Gat Out Of Hell in new Saints Row IV expansion

And I bet you thought the Saints Row IV DLC train was over. Think again as today Deep Silver have announced the brilliantly named Gat Out of Hell expansion.

Not just that, but Saints Row IV is also coming to Xbox One and PS4 in a new “Re-elected” edition. This remastered version also comes with this new content, which features Gat and co going to the depths of hell to blow stuff up, punch demons in the face and stop a wedding….or something. The trailer is below:

Both Re-elected and Gat Out of Hell are scheduled for a 30th January release.

The Walking Dead: Season Two Episode 5 – No Going Back Review

As good as season 1 was throughout, it’s really the last episode that sticks with you. That final moment with Lee was heart wrenching, with two powerful performances from its lead actors; it showed how good storytelling in games could be. Because of that No Going Back, the final episode of Season 2, was always facing an uphill struggle. And you know what, they’ve only gone and pulled it off. Spoilers for the season up to this point will naturally follow.

We left our cast in a little trouble in the last episode. Two groups came together and bullets have begun to fly. Picking up here you’re thrown right into the thick of it with little chance to take a breath. Despite this hectic start the episode soon sets on a more steady pace and you realise you’re going to be delving deeper into each character unlike any episode that has come before.

The middle portion is very much about the characters, what has driven them to this point, and you start to really feel connected to each one. A complaint that can be levelled at previous episodes is that you never feel part of this group like you did in the first season, barely remembering their names half the time. Episode 5 goes some way to rectifying this. There’s a beautiful moment where you actually get time to unwind, share jokes, talk to people. It’s something that the season has lacked thus far, as the game pummels you with misery and despair. It’s nice to get some light relief.

That only lasts a short while though. Telltale obviously must’ve felt they needed to do something radically different to set it apart from last season’s final scenes. And boy, have they accomplished it. The choices young Clementine are given will stay with you long after the game is completed. Even now we feel a great wave of regret over our decisions. It is all brilliantly done. There are plenty of standout moments throughout this episode, but obviously we’re teetering on the edge of spoiler territory and this is really a game that must be experienced knowing as little as possible.

At a time when games are often criticised for tailoring too much to the male white demographic, it’s amazing that a game where you control a young girl gets made at all. And to have her be a believable character on top of that. Over two seasons you’ve seen her grow and change, and you feel like your choices have  made an impact on that. That’s really the greatest achievement in all this.  Remember Mass Effect 3? It was maligned by everyone because at the end of the day it felt like your choices didn’t matter. In a way, The Walking Dead is similar. Like Mass Effect 3 the game clearly has a beginning and end that is almost entirely set in stone, but it’s the events that occur in between that set it apart. You feel like your character is changing with each moment, whereas Shepard felt like a blank slate that the player projected onto, with very little in the way of character development. Telltale really are on top of their game at the minute.

Everything you loved about the first season has been expertly crafted into one episode. It’s wonderfully acted, brilliantly written and will have you thinking about it well after the credits roll.

The latest Tropes Vs Women video is a must watch

The latest in the Tropes Vs Woman video series has naturally brought with it a maelstrom of hate and even threats to the creator Anita Sarkeesian. But it’s essential viewing, especially for game developers.

The past couple of weeks have not painted the games industry in a great light. Not going into too much into it, but you probably know what we’re talking about. Making us even question whether this is a hobby we want to be a part of.

The latest video from Anita focuses on Women as Background Decoration and really does have a number of excellent points. One that really hit home for us was the scene in God of War 3 where Kratos, the hero (?) of the story pretty much tortures a pleading, half naked woman to solve a puzzle. Imagine, grown men actually though that was a good idea. You can watch it here:

The video series has got the support of a number of high profile game developers including Tim Schafer. Not to mention movie director Joss Whedon. Although Gamestyle is merely a small speck of sand in the endless beach of the Internet, Anita definitely has our support.

Mario Kart 8 to get new Animal Crossing and Zelda themed DLC

Fancy some Zelda and Animal Crossing in your Mario Kart 8? Well, you’re in luck! Nintendo have revealed two new pieces of Mario Kart 8 DLC .

Priced at a nice £7 each, these packs will include new characters and tracks. Also, they may be £7 each, but pre-purchase and not only do you save money by getting them for £11, but also some new colours for Yoshi and Shy Guy. Great value! Release dates and what each pack contains are below:

The Legend of Zelda X Mario Kart 8 pack (Released: November 2014) includes:

  • 3 Characters: Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link
  • 4 Vehicles
  • 8 Courses

Animal Crossing X Mario Kart 8 (Released: May 2015) includes:

  • 3 Characters: Villager, Isabelle, Dry Bowser
  • 4 Vehicles
  • 8 Courses

Strider Review

“Assassinate Grand Master Meio”. As Strider Hiryu descends into Kazakh City this is the only objective given. No backstory, just go kill some guy. And to do so will require cutting your way through an army of soldiers in this surprisingly fun reboot.

Borrowing elements from various games in the Strider series, for the more modern amongst you the easiest comparison would be with Shadow Complex. You’re given a point which you’re supposed to reach, but other than you’re free to explore this 2D world. Of course, there are limits to your exploration as certain areas will be off limits until you acquire the specific weapon or ability.

