I don't often start a preview with a disclaimer, but when a publisher invites you to Brands Hatch for a day behind the wheel, I suppose you probably ought to mention it. Within minutes of emerging from the pedestrian tunnel, I found myself abusing the traction control of a beefy BMW and taxing the patience of a trained racing driver as he patiently -- oh so very patiently -- explained where I probably ought to be braking and hitting the apex to avoid going all kinds of sideways.
This might sound like an old-school journalistic junket, but when I traded the real thing for the PS4 version of Project CARS, on the same track in the same weather conditions, I discovered that it was actually my training.
See, Project CARS is designed to be more than a soulless simulator. It may be underpinned by reams of official engineering specifications and raw data, but every facet of the game has been pored over and tweaked by real racing drivers to give it the human touch. As such, every piece of advice I received on the track was instantly and completely relevant in the game, while the virtual course looked and felt like the real thing.
It's the sort of authentic design philosophy that could well put Project CARS into pole position this Christmas, even as it stares down the barrel of Driveclub and Forza Horizon 2. The fact that it's drop-dead gorgeous, VR compatible, 12K-ready and powered by next-gen tech is probably not going to hurt either.Click here to read more...
Confession time – when it was announced I didn’t give much hope to Shadow of Mordor, despite the cool premise that was being presented to me. “An Assassin’s Creed style game set in an open world Middle Earth? There have been worse ideas,” I thought to myself, but it was the reveal of the Nemesis system that piqued my interest. “If it’s exactly as they’re saying it will be, that could be very interesting” was my response. A game where your villains change every time you play or make a decision? I chalked it down to the overhyping of a system that created the illusion of choice and an elaborate AI army, and went about my business.
But then I went to Gamescom and saw the Nemesis system in action. It’s real folks. It actually works, and it’s going to be the stuff of YouTube gold.
Before we get into it though, here’s a quick round-up of everything else that was shown and told to us during the presentation. The game will take place directly after the third Hobbit film The Battle of Five Armies, filling the gap between the recent films and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. As Sauron’s forces begin their invasion, they wipe out the Rangers of the North protecting Gondor, including Talion – the main character for the game. (Un)luckily for him, a wraith brings him back to life who turns out to be the spirit of Celebrimbor – the Elf king who forged the rings of power that led to this entire mess in the first place. As such, the player will assume control of both Talion and Celebrimbor in a quest for revenge against the Dark Lord’s forces.Click here to read more...
Plugging official specifications and tyre data into your racing game is all well and good, but Project CARS promises to go one step further this Christmas by focusing on the human element. As such, Slightly Mad Studios have worked closely with real racing drivers including Nicholas Hamilton, the original Stig and Oliver James Webb, who advise on how the cars actually handle in real life.
Having recently attended a Project CARS preview session at Brands Hatch, I naturally grabbed Oliver Webb for an interview about his input, which has influenced everything from handling minutiae to track design. Plus, seeing as he's currently one of the faces of BAC Mono, naturally we had to chat about the gorgeous British sports car.
Stay tuned for our hands-on preview, and be sure to check out our previous coverage!
Words can't quite explain just how utterly bonkers Bayonetta 2 actually is, so here's a little video showcasing five of the most crazy happenings I've encountered thus far in the game. We can only talk about the game up to chapter five currently, but already I've unleashed a Hellish unicorn, surfed the tunnel of a tsunami on the steeple of a cathedral, stopped a Lumen Sage with an epic fistbump, and seen Black Santa wall-ride a department store in a Cadillac.
I can only apologise for the number of times words fail me in this video and I'm reduced to shouting "WHAT?!" in delighted confusion, but you'll hopefully understand why by the end.
GoD Factory Wingmen is the dictionary definition of an underdog success story. This ambitious, gorgeous and thoroughly intense multiplayer arcade space sim missed its Kickstarter target, but was picked up by Namco Bandai and finally released last Friday.
Spoiler alert: it's awesome. Hectic action goes hand-in-hand with addictive progression and comprehensive ship customisation.
I'm currently working on our full review, but to tide you over, here's the full unedited video of my first space skirmish. Four pilots per team, two carriers, one highway through the danger zone!
