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11 Years On, Mirror’s Edge Is Still A Masterpiece

I don’t tend to replay video games very often. The demands of this job mean I’m normally straight onto the next one as soon as the credits roll on the last. But every year I try to find the time to revisit one of my all-time favourites: EA’s Mirror’s Edge.

It’s not a perfect game, I know. When it first released in 2008 I remember that, despite its mostly positive reviews, Mirror’s Edge had its fair share of significant criticisms as well, many of them entirely valid. It was short (you can tell it was 2008 because that really mattered), and there were too many moments where you’d encounter repeated and frustrating deaths that would sap the game of its speedy lifeblood. Oh, and the combat sucked.

Time has been kind to Mirror’s Edge and its best intentions, though, and the last thing it needs now is my help defending it. It even (belatedly, and regrettably) got a sequel.

But as good as it was, I think the most remarkable thing about Mirror’s Edge is that it’s still good, and just keeps getting better with age.

Partly, I think, this is on me. I’ve played Mirror’s Edge so many times that even with year-long breaks in between runs I can instantly recall routes and navigate its twisting corridors without getting lost, which isolates me from many of the game’s bigger problems. You don’t need to worry about combat, for example, if you know the best path to just sprint past the bad guys.

Another contributor is the game’s visuals. There’s nothing terribly fancy going on in Mirror’s Edge, at least not at first glance: there aren’t many weather effects, not much goes BOOM and there’s rarely another human being on the screen. All you ever really see while you’re running is crisp, clean architecture and a colour palette designed as much to aid the player on their runs as it was to just look cool.

It could have looked boring, or basic. Instead those white walls, red pipes and blue skies have, over the last decade, become iconic visual signatures, instantly recognisable as this game’s thing. It doesn’t matter that Mirror’s Edge was released in 2008, because those clean lines and bold colours look as modern in 2019 as they did back then.

Not that I want to undersell the rest of the game’s graphics. It’s all aged gracefully; Mirror’s Edge’s player models and facial animations look surprisingly good for a game of its age, and I remember how amazing it was at the time—with an Nvidia card, anyway—to see things like flags flapping in the wind and glass that genuinely shattered (both of which still look great in 2019).

It’s impossible to look back on Mirror’s Edge and not at least mention its failings. I’m slightly biased, since I’ve now played through the game hundreds of times and so am almost immune to its deficiencies, but the more I play the game the more the purity of its core vision pushes all of its frustrations to the margins.

Yeah, the combat wasn’t great, and the indoor sections were a pain, but I think those are issues not because they’re issues in of themselves, or were broken, but because they’re seen as padding, roadblocks keeping you from enjoying the one thing the game was made to do: breakneck parkour.

Folks hated anything that wasn’t parkour because parkour is what we were here for. Mirror’s Edge is about the thrill of the chase, and the joy of performing superhuman—but also very human—acrobatics across rooftops. It’s so good that every moment spent in the game not doing this is agony.

It’s ironic that the game’s narrative portrays you as a hunted rebel, because while there are certainly moments of terror and pursuit, much of Mirror’s Edge is actually incredibly liberating. The entire game is built around the conceit that you’re playing as a regular human capable of extraordinary feats, and you’ll spend most of your time in levels designed to let you express yourself and make the most of those skills.

To take a running jump off a ramp, the world blurring around the edges of the screen as you leap between buildings, a bright blue sky flashing in front of you before returning softly to earth, is magic. It’s a singular gaming moment that’s almost without peer, right up there with snapping up an iron sight in Call of Duty, a Tony Hawk grind or a Halo melee attack.

And it wouldn’t mean shit without the game’s absolute commitment to the first-person perspective, which I admire more with each passing year. The simple and predictable AAA Electronic Arts thing to do for a game that’s a platformer at heart would have been to reduce it to a third-person perspective, in order to make it easier for players to time and place their jumps.

DICE were having none of that. Mirror’s Edge is so first-person that there are cutscene hugs that play out in the perspective, which might be hilarious in those rare instances where it jars, but for 99% of the game are absolutely essential to the experience.

Being locked into first-person and all its accompanying momentum and effects means that basic jumps and rolls that would be mundane in another series are transformed into gut-churning, white-knuckle rides. A leap in Mario is a constant, as unremarkable as drawing breath. A jump in Mirror’s Edge, no matter how small, is thrilling.

As is the fall when you mess it up.

