One of the undeniable highlights of Nintendo's E3 showing was Splatoon -- a new take on the third-person multiplayer shooter that coated the genre in a fresh lick of paint.
Or rather ink.
Nintendo have never struck us a company that'd jump into the saturated online shooter market, you wouldn't find them crafting a COD killer or taking the field against the likes of Halo or, indeed, Battlefield. But Nintendo are all about innovative twists on well-worn themes, and in Splatoon they've not just handed a roster of their beloved mascots Quasar rifles or paintball guns, they've gone and greenlit a brand new IP. Nintendo EAD making a new IP and a multiplayer shooter? Don't be alarmed, hell hasn't frozen over just yet.
The excellently named Splatoon features two teams of four players vying for control of a level, marking territory by splattering everything in sight with ink to match the teams' respective colours. You essentially run about the place, covering as much of the map as you possibly can in the colours of your team, splattering any miscreant foes you come across, and transforming into a squid every so often to refill your paint gauge, traverse the place a little faster, and just because it's cool.Click here to read more...
Sniper Elite III has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons this week after an issue with game keys being cancelled for loads of customers. Despite the complete failure of the Ouya, Google are having a go too as they unveiled their own microconsole in order to convince us we want to play mobile games on our TV -we don't. EA briefly tried to charge us for demos, which turned out to be an honest mistake - or was it? With any luck we'll see some sensible logic in the news next week.
Sensible isn't how the games in the review section go though. Take a look at the rubber-limbed lunacy of One Piece: Unlimited World Red, the sex demons of The Secret World: Issue #9, the messy killcams in Sniper Elite III and everything in Squids Odyssey. Munin is a bit more normal, but it's also a bit rubbish. So maybe sense is over-rated after all.
In our Features, Matt has multiple Wii U hands-on reports for the likes of Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Hyrule Warriors. There are plenty of videos to enjoy too for WildStar, The Secret World: Issue #9 and Planetside 2. Don't forget to check out our podcast as the team discuss their favourite games of the year so far.Click here to read more...
Why is Sonic wearing a sodding scarf? Seriously. Can someone please explain why Sonic is trying to evoke the rugged heroism of Nathan Drake? Has it really come to this? And while we're at it... why is Knuckles a triangle with legs now? He looks like he's been freebasing creatine.
Despite vomiting heavily into a bag upon witnessing the hideous visual transformations of Sonic and co. for this new venture, excused of course by chants of TV and transmedia, I foolishly thought that there could be some merit in really shaking up the Sonic formula, getting some proper co-op gameplay involved, and busting out some awesome action-platforming. But, though it might be easy to suggest a revamp for a series that's been inconsistent over the last decade, Sonic Boom is not the answer.
I actually liked Lost World in parts. It was flawed, sure, but I had fun with it in places. Sonic Boom, however, exists to remind you of the very worst PS2-era platforming tie-ins. Simple movement is incredibly imprecise and twitchy. Sonic constantly overshoots areas, and Knuckles appears to handle like a lead brick mired in treacle. Enemies pop up for you to smack down by spamming the face buttons for normal and special attacks -- Sonic does a spin-dash, and Knuckles, well, Knuckles can climb walls.Click here to read more...
Super Mario 3D World's "Captain Toad" stages were absolutely brilliant. They were wonderful puzzle-platforming vignettes that varied the pace a little and gave players something fresh and new to do. Now everyone's favourite, useless little mushroom fellow has his own marquee game, and it's shaping up to be something truly delightful.
Much of the appeal comes from the fact that Toad is fundamentally useless. His only real ability is to plant a smile on your face -- he can't jump or attack or do much for that matter -- and that makes for a game that looks like it might be Super Mario 3D World replica with a new avatar, much like Nintendo did with New Super Mario Bros U and Luigi, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Captain Toad is no Goomba-stomping moustachioed maverick. He's a toddling mushroom with a benevolent god rocking a GamePad and a camera.
That's us. The players.
Our job is to steer Toad through a number of increasingly complex levels that can be spun around, their perspectives played with, to ferret out secret gems and hidden coins, and eventually guide Toad to the star at the end of each stage. It's a mechanism that evokes memories of games such as Echochrome (though Nintendo eschew Escherian temptations) and Fez, where the systems of stages are fixed, and the player progresses through manipulation of the camera angle and the stage itself as a whole.Click here to read more...
Damn you Steam Summer Sale! Why must you make us buy more games than we can possibly play in one lifetime?! Ahem, in between all the splurging we've been working away to bring you the hottest news, features and reviews. This week we've seen new updates for the likes of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Battlefield: Hardline, Destiny, The Order: 1886, Batman, The Witcher III and Space Hulk: Deathwing. So many games on their way! So yeah, less temptation please, Steam.
