I love The Legend of Zelda games. To me they represent some of the finest examples of game design we've been blessed to enjoy over the years. The adventures of Link have proven time and time again to be some of the most innovative, ambitious, and polished games to have graced this industry. Dynasty Warriors, on the other hand, is a series that's barely changed at all over the years, staying true to its formula of a button-mashing frenzy of smashing up enormous swathes of mindless, characterless AI fodder, punctuated occasionally by the odd absurdly-overpowered mini-boss.
Still, I do have something of a soft spot for Dynasty Warriors.
Hyrule Warriors is not your typical Zelda game at all. It's very much something of a Zelda reskin of traditional Dynasty Warriors gameplay at first glance. I went hands-on with the game at the recent Nintendo E3 showcase and was merrily massacring multitudes of Bokoblins within seconds. The scale is fantastic, and the sense of cathartic empowerment is glorious, helped along by a better draw distance than we've typically seen in the past. One of Dynasty Warriors' foibles over the years has always been an alarming amount of pop-in, but Hyrule Warriors seems to have managed to mitigate that slightly. It's still there, but it's not so offensive to the eyes this time around.
Visually, at least, Hyrule Warriors manages to engage the player to a far greater degree than its spiritual predecessors, eschewing the drab, washed-out palette of previous Warriors games in favour of a brighter, more vibrant colour set and art style that breathes a little more life into proceedings and firmly roots you in Hyrule. There's a distinct lack of detail -- this game won't win any prizes for astonishing beauty -- but generally the game appears to do a decent job of selling the setting. It's actually a little thrilling to feel part of some sort of grand battle for Hyrule, wading into war with Gorons and Hylian guards by your side, as Lizalfos and Moblin generals marshal their troops.
Of course, it wears thin rather quickly, and even over the course of my initial fifteen-minute demo the combat became repetitive. The Warriors games have always been titles that, for me at least, are best enjoyed with a friend by your side, drinking beers, and chatting absolute rubbish. They're the sort of games that you don't really have to focus too much attention on because all you're really doing is mashing the same buttons over and over again. They're a catalyst for conversation, something to be doing in background while you catch-up with a mate you've not seen in some time. Sometimes I don't really want to think when I'm playing a game, and Warriors games are great for that. Hyrule being no exception it would seem.Click here to read more...
Developer: Souvenir Circ.
Publisher/Localisation: Nyu Media
Publishers can get away with shovelling all manner of atrocious crap onto Steam these days, but Nyu Media are made of sterner stuff. The localisation maestros could have easily pushed doujin brawler Croixleur straight onto the store following a successful Greenlight campaign, but decided to port over a brand new edition stuffed with big improvements, more features and extra content instead. They even pulled an all-nighter fixing an oversight I tweeted about, because they're lovely like that.
Which is a good thing too, because the original Croixleur was a load of old cobblers. Cheap and cheerful fun for a few minutes, but quickly becoming crushingly tedious thanks to a tiny variety of enemies, it never matched up to the likes of Fairy Bloom Freesia, Alltynex, Gigantic Army and all the rest of Nyu's localised lineup.
Everything is noticeably tweaked up and polished now, and there's more of it too, from a whole new character with a unique storyline to crunchy new music, challenges and more. Unfortunately Souvenir Circ wasn't able add more enemies, the biggest flaw that dragged down the original in the first place. So the million Yen question is whether Croixleur Sigma can distract us from its half-dozen palette-swapped foes with all the new bells and whistles.
Well... yes, it can. At least for long enough to earn its £5.99 if you're a fan of hacking, slashing and Japanese indie gaming.Click here to read more...
We can't wait for the concluding part to Konami's revamped Belmont/Dracula saga. With the series stepping into modern-day territory for the finale it's going to be interesting to see how they bring the story to a close. With almost no competition to speak of, Konami barely have to try to take the hack n' slash crown right now, but we suspect they're onto something special with this one anyway. We'll find out February 28th. In the meantime, check out our hands-on preview coverage and video via the links above.
Thanks to SkilledNutter at HotUkDeals.
