Aug 01
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

While we enjoyed Holospark’s Earthfall – a homage to Left 4 Dead, only with gangly grey aliens instead of festering undead humans – we did feel that it was a little light on content.

Cast aside fears of premium-priced DLC being used to fill in the gaps, as all upcoming add-ons will be free. The roadmap was officially confirmed today, revealing the largest of the first three DLC packs will drop in October. It’ll include a fortification-based horde mode, and updates to ‘player progression’ allowing for outfits, new weapons and new abilities to be unlocked.

Two smaller DLC packs also launch later this month and in September, with next month’s pack including new levels, enemies, weapons and skins. As for this month’s update, expect a new level – Inferno – and two new fire-spewing enemies.

Games that provide an ongoing service are far more pleasurable to play when all DLC is free, keeping the playing field level by ensuring no players are left before. It also helps to keep player counts high, which is something Earthfall seems to be struggling with since launch – we get the impression it hasn’t found either its feet or its audience yet.

Jul 31
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s one of those rare weeks where there’s no easily identifiable major new release. In fact, by our reckoning, there’s just one new release heading to retail – THQ’s belated Titan Quest on Switch, a remastered of a cult PC RPG that’s knocking on 12 years old.

Over on both PS4 and Xbox One there’s 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, a narrative adventure covering a world-changing historical event. Despite a few technical issues, it’s worth investigating. You’ll find review scores below.

Castaway Paradise is another multi-format release defying expectations. On first glance, it resembles a low budget mobile title. The reality? It’s a decent enough alternative to Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, stuffed to the brim with stuff to see and do, and a slight addictive streak.

Then on Xbox One only there’s the cheapy cheap (£4) FMV adventure #WarGames, based on the 1983 movie of the same name. Sadly, the price does reflect the quality – it’s a very simple affair, with stories simply altering based on how long you watch certain camera feeds. Think along the lines of Night Trap on Mega CD.

That’s joined by a surprise remaster of Acclaim’s tunnel shooter Forsaken. The jury is still out on how well it has stood the test of time. The studio’s re-releases of Turok 1 and 2 had notable effort put into them, so we’re hopeful similar magic has been worked here.

Gene Rain appears to be one to avoid, meanwhile – scores for this third-person shooter are as low as 3/10, with Xbox Tavern comparing the game’s voice acting to the original Resident Evil. Wow.

New release showcase:

Castaway Paradise

8.5 – PSU: “A charming and quirky simulation game in the spirit of Animal Crossing. Castaway Paradise is the virtual vacation that will end the summer gaming drought”

7/10 – Push Square: “Castaway Paradise is one of PS4’s more pleasant experiences, offering a tropical vacation that’ll keep you busy for hours on end. Although the game’s addictive qualities do wane over time, the process of steadily expanding and improving your island is both relaxing and satisfying”

6.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “While it’s nowhere near as in-depth as Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing, it is still a very relaxing and entertaining little adventure”

1979 Revolution: Black Friday

8.5 – PSU: “A brave and inspiring work that provides an evocative window into a world-shaping historical event, what 1979 Revolution: Black Friday lacks in audiovisual presentation it more than makes up for with sheer guts, heart and that most rarest of things – a soul”

7.5 – DualShockers: “Despite clunky mechanics and sometimes awkward visuals, the title goes above and beyond regarding storytelling by incorporating real-life pieces of media, making a nuanced and varied story out of literal history that most people know nothing about”

3.5/5 – Game Revolution: “1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a great first entry by developer iNK Stories. Technical hiccups and a few narrative shortcomings hold it back a bit but its honest look at the Iranian Revolution is unflinching, educational, engrossing, and hopefully inspirational for those trying to make games capable of enabling cultural empathy in its players”

Titan Quest (Switch)

75/100 – Gaming Trend: “Titan Quest is fun enough on its own, but playing multiplayer with a friend adds another layer of entertainment to the game. That being said, Titan Quest on Nintendo Switch is well worth your time if you can overlook its occasional graphical issues”

7/10 – Nintendo Life: “Disappointing visual glitches and the occasional crash give the impression that everything is held together with nothing more than sticky tape and a prayer, but it was never enough to stop us playing”

2/5 – Trusted Review: “Ultimately, this is a 12-year-old game, and no amount of spit and polish can overcome the dated mechanics and repetitive combat that lies at its core”

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Jul 30
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Out of all last week’s new releases, No Man’s Sky on Xbox One was the best performing. The belated conversion – published by 505 Games on Xbox – managed to make a respectable #12.

