Battlefield 1: Apocalypse DLC Review

Battlefield 1: Apocalypse should be thought of mostly as a map pack, with two especially strong and great-looking ground battles leading the charge back into the fray. The pair of simple air battles, on the other hand, aren’t much more than a distraction from the real war.

Apocalypse’s River Somme, Caporetto, and Passchendaele are standard Battlefield maps meant to be played in modes like Conquest. They all bring the brutality the same way: they’re relatively open and less directed, with limited cover options. That’s a contrast to Battlefield 1’s previous maps, which have emphasized high cover and defined flanking routes. It’s easy to make a beeline for the next objective, especially on Passchendaele, though this still leaves you vulnerable to sniper fire.

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Chris Hemsworth May Star in Men in Black Spinoff

The God of thunder himself Chris Hemsworth might star in Sony’s new Men in Black spinoff.

IGN has confirmed Hemsworth is circling the role, but talks with Sony are still early. It’s also not currently known what role Hemsworth would play. This spinoff, separate from the Men in Black/Jump Street crossover, is said to be a global adventure, and Sony reportedly wants a diverse cast led by a white male, a black woman, and an older man.

These characters won’t be Agents K and J, portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, respectively, in the original two Men in Black movies.

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XCOM-Like Strategy Game Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Announced For PS4, Xbox One, And PC

Funcom, the Norwegian publisher behind Age of Conan and The Secret World, has announced its next project. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a turn-based strategy game in the style of XCOM, coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One this year.

The XCOM comparison only goes so far, though, as Mutant Year Zero has a few unique elements to set it apart. For one, your soldiers are mutated anthropomorphized animals, like the duck and boar seen in the cinematic trailer below. Humanoid characters can be seen as well, but the publisher calls this a “post-human world” as the result of a nuclear apocalypse.

Mutant Year Zero also adds a real-time stealth mechanic to sneak up on patrolling enemies who move around the map as you do. The game also promises tech trees to upgrade your mutants with new abilities, dynamic environments to hide in the shadows or destroy walls, and plenty of loot to collect. After all, no giant talking duck is complete without the latest fashions.

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The project is the debut of the new indie studio Bearded Ladies. It was formed by former Hitman developers along with Payday designer Ulf Andersson. Funcom hasn’t pinned down a release yet, but you can expect it to arrive sometime in 2018. It will be shown at GDC in March, so we can expect more details then.

Amazon Pays $1 Billion for Startup That Shark Tank Passed On

Amazon has agreed to purchase video doorbell maker Ring.

Ring produces Wi-Fi powered doorbells which let homeowners see who is at the door remotely. Sources told Reuters the deal is valued at over $1 billion, although Amazon has not officially revealed details.

The technology had been pitched before by Ring’s founder and CEO, Jamie Siminoff, on a 2013 episode of Shark Tank, according to CNBC. At the time, his business was called Doorbot, and every investor but Kevin O’Leary passed. O’Leary made an offer but Siminoff did not accept.

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Bridge Constructor Portal Review

Bridge Constructor Portal leans heavily upon its iconic forebears. GlaDOS, an uncaring-though-humorous AI, greets you at the beginning of many levels, setting the stage for the plentiful puzzles that lay before you. It sounds like the setup for another delicious brain-teaser that will tickle your funny bone while pushing your logic muscles. But neither the story nor the puzzles capture your imagination, resulting in a predictable slog that grows more tedious the deeper you get into the adventure. Even worse: I encountered a game-breaking bug that completely halted my progress at the home stretch.

The story in Bridge Constructor Portal is little more than a collection of references to the previous Portal games. GlaDOS is back to make light of your shortcomings, but her insults feel like diluted copies of familiar quips, lacking the clever tongue-lashings that she used to so easily dish out. She’s there to greet you with an insult at the beginning of some stages, and then you’re left on your own in a bleak and bland test chamber. Periodic cutscenes borrow familiar artifacts from previous games, but do little with these props other than make you fondly remember happier days. During one such segment, a picture of Portal’s famous cake appears on a computer screen while an instrumental version of “Still Alive” plays over the loudspeakers. This scene means nothing if you aren’t familiar with that game…and it’s just a quick nostalgia jab for those who are.

