Post Arcade

A video game news site from the friendly folks at the National Post who brought you FP Tech Desk.

Apr 16

Review – Trials Fusion solidifies the franchise’s status as the Excitebike of our time

By Chad Sapieha
http://bit.ly/1tanmS6

RedLynx Ltd.’s popular series of Trials motorcycle racing games just feel right.

It’s in the way you can shift riders’ weight to pre-load the suspension of your bike, pop-wheelies on flat surfaces, stay glued to the track on inclines, and perform forward bunny-hops to get a bit of extra distance clearing gaps.

It also has to do with the authentic recreation of motorcycles’ distinctive one-wheel drive systems. You can sense the power flowing to your rear wheel as you hit the throttle and feel the free spinning action of your front wheel whenever it’s the only tire touching the ground. Taking advantage of these contradictory properties properly is essential to overcoming more challenging obstacles.

But the cleverest bit of all is the game’s side-scrolling presentation. By framing the racing in two dimensions rather than three, taking away the unnecessary and distracting variable that is steering, players are better able to appreciate the game’s deftly designed physics engine in all its realistic glory.

I’m happy to report that the driving action in Trials Fusion – the franchise’s twelfth (or so) iteration on various platforms in 15 years – is as addictive as it’s ever been. The chief difference lies simply in how RedLynx has grown and expanded the rest of the game around it…


Apr 8

Review – Lego The Hobbit is two-thirds of a great game


By Chad Sapieha

http://bit.ly/1jZC2PN

Given the non-specific nature of its name, you’d be forgiven for wondering what, exactly, you’re getting in Lego The Hobbit, TT Games’ latest building block adventure.

Does it tell the story of the first of Peter Jackson’s films?

The two films released to date?

The entire trilogy?

The book upon which the films are based?

The answer is number two.

Sort of.

The credits do indeed roll upon completion of events at the end of the second film (which I won’t spoil here), but rumours abound that levels based on the third film will arrive this Christmas as paid downloadable content.

So while the game’s title at present is a bit misleading, given players aren’t getting the whole story, it will likely become at least little more accurate in about eight months’ time – assuming you’re willing to cough up a few extra bucks to pay for the chapters that complete the story.

And if the alleged DLC based on The Hobbit: There and Back Again is as much fun as the game covering the first two films, chances are you’ll happily part with another $10 or $20 to enjoy it…


Ubisoft’s massive open world racing game The Crew may turn new fans onto the racing genre (preview)


By Patrick O’Rourke

http://bit.ly/1eeU68O

Often in open world games, settings and backdrops are expansive, but in reality there isn’t very much to do in them.

This isn’t the case with The Crew.

Imagine a virtual world larger than Grand Theft Auto VForza Horizon and Red Dead Redemption combined and encompassing the entire United States. A quick look at the game’s massive map reveals a United States dotted with activities. From end to end, the map spans over an enormous 7000 miles of road and 15 cities.

Oh, and it’s stuffed full of fast cars and challenging races.

This is the setting of Ubisoft and France-based developer Ivory Tower’s massively multiplayer online racing game, The Crew. During a recent press event at Ubisoft’s office in San Francisco, I had a chance to sit down with The Crew for approximately three hours and explore the game’s massive world.

“Massive” being the key word here.

“It really depends on what car you have,” said Stéphane Beley, Ivory Tower’s co-founder, design director and producer.

“If you go off-road, it will take two or three hours [to travel from each end of the map]. If you take a more efficient racing car, it will be either one hour or 45 minutes. [In this demo] You saw going from New York to Miami took about 20 minutes in a pretty fast car.”…


Apr 7

Review – Kinect Sports Rivals: The more things change, the more they stay the same


By Chad Sapieha

http://bit.ly/PFo6zd

Much was made of Microsoft’s next evolution of Kinect motion-sensing technology when Xbox One was first unveiled last spring.

The new 1080p wide angle input camera grabs and interprets up to two gigs of visual data per second in order to better read human movement. It can apparently distinguish 25 separate moving parts on each of up to six separate bodies, deduce the player’s mood based on her facial expressions, and even detect and measure heart beats.

Strange, then, that so few games in the first five months since Xbox One hit shelves have done much of anything with this powerful new technology.

That changes, however, with the Tuesday launch of the purely motion-controlled Kinect Sports Rivals, the third entry in a sports compilation series from U.K.-based Rare Ltd.

