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LEGO Jurassic World Review

The LEGO series has brought us a wide range of enjoyable games that include standalone titles but also films that have been adapted into LEGO form. The latest film to get an adaptation is Jurassic World. Does LEGO Jurassic World live up to some of the top games in the series? Let’s find out.

The plot of the game takes a trip through the four Jurassic films. In true spirit of the LEGO games, LEGO Jurassic World takes the most iconic scenes from the four films, recreates them in LEGO and then adds a bit of a humorous twist to the proceedings. It’s all rather fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some alterations have been made to the scenes to make them more family friendly with the signature LEGO charm; it works really well and is enough to cause the player to snigger here and there. The Jurassic World part of the campaign does have some spoilers within so if you are yet to see the film, best hold off from playing this part of the campaign until you have done so.

Gameplay wise, LEGO Jurassic World features similar gameplay featured in previous games from the franchise. It involves a significant amount of brick breaking, coin collecting and interacting with the environment. LEGO Jurassic World features quite a bit of basic puzzle solving by utilising the various characters’ skills or special abilities. They aren’t amazing abilities but they suit each character’s role within the universe.

Each of the films is split into about five levels, allowing players to quickly make their way through some of the more exciting moments from each film. From evading the T-Rex in a jeep to sneaking around the pair of Velociraptors in the kitchen, it’s really quite enjoyable to relive these moments in LEGO form.

There isn’t as much combat in LEGO Jurassic World as there is in other LEGO games and this makes sense simply because all of the films pretty much focus on the characters running away from the dinosaurs. However, there are some sections that do feature combat and these are executed nicely with a great deal of style. They really are some of the more entertaining parts of the game and break up the somewhat tedious sections. However, not all of them are fantastic escapes from the puzzle solving. From the levels for the second film, the Compsognathus or Compy rears its ugly head. These little critters are just as annoying as in the films in that they are quick and once a pack of them swarm you, it’s over. They have a knack for dropping your health really quickly, requiring the player to really focus when encountering them. It’s a bit of a cheap move, especially when there seems to be an infinite of them and stopping them spawning requires a little trial and error.

Additionally, it’s very much like previous LEGO games. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it’s really easy to pick up and play, it’s a bad thing because not much has changed since and it just feels like more of the same.

What I also found a little weird was that while both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World were available to be played after the prologue, The Lost World and Jurassic Park III could only be played after completing the preceding film’s adaptation.

Visually, the films have been adapted well and are quite pleasurable to look at. However, the game does seem to suffer from the odd graphical glitch.

The audio part of the game is on par with the visuals. Voice clips have been used from the first three films and enhance the experience. In addition, hearing the Jurassic Park theme is a nostalgic trip in itself.

Conclusion:
LEGO Jurassic World has its fair share of issues but is a treat for any fan of the Jurassic films. It takes what made the films great and adds in that signature LEGO charm to make it really unique. While it does feature some unfortunate Compy encounters and feels like more of the same, LEGO Jurassic World is still an entertaining experience including fun puzzles, great storytelling and thoroughly enjoyable combat sections.

The Breakdown:
Story: 8/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Lasting appeal: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 8/10

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PlayStation 4 Reviews

God of War 3 Remastered Review

God of War 3 was one of the top games on the PlayStation 3. It did a good job of ending off the trilogy, had great gameplay and gave us some memorable moments. God of War 3 Remastered has been released recently and delivers an enjoyable upgraded version of the PS3 classic.

God of War 3’s story picks up right where the previous game ended. Kratos, the former God of War, leads the Titans in a most epic charge on Mount Olympus where he hopes to kill Zeus, the most powerful of the gods, for his betrayal of Kratos during the events of God of War 2. From start to finish, the story plays out rather nicely but doesn’t really have any standout moments or twists in the plot. This is, however, until it progresses close to the end of the game; at which point it ends rather aptly and is somewhat moving. The only problem with the story I had is that it’s a continuation from a previous game and does not do enough in catching up newcomers.

The recurring characters from the series help the story move along nicely and also make for some amazing setpieces.

In terms of gameplay, God of War 3 Remastered stays true to form and features some truly well-crafted mechanics. Kratos is like a machine of death and controlling him couldn’t be easier. Platforming, puzzle solving and combat is the name of the game and is done so rather well.

Combat is quite enjoyable and is easy to pick up and play. Kratos has both light and heavy attacks and chaining these two attacks together can have devastating results. As the game progresses and Kratos dispatches enemies, he earns Red Orbs. These orbs can be channelled into his various weapons to unlock more deadly attacks and also to upgrade the amount of damage dealt. The gameplay mechanics haven’t really been tweaked in any way since the original God of War 3 was released, however, this makes sense as it’s never really had any issues.

The Gameplay features over-the-top action, somewhat violent methods of puzzle solving and some awesome bits of gameplay featuring QTE’s (Quick Time Events). The latter has always been a staple throughout the series and God of War 3 is no different. These are prevalent in some of the larger setpieces but are also optional when an enemy is primed for the finishing blow. It usually results in a gory kill which may also yield Health or Magic orbs.

Kratos can also upgrade his health and magic bars by finding sets of items such as Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers.

In addition to Kratos’s Blades of Exile, he comes into possession of a number of different weapons and items throughout the game.

While the variously godly items are quite useful for both combat and puzzle solving, I felt as though the weapons that he obtains were only really useful for puzzle solving. Unfortunately they behave too similarly to the Blades of Exile to actually warrant being called different weapons. It’s a little unfortunate because you’d expect the final chapter in a trilogy to have some badass weapons that behave differently to that of your default blades. Each weapon does have its own magic attack, however, which is a plus.

