Video Games / Editorials

Video Game Merchandise: Too Much, Too Soon?

Video Game Merchandise: Too Much, Too Soon?

With every new game release, be it a popular franchise or a new IP, there’s a wave of merchandise. From posters, to books, to action figures and vinyl, the range of merchandise is staggering. It’s struck me as bizarre that some brand new properties launch with extensive amounts of merchandise behind them. Given that they are new to the market, and don’t have a established fan base, I’ve always wondered if it’s a case of misplaced confidence. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, mostly with the release of Evolve. The game has already spawned a line of Funko Pop Vinyl, as well as a Legacy collection of figures. I never quite understood placing a sizable investment into a franchise that is so new. There’s no established fan base, there’s no reputation to fall back on, it’s a big risk.   Evolve hasn’t exactly set the world on fire., With a heavy focus on DLC, and being online only, it’s not exactly the mammoth game I suspect both Take 2m and Funko,expected it to be. Titanfall is another game that went all in on the merchandise front. Clothing, accessories, licensed controllers and headset, Mega Bloks and Play Arts, that’s a lot for a new franchise. People must have been lining up with offers to purchase Titanfall related merchandise, but less than 6 months after the game’s release, the online player base has significantly shrunk. The stock contained within each of these games must surely be detrimental to how it’s related merchandise is licensed. If a game’s appeal/player base dies down, or the game flops, does this paint video games as a risky mark for companies? The likes of NECA have met a certain degree of failure with their Left 4 Dead line of figures. While the figures themselves were amazing quality, at a fair price, the low sales numbers resulted in the line ending after only two releases.   I often see a wealth of video merchandise stuck on the shelves for month,s if not years, with no one ever buying them. A local store has held the same Assassin’s Creed figures for years now. Titanfall and Call of Duty Ghost clothing lines a local game store, with no one ever paying attention to them. While video games are main stream, the appeal of it’s merchandise is seemingly not, at least in general. Ubisoft is a company that has seemingly went to great lengths to release their games along side huge amounts of merchandise. The release day of Unity at my local GAME store resulted in the whole shop being decked out in figures, clothes, posters, calenders and statues based on the game. The sheer amount of Unity related items on sale was mind blowing, especially seems the game had only just came out. It felt like Ubisoft assumed the game would be a staggering success, and the merchandise would sell well, after all it’s an established fan base. Unity, as we know now, was a broken mess of a game. With various game breaking bugs, and a obvious lack of polish, I began to link the release of the merchandise and the game. Was Unity rushed out to meet the same time frame as the merchandise? If so, who made that decision? Ubisoft? Pressure from the merchandise producers? It all felt a little too convenient. After some reflection on the topic, I’m still curious to how merchandise deals pan out for new franchises. Whose money is at risk? How do they calculate the investment, the risk and reward? Do people even want merchandise to buy along side their new franchises? Each new Triple A franchise is seemingly coming with more and more pre-planned merchandise. It all carries a lick of over confidence, an assumption the said game will be a long term success.    ...

The Middle Ground: Average Is Not A Bad Thing

The Middle Ground: Average Is Not A Bad Thing

The Order 1886 has exposed some truly odd corners of video game culture. While the game it’s self is a enjoyable technical achievement, burdened with dated gameplay, the reaction to it has been fierce. It’s been a long time since a game has earned such a ray of reviews and reactions. From the frankly ridiculous, to the utterly ignorant, The Order 1886 has truly exposed some worrying trends. Review scores, and not the review’s content, have became their own monster. Users have looked straight at a number and declared ‘bullshit’. It’s a sad state of affairs when a number is seen as the focal point, instead of the praise and criticisms featured in said review. It’s all about the number, and it’s all about matching every reader’s number they have store in their heads.   The bloated review score culture has truly consumed the mindset of some. Gone are the days that 6,7 and 8 out 10 was seen as a decent game. If it’s not 9/10, then it MUST be bad, this is the modern logic of many. This culture has been growing for sometime now, even more so with the growing influence of publishers on big name sites. There’s a undeniable sense of mistrust between big websites like IGN and Gamespot and the reader. This mistrust has been brewing for years , and is seemingly at it’s peek due to the events in 2014. When a game is reviewed, be it by a professional or a hobbyist (like myself), the score is the main thing people look at it. The content of the review is often disregarded, mainly so the reader can express their disgust/praise and if they agree/disagree with the score. The fact that a large number of people refuse to accept anything below a top end mark is a damning review is a problem. Not every game is good, not every game is bad. Much like any form of entertainment, media or art, there’s good, bad and the middle ground.   A game can be enjoyable, flawed, but adequate. Not everything on the market is the ‘next big thing’ or the next masterpiece. Ignorance towards this fact is seemingly rife. In the modern video game culture, there is no middle ground. Now my problem with this trend is not the illogical comments posted on reviews, or the sheer venom some express, but the fact it’s a disservice to the games. Subscribing to such a narrow train of thought results in a person missing out on a lot of games. Not every game is a top notch experience, but most games offer a different experience. There’s a wealth of games that have reviewed poorly to fairly, and yet I’ve utterly enjoyed them. Our mindset as children, when it comes to the games we play, is the best mindset to have. As young kids we played anything and everything, and we found things we enjoyed. Being so heavily concerned with a review score blinds us to the experiences on offer.     There is a duty attached to reviewing on any level. That duty is to be honest, subjective and refrain from being biased. Praise what works, criticise what does not, stay honest and subjective, not emotional. Maintaining a balanced field is key, it’s near impossible to be subjective about anything and use such a black and white scale as ‘good or bad’. Not every game is a masterpiece, nor is it garbage, allow people to express this. The middle ground exists, allow it to exist. Drop the bizarre notion that anything not given a high number is therefore ‘bad’. Bloated review scores don’t have to be the norm.  ...

