Game Review: Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (PS4)

By Adam Ouakli (@AdamOuakli)

Being a 90’s kid, if I were to list the top 3 things that I wanted in life to satisfy my need for nostalgia from a bygone era, it would look a little something like this:

1) Pokemon being real

2) Oasis reforming

3) Crash Bandicoot re-mastered

With number 1 probably being a more realistic expectation that number 2, it’s safe to rule them both out. That leaves us with number 3 on my list: Crash Bandicoot practically raised me. Since I got my first PlayStation at the age of 5, I’ve been playing the orange marsupial’s games – hell, I even used to have dreams that I was scaling the Native Fortress as a kid. It’s a game that, for me, has stood the test of time, a classic that will go down in history as one of the best trilogies every produced.

So it’s safe to say that the recent remastering of these three games, aptly titled the N.Sane Trilogy, was a very much anticipated event in the gaming sphere. They’ve had a total HD makeover and it truly shows: starting from the beginning, washing up on N. Sanity Beach again after all these years was special. I didn’t move forward in the level, I just sat for a few minutes taking it all in. It was beautiful. It is how I always dreamed a re-master of the game would look like – full of vibrant colours, amazing visuals, animations and detail like a modern cartoon and it blew me away.

Advancing in the level I noticed that even though the music has a fresher, clearer sound, it is still the basic original sound we know and love. The animations look and feel just like they should and Aku Aku, well, his “Wooga booga” had me emotional. The sound of breaking boxes, of collecting Wumpa Fruit, of jumping on a tortoise – everything is pretty much perfect. Naughty Dog who originally developed the Crash Bandicoot games in the 90s were not involved in making the re-masters, leaving the task to Vicarious Visions to bring Crash Bandicoot back into our lives, and they’ve done the originals and Naughty Dog proud.

All three games play very much like they used to as it’s a re-master not a re-haul. Personally I think this is how it should be; if too much was changed it wouldn’t feel like a proper Crash game. So far I’ve played through an awful lot of all three games and I’m absolutely loving it. I have seen countless people on social media complaining about how hard the game is, which confuses me a little. Yes, the game is tricky at times (Don’t get me started on levels like ‘Road to Nowhere’ and ‘The High Road’) but the majority of games out there will have tricky parts in them. If a game isn’t challenging it gets pretty boring pretty fast. I even read one review where the critic wrote that “the 3D throws off your depth perception” and that “the colourful designs on levels like ‘Hang ‘em High’ trick you into thinking there’s space to land on trampolines when there isn’t.” These are pretty petty complaints: the only substantial one that holds any real weight is the change in physics for Crash 1 which makes certain levels a bit more difficult than they should be.

Nine times out of ten, though, the game requires some precision and timing – when you don’t succeed at landing jumps, that’s not the game’s fault. Having completed these games before I was 10 years old, in addition to the fact that not much of the gameplay has changed from its original release, it’s odd for people to compare this to Dark Souls in terms of difficulty. Some people are either just bad at the game or have forgotten that there are several tricky levels and have lost a lot of patience now that they’re older. There have been some comments calling the game ‘monotonous’ and ‘only good for nostalgia’: well pal, if you think the game is boring then why did you buy a re-mastered version of the very same game? The games are extremely refreshing even two decades after their initial release which says a lot.

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Despite the fact that a lot has remained very similar to originals, there are a few changes that are mostly welcomed. As well as a refined saving system, something that the original Crash game was sorely missing, and online leader-boards, players are now given the chance to play as our titular hero’s laptop wielding sister Coco. While she plays exactly like her big brother, it’s a nice addition which helps the trilogy to feel like you’re playing a more improved version of the game you played years and years ago.

One thing that must be said about this trilogy is that if you’re buying it solely for that nostalgia factor, you’ll be more than stuffed. However, newcomers may feel like these feelings for a bygone genre will wear off quickly, leaving them £35 lighter and with no real urge to fully complete the games. They’re arguably limited in content though with the time trials and gems, some of which are attached with some challenges, but others may feel like the campaigns are too short: altogether I’d say it only took a few days to complete all three titles. As I’ve mentioned though, this is only an issue for those who don’t intend on getting all they can out of this game: for those that do and want to get 100% (or more *hint* *hint*) then there’s more than enough to get your money’s worth.

Overall, this trilogy has next to no shortcomings, at least ones that didn’t also come along back with the games during their original release. Criticisms regarding clipping and such are overblown considering how rare an occurrence of this could be with the only real negative these games bring being the controls being not quite as fine tuned or polished as the beautiful visuals and sound design. Every minute of these three games I’ve enjoyed thoroughly and while they aren’t perfect, enough has been done to recreate these games as perfectly as possible.

The only other criticism I have: I’m now left with the urge for a remastering of Crash Team Racing. Please Vicarious Visions, do this and I can die a happy, happy man.

8/10


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Is Crash Bandicoot Really That Difficult?

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr

We may be a little while away from actual time travel but this past Friday, we got the next best thing. After nearly a decade without gaming’s favourite orange spinning marsupial, Vicarious Visions released a HD Remake of the original Naughty Dog developed Crash Bandicoot trilogy – not to spoil our review that’ll be dropping in the next few days but it’s a faithful recreation that manages to instil a great sense of joy and nostalgia, even to those who haven’t previously played the quintessential PS1 titles.

