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Blood of the Werewolf review (XBLA)

Blood of the Werewolf was developed by Scientifically Proven and published by Midnight City. It was released on June 11, 2014 on Xbox 360 for $6.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.

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In Blood of the Werewolf, players take on the role of Selena, werewolf mother out for revenge. The game is made up of various combinations of two types of gameplay — indoors, Selena is a crossbow-wielding vampire hunter, and at night, she transforms into a vicious werewolf. The game attempts to recapture the best of classic games like Capcom’s Ghouls ‘n Ghosts by focusing on difficult sidescrolling gameplay. Unfortunately, it is an attempt only, thanks to extreme repetition of the worst elements of those games without success at carrying over much of the charm of the classics.  A lack of enemy variety and a failure to integrate many of the game’s abilities into the core gameplay hampers what might have been an enjoyable experience.

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Sixty Second Shooter Prime review (Xbox One)

Sixty Second Shooter Prime is developed and published by Happion Laboratories. It was released June 18, 2014 on Xbox One for $4.99. An Xbox One copy was provided for review purposes.

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ID@Xbox is shaping up to be an excellent and very welcome platform for independent developers to bring their beloved games to the Xbox One platform. With the program, we’ll see exciting creative directions and artistic expressions. But then there comes along a game such as Sixty Second Shooter Prime that brings out the worst plague of the mobile market today: cloning.

Sixty Second Shooter Prime is a twin-stick shooter that tasks the player with traversing a two-dimensional plane, blasting away hordes of geometric enemies, each with different patterns and tactics the player must evade. The catch? The player has only 60 seconds and one life. Rack up as many points as you can while collecting powerups and multipliers and try to topple your friends’ high scores. Sound familiar?

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Jimmy Lightning arrives in Peggle 2 DLC

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Peggle 2 is getting a blast from the past in its newest DLC, as an original Peggle Master makes his debut in the sequel. Extreme gopher Jimmy Lightning has returned, bringing with him his improved Multiball Power. Hitting a green peg spawns a second ball, making it easier to clear the board with double the peg-popping potential. The pack also contains 10 new levels, 10 trials, 30 objectives, 3 costumes, and 3 achievements. Jimmy Lightning’s Master Pack is available now on Xbox One for $1.99. Check out some radical screenshots after the jump.

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Phil Spencer changes Kinect outlook

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When the Xbox One was originally debuted the Kinect was stressed as an integral part of the system and was required to even be able to run the console. However, after a year has passed and Stephen Elop has been replaced by Phil Spencer the outlook towards Kinect has been changed.

“This might seem backwards, but I believe the decision we made to allow people to buy Xbox One without Kinect included, in the end, will actually lead to more Kinects in the market,” he said. “I believe that you’ve got to sell the console before you can sell Kinect.”

This decision was clear based on their E3 presentation, where Kinect wasn’t stressed and rarely mentioned so that the games on display could be given their time in the limelight. He also believes that this choice is better for the developers, “Developers will choose when Kinect is part of the experience and when it’s not, and that’s the way it should be.”

Even with this change in philosophy Phil Spencer still says he is constantly being pitched Kinect games, “I think it’s great because people see it as an outlet for creativity, whether it’s immersion, whether it’s voice integrated in some interesting way, whether it’s gesture,” he said. “I think that the creative conversations I’m having with studios are more about, what is the core of what your game is, and then the studio actually usually comes to me and says, ‘Here’s how Kinect’s going to make that better.’

“In terms of a specific focus to say, ‘Hey, you guys, you have to do something that requires Kinect.’ I’m not doing that. I’m saying you need to go make games that are great. We think Kinect adds functionality to the platform that makes games better, and developers will use that when they think it will make their game better.”

Source: Polygon

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Valiant Hearts: The Great War review (Xbox One)

Valiant Hearts: The Great War was developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft. It was released on June 25, 2014 on Xbox 360 and Xbox One for $14.99. An Xbox One copy was provided for review purposes.

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All Quiet on the Western Front aside, popular media has largely ignored World War I over the years. It’s that other world war that happened before World War II and didn’t get a Steven Spielberg movie inspiring the video game industry to make oodles of games about it. With 2014 being the 100-year anniversary of the war’s start, Ubisoft Montpellier thought it was the perfect time to step in and make a game about the brutality of trench warfare. Well, that’s half-true, at least. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is as much about this incredibly violent and semi-forgotten war as it is about those who fought it and what it took from them.

First-hand stories like those taken from Audio Director Yoan Fanise’s great-grandfather’s letters from the front helped the team add an air of authenticity to Valiant Hearts‘ campaign, which follows the war-time experiences of five characters of differing nationalities. The puzzle-adventure game’s comic book art style can feel incongruous during the game’s more somber moments, and some of the sillier game-y elements further highlight the disparity between the austere story and its lighthearted presentation. Somehow, though, Ubisoft fuses it all together into an experience that will make you feel the horrible pains of those consumed by this “great” war, and the friendships that somehow develop through it.

