Friday, 29 September 2017

Killing Floor 2 (Xbox One) Review - Great gory action, but it gets old fast.

By Sam Coles:

The Zombie genre is something I have grown rather tiresome over the years due to the over saturation, however there are few that have grabbed my attention such as the excellent Dying Light came out back in 2015. Killing Floor 2 is a fun multiplayer cooperative shooter with hordes of the undead that want nothing more than to tear you to pieces, it is fun…. For a few minutes, does it make it a bad game? No, but there is only so much you can do in this game, let’s get into it.

Killing Floor 2 doesn’t bother with a story as this is a purely multiplayer focused game, so there is no introduction scene just the main menu where you get stuck in. Honestly it doesn’t bother me that this game does not have an in-depth story as it gives you a basic context, here is a gun and there are some zombies kill them all. It reminds of a lot of games from the late 80’s and early 90’s with simple contexts where the gameplay and challenge was important rather than the narrative.

Killing Floor 2 is a first person shooter where you team up with other players to take on the undead, where you go through each wave which gets progressively harder and you then fight a boss character. Each level has 10 waves and you may think that is not very long, you would be right if you were to play it on lower difficulties but if you play it on hard each wave becomes a longer endeavour with the amount of zombies the game throws at you. 

After each wave you have a certain amount of time to buy more weapons, ammo and amour, these weapons are your standard rifles, pistols and shotguns however you have access to melee weapons which are great and satisfying to use. Most of the weapons are great to use with impactful satisfaction, especially the shotguns that shake the screen with every trigger pull, or my favourite is to go full John Woo and duel weld Desert Eagles and go nuts.

The presentation is okay, nothing mind blowing but the game runs at 60 frames per second for the most part, it does drop when things get really busy. I can understand why they dialled back the visuals because the gore looks fantastic with body parts flying everywhere when you unload your clip into the undead horde, or when they explode with a well-placed shot with your shotgun. The gore on display is fantastic, it is like Left 4 Dead but times 10, this is why the frame has a habit of slowing down when there are tons of enemies on screen and blood and body parts starting flying all over the place. As well as the over top gore Killing Floor 2 has an awesome soundtrack with heavy metal that gets you in the mood to shoot everything that gets in your way.

The only issue I have with this game is that, it can get boring really quickly, especially when you play by yourself as all it is horde based zombie gameplay, I know there are people who can play this sort thing for hours but I can’t I like variety in my games. However if you have a group of friends you can have hours of fun with the tense situations you’ll be thrown into, as this game can be unforgiving sometimes.

Killing Floor 2 is a fun diversion for a few hours, however it starts to stagnate and get a bit boring due to the repetitive nature of the horde based gameplay. Although if you grab a group of friends it is a blast to play and it can also get rather tense. If you can convince some of your friends to pick this game up I would say go out and buy it, but if you’re looking for a good solo experience you won’t find it here. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Resident Evil Revelations (Xbox One) Review - Almost Resident Evil, but not quite.

By Sam Coles:

We had a good start to the year for Resident Evil with the excellent Resident Evil 7, but Capcom hasn’t stopped their as they have re-released Resident Evil Revelations in glorious HD and 60 frames per second. Resident Evil Revelations originally released all the way back in 2012 on the Nintendo 3DS; it was show case of what he handheld could do. This is decent entry in the series but has a few issues that stop it from being truly excellent.

Resident Evil Revelations takes place in between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, where you swap between two protagonists Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. You mainly play as Jill exploring a creepy abandoned ship that is in the middle of the ocean, which has been reported to have some biological weapons on board. They find out that ship has been taken over by oceanic like zombies and they must find out who is behind the infection. The story has never been the strong point of the Resident Evil series, well not until 7 where they got someone else to write it, because generally the dialogue is poorly written with questionable voice acting. Now I’m not talking Resident Evil 1-3 levels of voice acting where the voice work was hilariously bad, but it’s still a bit awkward in some scenes. Does the gameplay save it? Yes and no.

