Sicilian Holiday – Hunting Nazis In Sniper Elite 4’s Picturesque Bittani Village

When we last saw Lt. Karl Fairburne, he was causing problems for German tank production plans in North Africa. As Sniper Elite 4 begins, Fairburne and his collection of rifles find themselves in nearby Sicily, where the local militia is fighting Nazi occupation. This means it is Fairburne’s job to thin out the local Nazi population, primarily by means of Sniper Elite’s signature long-range shooting and cartoonishly gory slow-motion kills.

I explored the game’s second level, Bittani Village, for about an hour to get a sense of what has changed for Sniper Elite during its transition to current-gen exclusivity. Prior to beginning the level proper, the first big change from Sniper Elite 3 is front and center. Fairburne now has a hubworld to return to between missions where he can talk with resistance NPCs and fellow OSS officers who provide tips and intelligence about the area ahead. One character suggested looking around the church cemetery, while another warned of a dangerous German sniper. These tips and optional objectives are penciled onto your map when you set out on the main mission.

Once I arrived in the true mission area, the action became familiar. I could see Nazi patrols at the edge of the village as soon as I stepped off the dinghy on Bittani’s nearby beach, and I had the choice of whether to start shooting right away, eliminate them quietly, or sneak around. Fairburne carries the standard loadout of rifle, submachine gun, pistol and knife, as well as a selection of grenades or mines.

While it is possible to charge ahead guns blazing, it’s usually not a great idea. Enemies can hear gunfire from a long way off and will investigate in force when it sounds like bullets are flying. Fairburne can use this to his advantage, though, by leaving mines and tripwires in likely paths before causing a ruckus.

The third Sniper Elite featured more open levels than its predecessor, and Sniper Elite 4’s Bittani is a further improvement. Bittani is much larger than any locations in earlier games, and there are far more possible paths through it. I started the level on a small beach and in the distance I could see a large church, and several large plazas. There’s a ton of verticality to the level as well, as Bittani rises from the shoreline up along a hillside.

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After creeping through Bittani and helping the anti-fascist Partisans fight off a German attack on the church, I headed east and out of town. I was worried about moving around much with that enemy sniper on the loose. The eastern road led out through a large archway, passed a vineyard and over a bridge across a steep sea inlet. Pulling out my binoculars, I spotted the likely sniper nest: an old three-story stone watchtower that overlooked the beach below. Two German soldiers were standing near its base, chatting and oblivious to my approach. Crouching behind a handy bush, I dropped the first with a bullet through the neck, and the second barely had enough time to squeeze off a couple rounds in my direction before he was down as well.

The approach to the tower was unguarded now, so I slunk forward, keeping to shadows. A final panicked dash from the woods to the tower’s base and I was out of the danger zone. Inside, the rickety stairs had rotted, forcing me to climb the outside walls to reach the top. Once I managed to pull myself up, I saw that my rival sniper hadn’t seen me coming at all. He was scanning the shoreline far below. Careful not to make a sound, I inched up behind him and planted a knife in his neck. Danger eliminated.

The sniping is still the main draw and Sniper Elite’s over-the-top X-ray death camera is back in force. The game rewards good shooting with a slow motion trip alongside your bullet as it travels from rifle muzzle to the opposite side of an enemy cranium, smashing jawbones and eyeballs on the way. Close-up stealth takedowns now can trigger this gruesome X-ray vision too, but as with the game’s aim-assists, players can adjust or disable this feature if it proves to be a bit too much.

Sniper Elite 4 doesn’t seem to be making massive changes to the series’ established formula, but the adjustments it does make – bigger environments, a more open world – all look like improvements. The game will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC February 14.

Beta Test Sicilian Holiday – Hunting Nazis In Sniper Elite 4’s Picturesque Bittani Village

Test Chamber – Super Mario Challenge Is The Highlight Of Mario Maker 3DS

Super Mario Maker For Nintendo 3DS is out tomorrow, and though is has some shortcomings compared to the Wii U version, it does have Super Mario challenge.

Super Mario Challenge is a large collection of new levels made by Nintendo, and they’re very good. It’s basically a full Super Mario campaign, and it features challenges that force the player to often re-examine how they would normally approach a level. In the Test Chamber video below, Brian Shea and I show off a few of Challenge’s quality levels, go after a few medals, and play with the creation tools, which are nearly identical to the Wii U version of the game.

