI. There will be parts where you’re sneaking around in the tall grass like a lion stalking its prey, meanwhile, Sam will run around briefly and enemies will pretend like he doesn’t exist.

Something else to note is the amount of combat in Uncharted 4. While yes, it does begin to pick up a bit as you approach the game’s conclusion, it never quite reaches the amount of enemy encounters as previous games. It seems Naughty Dog really thought about this when developing the game. Now that Uncharted is more story focused, combat kind of takes a back seat. You’ll exchange blows with enemies less often, but this direction makes those inevitable firefights far more exhilarating and rewarding.

Speaking of rewarding, I can’t go without mentioning the set pieces. Since Uncharted 2, they’ve undoubtedly been a highlight of the series. They’re back and for the most part, better than before. I say for the most part, because while Uncharted 4 alone has some phenomenal set pieces set in different regions of the world, I don’t think I’d go as far as to claim they’re better than Uncharted 2’s. Still, though, sliding through the mud and picking off enemies on motorcycles or running through a collapsing cave is loads of fun.

Uncharted 4 - Madagascar 2

But enough about the combat, because it’s time to talk about what really makes this Uncharted so special and so unique in the franchise: the world. There’s an actual world to Uncharted 4. Yes, that might seem like a weird statement to make, but just stay with me for one moment. The open levels and less combat allow the player to breathe and spend more time taking in this world, something that by comparison, you didn’t do much in any other Uncharted game. This means, while the path from point A to point B is linear, there are an infinite amount of opportunities to wander off the beaten path and explore the road not taken. This game doesn’t push you to do so, as much as it encourages you to. You’ll want to stop and smell the roses because of how lush and beautiful they are; break off a conversation because of a sneaking suspicion that there might be treasure nearby, or even just sit back and snap a few pictures in photo mode. Everything about Uncharted 4’s varied locales screams time and effort. The sweltering heat of the Madagascar, the breezy cliffsides of Scotland, and the sunny, paradise that’s a cluster of islands are few of the areas in the game. This is an Uncharted game that’s meant to be taken slowly and really combed through, lest you miss something and there’s actually quite a bit you can miss.

Uncharted 4 - Tower

As I just said, you could miss a treasure or a journal entry. These journal entries aren’t pertinent to understanding the story, but they serve as a nice method of fleshing out the game’s narrative by piecing together the history of the events that unfold. I’ll be the first to tell you that I typically don’t enjoy going around, searching for little trinkets in games. They have to be very special for me to take time out of the story or gameplay to go get them and, for me, these journals were special. If you liked Ish’s story in The Last of Us, then you’ll probably want to collect the journal entries here. Additionally, collecting more things and talking to more people as you progress through the game will let you unlock bonuses like filters and cheats to use in future playthroughs or behind-the-scenes character art.

GRAPHICS

Uncharted 4 - Madagascar

Uncharted 4 is the most beautiful Uncharted game yet. The environments are filled with life like whales jumping from the water in the distance to little monkeys in the multiplayer mode, playing around in all the carnage. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I just stopped to smell the metaphorical roses.

Hello Games might be in trouble for using.

Like No Man’s Sky, Spore had a massive hype machine that quickly turned on the game when it didn’t deliver every promise gamers had hoped to see. Now its legacy is one of broken and cutesy dick creatures and disappointed hopes and dreams. It remains to be seen whether No Man’s Sky will end up that way or if it will live up to the hype.

Minecraft

Minecraft is the game responsible for kicking off the survival craze. It’s grown into its own genre and at its core, No Man’s Sky is definitely a survival game. It’s got all the trappings of the original Minecraft formula of being stranded in an unknown world and having to make your own tools and upgrades in order to survive.

No Man’s Sky takes it a step further, as you’re not exploring one world but many. And the technology you’re making doesn’t allow you to build your own base on a tiny planet, but rather explore the cosmos cataloging species like some kind of space Charles Darwin. It’s got its roots in the Minecraft formula, but No Man’s Sky definitely stands on its own.

