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Category Archives: Reviews

Pneuma: Breath of Life review

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Pneuma. In Greek it means “Breath of life”, amongst other things. Which is handy, as the title of the game suggests exactly that. I wasn’t sure what to make of Pneuma if I’m honest. From the trailers it looked like Pneuma would be a pretty first-person puzzler with a crazy God-like voiceover with little substance. In many respects it reminded me of Total Eclipse 2 on the Amstrad. Appearances can be deceptive however, so did Pnuema meet, exceed or fall short of my expectations?

The opening number from Deco Digital and Bevel Studios starts you off in darkness. For a game that has hinted at being visually stunning, this might seem like an odd choice to make, but all will become clear, or lighter, eventually. The darkness slowly subsides, through the power of your character’s thought alone, it would appear and the game introduces you to the basic fundamentals of the controls before you get the opportunity to do anything else. This is a good thing and seeing as the controls have been stripped right back, this makes the game as simple to pick up as the aforementioned breathing. As this first level progresses, you’ll notice that the developers have a certain eye for detail.

The graphics, then, as you run through this familiarisation with the controls and the environment, will strike you right in the mush. They are simply stunning. The polished stonework, buttons, stairs, walls, ceilings, corridors, plants are all perfect, as you’d expect if you’d created them yourself. There are imperfections though, and the way the good bits are excellent simply makes these look worse. The premise of this tale, as when you finish this Prologue, you’ll discover, is that you are as close to a god as you’re going to get. You’ve willed yourself » Continue Reading.

Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 1: Penal Colony

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Despite mounting evidence that only Telltale Games can pull of episodic releases, Capcom are giving the format a try with Resident Evil Revelations 2 and thanks to a tight and fast release schedule and cliff-hanger storytelling, this just might work, especially considering how terrify this first episode is.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 so far shows no ties to its spin-off predecessor, feeling like a self-contained title. The focus is on Claire Redfield from Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica fame, and Moira Burton, as they and their colleagues from bio-terrorism prevention organisation, Terra Save, are kidnapped and placed on a mysterious prison island. After waking in a cell on the penal colony, Claire and Moira team up to escape and survive the zombie-esque monstrosities that hunger for their flesh. Meanwhile, the pair are being watched and taunted by an unseen woman, communicating with them via devices attached to their wrists.

It’s an intriguing location and scenario to explore. Documents strewn across the prison hint at experimentation and the Uraboros parasite, tying it in with the larger Resident Evil universe nicely, and the location offers a pleasantly different environment to explore. Additionally, the story-telling is well paced and constructed to fit the episodic structure brilliantly, offering you an hour’s worth of tense combat and exploration with a sprinkling of story beats. The original Resident Evil’s Barry Burton and a mysterious little girl, Natalia, found on the island, then offers up another hour of the same but with a significantly different personality and perspective as he aggressively searches for Claire and his daughter 6 months after they went missing.

Most strikingly is how different each character is to play as, and how different the challenges are for them to overcome. Claire’s and Moira’s adventure is more desperate as they struggle » Continue Reading.

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round

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Dead or Alive’s greatest strength comes from its accessibility. Unlike many of its ilk, Dead or Alive rejects complex move-sets and combos for something simpler and purer. Two buttons do the majority of the work: punch and kick, combinations of which allow you to string together simple combos. A throw button and block button round off the face of the controller, leaving the shoulder buttons and triggers to dish out a more powerful punch and kick, a power blow, and a cheeky taunt. It’s wonderfully austere.

DOA is more about rhythm. Shifting the tempo of your strikes, keeping them varied aiming high and low on your opponent, being prepared to sidestep at a moment’s notice, and blocking in time with an incoming strike to counter and stun your foe. Indeed DOA isn’t complex but remains nuanced. Add to that gorgeous looking graphics, exciting transitions between areas within arenas, an intense soundtrack and impactful sound effects, and you’ve got yourself a superb fighter.

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round brings all of the aforementioned qualities together in the final version in the Dead or Alive 5 series, bringing together the previous version’s content, along with a few new things, to provide the definitive edition. The modes on offer are standard fighting game fare, not offering anything special but covering all the basics to allow you and the AI to fight it out in classic arcade mode or training, or for you and friends to beat the snot out of each other in one-on-one bouts or tag team locally or online.

The story mode is absolutely nonsensical and ridiculous, offering the flimsiest of excuses to pit two fighters against each other, but series fans will likely get a kick out of the lengthy narrative, and it serves as a good » Continue Reading.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse review

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You might expect Dragon Ball Xenoverse to be a game for fans of the series – I watched Dragon Ball Z (DBZ) when it first aired in the UK back in 1998, but over the years I haven’t kept up with the events and lives of Goku and the gang – with my limited knowledge, can a Dragon Ball newbie enjoy a game like Xenoverse?

