BFH_GasMasks
Mar 31
By Matt Gander In Reviews 1 Comment

EA’s latest shooter shuns soldiers and all things military in favour of cops, car chases and organised crime. Set amidst Miami’s seedy underbelly, the single-player campaign sees police detective Nick Mendoza being paired up with the headstrong Khai Minh Dao to find those responsible for the influx of a new drug known as Hot Shot.

It soon transpires that not everybody on the police payroll is quite who they seem, knowingly leading Mendoza into increasingly messy situations. At what point does stopping a fellow officer from heading to an early grave count as aiding and abetting? For Mendoza this fine line is blurred right from the outset – no time at all is wasted getting the storyline up to speed.

The plot is a clear cut above other games of this ilk. New faces are introduced frequently while the story takes Mendoza and Khai to Miami’s slums, city streets, hilltop villas and even the surrounding swamp land for an unexpected free-roaming mission involving an air boat. The quality of facial animation during the cutscenes impresses, as does the voice acting, and there are a fair few decent one-liners. Also: one-liners that fall woefully flat. A reference to Candy Crush Saga meanwhile falls somewhere between the two. Nevertheless, Hardline does a remarkable job of reminding us how far storytelling has come in videogames over the years.

Serious Business

It’s also evident that DICE/Visceral Games wanted the single-player campaign to offer something slightly different from the countless other shooters out there. Even on the default difficulty setting, Mendoza can only take around four shots before hitting the dirt. AI controlled cohorts do sometimes stick close and throw health packs in your direction, but in most missions Mendoza goes in alone. As such, a low profile has to be retained throughout. This means avoiding enemy paths, deactivating alarm systems and throwing empty shell casings to create distractions. Standard stealth routines, basically. And basic they are – staying out of sight is a pretty easy task, which is partly down to general stupidity of the enemy AI. Once we even went unnoticed while arresting a gang member in the same room as another.

Arresting enemies is another mechanic that although new to the franchise feels a bit underwhelming. Being a cop and all, Mendoza is able to flash his badge at unalerted enemies before performing a silent takedown. If another enemy catches you doing this then all hell breaks loose, so it’s essential to only arrest those isolated from their group. At first we thought this idea would result in dozens of unexpected moments – bad guys unwilling to co-operate, running off when your back is turned, pulling a hidden weapon, etc – but everybody Mendoza faces is seemingly happy to comply with the law. Try to arrest three enemies at once and the last may start shooting before you get round to putting the cuffs on, but instances like this are remote and you’ll quickly learn to only arrest a maximum of two criminals at once.

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Xeno3DS
Mar 30
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Just two new arrivals head to the Nintendo eShop this week, both of which are for 3DS. Wii U owners aren’t even being treated to a wealth of discounts to make up for a lack of activity, with just two titles in line for a temporary price drop. Gravity Badgers (£2.49) and the Earthbound inspired Citizens of Earth (£6.69), if you’re curious.

Those two 3DS newcomers are Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (£39.99…eek!) and State of Play’s oriental papercraft puzzler KAMI (£2.39).

Good old GamesMaster magazine gave the world the first review of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, where it walked away with an impressive 90%. In short: it’s a cracking conversion, but it lacks some of the Wii version’s grandeur on the smaller screen.

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gamesTM and God is a Geek both gave it 9/10, while The Metro settled on an 8. “ Still the best Japanese role-player of the last generation, even if squeezing it down onto the New 3DS does it few favours” was their final verdict.

In addition to the aforementioned, a few 3DS titles are being discounted this week. The pick of the litter includes The Legend of Dark Witch – Chronicle 2D ACT (£2.99), PIX3D (£1.79), Rage of the Gladiator (£3.09), SpeedX 3D Hyper Edition (£0.89) and Monster Shooter (£1.60).

The 3DS version of Citizens of Earth is also being cut. £6.69, likewise.

bloodborne-evil-forest
Mar 30
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Bloodborne, Battlefield: Hardline and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection have been battling it out for the UK chart top spot. Chart-Track reports that Bloodborne “almost” became the fourth new IP to enter at no.1 this year, but fell short of the 22,500 copies required to dislodge Battlefield: Hardline.