Gameplay tries to balance both survival horror from Resident Evil 4 and action from Resident Evil 6; however it doesn’t work in the game’s favour. The game has a strong and tense opening when you board the abandoned ship, but then it cuts to a different location where they throw waves upon waves of enemies at you. The issue with this is that the game doesn’t give you enough ammo to compensate for the situation, I found myself out of bullets during boss fights because the bosses take too many hits. This is artificial difficulty where they crank up the enemy’s health and it arduous at best.

A unique aspect of the game is that you’re equipped with a scanner, what this can do is scan enemies which if you can reach a hundred percent you’ll gain a recovery item. This is not the only use for it, there may be rooms that appear empty, but if you scan round you can find hidden items whether they are important to the story or not. This is a good idea in theory, but it is rather annoying because I found myself in the scanning mode for most of the game trying to gain health items and ammunition for my weapons, it became a chore by the end of it.

You can really tell that this is a port of a 3DS game as the textures have not been smoothed out; they look blurry and unattractive to look at. However the game does look really good during the pre-rendered scenes with fantastic animations from characters and environmental effects. Facial animation is lacking during the non-pre-rendered scenes as their mouths look like upside down pedal bin lids every time they speak, I’ve seen muppets with better lip syncing than this.

Resident Evil Revelations is neither the best or worst Resident Evil game, it seems to be an unfocused mess with good creepy elements, where they then proceed to throw you in action set pieces that don’t mesh together, as it has little ammo in those moments. It has its moments but just falls short, with lack lustre visuals, gameplay and content as the campaign is extremely short.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

About Me

Started this blog in 2014 just hot off the heels of writing for gaming website, as I wanted to be in control of what I write, it's a space where I can express my opinion of games whether they are new or old.

How did I start off in games writing? It all began in late 2010 when I was 17 when I was doing my A-levels, I started to develop a passion for video games, I chanced it by sending my local newspaper the Bristol Post an email saying I would like to write game reviews. They said yes and this is how I got my foot in the door, I started off writing concise reviews as I had a 250-500 word limit for my reviews, it was a challenging endeavour, but I started to get a grasp of writing as I was studying media and English language at the time.

Fast forward to 2013/14 I was starting to make a name for myself, as I had contacts with publishers within the industry with Grand Theft Auto V being the first game I got early to review. After some creative differences with the gaming website I use to write for I went solo for a few months with this blog. At the end of 2014 a local online magazine called found my blog and they sent me a message over Twitter wanting me to cover games and tech on their site. This is where I am today, as I get review copies on a consistent basis with a healthy following getting opportunities to cover new and exciting games within the industry.

I hope you enjoy my content!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Deus Ex Mankind Divided Review - The world is in chaos.

By Sam Coles:

The Deus Ex series is known for its open ended level design, decision making and epic stories. The series got the reboot treatment back in 2011 with the excellent Human Revolution, after that game’s release we wanted for more. In 2015 Square Enix announced Deus Ex Mankind Divided and it looked very good, however that was not the problem that gamers had with it, it was first the pre-order tiers that they introduced which was heavily criticised and they quickly backpedalled on it. It seemed to be looking good as Square Enix was responding to their customers, but just a few weeks before the release they put micro transactions in a singleplayer game that you pay for and a lot of people hate this game for that fact alone. Is it a bad game? No absolutely not, but it does have a few issues on the technical side. Let’s get into it.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided takes place after the events of Human Revolution where a virus was spread to corrupt augmented humans, where they went mad and butchered people. Fast forward a few years and cities around the world are under martial law where augmented humans are shunned by society where they have to go in separate bath rooms and are constantly harassed by the law. You once again play as Adam Jensen, where is sent to Prague but it is not long until everything goes wrong and a train station is bombed where it kills a lot of people and cripples Adam for a few days. What transpires is an investigation into a terrorist group coupled with governmental conspiracies; it has a Blade Runner style of story.

The gameplay is a jack of all trades it’s not quite a first person shooter or a stealth game, however I feel as if the game is judging me if I take the violent approach by going loud. Game developers if you give me the option of going loud or take a stealthy approach I’m going to feel more inclined to take the stealth option because it feels as if you are standing over my shoulder like a concerned mother judging me.

