Life is Strange: Episode 4 – Dark Room Review

Leaving on a rather big cliffhanger where Max’s messing with past events has created a horrific butterfly effect for her friend Chloe, we re-join her as she pieces together what happened to her friend. It’s the first heart wrenching moment in an episode full of them.

Indeed, this is a tough episode to get through. Unlike previous episodes it’s not because choices are difficult (they’re a lot more standard than they have been in the past), it’s because the story takes some rather dark turns, especially as you reach the stunning conclusion.

And as great as this episode is, it’s slightly worrying that maybe the developers won’t be able to tie everything together. Maybe this is the pessimist inside talking, but when it comes to choice driven games, sometimes the choices don’t have as much a meaningful outcome as you may want. Instead everything comes crashing together as you discover you were on a straight line all along with choice being nothing more than an illusion.

And then there’s the impending apocalypse. The tornado, beached whales and eclipse of previous episodes are now joined by another sign that something’s not quite right. While it’s an intriguing mystery, it doesn’t seem like anyone cares as much about this strange phenomena as our two main cast members. There is an “end of the world” style party featured, but you’d think there’d be more chaos in the streets. Maybe even a few more news stories?

As has always been something I’ve praised with this series are the use of puzzles, and this episode doesn’t disappoint either. There is a tedious moment about halfway through where you’re forced to rewind the same conversation over and over again because you chose the wrong option, but that’s all really. The rest are great, with some that have a couple of ways of reaching the same outcome. Usually involving either using your brain or smashing something with a large object. I mostly chose the latter.

The same problems are present however, particularly when it comes to the, at times, cringe inducing dialogue. Chloe again dropping ridiculously outdated pop culture references that elicited a grown from myself. It’s a major strength of the story that I was able to forgive her annoyances when the real huge moments in the story occurred. The episode is titled “Dark Room”, yet even I was surprised at quite how dark it went. The actress behind Chloe really being able to showcase some acting chops here.

Life is Strange continues rolling to what I hope will be an epic conclusion. The pieces are certainly in place, whether Dontnod are able to fit them together is still up in the air. As it stands though, this has been one of the biggest surprises of the year and I can’t wait to see how it all ends.

Gamestyle Interview – Sam Barlow (Her Story)

It’s no secret how much Bradley loves Her Story, so when the opportunity came to sit down and chat with the games developer Sam Barlow, he jumped at the chance.

Brad and Sam talk about the game’s development, the choice of actress, what the game means and the overall reception it has achieved plus a lot more.

You can find out more about Her Story in the following places

Homepage | Facebook | Twitter | Steam


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Ronin Review

2D turn based stealth combat action

Ronin is the least stealth stealth game I’ve played. Or maybe it’s the stealthiest non-stealth game. The actuality is somewhere in the middle.

Tasked as a ninja avenging her father by killing the five people responsible, Ronin sees you jetting to glamorous places such as an office, another office, a nightclub, and what could be more offices. That’s not to detract from the game as it looks stylish, and the music really sets the mood for the action. The act of taking retribution against each of your targets is split across five chapters, each with three levels. The first two levels see you hacking computers to gather information, which is a simple case of getting to them while not in combat, while the third level sees you eliminating the mark. Each of the objectives is heavily guarded so there is a lot of killing to be done.

Outside of combat the game runs in real time although you are able to pause the action, to plan, whenever you like. The ninja is agile – able to jump long distances, climb any wall or along a ceiling, and use a grappling hook to swing or quickly ascend to a spot. Ronin states that is is not a stealth game and to just kill everyone, but battles are made significantly easier by taking out as many enemies as you can before being spotted. You are completely invisible out of light however killing a foe will cause one of the nearby remaining guards to briefly scan the area, including the darkness. Even if you remain hidden if something is wrong the guard will commence a countdown to trigger an alarm, eventually forcing you to reveal yourself. You see, Ronin likes putting you into combat situations and quite often you have no choice but to make an entry to a room in broad view of everyone in there.

Being spotted causes the game to immediately switch to its turn based mode where combat takes place. Each turn you get to perform one action, be it jumping to change position (the ninja, for some (read: gameplay) reason suddenly loses the ability to walk and climb in open battle) or stabbing an enemy if you are close enough. It therefore usually takes a couple of turns to kill an opponent – one to get close and another to finish them off. An exception would be jumping into an enemy and knocking them out of a high window. Jumping into an enemy knocks them flying and they lose a couple of turns while recovering. Before making your move a series of red lines shows you where the guards are going to fire their weapons, and being in the way at the end of your turn will result in being shot and dying. Complications arise in a couple of extra enemy types: an armoured samurai that cuts you in two if move to them, and machine gunners which fire repeatedly for two turns, limiting your movement options. It sounds a lot more complex than it is and after a couple of encounters I found myself settling into a rhythm.

Jumping is aimed by holding the left mouse button, aiming the line, and then releasing although this is not always accurate as hitting an enemy will alter the ninja’s course. In battle if the entire line is white the jump will be completed in one turn however if it turns red the move is too long and the ninja will stop in mid-air at the point the line turns red. This can be useful in avoiding a shot that is low to the ground if you have nowhere else to go. On the next turn the grappling hook can be used to change trajectory or you can just let the previous momentum continue.

To aid the ninja’s task she is able to unlock a number of skills by completing all of the bonus objectives on each level. I do mean all as missing one will mean the skill point remains locked. These objectives are always the same and consist of killing every enemy, not letting the alarm be raised, and not harming any civilians. The latter can be annoying as if a civilian sees you they will raise the alarm unless you kill them, so being spotted was an instant restart condition for me. Civilians are always placed in such a way to be completely avoidable without relying on luck, so being spotted always meant I had messed up somehow. Extra abilities include being able to place a decoy, warping to enemies to stun them, and throwing your sword while in mid-air for long range kills. It is worth completing the bonus objectives as some of the abilities, especially the warp, are pretty much essential in the later levels.

It took me around four hours for my first run through, and although some new obstacles are introduced the core of the game does not really change. Completing the game unlocks new game plus where you keep all of your unlocked abilities and enemy placement and behaviour is slightly changed. New game plus is a lot harder and a difficulty spike around halfway through saw me take around an hour to complete one level, although it was a lot smoother after that. I found myself having to use abilities I ignored in the first playthrough in order to stand half a chance. Making liberal use of the ability to pause outside of combat to jump, fire a grappling hook, reel the ninja in, and hang an enemy in the equivalent of half a second also helped. I think that might have been cheating though!