In our reviews Jon takes one for the team as Matt and I unofficially avoided reviewing Outlast on PS4, but Jon manned up for the Xbone version. Matt reviews the latest update for Company of Heroes 2 - The Western Front Armies. There's also a review for Codemaster's excellent Grid: Autosport. Carl brings his epic WildStar review to an end this week too. Ending the week, I had the pleasure of Valiant Hearts: The Great War, a unique and endearing look at World War I through the eyes of regular people instead of the usual one-man-army approach.
Features this week include comment pieces on the proposed pricing for Sony's PS Now services, Jon makes his point for picking a Wii U over the PS4 or Xbone and we also ignore the haters and confess our love for the Steam Sale. Our regular video features for WildStar are here to keep you up-to-date on the hottest MMO right now and our weekly Top 10 contains the games that broke our hearts by not turning up at E3 this year and I take a look at how single-player DLC needs to change the way its tethered to the original game.Click here to read more...
Now that the E3 storm is subsiding into the pre-Gamescom summer lull, we have some time to take stock, look forward to plenty of great games and digest the tasty morsels from the biggest week in gaming.
We've scrutinised all the biggest announcements, reveals and games of E3 2014, but now that the adrenaline (and lingering ethanol) has left our systems, we can't help but notice a fair few glaring omissions in the lineup this year. Any number of anticipated games were absent without leave, whether massive rumoured projects that gathered steam before the show or huge titles that should be getting some serious hype -- yet didn't bother to show up.
Many of which are absolutely tragic. So here are ten of the most surprising and bizarre no-shows of E3 2014 in order of how badly we want to see them at Gamescom!
No, it's not at the top of our list. Though we were hoping that Team ICO's eternally-delayed swan song would finally break cover for PS4, years of heartbreaking absence have hardened our resolve and lowered our expectations.
Perhaps we'll see it at Gamescom, though. Or TGS? Yes. Definitely. Ha. Haha. HAAA. No, no, I'm fine, thanks for asking. Definitely not heartbroken about The Last Guardian missing yet another expo. I've just got something in my eye.Click here to read more...
Post E3, there wasn't much news, mainly because anyone with a PS4 has been spending an immense amount of time playing the betas/alphas for Battlefield: Hardline and Destiny. Other games in the news include Metal Gear solid V, with a 30-minute demo. Namco released their latest schedule, but Tekken X Street Fighter was nowhere to be seen. Again.
In the reviews Jon lays down a pair of disappointed verdicts for the unfinished feel of Nether and the way too creepy PlayStation Vita Pets (couldn't bothered about thinking up a decent name hey, Sony). Carl emerged from the world of space bothering just long enough to give us his penultimate part of the WildStar review.
In our features section we have extensive previews of the hottest games, including Project Spark, Destiny and Alien: Isolation. Videos to enjoy include our news roundup podcast and some more WildStar footage. We also take a look at '10 Things We Learned From E3', compare the new and old versions of The Last of Us and GTAV and Jester takes a look at how Nintendo won E3 for her, while I recover from a slightly disappointing set of press conferences in favour of some optimism with '2015's Hits Are So Far Away. But So What?'Click here to read more...
This is how you do survival horror. Just you, a motion tracker, a space station running on dodgy backup power so there are light out all over the place, jumpy human NPCs with itchy trigger fingers, and one of the most terrifying, monstrous creations we've ever had the privilege of being utterly scared by.
Being powerless is something that Amnesia deployed to great effect, but that was combined with some semblance of the unknown. As much as ignorance can be bliss, the fear of the unknown can be a powerful thing. Not knowing what horrors await you can be chilling indeed, and I have to say I wondered how Creative Assembly would go about breathing new life into a creature that lost some of its impact to scare us as its films became more and more action-oriented. I needn't have worried. The clue is the lack of a plural in the title.
The story takes it's lead from Ridley Scott's Alien, set fifteen years after the original film. The flight recorder from the Nostromo has been retrieved and taken back to a space station called Sevastopol. However, communication with the station has been lost, and so a team is sent in to investigate, one of whom happens to be a Weyland Yutani employee by the name of Amanda Ripley, Ellen's daughter. Our demo began in the San Cristobal medical wing of the station, with Amanda tasked with reaching a sort of makeshift base of operations, probably set up by her colleagues. The first-person controls feel a little sluggish at first, but this is not a twitch shooter, and although focusing on items feels a little floaty to begin with, it doesn't present a huge problem. You have your motion tracker, bound to a shoulder button, you have your map available from the menu. Both will prove invaluable.Click here to read more...
