Yesterday, I posited that LittleBigPlanet 3 is exactly the sort of game that the PS4 needs right now -- an open-ended, creatively-vibrant titles that an awesome community might be able to form around. Well, our official review is on its way, but in the interim, here's a look at the game's opening scenes.
Don't worry, it's perfectly normal to want to marathon A Bit of Fry and Laurie after this.
LittleBigPlanet 3 is out next week, and I sat down with Sumo Digital designer Jonathan Christian for a massive last-minute chat. Over eighteen minutes we cover the new story details, brand new gameplay features, differences between versions, amazing new create mode functionality and working with Hugh Laurie.
This is pretty much everything you need to know about LittleBigPlanet 3 in one convenient place.
Assassin's Creed: Unity is a bit of a technical mess. We've already established that. Even given the hefty 900MB patch that greets you the second you fire up the game, it still has moments of hideous slowdown, dubious input recognition, and unsightly pop-in.
Were I to speculate, I'd posit that Unity is something of a rush job (despite having an alleged three years in development), which is a real shame, because it's actually got an awful lot going for it, especially in terms of setting and mission design and improvements t traversal that genuinely fix many of the long-standing concerns that fans have had for years.
There'll be more on all of that to come in subsequent articles and the review, which I hope to have ready by the time the game launches here in the UK on Friday.
For now, though, here's a look at Assassin's Creed: Unity's first twenty minutes of gameplay footage. Ladies and gents, it's time for opening scenes...Click here to read more...
The Red Solstice is a top-down, real-time, tactical, 8-player, co-op survival game. Man that was long. It feels a little like XCOM meets Commandos in some ways, though with faster pacing, dynamic events, and pop-up objectives.
It's also confusing as hell.
Set in the distant future, across a Martian landscape ravaged by war, you're greeted by the gravelliest of gravelly voices intoning some guff about a massive storm and alien beasties. It's fairly difficult to take him seriously. I jumped into a multiplayer game straight away, which was a terrible mistake as everyone apart from myself and another poor noobish soul ran off and immediately began hoarding all of the items, and we had absolutely no idea what the hell we were supposed to be doing.
We'll save the multiplayer stuff for a Game Night in the recent future.
Thankfully, The Red Solstice has a tutorial prologue level, which I quickly jumped into after a massive alien ate everyone on my team, to help players get to grips with the basics. It's a fairly complex game, not helped by a control system that can seem a little overly convoluted at times. It handles a little like a clunky MMO in some ways -- the plethora of instructions available can be a little overwhelming in real-time -- but a few replays on, and I began to get used to it.Click here to read more...
Jon's been telling us for weeks that we should jump back into Titanfall, largely thanks to the hefty recent content drop and the addition of a PvE horde mode of sorts, and we finally Titan'd up for some Game Night shenanigans.
It might just be the crushing disappointment and hollow feeling that Destiny has left me with, but frankly this was an utter blast. Frontier Defense is a cracking (FREE) addition to the delightfully smooth gameplay package, and it's clear that Respawn have really made a concerted effort over the past few months to make the game sparkle. The lobbies and customisation options have been tweaked in all of the right ways, matchmaking actually seems to work (and the countdown timers have been decreased), and Frontier Defense shakes things up in a great way, throwing Suicide Spectres and Arc Titans into the fray.
I have to say, though, that I really, desperately wish I had an Xbox One after this Game Night. Titanfall plays so incredibly well on PC, but really its a game that lends itself completely to the couch-oriented console experience. Still, this was an absolute blast, and I'm pretty sure Carl and I will certainly be joining Jon in dipping into it frequently over the next few weeks.
If COD doesn't blow us away, that is. That now has Titans too.
We haven't checked in officially with Square Enix's humans-vs-vampires, team-based, slay-em-up -- Nosgoth -- for some time now. But with the game on the cusp of moving into open beta this winter, and with a host of tweaks and improvements having been made to the game in recent months, I sat down this week with Community Manager Cat Karskens to have a bit of a natter.
Throughout the last few days, Nosgoth has been enjoying the Halloween-themed Devil's Night event, delivering random drops of ghostly goodness for players, and unique items that are only obtainable this week, but will last permanently once collected. I talk to Karskens about the ongoing festivities, the feedback that Psyonix and the team at Square Enix have been receiving, where the game is headed in terms of improved features and new classes, and how accessibility and monetisation will shift once the open beta begins.
You can check out the official site here.
