If you're a fan of authentic World War II shooters and free stuff, Red Orchestra 2 is about to make your day thanks to a 100% discount on Steam. Or, in other words, it's free to download for the next 24 hours.
Well, you'd be mad not to really.
To this day, Carl will occasionally drop the words "Dragon Age II" into conversation just to send me off on a ten-minute rampage about how bitterly disappointing and shoddily constructed that game was.
It's all relative, of course. Dragon Age II is not a dreadful game. One would actually struggle to describe it as bad. But in comparison to the past glories of a company I grew up adoring for their mature, choice-stuffed RPGs, BioWare screwed the pooch with Dragon Age II. They abandoned the expansive approach that made Origins a modern classic, threw away the narratives we'd all spent hours constructing in that first game, and gave us a boring city surrounded by cookie-cutter dungeons and endlessly repetitive quests for a story that offered little bite.
I'm still annoyed by Mass Effect 3's ending (that's a whole other can of worms), but Dragon Age II exhibited warning signs long before the Reaper starchild showed up to retcon everyone's favourite interactive space opera. The lazy design is undeniable and was never fully addressed in the post-mortems after the game released. Accusations of rushing the game to completion, which would've explained an awful lot, were laughed off, as were suggestions that EA's high pressure corporate culture had negatively influenced the game.
We never got answers, but the results spoke for themselves. Something had gone wrong: BioWare were making games that looked better than ever, but had lost something underneath the surface.Click here to read more...
All change, please! Sony has announced the next slew of free games headed to the PlayStation Plus instant game collection, along with a few departing titles that you should queue up ASAP on PS3, PS4 and Vita.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita (PSN)
Murasaki Baby is terrifying.
In fact, "deeply unsettling" might be more appropriate. This odd Vita exclusive sees you guiding an adorable teetering tot through puzzly levels as she clings onto her favourite balloon, but everything is... wrong. Horribly distorted tentacle-nosed freaks lurk within the nightmarish backgrounds, hiding nearly out of shot. Atonal scraping sends shivers up your spine as our baby staggers across atrocious hellscapes or twisted uncanny interiors past things you'd rather not look at directly. Then reveals that she has an enormous toothy maw in the top of her head.
Underneath the weirdness, however, lurks a fascinating little game that's designed to hold your hand in a very literal way, while showing off the Vita's wild array of input methods.
If you can imagine a touchscreen blend of Ico, Limbo and Frobisher Says... perhaps directed by David Firth (yes, the Salad Fingers guy)... you might be somewhere near the mark.Click here to read more...
We need more variety when it comes to gaming protagonists.
It seems like a no-brainer written down, after all everyone games these days, from toddlers to pensioners. Yet still there seems to be a prevailing idea of a majority market ruled over by a male, teenage demographic who demand the greatest attention.
It's getting better, of course. It takes less time to point to a game with a female protagonist, or at least the option for one, but we're still a long way off. There'll be those who scoff and argue that little needs to change, and I'd wager that the vast majority of those reactions will be from male gamers. I don't want to bash people over the head with talk of privilege, but it's important to take a walk in someone else's shoes from time to time.
As I explained in a vid on my personal channel over the weekend, I like playing female roles: I enjoyed Tomb Raider, No One Lives Forever is one of my favourite game series of all time, and I'll frequently take female characters for a spin in RPGs just to see how characters react differently to a protagonist of the opposite gender than to those when I'm role-playing as myself. But I also imagine what it might be like were the tables turned, with upwards of nine out of ten games released featuring female protagonists. I'd like to say that I'd be totally fine with that, but I'd be lying. Eventually I'd want to just be able to invest wholly in a character without compromise. It doesn't matter how well written the women in those imagined games might have been, at some point I'd want a character I could truly relate to. As a person. As a man.Click here to read more...
Following a successful beta earlier this year, Ace Combat Infinity is too close for missiles and other lazy Top Gun references.
In fact, let's get them out of our system now, shall we? You can be my wingman any time. Highway to the Danger Zone. Take me to bed or lose me forever. Yeehaw, Jester's dead! Paging Doctor Loggins... oh, hang on, that was an Archer reference.