Train Sim World was the second highest charting new release, making #20. Go Vacation on Switch wasn’t far behind at #23.

Finally, WarioWare Gold on 3DS made #38. Waaah!

Over in the top ten it’s business as usual. Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy enjoy a 5th consecutive week at no.1, once again followed by LEGO The Incredibles.

The Crew 2 rises from #8 to #3 – presumably thanks to a spot of TV advertising – while God of War climbs from #7 to #4. Then at #5 it’s Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, up from #10.

Call of Duty: WWII is back in the top ten at #6, as is GTA V at #7. Recent new release Sonic Mania Plus drops to #8, Jurassic World Evolution is at #9, while Mario Tennis Aces sees us out at #10.

After re-entering the top ten last week, due to Amazon Prime Day sales, Sea of Thieves and Minecraft Xbox Edition have made a swift descent, now at #30 and #34.

A fair few titles did enjoy a sales boost, however, with PUBG, Octopath Traveler and AC Origins all rising several positions.

Jul 29
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

While PlayStation, Saturn and PC owners enjoyed playable demos of the latest games, often given away for free on the cover of gaming magazines, those who owned an N64 went without. A promotional VHS tape full of gameplay footage was about as much as a Nintendo fan could hope for.

The arrival of the GameCube saw Nintendo turn their back on expensive cartridges – for the console market, at least – but anybody expecting future issues of the Official Nintendo Magazine to come with a demo disc from thereon in was in for disappointment. Despite GameCube discs costing relatively little to produce, the platform holder reportedly wasn’t too keen on the idea of playable demos for first-party titles.

Nintendo simply believed demos may lead to a false impression of the final game. Their reasoning was, and still is, understandable. Games can change drastically during their final months of development – key features change, and in some instances are completely dropped. Later levels in some games can also look and feel remarkably different to the first few, being more action orientated or vice-versa.

A small amount of third-party companies were still keen on the idea of GameCube demo discs though, eager to get their upcoming games into the hands of consumers. Nintendo went as far to take this matter into their own hands, releasing a collection of “previews” on a single disc, available at certain retailers for a few dollars.

The untitled preview disc contained trial versions of Soul Calibur 2, Viewtiful Joe, Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Video footage of a few first and third-party titles also featured, along with Dr. Mario on NES and a trial of WarioWare that could be downloaded onto the GBA’s temporary storage via a link cable.

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Jul 26
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Bandai Namco’s Go Vacation (£39.99) seems the perfect way to distract yourself from the sun’s blazing heat, set in a paradise resort with sandy beaches, calm seas, and whatnot. For added realism why not play while splashing your feet in a washing bowl full of water?

It’s a Wii conversion we didn’t expect to see on Switch, fast approaching its seventh anniversary. With the game’s age in mind, it comes as no surprise to find that it doesn’t fare quite as well as most Wii U to Switch conversions. Scores for the mini-game package so far are a mixture of 5s, 6s and 7s, with many critics claiming that it’s decent enough for younger gamers, but it hasn’t aged particularly well and there are a few JoyCon control issues. One for the casual market, perhaps.

Other big-name titles gracing the Switch include the strategic adventure The Banner Saga 3 (£22.49), which reportedly sees the series end on high note, and the eight-game-strong Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 & 2.