However, we’re not here to chat about how much we’ve enjoyed the comeback of Crash, Coco and co. No, instead we’re here to chat about a specific story that seems to have been gaining a lot of traction over the past few days regarding the challenge the game offers. Here’s a few tweets to paint the picture: 

As soon as I saw this narrative that other gamers were trying to push, I rolled my eyes faster than the wumpa fruit icon. We are living in a time of challenging games after going through a period of hand-holding, difficult to die games (that are still around sadly), such as Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Binding of Isaac and much, much more. While Crash Bandicoot has a fresh lick of paint and other new goodies attached, it’s still very much a product of its time and isn’t a game to be included amongst the aforementioned titles.

A quick history lesson for those unacquainted with consoles before the PS2: analogue sticks weren’t always a thing. It wasn’t until around a third of the way into the PS1’s lifespan that analogue control was incorporated, allowing for all titles after to benefit from a greater level of dexterity and accuracy. Sadly, this meant that most early titles such as the original Crash were at a bit of a disadvantage despite the fact they were made solely with directional buttons in mind. The game is pretty easy for the first half, with only the latter portion providing a lot of challenge, some of which came from some cheap trial and error gameplay as well as the controls just not being up to scratch.

Crash Bandicoot is back...fur realz.

Naughty Dog were aware of these issues though and when it came to the sequels, Cortex Strikes Back and Warped, the controls were improved significantly with not only the analogue sticks helping out but a new bunch of skills at your disposal. Whether intentional or not, this meant that a great deal of challenge was alleviated from the games with most difficult stages requiring just a small amount of patience to be able to beat: after all, a lot of younger players managed to beat the game 100% so it wasn’t a Goliath sized feat.

Sadly, this outrage over difficulty seems to be unaware of this and it’s hard to pinpoint why. It would be naive to assume these people aren’t good at games, considering one of those outraged has managed to beat some Soulsborne games, but it may be the case that they aren’t good at these type of games.

They may have played it when they were younger but chances are, bar these early steps in the platforming genre in their early days, they haven’t returned to similar games since. The past few generations have been heavily reliant on gritty FPS shooters and action packed third person titles, which has allowed a remake like Crash to feel so refreshing more than 2 decades after its release. With this in mind, as well as many of these gamers being adults with full time jobs and growing up around a culture of speed-running and social network connected trophy hunting, that small amount of patience required to complete the challenges these games throw at you may have disappeared entirely.

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That’s not to say there’s not any challenge to be found in these games at all: Slippery Climb is a level that stole many a life from me in my early days and the time trials that are included in all three games will have you etching the layouts for each world into your mind. However, most of the criticisms I’ve seen revolving around challenge seem to be coming from levels which are, to put it lightly, simple – ones like the very first level of Crash Bandicoot which offers very little in the way of genuine difficulty, bar maybe the split path which requires you to hop on every box in order to get a gem.

Overall, the main point of this ramble isn’t simply to say “I’m better than you”, rather to show gamers trying to find difficulty where it simply isn’t. If anything, it’s a relief to see so much discussion surrounding an era gone-by and hopefully with this remake seemingly being a success, future titles in the Crash franchise could offer more of a challenge. Regardless, if you’ve made it this far and take one thing away from this rant, it’s this: just have a little patience.


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Game Review: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

By Sanjeev Mann (@Ask_Sanjeevs )

Traversing across a field, making my way to the next zone with 40 people remaining, I knew something was going down. The circle was coming in by the second and I could hear bullets in every direction. With our group receiving an abundance of casualties, it was only myself and another teammate left to fend for ourselves. The bullets were coming closer and closer. Out of nowhere I was hit, but I had no clue where it came from. I frantically spun my camera in every direction possible and there it was, a muzzle flash from the roof of a nearby building: they were onto us.

Stuck in the open with only a corn field and a couple of trees for cover, panicking, I prone to increase health with bandages. My mate was languishing in a tree somewhere behind me barking out the directions of the bullets and laying down some suppression fire. My hands were sweating at this point, just waiting for my head to be blown off via a Kar98 sniper. It didn’t happen, but the waiting was terrifying to say the least.

This is exactly what you’ll get from the minute you land on the island of Player Unknowns Battlegrounds. Incredibly, the game is still in early access, which means it’s effectively incomplete, and is developed by the man that brought the battle royal mod for ARMA 3, Brendan Greene.

For those of you that aren’t aware, Battlegrounds is battle royale style shooter where players parachute onto a massive island with one objective: survive. Once players land, they must scavenge buildings on the island for a variety of different weapons that range from SMGs to Assault Rifles, Snipers, or even a cooking pan to swing in someone’s face!  

You also need to get a hold of bags to carry bandages, first aid, and weapon parts. The key to success is most definitely loot and, most importantly, gun attachments such as scopes and extended mags. This will make your life a whole lot easier and gives you a much needed upper hand on opponents – this set up will no doubt be familiar to those who are fans of games such as H1Z1 or PC blockbuster ARMA 3.