The Playstation Vita: From Promise To Peripherals

The Playstation Vita: From Promise To Peripherals

The Playstation Vita is honestly one of the most curious products I’ve ever witness launch in the video game industry. After a decent marketing campaign, with various appearances across a number of events, the Vita launched. I purchased the system a day after it’s release, mostly as a ‘New job’ treat. The Vita instantly impressed me. The sleek design, the beautiful screen and visuals, the nifty bits and bobs, I loved it all. It remains as the best hand-held, at least technically, I’ve owned. The problem is, the Vita never quite fulfilled it’s potential. The release calender of Vita games was often quiet, mostly populated by ports of games I’d already played. The likes of Rogue Legacy, Child of Light and Hotline Miami fitted the system perfectly. Even though the games were a good fit, it always felt like the Vita was missing it’s own unique library. As time went on, the system hosted more quality ports of games released on the consoles. It wasn’t a bad thing, far from it, but It never felt like a ‘big’ release for the Vita. Buyers remorse never fully set in, mostly thanks to the likes of Persona 4: Golden,Gravity Rush and Wipeout. While Persona 4 was a re-release, it felt like a genuinely big deal for the Vita. Gravity Rush went mostly under the radar, but was a utter joy to play. The rare case of a Vita game making full use of the technology, Gravity Rush remains as a jewel in the Vita’s delicate crown. To their credit, Sony tried to put some fire in the belly of the Vita by pumping it with more ‘western friendly’ games. Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified, Resistance: Burning Skies and Killzone: Mercenary all hit the system. Big name franchises with wide spread appeal in the West, it made perfect sense. The quality of the games ranged from decent, to utterly awful. Resistance: Burning Skies, while not terrible, was a pretty basic experience. Flashes of promise were present, but these cases were few and far between. The controls and gameplay were adequate, but extremely standard. The overall experience felt uninspired and ultimately forgettable. Black Ops: Declassified was a huge failure, for a number of reasons. God awful AI, fiddly gameplay, dull visuals and a bare basic single player, all of it resulted in a truly vile experience. Killzone: Mercenary was the game the Vita needed to prove it could handle first person shooters. Gameplay wise, Killzone nailed everything it needed to. With a experience that didn’t feel too different from what you’d expect to play on the consoles, Killzone: Mercenary was a true success. The whole first person shooter experiment seemingly ended with Killzone, while the game was the best shooter on the system, it’s poor sales resulted in the end of any potential follow up. The Vita’s attempts to seduce the West with video games decreased over time. The system became the home of more quirky and Japanese titles. The Vita’s presence and relevance started to drop, Sony’s approach to Vita changed, with the system being touted for it’s features and remote play, rather than it’s own video games. It’s weird how things turn out. When the Vita was nearing it’s launch, I recall a number of GAME stores hosting Vita booths. The booths were big, loud and proud, with a number of people buzzing around them. Fast forward to 2015, the booths are gone, but the Vita is still there. Sony’s little black beauty is still present and playable…as peripheral to the PS4. Neatly tucked under Sony’s latest machine, the Vita has found a home on the PS4 booth, as a third controller.   Sony’s decision to present the Vita in the retail space like this is not surprising, but it’s still a little bit sad. The Vita had all the power, all the features and all the promise to go onto great things. While the Vita still has it’s place in the industry, it’s no where near the place it could, and should, be in. Seemingly demoted to nothing but a PS4 accessory, the Vita will forever be the system that fell short of it’s potential.  ...

