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After a series of lackluster releases, the fortunes of Telltale changed for the better when its landmark first season of The Walking Dead dropped. It was a gritty, moving story that redefined narrative in video games, and it seemed for a time after that, Telltale could do no wrong. There have definitely been more successes than not when taking licensed properties and crafting original tales around their episodic, choice-driven formula since then—the Walking Dead, however, appeared immune to the occasional misstep seen in other series. This leads us to The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, the third full season of the saga which just released its final episode. Although it is still one Telltale’s stronger efforts, it pales in comparison to the previous two seasons.

The character of Clementine, the common thread through the first two seasons, is still present here to keep us connected, but takes a noticeable backseat as players control new character Javier “Javi” Garcia. Javi’s family has a close encounter with a walker early in the outbreak, which proves to be a turning point for him as a person. He takes it upon himself to care for his sister-in-law, niece, and nephew for the next several years as the walker threat spreads. When Javi—with family in tow somewhere between Baltimore, Maryland, and Richmond, Virginia—come across the wrong set of humans in a junkyard, however, they quickly realize the living is just as dangerous as the undead.

Unsurprisingly, the narrative across A New Frontier’s five episodes provides a lot of highs and lows for our characters. Keeping in line with previous Walking Dead games, there are a bevy of heart-wrenching moments, difficult decisions, and surprises to be had as you try to guide Javi and his family to some sort of safe haven. The limited time you have to make decisions ramps up the tension more than ever before, as Javi will often have to think quickly in terms of what to say (or what not to say) and where to go.

The only issue with this system in A New Frontier—and this is something that has crept into Telltale games before—is that sometimes some of the descriptions of what you want to say will cause you to make a choice, but then your character will say something you did not expect at all. If I choose “tell [insert character] off” then I’m expecting a few sentences laced with expletives, not for my character to suddenly reveal private information meant to hurt that individual on a deeper level. The result then may lead to something truly unexpected, but it’s frustrating when it stems from a choice you feel you really didn’t make.

Thankfully, those instances, at least in my playthrough of the season, were relatively few and far between. Something that plagued the narrative far more was the inconsistency of the writing quality as a whole. Each episode, even the double-long two-parter that kicks the season off, had plenty of those great moments I mentioned earlier—but unlike previous Walking Dead games, it felt like there were dramatic tonal shifts between episodes and writing teams. Nowhere was this more evident than in the final episode, which only had one lead writer instead of a full team. This episode had humor pop up in the weirdest places, which seemed to really undercut everything that had happened up until that point. The narrative for this season also relied more heavily on plot devices than in previous games. For example, each episode usually featured a couple of flashbacks. Some were used to fill in the nearly two-year gap for Clementine between Seasons Two and Three; others were trying desperately to add depth to the new cast of characters, who still ended up being far less interesting than any group we’ve previously played as. The device was neat early on, but already felt overplayed by the time episode four rolled around.

Speaking of devices, poor Clementine was relegated to deus ex machina this go around instead of the powerful, beloved heroine she was becoming after Season Two. She would come and go as she pleased during each episode, and it felt like whenever Javi had gotten himself into the most trouble, Clem would show up to find a way to bail him and his bumbling family out before continuing her own agenda elsewhere (which we almost never see). Admittedly, this could be a sore spot for me due to the attachment many of us have developed with this character over the years, but it felt like one of the better characters in video games was being underutilized.

That said, one new device the game added that I enjoyed was that those limited interactions with Clem played heavily into how much she helps you later on in the game. In fact, after seeing how all my decisions affected my playthrough, I was shocked that half of the audience alienated Clem by the end of the game, leading to many questions for potential new seasons that will hopefully switch the focus back to our darling Clementine. This added some much needed weight to the largest decisions you have in the game early on, and was a pleasant surprise.

