AlienIsoT
Oct 31
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Auto-saving has made gaming considerably easier over the years. No longer do we have to remember to save progress every few minutes; if we die we simply go back to near where we left off, making the consequences of failure minimal at the most. That’s not the case in Alien: Isolation. This deep space survival horror uses save stations that in some instances – at the start of the game, in particular – can be far apart.

This isn’t down to lazy or bad design though. It’s actually the opposite – when the stakes are high you’re more determined not to die, thus making the experience all the more tense. Our most chilling moment came when the Alien was stood right in front of a save station. With a good 15 to 20 minutes of play at stake we hid under a desk with baited breath and sweaty palms, hoping that it would give up trying to discover our location. It wasn’t until it climbed back up into an air duct – its usual lurking place – that we breathed a deep sigh of relief, and finally reduced grip on the joypad.

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Especially in areas where enemies are numerous, failure comes at a high price. This does mean that Alien: Isolation isn’t going to appease the typical first-person shooter crowd. Amanda Ripley – the pain-stricken daughter of Ellen Ripley – has new weapons added to the inventory frequently, but resorting to violence and bloodshed isn’t always the answer. Amanda’s battle with the Alien is one of wits and wagers, and also one where a smoke grenade rather than a shotgun can save your life. That said, the high amount of ammo on hand does prevent this being an altogether scarier experience than ZombiU.

There’s always enough scrap around to construct medkits and other ordnances too. Having a full supply of medkits doesn’t guarantee survival though. The Alien kills with one hit, and cannot be outrun. You can try, sure, but the noise of running away usually results in the Alien’s spiked tail swiftly puncturing your chest. Thankfully an invaluable motion tracker is found early on, and remains useful throughout, while noises of the Alien rattling around in the air-vents above is an incredibly effective way to tell if danger is nearby.

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SunsetOD
Oct 29
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

There’s yet another strong showing of new titles out this Friday. Some acquired tastes are required for this assortment though.

Xbox One-exclusive Sunset Overdrive blends elements from Jet Set Radio, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Dead Rising to form a vividly colourful shooter. We were worried about the thrills it provides being short-lived, but critics have put those qualms to rest.

Currently it stands with a Metacritic of 82%, including a 5/5 from JoyStiq and 9/10s from Polygon, IGN and EGM.

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Scores from UK sites have been slightly more reserved however including 6/10 from VideoGamer and 7/10 from The Metro. As Alien Isolation suggested, UK critics tend to prefer brain over brawn while it’s the opposite that usually appeases US critics. Not wanting to tar everybody with the same brush here, you understand.

Critics were in general agreement of Lords of the Fallen being a decent enough hack and slasher. It arrived to a sea of 7/10s earlier this week, with many referring to it as a casual and thus more accessible clone of Dark Souls.

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“It has derivative elements, undoubtedly, but they’re clearly meant as homage and built upon rather than outright aped. It’s not a showy, flashy, trailer-friendly game…, and it’s not going to set the universe aflame with its functional, stock storyline – but it is immensely compelling all the same,” said God is a Geek.

We’re currently waiting on WWE 2K15 reviews. We’d wager this has something to do with the PS4 and Xbox One versions not being released until 21st November. WWE 2K14 – the first from 2K Games after taking the reins from THQ – had a decent foundation to build on but while we may not see the series at its full potential on last-gen systems, the upcoming PS4/Xbox One versions could very well be the best the franchise has seen in a very long time.

Sticking with sports, NBA Live 15 dribbles onto PS4 and Xbox One. Apparently it’s a improvement over the dismal NBA Live 14. We wouldn’t get too excited though as IGN reports shortcomings are still numerous. Why EA can’t get basketball right is beyond us.

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frontier-defense-2-v3
Oct 29
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Thinking of trading-in Titanfall towards one of the big name new releases? Hold your fire – Update 8 has just dropped. Instead of simply adding a few more Titan insignias and whatnot, it includes a very good reason to dust off your copy – a highly substantial four player co-op mode.

