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Matt Gardner

Is WildStar Doomed? - Game Buzz #94

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Carbine Studios, Dreamfall Chapters, Game Buzz, Podcast, PWNCAST, Shadow Warrior, Shinji Mikami, Sunset Overdrive, The Evil Within, WildStar

Is WildStar Doomed? - Game Buzz #94

This week, we talk about Carbine's staff layoffs and whether or not WildStar can bounce back from a troubling couple of months, Carl drops the lowdown on Dreamfall Chapters and we ask if it's suitable for newcomers, Jon gushes about the power of wang, and I wonder if Shinji Mikami has lost his edge.

Game Buzz | Episode 94 - Is WildStar Doomed? Recorded 17th October, 2014.

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

Is WildStar Doomed? - Game Buzz #94 Is WildStar Doomed? - Game Buzz #94Is WildStar Doomed? - Game Buzz #94Is WildStar Doomed? - Game Buzz #94Is WildStar Doomed? - Game Buzz #94

Daily Bite: Fifty Shadows of Mordor

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Funnies
Tags:
Daily Bite

"Dreadlord Fluffypants" is actually my evil alter-ego as it happens.

The Evil Within Review | Shinji Mikami's Greatest Hits

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Bethesda Softworks, Horror games, PS4 games, Shinji Mikami, Survival Horror Games, Tango Gameworks, The Evil Within

The Evil Within Review | Shinji Mikami's Greatest Hits

The Evil Within is a lot like a Greatest Hits album -- a paean, if you will, to the ways in which Shinji Mikami has shaped the face of survival horror of the years he's been working in the genre. It's also something of an old-school indictment of where the genre currently resides, although it must be said that playing this almost directly after having my nerves shredded by Alien: Isolation has left me with a feeling of ambivalence towards this spiritual successor to Resident Evil 4.

The setup for The Evil Within is rather lacking -- our lead, the gruff and gravelly Detective Sebastian Castellanos, is a template of a character rather than one in his own right. It doesn't help that he's backed up an equally forgettable, cardboard cutout partner, and a rookie-in-training who could have been interesting if she'd be given more do actually do. It wouldn't be so bad if the game didn't feel it necessary to force-feed players big eyefuls of unimaginative, by-the-numbers exposition.

The Evil Within Review | Shinji Mikami's Greatest Hits

Even then, it's a bit of a mess in terms of structure. It's a shame really, because some of the conflict-stuffed narrative beats to The Evil Within are really rather good. The bosses and sub-bosses that pop up here and there are brilliantly, disgustingly designed, but they rather come and go without any particular rhythm or pacing to the wider experience, and they often present hideously nasty difficulty spikes. It's impossible to shake the feeling that this could all have been planned a little bit better, and the game lurches from chapter to chapter with little satisfaction in terms of smaller pacing arcs, with creepy scenes cobbled together in a disorienting and disappointing fashion. Occasionally, there'll be a fairly effective cliffhanger at the end of a chapter, only for the game to squander that tension at the start of the next.

That's the thing, The Evil Within works well to create moments of tension and a chilling atmosphere at times, bombarding the player with utterly grotesque imagery, but then it doesn't really know what to do with you once it has your attention.

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First Contact | Randal's Monday - Clerks the Videogame?

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Adventure Games, Daedalic Entertainment, First Contact, Nexus Game Studios, Point & click, Randal's Monday, Videos

First Contact | Randal's Monday - Clerks the Videogame?

Apparently, when Jeff Anderson was first approached by Nexus Game Studios regarding the possibility of doing voiceover work for Randal's Monday, he rather angrily turned the gig down, believing the game to be ripping off Clerks -- the film that introduced the wider world to the joys of Kevin Smith's dialogue. He looked at the script anyway, found it to be broader and funnier than he'd anticipated originally, and made a U-turn.

Randal's Monday is not a Clerks spinoff, but it does borrow rather heavily from the Askewniverse, and the titular character's name is even a mashup of Dante Hicks and Randal Graves. Hell, a dynamic duo looking a lot like Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes is actually also on the cast list for this game) pop up later on in the game.

First Contact | Randal's Monday - Clerks the Videogame?

