WWE has announced that Renee Young, who filled in for Jonathan Coachman as part of the RAW commentary team on two recent occasions, has been named as the first woman to join the Monday Night RAW broadcast booth full time.
As for Jonathan Coachman, he’s been announced as the new host of WWE’s pay-per-view kickoff shows – which was Young’s old gig.
Starting tonight, Renee Young will join Michael Cole and Corey Graves each week on RAW.
The sports season has kicked off, which means this episode of New Releases has NBA 2K19 for the ballers and NHL 19 for the skaters. Anime and manga fans can check out Black Clover: Quartet Knights, and Nintendo Switch owners can get theirs hands on a fresh port of Bastion. Last but certainly not least, let’s not forget the epic third chapter in Lara Croft’s story, Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
NBA 2K19 — September 11
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
If you’re looking to dominate the court, you’ll be happy to know this entry sports a new Takeover feature based on each player’s particular style. If you’re into the story mode, this year’s journey, called The Way Back, will actually take you over to China. Not bad for the series’ 20th anniversary.
Bastion — September 13
Available on: Switch
The cult classic is getting a new home on Switch this week, letting you play the indie darling anywhere, anytime. This action-RPG sees you venturing out into the world as you rebuild the titular Bastion, but you can also use resources to buff your arsenal of weapons and learn new special attacks. Can’t forget the grumpy narrator either.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider — September 14
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Forget the typical “dark middle chapter”–this third game is going to make Lara face some serious consequences for her actions as she races against Trinity to stop a Mayan apocalypse. As far as gameplay, you can look forward to improved swimming controls, stealthier combat, and a whole bunch of tombs to raid.
Black Clover: Quartet Knights — September 14
Available on: PS4, PC
The Shonen Jump series is getting a 4-on-4 arena combat game, letting you sling spells as a melee, ranged, defensive, or healing character. Different modes have you competing for control points or hunting down treasure chests, and you can take on plenty of other wizards online.
NHL 19 — September 14
Available on: PS4, Xbox One
NHL 19 is making use of EA’s Real Player Motion Technology, setting this up to be the smoothest hockey game to date. For the first time ever, you can compete in pond hockey, even jumping into three-man free-for-all matches. There are plenty of options for customizing your own skater’s look and feel too.
These are some of this week’s highlights, but September is full of even more games. Next week, New Releases will take a look at the indie title The Gardens Between, as well as Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s first expansion, Torna: The Golden Country.
Nintendo has announced a new limited-edition version of its latest hardware. It’s the Nintendo Switch Pikachu & Eevee edition, and it decks out the entire Switch, from Joy-Cons to dock, in imagery from Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee. The new edition is coming November 16 and will retail for $400.
The bundle includes a yellow Joy-Con and a brown one, matching the colors of the title characters. The rear of the Switch’s screen is emblazoned with silhouettes of the characters as well as Poke Balls. Even the dock features color pictures of Pikachu and Eevee.
Poke Ball Plus is basically a non-standard Joy-Con for the Switch. It’s a spherical device with a wrist strap on one side and an analog stick on the other. It has motion sensors, so you can “throw” it to catch Pokemon. It also vibrates, lights up, and emits sound effects. You can even “store” Pokemon in it, which will result in in-game rewards for your creatures. In addition to working with the Switch, it can also replace the Pokemon Go Plus accessory for Pokemon Go.
The Nintendo Switch Pikachu & Eevee Edition will be released in limited quantities, so it may be tough to find in-stock. Keep an eye on our Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee pre-order guide to see when it goes up for pre-order.
With new video game releases kicking into high gear between now and the end of the year, you might be wondering which platform is right for you. In this week’s episode of GameSpot’s PC-focused show, Steam Punks, Jess and Ed discuss PC versus console.
While some of the year’s big games are exclusive to a particular platform, like Spider-Man, many of the year’s biggest titles will be available on PC and console. That’s the case with this week’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the long-awaited third and final game in the reboot series.
