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Category Archives: Reviews

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin review

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What makes a good game? For me, it’s being left to explore, to create my own adventures and take the game at my own pace. In some respects, I’ve just described what it’s like being in the playground at school, you decide where to go, who to play with and what games to play – Dark Souls II very much has this playground vibe, with one distinct difference – its playground is full of bullies only too happy to kick you to the curb at any opportunity.

Dark Souls II is wonderfully paced, although at first, I hated every moment. I was lost, out of my depth and feeling like unfair enemies were cheating me. Why did I feel like this? I can only put it down to the smoke and mirrors that some games use to make you, the player, feel like a bad ass. Strip away unbeatable combos and aim assist, give control back with little to no handholding or directional hints, and we become lost, disorientated and quickly overwhelmed. It was only after persevering with Dark Souls II and learning how to respect its two-button combat system that I began to appreciate its beauty and elegantly balanced difficulty.

In Dark Souls II, everything you achieve is exactly that… an achievement. Get through the entirety of the game (which I am still yet to do) and you really will have earned your progress and achievements. So far, I’m just over 30 hours in – I still have plenty to see and do – one thing is for sure, you need to put in a serious amount of hours to see and do everything in Dark Souls II.

I’ve died, I’ve sworn, I’ve almost given up but Dark Souls II has taken ahold of me. It’s addictive in its » Continue Reading.

We Are Doomed review

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We are Doomed is a Twin Joystick shooter, that has you play as an eyeball, or something, as you fly about a technicoloured blanket, shooting at illuminati symbols and strange Jellyfish that are trying to kill you. So you know, just another typical shooter. Starting out life on the PC courtesy of Mobeen Fikree, the game is now making the jump over to home consoles and is aiming it’s sights at a £7.99 price tag. Is it worth a shot?

One of the first things you’ll notice upon starting the main game itself, is your laser. It doesn’t have much of a reach, forcing you to play differently than you normally would in other games of the genre. While most twin joystick shooters have a “run away and gun” mentality, We Are Doomed is somewhat different. While you certainly do run, the short laser dictates that you’ll have to get up close and personal with enemies to defeat them.

Helping you do this are some pretty great and responsive controls. While there is some acceleration, you have no real option to alter your speed, as slightly nudging the thumb-stick has the exact same effect as pushing it all the way does, but this doesn’t really matter, as the controls are so good, that you’ll find yourself dodging in and out of trouble in no time.

As good as the controls are though, you’ll still spend most of your time using them to simply running around groups of enemies as they simply follow, due to the rather limited enemy design. Some enemies split when shot at and some respawn from portals after a few seconds if not destroyed, but for the most part they simply zero in on you and charge. While it » Continue Reading.

Ziggurat review

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Ziggurat brings Roguelike procedurally generated content along with the twitch reactions of a first-person shooter, all inside a fantasy comic aesthetic. It’s Tower of Guns but with magic, and it’s brilliant.

Of course calling Ziggurat a Roguelike stretches the subgenre’s definition a little bit. Much like the analogous Tower of Guns, it’s more Rouge-inspired, with the takeaway features being permadeath and procedurally generated levels and enemy layouts. Additionally, Ziggurat’s setting is high fantasy, you’re an apprentice sorcerer looking to join a powerful brotherhood, in order to do so you must enter and survive the five levels of a ziggurat. Each level steadily grows in size and is filled with deadlier foes culminating in a boss. You must search the labyrinthine ziggurat levels for a key to open a portal to the next level which also reveals that level’s boss.

The narrative is superficial and brief but does its job in setting up your driving force for entering the Ziggurat initially. Additional, nuggets of story can be found as scrolls within the levels that flesh out the world a little more but mostly talk of the dangers the ziggurat holds. It mostly fades into the background, but ultimately it’s not missed – after your first attempt the compulsion to replay is inescapable.

The primary hook that drags you in is how consistently fair each attempt at the ziggurat is – a remarkable trait for a game with procedurally generated challenges. Enemies are well-balanced to a predictable difficulty curve that’s easy to anticipate and prepare for, and the perks you obtain through exploration or levelling are a choice between different approaches to combat rather than the random empowering or restraining of your character. As such it encourages you to play differently rather than stacking the odds against you or overpowering you.

When » Continue Reading.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection review

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Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is truly an amazing set. Coming in at an impressive 37 Gig, the set not only includes remastered versions of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel but also all the DLC, additional characters plus a few extra surprises.