Diablo

diablo-screenshot

Diablo might seem like an odd choice to say it influenced the direction of No Man’s Sky, but it’s really the game that set the “loot pinata” genre of games going. Blizzard combined the unpredictable nature of random drops with extreme difficulty to get a winning formula with it.

So how does No Man’s Sky benefit? The loot system itself is very reminiscent of how you would upgrade and kit out your characters in Diablo only instead of relying on drops, you’re upgrading by exploring. The more you explore, the more technology you find and the better gear you can make yourself.

Elite:Dangerous

elite-dangerous-space-station

While Elite: Dangerous certainly isn’t the first game of its type, I feel as though the concept of exploration and trading in an open galaxy influenced by events that are happening to make a living galaxy is a pretty big influence on No Man’s Sky. Similarly to it, in Elite: Dangerous you explore a galaxy filled with stars and planets, but unlike it you can’t land on any of the planets.

Starship captains are confined to the blackness of space until the planet exploration module for the game is out, but the ability to pursue your own path in the game makes it worth the wait. You can be a smuggler attempting to deal in illegal goods inside spacestations, or an honest space-trucker just hauling goods. Or maybe the pirate life is for you? Those sorts of decisions await you in No Man’s Sky as well.

Pokemon Snap

pokemon-snap-charizards

Whaaaaaat, how did Pokemon Snap influence No Man’s Sky? Well, it’s probably one of the first games that encourages the player to walk around and snap photos of things you find in its world. For Pokemon Snap, that meant trying to get the perfect picture of your Pokemon.

For No Man’s Sky, you’ll be using your camera to survey species both plant and animal so you can upload your discoveries to the central databse in order to get units. Units are like galactic currency that you’ll need to finance your adventures, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you upload not only your discoveries, but the planets, galaxies, and even waypoints you find.

Borderlands

BL-Gun

While Borderlands and No Man’s Sky both share a space setting, where No Man’s Sky borrows from Borderlands is the extreme customization available to your multi-tool, spaceship, and suit. Borderlands itself borrowed these concepts from Diablo, but they perfected the use of randomly generated loot to create unique guns with so many different attributes, no two rare guns felt the same.

No Man’s Sky borrows on that same concept in the multi-tools you can acquire throughout the galaxy, but it takes it once step further through the technology modules that you can install on your tool in the game. These change everything about it, from making it a mining master to a killing machine. If you have the technology blueprint, you can build any multi-tool your heart desires, so long as you have the slots.

FTL

FTL_4

By now you’ve probably heard a bunch of people on the internet complaining about No Man’s Sky’s lack of story. No doubt if these people played FTL: Faster Than Light they felt the same way. You see, No Man’s Sky uses a very roguelike formula to create a story for yourself. There is no story to be told because this is the story of you, space Charles Darwin, running into aliens in outer space.

How you interact with them and the objects you find on the planets you explore determines the story you make for yourself. Everything is procedurally generated in this game, why wouldn’t the story be, too?

factions in the game for a while now, but Hello Games has been pretty secretive about them. What we do know is that each faction will have its own language and customs, as well as their specialization. Some might be more militaristic than others, while another might be more interested in trading than fighting.

The unique thing about these factions and their languages is that Sean Murray stated in an interview with Polygon that it could take hours and hours of interaction within a faction to learn that race’s language so you can communicate with them.

“I think most players will never become fluent, unless it’s specifically something they’re seeking out.”

2. The gameplay is seamless and contains no loading screens.

nomanssky-space

One of the most captivating things about No Man’s Sky is that it is a galaxy exploration simulator that has no loading screens. When you hop into your spacecraft and blast off through a planet’s atmosphere, there’s no loading screen to wait before you’re popped into space. Everything is seamless and while there have been some pop-in issues on the streams that have been going on over the weekend, the lack of loading screens is truly magical.

1. It’s a single-player game, but there are multiplayer rumors.

When you start the game you’ll be alone in a vast galaxy that can be explored by millions of other players, but the possibility of running into a planet that’s been named by someone else is extremely small.