I couldn’t round out a love-in of Mirror’s Edge without mentioning the work of Swedish musician Magnus Birgersson, aka Solar Fields. His soundtrack to the game, comprised mostly of gentle, other-wordly electronica, is the perfect match for the city’s Tokyo-future-inspired aesthetic, whether it’s the more chilled backing for some exploration or the pulsing rhythm of a chase. And much like the game’s visuals, the music has aged remarkably well.

I love Mirror’s Edge because it’s stubborn. It’s as though EA signed a tiny indie game rather than a massive international studio. Nothing feels watered down, or focus tested, or softened for a broader audience. It’s a game that wanted to look and play a certain way, and was content enduring its shortcomings in order to achieve that.

So much of the Mirror’s Edge experience is wholly owned by the game: the architecture, the colours, the characters, the perspective, the acrobatics, the music. Everything about Mirror’s Edge just screams Mirror’s Edge, most of it as timeless as it is beautiful. It’s been 11 years since I first fell in love with the game, and I bet I’ll be sitting down in 11 years time feeling much the same as I do now.

Source: Kotaku.com

New Anthem Trailer Breaks Down Javelin Customization And Progression

BioWare released a new trailer for Anthem, its upcoming third-person shooter/action RPG. The video is the first part of a series devoted to explaining the gameplay mechanics and features of Anthem.

In this first part, BioWare discusses the upcoming game’s story, progression, and customization. The bulk of the video is devoted to the latter two topics, and discusses the different playstyles, loadouts, and abilities of Anthem’s four Javelins: Ranger, Interceptor, Colossus, and Storm.

You’ll start with the Ranger in Anthem, but you’ll have the chance to build all four Javelins–and multiple versions of them too–by the time you’re done with the game’s story. Ranger is built for precision play, relying on a variety of abilities and weapons to target specific enemies. Interceptor is fast and has the strongest melee attacks, allowing it to launch into battle and deal massive damage before ducking out of harm’s way. Colossus is best suited for the front lines, and can withstand devastating attacks with its heavy armor and massive shield. Finally, Storm’s elemental attacks makes it one of the most powerful Javelins, but it’s lack of armor ensures it remains a glass cannon.

Each Javelin can be customized to fulfill multiple roles. Ranger, for example, can be outfitted to survive on its own with a balanced assortment of weapons for solo play. However, if playing with a team, you could either customize the suit with tech that makes it your squad’s damage dealer or pick support abilities that ensures everyone remains alive.

BioWare ended the trailer promising that the next part in the series would offer details on “the expanding shared world of Anthem and its massive end game, including a look at [the game’s] strongholds.”

Anthem is scheduled to release on February 22 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. If you pre-order the game, you can play an exclusive VIP demo on January 25.

Source: GameSpot.com

Netflix Talks About Competing With Fortnite

Having increased its number of subscribers and overall revenue for the latest quarter, Netflix is doing quite well as of late. But now the company says it could have done even better if it weren’t for a little game called Fortnite.

In the “Competition” section of a letter to investors today, Netflix succinctly said, “We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO” as it relates to screen time.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities thinks Netflix’s popularity measurement against Netflix was “downright idiotic.” Time is a finite commodity, and Pachter points out that Netflix also competes against school, work, and defecating.

Not everyone agrees with Pachter’s point, however, as Amazon Studios’ former head of strategy Matthew Ball argues that Fortnite’s huge popularity is impacting Netflix. He shared how he probably would have finished the new season of Narcos were it not for all the time he spent playing Fortnite. Looking at your own life, you can probably remember a time when your latest obsession–be it a video game or anything else–impacted how much time you spent with another activity. It’s impossible to confirm specifically how Fortnite is impacting Netflix viewing, but few games have ever been as popular as Fortnite, so there has surely been some effect.

 

 

For its part, Netflix acknowledged that there are “thousands of competitors” in the marketplace trying to entertain consumers, and Fortnite is just one of them. The company said it is not focused on responding to competitors but rather on improving the experience and value of the offering, which would theoretically get more people to sign up.

Netflix has 139 million subscribers by the network’s latest count. The company continues to pour money into new, original shows to help separate itself from the onslaught of new competitors in the streaming space. One of Netflix’s newest shows is Space Force from Steve Carell and other key minds behind The Office.

