Friday, 29 December 2017

Dead Rising 4 Review (PS4) - And a zombie in a pear tree!

By Sam Coles:

The Dead Rising series is something I like, but not necessarily love as I like the idea of decking zombies with any object that isn’t nailed to the ground, but the games I have played are plagued with flawed and clunky controls. To my surprise Dead Rising 4 is a fun experience and it controls very well, but its shelf life is hampered by a Christmas theme, now I know what you’re thinking “Batman Arkham Origins is Christmas themed”. Yes that is true but it’s not really the focus, Dead Rising 4 takes the theme and pushes it in your face like your annoying little brother who won’t shut up about the festive season.

Dead Rising 4 puts you back into the journalistic shoes of Frank West where he is tricked by his student into revisiting the source of the first infection, which happened over a decade ago, yes it has been that long since the release of the first game. They have found out that a PMC have created a new strain of the virus that can get around the vaccine that has combat the current zombie virus, one thing leads to another and chaos ensues. The story is a strange one because it’s well performed, but it doesn’t stick to one tone where it is rather serious in one scene, where it then turns goofy and Frank starts acting like an infuriating idiot.

The gameplay is different, well when I say different it’s because I haven’t played a Dead Rising game since 2010 because A. I didn’t have an Xbox One with the advent of the third game and B. It looked too grey and brown for a Dead Rising game. The gameplay in general left me smiling and frowning at the same time, let’s call it “smilowning”. Anyway let’s talk about the gameplay, like other entries you can still roam around an open area and deck any zombie in the nearby vicinity with any weapon of your choosing, whether it be a typical blade or if you’re an idiot you hit them in the head with a stuffed bear. You have an open season in terms of what you want to use on the undead, not only that with the pre-mentioned useless items they can be combined to create weapons of mass destruction.  

Here is the part that the game left me, as I coined it “smilowning” the crafting! Now I’m not saying the system itself is bad, not at all as I love strapping fireworks to a crossbow and shooting it into a crowd of zombies and watching it explode. What I don’t like is that you can craft combo weapons on the fly which in my opinion sucks all tension and exploration out of the game because you no longer have to seek salvage in the form of a work bench.

Another aspect that they have brought back from the original game is camera mechanic, how this works is that you can take photos which will gain you extra XP rewards, depending on how horrific or brutal your photos are. Like any other game with a camera mechanic these days, the devs seem to think everyone wants to take a selfie, which looks rather sad with Frank West who a middle aged man by this point taking a selfie like someone in his teens or early twenties.

Visually the game is decent, character models look great with decent details and fantastic lip syncing that is spot on. The environments are rather bland, considering the festive setting it is rather subdue, with grey outdoor areas. The game runs rather well, yes only at 30 frames per second (for the most part), but honestly that does not bother me as I understand considering the amount of explosions and zombies there are on the screen.

Overall Dead Rising 4 is an okay game, nothing mind blowing, but it will kill some time from cradle to grave, so if you’re looking for some mindless action I would say give this a go. If you’re a PS4 owner it is now available on that system in the form of the not so subtle phallic joke, Frank’s Big Package.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Review - Gun slinging action.

By Sam Coles:

The Call of Juarez series I feel is underrated, as I don’t often hear people talk about it and I understand the last major release The Cartel was received as well as a fart in a lift, but that is one out of three games. Call of Juarez Gunslinger was a small download only game released on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC all the back in the summer of 2013, and was an excellent game with a fun story, great gameplay and a good looking art style. The question I have to ask is why have we not got another game in the series? It’s been over four years; maybe people are still too scared to make western games due to Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption.

Call of Juarez Gunslinger is about a lone bounty hunter named Silas Greaves, who is an old man who walks into a saloon looking for someone. He ends up meeting people who have heard of his exploits; he then ends up telling them stories of his past where he spins tales of him riding with notorious figures in the old west like Billy the Kid and hunting down the legendary Jesse James. It’s a fun story because what is unique is that when he is narrating during gameplay things start to appear like wooden planks when he is running across a rooftop, or not remembering things properly where a gameplay segment starts again which leads to some humorous moments.  

