The Deer God will launch officially tomorrow, September 1st, on Xbox One as part of the September Games With Gold. A brand new trailer is available in celebration of its release.
The Deer God is a karmic journey through a beautiful but hostile world. For your sins against deerkind, you have been reincarnated as a tender fawn.//
As a flannel-clad hunter, you couldn’t quite resist the perfect shot at a wild buck. For your sins against deerkind, you have been reincarnated as a tender fawn. While your new path is fraught with danger, it also provides an opportunity to redeem yourself.
Prance, bound and frolic your way through a procedurally generated 2.5D world with dynamic lighting, distinct biomes and a day/night cycle. Mate with fellow deer and amass an affectionate following that will help you overcome the predators and puzzles ahead. Just remember that the Deer God is always watching, and your actions count in this game.
Striking combination of 2.5D pixel art and depth of field effects
Growth from fawn to stag and reincarnation influenced by karma
Procedurally generated world with dynamic weather, day/night and biomes
Gather herds and mate with deer to produce offspring (checkpoints)
Atmospheric original soundtrack by Evan Gipson (Mines of Mars)
They also revealed “Augment Your Pre-Order” – the pre-order campaign for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, in which increasing tiers of pre-order bonuses will be unlocked as more copies of the game are reserved, worldwide in select countries. The campaign will give fans an opportunity to collectively expand and enhance their own customized Day One Edition of the newest entry in the Deus Ex® franchise. In the spirit of emphasizing player choice, fans will be able to choose which pre-order bonuses they will receive from each unlocked tier. In addition the fans will have the opportunity to shift the official release date early by 4 days.
Augment Your Pre-Order Campaign Details:
TIER 1 – ONE ITEM PER PRE-ORDER (UNLOCKED FOR EVERYONE ON AUG. 31)
Choose between three Starter Packs that cater to stealth, aggressive or nostalgic players.
· Intruder Pack – Provides a custom-skinned version of Adam Jensen’s trench coat and pistol with a silencer, laser sight, recoil and accuracy upgrades. Other bonuses include two EMP grenades, five packs of 10MM pistol ammo, 1000 credits and a Praxis point for early augmentations.
· Enforcer Pack – Includes a custom-skinned version of Adam Jensen’s combat armor and combat rifle with a holosight, reload and capacity upgrades. Players will also receive two HE grenades, five packs of 5.56MM combat rifle ammo, 1000 credits and a Praxis Point for early augmentations
· Classic Pack – Grants access to Adam Jensen’s iconic combat armor, trench coat and revolver from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Players will also receive an extra pack of revolver Ammo.
TIER 2 – ONE ITEM PER PRE-ORDER
Pick between one of two bonuses that further immerse players into the game world – a digital art book that shows the aesthetic of the game, or a digital OST sampler with six tracks from award winning composer Michael McCann.
TIER 3 – AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE
Unlock the “Desperate Measures” pre-order mission in which Adam returns to the epicenter of the Ruzicka Train Station explosion and must rely on his augmentations and covert operative skills to unveil the true culprit responsible for the bombing.
TIER 4 – ONE ITEM PER PRE-ORDER
Get an in-depth look at the Deus Ex universe with a digital comic book that dives deeper into the game’s global conspiracies, or with a novella that follows iconic characters from Deus Ex: Human Revolution with new and unknown details on their lives.
TIER 5 – AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE
For the first time in the franchise’s history, if players meet this tier, the game will release four days before the official release date.
With the emergence of ID@Xbox there have been some top quality titles hitting the Xbox Store, it also gives players a chance to experience titles such as Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse. Having had the chance to play the game previously on the Playstation Vita I was looking forward to the chance of playing it again on a big screen.
The Broken Sword series was originally conceived in 1994 by Charles Cecil and has seen many different titles right up to The Serpent’s Curse, which was originally released in 2013 and was funded as a Kickstarter project.