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Not only do you need to contend with 99 other players in solos, but also a circle which shrinks the play zone every few minutes, and being caught outside of the ‘circle’ results in receiving health damage – think Battle Royale (or its copycat Hunger Games) and you’ll get the picture. The game itself has 3 game modes: solo, duo and squads which consists of up to 4 players per team.

Now lets get down to the nitty gritty: is the game actually any good? Well to put it bluntly, it’s great! The way it makes every second as nail biting as the last is superb. No matter where you are on the map, there’s a part of you that knows an enemy could be around the corner. This is especially the case for high loot zones as a number of players will be frantically looking for loot at the beginning of every game. If you’re too late, you’ll more than likely die a miserable death after a mere few minutes after landing. The plane itself travels in a random direction in every game, which makes most landings different most games. This helps to give each game a different feel from the last. The fact that you can choose when to parachute out of plane adds to this too.

From the off you need a plan. Jumping early to a high loot zone right below the plane will see you fighting it out with plenty of other players, but the loot is more than worth the risk if you survive. You could always jump late and travel a good distance to a quieter part of the island where you’re almost guaranteed to be on your own, however the loot won’t be great and you risk being a distance from the circle when it spawns. Weapons are distributed randomly, but a decent weapon can get you so far.

Even after nearly 90 hours of gameplay, I’ve found myself in the last 10 without even firing a single bullet. Hiding from enemy players and quietly going about your business is a valid tactic for sure. Even when your steadily progressing, you always have a choice: you can stay around the edge of the force-field and wait for its next destination or you can risk it and go straight into battle. You may also find yourself stuck in a room from time to time, anxiously waiting it out, listening to every single sound around you and, dare I say it, on the floor below you! All of these various factors keeps you entertained without the feeling of repetition.

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Weapons are fun to use too, very well balanced , and you can feel a weight behind them. Also each weapon vary in rate of fire, and damage, and no 2 guns are the same.  You could go for short range guns such as the micro UZI, UMP and Shotguns to Assault rifles such as the AK or SCAR-L. Oh and don’t forgot long range guns like the Kar98 or AWM. And as said earlier each vary in damage. Damage also depends on the level of helmet equipped by the enemy. Level 1 being the weakest and level 3 being the best.

With the win percentage being so low, the hunt for victory leaves you addicted and hungry to go back. Winning a game gives you a huge satisfaction, something that is missing from so many games over the past 10 years.

The game isn’t perfect by any means: loot sometimes refuses to be picked up, annoying latency problems, and occasionally mushy textures can cause problems and prevent you from playing when in the plane or after launching out of it. Two issues which seem to have remained constant is the game not loading in time and game freezes for a small number of players. Thankfully, updates are coming out regularly which makes the £26 price tag seem worth it, especially considering most AAA publishers don’t even put this amount of effort into fixing their games’ issues. 

It’s no wonder that Battlegrounds has sold a ridiculous 4 million copies since its  release on Steam 3 months ago – breathing new life into the battle royale shooter genre, Player Unknown has provided a game that is equal parts exciting and anxiety provoking. It may not be a technically perfect game, glitches are common here, but the game does enough to alleviate any issues these might bring about. Overall, Battlegrounds can stand up proudly as an example of early access done right – a rare and valuable achievement. 

8/10


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Best And Worst of E3 2017

By Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh) + Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr

WHAT CAN ONLY BE DESCRIBED AS “CHRISTMAS FOR GAMERS”, THIS YEAR’S ELECTRONIC ENTERTAINMENT EXPO, BETTER KNOWN AS E3, TOOK PLACE IN ITS HOME OF  LA. THERE WAS A LOT OF GOOD, AND A LOT OF BAD, SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, LET’S JUMP INTO IT!

Bethesda Were…There?

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It’s hard to defend Bethesda’s conference: for every thing it did right (announcing sequels to both Wolfenstein and The Evil Within), it seemed to outdo any positives and call its own existence into question. The constant milking of Skyrim is something that’s become a bit of a joke in the gaming community and then there’s the whole mods debacle.

For those who aren’t aware, back in 2015, Bethesda announced they would be releasing mods that you would need to pay for – as you can imagine, this did not go down well at all. Their latest stab at this concept, titled Creation Club, is one that justifiably has a lot of fans worried due to charging people for content that is already free, something that has already been shown in the bloody trailer. Many gamers want creators of mods to be paid for their content but it seems somewhat scummy for a publisher to want to be the one to regulate that when there are currently programs in place (Patreon for example) that do the job better.

This on top of the fact only two games were announced that people cared about left people disappointed to say the least: worryingly, this will be a trend in this piece.

Ubisoft Swap Out Cringe for Quality

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Ubisoft have a bad track record at E3 to say the least: constantly starring in E3 cringe compilations due to their attempts to be hip and cool, most who paid attention to them were more often than not just hoping to witness their new favourite laughably bad moment. That wasn’t the case this year though as the company *sharp inhale* made an effort. Granted, some of the games, most notably Assassin’s Creed Origins, just looked uninspired or dull but I’d be lying if there weren’t some gems that had people surprised.