I was not kind to Ryse: Son of Rome coming out of Gamescom. Nothing I had seen of the game, nor the limited hands-on time I'd had with it, had given me much of a sense of excitement. Here was what looked like a QTE-stuffed slaughterfest with a rather basic combat system and a heavy emphasis on being cinematic -- an adjective that nearly always makes me groan.
That being said, I admitted towards the end of my rather ranty video that I'd probably end up playing it anyway because I'm a sucker for hack and slash titles, I love the setting, and the genre is so poorly represented much of the time that anything looking even remotely interesting deserves some kind of recognition.
And then I got hands-on with the singleplayer earlier in the week.
The preview is coming next week, and I won't be doing a full u-turn, but I will say this: I had fun. It's a game that I now rather want to play, in the same way that Viking: Battle For Asgard was a game that I wanted to play, and then greatly enjoyed. That doesn't mean Ryse is a good game, I can't make that assessment yet and my hands-on time answered precious few of my many questions, but it does mean that for certain fans of a certain subgenre, it's going to hold some appeal.
Of course, it helps that I had the chance to chat extensively with the design team. It's clear that the team have taken inspiration more from Rocksteady's Batman series than the God of War; the cinematography -- that is to say the manipulation of the camera to frame the action -- is simply superb; and I dig on the setting and the time period, even if the story does take a few historical liberties in terms of accuracy.
But we'll get to all of that. In the interim, here's my interview with design director Patrick Esteves, and he can tell you about the game in his own words.Click here to read more...
The studio behind Dead Island seems to be pushing the creative boat out with Hellraid, a newly-announced title that lets players team up to defeat hordes of zombies with melee weapons, from a first-person perspective.
Luckily, Hellraid promises to be different from Dead Island beyond the medieval setting. We've got details and screens after the break.Click here to read more...
The Dynasty Warriors series occupies a special place in my heart, reserved for the laziest of rainy days, when you don't really want to have your dexterity put to the test or nerves stretched, but rather feel like decimating armies of hundreds of worthless peons with your masterful swordplay.
Of course, it's always better with a chum, so we're rather glad that news has hit declaring that Dynasty Warriors 8 will be bringing back story co-op.Click here to read more...
Developer: Souvenir Circ.
Publisher/Localisation: Nyu Media
Now that more Japanese games are being localised for Western audiences than ever before, we're getting to play some of the biggest hits from the Land Of The Rising Sun without having to import them. However, we're also able to enjoy some of the smallest indie productions courtesy of localisation specialists like Nyu Media. Their strong first wave of oft-overlooked Doujin titles (indie games created by a team or 'circle' of developers on a shoestring budget) brought us the likes of Eryi's Action and Fairy Bloom Freesia, both of which catered to their niche audiences brilliantly.
Croixleur is their first effort of 2013, a time-attack brawler from the Souvenir Circle starring... you guessed it... a cute anime girl of indeterminate age. As always.Click here to read more...
Developer: Ninja Theory
Well, here we are.
Even if you haven't been trolling Youtube and fiercely debating the finer points of white versus brunette hair colouring, you'll almost certainly be aware that DmC: Devil May Cry has attracted major controversy and fan outcry over the last few months. In a brave step, Western developer Ninja Theory decided to stamp their own authority on the franchise and protagonist, creating a game that's very different from its predecessors in many key respects. We've got a new, grittier setting. A younger, more reckless and emotional Dante. Things will never be the same, but DmC: Devil May Cry is very similar to the original games in one important way.
It's a truly excellent hack & slash brawler.
DmC opens with Dante wasting his life in a beachside trailer as a nihilistic and violent delinquent, caring little about a world that cast him aside. However, after being hunted down by a powerful demon (and briefly flirting with the idea of wearing a white wig in an unapologetic dig at some of the more vocal haters), he's sucked into a nightmarish Limbo world that hides just behind the facade of day-to-day reality. After joining forces with his brother Vergil and a capable witch named Kat, the callous menace to society sets out to discover the truth behind his mysterious heritge and eventually bring furious vengeance to the demon king Mundus. Naturally, this involves plenty of pitched battles against hordes of demons broken up with some platforming, exploration and ridiculously OTT cutscenes.
