Thomas Was Alone Announced For PS3 and Vita

London, 27 Feb. 13 – Thomas was alone. Or so he thought. But following a rapturous reception on PC and Mac, Indie Developer and former Bossa Studios lead designer Mike Bithell today announced the release of “Thomas Was Alone” on PlayStation®3 (PS3™) and PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita) in spring 2013, in a deal that sees Bossa Studios partnering with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) and Curve Studios.

Thomas Was Alone is a study in simplicity. A 2D platform-puzzle game that quickly engages and engrosses the player with its charming storyline and art style.

Created by Mike Bithell, voiced by Danny Wallace and with a rousing score by David Housden, Thomas Was Alone launched for PC and Mac in the summer of 2012 to critical acclaim and has built a strong following for the brand and developer Bithell amongst the indie gamer and development community. Following strong sales on Steam, the logical step was for Bithell and Bossa Studios to partner with SCEE in a deal that sees Curve Studios coding the new versions.

Thomas Was Alone will release on PS3 and PS Vita in spring 2013. The game will include a new Director’s commentary and there will be DLC.

Commenting on the partnership, SCEE’s Senior Business Development Manager Shahid Ahmad said “We are delighted to be welcoming Thomas onto our platforms and it has been a huge pleasure to work with such talented developers to bring this unique and charming story to our users. To have such an original indie title available on both PS3 and PS Vita is fantastic, it’s a game with wit and personality and we are sure its arrival on PlayStation platforms will be met with real enthusiasm by our users.”
Curve Studio’s Jason Perkins added: “It’s been very exciting to work with Mike on this project. Thomas is a totally unique game and we’re delighted to be the ones to bring it to a console audience.”

Mike Bithell added, “I am incredibly proud to see Thomas getting a mainstream console release and the guys at Curve Studios are doing an awesome job making this version special. Thomas took over my life for the last two years so it’s great to see it reaching an even wider audience”.

Persona 4 Golden Review

US Vita owners were able to get their hands on Persona 4 Golden last year, Europeans officially had to wait until February 2013. Was the wait worth it?

Yes! Yes it was. Persona 4 Golden is without a shadow of a doubt an instant classic, a true joy to own and play with a huge amount of content that should see you get over 100 hours of gameplay, depending on how much of the world of Inaba you wish to discover. To be honest, it is a game that you’ll never actually want to end.

The game follows you as you arrive to live with the Dojima’s in the quiet town of Inaba. You start a new school as a new mystery starts. A bizarre series of murders forces you and your friends Chie and Yosuke on a mission after Yukiko is launched into the Midnight Channel and her life ends up in danger. The mystery deepens early on and your group is eventually joined by new members the further the story goes.

Initially the game comes across as a simple RPG, as you trawl through the dungeons on the midnight channel, however as veteran Persona players will know, it is much more than that. The game combines RPG style gameplay with a wonderful story and some amazing writing. There are elements of dating sims with the relationship building that is vital to the RPG elements, as well as other areas that help build your character. It all comes together in a way that hasn’t been executed by others games in such a glorious way before.

After an initial opening couple of hours, which are glorified cut-scenes, the game really opens up and give you full control. Yet those opening moments aren’t as dull, or drawn out like some games. It is here the game teaches you the basic layout of the world around you, introduces the game’s main characters and shows off the mechanics, battles systems and the like. In other games veterans would likely be bored of yet another glorified tutorial, but in Persona 4 Golden, it is much more than that. The writing is so well done, that on a second playthrough, or even a third you are happy to sit through again. Much like watching your favourite TV series again and again.

The game is essentially broken into two main areas. One is the Midnight TV channel where much of the ‘action’ takes place. You will battle through various floors of areas within the channel, battling shadows as you progress to your goal. You wander through the floors and rather than random battles just happening, you’ll see the shadows as you move through. Attack them before they see you and you gain an advantage going into battle, however should they see you, then they get the advantage.

Battles are turn based, but never slow moving. You’ll take on all kinds of weird and wonderful monsters, each with strengths and weaknesses. You will use you Personas (more on them later) to battle, utilising their powers to defeats the shadows. Some battles will be over very quickly as you breeze through the enemy, others will become drawn out strategical battles, that require all your attention and knowledge to overcome. At the end of each you are rewarded with money and EXP based on the level of monster you have defeated. Perform well and you can even select bonuses that will give you special skill cards, new personas and much more.

