Inside My Radio review

Born from an idea from TurboDindon, at the Ludum Dare #23 Game Jam, Inside My Radio is a rhythm-action platform adventure, where your every move much match the beat of the music.

Playing as three different LEDs, it is up to you to bring the music back to a worn out boombox, whilst having to face tricky platforming puzzles, and beat musically masterful bosses, using the power of dub, rock, reggae and more.

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When I first booted up Inside My Radio, made my way through the tutorial, and set off on my musical adventure, I wasn’t too sure of what I had to do. The controls themselves are fairly straightforward, however the story really doesn’t stand out for me. I knew I had to make my way through these levels, and that I had to match my movements with the beat of the music, but I wasn’t entirely sure why.

Hoping this would become clearer the longer I played, I battled on in my bewildered state and eventually started to enjoy myself. Now, I’m not saying this isn’t enjoyable, however, it can be tricky to match your movements to the rhythm, especially after playing numerous platformers where fast reactions and maneuverability were key. Thankfully there is an option to activate a visual guide around the LED, to help match your movements with the beat, which helped somewhat in later levels.

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Some would call me rhythmically challenged, however once you get the hang of working with the beat, it actually became less frustrating, and I found that later in the game I was actually enjoying it. I did find that at times Inside My Radio couldn’t decide on which mechanic it wanted to work with. For example, the first boss you encounter requires you to follow the music via a short mini-game, very similar to Guitar Hero or Rock Band, following the button presses as they fall down the screen. The second boss was more of a Simon Says mini-game, much like Parappa the Rapper, which you could only beat by matching the buttons as they moved across the bottom of the screen. This felt somewhat unnatural to me, someone who has played numerous platformers in my time, where each boss battle had the same base mechanic, and increased in difficulty and complexity with each subsequent encounter. However, neither of these boss battles taught me how I should approach the final boss, except to reinforce that your every move is reliant on the music.

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Inside My Radio ups the tempo around the halfway mark, and introduces more puzzles and tricky sections to each level. One in particular featured lasers, which required beat-perfect timing to avoid, and another required you to control sliders to maneuver your way around obstacles in your path. Each mini puzzle allowed me to slow my tempo, and really think about how I should be timing my movements to the beat.

The music itself is fantastic, and really helps to draw you into the action on the screen. Each level is set around a different genre, taking you through rock, reggae, dub-step, and variations between. The soundtrack is rich and captivating, and is something I would happily listen to outside of the game. Along with the unique soundtrack, each level has its own distinctive style, marrying beautifully with the music guiding you through each challenge. The base structure of each level is visibly the same, but the background and small details littered throughout each one really gives them their own identity. One in particular which stands out was the disco level, which was full of bright colours, pulsating lights, and really gave you the feeling that you were travelling through a club environment. Each level is just as rich and colourful as the last, and reflects each genre perfectly.

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In all, Inside My Radio only took around 2 to 2.5 hours to complete, including multiple replays of the final boss fight. It does offer a Time Attack mode to extend the life of the game, splitting up the main campaign into 12 individual levels, but I feel this could get stale rather quickly.

If you enjoy rhythm-based games, and want a platformer which offers a different perspective on the tried and tested formula, I would recommend Inside My Radio. It’s a great title to sit back and relax with, but don’t expect to spend hours on the main campaign.

Inside My Radio is available now for £11.99 on Xbox One and PC via Steam.

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Thanks to Xbox and Seaven Studio for their support.

Rainbow Six Siege beta gets a second extension

The delivery of beta tokens for Rainbow Six Siege has had a few hiccups and for those of us in the beta since day one, this is good news because Ubisoft have decided to add another extension to the beta period, which will now end on October 4th.

Ubisoft have also sent out four codes to many of the beta participants to share with their friends – the TiX twitter feed has been posting a handful of these throughout the evening. Xbox Live Rewards even got in on the action too and sent out some codes to its members.

The Escapists The Walking Dead review

The Escapists The Walking Dead is an extremely successful blend of the awesome 8-bit indie hit The Escapists and the comic book series of The Walking Dead. Playing as Rick Grimes, you must lead your group to safety though five areas.

At its undead heart lies all of The Escapists’ mechanics – leveling up through exercise and reading, simple item crafting and the way in which you must plot, prepare and execute your escape. Of course this time you aren’t escaping from the clutches of the prison guards, but avoiding the undead horde and solving the story based objectives that centre on key events in the comic series.

