Blues3
Sep 01
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The studio behind Blues and Bullets shrewdly picked the perfect time to launch a new episodic adventure. The foregone conclusions of Game of Thrones and Tales from The Borderlands are almost upon us, while the end of Dontnod’s Life is Strange also draws near.

Blues and Bullets is packaged in a similar fashion to the aforementioned – five episodes priced at £3.99 a piece, with this first episode taking around 2 hours to finish. There’s even a screen after the credits showing the percentages for the various dialogue/moral choices other players made. We’re in familiar territory here, that’s for sure.

The visual style has an equally obvious influence – Frank Miller’s Sin City. This neo-noir adventure puts on a stylish show, using splashes of bright red to brighten the 1950s criminal underworld in which it takes place. Coupled with drizzling rain, exemplary fire effects and one surreal sequence involving the inner monologues of the former detective protagonist, it’s a very attractive game. The few rough edges present (stilted animation is the biggest offender) are easy to look past considering this first episode takes place in a surprisingly high number of locations.

Blues1

This opening episode is split into five chapters – the first three focus on character introduction and outlining the storyline, while the final two entail a murder and the consequences thereof. Set in Santa Esperanza, you play as Elliot Ness – a federal agent and former member of The Untouchables, the hand-picked team that famously managed to take down Al Capone. With his past behind him Ness now runs a diner known as Blues and Bullets. While serving a rather uncouth former colleague Elliot is approached by a mysterious figure seeking assistance with a sensitive matter. After embarking on a luxury Hindenburg airship, it so transpires that Al Capone is out of jail and requires Ness to take up detective work once again. Children are mysteriously vanishing, one of which is related to the crime lord.

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GoW
Sep 01
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

After several quiet weeks (Rare Replay was the last significant release) we finally have a UK chart worth reporting on, featuring five new arrivals in the top ten alone.

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition takes the top spot, followed by the very well-received PS4-exclusive Until Dawn at #2. Disney Infinity 3.0 enters at #3 while Madden NFL 16 makes its mark at #4.

At #5 we find last week’s chart topper – LEGO Jurassic World. At #6 it’s GTA V, while position #7 is filled by another new arrival – Dishonored: Definitive Edition. We’re surprised by this as the digital version has a huge discount for those who own it on PS3/360, both of which have been free recently.

Minecraft: PlayStation Edition, Batman: Arkham Knight and Minecraft: Xbox Edition round off the top ten.

To make way for the new releases Battlefield: Hardline, FIFA 15, Dying Light and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare all depart the top ten. The Elder Scrolls Online is on a downer too, dropping from #9 to #22.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 was the only other new entry, sailing in at #27. This means Wii U-exclusive Devil’s Third doesn’t get a look in. The shoddy hack ‘n’ slasher has to settle for a lowly #8 in the Wii U chart.

720-GDC-2015-Screenshot-_0003_Lava
Aug 31
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Nintendo loyalists shouldn’t feel envious about the slew of big-name titles that have hit PS4 and Xbox One recently – this week’s eShop line-up is chock full of decent downloads. Making for a pleasant change, the upcoming discounts aren’t too shabby either.

The Wii U is in line for six new arrivals this Thursday – three indie games and three Virtual Console releases – while the 3DS sees the release of Little Battlers eXperience (£34.99), which is also due out as retail release later this week. Developed by Level-5, this anime tie-in has gone down well with RPG fans. The Metacritic currently stands at 73% from 11 critics with no reviews below 7/10.

Those Wii U indie games, then. There’s the predictably colourful Runbow (£10.99), a nine-player party game featuring both online and couch-based play. Nintendo has given this one a fair bit of attention and it’s easy to see why – it’s very Nintendo-like in design. Review scores so far include a 9/10 from Nintendo Life who called it “easily one of the best games that has graced the Wii U”. High praise indeed.

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Goat Simulator: Mmore Goatz Edition
Aug 27
By Jake In This Week's Games No Comments

What better use of the current generation than to tart up past hits? Probably several, but don’t tell this week’s new releases.

Gears of War gets an Ultimate Edition (Xbox One), while for Dishonored it’s a Definitive Edition (Xbox One, PS4). Critics are pretty stoked with the former, but thin on the ground on the latter.

Mega Man Legacy Collection

That’s not all the remasters, special editions, repackagings and collections. Mega Man Legacy Collection (PS4, Xbox One) Helldivers Super-Earth Ultimate Edition and Watch_Dogs: Complete Edition (both Xbox One). On the more imaginative side it’s a Giant Edition for Don’t Starve, and Goat Simulator has the Mmore Goatz Edition (also both Xbox One). I’m going to stop looking for more, because the word ‘Edition’ is starting to lose all meaning.

