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Review: Nintendo’s ‘Star Fox Zero’ is inessential

Photo provided by Nintendo -- Nintendo has revamped Star Fox for the Wii U console, but our reviewer isn't too happy with what the video game company has done with the character.

How do you solve a problem like Fox McCloud? The vulpine aviator, sort of a bushy-tailed Han Solo, has been headlining Nintendo games for nearly two decades. And yet, he’s not going to make many lists of Top 10 Nintendo characters, mainly because his “Star Fox” franchise has been such a mixed bag. Over the years,… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Quantum Break’ isn’t clever enough

Photo provided by Microsoft -- In the new video game 'Quantum Break,' you play time-traveler Jack Joyce, the brother of the genius who discovered time travel.

What would you do if you could control time? Visit the future and grab an iPhone 50? Kill a despised historical figure while he’s still a baby? Carve out some time to catch up on your Netflix queue? Will Joyce, the genius who discovers time travel in “Quantum Break,” wants none of that. He’s the… Continue reading →

Review: Manhattan becomes a battlefield in ‘The Division’

Photo provided by Ubisoft -- In the new action-adventure game 'Tom Clancy's The Division,' you must help rebuild Manhattan after it has been destroyed by 'Green Poison.

New York City: It’s dirty, noisy and crowded, and everyone who’s lived there has occasionally wished everyone else would just go away. “Tom Clancy’s The Division” grants that wish via the “Green Poison,” a smallpox mutation that wipes out most Manhattanites and sends the rest packing. Of course, the old adage about being careful what you wish… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Hitman’ goes to Paris in first part of a yearlong epic

Photo provided by Square Enix -- Agent 47 is back in the latest 'Hitman' game.

Ah, the glamorous life of an international assassin. What other career gives you the chance to hobnob with world leaders, models, fashion designers, chess masters and other celebrities — and then murder them? Such is the lot of Agent 47, the protagonist of “Hitman.” He’s executed some difficult contracts over the years, but now he… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Far Cry Primal’ a blast from the distant past

Photo provided by Ubisoft -- In the new game, 'Far Cry Primal,' a Stone Age explorer battles a rival tribe.

For about a decade, Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed” series has been messing around with history, creating chaos as far back as the 12th century. But humanity’s capacity for mayhem goes back even further — and now it’s another Ubisoft franchise, “Far Cry,” that’s taking us for a ride in the time machine. “Far Cry Primal” bounces 12,000 years… Continue reading →

Review: Indie games ‘Firewatch,’ ‘Unravel’ fall short

Photo provided by Campo Santo -- A scene from the new adventure game 'Firewatch.'

What makes a game a game? That question has arisen around some of the most popular independent video games of the last few years — titles like “Gone Home,” “Her Story” and “That Dragon, Cancer” that steer away from traditional video-game mechanics in favor of narrative and character development.… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam’ hits some flat notes

Photo provided by Nintendo -- This screenshot shows a scene from the new Nintendo 3DS game 'Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam.'

Role-playing games like “Fallout 4” and “The Witcher 3” are beloved for their complexity, ambition and overwhelming variety of things to do. But those same traits scare some players away, particularly grown-ups who may not have 100 hours free to really dig in. Nintendo’s lighthearted “Mario & Luigi” adventures are a good fix for people who… Continue reading →

Review: Ubisoft turns ‘Rainbow 6’ into 5-vs.-5 war on terror

In this photo provided by Ubisoft, a commando squad battles a terrorist cell in the video game, "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege." The world of online video games can be a nightmare, an every-man-for-himself, kill-or-be-killed wasteland that brings out our most nihilistic impulses. But big publishers are hoping to change that with more games that force us to work together _ particularly as they try to invent multiplayer competitions that will appeal to the ever-expanding audience for e-sports. (Ubisoft via AP)

The world of online video games can be a nightmare, an every-man-for-himself, kill-or-be-killed wasteland that brings out our most nihilistic impulses. But big publishers are hoping to change that with more games that force us to work together — particularly as they try to invent multiplayer competitions that will appeal to the ever-expanding audience for “e-sports.” “Tom… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Star Wars Battlefront’ is shallow

Photo provided by Electronic Arts -- This video game image shows a scene from "Star wars Battlefront."

