Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold Announced

You may have noticed that we’re big fans of the Persona series here at Gamestyle and it’s great news that Persona 4 Arena is getting a new update. Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold aside from having an epic name, features three new characters, new character balancing, and is said to continue the story that ended so abruptly in the original Persona 4 Arena.

For the new characters we have the return of Persona 3 favourites Junpei and Yukari, alongside a brand new character Sho Minozuki. Here’s the trailer:

The game is set to hit Japanese arcades towards the end of the year with console versions still unconfirmed.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Review

Gamers of a certain age, will remember a football game called International Superstar Soccer, it was stunning, an amazing step up of quality on football titles. That game went on to become Pro Evolution Soccer and it was the king of digital football.

That was during the PS2 era though, a time when the FIFA titles were awful to play and only had the licences going for them. Pro Evo was the game for purists, amazing in single player, but at another level when played with mates. Hell, aside from just playing, you could lose hours, days or weeks just editing the game, to give teams closer to real life kits, real names, club crests, etc. It held a special place in our heart that is for sure.

Then the birth of online gaming seem to correspond with a shift in power. The team at EA Sports went back to the drawing board and started to challenge Seabass’ creation. FIFA went from strength to strength, as Pro Evo stood still and even went backwards. For whatever reason, the team behind the series couldn’t get to grips with the online part of the game and started to lose even the most ardent of supporters.

If Pro Evo was a football team it would be Liverpool FC. A once proud team, that was knocked off their perch by their bitter rivals, a few years of mediocrity, but now seemingly trying to rebuild and start something special once again.

In the last two efforts, there has been improvement to the core features of the game, but it has still lacked something, the game felt scripted, physics off, AI lacking. That has changed this year, this is a whole new Pro Evo and it is really throwing the gauntlet down and coming after FIFA in the biggest way.

Powered by the FOX engine, this iteration of Pro Evolution Soccer plays the best game of football since the days of Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (the best of the series). The development team have squeezed every bit of power from the consoles and made sure that this time, the basics that are needed to make a solid football title are there and will produce the most realistic game to date.

This is down to something they call M.A.S.S (Motion Animation Stability System). Which is a fancy name for a very impressive physics system. Players can collide with each other, the ball can bobble off of limbs, players will fall in a realistic manner. Where this helps, is that you can just get in the way of a pass and knock it slightly off an intended path, or just slow a player down as they try to burst past.

No longer does it feel like each little event is just a glorified Rock, Paper, Scissors. There isn’t a yes or no outcome to everything you see. Try and beat a player and the ball may clip their heel and fall to another player, or go out of play. It may clip that same heel and still run just right for you. As said, nothing feels scripted.

What really impressed was how the ebb and flow of a game went. You do notice how you play changes from an away game, compared to a home. In one game at home we were 0-0 and dominating play, with our opposition pushed back, but containing. They then got a goal against the run of play and for the next five minutes, they played with a bit of swagger, until a mistake at the back and overplaying the ball, led to a near goal

It seemed that the AI players on both teams had all of a sudden shifted attitude. My players pushed on and pressured, winning the ball high up the pitch, forcing mistakes. Their players, instead of playing the ball to feet, were trying quickly to launch a ball down the pitch, which saw pressure come straight back. The crowd noise had risen and you saw, literally saw our home team feed from that atmosphere, it is the first time we have seen that in a football game.

Yet it isn’t the same every time, in another game we were 1-0 down, chasing the game but the opposition were at home this time and they were able to frustrate our team, to the point where it felt like needing to launch balls forward, as nothing was working along the ground, that was lost 1-0 and just couldn’t get going. It all honesty though, we c0uld describe another 30-40 games where we could reel of tales of moments that happened in the games. There were some dull games also, but hey, that’s football.

We are happy to report, that this is probably the best on pitch feel we have had in any football game to date. It has that real football feel to it and offline the King has returned!

Online is a different story though, it seems to lack the organic feel that the offline has, it feels laggy, there seems to be a lot elements that come across as aided by the game, such as passes which all of a sudden come across as a lot more true, finding feet 99 out of 100 times. Through balls are inch perfect more often than not. It is best to avoid this right now, wait and see what patches come.

In terms of content, there isn’t anything new that stands out, single match, various leagues and cups from around the world, both licensed and unofficial. There is Pro Evo’s version of Be A Pro and the all important Master League and Master League Online. Having nothing new of note isn’t a bad thing, as it shows that the developers have put their time and energy into producing a faithful simulation of the sport.

The King is back, as Pro Evo produces the best offline football game to date. It still lacks online, but this was never a game about playing faceless people across the world. Get your mates round and remember the good old days. There is room for improvement, but at long last the future looks bright for the former great.

