Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

It's been many years since a Spider-Man game has truly given me the sense of being the friendly neighborhood webhead. I wasn't sure what to expect when I tried out Marvel's Spider-Man for the first time, but as I swung across New York for the first time, I started to get the sense of what it truly meant to be the web-slinging superhero.

But just being Spider-Man is one part of the formula. There's more to being Spidey than just swinging across the city. Shacknews got a taste of that formula after going hands-on with the first couple of hours of Insomniac's upcoming superhero action game.

It's easy to tune out the opening tutorial mission, because of how vast the city of New York looks and feels. But it doesn't truly feel like a playground until Spidey starts swinging for the first time. The locomotion is incredibly fluid, with Spidey able to swing, runs up walls, and boost forward with a slick smoothness that hasn't been present in Spider-Man games in years.

As much fun as it is to swing around the world endlessly, the tutorial mission does start, establishing that this is a veteran Spider-Man. Peter Parker has been New York's guardian for eight years, fresh off his college graduation. He's in constant communication with the police dispatch radio and has a direct line with NYPD Captain Yuri Watanabe, who informs him that the police have Wilson Fisk dead to rights and have him cornered in Fisk Tower. But this being the Kingpin, Fisk isn't going down without a fight and has the police on the ropes.

Spidey's mission is to catch Fisk before he can escape, which introduces the game's combat mechanics. Anyone familiar with other superhero games, like the Arkham Asylum games, will be pleased to see the crisp combat at work. Spidey can punch out baddies with long-string combos or switch back-and-forth between enemies, while his Spider Sense gives him cues to dodge incoming danger, like fists or high-impact rockets. Webs can be integrated into combos, with weakened enemies able to be webbed to walls and floors outright. Players can also grab nearby objects with webs and swing them right into foes. As Spidey builds up his combo bar, he can use the full bar to either heal himself up or use it as a one-hit kill on enemies.

Eventually, Spidey catches up with Fisk, who muses about the eight years that they've been adversaries. This segues into the game's first boss battle, in which Fisk charges like a raging bull. He can only be slowed by Spidey's web shots, at which point he becomes open to combos. It's a good warm-up for similar enemy types that will appear later in the game.

Once Fisk is taken down, his apprehension opens up an interesting quandary. Fisk points out that with his clout in the underworld, he kept much of the criminal element in check. Because nature abhors a vacuum, Fisk's absence would open the door to lesser criminals to try and take his place.

Sure enough, as the game goes on, Fisk proves to be right. Petty crime is heavily on the rise across New York, with Spider-Man given the option to stop these thugs. Examples of crimes that will pop up include muggings, jewelry store thefts, drug deals, and even high-speed chases. To this point, the resemblances to Activision and Neversoft's classic Spider-Man 2 were noticeable, but this was where I started to see some improvements from that game. Spidey wasn't wasting side-missions on fetching balloons or delivering pizzas, he was actually being a hero. There's also a separate set of side missions involving construction sites acting as fronts for Fisk's criminal dealings. These begin with Arkham Asylum-style stealth missions, with Spidey able to score various web-based takedowns without being detected. However, these will quickly break down into wave-based ambushes, putting players through more of an endurance test than anything else.

The side content is plentiful, going beyond the aforementioned petty crimes. Players can track down old backpacks that Spidey lost track of over the years or take pictures of landmarks, with each side mission awarding XP and special tokens to help upgrade his abilities and his suits. There are dozens of suits available over the course of the game, each with unique traits and special moves. As useful as it was to refill my combo bar quickly, there was something fun about using the classic Spider-Man suit to web up all lesser enemies on-screen almost instantly. For those who want the powers and also to pick out their own fashions, suits and suit powers can be mixed and matches as the new suits are unlocked. Further on the subject of side missions, I couldn't help but notice that even with dozens of collectible types to collect, I couldn't help but notice that the pause menu had a lot of "LOCKED" collectibles, indicating that there's far more that wasn't in the demo that will be out there for the full game.

All of it can be a little tough to find, which makes it helpful that players can upgrade the city's cell towers. Located across New York, Spidey can fix up any towers with amplification-matching mini-game. Any repaired towers can help show off the locations of any nearby collectibles.

As for the story, Fisk's arrest also opened the door to a new villain. Players get to meet the underlings of Mr. Negative, who are seeking out certain items still in Fisk's possession. One of them is in the local museum, with a collection donated by Fisk. This is where players are thrown into a hostage situation and tasked with getting through all of these foes silently. This is a more intense version of the construction sites, with Spidey having more limited space to work with. Although he does have vents he can crawl around in and help aid in his takedowns.