There have been about 100 “Star Wars” video games released since 1977. You can count the great ones on one hand. Many more have been junky cash-ins. Still, you can slap the “Star Wars” logo on something like “Angry Birds,” and it will make money. Kid-oriented games like “Lego Star Wars” and “Disney Infinity 3.0” provide lighthearted… Continue reading →

Review: Croft gets crafty in latest ‘Tomb Raider’

Photo provided by Crystal Dynamics -- Lara Croft returns in 'Rise of the Tomb Raider.'

After successfully rebooting the “Tomb Raider” franchise in 2013 by reintroducing Lara Croft as a shipwreck survivor who washes up on a deadly — and really weird — island off the coast of Asia, the developers at Crystal Dynamics have returned with a solid follow-up that finds the iconic adventurer tackling snowy peaks, a private military and daddy… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Guitar Hero’ reboot kicks out the jams

Photo provided by Activision -- A player hits a note-streak in this screenshot taken from 'Guitar Hero Live.'

I’ve been to dozens of rock concerts, and there are a few things I’ve always wondered: What’s it like to perform in front of a stadium full of adoring fans? How much nerve does it take to stage-dive into a mosh pit? Why is there a guy wearing a panda costume backstage? “Guitar Hero Live” tries to… Continue reading →

Review: Nintendo gives fans the tools to make over Mario

Photo by Nintendo -- This photo provided by Nintendo shows a scene from the video game, 'Super Mario Maker.' The new game gives you all the objects you need - blocks, pipes, coins, power-ups and enemies - then shows you how to complete the design via a simple click-and-drag interface.

Ever since Mario rescued that damsel from Donkey Kong three decades ago, he’s done some pretty amazing things. He’s a master of golf, tennis and auto racing. He can turn into a raccoon, cat or penguin. He’s even explored outer space. All that may not be enough to prepare him for what his fans are… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Until Dawn’ adds clever twists to teen horror genre

Photo provided by the Associated Press/Sony Computer Entertainment America -- An image of Hayden Panettiere, who voices the character of Samantha, in a scene from the video game, 'Until Dawn.'

Years of horror movies have taught us the proper response to an invitation to spend a weekend at a cabin in the woods: No thanks. If anyone followed that advice, we wouldn’t have “Friday the 13th,” “The Evil Dead” or, well, “The Cabin in the Woods.” But the kids in “Until Dawn” have even more reason to… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Metal Gear Solid V’a technical, tactical marvel

Photo provided by Konami--  Snake searches the desert in a scene from the video game, 'Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.'

In an early mission in “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” the player is tasked with assassinating a corrupt colonel who’s up to no good. While such a chore is standard fare for a video game, “Phantom Pain” provides dozens of ways to off the military leader. Should he be taken down first thing in the… Continue reading →

Reviews: ‘Her Story,’ ‘Contradiction’ revive motion games

Photo provided by Sam Barlow --  A mysterious woman is interrogated about the apparent death of her husband in a scene from 'Her Story.'

For a brief moment in their pixelated history, video games actually featured video. It seemed at first innovatively daring in the 1990s when disc-based titles like “Voyeur” and “The 7th Guest” employed footage of real-world actors. Now, such interactive experiences are remembered as a cheesy fad from a bygone era of gaming. However, a trio… Continue reading →

YouTube stars find acceptance online, in person at VidCon

Associated Press photo -- People make their way to the 6th annual VidCon at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., last week.

Ingrid Nilsen has been brought to tears. The 26-year-old YouTube star openly wept as she was showered with cheers and applause from an enthusiastic crowd upon arrival on stage at last week’s VidCon, the sixth annual celebration of online video. It was just last month that Nilsen, who mostly posts… Continue reading →

Review: Batman takes epic final flight in ‘Arkham Knight’

Photo provided by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. --  In the new video game, 'Batman: Arkham Knight,' Scarecrow has returned on Halloween night to threaten Gotham with a citywide chemical attack.

Rocksteady Studios proved with 2009’s “Batman: Arkham Asylum” that a video game inspired by superhero mythology could be an impeccably cerebral affair, not just another name association money grab. The company affirmed that with the 2011 follow-up, “Batman: Arkham City,” by increasing the Dark Knight’s wingspan in a larger landscape with more fluid movement.… Continue reading →

‘Splatoon’ brings colorful glee to online shooters

Photo provided by Nintendo of America --  The main attraction of the new video game 'Splatoon' is its four-versus-four paintball matches.