Aside from the main game, God of War 3 Remastered includes all previously released DLC for the game including some challenge modes which may make some players pull out their hair in frustration but offer a decent distraction. Additionally, the game includes a Photo Mode so you can catch Kratos in some awesome positions during play.

Visually, God of War 3 Remastered looks amazing. When it was originally released on the PlayStation 3 in 2010, the game looked incredible and is still one of the best looking games on the system. Everything looks so much better; lighting and shadows have been improved and Kratos looks more defined, from his armour to his signature weapons. It also displays an astounding sense of scale, especially so when traversing Cronos or Gaia as their bodies are so gigantic that it functions as an actual area or level.

The game runs at a solid 60fps, making gory kills and QTE’s look near poetic. It’ isn’t really locked to 60fps but it never dropped in such a way that was noticeable.

The quality of the audio is very much on the same level as the game’s visuals. God of War 3 Remastered features stellar voice acting and the soundtrack is one that delivers a feeling of being on an epic quest, rather fitting for a game such as this.

Conclusion:
God of War 3 Remastered is a great game and a decent remaster. Both the story and gameplay are thoroughly enjoyable and the updated visuals are a feast for the eyes. Unfortunately, it does fall short where weapons are concerned as they are overly similar to Kratos’s default Blade of Exile. In addition, it caters to players who are familiar with the events of the preceding titles. This makes it somewhat difficult to recommend to newcomers.

The Breakdown:
Story: 8.5/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Lasting appeal: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 9/10

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PlayStation 4 Reviews

Until Dawn Review – Bone-Chilling

The latest survival-horror title, which has been developed by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, Until Dawn has finally been released upon the world… and to be honest, it’s pretty freaking bone-chilling.

The game itself follows a group of eight cliche teens who find themselves trapped on a remote mountain retreat. At first, the group of teens shrug off their predicament and opt to engage in various, how can I say, adult orientated activities until they finally realise that they are in real jeopardy when a crazy person starts hunting them down one by one.

To add to their predicament, the group find themselves uncovering the mystery of the disappearance of their two friends, who went missing at the exact same mountain retreat, a year prior. While Until Dawn definitely nails its storyline on the head, the horror gets even more extreme once a few supernatural elements get throw in.

Overall, when it comes to story, Until Dawn is an action packed thrill ride that will leave your heart pumping and your pulse racing, that’s if you like horror that is. While the game features an all-star cast, it’s gameplay mechanics tend to steal the lead role. Until Dawn falls into the same line of titles like Heavy Rain, Life Is Strange and Beyond: Two Souls. These titles forced players to choose from a selection of in-game decisions, which ultimately affected the overall outcome of the storyline. This often results in different players receiving different endings at the end of a game, depending on how they played it. While Heavy Rain did this rather well, Until Dawn kicks things up a notch by introducing the Butterfly Effect gameplay mechanic.

The new mechanic essentially changes the outcome of certain events depending on a players choice. Until Dawn essentially only gives the player two choices to choose from. For example, run to the left and try to escape that way, or run to the right and try and hide. Do you open up a hatch and have your neck snapped… or do you proceed by avoiding the hatch and rejoining your group? There are many choices to make in Until Dawn, and while they start off easy enough, they become much darker the further you progress.

As you may know by now, you can either save everyone in the group… or ultimately kill everyone. This is what makes Until Dawn so riveting to play… your decisions determine the outcome of the game. While I was a bit skeptical that the Butterfly Effect gameplay mechanic was more of a gimmick, it seems as though Supermassive Games has actually pulled it off rather well.

Until Dawn also features a vast amount of Quick Time Events; however, it also lets the player take control of each and every character in order to explore its deep, dark, and sinister world. Speaking of a deep, dark, and sinister world… Until Dawn is a breathtakingly beautiful game. Every thing from cable car ride up to the retreat to the visually striking snow filled forest has been designed with great attention to detail. Even the character models have had quite a fair amount of work put into their facial expressions, clothing, and even the way that they walk.

While the character models and set pieces are great… just be warned, that even though this game has an A-class list of celebrities playing each character, the acting is slightly under-par. Granted, the acting suits the theme of the game… you know the theme where a bunch of teenagers set out to drink, have sex and play the fool, but eventually get the hell murdered out them theme (yes that is the best way I could describe it). This means that even though the acting is sub-par, it still gels rather well with what Until Dawn sets out to do, which is scare the pants off of anyone who plays it. Even the musical score is out to get your belt buckle loosened.

Conclusion:
Until Dawn is a great title. It will hands down scare the pants off of anyone who plays it, which is what it sets out to do, and ultimately does so well. While the voice acting is under-par, it still manages to stick to the theme of the game. Overall, Until Dawn is a visually striking, must play title with a great, even though it gets a bit sidetracked, storyline.

The Breakdown:
Storyline: 8.5/10
Graphics: 8.5/10
Gameplay: 8.5/10
Lasting appeal: 9.5/10

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review

The Metal Gear series is one that has picked up quite a following since its inception. The series spanned a period of nearly 30 years and has just gone from strength to strength. After much anticipation, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has been released and looks to finish what Ground Zeroes started.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain takes place after the events of Ground Zeroes and once again, players will assume the role of Big Boss or as he is nicknamed in the events in this game, Punished “Venom” Snake. The Phantom Pain takes place approximately 9 years after the events from Ground Zeroes. Big Boss has just awoken from a 9 year coma and is not in the best shape. Weak and missing his left arm, Big Boss escapes certain death when the hospital he is lying in is suddenly attacked by a group that wants him dead.

During the escape, he meets up with Revolver Ocelot, who aids him in getting to safety and is working with a new mercenary group called Diamond Dogs. Diamond Dogs was created by Boss’s old partner from their previous group MSF. As the game progresses, Big Boss uncovers more clues about the group on which he and Diamond Dogs would like to exact revenge. He also discovers that the group, Cipher, has some secret plans that he will need to put an end to.