Controllers cannot match the precision of keyboard and mouse, so that might encourage some people to play on PC. At the same time, many PC games support controllers, and Ed makes the case in the new episode of Steam Punks that there is no reason to be ashamed of using a controller for PC games. In fact, a controller may be a preferable option in some situations.
There is also the matter of playing where your friends are. Even if you prefer PC over console, if your friends are on console, that might be a big enough reason to push you to PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, or another console. Given that cross-play between PC and console is not widely implemented for major games, many are left with making a choice between the two. That may change in the future, but it is a reality right now.
One further benefit for PC is that games stand to look and perform better, provided your system is capable enough. What’s more, many games are released first on PC through Early Access and betas, which might encourage you to play on PC over console.
Jess and Ed discuss all of these topics and more, including how the launch of the more powerful PS4 Pro and Xbox One X impacts the choice between PC and console and why couch co-op for PC games doesn’t make a lot of sense. Jess and Ed also answer your questions about last week’s episode about pre-ordering games.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 marks a forceful but necessary return to the franchise’s strategy roots, much in the vein of resetting a broken bone. The most recent Valkyria Chronicles game in the industry’s memory is Valkyria Revolution, which had a decidedly action-RPG outlook and ultimately paid the price for its experimentation. Revolution was a jagged pill to swallow, but Valkyria Chronicles 4 more than redeems the spin-off’s mistakes. It retreads the central thematic conflict of the original Valkyria Chronicles, which makes for a story that is poignant and comedic in turns without losing sight of what made the series so popular to begin with: guts.
You’re deposited straight into the hot-seat of the Second Europan War as a Federation soldier, Claude Wallace, with your rag-tag bunch of friends including an adorable dog and a number of potential anime love interests. Unsurprisingly, your enemies are the Imperial Alliance, who all sport quasi-Germanic or Russian names and have an overwhelmingly burgundy color scheme for their uniforms. Any real world resemblances here are likely intentional; this is a fictional take on a world war that we’ve all read about in some way, shape or form in our own history books. Valkyria Chronicles has always drawn from a hodge-podge of WWI and WWII to create its own canon, and that mix is more pronounced than ever here. The timeline broadly overlaps with that of the first Valkyria Chronicles game, so be prepared to notice mentions of conflicts that series veterans will already be more than familiar with.
The similarities between the two games are much more substantial than that, however. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is alike in almost every single way to the original except in name. The series continues to stay true to its blend of classic artistic European landscapes; there’s rolling hills, snowy mountains, and vast bodies of water. The gameplay is still a unique take on traditional strategy RPGs which does away with the grid movement system of stalwarts like Fire Emblem, instead preferring to rely on a mix of turn-based tactics and real-time movement and fighting, creating ample room for reactive play and tense skirmishes. You deploy your troops in advantageous positions, move them until their action points are depleted, and fire at the enemy–it’s a satisfying cycle.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 also hones in on the way that the war affects a core group of childhood friends and former innocents, simultaneously decrying violence whilst also thrusting you headfirst into situations where it’s unavoidable. It’s in those moments, where you’re backed into a corner with nowhere to go but through faceless enemy ranks, that the senselessness of the conflict really stands out, and those are some of the game’s strongest moments.
Accordingly, making sure that you have a squad that will be able to survive those skirmishes is key to your enjoyment of Valkyria Chronicles 4. You’ll take command of a whole host of different soldiers throughout your journey, and each of them is special in their own way. Whether it’s a brash Shocktrooper who gets an attack buff when he’s around the ladies, or a timid Sniper who can’t quite shoot straight when she’s alone, each person that you deliver orders to is unique in some way. Soldiers have a chance of activating Potentials based on those personality quirks, which are buffs or debuffs affecting anything from unit accuracy to how terrified they are in the heat of the moment. This leads to plenty of friendly chatter on the battlefield that adds depth to your interactions with troops; in the absence of a formal social link system, these moments feel honest and raw when set against their backdrop of percussive gunfire and chaos.
