Blue Estate Review

Remember the days of Time Crisis on the PS1? Using the Guncon, playing on-rails shooters, just like you did in the arcade, but in your own home? Well those games sort of dried up over the last few years, with only half-hearted Kinect games attempting to bring them back, to varying degrees of success.

Step forward Viktor Kalvachev’s Blue Estate, a game based on the comic of the same name, which is a pure lightgun on-rails styled shooter. Arriving on PS4 a little below the radar which left us a little skeptical of what to expect.

The first issue is how a lightgun game could work using just the controller, not having any move support, nor needed any kind of camera. Within minutes of starting any fears we had were alleviated, thanks to an excellent use of the  accelerometers in the Dual Shock 4.

There is no complicated setup needed, just hold the controller naturally, tap the L1 button and it will center the reticule on the screen. You then move the controller to aim around the screen and then hit the R2 trigger to shoot, using L2 to cover and reload. Basically if you have ever played a lightgun game before, then you should feel right at home.

What you may notice it that at times your point of center may move, simply because we aren’t all robots who sit perfectly still and whilst we originally thought this may be an issue, all it takes is a quick tap of L1 at any point to re-center your aim. This very quickly becomes second nature, pretty much resetting the center point with every reload or when taking cover. Simply put, the control mechanism works wonderfully.

It’s not just the shooting mechanics that form the base for the game, as it makes use of the the Dual Shock 4 touchpad, using gesture swipes to open doors, collect health, ammo, perform melee actions, etc. On the whole this works well, but at times it can get a bit clumsy, especially being rushed by an enemy and need to swipe instantly. It’s not something that will ruin your game, but it just removes from the fluidity of the shooting somewhat.

Getting an on-rails shooter to work and be enjoyable isn’t easy, anyone who played the recent Rambo game will know just how awful they can be. It isn’t very often you’ll get something of the quality as Time Crisis, or House of the Dead, but Blue Estate manages to do just that.

The action is constant and more than enjoyable, with a really decent challenge to it. The tutorial level itself if fast paced and doesn’t take things too easy on you and playing in co-op only ramps up the action even further. Another thing that adds to the enjoyment is the humour, which whilst being sexist, juvenile and at time insulting, it fits well and makes sense in the world the game is set.

There are bosses to take on, that once again offer up a solid challenge and feel like proper bosses which need some degree of strategy to beat, even early bosses are difficult, but that doesn’t matter, because you will have a blast playing through levels, which you will want to do more than once.

There are leaderboards and a score mechanic, which rewards you for different types of kills, similar to how Bulletstorm worked, but with less variation. The game will introduce new ways to kill enemies as the game progresses, such as shooting the stereotypical explosives that are dotted around for no reason whatsoever.

Blue Estate isn’t a long game and despite the leaderboards, it is unlikely to be one you’ll revisit time and time again. However, it is genuinely fun to play and in the short time you spend with it, you’ll get a great deal of enjoyment. If you have any interest in lightgun style games, then pick this up.

MotoGP 14 Review

The PS4 hasn’t exactly been awash with racers since its release in November. We have had Need For Speed Rivals and… Well that’s it. Driveclub is coming, but has been delayed and there is the upcoming Project Cars too, but for petrol heads the genre has been rather empty the past few months.

Step in Milestone and MotoGP 14 and whilst not a racer for fans of four wheels, it should at least scratch that itch.

We at Gamestyle will admit we aren’t hardcore fans of the two wheeled variety of motorsport, but we do watch it occasionally, enough to know the top stars of the sport, such as Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow, etc. Why do we mention this? Well because we couldn’t tell you if the bikes are acting in 100% the precise nature they should, or if they have perfectly modeled handling. So we come into this as casual fans more than anything.

One of the things that stood out instantly was the presentation of the game, it is very slick and doesn’t need any second introductions to show off the stars of the sport and their bikes. Each track has it’s own video introduction that shows off the area as well as the tracks and gives the whole game a pretty decent broadcast type presentation.

Visually it is easy to tell that MotoGP 14 is a cross generational title and whilst it doesn’t look bad by any stretch of the imagination, it doesn’t exactly show off the power of the PS4. That being said, it still does look the part and is one of the best looking bike racers we have seen.

There are a wealth of options available within MotoGP 14, from the usual instant races and time trials to career mode and more. The Career mode is the bread and butter of the game, seeing you create a rider and start from the bottom tier to try and make it all the way to the MotoGP itself.

You start in Moto3 for a lower ranked team, having to meet objectives to move up to better teams, better series and eventually the MotoGP. What was impressive here was that objective weren’t unrealistic and even if you find yourself starting half way down the grid, your objective would be to finish 15th, or beat a team-mate. Winning wasn’t everything and only really came into play as you progressed to better teams with higher expectations.

The bikes seemed to perform at a level you’d expect based on your objective and with the right settings you can happily be battling it out 10th place in a race with a bunch of other riders and not being overly bothered by the leader racing off into the distance.

Again what worked here, was even on a medium setting, the races feel tight and competitive with the AI not simply going slower because they were of a lower difficulty, instead they are just more cautious under breaking, taking less risks accelerating out of corners, or defending a line. You felt you still had to push them to overtake or even defend a position. Milestone have managed to get the difficulty balance spot on in this respect and you honestly feel like you are in a race from the moment the lights go out.

With this also, qualifying matters, it isn’t a case of skipping it, knowing you could nail five to six positions in the first corner, you once again feel you need to put a performance in during qualifying to get the best starting position possible. Career modes can often get boring quickly as you just go through the motions, but here, despite lacking the bells and whistles, Milestone have a career mode that feels pretty engaging.

There are other things that feel really good within the game too. A problem a lot of casual fans have with realistic racing games, is a lack of knowledge with regards to what is going on under the hood. Tuning a car to get the best performance isn’t always the easiest thing to do and with that in mind Milestone have solved that problem.

You can still go into your garage and fiddle with the sliders and tune the bike how you want, so there is no ‘dumbing down’ to speak of, but you also have the option of speaking to your mechanic and telling him what is wrong or what you feel you need to improve. After a short conversation in the form of multiple choice questions, he will then go ahead and make some technical changes.

It is as simple as telling him something like “my bike wobbles under braking” or “I am losing speed down the straights” and after a couple of follow up questions, you can test out the new settings. Of course if it doesn’t work, you can just go back, let him know and he will revert the bike to before the change were made.

Now whilst this is just a simple automatic setting for tuning, it is in the way it is presented that really works. It is how you’d expect thing to happen in a garage on race weekend, the rider will do some laps, go back and update their team on what is right, what feels off and then the team will work on the bike. The rider has input, but doesn’t do the work and here it adds to that feeling of realism.

Away from the career mode you also have the option to play through the a full championship season from MotoGP, Moto2 or Moto3, using either an official rider, or custom riders. There are generic options, the opportunity to relive the 2013 championship, or the Champions Championship which pits all the world champions from 1994 to 2001 against each other.

Real Events 2013 is a scenario mode, that allows you to either recreate or change events from the 2013 season. This is something that has crept into racers based on real world championships of late, as seen in recent F1 games and once again is a nice addition to the roster. Challenge the Champions is a further take on this, but instead of focusing on the 2013 season it takes scenarios from other periods and asks you again to recreate or change history.