Don’t Feel Sorry For Peter Molyneux

Don’t Feel Sorry For Peter Molyneux

When Peter Molyneux said he no longer had a reputation in the video industry, I wasn’t sure how to react. Part of me felt sorry for him, a fallen icon baring all to the internet. The cynical side of me disagreed with his claims, and wondered if it was all a front. I respect Peter Molyneux for his achievements, but a part of me can’t help but think his downfall was his own doing. Peter Molyneux’s reputation has long been more of a joke, rather than esteemed. After a string of empty promises and awful games, it was hard to take Molyneux’s words seriously. His ambition is what defined him, and it always will, but in his later years, it was nothing but words. While Black & White 2 was a hot mess, the Fable franchise is perhaps the best example of decline of Molyneux’s image and reputation.   Heavy promises, huge ambitions and a large scale marketing campaign, Fable was meant to be the next big thing. In reality, Fable never hit the lofty heights Molyneux promised it would. While the first two entries were decent, the third was awful. It’s rare a game will fall victim to being overly designed, Fable 3 was a utter wreck. Simplified controls, simplified gameplay, scaled back in length and depth, Fable 3 was the first true stinker branded with Molyneux’s name. The menu system is perhaps the best example of Molyneux’s ambition detracting from a game. The concept was good in theory, a hub in which the player could access everything they would ever need to access. In practice, it was a series of loading screens, frustration and convoluted methods to do simple things. The ambition did not match the execution, the menus became a main criticism of the game (a long with a long list of flaws) and Fable 3 faltered. As the series went on, from Fable 1 through to 3, the goals and promises became grander and grander. Promises were rarely met, design flaws and limitations were present and clear in each entry, it’s what Peter Molyneux became known for. While his past works, such as Populous and Syndicate, were always hailed as classics, Molyneux never quite regained his prestige. With his new reputation, Peter Molyneux seemed to embrace his ability of talking up a concept, only for it to never materialize. It’s odd that such a respected figure was so willing to take up a mantle, a mantle that came with a lot of parody and jokes. Molyneux was, at a time, one of the key voices in pushing Kinect, at the time known as Project Natal. Project Milo, headed by Molyneux, was a core element to Microsoft’s E3 2009 showing. Looking back at it, it’s hard to identify what was fact, and what was fiction. The Milo demo was supposed to be a glimpse into what Natal could do. Milo reacted to the ‘player’, the ‘player’ reacted to Milo. A game that interacted with the player in the same way the player interacts with everyday people, it was groundbreaking. The problem is, Milo never came true, it remained as a ‘demo’ at E3 2009. Perhaps Milo was nothing more than the projections of what Molyneux wished Natal could be. What ever way you look at it, ‘Milo’ was another case of Molynuex not delivering. Kinect/ Project Natal marks a curious point in Molyneux’s career. From ground breaking ambitions and promises, to a on rails Kinect spin-off of Fable. A piece of Hardware that Molyneux once showed off as the next big thing, was now the home of a medicore on rails shooter. The promises did not match the products. It casts a light on just how much the consumer could take seriously when Molyneux spoke. His words were once gospel, now people took them with a grain of salt.   After severing connections with Microsoft, Molyneux then went on to found his own studio, 22 Cans, as well becoming more vocal in the industry. With no ties to Microsoft, Molyneux declared Kinect ‘a joke’, which would of meant more if it wasn’t for the fact he was praising it less than 4 years ago. Adopting a pundit like role, Molyneux appeared across various video game sites. His comments on other games and tech often made little sense, nor were they relevant. The man once respected world wide for his ambitious creations, was now sat talking nonsense, with the robotic Ijustine. His decline continued with the announcement of Curiosity. Listed as a ‘experimental’ video game, the reaction to it’s announcement was met with sheer confusion. As hard as he tried, very few people understood the concept, or the point, of Curiosity. The game boiled down to people clicking some blocks, with one ‘lucky winner’ earning themselves a special prize. The prize was won, and not many people cared. The prize was a Youtube video and a promise of being the sole ‘all-powerful god’ within 22 Cans next game. Curiosity was not a game, nor was it a experiment, it was just a piece of marketing for 22 Cans. The final nail in the coffin was Godus. Molyneux, yet again, promised the world…and then jumped ship. After a successful Kickstarter in 2012, Godus missed various pledge goals and perks. The game, even in 2015, is barely finished. It’s a bare bones version of a game that hides behind pay walls and smoke and mirrors. The final Kickstarter hit a lofty £526,563, a heck a lot of money, and the game is still in a state of development to this day. 22 Cans have went on to say that they ”probably” won’t be able to make good on a number of promises they had previously made. The worst part of the whole Godus affair is the Molyneux’s behavior. Having failed to produce anything of note, people began to become rightly annoyed with Godus and 22 Cans. Instead of explaining why promises had not been met, Molyneux said things like ”I take the bullying for the sake of making a great game”. As time went on, Molyneux started to blame Kickstarter, calling the crowd funding site a ‘destructive force‘. With his reputation and game in tatters, Molyneux did the honorable thing…he jumped ship and started working on something new.   From industry icon, to arguably a con merchant, Peter Molyneux damaged his name and his legacy. His tendency to over-promise things was cute at first, but when you throw in the likes of Kickstarter, it’s simply not acceptable. He does not deserve the sympathy so many are willing to give, this is a prime example of some betraying the trust of others. In a industry that is becoming more and more willing to shaft the consumer, the Godus affair takes the piss. Molyneux could not even deliver on the promises made in Curiosity. The winner, Bryan Henderson, has all but been ignored by 22 Cans. The ‘life changing’ prize never materialized, nothing was said. Nothing but a lie, nothing but another Peter Molyneux lie. When Peter Molyneux says ‘‘I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more” he’s telling yet another lie. He has a reputation, and it’s unfortunately not a good. He failed to deliver, he failed to answer, he simply failed to be respectable. Much like a cowboy builder who doesn’t finish the job, Molyneux is now nothing more than a con artist.   Hopefully he can turn things around. Figure out how to resolve the issues around Godus. A creative, and brilliant mind, Molyneux has a lot to offer, but needs to readjust.      ...