South Park The Stick Of Truth Release Date Announced

London, UK – 25 September 2013 – Today, Ubisoft®, South Park Digital Studios and Obsidian Entertainment announced South Park: The Stick of Truth, will be available in the UK on the 13th of December for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. The Windows PC release date will be shared at a later time.

Fans can check out the latest action in South Park: The Stick of Truth by watching the new “Destiny” trailer, released today. In the trailer, the New Kid steps forth and fulfils his…destiny.

About South Park: The Stick of Truth

Arm yourself with weapons of legend to defeat underpants gnomes, hippies and other forces of evil.  Discover the lost Stick of Truth and earn your place at the side of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny as their new friend. Succeed, and you shall be South Park’s saviour, cementing your social status in South Park Elementary. Fail, and you will forever be known as a loser.

In addition, the South Park: The Stick of Truth Grand Wizard Edition, a must-have for any self-respecting South Park fan, will also be available on the 13th of December and features a trove of mystical items from the deepest reaches of South Park to aid you in your quest to acquire the Stick of Truth and rid the realm of evil.

The Grand Wizard Edition will be available in the UK at www.amazon.co.uk and via the Uplay shop and includes:

South Park: The Stick of Truth Game
The full game on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Grand Wizard Kidrobot® Cartman Figure
Own the Grand Wizard Cartman and his stick of authority with this six-inch replica figure from Kidrobot®. The Grand Wizard Cartman figure is not available in stores and can only be found in the Grand Wizard Edition.

Kingdom of South Park Map
The entire town of South Park has been mapped for the first time in South Park history.

The Stick of Truth Ultimate Fellowship Pack
Unlock the ultimate fellowship with the one pack to rule them all!  Choose your class and pick your perk with four exclusive Stick of Truth costumes that come equipped with special abilities.  Suit up as the Necromancer Sorcerer to increase your fire damage, earn extra gold by equipping the Rogue Assassin outfit, deal extra weapon damage with the Ranger Elf costume, or raise your defence with the Holy Defender outfit.  The choice is yours, New Kid.

Lone Survivor: The Directors Cut Review

Another PC indie title heads to the Vita. This time it is psychological survival horror Lone Survivor. Aside from being a straight up port, this is a director’s cut which should be the definitive edition.

What makes the Vita an ideal platform for Lone Survivor, is just how personal an experience it is. The game advises you at the start to play on your own, free from distraction, in a dark room, with headphones on. As good as this was on a PC, it could be difficult to find that exact setup, whereas on the Vita, you can go anywhere to get the perfect playing environment.

It is a survival horror and despite the basic graphics it does the horror side as well as most games with huge teams and a massive budget behind them. It is steeped in atmosphere, from the very get go, you understand why you are advised on your playing conditions. There is something unnerving about the pixellated graphics. It could have been easy for a bit of an HD ‘upgrade’ but the game would have lost something. It is hard to pinpoint what that something is though, a game that on the surface is this basic, shouldn’t be as unsettling as it is.

The game is far from basic though, yet the graphics and the controls may be lifted out of the 16-bit era, but underneath that exterior is a game that has many layers. From the moment the game opens, you are left on your own, with some minor teases as to what you could be doing, rather than trying to funnel you down a path.

It’s not just certain sections where the game does the unexpected either. In most games you find a moment where everything comes together and you find yourself going through the motions. Here though you expect the unexpected with almost every step. The game does weird in such a fine way, Twin Peaks weird if you will. You character will have hallucinations, step into other worlds and you’ll find that you are left questioning what is real and what isn’t. Which quite the achievement for a simple looking video game.

The game does a wonderful job of making you really consider your approach. There isn’t really a trial and error where you can keep going back and forth trying new things over and over. Yet at the game time everything is trial and error. Every decision you make will have an impact on your survival.  Resource management, the decision to use combat or stealth, no decision you make is ever cut and dry.

The combat is probably the weakest part of the game, but for one, it isn’t vital, as you can use stealth, or combat, whatever you see fit, what is best for the situation you are in. The resource management is one area where the game really tests your nerve, your character will let you know when he is hungry or tired, your flashlight has limited power and you need to decide when it is really needed.

It is for the above reasons that you move forward with trepidation, afraid to venture too far from the safety of your apartment and that all important save option. You can get a little braver as you progress, but you never once feel that you are starting to be the one in control, you are always feeling a sense of danger, that something just around the corner will have a nasty surprise.

Lone Survivor is an amazing showcase of how atmosphere can be created, it doesn’t rely on fancy graphics, but it still does a wonderful job getting into your head. It is already a classic on the PC and the chance to play all over again on the Vita and PS3 is very welcome. The Vita edition is the definitive version for us, locked in a dark room, with headphones on, we dare you not to be afraid.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers Review

Playing Soul Hackers was like taking a virtual reality trip back to the late 90’s. Not just the gameplay, but also the story. Memories of all those movies dealing with computers, hacking and virtual reality written by people who had no idea what they were talking about came flooding back as soon as the game begins. This is not so much a bad thing though, as there’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia when it’s this enjoyable.

