Jon's been telling us for weeks that we should jump back into Titanfall, largely thanks to the hefty recent content drop and the addition of a PvE horde mode of sorts, and we finally Titan'd up for some Game Night shenanigans.
It might just be the crushing disappointment and hollow feeling that Destiny has left me with, but frankly this was an utter blast. Frontier Defense is a cracking (FREE) addition to the delightfully smooth gameplay package, and it's clear that Respawn have really made a concerted effort over the past few months to make the game sparkle. The lobbies and customisation options have been tweaked in all of the right ways, matchmaking actually seems to work (and the countdown timers have been decreased), and Frontier Defense shakes things up in a great way, throwing Suicide Spectres and Arc Titans into the fray.
I have to say, though, that I really, desperately wish I had an Xbox One after this Game Night. Titanfall plays so incredibly well on PC, but really its a game that lends itself completely to the couch-oriented console experience. Still, this was an absolute blast, and I'm pretty sure Carl and I will certainly be joining Jon in dipping into it frequently over the next few weeks.
If COD doesn't blow us away, that is. That now has Titans too.
We haven't checked in officially with Square Enix's humans-vs-vampires, team-based, slay-em-up -- Nosgoth -- for some time now. But with the game on the cusp of moving into open beta this winter, and with a host of tweaks and improvements having been made to the game in recent months, I sat down this week with Community Manager Cat Karskens to have a bit of a natter.
Throughout the last few days, Nosgoth has been enjoying the Halloween-themed Devil's Night event, delivering random drops of ghostly goodness for players, and unique items that are only obtainable this week, but will last permanently once collected. I talk to Karskens about the ongoing festivities, the feedback that Psyonix and the team at Square Enix have been receiving, where the game is headed in terms of improved features and new classes, and how accessibility and monetisation will shift once the open beta begins.
You can check out the official site here.
I was going to do Jet Set Radio Future this week, but with All Hallow's Eve looming, an anarchic cel-shaded romp through Tokyo-To doesn't quite fit this spooky time of year. We need something horrifying. We need the chill running down our spine, the fetid breath on the back of our necks, the cyclopean indescribable terror that lurks in the darkest corners of our psyche just beyond our perceived veil of reality. The fear. We need the fear.
Or, erm, a horror game I suppose.
So seeing as I've personally banged on about one horror game above all others over the last four years, it's high time we paid SHODAN her dues and took a lingering look back at System Shock 2. Irrational Games' Sci-Fi horror masterpiece is exactly that: a masterpiece of intricate level design, adaptive gameplay, sensational artwork and atmosphere, but by all rights it shouldn't have been scary at all.
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Last week, we took a look at the masterful 80 Days and how Inkle went about making such a text-heavy experience work on mobile platforms. As promised, here's part two of my chat with the developers behind the game. This time, we were joined by the game's writer -- Meg Jayanth -- to talk about the intertextual side of things, and the literary nature of adapting a century-old novel into a game laden with player choices.
If you're at all interested in the craft of creating branching, interactive narratives, this week's video is fundamental viewing/listening as Jayanth and Jon Ingold talk about the research and structural processes behind one of the finest games of the year, describing how the steampunk elements of the game came into being, and how some of Verne's outdated social considerations (or lack thereof) were updated for a more modern audience in this game. Finally, we talk more broadly about romance in video games, the subtleties of trying to cultivate relationships through virtual narratives, and how games might approach sexuality better going forwards.
This might just be my favourite interview that I've ever done. It's quite a long one, though, so for the sake of navigation, here's a little list of contents:
The PS4's update 2.0 was so powerful that it knocked out the PSN yesterday. Considering how long Sony have been doing this, you'd have thought that maybe, just maybe, they'd have learned to sort out their network stability a little better over the past handful of years... but no.
