F1 2015 has emerged from the pits gleaming and ready to race. Sporting a brand new engine, it's rebuilt from the ground up, both in terms of visuals, content, handling, AI and presentation.
That's a good thing too, because we had to bring out the Safety Car for F1 2014. "To be honest you're best off ignoring it and investigating next year's effort instead," we wrote in our review, criticising its recycled content and lousy GamePad controls. There was fun to be had with the right racing wheel, but it's clear that Codemasters had their work cut out.
Now that we've been able to get hands-on with "next year's effort," I'm delighted to report that F1 2015 is a very different beast. Though there's work to be done, it's clear that Codies are dead-set on finishing in pole position and are well on the way to doing just that.
Seeing as we're talking about a racing sim, it's only fitting that we start with the engine. F1 2015 is powered by EGO 3, which is brand new and built entirely from scratch. Every asset is therefore completely original, from the models and textures to the re-recorded engine sounds for each manufacturer and even the race engineer banter, which will now burst forth from your DualShock 4 if playing on PS4. Lighting and frame rate has been boosted across the board with PC and current-gen systems in mind. Booting up the Singapore circuit during a vicious midnight rainstorm, I was keen to put Codies' boasts to the test.Click here to read more...
It shouldn’t be too surprising that the Nazi Zombie Army spin-offs for the Sniper Elite series have been rather popular. After all, pairing up the brilliant yet disgusting x-ray cam with 4-player co-op gameplay in which you slay the undead masses comes across as a sure fire recipe for success. So, with the creation of a third and final campaign – in which you’ll be taking out Zombie Hitler himself – developers Rebellion have decided to take all the graphical and gameplay improvements from Sniper Elite 3, apply them to their two previous campaigns, and release it all as Zombie Army Trilogy.
It’s a watershed moment for developers Rebellion, as they are self-publishing the release on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One for the first time. You could tell there was a sense of pride about it all as the team showed off the game to a crowd of press at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square, London, a venue famed for showing cult horror classics. Four of the developers gave us a live demonstration on the big screen, showing us a bit of the third campaign and the newly added Horde mode, but after that we were invited to get hands-on and see for ourselves why, regardless of if you’ve played it before, Zombie Army Trilogy will be an essential purchase for co-op fans.Click here to read more...
Playing the beta? Check out Brendan's Battlefield Hardline Survival Guide!
After getting to grips with the game last year and lamenting that it felt like a BF4 mod rather than anything particularly fresh, Battlefield: Hardline proceeded to miss its original drop date, and got pushed back to this year. We rejoiced in the hopes of the developers using the extra time to work out what it was that they actually wanted to do with Hardline, maybe even giving the game some semblence of an identity beyond that of its predecessor. Well, now there's a new beta out and, having spent several hours playing cops and robbers in the new build, here are a bunch of our impressions on the latest slice of action from Visceral games and DICE.
Battlefield Hardline is back and much has improved. Instead of feeling like a palette swap, it now feels like a DLC pack.
Improvement is a very relative thing, I suppose.Click here to read more...
To say that we were not exactly impressed with Battlefield: Hardline's testing period last year would be an understatement, and we weren't the only ones to find ourselves wondering if Hardline would just be a skins-and-maps download expansion for Battlefield 4. To call Hardline a palette-swap might have been something of a disservice at the time given that what we saw of it was just a sliver of the full game, but that didn't stop many fans from levelling that accusation at Visceral Games and DICE, and writing Hardline off as an attempt at annualisation that one could afford to skip out on until Battlefield 5 turns up.
To be honest, playing through familiar game types like Conquest and Team Deathmatch in this week's beta, that's probably still a fair reaction. Then again, when you slap a huge, recognisable brand like "Battlefield" on a game, you're rather limiting your own options for diversification.
That being said, the Bank Job map included in this beta actually does a decent job of making the Heist game mode that we tried out last year feel like something a little new. Robbers go for the loot, and have to work together to drill through and collect the swag, defending their position until they're ready to depart and head for a randomly generated exit route via a spawned helicopter. The cops, of course, have to stop that from happening... by any means necessary.
Scurrying around the Downtown level we played on last year, things devolved into spray-and-pray anarchy relatively quickly, but on the Bank Job map, the overwatch spots for the cops and the tight corridors of the bank make teamwork an absolute must. It's no Payday 2, mind, but it's a little more strategic than we've previously seen, particularly when plotting your entry routes to the target building. Outside, however, things get pretty familiar pretty quickly, and vehicles are disabled in this mode, sort of nerfing Battlefield's trademark best qualities. The addition of things like ziplines and grappling hooks are nice, but if you're a fan of heist titles that lean towards meticulous planning, you're going to be disappointed here.Click here to read more...
