How Sony Have The Complete Package

So, the PS4 has been released and the new generation is upon us. However, it isn’t just with their new console that Sony have got things right. They still have two members of the family that have plenty to offer.

When Sony introduced PS+ there was initially a bit of cynicism, it was just a way to get people to pay extra money to them, with a few discounts here and there, some early access and other little bits. However, that idea evolved and became one the the best decisions for the consumer they could have made.

The Instant Game Collection offers insane value for money, it doesn’t matter to the average gamer how money is made on this, the simple matter of fact is that, we, as gamers are getting amazing content for around £4 a month (cheaper if you purchase a 3 month or yearly package). Starting off by offering free games playable on the PS3, usually offering up a PS Mini, or PS1 and occasional PSN title, the service quickly grew to give full blown retail games also.

As time passed the quality of the games began to improve, before offering up PS Vita and eventually PS4 games also. What it did though, was breathe new life into a console that should be slowing down and coming to the end of its life. Recently the likes of DmC: Devil May Cry, Borderlands 2, Guacamelee, Need For Speed Most Wanted, GRID 2, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Remember Me, among so many others have come to the service. Most of those are less than a year old and will still set you back £20 in the shops.

It has made PS+ a must have for anyone owning a PS3, but Sony weren’t done there, don’t own a PS Vita? (you really should) Then you can still grab the Vita offerings and they are ready to add to you system when you pick one up. Uncharted: Golden Abysss, Soul Sacrifice, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Gravity Rush, Velocity Ultra, Street Fighter X Tekken, Lumines, Rayman Origins and so much more. All there waiting for you.

Even heading into the PS4 era, there are games from the very get go, Contrast and the best game on the new system in Resogun. There was meant to be a version of DriveClub, but the delay in the game’s release put pay to that for a while. Still though, it shows Sony has found something in PS+ and know they cannot drop it now. Whether the money from subs, or the word of mouth that has bought new people to the systems, it is doing something right for them.

With the PS4 offerings, it reminds us of the days of the SEGA Master System, with built in Alex Kidd, you get the console, which for most is a significant outlay and there is no need to buy software to get use out of it on day one, no need to even worry about bundles from retailers. Buy the console and with PS+ you already have games to play. It is a stroke of genius from a company that had severely lost its way when the PS3 released.

It isn’t just with PS+ that has made Sony the console gaming company of choice either, they continue to support the PS3 with some fantastic exclusives. In the final few months before the PS4 would hit the shelves, there was the stunning Puppeteer, and interesting Rain, and the outstanding experience of The Last Of Us, which as we stated here, is a game that will live with you to the day you die. What Naughty Dog pulled off with a system supposedly hitting its sell by date, was truly something.

But still, even with the PS4 now upon us, Sony are far from done with the aging system, there was the recent release of Gran Turismo 6 and even the upcoming exclusive in Persona 5. These are simply small quick port titles, these are fully fledged games that can shift systems. Gran Turismo is Sony, it has been a flagship franchise for them since the days of the PS1. Persona too is enough of a reason to keep the PS3 around.

When the jump was made from PS1 to PS2 and then from PS2 to PS3, it would pretty much see the older system relegated to a bedroom, or even the attic, with the intention to maybe go to it once in a while for a quick blast. With the jump from PS3 to PS4 however, we have found our gaming time has been an even split. We have yet to finish many of the games we own, whether that be through our own purchases, or those given to us through PS+. There is a huge backlog of some incredible titles. The desire it there to work through them, enjoy them and still get the most out of a system that despite all the flaws of the last seven years, just isn’t ready to retire.

When you talk about a hard life, you cannot ignore the PS Vita. A system that has been much maligned from all corners of the gaming world. Sales numbers have been mocked, the quality of the software on offer has taken a bashing and the age old ‘Vita has no games’ often gets spouted. Yet, for those that own one, they know what a glorious console the Vita is. It has some quality games on it and has become a haven for Indie titles, thanks mainly in part to Shahid Kamal Ahmad. The man who came from nowhere to become a rockstar on social media, the man who said “This game should be on the Vita, so this game will come to Vita” he made a promise and lived up to that promise.

We have the likes of Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark, Proteus, Velocity Ultra, Thomas Was Alone, Spelunky, Hotline Miami, Lone Survivor, The HD Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character and so much more. Thanks to this man’s vision and the team he works with, PC is no longer the go to place for something creative and different. Such was the success, that Sony themselves took this mantra to make sure their platforms would be easy for Indie developers to release their games, no longer bound by the risk management of publishers.

It is a revolution, it is changing the face of console gaming in a huge way. Other major revolutions haven’t always been for the better, not when you look at the likes of DLC and Online Passes, they have been there to be almost anti-consumer, from holding back content, to trying to stop the second hand market. In all honesty, gaming could have been in danger of falling to bits.

It shows how far Sony have come over the last couple of years. Looking at my living room and I see three Sony consoles and that is it at the moment. It is hard to pinpoint when the transition happened, but the 360 was being played less and less and when money needed to be raised to afford the PS4, it became the logical choice to sell that.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the 360. XBLA was an amazing thing and but for it, then maybe we wouldn’t have seen Sony pushing for the smaller Indie titles and other downloadable offerings. XBLA had a 2-3 year period where it was on fire and it was sad to see those games just go, but in all honesty I knew the PS4 was my next console and I was playing the PS3 a lot more than the 360, even picking up NHL on Sony’s machine for the very first time. I do hope to revisit the 360 at some point, I still have unfinished business on there.

But I look forward now, over the past month or so I have jumped back and forth between the PS4 and Ps3, a little Resogun here, some Puppeteer there. Playing Killzone via remote play on the Vita whilst my son plays some NHL or Need For Speed on the PS3. Taking the Vita with me whilst out and about, playing a little of Treasures of Montezuma Blitz, or Everybody’s Golf (among others). Hell, even playing some Knack from the ice rink whilst my son does his hockey training.

For the first time, it feels like there is a full transition between generations, it isn’t simply a case of out with the old and in with the new, not when the old still has so much to offer. Anyone who made the jump from the XBOX to Playstation for their next console should really consider picking up a PS3 and most definitely Vita also, you are missing out on so much if you don’t.

Zen Pinball 2 Review

You know how it is, you wait for a Pinball game then two come along at once. 

Whilst The Pinball Arcade does a fine job of recreating real world tables, the team behind Zen Pinball took a different approach. This is more of a videogame pinball experience, but by no means does it offer up any less, nor any more of said experience.

By not handcuffing themselves to already existing tables, Zen Pinball 2 can do a lot more and offer up a lot of extra variation. The tables on offer as still as varied, but they are based on various licences that aren’t immediately pinball related. Tables are influenced by licenses from Marvel, Star Wars and more.

It isn’t just licenses that matter, as there are also a few tables that are created from scratch and given their own theme. Like The Pinball Arcade, you can get the base game and can add tables at your leisure. If you have owned any of the tables on the Ps3 or Vita versions of the game, then you get a free upgrade to the Ps4 version, which is a stunning deal, fans will have an immediate library from the very get go.

Because this is more of a videogame experience, the tables do play and react differently to those in The Pinball Arcade, they also look a lot closer to computer generated graphics, but that is fine. There is a lot more going on with each table, using some creative licence to add some extra effects. Characters that appear initially to be part of the table can move around freely, even coming away from the table completely, moving to another section, etc.

It works though, you are drawn in and goals you need to complete are easier to spot, thanks to these added animations. Spotting that you need to do something to cause a reaction from a character on the Blade table for example will cause a visible reaction that is more than simply lights and sounds.

Zen Pinball 2 is also a much more social experience, as you get real time feedback on how your scores compare to friends, or even you own. You get visual clues as to how close you are to achieving something, such as a countdown to a certain score, whether that be a friends, you weekly best, personal best and more. It makes this a much less lonely affair and the integration is sublime.

It isn’t just while you are playing either that the game tries to reward or tease you. After you finish a session you are given a list of score updates, that include your score for that session, adding that to a bunch of additional multipliers, that can be for the amount of tables played, the amount of friends you beat, that sort of thing. It tempts you into going back again and again.

Whilst the table list is mainly filled with Marvel and Star Wars, the variety in the tables is impressive, each one has its own unique feel and does require a different approach. You never feel like you are playing the same table with simply a different skin, which again really does mean the developers need credit here.