But while it does a decent job showing off Kinect 2.0′s advanced motion detection tech in some of its half-dozen events (yes, there are still just six), it also suggests many of the issues players had with the first-generation Kinect – including delayed input and occasional failure to recognize movements at critical moments – haven’t been entirely resolved…


Apr 3

Plants vs Zombies 2 is a completely different game than when it launched last summer


By Chad Sapieha

http://bit.ly/1k42ABZ

I went cold turkey on PopCap’s addictive Plants vs Zombies 2 after finishing it twice in the space of just a few weeks last summer.

Didn’t play for half a year. Figured I’d wait until the arrival of the Far Future update, the first of two post-launch worlds promising new zombies and other goodies.

The update happened last week, so I decided to jump back in.

And I was downright shocked at what I found…


Please welcome the newest contributor to Post Arcade, the one and only Sam Maggs. Here’s her first story: Why the gaming world still needs more complex female protagonistshttp://bit.ly/1eemW3A
Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs is one of the most highly-anticipated games of 2014. Set to be released in May, Watch Dogs puts players in the role of Aiden Pearce, a super-hacker who exists to fulfill every ’90s Jonny Lee Miller/Angelina Jolie-related fantasies.
So when the story trailer for Watch Dogs was recently released, I was just as excited as everyone else.
That is, until I actually sat down and watched it.
Turns out, Pearce’s backstory centers around the tragic murder of his girlfriend, which motivates the protagonist’s revenge storyline for the remainder of the game.
And all I could think about for the duration of the trailer was, “Not again.”
Sadly and unsurprisingly, the dead-ladies-motivate-male-plotlines trope isn’t exclusive to the gaming world.
Back in 1999, comic book writer Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Red Sonja) dubbed this all-too-common phenomenon “Women in Refrigerators.” The name is charmingly drawn from a 1994 issue of Green Lantern, wherein the titular hero returns home to find his girlfriend has been murdered by the supervillain-of-the-week and unceremoniously stuffed into a fridge.
Writers guilty of “fridging” women are multiple offenders – not only is the trope misogynist, reducing women to props for the sake of the male storyline, but it’s also just lazy storytelling.
Want to give Pearce a tragic backstory? Kill his girlfriend!
Need to motivate Thor for the rest of his second film? Better go ahead and kill his mother!
Why is Eva Green so crazy in the new 300 movie? Surprise, she’s been sexually assaulted!
I feel ridiculous even having to say this because it seems like such a simple solution, but the best way to stop fridging women is for writers to take the time to give them full, complete stories that don’t hinge on male violence…

Please welcome the newest contributor to Post Arcade, the one and only Sam Maggs. Here’s her first story: Why the gaming world still needs more complex female protagonists

http://bit.ly/1eemW3A

Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs is one of the most highly-anticipated games of 2014. Set to be released in May, Watch Dogs puts players in the role of Aiden Pearce, a super-hacker who exists to fulfill every ’90s Jonny Lee Miller/Angelina Jolie-related fantasies.

So when the story trailer for Watch Dogs was recently released, I was just as excited as everyone else.

That is, until I actually sat down and watched it.

Turns out, Pearce’s backstory centers around the tragic murder of his girlfriend, which motivates the protagonist’s revenge storyline for the remainder of the game.

And all I could think about for the duration of the trailer was, “Not again.”

Sadly and unsurprisingly, the dead-ladies-motivate-male-plotlines trope isn’t exclusive to the gaming world.

Back in 1999, comic book writer Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Red Sonja) dubbed this all-too-common phenomenon “Women in Refrigerators.” The name is charmingly drawn from a 1994 issue of Green Lantern, wherein the titular hero returns home to find his girlfriend has been murdered by the supervillain-of-the-week and unceremoniously stuffed into a fridge.

Writers guilty of “fridging” women are multiple offenders – not only is the trope misogynist, reducing women to props for the sake of the male storyline, but it’s also just lazy storytelling.

Want to give Pearce a tragic backstory? Kill his girlfriend!

Need to motivate Thor for the rest of his second film? Better go ahead and kill his mother!

Why is Eva Green so crazy in the new 300 movie? Surprise, she’s been sexually assaulted!

