Evolve launch event – London

London’s Barbican Centre was a sea of Red tonight, as Turtle Rock unleashed the beast at the Launch of Evolve. As you can probably imagine the room we all gathered in was red, really red.

Once I managed to bag a seat I primed myself with a controller and started out as one of the medics, I struggled in the beta possibly due to the fact that I didn’t gel with my tea, but this time it round it wasn’t to be the case, despite my skills being quite rusty I managed to combine with my teammates to take down the monster. I’ll admit to having more fun than I was expecting, you never feel like you have any chance against this huge beast that seems to get stronger and stronger, but work together and you have that fighting chance.

I spent a fair bit of time watching some brilliant matches, and the reactions from the two sides were really entertaining, if Evolve is going to do well it’s because you are never quite sure who is going to come out on top. If Turtle Rock can maintain that balance there could be some good game nights ahead.

It wasn’t long before the tournaments began, the competition was fierce and although I didn’t take part it was fun to watch, I got the feeling that this could actually fit into the eSports arena quite well. There was a masterclass in Evolve from gaming broadcaster Sacriel before the guests had to chance to talk to the developers on the US via Skype.

Everyone at the event seemed to be having a good time and hopefully Evolve will enjoy a successful launch! We hope to receive a review copy soon and once we have had some proper time with it we’ll let you know what we think.

I have to give a huge thumbs up to the Venue, the Barbican is an awesome place, with so many things to do, if you get the chance to visit then do!

Big thanks to Xbox and 2K for a great evening.

The Crew has another patch on the way, online fixes and PvP inbound

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After it’s extremely rough launch late last year, Ubisoft are in the process of releasing yet another patch for The Crew which will hopefully fix a lot of the remaining issues that players are still facing.

As well as fixing a lot of problems, a brand new PvP mode is being introduced. The main goal? Eliminate everyone in the race on one of ten new tracks. Sounds interesting, at least.

You can find the full patch notes below.

New Content

  • New PvP mode
    The new PvP mode is an elimination race with 10 new tracks available.
  • New faction missions
    Four new faction missions will be released with the patch on Thursday, February 12.

Fixes and Updates

Online

  • The quick co-op feature has been improved, and several bugs related to joining sessions have been fixed.
  • PvP lobby improvements
    • Enabled browsing of players after selecting cars.
  • PvP session improvements
    • Matchmaking should now allow players to find more players quicker.

Statistics

  • Fixed the issue that was causing statistics to display incorrect data and/or simply reset the data.
    Previous data will not be restored, but new statistics should not be lost anymore.

Awards

  • Fixed an issue related to unlocking and tracking the progress of certain awards.

Challenges

  • Fixed an issue related to progression on challenges.

Frame rate

  • Improved frame rate in cockpit view.

UI

  • Fixed an issue when applying certain parts.

Friends

  • Fixed an issue related to a friend’s presence in game – their status will be set to offline when they quit the game.

Cars

  • Improvements and tweaking of several cars’ handling and speed.
    • Buggy’s grip has been improved in order for it to be able to climb hills as other Raid cars.
    • Fixed a bug where some cars were able to reach an extreme off-road top speed in reverse gear for:
      • Bentley Continental GT
      • Cadillac Escalade
      • Abarth 500
      • Alfa Romeo 4C
      • Hummer H1 Alpha
    • MINI Cooper S in Circuit Spec:
      • Toned down the nitro and grip for MINI Cooper S.
    • Lamborghini Murcielago in Circuit Spec:
      • Grip slightly improved when using nitro.

Missions

  • AI behavior in some missions improved.
  • AI and police car behavior in chase missions improved:
    • Opponent cars are now less aggressive, and they try more to follow players instead of taking them down.

Gameplay

  • Modifications applied to the friction on side barriers in order to avoid wall-riding exploit.

