Feb 22
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Hope you’re feeling peckish, as this week’s eShop line-up presents a colossal platter. Why the food theme? Because the delightfully daft Ace of Seafood (£6.69) has made the jump from PS4 to Switch.

Form a school of fish, scavenge the oceans, and take down all manner of aquatic lifeforms…using lasers and other far-flung weapons. The PS4 version was panned for poor controls, which we’d like to think the developers have since tightened.

Then we have PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 PLUS (£16.99) – a slightly tenuous link, we know – which features a new co-op mode. Reviews went live today, including an 8/10 from The Metro and 9/10 from Nintendo Life. “For 20 bucks, this one is a no-brainer,” they said.

Co-op crime caper PayDay 2 (£44.99) is perhaps the biggest Switch release of the week. The lack of reviews is hugely concerning – as a game with online co-op play at its core, a shoddy online structure could kill this one instantly. After the WWE 2K18 and RIME fiascos, we suggest waiting for reviews to surface.

Let’s hope that Starbreeze has managed to capture lightning in a bottle – if they’ve pulled out all the stops, they could have another Switch mega-hit on their hands.

Layers of Fear: Legacy (£17.99) is one to bone up on, too – even on Xbox One it had a shockingly poor frame-rate. We didn’t think much of the core concept either; a walking simulator set inside an eerie house, there’s very little challenge and little in the way to test your brainpower. Despite our thoughts, reviews of this new Switch version certainly aren’t poor, including an 8/10 from Cubed3. Just don’t expect something similar to Resident Evil.

Space Dave! (£7.19) has also gained a reasonable amount of attention, being the follow-up to the wonderful Woah Dave! – a single-screen platformer, similar to Bubble Bobble, et al. This successor goes down the space shooter path. “Even if it isn’t everything it could be, Space Dave! is still a damn fun shooter and the exact type of game I want to pick up when I only have a few free minutes of downtime available,” said Destructoid, before handing out a 7.5.

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Feb 22
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s doubtful Metal Gear fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Metal Gear: Survive. The first Metal Gear to be released without Hideo Kojima at the helm, it was instantly labelled a cynical attempt to jump on the zombie shooter bandwagon using the prestigious Metal Gear name as a selling point.

But here’s the thing – first impressions aren’t entirely awful. It may end up being a ‘good’ (if not great) survival game. There’s no shaking the brazen way Konami has attached the Metal Gear name to it though, and for that reason alone it’s bound to be forever frowned upon. In an ideal world, Konami would have distanced it further from the franchise, a la Resident Evil and Umbrella Corps.

The first review went live today – a lukewarm 3/5 from Cheat Code Central. “Metal Gear Survive feels like a prototype, an idea on paper that was quickly turned into a game and strapped to a retail rocket without proper consideration of what the Metal Gear name means to people,” they said. However, Forbes warned of any pre-launch reviews as servers went live just a few hours ago. “Take anything that comes out this week with a grain of salt,” they advised.

A few of this week’s other big-name retail releases are currently review shy, including Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet – which makes an unlikely Xbox One appearance – and the Switch version of PayDay 2. It’s a similar case of the psychological thriller Past Cure, which has received very little pre-launch coverage whatsoever.

We can at least vouch for run ‘n gun platformer Rad Rodgers, which garnered 7/10 from ourselves. We compared it to Earthworm Jim, due to Rad’s foul-mouthed sentient console tagging along as a backpack buddy, able to wallop foes and help Rad reach new heights.

It loses the ‘World One’ subtitle from the 2016 PC version but gains new bonus stages and two new levels. World Two is still in the pipeline, so don’t be fooled into thinking this is a full package – what we have here is the first part of an ongoing adventure. It’s available both digitally and physically at a not-too-shabby £15.99.

Xenon Valkyrie+ offers similar shooter fare. “This is an enjoyable, rewarding game that will satisfy those looking for a slightly stricter rogue-lite,” reported PlayStation Country, before handing out a solid 7/10.

