Tag Archives: square enix

NieR:Automata BECOME AS GODS Edition review

Set on post-apocalyptic Earth, the world lies in ruins. Overrun by machines, the human race has escaped to the stars. In a bid to take back the planet the council of humans uses androids, which form an elite YoRHa unit, to explore the surface and rid the planet of the machine menace but the true beauty behind the narrative of the game is one that explores the emotions of both human, android and machine…

Seamlessly mixing SHUMP, action and platforming elements, NieR: Automata is indeed an incredible game but its success isn’t just the seamless blending of multiple genres but the way the story is handled. What seems like a simple ‘save the world’ adventure unravels to be so much more once you have begun to scratch away at the surface and play through the game multiple times.

After completing the game with the android 2B, you are able to experience the story from another’s perspective, which unveils a different perspective to the narrative. While some story events crossover, the multiple endings are well worth experiencing. Stats, XP and items carry over so you won’t be starting from scratch each time and new mechanics add an additional positive point if battling new enemies and uncovering additional plot narrative isn’t enough for you.

To experience the bare minimum that the story has to offer, you need to play the game three times to get endings A, B and C but instead of looking at it like you are playing the game three times, look at as playing it once but through the eyes of three different characters. Stick to one playthrough and you won’t get to experience the true beauty of NieR: Automata.

While there are five ‘true’ endings to the game – another 21 can be triggered by mission actions, which often occur by executing a ‘game ending’ choice like eating a fish, which inadvertently terminates 2B’s life permanently and rewards the K ending. Meanwhile, others are in-jokes from the developers that will give you plenty to do should you want to find all 26.

Rather than opt for adding buffs through levelling and progressing your skills through a skill tree, as an android you install chips into your mainframe – each chip acting as a power-up that enhances your body with various abilities, changes to the HUD or increasing your attributes. Even better is that you can load up to three skill trees so you can set up chipsets for particular situations – health buff, close combat, ranged etc. – working out how to manipulate them is essential if you take on hard mode.

Taking cues from Dark Souls, die and your mechanical body remains on the battlefield with your currently equipped chipset still installed, die again before recovering it and all is lost. Meanwhile, other player bodies are also left lying around – repairing them adds an AI version to your team, while retrieving them temporarily adds three random buffs that are relative to the chips that the fallen player had equipped.

In true PlatinumGames style, the combat is excellent. A flurry of moves not only looks badass, but it carries a great sense of weight to the blows. Never did I feel that enemies were cheap in their moves, if I died it was because of my own stupid mistake. But therein lies the biggest issue. If you create your chipset to complement your playstyle and have some skills with hack n slash button mashing, the combat is a breeze. Dead android bodies of other gamers littered areas where I barely broke a sweat.

If you fancy yourself as a hack n slash master then don’t dilly-dally, go in hard otherwise like me, you may find the game a little too easy. Flight unit sections add a slight reprieve to the combat, flipping the genre into a SHMUP with very light bullet hell sequences – I say light because while impressive on screen, they are super easy to negotiate, something that the bullet hell genre is not known for.

Visually the game looks great and while some of the buildings date the game, the vegetation and water effects looked wonderful. An amusement park area was a particular highlight, but there weren’t enough of these locations to explore and enjoy. Other locations barely held a light to its radiance and this is really my only gripe with an otherwise perfect world.

I’ve tried to stick with games that offer multiple endings, but I have often lost interest well before I had experienced all of them. While I doubt I will uncover all 26 endings, I did pursue A, B and C and I am sorely tempted to play the game again to find D and E.

Despite some obvious similarities, NieR: Automata gave me some serious FFVII vibes too, from location and gameplay styles to characters and the awesome soundtrack. Few games can boast being able to mix gaming genres well, but NieR: Automata manages this feat and is partly responsible for making the game a worthy entry onto my list of all time favourite games.

NieR: Automata is a fantastic RPG that will have you pining for more when ending A’s credits roll. Diving in again, you will find another layer of love for the characters and the many charms of the world, not to mention the exquisite combat that only PlatinumGames can deliver.