This scenario also introduces Mary Jane Watson, with the game quickly establishing that she's aware of Spider-Man's identity. However, Peter and MJ have been on the outs for at least six months, so while they're still friends, they're not so much an item anymore. Peter and MJ's first meeting segues into the first of the playable Mary Jane Watson missions, which flashes back to show how the museum heist began.

The MJ mission is more about stealth, information gathering, and photography. She's there to take pictures of Fisk's collection, but is also looking to find certain secrets about the museum being a front for illegal activity. The toughest aspect of these missions involved sneaking past the curator to get into a locked room filled with secrets. There's no combat in MJ's missions, at least not yet. A cutscene showed she's more than willing to take down a bad guy herself if she has the tools available to her, so there may yet be a stealth combat scenario coming for Ms. Watson.

All of this is a small sample of what players can expect with Marvel's Spider-Man, which is looking more and more like all of the best elements of the classic Spider-Man 2 mixed in with the free-flowing combat elements of the Arkham games. With a glut of side content and a massive city to explore, this is looking to be one of the biggest Spider-Man adventures ever made. Even after four hours, I still didn't even scratch the surface of Spidey's rogues gallery, which gives me the idea that this is going to be quite the lengthy story. And the more story, the better, because the most memotable Spider-Man tales are the ones that squeeze in the best of Spidey and the best of Peter Parker.

Marvel's Spider-Man is almost ready to swing in. It's set to release exclusively on PlayStation 4 on September 7, along with a special PS4 Pro bundle.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Rend is an ambitious project that blends a few genres to make a potentially legendary competitive fantasy adventure experience that hasn't been replicated in many other experiences. With some top tier talent on staff, Frostkeep Studios is charging forward with the game's development and allowing curious gamers to give it a go with the Steam Early Access launch, which went live today, July 31, 2018.

In Rend,  players join one of three factions and work with teammates to survive the vividly beautiful, yet brutal shattered remains of Midgard. The game pairs RPG mechanics, sandbox elements, factional combat, and massive battles with win/loss conditions to introduce a new gaming experience to the survival genre.

“Since we first announced Rend, we have been developing it side by side with our players through Pre-Alpha and Alpha testing and by gathering feedback through Discord and our official channels,” said Jeremy Wood, co-founder and CEO, Frostkeep Studios, in the press release. “Our goal has always been to transform the way players interact and participate in survival games while delivering on the fantasy that they have come to expect from this genre.”

Rend is available on Steam right now for $39.99. The Shacknews team will be diving into Rend very soon, so stay tuned for gameplay and impression here on Shacknews. Don't forget to subscribe to our Shacknews and GamerHubTV YouTube channels.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Rend is an ambitious project that blends a few genres to make a potentially legendary competitive fantasy adventure experience that hasn't been replicated in many other experiences. With some top tier talent on staff, Frostkeep Studios is charging forward with the game's development and allowing curious gamers to give it a go with the Steam Early Access launch, which went live today, July 31, 2018.

In Rend,  players join one of three factions and work with teammates to survive the vividly beautiful, yet brutal shattered remains of Midgard. The game pairs RPG mechanics, sandbox elements, factional combat, and massive battles with win/loss conditions to introduce a new gaming experience to the survival genre.

“Since we first announced Rend, we have been developing it side by side with our players through Pre-Alpha and Alpha testing and by gathering feedback through Discord and our official channels,” said Jeremy Wood, co-founder and CEO, Frostkeep Studios, in the press release. “Our goal has always been to transform the way players interact and participate in survival games while delivering on the fantasy that they have come to expect from this genre.”

Rend is available on Steam right now for $39.99. The Shacknews team will be diving into Rend very soon, so stay tuned for gameplay and impression here on Shacknews. Don't forget to subscribe to our Shacknews and GamerHubTV YouTube channels.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Greetings,

I'm Charles Singletary Jr aka the News Editor for Shacknews.com. I've been with the team for almost one year at the time this was published and it has truly been an incredible ride thus far. I'm pretty terrible at writing about myself so, whenever I do find the energy to do so, that effort is recycled as often as needed.

Thus, you'll find that the bio below my Staff Select interview is one that takes pieces from my personal author website. I wanted to at least write this and say hello to you all. I greatly appreciate the support and engagement of a community that has been around for so long and I look forward to learning, growing, and gaming with you.

