New Video Game Releases – 4th September

This weeks releases: –

Armello (PS4, PC, Mac, Linux) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armello

The Deer God (Xbox One,iOS) –
http://crescentmoongames.com/wordpress/the-deer-god/

Grow Home (PS4) –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grow_Home

Mad Max (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Max_(2015_video_game)

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3, PC)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_Gear_Solid_V:_The_Phantom_Pain

Xeodrifter (PS4, Vita) –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xeodrifter

Zombie Vikings (PS4) –
http://www.zombie-vikings.com/

Act of Aggression (PC)
http://www.actofaggression-game.com/en/videos

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Is an open world map really all that good?

Recently I decided to sit down and play Far Cry 3 again. When it came out back in late 2012 I remember it being one of the best games I’d ever played. Sure there are some parts of the story I wished they’d focused on more, all in all it’s a fantastic game. But something bugged me back then that still does now, the open world. I started gaming just over 10 years ago in the midst of the PS2 generation of consoles. Most of my earliest gaming experiences were linear FPS games like the James Bond games, Timesplitters, Turok Evolution and of course the Halo series. I won’t lie, I’m a linear FPS guy at heart. But recently, even though I do enjoy some open world games like Skyrim and Fallout 3, I find it being crow-bared into games that do not necessarily suit it.

Far Cry 3’s Rook Island is an interesting setting with lots of history, one that is showcased in a handful of the main story missions quite effectively; yet outside of missions this history isn’t shown off very well. Between missions you are encouraged to “Explore”, but what is there to explore? It’s huge but there’s nothing but miles and miles of identical jungle with some annoying terrain thrown in for good measure. First of all, the entire map is jammed; there are radio tower climbing puzzles which, when completed, reveal the map. It’s a neat idea but it doesn’t work in practice. Getting to the towers can sometimes be an awkward and boring sidetrack around a steep hill trying to find the single dirt path that’ll lead you up towards it. What’s worse is that upon revealing the local map, the camera pans out and shows you some ‘interesting’ landmarks in the local area.

One tower took me a while to get to due to the aforementioned annoying hilly terrain, and once I had climbed to the top of it, the camera showed me three things: A cave, a small hut, and no joke, a table with some boxes on it.
So for once I decided to check them out. First, the hut. Nothing there but a bit of money that I could have looted from a couple of dead pirates. Then I checked out the table, again a pathetic amount of money and one of the
game’s pointless collectibles; you know, the kind that’s essentially just a number on a checklist, not adding any story or content. I figured the cave would be the biggest highlight of the area but I couldn’t find it. All the game had shown me was a cave mouth in an unbroken sea of green grass, ferns and palm trees. There were no discernable landmarks or anything I could use to find where this cave was. It was no big deal, since then I came across a couple of caves they weren’t that interesting at all.

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Despite having it’s fair share of nice vistas, most of Rook Island looks like this; miles and miles of trees and no discernible landmarks

 

There’s also a hunting/crafting system that seems to force you to spend more time in this open world than you’d like. early on in the game you’re urgently prompted to go and rescue one of your friends, However, the game decided I could only carry a couple of clips of ammo until I’d spent a couple of hours travelling around the map trying to hunt and kill animals (Which isn’t that fun when it’s a case of spraying them down with machine guns then driving for a few minutes to your next waypoint) And you have to drive too, if you chose instead to run across the island then you’re in for an even more boring experience. It’s here that I’m going to draw attention to another game series that I love: Borderlands. For those who don’t know, Borderlands is a semi-open world FPS/RPG; The main meat of the story missions take place in rather linear maps that are usually peppered with enemies to kill, chests to loot, and a few open sections here and there for some of the larger scale fights. Annoyingly however, these maps are linked by rather large hub maps. These maps are almost specifically designed for vehicles, and vehicle combat in Borderlands is NOT FUN.

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Rust Commons in the original Borderlands. If your car got blown up here you were in for a good five minutes of sprinting through empty terrain to get a replacement

 

Where the guns of Borderlands are powerful and interesting, the vehicles present you with chain guns, rocket launchers, and a couple of other choices, all of which are underpowered and not fun to use. But these hub maps almost force you to use them, if you want to spend the entirety of the game on foot, experiencing the fast paced and entertaining FPS action you paid for, it would take you at least two or three minutes to cross some of these hub
worlds. Sure you might be attacked by some of the wildlife or some bandits, but fighting on flat and open terrain isn’t as fun as fighting in the dense linear maps that you’re trying to get to.

