Words can't quite explain just how utterly bonkers Bayonetta 2 actually is, so here's a little video showcasing five of the most crazy happenings I've encountered thus far in the game. We can only talk about the game up to chapter five currently, but already I've unleashed a Hellish unicorn, surfed the tunnel of a tsunami on the steeple of a cathedral, stopped a Lumen Sage with an epic fistbump, and seen Black Santa wall-ride a department store in a Cadillac.
I can only apologise for the number of times words fail me in this video and I'm reduced to shouting "WHAT?!" in delighted confusion, but you'll hopefully understand why by the end.
Just in case I haven't told you yet, because I've got a sneaky suspicion that there are still some people out there who don't own a Wii U and therefore either haven't heard or fully understood the seriousness of what I'm about to say, I bought a Wii U for Bayonetta 2.
I've already waxed lyrical about the game's dual control systems in a previous preview so I won't repeat myself in that sense here. Having now played a large chunk of the game, I have to say that I'm not particularly fond of the touchscreen input for long periods of play (or indeed at all for that matter), but that's because I adore the way the game handles when you're playing it as you would have the original. The swipe and tap inputs essentially turn Bayonetta 2 into the most bonkers smartphone experience you ever laid eyes on, and although it's perfectly poised in that respect to bring in a new audience who want to enjoy the absurd spectacle, it's not really for me.
But that's the joy of choice. Finally, with the difficulty raised above the Easy setting that they must have been flouting months back at the preview event, the standard control system really comes into its own once more. Pirouetting about the place, cartwheeling out of danger before spinning back in for a flurry of attacks is beautifully balletic and gloriously responsive. It's a near perfect setup, the controller really just an extension of your mind. Everything is so fast and fluid that you're just stepping into combos on the fly, mixing and matching button combinations to see what happens, always with a finger delicately poised over the dodge button to take you out of harm's way.Click here to read more...
Being a Templar has its perks.
Sure, the Assassins have a noble cause to fight for and a trillion useless collectibles in the vault, but a life on the run wasn't enough for Shay Patrick Cormac. Thankfully the Templars are equal opportunities employers, meaning that even former enemies get immediate access to the latest military technology (including psychotropic drugs and air rifles) subversive experimental gear and insanely generous expense accounts... on the proviso that they agree to track down and murder all their former associates.
And hang out with Haytham Kenway -- who we've already identified as the coolest character in the entire series bar none -- as a bonus. Frankly you'd be mad not to.
Assassin's Creed Unity may be jumping time periods and console generations this Christmas, but for those who haven't yet invested in a PS4, Xbox One or gaming rig, there's still some unfinished business to take care of.Click here to read more...
Slightly Mad Studios are a little busy these days. Made up of developers responsible for bringing some of the better racing tiles of recent memory, the team is currently working of Project CARS for current-gen consoles, but that is not all they’re cooking up. They also happen to be working on World of Speed – an online team-based racing title for PC that will be completely free, and I got hands-on with it at this year’s Gamescom.
Unlike most racing games where being the first across the finish line is the main aim, WoS introduces objectives into each race to mix things up. These range from hitting several long drifts, to achieving perfect corners, to slip-streaming another car for a specific period of time, all over the course of the race. The thing is, the developers were quick to point out that no one racer could effectively complete all the objectives in a single competitive race, and so this is where the team aspect comes into play.Click here to read more...
I really wanted to like the first Dead Island. I really did. It hit all the right boxes in terms on concept – 4-player co-op with a huge world to explore, customisable weapons to find and upgrade, varied enemies to kill – but it was all undone by a hugely inconsistent tone and some of the worst voice acting in recent years. As such I didn’t get very far into the game despite multiple tries to play through it, and I made sure to give Riptide a wide birth as well.
So it came as a welcome surprise when the Dead Island 2 announcement trailer caught my attention with a new, less serious tone that looked to inject some fun into the series. “This is exactly what happened last time, Carl, and the game didn’t live up to the hype,” I told myself, but after getting hands on with the game at this year’s Gamescom I’m far more optimistic that the handover of development from Techland to Yager Development (makers of the criminally underrated Spec Ops: The Line… if we ignore that multiplayer) will make it a win-win situation for both Deep Silver and consumers.Click here to read more...
How come Claptrap can navigate stairs in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel? Why the hell does he need oxygen? What's the most badass, awesome thing in a game overflowing with badassery and awesomesauce?