We’re all off to the Mekazoo on Xbox One

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There does appear to be a plethora of platformers currently hopping and jumping around the Xbox One at the moment, and The Good Mood Creators, a new studio founded by Jarrett Slavin and Justin Hoag, are about to introduce another to the fold.

Imagine, playing as one of five Mekanimals, each with their own unique skill, then imagine pairing up with another Mekanimal to enhance those skills into a powerful combo.

Mekazoo will allow you to do just this whilst platforming through a lushly-drawn 3D world. Destroy the insectoid army as you swing, boost, bounce, climb and fly through this world and fight to each character’s strengths. Play as the swiftly rolling Armadillo, the bouncing, stomping Wallaby, the acrobatically hopping Frog, the climbing cybernetic Panda or the gracefully gliding Pelican.

Mekazoo is scheduled to hit Xbox One nearer the end of the year. Looking at the gameplay trailer below, could this be the platformer that finally rivals Rayman? Tell us what you think.

 

The Escapists review

I push my desk under the ventilation shaft and clamber up, the cover blocking my way is off in a matter of seconds using the screwdriver I had bought from Bob earlier in the day, working my way through the ventilation system I visit a fellow inmate who sells me a bar of soap. Together with a stinky old sock I craft a mace and ‘sock’ the nearest guard and grab his uniform. I walk out into the yard undetected by the other prison officers. Next to the chain link fence is a hole where a shovel has been conveniently left, jumping in I continue the tunnel and dig my way out… I’m free… then I wake up still trapped in my cell. It was all just a dream and the tutorial to The Escapists.

TheEscapists (1)

The Escapists is a lighthearted top down adventure that puts you in the pixellated shoes of an inmate. From the rather pleasant confinement of Center Perks to the harsh maximum confinement of HMP Iron Gate, you must work out how to escape each of the six prisons in the shortest time possible. There’s no set routine of how each prison plays out, sure there’s the daily grind of getting up, attending roll call, eating, exercising, showering and working your day job but everything else is different – you are asked different favours by your fellow inmates and the items for sale or hidden in the various cell desks change – reloading a checkpoint makes the items shuffle too so you can’t rely on trial and error if your plan is based on looting a certain item.

The gameplay strikes a balance between sim and puzzle, but if you have an aversion to sims then The Escapists is probably not for you. The style of the game reminded me of my misspent days playing The Great Escape on the C64 and like the 8-bit adventure, The Escapists offers little in the way of hand holding. Money earned is spent on contraband from dealers or on pay phones to purchase ‘tips’ but for the most part you will need to experiment to work out the different ways you can escape – from creating a fake key by creating a mould using putty that you crafted from toothpaste and talcum powder to forging a shovel from timber, a file and a scrap of metal.

TheEscapists (5)

The construction of the 200+ craftable items are all rather obvious when you look at what component parts are available to you, but like Minecraft you are restricted by your own creativity. Similarly, your escape plan can be elaborate or simply involve digging a hole in a secluded spot of the prison but if you get busted it’s off to confinement for three days. Upon your return all of your efforts to escape will have been patched up and any items you’ve carefully collected (and hidden) will have been confiscated. It is a harsh punishment for failure but then this is prison!

The success to surviving is to keep your head down – be nice to your fellow inmates (and the guards where possible) and form your escape plan carefully, which sometimes means you will need to spend some time studying in the library to increase your intelligence – there is an attribute system that restricts your speed, movement and ability to craft certain items – only by visiting the gym and library will you increase them.

Prison life follows a strict routine but  you can duck out of your responsibilities at any time. Doing so will mean that you will be fired from your job and if you’re spotted by the prison guards during your extracurricular activities, their suspicion levels will increase, max it out and you’re in for a beating waking up in the infirmary with your health replenished, guard suspicion level reduced and any weapons or contraband you held confiscated. Missing roll call isn’t advisable either – the prison goes into lockdown and if you remain hidden, backup is called – upon arrival you are automatically busted.