Thanks to Indigo Pearl for supporting TiX

Shadow of the Tomb Raider shows off its ‘stunning world’

The newest Shadow of the Tomb Raider trailer shows off its ‘stunning world’ and they aren’t wrong… the world looks incredible and makes me giddy with excitement to see this running on an Xbox One X. Not to get ahead of myself, I got serious Tomb Raider chills from watching this – I’m talking the original game from the days of the first PlayStation console.

Vast vistas, lush environments and Lara standing at the base of an imposing piece of ancient machinery makes for all the ingredients that made the original game so damn good. I hope that this third title in the new look series can finally hold a torch to what made Tomb Raider so good.

Let the excitement continue…

E3 2018 – Square Enix Roundup

The Square Enix E3 show consisted of a thirty minute pre-recorded segment instead of the live spectacles that we have witnessed from EA, Microsoft and Bethesda. They kicked off showing more gameplay footage of the forthcoming Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, with Lara taking the role of a killing machine as she stalks her enemies in an overgrown jungle. There were also re-caps of a few of the games featured in yesterday’s Xbox show, with Just Cause 4, Kingdom Hearts 3, Captain Spirit and Nier Automata all featuring, however further information was very scant.

The other games that were featured in very quick trailers were three Final Fantasy XIV Online monikered titles –  Stormblood: Final Fantasy XIV Online, Under the Moonlight and Final Fantasy XIV Online X Monster Hunter World (coming in Summer 2018).

We then moved onto Dragon Quest XI – Echoes of an Elusive Age followed by a new Platinum Games title called Babylon’s Fall which is launching in 2019 on PS4 and Steam. Then we saw Octopath Traveller on the Nintendo Switch.

Finally we saw a trailer for The Quiet Man which is coming to PS4 and Steam. This was completely different to everything else seen as it started as a CGI trailer that seamlessly moved into gameplay footage. More footage of this to come in August.

Overall, this felt like a very rushed and thrown together thirty minutes, that didn’t give us any further details on games that we hadn’t seen before.

E3 2018: Bethesda roundup

E3 2018: Xbox briefing roundup

Nier Automata coming to Xbox One

Ahead of the Xbox E3 show Square Enix have inadvertently revealed that Nier Automata will be coming to the Xbox One later in June. In a blog post that has now been taken down, Square also revealed that there will be a load of extra content and that it will be called the ‘Nier Automata: Become as Gods Edition.

We will wait and see if this is confirmed in either the Xbox or the Square Enix E3 shows over the next day.

UPDATE – Confirmed on the Xbox E3 event, this will be launching on Xbox One on 26th June 2018!

Kingdom Hearts 3 release date annonced

Kingdom Hearts 3 will release on January 29th 2019, the news was confined on the games’ Twitter account, while also apologising for the delay to the game.

The game was due to be released later this year, so at least the delay isn’t too significant, we’ll be running round with Sora and the gang soon enough.

Director Tetsuya Nomura also issued a statement on the delay.

We’ve announced the release day for Kingdom Hearts 3 ahead of E3 at the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra – World Tour-. I’m sorry that we’re asking for a little more time than initially planned. Please look forward to other information, including a few trailers at E3. Thank you.

Steam advert reveals Just Cause 4 ahead of E3

Hidden logos within websites, accidental adverts going live and erm… keyrings. The leaky boat of things getting spoiled before E3 sure is amusing this year.

The latest in spoilers comes from Steam, which makes a change from Xbox.com accidentally revealing things early, with the below advert being served for a short while to those that logged into the steam store. The advert didn’t reveal much, with no game page behind the link. Other than a moody sky and the same lead character, only the name is confirmed as being Just Cause 4 and with the advert appearing on Steam, a level of assumption can be made that this will release simultaneously across platforms.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider launching on September 14th

Lara’s Back. Back Again. Lara’s Back. Tell your Friends.

