Platforms: PC | PS3 | PS4 (tested) | Xbox 360 | Xbox One
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier (small internal team)
Hand on heart: I've never played anything remotely like Valiant Hearts: The Great War.
Perhaps that's not technically true. As a 2D puzzle adventure with simple yet engaging mechanics, we've had plenty of seemingly similar games to choose from over the last few years, but the tiny passionate team behind this UbiArt-powered title have managed to create an experience that would been laughed out of boardrooms across the industry.
Consider a game set in the grim battlefields of World War One... but with puzzles instead of visceral combat. A story that makes no-one the villain, instead focusing on the real people on both sides of the conflict and their personal dramas. A stylised and cartoony visual treat hand-drawn by a single designer, that still manages to flesh out strong characters with a bare minimum of dialogue. Featuring brainteasers that challenge players while not bogging down the all-important plot. Inspired by a small museum of correspondence and artefacts from the front, educating us about real events without becoming horribly depressing.
In effect, Valiant Hearts is too ridiculously left-field and experimental to exist by conventional AAA publishing logic, yet here it comes courtesy of Ubisoft. Having spent several hours playing the latest production build at their Guildford UK headquarters, accompanied by associate producers Gregory Hermittant and Guillaume Cerda, I can report that it promises to be rather special indeed.
You'll laugh, you'll cry and you might just learn something too - so long as the finished article matches our impressions so far.Click here to continue [Beware mild spoilers] >>
Platform: PS3 (PSN, free client download/trial) | Other platforms TBA
Developer: SingOn Inc.
SingOn feels like the next generation of living room karaoke.
If you want to sing without complications, fuss or spending much money, this revolutionary Finnish upstart is pretty much everything you could want. It's a streaming service client as opposed to a locked-in boxed game, granting you access to hundreds and hundreds of songs that are updated on a weekly basis, always including the very latest charts alongside rock, jazz, cheese, rap, film classics and even Finnish folk music. Every decade is represented, every genre has plenty of choice on offer, and it's all delivered on our terms.
£2.99 nets you full access to the entire library for three hours, more than enough for an evening of crooning, letting you stream and sing to your heart's content while laying out considerably less than the cost of a London pint. Or an entire weekend sorted for £5.99. The days of having to spend £40 on a limited selection of tracks, many of which you won't like and will never sing, are well and truly over. If you've got a microphone, a PS3 and an internet connection, it's game on.
However, SingOn is more of a karaoke machine than a karaoke game - and it's clear that the service still has a way to go before it can cement its place in the lounge.Click here to read more...
Following a successful beta earlier this year, Ace Combat Infinity is too close for missiles and other lazy Top Gun references.
In fact, let's get them out of our system now, shall we? You can be my wingman any time. Highway to the Danger Zone. Take me to bed or lose me forever. Yeehaw, Jester's dead! Paging Doctor Loggins... oh, hang on, that was an Archer reference.
Never mind, because the take-home message here is that Ace Combat Infinity will release on the European PSN on May 28th. It's free-to-play and designed about competitive co-op, set in the modern day yet taking bosses, familiar faces and enemies from brilliant Strangereal universe, making it the gutsiest move I ever saw, Mav. Come on, I had to leave one for last. Matt delivered a hands-on preview if you want a closer look.
In case you haven't noticed, we're big fans of karaoke here at Dealspwn.com. There's little more enjoyable than thoroughly embarrassing ourselves by tipsily belting out awful versions of classic songs from the diaphragm, and videogames have long been on hand to scratch our itch; from SingStar and Lips to the likes of We Sing and even Rock Band.
But there's a problem. Every time a new karaoke game comes out, we find ourselves gravitating to three or four songs in the track list, restricted by the 20-40 tunes on the disc. There's always filler material, there's always bumf that literally no-one likes to sing, while themed sequels and track packs leave fans of other decades or genres sitting glumly on the sofa and wishing that they'd gone to that other party instead.
SingOn aims to change all that. We've seen so many games trying to become "services" over the last few years, usually with disastrous results, but for Karaoke games this new startup makes perfect sense. It's effectively a free client that grants players access to a continually-updated streaming roster of hundreds of songs throughout numerous genres, on their own terms. Whether charging a couple of quid for a night, a few Pounds for weekend access or spending the price of a regular game for a year's unfettered use, SingOn is all about letting us choose exactly when and exactly what we want to sing.