Never mind, because the take-home message here is that Ace Combat Infinity will release on the European PSN on May 28th. It's free-to-play and designed about competitive co-op, and set in the brilliant Strangereal universe, making it the gutsiest move I ever saw, Mav. Come on, I had to leave one for last. Matt delivered a hands-on preview if you want a closer look.
We've seen it cheaper on XBLA, but Brendan describes Pool Nation as "a must buy for pool fans." The AI can be very challenging, perhaps too much so at times, but the multiplayer is where the flavour is. The user-friendly trick shot implementation raises Pool Nation above the competition and will tempt you to try them out down the pub. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Just in case you didn't read my review yesterday, The Last Federation is a fantastic space strategy game set within a 4X simulation. AI races go to war, live and die - but we play as a wild card capable of toppling governments, burning fleets and manipulating the galaxy to our whim. It's revolutionary, newly-launched and £11.24 on Steam for the next couple of days, saving you 25%.
However, the ever-reliable Greenman Gaming will save you an extra couple of quid with their OFU76E-1C6RHK-OX6OMC voucher code, bringing things down to a cheeky £9.00. Bargain.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is adorable and hilarious, as you try to pull off everyday chores controlling a slippery suckery cephalopod disguised as a family man. The joke can wear thin at times, especially when things get too 'gamey' and contrived towards the end, but if you love the idea you can save £4 on Steam. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Developer: Arcen Games
I've never played anything remotely like The Last Federation, even if it looks like any number of space 4X games from yesteryear at first glance. Eight unique races reach out to the stars from their home planets, seeking conquest and coexistence depending on their philosophies. They build fleets, research technologies, make treaties and break them with impunity; thriving and dying in a meticulously-modelled situation that's detailed down to internal politics and populations.
And we can't play as any of them... because they're all AI.
We stand alone as the Hydral, the last of an extinct race of interstellar tyrants with dreams of uniting the galaxy into one eternal federation... and crushing any species who stands in the way. We're the dark heart lurking at the centre of the universe, the multi-headed tentacular puppet master, working behind the scenes to apply pressure through political coups, financial skullduggery, science and fleet combat; subtly influencing the balance of power with both the carrot, stick, cloak, dagger and gravity lance.
It's really rather wonderful, and a revolutionary twist on the 4X legends of yore.Click here to read more...
GamersGate's Spring Sale, which I so cleverly referenced in the headline (please hold your applause), has taken a decidedly SEGA-related turn when it comes to the flash deals. Several SEGA games are heavily discounted for the next 24 hours, including Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Oh dear, I seem to have forgotten to link to the store page. Whoops. Never mind, though, because I'll link to some good games instead. Highlights include:
Thanks to MrCollective @ HUKD, who also corralled the other discounts on offer!
Nobody expects the Dragon Age Inquisition!
Well, actually, that's not entirely true. Not only does this new trailer set up the basic premise (we're the sole survivor of a disaster with magical powers and a great destiny... again), show off the shiny trans-generation graphics and hype us up for retooled dragon combat, but it also confirms that BioWare's sequel should release in October.
So we therefore know exactly what to expect and when to expect it. What we need to know, however, is whether it can put the series back on form after Dragon Age II totally squandered the first game's potential. We'll be sure to fetch the comfy chair and find out [that's probably enough misquoted Python now - Ed].
I love the Wii U GamePad. It's a fantastic piece of kit in terms of build quality and comfort (let's forget the crippling battery life for a moment), with a screen that should allow developers to offer new features and radical usability improvements with context-sensitive icons. Unfortunately, very few games actually use it to any great effect beyond just being another regular controller.
However, an incoming Fatal Frame sequel could change all that.Click here to read more...
Ilamentia | IndieGameStand | Beat the minimum ($1/£0.59)
Plenty of games have tried to muscle in on the first-person puzzling territory after that Valve game, but Ilamentia stands out by way of being so effortlessly surreal. Its puzzles range from spatial navigation to audio challenges and jump scares, tied together with a gorgeous aesthetic.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, you can buy the DRM-free version for 59p at IndieGameStand. You'll also receive Desura/GOG/Steam codes if and when it releases on those platforms.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is fantastic, and the director's cut ironed out some of its more annoying wrinkles. It's certainly not too shabby for a fiver, which is The Game Collection's current asking price and a £10 saving. Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII @ HUKD!
