Review

Death Fungeon - Steam Review (PC)

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A REVIEW BY IAN CHANDLER

Death Fungeon by Ritual Games is the latest 8-bit style puzzle platformer that has elements of classics like Super Meat Boy and Prince of Persia and combines them into a £1.99 little packet of fun(geon).

There’s not a story as such, it just plonks your little mediaeval sprite in a seemingly endless dungeon and challenges you to jump and puzzle your way out. You have no weapons, spells or gimmicks, this is purely about your running and jumping abilities as a player.

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The action takes place flick-screen style, with ladders and platforms for you to traverse. It starts you off easy, and introduces the challenges at a good and steady pace. There’s infinite lives, no time limits and when you die it starts you back at the beginning of the same screen you died on. The game also auto saves each screen you enter so you can leave and come back and not lose any progress. This makes an ideal game to play in short bursts, and also makes you want to keep coming back to see just how much further you can get.

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The puzzles in the game often revolve around getting past the large ogre-like guards. They have 4 stages of alertness, from asleep to running around angrily, which is heralded by the blowing of a suitably mediaeval horn. There are large cauldrons for you to hide in, but these only work when the guards are not alerted. Later hazards include the usual spiked pits and walls, circular saws and lava pits, with trampolines joining the ladders and ledgers to enable you to get around.

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The graphics are nice and colourful, and even though you are in a dungeon there’s enough variety for it not to look too samey. Music is just one tune on repeat but you can always turn it off in the menu. The controls are tight, and when playing on a joypad I experienced no issues, which is vital for a game often requiring precision jumps and quick changes in direction.

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This game is an unashamed basic platformer with bright colourful graphics, tight controls and solid gameplay. It’s not exactly original, but is a great flashback for those of us old farts who remember when 8-bit was new, yet challenging and fun for those who wouldn’t know a Commodore from a commode.

- Ian

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Death Fungeon was provided for an unbiased review, all views expressed are those of BlastProcess.com

DOGOS Review (PS4)

DOGOS

A review by Tom Parry

 

I have never played a game like Dogos, I’ve played similar things but never an overhead shooter with the kind of explorative freedom that this game has, and for the most part it’s a rather impressive and enjoyable game.

You are Desmond and your task is to wipe-out the evil alien Zeetnuk forces through a series of 14 objective based missions. The nature of these missions, at their core, involve shooting everything in sight in your rather nimble spacecraft. You have various weapons at your disposal, ranging from a laser to take down airborne enemies to various bombing weapons to take down ground targets. You also gain access to some more powerful Special weapons, such as Homing Missiles and the super powerful Mega Bomb, a personal favourite.

Your foes, The Zeetnuk, are resourceful sorts and you’ll find yourself having to take down their various small spacecraft and more deadly heavier airborne forces as well as ground targets including tanks, boats and some particularly vicious gun turrets who take great pleasure in harassing you with homing missiles.

This may all be sounding rather familiar but what makes Dogos unique is that the game isn’t on-rails (at least for the most part, but we’ll come to that later). The player has the freedom to explore a rather large terrain and can call on a map to find their next objective. Most of the time, especially at the beginning of the game your waypoints are clearly marked on the map so it’s just a case of flying to the next objective although later on, especially in the last 3 missions a little more exploration must be done to find your next objective, Dogos does a great job of never letting the player get too lost either with some friendly level design.

The mission objectives in Dogos vary, but for the most part involve bombing the Neetnuk’s nefarious facilities, usually taking down shield generators or reactors in order to eventually take down a bigger foe. Some of the larger foes in the game include a large battleship and an armoured, heavily weaponised train.

Movement is a twin-stick affair; the left stick is your throttle while the right stick turns your ship. This works well in practice and allows you to easily weave your way around the enemy’s hail of laser fire with ease.

As the game progresses it introduces some rather tricky obstacles, such as beam doors, which flash on and off giving you a small opportunity to fly through, only to be faced with a series of even trickier barriers. There’s plenty of this close quarters beam dodging, which can be frustrating at times, especially as you manage the ships momentum (it never stops dead when you want it too). However, you will gain improved control of your ship as you play, rewarding practice and patience, and while Dogos may seem harsh in places, it is always fair. It’s certainly an accessible game and frequent checkpoints really help levitate the game’s more frustrating challenges.

Dogos occasionally shakes things up with high speed ‘on-rails’ sections where you have to pilot your craft through a dangerous series of canyons or tight corridors, sometimes while bombarded by various other obstacles that appear in your path. These sections are few and far between and while they give the game a much needed sense of speed (a boost button would be a nice to have), they are sometimes frustrating and often feel unnecessary. Later forced on-rails sections seem to delight in throwing obstacles in front of you with little notice, giving the player a fraction of a second to react. With a bit of patience, you’ll make it through these sections but they can be frustrating and the sudden change of pace can also be a little jarring.

There is no doubt that the core shooting mechanics of Dogos are very enjoyable though and there’s a variety of weapons to unlock too as you progress in the game. These can give you a nice tactical advantage in places. Once you get the ‘Spitfire’ laser and Cluster Bombs though, you have a winning combination.

The game even attempts at having a narrative that can be followed by listening to Desmond narrate his Diary between levels, it’s a rather simple story with little depth or deep explanation but what it succeeds in doing is giving the player a motive for destroying the game’s hordes of enemies.

Desmond sounds like a man who has little hope and his narration is delivered in a suitably appropriate manner. It’s a nice little touch, as is the dialogue Desmond has with his ally, Europa during the game’s missions, which peppers the game with a touch of humanity. Having said that these sections could be better implemented and cut scenes would greatly enhance the proceedings.

As mentioned previously, the game is spread across 14 levels, which include a good variety of locales, from the distinct desert canyons of the first couple of levels, to volcanic caves, tropical stormy seas then eventually into the inner workings of a Zeetnuk spacecraft where you take down the game’s final boss.

The game doesn’t really excel in boss battles sadly though and there’s a feeling that it could do with a few more, at least a little more variety would be nice (you fight the rather underwhelming ‘Goliath’ a total of three times during the games final missions). What is here though is satisfying enough, plenty of projectile dodging ensues but the bosses do have a bad habit of overstaying their welcome and occasionally go on for what feels like an age. A life bar would be a welcome addition for sure.

Worthy of note are the game’s graphics, this is a nice looking game for sure, not only from a graphical standpoint but from a design standpoint also. All the vehicles in the game have their own distinct personalities and everything on screen is very easy on the eyes.

The game’s colour palette is refreshingly bright and while the graphics are certainly of this generation they also have a retro throwback feel, provoking nostalgic memories of the bygone Amiga era.

Musically Dogos is rather underwhelming, the game has a limited soundtrack comprising of a handful of tracks that are re-used far too frequently and often don’t represent the fast paced nature of what’s going on in the game most of the time. A more dynamic soundtrack would help elevate the game’s atmosphere immensely. While some of the tracks are fairly enjoyable to listen to they don’t change up enough when needed and sadly, Dogos ends up feeling flat in the music department for the most part.

