Raffle Announcement – Extra Life Charity Stream 2015


Saturday May 23rd, 2015 – 2pm EST
to
Sunday May 24th, 2015 – 2pm EST
on http://www.twitch.tv/NUReviews

Hey everybody! With about a week and a half left until the stream, we’ll now announce the full details for the raffle. For every $5 you donate you will gain one entry into the raffle, all you have to do is include an email/twitter handle and name in the comment of your donation so we know how to get in touch with you. The winners of the raffle will be decided shortly after the stream, after we count up all the entries. You’re only viable to win one item, so if you win you will be taken out of the raffle. The following items are all the ones that you are able to win:
One of Three $20 store credit for the Nintendo eShop, PSN, or Xbox Live Arcade
Earthbound for Wii U VC
Paper Mario Wii VC
Wonderful 101 Game Code
Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze Game Code
XCOM Enemy Unknown Steam Game Code
Walmart Exclusive Golden Mario Amiibo Unopened
And our grand prize item, donated graciously by a friend at NetherRealm Studios:
A Mortal Kombat X poster signed by the developers!
———————————————————————————————

Any donations taken before the stream starts or after it ends will not be viable for the raffle. Please keep your donations in increments of $5 if you’re going to make multiple donations for multiple entries. Any donations made in non $5 increments may miss out on an entry.
If you win a game code that doesn’t work, we will refund your prize if you are able to prove the code doesn’t work. To do so you must send us a video that, in one take, shows your download/redemption list up to the date of recording, you clearly putting in the code, and the invalid error that follows. We know it’s a bit to ask, but it’s the only way we can prove that you’re not trying to pull the wool over our eyes. If we agree that you have proven properly that the code doesn’t work, we will refund to you in store credit either equal to the cost of the game, or the smallest amount of credit we can over the price of the game. For physical prizes shipping will be free for any US entrants, for entrants out side of the United States we may ask you to pay us a shipping fee.
For more information, please visit http://nureviewsnetwork.com/2015/04/28/extralife2015/
Also, follow us on social media for updates!

Andrew’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015: The Movie


Disclaimer…not all games are officially coming out for 2015, but they’re announced and this is me hoping.

2015 so far looks to already be leaning towards a year of incredible releases, as long as the trend of releasing half finished games or delaying the games until 2016 doesn’t continue. Nonetheless, my hopes are held extremely high and I can’t wait for a few games in particular. So why not just jump into that list. This list is in alphabetical order and is not rated by how much I want the game.

Continue reading Andrew’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015: The Movie

Steve’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015 & More


Zelda-wii-u-link-720

I think 2015 is going to be one of the more hype years in gaming we’ve had in a while. Home consoles are finally getting some games worth getting, and other previously exclusive games are now also being released on PC as well. Let’s see how much work my wallet is going to be doing this year. LET’S GO!

