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Category Archives: Reviews

#IDARB Review

#IDARB

Saying #IDARB is fun doesn’t do it justice. Saying it’s joyous, intense and engrossing, doesn’t say nearly enough. To describe it as highly competitive, lightning fast and powerfully compelling isn’t nearly enough, not nearly enough to fully describe the #IDARB experience. Adjectives just aren’t going to do it. I’m going to spend 700 words now trying to convince you of its quality, its fecund fun, but you really must play it to fully understand. You must play it, you should play it and I hope you will play it, because it’s an absolutely brilliant party game.

Wonderfully, for Xbox Live Gold subscribers, it’ll cost you nothing to try #IDARB out as it joins the Games with Gold promotion in February. For everyone else, I implore you to pick it up; you seldom see a game quite like this. Other Ocean, didn’t go into #IDARB’s development with their minds’ made up, instead they took to Twitter with an image of a red box and the comment “It draws a red box” and asked where they should go from there. A flood of tweets came pouring in and Other Ocean began implementing and experimenting with the many ideas until the eSport #IDARB was formed: a cross between an arena ball game and Super Smash Bros. with a bit of Bomberman thrown in there for good measure.

Up to eight players take to the arena and aim to score as many points as possible by navigating the platforms, dodging players, and throwing the ball into their opponent’s goal. The further you are away from the goal when the ball sails in, the more points you earn. Furthermore, a multiplier is implemented depending on completed passes and ball bounces to enhance the point total of a goal even more. All the while » Continue Reading.

Tales From The Borderlands Review

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Over the past few years one set have games have had me completely hooked, all the Telltale titles. The Walking Dead was brilliant and The Wolf among us was such fun to play. I’ve always enjoyed games with a great narrative and I love how the story adapted to the decisions you made.

When Telltale announced they were teaming up with Gearbox Studios to create Tales from the Borderlands, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, for me it was almost a perfect combination, the art style and humour of Borderlands mixed in with the Telltale point and click design, but would it work? Let’s find out…

The first episode of Tales is called Zer0 Sum – If you have played Borderlands you’ll immediately feel like you are back playing it as it’s almost exactly the same but you are playing a point and click game. Of course there will be some of you who are unfamiliar with how the Telltale games play, so let me tell you about that.

Players are given dialogue choices during each episode with only a small amount of time to decide which route to take, all your choices change the game slightly, whether it is just a reaction from another person or a longer standing choice that could make a difference further into the game.

I really enjoyed the combat sections within the game, at certain points you’ll have to be even quicker to get through these sections to make sure you hit the right prompts at the right time. There are also some cool sections that I won’t mention that certainly intensify the action and gives you a break from the dialogue for a few minutes.

In Tales you play as two characters, Rhys and Fiona, two characters who » Continue Reading.

Rugby 15 Review

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Being Welsh and from the land where everyone lives and breathes Rugby, you would think that I would be best suited for this review – well this wasn’t always the case. The first time I watched a game of Rugby it was the 1999 World Cup that my father dragged me to – I think it was Samoa vs Argentina, not a clue who won, I remember my father telling me off for sitting down for the entirety of the proceedings, we were in the standing section of the ground and  I “looked bored” for the entirety of the game. I was more of an American Football guy anyway. Knocking on, that’s just an incomplete pass, surely?! Why are the defence and offense on the pitch at the same? It’s a very confusing sport. I’m happy to say my Welsh blood runs strong and happily for my Dad, I now love the sport as much as my beloved Grid Iron.

I don’t like starting on negatives with games, unless there’s a load of positives to talk about and you can get all of the disappointments out-of-the-way early and talk about everything you loved in the game, sadly this isn’t going to be the case with Rugby 15.

The controls are awful, it feels like the developer thought “Let’s find a game that we could make 8 mini games out of and do them all exactly the same” – ok, eight mini games is an exaggeration but the three mini games they have included are exactly the same! Rucking, Mauling, and the Scrums are identical! If you want to win the ball on these passages of play you have to find the sweet spot with the analog stick, the bar highlights green which means you’re good to play the ball without being penalised, when the bar is yellow » Continue Reading.

Resident Evil HD Remaster Review

Resident Evil HD Remaster

Resident Evil HD doesn’t perform the same jump scares of titles such as Outcast; it’s more consistent than that. It is instead a master of drawn-out tension with a sprinkling of dread. A prolonged sense of eerie danger and building fear that excels at mild frights whilst inducing unwavering alertness on the player. To play it is to commit yourself to feeling constantly unsafe from the zombies, dogs and other undead and mutated beasts that dwell within, and just outside, the mysterious mansion. It’s an exhausting, powerful, and highly satisfying experience. Indeed, Resident Evil HD superbly balances its puzzle solving, mystery, suspense and fear to draw you into the pinnacle of survival horror experiences.