Broken Sword 5 begins in 1937 in Catalonia, Spain, when a painting is seized by a man and his fascist army. The game then jumps to the present day, where we see the familiar faces of George and Nico. George is a good looking, American man who the French clearly love (well, love is a strong word) And Nico, a freelance photo journalist working for a newspaper called “La Liberte”, always on the lookout for a big story.
By chance, they meet in a Paris Art Exhibition where they witness a murder by a man disguised as a Pizza Delivery driver, who then goes on to steals random painting from one of the walls, called la Maledicció.
This is where you gain control in the story. Control wise the game is pretty simple, it is a point and click after all. You use the left stick to move the cursor around to select objects and people and then one of the buttons to perform a certain action, the Xbox Controller vibrates whenever you pass over something to note. It would obviously be quicker if you had a mouse to use but I didn’t feel like I was being impeded by using a controller.
As you play through the game there are plenty of puzzles to solve, conversations to be had and information to take in, but it’s a great story that will see you travel the world. The first half of the game is quite pedestrian, you will spend time going back and forth to the same locations as the story unfolds. It’s in the second half of the story that the game really gets going. The puzzles start to become more challenging, there are riddles to solve and some cryptic clues to decipher, but if you get really stuck there is a hint system to help you along. You are able to combine items you collect in the game with characters or other items to help you in your way, conversation plays an important role too, as you discuss various topics with other people new subject can appear that can lead to important information. There is plenty of trial and error, but it never felt like a chore.
That doesn’t mean the game isn’t frustrating at all, because it is. There are times where George and Nico find themselves in danger, but because of the point and click nature, you never feel like you are in danger. As you try to get yourself out of a situation they just amble along to wherever you direct them, the lack of urgency and threat in ruins the suspense.
When I played Broken Sword on the Vita, I though the game looked lovely but it’s even better on the Xbox One, the game has a beautiful colour palette, and the hand drawn graphics are lovely. Audio wise there are no complaints either, the soundtrack is very soothing, and the voice acting is good too. The script is well written and contains lots of humour (there are plenty of in-jokes for fans of the series in general) and you’ll see some familiar faces return from the series.
I certainly enjoyed playing the game again on the Xbox One, and was glad attention had been paid to make sure that the game suited the console. There are also achievements and they have been well thought out, if anything they will make you pay more attention to your surrounding and make you explore the environments more closely. Broken Sword 5 brings a great change of pace to the Xbox One, and most point and click fans will enjoy the experience.
Acting as a sequel/continuation of Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play, Online Game Pioneers at Work is another in-depth collection of interviews with game developers shining a light on the process of creating games, building a company and the trails, tribulations and successes that go with it. The focus this time is on online IPs and company structure, but each interviewee has a great deal more knowledge to share about general development and how their passion for videogames and creativity shaped their careers.
It’s a fascinating read spanning interviews with 16 of the top online game pioneers in the industry. Emily Greer, co-founder of the online portal for flash games, Kongregate; co-founder of Origin Systems turned astronaut, Richard Garriott; and Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeshuk, co founders of BioWare, are but a few of those author Morgan Ramsay interviewed, each sharing their own personal story about a career in an industry they love, openly and frankly sharing the difficulties and successes of creating games and building companies within this competitive and dynamic industry.
As each interviewee tells their in-depth story you feel their struggles, celebrate their successes and experience their fears, uncertainties, nostalgia and relief. It’s a remarkable journey for you as a reader. This is partly because of the overwhelming passion of each developer; their love for all things videogame related is palpably evident, meanwhile, Morgan Ramsay probes with beautifully fluid and open questions, allowing the conversation to flow and immerse you in its narrative of hobby turned to passion turned to career. The process of developing games and building a company has seldom felt so real and personal.
Moreover, because these are such frank and in-depth interviews, the knowledge you can glean from it is immense. Whether you are interested in the industry as a player who wants to see more behind the curtain, a journalist looking for a deeper understanding, or a developer looking to follow in the interviewee’s footsteps, this is an invaluable resource.
