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!

Oct 26
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

The feverishly awaited Super Mario Odyssey is on track to become this year’s highest scoring game. The Metacritic currently stands at 97%, putting it on par with Zelda: The Breath of the Wild and a short way ahead of PC role-player Divinity: Original Sin II – the third highest scoring game of 2017.

The delectable platformer is available to pre-download now, with the eShop price set at £49.99. As mentioned in our weekly round-up, just about every gaming site has awarded it full marks. Yes, even VideoGamer.

It also gained Eurogamer‘s elusive ‘Essential’ badge: “To many people, Mario is video games. To play Super Mario Odyssey is to remember why that is”

Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2018 hits both the Wii U and Switch eShops this week as well. Wii owners (yes, it’s also releasing on Wii) will have to groove on down to…somewhere that still stocks Wii games. Argos, perhaps.

Then we have Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (£49.99), an action JRPG from Koei Tecmo. Reviews of the PS4 version went live earlier this week and are wildly mixed, varying from Push Square‘s 7/10 to a miserable 2/10 from TheSixthAxis. Crikey.

If you can pull yourself away from Super Mario, certainly give THQ’s This is the Police (£24.99 – retail release due in December) consideration.

It isn’t much to look at, being a menu-driven experience, but it’s incredibly compelling. As police chief, it’s your job to hire and fire officers, prioritise emergencies and keep city hall happy. There’s a gritty story to take in too, with vocal work provided by Jon St. John (Duke Nukem). We awarded the Xbox One version a solid 7/10 back in April.

If all of the above wasn’t enough, eight other new Switch games are vying for your cash:

ACA NeoGeo Mutation Nation – £6.29
Just like last week’s Robo Army, Mutation Nation is a scrolling brawler. This too managed to elude the Wii’s VC service.

Knight Terrors – £2.69
An inexpensive two-button endless runner that includes a flappy bird reference in its product description. Nintendo Life found it to be rather fun.

Moon Hunters – £8.99 until 2nd November (£9.99 thereafter)
Kitfox Games’ quirky “co-operative personality test RPG” makes the jump to Switch, complete with Eternal Echoes DLC.

Time Recoil – £11.99
Hot on the heels of JYDGE comes another top-down shooter from 10tons.

Splasher – £12.99
This 2D platformer from ex-Rayman Legends devs is something of a sleeper hit, gaining a steady string of 8/10s.

The Mummy Demastered – £17.99
WayForward dishes up this inviting Metroidvania just in time for both Halloween and the movie’s home release.

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Oct 26
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

This week’s new release round-up is a tad tardy, simply because we were waiting for reviews of Super Mario Odyssey, Wolfenstein II and Assassin’s Creed Origins to drop.

Indeed, it’s a remarkable week for new releases. Super Mario Odyssey has gained full marks from almost every outlet – resulting in a lofty 97% Metacritic score – while Wolfenstein II has been billed as this generation’s finest single-player shooter.

As for AC Origins, scores are mostly clocking in at 8/10. It’s definitely a marked improvement over AC: Syndicate, but perhaps not the complete overhaul we were promised. Think along the lines of the jump in quality between AC III and AC IV.

Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2018 also boogies on down this week, becoming a contender for not just being the final Wii U release, but the last original Wii game as well. It’ll be interesting to see if the Wii version manages to break the top 40 next week – the system hasn’t seen a single release since Just Dance 2017.

Stepping away from ‘Triple AAA’, WayForward’s movie tie-in The Mummy Demastered and Raiden V: Director’s Cut come recommended to those hankering for something retro.

The first batch of ‘Xbox Originals’ have also hit the Xbox One Store, presented in glorious 1080p. Black, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Ninja Gaiden and Crimson Skies stand out as highlights, with prices varying per title. If you have the original discs nestled away somewhere, they’ll work just fine on your Xbox One. Nicely done, Microsoft.

New release showcase

Super Mario Odyssey – Switch

EDGE presented the first Super Mario Odyssey review to the world – a seldom seen 10/10. A few sites questioned how EDGE managed to bag such an early review, hinting that a shady deal took place in return for top marks. We hope these journos are eating humble pie right now – Mario’s latest has arrived to 10/10s and 5/5s from almost every critic lucky enough to get their hands on an advance copy.

In short: it’s an utter joy to play, packed to the rafters with things to see and do. The mastery of Super Mario 64, combined with the fun and innovation of Mario Galaxy.

