lw5
Mar 21
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

When it comes to dissecting LEGO Worlds’ DNA, the ever-popular Minecraft is the obvious benefactor. Scratch the surface just a little and you’ll find a less obvious influence: 2016’s still frequently discussed No Man’s Sky.

Like Hello Games’ space tourist sim, LEGO Worlds has a similar focus on exploration and discovery, complete with a busted spacecraft that must be upgraded to reach further flung parts of the galaxy.

The tutorial is set over a trio of themed worlds with narration provided by the ever-charismatic Peter Serafinowicz. Over the space of a couple of hours a variety of tools are slowly added to the inventory, with each tutorial mission based around using a shiny new plaything. Build a house, paint a tower, etc. It’s clear a lot of effort has been spent here to avoid overwhelming young minds, as plenty of time is given to acquaint with each tool before introducing the next.

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Unlike the rest of the galaxy the three opening worlds aren’t randomly generated, and so it’s only here that a ‘personal touch is present. This is something that’s notably missing once the tutorial is out of the way, so enjoy it while it lasts.

the lack of licensed material has prompted a raid on the LEGO brick archives

While touring the plastic landscapes new items, animals, characters, and structures can be discovered and added to the ever-growing list of things that can be plonked just about anywhere. In a nutshell, that’s LEGO Worlds’ discovery aspect. Coming across a new vehicle, especially something like a helicopter or a terrain destroying digger, is often wondrous. Discovering a new kind of wildflower, tree stump or rock formation; less so.

As for exploration, the ultimate goal is to collect 100 gold bricks in order to become a Master Builder. Each world contains several of these elusive bricks, either as quest rewards or hidden inside the treasure chests found underground or on top of tall structures. Glowing beacons indicate where quests and chests are located, so there’s always something, or somewhere, of interest to visit.

Twenty-two different biomes feature, each with their own unique items and quests. While this may sound like an impressive amount, many are just slight variations of the same theme: lots of forests, woodlands and meadows with varying flora and fauna, and a few desolate sand-covered realms including safari and Egyptian biomes. Large worlds often feature more than one biome in addition to underground caverns and oceans filled with sea life. Bustling towns and monster-filled dungeons, sometimes too, with the latter putting the weapons often found in treasure chests to good use.

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ME1
Mar 20
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Reviews Bioware’s latest space opera are now live, a few days ahead of Thursday’s launch.

While Mass Effect: Andromeda hasn’t received the warmest of receptions, it hasn’t exactly been critically mauled either – even the reviewers who dished out a 6/10 claim that it’s enjoyable enough, if ultimately disappointing. 6/10 is the lowest score at the time of typing, incidentally.

Not a patch on ME2 and ME3, and certainly not worth the five-year wait, is the consensus. Dull missions, forgettable characters, glitches and an over-complicated UI appear to be the biggest problems, but if you look past these faults you’ll still find a huge world to explore with some surprisingly satisfying combat.

Eurogamer even went as a far to say that the combat is the game’s saving grace. That wasn’t enough to bag it one of EG’s ‘recommended’ badges, mind.

Here’s a round-up of what else is being said:

8.5 – Post Arcade: “The Mass Effect games have always revelled in delivering a memorable visual experience, in creating a sense of awe in players as they explore the far off reaches of a vast universe. Happily, that’s still the case in Andromeda”

8.5 – Forbes: “I have a feeling that Mass Effect fans will enjoy the game, but I don’t think anyone will claim it outclasses the original trilogy, outside of maybe the very first game”

8.5 – God is a Geek: “A welcome return to Bioware’s space opera, introducing great characters, an interesting story and some fantastic designs, always providing things to do”

8.0 – GameInformer: “Mass Effect: Andromeda has the series’ signature mixture of story, characters, and combat. Though its success rate varies in each area, it still provides dozens of hours of fun”

8/10 – TheSixthAxis: “Sadly the glut of technical missteps serve to cheapen proceedings, but this is still an adventure you don’t want to miss out on”

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Wildlands3
Mar 20
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands has taken the UK chart top spot for a second week.

When combined with For Honor’s two-week run, Ubisoft is now the publisher with the most weeks at number one in 2017 so far.

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LEGO Worlds’ second-week sales appear to be fuelled by word of mouth – it’s up one position to #2, with launch week sales down only by 37%.

Horizon Zero Dawn fell to #3, GTA V moved up to #4 and then at #5 it’s FIFA 17.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild dropped two places to #6, Rocket League shifted to #7, Infinite Warfare moved to #8 while Minecraft: Xbox Edition and Forza Horizon 3 both re-entered the top ten at #9 and #10 respectively.

It seems retailers are clearing out old Xbox One stock once more, with launch titles Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome re-entering at #16 and #31. Rare Replay meanwhile re-appeared at #27.

Stealth adventure Styx: Shards of Darkness was the only new top 40 arrival, making a lowly #37.

The ‘Xbox Greatest Hits’ re-release of Bully: Scholarship Edition did manage to make #7 in the Xbox 360 chart, however.

NSwitchDS_AcaNeogeoTheKingOfFighters94_05_mediaplayer_large
Mar 17
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

C-c-c-changes! Nintendo has chosen to move their UK eShop schedule to a Thursday, the day the eShop itself updates. The annoying thing about this, of course, is that it doesn’t give much of a heads-up about what’s around the corner. It also shakes up our site schedule up a tad, so look out for our eShop round-ups on a Thursday or Friday from now, instead of a Monday or Tuesday.

