Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 (previewed)
It's been half a decade since Race Driver: GRID released, and in that time we've seen multiple instalments of racing franchises such as Forza, Need For Speed, and Codemasters' own DiRT series. In that time, much of what the original GRID has stood for has seemingly become rather unfashionable. "Narratives in racing games?!" critics and consumers scoff alike. "Whoever heard of such a thing?" You only have to look at the almost aggressively apathetic reaction to The Run to see that we've potentially moved on.
Of course, it could just be argued that we simply don't appreciate mediocre games.
"I think that's the key," says senior game designer Lee Roberts. "We've experimented with storytelling in racing games before in the Race Driver games, we know what we're about, and we know what it is that we want to be doing. Racing games will always be about competitive multiplayer and beating your mates, but we want to appeal to gamers who like to play offline too and give them something to connect with. So we have this story that puts you at the forefront of this new racing movement -- WSR -- and you'll meet characters and other racers along the way who'll become rivals, so we can try and replicate some of the feeling you get when playing online against someone you really want to beat."Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS3 | PS4 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One | Wii U | 3DS | PS Vita (previewed)
Developers: System 3
System 3's "best game never released for the Amiga" is back. Putty Squad, which did manage to make it onto the SNES in 1994 where everyone promptly ignored it, is being resurrected for System 3's 30th anniversary celebration. This time, it's coing to pretty much every platform you can think of and, if all goes well, there might even be a super-limited run of classic Amiga copies on-disc for old school collector types. Maybe, they're still ironing the kinks out on that front.
Of course, what reviewed fantastically well back in 1994 might not fare so well in 2013. Then again, it looks like System 3 have that pretty well covered.
You play as the titular hero Putty, who can perform platforming tricks that Mario and Sonic can only dream of -- stretching out and elongating his body to span gaps, punch bad guys, inflating like a balloon, absorbing items into his gelatinous body to be used at a later stage such as arrows and bombs and an airship. Plopped down into a series of non-linear levels, your job is to collect as many of the little red putties in a level as you find, triggering their appearances by solving environmental puzzles, navigating hazards of all shapes and sizes, and punching dapper cats.Click here to read more...
Developer: Nine Dots Studio
Space: the final frontier. Ever since man first looked up at the stars, we've always dreamed of reaching that wild black yonder... before strapping into a sleek fighter and rendering entire battlefleets into space dust with obscene amounts of neon firepower. Well, speaking for myself, at least. Kickstarter is allowing the dormant space combat genre to finally make a welcome resurgence, but now that we've played Strike Suit Zero and await the likes of Limit Theory, Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen, a new contender approaches from the humblest of origins.
Nine Dots Studio, who graduated from Xbox Live Indie Games, are working on a competitive 4v4 space sim that fits neatly into the popular MOBA sub-genre. GoD Factory: Wingmen locks two teams in a battle for survival and territory, tasked with destroying their foe's hulking carrier ship while defending their own. Boasting simple yet effective arcade mechanics, fast-paced combat alongside robust persistent ship customisation, this indie effort promised an exciting new take on the genre.
Having recently tested a very early alpha build, I'm inclined to agree.
Click here to read more...
Developer: Carbine Studios
If you have been paying attention to my ramblings on the site for the last few years, you’ll already know that I have been keeping a excited eye on WildStar, the upcoming MMORPG from Carbine Studios and NCSOFT. Their Sci-fi-western setting really impressed me back at its unveiling during Gamescom 2011, and while they didn’t plan on “reinventing the wheel” in terms of gameplay mechanics, they were aiming to make it a fun experience, pure and simple.
Now, it’s been quite some time since I last saw the game in person, and we’ve learned a lot more about what will be included in the online experience (such as player housing, warplots, and the introduction of the Dominion faction) but last week I was invited to a press event to finally get some hands-on time with the game. Additionally, I got to chat to game design producer Stephan Frost, but before any of that I sat through a presentation of the two videos that were unleashed online this morning which highlight the player paths system, before being given more information on how the Settler and Scientist paths would impact gameplay.