There is also the option to play tables in 3D and whilst for the most part 3D is a needless gimmick, it does wonders for some of the tables in the release packs. The feeling of depth is amazing and really does allow you to judge the positioning and speed of a ball better than you can in 2D. It is a better experience for the 3D and it is not often that can be said.

Hopefully there will be more tables released periodically, because, as a platform Zen Pinball 2 is wonderful. It is a frankly sublime overall package and an example of how to make worthwhile DLC. It could have been so much easier to charge a base price for the game, then bring out a sequel down the line with new tables, but being able to add new tables on a semu regular basis is so much better here. You are happy to pay a much smaller price per table than having to pay out all in one go.

Zen Pinball 2 is the game for the more casual fan, but pinball enthusiasts will also have a great time, despite the physics not quite being 100% realistic. The buttery smooth 60fps in 1080p also does wonders for the experience and this is the best version of a Zen made pinball game yet.

The Pinball Arcade Review

Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve played the silver ball. From Soho down to Brighton. I must have played them all.

The Pinball Arcade isn’t a new release as such, having previously seeing the light of day on XBLA, PS3, Vita, iOS and more. The team at Farsight had one single goal…To bring the world’s best pinball tables in history to a whole new audience.

That’s the thing with Pinball, you are relying on a local arcade having those tables. Even if they do have them, you aren’t guaranteed they’ll be working properly, as they take a hell of a lot of maintenance, due to all the moving parts that can go wrong. It sometimes isn’t worth it for a business, especially these days, when playing second fiddle to the latest arcade games is a bit of a stretch.

The other option is to have your own table, but again it is an expensive option and even if you just had the one or two, that will mean you are missing out on the many others that are out there. That is the benefit of The Pinball Arcade, you have a ton of tables at your finger tips, without the worry of keeping them working yourself.

Since the original release there have been a steady trickle of tables added to the collection, so much so they have been able to offer up a package of tables, with Season 1 available on PS4 now and Season 2 to come soon. We take a look at the first set to see the light of day on the new consoles.

Season 1 offers 22 tables, covering packs one through ten and there is a decent amount of variation on offer, covering many years. From the simplicity of Big Shot to the more modern day Star Trek: The Next Generation. Each and every table has been lovingly recreated and the attention to detail is phenomenal.

Whilst the power of the Ps4 may not be immediately obvious on a pinball game, when you compare to the PS3 version side by side, the differences are there. The Ps4 offerings look stunning, the lighting is where it really stands out and comes that much closer to the the tables looking real.

Things not only look better, they feel better too, with the physics and framerate being much improved over the previous editions. It is this improved framerate more than anything that makes things all that much more natural feeling, especially to someone who has experience with real life tables.

It isn’t without issues though, there have been numerous crashes on various tables and on occasions you could be in the middle of a great round and the game will stutter and freeze momentarily. However, these issues are rare in comparison to the amount of time you’ll spend playing and will hopefully be patched at a later date.

Chances are you might have bought some of the tables on other platforms, but if you want the PS4 versions, you need to buy them all over again. You do get a discount if you have tables on the PS3 or Vita, but you do really need to be a fan of pinball to want to buy the same tables yet again. The season packs are offering decent value for money though and if you are a fan, you will really appreciate the upgrades.

To get the most out of a table, you need to play it, to learn it and in the end master it. With eighteen tables in the Season 1 pack, it can be a little overwhelming at first, but you soon find a favourite and gravitate towards it more and more. You will play through all of them at least once, it is just something you will do, but when you find a particular table you like, you will spend a lot of time with it. You master that table, then you move on to another and spend a lot of time with that one also.

The Season 2 option is there to tease you, you cannot get any tables from that pack yet and in truth, you won’t really mind, there is plenty to keep you going for a very long time.

The Pinball Arcade is the closest you will get to playing a real life table in the flesh, without hunting one down that works, or spending out a ton of money on getting your own. The new version is worth getting for if you are happy to spend out again on the same tables, with the discount just about hitting the right spot. It isn’t one for those who fancy a casual foray into pinball, but more those who love the pastime.

The Walking Dead: Season Two Episode 1 – All That Remains Review

It’s understandable that people were sceptical when it was revealed that players would be taking control of Clementine in the second season of Telltale’s multi-game of the year winning The Walking Dead. As Lee, you were her protector, and it forged one of the best character relationships yet seen in a video game. After completing the first episode of season two, we can now understand why Telltale chose to put the player in the shoes of Clementine. This is no longer the young, innocent girl you once knew.

No longer being able to hide behind Lee, Clementine is at the forefront of all the difficult choices. And despite this just being the beginning, there are still plenty of hard decisions that must be made. It’s really hard to go too in depth as much like the first season the story is why you will want to experience The Walking Dead. Let’s just say the events of season one have definitely shaped Clementine into a more capable character, and she needs to be in order to survive and do what needs to be done. One scene in particular made us actually grimace before looking away from the screen. Even with the comic book aesthetic it’s a lot more brutal than your traditional ‘realistic’ games.

If you’ve played season one then you know that The Walking Dead has a distinct visual style. It’s wonderful to look at, but much like the previous season, the game engine is a little wonky in places. Playing on the PS3 version the game does have terrible framerate issues when transitioning into each scene. It ruins the flow somewhat, particularly during the big action sequences. On the plus side, we didn’t encounter any graphical issues in the few hours it took us to complete. Unlike last season where one character appeared deformed and at one point in the story all of our on screen prompts disappeared causing us to restart and lose progress. So it’s at least improving somewhat, but with the amount of talent Telltale now has (well, they should have with the amount of new licenses they’re taking on) we’d expect a little more of a technical improvement.

But with storytelling as impressive as this it’s easy to look past any technical grievances. Dialogue feels incredibly natural with, once again, some top notch voice acting from all involved. Episode one does introduce a number of new characters to the fold, some more successfully than others. If you ask us now to name all the new people then we would struggle, as only a few are given much in the way of character development. But then this is episode one. There will be plenty of time to get to know these characters, and maybe even like them, before they cruelly get snatched away in typical Walking Dead fashion.

The core gameplay remains largely unchanged from season one. You could call it an evolution of the point and click genre as controlling Clementine you’ll be finding objects in the environment to use, examining stuff and performing general QTE sections when things go badly (most of the time). The QTE’s sometimes coming out of nowhere, meaning there is no downtime in this post-apocalyptic world. While QTE’s are largely considered one of gamers least favourite gameplay aspects, in The Walking Dead they’re always used sparingly and at the right times. Unlike say Beyond: Two Souls where on-screen actions rarely relate to what you’re doing on the controller.

All That Remains is a great start to what is hopefully a fantastic new chapter in The Walking Dead saga. It’s well paced, has a number of memorable scenes and already has you making the tough choices. Let’s hope it can keep the quality this high throughout.

Backgammon Blitz Review

Backgammon is the oldest game in the world. Archaeologists found sets when they excavated the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia. Five thousand years old. That’s older than Jesus Christ… Their dice were made of bones. Two players, two sides. One is light, one is dark.

Yes we quoted John Locke from TV’s Lost. We love Backgammon though, it really is a fantastic game of strategy that utilizes the chaos of the dice into that strategy, rather than relying on it for luck. It feels though, that in the modern age, it has lost out more than some of the other classic games like Chess.

We don’t mean that in the “back in my day we had games like Backgammon, you had to interact with someone in a battle of the mind, you kids theses days just shoot each other” way. But there does seem to be a lack of focus on what are some of the greatest games, digital or otherwise there have ever been.

The main reason for this, is that classic board games need people who share the same interest to find time to be together in the same room. However, of late there have been ways to bring these games back, digitally. Pure Chess did a great job of just taking the game of Chess and allowing people to play as the game was intended. The same is true for the most part with Backgammon Blitz.

The game is split into two main versions, classic and Blitz. The classic mode is pure Backgammon, nothing more nothing less. If you like Backgammon, then you will love this, it is a perfect recreation of a classic game. It doesn’t want to be anything different at all.

Blitz mode tries to change things up a bit. Seemingly trying to make the game seem cool to a new crowd. The core game is the basically the same, the rules are the same, but it throws powerups into the mix. These will range from stopping the opponent taking one of your pieces, to swapping pieces on the board. This is supposedly meant to switch any particular battle on its head in an instance. It can be an interesting change for a bit, but it is something that really isn’t needed.