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The game starts as you wake in Harrison Memorial Hospital – the whole level is one big tutorial, taking you by the hand and introducing you to the mechanics behind the game. Other levels have you leading your group through Greene Family Farm, Meriwether Correctional Facility, Woodbury and Alexandria.

Each day follows a similar pattern to the core game of The Escapists, but instead of annoying the guards if you misbehave, the zombie threat level increases with undead encounters more likely to happen within your safe area. Missing meal times, chores and head counts also has a negative effect on your group morale, and they will be less likely to follow you on scavenging missions – not a massive issue – but team mates will come in handy when you venture further afield in search of the more valuable loot.

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New items appear in the various desks spread throughout each level every day, and it’s the collection and crafting of items that allows you to progress by making tools, or weapons to survive. This is where your time will vanish. In-between your daily chores, you are free to scavenge but venturing outside your safe area can attract a higher threat level so your best bet is to do this at night. Venturing further afield rewards you with the best loot – like duct tape or timber – there’s also backpacks lying around that contain crafting notes or collectible comic books, there’s even firearms or special melee weapons to find too which can be given to your group so that they can fend off the undead themselves.

If you do get on the wrong side of a zombie you start from your bed the next morning, the threat level will have increased and you will have missed the opportunity to save, which is only offered should you choose to retire to your bed at the end of each day. If a member of your group is knocked out by a zombie, you have a short window of time to revive them and send them to their bed to recover – fail and the next time you see them will be as their undead corpse shuffles towards you.

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One of the harshest lessons in The Escapists was punishment for failure – your progress was reset and all your items confiscated. The Walking Dead edition allows you to continue your progress without punishment and allows you to leave as many items lying around as you please. It makes for a far more enjoyable experience with greater exploration opportunities without the worry of the ever-watchful prison guards ruining your fun.

Money is better used too. Doing chores for your group earns you coins that can be spent with vendors who make their way out at night and can be located at several locations, offering strong shovels, pickaxes, ammo and weapons and more for your perusal.

Just like The Escapists, The Walking Dead edition is really addictive. Hours drifted by as I played “just one more day”, building up Rick’s strength and gathering resources to execute my master plan to complete an objective and move my group on to the next area. The Escapists The Walking Dead is a fantastic addition to the series and I hope there’s more themed Escapists games planned!

Thanks to Xbox and Team17 for their support

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EGX 2015: Just Cause 3 Impressions

Just Cause 3Just Cause 3 had a much larger showing with row upon row of machines playing the latest incarnation of Avalanche’s unique open world action adventure. You reprise the role of Rico Rodriguez as he leaves the Agency and returns to his homeland only to be embroiled in the efforts to overthrow local dictator, General Di Ravello.

Those who listen to the podcast will know that while Greg and Neale have a distinct affinity for this series, neither Rich nor I got on very well with this series of games, but not being one to remained blinkered in what is or is not a good game, the plaudits that Greg and Neale lavished on its previous incarnation remained with me when I sat down to hear the opening introduction.

Those in the know and that have played previous games, will be glad to know that along with a much larger playground to explode, destroy and explore, Rico’s abilities have also had a tune up. Multiple Tethers are now available, and allow you to secure multiple items simultaneously; invoking a huge grin that remained with me long after I left the booth when I tethered an enemy soldier and an oil barrel to an elevated wall then watched the ensuing fireworks.

I can’t actually compare the graphics to its predecessor (having never played it), but I must confess that the land of Medici looks impressively stunning. The team member who showed me to the seat explained that although the map is the same size and scale as that of Just Cause 2, they had made it with navigating vertically in mind, so lots of towers and buildings were just ripe for scaling, and the newly included wingsuit meant jumping from a rooftop and careening across the map was not only easy, but a real pleasure to behold.

It has not convinced me to get a day 1 purchase but I will certainly put some consideration into funding availability when it finally launches later this year.

EGX 2015 : Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Impressions

Assassins Creed SyndicateThe Assassins creed franchise has had its fair shares of up’s and downs. AC3, to many, was a lifeless, soulless husk that failed to capture the essence of the Ezio saga, while the technical issues of Unity left many feeling that the yearly iterations being pumped out by Ubisoft was a mistake. I freely admit, that I “was” one of the latter.

Rather than the cold hard ground that follows Unity’s failed Leap of Faith, Syndicate may well turn out to be the well placed hay cart.

With a setting that many have been crying out for since the series moved to Italy, and now with a female playable character which turned out to be a bit of a PR faux pas last year, Syndicate seems to be Ubisoft’s attempt to right past wrongs.