10/10 – VideoGamer: “It’s extraordinary, really, that after all this time a new Mario game can feel as fresh as any that preceded it. Cappy is a revelation, exploring Kingdoms is bliss, and Super Mario Odyssey is a masterpiece”

10 – IGN: “Super Mario Odyssey delivers on that ongoing promise of originality and innovation: It distills the venerable series’ joyful, irreverent world and characters and best-in-class platforming action, and introduces a steady stream of new and unexpected mechanics. It’s all spun together into a generational masterpiece”

10/10 – The Metro: “From beginning to end Super Mario Odyssey is desperate to entertain with every press of the controller and every inch of the game world. And it succeeds beyond almost all expectations”

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – PS4/XO/PC

Just like The Evil Within 2, Bethesda lifted Wolfenstein II’s embargo a day before launch. Presumably, they’ve gone back on their word of no pre-launch reviews for any of their titles after DOOM, Prey and Dishonored 2 all suffered from slower than expected first week sales.

We had an inkling Machine Games was going to deliver a corker, and the first wave of reviews confirm as such – at the time of typing, not a single review below 8/10 can be found. Looks like Switch owners have yet another game to look forward to.

9.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “While it’s easy to focus on the over-the-top story beats and memorable scenes, The New Colossus is carried by an incredible amount of heart from start to finish”

9.0 – Polygon: “There’s nothing subtle about Wolfenstein 2, but it’s all affecting in a way that makes the game feel special and coherent. There are moments in the game that made my heart swell, while others were so grisly I had to look away”

4.5/5 – US Gamer: “The New Colossus reminded me why I loved the quietly lifelike romance from the first game so much in the first place”

Assassin’s Creed: Origins- PS4/XO/PC

It’s a misconception that 2015’s Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was a bad game. Several big-name gaming sites even deemed it deserving of a 9/10. The yearly development cycle was starting to leave its mark on the series, however, prompting Ubisoft to give Origins a far longer development period.

Reviews suggest that Origins us a step in the right direction, but one that also stumbles in a few places. It looks fantastic (glitches aside) and the combat is far more refined, but it’s easy to get the impression Ubisoft also felt the need play it safe. The story is apparently a bit rubbish, too.

Question is, how long will we have to wait for the next AC game?

9.0 – EGM: “Assassin’s Creed: Origins delivers a robust experience that mixes up the traditional Assassin’s Creed formula in a way that’s fresh and fun to play—but which also harkens back to the series’ roots in some welcome ways, too”

8/10 – Worth Playing: “Assassin’s Creed: Origins manages to be both experimental and safe. It tries a lot of new things, but it never ventures too far from the Assassin’s Creed formula. There’s a lot of potential in Origins, and it’ll be exciting to see how the new features evolve in future games”

7/10 – GameSpot: “While Assassin’s Creed Origins reaches great heights in this new setting, it routinely runs into issues that bog down the overall experience”

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Oct 25
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Three years have passed since The Stick of Truth’s release. In this time we’ve had three more seasons of South Park, the Xbox One and PS4 have established themselves and reached their mid-life cycle, certain social media platforms have flourished while others have floundered, and numerous fads have come and gone.

The Fractured But Whole embraces all these things and more. The battle system is more befitting of current-gen tech, being grid-based and rather than timing-based. Recent events from the show have made the jump, with Kenny’s house located in the crumbling remains of SoDoSoPa, and Yaoi pictures of Craig and Tweek acting as the main collectable. PC Principle makes an appearance, likewise, helping to put an amusing twist on the combat system much later on.

Also keeping with the times, the faux Facebook-style social media platform has been replaced with the Instagram alike Coonstagram, requiring you to take ‘selfies’ with South Park’s citizens to gain a follow, their approval depending.

Yet despite all these changes, the first 2-3 hours of play bare an overwhelming sense of familiarity. You play as the new kid in town – a silent but deadly type, in the sense that they never utter a word and have been blessed with a rocket-powered rectum. Motivated by a $100 reward to find a lost cat, Cartman assembles his superhero school pals. But before allowing you to become a member of his colourful crew, a few local errands must be run and the rungs of the social ladder climbed. The first opening hour is then spent rummaging around the homes of South Park’s citizens and trying to gain Cartman’s approval by improving your social standing, a la The Stick of Truth.

