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House Of The Dying Sun Review – Short, Sweet, And Somewhat Sentimental

While the space flight simulation genre continues to find support and solace in what promises to be a new era of multi-faceted offerings with games like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen, sometimes you just want that feeling of dogfighting in your local arcade cockpit with a slice of pizza dripping onto your shirt as you blast an enemy starfighter to smithereens, watching the pixels burst. House of the Dying Sun taps into a lost era of starfighting simulation, successfully evoking the feeling of a classic space shooter like X-Wing, TIE Fighter, or Starlancer. If you’re looking for a story, forget it; it’s as cliché and barebones as they come. If you’re looking for tight gameplay, great music, and intense dogfighting, you’ve come to the right place.

A minimalistic story could be a serious detriment to other games, but the focus is clear here: Gameplay and space combat take center stage. Arcade-style movement with the ability to drift and brake on a dime after boosting to dodge a locked-on enemy combatant is satisfying, and you don’t need a HOTAS setup to enjoy it either – the core mouse and keyboard controls work great. 

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With an upgradable arsenal of autocannons, heavy weapons, and sleek maneuvering around asteroids and other craft, you unleash hell on the enemies of the Emperor. The concept is simple and so are the missions, tasking the player to destroy enemy ships, defend allied assets, or run escort duty. Dogfighting in your craft with enemy fighters zipping around asteroids is intense fun, and missions are a quick restart if you run into an errant piece of space debris. The constant pace of combat is immersive and exciting, with the threat of enemy reinforcements always moments away, forcing you to complete your task and warp away before more difficult opponents join the fray.

It takes a a few mid-tier missions to really get the hang of ship control, assigning your other pilots tasks while shooting around the sky, and hopping into your allied vessels when your first option is turned into scrap, but the challenge summons a nostalgic feeling I enjoyed, though there’s little variety in mission structure or tasks.

The core game and missions can be completed in just a few hours, but many additional unlocks and challenges can keep the journey through space rolling for those seriously looking for more. Short length is not necessarily a negative point to a game, but it’s a noticeable detriment here, offering a tiny taste of what a full-fledged title could be within the same framework and strong mechanics.

Within the brief campaign, content offerings are sparse and consist mainly of tougher difficulty encounters or a challenge mode – simple, barebones stuff with graphics that don’t really live up to today’s standards. While the visuals are functional and crisp, they don’t need to be as blast-from-the-past as the rest of the title.

House of the Dying Sun is light on content offerings and depth, but big on giving players a modern day chance to experience the great gameplay that defined classic space shooters of an era long past.

Dogfighting In VR
House of the Dying Sun’s lightweight graphics and laser-focus on crisp combat lend themselves admirably to a VR experience. If you have either a Rift or Vive, those should be your first choice for hopping into the pilot’s seat. – The Feed

Check Out These Sweet New Amiibo Stands

The video game peripheral company Performance Digital Products (PDP) recently revealed three new amiibo stands based on the Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and Legend Of Zelda series. And they're really awesome.

On display is a three-level stand based on the 1981 Donkey Kong arcade game with space for nine figures, a Master Sword display, and a Bowser's Castle-inspired display with a spinning fire bar. While the first two have already sold-out, the latter is now available for pre-order. Check them out in the gallery below. 

It was recently announced PDP would team up with Harmonix to co-publish Rock Band.

[Source: PDP – The Feed

King’s Quest Chapter 3: Once Upon A Climb Review – The Fantasy Sweet

King Graham is in a funk. Now that he’s made good on his goal of ruling Daventry and proving he’s a capable leader, what else is left? Judging from the not-so-subtle hints from his guards, the answer is clear: a partner. A quick look at his throne room’s magic mirror confirms it, and he sets out to find the love of his life. As he (and the player) is about to find out, however, there are several complicated steps between meeting a maiden and living happily ever after.

