Nov 08
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

In an ideal world, the Xbox One X would’ve made its debut this week alongside the system showcase Crackdown 3. With MS’s open-world shooter delayed until 2018 however, the Xbox One 2.0 launches with Super Lucky’s Tale…a mediocre, budget-priced, platformer.

Sonic Forces hasn’t gained favourable reviews either. While not a travesty of Sonic ’06 proportions, the abundance of 5/10 reviews suggest that it too is average at best.

EA’s Need for Speed series also makes a return this week, while Horizon Zero Dawn receives the eagerly awaited The Frozen Wilds DLC. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood makes the jump from Xbox to PlayStation meanwhile. This physics-based puzzle/platformer was an Xbox One ‘launch period’ title, and it isn’t too shabby. Not a classic, but pleasant enough.

Then on the Switch there’s a choice of two new titles – DOOM and Ben 10. A tough choice. You may want to sit down, have a cup of tea, and mull it over before picking one.

New release showcase:

Need for Speed Payback – PS4/XO/PC

From the moment it was revealed, Need for Speed Payback looked far more promising than the last NFS entry. The Fast & Furious series is the obvious inspiration here, but rather than having a story worthy of the silver screen it’s more of a ‘straight to DVD’ affair.

With reports of Project CARS creators Slight Mad Studio acquiring the Fast & Furious license, you may want to wait for a genuine slice of Vin Diesel pie.

Reviews:
8.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “While I finished the story in around 15 hours, it’s worth noting that there are a ton of side events and collectibles that I failed to collect in that time. I could see myself easily doubling my time within Payback, and do so with a smile on my face the entire time”

3.5/5 – GamesRadar: “Need for Speed Payback successfully returns to its Fast and Furious roots with aplomb, but a focus on the grind and a beautiful but empty world means it ultimately falls short of greatness”

5/10 – GameSpot: “The simple, almost retro, handling model provides occasional bouts of fun, but it’s never enough to escape Payback’s flaws, with an unwillingness to let you partake in its most hair-raising moments, and a general drabness that seeps into every layer of the game. Fast and Furious, this is not; and that’s a disappointing outcome”

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds – PS4

Just like the full game, review scores for Horizon Zero Dawn’s anticipated The Frozen Wilds DLC are a tad mixed. That’s to say, for every 10/10 or 9/10 there’s a 7/10 lurking.

There’s no debating that it isn’t a sizeable package – a huge dollop of extra content that’ll take a fair while to play through. Around 15 hours is the reported amount, but don’t expect the faults from the original to be fixed – it’s very much a case of more of the same, only in a new snow-covered setting.

Reviews:
10/10 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds is everything DLC is supposed to be. For only $19.99 ($14.99 if you’re on PlayStation Plus), the wonderful playground we last saw Aloy in is expanded by an impressively large, immaculately detailed, diverse landscape”

9/10 – God is a Geek: “It’s a fantastic piece of DLC, and it’s much more than a few hours of content. The new location is visually stunning, and the gameplay has been expanded through the way you vary combat against the new beasts, and tweaking your skills to incorporate the new skill tree”

7/10 – The Metro: “A generous expansion that through its stunning visuals and inspired creature design showcases the best features of the original, even if it doesn’t fix many of its flaws”

Super Lucky’s Tale – XO

With Rare busy with Sea of Thieves, Microsoft has turned to Playful to create a family-friendly title to bolster the Xbox One’s winter line-up. It isn’t an entirely new game – the original Lucky’s Tale launched on PC in 2016.

The original arrived to mixed reviews, and it seems to be a case of twice unlucky for the plucky fox. A camera system that doesn’t provide full control and clunky controls drag down the experience. Stick with Yooka-Laylee.

Reviews:
7/10 – God is a Geek: It’s not going to break records, and it might not set the world alight, but it’s fun, easy to play, and great to pop on with the family and spend a rainy Sunday afternoon with

6/10 – GameSpot: . It’s easy to imagine how Super Lucky’s Tale would be the highlight of a younger kid’s weekend, but it has little to offer anyone looking for an enjoyably challenging 3D platformer.