The story is crafted nicely and provides adequate motivation for players to undertake various missions for Diamond Dogs. However, unlike previous games in the series, The Phantom Pain’s storyline contains fewer scripted memorable moments. The prologue to the game was an excellent introduction and possibly even overshadows the story that follows. It’s a little unfortunate as the series has always been about telling a story with a few twists. The characters handle carry what story there is rather well, however, and there’s quite a fair share of them.

In terms of gameplay, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain can be a little overwhelming once the mechanics are explained to you and you are given this massive open world to explore. Once you get the hang of it, however, it makes the gameplay just so much more enjoyable.

The game will take players to various locations around the world, namely Afghanistan and Africa. Each location has a slur of missions and side ops that can be played through and these yield GMP, which is the game’s currency, and other materials used for development of new items and upgrades. The locations also have multiple areas littered with enemies, resources and ammo.

While it is primarily a game about being stealthy, The Phantom Pain lets you take the approach that you prefer to use. You may start a mission off stealthily but then decide to go loud halfway through; the best part being that it doesn’t punish you as much as other stealth games do. The game features a day and night cycle which can either aid or hamper your sneaking and guard shifts change regularly, leaving a gap for Big Boss to exploit. If someone spots you as you’re sneaking through an outpost, a brief slow motion sequence called “Reflex Mode” activates, giving you the opportunity to silently take out the enemy who spotted you in order to prevent a full combat alert. It’s a really nice touch and makes for some exciting moments. The choices made and tense moments of nearly getting caught make for some memorable instances that the campaign somewhat fails to deliver at times.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain offers incentive to not kill every enemy you come across, however, as every enemy you find can be added as staff to Mother Base, the HQ of Diamond Dogs. Players are able to play the main game without ever dabbling in the managing of Mother Base, but this can come at a serious disadvantage. Very early in the game, the Fulton Recovery System is introduced to Big Boss and this is where things become very interesting. Big Boss is able to recruit enemies to the Diamond Dogs cause by force; this is done by simply knocking them out or putting them to sleep with a tranquiliser dart. Once the enemy is out, Boss can attach the Fulton balloon to the target and it is collected by an aircraft which takes them back to Mother Base where Ocelot “convinces” them to join the cause.

Recruited individuals become a part of the Diamond Dogs ranks and are slotted into different teams based on their skills. Initially the only team available is the R&D Team, which allows Big Boss to develop upgrades for his equipment, new tools and items and of course, more guns. As progression is made throughout the game, more teams become available and additional functions are added such as deploying squads on missions to earn more GMP, resources and recruit more members. Teams are upgraded by recruiting skilled members with higher skills. The higher skilled potential recruits can be located in the world by interrogating the various soldiers littered around the map. The sheer amount of guns, gadgets and vehicles that can be unlocked via managing Mother Base is astounding. It also gives you new ways of approaching missions. It becomes quite enjoyable as the game goes on.

Visually, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looks amazing. The various locations have been crafted well and are an absolute pleasure to explore. Character models and animations look great and the slow motion Reflex Mode adds the right amount of blur to show off the slowing down of time.

Audio wise, the game excels. Regular series composer Harry Gregson-Williams returns to provide a soundtrack that hits all of the right notes almost all of the time. The voice acting is quite superb, however, this is mostly for the supporting characters. Troy Baker does a fantastic job at voicing Revolver Ocelot. Kiefer Sutherland once again voices Big Boss, but unfortunately has very little to say throughout the campaign. There aren’t any real long conversations where we can hear him really giving life to Big Boss, which is a little sad.

Conclusion:
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a great game. While its story leaves quite a bit to be desired, the supporting characters are interesting and help move the narrative along. Additionally, the gameplay is excellent and is really a treat for the player as it gives them options for approaches to missions. Many of the memorable moments that can be experienced are likely to be unscripted events that take place in the field. While the typical Metal Gear narrative is not present and some longtime fans may be disappointed, the gameplay makes up for its shortcomings and will have players hooked on the various features within the game.

The Breakdown:
Story: 8.2/10
Gameplay: 9.7/10
Lasting appeal: 9.3/10
Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 9.3/10

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PlayStation 4 Reviews

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Review

The Uncharted series is one that has done well on the PlayStation 3. A combination of a historical and mythical narrative, amazing setpieces and action-packed gameplay, the series feels very much like a modern-day Indiana Jones experience. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection features remastered versions of the series’ main entries and feels even better than ever.

The stories featured in the games take some existing history and puts a twist on it by combining it with mythical treasure or locations to make for a rather interesting experience. Nepal, Borneo and Syria are but a few of the locations featured in the game and each one feels authentic. Aside from the fantastic stories featured in the games, they also feature an awesome cast that help with driving the narrative along rather nicely.

Players will not be disappointed when it comes to the plot in each game. From start to finish, it’s certainly a thrill ride and is incredibly cinematic. Each game is an adventure just waiting to be experienced.

Gameplay is from a third-person perspective and makes use of cover-based mechanics. In addition, it features platforming through a mixture of environments. Running, climbing, shooting; all can be found here in great measure.

The aiming mechanics have been reworked to be a much smoother affair. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, the first game in the series and the most dated of the three, feels like less clunky when it comes to aiming. This makes getting consecutive headshots significantly easier. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves feels even better than the improvements made in the first, despite Bluepoint Games saying that they’ve evened out the aiming for all three games.