Going back to Farcry 3 there were times where I ended up losing my jeep in a river as a result of trying to speed to the mission start point as fast as possible and had to sprint until I found a vehicle. Watching your gun bob up and down for several minutes as you pass nothing but identical terrain isn’t fun, it was this that evoked memories from an almost identical situation on Borderlands 2’s early hub world. A lot of what people liked about Farcry 3’s open world was the unpredicability. When I voiced my negative opinion people came up with anecdotes about how they had been attacking a camp and a tiger had attacked them, forcing them to flee straight into the camp and instigating some sort of three way fight. And they’re right, this happened to me and it’s fun, but this also happened to me in some of the core missions. One mission has you assault a camp set in a cove, usually I’d sneak up one of the sides and attempt to reach the objective at the top of the camp without alerting anybody, but this time I thought I’d take a nearby patrol boat and drive straight up the middle and gun down everything.

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Pirates Cove, a level you play relatively early on in the game with potential for stealth, or assault either on foot or in a vehicle.

It was great, 30 seconds in the entire hill to the left was on fire and I was gunning down pirates left right and centre, then out of nowhere a snake attacked me. It must have swam onto my boat; I never even knew that could happen, so I panicked and bailed into the water before swimming ashore. I was now outnumbered and no longer had a firepower advantage. The following minute was one of fast paced action, quick thinking, and use of Farcry 3’s incredible cover system. In that mission alone I had more fun than I had in the previous two hours spend unlocking the ammo capacity I needed to be able to take on the pirates in this base. The only thing actually worth doing in Farcry 3’s open world is liberating outposts, small camps occupied by a group of usually half a dozen pirates. You can either stealthily take out all the guards for a bonus, or go in guns blazing and risk them sounding an alarm that calls reinforcements. Either way is fun, but the main storyline presents just as many opportunities for such freeform gameplay.

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One of Farcry’s outposts, fun while it lasts, as it only usually takes a minute or so to clear before it’s back to the open world.

I understand even as someone who hasn’t played the previous games in the series, that Farcry is a historically open world game; but what I’m wondering is would it be better as a linear game? Same with Borderlands. I’ve spent today’s 4 or 5 hour session of Farcry 3 making heavy use of the Fast Travel system to basically speedrun through the open world and get to the mission start points as quickly as I can. Even played almost back to back the missions are still exciting and well paced, there was no point where I thought “well that all happened too quickly, I should have explored a bit between those two levels”. It worked well, and I had more fun today playing missions almost back to back than I did trying to unlock a few fast travel points and reveal more of the map yesterday.

If we didn’t know that Far Cry was a traditionally open world game and Far Cry 3 was instead the first game in a new series, I’d think that they designed a linear FPS and then threw in the sandbox as an afterthought. All the side-quests are essentially the same mission copy & pasted many times over and placed in a slightly different area of the map. Go here and stab the pirate captain, go here and kill this Tiger, go here and stab this other pirate captain. I would like to, at this point, reiterate how good of a game I think Far Cry 3 is. The characters are utterly fantastic, the writing, the acting. The directions the story takes, going from action movie to an almost ‘Indiana Jones’ style section, then into Spy Movie. It constantly changes tone but not in a way that would alienate the player. It keeps things interesting. There’s funny moments, sad moments, and it’s got PLENTY of action packed epic moments, but to me the open world is just an excuse to say your game is bigger than it is.

Even Far Cry 3’s expandalone DLC, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon seemed to make me think the same way. The most fun parts of the game by far were the scripted missions, but the game gives you very basic weapons and forces you to acquire upgrades for them through almost identical hunt/kill side quests. It dragged the game length out a little bit but on a recent play through I decided to forego a lot of the side missions and instead unlock a couple of attachments for a single gun which I then used to power through the campaign, completing it in just a couple of hours. I still feel like I got my moneys worth.
Borderlands also would work fantastically as a linear FPS, it has solid mechanics and usually only has you play through the sections once. There’s some revisiting due to some side quests which are in a lot of cases not worth doing due to just being the same fetch/kill quest with a different text introduction or voice work. If, instead of overly relying on the fast travel system or rushing through the hub worlds to reach these fun linear levels, they were simply placed back to back with constant story content being delivered, I think it’d be a lot more fun.

Maybe you think I’m not a sandbox sort of person? Well what if I said that Fallout 3 is one of my favorite games of all time, and I’d count Skyrim as being up there too. The thing about these games is that dispute being very large and sometimes quite empty, they support the emptiness with a slow pace; Far Cry 3 keeps playing it’s tense and adrenaline inducing soundtrack even in the open world, whereas Skyrim relaxes me and I feel more comfortable walking through the landscape. Skyrim to me isn’t about the sword fights it’s about the exploration, soaking in the atmosphere as I journey towards the ruin a guard just told me about..