Actually sitting down and playing with the new characters, twins Jacob and Evie, shows first and foremost that the inclusion of Evie as a playable character is not just a superficial attempt to quell the masses. Each character plays according to their very different personalities. Jacob, brash and hot headed is a dervish in close combat while Evie, more reserved and contemplative is much more suited to long range and stealth approaches.

The inclusion of multiple simultaneous attackers is something that has been sorely cried out for as well since the game first released with the “gentlemanly conduct” one at a time combat being scrapped for a more visceral and exhilarating style of fighting, more akin to the Batman series, than to any of its predecessors.

Having been to London many times, it was a delight to recognise landmarks within the game and although limited in the demo, the scale of Victorian London is truly awe inspiring.

As I said at the start, I was one of those who believed yearly iterations were a bad idea, but if Ubisoft can get alternating teams to pull off games that look, play and remain true to the creed this well, Im willing to give them another chance.

Consider this well and truly back on my day 1 list.

EGX 2015: Rise of the Tomb Raider impressions

Rise of the Tomb RaiderMicrosoft had a decent showing in their booth, with Rise of the Tomb Raider the standout game for me. Lara’s latest adventures have been expanded somewhat from the trailer of a cold and unforgiving climb in her latest escapade and I can thankfully announce that along with a definite refinement of the control systems used on the reboot, we have actual Tomb’s to explore this time. Rather than the small-scale “shrine” style tombs of its precursor these ones feel particularly more in line with the tombs of the original series, with a sequence of puzzles and traps to navigate to succeed.

Combat and Stealth have also had a distinct overhaul although the trusty pick, bow and handgun all make a return for her adventures looking for the lost city of Kitezh.

With enhanced combat and stealth moves, as well as an improvement to what parts of the environment you can interact with, this looks to improve on the reboot on all counts.

Being built specifically for the current gen has allowed Crystal Dynamics to expand not only on the game mechanics themselves but also the look of the game as the visual effects and environments look a good deal cleaner and crisper than the previous incarnation.

Another one to watch closely.

EGX 2015: Star Wars Battlefront second impressions

Star Wars Battlefront

With a huge booth featuring a massive Tie Fighter, the queues to participate in the massive 20 vs 20 battles were ranging anything from 90 minutes to three hours in length. An introductory video gave some oversight of the collectibles on the battlefield and the controls for vehicles available and after a short wait, we were fired into our first massive, pitched battle. As the Imperial forces on Hoth, we got to experience first hand the sights and sounds that so far we have only seen in the strategically edited Battlefront video from E3 a few months ago.

As you arrive on the battlefield, you can see multiple objectives to capture. Relay points dotted throughout the map are held by Rebel forces and you are tasked with capturing these points and preventing the Rebels calling in fresh support to stop our AT-AT from destroying the shield generator.

Scattered throughout the environment are random pick ups which either grant you access to temporary improved weaponry or to unique and iconic star wars vehicles such as the AT-ST and Tie Fighters. Using these strategically can turn the tide of the battle, and on more than one occasion, helped us push forward to the front of the Rebel’s defences.

Those familiar with Battlefront will instantly click with the simplified load out screen. Once you have selected your armament, whether it be laser rifle, heavy blaster, hand blaster or the iconic E-11 Blaster Rifle, you are then able to pick between one of two gadget rotations. Hopefully this will be somewhat expanded in the full release. These include Anti-vehicle weapons, personal shields, thermal detonators and even jump packs.

What truly made this game stand out as the AAA of choice, for me anyway, was not how it played, but how it sounded. From the familiar whine of blaster fire, to the raucous thump of the AT-AT rounds to the muffled activation of the personal shields, it all just oozed of an honest and respectful homage to the series.

I for one was originally unconvinced given the staged presentation given at E3, but after having turned my hand to the game myself I can say that it looks likely to live up to expectations.

EGX 2015: Need for Speed impressions

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High on my EGX list was the Need For Speed reboot. After 22 varied iterations, I was unconvinced that a reboot could do anything for the series, and at this point I am still slightly unconvinced. Graphically the game looked stunning, but I did not find anything truly new or revolutionary to the gameplay. At the start of the demo we were allowed a few minutes to pick a car and tweak its settings to our liking. Those familiar with NFS Underground will recognise a lot of the configurations, but even those new to the series should be able to pick up and modify their car with ease.

The one thing that stood out at the E3 showing was the new “action” camera. In practice this worked perfectly, with the camera rotating out to an off bumper view as you drift around corners and not once did it feel like the camera hindered your control over the action.