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As the name implies, Bridge Constructor Portal has you building a series of bridges in the facility made famous in Portal. The goal is to guide a self-driving forklift full of cute little stick figures from the entry point to a faraway exit–all while avoiding turrets, leaping over acidic lakes, and triggering switches. Building a bridge is no easy task, though; physics are a constant and punishing presence, forcing you to consider the impact of gravity as you build rickety structures. With only metal planks and guy-wires to hold your contraptions in place, you have to make smart use of your materials to ensure that the entire structure doesn’t topple as soon as you begin.

A handy “best practices” tutorial teaches you the fundamentals of architecture. Build a series of triangles, for instance, to hold a bridge in place, or affix an arch to add even more support for your road. Bolts in the ceilings and walls can bear a lot of weight if you hook guy-wires up to connecting points, but make sure you balance the bridge properly, or it’s still going to cause your forklift to crash and burn as soon as it lays its wheel upon the road.

All of the techniques you need are doled out slowly, so it’s easy to get a handle on what the game is demanding of you. While you start out building simple ramps and roadways, you’re soon sculpting hundred-piece structures that dangle impossibly high in the air. The early going is tense: I would hold my breath as the forklift sauntered across my swaying bridge, hoping that the guy-wires were strong enough to carry the weight. My forklift would often land on a bridge from too high a distance, and I would watch helplessly as it all toppled to the ground. Then it was a matter of going back to work, adding a few more supports and tweaking the angle of ramps, before once again testing my creation.

It doesn’t take long, though, before you’ve seen all of the obstacles Bridge Constructor Portal can dish out. Once you’ve mastered suspension bridges, oscillating bridges, and angles of incidence, the stages force you to go through the motions to show–once more–the tricks you already learned. The game tries to keep things fresh by injecting obstacles and items from the original Portal game into this one; you’ll encounter talking turrets, companion cubes, speed goo, death lasers, bounce pads, flying balls, and (of course) portals. Later levels throw all of these into a single stage, but that only makes the experience more tedious, not more interesting.

The game often confuses complexity with fun, as throwing in more moving pieces doesn’t mean you’re going to have to think harder.

Bridge Constructor Portal is at its best when it focuses on one or two key ideas. Figuring out how to use a companion cube as a shield to block the laser attacks from a turret took enough clever construction that I was satisfied when my forklift glided gracefully through the exit. But the game often confuses complexity with fun, as throwing in more moving pieces doesn’t mean you’re going to have to think harder. Rather, it means you’re going to spend most of your time making small adjustments, wallowing in small details instead of appreciating the greater whole that surrounds you.

The best part of puzzle games is figuring out how to overcome a tricky obstacle. That’s the easiest and shortest aspect of Bridge Constructor Portal, though. Long after you’ve devised a way through the portals, off the bouncing pads, and past the lasers, you’re fiddling around with one small part of the contraption that is close, but oh so far, from the necessary perfection.

A lot of the tedium comes from how editing works. In test chamber 49, for instance, I had to guide my forklift through a series of portals on the right side of the screen while crashing into turrets from behind, and hitting a button that would release a companion cube on the left side. The cube is supposed to knock down three more turrets and hit a switch that opens the exit. The problem is that I couldn’t quite get the angle needed to guide the cube to its destination. So I would tweak a ramp, start the level up, and then wait 30 or so seconds until the forklift hit that switch to release the companion cube. Then, I would watch the cube fall, see where my mistake was, and move a ramp a few more pixels to try to get it in the right spot. And then… I’d start the whole process again. Tweak, wait 30 seconds, tweak, wait 30 seconds, tweak. There’s no way to start a run from a certain point to iterate on the one problem area, so I went back and forth with this project for a half hour until I finally got it right.

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And then the game crashed.

From beginning to end, it took me about an hour to pass test chamber 49. Most of the later stages take 30 minutes or longer to get right, and some took even more than an hour. Losing my progress after spending so much time constructing the perfect series of ramps and bridges was maddening. But I had no time to pout: I jumped right back into test chamber 49, moving quicker than my first time through, and got my trusty companion cube to knock down the turrets and trigger the exit door in about 20 minutes.

And then I ran into an even bigger problem.

Test chamber 50 is much easier than the previous stage, but I experienced a bug every time I reached the exit that forced the game to crash to the Switch OS. I tried to save my work before exiting, crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t have to start from the beginning if the game crashed again–but the save function failed consistently, too. So I never got beyond test chamber 50, and never saw the last 10 challenges.

