MXGP: The Official Motocross Videogame Review

Milestone are no stranger to the world of two wheeled racing, developers of Moto GP 13 and a number of SBK games, they certainly have experience in the field. And now their latest game MXGP has arrived, and despite us having next to no knowledge of the Motocross scene, we have to say, it’s quite exceptional.

The first thing that will hit you with MXGP is the painfully catchy theme. It’s not a great song by any means, but it will burrow its way into your soul until you’re unable to get it out of your mind. A guitar rock theme that pretty much repeats the same beat over and over again, there’s no escape as it encompasses almost every menu. Once in race though, all music is left at the door and you’re down to the drone of the engine.

There’s a variety of modes on offer, Instant Race, Grand Prix, Championship, Time Attack and Multiplayer. The variety of single player time however will be spent in the Career Mode. Creating your own custom rider (mostly) you’ll have to fight your way up through the MX2 before hitting the grand heights of MX1. The whole career (in fact the entire menus) are presented well, with Career mode taking place inside an office you’re able to customise your riding gear, check e-mails and social media feeds and check to see if you’ve made the cover of the MXGP Magazine. Sadly the presentation doesn’t last into the actual racing.

Admittedly there’s not a lot you can do with what is essentially a dirt track, but the real graphical faux pas are the riders themselves. They appear to not have a single bone in their body. Pre and post-race scene celebrations are bizarre with arm joints bending in strange ways, and when crashes occur riders will just flop about on the floor. Ragdoll physics in the very worst sense. That’s probably our biggest disappointment, maybe games like Trials have done something to our brains, but when there’s a crash, we want to feel the impact. There’s none of that in MXGP, just a little tumble followed by a quick track reset a couple of seconds later. Your body even turning into a ghost as while your bike remains solid and can be hit by other riders, they’ll just pass through your lifeless body. But what it loses in the looks department, it makes up for in the gameplay.

Bikes are controlled with both sticks, so the left is for standard turning and the right is for leaning the rider, allowing for tighter turns. Turning too much however and you’re likely to go head over heels. The best part about this control scheme is the variations on how truly realistic you want it. The “base” default as it is known is the simplest to use, where accidents can happen, but it is generally more difficult to fall. As you change to more advanced handling models then you’ll need real skill to stay with the pack. It makes the game easy to pick up for newcomers, but also adding some depth for those who want the most serious of motocross simulations. It makes each race a delight to play.

There is also a very noticeable difference when moving up from MX2 to the MX1 class. While MX2 was no walk in the park, we definitely held our own in the higher difficulties. When taking to the track for the first MX1 event, a quick acceleration and we found ourselves pulling a wheelie by accident before flying backwards. It was almost like we were playing Trials HD again. Even by yourself there’s a lot of fun to be had with MXGP.

A major concern you could have with racing of the two wheeled variety is with the computer AI. When all it takes is a clip of the back wheel to send you flying, super aggressive AI could sap all the enjoyment out of it, turning the game into Road Rash minus the weapons. Good news then, as while you will no doubt be on the other end of an opponent’s bike, they don’t go out of their way to knock you off. Chances are, if you come off, it’ll be your own fault.

Unfortunately due to us getting the game early we couldn’t populate a full game, but that didn’t become necessary as even with only two other players the game populates the rest of the places with AI riders. The menus like the rest of the game are well presented and the game was incredibly smooth online allowing you to take on single races or create multi-round championships. Hopefully MXGP can attract a large enough audience because this is definitely one we hope to still be playing months down the line.

MXGP manages to balance the line between welcoming novices and challenging veterans. It may not be the prettiest game, but look beneath the surface and there’s a great single player and online experience waiting to be had.

Plus Cast Episode 2

Recently I joined Barry from RLLMUK to take part in a new podcast focusing on Playstation Plus. Where we discuss the each month’s offerings and look ahead to what is coming up. As well as the benefits and effects of the service.

There was an issue with episode 1, which will be forever lost, but episode 2 was a success. We have decided to post each month’s podcast here at Gamestyle as we think it is a nice addition to the site. So please check back every month to find a new episode.

So without any further delay:

Plus Cast Episode 2: March 2014

Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark Ultimate Edition Review

It is becoming a bit of a trend of late. The re-release of games with homes previously on PS3 and PS Vita, finding their way to the PS4. Flower, Flow, Sound Shapes, Escape Plan, all came around in 2013 and there is also the upcoming OlliOlli and Hotline Miami, both already on the PS Vita. Another to follow suit is Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark.

At Gamestyle, we loved the Vita release, it is a fantastic mix of platforming and puzzle and you can read our review here. So we’ll leave actually reviewing the overall game, as what you get on PS4 is pretty much an identical game. Well, with a couple of little additions.

Aside from the original game, you also get the two expansion DLC packs. The Teleport Chambers and The Lost Clones, which again a great to play and well worth sinking your time in to.

The question is though, is it worth going for the PS4 edition? Well that depends, unlike Hotline Miami, Flower, etc this isn’t cross-buy, to if you have it on the Vita or PS3, you’ll still need to pay out to get the PS4 version. Thankfully it is a game that has great replayability, but as we found between the PS3 and Vita versions, it was a much better experience on the handheld, especially with headphones plugged in.

What we will say though, is if you haven’t got either previous version, then you can’t go wrong with the PS4 release, especially as it already includes all the DLC, even if you have got it on PS3 (more so than Vita) then it may be worth the upgrade if you haven’t yet delved into the DLC.