Ronin is a good game, with an excellent idea for combat that is slightly devalued by an almost absolute need to stealthily take out enemies before entering battle. It frequently reminds you that this is not a stealth game but it is with stealth that you often make the best progress.

At least I went the whole review without mentioning Gunpoint.

Damnit.

Gamestyle Interview – Nick Robalik (PixelMetal)

Bradley sits down with Nick Robalik from PixelMetal to talk about his upcoming game Sombrero. A local co-op Battle Royale type affair with a Spaghetti Western theme.

The interview covers not only the game itself, but also what it is like in the industry as an Indie developer and much more.

Sombrero is due to release Q3 of 2015.

You can find out more about Sombrero in the following places

Homepage | Facebook | Twitter


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Quick View: Badland Bandits (Steam)

Vehicular combat in games has been a thing for a very long time now. Many of you may remember this being the likes of Twisted Metal, or Carmageddon and for others it may be Mario Kart and for us older ones it is Spy Hunter, Rally X, Roadblasters and the like.

The point is, they have been around for a while, but of late it seems as though there is a new thirst for them. You have games like Rocket League, Blur, the new Carmageddon, but also things such as World of Tanks. So it is time to introduce Badland Bandits, which kind of sits in the middle of these and shares more with a modern FPS than anything.

Imagine Borderlands, but stripping it down to just the vehicles and instead of having RPG type missions, you have traditional online Team Death Match style objectives instead. Do that and you have Badland Bandits.

I have spent a bit of time with the game ahead of the Early Access release (July 2015) and as it stands my views are a little mixed.

Visually it is nothing special, but it is by a small studio and it does feel like it. Now that isn’t to say it looks ugly, but it won’t sell you on looks alone. In fact I’d go as far as saying on that side it looks like Borderlands but without the pop.

What I want from a game like this though is fun in the gameplay and something that feels very competitive from the moment you get down to it and here, on the whole, Badland Bandits succeeds. Objectives are clear and simple and the combat is fast and frantic, whilst still allowing you to feel in control.

You have both ground and air combat, which allows for mixing ground to air and air to ground and it works really well. I was able to find myself destroying a ground based opponent before aiming to the skies and helping one of my team locked in an air battle.

All vehicles are completely upgradable, which works on a similar system to the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty, whereby levelling up grants you perks, extra garage slots and access to better parts. A worry here is that balancing could become an issue down the line, but at this early stage it doesn’t seem to affect too much.

My only real major issue comes with the vehicle control itself. Aiming using the mouse is fine, but movement just feels off. I use a Logitech G13 Advanced Keyboard due to limited movement in my left hand, so I can have WASD assigned to a thumbstick input.

The problem here was that the game has full on tank controls, which means you turn using A & D accelerate using W and reverse using S, but you cannot turn and move forward at the same time, which makes general movement feel cumbersome and using the thumbstick makes this nigh on impossible to play due to slight crossovers of it reading W&A together for example.

Now I understand I may be a very small use-case for this, but it did feel frustrating, yet I will admit that when I switched to the normal keyboard, the movement was improved, however where the rest of the game comes together really well, the digital tank movement just doesn’t fit as well as analogue movement would.

I will say though, that overall it hasn’t really dampened my enjoyment of the game and hopefully upon its full release the servers will become busier and there will be fun to be had.

It is in Early Access and whilst I couldn’t say this is a vital purchase at this stage, if you are a fan of vehicular combat, it could well be worth dipping your toes in and providing feedback to the developer.

Early Access Summary

A good example of how Early Access can be used, clearly not a game that is close to completion, but has enough going for it that we look forward to a full release.

Blazblu Chronophantasma Extend Review

Over the years Blazblu has taken up the position of the hardcore alternative to Capcom’s Street Fighter IV. Most of the characters require hours of dedication to get to grips with and the crazy plot that includes time travel, magic, science, civil wars and alternate worlds can baffle anyone. Now the series is back with it’s PS4 debut and the extended version of the third chapter of the story.

Chronophantasma takes place after the first two games and follows the characters as they move to the ruins of Ikaruga in search of the next magical McGuffin. We aren’t going to try and sum up what’s happened so far or what’s next as it’ll only confuse everyone. Just know that bad things are going to happen and some people want it to and others don’t. There is of course a puppet master behind the scenes as well trying to put everything into place.

This isn’t an easy game to get into for newcomers to the series. There’s a ton of things to take in and trying to tie up the story will take a serious investment. There’s a helpful ‘Teach Me Miss Litchi’ section which recaps the lore and events but the handy summation of the first two games from vampire Rachel Alucard will set you up nicely.

The game comes jam packed with different game modes and there’s almost limitless hours that can be put into it. Aside from the Arcade and survival modes there is Abyss mode which has your character working their way through ever increasingly difficult maps containing opponents set at different computer AI levels. There is also the BlazBlue version of score attack which pits you against some of the hardest encounters known to man for bragging rights and a host of other things. There’s even a manga to get through called Remix Heart which follows Mai Natsume at the military academy.

The story mode continues in the style of the vanilla version of Chronophantasma with three main branches that need to be completed with characters aligned to different factions in each. There are also sections featuring the new characters which came as DLC in the last version of the game. There is still too much talking and not enough fighting to start but once it gets going it’s a good tale and enjoyable, especially for fans of the series. The wealth of training modes also return with everything you need to teach you the basic mechanics and then take you into ridiculous depth with your chosen characters.

The original cast have been rebalanced and in some cases retooled with moves and special moves and this is still a bone of contention for some fans. Jin is the most notably different with the range and speed of certain moves changed and the removal of his mass-hitting spam everything quickly with the sword move (much to the relief of everyone who uses other characters). Things soon begin to click again but we got absolutely hammered just diving into arcade mode and then wondering why nothing was working.

The previously new characters are now joined by those available as downloadable content to give an impressive cast of fighters. The previous version of the game was hardly light on content and now it is bursting at the seams.

The game holds true with its previous changes such as the implementation of the ‘Overdrive’ meter which replaces the ‘Gold Burst’ move. When activated this allows for more damaging distortion drive techniques as well as stopping the match timer. The lower your health, the longer the effect lasts. Guards have also been changed but the drive is still the new big thing and players will have to drastically change their game plan in close matches.

The main thing is that after you get to grips with the changes everything flows as beautifully as before. This is still one of the most spectacularly intense fighting games on the market and this version of the game is a very strong showing in an ever increasingly crowded genre.

