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Game of the Year 2015 | Staff Highlights - Carl Phillips

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Game of the Year, Game of the Year 2015

Game of the Year 2015 | Staff Highlights - Carl Phillips

At one point, I thought that 2015 wasn’t going to be a great year for games, but boy was I wrong. Regardless of whatever system you owned, there was something for everyone to enjoy (even the Vita, provided you liked your Japanese imports). It certainly made choosing winners for some of these categories more challenging, that for sure. Anyway, enough banter - here are my picks for this year and the next. Enjoy!

Game of the Year 2015 | Staff Highlights - Carl Phillips

Best New IP – Life Is Strange

I appreciate this won’t be for everyone, but Life Is Strange resonated with me in a rather surprising way. There were some utterly cringe-worthy moments, both in terms of the over-exaggerated Americana vibe and some of the utterly ridiculous dialogue (it was hella bad, y’all) but I got really invested in Max’s adventure. There were honestly times when I forgot there was  a paranormal sub-plot to it all, as I was getting really invested in the characters.

More importantly, it was something that I played with my other half, as both of us agonised over the choices to be made (and, for the record, she chose poorly. Many times.) Admittedly, I did have some issues with way it ended, but the overall journey was something I would very much like DONTNOD to return to again. In short, if you liked adventure games and fancy something new, you should absolutely give this one a look.

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Game of the Year 2015 | Staff Highlights - Brendan Griffiths

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Game of the Year, Game of the Year 2015

Game of the Year 2015 | Staff Highlights - Brendan Griffiths

So, that was 2015. I've reviewed a tonne of games this year and there's plenty to choose from when asked to pick out some favourites. So here are some of the best, the worst and the most memorable moments and games from 2015. There's also a look ahead to 2016's games.

Best new IP - Until Dawn

Man this was a busy category. But ultimately I had to be strict. Bloodborne is a bit too close to Dark Souls to be genuinely considered as a fully new IP. Rocket League is a sequel to the disastrously named Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. If Nintendo hadn't shot themselves in the foot by announcing the NX and killing my desire to buy a Wii U and enjoy some colourful rumblings with Splatoon, I might have gone that way. Lego Dimensions blew it by locking most of its £90 game behind multiple paywalls. Life is Strange was a genuine contender, but that ridiculous release schedule ruined the pacing and the hipster vibe made me want to tear off my own face a little bit too much for comfort.

Anyways, enough apologising, Until Dawn is a worthy winner. It should have been awful, especially after such a prolonged development, but the teen horror version of Heavy Rain was bags of fun. The interactive nature gave the player unprecedented control over the lives of the cast, meaning you could often kill off any characters that got on your nerves. The story could have been pants, but it finely balanced a mix of slasher movie scares with a supernatural twist that gelled together far better than expected. So much more than Hayden Panettiere in a towel. But that too. Until Dawn Review - A night to remember.

Click here too see Brendan's other picks.

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns Interview | Drew Cady & Jerry Schroeder on Sound Design

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
ArenaNet, Audio, Drew Cady, Guild Wars 2, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, Interviews, Jerry Schroeder, MMORPGs, NCsoft, Sound design, Video interviews

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns Interview | Drew Cady & Jerry Schroeder on Sound Design

I've stated many times that I think Guild Wars 2 is a visually pleasing game thanks to its distinctive art style, but I have just as many good things to say about the audio side of things. I'm not just referring to the soundtrack, either, as the sound design is often the unsung hero for ArenaNet's MMORPG. From the sword swing of a Warrior, to the explosive fireball of an Elementalist, to the sounds of a character running over sand - each action has had a sound effect forged for it.

ArenaNet have shown us how these sounds are created in the past - such as when the sound design team played with fire - but today they have released a new video in collaboration with Sennheiser that focuses on the audio effects and ambiance for the Heart of Thorns expansion. Ahead of its release, I was invited to chat with two of ArenaNet's sound designers, Drew Cady and Jerry Schroeder, to learn more about the sound design throughout the Maguuma jungle. While this one is obviously geared at Guild Wars 2 fans, I'd recommend checking it out if you want to learn how sound designers come up with some (frankly ingenious) methods to create audio effects for your favourite games. You can hear the interview in its entirety after the jump!

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Blade & Soul Closed Beta key giveaway - Get yours right now!

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Beta, Blade & Soul, Free, Giveaway, MMORPG, NCsoft

Blade & Soul Closed Beta key giveaway - Get yours right now!

Blade & Soul, the upcoming martial arts inspired MMORPG from NCSOFT, will be launching in Europe on January 19th 2016, but ahead of that they will be running a closed beta test weekend between Friday 18th December (from 6pm GMT) to Monday 21st December. It's the last chance to sample the game before it goes live, and the kind folks at NCSOFT have handed us a bunch of beta keys for the upcoming test. You can learn more about the game, and how to claim your key, by hitting the jump.