Frontier Defense sees yourself and three others fighting off waves of AI controlled enemies. Waves start off easy, with just a few grunt soldiers and robotic Spectres to fight off, but quickly escalate to the point where there can be a good half-a-dozen enemy Titans swarming towards the Harvester that requires protecting. Some Titans come packing nuclear threats while others can mortar bomb the Harvester from afar. As such, huddling around the Harvester doesn’t guarantee success – the team needs to spread out while working together to take the Titans down.

Resulting in cheap deaths, the new ‘Suicide Spectres’ can be a pain, but setting off a chain reaction by killing a batch in close proximity can be rather satisfying too.

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Dotted around the maps are ammo refill chests which is where loadouts can be changed in an instant. This, coupled with the ability to place gun turrets, gives Frontier Defence a slight tactical slant. The ever helpful battle narrator will sometimes comment on the proficient positioning of your turret – a nice little touch. We also approve of the ability to rain fire from the side of the dropship during respawn periods, all while getting a good view of the raging battlefield below.

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StealthInc
Oct 27
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Hot on the heels of Bayonetta 2 comes another Wii U essential – Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones. Curve Digital’s anticipated co-op stealth puzzler launches on the eShop this Thursday, along with half-a-dozen other releases.

When Curve announced that they were defecting to the Wii U for Stealth Inc’s sequel it caused something of a stir. A Clone in the Dark, the equally pun-tastic original, went down incredibly well on PS3 and PS Vita when it was released last year and so PlayStation owners were understandably miffed.

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The only review of Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones we have to go by at the moment is a glowing 90%-er from the late Official Nintendo Magazine. If the early previews are to go by we can expect similar scores to be thrown in Curve Digital’s direction.

“It’s tough to balance clever, accessible and hard as diamond nails, but Stealth Inc. 2 does it – with a fantastic genre twist and buckets of charm to boot” said ex-ONM scribe Joe Skrebels.

Neko’s easy to pick up puzzler Tetrobot & Co. (£7.49) is worth considering as well. Nintendo World Report are the only place to review the twee 2D adventure it so far – giving it an 8/10 – but with a Metacritic of 72% for the PC iteration it’s safe to say this’ll be worthy of your time.

Cosmophony

Then we have Cosmophony (£3.59), which too is a conversion. This psychedelic shooter was first released on mobiles and features a drum and bass soundtrack from DJ Salaryman. Think along the lines of Frequency and Amplitude and you should get the gist. Consider us intrigued.

Joining the above are downloads of two retail releases – lukewarm underwater racer Jett Tailfin (£17.99) from Funbox Media and the X-COM alike Falling Skies: The Game (£34.99) from Little Orbit.

As for Virtual Console releases, there’s the late SNES platformer Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble (£5.49) and Shigeru Miyamoto’s often overlooked NES maze game Devil World (£3.49) on Wii U. 3DS owners meanwhile get Donkey Kong Land III (£3.59) and Capcom’s Gargoyle’s Quest II: The Demon Darkness (£4.39). Judging by eBay prices alone, the latter is very hard to find in physical form nowadays.

Curiously, all three SNES Donkey Kong Country games are being re-released on Wii this week for 800 Wii Points a throw. If memory serves 1000 Wii Points was equal to £10, thus making them around £8 each. That can’t be right.

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Bayonetta22
Oct 27
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Entering at a very respectable #7, Bayonetta 2 charted the highest out of last week’s bumper bounty of new releases. The fact that Nintendo Land is back in the top 40 suggests that the Wii U-exclusive managed to shift a few more consoles for Nintendo. Mario Kart 8 however stayed put at #30.

Civilization: Beyond Earth made #18, Just Dance 2015 entered at #19 – with the Wii version proving the most popular – and then at #32 Singstar: Ultimate Party showed its face. It’s worth pointing out though that a free downloadable version of Singstar is available on PSN.

First-person shooter Shadow Warrior failed to make the top 40, as did the Xbox-exclusive Fantasia: Music Evolved. Fantasia’s no-show prompted us to double-check the release date. It appears that it was indeed released on Friday but very few retailers are stocking it. It doesn’t even appear in the Xbox 360 top 40, alarmingly.

Back to the top 40 – it’s FIFA 15 that’s no.1, making it five weeks in a row. At #2 all the way up from #9 it’s Minecraft: PlayStation Edition which is followed by The Evil Within, Destiny and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor to form the UK’s top five.