So how about some sequels? Madden NFL 16 is a big one, and this year’s would seem to be up to scratch. Touchdown! Disney Infinity 3.0 is out, with Star Wars and all sorts, wisely pre-empting the new Skylanders thing.

Devil’s Third for Wii U isn’t a sequel, but as Matt suspected, it seems that it’s not very good at all. Sony’s PS4 “interactive horror” Until Dawn seems to be rather better.

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RTH_BikeCustom_05
Aug 26
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

Bad games. We’ve seen plenty since this site started in 2001, but in this day and age of big budgets and high expectations they’ve started to become few and far between. Godzilla on PS4 was the most recent, and it’s fair to say that many were surprised by how awful it was. We’ve come to expect competency.

Every few years though we see the release of something that sets tongues waggling, and not for the best of reasons. Games so dated and unfinished that it’s almost a miracle they managed to end up in consumer’s hands.

Inspired by the negativity surrounding Devil’s Third – which is finally released this week after a seven year development cycle – we’ve rounded up five games that managed to escape development limbo.

Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever

Credit goes to Gearbox and Piranha Bytes – they managed to take something that was stuck in gaming purgatory since 1997 and turn it into an experience that was merely mediocre. Not terrible, but certainly dated. But it wasn’t just the action that felt like something from the past – many found the Duke himself a man out of time. His corny one-liners and uber-macho visage may have seemed cool in the ‘90s, but today’s gaming icons are rarely as shallow.

Boss battles, gun turret sequences, first-person platform jumping elements and a multi-player mode entitled ‘Capture the Babe’ – there’s no debating that Duke Nukem Forever was a relic from days gone by. Yet, it was playable – using the True Achievements website as a source, roughly half the people who purchased a copy finished the single-player mode.

Haven’t played it for yourself? It can usually be found for around £2-£3 these days, and it’s well worth a purchase just for the extras – there’s a timeline video showing the game in various states of development, plus trailers from iterations that were cancelled. The credit roll raises a grin too. After scrolling for what seems an eternity, Gearbox basically put their hands up and say “It’s impossible to name everybody who worked on DNF – big shout out to all the people who did”.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens Colonial Marines

Here we have Gearbox’s very own Duke Nukem Forever. After several delays and five years in development, the world was presented with something that looked incredibly different to the glitzy pre-release screenshots and even E3 gameplay footage from a year prior. Blurry textures, shoddy animation, lifeless explosions and poor lighting effects – Aliens: Colonial Marines was released in 2013 but was firmly stuck in 2008. This lead to a lawsuit against SEGA on the grounds of false advertising.

There are a few conspiracies regarding development, most of which entail Colonial Marines being placed on the backburner while Gearbox focused on Borderlands – their own IP. The rumour that holds the most water is that Gearbox simply took SEGA’s money and then paid TimeGate Studios (developers of the F.E.A.R expansion packs and first-person flop Section 8) to create the single-player mode without SEGA knowing. TimeGate then went bust, forcing Gearbox to pick up the pieces and carry on their work. This is why the “finished” version was more than a slight mess – the sight of AI teammates magically teleporting to the player’s location if they fell too far behind frankly ruined all chances of creating a tense atmosphere.

We’ve seen numerous sealed copies of Aliens: Colonial Marines in charity shops and at car boot sales over the past couple of years. It has become so notoriously rubbish that people can’t even muster up the enthusiasm to remove it from the cellophane.

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DevilsThirdT
Aug 24
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Oddly, there are no new Virtual Console releases due this Thursday. That’s not a huge cause for concern though – the Wii U is set to receive two retail releases and a smattering of intriguing downloads.

Admittedly, we do have concerns about Devil’s Third as previews were far from flattering. It’s also set to cost £49.99 on the eShop, – £10 more than what we were expecting. For the uninformed, Devil’s Third has been stuck in development for a very long time. It was even under THQ’s wing at one point. Why did Nintendo pick it up? We assume that the rights had fallen to a ridiculously low price, and that it would simply suffice for plugging a gap in the Wii U’s release schedule. Either that or Nintendo believed they could turn the project around and release something that would appeal to those who purchased Bayonetta 2. It’s a bit of a mystery, really.

DevilsThird1

On top of that £49.99 asking price there are IAPs in place too – batches of ‘Golden Eggs’ (presumably used in multiplayer) can be purchased, with prices (free) ranging from 49p to £17.99. They have to claw back seven year’s worth of development money somehow, we suppose.