5.0 – IGN: Poor controls and a lousy camera doom the otherwise adorable-critter platformer Super Lucky’s Tale.

Sonic Forces – PS4/XO/Switch

Despite what many say, Sonic can work in 3D – Generations and Colors [sic] both proved this. Alas, this only makes it more disheartening to hear that Sonic Forces’ main issues are things SEGA should have noticed, such as dull level design and an awkward storytelling method. Oh, SEGA.

Reviews:
5.5 – Destructoid: “While I see potential in Sonic Forces, the execution just isn’t there, especially with the Switch edition. In the future I really hope Sega reinvents the wheel, taking a more Mario Odyssey adventure approach. The whole level-based 3D “thing” hasn’t worked out so frequently that it’s worth a shot”

2.5/5 – Trusted Reviews: “Like Sonic? Play Sonic Mania. Played Sonic Mania? Play it some more. While Sonic Forces looks fantastic, it’s one of the least engaging games in the entire series”

4/10 – The Metro: “Whoever this shoddily made platformer is meant to please it won’t be those that like Sonic Mania, or any of the better 3D Sonic games”

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Nov 07
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Making a name for yourself isn’t entirely a good thing. B.J. Blazkowicz knows this well – after the events of the last Wolfenstein, he’s now the world’s most wanted man. Nazi propaganda portrays B.J. as a mass murderer, and with ‘wanted’ posters spread across Nazi-occupied America a low profile must be retained when the need calls.

This leads to a couple of instances where Blazkowicz don disguises to mix with civilians, both of which are tense and memorable moments. Believe us when we say this isn’t an experience that’ll be soon forgotten.

In the eyes of his peers, Blazkowicz is a hero. A one-man-army that’ll stop at nothing, with arms as thick as tree trunks and a throwing arm to make any baseball pitcher jealous. A hatchet is his melee weapon of choice, able to remove limbs with one swift blow. Indeed, developers Machine Games learned a trick from id’s DOOM reboot – the grisly one hit kills are immensely satisfying.

With a child on the way, B.J. has far more on the line than before. His partner doesn’t shy away from combat either, taking on the Nazi regime with a bun in the oven. Again, this leads to some surprisingly comical cut-scenes. The storytelling and both character design and development are superb throughout. It’s never assumed that the Nazis are inherently evil; you’re shown reasons to despise them, with their twisted and malicious ways and psychotic tendencies on display from the outset.

B.J. and his ragtag bunch of rebels have made a home for themselves on a U-boat, and thanks to its ability to submerge they’re able to elude the Nazi’s grasp. The U-boat acts as a hub, with a target range, an enigma decoding machine, a playable Wolfenstein 3D arcade cabinet and a couple of optional missions to partake.

Only once is it used for unnecessary padding – there’s one fetch quest much later that slows down the pace somewhat. Still, it’s easy to waste a good couple of hours taking in the sights, listening to squabbles, and becoming acquainted with the good folk who’ve joined your cause. Over time new groups join; seeing them interact with the existing crew members is a joy, with one redneck happy to share his supply of brain cell destroying moonshine.

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Nov 07
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The Nintendo Switch isn’t the only console prone to receiving belated conversions. Developer Witch Beam seemingly postponed the Xbox One version of this twin-stick shooter until the arrival of the Xbox One X. It’s an understandable decision, and not just because there’s an unspoken rule that every new console must launch with a snazzy twin-stick shooter nowadays.

While a tad tardy (the PS4 version launched in 2016), Assault Android Cactus is a welcome addition to the Xbox’s library. The character roster comprises of chibi-style androids with bulbous heads, giving it a twee, almost anime influenced, art direction that we don’t often see around these parts. Moreover, it’s an incredibly well-designed game. Fresh, frantic, and filled with personality.

