Homefront: The Revolution review

Homefront The Revolution game review screenshot

So hear me out for a moment. At the back end of 2015 I came to a decision that I wanted to step down from Gamestyle. Life got in the way and I couldn’t dedicate the time I felt the site deserved. There was another reason though.

I just didn’t enjoy writing about games any longer, or to be more precise, I didn’t enjoy reviewing games and having to give an arbitrary score at the end of a review. How you see a game is personal to you and witnessing the reaction to not only some of my review scores, but those of fellow writers, I felt it just wasn’t worth it.

So why am I writing about Homefront: The Revolution? Continue reading “Homefront: The Revolution review”

Fallout 4 Review

Fallout 4 (Xbox One) screenshot

…Or. The game Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer should have been!

That will make sense in a bit, because it was at one point my only real issue with Fallout 4, but that has long since been sorted out on my side.

This is a late review, so let me get this part out of the way first. Despite some bugs, as expected from a Bethesda open-world RPG and some poor loading times. This is one of my most beloved games in the past few years and has joined Fallout 3, Tetris, Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Silent Hill 2, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 and the likes as one of my greatest of all-time.

Some may not agree, but I don’t care, they are entitled to their opinion and covering the issues with the game is fine, but they really didn’t give me any reason to want to stop, or ruin my enjoyment. So despite the known problems, this is still a 10/10 game in my book.

There is also little point in me going over all the checkpoints for what is new, what has been updated, because chances are you have already read those. This is about what Fallout 4 means to me and my adventures.

Fallout 3 had one of those moments that will live with me to the day I die. When my great-grandkids ask me about videogames in my day and why were they so popular. The moment you step out of Vault-101 will be right at the top of the list of moments I recall.

The build to that moment was perfectly timed. It had you become almost institutionalized within the vault, before setting up the sequence to release you into the Wasteland. It was a perfect moment and it is something that in my honest opinion can only work the once.

So the opening to Fallout 4 was very well handled, the starting of the game as the bombs hit, was, for me, a stroke of genius. It gave us a glimpse of what the world used to be like and setup another moment, that whilst not immediately poignant as what happened in Fallout 3, still stopped me in my tracks.

The time difference between entering the vault for your safety and the moment you leave again is very short, maybe 15-20 minutes (longer if you explore). But this is clearly a design choice, because remember that cozy suburb you left as the bombs were dropping? Well that is still fresh in your memory. So when you return to that exact location, the differences 200 years makes hits home immediately.

Fallout 4 (Xbox One) screenshot

I was concerned early on though, as once you return home, the game becomes a bit linear, shepherding you through a series of quests at quite a pace. However, it is clear why this is happening, because going off and doing your own thing this early would stop you understanding a major new feature in the game and also leave you completely under prepared for the Wasteland.

To be fair, it is just a case of me itching to explore and those early mission don’t really take up all that much time.  Soon enough though the shackles are removed and away you go.

This is the main reason I love Fallout. You start of in one direction as part of a quest, whether that be mainline or side, then something pops up on your compass, so you decide to follow that, so you at least have it saved to the map.

Yet on the way there, something else pops up, so of course I decide I need to check that out. Then it happens again and again and again. Next thing you know several hours have passed and you have forgotten what you were meant to be be doing in the first place.

It is that sense of discovery that really sets Fallout apart from other open world games. Yes there are things to find in GTA, Assassin’s Creed, InFamous and the likes, but they all feel like they are sign-posted for you to find. In Fallout it is different, the world isn’t as ‘alive’ as many others, but because you are constantly discovering new areas, both larger and tiny, it feels a hell of a lot more active.

Now that isn’t a slight on those other games, but you just need to compare this to pretty much any Ubisoft title, where you are required to find some kind of tower, that will then expose everything else there is to find in that area. Fallout doesn’t do this, it lets you happen upon things, with only quest vital landmarks being given to you at the right time.

Because you need to discover everything on your own, it does make the side quests a lot more appealing. Again in other open-world games, the optional stuff can feel like a chore and if I am being honest, I often cannot be bothered with them.

Yet here in Fallout 4 (as it was in Fallout 3 and other Fallout titles) I get a sense of joy when I happen upon a new quest, because I know more discovery is on the way. I don’t know what it is yet, but I know it is coming.

It is the scale of what you find that really impresses me the most. From huge landmarks, that have various levels to them, which can take hours to work through, to the tiniest little shack that may contain something useful Every time you find one, you feel a little more joyful.

The single biggest new thing about Fallout 4, was the one thing that also concerned me the most. The base building stuff. Yet the more I play around with this, the more I fall in love with it. Again there is a lot of discovery here too. I only recently found I can add lights to power lines and light up my settlement at night.

I mean, this settlement in the middle of a wasteland, ruined because of nuclear war, looks beautiful now. I’d happily trade my current situation to set up home there!!!

The base building itself was as I said, something I wasn’t looking forward to. The idea of micro-managing a community, whilst all I wanted to do was wander just didn’t sound all that appealing. But once I got into it, it became bloody addictive.

I joked at the start that, this is the game Happy Home Designer should have beem and whilst it was an odd the cuff joke, it isn’t far removed from the truth. Namely because there is a lot more substance here in a single part of a much larger game, than there is in a game dedicated to doing such a thing.

I am taking great pleasure in removing all the scrap from around a settlement, scraping it and then using it to build up more and more to make parts of the wasteland a living breathing community. Creating new buildings, defenses, food and water resources and so much more.

It can be quite something going back to a place that you have built, knowing what it was previously and feeling a sense of pride at what you have created. I have spent hours upon hours building up Sanctuary, along with (now) some other settlements.

I was worried about the need to do this early on, but now I am deep into the game, I look forward to the next opportunity to add more to my settlements. Which brings me onto something else that is minor, but has really changed the way I loot.

In Fallout 3 for example, there was a crap ton of crap to loot, but much of it seemed pointless on the whole and keeping track of what you wanted or needed wasn’t always easy. Now though you can tag items from your base and when you happen across them on your travels, they will be marked with a spyglass icon, letting you know it is something important.

I find myself now just going on journeys and looting for scrap, just so I can return to a settlement to either use it right away to build, or store for later. It is all these little things that has added something great to an already amazing experience.

I looked at my time played stat and it is at just over 76 hours, yet I still have much of the mainline story to finish and a hell of a lot of side quests. I imagine I have spent at least half my time looting and building. Something I never imagined I would be doing at the start.

There is so much to discover in Fallout 4, that this would become a tiresome read to go through them all, the various companions you get for example, all have their pros and cons and to me at least feel like they are more than just along for the ride. So much so, my main companion from Fallout 3, spends his time back at my home base in Sanctuary.

I am talking about Dogmeat, who comes along for the ride very early and whilst he does help with attacking and defending enemies, I find it quite nice to come home and find him there ready to greet me.

Fallout 4 is my game of the year for 2015 and I know for a fact I won’t be finished this side of the New Year. I don’t want it to be, I love being in the world, I love discovering new things and all in all I just love this game.

Calling Time

I remember it well, how I found myself becoming a games critic, a reviewer, whatever you want to call it. As a member of rllmukforum, I saw another member mention on Twitter that he was playing a game, a game not yet released. I asked him how and he told me he wrote for Gamestyle.

I wanted a piece of that!!

The idea of writing about videogames isn’t something that had even entered my head. You see, I come from a creative background, I wanted to be a graphic designer and despite my training, it was something that, at the time wasn’t happening. I trained to be a print designer, but the web was the future.

At this time I was training myself to learn web design, whilst working in a call center, trying to make ends meet. I had a then 2 year old son and a partner out of work with severe medical conditions. Somehow surviving on £800 a month.

I have always loved games, but with that kind of monthly income, there was no way I could afford games, so the prospect of writing about games and getting the odd freebie sounded great. I had just bought a copy of DiRT 2 (I think I had gift cards or something to buy it) and was told to submit a review and if it was liked I may be able to do more.

I did that and my first review was published and I was part of the Gamestyle team. I did the odd review here and there, got the odd free game and all was good.

Then disaster struck for the site, a major hack, along with various members leaving meant the site was about to say goodbye to existence. So I made the decision to do what I could to save the place. There were some selfish reasons, I still wanted to play free games, but also I grew to love the site and felt that a long standing indie review site, with no advertising, no sponsorship and no pressure from publishers needed to be something that remained.

So I took on the role of handling the PR and running the site on a day to day basis. It was me and two other guys, just doing what we could to keep the ship barely afloat.

Between us, we added stability and all of a sudden we saw growth. I reached out for new writers many of whom would to the odd thing here and there, but couldn’t dedicate the time to offer more. Yet we had enough content to be able to get code from people and get more and more reviews written.