In summary, Dogos does a lot of things very well. It has great graphics, satisfying finely tuned controls and nice level design but falls flat in other areas like sound, variety and overall presentation and wow-factor. The frustrating thing about Dogos is it’s almost all there, just the pieces aren’t meshing together as well as they could be, with a few more varied mission objectives, a more dynamic soundtrack, better boss battles and overall greater coherence and polished presentation Dogos would certainly be 'Top Dog'. As it stands though Dogos is a solidly crafted shooter which offers up a refreshing change of pace when compared to other games of its ilk.

I strongly recommend that you give Dogos a go. It provides a rewarding, unique and accessible shooting experience that has some nice challenge, it’s a good length too, providing about 6 hours gameplay to complete the main story and then an incentive to play though the levels again to complete extra challenges.

What I really hope is that enough people try this game to encourage a sequel, as I feel it wouldn’t take a lot more to make this game a top drawer title.

DOGOS is available NOW (Sept 6) for download on PS4 and from Sept 7. for download on XBOXONE and STEAM platforms.

Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviours Review

The 1990’s were a magical place for video game lovers. The 16-bit generation ushered in an era of seeming arcade perfect ports of some of the greatest games of all time. For a fan of Shooters, it meant that finally games like R-type, Gradius and Darius were finally able to be played in the comfort of your own home. All for the low, low price of around £50 a cart! Imagine that! No more trips to the arcade to throw your hard earned 20 pence pieces into arcade slots, you could play through the game’s 5 or 6 stages without every having to pay again to continue! 

If you managed to get a copy of one of these gems for Christmas or a birthday, then it was certainly a good time to be alive.

Unfortunately, times changed. We experienced the rise of 3D Graphics, the arcades died and with them, the Shmup declined in popularity. Fans of the Vic Viper and the Silver Hawk were forced to pay ridiculous import charges for Japanese only releases, cry over articles detailing Japan’s still bustling arcade scene, all between hunting high and low for the few games that got a European localisation.

Then slowly but surely, the increased presence of digital distribution allowed the shooter to finally find a way to reach the West. A lot of these titles were priced to move, with games like Radiant Silver Gun & Ikaruga coming in hot at a bargain basement cost of around a tenner. Again, it was good time to be a gamer. 

However, it is the issue of price that has skewed the view of the modern gamer and when Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviours’ price was announced for the PS4, Vita and PC, the casual player of the Shmup cried fowl. I’m here to tell you that you can put down your torches and pitchfork, because if there’s one game in this current era of broken releases and lazy ports worth paying the entry price for, then it’s this one.

Some will already be familiar with the Darius series, Taito’s classic arcade game famed for it’s shooting of space fish and it’s behemoth arcade cabinets with dual monitors. Others will know the cries of Warning a huge battleship is approaching under the name of Sagaia, a title given to some titles here in The West. But regardless of what you’re used to calling it, know the Darius name’s promise of high octane shooting and giant bosses are the core of Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviour.

The Dariusburst series started life on the PSP, before migrating to the arcade in Dariusburst: Another Chronicle. While there have been subsequent arcade releases and even a mobile title called Dariusburst Second Prologue, Dariusburst: CS is the first of the games to receive a home console release. The burst mentioned in the title is a reference to one of the core gameplay mechanics, as the score-attack nature of a shooter encourages players to shoot as many enemies as possible. In doing so, the player builds a burst meter, which can be unleashed at any time to cause devastating damage to enemies.

What’s most surprising about this release is it’s actually two games in one, as for the cost of entry players will get to experience not only the exclusive CS mode, but also a version of the pre-mentioned Dariusburst: Another Chronicle, called AC mode.

CS Mode sees the player playing through a Darius campaign with branching paths of progression. In my time with the game, I experienced a surpassingly amount of variety here. While the various stages naturally re-use the impressively large selection of ships and backgrounds, developer Pyramid have gone to great lengths in order to ensure that CS Modes 200 levels don’t get incredibly repetitive. They achieve this in a number of interesting ways, from simple variants in your ships set up, to removing power ups and limiting clear times. 

CS mode also will have you focusing on your score, as points mean prizes! After clearing a stage, players are awarded with points based on their score, that can be spent on various customisable ships from the Darius series. Each of these ships has a can be customised to the player’s choosing and can really give you the edge in some of the later levels.

Naturally, the game’s bosses are the series’ biggest draw. While classic enemies appear with a new lick of paint like King Fossil and Great Thing, the game is packed with new crustaceans to conquer and bigger fish to fry. These new entries not only tap into the classic shooter formula of pattern memorisation, but some even tap into the genre’s evolution and go a little bullet hell. Brightly Stare stands out as a particular highlight of my time with the game, and feels like one of the most unique boss fights I’ve had in a shooter since the SNES.

It’s also worth noting that there is also a Darius Odyssey mode, which lets you see a large variety of the games artwork, including the bosses with no unlocking required, however it’s unfortunately not translated from Japanese.

There is a story tying all of these levels together, but as it’s little more than a few lines text on screen, it didn’t immerse me at all. The game’s music however is another story, as it covers such a large variety of genres, it’s going to have something for everyone. From electronica, to J-pop to Akira-like chanting between levels, it’s really an eclectic mix of song choices, but it surprisingly works well with the game.

However, where the game’s true value shines through in it’s AC mode. On starting the game, the player is assigned to a cabinet. The more the player plays the cabinet, the more levels are unlocked for the rest of the community. This idea of working together is something that was originally in the arcade release, where arcades across Japan worked together to unlock the games mind boggling high, 3,000 unique levels. The game also features up to 4 player co-op play, which can be a little overwhelming at times when the screen is jam packed with enemies, but provides a truly exciting experience that I’d never had with a console Shmup before.

Unfortunately as attractive as an offering as this is, AC mode isn’t without it’s issues. For starters, the community driven nature of why a player is assigned to a cabinet isn’t really explained at all from the get go. The game also shows both of monitors from the arcade screen at once, making the home experience feel like it’s in widescreen. This especially feels like an issue while playing co-op, as it becomes very hard to see.

Also once in the cabinet, it seems the only way to get out is to close the game and reopen it, as any button press I could think of only led me to the top line of the cabinet’s menus and not the title screen. If this is the case, then it should be fixed as soon as possible, as while it isn’t a huge hassle, the potential to turn off players to cabinet mode is high. It also

All in all however, Dariusburst: CS is solid experience that certainly warrants its price tag. While it may seem costly, the game offers a lot of variety and will provide hours of entertainment for even the most casual of Shooter fans. There is an incredibly surprising amount of depth of offer, with it’s level structure seemingly able to facilitate not only those looking for a hardcore shooter to pour hours into, but also those looking for a casual time killer. If you’re looking for a shooter experience to get you through the holidays and most of the following year, you don’t have to look any further than Dariusburst: Chronicle Saviour. While a lot may have changed since the 90’s, the game is living proof that a strong shooter still makes for an incredible experience.