I feel ridiculous even having to say this because it seems like such a simple solution, but the best way to stop fridging women is for writers to take the time to give them full, complete stories that don’t hinge on male violence…


Apr 2
Remake of indie hit The Binding of Isaac coming to PlayStation 4, Vita, Steam
By Chad Sapieha
http://bit.ly/1ed2dNs

If you haven’t played Edmund McMillen’s winningly bizarre The Binding of Isaac, you’re cheating yourself of an unforgettable gaming experience.
Equal parts Legend of Zelda homage and cathartic work of art, it’s a rogue-like adventure about a boy taking refuge in his labyrinthine basement from a psychotic mother driven to murderous extremes by the “Christian broadcasts” she watches.
It leaves an indelible mark on player’s mind.
It’s also a fast-paced, remarkably addictive, and deeply entertaining dungeon romp, to boot. Proof: It’s sold nearly three million copies on Steam, not including Humble Indie Bundle DRM-free sales.
And it’s about to enter a whole new phase.
A remake with much bolder ambitions called The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Steam, and – Mr. McMillen hints – “possibly more platforms” later this year.
Post Arcade had a quick email chat with Mr. McMillen – whom you may remember as one of the developers featured in the award-winning documentary Indie Game: The Movie (for his work on the hit platformer Super Meat Boy) – in hopes of learning a little more about his new project.
He discussed the game’s new engine, which he excitedly noted is powerful enough to let him design “bullet hell” levels – and revealed a little more about The Binding of Isaac‘s origins, which reach back deep into its maker’s childhood…

Remake of indie hit The Binding of Isaac coming to PlayStation 4, Vita, Steam


By Chad Sapieha


http://bit.ly/1ed2dNs

If you haven’t played Edmund McMillen’s winningly bizarre The Binding of Isaac, you’re cheating yourself of an unforgettable gaming experience.

Equal parts Legend of Zelda homage and cathartic work of art, it’s a rogue-like adventure about a boy taking refuge in his labyrinthine basement from a psychotic mother driven to murderous extremes by the “Christian broadcasts” she watches.

It leaves an indelible mark on player’s mind.

It’s also a fast-paced, remarkably addictive, and deeply entertaining dungeon romp, to boot. Proof: It’s sold nearly three million copies on Steam, not including Humble Indie Bundle DRM-free sales.

And it’s about to enter a whole new phase.

A remake with much bolder ambitions called The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Steam, and – Mr. McMillen hints – “possibly more platforms” later this year.

Post Arcade had a quick email chat with Mr. McMillen – whom you may remember as one of the developers featured in the award-winning documentary Indie Game: The Movie (for his work on the hit platformer Super Meat Boy) – in hopes of learning a little more about his new project.

He discussed the game’s new engine, which he excitedly noted is powerful enough to let him design “bullet hell” levels – and revealed a little more about The Binding of Isaac‘s origins, which reach back deep into its maker’s childhood…


Review – Goat Simulator carefully examines the existential crisis that is being a goat


By Matthew O’Mara

http://bit.ly/1jYVuOZ

Sometimes, being the goat actually is all it’s cracked up to be.

A recent study featured in Frontiers of Zoology suggests that goats possess problem-solving abilities and the capacity for long-term memory that might rival those of a young human. Seriously.

With that in mind, Goat Simulator, the latest game from Coffee Stain Studios, is probably the most ridiculous game you’ll ever play, but not in a way that’s mundane or silly. Just, well, ridiculous.

The game’s developers have managed to strike a delicate balance in evolving a game which, at its core, is really the eventual conclusion of a concept dreamed up at a games jam event. Goat Simulator provides a kind of ridiculous fun players find all too rarely these days; a pleasant and mindless diversion from an industry that sometimes feels like it takes itself too seriously.

With Goat Simulator, there is no hidden monetization schemes. No free to play gimmicks. No additional DLC packs.

Just goats headbutting gas stations to create explosions worthy of a Michael Bay summer blockbuster. Oh, and also a few Dead Island references tossed in for good measure…


Mar 31
Microsoft taps Phil Spencer to head up Xbox, make Xbox One a “gaming-first” console (interview)By Chad Sapiehahttp://bit.ly/1ffTNbV

Microsoft taps Phil Spencer to head up Xbox, make Xbox One a “gaming-first” console (interview)
By Chad Sapieha
http://bit.ly/1ffTNbV


Review – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls makes a pretty good (and gloriously geeky) dungeon crawler even better


By Chad Sapieha


http://bit.ly/1ffRANt

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls doesn’t do much to sell the dungeon crawling experience to folks who’ve never had a taste for it to begin with.

If the notion of carving your way through a menagerie of hellish “flesh shamen” and “barbed lurkers” with archaic-sounding weapons such as the “Perplexing Grand Sword of Immolation” and “Mesmerizing Living Tentacles of Living Dolls” brings on spasms of fantasy hatred, then Blizzard Entertainment’s first major expansion to its popular action RPG will very likely send you off your rocker.

But the good news is that players whose gaming palates do lean toward slaying nightmarish minions with tongue-twisting weapons are finally getting the game they probably wished Diablo III was to begin with.


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