Tag Archives: Xbox One

SteamWorld Heist (3DS, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox One & iOS)

Developer(s) – Image & Form Games

Publisher(s) – Image & Form Games

The Third game to be released in Image & Form’s SteamWorld universe following SteamWorld Tower Defence and SteamWorld Dig, SteamWorld Heist takes the series in yet another bold new direction in terms of gameplay, concept and story. Like the other two SteamWorld games before it, I found this game to be wonderfully varied, excelling in conceptual design and enjoyable to the last hour of gameplay. But due to the heightened longevity and replay value this game has in comparison with SteamWorld Dig, It is most definitely the best game in the SteamWorld series to date.

Graphics – 9/10

Despite the fact that SteamWorld Heist still incorporates some elements from the first two games, that the franchise has been taken to outer space in this instalment provides a new dimension in terms of visuals, so to speak. The steampunk influence found in the two previous games is much more prevalent, but at the same time, the overall conceptual design seems completely different in a way that works flawlessly. Character design is wonderfully diverse, and whilst it’s easy to come to the conclusion that individual levels seem like carbon copies of each other, it still does wonderfully well to deviate away from the deep caves and American west settings of the first two games. The soundtrack is also fantastic to listen to through; the majority of which being composed by the band Steam Powered Giraffe, and has since encouraged me to listen to more of their work, which I’ve found extremely enjoyable in itself.

Gameplay – 8/10

Providing a complete departure from any other gameplay formula found in the SteamWorld series, SteamWorld Heist is a 2D side scrolling turn-based RPG that plays out unlike any other game made in any similar vein. It is insanely addictive, as well as having a great sense of satisfaction to experience whilst playing it in devising as many clever strategies as possible to suit every enemy in every given situation in combat. Over the last few years, I have found a great deal of games that have incorporated both turn-based and real-time combat that I have been greatly let down by. But in this game, it works better than most others; if not, any other.

Controls – 10/10

Another problem that seems to crop up with many RPGs to incorporate both turn-based and real-time combat is that the controls tend to suffer drastically. But in this game, the controls are perfect; no unnecessary complications arise, and overcoming the challenge of aiming as accurately as possible with short-range weapons, and managing to land a hit, adds even more of a sense of satisfaction whilst playing.

Lifespan – 6/10

Despite the fact that I was ultimately left wanting more in terms of longevity out of this title. I was pleasantly surprised to see how long it can truly be made to last. When I’d collected all 45 stars in the first area, I was left thinking I’d completed the game at that point, only to find that there was another stage to follow it up, and more stages in addition. Overall, including the DLC package, the game can be made to last at least 20 hours, which whilst is much longer than many mainstream releases, falls short of the average lifespan of a turn-based RPG. It was still an improvement on the lifespan of SteamWorld Dig, and I can’t help but commend the developers for this.

Storyline – 7/10

A distant sequel to SteamWorld Dig, the cowbots are now living an existence of slavery and oppression following the destruction of the Earth, and civilization has become an eternal struggle for survival. The plot follows Captain Piper, who attempts to recruit a team of mercenaries for hire to embark on a space adventure throughout the universe. Whilst the main plot may sound simplistic in scope, the story is kept fresh throughout with the incorporation of character development in each of Piper’s mercenaries as the adventure goes on, and clever humour thrown in for good measure.

Originality – 10/10

To put it simply, this game plays out not only like no other SteamWorld game before it, but unlike any other game in general. It incorporates a blend of turn-based and real-time combat that for once works flawlessly, and proves that indie developers can demonstrate as much initiative and excellence in gameplay innovation as any mainstream developer out there. I was extremely impressed with this title, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what direction Image and Form take in the next instalment within this wonderful gaming mythos.

Happii

Happii

In summation, SteamWorld Heist is a wonderfully addictive and satisfying gaming experience that I highly recommend. Despite the fact that I believe it could have been made to last much longer, what there is to do throughout is enjoyable to the very last hour, and certainly stands out to me as the best indie title of 2016 so far.

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Xeodrifter (PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, 3DS & Wii U)

Developer(s) – Renegade Kid

Publisher(s) – Renegade Kid, Gambitious Digital & Entertainment

Director(s) – Jools Watsham

Programmer – Matthew Gambrell

Developed as a love letter to the Metroid series, Xeodrifter is a Metroidvania game with emphasis on exploration and intense combat, as well as including a small RPG element in the facility to upgrade weapons and learn new abilities as the game progresses. For the small amount of time it takes to complete this game, I was impressed with how it plays out, but underwhelmed by just how fleeting an experience it is, with the game ultimately leaving wanting a lot more than what was on offer.

