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Gaming: FFVII demo dazzles; Star Trek Online gets nostalgic; Half-Life trailers

By Benjamin Bullard
Star Trek Online Legacy Starfleet

Our second date with Cloud Strife has been a long time coming — all the way back, in fact, since 1997, when Final Fantasy VII first arrived to change RPG gaming for good. But players impatient for a fresh new chance to bring down the evil Shinra Corporation now have a tantalizing tease of the upcoming FFVII remake this week, thanks to the release of a fully playable demo of the game’s famous first level — the bombing run on Shinra’s Mako reactor.

Twitter fans went bananas at news of the demo’s arrival, and then went even crazier once they’d had actually gotten a chance to play it through. Square Enix’s hi-def “reimagining” of one of the most beloved and influential games ever made appears to be finding a sweet balance between old-school nostalgia and completely new corners to discover in Midgar’s dystopian cyberpunk world, and the demo’s arrival appears to have fans more hyped than ever.

The demo, which can last for an hour or much longer, depending on how curious you are to explore every nook and cranny of FFVII’s lovingly recreated world, will likely be our last big taste of what the remake has in store before it arrives next month. Slated to be the first installment a multi-game series to complete Cloud’s epic story, Final Fantasy VII Remake descends like a Meteor on PlayStation 4 consoles everywhere beginning April 10.

Final Fantasy isn’t the only franchise dialing up a tasty HD walk down memory lane. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, Star Trek Online has just released a new update titled Legacy — and, like the name suggests, it’s all about rewarding longtime fans of the hugely popular MMORPG by giving them fresh new looks at some of the entire Star Trek series’ most iconic faces and places.

One look at Legacy’s new trailer is all you’ll need to see what that means. The update, says developer Perfect World, is aimed at paying “loving tribute to classic episodes dating all the way back to Star Trek: The Original Series,” and sure enough, there’s the Enterprise in all its 1960s sci-fi splendor — complete, of course, with Spock, Bones, Sulu, and the unmistakable visage of Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

The nostalgia trip comes with more than just visual window dressing. Players will visit locations, battle through scenarios, and come up against familiar faces that give Legacy the feel of taking an interactive tour through the Star Trek universe. Reviving some of the series’ “greatest heroes and villains,” the update ”transports players to the planet of Excalbia, which fans may remember from the classic TOS episode, ‘The Savage Curtain'" and more, teases the developer:

“Like Captain Kirk and Spock, players will be forced into an experiment to decide which is stronger: good or evil. In order to survive, Captains will need to team up with some of Starfleet’s finest, who represent the epitome of good. This includes former borg drone and U.S.S Voyager crew member, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), plus the U.S.S. Discovery’s brilliant Starfleet commander, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green).”

It may have taken Gene Roddenberry’s classic franchise nearly 55 years to get to this point, but Star Trek Online players don’t have to wait another second to dive back in. Legacy is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Sticking with the theme of updating beloved classics, Valve’s hugely anticipated return to the Half-Life universe just got a big infusion of gameplay news, thanks to the release of three new trailers for the upcoming Half-Life: Alyx. Together, they pack in more than 10 minutes of all-new footage that gives protagonist Alyx Vance a chance to step out of Gordon Freeman’s shadow.

Take a peek at all three clips below:

Judging from the gameplay, not to mention the nostalgia-triggering sounds and setting, fans who wondered whether Valve’s decision to make Alyx a VR-only adventure can probably put their minds at ease. Taking control of Alyx looks stylish and seamless as the first-person VR perspective finds her catching explosives, tracking enemies, and exploiting her environment for cover (just check out how she puts that car door to use!)

The time is now to track down your own VR headset...or at least make friends with someone who’s willing to share. Half-Life: Alyx arrives via Steam starting March 23.