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How and why we disemboweled 20 men in Hotline Miami 2

Distance may be the first horror racing game you ever play

As surprising as it sounds, Distance is a high-speed, neon-flavored racing game that, quite frankly, scares me. Beneath the game's cyberpunk aesthetic lurks a callous, alien presence that is constantly toying with you, the player. I encountered its baleful influence near the end of my demo, manifesting as several seemingly random visual glitches. Around the same time I started being jarringly teleported back and forth between the familiar neon city race track and a ruined, desolate version of that same track.

This sudden change in style and tone suggests that there's something not quite right going on, and left me questioning which of the two realities was the 'real' one. Am I saying this is some bowels-voiding, P.T. demo-level of terror? No, but even so it still felt unsettling, and to see a developer attempt to mix these extremely disparate genres makes Distance worthy of your attention.

It doesn't hurt that the game also handles oh-so-smoothly. The sections I played were all single-player races (though there will be multiplayer too) that focused on survival. By utilizing my car's special abilities - we're talking flight mode, flaming booster engines, and Speed Racer-esque bounce pads - I had to avoid all manner of whirling saw blades and deadly laser grids. Of course, these powers couldn't save me against what came for me at the end, a glimpse of which you can catch at the end of the trailer below (it's that crazy orb-like entity).

Distance is available now through Steam Early Access, and you can click ahead through this gallery for more tidbits on the game.

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Going coast-to-coast in ambitious racer, The Crew

It might be quicker asking The Crew’s creative director Julian Gerighty what games his Ivory Tower team hasn’t worked on--V-Rally, Need for Speed, Test Drive Unlimited, Split Second. Either the ratio of driving game developers to driving games is really low, or Ivory Tower’s pedigree is really high.

It’s probably a bit of both. In terms of ambition The Crew has few rivals, a progressive racer where players can cover the entire continent of North America, alone or with up to seven other players, without the slightest flicker of a loading screen. It’s an idealised skew, meaning some locales get the chop (sorry, Boston), but from the hustle and bustle of Times Square to the sombre wilds of the bayou, what’s there makes for a thrilling drive.

250 landmarks line over 6,000km of open road, each with their own data entry and cinematic, and discovering them all feels a bit like collecting stamps on your passport. Indeed, this collect-’em-all philosophy sits at the heart of The Crew. See, beating races unlocks parts for your car, which can be modified inside and out with 20 different customisables. Banana-yellow interior with flame bonnet decals? Please.

Events and terrain change so drastically you’ll need to master several specs. Dirt spec transforms your ride into a bulky beast with squishy suspension, while circuit adds an extra layer of nuance. It’s a shame the controls generally feel too loose, the minor delay between button press and result making cars feel unresponsive. You’ll often get snagged on scenery but at least resetting is painless--a short button hold warps you back on track instantaneously.

Events and challenges make the most of the setting: inner-city traffic slaloms, state-hopping point-to-points, laps around fully licensed circuits like Laguna Seca. Best is takedown, in which players team up to smash an AI opponent. Ripping through an Arizona dust bowl in raid vehicles, trading paint and veering off ramps in pursuit of a fleeing motor, is amongst The Crew’s highlights.

Click through the gallery for the latest screens.

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Project Cars aims to out-sim Gran Turismo and Forza

Project Cars is an ambitious racing sim. I know that because the presentation that preceded the hands-on preview event actually named Gran Turismo and Forza as the game's direct competitors. Even more so than GRID Autosport, this game has been built around ideas and suggestions from the racing sim community and real racing drivers. And without any other new-gen, track-based racers scheduled for release this Christmas, there's certainly a neat little car-shaped hole it can fill.

The stats certainly back up its bravado. It's got 80+ tracks over 30+ locations and 70+ licensed vehicles spread over nine disciplines. Real-time or accelerated day/night and weather transitions, pit-stops, tyre wear, simulated oil pressure and fuel loads… everything a simulation should have is in here, which is rare for a console game.

The driving model is predictably exacting, but fair, and the wheel-to-wheel racing is made much more tense when open-wheel collisions behave like they would in real life. You can easily flip into the air if you misjudge a braking zone and clip the car ahead, which is as it should be.

At this stage of development, however, the PS4 version is noticeably rougher than the PC version (which is often sensational, just look at the pics), and the AI is currently too aggressive in both versions. Not even Rosberg is this bargy. There's still time for balancing before the game's November release.

The online mode is the most exciting aspect for me, as it places a large emphasis on reputation. With network time trials, community tournaments (with real-life prizes) and the ability to share a highlight reel, this should offer the most serious online racing experience on console. Provided the PS4 version can at least approximate the quality of the PC game by launch, this could become an online favourite. In certain (very fast) circles.

Check out the following slides for additional images and more information.

Dragon Age: Inquisition's multiplayer co-op is a loot fiend's best friend

I bet this wasn't what you were expecting from Dragon Age: Inquisition. Multiplayer? For real? Yep! It's happening, and I'm sure you have a lot of questions. Like: How could tactical RPG combat translate to a four-player co-op scenario, and why the HELL is Bioware wasting time on a multiplayer mode for a story-based, SINGLE-player title? Hey, hey, hey. Hold on there buddy. I've got all of the details on the new co-op multiplayer mode to help bring your worries to rest.