Apotheon – The Best Game Nobody Is Talking About

Apotheon – The Best Game Nobody Is Talking About

Every now and then, a game sneaks out with little to no marketing or hype. These games exist in their own little corner of the market, dwelling in silence. Apotheon is one of these very games, a hushed release during a busy period. While big games roll out, Apotheon neatly placed it’s self on PS4, offered for free as part of PSN +. It’s there, it’s quietly existing, and it’s brilliant. A curious 2d platform action-RPG set within Greek mythology. While the concept may not sound all that mind blowing, the game is a genuine hidden gem. As odd as it sounds, Apotheon feels like a mix between Castlevaina and Dark Souls. The movement is fluid, the level design layered, there’s a distinctly old school approach to how each stage is crafted, rewarding the player for exploration and observation.   The combat revolves around learning enemy attacking patters and skills. The player is required to pick their attacks and movements well. Each enemy has their own traits and weapon, forcing the player to change their own weapon to best accommodate the encounter. It all makes for intense miniature duals as blows are exchanged and arrows fly. Boss battles are where Apotheon truly shines. Each fight consists of feeling out the bosses attacks and figuring out how best to react to them. The way each location is designed pushes the player to move the encounter around, never allowing this to become stale. Narrowly avoid attacks, perfectly evading projectiles and then landing your own, it’s all kinds of satisfying.   Perhaps Apotheon’s most striking feature, the art style is simply beautiful. The game glows with colour, forcing witnesses to acknowledge the sight before them. Taking inspiration from ancient Greek pottery, the visuals are vibrant, popping off the screen. The whole game is a visual feat, it doesn’t look like a game, it instead looks like a piece of art. It’s hard to truly do the visuals justice with words, it’s simply a game that has to be seen. Apotheon is a game that deserve far more attention, it’s a slick, it’s beautiful, it’s truly worth anyone’s time. Each nook and cranny of the game is crafted with such a touch of craftsmanship. In a month of Triple A games all wanting to blow the masses away, Apotheon is a brilliant slice of hoy. Currently included in the free library for PSN + users, it would be a disservice to yourself not to play it.  ...