Gameplay is a first person shooter, but instead of hiding behind cover waiting to pick people off, it’s all about pulling off stylish kills at high speeds similar to Bulletstorm, but less over the top rag dolls and exploding limbs. The game really encourages you to keep moving, because if you skip a beat your score will reset. How this works is that the more you kill in succession the more your score builds up coupled with more stylish kills which can consist of headshots, melee kills or causing a chain reaction with explosions.

What I like about the gameplay of this game, is that it has an old school feel as it encourages mobility and speed as you’re a sitting duck if you stay in cover. You can play it like a cookie cutter shooter, but the enemies don’t stay in the same place and will eventually start charging your position or flush you out with dynamite.

Visually the game looks really good; it shoots for a cell shaded look as Borderlands during this period was very popular so other publishers tried to replicate the success of that game with the graphics. Feedback from enemies when you shoot them is extremely satisfying as you see blood gushing out with a suitably sickening sound as it pours out. Although there can be some pop in issues, as I was playing this game on the Xbox 360 which I’m sure it is not an issue on the PC.

Overall Call of Juarez Gunslinger is a game that we need more of with its western setting and fast and frantic gameplay. It’s not expensive but it wasn’t expensive to begin with, so go download it on Steam, PSN or Xbox Live with the latter being playable on Xbox One via Backwards Compatibility. 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) Review - The Sith has many forms.

By Sam Coles:

I swear with each rebooted game franchise the industry is purposely trying to mess with my archiving system because now I have two games in my collection called Star Wars Battlefront II. Does it live up to the original Battlefront II that came out in 2005 on the PS2 and Xbox, yes and no as it has some questionable design when it comes to the progression in multiplayer.

Unlike the 2015 release of Star Wars Battlefront this game has a singleplayer story campaign; it takes place in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. You play as an elite Stormtrooper who is a part of the legendary Inferno Squad, who are sent in to mop up on Endor during the siege of the Death Star II, but it all goes wrong and the Empire is defeated. They have a contingency plan called Operation Scorch where they attack planets with a satellite weapon where they assert their presence in the galaxy; however Iden the character you play as starts to see what the empire truly is after attacking her home planet and defects to the rebellion. This is a painfully predictable twist which I saw from a mile off because during the lead up to this game’s release I thought we would have had a good story from the empire’s point of view, but no we get the clich├ęd switching side nonsense. The story is well performed with some memorable set pieces the stand out being the Battle of Jakku, but it’s also extremely short as I managed to finish it in 4 hours. This is where the multiplayer comes into play which has a few problems with progression.

The multiplayer a step in the right direction compared to the 2015 release, as there are more features and maps but there are fewer modes because I remember there being more modes in last game. The maps are all different and unique with varied combat scenarios which have dynamic weather systems where it can be night time one round and dusk the next.

The modes that stand out the most are Galactic Assault and Starfighter Assault, Galactic Assault are huge battles that take place on the ground taking you through different scenarios. Each scenario is fun and interesting from the Battle of Hoth where you have to escort two AT-AT walkers to destroy the rebels shield generators, to the Clone Wars era battling it out on the streets of Naboo. 

The Starfighter Assault mode are space battles which are a lot of fun with unique ships from the Star Wars universe with the iconic noise of the Tie Fighters to the X-Wings unfolding ready for battle. The objectives in this mode are generally defend your capital ships or thinning down enemy reinforcements, it controls well and dogfights can get really tense. 