Anyway, Update 2.0 is out, things appear to be working properly, and one of the most lauded features of the new firmware package has arrived in the form of Share Play. In a nutshell, Share Play allows for a remote version of local game sharing -- be that passing a master controller to a friend, or allowing them to play a game that they don't currently own themselves. Sessions are limited to an hour at a time, PlayStation Plus is a requirement for controller sharing, and you can only use the multiplayer aspects of the service for games with local multiplayer components.
It all seems to work very nicely indeed, though. To test out the service in the name of science, Carl and I fired up our machines and jumped into a game of FIFA 15, whereupon Carl and I were able to enjoy a match together despite Carl not owning the game in question. Side-by-side, the videos reveal that there's an ever-so-slight delay, but playing the game felt pretty seamless. There's a resolution drop, of course -- you can only play Share Play games in 720p -- but the game still looked pretty good at both end, and it should be noted that visual fidelity is an option that can be changed (we'd set ours to "high").Click here to read more...
I've been playing a lot of horror games recently, with reviews in the past few weeks coming in fairly quick succession for Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within -- two very different games that approach horror gaming from two distinctly different perspectives. For me, at least, I find that one represents the future of the genre and where we're headed in terms of horror gaming, and the other is a testament to the classic foundations upon which horror gaming was built.
I love the classic Resident Evil games, and I still believe Resi 4 to be one of the finest games ever made let alone survival horror games, but I don't find them scary, and I'm not sure that I ever really did. They, much like Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami's latest game, are incredibly good at generating mechanical horror through scarce ammunition, oppressive enemies that require thought and skill to dispatch, and giving protagonists a palpable vulnerability. Knowing when to fight and when to run is crucial in these games, but having the option to fight is key to them as well. Mikami, certainly, is a creator who finds value in overcoming fear.
"Used at the right time and in the right way disempowerment can be the most powerful tool for the horror game creator," he said in an interview earlier this month, ahead of The Evil Within's release. "Sequels are a big problem in horror entertainment. As a horror game series continues you begin to know who the enemies are going to be. Just this knowledge naturally makes the game less scary. So to capture a wider audience designers add more action. That further reduces how frightening the game feels.
"That's one reason I'm making The Evil Within. Also, because the graphical quality of games has increased. This has the capacity to make the fear much closer to you. We can add in a far greater amount of animation and make it context based, so, for example, we can change how a character moves in a certain situation. Really, I'm making this game just because it's fun to scare people. Instead of trying to introduce new ideas I want to return to survival horror's roots. We've strayed from that. I want to explore fear again, and that sense of overcoming fear, one that's unique to games."Click here to read more...
Sunset Overdrive is out this week -- today Stateside -- and it brings the fun to Xbox One. Sunset City is your playground to traverse, grind, shoot, bounce and generally rampage around, but this anarchic and vibrant experience contains an unexpected amount of depth to get stuck into.
Have you read our in-depth review? Good. Now it's time for me to share my expertise in a spoiler-free rundown of how to make the most of Sunset Overdrive and how to thrive in the colourful punk rock apocalypse. Punk arockalypse. Pu-rock-alypse?
Let's do this.
Sunset Overdrive is designed around mobility and verticality. Every horizontal surface is grindable, every wall is a potential platform, every car is a trampoline and the entire city is a high-velocity playground. However, you'll also be punished by hordes of enemies that will mob you, dial in your position and otherwise brutalise you if you ever slow down. Or worse, spent more than a few seconds on the floor.
So as a basic piece of starting advice, keep moving! You should always know where your next grind rail or bounce pad is, thinking one step ahead, and if you ever find yourself falling to the ground your first thought should be getting airborne as soon as possible. Remember that instantly reversing direction during a grind can buy you extra time, avoid incoming projeciles or allow you to finish off any stragglers.
A simple point, but one that will serve you well. Keep it moving. Keep it moving. Keep it moving. Learn and repeat it as a mantra.Click here to read more...
Titanfall is one of the best games of 2014.