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You can download the game through Steam, right here.

This review was written by Mat and you can catch up with him on his weekly podcast!

Until Dawn - Every action has terrifying consequences

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Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?

Will saying something now spark a heated argument in an hours time?

Can one tiny action ultimately lead to a horrific series of deaths?

The Butterfly Effect, as explained by everyone's favourite chaotician Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, is the concept that each and every action and decision you make can have massive repercussions via a chain of events that you could not have possibly seen at the moment of action. The Butterfly Effect is the driving force behind Supermassive Games' terrifying horror story Until Dawn

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A year after a cruel teenage prank went horrifically wrong, 8 friends end up spending the night at the scene of the tragedy - a remote cabin in the mountains. When things take a turn for the worst, they are left frantically fighting for their lives and hoping to survive until dawn...

I don't want to give away too much about the plot, as it really is one of those games that you need to play with as little prior knowledge as you can. Needless to say, if you are a fan of horror films then you will enjoy the ride. Influences touch on everything from Saw to Scream and even The Descent paired with a finely crafted atmosphere and sense of dread. Jump scares will cause your heart to jump out of your chest, but it's the tangible terror around every shadowy corner and that makes you want to hold your breath and steel yourself for what is to come.

Regulars will know that I'm a huge fan of horror games, and I rank Outlast as one of my favourite games this generation, but Until Dawn is probably one of the scariest games I have played for a long time!

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Suermassive have done excellent things with this PS4 exclusive, the facial animations in particular are phenomenal! While still not completely lifelike, at times they get very close - and the uncanny valley effect of these computer drawn emotions pays off in particular with the character of Doctor Hill, a psychiatrist who periodically probes your mental state throughout the cause of the game. Equal parts creepy and intriguing, he has probably the best facial animation I've seen in a game.

The score is also great, with strings jangling the nerves and adding to the whole interactive movie experience. It hits the beats perfectly and manages to replicate the kinds of soundtracks heard in the films this game drawns so many of its ideas from.

Voice acting is mostly top notch, a few misses but the majority of the cast (Including Hayden Panettiere from Heroes and Brett Dalton from Marvel's Agents of Shield) manage to tap into the slasher movie genre and create characters that seem realistic, some likable, some you just want to punch in the face. This mix of character types creates some of the difficult choices created by the Butterfly Effect System

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What could have been a retread of the type of gameplay seen is Heavy Rain is given more substance through the much hyped Butterfly Effect System. The game will track what decisions and choices you make over the course of the game, and each of these will play out differently depending on what you do. Do you follow a path cautiously taking the safe route rather than rushing ahead blinding? Do you sneak a peak at someone else's phone? Do you sacrifice your life to save someone else? Would you kill a friend in order to save another? These are all choices you will have to make and will all alter the story that unfolds.

On my playthrough I managed to finish the game with 5 of the initial 8 friends alive. Not a great run through but each agonizing decision made me want to save them all, even those who annoyed me, and felt genuine regret when I made the wrong choice! It's like having to face one of Jigsaw's games, and sadistically you will want to carry on to see it through to its conclusion. Next time I'm going to try and save them all, next time I wont make the same mistakes! While not the longest game in the world, clocking in at about 10 hours, it does have lots of replayability to try and see each and every possible outcome and find all of the hidden clues. I genuinely believe that each person who plays this will do things different and get a unique experience. Each chapter consists of an hour of the companions night, playing out between different characters until that hour is over. These are preceded by TV Series style "Last time on Until Dawn" segments that keep you up to date with what decisions have been made so far.

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If you have a PS4 and are a fan of horror then you really need to pick this game up! I finished it in two sittings, with the game drawing me into its world as the hours flew by, and at the end of it I already wanted to go digging into other corners to see what was down paths of fate i didn't take. Yes, it is QTE and talking heavy, and its probably more an interactive story than a true game, and this is something that will not appeal to everyone, but it is something that has to be experienced! I give it a spooky Buy it Now award!

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Until Dawn by Supermassive Games is out now for PS4

MEGA MAY! Gameboyle Reviews

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 4.43.31 PM It's been an exciting month of reviews over at Gameboyle. For those not familiar with the YouTube Channel it's the work of our very own Mathew Boyle, yes he of Blast Process's Tom and Mat Attack podcast.

Every week Mat reviews a game from the Game Boy's massive back catalog as he continues towards his goal of owning every game in the console's library. Rather him than me!

Check out the videos below to see what Mat's been up to this month, a rather lovely overview of all the core Mega Man titles released for the original Game Boy. Enjoy!

Mega Man: Dr Wiley's Revenge:

It's a portable Megaman! Yes, all the joy of Capcom's Blue Bomber on the Gameboy. Does this game measure up to it's NES forerunners? Is it balls to the walls hard? What's the boss order? All will be revealed...

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLHW_8t1W7I[/embed]

Mega Man 2:

Mega Man II seems to be universally regarded as the worst of the Mega Man titles on the Nintendo Gameboy. A sentiment even shared by Mega Man's creator, Keiji Inafune. Is it really as bad as the internet would have you believe?

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06vQW1dhEkU[/embed]

Mega Man 3:

Leaping into Mega May comes Mega Man III! With the reins of the Blue Bomber's handheld campaign back in the hands of Minakuchi Engineering, Mega Man III cranks the difficulty back the to legendary status of it's NES counter parts. However, is this a fun experience on the Game Boy?

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw2UBws20ow[/embed]

Mega Man 4:

Rocking on with Mega May has brought us to Mega Man VI! Minakuchi Engineering's hotly contested entry for best Mega Man game in the entire run on the Nintendo Gameboy. Is it all Rock-Man-Roll? Or a complete Mega Bust?

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbSUVIYK0nM[/embed]

Mega Man 5:

We wrap up Mega May with the last in the Game Boy series, Mega Man V! Minakuchi Engineering's last handheld entry into the series, but perhaps also their best. With new characters, ideas and the classic gameplay formula, how could it not be?

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0rg4p6XWYA[/embed]

You can check out the rest of Mat's reviews at the Gameboyle YouTube channel, which you can get to by following the handy link below:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOIH-vSY5dondxnPMT7QdDA

Keebles Review

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keebles logo Welcome to the world of Keebles; a fun and addictive physics-based puzzle game, Keebles you say? Yes, Keebles; these small but cute creatures need your help, and something to do with a whale! Need I say more?

The idea of the game is to create a vehicle that will carry your 'Bobble' around the level, upon touching a Keeble it will jump aboard your vehicle, taking them to safety at the end of each level and in return you'll earn a Star rating out of 5. This rating will depend on how many Keebles you rescue, time taken to do so and parts used to build the vehicle.