Graphics – 7/10

Making use of intricately detailed 8-BIT environments and a dark and gritty atmosphere, the game is set on four different planets with their own unique looks and surroundings, and does extremely well to perpetuate the feeling of isolation that is synonymous with games like this; Super Metroid and The Swapper to name but a few. The biggest gripe I have with it in terms of visual presentation is the lack of variety in boss designs, with the developers choosing to simply recycle the same character sprite, but colouring it differently, and giving it different abilities with each battle. But although there is a lack in variation in boss design, there certainly isn’t in general enemy design, as there is a wide range of different creatures to fight throughout the course of the game, keeping things fresh for the most part.

Gameplay – 8/10

More impressive than the visuals, however, is how the game plays out. The combat involved in the game is just as intense and enjoyable as in the original Metroid; if not, more so. There is a wide range of weapons for players to utilize, as well a satisfyingly strong puzzle element to the game, with players having to use different abilities in order to progress through different areas, giving scope for players to revisit previously explored planets in order to uncover secrets other inaccessible without the aid of specific abilities, thus expanding what longevity there is to be had. Whilst the bosses are largely repetitious, they are also legitimately challenging; especially the final boss.

Controls – 10/10

Though this gameplay formula had been popularised and developed upon for over thirty years until this game was released, the developers did well to not only program the game’s control scheme properly, but also to build upon the formula, implementing unique features such as shifting from the foreground to the background, and vehicular exploration and combat, as well as travelling and fighting on foot. Unlike in a lot of many 2D side scrollers to have been released in the past such as Mega Man and Castlevania, the controls are also adequately responsive, and don’t perpetuate any unnecessary frustrations in-game.

Lifespan – 1/10

The worst thing about this game, unfortunately, is how short a time it lasts, with it lasting an average of merely 2 hours. It may have been impressive back in 1986, when Metroid first came out, but against most other Metroidvania games released since, such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Dust: An Elysian Tail, there’s no way it would possibly be able to compare in a positive sense. Personally, I think that even the aforementioned games could have done with lasting a little longer than they ended up doing, making a 2-hour Metroidvania seem especially unacceptable.

Storyline – 6/10

The game’s story can best be described as Metroid meets Pikmin. It follows an astronaut whose ship is damaged by an asteroid, and crash-lands on an uncharted world, and he must find each of the missing pieces to repair it. It’s very simple in scope, and it features next to nothing in the way of the usual tropes of a modern in-game narrative, but the majority of games released in the time that this game is reminiscent of didn’t either, and so I don’t think it should lose out on too many points as a result. Personally, I would much rather have a game include standout gameplay over a standout storyline.

Originality – 7/10

Though this game was clearly inspired by many classics of the genre, most notably the Metroid series of course, in terms of gameplay, it offers something fairly different to what other Metroidvania games do, and I believe there is indeed potential to make a franchise out of this title, and potential to build upon what is offered within it in a possible sequel. Though it may stand out as one of the shortest games of it’s kind ever developed, it stands out somewhat for the wrong reasons as a result.

Niiutral

Niiutral

Overall, Xeodrifter is an intensely enjoyable, yet criminally short game. I think that with a much larger in-game world to explore and even more to do, a sequel could be considered a classic; but if the developers plan to leave this series as it is, then they will have provided nowhere near enough of an experience to warrant any more than one playthrough.

Score

39/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

Wolfenstein: The New Order (Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Machine Games & id Software

Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks

Director(s) – Jerk Gustafsson & Jens Matthies

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a shooter set in an alternative reality, which has the player character fighting in a small resistance faction to overthrow the Nazi empire. Although there have been better first person shooters than this come and gone, I think it’s certainly a step in the right direction towards developers making shooters with considerably more substance in gameplay than the likes of Call of Duty, Battlefield and Spec Ops.

Graphics – 9.5/10

This game presents what is among the current pinnacle of graphical capability in video games. It was developed using id Software’s id Tech 5 engine, which was used to develop Rage, which is in my opinion not only one of the best games of the seventh generation, but also the best thing id Software have ever done. Machine Games must have realized the immense graphical value of Rage and wanted to bring that to the table with Wolfenstein, which was an excellent move in my opinion. But aside from that, the game is also conceptually compelling as well as graphically compelling, as it combines a very unique take on what kind of a horrific dystopian the world could have been if the German had won World War II (despite heavily fictional elements, such as robotic soldiers) with an extremely realistic portrayal of the horrendous realities and conditions of war and conflict. As such, in lieu of Wolfenstein tradition, the factors of blood, gore and disturbing imagery in this game are through the roof, so readers are warned.