  • Grim Fandango: Remastered – This game is one that has been on my “To Play” list for a quite a while now. Fortunately, thanks to the upcoming remastered version, now is the perfect time to finally give this much acclaimed game a shot.
  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse – I’m glad to see that the underrated “Canvas Curse” for the DS is getting a sequel. But this clay art style…it’s too much for my heart to take…HHNNNGGGG
  • Mortal Kombat X – Mortal Kombat (9) took me by surprised. Content-wise, it was one of the most fleshed out fighting games I’ve seen. The gameplay is also extremely accessible, which allowed for me to play with my more casual friends on equal footing…who am I kidding, I suck at the game. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see how ridiculously brutal this game turns out to be.
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Android) – I know, this game has been out for a while now for PC/Mac/iPad, but I’ve been itching for a decent mobile game to play. Emphasis on ‘decent’. I can only play so much ‘Threes’. And don’t even get me started on ‘Peggle: Blast”. I’m ashamed about how many hours I sunk into Peggle Blast, so much that I just had to delete it from my home to make sure it didn’t get any worse. However, I think I’ll be OK with Hearthstone…right?
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – Like Peggle Blast, I sunk a lot of hours into this game, both on the 3DS and Wii U. Thankfully, this game will have online enable for the 3DS, so hopefully, I’ll be able to find a group to go a huntin’ with.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker – I actually have this game already, but only the original version that was released for the DS. I didn’t want to play it until I have beaten Devil Survivor: Overclocked completely…but it turns out that I never managed to that yet. Nevertheless, I’m going to finish it before this new version comes out. The version practically doubles the content, along with added voice acting as well. This tactical JRPG is a great entry point for SMT newcomers…but be forewarned, many have claimed it’s pretty tough.
  • Splatoon – I haven’t really played any shooters in 2014, aside from some Halo 4. But I didn’t play Destiny, Titanfall, or COD: Advanced Warfare. I think Splatoon should remedy that. It counts, right?
  • The Legend of Zelda (Wii U) – This could wind up being the biggest and most ambitious Zelda game yet. I just hope it turns out better than Skyward Sword.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D – Like Grim Fandango (and Devil Survivor 2), this game is still on my “To Play” list. I finally got around to beating Ocarina of Time, thanks to the 3DS remake. Can’t wait to play this one.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X – Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii is an incredible game in both gameplay and scale, that I feel more people should get to play (and they’ll get the chance with the New 3DS port). But Xenoblade Chronicles X… is FLOOPING HUGE! You can battle in mechs and traverse this massive world. You can even play online with friends. This game is absolutely in my Top 3 most hyped up games…but number one can only belong to…
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – 2015 is the year of the bigger and massive sequels for great franchises. I’m not talking about the ones that churn out a game yearly, like Assassin’s Creed, but games that the gaming audience have to really wait for. And a majority of the time, the game is absolutely worth it. No game better represents this than Metal Gear Solid V. Playing Ground Zeroes has made me even more hype. The series has never felt so great to control. You are given an insane amount of freedom in regards to how you want to conduct an infiltration, with multiple ways of sneaking in or going guns ablazing. You can fulton just about anything. Of course, there’s no way I can talk about MGS without mentioning the story. This time, the story has never been grim. We’ll be witnessing the fall of Big Boss, what corrupted the world’s greatest soldier, and what led him to create Outer Heaven. I CAN NOT SUPPRESS MY HYPE LEVELS FOR THIS GAME.

Also worth mentioning is the next Zero Escape game (the ‘Virtue’s Last Reward’ sequel). As much as I want to believe the rumor, I can only get hype once we get a confirmation.

As an added bonus, Alex was kind enough to also submit his own list of anticipated games. Even though not all of the games on his list are confirmed for 2015, that doesn’t mean you can’t get hype for them!

  • MGS V
  • GTA V for PC (even though I can’t play it on max)
  • The Division
  • Rainbow Six Siege
  • Evolve
  • The Witcher 3
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • The Order 1886

So what are your most anticipated games? Let us know in the comments!

2015 In Preview – Brad’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015


With 2014 behind us, it’s time to look towards the future.  While there are numerous titles already scheduled to be released in 2015, and even more that are not, let’s look at the 15 titles I’m looking forward to the most.

