The Mageseeker: A League Of Legends Story Review - Magic In The Air

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After a decade of resting solely on the laurels of its hit MOBA, Riot Games's decision to expand the lore of the ultra-popular League of Legends and its war chest of playable Champions will likely go down as one of the company's best moves. It's already given us Ruined King and the Netflix show Arcane, and it will soon give us Song of Nunu, Convergence, and the fighter Project L. The Mageseeker: A League Of Legends Story is the next expansion of LoL's lore, and it keeps Riot's momentum going with great combat, a beautiful world, and a riveting (though admittedly slow-starting) story.

The Mageseeker follows Sylas, a mage living in Demecia, a city that persecutes magic wielders through a special task force called Mageseekers. Sylas has the ability to absorb the magic of other mages, which makes him one of the most powerful magic users in the world. Before he discovered his power, Sylas was a Mageseeker himself, and during one of his assignments, he took pity on one of the mages he was seeking out. However, his innate ability kicked in, and his inability to control the magic he unknowingly absorbed from his quarry resulted in the deaths of multiple innocents. Despite his service to the Mageseekers, the discovery of his own power led to his imprisonment for 15 years. Now he is out and he is seeking revenge on those who sent him away.

The aesthetic choices in The Mageseeker are immediately impressive. The minimalist pixel art on display is a far cry from the state-of-the-art graphics modern consoles are capable of--heck, it's even a stark departure from the game's source material. However, the way developer Digital Sun tells a story through this art style, whether it's the backdrop of a scene or subtle movements in characters both playable and not, is remarkable.

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Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores Review

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Horizon Forbidden West was too big. I enjoyed the game overall, but my main takeaway from the experience was that it was entirely too much of a good thing. At a certain point the open world just felt overwhelming, and as a result the sprawling story began to lose its punch. Burning Shores, the first and only announced major expansion to Forbidden West, takes place in an entirely new area with a narrowed focus that hits the spot for Horizon fans, while introducing a handful of creative new mechanics and weaving in intriguing plot threads to pay off in the future.

Unlike the Frozen Wilds, the major expansion to the first game, Burning Shores is explicitly an epilogue to the main campaign, not a side story. It picks up exactly where the cliffhanger ending left off, and it heavily references a mount you only received near the very end of the campaign.

Spoilers for Horizon Forbidden West follow.

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Minecraft Legends Review - Tides Of War

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Taking the world and characters of the original Minecraft, a sandbox block builder, and putting them into a real-time strategy game with action elements is--while certainly a cool-sounding idea--an experimental move. Sadly, it's one that doesn't quite pay off in Minecraft Legends as the simple action elements actively detract from the more tantalizing possibilities present on the strategy side. However, it has good ideas outside the story-driven campaign that keep the game from descending into an absolute slog of an experience.

In the story campaign, you play as a denizen of the original Minecraft, who is plucked from your time and transported back to an older version of the Overworld that has long since passed into legend. This Overworld is overseen by Foresight, Action, and Knowledge--three deities who each add a dash of charm to an otherwise straightforward story of good versus evil. The simple villagers and animals are under attack by the Piglins, who are constructing portals across the land and building machines that make everything more like the Nether. In a final act of resistance, Foresight, Action, and Knowledge call on you and your building smarts to construct defenses, Golem soldiers, and war machines to slaughter the invading forces.

It's a fantastic concept that's made even better when the game dips into the more absurd elements--you can build giant redstone-powered cannons to lay waste to entire battalions of enemy Piglins one explosive shell at a time, for example, or construct ludicrously giant wooden bridges to safely transport troops over whole stretches of mountainous terrain. And having the chance to forge alliances with normally antagonistic Minecraft creatures, like the surprisingly honorable Skeletons and all-too-eager-to-die-for-the-cause Creepers, is also enjoyably silly.

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Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review - War Games

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Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a remake of 2001's Advance Wars and 2003's Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. While the first Advance Wars hasn't aged as well as its sequel, both games are nevertheless elevated by Re-Boot Camp's robust suite of game modes, the local and online multiplayer, and an intuitive map editor. As a package, there is plenty to do, see, and unlock, and it's all held together by a fantastic presentation that evokes Saturday morning cartoons and colorful board games.

Foundationally, the Advance Wars flavor of turn-based tactical combat holds up well. In its most rudimentary form, two commanding officers hailing from different fictional countries move units around a map to wipe out enemies and capture key areas. Each unit, however, has strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered for both individual firefights and multi-turn campaigns. For example, Infantry and Mech units are the only units that can capture cities, airports, seaports, and bases. They are instrumental to securing victory, but their movement is limited and they are weak to just about everything. APCs, Transport Copters, and Landers can ferry Infantry and Mechs great distances, but they need the protection of other units due to their inability to attack. Of course, the units tasked with this responsibility also have their own set of strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered. Tanks can be devastating at close range, but long-range Rockets can make short work of them. Artillery can clean up enemies at medium range, but they are useless at close range.

Coming to grips with each and every unit can be a little daunting, but Re-Boot Camp has numerous tutorial missions across both games, many of which cover the same ground. The basics, such as commanding units and capturing cities, are handled in an optional Field Training menu, which can be accessed in both games. However, the first handful of missions in both campaigns also act as tutorials and run through the basics of armored, naval, and aerial warfare. These tutorials do a great job at showing you the strengths and weaknesses of each unit, but a lot of the same info is covered twice. This means that the early hours of Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising can drag on a bit if you start with the first game.

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