Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Are you sick and tired of JRPGs leading you by the nose from cutscene to cutscene? Do you hear the call of adventure, but crave the thrill of fast and fluid combat? Do you own a PlayStation Vita?
If you answered 'yes' on all counts, Ys: Memories Of Celceta probably deserves to make its way onto your shopping list. This ground-up remake of Ys 4 puts us into the well-worn boots of Adol Cristin, which are definitely made for walking. Having found himself in a frontier town on the edge of civilization with a convenient case of amnesia, the rakish explorer discovers that he lost his memories while mapping the legendary forest of Celceta, so teams up with an old friend and plunges back into the unknown. With little save a sword, a mercenary information dealer and a blank map for company, the scene is set for a genuine adventure.
Celceta is an enormous tract of land, an intricate and confusing labyrinth of glades, swamps, tunnels and ruins that's somewhat reminiscent of a massively expanded Monster Hunter title. Most JRPGs would immediately funnel you down a preset path, but Memories Of Celceta is cut from a different cloth, simply thrusting an empty map into your hands and suggesting, perhaps, that you ought to check over there when you have the time. Most of the game simply revolves around the satisfaction of filling this map in, of discovering new areas, new places, new faces and eventually piecing Adol's memory back together.
And romping through hordes of foes with one of the most responsive combat systems we've seen from the series yet, if not the entire sub-genre in recent years.Click here to read more...
So this is what seasonal filler looks like.
We reviewed the original Dead Nation back in 2010, and Brendan handed out a very fair 6/10 score and made note of the fact that Housemarque's top-down Left 4 Dead rip-off was enjoyable but repetitive, made better by playing it with a chum. Zombies were enjoying something of a popular resurgence back then -- they've never fallen out of fashion, but there are pockets where the jadedness vanishes and they become hot property once more. But now, in a world four years on, the release of a super HD version of what was already a pretty derivative title, falls a little flat.
For those who missed it the first time around, Dead Nation is a fairly capable twin-stick shooter that sees players exploring a dingy, dark, post-apocalyptic urban space crawling with the undead, across ten stages of shadowy, score-attack action. Or should that be survival-horror? This was a problem that I had with the original game -- I never felt that the survival aspects married up particularly well with the rather more Housemarque-esque arcade, twin-stick action.
The game itself hasn't really changed much at all, so I won't rehash Brendan's review here. If you didn't get on with Dead Nation last time, there's little to get excited about here. But fans of the base game and PS4 owners desperate to squeeze every last drop out of that PlayStation Plus subscription will be pleased to know that the Road to Redemption DLC is thrown in here for the Apocalypse Edition, which adds in the Arcade and Endless modes for good measure, making the tradeoff between risk and reward even more important -- do you risk everything for a greater score, even if you're under-equipped? A new Challenge mode is also featured, allowing you to go head-to-head against your friends, beaming their avatars into your game for a spot of competitive action in order to boost your leaderboard position.Click here to read more...
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
This generation of consoles hasn’t had the best run for licensed tie-ins or traditional RPG experiences. And now, as it winds to a close, the two genres get one last chance in an odd-sounding hybrid. A South Park RPG.
How do you fit South Park into an RPG experience? Simple, just have the kids pretending to be on an epic adventure with elves, mages, wizards and warriors. Adults may know it as LARPing (Live Action Role Playing (like in the movie Role Models), but to the kids of South Park, they’re simply playing outside.
You play as the new kid in town and are able to create your own South Park avatar from scratch, which is an excellent way to get us in the game. For story reasons, it wouldn’t have made sense for us to pick one of the show’s usual four characters.
Cartman has recruited you to his side in the war against the elves for the titular Stick of Truth –yep, it’s just a stick on a velvet cushion. It’s twice as silly as it sounds, but the one-liners and ‘I’m going to hell for laughing at that’ moments come at you at a steady pace, ensuring near constant amusement. Parker and Stone’s presence can be felt throughout the game’s core and it’s such a relief that the humour and style has been nailed so well as this could have so easily been a bog standard RPG with South Park characters painted in.Click here to read more...