Maybe it is a case of having been spoiled by cross-buy of late, that makes this a slightly bitter pill to swallow, yet we can fully appreciate the business decision here. Money does need to be made for a studio to continue to produce great content and just adding a game to your existing purchase, whilst nice, doesn’t always make great business sense.

Hotline Miami has a sequel coming, so makes for some good press and brings the game back into the consciousness of the consumer, with earlier games like Sound Shapes, Escape Plan, Flower, it was an added incentive for people to make a decision on a console…you already have games, even if you can only afford the console at launch. It made sense.

There hasn’t been a new Stealth Inc announced, or even hinted at, so to put this up for free isn’t even going to help promote anything. So it really wouldn’t be in Curve Studio’s best interests. It is a shame, but it is good to see gamers getting more and more options for where they can buy some top quality titles. Many may be first timers to the Playstation brand, or returning after a generation with Microsoft’s console, therefore having had the chance to buy the game previously may not have been an option.

Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark is still a cracking game, but whether it is essential for you on PS4 comes down to one question. Do you own it already on PS3 or Vita? Do you still have access to those consoles? If yes, then unfortunately this isn’t a must buy, if however you haven’t yet got this…Then go right ahead and pick this up, you won’t regret it.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Review

For many, their first introduction into the world of Final Fantasy was Final Fantasy VII, it came at the right time, on the right system and elevated the series to a whole other level. There have been many requests for a HD update, but the team at Square decided on Final Fantasy X and its sequel, X-2 for a bit of spit and polish.

It’s not a bad choice by any means and beyond the many hours put into Final Fantasy VII, it was X that probably grabbed this writer the most.

For those who don’t know, Final Fantasy X sees you take on the role of Tidus, who is the star of popular sport ‘Blitzball’, an underwater take on football. During a game, the city is attacked by a creature known as Sin, destroying the city and threatening the world. So what is a sports star to do? Well, team up with his pals and takes down the evil that threatens everything.

It is Final Fantasy and the story is a bit convoluted, but holds together quite well across the hours you will spend in the game. There are some parts that drag on and the characters at times can become a tad annoying, Tidus especially, despite being the lead role. Overall though, you will come across much, much worse.

What you are essentially getting here is the original releases, with an upgraded look, no more, no less…Well, depending on where you lived when the original came out (or managed to import). There were difference between the International and Japanese versions of the game, so in this HD port, you care given the opportunity to play either of them, which in X comes down to choosing a standard or expert sphere grid.

For newcomers to the series, it is worth just sticking to the standard, as it can all get confusing enough as it is. Which is a bit of a downfall of the game itself. The first few hours feel largely like they are one giant tutorial, a tutorial that never seems to want to end. Action is broken up on a regular basis so that the game can explain another mechanic of some description. It is at its worst when it comes to partaking in a nice game of Blitzball.

Here you are given an obscene amount of tutorial lists, before you can even get into playing a game. However, the game of Blitzball itself is rather quite fun to play and a very nice addition to the standard RPG stuff. We would suggest trying to skip most of the tutorial here, but it really is needed.

One thing that many fans of the series didn’t like about X was that it was fairly constrained, compared to some of the other games, with the story often pushing you down a corridor, rather than giving you ultimate freedom, this is shown in the level designs too, with you barely able to go off and explore. That said, for many it shouldn’t be an issue, it works for this game, it makes it feel different to the likes of VII, it also makes it a bit more welcoming to those who may never have experienced a Final Fantasy before.

Battles are generally standard too, turn based fighting, using menus to select an action and then choosing a target. There are some nice nuances to this to discover, but this type of battle system has come a long way since X and some may find it a little bit archaic, especially along with the complex Sphere Grid.

X isn’t the only part to be given this treatment though, X-2 has itself a few bits of added content, that was missing on not quite done right in its own original release. Such as an additional mission only found in the Japanese version orginally, or some extra stuff that can be done with your party, a creature creator and more.

X-2 also plays differently and has a lot less slow marauding across lands between major sections of the story. It is also a lot more open than X, allowing you to visit anywhere on the map from the very start and being quite relaxed with how and when you choose to do side missions. It is a clever sequel to X in some ways, as it doesn’t just keep to the same formula, it tries to do something a bit different and is very much worth playing once you finish X.

The HD visual upgrade is really well done and on the Vita’s OLED screen (if you were lucky enough to pick one up before the Slim release) it just oozes quality. It is a perfect fit for the Vita also, especially compared to the console versions. Because of the way the save system works, you cannot just save as and when you needed it, often spending large chunks of time before finding another save spot. With the Vita’s sleep mode though, you can still play in small bursts, or push on for longer spells, thus negating the need to find the time to play.

Fans of the games are going to love coming back to experience them all over again, with lovely updated visuals and some tweaks that enhance the gameplay just the right amount. Newcomers will find this a lovely introduction into Final Fantasy and if this sells enough, you never know…we may get FFVII HD afterall. But even if we don’t, this is great in its own right.

Steamworld Dig Review

So it begins. Indie games are finding releases for both Vita and PS4 at the same time and with Steamworld Dig, you have the added bonus of Cross-Buy, meaning pay once, get both versions. This is the glorious future of Indie gaming on the Playstation ecosystem.

Steamworld Dig is a fascinating title, which is a cross between Spelunky and Mr Driller, but with some added resource management thrown in to the mix. For the most part this all blends together nicely, to offer a wonderful title that can be easily dipped in and out of at will.

You take on the role of Rusty, a robot who has been tasked with exploring his uncles mines, to discover more and uncover the secrets it holds. Rusty’s uncle couldn’t have been a great miner, seeing as pretty much none of it has been uncovered, but hey, it gives you a reason to dig.