A Mario – Rabbids crossover influenced by the X-Com games? Colour me interested. A pirate game that takes all the best elements of AC: Black Flag, allowing you to be the captain of your own ship? Count me in, matey. Motherfucking Beyond Good and Evil II being revealed (again) after being stuck in development hell for years and years? As the cockney swearing monkey in the trailer would say, I’m fucking in, govnah! With Far Cry 5 also looking like it’ll breathe new life into a series that is slowly stagnating, Ubisoft may have just done a complete u-turn in the public opinion (I give it a week till they screw up). 

Microsoft’s Catchphrase Bingo

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Disclaimer: The Xbox conference was by no means a disaster. Showing off a heap of fun games, Microsoft may not have done enough to convert anyone hesitant about buying an Xbox One but they certainly reassured fans who were worried that their console was going through a gaming drought. Unfortunately, most of the conference had a bit of a ghost at the feat in the form of 4K raving. If you were to take a drink for every-time Phil Spencer and co. chucked a graphical bit of jargon or mention 60FPS then you would have passed out by the halfway point. Not only that but it all came off as fake, mainly due to Spencer’s own comments regarding frames per second. It left a sour taste in your mouth and lead to plenty of compilations detailing the repetitiveness of it. Better luck next year, eh?

Nintendo Is Back, Baby!

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The boys are back in town, motherfucker. Thanks for keeping the throne warm, everyone else, Nintendo will have it back now. They’ve killed it. New Metroid? Fuck it, have two. New Kirby? Right you are. New Yoshi? Step this way, sir. Fire Emblem? Check. Xenoblade Chronicles 2? Check. Rocket League? Check. Ever wondered what it would be like if Mario’s hat was sentient and could mind control literally anything? No? Fuck it. Wonder no more. We’ve done it. No fucking about from Reggie and the lads, they have won E3 after a number of lacklustre years. And lord above is it good to have them back.

Sony’s Golden Run End

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Over the past few years, Sony has reigned as king, both in a gaming sense and especially at E3. So maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a company as big as them would eventually lose momentum, showcasing games that weren’t necessarily bad but weren’t anything surprising, the only exception being a Shadow of the Colossus HD remake. While showing off game-play isn’t necessarily a bad move when showing off the things that make people want to buy your console, it was definitely underwhelming to know most of the games that had watchers salivating wouldn’t be coming out until an ambiguous date in 2018. It really says a lot about the Sony conference when people weren’t discussing what was on show, rather what wasn’t there: perhaps Gamescom will deliver some sort of Death Stranding or Last Of Us II news.


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What We Want From This Year’s E3

By Adam Ouakli (@AdamOuakli)

It’s that time of year again, gamers! Yep, E3 is just around the corner and this year, it’s open to the public. With less than a week to go until the biggest event of the year on the gaming calendar, we got thinking about what exactly we want to see at this year’s show.

The event is set to run from June 13th to June 15th but before that, we are going to be treated to press conferences from the bigger companies on the days leading up to the event. Here are the times of the presentations:

Saturday 10th June

  • EA – 8pm GMT

Sunday 11th June

  • Bethesda – 5am GMT
  • Microsoft – 10pm GMT

Monday 12th June

  • Sony – 5am GMT
  • Ubisoft – 10pm GMT

Tuesday 13th June

  • Nintendo – 5pm GMT

With that out of the way, let’s see what these gaming juggernauts are set to reveal and what we want to see them announce:

Xbox Will Show Off The 4K Scorpio

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The showpiece of the weekend will inevitably be the Xbox Scorpio. No other company is revealing a new console and although we got a sneak peek at the Scorpio at last year’s E3, we expect to learn more about specs and hopefully get a release date. Microsoft has already shown us a snippet of what the console is capable of with a very short trailer of a new Forza game (which is likely to debut) but we want to see more. We want to see what its full capabilities are and what games will be released for it in glorious 4K. Perhaps Gears of War 5? Perhaps a new Halo game or re-master, perhaps not. Fans can dream.

Sony’s Main Focus Will Be On Games

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Sony will be going into E3 this year without any new hardware to reveal. This means that their focus will be almost entirely on game releases. We are expecting a whole heap of games to get excited about. We know about some of the titles we expect to be showcased already: Spider-Man, Days Gone, Detroit: Become Human and the highly anticipated sequel to what many consider to be one of the greatest games of all time; The Last of Us. A new God of War game would be quite nice too. Hopefully, we’ll see trailers or even gameplay for most if not all of these titles.

What Games Do We Want To See

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We can expect a Destiny 2 trailer and a Call of Duty WWII trailer. Fingers crossed that Activision will have some gameplay to show us from CoD WWII. If we’re lucky we might even get a sneak peek at some multiplayer.

Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding will most likely make an appearance. We have already seen a short trailer of the game but we hope that there will be some new gameplay to show off.  After all who doesn’t want to see some more of Mads Mikkelsen and Guillermo del Toro?

Another game some of us desperately want an update on is the Final Fantasy VII remake that was announced at E3 back in 2015. It hasn’t been long since Final Fantasy XV was released but Square Enix cannot tease fans on such a matter. This is serious stuff. We want that FF7 remake and we want it now.

Some of the bigger announcements will be coming from the likes of EA, Ubisoft and (we hope) Bethesda.