Peace and much love,

CSJR

Charles is a writer born in Stuttgart, Germany, raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and currently living in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to these various dwelling, additional travel has influenced his creativity in a positive way by breaking him out of his comfort zone and exposing him to different perspectives. His interest and adoration of creative fiction in different forms (comics, video games, film, etc) evolved into a desire to become an influential part of those industries on various levels. Exactly how to do so has been something he's researched and explored in his nearly ten years of writing. His passions are reflected in both his day job as well as side projects, a marriage of desires he'd only dreamed of until recently.

He has covered entertainment media with a focus on gaming, comics, Hip Hop, and film on various smaller websites in the past along with his own blogs, but took the professional leap into entertainment journalism in 2014. He's written editorials, listicles, blog posts, news updates, and more. 

Charles, along with his wonderful friend Katie aka Pikachulita, hosts the Coins 2 Continue podcast on the Blindbox Network. After having entertaining regular appearances on other podcasts and YouTube videos, the two have teamed up to deliver their own flavorful coverage of the gaming industry. You can listen to the podcast on iTunesStitcherPodbeanSoundcloud, and Google Play.

He's written short fiction for a long while, only sharing his creations since around 2007. He has gotten back to writing regularly and is pursuing opportunities related to it as well. Charles is also creating a book series on indie game development called Going Indie alongside friend and fellow writer David Jagneaux. 

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Greetings,

I'm Charles Singletary Jr aka the News Editor for Shacknews.com. I've been with the team for almost one year at the time this was published and it has truly been an incredible ride thus far. I'm pretty terrible at writing about myself so, whenever I do find the energy to do so, that effort is recycled as often as needed.

Thus, you'll find that the bio below my Staff Select interview is one that takes pieces from my personal author website. I wanted to at least write this and say hello to you all. I greatly appreciate the support and engagement of a community that has been around for so long and I look forward to learning, growing, and gaming with you.

Peace and much love,

CSJR

Charles is a writer born in Stuttgart, Germany, raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and currently living in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to these various dwelling, additional travel has influenced his creativity in a positive way by breaking him out of his comfort zone and exposing him to different perspectives. His interest and adoration of creative fiction in different forms (comics, video games, film, etc) evolved into a desire to become an influential part of those industries on various levels. Exactly how to do so has been something he's researched and explored in his nearly ten years of writing. His passions are reflected in both his day job as well as side projects, a marriage of desires he'd only dreamed of until recently.

He has covered entertainment media with a focus on gaming, comics, Hip Hop, and film on various smaller websites in the past along with his own blogs, but took the professional leap into entertainment journalism in 2014. He's written editorials, listicles, blog posts, news updates, and more. 

Charles, along with his wonderful friend Katie aka Pikachulita, hosts the Coins 2 Continue podcast on the Blindbox Network. After having entertaining regular appearances on other podcasts and YouTube videos, the two have teamed up to deliver their own flavorful coverage of the gaming industry. You can listen to the podcast on iTunesStitcherPodbeanSoundcloud, and Google Play.

He's written short fiction for a long while, only sharing his creations since around 2007. He has gotten back to writing regularly and is pursuing opportunities related to it as well. Charles is also creating a book series on indie game development called Going Indie alongside friend and fellow writer David Jagneaux. 

Shacknews - Sponsored Post

So, you’ve decided to jump into Total War: ARENA and wage war on your enemies. Maybe you want to combine the Defensive Infantry skills of Leonidas to hold down the enemy while your friend quickly flanks with Hannibal, or maybe you want to rain death upon your foe using Cynane’s archers while your friend pushes through the enemy as Germanicus. Either way, you want to get your friends on board and wage war as a group, rather than trying it alone. Understandable. After all, everything is better with friends. Here’s what you’ll need to get ready to jump into battle with friends in Total War: ARENA.

First, you’ll need to start by adding your friends to your friends list in Total War: ARENA. On the top-left section of the display, there are a series of options you can choose from, such as the Squad and Tech Trees. The one we’ll be focusing on right now is the Social category. Once you’ve clicked on Social, you are shown a screen where you can select Friends & Party, Private Lobby, and Forum. By default, the Friends & Party is selected, which is where you want to be.

As a part of this particular sub-menu, you are able to search for friends and then add them. All you need to do is type in the name your friend is using for the game and hit search, then they should show up as one of two drop-down lists. Simply click on their name and you’ll be given the option to send them a message, view their profile, add them as a friend, and invite them to your party. You don’t have to add them as a friend to invite them to a party, but adding them as a friend will make the process faster next time you all jump on to play.

Now that you’re all partied up, you’re ready to dive straight into the action. For the first few battles you’ll be playing against AI, at least until you and your friends have unlocked some higher-tier units to play with. Once you reach tier three with your units, then you’ll be able to dive into the action against other people, but for now you’ll need to prove your worth against the Total War: ARENA AI.