Whether you’re known as Graham the brave, wise, or compassionate, your travels take you to a far-off tower to meet the love of your life. Unfortunately, the mirror only told part of the story. When Graham finally scales the structure, he discovers a pair of princesses. Vee is pragmatic and clever, while Neese is exuberant and compassionate. The tower is an equally complicated character of sorts, and without spoiling too much, Graham finds himself as trapped as the princesses he was hoping to rescue. Fortunately, there’s lemonade to be made from the otherwise sour situation, and the three seize the opportunity to get to know each other better.

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King’s Quest’s first chapter featured a sprawling kingdom, and the second followed it up with a sizeable subterranean network of goblin caves. The action in the Once Upon A Climb doesn’t take place on as large a stage, but the charming characters get a lot of use from a smallish hub section and a variety of single-screen locations. Given the mileage I’ve had to put on Graham’s boots over the first two chapters, I was frankly relieved to get a break from the back-and-forth traveling that seems necessary in adventure games.

Much of the action (and associated puzzles) revolve around the characters playing off each other. One highlight is an extended section around a board game called Moral Quarrel, where each of the three provides answers to a variety of ethical dilemmas, and they have to anticipate how other players will answer. You get to explore outside the tower via several one-on-one outings, where Graham and Vee or Neese have to (surprise!) solve puzzles. I got a weird feeling like I was on an episode of The Bachelor at times, especially when moments popped up where I could tell that my actions were being scrutinized. When a fierce-looking beast approaches, growling, should I feed it an arrow or take Vee’s advice to hold fire? Would Neese be more impressed by working through an obstacle using my puzzle-solving skills or brute strength? 

Actor Wallace Shawn reprises his role as Manny, but even if that weren’t the case, a Princess Bride vibe runs throughout Once Upon A Climb. The series continues to be charming and funny, and this chapter’s comparatively smaller scope results in more focused puzzles. I groaned at a solution after thinking about things too hard a couple of times, but overall it’s tricky but fair.

Moving forward, I’m curious to see how my choice of a partner is reflected in the game – especially since we know from the classic games that Graham’s eventual wife is named Valanice. Are Vee and Neese’s names simply clever wordplay to accommodate player choice, or is something else going to happen in the future? My playthrough of chapter two included a pair of deaths, but they were glossed over in the latest entry. To say that it was jarring to talk to these characters again as though nothing had happened would be an understatement. The Odd Gentlemen could have intended for the character departures to be a fake out, but it felt more like a copout. Even though I wasn’t happy that they died, it feels cheap to find out that, well, they didn’t. Dead people walking aside, the effects from chapter to chapter seem to be subtle overall. Characters refer to my compassion and occasional missteps, and that’s fine by me.

In addition to telling its own capsule story about how Graham got his groove on, Once Upon A Climb also continues to propel the narrative about Manny and his brother, which has been a continuing thread – along with old Graham’s failing health. Judging from Graham’s condition, it seems ever-so-likely that this tale will have a bittersweet ending. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the journey. – The Feed

Eight Tips From The Division Devs To Help You Get Some Sweet Loot

Yesterday, I ventured into New York City (the real one, not the plague-ridden version in The Division) to catch up with two members of The Division team. Producer Tony Sturtzel and game director Terry Spier from Red Storm shared some tips to get the most out of your early hours.

We also pried out a secret waiting for intrepid agents. They wouldn’t get too specific, but the hints have us excited for what might be waiting on the streets of New York.

Get Hard!
You can play The Division alone, taking on missions to restore New York City to its former glory. However, Ubisoft Massive and its cohort studios (Red Storm, Reflections, and Annecy) built The Division for cooperative play.

You can get a leg up early on by rounding up your team and pushing yourself to the limits. “Maybe I’m kind of a sucker for pain, but I recommend doing as many hard missions as possible first, even if you’re under-geared,” Spier says. “The kind of gear you get from hard missions is going to push you over the curve. You’ll get better faster if you do a main mission and then do it on hard right away.”