The combat can be, at times, simplistic. A lot of the enemies (especially early in the game) can be dispatched by just hammering attack until they fall down, especially as health is fairly in abundance. Defeating enemies recovers health, as do the health pick-ups that are frequently found. Checkpoints are also fairly common, so if you do happen to die then you’re not sent back too far. Later enemies do require a little more skill, with shields and giant mechs appearing, it’s really only the bosses that require the most skill. They all have their own attack patterns, but like so many boss fights that require pinpoint jumping, it’s easier to learn the pattern than actually combatting it. Later bosses in particular can be challenging, and with each death, there’s always the “one more go” mentality.

There’s also some challenge with the platforming sections, but falling to your death only knocks off minimal health so it’s not exactly punishing you for failure. That aside, these sections can still be tough and the addition of a dash manoeuvre later in the game brings with it the more interesting platform sections.

Graphically it doesn’t look too bad, for a last gen game. This could very well be a straight port to the PS4, which is disappointing. There’s certainly nothing here that will make your draw drop and the cut scenes (which are few and far between) are really quite poor. Of course though you don’t play a Strider game expecting an in-depth story, but a little more effort in making this look and feel next gen wouldn’t go amiss. Despite being a 2D game there are ways of making it look wonderful (hello Resogun), which are sadly lacking here. Part of this could be the opening. Right from the off you’re parachuted into Kazakh City before taking on a giant mechanical, flying snake. It looks really good, but from here there’s not much variety in environments. You jump across rooftops, go through the sewers and travel around some pretty identical laboratories. The bosses also don’t really top that opening fight, the vast majority of them being fights against other ninjas next to a pretty plain backdrop.

As Strider comes complete with a trophy that says “Complete the game in under 4 hours” then you should realise that Strider is not a long game. That trophy in particular is hard to get mind, and for your first playthrough you can easily add on another hour or two to that time as you search for all the hidden upgrades and concept art. Not mention the boss battle difficulty spikes that can occur. It may feel like you’re blasting through the game before you come across a boss fight that knocks you straight back to Earth.

Criticisms aside, it’s hard not to recommend Strider for those craving another Shadow Complex-like adventure. It’s a highly enjoyable remake that with a bit more polish and interesting combat could’ve been something even more special.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 Review

First things first, we never played the original Hyperdimension Neptunia in which Re;Birth is a remake of, so we’re coming at this with a fresh perspective. And if this is said to improve elements from the original, it’s not a series we’re that keen to delve into. Of course, there’s some stuff to like, but much like Mugen Souls Z, another Compile Heart game we reviewed a few months back, it’s buried beneath layers and layers of awfulness.

A lot of the plot aims to poke fun, or maybe parody, the games industry. The world you inhabit is called Gameindustri and revolves around goddesses battling it out in The Console War. The game is full of nods and winks to various gaming terms, that with actual writers could’ve been funny, but instead they’re almost painful

The voice acting is like nails on a chalkboard. The game consisting of young, whiny girls that just ramble on incessantly about nothing. And that’s really what the plot is like, characters will go on and on about something that doesn’t even matter. Five minute cut scenes could be wrapped up in five seconds if they cut all the chaff. It could be said this is what the anime audience wants, but having watched an awful lot of high quality anime lately, this would do the medium a huge disservice.

But again, like Mugen Souls Z there’s a solid gameplay idea at the bottom of all this. The actual turn based combat is perfectly fine. A party of three, at the start of each turn you can move your character around the battlefield (within the moveable circle), getting into position to attack or in a defensive position if you choose to heal. It adds a nice positional tactic to proceedings. Standard attacks are combined into various types, for instance using the X button will initiate a guard break, whereas the square button is for strong physical attacks. Combining these making combos. Of course, the usual JRPG like skills are all present and accounted for. The combat is certainly not the problem with the gameplay, it’s the grinding.

In one of the early areas you find yourself in you will breeze past the enemies, only to come across a boss fight and bam, destroyed in one hit. The progression seems incredibly off with large sections of ease soon met with an enormous difficulty spike. Each big encounter feels like it needs a couple of hours grinding time, making the game incredibly repetitive. And why really bother when there’s no hook?

For people who are actually fans of the series, then Compile Heart deserve some credit for not just creating a quick cash grab and adding a number of elements that were introduced to the series later on. This includes the likes of music, battle system and even the plot which has been given an overhaul. The most interesting however being the remake system, which by collecting plans you’re able to alter the dungeons by adding harder enemies, changing the items and more.

Graphically the game is perfectly fine also. It looks nice on the Vita, worlds are bright and colourful, and the 2D characters pop out (and not just their breasts! Boom!) during the cut scenes. Musically it’s not bad either, in fact, technically it’s all rather impressive, making it even more infuriating as to how it’s all turned out.

The main issue then with Neptunia Re;Birth is not the underlying imagery of young anime girls showing their assets, it’s that it’s all so dull. The plot line is pointless, voice acting excruciating and features an unnecessary amount of grinding. The only saving grace coming in the form of the combat, which contains a number of neat ideas that hopefully one day will find its way into a better game.

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited Review

There are two things that will hit you immediately if you are making your first foray into the Disgaea series with this entry. First the lighthearted overtones to the story and characters and second, the initially confusing mechanics. But with a little patience and some effort from yourself, you can find a very rewarding experience. 

You take on the role of Lord Valvatorez a demon who has been sent to the netherworld and given the role of training the Prinnies, in exchange for a supply of sardines, which he uses as a substitute for human blood. However, one of Valvatorez’ qualities is he always keeps a promise and when the Prinnies are abducted before graduating his class (which is a scenario for a glorified tutorial) he must set off to save them and thus keeping his promise and honor in tact.