No ifs or buts. On a purely objective and mechanical level, Titanfall's gameplay is impeccable, blowing the multiplayer shooter genre wide open with mobility, verticality, parkour, massive stompy robots and some of the best maps of the decade. It certainly isn't the first FPS to feature mechs and jet packs, but no game has ever managed to make these features so fluid and accessible, allowing anyone to get involved while providing veterans with a near-infinite skill ceiling as their abilities improve.
As such, I've returned to it on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis simply because it's that good.
Unfortunately, however, I lied. There was an "if" and a "but," and it's a doozy, because there's no denying that Titanfall was also wicked skinny for a full-priced game. Limited gametypes and throwaway singleplayer notwithstanding, these days most shooter fans expect comprehensive customisation, deep progression systems, addictive metagame and hefty on-paper value that Titanfall just didn't provide. Coupled with matchmaking issues as the population declined, many players angrily upped sticks and never returned.
Perhaps you were one of them. That's okay. But it's also a shame, since you'll have missed out on a huge amount of major improvements, tweaks and upgrades that bulk up and flesh out Respawn's sensational shooter. Now that Update 8 is live, I'd advise you to give it another shot.Click here to read more...
This week, we leap back into the Hunger Games, but it seems as though the admins are pratting about a bit. CR manages to climb a tree and get himself into a good position, but the other Tributes seem to have earmarked me out as a weak link. Fists vs swords is only ever going to end one way.
Last week, Daedalic Entertainment -- the German dev/pub studio behind the Deponia series, The Night of the Rabbit, and Blackguards -- announced that they'd be bringing one of their upcoming games to consoles. Silence, the sequel to Daedalic's 2009 adventure game The Whispered World, has been developed completely from the ground up with an eye towards porting the game to Xbox One and, hopefully, PS4. To get more information on Daedalic's expansion into the console market, I sat down with Daedalic's PR director, Claas Wolter, to ask what this means for the company and adventure games in general.
"Silence has always been a multi-platform project”, said Daedalic’s Studio Manager Steffen Boos in the company's official announcement. "From early on, we planned to release Silence – The Whispered World 2 on consoles as well, but we wanted to make absolutely certain the controls were tuned to each platform before announcing its console status.
"We think the new generation of consoles offer a platform that is ideal for indie development, and with the new gameplay we’re introducing to the adventure genre with The Whispered World 2, adventure games now also can be a good fit to consoles."
Click here to read more...
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/on the loo gloriously wasting time on the games listed here when you should be working.
This week: Transmission
Educational games are nearly always rubbish, right? And yet, I've been playing Transmission -- a simple, elegant puzzler created by the British Science Museum to help teach people about the history of electronic communication -- for over an hour.
It starts off slowly, perhaps too slowly, really hammering home the objective of "light up of the boxes". Essentially, in each stage, you have to send little glowing data packets to little empty receiver boxes, dragging and dropping linear connections, and taking care not to cross the streams. It's very simple to begin with, but isn't too long before you end up with bonus objectives, jumbles of data nodes, and seemingly too few polygons of data for all of your receivers. Circles can transmit, squares cannot, filling little superscript stars can earn you bonuses, and so will ensuring you use the minimum number of transmissions.
Click here to read more...
This week's features include a WWE 2K15 interview, a look at Warcraft version 6.0.2, a Sunset Overdrive preview and an early look at Randal's Monday. Elsewhere, we take a look at the full lineup of next week's releases, examine the ridiculously full new-gen hard-drives, have a fond look back at Crackdown, examine the current GamerGate situation and judge the XO's 'All in One' message now it finally has media streaming. More? Ok, Matt chats to Inkle Studios about interactive narratives, we get together for another round of Supraball and invite you to take a look at Assembots with our Click to Play series.