The next step in fighting as a cohesive squad is making sure that you and your friends have a balanced army. You can see what Commander and units your friends are bringing to the battle once they ready up. This allows you to make plans with one another to pick complementary armies. Maybe you want some Hoplites or Heavy Infantry to tie up the enemy forces while your friend’s archers fire safely from behind, or if you’re feeling particularly tactical, maybe you could have some Cavalry waiting in the wings to flank the enemy once your friends engage.

Additionally, before you launch into a battle, all the units in your party, including your friend’s units, must be within one tier of each other. This is to prevent you from accidentally dragging your friend into a battle that his or her units are not equipped to face. As long as you meet those restrictions, you’re all good to go. Once you have the units and Commanders you want to use, everyone except the party leader should ready up, which simply means clicking the bright red button in the top middle of the screen where “Play” would normally be. Once the party is ready, the party leader can queue everyone for battle and the action can begin. So, saddle up and start sharpening your blades, it’s time to go to war in Total War: ARENA.

Shacknews - Sponsored Post

So, you’ve decided to jump into Total War: ARENA and wage war on your enemies. Maybe you want to combine the Defensive Infantry skills of Leonidas to hold down the enemy while your friend quickly flanks with Hannibal, or maybe you want to rain death upon your foe using Cynane’s archers while your friend pushes through the enemy as Germanicus. Either way, you want to get your friends on board and wage war as a group, rather than trying it alone. Understandable. After all, everything is better with friends. Here’s what you’ll need to get ready to jump into battle with friends in Total War: ARENA.

First, you’ll need to start by adding your friends to your friends list in Total War: ARENA. On the top-left section of the display, there are a series of options you can choose from, such as the Squad and Tech Trees. The one we’ll be focusing on right now is the Social category. Once you’ve clicked on Social, you are shown a screen where you can select Friends & Party, Private Lobby, and Forum. By default, the Friends & Party is selected, which is where you want to be.

As a part of this particular sub-menu, you are able to search for friends and then add them. All you need to do is type in the name your friend is using for the game and hit search, then they should show up as one of two drop-down lists. Simply click on their name and you’ll be given the option to send them a message, view their profile, add them as a friend, and invite them to your party. You don’t have to add them as a friend to invite them to a party, but adding them as a friend will make the process faster next time you all jump on to play.

Now that you’re all partied up, you’re ready to dive straight into the action. For the first few battles you’ll be playing against AI, at least until you and your friends have unlocked some higher-tier units to play with. Once you reach tier three with your units, then you’ll be able to dive into the action against other people, but for now you’ll need to prove your worth against the Total War: ARENA AI.

The next step in fighting as a cohesive squad is making sure that you and your friends have a balanced army. You can see what Commander and units your friends are bringing to the battle once they ready up. This allows you to make plans with one another to pick complementary armies. Maybe you want some Hoplites or Heavy Infantry to tie up the enemy forces while your friend’s archers fire safely from behind, or if you’re feeling particularly tactical, maybe you could have some Cavalry waiting in the wings to flank the enemy once your friends engage.

Additionally, before you launch into a battle, all the units in your party, including your friend’s units, must be within one tier of each other. This is to prevent you from accidentally dragging your friend into a battle that his or her units are not equipped to face. As long as you meet those restrictions, you’re all good to go. Once you have the units and Commanders you want to use, everyone except the party leader should ready up, which simply means clicking the bright red button in the top middle of the screen where “Play” would normally be. Once the party is ready, the party leader can queue everyone for battle and the action can begin. So, saddle up and start sharpening your blades, it’s time to go to war in Total War: ARENA.

Shacknews - Charles Singletary

Wargaming's free-to-play game World of Tanks has thrived in a huge way on PC and has a strong presence on consoles, but the studio recognized a major opportunity for growth there. The PS4 and Xbox One communities have different expectations and desires from the PC gaming community and one of those is a strong single-player or cooperative campaign. Mercenaries is the expansion to World of Tanks that launched on June 26, 2018, and aims to address the desire for a narrative experience in World of Tanks. I attended a press event in Minnesota where I was able to discuss the conception of Mercenaries with narrative designer Darold Higa and get a better understanding of what new and old players can expect from it.

“We’re all console players," Higa says. "A single-player experience has always been a part when you have a multiplayer game. So we knew we were going to shoot for that at some point. The community kept saying ‘hey, we want more tanks’ and they reacted very favorably to the fact we introduced characters in War Stories.”

The World of Tanks team originally teased the world of this expansion via a War Story called Spoils of War. Before that, the team was flirting with the idea and building the infrastructure to sustain it. The launch of Mercenaries essentially was a result of the favorable response to Spoils of War.