The passionate developers describe SingOn as the "next generation of Karaoke games," and though it's rolling out on PS3 first, PlayStation Network is just the very first step in a plan for global domination across multiple platforms.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS3 (tested) | PS Vita (reviewed)
Publisher: Devolver Digital
My customised fighter screams into the sepia sky from the holds of a lurking Unterseeboot, a lone aeroplane against an entire air force. The enemy is on my six in seconds, swarming around me like gnats, filling the skies with fire as patrol boats throw up a hail of anti-air ordinance. I merrily dance through the flack, redline my engines towards the stratosphere, then turn on a sixpence and lock into a controlled stall; shredding an entire squadron of fighters as I plummet towards the ocean. My plane hits hits the water, but keeps going, erupting back out of the waves as my machine guns pummel the enemy frigates into twisted metal.
Luftrausers makes me feel like an ace pilot - no, I am an ace pilot. I am Baron Jon Richthofen! I'm a force of nature, the Sky Captain, a real slam-bang honest-to-goodness three-fisted humdinger. I'm a bona fide supraman... oh no, wait, now I'm just a small pile of burning canvas. A battleship zeroed its ruinous deck guns on my position and brought me quite literally down to Earth. Damn.
Never mind, though, because next time my plane will have a thicker hull, detonate in an enormous explosion and carry a brace of lasers on its chin.
Vlambeer are masters of taking classic arcade concepts and making them sing, and they've done it again.Click here to read more...
Sony have gone big with a new PSN sale boasting discounts for over fifty games on the network, from older classics such as Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, and Hitman, to newer marquee titles such as Uncharted 2, Rain, Tokyo Jungle, and God of War HD.Check out the full list after the jump >>
Developer: Double Helix Games
Strider is the best game that Double Helix have ever made.
The bar was admittedly scraping along the ground, since their mediocre past form includes the likes of Battleship, Front Mission Evolved and that shocking Green Lantern tie-in. But be in no doubt: their suitably challenging and respectful remake of Capcom's classic slice & dice platformer is very good indeed, and worthy to bear the name. As soon as master assassin Hiryu goofily cartwheels over a crowd of robotic rifleman, flips off a wall and carves his first foe into tiny pieces, its pedigree is unmistakeable.
When Strider is content to be a faithful reboot, it's really rather brilliant. Having arrived in the sprawling city of Kazakh to murder its evil 'Grandmaster' and bring peace to the world with ultraviolence, Hiryu is as spry and blisteringly fast as we remember, barrelling through the corridors in a blur of precisely-aimed steel and perfectly-timed wall jumps. Packing a climbing sickle that can scale any surface, robotic combat enhancements and even a teleporter, he's a force to be reckoned with, but the Grandmaster's robot army and mercenary henchmen will give him a retro-tough run for his money.Click here to read more...
Sony have gone live with their February PlayStation Store sale, and there are a host of nice-looking digital deals in there, including discounts for the likes of Knack, Gran Turismo 6, Catherine, Tearaway, and (for the last week of the month) The Last of Us.
Check out the full list after the jump.Click here to read more...
About time too. After the exceptional first episode of The Wolf Among Us left us with a truly shocking cliffhanger, Telltale left us hanging for three months. Three months I've spent gnawing on my newsdesk and clawing at my hair in closure-less anguish. Three months that I've spent desperately pining for any new info while daydreaming of foulmouthed cockney frogs.
Thankfully Telltale are finally ready to release Episode 2 - entitled 'Smoke & Mirrors' - next week, presumably Wednesday and Thursday across multiple platforms. Since the PC version can only be bought as a season pass, we're keen to see if Telltale can keep the quality up. Expect subplots to thicken, more revelations, plenty of raw violence and about a thousand more unanswered questions.
In case you didn't know, The Wolf Among Us brings classic Fairy Tales into a gritty and complex 80s setting, and does so majestically. Be sure to read our spoiler-free 9/10 review for our verdict.
It's that time again, folks: Sony's annual Final Fantasy Sale. From the golden oldies to A Realm Reborn and Dissidia, this is definitely a good time to plug the gaps in your collection, especially since PS Plus members can get an extra 10% discount.