Overall, Blazblu Chronophantasma Extend is a must for anyone who is into their fighting games and this is right up there with anything on the PS4. Fans will be desperate to see the new additions to the story but anyone who’s up for a challenge will appreciate what the game has to offer as well. It may not be the easiest title to get into but once you do there is little else out there as rewarding or satisfying.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation Review

This is the best Hyperdimenson Neptunia game out there so far  – there I’ve said it. If this is your particular poison then run out to the front lines and grab a copy and prepare to Nep your way into oblivion for what may seem like the 100th time this year.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation starts with a firm boot to the head where all of the Goddesses (CPU’s) are attempting to rid themselves of Neptune by beating her to a pulp so that they can take over Gamindustri once and for all. This inadvertently starts off a chain reaction which leads to Neptune being sucked into a portal and then falling hilariously face first into a 1980’s tinted version of Gamindustri.

After a dose of re-orientation to this new and seemingly outdated land (but not before helping Neptune acquire her transformational powers again), it is determined that in order to return Neptune to her own dimension, she must raise the shares of Neptunia sufficiently enough so that a portal can be opened and in any Neptunia game this can only mean one thing: an epic quest fest.

In the mean time, she plays along with the CPU’s of this alternate world and gradually re-discovers her old friends as well as making some new ones. Enter Plutia – a welcome addition to the cast who initially starts off as the only CPU for Planeptune. At the onset she comes across as being a complete and utter airhead. However, in her HDD form her personality does a complete switch and she turns into the sadomasochist otherwise known as ‘Sadie’ – this helps to create some of the most amusing scenes in the game.

The whole premise is to essentially get Neptune home and in one piece whilst traversing the console wars of the 80’s and 90’s, battling monsters and avoiding the evil machinations of the Seven Sages who will do almost anything to try and eliminate the CPU’s and control Gamindustri themselves. Along the way there are also a multitude of quests to complete, dungeons to explore, special monsters to smash, items to gather and plans to unveil.

Characters level up in the usual way, although they can also have their skills and stats enhanced by effectively upgrading themselves with plans that can be found. Plans apply not only to characters but to almost everything in the game, dungeons can be changed, weapons and items discovered and monsters strengthened or weakened. So it’s imperative that you utilise plans effectively.

The lily system also makes a return – characters who fight together will eventually find true love together. Maybe not quite… but they will both become stronger if they are coupled together, one in the front and one in the rear – seriously! The higher each character’s lily rank the more abilities they will each gain when in one another’s sweet embrace.

Most of the previous game mechanics are left intact or are very similar – Stella’s dungeon (a roguelike mini-game that consists of Stella endlessly climbing a huge tower in search of loot) also makes a return. Combo skills are the basic attacks that are utilised in battle and they can also be heavily customised to your specific tastes or elemental preference. Gradually you’ll unlock more slots which can result in some quite impressive combo moves. The usual ream of skills is also present along with a wide array of challenges that increase character stats and unlock various upgrades the more that are completed.

In order to combat the EXE drive abuse that was the optimum strategy for the last game, HDD mode is now tied to the amount of SP that you have. SP is restored by hitting monsters and whilst this is good in theory, the rush attacks give you a lot more SP than any other kind of attack so a lot of the time, you’ll simply be hammering rush attacks and then unleashing either your special moves or EXE drive. This means it has simply swapped one unbalanced tactic for another. Bosses or stronger mobs do at least require some more thought as you have to break their armour down first. The battle system, whilst good could easily have been a bit deeper and tactical.

The dungeons are typical Neptunia fare and I’ve no doubt that you’ll have seen a few of them already if you’ve played any game in this series before and this is where the game falls down slightly with re-used dungeons, monsters, textures and music all beginning to seem a bit too familiar with most of them having been almost copied and pasted from the 2nd game. Graphically, the colour palette is energetic and as vivid as usual and all of the models do look quite sharp on the PS Vita with absolutely no slowdown experienced.

Overall, the dialogue is quite interesting and the characters know how to poke fun at themselves and the game industry as a whole. However, they are in desperate need of an editor as the cut-scenes are overly long and often tend to have a bit too much pointless waffle included. There are indeed many subtle nods to the console wars throughout various eras and the differences between them.

The soundtrack has quite a light hearted upbeat tempo which suits the game quite well (as it is after all intended to be an adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously). For all intents and purposes, given that the characters are almost 100% clichés and the plot is filled with a ton of video game references and cultural in-jokes I shouldn’t have liked this… but as always and once again, it turned out to be quite a juicy guilty pleasure.

Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 10th July 2015

Brad and John take a look at the charts and releases for week ending 10th July (Friday).

The guys have a look at the current week’s Top 10, of which there are no new entries but a couple of re-entries in the shape of Minecraft.

Bradley gets overly excited by Rocket League, out now for PS4 and Steam before having some fun with Hello Kitty and Sanrio Friends Racing and a look at the rest of last week’s releases as well as what is coming up in the next week.

Please give us any feedback or send questions to [email protected] (this will change in coming weeks)

This Week’s Top 10

1 BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT
2 LEGO JURASSIC WORLD
3 THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE
4 THE WITCHER III: WILD HUNT
5 GRAND THEFT AUTO V
6 YOSHI’S WOOLLY WORLD
7 MINECRAFT: XBOX EDITION
8 FIFA 15
9 CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE
10 MINECRAFT: PLAYSTATION EDITION

Anyway, details below on how to catch this week’s show.


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The Gamestyle Podcast – Culture Club

This week talk starts with discussion about the game of the first half of the year, but quickly moves on to an in-depth talk on Japanese culture and why there is such a difference in attitudes with many of the JRPG titles in the west compared to their homeland.

We decided to get our resident expert on all things Japan to join the podcast so she could answer a few things and explain why the differences are there.

We finish with a brief chat about what we are looking forward to most over the next six months.

Slightly shorter podcast this week, but back to usual next week.


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Rocket League Review

Video Games are amazing! It is as simple as that, I don’t think there is an entertainment medium as diverse as games. This last month has shown exactly why that is too (June/July 2015).

I was convinced that the excellent Her Story was a clear leader for my 2015 Game of the Year. This is a game that has you sitting and watching various clips of an interview with a woman involved in a murder case. There is no real directed end point, it is up to you when you are done. It is an emotional rollercoaster with sublime acting and just really well crafted, yet brings up the argument…”Is it even a game?” – Well, yes it is, but that argument is for another time.