It’s been a busy news day, made all the better by the official announcement (and worst kept secret ever) that Lara Croft is back on September 14th in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the third game and climactic finale in heroine Lara Croft’s origin trilogy, which began in 2013 with Tomb Raider and continued in 2015 with Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is currently available on Xbox Game Pass.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be unveiled to the world on April 27, 2018.

Microsoft preparing for Biggest Ever E3 show on June 10th

 

Gravel Review

One of the biggest problems that Gravel faces, particularly on the Xbox One (which is the version that this review is based on), is that it’s always going to be compared to the Forza Horizon series. Which is really unfortunate as Gravel is a very good driving game, albeit without all the bells and whistles that you get with Playground’s masterpiece series of titles.

Gravel is developed by Milestone, an Italian team who have a good track record (sorry) in the driving game genre, having previously been responsible for the Moto GP and Ride games. They also used to develop the official Rally World championship games before it was passed to BigBen and Kylotonn. Having played and reviewed the disappointing WRC7 last year, my view is that an official rally game in this engine would be pretty darn impressive.

Although Gravel and the Forza Horizon series share a lot of similarities, the presentation methods are very different. Gravel ditches the open-world setting and instead goes for an edgy, Xtreme sports TV theme, called the Gravel Channel. Before races you are treated (or endured) to a commentator telling you just how awesome the upcoming race will be, and then afterwards you are told how great the race was, and to be honest this does become tedious and stale after a while. There are also some incredibly ridiculous lines of dialogue, my favourite being “If you didn’t faint whilst watching this race you’re used to strong emotions.” Wow. Although these lines of dialogue are repeated they are easily skipped and didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment. In the multitude of options that are available it can also be turned off, much to my pleasure.

So, with the open world setting not present it’s up to the menus to provide the jumping point to individual races. There are of course a number of game modes to choose from, the main one being Off Road Masters, and there are also Multiplayer, Time Attack, and Free Play modes to pick from. At this current time there are also Weekly Challenges which require you to beat a certain time in a set race.

But Off Road Masters is where most players will start. It is split into sixteen themed episodes, with each of the episodes featuring three to five individual events that will either be a single race or a small three race championship. Each race or championship has three stars up for grabs, with the whole three awarded for a win, two stars if you finish in the top three positions, and the measly one star if you manage to just complete it. Once you have enough stars you will unlock the next episode, so at times you will need to revisit earlier events for some easy stars! Amongst these episodes are special events, which are head to head races against the famous fictional drivers set in the Gravel world. There are no stars on offer here, but you will need to win the episode in order to progress.

As you win and progress your in-game level will go up and you will also unlock new cars and liveries. There are no purchases needed, as everything will be unlocked via your progression, however there is a menu option for DLC, which currently only contains a Porsche pack and a free “Bowler Bulldog” car. Obviously there is scope here for the addition of paid DLC in the shape of car packs, but as previously mentioned, there is nothing pushing you to spend real money in order to unlock cars.

There are seventeen different locations to race around, and from the beaches of Namibia’s Gold Coast to the city streets of Las Vegas these are truly a high point of Gravel. I fondly remember the first time I played the arcade version of Ridge Racer and being mesmerized by the background visuals, and Gravel gave me that same feeling. The locations are gorgeously created, whether you’re racing through sand dunes before bursting onto a beach and splashing through the water, or competing in the Florida stadium in huge trucks with fireworks exploding as you race through checkpoints. The weather and environmental effects are very impressive also, whether its water splashing up on your viewpoint as you race through the sea’s edge, or the faithful representation of that horrible muddy murky stuff you get on your windscreen in real life on a winter’s rainy day.

The driving mechanics are pretty spot-on as well. With a game mode called ‘Off Road Masters’ you will be pleased to know that you will spend most of your time sliding cars sideways through mud, grass or snow. This is achieved without too much skill and you will soon be sliding and drifting around corners with a huge smile on your face! The AI can be tough, as races can resemble stock-car races at times, and the collision detection never feels unfair. For example if you cut across the front of an opponent it will put you in a spin that will put you at the back and will be hard to recover from. Forza fans will be pleased that the rewind function is included, so any mistake can easily be rectified.

