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

Usually we see at least one surprise E3 release, with Trials of the Blood Dragon and Dead Rising 3’s Street Fighter remix being two key examples, but this year we were treated only to a new Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite story demo. If it isn’t in your download queue already, it’s probably worth a look.

Indeed, this week’s release schedule is quieter than usual due to E3, with just a few new games of note. Of these, Nintendo’s ARMS is by far the biggest.

Shrewdly, Nintendo lifted the review embargo way before E3. The colourful fighter has gone down almost as well as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, gaining 9/10s from Nintendo Life and God is a Geek, an 8.25 from GameInformer and 8/10 from The Metro. “One of the most enjoyable and original fighting games of recent years, that fully justifies its use of motion controls – and it’s only set to get better in the future” was The Metro’s verdict.

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Tour de France 2017 and MotoGP 17 mark the arrival of the two-wheel race calendar, meanwhile. These two racers always launch during the same week, and as per usual, reviews are thin on the ground. They aren’t due out until Friday however, so we may see some before the week is out.

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Jun 14
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

It could be argued that most, if not all, of the big-name publishers played it safe at E3 by sticking to their franchises and annual outings. Even so, this year’s expo could become one for the ages.

The big boys bought out their biggest guns, resulting in an extravaganza of exceedingly promising titles.

Sony had a strong line-up of system showcases; the usual assortment of new and classic IPs that we’ve come to expect. Microsoft knuckled down and finally revealed some new games; 42 titles, no less – 22 of which are exclusive in some way. As for Nintendo, while we would have liked to have seen at least one new IP, and a few more third-party titles, their line-up was incredibly strong. By the end of 2018, we should have a Switch catalogue that eclipses that of the Wii U. A dizzying prospect.

We’ve picked out six showstoppers that had the crowds whooping and hollering. Woo!

A Way Out

EA’s conference marked the beginning of E3, and so it makes sense to start with a new game from good old Electronic Arts. Step forward A Way Out, a story-driven adventure that can only be played via online or local co-op in split-screen. Maybe not the most enticing of set-ups, but consider this – it’s from the guys behind Brothers, which also had an unprecedented focus on teamwork.

Essentially Prison Break: The Game – excusing the fact that such a thing already exists – it sees two criminals escaping from prison and going on the run, fleeing through forests and taking to the city streets to reunite with their families. With different scenarios unfolding each time, playthroughs should vary significantly.

Our only worry is that the online experience is going to heavily depend on whom you’re paired with. Online etiquette isn’t what it used to be, but hopefully, the more mature tone will attract a fanbase with decorum.

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Wipeout
Jun 12
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Proving that a new instalment was long overdue, WipEout: The Omega Collection has topped the UK chart. Amazingly, it’s the first in the series to do so – the 1995 PS1 original only made it to #5.

Codemasters’ DiRT 4 is off to a good start too, arriving at #3.

The third – and final – new entry for this week is The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind at #9.

Incidentally, Bethesda’s own Dishonored 2 is also back in the top ten, at 10, while both DOOM and Fallout 4 re-entered at #17 and #18 respectively due to price cuts.

Prey had a rough week, however, dropping from #6 to #15.

Going back to the top ten, Tekken 7 dropped to #2 after debuting at no.1.

Horizon Zero Dawn rose to #4 thanks to a long-awaited price drop, GTA V remains at #5, Overwatch is at #6, FIFA 17 fell to #7 while Injustice 2 dropped a few places to #8.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands dropping from #7 to #21 is also noteworthy.

Refunct
Jun 11
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

In Refunct, the end is just the beginning. It isn’t until after the initial playthrough that it starts to resemble a conventional video game.

Until then, it’s less of a ‘game’ and more of an experience.

Set in a world stripped of colour, it’s your job to bring it back to life, restoring colour by leaping and wall running off blocks and platforms to reach the activators that make more colourless blocks rise from the water. Along the way, there are collectable cubes to find, and a couple of new playthings are introduced.

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There are no means of failure whatsoever, allowing you to take in the calmness of the water, the tranquil sunsets and mellow soundtrack as you work out how to reach the next area. The task at hand takes around 15-20 minutes; a length that’s reflected by the price – a mere £2.39.