Chaos is really the name of the game when it comes to the broader military campaign, and your first few fights will probably feel that way until you get used to how the game’s battle system handles. Valkyria Chronicle 4’s first few hours serve as a lengthy tutorial, and you’ll still be learning things even after you’re multiple chapters into the main story. Troops work the way you’d expect them to–snipers, anti-tank units, and grenadiers do what they say on the tin, and there will be almost no surprises to those who have played similar Japanese-flavored military titles before. Mechanics are built around things like cover, return fire, and ammo management, and balancing all of those are key to victory. There are some improvements from the original Valkyria Chronicles, primarily in troop variety and quality-of-life niceties, but it isn’t a significant overhaul. Getting accustomed to the way the quirks of your soldiers work in battle is the primary challenge of the game, and figuring out just how you can push the combat system to its limits is another. Those who know the system will find it easy to create overpowered combinations of troops, which can trivialize the early to mid-game experience to a point, if you can be clever enough.
The overarching chaos also comes from the enemy’s single-minded pursuit of the Federation’s destruction, and you’ll meet this beast at every turn possible. The Alliance is both an immediate, militaristic threat and an ideological one that overshadows every encounter and every non-combat interlude. It’s not just a matter of turning the tide on the SPRG field and winning. The narrative drives you into increasingly hostile and inhospitable situations with odds that appear ever tipped in the Alliance’s favor.
You don’t have the luxury of picking which battles to fight, and loading into a battle with flames as high as a barn licking at your troops and screaming coming through the static whirr of your communications device is confronting each and every time. On Nintendo Switch, HD rumble is employed smartly with vibration patterns changing depending on the type of weapon used, and sounding off both on impact and when you fire. Immersion can be affected somewhat by small issues with hitboxes, pathing, and line of sight displaying oddly in cramped conditions, but these instances don’t really detract from the weighty atmosphere that the game works hard to perpetuate.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 really excels in those sobering moments where it makes tough choices and leaves you to pick up the pieces. You feel like a cog in the Federation war machine because you are merely a cog in the war machine, and the story does a good job of hashing out age-old debates around ethics in wartime, necessary sacrifices, and whether or not there are truly any victors. That being said, the day to day operations of the game doesn’t always carry the same big-picture weight, and the pacing is stronger for it. Much of your active time will be spent embroiled in a military conflict of some kind; your superiors point your squad in the direction of something that needs killing, and you do it. Some may see this as a lack of opportunity for true role-playing, but the absence of freedom of choice is arguably necessary in a game where the military hierarchy is a key component of the history that it seeks to reinterpret.
Ultimately, this is a return to form for the Valkyria Chronicles series as a whole. It stays so true to the franchise’s first iteration that it’ll feel as if almost no time has passed in the decade or so since the original game first came out. In revisiting the concerns and the environments of the first, it makes the most of those parallels and invites comparison in a way that highlights its strengths. Valkyria Chronicles 4 doesn’t necessarily tell a new tale, but it doesn’t have to; for all of its clichés and expected twists, there’s a charm to the game’s unwillingness to let up as it drives you and your friends forward at a rapid clip towards its bittersweet end.
SNK is developing a new entry in the Samurai Shodown fighting game series, and it will launch for PlayStation 4 in 2019. While details on game are scarce, it’s being created on Epic’s Unreal Engine and has a colourful visual style. As with previous entries in the series, combat is focused on weaponry, and iconic characters such as Haohmaru and Nakoruru make their return.
A trailer also sets up the story for the game, which takes place in 1787 in the 7th year of the Tenmei era. Matsudaira Sadanobu has been appointed counsel to the Shogun and given the task of ushering a new age of reform with the Kanei era. Fire, ruin, and famine still plague the lands, however, and a new evil threatens Japan.
The last entry in the series was Samurai Shodown: Sen, which released in 2009 for Xbox 360, so it has been almost 10 years since fans of the SNK fighting game series have had something to look forward to. Samurai Shodown, also known as Samurai Spirits, is revered by many fighting game enthusiasts, who place its importance as equal to the likes of Street Fighter and Tekken.
For fans of the genre, there’s quite a lot to look forward to in the months ahead. Not just with new content for Street Fighter V and Tekken 7, but also because of Dragon Ball FighterZ, which has seemingly captured the attention of those looking for a fast, tag-based game akin to Marvel Vs. Capcom.