In each level you have various ways of getting to your target or objective, I really like this as it evokes of old school level design not the headache inducing maze levels from Wolfenstein, but the open ended levels from Thief. You can go in loud and shoot everything, which I do not recommend in the early stages as you are as fragile as a mouldy peach, the sneaky approach is more viable with satisfying and brutal sneaky takedowns. This is one of the morality systems that come into play as you’re given the option to take them down lethally by stabbing them with cybernetic arms or knock them out by slamming their face into a wall, the non-lethal option apparently.  It encourages changing your play style and of course encourages replay value as you can discover a completely different path on a different playthrough, as it may lead you to new weapons or a quicker path to your objective.

The new feature in this game are the experimental augmentations as Adam has discovered that he has hidden abilities within his body, this comes with a cost as it can overload your body resulting in some unusual behaviour so you have to disable certain augmentations to balance things out. This is great as you have to make some hard decisions of what augmentations you want to keep, but once you make the right choices you get some great powers that can help you with sneaking or combat.

Visually the game looks beautiful especially during the segments in the rain at night on the neon lit streets of Prague, as you see rain drops on Adam’s suit as well as puddles glistening as the moon reflects off them. Character models look good for the most part on the main characters, although they look poor on some of the NPCs. Animation is great during the pre-rendered cutscenes, on the other hand during the in game scenes the animation can look truly awful with some questionable lip syncing and gestures during conversations. There are clipping issues with the takedown animations as Adam will punch thin air, this is coupled with a few moments where the frame rate tanked below 20 and I was playing this on the PS4.
The main issue I have with this game is the final boss; this boss can go back to the depths of hell and stay there. This is not because it’s particularly hard it’s the fact he is a bullet sponge, as he b-lines towards your position, game developers increased health on an enemy does not equal high difficulty it makes the fights cheap and frustrating.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided has its flaws but overall it’s a great game with excellent stealth gameplay coupled with an engaging and complex narrative that will have you leaning out of your seat from start to finish. Pick this game up you can pick it up for £10 brand new at the moment, you won’t regret it. 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Dragon Age: Origins Review - The game that got me through dark times.

By Sam Coles:

As well as Oblivion, Dragon Age: Origins is a game that is very personal to me as it got me through a dark and depressing period of my life. I was 17 years old and my A-levels were getting the better of me when I picked the game up from my local Blockbuster (Yes they were still a thing back then), where I saw it sat on the shelf. I picked it up impulsively without knowing anything about the game at all; I knew it was made by Bioware who made Mass Effect as there was only one game in that series as the second had yet to come out. I was enamoured with this world where I was the hero and people relied on me for help, I felt I was accomplishing something in this game.

Dragon Age: Origins takes place in the kingdom of Ferelden, where there is a dark force on the horizon known as the Darkspawn. The Grey Wardens are the only ones who have the knowhow of defeating these creatures, Duncan the current leader of the Wardens is on the lookout for new members as the citizens of Ferelden have ignored the warnings of the Grey Wardens. What is unique is that you have different introductions for each race you pick hence the “Origins” part in the title, but after that the games story generally stays the same with some of hand references to your character’s background. The story is amazing with loveable and very hateable characters as they are well written, where you loath or really care about certain characters, where you form bonds or disgust for different characters.

The gameplay is very familiar if you have played Knights of the Old Republic, where you control a party of warriors which you can switch between at any time to change their abilities or attacks. Combat is generally sedate on normal and you don’t have to use too many tactics, as you can generally get away with just using your character; however when you switch to hard or nightmare mode you have to be on your toes and start using your brain.

When you journey through the kingdom you’ll find new party members such as the lustful Morrigan to the charismatic Alistair. They are all unique with great abilities; my advice is to have at least one mage in your party as they have some devastating area of effect attacks.   

The presentation honestly has not aged well, to be fair this game came out eight years ago and this was a period where developers were getting to grasp with the Xbox 360 and PS3 still. The environments can look nice in some places, but can look bland, blurry and washed out in other areas. Character models look pretty bad with stiff animations, it looks as if someone stuck a pole up their backside in some scenes, but they do animate well in scripted cutscenes rather than in game conversations.