Project CARS is looking more exciting (and gorgeous, it must me said) every time we see it - and I managed to scrape an amateurish fourth place during a hands-on race around Brands Hatch.
Be on the lookout for the dynamic weather, which massively affects the driving conditions, handling and visibility. This demo track accelerates the onset of a rainstorm over three laps, so you can judge for yourself.
Oh, and sorry about the glare! I'll have some shinier videos for you soon, along with more in-depth coverage. Did you catch our interview with producer Pete Morrish?Click here to read more...
It's Sunday roundup time folks, where you can find the links to all our features and reviews in one handy place. The previews and interviews are flowing thick and fast again with extensive coverage on the likes of Assassin's Creed: Rogue, Project Cars, Quantum Break, Dreamfall Chapters, Shape Up, Act of Aggression, WildStar, Bayonetta 2 and Pillars of Eternity. Feature pieces see Jon taking some time to re-evaluate what we should expect from the Vita going forwards. Matt shows us what's new in Infamous: First Light. There's a new regular feature that takes a look at the new releases in the week ahead. Only a brief summer vacation stopped me playing much Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition on PS4 this week, but I managed finish the campaign and record a video of the newly unlocked Adventure mode for you. I also had time to put down some thoughts about being tempted towards an Xbox One despite having a PS4.
This was one of the best weeks we've had in a while as far as review scores go, with everyone picking up a decent number of stars. Check out our verdicts for the likes of Metro Redux, Infamous: First Light, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. See you all next week.Click here to read more...
The grass is always greener on the other side. Early on in a new generation of consoles, you usually have to pick between two big rivals. It’s been like that throughout all of my formative gaming years. Sega vs. Nintendo. Nintendo Vs Sony. Sony Vs Microsoft. Whatever side you choose though, chances are your console is going to have a slow start during the first 18 months, especially with development time of the big Triple A titles getting longer and longer.
As a PS4 gamer I’ve had plenty of games to enjoy since launch from exclusives like Infamous and Killzone to the compelling third-party efforts like Assassin’s Creed IV, Wolfenstein the Lego games and more recently Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition. After E3 and Gamescom though, I have to admit I’ve been getting itchy feet and the feeling that I’m missing out by not having an Xbox One, like I said, the grass is always greener and all that.
Sony has kept many of their exclusives under tight wraps, with nothing solid to show yet for Uncharted and The Last Guardian. The constant delays and changing messages of DriveClub haven’t been encouraging and The Order: 1886 is still lacking that special something. And don’t even get me started on the complete silence on the future of the God of War series.
Yet I look over at the Xbox One lineup and I see my beloved Insomniac bringing all the fun to the table with Sunset Overdrive (which I’ve managed to convince myself will be boring after half an hour) when gaming is crying out for a new-gen platformer in the ilk of Ratchet & Clank.Click here to read more...
The new Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition has been devouring our time here at Castle Dealspwn lately. Jon's putting the finishing touches to his review and I recently put together a beginner's tips guide. After getting back from my hols though I've finally been able to finish the campaign mode which, as players of the original version will know, has meant the Adventure mode has finally unlocked.
This part of Diablo III's end-game sees you tasked with bounties or killcount targets to bring in some seriously fat XP and gold rewards, not to mention all sorts of shiny loot. Blood Shards are rare rewards too and also a new currency that allows you to gamble for some exceptionally rare items. So, take a look at my new video and see some early missions and bounties I take on during my first day with Adventure mode. This is also where you earn keystone fragments to unlock the raid-like Rift missions. We'll have some coverage of those soon, although I'm wondering if I had better hit Lv. 70 first.Click here to watch the video.
Just in case I haven't told you yet, because I've got a sneaky suspicion that there are still some people out there who don't own a Wii U and therefore either haven't heard or fully understood the seriousness of what I'm about to say, I bought a Wii U for Bayonetta 2.