EA will inevitably showcase its yearly football instalment FIFA 18. A new Need for Speed game will also most likely be showcased. EA’s most hyped unveiling will be Star Wars Battlefront 2. After a disappointing 2015 revamp of the old classic, from what we’ve seen already, the second instalment will include different generations, and, wait for it, single player. Finally. We weren’t asking for much.

Nintendo Will Have To Amp It Up This Year

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Nintendo will have to unveil a lot of exciting things this year to keep fans interested. It’s been just over 3 months since the Nintendo Switch was released, and fans are itching for new titles to be announced with a very limited line-up so far. We’re looking for new exclusive games like a new Mario game; in particular, we expect to hear more about Super Mario Odyssey. Fans of Nintendo will be hoping and praying that a new Metroid game will be unveiled. We’ll be holding our breath. We probably shouldn’t though.

E3 Disappointment For Pokémon Fans?

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Pokémon fans who are expecting a big announcement at E3 will probably be disappointed. Nintendo broadcast its yearly Pokémon Direct on Tuesday which promised a ‘big announcement’ which left fans wondering what it could be. Could it be a new game in the series for the switch? Could it be the rumoured Pokémon Stars after the release of Sun and Moon last year?

Wrong and Wrong. Two of the series’ classics, Pokemon Gold and Silver will be coming to the Virtual Console on the Nintendo 3DS store for download in September. Nostalgic? Yes. Exciting? Perhaps a little. Ground-breaking announcement? No.

We will be seeing two new Pokémon games, however. Announced along with Gold and Silver were two new additions to the 3DS: Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, featuring new story-lines and Pokémon but still set in Alola. Kind of like when Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 followed on from Black and White.

Oh yeah, Pokken Tournament is also coming to Switch. The Pokémon fighting game, until now only available in Japan, will be released on Nintendo Switch on September 22nd.

Nintendo’s presentation last year was a bit underwhelming despite showing off Zelda: Breath of the Wild so we’re hoping they do a bit better this year.

Ubisoft Will Show Off Some Big Titles

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Ubisoft could potentially steal the show this year in terms of unveiling new titles. A new Assassin’s Creed trailer or demo is expected along with a more detailed look at Far Cry 5 which looks like it could be the best Far Cry game to date. We’ve already been treated to a trailer of the new Far Cry but a better look at it and possibly some gameplay could make it one of the most exciting showcases of the weekend. Also, remember that South Park game that’s been shown off the past two years? You’d be forgiven for not due to the constant delays that The Fractured But Whole has recieved but with a firm 2017 release date, expect to see Ubisoft show a lot of gameplay off, or at least some sort of cinematic trailer. Let’s just forget that Mario-Rabbids crossover, okay?

Will Bethesda Deliver?

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From this year’s E3 I want one thing. One simple thing. I want an Elder Scrolls game. Prey is fine. Quake Champions is okay. They may announce a new Wolfenstein game, good. But what we all want is another Elder Scrolls game. Please, Bethesda?


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Game Review: Friday The 13th (2017)

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

A heavy sense of dread filled every inch of my body. As I stood still in the room, haunting and chilling sounds echoed around, the sheer darkness engulfing the screen making everything far more fearful than I had anticipated. With one foul swoop, my misery was brought to an end after minutes of excruciating waiting, Jason’s face adorned on the screen.

Sadly, this wasn’t genuine gameplay from IllFonic’s Friday The 13th Game, rather the main menu that anyone unfortunate enough to play a game at launch was forced to endure for hours on end. The Kickstarter-funded project is one that has been eagerly anticipated by many with the infamous horror icon Jason Voorhees being part of gaming since the old NES days. Now, with updated graphics and such, a passionate team could finally make a solid Crystal Lake simulator that would be fun for both the masked killer and the teens unlucky enough to come across him. 

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Unfortunately, the end product feels more like a half-baked game than one worth the £30 it’s asking for. The first thing players will notice, that is if they can still get past the server issues that plague the game more than a week after launch, is just how off the game looks. Obviously, no one is expecting a beautiful game considering the game’s budget, £1 million is nothing compared to most AAA games that cost 100 times that, but it’s no excuse for how awful some of the characters look.

A notable one has to be Chad Kensington, one of the few characters that you’ll remember due to how laughably bad his animation is during the intro, his jaw wide open like he’s just discovered the slam tent at T In The Park. When a game is trying its very best to be a scary experience, it seems detrimental for the plastic models to take you out of the moment.

Graphics don’t make a game, though, so it’s worth inspecting the gameplay of Friday The 13th, one area where both the game’s best and worst elements lie. As you may expect, you get to jump into the sludgy, swamp water filled boots of Jason and take on the role to kill all the counsellors in a set amount of time.

The asymmetrical nature is one that should offer a fair amount of challenge while also making things fair though this isn’t usually the result. More often than not, counsellors will find themselves glitching onto trees or other objects (God knows why they didn’t include a jump button to help with traversal) while running away from Jason who, without a moment’s notice, can zoom right next to you and choke you to death or some other visceral way. While these moves are just as cheesy as they are gruesome, finding yourself cheated by the game makes it more enraging than it does entertaining.

