Elizabeth brings us home to Rapture
Bioshock Infinite’s first DLC surprised many of us when Irrational announced it would take place in the original game’s underwater city of Rapture and not in the floating city of Columbia. Surprised? Yes. Disappointed? Not one bit.
With Bioshock Infinite indicating the many possibilities of alternate universes, the concept of taking (a version of) Booker and Elizabeth to one of the most inspired locations in gaming history is one that pulls you in from the start, more so after teasing us with the idea in Infinite.
After years of waiting, the PS4 and Xbox One are now unbearably close. However, let’s take some time to make sure we’ve planned ahead for the perfect launch experience on the day. You may have more left to do than you think. So don’t get caught out on launch day, check out our 10 Top Tips for Preparing for Your Xbox One or PS4. Then we can all go back to staring at our calendars.
Infinity Ward’s latest shooter, Call of Duty: Ghosts, hit the shelves this week and has again proved a big success, although not to the same degree as previous titles. There’s been a drop in sales, albeit one which could be explained by players waiting for next-gen versions later this month. The critical reception has taken a hit too though as the series dips into the ‘dreaded’ yellow zone on Metacritic with a current average of 75 instead of the usual 80-90 range.
Much of the criticism has been aimed at the game’s single player element, which is surprising, given that Infinity Ward should know what they’re doing by now. Have they become lazy? Are we expecting too much? Have our tastes changed? Or do we just want to get on with the multiplayer?
Well, today let’s tackle the single player side of Ghosts, by looking at what’s strong and what’s wrong with it. My experience and thoughts are based on my recent complete playthrough of the campaign on the PS3.
The 3DS was always going to struggle with the ambitious graphics in Mirror of Fate, but we no longer have to fend off its ugly with a crucifix, because Konami have unleashed a HD makeover on the PS3 and Xbox 360 digital stores and at a bargain price of £9.99.
For those of you who missed the 3DS version, the game ditches the 3D action feel of Lords of Shadow for something more in line with the classic 2D Castlevania games. So expect lots of platforming, exploration and fending off opponents from both sides.
Despite the recent Tokyo Game Show giving players a chance to explore an open world portion of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, visitors to the Eurogamer Expo were stuck indoors in a strictly linear series of combat tutorials. With the combat system being my biggest grievance with the FFXIII series though, this is exactly what I wanted.
So after a cutscene that made little sense without the relevant context, I’m thrown straight into a tutorial. Given that Lightning Returns is making bold steps to move away from the ‘bash X to win’ mentality that has plagued 90% of the battles in the last two games I was certainly keen to get stuck into the lesson.
Lightning fights alone in this game, so forget the notion of parties. Stop! Come back, long-suffering Final Fantasy fan. To give combat the depth of a team you have various Schemata outfits to choose from. If you think of the interchangeable dress-spheres from the divisive FFX-2 on the PS2, you’ll find the concept easy to follow.
Fast-Tracking to the Big Guns
Guerrilla Games know they’re up against it when competing for our time in the busy arena of FPS multiplayer games. How do you encourage gamers to give you a fair shot when Call of Duty and Battlefield are so dominant? How about unlocking all the core features from the start?
All weapons and class abilities will be available without the usual grinding; enabling you to try everything and discover what combination works best for you. This is a great idea and allows for a more even playing field for newcomers against players that have been living in the servers since launch day.
Following Heavy Rain must have been a daunting task. The interactive drama wasn’t to everyone’s tastes thanks to the quick time event heavy gameplay. But there’s no denying it was a unique game that told a story in a way a film would never be able to.
So here we are with Beyond: Two Souls, another game written and directed by David Cage and developed by the highly respected Quantic Dream. Beyond, enters new territory though, dropping the crime genre for a tale with a sci-fi edge that’s keen to cut into the concept of death and what awaits us on the other side. It has an episodic feel, making it more comparable to a TV series than a film. I mean, how many 12 hour films have you seen recently?
We’ve come to expect actors’ performances to play a key role in Quantic Dream titles, with some excellent work from the cast of Heavy Rain and the excellent facial motion-capture that lifted the game high above the competition. So it makes sense that this time they would reach out to Hollywood and bag some big-name talent.
Dragon’s Crown is a fond throwback to classic side-scrolling beat ‘em ups like Streets of Rage, or more specifically, Golden Axe (you can totally ride dragons!). Stages involve going from left to right with a four-strong group consisting of knights, amazons, dwarves, elves, wizards or sorceresses. There’s a boss with a health bar as wide as your TV at the end of each one too, with one of them being a clever nod to a certain Monty Python film. Sold yet?
You’re spoilt for choice, with six different character types to choose from. They’re ranked from beginner to expert, but to be honest you’ll be fine going with whichever takes your fancy from the start and you’re allowed to have a few on the go at once.
The Heavens open and darkness falls
Sony have a strong history in recent years of nurturing development talent eager to try something a little offbeat, risky or arty. We’ve had Journey and The Unfinished Swan and we’re bound to see more of their kind on the PS4, but before we take that leap onto next-gen in November, we have a title many of us have been looking forward to since its initial reveal back at Gamescom 2012.
Rain takes place during one evening in the rainy streets of Paris. Hearing a noise outside, a boy looks out his window to see a ghostly silhouette of a little girl run past. He climbs outside to investigate only to discover that he himself has turned into a similar ethereal figure. There isn’t much time to dawdle though as there are sinister creatures on the prowl too, so you must guide him through the streets to help him find the girl and make his way back home.
