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PREVIEW | Our first look at Might & Magic: Heroes VII

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
Games previews, Gamescom 2014, Limbic Entertainment, Strategy games, Ubisoft

PREVIEW | Our first look at Might & Magic: Heroes VII

If you're new to the Might & Magic Heroes series, sorry, but the seventh instalment isn't going to make things easy for you.

Set between Heroes VI and Heroes V (yes, they're in canonical order, just run with it), Heroes VII chronicles the epic power struggle ignited by the Falcon Empress' murder. Ivan Griffin, a noble member of the Griffin Family, steps into the vacuum and gains the support of the other races of Ashan, who advise him from behind the scenes as a Shadow Council. In order to convince the unwilling hero to step up to the plate, the council representatives tell their own stories to convince him that he's the right man for the throne.

Or, in other words, we've got another excuse to partake in some streamlined strategic turn-based battles that resemble Chess and Pokemon in equal measure, with all manner of mythological creatures at our command. Limbic Entertainment clearly don't want to deviate from the formula, but they have been busy ensuring that Heroes VII makes Ashan feel like a living, real place.

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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution Review | I Call Sharinganigans

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Bandai Namco, Brawler, CyberConnect2, Fighting Games, Games reviews, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, PC games, PS3 games, Xbox 360 games

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution Review | I Call Sharinganigans

Platforms: PC | PS3 (reviewed) | Xbox 360

Developer: Cyberconnect2

Publisher: Bandai Namco

Cards on the table. Fair warning. Be advised. I am not a big fan of Naruto Shippuden.

I love the premise, the setting, the character designs, the amazing powersets and abilities (those wild and disturbing Kugutsu puppets are my favourite), the art style, the themes and Kakashi in all of his slightly pervy glory, but I've never been able to get into the series no matter how many times I've tried. God knows I've tried.

For me the pacing kills it, the drawn-out interminable waiting between interesting events and the hours of angsty posturing when characters should be fighting. Sometimes I wish that I could just skip between the superbly-choreographed battles, preferably with subtitles so I don't have to listen to Maile Flanagan's horrendous nails-on-a-blackboard English dub.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution Review | I Call Sharinganigans

That's probably why I really dig on Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution. Everything I like about the series is present and correct -- the diverse well-designed characters with incredible abilities and OTT climactic brawls -- except that the overarching narrative has been replaced by just enough non-canonical premise to hold it together. Unfortunately, I'm also not convinced that it's worth forty quid.

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'Games Under £8' sale hits PSN

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
PS Vita games, PS3 games, PS4 games

'Games Under £8' sale hits PSN

Sony's weekly PSN sale is now live, and does exactly what it says on the tin. "Games Under £8." Yes, they've got that right, but they failed to mention that some of these games are significantly under £8.

On the Vita front I'd recommend BreakQuest and Real Boxing for £2.49 apiece (linked to reviews), as well as the magnificent Rayman Origins for £5.79. The Vita version is, as far as I'm concerned, actually the best of the lot. £7.99 for the Vita version of Child Of Light isn't too shabby either.

PS3-wise, I'd heartily vouch for Dragon Age Origins (and the inferior sequel, if you absolutely must), Just Cause 2, Super Puzzle Fighter II and Castle Crashers at around the £3 mark.

PS4 owners get short shrift this time, with big reductions on NFS Rivals due to the impending glut of Christmas racers. Either way, check out the savings below or on the EU PlayStation Blog.

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Xbox Live Games With Gold: Chariot, Bad Company 2 & Shadowrun

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Games With Gold, Xbox 360 games, Xbox One Games

Xbox Live Games With Gold: Chariot, Bad Company 2 & Shadowrun

Microsoft has announced their next selection of Xbox Live Games With Gold, and they're... okay.

Xbox One Gold Members get to try out Chariot, a new cooperative platformer, though sadly also still have to put up with the frankly offensive Crimson Dragon for another month.

Meanwhile Xbox 360 owners get Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and a surprise offering in the form of Shadowrun, which is an odd FPS adaptation of the legendary roleplaying setting. We should give some credit to silverchriz @ HUKD for that last spot!

COMPETITION! Win some in-game WildStar swag!

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Carbine Studios, Competitions, MMORPGs, NCsoft, WildStar

COMPETITION! Win some in-game WildStar swag!

If you're a fan of that WildStar game that I wouldn't shut up about for 3 years, you may have seen many opportunities for get hold of some exclusive in-game goodies that were handed out at this year's Gamescom. They were quite the dapper pieces of swag, providing a top hat and monocle costume piece, a rather executive looking table for your house, and a unique dye to give your avatar a special look. You may have thought that your last chance to grab one has past... but I think you'll find that's not true. You see, I managed to procure 10 EU codes to give away, and we're going to have a little fun in the process.