Last week, we took a look at the masterful 80 Days and how Inkle went about making such a text-heavy experience work on mobile platforms. As promised, here's part two of my chat with the developers behind the game. This time, we were joined by the game's writer -- Meg Jayanth -- to talk about the intertextual side of things, and the literary nature of adapting a century-old novel into a game laden with player choices.
If you're at all interested in the craft of creating branching, interactive narratives, this week's video is fundamental viewing/listening as Jayanth and Jon Ingold talk about the research and structural processes behind one of the finest games of the year, describing how the steampunk elements of the game came into being, and how some of Verne's outdated social considerations (or lack thereof) were updated for a more modern audience in this game. Finally, we talk more broadly about romance in video games, the subtleties of trying to cultivate relationships through virtual narratives, and how games might approach sexuality better going forwards.
This might just be my favourite interview that I've ever done. It's quite a long one, though, so for the sake of navigation, here's a little list of contents:
The PS4's update 2.0 was so powerful that it knocked out the PSN yesterday. Considering how long Sony have been doing this, you'd have thought that maybe, just maybe, they'd have learned to sort out their network stability a little better over the past handful of years... but no.
Anyway, Update 2.0 is out, things appear to be working properly, and one of the most lauded features of the new firmware package has arrived in the form of Share Play. In a nutshell, Share Play allows for a remote version of local game sharing -- be that passing a master controller to a friend, or allowing them to play a game that they don't currently own themselves. Sessions are limited to an hour at a time, PlayStation Plus is a requirement for controller sharing, and you can only use the multiplayer aspects of the service for games with local multiplayer components.
It all seems to work very nicely indeed, though. To test out the service in the name of science, Carl and I fired up our machines and jumped into a game of FIFA 15, whereupon Carl and I were able to enjoy a match together despite Carl not owning the game in question. Side-by-side, the videos reveal that there's an ever-so-slight delay, but playing the game felt pretty seamless. There's a resolution drop, of course -- you can only play Share Play games in 720p -- but the game still looked pretty good at both end, and it should be noted that visual fidelity is an option that can be changed (we'd set ours to "high").Click here to read more...
This week, we leap back into the Hunger Games, but it seems as though the admins are pratting about a bit. CR manages to climb a tree and get himself into a good position, but the other Tributes seem to have earmarked me out as a weak link. Fists vs swords is only ever going to end one way.
Last week, Daedalic Entertainment -- the German dev/pub studio behind the Deponia series, The Night of the Rabbit, and Blackguards -- announced that they'd be bringing one of their upcoming games to consoles. Silence, the sequel to Daedalic's 2009 adventure game The Whispered World, has been developed completely from the ground up with an eye towards porting the game to Xbox One and, hopefully, PS4. To get more information on Daedalic's expansion into the console market, I sat down with Daedalic's PR director, Claas Wolter, to ask what this means for the company and adventure games in general.
"Silence has always been a multi-platform project”, said Daedalic’s Studio Manager Steffen Boos in the company's official announcement. "From early on, we planned to release Silence – The Whispered World 2 on consoles as well, but we wanted to make absolutely certain the controls were tuned to each platform before announcing its console status.
"We think the new generation of consoles offer a platform that is ideal for indie development, and with the new gameplay we’re introducing to the adventure genre with The Whispered World 2, adventure games now also can be a good fit to consoles."
Click here to read more...
Apparently, when Jeff Anderson was first approached by Nexus Game Studios regarding the possibility of doing voiceover work for Randal's Monday, he rather angrily turned the gig down, believing the game to be ripping off Clerks -- the film that introduced the wider world to the joys of Kevin Smith's dialogue. He looked at the script anyway, found it to be broader and funnier than he'd anticipated originally, and made a U-turn.
Randal's Monday is not a Clerks spinoff, but it does borrow rather heavily from the Askewniverse, and the titular character's name is even a mashup of Dante Hicks and Randal Graves. Hell, a dynamic duo looking a lot like Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes is actually also on the cast list for this game) pop up later on in the game.
I've spent a fair bit of time with the game's truncated early access build, and here's a little First Contact video of my initial half hour with the game along with some impressions. There'll be a review along next month, closer to the game's release when the early access build updates, but I found the game's opener to be something of a mixed bag to be honest.
There's real promise here, but a few games writers were privy to a Daedalic showcase in which the game's broader plot was fleshed out beyond the opening scenes, and I have to say that I think knowing the loose narrative conceit around which the story is based might be key to getting through what can be a bit of an uneven introduction to the game. I talk about it in more depth at the end of the video (I want to try and avoid plot spoilers here if possible) but Randal's Monday takes a bit of a while to get going, and the pacing is key to comedy -- something that Nexus don't always get right here. That said, I want to kick on and play the rest, Anderson is basically playing a role made for him (and his delivery is bang on), there's some interesting puzzling a little further on, and the Groundhog Day cycle is something I'm eager to explore.Click here to read more...