I can’t help but feel sometimes that we get trapped in a bubble of cynicism and negativity in this industry. As gamers, we’re often very quick to cast aspersions, to believe the worst, to criticise aggressively often for no other reason than a difference of opinion. There have been so many articles published over the last week lamenting the lack of female characters, of female presenters at E3 this year.
It’s not a surprise any more, and it’s certainly something that we should decry and continue to push for change, for greater representation of a demographic eager to be included, or even acknowledged. However, instead of banging on about that, instead of pillorying Ubisoft further for their stupidity and lack of foresight, I’d like to take this moment to celebrate a press conference (of sorts) that gave us plenty to cheer about on this subject.
Yes, Nintendo, I’m talking about you.
I was so glad when Ocarina of Time gave us badass Zelda. Although the ending is still pretty much Link the dude saving the girl, Zelda helps out, and her alter-ego Sheik is a wonderful twist on the usual princess stereotype. But with Hyrule Warriors we’re getting to fully become the princess, slaying beasts, defying convention, and mixing it up in the heat of battle alongside Link. Not only that, but we get to play as Impa and Midna too. Nintendo dropped it in there, smooth as you like, and I guarantee you that I’m not the only girl in the world who punched the air at that moment.
I’d love to see playable Zelda in the games to bear her name, to have the chance to be a hero in her own games, but this is a start.Click here to read more...
E3 week is done and dusted for another year, so we're left in the wake of the industry's biggest event to sit and take stock of all of the things we've seen. With that in mind, here are ten key things we took away from this year's show...
Call of Duty's influence is waning
Can anyone even remember anything about the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare trailer? Because I can't. Even Hardline gave a better showing at E3 this year, and that 's basically an inconsistent BF4 reskin job (but with better netcode). Even Activision seem to have realised that Call of Duty's days of phoning it in might be slightly numbered, with a game that looks at first glance about as far away from COD as you might imagine.
It'll still sell, it always does, but one gets the impression that Activision and its studios might have work a little harder than usual because...
Even the most stale genres are seeing innovation
The FPS genre often comes under fire for playing things safe, but there were a few reveals at E3 that pointed towards some seriously cool progression. The first is absolute destruction. This is what we want, and Rainbow Six: Siege pointed the way forwards. We've been begging DICE for years to give us true destruction, we've always wanted to be able to breach and clear any surface, and that's exactly what that look at R6 gave us.
"I'm gonna make a new door in this wall," came the voiceover. And then he did. This is what we want -- unscripted, genuinely dynamic destruction, because it can turn a boring duplex into a thrilling, tension-stuffed crucible.Click here to read more...
E3 has just hurtled past us once again and there were new games all over the shop. That long-rumoured Halo collection, new Zelda, Rainbox Six: Siege, Crackout 3, Scalebound, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Bloodborne, Little Big Planet 3 and more were officially unveiled. We also got to see some gameplay demos for the likes of Battlefield: Hardline, Assassin's Creed Unity, The Division, Xenoblade Chronicles X and Mirror's Edge. So much to be excited for, it's just a shame that most of it won't be here until 2015.
We took some time to play some games this week too rather than just write about them until 4:30am. So be sure to check out our reviews for Mario Kart 8, Borderlands 2 Vita, Entwined, Tomodachi Life, WildStar and -deep breath- Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition Ex Plus Alpha.
In our features section you can find multiple staff roundtable articles on how we think Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA and Ubisoft performed at E3, along with a few opinion pieces on the show. We've been able to play some of the hottest upcoming releases this week too, mainly the Battlefield: Hardline beta and the alpha test for Destiny - so be sure to check out our videos and articles on those two massive games. Matt brings the Noob back to the world of WildStar and in the wake of E3 also examines the controversial decision by Ubisoft to not include female assassin's in Unity's co-op mode. Other videos on site this week include footage of Entwined, Tango Fiesta, the podcast and an interview for Alien: Isolation. Over the next seven days, we'll have more of the best news, features and reviews for you once again. It's a good thing this Destiny alpha ends tomorrow morning or you may be looking at a considerably slimmer roundup next week!Click here for the article links.
Entwined is apparently an artistic representation of the love between a bird and a fish -- dancing about one another like a twin-stick take on a 3D Sonic bonus level. It emerged in surprising fashion at Sony's E3 press conference, a pleasant interlude between brooding, big-budget titles, that injected some colour into proceedings.