  • Evolve – While originally slipping under my radar, watching people play the beta has gotten me pretty hyped for this team based first person shooter, especially with the ability to play as the giant monster being hunted.
  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD – I’ve been wanting to play Final Fantasy Type-0 since it was coming to the PSP and title Final Fantasy Agito.  After a name change and years of silence about a western release, we’re finally getting an HD remake of the game for next gen systems, and I couldn’t be happier.
  • Bloodborne – Bloodborne is just about the game that I’m most anticipated for in 2015, an easy but close second.  With a more aggressive stance on the Dark Souls combat, and being made by the quintessential “A” team responsible for Dark Souls and Demons Souls, there’s no reason a Souls fan shouldn’t be excited (unless they don’t own a PS4, sorry Xbone owners).
  • Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin – It’s no secret that I love the Dark Souls series, heck, Dark Souls 2 made it to my GOTY list.  But it’s also no secret that the original release of Dark Souls 2 was lacking in comparison to the first and even the prerelease footage we saw of the game.  Promising enhanced visuals, better balance, tweaked enemy placement, and more story elements to bring some of the more confusing parts to light, I’m excited to dive into Drangleic again in this definitive edition.
  • Mighty No. 9 – One of the few Kickstarter projects I’ve backed, Keiji Inafune’s love child Mighty No. 9 finally makes it to release this year.  Hopefully after this he’ll finish up that Animal Pirate Dynasty Warriors 3DS game he announced oh so long ago.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight – I’ve always been a fan of the Batman: Arkham games, even Origins was a decent entry despite not being developed by the original team.  Boasting a bigger city and the ability to drive the Batmobile around, I’m looking forward to dawning the cape and cowl once again.
  • J-Stars Victory VS+ – Probably the only time you’ll see a fighting game on a list of games I’m hyped for (with the exception of portable Smash bros, but we’ve already got that).  I’m a big fan of the Jump All Stars game series, and seeing this PS3 entry being ported to the west makes me one happy gamer.
  • Kings Quest – Only recently have I acquired respect and interest for the old school point and click adventure games, from Monkey Island to Sam and Max, from Day of the Tentacle to Kings Quest.  Seeing how wonderful the game looks at the VGA a few months back has got me all aboard the Kings Quest Hype Train.
  • No Man’s Sky – This game holds a lot of promise, with it’s procedurally generated worlds and boasts about how it will never run out of content.  In all honesty it may not even be a game I play for long, but just based on what it’s promising I can’t help but be excited.
  • Soul Saga: Episode 1 – Another Kickstarter game I backed, Soul Saga is shaping up to be a mighty fine turn based RPG.  With the promise of Airship Combat, numerous playable characters, and voice acting from known voice actors Todd Haberkorn and Kira Buckland, Soul Saga is shaping up to be one fantastic product of Kickstarter.
  • Star Fox – I’ve been wanting a new Star Fox game for years now, something more in the vein of 64 instead of Adventures or Assault.  While no substantial information is known so far, the fact that one is in development has got me excited.
  • The Legend of Zelda Wii U – I’m just going to say this: Skyrim Sized, Open World, HD, Non-Linear Zelda.  Who wouldn’t be excited?
  • The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask 3D – Ocarina of Time 3D was the reason I got a 3DS, and since I’ve been waiting for them to announce Majora’s Mask 3D.  Now that they have, and the possibility that it could be bundled with the New 3DS, I’m actually going to have a reason to pick up the new handheld.

 

  • Yakuza 5 – I picked up Yakuza 4 around November of 2013, and while it still sits uncompleted on my shelf (as do most games), I absolutely love it.  The characters were great and the combat brutally fun, and if Yakuza 5 is even just more of the same I’ll be happy to pick it up.  Maybe I’ll even beat 4 before it comes out…

And my most anticipated title of 2015…

  • Rumored Virtue’s Last Reward Sequel – While nothing official has been said, rumors of the final installment in the Virtue’s Last Reward series coming to 2015 have been buzzing around.  In an article that interviewed a bunch of Japanese developers about what is coming in 2015, series director Kotaro Uchikoshi stated “It’s looking like 2015 will be the year where everything I’ve built up over the years will come together and be let out into the world in one fell swoop”.  It’s been stated in the past that the Virtue’s Last Reward series will be a trilogy, taking place between 9 Persons 9 Hours 9 Doors and Zero’s Escape, so with a statement like that I’m highly anticipating news of this final installment coming to our doorsteps soon.

That’s my list, how about you? What are you looking forward to in 2015?

If you haven’t already checked out Steve and My 2014 GOTY Lists, go ahead and click the respective names to check them out.

Mingy Jongo To Return in 2015?


The ever elusive Mingy Jongo is hinted at making a return in 2015. For those who don’t know, Mingy Jongo was the code name given to a Banjo Kazooie inspired game developed by ex-Rare employees, as detailed by series musical producer Grant Kirkhope. Grant said in a reddit AMA that a group of ex-Rare employees got together in 2012 at a pub and threw around a “promising” game idea, even going as far to come up with a character and demo level. However the project fell apart, citing lack of free time due to people’s jobs as the cause. No word has been heard of from this project, until last Wednesday that is. The twitter account assigned for the project (@MingyJongo) had been inactive since 2012, until December 24th when a single tweet went out stating “*CTRL*”. Three days later another tweet followed stating “*ALT*”, and another on December 31st stating “*DEL*”. Separately these tweets don’t mean a whole lot, what brings them together is a series of tweets made by Grant Kirkhope on December 31st. “what’s that @MingyJongo up to?”, “doesn’t *CNTRL, *ALT, *DEL …… reboot?”, and “lights blue touch paper …… stands back…… @MingyJongo” are the meaty hints being dropped by Mr. Kirkhope. Is he hinting at a revitalization of the Mingy Jongo project? Can we be expecting to hear more from the successor of one of the great Collectathons of the N64 Generation? What do you think?