Soul Hackers was originally released for the Saturn in 1997 which goes a long way in explaining the style and feel of the game. Graphically, aside from the addition of 3D (which adds nothing by the way) it feels very basic, with disappointingly no new graphical update that we can see. Travelling through the hi-tech Amami city is done with a dot on a map, the first person dungeons are very basic in design and the battle animations are almost non-existent. So in that sense it’s a shame more care wasn’t taken with bringing it to a new audience. That aside, play for long enough and there’s still something here that will suck you in.

This could possibly be the diverse cast of characters you’ll encounter or the dual worlds you’ll be exploring. Dual because not only is the reality of Amami City available to explore, but also the virtual reality world of Paradigm X. A sort of MMO which has become the new big thing. Of course, it turns out that all is not as it seems and Paradigm X becomes a central plot point as you progress through the story. The story, which while initially starting off slowly definitely hooked us, and made us put up with the experience of learning the many mechanics found within.

Soul Hackers definitely takes you back to a time before hand holding became the norm. Coming into this as your first Shin Megami Tensei can be a pretty daunting experience. Tutorials are nowhere to be found and it’s really up to the player to discover how to best approach the game. It isn’t long before you’re thrown straight into your first turn based battle and really it’s all down to experimentation, something we actually quite enjoyed. Letting the player figure things out for themselves is definitely something that’s been lost as games have evolved and Soul Hackers has shown that not telling the player exactly what to do can make the game a rewarding experience.

Those new to the SMT series may be a little baffled by the battle system as it is, at first, quite daunting with options layered on top of options that can overwhelm quite easily. With each turn based battle you have six spaces for humans and demons that you collect. At the start of each turn you make each characters selection, whether it be magic, attack, item etc. Then the battle commences until all turns are done, and repeat. What sets this game apart from other RPG’s is the use of the demons that you can have join your team. In order to convince them to join you can use the Talk option at the start of each battle. Conversing with the demons will more often than not bring up multiple choice answers. This is where it gets weird. Demons seem to have as many problems as humans, with them asking questions ranging from the meaning of life to favourite foods. It’s all a bit surreal. Answering the question correctly from the multiple choices you’re given and it could very well lead the demon to join your party. Answer incorrectly and it could lead them to attacking you or just leaving in a huff.

Believe it or not that’s just the basics; from here you need to build up the trust of your demons. Lose trust and the demons could very well ignore your commands and just do what the hell they please. Then there’s fusing, a mechanic those who are familiar with the SMT series will understand, and others will initially be confused by. Fusing demons together making newer, more powerful ones, a crucial element in order to progress through the harder dungeons.

The dungeons being one of the real stars of Soul Hackers. As already mentioned, dungeons are played out in a first person manner, navigating the corridors and running into random battles. Dungeons each have a different style to them and can consist of tricky puzzles tiered across multiple floors. Disappointingly though these, like much in the game, are very old fashioned, only being able to move in four directions as opposed to full 3D movement.

The first appearance of Soul Hackers outside of Japan is a most welcome one. It may not have had the graphical update some would’ve hoped for, but the story and characters are interesting enough that it will grab you till the end.

Grand Theft Auto V Review

GTA5 PS3 screenshot

There is a little known game series known as Grand Theft Auto, that maybe some of you may have heard of, one or two might even have played one of the games. So under the radar the fifth iteration of the series has been released. Gamestyle take a look at what we can expect.

We kid of course, the GTA series is arguably the biggest name in our medium, a game that is as much in the public consciousnesses as the latest blockbuster movie, number 1 pop song or best selling book. It is referenced by the news, by popular culture and more time and time again. People expect controversy and you can guarantee plenty of coverage.

There is a different tone to this game than there was in GTA IV or the other previous titles. When you enter the game’s opening scene it feels like it has matured a little, it seems like there has been effort put into the writing, the performances, it feels a little less stereotypical than older games.  As we end the generation, it feels like games are trying their best to have a memorable opening and a way to hook the audience and GTA V is right up there with the best.

It seems like the game has matured, but in truth it is full of stereotype, and does revert to type fairly quickly, but that is fine, games aren’t here to be a social commentary, they are here to be fun and GTA whilst pushing the barriers of controversy over the years is a game that is designed to be fun. This iteration may well be the most fun yet.

The opening of the game is really well put together and introduces the new lead character and the general tutorial parts without ever breaking from the immersion. It is something that games have struggled to come to terms with over the years and GTA follows suit, along with a couple of other major recent releases to nail a game opening.

