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Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark (Review)

Grimlock deserves better

It’s always amused me just how much people hate Michael Bay. I mean, it’s a film about toys. Of course it’s just robots hitting each other and stuff exploding. Don’t like it? Well stop paying a fortune to watch it at the cinema thus encouraging him to make more. Seriously, I had to delete one person from facebook because they were complaining about how awful the film was despite them paying to watch it twice.

Personally, as an effects fan, I quite like the films (not seen the new one yet though), but wish they were about 45 minutes shorter. I approached the latest tie-in game with low expectations, but with a willingness to be pleasantly surprised, despite High Moon Studios -whose Cybertron series has been widely praised by critics and fans alike- not being at the helm. Fingers crossed they get to work on a brand new entry to the series once they’re done with helping out on COD: Advanced Warfare.

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Enemy Front (Review)

An Inglorious Bughunt

I wanted to love Enemy Front, I really did. As a big WWII FPS fan, I’ve been starved for years and have only recently got a taste of the genre coming back with the ‘what if the Nazi’s won’ Wolfensteinon PS4 and the ‘let’s shoot Italians in Africa for a change’ of the recent Sniper Elite III. Enemy Frontcould have been another game to show that WWII is still one of the best settings for FPS titles; instead, it’s probably buried it.

The game’s ambitions are pure enough, but CI have struggled to cope with the CryEngine and basic gameplay design, producing one of this year’s biggest messes. The frame-rate crashes into single-digits whenever you go indoors, especially when moving up the stairs of any of the multiple apartment buildings. The checkpointing seems intent on making you relive the worst parts of the game whenever you bite the dust after the increasingly random number of perforations deemed acceptable is reached.

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Sniper Elite III (Review)

Better than a bullet in the nads

Sniper Elite III has opted for a change of scenery for its latest long-range melon buster and visits the sandy vistas of Africa during World War II. Unlike most WWII games, there’s a surprising lack of Nazis, instead you’re generally shooting Italians with ze Germans apparently not being fans of the searing heat.

Scenery change aside, it’s business as usual, shooting Axis soldiers from oh-so far away, with gruesome slow-mo detail accompanying most shots. The series’ stable gore looks more grisly than ever on the new consoles. Skulls explode, teeth smash from jaws, bones snap, insides are ripped through and of course testicle shots are back. On the default settings, I soon tired of these slow-motion killshots that follow the bullet from your gun right up to its messy destination. I’d advise dipping into the options to turn down the frequency of them as they lose their impact by the end of the first stage otherwise. They also make it difficult to keep track of nearby enemies between shots.

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Standalone DLC Like Infamous: First Light Must Become The New Norm

Games are expensive. Add in the fact that new-gen games are £10-£20 more expensive than they were on PS3/360 and it’s not surprising that many gamers opt to trade in their games as soon as they’re done.

With multiplayer orientated titles like Battlefield or Titanfall, they may keep hold of them a little while longer if they’re still fun or reliable online. The promise of extra maps to download further down the line make trading them in a risky proposition, after all nobody wants to miss out.

But what about games like Infamous: Second Son? With no multiplayer component and a Platinum Trophy available over two playthroughs through less than 20 hours of play, there isn’t much reason to keep the game. It makes much more sense to trade it in or make even more money back by listing it on eBay. Even if you really enjoyed a game, it’s worth noting that you could sell for a high price soon after launch and then buy again for a quarter of the price in a few years’ time when you fancy reliving the experience.

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Valiant Hearts: The Great War (Review)

An Essential Journey

With a World War I setting, Valiant Hearts: The Great War explores relatively unfamiliar ground for gaming, or even movies to be honest, as it was generally WWII that inspired so many films and games. It’s hard to believe that the human race had the capacity for war again after the events of WWI and Valiant Hearts plays an important role in showing us that this was one of the darkest moments of humanity’s very chequered past.

Unlike most war games though, Valiant Hearts isn’t another one-man-army first-person shooter or a strategic tactical sim. It’s a heavily story-driven experience with puzzling and old-school adventuring at the core of the gameplay.

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2015’s Hits Are So Far Away. But So What?

After the lengthy presentations on day zero of E3 concluded, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there really wasn’t much to look forwards to in the next few months. Every exciting trailer or tantalising CG reveal blasted the same message: come back and see me in 2015, Brendan.

This would seem the case for most console owners, be it PS4, Wii U or Xbox One. As a PS4 owner though, I felt there was that little bit less to look forwards to though. Sitting through the Microsoft presser and watching them make it all about the games, there was no getting around the fact they were having an amazing show.

I’ve never been a Halo fan, but for those that are, the lack of many new games to play at Christmas doesn’t seem too bad when they get to replay their old favourites with a next-gen lick of paint. Perhaps, it’s just the lack of interesting Holiday exclusives that are getting me down.

