TheDeerGodT
Sep 04
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The hunter becomes the hunted in this 2D pixel-art platformer. Transformed into a deer by the Elder Gods, six relics must be found in order to become human again.

Often mistaken for junk, these relics are handed out as rewards for completing the six pleasingly nonsensical quests at hand. If you’re thinking that six is a small number, you’re right. Like life itself, The Deer God is but a fleeting moment.

The first quest sets the pace and tone for what’s to come. After spending a brief period in deer form, you’re politely asked by a bleary-eyed old man to find his monocle within the bushes outside his wooden shack – a mission that also teaches the boost dash move. Another quest involves helping a priest spread the word of God. We thought this may take us on a globe-trotting voyage, but no – just two people are required to be informed of the lord’s greatest, both of which are stood outside the church. The other four quests don’t take a great deal of time (or brainpower) to beat either, save for a couple of instances of trial and error that could possibly be perceived as ‘out of the box’ thinking.

TheDeerGod2

There are no stages, levels or whatnot – the lay of the land “loops” with the quest givers, block pushing puzzles that bestow new skills and gateways to optional boss battles reappearing until you stop and beat them. Generally speaking, a “loop” takes around ten minutes to come back around, taking our intrepid deer across deserts, through jungles and even the arctic. It took us around an hour to get our head around how the level design works, such is its peculiar nature. You don’t backtrack – you rally forth, hoping that the NPC you need to turn a quest into, or the statue in which the relics are placed, will eventually appear.

incredibly endearing

Even the morality system (killing predators good; harmless animals bad) isn’t explained, let alone the requisite to eat berries and other foodstuffs. It is however debatable if explanations were ever needed. It certainly doesn’t help though that some of the block pushing puzzles can be messed up by shoving blocks into incorrect places, prompting you to start running again until the same puzzle loops back round. Moments of utter cluelessness are indeed frequent – at one point we were under the impression that we’d encountered a glitch, when the reality was that we had overlooked the final stage of a puzzle.

It may sound frustrating, but for most part it’s quite the opposite – The Deer God is incredibly endearing, if you’ll excuse the pun. The music is tranquil, the artwork well drawn – the sunsets are a notable highlight – and there is joy to be had by working things out for yourself. The same goes for experimenting with the power-ups, which include summonable hawks that swoop down on enemies.

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ThePhantomPain
Sep 03
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s the end of an era. Hideo Kojima bids farewell to the Metal Gear Solid series with the incredibly well-received The Phantom Pain. This is also likely to be one of Konami’s last big-budget games, save for the Pro Evolution series, with the publisher turning their attention to mobile and gambling devices.

What a way to bow out on – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain arrived to a dazzling array of 9/10 and 10/10 reviews, with many critics calling it the greatest stealth adventure ever made. We’re also pleased to see that the last-gen versions didn’t end up on the scrap heap – a la Dying Light, Max Mad and Mortal Kombat X – as those clinging to their Xbox 360s and PS3s haven’t had a great deal to play recently. If Ground Zeroes is to go by, it should hold up rather well on last-gen.

MadMax

Speaking of Mad Max, the open-world car combat game also hit store shelves on Tuesday. Reviews of ‘the sandiest sandbox of all-time’ have been good but not great, by which we mean plenty of 6s and 7s. And 6.5s. Most reviewers seem to agree that there’s fun to be had but the enjoyment doesn’t last.

Other retail releases out this week include Level-5’s 3DS action RPG Little Battlers Experience, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and the allegedly middling Adams Venture Chronicles in physical form, eggball sim Rugby World Cup 2015 and the strategic Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence on PS4 and PS3.

BrokenSword5

Tomorrow also sees the release of Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse both at retail and on the download services. Oddly, it appears to be cheaper in physical form – it’s currently £18.95 to pre-order on Amazon as opposed to £24.99 on PSN. Xbox One version price currently unknown.

The PS4 certainly isn’t short on new releases this week with month’s PS Plus offerings now available. There’s Ubisoft’s platforming adventure Grow Home, time-altering shooter Super Time Force Ultra – which we’ve always likened to one of Treasure’s 16-bit titles – and the pixel art Metroidvania-alike Xeodrifter. Those last two are also available on PS Vita.

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XboxOne-BackCompat-Poster-22x28-jpg
Sep 02
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Next time Microsoft reveals a lackluster assortment of Games with Gold titles, bite your tongue and spare a thought for Japanese Xbox owners.

MutantStorm

A far smaller catalogue of titles in Japan has lead to some very questionable choices for freebies, with Microsoft themselves having to provide content most months.