Click here to read more...
Developer: Runic Games
Publisher: Perfect World
Is there such a thing as a 'perfect' game?
Speaking objectively and empirically, probably not. How could there be? After all, something as subjective as a videogame can't please everybody, nor could it live up to all of our expectations. Speaking as a critic, identifying and reporting flaws is important for our readers and developers alike, who genuinely appreciate our feedback and take it to heart when designing their future games and patches.
But sometimes a game can cater to its target audience so comprehensively to be considered perfect. After months of delays, Torchlight II is finally with us... and I'm hard-pressed to find anything wrong with it. Runic Games have taken the dungeon crawling, loot grinding, power levelling ARPG sub-genre and made it more fun, iterating on every aspect of the original while fixing many of the problems inherent to the genre. Blowing the niche wide open, allowing players to get involved on their terms and play it the way they want. All for £14.99.
It's a sequel that, for some, will feel like the true successor to Diablo II - not just the original Torchlight.
Click here to find out why Torchlight II is one of 2012's essential titles >>
Interesting things are happening over at Techland. As well as working on the upcoming Dead Island sequel, it seems that a small team of developers at the studio are branching off to craft a brand new IP, codenamed Project Hell.Click here to read more...
Unfortunately, this one feels pretty dated and there isn't really much variety, so long sessions quickly become boring, however if you're a fan of the series then you'll probably enjoy it. There are loads of character to try and smash your opponents to bits with, and they're upgradeable, so you'll become more formidable as time goes on. My Memory are parting with Xbox 360 copies of the game for £21.95, which'll make you a saving of just over £8 on the next best offers out there.
The idea behind Fairytale Fights — that the characters we know from our childhood bedroom stories are not as sweet as they seem and, in order to appease their fame hungry appetites, they decide to go on a killing rampage — is a very appealing one that could easily have led to a highly enjoyable romp. Unfortunately however, the execution lets the premise down in a big way; sure there's plenty of violence and gore but that's about all there is. Fairytale fights is simply a repetitive and mindless hack and slash, filled with irritatingly difficult enemies, with very little to offer beyond disappointment and frustration. Still at least it's cheap right? Thanks to shipton at Hotukdeals!
NB. The price comparisons are a little off here, the next best price from a vendor with stock available is £11.99
Koei's hack and slash flagship series might not have undergone huge changes over the years, featuring the same repetitive button-mashing as always, but for some reason there's something incredibly therapeutic about being plonked down in the middle of a large battlefield and being left to dispatch an inordinate amount of near-identical warriors in a game aided by some RPG-lite mechanics.
This sixth instalment of the game has been hovering at just under £15 for some time now but, in a bid to rid themselves of the last few bits of stock, you can pick up the limited number of remaining X360 copies from ShopTo for £13, saving you around £2. You'll need to be quick though, as this deal is unlikely to last terribly long.
It's a Dynasty Warriors game, so expect a lot of button mashing-repetitive combat and fairly shoddy visuals. Texturing is non-existent, water features look awful and the character models might just make you cry. However, this title does have a few things going for it. Chances are that if you've ever played any of the games in this series you'll immediately know whether or not something like this is for you. For some, myself included, Dynasty Warriors has always been one of those relatively mindless affairs that's good for having something to do whilst maybe catching up with a mate. It's there, but you can kind of ignore it. A bit like the Fantastic Four movies. And Michael Buble.
There's a lot of content here, even though much of it plays almost exactly the same, but each character's campaign (17 out of the 41 playable) will take a couple of hours to bust through. Players can now swim and climb ladders and a new power combo system has been introduced. The Renbu system takes combo dependency away from whichever weapon you're wielding and instead presents you with a gauge that fills as you inflict damage, raising your rank and abilities. There's a new skill tree as well that gives players the option to unlock higher Renbu ranks and special abilities. The RPG elements are actually fairly impressive this time around, although they still in no way save this game from being a fairly monotonous trudge.
You only really need one Dynasty Warriors game to say you've played them all, but if you're a long time fan of the series and this is missing from your roster, well get your skates on and head over to ShopTo.
