Tag Archives: Sandbox

Q&A With Moebial Studios

Continuing on with my efforts to discover new and upcoming video games and sharing them with my readers, last week, I stumbled on another ambitious and exciting title in the works. Aquamarine, developed by Moebial Studios operating chiefly out of Yreka California, is an open-world underwater survival game influenced by an insanely wide array of different science-fiction games, comic books, and films and upon release will be boasting a wide range of gameplay mechanics including vehicular travel and upgrades, morality mechanics, unearthing secrets the world has to offer and wide-scale exploration (to name but a few), which players will have to take advantage of in order to survive in a beautifully designed outlandish underwater world that is the game’s namesake.

Already having reached the half-way point in their Kickstarter campaign at the time of writing, I reached out to the game’s lead designer Patric Fallon to find out more about this game and it’s breathtaking conceptual design as well as to unearth some facts about what games influenced this title and about it’s developmental process thus far. This is what Patric had to say about Aquamarine:

What were the influences behind your game? 

So many! We actually listed some of the main ones on our Kickstarter page. But everything from Lucasarts-style adventure games, to old-school roguelikes, to Dark Souls and Metroidvanias, to survival games like Don’t Starve and The Long Dark have influenced Aquamarine’s design. Aesthetically speaking, we’re pulling a whole lot from psychedelic sci-fi art of the ’70s and ’80s, as well as the comics and animated films of that time. Our core influence for the visuals is French artist Moebius, who’s been having a bit of a popularity resurgence in games lately.

What has the developmental process been like?

It’s been slow, sporadic, and long. Development is tough to do without funds of any kind, but developing while trying to raise funds is also tough. We’ve had some major team changes over the years as well, but once those were handled we finally could move forward at full power. Since planning for this new Kickstarter with our current team, development has gone swimmingly, and we’ve brought Aquamarine to new heights that even surprise me sometimes.

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

Our goal is to have development wrapped by Q4 2020. Many things can change about the game and its release during that time, but we’re making sure our Kickstarter backers will have access to what we’re making ASAP.

What has been the most exciting aspect of development? 

For me, it’s most recently been bringing together the current team we have now and seeing how well all of their work clicks together. Our new lead artist Leo d’Almeida is incredibly imaginative with color and concepts, and our new composer Thomas Hoey is massively talented at evoking a mood and fleshing it out through a composition. All of that coupled with my designs and our animator Drew Brouillette‘s eye for movement and detail has been so satisfying to see come together.

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?   

At this point, the only real challenge has been funding. No one works for free, nor should they, and so self-funding development ahead of this Kickstarter has been difficult. I had to uproot myself from living in Brooklyn, NY, for 8 years to move to a tiny Northern California mountain town in order to be closer to family, save money, and finish Aquamarine’s development.

What has been the most frustrating aspect of development?   

I’m not sure if there have been any major frustrations yet, but it can occasionally be problematic that our team is spread around the world in different timezones. But that’s really more about me wrestling my own brain about maximizing this, that, or the other. The truth is that everyone working on Aquamarine is reliable, professional, and above all else EXCITED about making the game. Nothing frustrating about that at all. 

Something I’ve noticed about the game is the comic book art style. Were there any comic book series’ in particular that influenced this game?

Absolutely! In fact, I don’t think the game would exist at all if it weren’t for Moebius’s comic anthology The World of Edena. It’s such a beautiful and ground-breaking book that reading it immediately made me think, “How in the world is there no video game that looks like this? Or feels like this?” That’s how this whole thing began.

In terms of gameplay, how have you and the team been working to deliver a relaxing experience whilst having been influenced by some of the most action-packed games ever developed like Metroid and Castlevania?

Well, we’re essentially talking about two different aspects of game design: overarching design concepts vs. moment-to-moment action. Many of Aquamarine’s overarching design concepts come from my love for Metroidvania and Soulslike games, such as open-ended exploration, little to no hand-holding, item-locked progression, a single currency to collect and spend, and so on. But our moment-to-moment action comes from different genres, such as classic roguelikes, point-and-click adventures, and turn-based tactics games. Having a slower, more contemplative gameplay loop allows us to explore these mechanics from more action-y titles in a different way.

How well has the game been received so far? 

I think we’ve had nothing but positive reactions so far since the Kickstarter launch, and it just keeps ramping up every day. And back when we were showing off super early versions of the demo, people were intrigued by the design ideas we were experimenting with. We even got a snazzy write up in PC Gamer Magazine in early 2019. We’ve also been approached by a handful of publishers and tons of fans curious about getting involved with Aquamarine in some fashion. I think that response will only continue to expand once we reach people who still don’t know we exist.

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

Currently, we are looking only at PC, Mac, and Linux, simply because that’s been my bread and butter for years. But I’m absolutely interested in what a console port of Aquamarine might look like and will be exploring that possibility if/when the time is right. I think Switch would be our first move on that front.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this? 