What this does is changes the strategic aspect of the game too far. The main reason for this, is the introduction of Blitz Bullion, which is an ingame currency that is needed to use the various powerups. Now this is less of an issue during offline play, but online it can be somewhat of a pain, as the player with the bigger bank can use the better powerups, which destroys the level playing field that is vital to a game like this.

Before getting further into online play, we must pick up a bit on the Blitz Bullion. There are micro-transactions and at first we were suspect that this would mean that you are forced into paying to play after a certain point. However this isn’t the case thankfully, the classic mode is completely free of any of the currency mechanic. It is something that only affects the Blitz mode.

Again, despite the bullion being something central to this mode, you earn this throughout each game, for making good moves, taking opponents pieces, getting your pieces home, any number of things. In one offline game we earned over 500 in bullion, which would allow you to use a number of powerups. The ability to purchase bullion though is what causes the imbalance online at times, but it is only a minimal effect and after a while you will have a decent balance with no extra money being paid.

Anyway, enough about that. Whilst playing Backgammon against the AI is fun and challenging, it is a game you really want to play against other human opponents. The PS4 and PS Vita versions aren’t cross-buy, but they are cross-play, which opens up the chances of finding an opponent online.

You can play against either friends, or find a random partner via the leaderboards. It uses a play-by-mail style format, where one person will take their go, send the data and wait for their opponent to take theirs. It works really well for the most part and allows you to have many games on the go at once.

Games can last days, but it is always nice to turn the game on, see you have a few moves to make, across a number of games. However it would be nice to have the ability to play live against someone, but it could be worse. Added to the online play is local multiplayer, which whilst seeming like a small addition, is something not to be overlooked.

On the PS4 you can use two controllers, but it hasn’t been forgotten on the Vita either, allowing you to play two player using the hot potato method. Added to all of that, you can play using remote play with one on the Vita whilst the other uses the PS4 controller. It makes the game accessible from all angles.

The only shame with regards to this though, is that it isn’t cross-save, meaning you can’t jump between each depending on your situation. You start a game on the PS4 and you are stuck playing that game on the PS4, no jumping to the Vita to carry on whilst on the move. It feels a missed opportunity, but not one that ruins everything.

Whilst Backgammon Blitz isn’t going to all of sudden bring the masses flooding to the game, it is a very faithful recreation and one that anyone with an interest in Backgammon will get plenty of joy from. If it can reach a new audience, then all the better.

BIT.TRIP Presents…Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien Review

Now that is a title! Runner 2 is the sequel to the fantastic BIT.TRIP.Runner that has seen releases for just about every format under the sun. We check out the PS Vita release.

If you’ve never played the original Runner, then it is a pretty simple affair. You take control of Commander Video and run from left to right avoiding obstacles. In a world of endless runners, this was pretty much a standout game, as it had a much better structure. Runner 2 takes the same premise and well…runs with it.

Runner wasn’t only simple to play, it had a very basic look to go with it. The game was lovely and colourful and a joy to look and and play. Runner 2 is very much the same, with near identical mechanics but it has been given a lovely makeover. The visuals appear as though they have had a lot more time on them, with backgrounds, level design and general feel, coming across as much more up to date game.

There are things going on in the background, that you will not initially pick up on, but just add to the overall immersion. You are concentrating on Commander Video and the obstacles that are there to ruin your run, so you simply soak up everything else that is going on, on an almost subconscious level. We only noticed properly when making a point of looking for it.

As said the mechanics are as you’d expect, if you had given the original your attention. Running from left to right, avoiding obstacles by jumping, sliding, blocking, dancing. Yes dancing! Instead of throwing all these mechanics at you from the very first level, the game introduces you to each aspect bit by bit, giving you a few levels to really get used to how they work.

Initially the game starts off fairly easy, you can complete runs with comparative ease and usually without death. However, as you progress through levels and then the various worlds, things become all that much more difficult. It becomes a case of trial and error, mixed with reaction times and good memory. The trial and error isn’t badly implemented though, it is designed around it, you play a level, you’ll die at a point, but then go back again and remember that section and how to take it on. Go further, maybe die again.

It is a system that works really well, but it isn’t just getting to the end  to complete the game. There is also a high score mechanic to go with it. Jump over an enemy, slide under an enemy, collect gold, crates, keys, etc and you are given points. These all rack up for a final total at the end of each level. When things like Dance are added to the mix, you can really boost that score. Dancing gives you points and you want to bust those moves as much as possible throughout each level.

Doing so is easier said than done though, as a dance move needs to get to a certain point before a jump or slide command can then be entered. We are only talking fractions of a second here, but when this is a game that tests your reactions, getting the balance right is vital.

As you are introduced to the new mechanics, you start to understand how those earlier unobtainable scores are possible and you go back to reach them. There are 100 levels in the game, plus 25 retro levels (which can be obtained by collecting secret cartridges in certain levels), each level has an easy, just right, or hard setting and any can be played at any time.

There is a lot of content here and great value for your money. There aren’t really any sections that are lacking and throughout your time with the game, you’ll have a blast. Well we say a blast, there will be moments or utter frustration, as you fail sections again and again. But much like something like Trials HD, the frustration never gets in the way of your overall enjoyment. It isn’t something easy to pull off, but the team at Gaijin have done just that.

Runner 2 is a wonderful game, one that will last you and age as you want nothing more but to rinse every last bit of enjoyment from a wonderfully crafted experience. Once you beat every level, complete every goal, you’ll be going after those top scores, the closer you get, the harder you want to try. Pick this up right now.

 

Doki Doki Universe Review

Doki Doki Universe is a new Indie title for the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita that is about discovery and learning about humanity.

When you look at films, TV, music and even literature, these are often broken up into more than simple genres. They aren’t limited to simply being comedy, horror, action, romance, etc. The genres are often merged and intertwined based on the story and the audience they are aimed at.

A family film can often be as scary as one aimed at adults only. Labyrinth can be as unsettling as something like an Amityville Horror. A comedy aimed at kids can have you laughing as much as something with more of an adult theme. N0t every piece of media needs to pigeon-hole its audience, music, film and TV are inclusive. Sure they may be passive experiences, but they allow everyone to join in.

Games, whilst not being passive, can feel very exclusive. Playing games like a Resident Evil, or Battlefield will often mean finding time when the kids aren’t around. Your partner may get bored with you playing your 600th game of NHL or FIFA. They aren’t always involving for the other members of the house-hold.

This is where Doki Doki Universe comes in. It is a casual game, but it is one that works for bringing the family into your hobby, it makes gaming an inclusive activity for all types of players.

Gamestyle spent a lot of time playing this in the company of family, which is squarely where this game is aimed. It is an ideal title to sit down on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy for a couple of hours. Swapping the controller between each person in the living room, enjoying what the game has to offer.

It is a plot driven game, where you take on the role of a robot called QT3, who having been abandoned by his family, finds out he maybe taken out of production and taken for reprogramming… Which means destroyed! He is given a chance though, if he can learn about humanity, he can be saved from this fate.

To do this he must travel to different planets and undertake various tasks, helping the inhabitants on each planet. Each one he visits has a different setting and a different set of problems. Speaking to the inhabitants will reveal things about themselves and others, they will give you minor tasks that will be part of a bigger overall story. Complete these tasks and you will be greeted by Alien Jeff who will try and find out what you have learned, in the hope you can avoid reprogramming.

Tasks are often simple and require simply going back and forth between characters, speaking to them and learning more about them, this is backed up by often needing to find something, or do something to help one of them. Such as allowing a woman to get the ability to communicate with her dead husband.

The items that character require are given to them via summoning objects. These are found from a bubble in your personal menu and will often be as simple as finding outright what a character is after. For example, someone you may need information from, will say they like something of a certain colour, therefore in your summoning bubble you find something that matches what they want.

It is all very straightforward initially, but as you explore more planets, you find that getting the items you need require you to go elsewhere, do tasks on other planets, before returning to finishing off what you were doing on the original planet. It isn’t really going to test your abilities too much, but the fun comes from going through these tasks with others in the room.

