Tag Archives: xbox one

No Mans Sky Next gets a new trailer ahead of July 24th release

I was one of the enthusiastic gamer’s who jumped on the original release of No Mans Sky, but who tailed off after a few weeks due to what I thought was an empty experience. However, Hello Games have continued to pour love into their development of the game and now we are on the cusp of the latest iteration of the space exploration game.

The No Mans Sky Next update will release on PS4 and will be free to all owners of the game. The Xbox One will get its debut release on the same day. The update includes the addition of multiplayer, improved graphics, and a third person mode. The new trailer shows off the multiplayer mode, with multiple explorers all on the same planet. No Mans Sky Next is now looking like the game we all wished for on its original release.

Hello Games have been quoted as saying “This is an incredibly important update for us, but it’s also just another step in a longer journey, and we’ll continue to support No Man’s Sky in this way for the foreseeable future.”

Onrush gets a free trial on Xbox One

Yes Xbox owners, it’s now your time to try out the amazing ONRUSH for free! PS4 owners had the privilege last weekend, but now it’s your turn! The free trial is now available, giving you a whole hour to see what you think of the game.

If you’re on the fence, this is a great way to finally realise that Onrush is a fantastic arcade racer, which I reviewed and gave a whopping 9/10. You can go and read that review right here!

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn review

The original Shaq Fu received mostly positive reviews at launch, but as time passed it gained the notoriety of being terrible, one of the worst games ever made in fact. Certainly, a sequel or reimagining didn’t seem likely, but after a successful Indiegogo campaign here we have Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn, and what a pleasant surprise it is.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn ditches the original Mortal Kombat style tournament fighting setup for a side-scrolling beat ‘em up one instead, and it’s a great fit. Playing as Shaquille O’Neil (Shaq) you fight your way through six locations beating the life out of the many anthropomorphised demons that mean to stop you, before engaging a more varied and grotesque demon boss at the end of each one.

Combat is wonderfully simple and smooth, with a normal attack doing the majority of the work, a heavier shield-breaking attack, a dodge, a dash, and a powerful limited use attack rounding off the compliment of moves. Each one is gradually taught to you as they become necessary; it’s an intuitive move-set that proves fast, effective and fun.

Enemies are varied enough to encourage you to think about what move best suits a situation and which threats are best taken out first, but it’s still a fairly mindless brawler, to its credit that is. Instead you can focus on just how satisfying it is to beat up these enemies, seeing the occasional goon fly towards the screen and crack it, and watch bemused when Shaq randomly unleashes an exaggerated attack involving high kicks and body slamming. It’s silly, over-the-top fun.

The over-the-top-ness continues with the presentation, with crisp, bright cartoon visuals bringing the levels and characters to life, and some excellent caricature design for the enemies. The is especially shown off during the animated storytelling sequences between levels, where the characterisation is brought to life with excellent animation and wonderful transformations as the demons turn from human to demon form. Furthermore, a funny script that’s well acted does its part to make this reimagining feel thoroughly modern.

Indeed, there’s a story to follow as well, and while it begins only as a means to drive you forwards, it soon becomes intriguing, amusing and immersive. Demons hiding as celebrities, Shaq’s peculiar mentor and friends, all help to create a funny adventure and include the occasional fourth-wall breaking jokes. It all feels a bit Deadpool starring Shaq.

Unfortunately, despite the adventure only taking a few hours to complete, the combat scenarios do get repetitive. The odd special transformation for Shaq, a cactus suit and a mech suit, help with variety, as do the occasional environmental hazard, but the majority of play is spent fighting waves of enemies and gradually moving to the right. Additionally, we did run in to a couple of bugs during one boss fight, which was frustrating.

Once the short story is concluded there’s very little to entice you back. A lack of multiplayer is a crying shame and feels like it might have been the silver bullet to keep Shaq Fu interesting after completion, but alas. Instead there’s a Shaq-o-pedia to look up information on enemies and the like, as well as additional difficulty levels, but otherwise nothing to temp you.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn certainly provides a fun and amusing single player beat ‘em up experience. The lack of multiplayer, lack of variety, and overall shortness hurt it a little but there’s no denying how enjoyable it is the first time playing through.