WWE 2K15 is a big deal for 2K Sports. It's the first game in the series where they had the opportunity to produce a game from scratch, and they've been taking the responisiblity very seriously indeed, calling WWE 2K15 the first truly next-gen wrestling game, acknowledging the limitations of last year's generation-straddling iteration. As such, they're hoping to see Yuke's and project partners Visual Concepts both bringing their A-games, ringing the changes in a number of meaningful ways.
MyCareer is a huge addition to the franchise, taking the best bits from VC's longstanding mode in the NBA 2K series and applying it here, fulfilling one of the biggest requests fans have been making for years. The presentation, as you'd expect, is absolutely top notch, with a huge portable capture rig having been driven around the US to really nail the exaggerated facial animations and up the level of drama in the ring.
Speaking of which, the actually wrestling itself has undergone some changes too, breaking down moves into more specific components, giving players a greater array of options in terms of body targeting, and making a concerted effort to match the fluidity and shifts in momentum that befit a proper WWE match. Mastering the art of countering is going to prove absolutely essential in this year's game, and it's a fiendish thing to get a hold of against the AI, though I found it significantly easier (though still pretty challenging) against a human opponent.
To get the lowdown on the changes and upgrades that Yuke's and VC are bringing to the table with this year's game, and to chat about what working primarily with the new consoles has allowed the developers to do, I caught up with WWE 2K brand director Bryce Yang at a recent event in London.Check out my WWE 2K15 interview with Yang after the jump >>
80 Days has been one of my favourite games of the year. If you told me that a text-heavy iOS game would end up being a personal contender for Game of the Year back in January, I would have probably laughed in your face. The idea of a mobile game providing a deep, narrative-driven experience is frankly laughable to me, particular one so heavily rooted in reading lots of text. But 80 Days made a mockery of my scepticism, somehow managing to be perfectly suited to little bursts of play-up-and-play action yet still offering an engrossing long-term narrative steered in large part by the player.
An adaptation of Jules Verne's classic, which updates some of the more archaic sensibilities of the original while retaining the style and politics of our planet in the late Nineties, 80 Days is a bold, refreshing game that puts players in the immaculate shoes of Passepartout, juggling valet duties to his adventuring master, planning the route across the globe, dealing with the various moral dilemmas and dynamic events that crop up and block the way from time to time, balancing speed against funds and health, all the while marking the calendar and the time left.
It works magnificently on smart devices, so much so that something would undoubtedly be lost on console or PC, such is a tactile way that you draw out the narrative, poking and prodding the screen to gently unfurl the next segment of story or attempt to wheedle more information out of the people that meet, making choices that will affect you master and those around you, and tracing your way across continents with your fingers.
I've played through it at least seven times now.
But I wanted to find out more about how the game came into being and the thought processes behind some of the design choices, not to mention how Inkle went about adapting the original novel and optimised it for a platform not normally associated with gripping, replayable interactive fictions. Which brings me to part one of our rather lengthy chat...Click here to read more...
After falling down a hole in last week's Hunger Games video, this week it's all about Sky Wars -- a game mode where everyone starts on their own little floating island and fights to become the last person standing.
True to form, the first thing I go and do is fall in a hole. Great.
I've discovered that I desperately need practice in terms of the basics when it comes to Minecraft, and that it always helps to have a crafting guide open on a second screen. This week's efforts are riddled with failure, but we also have our first taste of victory, and I follow Deadpool around demand that he gives me his skin.
It's all rather surreal.Click here to read more...
John Carmack once said the following about story in video games: "Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not that important."
Of course, games have come to encompass a wider array of virtual interactive experiences since he uttered those words, and quite frankly there's never been a better time to be a gamer no matter what you prioritise. Whichever floats your proverbial boat the most -- be it graphics, sound design, responsive and taut mechanics, dynamic content, player agency, expansive world, free-roaming play, expertly-crafted rollercoasters of action and emotion, a well-told story -- whatever your gaming poison, chances are there something damn fine out there for you.
Carmack's words ring hollow for me as a gamer, but from a development standpoint I think it's important to note that a good story or excellent narrative framing is a tool to be leveraged in pursuit of a good game just like mindblowing aesthetics, inventive art design, and other considerations. A point that we (Jon especially) have often made on this site is to include the elements that best suit your game. A focus on storytelling is not something to be shoehorned into a game. A poor story or clunkily-worked narrative elements can frequently be worse than not having it in there at all.