For our review of Super Maker for 3DS, head here. For our review of the Wii U version, head here.

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Beta Test Test Chamber – Super Mario Challenge Is The Highlight Of Mario Maker 3DS

The Definitive, XL Interview With Mortal Kombat's Ed Boon

This interview was conducted by Andrew Reiner and Suriel Vazquez, and transcribed by Michael Leri.

Ed Boon has likely been making video games longer than you’ve been alive. Years before he became the steward of the Mortal Kombat franchise, Boon was programming pinball and arcade games for companies that no longer exist. But despite his over 30-year history in the industry, he’s only ever really had one job.

To get a full view of what such a storied career looks like, we talked with Boon about his early days at Williams Electronics, some of the names Mortal Kombat could have had, and what it’s like working on the same series for over two decades.

Andrew Reiner: Let’s go all the way back, way back to first time you saw some kind of interactive entertainment like this. Take us through that day.

Ed Boon: I think my first interaction with any kind of interactive game, per se, would probably be pinball machines. From way, way back in the days of grade school. Our bowling alley had a bunch of pinball machines and we would play them. At the time, there was a concept called winning a free game. So you would get good at a game and the whole theory was “play on this for long a time with a quarter.”

Reiner: The bowling alley. Do you remember the name of that?

I know it was on Dempster Street. That’s the only thing I know. Because I remember it was down one main street from my house. I think it might have been called East of Eden’s Bowling Alley because there was an Eden’s Expressway. And it was just east of it.

Reiner: Do you know what took its place? Do you know if it’s there right now?

Yes. A furniture design store or something like that. 

Reiner: That’s unfortunate.

There’s very few arcade-type things like that anymore.

Reiner: Where did you grow up and go to that pinball arcade?

I was born in Rogers Park, which is in Chicago, and we moved to Evanston/Skokie which is like a suburb of Chicago when I was in grade school. Like fourth grade or something. I basically lived there until I went away to college – and then got this job, as a matter of fact. I lived there for about the first two years of my job as a pinball programmer, I was saving up to buy a condo because I was on this big kick of “I’m never going to pay rent in my life.” 

Reiner: And you went to school where?

For college, I went to [the] University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. It’s probably about a two-hour, two-and-a-half hour drive from Chicago.

Reiner: So you’ve never lived anywhere outside of Illinois?

No. Never. But I’ve been outside of Illinois.

Reiner: Obviously, when we go to school we have a vision of a different future for ourselves. I was going to be an artist and draw Punisher comics. What were you envisioning as your potential career?

When I was in high school, there was the Atari 800, the Apple II, the Commodore 64, the VIC-20. All those kind of personal computers were becoming available. I do remember I did have an Atari 800 and I was programming in Basic, and then I started learning assembly language, and I started getting into that. That was like my hobby. Trying to figure out how graphics work and where to write in memory to get a pixel to show up on the screen. This thing called player-missile graphics and all these things.

So when I went to school I was like, “Well that will probably be my hobby all the time, but I’ll have a real job, a regular job to pay the bills.” That was kind of like my artistic output thing. But I lucked into this job through a little asterisk I put on my resume that got my foot in the door to be a pinball programmer, which kind of led me to being able to do video games. I never thought “I’m going to do video games” because I just for some reason didn’t think that was an option.

Suriel Vazquez: So when you made that transition from working on pinball machines to video game stuff, how much did you think your skills in designing pinball would transfer over to working on video games?

It was mainly programming. Ways of solving problems of writing software. For the longest time I called myself a programmer. I called myself the game’s programmer and the ideas for the game to me were like the easy part. The challenge was, “how do we make that happen? How do we make this spear come out of his hand? How do we make fire come out of his whatever?” You had a whole bunch of really good ideas, but the implementation part was [harder]. So you learn programming techniques and safe ways to program and quick ways to program. So I think those applied. 

But the ideas were always like… you had more ideas than you had time to make them happen. So like I said before, the whole concept of a designer didn’t exist [until] many years later, even though I think I was deeply involved with design. I just kept calling myself a programmer. Those two jobs didn’t separate until many years down the line. 