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare has no right to be any good. It's everything we're supposed to hate: the corruption of a beloved franchise into yet another multiplayer shooter. Peashooters, zombie workmen and Sunflowers trade charming tower defence for ironsights and circle-strafing, more casualties of the war on wallets that never changes.
So I'm genuinely delighted to report that, despite all odds, Garden Warfare is a rather lovely little thing! PopCap may lack experience with the gritty genre, but their unsullied innocence allowed them to inject fun, happiness, colour and real personality into what's often a crushingly drab shooting gallery. Sunflowers and zombies merrily flounce and flail around some vibrant maps, working together to push the simple objectives or 'vanquish' as many foes as possible. It's easily the most stress-free and family friendly shooter out there, eschewing K/D ratios, sprinting, gore and microtransactions to create a safe and relaxing environment for newcomers to enjoy.
Don't mistake a cheerful and casual approach for a lack of depth, however. Behind the smiles lies an impeccably unbalanced set of classes and abilities that can cater for any play style. Often you'll find me sniping flowers from rooftops as a mobile zombie foot soldier, whereas much of my time is spent ruthlessly stalking my undead prey from beneath the Earth, hunting my quarry as they vainly flee in abject terror, only to meet their grisly demise as I smash through the tarmac and devour them whole with razor-sharp fangs.
I am Chomper! I am Death! And I am having an absolute blast with Garden Warfare, even if I might not be able to recommend it quite as highly as I'd like.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed) | Xbox One
Developers: Ubisoft Montpellier
After being utterly smitten with the next-gen re-release of Tomb Raider last month, I was keen to see how last year’s rather tasty Rayman Legends fared on the next-gen machines too. Well, there’s good news and bad news.
There’s a strong argument that that Rayman Legends looks exactly the same on the new consoles as it does on the older ones and there’s no truly relevant new material. But on the other hand, shop around and you can currently buy it for only £7 more than the last-gen version, meaning you don’t have to spend much to finally play a decent platformer on your PS4 or Xbox One.
You’re probably wondering what else you’re getting with the new version? The most-welcome addition is the removal of loading screens, creating a seamless experience between levels. You can probably expect cramp a bit sooner too. Each platform has unique unlockable characters influenced by Ubisoft’s other franchises. The PS4 gets Assassin Ray while the Xbone has Splinter Ray, Ray Vaas, Globox Vaas and some exclusive challenge stages. PS4 gamers can use the DualShock 4’s trackpad to take screenshots or scratch the Lucky Ticket scratchcards and they can play the game on their Vita’s via remote access. If you’re trying to save hard-drive space, the install size from a disc for the PS4 version is 9GB compared to the Xbox One’s 4.3GB.Click here to read more...
Developer: Double Helix Games
Strider is the best game that Double Helix have ever made.
The bar was admittedly scraping along the ground, since their mediocre past form includes the likes of Battleship, Front Mission Evolved and that shocking Green Lantern tie-in. But be in no doubt: their suitably challenging and respectful remake of Capcom's classic slice & dice platformer is very good indeed, and worthy to bear the name. As soon as master assassin Hiryu goofily cartwheels over a crowd of robotic rifleman, flips off a wall and carves his first foe into tiny pieces, its pedigree is unmistakeable.
When Strider is content to be a faithful reboot, it's really rather brilliant. Having arrived in the sprawling city of Kazakh to murder its evil 'Grandmaster' and bring peace to the world with ultraviolence, Hiryu is as spry and blisteringly fast as we remember, barrelling through the corridors in a blur of precisely-aimed steel and perfectly-timed wall jumps. Packing a climbing sickle that can scale any surface, robotic combat enhancements and even a teleporter, he's a force to be reckoned with, but the Grandmaster's robot army and mercenary henchmen will give him a retro-tough run for his money.Click here to read more...
