DoomT
May 28
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Just as the original DOOM built upon the foundations of Wolfenstein 3D, this long awaited franchise reboot learns from 2014’s acclaimed Wolfenstein: The New Order. Not only does it expand upon certain areas, with visuals that are approaching CGI quality in places, but it also strips back the bloat many first-person shooters suffer from.

The result is a game that’s unmistakably DOOM.

Right off the bat a pistol is placed in the mute marine’s hand, indulging players with a spot of grizzly demon slaying. There’s no opening cut-scene or anything of the sort, save for a short interlude a few minutes into the game where the nameless hero steps into a suit of power armour; an ancient artifact discovered on Mars, along with the answer to unlimited energy.

Foolish wielding of this raw energy results in a portal to Hell opening on Mars, and you’re the only one that can close it. Not because your new-found powers bestow the ability to do so, but because you’re the only human at the UAC base left alive.

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From start to finish, no other human soul is seen. You’re instead instructed by a softy spoken AI overseer known as VEGA, and the charismatic Dr. Hayden – a cyborg who sounds uncannily similar to Optimus Prime. For the entire game’s duration we firmly believed that Peter Cullen supplied Hayden’s vocal talent. The ending credits however revealed a case of mistaken identity. Hayden and VEGA are able to track the location of Olivia Pierce, a cyborg doctor who has sided with the demons in hope of creating a new world.

Backstory are lore can be taken in at your own pace, as both take a backseat – DOOM features surprisingly few cut-scenes, preferring to put the focus on pleasingly raw shooting mechanics.

By which, we mean there’s no reload button – when a weapon is out of ammo, it’s automatically replaced with the next in the weapon wheel. There’s no run button either – DOOM’s pleasingly heavy-handed hero constantly sprints through the blood spattered corridors of the UAC Mars base and the candle lit catacombs of Hell. We’re going to go ahead and assume they aren’t scented candles.

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tmntmutantsinmanhattanreview_03
May 26
By Matt Gander In Blog 1 Comment

As mentioned during our new release round-up, Activision has been crafty with TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan’s launch. The Platinum-developed brawler hit the digital services on Tuesday whereas the retail release isn’t due until tomorrow.

Reviews are just starting to surface now; giving it an early digital release strikes us as a rather cheeky way to get hardcore fans to open their wallets in blind faith. Faith that it’ll be on par – if not better – than Transformers: Devastation. Sadly, reviewers claim that due to shortness and repetition it’s more in line with The Legend of Korra in terms of quality.

“There isn’t much to Mutants in Manhattan and almost half of it is a retread” warned IGN. Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry also report of issues when trying to take the Xbox One version online, and like most other reviewers, were disappointed with the 30fps cap.

Scores are mostly middling so far, leading to a Metacritic of 46%. That’s actually lower than The Legend of Korra’s Metacritic – 54% on PS4 and 49% on Xbox One. Ouch.

At the time of typing the most positive review the brawler has received is Cheat Code Central’s 3.4/5, who claim that if you get some buddies together online (local co-op is a no go, incidentally) you’ll be in for a good time.

Here’s what else is being said:

3.4/5 – Cheat Code Central: “Rent this one first and see how you like it, or else wait for a sale – it’s hard to pay $50 for a game that you can beat (on normal) in less than 7 hours. If you have even one friend who might like to play with you, though, it’s totally worth it, and all of the upgrades and secrets will keep you occupied for months”

5.5/10 – Middle of Nowhere Gaming: “The beautiful artstyle, well-designed stages, and excellent combat are screaming to be part of a great game… but this isn’t it. It’s just okay, and borders on being ridiculously short”

2.5/5 – US Gamer: “The Platinum spark exists in Mutants in Manhattan, which is why it’s tragic the developers couldn’t spend the same resources they would on original IP like Bayonetta. As licensed games go, you could do much worse, but this TMNT outing feels like a collection of good ideas in need of a second pass”

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Overwatch2
May 25
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s fair to say people held off buying DOOM on launch day due to the lack of reviews. The open beta didn’t entirely fill gamers with confidence either. Overwatch is another that didn’t receive pre-launch reviews, yet that seemingly didn’t stop gamers from coughing up cash beforehand.