The core gameplay involves you digging deeper and deeper into the mine, finding secret technology, ore and hidden caves along the way. You smash rocks, dirt and more with your pickaxe to make a route through, while at the same time collecting that precious ore that is hidden in the environment.

It isn’t just a case of going deeper and deeper at all times though, as there are a few constraints in place. Firstly, you can only carry a finite amount of items, meaning you need to return to the surface on a regular basis and trade it in for money. Secondly, you pickaxe can only affect certain types of environment, meaning you need to trade that ore for money, to upgrade for better tools, to dig new areas. You can also upgrade the amount you can carry, which allows you to do deeper and collect more before returning to the surface.

There are other constraints too, you have a health meter, which can take some pretty drastic hits from creatures that lurk below the surface, so pushing on and risking death or returning to purchase more health has to be taken into consideration. You also have a finite amount of light, so again, returning to the surface can replenish this meter also.

It isn’t just returning to the surface though, as you can decide to attack the monsters and collect what they drop, either a light bonus, or some extra health, but again it is a decision you need to make, as get it wrong and you die, losing everything you have collected.

The early game is a bit of a slow burner, as you are very limited in what you have and you also need to physically climb back to the surface. Later on though, with the various upgrades, new abilities and conveniently place teleporters, you can find shortcuts back to the surface, the deeper you go. It is then that the game really opens up and becomes a joy to play.

It’s not just managing the resources for yourself either, you also find you can upgrade the town, so again you need to balance what you do and when, as everything has the potential to help you. It is worth taking some time to decide on each new decent how best to work. The game teases you with new environments from time to time, before fully introducing them, giving you a clue that you may need a new upgrade before pushing on too much further, it is a very clever little hint system, as it never outright tells you hat is needed, but nudges you towards discovery.

All levels are procedurally generated  meaning that no two games are ever alike…And you will play more than once, as a single playthrough is generally around five hours long, yet you never feel you have discovered all the game has to offer. With the grading system at the end of playthrough, you are tempted back into to see if you can beat that. Again a nice little system to get more out of what could be considered a short game.

The biggest disappointment though comes from the lack of Cross-Save, as it almost renders the Cross-Buy pointless. It is a game that is perfect for Cross-Save, as you may start on the PS4, but want to carry on while out and about, before coming home and playing more on the big screen. As it is you are better off at this stage choosing a platform and sticking with it, hoping that at some point Cross-Save is patched in.

That said, it is easy to lose yourself to Steamworld Dig (Editors Note: I was almost late picking my son up, the first time I played it), the game is designed to keep you busy and push you towards your goal, you never feel like you are doing things for the sake of it and that there is always something to aim towards, it is a very well put together experience. It becomes very difficult to find a point at which you want to actually stop.

On the whole though, Steamworld Dig is a fascinating game and one that will bring plenty of joy. It is a game you can take your time with and enjoy. Taking some elements from other games in the genre and tailoring them to make a wonderful experience. It is just a shame about that Cross-Save

Luftrausers Review

It seems like an absolute age ago that Luftrausers was announced for the PS Vita and at the time it looked like the perfect fit, one of the titles that was part of the start of the Indie Revolution on Sony’s handheld. Since that time many, many Indie have come and gone and still no Luftrausers, to the point it was almost forgotten about. However, it is finally here and it has really been worth the wait.

Luftrausers is at its core a 2D shooter, that shares some characteristics of a twin stick shooter, but without those exact mechanics. Yet it is a lot deeper than other 2D shooters, adding in some very interesting customisation options, that really do set it apart.

When you first jump into the game, you are given a brief overview of the controls. Push up to boost, move with left stick, shoot with the X Button and that is pretty much it. Along with some core mechanic descriptions, such as stop shooting to fix your damage. What is interesting though, is that when you first start playing, the controls don’t feel natural, you don’t feel like you can just pick it up and become a master of the game. It is at odds with everything you’d expect with a game like this.

The idea is that controls should be easy to learn, so you can then master the game, finding ways to get better scores. Yet here, you spend much of your first time getting to grips with the control system. Unlike a twin stick shooter, or most shooters in actual fact, you don’t simply press the direction you want to go and then go that direction. To get forward momentum you have to press up on the analogue stick (or D-Pad) which provides a boost. Then you can use that momentum to turn and go in another direction, but if you aren’t boosting, you begin to free-fall, you can still turn, but you will do so heading toward the sea at the bottom of the level.

The sea won’t kill you if you hit it and is actually a good way to fend off enemies that are following you, before emerging to take them down. It really does take a while to fully understand the controls, but when you do it opens up in such a way that you soon forget how alien this felt at the beginning.

Soon you are finding ways to out maneuver your opposition, finding a way to group them together, before quickly turning the tide and unleashing hell. What you have here is a very good dogfight system, that works amazingly well in 2D. Boosting in one direction, then stalling your plane, allowing enemies to go past and then boosting again to fire the deadly shots and racking up the score. It feels so good once you get a firm grasp on the many little techniques within the game.

It’s not just your technique that improves though, as you complete challenges, you unlock various upgrades that can change your weapon, boost type and body. There are many interesting combinations available, such as a part that uses bullets to boost, meaning you fire bullets from the rear of your plane everytime you boost, which works out great for taking out ships, of enemies on your tail. Other parts may improve mobility, but wreck you strength, others may do the reverse, the variation here is stunning.