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
As someone who enjoyed The Last Of Us (perhaps significantly more than our on-site review) I was both excited and rather nervous about Left Behind. After all, getting your money’s worth out of DLC has always been a hot topic here on Dealspwn, and buying season passes ahead of time has added further fuel to that fire (and is something we really, really suggest you do not do – wait for the content to be revealed and reviewed first to avoid disappointment.) Thankfully, Left Behind provides a delicate and engrossing look at Ellie’s life before she met Joel in an extra chapter that fans of The Last Of Us should absolutely get hold of.
With that rather stark and quite upfront endorsement, let’s explain why I feel that is the case. It should come as no surprise that the narrative aspects of The Last Of Us are as strong as ever in Left Behind, with the optional environmental interactions once again bringing a very human touch between the traversal and action sequences. This time around, the subject of lost innocence and growing up in a world gone to hell is the main focus, as Ellie’s relationship with her best friend Riley reaches a critical turning point. It should come of no surprise that the script is of a high standard, but it is the performances by Ashley Johnson and Yanni King that make each interaction between the two a highlight of the DLC.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Sorcery Saga: Curse Of The Great Curry God is cute as a button. Everything is colourful, upbeat and utterly adorable, as our cheerful heroine sets out on a quest to save her favourite curry shop with her roly-poly, fuzzy-wuzzly, cuddly-wuddly pink pal Kuu. From the merrily-frolicking Chickmunks (chicken + chipmunks... awww!) to the bop-along background music, the whole thing is delightful and disarming.
It's a trap, of course, but at least I was ready this time. Having reviewed the likes of Fortune Summoners and Eryi's Action, I've learned an important rule about localised Japanese games: the more adorable and disarming the art direction, the rougher its ruthlessly hardcore gameplay will spank you.
Sorcery Saga is no exception, using its beguiling charms to disguise a tough and rewarding roguelike that joins a burgeoning cult library on the PlayStation Vita. If you like your curry hot and your games hardcore, this might be your tikka to gaming pleasure.Click here to read more...
Publisher: Marvelous AQL Europe | Zen United
At face value, Senran Kagura Burst is essentially a 3D boob delivery system.
Legend has it that game director Kenichiro Takaki only needed thirty seconds to decide what gamers secretly wanted to see on the 3DS' stereoscopic top screen. Jiggling breasts. Thus Senran Kagura was born, a franchise designed to relay cleavage from the art designers' mucky minds to our eyeballs as efficiently as possible. The story revolves around a team of ninjas-in-training who conveniently also happen to be schoolgirls, sporting implausibly ample bosoms, with a penchant for flashing their underwear and eating enormous California Rolls in the most unnecessarily provocative ways possible. More cheeky, tame and cringeworthy than degrading, Takaki might as well have called it Carry On Shinobi. I genuinely expected Kenneth Williams to make a cameo ("ooh, Matron-san!").
As you'd expect, Senran Kagura Burst has attracted a fair amount of flack from pundits convinced that it actively harms the videogame industry, while import fans flock to the defence. It's easy to appreciate both sides of the debate, and I'll personally weigh in later on, but first we need to discuss something rather more important.
See, all the heaving lady lumps disguise a surprisingly capable handheld brawler built on a bouncy, outstanding combat system. Though perhaps I could have phrased that better.Click here to read more...
Platform: Xbox One (£7.99)
Developer: Capcom Vancouver
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
You've got to feel sorry for Hunter Thibodeux. Before being pummelled and burned to a crisp by Nick Ramos in the first Dead Rising 3 boss battle, the hapless motorcycle gang leader spent his last hour on Earth undertaking fetch quests, smashing up emergency telephone booths, then doing another few fetch quests for a fistful of extra PP. Beneath his posturing and facepaint, he's basically a golden retriever with a mohawk, wagging his tail as he does everything his masters tell him.
