Video Games / Platform / PS4

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.      ...

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.      ...

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”.        ...

EA Sports UFC Review (PS4/Xbox One)

EA Sports UFC Review (PS4/Xbox One)

EA’s UFC has been one of the company’s most hyped titles, mainly due to its visuals. After months of press releases, trailers and screenshots, does the game deliver the realistic experience promised? In short, no. Not entirely, at least. At its core, MMA is arguably the purest form of competition. The sheer amounts of disciplines that factor into the sport give it such a sense of depth that not many other sports can match. This alone makes MMA a tricky sport to translate into a video game. Every fight starts on the feet, and this is possibly the strongest elements of EA UFC’s gameplay. The range in strikes gives the players more than enough options to create combos and put a bit a flare into their fight style. Each strike carries a genuine sense of impact; faces wobble, cut and bruise, and it’s noticeably realistic. This allows the striking to become an instantly rewarding mechanic that engages players, as well as spectators, straight away. There’s a sense of ease to stringing together basic combos. Knees and fists can be strung together in effective methods without requiring too much thought. There’s a number of advanced stand up techniques, mostly built upon the blocking and evasion mechanics, which require some time to learn. The basic stand up is well rounded, but that quickly becomes a problem given how simple it is compared to other key elements of the fight, such as clinching, grappling, and wrestling. Stand up only makes up part of the sport; any fighter who doesn’t learn the ground game wont last very long. This is where EA UFC runs into some major issues. The clinch is solid, with controls that are easy to learn and a viable part of the game. The same can also be said of the takedowns, which carry a sense of weight to them. The ground game, however, is an utter mess of confusion, frustration and bemusement. Transitioning from position to position, be it from the top or bottom, feels like a horrid dance of jerking analogue sticks around in hope more than expectation. Even after taking time to learn the controls, the ground game never feels accomplished and becomes something the player fears rather than utilizes.   It’s frustrating that such a key part of the sport is so undercooked and so rough around the edges. What should be a smooth experience, with plenty of depth, is instead a flurry of stick wiggles and button presses while the on-screen fighter wiggles in a strange limp motion. It’s rare the ground game feels smooth or useful. It instead feels like a hindrance that is unfairly thrown upon the player as the AI imposes its willful mount with ease. While it may seem like a small issue to those not familiar with MMA, these ground game issues are in fact a big deal given how large of a part the ground game plays in any given fight. It’s unfortunate that the effort put into the stand up is deflected by shoddy mechanics used for the ground game, mainly the transitions. There’s also an issue that pops up with how submissions are handled. Attempting a submission prompts an odd mini game in which the victim presses in a direction while the submitter tries to match his victim’s stick wiggles. The mini-game feels out of place, even more so given the pace and presentation of each fight. The mechanic simply doesn’t match what is going on, almost cheapening the experience.   The visuals of EA UFC are what have been the main focus, at least in terms of marketing. To EA’s credit, the character models are mostly stunning. The attention to detail is staggering, from the scars on Jon Jon’s face, to the readable text on Rousey’s ankle tattoo.The finer details have all been taken care of. There are one or two character models that feel a little less well crafted, mainly Chael Sonnen and Alexander Gustaffason, both of which carry a distinct video game look. The general set dressing isn’t quite up to the standards on the character models. Arenas feel oddly vacant, lacking the soul and buzz of a real UFC event. It seems odd that EA would go to so much effort to create fantastic character models only to put them into rather vapid arenas. Thankfully the soul of the fights is injected with how much damage is shown on the respective fighters. When a punch is thrown, the impact is visible. Bodies will ripple, cuts and bruises will appear, and it gives each each fight a much needed sense of life, as well as adding weight to each punch, knee, kick and takedown.   One of the main criticisms of EA UFC is the lack of content on offer. While ninety-seven fighters may sound impressive, there aren’t many modes to use them in. While past UFC titles by other developers made full use of the UFC’s purchases of the PRIDE (the premier MMA promotion pre-UFC days) and history, EA has focused mainly on the current times. Aside from the standard fight mode and online modes, there’s a career mode built around The Ultimate Fighter TV show. Players create a fighter and fight their way through the UFC in pursuit of capturing gold. In between fights, players complete various drills in order to obtain evolution points. These points can be spent on new moves or by boosting the player’s attributes. As players enter the bigger fights in their career, more sponsors and gyms will become available. The career mode has a rather curious mechanic which dictates how long the player’s career lasts. After each fight, the player will be presented with an overview of how much damage they took and what impact it has on their career. Much like real life, taking numerous heavy hits in each fight will cut short the fighter’s career. Players wishing to have a long and illustrious careers are forced to take note of how much damage they are taking. This mechanic forces players into changing their approach to fights in order to maintain their fighter’s career. It gives the mode a genuine sense of depth as it pushes the player to learn the game and formulate genuine game plans rather than relying on throwing bombs each fight.   The online multiplayer is adequate enough but lacks anything to truly write home about. There are often times when players will come into contact with players from across the pond, creating a laggy connection. The lag doesn’t make the game unplayable, but it does make it frustrating. It’s hard to string combos together when a 2-3 second delay keeps occurring. As stated, this only seems to happen with overseas connections and is not an issue that runs throughout. If there’s one hugely annoying issue with the multiplayer, it’s the inclusion of Bruce Lee as DLC. Boasting insane speed and power, Bruce Lee is possibly the best fighter in the game, and he’s locked as paid DLC or as a pre-order bonus. Having the option to play as Bruce Lee is a huge advantage over those without him. His sheer speed makes him near impossible to out-strike, creating a feeling of pay-to-win. It feels like a low blow by EA as they try to make a quick buck. EA’s first attempt at a UFC game is admirable, but flawed. While the stand up is satisfying and the visuals impressive, the ground game is a huge detractor. Given how vital the ground game is, the core gameplay is effected by the rough nature of the ground game mechanics. It’s a hugely frustrating part of the game that truly sucks the pace, fluidity and enjoyment out of each bout .A lack of feinting strikes, option to touch gloves, no leg kick KOs and everyone being able to pull of flashy (physical impossible moves for some) moves also makes for some annoyances. The lack of modes and content is also an issue, one that feels like the product of a rushed release more than anything. Given the calibre of past UFC titles, EA’s attempt may look the part, but it doesn’t feel like the complete package. While the game is enjoyable for the most part, the issues truly hinder the overall game from reaching the heights it could have reached.  ...