This isn’t a co-op game in the truest sense of the word, you don’t have multiple people with controllers, all doing different things on the screen, it is only single player in that respect. But being handed a task and getting input from others as to where you are to go, or remembering where you did that thing makes it a very social experience.

Aside from completing tasks to complete planets and obtaining new summoning items, these can also be found in the form of hidden presents, which are either hidden behind scenery or given to you by characters when you have made them happy enough, or annoyed them enough so that they give up what they are holding. Seeing to ticks on a planet, showing you have done everything you can is a great feeling of accomplishment.

It’s not just on planets you visit where there are things to do. You have a home planet that you can decorate, usually with rewards earned from completing tasks on your journey. You can be evaluated from Dr Therapist after visiting numerous planets to get personality reports. Presents are littered around space, as well as asteroids that will have quick personality tests on them.

These personality tests are quirky visual questions that are meant to be able to tell you the sort of person you are and we must admit that at times, it seemed to nail us down to a tee. Other times it seemed very wide of the mark, so don’t be too reliant on these as some kind of moral barometer.

There are a lot of planets to discover and many, many asteroids and presents dotted around as you travel among them, which makes the game feel very impressive in terms of content, which is great as it means it isn’t a title that will be finished in a single session. The pacing has some issues in certain respects, but because of the amount there is to do, it is one that will last you a long time, especially if you set aside the time to only play it with your family, whether that be in short bursts, or for the odd longer session.

The game overall feels like there is an influence from the likes of Toe Jam & Earl, which considering it is by the same creator, shouldn’t be a surprise. The structure is different to TJ&E and Doki Doki Universe is designed to be a lot more approachable from the get go, however that does cause some pacing issues.

This comes from it having somewhat of a slow start which can get a little repetitive and overly simplistic, even for a child, it tries  to be something everyone can play and be accessible to everyone, however that does have a little bit of a downside and comes across as though it doesn’t trust its audience to understand things from a gaming mechanics side. It really wants to hold your hand, rather than letting you go on a journey of discovery for yourself.

It isn’t something that lasts though and soon enough, it does let go and goes a lot deeper, but the time it takes to allow that, can be off putting initially. It is worth persevering though because there aren’t many games out there that can bring the family together round the TV like a good film can.

This though is one that can, having a child point out where you should go next, or asking questions about why certain things are happening, shows that they are learning from the game and having a good time. When the entire family have lost a few hours to the same game at the same time, it must be doing something right.

What works though is going from initial sessions of one to two hours at the weekend, was the fact that it worked as an after tea blast too. twenty to thirty minutes doing a couple of tasks on Doki Doki Universe is a lot more rewarding than sitting down infront of some show that the kid will watch, while you bury your head into the computer, or your partner is reading a book. Half an hour of family time doing something that requires you all to communicate is a great idea.

Doki Doki Universe isn’t going to appeal to everyone, it isn’t a game that pushes the limits of what is possible, but it is a nice family friendly game that you can go back to time and time again. A game that allows you and your closest to share an experience in a medium that can often be exclusive to outsiders.

Saints Row IV: How The Saints Save Christmas Review

It was always going to be hard for the latest Saints Row IV DLC to live up to the brilliant name. And sadly, live up to it, it hasn’t. Even the worst moments of Saints Row IV are at least aided by its excellent sense of humour, something this DLC is sadly lacking.

Christmas time has arrived for the Saints and the festive cheer is somewhat ruined by the arrival of Future Shaundi who requests your help to rescue Santa from inside the simulation. Cue fighting off gingerbread men, elves and robots all across Steelport and even the North Pole. You’d think with so much material from a billion Christmas movies there’s a ton here to pull from to create a fun, funny adventure. And yet, there’s very little.

A lot of the movie nods (some of which are seen in the trailer) are actually from the last five minutes of the DLC with the majority of time spent doing missions alongside Future Shaundi and Santa Claus. Not particularly interesting ones either, go here, kill some guys, rinse and repeat. The only mission that is remotely different has you pilot a sleigh, delivering presents and generally spreading cheer.

The core Saints Row gameplay insanity is present, and there are the addition of new weapons (Xmas themed dubstep gun!) and vehicles, but it still all feels very rushed. Obviously with a game themed around Christmas this needed to be out of the door as soon as the holiday season approached. Then again maybe it would add to the stupid, dumb world of Saints Row to add more missions, polish and then release it during the Summer.

There’s not really a lot left to say. This is the second (and final) piece of story DLC in the Season Pass and despite Enter the Dominatrix fairing better, as far as post-game content goes it’s all been a little underwhelming. It’s also incredibly short, half the time of Enter the Dominatrix with only three missions, making the stand-alone price tag of £5.49 quite laughable. As big fans of Saints Row IV it saddens us to say it, but this DLC is best avoided.

Terraria Review

A sandbox game of discovery and crafting. The long time PC darling Terraria makes its long awaited debut on Sony’s PS Vita.

Terraria has often been described as a 2D Minecraft, however that would be doing it a bit of a disservice. Whilst there are many similarities, Terraria offers more of a game than Mojang’s title.

The things that are similar to Minecraft work really well. There are the randomly built worlds, that can be played online or completely on your own. You have the day night cycle, crafting, wandering, resource management and it is a game that lets you run wild with your imagination.

However, unlike Minecraft there is more of an endgame, there are quests of sorts that give you a bit of direction, there is even an end boss should you choose to take it that far. But whether you choose to do any of that is completely up to you. That is the beauty of a game like this and how sandbox should be done.

Completing certain tasks will bring various NPC’s into your world, who can occupy the various buildings you may or may not have bothered building. Enemies seem to arrive frequently too and must be dealt with, which can become a bit of a pain, but usually can be fended off with ease. Destroying the enemies is worthwhile though, as they will drop loot that becomes vital to crafting, some of the bigger boss enemies will drop much rarer loot.

Should you choose to take a game as far as you possibly can,you can unlock hard mode, which is pretty much more of the same, but with harder enemies and bosses to deal with, but with that better rewards for crafting yet more items. Which is an interesting mechanic, because as said, it is sandbox, you can ignore all this, but by pushing forward, you can get so much more to play with.

Despite being totally 2D doesn’t hamper the creativity one bit. You will start by building a simple hut, purely because that is the best you can manage before it gets dark and the danger arrives, but soon after you gather more wood, ore, stone, etc and your creative juices start to flow.

Gamestyle started with a small hut for safety, but decided to dig deeper into the hill we were nestled against, and pretty soon that hut turned into a house, which then had extra levels added to it, before becoming something of a mansion. Rooms had lighting, some got given furniture but then something else was realised.

By digging down, it was possible to get to some rarer materials, so at the back of our newly built mansion, we built a special room that led into a series of mining tunnels, that took us deeper into the  map. This wasn’t something that happened in a quick play through though, this was hours, upon hours of gameplay. Going a bit further, gathering those resources, doing a bit more crafting, going back down the mines, further discovery and so on.

It became so easy to forget what you were meant to be doing and what initially set you on this journey you were on. A few days in (in real time) and barely was any of the game actually touched. At one point it became apparent that our mining tunnels had taken us back to the surface, right by a lake, the perfect place to build another structure… so that’ll be another few days lost then.

Whilst initially impressed by our own journey, it paled in significance when looking at the internet and seeing what others had accomplished, homes that made our own look like a mud hut were bad enough, but other people had just gone for broke with the creativity. There are literal works of art out there and can only serve to inspire.

That is what Terraria is all about though, allowing you to use this world how you want, there aren’t any real constraints in place, but at the same time, it sees itself as a game and should you choose to push through to a completion, then that is fine too and that end game is in place for those that seek it out.

This is a game that has been about a while on PC, 360 and PS3 but the Vita version offers up something of its own. The screen is smaller, which can be a pain with some aiming being a little clumsy, but the use of the touch screen to navigate section works really well and does away with some of the minor frustrations of navigation on other console versions.

Being on the Vita, means you can simply pick up the console, play for a bit, put it to sleep and return later. This is ideal for playing during quick work breaks, or on the bus, etc. There is also the ability to cross-play and cross-save, which means that you can spend time on the PS3 version when you have that spare time, then upload your save and maybe work on those smaller details whilst out and about, or whilst the TV is in use.

Terraria really is a joy to play, you can spend hours, upon hours doing things and seemingly get nowhere. But that works, it isn’t a stressful game, it is very relaxing and something that will become a permanent fixture in your gaming life. The possibilities are endless and the only barrier is your own imagination.