I also got to build a house with ALL of the pillows, but more on that later.Click here to read more...
Developers: Naughty Dog
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Lincoln unfolds before us, a lush, verdant landscape of dilapidated, crumbling buildings succumbing to nature's throttling embrace. “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” says Ellie, commenting on a little patch of woodland. Her relatively cloistered life up to this point, not to mention her age (she's fourteen), has given her a certain childlike wonder when it comes to the calm, still surroundings. Little creatures dash about here and there, somehow having escaped the clutches of the virulent fungal infection that has starved the city of humanity.
Whereas the demo we played previously was a very tense, rather linear affair, with a number of claustrophobic, interior sections, this new build manages to evoke a sense of openness, particularly when we manage to overcome our first obstacle: a chain-link fence.
Where Nathan Drake would have leapt over the thing, probably slipping halfway for a quick QTE, The Last of Us' Joel simply picks up a plank nearby and uses it to bridge a gap between buildings. It's a simple, effective solution to a pleasantly organic puzzle of sorts that subtly highlights the fact that this game is all about the simple things: scavenge what you can, make use of the environment. There were no heroic acrobatics to be had here, but there's a pleasant solidity to everything, Joel seems to handle a little heavier than Nate, and that physicality will become impactful in time.Click here to read more...
Matt Gardner (Dealspwn): I saw the first incarnation of this game back at E3 2011, what's changed for the team in that time. Obviously everything went rather quiet for a while, now it's back it's a third-person game rather than a first-person game, the name has changed. Can you tell us about the journey this game has taken up to this point?
Nico Bihary (Producer, 2K Games): Sure, so back in 2011 we gave this presentation for a game with a first-person perspective. But it's funny, we always talk about what's changed, but I'd like to start with what's remained constant: a focus on squad-based, tactical combat, which was evident even in 2011.
As you'd go around in this first-person perspective, which was to serve an exploration and research need, every time you ran into an enemy, or a combat situation, you'd pull back into a third-person perspective, and UI would pop-up that was kind of like a less elegant version of the Battle Focus wheel we have in place now. There were similar mechanics between the two versions. But as we evaluated that mechanics, and really started developing those battle encounters, it really started to emerge as the “bullseye” of the gaming experience. So we looked at it and said that if third-person allows for a greater tactical-perspective, if it augments and enhances Battle Focus and makes using it intuitive, then the first-person perspective really became unnecessary.
As you're in development, there are times when a game will speak to you, and it'll become clear and tell you what's good about and what's perhaps not. And that was one of those moments: we realised that the first-person perspective was almost completely superfluous, and we came away with a more refined game, and something really good because of it.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC (tested) | PS3 | Xbox 360
Developers: 2K Marin
Publishers: 2K Games
The year is 1962. The Bay of Pigs Crisis has just happened. Paranoia is rife on the US mainland as the Cold War begins to kick off, and the world is plunging into a quagmire of paranoia, secrecy, mistrust, and clandestine ops.
Only the Communists aren't the real enemy at all.
The above forms the basis for 2K Marin's tactical action title, and if it sounds eerily familiar, well that's because it is.
"There wasn't a “Big Bang moment” where the [XCOM] service just came into being, so we really wanted to tell an origin story, and we really liked the idea of setting the game in 1962, just after the Bay of Pigs incident," producer Nico Bihary tells me. "So you have this global atmosphere of paranoia, it's the start of the Cold War, and set against that backdrop we have this really believable story about how XCOM could be formed.
"So we have this clandestine organisation, constructed to defend against enemy threats and covering them up, but it takes time. So we wanted to zero in on the Bureau as this organisation that really hasn't matured yet technologically or organisationally to fight off a massive alien threat, but was really established early on to be a counter-intelligence group."Click here to read more...