So, how do you go about getting one of these codes? Simple - amuse me!

Click this link to find out how to win >>

The Crew: Ubisoft "confident" that Uplay will hold up at launch

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
PC games, PS4 games, The Crew, Ubisoft, Uplay, Xbox One Games

The Crew: Ubisoft "confident" that Uplay will hold up at launch

The Crew is breathtakingly ambitious. As I reported in our extensive hands-on preview, it's an attempt to blend MMORPGs and racing games together into a single package, set in a 5000km² adventure playground shaped and themed like the United States, with the ability to form persistent crews and factions with other players for competitive co-op. It's a brilliant idea, and one that could absolutely smash the genre wide open if it works.

However, there's an elephant in the room. Uplay. Ubisoft's digital platform has historically proved itself unfit for task during game launches, such as we saw with Watch Dogs and Far Cry 3, whereas The Crew hinges around its multiplayer as a core part of the experience. Will it hold up?

Naturally I made sure to pose the question to creative director Julian Gerighty.

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Only 3 weeks to go until Dreamfall Chapters Book One

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
News
Tags:
Adventure Games, Dreamfall Chapters, Dreamfall Chapters Book One - Reborn, Red Thread Games, release date

The team at Red Thread Games had said the first part of the long-awaited sequel would arrive before November, but yesterday they announced via a developer vlog that Dreamfall Chapters Book One - Reborn would finally be released on October 21st. Kickstarter backers will receive a digital download version at that time, although a season pass will also be available at various online stores as well if you were heinous enough to not support it. It's okay. I'll forgive you in time.

That gives you three weeks to either buy and / or replay the original two games in the series, but if you don't have time for that you're in luck. Creative director Ragnar Tørnquist confirmed on twitter that the team are working on a recap for fans and newcomers alike ahead of the game's release, so everyone will understand who Brian Westhouse is, how a bird is the second greatest sidekick ever, and why even the most powerful villains should fear calculators.

In the meantime, if you wish to learn more about Dreamfall Chapters you can always check out our gameplay walkthrough from Gamescom, or check out our recent interview with Dag Scheve and Ragnar Tørnquist. We will of course bring you our thoughts on one of our most anticipated games of this year as soon as it's in our grubby mitts.

Xbox Live Deals Of The Week - save on Skate, Abyss Odyssey & Ubisoft titles

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
XBLA, Xbox 360 games

Xbox Live Deals Of The Week - save on Skate, Abyss Odyssey & Ubisoft titles

The Xbox Live Deals Of The Week are now live, and once again, Xbox One owners don't have much to shout about. 33% savings on a full-price download and shortcut DLC? Shameful display.

The real action, as per usual, can be found on Xbox 360. Gold Members can net some discounts on the Skate series and crazy scrolling platformer Abyss Odyssey, while an Ubisoft publisher sale is open to everyone. Beyond Good And Evil HD is a steal for £1.68, even if it's the only thing you buy.

You can find all the links and reductions below, straight-up lifted from courtesy of Major Nelson. Credit must also be given to yarkiebrown @ HUKD!

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First Contact | Carl Vs Over 9000 Zombies!

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
First Contact, Gameplay, Loren Lemcke, Mastertronic, Over 9000 Zombies!

First Contact | Carl Vs Over 9000 Zombies!
When it comes to zombie games, those developers do like to put a lot of zombies in them. After all, there's nothing quite like a large horde of the undead shuffling towards a player to get the action going (or to cause much panic and headless-chicken-ing.) That said, we rarely get over a hundred of the brain-eating thralls coming for us at once. While that might be enough for some developers, Loren Lemcke decided that wasn't good enough, and so his current Early Access project - Over 9000 Zombies! - aims to deliver exactly what it says on tin.

Essentially a twin-stick top-down shooter, players do their best to slay wave upon wave of undead, picking up weapons, health kits, and power-ups, using any opportunity they can to build barricades or automated turrets by spending metal scraps they find. It's a simple premise that seems to match the graphical presentation, but once the action gets going what appears to be a collection of tried and tested game mechanics ends up being rather fun and addictive. So, to see if he could survive his first seven days in the game, we sent Carl in to find out if he could handle the copious amounts of flesh-eaters in our latest First Contact video.

Check out the official website here.

The Morning Papers | There Is No Windows 9

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
The Morning Papers

Good morning!

Microsoft announced Windows 10 today, a new operating system boasting advanced features like a Start Menu and the ability to close applications by clicking a small cross in the top right of the screen. What an age we live in. It makes you wonder exactly how terrible Windows 9 must have been. Still, I actually like the clean look and hope that it brings even more performance improvements.

In case you missed it...