Gameplay – 7/10

Compared to most shooters around at the moment, there is a fair bit more substance and more to play for in Wolfenstein. Indeed, alternative game modes can be unlocked through the completion of side quests, as well having the option to occasionally play through classic Wolfenstein 3D levels. But the factor that I was sorely disappointed by was that though it had the strong feel of Rage about it, I felt as if the RPG element of that game was wanting. There were side quests, but I think the game was far too linear for side quests to be more of a prominent factor in the game. I believe that by that token alone, this game could have been much more than what it turned out to be. However, for a linear shooter, it does play out well enough. It’s challenging and there is some replay value to be had for playing through it twice.

Controls – 10/10

Whilst Wolfenstein doesn’t bring anything new to the first person shooting genre in terms of controls, first and foremost, there are no problems with the formula chosen. But this was to be firmly expected, as this game was developed using an engine made by id Software; the company who popularised the genre with Doom years ago. It’s actually interesting to see how similar the control scheme of this latest game is compared to Wolfenstein 3D.

Lifespan – 5.5/10

I was let down by how short a time one playthrough lasts for how much more emphasis there is on side quests and extras in comparison to other shooters around at the moment, such as Killzone: Shadow Fall for example. The game seems like a first seemingly fleeting experience in that respect. Although there is indeed enough substance in gameplay to at least keep it entertaining for the short time it lasts I can’t help but feel that there’s also more than enough substance in gameplay to have made it last much longer than it did.

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Wolfenstein 3D centres around US Captain William Blazcowicz, who after having fought in World War II, sustains a head injury, which keeps him in a Polish care home for 14 years. Come 1960, having regained cognitive function, he escapes with his carer after the Nazis ravage the care home, to find out that the Germans have since won the war and the Nazi Party now govern the world; Blazcowicz, along with a secret resistance faction based in the heart of Berlin, resolves to overthrow the Nazis, and end their reign of tyranny and oppression. For me, though I won’t give away anything else that happens in the game, there were moments in the story, which made it somewhat hard to follow at times. But having said that, the game does also include some very emotionally powerful and tense moments, and presents a small element of moral choice as well as the portrayal of the consequences of such. But I also think that the factor of fighting Nazis is an extremely satisfying story element in itself, as has been demonstrated by id Software many times before.

Originality – 6/10

As I alluded to in regards to the control scheme, The New Order doesn’t really revolutionize the genre in any specific way, it is unique in the respect of how closely Machine Games have stayed true to the source material of its classic Wolfenstein predecessors games in terms of gameplay. With re-vamps of old series’, that’s not an element normally found. For example, the latest Tomb Raider game has more or less completely reinvented the entire series. But with The New Order, it actually feels a lot like a classic Wolfenstein game, but with some modern first person shooting elements added to it at the same time, such as the weapon selection wheel for instance.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Wolfenstein: The New Order is good for two playthroughs, making for about 12 hours of entertainment. I do think it could have done with a bit of an extra push, but it is still a fairly entertaining game, and much better than many other shooters currently on the market.

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Watch Dogs (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows & Wii U)

Developer(s) – Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher(s) – Ubisoft

Designer – Danny Belanger

Producer – Dominic Guay

I think the best way to describe Watch Dogs is as an open-world Grand Theft Auto-Assassin’s Creed hybrid. It’s a game that requires the player to unique use the city as their weapon; having control of things like bollards and traffic lights to catch criminals and to escape from police, or using the player character’s smartphone to access bank accounts or attain their personal details; information is power, after all. But especially after two years of waiting, I was unfortunately less than impressed by the now best-selling game in the UK.

Graphics – 7/10

Don’t get me wrong. Watch Dogs has some of the most brilliantly detailed visuals of the modern gaming generation; especially on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The problem I found was that there was nothing standing out in the conceptual sense. And the way I see it, having extremely advanced visuals can mean much less than as may be advertised if no creativity is put into the conceptual stage. Indeed, its by that token that I prefer the visuals in Ubisoft’s Child of Light than the visuals in Watch Dogs. To me, this is one of these situations. I’d say the most standout things about the visuals in Watch Dogs is how unique the city is displayed on the map; how it’s been made to look something a lot like an internal computer network. This technique has also been used in a lot of the cutscenes in the game, which does add a bit to the overall atmosphere of the game, but otherwise, there’s nothing else to differentiate it from most other games like it, unfortunately.