Reiner: When you went into your first day at work, your first game was Millionaire.

Yeah. They put me on a game called Millionaire, which was just being finished up and they said, “Oh, do lamp effects and display effects” which was like the closest you could get to video programming on a pinball machine. So I did that to kind of learn how the system works. How do you turn on a lamp? How do you make this flasher go off? How do you make the display show this animation? And kind of just getting used to it. Unfortunately, at the time I thought it was unfortunate, [but] apparently I did a pretty good job on it because they asked me to do it again for another machine and they asked me to do it again for another. And I wanted to have my own game [where] I would do the rules and the effects, the whole gambit of things that a game programmer does.

Reiner: Did you get to make your own table?

Well, I never designed the table but I eventually became a game programmer. I was the only programmer on the game. That was a game called Space Station, which was a sequel to a pinball machine called Space Shuttle. I did a game called Taxi, and finally I did a game called Black Knight 2000, which was a sequel to a huge, huge game in ‘80s. Black Knight 2000 was the last pinball machine that I had worked on before I moved downstairs to the video game guys who were working on NARC and Smash TV and all those kind of classic games of the ‘90s. 

Reiner: Black Knight 2000, by the way, has the best soundtrack to date in a video game.

It does!

Suriel: That song is amazing! How did you guys go about making that dense of a song? Because it sounds very out of place in terms of putting it in a pinball machine.

That was totally the vision of a guy named Steve Ritchie. It was funny because he kept saying, “I want to hear a choir of angels singing.” It reminded me of how when people say what Freddy Mercury wanted for Bohemian Rhapsody was all the “Mama Mias” and stuff like that. And he kept pushing that. They went on the assembly line and they got these three or four ladies and they brought them into the studio to record these, “You got the power!” and all those lines that were in that game. And they sounded terrible. Oh my god. The two sound guys, Dan Forden and Brian Schmidt, who were the two audio guys in that game, they were just like, “This is not going to work. We have to get somebody who can actually sing.” I forgot who they found but they finally found somebody. But I remember that soundtrack to that game was certainly, especially for its time, was years ahead of its time. I still know the song in my head.

Suriel: Who does that voice… is that you?

The voice of the Black Knight?

Suriel: Yeah. The one who’s like “No way!”

Yeah, like “Give me your money!” [Laughs]. No that’s the designer, Steve Ritchie. He had a really deep voice. He’s the same voice that was the Mortal Kombat announcer for Mortal Kombat 2, 3, and maybe 4? He was “FINISH HIM!” I was the announcer for Mortal Kombat 1 and then Steve Ritchie took over as the announcer for Mortal Kombat 2, 3, and 4.

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Beta Test The Definitive, XL Interview With Mortal Kombat’s Ed Boon

The Game Awards 2016 – Winners, News, And Reveals

The Game Awards presentation continues to grow and evolve, even in it’s third year. This year’s ceremony included a memorial segment
for Hideo Kojima, multiple game reveals, hot new
trailers, and of course, an opportunity to honor game
developers.

We’ve gathered up the night’s stories and all the award winners (in bold).

2016 Industry Icon Award

Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima

Game of the Year
    Winner: Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
    Doom (id Software/Bethesda Softworks)
    Inside (Playdead)
    Titanfall 2 (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts)
    Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Best Game Direction
    Winner: Blizzard Entertainment (for Overwatch)
    EA DICE (for Battlefield 1)
    id Software (for Doom)
    Naughty Dog (for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End)
    Respawn Entertainment (for Titanfall 2)

Best Narrative
    Winner: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog)
    Firewatch (Campo Santo)
    Inside (Playdead)
    Mafia 3 (Hangar 13/2K Games)
    Oxenfree (Night School Studio)

Best Art Direction
    Winner: Inside (Playdead)
    Abzu (Giant Squid/505 Games)
    Firewatch (Campo Santo)
    Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
    Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog)

Best Music/Sound Design
    Winner: Doom (id Software/Bethesda Softworks)
    Battlefield 1 (EA DICE/Electronic Arts)
    Inside (Playdead)
    Rez Infinite (Enhance Games)
    Thumper (Drool)