Reviews of The Banner Saga 3 went live earlier today. “With multiple endings that your actions can steer your adventure towards, it delivers a thunderous conclusion to what, on the whole, has been a phenomenal trilogy,” said Nintendo Insider. As for Mega Man Legacy reviews, they’re mostly clocking in at 8/10. A few games in the package haven’t held up well, but critics agreed it was still great to see them all bundled together for the first time ever.

2D puzzle/platformer Candle: The Power Of The Flame is going down reasonably well too, gaining a respectable 7/10 from Nintendo Life. “The title may well be home to some clunky controls and ferocious difficulty spikes from the moment you take control of Teku, but the immense sense of achievement married with what feels more like a piece of art than a video more than makes up for its shortfalls,” was their conclusion.

After hitting the US eShop last week, Adult Swim’s Pool Panic (£10.99) should also be with us finally. This one has generated a bit of a buzz, putting a spin on the pool genre by turning swamps, jungles, deserts and cities into living, fully animated, pool tables.

GameSpace called it “a mash-up of the Mr. Men, Cuphead, and Rick & Morty” before awarding it a 7.8.

The 3DS isn’t without a new release either, with WarioWare Gold making its arrival. The lack of reviews is slightly concerning, but we’d wager that we’re in safe – if overfamiliar – territory, this being a ‘greatest hits’ package and all.

Here’s the rest of this week’s Switch releases, along with a round-up of summer discount bargains.

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Jul 25
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

If player feedback is to go by, the latest free update to No Man’s Sky adds everything that was promised in the glitzy E3 trailers all those years ago.

Hello Games has, finally, redeemed themselves, adding unlimited base building, multiplayer, vastly improved visuals and commandable frigates.

At the time of typing there are no critical reviews of the new Xbox One version. User reviews on Metacritic currently stand at a resoundingly high 9.2 however, while in the past week Steam user reviews have gone from being ‘mixed’ to ‘very positive’.

This week also sees the release of the strategic, and lavishly animated, Viking adventure Banner Saga 3. That’s joined by The Persistence, a procedurally generated horror title for PSVR, currently on track to become one of the highest rated games for Sony’s nifty headset.

The Council sees its third episode, meanwhile, which reportedly features the biggest twist yet. We’ve also rounded-up scores of Train Sim World, which unsurprisingly given the base material, are rather mixed.

Then we have Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1+2, which includes all eight Mega Man X games – a series that began on SNES and concluded on PS2. This two-part pack is available as a bundle or as two separate collections.

Over in camp Nintendo, the Switch gains a conversion of the minor hit Go Vacation – announced just a few months ago – while the 3DS gets the greatest hits compendium Warioware Gold. A Switch iteration of WarioWare really can’t come soon enough.

New release showcase:

The Persistence

9/10 – PSU: “It doesn’t rip up any trees in terms of the horror genre, even in VR, but The Persistence is a game that understands how to deliver proper terror and tension for Sony’s virtual reality hardware. Finally, we have a horror game that is fully designed for PSVR and the end result is something pretty special”

8/10 – TheSixthAxis: “In The Persistence, the team at Firesprite have concocted a rogue-lite survival horror whose atmosphere and hard hitting combat feel fantastic in VR. Thanks to an impressive array of comfort options it’s also amongst the best PSVR experiences we’ve had, and for owners of Sony’s headset it’s damn near essential”

7/10 – Push Square: “The Persistence cleverly blends Dead Space-esque outer-space sci-fi scares with the addictive arcade loop of rogue-lites like Rogue Legacy, resulting in a PlayStation VR campaign that’s both gut-wrenching and weirdly replayable”

Train Sim World

7/10 – Push Square: “Games like Train Sim World will always benefit from a greater array of content: more trains, more routes, and more services. That said, learning how each of the trains in this title work and mastering the three main disciplines will take you hours at a time, and while it’s very much an acquired taste, we derived a mixture of satisfaction and relaxation from our new role as a railway operator”

4/10 – The Metro: “As a hobby, trainspotting comes in for more than its fair share of mockery. Train Sim World, the interactive digital incarnation of that hobby, sits somewhere between mesmerising and baffling, and turns out to be just as impenetrable as the giant machines that inspire it”