Another big fighting game on the horizon is SoulCalibur VI, which is launching for Xbox One, PS4, and PC on October 19. Classic characters such as Astaroth and Seong Mi-Na have been confirmed as returning for the newest entry in the series, but developer Bandai Namco has also created a new character for it called Azwel. In terms of a guest fighter, Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series will be filling that spot.
The Lara Croft who appears in Shadow of the Tomb Raider has made a ton of discoveries, lost a lot of friends, and killed countless living beings. She has incredible drive and self-confidence, and her enemies fear her. It’s taken a lot for the character to get to this point, and if you’ve been along for the ride since her excellent revival in 2013’s Tomb Raider, you may be pleased to hear that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the same style of experience we first saw in 2013, only bigger and with more added to it. In fact, there’s seemingly very little, if anything, that’s changed dramatically or been discarded from the formula. But while that means Shadow retains a lot of the components that give Tomb Raider that fantastic, timeless sense of wonder and discovery, it also means that Tomb Raider’s interpretation of blockbuster action-adventure mechanics is starting to feel half a decade old.
It’s a little unnerving to spend time with the seasoned Lara of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, because her experience has changed her into a hardened, obsessive, and selfish individual. She’s reached true colonizer form, determined to get the game’s McGuffin, blind to the collateral damage, much to the concern of her lovable partner Jonah. Her demeanor is reflected in a renewed focus on stealth, where the new mechanics and the jungle setting give Lara the opportunity for Predator-style ambushes. She can cover herself in mud for additional camouflage, string enemies up from a tree, and craft Fear Arrows, which cause humans to freak out and attack each other. You’re also now able to transition back into stealth after being discovered, provided you can get away and break line of sight. There’s a big emphasis on these new abilities, as tooltips throughout the entire game will continually remind you that they exist. But while her expanded skillset gives you more options to confidently and quietly hunt everyone on the map, it also highlights the cracks and inconsistencies in Tomb Raider’s enemy logic and the limitations of the game’s relatively unsophisticated core stealth mechanics.
Sound still does not play a significant factor in Tomb Raider’s stealth. While firing at someone and throwing objects will draw attention, moving through rustling vegetation and making loud footsteps don’t seem to phase anyone even though the game suggests that it will, nor will taking out a soldier right behind another with his back turned, but those rules also seem malleable. There were times when my attempted stealth approach went wrong, a gunfight broke out, and after the dust settled I was shocked to discover an additional patrol of guards in the same area, only a few seconds away from the action, carrying on with a conversation as if nothing had happened.
Lara’s Survival Instincts ability once again will give you information on which enemies are safe to quietly take down without alerting others, but it can also reveal puzzling inconsistencies in enemy AI. There were too many times where I was able to get away with taking out a guard with one of his coworkers staring right at us, only meters away. Other times, the game will tell you it’s unsafe to take out an enemy because of someone with line-of-sight halfway across the arena. You can’t always trust your own perception of the map, even if it seems obvious, and using Survival Instincts feels necessary to constantly verify that the game agrees with your idea of what is safe or unsafe–expect to be taking out a lot of bright yellow men in monochromatic environments. When playing on Tomb Raider’s hard combat difficulty, which removes enemy highlights, this uncertain behavior makes stealth tougher than you might think.
The new abilities also have their quirks. Though camouflaging yourself with mud rightly makes you harder to notice, you can abuse it to the extent where you can roll right under the nose of a guard–it’s thrilling for you, but makes you pity the enemy. Mud is also typically available at the onset of major stealth sections, or very close to hiding spots that require it, making the mechanic feel more like an innate ability rather than a tactical option you need to seek out. Fear arrows have disappointingly varied results, too. More than a few times I would find myself stalking a patrol of men from a tree, shoot a fear arrow at the shotgun-toting soldier, and watch as he proceeded to miss every point-blank shot.