XCOM is back. Again! Only now 2K Marin's tactical shooter goes by a different name -- The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. We went hands-on with the game last week, and you'll be able to read our full preview and interview with producer Nico Bihary tomorrow. In the meantime, however, we realise that Marin's game, met with heavily polarised reactions when it was first announced way back in 2010, disappeared from view for a year or two. Much has changed since we saw it back at E3 in 2011, but here are eight reasons why we reckon it's worth a second chance having resurfaced now...
Let's clarify this. The very first notion -- the brief , unexpanded idea of rebooting X-COM as a shooter -- was awful. We strode into the makeshift presentation cinema at E3 back in 2011 fully prepared for a disaster. But instead, 2K Marin admitted that they'd made a huge mistake, and revealed that the game would now be a much more strategic venture.
To cut a long story short, read our XCOM preview from two years back: what Marin had in mind back then was perhaps clumsily conveyed, but it had promise. Promise that's now been realised.Click here to read more...
Developers: Daedalic Entertainment
Publishers: Daedalic Entertainment
The Night of the Rabbit looks, sounds, and feels like a children's fairytale come to life. The first taste of Daedalic's new point-and-click adventure game arrives with almost immediate overtones of Lewis Carroll's famous journey down a different rabbit hole, though married to elements of The Wind in the Willows and The Chronicles of Narnia. Given that you're relatively swiftly invited away from a world we know and recognise to a foreign land of mystery and magic, led on by a flamboyant Marquis (who happens to be a bunny), I keep thinking of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
No matter the particular reference points and personal associations, what's important is that The Night of the Rabbit feels very much like any number of magical adventures in which many of us will surely have wandered into at some point in our past. This particular tale deals with the story of one Jeremiah Hazelnut, a wide-eyed twelve year old boy who fosters dreams of one day becoming a magician. But the days of summer holiday are nearly up, and Jerry is dearly hoping to fill his remaining two pockets of freedom with as much adventure as possible.
So it is that a languid tutorial section which sees him venturing into the nearby forest to pick some berries eventually ends up with him summoning the Marquis de
Carabas Hoto, the aforementioned rabbit, who presents young Jeremiah with the perfect opportunity for adventure, and the chance to visit other worlds.
Developers: Relic Entertainment
The snow is littered with debris, and the smouldering husk of a German tank is all that remains of the penultimate armoured column on my hitlist. Six are down, only one remains. My veteran anti-tank commandos have done their jobs well, vanquishing their trundling, turreted adversaries with rifles and the occasional river. The fourth and fifth to fall were condemned to an icy grave after weakening a frozen river's surface and feigning a retreat. Now, however, the engineers who built fires to keep us safe from the cold are all face down in the dirt, and all I can do is watch my grizzled team slowly succumb to the freezing clutches of General Winter.
Just as my last triple-starred officer broaches line of sight on the final tank, he topples into the deep Siberian snow and snuffs it. The game's designer Jason Lee simply laughs at me. "To be honest," he says, "I didn't manage that one the first time around. But you came really close!" I can't tell if he's just being nice or not.
It's been a while since I've played Company of Heroes and, in that time, I've revisited my love for other RTS games such as Supreme Commander and Command & Conquer, not to mention real-time tactical gems such as Commandos. I always found that Company of Heroes managed to fulfil both sides of the coin rather well, providing a stage set for large-map strategy and resource balancing, alongside detailed micromanagement and a tactical challenge that few RTS titles could hope to stand up to.
So it is, having spent much of the last fortnight getting to grips with the multiplayer beta for Company of Heroes 2 and the upcoming game's Theatre of War mode, that I've found myself dying a lot. Half a decade of playing lesser strategy titles has only served to dull the mind and stiffen the fingers.Click here to read more...
