This, right here, is how you remaster something. Two great lengthy games with vastly improved visuals and welcome mechanical tweaks... that released at a budget price from the start. It can only get lower, though, and Smyths have dipped below that magical £20 mark.
Artyom's gritty, stealthy, grim adventures through ruined Russia will tide you over for a while. Thanks to wraith_42 @ HUKD!
When Brendan reviewed the last-gen version of How To Survive last year, he found it to offer "ten hours of tropical islands to explore, enjoyable combat, and a moreish RPG grind to keep you foraging for new zombie-killing tools" and serve up a worthwhile way to kick one's virtual heels while waiting for the arrival of the PS4 and Xbox One. Twelve months on and Eko Software have released a new-gen version of their isometric survival romp, adding in a new playable character, one or two new islands, and the new modes that have been dropped in little DLC packs over the last year.
The core game remains largely the same, fulfilling a role that's a kind of mashup between Dead Island and Dead Nation. You trot around a handful of lush, tropical islands, picking up anything that you can find, in the hopes of beating off hordes of the undead and scavenging bits and bobs that might be used to fix a vehicle that can get you out of this hellhole. The darkness that night brings is to be feared, but not quite as much as the creatures who dwell in its inky shadows, and a torch -- flaming or electric -- is a fundamental necessity. Being caught out in the wilderness as night falls with out some form of illumination is a easy way to get yourself killed.
I gather that the game has been spruced up a little, although this isn't exactly a looker. How To Survive wasn't going to win any awards for visual design previously, and it certainly won't a console generation on, but the lighting effects perform well, and that's important in a game like this. Mind you, there's a distinct lack of fluidity to character handling, and I'm not sure having the melee button mapped to R2 is a good idea at all. It feels clunky and unwieldy at times, although ranged attacks fare a little better. Brendan's right, though -- the targeting gaffes can be really rather frustrating.Click here to read more...
For the length of Watch Dogs' story, the unique hacking opportunities will keep you hooked, as there’s nothing else quite like it out there. But outside of the hacking, police chases go on too long, side-missions feel repetitive, the audio diaries or home hacks aren’t that interesting and never try to form a bigger picture of the story a la Assassin’s Creed’s extras. It’s a shame, as the game undoubtedly breaks new ground with the hacking opportunities both behind the wheel or when sneaking around on foot. Much like the first Assassin’s Creed, the game has struggled with its own hype, but as history shows, Ubisoft are more than capable of turning this into an essential series if they can make the world and the gameplay around the hacking more interesting too.
Thanks to ewanhobson1 at HotUkDeals.
The price is admittedly taking a while to drop for the PS4 version of one of the best games of the last generation. On the plus side, you're getting the slickest visuals and framerate and the Left Behind DLC. In fact, if you bought the original PS3 game and the DLC today, you'd be paying more than £24.85, so the price is sweeter than it looks.
Thanks to whitesupremo at HotUkDeals.
A big week for Microsoft, with one of their big exclusives finally hitting the shelves. We also have the new pretender to Dark Soul’s bloodthirsty throne, a farming sim, a futuristic co-op demon hunt and a gloriously muddy battle between dirtbikes and quads. Have a look below for our full weekly guide of upcoming releases along with links to our past coverage and the best prices.
This is Nordic’s first MX release since acquiring the series from THQ and with 17 tracks to tear up with dirtbikes and ATVs, we’re quite sure this will be the muddiest release of the week. Fingers crossed it’s a hit as we’d like to see the series make the jump to PS4 and XO sooner rather than later. Hmm, next-gen track deformation.
Best Price: Base: £19.99Click here to read more...
The Evil Within is a lot like a Greatest Hits album -- a paean, if you will, to the ways in which Shinji Mikami has shaped the face of survival horror of the years he's been working in the genre. It's also something of an old-school indictment of where the genre currently resides, although it must be said that playing this almost directly after having my nerves shredded by Alien: Isolation has left me with a feeling of ambivalence towards this spiritual successor to Resident Evil 4.
The setup for The Evil Within is rather lacking -- our lead, the gruff and gravelly Detective Sebastian Castellanos, is a template of a character rather than one in his own right. It doesn't help that he's backed up an equally forgettable, cardboard cutout partner, and a rookie-in-training who could have been interesting if she'd be given more do actually do. It wouldn't be so bad if the game didn't feel it necessary to force-feed players big eyefuls of unimaginative, by-the-numbers exposition.
Even then, it's a bit of a mess in terms of structure. It's a shame really, because some of the conflict-stuffed narrative beats to The Evil Within are really rather good. The bosses and sub-bosses that pop up here and there are brilliantly, disgustingly designed, but they rather come and go without any particular rhythm or pacing to the wider experience, and they often present hideously nasty difficulty spikes. It's impossible to shake the feeling that this could all have been planned a little bit better, and the game lurches from chapter to chapter with little satisfaction in terms of smaller pacing arcs, with creepy scenes cobbled together in a disorienting and disappointing fashion. Occasionally, there'll be a fairly effective cliffhanger at the end of a chapter, only for the game to squander that tension at the start of the next.