Bloodborne: A System Seller?

Bloodborne: A System Seller?

As a massive fan of the Demons Souls, and Dark Souls series you can probably imagine my excitement for Bloodborne (recently Project Beast) which is an exclusive for the PS4 with a slated 2015 release date. Now, as it stands I’m not really interested in buying the console as there are no exclusives really catching my eye other than The Order, and of course Bloodborne. Does this mean I’m turned off from the console? Aside from the few snarky tweets I made during E3 I’m still very much interested in the console. I just need more than two exclusives to fully draw me in. That being said, Bloodborne is doing one hell of a job getting my money ready for a purchase on the console. Sony has been pretty good with making exclusives to sell me on their systems. With me forking out nearly $300 on a PS3 just to play Last Of Us was a little crazy, but I don’t regret that purchase one bit. Last Of Us was a solid game, but I never did get around to playing that DLC. As it stands though, I don’t really know much about Bloodborne other than it’s going to be very similar to Demon Souls, and Dark Souls judging from not only the development team (From Software) but also from the trailer, and the leaked gameplay trailer I saw a few days back. It’s got an epic gothic-horror setting almost, and it instantly made me think we’d be playing in Victorian London which would of been an awesome setting. Now, this doesn’t seem like the case but feels more like some sort of inspiration for the game. If any game could sell me on the console it would be Bloodborne, but I won’t discount or remove The Order from the mix either. That game looks equally as fun, and terrifying. Will it be as difficult as the Souls games? We’ll have to wait and see until 2015 but if things keep going down this route for Bloodborne I’ll be forking out the money for the console. Or, if we get a Bloodborne bundle. That would be sweet. Here’s the debut trailer for Bloodborne that was shown during Sony’s E3 conference last week....