 

Daily Bite: Impossible Mode

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Funnies
Tags:
Daily Bite

If they didn't make 'em like they used to... [Dorkly]

Project CARS Hands-on Preview | Racing’s Hottest New Contender

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
PC games, Project CARS, PS4 games, Racing Games, Slightly Mad Studios, Xbox One Games

Project CARS Hands-on Preview | Racing’s Hottest New Contender

“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.

Project CARS Hands-on Preview | Racing’s Hottest New Contender

The initial cause of most of my accidents was trying to find a suitable camera angle. The game will spoil you for choice including low road, bonnet, roof, following, interior middle, interior driver's side and a helmet cam which puts you directly behind the eyes of the driver, complete with the helmet's inner cushioning viewable underneath. The new take on the helmet cam is slightly let down by the blurring effect during hard braking and tighter turns, it’s a real strain on the eyes and hopefully something we can toggle in the final build. Surely pro-drivers don’t get this much motion-blur in real life or they’d be filling their helmets with vom all the time.

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Endless Legend Review | Stranger Civilizations

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
4X games, Amplitude Studios, Editor's Choice, Endless Legend, Games reviews, PC games, Strategy games

Endless Legend Review | Stranger Civilizations

Platform: PC (Steam, £26.99)

Developer: Amplitude Studios

Early Access has been dragged through the mud over the last few months, but it often doesn't get enough credit. For every failure there's a developer who makes a plan and sticks to it, engages fans without losing sight of their goals, then finally delivers a worthwhile game that couldn't have been made any other way. The system works.

Endless Legend is one of those success stories: a superb, solid and delightfully innovative take on the 4X genre from Amplitude Studios, the fearsome strategy fiends behind the excellent Endless Space and upcoming Roguelike masterclass Dungeon Of The Endless. As you've probably worked out by now, all three games take place at different times in the same universe, a sensational Sci-Fi fantasy fusion that kicks out elves and dwarves in favour of aliens, constructs, mad cultists, robot ghosts and necrophagous insects. It's a beautiful thing, both in terms of the overall aesthetic and some exciting design decisions.

Endless Legend Review | Stranger Civilizations

I'm going to assume that you have a working knowledge of 4X games, preferably hex-based specimens like Civilization, Warlock and Age Of Wonders III, because otherwise this review is going to require several hundred words to explain the basic mechanics. To briefly recap, Endless Legend subscribes to a familiar basic formula of picking a race with different stats, starting out with a settler, building a city and then cracking on with the four Xs: exploration, expansion, exploitation and extermination . You'll research new technologies, move units around a hex-based world, engage in diplomacy and generally rise to dominance through fair means and foul.

Here's the instruction manual if you want to know more. Rather than dwell on minutae, we're going to discuss how Endless Legend subverts and reinvigorates the familiar genre template with fresh new ideas.

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PREVIEW | Pac-Man & The Ghostly Adventures 2 platforms like it's 1999

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
3DS Games, Bandai Namco, Pac-Man & The Ghostly Adventures 2, Platformer, PS3 games, Xbox 360 games

PREVIEW | Pac-Man & The Ghostly Adventures 2 platforms like it's 1999

Jumping! QTEs! Rail shooting sections!

Call me crazy, but I don't think I'm in Pac-Man & The Ghostly Adventures 2's target audience.

As far as I can tell, it's aimed at fans of an animated television show that turned Pac-Man into a totally radical 90s mascot even though it's now 2014. Whoops. Our spherical yellow pal now has arms and legs, lives in a town called Pacopolis, fights the evil Betrayus and hangs out with a disposable cast with names like Spiral and Cylindria. He's basically Sonic, then. You'd therefore expect a tie-in to be a fairly simple 3D platformer with a basic hub town and some rail shooting segments, but in an incredible twist that's exactly what Pac-Man & The Ghostly Adventures 2 is.

However, never let it be said that I won't give a game a fair shake. It's not going to set the gaming world on fire and we've seen the same licensed template hundreds of times -- Scott Pilgrim this ain't -- but it does at least make eating things really, really satisfying.

PREVIEW | Pac-Man & The Ghostly Adventures 2 platforms like it's 1999

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Final Fantasy XIV £2.95 on PS3 (with free PS4 Upgrade)

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, MMORPG, PS3 games, Square Enix

Final Fantasy XIV £2.95 on PS3 (with free PS4 Upgrade)

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm RebornGame Collection | £2.95
Price Comparison

I never thought they could do it, but lo and behold, Squeenix managed to polish a turd hard enough that it compacted down into a beautiful diamond! Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is an MMORPG worth shouting about, and one that you can play for a month on PS3 - and PS4 if you use the free upgrade - for only £2.95. Remember that you'll then then have to start paying monthly though. Thanks to TOMBOY25360@ HUKD!