Gameplay – 6.5/10

Watch Dogs is a game that has story missions, side missions, and plenty of extra curricular activities thrown in for good measure, and it will make for a decent gaming experience for people who are able to get into it. But I wasn’t able to get into it. Normally, I can tell whether or not I’ll enjoy a game after playing it for about an hour or ninety minutes, but I’d been playing Watch Dogs for roughly three hours, and I found it nigh on impossible to get into. To me, it just seemed to start off very slowly and not pick up momentum like I believe a game should do in its early stages. This has been a recurring problem for me in the seventh generation in particular; with games that people have told me they believe to be classics, such as Red Dead Redemption and Fallout 3. The way I see it, Watch Dogs is a fresh new example of this; a game that will be viewed by many as being excellent, but one that I have too much difficulty gaining enough interest in to play it for any extended amount of time.

Controls – 8/10

Incorporating a gaming formula that has been long-since perfected, Watch Dogs plays out simply enough for the most art, but the biggest problem I found with it was that there are far too many menus, and by that token, it seemed to me that there was just far too much to have to keep track of whilst playing. To an extent, it reminded me unsentimentally of Fable III; though Watch Dogs is far less complicated than that, I can assure. But the thing is, as the hacking mechanics in this game are very much new to gaming, there was inevitably going to be an element of trial and error, so maybe if they were to simplify it for a possible sequel, it may make for a better game than this. But still, other than that, there are no outstanding problems.

Lifespan – 10/10

Watch Dogs’ lifespan is something I mustn’t fault it for. Regardless of how little I think of how this game plays out, it will easily make for at least 60 to 70 hours of gameplay, given everything that there is to do. One thing is for certain; those who find this game easier to get into than I will be rewarded, as there are many collectibles, many side missions and even additional missions to do when playing the game online, which to my excitement, seems to be a recurring thing in games these days.

Storyline – 3/10

The story of Watch Dogs involves a vigilante and hacking expert named Aiden Pearce, who is out to find the people responsible for the unintended death of his niece instead of him. At first, it may sound like a half-decent story of revenge reminiscent of many Steven Seagal films, but unfortunately, it doesn’t really develop into anything more than that. I know because I took the liberty of finding out what happens before playing through the game. I look at it in the sense that the story wasn’t particularly gripping from the start, and from my own point of view, I don’t think I would have been missing much. But the most annoying thing about the story has been another recurring problem found in games like Final Fantasy XIII, for example; when events are moving at a rate, which doesn’t allow for players to think about what’s actually happening. It all just happens regardless.

Originality – 4/10

In reality, other than the hacking mechanic and the whole computer network-styled visuals found in the menus and some cutscenes, there’s not much else to make to stand out among other open-world games. There are a few Easter eggs I was able to find darted around, but what open-world game doesn’t include an Easter egg or two? There were no other unique things I could find apart from these to point out, which was particularly disappointing for how much this game was hyped for so long.

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Niiutral

Overall, I think Watch Dogs will only work with a specific kind of audience, and it doesn’t really have the full potential to appeal to everyone. It’s not one of the worst games I’ve ever played, but it’s by no means one of the best either. Maybe if I were to revisit it in the future, I could have a slightly different opinion of it, but so far, Borderlands has been the only game to be good enough for me to play for an overly long time until it started to pick up.

Score

38.5/60

6/10 (Average)

Warframe (PC & PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) –Digital Extremes

Publisher(s) – Digital Extremes

Artist – Michael “Mynki” Brennan

Warframe is an online free-to-play third-person shooter, made in roughly the same vein as Metal Gear Rising, but with considerably less swordplay involved, and more detailed graphics. At first, I had scepticisms that this game would prove to be pretty straightforward and generic, but after playing, I was proven somewhat wrong, since there elements of it that seemed to have influenced some of the biggest games to have come out in the eighth generation so far.

Graphics – 7/10

The visuals are pretty well done for a game developed by a third party, that came out upon the release of a new console; the level of detail is particularly impressive, and the conceptual design also has it’s strong points. For example, the wide variety of different warframes (the game’s variant on futuristic suits of armour), is extremely well though out, made even better with the facility of customisation. There are a few issues with the loading of textures, but for the most part, I was impressed with how well the game looks overall.

Gameplay – 7/10

The gameplay is also surprisingly varied, with a combat system consisting of not only third person shooting, but of swordplay, levelling up and the use of special abilities unique to each fighting class. The main thing I will criticize it for is it’s lack of side quests, since even games as linear as this have at least one of them; games like Gears of War and Uncharted. Nevertheless, the combat system is pretty addictive, and each level is quite varied in terms of how many main objective there are to do in each one.