Online gaming may be dominated by shootouts like “Call of Duty” and “Halo,” but they’re not exactly family-friendly. It’s not just the copious gore; the explosive profanity that passes for trash talk has driven many a parent to unplug the game console. “Splatoon” (for the Wii U, $59.99) is Nintendo’s noble attempt at creating a multiplayer… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Witcher III’ an intimate story in epic trappings

Photo provided by CD Projekt RED -- Slaying monsters is just one of Geralt of Rivia's many talents in 'The Witcher III: Wild Hunt.'

Geralt of Rivia may be trapped in medieval times, but he’s the epitome of a Renaissance man. The hero of “The Witcher III: Wild Hunt” (Warner Bros., for the) is a monster slayer, a ghost hunter, a swordsman and a wielder of vicious fireballs. Yet he’s also a detective, an alchemist, a playwright and a shameless… Continue reading →

Rocking Out: After 5 years, ‘Guitar Hero,’ ‘Rock Band’ to return

Photo provided by Activision Publishing, Inc. -- An In-game screenshot is shown from 'Guitar Hero Live' from Activision Publishing, Inc.

The publisher of “Guitar Hero” is readying a comeback tour. Activision Blizzard Inc. announced plans Tuesday to resurrect the once-popular video game franchise, which involved players rhythmically tapping guitar-shaped controllers along to music. The new entry scheduled for release this fall is titled “Guitar Hero Live” and introduces a redesigned… Continue reading →

‘Bloodborne’ a punishing trek through a haunted city

Photo provided by Sony -- A hunter battles a mutated tree creature in a haunted Gothic city in a scene from the video game 'Bloodborne.'

There’s something masochistic about video gamers. Even if you’re playing an innocuous-looking game like “Pac-Man,” you will be killed dozens of times before you get any good. “Bloodborne” (Sony, for the PlayStation 4, $59.99) doesn’t waste any time getting to the hard stuff. Almost immediately after it starts, you get eaten by a werewolf. Sure, you… Continue reading →

The war on drugs explodes in ‘Battlefield Hardline’

Photo provided by Electronic Arts -- A SWAT team tries to prevent a gang of thieves from executing a heist in the new video game 'Battlefield Hardline.'

“We’re playing a dangerous game, detective.” Rule of thumb: When a video game character warns you about the game itself, you’re in for some grade-A cheese. And “Battlefield Hardline” (Electronic Arts, for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, $59.99) doesn’t disappoint. The latest entry in EA’s long-running combat franchise represents a… Continue reading →

‘Kardashian’ game maker Glu creating Jenner sisters game

/Invision/AP photo by EVAN AGOSTINI -- Kendall Jenner, left, and Kylie Jenner

— Glu Mobile is keeping up with the Kardashians. The mobile video game developer responsible for the popular “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” game has announced plans to create a game starring Kardashian half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner. The San Francisco-based creator of free-to-play games said the title will feature the likenesses,… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Mario Party 10’ invites ‘amiibo’ figures to play

Photo provided by Nintendo --  'Mario Party 10' cleverly employs Nintendo’s interactive figurine line as virtual board game pieces.

It’s “Mario Party,” but you shouldn’t cry if you want to — especially if you’ve invested in “amiibo.” After mostly acting like wallflowers in Nintendo video games since their debut last year, “amiibo” have stumbled into the spotlight in “Mario Party 10” (Nintendo, $49.99 for the Wii U). The latest iteration of the mini-game series cleverly… Continue reading →

Kirby strikes gold in ‘Rainbow Curse’

Photo provided by Nintendo of America -- Kirby explores an underground level in a scene from the video game 'Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.'

Nintendo’s Kirby is just a pink sphere with feet, arms, eyes and a mouth. He doesn’t appear to pose much of a threat — instead, he looks like a wad of bubble gum that, at worst, you might have to peel off the sole of your shoe. And yet, he’s so flexible that his creators, Tokyo’s… Continue reading →

Knights of ‘The Order’ battle Victorian monsters

Photo provided by Sony Computer Entertainment -- Sir Galahad's the star of the new video game, 'The Order: 1886,' for PlayStation 4.

When a game has “1886” in the title, you expect to see a few familiar characters: Sherlock Holmes, perhaps, or Jack the Ripper, or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You don’t expect the lead to be Sir Galahad. And yet, here the crusty old geezer is starring in “The Order: 1886” (Sony, for the PlayStation 4,… Continue reading →

4 humans gang up on 1 monster in tense ‘Evolve’

Photo provided by Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. -- In the new video game 'Evolve,' a hunter confronts a Goliath on an alien planet.

