Dec 01
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

To indirectly quote Eurogamer, the Switch’s special first year ends as it began – with a colossal, 100+ hour RPG epic.

While Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (£49.99) hasn’t received as many 10/10s as Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it has gained dozens of 9/10s and 4.5/5s from such sites as Nintendo Life, Trusted Reviews, Switch Player, TheSixthAxis, and US Gamer.

Not every site has was entirely smitten though, with both The Metro and GameSpot dishing out 7/10s due to weak dialogue, unhelpful tutorials, and an overly complex interface. The Metro still recommended it to those who have seen everything Zelda has to offer, so don’t be too put off by their less-than-glowing final verdict.

The eShop sees a fair few other big hitters this week. The gap in the racing genre finally gets filled, thanks to the arrival of Gear.Club Unlimited (£44.99) – an above average arcade racer from the creators of Test Drive and V-Rally. Then we have the well-received LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 (£49.99), which ties in with the recent Thor: Ragnarok, and a double whammy of Resident Evil Revelations and its sequel.

For whatever reason, Resident Evil Revelations 1 & 2 aren’t receiving a retail release in Europe. Capcom has thought to put eShop discount scheme in place, fortunately – if you purchase one for £19.99, the other can be had for £15.99.

Reviews so far a full of praise – they’re very good versions of very good games. RE Revelations 2 was a return to form for classic RE, and this marks the first time it has graced a Nintendo platform. Capcom has also seen fit to include two mini-games, including the retro throwback Ghouls ‘n Homunculi.

SUPERBEAT: XONiC (£39.99) may also be of intrest to those looking to get their groove on, featuring over 70 tracks. This rhythm action title gained positive reviews on the likes of the PS4 and PS Vita, with most scores clocking in around 8/10.

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Nov 30
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

The Switch rules the roost this week – six retail releases are lined up for Friday, including the anticipated JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the surprisingly slick Gear. Club Unlimited, and the colourful comic book caper LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 reviews aren’t due to drop until tomorrow. If Famitsu’s 35/40 is to go by though, it’s easily on-par with its predecessor. The Japanese publication’s only major complaint was that it forces players to grind for currency, spoiling the flow somewhat.

That’s not to say the Xbox One and PS4 don’t get a look in. Both systems receive THQ’s Black Mirror, a remake of a cult adventure game from 2003. It’s reportedly something of a diamond in the rough – a compelling story let down slightly by poor presentation.

The PS4 also gets a HD remaster of Star Ocean: The Last Hope, and the cheapy cheap (£14.99) DOOM VFR. You can probably guess what the ‘F’ stands for.

The Xbox One plays catch-up with two tad tardy release, meanwhile – sci-fi horror SOMA, complete with a new enemy free ‘Safe Mode’, and the addictive card-based role-player Hand of Fate 2. It’s a very good sequel, improving almost every aspect.

Sky Force Reloaded is also going down well, despite being a mere conversion of a mobile game. It’s a 2D shooter based around grinding, but it’s the enjoyable kind of grind. Its greatness shouldn’t come as a surprise – Sky Force Anniversary, which was recently free via PS Plus, is one of the best ‘retro’ shooters around.

New release showcase:

Black Mirror – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
3.5/5 – The Xbox Hub: “Overall I had an enjoyable time playing through this story adventure that transported me to another time and place. The narrative, voice work, atmosphere and world of Black Mirror itself are all excellent with some nice touches throughout”

6.5 – PSU: “If you can look past its litany of rough edges, a genuinely enjoyable suspenseful adventure thriller awaits in Black Mirror”

5.5/10 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “It feels like a game that is purposefully ignoring its competition in an era where Andy Serkis and other filmmakers have made it a point to get into the story-focused, adventure game genre”

Gear. Club Unlimited – Switch

Reviews:
8/10 – Nintendo World Report: “While it does fall short of becoming a viable replacement for Forza fans, it does provide the Switch with a fun racing game for enthusiasts looking for a more realistic racing experience”