Now we get to the class and progression system and this is my biggest problem with Battlefront II, if you don’t know EA got a lot of heat about the progression due to the loot box system breaking the game. The loot boxes have game changing rewards which people can pay real money for which results in unfair advantages. It is painfully slow to level up in this game, I’m only level 11 and I’ve been playing the game’s multiplayer for over 14 hours, fortunately they have fixed the issue of unlocking hero characters by making them cheaper with the in game currency, so it no longer takes 40 hours to unlock Darth Vader. However that is not the point it should have been easier to unlock characters and not a slow process, every time I feel like I’m getting somewhere in this game’s multiplayer it throws up a wall in front me with the progression

The presentation is fantastic; it is to be expected with a game made by DICE as they are the minds behind the Battlefield series. There is a lot of detail in this game and they surpass CGI cities that were produced back in 1999 in Star Wars Episode 1, the city of Theed on Naboo looks fantastic with leaves blowing across the floor, to citizens fleeing in terror. All the iconic battles and planets have been recreated beautifully; you can really tell that this game was made by fans of Star Wars because there is a lot of care put into the graphics. All of this detail with a smooth 60 frames per second on console is absolutely mind boggling.

Star Wars Battlefront II is a hard game to judge because underneath all the shady business practises and slow progression is a genuinely good game, with a good but predictable campaign and multiplayer with developed gameplay. However the business practises with the loot boxes, the pay to win elements and slow class progression ultimately pulls it down, until they remove these completely I can’t recommend it entirely.

Monday, 11 December 2017

My favourite games of 2017.

By Sam Coles:

2017 has been tough for the gaming industry with a certain publisher screwing up *cough* *cough* EA, with micro transactions and shutting down Visceral Games. However we have had a lot of fantastic games and most of them were singleplayer so we can put the whole nonsense of them dying to sleep. I want to cover my favourite games of 2017 in no particular order, remember I will be cover games I have reviewed on my blog and so if a game doesn’t turn up here I either didn’t review it or I didn’t like it. Okay? Good let’s get into it.

Yakuza: 0/Kiwami

I’m lumping these games together because in terms of gameplay because they are essentially the same game. The only experience of Yakuza I had before these games was with the 4th instalment on the PS3 which I did not get on with maybe it’s because I jumped into the wrong game in the series. So I thought I would give the series another go and what a better way to start with the prequel and a remake of the first game and it has now become my new favourite series on the PlayStation.

Yakuza 0 and Kiwami have gripping stories set in the Japanese criminal underworld with themes of violence, however the games can betray their own series nature by being very goofy similar to what you would see in Metal Gear Solid but dialled up to 11. Kazma and Goro have become two of my new favourite video game characters with Kazma’s noble presences to absolute bonkers nature of Goro, they’re both fleshed out characters with interesting back stories. It also helps that the gameplay is fun too, where you can smash gangster’s teeth in with a bicycle.

Resident Evil 7

Despite my doubts of the game before it came out because I thought it was completely unoriginal being a first person horror game, I was totally surprised with this game being an genuinely tense horror game bringing Resident Evil back into the spot light.

The game goes for a first person perspective, but unlike most horror it doesn’t make you defenceless as it gives you a fire arm which despite what many would think this still makes the game scary as you have very little ammo. The setting of the Deep South with a crazy redneck family infected with a virus was very unique, instead them being zombies or horrible monsters, they were just normal people that could still think for themselves for the most part. The story was well written because Capcom got someone else to write it, it comes from the writer of Spec Ops The Line and Fear, which could explain the whole little girl thing throughout the game.

It’s a fantastic game and you should pick it up if you haven’t already, I would recommend the Gold Edition.


What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Cuphead, it’s a beautiful game with a completely unique art style aping cartoons from the 1930’s it is the first thing you’ll notice about this game and it will age well with the years to come.

The art style is not the only thing that makes this game good, the gameplay is fantastic with challenging boss battles and platforming which got the gaming media in a tiss you know people who were not good at the game and wanted a skip boss button which is absurd. All the bosses are unique with beautiful animation; I can see why this game took 7 years to make with the amount of detail that is crammed into this game.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

This was a total surprise when Bethesda announced this game at E3 this and for them to say it was also coming out this was another surprise, as Wolfenstein The New Order was my favourite game from 2014 with its well written plot and old school shooting gameplay.