There are a lot of racing games on their way, perhaps too many for those of us planning to splash out on a next-gen console soon. So which of them are shaping up to be worthy of your attention? I endured the queues and hardware crashes of the Eurogamer Expo to tear around various racetracks to bring you my impressions of five of the most anticipated racers of the future on both existing and next generation platforms.
The Vita’s Knight Rises
Past industry form indicates that you’d be forgiven for dismissing the presence of a handheld game when it has a bigger and shinier counterpart on your main console. So often we’ve seen them stumble into our hands as shabby ports or overly simplistic, barely related tie-in fodder. Armature Studio is here to change things with their new Vita game. From what I’ve played, it truly deserves a place on your shopping list if you’ve enjoyed the last two Rocksteady games and are planning on picking up Origins on October 25th.
This game will follow on from the events of the console game Arkham Origins, rather than rehash the same story. The Blackgate in the title refers to the prison where the majority of the game will be set. Home to the non-insane criminals of Gotham -although a few are clearly borderline- various well-known villains ‘run’ different parts of the prison. So expect to take on some infamous faces to get the jail back in order. The story is delivered via motion comics, which I suppose is reasonable given the source material, but there’s no getting around they’ll always feel and look like the cheap option.
First things first. This hands-on report will be spoiler-free regarding the first game. I’m currently playing that one through (I know, I’m late) and several previews for the new game have blown the first game’s ending. I don’t want to do the same if you’re yet to play Lords of Shadow. So read this, then get on it, you don’t want to get left behind again.
The word on the wire is that this concluding part of the Lords of Shadow saga is going to be a more open world affair. That’s not on display here though as this is more of an introduction. Don’t worry; it’s much more exciting than it sounds. There’s a massive, Holy Transformer thing for starters! But more on that later.
An absorbing adventure that’s still full of heart
Square Enix aren’t the fastest of movers when it comes to giving us what we really want. That Final Fantasy VII remake doesn’t appear to be on its way soon and Kingdom Hearts III has only just been announced.
In the meantime though, we’re more than happy to revisit the past in their latest HD collection, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix. Rather than just give us HD versions of the main canon PS2 games, Square are making the effort to bring players up to date with the Nintendo-only spin-offs and region-specific releases. Naturally, this leaves room for another HD collection before KHIII.
Following the recent retro remake of DuckTales, we now get to see how the classic Mega Drive game, Castle of Illusion scrubs up by today’s standards. As a big fan of the 90s original, I had my fingers cautiously crossed for a nostalgic blast.
The story remains true to the original, with Mickey setting off to rescue long-time sweetheart, Minnie from the evil witch, Mizrabel. Rather than animate some traditional Disney-style cartoon scenes to set up the game, Sega Australia have gone low-budget and opted for some mildly animated illustrations.
Earlier this week, Sony took to the stage at the Tokyo Game Show to announce the excellent-looking PS Vita TV micro-console, which will be released in Japan later this year. Sony haven’t announced anything about a Western release beyond “stay tuned”, but considering the high interest the device has received from this half of the world, we’re expecting to get our hands on it early next year at the latest. We can’t complain really, especially as Japan is getting the Vita TV device instead of the PS4 this year. I bet they’re furious deep down, but in a really polite way.
So, is Vita TV really just a consolation prize for gamers in Sony’s homeland? Far from it, in fact, I really want one. Is that because I’ve been told I can’t? Very possibly, but here are another seven reasons why I’m crossing everything in the hope we’ll soon be plugging the little white box into a nearby TV.
Typical, just like waiting for a bus. We’ve been waiting for a decent platformer for ages, then two come along at once in the shape of Rayman Origins and now Sony’s Puppeteer. So, rather than stress yourself into an early grave trying to beat all the timed challenges in Rayman once you’ve made an initial playthrough, pick up a copy of Puppeteer as it’s been released cheaper than most new games.
This is classic 2D side-scrolling territory, the purist’s choice of dimension for platforming. As you can see by the visuals, this is going for something a bit unusual with its handcrafted puppets and theatrical stage design. While knee-jerk reactions may compare the visuals to LittleBigPlanet, the fact of the matter is that this is a considerably better-looking and better-constructed platformer. I love how so much of the scenery is interactive and not just painted on. With every scene transition, you see everything bounce as if the stage has literally just been dropped into place, giving everything a touchable physicality on your TV.
After the slightly frosty reception the thawed out first sequel received, it would seem the Lost Planet series has been pining for those long cold winters again. So the third game is a prequel to the original, taking place many years before.
You are Jim, red-haired (finally!) and awesomely bearded-up for the cold. Jim has a wife and newborn son back on earth, but he’s taken this job on the frozen rock of E.D.N. III to earn some serious money as a Rig operator / go-to guy for exterminating the pesky Akrid wildlife while the NEVEC Corporation searches the planet for T-Energy.
Rather than the Vital Suits of the last two games, you get to romp around in a 50-foot high walking Rig. These huge mechs are essentially maintenance machines, hardly built for combat, but as you and Jim will find out, you’re stuck with what you have.
When the best stealth experiences this generation have come from first person games -take a bow Far Cry 3′s machete and Dishonored- you have to wonder if grizzled vet Sam Fisher and Splinter Cell can still compete. Like any stealth master though, you don’t even notice how good he is until you’ve been completely drawn in.
The so-so wrapping of this long-awaited return belies the high quality within though. Fans of TV’s 24/anything with terrorists will be able to spot the plot a mile off. A rogue ex-military group attempt to start World War III by threatening terrorist attacks on America if they don’t pull all their troops from foreign countries. A few familiar faces from Sam’s past turn up, but newbies can play the game without feeling they’re missing important facts. Blacklist is a great standalone entry point to the series.