That being said, we don’t know if there is a multi-player component or not. The official word from Hello Games right now is no, but one of the rumors that’s cropped up around the game ahead of launch is that when you make it to the middle and activate the New Game+ feature of the game, you’ll be able to explore the galaxy in co-op mode. Once again, keep in mind this a HUGE rumor that has not been confirmed by anyone! We won’t know if it’s true until tomorrow.

DLC shitstorm” cost them quite a bit.

“Yes, there was excitement. There was also disappointment – for players and for us. The DLC shitstorm hit full force and washed away people’s enthusiasm, dragging us further and further from that first magical pick-up-and-play experience. We want that magic back and we aim to make it happen.”

Overall, Evolve Stage 2 seems to be doing okay as people are actually playing the game, but only time will tell if the game has staying power with its new free-to-play model and slightly less egregious DLC.

1. Dungeon Keeper

EA decided it would capitalize on the massive nostalgia gamers have for Peter Molyneux’s dungeon keeping simulator and on paper, the format seems like a perfect fit. You build dungeons that are filled with traps and minions that foil unwary adventurers and other never-do-goods who invade your space. There’s some amount of waiting involved in the originals, but EA took it to the extreme.

dungeon-keeper

The game is littered with long waits that make it unplayable if you DON’T purchase the game’s premium currency that is conveniently available for prices ranging from $0.99 all the way to $99.99. And the developers at Mythic had the balls to try and hide this blatant money grab under a cheeky coat of paint with a Keeper that says metaphorically, “Yeah you can actually play the game if you give us money.”

Not only that, in the true spirit of the Keeper who has some questionable ideas about humanity, he calls the suggestion that players should spend more money “polarizing.” The game openly mocks the negative attitude microtransactions have garnered while holding out their fists and demanding payment.

Jim Sterling summed up just how bad the game is in one of his Squirty Play videos.

ABZÛ is basically Journey 2

abzu chirpy

The game drops you into the middle of the ocean. There’s no text to introduce the game’s mysterious story, nor voice to usher you on your journey. The only things present are the wide expanse of blue sea, animals, brief text to introduce controls, and my personal favorite part about the game: Chirpy! Chirpy is a robot who helps you open doors throughout your journey. He doesn’t actually have a name, but since he chirps at you when you press the square button, I just preferred to call him Chirpy.

I like to believe that Chirpy and I had a grand time playing ABZÛ. While we wandered the ocean, we discovered new sea creatures, swam with whales, dolphins, and sharks, and got to ride some too. We also discovered some mysterious plot to the game. That’s another good thing about ABZÛ. The plot isn’t explicitly told to the player. Instead, Giant Squid wants the player to figure it out for themselves. Unless something changes in my final hour with the game, I don’t believe the plot is too complicated. The story is mysterious, but piecing the bits that are given to you is made easy by various hieroglyphics scrawled on the walls of certain caves. Oh and the giant structures laying on the ocean floor. There’s that too.

Abzu area

Going into ABZÛ, I thought controlling my deep-sea diver would be difficult. It’s not. Like modern racing games, basic, forward movement is tied to the DualShock 4’s R2 trigger, while repeatedly tapping the X button will cause the diver to kick their flippers, offering a momentary boost. This mechanic also lets you jump out of the water alone, or with whatever animal you happen to be riding at the time.

Abzu - Dolphin riding

Speaking of which, you can also ride animals. This is handled by holding down the L2 trigger. Once held, if a riding animal is close to the diver, the diver will gravitate toward the animal and take hold of their fin. In this method of transportation, you can maneuver any which way you please, and even jump out of the water like an attraction at Sea World. It’s pretty fun the first few times, but I found that this can’t really replace the default movement since creatures can’t come with you to new areas.

I really only have three gripes with ABZÛ. For one, the game repeats the majestic, on-rails segments a little too much. I’ll be the first to admit there were sections that were more impressive than others, but doing it over and over again made me less excited each time.

