Skull & Bones - Before You Buy

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Skull & Bones - Before You BuySkull & Bones (PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S) is Ubisoft's long-awaited online pirate game. How is it? Let's talk. Subscribe for more: ▼ Buy Skull & Bones: Watch more 'Before You Buy': #skullandbones

Helldivers 2 Review - Starship Bloopers

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It's a bold swing to dramatically change a formula that you know is working, but the gamble has paid off for Arrowhead Game Studios. Helldivers 2 opts for an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective as opposed to the original game's top-down view, making for a shooter that pulls you closer into the thick of its frenetic combat. This shift brings Helldivers 2's gameplay better in line with its ludicrous narrative tone, managing to create memorably explosive firefights despite the repetitive enemy types and map designs. Helldivers 2 is an incredible game--it sets out to be a rambunctious and entertaining shooter and hits that target with military precision.

Helldivers 2 sees you step into the patriotic boots of the titular fighting force, lowly grunts on the frontlines of an intergalactic war in defense of Super Earth. Missions take place on randomly generated planets, ranging from ice-covered tundras to lush jungles. You and your squad have a set amount of time to complete your main objective and any optional assignments, needing to successfully extract to bring any collected goodies back with you. Though you're armed with the usual weapons of war found in shooters (primary and secondary weapons, grenades, and healing syringes), your main means of dealing big damage and supporting your squad are the stratagems you can call in, such as powerful machine guns or explosive air strikes.

Stratagems make you a juggernaut of destruction, allowing you to call in absurdly powerful weapons to devastate anything in your path. Having the right one on hand can save a mission, but Helldivers 2 never punishes you for what you choose to bring into a fight--if you have a favorite, chances are it will always be useful in some capacity. They never make the game too easy, either--limited uses and timers restrict just how often you can call in the big guns, encouraging you to rely on your allies while you wait for your stratagems to recharge. Plus, there are a lot of enemies to fight in each mission, swarming you at a moment's notice. Calling in an airstrike and getting a 15-enemy kill streak feels amazing, but it doesn't change that once it's over there could still be another 20 enemies to clean up. The stratagems only get you so far--at some point, you have to get good at shooting with the normal weapons too, incentivizing you to improve and not just rely on a series of explosive hardware.

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Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered - Before You Buy

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Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered - Before You BuyTomb Raider I II III Remastered (PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch) collects the classic games in a convenient package with some modern upgrades and visual tweaks. How is it? Let's talk. Subscribe for more: ▼ Watch more 'Before You Buy':

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong Review - Silly Gorilla, Mini-Marios Are For Kids

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The original Mario Vs. Donkey Kong on Game Boy Advance was a victim of its own success. A successor to the stellar and underrated Game Boy version of Donkey Kong, it brought back many of the same puzzle-platforming mechanics with adorable mini-Mario toys serving as stage collectibles and story MacGuffins. But the minis ultimately became the stars of the sub-series and took over its identity. We've received a steady stream of Lemmings-like spin-offs since then, centered mostly around guiding minis through trap-filled stages. While those games were charming enough, they never quite recaptured the magic of Donkey Kong on Game Boy or Mario Vs. Donkey Kong on GBA. Thanks to a combination of quality-of-life improvements and visual flair that showcase what made those older games special, this Switch remake gives that original design ethos a new lease on life.

The minis are the impetus for the story, though, which begins when Donkey Kong spots the little clockwork toys and gets an insatiable appetite for them. He invades the Mario toy factory and steals all he can get his mitts on, and Mario--apparently concerned about his licensed merch--chases after the ape to recover them. Donkey Kong isn't the villain, per se, but more like a childlike, not-too-bright antagonist in an old cereal commercial.

The puzzle-platforming stages have Mario traversing through a series of traps and enemies to reach a mini-Mario in a vending capsule. You can collect a series of colored packages, carefully tucked away in hard-to-reach places, as a bonus in each stage. Once you've completed a series of six themed stages recovering the minis, there's a follow-the-leader stage where you guide them to the exit, attempting not to lose any along the way, and having them collect alphabet blocks (spelling "TOY," naturally). Then there's a boss stage against Donkey Kong, and the more minis you successfully guided in the previous stage, the more pips of health you have for the battle. Rinse, repeat. It's a nice little loop that allows each stage's goals to feed into the others.

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