Vita owners should make the most of this, seeing as they can get Final Fantasy 1-9 (excluding 3) for £3.99 apiece, not to mention the PSP classics Final Fantasy Tactics: War Of The Lions. They all look fantastic on that luscious OLED screen.
We've got all the details and prices below, courtesy of the EU PlayStation Blog and the eagle-eyed Shamish @ HUKD! Many thanks.Click here to read more...
When the PS4 was announced, one of the big questions surrounded the issue of PlayStation Plus and exactly how Sony might incorporate their wildly successful and outstandingly awesome subscription service into their plans for next-gen. So too, we wondered, how Sony might balance the pledges made to gamers and developers alike back in that February reveal. It seems the two go hand in hand.
The Xbox 360 was my console of choice for most of the last generation, and that was mainly due to timing more than anything else. When I bought in, it was cheaper than its competitor, it offered a wider variety of games, and the online service was exceptional. I never thought twice about paying the Xbox LIVE Gold subscription because, frankly, at £3 a month it was more than worth it for a reliable service (for me anyway) with which, to this day, I have had very little to complain about. Perhaps it is because of that, because paying an annual subscription fee to be able to play seamlessly online seemed to make sense, that PlayStation Plus seems like such a treat.
That Sony made the subscription fee essential for online play with the arrival of the PS4 doesn't bother me in the slightest. I get it. What's been impressive is that, thus far, there's no indication of them resting on their laurels. In this difficult period post-launch, Sony has consolidated two of its key weapons to keep that blue light on the PS4 on, to keep players playing, to boost the profile of developers and games perhaps adrift in an increasingly dense sea of PC releases, and to make good on their promises.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS3 | PS Vita
Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher: Namco Bandai
The aim of A-Men 2 from Namco Bandai is to take us back to a simpler time. A time when games were all about the puzzles, where the game design presented intelligent problems, and the solutions required your own ingenuity and patience. They tend to go hand in hand with a sense of difficulty and perseverance – the game must provide a challenge otherwise a puzzle is anything but what its name suggests – but it’s all about balance. You want a game that challenges you, but keeps you wanting more. It’s a very fine line that can be very hard to keep to – maybe even more so in a puzzler. So how well does Amen-2 do in this regard?
The core of the game is that you are tasked with getting your groups of “A-Men” from their starting points in the level to the helicopter pick up point at the end. To make the helicopter appear, you need to have cleared a certain amount of enemies from the level to allow for a safe landing. But even with the helicopter here, getting to it is normally easier said than done. In true puzzler style, there are many obstacles between your elite team and their goal. To add to the difficulty, your units cannot sustain any damage from enemies or drop from more than one level above, or they will die. Any death to any unit will result in a level restart.
Click here to read more...
I'm genuinely sorry about that limp headline, but regardless, there are some Sci-Fi themed savings to be had on the PlayStation Network this week. Chief among them are Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon for £4.99 and Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable at £11.99, not including extra PS Plus discounts. I'd also personally like to recommend Space Invaders: Infinity Gene, which is one of the most innovative and enjoyable SHMUPS I've ever played.
We've got the whole shebang below, courtesy of the EU PlayStation Blog.Click here to read more...
XSEED Games have released Valhalla Knights 3 on the EU PlayStation Store today, exclusively for PS Vita, costing £23.99. The series is known for its punishing difficulty and warped morality, but includes a wealth of content for "industrious players." The Japanese version also included some fairly raunchy stuff, though I don't know how much of it made it through to the UK.
Valhalla Knights 3 is famed for being properly tough - "b*stard hard" as our own Brendan Griffiths likes to say - but met with a mixed reception when it launched Stateside earlier this year. Definitely one to think long and hard about before investing in, though it's always nice to see European Vita owners getting more stuff to play.
Let's face it, with Halloween just around the corner, Sony would be mad not to tap into our inexplicable love for zombies on the PlayStation Network. Which is exactly what they've done, thanks to a slew of new savings shambling onto the existing horror sale. It's not actually the best sale we've ever seen, with many titles cheaper elsewhere (or not worth buying in the first place - avoid The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct like the plague it is), but Resident Evil fans will be well away.
We've got all the tasty savings after the braaaaaiiiiins. The break. Sorry, what did I say?Click here to read more...