I had the chance to play Dragon Age: Inquisition's multiplayer mode during a recent visit to the Bioware offices, and I can tell you right now, it's actually pretty awesome. Like, I'm-going-to-be-spending-way-too-much-time-playing-this awesome. Its got the economy of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer with a ton of Dragon Age elements mixed in. There's a lot to show you, so let's jump right into it.

If you're familiar with Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, you're going to feel right at home with Inquisition's new co-op mode. After sitting through the matchmaking lobby (which allows you to select the mission and difficulty settings), you'll drop into a 20 to 30 minute mission with your group of four online companions. From there, every player controls a single character, leaving it up to your group to coordinate attacks and manually execute combat strategies.

Unlike Mass Effect 3's horde-style gameplay, however, Inquisition's multiplayer challenges your team to complete a randomized mini dungeon. You play as a member of an Inquisition strike team that will need to explore every room to find hidden chests filled with gold and items, and defeat all of the enemies contained within the level--including a massive boss at the end. This is no cake walk. Coordination between players and classes is essential. "What kind of classes?" you ask. Well...

Basically, any character type you're used to playing in the Dragon Age series is an unlockable class. You'll start off the progression system with a sword and board dwarf class, elf caster, and human archer unlocked (with nine total classes available at launch). Each of these classes has their own skill trees to unlock via experience points, special weapons to find, and armor to collect and customize. As you progress, you can unlock more specialized classes with unique skills, such as the two-handed weapon-wielding Reaver, fireball-throwing Elementalist, and stealthy Assassin.

Like Mass Effect 3's classes, Inquisition's level individually and share a loot pool. So, if you find an awesome shield playing as an Archer, you can equip it to your shield-bearing Legionnaire later on. It's always a good idea to keep more than one class equipped and ready for battle because joining a group in which all players are the same exact class is a surefire way to wipe. Variety wins the day in Inquisition's multiplayer.

When it comes to class based co-op and parties, an RPG veteran's mind can't help but think of the holy trinity: tank, DPS, and heals. In Inquisition's co-op missions, you'll definitely have a huge advantage going into a dungeon with a balanced team, plus only certain classes can open special doors containing extra loot. But if you wanted to rock a party of three Legionnaires and a magic-throwing Keeper, you can probably pull off a victory in the easier difficulties (if your team is super good).

My experience with a balanced team went quite well. I rushed my shield-bearer to the front, holding up my shield to absorb damage and gained a boost to my armor. While I did my tank thing, ranged magic casters and archers behind unleashed their skills to put down heavy damage and heal my dwarf's wounds. The trinity worked like a charm--at least, until my group encountered tougher enemies, who promptly murdered us.

Whether you finish a quest with your co-op partners or get brutally eviscerated by the demons of the Fade, you're going to get some gold for your efforts. What's that gold for? Well, duh, buying stuff. But you won't be handpicking the weapons and armor from some shopkeep or blacksmith. Inquisition's loot system is all about blind, random luck.

To get new gear, you can purchase loot chests that come in the small, medium, and large variety. These can contain temporary items like potions and buffs, or rare equipment pieces. The larger the chest, the more items you get, and the more rare the items can be. There's also the option to put down real money to speed up your looting progress. That said, you won't be able to buy any items in particular and there aren't any items you can't earn by just playing the game.

Other than purchasing loot chests to get new items, you have the option to gather materials and craft your own weapons and armor, or improve your items with new sword hilts and armor reinforcements. In Inquisition's multiplayer quests, the gold filled chests you come across might include crafting materials and recipes (or you can break down unwanted items for materials). Once you get everything a recipe calls for, you can build your new item through the multiplayer menus in the matchmaking lobby.

In Inquisition's MP you can completely outfit your character from head-to-toe (with individual armor pieces that include boots, gloves, chest pieces, and head gear). Items have different classes of rarity and distinct looks, allowing you to truly customize the abilities and appearance of your characters. The crafting system definitely adds to the loot-monger appeal. I already see myself spending way too much time trying to complete an armor set.

In Mass Effect 3, players have to play multiplayer to pump up their Galactic Readiness, which affects the single-player story events. In Inquisition, however, there won't be such interconnectivity between the single-player and multiplayer modes.

Of course, there is some narrative behind the operations and characters in the DAI co-op, but none of that will bleed into the mechanics of the single-player game. So, any players who don't want to partake don't have to (which is a good thing because the single-player will probably take up enough of your time).

As if 150 to 200 hours of single-player gameplay wasn't enough. Bioware will also provide regular updates to the multiplayer experience. So, you can expect to see new heroes, levels, and items trickling in during the weeks and months after Inquisition's launch. And probably the best thing about the upcoming content: it's all free. No subscription, no season pass, no nothin'.

There you have it. Those are all of the details we have on Inquisition's multiplayer mode so far. What do you think of the series' plunge into the multiplayer space. Are you apprehensive? Excited? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more about Inquisition in our Dragon Age Inquisition Road to the Review and check out other titles coming later this year in our most anticipated games of 2014 list.

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IGN PC Games

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