Don't get me wrong, I'd still have preferred an HD reboot of Grim Fandango, but I've got to say that I really enjoyed The Force Unleashed. Mucking around with the Force is pretty much any Star Wars fan's idea of a dream and this little hack and slash action title certainly delivered on some gloriously destructive Dark Side satisfaction.
Steam are currently offering the Ultimate Sith edition of the game at half price (well, half of their usual extortionate rate anyway) and gamers who know their Twi'leks from their Trandoshans will be happy to know that this reduced price of £9.99 is a good £6 cheaper than the nearest competitor over at GAME.
TFU was widely advertised as Chapter 3.5 in the star Wars saga, and it's a promise that is delivered, serving up a pretty good story about Darth Vader's secret apprentice and a whole load of backstabbing and betrayal. The story holds up pretty well, apart from the romance stuff which seems to have been added in as an afterthought and is both thoroughly predictable and yet still manages to come pretty much right out of the blue.
The gameplay is your run of the mill blade-based action title with the most basic of RPG mechanics: finish of enemies with stylish combos and level up your powers and capabilities. But it's those capabilities that make TFU so much fun. Right at the start you're given a taste of absolute Dark Side power, playing as the masked Sith Lord Vader himself. All of the moves and powers are unlocked and you'll happily spend a good ten minutes cackling with glee as you hurl hapless Wookiee after Wookiee from their own treetop bridges and huts. It's a powerful introduction that serves as an incentive for when you begin the second level, as the apprentice, with a small fraction of that power.
it could use a fully destructible physics engine, the level design could be better, and the repetition of locales and unique boss characters is both uninspired and shows a disappointing lack of ambition, but the game as a whole is fairly good fun for the most part. The production values are pleasant, the voice acting pretty good, and John Williams-influenced music echoes around making everything feel suitably epic and wonderful. It's an entertaining romp, certainly a good deal better than any of the film tie-ins ever were, but perhaps not quite as awesome as the Jedi Knight sequels. Well worth a tenner, mind you.
Thanks to Cuddy at HUKD
Sometimes all you want to do after getting home from work/school/dimension-jumping adventures with a dashing Time Lord is mash a load of buttons and beat people up with awesome superpowers, and of course by people I mean pixels. There are few games better for this than Marvel Ultimate Alliance: with it's top-down, hack'n'slash style gameplay it's the perfect release for your commuter rage and a source of some pretty easy achivement points too.
The trouble is, it's quite difficult to track down these days but, never fear, Dealspwn is here! The Game Collection have just under 50 copies left in stock at £9.95, which is frankly the cheapest you're going to find it anywhere by a good £20 or so as those who have been scraping a few copies are charging obscene amounts for them. So be quick.
NB. Worth noting that this is a multi-region version of the game, and also part of TGC's 3 for £20 range.
There's a paper thin premise to this game, but it's fairly irrelevant, all you need to know really is that through some form of narrative contrivance, Dr. Doom has amassed an army of supervillains and goons and only the combined forces of Marvel's action heroes can save the world. This means that you can assemble a four man strike team from pretty much whichever comic you want: fancy teaming Spider-man up with Deadpool? Go for it. This is like Avengers Prime and it kicks serious ass.
Sure the action RPG-lite gameplay gets repetitive at times - basically you fight in real time, armed with a bunch of superpowers that you can upgrade as you progress, earning XP with each enemy you defeat - but it's a lot of fun. This is a game that doesn't take itself too seriously, which is a wonderful thing, and trades in a precious gaming commodity: fun. Grab a second controller for a mate to join you and suddenly the whole thing becomes even more of a button mashing riot.
It's not a game that's really worth more than £10-15 these days, but if you can bag a copy for the price above it's well worth a punt.
It's always the case isn't it? Someone writes a literary masterpiece about the Nine Circles of Hell and several centuries later a large games publisher buys up the licence and turns it into a hack and slash game that bears a fairly large resemblance to a certain PS3 exclusive with a dodgy morality system tacked on for good measure. Dante's Inferno is a relatively enjoyable scythe-swinging romp with some fantastic art direction, but don't expect anything hugely original.