The second and third games are much more of a joy to play through due to the improvements made as the series progressed. However, despite Drake’s Fortune’s occasional clunkiness with movement, it’s still a great game to play.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection contains these three great games but for such a great series, it doesn’t offer much in terms of extras. The multiplayer and co-op components have been removed, which is unfortunate as the modes were rather enjoyable. The collection also doesn’t feature any concept art, character bios or character models to view. Honestly, a collection for a series as great as Uncharted feels almost incomplete without appropriate extras to accompany the games on the disc.

Visually, the games look great. Drake’s Fortune is the most dated, which is understandable since the game is eight years old and was released very early in the PlayStation 3’s life. Uncharted 2 and 3, however, look amazing after being remastered. Their visuals are so impressive, in fact, that at times it’s easy to forget that they’re remasters of games from the PlayStation 3 era. There are some glitches here and there but these are mostly found in the first game.

In terms of the audio, not much has changed. The games feature an incredible cast of actors that really bring the characters to life; the voice acting is truly quite splendid throughout the series. Additionally, the soundtrack is memorable enough to have you humming some of the tracks, especially Nate’s Theme, which serves as the main theme for each game.

Conclusion:
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is an excellent remastering that is a great addition to the collection of fans and newcomers alike. While it does not feature any extras aside from a Speed Run mode, the series is great to play through. They both look and play better than they ever have before.

The Breakdown:
Story: 9/10
Gameplay: 9.5/10
Lasting appeal: 8/10
Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 9.5/10

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Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate Review

Victorian London and the Industrial Revolution has always been a rather interesting setting for me due to its culture and the technological advancements at the time. What better way to enjoy it than putting a twist on it involving the Assassins and Templars. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate takes place during this era and is pleasantly surprising.


Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate takes place in Victorian London shortly after the Industrial Revolution. The story follows the twins Jacob and Evie Frye, young Assassins who decide to liberate London from the clutches of the Templar Crawford Starrick. Starrick has his hands in almost every part of London; from the gangs to the factories and even higher up, his influence seems to know no bounds. The twins decide to take London back by starting to infiltrate the seedy criminal underworld and working their way up.

The story is interesting in terms of the war between the Assassins and Templars and the setting is just great. One of the best parts of the game’s narrative is the relationship between Jacob and Evie. While both are Assassins and seem to have the same goal, the two differ when it comes to the manner in which they intend to get it done. Jacob’s more immediate goal is to start a gang called The Rooks in order to liberate London while Evie’s is to find the Pieces of Eden before the Templars do. This causes the twins to disagree and take shots at each other now and then when discussing plans. It’s entertaining to watch and makes the duo rather likeable. I felt like I identified more with Evie, however, since it always felt like she saw the bigger picture or made smarter choices. I did like Jacob though because of his charming and brash attitude; it reminded me very much of a young Ezio Auditore.

While the story moves along very well, it is somewhat ruined by a rather weak ending, which is disappointing for a campaign that does fairly well.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate also features some real people from history. Notable figures include Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale, to name a few.

Gameplay is largely similar from Assassin’s Creed Unity in terms of traversal, not so much in terms of combat. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicated utilises Unity’s ability to free run up and free run down by holding the corresponding button. Climbing up and down buildings is still one of the best parts of the game, despite the controls being a tad iffy at times. To aid traversal, Syndicate introduces a rope launcher to climb buildings in a hurry to cross some of the wider streets and roads without having to drop down from a rooftop in order to do so. It’s not going to allow Jacob or Evie to zip around like Batman, which is good. It doesn’t feel too advanced for its era in that regard  and fits with the industrial revolution theme, which is a nice touch.

Additionally, there are many carriages that litter the streets. These play a big part in some missions and side activities and are also a nice way to cover ground much faster, especially given the size of the map. Another thing to mention is that they handle pretty well.

Jacob and Evie both have their own strengths. Evie is much better at being stealthy while Jacob is more proficient at close combat. Players are able to switch between the twins on the fly when doing side activities, however, this is not possible when playing missions from the campaign; it’s perfectly understandable since most of the time the two go separate ways.

Each character’s skill tree is pretty much the same, save for a few upgrades that are specific to a particular character. For example, one of Evie’s specific upgrades allows her to become invisible while she’s stationary.

Combat is a lot more fast paced than it’s been in the previous games. There’s less waiting around waiting to counter as attacking an enemy is much more enticing. Racking up a decent combo, breaking an enemy’s defense and finishing off two near-death enemies makes the combat much more exciting and variable. Countering is still a big part of combat but it’s mainly for saving health and keeping a combo going. One thing I would’ve liked is if there were more ways to dispatch enemies non-lethally but this is a small gripe that doesn’t really take away from the game.

The Assassin’s will meet a few allies along the way who function as associates. Doing side missions that pertain to a particular associate will increase loyalty with them, which ultimately unlocks additional weapons, outfits and gear. There’s never really a reason to spend money on an item as it is likely to be unlocked by means of gaining loyalty with allies. It’s a nice incentive to put some effort into the side missions.

As mentioned previously, the map in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is rather large and is divided up into different areas. Completing some of the main activities increases the influence and control of the Assassins in that area. Once the control has gotten to about 90%, this will trigger a gang war with the leader in that area. Defeating a leader, gives you complete control in that area and will also increase the amount of income received at the base.

Aside from the upgrades of Jacob and Evie, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate also features gang upgrades. These range from upgrading the level of The Rooks to make them more useful in a fight to paying the police bribes in order for them to occasionally turn a blind eye. Theses upgrades ultimately make your life a little easier but come at a bit of a cost. Aside from just spending the in-game currency, resources will also need to be spent in order to purchase these upgrades and craft other items. These resources can be found in chests and looted from enemies but are mostly obtained from doing side missions for some associates; another incentive to focus on them now and then.

