Tag Archives: Combat

Prey: Mooncrash review

Prey: Mooncrash is a very clever and highly enjoyable melding of first-person shooting and exploration with Rogue-like death and replay. It manages to create an entirely fresh experience in the Prey universe. Moreover, it’s fantastically compelling.

You are tasked with entering a simulation and reliving the desperate escape of five individuals that are trapped on the lunar base with Typhon enemies. Much like the core game, the Typhon come in a variety of forms, including the Mimics which morph into different objects to deceive and scare the hell out of you, and bi-pedal forms known as Phantoms. Some additional, new forms are also present in Mooncrash, including a tentacle spewing egg and a terrifically named ‘moon shark’. Dealing with these enemies, either through combat with whatever weaponry you manage to find – melee and projectile – or through environmental hazard manipulation, sneaking, or your very own Typhon abilities and skills provided by implants, is the order of the day.

Indeed, there’s a wealth of options as to how you choose to engage, or avoid, conflict, and the same can be said for progressing through the moon base. Multiple paths are available with different obstacles to traverse, whether these are locked doors requiring pass cards, hacking skills, passwords gained by reading notes and emails or the computer terminals, let alone the environmental hazards and enemies. However, a big change with Mooncrash over the core game are the five characters you control.

To begin with you’re limited to a single character, but as you play his unique escape attempt you gradually unlock the additional characters. This can occur when you discover their corpse for the first time, or by achieving the specific story objective for a character. These objectives are present for each character and revolves around one of the five available escape methods, such as using the escape pod, flying out on a shuttle, etc. Meanwhile, additional objectives are also available for each character, should you feel the need to put yourself in great danger and uncover more of the plot.

With the Rogue-like addition of skills carrying over even after death, and the environment maintaining a persistent state for each cycle, after a dozen or so attempts you’ll have the whole cast ready to go, allowing you to use the abilities of different characters to help pave the way for the others. The ultimate goal is the have a perfect run; where all five characters manage to escape during a single, unbroken cycle. However, achieving this is anything but simple.

Determining which characters can do what is largely a case of trial and error and is discovered simply by using them. However, understanding the base layout and what activates what, takes some exploration, and the more you explore the more dangerous it becomes. This isn’t only because of the random spawning of enemies for each cycle but also because of an imposed time limit. The simulation technology you’re using is unstable, and the longer you remain in it, the more unstable it becomes. This instability is measured in levels, and as each level is reached, new enemies spawn and become more aggressive. It’s a clever mechanic that adds urgency and threat with an effective randomness; it’s Rogue-like at its best.

And indeed, it’s these Rogue-like elements that make this such an interesting experience. Items and enemies surprise you with different spawn locations each cycle, the environment also changes throwing unforeseeable obstacles at you, all the while your cast of characters are gradually getting stronger, your knowledge of the base is increasing, and those five escape plans and their order begin to reveal themselves. Pair this with Prey’s environmental storytelling, intense combat and terrifying enemies, and you’ve got a tremendously unique and engaging package.

Prey’s core mechanics of exploration, limited ammo and health, and horror would make figuring out how to achieve each characters’ escape frustrating due to the amount of times it causes your demise, but due to the Rogue-like qualities of skill retention and a semi-persistent environment, it makes this a unique and entertaining experience that’s hard to put down.

Thanks to Bethesda for supporting TiX

Vermintide – Karak Azgaraz DLC review

Fighting the Skaven horde is a highly enjoyable and challenging pastime that we at TiX Towers have enjoyed immensely. The Karak Azgaraz DLC gives us precisely the excuse we need to dive back in, providing a short, three mission adventure where players attempt to warn the dwarven hold of Karak Azgaraz of the approaching vermin horde.

Indeed, the thousands of vicious and bloodthirsty rat people that you’ve slain so far in Vermintide has failed to stop their attack against the civilised folk of Warhammer, namely the humans, elves and dwarves. The exhilarating and immensely satisfying medieval slaughtering must continue if you stand a chance at saving the dwarven hold of Karak Azgaraz. Therefore, you and up to three allies must gather again to slice, dice, shoot, and set ablaze the vermin in intense objective-based combat scenarios, first to the outlaying settlement of Khazid Kro then the Grey Mountains.