We owe a hell of a lot to Indie Developers, who provided most of our content, but also the likes of Activision, Ubisoft and at the time EA, who were happy to provide of with games such as FIFA, NHL, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, etc.

We added big name titles to our steady stream of Indie games and slowly but surely the site had risen from the grave. We took on more writers, some who stuck and some who didn’t, but we were still getting the content out.

Why am I telling you this? Well, by this time running Gamestyle became almost a full time job, as well as a huge passion project. I wanted to see it grow and become something else.

I am not a visionary by any stretch of the imagination, but it was clear to me, that video content was the future. Not in the sense of pure video reviews, but more like what you were seeing on GiantBomb, GameTrailers, IGN and the like. I wanted to get on that, maybe carve out a niche for Gamestyle to do similar things to those sites.

What I actually wanted was a career in gaming media, to be the UK equivalent to those sites. Along with Steve and Andrew, we started Gamestyle LIVE, a weekly show where we just chatted about games in a casual manner. But it worked, we got some good feedback and despite not having huge numbers, we were having fun.

This led to one of my highest moments for Gamestyle. We had Kyle Bosman on one of the episodes. The guy was and still is a bit of a hero of mine in this field and he agreed to join us for a one off episode, it was an amazing feeling.

Sadly, keeping up with weekly shows became more and more difficult and in the end we decided that none of us could offer the dedication as a group to maintain the schedule, so we put the show on the shelf. A sad time but, hey, it had to be done.

My plan was to somehow get the site making money, make it so I could run the site full time and pay the bills at the same time. We prided ourselves on not having ads or sponsorship, so that wasn’t an option.

Patreon or Kickstarter could be something we look at, allow me to get the right equipment, maybe a studio space and start to do professional output, again whilst being able to do this full time and pay the bills.

The problem was, I couldn’t just ask for the money, I didn’t feel the site was in the right place with the numbers to be able to ask fro donations or subscriptions. We weren’t putting out enough content yet. Also we weren’t names, I am not Jim Sterling, we didn’t have the pulling power of GiantBomb. Who would offer up payments for us. Truth be told, I was scared…

Why? Well as I have said in the past I suffer depression and the thought of taking a risk like that and being flat out rejected felt like it would be the end of me. I honestly don’t think I could have coped emotionally to a failed Kickstarter with ZERO support or a Pateon bringing in £0 a month.

So I struggled on, tried to do Quick Look videos, podcasts and more. All with varying degrees of success. Yet something stood out. I was the only one who was putting in the time needed to run the site.

That isn’t a complaint, far from it in fact. I couldn’t be more impressed by the support of Steve, Andrew, John, Adam, Gareth, Stacey, Jon and everyone else who chipped in. But they all had other commitments and there was no way they could do more than what they did. Hell without them the site wouldn’t exist.

We had a period where it looked like things may just take off for us. We were getting some amazing numbers, but unfortunately there was no way to sustain it. Maybe that was the time to do Kickstarter, maybe not. The fact is I didn’t try it and I will never know.

But it was after this, that I realized something had to give. My ‘actual’ job at the time was failing to pay me and I had barely any money coming in and debt was and still is piling up. Running the site to try and maintain numbers was taking more and more time and having a severe effect on me.

I was playing loads of games, but I found I wasn’t actually getting to enjoy them. Sure I could enjoy them from a critical point of view, but I wasn’t enjoying myself. It was the same with the Quick Looks and the Podcasts. I enjoyed doing them, but it was the editing and posting that took a toll.

But I love the site and I was doing what I could to keep content flowing and making sure the Gamestyle name could continue.

Still something wasn’t right in me. I wasn’t getting the enjoyment. I was happy enough to do Gamestyle without getting income from it, but when I was failing to get paid for my job at the same time, it just became harder and harder to cope with.

So about two months ago, the chance of paid work came about and I had a tough decision to make. Well the decision was actually easy, as I am a father and I have a family I love. Paid work had to become the priority, so Gamestyle had to become part time, I had no choice.

Emotionally it was hard, as I felt I would be letting down those who put their time and effort in. Not just those at present, but also those from the site’s past.

I have a major issue about myself. I honestly believe I have the reverse Midas touch, whereby everything I touch turns to failure. It may not be instant, but somehow because of me it will fail. That is the kind of person I am.

Gamestyle though, for some reason or another was a different story, it made me feel good. Especially when I took a chance and saved the site. But in doing so I felt like I was failing myself and my family. Sure I enjoyed doing what I did, but again the lack of income was taking its toll on my life around me.

So last month I had to decide…all or nothing.

I never wanted to do this, but I have to leave Gamestyle, I have no choice. If I put my all into it, financially I am screwed and my family suffer. If I do the odd bit for Gamestyle on the side, then the site suffers.

So it is with a heavy heart I need to call time on Gamestyle for myself and perhaps any thoughts I had of making it in the industry on the media side. My family comes first and they are the most important thing in the world to me.

I didn’t take the decision lightly, because I honestly believe with the right captain steering the ship, then Gamestyle could become bigger than what it is, but that captain isn’t me. I don’t have the talent, I am simply not good enough.

I don’t know what the future for the site is, but I know there will be someone out there who can keep it going and maybe even take it to the next level. That person isn’t me though. I have to prioritize and at the end of the day, head has to rule over heart.

I have written hundreds of reviews, many articles, recorded tons of videos and podcast and all in all had an amazing time. I have met wonderful people, many whom I can now call friends. I have done things that even a short year ago I never felt I could and Gamestyle was a major part in fighting my depression.

I won’t lie, I do have tears as I write this. Because after nearly seven years, it is hard not to think I am losing something important in my life. My family even know what it means to me, as my partner tried to think of ways we could still make it work.

I am seeing the year out, because I think I owe the site that much, but I will start 2016 without Gamestyle in my life.

Everyone who has been involved at any point, I thank you. I wish I could go on, but I simply cannot. I wish everyone who is still involved all the luck in the world moving forward and maybe, someday out paths will cross again.

Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void Review

Since getting a decent PC, I have tried to get into a much wider range of game genres. Many I have loved, others not so much. In years past I have looked upon Blizzard’s output with a mix of envy and relief.

I understood they were, in general, great games, but I had heard about the way they will take over your life. One of those is World of Warcraft, of which I am yet to peer into the rabbit hole. The other is Starcraft, a game that has scared me, one that to me felt impenetrable. However I was given the opportunity to review the Legacy of the Void standalone expansion, so what the hell.

As a disclaimer, this isn’t going to be an in depth review, fans of the series aren’t going to come here and get the best opinion. This is more a look from the outside, from a complete beginner, not only to the series, but still to the genre.

One thing that jumped out to me, was that Blizzard no how to do story, even if the writing is pretty bad on the whole. The cut-scenes and character interaction in said cut-scenes are played brilliantly and I was immediately sucked into the world.

Truth be told, I was taken aback by the single player content, as I always assumed that Starcraft was purely an online competitive game for the ultra dedicated (more on that later), but I was wrong and the single player is deep and plentiful.

Whilst the game does a good job of introducing you to the mechanics, it is clear that this is something that has been produced for fans of the recent series and those with a knowledge of the genre. Now that isn’t to say I was hit by an impenetrable shield, that would stop me playing in my tracks, but it did require me to stop and start a lot and look things up externally as I tried to get a grip on things.

This is far from a casual game, but once you get your head around the basic mechanic, you can start to play and complete missions. Sure you won’t be beasting anything or getting the top rewards, but it is surprisingly simple when you break it down.

The trick of course, is to take those basic mechanics and manipulate them in your favour to get the best out of any situation and that is where I really came unstuck. You can perform basic actions after a short introduction, but as soon as the complexity of tasks increases, you can find yourself feeling like a 2 year old tasked with understanding quantum fusion as the last hope to save the world.

I honestly felt lost, even very early on. The missions I did complete I literally staggered through, hoping for the best. Legacy of the Void isn’t kind to people like me, but nor should it be. I am sure there are games out there that act like baby’s first RTS, but this shouldn’t be one and nor is it.

I wanted to give the game a fair chance though and I did spend many hours persevering, trying to learn and improve, because any frustrations and faults were laid firmly and my feet. And guess what? When I went back to the start, I was then able to think a bit differently, try new solutions and improve on earlier results.


I actually got some enjoyment from knowing that I wasn’t just failing constantly for no reason and I was actually learning, albeit at a slow rate. I will go back even after this review and play some more, because I can see the hook and I can see why this is such a beloved franchise and I would love to get more from it.