The title says it all, really. Watch me crush some AI hunters, destroy their ship and eradicate the humans from Shear in this new gameplay video, playing as the brand new Wraith Monster in the newly-announced Evacuation Mode.
Then click here to read our Evolve preview.Click here to watch our new Evolve gameplay footage >>
Watch your back, Hunters.
It might be easy to spot a rampaging Goliath or a menacing Kraken as it hovers overhead, but Evolve's newest monster is the stuff of nightmares. She'll hunt you in the shadows, pick you off one by one and rip an unprepared hunting party to pieces with massive bladed scythes before melting into the mists. The Wraith completely changes the way you play, whether the hunter or the hunted, and adds a nervy new dimension to Turtle Rock's shooter.
Last week I attended a lengthy hands-on preview session to personally test out the Wraith in action, as well as the newly announced Evacuation campaign that adds some much-needed value to the package. Though Evolve is still a tough sell, there certainly seems to be a lot more bang for your buck now.Click here to read more...
You're going to absolutely love The Order: 1886, PS4 fans.
Well, if you adore quick-time events, that is. And games rigidly holding your hand. And not being able to deviate from mission parameters at all. Oh, and if the mere thought of instafail stealth gets you all tingly. Basically, if you're a fan of outdated, outmoded, excruciatingly linear game design, you're going to love The Order: 1886.
I find it quite interesting that in a period where more and more games are seeking to give more power to the players, just how stupid The Order: 1886 deems those holding the gamepad. This slice of cinematic (yep, there's that word) steampunk Victoriana shares the Puritanical tendencies one might have found in that time period, only it rigidly applies it to your enjoyment and engagement. I was recently privy to a brief hands-on demo of the game, and it succeeded in convincing me that everything I feared about The Order: 1886 was true.
It's a gorgeous game that absolutely hates being a game.Click here to read more...
"The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing 2 punches well above its weight and ends up as a markedly superior game. Seriously, even the optional tower defence sections are good enough to be a standalone game in their own right."
I'm not trying to take credit for Deathtrap -- even I'm not that egotistical -- but I certainly called it in our Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing II review. NeoCore are already masters at creating rock-solid action RPG gameplay with compelling progression and great combat, so having discovered a knack for tower defence too, they decided to build a brand new game mixing all three elements together.
The result is half Diablo-style dungeon crawler, half tower defender and all delightfully OTT gothic horror romp. With multiple classes, tricky mazes, hordes of enemies, addictive levelling, versatile upgrades, co-op, infinite user-generated content and more besides, Deathtrap expertly blends the strategy of tower defence with the insanely hectic combat of Diablo. It's an example of a tower defence RPG hybrid that actually tries to break the mold, and rise above the pack in an otherwise crowded sub-genre.
And because it's built on the dependable Van Helsing foundation, it's also an example of an Early Access game that actually works!Click here to read more...
LittleBigPlanet 3 is out next week, and I sat down with Sumo Digital designer Jonathan Christian for a massive last-minute chat. Over eighteen minutes we cover the new story details, brand new gameplay features, differences between versions, amazing new create mode functionality and working with Hugh Laurie.
This is pretty much everything you need to know about LittleBigPlanet 3 in one convenient place.
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...
I'm quite excited for Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault. I must admit that I'm more of an offline player than an online one, having had my backside handed to me on numerous occasions, but that's what this expansion is all about. Just like Western Front Armies, Ardennes Assault will be a standalone slice of strategic action, but one that eschews the linearity of COH 2's campaign for something a little more dynamic.
My preview for Ardennes Assault went live yesterday, and here's what I had to say about my time with the game in my closing paragraph:
The bottom line is that Ardennes Assault finally brings the feeling of grand strategy and broader tactical thinking to bear on a game that has been renowned for tactical gameplay on a smaller, more individual scale. Company of Heroes has long been a series that is all about making the best with what you have, realising the importance of different individual units and the ways in which they can complement one another. Now, added to that formula, there's more of an opportunity to be a true armchair general, as well as a major on the field. It looks like it truly present the best of both worlds, and that's very exciting indeed.
As well as going hands-on with the game, I also had the opportunity to sit down with campaign designer, Mitch Lagran, to have a chat about the changes that Relic have made and the ambitions that the studio has going forwards.Check out the interview after the jump >>
It's always a good sign when a preview event starts wrapping up and the first thing you think is 'Nooooo, please let me take this game with me'. It was nice to place the latest standalone expansion pack for Company of Heroes 2 in context, with our gaggle of assembled European writers given a tour of the Bastogne barracks -- the operational heart of the Allied war effort during the Battle of the Bulge -- before checking out the game inspired by that bloody piece of history.