There’s still some satisfaction to be gained in Shadow’s stealth, though. Waiting with bated breath for patrols to move on, and figuring out the order in which to eliminate guards like some kind of violent logic puzzle, is still enjoyable. But the new mechanics don’t really add anything significantly interesting to that baseline experience–the big spotlight on them suggests a more sophisticated stealth system that isn’t there. You get the feeling that Lara is a cold-blooded predator, that much is true. But it’s not satisfying when the prey is so dumb and easy.
There’s a cutscene in Shadow of the Tomb Raider that mirrors Lara’s first kill in her 2013 outing–in both, she’s caught off-guard by a soldier and is thrown to the ground. But despite being at a severe disadvantage, the 2018 Lara confidently blocks and counters his attacks, and when she eventually kills him, there’s no emotion on her face. She barely even sighs. The game wants you to know that this Lara is fearsome. However, this depiction is betrayed by her actual abilities in the game’s toe-to-toe combat, where it’s often tough to get Lara to act like that efficient killing machine.
The game’s guerilla angle calls for more close-and-personal encounters, and the greater number of small combat arenas means that when things get hostile, soldiers close the distance quickly. Additionally, there are new melee enemies who focus on rushing you down with overwhelming numbers. Tomb Raider’s existing combat mechanics do not service this particular style of hostilities well. Lara’s dodges are still the hurried scuttle and roll from her early days as an amateur survivor, and her climbing axe is still largely ineffective as a melee option–most enemies will simply dodge her knockdown attempts, especially on harder combat difficulties. Melee doesn’t become a viable close-quarters tactic until you unlock a dodge and counter skill later in the game, and most of the weapons in Lara’s arsenal are inefficient as close-range keep-away tools until the events of the story give you a shotgun.
Additionally, Shadow of the Tomb Raider still doesn’t communicate damage direction–if you’re getting overwhelmed and are being attacked from the sides or behind, you won’t know exactly where from, meaning it’s more difficult to make smart evasive maneuvers on the fly. With so few certainties and reliable tools to assist you in close-quarters combat, these encounters typically result in making Lara scurry clumsily in whichever direction doesn’t have enemies coming from it and frantically trying to create enough space to effectively use your weapons.
When Shadow throws you into its few mid-range combat encounters, though, the difference becomes clear. Fighting suppressing fire, scampering from cover to cover, throwing improvised Molotov cocktails, and pinging out headshot after headshot after headshot feels empowering. The combat mechanics feel much more suited to these scenarios, as was the case in previous games, and it’s only here where Lara can feel like the ice-cold killer queen she has become.
But the game keeps reverting back to close-quarters encounters, and there is one battle that’s particularly frustrating and seemingly never-ending. One enemy will charge at you relentlessly, teleport if you create distance, and has a large, damaging area-of-effect attack which Lara’s double dodge will only just avoid. Other enemies in this battle can also, unfairly, knock you off the side of the level, but you can’t do the same to them. The environment is not your friend, and it’s an infuriating way to remember a grand adventure.
What the environments are, though, is beautiful. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is nothing if not a gorgeous game, and it features some stellar level design, both aesthetically and mechanically. Exploring the impressively dense locations in Mexico and Peru is a joy. Jungles feel imposing and endless, ruined tombs are intricately detailed, hub cities are enormous and lively, and it’s easy to be completely distracted by discovering new paths and areas. Hunting down the game’s artifacts, treasure chests, and numerous other collectibles–however meaningless you might think they are–is also still enjoyable, as they give you a reason to go sightseeing. There’s a lot of emphasis on underwater exploration in Shadow, too. And while underwater sections can be frustrating as part of story missions (instant-kill piranhas that require you to hide in seaweed get old fast), it’s hard to resist swan-diving into a huge body of water when you get a chance to explore on your own.
But it’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s numerous challenge tombs and crypts that are the undisputed stars of the show. The impressive design of ancient mechanisms and the obscure solutions to using them and unlocking the path forward feel amazing to decipher after minutes of head-scratching. Some of the answers can appear straightforward if you’ve tackled a number of these in the past, but it’s always satisfying to watch the complex parts come together regardless. Shadow of the Tomb Raider also rewards you for completing these activities with exclusive skills and gear, making them more than worth your time.