I've already waxed lyrical about the game's dual control systems in a previous preview so I won't repeat myself in that sense here. Having now played a large chunk of the game, I have to say that I'm not particularly fond of the touchscreen input for long periods of play (or indeed at all for that matter), but that's because I adore the way the game handles when you're playing it as you would have the original. The swipe and tap inputs essentially turn Bayonetta 2 into the most bonkers smartphone experience you ever laid eyes on, and although it's perfectly poised in that respect to bring in a new audience who want to enjoy the absurd spectacle, it's not really for me.
But that's the joy of choice. Finally, with the difficulty raised above the Easy setting that they must have been flouting months back at the preview event, the standard control system really comes into its own once more. Pirouetting about the place, cartwheeling out of danger before spinning back in for a flurry of attacks is beautifully balletic and gloriously responsive. It's a near perfect setup, the controller really just an extension of your mind. Everything is so fast and fluid that you're just stepping into combos on the fly, mixing and matching button combinations to see what happens, always with a finger delicately poised over the dodge button to take you out of harm's way.Click here to read more...
Everyone keeps telling me that the PlayStation Vita is dead in the water. From our own Brendan Griffiths to James Portnow and co, it's hard to argue with the logic. Sony didn't mention the device once during their Gamescom presser, sales figures are buried in their financial reports and landmark releases have slowed from a trickle to a standstill over the last few months. If Sony hadn't nailed it to the shelves it'd be pushing up the daisies.
But there's a problem. If the PS Vita is floundering and fading as badly as many pundits believe, then why am I constantly spending every minute of my free time reviewing PS Vita games? I'd nail down the coffin lid, only there's so much new software spilling out of it! And I have to finish off my Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited and Danganronpa 2 reviews for tomorrow. And play some more Borderlands 2.
So no, dear reader, the Vita is very much alive. But the idea of the Vita, the whole philosophy behind it and even the reason many of you bought it, has radically changed. It's life, Jim, but not as we [no, stop it - Ed].
Click here to read more...
Quantum Break is still one of the Xbox One's biggest wildcards. Promising to transcend the boundaries between games and television, Remedy's latest creation finally broke gameplay cover at Gamescom, revealing that the creators of Max Payne are still capable of creating a handsome shooter with some nifty slow-motion mechanics.
We had to know more, so naturally I attended the Quantum Break showcase at the first possible opportunity. The lights dimmed. Our guide stepped up to the plate. And Remedy unveiled... an expanded version of the demo we already saw during Microsoft's press conference.
Wonderful, quoth Jonathan sarcastically. However, it's clear that while Quantum Break's gunplay looks rather fun, the time-based puzzling and intriguing transmedia setup are what's really going to set it apart from the crowd. Like Max Payne crossed with Bernard's Watch and Blinx: The Time Sweeper, perhaps.Click here to read more...
I had just spent the last twenty or so minutes watching Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn in action, seeing locations like Europolis brought to life and how the player would interact with the world. As a fan of the series, I was excited. In fact, seeing that the game was so close to a finished state only made me want it sooner. If you haven’t already (and don’t mind a few light spoilers – nothing big, I promise you!) then be sure to check out the gameplay presentation on our YouTube channel. Or watch the embed above. Because convenience.
Once it was over, Creative Director Ragnar Tørnquist & Lead Writer Dag Scheve took some time to discuss a number of topics, such as development, the PS4 announcement, and both the good & bad sides of fandom. Before we get going though, a quick confession – I had originally planned for this to be a video interview, but technological failings on my part meant that we would have to do things the hard way. What this means is that I’ve robbed you of yet another glorious moment of Tørnquist & Scheve posing with Toby the Dealspwny. For that, I am deeply sorry.
2013 was a big year for Red Thread Games. The Kickstarter was a success and development even hit its Alpha milestone on time before the year’s end, but to me the most notable part of the year was JourneyCon. With fans from 17 different countries attending the inaugural event, it was quite the achievement for the Norwegian developers. “It happened!” exclaimed Dag, when I asked how successful they had felt it had been. “We sold out, yeah,” Ragnar began. “That was our prime goal, I think! That and that it was a good event, and it was fun. It was amazing [to learn] where people came from. There was one guy from Oregon [in the US], there was people traveling from all over Europe, there was one guy from New York! People just came in from across the world, and that was great.” Despite this, Ragnar admitted that it was a draining experience “not because of the fans, but because the amount of work it was.” With Book One emerging in the very near future, it’s no wonder he confirmed there wouldn’t be one this year, was hopeful that they would do it again in the future.Click here to read more...