You’ve Got a Friend in Me
Even if you don’t have friends online, keep an eye on what other agents are doing. Stepping in to help someone in trouble might end up benefitting you in the long-run. 

“Find some friends to group up with,” Sturtzel says. “One of the best ways to do that is to help people out, especially in the Dark Zone. If you help someone finish their extraction (and you don’t shoot them), chances are you can partner up to get through some of the harder areas. That inevitably is going to lead to better gear. It’s all about leveling. We’re an RPG.”

Be a Specialist, Not a Jack-of-all-Trades
You’ll notice early on that you have three main branches to put stat points into. You'll be shunted into the Medical branch early on, with Tech and Security missions requiring a higher level to complete.

You can re-spec at any time, so there’s no harm in driving right down the Medical lane. But once you have access to more skills, you’ll still be better positioned if you hone in and specialize. Don't worry, you can change things up on the fly later if you don't like your selections.

The same goes for your gear. You want to equip yourself with gear that boosts one of the three main stats: health, firearms (damage), and electronics (skill power).

“Pick a stat,” Spier says. “Everyone has their own play style, but find the gear with the stat that you want to focus on. If you want to crunch out the DPS, or high health, or your skills to really kill people, don’t just generalize. Find the gear that has the stats you want.”

The emphasis on these stats might mean choosing a weapon with lower damage output that focuses on your key attribute. We don’t know the extent of the min-maxing players can do, but these top-level choices matter.

Part of those decisions come in the form of weapon mods. We saw a bit of it in the beta, but there’s more to explore.

“They help you drill down a lot more into your specific play style,” Sturtzel says. “So you may be maximizing your skill power, but a mod may have a talent on it.” Putting together a build that takes into account gear, weapons, and mod talents and attributes will allow you to tune to maximize your specific approach.

Follow the Boy Scout Motto
Because you can re-spec your skills at any point, The Division offers flexibility. From one play session to the next, you can be a tank, a healer, or dish out DPS. However, you might be missing one important piece of the puzzle: gear.

It’s all well and good to change up your skills, but if you don’t have the weapons, mods, and gear in support, you’re not going to be as effective. 

“Assuming you’ve prepared for this moment, and you have the gear for health and you’ve got the healing skills (assuming you’ve unlocked them through the campaign), it’s fast,” Spier says. You can re-mod a gun on the fly, and mods aren’t consumed if removed from a weapon. You just want to make sure you’re prepared and carrying the right gear with you to fully make the change. 

Playing Casually? Don’t Go to the Dark Zone
In addition to the strictly cooperative aspects, there is a player-vs-player-vs-A.I. area called the Dark Zone. There, you’ll be able to find great loot, but also run the risk of losing it to other players that have turned rogue. Red Storm suggests that you keep your wits about you when entering this difficult area. If you want to play more casually, stick to the PvE zones.

“You can’t mess around in the Dark Zone,” Spier says. “If you just want to laze around, don’t go to the Dark Zone, because you’ll lose. It’s difficult from an A.I. perspective. You have to be on.”

In the Dark Zone, you can turn rogue by attacking other players. The benefit is that you can bypass much of the work tied to getting the best loot. The trick is that going rogue marks you for a limited amount of time that grows as you kill more agents.

A bounty will be placed on your head and you'll be hunted. But if you manage to hide and let the timer wind down, you'll get to keep your loot, and the bounty will be yours. Get killed, and your Dark Zone rank goes down, you lose the loot, and someone else will get rich from taking you out.

“The Dark Zone is all about greed,” Spier says. “You want to take a shortcut. The people who have the pretty, little, yellow sack on their back, they’ve done things. They’ve killed AI and looted some chests. You can take that from them. The reward you get from surviving is the rush. How far can you go knowing the entire Dark Zone is after you?”

In order to survive your rogue status, you need to wait for a timer to wind down. Should you manage to outlast the clock, you’ll get the gear, the bounty, a rank boost, and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve outsmarted other agents. But before that timer runs out, you’re marked, and you can’t leave the Dark Zone.