Vote With Your Wallets: The Threat Of DLC

Vote With Your Wallets: The Threat Of DLC

The great thing about the internet, or the worst, is everyone has a voice. Every single last person has the freedom to say exactly what they want to say. This has changed how businesses make,market and sell their products. The consumer has changed how they buy products, all because everyone now has a voice and digital soap box to stand upon. The video game industry knows all of it’s customers, and potential customers, have a voice…and it’s normally pretty damn vocal. The video game community/culture is never afraid to say exactly what they think about video games, consoles or any of the people within the industry. No one, and nothing, is immune to criticism, it’s pretty nifty. When it comes to video games, people’s voices are heard loudly, and often. The problem is, these voices only go so far, and it’s not far enough to force change.   The rise of DLC and pre-order extras has created such a dangerous form that it’s slowly becoming a ticking time bomb. A full retail price no longer gets you a full game, far far from it. Games like Destiny and Evolve are examples of how video games are going into a awful direction. It’s a direction that’s bad news for you, for me, and for anyone else who has a interest in video games. Serving as little more than a bare bones games, with a catalogue of DLC, they lack content and value. ”£44.99 please” is often followed by ” would you like to buy the season pass for £15.99?” A season pass? What is a season pass exactly? I’ve just bought the game, surely I have all the content on offer at the moment? Well not exactly. In the case of Destiny, you bought half a game, with the rest of the game being sold to you as DLC for the price of… £19.99. Destiny was hacked up, torn apart, and separated like a Cow on a butchers board.   Destiny highlighted the dangers of DLC and greed. The core Destiny package lacked basic features, it actively locked a decent sized segment of it’s players out of content. Add to that, the lack of story and content on the whole, and what your left with is a bit of a game. The sad fact is Bungie/Activison weren’t even subtle about their plans. Open up the case of Destiny and boom, promo material for DLC and season passes. The fact that Destiny was a commercial, and critical, success is bad news for everyone bar it’s developer and publisher. Never before has a game been pulled apart in such a way, all to support DLC. To make things even more sticky, Destiny limited it’s content even further, depending on what system you played it on.   Evolve is yet another game that heavily abuses DLC. There’s a basic game there, but there’s also a ton of DLC dangling in front of the player. What can you really expect from a game that announces its pre-order DLC before the actual game is announced? There’s that many DLC packs for Evolve, it’s a genuine challenge to understand exactly what your money gets. Season passes, a truck full of skins, characters and monsters all neatly packed behind a pay wall…prior to release. If Destiny is a worry sign of things to come, Evolve is the problem right in your face. The problem is, yet again, the game is being received well by critics, some of which barely mention the volume of content locked away. User reviews have been less favorable, with most of the criticism being aimed squarely at the DLC and the lack of content NOT hidden behind a pay wall.   This is why everyone having a voice is a great thing. The customers can have their say, they can tell potential customers the truth, the flaws. The public are not stuck behind ‘review guides’ nor do they have to keep advertisers sweet like so many popular sites. The consumer, the blogger, the independent Youtuber, even the person twitter, they can tell you unfiltered thoughts. A voice and a opinion is not enough however. This is where the old saying ‘Vote with your wallets’ comes into play. It’s pointless criticising the bull shit video game consumer have to put up with if you still buy the product. Buying into these glorified DLC catalogues, makes them a success. The publisher rakes in the money and sees a new vein to mine. The video game industry, at the moment, is the only industry that constantly finds new ways to fuck over their customers. Penny pinching at every turn, trying to make you pay more, for less.   The good old ‘Season Pass’ is one of the oddest creations of late. It’s a concept that sounds good on paper, but is rarely anything decent when put into practice. Pay X amount of DLC…often unknown, often never detailed, just promises. Where else in life would you throw up £15.99 – £20 for something that the seller can’t even tell you about? The chances are if you open up a modern game, you’ll find a flyer for a season pass. The only way to halt this behavior is to stop buying the products. Supporting the process, while denouncing it, does nothing. These business practices are no longer taking the odd weapon skin away from games, it’s taking huge chucks of playable content away. Evolve is missing monster types, games like Destiny, Evil Within, Watchdogs, Thief and Far Cry 4 are missing content…all sold as DLC/pre-order incentives. It’s getting to the point where a ‘Triple A’ release requires a spreadsheet to display what each versions offers. DLC, Season passes, pre-order incentives, retail exclusives pre-order extras, it’s all gone mad. Buying a game is no longer that, you’re often buying just part of a game. Leaving a thumbs down on a trailer, posting a negative comment, it’s not enough any more. Vote with your wallets.       Side note – If you’re happy to support DLC practices like the one’s mentioned in this post, that’s fine.     second side note – Destiny plays well, and has a good game at it’s heart…just the goodness is covered in DLC...

So How About That Resident Evil 2 HD Remastering?

So How About That Resident Evil 2 HD Remastering?

With the news that Resident Evil HD Remastered is the fastest selling Digital game, it’s only natural questions about Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered are asked. Capcom have done some pretty vile things to the Resident Evil franchise, but the HD Remastering of the original is pure gold. It reminds us of why Resident Evil became such a favourite, such a memorable classic. Capcom seemed quite open to releasing Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered, as long as the fans wanted it. How could the fans show their desire? Well that’s simple, make Resident Evil HD Remastered a success, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Capcom, the ball is in your court. Not only does remastering Resident Evil 2 HD make sense financially, but it would also shed positive light on a fleeting franchise. Resident Evil has pretty much been beaten from pillar to post, soaking in some serious brand damage. No longer is the franchise seen as the powerhouse it was once, it’s more of stumbling mess these days.  If Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered replicated, if not surpassed, the success of it’s predecessor, then attention would turn towards Resident Evil Nemesis. Three remastered greats, supplying the gameplay the franchise has been lacking for some years now. Nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool, it’s safe to see any future remastered releases would do fairly at the very least. If we were to go all out with a theory, a retail box set of Remastered Resident Evil games would be a fine thing indeed. Resident 1, 2, 3 and the under appreciated Zero, all of them would make a brilliant retail/online bundle. This is of course nothing but wishful thinking, but surely Capcom have at least entertained the idea. Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered feels like a certainty at this point. Capcom have discovered a goldmine, a goldmine that also pleases the fans.        ...