Abzu - Swimming Whales

Another one of ABZÛ’s faults are the relatively long loading times. You only load the game when you’re going into a new area. Beyond that, it’s smooth sailing. However, that loading can take anywhere from 20 to 47 seconds. Going from a majestic moment to a black loading screen, especially when you’re trying to figure out what just happened in the story is incredibly frustrating.

The final fault is in ABZÛ’s controls in the late game. All I’ll say is that the game should control one way, but it actually controls another. Otherwise, you’ll have to play the game to find out more.

Abzu - Light

In a lot of ways, ABZÛ feels like it’s trying to be a Journey 2 of sorts. Understandably so since many of the team who worked on Journey now work at developer Giant Squid. From the mysterious story, to the sense of solitude and general walking, it’s obvious that Journey served as an inspiration for the developers. Though it may hit similar plot points, the execution is what makes ABZÛ different enough from Journey to work on it’s own. Anyone who’s played Journey and wants something close needs to play ABZÛ. Even if you don’t have any experience with Journey (which you should) ABZÛ is a title worthy of your money, despite its seemingly short length.

Where Realtime Worlds Went Wrong and it’s a great piece that thoroughly examines this colossal waste of space. Here’s one of the choice tidbits:

I’ve heard people complain that we should have considered the business model for APB much earlier on.  The truth is that we did – we had it figured out years before release – we just decided not to tell anyone, and inadvertently gave gamers the impression it was going to be free to play.  They weren’t too happy when they found out.

Aside from the huge backlash over the pricing model and how poorly the developers handled the community surrounding the game, the real nail in the coffin was the developer’s own workplace politics. Halliwell provides a stark look at how those fighting for a piece of the pie ended up making the whole pie taste like shit.

I once heard one of our fine QA staff being berated for – wait for it – emailing a summary of forum activity around QA.  This guy had gone through every single forum post looking for complaints that might signify bugs, and summarised it in a plan of action for the QA team to investigate further.  Commendable stuff indeed, but here he was, being told that ONLY OUR DEDICATED COMMUNITY TEAM were allowed to summarise forum activity for others (usually in the form of a number from 1-100 representing how favourable forum feedback was that week.  Never found out how they computed that or what we were supposed to do with it.)

What’s the lesson learned from APB? You can’t have a successful MMO without successfully engaging your community.

7. Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever was first announced back in 1998, hot on the heels of Duke Nukem games that were actually successful. It took 3D Realms a whopping 13 years to get this game out to the public and even then, they couldn’t finish it themselves. Gearbox Software acquired the Duke Nukem franchise from 3D Realms and finished the game to publish it in 2011.

The result is a crude game that you can literally feel 13 years of agony playing. I don’t need to say much else about this one, just watch the evolution of trailers from the 13 year development cycle above.

6. Superman 64

Titus Software is responsible for your agony if you’ve ever played Superman 64. If you haven’t, thank the stars that you’ve not been subjected to it, especially if you’re a Superman fan. The game had a great deal of excitement surrounding its release as super hero games were just starting to take off in the concept of gaming’s new 3D-capable consoles.

What was delivered was a game that was plagued with control problems, technical issues, and problems that were so glaringly obvious that even Nintendo tried to fib a bit to disguise how bad the game was since it was an exclusive for their system. A strange green fog often floated around parts of the city that Nintendo tried to explain away as kryptonian fog, but really it was just the developers don’t a half-assed job on their way to raking in the cash on a franchised game.

Because it was pumped out so quickly, Superman 64 didn’t have a relatively huge budget. All the technical issues led to the game being panned by critics and consumers alike and ultimately, it was a huge commercial failure that’s a permanent stain on the Man of Steel’s video game appeal.

5. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

Someone at Sega decided that Sonic needed to be rebooted, so we have the Wii U exclusive Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric as a result. The game wasn’t too incredibly hyped when it launched thanks to the redesigned characters that many disliked. In fact, the characters were so contentious that a long-time Sonic fan and known internet troll ended up assaulting a GameStop employee over the fact that “Sonic’s arms are supposed to be blue!”