Visually, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate looks great. It’s a really good looking title and just seems to capture the era so well. This especially true at night when the wet cobblestone streets reflect the light from a nearby lamp post. Additionally, I didn’t encounter any real bugs or glitches that forced me to reload at any point. Audio is very much on par with the game’s visuals.The game features superb voice acting that really make the characters feel more likeable.

Conclusion:
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is an awesome game. It captures the essence of Victorian London really well and the characters throughout the narrative are likeable. Gameplay is enjoyable despite the odd grabbing of the wrong ledge. The combat is satisfying as it is much faster paced and becomes quite addictive when you start racking up increasingly larger combos.

Controlling of London also feels great, from the gangwars to upgrading of the Rooks, it’s nice to see how the upgrades influence the proficiency of the gang members. Despite its weak ending, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is an enjoyable experience and feels like a worthy entry in the series.

The Breakdown:
Story: 8/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Lasting appeal: 8/10
Graphics: 9.3/10
Sound: 9.3/10

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PlayStation 3 Reveiws PlayStation 4 Reviews

Journey PS4 Review

Journey is a rather interesting title. This title falls into a fairly unique category of games. To be honest, I have no idea exactly how to describe it, to someone who has not played it, without sounding like a hippy. It stems from the minds over at a little place called Thatgamecompany (seriously, that is their name). They are also the creators of two other downloadable PlayStation exclusives, Flow and Flower. All three games are quite easy to play, allowing players from virtually any level of gaming experience to get behind a controller and have a good time. Journey is their latest work, and in my opinion, the one with the most soul.

As I begin the game the title screen shows an open desert landscape, baked by the sun and scoured by wind and sand. In the bottom left of the screen is the only option available for selection: “New Journey”. The first thought that pops into my head says that this game has a simple style to it. The fact that there is no difficulty setting or options menu to speak of, unless you count the option to be online or not, tells me that it is for anyone who can hold a controller. This idea extends into the online experience of Journey as well, as there is no option to invite a friend or even to speak with the players you encounter. Your only form of communication is a sort of musical note that you can project from the character. This also happens to be just about the only other interactivity Journey has, allowing you to uncover secrets scattered about the land. The other travellers you meet online simply happen to be meeting you, the same way that you’ve just met them, completely at random. This can be quite an experience because at first this world seems like a wide expanse of nothing, dry and lifeless.

From the opening sequence of this game the music plays a critical role in setting the tone of the experience, particularly because there is no dialogue in the entire game. A faceless and nameless cloaked figure sits alone in the desert. There is only one landmark, a great mountain in the distance. This seems like the obvious destination and so you begin to walk. The music lends itself to the narrative of the story beautifully, and the story is in turn told through exploration, creating an orchestral soundtrack to the simple act of travelling a bit further. Only through exploring and travelling toward the great mountain can you uncover the tale behind this land and destiny of the silent protagonist.

Exploration is rewarded in the form of tokens of light placed throughout the landscape and hidden in those places that are sometimes just out of view. Once collected, these extend the amount of time that the player can take to the air, and cover greater distances without restriction. This ability is displayed by means of a magic scarf extending behind the player. The longer the scarf, the longer you can stay in the air.

That’s where the game gets interesting. In the process of speeding up your Journey, the game can be finished relatively quickly, provided you don’t stop too often to stare at the stunning visuals. Journey itself is made to be played more than once, its play time clocks in at around three and a half, to four hours. That kind of play time really isn’t very long by today’s standards, however, in Journey’s case I actually find it quite refreshing. It is a game that is made to be finished, and with each successive playthrough, the design on the players travelling cloak will gain more complexity. If you happen to meet a player while online and they have cloak that is wildly different to yours, it’s simply because they have traveled this path many times.

All of this is not to say that this game is for everyone. There are players out there who may find this boring or tedious. Some won’t enjoy the lack of interaction with the environment, some might not enjoy the fact that the story is not directly told to the player, and others that simply don’t want to play it. The game’s artistic and mysterious nature may turn some players away before they’ve even started, however I see a perfect place for this in my collection. This is a game you play when you want to take a break from the massive open ended, one hundred hour, bombastic masterpiece theatre we’ve been spoiled with this year. It will be a part of my collection for a very long time, precisely because I can pick it up and play anytime without caring where I am in the game, or what unlocks I have, or what progress I’ve made. You have no pressure to move forward through the areas, it’s played at entirely the players pace.

Conclusion:
Journey is a very well crafted experience, however vague it may be in terms of telling a story. The visuals alone make this game a simple pleasure to play. The game’s soundtrack ties it all together creating an epic tone that truly complements each area the player travels through and accomplishes the goal of setting the tone for the story very well. Due to the short nature of the game, this could hurt its replay value somewhat, even though it is meant to be played more than once. There will always be players who will finish it and won’t look back. However the game’s age restriction makes it perfect for any player, regardless of age or level of skill.

The controls are easy to learn, and the traveller responds with fluid motion when prompted, from the finest touch of the analog stick to a simple tilt of the controller. Sliding down the slopes of immense sand dunes as though I were surfing in a big wave competition was a great feeling. The environments are empty, and yet somehow manage to captivate one’s attention, urging the player forward, while offering enough in each area to evoke the player’s curiosity. The mysterious nature of the story and the artistic style may put off a few players. However, regardless of one’s opinion over the style of the game, no one can deny that this is a very beautiful game. Visually, it is stunning. There have been a few games that made me stop playing for a few minutes and just enjoy the view, this is one of them.

The Breakdown:
Story: 7.5/10
Gameplay: 8.5/10
Lasting appeal: 7/10
Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 9.5/10

Categories
PC Reviews PlayStation 4 Reviews Xbox Reviews

Star Wars Battlefront Review

Developed by DICE and published by EA, Star Wars Battlefront feels like the Star Wars shooter everyone has been waiting for. While it does do quite a bit right in terms of gameplay, sometimes Battlefront loses its way.