Thanks to Wired Productions for supporting TiX

Zamb! Redux Review

Zamb! Redux is a co-op action tower defence game from Xbox newcomers Nano Games, a Polish developer who have previously released the Steam games Reef Shot and Cityconomy. I must admit I have previously never heard of this studio so I approach Zamb! Redux with some excitement but also some trepidation.

As I have just mentioned, Zamb! Redux is a top down/isometric mash-up of a tower defence game and a twin-stick shooter. It is designed to be played in co-op, however it is possible to play as a single player with the second character being controlled by the AI, and allows you to switch between them with the left bumper. The premise of the game is relatively simple. There are 29 levels, full of mutant bugs created by the evil Dr Hundertwasser, who is hell-bent on taking over the galaxy. You take control of two special operatives, Cye and Chrome, who are sent to stop him (naturally).

Cye is a melee based character, with his power gauntlets and special power attacks, whilst Chrome wields a gun and has the ability to place turrets. Each level contains Reactors that you need to activate, and then defend from the mutant bugs. Turrets can be placed anywhere on the level, or on special bases which boost the turrets by increasing their range or power. Some turrets act as health regeneration points should you need a boost mid level, whilst there are also turrets that release poisonous gas. Cye has special attacks such as a freeze attack, and the combination of the turrets and special attacks can unleash even more powerful combos. The level is completed when all reactors are activated and all bugs are squashed.

Each level also has an element of replayability, as Zamb! Redux takes the approach of a mobile game with stars awarded for completing the level in a different way, such as completing in a certain time, or completing without using a turret. All turrets and skills can also be upgraded between levels, increasing their range, health and power.

All sounds fun and promising so far, but unfortunately the end product doesn’t match up to the idea. Whilst the initial few levels were fun and interesting, I reached level seven and I was bored. Although I had unlocked different turrets and skills there was nothing there to make me want to carry on playing. It just wasn’t fun. And there were two main reasons. Although Zamb! Redux feels like a twin stick shooter it doesn’t control like one. Usually in this genre of game the RS controls your direction and also fires but instead of this you still change your direction with the RS but have to use the right trigger to fire, and have to continuously press for each shot, rather than holding down. Which is a royal pain in the bum.

Whilst Chrome is a fun character to play, especially with his turret placement skill, Cye is not fun at all. His special attacks are aimed with the RS, and this is fiddly and has a set range, so useless if enemies are close, and I found myself having to run away before you can use it effectively. I found myself switching to Chrome and using him almost exclusively, whilst Cye ran headlong into battle and died in every single level whilst being controlled by the AI.

I did quite like the comic-book styling of Zamb! Redux, and it had a really nice introduction video complete with comic panel features. The graphics and animations were fine, although when there are a lot of enemies on screen it was sometimes difficult to work out where your character is, so again this meant a lot of running away. Zamb! Redux may be more suited to a younger gamer, as unfortunately there are better, more interesting and challenging (and cheaper) tower defence games out there to spend your money on.

Thanks to Nano Games for supporting TiX!

Bohemia Interactive announce Vigor on Inside Xbox

Creators of Day-Z, Bohemia Interactive, have had an exclusive title announced on the Inside Xbox show, titled Vigor. Set in Norway, it’s a survival game very similar to Day-Z, and will be released in the summer of 2018, so very soon!

The developers were quite insistent that it is not a Battle Royale game, as you can survive by running and hiding, and avoiding any enemy encounter. Weapons can be crafted at your home base by using blueprints, which need to be found in the world, and all of your resources can be lost if you do fail in an encounter with another player.

Another game on the way to get really excited about!

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!

ONRUSH review

There is a classic saying that states “When one door closes another one opens”. UK based Evolution studios know this only too well, as a few years back they were owned by Sony and were responsible for the Motorstorm series and Driveclub on the PS4, but when Sony closed the studio down in 2016 the talented team all faced an uncertain future. However, just one month later, the team joined Codemasters in order for the two racing game developers to pool their “shared DNA, passion and talents”. Codemasters has also allowed the previous employees of Evolution Studios to retain their own unique style in the short, two year development cycle of their new project.