There are a handful of genres to which narrative design still seems somewhat alien. We hear it all the time when it comes to sports titles, fighting games, racing and driving games -- "this game doesn't need a story". But it rather depends on what you're looking for, to be honest. No game needs bad writing or poorly thought out features or modes, but in certain circumstances, narrative framing at least can serve to elevate a game over its peers. Continuing along that line of thinking, this week's video takes a look at the NBA 2K series, as well as games like Forza Horizon and, surprise, Defense Grid 2.Click here to read more...
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...
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is out this week, and the review embargo is up. But we're not quite ready to drop the verdict of Gearbox and 2K Australia's latest just yet. Our review will be along later this week, but in the interim, here's a little look at the game's opening scenes.
Definitely check out Carl's interview with the devs too.
Minecraft is a game that passed me by completely. It's a sad reality of life as a games critic -- the minute you're finished with a game for review, you're onto the next one. There's always something new to cover, whether that's a title that's just dropped through the letter box, or an Early Access project that's just started an initial alpha run, or a new demo or browser game or interview to be done.
I don't say this to complain at all, I love what I do. But it illustrates that the current situation I find myself in is very different to that of my formative years when I could wallow in a single game for months upon end. Indeed, such activity was often a requirement because of financial concerns. These days you struggle to make time for simply soaking in a game world.
So Minecraft passed me by, covered in far greater detail by a burgeoning YouTube market, expanded into classrooms and other places of learning. It became the gaming equivalent of dancing or skating competitive reality shows -- adored by the masses, but something I'd failed to get into, only occasionally stopping to watch the odd humorous video on YouTube.
Better late than never, as they say. Every Monday, I'll be teaming up with my Minecraft guru Calvin (formerly of GodisaGeek) to investigate a new corner of the Minecraft experience over on my personal channel, and you can find a new episode here at 5PM at the top of each week.
To kick things off, we check out The Hunger Games, and it quickly becomes readily apparent that neither of us are particularly proficient survivors.Click here to read more...
I'm not very good at Driveclub. I'm in the process of playing F1 2014 for review, and I always like to dip in and out of Burnout Paradise or Need For Speed: Most Wanted for a regular Criterion fix. One sits firmly at the simulation end of the spectrum, the other two are much more geared towards exaggerated thrills and over-the-top racing.
Such extremes in either direction are far too much for Driveclub.
I won't pretend that I've been looking forward to this game with eager anticipation. Indeed, it's difficult when there's not much to actually get excited for. The USP upon which Driveclub has been built is currently in a sorry, shambolic state. Apparently, Evolution learned nothing from the half decade or so in which we've had systems like Autolog. At the time of writing, Driveclub is still engaged in a "one in, one out" system regarding access to its servers. As you'll see in the video, connectivity was limited. And by limited I mean laughably non-existent.
First Contact is a series all about first impressions. The ones I had of Driveclub were a mixed bag, to be sure. It wasn't all bad (though my driving, as you'll see, certainly was). It looks fantastic. So good, in fact, that when you start up the game you might well crash terribly in your first race on account of enjoying the view. I speak from experience. The handling is geared more towards the arcade end of the spectrum than sims, but that's okay, and the little objective challenges for each race are a nice way of encouraging replayability.Click here to read more...
Chances are, you're either a big fan of the Dark Souls series or you just can't be doing with their brand of no-nonsense difficulty and downright unresponsive controls.
Me? I'm not a fan and haven't been since I played the original Demon's Souls. So why am I the one talking to you about Bloodborne, a game by the same devs and seen as a potential killer exclusive on the PS4 for fans of From Software’s series? Well, after trying out the recent Alpha, I'm thinking maybe Bloodborne will be worth a look after all and those of you that aren't fans of the Souls games probably shouldn't dismiss it so soon.
Is it still hard? Of course, and the checkpoints (or lack of them in the Alpha) will certainly make your eyes water a little and I'm sure there will be plenty of difficulty settings to nail that feel of trapping your junk in your zip, or stubbing your toe for hours on end or what other kink that makes you keep playing these bastards.
So, let's dive into the Alpha demo. First of all you're given the option of four different characters with four varying weapon loadouts. The first is the one you may have seen in past footage with a blunderbuss gun and a saw cleaver, this was the first one I tried. The second was armed with a pistol and a sword that could split into two blades at the touch of a button.Click here to read more...