While the redesign itself was contentious enough, when the game finally released it was panned for being a glitchfest that’s reminiscent of Sonic 2006 for Xbox 360. Maybe one day Sega will finally get a modern Sonic game right.

4. Lair

Lair debuted in 2007 for the PlayStation 3 and was supposed to have a huge open world in which you could fly around on your dragon and take part in immersive battle scenes. The reality feels a lot like driving a dragon-shaped airplane into a crowd of medieval peasants who don’t even die when you hit them with a fireball.

When the game released it was panned by critics who found the battle sequences repetitive and boring, while many stated that the storyline was predictable. Lair was also supposed to be the first title to support Remote Play between the PlayStation 3 and the PSP, but that feature was only released a year after the game’s launch and barely worked.

The disaster was so bad that Factor 5 the developer was forced to close their US division in 2009 amid lawsuits filed by employees and partners after the studio announced it would declare bankruptcy.

3. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

TombRaider_HL_3

I like to think of this game as Eidos’ very own Jump the Shark moment. While the game itself was passed around between a handful of developers and had several delays before it hit store shelves, it’s hard to see how SOMEONE at Eidos couldn’t identify what a crap game this is just based on that cover art.

It’s like someone at Eidos called a board meeting and said, “Tomb Raider is our most popular franchise! How can we make it more edgy?” And Angel of Darkness was the result. The story was incoherent, the game was plagued with technical problems, and it’s best remembered as a fevered dream rather than a product you can actually play.

2. God of War: Ascension

After three successful single-player God of War games, Sony decided it wanted to capitalize on the multiplayer community by creating a God of War game with a multi-player component tacked on. The result was a lazy story and a half-baked multiplayer system that left many gamers grumbling. This wasn’t the series they remembered.

While no official sales numbers for this game was released, it’s reported that the game only sold 360,000 copies in its first month. Compared to God of War 3 which managed to shift 1.1 million copies in its first month, Ascension is certainly the reason this series is ditching multiplayer.

1. Aliens: Colonial Marines

The problem with Aliens: Colonial Marines is just how much gamers felt lied to after it was released. The E3 demo presented by Gearbox Software for the game showed an atmospheric shooter with tense moments and decidedly horror-stricken gameplay, while what was delivered was much less. This video comparison shows just how bad the demo and the real game differed in quality.

Aliens: Colonial Marines has earned the dubious honor of being the game most misrepresented by its developer. Nobody’s sure what went wrong because Gearbox pointed fingers at the studio they outsourced the game to while that studio pointed fingers back at them. Sega was equally pissed and wondering where all the money they spent on development for the game went because here’s the condition the game released in:

Forbes that he didn’t like the tools and felt like they ruined the spirit of the game.

“Yeah, I don’t really like that. Not a fan.

We have priorities right now but they might find in the future that those things may not work. People are only hurting themselves because it takes some fun out of the game. People are hacking around trying to take data out of our system and that’s against our terms of service.”

That’s funny, because the spirit of the game is about finding Pokemon and Niantic’s in-game tools makes that nearly impossible.

Three Step Bug Now A Feature

A few weeks ago Niantic quietly updated Pokemon Go and it quickly became evident that the primary method of tracking Pokemon in the game was broken in the update. Tracking Pokemon used to be done by using a step gauge. Pokemon that had one step were in your immediate vicinity. Pokemon with two steps would require some walking to track down, and Pokemon with three steps could be in a huge radius anywhere around you.

pokemon-three-step

After that update, all Pokemon appeared on the radar as having three steps. That meant you couldn’t pinpoint the precise location of any Pokemon in your area. This angered a lot of people and so tools were made to help combat the issue. Most of these tools operated by reverse engineering Niantic’s API. They grabbed information about Pokemon for the location specified and would even show you how long a Pokemon would be at a particular location.

While some in the community say this is cheating, when the game’s basic function no longer worked many saw it as a way to continue to enjoy a product that wasn’t functioning right. Except it was, for Niantic.