Publisher: 2K Games
Considering that Brave New World is designed to be the final expansion for Civilization V, it's only fitting that it focuses on the endgame. While Gods & Kings did a great job of freshening up the mid-game, Firaxis' latest content drop is all about sweetening the pot for more culturally sensitive players or economy-focused traders, granting us a host of new features and systems to dominate the world through tourism, money or diplomacy. Artists slave away on immortal masterpieces, archaeologists scamper around to secure priceless artefacts, and powerful game-changing rules can be voted on in the new World Congress; conferring lasting boons or devastating embargoes.
If this is all sounding a little too refined and cultured for your tastes, you'll also be pleased to know that Shaka Of The Zulus is finally making a comeback, meaning that the more warlike amongst us will be able to crush their rivals before they've even researched gunpowder. Indeed, the only evidence they ever existed will be the occasional arrowhead dug up by modern day tomb raiders.
I recently sat down with Brave New World for a couple of hours, and suffice to say that Civilization players are probably going to get dragged back in for yet another long haul.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PSN | XBLA
Developers: Overkill Software
Publishers: 505 Games
The original PayDay: The Heist was something of a mixed bag, also taking the crown for having a slightly disingenuous title in that there was only really one level in which you actually got the chance to pull off an awesome heist: the aptly named 'Diamond Heist'.
Indeed, Diamond Heist is the level I bring up when the chaps at Overkill ask me if I enjoyed the first game. Out of the six jobs in the original Payday, it's Diamond Heist that sticks in the brain: a multi-stage, near-impossible mission. There are diamonds in a vault on the top floor of a skyscraper. It's a level that can be completed stealthily, but the random elements (changing keycodes, hostage willpower, alarm sensitivity) mean that almost never happens.
It's fantastic. And to think, that last level was a bit of an afterthought.
"In the first game we kind of said to one another, 'maybe we should incorporate some stealth mechanics', but we'd pretty much run out of time and money so we had to kind of shoehorn it into one of the stages: Diamond Heist," said the game's designer and composer Simon Viklund. "That level was a bit of a mess. We've put things right this time."Click here to read more...
When Jon got the chance to get hands-on with the upcoming MMO shooter last year, the words “ambitious” and “insane” were used to describe the overall project, and in fairness I had similar feelings when I was there for its unveiling to the press at Gamescom a few years back. Labelled as a “Trans-media project,” Defiance is to be the first online game that will coexist with a television show, broadcast by SyFy. While both entities will take place in different locations, the stories and characters will interject with one another and, perhaps more importantly, players will be able to influence the path of the story, as well as being affected by it.
The Sci-fi enthusiast in me adores the idea whole heartedly, but the success of the project ultimately comes down to two things – the quality of the storyline for both entities, and the gameplay of the online game being fun. I had previously been able to try out Defiance in a Beta Weekend at the beginning of the year, but with an NDA the size of the Great Wall halting me from saying (or showing) anything I was forced to keep my opinions to myself. However, as of last weekend Trion Worlds finally allowed players to tell the world about Defiance, so that is exactly what I am going to do with these new episodes of Dealspwn Playthrough. In this first episode, we take a look at the Character Creation process, and go through the initial gameplay sequence. We also take a quick look at the EGO system which allows players to pick their abilities and skills. See the video, along with a brief intro to what Defiance is, after the jump.Click here to read more...
Developer: Southend Interactive
Publisher: Deep Silver
I recently attended a Deep Silver showcase dominated by Saints Row IV, Metro: Last Light and Dead Island: Riptide, but every so often raucous laughter and high-fiving palmslaps mysteriously echoed from around the corner. It turns out that a fourth game had quietly slipped into the building, and while many of my peers did their best to ignore it, I couldn't help but investigate the telltale sounds of gamers having a damn good time.
As it turned out, the culprit was Sacred Citadel, a sidescrolling cooperative brawler in the vein of Guardian Heroes, but packing deep persistent RPG progression and gorgeously colourful art direction. More to point, a hollering crowd of bouncers, catering staff and even the duty manager of the venue spent an entire day crowding around a single screen; dropping in and out of the action, and clearly loving every minute of it. Basically, early impressions don't get any more promising than that.