Controls – 7/10

Unfortunately, there are a few issues with the game’s control scheme. One of which, and the most standout one in my opinion, is that the climbing mechanism seems to have been handled quite clumsily, since there are some climbs players will probably think should be made, and aren’t, creating issues of inconsistency. Another gripe I have is that it can be unnecessarily difficult to effectively execute certain special moves, including the Slash Dash, as it’s overly easy for CPU enemies to move out of the way. Another big problem I have with the game’s controls is that from time to time, the game’s main antagonist can pop up with voice messages, but at with time, the holographic image of his head takes up almost half the screen. I get that the developers did this to try and impose a level of fear within gamers, but for me, it’s much more of a hindrance than the developers intended. Otherwise, however, the games plays out smoothly enough.

Lifespan – 5.5/10

Taking all missions into account, including alert missions, the game can last up to 8-10 maximum. Even compared to games such as Gears of War and Uncharted (which though are among some of my favourite games of all time, they are far too short), this in an incredibly underwhelming amount of time for a game of its kind to last. Even if it is free, there are other games on both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade free not only to paying subscribers, but to anyone with an account, that can be made to last much longer.

Storyline – 6/10

The story behind Warframe is that the Tenno, a race of ancient warriors awoken from years of stasis, are plunged into war with three other races; the Grineers, the Corpus and the Infested. It’s particularly standard for a science fictions game, and there’s not a great deal present to differentiate from the likes of Gears of War or Halo. The only strong points I can highlight bout it is that the character of Captain Vor is very well brought to life by his respective voice actor, Kol Crosbie, and the character of Ordis does provide some basis in comic relief. It’s actually quite interesting to consider how similar both Ordis and the ghost from Destiny are; though Ordis provides a lot more personality in my opinion.

Originality – 6/10

There aren’t a great deal of games made in this manner that present such varied combat, but in terms of story and inclusion side missions, I think it does fall short of how unique a game it could have been if there had been more added to it. At the time of the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it would have been considered just a game to tide people over before greater and varied releases would come out, but for the people who chose to align with it beyond that point, I believe more could have been done to accommodate for them.

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Niiutral

In summation, Warframe is a better game than I expected it would be at first, but I’m still able to express too many concerns about it for me to consider it a classic, or even one of the better games on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One so far. There are a few hours of enjoyment to be had out of it, but after that, there’s not much cause for players to pick it up again, except maybe to play it on a harder difficulty.

Score

38.5/60

6/10 (Average)

Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Ubisoft Montpellier

Publisher(s) – Ubisoft

Designer(s) – Credic Barthez, Simon Choquet-Botanni, Jean-Francois Le Quere, Gregory Palvadeau, Yannick Patet & Antoine Tous

Producer – Bruno Galet

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a puzzle game developed by Ubisoft with the use of the same engine incorporated in the making of other games such as Rayman Legend and Child of Light, set in World War I, and told through a number of different perspectives, making for a ton of character development and a great story. However, whilst this may be the best thing about the game, it is also distinctively satisfying and enjoyable to progress through, unlike many different mainstream titles released in recent years.

Graphics – 7.5/10

The visuals are rendered in a cartoony style, somewhat reminiscent of Child of Light, though nowhere near as elegant or beautiful. Instead, they do an unexpectedly excellent job of portraying the horrors of war, and the squalid, horrific environments and conditions that soldiers and citizens alike had to contend with at the time, with documents even provided throughout each level of the game giving in-depth descriptions of such situations, as well as rundowns of what happened during the war at each stage of the game. Though I think the general art direction of the game does take a little of the seriousness out of the game at the same time, the game’s atmosphere and soundtrack outweigh this drawback well enough.

Gameplay – 7/10

The objective of the game is to simply get from point A to point B, all the while solving a multitude of puzzles and finding as many of the game’s numerous hidden collectibles as possible, using multiple playable characters, and even a German detection dog to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. To me, it’s much more unique and variable than most other conventional war games, which all seem to encompass the same objective; shoot everything in sight, capture and area, rinse and repeat.

Controls – 10/10

There are also no issues with the game’s control scheme, which whilst this was most probably to be expected as Ubisoft have worked with the same gaming engine on multiple occasions, the fact of the matter is this game’s control scheme works more differently than the other aforementioned games made with the same engine. It baffles me that so many different kinds of games with different art directions have been made on the same hardware to the point where I can’t wait to see what they possibly do next with it.

Lifespan – 5/10

The game can take around 5 to 6 hours to finish, which is fairly long for a linear game in this day and age, but not overly impressive. I think the developers could have encompassed a wider range of puzzles throughout each stage of the game, or maybe even another side quest along with the collection of hidden trinkets (for example, having the dossiers presented at the beginning of each level being collectible, but there isn’t such a feature, and consequently, the game is made to suffer to an extent because of it in my opinion.