The rest of the gameplay in A New Frontier was rather by the book otherwise. Telltale has gotten away from the puzzles of point-and-click adventures of the past, relying far more heavily on quick time events now. Although this helps greatly with the pace of the story, it removes almost any challenge from the game, making it feel less like you’re playing a game at all. Depending on how much you’ve invested in the narrative, this could be a potential turn-off if you’re looking to test your brainpower more than your reflexes. It also needs to be said that Telltale’s proprietary Telltale Tool game engine continues to show its age in the worst ways. There is nothing more immersion breaking than when someone is hurt in the game and the animation jumps when the blood splatters. I understand that Telltale has become a well-oiled machine in terms of being able to crank out episodes at a breakneck pace compared to just a few years ago, but it’s clear the game engine can no longer support the creative engine.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier isn’t the best season we’ve gotten of Telltale’s The Walking Dead—it’s strong narrative, although inconsistent at times, is still one of the more compelling and well-thought stories Telltale has produced, however. It took some chances with new plot devices, many of which I felt did not work, but this will hopefully provide opportunities to try other ideas that might work better instead. If you’re a big fan of these Walking Dead games, you’ll be happy you’ve played this, but like me, it’ll probably only make you want a new season as soon as possible where the focus shifts back to Clementine.

Publisher: Telltale Games • Developer: Telltale Games • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 05.30.17
7.5
It’s a solid third season for The Walking Dead, but we’ve seen so much better. Cheap plot devices and inconsistent tones in the writing hurt the overall quality of the narrative, and the Telltale Tool continues to show its age in the worst ways. And, for diehard fans, Clementine will still find a way to steal the show from the new cast.
The Good A New Frontier continues to show why The Walking Dead is Telltale’s most compelling property.
The Bad The Telltale Tool continues to show its age; writing inconsistency between episodes.
The Ugly My crying face—Telltale is too good at making you care about a character and then killing them off.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – The Complete Third Season is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, iOS, and Android. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Telltale Games for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

I’ve had mixed feelings when it has come to the GO series of mobile games from Square Enix. I loved Hitman GO, but was disappointed with Lara Croft GO. So, when it was announced that Deus Ex would be getting similar treatment, I obviously was hoping it would channel the former more than the latter—and it seems my hopes were answered.

Deus Ex GO opens with series protagonist Adam Jensen on a mission for Task Force 29. He must infiltrate an office building under attack by terrorists and save a man named Novak who is being held hostage. Jensen is too late, however, and Novak is executed. But, as is often the case in the world of Deus Ex, there’s more going on than meets the cybernetic eye. As Adam’s detective instincts kick in, he starts asking questions and pulling on loose threads, uncovering a dastardly plot that he must put a stop to.

It’s hard to tell exactly where in the timeline Deus Ex GO lands, but considering Adam is already working for Task Force 29, it has to at least be close to the beginning of Mankind Divided. If so, this serves as a nice way to help flesh out the universe even more, offering another way to bring some light to the lesser characters around Adam and the state of the world in 2029.

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Just like in previous GO games, Deus Ex GO plays out across dozens of levels. In this case, every new location is comprised of a few levels that Adam typically has to infiltrate as he digs deeper into this latest conspiracy. Each one has an overlay of dots on it, and Adam can move to them one at a time like spaces on a board game. Enemies and obstacles move at the same time as our hero, however—and if Adam moves the wrong way into the path of either, he dies and has to restart the level.

What I loved about Deus Ex GO is that, right from the start, it lets you know it’s not pulling any punches. Even putting aside the couple of times you’ll likely die when new enemies or mechanics are introduced (and you learn via some trial and error), Deus Ex GO is challenging, forcing you to re-think strategies often. There were even a few moments where I admit to getting suck and using one of the two “hacks” the game starts you off with, which can be used to automatically solve a level (with more available for purchase via microtransactions). It’s a brilliant brainteaser of an experience, and I enjoyed figuring out how to turn turrets, soldiers, and robots against each other—and to my advantage—as the game went on.