70% – GameSpew: “If you put in the effort to get to grips with its unique handling model you’ll find a game that you can really sink your teeth into, and it’ll reward you with plenty of licensed cars and a ton of events to complete”

7/10 – Nintendo Life: “Gear.Club Unlimited is a highly entertaining racing game that sits firmly at the casual end of the realistic racer spectrum. It can be a thrillingly immediate experience, particularly on the go, where you can blast through one of its sweeping courses in just a minute or so”

Hand of Fate 2 – XO

Reviews:
90% – GameSpew: “Excellent writing, superb world building, and pools of creativity make this a game worth every second of playtime”

8.0 – IGN: “Hand of Fate 2 manages to keep the ideas the original so unique while adding more depth at nearly every turn”

7/10 – God is a Geek: “Despite its weak visuals and repetitive gameplay style, Hand of Fate 2 is dripping with atmosphere and it’s something a little different in a world full of identikit shooters and whatnot”

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Nov 29
By Matt Gander In Mobile Games No Comments

We don’t doubt for a second that Nintendo has a fully-fledged Animal Crossing game in development for the Switch, hoping that Pocket Camp will spark new interest in the franchise. Sadly, this venture into the free-to-play market doesn’t make the wait for a brand-new entry any more bearable.

As expected, Pocket Camp isn’t Animal Crossing with all the trimmings. This is Animal Crossing abridged to suit the requirements of mobile play, focusing solely on key elements.

Cast into the role of a campsite manager, it’s your job to make it a success by changing the décor to suit the demands of the nearby animals. Only after you’ve won their friendship by running a few errands, and gathered resources to construct new pieces of trendy furniture, will they happily come and visit. While gaining their loyalty your heart meter fills up, gradually unlocking new furniture pieces and thus the chance to entice even more elusive anthropomorphic chums to your camp.

The time soon comes when a new bookcase isn’t thrilling enough, as they quickly begin to acquire an expensive taste, demanding such costly pieces as sportscar shaped beds. The pretentious birdbrains.

Outside of mingling with the animal inhabitants it’s possible to interact with fellow humans. To Nintendo’s credit, finding real-life friends is as easy as linking a Facebook or Twitter account, and friend codes can also be exchanged. In a typical Nintendo family-friendly fashion, however, online interactions are limited. It’s possible to visit friend’s camps and leave them gifts, purchase small items from their impromptu marketplace, and that’s about it. In lieu of offering full online play – something which New Leaf featured – you may come across another villager while on your travels, usually found stood in the same location.

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Nov 27
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Considering around 50% of UK games sales are digital nowadays, it’s somewhat reassuring to see that THQ (née Nordic Games) still provides physical options for all their PS4/Xbox One titles.

It’s their lower budget titles that have caught our collective eye, launching for around £15 on the same day as their digital counterparts. Not some three months down the line after reaching their sales potential on the digital storefronts.

As a fan of physical media, it’s pleasing to know that if THQ has an intriguing new release lined-up I’ll be able to pop into GAME and pick up a copy. The fact that I was able to purchase boxed versions of Sine Mora EX, Darksiders Warmastered, and This is the Police at launch, for a penny shy of £15, made them day-one purchases.

THQ’s retail releases can even be frequently found for less than their digital brethren, thanks to online retailers knocking a quid or two off pre-orders.

In addition to the trio of titles already mentioned, THQ has also launched Lock’s Quest, The Legend of Kay, Super Dungeon Bros, The Town of Light and de Blob physically for around £15. Perhaps THQ should look into snapping up a budget label moniker. We wonder who owns the ‘Kixx’ name nowadays?

Joking aside, the quality of their lower budget titles is somewhat hit and miss. Super Dungeon Bros was riddled with bizarre design choices, resulting in a miserable 3/10 from ourselves, but generally, the quality is way above average. That’s to say, they aren’t shoving any old rubbish in a box – a la the PS2 budget game era – and hoping it sells.