After the opening set piece the system kind of reverts to type, giving you a huge opening world that becomes your playground. You are introduced to the lead roles and taken on a series of fairly linear missions. Go here, do this, follow him, kill them, that sort of thing. But it works, it eases you into a small portion of the world and allows you to get used to the game mechanics before letting you loose later on.

Controls on the whole feel very tight, aiming and cover shooting is on a par with games where those mechanics are core. However driving controls can take a bit of getting used to. At first the cars feel very twitchy and even the slightest touch, or being too aggressive on the controls can cause you to spin the car, or have accidents. However, that being said, it does start to come to you, and you soon forget the troubles you had earlier in the game.

The map is huge. In GTA IV you felt confined at times, you knew the area was vast, but you could tell you were locked into an area, in a weird Truman Show style bubble, to the point you half expected Niko to be afraid of water. Here though, in the hours upon hours we have spent in Los Santos, we still feel as though there is much more to discover and discover we will.

GTA has always prided itself on what you can do away from the main story arc and this is no exception, the usual side missions are there, as are the customisation options. What you have though is a playground that goes back to what you found in San Andreas (which is no surprise really), in GTA IV the side activities felt a little forced, with requests from annoying family members, that you really couldn’t be bothered with. It felt out of place and distracting from the fun you wanted to have. Here though, the game lets you loose on a map and invites you to just have a blast at your own pace.

We could list everything that is possible here, but for one it would be a mighty list, that you could look up online if you are that desperate to find out and secondly, we don’t want to take the fun out of the discovery. So take it from us, there is loads to do, both on land, in the sky and under water!

In most other open-world games, we found that we were always drawn back to wanting to finish off the main story, maybe occasionally flirting with side missions, to help boost a character. The exception to that was of course Saints Row IV and whilst GTA V doesn’t quite throw all sense of reason out of the window, it is a game that we look at the main story and don’t want to just get back to it. We are having too much fun just playing around with everything else.

Now that isn’t to say the story is dull, or anything like that, it is a testament to how well structured the game world is and how much the developers have put into the world for you to do. Adding in the three lead characters mechanic does wonders as well, as each one does have unique things attached to them, whether that be vehicles, abilities, activities, etc.  It keeps things fresh throughout, so should you start to get tired of one, you can just switch to another.

The three character structure helps iron out some of the issues with the story in GTA IV. Niko Bellic would often switch from moral conscience,  to gun toting maniac at the flip of a switch, which really didn’t help when it came to having any kind of connection with the character. Here though, Rockstar can have three totally different personalities, allowing them to break missions up so that they are played by the character they best suit.

Now, you don’t have to like all the characters, that isn’t the point, what it does, is allows the game to flow and the story and character arcs to work in a much more natural way. To Rockstar’s credit, they have pulled this off brilliantly. As far as GTA goes, this is the most well rounded story to date. It still doesn’t touch games like The Last Of Us for how well it is performed, or written, but then it doesn’t have to be. It does what it has to do, for the type of game this is.

Earlier we said that as a game, GTA doesn’t need to be a social commentary, nor a moral compass. That doesn’t stop the game being full of satire. It isn’t saying this is right, this is wrong, it just takes real world elements that we all know about and charges at them with the satirical stick. Whether it be important political stances, or the likes of popular technology companies, the list is long and it generates plenty of laughs, as well as a few nods of acknowledgement to the little things you notice.

There is an online element to come also, but at the time of writing, this has yet to be launched. But it is stunning just how much Rockstar have managed to fit into the game and still the promise of more to come. What is really impressive is that unlike some linear titles, where smoke and mirrors can be used, this is open world and there are so many little things that can go wrong and the fact is in the 30 odd hours we have played so far, we have noticed minor glitches and we do mean minor. It is only in writing that we even thought about them, hell we struggled to recall them at first. Bravo Rockstar…Bravo!

Is GTA perfect? Well it depends who you ask, but it is plenty of fun and in a time when we are looking to usher in a new generation of hardware, the fact this is running on a PS3 and looks and plays this good is simply mind-blowing. It isn’t a game that will appeal to everyone, as it is an open world, violent game without a moral compass. But boy can you have fun without worrying about morals.

Gravity Rush Gets A Sequel

Well this is a surprise, and definitely a welcome one!

A sequel to Gravity Rush (which we rather enjoyed) has just been announced for the Vita during the Tokyo Game Show. You can check out the short tease below.

No other details have been released, but this is one we’ll be watching closely.

New Trailer For The Evil Within at Tokyo Game Show

Shinji Mikami will have the opportunity to show off his latest project this week in Japan at Tokyo Game Show. To celebrate the occasion Bethesda have just released a new gameplay trailer for The Evil Within™.