Inspired is certainly the word, as Relic have used the events of the battle to bookend this particular experience. Essentially, Ardennes Assault gives players the freedom to plan out their own military machinations in the region by way of a 'meta map'. If The Western Front Armies provided a multiplayer introduction to this newly explored theatre of war and the factions involved, the Ardennes Assault pack is the singleplayer counterpoint -- an expansion that zooms in on three individual companies and their commanding officers, struggling to take control of a region filled with constantly shifting German divisions. The idea is clear -- to present a relatively open ended canvas, framed by history, upon which we armchair generals might paint our personal tactical masterpieces.
Our two-hour session with the game consisted of playing the same mission multiple times. Set not far from Bastogne in the town of Houffalize, the skirmish in which we were involved saw us trying to join up with an allied column to the north, cutting through German-controlled territory, overrunning the enemy's artillery stations, and co-opting the massive guns for our own purposes. By focussing in on this single mission (there will be 18 in total we're told -- seven rather broad encounters and eleven more scripted scenarios) several times over, we were able to see how the different companies performed, and how the map changed depending upon what stage of the campaign we were at when we took the plunge.Click here to read more...
People tell me that cutting-edge graphical tech is absolutely crucial for attaining that most hallowed of made-up buzzwords: immersion. I understand that point of view and the logic behind it, but also contend that it's complete and total bollocks.
See, for the last few weeks I've been compulsively glued to a primitive early alpha that uses the bare minimum to ground you in an evocative lonely Sci-Fi universe, by making your computer monitor look like a different computer monitor.
Duskers casts you as a astronaut castaway in the depths of space, running out of rations and going half-mad from isolation, desperately eking out the last of your days by salvaging any usable supplies from derelict space hulks. You'll use your precious supplies just to travel between them, meaning that you have to find food or die of starvation, but in a unique twist you'll never personally leave your ship.
Without a viable space suit, you'll instead rely on a handful of remote-controlled drones that become your only means of exploring the wrecks, your eyes, ears and hands, and also your only friends in an otherwise hostile and empty universe. As such, both you and the astronaut stare at the same arcane control interface -- your computer monitor and keyboard -- connecting and immersing you in the game world in a unique and deeply chilling way.
After all, your drones aren't alone out there... and without them you're as good as dead.Click here to read more...
DieselStormers is billed as "high-octane carnage for 1-4 players featuring customizable motorguns, gas-guzzling knight armour, generated levels and randomized loot" on its Steam Early Access listing, but I much prefer the description that Black Forest games gave me in an interview last summer. It really is "Metal Slug meets Left 4 Dead meets a nuclear pinball machine."
Back then it was known as Project Ravensdale, and following their release of the brilliant Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, Black Forest games were confident in another Kickstarter success. They failed, but a name change and Steam's Early Access scheme finally put DieselStormers on track.
Which leaves us with an unfinished yet very promising cooperative run and gun romp that resembles the legendary action platformers of yesteryear, only in a Dieselpunk fantasy universe with goblin bullet hell death balloons, persistent crafting and electric ninja ropes a go-go.Click here to read more...
Chances are, you're either a big fan of the Dark Souls series or you just can't be doing with their brand of no-nonsense difficulty and downright unresponsive controls.
Me? I'm not a fan and haven't been since I played the original Demon's Souls. So why am I the one talking to you about Bloodborne, a game by the same devs and seen as a potential killer exclusive on the PS4 for fans of From Software’s series? Well, after trying out the recent Alpha, I'm thinking maybe Bloodborne will be worth a look after all and those of you that aren't fans of the Souls games probably shouldn't dismiss it so soon.
Is it still hard? Of course, and the checkpoints (or lack of them in the Alpha) will certainly make your eyes water a little and I'm sure there will be plenty of difficulty settings to nail that feel of trapping your junk in your zip, or stubbing your toe for hours on end or what other kink that makes you keep playing these bastards.
So, let's dive into the Alpha demo. First of all you're given the option of four different characters with four varying weapon loadouts. The first is the one you may have seen in past footage with a blunderbuss gun and a saw cleaver, this was the first one I tried. The second was armed with a pistol and a sword that could split into two blades at the touch of a button.Click here to read more...
I'm really enjoying This War of Mine.
Actually, that's wrong. "Enjoying" is too jolly a word for such a bleak game. This War of Mine puts you in control of a band of civilian survivors trying to eke out an existence in the rubble of a war zone. Food is scarce, illness is widespread, and extreme circumstances have led many into taking extreme measures to survive. The pockets of humanity that are left are rife with mistrust and paranoia, and you must do all that you can to keep your characters alive.
Well... "must" is a strong word too.
See, This War of Mine is all about choices. It's what you might expect The Walking Dead to look like if they replaced the zombie apocalypse with a war-torn one, and took the shackles off the story so you could create your own survival narrative packed with questionable decision and moral crises.