Halloween is fast approaching, that spooky time of year when the spirits return to the world of the living, and gangs of high-spirited youngsters turn up at your front door several days early demanding money in exchange for not keying your car or somesuch. Truly a scary season. At least Sony are getting into the spirit of things with a couple of themed PSN sales, one of which goes big on horror games while the other focuses on cross-buy Vita and PS3 titles.
There are plentiful savings to be had, such as the excellent Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut for £14.99 and the House Of The Dead Bundle for £7.99 (a massive discount). Amy is also less than a quid, but you still shouldn't buy it, ever. We've got the whole shebang below, complete with SEN marketplace links and asterisks for what I'd consider to be the smartest bargains, courtesy of the EU PlayStation Blog.
Note that PS Plus members get an extra 15-25% discount.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PSN | XBLA (£6.75, reviewed)
Developer: Kung Fu Factory
Girl Fight was never going to be a good game. The clue's in the name. It's called Girl Fight.
Yes, this tragic throwback subscribes to the 'if you can't make it good, make it sexy' philosophy of game design, existing solely as an excuse for an array of scantily-clad "sexy fighters" to touch each other for our titillation like a tawdry downloadable peep show. Just pop in the £6.75, roll back the curtain and watch some "fierce femme fatales" duke it out before unlocking some mucky pictures for your trouble. The formula worked so well for BMX XXX and Dead Or Alive: Paradise, after all.
No, wait, the other thing. Most gamers are savvy enough to spot opportunistic exploitation when they see it, and Girl Fight immediately fell off the radar when it launched last month. Having been asked to critique Girl Fight by Microprose, I can report that this lack of excitement and interest is thoroughly deserved.
Click here to read more...
Tekken Producer Katsuhiro Harada has suggested that the PS5 might well take the form of a service rather than a console. Now, Harada is known for having some pretty far-out (yes, I've been watching Bill and Ted, sue me) ideas, but actually as this one goes, it's not really that far-fetched.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS3 (PSN, £15.99)
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
I'm told that there's nothing quite like the thrill hurtling towards the Earth at terminal velocity, and now we don't have to shell out for colourful adult babygrows and life insurance to experience it. Skydive: Proximity Flight brings the adrenaline rush of base jumping to the PlayStation Network, throwing you off mountains and hot air balloons with nothing save a wingsuit to slow your fall.
When played on a big television and through a decent sound system, you can practically feel the wind whistling through your teeth.
At its core, Skydive offers several expansive maps to scream through, your wingsuit providing you plenty of forward momentum as well as sickening vertical plunge. As you dodge through the gorgeously-rendered scenery by the skin of your teeth, finding new routes as you do so, you're awarded points for Proximity Flight: the nigh-suicidal art of practically touching your nose to the mountainside or treetops as you zoom over the terrain. Most of the joy of Skydive is simply gleaned from the raw joy of pushing your limits and seeing how the differing times of day and level design can affect your runs. Near the bottom, you'll also have to think about pulling your parachute too, that is if your knuckles aren't too white.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS3 (PSN, £9.99)
Developer: PlayStation CAMP
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Sony should be congratulated for bringing a diverse and experimental range of gaming experiences to the PlayStation Network, and Rain was set to be their bravest and most innovative yet. This soulful adventure stars an invisible boy alone in a storm-swept world, chasing a mysterious girl who's always just out of reach through a sort-of-stealth puzzler, trying to get back home. As fans of innovative new experiences, suffice to say that we were more than a little excited about PlayStation C.A.M.P.'s latest venture.
So it's galling that Rain falls totally flat because, when it comes right down to brass tacks, it simply isn't brave nor innovative enough. In fact, it has a dirty little secret that undermines almost everything.
We're getting ahead of ourselves, mind, so let's start by accentuating the positives: Rain is one of the most beautiful games I've played in years. The city, an impossible labyrinth of rain-drenched French architecture, is brought to life with a rich yet muted colour palette, melancholy practically dripping from every gutter and flowing down every drain. A real sense of loneliness and isolation is hammered home by a truly masterful soundtrack that applies the lightest touch: a light piano refrain here, an accordion there, and silence when necessary for maximum impact. It is truly a feast for the senses.
There are moments when you'll just stand staring at your television, gobsmacked and humbled, listening to the rain.Click here to read more...