February’s Biggest Games: Monsters, Evil Moons & Sideburns

February’s Biggest Games: Monsters, Evil Moons & Sideburns

After a quite start to the year, February plays host to some big games. From returning classics, to a new IP with a lot of responsibility on it’s shoulders. These are the biggest games due for release in February 2015   Evolve (PS4/XB1/PC) -   The concept of Evolve is interesting, but the recent open Beta exposes some flaws. Having a strong focus on multiplayer for a new IP is always risky. With four players working together to hunt down a player controlled monster, Evolve won’t be to everyone’s tastes. The concept works well, with player using their chosen classes skills to effectively hunt down their target. Team work is necessary, a single lone wolf can all but doom a player group. Arguably, playing as the monster is where Evolve truly shines. Hunting down smaller creatures scattered across the world, growing, evolving, hunting down players, it’s intriguing. The problem is, Evolve, is rather one note. The Beta raised this concern among many players, with many worrying the game would become repetitive within a matter of weeks. With no single player camping, the whole game is dependent on it’s player base. Given the fact Evolve is a new IP with a concept that’s not exactly familiar with the masses, the game may struggle to bring in players and maintain them. If you happen to have three/four friends willing to play the game, Evolve could be a wise investment. The shady nature of the DLC dealings may put some off, others may be cold towards the lack of single player. Pixel Gate Verdict: Wait awhile to see how popular the game is. PC users, Evolve has Steam Sales hit written all over it.     The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS) -   The darkest entry into the franchise, and a remake people have wanted for years. There’s not a huge amount to say about Majora’s Mask that hasn’t already been said. The customer base is already there, the chances are if your interested in Majora’s Mask, you’ve already pre-ordered it. While the core game might be 15 years old, it’s still worth playing. It’s not the best starting place for people to get into the franchise, but it’s certainly a decent place to start. Pixel Gate Verdict: Anyone whose interested in the game has already ordered it. The fact the moon looks even more terrifying in it’s new slicker form is testament to how well they’ve done with the visuals. Not the typical Legend of Zelda game, but still one of the best. You can’t go wrong picking it up at any price, be it full retail or second hand.     Dying Light (PS4/XB1) -   The retail version of Dying Light finally hits stores in late February. Even with copies popping up all over E-bay, most Europeans were forced to endure the delay…unless they paid £55 for the digital only version. Dying Light is another zombie themed effort from Dead Island’s developer Techland. It’s been received fairly well across the board, with praise being aimed at it’s free running mechanics. If you’re still not jaded by Zombies, and loved Dead Island, Dying Light is the perfect release for you. The retail version comes packed with a season pass, as well as the ‘play as a zombie’ mode that was offered as a pre-order intensive. Pixel Gate Verdict: If you’re not utterly burnt out on zombie media, then Dying Light is a sound purchase. The player movement is sleek, the visuals are decent, but the story is rather generic. The bundled in Season Pass and DLC also give the whole package more value for money. A decent purchase at full price, but a gut feeling says Dying Light may be discounted not long after it’s EU release.       Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS) -   While the franchise is a pop culture icon in it’s native Japan, Monster Hunter has never quite had the same success in the Western world. That hasn’t stopped the franchise gaining a cult following, with tight communities thriving around each release. The sublime Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate brought in a new fold of players, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate looks to do the same. The fantastic online play, the genuine sense of team work and community, it all gives Monster Hunter a real sense of character. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is skipping the Wii U, at least for now, and heading to the 3DS. With full online co-op, and more focus on adventure and story progression, Monster Hunter 4 could be the definitive hand held experience of 2015. The Guild quest system brings a whole new layer to the core game, freshening up the core game. New loot, new enemies, new quest mechanics and the return of some familiar monsters, Monster Hunter 4 is packing it all. Pixel Gate Verdict: While Monster Hunter is still considered as a niche game in the West, it’s quality in undeniable. After dabbling with Monster Hunt 3 Tri, and then heavily investing in Ultimate, the fourth installment is a must buy. The online community is extremely welcoming and supportive, feeding into the core concept of team hunting perfectly. Monster Hunter 4 is the perfect place for newcomers to start, and will surely be a place veterans will frequent for years to come.   The Order 1886 (PS4) -   So far, neither new console has had a exclusive that screams ‘Must play’. Titanfall was fun, Second Son was a blast, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Sun Set Overdrive were decent, but not unmissable. The Order 1886 is the next exclusive to try and make a impact. Boasting some impressive visuals, The Order 1886 has created quite a buzz around it, not all of it good. There’s been lingering worries about the game being nothing but another shallow, but pretty, third person shooter. Some see it has the pinnacle of cinematic video games. Set in a re-imagined Victorian era London, The Order 1886 places players in the middle of a centuries old conflict. Equipped with advanced technology and mythical items, players battle against fantastical enemies, as well as rebels threatening the State. The setting is interesting enough to warrant paying attention to, the gameplay however may not to be everyone’s taste. While the visuals look great, the gameplay hasn’t exactly blown people away. Cover based shooting, familiar third-person gameplay and quick time events may not be what people want from their next gen exclusives. There is certainly a market for the game, those looking for visual eye candy, bundled with a quick fix, will undoubtedly already have their pre-orders complete.   Pixel Gate Verdict: It’s fair to say that most owners of a PS4 will pick up The Order 1886 on release. This new generation of systems is lacking exclusives that define a console, and The Order 1886 may just be the game that defines the PS4, at least for now. The gut feeling is that The Order 1886 will be enjoyable, and beautiful, but short. Those on a budget may be well severed to wait a few weeks after release before they pick the game up.     Pixel Gate Picks – While these games aren’t the ‘biggest’, they still look like they could be worth checking out.   Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (PS4/XB1) - The franchise may not be as popular as it once was, but DoA 5 was a pretty fine fighter. Smooth gameplay, fluid controls, and well paced, it’s a decent title. Boasting the largest DoA roster to date, along with over 300 open and unlockable costumes, Last Round may cure that fighter itch. At a retail release of £28.99, it’s no too harsh on the wallet.   Resident Evil Revelations 2 Episode 1 (PS4/XB1/PS3/360/PC) - Capcom continue to use Resident Evil to experiment with. Revelations 2. In all fairness, media from the game hasn’t painted it in that great of a light. The fast paced gameplay, the generic environments, the sloppy AI, it doesn’t exactly scream quality. The only real reason Revelations 2 Episode 1 is worth checking out is Barry Burton…and the fair price point of £4.99.   Suikoden 1 & 2 (PSN) - The original releases are quite tricky, and pricey, to get a hold of. Both games have achieved the status of ‘classics’, and for good reason. If traditional JRPG’s are your thing, and for some reason you’ve never played both Suikodens, then now is the perfect time to invest countless hours into these deep classics.    ...