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Now You See Me…
This one isn’t going to apply to everyone, but if you happen to have an eye-tracker, you might want to turn it on for The Division. Both the Tobii EyeX and SteelSeries Sentry support a number of gaze-based features. You can use the eye-tracking software to mark enemies for your friends, aim grenades, identify additional cover, and even scale back the user interface so that individual elements are triggered only when you look at that area of the screen.

“Given some time with that system, it’s going to be crazy,” Spier said. “It’s definitely a positive.”

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Easter Eggs
While Spier and Sturtzel were largely quiet about specific hidden items, we did get a few hints. First, we were encouraged to visit well-known landmarks. “If you know a landmark, go there,” Spier says. “You’ll probably find something.” He wouldn’t say just what form that would take, though.

The pair suggest that the Dark Zone is where the best loot can be found, and it also holds some of the game's secrets. Specifically, we were encouraged to explore the subways. “The subways in the Dark Zone? That’s a great place to go to,” Sturtzel says.

“Also, Rockefeller,” Spier suggests. “It’s ridiculous.”

In the real Rockefeller Center, there’s an underground concourse where you can find a subway station. The Division’s subway also connects to the shopping area that exists there in the real New York. “The kind of depth we were able to create there, and the difficulty… it could be one of the most rewarding spots in the game,” Sturtzel says. “It’s not easy.”

Familiar Faces
While we couldn’t get specifics, we were told that there are nods to other Ubisoft games hidden within The Division. If you happen to get a loot drop that looks familiar, let us know. We’re curious what might be lurking in the darkened corners of New York City. – The Feed

Test Chamber – A Bridge Troll With A Sweet Tooth In King’s Quest Chapter I

The Odd Gentlemen and Sierra Entertainment have allied to bring back the legendary adventure game series, King's Quest. The first chapter of the episodic game, A Knight to Remember, is available now, and it's a whimsical good time (read my review). Come along with us as we take a stroll down King Graham's memory lane, go ingredient hunting for a baker, and meet a…well-connected denizen of Daventry.

Andrew Reiner and I pick up from where his save last left off: on a mission to collect the eye of a hideous beast so that Graham can enter a tournament to become the knight he's destined to be. If you're sensitive to solutions for puzzle spoilers, then please avert your eyes. Otherwise, if you're looking for a good example of what players will be doing in Daventry, please join us by watching the episode below.

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King's Quest Chapter I: A Knight to Remember is available now on 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

For more Test Chamber, click the banner below, or check out our hub. – The Feed

Check Out This Sweet BioShock-Themed Desk

What did you do with your weekend? One talented BioShock fan and woodworker made and stained a desk in honor of their favorite franchise.

Reddit user marino1310 posted the fruits of their labor on the site. Marino mentions that the images were cut out of tape and used to block the stain in certain areas.

Check out the full desk image on the creator's original imgur post.

[via: Reddit] – The Feed

Anna Sweet is the latest Valve employee to join Oculus

The longtime Valve frontwoman has recently joined Oculus (alongside Google’s Mary Lou Jepsen) and will be serving as the VR company’s head of developer strategy going forward. …

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Free Aliens vs. Predator Classic 2000 on GOG now, not a sweet music festival

“Hello, Internet!” screams Good Old Games as it steps to the mic. “Are you ready to rock?!” Guitars squall, a banner covered with snarling beasts drops from the background, and fireworks erupt from the back of the stage: It’s Alien vs. Predator…
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Costume Quest 2 review: Sweet tarts

PC, Mac and Linux. Also coming to PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, Xbox 360 and PS3

A pterodactyl, a wizard and Thomas Jefferson walk into a bar that exclusively serves candy. No, this isn’t the set-up for an old-school joke; this is Costume Quest 2 from…
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Check out your sweet Xbox One achievements online

Xbox has updated its site to include achievement listings for Xbox One games you’ve played. You’ll need to log in, but all of your wonderful Xbox One accomplishments should be on display right here….
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