Choosing to play as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield from the Bravo S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactical and Rescue Service) team, you find yourself investigating the disappearance of Alpha team near the Spencer Mansion on the outskirts of Racoon City. After finding Alpha team’s downed helicopter, a mutilated body and a pack of rotting, undead, flesh-eating dogs, your team runs for the safety of the mansion. Trapped inside and with some team members now missing, you start searching for your comrades and investigating what exactly is going on in this remote and mysterious location.

Resident Evil HD is not an action game. It’s more akin to a point ‘n click adventure or a ‘room escape’ puzzle, just on a larger scale. The ‘action’ is implemented so there is a tangible threat and struggle to survive against something horrifying. The undead monstrosities are a barrier as you search the labyrinthine mansion and its grounds for items to solve all manner of puzzles. The puzzles themselves offer a variety of simple and more cerebral challenges, as you solve riddles and manipulate mechanisms, or just collect objects and » Continue Reading.

Funk Of Titans Review

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Funk of Titans is A Crowd of Monsters’ first console release; the title has been exclusively launched on Xbox One under Microsoft’s ID@Xbox initiative. You step into the funky shoes of Perseus, the son of Zeus who is less than amused by the musical styling of three Titans – Pop, Rap and Metal. It’s your task to traverse each of the three worlds and face off against each one in a dance battle to bring back the funk – this is a musically inspired take on Greek mythology and a weird one at that.

The art style is charming; the worlds are well laid out and the amusing mix of funk and Greek mythology make this auto-running title something that I kept coming back to over my seven hour playthrough. The pace and length of each level is spot on; perfect if you want to nab each of the three gold medals – one for finishing a level without taking any damage, one for collecting 100 gold vinyls and one for finding the hidden Pegasus Idol – collecting all three is easier said than done, particularly on the rather devious third world where you will need to be spot on with timing your jumps and weapon swings!

There are numerous obstacles to traverse and enemies to avoid if you are to make it to the end of each level, which is marked by a jukebox pumping out funky rhythms. Perseus can take two hits before it’s funk over, the first hit will strip him of his armour leaving him in little more than his underwear to run the rest of the level in.

Gold vinyls lead you through each level like breadcrumbs and help to indicate the length of each level. Some vinyls are hidden in vases » Continue Reading.

Shape Up Review

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New Year Resolutions, did you set any this year? Lose Weight? Get Fit? Play more games? If that’s the case I may have the perfect game for you and it actually will help with all three. All you need is a Kinect Sensor, a well lit room and a copy of Ubisoft’s get fit title Shape up.

Exclusive to Xbox One, Shape Up combines a foundation of proven fitness methods with fun mini games to make it feel like you are not really exercising. The first thing you’ll notice is that game looks like it’s been taken over by a 5-year old overdosing on Haribo but it suit the game perfectly, there is plenty of energy buzzing around and it’s exactly what you are going to need.

There are a couple of ways to play the game, you can jump in and take on specific mini games, but to get the most benefits you are better off taking on a four week challenge. The challenges give you a boss to take on at the end of the program while spending the weeks leading up to the finale by working out through the different games. Every time you complete an exercise you earn bolts, and once you reach a quote for a week you can then start to build up a streak, it’s a good way to encourage players to keep coming back, there is also an achievement for getting a streak of 24.

For the most part these are quite fun, one game Piano Step involves the player stepping on piano keys as they light up to music, it certainly gets your blood pumping and proves a test for your co-ordination skills. Other games involve Squatting to the Moon, Arctic Punch and Stunt Run. The different games are designed » Continue Reading.

The Crew Review

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Ubisoft haven’t had the best 2014, sure they’ve released some great titles but some of them have been marred by game breaking bugs or poor connectivity in multiplayer. Now the dust has settled, how does Ubisoft’s MMO racer place on the starting grid and can it get a podium finish? Set in a fictional compressed version of Continental United States, the cities and countryside environments retain their identity but are not too large that you will have to spend hours driving from East to West/North to South.

Need for Speed used to release a yearly title with a storyline that would be right at home in a Fast and Furious film, now The Crew has taken on this mantle. You play as Alex Taylor, voiced by Troy Baker who voiced Pagan Min in Ubisoft’s open world shooter Far Cry 4. You are the brother of a car gangster who is killed by a rival gang member, the police arrive with you at the scene and put two and two together with the help of a crooked FBI agent leaving you in the frame. Five years later and the FBI come crawling to your cell to ask for your help to infiltrate your Brother’s old gang (The 5-10) and bring down the FBI agent that framed you – the story certainly won’t win any awards for originality!