Ah, those Personas! As described by the game, a Persona is a manifestation of one’s true self. It is these Personas which are the key to battle, they are used for the main and most powerful attacks and need to be managed as the game goes on, so you can get the best from them. This can be done either by earning EXP during battles, gaining bonus cards or by gaining and improving social links.

Social Links bring us nicely to the other main area of Persona 4 Golden. Away from battles you will find yourself spending most time at school and interacting with other people around Inaba. Should you have a close enough relationship, you will earn a social link, which can then give bonuses to certain types of Persona, which can either be earned by winning bonus cards in battle, or fused in the Velvet Room.

In many games, the side actions are never as important as the main quest, yet here in Persona the developing of relationships is as vital as actually being in the Midnight Channel. Going for food with friends, joining groups, reading, working, along with others will start and strengthen bonds. As these bonds get stronger, you will earn new ranks which will also earn your Personas new bonuses and powers. Simply ignoring the social aspect of the game and concentrating on the Midnight Channel will see the game end all too soon and likely make battles a frustrating experience later on as you struggle to overcome the shadows. Regardless of added difficulty, you won’t want to ignore the social side, as it is just so damn fun.

Again another side of the game that is common across other RPG style games, is the managing of an inventory, whether that be managing the Personas you carry, the weapons, armour, items, etc. Instead of being purely another menu to play with, some of this is embedded in the story. Managing Personas is done within the Velvet room, where you will fuse Personas, register new Personas, buy skill cards and even get some additional quests. It is something that is common to all the Persona games and is something that works amazingly well.

Persona 4 Golden isn’t a good game based of a few things working well. It is one of the finest games you will play because of just how perfectly every element of the game knits together. Even visually it stands out from the crowd. Originally a PS2 game, Atlus decided against simply re-releasing the game, they put the effort in to port it over to the Vita adding in extras along the way. We could easily wax lyrical about how well the game is presented, how wonderfully crafted the characters are, however anyone picking this up deserves to be wowed by the visual greatness on the Vita’s OLED screen.

Persona 4 Golden isn’t just one of the best games on the Vita to date… Actually scratch that. It is THE best game on the Vita and it is one of the finest games you will ever play. It is a lesson in craftsmanship, there is no weakness at all, at no point is there a moment where your interest falls away. Persona 4 Golden is a system seller, you must own this, even if you need to still buy a Vita to do so.

Urban Trial Freestyle Review

First of all, let us tackle the elephant in the room. Urban Trial Freestyle is going to get comparisons to XBLA darling Trials Evolution. Looking in from the outside, it comes across as one of those cheap iOS knock-off style games, that seemingly rip out a load of assets, change a few details, including the title, then release as a new game.

On the surface it looks like that, Gamestyle were very cynical when Urban Trial Freestyle was first announced, as were most it would seem. It wasn’t just the idea of this being a bit of a rip-off that there would have been issues with, it was thought that the precision controls needed for a Trials game wouldn’t work at all on the Vita, due to the lack of analogue triggers. So a cheap knock-off with bad controls was expected.

Oh how wrong we were! First of all, the only reason there is cynicism about the game, is that Trials HD and Evolution were groundbreaking titles, introducing a new genre. People don’t complain that FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer are similar, or that the are a ton of near identical FPS games. It has a similar look to Trials, because it is a Trials game. Simple as that.

It does lack many of the features Trials Evolution does, such as level building tools that make Little Big Planet look light on features. But it never claims to be more than it is. There are two ways to attack the game, one is in a pure time-trial mode and the other is in the form of various trick style challenges. It is in these challenges where Urban Trials Freestyle carves out its own selling point.

The idea of the trick challenges is that you attack each stage as you would a time trial, however points are given for meeting certain challenges at certain points of the course. Highest and furthest jumps, rotations off a jump, speed traps and precision landing are the order of the day. Points are given based on how well you do each of these and then totaled at the end. The higher the score, the closer you will get to a 5-Star rating.

Tracks will get harder as you progress, but the ability to upgrade your bike will help these tracks become more managable, allowing you to achieve faster times and better scores. You earn money by collecting cash sacks throughout a level, the collected cash is then used to upgrade bike parts. Each upgrade has a positive and negative effect on each of the three area on the bike, speed, acceleration and handling.