Once let loose to explore the full town, things improve substantially. The town’s main shopping area hasn’t vastly changed, but there are a few new additions – including the thrift store Sloppy Seconds – and it isn’t long until you’re ushered into other larger, newer, locations including the Spearmint Hippo strip club, SoDoSoPa, and the Hooters parody restaurant Raisins.

During this time you’re forced tackle the town’s mysterious crime wave with South Park’s B-listers, including The Mosquito (Craig) and Captain Diabetes (Scott Malkinson). The chance to team up with the more desirable, and recognisable, likes of Toolshed (Stan) and Professor Chaos (Butters) is reserved for around the halfway mark. Again, for those who played TSoT it’s a set-up that’ll prove familiar.

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Oct 23
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Sony’s Gran Turismo Sport has ended FIFA 18’s three week run at no.1. The eagerly awaited racer had a stronger launch than 2013’s GT6, but couldn’t beat GT5’s week one sales.

FIFA 18 falls to #2. FIFA 17 only managed a three-week run as well, coincidentally, toppled by EA’s own Battlefield 1.

At #3 it’s South Park: The Fractured But Whole. The crude cartoon RPG matches 2014’s The Stick of Truth for week one sales, which is an encouraging start.

Chart-Track also reports sales of WWE 2K18 – in at #4 – were down over WWE 2K17, but revenue was higher due to the popularity of the deluxe and collector’s editions.

Warner Bros. Middle-earth: Shadow of War holds onto middle ground at #5.

The Evil Within 2 remains in the top ten at #6, Destiny 2 drops a single place to #7, GTA V is at #8, while Forza Motorsport 7 shifts to #9. Crash Bandicoot clings in at #10.

LEGO Worlds and Forza Horizon 3 depart the top ten, but we don’t doubt that both will be back during the run-up to Christmas.

Fire Emblem Warriors is the next highest new entry, arriving at #16. The Switch version was the biggest selling, and by quite some margin.

Despite some less-than-positive reviews, THQ’s open-world RPG Elex made #25. It also managed to scrape into the PS4 top 20.

Rogue Trooper Redux turns up for duty at #37. Fellow retro revamp Syberia – an adventure game dating back to 2002 – also shows its face at #30 in the Switch chart.

Oct 22
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

UK studio Traveller’s Tales knew the humble Mega Drive inside and out, pushing the 16-bit system beyond its limits by tricking the hardware to produce results deemed impossible.

SEGA was so impressed with the studio’s abilities that they even let them create the Mega Drive’s final Sonic game – 1996’s Sonic 3D Blast, which is often referred to as the system’s swansong. Sorry, Vectorman.

For the past couple of months, Traveller’s Tales’ founder Jon Burton has been busy sharing coding secrets, unseen prototypes, concept art, and proof of concepts for various titles on YouTube. His channel – GameHut – has grown exponentially since launching at the end of August, gaining over 37,000 subscribers.

It’s easy to see why. GameHut’s videos are concise, informative, and well-presented. The channel is frequently updated too, with two or three new videos a week.

Recent videos detail how Sonic 3D Blast’s impressive FMV intro was crammed onto a cartridge, an explanation of the trickery behind Mickey Mania’s 3D chase scene, and an exposé on Toy Story’s cut-scenes which featured more colours than the Mega Drive could technically display.

Sonic 3D Blast has become the channel’s focal point of late, due to the surprise announcement of a director’s cut. To celebrate the 25k subscriber milestone, Jon Burton revealed plans to revisit the title, fixing numerous issues and adding dozens of improvements and tweaks.

Early footage is both impressive and encouraging. Sonic 3D wasn’t a bad game, but it certainly had room for improvement. Improvements that, some twenty years later, are finally being made.

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Oct 20
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Super Mario Odyssey is just a week away. If you’re looking for something to tide you over, then you’re in luck – fourteen new games hit the Switch this week, many of which have a whiff of ‘short but sweet’ about them.

Good luck to anybody planning to beat Fire Emblem Warriors (£49.99 – Switch, £39.99 – New 3DS) before Mario’s arrival, though. Indeed, Nintendo’s timing on their latest Dynasty Warriors crossover is open to criticism. It seems casually thrown in alongside other their other big releases.