Keen to know more about Sacred Citadel and its potential for couch cooperative brilliance, I sat down with creative producer Isaac Parakhen for a bit of a session. We still don't know whether there'll be another in-game metal gig, but fans of local co-op are probably in for a bit of a treat.
Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 (version tested)
Publishers: 505 Games
"I want you to know that games are my passion," says Josef Fares, a man celebrated in his native Sweden as a rather successful film director. "This isn't some bullshit 'EA PR stunt', I don't need that kind of attention. I've always wanted to make a video game; I'm a hardcore gamer myself and I truly believe that I can make a difference in this industry."
He's a charismatic fellow. This is a man who's used to press junkets and hardline questions from a homeland media representing very exacting and knowledgable consumer base. As such, there's none of the nervousness that occasionally greets these meetings between developers and games journalists. He understands that a 15 minute demo can't convey the artistic magnitude of the game that he's trying to present, and he's not bound by publisher-led censorship as he sounds off in a twenty minute introduction to Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons: a game of which he's fiercely proud.
"If, when you play it all of the way through, you don't feel the uniqueness of this game, you can kick me in the face," he says. He's smiling, but one gets the feeling he's deadly serious.Click here to read more...
Developers: Larian Studios
Publishers: Larian Studios
It's such an utterly fantastic name , and it brings with it two immediate connotations that form the fundamental core of this game: 1) It features dragons - surely the most badass of all fantastical creatures. 2) You are, for all intents and purposes in this game, the dog's bollocks. The top of the pack. Remember, Bond was a commander.
Say it with me. Dragon Commander.
It's the sort of high concept name that one might feasibly dream could have belonged to an arcade mainstay back in the 80s. But Larian's Divinity spin-off is an incredibly modern sort of game, given its scale and ambitions. A genre-hopping leviathan that takes great inspiration from a number of classic games across a range of genres, and whilst it could be argued that Divinity: Original Sin is perhaps the big draw of the day, after another appointment ushered me elsewhere in London, an early conclusion led me back to Larian to put more of Dragon Commander in my face.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PSN | XBLA
Developers: Mighty Rocket Studios
Publishers: Focus Home Interactive
On the one hand, it could be argued that Obscure is everything that is wrong with IP mismanagement. After all, the original was a quirky survival horror title from nearly a decade ago (which received mixed reviews), set in a high school, with four teenagers investigating strange goings-on, odd disappearances, and students turning into hideous monsters. On the other, this reboot seems like pick-up-and-play fun and, considering that Mighty Rocket Studios are made up of a number of the key development staff who worked on the original, it's pretty much theirs to do whatever they want with it.
"“It was impossible for us not to finish this game, because it’s our baby," expresses Mighty Rocket CEO Francois Potentier. We can see he's excited. He takes us through the game in breathless fashion, clearly thankful to be showcasing the revived IP. Considering that one direct sequel shipped and sank, a change of direction has clearly been deemed necessary. The scares and the scarce items are out, but the high school setting and the youthful protagonists are retained.
Potentier explains that whilst the original game's were attempting to tap into a popular genre at the time, survival horror has (arguably perhaps) fallen by the wayside in recent years. This reboot intends to provide some immediately accessible fun, attempting to poke fun at reams of horror cliches as it does so. "On the way to what should be the party of their lives, a group of young students will instead face off against hordes of aggressive and frightening creatures," reads the official tagline. "No horror cliche is safe from the chainsaw of the developer, Mighty Rocket Studio. It’s a wild mash-up of monsters, baseball bats, chainsaws, flamethrowers, and bursts of laughter!”Click here to read more...
Developers: Naughty Dog
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
At a time when survival horror seems to be a dirty phrase amongst mainstream triple-A development circles, it might seem odd that a critically acclaimed studio are eschewing the Indiana Jones-esque action-adventuring that placed them in the highest circles of elite games creation for something with more scares and less ammo. But this is Naughty Dog, after all; one of the hardest working outfits in the industry, and no-one could exactly accuse them of resting on their laurels.