The oddest addition to the modes is the Safety Car mode, which essentially has you racing the safety car around tracks in a time-trial mode. The issue here is that the car (a BMW M4 coupe) just doesn’t feel right in the handling, it is after all a bike racer and driving one single car in a separate mode just doesn’t fit. If you wanted to race cars, then you’d be better off buying a car racer instead…Unless Milestone are having a dig at the lack of next gen racers of course!

Over the years, the main issue with games such as MotoGP is that they have never been as accessible as their four wheeled brothers. The lines taken into corners, the way you brake for a corner, accelerate out and even attempt an overtake is all different. They do require you to spend a lot of time with them to even get the basics down .That said, when things do click they can be very rewarding and the same is true with MotoGP 14.

Starting with the lesser powered bikes in Moto3 allows you to get a feel for how a bike will handle and as you progress to the beasts rode in the MotoGP, you will start to feel a lot more comfortable and soon you will be challenging and getting a lot of enjoyment from the races.

MotoGP 14 won’t be for everyone, but during a time when the number of racing games on the PS4 is at a minimum, it more than scratches that itch. There is plenty of value for money in the game for those who want to dive in.

Murdered: Soul Suspect Review

We’ll admit, we have been intrigued by Murdered: Soul Suspect since it was first revealed. A new IP that looks like trying to mix genres is always going to be risky, but can this be a new cult classic, or will it find itself a victim?

Players take on the role of Ronan O’Connor, a former criminal turned cop, who whilst on the trail of the infamous Bell Killer, finds himself the victim. After being thrown through a window, then shot multiple times with his own weapon, Ronan discovers he cannot pass to the other side until he works out his unfinished business.

It is an interesting setup and with the game being set in Salem, it plays off many of the myths and folklore of the area. The early sections of the game could easily be a pilot episode for an AMC or NBC type series, needing to leave a little bit of reality at the door and buy in to the general ideas.

Ronan is a very interesting lead character and one that you instantly connect with. He is a little cliche and you know he was a former criminal by his tattoos over his arms, because as pointed out by another cop in the early scenes…That is a criminal thing. That aside though, Ronan is rough around the edges and despite having a decent moral standing, he isn’t perfect. Again something you would expect of a lead character in a TV series.

That’s the second time we have mentioned a link to TV and you may be asking why that is? Well there are two things that became obvious during Murdered: Soul Suspect. One, it is set up with an almost episodic feel to it, with minor cliff hangers after each area, before a bit of a reveal of where the story is going next. That and some of the additional ‘gamey’ bits felt a little out of place.

Because Ronan is dead and is now a ghost trying to solve his own murder, you get some very interesting mechanics that as a whole work really well. You can walk around a crime scene freely, find a log all the clues and then use these clues to possess and influence witnesses, cops and other characters to solve that area. Now, if the game was simply that and that alone, it would have been a nice game with a decent story.

That being said, it does fall down a little with some of the mechanics. Because you are sort of stuck in Limbo, there needs to be some kind of threat to keep you on your toes and here it is ghostly demons that seem to share a lot in common with the dementors from Harry Potter. These demons will stalk areas and if they see you, they will find you and suck your soul.

The issue here is that they feel completely out of place with the tone of the game and the usual slow paced and deliberate nature of crime solving. You can hide from them in trails left by other ghosts or sneak up on them to exorcise them. The problem is, that they just take away from the general pacing of the game and are more of a nuisance than anything. If they had to be written into the story, you feel there could have been a better way.

There are plenty of other things away from the main story-line though and these thankfully fit in well. Again feeling much more like a long running TV series than anything. Imagine something like House, or X-Files where each episode will have a side case to pad out the episode along with the main theme and you get the idea of what is trying to be achieved here.

It works too, the side cases in Soul Suspect are often interesting and help you to improve your own solving abilities. They are however completely optional and have no bearing on the overall outcome of the game at all, which is nice to see. You won’t want to miss them though, as they are worth playing.

The main game isn’t overly long at all and feels like it was set up to be a long running series, maybe in the episodic nature and to be quite frank, we’d enjoy a proper episodic game about the ghostly adventures of Detective Ronan O’Connor. It is a system that can work with certain types of games, such as Telltale’s output and Murdered: Soul Suspect certainly fits that mould.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is far from a perfect game, especially with some of the mechanics it has, that feel out of place. However the story and characters, along with the setting do a great job of entertaining and we’d definitely like to see more in the future.

Worms Battlegrounds Review

As a series, Worms is now 19 years old (so we expect an anniversary edition next year!) and has seen a huge number of new releases and spin-offs. But it seems that the each new one offers very little new to push the series further. 

That is pretty much the case with Worms Battlegrounds, retaining the tried and tested 2D turn based tactical battle mechanics of the 1995 release. It also seems to cherry pick some elements from many of the recent releases, such as clans from Clan Wars and the classes introduced in Revolution.

The point of the game is still to go into a level and destroy the opposing team, using an ever increasing selection of weapons. In Battlegrounds there are over 60 to choose from and we must admit, the sheer volume of weapons on offer is starting to feel a little bit like overkill. More often than not, you’ll find yourself using the same over and over, finding a few that best fit your own strategy.

As with most recent versions of the game, there is a dedicated single player mode, along with the various multiplayer options. In Battlegrounds the is a story of sorts designed to push you through the numerous levels. however, this feels a tad annoying, with the female narrator grating rather quickly.

It is a shame, as the progression of the story mode does a decent job of introducing new players to the game’s mechanics. Veterans of the series will maybe find the single player tedious and want to jump straight into the multiplayer.

Thanks to the introduction of online over the past few years, Worms can be played online and runs pretty well, again retaining the usual formula of games of old. Up to four players can take part in a battle, with modes split across just the two variations. Deathmatch, which has the usual setup, with your various team members spread randomly across the map.

Forts is pretty much the same set up, but each of your worms start in a home base and if we are being honest, we much prefer the original setup of Deathmatch, as it can take a long time for any real action to get going in forts mode.

You’ll likely want to use the clans feature to try and get regular games with people you know, because as per usual the AI isn’t the greatest and does feel like you are just going through the motions. That is because Worms is at its best when played with other people. Because people make real people mistakes, will do something out of the ordinary and well, it is always better to beat a real person than it is an arbitrary AI opponent.

Where the game still shines though is local multiplayer. This is where the game was born and where it is best. Thanks to remote play, you can play with a mix of Dual Shock and Vita and the game does translate really well to the small screen and let us not kid around here, giving some verbal abuse to someone in the same room when you destroy their Worms with a sheep will never get old.

As much as the basic game is as you will remember, the best addition to the recent entries in the series is classes, as these allow you to set up a team to your own strategies. The various classes offer what you’d expect, with some being better for attacking, others that can take more damage, that sort of thing. This is where the single player can come in handy, as you work out your strategies and test your team setups without having to test and lose online.

As usual with Worms, there are a ton of customisation options, from the usual changing of Worm names, team names and dressing up your characters. It does enough for you to give your team the personal touch. This extends to clans also, allowing you to customise a clan logo, create messages to send to other clans and try to create a rivalry online.