Source: GameSpot.com

The Queen’s Golden Wii Has Been Found

Image: People Make Games

Ten years ago, a THQ marketing stunt sent a gold-plated Nintendo Wii console to Queen Elizabeth II. She obviously never received the gift personally, which led People Make Games’ Chris Bratt to wonder: then where the hell was it?

If the Queen never opened it, and THQ are long gone, then it was going to take some digging, but Bratt eventually tracks down the console in the Netherlands and gets to check it out—and meet its owner—in this very nice little video of the whole investigation:

Source: Kotaku.com

Black Ops 4 Blackout Free Trial, New Limited-Time Mode Now Live

Players who have yet to pick up a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 can now try its Blackout mode for free. Treyarch’s limited-time Blackout trial has begun on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, allowing you jump into the hectic battle royale mode at no charge.

The free trial runs until 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET / 6 PM GMT on January 24. To participate, you’ll need to download the Blackout trial client from either Battle.net on PC or your console’s respective digital store. PS4 players aren’t required to have a PlayStation Plus subscription, but Xbox One owners will need an Xbox Live Gold membership, while those playing on PC will need a free Battle.net account.

The trial gives you full access to all the content in Blackout mode. You’ll also earn Echelon progression while playing and unlock Black Market Tiers and loot. If you decide to purchase the title after the trial ends, any progress you’ve made during the free period will carry over to the full game. You can read more details about the free trial on Reddit.

If you’re interested in Blackout but don’t particularly care for Black Ops 4’s other modes, Activision is selling a $40 version of the game on PC that strips out Zombies and only includes Blackout and multiplayer. Like the trial client, this is only available through Battle.net.

Coinciding with the free trial, Treyarch has kicked off a new limited-time mode in Blackout, dubbed Down But Not Out. In this quad mode, any downed players will be able to rejoin the battle with each Collapse as long as at least one member of the team remains in the game. The mode is live now on PS4 and will come to Xbox One and PC at a later date.

Source: GameSpot.com

Halo Boss Admits “Mistakes” After Taking Over From Bungie

Halo boss Bonnie Ross, who heads up developer 343 Industries, has spoken candidly about the transition from Bungie to Microsoft and some of the stumbles along the way. Speaking to VentureBeat in an interview from December that we were recently made aware of, Ross said 343 “made some mistakes along the way,” and that overall, taking over the development reigns from Bungie has been a “very humbling experience.”

She didn’t mention any specific struggles by name, but no doubt the launch challenges for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which 343 previously referred to as a “black eye” for the franchise, are among the “mistakes” that Ross is talking about.

Ross went on to say that 343 not only considers what’s best for the Halo franchise as a universe, but also how the studio interacts with and responds to fans. Halo as a universe belongs to the fans as much as it does to 343 itself, Ross said.

“The whole team looks at this as not just our universe. It’s the fans’ universe,” she said. “How are we doing right by the fans? How are we doing right by the franchise? It is a part of our culture, this precious, precious world, and we’re responsible for taking care of it. And we want to do it right.”

Indeed, 343 has demonstrated a willingness to do right by Halo’s fans, one example being the team’s ongoing commitment to expanding and improving upon Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Also in the interview, Ross talked about how there are countless more storytelling opportunities within the Halo universe. As fans may know, Halo 1, 2, and 3 take place over a period of time of only three months. As such, Ross said she’s excited about how many more stories there are to tell in the Halo universe.

“The fictional universe is huge. I looked at Halo as a universe, which is the most important character,” she said. “We spent a ton of time in the early days of 343 just expanding the canvas, or framing the world in which we could tell stories and making it larger, adding more characters such that we could tell stories over the next two decades.”

“I feel like it’s such a large world and universe and there’s so much stuff we can we can do so I kind of I have my dream job,” she added. “I feel like there’s so much more work to do and super excited about all the things we’re doing going forward.”

Some of Halo’s upcoming projects include the new Xbox One and PC game, Halo Infinite, as well as the TV show. “There’s a lot more Halo stories to tell. It’s such an amazing universe,” Ross said.

Ross will be honoured as the latest inductee to the AIAS Hall of Fame at the D.I.C.E. Awards next month in Las Vegas.

Source: GameSpot.com

Our Favorite Cosplay From IKKiCON 2018

Cosplay GalleryA showcase of some of the best photos and video from cosplay events around the world. Credits provided where possible, but if we’ve missed something [let us know and we can add](mailto:plunkett@kotaku.com)!  