Quite simply the answer is yes. Xenoverse is a whole lot of fun – the gameplay is simple and focused on fights that are set in three-dimensional environments where movement can be made in any direction. This can make the combat quite disorientating at times as you wrestle with all the directional axis in order to target your opponent or fly toward their location – using the lock-on is certainly a must – the camera also seems to have issues keeping up with the action too, often crashing into the environment but always correcting itself relatively quickly.

Combos are simple and reminded me of my misspent years playing Street Fighter II although you won’t have to remember multiple special move sequences – Xenoverse’s combat is focused on button and trigger combos to produce an array of fast-paced brutal attacks. It’s simple, which means there is a risk that Xenoverse could turn into a manic button mashing experience.  If you take the time to master the various combos, Ki attacks, special and ultra moves while on the offensive but remember to block, throw and use your evasion skills for defensive measures, you might find something that is far deeper than you first thought.

The game starts with various fights in history between popular Dragon Ball characters – history is rewriting itself and your role in the story is to stop it from completely writing itself and certain heroes » Continue Reading.

Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires review

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The Dynasty Warriors series revels in its adrenaline fuelled, hack ‘n slash, arcade action. Large battlefields act as your playground to brutally and spectacularly stab, slice, smack and subdue hundreds of on-screen enemies. It’s a very pleasant and satisfying experience. You wield unparalleled power and can decimate troves of enemies with a single swing. Add to that the over the top special moves and magical techniques and the whole thing turns into a wonderful spectacle based on the unification of China in the second century BC.

The Dynasty Warriors Empires spin-offs take this same hack ‘n slash experience but adds a layer of big-picture strategy to it, incorporating more mechanics, thought, and customisation, to expand the concept beyond mindless combat. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, many prefer the more simplistic experience, but if you’re itching for a more personalised and immersive genocide simulator, the Empires versions are certainly worth a try.

Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires is Omega Force’s latest entry, however, the Warrior titles are frequently criticised for their repetitive nature and lack of evolution: does this one finally do enough to shake that reputation? Unfortunately it doesn’t.  Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires certainly makes some smart changes over its predecessor but the experience remains much the same.

The primary mode follows the adventure of your chosen character, or custom-built character, as you join a ruler, or rise up against one and attempt to bring China under the rule of a single kingdom. Both historical and fictional scenarios crop up and challenge you to strategically plan your invasions, raids and missions, purchase and train troops, build facilities and obtain goods and gold. Then, of course, are the battle themselves, which sees you take to the battlefield with your forces and generals and hack ‘n slash your way through » Continue Reading.

Evolve review

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I’ll admit to being sceptical about Evolve when it was first announced. The concept of 4 vs 1 just didn’t appeal to me, I mean, how could that be fun! I therefore gave the Alpha a miss but when it came to the beta, curiosity got the better of me and I just had to give it a try. I ended up enjoying it more than I expected although I couldn’t quite put my finger as to why.

When I got my hands on the game at the launch event in London, I began to see how the game could prove popular… teamwork. The teams of people around me were having a great time and the atmosphere was electric, I mentioned I could see this proving popular as an e-sport and I stand by it.

For those who aren’t in the know, Evolve is a 4 vs 1 first person shooter where a team of Hunters take on a Monster player. There are four classes of Hunter and three types of Monster that can you can play as. There are various game modes that you can tackle including a single player campaign although if you can find the right mix of people to play you’ll have a great time with the multiplayer, which is certainly the whole point of Evolve.

When you first start the game you’ll play two tutorials, one as a Hunter and one as the Monster, it’s a good way to get used to what to do in the game as well as getting familiarised with the controls. You can go back and play the tutorial at any time to try to beat the target times. From there you’ll get to choose your preference of class, don’t worry too much about your first choice because you can change your choices whenever you feel like it.

» Continue Reading.

Controller Modz Domin8or review

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The Xbox One’s controller may have received quite the design overhaul but that hasn’t stopped a variety of companies springing up on the internet to offer customization services – one company is UK-based Controller Modz who not only offer an aesthetic customization service but can also add an additional set of buttons underneath the controller – you need never take your fingers off the left and right sticks again!

Established in 2010, Controller Modz began life as a small ebay store offering rapid-fire controllers but soon moved on to customising the aesthetic of controllers rather than providing mod chips. Looking to capitalise on a growing market, Controller Modz grabbed the bull by the horns and launched one of the UK’s first websites offering a custom controller service. Three years later a “build-your-own controller” was launched that proved most popular among the many customers that Controller Modz had received – to date they have built around 23,000 controllers!

