Platforms: PC | PS3 (reviewed) | Xbox 360
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Cards on the table. Fair warning. Be advised. I am not a big fan of Naruto Shippuden.
I love the premise, the setting, the character designs, the amazing powersets and abilities (those wild and disturbing Kugutsu puppets are my favourite), the art style, the themes and Kakashi in all of his slightly pervy glory, but I've never been able to get into the series no matter how many times I've tried. God knows I've tried.
For me the pacing kills it, the drawn-out interminable waiting between interesting events and the hours of angsty posturing when characters should be fighting. Sometimes I wish that I could just skip between the superbly-choreographed battles, preferably with subtitles so I don't have to listen to Maile Flanagan's horrendous nails-on-a-blackboard English dub.
That's probably why I really dig on Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution. Everything I like about the series is present and correct -- the diverse well-designed characters with incredible abilities and OTT climactic brawls -- except that the overarching narrative has been replaced by just enough non-canonical premise to hold it together. Unfortunately, I'm also not convinced that it's worth forty quid.Click here to read more...
The Crew is breathtakingly ambitious. As I reported in our extensive hands-on preview, it's an attempt to blend MMORPGs and racing games together into a single package, set in a 5000km² adventure playground shaped and themed like the United States, with the ability to form persistent crews and factions with other players for competitive co-op. It's a brilliant idea, and one that could absolutely smash the genre wide open if it works.
However, there's an elephant in the room. Uplay. Ubisoft's digital platform has historically proved itself unfit for task during game launches, such as we saw with Watch Dogs and Far Cry 3, whereas The Crew hinges around its multiplayer as a core part of the experience. Will it hold up?
Naturally I made sure to pose the question to creative director Julian Gerighty.Click here to read more...
“Try to catch that car in front or just bring it back in one piece.” These are the deflating words of my pit manager when skidding around in last place on the final lap in Project Cars.
Project Cars is tough. With no driving aids turned on for my first play session with the new racing IP, I can't help but feel the pressure mount as every time I look up in the Bandai Namco offices, I see a Dark Souls II poster - judging, mocking and not helping my blood temperature one bit.
Things improve though and despite the harsh challenge, which comes mainly from the handling rather than the AI (but more on those guys later), I found myself keen to iron out my racing sim wrinkles and lose those pesky kart racer habits. To be fair, it's not like PS4 is exactly packed with skill-honing racing sims right now.
The initial cause of most of my accidents was trying to find a suitable camera angle. The game will spoil you for choice including low road, bonnet, roof, following, interior middle, interior driver's side and a helmet cam which puts you directly behind the eyes of the driver, complete with the helmet's inner cushioning viewable underneath. The new take on the helmet cam is slightly let down by the blurring effect during hard braking and tighter turns, it’s a real strain on the eyes and hopefully something we can toggle in the final build. Surely pro-drivers don’t get this much motion-blur in real life or they’d be filling their helmets with vom all the time.Click here to read more...
Platform: PC (Steam, £26.99)
Developer: Amplitude Studios
Early Access has been dragged through the mud over the last few months, but it often doesn't get enough credit. For every failure there's a developer who makes a plan and sticks to it, engages fans without losing sight of their goals, then finally delivers a worthwhile game that couldn't have been made any other way. The system works.
Endless Legend is one of those success stories: a superb, solid and delightfully innovative take on the 4X genre from Amplitude Studios, the fearsome strategy fiends behind the excellent Endless Space and upcoming Roguelike masterclass Dungeon Of The Endless. As you've probably worked out by now, all three games take place at different times in the same universe, a sensational Sci-Fi fantasy fusion that kicks out elves and dwarves in favour of aliens, constructs, mad cultists, robot ghosts and necrophagous insects. It's a beautiful thing, both in terms of the overall aesthetic and some exciting design decisions.
I'm going to assume that you have a working knowledge of 4X games, preferably hex-based specimens like Civilization, Warlock and Age Of Wonders III, because otherwise this review is going to require several hundred words to explain the basic mechanics. To briefly recap, Endless Legend subscribes to a familiar basic formula of picking a race with different stats, starting out with a settler, building a city and then cracking on with the four Xs: exploration, expansion, exploitation and extermination . You'll research new technologies, move units around a hex-based world, engage in diplomacy and generally rise to dominance through fair means and foul.