Let's Play Keebles GAMEPLAY - Part 1

Now onto the workshop where you begin to create your master plan to save all the Keebles, well at least try (thinking caps required). Design, alter, improve the 3 simple steps into saving them all. The workshop itself is very straight forward, within 10 minutes and a few clicks, you'll be creating a whole bunch of creative vehicles to help save the Keebles. Now as the game is physics based, a lot of trial and error is needed but thankfully the game has zero loads times so switching between the levels, restarting or heading back to the Workshop is only a button press.

Let's Play Keebles GAMEPLAY - Part 4 | 5 Stars Level 5 Perfect Run

The game displays clean and nice looking graphics with a soundtrack that will keep you calm despite the occasional frustration, but thats the whole enjoyment of Keebles. You'll look forward to seeing your vehicle move through the levels or fly in my case. Picking up new tools like parachutes, faster wheels and rockets as you progress, a new challenge is always ahead. It's just down to your imagination to create the perfect vehicle to do the job.

So much fun is to be had with Keebles, you've just got to create it and let the good times roll.

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Developed by Burnt Fuse and released March 27th on Steam for £6.99, better yet with Greenman Gaming you can receive a 20% discount with a pre-purchase and 4 extra games free of charge.

 

Eurogamer Review Shakeup

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So Eurogamer has finally dropped their numerical scoring system.I won't be the first to say -it's about time! It's subjective (as all rating systems) but it's down to an individual's meaning of 4/5 or 2/5. To me 4/5 should be almost flawless, to others it just means pretty good. Ratings like that have never effected my game buying; if I want to get the game, I'm going to get it, regardless of some numbers that no two websites or magazines will ever agree on. Joystiq last month also threw in the towel on number rating systems for the same reasons and we may see over the next few months more review websites dropping the numbers as it swiftly loses reliability.

What I want to know is: should I buy it?

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Eurogamer have upturned their number system to Recommended, Essential, Avoid. This seems much more relatable to me, I just want to know if it's worth my time and money, and if I'm told to avoid it- chances are I'm going to give it a miss (unless I'm being stubborn!) There are so many peices of a gaming puzzle, graphics, gameplay, network issues: all things that need to be considered, but who's to say graphics are more important than gameplay (have you seen Minecraft? We love it) and for others trouble with online play isn't an issue, because that's not important to them. All of these can be reviewed but numbers isn't going to cut it.

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Here at Blast Process we've tried to avoid number systems, there was no way we would ever really agree what a 3/5 is. I've used a couple in the past to measure addictiveness, but it really didn't feel right so I stopped pretty quick. Our system is based on whether we want to play it or not! We tell you if it's a Buy It, Not Buy It or if we really love it- Blast Process Award! Free download games we are hopefully going to tackle a little differently, with Download or Don't Download (just to keep things extra simple).

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Eurogamer has stopped reviewing games before they're officially finished - and to me that's a massive shame, being involved with reviewing a game whilst developers are still tweaking it is a huge opportunity. They're also leaving Metacritic behind, saying it wouldn't make sense within their new system to try and fit it into 100 point scoring system, which makes perfect sense, they would just be making it up on Eurogamer's behalf.

So we will just have to see if it sparks a trend of reviewing shake ups across the gaming world...

Over and out

Mel

Guardians of the Galaxy - Out of this world!

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XXX GUARDIANS-GALAXY-MOV-JY-0704.JPG A ENT It's not just videogames old and new that we love at Blast Process! Many of the team are also avid comic book geeks, and it's no exaggeration that at a few of us were rather excited for the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe...

Guardians of the Galaxy, based on the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning 2008 reboot of the team, was always going to be a risky sell for Marvel. Only the hardcore fans know of the comics, and isn't as iconic as Captain America or Hulk - However the same could be said for Iron Man before the first film, and we all know how that turned out! Still, without the draw of well known characters a few feared that this could be a flop compared to the rather excellent collection of films so far.

Thankfully, Guardians of the Galaxy is a fantastic addition to the series, and frankly my favourite one so far, even eclipsing the nerdgasm that is Avengers Assemble! For a world tiring from superhero overload, Guardians mixes things up by taking us on an action packed sci-fi comedy epic with an awesome 70's soundtrack!

Rather than a band of infallible heroes, the Guardians are a bunch of losers and outcasts. First up we have Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) a Han Solo style smuggler and pirate who calls himself Star-Lord whilst sleezing his way through the female population of the galaxy while listening to his mixtape of 70's hits. Next we have Gamora (Zoe Saldana) assassin and daughter of the mad titan Thanos, she's a bad-ass warrior who is out to avenge for everything her father has done. The subtly named Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) is the muscle of the team a mighty warrior who has no sense of metaphor - in his own words, nothing goes over his head, his reflexes are too quick!

Finally we come to the true stars of the film, Rocket - a genetically engineered talking homicidal raccoon-thing mercenary voiced by Bradley Cooper who shows that a wisecracking CGI character can be so much more than Jar-Jar Binks! His sidekick Groot is a giant walking tree that can only say "I am Groot", hilariously played by Vin Diesel! Groot steals every single scene he is in, somehow managing his low vocabulary not become tedious over the run of the film.

The film expands on what has happened so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe regarding the Infinity Stones and sets things up for the people who want to obtain them...

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most enjoyable films I have seen in a long time, and had a stupid grin pasted across my face for the duration - from the hilarious script to the fantastic soundtrack (Seriously, go and buy it now - its that good!) It left me wanting to spend more time with the characters, I promptly pre-ordered the Blu-ray and started counting down the days until the squeal is out!

Guardians is everything that I want the new Star Wars films to be, and it certainly does a better job of crafting a sci-fi world with a lighthearted swashbuckling vibe than episodes 1-3 did. Episode 7 is going to have to pull something pretty special out of the bag to top what Marvel have put out with this film!

Finally I want to mention briefly the post credits scene, so if you don't want it spoiled before you see it make sure you close this page now...

... Still with us? Ok, last spoiler warning!

The post credit scene shows The Collector being licked by a dog in a space suit (most probably Cosmo, a dog sent into space by the soviets who also happens to have telekinetic powers!) and then being given grief by non other than Howard the Duck! Howard-the-Duck-01-00-FC

After the fairly horrific Lucas film, most people never expected to see Howard again, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - this post credits scene opens the door for things even stranger than Rocket and Groot!

Go out and see Guardians of the Galaxy now! You will not regret it! Now excuse me while I get in line for Avengers: Age of Ultron...

Transistor Review

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People will undoubtedly remember the Xbox 360 as the machine that got online gaming right. Gamers of tomorrow will talk about Gears of War rodeo runs, late night sessions of Firefight in Halo, and the time their console red ring of death’d just as they were about to get through Modern Warfare on Veteran. It is the console that brought the first person shooter to the consoling masses, stole Sony’s killers apps and for better or worse, achievement points.

For me however, the Xbox 360 will always be the console on which I played Bastion.