Of course the story branches off somewhat from the opening setup, but what you will find is a well written game with characters who whilst not immediately lovable, do grow on you and do make sense in the world and setting they are placed in. Interactions between characters come across as though they are between two hammy actors on the stage in the West End, which adds to the comical tones of everything.

The initial mechanics can be awkward to get used to, despite the tutorials in the opening battles. But as you progress you soon find that you are able to use the various tactics introduced to you earlier. The battles you take part in are turn based, with you and your opponent taking turns in phases.

You will start by moving your character on a grid to get them in position to either attack, lift, defend, etc. Then you will set the actions before finally executing. Now at this point you phase isn’t over, unless you choose ‘End Turn’ so you can even set up an attack with some of the characters in play,  execute those moves, then even bring more into play before executing theirs. It allows you to really use some tactics to get the upper hand.

One example of this is moving a character to a certain square on the grid, then moving a second character behind them, using the second character to throw the first character to a higher point, executing that move-set, then using the first thrown character to attack the enemy that was previously unreachable. That whilst being a very simple use of the mechanics and the phases show off just how deep a battle can potentially go and is actually a lot less forgiving than something such as Demon Gaze or Persona in this respect.

There is lots more beyond just the story and the battle mechanics, as you use a hub world to buy and sell weapons, armour and more, as well as learning new skills, building your team, etc. Whilst a lot of this is just a variation on what you can expect in other RPG’s it takes a lot of time to figure it out properly here.

What you will get here is around 40+ hours of main game content alone, but if you really want to get through all the potential sub content, quests, collectibles, etc then there is easily over 100 hours on offer. Limits are pretty damn impressive too, with a level cap of 9999 and damage numbers that go to insane levels. Again this adds to the overall amusement of Disgaea 4.

This is a SRPG that isn’t for everyone and whilst it isn’t totally inaccessible for newcomers, it is clearly a game designed for fans of the genre and more specifically the series itself.  But that’s no bad thing as for anyone willing to put in the time and effort there is a very rewarding experience on offer.

The Last Tinker: City of Colors Review

Remember that blurry photo in the tabloids that looked like Tearaway was leaving Assassin’s Creed’s home very early in the morning and there was all that speculation? Well of course not, because that would be absurd, these are video games and not human beings.  However The Last Tinker is definitely the illegitimate love child of those two games and is something of a surprise too.

The Last Tinker: City of Colors is a real throwback to the 3D platformers of the PS2 and XBOX era, a game that just wants you to jump in and have a good time. But it still has a very well written story with a few deeper meanings.

You play as Koru, who lives in the Outer District where colours can mix without any issues. But away from the outer district there is major segregation, reds cannot mix with blues, who cannot mix with greens, who cannot mix with reds. It is up to Koru to help the world and bring harmony to the various districts once again.

When the game first starts, it is apparent that there is somewhat of a social commentary going on in the story that mirrors many of the issues in our own world, but and here is the big thing… It isn’t at all pushing any ideals onto you the player and how the story all fits together is actually pretty heartwarming.

It is a very basic story truth be told, but this is a game that is aimed at families and younger audiences and it has that traditional moral element to it that you’d find in many family TV programmes and that is fine. The characters themselves are likable and are all very well designed and that mixed with the story will keep even the younger ones engaged for the seven or so hours the game lasts.

The visuals of The Last Tinker are wonderful too. This is a world where the concept is that it has been fully hand crafted from paper and other materials and even on close inspection you cannot help but be impressed by the over aesthetic. It isn’t quite at Tearaway levels, but it is beautiful and even the odd framerate dip doesn’t dampen the beauty.

One issue that can plague a 3D platformer is in how it is controlled, how you navigate and how the combat works and again The Last Tinker seems to have got these elements well balanced. Koru can’t jump, but instead navigates any climbable elements by holding R2 and free-running. This works just as well as you’d see in Assassin’s Creed and it really satisfying to do.

The same goes with combat, it is like a toned down version of what you’d see in Assassin’s Creed and even the Rocksteady Batman games, where you flow between enemies, dodging and hitting combos as you go and again for a game like this, it feels surprisingly well put together and without any hint of frustration.

Mixed in with the traversing of the world and the combat are some very basic puzzle elements and here is one part where it can get a little tedious at times. Some of the puzzles are basic, which is fine, but they do feel a little drawn out in places in what feels like an attempt to artificially add some extra play time to a fairly short game. Thankfully though these drawn out puzzles only seem to appear every now and again, as for the most part the pacing seems just about right.

The Last Tinker: City of Colors isn’t a game that will immediately grab your attention and is unlikely to change any opinions on the genre, but what you do have is a well put together middle of the road game that can be enjoyed by anyone with even a passing interest in platformers. Especially welcoming for those introducing children into gaming.

Pinball FX2: Guardians of the Galaxy Table Review

For those not familiar with the crack-like glory that is Pinball FX 2 (also known as Zen Pinball on some formats) maybe a little background is needed. It is a pinball game (yes, really) that has been released on practically every format currently available and has an expansive library of tables, some of which are themed around licensed properties such as Marvel titles, Star Wars, Plants Vs Zombies and Street Fighter, as well as some that are original concepts.

