Video Games / Editorials

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014 has been a fair year for video games. It saw Nintendo hit a good vein of form, Sony contuine to progress and the Xbox One boast a great exclusive, only for it to go multiplatform. The year has seen some major games hit the market, with most of them offering something different. This year also saw the release of barely finished games, mostly from Ubisoft. The following is my picks for the best of 2014.     Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4/Xbox One/ PC) Some shooters want to change the world, rewrite the book, a whole new experience. Wolfenstein just wanted to have fun, and it more than pulled it off. After a run of poor reboots from various game franchises, Wolfenstein came as a surprise. The story was a joyful jaunt though a alternative time line where the Nazis won World War 2 and went onto global domination. Set in the 60′s players blasted through various enrichments and enemies, all with a wonderful B-movie feel to them. From the streets of France to a Nazi Moon-base, Wolfenstein felt like a true journey. The gameplay was extremely tight, with some of the most satisfying gun play around. Nothing fancy, just straight up fun, Wolfenstein was one of the finer video games of 2014.   Telltale Games – The Walking Dead/The Wolf Among Us/ Game of Thrones/ Tales From Borderlands This pick is cheating, but Telltale just can’t seem to put a foot wrong. The Walking Dead continued to be strong, if not a little too depressing for the sake of it. The Wolf Among Us was a enjoyable walk through a fresh world based on a cult comic classic. Tales of Borderlands and Game of Thrones are still relatively new, but both are top notch pieces of work. Everything Telltale touches these days seems to turn to gold, and 2014 was their best year ever. It’s hard to recommend just one series, so I picked them all.     Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (Xbox One/ PC/ PS4)   Who would of guessed the spin off to Plants Vs. Zombies would be one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year? This class based game had brilliant balance between each class, allowing each to player to feel like they were playing a part in the game. The ability to customize each class with various weapons and skills gave the game a sense of depth. There’s very little that’s new within the game, but everything is so finely tuned it feels as fresh as ever. Garden Warfare is arguably the best multiplayer experience on PS4/Xbox One, there’s little that rivals it in terms of all out fun. The map design and game modes do a brilliant job of complimenting each class and play style. It’s rare a game can remain fun while being on the losing side, but Garden Warfare is exactly that. The dark horse of 2014, and easily one of the best games released this year.   Alien: Isolation (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   The best game to feature a Xenomorph since Alien Vs. Predator 2. The sheer intensity felt in each second of Isolation is enough to put anyone on the edge of their seat. A genuine survival horror that doesn’t resort to giving the player all the power, this game as a utter success. The story may slightly weak, but the gameplay and presentation make it unmissable. As a huge fan of the Alien franchise, Isolation felt like the closest representation to the source material, by the fans for the fans. Each nook and cranny felt like it had been covered with a eye for detail, a labor of love. The ships design, the sound effects, the distinct ’80′s sci-fi’ look and feel, it was all recreated perfectly. The little touches made the game that much better. The ability to use the Kinect/PS4 camera to peek around corners, the PS4 pad pinging out that iconic motion tracker sound, it was all superb. The hide and seek gameplay won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the sheer attention to detail showcased in Isolation makes it hard not to like. The Best Alien game made, fans MUST experience Isolation.   Shovel Knight (Wii U/3DS/PC)   The trend of trying to recreate old platformers continued in 2014, Shovel Knight stood head and shoulders above the rest. The gameplay is perfect, responsive, tight, just perfect. The whole game shines with confidence, each stage is as thrilling as the last. There’s various tricks shovel Knight has under its sleeve, all of which enhance not just the game, but the genre. Not many games truly raise the bar, Shovel Knight did exactly that. Gameplay aside, the music is a key reason to why Shovel Knight succeeds. A beautiful homage to games of yesteryear, each stage plays hosts to kick ass track. It completes the whole experience, almost tricking the player into thinking they’re playing a classic on the Virtual Console. It may of took nearly a year to hit the Wii U/3DS in Europe, but it was worth the wait. A modern classic in every sense of the word.   Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   After the train wreck that was Dragon Age 2, Inquisition came as a pleasant surprise. While the game starts off at a snails pace, the bulk of the game is hugely enjoyable, even if it’s missing the finer parts of Origins. The gameplay is fair mix of Origins and Dragon Age 2, with a more accommodating use of console controllers.The MMORPG like design of the core game can become a rather annoying, but the main story quests make up for it. The overall experiences feels well rounded and much closer to the ethos of Dragon Age, putting Bioware back on track.   Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)   Nintendo finished off 2014 strongly, and It all seemed to truly get going after the release of Mario Kart 8. While the Battlemode is pretty poor, the rest of the game is sheer bliss. Mario Kart 8 showed that the Wii U could render beautiful visuals, while entertaining the player to no end. There’s nothing that matches the sheer enjoyment of battling for first position across classic Mario Kart tracks. The online mode is spot on, with very little lag to speak of. Kicking back and blasting off turtle shells, drifting passed your rivals, being wiped out by a jumping fish, it’s always a beautiful experience. Pure, innocent, video game enjoyment. Mario Kart 8 stands out in a year that offered very few racers.     Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4/Xbox One/PC) The surprise hit of 2014, Shadow of Mordor was brilliant. It’s honestly refreshing to see a more mature take on Middle Earth, free from the restraints of the films. Shadow of Mordor took what other games had provided in the genre and perfected them, while adding the nifty Nemesis system. The concept of enemies increasing in power and political status via player/in-game actions, gave Shadow of Mordor a huge sense of depth. The Nemesis system works so well the player can use it to forge their own unique experience. The plot wasn’t much to talk about, the Nemesis system was the key to the games success. Players could share stories of how the system impact their experience, with each player normally having a different experience. The core gameplay as silky smooth, the combat near perfect. Shadow of Mordor was nothing short of fantastic.     Super Smash Bros (Wii U) Smash Bros is simply fun, in every sense of the word. The ultimate fan service, it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with the sheer chaos on screen. Nintendo know how to create fun video games, and Smash Bros is a perfect example of this. Easy to pick up, hard to master, there’s a hidden depth behind the game that keeps players coming back for more. There’s really not a whole lot to say about Smash Bros without repeating the word ‘fun’ about twenty times. There’s cases when you sit down to play a game and you can feel a smirk just engrave on your face, sheer joy, Smash Bros does that every time it boots up. The recent Amiibos give the game a more personal touch, as well as giving the game a unique ever growing scale of challenge.     Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) Oddly, Bayonetta 2 became the target of misplaced claims of sexism, denting some of the games hype. Agenda pushing and ignorance aside, Bayonetta 2 was the game the market needed, as a exclusive on a system no one expected at one point in time. Bayonetta 2 is possibly the best example of video games being sheer madness and fun. It’s hard not to crack a smile when summoning giant creatures to finish off even bigger bosses. There’s little to complain about throughout the experience, bar the slight reduction in challenge on normal mode. The wonderful gameplay that made Bayonetta a star in the first place returns in Bayonetta 2. It’s hard to find another game that matches such a fast pace with such tight controls that give the player a real sense of satisfaction. The set pieces are truly outstanding, often leaving the player in a sense of awe and wonder. In a world of super serious games, Bayonetta 2 was the perfect solution. One of the best games of 2014, even with unjustified accusations thrown at it.    ...