Destiny Vanguard Edition £34.85 on PS4 and Xbox One at SimplyGames

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Bungie, Destiny, FPSRPG, PS4 games, Xbox One Games

Destiny Vanguard Edition £34.85 on PS4 and Xbox One at SimplyGames

Destiny Vanguard Edition | SimplyGames | £34.85
Destiny Starter Guide | Review

Destiny is an odd little thing: beautiful to behold, fun to play, yet lacking meaningful content and using a chance-based loot system to fill the void (and give you the illusion of accomplishing something). Still, multiplayer is great fun when you get a fireteam together, and I bet that plenty of you want to get involved just to be part of the conversation. SimplyGames' £34.85 price is nice and cheap for the Vanguard edition, which includes some extra DLC.

Thanks to BuzzDuraband @ HUKD!

The Morning Papers | Leaks, Bugs & Balls

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
The Morning Papers

Good morning!

Oh look, is that Destiny in the headlines again? Say what you want about Bungie's virtual slot machine that incidentally contains first person shooting -- and I do, regularly -- but it has been a fantastic title for debate, opinion and awesome crucible shotgun rampages. Unfortunately we'll probably have to buy the story separately, even though it might be on the disc already.

Still, at least some smaller and more intriguing games are also making the morning papers, like... FIFA 15. Right. Here are your headlines.

In Case You Missed It...

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments Review | Criminal Minds

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Adventure Games, Focus Home Interactive, Frogwares, Mystery games, PC games, PS4 games, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments, Xbox One Games

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments Review | Criminal Minds

Do you want to be just or do you want to be kind? Are you a man who prizes the law above all else? Would you let a murderer walk free if it might serve the "greater good"? What kind of a man are you? These are the questions that are asked of the player when it comes to stepping once more into the shoes of Sherlock Holmes in Frogwares latest game in the ongoing series.

The gentleman detective may disappoint purists in this title, coming across as an amalgamation of Conan Doyle's original and the various popular incarnations seen across the screen over the last few decades. The accessories and affectations of Rathbone's Holmes are mingled with the calculating character of Moffat and Gatiss' recent reinventions, not to mention Sherlock's rather antagonistic relationship with his brother, Mycroft.

If there is less of the original Holmes' character to be seen in this game, it is because Frogwares has made the player the curator of Holmes' intellect and intuition, delivering the power of moral decision-making and deductive reasoning over into our hands. The Holmes of Crimes and Punishments is something of a blank slate in terms of judgement and ethical character, and it's up to us to fill in the gaps in a game that explores the consequences of the detective's findings and the processes of deduction in greater detail than ever before.

There are six cases that form the meat of the game in Crimes and Punishments, each of them unfolding with a series of twists and turns and opportunities for investigation depending on the player's thoroughness. Crimes and Punishments is, in many ways, an old-school point-and-click adventure game at heart. You survey crime scenes and areas of investigation, interacting with various points, persons, and objects of interest, collecting evidence, interrogating witnesses and suspects, and uncovering clues that may then be paired together to form deductions.

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Gamers, Start Your Engines! | The 2014 Racing Game Showdown

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
DriveClub, Driving games, F1 2014, Forza Horizon 2, Project CARS, Racing Games, The Crew

Gamers, Start Your Engines! | The 2014 Racing Game Showdown

Despite starring supercars, insane track toys and monstrous custom jobs, racing games are actually a lot like buses. You spend ages waiting for them and suddenly a whole fleet turns up at once, regardless of what current-gen console or PC you own. This holiday season is going to be absolutely jam-packed with racers, simulations and driving games, all of which are crying out for your attention and jostling for grid position.

This might seem rather annoying at first glance, but look a little closer and you'll discover that they're all very different and offer a totally unique take on the genre. Whether you're all about finishing first or just in it for the raw thrill of driving itself, there's something here for you. So it's high time we gave you the lowdown on which game (or games) will most likely suit you best.

Or, perhaps more accurately, the showdown. Let's do this in release date order, though it turns out that we're starting very strong indeed....

Forza Horizon 2 | Out Now

Gamers, Start Your Engines! | The 2014 Racing Game Showdown

Forza Horizon 2 is a superb driving game, and I've picked those words very carefully. Yes, there are loads of cars that are fairly awarded and boast loads of tuning options, not to mention a whole mess of races across a gorgeous open world, but Playground Games' latest is actually more about the simple act of driving.

"It's the thrill of sliding a 1969 Ferrari Dino around a perilous mountain road to The Marriage Of Figaro. The heart-stopping roar of your Lamborghini Diablo perfectly setting off the William Tell Overture as you cruise over a sun-baked hill, or getting air in a VW Camper Van during a midnight thunderstorm as fireworks explode in the distance. A thousand beautiful, personal, perfect automotive moments," I wrote in our Editor's Choice review. Gorgeous visuals, great scalable handling and beautiful scenery to match the cars make for a game that comes alive when you stop racing and start driving.

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