Carl catches up with Gearbox's James Lopez and 2K Australia's Joel Eschler at this year's Gamescom to find out, and get the lowdown on the latest addition to the playable roster for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.
Galahad's Thermite Rifle might be one of my favourite virtual weapons of all time.
Rather than firing boring old bullets, this steampunk boomstick throws out hundreds of fragile iron oxide and aluminium shells, which shatter on impact and flood the stage with thick clouds of choking gas. However, secondary fire lobs in a magnesium flare, which sets off a chemical reaction that reaches up to 2500°C.
In layman's terms: everything burns.
As such, using it is an absolute blast -- pun most definitely intended -- when The Order: 1886 actually lets you. Fighting through the neo-Victorian London streets as a latter-day Templar Knight requires you to keep your head and push forward, throwing up billowing thermite smokescreens to cover your approach and igniting them to wreathe entire squads of cockney rebels in flames.
Unfortunately, The Order 1886 is also very keen to be as "cinematic" and "filmic" as possible, meaning that much of your time will be spent gawping at what amounts to unskippable cutscenes.Click here to read more...
Until Dawn is a very different kind of horror game, in that it's halfway between a choose-your-own-adventure novel, David Cage cinematic QTE-fest and a Saw film. A good Saw film, if you can imagine that.
Having played it for the best part of 45 minutes at Gamescom, however, I was initially reminded of a cheesy slasher flick. A group of eight attractive twenty-somethings decide to take their holiday in a sprawling old house in the middle of an icy forest. It's spacious, comfortable and the perfect location for a getaway, at least it would be were it not for the masked psychopath hell-bent on murdering everyone. As such, you'll leapfrog between the perspectives of the terrorised tourists as they desperately try to survive the night. Who will live? Who will die?
That, dear reader, is entirely up to you. Until Dawn promises one of the most wildly-branching narratives in videogame history; boasting over a thousand different directions for the story to diverge and more than one hundred endings. Everybody can die, but depending on the decisions you make, you might be able to save a few before the credits roll. Followed by several more playthroughs with totally different results.Click here to read more...
"Here we go again," I yawned as my first multiplayer match in this year's Call Of Duty started to count down. "Business as usual." Right before I leapt a full storey-and-a-half into the air, airboosted onto a roof, slammed into the ground and shredded two opponents into chunky kibbles with a pair of high-tech miniguns.
I cackled like a madman. Then, perhaps deservedly, my celebration was cut short by a terminal dose of laser to the face.
When it comes to teaching an old dog new tricks, you can't go far wrong by strapping your mutt into an insanely mobile exoseleton and arming it with exotic future boomsticks [don't try that at home, kids - DARPA]. It's still the same beast, only more... awesome. Sledgehammer Games promised to shake up the Call Of Duty formula this time, and I'm delighted to report that Advanced Warfare feels comfortably familiar yet entirely, brilliantly different.
And no, I can't believe I just wrote that either. We still can't make a value judgement, and they might still cock it right up, but let me explain.Click here to read more...
Forget Lilith. Zer0 wh0? There's a new vault hunter in town, an unstoppable force of pure chaos, and its name is...
...Claptrap? Oh no.
Oh yes. The irritating yelllow robot who everybody hates to love has finally got his chance to shine in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and having stepped into his chassis for an hour at Gamescom, he's possibly the most ridiculously brilliant character in the series to date.
And possibly the worst. See, whereas most vault hunters bring a single powerful primary ability to the table, literally anything can happen when you hit that left bumper. Sometimes you'll turn into a pirate galleon. Sometimes you'll force bizarre statuses on your entire team, such as infinitely throwing grenades or bouncing off all surfaces like a mad pinball machine. And then, damage done, you can ask for a high five. I'm going to regale you with my stories from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel soon, but right now, it's time to do the moon dance.Click here to read more...
"Prepare to die." Dark Souls issued the challenge and gamers responded. Then promptly died, over and over again, becoming more skilled and experienced with each crushing setback.
In Bloodborne, however, that mentality won't get you anywhere. If you mean to unravel the secrets behind Yharnam's mournful bloodsoaked streets, you need to be prepared to KILL.
Don't panic: Bloodborne is still unmistakably From Software fare. It's a third-person action-RPG, tough as nails, as dark and soulful as you'd expect. You'll stalk through intricate and evocative environments, feeling truly isolated and alone one moment before all hell breaks loose the next. Punishing and deeply pretty even in its early Gamescom build, sharing many of the same buttons as its spiritual predecessors, Bloodborne will feel second nature to fans of Miyazaki's work.Click here to read more...