Hatred: Truly Disgusting? Or Overreaction

Hatred: Truly Disgusting? Or Overreaction

Hatred has generated discussion and debate since it’s trailer popped up online. Cries of disgust, condemning comments were made, customers created. The fact is, Hatred’s concept is taboo, it’s highly taboo in fact, and given the environment the game is being released into, it’s created a boiling pot of opinions. Some want the game to be banned, others argue that it’s just a game and should be released. There’s even a group of people who have became self appointed judges, claiming anyone who buys the game is ‘sick’ or ‘a bad person’. Hatred is slowly turning into the biggest game of 2015, but not for the traditional reasons. Given the current climate of gun crime, racial tension and general nastiness infesting modern society and the news, Hatred seems destined to be hated. The game’s trailer took the video game world by storm, lighting a fuse that most ‘small’ games could only dream of. The bleak, uneasy, trailer is nothing but a grime jaunt through a series of grisly imagery and murder scenes. It’s quite clear the trailer is trying to shock the viewer, it’s over the top…it’s exploitation. The concept of mowing down civilians and the police is nothing new to video games, it hasn’t been for sometime now, but the sense of ill will is what separates Hatred from other games. The lack of plot and direction is also a key point to why Hatred is different from say Grand Theft Auto. Gunning down civilians is a option in Grand Theft Auto, it’s not the main objective. Does this mean Hatred should be banned? No, of course not. It’s a form of entertainment, a dark form but a form never the less. Hatred is trying to push any agendas or beliefs, it’s not trying to question morality or ethics. Sure it’s content is distributing, and it’s hardly a game you’d introduce to someone whose not into video games, but the same could be said about various media. You’d hardly sit down and show someone you didn’t really know Cannibal Holocaust. Hatred is a niche game for a niche market, it’s certainly not to everyone tastes. The real problem with Hatred is how it’s highlighted a group of people who want it banned, and wish to judge all those who buy it as ‘bad’ people. Twitter has been full of various people condemning the game, it’s creators, and it’s would be customers. The fact that these people feel so enraged that there’s a number of people who don’t find thins game offensive is worrying. While the game is taboo, it’s not exactly forcing anyone to experiencing it. Hatred is hardly all over TV, printed media, website banners, it’s easily avoidable. Those wishing for it to be banned strike me as the type looking for another conquest to impose their tastes onto everyone else, and that’s worrying. The outrage would be understandable if Hatred was based upon a real life killer or event, but it’s not. Hatred is simply a video game, it’s there to be played (or not to be played) and nothing more. I’d submit the likes of Postal and Manhunt are far worse than anything seen in Hatred’s trailer. I’d submit there’s films, books, comics, TV, music/ music videos that have worse content in them. Hatred isn’t anything new, it’s violence isn’t anything new, oddly the outrage is…and it’s the perfect marketing tool. As fully grown adults, surely we’ve reached the point where we can decided what we want to play, and what we don’t want to play. Both sides have their valid points, vote with your wallets, not with your tweets.          ...

