Developers: SCE Japan Studio
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
It was a statement of intent that the first game Sony revealed for their brand spanking new console, the PS4, came in the form of Knack. Here was a next-gen console being introduced with a game that looked -- in terms of form and function rather than aesthetics -- a little bit retro, alluding perhaps to the heyday of the PSOne, and reminding the assembled viewers that gaming is for everyone. The cartoonish platformer seemed like a throwback to the days when Naughty Dog's Playstation mascot was a marsupial rather than a rugged adventurer with perfect stubble. It was a legacy pitch, and a spotlight for the PS4's architect, and the designer of Knack itself -- Mark Cerny.
It looks intriguing -- ooooh, we said, particles! -- and we're always up for new IPs. The coming together of Sony Japan and Cerny himself (who, let's remember, has worked extensively with the likes of Crash, Spyro, and Ratchet) is a little dream team-esque, and in amongst serious, mature, franchise titles such as Infamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall there's room for a newcomer to steal the spotlight for the mass market. The PS4 is going to need a family-friendly pack-in too, and Knack is set to be it.
Maybe.Click here to read more...
Last week, I looked at how Microsoft could come out on top in the next-gen console wars despite their initial self-inflicted setbacks. So it’s only fair that I give the same treatment to Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4. Both consoles are going to release around the same period, just in time for the Christmas madness. We’ve not had consoles launch head-to-head for generations, which means we’re going to see a real fight between the two. Ring that bell Mr. Shopkeeper. It’s so on.
The only downside to PlayStation Plus is the size of your hard-drive. Sony wants to fill it with quality every month. This month alone subscribers were given Battlefield 3, Saints Row The Third, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, Unit 13 and more.
Microsoft have started giving freebies away with Gold subs too. This month Xbox 360 gamers got Defense Grid and the promised ancients of Halo 3 and Assassin’s Creed II are still nowhere to be seen. Frankly, it’s a bit embarrassing watching Microsoft try to defend their free tripe.
Yes, PS4 will require a PS+ subscription to play online, but when one subscription covers players for free games on PS3, Vita and PS4, they’d be mad not have one anyway.Click here to read more...
I hate the DualShock 3. It feels like a flimsy, lightweight piece of highly breakable plastic to me. Controllers are important, they are the gateway into console gaming, they are our tools of engagement. As such, a controller can make or break the experience . It needs to be comfortable, it needs to sit in the hands well, to feel well-made and durable to be able to withstand long periods of uninterrupted gaming in spite of those epilepsy warnings that scream 'TAKE A BREAK!'
I'll be the first to admit that my hands are on the large side. I favour a palm position when using a mouse; I genuinely believe that the Nintendo Wavebird had some of the finest ergonomics ever witnessed in a controller and my affinity for the Xbox 360 pad comes from its similarities to the Gamecube's wireless marvel. This isn't about brand affiliation or console loyalty or anything like. My hands are fickle fellows and the instant I cracked my DualShock 3 I cheered. I've been using a chunky third-party one with an X360 button and stick layout and fans to keep my palms from sweating, and the PS3 has been quietly trumping all of my other consoles in terms of play time. Never underestimate the importance of comfort.
Sony have taken that to heart with the DualShock 4. It's fantastic to hold, it really is. Slightly smaller than I was expecting (it's really not that much bigger than its predecessor if at all), it feels nonetheless slightly wider, slightly chunkier, and rather more curvaceous. The spacing between the two analogue sticks has been stretch a little bit to give those thumbs a little more room to breathe, which is very welcome indeed. I'm never going to be the biggest fan of the centred thumbstick layout, but it's far more comfortable here than on the DualShock 3.Click here to read more...
Platforms: Wii U
Developers: Sonic Team
Publishers: SEGA | Nintendo
Sonic Colours gave the blue blur a renewed lease of life, hitting critical echelons hitherto unseen by the speedy hedgehog since his glory days. It was enough to give anyone who'd gamed their way through the Nineties a heart attack: here were the greatest rivals in retro gaming history playing nice together, exclusively. The defining mascot of one had found the perfect home on the console of the other. Sonic Colours was good, really good in fact, and so when news broke of SEGA and Nintendo brokering another exclusive partnership for another new Sonic title, we allowed ourselves to get a bit excited.
Super Mario 3D Land looks great, but it doesn't exactly look terribly new given that it's based on an 18-month old 3DS game. Sonic: Lost World, on the other hand, looks like a breath of fresh air. Better yet, though Nintendo appear to have bottled it, SEGA are running (very fast) with the legacy of Super Mario Galaxy. And that's a really good thing.