Rainbow Moon Review

Over the many hours put into Rainbow Moon you could say it generated a love/hate relationship. For every moment where it oozed enjoyment it wasn’t long before a wall was hit and the long, hard grind began. Obviously grinding has always been a part of a turn based RPG, but never has it been so prevalent than in Rainbow Moon.

Right from the off you’re given two difficulty options (Normal and Hard). Normal difficulty is described as the default setting, one that you can go through the main story without extra levelling, whereas the hard difficulty is for those that “love grinding”. Naturally we chose normal and from there a further four difficulty options appeared. “Careful and secured” gives the player some equipment to start off with, “well supported” gives the player some Rainbow Coins (used as currency in Rainbow Moon), “Forward looking” giving the player a number of potions and torches, and finally “Adventuresome”, giving the player nothing at all. There has definitely been some effort put into trying to tailor it to each kind of player.

The problem with Rainbow Moon became obvious right at the start. Despite choosing normal difficulty the first few hours of Rainbow Moon require an incredible amount of grinding when compared to other tactical turn based RPG’s. It became a slog, particularly when levelling up is a painfully slow process. It’s a slow start, but once you pass the three hour mark and finally set sail from the starting island to the larger landmass to the west the game does start to show signs of life. Newer equipment is able to be bought, newer characters are added to your party and by this point you’ll have acquired enough experience to upgrade a few of your skills.

Unfortunately with this type of game you’d expect the story to give you enough of a hook to carry on playing till its conclusion. This is one of Rainbow Moon’s weakest areas as the story is almost non-existent. It starts off simple as the hero of the story Baldren is thrown through a teleport circle by his rival Namoris, landing in the world of Rainbow Moon that has now been infested with monsters. Naturally everyone blames Baldren for this. This is what seems like an okay basic setup, but it doesn’t really go anywhere from this point. Side missions aren’t much to shout about either, with NPC’s sounding like something you’d get in a Fable game and the missions themselves consisting largely of fetch quests. On the plus side, at least the battle system is interesting.

Taking place on a grid each character and enemy takes turns to move, recruiting new characters as the game progress, what at first starts off as hitting the attack button until someone falls down does quickly turn into something more tactical. But again, the difficulty is a little uneven. While at certain points in the game you can be ploughing through enemies, it won’t be long before the difficulty spikes and you’re forced to grind. One of the best aspects of Rainbow Moon is that random battles can be ignored if you so wish. While on the map there will be enemies that you see wandering around, at times it will pop up on the bottom of the screen that you can enter an encounter. Or you can just ignore it and carry on to the next location.

There’s no denying that Rainbow Moon is an exceptionally gorgeous game. Visuals are crisp and colourful, looking wonderful on the Vita’s display. Menus are also nicely done, offering the player enough information without overwhelming them. It’s just a shame that for every moment when we start to embrace Rainbow Moon it’s not long before we want to turn it off in a fit of rage. At least you can save at any point in the game, and healers are plentiful, making it far less frustrating than it would’ve been otherwise.

There’s a good game somewhere in the depths of Rainbow Moon, but some odd design decisions really hold back what could’ve been a nice tactical RPG for the Vita. If you’re the kind of person who loves to grind then maybe, just maybe, Rainbow Moon is worth taking a look at. For everyone else though, there are sure to be better alternatives.

Adam’s Best of 2013

As 2013 draws to a close I’ve decided to look back on what my favourite games of the past twelve months were. It’s been an absolutely fantastic year for gaming, with a whole heap of great games across all platforms. There are a ton of games that I would’ve loved to put on the list (Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite being two of them), but I finally managed to whittle it down to a Top 5. So, in no particular order as I’m incredibly indecisive, here are my favourite games of 2013.

Persona 4: Golden

While the US and Japanese markets managed to get Persona 4: Golden in 2012, us Europeans had to wait till February 2013 before getting our hands on the Vita’s greatest game. Now I’m not a huge JRPG guy, having tried a number of Final Fantasy’s and their like, but there’s something about the Persona series (mainly 3 and 4) that bring in those who aren’t fans of the genre.

Everything about Persona 4 Golden is masterful in its design. From the deep, yet simple combat, to the insane and gripping story. The original PS2 version of Persona 4 was great, yet with Golden they’ve took what criticisms the original had and the ironed them out to perfection. New characters with their own sub-plots that play into the overall tale, new special features (our favourite being songs played at Persona Live concerts in Japan) and even new locations to explore. This is the reason you need a Vita.

Grand Theft Auto V

I was a little late to the party with GTAV, having only completed it a couple of weeks ago, and I’m glad I eventually went to it before the years end. The world of Los Santos is just so wonderfully realised that it’s an absolute joy to cruise along the streets to each mission. It’s probably the best open world sandbox ever created. The only downside came from the dialogue between Lamarr and Franklin. Maybe I’I’m just getting old, but the constant swearing became stale after the second cut scene.

Rockstar clearly getting the last bit of power out of the current consoles, it’s going to be interesting to see what they manage on PS4 and Xbox One.

Saints Row IV

While GTA V is the semi-serious sandbox world, Saints Row has gone in the complete opposite direction. From its initial beginning as a straight up GTA clone it’s morphed into something entirely different, with the latest release Saints Row IV being the craziest game yet. The end of the world is just the beginning as your character (The President of the United States) is thrust into a virtual reality world once Earth gets blown to bits in order to stop a bunch of evil aliens.

Comedy is a subjective thing; I feel Saints Row IV certainly hit more times than it missed, with some of the best use of licensed music you’ll find this year. And we should probably mention that while you are the President, the Vice President is none other than Keith David playing himself. It’s a weird game that feels like it was made by a bunch of crazy people in some sort of drug induced haze.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

The third open world game to make my list is from an unusual source. Even with the PS4 and Xbox One released around the same time, this was the game I was most interested in.

Essentially giving the player the ability to buy or rent all the items needed near the beginning of the game is a genius move. Allowing you to tackle the dungeons in whichever order you wish. This unfamiliar structure matched with the familiar world of Hyrule from A Link to the Past makes this one of the best handheld Zelda’s you can buy.

The Last of Us

One of the most anticipated games of the year did the unthinkable and actually lived up to that expectation. A post-apocalyptic world where a fungal disease has infected the majority of the human race turning them into zombie-like creatures, your job as Joel is to take Ellie on a journey across the country to hopefully a find a cure.

The relationship between the main characters Joel and Ellie is really the driving force behind the game. Acted superbly by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, never before has there been such a lifelike, human interaction between two game characters. It’s a journey that I was thinking about well after the credits rolled. A sign of a great game if ever there was one.

Resogun Review

Resogun from developers Housemarque is a high-score shooter and one of the best release titles on the PS4.

When next gen consoles were announced, gamers were treated to some excellent looking games, many with some excellent graphical upgrades, such as Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag and Battlefield 4. As well as some new additions to already existing franchises, such as Infamous: Second Son and the odd new IP in games like Knack.

The standout title though is a relatively small game that showed more about the direction of the PS4 than any AAA title could. The aforementioned games are fine titles, but many of them are essentially slight upgrades on those released on the PS3 and 360. Even the new games, like Knack haven’t set the world on fire and have been poorly received by many corners (unfairly in our opinion). With Resogun though, it shows the new attitude that Sony have and how they are all about bringing great games to the system.

Resogun is essentially their flagship launch title, they wanted it in the hands of everyone who bought the console. They did this by having it as the launch game for PS+ on PS4, the new worlds version of having Alex Kidd in Miracle World as a built in game on the SEGA Master System. Depending on your definition of what they are, this is considered an Indie game, albeit one funded and supported by Sony themselves.

Housemarque have taken a lot of influence from games in the past for this, as Resogun has a little of Defender in it, a bit Geometry Wars and their own previous game Super Stardust. It is a simple to pick up high score shooter, nothing more, nothing less. But what makes it special? Why is it the best game of the launch?

Well it boils down to that simplicity, anyone can pick the game up and play, from your seasoned gamer, to a child or a family member who may dabble with the odd casual game. Thinking back to some of the most popular and successful titles in gaming history, you will notice a common theme. Each of them have really simple mechanics and can be played by anyone from the moment they first start.