Review scores for deep space adventure The Station haven’t been quite as high, mostly due to the fleeting two-hour playtime, while the slick puzzle adventure Apex Construct looks like another worthwhile purchase for PSVR owners. We’ve rounded-up reviews for both below.

New release showcase:

Rad Rodgers – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
Gold award – Thumb Culture: “Rad Rogers published by THQ Nordic, is a new take on an old classic. The side scrolling platformer!”

8/10 – Square XO: “Rad Rodgers is a decent 2.5D platformer which brings together various aspects of all the old 2D platformers we love and slapped on a modern look. The writing is funny, the story is entertaining and the references thrown in here are sure to make everyone who gets them smile”

7.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “It’s genuinely difficult to not be charmed by the foul-mouthed shenanigans of Rad Rodgers. The game somehow manages to morph extremely dated design ideals into a form that is palatable to the modern console crowd”

Apex Construct – PSVR

Reviews:
10/10 – VRFocus: “Apex Construct is the standard by which future VR titles will be judged, and an indicator that VR has stepped up its game”

8/10 – PSU: “Though not without its faults, Apex Construct offers up an attractive, cleverly constructed and well crafted marriage of action and puzzle solving elements that demands your attention”

7.5 – Upload VR: “It’s a rare chance to jump into an expansive journey and become a part of an engrossing world, warts and all. It proves that VR developers can now deliver the adventures we dreamed of having when we first picked up our headsets”

The Station

Reviews:
3/5 – The Xbox Hub: “The Station is an enjoyable experience, with a pleasing balance of exploration and puzzle solving. Sadly, it isn’t what you’d call a long game, as after finishing it first time round, my game time was just about two hours in length […]”

6/10 – The Xbox Tavern: “The Station looks great, plays well, and builds suspense through its well designed atmosphere. I was quite disappointed with its short length, and whether or not this will be built upon in due course remains to be seen. This is an easy ride for completionists, but will certainly leave those that enjoy a meaty sci-fi serving, wanting for more, much more”

6/10 – VideoGamer: “The Station is delivered with polish and flair, but the trouble is that what you receive doesn’t feel very new, and I’d love to see this studio throw out something a bit weirder”

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Feb 19
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

This week’s UK chart benefitted from ‘the half-term effect’ (to quote Chart-Track), with 28 titles in the top 40 seeing a sales increase.

It was FIFA 18 that came out on top, thanks to the Switch version receiving a cut-price. Sales were up a resounding 494% on Nintendo’s system, outperforming launch week.

While it did manage to outsell the Xbox One version, which is no easy feat, the PS4 version was still the biggest selling last week.

Realstic role-player Kingdom Come: Deliverance – which currently has a 67% Metacritic – was the highest charting new entry, taking second place.

GTA V rose to #3, with sales up 113%, while Monster Hunter World saw a slight dip in sales yet still managed to hold onto #4.

Things get interesting again at #5. This is where the Switch version of Bayonetta 2 debuts, two positions higher than 2014’s Wii U iteration. However, the Wii U version had stronger first week sales, by some 25%.

Did hardcore Bayonetta fans refuse to repurchase the seductive hack ‘n and slasher? Perhaps, but it’s more likely that the digital eShop release bridged the gap in figures.

EA Sports UFC 3 fell to #6, Shadow of the Colossus – last week’s chart-topper – plummeted to #7, Call of Duty: WWII and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe both dropped two places to take #8 and #9, and then at #10 it’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

The disappointing Dynasty Warriors 9 made its mark at #13, while Square-Enix’s Secret of Mana remake took #24. Monster Energy Supercross arrived at #25, despite it failing to surface in any single-format chart.

As for last week’s remaining releases, the retail release of Overcooked made #15 in the Switch chart while Atlus’ JRPG Radiant Historia debuted at #8 in the 3DS chart, becoming one of just two third-party titles in the 3DS top twenty.