Follow what you care about, not what everyone around you seems to be interested in. I think it’s far too common for game makers to want to capitalize on a trend or make something that’s easy to explain to the majority of gamers. But that’s always a quick way to become another generic title in an ocean of generic titles and lose yourself in the process. Only by sticking to your passions will you make something true to yourself and not get burnt out as you go through the difficult journey of actually making it.

Do you have anything else to add? 

Please check out our Kickstarter and consider backing us. We’re over halfway to our goal!

As well as checking out their Kickstarter page, you can also visit Moebial’s social media platforms via the links below:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/moebial?lang=en

Tumblr – https://moebial.tumblr.com/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/aquamarinegame/

The game’s Kickstarter campaign is continuing to gather momentum and you can help bring the project to life by donating towards the goal. Aquamarine is most definitely a game worth backing and I can’t wait until it’s release to see what kind of experience the finished product brings. As always, I hope you guys had as much fun checking Aquamarine out as I did and hopefully the title will gain enough momentum to be successfully backed before the deadline.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer88

Dishonored 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)

Developer(s) – Arkane Studios

Publisher(s) – Bethesda

Director – Harvey Smith

Designer – Dinga Bakaba

PEGI – 18

Developed primarily at Arkane Studio’s Lyon branch, and released in late 2016, Dishonored 2 was released later last year to critical acclaim, with player and reviewers citing major improvements made over the first game; most of which concerning the game’s difficulty, as many players opinionated that the last game seemed too easy. Personally, I agree that the sequel is better than the original game in almost every respect, and whilst the gameplay wasn’t structured as well as I believe a Dishonored game has the potential to be, it was more than a worthy sequel.

Graphics – 9/10

Taking place in a new city away from Dunwall known as Karnaca, there are many new aspects of conceptual design added to expand upon the series’ mythology, as well as an overhaul of graphical quality, making the game just as compelling and wonderful too look at as the first game; if not, more so. There are new machines to have to contend with besides the tall boys, and a new set of city streets and buildings to navigate through and discover new secrets and vantage points. The second game also seems even darker than the original, giving it more of a gritty feel to it appropriate for the feel of the story. The setting of the Void is where this aspect of the game seems most prevalent as the Outsider is also portrayed as a much darker character in himself.

Gameplay – 9.5/10

This time round, the player is given the option to select from two characters from the start of the game, both with their own unique set of abilities; there’s Corvo Attano, the protagonist of the original game and the empresses royal protector, or Emily Kaldwin, the empress of Dunwall. The game itself is also structured very similarly to the last, taking place in a semi-open world and offering players the option to either take a stealthy approach or run rampant and kill every enemy standing in the way. The game also presents the option of going the duration of it without killing a single person. The best thing about this game is that the character choice not only offers a new dimension of gameplay with so many new powers and options to experiment with, but it also gives it even more replay value than the first, warranting at least four different playthroughs. So even though it didn’t offer a completely open world, which I think can be implemented very easily in a game like this, there is plenty of replayability to be had making for a fairly long gaming experience.

Controls – 10/10

As with the previous game, there are no issues with its control scheme, despite the fact that there are more options and abilities available. It’s actually quite impressive how the developers have managed to incorporate so many new features whilst at the same time keeping the fundamentals of the game to a perfect standard. Keeping a control scheme unique in a gameplay perspective that has also taken and maintained prominence throughout the industry for almost twenty years also makes it seem even more impressive in my opinion.

Lifespan – 7/10

Each individual playthrough lasts about as long as it did in the first game, clocking in at around 20-25 hours, which for me, was mildly disappointing, as a game like this can have a campaign that can be easily made to last longer. However, the game’s lifespan is in its potential replay value, of which there is a great deal of for those willing to delve deeper into the game. So whilst it may not have the lifespan that a Dishonored game could have, it still has a great of longevity attached to it, and will make for hours upon hours of entertainment.

Storyline – 7/10

The sequel to Dishonored takes place fifteen years following the events of the original game. Whilst Emily Kaldwin has long since been installed as the rightful empress of the city of Dunwall thanks to Corvo, the empire has prospered, but it has not been without challenge. A serial murderer knows as the Crown Killer is murdering enemies of the state left, right and centre, and has led many in Dunwall to believe the Crown Killer is Emily herself. Whilst Corvo and Emily are attending a remembrance ceremony for Emily’s mother Jessamine, a powerful witch named Delilah Copperspoon is introduced to Emily, and claims to be her older half-sister and rightful heir to the empire. Whichever character the player chooses at this point manages to escape Dunwall, whilst the other is subdued by Delilah, who usurps the throne, and the player character is tasked with putting an end to Delilah’s regime and rescuing either Corvo or Emily depending on the character’s choice. Whilst I thought the game’s story was not as suspenseful as the last, since there is not as much of a elaborate twist to it, it still has the same level of political intrigue, and just as much emotional charge; especially as this time round, Corvo is given a voice as opposed to being confined to the role of the silent protagonist.