Storyline – 9/10

After the declaration of World War I following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a German farmer named Karl is called up to fight and separated from his wife Marie and their baby boy Victor. Meanwhile, Marie’s elderly father Emile is called upon to fight for the French, when shortly after, he meets and befriends an American fighting for the French army named Freddie. Later on, a Belgian nurse named Anna joins Emile and Freddie along with a detector dog called Walt as they resolve to survive the war and find Karl to reunite him with his wife and child. The story focuses on such themes as love, friendship and the will to survive, and is portrayed in an extremely realistic manner, as well as in an elegant and emotionally charged one.

Originality – 7/10

Ever Since I first played this game, I’ve been hoping that more war games continue to defy convention like this game clearly has, and help them to go beyond being something encompassed into one single genre of gaming, which had already been long since established and refined before the arrival of overrated and generic series’ such as Call of Duty. With the way the market is at the moment, it seems unlikely, but innovation is always happening within the indie gaming scene, which gives me hope for the future.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Valiant Hearts isn’t one of the most engaging games I’ve ever played, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting ones to portray the themes and settings it does. Perhaps one day there may be a different war game released to more effectively provide entertainment, but this game does that far better than most other war games I’ve ever played.

Score

46.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Tower of Guns (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Terrible Posture Games

Tower of Guns is a Roguelike first-person shooter, with elements of many different games of its kind, including Doom and Borderlands. Expecting a simple run-of-the-mill shooter beforehand, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how excellent a game it is, giving testament to how far the indie movement has come since it’s recent establishment.

Graphics – 8/10

Making use of cel-shaded visuals and robotic enemies, not only is the game conceptually interesting, but the developers have cleverly made it suitable for a wide demographic, since there is no depiction of graphic violence. Whilst it could be argued that many of the different enemies are quite generic, the bosses are anything but that, ranging from robotic goats heads (a homage to the last boss in Doom II), from a room of spikes. The only gripe I have with the visuals is that the developers rushed to render them, since not only there are a fair few glitches, but when enough enemies appear on the screen at any one time, it can severely effect its frame rate.

Gameplay – 10/10

The game simply involves shooting through the many enemies that appear on the screen, and advance to the next level. The game also encourages exploration to a certain extent, offering items in hidden areas, which players must discover in a manner similar to either Doom or Duke Nukem 3D. There is also an endless mode, allowing players to play on for as long as they either desire, or as long as their abilities will allow them before they are killed. The amount of weapon variety in the game is also pretty impressive, with the player having to unlock each one through different means as they go, therefore providing even more replayability. Each room is also randomly generated, so that each playthrough also presents players with a new challenge every time.

Controls – 10/10

The game control scheme is definitely the most simplistic I’ve experienced in a modern-day first-person shooter, which to me, is like a breath of fresh air, having played a lot of first-person shooters with overly ambitious control schemes such as Brink, and to an extent, Destiny. It’s extremely straightforward, and most fans will be able to go from any other game in the genre to this one without skipping a beat. It would also serve as an excellent starting point to any gamers looking to get into the genre, but don’t know where to start.

Originality – 6/10

Though no other developers had ever thought of creating a Roguelike FPS before this, there is no denying that this game has it’s influences, such as Borderlands in it’s visual style, Doom in it’s basic premise of gameplay (indeed, FPS games today are still considered by old-school gamers to be Doom clones), and even Half-Life in its ominous soundtrack. However, in a market, which is now saturated by this particular genre of video game, its extremely difficult to make a shooter that stands out to any extent, and I think props are due to Terrible Posture Games for developing a shooter with this much replay value on a budget.

Deliirious

Deliirious

Overall, Tower of Guns is an exceptional title, and in my personal opinion, the best indie experience of the eighth generation of gaming so far. There have been many great indie games developed since Minecraft, and competition has become fierce, but if most games are as immersing as this, then indie games will prove to be even more popular in the coming years.

Score

34/40

8.5/10 (Great)

Titanfall (Xbox 360 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Respawn Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Electronic Arts

Director – Steve Fukuda

Producer – Drew McCoy

One of the most highly anticipated games of last year, Titanfall was supposed to be Microsoft ace in the hole concerning the Xbox One; the title that would attract more people to align with their system as opposed to the PlayStation 4. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, and for good reason in my opinion.