Up until now, the general consensus regarding the single player portion of Hardline has been largely that dismissal – “it’s all about the multiplayer, stupid!” or “When has there ever been a decent storyline in a Battlefield game without Bad Company in the title?” It’s hard to ignore those cries as they’re fairly accurate, but Visceral Games came to Gamescom to restore some faith in the single player campaign, and I was invited to see how they planned to rekindle our interest in the storytelling aspect of the franchise.
The first thing we were told was that the focus on story was of great importance to Visceral, so much so that they had hired writers responsible for bringing the critically acclaimed series’ Justified and True Detective to life on the small screen. This was clearly evident during the early part of the level we were shown, which happened to be the same one used in the EA press conference. Taking place halfway through the game (or “season,” if the episodic thing is to be believed) protagonist Nick Mendoza finds himself and his partner Boomer being double-crossed in a deal-gone-south, with the player tasked with escaping their imprisonment and completing their assignment.Click here to read more...
I love the old Infinity Engine RPGs, and I'm not alone. Jon often makes the point that the stories modern games tell seem to have suffered as a result of having so many more advanced tools (particularly when we start bandying around the word "cinematic"), and that there's something to be said for text-heavy adventures and RPGs making the very most of their limited options. The writing had to be spot on, the world building exceptionally well researched, everything providing the optimal framing for whatever adventure was to be had.
Games couldn't rely on polish and looks to get by as they can now, they actually had to be good. And we were spoilt rotten with games of exceptional quality.
Pillars of Eternity wants to tap into all of that, reviving that old-school spirit, but upgrading and updating a few of the more clunky mechanisms that have grown rusty over the years, and the team at Obsidian look to be right on track. We've already sent the half-hour gameplay presentation we checked out a couple of weeks back, but we also got the opportunity to put a bunch of further questions to project director Josh Sawyer, and he waxed lyrical regarding classes, romance, and one of the game's best Easter eggs.Click here to read more...
Lords of the Fallen is looking like Dark Souls crossed with The Witcher. And that's fine.
When you first pick up the controller and start playing Lords of the Fallen, it becomes readily apparent that From Software's opus has been an enormous influence on this game. The controller setup is almost identical, the challenging philosophy behind the action is clearly evident, as is the commitment to visually interesting spaces, vistas, and enemies. Oh, and let us not forget the enormous, hard-as-nails bosses.
But what's clear is that Tomasz Gop , Deck13 and CI Games have little interest in making Lords of the Fallen a measuring rod and an exercise in frustration. Combat is very much predicated on the weight of your weapon and the heft of your armour, but there's a greater distinction here in terms of playstyles than might be found in LotF's inspirational genre predecessor. Lords is never going to handle like a Platinum game might, but there's a pleasing fluidity to the action when you're wielding lighter weapons such as daggers, and a satisfying brutality to larger two-handed weapons. Timing is of course absolutely key when chucking around war hammers and the like, whereas using your agility to dance out of harm's way and then back in to deliver strikes and flurries is paramount when taking a lighter approach.
Equipping a set of claws that makes central character Harkyn look like a medieval Wolverine allows for a sort of jump thrust that I'm pretty sure is pulled straight out of Brad Pitt's arsenal in Troy.
There seems to be a little more wiggle room in terms of setting up your character and doing things your own way, and that extends to the classes. You can choose between cleric, rogue or warrior at the start, but as far as I could tell, that only really affects your magical capabilities. There are bits and pieces of armour or weaponry labelled in a manner that might suggest class-specification, but these are simply suggestions. If you want your cleric romping about with an enormous axe and heavy armour, you absolutely can. And I do so love an RPG where I can mix and match.Click here to read more...
We're seeing a fair few nostalgia trips these days, blending old-school sensibilities with updated systems -- distilling the elements that made classics like Baldur's Gate and Fallout and Elite so utterly brilliant and updating everything to provide a smoother experience that feeds our rose-tinted desires and removes any clunkiness or mechanical cobwebs.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing indeed, and it carried Pillars of Eternity (just called Project Eternity back then) to the top of Kickstarter's funded list, giving Obsidian Entertainment the chance to pay homage to the Infinity Engine games that put so many of its employees on the map.
Last week, we got the chance to check out the game and chat to project lead Josh Sawyer, who delivered a half-hour presentation bringing us up to speed on where development currently sits. There'll be a preview coming shortly, but here's the presentation in full for now. Apologies for the awful visuals (had a slight tech fail on the day).