Grant Kirkhope’s twitter
Mingy Jongo twitter

The Only NUReviews Top 10 GOTY 2014 That Matters*


Man, what a year, am I right? I mean, I haven’t posted any articles in a year, but if you follow our FaceBook page you’ll have seen we were at least semi-active this year.  But really, all that matters is the last post of the year, the traditional 2014 GOTY Top 10 List.  I’ve played a handful of games over the year, mostly good, some bad, and then there’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, but narrowing down what I could consider my Top 10 was certainly harder than I thought it’d be.  I’ll provide a small insight into the game and why I think it deserves the place on my list for each game, and much like The Octopus from The Spirit, I like to start from the bottom and work my way up.  So let’s start with the metaphorical toes of my Top 10 List, entry number 10.

NUmbeR 10 – South Park: The Stick of Truth


5MCLqDuh

South Park: The Stick of Truth finds you, the new kid on the block, in the middle of a war of the imaginations between the children of South Park, Colorado.  Initially enlisted alongside Cartman and Butters, you eventually team up with Kyle, Kenny, Stan, and even Jimmy as you fight to try and reclaim the all powerful Stick of Truth, a weapon so powerful that anyone who wields it can bend all of reality to their whim.  Written by the brains behind the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and animated to look just like the show, the game blends wonderful visuals, crude humor, and simple yet solid gameplay mechanics to craft a game worthy of praise.  My biggest complaint with the game, however, is that it’s so short, in just under 12 hours, I was able to complete the main campaign and most, if not all of the side quests. For an RPG, that certainly leaves things lacking.  Some will say that making a 40 hour RPG out of South Park material would be stretching the source too much, and you know, they’re probably right. But I wouldn’t let this issue deter me from recommending people buy the game.  However, if you can’t get it for anything less than $15, I’d highly recommend you hold off on it. That really is the best way to get the most bang for your buck for this otherwise great game.

NUmbeR 9 – Hyrule Warriors


tumblr_ndz1m5nS6h1rf0hsxo4_250Stupid Sexy Link-senpai

When announced at E3, Hyrule Warriors looked to just be a Dynasty Warriors game with a Zelda skin, which if it were only that, would still have made my list.  But instead, what we got was a game crafted around both the gameplay elements of the two completely separate series, while maintaining the feel that comes with a game that the developers truly loved to make.  The Tecmo Koei people have perfected the Dynasty Warriors gameplay to an art, almost, being able to create these spin-offs of the series while lovingly crafting them around the source material that they’re being based on.  Each of the characters hold weapons that are pulled from the 3D Zelda Games (with the exception of some 8-bit weapons to throw in as a treat to fans), along with giant boss monsters that sometimes invade the field require a bit of easy puzzle solving to do massive damage to them, as it would take with any Zelda game.  Packed with hours of content past just the main story, as well as a gameplay style that doesn’t really get old in my eyes, it’s one of my GOTY titles.  You may be wondering why, with such high praise, it’s so low on my list. Well, the reason is because at its core, it’s still a game from the Dynasty Warriors series, whose games aren’t for everyone.  Many people get tired of the Hack-n-Slash, mow-down-an-entire-army gameplay the series provides, rather quickly.

If you love Zelda, it’s worth the look just for the care that was put into the game. But if you’re not a fan of Dynasty Warriors as a whole, you won’t be able enjoy the game to its full potential.  Also, how can you not include Groose? He demands to be let loose.