Khazid Kro places you in a narrow, claustrophobic settlement. It’s dark and dank and ideal for the waves of Skaven to come careening towards you and your party, as you frantically try to work your way through tunnels, all by the guidance of NPC dwarf Halgrim Halgrimsson. He tasks you with taking out the Skaven tunnels with some explosive barrels in order to obtain a keystone for use in the later missions.

With the tunnels destroyed, it’s up to the mountains in search of The Cursed Rune. A gruelling ascent through snowy terrain provides a nice variety of location to the majority of other missions in the base game, with a good old fashioned Skaven onslaught awaiting you at a vault that holds a crucial casket you need.

The DLC concludes at the peak of the mountain, where you must light a beacon to warn Karak Azgaraz of the Skaven threat. It’s a terrific little side-story with the same excellent intense and highly enjoyable combat of the base game.

Indeed, Karak Azgaraz is another excellent adventure for Vermintide players to enjoy, but it’s hurt by the surprising lack of players. For a title we celebrated as a game of the year last year, it’s baffling why we aren’t seeing more players in matchmaking. Perhaps a complete edition including all previous DLC will help mend this issue, and we hope it does, because this is some of the most fun you can have in a multiplayer title, and this DLC is more of a good thing, if a little short.

Thanks to Xbox and Fat Shark for supporting TiX

Torment: Tides of Numenera combat trailer revealed

Last week I posted an article stating that Torment: Tides of Numenera would have some deep choices for players to make during their epic adventure in this RPG. Now however InXile, the games developers have released a video explaining just how you’re going to beat the baddies and rise to the top of your game, here’s the combat.

Torment: Tides of Numenera has had an immense backing from RPG fans all over the world. InXile ran their own Kickstarter type event raising over $5 Million and is set for release on February 28th 2017. Head over to Techland Games Youtube channel HERE for more information on the game or check out  InXiles website HERE for all the latest information prior to the games release.

 

Slain: Back from Hell launching on Xbox One in October

Prepare for battle against Flesh Hounds, werewolves and other monstrosities with the upcoming console launch of Slain: Back from Hell, from the collaboration of independent game publisher Digerati Distribution & Marketing and indie game developers Andrew Gilmour & 22nd Century Toys.

Releasing October 5th on Xbox One, Slain will features brutal arcade style combat with bloody, intense platforming gameplay that puts a strategic twist on the classic hack-and-slash games of the 80s and 90s.

Slain 1

Set in a dark, archaic world, Slain has players take control of a grizzled warrior as they seek to liberate the kingdom from deadly overlords. Using elemental weapons, lethal mana attacks and cunning skill, players will battle and exploit the weaknesses of enemies to either save the doomed land or face being slain themselves.

Slain 2

A brooding heavy metal soundtrack from former Celtic Frost member Curt Victor Bryant adds to the ferocity and gothic aura of the game, serving to heighten the intensity throughout the myriad battles.

Since launching on PC Slain  has undergone a complete overhaul that has made the game a strong mixture of gory combat, platforming and strategy,

said Nick Alfieri, Director at Digerati.

These changes have earned high praise from the community and soon enough console gamers will get to experience the ultimate metal game.

Mitsurugi Kamui Hikea review

If you’re in the mood for a no nonsense action title that’s singularly focused on combat, then Mitsurugi Kamui Hikea is right up your alley. This austere offering is severely lacking in story, and takes place in a number of fixed arenas, but redeems itself somewhat by its in depth combat, resulting in an experience that’s short-lived but satisfying if slicing up waves of enemies with skilful precision and speed floats your boat.

You play as schoolgirl Misa, and over the course of half a dozen stages, you’ll pursue her best friend, Suzuka, who’s been corrupted by a demonic blade. A handful of very short cutscenes with minimal dialogue sets the scene and drives the narrative forward, but exposition is kept short and sweet. The plot is clearly not the focus of the experience, instead it’s the combat that takes centre stage.