As you'll see in the video, the characters you take control of are not hardened action heroes or gritty folk well-seasoned in the art of living off the grid. These are regular Joes and Janes, people who never thought they'd live through times such as those depicted here. Their concerns are basic -- food, warmth, health, safety -- but I was struck by the appearance of "sad" in their character files after I accidentally got one of them killed on a night-time scouting mission. Clicking them open, I realised that they'd been chronicling the days through brief journal entries -- character reflecting on the things that I'd caused to happen. The mental strain of it all taking a toll on their efficiency.Click here to read more...
If you're new to the Might & Magic Heroes series, sorry, but the seventh instalment isn't going to make things easy for you.
Set between Heroes VI and Heroes V (yes, they're in canonical order, just run with it), Heroes VII chronicles the epic power struggle ignited by the Falcon Empress' murder. Ivan Griffin, a noble member of the Griffin Family, steps into the vacuum and gains the support of the other races of Ashan, who advise him from behind the scenes as a Shadow Council. In order to convince the unwilling hero to step up to the plate, the council representatives tell their own stories to convince him that he's the right man for the throne.
Or, in other words, we've got another excuse to partake in some streamlined strategic turn-based battles that resemble Chess and Pokemon in equal measure, with all manner of mythological creatures at our command. Limbic Entertainment clearly don't want to deviate from the formula, but they have been busy ensuring that Heroes VII makes Ashan feel like a living, real place.Click here to read more...
Another year, another spectacular season of Formula 1 racing, another Codemasters tie-in. F1 2014 is out next month on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, giving racing fans their authentic simulation fix without having to buy into any new hardware to calm the shakes.
Having tested the in-development project at Namco's UK headquarters last week, I can report that it is indeed an F1 racing game. I'm not sure what else really needs to be said on that front.
Despite being a relatively early build awaiting visual polish and optimisation, it's clear that the handling is still delightfully scalable and the experience feels authentically F1 thanks to the updated team rosters, cars and the addition of the Sochi Autodrom. New players can leap straight into a one-lap evaluation, which automatically grades their skill level and sets the rebalanced difficulty appropriately, whereas veterans can get to grips with ERS and the new fuel limits.
However, rather than slogging away at a full season (which can now be approached in marathon sessions or smaller chunks), I decided to revisit my favourite feature from F1 2013: the Scenario Mode. Newly expanded in F1 2014, it's another selection of bite-sized challenges that throw you straight into an exciting situation and forces you to overcome increasingly long odds -- many of which are drawn directly from recent racing history and feature some well-observed cutscenes whether you win or lose.
Once again, I suspect that completing your gold medal set is going to be one of the most compelling parts of the package. Since I'll be describing many of these challenges in detail, I suppose you could argue that we need a spoiler alert. Maybe.Click here to read more...
There's a reason why The Crew has taken so long to develop. It's breathtakingly ambitious.
Ubisoft describe it as an "MMO driving experience," but it's really an enormous adventure playground for cars shaped like the United States. Instead of swings and roundabouts we have enormous caricatures of American cities, national parks, famous landmarks, miles upon miles of road and terrain to explore. Instead of slides and climbing frames we have ski slopes, ramps and hills. The Crew is stuffed with events, races and mingames, whether you're hammering around a street circuit, ramming a high value target into the Grand Canyon or smashing through a dense forest like the Endor scene from Return Of The Jedi. Only with a LaFerrari instead of a speeder.
We enter this crazy canvas alone and offline or online with other players streamed into our session, able to meet up with our friends, join factions, and complete all events in competitive co-op. We'll continually earn new cars, parts and upgrades. And on top of all that, there's even a story.
This all sounds good, but the more moving parts a game has, the more likely it is to go spectacularly wrong. After testing the latest Xbox One production build for several hours at Ubisoft UK's Guildford HQ, I'm inclined to believe that the The Crew is more or less on the right track -- and significantly more fun when you leave the track behind to go exploring with a few mates.Click here to read more...
Shadow Warrior was a proper breath of fresh air in an industry obsessed with 'shared worlds' and 'cinematic narratives' when all you really need are great big guns and hordes of beasties to point them at. Plus sprawling levels stuffed with hilarious secrets.
"If you miss the thrill of classic old-school shooters, the simple joy of blasting hordes of foes with oversized weapons and ferreting around for secrets, quicksaving and circle-strafing all the while, you should buy Shadow Warrior immediately," I wrote in last year in our Shadow Warrior PC review.
Now Flying Wild Hog's retro-themed slaughterfest is coming to Xbox One and PS4, the latter of which I was able to test out earlier this week. The result? Shadow Warrior is still a real, slam-bang, honest-to-goodness, three-fisted humdinger.
Click here to read more...