NUmbeR 8 – The Evil Within


THE NOPE WITHINI really feel you SeaBass

I guess it’s time to admit one of my greater gaming sins: I have never played Resident Evil 4, the last Resident Evil title before the series went, objectively, to the shitter (though I still liked RE5 a little, despite its terrible AI).  When The Evil Within started showing it’s face in the gaming world, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention. But towards release, I started to get pretty hype by trailers and screens, and post release the hype was intensified by watching other people play. It ended up being one of my better purchases of the year.  Following the story of Detective Sebastian Castellanos, you find yourself in a life or death struggle against crazed, zombie like people and a mad man with mysterious powers called Ruvik.  If you’re wondering why I had to start this by bringing up Resident Evil 4, it’s because anyone who has played the two will tell you of the huge similarities the two games hold.  Even putting aside the fact that they share the same director, gameplay elements and sections, which  The Evil Within seemed to have almost carbon copied from Resident Evil 4 (though they took out the ability to do sick suplexes on stunned enemies, the fools).  The story is a bit of a cluster-fuck and doesn’t explain a whole lot, but the visuals are great and the gameplay is solid.  Despite my terrible skill at the game, I enjoyed every minute I play of this wonderful title.

NUmbeR 7 – Jackbox Party Pack


hqdefaultShameless ripping of Steve’s image

You’ll start to notice something from this point on, so I’ll give you the heads up now.  Starting with this entry, I really don’t have many negative things to say about the rest of the games on this list.  While clearly all these views are subjective and your thoughts may vary, if I can make a top ten list, and run out of negative things to say by number 7, then I’ve clearly had a good year.  The Jackbox Party Pack is exactly that kind of game. It’s a collection of five games by the developers behind You Don’t Know Jack (which is also included in this collection).  Each title can be played solo with a controller, or with multiple people with each person using a smart phone, tablet, computer, or anything that has a browser as their controller.  Because of this set up, some games are able to support up to eight consecutive players. One game can even supporting up to 100.  It’s a perfect game to have when you have a lot of people over, as none of the games require any real amount of skill. I guarantee that everyone will have a great time playing it.

NUmbeR 6 – Mario Kart 8


YoshicolorsSo much wasted potential in a single roster, wheres my Rawk Hawk?

What is there really to say about this that’s not already known? If you just read the title of the game, you would know what you’re in for.  Mario Kart 8 brings the classic karting fun the series is known for to the Wii U, in beautiful high definition.  The worlds are lovingly crafted and each race is a load of fun, no matter how good you are at the game.  Another great game to play with your friends, fun for all without as much of the relationship crushing nature that comes with Mario Party.  If I had one complaint for the game, it’d be the waste of character slots (seriously, who thinks putting every Koopa Kid and Pink Gold Peach in was a good idea?), but I’m not going to let that ruin my view of the game.

NUmbeR 5 – Dark Souls 2


tumblr_naux25S9pP1sxoyxro10_500I really have nothing clever to put here, but I’m on a roll and won’t stop now

There is so much that can be said about Dark Souls 2, it’s a little hard to think of a place to start.  Even if I started with a rough overview of the story, that in and of itself is complicated.  You play an undead, someone who can not die, who is on a quest to try and find a cure to your condition.  You find yourself in the land of Drangleic, an ancient kingdom that has all but fallen apart, where you are tasked to seek the king of Drangleic, for it is he who will have the answers.  Your quest takes you all around this strange world: from deepest darkness of The Gulch, to the strangely high and seemingly geographically misplaced Iron Keep. As your quest goes on so does your goal.  However, it is not the ideals of the character that changes, it feels more as if the world is just guiding you on your way, and as you continue on, you start to forget why you set out on the journey to begin with.  Featuring the action RPG combat that started way back on the PS3 with Demons Souls, Dark Souls 2 is refined in some matters while faltering in others.  Many will argue on how the game compares to previous entries in the series, but I enjoy it all the same.  Where it falters, its previous entries rise to the challenge, and where they falter, Dark Souls 2 sits high above them.  The inclusion of the DLC is easily the best part of the game, showing design and artistic methods that show what the team is truly capable of.  If you haven’t played this game yet, then I would highly recommend you do, don’t let the claims of its insane difficulty deter you away.  The key to playing any “Souls” game is patience and learning. Keep those in mind, and you can overcome any obstacle in your path.  Dark Souls 2 will be re-released around end of Quarter 1 and beginning of Quarter 2 of 2015, with the Scholar of the First Sin edition, which will include new story elements, NPCs, and gameplay balances.  This edition will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC with DirectX11 support, which will include enhanced visuals and alternate enemy placements. So if you’ve been putting off playing the game or are just considering playing it, wait for this definitive edition to be released.

NUmbeR 4 – Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix


braigYes, good, that’s the word.