This past weekend Niantic issued another update for Pokemon Go that knocked a lot of these homebrew trackers offline. Pokevision and other third-party trackers went dark due to changes Niantic made to their API meant these services were being extremely throttled. The sheer amount of people trying to use them meant that no one could.

This update also brought a change to the in-game tracker that was featured, but instead of fixing the three-step bug that has existed at this point in time for several weeks, Niantic removed it completely. Now Pokemon just appear on your radar and you have no means to track them.

While the step system was pretty inaccurate and lacked the laser precision of a service like Pokevision, Niantic’s solution is equally worse. Removing the ability to tell how close a Pokemon is to your relative radius takes all the fun out of playing the game. I find myself not even compelled to walk around and see what pops up because I have no idea what I have the most likely chance of catching. No one wants their afternoon walk to be filled with an afternoon of ratattas.

There’s Pokemon Around Here But Good Luck Finding Them

Our only hope is that Niantic is taking the step system out of the game in order to make it better. They’ve received a lot of criticism about the handling of updates and communication for the app and rightly so. Millions of people all over the world are playing a game that still feels as though it’s in its very early beta stages. We know a worldwide roll-out is a priority, but perhaps Niantic should be trying to keep the players it’s gained on good press instead of squandering them with silence and half-baked updates that remove the reason to play the game entirely.

PopsicArt store on Etsy and if the NES controller isn’t your thing, there’s also pop art of the Nintendo Zapper (not the orange one, sadly) and the original Game Boy. You can buy each one individually or as part of a set.

Dark Souls posters from CrowSmack

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(Disclosure: I’m friends with the artist of these prints on Twitter.)

Gibbs Rainock is an amazing print artist who has done several movie-style prints for bosses in the Dark Souls and Bloodborne games. He’s done a few other games, but if you’re a fan of either of those series you can’t go wrong with the prints found in his store, Crowsmack. They’re all gorgeous and look even better once they’re framed properly. I plan on buying a few of these myself.

Double Exposure Prints

tomb-raider

The DoubleExposureDesign store on Etsy has a unique minimalistic approach to poster design. It takes iconic characters from series and features them in a silhouette, but the silhouette is filled with a unique artistic take on art from the game. Some major game series are represented here including Halo, Tomb Raider, Mass Effect, The Last of Us, Doom, Assassin’s Creed and more.

Mario Silhouette Characters

super-mario-silhouette

These outlines of famous characters from Nintendo’s franchises are whimsical, but they’re also pretty neat-looking. They’d look great in any game room or just over the back of your couch if you’re a huge Nintendo fan. You can pick them up individually from CaptainsPrintShop or get the entire set.

Splash Art Designs

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Watercolor is making a comeback and nothing says that better than these prints from DigitalPrintCharlie. He has tons of prints and several of them feature Nintendo characters like Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, the Mario Bros as a pair, and Mario and Yoshi together. Link is even available if you’re a fan.

But hey, the great thing about this art is it’s super cheap. Most of them are only $2.50 because it’s a download you print yourself and frame. It’s art on the cheap and if game art isn’t your thing, there are tons of pop culture icons there from Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and more.

sega mini console

Mini consoles are fairly popular. I’m sure most of you have seen them at some point while browsing your local supermarket’s game section. They’re the ones that are a little ways away from the current crop of consoles, have an enticing image of popular mascots and pray on kids who shop by box art and box art alone. If you’ve seen those consoles, then you’ve probably seen the Sega Genesis ones made, not by SEGA, but by AtGames.

AtGames manufactures classic consoles that typically emulate a myriad of retro SEGA and Atari games, and in some cases, allow you to use your original carts on the device. At first, the value seems to be spectacular. Take their more recent product, the “Sega Genesis Ultimate Portable Game Player.” AtGames positions the device as a handheld that can play “GREATEST HITS” like Mortal Kombat I, II, and III, in addition to more “Beloved SEGA Genesis Games.” Hell, it even includes an SD card slot, so theoretically, you could grab even more supported ROMs to play on the go.