Indeed Online Game Pioneers at Work is a terrific read. discovering each developer’s story and following their accounts of developing in different eras and countries, and then enveloping yourself in their shared passion, is invigorating. You’re likely to come away from reading this even more excited about videogames than you all ready are. You’ll have a greater understanding of how they’re developed, the goals of a development teams, the love, care, time, money, sweat and blood that’s poured into them. It’s a harsh industry, certainly, and these accounts paint it vividly and truthfully, but there’s no denying it’s creative pull, superb products, and fascinating members.
Thanks to Morgan Ramsay and Apress for their support
In the future, where the world is on the verge of total nuclear war, victory at all costs is the buzz phrase for warden Keene, the man in charge of Facility 7. This complex houses the preeminent research of Curiatis Corporation in the continuous cold war against an unseen enemy. On the verge of all out war, all moral complexities are outweighed by the over-riding need to stay one step ahead of the competition.
You are Prisoner XE-47623, a death row inmate transferred into the facility as a test subject in their advanced weaponry division with one goal; succeed at all costs and earn a reprieve. You are presented with a requirement to fulfill testing of the Alexandr Durov prototype or “Magnet Gun”.
Warden Keene provides you with the physical challenges in the test environment where Dr Karen Womberg challenges you to the only form of morality that seems to exist within this world. These choices represent the multiple paths that make up the nine variable endings that can be encountered during your exploits.
Cage Closed wears its influences proudly on its sleeve. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Valve should be somewhat gratified. The silent female protagonist immune to fall damage, future tech weaponry, puzzle rooms, and predilection for the use of boxes; all point to a less than subtle homage to Portal, while the focus presented on moral quandaries have the mildest echo’s of The Stanley Parable.
The Magnet Gun has two main abilities; Push and Pull. As you progress through the levels and more prototypes are released, this will be upgraded to have three power levels, though it is possible to complete the challenge rooms using only the highest power, I did find that using the lowest setting allowed for more precise action when manipulating the small boxes found throughout the levels.
Initially, the challenges focus on maneuvering boxes around and activating switches to progress, but as the weapon is upgraded, so too are the “motivational hazards”, with fire traps, spike squares and chlorine pumps requiring you to use the magnet gun in more elaborate ways. Focused use of the Push allows you to propel yourself away from active magnetic plates, and conversely Pull can drag you to platforms otherwise unreachable by standard movement. Utilising and mastering these abilities is essential to completing the trials set out in front of you.
For the most part, the game works perfectly. The physics involved in the puzzles feels natural and responsive, yet at times small frustrations occur. Occasionally the boxes fail to respond to the magnet’s pull and more than once I have found myself being attracted to the box, and typically directly into hazards, instead of the other way around. This becomes increasingly annoying during the latter stages as death typically resets the puzzle and some of the final rooms have very convoluted and elaborate solutions.
Narrative is primarily provided from the exposition of Warden Keene and Dr Womberg, and while it does a good job of setting the scene, there just doesn’t seem to be enough substance to be found in the story especially with the specifically weak endings. Although I only observed just over half of those available, none of them appeared to have much substance.
A few other niggles also crop up, in the pacing. Loading times are a constant frustration, as each intersecting room requires a further load screen before transition. This in itself is accompanied by long sections crawling through vents and standing around in a refurbished shipping container when you are being transferred from your cell to the evaluation area.
All in all, Magnetic: Cage Closed is an accomplished puzzler that fails to emerge from the shadow of its predecessor. With finely balanced progression and competent physics it goes a long way to making up for a lack of story. For those of you missing your time with GLaDOS and looking for something to fill the gap while we wait for Valve to announce Portal 3, Magnetic: Cage Closed can sufficiently fill that void.