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Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack review (XBLA)

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack was developed by Drinkbox Studios and published by Midnight City. It was released on June 18, 2014 on Xbox Live Arcade for $7.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.

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Guacamelee! may have been their claim to fame, but Drinkbox Studios has been making games long before their luchador adventure. Their previous game, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, began its life as a critically-acclaimed PlayStation Vita launch title in 2012. Two years later, and the handheld game has finally made its way to consoles. XBLA players may be a bit late to the mutant blob party, but better late than never. This is a fantastic port of a fantastic game.

Mutant Blobs Attack stars a particularly grumpy mutant blob, who has been the subject of science experiments until it gets the opportunity to break free. Now it’s out to take on the world, saving fellow blobs and consuming everything in sight. This sidescrolling puzzle-platformer is extremely well-executed, mixing a fun-to-control protagonist with impeccable level design. It may seem simple and silly on the surface, but that’s all part of the charm.

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Outlast and The Whistleblower DLC review (Xbox One)

Outlast was developed and published by Red Barrels. It was released June 18, 2014 on Xbox One for $19.99/£16.99 and includes The Whistleblower DLC. A copy was provided for review purposes.

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Throughout the history of video games, there have always been developers who set out to scare, shock, terrify and otherwise freak out an audience of gamers that is increasingly more resilient to zombies, vampires, blood, gore and all of the usual tactics. Red Barrels is one such developer, and with the excellent Outlast, they have succeeded in creating a game which is not only genuinely frightening, but which also benefits from an interesting story, and a level of engagement which really enhances the overall experience.

Set in the Mount Massive Mental Asylum, Outlast locks the player into a 5 to 6 hour long campaign which maintains a generally high level of intensity, with downtime offered only occasionally (and fleetingly) as main character Miles Upshur desperately navigates his way towards an ever more elusive escape.

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Charlie Murder title update now live

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Ska Studio’s excellent RPG brawler Charlie Murder recently received a title update. The patch notes for the 400 KB download were posted on the game studios’ blog:

  • I’m Thorough Achievement – collect all the relics ~ The Jeweled Cross has been removed and the player requires the 54 unique relics to complete this achievement.
  • Private Matches can no longer be joined by public players.
  • Players no longer have to fight Circe and Tepes again once they have already been defeated.
  • Remote players can no longer pause everyone’s game – Just the host.
  • Rex heals more viable, Charlie heals no longer as overpowered.
  • Possibly more things James forgot he tweaked and didn’t write down. Will update this list as he remembers. x_X

This is also a good time to remind Gold Subscribers that there are only a few days left to download Charlie Murder for free. The game was part of June’s Games with Gold programme on Xbox 360 along with Dark Souls and bonus game Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition.

Source: Ska Studios

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Killer Instinct Season 2 trailer featuring TJ Combo

At this year’s E3 press conference, Microsoft announced season two of Iron Galaxy’s fighting game Killer Instinct. This will be Iron Galaxy’s first season since taking over development of the game in March from Double Helix.

The trailer teases the return of heavyweight boxer TJ Combo, who is back with a vengeance and won’t let anyone stand in his way.

When Xbox Wire talked to Iron Galaxy’s Adam Heart, he said that his team is trying to make season two more accessible to the rookie fighter. Characters will have more fluid moves and easier combos so that a newer player can jump right in and enjoy the game without having any previous experience. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they won’t get defeated by more veteran players, but it should make it at least more enjoyable.

Heart says it isn’t all about the new players, though. For the more seasoned players, TJ Combo and a lot of the other returning characters will have the same fighting styles and moves as previous releases. Those that have played the game in the past can just jump right in and attack their opponent with their favorite classic combo.

There is no exact release date yet, but Season 2 is expected to release on the Xbox One this fall.

Source: Xbox Wire

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July Games with Gold titles announced

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Just in from Major Nelson today is the list of games that Xbox Live Gold members can download for free during the month of July. For the Xbox One, these include Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (which was also available this month). For Xbox 360, games will be able to download Gotham City Impostors the first half of July, and Battleblock Theater toward the end of the month.

Guacamelee is an excellent platformer that is welcome on the Xbox platform — Playstation and PC gamers have already had it for some time — readers will be able to check out the XBLAFans review shortly after it goes live. XBLAFans thought Max: The Curse of Brotherhood was “one of the best XBLA-styled Xbox One games to date” when the review originally went live in December, so platforming fans are in for a treat next week when July rolls around. For 360 players, the focus is towards multiplayer action instead. When it released in 2012, the XBLAFans review of Gotham City Impostors is “one of the most downright fun shooters available today.” Similarly, BattleBlock Theater, with its focus on multiplayer, “is the one of the best multiplayer games to hit XBLA” according to the XBLAFans review.

One last reminder: if you’ve not yet downloaded Halo: Spartan Assault, you have only another four days to do it before that rotates off of the free list, so make sure you get it soon!

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