Amiibo Wave Two: Chaos At Retail, Profit On E-bay

Amiibo Wave Two: Chaos At Retail, Profit On E-bay

There’s utter chaos, no one knows exactly what is going, or why it’s happening. It’s hit like a ton of bricks, leaving people confused, disappointed, just searching for a answer. The second wave of Amiibos has hit, and the retail space has went crazy. While the official EU release isn’t till the 19/12/2014, GAME have been flogging them since mid last week, at a inflated price. Pre-orders for wave two started being processed this week, but most orders have been cancelled without explanation. GAME customers were treated to as e-mail informing them of a refund, but that’s it. Zavvi customer had the same, with a few customers being told it was down to a ‘price change’.   It’s left a lot of people in a desperate rush to try and find a site/store to get their Amiibos from. While some of wave two are easy enough to acquire, there’s a few Amiibos that have already became rare. Little Mac and Pit have already became the ‘must owns’ of wave two, and the retail space reflects that. Both Amiibos are either listed as sold out, or aren’t listed at all. Little Mac is currently on e-bay, with bids hitting upwards of £35. The average customer/collector is increasingly falling under the hammer of the ‘e-bayer’. The guy/girl who buys a item purely with the means to sell them at a spiked price. The Amiibo has became the ultimate e-bayer item, and given retail seem all to willing to spike their prices as well. The consumer is at the mercy of spiked prices and sharp e-bayers, this in itself threatens the whole concept of Amiibos. As each wave becomes a target of e-bayers, the chances of getting a full collection (without paying far above the items value) become slimmer and slimmer. It’s a genuine shame, but it was always to be expected. With retailers seemingly unable to be reliable, or even consistent with pricing, the Amiibo may be a victim of it’s own success....

