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Gaming: Microsoft pitches ‘Netflix for games’; RE2 scares up killer reviews; new Tomb Raider DLC; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Resident Evil 2 remake via official website 2019

With established online brands probing the gaming landscape for a suitable entry point into the subscription streaming space, Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet with its modest declaration that it’s aiming to become nothing less than “Netflix for games.”

Citing a strong back catalog and an install base that already carries a committed following of gamers, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella dropped the ambitious remark at a recent press event. Microsoft’s Project xCloud, the company’s planned cross-platform gaming hub, he said, is intended to be the one service gamers think of when they think of games streaming — much as Netflix has become a shorthand reference for the whole video streaming phenomenon.

“We describe it as, shorthand, ‘Netflix for games,’” Nadella said, via Business Insider. “…We have a huge back catalog, which is: We have our own games.”

Announced in October of last year, the idea behind Project xCloud is to take the processing workload away from your console and place it on a server somewhere far away, leaving your connected device — whether it’s a phone, a console, or a laptop — free to simply stream your future co-op Halo missions anytime you feel like dialing up a game and plugging in.

For now, Project xCloud doesn’t have an announced launch date, although public testing is expected to begin sometime this year, via the report.

Even as current-gen titles vie for attention as the next great thing in gaming, a little old remake of a PlayStation horror classic from 1998 is already getting game-of-the-year buzz…and it’s only January.

Reviewers who’ve weighed in on Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 refresh are almost unanimous in their praise for Leon Kennedy’s survival horror story. “Resident Evil 2 is everything a video game remake should be,” Polygon gushes, while VG24/7’s headline blithely proclaims “Capcom casually drops Game of the Year material in January.” US|Gamer calls the remake “horror perfected,” and IGN simply declares, “Now THIS is how you remake a classic.”

What’s got everyone so hyped for Capcom’s zombified jump-scare adventure? It’s all in recognizing great source material and giving it a convincing face lift, writes IGN’s Daemon Hatfield: “Capcom did a fantastic job of resurrecting all the best parts of the classic Resident Evil 2 and making them look, sound, and play like a 2019 game.”

In spite of its reportedly real and effective scare factor, we have a feeling RE2 is one of those games you’re going to be playing, against your better judgment, deep into the night and well past your bedtime. Book your return trip to Raccoon City when Resident Evil 2 arrives for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on Jan. 25.

The third round of DLC for Shadow of the Tomb Raider has landed, and it follows Lara Croft both into her personal past and — you guessed it — into a decrepit ruin in search of another super-powered relic.

The Nightmare comes on the heels of previous DLC releases The Forge and The Pillar, and allows you to work your way through a new tomb called the “Howl of the Monkey Gods.” Probing the series’ connection with the supernatural and the occult, Croft also gets an all-new ability — White Breath — that causes enemies to hallucinate and turn on one another.

Check out the trailer below, and then jump right in: The Nightmare is available now for Shadow of the Tomb Raider on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Finally, a current-gen reboot of a cyberpunk classic is back on track — or should we say back on hack? — following a reported brief hiatus last year.

The newly-imagined System Shock, based on the dystopian 1994 first-person adventure that inspired spiritual successors like, the Deus Ex universe and, well, the whole BioShock franchise, appears to be making progress in some fresh new footage from developer Nightdive Studios. 

Nightdive says it’s making the reboot “for gamer that missed the opportunity to appreciate the original,” as well as longtime fans. The studio also says it’s collaborating with member of the original System Shock development team to assure the upcoming game lives up to its classic pedigree. There’s no word on a release schedule, so stay tuned for more as System Shock takes on a new shape.