Thanks to Xbox and Indigo Pearl for supporting TiX
A Beta is a great way to test the balancing, stability and overall functionality of a new multiplayer title, and Activision and Treyarch are no strangers to this process for the Call of Duty franchise, so it’s not unsurprising that the Beta build of the latest Call of Duty, Black Ops 3, is largely stable and feature complete, with only a few minor issues for the developers to iron out before November. But how does it play? Well we jumped right in to find out the answer to that very question.
Series fans will be delighted to hear it plays precisely how you’d expect a Call of Duty title to play. Despite the changes to the formula in this latest iteration, the core concepts of fast paced, quick kills, loadout focused action in an intimate arena, are all still very much intact. It feels, sounds and plays like the Call of Duty we’ve all come to know, with the new and tweaked additions only enhancing that embedded identity.
Specialists have been added to the experience, forcing you to choose one of nine that will then dictate your look and special abilities on the battlefield. Each Specialist has their own special weapon and ability, both of which you can unlock as you progress and then unleash on your foes in a match once you ability gauge is full. These take the form of a bow with explosive arrows, a spike that detonates and kills everyone around you, or kinetic armour, as well as many more. However, in our experience the gauge typically only fills up once per match, and as powerful as the abilities and weapons can be, they still require a skilled hand to use them effectively, therefore not unbalancing the fight. It’s a very different approach to previous Call of Duty titles, giving your online persona some much-needed characterisation as well as dipping its toe in the class-based systems so popular elsewhere.
Additionally you can now use a boost jump, wall running and floor sliding, ala Titanfall, to traverse the map, however, they are limited, so don’t expect to pull off any gravity defying manoeuvres, instead it adds a much-needed sense of fluidity to overall movement as well as an increase in the speed players can get to points of elevation, eliminating the stair camping issues that cropped up in previous titles. As such an extra emphasis has been put on elevation, so whilst the maps remain small, the extra height provides new and more interesting options for navigating them and achieving glorious kills.
Otherwise Black Ops 3’s multiplayer offering feels very much inline with previous Treyarch iterations, the most important factor is still the weapon loadouts you choose and unlocking deadly kill streaks, alongside a good-looking, crisp battlefield with terrific lighting and a brighter colour pallet. The maps on offer in the Beta did, however, feel very samey, all largely taking place outside in lush green environments. However, they did show great versatility for the numerous game modes on offer. Domination in particular felt remarkable well-balanced for map size and navigation options, putting the pressure on defending teams and providing assaulting teams with a slight advantage, making the to-and-fro frequent, intense and exciting.
Indeed, there’s a lot on offer with Black Ops 3’s multiplayer, with a wide collection of modes to suit everyone’s play style. Moreover, Treyarch have maintained the Call of Duty identity while enhancing it in key areas. As such it’s likely to keep its current user-base happy and pull a few wandering veterans back that haven’t gelled with the larger, more open battlefields the genre is flirting with elsewhere. Here’s hoping map variety improves for release, but all in all things seem to be shaping up well for the third Black Ops title.
Blues and Bullets is the latest title to jump onto the episodic bandwagon. The noir adventure would be right at home in a Frank Miller movie with similar overtones of style, colour and characters. The first episode, The End of Peace, introduces you to the world that A Crowd of Monsters has created – a far throw from their last release, A Clash of Titans.
You don the trench coat of hardened policeman Eliot Ness, yes… THE Eliot Ness of Untouchables fame. In this alternate reality of the famous American Prohibition agent, Ness has retired, unable to solve a case about missing children. He now owns the Blues and Bullets, a 24 hour American diner in Santa Esperanza. Before we meet Ness, play is from the perspective of a small girl who is trapped in a cell – it seems her abductor(s) have taken many other children too – and your first task is to escape.
Red circles highlight objects you can interact with, which I found to be rather large and swamped the more subtle touches of red that are splashed throughout the black and white environments. Naturally escape is futile as your captor bursts in wearing a freakish mask and antlers, and soon finds your hiding spot – over to you Mr Ness.