At one point we used a set up that stopped us taking damage when colliding with enemies, using the rear bullet shooting boost, which was allowing us to feel invincible. However it came at a cost, as mobility was lost and it was harder to evade enemy fire. So switching up to better mobility, meant that we had to actually shoot our enemy, this was fine, but strength was worse and it took less damage to end our run. What is great is that there is no ‘catch all’ set up, every single one (or which there are many) has pros and cons, it is just how you want to approach each run that will determine what you use.

You won’t ever really settle at one setup though, because for each part on offer to customise your plane, there are series of challenges. Completing these will also help you level up to unlock more part and more challenges. These range from getting a certain score, or getting a set number of kills in a single run, to something a bit more challenging, such as killing a certain type of enemy in a certain way.

The more difficult the challenge, the more XP you can earn to level up and unlock more. It works really well and you find that you want to experiment, you want to try new part and take on new challenges, to the point where at times, you forget this is a score attack game. Which again is what the main part is all about and to that effect there is a combo multiplier mechanic, every shot you hit with, your multiplier goes up, to a maximum of 20x and the better your multiplier, the bigger your banked score will be. It isn’t easy to get a maximum multiplier and keep it going, as take too long to hit another enemy and you lost it, banking that score at that time.

This means that you are soon trying to balance staying alive, completing challenges and getting the best score possible. It really does draw you in and you will become very, very focused, and what initially seemed like a slow burner of a game, becomes very intense and extremely challenging, especially as you always feel you can better your score, or that of a friend on the leaderboard.

Luftrausers has been a long time coming, but it doesn’t disappoint one little bit. The title is cross-buy, and whilst it is great on the PS3 and the big screen, it is yet another Indie title that has found a home on the Vita and it really is the perfect fit.

The Witch and the Hundred Knight Review

NIS have made some excellent RPG titles in the past, both in Strategy and Action variations. The Witch and the Hundred Knight falls into the latter. It is a game that comes across as pretty standard fare, but isn’t without some issues.

You play as Hundred Knight and are tasked by the Witch to follow out various quests so that she can spread her swamp across the entire land. Metallia is the witch in question and therein lies the first issue with the game.

From the very start she speaks and barks out instructions, which you must follow. The problem is in the writing, as Metallia as a character is neither humourous, not particularly likable. If anything, she is rather annoying to the point of being plain nasty, so much so that it becomes difficult to want to do her bidding for her. Yet, you have to, as that is the point of the game.

The same goes with other characters spread across the game, they just seem to lack the personality you’d usually associate with titles from NIS, if it was a conscious decision to have the characters as flawed as they are, then it was a poor one. It may be that the game just hasn’t translated very well, but in any case, having characters you neither like, nor can identify with doesn’t help push you along.

Which is a shame, as the gameplay is pretty decent. A top down adventure of sorts, reminds you very much of games like Zelda, or a Diablo. Being an Action RPG means that combat is real time and pretty intuitive, pressing attack buttons to simply launch fury on those that are littered across the various stages.

It is a stage based world, where you are sent to follow a task, complete it, then report back to be given another to follow. On the whole it works well and allows you to get a good idea of progression. There is plenty to find across the stages too, so the ability to return to them later is very welcome, especially for those who like to uncover everything hidden within the game.

A nice take on something a little tired in the genre is the ability to raid houses in villages. Instead of letting you simply enter at will and steal whatever you would like, as you can in many other titles, you can raid them. Essentially take over a village forceably getting the items stored around. It does have a downside though, as you may get some nice items, but it can also turn a village against you, resulting in such things as higher prices in shops. However, whether you decide to raid or not, doesn’t really affect things too badly, to the point where you need to make a decision that could affect your progress, which is a shame, as the mechanic is an interesting one.

Your attacks have a mechanic attached to them, whereby you can chain together various abilities that are designed to be used in various scenarios and early on this works well and it is clear what you may need to change to get the right combos for taking on enemies. However a little later it does become apparent that there is a catch all option, that means you rarely need to change things up. Again it is an interesting idea that doesn’t quite feel like it is used to the best of its abilities.

You attacks also use up Gigacals, which limits how much you can attack, run, etc. This is the biggest issue with the combat, as it seems to be adding in a layer of challenge that is needless, masking other shortcomings the game has. Rather than harder enemies, or having to take on bigger groups, it adds a time limit type system. You can circumvent this by not taking any actions, or teleporting in and out of levels, but it becomes annoying, as you then have to wait on more loading screens, which whilst not being slow, do enough to break the immersion.

It is all a shame really as there is a good game there, but one that has flaws that outweigh its enjoyment factor. Visually it isn’t stunning as such either, it has some nice design, but just feels a little drab in places. Where some locations have some really impressive art, so lovely design, others are lacklustre and easily forgettable.

You do want to persevere with the game a little, as moving through the various stages is fun, the basic mechanics are enjoyable and enemies are challenging without being annoying, but the arbitrary additions to the basic mechanics, that don’t seem to fit with the overall game, the unlikable characters and occasional mundane locales turn this into a pretty ordinary game.

Ordinary. That is pretty much the best way to describe this, it isn’t a bad game, but neither is it one that will live with you, you will play it, have moments of enjoyment and moments of annoyance, then at the end of the day, you will forget about it. It could have been so much more, but it just isn’t going to make any new fans of the genre, that is for certain.

New character Decapre makes her Street Fighter debut

There’s been a lot of speculation in the fighting game community on who the fifth and final Ultimate Street Fighter IV is going to be. Today it’s finally revealed as newcomer, Decapre.