That was the best thing I had played in the first six months of 2015. Yet just days into the second half of the year, this amazing title which stirs so many emotions has a challenger to my choices for GotY and it couldn’t be further away from Her Story in terms of what sort of game it is.

Rocket League is Soccer meets Mario Kart Battle Mode. This is a game that shouldn’t actually work, it should be a fun for five minutes and forget sort of game, but instead it is something that should have a long and competitive life, hell the sort of game that could even become a legitimate eSport to challenge the DOTAs and Street Fighters of this world on the eSport scene.

As a basic overview of the game. you have two teams and the goal is to score in the opposition’s goal, more times than they do in yours, except rather than control men or women around a pitch, you are doing it in rocket powered cars. That’s all there is to it and it is an amazing experience from the very first moment.

You can play both online and offline, with offline offering up a season mode to keep your skills in check, as well as the usual exhibition modes and training. Online is where the fun is though, with options of 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 variations, with each match lasting 5 minutes.

This is the beauty of Rocket League and why it is a game that is here to stay. The process goes like this.

1. Boot the game
2. Choose to play online
3. Choose parameters for play (1v1, 2v2, etc)
4. Join game
5. Play for the most fun filled five minutes you can imagine
6. Finish and play again
7. Realise you are late for work, picking your child up from school, forgot to eat, shower, drink
8. Tell yourself you won’t do that again tomorrow
9. Do exactly the same tomorrow

You need to play this yourself to really understand just how much fun is to be had, no amount of words will accurately convey that. So stop reading for a bit and if you have a PS4 (and it is July 2015 still) go and get this from PS+ for free right now. If it is past July 2015 and you have a PS4, then buy it, it is great value for money and if you are on PC, just go and get it now.

I have asked myself what makes this such a glorious game to play and I believe it is a pretty perfect balancing act of ideas and mechanics that fit together in the most wondrous way.

First of all, the length of each match is set to five minutes and whilst it may seem short, each one feels just about right in length. You jump in, play, have a great time and by the time it is over you just want to go again. If it was longer it may start to feel like a bit of a chore to play, needing to you really think about finding the time to dedicate to just a single game. Yet any shorter and it would feel like there wasn’t enough time to really get into it. That five minutes is just a magical timeframe to allow you a quick play, or to get a ton of games under your belt.

Next up is the gameplay and whilst there are 1v1 and 2v2 options, it is 3v3 and 4v4 where the game really jumps to life. You can start to think about how you approach each game, who is better at defending, who has a knack of getting goals, who can go out and be an enforcer to demolish the other team’s cars. Yet at the same time it is just as fun with everyone just chasing the ball around with no regard to tactics.

To make this work though, the controls need to be tight and once again this is spot on. Cars control like they would in a real arcade type racer, with enjoyable physics to match. They have the traditional left and right triggers to accelerate and brake, with boost and jump on face buttons.

The jump acts as your way to ‘kick’ the ball, using it in conjunction with the analogue stick to control how you attack the ball, which can lead to some pretty spectacular goals, especially using the curved walls of the dome you are playing in.

One thing I have noticed so far, at least, is that each and every game feels different, it hasn’t yet settled into people having found a way to glitch goals and things you had that worked in a previous game, may well be countered by a different type of player in the next. It adds to the fun, knowing that a game can really go any way and that nothing is guaranteed.

I am trying to think of a decent way to wrap up this review, but instead I am just going to leave it here and go and play some more Rocket League…see you in the dome!

 

Quick View: Beyond Sol (Steam)

I have avoided space games for quite a while now. I am not sure why in all honesty, maybe because of the lack of them on console for years. But after picking up Elite Dangerous I was reminded of a time when I loved them.

So I took a chance on a game called Beyond Sol from Praxia Entertainment LLC for Steam and currently in Early Access.

Beyond Sol is an open-world empire building and combat space exploration title. Or as I like to call it… a smaller scale, top down Elite Dangerous. Whilst on the whole is it unfair to compare this to the Frontier title, it does a lot of things that Elite does but focuses it to be a lot more pick up and play and means it can also sit alongside it.

It takes a kind of pseudo 3D top down perspective, where you look over your craft and the world you inhabit and considering space is a vast nothingness in the most part, the map, which is procedurally generated, is full of life and constantly has things to do.

These include gathering resources, trading, taking contracts, dealing with pirates, fantastic combat scenarios and much more. You start off with pretty much nothing and have to build a city. before extending outwards, to the point you will find yourself in the middle of warring factions, needing to create allies and also making enemies.

It is this that drives the game forward, as every action you take will have an effect on your relationships with everyone else. Take a contract from one city and sure, your relationship grows, but you then have to deal with another faction taking action for that and depending on your current relationships, it could have severe consequences.

There is a lot of travelling between locations, especially when it comes to trading and gathering resources, but options such as warp drive mechanics make this a pretty easy going system. However there are advantages and disadvantages to how you travel, as when you are gunning it to a location at top speed, your shields are down, leaving you vulnerable to damage from many sources. Which in turn means you need to consider where you may pass whilst doing this.

Combat has a kind of MOBA feel to it, using your mouse clicks to choose where you are moving, but then using key bindings to choose weapons, tools, etc. You only move when you have thrusters on, which means combat can take place in a very small area, or continue across a much larger space.

The game is in Early Access right now, so finding games you can join can be difficult, but you can also host and allow friends to join your world and whilst I am yet to try out the multiplayer side, I am more than happy with my experience in single player.

How happy? Well I haven’t been desperate to return to Elite Dangerous since installing Beyond Sol and whilst there is work to do, the current build is yet another example of the great side of Early Access. It feels like a game that could be released at this point in time with a few minor fixes, but it is exciting to see what it ends up like for the final build.

If you have any interest in games based in space, I urge you to pick this up, even in Early Access.

Prismatica Review

This won’t be a long and indepth review, because it doesn’t need to be. I just need you to answer a couple of questions.

1. Have you ever enjoyed solving a Rubik’s Cube?

If your answer is yes, then you’ll simply love Prismatica, because it takes the same simple idea of taking a completed solution, mixing it up and asking you to return to that original state. Just like the Rubik’s Cube it uses colour to be your visual identifiers, needing you to recognise certain solution patterns.

Unlike the Rubik’s Cube though, there isn’t just the one final solution, because this has been designed with digital in mind, once you complete one puzzle you move on to another, then another, then another. Essentially if the developer chooses, this could be endless as long as he has ideas for new layouts.