UK Retailer GAME Increases Amiibo Prices

UK Retailer GAME Increases Amiibo Prices

Nintendo’s Amiibo line has hit the ground running. The figures are flying out of shops, with some of the ‘rarer’ ones entering ending up on e-bay and Amazon at a inflated price. The rumors and murmurs around some of the less popular characters being discontinued has spiked the market. The likes of The Villager and The Wii Fit Trainer have increased in value by a few pounds, while Marth has nearly doubled in value. With the collectors community going a bit mad over the Amiibos, UK retailer GAME have decided to spike the market themselves, by increasing their original £11.99 asking price to £14.99. This price increase only affects in-store prices, with the online asking price staying at £10.99. The question is, beyond trying to make easy extra money, why have GAME done this?   The question is easily answered from a business perspective, it’s a easy way to increase a stores profit with no effort required. It’s a solid reason, but when you take into account the time of year and the customers entering the store, things get a little off ethically. Stores everywhere will be visited by people who don’t spend much time looking into the video game industry. Be it parents, family or loved ones, a large portion of them will enter a store with little to no knowledge of what the going rate is. The desire to make sure Christmas shopping is done as quickly, and effectively, as possible is always the main goal of this shopping period. This is where customer service enters the fray, the key link between knowledge and a customer. GAME are supposed to be there to advise it’s customers, with the aim to sell products to them. As a large business, you’d expect to them to be consistent with their prices. The manner in which GAME suddenly increased the Amiibo asking price feels a little shady, even more so given their stock numbers rarely appear to be depleted. As customer buy the new Amiibos for the ‘new’ price of £14.99, they are never advised on the online price of £10.99. There’s a argument that it’s the customers job to look for the best price around, but on the flip side it’s the retailers job to least be honest with their customer,s not actively spike up a market for the sake of a few pound. GAME have history of doing this back with Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate. The release day price was £39.99, GAME were asking for £59.99, and even changed the online price to reflect this after it became clear the game had a small initial shipment in the UK. After looking into this, a local branch of GAME had went from having one copy on the shelf to having a number of them, all equipped with that new £59.99 sticker.   This is the kind of behavior you’d expect from a independent store, but from a huge retail chain? Not so much. It’s disconcerting when you sit back and think the amount of (for examples sake) parents who will be paying extra for literally no reason. The complete second wave of Amiibos will cost £65.94 if bought online on GAME’s site, in-store customers will be paying £89.94. While online prices normally differ from a few pound to that of the in-store price, GAME are just taking it to the extreme. From charging £11.99 one week to £14.99 the next, GAME are simply exploiting the fan fare around the Amiibos, as well as the less knowledgeable customers. Where will the price spiking stop? If Nintendo do discontinue a Amiibo, does this mean retailers such as GAME will hike up the price ‘just in case’?  It’s worrying that GAME are seemingly willing to spike up the prices in such a manner. There’s little to no excuse for the price change, the same way there was no excuse for their attempt to rip off and lie to customers with the Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate situation. Bottom line, don’t hand over your money to GAME without doing a little research, especially with Amiibos....