As our headline states, twelve games hit the UK Nintendo eShop this week, but only one is for Switch. That game is ACA NeoGeo King of Fighters ’94 (£6.29), a fan favourite. Incidentally, publisher Hamster recently patched their past Switch NeoGeo games, improving sound quality and such.

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It’s easily the humble Wii U that has the most exciting line-up, including two Turbografx-16 titles: the Zelda-alike adventure Neutopia, and Dungeon Explorer, a five-player RPG. Both launched on the Wii VC years ago. If you purchased either back then, they can be had on Wii U at a special reduced price. Otherwise, they’ll set you back a modest £5.39 each.

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Styx
Mar 15
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

After the recent whirlwind of big name releases, this week is but a gentle breeze. The calm before the next storm, if you will – next Thurs sees the release of the long-awaited Mass Effect: Andromeda.

It’s Styx: Shards of Darkness, FlatOut 4: Total Insanity and Danganronpa 1/2 Reload that find themselves sandwiched between, while the digital services receive the typical assortment of oddities.

No reviews of FlatOut 4: Total Insanity – out Friday on PS4 and Xbox One – are live yet, which is hardly encouraging. This latest instalment of the crash and smash racer is being published by BigBen and developed by French studio Kylotonn, best known for Motorcycle Club, WRC 5 and WRC 6. If those games are to go by, we’re in for a middling experience – we’re yet to see anything truly amazing from Kylotonn.

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Reviews for stealth adventure sequel Styx: Shards of Darkness surfaced a few days ago, with scores mostly around the 6/10 and 7/10 mark. “Once you get past the slightly budget look of the UI and occasional control jank, there is a solid core of a pretty damn good stealth game here” said Destructoid’s reviewer, who scored it a 7 (while adding the word ‘jank’ to our lexicon).

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image
Mar 15
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

As a game that entails little more than making and spending money, Clicker Heroes could only ever exist within the realms of free-to-play.

The action takes place on a single screen, and it all begins with a single tap of the attack button to kill an enemy. Another then takes its place. An endless loop, no less. Enemies don’t fight back, or do anything other than merrily bob up and down, and each is defeated by mindless button bashing.

Defeated enemies drop gold, and soon enough falls your way to be able to hire a hero. Heroes do the clicking for you, and so now there’s almost no input required at all. From here on in its a (ridiculously) simple case of raking in the cash, hiring heroes and levelling them up.

Bosses must be defeated within a time limit, and so sometimes you’ll have to revisit past stages to grind for cash to level up heroes, but that’s about as in-depth – and interactive – as it gets.

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The package is held together, albeit loosely, by an in-game achievement system. The amount of money earned, and the potential damage your party can deal, soon skyrockets into millions and billions, and so achievements are for such unlikely things as levelling up 25,000 times.

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keyart2
Mar 14
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Like most shmups released in the past twenty years, Ghost Blade has a gimmick. It’s one that’s rather simplistic when compared to Ikaruga’s reversed polarities, or examples of the genre that bestow extra firepower when flying closer to enemies, simply giving the chance to focus the standard spread-shot into a single beam at the cost of reduced manoeuvrability. While far from innovative, it does help Ghost Blade to feel rather…focused.

Fans of the genre may have heard, or even played, Ghost Blade before – it was released on Dreamcast in 2015 as a homebrew/non-commercial title with a very limited print run. Despite being aimed at a hardcore demographic, some reviewers noted that it felt like a good place for genre newcomers to start. Two years on and one HD makeover later, this remains true.

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Ghost Blade is instantly likeable, boasting vibrant visuals, detailed backdrops and an excellent soundtrack that fits the fast pace superbly. While we can’t vouch for the Wii U version, the framerate never falters on Xbox One – the screen is constantly filled with collectables, enemy craft, and pretty explosions yet the action remains silky smooth throughout.

Moreover, the difficulty curve is masterful, with the five stages becoming progressively tougher. The final stage is appropriately challenging, especially on hard mode, demanding strategic bomb usage to make it through to the end. An extra continue is added to the pile upon being faced with the dreaded Game Over screen, and so given time, even novice players will find themselves with enough continues to eventually emerge victorious.

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Wildlands2
Mar 13
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Last week Horzion Zero Dawn became 2017’s fastest selling title so far. Seven days later, that record has already been snatched away: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands had an impressively strong launch, topping the UK chart in the process.

Chart-Track reports that it’s the second fastest Tom Clancy title after The Division, beating Future Soldier’s week one sales.

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Horzion Zero Dawn dropped to #2 – with sales down 60% over launch week – while the budget-priced LEGO Worlds debuted at #3. We spent some time with TT’s take on Minecraft over the weekend and were left impressed. It’s playful and innovative, complete with a cheeky nod to Puggsy – one of TT’s first games.

Zelda: The Breath of the Wild fell to #4 during its second week, with sales down 70%. Considering copies are allegedly hard to find, especially on Wii U, that’s still a placing for Nintendo to be proud of.

GTA V is still hanging around, this week at #5. Then at #6 it’s the very well-received NieR: Automata. We had to visit three different branches of GAME to find a copy, suggesting demand was higher than expected.

FIFA 17 and Rocket League occupy #7 and #8. Switch launch title 1-2-Switch sits at #9 while Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare sees us out at #10.

Bomberman R meanwhile dropped from #7 to #21.

The 3DS’ Mario Sports Superstars was the only other new arrival in the top 40, dribbling in at #37.

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