Uncharted: Legacy Of Thieves Review - Charted, Again

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Naughty Dog is one of the most recognizable names on PlayStation hardware, and the roaring success of its Uncharted franchise across two generations of the console plays a large part in that legacy. It makes sense then that the studio's first full release for the PlayStation 5 celebrates that storied history, bringing two of the series' best entries to new hardware with a suite of improvements that make experiencing the treasure-hunting adventures a pleasure again. Although some of the underlying design choices are showing some age, the Legacy of Thieves Collection is the best way to play Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Uncharted: Lost Legacy.

Across both games, the most significant changes are clear to see in the game's three modes of play. Fidelity mode targets a native 4K presentation, with the frame rate aiming for a locked 30fps(and sticking there for pretty much every scene). The new performance mode, which is likely the best way to play, reduces the resolution to 1440p but doubles the frame rate to 60fps, which it easily maintains for much more responsive gameplay. A third mode, Performance+, cuts the resolution even more, with a native 1080p presentation and a frame rate that aims for 120fps. You'll need a display that supports that in the first place, and even then, it's a tough concession to make visually for added fluidity that's not really required for the narrative-focused adventures that this collection contains.

What the additional horsepower of the PS5 offers, then, is choice, which wasn't present with the original releases on both the PS4 and PS4 Pro. Both Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy have been playable on PS5 through backwards compatibility, but have been frustratingly locked to the same 30fps cap as the PS4 versions in both respective campaigns. The higher frame rates for both were reserved for their respective multiplayer modes, which aren't included in this Legacy of Thieves Collection anyway.

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A Plague Tale: Requiem Review - Picturesque Terror

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There's a sequence in A Plague Tale: Requiem's fourth chapter where you're forced to flee a literal tsunami of rats. As you jump from one stone rooftop to another, the swarm of plague-infested vermin sweeps through the town below like raging flood waters, toppling over buildings at their foundations and consuming anyone caught in its destructive path. It's a moment of Hollywood spectacle that showcases the remarkable advancements in technology since A Plague Tale: Innocence was released in 2019. Whereas the first game could handle 5,000 rats at any one time, its sequel can populate the screen with a staggering 300,000. This vast multiplication enhances the terrifying and oppressive nature of the series' signature rodents, but moments like this are an outlier; for the most part, Requiem feels very familiar to its predecessor.

Although developer Asobo Studio has supplemented its stealth action gameplay with a few new additions, this sense of familiarity persists throughout the first half of the game. Like Innocence, Requiem puts you in the well-worn shoes of Amicia de Rune, a teenage girl who's tasked with protecting her younger brother, Hugo, as they traverse a plague-stricken, 14th-century France in search of a cure for his mysterious illness. Amicia is armed with a sling that can both kill helmet-less enemies and strike crates of conveniently-placed armor to create a distraction. You also have access to alchemical ammo that can either light fires or snuff them out, letting you navigate through the mischief of light-averse rats and use them to your advantage by shrouding enemies in darkness.

Amicia is a more proficient fighter this time around, so you're able to counter armored enemies after being spotted and leave them stunned for a few seconds. If you have a single-use knife handy, you can finish them off with a killing blow, but knives are hard to come by and also double as a tool for opening padlocked workbenches. These hidden stashes are filled with various crafting materials, so I always found it more advantageous to hold onto any knives I could get my hands on rather than wasting them on a single kill. You can also use Amicia's sling to strangle unarmored enemies by catching them unaware from behind. There's an element of risk and reward in doing so, however, since the animation is fairly lengthy and it's not completely quiet.

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Scorn Review

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Scorn reviewed by Leana Hafer on PC. Also available on Xbox. If Scorn were much longer than it is, I think it would have overstayed its welcome. But the fact that it's such a bite-sized sprint through the grisly and surreal made it memorable and satisfying. The frustrating combat, mercifully, only haunts a fraction of that playtime. But the superb, darkly mystifying art direction and ambient soundtrack suffuse the whole thing like rancid blood bringing a creaky corpse back to life. It's an uneasy, sometimes disorienting experience from end-to-end. Yet, it's one I don't regret plunging into.

Scorn Review - Pound Of Flesh

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Scorn is designed to be disgusting. The walls of its labyrinthine halls are constructed with twisting contortions of flesh, and its mechanically complex contraptions are drenched in the blood of discarded carcasses that lay decaying without care. The inspirations of Scorn's aesthetic are familiar but well-implemented, creating an atmosphere of languish and disgust that is maintained throughout. However, disappointingly, Scorn's infuriatingly unbalanced combat, uneven puzzle design, and severely restricted checkpointing make its setting the least off-putting part about it.

Scorn's most immediate impression comes from its aesthetic. This is textbook H.R. Giger, with the artist's flair for biomechanical structures influencing every biome you visit in Scorn. If you've watched Prometheus recently, you'll be quite familiar with the types of interweaving, fleshy layouts that Scorn has in store, with some variety in each new area preventing the presentation from feeling stale. The gratuitous violence and frequent body horror is less impactful, however. There is some initial shock value in seeing your arm mangled as a new key item is seared into it or watching as a parasite latches onto your body to slowly rip out your intestines, but many of these actions are repeated frequently enough that their impact diminishes over Scorn's seven-hour runtime. Scorn's violence isn't memorable; instead it's a disappointing departure from the well-crafted horror of its inspirations, wasting the potential of its alluring aesthetic.

Exploration and puzzles are at the core of Scorn's gameplay loop. You'll explore a handful of different constrained biomes during each of the game's five acts, all of which are large, multi-step puzzles made up of small ones that must be solved in a specific order. Most solutions come about through simple exploration; each space has multiple areas for you to poke around in but usually only one correct path to follow, meaning you'll regularly come across multiple dead ends before arriving at the correct route to take. Interactive consoles often let you manipulate the space, too, moving around large objects to complete other routes that let you progress further into the biome you're currently in. Each of these spaces is like one big Rube Goldberg machine that you're slowly activating one piece at a time, and it's satisfying to see levels fold in on themselves and click into place once you've got everything down. This is crucial given Scorn's purposeful lack of storytelling, with only two short cutscenes at its start and end tasking you with making any sense of everything in-between.

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PGA Tour 2K23 Review - Links To The Future

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From a pure golfing perspective, PGA Tour 2K23 is the best simulation golf game ever made. With realistic ball physics, precise shot-shaping, and an emphasis on rhythm and swing path, 2K23 delivers on the many idiosyncrasies of the beautiful game that is golf. Combine the refined golfing mechanics with deeper levels of customization, and I can safely say that PGA Tour 2K23 is a meaningful upgrade over its predecessor. And hey, it also marks the return of Tiger Woods to the virtual links, which is a big deal for those who grew up playing Tiger Woods golf games.

PGA Tour 2K23 is the first new entry in the series in two years. That's unusual for sports games, as most have annual entries. After spending more than a dozen hours with 2K23, I'm starting to feel like this release model--where developers have more time to make improvements--would go a long way toward fixing many of the issues that plague long-running sports series. It doesn't offer minor, iterative changes. Instead, PGA 2K23 is a marked improvement on its predecessor–a rarity in the sports sim genre.

The PGA 2K series--previously called The Golf Club before 2K acquired HB Studios--has always done a remarkable job with swing mechanics. Emphasizing timing and rhythm more than popular golf games of yesteryear, the series makes each swing feel critical--just like the real sport. PGA Tour 2K23 follows that tradition and improves on it with a couple of new core features: a revamped swing meter and a three-click swing system.

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