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The Game Awards 2015 Wrap-up | The Winners, the reveals, and Konami’s shame

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Awards, Hideo Kojima, Konami, The Game Awards 2015, Trailers, Winners

The Game Awards 2015 Wrap-up | The Winners, the reveals, and Konami’s shame

It’s both anticipated and loathed in equal measure, but The Game Awards returned last night delivering awards, reveals, and marketing (something host Geoff Keighley even mentioned during the show, weirdly.) While it was still very much the same ridiculous spectacle we’ve come to expect, there were actually a few moments of note from the show that weren’t world premieres.

We’ll get to that in due course, as we’ve handily pulled together all the winners and trailers for your perusal after the jump.

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Black Friday 2015 Survival Guide | How to navigate this year’s retail madness

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Sales

Black Friday 2015 Survival Guide | How to navigate this year’s retail madness

Although there have been some pretty tasty deals already, tomorrow marks this year’s Black Friday, with Cyber Monday following soon after. Some of you may have already begun your Christmas shopping, but Black Friday usually signals the moment when retailers really start pushing their best deals. It can often be a lot to take in, but we’ve set up this guide to help you navigate the internet during this time of flash deals and (hopefully) ridiculous bargains.

Black Friday 2015 Survival Guide | How to navigate this year’s retail madness

Black Friday: The Lowdown

Its prominence in the UK rose last year thanks to main high street retailers finally getting involved (and the ludicrous stampedes that occurred) but in case you have yet to learn what Black Friday is we’ve got the lowdown for you below:

What is Black Friday? Black Friday is the first Friday after Thanksgiving (yes, blame the US), and has therefore been a time when many consumers have had the day off and used the freedom to do a spot of Christmas shopping. As a result, many stores began gearing their key sales towards this date, and it's swelled into global retail phenomenon.

Why Black Friday? Perhaps it's because profits start swinging back into the black again around this time of year. Perhaps it's because of the horrors that customer-facing staff see every year as the stampeding hordes approach their doors. Wikipedia posits that the terms originated in Philadelphia, where it was "used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving".

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Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns - Raids Preview with Crystal Reid

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
ArenaNet, Crystal Reid, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, MMORPGs, NCsoft, PC games, Raids

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns - Raids Preview with Crystal Reid

After three weeks of players stomping around the Maguuma Jungle, later today a brand new challenge arrives in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. The first wing of the much anticipated Raid content will become available for brave groups of 10-players to tackle, offering a whole new difficulty level compared to the content that has come before.

I know this because last week I was taken on a virtual tour to meet Gorseval, the first boss of three that await players in the Spirit Vale. With a group of ArenaNet employees at my side, and lead designer Crystal Reid offering me pearls of wisdom and answering my questions over voice comms, I dived in to see if the team had successfully created finely tuned epic encounters that worked with the gameplay Guild Wars 2 is known for. While I hate to paraphrase something from 'that other MMO' in a Guild Wars 2 article, there’s no other way to put it...

I was not prepared.

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns - Raids Preview with Crystal Reid

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Weekly Dealspwn.com Roundup 6th - 18th October 2015

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Features, Game reviews, News, Weekly Roundup

Weekly Dealspwn.com Roundup 6th - 18th October 2015

It's weekly roundup time, folks. Here are your links to the biggest news stories, features and reviews from everything at Dealspwn over the last seven days. Larger articles include reviews for Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, WRC 5 and a preview for Star Wars: Battlefront.

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Star Wars Battlefront Beta Impressions | “Great, kid! Don't get cocky.”

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Beta, Beta Impressions, DICE, EA, PC games, PS4 games, Star Wars: Battlefront, Xbox One Games

Star Wars Battlefront Beta Impressions | “Great, kid! Don't get cocky.”

After an extended weekend of slaughter of Imperials and Rebels – in which 9 million players took part – the Star Wars Battlefront beta ended earlier this week. Giving us a taster of three of the modes available, along with just a handful of customisation options, we all finally sampled the action that will be coming in November. However, with the blasters now silent, the lightsabres no longer massacring people, and the Walkers no longer treading on everyone, it’s given me time to reflect on what the beta showed us.

The first big impression I felt once in-game was that it looked and felt like Star Wars. From the fantastic visuals, to the way characters move, to the sounds of the weaponry, engine roars, and iconic music playing in the background – it’s like we’re actually in the films. The replication of the Battle of Hoth in Walker Assault made me feel like I had been thrown into the start of The Empire Strikes Back, especially as a Rebel. It’s a feeling that I haven’t really had with a Star Wars game since playing through Star Wars: Alliance back in the day, so the Battlefront beta was off to a good start.

Star Wars Battlefront Beta Impressions | “Great, kid! Don't get cocky.”