Speaking of Jason though, IllFonic have done a good job in making a simulator of sorts. Your abilities don’t feel slapped on for the game’s sake, rather tieing in well with the subject matter, much like the aforementioned zoom mechanic which explains why the horror villain so often pops up everywhere both in game and film.

The most fun moments occur when Jason and the counsellors meet, usually with the latter stuck in a cabin while Jason waits eagerly outside. With headphones on, the chilling music and wonderful sound design applied to Jason’s movement and actions do evoke a great sense of dread that leave you wishing the game would do this regularly.

 

Sadly, you’ll find yourself rummaging through drawers more than you will running for your life which becomes rather monetonous. On top of this is just how downright buggy the game is: doors sometimes don’t close, windows often dissapear and perks nine times out of ten don’t work, making all those CP (the game’s currency) you spent pretty much worthless. One glitch occured during a game between friends where one player, after exiting a tent, ended up floating in the air and onto the huge house beside before twerking on top of it, leaving the Jason in the game frustrated. While it was hilarious, being on the receiving end isn’t and with the price being rather steep, it’s no wonder many are angry that they’re getting a game that isn’t complete.

On top of that, many have complained of Jason being overpowered and with games lasting up to 20 minutes, having to watch other players hide for 10 minutes in a cupboard never gets any less dull, something that could be negated with games being shorter, forcing players to hurry up with their escape plan while encouraging Jason to do his job more efficiently.

It wouldn’t be fair to say there’s been no effort put into Friday The 13th, rather the team have tried various things with mixed results rather than focusing on a few and getting them bang on. While it’s more out of necessity than choice, a private game with you and seven of your friends is undeniably fun if you make sure to focus on having a laugh than genuine horror but that would only really pass if the game were free. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and as it stands, Friday The 13th is a confused mess that’s few glimmers of real, scary fun can’t help to iron out its flaws.

4/10


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Best And Worst Of E3 2016

What can only be described as “Christmas for gamers”, this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, took place in its home of LA. While leaks were abundant before and even during the event, nearly every conference managed to surprise the audience in attendance and so, here are the high and low points of the event.

Crash is back!

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You may remember in a piece that I done on my fond memories with the Playstation about my love of Naughty Dog’s fuzzy orange platformer series Crash Bandicoot, a franchise that many to this day claim is one of the best they’ve played due to how god damn fun it is. After having its name tarnished by other companies via multiple meh follow ups, we now have Sony and Activision working together to remake the original trilogy all from the ground up: that means all the levels that you grew up with in stunning 1080p! This was immediately followed up with the announcement that Crash would be featuring in Skylanders which was applauded by…two people.

EA Play It Too Safe

It’s a pretty ballsy move to host your own event the same weekend as E3 so props to EA for having the confidence to do so. However, they did not have nearly enough to justify doing so as we had another conference dominated by sports games, very little new info about Mass Effect Andromeda and Star Wars details that were limited to “yes this exists” and little else. There were also an abundance of celebrities having a large multiplayer live stream and about two of them seemed happy to be there, way to get people excited about your game, and if it weren’t for Battlefield One’s presence then EA’s conference would have been outright bad, not Konami 2010 bad but bad nonetheless.

Colossal Showing

Last year Sony were praised for their power of resurrection as they showed off Team Ico’s The Last Guardian, a game that for years suffered delay after delay and many assumed was gone for good. They followed it up this year by not only giving us a beautiful and endearing trailer but a release date! Yes! It’s happening people! Everybody stay fucking calm! The fact that we have had to wait so many years for Sony to announce that the game is only four months away from release was a wise move indeed and could have very well clinched them the title of best conference of E3 in the eyes of many.

Worst. Commentary. Ever.

Ubisoft have a bad rep for making their games seem unusually “too good to be true” with Watch Dogs being a class example of this. Much like what happened last year with Rainbow Six Siege, the new Ghost Recon entry Wildlands was accompanied by an offensively fake commentary that was borderline laughable at points. While the actual game looks solid, I wouldn’t blame the majority of people who have seen the gameplay to have it on mute for its duration.

Microsoft Go In Hard…

Xbox One E3 2016

With Microsoft and Sony losing out on the E3 Crown last year due to newcomers Bethesda blowing them away, both went in knowing that they had to put on a great show to leave gamers ecstatic. First up was Microsoft and they hit out with some pretty big announcements: You want a new Xbox One model? Here, have one and here’s another more powerful one on its way? Want a follow up to a beloved franchise? Here, have Forza Horizon 3 and Dead Rising 4. While it’s not their best conference ever, Microsoft managed to put on a pretty solid event. However…

But Stumble At The Last Hurdle

The conference didn’t go without a few flat notes. Recore, a game that has amassed a fair amount of hype, did little to justify it, showing off a trailer with little gameplay and not much else to get excited about. There were also moments that felt unnecessary like the grand reveal of The Division DLC which would have been better spent on a new IP or really anything else that wasn’t The Division. While it all sounds a bit nit picky, it was a few things like this that stopped the conference from being a true winner.