ATGames back

This sounds like a great device, until you look at the back of the box. They have classics like Vectorman, Sonic the Hedgehog, and even Mr. Balls! Wait, you don’t remember that one? Well, your memory isn’t fading because a good portion of the 80 games included in the device is shovelware with generic games, and generic gameplay. But hey, as long as you can play some of the actual Sega Genesis classics, all is good right? Sure, if you’re not a stickler about authenticity.

As illustrated in this very informative video by SEGAbits, AtGames doesn’t have a particularly good history of emulating games like you remember them. Oftentimes, the controllers aren’t good, the sound quality is rubbish, and video quality is the same.

Let’s look at some reviews, shall we?

…you’ll find the sound is often presented at the wrong hertz (listen to the Sonic the Hedgehog start-up music and any long-time fans will spot the “off-key” music, as it is sometimes called). Sonic himself also doesn’t quite reach the speeds he normally does, though its close. Colors can often be off in areas as well.

Jason Dodge who purchased an AtGames Sega Genesis Classic Game Console gave the device a two-star rating, reprimanding it for poor image quality, sound, and no save feature. Yeah, even games that had save features won’t work.

The sound chip is tuned to the wrong frequency. For those less technically inclined, it means that everything (music and sound effects) play at a lower pitch than normal, like a cassette walkman when the batteries are low. It might play at the right tempo, but the pitch is distinctly lower. For folks that used to own a Genesis, or played the Genesis collections that have come out over the past 10 years, this is very distracting.

And a one-star review from Richard Mayfield who didn’t like the infrared controllers or the sound chip.

If you really must have a device that plays classic SEGA games and you don’t care about quality, then by all means get the AtGames consoles. If you value quality and a product that’s more than likely to work with all of your Sega Genesis games, it’s probably best to grab a Sega Genesis off eBay or Craigslist.

Pittree has put his artistic talent to work to create some of the most drool-worthy mock-ups of Nintendo’s console that we could have imagined. We only hope what Nintendo delivers looks half as good as this. Check it out.

nintendo-nx-mock-up

This was the first concept image he posted and after people went crazy on the NeoGAF forums wanting to see more, he decided to work on the concept a little further. Below is the result of that effort. We really love the homage Pittree has played to the colored SNES buttons of old and it’s something Nintendo could plausibly do as well, considering they did it with the New Nintendo 3DS.

nintendo-nx-mock-up-1

And of course, he couldn’t resist showing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild running on the concept. It truly does look interesting.

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What do you think? Do you like these concepts? Let us know by voting in the poll below!


PS4 Firmware Update

Yesterday morning, Sony announced the beta for PS4 firmware 4.0. The beta begins in August with an expected launch later this fall. With a new firmware means new features (twice a year), so we decided to cook up a list of what we hope to see in the PlayStation 4’s newest update.

1. Folders

PS3 Folders

Being able to sort through the your own library is great, but for some that isn’t enough. Some people, like me, might want to organize games in very specific ways like by publisher, developer, reviewed, and so on and so forth. Giving users the ability to organize their collection of games how they see fit would at least circumvent the need to venture into their cluttered library. Speaking of that cluttered library…

2. Hiding items in the library

PS4 library

As much as I appreciate being able to look at some of the old betas and alphas I’ve participated in since I got my PlayStation 4, there comes a time when that content loses its value. Instead of being nostalgic reminders of good times, they’re roadblocks that I have to get by on my destination to a desired game. While hiding one game might not seem like it would do much, just imagine hiding 30 games you don’t want to see in a list of 40 or 50.

3. Two-Step verification

PSN sign in

Security is one of the most important aspects of managing any type of account, no matter how much information it holds. With PlayStation Network accounts having access to many users’ credit cards or PayPal accounts, it’s important to add an extra layer of protection to ensure that information stays safe and out of the hands of hackers.

Yes, having a secure password is important, but that’s only one part of the equation. The other half, 2-step verification, would ensure that should someone brute force their way into your account, they wouldn’t be able to do anything from there because they still need the code generated on the smart device linked to your PSN ID.