Decapre will join new fighters Hugo, Poison, Rolento and Elena. Decapre being the only original character making her debut, though she does share a striking resemblance with Cammy.

Decapre trailer can be viewed below:

Along with five additional characters, the Ultimate edition of Street Fighter IV also introduces an Edition Select mode (where you can choose what characters version you want to fight from each Street Fighter IV game) and YouTube integration.

Ultimate Street Fighter IV arrives on PS3 and Xbox 360 in June, either as a DLC upgrade for Super Street Fighter IV or as a full package from retailers.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2 – A House Divided Review

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS EPISODE 1 SPOILERS

The first episode showed that Clementine was no longer the young, innocent girl that you had to protect whatever the cost. In the intervening years she had become a capable character in this post-apocalyptic nightmare, A House Divided further cements this fact. Episode 1 was just an appetiser, the real choices begin now.

We left Clementine in a difficult position at the end of episode 1. You could follow two characters in the last episodes final decision, although we only experienced one, we’re sure the other also came with ramifications. And that’s what this episode is really about, while there is an enemy threat from the “walkers”, much like the comic book it’s based on, the human element is still the most dangerous. You will meet new characters along the way, some friendly, others not so. And it’s how you deal with these interactions that reveal Episode 2’s strongest point.

A lot of the time violence or aggression may not be the best cause of action and the choices Clementine is given will provide a wide range of ways to approach each situation. Whether it makes much of a difference to how the overall story plays out is unknown as we only played it through once (the way you’re meant too!), but it feels like you’re having a massive impact on what happens, and that’s the important part.

One new character in particular is a menacing presence that you’re not sure whether to trust or not. It’s someone who has mystery, and being voiced by Michael Madsen means he has the voice to match his gruff nature. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the mystery in episode 2. The people you’ve met in episode 1 may not be who they seem and each newly introduced person has a fully fleshed out character that certainly puts the TV show to shame.

If there’s an issue we had having completed the previous episode, it was that the new group didn’t stick with you in the same way the original gang did, often forgetting characters names. Episode 2 doesn’t suffer from this, it spends more time with each and by the end of the season we’re expecting to feel a tinge of sadness when the inevitable happens and they become zombie food.

That’s not to say A House Divided is short of action, there are plenty of moments where the dead need to be dealt with. Clementine once again proving her more capable nature as she stealthily sneaks up on a walker before stabbing it in the head. Even these moments are given a dose of humour to accompany the visceral nature of the visuals. “I’ll take the big one” she says jokingly to her accomplice with a wry smile. It’s the human interaction that really makes this series something special. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to action, as you’d expect, thinks that you plan on happening and what does happen are rarely ever similar.

A House Divided manages to build on what the first episode started. It was a strong start, but episode 2 is where the season truly begins. With mystery and intrigue, it feels like no character is exactly who they seem. The coming episodes are going to be very interesting.

MXGP gets GAME exclusive pre-order bonus

PQube have today announced the pre-order bonus for MXGP – The Official Motocross Videogame. 

If you pre-order MXGP from GAME in the UK you will receive an exclusive limited edition book – detailing the tracks in the game, as well as giving a sneak peek behind the scenes for the game’s development – detailing the lengths that developers Milestone have gone to, to ensure it’s the most authentic representation of motocross ever seen in a videogame.

MXGP – The Official Motocross Videogame features:

  • All the riders, bikes, manufacturers and sponsors of MXGP – to fully capture the ambience of the MXGP season.
  • Revolutionary dual-stick controls, allowing you to manipulate the bike and rider simultaneously, for unparalleled depth in handling and physics.
  • Brand New Career Mode – allowing you to chart your journey from rookie ‘wild card’ to seasoned professional.
  • Real-time track deformation. Watch – and feel – the course change from lap to lap, where no two races are the same.
  • Online multiplayer which allows you to easily find races against players at your skill level.
  • Adjust every aspect of the bike to best suit the courses conditions and your own play style.
  • Depth of handling which allows players to express their own racing style. With no ‘correct’ way of riding – victory is entirely in your hands!

The game can be pre-ordered by clicking HERE.

MXGP arrives on PC, PS3, Vita and Xbox 360 on 28th March.

Dark Souls II Review

Remember when games were a challenge? Remember when they tested you? Games used to be hard, you used to have to figure them out. Dark Souls was a return to that and Dark Souls II follows on from that idea to near perfection.

Dark Souls II drops you into a world, after a little bit of set up and then lets you loose. There is a point to the game, there is an end game, but there is no real guidance of how to get there. This isn’t a linear story driven experience, there aren’t any real corridor mechanics, nothing like that. It starts you off and tells you to work it out for yourself.

It is the gaming equivalent of your parent giving birth, telling you what the world is and leaving you to fend for yourself. What works here though, is that despite very little guidance you still understand what it is you have to do, you move through the world taking baby steps, figuring things out on the fly. It is trial and error at points, but hey, it is the same in life, you learn from your mistakes.

You will make mistakes, lots of them, time and time again, but you realise what those mistakes are and you learn from them. Taking on an enemy that will simply overpower you? Then you look for an alternative route, try to improve yourself before going back. You learn how to attack other enemy types, how best to approach a situation, you die, you return, you die, you return.

It is a mechanic that should be frustrating and if it was in any other game, it likely would be. However, because the whole concept of Dark Souls is built around this trial and error system, you don’t feel like you are becoming frustrated, you feel like you are being given important lessons and the game is all the better for it.