IKKiCON is an anime convention that was held in Austin from December 28-30.

Mineralblu was there taking photos and videos, and you’ll find a selection of them below. You’ll also find both the cosplayer’s instagram handle and the character they’re cosplaying as watermarked on the image.

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Source: Kotaku.com

Mortal Kombat 11: everything we know

NetherRealm Studios revealed new details on Mortal Kombat 11 during a live event in Los Angeles Thursday, offering fans a first look at gameplay, a roster of new and returning characters, and changes coming to the series’ well-worn fighting systems.

Here’s a rundown of what NetherRealm and series co-creator Ed Boon announced (and teased) for MK11.

The Mortal Kombat 11 roster

Mortal Kombat 11 will feature both new and returning characters. Some who have existed since the franchise’s beginning, including Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Raiden, and Sonya Blade, will be there again. Fan favorites like Baraka and Skarlet, who skipped the previous Mortal Kombat game, will be back for MK11. Two new characters, Geras and Kronika, will make their debut.

Geras will fight using “time-control abilities,” according to Boon. He can summon objects made of stone and sand in battle, and can use those powers to teleport himself and trap his enemies. He can also stop and rewind time, holding enemies in place while he punches them with rock-covered fists. You can see Geras fight in his character reveal trailer below.

Geras fights in the service of the game’s other new character, Kronika. She was teased in the first Mortal Kombat 11 trailer back in December. According to Boon, Kronika’s been “running the show since the first Mortal Kombat,” but when Raiden alters the timeline by killing Shinnok in Mortal Kombat X, she’s forced to intervene. NetherRealm Studios hasn’t yet confirmed whether Kronika will be a playable character — but she’s the boss of the game, the first female big-bad in the Mortal Kombat series, so it’s likely.

NetherRealm also teased another possible returning character, Kabal, who debuted in Mortal Kombat 3.

The initial roster for Mortal Kombat 11 will feature 25 playable characters, according to the character select screen, as well as Shao Kahn, a pre-order bonus character.

NetherRealm Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Fighters in Mortal Kombat 11 will be highly customizable, building upon what NetherRealm created for Mortal Kombat X and Injustice 2. While previous games featured multiple predetermined fighting variations, MK11 will give players the option of customizing their character in more granular ways. In the case of Scorpion, players can pick which mask, sword, and spear they want to equip, each of which can be augmented by socketed items. Players can choose which special abilities they want to take into battle for further customization. There’s also a “Kosmetic” component, which includes options like character skin, cinematic intros, victory screens, and even fatalities. Players have the option of naming their character customization loadouts.

Mortal Kombat 11 - GIF of flipping through the character screen for Scorpion
NetherRealm Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

The Kombat

NetherRealm is switching up the Mortal Kombat fighting formula by rethinking and adjusting some mechanics that date back to 2011’s Mortal Kombat (aka MK9). The meter that used to be shared for moves like the combo-interrupting Breaker, X-ray moves, and enhanced attacks has been split into two. That meter appears in the bottom right and left corners, with the horizontal portion reserved for offensive moves and the vertical portion used for defensive moves.

X-ray moves appear to have transitioned into what NetherRealm is calling Fatal Blows. When a player’s health meter drops below 30 percent, they’ll get access to a Fatal Blow, a nasty-looking combo that they can unleash by pressing two shoulder buttons at once.

Mortal Kombat 11 will also introduce the Flawless Block. If a player blocks an attack with perfect timing, Boon said, they’ll have a window to counterattack. That should open up some interesting high-risk, high-reward situations.

The story of Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat 11’s story campaign is set immediately after the events of 2011’s Mortal Kombat. According to NetherRealm’s official description, “Raiden has upset the balance of history with the death of Shinnok. Tired of Earthrealm’s defiance, Kronika, The Keeper of Time will bring order to the universe through any means necessary.”

Boon said that the story will involve characters from one Mortal Kombat timeline meeting (and occasionally beating the organs out of) younger versions of themselves. He also unveiled the game’s opening cinematic, which features Dark Raiden, Shinnok, and Kronika. You can watch that below.

More details on Mortal Kombat 11 are expected on Jan. 30, during NetherRealm’s next Kombat Kast livestream.

For the time being, if you want to see some fighting game pros duke it out in Mortal Kombat 11, NetherRealm has exhibition matches featuring players SonicFox, Tweedy, Rewind, Grr, Scar, Hayatei, and Honeybee on its YouTube channel.

