The racing game PS4 owners have been waiting for since launch is finally here and it’s facing a hell of a lot of pressure after a prolonged development that has seen some mixed messages emerge during the course. It’s not been the smoothest of launches either, with the online side of the game being blocked off to most gamers. So, let’s have a look at some of the highs and lows we’ve experienced in our first four days with the game.
Remember: Burn After Bleeding
Today’s session sees our detective leading man making his way through a sinister mansion full of strange noises, tortured sobbing, wet ripping sounds and a host of nasties sporting dead-eyed barbwire couture. Forget any concerns about the ‘haunted mansion’ cliché, this is the sort of nasty setting we’ve missed in recent years. And don’t forget, this is just one stage of Shinji Mikami’s blood-soaked love letter to the genre he helped to define.
It’s also the first decent taste of horror on new-gen hardware and it suitably impresses on the graphical front from the start. It’s the shadows that really put you on edge though. Be it the flickering shards emitted by your gas lamp as you edge down a dim corridor, the light behind a sheet betraying the twitching silhouette or the gradual pouring of light into a dark room as you slowly creak open a door into the unknown.
“Try to catch that car in front or just bring it back in one piece.” These are the deflating words of my pit manager when skidding around in last place on the final lap in Project Cars.
Project Cars is tough. With no driving aids turned on for my first play session with the new racing IP, I can’t help but feel the pressure mount as every time I look up in the Bandai Namco offices, I see a Dark Souls II poster – judging, mocking and not helping my blood temperature one bit.
Things improve though and despite the harsh challenge, which comes mainly from the handling rather than the AI (but more on those guys later), I found myself keen to iron out my racing sim wrinkles and lose those pesky kart racer habits. To be fair, it’s not like PS4 is exactly packed with skill-honing racing sims right now.
This year’s hottest ticket at EGX (formerly the Eurogamer Expo) was for the premier of From Bedrooms to Billions, a documentary on the birth of the UK gaming scene and its rise from hobbyist beginnings to world leader and to the shape of things today.
The entire film is told by industry figures giving anecdotes on their memories of how it all began. Chances are, the older a gamer you are, the more you’ll be able to relate to the film. The amount of time dedicated to the Sinclair ZX80s and Commodore 64s vastly outweigh any given to later consoles. This is mainly due to the heavy focus on the British perspective of the industry, where the arrivals of the Japanese machines from Nintendo and Sega are painted in almost villainous colours.
Early on, the anecdotes feel a little dry as the talk is all about programming, entering lines of code, hobbyist meets and so on. This is a film clearly aiming for the nostalgic feelings of those involved in the scene, further carving the film into an even tighter niche and alienating everyone else.
I’ve had Destiny for a week now (thanks to Royal Mail’s usual shoddy service) and have been hitting the modes pretty hard to level up my gear enough to take on the upcoming Raids that are only open to level 26 and up. So, we imagine that you too are going to be putting a lot of time into Strike missions to get in some essential practice for Destiny’s tougher journeys. Well Guardian, you’re not going to last two minutes in the Raids if you don’t take these tactics into your Strike missions.
The Colourful Heart of Darkness
Sony has repositioned the Vita as a champion of indie titles and Murasaki Baby has been on our radar for what seems like forever. The wait is over though and we finally get our hands on one of the most visually-striking games to land on the handheld in ages.
The aim of this 2D puzzle platformer is to help this incredibly creepy, yet somehow adorable, little girl find her ‘mummy’ as we guide her through the nightmare-like environments via a multitude of touchscreen and rear touchpad controls. Early Vita adopters may hear a few distant alarm bells ringing if they remember the infuriatingly clunky launch title Escape Plan. Thankfully, the controls in Murasaki Baby are much better. Mostly.
The Christmas release line-up has a long tradition of being ridiculously packed every year. After one of the driest gaming summers in recent memory, this is all the more frustrating. The big publishers will often drown out the marketing efforts of any releases that aren’t Call of Duty, FIFA, Halo or other major console branded spots, so this list is for seven games that deserve a little boost and ones we hope won’t get brushed aside in favour of the usual suspects. Keep your browser aimed at Dealspwn as we’ll be aiming to review the lot of them.
The original Velocity title on the Vita was a cool retro shoot ‘em up that had you teleporting through barriers to reach other parts of a scrolling stage. We would have been happy enough with more of the same, but Futurlab really went the extra mile by adding in on-foot 2D platforming sections when you leave the ship. The game effortlessly shifts between the two modes with no loading screens to complete one of the slickest experiences we’ve seen on PS4.
If you patiently waited all that time for the new-gen version of Diablo III you may be wondering what all the fuss is about Adventure Mode. Well, after you finish the campaign mode, you’ll be wanting to bag some serious XP and loot to keep the game feeling fresh and getting to Level 70 so you can explore the Paragon system and maybe start on a few new characters to share the additional benefits of your first demon slaying hero. So why not take a look at this week’s Sunday Seven which has a few starter tips to get you going on the next part of your quest for epic loot in Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition. Naturally, we’d love to hear any hints you’d like to share too.
The grass is always greener on the other side. Early on in a new generation of consoles, you usually have to pick between two big rivals. It’s been like that throughout all of my formative gaming years. Sega vs. Nintendo. Nintendo Vs Sony. Sony Vs Microsoft. Whatever side you choose though, chances are your console is going to have a slow start during the first 18 months, especially with development time of the big Triple A titles getting longer and longer.
As a PS4 gamer I’ve had plenty of games to enjoy since launch from exclusives like Infamous and Killzone to the compelling third-party efforts like Assassin’s Creed IV, Wolfenstein the Lego games and more recently Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition. After E3 and Gamescom though, I have to admit I’ve been getting itchy feet and the feeling that I’m missing out by not having an Xbox One, like I said, the grass is always greener and all that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RPG 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.