Sunday, 22 November 2015

Fallout 4 Review - Radioactive Frame Rate.

By Sam Coles:

Fallout is a series that I like but I don’t love because most of the time they have glaring issues which people seem to sweep under the carpet and say “What do you expect it’s a Bethesda game”. I find that is a terrible excuse because if any other company were to do that they would be crucified. Fallout 4 swayed me when I first saw the E3 trailer earlier this year, but has it swayed me to like this game? Yes and no, but unfortunately more towards no, but it’s not a bad game let me get that out in the open. 

Fallout 4 at the start of the game takes place before the massive disaster that is World War 3 and you start off in your family home where you must create your character in the bathroom mirror whether it be male or female. This great because the customisation is great fun to play around with whether you want to sculpt yourself into the game or make a monstrous abomination. This will also sculpt what your infant child looks like as, you also get to choose your name and your robot butler calls you by that name depending on how many names they have logged, subtle details like this are great. The nukes finally start to fly and you must flee to the Vault where you are then cryogenically frozen for 200 years, you awake after your slumber and go for the surface only to find that Boston is ruins, so you must start your adventure of survival.

Throughout Fallout 4 you’ll be exploring cities and settlements where you’ll converse with other survivors whether they are friendly or hostile. This is the thing I like about this game with the conversation system for starters your characters speaks and plus the conversations feel more organic and I think it helps with the cinematic angle in the conversations rather the static nature of past Fallout games.

For the most part though you’ll be trudging the wasteland and getting into skirmishes with bandits, super mutants and other mutated wildlife. Sometimes they’ll drop some rare items such as armour, weapons whether they’re melee or firearm and medicinal and other crafting supplies to help you on your journey. The game handles like a decent first person shooter when you’re in combat for the most part, it does feel clunky still which is a bit of an issue because the collision detection can be eerily precise sometimes. If you don’t want to play it like a shooter you can go back to the old school way of playing Fallout with the VATS system, where you can slow down time and you can pick parts of the body to blow to pieces and there is a percentage of what your chances are of hitting the target so it's like the old dice roll systems of early CRPG's.

Remember you have to survive in this world and maintain your health because there is no regenerating health so you have to keep yourself in peak physical condition by using Stims and food. You can be injured too where you can cripple your arm which will make your aiming more Waverley or you can hurt your leg which will make you limp. I like this aspect because you constantly feel vulnerable every step you take because your next step can see you legs blow off by a trip mine.

It’s not all shoot everything because for the most part it’s best not to get involved because sometimes you’ll be out numbered, plus if you decide to take the passive option you’ll be rewarded with currency, more info about a quest or new gear, so think before you shoot. Sometimes this will help you gain allies as you travel the wasteland as they can help you fight, carry some of your inventory or even give you information about a certain area, so you don’t have to go alone.

The presentation is good, but not great let me get the positives out of the way first. The game nails the wasteland look with ruined buildings to the rotting corpses that have been there for decades. The atmosphere is fantastic where you can sit there and listen to hear nothing but the eerie soundtrack play in the background, the game gets creepy when you visit the vaults. In terms of atmosphere it's fantastic!

Now in terms of the technical aspects of the presentation I'm not impressed. The textures are very muddy especially textures on clothes they're very low res and something that wouldn't be uncommon on a Xbox 360 or PS3. This game has horrendous bugs and frame rate issues well on the Xbox One version, but I have heard issues on PS4 and PC as well.

I've had frequent frame rate drops especially in urban areas where it would drop to single digits this really happens when there is fire everywhere and there is a quest where you're inside a warehouse and there is fire everywhere, which lead to slide show movement. I don't understand how no one has addressed these issues I always get the comment “It's a Bethesda game what do you expect”. No. You can't say that for one company and not for the other because if Ubisoft, EA or Activision released a game in this state you would be shouting to the hill tops, but just because it's Bethesda you give it a reassuring hug, when you should be saying this is not acceptable.

I've had bugs with the conversation mechanics as well where the main character would just stand there like an idiot with no button prompts to carry on the conversation and I also had several crash back to the dashboard as well.

When the game is running fine which isn't often the game is great but the constant stuttering really sucks me out of the world and the constant crashes make want to throw my controller. Just because it's Bethesda doesn't make them any different from any other video game company they should be criticised just as much as Ubisoft or EA etc.

Fallout 4 is a fun experience when the game runs properly, but I can't look past the performance issues that it has so I don't see myself going back to this game yet until these issues are straighten out.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition - A Destroyed World has Beauty.

By Sam Coles:

Darksiders is a series in my opinion that is really underrated and I know people berate it for being an M rated Zelda clone, in which I reply with. Yeah so what? How many games do you see that actually copy the Zelda formula? Not many and to be honest if you're going to do an action adventure format with blade based combat, why not take the simplistic nature of Zelda.