When The Last of Us was unveiled back at E3 last year, it was the snapshots of sudden, brutal violence in a crumbling post-apocalyptic world that caught the eyes of an anticipatory public, and made the headlines. We were presented with the brief skeleton of a story that features the gruff, bearded Joel escorting a 14-year old fellow survivor named Ellie to some kind of safety. But it wasn't long before the cynical whispers began: what if it's 'just' Uncharted with mutant zombies? Will the shooting mechanics still be fairly mediocre? How many QTE button presses will it take to fend off these monster? Is that Ellen Page?
Having jumped into a fairly scripted (this is a Naughty Dog game) demo and gotten some hands-on time with The Last of Us, it's clear that certain things haven't changed from one franchise to the next. Joel moves and handles in much the same way that Nathan Drake did in his later appearances. Smooth traversal over objects comes at the push of a button, and the loose third-person perspective is instantly familiar.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS3 (previewed) | Xbox 360
Developers: Digital Extremes
Publishers: Namco Bandai
The Senior Vice President of Paramount Pictures, Brian Miller, took to a stage assembled on the lofty upper floor of London's Science Museum earlier this week to pay tribute a number of games - Mass Effect, Halo to name but two - without which, he said, the upcoming Star Trek game might never have been possible. "They showed us that there was a market for this sort of thing," he said, having declared that Digital Extremes and Paramount Pictures were readying a film tie-in "unlike anything that's ever been done before".
His inference was clear: film games tend to be crap. He's right, of course, cinematic IPs often end up spilling out into other other forms of media around release as part of generating hype and cashing in on a franchise's popularity. Licences are dished out with less than twelve months to go before general release, and corners are cut as dev teams scramble to fashion something (anything!) worthwhile.
But not in this case. Digital Extremes have been beavering away, with assistance from Paramount themselves, for three years on this game. The story has been penned by BAFTA award-winning scribe Marianne Krawczyk in conjunction with the film's writers Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci and, as Miller noted, this game sits canonically in between the events of 2009's film and the sequel coming this summer.Click here to read more...
To say that we here are Dealspwn have been keeping an eye on the development of Carbine Studio’s upcoming MMORPG WildStar would be something of an understatement – after all, I boldly made it my most anticipated game for 2013 during our 2012 Awards season. This is because to really set yourself apart from the rest of the MMO genre takes some doing, but from what we’ve seen so far from Carbine everything seems to be on track to make the online sci-fi-western experience a special one.
Up until recently we’ve only known about the Exile faction, but that changed with the unveiling of the Dominion – the other side that players will be able to choose from when the game (hopefully) goes live this year. We’ve already been given a taste of what sort of folk make up the Dominion in the personality video and the in-character interviews that were released (the third of which you'll be able to see this afternoon) but to get to know them a little better I decided to go straight to the source – lead narrative designer Chad Moore. A man who has over 18 years of industry experience under his belt, including work on classic RPGs Fallout 2 and Arcanum, he has been responsible with the conception and development of the story, the factions, the races, and the creatures that will inhabit the world of Nexus.
That’s a lot of information to keep under lock and key, but Carbine have slowly but surely giving the community meaty servings of information to digest, the Dominion reveal possibly being the largest yet. To that end, I asked Chad how he felt to finally be able to talk openly about dastardly yet rather stylish faction. “I couldn’t be happier,” he said, “I mean obviously we love the Exiles and we’ve talked a lot about them over the past year, but the Dominion is a really awesome and unique faction. We’ve got tons of lore about them, and obviously from their video they seem to have they own super unique personalities, and so it’s been liberating to say the least to actually be able to sit and talk about these guys and let the fans out there know “hey, there’s a whole other faction, and you’re going to love them for different reasons.”Click here to read more...