Today I Played: Saints Row 4's Christmas DLC

Happy holidays!As a sucker for both the Saints Row franchise and holiday-themed video games, I was thrilled to hear about this holiday-themed downloadable content. Finally, I could see Santa, Mrs. Claus and the North Pole from the peak of a 500 ft. super jump. Ultimately, the DLC wasn't quite what I wanted for Christmas. And yet, it captures what I love most about this time of the year: the pervasive optimism, the glowing lights and the overdue chance to spend time with old friends. Like the Saints Row series itself, the DLC is scrappy and a bit undercooked, but filled with enough goodwill to cheer up the grumpiest Grinch.

Today I Played: Dead Rising 3

What's wrong with Dead Rising 3?I've been struggling to verbalize what I find so unsatisfying about Dead Rising 3. It's a finely crafted game that I think plays to people like my colleague Russ Frushtick. You know these types, maybe you are this type: the person who gladly devotes hours to scouring a virtual open world for items hidden in easy to overlook corridors and closets. When it comes to stuff, Dead Rising 3 has you covered. Plus, it looks great, even if the occasional car materializes as if summoned by a warlock. The boss fights, which can be reduced to repeatedly punting ammunition at an overpowered enemy, are insufferable, but hardly enough to spoil the overall experience. So what's the deal? The sticking point for me, I'm beginning to think, is this restricted sense of...

Watch eight hours of Battlefield 4 in five and a half minutes

Maybe it's time military shooters drop single-player campaigns.In the past, when the community discussed the relevance of single-player in first-person shooter, I firmly stood by campaigns and their tepid politics, muddy story lines and oh my gosh you blow up everything how awesome is that missions. Things changed over the past couple years. Developers, in hopes of winning over the naysayers, have unlearned what they knew best: levity. Where old military campaigns undercut the violence with absurdity, the modern shooter campaign is terse and serious. The EA marketing team has pushed Battlefield 4 as a shooter with soul. Here's the rub: if I believe these characters I'm shooting are human, that they have a soul, then I don't want to be shooting them, because that's profoundly...

Today I Played: Grand Theft Auto 5 (spoiler-free!)

Flash back to last week.After years of waiting, I finally have a copy of Grand Theft Auto 5. What I don't have is time. Yes, I've got just six hours to plow through as much of the game as possible before Polygon's copy has to go back to the reviews team to prep for the video review. So what did I do with that time? CRIME! As you can see in this very special episode of Today I Played, I tried my hardest to walk the straight-and-narrow, but it seems the world of San Andreas just isn't made for the do-gooders.

Today I Played: Saints Row 4

If you haven't played a Saints Row game, then Saints Row 4 probably isn't what you assume it is. Developer Volition has transformed one of the medium's most despicable series into a savvy parody, and has done so without relinquishing a lot of the original's base appeal. The plot of Saints Row 4 progresses via a series of sex scenes, shootouts and poop jokes, but with pleasure and levity, not cynicism and cruelty. It's scrapped human enemies of previous entries for aliens, and most of the extreme violence for cartoon-like attacks. Watch the video for footage of the Inflatoray and the Weapon of Mass Abduction. Saints Row 4 is the ideal game for a Today I Played, because its world is like a performance space. There are streets, skyscrapers and elevated train tracks, sure, but really the...

Today I Played: Earth Defense Force 2025

Earth Defense Force 2025 is the must-own game of the summer — ahem!Excuse me — ahem! — sorry, something's caught in my throat. Ahem! Right. Where were we? Oh. Yes. Earth Defense Force 2025 is the must-own game of the summer if you live in Japan. The latest in the alien-blasting, city demolishing series debuted on July 4 with a healthy 177,000 units sold, and was only released in a single country: Japan. The game won't arrive in the United States and Europe until early 2014, and by then I imagine the hardcore gamers that care about obscure, graphically-lacking B-movie simulators will have moved on to the warm arms of their next-generation hardware. Now — before were overwhelmed by Xbox One's and PlayStation 4's — is the perfect time to experience Earth Defense Force 2025....

Today I Played: Ouya

Can a $99 console compete with the big boys?The Ouya is finally upon us. Since its wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the Android-powered console has had plenty of buzz and cautious optimism around it. But can it possibly stand up against the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo? Russ Frushtick and Chris Plante attempted to find that out in the first ever console-centric episode of Today I Played, covering setup, software and the glories of TowerFall. Update: Some folks have been asking about setup time. It seems this varies greatly from person to person. If everything works as it should, the setup process should take about 15 minutes. That said, we've run into a number of issues that slow down the process considerably. These include controller connection issues, Wi-Fi connection...

Today I Played: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

I have gone back to the future.We began Today I Played last year with Far Cry 3. Today, we revisit the franchise with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Blood Dragon defies traditional descriptions of mainstream video games: it's not a sequel, nor is it a downloadable expansion; it can be played without a copy of Far Cry 3, but assumes the player has some experience with its namesake; it is set in the future, but of an alternate past. There's a lot to chew on if you want to, but you probably don't. Blood Dragon is best experienced on its most base level, rampaging through the neo-future island, detonating gas tanks, stabbing cyber-sharks and flashing the bird to the hundreds of robo-corpses left in your wake. I must say, I have one lingering complaint. Blood Dragon scraps Far Cry 3's inspired...

