Video Games / Platform

The Problems Of Adopting New Systems Too Early

The Problems Of Adopting New Systems Too Early

Buying into new consoles is always a odd experience. There’s a number of elements that come into play, mostly attempts to justify spending vast amounts of money on a system with barely any games. The chief feeling, and most welcomed, is excitement. There’s always a buzz when it comes to walking into the store and picking up the ‘next big thing’. I waited for months, pre-order slip in hand, counting down the days until the PS4 was released. My enjoyment of video games had became a little stale, the PS4 was something to get excited about. New experiences, new features, and as lame as it sounds…them shiny visuals. Killzone: Shadowfall was the main game that had me wishing the PS4 was closer to release, seeing the glory of the game in action was mouth watering. While my PC had given me plenty of visual thrills, the idea that consoles were pumping out these visuals was a wonderful concept to behold.   The PS4 release came around, I booked a day off work and set off to pick up my system. Even on the way there I can recall thinking about all the risks I was taking in terms of investing early. The lack of games at launch, what if it suffered errors like the 360 did at launch? How do I justify spending this much money on such a trivial object. By the time I had picked up the system, paid, and journeyed home, all the doubts faded, only excitement remained. It’s a cycle I’ve went through with every console release since the Game Boy Advanced…and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My traditional cycle, when it came to buying new systems, had been thrown out the window when it came to the Xbox One. After saving up money, I found myself in a GAME store looking at Microsoft’s big fat black box. My feelings towards the Xbox One were a little off, the disastrous E3 (2013), the terrible PR, it had left me a little wary of the system. Even with all that in mind, I found myself walking out with a Xbox One in hand.   I’ve enjoyed my times with both the Xbox One and the PS4, but issues had arisen. By buying both system so early on, I had found myself barely using one of the systems. While the Xbox one had me hooked on Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, beyond that there was little to keep me around. Titanfall was a brief distraction, as too was Dead Rising 3, but the Xbox One was far my system of choice. Multiformat titles were often purchased for the PS4, resulting my library out numbering my Xbox One games by a large margin. The truth is, neither system has games that are exclusive while being must plays. Both consoles offer enjoyable games, but nothing that will make a true impact on the player. While nice visuals are a treat to behold, and using consoles various nifty features (the PS4 touch pad for example) makes for curious enjoyment, neither system truly feels like it’s the next step in video games…at least not yet. Call it buyers remorse, regret, or even nativity, buying into both systems this early on was a mistake. After nearly a year of decent, but not brilliant, next gen (or new gen, if you will) games , the resulting feeling is a little underwhelming. It’s a similar problem that popped up with the release of the Ps Vita and the Nintendo 3DS, so it’s not like this is a new concept. While others may be more than pleased with their next gen experiences, there’s still niggling sense of regret personally, too much too soon feels like the best way to sum up the situation.   2015 is looking far better with a plethora of big name games coming to both the Xbox One and PS4. While 2014 has been a rather sleepy year, the new systems will hopefully pick up traction in 2015, eliminating my lingering senses of regret. At the end of the day, Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is still the best next generation experience so far…and that is the biggest surprise when it’s all said and done.    ...

Quick Look: Habitat

Quick Look: Habitat

A few days back I got the chance to sit down with a wonderful little indie-game titled Habitat. It is a real-time, physics-driven orbital strategy game where you build, fly, and fight with the unique space stations that you create out of space debris orbiting earth. In its simplest terms it is a strategic space survival game. The game is developed by a studio named 4gency, and this is one of the better space simulation/strategy games I’ve played. It’s in Early Access right now, so take that into account if you decide to dip into the game. Here’s my video below of my Quick Look into the game. If the game tickles your fancy, and you need a romp through space then I can’t recommend it enough. Expect more videos like this for the site regarding indie games. It’s a fun one. You can purchase the Early Access copy of Habitat right now over on Steam for $14.99 Plus, slapping a fire-breathing T-Rex head onto your ship is awesome. Expect an actual review later on in the future when the game leaves the Early Access stages. Store Page: [Click Here]...

Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition Review (Wii U)

Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition Review (Wii U)

The influence of both Metroid and Castlevania is still felt to this day, especially during the last five or so years. One of the best examples of this influence can be found in last year’s Guacamelee, from developer Drinkbox games. With its 2D platforming, brawler combat system, and a lot of humor, Guacamelee became a hit across a number of platforms. Now it’s back in the shape of Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition, marking the game’s début on the Nintendo system. Guacamelee follows Juan, an average man slain by the kidnappers of El Presidente’s daughter. Juan reawakens to find himself in possession of a Lucha mask, granting him the power of the Luchador. From here, Juan must save El Presidente’s daughter while avenging his own death. Juan’s journey is a humorous romp across various environments beautifully presented in a cartoonish manner. While the story is never compelling or engaging, it does progress the game efficiently enough that it never becomes an issue that detracts from the overall experience.   The aforementioned Metroid influence is made clear pretty early on. Each environment hosts various sections that are only accessible after the player has unlocked certain skills. The risk of adopting this approach is putting far too many inaccessible areas in one zone early on, making the player feel trapped in a box. Thankfully Guacamelee does a fairly decent job of keeping the balance between keeping the player curious while allowing them to progress at a manageable level. The nifty parts of the environments hide secrets; this is what captures a genuine feeling of rewarding curiosity and exploration. The core gameplay of Guacamelee is accomplished. The jumping mechanics feel tight, responsive, and only the player can make errors. The combat is built around the idea of building combos and adjusting to the enemy in question. The early stages of the game feel rather repetitive due to the lack of abilities and a small range of enemy types. As the game chugs along, things become far more enjoyable with the player being granted more freedom in how they wish to build combos. With this focus on combos comes an unfortunate fascination with repeatedly putting the player into kill rooms. While it’s fun to string combos together in brainless kill rooms once or twice, it devolves into a repetitive chore after the sixth or seventh room within an hour or so of play.   One of the surprising highlights of Guacamelee is the platforming component. There’s a neatly entwined relationship between platforming and a number of the attacks featured within the game. There’s a number of cases in which the player is required to combine movements, jumps, and attacks in order to reach a certain point. The combination between challenge and skill is wonderfully delicate, making each tricky jump satisfying to pull off. It’s a neat touch that gives the core gameplay an extra dimension. The presentation of Guacamelee is a wonderful meld of bright colours and quirky character designs. The sheer boldness of the colours allows the game to almost jump out of the screen, which technically you can do given the Wii U’s capabilities. The game looks great on both a TV and a Wii U pad. The pad’s other features aren’t really used all that well, however, it’s only purpose is to host a mini-map. Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition is a wonderfully crafted experience. There’s little to truly complain about beyond some repetitive enemy patterns and some areas that feel a little less interesting than others. There’s enough content there to keep everybody happy given the price point–even more so given the local co-op that the game offers. With tight, responsive controls, wonderfully crafted platforming sections, and more than an odd giggle along the way, Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition is a great example of Metroid-inspired concepts put into practice.          ...