Producer Takashi Iizuka recently admitted that the new Sonic game takes a vast amount of inspiration from the Wii's best game, but that's only natural when you're looking to push the boundaries of a series in a three dimensional space.Click here to read more...
Platforms: Wii U
Developers: Platinum Games
We laughed until we cried when we first heard that Bayonetta 2 would be a Wii U exclusive. Here was an undeniably niche game -- an excellent game, but quite possibly the very definition of a niche game -- tethering itself to a rather niche console, it seemed. It's an enormously unlikely sequel in many ways, that now finds itself tethered to the last console we would have chosen for it; but Bayonetta was ever a game that went beyond our wildest dreams and imaginings with its outlandish,outrageous design , and the Best Combat System Ever Made. Ever.
How on earth do you open that up to a wider audience on a console that's the successor to a white box of casual, family gaming fun? The answer, it would seem, has been found in the form of a touchscreen game.
It seems almost perverse, utterly wrong at first, to be able to perform all of the Umbra Witch's moves ad motions with swipes of a finger along the Wii U's GamePad screen. After all, Platinum's supremely fluid beat-'em-up preached an almost symbiotic relationship between players' hands and the game controller: it was a deliciously challenging feast for the fingers, a balletic symphony of weird Revelatory rewards for playful dexterity. True, there were easy control options for those more interested in the spectacle than the intricacies of the dance itself, but this is something else.Click here to read more...
The Double Fine Adventure ignited public interest in Kickstarter and adventure gaming back in 2012. After asking for a modest budget of $400,000 to develop a new point & click title, Tim Schafer and co. quickly received over three million Dollars, a massive war chest capable of funding even the most ambitious adventure game. As the project revealed itself as Broken Age and more details became apparent, our excitement continually swelled, despite the promised October 2012 release date merrily shooting past us.
A year on, however, and the project has hit an incredibly controversial stumbling block. Schafer revealed that Broken Age has somehow become too ambitious to complete even with their enormous budget, meaning that the project will have to be cut into two halves - the first of which will be released in January next year in order to raise some extra dosh.
How could this happen? Where did the money go? Does it actually matter? Over the next few hundred words, we're going to take a look at how runaway success can be your own worst enemy.
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Platforms: Wii U
Developers: Retro Studios
I haven't been very nice about Donkey Kong Country: Tropical
Facepalm Freeze. Then again, I wasn't exactly too kind to Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii, though the 3DS version admittedly seemed rather more fitting. But then, you know, that's a tech-limited portable console -- we expect lazy reboots from such pieces of equipment. The Wii game was a perfectly fine game, I suppose; fiendishly difficult as Donkey Kong Country games should be, and it made for a fairly harmless trip down memory lane. It did nothing new whilst somehow boasting that 2.5D archaic platforming was new, but it wasn't a bad game.
And now it has a nearly identical sibling, but with 3D camera angles and HD graphics.
Thing is, the Wii game arrived as a hilariously late swansong for Nintendo's albino , family-friendly console. It emerged after the crowds had been, played Wii Fit, and gone, appearing at about the same time that Nintendo decided to reinvent the Wii as a home for JRPGs. There was no pressure at all on that game. The same can't be said of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.Click here to read more...
In the last of our interviews from the show floor of this year's Rezzed, Carl speaks with a rather dapper looking Tom Betts from Big Robot about the upcoming "tweedpunk" survival FPS Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Watch the video interview, which mentions how (once implemented) Multiplayer will work, after the jump.Click here to read more...
It's been a month where the phrase 'quality over quantity' has proven particularly pertinent, especially on consoles. PC titles such as the fantastic Gunpoint and the impressive (if not exactly revolutionary) Company of Heroes 2 put their noses to the window of this month's list of the best, but could only muster honourable mentions.
Indeed, June has been mostly characterised by zombies and XBLA, by the PS3 and Naughty Dog, and by catching fish for that lazy anteater you have living next to you on the 3DS.
State of Decay - The patch is out, but in all honesty State of Decay would have made the list even in its rather buggy and broken state. We're not excusing releasing barely complete glorified betas, but this was something different, something a bit special: a game that allowed us to live out our own version of The Walking Dead, our own stories of community survival in an ever-changing open world with dynamically-generated missions and horrors. You were confronted with choices, forced to make hard decisions instead of simply watching them, and then made to actively deal with the consequences. Fantastic. - 8/10Click here to read more...
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We're not quite done with our coverage from this year's Rezzed, as in today's video Matt has a chat with Pawel Wojs of The Creative Assembly to learn more about the upcoming Total War: Rome II. Watch the interview (along with its random and bizarre cameo appearance by another franchise) after the jump.