Yet the single player isn’t what makes Starcraft one of the biggest E-Sports in the world,where prize money is at staggering levels. Where players can turn pro and earn a living from it. That is down to the online stuff.

So what the hell, I decided to jump in and see what it was all about…

Yeah! That didn’t last long. Before I even knew what I was doing, I had lost. I would try again and I would lose again. Again and again.

This is not a world for me, this is something for a very special breed. This was like the lovely 70 year old lady in the library, who loves her stories, deciding to make a run at the NHL. It just isn’t going to happen.

There is no way, that I, in my mid-thirties can even think of becoming competitive in this world. It is too late for me. I have other responsibilities and cannot dedicate the time needed to even think of winning games.

So that became a short lived experience. But thanks to Blizzard’s care and attention to making sure there is a solid single player option, I will still get a lot of enjoyment from this game and I may even go back through the series and pick up some of the earlier stuff.

It isn’t love at first sight, but I think myself and Starcraft could become good acquaintances over time!

Transformers Devastation Review

Oh Transformers, what a checkered history we have. When I was a child I loved you, the cartoon, the toys, anything I could get my hands on. Then later in life you were sullied by Micheal Bay. A man who just cannot make a film that has a decent story and is just full of explosions and set pieces. He ruined your name for me. That wasn’t helped too, by a series of poor to average videogame tie ins.

Anyway, when news came that Platinum were to make a Transformers game, I wanted to dare to dream, dream that a top quality Transformers game could be made. But I have been burnt before so my expectations were a little tempered, despite it being Platinum who have a fantastic track record.

My fears were totally misplaced though, as Transformers Devastation is an absolute joy to behold. It takes the Transformers universe, using the Generations line, which covers various different eras of the franchise. The visuals are based on the original cartoons, with writing from those behind the comics.

That all blends wonderfully with the traditional Platinum gameplay that makes the likes of Bayonetta and Vanquish such wonderful games. Platinum even showed they can work with existing IP, when they did Legend of Korra, which despite getting a luke warm reception was still great fun to play.

For me, what makes Transformers Devastation work, is that there is no attempts to re-write the genre, both in terms of gameplay and the source material. Platinum have been incredibly respectful of the history of the franchise and built a game around that, rather than trying to shoehorn elements that could work against each other.

The influence from other Platinum titles is clear to see, with the main one being the use of Witch-Time from Bayonetta, where a well timed dodge will slow down time and allow you unleash hell on your foes. However this is a Transformers games, so it does need some characteristics of its own and boy do Platinum put this to good use.

As any self respecting kid from the 80s will know, Transformers are robots in disguise and this is well represented in combat. When in robot form, you can go at your enemy in traditional Platinum combat ways, yet you can also change to vehicle form and use that to attack too, adding a whole new level to the combat mechanics.

Being a Platinum game, means that the combat is actually very simple and allows you to string together combos and fight multiple enemies like a boss. You even get to use various weapons which can be integrated in the hand to hand combat, or used for taking down enemies specifically designed and placed to make use of you weapons.

The are less options in combat when compared to something like Bayonetta, which initially feels a little disappointing, but after a short time with the game, you find it works as you start to master the various attacks and combos and use those to your advantage. If anything having a smaller move set works well here.

I was worried that the game might overplay the transforming, just so it could show of what the Autobots can do, but I actually found the that balance was done just right. There are some enemies that require you to switch between forms, but they are strategically placed and not overdone. Everywhere else it it purely optional.

It could have been very tempting to make Devastation an overly easy IP cash-in, where you go through the motions and have the game look pretty, but the balance in difficulty is well implemented and the difficulty curve is well balanced from the opening level to the final battle.

You get the options to use all the various Autobots to fight and each one feel different to use and you’ll soon find your overall favourite. Again I was worried it may be just reskins over the the same move-sets, but this is far from the case. Optimus Prime will feel completely different to Bumblebee for example.

It’s not all sunshine and roses though. There are some issues, such as some uninspiring level design, that can feel a bit limited from time to time, as well as the game being super short. The main story can be completed in 5-6 hours and whilst extra plays are encouraged it isn’t one that demands your attention.

That being said though, the overall package is decent and Platinum have made a solid Platinum game, yet they have made a truly fantastic Transformers game and I look forward to seeing if they can follow this up with a sequel in the future.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Review

It’s hard to imagine that Lara Croft has been part of my life for just about 20 years now. I remember her debut in 1996 and as a 15 year old boy, I was blown away by what I was seeing on screen and the talk in the playgrounds about this new character and her wonderful game.

I even remember the chatter about the various cheats that were possible, especially ones that could make Lara naked in the game. Due to having no internet or anything like that and being rather naive, I am not ashamed to admit that I tried the cheats I heard and even made some up myself for some playground cred.

The years however haven’t been kind on Lara, with the games gradually getting worse and even becoming a bit of a joke, yet Lara herself remained and still remains one of the greatest icons ever to emerge from videogames. Up there with the likes of Mario, she is one the few characters that even non gaming fans could name instantly.

The Tomb Raider reboot in 2013, which was technically the second official reboot, did a lot to restore the faith in a Tomb Raider game and despite some questionable claims by Crystal Dynamics around the characterization of Lara, especially how she would handle killing, the game on the whole was a real return to form and probably the best game overall in the franchise. I’ll touch on the characterization further into this review.

There were other issues in the 2013 release that felt off, such as the lack of actual tombs to raid, which is one of the first things that has been fixed in Rise of the Tomb Raider. There are still the big set-pieces, the stalking, stealth and murder, but those have been dialed back a fraction to allow for more exploration and basic puzzle solving, bring Lara back to what she was born to do…explore and discover.

Rather than trying to match the darling of the last few years in the Uncharted series, Crystal Dynamics have made the right decision to go back to the roots of Tomb Raider and the game feels all the better for it. Because, whilst there is a constant threat from the enemy, you feel like you have the time to explore what is around and discover new things.

There is a lot to discover too, with artifacts, scrolls and much, much more spread very generously across the various maps which Lara gets to play in. Now whilst I am not usually a fan of collectibles, usually because they are hidden so much, I can never be bother to look, here most you can come across with ease and the fun is working out how to get to them, but very rarely having to ignore your current path. It makes you want to check them out.

Rise of the Tomb Raider still contains one of my biggest pet hates in many modern AAA games. The need to add RPG elements to the progression. Doing certain things in the game, finding new areas, learning by discovery, etc will all earn Lara XP which she can use to level up her base skills. Now I get why this is a thing in some games, but for me it is not needed in a Tomb Raider, it just feels out of place. Lara should be Lara and that is that.

Now this is different to the upgrading of tools and weapons, which I actually do like, but the notion that Lara can become better skilled in a short space of time or learn whole new languages from looking at a few paintings, nah that isn’t for me. I don’t like it in Assassin’s Creed games and the like and I think it fits even worse here.

I can understand though why this has been done, as Rise of the Tomb Raider shares a lot in common with a Metroidvania, where you can see ways to access new areas, but won’t have the right tools and skills to get there until later. I like that, because I love Metroidvania games, but it is something that would have worked just as well by finding and upgrading tools, rather than learning new skills via XP.

The raiding of tomb are pretty much optional, but rather cleverly by going off mission and completing them, you will get very handsomely rewarded and will earn some rather nifty new kit to help you along the way, especially when trying to access the aforementioned cut off areas.

Each tomb will take anywhere between 15-45 minutes to complete and there are a good number of them dotted around. It allows the devs to strike a nice balance between keeping the story moving forward and going back to the franchise’s roots.

Lara, new modern Lara, is the best version of Lara yet. In the original games, despite the aim being to have a strong female lead role-model type character, she became anything but. She was more sex symbol than she was strong lead and looking back, it was almost embarrassing how much sexuality was used to push Lara to young adolescent males. It worked and it worked very well, so you cannot blame anyone for that, especially in the era it was.

But we are in a different world and whilst 2013 Lara looked the part and felt more like a real adventurer who dressed properly for he role, rather than trying to be sexy, her characterization was simply off. She was built up to have real emotions, that she was a survivor and would struggle with the need to kill to survive. It all sounded very promising, maybe giving you some moral choices to make along the way.

Yet the only time this happened was during her first kill, which was pretty much done via a cut-scene. Then it was off on a murdering spree without a care in the world. It was a noble aim, but the build up to the release and with this being a big selling point, it was very disappointing in the end.

Lara can still be a killing machine throughout Rise of the Tomb Raider, but this time there isn’t any claims of Lara having to toy with her own emotions about it, or any such nonsense and instead the writers have focused on other aspects of Lara and a much more interesting overall story arc.