The Double Edged Sword Of The Fighter Genre

The Double Edged Sword Of The Fighter Genre

With the recent reveal of Street Fighter V, I decided to look back on my experiences with the fighter genre. It’s a harsh genre, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The fighting game genre has always been a harsh mistress to me. For every happy memory I have of the genre there’s about 3 bad memories that shortly follow. From a young age I became interested in the fighter genre. My first experience with the genre was (unsurprisingly) Capcoms Street Fighter 2 on the Super Nintendo. From the first minute of the game I was hooked. The characters looked visually interesting, the environments dazzling and the action thrilling. Playing solo was fun but lets face it, fighters are meant to be played against people and not AI. Playing Street Fighter 2 against friends (and some times family) is still one of my most treasured video game memories. Booting up the game and selecting our favourite characters before arguing over which level to fight in was tradition. Button mashing in a desperate panic was also tradition. In the process of pressing all the buttons in any given order a special move would normally be unleashed, leaving me and buddy in a stunned silence. ”HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!” was often the question on our lips, and the answer to that question was ALWAYS ”no idea’. Even with a limited knowledge of the game and its controls each match was always a great slice of fun. These sweet natured days were numbered however as I began to grow up.     As time went on and I played more and more fighters, my longing for victory became stronger. Button mashing was no longer a style I felt happy to use, it had become ‘messy’. Instead I would try a few characters out and learn the move sets. By time I came into possession of Dreamcast I had a decent amount of knowledge of Soulcalibur. I wasn’t a master by any means but I had learned at least a few moves for each character. Suddenly playing against friends had become more of a practice session than just a few games in the name of fun. Losing felt a lot worse, victory felt less meaningful, it was a strange feeling. For the most part I would be able to take down most of my friends, this resulted in the game becoming a little boring to play for them. Understanding the game had ultimately led to the ‘fun’ of the game being drained away.   The likes of Capcom Vs SNK, Street Fighter 3 alpha and Marvel Vs Capcom had returned all the fun of fighters. I applied a much more laid back approach to these fighters in order to keep the game fun for my friends to play against me. By this time in our lives we preferred to learn the game rather than button mash, this led to competitive, but fun, matches. It seemed the perfect middle ground and a great time to enjoy some top class fighting games. The enjoyment of the genre (and fighting friends) hit its peek with Marvel Vs Capcom 2. Given the popularity of the PS2 all of my friends owned the system and Marvel Vs Capcom 2. This allowed everyone to stand a fair chance of learning the game and forming an effective team. Many a battle was fought, plenty a laugh was had, this was the highlight of my time with the fighter genre. There was always a giddy feeling when it came to each team being down to their last member. A single hit would decide the match, the aftermath involved boasting and looking back at the action.    I had went from casual matches with friends that were all about the fun to competitive games of knowledge and technique. One day (well when I got my own computer) I just stopped playing fighters. From 2004 to 2008 I honestly cant remember playing a fighter for more than a few days. I kept a eye on the genre, watched it develop, but I never got back into the swing of things. 2009 saw the return of the franchise that started it all for me, I am of course referring to street Fighter. The fourth entry into the franchise was a first day purchase for me. After a first few runs on arcade I decided to hit up the online options. This is where things got rough. A large segment of players from overseas had been playing Street Fighter 4 for roughly a week. This week earlier release date had created a huge divide it terms of player skill. Time after time I was matched up with players who had already learned the mechanics and moves of a number of characters. My arse was getting well and truly kicked. I was now feeling the way my friends did when they used to play Soulcalibur against me, it wasn’t fun. I tried to learn the game, learn some strategies but alas my efforts were met with more defeats. Only a few of my friends had bought Street Fighter 4, this limited my chances of just casual fun matches. When they did happen, more often than not, I’d end up winning purely because I had learned some easy moves of a certain character. My friends soon began to grow tired of playing me and I was once again forced into playing online. While I did improve my overall play the huge gulf in skill and experience was too much to overcome. I enjoyed Street Fighter 4 a lot, I kept it in my collection in order to play when friends came over or my father fancied a game. Online I was nothing short of a easy win for any given player. For a large length of time I kept my activity within the fighter genre strictly offline. Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat (reboot…or 9 as some wish to label it) became my fighters of choice. While Marvel Vs Cacpom 3 was a little light in terms of content Mortal Kombat was jam packed. With plenty to do in terms of single player I was more than happy to play Mortal Kombat offline. The lure of playing online is hard to resist however, and yet again I found myself being beat down by veterans. All the enjoyment I had experienced with Mortal Kombat offline was now being replaced with defeat and defeat. The sheer amount of spam I became the victim of was heart breaking. Seeing Stryker spam his ranged attacks over and over killed my motivation to play Mortal Kombat online, it was nothing short of brutal. I was awful at the game, but my lack of enjoyment online killed any motivation to improve.     Fast forward to EVO 2012. I’m sitting at my desk browsing Twitch TV, and I’m once again interested in fighters. After watching the majority of the Marvel Vs Capcom 3 tournament my interest in the game re-surged. I knew for a fact I was going to lose, and lose hard, but either way I was going to try my hand at the online portion of the game. My assumptions were proved to be correct, I did in fact get my arse kicked, but I didn’t mind. I oddly didn’t mind losing, my competitive nature had taken a back seat. With my rediscovered relax nature towards the game I began to sit and learn….how to lose. While defeat is never fun it did allow me to experiment and tinker with my team selection. Before I knew it I was presenting a viable challenge to some players, some times even winning. The thrill of the fighter genre rushed back, everything I remembered had returned. In a moment of nostalgia I dragged my father into a game and began to play. It was like being young again playing Street Fighter 2 for the first time.   My love affair with the genre had been long and eventful. It had highs and lows, at times I had fallen out with the genre only to make up with it some time later. Learning to handle defeat is key to enjoying the fighter game genre, expecting victory is a recipe for frustration. Remembering why I loved the genre in the first place was key to recapturing the thrill, enjoyment and fun that I had all but lost.  ...