Over in the individual format charts Samurai Warriors 4 entered at #14 in the PS4 chart while Disney Magical World arrived at a not-so-magical #13 in the 3DS chart.

GTASA
Oct 26
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

The Xbox 360 revamp of GTA: San Andreas managed to escape the grasp of our weekly new release round-up. There’s an acceptable reason for this though – it has been rumoured, officially announced and launched all within the space of a week.

Released in the nick of time for the crime caper’s 10th anniversary – ten years to this very day, in fact – it’s available now via the Xbox 360’s ‘Games on Demand’ service.

A resolution bump to 720p, enhanced draw distance and achievement support (33 achievements worth a total of 1000G) are all part of the package. However, sale files from the delisted ‘Xbox Originals’ version cannot be carried over.

Arguably, it’s the price that’s the biggest surprise – a mere £2.99. Rockstar could have easily charged double that amount, so you should probably buy them a pint sometime.

regbc-610
Oct 26
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

When Capcom announced Resident Evil: Gaiden for the Game Boy Color it came as a surprise to many. Not because the source material was undecidedly unsuitable for the demographic, but because Capcom had cancelled a handheld conversion of Resident Evil just a year before.

REGBC3

Developed by London-based HotGen Studios, it pushed Nintendo’s 8-bit handheld hard to include all scenes and locations from the PSone original. The general reaction from the gaming press was that it was an impressive effort.

Originally due for release in time for Christmas 1999, it was quietly hit by a delay following a no-show. Crawfish’s equally ambitious Game Boy Color conversion of Street Fighter Alpha also failed to make an appearance during the festive period, which too was being developed in the UK.

The English to Japanese language communication barrier was cited as the reason to push both games into 2000, but whereas Street Fighter Alpha did finally make it to store shelves Resident Evil was canned before revised February/March 2000 release.

The Japanese publisher simply claimed that they were “not confident that the product would have made both consumers and Capcom happy”.

Before the game’s cancellation IGNPocket interviewed HotGen, and it was here it came apparent that development was far from smooth.

“All of the characters and enemies in Resident Evil Game Boy are software scaled, so given the limited amount of CPU bandwidth the Game Boy has available, it is very difficult to have extremely large enemies, and [even more difficult for] lots of enemies on screen at the same time. The speech was also a problem because the Game Boy is not suited to large amounts of speech, especially when it is critical to the game. The problem has been addressed by using a text window that appears at the bottom of the play area.”

“That said, we have still managed to keep all the locations and puzzle elements totally authentic, and all the locations use the same viewpoint and are identical to the PlayStation version.”

All signs suggest that HotGen had bitten off more than they could chew. Another reason for cancellation mentioned at the time was that when played on a handheld it was a nowhere near as scary experience. Although some sacrifices were made with the CGI and live action clips in order to fit the game onto a 4MB cart, it did still include the infamous door opening sequences that were not just to disguise loading times in the original but also used to induce tension.

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When the conversion was first announced it was reported that HotGen planned to include new enemy types, the ability to disarm traps and a new save system designed for on-the-go play.

Judging by the two prototypes released in 2012 following an online fundraiser though, only the improved save system was incorporated. Screenshots from an IGN preview did feature a red zombie not found in either prototype, but this could have been a mere ‘work in progress’ of the common place green-hued zombies.

Something curiously sinister in the prototype version is that the zombies don’t fall to the ground when killed. Instead they simply drop to their knees, remaining upright. It’s highly plausible that this was due to the Game Boy Color’s constraints – having to render and draw different 2D sprites for each of the static camera angles used may have been an issue, and one that also restricted character movement. It could however have simply been the case that the animation was unfinished.

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WiiU_Bayonetta2_06_mediaplayer_large
Oct 23
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

From first-party exclusives such as Forza Horizon 2 and DriveClub to third-party titles including Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within, Xbox One and PS4 owners have had a lot to get excited about recently. Now it’s time for Wii U owners to rejoice – Bayonetta 2 is finally here.

