Very few games have mastered the art of discovery. There aren't many that don't simply lead you down a linear path, feeding you slightly curious crumbs that'll eventually lead you down the rabbit hole only to discover what's there in all its obviousness and profundity, is lacking any real glory.
To follow an old concept thats often been thrown around in the gaming world, Cities Skylines is a killer. More precisely its a Sim City killer. The way it looks and feels, along with its core soul, it takes what everyone loved about Sim City and rather than throw in arbitrary functions and random additions no one asked for, it builds on those cherished components to create a vast, flexible, gorgeous and just greatly impressive canvas in which you’re free to build whatever bustling city your hearts desires.
Games can be enthralling. Since their creation and gradual evolution they've been a medium that could grab you by the eyes and hold on for dear life until you realise, six red bulls and two cold pizzas later that you've been up for hours. It’s morning in fact, but you haven't regretted a moment of finishing Ghouls’n’Ghosts final level, taking part in a bit of duck racing in Shenmue, finding that mystical lift rave that Crysis 2 offered up or even taking the time to master Bloodborne and destroy Margot’s Wet Nurse in a game of Knifey Spoony.
When State of Decay landed on the Xbox 360 all those moons ago, it really set the bar for just how much scope there could be for an Indie title. The world was huge and the story could go on for as long as you wanted it to, you were the story, Every new stranger you met along the way was another life line, another part of your adventure
t’s hard to believe that in its short time, Assassins Creed has become such a huge franchise, rich in lore and more plot threads than your average conspiracy theory. In fact, it bares the hugest conspiracy theory of all, one which spans all of human history and tells of the struggle between Assassins and Templars.
If shadow of the colossus and Dark Souls were thrown together in a hadron collider, with a copy of The Legend of Zelda left in by mistake, Titan Souls would no doubt be the result. Focusing on stripped back boss fights in which every strike is fatal yet almost impossible to land, you’re thrown into a lavish 8 bit world with nothing but your wits and a cruel, punishing list of bosses that await the chance to crush you and your tiny body into nothing but dust.
When I heard the news that Dead Space, survival horror masters, Visceral Games were set to take on the next chapter in the Battlefield series, I was shocked, excited and yet somewhat fearful.
Having created some of my favourite games, from James Bond: Agent Under Fire and The Godfather to Dante's Inferno before creating something, in the form of Dead Space, that redefined a genre. So who better to take on a franchise that could perhaps be considered a bit long in the tooth.
Final Fantasy Type-0 has had a long and arduous journey to the shores of the western market. Originally released for the PSP way back in 2011, it was often teased and promised to be ported, most recently in a fumbled announcement from Sony talking of a PS Vita port which was later proven to be a false/mixed message. Things were looking bleak with regards to western gamers getting their hands on Type-0 and experiencing it's story. Fast forward to the present day and look where we are, a week away from its general release on home consoles, with a fresh HD lick of paint no less.
They're all staring at me. The pig and swan, peering into my sole, while the tiger keeps telling me to do it. We’re all agreed. I have to kill her.
No, this isn't the frenzied scratchings of my diary, nor the voices in my head. It is in fact, a scene from Hotline Miami 2, Dennatons sequel to their indie gore fest, which simply blew people away with how far they could take the original grand theft auto visuals when slapped together with some 80s flare and a soundtrack to make fans of Drive drool uncontrollably.
As I carefully began laying trip mines across every piece of floor space I could physically muster, or rather my ammo limit will allow, LAWGISTIC set about laying land mines at the bottom of those forbidding stairs, with a couple at the precipice for good measure. Thats when all hell broke loose. Nazi Zombies began flooding in from the open doorways, as we did our best to pick off pack leaders and the fastest among them from the church tower. Then, they appeared.
One day I’ll have to stop saying it but Resident Evil 6 was a mess. Both in the way it looked, from a clumsy and convoluted HUD to the way Leon always looked like he'd just climbed out of a barrel of oil, it holds a special place in my heart as one of the most disappointing/hated titles ever. I mean that. EVER!
Anyway, my emotional scars aside, Resident Evil Revelations went a long way to fixing things for me and after getting hands on with the sequel to this classic effort, I was certain Revelations 2 would do the same. After completing Episode 1, fully I might add, I’m happy to say I was right!
Point and click games have seen somewhat of a revival in recent years, both from retro titles seeing re-releases and newer imaginings of the genre, most notably the recent swathe of games that simply demand you click everything in sight until you've hit the right item to progress. No, the latter isn't a great representation of the genre but unfortunately exists.
The Legend of Zelda series is one that may gamers hold close to their heart. Not just because the stories, characters and vast worlds are simply stunning, with so much to see and experience, but often because their mythological tales resonate with us on a human level, telling us tales of what it’s like to grow up in a world filled with turmoil and delivering life lessons along the way.
Monster Hunter. I say those words with a strange mixture of fear and pride. Pride, thanks to the small, tiny fragments of success I've collected along the way as I’ve progressed further and further, braving bigger hunts and capturing quarry that otherwise I would have never guessed I could tackle on my own. Fear, because I can't bear to look at the many hours I’ve played and recount the endless amounts of failure, and I truly mean a vast amount of my time was spent in failure, but then I am a rather reckless player.