Here's the instruction manual if you want to know more. Rather than dwell on minutae, we're going to discuss how Endless Legend subverts and reinvigorates the familiar genre template with fresh new ideas.Click here to read more...
Do you want to be just or do you want to be kind? Are you a man who prizes the law above all else? Would you let a murderer walk free if it might serve the "greater good"? What kind of a man are you? These are the questions that are asked of the player when it comes to stepping once more into the shoes of Sherlock Holmes in Frogwares latest game in the ongoing series.
The gentleman detective may disappoint purists in this title, coming across as an amalgamation of Conan Doyle's original and the various popular incarnations seen across the screen over the last few decades. The accessories and affectations of Rathbone's Holmes are mingled with the calculating character of Moffat and Gatiss' recent reinventions, not to mention Sherlock's rather antagonistic relationship with his brother, Mycroft.
If there is less of the original Holmes' character to be seen in this game, it is because Frogwares has made the player the curator of Holmes' intellect and intuition, delivering the power of moral decision-making and deductive reasoning over into our hands. The Holmes of Crimes and Punishments is something of a blank slate in terms of judgement and ethical character, and it's up to us to fill in the gaps in a game that explores the consequences of the detective's findings and the processes of deduction in greater detail than ever before.
There are six cases that form the meat of the game in Crimes and Punishments, each of them unfolding with a series of twists and turns and opportunities for investigation depending on the player's thoroughness. Crimes and Punishments is, in many ways, an old-school point-and-click adventure game at heart. You survey crime scenes and areas of investigation, interacting with various points, persons, and objects of interest, collecting evidence, interrogating witnesses and suspects, and uncovering clues that may then be paired together to form deductions.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...
I've just called a bundle of pixels a "cancerous badger's nutsack". Ten seconds earlier I told the game to which these pixels belonged that I would perform an inventive, illegal sex act upon its relatives on a bed made of lava and nightmares.
Fenix Rage is an incredibly aptly-named game. It's all about dying over and over and over again and resurrecting until you just get better, and it'll make you apoplectic with rage. I for one am quite glad about this. It's given me a chance to practise my more creative swearing for Destiny's loot cave.
It's a game that's a lot like Super Meat Boy at its heart: simple controls, fine margins, increasingly complex levels, and oodles of death. But is it any good? Well, the review is on its way, but in the interim, here's a look at my first half hour with the game.
Check out the game's official site here.
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
For many, Titanfall was the vanguard of a year of games that didn't live up to their hype. I am not one of those people.
Titanfall has kept me coming back week after week, month after month, because its gameplay is evergreen. I'm not just throwing myself through the grinder for randomised loot or arbitrary metagame levels, rather I'm playing simply because the thrill of snapping necks, dropping mechs and effortlessly traversing an entire map without touching the ground is nigh-on perfect, and worth every minute. The small yet dedicated fanbase clearly feels the same, enjoying the fact that the skill ceiling is as high as the lofty maps themselves.
So the third and final map pack is Respawn's opportunity to go gonzo; to create a crazy, visually diverse and utterly innovative last hurrah before presumably concentrating on a multi-platform sequel.
This didn't happen, sadly, but IMC Rising is still an excellent expansion that subscribes to a familiar template: two undeniably brilliant maps and a third that reveals a unique edge after a few matches.Click here to read more...
Welcome back to Click To Play , the new-old regular series that takes a look at a new browser-based curio each week to further the fine art of procrastination. We accept absolutely no responsibility if you get caught at work/school/uni gloriously wasting time on the games listed here when you should be working.
This week: Mr Splibox
Mr Splibox seems like an odd protagonist for a platforming game. He's apathy personified, a hero so lazy that he can't even be bothered to jump around. But he does have one special power that renders his lack of leaping something of a non-issue: he can spawn boxes out of his arse.
So it is that Mr Splibox navigates around increasingly complex levels, overcoming steps by building towers of cutesy cardboard boxes out of his bum, and crossing chasms by toppling said towers across previously impassable gaps.