Tetris was clear, you moved blocks to create lines and clear them, Pacman, you cleared the level by eating the pellets, Donkey Kong, you reached the top of the level to save the princess. All of these games were clear in their goal, but what kept people coming back was two things.

Yes they were easy to pick up, but to master them required something else, you had to spend time playing them, improving each time you played. Why though? Why did you want to master these games? The answer to that is simple… High Score! It is human nature to want to be the best at something and with high score chasing games, you had that leaderboard, you saw who was better than you the moment your game ended. You had to play again, to beat that person above you.

Resogun has this feeling too. It is simple to pick up and play, moving the ship with the left stick and shooting with the right. If that is all you knew about the game, you could play it, have fun and post a score. Yet the more you play, the deeper you find the game becomes. You have extra abilities, such as bombs, which will clear the level of enemies, or your overdrive, which is a special weapon that will wipe out all in its path. The quicker you kill enemies, the higher score you will get.

It goes further though, maintain a solid pace throughout the game and your multiplier will increase, take too long between an enemy kill and the multiplier will reset. But again there is another level, you can save humans, that once released from their box, can be taken to safety, granting you extra bonuses and points. Save them all and get an end of level bonus.

Humans are released by shooting special enemy types known as Keepers. Once these are killed the human is released and you can save them. Yet it isn’t that simple all the time. Some Keepers need to be shot in a specific order, others will only appear upon reaching a certain multiplier level. Even when they are released you need to manage them, as they can be abducted at any moment. There is a huge risk vs reward mechanic here, do you save the human and risk losing your multiplier? Or do keep the multiplier going and save the human? Can you manage to do both?

This is a game that keeps you on the edge, but physically and mentally. You need quick reactions to stay alive, but also need to be thinking quickly to manage all the elements on the screen at once. With 5 levels on each difficulty and a co-op mode included, there is plenty to keep you going and the increase in difficulty between rookie and Master (let alone Hero) is staggering. Master one and you’ll find the next difficulty is like learning things all over again.

To be the best, you need to spend hours upon hours with Resogun, but as we said, it doesn’t need you to be the best to enjoy, it can be played at a very basic level and it is one the first games in a very long time to nail that same feeling a Tetris or a Donkey Kong could. If it was in the arcades, you’d be throwing fifty pence pieces into the machine at a rate of knots.

We have come full circle in gaming. When Sony introduced the Playstation and with it the jump into 3D graphics, certain types of games were left behind and forgotten about for a while. Over the last couple of years though, these games are making a comeback and are using the extra power of next gen to enhance the best game mechanics out there and just making them look amazing.

Aside from being a wonderful game to play, the visual and audio side is mind blowing. It is a 2D shooter, but the particle effects when enemies are killed, or when a level ends look wonderful and after a while your eyes will feel like they are bleeding. The colour, the sounds, the effects are amazing and in all honesty wouldn’t have been possible on previous generations of machines. The mechanics may be the same, but boy, are they enhanced for the better now by creating an audio, visual experience that the games deserve.

Resogun is free on PS+ and is that good, that you feel like you are ripping off Housemarque, that they should be getting your money for this. You shouldn’t be playing this game for free! If you are one of the few who hasn’t got PS+ you can still buy the game and trust us when we say £12.99 on Resogun is money better spent than on any other title at launch.

Hello Games Announce No Man’s Sky

If you were crazy enough to sit through the 3 hour marathon that was the VGX then you have our sympathies.

From the drunken ramblings of Joel McHale to the fact that very little focus was spent on the awards of this so called “awards show”. Still, one game made it all worth it. That is No Man’s Sky from the Joe Danger developers Hello Games. You should probably watch the trailer:

The fact that this is from a four man team makes this even more impressive, that is if they pull off this massive world that is envisioned. The words “next-gen consoles” is all that’s known, and we have to imagine that means it’ll be appearing on both Xbox One and PS4. No release date as of yet though. It’s safe to say this is one game we have a very close eye on.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Release Date Annnounced

Konami have announced that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes will be released  across Europe from March 20th, 2014.

METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES acts as a prequel to events in the forthcoming METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN. The game introduces a new open-world environment to the series, alongside changing day and night environments, changing weather elements, and extensive AI advances. The game will be available in retail stores nationwide on current generation systems for £29.99 or via download for £19.99. Digital versions for Xbox One and PlayStation®4 can be downloaded for £29.99.

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More news should be coming soon.

Ubisoft Release New Feature Trailer For Tom Clancy’s The Division

One of the more interesting games to come out of E3 in 2013 was Tom Clancy’s: The Division. 

Ubisoft have had a busy few months, but now is the time for them to release some new details on the game. In the trailer below they show off some of the mouthwatering graphics and the technology behind it.

More was teased at the 2013 VGX and expect more information to flow in the coming months.

Trine 2: The Complete Story Review

There have been but a few Indie titles released day one on PS4, Trine 2: The Complete Story is one of them

Trine 2 is a platforming puzzle game from Frozenbyte who debuted the original game back in 2009. Trine has physic based puzzles which will have you scratching your head from time to time.

In Trine 2 you start the game with three characters which are interchangable at any time, a thief wielding a bow & arrow and a grappling hook, a magician who can summon boxes and planks at any time to use and a knight with a sword, hammer and shield for those awkward moments where you need to bash a wall down on occasion. The choice of who you use to get to your goal is entirely up to you although certain puzzles will require using a certain character. Switching between characters is quick and easy with merely a tap of one of the shoulder buttons. Controls themselves are incredibly intuitive too, summoning boxes for example as the magician requires you to make a shape on the PS4 touchpad which is a really nice gesture then moving them around the environment.

The game is simple in its design, you start on the left of the level and work your way to the right with puzzles throughout, these range from the fairly straightforward to the slightly perplexing although always enjoyable.

Something must be said about the games visuals, from the very beginning Trine 2 is absolutely incredible to view. Colour, light and shade is used to great effect. Quite often I found myself simply stopping and standing, enjoying the view as the game has been beautifully drawn, running at 1080p and 60fps and stereoscopic 3D to boot. Boss fights in the game are quite something too visually. To really appreciate this game it really must be seen to be believed. Frozenbyte have created a dazzling fantasy world with this game. From curled vines, bright red sunsets to sleepy snails, this game is simply beautiful.

Multiplayer is also supported in Trine 2 with both local and online available meaning that up to three people can play allowing collaborative play on the puzzles in the game. Multiplayer works very well and is a welcome addition too.

In essence, Trine 2 offers little different from its predecessor with physics based puzzles waiting for you around every turn yet it pulls all the elements together to seemingly allow you to forgive any of its problems, such as glitching into and behind a platform forcing you to restart back at the last checkpoint. Checkpoints themselves come often so at least you wont lose too much time trying to make up lost ground when this happens.

Overall, Trine 2: The Complete Story is a solid puzzle platform game which offers stunning vistas and co op play to boot. Even if you played this on XBLA or PSN, then it is still worth picking up, for the gorgeous visual upgrade alone.

Why the Wii U is my Christmas console of choice

It’s early December and the Xbox One and PS4 are selling in their droves with no doubt many people expecting one of these consoles sitting under the tree come Christmas Day. Not me. Despite having a PS4 pre-order up until a month before release, this was cancelled around the same time as the Watch_Dogs delay, simply because I had a sudden realisation that there are actually no games that interest me, at least not enough to spend around £400 on a new console.

So in the end the only reason I’d be buying it is simply to have something new and shiny. Something I’ve done with consoles before and regretted it when I realised I could’ve picked it up cheaper down the road with a larger and more diverse catalogue of games. It seems like the excitement of ordering a launch day console, tracking the order online, and joining many other people on forums shouting “OMG IT’S DISPATCHED” is more exciting than the moment the console arrives at your door. Or in the case of Yodel, a bush across the street.

So why will I be receiving a Wii U this Christmas? The answer is simple, games. It may not have the greatest of third party support (and that’s putting it lightly), but it does have something no other console does, that Nintendo magic. And while Xbox One and PS4 fans were at each other’s throats over resolution and graphical power, Nintendo threw out Super Mario 3D Land to critical acclaim. Weird that, it’s almost as if it’s the games that matter the most! Of course, one game doesn’t make it worth putting down hundreds of pounds on a new console and Nintendo’s other prime franchise is on hand.