One that not only pushes the story along at a solid pace, but introduces some nice back story about Lara and her relationships from childhood with her father. I would have been happy to have seen more of this with it being expanded on at some point. However, it does seem lessons were learned from the last game and this feels much better for it.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is, for me at least one of the surprises of the years. I was expecting a solid game, one that just gave me more of the same as a follow up to the 2013 release. Yet what we got was a game that improved on the good and cleared away much of the bad, to produce a title that deserves its place among the best Lara Croft games over the previous 20 years.

Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 6th November 2015

Brad and John take a look at and review the charts and releases for week ending 6th November (Friday).

 Listen on Soundcloud

As usual we start with a quick look at the charts.

Then it is a very look back at recent releases, including Fallout 4, Call of Duty Black Ops III, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Binding of Isaac Afterbirth, Superbeat Xonic and Dovetail Games’ Euro Fishing.

We think Brad may like Fallout 4 by the way!

Then it is a look ahead to Starwars Battlefront, Sword Art Online, Rodea The Sky Soldier and Barbie and her Sisters: Puppy Rescue.

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

This Week’s Top 10

2 FIFA 16
7 WWE 2K16

Details below on how else to catch this week’s show.

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes

Like listening to Gamestyle Live? Then subscribe on iTunes to get us every week straight to your listening devices, by clicking the logo on the left.

Reviews and Ratings

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Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 6th November 2015

Brad and John take a look at and review the charts and releases for week ending 6th November (Friday).

 Listen on Soundcloud

It is a quick look at the charts which have had a bit of a mix up thanks to some of the new releases

Then it is a very look back at recent releases, including Halo 5: Guardians, Guitar Hero Live, WWE 2K16, Need For Speed, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and more.

Then it is a look ahead to Persona 4: Dancing All Night, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Star Wars Battlefront and a little game by the name of Fallout 4.

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

This Week’s Top 10

3 FIFA 16
4 WWE 2K16

Details below on how else to catch this week’s show.

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes

Like listening to Gamestyle Live? Then subscribe on iTunes to get us every week straight to your listening devices, by clicking the logo on the left.

Reviews and Ratings

We hope you are enjoying Gamestyle Live so it would be wonderful if you could help us by leaving an iTunes review and rating as this really helps to promote the show to new listeners.

Gamestyle Social Links

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review

Are we at a point with the Assassin’s Creed series where fatigue has well and truly set in? Well after the mess that was Assassin’s Creed Unity, it seemed that way. Being a yearly franchise just doesn’t feel like the right thing, as bugs were rife in the last game and it was an absolute average affair, even if you discount those bugs.

So it was with some trepadation that I started Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Sure, it had new characters and a different setting, but it is still an Assassin’s Creed game and if I am being honest, I really wasn’t excited for the release.

Yet here I am writing a review for what I consider the best of the series to date, I’d like to sat that this is because this Assassin’s Creed feels different, that is has new mechanics that set it apart from all the other titles. However that isn’t the case.

Mechanically this is as Assassin’s Creed as you can get, to the point you can pick it up and if you have played any of the previous games, you will feel very much at home. Much like most Ubisoft titles, you have a well realised open-world that comprises of main story missions and a ton of side quests and discoveries to keep you occupied.

Combat is nicely done, mixing up close quarters combat and stealth assassinations. At the same time though, the options you have to approach each mission feel a lot more open, allowing you to go in and choose your own approach. Take things as carefully and stealthily as you want, or approach the situation head-on. Both ways have their pros and cons but they both work well if that is your decision.

One thing that does stand out is the AI feels a lot better this time around, far from perfect, but a definite improvement. You do need to be on your toes at all times and slip-ups can be costly.

I’ll come back to combat soon, but I must mention the real reason this is the best in the series to date. That comes down to the characters, especially the two leads, Evie and Jacob Frye. The twins are superbly written and wonderfully acted. The thing that stands out the most is Evie herself and the way she is portrayed.

Games have had a long history of misrepresenting women and their place in the medium and is something that has been discussed at length in various places and something I don’t wish to dwell on for too long. Yet a lot of credit deserves to go Ubisoft’s way, especially after the criticism they rightfully got for Unity.

Just looking at Evie, you can tell from the outset she has been given equal status to her brother. There is nothing sexual about her appearance, she is dressed in a way that is practical to her profession, rather than for titillation, she is also treated with respect by her peers, rather than being used as a plot point to make others seem more powerful.

The interactions between herself and Jacob are well handled and treated like they are any other brother and sister, often at each other’s throats, but with that overall respect and love for each other. Jacob is a lot more cock-sure and is always looking for a more in your face approach to things, whereas Evie is a lot more careful and has a different set of skills.

Yet this isn’t a case of Evie being pushed to the side and only being able to the the less hands on stuff, as she can fight and fight as well as anyone. It never feels like you are playing a role that is specific to a women and it just happens to be a women who is part of the game.

It’s not just in the main characters where respect is given, there are gay characters, obese characters, trans-gender characters and more. Many of which are vital to the game’s story. Yet attention isn’t ever drawn to those characters for those things. They are just characters in a story and they are really well written too.

I never though I would be championing an Assassin’s Creed game for taking a mature approach to how a game handles people of many different walks of life, that doesn’t try to pigeon-hole anyone and simply treats them as human, but here we are.

Such is it the case that Ubisoft has listened to critics, is the loss of the merging with prostitutes to evade capture, which considering this is 1880’s London feel a little bizarre, as if my history knowledge is correct, then this is the one game where their inclusion could make sense.

London is beautiful too. Well it is dark and grimy but there is no denying that the artists at Ubisoft have done a great job in fleshing out London of the 1800’s and making it just feel alive. Whilst it isn’t a perfect one to one vision of London, the recognizable areas feel like they are just that.

It feels wonderful at times just taking it all in, climbing buildings and looking at London from the rooftops and that moment when you reach the top of Big Ben is just magical and one of those awe inspiring moments that you may have had at the start of Fallout 3, or when crossing into Mexico in Red Dead Redemption.

There are still bugs, but they honestly feel like they are less apparent than they were in Unity and in my time with the game, there were none that were game-breaking, but obviously your mileage may vary. So I won’t claim this is a completely bug-free experience.

Overall though, after the disaster that was Assassin’s Creed Unity, this is a true return to form for the series and for me Syndicate stands alone as the best of the lot to date.

Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 23rd October 2015

Brad and John take a look at and review the charts and releases for week ending 23rd October (Friday).

 Listen on Soundcloud

It is a quick look at the charts which despite a break for a week doesn’t seem to have changed all that much.

Then it is a very look back at recent releases, including Transformers Devastation, Wasteland 2, The Talos Principle, Downwell, the amazing Rebel Galaxy, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and a lot more.

Then it is a look ahead to Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Halo 5, Guitar Hero Live and Legend of Zelda: Tri-Force…well, not exactly, we end up chatting about the Co-Op.

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

This Week’s Top 10

1 FIFA 16

Details below on how else to catch this week’s show.

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes

Like listening to Gamestyle Live? Then subscribe on iTunes to get us every week straight to your listening devices, by clicking the logo on the left.

Reviews and Ratings

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Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below Review

Oh how I am jealous for WiiU owners having had to part with my console. I loved playing Hyrule Warriors and despite having access to the likes of Dynasty Warrors on next gen consoles and the VIta nothing quite felt the same.

Yet here I am with Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below a game as far removed from what I understood a Dragon Quest game to be, as I can imagine. From the very first moment I picked up the Dragon Quest Heroes it felt familiar, more than it should have.

I will admit it is a game I paid little attention to once I heard of its reveal, not through ignorance, but just I knew I wanted to play a Dragon Quest game and was happy to avoid all media coverage and see what fell on my lap come release day.

Because it felt so similar to Hyrule Warrior and Dynasty Warriors I had to dig a little after my first moments with the game. Lo and behold, the reason I felt like I knew this game, was because the team working on it was Omega Force.

Y’know, the guys who developed Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, Toukiden, Warriors Orochi and much more. This was one of theirs, using another new setting and basically a new skin. Want to know something? I couldn’t be happier.

The various ‘Warriors’ games are wonderful to pick up and waste time on, just destroying endless waves of enemies and feeling like a general badass. The very moment you pick up a controller, whether you have experience of Omega Force games or not, you just know what to do. You hack & slash your way through arenas with a huge grin on your face just enjoying what is happening on the screen before you.

With Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, this is no different and whilst there is a story to follow, you can easily ignore it, enter a level and murder everything that dare stand in your way.

Personally I’d like to say there is more to it than that. That there is a bit more depth and sophistication when you scratch below the surface, but the truth it, there simply isn’t and that is a good thing. As not every game needs to have this deep meaningful reason to exist. Sometimes you just want to enjoy a spectacle, pick something up and play it. This is one such game.