Wolfenstein II takes the foundation of The New Order and polishes it up nicely with a new plot which is engaging or though completely ridiculous half way through and you know what I’m talking about if you’ve played it. The gameplay was improved as the gameplay in The New Order was a bit stiff and sluggish in parts, but in this game movement speed is fast and combat feels great as you see Nazi’s exploded into meaty chunks as you gun them down with automatic shotguns.  

Horizon Zero Dawn

This was a game that I was not particularly excited about when it got announced last year, as I just rolled my eyes at another open world game as I’m fed up with them. However when Sony sent me a review code and I booted up the game I was immediately engaged with the beautiful graphics, amazing world and a loveable main character in the form of Aloy.

From the same developers of the Killzone series, this is the first new IP they have made as all they have made before this since 2005 were Killzone games. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where technology failed and turned on mankind, so the human race have regressed back to their primal routes with tribes and primitive weapons like spears and bows. The gameplay is a great mix of open world exploration, combat and crafting, yes a game with crafting in it that didn’t make me want to tear my hair out as the process is quick and smooth.

Sonic Mania

Here is a game that came out of nowhere; the Sonic franchise has been ranging in quality from nuclear waste to meh. However Sega decided to give the keys to a set of fans who knew what they were doing and we got one of the best games in the series since Sonic Colours.

Sonic Mania purposely goes for an art style of a Mega Drive game, although adds subtle touches that a Mega Drive could not have like new and smooth animation. Gameplay is excellent with fast movement and precise platform with old stages from the classic games and new ones from the developers. The music is fantastic too! What can I say about the music, it is absolutely beautiful; Tee Lopes has done a fantastic job of updating the music coupled with his own tracks for the new stages.

Hand of Fate 2

This was an indie game that I didn’t really know about but after seeing footage of the game I had to get in contact with the dev to review it on my blog, and I was surprised with the unique premise of the game.
Think of this game as a mix of Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons and combat from the Batman Arkham series
What is presented is fantastic, you start off picking an adventure on the board then you’re introduced to the dealer, what he will then do is deal you some cards for a certain scenario which can either aid you or affect you negatively. What I like about this game is that it keeps you guessing and makes you feel vulnerable, as the cards dealt to you (no pun intended) aren’t always good. The combat is serviceable nothing we haven’t seen before but it works and is very tight and responsive to play.

They you have it those are some of my favourite games of 2017, and I must say we have had a lot of unique experiences throughout the year and are reasons to own and Xbox One or PS4 (I don’t have a Switch yet). If you haven’t already go out and give these games a go.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Editorial | Why are games off limits?

By Sam Coles:

There is always something within the video game industry that stirs the boiling pot that is the mainstream media and out of touch people who do not understand the medium. With the recent release of the trailer for David Cage’s upcoming interactive novel Detroit: Become Human has caused alarm to certain MPs and the head of the charity Childline. They have said this is not entertainment, when they miss the point entirely, as it is within context of a story. This brings up the question of why are video games off limits when it comes to certain subject matters.

Video games as medium have been catered for a wide selection of ages since the early 90’s, when Sega decided to market their new consoles the Mega Drive or Genesis if you’re American to an older audience. At the same time Mortal Kombat had hit the scene which caused a stir in America creating the ESRB, which age rate games in the US, this wasn’t an issue here in the UK as we had the BBFC to age rate games. When Mortal Kombat came out a lot of people were worried about their kids, but if you look at the content now you would say yes that game is clearly aimed at adults without hesitation. You have to realise that this was the early 90’s and video games were still seen as children’s toys, it wasn’t really until the mid to late 90’s where the medium started to evolve to a new story telling tool.