Resident Evil, not just the series but the first instalment of it specifically, is easily one of my favourite in gaming history. So in many ways, a completely un bias review of the HD remaster may be near enough impossible as it will always hold a special place in my heart, something which I believe will be true of almost everyone reading this.
The Saints Row series is easily one of the craziest out there. Zaniest if you fancy using made up words to describe just how off the wall it all is. Dubstep guns, dildo bats, inflator pistols, Godzilla sized drinks cans reminiscent of that final scene in Ghostbusters and a lead character that can change sex at will and fall from a rocket only to become president, all to the tune of ‘I don't wanna miss a thing’ by Aerosmith.
Tomb Raider, that classic adventure platforming giant which revolves around a young British archaeologist who happens to be a gun-toting, gymnastic queen, is in a rather odd state of flux at the moment.
Since the next generation of consoles kicked off in a big way, there’s been a lot of focus on indie titles. Both the Xbox One and PS4 tussling to offer indie developers a platform to release unique and quirky titles.
No, that's not how long it took me to finish Lost and (finally) understand the ending. This is in fact how long it took me to eventually find the courage to hit the pause button on Dragon Age Inquisition. Long enough to then assemble my thoughts into some coherent words and tell you that this is indeed the sequel we’ve not only wanted, but the one we deserved some years ago!
As I charge into base camp which is flooded with unwelcome militia, I’m readying my flamethrower with a fresh bottle of fuel and enjoying the sight of my noble steed, which just so happens to be a huge elephant, as it stamps on my foes, flips cars and eats the left over henchmen that stray far to close to my flame. As all this unfolds, all I can think is, what game out there offers this kind of ridiculous freedom, this no holds barred madness.
Its easy for me to say that Assassins Creed lost its way with the third instalment in the series, and while Black Flag did enough to win back many of the series fans, it was still a miss step in my opinion, choosing to ‘wow’ with the addition of naval combat as appose to fixing the limping franchises ailments and injuries, just barely covering the cracks and scars with random new features.
In the vast years I’ve spent playing video games, I’ve come to realise just how hard it is to really nail a new franchise. Blending new ideas with classic tropes to make something that’s fresh yet familiar is a complex task, but like Ernest Rutherford attempting to split the atom, Microsoft and Insomniac Games have attempted this mammoth task and by the beard of Zeus, I think they've cracked it!
You’ll have no doubt seen the hype slowly swirling around Sunset Overdrive, all those ads giving the fourth wall a true kicking, but what shocked me after putting down my controller for mere moments to swab my brow and take a moment to reflect on just what I've been experiencing, is just how spot on the ads were.
Platinum games have one of those extremely hallowed positions within almost all gamers hearts, for no other indie studio has reached such heights or produced such a gloriously bonkers resume of titles. From Mad World, Vanquish, Anarchy Reigns and even Metal Gear Rising Revengance, the biggest mouthful of the MGS series to date.
Everything Platinum touches seems to turn exactly that. Platinum.
Ahh, there’s nothing better than taking a stroll through Mordor, the fires of which can be seen in the distance, as you serenely rush through the surrounding greenery, on the back of what can only be described as a fleshy, humongous, cat like creature. All while using an invisible Elfs bow, to slow time and deliver gruesome head shots to surprised Uruks.
I’ve been watching Gordon Freeman for some time now. Flitting between the fridge and the television, in a constant battle to satisfy his abundant appetite for food and comedy. I’m slightly disgusted while also feeling intrigued and still a tad proud that this is kind of all my fault.
I’d hope that you will have gathered by now that I'm not talking about an ever so secret sequel to Half-Life. No, I am of course talking about The Sims 4.
Skateboarding was pretty much a way of life for so many of us, including myself, a little less than a decade ago. Sure I probably wasn't as good as I remember but that didn't matter, it was about the whole package rather than just the sport. The music and style along with the freedom you felt to roam the streets, it was just as important. Skateboarding and its culture even grew into such a mainstream lifestyle that it began to seep into the gaming world, which meant, low and behold we were delivered the ultimate ‘Arcade Skater’ in the shape of Tony Hawks Pro Skater.
While playing MouseCraft, the one thing that crossed my mind with a feverish consistency, was how the hell can I explain this game to you without out saying, ‘its Tetris meets lemmings?’
Well, I’ve realised that it just cant be done. What I can tell you however, is that those two games thrown together with a bit of humour and creative license, makes for a pretty damn good puzzle game. Put simply, Mouse Craft is an addictive and extremely difficult puzzler that looks great and plays better.
In a time when the FPS genre is ruled by big budgets, high frame rates, annual clones and more serious text than war and peace, the world has been waiting for an injection of laughs. Tongue firmly in cheek, Bedlam is looking to take up that mantle. Throwing you into the shoes of Heather Quinn, a programmer at medical scanning developer Neurosphere, she finds herself transported into an old school FPS and must find her way out, but not before traversing decades worth of FPS tropes, cliches and homages.
Street Fighter has been around for donkeys years, this is a fact. Its also a fact that its easily one of the most recognisable games and franchises in history, with more than 15 titles under its belt (at least not including re-releases and spin offs) Capcom can stand proud knowing they stumbled across an absolute corker of a game.