Secrets have always been a big part of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. However, when players get stuck trying to find Easter eggs in any game now, they don't turn to glossy strategy guides like they did in the 1990s and early 2000s -- they open Twitch or YouTube on their smartphone. Developer Robomodo had this in mind when creating Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5. Lead designer Patrick Dwyer says that his team's tucked away the hidden skateboarding DVD -- a series staple -- pretty well this time around and that's a direct result of how the community responded when the studio released Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD back in 2012. "The day it came out there were videos of how to beat all of our missions," he says. "How's that possible? It's weird hiding stuff knowing that."

"It's like making a new Star Wars movie," says Patrick Dwyer, lead designer on developer Robomodo's upcoming Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5. "The originals are great and then the rest weren't as good." He's referring, of course, to the high bar set by the first four games in the storied extreme sports franchise as compared to the middling releases that followed. The idea, as Dwyer explains it, is to treat anything that released past 2002's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 as if it never existed. And that's including the horrible pair of plastic skateboard peripheral-based games he worked on: Tony Hawk Ride and its follow up, Shred.


For years, the wisdom has been that if you wanted a dedicated gaming machine, you bought a desktop. Gaming components were too unwieldy to fit in a notebook form factor, and if you tried to put together a machine with desktop-caliber components, it always ended up too big and heavy to be truly portable. However, recent gaming laptops have defied that history, packing lots of power into thinner and lighter chassis. They're still not as slim as Ultrabooks, and meanwhile there's still a gap in performance versus desktop machines. Even so, your days of lugging around a large desktop tower to LAN parties are over. We've taken a look at some of the more recent entries in the race to build a smaller gaming machine to find ones that can fit your needs -- and budget.

It's that dreaded time of year when lazy summer days with their open invitation to sandals, surf and shirtlessness begin to give way to the crispness of fall, hoodies and the back-to-school doldrums. Ah, but there's hope on the horizon: You can always buy things to forget the scheduled machinery of life. And, oh, have we got some selections for you -- no matter your budget.

We're not quite at the baller-level of gadget indulgence yet, but this week's back-to-school selections are certainly well-suited for the money's-no-object crowd.

"Are we, like, in a movie right now?" It's an apt question one of the handsome teens starring in PlayStation 4's latest exclusive, Until Dawn, asked about an hour after I picked up the controller. Yes. No. Maybe. It's kind of hard to explain, and it appears Sony would rather not. At its core, Until Dawn is an interactive teen-horror movie (think '90s genre staples Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer) set at a remote ski lodge where a murderous psychopath is on the loose. But after critics almost universally chastised Sony's other AAA tentpole, The Order: 1886, earlier this year for its gorgeous but bland cinematic leanings, "interactive movie" is a label the gaming juggernaut would rather not bandy about here.

In fact, Sony would prefer you not pay attention to this game at all. It's getting no love from the company's marketing department and was weirdly absent from this June's E3 media briefing. And that's a damned shame because Until Dawn is one of the best horror experiences -- interactive or not -- I've ever had.

Biomimicry, the field of science that takes direct R&D cues from nature's own solutions, has provided us with breakthrough materials, inspired developments in robotic locomotion and informed new medical techniques. We've even gotten introspective and looked at our own biological functions in order to create useful technologies. We're bootstrapping our way into the future on the back of nature's hard work, and that's a good thing, so long as we tread cautiously without manufacturing our own obsolescence. Of the myriad advances, we've collected just a few that exhibit how nature's influence is helping us craft our own future.

In general, gaming hardware has a bit of staying power, at least until you get seduced by a next-gen console. The latest update to our buyer's guide included many carryovers from last time, although we saw fit to spin off both Sony's and Microsoft's respective cameras as their own entries. For the PC gaming set, we swapped in MSI's latest laptop powerhouse, the GT80 Titan, which offers top-of-the-range options and the satisfying clack of a mechanical keyboard. Also, we had to include Nintendo's latest 3DS XL; with face-tracking 3D, new buttons and Amiibo support, it's better than ever. You can find the whole lineup in the gallery below, but if you want to see some picks in other categories, our complete buyer's guide is always ready and waiting for you.


With spider robots and BMX bike stunts taking the stage at the opening keynote for this year's Intel Developer Forum (and hardly any details about actual chips) it's clear Intel wants to be known for more than just computer CPUs. It's a wise move, especially if you consider the dwindling PC market. Indeed, the company has been on this trajectory for a while now, with a push into the Internet of Things (remember the smart mug and connected baby onesie from CES 2014?). More recently, too, the company has made a big investment in wearables with its button-sized Curie module and the purchase of several wearable companies, including Basis and Recon. Intel has also branched out into other arenas, like RealSense, its depth-sensing, 3D-scanning tech. As Brian Krzanich, Intel's CEO, said during an interview at IDF: "We want to be everywhere."

With this rugged speaker, sound takes a backseat to accessories

It takes a lot to get me excited about a Bluetooth speaker these days. Although subpar sound quality plagued early devices, newer models offer both good looks and solid audio. Even so, most of the current offerings are same-y; unremarkable. Now, a company called Braven has found a way to evolve the Bluetooth speaker even further, with a large selection of rugged wireless speakers. The BRV-PRO was unveiled earlier this year at CES, and while it certainly looks the part of a weatherproof speaker, it's the optional accessories that make it most compelling -- everything from a solar charging panel to a mount for your action camera. As you can imagine, though, those extras add up quickly. I spent some time with the $150 speaker and the various extras to find out if Braven's latest is worth it.

Gunjack screenshot

"Mobile VR doesn't have to mean [physically] moving around, but rather something you can access as easily in a café or a plane as you can at home. It was a choice made from day one: to create a fun and accessible experience by being static."

JC Gaudechon, executive producer at CCP, the Icelandic developer famous for the massive space MMO EVE Online, is speaking about Gunjack, a demo turned fully fledged game for Gear VR, Samsung's mobile virtual reality headset. Gaudechon has spent the last six months shifting the project into a downloadable Gear VR title as CCP's betting big on the second coming of VR. With its upcoming blockbuster Valkyrie dogfighting sim, the studio's positioned as a major launch partner for both the Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus headsets next year. But Gunjack is not Valkyrie. Built from the ground-up for mobile, it required a totally different approach from its better-known stablemate. It required learning how to make VR work on the smallest scale.

Video games are tackling mental health with mixed results

Mental illness occupies a strange place in video games. After centuries of misdiagnosis and misinterpretation, we've begun to comprehend the reasons behind disorders and their prevalence in modern society. Recent research shows that roughly one in five American adults suffers from some form of mental health issue each year. When it comes to the media, though, these conditions are frequently misrepresented and misunderstood, and video games in particular lean on lazy stereotypes and tropes. Mental illness is used as a motivation for villainy, thrown in as an "interesting" game mechanic or mischaracterized as the sum and whole of a character's personality. There's a worryingly pervasive stigma surrounding mental conditions, and as one of our most dominant art forms, video games need to do a better job in portraying them.