There are enemies to bypass as well. Moustachioed chumps will charge at you if they spot you, and it's therefore often necessary to get out of harm's way by crapping crates, leaving your 'tached foes to run off of ledges and sail into the odd abyss.Click here to read more...
Knytt Underground | IndieGameStand | £0.62 (RRP: £4.99)
First things first: Knytt Underground has been in countless bundles over these last few years. Check your Steam backlog and see if it's there.
If not, you can now pick up this excellent indie platformer for £0.62 at IndieGameStand. It's got exploration, a great aesthetic, neat characters and is basically strong across the board. Again, though, check your backlog.
The Binding Of Isaac made our Indie Game Of The Year 2011 shortlist, and with good reason. It's an addictive, infinitely replayable and utterly reprehensible 21st centuryhybrid roguelike from the artistic half of Team Meat, and it's as exciting as it is thoroughly stomach-turning. You can currently grab it for £0.59 on Steam, but Value-wise, it's probably best to grab the DLC too for 74p all-in. If you already own it from one of a thousand bundles, the DLC is available separately for £0.29.
Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Wasteland 2 | CDKeys | £13.99
Wasteland 2 is fantastic by all accounts, so long as you love your faithful old-school RPGs (which we adore to a man), so this £13.99 price has to be worth checking out. Thanks to BattleMoose87 @ HUKD!
You can get an extra discount by 'liking' the Facebook page and using the voucher.
Have you bought any Groupees Bundle over the last 12 months? If so, the Groupees Giveback Bundle will have been automatically delivered to your profile and free to download!
If you haven't, you can still consider spending about 63p for an odd little package of games, OSTs and comics, highlights being SanctuaryRPG and Borealis.
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...
Another weekend looms and along with it comes another GOG sale. For the next eighty or so hours, the digital distribution outlet have cut prices on a number of Atari and Kalypso classics, including the likes of Rollercoaster Tycoon 1, 2, and 3, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, Omerta: City of Gangsters, and Port Royale.
The Crew is utterly enormous in scope and ambitious in scale, but with so many moving parts, there's a lot to take in. It's an 'MMO driving experience' in a massive open world with numerous events, a storyline, factions, exploration, progression, 'shared-world' multiplayer and unlockable cars to consider. How will it work? Will it work at launch, given Ubisoft's track record with Uplay and PC?
Luckily Creative Director Julian Gerighty was on hand for a lengthy interview.
Stay tuned for our detailed hands-on preview later today!
The Humble Leading Ladies bundle is now live in support of Girls Make Games, and a smart little bargain to boot.
Beat $6 (£3.68) to also receive Long Live The Queen (a crazy deep visual novel that's I bought too late to review) and The Yawg. Thanks to BuzzDuraband @ HUKD!
Guild Wars 2 is FREE this week, and so, after a year of constant nagging, Jon and Carl finally managed to persuade me to set aside my MMO reservations once again and leap into the fray.
Everything was going swimmingly, public events were popping up all over the place, much to my delight, and after almost falling to my death, we had a nice little dance party.
And then someone suggested we go fight a massive fire elemental.
Valve Complete Pack | Steam | £18.99 (75% saving vs RRP)
This is some great value, at least if you don't own the majority of these bona fide classics. You get all the Half-Life games, both Portals, both Left 4 Deads, both Team Fortresses (the second is F2P but still on here for some reason), all the Counter-Strikes including GO, Richochet, Day Of Defeat...
Hang on a second. £18.99? 1+8+9+9 = 27 = 3 x 3 x 3 ... HALF LIFE 3 CONFIRMED! You heard it here first.
Child Of Light is a thing of beauty; a poetic blend of gorgeous visuals, exploration and hardcore JRPG combat that's best enjoyed on higher difficulties. If you're interested, GMG are currently running a tasty little sale, working out at a very reasonable £4.50 after applying their SEPTEM-BEROFF-ER25XX voucher code at checkout.
It's cheaper than The Humble Store's offering, though does use the dreaded Uplay. Thanks to ALW4RD1 and ferreirm @ HUKD!