Feb 19
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

On paper, this ‘90s platformer tribute sounds like a bum deal. The Kickstarter funded PC version – released in December 2016 – was subtitled ‘World One’ due to merely being the first part of an ongoing series. The new PS4/XO versions lose this subtitle, but as before, Rad’s adventure both begins and ends in the first world – a magical forest realm. While this may sound like a swizz (imagine if the first Sonic the Hedgehog was set entirely in Green Hill Zone), all the stops have been pulled to ensure nobody feels short-changed, despite it not quite feeling like a self-contained adventure.

The plot sees typical ‘90s youth Rad Rodgers and Dusty, his foul-mouthed sentient game console, (a sanitised ‘kid’s mode’ is an option, incidentally) sucked into a video game world. Fully aware of their virtual surroundings, fourth-wall breaking jokes and film/gaming references are rife, in addition to some vulgarity from Dusty (voiced by Jon St. John). The duo work as a team, with Dusty’s mechanical arms used to traverse monkey bars, as well as wallop enemies with an almighty clout, while Rad mows down foes with a rapid-fire machine gun.

The PC version was likened to a mixture of Jazz Jackrabbit and Commander Keen, but in our eyes, Earthworm Jim is a better comparison due to the backpack buddy system and a mix of run ‘n gunning and traditional platforming.

Those fond of mopping up collectables and hunting down enemies will be in their element

We had concerns before diving in, worried about a poor sense of progression and a fleeting runtime – hence the opening paragraph – but it soon becomes apparent that Rad Rodgers has been put together by a dedicated and experienced team. It’s no slapdash effort, leaps and bounds over the likes of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams and Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back. Visually, it’s on par with these two though. Colourful, but due to the constantly zooming camera some texture work occasionally becomes lost or grainy.

The levels are huge – some taking as long as 30 minutes to beat – and they’re packed with secrets galore. All eight levels (two more than the PC original, prior to an incoming update) are remarkably different from one another too, commencing in a bright and colourful woodland glen before leading into dank swamps, a horizontally scrolling waterfall stage, and a few labyrinth-like caverns. Each level involves tracking down four ‘Exit Chunks’ and the occasional door key or two, some of which can be easily missed because of branching paths and non-linear layouts.

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Feb 16
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

Thanks to featuring some delightfully playful tech, first impressions of this physics-based puzzler are incredibly positive. You’re presented with a sandbox filled entirely with squidgy clay, which can be manipulated by carving into objects, adding new blocks, and deforming surroundings to create slopes and other means of reaching mission objectives.

It’s the small touches that really impress. While under your control, objects (balls, mostly) become grubbier over time, smeared with the traces of whatever surface they’re currently bounding over. Bring the camera in close and you may spot the occasional fingerprint too. To top it all off, many puzzles are centred around a handy rewind feature, which leaves copies – or stamps, as they’re known – of objects left behind in order to fill in gaps and repair structures.

After spending around half an hour creating makeshift staircases out of blocks, carving ravines and gullies for mysterious blue goo to flow into, and reaching waypoints high off the ground – all in the name of clearing objectives off a list – it soon emerges that developer Second Order, a studio formed of just three people, hasn’t put this delightful tech to the best possible use.

That’s to say, what’s on offer here (Claybook is still in early access) doesn’t come remotely close to meeting its potential, feeling like a small slice of something bigger that’s still to come. To call it an elaborate tech demo would be unfair, however – the structure of a typical puzzle game is in place, including a three-star rating system, and each mission is set in its own clay world with different structures and obstacles, with the final stage taking place in a colourful Mexican town.

To elaborate, 17 missions feature in total. Book One is formed of ten missions, including the tutorial and a simplistic time-trial race, while Book Two has seven tougher missions set in a candy realm, two of which are endless races. All missions are ranked against time taken, and in a few instances, the end goals are tricky to reach, making you think carefully about the order in which to tackle things.