Best Performance
    Winner: Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
    Alex Hernandez as Lincoln Clay, Mafia 3
    Cissy Jones as Delilah, Firewatch
    Emily Rose as Elena, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
    Rich Sommer as Henry, Firewatch
    Troy Baker as Sam Drake, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Games for Impact
    Winner: That Dragon, Cancer (Numinous Games)
    1979 Revolution: Black Friday (Ink Stories)
    Block’hood (Plethora Project/Devolver Digital)
    Orwell (Osmotic Studios/Surprise Attack)
    Sea Hero Quest (Glitchers)

Best Independent Game
    Winner: Inside (Playdead)
    Firewatch (Campo Santo)
    Hyper Light Drifter (Heart Machine)
    Stardew Valley (ConcernedApe/Chucklefish Games)
    The Witness (Thekla Inc.)

Best Mobile/Handheld
    Winner: Pokémon Go (Niantic Labs)
    Clash Royale (Supercell)
    Fire Emblem Fates (Intelligent Systems/Nintendo)
    Monster Hunter Generations (Capcom)
    Severed (DrinkBox Studios)

Best VR Game
    Winner: Rez Infinite (Enhance Games)
    Batman: Arkham VR (Rocksteady Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
    Eve: Valkyrie (CCP Games)
    Job Simulator (Owlchemy Labs)
    Thumper (Drool)

Best Action Game
    Winner: Doom (id Software/Bethesda Softworks)
    Battlefield 1 (EA DICE/Electronic Arts)
    Gears of War 4 (The Coalition/Microsoft Studios)
    Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
    Titanfall 2 (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts)

Best Action/Adventure Game
    Winner: Dishonored 2 (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
    Hitman (IO Interactive/Square Enix)
    Hyper Light Drifter (Heart Machine)
    Ratchet & Clank (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
    Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Best RPG
    Winner: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine (CD Projekt Red)
    Dark Souls 3 (FromSoftware/Bandai Namco Entertainment)
    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Eidos Montreal/Square Enix)
    World of Warcraft: Legion (Blizzard Entertainment)
    Xenoblade Chronicles X (Monolith Soft/Nintendo)

Best Fighting Game
    Winner: Street Fighter 5 (Capcom)
    Killer Instinct Season 3 (Iron Galaxy Studios/Microsoft Studios)
    The King of Fighters 14 (SNK/Atlus USA)
    Pokkén Tournament (Bandai Namco Studios/The Pokémon Co. International)

Best Strategy Game
    Winner: Civilization 6 (Firaxis Games/2K Games)
    Fire Emblem Fates (Intelligent Systems/Nintendo)
    The Banner Saga 2 (Stoic Studio/Versus Evil)
    Total War: Warhammer (The Creative Assembly/Sega)
    XCOM 2 (Firaxis Games/2K Games)

Best Family Game
    Winner: Pokémon Go (Niantic Labs)
    Dragon Quest Builders (Square Enix)
    Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TT Fusion/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
    Ratchet & Clank (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
    Skylanders Imaginators (Toy for Bob/Activision)

Best Sports/Racing
    Winner: Forza Horizon 3 (Playground Games/Microsoft Studios)
    FIFA 17 (EA Vancouver/Electronic Arts)
    MLB The Show 16 (SIE San Diego Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
    NBA 2K17 (Visual Concepts/2K Sports)
    Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (PES Productions/Konami)

Best Multiplayer
    Winner: Overcooked (Ghost Town Games/Team17)
    Battlefield 1 (EA DICE/Electronic Arts)
    Gears of War 4 (The Coalition/Microsoft Studios)
    Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
    Titanfall 2 (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts)
    Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

Most Anticipated Game
    Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo)
    God of War (SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
    Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
    Mass Effect: Andromeda (BioWare/Electronic Arts)
    Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Studios/Rockstar Games)

Trending Gamer
    Winner: Boogie2988
    AngryJoeShow
    Danny O’Dwyer
    JackSepticEye
    Lirik

Best Esports Player
    Winner: Coldzera – Marcelo David (SK Gaming, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)
    Faker – Lee Sang-hyeok (SK Telecom T1, League of Legends)
    ByuN – Hyun Woo (Starcraft 2)
    Infiltrator – Lee Seon-woo (Team Razer, Street Fighter 5)
    Hungrybox – Juan Debiedma (Team Liquid, Super Smash Bros.)

