Video Games / Platform / XboxOne

The Evil Within – Modern Horror Fails To Scare

The Evil Within – Modern Horror Fails To Scare

The Evil Within has described by a number of sites as ‘terrifying’. A game that shakes the player to the core with fear, a true horror title…yet from what I’ve played it’s not even slightly unnerving. If there’s one thing The Evil Within does well, it’s represent the state of modern horror. ‘LOOK AT THIS, IT’S VILE!!’ seems be the games theme. Gore, gore and more gore. Gore is not scary, sure it’s a little jarring at first, but it’s never scary. The Evil Within leans onto gore far too much, and the horror is lost in a shade of pink mist. Disgusting imagery, blood covered visuals, this is not fear inducing. The best horror video games (and films) work for their scares. Tension, atmosphere, a sense of dread, all of this is crafted and earned. The Evil Within reeks of a game trying too hard to scare. While the scenery and Imagery does unnerve, the rushed attempts to scare cheapen the overall product. There’s a difference between fear and panic, the latter is mostly the emotion felt throughout the game. Does this make the Evil Within a bad game? No, of course not. While the desired scares are not present, the game still provides a pretty loose horror feel. The problem is, The Evil Within has been marketed as a scary experience. The target audience has already seen everything The Evil Within has to offer, right down to the last drop of blood. Heck anyone who played Dead Space 1 & 2 has seen everything The Evil Within has to offer, repetitive events are not scary, just predicable. The lack of consequences attached to the main character is also a major con. Not being truly attached to a sense of reality within the game results in death feeling rather trivial. The fact the protagonist rarely questions anything, or even reacts for the most part, result in the game feeling rather hollow. The failure to scare may not be entirely down to the developers. Modern horror is far more of a spectacle, a much more rushed affair. Slow build ups are replaced with sharp musical score, people see everything, nothing is left to the imagination. While there is shock value, at least briefly, to modern horror, it’s hardly anything that truly scares. The best scares aren’t done visually, they’re done by going passed visuals and into the subconscious. A great example of modern scares is P.T. It may be brief, but it builds up tension, creates a atmosphere, suckers the player in and then starts to play with them. The Evil Within is still enjoyable, it’s just a shame it’s not the horrific experience it could have been. A example of modern horror and all that is wrong with it, nothing but spectacle. Times may change back to where horror becomes more of a result of craftsmanship rather than gore. For now, all we can do is wait, wait and support titles like Alien: Isolation that earns it’s scares.    ...

Destiny – A Few Minor Changes, For The Greater Good

Destiny – A Few Minor Changes, For The Greater Good

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

Shadow Of Mordor’s Nemesis System Is A Game Changer

Shadow Of Mordor’s Nemesis System Is A Game Changer

Death has become a little bit of a joke in most modern video games. Quick saves, lacking of challenge, the threat and consequences of death are simply not taken into account any more. Sure there’s rare cases of death being seen as a threat in the likes of Dark Souls, Zombie U and Alien: Isolation, but they don’t effect the game world. The concept of the players death effecting the game world is intriguing, this is where Shadow of Mordor comes in. Death is simply a event, it’s a game changer. The Nemesis system gives the act of dying a sense of real impact, the game is getting harder, the enemies are becoming tougher, death has genuine consequences. Being slain by a enemy, seeing that enemy earn a promotion for the kill, becoming more powerful, it’s a oddly giddy experience. There’s a morbid curiosity to witnessing how the players death affects the game world.   The Nemesis system install a organic sense to Shadow of Mordor, almost to the point where it feels like a reactive world. The player simply isn’t there to interact with their surroundings, they’re there as part of a progressing universe, a cog in the system. The fact enemies can grow and improve by killing the player, gives each battle a sense of risk, making it a much more intense experience. In the grand scheme of the Nemesis system doesn’t just focus on the player. There’s a deep rooted civil war that sees the game in a constant state of change. Taking out a captain open ups a gap for a new captain. When the player is killed, a new captain is created who in turn brings his friends into the other vacant roles. This kicks off a chain reaction or power struggles and recruitment attempts, a truly organic system changing the games world. The players death is always a huge event in the game, and the knock on effect can be felt for hours of in-game time.   Shadow of Mordor should be praised to the high heavens having such a brilliantly devilish system at it’s core. It’s rare that modern video games tries something truly new, something truly game changing. Similar systems could easily be put to use in other genres, such as sports and racing games. The concept of a rival remembering the player, improving from their last encounter, is mouth watering. The Nemesis system could usher in a new bloodline of video games where the worlds feel more organic and reactionary. Here’s to hoping that this is the first step into a whole new video game world....

Destiny – The Lack of Matchmaking Is Inexcusable

Destiny – The Lack of Matchmaking Is Inexcusable

There’s nothing worse than seeing a well respected developer lower their standards and begin to produce poor, half finished, products. It’s always easy to pick up on a half arsed effort in any form of media be it music, film or video games. Bungie were once known for producing quality video games, technically accomplished, well rounded, pure quality. Bungie’s fantastic run has been whole heartily brought to end with the release of Destiny, a true example of what happens when you pump big bucks into a game and rush it out to meet a pre-holiday release window. Destiny has been a huge commercial success, this does not reflect the games quality however. Bungie spent a long time promising the world to it’s fans. Explore a rich world, play how you want when you want, a brand new experience that combines the staples of Bungie with MMO themes. What we got was half a game missing a number of key features…and not many people seemed fussed…and that’s worrying. Destiny, in it’s current state, is a free-to-play experience covered in big budget productions. The lack of story, the lack of content, the lack of balance, the lack of basic quality of life features, it’s genuinely disgusting to see mostly online game released like this. The fact that a good chunk of the end game is locked due to the lack of online match making is pretty dire. Would we forgive this in other games from lesser known developers? Hell no. The main problem with Destiny is it feels utterly unfinished and untested. The lack of content is a huge elephant in the room. ‘You can do heroic strikes and raids!’ while this is the true, the fact heroic strikes and raids are only accessible with a group of friends, this content instantly becomes unplayable by large a number of players. The end game is essentially locked away without putting a decent amount of effort into crawling around message boards looking for players (given there’s no voice/text chat in the game player hub ‘The Tower’, a little like a MMO released decades ago. The lack of content is indeed a issue, but the fact some of this content is not realistically playable due to lack of matchmaking feels whole heartily sloppy, perhaps even lazy, on Bungie’s behalf. It’s depressingly hilarious that a game with a budget of over $300 million, and a focus on online/social interaction, ships with zero matchmaking for it’s endgame. It makes the game feel rushed, unfinished. Get the game out, make the money, sort the issues out later…this is does not feel like the Bungie people became fans of. Destiny, as a whole, is full of issues and problems that suggested the Alpha/Betas were purely for PR/Marketing reasons. The lack of balance between classes in PvP, the loot table, bugged bounties, the excessive grinding. These issues can all be overlooked for now, but a lack of matchmaking is truly inexcusable.  ...

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.    ...

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....

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.  ...

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.      ...

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