Sony Steal The Show

Call me bias all you want but Sony put on one hell of a show! Where to start? How about Days Gone, a game that seems to blend the huge zombie crowds of Dead Rising, the heart and emotional impact of The Last Of Us as well as some badass biker gameplay a la Sons Of Anarchy. How about the new God Of War entry that will delve into Norse mythology as well giving a typically stern, rage fueled charter like Kratos a bit of depth by teaming up with his son? Then there’s the tease at the new Playstation exclusive Kojima game that looks just as weird as you might think, a PS4 exclusive Spiderman game by the creators of Ratchet and Clank as well as showing off Resident Evil 7 in VR which is giving off those PT vibes big time. The only gripe I can think of is the VR aspect though little time was spent on it so again, it’s just a nitpick. If there’s ever been a better time to buy a PS4, it’s now.

-Liam Menzies 

Blinded by Nostalgia?

Our relationship with games is at risk: is too much of a good thing really that bad?

Back in October I wrote a commemorative piece on Playstation, Sony’s flagship console that was, for many, their first gaming experience. There was the bombardment of platformers where Crash and Spyro were the kings of their genre as well as likes of Lara Croft and Cloud etching themselves into our fond memories.

However, it wasn’t until I read this one comment on a survey I made to get your feedback that something clicked.

Ratchet and Clank. Honestly, so many childhood memories from that trilogy. Yes, trilogy, there were no more after the first three.

Now, before you verbally assault me, I have no problem with the Ratchet and Clank series (in fact its one of my favourite PS2 series) but seeing the “there was no more after the first three” made me worry about nostalgia in gaming.

It’s not surprising that many of us look back at these games fondly. After all, many of our childhood memories are about these games, whether it be 100% completing your favourite adventure game or winning the league title with Liverpool on PES. However, this way of thinking that old = good and modern = bad is doing more harm that you’d realise.

This is for two reasons, the first being that not all old games are actually that good. Some of the worst games of all time happen to be from consoles PS2 prior and whilst some games nowadays like Battlefront infuriate gamers with their robbing tactics, I think I can speak for everyone that gaming as a whole would like to forget certain abominations: ET (which caused the gaming industry crash of ’83), Bubsy 3D, The Simpsons Wrestling.

Secondly, some of the best games of all time have been some of the most recent ones. Take for instance Mass Effect 2, a game that gives Star Wars a run for its money with its epic and interesting lore, amazing story and characters that you feel something for. Then there’s Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Portal, Bioshock, the Batman Arkham series. As much as people criticise new games, there’s no denying they’re true testaments to how far gaming has came.

I’m not saying anyone’s in the wrong here at all. The moral of this brief rant is simple: take off the rose tinted glasses, you might stumble upon a new favourite.

Big love, Liam x

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First week with Fallout 4: A Sorta Review

Foolishly enough, I was planning on reviewing Fallout 4 for some point this week. Obviously not the full game but I hoped to have at least finished the main campaign. Over 20 hours in and I’ve not even scraped the surface of Bethesda’s massive and weirdly beautiful post apocalyptic world so instead of trying to give a review that I can’t justify writing without finishing the game, I’m gonna give my opinions in the style of a diary. Though instead of feelings and stories about lassies you find attractive, it’ll be leaning more towards running for your life away from colossal mutant creatures (so not too different from the bullies you faced at school). Without further ado, here we go.

Day 1

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Unashamedly, I spent far too much time customising my character but then again I did the same in Skyrim. While I made my character look dashingly handsome and roguish, a thought popped into my head: does my wife’s appearance permanently have that default look. Sure enough, after a few”enhancements” to her cheeks and lips as well as turning that forehead into a fivehead, I created arguably the most vile looking creature to ever grace the planet. Well, second if you include Donald Trump.

After that came the tutorial itself, where I got to choose my abilities by answering the door and being able to have the robot Codsworth say “Liam” which caused me to shit myself a little bit. To avoid any spoilers (though if you haven’t picked up Fallout 4 yet then I pity you), me and my family, consisting of my aforementioned Donald Trump wife and son Shaun ended up in Vault 111 and unsurprisingly things went to shit. I escaped my underground hell to make my way to the surface and immediately got blinded by the sunset. Wonder if they have any Ibuprofen in the wasteland?

Day 2

Making my way down town, sprinting fast, mutants pass, now I’m crippled. Thankfully this wasn’t my first taste of death as I met Dogmeat just a few minutes earlier, minding his own business before a pack of mutated mole rats attacked. I blame Ron Stoppable.

Dogmeat managed to take on quite a few by himself and the new combat system made easy pickings of the rest with the first person shooting being far more accurate than previous iterations but still strategic enough to not be a direct copy of COD.

“Finally, an AI character who ISN’T a hindrance” I thought to myself. This, of course, was before I faced my first Deathclaw (think the Xenomorphs from Alien but far bigger and nightmare inducing) where, for some reason, Dogmeat blocked me into a corner. Then the Deathclaw made easy work of my jumpsuit and tore me to pieces. Man’s best friend my arse.