Best Esports Team
    Winner: Cloud 9
    SK Telecom T1 (League of Legends)
    Wings Gaming (Dota 2)
    SK Gaming
    ROX Tigers (League of Legends)

Best Esports Game
    Winner: Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
    Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Valve)
    Dota 2 (Valve)
    League of Legends (Riot Games)
    Street Fighter 5 (Capcom)

Additionally, you can catch up on all the news from the event with the following stories:

Beta Test The Game Awards 2016 – Winners, News, And Reveals

BioWare Shows Off Mass Effect Andromeda Gameplay

This article was written by Dan Tack.

At The Game Awards 2016 this evening, BioWare showcased a slice of gameplay action for the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda.

The trailer shows off many aspects of the game, including traversing vast planets, scanning and exploring environments, and getting into combat situations. From blaster weapons to special combat abilities, the combat slice shows off a variety of foes and fighting styles.

Check out the trailer below.

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For more on Mass Effect Andromeda, click here to view our cover story hub or click the banner below.

Beta Test BioWare Shows Off Mass Effect Andromeda Gameplay

Get To Know Javier's Backstory In Trailer For Telltale's The Walking Dead: A New Frontier

Telltale has unveiled an extended look at the upcoming third season for its episodic series The Walking Dead. Once again, you’ll be battling hordes of zombies (surprise, surprise), but the big change is that alongside Clementine, you’ll also be playing as new protagonist Javier.

In the trailer below, we see how the zombie apocalypse affected him and his family, and set him off on his new journey, where he crosses paths with a teenage Clementine.

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Telltale also revealed earlier during the show that the developer was working on a Guardians of the Galaxy spin-off series.

Beta Test Get To Know Javier’s Backstory In Trailer For Telltale’s The Walking Dead: A New Frontier

Halo Wars 2 Trailer Gives Spotlight To Villain

A new CGI trailer for the sequel to Halo Wars debuted at The Game Awards, showcasing a good bit of the story. The biggest slice of information is the focus on the game’s enemy, Atriox, a Jiralhanae chieftain who’s tactical genius is only matched by his imposing figure.

You can watch the whole thing right here:

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The original Halo Wars scored a 9. You can read our review here.

Beta Test Halo Wars 2 Trailer Gives Spotlight To Villain

Link Shows Off Swimming, Snacks, And Swordplay At The Game Awards 2016

In a video at the Game Awards 2016, Eiji Aonuma set the stage for a Nintendo Treehouse look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

During the journey, Link attempts to find a special shrine. Link quickly finds the Zonai ruins, where he battles some creatures with a bow. After taking a few blows, Link needs a snack so he chows on some greens. Link scales a cliff, swims through some water, fires off some arrows (he’s running low!), finds some loot, and eventually makes his way to the shrine.

Link executes a flurry rush, breaks his sword, finds some more weapons and hotswaps to a spear. There are bombs, some battles with some unfriendly creatures, and some cool Moblin clubs.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild hits Wii U and Nintendo Switch in 2017.

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Beta Test Link Shows Off Swimming, Snacks, And Swordplay At The Game Awards 2016

Lawbreakers Receives Splattery New Trailer

Boss Key Productions showed off some more of its new multiplayer shooter, Lawbreakers, tonight during The Game Awards show with a minute-long trailer packed to the brim with gore and frantic movement. You can watch the whole thing right here:

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You can read a bit more our hands-on time with the E3 demo of Lawbreakers here.

Beta Test Lawbreakers Receives Splattery New Trailer

Watch Nine Minutes Of Exclusive Prey Gameplay

Game Informer’s next cover story is Prey from Arkane Studios and we’re going to be filling this entire month with features that highlight different aspects of the game. To kick things off, here’s an extended gameplay video with a commentary track from the game’s creative director Raphael Colantonio and lead designer Ricardo Bare. There are a lot more exciting things to learn about Prey, so we encourage you to check out the digital version of the magazine (now available on smart phones) to learn much more about the game.

Watch the video below to see the game in action and learn all about it from two of the lead developers.

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Click on the hub below to enter our constantly-updating hub of exclusive content on Prey.

Beta Test Watch Nine Minutes Of Exclusive Prey Gameplay