That's the thing, The Evil Within works well to create moments of tension and a chilling atmosphere at times, bombarding the player with utterly grotesque imagery, but then it doesn't really know what to do with you once it has your attention.Click here to read more...
Watch Dogs became one of the most divisive games of the year, delighting some and disappointing others largely depending on how much hype you'd been exposed to. However, it's still an interesting and unique sandbox game that contains some great hacking mechanics under a bit too much bumf.
What we can agree on is that GAME's £23.99 price for their exclusive PS4 and Xbox One special edition is very competitive indeed, and cheaper than almost all normal editions of the game elsewhere. Thanks to iamthebatman01 @ HUKD!
DriveClub's online issues have been well documented since release, and it was only fair that we held off publishing our review until Evolution had time to iron out the kinks and we could actually play it online. Two weeks since release and it’s ‘pencil’s down’ time.
First up, single-player. The campaign is a lengthy selection of events in which you earn fame points that in turn level you up, unlocking more events and faster vehicles. The events themselves have a heavy reliance on time trials over multi-vehicle racing, making it seem like a very lonely game at times. There are drift events too, but the less said about those the better. There are three star awards for each event based on criteria like finishing position, clean laps, lap times or beating racing line or drift challenges.
Races would be quite enjoyable if DriveClub didn't try so hard to make your life difficult. The rubber-banding is merciless, meaning you can never truly get away from the pack and in a straight line they’re much faster than you, even when driving the same car. It's the penalty system that really beggars belief though. Cutting corners and colliding heavily with other vehicles is punished by a stun to the car's acceleration for an indeterminate amount of time. In theory, this isn't too bad, but the game's implementation of it is a disaster. You'll be penalised for going wide on a corner (not exactly cheating), having a tire off the track and sometimes the most minor paint-trades are punished. Racing carefully isn't the key either as the aggressive AI racers will slam into you like a drunk every chance they get and frequently spin you off the track, as they speed off ahead it's obvious the same rules don't apply. Better yet, YOU will be given a stun penalty for their mistakes. That's not to say you won't find yourself getting away with murder every now and then too.Click here to read more...
FIFA 15 is an experimental art game in which you'll delve into Mandelbrot-inspired fractals to discover a hidden synesthesic world of... no, it's footy. This year's iteration is a bit faster and boasts superior player management. If you want in, SimplyGames will save you a fiver on the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Thanks to RK94 @ HUKD!
Platforms: PS4 | Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Publisher: Bandai Namco | Devolver Digital
"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 this line a year ago in my Shadow Warrior PC review, and it still holds true today. Laughing at the limp linear patronising state of the FPS genre, Flying Wild Hog looked back at classic PC shooters and delivered a Wangtastic slam-bang, honest-to-goodness, three-fisted humdinger of a game with huge explorable levels, massive guns and enormous hordes of deadly demons to point them at.
Now a pixel-perfect port is available on PS4 and Xbox One, meaning that console owners have the opportunity to find out what they've been missing. I could probably end the review here... but in all honesty, this is also an opportunity for me to right a wrong.
See, Shadow Warrior has matured like a fine wine, becoming more delicious with age, and a year of perspective makes me realise that I might have weighted certain aspects of the game too heavily even though my criticisms are still the same. On PC I accused many of its unique features of watering down and diluting the classic FPS formula I've loved since Doom, and they do, but a year on I find myself enjoying Shadow Warrior as the game it is rather than the game I wanted it to be.Click here to read more...
NBA 2K15 is an interactive sporting soap opera, and it's quite brilliant in that regard. Visual Concepts have been leading the line in terms of narrative framing for career modes for some time, but last year's next-gen version saw them really ratchet things up in terms of context and plotting for MyCareer, upping the stakes by giving you a nemesis to measure yourself against, a mute team buddy to give you inspiration and a kick up the arse when warranted, and interactions with coaches, GMs and the press.
This year, though, they've really gone the extra mile in cultivating a sporting narrative full of drama and emotion. You kick things off as an undrafted rookie with an obnoxious, Jerry Maguire-esque agent shopping you about low-to-mid-level teams for a trial. The greater the team's standing, the harder you'll have to work to impress them, and so on. Succeed, and you'll earn yourself a ten-day contract; do well in the mattering of games during that short time period, and you might win a spot on the rotation for the rest of the season. It's a true underdog setup that then spins out into regular team meetings, chats with your coach, practice sessions, contract negotiations, team-mates finding out about you entertaining the notion of signing with a another team, squabbles about playing opportunities, clashes with other rookies and players, all in the quest to become the greatest player you can be.
It's rather intoxicating stuff, aided by more fully-featured voice work from the characters you'll meet along the way. It must be said, however, that few NBA players have the acting chops of Shaq, and the monotonous drawl of the likes of Terrence Ross and Andre Drummond, not to mention the interesting timing of some lines that VC clearly didn't have the time to record twice, can make dialogue exchanges inadvertently hilarious.Click here to read more...
Minecraft (PS4) | The Game Collection (via Rakuten) | £9.99 (save £2 vs Base)
Voucher Code: LAUNCHFIVE
The Game Collection ran a £9.99 flash sale for the PS4 version of Minecraft last week, a serious saving, but are still sneakily retailing at the same price via their Rakuten store listing. You'll need to use voucher code LAUNCHFIVE though.