The free games on Xbox 360 are usually knocking on a bit, to put it politely. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing that Microsoft gave up on the Japanese market some time ago. Launch games Kameo, Perfect Dark Zero and Mutant Storm Empire acted as replacements for Dark Souls, Metro: Last Light and Mafia II respectively. And while the western world enjoyed Assassin’s Creed II for gratis, Japan had to settle for Full House Poker.

Puzzler Hexic 2 – a fine vintage from 2007 – was offered instead of Square-Enix’s Thief just a month ago.

Microsoft’s somewhat newer Jetpac Refuelled, Comic Jumper, Shadowrun, The Maw, Viva Piñata and Halo Wars have also been up for grabs over the past couple of years as alternatives for various third-party titles. At this rate it won’t be long until the platform holder has given away their entire Japanese Xbox 360 back catalogue for free.

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Blues3
Sep 01
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The studio behind Blues and Bullets shrewdly picked the perfect time to launch a new episodic adventure. The foregone conclusions of Game of Thrones and Tales from The Borderlands are almost upon us, while the end of Dontnod’s Life is Strange also draws near.

Blues and Bullets is packaged in a similar fashion to the aforementioned – five episodes priced at £3.99 a piece, with this first episode taking around 2 hours to finish. There’s even a screen after the credits showing the percentages for the various dialogue/moral choices other players made. We’re in familiar territory here, that’s for sure.

The visual style has an equally obvious influence – Frank Miller’s Sin City. This neo-noir adventure puts on a stylish show, using splashes of bright red to brighten the 1950s criminal underworld in which it takes place. Coupled with drizzling rain, exemplary fire effects and one surreal sequence involving the inner monologues of the former detective protagonist, it’s a very attractive game. The few rough edges present (stilted animation is the biggest offender) are easy to look past considering this first episode takes place in a surprisingly high number of locations.

Blues1

This opening episode is split into five chapters – the first three focus on character introduction and outlining the storyline, while the final two entail a murder and the consequences thereof. Set in Santa Esperanza, you play as Elliot Ness – a federal agent and former member of The Untouchables, the hand-picked team that famously managed to take down Al Capone. With his past behind him Ness now runs a diner known as Blues and Bullets. While serving a rather uncouth former colleague Elliot is approached by a mysterious figure seeking assistance with a sensitive matter. After embarking on a luxury Hindenburg airship, it so transpires that Al Capone is out of jail and requires Ness to take up detective work once again. Children are mysteriously vanishing, one of which is related to the crime lord.

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GoW
Sep 01
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

After several quiet weeks (Rare Replay was the last significant release) we finally have a UK chart worth reporting on, featuring five new arrivals in the top ten alone.

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition takes the top spot, followed by the very well-received PS4-exclusive Until Dawn at #2. Disney Infinity 3.0 enters at #3 while Madden NFL 16 makes its mark at #4.

At #5 we find last week’s chart topper – LEGO Jurassic World. At #6 it’s GTA V, while position #7 is filled by another new arrival – Dishonored: Definitive Edition. We’re surprised by this as the digital version has a huge discount for those who own it on PS3/360, both of which have been free recently.

Minecraft: PlayStation Edition, Batman: Arkham Knight and Minecraft: Xbox Edition round off the top ten.

To make way for the new releases Battlefield: Hardline, FIFA 15, Dying Light and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare all depart the top ten. The Elder Scrolls Online is on a downer too, dropping from #9 to #22.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 was the only other new entry, sailing in at #27. This means Wii U-exclusive Devil’s Third doesn’t get a look in. The shoddy hack ‘n’ slasher has to settle for a lowly #8 in the Wii U chart.

720-GDC-2015-Screenshot-_0003_Lava
Aug 31
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Nintendo loyalists shouldn’t feel envious about the slew of big-name titles that have hit PS4 and Xbox One recently – this week’s eShop line-up is chock full of decent downloads. Making for a pleasant change, the upcoming discounts aren’t too shabby either.

The Wii U is in line for six new arrivals this Thursday – three indie games and three Virtual Console releases – while the 3DS sees the release of Little Battlers eXperience (£34.99), which is also due out as retail release later this week. Developed by Level-5, this anime tie-in has gone down well with RPG fans. The Metacritic currently stands at 73% from 11 critics with no reviews below 7/10.

