Pinbal FX2 – Venom table review

I remember when I was younger spending time at the pub with the family, we get roast potatoes and something to drink and if we were really good we get to play on the pinball machine, which was even better when we found the special button to give us as many free goes as possible.

Being able to play Pinball on my Xbox all these years later is almost as good as having the real thing, and to be fair about as close as I’ll get to actually owning one! I’ve played all sorts of pinball games but Pinball FX2 has had me constantly going back to play again and again. The huge amount of tables on offer means there is something for everyone.

The latest table to be released is a an enemy of that Spider-Man, Venom. As you may or may not know, Venom originally started out as bonding with Spider-Man before he realises how evil it is and separates himself. Venom eventually becomes one of Spidey’s archenemies, and is considered one of the greatest threats to humanity.

The Venom Pinball FX2 table is pretty good, although I found it much more challenging than any of the other tables I have played. Firstly it feels much smaller than any table, it’s possibly down to the fact the table has two sections, the lowest part doesn’t give you much room for manoeuvre, but as you become accustomed to the table you’ll find yourself hitting the shots that will get you to the upper section.

Venom is located in the upper section and that’s where most of the missions take place. At some point you’ll hit enough of the required lanes to release Carnage, a that point Spiderman and Venom will work together to hold him off. Of course most of the time you are trying to help disrupt Venom by using the upper flippers to create multipliers, ringing the bell tower and creating fires.

Back on the lower sections of you manage to break the locks on Spidey’s black suit you’ll start a multiball section, how long will you last? There is a lock button down there too but I found it pretty hard to hit.

The table looks great and I enjoyed the voice acting of the characters, if you are a big Spiderman fan then this table is really worth checking out, it will take a lot of practice to master but once you do it will be worth it!

Thanks to Zen Studios for supplying TiX with a download code

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Something for the weekend: Game Wars

Is it me or did the week just fly by? Rushing past without so much as a hello or a goodbye! It’s Friday again and that means it’s time for something for the weekend. This week I give you the talented (and funny) Andrew McMurry and his game war video parodies.

So who would win – Mario or Minecraft’s Steve? Dovahkiin versus Vault Boy? Take a look below and keep an eye out for Andrew’s next project!

Blue Estate rolling into Xbox One soon

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Back in April last year, we brought you news of a Kinect game for the Xbox One based on Viktor Kalachev’s Blue Estate. Well, it’s ID@Xbox announcement day by the looks of it and Blue Estate hasn’t been left forgotten on the driveway.

Developer, Hesaw have confirmed that the game, based on Kalachev’s comic books of the same name, will release on the 18th of February.

Get yourself immersed in the world of the Los Angeles mafia, fully loaded with original humour, gameplay and fun. Play as Tony Luciano, the homicidal maniac son of Don Luciano, and Clarence, an ex-navy Seal who has been hired to clean up Tony’s mess. Utilise the motion controls of your Kinect, if you have one gathering dust under the TV, rescue your girlfriend, dancer Cherry Popz, and wage war on the Sik Gang.

Xbox Live Gold member? Hesaw have confirmed that you’ll get 20% off the regular price if you are. It’s all good in the hood.

Hesaw have released a lovely new trailer to whet your appetite, and here it is.

Unmechanical: Extended Review

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Nothing pleases me more than robots. Big robots, small robots, transforming robots, cute little robots with a hint of steampunk and a propeller on their head, all appeal in equal measure. Previously released on Steam, Unmechanical: Extended has such a robot, as mentioned latterly above and he’s just this side of funky.

Billed as an adventure puzzler that combines platforming, memory, logical and linear thinking puzzles, Unmechanical: Extended will slowly draw you into its world of flesh, rock and steel. You are a little robot that has been kidnapped and you are tasked with solving all of the puzzles put before you in order to escape.

After a short intro where you are shown how your floating character was kidnapped, or should that be robot-knapped, you are dropped into the most basic of control and feature tutorials. This, as it goes, is not to the detriment of the game, as the controls themselves are very simplistic. You can move around the arena with powered propeller flight and you can manipulate objects and even pick them up if small enough with a nifty little tractor-beam.

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The game starts you off trying to escape from the underground complex you’ve been pulled into. The initial puzzles are simple and are probably designed to make those self-same controls second nature and give it a nice gentle difficulty curve to start you off. During these early levels, you are introduced to the interactive nature of the environment you find yourself trapped inside. Switches can be thrown, electrical wires have to be reconnected, weights and measures are explored. The variety of the puzzles themselves is commendable from the outset.

These initial puzzles also get you used to the graphics of the environment. This is a sumptuous, dark, steampunk-inspired environment. Sometimes, indeed, the environment is too dark and it becomes difficult to determine exactly which switch, rock, girder or even door you’re supposed to be headed for. That being said, the graphics are ideal and central to the game itself. They are brilliantly animated and very well rendered. The only problem you may face is which parts of your surroundings are actually interactive.

The loose parts of the scenery that you can lift respond to gravity as well, giving you the all-new problem of inertia when moving some items, especially when they need to be stacked, and as your tractor-beam allows them to swing, pendulously, getting them in the exact place can be quite tricky. The object of the puzzles varies, from moving light sources to different placements, to redirecting laser beams, to simply loosening large items to crash through a locked door. All help towards the ultimate objective of escape.