Square-Enix & The Problematic Final Fantasy 7 Fail Safe

Square-Enix & The Problematic Final Fantasy 7 Fail Safe

Oh Square-Enix, how the mighty fall…then get back up again and stumble around a bit. As someone who grew up, partly at least, playing JRPGS, Square-Enix played a large part on my video game playing life. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 7,8 and 9, Dragons Quest, Final Fantasy Tactics. The game that stands out most in that line up (not for me, but for most people) is Final Fantasy 7. the ‘classic’. Final Fantasy 7 went beyond the realms of being ‘just another game’, it’s constantly being brought back up when ever a discussion on JRPGs occurs. It’s celebrated as a crowning moment in RPG history, Square-Enix’s history and the video game industry as a whole. It’s impossible to deny the impact the game had, regardless of personal feelings towards the game. The problem is, Square-Enix never seemed to get out of the shadow of Final Fantasy 7, be it in their video games or in their general approach to business. Before the release of Final Fantasy 7, the franchise tended to jump around in terms of tone and characters. You’d be reassured that every time you sat down to play a Final Fantasy game, you’d be meeting a whole host of new, interesting, characters. That changed with the success of Final Fantasy 7. The ‘dark, brooding’ character came into fashion and flashed in and out of the franchise ever since. This was especially true with the character of Squall, the floppy fringed student who was never happy and always ‘conflicted’. While Final Fantasy 8 wasn’t a bad game (truth be told, I prefer it over 7) it always felt like it was in the shadow of Final Fantasy 7, trying to maintain some of the traits of its predecessor.   The real issue with Final Fantasy 7′s success is the way in which it has been handled. No longer is it a jewel in the crown of Square-Enix, it’s now a quick buck, a means to stay relevant without the effort. The best example of this being the recent reveal of Final Fantasy 7 being thrown onto the PS4. No additions, changes or anything of the like, it’s the same old thing we’ve had thrown around for years now. Do Square-Enix owe their fans any HD version of Final Fantasy 7? no, but they do owe their fans a decent port. It reeks of laziness when the same old version of the game is thrown around, across various formats for multiple years. It’s yet another ‘quick buck’ move from Square which leaves a sour taste in the mouth of it’s fans, who’ve endured quite lot of sours tastes with Square the last few years. After the train wreck that was Final Fantasy 14, since fixed after a re-launch, and the ‘meh’ feelings towards Final Fantasy 13 and it’s spin-offs, Square could do with some positive vibes. It’s not like Square and incapable of doing good re-releases, just look at Final Fantasy X & X2.   Square wouldn’t constantly bring back Final Fantasy 7 if it wasn’t bringing in the money. The sheer love towards the game will naturally bring a solid amount of customers in, which is arguably part of the problem. Whenever Square run into problems, be it cash related or multiple games being delayed, they fall back to releasing Final Fantasy 7. It’s frustrating to see them do this yet again, even more so in the manner it was announced. A quick run onto the stage followed by a trailer and some extremely broken English. It’s almost like Square don’t even care that they look lazy these days. Square don’t seem happy with cheapening the modern Final Fantasy franchise, they seem hell bent on cheapening the past glories as well.    ...

Street Fighter V’s Exclusivity Is Far From A Bad Thing

Street Fighter V’s Exclusivity Is Far From A Bad Thing

The recent news that Street Fighter V will be a PS4/PC exclusive has left some feeling a bit..frustrated. The frustration seemingly coming from how the reveal came out of no where. It’s a surprising move given Capcom seemed to be in the Microsoft camp given the exclusive release of Dead Rising 3. Like It or not, Street Fighter V is a massive feather in Sony’s cap, but it’s not all doom and gloom for those invested into one system. The reaction to Street Fighter V, or least some of it, would lead you to believe the Xbox One has no fighters…which is far from the truth. The Xbox One boasts one of the best exclusives on the market in the shape of Killer Instinct. While the brand power of Killer Instinct may not be as relevant as Street Fighter, the quality is still there. Killer Instinct offers a unique fighting experience, there isn’t anything truly like it on the market, bar the originals.   It’s disappointing that such a great game has seemingly been forgotten. There’s a slight hope that the hype around Street Fighter V will indirectly shed a little light back on the mega combo fighter. There’s questions over just how exclusive Street Fighter V is. With Capcom known for releasing various editions of pretty much every Street Fighter. it’s not yet clear if future (for examples sake let’s say Super Street Fighter V) versions would be tied down to the PS4/PC. The exclusivity of Street Fighter V make sense, especially for Capcom. The growth of the PS4 player base, combined with Sony’s strong presence in the Asian market, make the deal a smart move for a struggling Capcom. With Sony partly funding the game, the pressure to perform is taken off Capcom slightly. Perks like cross-platform play (as seen with the likes of Final Fantasy 14) would also, at leas you’d suspect, be another reason why Capcom and Sony have teamed up.   It’s hardly a deal made in spite that some corners of the community are trying to suggest, far from it. A solid business decision that allows Capcom to carry on without worrying (too much) about their struggles of late. It’s a slick move by Sony, and perhaps a ploy become the system of choice for Fighting game events such as Evo, that gives the PS4 extra appeal. ‘For The Players’, the current ethos of Sony, Street Fighter V fits into that ethos perfectly, and potentially opens up opportunities for plenty of tournaments and events. As for Street Fighter V it’s self, the gameplay trailer looks utterly fantastic. The sheer vibrancy on screen gives of a genuine sense of progression and evolution. It’s hard to judge a game based off 1 minute and 29 seconds of footage, but by god did Capcom mange to craft a trailer that got the hype train rolling. It’ll be interesting to see what Street Fighter V ships with. Hopefully none of Capcom’s shady practices of on disc DLC will rear it’s ugly head. With the streaming capability of the PS4, it’s fair the expect a fully fledged spectator mode, making the game perfect for day one community based tournaments. Details will trustingly follow once the dust settles, but the hype has undoubtedly started, and Sony adds another big game to their arsenal.    ...