I... don't need to explain what Minecraft is, do I? Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII @ HUKD!
With one short month to go before Far Cry 4 lands, we take a decisive look at all the available evidence, including our very own hands-on sessions, to make the case that we could be looking at a Game of the Year contender here. So dive into this week’s Sunday Seven: Why Far Cry 4 is Set to Own 2014.
You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but the honey badgers are arguably the most vicious creatures in Kyrat. Hunting missions will make a return, but using fire or explosions to kill animals will result in damaged pelts that are worth less cash and possibly not be as useful for crafting. Looks like we’ll have to avoid using rocket launchers and mines on the monochrome missile-like bastards then. Other animals that want to eat your eyes include wolves, rhinos, leopards, eagles, cave bears and much more. Come at me, nature!Click here to read more...
A great week for Wii U owners who can feel super smug as the Umbran witch makes her Nintendo debut. There’s quite the musical theme elsewhere with the latest Just Dance title and Harmonix’s motion-controlled take on Fantasia. The words Firaxis and Alpha Centauri are probably enough to get our PC-gaming readers excited, not to mention a certain Dreamfall title. Read on for the full rundown along with links to our past coverage and the cheapest prices.
Fans have only been waiting since 2006 to find out what happens next in the Dreamfall saga, so yeah, they’re pretty pumped for this one. We get the feeling this is going to be a Kickstarter success story and can’t wait to play the new episodic format. The game is also coming to PS4 at some point, but release dates vary from next week (wrong), to November, to next year. Expect reviews of the PC version from our very own Carl Phillips soon.Click here to read more...
Sony's weekly PSN deals are now live and relatively underwhelming outside of a couple of major highlights.
As per usual, the dealhunter generals at HotUKDeals have cut through the guff to point out the smartest bargains. oUkTuRkEyIII points out that Urban Trial Freestyle is only £0.79 on PS3 and Vita, whereas jaystan notes that Battlefield 4 premium membership is a steal at £11.80 on PS3 (with a free PS4 upgrade) and Octodad is well worth a look for £5.79.
As a massive fan of Japanese gaming, however, I'd also recommend Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F's Vita version to any fellow Vocaloid enthusiasts... no? Okay then. Check out the full list of discounts (dominated by a disgusting torrent of Battlefield shortcut DLC) below.Click here to read more...
Minecraft (PS4) | The Game Collection | £9.99 (save £2 vs Base)
Flash sale! The Game Collection are currently selling the PS4 version of Minecraft for under a tenner until 12:00 midnight tonight, which is a serious saving. We'd have posted about it sooner, but TGC's servers seemingly collapsed under the demand earlier today, and are now back online and ready to do business.
I... don't need to explain what Minecraft is, do I? Thanks to darioredkin @ HUKD!
LEGO Batman 3 promises to go "Beyond Gotham," but TT Games are thinking bigger. Sure, the Justice League's bid to stop Braniac from abducting major cities takes our heroes around the world and even outside Earth's atmosphere, but at its core this is nothing less than a love letter to DC's entire sprawling universe. It's an attempt to cram in characters from throughout the most obscure parts of the canon, comics, Elseworld stories, the films and everything in between; from the snarling antihero we know today to Adam West's legendary 1960's romp.
And Batcow. And The Condiment King. And Mister Mxyzptlk. And... Kevin Smith?!
It's a veritable DC fan's dream crossover, but fans of the LEGO series can also expect some new gameplay features, enjoyable stud-collecting adventures and the gentle yet anarchic humour you'd expect from the Manchester-based studio.Click here to read more...
It's all in the name. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham takes us beyond the iconic city on a quest to save the entire world, drawing on a massive pool of characters from every part of the DC universe, fan favourites and Elseworld stories.
I recently sat down with TT Games producer Matt Ellison to discuss how they approached development, what new features to expect and how LEGO Batman 3 promises to be a DC superfan's dream crossover. Not to mention a blast for aficionados of Adam West: the one true Batman.
In my opinion. Watch it all above, including what Ellison other classic franchise TT Games would love to give the LEGO treatment if they could get hold of the license.
NBA 2K15 is finally here, and it's good. I mean really good. Visual Concepts have tweaked a fair few things in this latest instalment of the World's Best Sport Game Series, and one of the nifty new features is the ability to scan in your face for MyPlayer.
Check out my efforts in the quest for facial perfection in the video above.
I won't lie, I didn't hold out much hope that this would be any good. EA Sports' Game Face is utterly dreadful. Aside from it being a slow, clunky, often unworkable piece of crap, when it does have the decency to work, my Game Face creations all came out looking like someone had stuffed several slapped arses into a blender and then given the remains to Picasso.Click here to read more...
Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot takes itself a tad too seriously in my book, but is still a worthwhile platformy shooter with some superb set pieces and smooth mechanics. It's best enjoyed in the gorgeous efinitive Edition, which can be yours for a shade under £18 courtesy of The Game Collection. Thanks to Chanchi32 @ HUKD!