Why You Shouldn’t Expect A Console Version Of Elder Scrolls Online…Or Want One

Why You Shouldn’t Expect A Console Version Of Elder Scrolls Online…Or Want One

The Elder Scrolls Online has been one of the oddest MMO’s to release in quite some time. From announcement to release, the development window was rather short, even more so given the apparent scope of the game. Given the promise of both a PC and PS4/Xbox One release, the short development cycle comes off as rather suspect. After a PC release, and a console delay, Elder Scrolls Online turned out to be a bit off a mess, a MMO failing on core mechanics. Elder Scrolls Online is limping along, failing to live up to the hype, or even stand side by side competition, is a console version even a viable option any more? While the Elder Scrolls Online has all the distinct Elder Scroll elements, the imagery, the lore, music, it’s MMO components often fall flat on it’s face. Group questing is a utter mess, a mess that leads to frustration more than fulfilment. The questing experience on the whole is simply nothing to write home about it. Keeping in the grounds of kill quests and fetch quests, with only some sub-standard voice acting in between, the bulk of the quests feel forced. It’s not that the quests are all that bad, it’s just they’re done better in other games, especially when they involve group interaction.   Elder Scrolls Online suffers, at least in its PvE, from truly finding it’s feet in a MMO environment. The core game feels like it’s built as a single player experience shuffling around trying to fit into the MMO genre. While the PvP is genuinely quite good , the PvE is just a inconsistent, often barren, experience. This is a issue that feels a little beyond a simple patch or two, it’s a issue at the heart of the game. Given the issues, the decreasing subs, a console version feels more like a hope rather than a expectations, and even so, is it worth hoping for? It’s hard to see a console version lighting the world on fire. The bland, eerily lifeless, nature of the game would still be there. Perhaps the console market, which doesn’t hold too much experience with MMOs, would be able to see past the quality life issues Elder Scrolls Online suffers from. The main stumbling block that console version would run into would be the subscription fee.   While people may be used to paying for their Xbox Live and PSN Plus, most struggle with the concept of paying full retail and then paying a sub on top of that. The subscription fee is just as much as issue for the PC version, people expect content, expanding content, that justifies monthly fees. Elder Scrolls Online is simply not providing the content to justify the asking price for the masses. It’s hard to envision what a console version would look, and play, like. Elder Scrolls Online isn’t visually impressive, there’s a shade of doubt that the visuals would be acceptable on the two newest consoles. A console version simply does not seem like a valid concept, and the silence around the console version suggests ZeniMax and Bethesda are all too well of that. The core game has far too many issues in its current state to truly sustain a working monthly subscription model. The expectation is Elder Scrolls Online will hit free-to-play within a year, a plan that has been adopted successfully by a number of companies when their MMO’s have ran into the subscriber/user issues. The most notable of these free-to-play adopters being EA/Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. After a initial period of success, The Old Republics subscribers plummeted, in reaction to this a free-to-play model was adopted, breathing life into the game and propping up the game for a sustainable future. The free-to-play mode, that also offers a premium monthly subscription option, is a perfectly serviceable option for most MMO’s that don’t command the huge or consistent user bases. Elder Scrolls Online has a issue with any potential plans to adopt a free-to-play model. If a console version is still in development, adapting a free-to-play model for the PC version will almost certainly render a console version with a retail price, plus subs, as utterly unserviceable. How could they possibly convince console users to buy, and pay monthly, for a game that is available as free-to-play on the PC. The future of Elder Scrolls Online is certainly unclear. A console version simply does not seem like a legitimate option any more and should no longer be expected. With nothing but words, no screenshots or gameplay, from Bethesda it’s a safe bet a console version of Elder Scrolls Online is dead in the water.    ...