When I was constructing this list, I found that there were a couple of HD remakes that I played over the year that I considered for the list, but I really couldn’t put any of them above Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix.  While its close contender, the FFX/X-2 HD Re-master, was an excellent remastering of some excellent games, updating their visuals for more modern systems, I didn’t really get all that much more out of it.  While the editions did come with the extra content from the “International” editions of the game (which were kind of like Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts, except only not released in the US), all of that extra content was end-game, so I didn’t see any of it until well into my playthrough.  Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix brings the Final Mix version of two of the best games of the Kingdom Hearts series stateside for the first time, and these versions are of course the reasoning this has made it so high on my list.  Kingdom Hearts has been my guilty pleasure game since its release. I’ve played every title, save for the Japanese only mobile game, and at one point even imported Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix.  To be able to play these enhanced version with new forms, gameplay balances, difficulty levels, cutscenes and secret bosses in a language I understand, is almost like a childish dream come true.  As a fan of the series, there’s no reason for you not to own this game. If you’re looking forward to Kingdom Hearts 3, but don’t quite grasp the story, these HD Remix versions are the best place to start.

NUmbeR 3 – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc


imagesIt’s Un-Bear-able~

Danganronpa: Goodbye Despair is another example of many of why the Vita is actually a handheld worth investing in.  While the number of big named titles doesn’t reach the expectations one might have for it, the sheer force of the niche Japanese titles is what really drives the system.  When I first bought Danganronpa, I didn’t expect to really enjoy it, since I heard it was kind of like Phoenix Wright, but that’s all I had known about it.  What I got was another entry into the small list of Visual Novel-esque titles that have become some of my favorite handheld games.  Danganronpa is about a class of “Ultimates”, students who are the best of the best in their given field, trying to survive imprisoned in the very school they thought they were safe in.  You take on the role of Makoto Maegi, the “Ultimate Lucky Student”, that is to say he has no particular skill of interest, he just got accepted into the school because he won a lotto drawing.  Inside the school you’ll encounter your fellow “classmates”, including the “Ultimate Programmer”, “Ultimate Martial Artist”, “Ultimate Otaku” and more. You’ll be lead by the sadistic, pun throwing, monochromatic mad-bear, Monokuma.  There’s only one rule to surviving this dark situation: Murder your fellow classmates.  The gameplay is split between two different states. There’s what I’ll refer to as the “Peaceful State”, where you spend your days spending time with your classmates, getting to know them and building friendships ala the Persona Series.  And then there’s the “Murder State”, which takes place when ever someone has been murdered.  Your job in the “Murder State” is to find clues as to who committed the murder, and then bring them to justice in a trial.  If you win, the murderer gets punished and you continue playing, however if you pick out the wrong person, everybody but the murderer gets punished, and the murderer gets set free.  The story is full of twists that even I didn’t quite see coming(And I’m pretty good about spotting twists, I figured Vader was Luke’s father a whole minute before he said that line), and the characters are eccentric to the point where you can’t help but feel love for all of them, even the sadistic asshole that is Monokuma.  If you want a game similar to 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors or Virtue’s Last Reward: Zero’s Escape, but with a more light-hearted tone to it, be sure to pick this up.

NUmbeR 2 – Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor


shadow-of-mordro8 out of 10 witty comments isn’t too bad right?