In 1998 games started to focus more on their stories with scenes with voice acting that had weight and emotion for the most part. The game that start this was Hideo Kojima’s smash hit Metal Gear Solid, this was a game with a story about political conspiracies and nuclear war, which was very heavy stuff for a video game at the time, yes it’s standard fair now, but you have to remember back then stories consisted of save the girl and kill the bad guy. Metal Gear Solid set the standard of how most singleplayer story focused games would be made in the future, this opened a new gateway to explore darker and more adult themes.

The early 2000’s came around and we got new consoles in the form of the PS2, Xbox and GameCube, what came are new slew of singleplayer games with new and darker stories. The game that comes to mind from this period is Max Payne; this game got a lot attention when it came out due to its dark story with Max’s wife and new born son being murdered by drug addicts. The story saw Max fall into the void of whiskey and painkillers, parents at the time were not use to seeing a story like this in a video game and were not happy despite the game being rated a 15+ here and M for mature in the US. The PS2 and Xbox were heavily marketed to the more mature audience from 16 all the way up to 30+, Max Payne solidified this with its dark tale it showed it is a new way to convey a story.

Once we got to the Xbox 360 and PS3 technology began to evolve at a rapid rate and game developers where able to utilise motion capture and facial animations to convey convincing emotions. Games that really standout from this period are Metal Gear Solid 4, The Last of Us and Red Dead Redemption, these are games that had weight and emotion touching on taboo subjects like human trafficking in war, coping with the loss of a child and redemption from a life crime to only to be betrayed. These games have weight to them with gameplay to back up the context with sharp writing and excellent acting from veterans of the industry or people who new to video game acting.

No one said a word about these games when they came out because they were clearly aimed adults, at the time of Red Dead’s release I was 17 so I wasn’t old enough to buy the game but my parents were very liberal and never censored me from art. I’m not saying that you should let kids play any game but maybe have a discussion about the themes as that is what my parents did, which they would then judge if I was mature enough to handle the themes, you should never try to hide these things from younger audiences.

Here we are in the current generation of gaming, which honestly we have pushed the boat out with certain subjects such as Mafia III which had the courage to explore the racism of the Deep South during the 60’s as they did not shy away from the language used at the time. Even the latest Wolfenstein game explored domestic violence with B.J’s past with his horrible and racist father, so why should Detroit Become Human be an exception and off limits? I think it’s a medium that the older generation still don’t understand, as it is still relatively young, it was the same thing with movies, books and comics. Should David Cage change the scene in the game? Absolutely not, it is a horrible thing that happens in real life, this game does not glorify it, it brings awareness to the situation, Childline should be praising this not condemning it, and it is well acted and is done in a tasteful manner.

This is just the latest example of the out of touch ninnies trying to say that video games are corrupting youth despite their being evidence countering this. Video games are new medium of telling stories, these can be dark tales of revenge, violence and drugs or it can be more cheerful no matter the subject it’s a medium that is starting to surpass films with storytelling to the younger generation.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Mortal Kombat (2011) Review - Gory action rebooted for the 7th generation.

By Sam Coles:

The Mortal Kombat series had a big hiatus during the 7th generation of gaming after the mixed reception of the last game to appear on the PS2 in the form of Armageddon, they did release Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe which I enjoyed but it was an MK game rated a 15+, yes a T rated MK game. It wasn’t until 2011 when they decided to reboot the series by releasing a game simply titled Mortal Kombat in mid-2011 on the Xbox 360 and PS3, with a Vita and PC release later down the line.

Mortal Kombat begins after the events of Armageddon where Raiden and Shao Kahn are the last standing with everyone else dead with their corpses strung across the battlefield. Raiden is defeated and Shao Kahn has him at his mercy, before Kahn can finish him off Raiden reverses time all the back to the first game, where he finds himself on Shang Tsung’s island. The game’s story mode is a lot of fun and shows there was actual effort put into it; it goes through the events of Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3 where Raiden is trying to fix things so Shao Kahn doesn’t become the ultimate being during Armageddon.  