It's such a waste, because this was Capcom Vancouver's golden opportunity to finally give us a decent slice of DLC. The groundwork's laid perfectly: you play as a boss character who's well-placed to enjoy the zombie carnage. He's out for a rip-roaring revenge story. You get to ride the outrageous offspring of a Harley Davidson and the Sea Drill from Tomorrow Never Dies. What could go wrong?
Pretty much everything, as it turns out. If you needed further proof that season passes are an idiotic waste of money, here's Chaos Rising with a textbook example of rushed, rehashed content that was pushed out to order with the minimum possible effort.Click here to read more...
Sneaking about The City -- creeping from shadowy corners to rain-soaked rooftops, gliding about this Victorian-esque urban warren in the periphery of the guards' vision, always just out of sight -- is a wonderful thing. I'd turned off pretty much every modern concession to the expansive approach to stealth gaming gimmickry that I could find, and wiped my HUD clean of maps and modules to aid the process of immersion. I love first-person games that don't limit themselves to shooty-shooty-bang-bang action, gifting players the chance to more fully explore virtual landscape with out the barrier of staring constantly at the protagonist's arse (it's why I fell in love with Thief: The Dark Project in the first place, sixteen years ago), and the fact that Eidos Montreal's reboot allows me to do that if wonderful.
Waypoints were the first to go, encouraging me to explore further, to use the sights and sounds of The City to aid my navigation, to read letters and documents more carefully and to more fully absorb the information the game was giving me. Turning off so many of these features led me to realise just how lazy a gamer I have become, and how much I seem to rely on map icons to tell me where the interesting things are rather than discovering them for myself.
But then I spent half an hour trying to look for the route from one area of town to another, finding rooftops inaccessible, windows and gates firmly shut, and no visible way through. Then I remembered that Thief's City is broken up into depressingly small hubs separated by incessant QTE-powered bridges, even when it comes to the PS4 and Xbox One versions. So I stood in front of a nondescript bunch of barrels and beams and hammered the Square button for half a minute.
Herein lies the uneasy relationship at the heart of Thief: a worthy game, a good game in parts, undone by restrictive design and what seems, rather too often, to be a case of running out of time.Click here to read more...
Developers: Mercury Steam
Hundreds of years after Gabriel Belmont’s journey began; we’re here to witness the grand finale as we see him return as Dracula, to take on Satan and his acolytes one last time in the hope of finally finding peace and an escape from his immortal torment.
If the events of the original Lords of Shadow, the expansion DLC and Mirror of Fate are a little faded in your memory, there’s a summative cutscene early on to bring you back up to speed. Robert Carlyle and Patrick Stewart reprise their roles from the first game, attempting to add as much brooding and grandiosity respectively as possible. And lots of hammy dialogue so cringe worthy, it’ll give you a sore neck.
There’s also a recurring theme of Gabriel’s humanity trying to break through the darkness, aided by some touching scenes with spectres of his loved ones. Bosses are well characterised too, with one in particular haunting my thoughts long after with the echoes of gentle sobbing receding through the corridors of the castle as I left them with their shattered realisation of what they had been become.
A notable change for this sequel is the modern setting, which adds so little to the experience, but loses so much. Expect gritty streets, grey concrete corridors, factories and sewers galore. These settings are as dull as they sound and it’s a real relief when the Castlevania of old turns up and we get to see some castles. That said, even the gothic locales lack the impressive scale of the original LOS. With the whole game set indoors, or during overcast/nigh time conditions, it’s a gloomy affair throughout and detail seems left to to hide in the shadows.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
What could inspire high school students to murder each other in cold blood? Fear? Financial gain? Honour? Despair?