Shinji Mikami, the father of survival horror, is back to direct The Evil Within – a game embodying the meaning of pure survival horror. Highly-crafted environments, horrifying anxiety, and an intricate story weave together to create an immersive world that will bring players to the height of tension. The Evil Within is in development for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC and is slated for release in 2014.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix Review

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix

Kingdom Hearts is a favourite, so the chance to play a much loved classic from the PS2 era all over again in HD is very welcome indeed. The PS3 is on fire at the moment. 

When the original Kingdom Hearts was first announced, it was a title that was anticipated more with intrigue than any actual hype or expectation. The concept felt a bit odd, mixing the worlds of Final Fantasy with Disney. Was this a game for kids? Would it be missing all audiences, who was it for?

Well the truth was, it was a game for everyone, a game that was pure magic. It perfectly blended the ideas of Disney with Final Fantasy and despite a few issues with controls and cameras (which were common place then, but a lot more forgivable than things seem to be now days) the original was loved enough and successful enough to spawn a sequel and eventually a full on franchise.

In this particular package, you get Kingdom Hearts 1.5, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain Of Memories and Kingdom Hearts: 358/2. The first is the definitive version of the game stat started it all. Rather than the game that Europe got to see, it is the Japanese Final Mix version, which adds additional cut-scenes and content. Now we will admit to our memories starting to leave us, as we enter middle-age, as we really couldn’t remember what was new.

What we did remember though was that this was pretty much that same game we played eleven years ago, but looking much prettier. Well we say prettier, but in truth with these HD re-releases, it was the game we remember with our rose-tinted glasses. It always looked good a decade ago and the HD update keeps it looking as we hoped.

By today’s standards though, the controls, the camera and just some of the game in general lacks a bit of polish and quality control compared to what we get today. Which is a shame as it doesn’t really sell the games to a brand new audience. Yet that doesn’t seem to the plan, it comes across as a fan service and it does that perfectly. It is whetting the whistle for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III.

Also included is the direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts, Re:Chain Of Memories, an HD update to Chain of Memories. Not to be confused with Kingdom Hearts 2, which isn’t on this package and wasn’t a direct sequel to the original. Chain Of Memories was originally released on the Gameboy Advance and later saw a PS2 remake.

Re:Chain Of Memories introduced a new card battle system to the series. This follows many of the rules you’d expect from other card battle type games, but was played out almost in real time and in all honesty was a refreshing change up to the usual methods employed by other games in the KH franchise. It also more of a dungeon crawler feel to it than the other games, which again made it stand out enough.

The final part of the package isn’t a game at all. Well it was a game, but this is just a video of the game made up of cutscenes. There is nothing playable, you simply watch. It is disappointing that this was included on the all the build up marketing, because as an added extra it is pretty cool and a great way to fill yourself in with some of the lore surrounding the world and the franchise, but as a direct inclusion, it feels lazy and pointless it being there.

358/2 wasn’t the best entry into the Kingdom Hearts series, when it was released on the Nintendo DS, so it’s inclusion really is an odd choice as a main entry to the package. That said, by removing the playable elements, the story can be watched, which was the only good thing about that particular release anyhow.

Overall this is a package that can be had at a fairly budget price, so if you are a fan, then go ahead and pick it up and enjoy reliving some of the your favourite moments. Those who may have missed this upon original release may find it a bit under-whelming as it is a straight reproductions, including all the minor faults. However as an overall package, we are glad it is in our lives. Can we have Kindgom Hearts 2 HD and Birth By Sleep HD next please?

The Walking Dead Review

The Walking Dead was many critic’s choices for Game of the Year in 2012, released on 360, PS3, PC, iOS and now it gets a release on PS Vita.

The Vita release doesn’t really offer much new to the series, unless you haven’t picked up the decent add on ‘400 Days’. It is the same story, same choices… it’s all the same. But somehow, being able to play again is just enough to tempt you into picking it up yet again. Chances are you do have one of the other releases, maybe you have already double dipped, but playing on the Vita is mightily tempting.

In the most part, this is a faithful port, anyone who played any of the episodes from the original releases will be right at home with the controls and despite the option to play using the touch screen, we found it best to use the physical controls. So kudos to Telltale for giving the option, we like that and will always commend developers for doing that on a Vita.

There is a slight issue though that must be addressed, the port isn’t as smooth a ride as we experienced on the home console version, the are an awful amount of slight pauses and what felt like additional loading screens. Now whilst it doesn’t ruin the overall experience, nor is it exactly game-breaking, it does take you out of the overall immersion.

That was the thing about The Walking Dead, whether it be the comics, the TV series (apart from that awful few episodes in season 2), or the games (except the awful FPS), you were drawn in, you immersed yourself in what was happening and Telltale did a great job of doing that with their game. You felt an affinity with the characters, whether you liked them as individuals or not. The pacing, the writing, the score, everything drew you in and made it an experience.