It’s fascinating, really. Fans of Sonic are still waiting for SEGA to cave in and give Sonic Mania a retail release, and a belated boxed version of Cuphead is allegedly planned, yet THQ felt confident enough to put out a boxed copy of de Blob alongside the digital version. Sure, this remaster unquestionably cost a fraction of Cuphead/Mania’s budget – hence why MS/SEGA want to sell the majority of copies digitally before considering retail – but it was still THQ, a small fish in a big pond, that gave us the option.

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Nov 27
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Console bundles proved immensely popular during Black Friday, with most of the titles in the UK top ten packaged with either a shiny new PS4 or Xbox One.

Software sales were up 89% over last week, and 3% up over Black Friday 2016. To give a clearer image, it was reported that 1.9 million games were sold during last year’s Black Friday.

Call of Duty: WWII managed to retain the top spot, making it four weeks in a row, while FIFA 18 moved up one position to take #2.

Popular PS4 pack-in Gran Turismo Sport managed to rise to #3, up from #12.

EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II was the only game in the top ten to take a tumble, falling to #4.

AC Origins moved up to #5. At #6 – up from #12 – it’s Forza Horizon 7. Fellow Xbox One pack-in Forza Horizon 3 shot up a few places too, rising from #16 to #12.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus made a triumphant return at #7. The Evil Within 2 wasn’t as lucky, merely re-entering at #29.

Super Mario Odyssey stuck around at #8. Mario + Rabbids Battle Kingdom also saw a small sales boost, climbing the top 40 several places.

Good old Fallout 4 showed up at #9, rising from #23.

Finally, Need for Speed Payback rounds off the top ten.

As for new releases, Knowledge is Power and Hidden Agenda – both of which are also being packaged with PS4s this winter – arrived at #14 and #15 respectively.

Nov 23
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

It’s a pretty quiet week for new releases on both PSN and the Xbox One store. The same can’t be said for the Nintendo eShop, with the Switch alone receiving 12 new titles.

Amongst these are a few big hitters, including sandbox RPG Portal Knights (£24.99), two-wheeled racer MXGP3 – The Official Motocross Videogame (£39.99), the visually appealing Mantis Burn Racing (£14.99), and good old Worms W.M.D (£19.99).

Worms on Switch is a no-brainer. Backing this statement up, it garnered top marks from Vooks. “Worms W.M.D feels like a celebration of over two decades of Worms, if you’ve been a fan of the series at any point it’s worth checking back in,” they said.

The Switch also sees a trio of new demos – Nine Parchments, Robonauts, and Slime-san – while the 3DS receives New Style Boutique 3 – Styling Star (£34.99) and River City: Rival Showdown (£26.99). Capcom’s remaster of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (£19.99) is down for a 3DS release, too.

Nintendo’s Cyber Sale 2017 for My Nintendo members is now underway. The full list of discounts can be found here. Dozens of first-party games are on offer – including a fair few for the Wii U – plus a small smattering of Virtual Console titles.

The Cyber Sale is unconnected to the regular eShop sale, which is a cracker this week due to Black Friday being upon us. I am Setsuna, INVERSUS Deluxe, The Jackbox Party Pack 4, Neon Chrome, R.B.I. Baseball 17, Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition, Retro City Rampage DX, Semispheres, Syberia, Spelunker Party, Tower Of Babel, Tumblestone and Völgarr the Viking on Switch are all due a price cut.

The Season Pass packing Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Gold Edition, due to hit the eShop on Friday, also has a launch discount – £49.59 until 30th November (£61.99 thereafter).

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

It’s a peculiar week for new releases, especially given the time of year. But while there’s no easily identifiable big name title, we still have a few titbits to tide us over.