The gameplay in Star Wars Battlefront is decent. It handles like your standard FPS game in that you are able to shoot, jump, crouch and use other items such as grenades, the only real exception being that you are able to switch to a third-person view if you so wish.

There isn’t any real single-player campaign in Battlefront. However, there is a Survival Mode, which is actually a lot of fun. The single-player or cooperative mode pits Rebel players against wave after wave of increasingly difficult Imperial soldiers. As the waves go on, soldiers gain upgrades such as increased armour, invisibility and jetpacks. It’s rather rewarding especially on some of the higher difficulties. The only problem with this mode is that there aren’t many reasons to play A survival mission once you’ve completed it, unless of course you just want something to tackle with a friend, which is never a bad thing.

Star Wars Battlefront has a plethora of modes; unfortunately only a few stand out and will most likely be the modes that you will frequent during your time with the game. The modes I found that stood out the most were Drop Zone, Supremacy and Walker Assault.

Drop Zone is an 8v8 mode in which players compete to capture drop pods. Successfully capturing a pod rewards the team with victory points, which adds to the score. This also initiates the next drop and one-use items such as turrets and mines.

Supremacy is essentially Conquest Mode from the Battlefield series. Supremacy features two teams of 20 players fighting for control of outposts over a large map. Like conquest, players are able to make use of vehicles to move around and with enough skill, can ultimately turn the tide in a match. Available vehicles include AT-ST’s and X-Wings. This can also affect the combat behaviour of the infantry as raining down fire forces a change in tactics. It’s dynamic the way it changes and is an enjoyable factor of the gameplay.

Walker Assault essentially combines the gameplay of both modes while giving the Imperials a bit of an advantage as AT-AT Walkers march on toward a rebel base in order to wipe it from the map. Rebels have to capture uplink stations in order to guide their Y-Wings in order to attack the walkers. They’re formidable foes, to say the least, so any damage done to them feels like a real accomplishment. Out of the many modes available, Walker Assault feels like the most authentic Star Wars experience.

What also makes the gameplay rather exciting is the different loadouts that players use when going into a match. One player’s loadout may not be the same as the next, which makes it a variable experience. As players earn XP from combat experience, credits are earned. These credits can be used to purchase different blasters and items to be equipped. The purchased items range from grenades, jetpack boosts and special guns. Three items can be equipped at once in the form of star cards. The left and right cards hold grenades or a sniper rifle with one round; these recharge after a few seconds after being used. The middle card holds expendable items such as a shield, however, more charges can be found around the map. It’s a interesting and good way to handle the progression as it doesn’t lock players to a certain class when playing.

Aside from items and weapons used in loadouts, players can find tokens on the map for various one-use items such as turrets and explosives. In addition, players can also find tokens for vehicles such as AT-ST’s, X-Wings and Tie Fighters, which can make a battle a little more interesting. Hero Tokens can also be found on the map and these allow players to turn into character such as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. These characters are a lot stronger than your average soldier and can be devastating once introduced to a conflict. Each character has their own strengths and tactical advantage. Usually once a Hero enters the fray, the opposing force tends to head in the other direction for fear of being annihilated. It’s a nice touch and somewhat funny to see your opposition running away from you.

Unfortunately not all of Star Wars Battlefront’s modes are great. Fighter Squadron is a decent mode for pilots who want to get the hang of the ships but it feels too simple due to it being aerial combat only and doesn’t involve infantry. Blast is your classic Team Deathmatch; it’s fun as a starting mode but it’s highly likely that you won’t be coming back to it after enjoying Drop Zone, Supremacy and Walker Assault.

Then there are modes that just feel like no one would play them. Hero Hunt and Heroes vs Villains don’t really offer anything new to players enjoying other modes. They also have the tendency of being a little tedious.

A lot of the modes in Star Wars Battlefront (and I mean a lot) come across as being filler content and not really something to be enjoyed. It’s almost as if DICE has gone in the direction of delivering as much fan service as possible, which is not a bad thing, but at times it feels as if the game loses its way, forgetting to focus on game modes that work and are enjoyable.

Star Wars Battlefront is a great looking game. When playing the game for the first time, players will see that the visuals in the game are just beautiful. Character models and animations have been well done. The explosions look great and the signature impact sparks of blaster fire has been recreated incredibly. What really stands out, however, is the different memorable locations from the Star Wars franchise and how maps have been created to feel suited for the locations. For example, Hoth is covered in snow and has various ice caverns which creates a feeling of claustrophobia, while Endor is a map covered with hiding places and sniping opportunities thanks to the dense vegetation.

In terms of audio, Battlefront shines most of the time. Blaster fire sounds great and explosions match the visual quality of how they look. At first, the voice work by characters such as Darth Vader and Han Solo seemed fitting but it soon became quite monotonous after a phrase was repeated for the fourth time. Additionally, the one liners spouted by the Heroes felt so cheesy and cringeworthy that you start to wish that they weren’t there. Famous themes such as the Imperial March make appearances here and there; sometimes the original score by DICE goes with it rather well, other times it feels strangely out of place, which is disappointing.

Conclusion:
Star Wars Battlefront is a good game and feels like the authentic Star Wars shooter we’ve all been waiting for. However, the game isn’t great all of the time and loses its way occasionally; this is especially true when it comes to the different modes available with the majority not being very enjoyable. That said, the game handles really well and the different possible loadouts make combat interesting.

Visually, the game shines with its environments and maps. Even better yet, the attention to detail such as scorch marks found on X-Wings. Unfortunately the same can not be said about the sound due to the cheesy one liners and intermittently misplaced soundtrack. However, most of the sound effects such as blaster fire and resonating of a lightsaber are on point and give me a feeling nostalgia.