So with the Vita version, that should be enhanced, that personal feel you get with the system should project those experiences even further, especially if you have headphones in. Overall it does, you do lose yourself to the world when playing, except for when the game stutters, or you get those extended loading screens. It just breaks things up a little too much. Hopefully this can be patched and fixed at some point.

That being said, it didn’t stop us burning through each episode again and being taken on a bit of a rollercoaster of emotion throughout each of the episodes. It is a game that is based on choice and the further you get in to the story, the harder some decisions are to make. For us the writing of the game, is far better than that of the TV series and only bettered by the comics.

If you’ve played The Walking Dead before, then the question you need to ask yourself is, Do I want to play again? If yes, then go ahead and pick this up, do your best to ignore the stuttering issues and enjoy what is still a fascinating experience. If you’ve never played The Walking Dead, then you owe it to yourself to pick this up, especially with the bundled 400 Days DLC, making this a fantastic value for money purchase. Unlike those who were there at the very beginning, you also won’t have to wait and wait and wait for each new episode, it is like buying the DVD release a few months after the latest TV season has finished!

The Walking Dead on PS Vita isn’t the definitive version, which is a shame, as the personal experience of the Vita itself could have added so much to the overall experience of the game. Instead what you get is a decent enough port that maintains most of the game’s charms, but just falls a little short on previous releases. However, that still makes it better than most games on the market.

Diablo III Review

Moving to consoles after a stint on the PC, Diablo III is able to extend its audience, but does a game built for the PC translate to consoles? 

Gamestyle are happy to admit that Diablo is completely new to us, we know of the game, but have never played, so was unsure what to expect when we first turned the game on. We were intrigued mainly by the name alone, it is one of those games that transcends the medium, like GTA, Call of Duty, World Or Warcraft, etc.

Diablo III is an Action RPG that revolves around you wandering around various dungeons, killing and looting to your hearts content. What surprised us when we first played was actually how accessible the game was. Expecting to be spending ages creating a character that we’d then take into the game, only to have various concepts explained to us for the next few hours, we were happy to see the game actually gets you into the action nigh on instantly.

The game relies on many things you pick up through years of gaming, as well as various little signs you understand generally in life. Before you reach your first quest, you’ll be walking down a path and all of a sudden something will glow red, it is moving, therefore it must be an enemy and must be slayed. So you do, you kill it and then spy more red glowing enemies and kill them.

It is all intuitive too, no complicated menus or awkward systems to work through, not what we were expecting at all. Even when more options open up, the interface, which has been rebuilt for use on consoles is clear and concise. You can equip your chosen character with weapons and armour that are dropped by downed ememies, or found in various chests and the like. Again expecting this to be difficult to understand we were pleasantly surprised by how clear everything was. The important attributes stood out and even the little bonuses you’d get through the various items was also clear.

Being an RPG, there is of course a lot of character progression, which basically comes from killing enemies, completing quests, all the usual things that you’d expect. The further you level up, the more you open for your character. Previous items that were unable to be used due to level restraints become accessible and extra attacks open up, there is a proper sense of progression.

There have been games in a similar mold to Diablo, but there is something special about this that makes it stand out. A quick go turned into most of the day, as we wanted to explore every inch or the world, checking every nook and cranny for goodies that could help us later in the game. Yet it is your inquisitiveness that dictates how long the game will last, the pacing of quests is really well structured and to be honest they can be completed fairly quickly, but because you want to explore, you do find that you go off into your own little world from time to time.

Whilst the game can be played in single player, there is also the option for online and single screen co-operative play, which adds to the game immensely. Diablo is a very sociable game and the enjoyment factor is increased when playing with a friend, whether that be online with a headset, or both sat in the same room.

Because there are various different character types to be used, there is great sense of replayability, as you want to progress each class as much as you can. Items can be shared between characters too, as long as they are left in the stash chest, meaning that a Demon Hunter could well find an axe, which that class cannot use, but that item can then be left in the stash for another class to pick up and use when the game is played with them.

The challenge is paced well, as your characters level up, so does the difficulty of the enemies you’ll face. Whilst the general enemies that populate the world can be dealt with swiftly and with comparative ease, the bosses will offer up much more of a challenge, even with a co-op partner you will find the bosses hard to take down, but the sense of achievement and the rewards for doing so are more than worth it.

Coming into Diablo III, Gamestyle was expecting a game that we’d appreciate at a technical level, but find that it wasn’t for us and more suited to a PC. However, what we found was a game that we really don’t want to leave alone. Once it gets its hooks in, it will not let go, you will be addicted beyond an level you though possible before you started playing.