Nintendo: The Classic Alternative To Modern Games

Nintendo: The Classic Alternative To Modern Games

Looking at the shelves of a local video game store, I began to wonder what had changed. All these new releases, all of them boasting how cinematic they are, how much of a visual delight they promise to be. All I could see were titles with guns and peoples back on the box art, and the odd sports game. While the cinematic video game experience is a wonder to behold, with the likes of Uncharted leading the way, it does beg the question of what ever happened to ‘fun’ games? Hidden away, in the corner of the store, hides the Nintendo consoles, most notably the Wii U. This section of the store was the only place where I could see games promising fun, inviting me to play, not just to experience. Seeing this corner of joy made me stand back and think about the role Nintendo has in the current market. While Nintendo may not be seen as ‘one of the next generation’ at this point in time, it hasn’t stopped them producing the best video game experience of this year. Nintendo is the alternative to the modern market, the place to go to simply enjoy video games as entertainment, a company that reminds us of the core value of video games has always been, fun.   It’s not that I don’t appreciate the tone of modern video games, far from it, it’s more that I’ve became jaded with the ‘gritty cinematic experience’ most games seem to pimp out at the moment. This is where Nintendo fit in nicely, I can simply sit down and play. There’s no prolonged cut scenes dishing out generic plot twists, no clumsy attempts to make a statement on today’s society, just gameplay and laughs. It’s oddly refreshing to sit down with the likes of Bayonetta 2 or Super Smash Bros and dive into the action straight away. Start and play, a notion that is increasingly becoming more rare in modern times. Nintendo have always had the ability to craft video games that breakaway from trends and go back to the basics. While taking part in mass battles in the likes of Call of Duty or Battlefield is a thrilling experience, there’s nothing better than jumping into the latest Mario or Legend of Zelda. There’s a undeniable sense of joy that comes with each game, each level, each race, each Smash, each chest opened, it’s unmatched. It’s these moments that remind me why I enjoy video games, why I still bother with them after all these years.   As video games continue to evolve into more immersive experiences, more engaging and cinematic, Nintendo stand as a beacon of light, a powerful reminder that fun often trumps flashy visuals, or the latest gimmick. It’s impressive, though some would say unambitious, that Nintendo have remained true to their core values for all these years, it’s even more impressive that they continue to stay relevant. As 2014 comes to close, I can sit back and appreciate Nintendo for supplying all the joys that most modern video games have seemingly forgotten.  ...

Bayonetta 2: Packing The Soul 2014 Forgot

Bayonetta 2: Packing The Soul 2014 Forgot

2014 has been a hit or miss year for video games, at least from a personal point of view. There’s a number of big releases that have felt a little soulless. While the production values may be top notch on the likes of Watch Dogs, EA UFC and the Evil Within, the games never felt like they had much character. Does this make them bad games? Not really, but it does make them rather forgettable. A video game with charm and character can easily overcome it’s bigger issues, be it a technical issue or something less serious. In the crowd of mature, gritty and challenging titles comes the sheer joys of Bayonetta 2. Bright, bold, beautiful and nothing but sheer fun. It’s a stark reminder to why many people enjoy video games to begin with, Bayonetta 2 just wants to entertain, nothing more, nothing less. Bayonetta 2 contains all the charm of the first, the laughs, the ‘wtf’ moments, it’s all here with added finesse. The franchise has felt like a love letter to video games while progressing the genre.   From the first second, till the last, Bayonetta 2 keeps a cheeky smirk on the players face. While the game is technically sound, it’s the central character Bayonetta that keeps the game moving with a sense of glee. Her personality is infections, each line filled with a mixture of confidence and almost comedic tones. Without the character, the game would lose most of its charm leaving it feeling another just another video game. The Mary Poppins of Witchcraft, Bayonetta unexpectedly broke out to become a modern video game icon, and Bayonetta 2 pushes her even further. Combine the charm of the character with the tight controls and over the top nature of the game and it’s a perfect storm. It’s hard not to feel invested in the game, it’s almost impossible not to have fun in some shape or form. The amount of action going on, the creativity with each move and combo, it’s a true spectacle to behold. Even after the blitz of next generation hype, the simple nature of Bayonetta 2 blows everything out of the water. In a industry which has seemingly forgotten ‘fun’, Bayonetta 2 feels like a breath of fresh air. There’s no hidden meanings, there’s no depressing moral choices, no attempts at making the player feel sympathetic, it’s just simple video game thrills....