If you’re a person who is predisposed to Pokemon-esque mindsets of catching ‘em all, buying all the tables available can be a bit costly, but the creativity broadly displayed in the tables makes it worthwhile. With Pinball FX 2 being a digital pinball game it gives Zen Studios license to be a bit off the wall with the ramps, table scenery, mini games and the like that they couldn’t create if it was a metal and glass physical table.

As movie tie ins go, to say the Guardians of the Galaxy table is low key is something of an understatement. Still, it beats a crappy, rushed 3rd person shooter any day of the week, and it’s also nicely timed with the release of the aforementioned Pinball FX 2 on Xbox One. After some soul searching (or more likely after an avalanche of displeased screaming from the people who already own the game on Xbox 360) it turns out Zen Studios have decided to go back on their initial stance of not allowing you to import purchases from the previous generation so you don’t have to fork out all over again! Fabulous! Seeing as Sony’s Cross Buy purchasing system has allowed PS3 owners to download their purchases on the Ps4 version, it’d make Microsoft look a little bit stingy.

Before the table could be downloaded and played though, the old tables needed (as dictated by that Pokemon mindset mentioned up the page) to be imported to the Xbox One version. The first reaction was “It desperately needs an import all feature”, but it could be that the way the Xbox store works doesn’t allow that, so each table has to be ‘purchased’ individually. It checks whether you have the tables in your Xbox transaction history and then adjusts the cost to £0.00 accordingly. It’s cumbersome, but relatively painless. Unfortunately not all tables are available at launch (the first Marvel table bundle and original table Earth Defense, for example) and some aren’t coming at all (Ms Splosionman and Pinball FX 1 tables). Hopefully all the missing tables confirmed as being ported across will be available in short order.

For now, though, the newest addition of The Guardians of the Galaxy table continues Zens trend of producing solid, fun tables while handling the license with as much care and fan service as possible. The decision to use the the recently released movie as inspiration for the tables theme rather than the Abnett/Lanning comics is probably very sensible, though there are no licensed music tracks or and the snippets of dialogue has been re-recorded to the usual standard fans of the game can expect (I.E. terrible).

The table starts with a multiball, where the display records how many inmates you’ve defeated and credits you’ve earned, but it’s unclear as to what either of these things mean. Fortunately, the rest of the table is more transparent in how to unlock the modes and features, usually by the tried and tested method of hitting ramps to light up letters, thereby triggering modes. The two long ramps that are easiest to access have the longest names, both of which start multiball modes, the other ramps having names of characters from the movie like Yondu, Gamora, Rocket and Drax which you need to light up to trigger the 6 modes needed to start the Wizard mode. You don’t have to complete the modes to make them count towards Wizard mode, but if you do complete them you get an Orb Bonus mode which awards large amounts of points for shots, and the more you complete the higher the multiplier when you trigger later versions of the Orb Bonus as well as the bonus for if you complete the Wizard mode.

Guardians of the Galaxy is great fun to play, and it’s one of the clearer tables to get to grips with as the field is relatively uncluttered. It’s a little drab to look at, what with the aesthetic being pulled from the movie so it lacks the brash, primary coloured bombast of other Marvel tables. There are character balls for each mode like in the Avengers table, but you can only swap them out in certain modes.

If you’re a fan of the movie you’ll appreciate the little touches, like the skill shot out of the initial Kyln mode at the beginning of each game, the ball lock for multiball being The Collector (because he collects stuff *cough*), and the extra mini table in the Gamora Vs Nebula mode, but these things might be lost on those just buying the table because they want another one to play. Also, the frantic multiball at the beginning, though impossible to fail on because of ball save, feels a little like delaying getting to the meat of the table for no good reason. Of course, it could have some impact on something else in the game but it’s unclear as to what.

There are other tiny niggles like Quill’s incessant, repetitive quips which lack the charm of Pratt’s delivery, and there’s a piece of scenery dressing that obscures the third flipper a little in certain views. Also, the music is incredibly repetitive so chances are you’ll be muting that once you’ve played the table a few times. Still, they are only tiny things, and for the price of less than a coffee (or cup of tea, or a pint, or something else that costs more than £2.50) Guardians of the Galaxy is a great addition to the Pinball FX library.

Surgeon Simulator: Anniversary Edition Review

It says a lot about Sony’s recent attitude when it comes to what it allows on its consoles. Not a week seems to go by where there isn’t a new Indie title coming out on their system. Many of them have still been what you would consider traditional game types. However, the simulator genre is something that only a few small months ago would only have been found on the PC.

So seeing Surgeon Simulator on the PS4 really highlights that anything can find a home on PSN. It isn’t at a stage yet where there is zero quality control, but the fact that games that don’t exactly have mass appeal are appearing shows what a great range of choice we as gamers now have, no matter what system we own.

Surgeon Simulator isn’t exactly something that has an end game as such and it is better suited for purely mucking around and having a laugh with, because despite being a ‘simulator’ it is as serious as a David Zucker written film.

The idea is you control a single arm of a surgeon and must perform a series of operations using the various tools on hand. It starts off ‘easy’ as you perform a simple heart transplant, using a hammer to crack open the patients ribs, before pulling out the lungs to reach the heart, before eventually replacing it.

Unlike a game such as the excellent Trauma Center, precision control isn’t exactly the order of the day. You move the arm around using the left stick, control the angle of the hand using either motion controls or the right stick, a trigger for the height of the arm and R1/R2 for gripping.

The controls themselves are in essence horrible to use, as the first few times you play it is difficult to even pick up a tool correctly, let alone use said tool. You’ll find yourself flinging a hammer across the patience exposed rib-cage, maybe even losing the hammer completely, before moving to a drill and causing your patient to lose a hell of a lot of blood.