It seems that the little girl is none other than Sofia, the granddaughter of Al Capone, the mob boss that Ness helped put behind bars. It transpires that Sofia has been taken from her boarding school, although the kidnapper did so by presenting himself as her new uncle after producing forged papers that showed that her parents had died. This is where Ness steps in… Al Capone has reached out to him for help in tracking down his granddaughter and finding those responsible for her abduction.
In an attempt to set a back-story, Blues and Bullets starts painfully slowly and even though there’s a shootout with Al Capone’s thugs, the crooked character animations, dodgy lip-sync, vacant character expressions and a painfully slow walking pace left me feeling rather indifferent to the opening scenes of the game.
Thankfully this is short-lived and once the uncomfortable pleasantries of introducing the story and the characters are out of the way, the game begins to gel, leading me deeper down the rabbit hole and intriguing me into its warped world.
The first step down the hole begins while you’re mulling over what Capone has said during your first meeting since his release from prison. While walking down a stormy alleyway, large typographic words of Ness’ thoughts and emotions from the day’s events fill the horizon. Next you’re using the letters as cover and shooting white-silhouetted bad guys. It’s a great scene and shows that there is some brilliant thought behind the game’s art direction, even if it did feel a little ‘Max Payne’.
Unlike other episodic titles, you have some control over the shootouts, able to move into different cover, aim and shoot independently of button prompts – these are saved for close quarter fights – where buttons flash on either side of the screen, which corresponds to the positions of the buttons on your controller.
The punches keep coming and next you’re investigating your first and only murder scene of the episode. It could easily pass for something from the Hannibal TV series, messed up, grotesque and graphic. Similar to the investigation scenes of L.A. Noire, you must explore the area to find items or areas of interest and then study them fully before you can deduce how, why and the motive of the murder via the deduction board.
For the most part the sound is exquisite, with great performances from the voice actors and a terrific soundtrack – although at times the sound balance was a little off with some characters swamped by the volume of the music. I also found that Ness’ voice had far too much bass to it. Really it’s only the dreaded camera that lets the design of the game down. Often it will gently swing in vain, trying to keep up with your movements resulting in Ness appearing off camera. Sometimes it won’t swing at all, and Ness will run on the spot as the game ‘blocks’ you from going in certain areas of the environment.
Episode 1 sets the scene for what I hope will be an enthralling title. Even though the game starts slowly, the main mystery never gets off the ground and I pretty much have no idea what’s going on save a few small facts – the story of Blues and Bullets has me hooked with its art style, messed up crime scenes and a brief look at Sofia’s abductor(s).
It might not have started well, but the ending goes out on a high and I hope A Crowd of Monsters doesn’t leave us hanging too long before they release Episode 2 – Shaking the Hive.
Thanks to Xbox and Plan of Attack Games for their support
Tom Clancy’s The Division is due for release on March 8th next year, and TiX towers are all a buzz with the prospects of exploring a dilapidated New York and working together to survive and thrive in this new society. A couple of us are even pre-planning acts of betrayal, or perhaps that’s just me, either way we’re getting pretty excited about it. And it seems our anticipation can’t just be left alone to stew, as Ubisoft reveal a companion book that will be releasing alongside the game.
New York Collapse, written by author Alex Irvine, will include handwritten notes and accounts from a lone survivor investigating the cause of the collapse, and tips for surviving in this harsh new world, including how to catch game from city parks for food. Moreover, the book will help you uncover some of the game’s secrets and will also contain some removable artifacts to further explain the lone survivor’s story and experiences, these will include a full-city map as well as a used transit card.
Part strategy guide, part narrative and part superbly immersive companion, New York Collapse sounds like a neat and interesting way to spread the experience over multiple mediums. We’re intrigued and salivating even more for The Division’s release next year.
Razer is going head-to-head with the Xbox One Elite with their new Wildcat – a controller that seemingly does everything the Elite does. Developed with eSports in mind, the controller is fully customisable so you can swap your button layouts around depending on the game you are playing.