Ivory Tower are behind the wheel of The Crew so it’s no surprise that the developer brings with it influences from their past, which include Need for Speed and Test Drive Unlimited. It’s also no surprise then that the gameplay is firmly rooted in an arcade style of racing, it worked for Need for Speed so why not the Crew? Well, you need to get the AI right and unfortunately for The Crew » Continue Reading.

Pier Solar And The Great Architects Review

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As ever, with the advent of a new generation of gaming technology, there is the temptation of revamping older titles and giving them a makeover that Nick Knowles would be proud of. Pier Solar and the Great Architects is such a title. With all that power at your disposal, the first instinct is to throttle it back. I’ve never understood why, but in some cases, I don’t care.

Taking inspiration from the Sega Genesis classic of the same name then, Pier Solar starts off as faithfully as the original. You are Hoston, the main character, a young botanist whose father is gravely ill. Joining him on a quest to find a universal herbal cure is Alina; an adopted best friend, and Edessot; a genius at mechanics and electronics. Starting in Hoston’s home, it’s clear that his mother doesn’t want him to go into such a dangerous place as the caves, where the medicinal herb is found. Along the way you’ll have to face ambush from monsters, numerous side-quests and mini-games, all set in a 16-bit inspired graphical world.

These visuals are a symphony in 16-bit. Think souped-up Japanese handheld console and you might not be too far wide of the mark. There are a trio of setting for the graphics too, depending on your own personal tastes. I couldn’t really fault the graphics, knowing the origins of the game, it’s refreshing to see the developers, who also developed the original, use the technology to reproduce the environments with a smoother feel.

The audio too, is faithful to the original, if not a little repetitive and irritating. There are no speech samples in this version, which is quite disappointing. The developers obviously wanting to reproduce that original feel in » Continue Reading.

Juju Review

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What a pleasant surprise Juju turned out to be. After a sickeningly cute introduction to the characters and story, Juju reveals itself to be a delightful, well-designed, and visually impressive side-scrolling platformer. There’s a slight lack of character to the leads and the odd complaint here and there, but otherwise Juju is an excellent little adventure.

The story begins as a panda leisurely walks through the forest to a temple, with an artefact in hand, whilst a young panda named Juju and a young lizard named Peyo, sneakily and curiously follow behind. With the artefact placed on the temple pedestal and projecting great power, a distraction gives the young’uns an opening to investigate with a more hands-on approach. Cue tampering and breaking the artefact, spreading pieces of it in four different lands, and leading to the release of a great evil.  It’s now up to the cub and lizard to gather the pieces together and defeat the escaped villain.

Juju very much feels like the collation of all past platformers, reforming their ideas within a unique shell. There’re obvious influences ranging from Sonic to Rayman, with level design similarities bringing back nostalgic memories of Mickey’s Castle of Illusion and Crash Bandicoot to name but a few. However, concepts from history’s great platformers are merely borrowed rather than copied or stolen outright, maintaining a unique enough feel and look to avoid direct comparisons with its peers.

3D visuals on a strictly 2D plane setup the perspective for the left to right side scrolling, meanwhile simple jumping on and over obstacles and platforms in order to reach the end, whilst collecting butterflies holding gems, is the objective. Enemies are present as well, stylised appropriately to the theme of the four different locations: a forest, a land of toys, an ocean » Continue Reading.

Forza Horizon 2 Storm Island Review

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Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island is the first piece of DLC that expands upon the content of the main game. The action takes place on the fictional tropical island of Isola Della Tempesta (Island Storm), its terrain is harsh and its weather is devilish. With 90 events that include new modes and cars to race, Bucket lists to dominate and discount boards to find and smash, you won’t be left feeling short-changed after dropping £15.99 (£7.99 for VIP members) on this great piece of DLC.

There are six tiers you need to progress through if you are to reach the island finale, although you won’t have to complete them all to unlock it. Each tier has four championships that span across the different car classes, you can use your current cars that you have stored in your garage but be warned, if you don’t install the Storm Island mods your ride will have trouble clinging to the terrain. Each tier has its own mini finale – Gauntlet. This extreme offroad event takes place on floodlit courses in the dead of night. They are particularly tricky to navigate, not least because of the tight turns and high jumps but because of the harsh storm rolling around in the background attempting to distract your attention from the road. As if that wasn’t enough to contend with, you are forced to use a pre-selected vehicle with no option to tweak the parts.

The weather effects in Storm Island are really impressive; sheets of rain swirl across the track, trees almost double over in the wind and fog hangs over the track to conceal hidden dangers. Your windscreen wipers fight in vain to try to keep your view clear from the elements but is it all just for show? I never really felt like the weather » Continue Reading.