Everyone remembers the furore that occurred once The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was announced right? They turned it into a kid’s game they cried! Obviously under some illusion that the previous games were like Nintendo’s version of Grand Theft Auto. If you managed to overcome this and stopped weeping into your Ocarina of Time bed sheets you’d discover one of the best Zelda games around. Personally I’d actually rate it second only to Ocarina of Time in the “Best Zelda” stakes, I loved it that much. I even enjoyed the triforce quest, which was so derided it’s actually been ‘fixed’ in the Wii U version. I don’t know why, I just loved the sailing, the open ocean as you search for that last triforce piece. The only downside was using a song to change the win direction. Something which has also been fixed if what I hear is correct.

So there you have two major, critically acclaimed releases and then there’s also the games you can pick up on the Virtual Console. No doubt I’ll end up buying Mega Man X for about the fifth time due to it being the best Mega Man game ever made (yes it is, shut up) and then there is also the back catalogue of Pikmin 3, ZombiU and Wonderful101. All of which are unique, and best of all, exclusives. These are games designed for the system, making best use of the consoles capabilities and not a watered down 360 or PS3 port.

A console could in the grand scheme of things be considered an investment. You’re investing in a consoles lifespan and this is probably my biggest worry with the Wii U. It may have some great games right now, but can anyone really seeing this last any longer than two years? Even two years might be pushing it if the dire sales figures don’t pick up. There’s a new Zelda, Smash Bros and Bayonetta 2 on the horizon, but past that and it gets a little foggy. Maybe a new Metroid if Reggie’s stammering when pressed on the subject at the VGX is anything to go by.

So yeah, thus ends my little ramble. I truly hope other people have seen the light and realised there’s more to games than prettier graphics and shouting instructions at your console. Maybe the Wii U will actually pick up over Christmas, because as it stands, it deserves to be selling far better. Whatever the outcome, this could very well be Nintendo’s last holiday season to turn things around.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Review

Ah LEGO, is there any franchise that won’t one day become immortalized in your wonderful blocks of greatness? This time it is the heroes from the Marvel world that get the block treatment.

Yep, so far we have had Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings (and soon to come The Hobbit)  and the DC characters. Marvel is the latest  to join the club and offers up plenty of opportunity for stories to be told and fun to be had.

It is a LEGO game and it pretty much follows the same formula as those that preceded it. You have an open world hub that links together various chapters for an overall story. You progress through each chapter, first in a linear mode, before being opened up to free play. You also have your central hub which allows you to take on a few side quests and find hidden gems.

It is a formula that everyone knows and is comfortable with. At first each chapter must be played using the set characters, but once it is completed you can go back with a party of characters, each with different abilities. Which is ideal, as there are plenty of things that you won’t be able to do with the initial set. The game makes this obvious and teases you with parts of the level that it makes clear you cannot do on the initial run. It does force you to play through more than once if you are someone who likes to fully collect everything possible, which, when it comes to the LEGO games, is pretty much the entire audience, as that is the point of the game.

The open world hub in the LEGO games has evolved over the years and in Marvel Superheroes you get to free roam around a representation of New York, complete with Stark Tower. It is an impressive setting, but unfortunately and much in the same way as LEGO Batman 2 DC Super Heroes, it is perhaps a little too big for what it is, something that would be better for a game in itself. There is tons to explore, but it doesn’t feel as tight or well realised as that in LEGO Indiana Jones 2.

Not only is there an obscene amount of things to do and see in the game, there are also so many characters to collect from the world of Marvel. Many you will have heard of, many that pay lip service to the hardcore fans of Marvel. There are some lovely touches too, such as the inclusion of both The Human Torch from Fantastic 4 and Captain America. Which whilst not impressive initially, it allows for a fun trophy by playing with both characters on the screen, being aware that each character was played by Chris Evans (not the radio DJ) in their respective films.

Many of the more prevalent characters take the personalities and look of their film counterparts rather than the original comics. Iron Man has the look, if not the voice of Robert Downy Jr’s realisation  and Nick Fury has the look and sound of Samuel L Jackson. It is clear that this is done to allow the non fanatics to relate to the characters.

The thing that makes the LEGO games such a joy to play, is the ability to have single screen co-operative play, the simplicity allows gamers of all types come together and have fun from the very start. This on the whole is no different, but there is a minor issue that frustrates slightly. The dynamic split screen just feels off compared to that in LEGO Indiana Jones 2 and the LEGO Harry Potter games. In those games it really helped you to go and do separate things and not be held up by your partner and it was a clever way of doing split screen. Here though the dynamic split screen feel limited and intrusive, it was actually better to move to a static version. Now whether this was down to level design, or something different with the mechanics, remains to be seen, but it didn’t help.

It is possible to also play with one player using a controller and the other on the Vita, but this is still very limited, as both players have to content with the split still. Which is ok if you are on a 42″ screen, but when you are on the Vita, it can be annoying as it becomes difficult to see the details on half a small screen. This may well be a hardware issue and nothing TT can do about, but hopefully in future releases it can allow for remote co-op play with both players using the full real estate of the screen.

It does little to dampen the experience though, as the overall game is a joy to play, retaining that LEGO magic from the outset. It may well be more of the same with new worlds and new characters, but walking around smashing everything in sight never gets old, no matter how many of these you have already played.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes isn’t the best LEGO game to date, but it is one of those series that even if it is listed at the bottom of the series, it still offers more value and more fun than other series can ever hope to achieve.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review

If the rumours are true then the next Wii U Zelda game is heading in a more open world format, if this is the case then Link Between Worlds could be considered an experiment. It’s by far the most open of Zelda games yet, while the majority in the series shepherd you from one area to the next, only opening the next environment when you’ve discovered the correct equipment, Link Between Worlds lets you go anywhere. Once all the dungeons have been marked on your map it’s up to you where you head first, and it’s definitely the game’s greatest strength.

While the openness is unfamiliar territory, Nintendo have coupled this with the familiarity of Link to the Past, possibly the series’ most beloved entry. Set in the same world as LTTP, the map is largely identical. Link’s house is located in the centre; the mountains are to the north, forest to the west and so forth. So if you’ve played LTTP you’ll know exactly where to go in Hyrule. The other world of Lorule though? Not so much.

The game’s key mechanic is the ability to blend with the wall, turning yourself into a living painting and being able to travel along the walls surface. This also being used to travel through ominous looking gaps in the wall that lead to the other world of LoRule. A world that, as the name suggests is a little more depressing than the vibrant colours of Hyrule. In this land ruled by Princess Hilda it’s your job to stop Yuga and rescue the seven sages who have been trapped inside paintings. This is the where the openness of Link Between Worlds comes into play.

Once you’re told where the Sages are being held each one is marked on your map. And where you go next is completely up to you. However each dungeon will require the use of a specific item (much like Zelda’s of old), this is handled by Rovio, a guy who sets up shop in your house allowing you to rent or (at a later time) buy items. If the item is rented then when you die each item will be returned to Rovio, however, despite getting killed a few times this never really had much of an issue considering rupees are absolutely everywhere. Chests containing a hundred rupees became a common occurrence in most dungeons. There were so many that we just ended up renting every item right at the start, but then this could be preferred to constantly chopping down grass to scavenge one rupee a piece. Another good point about this system is that you have a magic bar next to your health, this depletes once an item is used, but recharges after a short while. This means no more hunting in pots for bombs or arrows; everything uses this bar, including the new painting mechanic.

While the world is largely the same as LTTP, the dungeons are anything but the same. Nintendo have certainly excelled at using the 3D technology to complement the gameplay in such a unique way. So in Link Between Worlds a lot of the dungeons are vertical in nature. Many dungeons have multiple floors and more often than not you’re able to see down to the floor below. With the 3D fully cranked up it looks great and really adds to the tension when you’re slowly moving across thin platforms or being forced to jump down and land on a moving platform. Looking at screenshots really doesn’t do the game justice; it’s one of those games that has to be seen running on the system to really appreciate it.

On the whole, the dungeons are some of the best seen in the Zelda series. Puzzles mix some of the olden days Zelda tricks (lighting torches, pushing blocks onto switches etc.) and the new, the ability to walk along walls courtesy of the new painting mechanic. As mentioned pressing A against the wall allows Link to blend with the wall and walk along it. This used to full effect as a way to reach previously unreachable ledges. It’s all very much a master class in design.