3.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “When all is said and done, the handful of people sitting in the middle of the Venn diagram marked “doesn’t own a PC” and “wants a hardcore train simulation” still deserve a game that isn’t buggy, runs well, respects their time as a user, and one that provides more for their money than this one does”

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1&2

8/10 – Push Square: “With its new features, galleries, and tweaks, even total newcomers who have never experienced this groundbreaking series will feel welcome”

8/10 – GameSpot: “In a way, the entire collection itself is the museum–an entire series, with all its beauty and its blemishes, on display for its audience to judge and assess years later. Parts of this legacy have aged horribly, but they’re still undeniably a piece of Mega Man X history”

8/10 – Nintendo Insider: “The Mega Man X series has always held a fond place in my heart. To be able to play all eight anytime, anywhere on Nintendo Switch is a dream come true. They may not all be top-tier classics, but the high majority that are maintain the same addictive grip now as they did back in the day”

The Council – Episode 3: Ripples

4/5 – True Achievements: “With a huge plot twist, the story is beginning to take on a whole different shape. Meanwhile, smart RPG-infused conversations and more interesting branching paths keep it all well worth another trip to the mansion”

7.2 – Xbox Tavern: “It’s a shame to see that issues with the framerate and the daft character animations are still yet to be resolved, however, with that in mind, Ripples presents the best and most balanced episode in the series so far. I’ll credit the voice acting too, which sees a notable improvement throughout. The mansion is as stunning as always and the story that’s set within remains intriguing, exciting and fairly well paced”

7/10 – GameSpew: “It makes a few duff choices, making it perhaps the weakest of the three chapters so far, and the technical failings are less than ideal, but it still remains fascinating”

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Jul 25
By Matt Gander In Blog 3 Comments

We haven’t seen a digital N64 re-release for a while, so it can only be good news to hear Acclaim’s early N64 tunnel shooter Forsaken is receiving an Xbox One remaster next week.

It’s available to pre-order now for £15.99.

Nightdive Studios are behind the re-release. Their recent Turok remasters went down rather well, praised for being handled with care, so we’re expecting a similar attentively put together package.

The features list mentions online play and new custom stages, along with split-screen play and a wealth of multiplayer modes. It’s Xbox One X enhanced too, boasting 4K visuals.

The N64 original (also released on PC and PSone) gained a cult following upon release, gaining favourable comparisons to Interplay’s Descent. Unlike Descent, however, it didn’t sell well enough to warrant a sequel.

We blame a botched marketing campaign – looking back at the differences in box art across all three regions, it’s clear Acclaim struggled to market a space shooter on consoles come 1998, resorting to using female models in the US.

It looks like Shadowman is the next N64 re-release on the agenda. We can also look forward to WARP/Acclaim’s horror adventure D: The Game receiving a digital dust off, although it may be some way off – Nightdive aren’t best known for speedy turnarounds.

Jul 24
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

We had an inkling Sonic Mania Plus would perform well in this week’s UK. Lo and behold – it’s in at #5, becoming the highest charting new release of the week.

Not that it was up against much competition, mind. The PlayStation Hits re-release of The Last of Us: Remastered made #26, while the Amazon Prime Day sale shook up the top end of the chart.

In fact, discounted Xbox One bundles were so popular during Prime Day that Sea of Thieves managed to become no.1 in the individual format chart. Minecraft: Xbox One Edition and Forza Horizon 3 are back in the top ten too, at #4 and #6.

Crash Bandicoot is the true, multi-format, no.1 for the third consecutive week. LEGO The Incredibles also held onto #2.

Skipping down the chart a bit, God of War is at #7, The Crew 2 rose to #8 thanks to a minor price cut, FIFA 18 fell to #9 while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remains at #10.

After entering at #3 and #4 last week, Octopath Traveler and Captain Toad both take a tumble, now at #16 and #17 (respectively).

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