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There are some freedoms to prison life – during the course of the day there are several free periods that you can use to go about whatever business you fancy – hit the gym, visit a loved one in the visitors centre or carry on digging that tunnel to freedom with plastic spoons you stole from the canteen. Free time is also a great time to complete favours or purchase items from fellow inmates. Each day there are several inmates with a handful of items for sale although if they dislike you don’t expect them to sell you anything. You can raise their opinion of you by doing favours or giving them useful items, this comes with its own issues though. You can’t go around giving gifts to anyone; you can only give items to prisoners that are offering something for sale, which means if you accept a favour to give Bob a plastic comb you can only give it to him on the day that he is selling – it can be most frustrating especially as you can only have four favours active at any one time – rejecting a favour only makes you unpopular.

It’s easy to become absorbed in the daily grind of prison life – to succeed you have to manage your time effectively to sneak in some recon of the prison layout, gather supplies or to increase your physical attributes while at the same time juggle relationships with the guards and inmates – no not those kind of relationships! What works for one prison might not work for another and each one gets steadily harder as you progress through the six prisons. There’s also a leaderboard showing you just how slow (or quick) you are at escaping compared to your friends – I won’t be winning any awards for fast getaways anytime soon!

The Escapists is a charming yet devious prison sim. Hours flew by as I plotted how to escape – at times the difficulty was excruciating as every person in the prison wanted my head under their boot but even after turning the game off my mind was racing to work out where I had gone wrong and just how I could tweak my plan to get around a hurdle that I hadn’t accounted for. The success of The Escapists is how well you can think outside the box, or rather, outside the prison cell – I’m sure there will be plenty of adventures to tell once the game releases on February 13.

Thanks to Team 17 for supplying TiX with a download code

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UK Charts: Advanced Warfare holds onto the top

The UK Chart remains largely unchanged this week with Saints Row IV taking the biggest fall from 4 to 12.

With Evolve due out this week, can the monster from 2K knock off Call of Duty Advanced Warfare? I reckon so – see you next week for the results!

Here’s how the rest of the chart shapes up for the week ending February 7.

Pos.  Title  Publisher  Last 
 Week 
1 Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare Activision 1
2 Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar 2
3 Fifa 15 EA Sports 3
4 Assassin’s Creed: Unity Ubisoft 8
5 Minecraft: Xbox Edition Microsoft 5
6 Minecraft: Playstation Edition Sony Computer Ent. 9
7 Destiny Activision 10
8 Call Of Duty: Ghosts Activision 7
9 Far Cry 4 Ubisoft 6
10 The Crew Ubisoft 11
11 WWE 2K15 2K Sports 12
12 Saints Row IV Re-Elected/Gat Out Of Hell Deep Silver 4
13 Terraria Xbox 360 Classics 13
14 Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Warner Bros. Interactive 15
15 Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor Warner Bros. Interactive 14
16 Watch Dogs Ubisoft 18
17 Disney Infinity 2.0 Disney Infinity 20
18 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Ubisoft 19
19 Forza Horizon 2 Microsoft 19
20 Dragon Age: Inquisition EA Games 17

 

Evolve gets a 3GB day one patch

As is the tradition of game releases these days, Evolve will be receiving a 3gb day on patch.

Here’s the full list of changes, direct from developer Turtle Rock:

BALANCING TWEAKS
We already noted this in an interview with Turtle Rock’s Chris Ashton, but we are constantly adjusting things in the background so that every Hunter and every Monster is finely tuned. What we learned about what’s being done to Wraith alone was eye-opening. A lot of the data gathered from the Big Alpha and Open Beta weekends helped us make these tweaks.

GAME AND LEVEL-LOADING OPTIMIZATIONS
As we strive to push the engine and cram as much as possible into your Evolve experience, we’re also working are to optimize performance on your system. These improvements range from load times to improving matchmaking and network bandwidth optimizations.