Three Key Ways EA Can Improve Their UFC Games

Three Key Ways EA Can Improve Their UFC Games

With EA Sports UFC turning out to be more than a little lacking, thought turns towards the main ways a probable follow-up could improve. From cosmetic changes, to inclusion of modes, and tweaks to the gameplay, these are the three key ways EA can improve their UFC games.   Re-work The Ground Game: The core criticism of EA Sports UFC is how rigid the ground game is. Almost nearly every MMA bout will hit the ground at some point. Body positioning, guards, transitions all make up the key elements of a strong ground game. EA Sports UFC features a system that rarely feels smooth or natural. Each transition feels rigid, forced and not all that responsive. The control scheme doesn’t allow much freedom, giving one of the most creative elements of MMA an entirely linear mechanic. Re-working the whole ground game, including the odd submission mini-game, would be an instant improvement. A re-worked ground system should ideally give both fighters more freedom of choice in what they wish to do, instead of relying on repetitive flicks of analogue sticks and aiming to use sticks to adjust body posture and reaction. But most of all, movement should be SMOOTH. The current system is far too rigid and clunky, making it far less enjoyable or engaging than it should be. The submission mini-game should take its leave and be replaced with a more realistic, interactive, mechanic. Combining stick moments and press, much like the system seen in past UFC titles under THQ, is a far more enjoyable and satisfying concept than a cat-and-mouse mini game.   Add More Modes; Improve Current Modes: For a full retail title, EA Sports UFC features barely any game modes. The career mode is a loosely connected series of fights with some mini-games complete with light character progression chucked in. The career as a core game mode is simply not good enough. EA should look no further than the vast amount of content on offer in UFC Undisputed 3. Career mode, Pride fights, online fight camps, re-enacting classic fights and of course straight-up fights. EA not making use of Zuffa’s purchases is insanely short-sighted. Including a handful of modes, when past titles have had so much to offer, is simply not acceptable. Whether it’s EA not truly caring about the product, or EA simply testing the waters, their next UFC game needs to ship with far more modes.   Realistic Striking: While everything in the game looks pretty, there are some things that look plain stupid. Seeing someone such as Junior Dos Santos land repeated upper cuts and not knocking a guy out is silly. The striking in EA Sports UFC feels more like something you’d play with Killer Instinct–stacking combos together rather than landing that perfect strike. While not every fighter has one punch power, the ones that do should have it reflected in the game. Head shots hurt–they can really hurt–but EA seems to ignore that fact. Repeat strikes in dangerous places don’t reflect the damage they should. A person’s head does not simply return to its natural position after being hit with hard force; a leg does not pop straight back to the standing position after being kicked. EA is aiming for realism, and this should be reflected in their game’s striking. Another issue, albeit an utterly bizarre one, is the ease of which fighters pulls off moves rarely seen in fights. The showtime kick has been hit ONCE, and yet the majority of fighters can pull it off within the game. Highly specialist moves should either be locked to the fighter (or fighters) who can pull them off, or remove the rarely seen/used moves entirely.      ...

The Nintendo Balancing Act: Can They Do It?

The Nintendo Balancing Act: Can They Do It?

Nintendo is seemingly on the road to recovery–at least in terms of the Wii U. The back-end of 2014 seems ready to usher in a big 2015 for Nintendo’s curious creation. After the success of Mario Kart 8, and the sheer positivity of their E3 direct showing, Nintendo is riding a wave of positivity with the Wii U as the surfboard. All this new hype surrounding the Wii U, or more accurately the future of the console, does create a slight creeping worry–what about the 3DS? Nintendo spent a long time, and a lot of effort, on turning the skeptics of their 3D gaming handheld into fans. After a truly spectacular 2013, the 3DS became one of the must-own systems, breaking free of the stigma of being a pricey gimmick.   While it remains to be seen whether or not the Wii U will go through the same transformation, Nintendo must maintain a level of focus on the 3DS. It won’t be easily accomplished, as trying to maintain the momentum of the Wii U while supporting the 3DS will be the very definition of a balancing act, but it must nevertheless be done. Nintendo has done well historically when it comes to maintaining two systems, especially consoles and handhelds. Nintendo has seemingly planted the 3DS firmly within their future plans, with a focus on Amiibo and classic Japanese franchises such as Monster Hunter and Persona. The biggest game in Nintendo’s future release calender, for both systems, is undoubtedly Super Smash Bros. With both versions prompting positive reactions from E3, it seems both systems are already being fairly balanced. There was an initial worry that the 3DS had been overlooked during E3, but thankfully Nintendo’s reveal of Code Name: S.T.E.A.M put the worries to bed. It’s key that Nintendo maintains this balance between their systems, not allowing one to overshadow the other. It would be understandable for Nintendo to put their time, money and effort into the Wii U. Given the system’s struggles, and Nintendo’s plummeting profits, there’s almost an expectation for Nintendo to spend the next few years dragging the Wii U into calm waters. The balancing act has already begun, and so far it’s going smoothly. Both systems boast strong line-ups going into late 2014/early 2015, with titles such as Monster Hunter 4, Bayonetta 2, Smash Bros and the surprising cult hit in the making, Splatoon. Whether or not Nintendo pulls off this finely tuned balancing act, there’s at least a light at the end of the tunnel after some rough times.  ...