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC)

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC)

There aren’t many first-person shooters that can raise a smile via gunning down waves of enemies, only to stop you in your tracks and make you question some pretty heavy topics. Dual wielding machine guns while unleashing hell one bullet at a time in one moment, mulling over racism and oppression the next. Wolfenstein: The New Order is far from what was expected. Franchise protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz is back, complete with a voice and high-definition chin, and once again he’s battling the Third Reich. The New Order opens with a brief mission set during, what should be, the end of World War 2, as B.J. and his team assault a Nazi compound. Right from the start, the tones and themes of New Order are laid out: robotic Nazi Dogs; Frankenstein-like super-soldiers; and giant mechanical units dominating the field. The opening mission acts as a tutorial as well as an introduction to the game’s antagonist, General Deathead, climaxing in a choice that impacts the rest of the game. The story then picks up some years later, in a world where the Nazis have gone on to global domination. The alternative timeline is the perfect place for traditional Wolfenstein enemy designs to make an appearance. There’s a number of times in which the enemy design is genuinely impressive due to their sheer twisted creativity. Their over-the-top nature feeds into the desired tone of the game. At least for the most part. The New Order doesn’t seem to want to take itself too seriously, but at times its nature comes into conflict with the more somber moments of the game. For example, a number of times a cutscene will focus on the horrors of war, while there’s also a short scene in which the topic of racism is touched upon. While these sections are well done and give the game a sense of soul , they come off a little out of place given how over-the-top the game is.     The action is relentless and outlandish, removing any sense of realism in favor for sheer balls-to-the-wall fun. There’s a sense of unbridled power when B.J. dual-wields assault rifles and creates a tidal wave of bullets and Nazi corpses. The core enjoyment of New Order is down to how well Machine Games has nailed the gameplay. There’s a strong sense of understanding and appreciation for classic first-person shooters. Running and gunning has never felt so good, each movement furled with a tight control scheme that lends well to the fast-paced action at hand. Wolfenstein: The New Order freshens up the gameplay by including a perk system that feeds into how the player plays the game. Perks will unlock once the player has met the criteria. For example, the stealth tree requires stealth kills and keeping a low profile to progress. The other trees mostly cover making things die at the hands of various weapons. It’s a simple system that gives the player short-term goals to improve their efficiency in the way they play, and it’s welcome and well rounded addition to the franchise.   Shockingly, there’s quite a lot of freedom when it comes to how a player can approach most situations. Each level often plays host to a number of paths for the player to take. Want to go in all guns blazing? There’s a path for that. Want to take it slow, steady, and adopt a stealthy approach? Heck, there’s often two paths for that. The choices aren’t simply there for show–the stealth is genuinely well done for a game that’s mostly about shooting literally everything in front of the player. In terms of production value, The New Order ranges from fantastic to questionable. Cutscenes are beautiful, with some characters coming to life thanks to fantastic detail and smooth animation. The visuals during gameplay tend to dip in and out of being decent to rough, however. Some textures can look slightly last-gen, especially on the weapons. It’s not that the game looks bad, it’s just that it struggles to truly make the impression that the game fully belongs on the new hardware from Sony and Microsoft. The game’s audio is adequate but has little to get excited or complain about.     The New Order does a lot well, but there are a number of issues littered around throughout that stop it from truly excelling. The 18 certificate given to the game seems like the result of some awkwardly forced-in scenes. Sex scenes and some random gore moments feel out of place and forced, even more so when they are sandwiched in between some heavy ethical topics. Also, the weapons on offer feel a little tame, which is disappointing given how creative the game is elsewhere. The main issues are mostly buried in the technical side of things. Enemy AI can go a bit off the wall and unresponsive to the actions around them. Enemies can find themselves trapped on scenery, as well the player. Boss battles are also thrown into The New Order, none of which feel engaging or even challenging, allowing some sections to feel a little underwhelming. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a solid experience. The action is solid, the experience is enjoyable, and by the end of the decent-length campaign, the player feels truly well traveled thanks to a fantastic range of environments. It’s a shame, then, that The New Order struggles to keep a balance between being over-the-top and serious. Fun, conflicted, sometimes even sad, The New Order is enjoyable but not essential, but is nevertheless a return to form for a somewhat forgotten franchise.      ...