As well as a bonus for finding all collectables, there are also achievements to gain for reaching the end within certain time limits. Beating it within 8 minutes it’s tough; under 4 minutes is a challenge. Suddenly the tranquil experience you just played through becomes a rush to beat the clock, prompting you to try and memorise block formations and activator locations.

Now, it’s a video game.

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Jun 08
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

It’s the Switch that has the most appealing eShop line-up this week, despite comprising of just two titles. The new releases for the 3DS and Wii U are somewhat questionable, shall we say.

On Switch there’s WayForward’s Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (£15.99), which gained excellent reviews when it hit the likes of Wii U back in 2016. That’s joined by ACA NeoGeo Shock Troopers 2nd Squad (£6.29), a top-down shooter from 1998. This one only made it to the Wii’s North American VC service, making this the first time it has graced Europe.

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Staying on the subject of VC, the Turbografx’s Blazing Lazers (£5.39) is one of the more exciting Wii U releases for this week. The rest include the rather blatant Fruit Ninja clone SPHERE SLICE (£1.39), chunky polygon shooter Block Zombies! (£4.59), and Cubit the Hardcore Platformer Robot HD (£4.49, or £1.79 for those who own it on 3DS). A demo of that last one is also available.

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Morrowind
Jun 07
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Being a Bethesda-published title and all, we didn’t expect to see reviews of The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind prior to release. It so transpires critics received ample time to play it, with a handful of reviews available online in time for yesterday’s launch.

IGN found it to be a neat nostalgic trip, awarding it an 8.0. “The addition of the Warden class gives new and returning players alike a fresh and versatile way to play through the 25 hours of content” they claimed.

PC World (not that one) enjoyed it too. “For anyone who played The Elder Scrolls III, who yearns for Morrowind and the island of Vvardenfell, being able to revisit even the shadow of those memories is a treat,” they beamed.

We also have a double-dose of two very different racers – the less-than-full-price WipEout: Omega Collection, and Codemasters’ DiRT 4.

Wipeout

Many had concerns about WipEout, being a mere amalgamation of WipEout HD and 2084 by a little-known developer (Clever Beans Ltd), but the Manchester-based studio has delivered the goods. The Metacritic currently stands 85%, with scores including an 8/10 from The Metro and 9/10s from both GameSpot and God is a Geek. It also gained Eurogamer’s ‘Recommended’ badge: “There may well be other, better futuristic racers out there – but there are none that can boast this much style.”

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Jun 07
By Matt Gander In Retro 1 Comment

Developer Digital Images did something unimaginable in November 1999 and released WipEout 2097 on the humble Amiga. A system best known for such 2D classics as Worms, Theme Park, Cannon Fodder and Sensible Soccer, 3D Amiga games were few and far between. They often veered on the ‘experimental’ side of things, too, guilty of pushing the ageing computer a little too hard.

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Heck, Commodore’s computer didn’t receive a conversion of alleged ‘Amiga killer’ DOOM until 1998, having to settle for knock-off GLOOM until that point.

To put it into perspective further, by 1999 the Amiga hadn’t been considered a viable gaming platform for some time, with the last major commercial release being 1997’s Worms: The Director’s Cut.

Amiga magazines were – unbelievably – still around in 1999 though, with the game in question getting a mention on the cover of a late issue of Amiga Format.

This ambitious conversion was aimed at a small user base of extremely dedicated Amiga loyalists. A fan base with deep pockets, too. Based on the already-released PC version, WipEout 2097 required an Amiga 1200 (or better) with a PPC card, plus a CD-ROM drive, hard drive, 24MB RAM (minimum) and a 3D graphics card.

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Rime
Jun 06
By Jake In Reviews No Comments

Can a game be too well designed? After playing Rime, I reckon so.

It was about half way through that I realised that I didn’t need to think. I stopped worrying about where to go, because I realised that Rime is precision engineered to guide the player in the right direction. It’s really, really impressive. Honestly, as a design exercise, it’s exquisite. But that makes it – as a game – a little… bit… boring.

I don’t like thinking that, because so much about Rime is so appealing. The beautiful, enigmatic adventure of a young child on a strange island – sounds interesting, right? Well, let’s pick that apart.

Rime

It’s unquestionably beautiful, the art style falling somewhere between Ico, Journey and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. It’s equally appealing in motion, the soundtrack is wonderful, and the controls are intuitively simple. Really, there’s nothing not to like: it’s a joy to be in the game’s world.

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