The difference? Overwatch’s open beta was met with overwhelming positivity, leaving the vast majority that played it gasping for more. It also helps that Blizzard has a sterling track record, of course. We wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s a million seller already.

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Review scores for the heavily stylised team-based shooter are starting to trickle through now, including a perfect 10/10s from both GameInformer and Destructoid and 5/5 from The Escapist.

“It’s very clear that Blizzard has put in a herculean effort into polishing Overwatch, making sure that it feels great to play, has basically no bugs or glitches, and has a solid amount of content” said the The Escapist. “If you yearn for the days of old-school Team Fortress 2, where the game was tight, lightweight, and balanced, then Overwatch is for you” they continued.

TMNT

While Overwatch arrives to much fanfare and celebration, TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan is slipping out on the sly. Out of the shadows, if you will. All signs point to Activision pushing this one out the door pronto to cash-in with the imminent TMNT movie. Oddly, it hit the digital services on Tuesday; the retail release isn’t due until Friday. This strikes us as a cheeky way to squeeze a bit of cash out of hardcore TMNT fans before reviews go live.

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Fut-002
May 23
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Futuridium EP Deluxe’s Wii U release might be a little tardy, but rest assured that this retro space shooter has been worth the wait – the PS4 original arrived to a mixture of 7s, 8s and 9s with 8/10 being the mode.

Think along the lines of Star Wars’ infamous trench run scene on an infinite loop, only set in some bizarre alternative universe where the Death Star was made of LEGO instead of charcoal grey metals. It’s arriving with a discount in place too; it’ll only set you back £5.99 until 2nd July. It’ll be £7.99 thereafter.

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A Virtual Console release of the DS’s Mario Slam Basketball (aka Mario Hoops 3-on-3) is the only other game in store for Wii U owners this week, priced £8.99. Developed by Square-Enix, we kid you not, it received good – but not great – review scores when it first launched in 2006. Not a classic, then, but slightly better than some of Mario’s other sport titles. Mario Sports Mix, we’re looking at you.

On 3DS four new releases are available for your perusal. Infinite Dunamis (£8.99) is a conversion of a reasonably well-received turn-based mobile RPG, top-down hack and slasher Smash Cat Heroes (£1.99) gained above average scores when it launched in the US two years ago, Samurai Defender (£2.39) offers simple tower defence action while Epic Word Search Collection 2 (£5.99) is yet another word game for the handheld. Features include a no doubt thrilling Shakespearean word search.

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VC_KeyArt_1453737224
May 23
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Uncharted 4, DOOM, Homefront: The Revolution, Fire Emblem Fates and Valkyria Chronicles Remastered – these are the games the great British public opened their wallets for last week.

The top two positions in the UK top 40 remain unchanged, occupied by Uncharted 4 and DOOM. Sales of Uncharted were down 78% from launch week, reports Chart-Track, while DOOM only saw a 35% decline.

We imagine this is down to word of mouth starting to spread – the lack of pre-launch reviews more than likely prevented some gamers from rushing out to buy DOOM.

At #3 it’s the first of four new arrivals – Koch Media’s Homefront: The Revolution. The individual format chart reveals that the PS4 version was the biggest selling.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III drops one position to #4 and then at #5 it’s Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest meanwhile made #11. We didn’t expect to see such a big difference in sales.

SEGA’s budget priced Valkyria Chronicles Remastered entered at #6, which is mighty encouraging for the franchise’s future.

Tom Clancy’s The Division drops to #7, GTA V shifts to #8, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers holds onto #9 and then at #10 it’s FIFA 16.

Ratchet & Clank leaves the top ten this week, falling from #4 to #12. That’s nothing compared to Far Cry Primal though – Ubisoft’s series spin-off has gone all the way from #6 to #30. We have no idea why.