That move created the team now known as Codemasters Evo, and that trust and faith given to that development team has created the amazing ONRUSH in that two year cycle. Yes, I am getting that verdict out there at the start of this review. ONRUSH is a really great game. Their stablemates at Codemasters created the fantastic racing simulator that is F1 2017, and ONRUSH is probably the polar opposite of that game with it’s obvious arcade styling, but made with the same passion and love to create a world class driving game.

ONRUSH is a racing game with a twist, and the in-game narrator points it out very early on. Theres not one chequered flag to be found on any of the courses. Theres no tracks, pit-lanes or spectators. Instead what you have are four distinctive game modes, eight vehicles, a ton of AI controlled fodder vehicles and as much mayhem and fun that you could wish for.

There is a single player campaign, which acts as a tutorial for the different game modes and vehicles. Multiplayer is handled at the moment by Quick Play, which gets you into a match as quickly as possible and then continues on by cycling through a random playlist of game modes and tracks, so you never feel too far away from some action. There is a menu option for ranked matches, which will become active a few weeks after launch. Whichever mode you jump into you’ll find the basic gameplay is quite similar. Your car earns boost by taking out the fodder vehicles, jumping or doing tricks. Boost is then spent in order fill your Rush meter. Get this Rush meter full and you can activate your vehicle’s special power.

Taking down the opposition also helps fill your Rush meter, and obviously when the opponents are out of the game they are not earning their team any points. This is where ONRUSH differs from other racing games and takes a huge dollop of inspiration from shooters. To win in any of the game modes will require a certain amount of team co-operation. For example, the Dynamo vehicle earns Rush by driving near teammates, and when the Rush meter is full and activated it gives extra boost to those nearby teammates, whereas the Titan gives a shield to nearby teammates, so you can see how working together will be beneficial.

The four game modes are uniquely different as well. Overdrive is the most basic and requires you to purely earn and spend your boost which earns your team points. Switch makes you start off on a motorbike but then requires you to switch vehicles after each crash or takedown with the loser being the team that runs out of switches. Countdown is a race through gates against a decreasing clock. Hitting the gates will add precious seconds to your teams time, keeping you in the game, with the loser running out of time, and finally (my favourite) Lockdown, which really shows off the shooter inspiration by implementing a moving “Capture the Flag” area. Each of these modes require differing tactics and I am sure that I have just scratched the surface of working out just what tactics to use. Winning teams and players who earn the MVP status will be rewarded with XP and Gear Crates but it doesn’t really feel like you are playing for rewards or progression, but instead just for the fun of it.

There is a huge amount of customisation possible with the vehicles and characters. Levelling up in ONRUSH will earn you a Gear Crate, and these are opened in the most apt and fun way possible, earning you skins, celebrations and motorcycle tricks. Before the Internet gets mad I will point out that these crates can’t be purchased with real money and the items you win are purely cosmetic. ONRUSH has an over the top punk/rock styling, with a equally insane pounding soundtrack, and playing with headphones turned up loud feels the way to go, especially when you add in the amazing sound effects of the cars smashing to the ground and crashing into each other. The tracks are all well designed and individual with my particular favourite consisting of a huge circular dam that you race through, an experience I don’t think I have ever witnessed in a racing game. On the Xbox One X ONRUSH runs at a solid 60fps or at 4K, with the option to switch between the two, which I believe to also be the case with the PS4 Pro. I have also tested the game on the Xbox One S, which runs at 30fps and is still a very satisfactory experience. I have not seen any frame rate drop at all on any console, so it appears to be a very solid performer.

ONRUSH is not a subtle racing experience. It’s mad, insane, energetic and exhausting all at the same time. A real assault on the senses. And I mean that in a really good way. There’s never a break in the action, with the racing continuing between match rounds, so you are never taken out of the world. I do have a few niggles, but these are very minor. The respawn time feels too long, as it shows a killcam, and then a five second delay before you re-enter the race. Driving in the snow, whilst looking amazing, is a harrowing experience just like real life, and is too difficult to see where you are going. The biggest problem I can see, especially on release, are the number of game modes as four doesn’t quite feel enough. However, Codemasters Evo have confirmed that there are plans to support ONRUSH with new game modes and online events on a ongoing basis, details of which will be released over the next few weeks, but they need time to ensure that the player base is acclimatised to the game and that it is as balanced as can be before they add new features.