Early on, we spent a good few hours without seemingly getting anywhere, you come to a village and there are quests to complete, but these aren’t clearly marked quests that you need to tick off, they don’t even really tell you if they need to be completed in order to move on. You won’t find a marker on how to get to a quest, or exactly what you need to do to complete it. It is almost refreshing, that you walk up to an NPC and they tell you they need a key, but they don’t tell you where or how, just that they need it. You can spend an age wandering about, looking for ways to find this key, or you can move on, it is up to you.

Yet even without any real kind of checklist to refer to, you still have them in the back of your mind, you come to other areas and progress through them, only to think back to what you may have not finished earlier, you aren’t told you need to go back, nor does the game really care if you do or don’t. But you find yourself wanting to do things.

The sense of discovery is outstanding, you will encounter many dead ends, time and time again, but for every one of those you encounter, you will also find a new path to tread. This will take you on another path, that may open up more of the world to you, or it may be another dead end. You may find a path that you struggle to get through, dying multiple times, only to find it leads to nothing. But you are content with that, you may not have achieved anything obvious, but somewhere you have learned something, what that is, may not be immediately obvious, but it will help you down the line.

The combat in Dark Souls II is very satisfying and whilst not being as fluid as some other games, it does make complete sense. Run in and start attacking everything in sight and soon you’ll be back at a bonfire having to re-trace those steps, be too defensive and you’ll be back at that bonfire having to re-trace those steps. You get the idea. It is all about balance and learning the best ways to take on different enemy types. However, it is possible to unleash hell on some enemies, which can really throw you off, you get into a routine and having to change your approach constantly will test your ability to adjust on the fly.

Bosses are challenging, but beating them is satisfying. You know you have been in a boss battle, you know you have been tested and either found wanting, or proved yourself. Bosses aren’t a one time thing either, as many will come back as regular enemies down the line, which can be rather intimidating at first, but you soon realise that your levelling up, means you can take them down with much more ease than that original battle with them.

Unlike Dark Souls, this sequel feels like it a little more open and welcoming. It is still a huge test and it still does away with hand-holding, but it does seem to allow newcomers to step in. There is an early build up that isn’t easier as such, but is a little more approachable it doesn’t thrown its difficulty in your face and make you want to run away screaming. It is still difficult, but it teases you into making progression, you feel even through failure you are making progress, something that didn’t seem was there in Dark Souls.

As you level up your character, you open more abilities, based on your chosen class. You actually feel like you are becoming better and becoming better equipped to deal with what awaits. With looting you gain many items, that should help you on your way, better armour, weapons, magic and more. Your attributes make sense also, you upgrade the right parts and it feels like that is where the improvements have been made, nothing really seems like an arbitrary value, which is great to see in an RPG.

Again though, upgrading weapons and the like isn’t thrust upon you. It is up to you to deal with this, you must remember to go to menus and look at what you have, what you can upgrade and what you can discard. It is the same with what you carry, you are limited, but you aren’t held back. Make use of the bonfires to store items you may not need all the time, making sure you have quick access to the ones you do. Again this is all about learning and understanding, going back after suffering another death, working out what will best aid you as you tackle that area again.

The locales are visually impressive too, there are some very dark areas, ruins, dungeons, etc but there also seems to be a lot more brighter areas to wander around too. Majula early on is a lovely setting for example, with a wonderful coast to look out upon, green areas that a full of wonderful colour and so much more. This though makes going into the darker areas all the more effective, the is a stark contrast and it just makes the world in Dark Souls II fell that much more alive.

Dark Souls was a fantastic game, that felt impenetrable to many, which meant it wasn’t enjoyed by as many as it should have bee. Dark Souls II is an ideal refinement, it maintains all of the original game’s qualities, but opens its doors a little to allow a whole new audience to experience it. It is the perfect sequel.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

A bunch of floating platforms are placed in front of you, taking one leap you land safely on the first before something in the environment is triggered, platforms are falling and you make a lucky jump to the platform ahead. With vines located on the roof you’re able to jump and grab them while everything else collapses around you. In doing so you fail to see the enemies that come flying towards you, in a panic you try and avoid them and fall to your death. This has happened for the tenth time. The Wii U gamepad proceeds to fly against the wall. Welcome to Tropical Freeze. Who said games these days are too easy?

Retro Studio’s second go with the DKC license is more challenging than we remember any previous game in the series being. And note the word “challenging” was used, because while there are many moments of rage quitting, swearing and shouting, it never feels unfair. Whenever you fall to your death or get hit by a projectile, once the red mist has cleared you’ll come round to the fact it was probably your own fault.

In a way, Tropical Freeze could be considered a companion piece with Super Mario 3D World. While not capturing the pure joy and majesty of Nintendo’s flagship Wii U platformer, DKC can stand proudly alongside it. 3D World felt very much like it was open to everyone, welcoming in newcomers and veterans alike. Tropical Freeze is for those people who grew up on those platformers of yesteryear. Ones that after one slip up will furiously pummel you into the ground till you’re a quivering wreck.

The first world in Tropical Freeze doesn’t present that many problems, but from world 2 onwards is where it picks up. Gameplay wise it’s very similar to the previous DKC game, only this time waggle is left at the door. In fact, there’s zero waggle or touch screen support in the entire game. Perhaps not so much an admission that the unique abilities of the Wii U hardware are pointless, more admitting that there’s very little that can be added without turning challenge into frustration. The weakest area of Super Mario 3D Land were the levels that required use of the gamepads touchscreen, and with a game like Tropical Freeze that is more fast paced in its execution, it could be a nuisance. With that said, it would be nice if Retro Studios could’ve at least put something on the gamepads screen. Maybe a map or even a logo would be better than the black screen that has been given.