Not only that but Skyrim has very unique sections, you can see the snow creeping over mountains to the north, you can see autumn setting in towards the east. There’s the plains of Whiterun and the forests of Falkreath hold. It’s completely different to Far Cry 3’s identical jungle terrain. Fallout is a strange one because it almost mixes the open world with the horror genre. I remember my early playthroughs of Fallout being a lot more fun than recent playthroughs; I almost can’t play it now because I know the game almost inside out. But early on I spent my time learning as I went, panicking every time a bandit or mutated creature caught me off guard. Seeing a super mutant, unaware of my position, brought on one of the most monumental adrenaline rushes of my time gaming as I pondered whether the 10mm pistol I had was enough to take it down before it had a chance to use that pneumatic sledgehammer it was carrying.

Another game I enjoyed recently was GTA5, and one thing was repeated in nearly every review I read was “Density”. It was a sprawling world, packed to the brim with people going about their lives, crimes in progress, spontaneous side quests that each had their own unique little story. You could walk around in one part of town and just observe people. Recently I played Watch_Dogs and was impressed with the way Ubisoft built this open world , it’s a sandbox that boasts density rather than size, which is what I like. Rather than sprinting or driving straight through it like I would do with Far Cry 3 or Borderlands’ hub maps, I spent most of my time on Watch_Dogs exploring the world like the developers intended. I walked through at a slow pace as I peered into the lives of the people around me; Similar to how I remember reading people’s minds back on Destroy All Humans. The world of Watch_Dogs is one where you can exit your car almost anywhere in the world, and within 10 seconds, the game will have found something to occupy you.

In recent years, games like Call of Duty have given the linear FPS a bit of a negative image, and it seems more and more now that in the current drive for innovation and change, developers are taking advantage of better tools and more powerful consoles to push games to be open world. You see it every year. “________ GOES OPEN WORLD”. I wouldn’t say I’m scared of losing the FPS or Action Adventure genres to boring sandboxes because I know these genres are tried and true and are never going to die off. But I’m worried that a lot of new Ips are going to go the sandbox route, and they’re going to do it wrong.

They’re going to do what Ubisoft seem to have done with Far Cry 3 and more recently Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag: spread the content out across a vast distance and fill the spaces in between with identical base capture levels and samey side quests, and force the player to do all this by tieing the necessary upgrades to grinding in the open world. I even think Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag would have been better if it just put me into mission after mission, as each mission still had a very healthy serving of naval combat and stealth, except within the context of a mission it was mixed up a lot more than it was in the open world. If I’m honest I see it as a fad, a trend for game devs to follow, and they’re following it badly. They’re making what may well be a great game with solid mechanics, and then thinking. “Hm, it’s 10 hours long. People who hate Call of Duty will point us out on this so we need to make it 40 plus”.

In more cases than not, the side quests for these games and the activities in the open world, the collectibles, the “exploration”; they’re all done as a lazy way to pad out the game’s length. They’re doing it so they can use “open world” as a buzzword in their E3 stage demo.

I love open world games when they’re done right: Fallout’s hauntingly beautiful world that creates a sense of loneliness and horror, Skyrim’s sense of grand scale and adventure, GTA’s rich and detailed satire of the modern world. But it doesn’t work for all games, especially games corner-stoned by high octane action and fast paced shooting like Far Cry 3 and Borderlands.

I’d like to see more developers not being afraid to keep making games like Bioshock Infinite, Lara Croft, The Last Of Us, games that still keep the open ended combat of open world games as well as keeping us engaged at all times. Concentrated doses of story, atmosphere, and action, rather than throwing us into an empty space and going “LOOK HOW BIG IT IS”.

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EGX Rezzed 2014 – Wrapped up!

By now you should have heard our various podcasts dedicated to EGX Rezzed and read Mike’s game of the show write-up (if you haven’t, then go check them out!) so now it’s my turn for a quick round-up of the event!

Overall the show was put together really well. The stands weren’t too close to each other and everything was easy to find. Obviously the more popular games had bigger crowds around them but generally it was pretty easy to check out each game and get a good chance to chat to people.

Here are the games I had a chance to look at:

Alien Isolation

AlienIsolationAlienDeathLets start with the big one and both Leon’s and Mike’s game of the show.

It was with eager anticipation that we were covertly ushered into the Alien Isolation gaming area. The demo area had been superbly builty to really highten the terror and tension of the game. The rows of consoles and computers were suitably dimly lit, there was smoke everywhere and gamers were hunched over controllers and keyboards looking nervous and emitting the occasional scream when the Alien popped up (or someone just tapping them on the shoulder).

The game itself was amazing. Even though it was only a short (ish) demo, it really hooked you in from the grainy intro, the first few steps into the eerily quiet and empty space station (think Dead Space minus the enemies) all the way to the first (and pretty deadly) cat and mouse experience with the Alien. Infact, I played it so long (I was determined to finish it) that by the time I left the area everyone else had moved on!

Essentially though the game is quite linear and follows the ‘go there, do this’ school of gameplay, it’s still really fun to play. The Alien itself has it’s own AI so it never follows the same path twice leading to some really crazy moments when you’re trying to sneak past it (usually ending up with you dying).