Battleborn is having a bad week too – it’s now at #27, and that’s despite a price cut to £29.99 at GAME.

ghostbusters-game-179106
May 22
By Matt Gander In Blog 2 Comments

When Activision announced their upcoming Ghostbusters tie-in – exactly three months to the day of launch, we might add – a very peculiar omission was made. To the bewilderment of many, the developer’s name wasn’t mentioned in the press release or shown during the trailer.

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This fuelled speculation that Activision had something to hide. We even jumped to the conclusion ourselves that one of the publisher’s more notorious studios was handling the top-down shooter. Namely Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts creator Cauldron, or Fun Labs, who worked on 2012’s Men in Black: Alien Crisis.

The Official PlayStation Magazine UK however reveals that the new, and subtitle-free, Ghostbusters game is in development at Fireforge, an upstart studio formed of industry veterans. The tie-in takes the cover of said publication this month, along with a few pages covering the history of the franchise and previous Ghostbusters games.

When talking to Fireforge’s founders they’re eager to point out that they want to do the source material justice, while highlighting that although it’s their debut game the studio is formed from developers with countless years of collective experience. Development began well over a year ago, too. Part of the interview with Fireforge’s Chris Tremmel can be found in the digital sampler for this month’s OPM, with screenshots and art work.

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Homefront
May 19
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

The original Homefront was a big seller despite mediocre reviews. Certainly profitable enough for THQ to commit to a sequel. Since THQ filed for bankruptcy in 2013 the America-set shooter has changed hands an unprecedented amount of times, passing from Kaos Studios to Crytek UK (nee Free Radical) and then finally over to Nottingham-based Dambuster Studios, formed mostly of ex-Crytek UK staff. It also went from being co-published by Crytek and Deep Silver, to the whole IP being off-loaded to Koch Media.

Some five years after first being announced, Homefront: The Revolution is finally out this Friday. And for the second time running for the fledgling franchise, scores have been mediocre at best. The scars of its development allegedly run deep, with most of its more innovative ideas feeling half-baked. There’s a general lack of polish on display too, plus some incredibly unwelcome game-breaking bugs.

The PC version is reportedly the worst of the bunch for glitches, prompting Jim Sterling to hand out a miserable 1/10. Eurogamer wasn’t too impressed either, especially with the obnoxiousness of the main characters.

As for the console versions, GameSpot, The Metro and Push Square handed out 5/10, while Digital Spy gave it 2.5/5. Cheat Code Central went for an even lower score – 2.0.

Amusingly, the game’s ending features a message acknowledging its troubled development.

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Tron
May 18
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

Something we miss about the Xbox 360 is that every single XBLA release included a demo. Not only was this a foolproof way to avoid a duffer, but also a good way to discover hidden gems. Quite literally, it was possible to try out all digital arcade releases before buying. The same isn’t true on Xbox One, but there is a small compromise – some digital games include trials versions, many of which have their unlockable achievements intact.

To clarify, demos are available for certain Xbox One games. They usually offer a mission/chapter/track or two and can be played as many times as you wish. Developers rarely bother with demos these days though, choosing to invest time and money in an open beta or a fancy new trailer instead.

TrackmaniaTurbo

Trials are slightly different from demos, and are fast becoming common, requiring the full game to be downloaded in its entirety prior. You’re then able to play for a set period of time – usually an hour or less – before being prompted to buy the full version from the Xbox Store if you want to continue.

These trials can only be played until their time expires, but in most instances grant access to the full game. As such, they’re ripe with achievements for the taking. This article is aimed at achievement hunters, if you haven’t already guessed. You won’t be doing your achievement completion ratios any favours by playing trial versions, but you will boost your Gamerscore by a significant amount.

We’re confident in saying that we’ve played every Xbox One trial out there. Less confident; that we managed to acquire all potential achievements within their timeframes. Your experiences may vary.

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