Those Wii U indie games, then. There’s the predictably colourful Runbow (£10.99), a nine-player party game featuring both online and couch-based play. Nintendo has given this one a fair bit of attention and it’s easy to see why – it’s very Nintendo-like in design. Review scores so far include a 9/10 from Nintendo Life who called it “easily one of the best games that has graced the Wii U”. High praise indeed.

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Goat Simulator: Mmore Goatz Edition
Aug 27
By Jake In This Week's Games No Comments

What better use of the current generation than to tart up past hits? Probably several, but don’t tell this week’s new releases.

Gears of War gets an Ultimate Edition (Xbox One), while for Dishonored it’s a Definitive Edition (Xbox One, PS4). Critics are pretty stoked with the former, but thin on the ground on the latter.

Mega Man Legacy Collection

That’s not all the remasters, special editions, repackagings and collections. Mega Man Legacy Collection (PS4, Xbox One) Helldivers Super-Earth Ultimate Edition and Watch_Dogs: Complete Edition (both Xbox One). On the more imaginative side it’s a Giant Edition for Don’t Starve, and Goat Simulator has the Mmore Goatz Edition (also both Xbox One). I’m going to stop looking for more, because the word ‘Edition’ is starting to lose all meaning.

So how about some sequels? Madden NFL 16 is a big one, and this year’s would seem to be up to scratch. Touchdown! Disney Infinity 3.0 is out, with Star Wars and all sorts, wisely pre-empting the new Skylanders thing.

Devil’s Third for Wii U isn’t a sequel, but as Matt suspected, it seems that it’s not very good at all. Sony’s PS4 “interactive horror” Until Dawn seems to be rather better.

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RTH_BikeCustom_05
Aug 26
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

Bad games. We’ve seen plenty since this site started in 2001, but in this day and age of big budgets and high expectations they’ve started to become few and far between. Godzilla on PS4 was the most recent, and it’s fair to say that many were surprised by how awful it was. We’ve come to expect competency.

Every few years though we see the release of something that sets tongues waggling, and not for the best of reasons. Games so dated and unfinished that it’s almost a miracle they managed to end up in consumer’s hands.

Inspired by the negativity surrounding Devil’s Third – which is finally released this week after a seven year development cycle – we’ve rounded up five games that managed to escape development limbo.

Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever

Credit goes to Gearbox and Piranha Bytes – they managed to take something that was stuck in gaming purgatory since 1997 and turn it into an experience that was merely mediocre. Not terrible, but certainly dated. But it wasn’t just the action that felt like something from the past – many found the Duke himself a man out of time. His corny one-liners and uber-macho visage may have seemed cool in the ‘90s, but today’s gaming icons are rarely as shallow.

Boss battles, gun turret sequences, first-person platform jumping elements and a multi-player mode entitled ‘Capture the Babe’ – there’s no debating that Duke Nukem Forever was a relic from days gone by. Yet, it was playable – using the True Achievements website as a source, roughly half the people who purchased a copy finished the single-player mode.

Haven’t played it for yourself? It can usually be found for around £2-£3 these days, and it’s well worth a purchase just for the extras – there’s a timeline video showing the game in various states of development, plus trailers from iterations that were cancelled. The credit roll raises a grin too. After scrolling for what seems an eternity, Gearbox basically put their hands up and say “It’s impossible to name everybody who worked on DNF – big shout out to all the people who did”.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens Colonial Marines

Here we have Gearbox’s very own Duke Nukem Forever. After several delays and five years in development, the world was presented with something that looked incredibly different to the glitzy pre-release screenshots and even E3 gameplay footage from a year prior. Blurry textures, shoddy animation, lifeless explosions and poor lighting effects – Aliens: Colonial Marines was released in 2013 but was firmly stuck in 2008. This lead to a lawsuit against SEGA on the grounds of false advertising.

There are a few conspiracies regarding development, most of which entail Colonial Marines being placed on the backburner while Gearbox focused on Borderlands – their own IP. The rumour that holds the most water is that Gearbox simply took SEGA’s money and then paid TimeGate Studios (developers of the F.E.A.R expansion packs and first-person flop Section 8) to create the single-player mode without SEGA knowing. TimeGate then went bust, forcing Gearbox to pick up the pieces and carry on their work. This is why the “finished” version was more than a slight mess – the sight of AI teammates magically teleporting to the player’s location if they fell too far behind frankly ruined all chances of creating a tense atmosphere.

We’ve seen numerous sealed copies of Aliens: Colonial Marines in charity shops and at car boot sales over the past couple of years. It has become so notoriously rubbish that people can’t even muster up the enthusiasm to remove it from the cellophane.

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