You can pick up a copy of this relatively recent title for just £26.85 at ShopTo as they've just lowered their prices again, now saving you £28.89 from Simply Games.
Having reimagined the poet Dante as a returning crusader with a penchant for skin sewing, Ea starts off by having you kick Death in the balls, nick his scythe, and then begin your descent into Hell to rescue your missus from Lucifer who needs to wed her so that he can break free of Hell.
You won't be bowled over by this game in the gameplay department, but it looks wonderful, the character and enemy creations are striking and varied and the different Circles of Hell all have their own distinct flavour. The atmosphere is good and the game looks the part so it's a bit of a shame that it doesn't quite play as well as it looks. Combat is a little clunky to be honest, but there's enough variety to keep fans of the genre entertained.
A solid title then, easy on the eye, but not as refined as some.
Dealspwn Rating: 5/10
The year is 1560. Which, as any fule kno – cough, splutter – is the Sengoku Era, when Feudal Japan was in a violent political mess. Yeah, who says games can’t be educational?
Actually, that’s about it as far as the history lesson goes. It was, as that movie voiceover chap would have it, a time of war and that makes it a very good setting for this hack-and-slash title with a bit of a twist. You are an inexperienced Samurai. There are three factions battling for supremacy: the Fujimori Clan, the Ouka Clan and the villagers. Will you choose sides? Will you play one off against the others for your own gain and greed? Will you be a power of good through the land? Or will you be nasty and kill anyone who crosses your path? Your choices will determine what sort of game you have.
Only, of course, they won’t. Well not fully. For all the claims that Way of the Samurai is an “open world” game, with far-reaching decisions that will change your game, the AI for the billed “cause and effect” angle just isn’t quite up the level needed to make this a truly satisfying experience.
After an impressive start – a cut scene that wouldn’t look out of place in a Jet Li movie or, perhaps more likely, Season Two of Heroes – your Samurai (I called mine Daveymoto, because I’m such a wag) is in bad shape and is found by two passers-by. If you’re vaguely polite here, your Samurai will pass out and come round in a pretty little village called Takatane. If you’re aggressive and pull your sword – you regularly have a choice of flashing the blade or kneeling in submissive apology – you’ll make a startling recovery, terrify your potential rescuers and find yourself running through a gory battlefield... Either way, however, you pretty much end up in the same place: wandering around places trying to work out what the hell is going on.
Ever fancied jumping into the shoes of a shapeshifting murderer who can kill people with tentacular tendrils as a result of a bioengineering experiment gone badly wrong? Well now you can; as military guinea-pig Alex Mercer you'll get to prance around New York City's metropolis sandbox filleting and skewering soldiers and zombified abominations at will in ultra-violent and gratuitously gory fashion. If you were a fan of Crackdown then you'll probably want to give this a look as the premise is broadly similar, only with mutated powers that Venom can only dream of instead of guns.
The good news is that Tesco has now taken the price below the twenty quid mark to £17.87, which is much cheaper than the nearest competitor (Amazon - £22.05). It might take a day or two longer for delivery, but a bargain is a bargain.
Prototype is one of those games that doesn't really take itself too seriously and is great fun - if a little shortlived - for precisely that reason. You're a disillusioned hoodie who just happens to be a genetically-modified anti-hero superfreak with psychopathic tendencies. You can scale the empire State Building in a couple leaps and bounds. You can turn your arm into a bulletproof shield and then slice someone in half with it. You can consumer and ingest other characters into your DNA, possessing them utterly for health boosts and tidbits of info. Things are a little bit warped.
It's by no means perfect, as you cut a swathe through fellow infected guinea-pig mannequins and puppet-masters alike looking to find the answer to the all-encompassing 'Why me?' things get a little repetitive. Prototype is only really a one a trick pony and it looks nowhere near as pretty as its more attractive cousin inFamous, but in many ways it's a lot more fun and well worth a look for under £20. Spider-man once got told that with great power comes great responsibility....but then Spider-man never met Alex Mercer. More hack'n'slash than true sandbox game, Prototype puts a smile on your face and, as I've found, is really good for stress relief.
Thanks to Lemming from HotUKDeals