A blue, origami bird comes to rest on a body of water as twinkly music plays, and an orange papercraft fish bobs its head out the water to meet its feathery chum. They touch noses, it's all very cute. The bird guides the fish skywards, and they shoot forward down a series of psychedelic cylindrical paths that will span nine lifetimes (levels) and see player guiding the two creatures through colour-coded rings of sorts that twist and turn, creating a playful dance between the two creatures. They occupy separate halves of the screen, occasionally meeting in the middle as the coloured gates demand -- orange and blue individually, green when they meet.
The patterns of the gates/rings/checkpoints, whatever you want to call them, twist and turn, becoming more complex as the game progresses. In between these sections, you collect coloured orbs to fill progression meters for each creature. Then, if you successfully manage to guide them through the channels of rings, you keep the orbs. If you skip a ring, the bar drains. To begin with, these channels arrive one at a time in simple patterns, but it's not long before they begin to shift in length and distance, sometimes alternating at speed, before starting to move and undulate, forcing you to keep careful control over both creatures at the same time across different sticks.Click here to read more...
We've been talking a lot about this ridiculous notion of "who won E3?" as if there's some objective way of determining a victor from a series of press conferences. We could say that Microsoft's was the tightest, EA had nothing really to show and Hardline unfortunately leaked, Ubisoft gave us another year of the Aisha Tyler experience, Sony bookend a superfluous hour of fluff with some really good reveals, and Nintendo brought the whimsical charm in a way that only Nintendo can.
Seriously, that Nintendo Direct was pure fan service.
But trying to analyse these things objectively is super boring, and we have to talk about things like "the mechanics of the perfect presentation" and waffle on about pacing and procedure and there are line graphs (not even brightly coloured pies FFS!) and it's like sitting through that EA presser all over again. "Who won E3?" is not a question that should or even can be answered objectively. We're all different people with different tastes in games, looking for different things from this carnival of interactive entertainment.
My outlook going into E3 was simple: I wanted things to be excited for this year. I wanted Microsoft and Nintendo to give me reasons for investing in their consoles this year. I wanted EA and Ubisoft to make me hyped for October, November, and December, and I wanted Sony to capitalise on their start to this generation with a strong end of year line up. To be honest, all of those happened to a certain extent, but on the basis of my criteria going in, my own personal winner of E3 this year is a no-brainer.
It's Microsoft.Click here to read more...
Well the press conferences (and one pre-recorded Nintendo Direct) have come and gone, and in this special edition of Game Buzz, we pick apart the showing from all five big cheeses at this year's E3, and give a little insight into some of our personal highlights of the show thus far.
We'll nominate our winners and losers of the show thus far, before dropping the answer to the biggest and most redundant question of them all -- who won E3 2014?
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.
The E3 press conferences have come to an end and we've much to be excited about. All manner of tasty games and huge reveals broke cover over the last 48 hours -- I'm personally still beside myself with anticipation for Xenoblade Chronicles X and Rainbow Six: Siege -- meaning that we've rarely been more thrilled about being part of the greatest hobby on the planet. We'll be able to play some fantastic stuff, no matter what platform or console we own.
In 2015. Those four little numbers became a recurring theme at this year's conference. Looking forward to the future is all well and good, but what about this year? Where are the big Christmas 2014 exclusives?
On Xbox One, by the looks of it. Microsoft have seized the initiative by locking Christmas down in the short term... while Sony have once again reverted to type by focusing on their classic long game.
Click here to read more...
Well, we got new Zelda, we even got a new IP, and Reggie squared off against Iwata in the thunderdome! Nintendo's E3 Direct was a wonderfully charismatic, effortlessly charming affair, a stark contrast to the business-like boredom of EA's yesterday. But did they steal the show?
That was almost everything I was hoping for from Nintendo at this year's E3. The opening was fantastic -- Nintendo Robot Chicken, Reggie vs Iwata, Miis in Smash Bros -- the whole thing was just pure fan service, and it only got better when Reggie moved out of the way fairly swiftly and allowed the games to speak for themselves.
Yoshi's Woolly World looks like a hug. It looks like someone took a hug and turned it into a video game. That whole section was so stuffed with whimsy that my cheeks started to ache from smiling. The same goes for the Amiibo announcement -- we've long said that a Nintendo Skylanders initiative that took advantage of the WIi U's underused NFC capabilities would quite possibly print money, it's good to see that finally happening. I will want all of them.
This was the presentation that we'd called on Nintendo to deliver, and boy did they do just that. Mario Maker is an outstanding idea that seems perfectly pitched towards community involvement and fostering a real spirit of creativity on the Wii U. The only question around that is how on earth no one thought of the idea sooner. Xenoblade Chronicles X is still looking absolutely fantastic, though given it was announced back in January 2013, it would have been nice to have seen a bit more of it, and the same can be said of the new Zelda reveal. It's exactly what we wanted, with a drop-dead gorgeous unveiling and the promise of a truly open world, but I desperately wanted them to show me more.Click here to read more...