If you’re a fan of jump-scare style games and have braved such titles as Amnesia: The Dark Descent or Slender: The Eight Pages and want more, then you would do well to check this title out.

Alien Isolation is due out on Tuesday October 7th 2014 for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Homepage: http://www.alienisolation.com/en_gb/

 

Cloudbuilt

CloudBuiltWallRunningOne of the first games to be seen when entering the arena was this natty little number from Coilworks and published by Rising Star Games.

The first thing that came to my mind when checking this game out was that it looked very much like a Japanese version of Mirror’s Edge but with guns and faster paced gameplay. Sitting down and playing it at the show, I was not disappointed to find that it’s Mirror’s Edge (but with guns and faster paced gameplay).

Overall, the game looks and plays really well and has plenty of replayability value. Many of the maps have multiple paths to get to the exit and if you’re feeling cocky, you can challenge friends to see who is the fastest at running up walls while shooting robots!

Cloudbuilt is already out to purchase on Steam.

Homepage: http://coilworks.se/cloudbuilt

 

Concursion

ConcursionOutfitsCertainly one of the wierdest games we saw at the event, was Puuba’s platformer Concursion.

To say it has a specific style of gameplay would be a little unfair as the main hook of this title is to change you, your surroundings and the enemies when entering specific parts of the screen. Not only does it change the look, but it also changes the controls and the gameplay and for this, the game must be commended.

The few levels I played seemed innocuous enough, but be warned, it does get very difficult and for those looking for a challenge should definitely check this one out.

Concursion is available through Steam Greenlight.

Homepage: http://www.puuba.com

 

Gang Beasts

GangBeastsIncineratorIn a time where multiplayer now seems to be focused on playing across the internet rather than all crammed onto one sofa, it’s refreshing to see Gang Beasts harken back to a happy time when you and a few friends could sit down around a computer and resolve arguments through the use of violence. Think Bomberman with wrestling and deadly traps and you’ve pretty much summed up this game.

It’s fast, frantic and immensly satisfying throwing your friend into a grinder, under a truck or watching them plummet to their death from a ferris wheel. Graphics are cartoony and easy on the eyes, controls look a little twitchy but still easy to figure out (I didn’t get a chance to play, but the way people were throwing the controllers about it looked like they were having trouble making the characters do what they wanted them to!) and it definitely has that ‘just one more go’ mentality.

Fans of excessive violence and drinking beers with friends will love this one!

No release date at the moment.

Homepage: http://www.indiedb.com/games/gangbeasts

 

Maia

MaiaBuildingsIt was during a round of #wheresdave that I decided to check this game out, as the website trailer had intrigued me greatly to what exactly the game was. I certainly wasn’t disappointed, as it turns out Maia is a colony building game and I’m a massive fan of those!

The idea of the game is to help a bunch of colonists set up shop on a harsh planet and try not to get eaten by the local wildlife along the way. Controls are simple and intuative and very quickly you’re building essential equipment, expanding rooms and slapping robots (they even called them I.M.Ps!). The humour doesn’t stop there, many of the objects you interact with have amusing descriptions and it’s a nice touch to counter-balance the bleak harshness of the setting.

It’s still very much in Alpha so there are some wobbles and still a lot more to put in, but I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. If you’re a fan of trying to keep things alive and building fancy things, you should totally follow this game!

Now available on Steam.

Homepage: http://maiagame.com/

 

Murdered: Soul Suspect

MurderedSoulSuspectCrimeSceneA lot of the games I’d looked at were aimed at the PC (with hope to push to consoles at a later date). However this title is already planned for consoles so those who are worried about lack of titles for our current gens, should definitely keep an eye out for this one.

You play a dead dectective who (through the course of helping others ‘move on’) solves his own murder. It’s a neat concept and while sadly I didn’t get a chance to play, it looks part puzzle game, part noir novel. I’ve heard there’s also some stealth in it as well so start brushing up on your ninja skills!

Graphically it looks really good and as a big fan of Square Enix, I’m hoping that when I do finally get my hands on it, it’ll play just as well too.

On a side-note, the Murdered: Soul Suspect tops the booth staff we wearing were amazing. Sadly though, we weren’t allowed to steal them.

Murdered: Soul Suspect has been scheduled for European release on Friday 6th June 2014 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Homepage: http://murdered.com

 

Narcissus

NarcissusPlatformShennanigansNarcissus is a very clever game. It can either be played by one person with jedi-like skills or two people who embody the term ‘teamwork’.

The concept is a simple one, get your two dudes from one end of the level to the other over a series of platforms. The catch is that one character is on the top part of the screen, the other is on the bottom but flipped (effectively the mirror of the first player). The only control you have is jump as both characters move forward automatically and if you fall out of the screen, you die and have to start again.

Which you will.

Because this game is incredibly addictive.

And frustrating.

But awesome.