Obviously, a game-breaking bug is a serious problem, but I was tired of Bridge Constructor Portal long before my progress was abruptly halted. This game falls short in just about every area; an amusing story or eye-catching visual design could have at least distracted from the dull puzzles, but you get no reprieve here. The game doesn’t even feature any music while you’re building the many bridges. Long after you’ve figured out how to pass a stage, you’re still left tinkering with minute portions, adjusting ramps by mere pixels at a time, crossing your fingers that you landed on the exact angle needed to guide a companion cube or bounce a ball of light toward the wall trigger. Instead of testing your puzzle-solving ability, Bridge Constructor Portal just sees how long you can withstand tedium before you want to walk away from the whole endeavor.

Monster Hunter World’s Second Horizon Zero Dawn Quest Now Live On PS4

Monster Hunter World players on PS4 have already had an opportunity to craft an exclusive set of Watcher Palico gear inspired by Horizon Zero Dawn, and now they’ll have a chance to dress like Horizon protagonist Aloy herself. The second part of Monster Hunter World’s Horizon crossover event is now live, and as before, you’ll only have a limited time to complete it.

From now until March 15, players can embark on a new Event Quest called The Proving. This six-star mission requires a Hunter Rank of 11 or higher to accept, and it takes place in the Ancient Forest. The objective of the quest appears to be fairly straightforward–hunt an Anjanath–but this particular monster is much larger than the ones players have encountered in the game so far.

“Many captivating machines appear in Horizon Zero Dawn, but the one that made the biggest impression on the Monster Hunter: World development team was the Thunderjaw,” Monster Hunter producer Ryozo Tsujimoto explained on the PlayStation Blog. “Anjanath has a very similar skeletal structure to the Thunderjaw, so we felt it was the best fit to be the main adversary in the quest, but not just any Anjanath would do. This Anjanath is at a scale that many players will have never before encountered, and your typical attacks may not reach its height.”

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Completing The Proving quest will reward you with materials that can be used to craft Aloy’s Bow and armor set. Equipping the full set will change your hunter’s appearance to resemble Aloy, regardless of your character’s gender. You can find out exactly how to unlock Aloy’s armor and bow in our guide. You can also take a look at some screenshots of the gear in the gallery above.

The first Horizon-themed Event Quest in Monster Hunter World, Lesson of the Wild, ran until February 8. If you missed out on that quest the first time around, you’ll soon have another chance to get the Palico gear. Tsujimoto revealed that Event Quests operate on a “rotating schedule,” so the Lesson of the Wild quest will return to the game again “at a later date.”

In addition to the new Horizon Event Quest, some PS4 players can also still take part in Monster Hunter World’s first Street Fighter V quest. Those who have a save file of Street Fighter V on their console can accept the Event Quest titled Down the Dark, Muddy Path, which will reward players with material to create a set of Ryu armor. That quest and a second one for Sakura armor will be available to all PS4 and Xbox One players at a later date.

Nintendo Pulls Switch Game User Reviews

Last week, Nintendo added an option for players to review Nintendo Switch games directly on their official Nintendo pages. Unfortunately, that option is now gone.

As Polygon reports, the feature was abruptly removed today, just five days after it launched. Switch games still have customer review tabs on Nintendo’s site, but an explanatory blurb now stands in their place. Here’s the full version explaining what happened:

“Customer reviews have been taken offline as we evaluate this feature and its functionality. We currently have no estimated date on when an update will be provided. We appreciate the positive response and thank the reviewers who provided such thoughtful commentary on the games.”

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Box Office: Black Panther Passes Wonder Woman, Toy Story 3

Black Panther has surpassed both Wonder Woman and Toy Story 3 at the box office to become the 20th highest grossing film domestically of all time.

According to Box Office estimates, the film made $10.1 million yesterday, bringing the film’s grand domestic total to $421.8 million. Unadjusted for inflation, this puts Black Panther ahead of Wonder Woman ($412.6 million) and Toy Story 3 ($415 million), and is now only slightly behind The Lion King’s $422.8 million haul, according to Box Office Mojo.

Additionally, the Ryan Coogler-directed Marvel movie is now the third highest grossing MCU movie of all time, just ahead of Iron Man 3 ($409 million) and behind Avengers: Age of Ultron ($459 million).

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