ONRUSH takes clear inspiration from Motorstorm and Burnout Paradise, however where it improves on those is in it’s track design. Burnout Paradise was too fast for its setting, and I spent an awful amount of time crashing. ONRUSH takes that speed and places it in wide open tracks and adds a huge amount of verticality, making it much more enjoyable. If you do crash and find yourself at the back of the pack the game will transport you back into the action almost immediately so you’re never too far from the chaos.

Hey, guess what? I love ONRUSH, and I can’t remember having this much fun in a driving game ever. Its Bold, Brash, Chaotic, Loud, Colourful and FUN and I cannot wait to see how the game is supported going forward!

Aragami: Shadow Edition Review – Xbox One

Sometimes a game comes along that looks so interesting and original that you ask yourself why you have no knowledge of it’s existence in its previous iterations. That’s what has happened for me with Aragami. A stealth based, third person action adventure is a genre right up my alley, so I took the review duties with pleasure. Aragami is developed and published by Lince Works, and was originally available on PS4 and PC in 2016. The version reviewed today is the debut of the franchise on the Xbox One that has a release date of June 5th 2018 and releases as the Shadow Edition, which is the original story plus the new Nightfall DLC story expansion.

The player controls a shadow spirit, Aragami who is summoned into existence by an astral projection of Yamiko, a girl who has been imprisoned after a war has been fought between the Shadow aligned Nisshoku (Good) and the Light aligned Kaiho (Bad). She claims that after winning the war, they imprisoned the Empress and her people in the Nisshoku’s main temple. She requests Aragami’s help in freeing them, and needs six artefacts to unlock the prison which are located across the games thirteen levels.

The main skill that Aragami has at his disposal is the ability to teleport to any area of his immediate vicinity that is cast in shadow, called a Shadow Leap, but this uses up his Shadow Essence, which is cleverly displayed as a meter on his cape. Shadow Essence is replenished by standing in the shadows, and drained by standing in well-lit areas. The colour of the player changes between bright red and black/gold dependent on his current essence. Each level is patrolled by guards, who can and will kill you instantly if they spot you. Staying hidden and using stealth is the only way to progress. It is possible to complete the chapters by not killing anyone, but there is also a great deal of satisfaction by shadow leaping to different locations in order to take out the enemies using stealth kills. If one of the many guards hear an attack or find a body on the floor they will immediately alert all the other enemies and they will all start searching for Aragami.

Hidden around each level are scrolls to collect, which are used to unlock new powers and abilities for Aragami, such as brief invisibility, decoys and my personal favourite, the Shadow Kill, which is a stealth attack which also removes the corpse after the attack is completed. As usual in these games, these extra skills will make the later, harder chapters much more manageable. Some of these chapters are very long and to help you they are split into different sections to stop you getting too frustrated with the restarts when you die. It is frustrating to clear an area, except for one last enemy who takes you out and you find yourself right back at the start of an area again. But, in the most part, the autosave and restart is handled very well.

Graphically, Aragami is very nice, with a distinctive, cel-shaded approach to its visuals. There are probably not as crisp and detailed as they could be though, especially on the Xbox One X. I played on both the X and S and couldn’t notice any differences between the two. The loading screens are really beautiful, with different art styles depicting scenes from the game. However, I did have some concerns about the frame rate I was experiencing, as at times it appeared to really slow down and stutter, especially with the Shadow Kill animation. I am playing a pre-release version so perhaps the developers are planning a Day One patch to resolve this, however frame rate was a criticism of the 2016 versions of the game. The design and implementation of Aragami’s cape is wonderful though, as it depicts both the status of his shadow essence and the various abilities, meaning the game can run without a HUD.

I should point out that there is also a multiplayer co-op mode in Aragami, but I have been unable to test and play this mode at this point, but it’s another feature to an already pretty packed content list. And the planned sale price of £20 means that with all the content available this really is great value for money. Each chapter does have re-playability as the standard Japanese level score system has been implemented so completionist’s can play through in the different play styles for those elusive S rankings! The achievements have a unique appeal as well, as they eschew the standard of 10 or 20 gamerscore each and instead offer up 19 or 22, which is ideal for those OCD gamers who want to get their gamerscore back to ending in 5 or 0! We are out there!