Mortal Kombat 11 release date and platforms

Mortal Kombat 11 is coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One on April 23.

Source: Polygon.com

Bethesda Says It’s Cracking Down On Cheaters In Fallout 76

Screenshot: Kotaku (Fallout 76)

Fallout 76 is getting less broken every day. Bethesda said in today’s “Inside the Vault” post that in the last week alone it’s fixed 150 bugs, with more fixes coming in the future. Two problems Bethesda is still working on, it says, are unbalanced end-game weapons and cheating.

“We want Fallout 76 to be a happy and healthy world for all players, and we know that there are concerns with players finding and abusing exploits,” the company wrote. “We’re working hard to find, fix, and address these as they show up.” The concerns Bethesda is referring to have to do with glitches that for the greater part of December and January made it possible for players to duplicate their items. While the doors to these loopholes have now been closed, a window to a new one has opened. Specifically, players recently discovered a “developer’s room” in the game that houses copies of every item.

Bethesda said in a statement to Eurogamer earlier today that the room can only be reached on PC by using cheat programs, and that it’s currently banning players found to be carrying around test items from the hidden room that aren’t currently available in normal part of the game.

“We want you to know that we take these exploits and those abusing them VERY seriously,” the post reads. “Once identified, we work very closely with our Support team to remove problem players that are abusing these exploits – whether that’s the duping exploits or those using cheat apps or mods to access areas in-game that are otherwise inaccessible (and unintended) for players in the game world.”

While the company didn’t specify a particular fix for illicitly obtained items already out in the wild, a lot of them tend to be guns equipped with the Two-Shot Legendary Mod, which Bethesda announced will be getting nerfed in Patch 5, which is expected to release before the end of the month. In that update, the additional damage provided by the mod will be reduced from 100% to 25%. It’s a massive change for that particular mod, which is nice to see. At the same time, the patch will leave the Explosive damage mod, which players often combine with Two-Shot, untouched.

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As a result, it’s unclear how much the next patch will actually end up affecting the overall balance of power in Fallout 76, something that’s been a concern among players for a while now. It’s become more pronounced recently as some high level players have turned away from the lackluster PVE end game to griefing in PVP. Some players have requested that Bethesda simply separate the game out into two sets of servers for PVE and PVP.

Instead, Bethesda announced that an upcoming new mode for the game will basically use the existing PVP system found in the main game but with all of the rules of engagement stripped away. It sounds basically like a mode devoted entirely to the hellscapes of Rust and other online survival games. In effect, players will have the choice between PVP-lite and hardcore PVP, but no 100% pacifist option. More information about the upcoming mode is supposed to be revealed next week. For now though, it seems like anyone looking for new end-game content free from griefing will have to wait a bit longer.

Source: Kotaku.com

New Mortal Kombat 11 Character, Geras, Revealed

NetherRealm gave fans a much closer look at its upcoming fighting game, Mortal Kombat 11, during its big livestream event. The developer showed off a load of brutal gameplay footage and revealed a handful of familiar characters who’ll be returning in the game, as well as one entirely new one: Geras.

Described as the “powerful and loyal servant” of Kronika, the Keeper of Time and the first female boss in the Mortal Kombat series, Geras looks like a powerhouse of a character. As you can see in his character trailer above, Geras is able to conjure up objects made of sand, such as a bed of spikes that he can slam his foes onto. He also has the ability to manipulate time, which he can use to freeze foes in place.

Geras is one of eight fighters who have been confirmed for Mortal Kombat 11 thus far. In addition to Scorpion and Raiden, who were both revealed during The Game Awards this past December, we got our first look at Baraka, Sub-Zero, and Sonya Blade, who this time is being voiced by Ronda Rousey. NetherRealm also confirmed that Skarlet, the DLC character from Mortal Kombat 9, is set to return.

In addition to the characters, NetherRealm shared some details about Mortal Kombat 11’s story, which takes place after the events of 2015’s Mortal Kombat X. The developer also demonstrated some of the gruesome new fatalities in the game.

Mortal Kombat 11 is in development for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. The game is slated to launch on April 23, and those who pre-order it will get a bonus character: Shao Kahn. Reserving the game for either PS4 and Xbox One will also get you access to an upcoming beta, which is scheduled to take place on March 28.

Source: GameSpot.com