The monsters in “Evolve” (2K Games, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, $59.99) don’t seem that scary at first glance. Ugly, yes, but nothing your arsenal of flamethrowers and rocket launchers can’t handle. Unfortunately, if you leave the critters alone for just a few minutes they mutate into bone-crushing behemoths that can make short work of… Continue reading →

‘Dying Light’ brings on the nightmare

Photo provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc. -- The new video game 'Dying Light' shares much of its DNA with the 2011 thriller, 'Dead Island.'

The undead in “Dying Light” (Warner Bros., for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, $59.99) are a relatively laid-back bunch. During the daytime, they’re mostly content to idly stumble about the city of Harran, catching some rays while they search for their next helping of human flesh. But when the sun goes down, they become “volatile”… Continue reading →

Designers give new lives to old video games

Photo provided by Deep Silver/Volition Inc. --  Gamers will find voice commands and slightly smoother graphics in 'Saints Row IV: Re-Elected.'

For some video games, what’s old is new again. Following last year’s re-release of “Halo 2,” “The Last of Us” and “Grand Theft Auto V,” several other titles — and one hand-held device — are receiving similar resurrections in 2015. A look at recent revivals: Continue reading →

‘Zelda,’ ‘Batman’ among anticipated games due in 2015

Photo provided by Nintendo -- Developers for 'The Legend of Zelda' promise that Link’s actions will have the ability to reshape his fantasy world.

Link, Master Chief, Batman and Nathan Drake will be back in action. The leading men are among the protagonists starring in totally new video game installments in 2015, joined by newcomers like a team of intergalactic monster hunters and their prey (“Evolve”), a band of high-tech criminals and their tails (“Battlefield… Continue reading →

‘Smash Bros.’ makes brutality adorable

Photo provided by Nintendo -- 'Super Smash Bros. for Wii U' features a few non-Nintendo ringers like Pac-Man and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Every few years, Nintendo rounds up its most popular characters, like Mario, Donkey Kong and Pikachu, and has them beat the daylights out of each other. It’s not exactly blood sport — there are no spine-shattering, “Mortal Kombat”-style fatalities, and everyone walks away smiling. Only Nintendo could make bare-knuckle brawling cute. “Super Smash Bros. for Wii… Continue reading →

Giving the Gift of Gaming: A Buyer’s Guide

Vanamo Media photo by Evan Amos -- For gamers who want to game, choose the PlayStation 4.

With so many options to choose from, picking out the right gaming system for yourself or the gamer in your life can take a Christmas miracle. Do you want cutting-edge graphics? Portability? Kid-friendly fun? Whatever you need, there’s a console that can deliver it this holiday season. 2013 saw the launch of two powerful new consoles: Sony’s… Continue reading →

‘Far Cry 4’ climbs to wild heights

Photo provided by Ubisoft --A scene unfolds in the video game, 'Far Cry 4,' which offers something new to the franchise -- elephants.

At a time when it seems like many first-person shooter creators have run out of ideas, the keepers of the “Far Cry” franchise have cleverly added elephants that can be employed as makeshift tanks in the latest installment of the freewheeling, out-of-control action series. It’s just one of many inventive flourishes that players will stumble across in… Continue reading →

Epic ‘Dragon Age’ blazes new trails

Photo provided by Electronic Arts --  'Dragon Age: Inquisition' takes the fourth spot on Game Informer's Top 10 PlayStation 3 games for February.

Take “The Lord of the Rings,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Wheel of Time” and pretty much every other epic fantasy of the last century. Throw in a shelf full of “Dungeons & Dragons” manuals and a library of classic role-playing games dating back to 1981’s “Wizardry” and “Ultima.” Mix vigorously, and you have some idea of what… Continue reading →

‘Call of Duty’ multiplayer tops rote story

Photo provided by Activision -- 'Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare' offers levels built with polish and detail, but too often feel like they’re simply ticking boxes required for a modern first-person shooter.

Kevin Spacey can’t save “Call of Duty” from itself. But perhaps an Iron Man-like “exoskeleton” can. Spacey plays the egomaniacal leader of a private military corporation in the single-player story mode of “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” (Activision, for the PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, $59.99). Despite often choppy animation of… Continue reading →

‘Civilization’ shoots for the stars

Photo provided by 2K Games -- A scene unfolds in the new video game, 'Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth.'