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Destiny Could Own 2014… If It Fixes Some Problems

It’s hard to feel bad about England’s early stumble in the World Cup when we’ve been able to play the Alpha test of Destiny all weekend. In short, it’s been tonnes of fun and it looks like Bungie are onto a winner. Naturally, there’s a lot to like about the new shooter (like being able to aim down the sights right, Bungie!), but we’ve also comes across a few things we’d like to see sorted by the time the full release touches down in September.

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Daylight (PS4 Review)

daylight-PS4-reviewGrudging Through Another No-Flair Witch Project

Horror games have seen something of a resurgence in recent years on the PC platform, while the genre has slowly bled out on the consoles. But with the renewed indie focus on the PS4, perhaps the things that lie in the shadows and lurk under our beds are set to make a return.

Recent PS Plus freebie Outlast may have been a repetitive effort, but there was no denying that its first-person viewpoint, jumpy moments and sickeningly foreboding atmosphere were excellently put together. You’d certainly be forgiven for confusing it with today’s game, Daylight. Hell, until this arrived on my desk, I’d mentally absorbed it into the same game as Outlast. However, despite the hospital setting and first-person perspective, this is a very different game. And not in a good way.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (PS4 Review)

amazing-spiderman-2-ps4-reviewWebbed Wonder or Missed Marvel?

Developers have been left fruitlessly chasing the ghost of 2004’s excellent Spider-Man 2 tie-in, with each of the releases since fixing and breaking things in equal measure. We’ve had cool cel-shaded art makeovers, noir and future settings to change things up, but we’ve also seen devs knacker the web-swinging and flush us down more sewer pipes than we’d care to remember.

Despite the numerous letdowns, I’ve been cautiously optimistic about Spidey’s next-gen debut, although this is more of a port rather than something purpose built for the new machines like Infamous: Second Son.

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Child of Light (Review)

child-of-light-review-540x274RPG games are usually big-budget epics with the promise (threat?) of at least forty hours running time. Ubisoft’s Child of Light is here to change that assumption by providing a low-priced downloadable alternative.

Others have failed quite miserably (Hello, Mars: War Logs), but ze Germans made a solid effort with the tough Rainbow Moon. But with Ubisoft providing genre classics in action, shooters and platforming (Assassin’s Creed IV, Far Cry 3 and Rayman Legendsif you’re asking), we can’t wait to see how they handle an RPG.

The first thing we all noticed about Child of Light was of course the visuals -and they don’t disappoint. Using Rayman’s UbiArt engine, Ubisoft have this time favoured a watercolour approach to the visuals instead of bright colours and cel-shaded lines. This has resulted in a classic fairy tale aesthetic that gives the game its own unique endearing personality throughout the ever-changing landscapes.

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Lego The Hobbit (Review)

lego_hobbit-reviewTraveller’s Treasure or Witless Worm?


Yes, this is a review, not an advanced preview for a game which (with any sense) wouldn’t see a release until December when the final Hobbit movie hits cinemas. Instead, this Lego title encompasses the first two films with the third to be added as DLC later this year.

It would take the most upbeat of optimists to suggest that WB will do the right thing and release the add-on (the rest of the game) for free, but my cynical nature tells me to expect something around £15.99 –an oddly specific guess I admit. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see this game re-released complete with the remaining content in December for the same price it is today. So, I guess the only real question left, is how many Lego games do you need in your life? With Lego Marvel and the Lego Movie tie-in released just five and two months ago respectively, you have to wonder why WB didn’t wait.

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Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate – Deluxe Edition (Review)

After not getting around to finishing the final version of the original Vita release late last year, I was delighted to see that Blackgate was making its way to the main consoles in a similar manner to Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD. Keen to fill the long gap between now and Rocksteady’s next-gen Arkham adventure I dove in with both feet -but sadly without a cape.

Blackgate takes place three months after the events of Arkham Origins, making its original simultaneous release a little odd. But now we’ve had time to finish the console game, we don’t have to worry about spoilers; although I’ll not give any away today.

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Orb Accessories PS4 Headset Range (Review)

April 11, 2014 1 comment

Orb-PS4-headsets-reviews

When looking online for headsets you’re usually flooded with options and a range of incomprehensible user reviews or samey tech descriptions lazily copied from the manufacturer’s PR sheet. Well we thought it was about time to try out a few and give you an in-depth opinion.

With the free bundled headset with the PS4 offering terrible mic quality, I looked towards some third-party manufacturers to do better. So today, I’m reviewing three different PS4 headsets from Orb Accessories including the Wired Chat, the Elite Chat and the GP3.

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Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom (Review)

April 11, 2014 1 comment

invizimals-lost-kingdom-reviewSony’s Invizimals series has been through some changes since its inception on the PSP and has finally made its way to the PS3, ditching the augmented reality features to bring a traditional action platforming experience to the console.