The new addition, and if you watched the painful demo at the Spike VGA’s you’ll know what this is, is Cranky Kong. Now in playable form, Cranky Kong is basically Scrooge McDuck, using his walking stick to pogo off the ground and enemies. Donkey Kong is always the controllable character, Cranky along with Diddy and Dixie give you their own unique abilities (and two extra hearts). Diddy able to use his jetpack to hover and Dixie channelling the spirit of Luigi and giving Donkey extra airtime when jumping. Dixie being the most useful of the characters, almost to the point where the other two became insignificant. Cranky especially as his ability can lead to all sorts of accidental deaths. Dixie’s ability also making each jump a lot easier to hit, and quite frankly we’ll take all the help we can get.

The level design while staying close to the DKC roots (with floating barrels and your standard world structure) still manages to feel fresh. Yes, the mine cart levels and flying barrels both return, but there’s still enough diversity in each level that you’ll want to see what the next one holds. It also helps that the game looks absolutely glorious. Worlds are vibrant, animations are smooth and now Donkey Kong looks better than ever. On top of the music (that borrows themes from older DKC games and gives them their own twist) this feels like a complete package and not just a rehash of the Wii game which is what everybody first feared. There is a multi-player elements added, but really this is not the type of game that benefits from two players the same way a Mario game would. Still, there’s plenty of longevity to be found in the sheer amount of collectibles and secret levels. KONG letters being scattered through each level and jigsaw pieces that are extremely well hidden, there’s plenty here for the completionist.

Tropical Freeze is a trip to a time when games didn’t hold your hand or treat you like some sort of imbecile. It revels in its challenge and while there will be many moments of screaming and frustration, it never feels unfair, and that’s what makes this game great.

Watch_Dogs arrives 27th May

The biggest downside of the next-gen launches was the absence of Watch_Dogs, but you won’t have to wait much longer to get your hands on it. Ubi Soft have announced the game finally arrives on 27th May.

In a day full of Watch_Dogs news it’s also been revealed that PS3 and PS4 players will get 60 minutes of exclusive gameplay.

“We’re really excited for the launch of Watch Dogs on both PS3 and PS4 and are confident that it will prove to be one of the standout games of 2014,” said Michael Pattison, vice president of Third Party Relations at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

“It’s a unique and visionary game and we believe that the exclusive content available via PSN will not only excite gamers, but showcase how PlayStation is a preferred destination for Watch Dogs.”

Here’s the new Story trailer:

It’s worth noting that the 27th May date is for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions with the Wii U version released at “a later date”.

UBISOFT® ANNOUNCES THE CHILD OF LIGHT™ DELUXE EDITION

London, UK – March 5th, 2014 – Today, Ubisoft announced that Child of LightTM, the poetic turn-based RPG that will release digitally on April 30th, 2014, will also be available the same day in retail as a Deluxe Edition on PlayStation® 3, PlayStation® 4 and on Windows® PC. This Deluxe Edition is available for pre-orders right now and will be available in the UK and other EMEA territories only.

The Child of LightTM Deluxe Edition will contain exclusive content, including a poster designed by Yoshitaka Amano, the renowned Japanese artist, a 24 page art book with unrevealed artwork and an Igniculus key ring. This boxed edition will also include additional game content, with a bonus quest, a new character and a pack of collectibles.

Additionally, the PlayStation® 3 and PlayStation® 4 versions of the game, both in retail and digital, will benefit from the cross-buy option. Therefore, players buying Child of LightTM on PlayStation® 3 and PlayStation® 4 will be able to play the game on both platforms at no additional cost.

Child of LightTM is created by a small team of seasoned developers based in Ubisoft Montreal.  It has been developed on Ubisoft’s UbiArt Framework, a powerful engine that lets programmers and artists bring their art to life by allowing original concept art to be inserted unedited into the game world. In Child of LightTM, the effect is akin to stepping into an interactive painting.

Child of LightTM is a reimagining of classic fairytales, inviting players on an epic adventure into the magical painted world of Lemuria.  Players will uncover mysteries, participate in turn-by-turn combat inspired by classic JRPGs, and explore a mystical kingdom. The game puts players in the shoes of Aurora, a child stolen from her home, who, in her quest to return, must bring back the sun, the moon and the stars held captive by the Queen of the Night. Helped by her companion Igniculus the firefly and several unlikely allies, Aurora will face her darkest fears, including dragons and other mystical creatures, in this modern take on a coming-of-age story.

The game will be available for download on Xbox LIVE for the Xbox® 360 and Xbox® One, the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation® 3 and PlayStation® 4, the eShop from Nintendo for the Wii U, and PC Digital, at the price of £11.99.

For more information on Child of LightTM, please visit: http://childoflight.ubi.com/

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review

Come on down to South Park and meet some friends of mine! That is exactly what we will do, in the 6th South Park game to date. Previous titles have been average to pretty bad since the first title in 1998, but this one has had a lot more hands on work by the show’s creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, meaning it should be the most faithful representation of the show yet.

What impresses most about Stick of Truth, is that at first glance, it is indistinguishable from the TV show, the visuals, the animations and the voice acting are a perfect match to the what you will see on TV. The show has a very distinct style and it is recreated here to an absolute tee. From the very first moment, you are drawn in to the game and the world around thanks to iconic look and feel.

In older games, developers have tried to make the game 3D, which doesn’t match up at all with what South Park is, or others have kept the 2D feel, but used a fair bit of creative license which has meant that, even though it is a South Park game, you can tell straight away, that it is a game, based on the show.