As much as I enjoyed playing Aragami, as it really is a fantastic experience for fans of the stealth genre, it does have some niggles which will affect the score. Firstly, as a stealth game the animations do cause Aragami’s death far too often. Performing a Shadow Kill and seeing an enemy guard walk around the corner will usually result in your death as he will attack you whilst the animation is still progressing. There does seem to be little chance in putting together a combo move in order to shadow leap, kill and then shadow leap away again. In fact, kills are only available to you once a button prompt appears on screen, and if you press the button in preparation for this it will not register, and this can sometimes be the difference between a successful kill and your death. But you will find yourself playing with this in mind, and it doesn’t break the gameplay at all, but just breaks the flow of what could be a flowing combo manoeuvre. However, what is completely nonsensical is not being able to attack an opponent if they spot you unless you have that on-screen prompt, as it will result in your death.

I also found that unlocking a skill during a level did not work successfully, with the new skill not being available to me until I started the next level. This happened to me with the Kunai – where you get a throwing dart – and I spent ages trying to get it to work, before it seemed to unlock at the start of the next level. Again it doesn’t break the game, but this one did feel a bit odd. The camera is also restrictive, especially when crawling through small spaces or being in a small room. And finally, the Shadow Jump can be fiddly, especially when you are trying to jump up on a ledge or roof, as it needs to be precise enough or you’ll jump to the side and fall back down again, which again can cause your death.

So, overall Aragami is a really good stealth game that is just let down by a fiddly control system and a complete lack of an attack button (unless the game wants you to have it). There is plenty of joy to be had nipping in and out of shadows performing stealth kills, and as much pleasure in playing the complete opposite way and not killing a single guard. But you will feel aggrieved at some of Aragami’s death’s when they are caused by an animation or that lack of an attack button.

Thanks to Lince Works for supporting TiX!

PUBG addresses fans with an update on bug fixing

Developer Bluehole have released an open letter to the fans of PUBG about the current state of the game and what they are doing to resolve the issues. In a move to become more transparent – akin to how Rare are handling Sea Of Thieves – the letter goes into great detail about what’s in store for the game on the Xbox One. You can read direct from them here – but all the detail is below for your convenience!

Patch ETA – The next patch is planned to release on June 5th. We may push this patch out earlier. If a critical issue arises, we may delay the update. We haven’t generally given specific dates until we’re completely confident with them, leading to a lot of frustration. Please understand that we want to share important dates as soon as possible, but we also don’t want to disappoint you by giving you a date which may change.

Patch Info – The next patch, currently planned for June 5th, will include fixes for GameHub stats not updating, as well as a fix for a common cause of crashing. We’ll also be implementing improvements to Elastic Accuracy Control for Characters (EACC), a system we recently introduced to reduce crashing and lag in heavily populated areas. We’ll detail EACC more later on in this post. There will also be improvements to our Prediction-based level streaming (PBLS) system, which we’ll also elaborate on.

There are many issues that need to be fixed in regard to performance, stability and gameplay. Some will take more time than others. We’re working hard to address all issues that can negatively affect your gameplay experience, as quickly as possible.

We’ll share more information about what will be included in the next patch as we get closer to its release.

Now, we will detail some of the most important, and common player concerns.

Stability (Crashing / Dashboarding) – There are various reasons crashes can occur and we are working hard on fixing them all. Until the most recent patch, the instances of crashes experienced by players was decreasing each time we patched the game.

The recent patch has increased instances of crashing for many players. This is unacceptable.

We’re currently working on fixing the two most common causes of crashing, with the first being fixed in the next patch:

1. We introduced some back-end changes to prepare for an upcoming feature and in some cases, the game would try to interact with this unfinished feature, causing the game to crash.

2. A crash is occurring in relation to caching memory, which is used to improve performance. We’ve been actively addressing this issue since December, steadily reducing the instances of crashes related to this each patch. We are focusing on resolving this problem entirely by the end of June.

As players have noticed, crashes and lag happen more often in highly populated areas.To combat this, on top of our standard ongoing performance and stability work, we recently introduced a system designed specifically to improve performance and reduce crashes in highly populated areas.