Graphics – 6/10

Compared with the conceptual design of many other science fiction games, it feels to me like the game is wanting, as to me, it looks like a watered down version of the game Hawken; marred down by element of both Call of Duty and Battlefield. The reason why it doesn’t lose too many marks in this category is because from a technical standpoint, the game is visually flawless. There are no glitches in site, and everything is extremely well polished.

Gameplay – 3/10

In a lot of ways, I can best describe this game as a middle finger to anyone who bought an Xbox One around the times of its launch. It was game eagerly anticipated for years, but ended up being overwhelmingly restricted in terms of gameplay, as not only is an Xbox Live subscription mandatory to play it, but there isn’t even a single player campaign mode; players having to instead contend with an online multiplayer campaign mode. Some would argue that Destiny was the same, but a PlayStation Plus subscription isn’t mandatory, and players can enjoy it whilst not having to pay an extra £40 on top what they paid for the game.

Controls – 10/10

There are no issues with the control scheme thankfully, since it ultimately plays out like any other run-of-the-mill first person shooter. Even when players embark in one of the titan robots, it plays out more or less exactly the same as it would if they were on foot. Whilst there may be no problems, henceforth why it loses no marks in this category, there’s nothing special about them either. It’s proof of how difficult it can be in this day and age to make an FPS that stands out among most.

Originality – 4/10

Because of the bog standard control scheme, and the visible lack of difference between playing on foot or in a titan, I don’t think for a second of Titanfall being the revolutionary game-changing title it was advertised as being at the time of its release. The restrictive gameplay makes it stand out somewhat, but for all the wrong reasons. To me, this title can be seen as not only vastly overrated, since it miraculously won over 60 gaming awards last year, but it can be seen as a lesson on how not to make a video game.

Angrii

Angrii

In summation, Titanfall is most definitely one of worst games of 2014. It’s one of many reasons to buy a PlayStation 4 as opposed to an Xbox One, and makes me think that if the developers want an entire franchise to spawn from this one wretched game, then making the sequel multi-platform should be the tip of the iceberg. Major improvements need to be made in every other aspect in my opinion.

Score

23/40

5.5/10 (Below Average)

The Swapper (PC, Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 & PlayStation Vita)

Developer(s) – Facepalm Games & Curve Studios

Publisher(s) – Facepalm Games

Writer – Tom Jubert

The Swapper combines elements of puzzle games and the 2D side scrolling open world aesthetics of a Metroidvania game. Me talking about this game in the same breath as the likes of Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night may make the game sound exciting, but even with the inclusion of semi-open world, it doesn’t even come close to matching the quality of the aforementioned examples.

Graphics – 10/10

The most praise I can offer this game is in its visuals; they are more or less flawless. There are no graphical glitches, the design of the settings is wonderfully unique and the attention to detail on the developer’s part is staggering. There is also very effective use of textures such as lighting and shadows to add to the overall atmosphere of the game. Though it isn’t a survival horror, there is a heightened sense of urgency throughout that perhaps the player will feel in a much more different way than in the likes of Resident Evil 4 or Silent Hill. The game’s visual concept does draw similarities with Dead Space in it’s character designs, but there are plenty more differences to make it stand out in at least this sense.

Gameplay – 5/10

One way in which the game doesn’t stand out, however, and the one aspect it should have done to attain the most important points in my opinion, is in its gameplay. Players have to solve puzzles throughout by duplicating the player character and swapping in between the duplicates to perform multiple tasks at the same time. There is also one side quests, which involves finding a series of terminals giving details of the game’s back story, as well as ten additional hidden terminals throughout the game. Taking into account the size of the in-game world, and the amount of space available to include additional content, I don’t think there is anywhere near enough substance in gameplay compared to what could have potentially been added, and there is hardly any incentive for completing the game’s one side quests unless you happen to be playing it on a PlayStation console; in which case, there are PlayStation trophies to collect for each hidden terminal found.

Controls – 10/10

As a formula long-since perfected, there should have been no issues with the control scheme in any case, and so there aren’t. But it is also interesting to see how the developers have added some interesting gameplay mechanics to the 2D side-scrolling formula.

Lifespan – 1/10

Due to it’s lack of substance in gameplay, and it’s main focus being put on story (indeed, where there is normally a director and producer listed on most video game Wikipedia pages, there is only a writer on the Swapper’s page), this title can only be made to last two and a half hours tops, which, especially for an open-world game, is unacceptable. Since there was clearly room for so much more to be added, it seemed to me like that much more of an incredibly fleeting experience.