Diablo III is a fine example of how a game that was primarily built for playing on a PC, can be translated to consoles. The consideration taken by the development team to make sure interfaces were rebuilt is great to see. Diablo III is the best example of the action RPG and until you play it, you simply cannot appreciate just how amazing the experience can be.

KickBeat Review

Rhythm and music based games have come in many guises over the years. KickBeat from Zen Studios kind of takes its cues from a bit of a Gamestyle favourite. 

The likes of Rock Band and Guitar Hero changed the genre, introducing the era of plastic instruments. They are fun, but there was a little game known as Space Channel 5 back in the days of the Dreamcast. We say little, but it was actually pretty well known. It used rhythm action as the main way to destroy enemies and complete levels and it is easy to see a bit of an influence in KickBeat from the SEGA classic.

If you have ever played a game like Rock Band then the premise is pretty much the game. You need to hit buttons in time with the music, but instead of having rows of notes flowing down the screen, you’ll be facing off against various enemies. The enemies themselves are coloured in such a way that they give a visual clue as to how they need to be attacked.

Yellow enemies are single notes, blue enemies need to be hit in quick succession and red enemies need to be hit at the same time. How they come at you is dependent on the song that is currently playing. Initially things will come across as incredibly difficult, even after the tutorials. However, after a fair amount of practice you soon adjust to how the game flows and will be taking on enemies like a pro.

The harder difficulties are very challenging, removing the button prompts that appear on the lower difficulty levels. These are for the most dedicated players though. Gamestyle will admit to not being the best when it comes to rhythm games and hardcore was a step too far for us, but it adds a nice extra level of difficulty for those that want it.

Much like Rock Band Blitz, there are various power ups that can be earned as you play, instead of single button presses, you can double tap a correct button and grab a bonus that floats above an enemy head, ranging from bonus points, multiplier increases, shields, etc. These will either help you get much higher scores, or keep your health intact.

Health plays a vital part of KickBeat, as it is also a beat-em-up mixed with a rhythm game, each time you mis-time an attack, you are left open to a counter by the enemy. Get hit too many times and you lose, but using the aforementioned power-ups, you can gain health or keep shielded.

There is a pretty decent range of music included with KickBeat, from artists such as Marilyn Manson and Pendulum. The included tracks work well with the main story mode, but you will want more, especially when you move out to the free-play mode. Luckily you can import your own music and play levels based entirely on that. We tried out some Jenny Lewis and also some Green Day and we did notice a distinct difference between the songs and how they played.

KickBeat isn’t a game that will stay with you for years, but the time you spend with it will be fun. It is a decent attempt at mixing up a genre that was getting tired. The ability to add your own music is a nice addition and adds a longevity to the game. It is more than worth your time and attention and another fine addition to the every growing Vita library.

STAN LEE POWERS UP IN LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES

The  LEGO® Marvel™ Super Heroes are calling for back-up from a comic book legend, the one and only Stan Lee! Check out Stan Lee in LEGO form and his Marvel super skills in action as he joins the cast of more than 100 playable Super Heroes and Super Villains from the Marvel Universe.

Well, he makes an appearance in most other Marvel related things, so why not here!

Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan Review

The forth edition of the Etrian Odyssey series, makes its debut on Nintendo 3DS. What can you expect from Legends of the Titan?

Anyone who has played an Etrian Odyssey game before will know exactly what to expect from this latest version. The turn-based combat, dungeon crawling RPG is as notoriously difficult as its predecessors. However the transition to 3DS has included a couple of changes designed to entice a new audience.

A casual mode as been added which supposedly should help ease new players into the series. In fairness to Atlus, they have managed to do this. The explanations early on are well crafted and do a fine job of making sure the player is informed as much as they need to be. What impressed most about the casual mode, was that it assumed a bit of player intelligence and doesn’t overly hold your hand. The game prepares you for what is to come and it is up to you how much help you really need.

It does cover everything from how to create a party, but without taking you through long boring screens of endless text, to how to use and draw your own maps. Veterans of the series aren’t forgotten either, as the casual mode is purely optional, meaning they can enjoy the games difficulty as originally intended.

Generally we at Gamestyle play our 3DS games with the 3D effect turned off and there is no exception in Etrian Odyssey IV, however we were impressed by the 3D visuals when we tried them. It added something to the gameplay experience rather than feeling like something tacked on for the hell of it, or poorly implemented. It added depth to the screen when navigating through the various mazes, which actually helped use the map too.

The gameplay does remain pretty much unchanged from the previous titles, which is nice as it it had a nice balance. The dungeon crawling and exploration is entertaining and any battles you take part in are challenging. With the ability to create a party from seven different classes, you can and should be prepared for any eventuality.