You can play the first few levels for free here: http://gamejolt.com/games/platformer/narcissus/20461/

 

Salvaged

SalvagedInGameIt was clear that a lot of effort had gone into the games being shown at Rezzed. There were a lot of good games being displayed and even though a lot of them were still early concepts, they still played well and didn’t fall over too much.

One of these games in particlar was Opposable Games’s Salvaged which is a real-time tactical game for PC. Well I say PC, it’s actually a real-time tactical game playable on your mobile (or tablet) that hooks up to the PC client. What’s really awesome about this game, is that you can independently control your four crew members (think X-Com) and even hook up with up to three of your friends with their mobile (or tablet) devices and battle together! (playing co-operatively is not mandatory)

Each crew member has their own screen on the PC client and pretty much everything is controlled by the device. Controls are smooth and easy to pick up and before long, you’ll be laying ambushes down corridors and picking off enemies with no trouble at all. The build I played sadly didn’t have any healing in it, so I was eventually overrun and I felt genuine sorrow as my last crewmember died valiently battling large alien creatures.

This game reminds me of an old PC/Amiga game by Psygnosis called Hired Guns which I have spent many happy hours playing. I get the feeling I’ll enjoy Salvaged just as much and I really cannot wait for this to come out. This title certainly gets my game of the show award!

No release information yet, but you can find out more here: http://salvagedgame.com/

 

Shadow Warrior

ShadowWarriorFishThe last game on my list (but actually the first game we checked out after arriving) is a reboot of Shadow Warrior made by 3D Realms way back in 1997 and not to be confused with Shadow Warriors which came out in 1988 (better known as Ninja Gaiden). Just like the original, you play Lo Wang and armed with trusty sword (and many guns) you must go forth and cause as much carnage as possible.

This has already been released on PC, but Devolver Digital were showing off their PS4 version which is due for launch later this year. This was a great chance to get a look at how it plays and handles on the current-gen platform. We were not disappointed. The graphics are smooth and it’s easy to see what is going on even in the middle of a fire-fight. Gameplay wise, it’s fast-paced with plenty of things to destroy and will keep you amused for hours.

One of the few negative things I found with Shadow Warrior was that although it’s fairly linear, there were a couple of times I got a little lost on where to head next. Luckily I had someone on hand to guide me back onto the right path!

For those who want to check this out, you can get the original 1997 version for free on Steam.

For further information about the new Shadow Warrior, check out the site here: http://www.shadowwarrior.com/

 

#Wheresdave

It wasn’t all just video games though, there was even a board-game section featuring classics like Pandemic, crazy dice games such as King of Tokyo and Street Fighter card games! After losing the rest of the gang (again) due to being distracted, I found myself surrounded by gamers rolling dice and it was really nice just to kick back and socalise while trying to prevent deadly diseases from taking over the world!

Overall I really enjoyed myself at EGX Rezzed and I was really impressed with the quality level of the games shown. I’m certainly looking forward to the next one!

 

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Mike’s Game Of The Show EGX REZZED 2014

ALIEN ISOLATION

rezzed-alien-isolation

With the largest area in the arena devoted to this game and a lot of build up, Alien Isolation really needed to deliver. We all remember how the Alien brand was tarnished by Colonial Marines and even though this is a completely different developer, I still had my doubts. We were treated like covert agents being snuck in the back avoiding a good hour of queuing and sat in front of screens in a darkened room filled with smoke. I really liked how the developers have made it so that anything in the game looks like a 70’s vision of the future. One thing in particular that stood out was how the intro video looks like a VHS tape that had been watched 1000 times before.  Stagbeetle and Deanoward were playing on Xbox One whilst Einfang and Dave opted for the PC build.

Alien-Isolation-07

The game looked fantastic and the way that focusing on different areas shifted the focus point on screen really added to the atmosphere in game. The demo we played had a few jump scares but these were not what really got me (although I did jump a foot off my chair at one point), its the atmosphere and the build up to the scares that really made this game feel scary. I myself did not finish the demo as I was struggling to find objectives due to an Xbox bug that stopped the map loading after the first time you had used it (obviously this will be fixed by final build), dying too many times and I also felt bad for being on a little too long. I shouldn’t have cared though because this spurred the phrase of the day which was #wheresdave as Dave was the first person to go in and after 20 minutes of waiting for him after we had all finished, we decided to leave him to his own devices.

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The lead character is Amanda Ripley daughter of Ellen Ripley the original character from the film and this gives great credibility but also explores a character that has not really been explored in Ridley Scott’s universe before. The voice acting was good but it is hard to really feel any emotion for a character on such a short play through. However, one character did get me feeling one emotion, the Alien made me feel anxious as anything and I had a constant fear that it would pop up and stick its fist through my chest at any point.