As expected, it doesn’t threaten the genre dominance of the Ratchet & Clank games, but is worth a look for younger gamers. Parents, older siblings, or other family members of young children should take a look at this one instead of settling for the usual movie/TV licensed guff.

In Magenta Software’s game, you control Hiro, a teenage secret agent who has been sent to a distant world populated by the mystical Invizimal warriors to help them fight a robot army. It’s all very child-friendly and features enough bright colours and energetic characters to keep them entertained in short bursts. It’s is an easy game to play thanks to basic controls and a gentle difficulty curve. Some players may find it similar to the Skylanders games, but parents will be glad to hear that they won’t have to succumb to pester-power for new toys to play with in-game.

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TowerFall Ascension (Review)

towerfall-ascension-PS4-reviewTowerFall Ascension is all about traditional local multiplayer. So much so, there’s no point even reading the rest of this review if you’re not likely to invite friends round to your house to play with you. Still here? Did I mention it would help if your friends were regular gamers with a fondness for pixelated sprite-art games that could have run on a Sega Master System without breaking a sweat? Try not to make too much noise on your way out. Ok you two, thanks for staying.

This multiplayer-focused game features screen-sized arenas to duke it out against each other in 2-4 player deathmatches / team deathmatches or you can play 1-2 player co-op against waves of monsters over multiple maps.

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Fez (PS4 Review)

Fez-PS4-ReviewDespite critical acclaim two years ago when released on XBLA and PC, Fez has taken its time to come to the PlayStation Platforms. Rather than a discount for its tardiness, the asking price of £7.99 gets you a cross-buy copy of the game that you can download to your PS4, PS3 and PS Vita complete with cloud-based cross-save functionality.

For those of you new to the world of Fez, allow me to catch you up. This is a puzzle platformer that opts for an 8-bit retro style. What’s decidedly not retro though (unless you count Echochrome andCrush as retro) is the rotating mechanic adding depth to the 2D platforming. With a tap of a shoulder button, the whole game world rotates 90 degrees. This begins simply enough when you’re just navigating a singular structure, you could even be forgiven for thinking it’s just a gimmick as it’s essentially a traditional flat 2D stage that you push forward with these ‘rotations.’

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Infamous: Second Son (Review)

infamous-second-son-box-artThe first massive exclusive on the PS4 since launch day’s Killzone: Shadow Fall is finally here. The adventures of the lightning-powered Cole in the first two games were well received by PlayStation gamers, so it’s fair to say the pressure’s on for Sucker Punch’s debut PS4 game.

The story is set in a world that’s been reeling since Conduits -people with super powers – started appearing seven years earlier, causing widespread destruction and paranoia across America. Since the events of Infamous 2, Conduits have been branded Bio Terrorists and rounded up by the DUP -the Department of Unified Protection. The DUP is run by a sadistic turncoat Conduit Brooke Augustine, who has an ability to create concrete structures or painful torture spikes at will. This earned her a feared reputation amongst both Conduits and regular citizens. There are dark shades of McCarthyism and the similarities to the early X-Men movies or TV’s Heroes are plain to see.

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Final Fantasy X HD Remaster (Review)

March 16, 2014 4 comments

FFX_HD_Remaster_VitaHas it really been thirteen years since Final Fantasy X on the PS2? The biggest name in RPGs hasn’t had a great time with the PS3, as the XIII trilogy consistently misfired and many of us are still clinging to the hope of a remake for VII. So, a HD remaster of Final Fantasy X and X-2 didn’t exactly strike me as much to celebrate, despite enjoying the first game all those years ago.

I was wrong though. Dead wrong. Final Fantasy X is arguably better than ever and an essential purchase for anyone pining for the good old days of Square Soft-developed RPGs. If Final Fantasyis to have a bright future, the developers need to look back at games like this to understand why the series went global post FFVII in the first place.

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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (Review)

lightning returns“The brightest lights cast the darkest shadows”

Who among us dared to imagine that after playing the miserable corridor that was the first Final Fantasy XIII, we’d be lining up for a third game in the series a few years later. The sequel, XIII-2, eased up on the linearity, but was still a mess on the battlefield. It’s baffling to think that of all the great Final Fantasy games in years gone by, the almost universally slated XIII series is now a trilogy.

But throughout my time spent playing the previous two games, there remained a streak of perseverance. The ongoing story of sacrifice, family and loss always deserved a better game to be a part of. The cast have always been one of my favourites in a JRPG too, despite being a bit on the broody side a times.

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Batman: Arkham Knight – 10 Things You Need to Know

Batman: Arkham Knight Logo for new PS4 and Xbox One game

It’s been widely understood for ages that Rocksteady have been secretly working away on a next-gen Batman game for a while now, but that doesn’t mean that yesterday’s announcement hasn’t got us wildly excited for the Dark Knight’s debut on the PS4 and Xbox One with Batman: Arkham Knight. So let’s dive into what we’ve been able to find out about the game since its reveal.

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