Destiny – A Few Minor Changes, For The Greater Good

Destiny – A Few Minor Changes, For The Greater Good

With sometime passing after Destiny’s launch, after many hours put into the game across various planets, strikes and loot caves, it seems like it’s a good time to reflect. Destiny may have a number of issues, chief of which being a lack of matchmaking and varied content, it’s time to focus on the smaller issues. These issues aren’t exactly major, but would improve the game enough to be worthy of mentioning. Destiny plays, sounds, and looks fantastic, but these are few changes I’d like to see just give the game that little extra quality.   And no, matchmaking will not be mentioned, it’s already been discussed here.     More varied Weapon Skins/Sounds -   While Exotics all look unique, and rightly so, the lesser quality items all look far too similar. It’s a truly minor gripe but it has a profound effect on the game visually. Getting your grubby hands on a Legendary just to see how similar it looks to a rare weapon is a little soul destroying, even more so when it’s a weapon earned via reputation and marks. The lack of variety in weapon sounds is also a nagging complaint. It would be nice to hear how heavy certain guns sound, listen to them bellow out proudly. These issues could easily be fixed as time goes on and more content/items are added, here’s to hoping that proves to be the case.   Clans -   Clans/guilds have long been a staple of multiplayer games, and Destiny includes them..kinda. Players can join clans by visiting Bungie’s site and signing up to clans via their pages. There is little to no clan business in the actual game bar the name appearing on the players banner. It’s a little confusing that a game with a focus on joining other players to tackles tasks has basically no clan options. Simply adding a list of clan members in the in-game menu would at least allow players to see whose online and what they are up to. The addition of in-game clan list would also help form fire teams, feeding into the social experience Destiny flirts with. A simple issue to fix, but it does beg the question why didn’t it ship with more in depth clan features.   Communication -   At the present moment, players are restricted to either dancing, pointing, saluting or sitting as a means to communicate in game. With no voice chat, or quick text, there’s no way to talk to other players within the game. Players often bump into each other in wild, they exchanges glances, awkwardly selecting a emote, and then they move on. A local proximity voice chat would be a welcome addition to the game. ‘Hey are you doing this mission/bounty? Want to party up?’ the game suddenly becomes a much more social experience instead of a lonely existence that happens to feature some voiceless faces. Not all players will want to voice chat, making the voice chat a opt in/out option would be a safe bet to keep everyone happy.   No More Defending Ghosts -   Destiny plays extremely well, it’s gameplay is on point. The problem is, the mission structure does very little to make the most of the silky smooth gameplay. From the first hour till the 200th hour, players are sent to go to a object and deploy their Ghost, every time. It would be nice to have some variation put into the missions, be it story or patrol. While shooting waves upon waves of enemies is fun to start off with, after all new guns freshen it up, it becomes a little dragged out after a while. This is another issues that will probably be fixed with the expansions. It’s hard to see Bungie coming out with two new batches of content all featuring the same mission structure, or at least one would hope so.   Let Me Know More About Me -   The character page is a little lacking. While it looks nice and neat, the lack displayed stats and faction reputation is a little bit irritating. Destiny features a strong focus on grinding in it’s end game, be it reputation or marks. It boggles the mind why a player’s current reputation with a faction is not displayed in the menus. The act of flying back to the tower just to see your reputation becomes extremely drawn out. Instead of players finding out their reputation at vendors, put it on their character sheets, add it as a experience bar. It’s a quality of life addition that makes it a lot more easier to plot faction progression.   Customization -   Amour, sparrows, space ships, weapons, the players closest friends in Destiny. While this is mostly a wish rather than a realistic change, more customization options would be brilliant. From my experience, a lot of players are starting to look the same. There’s only so many times you can see the same helmet and armor combinations before thinking it’s a uniform. The ability to customize amour (beyond shaders) would be a nifty little touch. Adding marks to armor, showcasing that players experiences and achievements, seems like a no brainier. Changing up the visual looks of ship and sparrows would also be a welcomed addition. Beat Vault of Glass? Why not show off the fact by adding a design or trophy onto the ship/sparrow?      ...

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