If you are new to the Worms series, or if you have done away with any of your previous generation consoles, then Battlegrounds is a great place to start, or update to. However, if you are still playing older iterations, it doesn’t really offer enough to warrant you moving on.

Worms has a visual style that has pretty much stood the test of time and again will be instantly recognisable. It has had some nice visual upgrades over the years, but it never really looks like it is testing the hardware it features on and it is the same here with the PS4 release, it is simply a nice looking game, nothing more, nothing less.

That said, it isn’t a bad game, it is Worms and it does what a Worms game does. However because the game has barely changed over the years, it is far from essential to get each new version. At £19.99 it does take the game from a impulse purchase to something you really need to think about. But fans who do buy it will not be disappointed, because if you love Worms, you’ll still love Worms.

Watch Dogs Review

Every gamer must know about Watch Dogs by now. It has been the focus of all kinds of discussion, controversy and even the focal point of mockery in many corners. Why? Because it came with mammoth expectations and as the months passed by, following new reveals, delays and assumptions, it seemed many had made their minds up about what this would turn out to be.

We at Gamestyle decided to steer clear of as much of this as possible, so we could go into the game without any major pre-conceived feelings about the game. However, we would be lying if we said that many of the discussions around the internet, the various articles hadn’t sent us into the game with much lower expectations than we had at the original reveal.

Watch Dogs is at its core, your standard mission based open world game with a ton of side quests to complete. Taking cues from the likes of GTA, Infamous, Assassin’s Creed and Saints Row. You play as Aiden Pearce, who is a hacker hell bent on revenge after a hit is taken out on him and his family. The death to his niece is Aiden’s main motivation, which leads him down a very dark and shady path.

There is a bit of an issue here, as the story setup is something you see in many movies, which is fine, but it doesn’t feel strong enough to drive the actual gameplay. You get to a point where you almost forget your original reasons for Aiden to be doing what he is doing, as he takes on various jobs, extra events and so on, that never really seem to fit with the original premise.

However, as with most games of this type, the story generally is weak and is just a way to drive the player forward, to experience as much of what the game has to offer as possible. There is plenty to offer too, as it seems you cannot go more than 30 seconds before you come across a new activity of some description.

The game is set in near future Chicago and  is now pretty much run by a single OS that links together almost every element of the world we live in. This becomes a hackers paradise, being able to find out almost everything about any individual, gather information, steal money direct from their bank accounts, find out if they are planning something, anything. Hell, everything is so tightly linked together, that hackers can control the traffic.

It is an interesting premise and whilst a little far-fetched it doesn’t seem that much beyond the realms of possibility and if it allows us to have fun with a City, then why should we care if all this is a little bit silly. There is that word by the way…FUN, which is exactly what games should be. All too often there are detractors out there that seem to have forgotten that having a good time with a game is the most important thing and Watch Dogs on the whole allows you to have fun.

As mentioned, the amount of extra activities on offer around Chicago are impressive. You get the usual type of things, like take a car to deliver, escort missions, races, etc. Added to that are the types where you need to follow someone, then take them out, you find out about these types of missions by scanning NPC phones and getting hints that a crime may be about to take place. You then get to the area this might happen, scout it out, before usually chasing down the bad guy.

There is nice variety to these types of missions on the whole too, even though many are just variations of the same theme. How you approach these possible crimes is up to you, as you can physically sneak about to watch your suspects, trying not to get caught, or you can hack into security cameras to get a better view whilst staying out of sight. Once you get the cue, you are then free to engage. It works really well and more often than not you will find yourself diverting from your planned course in the story to take on potential crimes.

There are also a bunch of added mini games dotted around the city, such as underground poker games, AR mobile games and so on. These are completely optional and have been thrown into the game as nothing more than a mere distraction, a way to earn some extra cash. Whilst the ‘real world’ mini games can be entertaining (we found ourselves playing Texas Hold Em for over an hour at one point) the AR games feel completely out of place and are probably the thing we disliked most.

There is also a simplicity to the overall game, with hacking being done exclusively on the square button and is simple case of holding until the icon fills up, whether that be hacking a person’s phone, cameras, security terminals, cars, alarms, anything. Whilst initially thinking this was a bit of a cop out, we actually warmed to the idea of this being a catch all mechanic, had it been a complicated system, with multiple ways to initiate a hack, it could have made things frustrating.

It is the same with the combat, you have an attack button for close range attacks and the standard shooting mechanics, which again makes the feel like putting on a glove. It is designed to be comfortable and easily recognisable for anyone that has played a game with any kind of shooting mechanic before.

Driving is an odd thing though. Set the camera to outside the car it is feels off, cars seem to react poorly and have no smoothness to the handling at all. Yet, switch to cockpit cam and it is a whole new ball game. It feels as close to playing Driver San Francisco as anything since that game. The cockpit is blurred allowing you to focus on the road ahead and it just feel right, in fact we’d suggest it was a waste of time having any other view.

So what about visual downgrades? That has probably been the biggest talking point in the lead up to the game’s eventual release and in truth there has been a downgrade from the original E3 reveal. It is easy to see this is a game that has been developed as a cross generation effort. It does lack the WOW factor, but it is certainly more than passable. Some of the locations look very impressive and the detail too impresses. However there are points in the city where is feels a little lifeless, these are very few and far between though, which does make them standout more.

The developers boasted at one point that every person in Chicago has a story, is different, that no two people are the same and to give credit where it is due, on the whole you don’t notice any major repetition, the odd character skin here and there maybe, but nothing that makes you really notice.

It is having that important variation on the city’s inhabitants that is vital to a major part of the game and the one thing that makes it feel different to every other open world game of its type. The online hacking! This is a mechanic that allows you to enter another players game and hack them for information and escape without being found. Of course they can also do the same to you.

This is brilliant and addictive and we found ourselves in and out of this mode more often than not. The idea is, you enter another players game, then try to find them by profiling all the characters around the area, before hacking them and trying not to be discovered. You can do this by trying to mingle around other inhabitants, by hiding in buildings, car parks, etc, maybe by getting in a car and driving down an alley and hiding in said car, or even by creating chaos. Once you start the hack though, the other player will become aware that you are somewhere and will try and hunt you down, if they get to you before the hack in complete, they win.

We did think this would become annoying. Trying to get somewhere in the game only to have another player hack you and thus stopping your progress, but it was far from annoying, it was wonderful fun and offered a great feeling of smugness when winning out over another real world player. There are options to limit how open your online stuff is, so if you really do want to get on with the story, you are free to do so.

Is Watch Dogs the genre defining experience we were expecting back in 2012? No, it isn’t even close to that. Is it a bad game? Not by any stretch of the imagination.  It is a fun and entertaining experience that does have a couple of faults, but is more than worth your investment of money and time.

Cel Damage HD Review

There have been plenty of calls for HD remakes of games from the PS1, PS2, XBOX, Gamecube era, with many having come to fruition. However the HD release of Cel Damage has come a little out of left field.