The most important part for a game like this, is in the controls and whilst here they aren’t as perfected as they are in Trials, they do work remarkably well and despite the lack of the pressure triggers from the 360 controller, you do feel in complete control of the bike at all times. It does take a little while to get used to and for veteran Trials fans, it may be a little hard to adjust, knowing that the techniques used in that game won’t translate here. However, courses have been designed to cope with the controls well.

What does work really well and does set Urban Trials Freestyle apart is how the leaderboards are integrated into levels. Especially during the trick runs. You will always be greeted with markers of rivals and the best in the world for each type of trick. So seeing that green marker as you soar off a ramp encourages you to want to better yourself.

It is that need to better yourself that gives this game its worth. Early levels will see you getting 5-Star ratings with ease, yet as you progress you’ll be posting up less challenging scores and times, seeing you go back and trying again and again and again. It certainly has that ‘one more try’ feel.

There is a fair amount of content within the game, with 40 levels across the various environments. Many of the levels are repeated though to cover both the trick and time versions of each. There is no content editor as seen in Trials Evolution, however that matters not. The content you do get to play through can be over quickly is you decide to just run through the once, but then that defeats the object of the game as a whole. it is designed for you to go back and better yourself as said before and being on the Vita, the course lengths are perfectly suited for that quick blast, or a prolonged session.

Urban Trial Freestyle is much more than a copycat cash-in. It is a fine game that can be bought for a bargain price (£7.99) and is plenty of fun to play. Hopefully it will receive support down the line and get some DLC. It isn’t a well rounded at Trials, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a good game. It is a fine addition to the Vita library and one that should be picked up instantly.

Aliens: Colonial Marines Review

A stand up fight, or just another bughunt?

The Xenomorphs of the Alien franchise have always been marketed as the ultimate killing machine. Terrifying, unstoppable, emotionless monsters. At least until Aliens: Colonial Marines got hold of them…

Well, it happened. The preview here at Gamestyle listed our hopes for this game, but it also said our fears for a series that it seems difficult to make the perfect game for. I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now, but…wait for it…this game is kind of bad…

Let’s be honest. When a game is stuck for release for more than 5 years, it is going to have issues. It isn’t going to be perfect. But it could still be good. Especially when the story can practically write itself, and all the developers have to do is just make it playable. As much as it pains to say it, Gearbox have let themselves down.

A:CM picks up after Aliens, and roughly alongside Alien 3. The ‘rescue team’ have found the Sulaco from Aliens, and have gone onboard to find our what happened to the characters from the film. They have no idea that there are deadly creatures waiting for them, and the only thing that seems to be drastically amiss is that the Sulaco is back to the setting from Aliens, instead of being at it’s last known point of Alien 3. Plenty of potential, but it goes downhill rapidly. This is due to two massive mistakes. Firstly, the player gets no time to get a feel for the marines that they will be fighting alongside. Hudson, Vasquez and Hicks are all characters that fans of the film loved, we watched as their macho personas started breaking under pressure, and their deaths caused a pang. In A:CM, you have no idea who anyone is, so feel very little emotion when they die.
The second mistake is a massive one though. In fact, it warrants its own paragraph:

Early on in the game, as expected, the character is ambushed by an alien. Just the one, but as we all know, one is all it takes. The player falls to the ground, and the alien is drooling in front of the screen, ready to deal the killing blow. This is it, an early end. Unless someone rescues the player with gunfire, but then there will be a face full of acid and unavoidable death? Never fear, the player has an ace up their sleeve… a punch. The player punches the most dangerous thing in the universe in the face. With their fist. Laughable! Until…the alien whimpers and runs away. Just take that in for a moment, as that sets the tone for the rest of this review and the game as a whole.

The aliens have been reduced to cannon fodder, and are on a par with a Halo grunt. They look spot on, but everything about their movement is almost comical. The much hyped AI reduces them to just randomly jumping from point to point or running up and down walls, whilst making no attempt to attack the player. When they actually do get close, they can be punched away or pushed off. Enemy humans in the game will cause the player more concern, as they can shoot from a distance, and have rocket launchers. Being more afraid of people in a game like this is just plain wrong.

