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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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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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Roller coaster builder Screamride revels in destruction

Image Screamride is aimed at giving players a blank canvas upon which they might construct and ride their ideal rollercoaster, but as this footage shows, the game's most interesting, bombastic moments come when a coaster goes off the rails and smashes through pieces of the background... Continue Reading

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]

PSA: Dark Souls 2's 'Lost Crowns' DLC trilogy now complete

Following a recent, unexpected delay, Dark Souls 2 fans can now download the final entry in the dark fantasy game's DLC trilogy, dubbed Crown of the Ivory King.

Like its predecessors, Crown of the Sunken King and Crown of the Old Iron King, Crown of the Ivory King is designed to test those Dark Souls 2 players who have bested the game's core challenges and are now ready for something even more difficult. "[O]nly the most hardcore, determined, and unrelenting fans will survive the onslaught of new enemies, traps, and bosses that have been devised to stop players from completing their quests in Crown of the Ivory King," reads the DLC's official description.

Like the other Dark Souls 2 DLC releases, Crown of the Ivory King can be purchased for $10 from the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Marketplace or Steam. Those who would prefer to buy all three DLC packs at once and are playing Dark Souls 2 on a PC can grab the game's Season Pass from Steam for $25.

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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]

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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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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Rejoice! Visceral says Battlefield Hardline 'will work' at launch

Battlefield Hardline will operate as expected at launch, according to Ian Milham, creative director at Visceral Games. "What you're basically asking is, 'Is your game going to work?' And the answer is yes, it's gonna work," Milham told Game Revolution.

The statement follows a rough launch for the last game game in the series, DICE's Battlefield 4, which suffered months of connectivity issues after its October 2013 arrival. That led to multiple law firms alleging that publisher EA issued "materially false and misleading statements" regarding Battlefield 4's playability. When a CEO like EA's Andrew Wilson publicly deems a game's launch as "unacceptable," questions about the next game's stability will certainly come up.

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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax's Margaret, accessory DLC priced

Last month we learned that the Velvet Room's Margaret will summon ass-kickings in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, but a more-recent press release from Atlus has laid the DLC pricing-related cards on the table. Serving as both the date of Margaret's arrival and when at-launch freebies Adachi and Marie will convert to paid DLC characters, October 7 is when "all three characters will be priced at $4.99."

The press release also notes rates for other DLC, including the Complete P4A Story for $9.99, extra colors and pairs of glasses going for $1.99 each (or $5.99 in two different sets), and navigator voices for $2.99, with options including Teddie, Yosuke, Aigis, Nanko, Mitsuru, Adachi and Fuuki.

While you're determining the exchange rate for converting your love of Persona into funds for DLC, you can watch Margaret show off some combos in a trailer after the break.
[Image: Atlus]

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Report: Destiny bug leaks expansion mission names, descriptions early

Missions, strikes and raids, oh my! A bug in Destiny has reportedly leaked the names and locations of several pieces of content set to arrive with the expansions for Bungie's sci-fi shooter, the first of which is due in December. According to a YouTube video posted by "Scott M" (who is not the original owner of the video), the expansions will collectively introduce at least two raids and four strike missions. Other, more spoiler-y info ahead.

We already knew that Destiny's expansions - The Dark Below and House of Wolves - would introduce new content, but thanks to the YouTube video from Scott M (which you can watch after the break), we have a clearer idea of what to expect. For example, while the latter half of Destiny revolves around finding and destroying something called The Black Garden, a strike mission that appears to be associated with the The Dark Below expansion suggests that the Guardians' enemies are working hard to resurrect it. A raid for that expansion, titled "Crota's End," suggests there is yet more to discover under the moon's surface.

Descriptions for House of Wolves content seems incomplete, though. When highlighted in-game, a raid mission apparently tied to the second expansion simply reads, "Reef Raid Description." That's at least better than the House of Wolves strike mission on the moon, which reads, "moon_portal_1." But then, Destiny hasn't really been known for having stellar dialogue.


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