This was a big week in the reviews section with plenty of high profile releases facing judgment. After giving DriveClub a two week grace period, I bring the hammer down on the long-winded saga, Matt pulls himself away from NBA 2K15's career mode long enough to tell us about the game and also run through the house of horrors that is The Evil Within, and he reviews a backlit keyboard (because why not, that's why). After waiting patiently for what seems like forever, Carl finally gets to play the excellent Dreamfall Chapters - Book One: Reborn. Jon's been having a blast on the moon with Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, he enjoyed some new-gen old-school with the Shadow Warrior reboot and also found time to wave a fist at Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved.Click here to read more...
I'm currently hard at work on our Sunset Overdrive review, and by hard at work I do of course mean "grinding, swinging and leaping across a vibrant colourful city while shooting a huge horde of crazy enemies with insane weaponry." I know, it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
As such, I can't deliver any sort of value judgement until next week, and I don't plan to. We're a classy outfit here at Dealspwn.com. But based on the first two hours of gameplay, those official videos and previous contact time at preview events, I'd like to offer a purely descriptive preview of what Sunset Overdrive has to offer, and to point out a incredibly basic fact about what Sunset Overdrive is bringing to the table at this late hour. Or more accurately, what it actually is and what it definitely isn't.
See, there's a big difference between a "sandbox" and a "playground," and understanding the distinction will help you make the most out of Insomniac's high-velocity shooter.
Click here to read more...
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.
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.Click here to read more...
Having not played it in quite a while, the Dealspwn trio decided to jump back into the eSports arena that is Supraball for this week's Game Night. However, with Carl, Matt and Jon out of practice, and with the game having several tweaks since they last played, their performance was... well... not prime? See for yourself in today's episode, with highlights such as an insanely skilled opponent, Matt screaming at everything, and Carl trying to get his goalkeeping mojo back.
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.
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 >>
I've been playing a great deal of Sunset Overdrive recently. My hands are tied until our full review goes live next week, but for now, I can confirm our earlier assertions that it feels like an outrageous and anarchic mash-up of Crackdown and Jet Set Radio Future. Only twice as meta.
Ah, Crackdown and Jet Set Radio Future. Two truly excellent Xbox exclusives from generations past -- has it really been seven and twelve years?! -- that I'd dearly love to revisit. If only we had some sort of semi-regular article format where we glorify classics from yesteryear and explain why they still have a place in our hearts through rose-tinted spectacles.
Oh wait. We do. It's time to reboot Blast From The Past, and I think there's only one place to start. We'll cover Jet Set Radio Future next week... and start with one hell of a super-sandbox, agent.
Click here to read more...
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.
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...Click here to read more...
This awful slogan was terminated before launch, but the narrative remained: Xbox One is an "all in one" device. Rather than a games console, Microsoft positioned their new system as a total entertainment solution, a one-stop-shop for all of your digital content, services, television and media.
It wasn't. They lied. However, a year after it launched, the Xbox One finally has the right to call itself "all in one" thanks to the massive sweeping changes in the October firmware update last week. Admittedly we took this functionality for granted on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but the addition of DLNA media streaming and media centre extender functionality has turned Microsoft's console into the lounge commander it was born to be. One device capable of pulling all of your media onto your television, acting much like a home theatre PC alongside its console duties.
If you own an Xbox One and aren't already using this feature, you probably should be. Over the next few paragraphs I'm going to explain how to set it up and why it's important.Click here to read more...
I filled up my Xbox One's hard drive last month.
Sure, I arguably receive more games than the average console owner in my line of work, but less than a year after launch I'm being forced to delete entire games from my hard drive just to play and review new ones, requiring me to then re-install them down the line if I ever fancy a quick impulse play. Forza 5 swerved off the track, Ryse fell on its sword and I'm still struggling to keep on top of things.
And soon Halo: The Master Chief Collection wants to guzzle up another 60GB or so... followed by a 20GB patch. I'm sorry, but this situation has gotten entirely out of control and we're only a year into the current generation. Put the important debate about frame rates and resolutions on hold for a moment, because we might have bigger problems on the console front.
Click here to read more...