The levels themselves are a mixture of cavernous to small, all filled with the variety of puzzles already mentioned. Some of these are almost organic and others are industrial to the point of being dangerous. They all feel ominous, to the point of being oppressive. It’s like a digital version of 90s game show, The Crystal Maze, without Richard O’Brien, the crystals or the frankly daft contestants. These contestants inevitably got confused and came out. Get confused in Unmechanical: Extended and you can fall back on tapping the help button. This was the most frustrating part of the game for me. The hints, if you can call them hints, are mostly a question mark in a thought bubble. Sometimes they work and they’ll give you a graphic of what you might want to try, but mostly, you’ll simply get the standard Crystal Maze contestant response, the confused look.

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This means you are generally left to your own devices to try to solve the puzzle you’re working on solving. You’ve no idea if you’re doing things in the correct order, or indeed if you’re even manipulating or moving the correct objects. This can have the effect of making you immensely proud of having solved such a tricky conundrum. Adversely, it can leave you tearing your hair out in frustration as nothing you try opens the door, releases the light for transport or activates that tricky switch. The fact that there are no time constraints for the most part is of benefit but doesn’t lend to the urgency you should be feeling to escape. It all feels very pedestrian.

Musically, the game has a constant background track that, while unobtrusive and complimentary to the setting, is largely bland and uninspiring and could have done with being a little more varied, to inspire some urgency at the very least. The sound effects are done well, with the moving parts of the scenery all clanking, whirring, beating & sploshing away happily.

Playability for the game as a whole, is just about right. The puzzles are not all blatantly obvious, which would simply spoil the game, but neither are they so difficult that would make the game simply unplayable as a challenge. The simplicity of the controls adds to the ease of playability for the game. Your little robot responds well to your movements and unless you’re trying to place something precisely, you can guide it pretty much wherever it needs to be with a certain amount of precision and ease.

Unmechanical: Extended, overall, is a funpuzzler with a variety of challenges set in a well animated and graphically dark world. While the controls are easy to master and simple, the lack of an accurate help system lets the game down slightly. There are many levels to challenge you and the updated and improved version of the original Unmechanical comes with the added bonus of a console-exclusive story episode – queue the “Extended” part of the title – this new set of puzzles focuses on rescuing a robot friend who has also been robot-knapped by the underground system.

Throughout this game you’ll uncover secrets about your captors and discover a couple of endings, all while solving those tricky puzzles. Should you pick it up? Yes, it’s not your run-of-the-mill puzzler and while it’s not perfect, it is a very good game in its own right. Go for it.

Thanks to Grip Games for supplying TiX with a download code.

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MagNets hoping to pull in the fans through ID@Xbox

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Thursdays, must be ID@Xbox announcement day down at the Indie developer’s pub. Hot on the heels of other ID@Xbox program games, UK developer Total Monkery have announced MagNets will be coming to Xbox One this year.

Headed by former LucasArts developer, Richard Weeks, Total Monkery are set to release this robot collect-’em-up this year.

Everything was perfect in Polarity City, until so many of the Bloxbots you are tasked with maintaining keep going wrong. As a robotic Park Ranger, you are required to capture them in your electromagnetic net, or MagNet, and short circuit them. Deliver them to the Recycletron in return for bonus goodies. Something is very wrong though, where are all the Magnapets and why are all the Bloxbots going wrong? Save Polarity City from this potential catastrophe and be the robotic, magnetic hero you were manufactured to be.

Promising fast arcade action, MagNets is aiming to launch in late March, early April. Have a look at the gameplay trailer below and see if it’s something you’ll be looking at investing in.

Battlefield 4 Second Assault DLC free for EA Access subscribers

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EA Access subscribers will be pleased to hear that EA has added even more content to its already bargain-filled service.

The subscription service already grants players free access to Battlefield 4 and its first batch of downloadable content but for a limited time only, players will be able to download the Second Assault pack free of charge.

You have from now until 28th February 2015 to grab the content which includes four new maps, five new achievements, five new weapons and two new vehicles to play around with.

So, what’re you waiting for EA Access subscribers? Get downloading!

Badland Game of the Year Edition coming soon to Xbox One

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Don’t you love the ID@Xbox program? It’s hopefully going to give some of the great games from the Xbox 360 or, indeed, some other platforms, a new lease of life and a new army of fans on the Xbox One.

Frogmind’s hit, from mainly mobile platforms, Badland, has been announced for Xbox One through the aforementioned ID@Xbox program.

This is coming in the spring of this year and will benefit from being saddled with the much vaunted Game of the Year Edition mantle.

What does this mean for Badland? It means that it will come with 4 times more content than the original release did. Apple’s 2013 Game of the Year has been revamped for the Xbox One with hand painted full HD visuals and the controls have been optimised for the One’s analog stick and triggers and each level has been tweaked to accommodate these enhancements.

So, what is Badland? It’s a side-scrolling action/adventure with physics-based gameplay. Utilise the environment, avoid the traps, try not to get squished. You’ll have to have quick reflexes and a keen eye for that all-important safe path through playing this though. Are you up to the task?

Don’t take my word for it though, have a look at the Xbox One release trailer and make your own minds up.