Today I Played: Monaco

There's no honor among bumbling fools.Here's the thing about Monaco: If you're not an expert, you're going to have a lot of trouble understanding what the hell is going on in the above video. The stylistic, minimalist HUD and graphics are not exactly friendly to newcomers. That's a bit of an issue when you're playing the game, and even more of an issue when you're watching four zany minutes of goofballs attempting to master its complexities. Monaco is the closest thing to Ocean's Eleven in game form. You select from a crack team of master thieves, each with their own special abilities, and use their skills to steal valuables from banks, embassies and yachts all over the globe. The game utilizes a top-down camera and fog of war, only letting you see what's in your direct line of sight....

Today I Played: BattleBlock Theater

Best friends?In this very special episode of Today I Played, we're experimenting with the time-tested technique of same-couch multiplayer. And what better game to test it out than BattleBlock Theater, which was designed from the ground up to end friendships? Yes, after an eternally long wait, BattleBlock Theater has finally dropped, so Chris Plante and I are jumping into the deep end, playing hours and hours (and hours) of the campaign and its bevy of multiplayer modes. Will we come out the other side or is this the end of Today I Played? (Spoiler: It's not. We'll still be doing a bunch of them. Don't worry.) More episodes of Today I Played

Today I Played: BioShock Infinite

I've kept spoilers to a minimum.I understand. You're worried about the video revealing major story twists. I respect that, and if you've somehow managed to avoid all pertinent previews, trailers and tweets over the course of BioShock Infinite's protracted development, I urge you to bookmark this page and play the game. That said, if you have read previews — specifically, those from a December demonstration of the game's first few hours — I assure you that I don't reveal anything more. While I normally try to play through the entirety of a game for Today I Played, I restrained this video to the game's first third. More than the majority of its contemporaries, BioShock Infinite pivots on its "twists," and while criticism should be free of criticism, my video shouldn't be the thing that...

Today I Played Gears of War: Judgment

Chainsaws! Bug people! Biceps!Yes, a new Gears of War release is upon us. But Gears of War: Judgment is not your usual Gears sequel. This time around, Epic's working with Bulletstorm-developer, People Can Fly. and they're focusing on the be-goggled Baird and his travails shortly after the first Locust invasion. This is not my first Gears of War rodeo. I've played through all of the games thus far. But, unlike the other games in the series, I knew extremely little about this release before playing. Which made jumping into the action a little tricky at first. But, in no time, I was stomping giant centipedes with ease. Finding their eggs, though. That was an entirely different story. Click here for more episodes of Today I Played Click here for Polygon's review of Gears of War: Judgment

Today I Played: SimCity

I always thought of SimCity as a peaceful game; I was wrong.I experimented with SimCity games during grade school, but I would hardly call myself a simulation gamer. If you've watched previous Today I Playeds, you might have noticed my affinity for action and adventures games. Yeah, I like smart, thoughtful, slow games, but I also love blowing stuff up. I'm a simple man. Squeezing a button and being rewarded with streams of visual mayhem plays to my id. Simulations, they were usually too slow. I could play a simulation game for hours, weeks even, and still lose. I was trained on cheap gratification, and these games expected so much from me. SimCity is a simulation for mouth-breathers like myself. Every click is rewarded with a snappy sound effect or orchestral trill. Neighborhoods and...

Today I Played: Tomb Raider

It's fair to say that Lara Croft is back.Tomb Raider has not exactly been a household name over the last few years. But Lara Croft's latest game, fittingly-titled Tomb Raider, feels like a return to past glories. Despite that, it also leaves a lot of the immaturity behind. Lara is finally a serious, well-rounded character. Someone you can sympathize with. A few years ago, the prospect of locking myself in a room to play the latest Tomb Raider game would have felt like torture. And even though plenty of this game features torturous moments for Lara, what I went through was quite the opposite. But hey, don't just read about it. There's video evidence! Here is Today I Played: Tomb Raider See all of the episodes of Today I Played here.

Today I Played: Dead Space 3

The Dead Space series' evolution from niche horror game to mainstream action adventure speaks to the state of its publisher, Electronic Arts. When the original Dead Space was released, EA was trumpeting an ambitious, pro-creative slate of games, including Mirror's Edge. In need of new properties, they afforded developers considerable freedom.EA's had a rough go over the following years, shuttering a number of studios, nurturing a more austere slate of games. Mirror's Edge never got a sequel. The Dead Space franchise gradually exchanged its slow, quiet horror for loud guns and explosive set pieces. Coming into this game, the franchises' trajectory seemed, to an outsider, shrewdly calculated. You can imagine a board room in which an executive says, "Gamers like co-op and train sequences...

Today I Played: Aliens: Colonial Marines

Before you join in me in a locked gaze with the infinite abyss, I recommend a read of my colleague Arthur Gies' Aliens: Colonial Marines review. Arthur tactfully dissects the creature, pulling back its skin to uncover its maladies.View this Today I Played as a travel journal. Join me on a journey into the darkness, where aliens move like humans and humans move like aliens. Behold the view from inside my colleague's animated face. Gasp as stray combustible barrels detonate my character's body like a water balloon full of strawberry soda. Video should help you better comprehend the flaws of Aliens: Colonial Marines. They are numerous. Some are painful, others are frustrating and a few are, intentionally or not, hilarious. If you had to choose, would you live in a world with Aliens video...
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