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The game really does look good and has plenty of atmosphere. I was instantly sold on the setting and when the Alien finally made a proper appearance, there was definitely a feeling that I had to avoid being seen or heard at all costs! After speaking with the team from Alien Isolation we loved the passion shown for the project and had already all been converted to believers. Not since I was a young lad playing Resident Evil at far past my bedtime have I felt the same presence and tension that I did playing this game. We look forward to seeing more from this title and have high expectations for what may bring back  the Horror genre!

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Final report of the commercial starship Nostromo, third officer reporting. The other members of the crew Leon, Dean and Dave are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier in about six weeks. With a little luck, the network will pick me up. This is Stagbeetle, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.

Alien Isolation comes out on October 7th 2014 on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC. For more information about the game visit their website.

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO ITS A F”*#%NG TITAN!

Titanfall

Here it is! The game that could possibly bring Xbox One back into contention with the PS4 for sales and also perhaps change up what has become a somewhat stagnant FPS genre.

titanfall pic

So what are we liking about Titanfall? Well firstly Mechs, 3 of them to be precise with many customisation options for how they can be used (although many would say this is not enough) and a dynamic system that mixes Pilot combat (when outside of your Mech) and Titan combat (inside of your Mech).

The way that this game has managed to balance the fast paced Pilot combat with the big blasting Titan combat is very impressive! A good player can take down a Titan in one on one combat as well as getting crushed underfoot (or blasted to bits with one good shot) and this is where Titanfall really has got things right.

What they have also included is basic level AI which serve as cannonfodder and a way to see how the flow of the battle is moving. Yes, many people say that they would prefer just PVP. However, I am a fan of how “Grunts & Spectres” move around the map giving ample opportunity to shoot or even sneak behind and snap a little bit of neck! By killing opponents your Titan is effectively built faster and once this is achieved, can be summoned from the sky by activating Titanfall (ahhh man they used the name of the game for what happens! That’s so cool).

The player then has the option of either jumping inside of this giant Mech to start causing mayhem, or use them more defensively as a guard or a follower much like a big brother looming over the shoulder of a 14yr old ready to pound the face of any would-be bully.

burn cards

The Burn card system has been implemented as a new type of perk system where by playing the game you will collect useable cards to be used in later fights. These vary from the useless and stupid, to upgraded versions of weapons all the way to calling a Titan instantly in or giving double xp. I like the system I would not call it perfect however I definately like it and find myself saving certain cards for when I know I can get the most out of them.

Quick action is the name of this game. Jumping in from a drop ship players run towards the other team opting to attack AI opponents, reducing build time towards the all important Titanfall and you getting into your giant robot of death. There are of course various play modes available for you to decide on how you want to bring carnage to the battlefield.

 

RocketfirePersonally I find myself playing a mix between Attrition (which is your classic death match), Last Titan Standing (which is a team based battle between 6 Titans and the last man standing wins) and Capture The Flag. The parkour elements of the game really gives this last mode a bit more of a twist on the classic type of game play and can make for some crazy matches!This is not saying that the other modes are bad, just that I have found my time split mainly between these modes. Out of all of them, I must say I have fallen in love with Last Titan Standing.

The bad bits???

While the gameplay is brilliant, it does feel rushed as there is certainly a lack of dynamic game modes and no private servers! Customisation although there is a little bit is limited and we are yet to know if the season pass which they have kindly charged us 20 bucks for will have anymore weapons or content or just more maps!

AND THE MAPS! The maps do well mixing up terrain and areas so that there are places to move out of sight and mix the Titan VS Pilot game up. I was however hoping for a little more out of a next generation title. One level has Dragons (or Alien creatures that look like Dragons)that you are told to watch out for but all they really do is randomly gobble up an AI unit not really affecting the player in anyway.

Also this is next generation! Now completely destructable maps would ruin the gameplay (as all you would do is level the field and just Titan up), but I would love to see some elements in the map that change as the battle progresses. I guess we will just have to wait till later instalments to see if we receive such wonders!

titan build

The Game doesn’t look amazing at certain times on Xbox One where there is a definite wobble on the screen, but this is mainly at the beginning drop screen and doesn’t really affect when actually in the game play itself. I cannot speak for PC gamers, but it does look pretty nice on the screen shots that I have seen.

The campaign is a joke! You are forced to do it to unlock two extra Titans and regardless if you win or lose on a map you still go through to the next mission. Overall, each factions campaign can easily be done in less than 2 hours! The story line itself is weak and you have no real interest in what is going on in it as you are trying to concentrate on the gameplay itself rather than the silly voice overs, cinematics and people giving up their lives for the sake of doing the right thing (this isn’t even really a spoiler as you will care as little about the story line as I did).

IS TITANFALL THE ULTIMATE FPS?

The simple answer to this is no. While it does bring something totally new to the table, there are big parts missing. No doubt this game has done well and Xbox must be happy with the 96% uplift in console sales due to this game, but after a recent announcement Titanfall 2 will be cross platform and I am sure a lot of the things you could do to add to this entertaining game will be saved for the second installment.