While it may not be the best Star Wars game ever and sometimes feels misguided, Battlefront still does quite a bit right in terms of being a decent Star Wars shooter and mostly feels rather authentic.

The Breakdown:
Gamplay: 9/10
Multiplayer: 7.5/10
Lasting appeal: 7/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sounds: 8/10

Categories
PC Reviews PlayStation 4 Reviews

Street Fighter 5 Review

Street Fighter 5 is quite successful in its execution in that it has a decent roster of characters and the fighting mechanics are pretty damn solid. The roster includes some older characters that have been series staples for as long as I can remember. There are also some new characters that have been introduced to the roster such as Laura and the awfully sinister-looking Necalli.

One thing about the roster that I didn’t particularly like is that there were characters from as far back as Street Fighter 2 that weren’t included. Guile, Sagat and Akuma are but a few that have been excluded from the selection of characters. Guile, however, will be introduced a little later on as he is part of the first season’s list of characters.

In addition, Street Fighter 5 does not include an arcade mode, something which has been a regular feature since the inception of the series. I find this a little disappointing as it makes the game seem less appealing as this is usually one of the first modes players jump into when first booting up the game. The Story Mode featured in the game is also incredibly weak. In essence, Story Mode looks at the backstory and motivation of the characters while pitting them against 3 – 4 opponents, if you’re lucky. For example; when playing through the Zangief branch of this mode, he only had two opponents to face before the epilogue had shown up. What makes the experience with each character go even quicker is that each opponent only needs to be beaten in one round per encounter with them. I certainly hope that the Cinematic Story Mode will be more fleshed out when it’s released in June.


The fighting mechanics have remained largely the same, save for two new features: V-Skill and V-Trigger. V-Skills are moves that are pretty unique to each character and is activated by pressing both medium attack buttons. These are varied and are essential in order to build up the V-Gauge, which in turn is used to perform reversals and activate V-Triggers.

V-Trigger is activated by pressing both heavy attack buttons. Like the V-Skill, V-Trigger is also different with each character. Some characters may enter a mode which gives them increased strength while others are able to pull of a fairly powerful manoeuvre.

The only real complaint I have about Street Fighter 5 is that it feels extremely rushed due to the lack of content that should actually be a standard feature in the game. No Arcade mode somewhat removes the option play against the AI, save for Survival Mode and Story Mode, but the latter is a brief experience in itself.

While Street Fighter 5 does lack a fair amount of content, it does offer some decent online modes. There is the average Casual and Ranked match modes available but strangely enough offers no rematch option after completion. In addition, players are also able to jump into a Battle Lounge, which can be public or private. This allows them to constantly battle other players from around the world.

Visually, Street Fighter 5 looks really good. The character models and various special moves look damn impressive pretty much all of the time. It’s also a very colourful game and each location is a feast for the eyes. The entire roster features voice acting but it can sometimes be a little cringeworthy.

Conclusion:
Street Fighter 5 is an impressive fighting game with solid mechanics and a fairly decent roster of characters. Unfortunately, it is a little disappointing to not see some of the fan favourites included. The game also lacks quite a bit of single-player content and seems to cater more to online play or possibly even the E-Sports demographic.

The controls are fairly easy to get the hang of after starting the game and is a pleasure for almost anyone to play. The absence of an Arcade Mode is also quite a big deal as this mode is usually included in your average fighting game. While it may have some good things going for it, the lack of content is a little odd and it may just be worth waiting for Capcom to update the game before grabbing a copy.

The Breakdown:
Gameplay:7/10
Multiplayer: 8.3/10
Lasting appeal: 7/10
Visuals: 8.7/10
Sound: 8.2/10

Categories
PC Reviews PlayStation 4 Reviews Xbox Reviews

Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition Review

Dying Light has been re-released in a more tempting package, which includes all previously released DLC including its new standalone expansion entitled The Following. Aptly titled Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced edition, I had loads of fun going back to Dying Light and then heading into The Following. Check out the original review below followed by the impressions of The Following.

Dying Light follows Kyle Crane, an undercover operative for the GRE (Global Relief Effort) who is dropped into the fictional city of Harran. His mission is to find a political figure who has gone rogue and is in possession of a file that could possibly destroy the reputation of his agency. This would be significantly easier if Harran has not been hit rather hard by a virus that has turned the majority of the population into aggressive zombie-like creatures. After being dropped into Harran, Crane is rescued by some survivors from a sanctuary known as the Tower. It isn’t long after he is rescued that Crane becomes a ray of hope for the survivors in the sanctuary.

Dying Light’s story isn’t particularly gripping and the characters suffer from not being fleshed out enough. Even the main villain is a little cliche. The plot progresses from start to end while being fairly straightforward. Additionally, there aren’t too many surprises either.

Side missions are great and provide a good distraction when not playing the main story. Helping survivors with their missions can be rather interesting as you discover what their requests may be; to either survive their daily lives or for something important or sentimental that they may have left behind somewhere. While some of these do result in a simple fetch-quest, there were often times when the first part of the quest may have seemed simple but then escalated into something a little more interesting. I quite liked how many of the side missions had multiple parts.

Gameplay takes place from a first-person perspective and initially feels like Techland’s previous zombie outing, Dead Island. Shortly after the start of the game, this is further enhanced by implementing a parkour system, which works really well once you get used to it. On consoles, the parkour might feel a little strange at first, due to the jump button being mapped to the shoulder buttons on the controller. Once players get used to this placement, however, they will be able to weave over obstacles and across rooftops with the greatest fluidity. It really adds a new strategy and verticality to the gameplay.