I've spent a fair bit of time with the game's truncated early access build, and here's a little First Contact video of my initial half hour with the game along with some impressions. There'll be a review along next month, closer to the game's release when the early access build updates, but I found the game's opener to be something of a mixed bag to be honest.

There's real promise here, but a few games writers were privy to a Daedalic showcase in which the game's broader plot was fleshed out beyond the opening scenes, and I have to say that I think knowing the loose narrative conceit around which the story is based might be key to getting through what can be a bit of an uneven introduction to the game. I talk about it in more depth at the end of the video (I want to try and avoid plot spoilers here if possible) but Randal's Monday takes a bit of a while to get going, and the pacing is key to comedy -- something that Nexus don't always get right here. That said, I want to kick on and play the rest, Anderson is basically playing a role made for him (and his delivery is bang on), there's some interesting puzzling a little further on, and the Groundhog Day cycle is something I'm eager to explore.

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Daily Bite: Slowpoke Reggae

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Funnies
Tags:
Daily Bite

Well, this just made my week. Make sure you watch the whole video... and then put it on in the background on loop for the rest of the day.

If you hadn't realised already, "Yadon" is the Japanese name for Slowpoke.

WWE 2K15 Interview | Bryce Yang on MyCareer, performance capture, and a truly next-gen wrestling game

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
2K Sports, Games previews. WWE 2K15, Interviews, Videos, Visual Concepts, Wrestling games, Yuke's

WWE 2K15 Interview | Bryce Yang on MyCareer, performance capture, and a truly next-gen wrestling game

WWE 2K15 is a big deal for 2K Sports. It's the first game in the series where they had the opportunity to produce a game from scratch, and they've been taking the responisiblity very seriously indeed, calling WWE 2K15 the first truly next-gen wrestling game, acknowledging the limitations of last year's generation-straddling iteration. As such, they're hoping to see Yuke's and project partners Visual Concepts both bringing their A-games, ringing the changes in a number of meaningful ways.

MyCareer is a huge addition to the franchise, taking the best bits from VC's longstanding mode in the NBA 2K series and applying it here, fulfilling one of the biggest requests fans have been making for years. The presentation, as you'd expect, is absolutely top notch, with a huge portable capture rig having been driven around the US to really nail the exaggerated facial animations and up the level of drama in the ring.

Speaking of which, the actually wrestling itself has undergone some changes too, breaking down moves into more specific components, giving players a greater array of options in terms of body targeting, and making a concerted effort to match the fluidity and shifts in momentum that befit a proper WWE match. Mastering the art of countering is going to prove absolutely essential in this year's game, and it's a fiendish thing to get a hold of against the AI, though I found it significantly easier (though still pretty challenging) against a human opponent.

WWE 2K15 Interview | Bryce Yang on MyCareer, performance capture, and a truly next-gen wrestling game

To get the lowdown on the changes and upgrades that Yuke's and VC are bringing to the table with this year's game, and to chat about what working primarily with the new consoles has allowed the developers to do, I caught up with WWE 2K brand director Bryce Yang at a recent event in London.

Check out my WWE 2K15 interview with Yang after the jump >>

Daily Bite: If Mortal Kombat Was A Sitcom

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Funnies
Tags:
Daily Bite

Worth it for the increasingly terrible puns.

Interactive Narratives | 80 Days - Inkle Studios on how to make an engrossing text-heavy mobile adventure

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
80 Days, Adventure Games, Inkle Studios, Interactive Narratives, iOS games, Mobile games, Videos

Interactive Narratives | 80 Days - Inkle Studios on how to make an engrossing text-heavy mobile adventure

80 Days has been one of my favourite games of the year. If you told me that a text-heavy iOS game would end up being a personal contender for Game of the Year back in January, I would have probably laughed in your face. The idea of a mobile game providing a deep, narrative-driven experience is frankly laughable to me, particular one so heavily rooted in reading lots of text. But 80 Days made a mockery of my scepticism, somehow managing to be perfectly suited to little bursts of play-up-and-play action yet still offering an engrossing long-term narrative steered in large part by the player.

An adaptation of Jules Verne's classic, which updates some of the more archaic sensibilities of the original while retaining the style and politics of our planet in the late Nineties, 80 Days is a bold, refreshing game that puts players in the immaculate shoes of Passepartout, juggling valet duties to his adventuring master, planning the route across the globe, dealing with the various moral dilemmas and dynamic events that crop up and block the way from time to time, balancing speed against funds and health, all the while marking the calendar and the time left.