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The PlayStation 4-exclusive settles for #2 while Borderlands: The Handsome Collection arrived at #3. The individual format chart reveals the Xbox One version of Borderlands proved the most popular.

GTA V and FIFA 15 finish off the top five while Far Cry 4 and The Order: 1886 re-appear in the bottom half of the top ten – and #8 and #10 – thanks to price cuts. Sales of Far Cry 4 were in fact up a remarkable 233% last week.

Mario Party 10, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD and Resident Evil Revelations 2 meanwhile all depart the top ten after just one week, falling to #11, #12 and #14 respectively.

The only other new arrival in the top 40 was PS4 motorbike sim Ride, which entered at #25. It appears that the Xbox versions were hit with a last minute delay and are now due out 10th April.

Pre-Sequel
Mar 27
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

The last Friday of the month brings the usual bombardment of new releases. Even those with an empty wallet are well catered for thanks to the arrival of the (temporarily) free standalone Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious. We were under the impression that it was an Xbox One exclusive but it appears to be heading to Xbox 360 as well. Achievement hunters should take note – it looks like it’s going to be a breeze to 100%.

Free-to-play RPG Neverwinter arrives on Xbox One this Friday too. When it launched on PC roughly a year ago the reception was mostly positive. “It’s a game of borrowed parts and tweaked ideas that sometimes seems a little behind the times. But each of the game’s systems, from combat to crafting, is expertly crafted–simultaneously offering depth, fun, and accessibility,” said GamesRadar. Fun and accessible are the kind of qualities that make it sound ideal for a console conversion. We’ll aim to bring you some words of our own about it next week.

Borderlands

Two others baring RPG elements this week are Bloodborne and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. As our Bloodborne review round-up showed, it’s the first truly essential PS4 exclusive. Most critics claim that it’s a cut above Dark Souls II but doesn’t quite match the original Dark Soul’s majesty. When you bear in mind that many of the same critics gave DSII either an 8/10 or 9/10 – and believe Dark Souls to be pretty much perfect – this is very high praise indeed. Reviews started to surface on Tuesday – going by Metacritic’s exhaustive list, it’s yet to receive a score below 8/10.

We’re still waiting on reviews for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. In an ideal world the first Borderlands would be part of the package – if only for sake of comprehensiveness – and the price tag would be nearer the £30 mark due to BL2’s age, but we can’t grumble too much when every single piece of DLC is being chucked in. Over £100 worth, 2K claims. Incidentally, the price of Pre-Sequel! on Xbox 360/PS3 has plummeted to around the £10-£12 mark in the run up to The Handsome Collection’s release. If you’re sticking with last-gen for a while longer, there are some brilliant bargains to be had right now.

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AddamsFamilyPinball
Mar 25
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

The Pinball Arcade creators FarSight Studios have released a handful of movie licensed tables in the past, but to ensure the digital release of 1991’s The Addams Family pinball a Kickstarter campaign had to be launched.

The reason for this is that it wasn’t exactly the cheapest or easiest of licenses to acquire – FarSight even had to seek individual permission from each actor that starred in the film to use their voiceovers.

The $98k goal was successfully funded back in October and after first appearing on mobiles, the legendary table is now available to download on PS4 and Xbox One as part of Season Four.

Kindly, FarSight covered the development costs themselves – the money they requested was simply to cover license costs. They even added the money left over from acquiring the Terminator 2 license to the pot. If this doesn’t show how determined they were to immortalise The Addams Family pinball in digital form forever, then we don’t know what will.

You may be wondering what the significance of The Addams Family pinball is. Well, not only was it the best selling pinball table of all time – shifting over 20,000 units – but it’s often referred to as being one of the greatest tables ever created.

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Bloodborne
Mar 24
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

It may have taken far longer than anticipated, but finally the PlayStation 4 has an exclusive to be proud of. Or at least, an exclusive that isn’t a remake – The Last of Us: Remastered was arguably the first PS4 essential.

At the time of typing From Software’s Bloodborne stands tall with a Metacritic of 93%, form of 41 reviews. Not a single review is below 8/10 (well, 4/5) and we’re confident in saying that you shouldn’t let the few slightly less than glowing scores out there cast doubt in your mind. Why? Because one starts with the words “I have to admit I never got into the Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls games”. Indeed, Game Revolution’s review is a very curious thing. Not necessarily in a bad way – it’s actually quite interesting to read the opinion from somebody who wasn’t a Souls fan, as the majority of Bloodborne reviews have cleared been penned by diehards.