Reviews went live yesterday, and scores probably aren’t quite as high as Nintendo hoped – the Metacritic currently stands at 74%, with the clear majority of reviewers opting for 7/10. The Metro stands out as an exception – they felt it was only worthy of a 4/10, and called it “painfully simplistic”. If you struggle to enjoy the Dynasty Warriors games, you probably aren’t going to get much enjoyment from this.

We also have a couple of time-consuming JRPGs out this week – Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth (£34.99) on 3DS and Kemco’s Revenant Saga (£11.69) on Switch. Revenant Saga launched on a whole host of other formats, including the humble PS3, earlier this but the only review we can find is for the mobile version. It doesn’t even have enough Steam user reviews to aggregate a verdict. Odd.

The 3DS also receives demos of Nintendo presents: New Style Boutique 3 – Styling Star and Kirby Battle Royale, while the Wii U gains a single new release – the match-three puzzler Swap Blocks (£3.99).

Here’s a round-up of the rest of the week’s Switch releases. All thirteen of ‘em.

The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Videogame – £49.99
The movie itself is apparently a bit rubbish, and this tie-in isn’t much better – Nintendo Life could only muster up a mediocre 5/10 review score, claiming that it definitely feels like a movie tie-in.

Spelunker Party! – £24.99
Square-Enix invites you to explore underground caverns with friends, either online or offline. It recieved a retail release elsewhere in the world, hence the £25 price tag.

Syberia – £26.99
This cult-classic adventure really is a golden oldie, dating back to 2002. Syberia II is currently pencilled in for a 1st December release, incidentally.

Contrary to beliefs, the NeoGeo didn’t have a huge amount of scrolling brawlers. Sadly, this early release wasn’t up to much despite the appealing art direction.

The Count Lucanor – £10.79 until 25th October (£11.99 thereafter)
This 2D pixel art adventure went down well on PC, becoming something of a sleeper hit. This Switch release also beats the PS4 version out the door by a good month or so.

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Oct 18
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Just like the recently released Cuphead, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is another game that has seemingly been in development forever.

According to our pre-order dispatch e-mail, our order was placed way back in June 2015, so it has certainly been a long time coming.

Gran Turismo Sport and Rogue Trooper Redux are also turning heads this week. The same can’t be said for open-world RPG Elex, which is arriving with very little support from publisher THQ. WWE 2K18’s launch doesn’t appear to be generating much of a buzz either. We wonder if NBA 2K18’s shady loot boxes have something to do with this.

A trio of titles with PSVR support also launch this week – Raw Data, No Heroes Allowed!? VR and The Invisible Hours – while the Switch gets yet another big hitter in the form of Fire Emblem Warriors.

New release showcase:

South Park: The Fractured But Whole – PS4/XO/PC

Our first impressions of this superhero-dressed sequel are positive, but not overwhelmingly so. The first three hours feel rather familiar, forcing you to run a few errands around town for Cartman while rummaging around the homes of South Park’s citizens. Finding sex toys in Liane Cartman’s bedside table and in Big Gay Al’s bathroom isn’t anywhere near as funny second time around – it’s a bit like being told the same joke twice, and being expected to laugh both times.

Still, we’re only three hours in – the new grid-based battle system is beginning to show signs of evolving and coming into its own, and the story hasn’t kicked off yet. It seems we aren’t alone in feeling that it’s an uneven experience, though.

8.5 – IGN: “South Park: The Fractured But Whole’s excellent combat system pairs well with its true-to-the-show comedy”

7/10 – VideoGamer: “The longer South Park: The Fractured But Whole went on, the less I laughed. Exploring the mountain town, however, is a delight, and the battles are a marked improvement on the original’s combat”

2.5/5 – Digital Trends: “For South Park fans and players desperate for a Stick of Truth sequel, this is a foregone conclusion. If you aren’t a die-hard fan of the show and the game, though, The Fractured But Whole is not the best way to dip back into South Park”

Gran Turismo Sport – PS4

Reviews of Polyphony long-awaited racing sim are starting to surface now, echoing the feelings felt by those who played the recent demo. To wit: this isn’t the glorious return Sony’s flagship racing series deserves, hampered by a lack of content and the new found need to appeal to a wider audience.

While review scores aren’t shockingly low, bear in mind here past GT games gained full marks whilst setting the bar for other racing simulations.