Another Dead Island Game Announced – Is It One Too Many?

Another Dead Island Game Announced – Is It One Too Many?

Deep Silver’s faith in the Dead Island franchise continues to grow. Escape: Dead Island is a third-person ‘survival mystery’ that explores the origins of the zombie virus. Scheduled for release this autumn, Escape will land on PS3 and 360 for the retail price of £39.99. The PC version version will cost £34.99. ”ESCAPE Dead Island is a survival mystery that follows the story of Cliff Calo, who sets sail to document the unexplained events rumoured to have happened on Banoi. Arriving on the island of Narapela, part of the Banoi archipelago, he finds that not everything is as it seems. Haunted by Déjà vu, Cliff will have to make sense of it all throughout the entire game – again and again. This story-driven adventure lets players delve into the Dead Island universe and unravel the origins of the zombie outbreak. Escape is only the beginning… Delivering the key features of a Dead Island game – visceral melee combat set in a beautiful paradise setting – ESCAPE adds a completely new tone to the zombie universe. The visually unique styles accompanies the player on his struggle against insanity as he experiences the secrets of the Dead Island universe, fights off zombies with a vast and unique array of weapons and opens the path to the events that will happen in Dead Island 2. ”   While Escape does look interesting, there’s a slight sense of ‘not another Dead Island game’. Escape will be the 5th entry into a franchise that has never truly thrilled the masses. The first entry sold, and reviewed, fairly well, Riptide did not meet expectations in both regards. The Dead Island MOBA, Epidemic, is still a curious beast that doesn’t seem to be garnering that much attention. Dead Island 2 was some what of a surprise announcement. Given the short gaps between the first two games releases, it was expected that the franchise would be rested in terms of main entries. While the reaction to the Dead Island 2 trailer was positive, there’s still groans over yet another zombie game. The over saturation of Zombies in the media, especially video games, has left a lot of people jaded. With Dead Island, H1Z1 and Dying Light, the zombie sub genre is set to grow and grow. The over reliance on one franchise is a risky move for any company, only a few can afford to do such strategy (Konami). Deep Silver are putting a lot of faith in a franchise that, at best, is inconsistent. Fingers crossed quantity does prevail over quality....

Blue Estate Review (PS4)

Blue Estate Review (PS4)