Graphically, this game is baffling. Some areas of a level look fine, whereas others look last generation. Texture mapping is grim, and entire rooms will just be a blur, only becoming clear when all enemies are defeated, or the player is moving to the exit. The characters themselves bear a resemblance to the botox shock look of the original Mass Effect. It really seems at points that we are seeing the parts of the game that were made more than 5 years ago and the designers forgot to update them last year. The early footage ‘polish’ conspiracy does seem to have legs…unlike some of the aliens that can be encountered.

This game is the glitchiest that Gamestyle has seen for quite some time. Aliens spawning under the floor, and attacking as a swarm of heads. Enemies charging the player, only to run straight past them and sprint into a wall. AI partners who are scripted to open a door to carry on in the level randomly get stuck in pipes. This list could go on and on. During one particular difficult level, we got past the tough bit. Proceeding to the next part of the level (and before reaching a precious checkpoint) our playable character just died. He was not under attack, he did not fall from a great height. He just keeled over from what we can only assume was despair induced heart failure, and fell underneath the level into grey space. This was the point that Gamestyle admitted defeat with this game.

Multiplayer is on a par with this sadly. Actually getting into a game is a challenge, and upon finally entering a Marines vs. (human controlled) Aliens death match, we were greeted by an alien who wasn’t moving, and wouldn’t die, despite the 50+ bullets that we shot in its face. There are a variety of modes aside from deathmatch, including an ‘Escape’ which is good in theory, but multiplayer as a whole is still cursed by the bugs. There are the standard customisation options as would be expected, that are unlocked as the player progresses.

As a fan of the series, the game was horrible to play, and this review was heart-breaking to write. For purely sentimental reasons, this was one of the games that fans would have been desperate to see succeed. Somewhere along the line, we were all let down. What makes it worse are the occasional flashes of a good game that flash through. Running from a larger than average alien, welding corridor doors shut as you go. The voice acting of the likes of Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen. This could and should have been so much more. But sadly, it is just a broken game. Game over man, game over.

Playstation 4 Is Coming

PS4’s Powerful System Architecture, Social Integration and Intelligent Personalization, Combined with PlayStation Network with Cloud Technology, Delivers Breakthrough Gaming Experiences and Completely New Ways to Play

New York City, New York, February 20, 2013 –Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) today introduced PlayStation®4 (PS4™), its next generation computer entertainment system that redefines rich and immersive gameplay with powerful graphics and speed, intelligent personalization, deeply integrated social capabilities, and innovative second-screen features. Combined with PlayStation®Network with cloud technology, PS4 offers an expansive gaming ecosystem that is centered on gamers, enabling them to play when, where and how they want. PS4 will be available this holiday season.

Gamer Focused, Developer Inspired
PS4 was designed from the ground up to ensure that the very best games and the most immersive experiences reach PlayStation gamers. PS4 accomplishes this by enabling the greatest game developers in the world to unlock their creativity and push the boundaries of play through a system that is tuned specifically to their needs.

PS4 also fluidly connects players to the larger world of experiences offered by PlayStation, across the console and mobile spaces, and PlayStation® Network (PSN). The PS4 system architecture is distinguished by its high performance and ease of development. PS4 is centered around a powerful custom chip that contains eight x86-64 cores and a state of the art graphics processor.

The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) has been enhanced in a number of ways, principally to allow for easier use of the GPU for general purpose computing (GPGPU) such as physics simulation. The GPU contains a unified array of 18 compute units, which collectively generate 1.84 Teraflops of processing power that can freely be applied to graphics, simulation tasks, or some mixture of the two.

PS4 is equipped with 8 GB of unified system memory, easing game creation and increasing the richness of content achievable on the platform. GDDR5 is used for this memory, giving the system 176 GB/second of bandwidth and providing a further boost to graphics performance. The end result for gamers is new games with rich, high-fidelity graphics and deeply immersive experiences that shatter expectations.

Shared Game Experiences
Social interaction is central to PS4 experiences, so new features were built into the actual foundation of the system’s hardware architecture. PS4 provides dedicated, “always on” video compression and decompression systems that enables seamless uploading of gameplay.

For the first time ever, gamers can share their epic triumphs with the press of a button. Gamers simply hit the “SHARE button” on the controller, scan through the last few minutes of gameplay, tag it and return to the game—the video uploads as the gamer plays. Gamers can share their images and videos to their friends on social networking services such as Facebook.