Let’s take a look at what they’ve had to say about Hidetaka Miyazaki’s latest.

5/5 – The Guardian: “Game designer Hidetaka Miyazaki returns with another obtuse but enthralling masterpiece that both mirrors and subverts his previous classics”

5/5 – The Telegraph: “Bloodborne is one of those experiences that totally consumes you when you’re involved in it and working to see all that it has to offer. In that sense it’s the digital edition of a round-the-world trip to foreign continents, each turning of a corner providing equal helpings of excitement and trepidation”

10/10 – God is a Geek: “Bloodborne is an immensely intricate and tightly-designed game that arguably surpasses what From have produced before, thanks to a handful of new ideas and tweaked mechanics”

5/5 – Digital Spy: “I want to keep playing, I want to discover its secrets, I want to fight every monster, try every weapon, discuss theories and explore as many of the community dungeons as possible. To put it bluntly, I want to bleed the game dry”

10/10 – The Jimquisition: “Bloodborne is as glorious as it is grotesque, a harsh and unyielding exercise in getting battered mercilessly while feeling encouraged the whole painful way”

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TrineWiiU
Mar 23
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Although eleven new releases are lined up for the UK Nintendo eShop this week – well, twelve if you consider Inazuma Eleven Thunderflash/Wildfire to be separate games – it’s debatable as to how many of these will be of interest to the majority. Our reckoning is four, and that’s at a push.

Trine Enchanted Edition on Wii U is the undeniable highlight, even if it is a mere remake of an adventure barely five years old. As we’ve mentioned recently though, there’s clearly demand for remakes, remasters, revamps and whatnot.

In a nutshell, it’s Trine remade using Trine 2’s superior engine, complete with an all-new three player online mode. £10.99 is the asking price unless you already own Trine 2 on Wii U, in which case it’ll only cost £8.79.

TrineEnhanced

For a second week running there’s just one new Virtual Console release. This week – the GBA’s Mega Man Zero 3 (£6.29) on Wii U. A quick glance at eBay reveals it to be one of those GBA titles that’s worth a tidy sum nowadays, and so we’re confident in saying that more than a few gamers out there will be glad to see it granted a re-release.

Another new release of note is Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stones: Wildfire/Thunderflash, both of which are also heading to retail this Friday. Review scores for Nintendo’s latest soccer RPG have mostly been around the 7/10 mark, with praise handed out for the pleasingly surreal – if occasionally confusing – time travelling storyline. Word has it though that this isn’t aimed at franchise newcomers. There’s still no online play either.

Other premium priced 3DS downloads include movie tie-ins SpongeBob HeroPants (£19.99) and LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin (£29.99), plus Best Friends – My Horse 3D (£24.99). We’ve seen some footage of SpongeBob HeroPants – it resembles a broke man’s Super Mario 3D Land. It’s probably best to wait for reviews of LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin to surface too.

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thisweeksgames-mar23
Mar 23
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

The UK chart has finally woken from winter slumber – this week sees four new arrivals in the top ten alone.

Battlefield: Hardline manage to prevail over Final Fantasy Type-0 HD in taking the top spot, becoming EA’s first number one of the year in the process. Incidentally, Battlefield 4 had to settle for #2 when it launched back in November 2013.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD makes do with #2. The individual format chart reveals that the PS4 version (unsurprisingly) proved to be the most popular. And by quite some margin – even the Wii U’s Mario Party 10 outsold the Xbox One version.

Mario’s latest colourful get-together entered at #6 – a far higher position than imagined given the rough reception. It had the strongest first week sales the series has seen since Mario Party 8.

The retail version of Resident Evil Revelations 2 makes its mark one place below at #7. Again, the PS4 version was the biggest selling.

GTA V – last week’s chart topper – moves down to #3 while Dying Light drops from #2 to #4. Then at #5 it’s good old FIFA 15.

The rest of the top ten is dully formed of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Minecraft: Xbox Edition and Minecraft: PlayStation Edition at #8, #9 and #10 respectively.

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