GENERAL BUG FIXES
During the Big Alpha and Open Beta periods we asked you – our community – for your help and feedback. We are addressing bugs found during our tests and we have you to thank for making Evolve that much stronger with this patch.

NEW ELITE SKINS
After the Big Alpha, we wanted to rework the Elite skins for Hunters and Monsters based on feedback we got from the community. The results of those requests are right here in this patch. We’ve updated or outright replaced the assets that were already in the game. All you need to do to unlock them: earn them.

CONNECTIVITY TO THE EVOLVE HUNTERS QUEST APP
This patch adds connectivity to work with Evolve Hunters Quest. We recently unveiled the game / companion app for Evolve. In one respect, it’s a fun Match-3 puzzle combat game. But it also has ties into the main console game through the my2K servers. Earn experience and watch overhead match replays through the app. Best of all, it’s free for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

#IDARB sport commentary video: Game 1

What if a game of #IDARB had sport commentary? Well wonder no more, because we’ve gone and done it.

Join Greg Giddens and Steve Peacock as they slow down footage from a game of #IDARB and perform commentary for it. Then laugh with delight as the second half of the video speeds the footage back to normal, bumping up the commentary audio to match.

Slow motion footage and ordinary commentary 0:00-15:46

Normal footage and sped up commentary from 15:46

Plants vs Zombies invade Dying Light

There’s so much to do and see in Dying Light but once you’re done with surviving the night cycle or mopping up those last few missions, what else if left to do in Harran? Well you could see if you can find an undiscovered Easter Egg!

So far we’ve seen the famous Destiny Loot Cave, the Left for Bread shop and even a Super Mario level – today I witnessed a new one, which of course is already out there on YouTube – Plants vs Zombies!

Check it out below as xGarbett shows you how and where it is:

 

Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer stats

Did you take part in the Halo 5 beta at the end of last year? What did you think of it? I didn’t get as much time as I would have liked on it but according to the cool Infographic below plenty of you did and there are some great stats to look over.

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There is also a really interesting letter from Josh Holmes explaining exactly what feedback from the Beta has done to help the development of the game. If you are into that sort of detail then it’s well worth checking out!

Life is Strange: Episode 1 review

Sometimes, it’s a struggle to write about games. They’re either so awful that I can’t think of anything diplomatic enough, or they’re so fantastic that I can’t stop myself from gushing about it. Life is Strange is a Dontnod game. The last Dontnod game I played was the fantastic Remember Me. I was hoping beyond all hope that I’d be gushing by the end of playing this.

Life is Strange, then, is an episodic teen based drama centred on the main character of Max Caulfield. Max is an 18-year-old student in the town of Arcadia Bay, returning after a 5 year absence in Seattle, to her childhood home. This episode starts with the feeling that Max is looking to find herself again, find the happiness in her life by returning to the place where she felt the most fun. Things have changed in Arcadia Bay though, as Max will discover throughout this episode. There was much made of the fact that Life is Strange includes a female lead and in truth, that is where the similarities between Remember Me and this game end.

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With the onus on being an adventure rather than action-centric, the story is pretty much a digital choose-your-own-adventure. From the very beginning though, things feel a little different, is history repeating itself, has Max become psychic? By accident, Max discovers that she can reverse time and maybe, just maybe, change the events that have unfolded before her. To alter this butterfly effect, Max reverses time and plays out the choices again. You can skip some of the interaction if you go too far, but like any paper version of the choose-your-own, there comes a point where you’ll have to come down off the fence either way and move on, regardless of the consequences.

The initial introduction to this rewind power sees you in class at the Academy, playing out a number of scenarios in order to introduce a number of the main, but incidental, characters. This introduction carries on through the halls of the school, until you bear witness to an argument in the girl’s restroom. Nothing unusual there, you might imagine, until Max witnesses the murder of a girl in the restroom. The stage is set when you are placed back where you started, with the slowly dawning realisation that you can save this girl’s life.