PS4 also enhances social spectating by enabling gamers to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to friends using live internet streaming services such as Ustream. During live broadcasts, friends can make comments on the streamed gameplay and, if a gamer gets stuck on a challenging level, friends can also join the game in completely new ways. For example, friends can offer health potions or special weapons when a player needs them most during actual gameplay.

Furthermore, users can connect their Facebook account with Sony Entertainment Network account. Through PS4, users are able to deepen their connections through co-op play or “cross-game chat”.

PS4 Second Screens
PS4 integrates second screens, including PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita), smartphones and
tablets, to wrap gamers in their favorite content wherever they are. A key feature enabled by
second screens is “Remote Play” and PS4 fully unlocks its potential by making PS Vita the
ultimate companion device. With PS Vita, gamers will be able to seamlessly pull PS4 titles
from their living room TVs and play them on PS Vita’s beautiful 5-inch display and intuitive
dual analog sticks over Wi-Fi networks *1. It is SCEI’s long-term vision is to make most PS4 titles playable on PS Vita *2.

A new application from SCE called “PlayStation®App” will enable iPhone, iPad, and AndroidTM based smartphones and tablets*3 to become second screens. Once installed on these devices, users can, for example, see maps on their second screens when playing an
adventure game, purchase PS4 games while away from home and download it directly to the
console at home, or remotely watch other gamers playing on their devices.

Immediate Gameplay
PS4 radically reduces the lag time between players and their content. PS4 features “suspend mode” which keeps the system in a low power state while preserving the game session. The time it takes today to boot a console and load a saved game will be a thing of the past. With PS4, gamers just hit the power button again and are promptly back playing the game at the exact point where they left off. Additionally, users can boot a variety of applications including a web browser when playing a game on PS4.

PS4 also enables games to be downloaded or updated in the background, or even in stand-by mode. The system takes it one step further by making digital titles playable as they are being downloaded. When a player purchases a game, PS4 downloads just a fraction of the data so gamers can start playing immediately, and the rest is downloaded in the background during actual gameplay.

Personalized, Curated Content
On the newly designed PS4 menu screen, players can look over game-related information shared by friends, view friends’ gameplay with ease, or obtain information of recommended content, including games, TV shows and movies. The long-term goal of PS4 is to reduce download times of digital titles to zero: if the system knows enough about a player to predict the next game they will purchase, then that game can be loaded and ready to go before they even click the “buy” button. PS4 will further enrich users’ entertainment experiences, by meeting their potential needs.

Gaming in the Cloud
Launched in November 2006, PlayStation Network, a network service for PlayStation users, now operates in 67 countries and regions*4 around the world with the total number of downloaded content of more than 2.8 billion*5. In addition to a variety of games available in PlayStation®Store, PS4 users will be able to enjoy a variety of services offered by PSN, such as Sony Corporation’s Music Unlimited, a cloud-based music subscription service and Video Unlimited, a premium video service, as well as various content distribution services.

By combining PlayStation Network with Gaikai Inc’s cloud technology, it is SCE’s goal to make free exploration possible for various games. In the future, when a gamer sees a title of interest in PlayStation Store, they can immediately start playing a portion of the actual game — not a stripped down version of the game. With Gaikai and PlayStation Store, gamers will be able to experience appealing games and only pay for the games they actually love. PlayStation Network and the cloud will offer additional value to PlayStation gamers. SCE is exploring unique opportunities enabled by cloud technology with the long-term vision of making PlayStation libraries including an incredible catalog of more than 3000 PS3 titles*6
that is unmatched in the industry, mostly ubiquitous on PS4.

SCE will announce new details of PS4 and its robust lineup of games from 3rd party developers and publishers, the independent gaming community and SCE Worldwide Studios, as well as further enhancements to the entire PlayStation ecosystem between now and the holiday 2013 launch.

Special Forces: Team X Review

There’s no I in team!

Even soldiers need friends sometimes. When the job description presumably features the phrase ‘Will get shot at’, it must be quite useful knowing that there is something watching your back.

Special Forces :Team X is the new release from Zombie Studios (of Blacklight fame), and in a nutshell, is a team based third person shooter. Group action is the name of the game, and there is not a single player mode in sight. This is multi-player all the way, and it is going in all guns blazing.