Storyline – 7/10

In a time when humanity’s natural resources on Earth have been exhausted, and they have resorted to deep space exploration to keep themselves alive, the story of the Swapper follows a person who lands on the planet Chori V and investigates a derelict ship called the Theseus. But in typical science fiction fashion, he/she ends up finding more than what they bargained for, and the unnamed person resolves to escape the ship with his/her life, and from the watchers; a murderous race of minerals with rudimentary intelligence, who had killed the initial crew of the Theseus. The story is interesting to follow from beginning to middle, but although I wont give away what happens at the end, I will say how I felt so jaded by it. There is a choice for the player to make at the end, but either way, it makes the story seem ultimately pointless. If the player makes one out of the two choices, another character even closes the game wit h the line “does it really matter anymore?” It makes me hope that there will be a sequel, albeit with major improvements to gameplay, that will elaborate on the game’s mythology. Otherwise, I think the developers may very well have ended up shooting themselves in the foot by making other gamers feel the same way.

Originality – 6/10

Despite the visuals of the game being top-notch in my eyes, and some standout modifications to the 2D side scrolling formula, in terms of overall gameplay, it seems neither evolutionary nor revolutionary. Great Metroidvania games have come and gone, such as Symphony of the Night and Aria of Sorrow, and even some of the latest generations have yielded a few, such as the re-vamped Strider and Dust: An Elysian Tail. But It’s fair to me to say that this title doesn’t fall under that category.

Angrii

Angrii

To summarize, The Swapper is a much worse game than I previously thought whilst broadcasting it on Twitch earlier this week. Despite being impressed by its visuals and attention to detail, I hadn’t realized how short and lacking in substance it was, and I always begrudge video games like that being released in the first place.

Score

34/60

5.5/10 (Below Average)

The Escapists (Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Team17

Different from anything Team17 have ever done before, I found myself fascinated with what The Escapists had to offer in terms of gameplay, but was disappointed to find how short a time one playthrough can be made to last. Set in a prison that the player must escape from with the aid of the other inmates, it also delivers an unusually light hearted and comedic portrayal of prison life.

Graphics – 7/10

The visuals are extremely reminiscent of games in the 16-bit era such as EarthBound or any of the original Pokémon games. Whilst it could be viewed as a step back from the more modernised visuals from Worms Revolution or even Flockers to a certain extent, they still work fairly well to portray the aforementioned light heartedness of the game’s overall atmosphere, and in turn, Team17’s subtly warped sense of humour.

Gameplay – 7/10

Overall, as well as being particularly different to most top-down 16-bit games of way back when, it’s also extremely satisfying to play for how short a time it can be completed in. There are quite a lot of side quests to do in between other missions allocated by other inmates. There is also quite a strong Minecraft influence throughout, as crafting items from collectibles is integral to the ultimate objective of the game, which is to escape the prison.

Controls – 10/10

As Team17 have worked with PC hardware since their founding, there is and never should have been no issues with the game’s control scheme; especially not with a game like this, since from what I can gather, must be one of the easiest control schemes to work on.

Lifespan – 4.5/10

As I mentioned earlier, for how much substance there is in gameplay, it is disappointing to think that one playthrough of this game can take an average of 7 hours to finish. I personally hate when a game’s lifespan outlasts it’s gameplay value. I encountered this many times throughout the seventh generation, with the release of such games as Batman: Arkham AsylumDeus Ex: Human Revolution; and South Park: The Stick of Truth. Considering that this game would also have taken considerably less time and effort to develop than any of the aforementioned examples, it just makes it that much more unforgivable.

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

Again, in lieu of the tradition set by the developers, The Escapists doesn’t have a fixed story, but only a basic premise, whereby the player character, pre-selected by the player before the start of the game, must find a way to escape the prison in which the game is set in. Though I think it would have at least been interesting to have some kind of back story added to it to again possibly add even more to the game’s comedic element, I was happy to see that the game wasn’t at least marred down by any attempt to create any kind of singular narrative.

Originality – 7/10

Though there have been countless top-down RPGs over the years, from Pokémon to EarthBound to Final Fantasy to Chronicles of a Dark Lord, there is something about The Escapists that does set it apart from the rest. It differs in a negative way, in how short a time it lasts compared to most others, but in a positive way in that the gameplay and the objectives involved are drastically different, and doesn’t feel quite as repetitive without not being addictive at the same time.

Happii

Happii

To summarize, The Escapists is a pretty good game, but could have done with lasting so much longer than it did. I feel that out of all the games that Team17 have made, whereby lifespan is largely non-applicable, I can’t help but feel that if the same had been applied to this title, in the form of some kind of endless mode perhaps, then it could have ended up being something particularly special.

Score

45.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)