With the recent news that Dreamfall Chapter would be going episodic, and being told that the first part would be with us sooner than the original November date, many fans were eager to see how the project was coming along. There have been a few walkthroughs this year at events, but at Gamescom I was invited to check out a few select scenes from Book One: Reborn. Creative Director Ragnar Tørnquist & Lead Writer Dag Scheve guided me through the developer walkthrough, highlighting the puzzles, exploration, & decision making players will have in the game.
Obviously, there are some light spoilers involved in watching this (although nothing story ruining - I was asked to stop filming at those points!) but if you're curious as to how the game will play, or just want to see Europolis in all its glory, then this video is a must see. Stay tuned to the site later today for our exclusive interview with Ragnar & Dag!
Funded by Kickstarter, assisted by real drivers and powered by impressive cutting-edge graphical tech, Project CARS is set to become an automotive tour de force. After trying out the latest build at 4K resolution and on the Oculus Rift, I caught up with lead producer Pete Morrish for a chat about the new title and what sets it apart from other racers.
Eugen Systems are going back to their roots with their next RTS. Act Of Aggression will serve as a spiritual successor to Act of War, playing much like a classic strategy game of base-building, resource collection and massed conflict with new features and automation. I caught up with Eugen Systems co-founder Alexis Le Dressay for the latest at Gamescom 2014.
Despite being a superb physical specimen myself, thanks to years of training by the biggest names in the business (Fray Bentos, Colonel Sanders, all the greats), I'm always looking for new ways to get fit. Specifically, ways that are actually fun. Shape Up seemed to be the answer when Ubisoft announced it at E3 2014: a lighthearted and very 'gamey' collection of crazy activities with RPG-style progression designed to keep you engaged while burning calories. Xbox One's Kinect sensor ought to be a perfect fit.
So when Gamescom rolled around Matt told me to get plenty of footage of myself... well, rolling around. Unfortunately, live code being a tricky beast, the software was unfortunately bricked.
Never mind, though, because I quickly grabbed Shape Up creative director Charles Huteau for an interview about the game, and what the team thinks about Microsoft's Xbox One U-turn.
Infamous: First Light is out in the US today, and our review went live earlier. Here's what we said about the game:
Infamous First Light packs a whole bunch of content in at a decent price, and fleshes out Second Son's most interesting character in fine fashion, with a sibling story that tugs at the heartstrings thanks to another great performance from Bailey. It's an extension, perhaps, more than an expansion -- more of the same sort of thing, but with a slightly different flavour -- but given how much fun Second Son was, that's no bad thing.
But if you're still uncertain whether or not to buy the standalone prequel to Second Son, here's a little look in more depth at some of the changes you can expect to find playing as Fetch rather than Delsin, along with a video of the game's opening 10 minutes.Click here to read more...
Being a Templar has its perks.
Sure, the Assassins have a noble cause to fight for and a trillion useless collectibles in the vault, but a life on the run wasn't enough for Shay Patrick Cormac. Thankfully the Templars are equal opportunities employers, meaning that even former enemies get immediate access to the latest military technology (including psychotropic drugs and air rifles) subversive experimental gear and insanely generous expense accounts... on the proviso that they agree to track down and murder all their former associates.
And hang out with Haytham Kenway -- who we've already identified as the coolest character in the entire series bar none -- as a bonus. Frankly you'd be mad not to.
Assassin's Creed Unity may be jumping time periods and console generations this Christmas, but for those who haven't yet invested in a PS4, Xbox One or gaming rig, there's still some unfinished business to take care of.Click here to read more...
It's been almost three months since WildStar launched, and the team at Carbine Studios have already dropped two sizable content patches into the game. They're not done yet though, and so to learn a bit more about what is in store for the MMORPG I sat down with Lead System Designer Nick Roth at this year's Gamescom. We get the lowdown on the new zone of the Defile, the first in-game holiday event Shades Eve, and the all-new 5-man dungeon The Ultimate ProtoGames.