Mortal Kombat goes back to the routes of the series by going back to a 2D plain where you can’t move side to side, not that it makes it simple but instead makes it a skilful fighting experience. All the classic characters are back such as my favourite Scorpion, with all of their iconic special moves brought back with a huge amount of gory detail. What is new is the new power meter what this can do is help parry and perform breakers, as well as executing more powerful special attacks. If you fill up the special meter you can pull off an x-ray move which is great if you’re losing as it does a lot of damage, plus it shows the damage you do to their bones as you snap their pelvis or shatter their ribs.

Controls in this game are extremely tight and responsive, not that I did not like the games on the PS2 but they were very stiff, however in this game everything just clicks when you get going. It also helps that the game runs at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second, which should be expected when it comes to a fighting game.

The presentation is fantastic, you see every detail when it comes to the brutal violence as you see the outcome of your character after the fight where you see skin hanging off his or her face, with bruised skin. The fatalities are almost stomatch churning especial Noob Saiboot’s, where he spawns a clone and they grab a leg each and pull, slowly split the unfortunate victim in half.

The only problem with this game is that there isn’t really anything worthwhile to unlock from the Krypt minus new characters, you no longer get the behind the scenes videos like you did in Deception and Armageddon. Besides that there is nothing inherently wrong with Mortal Kombat.  

Mortal Kombat is a fantastic game and was a return to form for the series, if you haven’t played it grab for the Xbox 360 or if you want to play as Kratos get it on the PS3 or Vita. The game is relatively cheap these days and you’ll get more than your money’s worth. 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks Review - God of War mixed with the MK formula.

By Sam Coles:

2005 was a good year when it came to gaming we got some excellent games such as Resident Evil 4 and Star Wars Battlefront as well as the launch of the Xbox 360. A game that also released the same year is a title that I don’t often hear people talk about and that game is Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks for the PS2 and Xbox. It was a complete shift with the standard formula in the series as this time it was not a one on one fighter, but it instead goes for an adventure style similar to God of War. Does it still hold up 12 years later? Absolutely, especially when you play it with a friend.

The story takes place during the events of Mortal Kombat II where Liu Kang defeated Shang Tsung and he has retreated back to Outworld, where he has reported back to the emperor Shao Kahn about his failures. Shao Kahn is displeased with his failure and devises a plan to start another tournament to take over Earthrealm, but first he sends soldiers to attack Raiden’s Shaolin temple, where Liu Kang and Kung Lao must defend it. After these events Raiden sends them to Outworld to investigate the issue, what transpires is a brutal and gory adventure with locations ripped from the arcade game. The story is not great with terrible voice acting although there were a few lines that made chuckle but that was because it was unintentionally funny.

The gameplay as I said before ditches the fighting game formula and goes for an adventure game style, as Yahtzee coined “like God of War but…”. It is very much like God of War with the fixed camera angles and gory action, but in this game you can play it two players which is a lot of fun juggling enemies between each other.  You can pull off finishers which are flashy and fun, you first get the classic fatalities which can be hilarious to brutally disturbing, you have brutality which sends you into a frenzy and you attack faster and harder and finally you have multalities which can take out multiple enemies. These are fun and varied, but over time it can get a tad repetitive as you see the same animation over and over again, but I can’t really fault it due to the technology of the time.

The game controls surprisingly well consider its age, moving the characters around is smooth and snappy, although there are few platforming areas which I had trouble with but I think that was due to the camera in some areas. Combat (no I’m not spelling it with a K) feels great with crunchy sound effects coupled with the excellent combo system which just feels like a good fighting game thrown into a brawler.

Visually the game looks good in some sections, but shows its age in others with bland and flat textures, my favourite area visually is the forest with the sentient trees that eat enemies when you throw them in their general direction. Character models don’t look too bad although the animations in some cutscenes don’t look great with stiff and clunky animations.

Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks is a fantastic spin off to the franchise and is a must have for your Xbox or PS2. It always boggles my mind why they never made a sequel or spiritual successor to this game as it is a great idea for the MK universe. It is easy find and is super cheap these days, so if you have a PS2 or Xbox knocking about get this game. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Sonic Forces Review - The blue blur on autopilot.

By Sam Coles:

Sega have provided us with some excellent titles throughout this year such as Yakuza 0 and Kiwami, as well as the excellent throwback game Sonic Mania which gave us some old school Sonic gameplay. You would hope that their new Sonic game Forces would be the next step to increase the popularity of the blue blur once more, but unfortunately this is not the case. The game is not bad by all means its functional but it is let down by a short campaign that you can finish in one sitting coupled with gameplay that feels as if it is on auto pilot where you have little input where you just hold right or up on the analogue stick throughout the duration. Let’s get into more detail.

Sonic Forces starts off rather dark as instead of a happy introduction, we are presented with a dark dystopian future where Doctor Eggman has defeated Sonic and has taken over the world. Presumed dead the rest of the team must carry on the rebellion knowing that Sonic’s spirit is watching over them, however it turns out that Sonic is still alive because otherwise it wouldn’t much of a Sonic game without the titular character

Gameplay is split up into three sections you have the boost formula with 3D Sonic that started in Colours, classic 2D Sonic and the gimmick for this game an avatar that you can create. The selling point of the game is that you can make your own original character, I say selling point because no matter what you do the created character looks like something from the depths of hell.

The controls for each gameplay style is competent for the most part, 3D Sonic and your custom avatar feel great especially when you use the boost mode for Sonic as you barrel through enemies at high speed. However some levels are not built for Sonic’s super speed as you’ll find yourself speeding off a cliff without warning, plus these stages just feel like they are on auto pilot as you have very little input, plus it does help that you can finish most of these stages within 60 seconds, I’m not joking. 

2D stages are not good to control, after coming from Sonic Mania with its tight and fluid controls, this game has odd momentum as you can accelerate at full speed down a slope to then come to a complete stand still as you hit the bottom of a hill. The gameplay in general just feels lazy and little effort is needed to finish the game, plus the game is short and I mean really short. Do you know how quickly I finished the game? Well I finished it the same day I received the review code for this review within 3 hours, which could explain the lower price point.

The game is inconsistent when it comes to its presentation there are parts like Green Hill Zone and the city with the 3D Sonic levels look great, on the other hand there are levels that look very flat with the textures and in general are forgettable and uninteresting. At least the frame rate is high running at a blistering 60 frames per second for the most part although it does chug a bit during some of the boost segments where there are a lot of enemies.

Sonic Forces is a huge disappointment with an insanely short length where I finished it in 3 hours to the gameplay which I felt I had little input as the game pretty much played itself. After the excellent Sonic Mania this feels like a complete let down, it has its moments but overall it just falls flat on its face. 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Hand of Fate 2 Review - An interesting card game mixed with hack and slash gameplay.

By Sam Coles:

There are few games that stand out in the industry, but if you delve into the indie market you’ll find some that stand out. That is what Hand of Fate 2 does with its interesting concepts; think of it as a mixture of a tarot card reading, Dungeons and Dragons and a sprinkle of Arkham Asylum’s combat. What we get is something truly unique and deeply engaging which will keep you hooked with each scenario.  

Hand of Fate 2 doesn’t really have a primary focus when it comes to a story as you are making your own story with the card system. How it works is that you are thrown into an area and presented with a scenario which you can either tackle it head one with combat or you can take the passive route and avoid violence entirely. When you are presented with the situation the dealer will give you several cards which tip the altercation in your favour or cripple your abilities. This system is great as it keeps things fresh and unpredictable as well as making you feel weak because it can negatively affect you and have to work around these tweaks. What I like about this system is that it’s not about violence because you can negotiate with characters you encounter on your travels, whether that is paying them off or using your sharp conversation skills to worm your way out of a tense situation.