Of course there are the opportunities to level up your characters and make them better, but that is all fairly streamlined as the game pretty much just urges you to get into the action. But there are a few things that make it feel different to Omega Force’s usual affair.

Because it is based on the Dragon Quest series, it feels like there is much more emphasis on telling a story and giving substance to the characters. This is something I felt would hamper the game a little, but in actual fact it has made me want to try some of the mainline Dragon Quest games.

The presentation too seems to be up there with Hyrule Warriors, which felt like it finally showed Omega Force could actually add polish to their overall experience. Looking through videos and stills of other Dragon Quest games, there is no doubt whatsoever that this is part of that world.

Compared to other games from Omega Force there is a lack of extras, with the game focusing on the story driven campaign and being aimed more at the single player, rather than a co-op experience. This is pretty disappointing to start with, but the longer you play, there less you miss that option. Yet it wouild have been nice to have.

The one thing I did feel though, is unlike Hyrule Warriors, there is no need to go back and play it over and over, once the campaign is finished that really does feel like that is it. Whereas Hyrule Warriors felt wonderful repeating mission and using different characters, this just didn’t have that and is honestly a one and done game for me.

That isn’t to say that one isn’t a wonderful experience, because it truly is and having finished I am already looking forward to some kind of sequel, hopefully to include more of the options that make and Omega Force game the wonderful entities they are.

Blood Bowl II Review

I love sport, well not all sports, but a fair few, I love videogames, I love sports videogames. However, I am bored of just seeing the usual simulation only type games and what feels like the death of arcade sports and developers willing to try something different.

So this is where something like Blood Bowl steps in. It takes its cues from various different worlds, worlds that technically should never be able to mix. The world of sports, the world of fantasy and the world of table top gaming all mixed up to produce something that really works.

I will admit, I hadn’t really paid much attention to Blood Bowl before, yet I was aware of it, so before jumping in to Blood Bowl II it felt right to have a look at the original PC release so I could see what the sequel has improved on, or not in some cases.

The first thing that really stands out is the presentation. Because it has no real world base to follow Blood Bowl II can really push the boat out and at times parody real world sports expertly. The two presenters / commentators are an absolute joy to listen to as they really put their own take on the play by play and colour commentator roles you’ll find in most sports.

It’s not just the voice acting that works here, it is the depth of the script, where seemingly the developers have created a full blown history of the made up sports so previous events can be called upon when building up the coming matches and events.

The single player mode works well to and has a well rounded story to it that is pure sports fantasy, with an owner needing to rip a team apart and rebuild then from scratch, with you being the man to take them all the way. It’s not Any Given Sunday, but it certainly entertains throughout.

Aside from the presentation the mechanics, whilst initially looking as complicated as anything are actually really simple. The opening gambit does a great job of setting the scene and teaching new players the game. It breaks down the basics of gameplay and introduces the strategies at their core and by the time you take on the next game unaided you feel like you have the basics down and are ready.

Of course, try and play online, or against a better AI you soon realise how unprepared you are tactically, but still you have a solid base of which to begin your Blood Bowl career.

Each team has their own style of play, which utilizes different players types and will really affect how the game is played each time. Yet it’s not just the different styles that work, each team also has a genuine personality and players you grow to love or hate.

For those who have no clue about Blood Bowl, the easiest way to explain the game is that it is a modified version of American Football, set in a fantasy world, using turn-based table-top mechanics.

I really cannot stress enough how quickly you go from completely confused to getting a solid grasp of the the game. Literally within the space of a tutorial and a second game, yet it will take many, many hours to fully understand the depth Blood Bowl has to offer. Which from a personal point of view, I really like, as it means there is a reason to keep playing, as you continue to learn.

This version of Blood Bowl has been released on both PC and consoles and again my personal preference is that it has made it easier to control and play compared to the original, thanks to the need to use a controller to make it work on the consoles. This has simplified some things, which I suppose many may dislike, but for me it makes it much more accessible.

Outside of the main campaign the options are pretty limited, allowing you to play a standalone league season, or play friendly matches locally or online. A nice touch though it the Cabel TV mode, which allows you to view full replays of your matches, or saved community replays.

Yet there is one part that stands above, the ability to watch live games! Yep, you can choose to search for and watch live games as they are happening, jumping in at any moment to view the action. The presenters will introduce you to the game as you enter and then you can sit back and watch.

This is something I have wanted to see in sports games for years now. That ability to jump in and spectate. When we are in a world where communities have setup leagues for FIFA, NHL, Madden, NBA, etc this sort of thing allows the community events to be run at a much higher level.

Imagine being able to scout your next opponent by watching their current game, to get an idea of how to set your tactics against them, or watch the final of a cup competition, all without the need of relying on Twitch or YouTube.

As I type this review, I am watching a random game from an online Blood Bowl II matchup and am enjoying myself immensely. So far it is this and Rocket League that have nailed this idea and is putting down the foundations for this to become the norm over the next few years.

With Blood Bowl II, this has another use, as it allows new players to watch how others play and again get a solid grasp of certain mechanics to take back to their games. A wonderful addition and one that deserves immense amounts of praise.

The main issue with Blood Bowl II is who it can really appeal to. If you hate the idea of sports games, then this really isn’t going to be for you, same if you are not a fan of turn-based gameplay or even the world it is based in.

But for those who have even a passing interest in any of those, then this is something you must at least check out, because what it does, it does fantastically well.

Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 9th October 2015

Brad and John take a look at and review the charts and releases for week ending 9th October (Friday).

 Listen on Soundcloud

It is a quick look at the charts with a quicker than usual rundown and a short chat about Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer and a lot less football talk.

We apologise for a short show this week, as Brad was feeling rough, but we still find time to talk about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, Skyhill and Super Meat Boy.

Then it is the usual look ahead to Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, Jackbox Party Pack 2, WRC5, Sublevel Zero and Minecraft Story Mode

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

This Week’s Top 10

1 FIFA 16
3 NBA 2K16

Details below on how else to catch this week’s show.

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes

Like listening to Gamestyle Live? Then subscribe on iTunes to get us every week straight to your listening devices, by clicking the logo on the left.

Reviews and Ratings

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Gamestyle Social Links

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GS Quick Look: The Escapists’ The Walking Dead

Rick has gone cray cray, Daryl is the best character, Carl is annoying and did we mention Rick has gone cray cray? It’s time for some more The Walking Dead…This time from the team behind The Escapists


Brad and John take a look at The Escapists’ The Walking Dead a standalone expansion to the original prison break adventure, with added zombies?

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GS Quick Look: Pro Evolution Soccer 2016

Football, kick the football, shoot the football, pass the football, FOOTBALL. It’s that time of the year when sports take over and it is time to look at the better of the two football entries this year, Pro Evolution Soccer 2016.


Brad and John take a look at PES2016, a game about getting balls into a goal, but without any cars in sight…this is some kind of madness, humans instead of cars?

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Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume 1 Review

Everyone has their own personal bars for their best and worst games. My own personal worst game of all time was (and note the ‘was’) Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. A game that for me played like the developers had never actually played any of the original games.

Anyway, that has dropped a spot to my second worst game, after being replaced by the awful, nay, beyond awful Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume 1. A game so bad, I am surprised it even found its way into the wild.

I have played bad games before and usually if they are bad you can get some sense of what the developer was aiming for, you can tell they just couldn’t get it to work as intended and it will have one or two redeeming features.

That is just not the case for Afro Samurai 2, the sequel to the pretty decent if average Afro Samurai released in 2009. So I was pretty interested in playing a follow up. But within a few seconds, I could tell this was going to be bad.

Menus, UI, designs, everything before even the game started appeared second rate at best, as though design wasn’t even thought about and the work experience kid had been asked to cobble something together for homework. So bad that same kid wouldn’t even submit it for his GCSE Graphic Design coursework.

It’s not just the design of the UI that is horrible, they are even broken in a way that just shouldn’t happen in this day and age. Level selecting is a meta-game in itself as getting to the choice you want is a ballache of moving around a poorly designed map.

Then the game starts and it is as ugly as sin. Even if we were in the early 2000’s and playing on a PS2 it would still look ugly. Somehow, it looks worse than the original, which wasn’t pretty to begin with.

The gameplay itself is the worst part though, basic controls are awkward, the fight systems fail to work and despite trying to be influenced by the Arkham series fight mechanics, there is no smoothness to combat at all. There are meant to be combo moves, reversals, different styles and more, but it just feels disjointed.

The different fight styles are a requirement to beat certain characters, but aside from pressing a button to change them, there really feels like there is no connection and no need for this. It is so pointless and the differences so non-existent you can forget that you need to change styles.