2. Do you like logic puzzles?

Again if the answer is yes, then once again you will love Prismatica, because from the very first moment you play, you can see this is a game all about logic. You can see your end goal and you logically work out how to achieve it.

As complex as the layouts might get, you can use logic to solve it and whilst you may assume some trial and error is needed, so guesswork, the truth is, once you work out the basic logic, you can pretty much solve any puzzle. It is very similar to Slitherlink in this way, where you start by working out where certain things will happen and how your choices may effect things down the line.

If you like both those things, then Prismatica is easily for you…but what is it?

What you have is a layout of various circles made up of 6 coloured hexagons, you are shown the final result before the circles are twisted to mix up the colours, you then have to go through making turns on each circle so you can eventually get back to the original layout.

It is incredibly simple, but so rewarding. It is rewarding because, despite being simple it becomes very, very taxing as you spend ages looking at a layout working out where to begin. Wondering if it is worth starting in this place, or will that ruin something later. It challenges every part of your logical thought and does it wonderfully.

There is added pressure too, because you can just go through and solve each puzzle, however there are additional goals to solve, such as finishing within a certain number of moves, or beating the clock. Thankfully these aren’t essential to playing so you can ignore them.

Prismatica popped up on my radar rather unexpectedly. but after many, many hours of puzzle solving I can safely say that this is a game fans of puzzles will fall in love with and demand more of.

MotoGP 15 Review

I find that some of the hardest games to review are the ones that are yearly updates. So essentially, sports games, those more than the latest Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, purely as one genre tries to do something majorly new with each new release even if it doesn’t work whilst the other can be a slow evolution over years.

This means that at times despite some behind the scenes improvements and minor new additions, they can feel little more than just a roster and graphical update. When you get down to sports where the fanatic is the target rather than a larger crowd, it becomes even harder to look at.

Case in point! The MotoGP games. I have liked these games over the year, often finding them a bit more accessible than the SBK series, yet lovers of two-wheeled racing will scream until they are blue in the face that I am wrong and SBK is where it is at.

I don’t know much about bikes either, I have never ridden one, nor do I actually fancy riding one either, but again I am told that the physics of MotoGP aren’t realistic and again SBK is the better option.

Yet, here I am having spent a good few hours with MotoGP 15 on Xbox One finding myself not particularly caring about all that. I am not going to go into detail about how the bike reacts with the track and whether or not it is the most realistic option. Instead I am coming at this from a casual fan’s point of view, as I am sure there are other reviews out there to cater to the hardcore.

The first issue I tend to have with the MotoGP series is that I predominately play racers of the four-wheeled kind. Y’know F1, Project Cars, Project Gotham Racing, Forza, Gran Turismo, Burnout, etc. This causes an issue with controlling the bike, as you need to learn each and every time the differences to taking a corner on a Superbike, compared to a car.

The same rules apply in essence, you need to enter slow and leave fast, but it is the angle of entry that will get me every time I jump into a new game. Cornering is a lot more subtle on a bike it seems so using the same out-braking maneuvers I would in an F1 car are totally lost here.

That window of you braking late to get an advantage, but not too late you cannot hold a corner is so minuscule that it can feel non-existent. However you do learn where it is and can use it to your advantage, but again you need to understand that even on tracks you know from other games, the corners you can do this on differ again.

Now I am not afraid to admit that I use aids in MotoGP, I don’t play on hard and try pretty much to make this more of an arcade experience, because at the end of the day, gaming is fun and for me to approach this as I do car racing sims, would just cause me no end of frustration.

Luckily MotoGP 15’s difficulty options cater for that. This can be as easy or as difficult as you want it. I set the braking options to automatic, so the AI decides if I am using the front or rears brakes and it is the same with body position and other minor things too.

The fact is you can turn all these options on and off at your leisure, so if you feel the game is now getting too easy, or you are happy you have learned the track and how to take corners properly, you can turn off the braking aids and try to learn the front and rear balances yourself.

Again, I cannot comment on how realistic this all is and whether or not the ‘all aids off’ option is a faithful recreation of real racing but for me, a casual player of this game, my balance is spot on. The AI difficulty means I feel like I am in a race and I can enjoy the race for being just that, rather than micro-managing every aspect of a bike.

There is a hell of a lot of content available too, giving you the options to go through a full career starting at Moto3 before moving through the ranks to eventually joining MotoGP and the elite. There are also standalone championships for all race classes should you fancy that, as well as new mode called 2014 Real Events, that allows you to relive some of the famous moments from the 2014 season. Similar to what you now expect in real world based sports games.

One last area that has really blown me away are the visuals. MotoGP 15 looks stunning, as the game has used proper motion capture to make the riders feel more alive than they have ever been before, they just feel less robotic on the bikes.

This transfers too, to the replays. I remember when MotoGP came out on the original Xbox and it just looked amazing for the time. TV style replays that looked so real to my younger eyes and with the latest game I am getting that feeling again.

I completed a race and had the replay running, at which point my partner looked up from her book and asked why I was watching motorbike racing on the TV. She had to take a close look to see it was a video game.

Now, I am not stupid (well not all the time) and I know there is a distinct difference between how this looks like a game and how the real thing looks. Yet the gap is getting smaller and smaller and double takes are needed at times, especially from a glance up at a screen.

Racing games will always lead a new generation when it comes to visuals and MotoGP has made its way near the top of the pack as a game to show off how far we have come.

Is this a game for everyone? No, not a chance, but knowing you can fiddle with it to get a great personalised experience means everyone can give it a go and not feel totally alienated.

Quick Views: Kyn

It is all my fault, but whenever I am presented with a new RPG type game in an isometric style, I cannot help but compare it to Diablo and especially Diablo III. I hate that I do this, but unfortunately it is a bad habit of mine I cannot shake.

It is for this reason it took me a while to actually get into Kyn, an Action Adventure RPG by Tangrin Entertainment and Versus Evil. However, that is because the game does actually have a slow opening with some control systems that take a while to fully get used to.

The setting of Viking Mythology is actually a refreshing one and makes a change from the pure fantasy and dark settings of many games of this type. In all honesty, it was this setting that got me through the early stages.

You play as multiple characters in the world and have to use them as a team, similar in a way to how Pillars of Eternity works. Except here everything feels a lot simpler after a few early missions.

The reason it does feel slow early on is the mission structure, mainly being a variety of fetch quests designed purely to ease you in, but this is also the game’s only real downfall early on. As it is so slow and long winded to let you off the reigns, it can be easy to write it off.