We'll embed the feed here once it appears, but in the meantime here's the Reggie Fils-A-Mech to get you warmed up...
It ought to be so very easy for Nintendo this year. Microsoft kicked things off well and Sony, for all of their needless waffling, had some cracking announcements too. But Nintendo have beloved IPs in spades. They've shied away from using them particularly well the last couple of years, but we fully expect at least one announcement (probably Zelda) to try and capitalise on the positive momentum that Mario Kart 8 has generated. After being much maligned for eighteen months, is it finally time for the Wii U to come out swinging?
Dear god we hope so!Click here to read more...
It's often the biggest show of the day -- Sony traditionally close out E3 press conference day with a leviathan of an event, and this year's case was no different. But after Microsoft seriously raised the bar earlier, could Sony deliver and put uncertainty over its PS4 games line up to bed?
Once again Sony managed to stretch 75 minutes of content into more than two hours of bloated padding. Instead of learning about The Last Guardian and God Of War, we got to watch a bald bloke talk about a TV series called 'Powers' that's only coming to the States. Good use of time there. When Microsoft comes across as more focused on games than you are, things have clearly gone very wrong indeed.
Despite all the pomp and circumstance of Sony's event, a few British devs working out of a Guildford lockup stole the show. No Man's Sky looks incredible, boasting scale from the tiniest atom to the limits of the galaxy, procedurally generating an entire universe to explore forever. Oh, ambassador. You are really spoiling us. It's just the tip of an indie iceberg, too, a cavalcade of boutique loveliness coming to Sony's machine including Entwined and Broforce.
It's fantastic. Wonderful. Varied. Beautiful. But... none of it makes me want to buy a PS4. I already have a PC for that.
LittleBigPlanet 3 is the sort of game that'll make me take the plunge, but not until I know whether those new characters aren't just a gimmick shoved in by a new developer. The platforming mechanics still look ridiculously cumbersome. But I can't resist Sackboy's charms, not to mention all that lovely content. Bloodborne will also shift units and delight our inner gothic masochist.
I'm excited about PlayStation TV even though the Vita received short shrift, beyond more Remote Play functionality. That device is gorgeous and deserves more exclusives, so naturally I'll be keen to get on Tales Of Graces R as soon as possible.
Uncharted's brief teaser was fun -- and bereft of meaningful gameplay -- but what about God Of War? Or Guerrilla's RPG project? Or The Last Guardian? I mean, I enjoyed GTA V and The Last Of Us, but "enjoyed" is the operative world in the past tense. Where are the big exclusives -- and the Christmas games to boot?
Gamescom, hopefully. I'm desperate for an excuse to buy a PS4 this year... and to be perfectly honest, I don't feel that Sony have delivered.
Still, I'll drift off to sleep dreaming of No Man's Sky.Click here to read more...
Apparently, according to Sony at least, greatness awaits. But that was the motto last year, and although the PS4 itself is pretty sweet, the lack of games has been a problem. We're still waiting, Sony.
Hopefully, though, the quiet that has concerned us so these past few months will be blown away in tonight's press conference. We're expecting big names, for Sony to leverage its extensive first and second party partners to drop some serious surprises. Oh, and some more Vita games would be nice too.Click here to read more...
Ubisoft took the stage in the wake of a bit of a dud from EA, buoyed once again by the presence of Aisha Tyler and a lineup that everyone had kind of sussed already...one super awesome reveal aside.
But it wasn't Beyond Good & Evil 2.
Oh Ubisoft, you know me too well. Despite showing me no actual gameplay of Far Cry 4, that introductory one-sided chat with the new villain has me desperate for more seeing as I was such a fan of the last game. It looks like the new guy is going to have a crack at being a little bit more insane than Vaas too. Running in the in-game engine, the graphical detail was astonishing, and I'm coming round to thinking that maybe the Himalaya's could be a great setting after all.
Sadly, my internet collapsed for a few minutes during the Assassin's Creed Unity part, but from what I did see, the detail seems have increased over Black Flag on PS4, suggesting that the switch to new-gen only consoles has allowed Ubisoft to really unleash their graphical prowess.
Valiant Hearts looks set to be a deeply emotional experience, despite Ubisoft's latest trailer not giving anyone a damn clue what sort of game it is. But I still really want it. I don't know how they do that. Maybe after my 11th cup of coffee this evening, I just become super agreeable.Click here to read more...