The poor combat and movement in itself wouldn’t be so bad (well actually it would) if there was some flow to the game. But again there it falls flat on its face. It has more cut-scenes than all of Hideo Kojima’s games put together.

Yet those cut-scenes make little to no sense, you have a quick battle, move on, look like you are ready for another confrontation and bang! It is a cut-scene that plays out for you. It breaks up the game far too much and if anything tells me that the developers knew they had a bad product on their hands and wanted to be sure players weren’t subjected to too much of it.

Even then, the cut-scenes don’t feel natural and are even broken in places. I had one moment where the dialogue for a cut-scene started playing whilst I was still playing the game a good 30 seconds before the scene loaded.

That is just the tip of the broken iceberg, getting caught on scenery, NPCs not performing as they should, boss battles that just fail to work properly. Music is awful and voice acting is quite possibly the worst I have heard in many years.

Again the things that are broken and half-hearted in this game wouldn’t have been acceptable in a Net Yaroze demo on a Playstation Magazine cover-disk. There has been some awful stuff on Steam’s Greenlight that shouldn’t be allowed on Steam, but then this is released broken and feeling barely 10% into development.

Yet the developers are wanting people to part with £10.99 to play this absolute piece of crap. This for me is close to fraud, a game that had been sent out to be sold by crooks. The worst part is that it is part of a trilogy, that can be bought as a bundle. They want you, the consumer, to buy this and the extra volumes knowing how bad this game is.

I am not having it any other way, than they know just how bad Afro Samurai 2 is and are trying to cheat people out of their money, because at no point does any self respecting developer put crap like this on a marketplace and be proud of what they released.

As I said earlier, I can accept bad games, because at the end of the day bad means different things to different people. I also accept there are some chancers out there who will do asset flips and the like to make a quick buck via the Greenlight service, but when it is a known franchise like this, it is beyond criminal.

Luckily the public have voted with their wallets. Looking at Steam stats, there has been a peak total of just 18 people playing this and I can only hope that those who did part with their hard-earned have used the Steam refund policy to get back their money.

Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 2nd October 2015

Brad and John take a look at and review the charts and releases for week ending 2nd October (Friday).

 Listen on Soundcloud

It is a quick look at the charts with a comparison of FIFA and PES (we promise to dispense of the football talk next week) as well as another Konami rant.

It was a bumper week of releases covering LEGO Dimensions, NBA 2K16, Jotun, 80 Days, Albino Lullaby, Concrete Jungle, the worst game in years – Afro Samurai 2, The Escapists: The Walking Dead, Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!! and Franchise Hockey Manager 2

Looking ahead we have Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, Rock Band 4, Skyhill and Transformers Devastation

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

This Week’s Top 10

1 FIFA 16

Details below on how else to catch this week’s show.

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes

Like listening to Gamestyle Live? Then subscribe on iTunes to get us every week straight to your listening devices, by clicking the logo on the left.

Reviews and Ratings

We hope you are enjoying Gamestyle Live so it would be wonderful if you could help us by leaving an iTunes review and rating as this really helps to promote the show to new listeners.

Gamestyle Social Links

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GS Blind Look: Concrete Jungle

It’s another genre getting mixed with Card Collecting Games, this time it is the turn of the City Builder as Brad and Iain take a look at Concrete Jungle.


Brad is joined by Iain for a blind look of Concrete Jungle a city building, CCG mixed with puzzle mechanics.

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GS Blind Look: Skyshine’s Bedlam

Initially taken in by its Borderlands styled visuals, does Skyshine’s Bedlam have enough to make it standout as its own thing? A mix of RPG, Turn-based battles, Roguelike progression and more should do just that.


Brad is joined by Iain for a blind look of Skyshine’s Bedlam, the Turn-based, Roguelike, RPG from Skyshine Games and Versus Evil.

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Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 25th September 2015

Brad and John take a look at and review the charts and releases for week ending 25th September (Friday).

 Listen on Soundcloud

It is a quick look at the charts and including a long dissection of Pro Evolution Soccer 2015, which spills over into further discussion of how badly Konami is treating its customers.

Then a few reviews of SOMA, Blood Bowl 2, Cards & Castles, FIFA 16 and Death Ray Manta.

Finally it is a quick look ahead to NBA 2K16, 80 Days, Jotun and LEGO Dimensions.

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

This Week’s Top 10


Details below on how else to catch this week’s show.

Listen and Subscribe on iTunes

Like listening to Gamestyle Live? Then subscribe on iTunes to get us every week straight to your listening devices, by clicking the logo on the left.

Reviews and Ratings

We hope you are enjoying Gamestyle Live so it would be wonderful if you could help us by leaving an iTunes review and rating as this really helps to promote the show to new listeners.

Gamestyle Social Links

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GS Blind Look: Cards & Castles

What would happen if you took the core mechanics of Hearthstone, added a splash of Castle Crashers’ art style and gave the gameplay a different slant? Well you’d get Cards & Castles of course.


Brad is joined by Iain for a blind look of Cards & Castles from developers Bit Mass LLC. A CCG with influences from all over to create a very interesting experience.

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Destiny: The Taken King Review

I have quite a checkered history with Destiny. It reviewed well on this site but it was made clear that it was only a starting point for something much longer term. I wasn’t the one who made that review though, for me, my experience of Destiny is one of frustration and a feeling of being left behind.

You see, I am not the sort who can stick with the same game for a massive period of time, I tend to bounce between games and despite finishing a fair few larger titles, it is those like Destiny, where it is better played with others that tend to suffer.

Literally within a few weeks of launch I felt I wasn’t leveling my character up quick enough to get the most from the game. I tried some strike missions, yet felt I was a hindrance to other players. I tried co-op play in missions but again felt I was just playing a spare part, not really doing much to help.

So pretty soon it became something I dipped into now and again for an hour here or there, to the point where I eventually let the game fall into my ever growing backlog. I had dropped £80 on the game and season pass initially, but even the new packs for the first year weren’t enough to get me back.

Now I am not saying it was a bad game, in actual fact I really loved the gameplay, the battles were satisfying and the loot pickups were like a drug addiction, but without anyone to play with it got to a point where I was needing to grind to be able to even attempt new story missions.

So when The Taken King was announced I was skeptical at first, as I was worried it would be a case of more content for those who put the effort in and those alone, there would be no point shelling out another £30-40 to feel like I am being left further behind.

However when the details of the year two content became apparent, my attitude quickly changed and all of a sudden I was ready to jump back in and finally become legend.

The first thing that stood out, was the ability to level up any single one of my characters to level 25, just so I would gain access to The Taken King right out of the box. This was wonderful news and whilst to some it may be seen as cheating, it meant I could get back into the game, go through the missions I missed out on and then even get into the new content at a much better balanced level.

So that is what I did. It meant I was a bit over-powered for a fair few missions, but it also allowed me to get a feel for the game again, get to grips with the mechanics and so forth.

I also seemed to be able to level up my character at a much more steady rate, that felt like it was allowing me to be ready for new missions as soon as I had finished the previous one, without the need to spend a large amount of time just grinding. This is a very welcome addition as it let me enjoy the core of the game.

Light too is better implemented, now becoming an overall value based on your gear, rather than item specific. It is only a minor change, but one that feels ultimately more rewarding as it taps into that thing gamers have, where we love watching numbers go up.

Loot is another thing that has had a bit of a makeover. In the original release of Destiny, loot was done in a way that meant it was only worth pursuing specific missions and doing certain events, to get the gear that was actually worthwhile. Now though, it feels a lot fairer as almost every mission has had something that feels useful. Again it is a minor balancing change that has a huge effect on the overall feel.

Quests have had a bit of an overhaul where it now seems like you can track more of them at any one time, plus the story from The Taken King also fits in with these in a much more coherent way. In fact it makes very useful guides on what to do and where to go. The change may only be minor, but I cannot recall for sure, but I know I am using them a lot more this time though.

Missions and story levels from The Taken King have a lot more character to them now, as the story writing feels like it matters much more than it did previously and that there has been a lot of work gone into this to make it stand out from the year one stuff.

Whilst there is still an element of enter here, go there, scan this, defend that to some level, it doesn’t feel as mundane and repetitive as it did in year one. In fact there is more variety in the new levels than there was in the original release and the expansions.

A lot of that comes down to the additional character that has been added across several layers of the game.

Nathan Fillion makes an appearance as the Hunter Cayde-6 and in my humble opinion steals the show, making even Nolan North’s replacement of Peter Dinklage nothing but a footnote. Fillion’s performance here show Bungie’s desire to make Destiny grow from this point forward, as previously the class leaders were nothing but avatars for collecting new missions, lacking any real kind of character.