Our planet isn’t in very good shape. The good news, according to “Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth” (2K Games, for the PC, $49.99), is that we’ll be able to hang around for another 500 years or so. The bad news: After that, we’d better start looking for a new home. It’s not the freshest sci-fi premise… Continue reading →

‘Sunset Overdrive’ a fun, mindless romp

Photo provided by Microsoft -- The new video game, 'Sunset Overdrive,' is set in a doomed metropolis that’s been overrun by mutants, robots and mercenaries after the release of a toxic energy drink.

Usually, dumb video games don’t know they’re dumb video games. That’s not the case with the ludicrously self-aware “Sunset Overdrive” (Microsoft, for the Xbox One, $59.99), a vibrant open-world action game set in a doomed metropolis that’s been overrun by mutants, robots and mercenaries after the release of a toxic energy drink.… Continue reading →

‘Fantasia’ not a harmonious composition

Photo provided by Disney/Harmonix -- The video game 'Fantasia: Music Evolved' ranks No. 9 on the list of family games for the holidays.

Before they fizzled out, my chief compliant about those tap-happy “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” franchises was that they didn’t really teach players anything about music. They were simply color-coded amusements. Now, here comes “Fantasia: Music Evolved” (Disney, for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, $59.99) to take rhythmic superfluousness to a… Continue reading →

‘Evil Within’ is a nightmarish head trip

This image released by Bethesda Softworks shows the cover art for the video game, "The Evil Within." (AP Photo/Bethesda Softworks)

In the video-game world, Shinji Mikami’s name has the same cachet that George Romero and Wes Craven have among moviegoers. Mikami created “Resident Evil,” the 1996 classic usually credited as the first “survival horror” game. He abandoned the series after 2005’s masterly “Resident Evil 4,” and it hasn’t been the same since, rejecting jittery terror for… Continue reading →

Sega's ‘Alien: Isolation’ delivers sci-fi terror

Photo provided by Sega -- The video game 'Alien: Isolation' takes place 15 years after the original film 'Alien.'

Ridley Scott’s “Alien” has inspired dozens of video games since its debut in 1979, but “Alien: Isolation” (Sega, for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, $59.95) is the first in a while that has aspired to the claustrophobic terror of the original film. Is “Isolation” that bone-chilling and nerve-wracking? Not quite, but… Continue reading →

New ‘Skylanders’ delights, frustrates

Photo provided by Activision -- In the new 'Skylanders Trap Team,' most of the action involves exploring the islands, beating up enemies and collecting loot.

There’s a peculiar kind of tension at work in Activision’s wildly successful Skylanders series. If you just want a dozen or so hours of fun, with fast-paced action and an amusing story, a $75 starter pack will get the job done. But if you want to see every little thing packed into a Skylanders game, be prepared… Continue reading →

‘Shadow of Mordor’ grabs the gold ring

Photo provided by Warner Bros. Entertainment -- A ranger named Talion and his ghostly companion invade an orc fortress in the new video game 'Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.'

“The Lord of the Rings” has inspired hundreds of video games, but there’s never been a great one based directly on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic. Until now. “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” (Warner Bros., for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $59.99) is the most satisfying virtual adventure ever set in Tolkien’s world. And one… Continue reading →

Avengers assemble in ‘Disney Infinity 2.0’

Photo provided by Disney Interactive --   Figurines Thor, from left, Iron Man and Black Widow, accompany the new 'Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes' game.

For kids today, there’s no escaping The Walt Disney Co. Even if Mickey Mouse, “Toy Story” and all the Disney princesses leave you cold, the company also owns Marvel Comics, the Star Wars franchise and the Muppets. The jocks on your block are probably hooked on Disney’s ESPN. The “Infinity” project is Disney’s attempt to link… Continue reading →

Ambitious ‘Destiny’ lacks imagination

Photo provided by Activision -- 'Destiny,' a new science fiction epic from 'Halo' creators Bungie, has several gorgeous, radically different worlds to explore.

Midway through “Destiny,” the new science fiction epic from “Halo” creators Bungie, a smug prince is musing on the hero’s desire to visit a mysterious site on Mars. “You want to turn it into a battleground,” the prince sneers. “How unimaginative.” It’s exactly the thought that nagged me when I was playing “Destiny” (Activision,… Continue reading →