When originally released Cel Damage boasted some impressive visuals, with the cel shaded style giving the game an authentic cartoon look and feel. The gameplay however got a bit of a mixed reception and the game fell directly in the realms of middle tier. Something that was great to rent for a weekend when you had friends over.

It wasn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but it had to battle other games of similar ideas. It was seen as more of a family friendly Twisted Metal or Carmageddon. However, looking back, it was played some fairly fond memories, so when the chance came to give it another spin, we couldn’t turn it down.

The thing with Cel Damage is that is was a game of its time. It was very barebones in terms of options, with just three real modes of which to speak. Flag Rally, Gate Relay and Smack Attack. Gate relay is a mode that is the closest to a Kart Racer in the game, with players completing laps by passing through checkpoints dotted around the track.

Flag rally had players racing to collect flags dotted throughout the level and essentially being the one at the end with the most and Smack Attack being the main course, where you pretty much drive around using power-ups to destroy the other players, the winner being the one to a certain score first.

Now whilst these are all decent modes in their own right, they also prove the fact that gaming has moved on a lot since its original release, there just isn’t enough content in there compared to most games that come out now, nor is there really enough variety. Had this been released as a full priced title it would have been a travesty, however for less that £10 it is still a game you can have plenty of fun with and feel as though you are getting value for your money.

Again, being a re-release from a 2001 game, it is best played in local multiplayer, where you can sit with others in the same room and mock each other as you beat them, or heckle them as they beat you. It does remind you of a time gaming was a lot more social and a time where games weren’t taking themselves as seriously. Yet you can’t help but feel that an online option would have been nice, because of the competitive nature of the game, it just won’t get the play time it could.

The HD upgrade is really well handled for the most part, with the cars, levels and graphics looking fantastic, which has a lot to do with the original game design, the cell shaded styling would have held up on its own, but the extra HD polish gives you a game that looks like you remember, rather than ruining your memories of said game.

The menus and everything away from the gameplay though really could have done with an overhaul. Menus are clunky and feel cheap, giving an initial poor impression of what is to come. As said though, the visuals where it counts are impressive though and must be praised.

There have been some minor changes under the hood, with the most noticeable being the removal of one hit kills, with characters now having an energy bar that must be worn down. It does add a little longevity to each individual event, but at the same time removes the risk vs reward nature of the original. You can now be a lot more aggressive all of the time and not have to worry as much about being hit. This for us meant some of the challenge is now missing, which is a shame.

Cel Damage HD feels a little like a missed opportunity, as it could have been a title that was ripe for a remake and not just a re-release. The visual style could have remained, but new modes, characters and a solid online presence would have been welcome and could have made the game relevant again, as it is, it becomes nothing more than a nice trip down memory lane for those who enjoyed the original.

There is value to be had though, as Cel Damage HD is Cross-Buy across PS4, PS4 and PS Vita and for once it doesn’t really matter which format you play on. Because of the game’s set up,  you don’t really feel like you lose anything by focusing on just one and to their credit, the developers have included Cross-Save, which is great to see and again, hopefully something that becomes standard.

Cel Damage HD is a decent game, but one for fans of the original only, it is unlikely to bring new fans, nor change the minds of those who may not have enjoyed it way back when. For a HD remake it is slap bang in the middle of a lazy upgrade and an excellent one and at the end of the day will always feel like a missed opportunity. But for fans there is fun to bed had.

Transistor Review

The team behind Indie smash Bastion haven’t rested on their laurels since the game’s release and have been busy at work with Transistor, a Sci-Fi RPG with one hell of a story to tell.

However, we at Gamestyle believe it i best to go into this game blind, without knowing one little aspect of how it even begins to unfold. What we will tell you though, is that a similar story-telling mechanic as used in Bastion is also used here, with more and more being unveiled as you progress, told by a narrator (of sorts) based on what you do and where you go.

It is a fantastic mechanic that drip feeds you clues as to what the story is and where it may go next, whilst also giving you hints as to what may be around the corner. From the very first steps you take in Transistor, you find yourself hanging off every word.

The narrator can be listened to via the normal methods by using the TV Speakers, headphones, etc or can be isolated to the Dual Shock 4’s own built in speaker, separating it from the main audio of the game. This works amazingly well and does a wonderful job of drawing you in and creating a stunning atmosphere.

And that is something Transistor has in spades, it is dripping in atmosphere, from the excellent soundtrack (more on that in a bit) to the outstanding art direction, this is a game that has been lovingly created from the ground up. The visual design is something that really does stand out and shows what the extra power of the latest consoles can allow.

The futuristic city designs are beautiful and it is clear that no compromise has been made, with the art team allowed to bring their vision to the final game, something that may not have been possible just a few short years ago. Whilst the city as a whole is quiet, it still feels alive with every building, every small bit of scenery, looking like it has come from the mind of a real creative, rather than something that has been toned down to accommodate any restrictions imposed by system power to allow certain gameplay mechanics.

However, it is the soundtrack that really brings everything to life, it feels like it is just as much a part of the game, as the gameplay itself, rather than something that has been added in to create a certain atmosphere, or just for the sake of good music. There are moments in the game, where you just want to stop and listen, the vocal work done by Ashley Barrett is easily some of the best you will hear in a game, that girl has an amazing voice…How good is it though? Well, we are all in for the Official Soundtrack, which isn’t something we often do.

But, a game can have all the amazing sound and visuals it wants, but it still needs to be a solid game to make any of that worthwhile and thankfully Transistor hits the sweet spot here too. Much like Bastion you will walk around a wonderfully crafted game wold, often running into various events as you go, which mainly leads into having some kind of battle with the game’s enemies.

Transistor is a mix of real time action, mixed with a strategy element. At any time you can press the R2 button which pauses the action and activates Turn(), allowing you to use you sword’s various abilities to plan attacks on the enemies. There is a limit of what you can do in any planning phase, based on various upgrades and settings of you unlocked attacks. This though makes you have to think properly about which enemy to expend your energy on, where you will end up after carrying out the plan and which enemies may be left.

Once Turn() is activated you can choose to maybe move, then use CRASH() as an attack on one enemy, which may be activated to turn them friendly, before moving again to use BREACH() on another, before finally moving to a safe area. The beauty of this is, that certain functions do use varying amounts of available Turn(). With BREACH() using more than CRASH().

So deciding what to do and how to best approach each situation isn’t a case of just spamming set functions all the time. This isn’t all set in stone though, as you upgrade, so does the amount of turn() each function takes up. Meaning all encounter evolve over time, both in how much stronger you become  and how enemies are engaged. What this means for you, is that every encounter continues to be a challenge and at no point do you ever feel over powered and that you are simply going through the motions.

If anything, early on, you feel you are under powered  and that what you think is a good attack plan, can often leave you exposed to enemy attacks. It is the variation of the enemies that keep things interesting, from smaller easy to take out enemies that attack in numbers, to singular larger enemies that see you needing to enter a planning mode a fair few times before they are taken out.

The balancing here is very clever, once you have finished a planned out attack, your weapons are dead until such a time they have been recharged, meaning you have to act defensively until they are ready again. Now this is only a few seconds, but you can find yourself in danger during those few seconds, as you panic and try to avoid any incoming attacks.

