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.
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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.
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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...
Ace Combat Infinity was confirmed as a free-to-play Japanese PSN exclusive several weeks ago, but Project Aces have now explained exactly how the system will work. The campaign will be free to play, as will 4v4 multiplayer matches that blend cooperative and competitive gameplay... but if pilots want to run cool, they'll have to run on heavy fuel.
However, "as long as you are willing to take the time, you can play the entire game for free.”Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC (reviewed, £14.99) | PSN & XBLA versions incoming
Developer: CI Games
Publisher: CI Games
We love games that push the boundaries of this interactive art form, that challenge our preconceptions of what the medium can deliver. We gorge ourselves on experimental, radical new experiences that tug at our heartstrings, that teach us about new perspectives and even ourselves. However, every once in a while, we also love shooting aliens in the face while listening to rock music.
This simple pleasure has been all but washed away by a tide of zombies and dubstep, but here comes a new challenger. Alien Rage promised little more than an army of ravening aliens, an arsenal of massive guns and plenty of grinding metal to enjoy while combining boomstick A with enemy cloaca B. Frankly, we couldn't have been more excited about this self-styled "oldschool" proposition, even though City Interactive's past form can be charitably described as inconsistent.
Unfortunately the trailers lied and Alien Rage fails a full half of its remit right off the bat. For the vast majority of the game, you'll barely hear the plaintive cry of a guitar beneath a monotony of generic strings, synth and brass that could have been lifted from the bottom of Jason Graves' wastepaper basket. So everything rests, then, on whether it lets us shoot aliens in the face.
Well it does, and it's beautiful to boot, but the new-school music is just the first in a long list of compromises.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS3 | PS Vita (Cross-buy, £9.99)
Developer: Jasper Byrne
Publisher: Curve Studios
Survival Horror isn't dead. Though the titans of the genre may have risen and fallen (and are perhaps rising again), the indie community seized the mantle and are delivering all the scary we need. Last year, a one-man project called Lone Survivor leapt out of left field and utterly floored us, delivering an expertly-honed horror experience that was as thought-provoking as it was horribly tense. Grimy, surreal and relentlessly compelling, PC gamers found it to be one of the most impressive sleeper hits of 2012.
A year on, and Lone Survivor is now available on PS3 and Vita as a cross-buy Director's Cut version, sporting a few improvements and tweaks to suit its new platforms. Though we're spoiled for choice by the likes of Outlast and Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, Lone Survivor is still as sharp, harrowing and clever as it ever was, and deserves to be met with open arms by a brand new audience. You lucky, lucky people.
Players assume the role of a sole survivor in a zombie-infested apartment block, the world now gone to hell following a zombie apocalypse. His name isn't important, nor immediately forthcoming. Neither are the reasons behind the calamity. All you know is that he's stuck in a nightmare situation... and he's slowly going mad. Plagued by surreal night terrors and playable hallucinations, you'll sortie into the broken remains of the apartment complex to scavenge for food and weapons, staring deeply into mirrors to access new environments and fighting the onset of starvation and psychosis. The line between reality and insanity becomes increasingly hard to discern.Click here to read more...
Alien Rage promises to be a proper old-school FPS romp: just you, an army of aliens and a massive selection of outrageous boomsticks to slaughter them with. It's out tomorrow on Steam, so to prepare you for battle, CI Games have deployed an appropriately raunchy launch trailer.
I'm always up for a bit of circle-strafing bunny-hopping metal-fuelled action, so hopefully Alien Rage can deliver the goods.Click here to read more...
Whether you enjoy rocking out or spraying lead, chances are there's something on the PlayStation Network to take your fancy. Sony has launched not one, but two sales today, one for military titles while the other concentrates on Guitar Hero track packs.
We've got all the details after the break courtesy of the EU PlayStation Blog, though I've taken the liberty of picking out the prices for your convenience. Remember that you can browse and cue up downloads directly from the SEN website (at least once the store update goes live).
PS Plus subscribers receive an additional 15-25% discount, but probably don't need to spend anything since next month's Instant Game Collection update is utterly insane.
Platforms: PS3 | PS4 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One | PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier (internal team)
Games tend to shy away from World War One as a potential setting, and it's easy to see why. The miserable, hopeless carnage of trench warfare simply can't equate to fun or entertainment in a traditional sense without totally trivialising the conflict, instead only allowing niche titles to explore it in any meaningful way.
So it's refreshing to see a small Ubisoft Montpellier team approaching The Great War from an entirely new perspective, a 2D puzzle adventure that focuses not on the battles, but on the people, teasing out the humanity behind it. Valiant Hearts is very much a labour of love for its 15-strong studio, drawing on real letters from the front lines that never made it home for inspiration, and real events and photographs to anchor players in the setting. Throughout its ten-to-twelve hours, you'll experience the reality of World War One through the eyes of five diverse characters on both sides of the trenches, whose stories ultimately conspire to bring two lovers together. Thanks, in no small part, to a heroic dog.
"We take you from 1914 to 1918," director Adrian Lacey told us during a recent preview event in Paris, "and basically these five protagonists intertwine as they go through their journey. The foundation of the story is to bring Karl [a German soldier] and Marie back together, it's a love story, and it's how all the perspectives of each character goes within that story. Their perspective of the war, why they're in the war."
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I'd almost forgotten what overdriven guitars sound like, what with all the dubstep infesting our videos these days. Thankfully Alien Rage is here to put things right, offering plenty of generic videogame metal accompanying footage of shooting aliens in the face (or extraterrestrial equivalent).Click here to read more...
Valiant Hearts: The Great War will tell five interlacing World War One stories based on real letters and events, tied together by a heroic dog who never takes sides. This might sound like a perfect framework for an episodic format, with each character a single episode, and the small internal Ubisoft team are apparently approaching development with that firmly in mind.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PSN | XBLA (current & next-gen) | PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Child Of Light was too big a secret to keep. As an interactive fairytale, respectful homage to classic role-playing games and a gorgeous use of Rayman Origins' UbiArt engine, Far Cry 3's creative director couldn't help but let the cat out of the bag at GDC.
You can hardly blame him, because after getting hands-on with Child Of Light at a Parisian preview session, I can report that it's shaping up to be something very special indeed.
The story follows Aurora, a young girl marked by destiny in a fairytale world that toes the line between whimsical and thoroughly twisted. Packing a massive sword, fake crown and a hovering magical companion called Igniculus, our heroine sets out to bring light to the darkness in a hybrid between 2D exploration and classic turn-based battling.Click here to read more...