Mitsurugi Kamui Hikea 2

In fact outside of this barebones story, there’s nothing but combat. Each stage is a small, closed arena with spawning bad guys to mow through before a boss fight. It’s entirely focused on these fights and feels very empty and featureless as a result. However, the combat shows some flair and complexity that rivals titles such as Devil May Cry, and once you start upgrading Misa’s move set, a great deal more strategy and technique creeps in.

What begins as a button-mashing affair, soon becomes a tense and frantic spectacle of highly skilled and satisfying swordplay. Basic martial arts fills a sword gauge which can then be spent performing samurai slices with your katana that do increased damage. Balancing the attack types to keep the gauge full and unleash some devastating combos when you need to, makes for a fun and tactical flurry of fights. Moreover, as you unlock new moves the combat becomes more varied and interesting, and your opponents follow suit with neat attacks of their own. It’s a challenging but enjoyable combat system and grows from humble beginnings to include parrying and counter attacks, juggling, and special moves.

Mitsurugi Kamui Hikea 1

However, as solid as the combat mechanics are, there’s very little else here to entertain you and it’s all over within a couple of hours. Additionally, as well as the many foes you’ll be engaging, the camera likes to fight you as well and won’t lock-on to enemies making the more advanced techniques that require precision timing that much more difficult to perform.

Mitsurugi Kamui Hikea is more akin to a fighting game than an action adventure, but one with a roster of only one character. Indeed then this lack of content is hugely disappointing. However, the experience is certainly focused on the most impressive and polished aspect: the combat, which is superb.

Thanks to Xbox and ZENITH BLUE for supporting TiX

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst reveals movement and combat videos

Two new gameplay videos have just been released giving further insight into the movement and combat systems within Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

The first video focuses on movement and shows how Faith can navigate through the environment by running vertically or horizontally along any wall, using pipes to swing around corners and over gaps and by building momentum she can reach tops speeds that will allow her to do daring jumps between rooftops or sylish slides through tight spaces. There is also a new move called Quickturn that will allow Faith to do a rapid 90 or 180 degree turn. Add to this the use of gadgets with a Mag Rope and Disruptor and there is nowhere that Faith can’t go.

The next video shows combat with the game. Faith can use a mixture of light and heavy punches to force enemies off-balance or to allow her to gain an advantage when they’re stunned. As Faith fights she gains Focus, this is achieved by maintaining movement and action. While in Focus enemies cannot hit her and when fully focused Faith will enter a Flow state allowing her to dish out more powerful and new attacks.

So what do you think of the gameplay videos, and are you excited about this game? Drop us a note in the comments section below and let us know your thoughts.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is due for release on Xbox One on the 24 May.

Yasai Ninja review

Yasai ninja is abysmal. The slightest sliver of adequate variety and aesthetics is completely undone by a mass of poor level design, feckless combat, atrocious checkpoints, a combative camera, noticeable slowdown and rushed storytelling. It reeks of bad design and insufficient play-testing, leading to infuriating situations where the mechanics and gameplay are at such odds that’s it’s barely playable at all.

There’s was certainly some promise initially. You play as either a samurai spring onion or a ninja broccoli, fighting against a vegetable army largely consisting of cucumbers but with the odd squad of chilli peepers and spring onions filling the ranks. Meanwhile, the odd boss battle breaks out between more vegetables, such as a giant cabbage. It’s a quirky setting brought to life by cell shading, sharp, defined edges, and a comic book framing device complete with white border surrounding the play-area and carving out speech bubbles.

Yasai ninja 1

Unfortunately this promise is shattered quickly. The opening cutscene is delivered in Japanese with subtitles but the subtitles are coloured white over a white or lightly coloured background, making them largely unreadable. Once you do take control of the pair of protagonists things get progressively worse.

As the spring onion samurai there’s a slight delay in swinging your katana, and after performing up to three swipes an additional delay before you can perform another combo, leaving you wide open at the beginning and end of your attacking animation. The combat is also horrendously rigid, tying you into very specific combos and punishing you for deviation with the aforementioned animation delays. It all makes for a slow, unresponsive system that is completely devoid of skill and nuance. The ninja broccoli has a slightly faster attack but suffers the same issues overall, and despite additional moves and combos added as you progress, the rigidity remains and the new move sets barely compensate for the increased enemy numbers and strength.