Bound By Flame First Impressions

Bound By Flame First Impressions

Bound By Flame was never a game on my radar. It didn’t appeal to me and with the multitude of other games coming out this month; I can’t say I was chomping at the bits for this game to hit store shelves. This coupled with the iffy reviews it was getting made me a bit wary about putting out the cash for Spiders’ newest product. To put it simply though, Bound By Flame has left me pleasantly surprised in its opening hours. Going into this game I wasn’t expecting a AAA, big budget game. The title only costs 50 USD (40 for PS3, 360 and PC), so I wasn’t looking for a massive game. The first thing that greeted me after electing a new game was the character creation screen. A very simple formula, Bound By Flame gives the user the option of gender and about 6 face and hair options. I chose to go the female route as the face models seemed better. The game took me into a few cut scenes to set up the story and before I knew it, I was in combat. This where Bound By Flame has me hooked. You are given the choice of three fighting styles: heavy attacks (swards axes), quick attacks (daggers), or fire powers (spells). You can switch on the fly with a menu that slows the world around you down and depending on the enemy or situation; you can select the combat style that suits you. The combat system features your basic hack and slash moves, but incorporates an awesome parry and dodge system that gives this game a beautiful rhythm to it. Learning enemies’ patterns and working in your own attacks is what gives this game its charm and fun factor. I prefer the quick combat of the daggers as it allows you more movement in battle and I love the dodging feature. Another thing I like from the game is the art style. It may not be one hundred percent original, but it just works for this sort of game. Sometimes when I’m playing a game like this the art style won’t fit and it will pull me out of the experience. In Bound By Flame I believe the artists did a great job of making a believable world. My only complaint is a simple one; the dialogue can get a bit cheesy at times. This is one of the few areas that you can tell Spiders’ budget wasn’t huge. The voice actors, while adequate, sometimes cheese up their lines and over dramatized things. I’ve heard a few complain about the swearing, but honestly, it hasn’t put me off too much. Yes it does happen, but not enough to put you off. All in all, Bound By Flame is a solid game. I’m about three hours into it and I’m really enjoying my time. I hope that it will continue this upward trend as I’m just getting into the real story. The combat is fun, the game is challenging and those coupled with the price tag makes Bound By Flame a title that recommend someone looking for a fun RPG pick up....

Is the Lack of Hype for Thief 4 Good or Bad?

Is the Lack of Hype for Thief 4 Good or Bad?

There’s been a distinct lack of hype for the upcoming release of Thief 4 thus far, even more so given its release on both Xbox One and PS4. Sure, there are launch trailers popping up all over the internet, interviews with big sites and walkthroughs and so forth, yet there still seems to be a distinct lack of excitement or anticipation building up around the game. But is this advantageous or something to be concerned about? Perhaps the strong roots the franchise has with the PC audience, and the gap between releases, has allowed Thief 4 to go under the radar, almost. Given the franchise’s consistent quality, it feels like Thief 4 deserves more of the spotlight, especially since it’s one of the most anticipated, ostensibly ‘big’ games to hit both new consoles in early 2014. But the game simply does not seem to have much of a presence in print media or online–at least in terms of adverts and other forms of marketing.   Worryingly, the lack of presence could hurt the game’s commercial success, and given how one poorly selling game can end a studio, this is a pretty big risk to run. It’s worrying that a new entry in an established franchise is (no pun intended) sneaking out onto store shelves as opposed to making its presence well known. It’s not even that the genre is niche–the success of Dishonoured disproves that theory–or that the market is over-saturated. Early adopters of the PS4 & Xbox One are crying out for games to play on their new machines, yet a decent number of people seem unaware of Thief 4‘s impending release. Alternatively, one could argue that the lack of hype surrounding the game could be an overwhelming positive; after all, if a game has no hype it’s hard to be disappointed. Going into a game with little-to-no knowledge of its content often results in unearthing a new favorite. With little expectation there is rarely room to be disappointed, and this could allow Thief 4 to achieve the status of cult hit–and even earn success via word of mouth. Also, Thief 4‘s mission structure is very open-ended, meaning the world of let’s play videos, video streamers, and just general chatter about experiences within the game could be enough to cover the lack of marketing. It seems highly possible, much in the same way Skyrim was/is, that each person will have their own approach and experiences to discuss.   Thief 4 marks the start of a year packed full of big games, as well as the return of a much-loved franchise. While the walkthroughs, gameplay videos, and trailers hint towards at least a solid game, the proof will be in the finished product, as always. The lack of marketing and buzz could be a blessing in disguise, but nevertheless, it still carries a significant element of risk. Hopefully Thief 4 proves to be a fantastic experience and is met with the appropriate success, proving that consumers are interested in more than just run-of-the-mill corridor shooters....

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