Once out on the city streets, a wealth of races, time trials and sprints popped up allowing you to quickly compete in a variety of events throughout the city and with random police patrols it was not long before I was careening headlong down narrow alleys and pathways in an effort to avoid the inevitable jail time my reckless driving would entail.

Overall, although it does not seem much has changed, it appears to be as fun and exhilarating as any previous incarnation with a framerate that keeps the action flowing. If you like your arcade racers, this should be quite high up your purchase list.

EGX 2015: Mirrors Edge Catalyst impressions

Mirrors Edge Catalyst

With massive queue’s lasting upwards of 3 hours, the 8 berth showing of Mirror’s edge was a thing of beauty. The City of Glass is still the same dystopian society plagued with nondescript white buildings, pastel orange bill boards and red interactable environments, but beneath the rooftops lie the sprawling, dark, myriad of pathways that make up the undercity, which you can now explore. The cyberpunk feel to the entire introduction and technology, which attempts to retrofit an explanation for Faith’s ability to see these parkour markers, is a welcome addition to the game.

The new open world structure to the game reminded me of games like InFamous and Crackdown, and with the collectibles dotted about the area there is a ton of content on show already.

The graphics have been greatly enhanced from the previous title, with amazing lighting, reflection and model fidelity throughout. On the downside, we were limited to a small section of the world for the demo, and being a pre-alpha build it was all running on PC. This is now, without a doubt, high on my radar and if they can manage to get half the graphical functionality to run on the current gen consoles, this could be a very successfully title in the New Year.

EGX 2015: The main floor impressions

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After five long years residing at Earls Court in London and following the success of last year’s Rezzed, EGX has transitioned to its new home 100 miles north at the Birmingham NEC. With this move came a new approach, as the larger NEC allowed for a much bigger show to be put on. That said, I must admit to being slightly disappointment with the content on show this year.

A large portion was devoted to games that were already out, have had a large deal of existing coverage or had massive pre-release demo/beta access available. Titles such as Mad Max, Destiny, Darksiders, Elite Dangerous, FIFA, Metal Gear Solid and many more took up more of the stands than the ‘to be released’ or teaser games that we have seen in years past.

So, instead of doing an in-depth of each of the games on show, most of which you probably know a lot about, I will pick a few that impressed me the most and also focus on some of the technology on show, and the huge selection of Indie games that took up a large section of the EGX Show floor.

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New Technology at the show came from both the VR headsets residing at the Sony and HTC booth’s and although I did not get the pleasure of a hands on myself, discussions with those leaving the booths make me very excited about what Occulus can do for our big black box. On the other side of the hall the Leftfield and indie sections had some rather unusual controllers on display.

Mindfork, from Zaubug really made an impression with their “banana” controller. This was not a controller in the shape of a banana… it literally was a banana. Sensor wires were inserted into a banana that had been cut in half, and attaching a simple sensor to your finger allowed the circuit to be completed. Touching the left half of banana turned left, right half turns right. So simple, elegant and utterly bizarre. The Developers even invited us to bring a fruit of choice should banana’s not be our thing.

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This simple game sees you guide a ship around a rapidly altering arena, with the aim of surviving as long as possible. Mindfork was sufficiently addictive in itself, and though they are currently aiming at the mobile market, with a more mainstream version running on an iPad at the stand, the developers have confirmed their intent to release on consoles in the future. If they do, I hope they release a fruit controller special edition.

Next up has to be the most bizarre controller of the show, even more so than the banana controller. Line Wobbler was an Exile Game Jam entry from creator Robin Baumgarten. Using a strip of LED lights, a metal Spring Door Stopper and an accelerometer, Robin has crafted what has to be the most unusual and tactile game I have experienced in a long time. It goes to show that inspiration can strike you anywhere, as the main catalyst for this game was Robin watching the video of a cat twanging a door stopper from the other side of a door that made the viral rounds a year or so ago.

The idea behind the game is exceeding simple. you control the green “player” as he travels from the start of the dungeon, (one end of the strip). to the other. Pushing forward on the modified door stopper moves you up the path and releasing or pulling back returns to the beginning.

Along the way you will encounter enemies (red LED’s), lava (yellow and Orange LEDs) and conveyor belts (white LED’s) which you must overcome to reach the dungeon end. waggling the stopper side to side converts you to attacking mode, so timing your attacks on the enemies is key, and yellow lava is passable where Orange means instant death.

It is unlikely that this will ever make it into our homes, but the developer has confirmed that he is currently looking at an official arcade version and even considering a multiplayer version in the future, so this may be making appearances at future game shows.

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