Day 3

The thing about Fallout that appeals to me is the world. I can’t think of any other game with the same amount of character than Bethesda’s rendition of a post nuclear America with the mid 1900’s aesthetic abundant wherever you go, giving off a chilling, eerie vibe. As well as this, the world is so full of stuff to do that there’s no way you’ll simply go from point A to point B without stopping by a few dozen places. This is what happened on my way to save a settlement that had been attacked countless times by raiders where I found a lone settler having troubles with this dam looking contraption.At first I thought it would be a simple “find the plugs under water, turn them off” which led me to get radiated to fuck which dramatically reduces your health until you find radaway.2884112-fallout4_e3_cityvista_1434323956

Thinking the end was over, I walked up to the settler to get my reward as he stared blankly into my eyes, showing off how terrible the characters in this game even on the current gen consoles. Oh, and then a mutated pack of crabs called Mirelurks cut my head off. And Dogmeat just stared at my lifeless body. Fuck you Dogmeat.

Day 4

Spent the whole day running away from Dogmeat, hoping he’d realise how raging I was with him. He followed me before I fell off a cliff and crippled my legs, a fall that should have killed me instantly. Think it was the game’s intention as Dogmeat “playfully barked”. Again, fuck you Dogmeat.

Day 5

Fallout 4 not only polishes any gripes that I had with Fallout 3 and New Vegas but it also adds some new mechanics of its own. Settlement building is one of these new gameplay elements where all junk both in your inventory and the surrounding area can be used to make your own town.

Sounds addictive right? You’re not wrong at all, in fact the crafting system in this game is almost as addictive as the quest themselves as I’ve spent more time than I’m proud to admit making a defence tower for Sanctuary. Not only is it fun but it makes my urge to loot and carry everything in sight actually beneficial, making me feel good about my hoarding problem for once. This time Dogmeat didn’t lead to my demise, instead proving useful by finding useful materials and not being a pain in the arse. He’s since been forgiven and a doghouse has been built to repay him for the good deed of not killing me.

Day 6

Need to find materials. Need to add another turret to the tower. Need to craft stronger power armour so I can be the human embodiment of the Batmobile. It’s 2am but I NEED TO DO EVERYTHING.

Day 7

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Fallout 4 has been out for a week now and I still can’t get over how full of things to do it is. I’ve explored a 1/4 of the map and although many people have complained about the size of the world being smaller than other games like Just Cause’s Panama, the level of detail and the amount of fun I’ve had is something that I haven’t experienced since Batman Arkham City. The story is engaging, the gameplay has been vastly improved and although Fallout 4 has adapted to fit into the current standard of games, it never loses any of the series charm. It’s still funny, it’s still horrifying, it’s still jaw droppingly beautiful despite looking like a 360 game.

Fallout 4 might not be the best looking game ever or the biggest. It’s got glitches and bugs. It can be infuriating at times. But it’s Fallout and its charm and quality outweigh any technical problems. Game of the year? It very well could be.

Big love, Liam x

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Life Is Strange: Game of The Year?

2015 has been full of blockbuster games like Call of Duty. So how did a game featuring two teenage girls manage to steal the Best of 2015 crown?

I knew you were important the moment I saw your first selfie,” says a familiar yet mysterious voice as soon as Life Is Strange’s finale boots up, a line that, out of context, sounds tacky but when the previous four episodes of this episodic extravaganza are taken into consideration, it’s enough to send a chill down your spine.

Life Is Strange is undisputed brilliance

Unlike most games in the adventure genre, LIS has more in common with Telltale’s The Walking Dead than the likes of Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry as you solve puzzles, interact with different characters as you try and make sense of what the hell is happening. This makes protagonist Max all the more relatable as she is equally clueless, trying to cope with the challenges that face every teenager like making friends and being successful. Oh, and time manipulating powers. Almost forgot that.

This isn’t Back To The Future-esque time traveling where you’ll go back to different eras like World War 2 or the 60’s. Instead, the player has the ability to rewind time to help tackle problems and erase mistakes, by minutes rather than millennia. The function works so seamlessly with what’s going on around you in Arcadia Bay that it never feels like a gimmick.

Your curiosity is often accompanied by a niggling feeling that something around the corner is going to bring your journey to a swift end.

Weirdly enough though, Moris says that this isn’t the most talked about thing in regards to Life Is Strange. Talking about the backlash from the game following two female protagonists, he said “I think a lot of the thinking that happens in the industry right now is still based on cliché that was inherited from the 90′s, where only 15 year old boys who wanted hyper sexualised female characters or to be bad asses and those big guys going into war played games.

Publishers think it’s not going to work because it has a female character, so they wont invest into the marketing of this game. Then it doesn’t work – because there is no marketing – but the blame lands on the game having a female lead character, and the cycle goes on and on and on.”

Not only are the characters great but also the story that spans over the five episodes never gets boring or predictable. The main plot of the game concerns the disappearance of Chloe’s friend Rachel and as the game progresses, it starts to become more twisted and dark. At points your curiosity is often accompanied by a niggling feeling that something around the corner is going to bring your journey to a swift end.

Life Is Strange is undisputed brilliance and a strong contender for game of the year. The dark and emotional story, perfectly suited soundtrack, the entertaining cast of characters and the beautifully crafted world of Arcadia Bay left such an impact on me that it was a shame to have to leave it and with a season 2 recently being confirmed, I just hope more focus will be put on this interesting setting town full of corruption and bleakness.

To read my full article, click Life Is Strange final copy!