It works magnificently on smart devices, so much so that something would undoubtedly be lost on console or PC, such is a tactile way that you draw out the narrative, poking and prodding the screen to gently unfurl the next segment of story or attempt to wheedle more information out of the people that meet, making choices that will affect you master and those around you, and tracing your way across continents with your fingers.

Interactive Narratives | 80 Days - Inkle Studios on how to make an engrossing text-heavy mobile adventure

I've played through it at least seven times now.

But I wanted to find out more about how the game came into being and the thought processes behind some of the design choices, not to mention how Inkle went about adapting the original novel and optimised it for a platform not normally associated with gripping, replayable interactive fictions. Which brings me to part one of our rather lengthy chat...

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NBA 2K15 Review | A Sporting Soap Opera

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
2K Sports, Basketball games, NBA 2K15, PS4 games, Sports Games, Visual Concepts, Xbox One Games

NBA 2K15 Review | A Sporting Soap Opera

NBA 2K15 is an interactive sporting soap opera, and it's quite brilliant in that regard. Visual Concepts have been leading the line in terms of narrative framing for career modes for some time, but last year's next-gen version saw them really ratchet things up in terms of context and plotting for MyCareer, upping the stakes by giving you a nemesis to measure yourself against, a mute team buddy to give you inspiration and a kick up the arse when warranted, and interactions with coaches, GMs and the press.

This year, though, they've really gone the extra mile in cultivating a sporting narrative full of drama and emotion. You kick things off as an undrafted rookie with an obnoxious, Jerry Maguire-esque agent shopping you about low-to-mid-level teams for a trial. The greater the team's standing, the harder you'll have to work to impress them, and so on. Succeed, and you'll earn yourself a ten-day contract; do well in the mattering of games during that short time period, and you might win a spot on the rotation for the rest of the season. It's a true underdog setup that then spins out into regular team meetings, chats with your coach, practice sessions, contract negotiations, team-mates finding out about you entertaining the notion of signing with a another team, squabbles about playing opportunities, clashes with other rookies and players, all in the quest to become the greatest player you can be.

NBA 2K15 Review | A Sporting Soap Opera

It's rather intoxicating stuff, aided by more fully-featured voice work from the characters you'll meet along the way. It must be said, however, that few NBA players have the acting chops of Shaq, and the monotonous drawl of the likes of Terrence Ross and Andre Drummond, not to mention the interesting timing of some lines that VC clearly didn't have the time to record twice, can make dialogue exchanges inadvertently hilarious.

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CLOSED! FREE Warlock II: The Exiled – Great Mage Edition! Five codes up for grabs!

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Dealspwn
Tags:
Competitions, Freebies, PC games, Strategy games, Warlock 2: The Exiled

CLOSED! FREE Warlock II: The Exiled – Great Mage Edition! Five codes up for grabs!

The Warlock II expansion pack "Wrath of the Nagas" is out this week, and to celebrate, we've been given five codes for Warlock II: The Exiled - Great Mage Edition, which features pretty much everything you need in order to get up and running with the hextacular strategy game. Here's what I said about Ino-Co's sequel in my review:

Warlock II: The Exiled is a game that stands on the shoulders of its predecessor rather than blazing a trail, but that's okay. What Ino-Co have given us here is an incredibly solid, hex-based strategy title that provides a great entry point to the series (and the genre, to be honest), with enough here to keep fans engaged for several thousand turns.

Sounds pretty good, right? It's the sort of game that, while not spectacular, is a great entry point for genre newcomers, and will easily become a major timesink. And you can nab it for free. Here's what to expect from the the Great Mage Edition:

  • Warlock II: The Exiled - the game
  • Soundtrack for Warlock - Master of Arcane
  • Soundtrack for Warlock II: The Exiled
  • Digital Novel - The Great Mage Game - A story of action, intrigue and wizardry, set in the Warlock universe. Written by acclaimed fantasy and sci-fi author John Helfers.
  • Digital Artbook - 42 full-color pages of beautiful artwork from the Warlock 2 game: Great Mages, Environments and Units

There are also seven in-game items included with the bundle:

  • Domain of Death - Start your quest in the land of the dead!
  • Magic is Fun - The lord known as The Magical Genius is available to your cause!
  • Elementary, My Dear - Adds three new deadly elemental spells to your arsenal towards world domination!
  • Chants of Light - Gives access to three new magical powers, including a powerful Lord Summoning ability!
  • Frost Power - A former Great Mage who seeks retribution offer his services to you!
  • Half-of-Everyone - Nobody knows him, but this Jack-of-all-Trades can be the best ally by your side!
  • Ancient Dragon - A new Great Mage - the Ancient Dragon - joins the fray, and wants to show who is the greatest mage of all! Start as a huge almighty dragon who does not need any starting city. Be your own capital and conquer everything you want!

We've got five codes for Warlock II: The Exiled - Great Mage Edition. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to pop a comment in the box below (apologies that the Chrome login bug is still an issue) telling us what you'd want to be called if you were a Great Mage. What name would you go by? What moniker would you choose for yourself? Make it inventive, keep it moderately clean, definitely abuse the English language for excellent and cringeworthy puns, just let us know in the comments.

We'll close the competition this Friday at 11:59am BST and email out the codes the same day!

Winners will be notified and sent their code to the email address associated with their Dealspwn account, so please make sure to use a valid email address. Good luck!

Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Keyboard Review | The Backlight Fantastic

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Corsair, Corsair Gaming, Hardware reviews, K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard, Keyboard, PC accessories

Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Keyboard Review | The Backlight Fantastic

I'm a big fan of Corsair's mechanical keyboards. When I bought my current gaming rig last year, I slapped down some cash for the Vengeance K90 Performance MMO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, with its programmable "G" buttons (that I've still never used, mainly due to the paucity of MMOs in my gaming diet), adjustable blue backlighting, Cherry MX switches, anti-ghosting, and USB pass-through. I give my hardware a true hammering too, and the robust nature of Corsair's stuff is why I keep coming back to them.

Mechanical keyboards and backlit models are nothing new, but few have attempted to bring the very best of both worlds together. Until now (alongside Razer's Black Widow Chroma, that is). Ladies and gents, say hello to the rebranded Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard -- a piece of kit that mixes the durability and functionality of the old K70 with a disco ball. It might just be the most snazzy piece of hardware I've ever owned.

The K70 RGB mirrors its non-RGB predecessor in many ways. Last year's K70 was an outstanding piece of kit, and at first glance, this model seems to be its equal in every way. Both models utilise the same chassis and brushed aluminium faceplate, the same keycaps and 10-key number pad, and neither offer up the option of those programmable macro keys to be found on the K90 or new K95 RGB. The multimedia buttons are still in place too, and Corsair have kept the volume roller, which is much more preferable to the usual two-button setup. Also retained from the older model are the illumination level and gaming mode buttons, with the latter locking up Windows shortcuts like Alt-Tab, should you want to game away without fear of frantic mishaps should you accidentally mash the wrong buttons.

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Daily Bite: Sunlight

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Funnies
Tags:
Daily Bite

See, the reason I don't go outside is because there's a giant ball of fire in the sky waiting to cook me and fire invisible rays of cancer at me.

Also wasps.

Minecraft: The Noob #2 - A Battle in the Skies

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Minecraft, Videos

Minecraft: The Noob #2 - A Battle in the Skies

After falling down a hole in last week's Hunger Games video, this week it's all about Sky Wars -- a game mode where everyone starts on their own little floating island and fights to become the last person standing.

True to form, the first thing I go and do is fall in a hole. Great.

I've discovered that I desperately need practice in terms of the basics when it comes to Minecraft, and that it always helps to have a crafting guide open on a second screen. This week's efforts are riddled with failure, but we also have our first taste of victory, and I follow Deadpool around demand that he gives me his skin.

Minecraft: The Noob #2 - A Battle in the Skies

It's all rather surreal.

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On #Gamergate - Communication not conflict is the only way forwards now

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Gamergate

On #Gamergate - Communication not conflict is the only way forwards now

Back in 1999, gamers banded together to demand an end to the accusation by mainstream media that violent video games were in some ways to blame for that decade's school shootings. Fifteen years on, just last week, and a woman due to give a speech at a university cancels the event in light of security measures implemented to prevent threat of a "Montreal Massacre" style attack. Her crime? Making feminist videos critiquing video games.