Disney Infinity 3.0: Play without Limits is the Wii U’s second big-name release of the week. It’s arriving at a discounted price, which is certainly pleasing to see – £16.49 until 5th September (£24.99 thereafter). You will of course need a portal and a few figures to get started. Although Star Wars is the main theme this year the likes of Inside Out and Frozen still get a look in. They haven’t forgotten about good old Mickey Mouse either. Chuck it all into the pot, fellas.

Q.U.B.E: Director’s Cut headlines the downloadable offerings. We reviewed the Xbox One version in July and found it to be a decent enough take on Portal. The biggest problem we had was that it didn’t really hit its stride until the storyline was nearing its conclusion – the puzzles found in the last hour or so are, frankly, ingenious. Prior to this, most aren’t particularly taxing. The storyline does however help to engage from the outset, making this worth a look. This too has a launch period discount – £7.19 until 14th September (£8.99 thereafter).

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LEGO® Jurassic World™_20150402193824
Aug 24
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

As predicted, it’s another quiet week in chart land – the only new release out last week was Risen 3: Enhanced Edition, which hasn’t even broken the PS4 top 20 let alone the UK top 40.

LEGO Jurassic World remains #1 for a second week. This is its fourth non-consecutive week on top, and also Warner Bros’ 11th week for occupying top spot this year.

GTA V holds onto #2, Batman: Arkham Knight moves up to #3, Battlefield: Hardline rises from #7 to #4 while Minecraft: Xbox Edition digs in at #5.

Positions #6 to #10 are then filled by FIFA 15, Minecraft: PlayStation Edition, Dying Light, The Elder Scrolls Online and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

After just three weeks on sale, Rare Replay has departed the top ten. The ravishing retro collection is now at #12. It is, however, still #1 in the Xbox One chart.

The rest of the top 40 remains largely unchanged, with the only re-entries being The Sims 4 at #30 and Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare at #38.

ZombiTT
Aug 22
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Former Wii U-exclusive ZombiU might be fast approaching three years old, but it’s still one of the finest zombie survival games available. When you consider how many games filled with the festering undead have been released since 2012, that’s quite the compliment.

For a launch game in particular it was incredibly ambitious. We’d even go as far as saying that it was a far better system showcase than Nintendo’s first-party offerings, turning the GamePad into a survival kit – or Bug-Out-Bag, to use the correct term. The radar – which can be pinged to reveal signs of movement – is now on-screen while the LB button is used to scan environments for items of worth and importance.

This makes scavenging for supplies a lot easier. That said, the new control system is initially cumbersome – aiming down sights and swinging the trusty cricket bat (the default melee weapon) is intuitive enough, but never are you informed that it’s possible to map four items onto the d-pad. And neither are you told that every time a character dies items then have to be manually mapped again. We learnt this the hard way.

zOMBIr

Another reason why the Wii U version was considered ambitious was due to the online elements – zombified versions of those on your friend list could be found lurking in the areas where they died, while online leaderboards were – ingeniously – scribbled on walls in some of the safe houses. All online functions have sadly been stripped from this conversion, but there is a compromise – it’s slightly better looking, boasting sharper textures, extended view distance (handy, seeing a lot of time is spent in narrow corridors) and more natural lighting effects due to the removal of the speckled lighting filter. These improvements aren’t enough to bring it up to today’s standards, but don’t let this put you off – Ubisoft’s vision of a zombie ravaged London is rich, detailed and wholly consistent.

Zombi remains a tense and genuinely harrowing experience

The London underground acts as the main hub, leading off to Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London and other famous places. The level of consistency stems to that of the enemy design – in and around Buckingham Palace undead Beefeater guards are found, while zombies in the poorer areas are usually dressed in polo shirts, baseball caps and casual sportswear.

The rubbish strewn locations are small in size yet take a considerable amount of time to explore thoroughly. Danger lurks around every corner, and it’s this element of surprise that Zombi excels at. The zombies are wildly unpredictable – some simply stand on the spot, as if they’re willing to accept their inevitable fate, while others are alerted to your presence the moment you step into a room. Some shuffle, some run, some crawl along the floor…and all have the capability to kill in seconds. This is a tough game, occasionally to the point of being unforgiving. A single zombie doesn’t pose too much of a threat as long as you’ve remembered to reload your firearm, but a group of three or more is something to fear. This is where flares and explosives come into good use – killing a bunch of zombies with one well-aimed grenade is incredibly satisfying, as is luring a bunch of undead into an active minefield.

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