Released in 2011 by Supergiant Games, Bastion was an Action Role-Playing Game that featured a solid combat system, unique narration point and a stunning world that formed around the player’s very eyes. Bastion took the best of both Western and Japanese RPGs, put them in a blender and out came a dynamic combat system, an isometric perspective and enough charm to see it win and receive nominations for many coveted awards.

Almost 3 years later, on May 20th 2014 Supergiant Games released their Sophomore effort, Transistor on Sony’s Playstation 4 and Steam. Would this be the arrival of a soon to be revered RPG?

Transistor sees the player take the role of Red, a famous musician from the city of Cloudbank, who has been robbed of her voice by a mysterious organisation known as The Camerata. Armed with the eponymous Transistor, Red must fight her way through the city of Cloudbank, defeating The Camerata’s robotic forces known as The Process, in order to find answers and seek justice.

The game’s narrative is however, somewhat of a fragmented mess. While a large chunk of the game’s story is narrated to the player by The Transistor, this will only reveal the surface of the game’s plot. To understand the game’s story to the fullest it allows you will require scouring the city of Cloudbank for Terminals, viewpoints and using the game’s combat mechanics to their fullest.

While it can be argued that this really encourages exploration of both the game’s world and it’s possibilities of play, it may leave a player in search of more casual experience at a bit of a loss as to what is going on. Though what may frustrated the more dedicated player, is that even after putting in the extra time to discover these scraps of narrative, there are still some questions left unanswered or open to personal interpretation.

This is not to say that the game does not have a story to tell however, and while Red herself is a slant on a stereotypical silent protagonist, the game is certainly heartfelt. The juxtaposition of a silence singer with a talking sword also offers an interesting dynamic, similar to the narrator in Bastion over it’s lead character, The Kid, meaning the game never slows down it’s pace for stories sake.

As you would expect after Bastion, Transistor is a visual delight. The city of Cloudbank feels lived in because of the attention to detail in it’s visual design. Cloudbank is a Cyber-Punk utopia that at times seems to draw inspiration from Blade Runner’s futuristic Los Angeles and even Final Fantasy 7’s Midgar. Though this feeling of beauty comes with a cost. Despite it’s wonderful rendering, the level design feels slightly linear in it’s approach. While the game called out to be explored, there are not many reasons or options available to do so. Most of the more hidden terminals require simply trekking past an exit or just a little further around a corner, which while it scratches the itch for explorations that RPG players crave, it feels like a wasted opportunity.

However, despite these shortcomings, Transistor’s combat system is a thing of beauty. Using ‘Functions’ the player is able to customise their fight style how they see fit. There are multiple melees, ranged and burst attacks, as well as Functions such as ‘Help()’ which allows you to call upon a dog to aid you in combat. While this may seem straightforward enough and one function be equipped to each of the shape buttons on the controller, the real depth begins to surface when the player unlocks the ability to upgrade other functions with functions, but also to have ‘passive’ functions active, which effect all of your arsenal. Suffice to say, that by the time new game plus roles around, Red is somewhat of God with the correct functions in place, which feels rather rewarding.

Just like with the Narrative, there isn’t much explanation on the combat system, and Supergiant treat the gamer like an adult, letting them figure out these things for themselves, which adds a level of personal satisfaction in figuring out how to stack functions to the best effect. You are only limited by Red’s ‘Memory’, which act as her skill points for functions. These functions can be swapped in and out from the game’s numerous save points, meaning experimentation is encouraged as painlessly as possible.

The combat itself can be customised further and either played like it’s predecessor in real time, or strategically with it’s ‘turn’ system, which allows you to plot the course of a turn like a strategy RPG, you can move around the battlefield, deal massive damage and avoid enemies, but as ‘turn’ suggests, you are left powerless until the turn bar refills. The ability to change this on the fly really helps to make Transistor an enjoyable experience, allowing you to change from aggressive to strategic at the press of the ‘R2’ button, without any hassle from menus or settings.

Another winning aspect of Transistor’s combat is that when Red dies, the player is not presented with a game over screen, but simply loses on of the player’s functions for a limited amount of time, meaning the tables can still be turned, but with a less powerful arsenal, resulting in teaching the player caution and patience are the keys to succeeding.

While enemies come in all shapes and sizes, all with unique functions and attack patterns of their own, there is a substantial degree of pallet swapping going on. While it’s perhaps not noticeable first time through, this means the enjoyment of the New Game + can be slightly hindered by a lack of variety in enemies, meaning the end game enemies spawn by the dozen rather than sparingly as they did on the first shot. It is also by mixing and matching these functions in various forms that more of the story is revelled to the player in a similar way to reading Dark Soul’s item descriptions, enriching the experience.

There is also the option at any time to add a ‘limiter’ to the game, which acts similarly to Idols in Bastion. Equipping these limiters can do anything from limiting Red’s memory to making enemies hit twice as hard. Playing with all 10 activated might test your ability to play the game, but rest assured it will mean a lot of retries.

Similar to Bastion’s Proving Grounds, there are also many tests the player can try to unlock music from the game’s excellent score. Away from the game’s main area, player’s can explore the practice test to hone your Functions as well as several to challenge you. The speed test to kill enemies within a time limit, Performance test’s your combat abilities with limited Functions, while Agency sees you face off against something else all together.

Another of the game’s highlights is it’s score. Darren Korb and vocalist Ashley Barrett really make the game. Each number creates an ambience that sets the emotional tone for Transistor beat for beat, With such a rich variety of instrumental and vocal tracks, such as the launch trailer’s ‘All become One’, it will be fantastic to see what Korb achieves next time around. Barrett’s humming to this score creates not only creates a haunting atmosphere, but gives Red an emotional side that a voiceless protagonist would otherwise be lacking. Without speaking a line, Barrett allows Red to say more than words ever could.

Transistor is solid game that asides from a few short comings, supersedes Bastion and many of the game’s spiritual predecessors. It’s innovative battles, beautiful visuals and simply breathtaking score are something any fan of Action RPGs should be clambering to experience.  While more casual players may be put off by it’s seemingly sporadic storytelling, it’s important to know that it doesn’t detract from the fun of the game. While more experienced players may want to know going in, there are a lot of blanks to fill in themselves or on message boards. Overall, clocking in at around 5 hours for a single play-though, Transistor will leave you begging for more and perhaps a little emotionally engaged, which when considering the genre’s past, is perhaps more than we could have hoped for. But it’s a little sad knowing that with a pinch more narrative and a little more exploration to bring the game unto the bar raised by it’s combat, this game would be flawless. It will however leave you excited for the studio’s next title, and until then, I’ll see you in The Country.

Daylight - Randomly Generated Scares!

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736263_10152410249443966_1291647025410780755_o Daylight starts promisingly with a haunting soundtrack which leaves you feeling unsure what lies ahead, though the suspense is destroyed a little bit by the fact it takes a very long time to load. This is no doubt because of the randomly generated maps

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You play as a character called Sarah who awakens in a darkened room, unsure of where you are with a voice telling you that ‘you must succeed’. You have a mobile phone which acts as your map and is primary light source. It appears as though you are in some kind of abandoned building.