Yet after a couple of hours, you have controls that become second nature and the various quests on offer, both mainline and secondary, become much more varied and exciting. It is almost as though a switch has been flipped and you have a completely different game.

What does feel great is the difficulty curve and the challenge on offer as you get further into the game. At no point in my preview look did I feel as though enemies were pure cannon fodder, nor did I feel I was being deliberately over powered so I was being forced to grind. The balance seems pretty much spot on here.

The overall story is well written and the visual representation of a Viking world is wonderfully realised. You are well rewarded with loot and the puzzles that are mixed in with the action keeps things fresh. But this is a game that really encourages exploration too, especially once your hand is released from the opening missions.

This isn’t a casual game and if you struggle with these types of games, then this isn’t one to ease you in, but if you have had any experience and enjoyed the genre, this is fresh enough that is should be worth considering upon it’s 28th July release.

Batman: Arkham Knight Review

So you witnessed your parents get brutally murdered, spent years honing your combat skills so you can take on the criminal underworld that robbed you of your childhood … and then decided that dressing up as a giant bat, prowling Gotham’s rooftops at night, was the next step? Even better, Brucey boy, you roped others into your dark little vigifantasy, and got them maimed, or killed, or maimed and killed. All the while slowly descending into your own personal hell. Who needs the Joker, when you’re your own worst enemy, eh Bats?

Several months after the events of Arkham City, which proved fatal for Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker’s absence had seen Gotham’s crime rate plummet. But the following Halloween, Dr Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow unleashes hell on Gotham, forcing the city’s almost complete evacuation, leaving only the remaining criminals and the few folk unlucky enough to not escape.  The Batman has to step in.

Rocksteady’s assured debut with Arkham Asylum (ssshhhhh! No-one cares about Urban Chaos) was one of the most pleasant surprises in recent videogame history. Its follow-up, Arkham City, expanded the theme in scope, but perhaps at the expense of Asylum’s direction. Now we have Arkham Knight, though it’s as much a commentary on the toll-taking mental issues of a grown man dressing up as a giant bat for years, as it is the culmination of a series of great games based on a grown man dressing up as a giant bat for years.

But let’s forget all that psycho mumbo jumbo for a moment, and look at the actual game. And would you just look at it? Gotham City has never looked so good, or indeed wet. Gotham’s rain-soaked, neon-lit streets, are a sight to behold. Using the same Unreal 3 engine as the previous games has allowed Rocksteady to turn everything up to eleven on the PS4.  With the addition of well placed motion blur, a subtle film grain effect, and lens flare that’s just on the right side of J.J. Abrams territory, the result is a very filmic look.  It’s truly breathtaking.

If I had to pick on something here, it’s the lip-sync and facial animation. Coming straight from The Witcher 3, where the characters had stunning emotional range and believability, many of Arkham Knight’s in-game cut scenes appear somewhat stiff and lifeless in comparison. But that’s a minor niggle. Arkham Knight is a visual tour de force that puts to shame almost every other game released this generation. Infamous: Second Son hinted at what these machines are really capable of; Arkham Knight is the first to truly deliver.

In addition to the game’s new visual bells and whistles, Batman himself has some very handy new moves and combat options.  Silent takedowns are now more readily available, and there’s a new ‘Fear’ takedown, allowing you to take out up to five enemies (once unlocked) in a row. Given how this game regularly pits Batman against ten or more enemies at a time, the Fear takedowns come in really handy to even the odds. They’re impressively stylish, and despite their simplicity, very satisfying to pull off. You really do feel like you are the Batman.

Batman’s arsenal of gadgets is largely the same as in previous games, with only one or two additions. Most notable is the inclusion of the Batmobile.  Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s films, it’s already divided opinion amongst the player base. Personally, I love it.  At least, I love the car. Blazing through Gotham’s streets at high speed never gets old, and the side-quests and mini-games that require you to drive the car are a lot of fun.

It’s the Batmobile’s alternate tank mode that is the issue. For certain situations, such as some of the Riddler puzzles, the tank mode is very good indeed.  But when you’re forced into combat situations it’s, well, it’s a bit rubbish really.  The tank feels very floaty to control, making aiming the tank’s weapons somewhat frustrating, especially when you’re surrounded by drones from all angles. You do get upgrades to make the tank combat better, and a bit more varied, but these upgrades still don’t make the tank combat particularly fun.

What’s disappointing is that the game relies on the tank mode for most of the boss fights.  So if you’re coming to this expecting fantastic encounters such as the Mr Freeze and Solomon Grundy boss fights in Arkham City, prepare to be disappointed.  There are still one or two good encounters, but later in the game there are some lazily designed levels that just throw drone enemies at you constantly. Rocksteady is clearly proud of the Batmobile, but its reliance on this new toy, especially later in the game, is a woeful misstep.

And you know what?  It’s a real shame, because putting those issues aside, Arkham Knight is a fantastic game. Its story is arguably the best of the Arkham series, with scintillating performances from the voice actors. Particularly good are the performances from the newcomers in the form of Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks as Commissioner Gordon; and John Noble of Fringe and Lord of the Rings fame as Scarecrow. It’s refreshing to see truly great actors take these roles seriously.

If there’s one thing Rocksteady has always got right in its Arkham games, it’s nailing the characters. The writing in this game is, for the most part, excellent, and while the previous games perhaps concentrated more on Batman’s rogue’s gallery, Batman himself is very much the centrepiece here. As you play Arkham Knight you are watching the unravelling of a man that has spent too long donning the dark cowl, and the way Rocksteady conveys this throughout the game is absolute genius. The Arkham Knight himself is perhaps the only element of the story that’s a bit weak.  His identity is telegraphed midway through the game, though personally I found his eventual reveal to be very well done. Additionally, the game does trip up a little with its ending, though for me it has the most satisfying conclusion of the three games.

Arkham Knight is definitely a case of the journey being better than the destination, and what a journey it is! The combat is as good as it’s ever been, the writing is sharp, it’s visually stunning, and the game is full of iconic Batman moments that fans will adore and talk about for years to come.  Don’t let the game’s few – admittedly glaring – flaws deter you from what is otherwise a terrific Batman tale.

Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 3rd July 2015

Brad and John take a look at the charts and releases for week ending 26th June (Friday).

The guys have a look at some of the new entries in the TOP 10, with Elder Scrolls Online, Yoshi’s Woolly World and Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward .

There is some more discussion on the Batman fiasco and plenty of talk on the week’s new releases including quick reviews of Ronin, Quiplash and Whispering Willows. Whilst looking ahead to a great week next week with Rocket League and Geometry Wars 3 for Vita

Please give us any feedback or send questions to [email protected] (this will change in coming weeks)

This Week’s Top 10

1 BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT
2 LEGO JURASSIC WORLD
3 THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE
4 YOSHI’S WOOLLY WORLD
5 THE WITCHER III: WILD HUNT
6 GRAND THEFT AUTO V
7 CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE
8 FIFA 15
9 DESTINY
10 FINAL FANTASY XIV: HEAVENSWARD

Anyway, details below on how to catch this week’s show.


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The Gamestyle Podcast – Batman Arkham Fright

Oh Warner Bros! What have you done?

Well actually you gave us something to talk about in what was a slow week for discussion. So thank you!

Batman Arkham Knight was meant to be a big deal in 2015, a true next gen experience to get excited about…that is, unless you do your gaming on a PC.

Brad and John are joined by Mark this week as they discuss the issues surrounding the Arkham Knight release and the impact Steam Refunds have had on the decision from WB to remove the game from sale until fixed.


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Football Games… Or Soccer

I’ve been banging on about them in the last couple of podcasts and thought I should retire to my corner and mutter away to myself about my thoughts. Here are the results.

Football games are why I play videogames. If they didn’t exist I suspect I’d have given up the hobby sometime in the mid-‘90s when everything went 3D and I was at that awkward ‘must try to be cool’ age. Even fairly recently, with my 360 rattling into old age, I was thinking I might be done. ‘I won’t get another console’ I told myself. ‘The whole thing’s too much hassle and expense and I don’t have the time.’ But then I started to wonder what the next generation of football games might be like . . .

It’s not that I don’t play and enjoy other games; I recently finished the Witcher 3 and have a whole range of things in my Steam library and anyone who’s read anything else I’ve written here will know about my Mario 3D World obsession. The games I play the most though, the ones I always come back to, are the football games.

Sports games in general seem to get a tough time from game fans at conferences like E3, with all the mainstream coverage bemoaning the time the ‘sportsball’ games get given at the conferences of the companies that make them. So EA then. The thing is, if it wasn’t for games like FIFA selling fuckloads you wouldn’t get all the spare cash thrown at hipster wank-art projects like Unravel which everyone seems to be losing their barely controllable emotional wreckage over because the guy presenting it looked a bit nervous in a cunning ploy to make you go ‘Awww’ and buy his mediocre platform-puzzler with this year’s niche woolly art style. I dunno, it might be good, let’s move on.

I’ve played sports games as long as I’ve played games. I think the first game I ever played was Pole Position in an arcade and my friend only got me on his Master System by showing me World Soccer, quite possibly the first console game I ever played. While we’re at it, I think my first ever game on a computer was Footballer of the Year on his brother’s CPC 464. At that age, I didn’t really understand computer games but I had recently started to get into football in that obsessive way that 6 year-old boys do. The 1986 World Cup was on around the same time and that was it for me, suckered in for life.

Since then I’ve also enjoyed Ice Hockey and American Football games among others. In fact, my entire understanding and enjoyment of American Football is due to Joe Montana Sportstalk Football II on the Mega Drive. It was my friend’s only 2-player game so we forced ourselves to learn how to play it. Little did I know that many years later the same Joe Montana would team up with Damon Grow and dash all my hopes for a decent modern version at E3 2015 by announcing their much anticipated new game is some mobile phone piece of shit.

Back to proper football though and, by the time I got my own Master System, there were other options besides World Soccer available. Most of them were pretty crap but I remember forcing myself to have some fun with Kick Off. Coming from the world of Subbuteo and its real life little men, it was hard to put all the personalities I’d created in my own imaginary football world onto those tiny little pixel men. South Korea’s ‘Incredible Number Six’ (so named because I couldn’t think of any more Korean sounding names after the first five when making up a team sheet for my Subbuteo cup – yep, I used to do that) just didn’t have the same innate ability that a blob of glue had imbued his plastic version with after a life-threatening ‘snapping’ injury had looked like ending his career on the green felt. When football games started letting you create your own players in edit modes you can imagine how weird I got, but that was still a while off.

It was the Mega Drive where sports games first started to show how powerful they could be, both in terms of sales and entertainment. The under-appreciated European Club Soccer managed to capture some of the atmosphere of a European Cup game while ports of some more PC/Amiga oriented titles like Sensible Soccer showed console gamers the joys of lots of teams and fun gameplay, even if it wasn’t really much like actual football. At the time, EA were the sports game masters with EA Hockey and Madden regarded as pinnacles of the genre. Those double header cartridges were fixtures in many a UK home where the actual sports they represented were completely unfamiliar. Football was still being fought over by everyone else. You had Striker with its up and down viewpoint and insane pace and all sorts of World Cup tie-ins and arcade style knockabouts. Imagine, though, if EA made a football game. Imagine if they did for football what they’d done for Ice Hockey.

Let’s pause for a moment and ask the modern day equivalent of that question. Imagine if 2K made a football game. Imagine if they did for football what they’ve done for basketball. Licences wouldn’t be an issue if they included a decent edit mode. Imagine if they had all the graphics and presentation of the NBA2K series with the same best-in-class gameplay, just, you know, for football. Well, that’s pretty much how people felt about the idea of EA making a football game around 1993. Then EA made a football game.

I remember staring at screenshots of EA’s FIFA Soccer for months before the game came out. Back then, before all the scandals, FIFA had something about them. It meant something that they’d endorsed this game, it meant it must be good. Didn’t it? Well, it was actually really pretty shit but absolutely no one at the time seemed to realise, including me. I loved that game. It was solely due to the graphics which were unlike anything previously seen in a football game. The isometric viewpoint seemed like the future. I remember at the time thinking of what my ideal football game would be, one based entirely on wild fantasy, and it was roughly FIFA Soccer with real kits and players and commentary. Wow! Imagine if it had commentary! Be careful what you wish for kids.

Despite my love for FIFA Soccer, I never got next year’s iteration (‘’95? What, are they just going to make a version every year until like FIFA ’99 or something? I joked). I dabbled with the SNES version, which was possibly better, but never went back due mainly to another game that challenged for the crown. Well, let’s be honest, it didn’t so much challenge as walk in, grab it and keep it on its head for the next 13 years.