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...
Back when Fuse was still called Overstrike 9 and looked like a badass Saturday morning cartoon stuffed with throwaway lines, brimming with personality, and looking both mechanically and aesthetically interesting, we were super excited for it. But apparently EA weren't. Insomniac never said it outright, at least not on the record, but it was clear that somewhere in between Overstrike 9 becoming Fuse, someone cracked out the mood-hoover and sucked all of the fun and characteristic charisma out of Insomniac sails. Still, they must have stashed it all somewhere, bottled it up and hidden it away from EA, because then along came Microsoft with a boatload of cash and creative freedom, and suddenly Insomniac have uncorked their creativity and are back with a bang in Sunset Overdrive.
The party line is clear -- "this is the game that we always wanted to make" -- but the smiles are back too. I canvassed the opinion of a few of my colleagues at the showcase and the top pick of the day was largely given to Insomniac's bright effort.
Sunset Overdrive is a mish-mash of Crackdown, Jet Set Radio, and Scott Pilgrim in many way. Community lead James Stevenson likened its underpinning concepts to aspects of The Omega Man, and that scene from I Am Legend where Will Smith is spanking golfs balls off of a roof in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. The whole point of Sunset Overdrive is to embrace the fun nature of gaming, centred around the philosophy that things don't have to be grey and grim and depressing just because it seems to be the End of Days.
How the world has reached that point in this game sets the tone perfectly for the action that follows. The story kicks off in the fictional metropolis of Sunset City, an urban sprawl industrially dominated by the massive corporation FizzCo. FizzCo has created a brand new energy drink called Overcharge Delirium XT, and they throw an enormous party to celebrate its release -- a party that you, the protagonist (a nameless character who's highly customisable...yes, you can even play a female assassin if you want) are hired to clean up. Unfortunately, everyone who drinks Overcharge Delirium XT turns into a slavering mutant, and you find yourself stuck in Sunset City, it's streets overrun by assorted monsters, Machiavellian FizzCo reps trying to cover everything up, and other human enemies capitalising on the frenzy.Click here to read more...
A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build lives up to its name, but you wouldn't know it at first glance. In fact, it looks positively adorable.
Sokobond designer Alan Hazelden and Game Jam veteran Benjamin Davis have conspired to create something truly lovely; a soft, warm and decidedly festive little puzzler starring a loveable lonely monster. All it wants in life is to create snowmen by rolling up snowballs, which become new friends to hang out with and cuddle, like Tanya above. Cuddling is already directly coded into the game -- just flick the stick to initiate a big old bear hug. Playing it is therefore much like drinking a great big mug of Horlicks on a bitterly cold day, making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
"It's a puzzle game about being a monster and making snowmen," Davis told me at the Develop Conference last week, lulling me into a false sense of security with the simple pitch. Right before A Good Snowman started spanking my brainpan.
Click here to read more...
I remember interviewing Ted Price at an EA showcase a couple of years back and wondering where the boundless energy of the Ted Price I had in my head had gone. The game Insomniac was showing off there was Fuse, and only a few weeks before, a new trailer had emerged that probed our deepest fears for that game -- the transformation of a colourful, mechanically-noteworthy shooter into a grey mess with a far more serious tone.
I asked him why the name had changed from Overstrike 9 and it looked like something behind his eyes just died.
But Sunset Overdrive is different. It's colourful, loaded with bonkers weaponry, and seems utterly determined to prove that post-apocalyptic games can embrace a frenzied party of irreverent fun, all the while channelling the spirit of Crackdown and Jet Set Radio and, according to Insomniac's community lead James Stevenson, The Omega Man.Click here to check out my interview with Insomniac's James Stevenson >>
Sunset Overdrive is shaping up to be a blast of chaotic, sandbox fun, filled with madcap mayhem, crazy weapons, and cartoon violence. In short, it's looking like the game that you'd expect an unfettered, unleashed Insomniac to make.
And that's awesome news.
Sadly, however, we weren't able to capture footage directly at a recent showcase event, but I did jump into a half-finished demo with the camera rolling on the screen to snap up a little bit of off-screen gameplay footage. I wasn't able to capture the in-game audio as it was being pumped through headphones, so instead I've spliced it together with some tracks from Jet Set Radio.
Given that the game resembles the lovechild of a bizarre threeway between Crackdown, JSRF, and a packet of Skittles, it seemed fitting.Click here to check out our Sunset Overdrive Gameplay vs JSR Remix >>