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Skylanders Trap Team review: Broccoli Guy's unjust desert

Skylanders' success is borne of equal parts solid game design and marketing savvy. Its central conceit – buy small plastic figurines in order to summon in-game characters – is instantly appealing for kids, and its Gauntlet-styled action-RPG gameplay makes it a guilty pleasure for adults.

The franchise's "toys to life" mantra, despite its potential for audience exploitation, rewards dedicated fans with bonus content and unlockables that mirror the size of their toy collections. There are now hundreds of Skylanders toys to collect, but to date, the series has maintained a delicate balance that ensures a fun experience both for hardcore collectors and for casual fans.

Skylanders Trap Team, the fourth major entry in the series, is the first Skylanders game to upset this balance. Trap Team still offers a fun journey at its core, but longtime fans will be disappointed to find out that they need to purchase several new figures in addition to an expensive starter set in order to explore the game to its fullest.

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PSN Tuesday: Shadow of Mordor, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Today's PlayStation Store update rolls out with a large selection of featured games, marking the digital debuts of Monolith's stealthy action-RPG Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Atlus' 2D fighter sequel Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.

The PlayStation 4 and PS3 share a number of premiering titles this week, including NIS America's tactical RPG Natural Doctrine, Koei Tecmo's large-scale brawler Warriors Orochi 3, and Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments. Notable Cross-Buy releases include the retro-styled RPG Pier Solar ($14.99) and vibrantly colorful rail shooter Futuridium EP Deluxe ($12.49).

This week also brings a handful of retro arcade compilations to Sony platforms, marking the PSN debuts of featured classics like Pole Position, Mappy, Gaplus, and The Tower of Druaga. Today's five Namco Museum releases are priced at $5.99 apiece.

[Image: Warner Bros]

Pre-order Alien: Isolation digitally, watch it download in terror

Digital pre-orders for Creative Assembly's frightful first-person game Alien: Isolation are now available. Players can put money down in advance of the game's impending launch in one week on Steam, PSN and Xbox Live to pre-download the game and pick up its season pass.

Xbox One players can pre-purchase the game's Nostromo Edition on Microsoft's store, which includes the full game as well as the "Crew Expendable" bonus content. PS4 and PS3 players can scoot over to PSN to pre-order either the Nostromo Edition or the Season Pass bundle, with individual passes available on launch day, October 7. Likewise, the Nostromo Edition as well as the Digital Deluxe Edition are available to pre-purchase on Steam, the latter of which also includes the game's season pass. The $30 season pass give players access to Alien: Isolation's survivor mode map packs.

Destiny State of Service: Week Three

This is State of Service, an ongoing review of the online service of a recently launched game. You can read our scored review of Destiny here.
Tuesday, September 30 | T-minus 9 days until final verdict
Current State of Service:
Good
Summary: Destiny servers have been largely stable, with a couple of hiccups. Bungie closed the "Loot Cave" exploit, though players have already flocked to a new one. An upcoming patch aims to improve the loot system.

Destiny's third week was mostly a smooth one, with only a few isolated server problems. Bungie noted sign-in issues across all platforms on Thursday, September 25, which were resolved quickly. Xbox 360 players ran into similar trouble on Monday, September 29, but these too were quickly rectified. The Joystiq staff encountered no outstanding complications at all last week. Meanwhile, Bungie states that it is still addressing outlying networking issues, reporting that "Bee," "Lion," or "Fly" error codes have been reduced by 50 percent over the last week.

Elsewhere in the galaxy, Bungie put an end to Destiny's infamous "Loot Cave." Undaunted, players immediately latched onto a different Loot Cave. Perhaps in response to the design problems that the Loot Cave represents, Bungie announced that patch 1.0.2 will significantly change the loot system. Namely, Purple Engrams will guarantee Legendary quality items, while Blue Engrams will guarantee Rare or better quality items.

If you encounter any connection problems while playing Destiny, let us know in the comments, or on the Joystiq Twitter or Facebook accounts. Use the hashtag "#sos" and specify your platform, please.

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Get a push, win the belt in WWE 2K15's 'My Career' mode

2K Sports offered details today on WWE 2K15's other career mode, My Career. Much like the mode of the same name in Visual Concepts' NBA 2K series, in My Career, players take a custom wrestler through the career path of a WWE superstar. The mode begins by having players learn the ropes at the Orlando-based WWE Performance Center, eventually headlining WrestleMania and winning the top championship titles in the company.