Of course, what’s also so great about Deus Ex GO is that it plays into the themes of the main series well. Stealth and hacking are at the core of Deus Ex, and Adam’s repertoire is built around this. By collecting well-placed charges around levels, Adam can activate powers—more of which he acquires as the game goes on—that assist him in advancing past each stage. From remote hacking terminals that change paths or turn turrets friendly, to making Adam invisible for one movement, or even later on to a gun that removes an enemy from the field, it felt like Square Enix Montreal was able to boil down the core of Deus Ex and put it in this neat little package.

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There’s also a lot of content here considering how long it might take you to figure out some of the puzzles if you don’t use the hacks. There are literally dozens of levels, plus daily bonus stages with rewards if you can beat every bonus stage during a particular week. It’s sad that the map editor didn’t make the launch of Deus Ex GO, but being able to build my own maniacal deathtraps and share them with friends adds way more replayability than previous GO titles, and I can’t wait until that arrives.

Unfortunately, like a poor stealth run in Mankind Divided, Deus Ex GO does trip a few alarms. The most noticeable (from a technical standpoint) is that the game crashes relatively frequently. It seemed around every few stages or so I’d be catapulted out of the game and back to my iPad main screen. I’m sure bugs like this will be smoothed out in the future, but it did become annoying after the third or fourth time it happened.

There’s also the fact that this is the GO series’ third game, and I think it’s time to start upping the presentation a little. The simplicity of a board game worked for Hitman GO, because it felt like Square Enix Montreal went all in with that motif. As they moved away from that in Lara Croft GO and here, and started crafting scenes that look like they belong in their respective character’s worlds, I can’t help but feel they then should go full boar with the presentation if that’s the way they want to go. It was so dull just looking at a static picture of Adam Jensen as single lines of dialogue popped up on a gray screen—give us some cutscenes between stage shifts, record some voiceovers, offer up a motion comic or two, or something.

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Deus Ex GO might not be running perfectly here at launch, and the presentation is a tad lackluster, but the gameplay provides a fun and challenging experience worthy of the franchise. With dozens of stages available at launch, along with weekly challenges, and the post-launch map editor on the way, there’s plenty of content that’ll keep you coming back for more once all the pieces are in place. As is, Deus Ex GO is a solid puzzler that should serve as a nice fix for those Deus Ex fans always on the move.

Publisher: Square Enix • Developer: Square Enix Montreal • ESRB Date: N/A • Release Date: 08.18.16
7.5
Does a great job of channeling the core of the Deus Ex series into a fun and challenging mobile title. Glitches and poor presentation hold the game back, though, at least here at launch.
The Good Puzzles are no pushover, while staying true to the Deus Ex universe.
The Bad A lot of crashing and instability. Presentation needs work.
The Ugly How much I want to see the map builder feature, which isn’t coming until a future update.
Deus Ex GO is available on iOS and Android. Primary version reviewed was for iOS. Review code was provided by Square Enix for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

Sources close to Microsoft, as well as a recently pulled job listing, point to Microsoft wanting to go cross-platform with Xbox Live according to a report from The Verge.

People who own a Xbox One or Xbox 360—and the three of you out there who have a Windows Phone—understand how Xbox Live allows for multiplayer matchmaking, a cross-platform friends list, and, of course, all those precious Achievements. As it stands now, though, it’s a pain in the neck for developers to make games for the platform due to the lengthy and rigorous certification process Microsoft puts titles through.

As part of a movement to try to win back developers and make it easier to get more games on Xbox Live, Microsoft now apparently plans to build a platform to allow for Xbox Live functionality to extend to iOS and Android.

“We will create a modern framework that is open-source, lightweight, extensible and scalable across various platforms including Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android,” a job listing for the project read before it was yanked from the interwebs.

Microsoft has already experimented with Achievements on these platforms before with Wordament, a word puzzler that came to iOS at the end of 2012 and hit Android just a few months later.

Expanding other Xbox Live services onto iOS and Android and dropping some of the shackles from the certification process could lure back some of the folks turned away by Microsoft’s old way of doing things. This holds especially true if the thought of importing already established friend lists and Achievements from consoles could draw in more gamers.