Here though, this feel like an extension of the show and much like South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut, a natural progression to the the South Park world. When the movie was released, it felt like it was the right medium at the right time and despite potential for a second movie (just look at some of the 3 parters they have done over the years) Matt and Trey haven’t gone for that. Doing a game at this time just feels right and in the overall timeline of South Park, it is an ideal fit.

The game itself should be something fans of the show should pick up on, using themes based on the characters dressing up as mythical characters, that are influenced by the likes of Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and the like. The story here is that you play a new kid in town and are thrust into a battle between human and elves for the mystical Stick of Truth. You are introduced to Cartman very early on, who asks your name. It is here that the first bit of South Park humour comes to the surface, no matter what you enter, you will be known as Douchebag, it is both funny and takes a small swipe at usual RPG elements. You then set up your class from one of four options, including Jew and given some basic battle training.

It is from there you must set off on your journey, making your way around the vast map, as you complete a series of quests. We say vast map, but it in realist is a map of South Park itself, but again, using known elements of the show, the boy’s imaginations see it as more than the small mountain town and despite the relatively small size of the map, it never feels over used, nor boring. Early quests are design mainly to give you a tour of the town and teach you the various game mechanics, as well as introducing the various characters.

Gameplay itself is far from groundbreaking, battles are a traditional turn based affair, based primarily on games like Paper Mario. You chose an attack and hit a well timed button to deal maximum damage. Use the same timed button press to defend attacks and potentially counter an attack. There are various potions that can be used to heal or revive during battle, again nothing that you wouldn’t have seen before.

Battles aren’t exactly taxing either, save for the odd boss, but that really doesn’t matter, as much of this is about the story and the humour. So with that in mind, the battle segments are generally well paced, the only issue is that they do at times become a hindrance as you move round the map completing quests, because of their ease. However, that is a mild hindrance, rather than something that destroys the experience.

Getting around town on foot is more than worth it, for the well placed references to all things South Park, from characters, posters, hidden items and musical cues, such as Kyle’s Mum’s a B***h, to Blame Canada, the well known songs are all there and are a joy to listen to, bringing back memories from the show’s history. Even side-quests will reference known stories from the past and are cleverly intertwined within the game.

Despite the size of the map, you aren’t limited to walking everywhere, as there are some very generous quick travel options, as Timmy will come and take you from one part of the map to the other in double quick time. Again this is a great use of the South Park humour and a little swipe at traditions RPG mechanics, as really, you don’t need the quick travel to get anywhere and overall it saves little time at all.

For some reason, content in the PAL regions were cut from the game (you’re safe in the US), that adds up to a couple of minutes gameplay time in total. Whilst it is a shame that content aimed at adults has to be cut from a game that has been made for adults and given the relevant age rating, it allows Matt & Trey to use some of their creativeness to add in some censored screens, that actually may be more amusing than the content censored anyway. However it is 2014 and we are adults and content shouldn’t be cut from one region and not another, but that is a discussion for another day.

On consoles there are a couple of technical niggles, that should have been ironed out, considering the delays, however they are there. Again, it is nothing game breaking, but as you walk around the map the frame-rate will drop occasionally, especially when running, some animations during battles may get trapped in a loop, but again this is very rare. It is just a shame that they are there.

There are probably around 15-16 hours of game play just following the main story, which feels well balanced, as there is no way the humour here would work over a 40-50 hour campaign. The pacing is pretty much spot on, however, should you want to explore and do more the the side quests, find the little treats dotted around the game, then you can extend your time by a good few extra hours.

This isn’t a game for everyone, it is one that can be enjoyed by many, but it will be fans of the show itself, that will get most satisfaction from the game. Someone who hasn’t really watched may not get half the references, especially the recent ‘Black Friday Trilogy’ that acted as a bit of a setup for the game, but fans will lap up everything on offer and have a wonderful time during their stay in the quite mountain town.

Rocksteady return for Batman: Arkham Knight

It’s obvious a lot of people were disappointed with Arkham Origins. Coming from a different team than the previous games Asylum and City, it suffered from game breaking bugs that Warner Bros would later say were not going to be fixed. But be sure to buy their story DLC! 

Batman: Arkham Knight though is back in the hands of Rocksteady. Set one year after the events of Arkham City, the below trailer showcases what villains the Dark Knight is coming up against, including Scarecrow, Two-Face and Harley Quinn.

The biggest game changer is the inclusion of the Batmobile, which will actually be drivable. “We’ve known it’s what people want,” said game director Sefton Hill. “It refreshes the whole experience.” Hill also saying that this is “the natural end for the story.”

Batman: Arkham City is scheduled for a 2014 release on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Fez heading to PS4, PS3 and Vita this month

Playstation fans will finally get their hands on Fez later this month as it heads to PS4, PS3 and Vita on 26th March.

Originally released in 2012, Fez became a huge hit with its unique look and puzzles. It was also aided by being one of the featured games in the documentary Indie Game: The Movie.

Polytron are certainly hyping up the PS4 version. “Playing it on PS4 is what we consider to be the best-looking and smoothest Fez experience you can get on a TV set, running at beautiful 1080p (and yes, 60fps too),” said Polytron producer Marie-Christine Bourdua.”You wouldn’t think that upping the resolution would make a big difference in a game like ours, where the pixels are the size of Gomez’s fist… but it really does look even crisper and blockier – in a good way.”

According to Polyton there won’t be much in the way of added content, but for Playstation users who have yet to experience Fez this will be the perfect opportunity.