Plucky green-haired android Cactus is the lead character – hence the game’s peculiar title – and after crash landing on a colossal space-cruiser filled with rampaging robots, she rallies up the remaining allied androids to fight back. Each playable character has their own weapon set, as well as different dialogue during the brief and comical cut-scenes. They come packing a positive ‘can-do attitude’ too. Well, all aside from Starch – a somewhat creepy monochromatic android that yells random words.

The Xbox One certainly isn’t short on twin-stick shooters, so it’s pleasing to see that Assault Android Cactus has more than a couple of tricks to make it stand out. Rather than providing a quickfire arcade-like experience, there’s a fully-fledged campaign to play through with an overworld map, unlockable extras, different stages, and a guardian to beat at the end of each zone. Bosses are themed around the space-cruiser’s floors, with the security department featuring a large brute clutching a pair of riot shields and the ship’s garden having a plant-like entity.

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Nov 06
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

We expected chart compilers Gfk to provide a whole host of Call of Duty related statistics this week, but they simply state that Call of Duty: WWII‘s sales were 57% higher than Infinite Warfare, while revenue was up 21%.

The ‘Legacy Edition’ of Infinite Warfare was remarkably popular, hence why the figure for WWII’s revenue is lower than the uptake.

In short: the WWII setting has proven popular, but it’s safe to assume launch sales were behind the likes of Black Ops III, Ghosts, and Advanced Warfare.

Assassin’s Creed Origins – last week’s chart-topper – falls to #2 while FIFA 18 remains at #3.

Super Mario Odyssey also dropped two places, falling to #4. Then at #5 it’s Gran Turismo Sport.

During its second week on sale Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus drops to #6.

The remaining games in the top ten are all re-entries – Forza Motorsport 7, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Forza Horizon 3, and finally Middle-earth: Shadow of War at #10.

GTA V, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, Destiny 2 and WWE 2K18 all depart the top ten this week. Save perhaps for South Park, we imagine the rest will return following a price cut.

Focus’ Spintires: Mudrunner was the top 40’s only other new entry, in at #24.

Monopoly for Nintendo Switch (yes, that’s what it’s called) did make #7 in the Switch chart, however, while Kirby Battle Royale clocked in at a lowly #31 in the 3DS chart.

Nov 02
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

If you haven’t had your fill of Halloween spookiness yet, then you’re in luck – two horror adventures hit the eShop this week.

Perception (£12.99) on Switch comes from minds behind Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite. This narrative thriller didn’t gain the most favourable of reviews on the likes of PS4 and Xbox One, but the team has taken complaints on board to ensure the Switch version is better received. They’ve even gone as far to call it a remaster.

The 3DS’s Creeping Terror (£8.09) is a horror game of the 2D variety, sporting some accomplished visuals. Video Chums found it to be a little short and easy – with the lack of danger impacting the overall experience – but ultimately deemed it worthy of a 6.8/10.

Sticking with the 3DS, Kirby Battle Royale (£34.99) is one of this week’s highlights. Curiously, it isn’t due out in the US until January. No reviews are live yet, but there is a demo (which unlocks Meta Knight in the full game).

Kirby is joined by logic puzzler Phil’s Epic Fill-a-Pix Adventure (£5.99), 2D shooter GALAXY BLASTER CODE RED (£1.39) and Frutakia 2 (£3.49) – a match-three puzzler with fruit machine mechanics.

Over on Switch, Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers (£29.99), Monopoly for Nintendo Switch (£29.99) and Monster Jam: Crush It! (£34.99) head to both the eShop and retail.

We reviewed the Xbox One version of Battle Crashers and found it to be a cheap and lazy cash-in, with no personality whatsoever – the characters are mute throughout. Fellow conversion Monster Jam: Crush It! didn’t fare too well either, resulting in a shameful 38% Metacritic. Monopoly for Nintendo Switch meanwhile has come under fire for stupidly long loading times. Ubisoft is working on a patch already, apparently.