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Feb 15
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

As time goes by, reasons to own/buy a Wii U become fewer. This week it’s the turn of former system exclusive Bayonetta 2 to make the jump from Wii U to Switch, gaining access to a far larger audience in the process.

To sweeten the deal, the original Bayonetta is included. It comes as a download code with the physical release or can be purchased from the eShop for £24.99. Alternatively, those who purchase Bayonetta 2 digitally for £39.99 can grab the original for £10. £49.99 for both, in fewer words.

Nintendo Life awarded Bayonetta 2 a lofty 9/10. “Despite being a three-plus-year-old port, Bayonetta 2 shines brightest on Nintendo Switch. It runs without a hitch at 60fps, looks incredible in both TV and tabletop modes and offers an addictive free-flowing combat formula that sprinkles in platforming, light exploration and a ridiculous story to create something that you simply need to experience,” was their verdict.

The original walked away with an 8/10, incidentally.

Other games hitting both stores shelves and the eShop include NIS America’s top-down 2D RPG The Longest Five Minutes (£39.99) and Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame (£49.99). The PS4/XO versions of Monster Energy Supercross reviewed well, but the absence of reviews of the Switch version is a tad concerning.

On 3DS meanwhile there’s the time-travelling JRPG Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (£34.99), published by Deep Silver.

Fe (£17.99) – an EA Originals title, set in a magical forest – launches tomorrow, but it looks like the review embargo doesn’t lift until launch day. That isn’t usually a good sign. Developer Zoink are a more than capable studio, though, and the game itself looks rather intriguing. We’ll reserve judgement for now.

The Fall Part 2 Unbound (£12.79) is another new multi-format release, being a bleak sci-fi adventure with point ‘n click elements. The original hit the Wii U back in 2015, making this sequel a long time coming.

Then we have AQUA KITTY UDX (£6.49), a pixel art horizontal shooter than rather brazenly borrows from Defender (plus a few other arcade classics). While we’ve never reviewed it, we did spend a very pleasurable afternoon with the Xbox One version not long ago. It gets our recommendation.

The same goes for Owlboy (£18.99), an incredibly refined platformer that boasts of rich artwork. The majority of reviews clock in at 9/10. “This is still one of the most emotionally rich video games of recent years, as well as one of the best examples of pixel art to ever take roost on consoles,” said The Metro.

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Feb 14
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

On first glance, this week’s new release line-up looks quite promising. When it comes to the critical opinions of two of the big hitters though, it seems that false promises were all they ever offered.

To elaborate, both Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Dynasty Warriors 9 have arrived to a tepid reception. A few reviewers were left mildly impressed, but literally just a few – most review scores are mediocre at best.

Dynasty Warriors 9 is a long-awaited franchise reboot, giving the hack ‘n slasher the open-world treatment. Jim Sterling’s video review paints a very grim picture – a huge, sprawling, open-world filled with nothing to do but painstakingly ride through dull countryside from one battle to the next. Fights are over too quickly due to the revised combat being too simplistic for its own good. On top of all this, the new grappling hook accessory makes storming castles – a joy in previous games – a breeze. Jump the wall, kill a warlord, then ride your horse for another five minutes before repeating the process. Oh dear.

The ambitious RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance is too ambitious for its own good, meanwhile. It sounds like it suffers from the fate as Risen, Sacred, Two Worlds and other undernourished Euro RPGs, suffering from bugs, glitches, performance issues and a general lack of polish and expertise. Maybe after a few patches it’ll be in a better shape. [Update] A few more reviews have rolled out since, including top marks (10/10) from Xbox Tavern. It has definitely divided critics, that’s for sure.

Another, very different, RPG launches this week – Square-Enix’s remake of Secret of Mana on PS4 and (surprise!) PS Vita. The 3DS isn’t without a slice of role-playing pie either, thanks to Deep Silver’s Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology.