This gives you some interesting options, as once recharged, you can use attacks in real-time without them draining, allowing you to go on the offensive yourself, but by attacking without using the planning phase, you are a lot more exposed to enemy attacks than if you were using the planned attack strategy. The fact that neither option is right or wrong in themselves makes for very interesting and challenging encounters every single time.

As you progress through the game and level up, you can new abilities, which can then be chained with other abilities allowing you to create more powerful attacks, or allow you to regenerate you own health, turn enemies against enemies and more. But the way this is implemented works really well too.

You have four main functions, using the four face buttons on the controller. When you start to chain abilities you have to decide which upgrades best fit which function, then during the planning phase it depends on which combos you choose to use in which situation.

For example, you have an attack set with the X button with a chain that turns enemies into allies when a second X attack is used, but you might also have an option on another button that when combined with something else allows a secondary attack. It is finding the best combinations for the right situations that works well. Most functions can also be used as primary, upgrades, or passive options. Again how you choose to use each will have a different effect on other functions and attacks that can be pulled off. The options can feel almost endless.

When we first put Transistor on, just to have a quick look, it was meant to be just that, a quick look before bed to see how the graphics looked, what the basic controls were, that sort of thing. Next thing we knew, five hours has passed and we had been in a hypnotic state as the game drew us in further and further.

It just has that special something, that perfect storm of wonderful visuals, music to die for and gameplay that keeps you engaged. It also has nigh on perfect pacing, with a few lessons learned from Bastion, a game that had good pacing, but at times had areas you felt dragged on, here though that isn’t the case. As you progress through each area, you arrive in another and instead of wanting to stop and rest, you want to go further, hear more of the story that is unfolding and just play more and more. With upgrades and unlocks coming at just the right time, each and every time.

But how you use the new abilities and upgrades will change over the course of the game also. Unlike some games that have a skill tree, that you pretty much decide on following, Transistor will see you making changes as you go, finding the best combinations that will give you the most effective battle strategy. Again something that worked early in the game may not work later.

This is a game that knows how to tease, that flirts with you using its looks and charm, but then makes you fall in love with just how clever it is. You want to stay in its company for longer and longer, getting to know it uncovering more of its mysteries. For a game to get that balance just right is a rare feat, but SuperGiant Games have it.

Transistor was somewhat of a showpiece game for Sony in 2013 and upon its release it isn’t hard to see why. Everything about the game shows it has been made with love and affection, it has the visuals to impress anyone that lays eyes on it, but also some really well balanced gameplay to dig its claws in and keep you hooked. If you ever needed a reason to own a PS4, then this could well be it.

Sparkle 2 Review

With it’s release of Sparkle on PS Vita, developer 10tons covered a genre that hasn’t had much exposure on Sony’s handheld. The match-3 puzzle game. The first title was very much in the same mould as Luxor and Zuma and the follow up is yet again a pretty much by the numbers game.

In terms of the core mechanics of the game, it is as you would expect. Various coloured orbs follow a specific track around a level and you shoot out matching orbs to try and destroy them. It has been done before and will be copied again down the line. There are a few nice touches here though that do make Sparkle 2 a game worth your attention.

Firstly the game as a bit of a story to follow, which isn’t overly deep or really worth taking note of, but it does allow for a structure to progress and receive various unlocks and bonuses which make sense along the story’s path. The different power-ups you get take on two forms.

First up are the regular power-ups you will get as you play a level, for every 3rd consecutive match you make, a power-up will appear which you can collect and then use to your advantage. These are the usual types, slowing down the orbs on the path, sending them backwards, wild orbs that can match any selection of orbs, whether their colours match or not and so on.

The other type are the permanent power-ups, which can be attached to your orb slinger to enchant it. These range from a power-up that gives you a special type of shot for every ten shots made, to others that will make getting the regular power-ups easier to get.

At the start of the game you have no slots and no permanent power-up available. But for every few levels you complete a new power-up is made available and sometimes a new slot so you can have multiple permanent power-ups at the same time. These prove to be very useful as the game progresses, because Sparkle 2 is a very challenging game, with later levels testing your skills and patience.

There is a fairly decent amount of content available too, with over 90 levels in the main story mode alone, which can then be completed in three different difficulty settings. Aside from that there are also a series of survival modes and challenge levels, which again will really test your abilities and add real value to the game.

As seems to be the trend at the moment, Sparkle 2 is a Cross-Buy title for both PS4 and PS Vita and although the Vita version felt the most natural way to play, the PS4 version is still competent and tries to add some new ideas. The Touchpad on the Dual Shock 4 can be used like a mousepad on a laptop and is meant to offer better control and whilst it feels a bit alien to start with it did become more natural the more it was used.

Another neat addition is the use of the light bar on the Dual Shock 4, with it changing colour based on the coloured orb currently loaded into the orb slinger. It doesn’t have any real practical use, but it was fun to see for a brief moment and again good to see a developer trying to add that something different.

That said, the Vita version really did feel the ideal home for Sparkle 2 and it is where most of the time was spent playing. It would have been nice to chop and change between both versions, but again the lack of Cross-Save on a Cross-Buy title means you really need to choose a format and stick with it. Hopefully Cross-Save is something that will become standard down the line, but as it stands it is another title that feels like you get an option to choose at the start and then stick with.

When that is the only real complaint though, you know a game is doing something right and despite Sparkle 2 being very similar to the likes of Luxor, it does stand up in its own right and is a great little title to play. It ticks all the right boxes and leaves you feeling satisfied, which is what you want from a decent puzzle game.

Daylight Review

You know how it is, one creepy horror game set in an abandoned location comes out, then others follow! You’d be forgiven for believing that Daylight is a me too type game after the success of Outlast on PC and PS4, after all, from the outside it does look very similar, but it is actually quite different. 

Daylight begins with very little set, dropping you to an environment with no knowledge as to what you are there for, or what you are meant to even be doing. You are basically told “here is a device, use it to follow a map and to light the way” and that is it. So you do what come naturally and start to move.

It is only as you start moving around the environment that the story starts to unfold bit by bit, but never actually giving you an outright reason as to why you are where you are, or why you are in this position. It drip feeds you little snippets of information, via clues left around the building and the creepy voice that guides you.

It is a very interesting concept, that uses the idea of the unknown to completely unsettle you and because it is so miserly with the information and back story, you find yourself creeping around, literally not knowing what is around the next corner, or through the next door.

Part of this, it that the world is procedurally generated, which means even if you go back for another play through, you won’t know what is coming. It isn’t a new idea and there are plenty of games that do that sort of thing, but in a game where you want to keep the player right on the edge, it works exceptionally well.

And it does keep you on edge, played in the dark, with headphones on the atmosphere created is one of the most creepiest you will find. This is largely in part to the sound design, as you hear footsteps, wails, voices and more throughout your stay. It doesn’t matter who you are, if played in the right environment, it is hard not to be drawn in and feel completely uneasy as you play.