Dragon Age: Origins is a wonderful game and is one of my favourite games of all time, if you haven’t played it do it! It is super cheap these days and you can play it on Xbox One via backwards compatibility, but you can get on PS3 and for the superior controlling version get it on the PC. 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The House of the Dead: Overkill Review - 1970's blacksploitation mixed with grindhouse.

By Sam Coles:

It’s a long time since we’ve had a House of the Dead game and last game was an absolute gem in the form of Overkill. The House of the Dead Overkill was released on the Nintendo Wii in 2009 and it is a hilarious ride from start to finish as it pokes fun at 1970’s blacksploitation films and the grindhouse genre. Should you pick up and play it today? Absolutely!

The House of the Dead Overkill goes through various scenarios, with their own quirky introduction with an over the top narrator. You have your two protagonists Agent G a rookie agent who does things by the books and detective Isaac Washington and as the game quotes “Make him mad and he’ll rip your balls off”. The story is corny and stupid in the best possible way and it will have you grinning ear to ear through, with plenty of gore, profanity and a rocking soundtrack. If you don’t like liberal use of the word fuck then this is probably not the game for you as it is constantly dropped throughout.  

The gameplay is a rail shooter, well you probably know if you are familiar with the series. You go through each level gunning down waves upon waves of the undead until you get to a boss; the bosses are unique and can be rather grotesque. One boss was formed by a mad man who has an incestuous relations with his mother and yes this game was approved by Nintendo believe or not. There is not much else to discuss about the gameplay due its simplistic nature, sure there are time attack modes etc. but in general there is not much else which is standard of rail shooters as you’re supposed to play them multiple times for high scores etc.  

Considering that this was released on the underpowered Nintendo Wii the game looks really good, with excellent character models and great animations from the Zombies. Bear in mind that this console is a standard definition system and it did look rather blurry on my 50 inch 1080p television, but that can be remedied with a HDMI adaptor which up scales the image similar to the device I have for my PS2. Overall the presentation is great with film grain effects to emulate the 1970’s style of film although this can get a bit irritating which unlike Wet you can’t turn the film grain effects off.

The House of the Dead Overkill is a fun and stupid adventure you should playthrough as it doesn’t take itself seriously which is a rarity in today’s gaming climate. You can find this for super cheap on the Wii these days or if you have a PS3 with move controllers you can pick it up on that with updated graphics running at a silky 1080p resolution, so dust off your move controllers and blast the undead into chunks.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Syndicate (2012) Review - Trying to be Deus Ex.

By Sam Coles:

In late 2011 EA games announced that there are going to reboot the hit table top RPG Syndicate, however it wasn’t going to be an RPG it was instead going to be a first person shooter, which were very popular at the time. This angered a lot of people because before this game there hasn’t been a Syndicate game since early 90’s. Does this make the game bad? No, although it is a tad uninspired with a few interesting mechanics.

Stop me if this sounds like Deus Ex Human Revolution, the game takes place in a dystopian future where most people in society are augmented with chips implanted in their bodies, which give them special abilities. Businesses are in constant battle to become the dominant supplier of said chips, where they employ agents to sabotage their competitor’s operations. You play as an agent named Kilo who is tasked to take down other businesses by any means possible, however Kilo starts to see flashes of his past as his memory was wiped when he was taken as a child to be trained as an agent. The story is somewhat interesting as you get further into the game, however the protagonist is a mute and it’s hard to feel for him when he doesn’t say a word, now I’m not saying silent characters are necessarily bad, but it if they have a complex past you can’t really convey that with a mute.

How does the gameplay fair? Well think of it as your typical corridor shooter with a sprinkle of Dues Ex Human Revolution but with streamlined mechanics. You have standard shootouts with your action hero goons that run at you with no regard of human life. You have a vast of array of weapons starting with your standard, say it with me now pistols, shotguns, assault rifles and SMGs. However when you get further into the game you get access to more exotic weapons like my favourite the Gauss Rifle which can lock onto enemies and shoot around corners, which is great for taking down enemies who like sitting in cover for long periods of time.