Traversing the treacherous environments in these tombs, as well as during the game’s story missions, is thrilling in its own right too. Despite there always being an expected sense of peril, the designs of Lara’s foolhardy paths between locations never gets old–there’s always some kind of dicey maneuver at a terrifying height that makes you hold your breath.
But these exciting traversal puzzles also feature their own unique moments of frustration, because though the locations have changed since 2013, Lara’s platforming ability has seemingly not. Her jumps across gaps still feel floaty and inconsistent, meaning she’ll sometimes get a mysteriously divine boost in the air to make sure she latches onto a faraway edge, but sometimes she might not grab onto a ledge at all even if she’s easily cleared the gap. The same goes for tool-related maneuvers–there were enough instances where Lara completely (and amusingly) whiffed a grapple axe or zip-line that caused her to plummet to her death, prompting me to check that my controller was still connected and that I still had my primary motor functions. Her jumps and traversal maneuvers still feel loose in general and lack a strong sense of weight, which makes them feel imprecise–the way she unconvincingly flops her climbing axes directly into solid rock faces after jumping onto them always raises an eyebrow.
Altogether, these elements bring a dire uncertainty to Shadow’s more demanding traversal sections–every time you try and make a jump, it’s a gamble. The result you get after jumping the first time might not be the one you’re supposed to get. But while that adds to the perilous nature of the task, and everything works out fine most of the time, it’s annoying when it doesn’t. It’s especially demoralizing while playing on the hard exploration difficulty, which completely removes the subtle white paint that hints at the forward path. This difficulty setting is great–having to pay such close attention to your surroundings is engrossing, and there’s a small pang of delight and relief every time you discover the first step. But sometimes you’ll try a jump, the right jump, and Lara won’t latch onto the ledge for whatever reason. Because you don’t know any better, it discourages you from trying the jump again until you’ve pointlessly tried every single other option and decide to come back to it. When you can’t completely trust Lara’s abilities to jump and grab a ledge that she’s supposed to jump and grab, that’s a problem. It’s these kinds of moments make you incredibly frustrated that Tomb Raider’s core platforming mechanics don’t seem to have been refined in the past five years.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider adds so many more pieces to the formula of previous games, but there are also so many little things that it just doesn’t quite land. The game’s obsession with collecting crafting materials has only become more profuse–there are now 21(!) different items to gather–causing everything to seem less valuable and the act of gathering them to be more of a chore. The side quests are poorly paced, as each will lead off with roughly 10 minutes of fetch quests across the game’s huge hubs and watching talking heads before getting to the meat of things, making it easy to lose motivation. The game has an option for immersive voiceovers which causes NPCs to speak in their native languages, but Lara continues to speak to everyone in English, which feels like a missed opportunity.
And perhaps most sad of all is the fact that Lara herself, with her single-minded selfishness, is a harder character to empathize with in Shadow. Her attitudes and obsessions are intertwined with the game’s plot, and you might find yourself in disagreement with her a lot, which is a big deal when trying to overlook the flaws in her abilities. Jonah is the one you’ll be rooting for in this game because he acts as Lara’s centre, he’ll likely echo a lot of your own sentiments, and he has a more sympathetic arc. It’s a shame that the Lara you grew so incredibly fond of in the Tomb Raider reboot, and the scrappy skills you used to help her survive Yamatai, have both grown to be some of the most frustrating parts of her latest adventure. Shadow of the Tomb Raider makes you long for the days of a Lara that was easier to empathize with, where being inexperienced and imprecise made sense, and there was only one crafting resource to gather.
Thankfully, the parts of Tomb Raider that make it really fantastic–uncovering the mystery of ancient ruins, solving impressive challenge tombs, and exploring exotic environments–are still here in Shadow, and they are just as outstanding as they have always been. But the core mechanics that have been with the series for half a decade are starting to show their limitations. Making the journey to Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s peaks is certainly an attractive goal, but like the challenging terrain Lara needs to traverse, the path there is getting rougher and more unpredictable.