If you decide to play using PS4’s streaming services, then this is one of those games that has the interactive parts almost spot on. Anyone watching can type in certain key phrases to the streaming chat window, that will have an automatic effect on the game. Such as if someone types the word ‘feet’ you will start to hear footsteps. The idea is to allow those watching to try and make your experience all the more harrowing. The issue here, is that being a single player game, it can soon become tiresome when you have a crowd of people doing the same thing over and over, to the point where you switch off the interactivity and play it without.

Essentially in Daylight you are trying to survive and escape and unlike other survival horror games, you have no weapons whatsoever, leaving totally exposed to the dangers around. The most you have are some flares, which can warn off the bad entities which stalk you and is a really interesting concept and one that deserves to be explored further in the genre. Just knowing that at best you can put off the inevitable, rather than battle it really does change the fear factor.

Daylight also takes its cues from Dungeon Crawler type games, as you only start to unveil more of the map as you move further into the game. Going through a set of doors, or down a new hallway will then reveal where you are, only when you have hit a dead end, will that be marked on the map. The game forces you to explore and has a genuine sense of feeling lost and helpless. For the most part hearing the noise around you but never quite knowing from where or whom they are coming from really adds to that sense of fear also.

There are puzzles of sorts in certain areas, which mainly consist of using your glow-sticks to uncover clues, or find items that can be used to get to new areas, or be taken to places to unlock new areas, nothing that is really complex and designed mainly to get you moving and push you in the direction the game wants you to go.

The game is short too, as it can be finished in 2-3 hours for the most part, with the idea being that you’d go back and play numerous times. The issue here, is that unless you are a trophy hunter, there really isn’t any real need to go back it is a game that blows its load on that initial run. The scares only work the first time and all the effects that draw you in become tiresome on another play through.  That is fine though, as it is a cheap price and there is nothing wrong with short games as long as they offer up an experience.

With the procedural generation of levels the idea is that you would want to go back time and time again, knowing that every new game will be different and the concept is a sound one, but as mentioned above, despite never knowing what is around the corner, the fact you finished it once, means that all that atmosphere, the scare tactics and even the story lose their edge on a second and third attempt. Which is a shame, but don’t let that take away from the first go though, as that is where Daylight is at its best.

Daylight does offer an experience and just about doesn’t outstay its welcome, it offers a ton of atmosphere and a feeling of helplessness that other games in the genre have been unable to do. A far from essential purchase, but one that will keep you entertained for an evening alone.

Titan Attacks Review

Ah Curve, how you spoil us. With their recent output, Curve have been on somewhat of a hot streak. Producing games such as Lone Survivor, Stealth Inc, Proteus, Thomas Was Alone and more. Now granted, they haven’t developed them all and have been on the publishing side, but when you see the name Curve attached to a game, you do need to take notice.

So when Titan Attacks came on the radar, that is exactly what happened,  yet unlike some of their previous output, the immediate appeal wasn’t quite there. On the surface this is a game that looks like a bog standard Space Invaders clone, which doesn’t really seem all that appealing, in a world where we have Space Invader Extreme and Space Invaders Infinity Gene.

Even when you first start playing, it is a game that feels like it is lacking that certain something. The two updated Space Invaders games both brought something new to the table and update the original concept by throwing amazing visuals and music into the mix, with added speed, to test your gaming reflexes, so when you come to a game like Titan Attacks, it originally just feels slow and wrong.

However, after beating a few levels, you realise this is almost pure Space Invaders and is a hell of a lot more challenging than you expected. Sure the enemies move at a slower pace and early levels can be cleared with ease, but as you move on, the way the enemies move, the various types there are, start to make this a really tough game to beat.

That concern you had, that this is a cheap clone is all but gone, as your concentration levels are at their maximum. Sure your eyes aren’t bleeding through blinding visuals and immense speed, but you feel a real danger to your craft as you dodge bullets, try to take down clusters of enemies, get those bonus points and just complete the stage.  It grabs you and once it does, you are hooked.

There are some nice touches that do set it apart from a basic Space Invaders too. You earn money with every kill, get bonuses for taking down certain enemies and there are chances to collect aliens that may fall from some ships to again earn bonus points and money. This adds a risk vs reward element to proceedings, do you try and rescue that falling alien and risk being hit by enemy fire, or do you let him be and stay safe. By going for it, you may get extra money that will become useful for getting some all important upgrades.

You can upgrade various parts of your ship, such as buying extra shields which act as your lives, upgrading weapon power, smart bombs, etc. How you utilise these is important to your progression in the game, as spending everything on shields may keep you safer for longer, but it could mean that you need more hits on tougher enemies to take them down. Spending everything on weapon upgrades may see you take out enemies easier, but leaves you battling not to be hit.

In later levels getting this balance right is vital, as you can and will be bombarded by enemy fire and your reflexes need to be at their sharpest just to stay alive, whilst still trying to take down the enemies and finish the stage. The patterns they take in the game really have an effect too, as you see a mix of the usual left to right and back again types, the ships that move along the screen, others which bounce around the screen in a more random fashion and more. When these all start mixing it becomes a hell of a task to manage them, stay alive and win.

There are smart bombs which can be used to clear an entire level should things get too hectic or difficult and is useful for just moving on, however you won’t receive any bonuses or the like, which then means getting upgrades for the next level becomes harder and in turn makes the next level itself harder to beat. One such situation saw us with a single life left and a lot of enemies left, the smart bomb was used and the level cleared, but that left us with no money to upgrade and straight into the next stage with just that single life.

Titan Attacks is a re-imagining on a classic and whilst it doesn’t reach the height of Space Invaders, nor that game’s own modern updates, it does produce a wonderfully enjoyable game. It would be easy to dismiss it right from the off, but that would be doing it a disservice, because once it gets going, it is easy to lose hours to the game, as you test yourself time and time again to go further and get better.

It isn’t a classic must have title by any stretch, but for its price and the fact it is cross-buy on PS Vita, PS4 and PS3 means it does offer great value. It is best on the Vita though, as the gameplay and visual style works better on the smaller screen, but having the option there to play it on any of your Sony devices is great and hopefully something we’ll see a lot more of.

If you are hankering for some classic old school arcade fun, then you cannot go wrong with Titan Attacks, it isn’t perfect and it isn’t the best Space Invaders inspired game on the market, but it is more than worth your time and money.

Sportsfriends Review

Something seems to be happening on home consoles lately, especially since the PS4 has come out. We are starting to see a return for the local multiplayer games. Towerfall set the bar and Sportfriends aims to follow suit. 

Previously when a game has been local co-op or multiplayer only, it has been seen as a bit of a negative, taking away from the experience by not allowing online play. Whilst that has been true in the past, it has been because of the type of games they were. With Towerfall and Sportsfriends, local is the way to go and it works.

Sportsfriends is a pretty small game, boasting just four events, with one of those requiring four players, no more no less. The other three are played with 2-4 players. You hear a fair amount about games that a ideal for parties, the likes of Rock Band, Singstar, Just Dance and the like. The problem with these games, is they require a certain amount of talent and confidence. Not everyone wants to dance or sing infront of other people, no matter how drunk they may be.

This is where Sportfriends fills a gap, it is stupid fun, you require no talent, no need to want to be the life and soul of the party, you just have good old fun with friends and family, sober or a little bit merry. As said there are four events to take part in and each one of them is as simple as can be.