What’s unique about this game is that when you kill certain targets you can extract their chips that are embedded in their bodies; these can be used to upgrade your powers. You have three powers to use in gunfights you have backfire which jams guns which I don’t use often, suicide which makes enemies pull out a grenade and explode it great for dealing with crowds and finally betrayal which makes the enemy fight alongside you. These powers are mostly situational as most combat scenarios can be solved with a quick bullet to the cranium.  

Visually the game looks fantastic, with some great effects when you’re walking through the neon lit streets at night with beautiful rain effects which show up on your screen. The only problem I have with the visuals is that the bloom effects can get a bit ridiculous in some areas where it almost blinds me, this was an issue during 2012 they over did bloom effects. The game does struggle to run at 30 frames per second which is its target frame rate, but it starts to drop in the more busy sections maybe it’s because I’m playing it on the PS3 as that system is known for bad multiplatform releases, or maybe the game is not optimised properly.

Syndicate is a game that tries to be Dues Ex, but is held back by linear gameplay and uninspired powers it’s not a bad game, but it is really uninspired and it is also really short, I managed to finish it in 4 hours. It’s cheap so if you really want to pick it up it’s not going to break the bank. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

DRIV3R (Driver 3) Review - It has its issues but has a fantastic story.

By Sam Coles:

The driver series has dropped off the radar in recent years with the last game in the series was released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 back in 2011. Driv3r (Driver 3) was an interesting game as it was the first game in the series to be released on the 6th generation of consoles, with improved visuals, new cities and interesting mechanics added. The game was panned when it was first released, but I have a soft spot for this game as it has cinematic flare with a well told story. Is it perfect? God no but it’s not unplayable as some people would have you believe.

Driver 3 takes place a few years after the second game and opens with an explosive shootout on the streets of Istanbul, as Tanner and his partner Jones are chasing down long-time nemesis Jericho. It turns out that this first scene is near the end and the game starts off in the humid and neon lit streets of Miami, where Tanner is uncovering a car smuggling ring based in South Beach where they are starting to branch out into Europe. It’s a great story with people like Michael Madison and Iggy Pop lending they’re voice talent, as well as Iggy Pop providing the soundtrack. It’s not the most ground breaking story, but it is beautifully executed and I have to say this game has the best cutscenes from that period as some scenes can get their point across with little dialogue, as it lets the music and environment do it in the dialogue’s place.

Driver 3 is an open world game in the same vein of Grand Theft Auto, but instead of one city Driver 3 has three cities you have Miami, Nice in France and Istanbul in Turkey. Each city is different and unique as you don’t really see cities like Nice and Istanbul rendered in video games and they have exquisite detail. You have several different modes you have the story mode titled Undercover, you have Take a Ride where you can mess around and do what you want in each city and you have challenge modes such as survival.

The gameplay is mostly driving like the previous games, but they have added on foot missions with shooting, however the controls when you’re on foot are not the best and the hit detection with the shooting is rather questionable.  The driving is the game’s strength, where the cars have real weight as you fling them around corners as you hear your tyres scream. Cars handle well for the most part, they don’t feel floaty compared to the Grand Theft Auto games of the time, as they have a realistic feel to them while at the same time it has a cinematic flare similar to films like Smoky and the Bandit with the jumps etc.

Visually the game is okay, the character models aren’t the best as you look very blocky during gameplay with very little detail on them. The environments look nice with each city with the sun blazing in the afternoon in Miami, to the sun setting on the tight streets of Istanbul. Car models look fantastic with great detail for each car, coupled with great damage models as you can see your car crumble under pressure when you have hit a wall head on.

Driver 3 is not the best game in the world, but it is propped up by its excellent story with great performances from Michael Madison, to the beautifully directed cutscenes. If you have a PS2 or original Xbox pick this game up, but don’t pick up the PC version as it is notorious for being extremely buggy and unstable.