A quick glance shows a game that is visually inspired by Borderlands. Realistic yet cell-shaded, and actually very good to look at. No issues with texture at all, everything is smooth, and the level of detail is excellent. The levels themselves are quite basic, and technically there is only actually one level. The difference comes from the level being made of 3 separate zones. There are a variety of different level pieces that are voted for by the players before a match, meaning that there are several different combinations that can happen. They do still come across as a bit ‘samey’, and some different scenery (Jungle, snow etc) would have livened up the choices a little bit.

The playable characters are at a similar level of customisation. There are a couple of basic templates, and these are further modified with a variety of clothing options. Whilst there is not a vast number of options, there is enough to make a character that is ‘your own’.

Gameplay is based around a typical shooter. Standard weaponry includes the humble AK-47, to the more exotic attack dogs and chainsaws. There are a variety of match options, featuring the standard deathmatch, and ranging to things like most valuable player (where one players death pays out more points than his team-mates’. What sets this apart is the team based motivations. A score bonus is added to players that stay with their kin. Players in SF:TX tend to be more resilient than in other shooting games, so having multiple players shooting at the same target is the best way to start racking up kills and winning games. Annoyingly though, there is minimal explanation of this quite important detail, which means that nine times out of ten, players just run off in opposite directions. A brief tutorial would have been useful. This is only a minor gripe however, and hopefully players will pick this up on their own. XP is awarding for the usual things, a certain amount of kills, melee kills etc. There are also some challenges which give bonuses which are good to aim for.

There some annoying issues, noticeably with the cover system and object interaction. The cover is hit and miss to say the least, with the player quite often just not going behind the desired object. Add this to the times when the character does go in to cover when they aren’t actually meant to, and it can turn into a farce quite quickly. Jumping over objects is equally as irregular, with walls seemingly having a ‘sweet spot’ which is the only point that can be leaped. The final issue, which will probably affect more than others, is that it is pretty difficult to work out which character is on which team. The characters are in a standard camo colour scheme, and the only icon is a very small triangle above their head. In areas with multiple people shooting, it is very difficult to distinguish, especially as one team colour is red, and another in orange. Often, players will be running with another character shooting away, before realising 30 seconds later that they are with an enemy, not a team mate. As amusing as this sounds, this is something that could have been avoided.

Special Forces: Team X is an unexpected treat, and on paper, it should have been a lot worse. There are some technical problems, but at the core is a solid game. Whilst it is probably not enough to lure in the hardcore COD or MW fans, it looks like there could be a fan base developing. Potentially, this could become a cult game akin to the likes of Team Fortress. Some additional maps and patches in the near future however would go a long way.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 Goes Gold

WARSAW, POLAND, February 14th, 2013 — CI Games, a fast-growing international publisher and developer of interactive entertainment, today announced that its upcoming game, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2, has completed development and has officially gone “gold.”

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 will be available for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 system and Windows PC in North America, Europe, Australia, Africa and part of Asia, starting March 12 in USA and in Europe beginning March 15.

Marek Tyminski, CEO of CI Games, said: “Since release, the first Sniper: Ghost Warrior has sold over three million copies on multiple platforms. Ghost Warrior 2 will deliver an even greater experience for all those fans of the first game, expanding on this dramatic, exciting world of elite military service.”

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is the only multi-platform first person shooter exclusively designed around the modern military sniper experience. Using the advanced capabilities of CryENGINE3, the game delivers graphically stunning environments, more diverse challenges, a rebuilt AI system and the exacting precision and accuracy that made the original a worldwide hit. With unprecedented levels of realism in weaponry, ballistics and environmental factors, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 offers the ultimate balance of skill, tension
and action.

To learn more about Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2, visit:
www.facebook.com/SniperGhostWarrior

Trine 2: Directors Cut Review

We’ll admit here at Gamestyle that we hadn’t really been paying much attention to the Trine series until it arrived on the Wii U eshop. As such, this review comes at you from a newcomer to the series point of view. This review also takes into account the recent update which improved graphical performance and added voice chat and pro controller support. As this the director’s cut you also get the expansion pack and an exclusive Wii U level as well.