International Superstar Soccer and its bright yellow box. I remember seeing it in Future Zone and deciding to trade in something like half my life for it, except back then this involved selling games to video shops and the like rather than a simple in-store trade. It was worth it. I loved that game too. Its more arcadey style suited the technical possibilities of the time while still offering fairly deep gameplay. It also introduced varying performances from players in the form of the ‘bouncing babies’ as I called them – the pink bouncy faces or depressed blue ones your players could have before a game. It was an interesting idea that has gone on to be a huge part of modern football games.

The mid to late ‘90s was a strange time. As things transitioned to 3D all sorts of pretenders to the throne could be seen flailing their metaphorical legs at the virtual Mitre Delta of football game dominance. FIFA Soccer came out on the 3DO and we thought it looked amazing but I’ve got no idea why, it was terrible. Sega had Worldwide Soccer which was semi-decent and then there was every football game hipster’s favourite, Actua Soccer, which really was pretty good. Somehow though, Konami came through it all, and with the release of Pro Evolution Soccer they assured their superiority for years to come. It was as if Messi had just grabbed the ball, taken it round everyone and scored a wonder goal. Sometimes all you can do is stand back and applaud. Pretty much everyone except EA did just that. EA had the money and the licences you see . . .

FIFA, for anyone who knew their stuff, was shit for years. It was the game you got if your console didn’t have a version of PES yet. For example, I had a FIFA game on my GameCube but then I imported Winning Eleven 6 FE as soon as I could. Sorted. It continued to hang around because some people are obsessed with accurate names and kits more than gameplay and it had the money to market itself very well. PES, however, was just in a different class. I distinctly remember a period of five years or so where my friends and I wouldn’t say ‘put PES on’, we’d say ‘put football on.’ That’s how good it was. How can I describe its impact? Well, imagine if 2K made a football game . . .

As with all things though, those at the top become complacent. As technology moved on, PES didn’t really move with it and it started to look very dated when compared to FIFA’s fancy graphics and presentation. PES still had them beat when it came to gameplay but EA were getting closer and with FIFA 2008 the scales finally tipped. EA had taken enough of what made PES so good and incorporated it into their own game. When placed alongside all the things they’d always been better at, like the aforementioned presentation, it was enough to tempt people away. With subsequent year’s games they got better at it as PES seemed to get worse and it wasn’t until 2012 that things evened up again. By this point though, EA’s marketing muscle had ensured global domination for the world’s biggest selling game. PES 2012 and 2013 were probably better than the FIFA equivalents but no one really noticed. 2014 was perhaps a transitional mis-step for Konami and only EA had a presence on the new consoles, but in 2015 it all changed again. I enjoyed FIFA 14 but 15 was pretty terrible. Thankfully, PES was back and when PES 2015 came out the football gaming hardcore rejoiced in the return of the true leader. It was, and is, a fantastic football game.

And so we find ourselves in what is now the annual football game limbo. E3 has just been and gone and we’ve had our first look at this year’s offerings. 2K are still nowhere to be seen so once again it’s between FIFA and PES. Having rid myself of my PS4 I picked up PES 2015 for the PC only to discover it’s some sort of weird halfway house mix of old and current gen. It’s still a good game but a little disappointing. Never mind though, the next version will be out soon I thought. Once again though, it was revealed last week that PES 2016 on PC will also be ‘its own thing’ which I can’t help but believe means another compromised version. I want to say that I understand but I don’t really. The PC and console architectures are so similar now that it can’t be hard to release the same version across all formats like EA do. I suspect Adam Bhatti, Konami’s representative, is just as frustrated as everyone else about this and certainly doesn’t deserve some of the abuse people give him. It is what it is and I don’t understand why but there you go. If you’re a console gamer, this is of no concern of course. So which will you go for?

When I heard the news about PC PES I trudged back over to FIFA and took a look at what’s going on there. Hopefully the quality of Konami’s game will be spurring them on again and from what I’ve read it sounds promising. Konami, meanwhile, appear to be building on last year’s game with polish where it’s needed and a redesign of key modes like Master League. Both games look like they’re going to be good, which sounds like a cop out but it really does come down to what you prefer as, more than ever, they seem to offer different things.

FIFA conceded to PES when it offered the ‘alternate’ control method. It was an admission that most people had been playing Konami’s game and were familiar with that layout. Back then, FIFA wanted to be like PES but it’s slowly become its own thing. Now we have two distinct styles. To my mind, PES offers you the romantic football of Brazil’s 1970 team where you can create amazing moments and orchestrated passing moves, whereas FIFA offers you the realism of Stoke against West Ham in the middle of winter. Both approaches have their merits and it’s not to say that one can’t also do what the other does, but they have those different starting points. This year FIFA’s tag line is ‘Play Beautiful’ which suggests maybe they’re moving more towards that PES style, and struggling with adverbs along the way. Konami have spoken of improved ball physics and more animations allowing ‘free-er’ movement, reminiscent perhaps of FIFA’s looser style. Perhaps they’re both moving more towards a middle ground which might be a good thing, time will tell.

In the last week or so, I downloaded the FIFA 15 demo to reacquaint myself with that game’s controls. It’s not as bad as I remember (though by no means good either) and I decided to pick up a cheap key for the full game to fully prepare myself for FIFA 16. I’m not sure I would have bothered had there been a proper PES on PC this year but maybe it will be a blessing in disguise. There are some fairly militant camps in the football game world who’d have you believe you must be either FIFA or PES (usually the same sort of people that would eat you alive for using aim assist in a FPS but all use the default settings in football games – seriously, if you ain’t manual you ain’t playing) but the truly savvy flit between the two as it suits them. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if there was a third 2K camp somewhere on the horizon?

We won’t get a perfect football game for a long time, if ever. The need to sell next year’s version means that inherent flaws that can be fixed at the expense of something else aren’t bugs so much as a business model. Maybe when everything’s fully digital it might happen in the form of some kind of subscription model. If they can be sure you’ll keep paying £20 a year for annual updates, maybe then they could perfect the game instead of having to artificially create reasons for you to update in the form of all these minor issues. Maybe that’s a cynical viewpoint but it’s informed by almost 30 years of playing these things. One thing’s for sure though, they do just keep getting better, which is a rare thing indeed.

For more information about this year’s games I highly recommend following Asim Tanvir on Twitter and reading his blogs which are full of the kind of information you want to know with all the bullshit stripped out. Be careful though, he has a knack of making you want to buy stuff.