Now though they feel alive and a vital part of whatever will happen moving forward. Despite Nathan Fillion being the standout here, the other performances are also well done and add to the overall growth of the Destiny universe.

The Taken King is to Destiny, what Reaper of Souls was to Diablo III. It is developers making note of feedback and actually using it to improve their product and make sure not only that they keep the long term players, but also give themselves the best opportunity to welcome new players too.

Most of what made the original Destiny a good game is still there, but the overhauls and tweaks to the lesser parts have given Destiny the sort of boost it needed. It was hard to see how this could serve as a long term franchise after the initial release but now, I am counting down the days until year 3.

GS Blind Look: Extreme Exorcism

A new video series from Gamestyle, the GS Blind Look. We jump into a game for the very first time with no previous knowledge or experience. The first game we look at is Extreme Exorcism an Action Platformer where it is you vs ghosts.

Brad is joined by Iain to look at Action Platformer Extreme Exorcism. A game where you battle ghosts on various levels, except the twist here, it that each new ghost follows your previous move patterns thus deciding how difficult each new stage is.

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Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 18th September 2015

Brad and John take a look at and review the charts and releases for week ending 18th September (Friday).

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It is a quick look at the charts and some further discussion on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain to kick off this week’s show.

Then time for reviews of Pro Evolution Soccer 2016, NHL 16, Dropsy The Clown (sort of), The Golf Club: Collector’s Edition and finally Destiny: The Taken King.

Then it is a look ahead to FIFA 16, Skylanders Superchargers, Death Ray Manta, Cards & Castles, Hacker’s Beat and Blood Bowl 2.

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

This Week’s Top 10


Details below on how else to catch this week’s show.

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GS Quick Look: Stasis

Alone and scared, after 3 years in Stasis. Brad and John guide our hero John to uncover what happened on board this atmospheric space station in this Point & Click horror game from The Brotherhood.

Brad and John take a look at Stasis from The Brotherhood, an isometric sci-fi horror, point & click adventure that is dripping in atmosphere..

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The Golf Club Collector’s Edition Review

I have sat here for almost an hour procrastinating, with a blank page and no idea how to open up this review of The Golf Club Collector’s Edition. Which is why I wrote the last few words, as I hope it flows into something.

You see I have already reviewed The Golf Club and I really liked it, I felt it was a solid sim that did away with all the fluff that the EA golf games added and that hasn’t changed one bit. You can read it in the link just a few words back.

That is what makes the Collector’s Edition so difficult to score. It is the same game as before, all up to date with the patches and the DLC thrown in for good measure. It still plays a damned fine game of golf, the course editor is still wonderful to use and there are still all the various tournaments and tours, both online and off. Yep it is still a good game.

One new addition I suppose I can mention is the handicap system, which arrived fairly late in the day. Your handicap will be calculated over a number of rounds to set an initial number, then as you play, your handcap is continually monitored and calculated each and every time you play.

It works really well too, as it means players who aren’t so confident on the courses, can still compete with those who have mastered the game. Again though, there is no over the top promotion of this humble feature, it is just there, in the background, occasionally letting you know how you are progressing.

With all the content from the original release and subsequent DLC included, the Collector’s Edition brings the number of official courses to 20, but because of the amazing course editor, the number of actual courses is nigh on limitless.

There are some really faithful recreations of famous courses out there too and they are well worth hunting down. It goes without saying there are a fair few rubbish courses created out there, but because of the way the course designer works, by giving you a solid opening template, these are few and far between. That mixed with a pretty decent rating system will see you being able to avoid them with ease.

I bought The Golf Club on PS4 at the time of the original release and have since picked up the extra content, I also have it on the PC but without the extra content (bless those sales) and if I am being honest, if you have the game in any capacity whatsoever then really there is no point in you buying The Collector’s Edition, just update and grab the new content much cheaper.

However, if you don’t own it or you want the game fresh on another platform, then this is easily the way to go. It can be picked up for less than £30 in most places, even on the high street and with Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour being a huge disappointment this year this is certainly the golf game of choice.

Mad Max Review

I’ve taken my time to come to a decision about Mad Max for two reasons. One being I was a huge fan of the original film and to be honest I haven’t ever really liked where the source material has gone since and secondly, my views of the game have changed more times than a model at a fashion show.

So, I decided that if I tried to hang on to my own opinions of the Mad Max franchise, I wouldn’t be able to give the game a fair review. So in doing this I had to forget there was ever an original and try to leave that influence behind (I am still to see Fury Road for the record).

In fact, the checklist of essentials came down to the game being set in Australia and the main character being called Max. It is and he is, so fine, I can approach this game on its own merits moving forward. Another point to note, is that I am played this on the PC, where previous Warner Bros titles have had many, many issues. So I am happy to report that even on my modest system, the game runs really well at high settings.

To get the issues out of the way first, I am going to bring up the control system. The defaults here are just odd, with actions mapped to buttons that just don’t feel right having played other action/adventure games. You expect some kind of continuity across controls these days, even if games are from different developers.

Now I know this isn’t a shooter and the idea is that ammunition is scarce, but not having the shoot button on the shoulders just didn’t feel right and I found myself accidentally shooting my weapon when pressing B on the controller way too often. It’s not the only change to the norm, as there are so many times where it just feels a bit awkward and hasn’t been properly tested from the development stage.

Now I did get used to them eventually and I could remap them, but as a default they just didn’t feel right out of the box, which meant it took me a while to really find a groove with the game.

The other thing that does frustrate a lot, is that whilst the overall arc of the game is very enjoyable, there is a large chunk where the game feels like it is adding filler just to extend the length and even hits a point where you are telling yourself “too many more of these and I am calling it a day”.

The start of the game is very stop/start too, where you are waiting for it to let go of your hand and let you explore the barren wastelands and start engaging with enemies across the land. The opening as a story is important and the acting is enjoyable, but when interspersed with teases of gameplay, it gets frustrating and you just feel that had the developers mixed the start a bit differently it would have flowed a lot better.

The main issue comes around mid-way through the game, where it feels like you are doing a lot of forced rinse and repeat fetch-quests just for the sake of it, which are sandwiched between some really well constructed missions and writing.

Now that being said, where this game does excel is in the combat, both vehicular and on foot. When in your car, which can be upgraded as you progress, there is an influence of sorts from Wheelman, where you can side-swipe another car to do damage. But instead of just turning into them, you use a button press with a directional input to make the slam. It is stupid but it works really well.

As does the firing of weapons from your car. These aren’t ever really your main point of attack, but can be pretty spectacular when used. The upgrades you get too can turn your vehicle into a dangerous killing machine. It really never gets dull seeing what you can add next to inflict even more pain.

On foot the game isn’t simply influenced by the Batman fight mechanics, it is pretty much using them like for like. And I can tell you now, that is the best possible decision Avalanche could have made here, because Batman’s fighting mechanics are still the best I have used in this genre.

Whilst you never feel as powerful as Batman, the close quarters combat in Mad Max still feels just as satisfying and there is just the right amount of tension that you could be overwhelmed by the groups of enemies, mixed with that feeling of being a complete badass.

Now as I said, there are issues with Mad Max and it certainly isn’t a game that will win many awards, but it is a damn enjoyable game, where you can in the end overlook what are, at the end of the day, pretty minor issues in the grand scheme of things.

This is a game that came out in the same week as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, yet it still grabbed my attention enough to want to finish this, rather than ignore it for the poster child release of the week.

GS Quick Look: NHL 16

Hello out there. It’s on the air, it’s hockey night tonight! Which means Brad is in his element as he gets to play some NHL 16 courtesy of EA Access.

Brad and John take a look at NHL 16 from EA Sports. It is no secret Brad is hockey mad, especially when it comes to his Red WIngs, so who better to take an early look at EA’s latest effort.

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Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 11th September 2015

Brad and John take a look at and review the charts and releases for week ending 11th September (Friday).

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A second week of changes in the charts, with new entries for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Mad Max and Disney Infinity 3.0 as well as a bit of movement for some of the chart regulars.

Chat then moves on to reviews of Stasis, Forza Motorsport 6, Super Mario Maker and Tearaway Unfolded.

It’s then a look ahead to The Golf Club: Collectors Edition, Pro Evo 2016, Destiny: The Taken King and Rugby League Live 3.

We also apologise for a technical issue half way through when the recording equipment decides to malfunction.

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

This Week’s Top 10


Details below on how else to catch this week’s show.

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GS Quick Look: Duskers

In a world where the universe is nothing more than a graveyard, Brad finds he is the last hope with nothing but a terminal and some drones to find the resources to survive and discover what really happened.