The team behind the Yakuza series has revealed a new title called Judge Eyes, which is being developed for the PlayStation 4. The game was shown during the PlayStation Lineup Tour event, ahead of the start of Tokyo Game Show. The trailer, which you can watch below, shows that it is a narrative driven experience.
Judge Eyes seems to involve playing as a lawyer and investigating a series of murders and crimes. It is expected to launch in December in Japan, and a western release will follow in 2019, though an exact date has not been confirmed as of yet.
The Judge Eyes project was originally teased during a Sega livestream, where chief creative officer Toshihiro Nagoshi described it as “something completely different” from the studio. He also revealed that it has been in development for around three years.
A short gameplay video has also been released, and shows the investigative elements involved in the game. A character can be seen identifying a person of interest in the city, and then using stealth to tail the man. He eventually follows him into an alley and confronts the mark, which results in a chase. There are quick-time button presses to keep up with the target. In terms of combat, it seems very familiar to the Yakuza series, both in terms of having multiple enemies to engage in hand-to-hand combat and the ridiculous, over the top finishing moves.
Disguises are also a big part of the game, as the character is shown breaking into an office and taking pictures of clues. Snapping pictures can be done with a phone, but there’s also a segment where a drone. You can see all that, as well as the more ridiculous scenarios that are typical of the Yakuza development team, in the video below.
The Yakuza team has been quite prolific of late, having released the excellent Yakuza 0 in 2017, to widespread critical acclaim. This brought the quirky open-world action series a much broader audience, which it has capitalized on by remastering the first two entries in the series and releasing them as Yakuza Kiwami and, most recently, Yakuza Kiwami 2.
The latter of the two received a glowing review from GameSpot’s Edmond Tran, who said “the tale of Tokyo and Osaka, Kiryu and Sayama’s partnership, and Kiryu and Goda’s rivalry remains one of the Yakuza’s best stories, and Kiwami 2’s minor missteps don’t affect the heart of that experience.
“The modernization of its presentation and its mechanics elevate it, making it absolutely worth revisiting or experiencing for the first time. Yakuza is an exemplary, if flawed series that does an incredible job of steeping you in contemporary Japanese-style crime drama, and establishing an evocative sense of place. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is an excellent example of the series at its best, coupling its most memorable stories and characters with its most sophisticated mechanics yet.” Read our full Yakuza Kiwami 2 review for more on the game.
The Yakuza team is also currently working on Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, which is based on the classic Hokuto No Ken manga and anime series. This is expected for launch in western territories later this year. In the mean time, you can check out some brutal, over the top gameplay here.
Left Alive, the third-person shooter set in the Front Mission universe, has been given a new release date. The title was originally set to launch in 2018, but during the pre-Tokyo Game Show PlayStation Lineup Tour event a new February 28, 2019 release date was confirmed. This date, however, is just for the Japanese release and a western date has not been revealed yet.
A trailer shown at the event provided some new details on the game. It is set in the fictional city of Novo Slava and takes place in December 2127. Novo Slava looks to have been ravaged by an unexpected attack, and people are just trying to survive amidst the chaos. At one point in the video, a condemned criminal designated D105U is mentioned.
“Humanity has learned nothing from its mistakes,” reads a bit of text. As previously mentioned, survival is a key part of the game, as is saving citizens, and a voice over stresses this while scenes of giant mechs tearing through the city play. The game will focus on multiple characters, all who have their own perspectives on the events of the game.
“In this struggle for survival, three lives are laid bare, each with their own stories, their own missions, and their own paths to salvation,” the trailer says. These three characters are featured on the game’s key artwork, which was created by Yoji Shinkawa, the artist known most for defining the look of the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Shinkawa is serving as character designer on Left Alive.
Shinji Hashimoto, meanwhile, is Left Alive’s producer. He has worked on the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts franchises. Joining Shinkawa and Hashimoto are Toshifumi Nabeshima, director of the Armored Core series, and Takayuki Yanase, mech designer on Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, and Xenoblade Chronicles X.