The mode features seasoned trainer Bill DeMott and general manager Vickie Guerrero, the latter setting matches and giving wrestlers goals to advance their career. As the journey unfolds, wrestlers improve their attributes and unlock new abilities and moves while developing alliances and rivalries with others on the WWE roster. With each decision a player makes in My Career, the crowd's reaction will change and "multiple branching storylines, surprises, twists and turns" will manifest, complimenting the game's other, historical career mode, 2K Showcase. WWE 2K15 will launch October 28 for Xbox 360 and PS3, arriving later on November 18 for PS4 and Xbox One.
[Image: 2K Sports]

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Joystiq Streams: Casting a fiery eye on Shadow of Mordor



JOY-STIQ! JOY-STIQ! JOY-STIQ! STREEEEAAAAAMMMMMMMMS! One day, when we're all War Chiefs in Sauron's army of Uruks, that's what they'll chant. From high and low, they'll call our names out, afraid of our endless wrath and prowess in battle!

Then again, it seems like being an Uruk is hard work. You're outside literally all the time, giant pig-wolf things are always trying to eat you, and there is almost always a bearded dude carrying half a sword skulking in the shadows waiting to stab you. Forget it. Joystiq Streams may not be ready for war chiefdom, but we're certainly ready to play Shadow of Mordor for your viewing pleasure.

Starting at 4:00PM EST on Joystiq.com/Twitch, Richard Mitchell (@TheRichardM) will be playing through Mordor's early missions. Alexander Sliwinski (@Sliwinski) and Anthony John Agnello (@ajohnagnello) will be around to talk about the game's subtleties and hang in the chat. Show up early for the pre-show tomfoolery.

Joystiq Streams airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00PM on Joystiq.com/Twitch, but if you want to catch all our streams make sure to follow us on Twitch.

[Images: WBIE]

Dreamfall Adventures debut chapter arrives in late October

Despite earlier reports, developer Red Thread Games has announced that its episodic adventure game Dreamfall Chapters will premiere on October 21.

"Book One of the Kickstarter-funded game will be distributed to project backers, and will be available to download on Steam for PC and Mac, and on Linux on Tuesday, October 21," reads the developer's announcement. No specific date is offered for the PlayStation 4 version of Dreamfall Chapters, but the developer claims the console game will be available in "early 2015."

According to Red Thread, Book One will cover the game's prologue and first two chapters. The game's remaining four Books will complete the tale, though there's no word on when those additional episodes might arrive.
[Image: Red Thread Games]

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The Legend of Korra difficulty level just for Platinum fans



The Legend of Korra has a special difficulty level tuned for fans of Platinum Games – Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – producer Atsushi Kurooka says in the latest behind-the-scenes video. Activision approached Platinum to do The Legend of Korra, and the show's depth and silky smooth fight scenes convinced Kurooka it was "worth the challenge," as he puts it. And the final boss fight? It "has Platinum Games written all over it."

The video shows off a few cool fight scenes between the talking heads, too. The Legend of Korra is due out on October 21 on PS3, PS4 and PC, and on October 22 on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Track, time Destiny public events online

Public events in Destiny can be hit-or-miss, but there's a simple way to up your own hit ratio: DestinyPublicEvents.com. This website isn't sanctioned by Bungie or Activision, but it offers a collection of events happening right now and those to come soon. Each event is on a timer, and the site displays the amount of time left in each entry. Everything is broken down by region: Earth, Moon, Venus and Mars.

Be lonely no longer, Guardians, and have fun collecting that Glimmer. Thanks for the tip, @PunkrawkBbob!
[Image: Destiny Public Events]

Project Cars targets 1080p on Xbox One, PS4

Visual fidelity has always been important to players, especially when the resolution between two versions of a game doesn't match. A class-action lawsuit was even filed over a multiplayer game that failed to live up to its promised resolution. With that in mind, racing fans will be happy to know that Project Cars is aiming for 1080p and 60 frames per second on PS4 and Xbox One. Slightly Mad Studios' Andy Tudor told Eurogamer that while recent Xbox One demos of the racer were "not quite 1080p at the moment," the developer is "still aiming to get there."