Yasai nini 2

This, of course, leads to an issue with difficulty, making some fights unfair if you haven’t unlocked a new combo or if your companion is nowhere to be seen. Fortunately, the friendly AI is aggressive enough to, with highly efficiency, fight by your side, an unusual occurrence in cooperative experiences that deserves some praise. However, with your companion so often getting caught on scenery or simply lost in the wilderness, you have to keep a vigilant eye on them and any upcoming foes to ensure you have backup.

Bringing another player into the fold helps with this, is also means you don’t have to switch between characters to perform their specific abilities to solve the simple puzzles that punctuate the combat. However, the platforming is sure to frustrate regardless of whether a friend join your adventure or not.

Water, lava, spikes and bottomless drops are strewn across each of the ten levels, each promising death should you fall into them. Death means respawning at a checkpoint, but with checkpoints largely undisclosed, where precisely this will be can be a mystery. Worse still the checkpoints are often significant distances apart. It’s utterly infuriating to complete a difficult platforming section only to end up in a large battle, get chopped up and respawn back before the platforming section. Moreover, the platforming requires some precision, which is a nightmare to achieve when the camera fights you for control.

Yasai Ninja 4

The camera acts as a physical object within the game world, bumping into the terrain and restricting its movement because of it. Furthermore, it barely tilts enough to see the ground, making jumping sections a trail and error challenge rather than a spatial awareness one. This also proves troublesome in combat. No lock-on mechanic is available so focusing the camera on your attackers is a chore, and with boss fights it can lead to plenty of unfair deaths.

At least then the game is only a few hours long. Despite frequent deaths and awful combat, perseverance can get you through to the end in a mere three hours. Collectable scrolls are littered around each level if you’re insane enough to want to explore the title further and find them, as well as some achievement challenges that ask you to perform specific feats within certain levels, but replayability is crippled by how terrible the overall experience is.

Yasai ninja 3

Yasai Ninja does provide some mild variety as your progress. The odd level becomes a 2D perspective, side-scrolling platformer, but the platforming feats expected of you can be fairly extreme in terms of making huge leaps at precisely the right time. Worse still the timings on some of the moving platforms occasionally load in wrong and are therefore impossible to complete. Falling to your death resets them on these occasions but just like the standard 3D levels checkpoints are rare, but at least this time they’re made obvious with particle effects.

Yasai Ninja is terrible. The platforming and combat is amateurish and the camera is as big of a threat as the enemies. Even the ending feels rushed, strongly hinting at a sequel and making the game feel a bit unfinished. How it passed any measure of quality control is a true mystery. The pacing is fast, at least, and there’s a welcome attempt at variety with the 2D side-scrolling levels, meanwhile, the friendly AI shows great promise when in combat, but these are minor victories on a battlefield misery.

Thanks to Xbox and Recotechnology for their support 

[rprogress value=9 text=”9%”]
[xyz-ihs snippet=”XboxOne”][xyz-ihs snippet=”Pegi7″]

FORCED review

FORCED does a great job at crafting a challenging yet highly engaging cooperative experience, one that scales cleverly to accommodate a single player but whose true marvel is revealed when a second, third and fourth player joins in on the fun. It’s mighty challenging, though, enough to test your friendships.

You play as a gladiator, born into slavery with the rest of your kin to perform for your masters in arenas of combat and cunning. However, if you survive the trials and defeat each tyrannical boss your freedom is granted. Of course this is anything but simple, relentless waves of foes attack you from every angle and devilish puzzlers stop you in your tracks.

Forced 1 new

In order to progress, and indeed survive, you must master both combat and puzzle solving, often under trying conditions. Each stage sports its own aesthetic qualities, from lush jungles to desolate deserts, each with ruins that are part maze, part arena, funneling the unique denizens of each locale towards you so they may attack you mercilessly. Meanwhile, they’ll be a puzzle or set of puzzles to solve that opens up the way forward, stops enemies spawning, or simply makes up criteria that results in the completion of that arena. Figuring out how to deal with the many enemies and solve the puzzles efficiently is a true mental workout.