“The tanks are still the main focus and our characters, but now we can bring in this universe that has these colorful and cool and interesting characters. And the players like that! That’s how it kind of expanded," he says.

With World of Tanks focusing so heavily on historical accuracy when it comes to the tanks themselves, it was only a matter of time before the team ran out of material. Introducing a world of mercenaries that have no particular loyalty to a nation opens the floodgates on creativity for players and the design team, allowing for vehicle parts to be mixed and matched onto a custom tank. While this is obviously a perfect evolution to the gameplay experience, one that extends the life of World of Tanks for the players, it's not a complete departure from the game's relation to real life events and tanks.

“Historically it was done," Higa tells me. "For instance, after the war, the French had to fight a conflict in Algeria and they had a bunch of surplus of American chassis but it didn’t have a big enough gun. They had a tank gun that was more suited to what they needed because of that they ended up hybridizing two of these tanks. The Israelis did this too.”

“It’s usually not the major tank producing nations. They don’t need to do that. They design a new tank. But what a lot of other countries were doing was saying ‘hey, let’s take this WW2 surplus’ or ‘let’s take these things that we have available like captured tanks or whatever’ and we’re going to convert them into something that we use in a more modern setting. That’s kind of the historical inspiration but some of our community said it’d be really cool if you had these hybrid tanks and since they’re from no ‘one’ nation why not make them mercenaries.”

If you've already been playing World of Tanks, you've probably more than enough time and experience to dive into the Mercenaries narrative on PS4 and Xbox One. What about new players? Is this an end-game experience that they'll have to grind for? Not at all. The Spoils of War experience will be available and serves an introduction to the Mercenaries world, which will be available to you in full pretty quickly. Higa does recommend new players get a feel for the game by playing a across multiple modes before diving into multiplayer, but Mercenaries isn't going to be barred off from new players.

The console version of World of Tanks isn't simply a port from the PC version, as many likely expected. This version was built from the ground up by a team with console development pedigree and Mercenaries is the result of honing in on the desires of a console community. We'll be diving into the game and sharing more from the press event hosted by Wargaming, so stay tuned to Shacknews for more.

Shacknews - Chris Jarrard

While the fine folks at Bullfrog practically invented the amusement park management genre with Theme Park, the genre became huge following the release of Chris Sawyer’s Rollercoaster Tycoon. A bonafide PC gaming classic, Rollercoaster Tycoon remains a favorite of just about anyone who played it during its heyday in the late 1990s. In recent years, a community project known as OpenRCT2 began with the intention of bringing the game up to modern standards with a new renderer made for modern high-resolution displays and the inclusion of a multiplayer mode. For today’s stream, we will be jumping into a multiplayer park at 5:45 PM ET (2:45 PM PT) on the Official Shacknews Twitch Channel.

We encourage anyone who would like to play to join us on the MP server. You’ll need a working installation of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (from any source) and a copy of OpenRCT2 (available here). We will give out the server details on the stream. As always, we’d like to take a moment and thank our subscribers and followers. These streams only happen due to your support and regular viewings. Another big thanks to those who participate in the Twitch chat. Your interaction means a lot to the streaming folks and is always appreciated. Viewers who have Amazon Prime are given one free Twitch Prime subscription a month if Amazon and Twitch accounts are linked. Check out our guide for more information on how to link your accounts.

Shacknews - Chris Jarrard

While the fine folks at Bullfrog practically invented the amusement park management genre with Theme Park, the genre became huge following the release of Chris Sawyer’s Rollercoaster Tycoon. A bonafide PC gaming classic, Rollercoaster Tycoon remains a favorite of just about anyone who played it during its heyday in the late 1990s. In recent years, a community project known as OpenRCT2 began with the intention of bringing the game up to modern standards with a new renderer made for modern high-resolution displays and the inclusion of a multiplayer mode. For today’s stream, we will be jumping into a multiplayer park at 5:45 PM ET (2:45 PM PT) on the Official Shacknews Twitch Channel.

We encourage anyone who would like to play to join us on the MP server. You’ll need a working installation of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (from any source) and a copy of OpenRCT2 (available here). We will give out the server details on the stream. As always, we’d like to take a moment and thank our subscribers and followers. These streams only happen due to your support and regular viewings. Another big thanks to those who participate in the Twitch chat. Your interaction means a lot to the streaming folks and is always appreciated. Viewers who have Amazon Prime are given one free Twitch Prime subscription a month if Amazon and Twitch accounts are linked. Check out our guide for more information on how to link your accounts.

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