"Towards the end of the game you're always optimizing, and during development it's a rollercoaster. Sometimes you look at the game and think oh god, that's not working, that's not working. But other days you hit 60 fps, and it's awesome," Tudor said. He explained that the "physics underneath runs at 600 times a second," and that the developer calculates "the input you're doing on the controller 250 times per second." The racing sim will launch on the next-gen systems as well as PC on November 18, arriving in 2015 on SteamOS and Wii U.
[Image: Bandai Namco]

Bungie: Leaked Destiny DLC descriptions are real, not final

The nuggets of information about coming Destiny DLC packs have been verified by Bungie Community Manager DeeJ in the Destiny forums. Some players this weekend hit an in-game glitch that revealed information about two DLC bundles, The Dark Below and House of Wolves.

"We noticed that you noticed that we already have plans for upcoming content packs in Destiny," DeeJ writes. "We do! They have activity names (which may or may not change) and we have a really good idea what they're going to contain. They even have placeholder nodes in the Director, as you've already discovered. But neither of the Expansion Packs we've announced are finished."

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Joystiq Deals: VPN Unlimited, Injustice, Wind Waker HD

This edition of Joystiq Deals aims to keep your web browsing safe from prying eyes no matter where you're logged onto the 'net, while Amazon has discounts on two recent hit games.

For the next three days, Joystiq Deals members will be able to purchase a three-year premium VPN Unlimited membership for $19, a 70 percent discount off the subscription's standard $65 price point. For that money, VPN Unlimited offers access to region-locked websites, prevents others from viewing your web history or intercepting data and makes even the most insecure public wifi hot spot as safe as your home network. More details and everything you'll need to subscribe can be found at the Joystiq Deals website.

On the gaming side of things, Amazon has $10 discounts on two big-name game releases. Wii U exclusive epic adventure The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD is currently available at $40, while the PlayStation 4 re-release of Netherrealm's superhero fighter Injustice: Gods Among Us can be purchased for $20. Injustice earned 4.5 of 5 stars in our review, while Wind Waker HD was described as "an excellent opportunity to enjoy one of Nintendo's most satisfying experiments."
[Image: Nintendo]

Shadow of Mordor season pass trailer tastes a little Sauron

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment may have revealed its $25 season pass for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor last month, but it's now offering a closer look at the add-ons that pass holders are guaranteed access to. The DLC includes an exclusive Guardians of the Flaming Eye mission and two story missions, Lord of the Hunt and The Bright Lord.

The latter quest has players controlling Celebrimbor, "the great Elven smith of the Second Age," eventually encountering the Tolkien universe's primary antagonist, Sauron. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will launch tomorrow for PS4, Xbox One and PC. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game were delayed to November 18 earlier this month. It received good marks critically, including our five-star review that praised the Mordor's Nemesis system. Head past the break to see the game's season pass trailer.

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PvZ: Garden Warfare's Legends of the Lawn update drops tomorrow


A sizable update for PopCap's team-based shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare launches on September 30 across all available platforms, publisher Electronic Arts announced today.

The new "Legends of the Lawn" update introduces over 200 new customization items and seven character variants, including Golf Star, Centurion, Paleontologist, Chomp Thing, Alien Flower, Jade Cactus or Sanitation Expert. Also featured is the new "Taco Bandits" gameplay mode, a Capture the Flag variant that challenges the Zombies team to steal away delicious tacos from the defending Plants. Mmm, tacos.

Legends of the Lawn will be available as a free download starting tomorrow for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PS3, and PC platforms.

[Video: Electronic Arts]

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Destiny at the drive-thru: Taco Bell gives away white PS4 packs

Starting October 9, purchase a PS4-branded Taco Bell Big Box and text the included code for a chance to win a bundle including a white PS4 and Destiny. Taco Bell and Sony Computer Entertainment America promise to pick a winner every 15 minutes during the promotion, which ends on November 19.

The bundles include a white PS4, white DualShock 4, a physical copy of Destiny, two additional Destiny download codes, a voucher for the Destiny Engram "Gear Pack" and a 30-day PlayStation Plus membership (available only for new Plus members only). Plus, you get whatever food you ordered in the first place.

Taco Bell has held these promotions before, notably with the Vita and the launch of the PS4. See links for the official rules and a visual breakdown of the contest here.
[Image: Taco Bell]

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