8/10 – Worth Playing: “If your focus is on multiplayer, then GTS is just right for you. You’ll have to learn how to drive like a professional and not hit things, but the game provides you with all the necessary tools to achieve that”

4/5 – GamesRadar: “Gran Turismo Sport is a bona fide virtual motorsport and that’s awesome. But single-player modes are lacking and it’s demonstrably outshone by Forza Motorsport 7 in virtually every area”

3.5/5 – Trusted Reviews: “Gran Turismo Sport is worthy of the name and a great driving simulator, but a lack of content compared to what the series usually offers makes it a curious beast. If you love Polyphony Digital’s approach and cars, however, it will still tick a lot of your desired boxes”

Elex – PS4/XO/PC

German developers Piranha Bytes are no strangers to open-world RPGS, having created both the Gothic and Risen franchises. While both fared well on PC, the consoles conversions of the Risen series left a lot to be desired. In fact, they became progressively worse – Risen 3 ended with a laughably poor 36% Metacritic score.

There’s a reason for this – the Risen games were made with high-end PC graphic cards in mind; as the PS3 and 360 grew older, it became even more of a struggle to get Piranha Bytes’ games running smoothly on console. The jump to PS4 and Xbox One seems to have helped, as scores for Elex are higher than Risen 3. Not hugely so, but it’s a step in the right direction for what’s likely to become a trilogy.

7/10 – GameSpace: “Part of me feels guilty for liking something that’s such a mess in many ways, but the bottom line is that ELEX is a game that grows on you. I just wish they’d spent another 6 to 9 months working on it. Still, given enough time and attention, it may become something truly special”

3/5 – Windows Central: “It needs more work on the console, but if you can look past the occasional problems, it’s a rewarding role-playing game”

60% – GameSpew: “Despite my issues with the game though, my time with Elex isn’t over just yet. I do enjoy the world and the concept, so I am willing to see what else the game has to offer in this respect”

WWE 2K18 – PS4/XO/PC/Switch

Despite the Metacritic for WWE 2K18 being higher than WWE 2K17 – 74%, compared to 69% – many critics feel somewhat disappointed with 2K Sport’s latest, resulting in a sea of 7/10s.

Consensus has it that the visuals have seen a huge upgrade, and the character roster is packed, but some areas still need attention.

4/5 – Hardcore Gamer: “Longtime fans of the series will enjoy a more robust experience, while newcomers will get the best-playing incarnation of the franchise yet”

7.5 – God is a Geek: Whilst there are some changes, it doesn’t feel that different from last year, and the technical issues hinder enjoyment somewhat”

7.0 – IGN: “Under the better-than-ever graphics and great-as-ever core wrestling gameplay, WWE 2K18 is a largely disappointing iteration”

Rogue Trooper Redux – PS4/XO/PC/Switch

Whereas most remakes and remasters tend to be of last-gen games, Rebellion has dared to turn the clock back to the PS2 era. Unsurprisingly, then, Rogue Trooper does feel rather dated, especially when it comes to storytelling. It still offers a fun and frantic trip down memory lane, but this hasn’t stopped some critics from wondering why Rebellion bothered in the first place.

6.5 – The Xbox Hub: “Quirky controls (at the risk of being kind) and guns which lack both a decent feel or noise rob the game of a lot of impact. Sadly, Rogue Trooper Redux feels its age”

3/5 – GamesRadar: “There’s still life in this old Rogue Trooper yet, but the limitations of its time makes Redux a fun but inessential addition to your library”

4/10 – The Metro: “Quite why this earnest but repetitive comic book adaptation has been called back from retirement is a mystery, but despite a decent remaster it’s very much feeling its age”

Fire Emblem Warriors – Switch/3DS

Early reviews of this Dynasty Warriors/Fire Emblem crossover dropped just as we were finishing off this round-up. Seems that it’s even more niche than Hyrule Warriors, and without a change in the age-old Dynasty Warriors formula, some critics claim that it’s not particularly fit to bare the Fire Emblem name.

Recommended – Eurogamer: “A harmonious meeting of two traditions, Fire Emblem Warriors explores a different, yet no less beguiling, type of battlefield strategy”

6/10 – GameSpot: “There are signs of potential left unrealized, and the thought of what a Warriors game with truly dramatic character relationships and permadeath could have been lingers”

4/10 – The Metro: “Fire Emblem has the potential to make a great partner, but this badly made and painfully simplistic crossover is as disappointingly dumb as all the other Dynasty Warriors games”

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