As the market continues to demand more from customisation, Controller Modz launched a new initiative, the Domin8or buttons – small round buttons that are located underneath the controller and can be mapped to any two-existing buttons. Controller artwork can be chosen from a selection of options and you can also opt to replace any of the buttons or sticks with coloured alternatives. There’s also a range of house designs, with new ones being added all the time – the only thing missing is an option to add user-created custom designs but these guys are a friendly bunch and if you have a great idea for a design I’m sure they would only be too happy to fabricate for you… for a small price of course!

I was lucky enough to receive a batch one domin8or » Continue Reading.

Dragon Age: Inquisition review

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If I was a Bioware writer during the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition I’d have been scared as hell. Mass Effect 3 was the end of one of the biggest RPG franchises in the last 10 years but was met with major criticism because of its ending. Then there was Dragon Age II, which although I thoroughly enjoyed, it was also met with quite the backlash from fans for being too different to the original game. Dragon Age: Inquisition however is a spectacular RPG that will keep players coming back for more, months after they first load it up.

Without giving away any spoilers, the game starts off with the Mages and Templars attempting to find peace with one another, the Chantry are caught in the middle brokering the deal. Something goes horribly wrong and during an explosion delegates from all three parties are killed. The Templars blame the Mages and the Mages want revenge against the Templars, it looks like Thedas is about to fall once again into a bloody war zone. Oh and did I mention the big gaping green hole in sky? That’s a tear in the Fade and through it demons are spilling out across Thedas killing indiscriminately. Members of the Chantry’s delegation pull you (the player) from out of the rubble and through a series of twists and turns you are chosen to help resolve the mess all while being labelled ‘The Herald’. The Inquisition is born from chaos and it is down to you and a chosen few to restore order across the land. As with all RPG’s nowadays, who you recruit and how you choose to play is completely up to you. Keep in mind however that your decisions directly affect the world around you. Not always for the better.

There is an incredible amount » Continue Reading.

Roundabout review

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Close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine this. Take Crazy Taxi, add to it a huge dose of Kuru Kuru Kururin, wrap it with an amusing cast of a 70’s B movie and finish it off with a disco funk soundtrack and you have Roundabout.

Roundabout was originally a PC game but it has finally landed on console and I have to say, it works beautifully. Set in 1977 the game puts you in the life of Georgio Manos, the world’s most famous, if weirdly quiet, revolving limousine driver. You start the game in the Limousine test center where you have to navigate your way through a set of obstacles to qualify for your license. On completion of this the story then starts to unfold and takes you through Georgio’s rise to fame, the highs, the lows and the loves while at the same time meeting some of the craziest characters I have seen in a game in a while. Oh and did I mention all the time your limousine is revolving!

The core of the game moves you through a colourful open world where you pick up missions in the form of passengers. Each passenger comes with its own full motion video clip which looks like it’s been cobbled together in your Dad’s garage, but that’s the point. This adds a weirdly hypnotic draw to the game and I was finding myself happily watching and laughing at each character’s craziness and even though Georgio doesn’t say anything, the looks and expressions from the driver’s seat said it all.

Once you have a mission you are guided by a series of arrows through the open world, carefully navigating your way through many obstacles like cars, street lamps, fences buildings and off course roundabouts. This sounds so » Continue Reading.

Blue Estate review

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There are only two reasons I use Kinect on the Xbox One at the moment, voice commands which work perfectly and Fantasia: Music Evolved which is just brilliant. Without those it’s a bit redundant. I hoped that Blue Estate, developed by HeSaw, would give my Kinect a new lease of life and while it didn’t quite give me another reason to use Kinect regularly, it still ended up being a bit of fun.

The first thing you notice about Blue Estate is that it’s a pretty crass game, the title sequence has a scantily clad pole dancer prancing around and frankly the tone of the game doesn’t improve. The game is a rail shooter based on the Eisner Awards-nominated Blue Estate comic books from Viktor Kalvachev. I’ve never read these comics before and I don’t think I’ll bothering after playing this, it’s just not my kind of style or humour.

You play as self styled “angel of murder” Tony Luciano, he is a bit of an idiot to be honest. He also needs a haircut. He is full of ‘quick wit’ or as I like to call it ’close to the line offensiveness’ no one in the game escapes a put down so at least he is consistent. It’s not all terrible, some of the narration is quite funny and at points reminded me of parts of the Borderlands humour, it just not going to be for everyone – without judging him (too much) Rich really liked it!

While the story and narrative is pretty forgettable, the visuals aren’t. The cartoon art at the start of each menu is gorgeous and each of the seven levels look brilliant too. Water effects are great, the character models are varied and they’re also a treat on the eye.

You can play using the Kinect sensor or by » Continue Reading.