The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom Review

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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is so much more than a sequel to Breath of the Wild. While this newest entry in the Zelda franchise is most recognizably similar to that 2017 game, it builds upon the foundation so thoroughly and transformationally that it feels like a revelation. This is The Legend of Zelda at its finest, borrowing the best pieces and qualities from across the franchise's history and creating something new that is emotionally resonant, captivating, and endlessly rewarding.

Breath of the Wild upended the Zelda formula by presenting a vast and lush open world to explore--a reenvisioning of the unguided experience of the original Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Tears of the Kingdom follows in its predecessor's footsteps with a similarly naturalistic setting, but the world has changed in subtle ways. Not everything is exactly the same or where you'd expect it to be, and the map is marked with myriad opportunities for exploration and curiosity. Once again, you'll hardly ever round a corner or crest a hill without finding something else to do or engage with. Hyrule feels serene even as it bustles with life and activity. The score is as majestic as it is unintrusive, accentuating a dire battle or narrow escape with an exciting up-tempo rendition of the theme and then easing off with softer tones to let you breathe in the atmosphere.

Much of the reason that the world feels so different this time is that your tools for engaging with it are so much more flexible. Like the Great Plateau in Breath of the Wild, you don't even enter the open world until you've found four key abilities in a tutorial area. Together, these abilities are the engine that drives Tears of the Kingdom--in the same way Breath of the Wild was centered on exploring wilderness using your slate of abilities, these new tools center Tears of the Kingdom around building and experimenting to overcome obstacles in inventive ways. It's a beautifully implemented evolution of what made Breath of the Wild so special. While it's more ambitious than Breath of the Wild in how much you can express your own creativity, it also manages to do this without buckling under its own weight.

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Redfall Review - Half-Staked

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Arkane doesn't put ladders in its games. The team says as much with a succinctly stated poster in one of the rooms in its Austin location: "F**k ladders," it reads. The team has said ladders feel limiting by putting players in a "mode" where they can't use their weapons or abilities, and they often even fall to their deaths anyway--Arkane hates ladders. And yet, there are ladders early and often in Redfall. This surprise would become emblematic of my time in the vampire-infested Massachusetts town. Redfall is Arkane making compromises to its own design philosophies to serve a genre it may have been better off avoiding.

Redfall is a four-player co-op loot-shooter that pits players against vampires and the cultists who follow them. The story premise is classic Arkane stuff, but in practice, it plays like a tug-of-war that its usually inventive team could not win. Most aspects of what the team is known for--unrivaled world design, intricate immersive sim elements, improvisational combat--are rarely found here. In their place are run-and-gun fights with unresponsive AI enemies amid a host of bugs that are so prevalent, it genuinely feels dejecting to see the game launch in this state. Wherever things have gone wrong in Redfall, and there are several places, it feels like the result of a team with a foot in disjointed worlds: what it's known for and what it's tasked with doing.

The game's two maps are bigger than anything Arkane has done before, from either its team in Texas or France, but the team struggles to fill that space with the same intricacies that made games like Dishonored and Deathloop both Game of the Year winners and Prey a cult classic. Too often, you and up to three others playing in co-op will move across barren beaches or through wooded areas with little more than some sheds or campsites to rummage through. The game's second map, which you'll unlock halfway through the campaign, is noticeably better because it comes closer to the team's past efforts, with more interesting landmarks and more verticality built into its neighborhoods, but it still doesn't quite get there.

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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor - Before You Buy

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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor - Before You BuyStar Wars Jedi: Survivor (PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S/One) is a bigger, badder sequel in every way. Let's talk about it. Subscribe for more: http://youtube.com/gameranxtv ▼ Video by Jake Baldino Buy Jedi Survivor: https://amzn.to/3oJItRI Watch more 'Before You Buy': https://bit.ly/2kfdxI6 #jedisurvivor #starwarsjedisurvivor

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review - Fear Itself

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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor builds on the already-winning formula of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order by making Cal Kestis a more powerful and resourceful Jedi Knight, while also upping the stakes and the challenges he's facing. Exhilarating lightsaber combat and physics-defying platforming puzzle challenges remain the best part of Respawn's latest Star Wars game, but Survivor also makes big swings with its story this time around. Cal's quest takes him to new corners of the galaxy, but the most compelling journey he makes is an introspective one. Survivor is a very well-written tale about overcoming fear, and it's the Jedi story I've wanted for a long time.

Survivor takes place about five years after the events of Fallen Order, with the Mantis crew having gone their separate ways to pursue different goals in a galaxy increasingly dominated by the Galactic Empire. After a daring escape from Imperial authorities, protagonist Cal finds himself on the planet Koboh, where he discovers a High Republic Jedi protocol droid who carries a clue to reaching Tanalorr, a supposedly unreachable mythical planet. Seeing a potential home that's free of the Empire's influence, Cal sets about reassembling the Mantis crew for another galactic scavenger hunt, but his efforts are waylaid by a former High Republic Jedi who--having originally discovered Tanalorr decades prior and bid his time until the right moment--wants Tanalorr for his own purposes.

The High Republic is a fascinating time period for Survivor to connect its story to given what we know has transpired between that era and the events of post-Revenge of the Sith. The comics describe The High Republic as the golden age of the Jedi. And that may be the case, but we also know this time period will culminate in the Jedi Order led by Master Yoda, who preached to a young Anakin Skywalker that "fear is the path to the Dark Side." Not anger. Not grief. Not any of the other emotions a Jedi is supposed to unhealthily suppress. The events of the High Republic teach the Jedi that fear is the path to evil--the other emotions are just stepping stones along it.

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