Unlike other brands in this market, the Wildcat has opted for two additional triggers underneath, and two additional bumpers on the shoulders of the controller – each one can be mapped to any button of the controller.
2 shoulder Hyperesponse Multi-Function Bumpers
2 removable Hyperesponse Multi-Function Triggers
4 Hyperesponse ABXY action buttons
4 button Quick Control Panel
Optional trigger stops for rapid-fire
Zero slow-turn analog joysticks
3.5 mm audio port for stereo audio output and microphone input
Optional rubber palm grips
Quick-release cable feature
Detachable 3 m / 10 ft lightweight braided fibre cable with Micro-USB connector
Approximate size : 106 mm / 4.17” (Length) x 156 mm / 6.14” (Width) x 66 mm / 2.60” (Height)
Approximate weight (without cable) : 260 g / 0.57 lbs
As the name suggests, Bridge Constructor is a game about building bridges, how hard can that be? Playing through the game gave me a new perspective on the structures and shapes of bridges – they aren’t just built to look nice – the metal girder structures and reinforced cables have been placed with physics and function in mind and not just to be aesthetically pleasing.
An earthquake has rocked the island nation of Camatuga, and with the kind of destruction an earthquake brings, all the bridges within and connecting the five small islands of Camatuga have been destroyed – your job is to rebuild them. With various materials at your disposal, you must build different sized bridges and keep within budget. Once complete, you must test each one to see if it can sustain the weight of cars, trucks, and once you’ve completed all the bridges, the tank truck.
Each level poses a different problem, funds and materials might be limited, the gap you need to span could be really wide, or there is a central platform that must be constructed in order to add vital support – there’s plenty to keep the puzzles challenging although after a while repetition does start to creep in.
Each puzzle has a grid overlaid to the area, which makes an ideal guide for those wanting to build a bridge of perfect symmetry. Each grid you span with wood, steel, concrete pillars or cable will cost you money, and you only have so much to spend – on top of this, some scenarios will only allow you to build in one or two materials.
As you build, the road is laid automatically as you span each horizontal grid, although you can create a steady incline or drop. Meanwhile, placing vertical anchors will create struts – essential for giving your bridge stability. When you’re ready, you can preview your build before setting traffic across it, each part of your construction is coloured to show the stresses and strains that the bridge is under, leaving you to decide whether you need to make adjustments, or chance it and see if it will hold – it’s a great mechanic particularly for younger gamers to learn about structures and physics.
I found it interesting to see how the different vehicle weights effected the strain of the different struts and which shapes worked best to provide a strong structure, however, watching vehicles slowly travel over your creations can be rather tedious, particularly when it’s a long bridge – a speed up option would have certainly been a welcome addition.
While some levels are easy and can be solved using the same theory as previous problems, there are plenty that are tricky to solve, particularly when you have been restricted in the materials you can use. Like most games about creation, you’re limited by your own creativity at solving a construction problem. Do you be an adventurous builder aspiring to create wonderful creations? Or do you use the same solutions to build each bridge? There are no bonus points for presentation; you get those for finishing your bridge under budget!
Once you have completed repairing the bridges of the island nation of Camatuga, there’s the Titin Islands to tackle – also known as SlopeMania, which is appropriate, as each puzzle needs to be solved by creating sloped bridges. This advanced area will need your entire structural prowess if you are to beat it, and it’s also more creative and fun than it’s more serious neighbour Camatuga – when was the last time you crossed a bridge that was a ramp that launched you to the other side?
While I am far from being a bridge expert, I will offer one tip – mute the sound. What starts off as relaxing ambient music, becomes repetitive and irritating, funnily enough the game launched with the sound muted – keep it that way!
Bridge Constructor might have a limited game mechanic that seems like it would be more at home being played on a mobile device, but I found it to be an utterly addictive experience – I was intent on making sure all three weights of vehicle could cross my bridges, and even when my designs painfully crumbled under their own weight, it just made me more determined to rebuild and improve them until I got it right.