So what is all the fuss about? The collection takes what is already two great games and brings them to the Xbox One by delivering a smooth 60 frames-per-second (in single player mode) and at a gorgeous 1080p, which finally rivals the original PC version. The games themselves haven’t changed in any shape or form, including the same one liners, comments, carnage and some absurd weaponry that made the original release of Borderlands 2 so popular (and a must own game in my eyes). The Collection is indeed similar to a lot of remastered games coming to the Xbox One, but it has a great trick up its sleeve – four player splitscreen co-op.

Borderlands 2, released back in 2012, was the typical example of how to make a sequel to a game. Much like a movie, it was bigger, better, with refined gameplay dynamics and so many guns. This was also the first time we saw the well-groomed villain Handsome Jack. To read our thoughts on Borderlands 2 when it first came out check out our review here. With all the expansion packs available, you are looking at over 100 hours of gameplay. Every character has a unique skill trees to explore and unlock, plus there’s so much loot and rewards to find that you won’t know where to store it all, while the DLC delivers four substantial story based expansions – you’ll be kept mighty busy with this game!

The Pre-Sequel is also included in the collection and was the first game in the series not to be developed by Gearbox » Continue Reading.

Ori and the Blind Forest review

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Ori and the Blind Forest is a truly beautiful game. The layered, watercolour backdrops, flora that subtlety sway as you pass by them, and superb use of lighting, all combine to form a visual treat on par with the recent Rayman titles.  Furthermore a captivating score, intrinsically woven into the game and acting as a companion on this lonely journey, strikes all the right chords for evoking adrenaline, fear, and sorrow. It’s a stunning audio and visual experience.

Fortunately the level design and mechanics are constructed with the same quality, providing an intriguing, dangerous, and rewarding forest to explore, with precisely the right abilities and pacing you’d expect from a high calibre, 2D Metroidvania platformer.

After a heart wrenching opening, which wonderfully sets the scene and introduces the world, you take control of Ori, a fox type creature encapsulated by light, who must return the three elements of water, wind and warmth to the Spirit Tree in order to restore balance to the forest and prevent everything withering away. Meanwhile, Kuro, a sinister looking owl, means to stop you, and Sein, an orb of light from the Spirit Tree, means to guide and protect you.

To find the three elements you must move through the forest, defeating enemies, exploring different areas, and acquiring new abilities that help you access paths that were previously closed to you. Sein fights for you, homing in on nearby enemies and striking them at the press of a button. Meanwhile, you collect green orbs for health, blue to power some of your abilities, and gold orbs to purchase skills. It’s a very traditional 2D platformer at heart, right down to its stiff challenge.

Enemies can very quickly drain you of your health and in order for Sein to lock-on to them, » Continue Reading.

Ride review

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I’m going to throw this out there, right off the bat. The last motorbike game I played was probably Road Rash. Sure, I had a pootle about on a bike in Grand Theft Auto a few years ago, who hasn’t, but Road Rash was more than likely the last dedicated motorbike game I played. It was basic, and funky. I didn’t really know what to expect from Ride. I was hoping it would be the Forza for the Carl Fogarty generation. So, is it, or is it more Leon Camier than Valentino Rossi?

Load Ride up then, and you’ll firstly get hit with a 900MB update. It always makes me nervous when this happens. Such a large update for a new game can’t be that good. The update aside, Ride loads up to some quiet techno music, which seems to go on a bit. Maybe it’s my imagination.

Pick the usual things for your rider: hair, face, attire, name etc. and then you get to pick your ride. I plumped for the Triumph Street Triple to start with. This is merely one of the four classes of bike you can purchase throughout the game: Naked, SuperSports, Superbikes and historical Superbikes. The bikes themselves look amazing. If the rest of the game is amazing as the bikes look, I’ll be in for a treat. The showroom mode allows you to pan around your machine and pretend you’ve just washed it and it’s all shiny. There are 14 manufacturers to choose from too, when you’ve earned enough moolah, with a multitude of tracks to race around.

The best way to earn enough cash is to place as high as you can in the feature races on the World Tour. These are slotted into convenient power classes and initially you can only enter » Continue Reading.

Neverwinter review – part two

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Welcome back to our three-part Neverwinter review. If you landed here without first reading part one of our review, then I suggest clicking this link! In this second part I’ll be taking you through the more complex gameplay modes including general questing, skirmishes, dungeons and of course PvP. Sit back my adventuring friend, grab an ale from the barkeep and let’s begin.

Neverwinter starts off by introducing you to questing in a similar way as all other RPG’s and MMORPG’s alike. In the case of Neverwinter, your character is washed ashore after the ship you were sailing on was destroyed during the attack upon the city. You wake up, find some basic equipment and get to helping the Neverwinter Guards mop up the last of the attackers. This introductory quest line will push you towards the city itself and ultimately the main social hub of the game; Protectors Enclave. These initial quests introduce you nicely to the progression system within the game.