Barabariball has two teams standing on a platform surrounded by water, the idea is to get the ball and throw it into the water on your opponents side, each time you do this, you get a point. You can jump in after the ball to stop the other team scoring, but you will in turn lose a point yourself. It is a really simple concept and can get hectic, especially as four players face off against each other.

Johann Sebastian Joust is probably the standout game of the four, as it doesn’t even require you to pay attention to the TV to play. Up to four players hold a controller, or move controller each (more on that in a bit). They stand in a circle and the idea is to keep your controller still, whilst forcing other players to move theirs. This usually ends up in a bit of a wrestle as you try to get one up on your friends. It is such a simple premise, it is silly but it is a barrel of laughs.

Super Pole Riders is probably the most complex game of the set, with players having to move a ball that is on a line to their opponents goal. They do this using a pole which is controlled with the right stick, whilst moving the character with the left stick. Players can either move the ball with the pole, or use the pole to vault their guy upwards so he can kick the ball. However, you also need to be aware of opponents who are fighting for the same ball, but can also knock you off your pole giving them a small advantage with no opponent to worry about for a moment. Again it is hectic and fun.

The final game is Hokra, which requires four players as standard. With Hokra, you have two teams of two players and the aim is to get the ball into one of your home zones and keep it there until your square fills up, the first team to fill their square wins the game. Yet the other team just need to run into you to get the ball and make off with it to their own home zone. The battles that can be had here are fantastic with some games last a fair amount of time, as you win the ball, set off, but get it stolen back, before you steal it yourself and so on.

It got to the point where players were discussing tactics, of how to get the ball and get to a zone whilst another defended trying to keep it as long as possible, the back and forth becomes tense and exciting very quickly an makes for some entertaining times even for those just watching.

One of the biggest fears we had for Sportfriends before playing, was how much anyone would get out of it, unless they had four controllers, or enough move controllers for everyone. Especially when it came to Johann Sebastian Joust. But fears were quickly quashed, when it became apparent you could use a mixture of controllers, move controllers and even the Vita to play. The Move controllers don’t even need the camera to function for any of the games, which put to rest another fear you may initially have…needing to buy a camera. It isn’t needed at all.

The ease of use of the game, the quickness to set up and play really does make this an ideal party game. It took mere seconds from booting the game to have four players on various controller types, laughing, giggling and generally having fun. And whilst initially it felt a little disappointing that there was no single player option, it does make sense, this isn’t the sort of game that you can enjoy on your own. Even if it used bots as opponents, there is no better fun than owning your friends and family. It is a game that knows its strengths and plays to them perfectly.

There is great value too, because if you buy it on the PS3, you get the PS4 version free as part of a cross-buy promotion, which can be ideal if you are visiting a friends house and they only have the other system to what you may have. The PS3 version unfortunately doesn’t support the Vita, but that is a minor issue and not one that can be blamed on the developers anyway.

Sportsfriends isn’t a game that you will play every day, it isn’t a game that is for a lone gamer, it is purely for getting out when friends are over, at parties, when the whole family is at home, those sorts of occasions. It may only be played a handful of times a year, but we can guarantee you, that those handful of times, will be wondrous and full of great memories.

PlusCast May 2014

After some issues with the April podcast, Barry and Bradley are back for the May edition of the PlusCast.

We look at the April releases on PS+, have a few discussions on Free 2 Play, a potential future for sports games using PS+ and more. Before looking forward to May’s releases.

Leaving PS Plus:

Entering PS Plus:

So without any further delay:

PlusCast: May 2014

Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review

More and more we are seeing games that just wouldn’t have seen the light of day just a few short years ago. Games that would have had to been released at retail and sent out to die, or just not had publishers take the chance on them as they would be too much of a risk for them, thus possibly losing money.

Thank the Gods then, that over the past couple of years there has been a change in attitude, not just since the release of the PS4 and XBOX ONE, but since XBLA paved the way for smaller downloadable titles and showed there could be a market for them. Sony soon followed suit on PSN, but the Indie scene has just exploded in the past year of so and we are now getting games that were usually only available for PC users.

One such title is Octodad: Dadliest Catch, a game in which you control an Octopus who is trying to live a normal human life. Yes, that is the basic premise of this game, playing an Octopus disguised as a human, with a wife and kids, living in a nice suburban home. He has to make coffee, sort the garden, cook, clean and more.

It is easy to see why a game like this has needed a change in attitude from the decision makers at Sony to see the light of day on a console. It just isn’t an easy sell, not like the latest FPS, Sports game, Action or even JRPG. But here we have it and how thankful we should be that Octodad is gracing us with its presence, as it is a simply wonderful experience.

The game starts out with a very clever and funny tutorial level, with Octodad on his wedding day. It is this setup that allows you to get used to the basic controls, with combinations of buttons allowing for control of each individual limb. Look at it as something of a refined QWOP, as having to move Octodad around feel cumbersome and difficult initially, but soon you become very accustomed to the controls and…well still clumsily move around, knocking everything over as you go.

Levels are just a simple checklist of tasks for the most part. Asking you to go here, do this, give this item to this person, yet in its simplicity is also its challenge. What seem like at first fairly mundane and simple tasks become an exercise in concentration. You have to master the controls, otherwise you just won’t be able to push on. One such example is early in the game, where you need to retrieve a frozen pizza from a freezer in a supermarket. Yet the doors are frozen shut, with just the far one being open. Using the techniques learned early in the game, you make your way through the freezers to the pizza and viola! You have finished another task.

Some of the tasks are pure puzzle, take your time and work out what you need to do, before moving on. Yet being an octopus disguised as a human has its drawbacks. There are some people out to get you, for whatever reason. This creates the odd set-piece within each level, that require you to act a lot more quickly, thus ramping up the challenge, as you go from calm and methodical, to outright panic at times. This change of pace works really well and will keep you on your toes.

Everything about Octodad should make for a game you spend a few moments with, then move on. It is fairly repetitive in its approach, but for some reason you cannot put the controller down, you want to push on constantly and you will have a wonderful time with it.

A big part of this is due to the writing, whilst not big or clever, it is incredibly funny and just with the main content either. As you move around a level, you will hear many of the NPCs speaking and commenting and they are worth listening to, as you will find yourself giggling along as you hear the little quips throughout. But the main ‘story’ is really well put together and considering that this is a rather basic game, the conversations and setups are wonderfully done.

The visuals also play a part, as Octodad takes place in a fully realised 3D environment and has an art style that blurs the lines between what you think an Indie game should look like and what one can look like. It is big, bold and colourful and just has a ton of charm. The physics work really well and add to the lunacy of the game as a whole. As you trip over everyday items, knock every around you scatty and generally cause a mess. This could easily have been something that felt a bit half arsed, but again the quality shines through.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch isn’t a system seller, but if you already own a PS4, it is a game you must buy, because it is just so different it must be experienced. What could have felt like a tech demo, or an experiment, turns out to be so much more. A well rounded game, that will give you so much joy when playing.