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Weekly Dealspwn.com Roundup 5th - 11th October 2015

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Features, Game reviews, News, Weekly Roundup

Weekly Dealspwn.com Roundup 5th - 11th October 2015

It's weekly roundup time, folks. Here are your links to the biggest news stories, features and reviews from everything at Dealspwn over the last seven days. I'd added the previous week's features and reviews too as I was away for the roundup last week.

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Cyberpunk 2077 may well be 'bigger' than Witcher 3, but not in the way you think

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
CD Projekt RED, Cyberpunk 2077, Game previews, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Cyberpunk 2077 may well be 'bigger' than Witcher 3, but not in the way you think

In a recent interview with MCV, CD Projekt Red visual effects artist Jose Texeira said: “Cyberpunk is far bigger than anything else that CD Projekt Red has done before. Far, far bigger.”

The first thought that may pop into the head of any Witcher III: Wild Hunt player is probably going to be 'how?' Closely followed by anyone that had to review it with a cry of 'WHY?!' Witcher III is geographically massive. Made up of multiple maps that expand for miles, often requiring a boat to travel to until you unlock fast travel checkpoints. I've still not seen all locations in the game and I've put close to fifty hours in since release. And CDPR are expanding upon it again with the Hearts of Stone DLC later this month.

Cyberpunk 2077 may well be 'bigger' than Witcher 3, but not in the way you think

Do we even want a game that's bigger? I've had my fill of trying to find that damn quest marker over the vast seas surrounding the Skellige islands' map thank you very much. Except, I get a feeling when Texeira says 'bigger' he might not be talking in terms of square miles on a map, or at least I hope he isn't.

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Why you won't miss guns in Far Cry Primal

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Far Cry Primal, PC games, PS4 games, Ubisoft, Xbox One Games

Why you won't miss guns in Far Cry Primal

Far Cry: Primal wants to shake things up. For once, we're seeing an established IP trying something far removed from why it became a success in the first place. The change to a Stone Age setting could be just what the series needs while it takes a break from modern times and guns. In fact, taking the guns away from Far Cry could allow the series' strengths to shine.

Even the way the game was revealed is new for the series. Gone are the E3 demos or year-long waits (or longer). Instead, after a rather dull live stream of a cave painting (which we ignored until it became something to actually talk about), Ubisoft just went ahead announced the game and showed it in action via a new trailer yesterday. The biggest surprise though, was that it will be coming in February next year, just four months from now.

Why you won't miss guns in Far Cry Primal

Development has clearly been going on for a while. Hell, at this stage, it's probably just being polished and checked over. We had a similar late 'reveal' for Fallout 4 and it's great to not have to wait for a year or longer to get our hands on a game. That being said, if every game followed this reveal/release model, games journos would have sod-all to write about most of the year.

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Expect trouble at launch for these remaining 2015 games

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
PC games, PS4 games, Xbox One Games

Expect trouble at launch for these remaining 2015 games

It's that time of year where developers and publishers push themselves to breaking point in order to meet the all-important Christmas shopping release window. Frankly, it's a pattern that crippled many of last year's biggest games. We'd love to think that lessons have been learned, but with another dementedly-packed season lying just ahead, it's not hard to predict that some of the year's biggest remaining games are going to have some serious issues at launch. They're all games we can't wait to play, but we'd certainly advise waiting for the reviews, or maybe holding out until those unchecked issues have been fixed post-launch. Games are expensive, so preorder wisely.

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From the Vault | Top 7 Influential Brands on PS1

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
From The Vault, Playstation, PS1, Retro, Sony, The Sunday Seven

From the Vault | Top 7 Influential Brands on PS1

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the original PlayStation's UK launch. Some of you may well remember that epic day, while others may not have even been born. One thing's for sure, Sony's little white console changed gaming forever. And to think, Nintendo had the chance for it to be theirs before telling Sony they didn't fancy it. The PS1 (or PSX if you must) came out in Japan nearly a year before the UK and as such, we kind of already celebrated the console's 20th birthday late last year with our Sunday Seven article, Top 7 Influential Brands on PS1. Seeing as not much has changed in the PS1 world, we thought we'd run the article again for those of you that may have missed  it.

----------------

Earlier this week, the PS1 (or PSX for our US readers) turned 20 years old since its Japanese birth in 1994. Think about that, we’ve been playing PlayStation for 20 years. There have been some incredible innovations and games from the multiple generations of PlayStation. But let’s take a look at seven of the most influential brands that shaped the original PS1’s success and turned the gaming world upside-down.