The light gun is nothing more than a fond memory, at least in today’s market. After enjoying a brief resurgence during the hayday of motion video games, the light gun crept back into the shadows once more. It comes with some surprise that Blue Estate, a comic-inspired on-rails shooter, has stepped forward to replicate the light gun experience using only the accelerometers in the PS4′s controller. The PS4′s motion control capabilities have hardly been pushed or even used all that much, and especially not to their limits. The concept of basing the entirety of a £16.99 video game on an untested feature creates an instant notion of caution. Things aren’t helped by past failings by other light gun games that have tried to adopt motion controls from the likes of Kinect or the Wii. Unsurprisingly the controls of Blue Estate are the primary issue, but not as big of an issue as might have been expected. The control scheme is simple, yet uses two of the most curious features of the PS4 pad: the touch screen and motion controls. Aiming, as expected, is done by using the pad to shift the crosshair around the screen. The crosshairs can be reset to the centre via a quick tap of the L1 button. R2 acts as the trigger and L2 is utilized for the cover and reload mechanics. The touch screen is used for interactive sections of the game, such as picking up health, melee, and enemies. The touch screen is also used in quick-time events that happen during certain levels, as well as various other bits and bobs that see the player interact with the environment. For the most part, the general shooting experience is solid. The PS4 pad takes a while to get used to when used in the capacity required, but after a while it feels natural, and most importantly, it works. There are a few elements that feel slightly frustrating. For example, when switching weapons the crosshair tends to fly off the screen. While the L1 button resets crosshairs, it’s frustrating to have to constantly realign the aim on a regular basis, detracting from the core experience. Behind the shooting there’s a score system keeping the action flowing. Points are earned by chaining combos together as well as pulling off special shots. Scattered across each level are short shooting galleries where the player is tasked with popping headshots. They break up the fast-paced action but feel somewhat forced at times. The points system only truly lends itself to a visual representation of how well the player did. Leaderboards are supported, but with no unlocks, only board-climbers will have an interest in racking up points. Blue Estate‘s campaign isn’t especially long, either. Clocking in at around 3-4 hours, it is enjoyable but limited. The whole deal is filled with pop culture references poking fun at various video games and shows, with the Game of Thrones reference being the most obvious. The campaign follows Tony Luciano, the son of one of LA’s most notorious crime lords. Tony is a greasy, disaster-prone slime ball who enjoys hair styling, hookers, and shooting. Tony finds himself stuck in the middle of a gang war centered around his favourite hooker, Cherry. Tony, being the gentleman he is, sets out to defend Cherry while his father drafts in help from gun-for-hire Clarence. Blue Estate requires its player not to take themselves too seriously. The plot has a huge undertone of exploitative cinema running throughout it, mixed with the snark you’d expect from a jaded pop culture expert. There’s a decent amount of environments on offer, each with their own enemy types and mini-bosses. The campaign is fun but never something that makes an impression. Not that the campaign was trying to do anything more than that, however. While the campaign is fun, it’s made even better via local two player co-op, a rare feature in modern video games. The overall Blue Estate experience is solid and well produced. The visuals aren’t exactly stunning, but they do lend themselves well to the tone and art style of the game. The action is fast, perhaps too fast for the controls, but remains enjoyable throughout. Given its length and lack of content, the price point of £16.99 seems a little high. Ultimately, Blue Estate is a decent on-rails shooter with plenty of cheap laughs. The only problem holding it back from being widely recommended is the price. Fun, funny, enjoyable, but overpriced.      ...

Spy Co-op Title Clandestine Enters Alpha Testing Phase

Spy Co-op Title Clandestine Enters Alpha Testing Phase

The cooperative spy fantasy title Clandestine has officially entered the Alpha testing phase. Danish indie developer Logic Artists revealed the Alpha testing phase, along with a few new details on the roles of the Spy and the Hacker. Clandestine features familiar 3rd-person stealth mechanics such as stealth cover systems, lethal and non-lethal takedown, gadgets and the ability to conceal weapons. The Spy player must covertly enter hideouts, safe houses and corporate headquarters spread across two continents. The Hacker plays from a 2D computer interface, in line with the mid-90′s setting, and supports the spy via hacking security cameras, turrets, doors and blinding enemies via turning off the power. Logic Artists have put a focus onto creating a relationship between the Hacker and the Spy, to create a genuine co-op experience - “The symbiotic relationship between the Spy and the Hacker forms the backbone of Clandestine’s gameplay mechanics, as to achieve success players must work together and communicate to overcome obstacles and escape dangerous situations”, said Jonas Wæver, Lead Designer for Logic Artists. “Now that we have reached the alpha milestone we are really ironing out the co-op features of Clandestine to make sure that whether gamers prefer to play as Hacker or Spy, each role is equally as fun, interesting and satisfying”.   More information about Clandestine can be found on the official site.        ...

Metro Redux Release Date Confirmed

Metro Redux Release Date Confirmed

Deep Silver have confirmed that Metro Redux will release in stores on August 29th in Europe and August 26th in the US. Metro Redux will contain both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light remastered for the PS4 and Xbox One. Redux will ship with all of the previously released DLC, including the fan favorite ‘Ranger Mode’ for both titles. Both games will be sold separately as digital downloads for those only wish to pick up one of the games. For those that missed out on the Metro franchise, this is the perfect opportunity to jump into some truly atmospheric video game experiences. Metro: Last Light remains as one of the most underrated , and under appreciated titles in the last few years. Last Light is nothing short of fantastic with it’s brooding atmosphere, fantastic imagery and a story that makes the player question what side they stand on. For more details on what made Metro: Last Light such a top title, checkout our article ”Why Metro: Last Light is One of the Best Games I’ve Played this Generation”.        ...

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