Throughout the game, as you explore, you can interact with pretty much most characters in one way or another and the interactions are highlighted in an obvious way. Using this medium means that there will be very little that you’ll miss if you have the time to explore the grounds of the Academy. There are, indeed, a few Easter eggs in the game for those of us with a nosey turn of mind so it’s worth spending that little extra time on having a good old root around.

The grounds themselves are presented beautifully. The graphical nature of the game lends itself very well to the story, with the changing environment and weather effects represented well in the visuals. Arcadia Bay is a symphony in colour and light, with this episode illuminated by the setting sun. Each character is individual and fits in perfectly with the interactive surroundings. Max’s wet look is a little concerning, however, with the effect making her look like she’s been dipped in cling-film.

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Max and her co-stars all move very fluidly, I saw nothing that would suggest anything other than a polished graphical offering here, other than the rain effect. From the birds, to the skittering squirrels, to the cars and individual rooms, all have a definite personality stamped on them. This is all wrapped together nicely with a gentle and complimentary soundtrack. The other incidental sounds, again, sit nicely in the environment. The trees rustle, the birds in them all sing nicely and even some of the additional characters all shout and laugh in the background. Life generally goes on around Max as she makes her way around with a single-minded purpose only a young woman could muster.

Any young woman would keep a journal, and Max is no different. This journal is central in keeping track of the other characters, the environment, some useful post-it hints and indeed, links to one of Max’s other staples, her text messages on her mobile. The other medium that Max can use to interact is her camera. You can earn achievements by taking the right picture in the right environment all under the pretence that she’ll submit one to her tutor at the Academy. There is an element of being led around by the nose here but the choices you need to make give it a fresh feel, even with the mechanic of rewind giving you the ability to find information out and change the fact that you’ve even been there.

Each scenario is designed to learn more about Max and to help her develop as a character. There are a few hurdles that Max has to overcome in the course of finding herself. Personal milestones that will either help or hinder depending on the choices you make during the course of the episode. There is an on-screen hint system to help you with these choices, and using the rewind mechanism, you can also change your mind and provide the right answer, if there is one and therein lies the dilemma. Is there a right answer? The moral and social dilemma of rifling through another character’s room gives genuinely uncomfortable moments. This helps you really connect with Max as the episode progresses, even though, ostensibly, this episode is an introduction and scene-setter.

So, what stops this game being simply the best episodic drama adventure out there? What could make Life is Strange even better? The reactionary acting is a little sterile. The Academy Principal for example, while his head has a wobble football manager Harry Redknapp would be proud of, does seem massively over-calm when presented with a particularly serious accusation. Indeed, some of the dialogue is hugely out of vogue. 18-year-olds don’t tend to use the word ‘hella’ or the phrase ‘for reals’ quite as often as Max and Chloe appear to.

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Chloe for example, bearing in mind the voice actor is Ashly Burch, Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2, looks the part, moves the part, but when she speaks, I’m left wondering who the real Chloe actually is. Perhaps I’ve hit on it, maybe that’s how it’s meant to be. It’s probably the most disappointing aspect of the game as a whole. Some characters are there purely as a moral decision, Chloe’s step-dad is an eminently dislikeable bully, yet even interactions between him & Chloe evoke a response in Max that needs a decision from you, even if they aren’t earth-shattering or have the consequences you were expecting.

Life is Strange, episode 1 is a cracking start, a great introduction to the saga of Arcadia Bay and the life and abilities of Max Caulfield. It falls short of making me gush though. The voice-acting is weak and the storyline could encourage this to be a little better, but sadly doesn’t. There are some aspects of the dream sequences that are baffling at times and the less I say about Max’s wet appearance, the better. It’s a good start, as I say, hopefully, the next episode will build on this and draw me in to Blackwell Academy and Max’s choice-making even further.

Thanks to Square Enix for supplying TiX with a download code

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