Then on Switch there’s The Longest Five Minutes. Also: the ravishing Bayonetta 1 and 2 double pack, which has arrived to rave reviews. A 90% Metacritic is nothing to sniff at.

Ubisoft dusts off two older releases, too – a retail release of South Park: The Stick of Truth, which for some reason is twenty-five ruddy quid, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege Advanced Edition.

Looking towards Friday, we have Fe – an EA Originals from Zoink, creators of Stick it to the Man and the upcoming Flipping Death. Set in a purple-hued forest, it’s intended to remind us that everything living is in some way connected.

That’s set to be joined by Claybook on Xbox One, a physics puzzler set in a world made of super squidgy clay. It’s bright, colourful and backed by some fascinating tech – zoom in close and it’s even possible to make out fingerprints on the clay models. We’ll have more on it soon.

New release showcase:

Dynasty Warriors 9 – PS4/XO

Reviews:
No Score – Eurogamer: “The musou genre needed new ideas – but reinventing it as a shoddy open-world game wasn’t the answer”

6/10 – VideoGamer: “Dynasty Warriors 9 still has the ‘levelling hundreds of dudes without breaking a sweat’ core loop so you feel like a badass, but the open world removes some of the depth. Fans can still enjoy, but it won’t win any new hearts this time”

4.5/10 – Xbox Tavern: “Dynasty Warriors 9 is a platter full of mess. Take your pick; delayed rendering, lack of rendering, jittery camera, framerate drops, poor animation, dated visuals, bad voice acting, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg”

Kingdom Come: Deliverance – PS4/XO

Reviews:
4/5 – Dark Station: “Kingdom Come: Deliverance requires a whole lot of patience, reading, studying, and analyzing how things work. Beyond these hurdles lies a fine piece of interactive historical fiction”

3/5 – Windows Central: “Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s large open world is packed full of things to do in a setting many can relate to. It’s by no means perfect, which is unfortunately down to the sheer scope of the project for such a small team of developers. Still, you’re going to get many hours of entertainment from this game”

4/10 – The SixthAxis: “If Kingdom Come: Deliverance has a ton of bug fixing to improve the performance drastically, it could be a hidden gem. It’s clear that the game, despite its grand ambitions, was simply not ready for public consumption”

Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame – PS4/XO/Switch

Reviews:
8.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Developer Milestone S.r.l. has been making racing games for so long, it comes as no surprise how nicely Monster Energy Supercross turned out. From the detail in the dirt, to the details in the bikes, this is not only a great looking game, but a great racing game too”

7/10 – PlayStation Country: “Overall, Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame has a steep learning curve that should keep fans involved. It retains some of the technical woes of Milestone’s previous work but the racing is involved and competitive. The track editor is a welcome inclusion that should extend the life of what is probably going to become a yearly product”

5.0 – God is a Geek: “While possibly catering to fans of the sport in terms of content, the overly aggressive AI and unnaturally twitchy handling mean that Monster Energy Supercross just isn’t that fun to play”

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Feb 14
By Jake In Most Played No Comments

After 75 hours, on and off over six months, I finally completed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But I still can’t decide what I think of it.

It must have done something right: I’m not sure I’ve ever played a game for 75 hours. Super Mario 64, maybe? I really loved that game. Breath of the Wild, though, I’m not sure whether it’s like, love or something less altogether stranger – compulsion.

It has probably been all three by turns. To begin with, I did as I was told – go there, do that – and made some progress with the main quest. It was probably ‘like’ at that stage.

After a while though, I tired slightly of hitting areas where I couldn’t progress, and not being sure whether it was because I’d missed something, or because I was trying it too early in the game. (It was usually the former.) If that was the disadvantage of the open world, the advantage was ignoring the main quest – and anything else I didn’t fancy tackling – and just following my nose.

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