The first review out of the door couldn’t have been any more encouraging – a 10/10 from EDGE. Since then it has also received top marks from The Guardian, GiantBomb, God is a Geek, GameSpot, Destructoid and a handful of other well-known gaming sites. 9/10s from gamesTM, The Metro and VideoGamer aren’t to be sniffed at either.

Bayonetta2

“The worst thing you can say about Bayonetta 2 is that it’s still not much of an improvement over its predecessor, but even that supposed criticism still confirms it as one of the best action games of all-time. Creating Bayonetta 2 may not make much business sense but unlike most sequels today this isn’t a game made for the love of money, but for the love of gaming itself,” said The Metro’s GameCentral.

As Wii U owners are no doubt already aware, the original Bayonetta is also being released on Wii U this week as either an eShop download or part of the Bayonetta 2 Special Edition. Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry reports that it holds up incredibly well: “While it’s not dramatically superior to the original Xbox 360 version, we’d have to give it the nod as the definitive version of the game.”

The Bayonetta double-whammy is currently still in stock at Amazon, priced at a very reasonable £39.85 as opposed to the £31.85 asking price for the standalone version. If you have some GAME reward points to spend, the standard version can also be had for £32.99 from GAME as either a download code or physical copy.

There’s another game from Platinum out this week, but whereas Bayonetta 2 is dazzling the critics with its glorious visuals and masterful combat, downloadable cartoon tie-in The Legend of Korra has left many feeling disappointed.

LegendofKorra

IGN’s review in particular paints a very bleak picture: “I have no idea who The Legend of Korra: The Game is for. It’s definitely not for young fans of Korra, as the combat is too unforgiving, the boss battles too tedious, the economy ridiculously punishing, and the story too weak and lacking any of the show’s charm. It’s not for older people who enjoy a good action game, because next to contemporaries like Batman: Arkham City, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and even Platinum’s own Bayonetta 2, Korra looks terrible with its simple two-button combos and poor combat scenario design. I can’t recommend it to anyone.”

GameSpot wasn’t impressed either, giving it a miserable 3/10: “Korra looks the part on the most superficial level, but possesses not one ounce of the flair and depth that characterize the television series.”

NFSComplete

We can only speculate as to what went wrong. With Platinum no doubt busy finishing Bayonetta 2 off, we presume a lack of both time and resources is to blame. Getting two games ready to ship in the same week must be no easy task.

In addition to The Legend of Korra there are a couple of other new arrivals on the download services. Need for Speed Rivals: Complete Edition makes a surprise pitstop on both PS4 and Xbox One while Saints Row IV Game of the Century Edition makes its way to PS3 via PSN for £19.99. Nothing like blowing your own trumpet, eh?

Curiously, two Disney games are out this Friday as well – Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved on Xbox One/Xbox 360 and Disney Magical World on 3DS.

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved comes from the home of Dance Central – one of the few games worth buying a Kinect for. This too is Kinect only, which does worry us about how well it’s going to sell. Reviews suggest that it deserves to do well though, with critics finding much to enjoy. “Fantasia’s diverse music selection, beautiful realms, and blended co-op mode, combine to create a great new experience” said IGN, who conjured up an 8.6.

Joystiq on the other hand gave it 4/5: “If you have an Xbox One and a Kinect, you should have Fantasia: Music Evolved in your library, not only because it’s the thing that shows off how well your Kinect can work, but also because it’s an immediately accessible and fun party game.”

Fantasia

A demo is available now for both Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Dust off your Kinect – you may be surprised.

With some favourable comparisons to Animal Crossing, Disney Magical World has also been getting good reviews. “If you’re beginning to get burnt out on Animal Crossing and you’re seeking something similar that also manages to feel fresh, Magical World is the perfect way to start a new life once again” said Nintendo Life who gave it a glowing 8/10. Pocket Gamer meanwhile gave it a 7/10: “For more seasoned gamers, Disney Magical World might be a pleasant surprise. For kids, it could feel genuinely magical.”

Also out on 3DS this week – Power Rangers Super Mega Force. It’s yet to be reviewed, but I think we all know how this one is going to turn out.

Another currently review shy is Invizimals: The Resistance on PS Vita. Invizimals: The Alliance was only released in March, so we assume this will offer a similar good-but-not-quite-great experience.

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