If you had to describe Titanfall in one word, it would have to be fun! This genre has become quite stale over the years and Titanfall brings new ideas and mechanics to the FPS genre that it was longing for! Burn cards are a nice twist on a perks system but need fine tuning. Many of the cards really are pointless such as cloaking as a spectre which actually does not help the player at all.

titanfall 2

In short, this is a great game that unfortunately was rushed to market. That does not mean you should not get involved with it, far from that I urge anyone with a compatible system to pick up this game and have hours of multiplayer fun shooting from Titans and jumping wall to wall throwing grenades at packs of AI. This game is exactly what the Xbox One needed, a game to actually make people want to buy the next generation of consoles and so far is showing to have worked. 

I do not remember the last console game with this much hype. It certainly was not in 2014 and this has the chance to get in early as a contendee for game of the year. Will it win? Well probably not, but just having your game associated with such prestige is certainly a very good thing.

Now if you will excuse me, my Titan has just fallen and I need to jump in and start blowing stuff up again. If you need me just hit me with a Plasma shot as that will certainly get my attention!

GRUNTS, MOVE OUT!

 

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Most anticipated games for Game Over Yeah

2013 was a year with some pretty big titles released. Now with the current gen bad boys of Xbox One and PS4 well and truly up and running, it’s time for some even bigger games to come out in 2014. Titanfall has certainly done very well in leading the charge, but what else is out there that will make you start scrabbling under the sofa cushions for extra change?

The awesome foursome have shaken the magic 8-ball, consulted the wise and mysterious internet and put together their most anticipated games for 2014.

 

MIKE’S PICKS

WATCH DOGS

We couldn’t do a list for most anticipated games of 2014 without the most anticipated game of 2013 that was postponed to 2014!

Watch Dogs was due for an end of year release around the time of the Xbox One and the PS4 launch. However, the developers were not happy with the state of the game and instead choose to push the release date back to “Spring 2014”.

 

watchdogsboxartagnostic

Well Spring is here and Watch Dogs is around the corner! The game follows Aiden Pearce, a hacker and former thug with a history of crime that led to a violent family tragedy. Watch Dogs is set in Chicago where a central network of computers does a Kevin Bacon and connects Everything Everywhere (EE joke). Armed with futuristic hacking technology, Aiden can pretty much control the city whilst he journeys on his mission to bring about his own form of justice. Think GTA but with control of everything around you in a sort of Terminator 3 robot esque way and you are starting to paint the picture of what Watch Dogs is meant to be all about.

 

Why do we want it? Well last year’s E3 trailer had everyone drooling and the team even went to an event at the local cinema to see an early build in the flesh and it looked tasty! Best thing eaten all year tasty not just that week! While recent press releases and videos have certainly not looked quite as good as original, we are yet to set judgment on Watch Dogs until it is finally released on May 27th.

This is another title that the next generation of consoles really needs to show the difference between the new and old and really push people to purchase these devices. GOTY? Possibly? With a game like this it is very hard to live up to the hype it has had building for 3 plus years but Ubisoft didn’t rush it out and this we hope is going to show in the final build. Oh and did we mention that it has 50 plus hours of gameplay! We like that amount, we like it a lot!

 

EA SPORTS UFC

So ok maybe only one person on the team is really looking forward to this title, but it is starting to look like a title that could again push the next generation of consoles to where we want them. Using the Ignite engine used by EA to make Madden 25 and Fifa 14 on Xbox One and PS4, EA have been leaking snippets here and there of how the game looks and it looks bloody brilliant! Characters really look like the fighters and in-cage antics have been mirrored into the screenshots and videos that we have seen.

ufc

 

Whether it is the custom way Anthony “Showtime” Pettis throws his flashy kicks or the intensity of a Cain Valasquez takedown, the game really does look good. Building on the success of EA MMA and now having the license away from THQ (rest in peace), they look to put on a show that may have all the spectical of a live UFC event. Is this the next generation of fighters? Will it be able to attract fans that are not MMA or UFC fans already? EA have said that “Its as real as it gets” and from everything we have seen so far, I hope that this is true and not some rubbish to build up a flop of a game. One bit of good news is that it sounds like they are going to use a 2 year release on new titles. This hopefully means changes will happen unlike some of the other sporting franchises that they have done work on in the past. And in the words of the infamous Bruce Buffer announcer for the UFC “IIITTTTTTSSSSSSS TTTIMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEE” or at least it will be soon!

