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WWE 2K24 Review - Long-Term Booking

Thu, 03/07/2024 - 11:14

The WWE 2K series has had a multi-year arc not unlike something you'd see watching WWE's shows on TV. Its 2020 installment was so broken, poorly received, and ultimately meme-ified that the team actually took a year off to fix its jobber-esque series--a rare sight in the world of annualized video games. But since then, it's been on the rise, getting pushed like a WWE superstar to the top of the card, and though WWE 2K24 doesn't yet finish the story, it seems like it's well on the path of cementing a new legacy for itself.

WWE 2K24 adds appreciable, albeit not revolutionary, improvements to last year's solid foundation across the board. The in-ring action is paramount, and WWE 2K24 thankfully builds on the already-excellent mechanics in that regard. There's more fluidity to chaining moves together, and it feels like, at any point in which your character has the upper hand, you can reliably emulate the escalation of a real-life match, with a deep assortment of move sets depending on where you are in the ring. An intuitive control scheme lets you set up a rival sitting atop the turnbuckle, staggered on the ropes, or lying on their back in the middle of the ring for an ankle lock with similar ease. The game simply always feels great to control.

Pairing those contextual attacks with a deep move set for every wrestler in which the left stick and face buttons combine to create excellent variety, 2K24 feels like it rolls out much of what made 2K23 already fun in my hands, but with a few new touches that I enjoy. This includes top-rope maneuvers onto a group of opponents rather than just one; Super Finishers, like Rhea Ripley's belt-winning Riptide from the second rope at last year's WrestleMania; and the ability to throw weapons. These are subtler changes than the complete overhaul the series received when it emerged from its darkest days a few years ago, but they're each welcome to the game and help further emulate the real-life product.

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The Outlast Trials Review - Immersion Therapy

Tue, 03/05/2024 - 07:16

One of the hardest reviews I've ever had to write was for Outlast 2. The game was so unnerving that it was hard to psych myself up enough to play it sometimes. The Outlast Trials, Red Barrels' first game since then, doesn't consistently reach those same heights, but it is memorably scary at times, and when it's not frightening, it's plenty rewarding in other ways. Taking a single-player horror series like Outlast and repurposing it as a four-player PvE game sounds like the kind of publisher-mandated live-service experiment too many teams have been tasked with lately. But as an indie team, Red Barrels seems to have steered its own course, and that may be why The Outlast Trials still feels like Outlast rather than a cynical project bearing the name.

The Outlast Trials is set in the Cold War, where you'll customize your figurative guinea pig for a lengthy series of vicious experiments within the Murkoff Facility. The game's opening moments, along with the lore, paint a scene so gruesome and wicked that'll be familiar to series veterans, but disquieting to those new to the Outlast universe.. After training to become sleeper agents who are psychologically deconstructed, tormented, and then brainwashed, you're eventually let back out into the free world awaiting your activation as a secret weapon. The context of your overarching mission is at least as dark as anything this team has done before--and it's set its bar quite high previously.

In practice, these experiments play out on various large maps like a police station, a courthouse, a carnival, and more. Each one is propped up as a facsimile of the real thing as you run through the Murkoff-made mazes like a lab rat. This involves many signature Outlast elements, none more emblematic than carefully crawling through the dark in first-person while desperately seeking salvation--or at least batteries--before your night vision runs out of juice.

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