Your primary goal in an MMORPG is of course the development of your character. You can play through the game a number of times, as different classes and/or races therefore experiencing ever so slightly different quests, but guaranteed you’ll be doing it to make that character the best it can be. Obtain the highest level equipment or win that legendary mount you saw another player dash on. Neverwinter features the same character progression system in which players earn experience points for their actions as other traditional RPG’s. Questing in and around Neverwinter will see you in combat with monsters and completing quests for NPCs, either alone or in groups of friends (maybe even in a Guild – but more on that in part three).

General questing will take » Continue Reading.

Tower of Guns review

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Dozens of cannons and other firearms popping into existence and firing volleys of shells, spiked balls, saw blades and other projectiles directly at you, a quirky set of stories, menacing robotic monstrosities, neat power-ups, and procedurally generated levels. Welcome to Tower of Guns.

Tower of Guns revels in its stiff challenge and oodles of flying projectiles. After starting in a quiet room, and even getting a little target practice against adorable little robots that want nothing more than a hug, it’s off into the unknown you travel. You open the door in front of you by shooting it, step through and it closes behind you, as it does, the room fills with all manner of guns and robotic foes; they swivel towards you and fire an incredible volley of deadly projectiles. It’s your job to survive and fight back, destroying everything, collecting the goodies they drop, before venturing into the next randomly generated room and doing it all over again.

Eventually you’ll come across a boss, a hulking great robotic entity with immerse firepower. Destroy it and you’ll find a lift which takes you to the next floor of this insane tower, where once again you fight through multiple chambers to a boss. Die and it’s back to square one.

Indeed, Tower of Guns delivers wholeheartedly on its title. The monolith you need to ascend, full of oversized guns that mean to shred, explode and puncture your frail body , is a very difficult challenge to overcome. But there are rewards you can collect, even in death.

As you destroy the guns and robots that litter each chamber, they’ll drop red orbs for healing, blue orbs for levelling up your weapon, coins for purchasing additional equipment and abilities, and occasionally power-ups. Maintaining your health not only keeps you » Continue Reading.

Neverwinter review – part one

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Finally the time has come for the heroes of Neverwinter to rise up on Xbox One. Neverwinter is a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) free-to-play MMORPG or massively multiplayer online role-playing game for those unfamiliar with the term. If you’ve never heard of this, think World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. Developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World, it was released back in June 2013 for Windows PC and March 31st this year for Xbox One. Based in the fictional Forgotten Realms city of Neverwinter, Neverwinter is a standalone game and not part of the previous PC series Neverwinter Nights.

Being what I would call a typical MMORPG, there is an awful lot to cover in a review so I’ll be breaking our review down into three parts. The first, the one you are reading, will look at the setting, races, classes and in-game currency model. The second and third parts of the review will look at some of the more in-depth game play mechanics including the detailed profession and crafting system, the economy including the Auction House and various currencies (excluding Zen) and banking. We’ll also take a look at Guilds, Skirmishes, Dungeons and much more. These will all be released over the next few days.

Moving on, let’s start by dealing with the elephant in the room which is the free-to-play model the game has adopted. Being a cynical person, I always cringe when thinking about any MMO that states it will be free-to-play but to be fair, it’s not as bad as I originally thought. The game itself is completely free to download and play (an active Xbox Live subscription is required). You can play for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so on and so forth. Never a charge.

» Continue Reading.

Shiftlings review

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We all are familiar with platform games, navigating up, over and around a series of obstacles to collect objects that open doors or portals and Shiftlings is no different in that sense. However add to this the interesting mechanics of flatulence and you have a slightly different take on the genre.

Shiftlings, developed by Rock Pocket follows the story of two alien janitors on a hidden camera reality show. The opening scene sets the mood when one of janitors finds a bottle of the fizziest drink in the universe and downs it in one. Now, I believe we have all done this at least once in our lifetime, and as expected the escaping gas causes him to balloon up in his suit. Now this is amusing in itself but because the janitor duo are attached to one another via an air supply hose this allows them to effectively pass the gas from one to the other. It’s good to share you know.

Now we are past the initial toilet humour, I can start to focus on the game – Shiftlings is an absolute stunning platformer that has visuals that you would expect to see in a Pixar or Disney movie. The levels are vibrant in colour and the detail is stunning, making you feel really immersed in the world you are playing. Your main task when controlling the two gassy janitors is to guide them through a series of maps filled with levers, ramps, moving parts and all sorts of obstacles. But don’t be fooled with the easiest routes, they aren’t always the right ones, so you will need to use some brain power to solve the problems barring your way. So just how do you go about guiding the gassy duo through the game?

Shiftlings » Continue Reading.