There is a game over state, as humans, as a rule have a finite amount of blood, lose too much and we die and the same is true here. Once your patient starts to lose blood you’ll be shown how much they are losing per second and how much they have left before they die. Once this happens panic starts to set in and more and more mistakes happen.

But little do you actually care. It doesn’t matter if you suck at this game, because it is designed to be somewhere to have some fun and just muck around. Which is why the awkward controls just add to the experience and why the game is designed to make life a difficult as possible. If this was serious and had precise controls, then it simply wouldn’t be fun.

As it stands, Surgeon Simulator is fun but is single player only, but there is a a patch coming that allows a second player to control a second arm. This alone sounds like a great addition and can only ramp up the enjoyment when played locally with a friend or family member.

Right now though, you have to make do with taking turns, but in all honesty it is fine, as you fumble around yourself before handing the controls over and mocking the next person as they try to do better than you. It is a great family game, but is even better again with a few friends and a few drinks.

Surgeon Simulator is far from being a must own, it isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but for those who fancy something that doesn’t take itself seriously and just wants you to have a laugh, then this is an ideal pick up.

Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Review

What initially may seem as a bizarre combination has actually turned out to be quite ingenious. Despite different approaches to everything from character designs to gameplay, the courtroom drama of Phoenix Wright and the puzzle solving antics of Layton have melded into something that not once felt out of place. It wasn’t long before we were sucked into the world and wanted to uncover every last mystery of Labyrinthia. 

Labyrinthia being the mysterious town Phoenix, Layton, Maya and Luke find themselves in after an opening prologue where we’re re-introduced to the two gameplay styles present. Layton’s puzzle solving skills are required again, there are a good range of puzzles here, some of which required a lot of thought (or Hint Coins) if you happen to have them. Phoenix Wright once again enters the courtroom with testimonies, evidence and objections all present and accounted for. That’s not to say each character is locked to their specific gameplay style. Phoenix will often aid in tackling puzzles and Layton himself will be no stranger to the courtroom as the game progresses.

Set around the world of witchcraft and magic, both series’ have always had to endure a leap of logic when it comes to the plot, but none quite so drastic. If you’re not on board with the story from the opening few scenes then you may never be. Admittedly it took us a while to truly be on board as Phoenix Wright, who is usually grounded a lot more in the real world, albeit an incredibly fantastical one, was seemingly transported into a magical book. Even though the game manages to wrap everything up quite neatly, toning down the absurdity in the process, there were still questions left unanswered that the writers probably hoped people had forgot about. Chances are you’ll be carried along for the ride though, it’s only when you’re given time to really reflect on what you played that a few holes start to appear.

What really helps you be taken into the story, no matter how weird it gets is the writing, which has always been a strong point in both series. Writing is sharp and witty with all characters getting suitable time to shine. Newer characters, such as Barnham, who often clashes swords with Phoenix in the courtroom, are also great additions. Even the more irritating characters, such as the loud mouth drunk that you bump into numerous times, has his charm.

The gameplay then manages to mesh both styles surprisingly well. This is also the case with the music. That great Phoenix Wright theme manages to transition effortlessly into Layton’s. And yes, when it’s all coming to a head in the courtroom the music ramps up, and with one solid “Objection” that theme begins to play. This usually accompanied by the traditional finger pointing animation, with Layton now getting in on the action. Graphically the game looks lovely, with only a few dropped frames, usually when more than one character is animating, but it’s barely noticeable.

Despite playing two both fanbases, it’s not just about taking what already exists, at least with the courtroom portion. For the first time in the series there can be multiple witnesses giving testimonies at any one time. So as one testimony is given the other witness could appear shocked at something heard (accompanied with a sound effect) it’s at this point the person could be questioned. It doesn’t change the gameplay in any major way, but is a nice new addition that could work well in future, solo, Phoenix Wright adventures.

A successful combination of both Layton and Wright. Maybe a little lengthy for its own good, with a story that could have ended a couple of hours earlier, it is nevertheless a great celebration of both series.

Gravity Crash Ultra Review

Was you one of those that played Gravity Crash when it released on the PS3? You know, those days before Indies were mainstream. If so then you’ll hopefully remember a game that was rather challenging, yet awfully satisfying, maybe you even got the PSP port of the game. 

Well now Gravity Crash has been re-imagined, given a lick of paint and has been released for the Vita as Gravity Crash Ultra. There are a host of updates, but it essentially sticks to the same formula as the original, but just what is Gravity Crash?

Well, if you’ve played PixelJunk Shooter, you’ll get an idea of how this plays, but with a few differences that make it a worthwhile option compared to Shooter. You control a space craft and the idea is to fly around a level completing various tasks, such as saving humans, killing certain enemies, collecting a required number of gems, etc.

What Gravity Crash Ultra does really well, is instead of just focusing on the tasks in each level, it encourages you to better your score or time it has taken to beat said level. Even the very first level you play, you’ll find that once finished you are nowhere near the suggested par time. So back you go to try and do it faster, this time skipping elements such as killing the no threatening enemies that are spread across the level.

Instead you focus on collecting the gems and getting a fast time, however, your score is much lower, so you go back again, this time trying to get the highest score possible, looking for any hidden opportunities to get those few extra points. This is what Gravity Crash Ultra does exceptionally well.

