Tag Archives: Combat

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

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Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition review

Last year Capcom brought 2014’s DmC to current consoles with a definitive edition. Now, 2008’s Devil May Cry 4 sees the same treatment, jumping over to the Xbox One with enhancements and new features. Loyalty is divided between the two versions of Devil May Cry, and now fans of either style can dive back in and slay demons to their heart’s content. However, with such a significant gap between Devil May Cry 4’s original releases, can this refreshed version still compete?

It turns out it certainly can, achieving a high level of visual clarity as well as a refreshingly bright colour palette sees it stand toe to toe with the majority of refined re-releases. It also enjoys some new features, but underneath it all are the same issues that plagued it back when it first released, making for a compellingly intense action experience but not the most coherent one.

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Style over substance is clearly Devil May Cry 4’s philosophy, and its special brand of over the top action is an enjoyable spectacle. It all starts off with you jumping into the shoes of series new comer, Nero, and after a cut scene introduction you’re battling series favourite and previous protagonist, Dante, in a tutorial combat scenario. Your three weapons are broken in during this sequence, with swordplay, gunplay and demon hand-play, all introduced as you fight against a cocky Dante, who’s just blown the heads off seemingly innocent people. Wall running, bullet dodging and blocking, and insanely showy sword combat is unabashedly shown off before Dante scarpers and you take to the streets only to find demons invading. It’s now up to you to slaughter the demons and chase Dante down. However, things aren’t quite what they seem, and soon a convoluted plot unravels.

It’s a story that drives the action at a great pace but leaves the narrative behind, largely. Mindless combat is punctuated by impressive showdowns against boss demons, with a trickle of storytelling on the side. Half way through and you control switches to Dante, where you retread Nero’s path and re-fight the same boss. Finally, with the end in sight, it’s back to Nero and a third skirmish with the same bosses. It can’t help but feel padded and unimaginative, and despite how great the boss fights and combats overall is, it feels dull and frustrating to face the same challenges multiple times. And the combat really is spectacular, achieving a high level of style and spectacle whilst remaining technical and clever.

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A style metre measures your skill in combat, rewarding you for variety. As such you’re encouraged to switch between your three weapon types rather than focus on a single one, as well as upgrade them all and learn new moves. It makes combat more cerebral despite the button mashing ease of using your weapons, striking a unique balance of easy to use and learn yet difficult to master. Moreover, Dante has four separate styles of combat: Trickster, Sword Master, Gunslinger, and Royal Guard, with each providing different moves, strengths and weaknesses for you to experiment with. With spectacle being such an integral part of the Devil May Cry persona, this accessible, versatile, and visually stunning combat system is a fantastic highlight.

The re-used boss encounter and locations hurt the tale Devi May Cry tries to weave but an abundance of unanswered questions and lack of ties to the previous titles and their lore, also makes it feel very disconnected. Nero’s striking resemblance to Dante, for example, remains a mystery. Things get worse for the story with the new features in this Special Edition.

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You can now play through the story as Dante’s twin brother, Vergil, as well as series favourites, Trish and Lady. All three have their own combat styles that share the same ease of use yet complex nature as Nero’s and Dante’s. They’re a terrific set of characters to play through with, offering up a different enough combat experience to make them all feel unique. However, although the odd cut scene with them helps move the story along, you’re still playing through the same tale as Nero and Dante, and the confusion only multiplies with their presence.

Devi May Cry 4 Special Edition brings the same brilliant combat, diverse colour pallet, and intense action as the original version back in 2008. Moreover, the visual enhancements make the aforementioned spectacle even more exhilarating. Additionally a new, even more intense difficulty mode, Legendary Knight Mode, gives veterans a new challenge, and the option to play as different characters is neat. However, the story is still a mess, and whilst the series has always leaned more towards combat than storytelling, it’s prominent enough here to distract you.

Thanks to Xbox & Capcom for supporting TiX

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Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires review

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.

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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 countless soldiers and enemy generals and commanders, to control points on a map, defend the ones you have and conquer specific individuals.

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Indeed then it’s a game of two halves: the battlefield combat and the strategic ruling, each offering drastically different experiences that pair together surprisingly well. The combat is fast paced and immediate, while the strategic planning and crafting of your kingdom is much slower and drawn-out. The result makes for some interesting and compelling scenarios. For instance, you may have a high enough rank to organise your own raids of territories, weakening them ready for an invasion force, but your ruler may have other ideas and invade somewhere you hadn’t expected, throwing you into a difficult battle that could have been made significantly easier if you’d softened it up instead.

The strategy portion is also highly varied. Your rank determines what you have influence over and what option you can choose between battles. A low rank limits you to following orders from your ruler and their generals, and fighting in battles. Meanwhile, a high rank will allow you to influence your ruler’s strategy, keep you own forces and perform raids independently and also get more involved with the politics of your kingdom. You can also take control of kingdoms and become the ruler, giving you ultimate power. Furthermore, you can complete missions for generals to increase your friendship with them, help with diplomatic relations and even marry and have a child to further manipulate alliances. With all these options and decisions you can make within a campaign, you can create a highly personalised narrative for yourself and experience something very different every time you play.

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The combat is far more predictable, but undeniably a lot of fun, initially at least. It does still suffer from repetition, with battles, regardless of objective, all coming down to hacking up the troves of enemies and their key commanders, but Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires makes a few good changes to help alleviate this. Stratagems can now be earned and unleashed on the battlefield, these cards offer things like random lightning strikes against enemies, or wave after wave of incoming arrows. You can even change the weather with some stratagems, which can improve or limit the usefulness of others.

Additionally the fame system from the previous game has been replaced with a traditional levelling system, so your character improves linearly and doesn’t fluctuate like before. And defence battles now require you to protect your points on the map for 5 minutes rather than the previous 15, making them far less tedious. However, the biggest change to the combat side is the different default weapons and move-sets for the characters. There’s been a reshuffling that will give veterans new techniques to master for their favourite characters, a move that is likely to displease more than delight the fan-base.

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Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires hasn’t changed much from its previous iteration but the changes and new additions do improve the experience for the most part. Things like the new customisation options for your horse, banner and troops are great for personalising your experience, but unfortunately poor visuals with low detail, ugly textures and objects/enemies popping into existence, are off-putting and disappointing. However, the series has never been visually stunning and a smooth, fast frame rate despite the hive of on-screen activity is perhaps worth the visual banality. And It is still fun but if the strategy aspect doesn’t appeal to you then the fun is going to dry up fast. Otherwise it’s another good but predictable entry in a series that hasn’t evolved enough.

Thanks to Tecmo Koei for supplying TiX with a download code

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