Being able to change the names of characters in your party is maybe a minor thing, but one that is incredibly useful. We found that remembering what class was ideal for what scenario could be a little tough, so renaming party members to something that was more relevant to us personally was ideal. Using names of members of your favourite sports team, film, tv show, band etc is a great way to jog your memory of who can do what.

Anyone who has played the Persona series will be at home with how the various world are laid out, as they combine larger labyrinths with floors that you will work through, taking on various enemy sets, leading to a harder boss at the end. That’s not to say that this aspect is exactly the same, just that it is one area that new players may feel comfortable with. There is a lot more depth to this part than there is in Persona, with interior levels contained within much larger over-worlds. It is very well structured and for sure there is plenty to take in.

There are some nice touches that will keep your interest and stops this being another by the book style JRPG. One that really stands out is the ability to use the touch screen to draw out your own maps as you move through the winding mazes. Whilst this seems like a daunting prospect early on, you start to find it second nature, as you plot your progress and if anything you find this element vital later in the game, This is one area where the dual screen of the 3DS works well and shows the system to be a perfect fit, as you aren’t having to switch away from one screen to load another, then back again. It helps the game flow nicely, rather than being a messy stop, start affair.

The game of course isn’t just about exploring and battling, as there are also elements of resource management, which works alongside the basic upgrading of characters, with stat boosts and basic longer term upgrades. Most of this is recognisable in other RPG games but is packaged well here. Etrian Odyssey IV is far from a short game and hours upon hours can be lost without actually doing much. That is no bad thing though and highlights how engaging the game actually is.

Etrian Odyssey IV is an example of just how engaging a JRPG can be, but also doesn’t stick exclusively to the traditional roots. It is accessible, but the difficulty remains, as it blends what the genre does best with modern elements making sure it finds a wider audience. Whether you are a series veteran or coming in fresh, this is a wonderful game to get stuck in to.

Mafia II Review

It’s a tough time being a Mafia member, if you’re not getting shot at from a million different angles you’re picking up your drunken friends from the bar, selling cigarettes on street corners or robbing jewellery stores. Poor Vito Scaletta has a tough time ahead of him in Mafia II’s world of crime, murder and betrayal.

Coming eight years after the original a lot has changed in the world of open world shooters, from the size of the environment to the range of activities the player can get involved in. And while the city has the size, there’s very little to actually do in it. Side missions are non-existent and the open world seems to only exist to shepherd the player from one story mission to the next, sometimes getting in police chases along the way. The police chases themselves even lacking the tense action of something like Grand Theft Auto. The city of Empire Bay (Mafia II’s fictional New York) is left feeling disappointingly barren.

It does go to show how strong the main story is that the lack of side objectives were never that disappointing, mainly because we were always eager to reach the next story chapter. It may be as cliché ridden as you can get, but they still managed to make the story an enthralling experience. Each character in the game is never black and white, the city often being filled with sympathetic characters drawn into this world, or ones that are borderline psychotic. The protagonist Vito has such a story arc, starting off arriving from Italy to a run-down part of the city, soon finding himself in a life of crime. It’s from these humbles beginnings that you witness Vito rise the ranks of the Mafia. It’s not exactly on par with the gangster fiction you can find on the big screen, but it is the best alternative you can find in game form.

Being set around the 1950’s definitely gives the game a unique flavour. Cars from the period are represented, and what we imagine are true to their real life counterparts, can be difficult to handle. As the game begins during the winter the roads are completely snow covered and the early cars you’ll be driving aren’t particularly tuned well to take corners. However, the addition of classic music made the constant fights with the steering all the more bearable. No matter what you’re driving, cruising down the roads listening to Long Tall Sally can make any game great.

When Mafia II switches to shooting, much like the driving, there’s a slight learning curve as you get used to the feel of each weapon, but eventually it does click. Once again the era means you’ll be handling old school pistols and tommy guns while making the best use of cover. If there’s one issue with the combat it’s the use of a black and white damage effect. Even taking a couple of hits and with half your health remaining the screen fades to black and white. At first it’s all too easy to think you’re close to death; causing you to take your eyes off the prize, glance at your health which quickly leads to a few more bullets landing in your cranium.

Mafia II also features a fair bit of bare knuckle fist fights. It’s the simplest of systems and instead of choosing whether to engage in fisticuffs yourself the game decides for you. The game cutting to Vito with his fists up, pressing buttons to punch and counter, it’s not particularly impressive, and makes you want to just pull out a gun and shoot them Indiana Jones style.

Mafia II may not be the most technically impressive open world game you can find, but that’s not to say it doesn’t do what it does well. A solid gameplay framework built around a story of intrigue, betrayal and murder. The setting itself making it stand out amongst others on the market. So if you fancy trying out life as a mobster, it’s certainly worth your time and money.