This isn't a rhetorical question, because you'll have to work it out for yourself -- then prove it beyond all doubt -- to avoid grisly death at the paws of a sadistic robot teddy bear. After average student Makoto Naegi blacks out on the first day of attending his new school, he wakes up confined within the academy's walls for all eternity with his new classmates, who are offered only a single way out: commit a perfect murder, then get away with it. Surely the students will see the wisdom in peacefully working together to solve the mystery of their incarceration... right?
If only. Halfway between Phoenix Wright, Persona, Corpse Party and Virtue's Last Reward, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is one of the best (and most disturbing) visual novels to ever hit British shores, and easily one of the most compelling games on the PS Vita so far. If not the year so far, as long as you're comfortable with the differences between a visual novel and a traditional adventure game.
Important note: in an effort to avoid spoilers as much as humanly possible, I'm severely limited in my choice of screenshots. Be aware that the full game features graphic yet stylised depictions of brutal violence and mature themes. - JonathanClick here to read more...
Publisher: Reef Entertainment
Surprise! Rambo is not a good game.
We knew that already. Its disastrous hype campaign explicitly told us to lower our expectations, with every new trailer and screenshot more hilariously awful than the last. We came down on it like a ton of bricks over the last few months, hard and often, having a good laugh in the process.
But that's not why we're here, because Rambo: The Video Game doesn't necessarily have to be big, clever, deep, thoughtful or even particularly good in an objective sense. When you get right down to brass tacks, it only has to be fun.
Which puts me in the strange position of having to say "mission accomplished"... at least, with some enormous caveats.Click here to read more...
Developer: Neon Studios
Publisher: Nordic Games
Looking at gaming’s release schedule, you may notice one genre in particular doesn't seem to have anything on the horizon - the action platformer. Has the flop of Knack on the PS4 put developers off making new ones? Until someone says otherwise, it would seem that the best way to get our fix is to look backwards.
Fortunately, I've been saved a visit to my local preowned store and plugging my PS2 into a modern TV (scart lead consoles on HD TV's look horrendous) thanks to PS2 title, Legend of Kay being released in digital form on PS3. This isn't an HD remake, but to be honest, time has been kind to the game and it still looks good today. Widescreen and 60Hz support helps too.
The game sees you star as Kay, a young cat keen to become a great warrior. His village has been long occupied by the invading forces of rats and gorillas and he's decided the rebellion starts with him. There's a bit of an old Kung Fu movie vibe to the story, but as the animal characters may have already given away, it's watered down for the younger players.
Gameplay is a mix of platforming and swordplay. Kay's fresh out of training, and picks up a few skills on his travels. Be warned though, there’s no guide in the pause menu. So pay attention during those tutorials, because despite the child-friendly visuals, this game will kick your ass given half a chance.Click here to read more...
Platform: PC (£3.99, Steam)
Developer: Rail Slave Games
Publisher: Kiss Ltd
//N.P.P.D. RUSH// feels like a game you'd usually find on an unmarked floppy disc freshly unearthed from the attic, and that's no bad thing.
Hailing from Welsh bedroom coder Dylan Barry, this retro-themed shooter is as brash and experimental as its title suggests. We assume the role of a drug-addled junkie grafted onto a cybernetic police bike, tasked with collecting fellow female Nox addicts for their body parts in a three-level cyberpunk city ruled by the evil villain Ultra Violet. During which time we'll sell our internal organs for pocket change, indulge in bullet hell shooting, spend several minutes clicking on a low-resolution picture of a woman's face and rock out to some crunchy riffs. All while having our retinas brutally assaulted by the mad visual lovechild of a ZX Spectrum and good old Teletext.
As such, //N.P.P.D. RUSH// -- which we'll refer to without those awkward slashes from now on -- merrily does its own thing and doesn't particularly care whether you like it or not.
I've actually fallen in love with it, perhaps in spite of my better instincts.
Click here to read more...
"EDF! EDF! EDF!"