A few weeks ago, Microsoft were fighting a losing battle against the PS4. Every time they said anything via statement or twitter, gamers would become enraged and bewildered at why the company seemed determined to alienate consumers around the world. But then they sobered up ditched the two features of the Xbox One that may have handed an early victory to the PS4 – pre-owned blocking and daily online requirement.
However, is the damage already done? We’re far from writing off the big company yet, just look at how many times they’ve screwed up Windows and survived. So here’s our Sunday Seven on How the Xbox One Could Win Next-Gen.
Just because we’ve only seen the shortest of teasers for Halo 5, doesn’t mean it’s not already a system seller. With 343 Industries exceeding expectations for their debut with Halo 4, fans will be keen to keep in touch with their first next-gen effort.Click here to read more...
We're back with our coverage from this year's Rezzed, and in today's interview Carl talks to Max Matzenbacher of Carbine Studios about upcoming Sci-fi Western MMO WildStar. We learn about the inspirations for the art style, including how the visuals work in combat, as well as Max's on thoughts on upcoming game, after the jump.
Editor Note: There was meant to be video footage of this interview, but due to technical difficulties (we suspect Mechari sabotage) we were unable to use it. Thankfully the audio was left unscathed, so you can hear the interview in full after the jump.Click here to read more...
Platforms: Wii U
Nintendo don't make bad games. So it was that the sigh that went up from certain fans following the appearance of Super Mario 3D Land at Nintendo's E3 Direct presentation wasn't one anticipated failure or apathy, but rather that in order to achieve their glowing record, Nintendo had rather looked backwards than forwards once again. It seems odd, perhaps, that the game Nintendo are banking on to lift its ailing new console is a derivation of a 3DS title, but then Nintendo's strengths ever since the halcyon days of the SNES have always lain with its stranglehold on the handheld market rather than its home console offerings.
Lest we forget too, Super Mario 3D Land was a barnstorming game -- a near-perfect distillation of 3D Mario into an inventive isometric form that cleverly leveraged the stereoscopic 3D and well-constructed levels to produce a game that was gently inviting at the first time of asking and fiendishly hardcore the second. It served to define a console, and gave the 3DS the hefty kick up the backside that it needed, arriving just in time for the 3DS' first Christmas.
Now Nintendo need that IP to prove that lightning can strike twice. Only this time on an HD home console limping towards its second Christmas.
Can it do it? Well, quite frankly, I just don't care at this point in time.Click here to read more...
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In our third video interview from the show floor of this year's Rezzed, Matt talks to Richard Perrin, game creator of that interactive narrative title Journal. Learn all about the upcoming title, which sees players making choices throughout a young girl's life, and the consequences that come with it, after the jump.
Platform: Wii U
The Wii U needs Mario Kart 8 so desperately it isn't even funny, and as much as I was having a blast zooming around tracks that will now see Mario and his chums racing their karts and buggies and bikes up walls and along ceilings, I had to remind myself that we're all going to have to wait the better part of a year for this game, and that I won't be able to play it with the family at Christmas.
This sucks. Mainly because it's really good fun.
That should come as no surprise to anyone: Mario Kart is fun, that's a given. Nintendo perfected the kart racer a long time ago and have been gently tweaking it ever since, careful not to disrupt the party or rock the boat too much. To be honest, given that we only get one Mario Kart game per console that's not such a bad thing. And whatever you consider the series' lowest point too be, I'll bet you still had a blast playing it.
But you need to shake things up a little bit, and Nintendo's gimmick this time around is anti-gravity: hit the blue strip and your vehicle will transform into a magnetic hovercraft that will flip your perspective. There are courses -- such as the Mario Raceway-esque track I first encountered -- that offered up a blue strip that spanned the whole track, forcing all of the players onto a different racing plane and unifying perspectives as we all streaked towards a topsy-turvy Peach's castle in the distance. Other tracks, however, provided options, giving players a choice between terra firma and a risky, but potentially swifter route via the anti-grav feature.Click here to read more...
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We're back with yet another video interview from the show floor of this year's Rezzed. Today, Matt talks to Mitu Khandaker of The Tiniest Shark to learn more about the upcoming Sci-fi social simulator Redshirt, a game where players will need to charm their way from the bottom of the society to succeed in both personal and professional aspects... in space! Check it out after the jump.