The Battlefield: Hardline Beta Turned Me From Hater, To Customer

The Battlefield: Hardline Beta Turned Me From Hater, To Customer

With the Battlefield: Hardline Beta at a end, I find myself conflicted. After Battlefield 4, I was all ready to end my time with the franchise. I’d been a avid fan since the days of Battlefield 1942, I was a huge fan of Vietnam. To me, the series peaked with Battlefield 2, it reached it’s peak in creativity and ambition with 2142. Recent times have witnessed the franchise stumble around, looking for a new direction that was still relevant to industry trends. The likes of Bad Company 2 and the download only 1943 were sublime. Both represented key points in the franchises progression. Battlefield 3, while fun, never truly felt like the next step forward. While it looked slick and played well, it lacked the soul of past games. Battlefield 4 was the straw that broke the camels back. The sheer amount of bugs and technical issues turned the game into a mess. The multiplayer felt more like a minor expansion rather than a whole new game. It was truly disappointing.   The fact EA seemed more fussed about delaying DLC for Battlefield 4, instead of apologizing, was quite annoying. As patches rolled out, the game finally became stable, but the damage had been done. My affection for the franchise had died. Naturally, I looked down as Hardline as a cheap cash in thrown out there to keep the franchise in the public eye for another year. I still watched the trailers, and looked into the game, but my feelings towards Hardline were still negative. Then the Beta came around. The only reason I ever downloaded the Hardline Beta was out of morbid curiosity. ‘Let’s see how horrible this is then’ I blurted out when the Beta booted up. Jumping into a game, I was bombarded with ‘NEW FEATURE!’ and ‘TRY THIS’, with blobs of text describing random things. Truth be told, I ignored them, I jumped in blind and loved every second of it. Before long I found myself forgetting that I was playing a Battlefield game, I forgot all of the gripes I had with the franchise. With bullets flying, chaos at every turn, my first game of Hiest ended, and I went straight back in for more.   Before long, I had invested a few hours into the game, explored all of the various bits and bobs Heist had to offer. The sheer intensity of the struggle between Police and Criminals was addictive, but most importantly, it was fun. I found myself using various grenade types to help carry out objectives. Towards the end of my session, I was popping off zip-wires and setting up escape route for team mates, while holding off police forces. Was this…team work? While Hardline isn’t the pinnacle of tactical and team based play, it’s certainly more accommodating than the last few instalments in the franchise. The gadgets and various grenade types give the players much more creative freedom in their approach. Popping up a zipline between the bank roof and the make shift helipad, on top of the multi-storey car park, is a beautiful thing. Tear gassing the steps up towards the roof, trip mining the lift, stopping the police from freely coming up, it’s fantastic. Heist may be a ton of fun, but Hotwire has single-handedly sold Hardline to me. Hotwire is the a perfect storm of chaos. Cars flying around, explosions, bullets, cranes collapsing, it’s chaotic art. Jumping into a car with three others, engaging in car chases, popping out the side unleashing hell out of a Ak47, it’s all so sweet. The action never lets up, the amount of crazy things going on all around the player makes for some truly awesome spectacles to behold. Hardline went from a game I had no time for, to a instant pre-order. While I may disagree with bull shit pre-order DLC that gives players a early advantage, I found Hardline too fun not to buy into. There’s a few things that still worry me, it’s apparent that EA will hammer microtransactions into the game. The battle-packs feel like they’re there to be abused by those willing to throw their money around so freely. Beyond that, Hardline has filled me full of hope, it’s brought me back in from the cold. I assumed Hardline would be nothing but a cheap, effortless, cash in, the Beta has proved me wrong. Fingers crossed the full version doesn’t include a wealth of bugs, here’s to hoping EA have learned their lesson.    ...