It’s remarkably entertaining trying to juggle the combat and puzzle solving, it leads to frequent deaths as you try to figure it out but with every failure a lesson is learnt. FORCED is terrifically well-balanced and fair, enemies have weaknesses and attack patterns that can be exploited and anticipated, the arena’s size and design offers additional opportunities to aid you in combat or punish you, once you’re familiar with the mechanics it becomes all about figuring out how each arena functions, and it’s a fascinating journey of discovery.

Forced 2 new

A spirit guide accompanies you on your quest, Balfus, and through him you can interact with the arena, activating mechanisms and power ups, or even turning the spirit into a bomb temporarily to destroy totems or enemies. Meanwhile, a marks system registers as hit counters on enemies up to a maximum of five, generated by standard attacks and then spent by performing special attacks, with the more marks on an enemy causing extra damage. This system also ties into the weapon you choose to wield, which you can change at the beginning of each arena, as well as the abilities and stats you chose for your characters as you level them up.

Indeed FORCED offers a pleasant amount of choice and never locks you in to a single style of play. A shield you can throw allows you to block attacks if you can master the precision required, while being able to deal significant melee damage, meanwhile the bow offers quick arrow shooting or a charged, more powerful shot. Each are enhanced by their elemental properties which can be further customised with the skill tree of your character and can also be changed at will to fit any style of play. It’s terrifically open and welcoming, however, this isn’t the case for the difficulty.

Forced 3 new

FORCED is supremely challenging, so much so that it warns you of its challenge on the menu screen. Enemies can be countered or blocked, the puzzles can be completely quickly, and the bosses can be overcome with minimal damage, if you know precisely what you’re doing. It’s very much a matter of mastering the mechanics of combat and working out the puzzles as soon as possible. Trial and error gets you to the point where you can perform a clean run through an arena but it takes plenty of tries to get there, especially solo. Bringing another player or three in to the arena helps significantly with the extra heads and weapon sets. Moreover, the puzzles change slightly to better accommodate cooperative play. This is where FORCED truly shines.

Forced 4 new

FORCED can’t escape the inherent frustrations that come with frequent death, despite each failure ultimately proving to be fair, but sharing the failures with friends helps alleviate the worst of it. Furthermore, cooperative play offers a different experiences than solo, tapping into the cooperative spirit and requiring teamwork to solve the puzzles, such as activating pressure pad simultaneously. However, where fellow gladiators really comes in handy is the Survival mode, which is far more demanding than any of the campaign levels, throwing waves of enemies and requiring constant communication and effective use of Balfus.

FORCED is an enjoyable co-op brawler and puzzler but an extremely challenging one, however, the design is so fair and clever that the frustration of dying is lessened slightly. Four player co-op is certainly the best way to play in order to see the puzzles and arenas in their true glory, as well as help with the burden of puzzle solving and frantic combat.

Thanks to Xbox and BetaDwarf for their support 

[rprogress value=82 text=”TiX Score 82%”]
[xyz-ihs snippet=”XboxOne”][xyz-ihs snippet=”Pegi16″]

Darksiders II: The Deathinitive Edition review

Even after Vigil Games were disbanded and parent company THQ closed their doors, it’s terrific to see the Darksider series resurface with an enhanced re-release of the second game in the series, Darksiders II, now aptly subtitled the Deathinitive edition. But how well has the title aged over the last three years?

Fortuantely things are looking good for the second horseman of the apocolapyse. Death rides into battle, slicing and dicing foes whilst exploring puzzle-filled dungeons with the same spectacular combat and extensive world to explore, now with all DLC content neatly woven into the main story, a little extra crispness, as well as some new textures and visual effects.

darksiders 2 3

Following on from the original game, Darksiders II puts you in the role of War’s brother and fellow Horsemen, Death, on a quest to absolve War of his crime of unleashing Armageddon on Earth. As the plot thickens you visit multiple realms and meet supernatural forces and individuals you must destroy, barter with or aid in order to further your quest.