Not to say it’s all about staring at a card dealer throughout your play time, if you thirst for blood you’ll be thrown into hack and slash combat scenarios which are good and serviceable if not by the numbers if you’ve played and hand to hand combat game *cough* *cough* Batman. Combat is very much like the Arkham games where you’re in an arena where you’re surrounded by enemies and have your light and heavy attacks coupled with a counter which you can use when enemies telegraph their attacks. It’s not bad by any means and it gets the job done, but it is the same attack engine we have seen time after time since Batman Arkham Asylum released all the back in 2009.

Visually the game looks pretty good; it runs on the Unreal 4 Engine which looks fantastic with decent looking environments and beautiful lighting. However the same cannot be said for the character models which look very goofy with their eyes and body proportions that look like two rolled up carpets leaning on petrol pump, plus their faces are too clean lacking blemishes.

Overall Hand of Fate 2 is a fantastic game with a unique hook with the tarot card system that will keep you guessing with each encounter. If you have a gaming PC or PS4 get this game as it is not terribly expensive and you’ll have hours of gameplay to keep you occupied with this unique gameplay style, yes the combat is by the numbers but that is just a fraction of what this game has to offer.   

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Rayman Review - This game is harder than I remembered.

By Sam Coles:

When you think back to the early days of the original PlayStation what games do you think of? Crash Bandicoot, Sypro, how about Rayman? Although this game was not exclusive to the original PlayStation as it came out on the Atari Jaguar first but no one bought the system and the game was more at home on the PS1 with both visuals and audio with the extra storage of CDs. The game is one of my favourite games on the PlayStation, but I forgot how unfair and challenging some of the levels are. Let’s get into more detail.  

Rayman begins with a beautiful animation introducing you to the world of Rayman, where a villain with a name that sums up his character Mr Dark causes chaos in the world by stealing the great Protoon which keeps the peace and balance in the world. Rayman must stop Mr Dark by venturing throughout the weird and wonderful world, which starts off safe by having you traverse through a forest to the more bizarre where you have anamorphic musical instruments. The story is a simple set up that all games did back in the 90’s because people didn’t really care that much about stories in video games, it gives you a brief cutscene and then you’re in the game.

Rayman is a 2D platformer in the same vein as Super Mario and I know what you’re thinking why release a 2D game on a system that is capable of 3D games. Well it was early days when it came to developing games in 3D and plus the game’s creator didn’t know how to make a 3D platformer at the time until he made the game’s sequel. The game starts off simple enough letting you get a grasp of the game’s controls then you’re granted the ability to punch which will help you deal with enemies. There is a good sense of progression in this game and it trickles new abilities slowly, where it then proceeds to give you a level to use said ability. This may come across as predictable similar to old Zelda games where you find an item and you have to use it on the boss, but I think it is fitting as it makes you get use to the ability.

Rayman is not perfect because when you get to the later stages the game becomes insanely hard and unfair as there is a slight delay with the controls and the game expects you to have the reflexes of a god. It doesn’t help that there are obstacles that you cannot see coming and you have no way of avoiding them, don’t get me wrong I love this game but later levels are ridiculous and are trial and error where you have to analyse the patterns and that is not fun.

What can I say about the visuals? They’re beautiful! You thought Cuphead did the whole cartoon style, nope Rayman did it 22 years prior and the game still holds up considering its age. Animations are fantastic Ubisoft hired professional cartoonist to draw and animate the enemies and Rayman to give them a unique look. Rayman stands out and that is saying a lot because the background can be a bit busy in some levels with dancing flowers in the forest to pencils falling in Picture City. The game still looks great considering it came out 22 years ago.

Rayman is a great game and is a must have in your collection, the game did start to aggravate me in later levels, but the beautiful visuals, fun gameplay and fantastic soundtrack pulled me through. You can pick this up on PS1 which will play on a PS2 and PS3 or you can get it on PC and Atari Jaguar, but I would not recommend the Jaguar version as the audio is not very good.  

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