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier on PS4 (Xbox One version due at a later date) had the potential to be a sleeper hit. Sadly, reviews suggest this isn’t the definitive PotA game fans of the franchise have long waited for. It’s less of a game and more of an interactive movie, only requiring minimal input such as dialogue choices. Despite the £15.99 asking price, it’s reportedly quite short too. Think along the lines of a typical Telltale adventure.

Then we have Hidden Agenda, a choose-your-own-adventure wrapped in party game exterior, from the creators of Until Dawn. It uses Sony’s PlayLink tech, but not to the best possible extent – some critics claim that the interface is clunky. Scores are wildly mixed so far, varying from as low as 4/10 to as high as an 8.5.

Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV also makes waves on PSN, being an expanded version of FFXV’s fishing mini-game with VR support. Reviews have been just as mixed as those for Hidden Agenda, perhaps even more so.

Also of note this week is the lovely Lumo on Switch – a homage to ZX Spectrum isometric adventures of yore – and The Count Lucanor on PS4, a slightly sinister pixel art adventure likened to Undertale. It’s great to see the Arcade Archives series make a surprise return too – Elevator Action is a game with more ups than downs.

New release showcase:

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier – PS4

Reviews:
6.6 – IGN Spain: [Translated from Spanish] “As an animation movie, Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier would be better. Understanding this product as a videogame, we believe that it is quite limited and we only have a couple of dialogue options to choose, being irrelevant in most cases”

6/10 – Spazio Games: [Translated from Italian] “Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is basically a story driven tie-in, inspired by the trilogy from 20th Century Fox’s franchise. Too short, too smart. In one word: forgettable”

5/10 – Game Reactor UK: “It’s not one you’ll need to keep your stinking paws off necessarily, but neither is it a particularly memorable cinematic romp”

Hidden Agenda – PS4

Reviews:
85/100 – Gaming Trend: “Hidden Agenda is like stepping into a crime drama and influencing how it plays out. The branching narrative is a welcoming aspect and makes me want to play it multiple times. It’s fun to play alone, but taking it on with friends is a treat all on it’s own”

6.5 – PlayStation Universe: “Hidden Agenda is a great concept with some impressive set pieces and performances, but its narrative lets it down and it lacks any major impact”

2/5 – Slant Magazine: “The game is already pretty bad at getting people to interact and discuss the rationale for their choices, and this is especially true in the last chapter, which gives everybody a different final agenda and one hint on how to achieve it”

Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV – PS4

Reviews:
8.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Getting to see these iconic characters and creatures in a new way is simply fascinating, and it has me delighted at the prospect of future Final Fantasy virtual reality titles”

7/10 – Destructoid: “It’s just silly enough to work for the select few that will meet all of the requirements to actually boot it up”

1.5/5 – Hardcore Gamer: “The visuals are stunning and it could have been a great fishing simulation, but ends up being lazy and broken”

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Nov 20
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Call of Duty: WWII has managed to hold onto the UK chart’s top spot for a third week running, fending off EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2.

According to Eurogamer, physical sales of Battlefront 2 were down 60% over its predecessor. However, it’s highly likely that Battlefront 2’s digital sales were far higher than that of the original. If Destiny 2 was anything to go by, we’d wager by around 30%.

As you’ve no doubt heard, fans haven’t taken kindly to the game’s pay-to-win nature and the ludicrous requirements to unlock heroes.

The backlash was so immense that license holders Disney allegedly stepped in, concerned that EA’s actions were harming the Star Wars brand.

FIFA 18 moved down to #3, while Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon made #4 and #5 respectively.

AC Origins fell three places to #6, The Sims 4 made #7, LA Noire Remastered entered at #8 – with the PS4 version being the biggest selling – while Super Mario Odyssey sticks around at #9.

Then at #10 it’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, again with the PS4 version out in front.

The UK top 40 also sees two new iterations of Skyrim make an arrival. Skyrim VR managed to make #19, becoming the fastest selling third-party PSVR title, while Skyrim on Switch made a not-particularly-impressive #26.

Worry not, as it did manage to make a far more respectable #3 in the Switch chart.

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