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Last weekend Matt and Carl took to Birmingham's NEC to go around the show floor at Rezzed, taking a look at some of the latest and upcoming games from the Indie and PC scene. Today, we're kicking off a series of video interviews with some of the developers that were in attendance, starting off with Olivier Penot of Seaven Studio, developer of puzzle-platformer Ethan: Meteor Hunter. Check it out after the jump.
Developers: Volition Inc.
Publishers: Deep Silver
Why is The Boss now President of the United States? Why does he find himself trapped within a virtual version of Steelport reminiscent of The Matrix? Where did these B-movie aliens and their impeccable English accents come from? Do I punch a guy in the balls or in the head for being a git? These are all questions that my hands-on time with the E3 demo for Saints Row IV threw up, and for the most part, they're all questions that I ignored.
We loved Prototype, as much as you can love a game that has The Most Bland Protagonist Ever Created as its central character. But it was the sandbox freedom that we enjoyed, helping along to no small extent by creating fantastic traversal systems and plenty of fun mechanics and powers to play (murder people) with. New York was reliably boring, but that didn't matter so much to us when we were whipping apaches out of the sky with tentacles and beating tanks into submission with their own turrets. Radical Entertainment gave us a whole bunch of fun tools and told us to go play with them.
It's an approach that Volition took to heart with Saints Row: The Third, to mixed reactions. Some embraced the silliness; others lamented that the series hadn't iterated more on the choice-laden empire building of Saints Row 2. For my part, I heartily enjoyed both games, but for admittedly different reasons.
One thing is for certain, if you found Saints Row 3 too silly for your liking, it might be best if you look away now.Click here to read more...
I posited in my section for the roundtable article dealing with the aftermath of E3 that, if anything, this year's show had proved that we're not ready for our own digital future. Microsoft had put plans in place to drag a hefty corner of this industry a few steps further, kicking and screaming into real change and real transition. Instead of limiting themselves by appealing to lowest common denominators when it came to internet services, they'd opted to let that be someone else's problem, forging a controversial path ahead.
That controversy was understandable and expected. Ownership is a big deal.
We'd been begging for Microsoft (and EA for that matter) to show us something new, something forward-thinking and original, and they did just that. But they did it in the worst way possible.
I wrote an article a few weeks back, around the time that Adam Orth was finding out that in spite of most disclaimers that say "my views are my own" the Twitter jury can still find you guilty of misrepresenting the company for which you work, discussing the importance of clear communication, and of understanding consumer concerns.
Microsoft have paid the price for failing to express their vision for next-gen in a positive fashion. The advantages afforded by a system that has you constantly connected have been lost because Microsoft resorted to corporate doublespeak, long-winded, buzzword-stuffed rhetoric that serves nobody. The existence of Xbox Wire -- a website purposefully created to solve this problem -- was undermined by a wave of original press releases that served only to confuse and discombobulate. Don Mattrick's u-turn post was probably the most clearly written entry on the whole site up to this point.Click here to read more...
One of the least publicised games of E3 looks to be one of the absolute highlights. We saw a brief gameplay snippet of MonolithSoft's Wii U-exclusive JRPG during the Nintendo Direct presentation, and it utterly blew our minds. We saw an enormous open world. Massive monsters roaming the plains, free to engage or ignore at leisure. Bustling towns and wide open vistas. Xenoblade Chronicles taken to the next level, but with the addition of massive great mechs that let you experience the world from the skies.
And multiplayer? If you keep an eye on the GUI, you'll see allusions to 'Players 1-4' (though this could well just be character name placeholders to avoid spoiling the story).
X could well be a system seller if Nintendo market it enough. It's clear that 2014 is going to be a killer year for Nintendo's console - not limited to the outrageous Bayonetta 2 - but they need to get boots on the ground and shift some consoles first.
Microsoft promised that E3 2013 would be all about the games, and they weren't wrong. Despite Sony utterly crushing them on the issues, Xbox One is coming out to bat with many more exclusive titles than its rival, which mainly revealed a tiny handful of core franchises, multiplatform titles and indie games (most of which are also already slated for PC).
Conversely, Microsoft locked down Ryse, Titanfall, Dead Rising 3, Quantum Break, Forza 5, Below, Crimson Dragon, PvZ: Garden Warfare, Sunset Overdrive, Project Spark and Killer Instinct just for starters. On multiplat side of things, we've got Destiny, Kingdom Hearts III, Final Fantasy XV, MGS V, Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV and... well, most of the games we saw at Sony's (admittedly better) press conference.
We're still railing against system-wide DRM and online check-ins, but us gamers have a long and illustrious history of accepting pretty much anything to play great games. Will we roll over again?Click here to read more...