Quickly into the game you stumble across some glow sticks which do offer some light and also highlight objects you can interact with. These sticks also show where you have walked so that you can retrace your steps if you need to double back because you have got lost in the labyrinthine corridors. Unfortunately, the glow sticks are entirely pants at lighting the surroundings and offer none of the security of Outlast’s night-vision mode. Even with glow stick in hand, you are stumbling around aimlessly in the dark. Clearly Sarah isn’t the most physical person in the world as she can only carry 4 glow sticks at any one time before her inventory is full. Surely, if you are stuck in an abandoned asylum you would be shoving as many glow sticks as you could into your pockets.

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The objective of the game is very similar to that of Slender, in which you have to find 6 fragments of memories hidden around the stage before you can make your way to the exit. All the while, trying to not be killed by sinister supernatural witches. These will kill you if you look at them too long, not entirely unlike the Slender Man. Your ways of combating these are either running for your life, or igniting a flare which for some reason destroys the paranormal threat. Unfortunately, like the glow sticks you can only carry a limited number of these.

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The levels are randomly generated each time you play which keeps the game fresh on multiple play-throughs. However, this does make the layout of the stages a bit chaotic and without all the charms of Outlast’s lovingly crafted asylum. Another downside to random levels is that the game can get a bit laggy as it is generating the environments at the start of each stage. That is not to say the game isn’t scary, the music and sound design is very well done and there are still jumps a-plenty. It is just lacking that little ‘je ne sais quoi’ that other horror games on the market have. On a second play through we encountered an entire area much different to that of our first play through. This gave the game a distinctly different feel and kept up the tension as we couldn’t head through on auto-pilot. This is one element where the game does beat Outlast, but only if that level generates.

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Interestingly, this is the first game to be released using the brand spanking new Unreal 4 engine. Disappointingly, it is hard to tell the difference between this and a last gen game and it certainly doesn’t use the console to its full potential.

As you are walking though the deserted environment the atmosphere becomes more tense when you hear the distant sound of running feet and the glimpse of a paranormal terror. Strange sounds and unsettling string do make this a creepy game, with strange moans and phones which ring as you pass. It is just a shame that the rest of the game isn’t as polished as the sound design.

The game would be better for the user if you were given a little more illumination. I understand why they wanted the game to be difficult to navigate, however, I do think just a touch more light would allow you to see more of the creepy set pieces. The fact that it has been released so close in time to Outlast means that it can’t avoid any inevitable comparisons to Red Barrel’s fright-fest.

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“What the Hell is this?’ asks Sarah as she walks into a room filled with crazy markings on the walls. She experiences some kind of freaky flash back and is transported to a room with un-nerving photos on the wall. Not to forget the battered teddy which she is clutching in her left hand. No explanation is given, just that this is a key artifact in escaping the terror she is living through. Unfortunately, when holding said bear, you are unable to use glow sticks or flares. This does increase the terror as you are left with minimum vision.

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At points in the game you feel like you are wandering aimlessly as you encounter dead end after dead end with nothing occurring in between.

If you are a fan of horror it’s definitely worth a play. Especially as there is currently a discount for PlayStation plus subscribers, however, in all honesty, your money is better spent on the truly terrifying Outlast and it’s recent expansion, Whistleblower.

Daylight is available on PlayStation 4 for £10.25 (£8.20 for PS+ members)

It is also available for PC on Steam for £11.99

Outlast: Whistleblower – “It’s as scary as HELL!!”

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One of the crazed inmates has a friendly chat... After the spine tingling chills I was left with after completing Outlast, I couldn’t wait to experience the next episode of TERROR from Red Barrels. Out today on PS4 and PC, Whistleblower continues the story begun in Outlast by showing us the events that happened in the lead up to the original game.

I've got a bad feeling about this...

The game is set in the same Mount Massive Asylum. You play as a software engineer, Waylon Park, who is out to expose the sinister goings on of the Murkoff Corporation. The game begins with an email being composed to send to the journalist you play in the original game. However, things quickly spiral out of control and the player is once again left fighting for their life in a mission to escape in one piece!

Hungry?

All the controls are the same so that made it easy to play and navigate my way round the game. It doesn't hold you by the hand like the first game did. This game assumes you know what you are doing. If you've not played Outlast for a while then maybe it would be an idea to re-familiarise yourself with these before you jump into the expansion. The atmosphere is still so tense you could cut it with a discarded rusty scalpel. With a sinister sound track and nerve-wracking sound effects, the sections of the game where there is pure silence are even more un-nerving.

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I survived for 14 minutes before my first death after meeting a stark-bollock naked man carrying what can only be described as a rotary buzz-saw. It's more of the same as Outlast, however, that is not necessarily a bad thing (possibly what the deranged psychiatric doctor ordered)! As I reloaded for take two it went straight to the scene with the aforementioned naked saw man saying "Feed me". I didn't last long. The inmates are much cleverer than last time. When they see you they don't give up. Hiding in the lockers will work, but you have to make sure they don’t see you hide. Many a panicked moment will be spent trembling in a locker unsure of what is happening outside the safety of a closed door.

Safe. For now...

As in the original game you have no weapons whatsoever and you are only armed with the trusty night-vision camcorder. This allows you to see in the pitch black environment, however, it guzzles batteries quicker than a Sega GameGear! You will spend most of your time frantically scrambling around the decrepit asylum searching obsessively for batteries. As the battery light flickers to alert you to its impending death, you are left wondering whether it safer see where you are moving to in the pitch black environment, or save those precious few seconds of illumination for when you might really need them.

I'm sure he is a trained doctor...

There are areas of relative brightness in the game which do break up the oppressive darkness and give you a moment to gather yourself before you next venture into the unknown. Like the first game there are puzzle elements, such as finding the keys to open a set of handcuffs. These must be completed in order to continue further and usually involve a face off with a particularly nasty enemy. These quests are not too challenging but ensure you fully appreciate the game to its potential. These sections are mixed up with some frantic time-based antics too. Don’t want to give anything away, however, these will get your pulse racing!

You wouldn't want to bump into him on a dark night!

As in the original game there are some epic set pieces which have you literally jumping off the chair and screaming like a girl! There are moments in the game which are clearly up there with the legendary dog scene from Resident Evil. Whilst not pushing the PS4 to the level of games such as Infamous, the game still looks great. There are some awesome lighting effects and great atmospheric environments. The night vision in particular really draws you into the game. I can only imagine how terrifying this thing would look on Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus! Hopefully, this is the kind of game that will end up on them when they are finally released.

What could possibly go wrong?

If you want to see a taste of the original game, don’t forget you can still check out Mike and I scaring the crap out of ourselves in out Let’s Play Outlast Video Series!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lMVDPdxn0c

Whistleblower is available now on the PS4 Store at £7.69. It is also available for PC on Steam at £5.99, with the original game being on offer at £5.09.