Let’s be frank with each other: franchise games are rarely good.  I’m, of course, not talking about video game franchises. I’m talking about video games based around franchises that pre-existed in other mediums, such as movies or books.  Short of an original story not told in other mediums, or being a LEGO game, franchise games are essentially doomed to be at the bottom of the barrel for eternity.  So it comes as a surprise that Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a franchise game that takes gameplay directly from two of the biggest AAA game franchises on the market right now, can do it better than both of them and come so close to my personal GOTY.  The story of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor follows Talion, a ranger in charge of defending the Black Gate.  All is going well with him and his family, but everything changed when the Fire Nation… I mean… the Black Hand of Sauron attacked.  After watching his family killed before his eyes, Talion himself is killed, but his spirit remains in the world of the living.  An Elvish wraith tells him that his soul is cursed, much like the wraith, and that if they were to team up, they could take down the armies of Sauron, the Black Hand, and then finally reunite with their families.  So begins a quest across the lands of Mordor, slaughtering Uruks and retrieving fragments of the Wraith’s memories to discover his hidden past.  Exploration in Shadow of Mordor is taken almost directly from Assassin’s Creed, with the ability to stealth at will and climb up buildings like a professional climber.  The similarities in this system are so abundant, that sometimes I thought I might have actually been playing an Assassin’s Creed game (which was quickly rectified by the fact that it wasn’t Assassin’s Creed IV and I was having fun).  Meanwhile the combat is a carbon copy of the Batman Arkham games of recent fame.  In combat, you’ll find yourself surrounded by Uruks that will try to attack you one or two at a time. You can press ‘Triangle’ to counter their attacks at the last minute, ‘Square’ to issue strikes, ‘X’ to bound over your enemies, and ‘Circle’ to stun them, which, while stunned, you can issue repetitive blows using the ‘Square’ button.  After you get a high enough combo, you can press a combination of two buttons to perform a finishing move, which does things like knock out a single opponent or stun enemies in a radius around you (seems pretty familiar huh?).  The inclusion of a Bow with a bullet time mechanic allows you to take out a group of enemies swiftly and from a distance.

But the real meat of the game comes from the much acclaimed Nemesis System.  Each Uruk captain is generated to look and sound different, to fight differently, and to have different strengths and weaknesses.  Killing a captain opens up his spot in Sauron’s army, allowing another captain to move up in the ranks.  Combine this with the late game ability to turn Uruks into your own minions, the game quickly becomes finding Uruks you particularly like, beefing them up and turning all of Mordor under your control.  The game is loaded with side challenges to distract you from the very few main quests (only 20 total), so much so in fact that I had completed all the side challenges I could complete in the first half of the game before I was even done with the first half of the story missions.  It never feels like a chore to do these side quests, unless you wait until the end and that’s all you have left to do.  While the story isn’t particularly engaging, the gameplay is almost perfect in all aspects.  If I had two complaints about the game, it’s that you don’t get the ability to control enemies until very late in the game, and that the DLC they added trophies which ruined my 100% completion rating.  I worked very hard for that Level 25 Rune, damn it, and you took away my pride!!

NUmbeR 1 – Shovel Knight


 276752-SN2221It’s both cozy, and lonely at the top.

Here we are, Numero Uno, The King of Kings, the 100%, Indisputable** 2014 Game of the Year: Shovel Knight.  What a game, where can I even start?  So often Indie games try and pander off their work by giving it that “retro” look, but rarely is a game so expertly crafted as Shovel Knight is.  Taking elements from the classic side scrolling action games of the 8-bit era (see Megaman, Ducktales, etc), Shovel Knight is as much a love letter as it is a stand alone title.  You play Shovel Knight, a once proud Knight of the Spade who, after the loss of his companion Shield Knight, retired to a life of easy digging.  However, after an evil Enchantress started rising to power with the aid of the Knights of No Quarter, Shovel Knight takes it upon himself to bury these evil doers and dig up some Justice!  Starting off fairly weak (classic 3 heart containers), each level sees Shovel Knight traversing the 2D planes, defeating enemies and collecting cash, which he can then use to buy relics and upgrades.  If you die in a level you lose a percentage of the gold you have on you, but similar to games like Dark Souls, if you make it back to the place you died you can reclaim all that lost gold.  While a single playthrough won’t last you too long, the game has a New Game+ feature, which allows you to start again with all your upgrades and stronger enemies.  Attached onto that are a number of challenges and achievements that will have you playing the game for hours on end.

Despite being an 8-bit Indie Game, the difficulty matches and, in some cases, exceeds modern AAA titles.  Enemies make platforming perilous yet fair, and Bosses do large amounts of damage but have fairly predictable move sets.  The game is perfectly balanced to be both fair for those who are possibly new to games, but also challenging and rewarding to the more experienced gamer.  There is nothing I can possibly say wrong about this game, which makes it a one of a kind diamond in the desert that has been 2014 in gaming.

*: NUReviews does not stand by that this is the only GOTY list that matters, there are a lot of lists out there and they are all respectable opinions, NUReviews doesn’t condone the idea that we’re better than everyone***

**: It is completely refutable if Shovel Knight is indeed GOTY because this is based off Brad’s personal preference.

***: Except Kotaku, we’re better than Kotaku

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