Bloodborne Vs Dark Souls 2: Everyone Wins

Bloodborne Vs Dark Souls 2: Everyone Wins

Dark Souls has came along way from it’s humble roots. It’s origins can be found on the PS3 exclusive Demon’s Souls. Initially a game that went under the radar, Demon Souls began to cultivate a cult following. It’s brutal approach to death and challenge, it’s curious multiplayer, it was a genuinely odd game, odd but original. Dark Souls came from the seed that was Demon’s Souls, only this time it was multiformat. Dark Souls has since became a cult classic, spawning it’s own culture and streamer base. The game has went beyond ‘just another game’, it’s a trend setter, something different that still performs to a decent level commercially. Dark Souls had such a influence on the industry that other developers were inspired, resulting in the likes of Lords of The Fallen. To put it all into perspective, the PS3 exclusive Demon’s Souls led to the creation of the multiformat blockbuster Dark Souls…and now the PS4 exclusive Bloodborne is coming for it’s crown.   It’s quite amusing to see how things come full circle. Bloodborne isn’t just a developer trying their hand at a brutal action RPG, far from it. Bloodborne is under the directorship of Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Demon’s Souls & Dark Souls (supervisor on Dark Souls 2). It’s almost like the old master coming back to defeat what he has created, if you were to take a dramatic outlook on this. It’s a interesting story which ever way you look at it, even more so given it’s one of the PS4′s big exclusives. To make things even more interesting, Bloodborne and Dark Souls 2 release on the PS4 within a week of each other. Bloodborne is set for the release date of 27/03/2015, Dark Souls 2: Scholar Of The First Sin comes out on 07/04/2015. As you’d imagine, this naturally puts them in competition with each other. While some loyal fans might try to make this into some kind of issue, the fact is, competition is great.   Competition forces improvement, it forces progression, it forces creativity. If Bloodborne manages to truly challenge, if not outperform, Dark Souls 2 (in terms of quality and/or sales), this will surely spur on From Software. The connections between the two releases give the whole thing a interesting edge, even more so given the excitement surrounding Bloodborne. After the adequate Lords of the Fallen, there’s a lot of focus on what Bloodborne can bring to the table. Will Bloodborne create the same culture and fan base the same way Dark Souls has? Will people still be streaming and speed running Bloodborne years after it’s release? Only time will tell. It’s a odd concept that From Software are competing with their own game. Dark Souls is already established, it’s already seen as a modern classic. Bloodborne, and From Software, are competing to get out of the shadow of their own work of art. It’s bizarre, but brilliantly so. How would the success/failure affect the future of the Dark Souls franchise?, if at all. It’s a great time to be a fan of these sorts of games. Two big games, both with genuine pedigree behind them. Even without the connection between the two games, both releases would be exciting. When you add in the story and connection behind games, it gives the whole thing that little touch of theater. Dark Souls 2 Vs. Bloodborne, everyone wins.  ...

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