The early hours of Dying Light can be a bit of a challenge due to combat not feeling as accurate as it could be. Additionally, the common zombies found around Harran can take quite a bit of damage before dying…again. This is a temporary struggle as players will soon unlock new skills through the game’s progression system, which will allow them to effectively fight zombies or flee from a mob of them – dropkicking zombies is immensely satisfying and is highly recommended.

The game features a dynamic day-and-night system which will affect the type of enemy that players will encounter. A different, faster type of zombie prowls at night and can make your life an undead hell – see what I did there? Navigating Harran at night is usually a stealthy affair and can also be quite terrifying the first few times that you experience the night cycle outside of a safe zone. Being spotted by one of these quick-footed horrors usually means one thing; run for your life until you can find a safe zone. I remember running from a night zombie and managing to lose it after sliding into an open concrete construction pipe. I thought that I had evaded my pursuer until a second enemy started inspecting my position. This instantly started a second chase. It’s an exhilarating experience that really makes you feel vulnerable. While it may seem like suicide, venturing out during night time is great for levelling up as players gain an increased amount of XP.

Exploration is a very important part of Dying Light. Harran is open to explore from the very start, which is a good thing. Investigating abandoned houses or stores are imperative to a player’s survival. It’s very rare that a player will loot a house and not find something useful. Medkits are the first thing that can be crafted but more blueprints can be found at traders, or as a reward for completing a mission. Blueprints make things rather interesting as it allows you to make modifications to simple items to transform them into a weapon with some serious power. Personally, electrified weapons are my favourite.

There are a number of firearms available in Dying Light but they should only be reserved for desperate situations. This is mainly due to the fact that the sound of gunfire attracts Virals, an agile and dangerous zombie type that excels at close-quarters combat; they’re actually able to duck and sidestep your attacks. The same applies to Bandits; they’re rather formidable at close range and are also able to throw knives at you from a distance. Groups of them can become quite overwhelming in a hurry if their numbers aren’t whittled down fast enough.

In terms of multiplayer content, Dying Light has a “Be the Zombie” mode, in which a player can invade the game of another while playing as a quick zombie able to zipline across the map using its tendrils. It can be a lot of fun hunting as the zombie and is especially challenging when invading a lobby with 2 players in it.

Dying Light also features a drop in/drop out co-op mode. This mode is quite enjoyable and allows four players to be in the same lobby, whether it’s just hunting and taking out zombies or tackling the campaign missions. Matchmaking could be a little better in this regard but once you’re in a lobby, it works quite well.

Dying Light: The Following
Dying Light: The Following once again follows Kyle Crane as he ventures from Harran into the countryside to investigate reports of a group of people immune to the virus from the first game, which has turned Harran into a desolate city overrun with flesh-eating zombies.

There Crane discovers the “Children of the Sun”, a religious cult confirmed to be immune to the virus. Wanting answers, Crane goes in search of a woman revered by the villagers and mysteriously known only as “the Mother”. However, no one is really talkative with the stranger about their immunity and Crane is forced to help out where he can in order to gain their trust and ultimately, enter their inner circle.

While The Following’s story is bursting with ideas for possible plot twists, it does feel a little squandered. Most of the main missions involve investigating, fetching and killing things. This is all good and dandy, but it does feel a tad underwhelming. However, this is not to say that there are no plot twists. Some quests had some surprising endings and the arc with the Mother and her acolytes will enough to keep you going until the very end.

The gameplay is where The Following shines, Unlike the main game, there are less opportunities to use parkour as the map is mostly wide open areas. However, the lack of parkour opportunities is compensated for with the introduction of the buggy. The buggy makes its presence felt very early on and remains a viable method of transportation from start to finish. Without it, every trip outside of a safe area is an extremely long walk. Additionally, it functions as a decent ram when trying to get through a small group of infected. It isn’t invulnerable, however, as too much damage will require some repair work done to the various parts of the vehicle. The cage of the buggy can be upgraded and more upgraded parts can be installed but this does require having skill points to put into the Driver Skill Tree and the appropriate crafting materials, respectively. The buggy also needs to be refilled after quite a bit of driving. Luckily, there are abandoned cars all over the map and some of them do still have some leftover fuel inside. Of course, finding an abandoned gas station helps too.

With The Following comes new side quests and activities for players to enjoy, however, some of the quests or activities dotted around the map strongly recommends playing through it with a friend due to its difficulty. Unlike the rest of the game, these quests such as destroying Volatile nests or defeating boss-like infected see a significant spike in difficulty, which unfortunately can make playing through them a bit of a chore if you want to fly solo. I applaud Techland for wanting to really push the co-op, however, there should be an option to fly solo on these quests without it having to feel like a mountainous challenge. It IS possible, just be prepared to use a large amount of your resources to get it done.

Dying Light looks great. Looking over the city of Harran is a pleasure, especially during a sunset as it provides for some picturesque vistas. Animations are smooth too. Audio is very much on par with the visuals for the game. Thuds, thumps and slashing sounds can be heard when attack zombies with your melee weapons. Despite the cast of characters being uninteresting, the voice acting is superb. Most of it will be heard from Crane himself, who is voiced by Roger Craig Smith (Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed series, and Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 5 and 6). Smith does a fine job and makes Kyle Crane a believable character.

Conclusion:
Dying Light is a fantastic game. Being re-released as a complete edition was not a bad idea and the inclusion of The Following is great. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience and is sure to please many fans of the zombie game genre. The parkour, combat, crafting and different zombie types is an interesting combo and one that works really well. In addition to this, the buggy that is introduced in The Following is a lot of fun. It’s definitely a great package for both newcomers and fans of the original game.

The Breakdown:
Story: 8/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Lasting appeal: 9/10
Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 9/10