It certainly has a familiar flow to proceedings but it’s well paced and makes great use of the narrative and its inherent intrigue. Borrowing biblical references aplenty, Darksiders II adds additional depth to the unique picture of the apocalypse that its predecessor painted. It’s a significantly bigger and more detailed universe this time around and the enhancements make it all the more vivid thanks to new, fancy lighting and reworked textures that bring elements such as wood, steal and water to life with a little more clarity. Additionally the bulky, stylized art style ages well and adds a unique and attractive aesthetic.

darksiders 2 2

The main quest alone takes a good 20-30 hours to see through, and the multiple side quests – although many rely heavily on fetching a certain quantity of a particular item – offer options to deviate from the critical path and experience more spectacular locations and boss encounters.

Much like with the original Darksiders, the Zelda-esque aesthetic is a prominent theme, with each realm you visit acting as an open-world hub to access several dungeons. The dungeons themselves are sprawling caverns, castles and ruins filled with puzzles, enemies, loot and traversal challenges, all sporting a smart and visually stunning design that makes excellent use of Death’s abilities in each discipline.

Finding keys to locked doors and pulling, pushing, placing and rotating a whole host of realm specific objects gradually opens the way forward and gives you a slight mental workout in the process. Meanwhile, ledges, ceiling hooks and walls covered in vines will have you wall running and using abilities such as Death Grip to pull distant objects to you or you to them, or even creating portals on certain surfaces or splitting yourself in two to activate multiple pressure pads. It’s Soul Reaver meets Prince of Persia and it’s a mostly brilliant experience that’s just as much puzzler as it is platformer, although the occasional camera and direction miscommunication can frustrate and cause an unfair death or two. In fact the camera does like to fight with you a little and even induced some nausea on occasion.

darksiders 2 1

Combat, however, is the meat of the experience and it’s a remarkable system. What starts off as button mashing soon reveals itself as a much more nuanced mechanic. The two button system allows you to mix two different weapon types, styles and speeds into a precision foray tailored to your foe. Additionally the World of Warcraft loot categorisation of weapons – ranging from standard to rare with stat and elemental traits to match – further feeds into the effectiveness of your attacks. Then there’s the option to upgrade possessed weapons by feeding them other items, increasing their stats and adding traits. As your enemies become savvier and more aggressive your attacks must become more effective to match and your dodge more precise, and this marvellous system grants you the flexibility and means to fight back with grace and purpose. Additionally a levelling system allows you to spend skill points on mage or warrior abilities, granting you some powerful new attack options. The combat is so much deeper than it initially seems.

The adventuring through dungeons, puzzle solving and combat does get repetitive though. The environments shift at a steady pace with enough new elements added to keep you engaged and challenged, all driven by the narrative, but you’ll likely to get bored with the ‘find these three things’ quests as well as several puzzle sequences repeating but to different scales. The boss fights, however, are a worthy reward for your perseverance.

Boss fights are varied, challenging and a fascinating spectacle. One moment you’ll be fighting an Angel or Demon, the next a huge tree-like creature or stone golem. Each encounter challenges you to use your combat and traversal abilities to their pinnacle and it’s hugely satisfying to win.

darksiders 2 4

The spectacle, however, isn’t restricted to boss encounters, everything looks terrific. Characters, weapons, armour and architecture all sport a Warhammer/World of Warcraft aesthetic with chunky, defined edges and a bright and varied palette. A smooth and large spectrum of animations for enemies and Death in combat fill the screen and is a delight to witness. Enemy variety is perhaps the least impressive trait, though, with more than a few similar looking creatures luring in each location, and the level of detail certainly can’t match the more contemporary titles on the market.

Indeed, Darksiders II is an exceptional action adventure title, with level and combat design that sets the standard for the genre. The repetitiveness from a lack of objective and enemy variety is a shame, an unfortunate side effect from the length, and with such a gap between this release and its predecessor it’s a shame to not have a better recap for War’s adventure, but otherwise Darksiders II is excellent and the Deathinitive edition is absolutely worth your investment.

Thanks to Xbox and Nordic Games for their support 

[rprogress value=86 text=”TiX Score 86%”]
[xyz-ihs snippet=”XboxOne”][xyz-ihs snippet=”Pegi16″]