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Nov 01
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Despite waning in popularity over the years, few publishers still dare to go head-to-head with Call of Duty. Case point: just two other retail releases are out this week – muddy off-road racer Spintires: MudRunner, and Ubisoft’s Monopoly for Nintendo Switch. Yes, that’s its proper title.

On the Xbox One Store, meanwhile, Microsoft has re-released three of Frontier’s family-friendly titles – Disneyland Adventures, Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection, and Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure. While we imagine Zoo Tycoon to be worthwhile, we remain cautious of the other two. The fact that they’re motion controlled games with their motion controls removed doesn’t entirely fill us with confidence.

Over on PS4, Black Forest Games has – somewhat unbelieveably – decided to bring to back ’90s platforming mascot Bubsy. Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back looks suspiciously similar to their previous platformer – the not particularly liked Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. The lack of reviews and a high entry point (£24.99!) are also of concern.

“What could possibly go wrong?”

Then on Friday the Cartoon Network tie-in Steven Universe: Save the Light is due for release. Despite early promise, thanks to similarities with the Paper Mario series, it’s allegedly average at best. Polygon gave the PS4 version a middling 5/10 while Destructoid opted for a 4.5/10. Both warned of game breaking bugs, so you may want to wait for a patch to arrive before shelling out twenty quid.

New release showcase

Call of Duty: WWII – PS4/XO

And so we’ve come full circle, with this year’s CoD taking us back to the series’ roots. Hopes are high that this entry will put the franchise back on track, stripping away the bulk and flab that’s been needlessly added over the years to leave us with something more refined and grounded.

Don’t expect to see reviews until tomorrow at the earliest. Copies have already found their way into some eager gamer’s hands though, revealing that loot boxes drop from the sky onto Normandy beach and open in front of other players. Tasteful.

[Update: The first reviews are in]
Reviews:
9.4 – Venture Beat: “Each battle is intense, and the attention to details of the imagery — like the quality of the water in a stream running through a forest — is amazing. It’s an authentic Call of Duty”

9.0 – God is a Geek: “A spectacular release that has a strong chance of becoming a fan favourite as one of the best Call of Duty releases in years”

8.75 – GameInformer: “While the campaign fails to provide a compelling tale and is often bogged down in uninteresting large-scale slaughter, Call of Duty:WWII nails its multiplayer, new social hub, and zombie modes to provide the back to boot-on-the-ground experience fans have clamored for since the first foray into space”

8.5 – EGM: “Call of Duty: WWII’s changes to the core Call of Duty experience are few but distinct. This leads to a good balance between relishing everything Call of Duty used to be and still continuing to move the series forward”

4/5 – GamesRadar: “COD has a few issues in single player this year but the overall package delivers another good shooter with plenty to do and some neat new online ideas”

Spintires: MudRunner – PS4/XO/PC

The original Spintires, released on PC in 2014, sold over a million copies. MudRunner marks its first console appearance, being a greatly enhanced version. It’s a very different experience from the recently released Forza 7 and Gran Turismo Sport, offering a muddy off-road sandbox filled with challenges.

Reviews:
4.5/5 – The Xbox Hub: “It comes with some fine physics, textures, graphics and realism – more so than we’ve ever seen in any off-road title – and that ensures it is one you should be playing at the earliest opportunity”

70% – GameSpew: “It would be easy to dismiss Spintires: MudRunner as a niche title but in truth it’s surprisingly accessible. It can drag sometimes and if you think patience is a dirty word, steer clear. But for the most part it’s an engaging, messy time sink that’s well worth getting stuck into”

60% – PC Games News: “As a messy muck around, MudRunner has enough to offer to warrant a few hours of experimentation. Beyond that, for me, the limitations of its controls, camera, and missing mirrors put a cap on the off-road giggles”

8-bit Adventure Anthology: Volume I – PS4/XO

A trio of NES point ‘n click adventures – Shadowgate, The Uninvited, and Déjà Vu – receive a digital dust off, complete with numerous CRT-style screen filters. All three games reportedly hold up well, and are suitably different from one another, set within fantasy, horror and film noir realms. A low entry point of £6.39 seals the deal. The only thing missing is a Switch version.