Previously, we handled character resources in full for everyone that was near the player, within a 1km radius. This was causing lag/FPS drops and crashes at the early stages of the game after landing, as too many resources were being handled all at once, in populated areas. We have been working on introducing a dynamic system for these specific situations and have implemented a system called “Elastic Accuracy Control for Character, or EACC. Each resource was refreshed at a constant rate within 1km radius of your player. When characters were picking up items, changing clothes etc, this was causing all items within the 1km radius to be refreshed.

We made this system dynamic with EACC. It will now work depending on many factors, mainly distance. It will handle resources (refresh resources faster or slower) depending on those factors.

Much like PBLS, with each patch, EACC will become more effective at improving performance and in turn reducing crashes, as we gather more data each patch cycle and our engineers implement improvements based on the analysis of that data.

Map Selection – Map selection is still in development, we’ve still got some further work to do and we’ll get this out to you as soon as possible.

World Rendering (Loading) – The rendering (loading) process is different in each match, for each player, in each location. We need to find the best process to load resources in all scenarios, for every player. As mentioned in our previous dev letter, we’re using a system called prediction-based level streaming (PBLS) to speed up the rendering process. Our engineers are adjusting and optimizing this system every patch, based on data accumulated during that patch cycle.

PBLS is used specifically when parachuting, as it uses a lot of resources which can cause lower FPS for players. We use a different non-prediction-based level streaming system while on the ground, as it is more efficient.

When parachuting and falling through the air, a lot more resources have to be loaded than when you’re moving in on the ground. Imagine a chessboard as our map, with each square representing a square on our map. Your character occupies a square on that chessboard while on the ground and the game will load three squares in front of you (in a T shape), as your movement is somewhat predictable—we know where you’re going.

This is much different when in the air, parachuting. When you’re parachuting and falling towards the ground, everything around you has to be loaded, because we can’t predict where you will go. Instead of having to only load three squares in front of you, an area of 3×3 squares around you will have to be loaded. With PBLS, this system intuitively decides where in that 3×3 area to load first, to improve rendering times in the area where you’re going to land.

As you all know, there are often problems with rendering happening too slowly when driving vehicles, where buildings can suddenly appear in front of you, or you can get stuck inside a building which didn’t appear to be there previously. We have a level streaming system (separate from our prediction-based system) which is used while on the ground specifically, this system will load resources that you’re heading towards and instantly dump resources far behind you to improve performance. When travelling at high speeds, rendering can often not happen quickly enough, and we’re working to improve this system.

We’ll be making adjustments to level-streaming, further taking into account vehicle speed to improve the process of rendering resources you want to see and dumping those that are no longer needed.

For both our predictive and regular level-streaming systems, our engineers will be making improvements each patch to improve their efficiency and improve rendering times, after analyzing data from the patch cycle.

Server Performance – At the start of each match, the server is under the most stress due to having to keep track of 100 players all at once. We’ve recently applied some network improvements to the PC servers to help alleviate some early game load and we’re working to push these optimizations to Xbox as soon as possible, once they’re proven to be stable.

We’re constantly working on improving server performance, this is an ongoing process.

Vehicles – There are many bumps and sharp terrain geometry around the maps which can cause vehicles to explode in situations you wouldn’t expect and this is, obviously, extremely frustrating. We’re working to smooth out the terrain on all maps and reduce instances of these frustrating situations.

We expect to push some of these improvements later in June.

Other important issues we’re investigating – This list doesn’t include all issues we’re investigating, but these are some of issues being discussed the most:

1. Player teleports to a different location after vaulting

2. Match not ending, as the game believes another player is still alive, even though you cannot see anyone else in the final circle

3. Vehicles flipping or exploding for seemingly no reason

4. GameHub stats not updating – This will be fixed in the next patch. All of these stats have been tracked since the May update, but just haven’t yet been reflected in the GameHub. GameHub stats will not be restored instantly, but over time. Once the patch goes live, we’ll keep you updated through the process.

While we work to fix these bugs, optimization and stability are still our top priorities. We have different teams who work on different aspects of development, based on their skill sets and experience.

We will continue to address bugs, while improving performance and stability.