Titanfall Xbox 360 Review

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When anyone utters the words ‘makers of Call of Duty’ and ‘giant robots’ in the same sentence, it’s only understandable that people get a little bit excited. Say what you will about Activision’s first person shooter franchise, but with a total of over 120 million units sold, Call of Duty’s reach and influence in the sphere of gaming is hard to deny. So large an influence perhaps, that Respawn Entertainment, the EA funded studio founded by Jason West & Vince Zampella, previously of Infinity Ward, must have felt the pressure of the colossal franchise they helped create, weighing down on them from the get go. The hypothetical question must have one day arisen – How do you take on a colossus? The answer seemed to be to simply bring a Titan. If anyone could do it, then who better than Respawn?

It was under the weight of this expectation that Titanfall, Respawn’s new futuristic FPS title hit the markets. The game’s packaging boasts of the title’s 60+ awards at E3, merely a feather in the cap of a game riding high on the shoulders of an aggressive marketing campaign and promised a next generation experience like no other. But after Titanfall’s March 11th release for the Xbox One & PC, reviews were mixed to say the least. Critics expected the second coming of the modern first person shooter, but instead received a competent game that could never live up to, the carefully orchestrated symphony of hysteria-inducing hype that told of it’s coming.

But a month after the games initial release, when the dust has settled and Titanfall finds itself on Microsoft’s Xbox 360, what then? When those expecting the next generation of gaming, have seen the emperor naked of new clothes, can Titanfall be judged solely on its merits as a console first person shooter?

For starters, let us look at Titanfall’s campaign. After promising a single player-like experience in a multiplayer setting, Respawn hit their first hurdle. By making the game online only, Titanfall polarized potential players from the very beginning. While only 18% of players completed Call of Duty Black Ops’ campaign, it is still a very daunting thought not to have a campaign in a full retail title.

To some, the idea of paying full price for a multiplayer game, in a constantly shifting multiplayer environment and especially with a new IP, is a scary thought. What if months down the line, nobody is playing Titanfall online? Then the game has a sell by date, a prospect that alarms most gamers who primarily vote with their wallets.

These grievances aside, what Titanfall offers in terms of a campaign is an ambitious idea, but on the whole will leave gamers wanting. For all its promises of user’s creating their own story, Titanfall’s campaign is simply Halo 4’s Spartan Ops. Small episodic chunks of story, which consist of nothing more than an in-engine cut scene and audio logs played over combat.

As for length, while the campaign is split into two opposing factions, the surprisingly well armed Frontier Militia, and the seeming evil Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation, both of which offer the perspective of each army and their struggles, not a lot changes. Win or lose, the story plods along to its slow and unsatisfactory conclusion. Though the story the game tells isn’t the most fascinating, its absence in the game’s regular multiplayer modes in noticeable, and even though the writing isn't the best, the contextualization of why these armies is fighting, feels strangely gratifying.

While only two of the game’s six multiplayer modes are playable here (Attrition, the game’s Team Deathmatch & Hardpoint, i.e. three point King of the Hill), experiencing them as part of the campaign is arguably more fun than without it.

In the campaign, the player takes the roll of a pilot, the game’s customisable soldier. Here a player experiences the game’s custom load outs and perks, as you would expect from any modern day shooter. However what Titanfall gets right is that like Halo, the weapon’s the player starts with are perfectly capable tools to play the game. The player is not penalized for their newness like in Call of Duty, or their lack of Premium Membership like in Battlefield 4. Even when fighting the game’s titular Titans, players start off with the right gun’s to make scrap metal of the metal mechs with ease, if they have enough skill to use them.

Where Titanfall’s game play differs from most modern FPS games is that in campaign and multiplayer, the player meets not only enemy players but AI with varying levels of skill, all of which gives XP. These AI make the seemingly limited 6 vs 6 experience feel on par with Battlefield 4’s 64 player Multiplayer. But more than simply filling up the numbers, these bots speed up the generation of the game’s selling point but also its biggest missed opportunity: The Titans.

Titans are mobile suits that offer the player further levels of customization of play, more powerful weapons and a personal robot killing machine to boot. Player’s can either pilot these Titans, or simply allow them to roam around the map, AI controlled killing enemy players for you. While Titan’s can be used strategically, using them guard a base in Hardpoint, or roam around covering your back in Attrition, I often found myself letting my Titan simply roam around scoring kills for me, as in an otherwise fast paced, no-nonsense FPS, Titan’s really slow things down. It’s both a blessing and a curse – the Titan’s speed restrictions stop them from being Battlefield’s Tanks and Choppers and dominating infantry, however it also derails what should be the selling point of the game, Titan vs. Titan action. Why would you ride a slow moving, large target into battle, when you can dispatch a Titan more efficiently with basic Anti-Titan weaponry? Especially when wall-running and the traversing of the environment is encouraged as a pilot?

The game’s Multiplayer options outside of campaign are also a mixed bag. While the game touts six modes, as well as Attrition & Hardpoint, there’s Last Titan Standing (a Titan vs. Titan mode which suffers from the pre-mentioned problems), Capture the Flag & Pilot Hunter (Team Deathmatch without AI kills counting).

The sixth mode is called ‘Variety Pack’ and is essentially a mixture of all other game modes. When you consider that Pilot hunter is simply a variant of Attrition, meaning the game only launched with four game types, Titanfall’s cracks start to show.

While there are certainly fun reasons to play Titanfall, and the game’s introduction of mechanics such as burn cards, cards that can be used for one spawn to deal extra damage or gain more XP, are fun, but they aren't essential to the experience. Despite supposedly being in development since 2010, Titanfall almost feels like a Beta game. With limited unlocks, the prospect that game modes that would have otherwise been on disk being included in downloadable content, as well as a seemingly limited lifespan. While there is the possibility of unlocking Generations, the game’s equivalent of prestige, this offers little but bragging rights, and makes Titanfall a great game that feels half cooked.

All promises aside, all hype deflated, Titanfall is the start of what proves to be a great first person shooter franchise. Despite its short comings, it is a strong basis for Respawn to build off of. The mechanics are there, they just need tweaking. The things it’s borrowed from other games, be it Mirrors Edge’s parkour or Left for Dead’s fighting for survival until extraction, are perhaps the right ones. That when combined with solid shooting and balanced weapons, feel new and exciting. While Titanfall doesn't deliver on its promise of a next gen experience like no other, but it’s certainly a fun, highly playable shooter that shows glimmers of greatness.

inFAMOUS Second Son Review

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inFAMOUS Second Son is Sony’s first console exclusive game since launch. It is a game that has been raised high on the hulking shoulders of the Playstation 4. It promises a ‘next gen’ experience that will make the naysayers of this new generation of consoles, part with their hard earned pennies and shell out for Team Sony. But is this game truly the second coming of video gaming? Or like a second child, forced to play with the previous generations hand me down mechanics?

inFAMOUS Second Son follows Delsin Rowe, the titular Second Son, a graffiti artist delinquent, who like most super heroes, has greatness thrust upon him after discovering that he is a Conduit. Conduit is the term given to those in the inFAMOUS universe with powers, though the easiest comparison would be ‘mutant’ from the Marvel universe. Much like Marvel’s X-men series, ‘Conduits’ are treated like outsiders by society, who have labelled them ‘Bio-Terroists’ and assembled a department to track down & capture Conduits called the Department of Unified Protection (or D.U.P).