Darksiders II originally came out on the Xbox 360 and PS3 back in 2012 which was the follow up to the 2010 release. This time however you no longer play as War one the horseman of the Apocalypse, but instead you play as his soul harvesting brother Death, who looks like a more muscled version of Marilyn Manson. The story for this game is that you must help your brother War because he got into trouble with the Chard Council in the previous game for setting off the Apocalypse off too early so you must try and restore the world back to normal in order to save him.

This game is an adventure game where you roam the world collect treasure, slay monsters and grab new abilities, but it also splices in elements from RPG's such as armor and weapon loot with different stats whether it be better or lesser than your currently owned weapon. You also have a skill tree that you can upgrade various abilities such as Death's Reaper form where he turns into the traditional Grim Reaper and he can deal more damage, or his teleport slash where he can strike multiple enemies within a short teleportation jump.

Gameplay is fairly familiar if you've played any of the 3D Zelda games and God of War. It takes the Z targeting from Zelda and the frantically over the top hack and slash action from God of War so you can mix two types of weapons in a combo with pausing to switch them out. The combat is super responsive and satisfying although the camera can freak out a bit in tight areas when you're locked on so you get a face full of wall texture.

You’ll also be doing a lot of platforming as you traverse the land and dungeons. I must commend the game for this because it’s one of the best climbing controls that I’ve used because it’s not awkward, it’s snappy and you don’t perform leaps of faith and hope you land somewhere safe. For example if you’re climbing a pole and you want to jump to another pole then you press a button to reach and not awkwardly point the analogue stick in that direction and hope your character reaches out. Take note Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted.

The visual presentation is a mix bag in terms of the environments; some areas came look beautiful with vibrant colours such as the starting area where you’re wondering the tundra with your horse. However some areas can look really bland and bury this seems to be the dungeons only with their grey and brown hues that aren’t very interesting.

Darksiders II is a fun adventure game with interesting puzzles and great combat. If you’ve played this game before I don’t see any point in revisiting this game, but if you missed it the first time round and are looking for a decent game to fill the time on your Xbox One or PS4 then I would say pick it up.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Dragon Quest Heroes Review - Hack and Slash Fun!

By Sam Coles:

I don’t know if this is a new thing at the moment but the guys who make the Dynasty Warriors series seem to be making games with their formula with different skins of other existing game franchises. First they did The Legend of Zelda with Hyrule Warriors and now we have Dragon Quest Heroes. Does it work? In short yes!

The story of Dragon Quest Heroes is set in the world of Arba where monsters and humans both co-exist and get along with each other. Until a mysterious spell suddenly turns them against humans and begin to attack the humans for no reason. So you must journey through the land and fight your way through hordes of monsters and destroying them in the most outrageous and over the top way possible. It’s what you would expect from a Dynasty Warriors style game. You can pick between two heroes that you’ll primarily control, however you can assume direct control of the other characters during a battle as it has the classic party system.

The gameplay if you haven’t guessed already is a hack and slash game in the same vein as Dynasty Warriors as it is made by same guys. Like Hyrule Warriors you’ll travel to locales that you know from the Dragon Quest universe, as well as getting into big scale battles with waves and waves of enemies from the games even those deceivingly adorable slimes.

How it generally works you enter an area where you take down a wave of enemies until the game tells you to stop, but portals will appear which keeps you on your toes and you have to kill the portal keepers. This makes you think about how you tackle a battle especially when you’re defending an object or person because the portals are generally at the back of the map far away, so you have to leave objective vulnerable for a small amount of time. You’re not always stuck in small spaces fighting these monsters you get to explore large rolling green hills exploring and fighting monsters to gain XP and unlock new weapons. Now and again you’ll fight large bosses which will require different strategies such as using ballista’s etc. Each boss fight is fresh and varied which will not leave you bored.

It’s not just a hack and slash game it acts like an RPG like the other Dragon Quest games. What I mean by this is that you gain XP which is standard fair in most action games these days, but you have to assign points to each of your party members to keep them powered up. You also have to check their items and weapons to make sure they’re up to par with you and the enemies you’ll encounter next. After each mission you’ll be transported back to camp which is a hub area where you can interact with other characters, learn more about the world, buy new equipment and assign skill points to your party members when it’s quiet.

The graphics are bright and colourful with a beautiful cartoon style which will help it age better in the coming years. The characters visual styles are all unique and different with their own funny personality traits for each. The game runs at a buttery smooth frame rate of 60 frames per second during gameplay sections which is key for this sort of game because you need that quick reaction time.

Dragon Quest Heroes is a wonderful spin off to an already fantastic game series which has great action and doesn’t take itself seriously which is nice to play a game that is not serious in a sea of games that are gritty and violent. If you have a PS4 grab this game you won’t regret it.