In the past week, the New York Times ran a front page story that put Sarkeesian's cancellation of her university talk due to a "massacre" threat in the same sentence as movement known as Gamergate. The Washington Post, and The Guardian weighed on it too. Sarkeesian appeared in Rolling Stone and Newsweek following the pulled event, her name in the ascendancy once more, largely thanks to the same anonymous abusers who would see her silenced. The mainstream media saw a woman who talks about sexism in games being hounded by anonymous sexist trolls online, and #Gamergate creator Adam Baldwin questioning her abuse and belittling her experiences in since-deleted Tweets. The mainstream media made a broad connection and had themselves a field day. Deja vu.

I'm fed up with all of this. I'm fed up of having a pastime and an identity that I treasure and believe in dragged through the mud because people would rather sling abuse and trade insults and invent "sides" and cling to a social media construct rather than engage in meaningful communication. This all started with a break-up made public and (unfounded) allegations of a developer sleeping with a journalist for positive coverage, and it has developed into a nebulous movement that has attracted all sorts -- from criminals to anonymous trolls, from disgruntled gamers determined to strike back against a press that has seemingly abandoned them to right-wing opportunists with a passing interest in games and a greater interest in scandal, from lifelong gamers protective of their sub-cultural identity to moderates who have tried to steer the conversation around to real talk about representation and ethical standards and how we all need to take a long hard look at ourselves.

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Click To Play | Assembots - Robo-Lemmings

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Assembots, Browser games, Click To Play, PC games

Click To Play | Assembots - Robo-Lemmings

Welcome back to Click To Play , the new-old regular series that takes a look at a new browser-based curio each week to further the fine art of procrastination. We accept absolutely no responsibility if you get caught at work/school/uni gloriously wasting time on the games listed here when you should be working.

This week: Assembots

Assembots is basically what you'd get if you crossed robots with Lemmings.

Each stage sees you attempting to guide a certain number of robots from one factory to the next and, just like the eponymous heroes of Lemmings, your mechanical chums in this will simply trundle forwards until you give them a new instruction or they hit a wall. The game eases you into things with a smattering of commands available from a horizontal array at the bottom of the screen, and to begin with you'll dig through dirt walls and platforms, climb walls, and turn into stationary pillars that can be used to activate switches and prevent robots from hurling themselves off of cliffs. You'll only have a limited number of these commands, however, so it's important to think carefully before applying them to a robot -- you simple click the command (or use the hotkeys) and then click the robot you want to apply it to.

Click To Play | Assembots - Robo-Lemmings

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Daily Bite: Aliens Isolation

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Funnies
Tags:
Daily Bite

The Xenomorph doesn't play nice with other aliens either.

Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
DriveClub, Game Buzz, Hatred, Indie Games, Microsoft, Podcast, PWNCAST, Xbox One Games

Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93

This week, we deal with Driveclub's latest woes and ask how big games sites can justify early reviews for online games, we chat about Microsoft's continued defence of their indie parity clause, and we take a look at the announcement for the rather controversial Hatred.

Game Buzz | Episode 93 - Driveclub Is A Shambles. Recorded 17th October, 2014.

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93 Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93Xbox indie parity makes for second-class gamers - Game Buzz #93

F1 2014 Review | Old Model, Missing Parts

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Codemasters Racing, F1 2014, PC games, PS3 games, Racing Games, Xbox 360 games

F1 2014 Review | Old Model, Missing Parts

The big question to be posed to the latest in a line of yearly, iterative games is always "what's new?" People won't drop fifty quid for a game that makes the odd cosmetic change or just swaps old rosters for new. We like progression, we like to envisage some sort of movement forwards in the quest to create the most authentic, awesome representation of a sport or pastime, as if there's a perfect goal to be reached that yearly series creep closer to each year.

Of course, when a new batch of consoles have been released, but you're still tethered to the old bunch, I would imagine that keeping up, let alone trying to improve in meaningful fashion, can seem like a Sisyphean task. Unfortunately, in a year where games are shinier and sparkier than in previous ones, you have to make some strides in terms of gameplay.

F1 2014 Review | Old Model, Missing Parts

Sadly, F1 2014 doesn't really do that. In fact, in many ways it does the exact opposite.

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