As a game that is steeped in nostalgia it’s no surprise that on top of the same world as Link to the Past, it uses a lot of the same music and jingles. It’s clear as soon as you start the game and are re-introduced to the same menu music from LTTP. From there it uses largely the same music, now with a fuller, orchestral sound that will make all Zelda fans grin like a loon.

Link Between Worlds ran the risk of being nothing more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane, revisiting one of the most beloved games in the series, thankfully Nintendo have manage to couple the LTTP memories with some of the best, more unique design seen in the Zelda series in quite a while. If the more handholding nature of recent Zelda games has dampened your enjoyment then the open world nature of Link Between Worlds will be a blessing. In a holiday season dominated with next-gen talk, Nintendo have come out and shown that resolution and graphical power mean nothing without games. And that’s what this is, a damn great game.

Call Of Duty: Ghosts Next Gen Comparison

Next Gen is here and is now current gen, with the 360 and PS3 being old gen… Or something to that effect anyway. 

When a new generation enters the scene, there will always be some crossover games. In this case there is Need For Speed Rivals, Battlefield 4, a bunch of sports games, Assassin’s Creed IV and of course Call Of Duty Ghosts.

We have already reviewed Call Of Duty Ghosts on the XBOX 360 and you can read what we thought here.

Gamestyle were lucky enough to get their hands on both the PS4 and XBOX ONE versions of the game though and decided it would be the ideal title to assess the early impact of the new consoles. The truth is though, that with many of these titles, it will be the difference of turning up the graphic settings on a PC, after doing an upgrade.

On the whole there is nothing new to add to the experience, with one exception, which we’ll come to a little later. It is pretty much a jump in the visuals. Between the two consoles though, there is a difference, but how much that matters depends entirely on how much the graphics really mean to you.

The PS4 version runs at 1080p with the XBOX ONE version running at 720p and upscaling. You only really notice things in the finer details, with the PS4 version looking that much sharper than the XBOX ONE version. The XBOX version does add many of the same filters as on the PS4, but with the PS4 doing this natively you do notice a difference.

Now as we said this may or may not matter to you and as far as we could tell, both versions looked and played really well for the most part. The PS4 version ran at a strong 60fps but there were a few moment of slowdown during some really intense battle sequences. It was the same for the XBOX ONE version but the slowdowns seemed to happen that little bit more often, or were a little more noticeable.

It does seem apparent that this was a game developed primarily for the previous generation of consoles and ported up to the new arrivals. That isn’t a bad thing though, as it means that all four consoles get a solid enough effort and it lays down some solid foundations for the next iteration of the series.

So whether you are a owner of a XBOX ONE or a PS4, you aren’t really losing anything, neither console is suddenly getting screwed over for the other, it is only when you take the time to compare both almost side by side that you spot the little differences, if you are a fan of the game, then you’ll be happy with your upgrade.

The question is though, what if you own both consoles (you lucky person)? What version should you buy? Well this comes down to a single scenario. Do you own a PS Vita? If the answer is yes, then get the PS4 version, it becomes a no brainer purely for the remote play features offered up by Sony.

Here Infinity Ward have done a good job to make sure the controls are suited to the Vita when you do access remote play. For all games the option is there to use the rear touch pad to replace the L2, R2, L3 and R3 buttons, but rather than simply use all four sections of the rear touch, the developers have put a single action here and changed the control scheme specifically for when you are playing on the Vita.

When you load of the control options while in remote play, you are given only the Vita control options which is a nice touch, rather than being lazy and just having basic mapping. There are plenty of options too, based on how you would prefer the layout, you can have rear touch as sprint, or change it to melee, or one of the other options. All the legacy and southpaw options are also included.

There does seem to be a bit of scaling down with the graphics and during online multiplayer, it felt as though you were at a disadvantage compared to those playing on the PS4 itself with the DualShock4. Yet in the campaign mode, it was more than serviceable.

What is great, is that you no longer need to worry about losing the TV when someone else in the family wants to watch something, or play on one of the other consoles. Simply switching on the Vita, accessing the PS4 link and carrying on where you left off is wonderful. Not cross-save, not having to reboot the game, literally turning on remote play and carrying on. It is an amazing experience the first time you do this, when you sit back and realise what you have actually done, the next gen really does hit home.

A word of warning though, as great as this is directly linking to the PS4 in your home, taking the same game outside and using a 3G connection will give varying results. This works well for games like Knack and other slower paced games, but with Call Of Duty Ghosts, where you need quick reactions and fractions of a second can mean life or death, it can be a frustrating experience. However this may improve a little when 4G rolls out across the UK.

Overall there is a definite step up from the last gen in terms of visuals, but it doesn’t really make a difference to the overall game, it is still the same game as it was, just a little nice looking. What we would say though, is that it may well be worthwhile using the £10 upgrade voucher if you have the new consoles and get the best of both worlds.

Stick It To The Man Review

Stick It To The Man - PS Vita

From developers Zoink, comes Stick It To The Man for PS3 and PS Vita a game in which your unfortunate hero must use his newly acquired powers to help himself and his loved ones.

You know how it is, you’ve just finished a long shift at the hard hat testing company and while on your way home an object falls from the sky and hits you in the head… Oh the irony! Next thing you know, is that you have a pink hand coming from your brain and your life gets turned upside down. That is the premise of Stick It To The Man.

As a game, Stick It To The Man has a lot going for it, notably the use of humour and an interesting graphic style. From the start, the humour in the writing is there to see, it isn’t side-splitting funny it isn’t on a par with the world’s best stand-up comics, or the best sitcoms. However, it does make you have a little chuckle all the way through and never tries to push things too far, nor does it get to a stage where the humour gets too dull.

The visuals too are really well done and there seems to be a vibe of 90’s based cartoons with them. A Ren & Stimply or Rocko’s Modern Life feel. It is crude, but the imagery fits perfectly with the humour and also the game play mechanics that go with it.

There is some fantastic writing, that is woven together in a natural way. As part of your ongoing quest, you will have to read the minds of the characters around the various levels. Each character has a different thought and by using your pink alien hand thing, you can dive into their brains and extract their thoughts. Now whilst these are amusing they also have a vital role to play in the overall gameplay mechanic.

If anything, Stick It To The Man, feels like a modern re-imagining of the Dizzy games. It has that same idea of telling you your immediate goal, but then having you achieve that goal by completing other smaller tasks across each level. In dizzy it was a case of go to this part to retrieve this, to get to there, unlock that, get this and so on, until you finally had what you needed to make proper progression.

Here the concept is the same, you find your main goal, read a character’s mind, then try to help them, but to help them, you need to read the mind of other characters in the level, but to get what you need from them, you need to find others who may have the part needed. but needing to help them also. It can lead to some complex patterns and areas that need to be finished in order, but that works, it works well and is genuinely enjoyable to solve these puzzles.

The way you solve these puzzles, is by essentially finding a placing stickers in the right places, some of which are only acquired once performing the right task for the right character. This would be difficult enough, if it wasn’t for the secret agents hunting you at every turn. These guys want to know why and how you have you powers and will stop at nothing to find out. Luckily you can also read their thoughts, once you have read an agents thoughts, you get a sticker that puts them to sleep, thus allowing you to sneak by undetected. However, the moment they spot you, they will be relentless in their pursuit and once caught, you are eliminated.

Early levels are pretty standard and easy to complete, however as the game progresses the agents are harder to avoid and the puzzles become a little more complex. This all happens without becoming frustrating and the game can be finished in a few hours. The pacing is pretty much spot on, with levels and the game as whole never really out staying its welcome.

Whilst this is available on both the PS3 and PS Vita, it is the handheld version that plays best. Not because there are any technical issues, or anything to that effect. It is simply a game that feels more at home on Sony’s handheld, playing in bite-sized chunks just feels right, maybe a level at a time, during a bit of downtime from your normal life. It plays fine on the PS3 though and it will just be a preference thing more than anything.

Stick It To The Man is a great example of the sort of game that wasn’t happening a few short years ago, a game that wouldn’t have had an audience, but thanks to the Indie revolution on consoles, this type of inventive game has a home. There is a lot of fun to be had with this title and is a cracking showcase of how to build on some tried and tested formulas.