Reviews:
4/5 – Windows Central: “It’s not the fanciest collection, but you’ll get plenty of puzzles, intrigue, and nostalgia here for a very low price”

4/5 – The Xbox Hub: “If you were a fan of any of the games included in the 8-Bit Adventure Anthology the first time around, or if you want to experience what games were like in the good old days, this is a no-brainer”

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Oct 31
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

Countless movies, cartoons and comic books released in the ‘80s were perfectly suited for video game adaptations. Sadly, the limitations of ‘80s consoles meant that many franchises turned into tie-ins fell short of their potential. The industry was going through a ‘lazy cash grab’ phrase at the time too, lest we forget. Wear the T-shirt, consume the endorsed junk food, play the game.

Whereas the likes of Transformers, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters did eventually receive games worthy of their name, fellow ‘80s franchise Gremlins wasn’t as lucky. The Game Boy’s Gremlins 2 tie-in from Sunsoft is usually seen as the pick of the litter, if only because of its superb music.

A game set in the Gremlins universe certainly has potential; an endless supply of ferocious critters, petrified of bright lights and able to spontaneously reproduce if touch by water. Gremlins 2’s infamous science lab scene also introduced us to a new wave of nasties, with the mischievous menaces evolving into bats, spiders and, err, the vegetable gremlin.

In 2001, French publisher LSP – best known for the CT Special Forces series – acquired the rights to the Warner Bros. comedic horror franchise. Licensed games were LSP’s main source of income, with tiles based on Inspector Gadget, The Extreme Ghostbusters, and Felix the Cat in their portfolio.

LSP planned handheld and console Gremlins games, but only 2001’s Gremlins Unleashed on Game Boy Color and 2002’s Gremlins: Stripe vs. Gizmo on Game Boy Advance made it to store shelves. Their console adaptation – simply known as Gremlins, but sometimes inexplicably referred to as Gremlins Revenge – was cancelled before release. Curiously, LSP had even gone as far as to pencil in launch dates – 11th April 2003 on PlayStation 2, and 30th November 2003 on GameCube.

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Oct 30
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

It was a close battle between Super Mario Odyssey and Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but in the end, Ubisoft’s franchise reboot pipped the ex-plumber to no.1.

While Origins did have a stronger launch than Watch_Dogs 2, sales were almost level with 2015’s AC Syndicate – a franchise low point in terms of week one sales. Digital sales aren’t included in the chart however, and revenue was higher than Syndicate due to the popularity of Origin’s Gold and Deluxe editions.

Super Mario Odyssey was forced to settle for #2. As mentioned, it was a close call – it managed to outsell the PS4 version of Origins, but not the Xbox One and PS4 iterations combined.

Odyssey had a stronger launch than Zelda: BotW, and as such, it’s the fastest-selling Switch game so far. It also had a better first week than any Wii U title, leading it to become Nintendo’s 6th biggest UK launch of all-time.

The gloriously grisly Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus debuts at #4, achieving sales roughly half of the original. With the sluggish sales of Prey and The Evil Within 2 in mind, Bethesda are likely wondering what the future holds for single-player games.

Wolfenstein’s second-week sales may pick up some slack – Bethesda’s games tend to have a stronger second week than the first, thanks to word of mouth spreading and belated reviews.

Elsewhere in the top ten Gran Turismo Sport shifts down to #5 during its second week on sale, while South Park: The Fractured But Whole falls from #3 to #8.

Just Dance 2018 was the week’s only other top 40 new entry, arriving at #23. Amazingly, it was the Wii version that was the biggest selling, gaining 32% of sales. What a trooper!

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