No-one can resist the call to arms. Eight long years have passed since the brave lads and lasses of the Earth Defense Force kicked the Ravagers off the planet in a deliciously silly battle royale, but now the ravening aliens are back for another round with some new toys, a massive fleet and more genetically modified killer insects the size of Transit vans. It's time we locked, loaded and deployed back into the fight to make a right royal mess of things.
Like the superlative Earth Defense Force 2017, Sandlot's long-awaited sequel is technically a terrible game. Sporting graphics that wouldn't overly tax a PS2, primitive animations, shuddering frame rates, clumsy controls and B-Movie production values, there's a case to be made that Earth Defense Force 2025 is truly awful, or at best, "so bad, it's good."
Not so, because even the best part of a decade on, it's hard to find a game that does a better job of making you feel like you're in the middle of a massive alien invasion... and your own personal creature feature.
Click here to read more...
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Shigeru Miyamoto has always wanted to make a game about submarines, and there's nothing anyone can do to stop him.
We love the idea -- after all, the mighty sub really doesn't get the attention it deserves, beyond Silent Hunter -- but Steel Diver didn't set the gaming world on fire back in 2011. We enjoyed its bonkers side-scrolling depth-charging gameplay as far as it went... which turned out to be about thirty minutes thanks to the ludicrously short campaign, so I must admit to loosing an exasperated growl when Miyamoto announced a sequel to his pet project.
However, Sub Wars is a very different beast from the niche original: a first-person free-to-play multiplayer arcade submarine simulator. As such, it's the best one of those on the (any?) platform by default, but is it actually worth your time and an optional £8.99 premium upgrade?
Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed) | Xbox One | PC
With the Christmas release schedule being so packed, some games slips through the cracks. But here at Dealspwn it's never too late to give you a verdict on a game. After all, in these modern times developers are able to add patches to their games to fix issues that may have been around at launch. The next-gen launch versions of Battlefield 4 on PS4 and Xbox One had a few teething issues, so maybe time (and a few patches) have proved to be a great healer. I’m about to find out as I dive into Battlefield 4 on the PS4.
Let’s get straight to it. Battlefield 4's single player campaign is better than Battlefield 3's, but still way behind the Bad Company games. For those of you kind enough not to have scrolled down to the multiplayer part of the review already, I'll tell you why.
The story is your usual military shooter fluff. A group of US soldiers must prevent World War III, with the Chinese and Russians playing the villains. Your AI partners largely come across as dicks, but that wouldn't be so bad if they could hit a barn door with their weapons. Enemies can be tagged with some fancy goggles, allowing you to track their position even when behind walls. Teammates can be ordered to focus fire on these targets and eventually they bag a few. But make no mistake; this is one-man-army territory.
On the plus side, some of the more infuriating missions from the last campaign are gone, such as escorting wounded soldiers. There are less instant failures and cheap deaths too. Generally, it's just not as goddamned annoying as the last game.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita (£5.49)
"Yes, yes, yes, YES!"
TxK is a thing of exquisite beauty. Veteran retronaut Jeff Minter has built a career on perfecting the art of tightly-designed, nostalgic yet forward-thinking arcade shooters, culminating in this hypnotic fusion of eye candy and pitch-perfect twitch gameplay. It's the ultimate evolution of classic arcade game Tempest, trading cabinets and curious spinning knobs for the sleek thumbsticks and gorgeous OLED screen of the PlayStation Vita. If you've ever played any of the superb Tempest sequels or Llamasoft's psychedelic Space Giraffe on XBLA, you'll know broadly what to expect as you rotate around 100 vector tunnels, blasting waves of foes as they inexorably advance down the lanes towards your fragile ship.
After hours of play, however, it reminds me most heavily of a memorable Star Trek: TNG epsiode, wherein the entire crew end up addicted to an abstract vector videogame that titillates their senses and stimulates their pleasure centres. I sympathise, because once TxK starts pumping itself directly into your brain, you won't want to put your Vita down.
Not a sentence we get to say often enough, in all honesty.Click here to read more...