Final Fantasy's soundtrack is a thing of rare beauty, capable of packing out the Royal Albert Hall and venues worldwide thanks to Nobuo Uematsu's legendary anthems. It's a joy to listen to, but even more fun to tap along with, thanks to the excellent rhythm game/JRPG hybrid Theatrhythm that graced 3DS handhelds back in 2012.
Squeenix has now confirmed that its sequel, Curtain Call, is coming to North America and Europe later this year; containing 200 tracks, 60 characters from throughout the franchise and plenty of new modes. Definitely one to watch out for - and we'll keep you posted.
Oh, and it's pronounced 'theatre-rhythm.' Just so you know.
Nintendo have never played by anyone else's rules but their own. In an industry that's seemingly obsessed with power and statistics and framerate and pixel density and other hilariously finicky snippets of metadata these days, it's easy to forget that Nintendo's two greatest successes were built off of underwhelming tech used in innovative fashion.
The original Game Boy was the brainchild of Nintendo's much-lauded Research and Development 1 team -- a team spearheaded by a true industry legend in Gunpei Yokoi. Yokoi had already struck gold with Nintendo's Game & Watch series of handheld LCD games, but change was needed, and in the wake of other pioneering devices such as the Milton Bradley Microvision that released way back in 1979, it seemed that interchangeable cartridges were the way to go. The Game Boy might not have been the first "programmable electronic game system", as the Microvision had been branded, but it did more to popularise the portable sector than anything before or since.
The key to that strategy? Well, as the Wii would replicate years later, Yokoi's design philosophy for the Game Boy was simple: "Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology" -- or using easily produced, readily available, pleasingly cheap components in interesting ways. While rivals such as the Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear went for an expensive, but impressively-specced approach, the Game Boy co-opted a Z80-based CPU, and presented a display that struggled with more than one shade of grey let alone fifty or, god forbid, actual colours. It didn't matter.
In 1989, twenty-five years ago, a legend was born and we thought we'd share a memory or two of our time with Nintendo's grey pocket brick and invite you to do the same. Happy Birthday Game Boy!Click here to read more...
Halo 5 is coming. We'll probably have to wait until 2015 if the rumour mill is anything to go by, but as longtime fans of the series, we can't wait to see how 343 Industries push Bungie's legendary brand into the new console generation.
Actually, we do have a few ideas of our own - and some criticisms of Halo 4 to boot.
Halo 4 deserves to be studied in game design courses over the next few years, since it featured both the best and worst QTEs in recent memory.
The first level challenged us to climb up a collapsing superstructure in the most immersive QTE ever implemented by a videogame. Master Chief glanced left or right instead of relying on silly button prompts, allowing us to unconsciously make the right move without breaking the first-person perspective, to the extent that I had to replay the scene and intentionally fail just to convince myself that it wasn't a cutscene. It was utterly masterful (no pun intended) and we'd be happy with more of that - even in other games. Plagiarise the heck out of it, everyone.
However, we want none of the other kind of QTEs in Halo 5. The bad kind. The lazy kind. The immersion-killing kind. The 'press RB to kill the Elite' or 'hammer X to win the game' kind. No. Bad 343. Bad. Don't make me roll up a newspaper and bonk you on the nose.
eSports are all the rage these days, and Halo 5 is already perfectly placed to turn the best of its gametypes into a sensation. Grifball. Rooster Teeth's joke became a deadly serious mode, one that's as tense and tactical as it is ludicrously fun and riotously ridiculous.
So not only do we crave Grifball at launch, but we'd love loads of rotating championships and tournaments built directly into the game, supported by robust stat tracking, then perfectly accompanied by Xbox One Twitch streaming and DVR. See you in pre-season!
Oh, and we're looking for a fourth team-mate. We're undefeated in 2014. Sort of.Click here to read more...