 

DEAN’S PICKS

RIME
This game was showcased at E3 as part of PS4’s conference but no one seems to remember it, I can’t seem to forget about it. It’s the only game on the roster that got me excited about the current gen. It looks like the visual beauty from Flower mixed in with elements and story taken from Ico or Zelda.

rime

The world gives the impression of being massive and unique which is refreshing. The story line is supposed to be that a boy is trying to escape the island because of a curse. There is also meant to be narration, so I’m feeling that it might be similar to the narration from The Stanley Parable which I personally loved. Now not a whole lot has been shown in the E3 trailer so it could all change. We know too well games completely changing from when we’ve first seen them showcased (like Alan Wake and Alien Colonial Marines), but I look forward to seeing more footage from this and getting my hands on it later in the year if it indeed does come out in 2014.

 

THE EVIL WITHIN

I’m still a little torn on whether this should go on this list. While there seems to be a little bit of hype due to Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame, it could go either way with this one. I’m excited because the game play so far has looked pretty good and stayed with being a true “survival horror” game. I also really enjoyed Shadows Of The Damned and that seemed to have a great feel to it, a mixture of comedy and suspense.

EvilWithinScaryEveryone seems to complain about the Resident Evil games losing the Survival Horror element these days and instead comparing them more to action titles. If this title does return on track, it might suggest that maybe the shift of focus was the studio and not the creator, which could then lead to more debates.

The most recent game play trailer for The Evil Within, explains that the main character in the game is Detective Sebastian Castellanos, who rushes to a scene of a murder with his colleagues and then all hell breaks loose.

The game play reminded me a lot of the Saw series as there seemed to be a lot of traps around the place and it’s seems to have scares around every corner. If this is truly a return to survival horror I think this will be amazing game in 2014, but time will tell. This could either be a massive game or a massive flop.

 

LEON’S PICKS

DESTINY

Destiny_box_art

Coming from Bungie (the creators of the extremely successful franchise ‘Halo’) and being published by another giant in the FPS scene Activision (who published the valuable ‘Call of Duty’), this game is hotting up to be one of the big FPS games of this year.

Coming out on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Playstation 4, this maybe the game to compete with Titanfall for FPS of the year.

Here’s a quote from their website:

‘Destiny features a compelling story line, competitive multiplayer, cooperative gameplay choices, wide open public combat destinations, and third-person community spaces where you can repair and rearm before going out on your next  adventure.’

 

ALIEN ISOLATION

Alien_IsolationAfter the failure of the last Alien game (Aliens Colonial Marines) a lot of people I have spoken to have been skeptical about this title. However, when the trailer dropped for this game, I saw the true survival horror feel that we have not experienced within  the Alien universe.

This game is due to come out late this year and will be released on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC. This is likely to be the last big game to come out on the old generation of consoles.

Here’s a quote from their website:

‘Discover the true meaning of fear in Alien: Isolation, a survival horror set in an atmosphere of constant dread and mortal danger. Fifteen years after the events  of Alien™, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda enters a desperate battle for  survival, on a mission to unravel the truth behind her mother’s disappearance.’

 

DAVE’S PICKS

DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN

DivinityOriginalSinLogoAs I already own this on Beta, I feel my first choice of anticipated game is cheating slightly.

Way back in 2002 Larian Studios released one of my all-time favourite games, Divine Divinity. Now 12 years on, they have early released their third Divinity installment through Steam for eager fans to play and provide feedback.

The game itself is your standard RPG fare. Beastly creatures stand between you and your reward of gold, shiny items and renown across the land. You can play as your usual variety of classes ranging from the spell-slinging Wizard to the muscle-bound Warrior. However, you can tweak your classes slightly allowing for less rigid templates.

Where the series really stands out is it’s writing. The previous two games contained excellent story telling in the form of humour, heart-warming moments and at times, a little sadness. The story in Divinity: Original Sin is no exception and as an added bonus, this game comes with an editor allowing those among you who love writing stories as well as reading them, to spend many happy hours designing your own adventures for friends to conquer.

Combat is turn-based and very solid. A big plus goes to the ability to interact with your environment when fighting and this is especially noticable when spell casting. Is your foe standing in long grass? Burn him out with fire! That dastardly creature too quick for you? Freeze their path with ice! It’s a simple touch, but comes across incredibly effective.

While it is still very much in its Alpha stages, it still looks and plays incredibly well and I for one cannot wait for the full release later this year.

 

CHILD OF LIGHT

ChildofLightLogoContinuing with the RPG theme and going back to Ubisoft, Child of Light is my second choice of games to watch out for. It looks absoultely gorgeous and could be a strong contender for RPG of the year. It’s also coming out really soon!

If you’re not already aware of this title, the premise is simple. You play a girl who wakes up in a strange land and have been tasked with the simple quest of returning the Sun, Moon and stars from the evil Black Queen. It plays like a cross between LIMBO and Rayman but with Final Fantasy style combat. Add to that a crazy big levelling up system and the ability to craft a massive range of items, this game will keep you playing for many hours.

Did I mention it’s coming out really soon? 🙂

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