You find that you will play the same level over and over as you attempt to get better and reach a ceiling of your own abilities, but still, those leaderboards are also there to tell you that it is possible to go better once more. But you’ve exhausted all possibilities right?

Well not quite, as there are options you can consider before entering a level, such as the type of ship you are using and how it controls, as well as the various special weapon types, that each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Other things that you need to be aware of are things such as an ever depleting fuel supply, which measn you can’t simply go through a level like a bull in a china shop, instead you need to be aware that if you run out of fuel, you have a dead ship on your hands and no way to progress through that particular level.

It’s not all doom and gloom with this though, as there are various objects that can be shot, which will release fuel for you to stock up, but also, how you control your ship will also determine how much fuel you use. Always on the thrusters? Then your fuel will disappear very quickly, use them sparingly and the fuel will last longer.

However, as with everything in the game, there are pros and cons to either method. Using the thrusters a lot will see the fuel deplete quicker, but you’ll get things done quicker and maybe get a faster time, be gentle on them and you’ll save fuel, but be a lot slower through the level. Again though on the flip to that, you will find you are more accurate with shooting enemies and the like.

Although the general idea of each level is very similar, where you have to reach a target objective, the variation is such that it rarely becomes boring, or a chore that you would rather not bother with. Instead it is a game that wants you to get better with each new level you play and wants you to get the most out of it. To this end the development team have done a fantastic job.

But the visuals…Oh the visuals. The retro neon look works fantastically well on the Vita’s OLED and after popping on the PSP to have a look at the original (of sorts) we was mightily impressed by just how much sharper the game looked. Not only that, it felt more alive and less static than the original did also. Playing with some headphones on meant the world outside just slowly evaporated as the game sucked us in.

Gravity Crash Ultra is just another example of a game that has found a home on the Vita and it quite simply perfectly suited to Sony’s handheld. At just less than £6 on release this is also some fantastic value for money. Buy it instantly.

Kojima, Del Toro and Reedus team up for Silent Hills

Many things have come out of this year’s Gamescom, one of the most interesting however is the collaboration between Hideo Kojima, Guillermo Del Toro and The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus in the new Silent Hill game.

Called Silent Hills, it was unveiled with a teaser game dubbed P.T which could be downloaded on PS4. People that completed the interactive teaser were then treated to a short trailer.

And here it is:

Little is known about platforms, apart from PS4, and the date is still unknown. But this collaboration has got us interested in Silent Hill for the first time in years.

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition coming to PS4 and Xbox One

It’s been rumoured for a while, but today the confirmation has come that Sleeping Dogs will be coming to Xbox One and PS4 later this year.

Released in 2012, Sleeping Dogs was actually a really good open world game in the style of GTA. Whether it’s good enough to warrant a purchase on new systems is debatable however, especially with the more impressive GTA5 re-release arriving around the same time. There will however be 24 pieces of DLC including in the package.

“It was an exciting opportunity for the original development team to be able revisit a game we’re so passionate about,” said Dan Sochan, senior producer at developer United Front Games.

“We’re giving old and new fans a lot reasons to pick up the game, as we’ve gone beyond just increasing resolution and running at 1080p. We listened to the fans: we tuned gameplay, we added to the ambiance of Hong Kong, increased audio fidelity and pushed the visuals further than we could on the previous generation of consoles.”

Here’s the trailer:

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is out on 10th October

Metrico Review

Infographics! boring when it comes to business presentations, mildly more interesting when used to visually show stats such as what percentage of goals were scored by a sportsman from certain areas, with which foot and in which minute of the game. But did you know they can also be the base for a puzzle platforming game? Well the team at Digital Dreams hope you will find the concept an exciting one. 

In the most part they do, as Metrico is a a tough and challenging game that will test out your logical thinking. The concept is that you need to complete levels by navigating the world of ever changing infographics, where each action you take has a reaction of the world around you.

Early on, the game is fairly simple to get to grips with, with basic puzzles that are easy enough to work out and overcome. Doing things such as jumping will raise a graphic for you to walk underneath and on to the next. Others will teach you about timing, so doing that same jump to raise a graphic, will then need you to work out how high, as it will begin to fall with every step you take.

The structure of the levels works really well, each time requiring you to use the various tricks you have learned previously to overcome the next obstacles. That simplicity is soon a thing of the past though, as new techniques make themselves known and each upcoming obstacle requires a more convoluted solution to get past.

For the most part these are fine, as they use a combination of button presses and moves, but then the game introduces some move sets that take advantage of the Vita’s various abilities, such as using the front screen and rear touch pad. Again these are fine and make sense within the game, but it is when the game introduces the need to tilt and twist the Vita to affect parts of the level that a degree of frustration appears.

Now whilst the scenarios themselves during these parts may not be the most difficult, the need to at times turn the Vita upside down and away from yourself just feels like it is adding a degree of difficulty that is beyond what seems fair. Many of the other scenarios are difficult, the solutions aren’t sign posted and they do require you to take your time to work out how best to get through and that is perfectly acceptable, but the gyroscope based puzzles seem to push things a little too far.

However, the gyroscope technique isn’t the main focus of the game and later on it doesn’t feel like you are having to do over the top moves with the Vita to use them. These issues mainly seem to be in one main area when they are first introduced.

What Metrico does well and we applaud the developers for this, is it doesn’t ever try to hold your hand, it revels in its challenge and apart from some basic cues to introduce a new mechanic, it leaves everything up to your own skill levels and power of deduction. This does involve a fair amount of trial and error, due mainly to the fact that you are never aware of how your actions affect the world at any one point until you try them.