There are a number of different races to take part in. Lap Races and Checkpoint Races are standard eight car events, Time Attack is a single player blast to get the fastest time possible, Smash-Up is a single player lap or checkpoint race where you have to knock down targets as you race around, and Elimination is a survival race where the player in last position is eliminated every 30 seconds. All of these are fun except Smash-Up which I didn’t like at all. The targets you need to hit either have red crosses or green arrows, and if you hit the crosses it causes your car to slow down. Even if you hit the green first but then the back of your car brushes the red cross afterwards it still slows you down. I found these levels the most tedious to play as the fun factor was removed.

Unfortunately I did encounter some gameplay bugs. These ranged from slight graphical glitches, especially on maps which feature a large amount of water, as the shadows and reflections seemed to take a while to load in. On one occasion I finished a Time Attack race in first position but when I proceeded to the scoreboard I had finished in third. I also witnessed the opposition cars go missing from the minimap, and on one Special Event the opponents car disappeared from right next to me and suddenly was ten seconds back. Again these are not game breaking but did put a slight dampener on my enjoyment. I played Gravel on an Xbox One X and so far it is the only game to cause my console to become very loud, just like the in-game car revving. I also tested it on the One S, and it did appear to have a few more technical issues, including the race starting with my driver sitting in mid-air!

Despite the occasional bug I absolutely loved my time with Gravel. Overall, it took around 13 hours of gameplay to finish the Off Road Masters on medium difficulty, and I still have around 60 stars to go back and collect, which I plan to do. There is also an achievement for reaching Level 50, and I’m currently at 37, so there is still content left to do, including the multiplayer. The Forza Horizon games are notable for their vast amount of content, and at a recent game event, their studio head discussed whether or not there is too much content, and Gravel is much shorter, and at full price you may need to question the game’s value for money. But the major reason to go and buy this right now is that it is really, incredibly good fun. As you are sliding around corners or bombing down a beach you will be smiling, and that’s a good enough reason as any to make this purchase. If you only have room in your life for one off-road racing game then Forza Horizon 3 is probably the one to go for, but this is a very credible second place for me.

Thanks to Xbox and Milestone for supporting TiX

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm bonus episode ‘Farewell’ coming March 5th

Deck Nine, developer of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm have announced that the bonus episode ‘Farewell’ will be released on March 5th. Farewell reintroduces the first games protagonist Max to Arcadia Bay and tells the story of hers and Chloe’s relationship before Max had to leave.

Set before the events of Before The Storm, Farewell sees Ashly Burch resume the voice role of Chloe Price for the first time since the original Life Is Strange, as Rhianna DeVries voiced the character in Before the Storm’s three main episodes. Hannah Telle, who played Max in the original series, also returns.

A collectors edition of the game is also available to pre-order and includes a vinyl of the game soundtrack and exclusive figurines of Chloe and Rachel. More details can be found on the Square Enix Store.

Also please check out my reviews of the first three episodes of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. Episode 1: Awake, Episode 2: Brave New World and Episode 3: Hell Is Empty.

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider coming to Xbox Game Pass

In a not so cryptic tweet yesterday, Xbox Live’s Major Nelson hinted that eight new games are winging their way to the Xbox Game Pass service. However, in the accompanying picture its quite clear that one of these eight will be Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Rise of the Tomb Raider was originally released in November 2017 and follows Lara Croft as she ventures into Siberia in search of the legendary city of Kitezh, whilst battling a paramilitary organization called “the Trinity” that intends on beating her to the city’s promise of immortality. As of November 2017, the game has sold nearly 7 million copies. In 2017 the game was updated to be Xbox One X Enhanced so X owners amongst us can now play in glorious 4K!

A smart move by Microsoft as the new Tomb Raider film is getting it’s theatrical release in March also, so interest in the franchise will be heightened, and I guess they hope that movie goers will head home to their console and maybe pick up a Game Pass subscription in order to continue their time with Lara.

Rise of The Tomb Raider review