Brad and John take a look at Duskers, a roguelike strategy game where you pilot drones from a computer terminal, searching abandoned ships, barges, stations and more.

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Forza Motorsport 6 Review

I have had my ups and downs with the Forza Motorsport series. The original on the Xbox did get some attention from me, but at that time I was more into the arcade racers of the day. Yet Forza 2 and 3 became mainstays on the 360. I took part in many an organised event and had a wonderful time with both, even investing in a wheel.

Yet there was something about Forza 4 that just didn’t seem right to me after a while and thanks to getting an Xbox One a full year after launch, I had pretty much decided to skip most of Forza 5 knowing the 6th was due pretty soon.

I did dabble with it, it’d be rude not to but again it didn’t grab me like those earlier versions and I couldn’t put my finger on it. So here we are, Forza Motorsport 6 and a chance to jump in from the very beginning.

This is a hard one for me to review in many ways, as I feel I have been spoiled by some other racers over the past year or so. My simulation needs have been met by Project Cars (and there will be a few comparisons along the way) and my simcade needs taken by Driveclub and Forza Horizon 2.

It used to be that Gran Turismo and Forza were my go to games for ‘simulation’ but that has changed a lot for a couple of vital reasons and one of those is where Forza Motorsport 6 still struggles in my opinion.

One thing I have been very vocal about over the years is the career structure in simulation racing games on consoles. I don’t mean the unlocking of events and cars, as I don’t really mind that to a degree, my issue comes with race length and this insistence to start you in very short races without the ability to qualify and expecting you to hit a target position.

There are seemingly no options to change this, no concepts of full or half length races that allow you to really get into a racing groove. No qualifying that allows you to at least try and improve your grid position. Which frustrates even more when you can improve the Drivatar difficulty as you see fit.

The reason this really gets to me is because other games allow this and allow the game to be tailored to your needs. Whilst I understand Forza has gone down a path where it wants anyone to be able to play from the 3 year old using a controller for the first time and the 80 year old who has had one thrust at them, to the highly skilled racer who wants everything off. It means that it becomes very hard to get excited for much of the career, especially early on.

Project Cars has the perfect balance for this, allowing you to adjust, using sliders, the race length and AI difficulty before every event, meaning you really can get the races you want for any given situation and is one area where that shines and Forza Motorsport 6 really fails.

A new addition is the car mods. A concept that has come in from the world of the FPS, where you can buy and use temporary mods that offer various bonuses and dares, that you can use to earn extra credits or XP and is generally a nice touch.

However, whilst earning 10% extra credits for a race or 1000 credits for performing dares such as perfect drafts is a lovely thing to have, the mods that offer extra grip, better acceleration, higher top speeds etc at certain tracks, or even permanently as long as the mod card is installed, are terrible ideas.

It is fine in an arcade racer, but for a game that is aiming to be realistic this is purely poor judgement and again whilst it is an optional usage thing, it really shouldn’t be there, because it literally makes no sense in the way it is presented. If these mods were quick tuning changes or something like that, then fine, but not just cards that give you an advantage.

Now that is pretty much all the negative stuff out the way and apologies for lingering on those for so long, because Forza Motorsport 6 is the best Forza game yet where it counts…on the track!

Previous Forza games have had solid AI, but they have since been surpassed by other games that seem to handle AI personalities in a much better way and allow you to feel like you are racing personalities rather than dull bots.

But the Drivatar system, now further down the development line has really changed the game. Every car on the track is being fed racing styles by the entire Forza community, recording how every person races and then using that data to bring them into everyone else’s games.

It mainly seems to pull from your friendlist which is a clever feature, because all of a sudden that guy in front defending the inside line isn’t just an AI bot, that is that guy you know and he is driving like an arsehole, he is doing that on purpose, you want to beat that guy.

It really does change the mindset, when you see names of people you know instead of generic fake names. I was skeptical of the actual tech, but having seen my own son race in the game and then seeing how his Drivatar races, I can safely say they are pulling and using the data as promised.

My son has a habit of braking late and often taking corners wide, as well as being aggressive on overtakes and will often make contact with another car if they are in his way. So when I saw his car a couple of places ahead of me in a race, I could see all his traits there and it could easily have been him at the wheel.

The Drivatar stuff is impressive in its own right, but when Turn10 have introduced 24 car grids, it becomes very special indeed. Gone are the days where a race could feel very sparse and lifeless, it has evolved a hell of a lot and now feels like you are competing, no matter how far down the field you are. Which again is a shame, when the career mode is purely focused on winning, but I have dwelled on that long enough.

There also night races and wet races as part of the overall package. I thought Project Cars handled weather well, but here it is something special indeed. Puddles are apparently modeled in 3D and each puddle can have a different effect on the car, depending on the speed and angle you go through it and even how deep or large the puddle is.

Again I was skeptical, but after a race at Sebring, that skepticism was gone. Sure, as usual you had to brake early and be gentle on the throttle for corners, but usually when on a straight you can really hit top speed. Not here though, I was on the long back straight and I went to overtake another car after getting a good draft, hit a puddle on the side of the track and completely lost the car, as I aquaplaned off the track.

It isn’t always as spectacular as that though, it can be a lot more subtle, affecting your acceleration, or just losing that bit of momentum, it has a controlled chaos about it that just works. It is missing a proper track evolution aspect, but you feel that it will come at some point down the line. However, this is a game changer for wet weather racing and has set the standard.

One thing the Forza games have had since conception is that they look stunning and Forza Motorsport 6 is no exception. The details in the car are just sublime, but it is the extra details around the track that just add that extra little bit of wonderment.

Drive on some American tracks and you’ll see smoke from the infield where the fans are having barbecues, there are leaves blowing across the track and being thrown around as you drive past them. There are so many lovely little touches, that it would be impossible to list them all and I am still finding new ones the more I play.

Then there is the Forzavista, the mode for car lovers, where you can look at any car in detail, both inside and out and to someone walking in without knowing it is a game, they could be forgiven for thinking it is a video of a real car.

Despite my own personal issues with race lengths in the career mode, I have fallen in love with Forza Motorsport 6, it has truly evolved over the years and this is something special indeed. It also gets bonus points for not forcing me to listen to Jeremy bloody Clarkson.

GS Quick Look: Red Goddess Inner World

Red Goddess

What colour do you like your Goddesses to be? Red according to Yanim Studio, in their game Red Goddess Inner World.

Brad and John take a look at the latest in a long line of Metroidvania titles to see how much this one holds up in the crowded genre.

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Brad & John’s Game Reviews – 4th September 2015

Brad and John take a look at and review the charts and releases for week ending 4th September (Friday).

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We have changes in the charts, which means some fresh talk on new entries and a SHOCKING fall from the top 10 for a mainstay.

Chat then moves on to reviews of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Mad Max as well as some other releases including the bizarre Show With Your Dad Simulator.

Next week’s releases sees some early discussion on Super Mario Maker and Tearaway Unfolded.

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

This Week’s Top 10


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

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Quick View: Poly Bridge (Steam)

Is Bridge Constructor a genre now? There seems to be a fair few of these games around and some have taken it to another level and expanded what these games can be. Especially looking at the likes of Kerbal Space Program and Besieged. But Poly Bridge seems to do the opposite and stick to the known formula.

That’s not a bad thing though and despite being in Early Access, Poly Bridge feels like a pretty complete game.

It has the usual scenarios you’d come to expect and it tasks you with simply building a bridge to allow traffic to cross. It provides you with the tools and a budget, then it is up to you to understand the physics to make travel possible.

This will depend on what wants to cross as to what you need to build; because a bicycle doesn’t need a bridge with a ton of steel girders to make it safely across, yet try and get a lorry across a simple wooden bridge and disaster will strike.

What stands out at even this early stage is how clear each of the goals is and how you can really have fun experimenting with various solutions. Early tutorials will give you a basic concept as to how the physics of it all will work, but doesn’t hold your hand to the point it stops becoming challenging.

A nice feature is the ability to save and share replays of both your successful attempts, as well as your disasters and this is a feature I really, really like and have spent as much time watching other solutions as I have creating my own.

Let me tell you something, people are bloody creative and put me to shame.

Poly Bridge is currently £8.99 on Steam in Early Access and that price point feels about right and again is a good example of how to put a game on Early Access, as it is one I don’t feel let down about owning even at this early point.

GS Quick Look: Assault Android Cactus

Beware the Android Cactus, they are ready for an all out assault.

Assault Android Cactus is an indie action, twin-stick shooter, currently in Early Access on Steam. Brad and John dive in to see what the deal is.

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