Despite how clichéd this story may sound, it brings about what is perhaps the most impressive thing about Second Son: the game’s interesting dialogue that actually matches the motion capture beat for beat. Even when characters say lines that sound somewhat forced, the facial expressions exhibited by the character anchors meaning to them, making them not only forgivable, but even believable. 

But even these flourishes of next generation narrative aren’t without their thorns. The game’s characters are interesting, but are painted with such broad strokes of cliché, that their flashback stories sometimes undermine the believability that the actors performances strive so hard to achieve. If the game exhibited a little more show than tell on character motives and histories, Second Son’s story could have raised the bar for storytelling in Triple A titles. 

Instead like a weight lifter with one arm weaker than the other, the game’s storytelling displays a muscular imbalance. Where the stronger arm of the game’s storytelling and facial recognition is ready to push things forward, the weaker arm of convention and its need to impart information on the player quickly holds it back. 

The game’s karma system leaves a lot to be desired however. While it was a key selling point of the original games, it falls into the Fable trap of not having so much impact on the game, other than visual aesthetics and slight changes in dialogue. There is no moral grey in the stories key choices; it’s always a polar opposite ultimatum of good or evil. The game even colour codes these choices, for those who couldn’t tell that ‘turning yourself in’ was the ‘good’ thing to do, over ‘sacrificing your tribe’ making you seem a little bit bastardly. Though perhaps if you’re in need of colour coded assurance of what you’re doing is right or wrong, there are bigger issues for you to tackle.

In terms of game play, short of an impressive representation of Seattle that is close to fully formed, inFAMOUS never really feels more like very well made, late  Playstation 3 title, rather than the next gen opus some had hoped for. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, as the game is fun to play for the most part. Combat is fluid and balanced. Even as the game progresses, you neither feel overpowered or nor completely outgunned, as the game’s Conduit powers offer a way to turn the tide. While these powers are upgradable, apart from the elements their composed of and some small changes to the amount of damage dealt & animation, each new power is based around the idea of a melee & ranged attack, a dash, a powerful attack and a special that can be triggered by using the game’s karma abilities, offering little varieties or reason to switch between powers. 

However, the game requires you learn each of these new powers in turn, forcing you into sticking with each of the individual powers for an extended period, rather than allowing the player to simply revert to an older power until later in the game. By the third power unlock, the ritualistic regaining of each attack after receiving a new power takes a lot of momentum out of the game. The game’s final boss encounter is even bogged down in the tedium, forcing you to play the game how Sucker Punch would like you to, rather than how you feel you should, shattering the illusion of player free will in service of the narrative’s natural conclusion, souring the games conclusion slightly and making it feel a little rushed.

The game also suffers from other minor irritations. NPCs will cheer at you one moment, and then the use of a power will make them freak out and run away. The game also punishes you for careless mistakes in combats very heavy handily. While trying to clear out the city of D.U.P agents to gain fast travel, the player can encounter large parking areas full of enemies. If you’re unfortunate enough to clear the whole building, a good 10 to 15 minutes of work, but get killed by the last, more powerful enemy, you’re sent back to the last checkpoint, sometimes at the other side of the city. It could be argued that this is the game attempting to balance risk vs. reward, but can leave Second Son prey to biggest cardinal sin of gaming: making the player feel like they’re wasting time.

Exploring the city is also a blessing and a curse. Traversing a large city that is fully at your disposal feels as next gen as console gaming has got. Running up walls and bouncing up walls is thrilling, but when mixed with poor climbing mechanics & the inability to swim, Delsin feels a lot less super than he should. 

But it must be noted - standing on top of a tall building and seeing a city move all around you is really a sight to behold. For a second, you could be forgiven in thinking that Second Son’s Seattle wasn’t the real thing.

It’s not until you get down on the street that this is abolished. There’s not the feeling of life a next gen city should have. While cars drive & NPC’s shout random lines of dialogue based on your character’s moral choices, there are no background noise, no fleeting whispers of conversation, and the distinct hum of traffic isn’t there but an occasional car horn, making the game’s Seattle a city without soul. The city is also for the most part, also indestructible. You can’t bring down buildings or destroy walls, other than DUP structures that are removable from the environment once districts are freed, adding to the feeling the city is no more but a sandbox. 

While there is little replay offered rather than freeing the districts, the gimmicky graffiti mini-game or taking part in the 6 part, weekly mission cum transmedia campaign in inFAMOUS Paper Trail, there’s not a lot to keep you coming back on Delsin’s story is done.

While Paper Trail is a fun experiment into using an external device & your own detective skills, to solve a murder both at the console & away from it, these extra missions won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The post-story city is also more for those aiming for trophies than a rewarding end game experience. You could always replay the game from the opposite karmic stance, but this offers less variety than you would expect.

So is inFAMOUS worth playing at all? Absolutely. While this review is perhaps rather scathing of Sucker Punches’ efforts, Second Son is a glimpse at the future. It’s a solid game by the standards set in the last generation that gives Playstation 4 owners a look at things to come. It’s vast open world, fast and enjoyable combat, combined with a competent story & incredible character performances makes Second Son perhaps the truest experience of this console generation so far. It’s problems lie in the expectations of what it means to be a game on a new console, instead of defining them, it only theories at what an Xbox One or Playstation 4 game should be, rather than what one is. 

inFAMOUS is one of the first games of the generation to hint at what’s to come. If you own a PS4 and are curious about Second Son, by all means pick it up. While the game perhaps shouldn’t be the reason for shifting consoles that it undoubtedly will be, it’s undoubtedly Sony’s best offering. But be warned - like the game’s karma system, you need to take the good with the bad. It’s not a flawless experience, but it’s story, cool powers & artificial sense of freedom make inFAMOUS Second Son a game that, at least in this point of the console generation, a worthy addition to your games library.

App Review | Horror Movie Maker

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horror movie maker logo Each Monday we will be taking a look at the iOS app store in search of a hidden tresure to share with you. So why not follow us on our YouTube page and tune in to see what we uncover!

Join Mike and Matt as they test out Horror Movie Maker. A App that lets YOU become a scary and gruesome horror icon or play as the scared victim.

No acting skills required but it'll help!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh-3LRtnELg&w=560&h=315]

You can download the App here. Remember to share you're videos with us!