LEGO The Hobbit Review

Fact (not really a fact). There have been a thousand LEGO games released since 2012! Whilst that isn’t really true, it certainly feels like there have been a constant stream of new LEGO games, with The Hobbit being the third since the release of Next-Gen consoles in November 2013, following on from LEGO Marvel Superheroes and The LEGO Movie Videogame.

In general LEGO The Hobbit follows the same recipe as previous LEGO games. Move through a central hub, find missions, smash stuff, complete mission, do more things in a central hub, rinse and repeat. But let us face it, it is a formula that works and try as we might, it is hard not to enjoy a LEGO game, regardless of the skin it has applied.

Credit where credit is due though, with LEGO The Hobbit, just like in The LEGO Movie Videogame, there are attempts to introduce a new mechanic to the series. Here it is looting, where rather than just smashing up items to build new ones, you have to collect the loot that is dropped from the various bits you have smashed up in the usual way.

Collecting these bits of loot will allow you to then build the required item at designated areas of a level, a key here, a bridge there and so on. In truth this just adds an additional level of activity without offering anything really that new, it isn’t like a Minecraft where you can use various different found materials to create something specific based on what you have and there is no real discovery, as what you need to build will nine times out of ten be covered by what you have already found.

It needs to be like that though, as if there was a chance you may not have the correct materials, the structured levels wouldn’t be possible to complete, which simply wouldn’t work for a LEGO game, as its simplicity is part of the charm. Being able to play with all members of the family, young and old, no matter their experience.

There will be times where you may not have what you need right away, but you can be sure that you will get the right parts by smashing up a bit more of the area you are in. Whilst it sounds like we are down on this as a mechanic, it is something that younger players will enjoy and something we found out first hand when playing with a young child. They liked that they had collected what they needed, or needed to explore that little bit more around the area.

But that is just it with a LEGO game, seasoned gamers may well be getting a bit of fatigue with them, but there is no doubting the enjoyment a child will get and in turn, that makes the whole experience a much more rewarding one.

LEGO The Hobbit follows the story of the books and films well and again, as with previous titles has just the right mix of faithful adaptation and creative license, the writing is done well and the humour hits all the right notes. It has the full cast of the film doing the voices for the characters, which helps bring the world to life and for those that have seen the films, it does feel like a nice extension, rather than a cheap tie-in.

As has become the norm in LEGO games, there are various quests opened up as you progress that can be played at any time from the open world hub, with these being completely optional, they do become a fun distraction from the formulaic structure of the main story progression and much like most of the recent LEGO games, it becomes a much more enjoyable experience when played in Co-op.

As with all PS4 games, this has to be Remote Play compatible and thanks to the simple nature of the controls in a LEGO game, playing on a Vita is just like playing the game natively. This again make co-op play all that much easier, as you can even play with someone whilst you are away from the home.

LEGO The Hobbit is a cross-gen game and despite the addition of remote-play there isn’t anything that really stands out between this and the PS3 version when looked at separately. That said, the visuals are lovely and it can often be under-appreciated just how well done they are, just go back and look at some of the earlier LEGO games on the PS3 or 360 and see how far they have come over the years.

Is LEGO The Hobbit a must have title? Not at all and if you haven’t worked through the other two LEGO releases on PS4, then it is hard to tell you to put those to the side and pick this up immediately. However if you have a family and you have worked through the other games, then you won’t go wrong by picking this up, because it is a LEGO game and the fun factor is still there.

Fez Review

Alomst every gamer must know about Fez. A game that was originally released on XBLA around two years ago and was a bit of a focal point of the documentary Indie Game: The Movie. It has been through a bit of a development hell and release dates were pushed further and further back. It got to a point where there was even a little bit of a backlash from fans. It’s creator Phil Fish divided opinion and became somewhat of a controversial figure over the past few years.

That said, when Fez finally released it proved the wait was worth it and here at Gamestyle, we were massive fans. It is hard to think now, that this game was a big deal, an Indie game that had AAA following. Going back just a couple of years and the Indie movement on consoles was still new, they weren’t the industry darling, but here we had a game that was built from the ground up by a very small team and it was as well known as the latest Call Of Duty in many circles.

It really is a fantastic game too, with players taking on the role of Gomez, a 2D character who lives in a 2D world, before his life it turned upside down and he is shown that there is something beyond his realm. The world around him is actually 3D, thus setting him on a journey of discovery.

Whilst the mechanics in Fez aren’t completely unique, having seen similar in games such as Crush, it is how well the 2D and 3D work together that makes this stand out. Rather than just switching you between 2D and 3D, you actually only play in 2D, which keeps the game mechanics on the players end simple and understandable. The 3D element comes in by allowing the user to rotate the world and start to show areas of the world that would have been previously unseen. Thus allowing new elements to open up. Ladders to get to higher area, doors to hidden rooms, or even changing where a platform is reachable from.

Fez walks the line between puzzler and platformer remarkably well, and whilst there is a fair amount of traversal around levels, it is the puzzle elements that really stand out. Working out how to reach a certain area, or what what you may have missed whilst trying find those remaining cubes. To even finding hidden areas and secrets that open up the world of Fez even further.

Yet the gameplay mechanics and the story that drive it are only part of the charm. The world of Fez is simply beautiful, it is a lesson that shows what can be done with old ideals with added power. Years ago 2D games were made out of necessity, 16bit consoles wouldn’t cope with full on 3D worlds. Then, they were forgotten, as more power meant this became possible. However not without its problems, games had more bugs, graphics looked a lot poorer and that beauty was lost.

In games like Fez though, there is an outstanding amount of attention to detail. Every little block seems to have been lovingly created, the colours burst from the screen and especially on the Vita’s OLED display, it just pops. In fact, it is the design of the levels and the attention to detail in that design that keeps you there, you never actually want to leave, you can happily lose yourself for hours on end.

Now as we said, this is a 2 year old game that is now seeing a release on PSN, but having it open to a wider audience who may have missed out first time around in no bad thing. It is cross-buy and cross-save here too. We recommend playing on the Vita for the most part, is we really cannot state enough, just how wonderful it looks on ‘Dat Screen’.

The Cross-Save deserves a mention too, as it is the best implementation so far. You have a choice of four save slots in the game. 1-3 which are local and a Cross-Save slot. We choose that, as we wanted to test the game across the three platforms. Starting on the Vita, we got to a point in the game and saved. Then booting up the PS4 version, that save was in the Cross-Save slot instantly and we could carry on. Played some more, then back to the Vita. There it was, updated and ready to carry on. Where other games have had Cross-Save which has been a bit cumbersome, this is just works. So kudos to the development team for that.

So what of Fez? Who is it for? The answer to that is everyone. If you haven’t played before, then you must pick it up instantly, hell even if you played and completed, it is the sort of game that you will be happy to play through again. If you get it on PSN, you don’t even need to settle on a single platform, what we can say is that the PSN release if the definitive version of Fez. Stop what you are doing and buy it now.

Plus Cast Episode 2

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

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

So without any further delay:

Plus Cast Episode 2: March 2014

Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark Ultimate Edition Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steamworld Dig Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zen Pinball 2 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pinball Arcade Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Backgammon Blitz Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doki Doki Universe Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resogun Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trine 2: The Complete Story Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call Of Duty: Ghosts Next Gen Comparison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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