4. Gifting

PSN Wishlist

This is the obvious next step since we already have the ability to place things in wishlists. The lists alone are helpful for remembering what games we’re interested in just in case we want to purchase them at a later date, but it’d be nice to be able to send games to our friends when we’re in a good mood.

5. Pinning Games

PS4 UI

Sometimes I just want a game to stay at the front end of my home screen and not have to worry about it being pushed back by something else.

6. Better community integration

PS4 Community

The community feature is about as under-baked as one could make it. Instead of functioning like a forum, allowing friends or random strangers to reply to one another and receive a notification about that reply, the current community is nothing more than a gathering of people talking over one another. You might get a coherent conversation every now and then, but without the ability to keep a conversation thread going, trying to use this feature is a waste of time.

7. Favorite Friends

PS4 Favorite Group

And finally, the one I’ve had on my mind since I got Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: favoriting friends. The PS4 needs a way to favorite friends so people don’t have to scroll through a list of online users just to communicate with one or more people. PS4 users already have a way to get notified when certain friends come online, so Sony is at least partially aware that we prioritize some individuals more than others. Taking it an extra step, would go a long way toward saving time organizing group get togethers.

Think of something we missed? Maybe you disagree with us? Whatever the case, let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Pokemon Black & Blue, a web game that plays exactly like Pokemon. You even play as Pikachu, but the premise is that you’re escaping from your trainer.

Your trainer will use moves on you like tail-docking and discipline and once you manage to beat her, Pikachu informs her that, “Pokemon are not yours to abuse. We exist for our own reasons.”

You can bet Nintendo wasn’t too happy about a game in which Pokemon are used and abused in pretty gruesome ways. The company issued a public statement about the game, saying “Nintendo and the Pokémon company take the inappropriate use of our products and intellectual property seriously.” While that’s open to interpretation it sounds like Nintendo’s legal team may have been consulted on this one.

2. Phone Story

phone-story

Don’t think mobile games aren’t without their controversies, either. In an attempt to highlight the downright barbaric conditions under which most modern electronics are produced in countries like China, developer Molleindustria submitted Phone Story to the App Store and it was briefly approved before Apple realized it showed people how sausage is made.

The game depicts the child labor that is used to mine minerals in places like Africa, while also highlighting the deplorable conditions in Foxconn factories that led to a wave of mass suicides and eventually the installation of suicide prevention nets. Wouldn’t you love to work at a place with suicide prevention nets?

Either way, Apple wasn’t happy so the game got yanked, but you can still find it floating around the internet if not available directly from Apple.

1. Manhunt

manhunt

Rockstar is known for their open world games, but did you know they also had their taste of controversy with their snuff film simulator, Manhunt? Players assume the role of a man who is freshly escaped from prison with the help of a mysterious stranger who only tells you to kill and make it gruesome, otherwise he’ll be pissed.

You work through the various levels of the games committing murder after murder with a variety of implements and with each murder you commit, you have the option to make it extra brutal at the expense of some noise that other guards might hear. Mechanically the game was fun, but the content pissed a lot of people off.

It was banned in Australia but Rockstar didn’t give a f*&k because they made Manhunt 2 even more gory.

Best Buy’s Cyber Monday in July promotion ends today and there are some great deals to be had if you’re in the market for a new TV or a handful of digital or Nintendo 3DS games. The gaming side of the promotion is rather light unless you’re needing digital currency.

In that case, Best Buy is offering a Buy One Get One 10% off deal on all pre-paid cards. That includes Steam cards, Nintendo eShop cards, PSN cards, and Xbox Live cards, so you can take advantage of nice savings there.

Additionally, Nintendo 3DS owners should rejoice as Best Buy is offering a Buy One Get One 50% off deal on select games. Most of the games are first party Nintendo titles like Majora’s Mask, Super Mario 3D Land, Luigi’s Mansion, and Super Smash Bros., but there are a handful of games available.

The deals get a lot sweeter on the TV side of things, with several great deals including a Samsung 60″ TV for only $649. You can’t beat that!

6 Pokemon Go myths BUSTED!