Thankfully though, you don’t seem to be punished for mistake and simply start again from your last checkpoint. Checkpoints that a logically placed at the start of each new scenario.

Visually Metrico is very impressive looking, using the inforgraphics to create a world that feels alive, whether that be the main areas that you interact with directly, of the subtle animations in the background. Despite using very similar assets all over the game, each new world has a very different feel and that mixed with some very good sound design makes for a very immersive  experience which is only amplified when played with some headphones in.

Metrico isn’t a game that sells itself based on a trailer, but once you get into the game and play it for yourself, it will hook you and reel you in. It is a fantastic exclusive for the Vita and one that every owner should definitely try out for themselves.

Table Top Racing Review

Micro Machines was a damned fine series of games, working brilliantly, both in  single player and local multiplayer  variations. It was the ideal party game. However it has been a long time since not only the games, but indeed the toys were popular, but there are some who still loved what was on offer and it is clear the is a little influence in Playrise Digital’s Table Top Racing.

The team behind Table Top Racing have a pretty good pedigree too with many coming from the now defunct Studio Liverpool and having worked on the likes of the under appreciated Bang Bang Racing, as well as PGR, Wipeout and Fur Fighters, among others. It kind of puts a bit of pressure on a game that started out as a Free 2 Play on mobile devices.

Table Top Racing is actually somewhat of a slow burner and takes a while to actually become enjoyable to play. Visually it is nice, with the miniature vehicles racing around various crafted tracks in locations around the home, but it isn’t anything to write home about.

The action isn’t exactly anything majorly game changing either, it essentially boils down to being a by the numbers combat racer, that feels more like it is influenced from games such as Crash Team Racing and Mario Kart than it is Micro Machines, which is a little disappointing when you first start the game. Especially as there is a distinct lack of speed to early races and events, it lacks the inertia you come to expect in games like this.

That said though, as you progress and unlock new vehicles, the speed does ramp up, as does the challenge and what you will find is that despite many of your early worries are all but gone and you are enjoying the game, the AI becomes more challenging and winning isn’t just a case of getting the lead and romping home. Which in a single player mode is essential.

There is a fair amount on offer offline, with a few Championships to compete in, as well as various drift events, special events and the standard quick races. It is possible to play online also, either by hooking up numerous Vita units on the same network, or globally online. It is here that the game is at its very best, as the racing is fun and intense, but the lack of options aside from a basic race is disappointing, but at least online is included which isn’t always the case with games like this.

Despite the number of Championships seeming like very little, the balance is well crafted. The mixture of event types in each championship stops the progress becoming monotonous. There are the standard combat races, where all weapons are available, as well as pure races with powerups disabled. Those are mixed with various time trial, hotlap and pursuit events.

Winning at these events will eventually unlock more events and championships, with each event having a star rating system. So win a race and get three stars, finish third get 1, or meet the various tine objectives. Getting three stars is far from easy too, as the AI can be quite brutal and will push you all the way, so learning the tracks and how best to use powerups will be vital to your progression.

Whilst the various vehicles are easy to control, it isn’t simply a case of hold down accelerate and go, you do need to use the brake button at points and work out the best path through each track to get the best possible times, or find the shortcuts to gain those all important positions.

Table Top Racing isn’t a game that will rock your world, but it isn’t a bad game either. What you have here is a fun racer that is nice to break out every now and again, something that can be enjoyed in small bursts when you have small window of time to kill. Unfortunately it isn’t deep enough to be a must have, must play title, because it is be pretty much finished in a few short hours and any longevity will only come if you can find online games, or get a few friends together for a session or two.

We must also mention that there are some In App Purchases for buying coins to use in the game, however, we never once felt that the progression was being held back in an attempt to make us spend extra money. The game costs £4.99 and that can pretty much be that. In fact we failed to see the need for the IAP option at all, because the game doesn’t feel long enough that you need to skip a grind, it feels more like something that was part of the Android / iOS versions and just not taken out.

Not a must own title, but for less than five pound, you get a fun casual game that will get rid of boredom for a little while. You’ll play a lot better, but you’ll certainly play a hell of a lot worse.

Road Not Taken Review

The great thing about Indie games is that despite many being part of the same genre they rarely fall into the trap of being identikit games. The same goes for Spry Fox’s latest release Road Not Taken.

What you have here is another Roguelike, but it does plenty different to make it a worthwhile addition to genre. Road Not Taken uses its Roguelike mechanics and adds them to a puzzle format. Anyone who has played Triple Town (we’d love a Vita release of this by the way) will have an immediate understanding of the puzzle elements here, but it isn’t a sequel to that and has more than enough differences to stand out from their iOS hit.

Instead of being a match three type mechanic as seen in Triple Town, you use the various elements around the map to open doors and rescue the lost children. The idea being that you enter an area and you may need to match a number of trees, wildlife, rocks and more to open access to another area.

How many items you need to match is indicated by a sign by each exit and the further you get the harder it may become to match the required number. In fact you may enter an area finding yourself needing to match 4 of one type of tree, but only having three available. Like in Triple Town, you can match different types of items to make new ones, or maybe you need to get the matching item from another area.

It really is a game about using your brain, figuring out the logic behind each level and how best to proceed. We are getting ahead of ourselves a little though. The main goal of the game is to work through your characters career rescuing lost children and reuniting them with their parents. You play as a Ranger who has been been given this at times seemingly impossible task.