Trine follows the adventures of a mage, knight and thief bound together by a magical artefact known as the Trine. A 2D puzzle platform game, Trine 2 tries to do something new with a genre more typically found back in the 16-bit era. Indeed, we found our thoughts drifting to The Lost Vikings as we began utilising the three hero’s unique abilities.

The knight is best at fighting and can use his shield to reflect light beams and deflect objects. The thief shoots arrows and can use a grappling hook and the mage can conjure and move objects. Each character can be upgraded by seeking out experience points in the form of magic bubbles. This unlocks further abilities such as exploding arrows, stealth abilities and a number of other things which help fight off the many Goblins and giant spiders you’ll encounter along the way.

With the different abilities on offer and different ways to play the developers have given the players multiple options in how to solve the puzzles. Playing single player has one character on screen which can be changed at any time, while multiplayer has all characters on screen at once. This means that certain puzzles would by default need a number of different ways to get through them.

The great thing is that the Trine world and physics are very tactile and effectively sets up a big toy box for you play around with to accomplish your task. Players who prefer the mage will be able to upgrade his abilities to summon large numbers of boxes and ramps to get around. While those using a mixture of the characters will find the need to use a combination of grappling hook swings, magical platforms and brute strength.

You could for instance spend time re-arranging pipes to get the water level right to reach a high ledge or alternatively use an ice arrow to freeze the pool and then stack some mage created boxes on it, while in multiplayer there would be much more opportunity for cooperative lever pulling . The choice is yours. We found this flexible approach refreshing and it meant that progression was always steady as you weren’t left searching for the one way the developer intended you to get through an area.

The first thing that strikes you about the game is just how jaw droopingly gorgeous the whole thing is. The backdrops and landscapes are beyond stunning. We have never seen a 2D game that looks so good. Sunbeams shine through leaves, ice glistens and everything looks as magical and enchanting as seems humanly possible. The attention to detail is staggering and this combined with the physics engine creates a solid and immersive world that you never tire looking at.

The music is also suitably epic with bold fantasy themed tunes subtly underscoring your adventure. Even better news is that Trine 2 has an excellent script and group of voice actors. As the heroes adventure their comments and conversation can’t help to raise a smile. Everything seems to have been done with just the right amount of tongue in cheek humour.

Graphics and sound are all good but don’t mean anything if the game doesn’t play well. For the first hour or so we were a little worried that the controls wouldn’t gel. But after that the gamepad controls feel like second nature. The only slight issue is having the action button just above the character change button. Initially we were swapping characters when we wanted to fight and this did cause a problem. However, you soon get used to it and after the first few levels it never posed an issue again. An option to configure controls would have been useful though.

The Wiimote and Nunchuck and Pro controller can be used but we found the gamepad the best. It’s worth noting that the old Wii classic controller is useless as the button used to change characters is miles away from anything else. You can play it solely on the gamepad as well.

The game itself is very smooth with everything acting as it should and combat working well. The only slight issues is that after years of playing games like Flashback and Prince of Persia we instinctively expect the edge of a platform to be in a certain part of the graphic. Trine 2’s is a little deeper and this left us missing jumps a number of times. Again, once you get used to it there is very little here to complain about, and if you get really stuck you can just head to the Miiverse and post a screenshot in the community area and await help.

This is a good thing as the game is pretty sizeable with the normal quest taking around ten hours and the add-on content pushing that up by another five to eight depending how good you are. Searching out all the hidden chests to get paintings, poems and the maps pieces needed to access the Wii U exclusive area will also take a fair amount of time.

Every level is strong and there was never a time when we found ourselves wanting the game to be over. It’s one of those titles that eats up your free time without you really realising it. When it ends you just wish there was more of it and we can honestly say this is the most pure fun we’ve had with a video game for years. Everything about Trine 2 just makes us smile and anyone slightly put off by the price tag really shouldn’t worry. The amount of value and enjoyment present here is to be commended and it’s clear the developers really have gone that extra effort to make something that deserves to be held up with the very best in the genre. In fact, we are a little disappointed this hasn’t been made a full retail release and the amount of content and quality on show certainly justifies it.

If you haven’t guessed by now we like this game a lot. It takes players on a magical and beautiful adventure while always remaining enjoyable and throwing in some absolutely stunning design. If you own a Wii U this game is as essential as anything else you can buy. This is definitive version of one of the best games to come out in an absolute age. There really is no excuse not to own it.