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WildStar Free-To-Play Launch Interview | Donatelli & Moore on the MMO's past, present, & future

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Carbine Studios, Chad Moore, Free to play, free-to-play games, Interviews, Mike Donatelli, MMORPGs, NCsoft, WildStar

WildStar Free-To-Play Launch Interview | Donatelli & Moore on the MMO's past, present, & future

I tried convincing a number of friends to play WildStar when it launched last year. Many liked the idea of fast, twitch-based combat in an MMO, as well as the idea of taking part in challenging large-scale raids, but they were too put off by one thing – the subscriptions. No matter how much I tried, the monthly sub was too much to get over in an age where most other online games had scrapped them. In the end I couldn’t blame them – hype for the game waned very quickly as the initial subscription levels dropped, and Carbine Studios seemingly went through a rather turbulent time during the second half of 2014.

There was something of a rebirth at the start of the year, though. New content began to arrive in the form of new instances and mission types, and then back in May Carbine announced that WildStar would switch to being Free-To-Play this year. In fact, by the time you read this article the switch will already have happened – you can download and play the entire game for free right now – but at the end of last week I was invited to speak to Product Director Mike Donatelli & Creative Director Chad Moore over the phone to discuss the imminent relaunch of their MMO title.

As always with anyone at Carbine, the conversation was fun, enthusiastic, refreshingly honest, and ultimately ended in talk of hats.

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Weekly Dealspwn.com Roundup 21st - 27th September 2015

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Features, Game reviews, News, Weekly Roundup

Weekly Dealspwn.com Roundup 21st - 27th September 2015

It's weekly roundup time, folks. Here are your links to the biggest news stories, features and reviews from everything at Dealspwn over the last seven days.

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Hitman's delay averts a potential disaster

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Hitman, Io Interactive, Square Enix

Hitman's delay averts a potential disaster

We've said for years how we actively encourage game delays rather than play broken or unpolished products. There's too much of an emphasis on releasing glitch-ridden games with the attitude of patching it up at a later date. I mean, Arkham Knight on PC still isn't back in the shops!

But that's not the reason I'm glad to see Hitman delayed into 2016. Square Enix were going to try something new this December by releasing Hitman at full price on digital stores as an incomplete product. Essentially, an episodic or segmented release, where Io Interactive would continue to develop later chapters throughout 2016 with them becoming available as free downloads when they were ready. It's not exactly a Kickstarter model, but it's pretty damn close. 'Give us money and we'll finish this game at some point.'

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Top 10 Tuesdays: Most wanted Sony exclusive reboots

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
PS Vita games, PS3 games, PS4 games, Retro games, Sony, Top Ten Tuesdays

Top 10 Tuesdays: Most wanted Sony exclusive reboots

With the recent announcement of Hardware: Rivals getting a reboot on PS4, we take a look at Sony's extensive back-catalogue of franchises and IPs to see what we'd most like to see make a comeback on the PS4 or PS Vita.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Most wanted Sony exclusive reboots

Ape Escape

And you thought that right analogue stick was reserved for moving the camera around in third-person games? Not in the world of Ape Escape. The stick was used for numerous inventive tasks as you tried to capture gangs of very cheeky monkeys. Early on, you'd use the right stick to lash out with a net to catch them. Before long you'd be tweaking it to track them via radio signals, or row oars on a boat, pull back your ammo in a catapult and many more features. Despite some well-received adventures on PS1 and PS2, the only appearance on PS3 was a disappointing on-rails PS Move title.

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Weekly Dealspwn.com Roundup 14th - 20th September 2015

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Features, Game reviews, News, Weekly Roundup

Weekly Dealspwn.com Roundup 14th - 20th September 2015

It's weekly roundup time, folks. Here are your links to the biggest news stories, features and reviews from everything at Dealspwn over the last seven days. There was plenty to get excited about at Tokyo Game show 2015 this week and we've got an extensive roundup and links to those tasty new trailers. In our reviews you'll find verdicts on Forza Motorsport 6 and Colebrook Bosson Saunders Flo Monitor Arm Mount.

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Sony's Tokyo Game Show presser dissected - A bright future?

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters, Gravity Rush 2, Nioh, PlayStation VR, PS Vita games, PS4 games, Tokyo Game Show 2015

Sony's Tokyo Game Show presser dissected - A bright future?

Sony's press conference at the Tokyo Game Show was packed with information and reveals this morning. We set our alarm clocks and watched the whole thing and were presented with some encouraging reveals. So, what did we learn from the show and what sort of future has it shown for the PS4 and PS Vita in Japan and beyond?

Sony's Tokyo Game Show presser dissected - A bright future?

There's hope for the Vita (in Japan)

Our ambitions for the PS Vita to be a handheld triple A powerhouse faded years ago, but it's doing quite well in the niche market over here, especially with Japanese titles. Expect that to continue as most games announced at the show have a Vita version in the works. While we can probably expect to wait long past the announced Japanese release dates, there are at least plenty of games on the horizon. You can look forward to the likes of God Eater, Attack on Titan, SaGa: Scarlet Grace, World of Final Fantasy and more. There was even an actual exclusive (albeit an arcade port) in the form of Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS-Force.

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