The Roguelike elements come from your Ranger only able to take a finite number of steps whilst carrying children or items. Each step you take whilst carrying something will take one point from your health, get to zero and it is game over. There are way around this of course, as you can throw items away from your body saving your precious health.

Yet it isn’t always that easy, aside from basic items that need matching, there are also deadly spirits, wild animals and such that can cause you harm, also taking away from your health. So again, you enter a new year, a new area and you really have to consider your actions before making moves.

You are given a target number of children that you need to save and whilst it is possible to finish a level by reaching half the target number, you are often given one hell of a guilt trip by the mayor of the town. As you get further into the game the decision as to whether you want to risk carrying on to rescue more children, or sacrifice them to the harsh winter becomes harder to make.

At the end of each year you are rewarded with extra health, which equates to 40% of your remaining health from the previous year being added as a bonus. So finishing year 5 with 2 health remaining, won’t see you have very much to start year 6, thus making the task nigh on impossible.

However, you can use items you have earned as rewards to share with the town’s inhabitants to get yet more bonuses, such as extra health, or items that might make it easier to reunite children with their mothers, or even stop evil spirits from appearing until later in the level. It is a fantastic structure that again requires you to really think about your approach every time you enter a new level.

With the levels being procedurally generated it isn’t a case of learning a layout, attempting it may times then getting through with ease. In fact this is where the game sets itself apart from other Roguelikes, as instead of keeping upgrades and bonuses from a previous playthrough, you lose everything.

Whilst this may seem harsh as first, it works really well as there is one thing you keep from previous plays…Knowledge. If you bump into things in the game, their details will be added to your secrets diary, which is the only thing that remains after death. These secrets may tell you the way a certain creature moves, or what happens if you interact with it. It may tell you what happens when you throw a certain item into a fire, or how to create fire and so much more.

It is this knowledge that allows you to progress further each time, knowing that you can make an axe by matching certain items, then use that axe to turn a tree into a log, then matching that log with another log to create a fire, will see you get through levels, whilst not with ease, but maybe without losing as much health.

Road Not Taken isn’t a game that hits you instantly, it isn’t going to give you a great feeling from the start. Instead it is a slow burner, starting off a little frustrating as you know next to nothing, however growing on you the more you play. The slow paced nature of the game can be a little confusing too, as it rewards those who will take a step back and consider their actions and rewards planning ahead. It is possible to spend a lot of time moving back and forth between areas, working out the best way to approach another area that seems impossible from a first glance.

It is a game that looks beautiful too, the art style is very cartoony but it works. Everything on the screen is clear and there is no confusion over where you need to go and what you need to do and the sense of achievement you have when you progress further than you did before is fantastic.

Road Not Taken is a game that deserves a place in your collection as despite taking cues from two popular genres, there is nothing like it on consoles. It is a game that will take over your time, but one that you can also just pick up and play between other games. Spry Fox have a spectacular hit on their hands.

Abyss Odyssey Review

Abyss Odyssey begins with our trio, Katrien, our nimble sword fighter, the elemental La Pincoya who wields a deadly spear and finally Ghost Monk, who duel wields so deals much more damage than the others although is much slower than his group. Our intrepid trio are charged with destroying the Warlock who is dreaming below ground, although unfortunately his dreams are infecting reality. Many have fallen attempting to reach him at the bottom of a giant labyrinth chasm that has opened up in the ground above. 

The game itself is from developers ACE Team, who previously developed Zeno Clash and could be described and a platform fighting game which evokes memories of games such as Guacamelee, Prince of Persia & Spelunky. Why I hear you ask? Lets see, the art style itself is very PoP, then you have the parts of the game when you get trapped in a screen fighting a set amount of enemies, unable to move on until either you, or they are dead which reminded me personally of Guacamelee. Finally, Spelunky as once you die its right back to the start…almost… when you die, you change to a human soldier who vows to avenge your death. You must control him until you can find an altar where you can be resurrected. The soldier is slower and less agile than your character generally and if he gets killed before reaching the altar, then it is back to the beginning again. If you do restart then the levels shift about meaning that as in Spelunky, no play through will be the same.

Controls in the game are relatively simple, with it simply using blocks, counters, cancels and attack to create combos. Along the way, you collect gold which you can use to buy weapons and items although they are on the pricey side so you best get saving!

As you play through the game, you unlock three different entrances to the abyss, each with its differing routes. One much longer yet easier to reach the Warlock, another shorter but much harder to reach him. This style of play offers many chances to replay Abyss Odyssey over 7 over should you so feel inclined.

The graphics for this game are somewhat of a mixed bag, I found the characters themselves to be slightly oddly drawn yet the backgrounds when exploring the abyss are quite something in places although some design glitches did annoy such as leaping to a platform and suddenly finding that you hit a ledge or ceiling that you thought you would quite easily miss.

One thing about Abyss Odyssey is that if you expect to have your hand held in the beginning, forgot it, the game throws you in at the deep end (literally) and you need to figure things out for yourself, such as the ability to capture enemies and use them as an alternative character. The enemies themselves are an interesting bunch, ranging from a bizarre bird like man who rushes at you with an enormous beak to a majestic bull (with a great sound effect) that rushes towards you. The enemy character designs are really quite cleaver here altogether.

All in all, Abyss Odyssey manages to be an interesting game that will reward those who spend time with it to really get to know it.