Originality – 7.5/10

Though the structure of the game remains relatively the same as it’s predecessor, the formula is kept fresh enough with the introduction of so many new features and abilities added. It’s most definitely evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, expanding on what was already good about the first game with the exception of the story. In my opinion, it does still leave room for both improvement and development in the event of a possible third game, but having played through both, I would welcome a third with open arms. The second game cemented the fact that both the concept and mythology behind the series is more than worth further expanding upon still.


Overall, Dishonored 2, whilst not being exactly the sequel I had hoped it would be, still present massive improvement upon the first game. It’s enjoyable and lengthy with a decent story, and plenty of gameplay options to match; well worth one playthrough at the bare least.



8/10 (Very 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

PEGI – 18

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.



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.



6/10 (Average)

Terraria (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation Network, Windows Phone, Wii U, Android & iOS)

Developer(s) – Re-Logic, Engine Software & Codeglue

Publisher(s) – Re-Logic, 505 Games & Spike Chunsoft

Programmer – Andrew “Redigit” Spinks

Producer – Jeremy Guerette

PEGI – 12

Terraria is a 2D platforming sandbox game, whereby the idea is to explore a huge open environment (including underground), build a house to accommodate non-playable characters such as a merchant, a demolitionist and a nurse, and to fend off waves of hostiles that try to attack either the player or their house. Whilst it is very addictive in gameplay and lasts only as long as player interest, there are other faults which hamper the game to an extent, but nowhere near the extent to make it unplayable; by any stretch of the imagination.

Graphics – 6/10

Visually, this game is a nice throwback to the era of both the SNES and the Mega Drive, as it’s rife with 16-bit sprites and environments. The main concern I have regarding the graphics is that whilst it may seem unique to a lot of younger gamers, as they may not have played games from the 16-bit era, older gamers may not be so smitten by the visuals, as there is not that much unique about it in a conceptual sense. Most of the enemies found in the game pretty generic and typical, including zombies, vampires, skeletons and even slimes, which have been a stable element in the Dragon Quest series for years. The most unique enemies in the game are without a doubt the demon eyes, which are floating eyeballs that attack people. Even the Wall of Flesh, the hardest enemy in the game, doesn’t seem overly original compared to other monsters of its kind that have been seen in video games prior, such as Melchiah from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver or the Mother Brain from Metroid. For the most part, the enemies are pretty typical, but nevertheless, the 16-bit graphics are nicely rendered and to an extent, I could appreciate that the developers were trying to make the game stand out from a graphical point of view.

Gameplay – 8/10

The fact that the game’s conceptual design is pretty weak doesn’t at all change the fact that it is an absolute joy to play once players become immersed. I is extremely addictive, and it can obligate players to continue playing, whilst they may not be making progress in the conventional sense; a gameplay element very reminiscent of The Elder Scrolls series. However, it will take some getting into. A lot like Minecraft or Don’t Starve, it’s not strictly self-explanatory. I would recommend getting tips on how to play it effectively before trying it. At first, I saw little point in carrying on with this game, as from first impressions, it seemed like things were moving to slowly. I then watched a few videos of people playing it and a few tutorials, and I decided to give it another go. Before I knew it, it was half past 2 in the morning. Although at first I struggled to understand exactly what this game had going for it in terms of gameplay, it grew on me, and I came to be impressed with what there was on offer. I have played very few 2D side scrollers that offer this level of exploration and freedom, and whilst its not a very original idea in general, I enjoy playing it.

Controls – 9.5/10

Another thing that initially annoyed me was the mechanic of building and mining in this game. It took me a while to figure out how to do it as effectively as possible, and I was about to run out of patience when I accidentally discovered that the analogue stick can be used to switch between two ways of building and mining when it’s pushed down. But as I said, I found that out by chance and it wasn’t self-explanatory. I guess by that logic, however, it would be much easier to play this game on a PC. But anyone reading this who is thinking of trying the game will now know, and there aren’t any other problems to address at all.

Lifespan – 10/10

As I previously wrote, this game will only last as long as player’s interest, and given this game’s level of addiction and variety, that should indeed be a particularly long time. There is no obligation to complete the main objective at hand, and players will be encouraged to make other form of progress in order to pass the time, such as building a bigger and better house. I, for example, have dedicated time to simply making an underground network simply to be able to explore the depths of the in-game world more easily.

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

One thing I tend to keep in mind whilst critiquing a video game is that not every game has to have a story in order for it to be good. Therefore, if a game doesn’t have a story, but didn’t necessarily need one, It won’t lose any marks and will attain a perfect score in that axiom of judgement. There is no point criticizing a game for not having an element that it didn’t need; and Terraria is certainly one of these games. When I reviewed Don’t Starve some time ago, I thought that it didn’t have to have a story at all; but the fact of the matter is that it’s there, and it’s just not elaborated on very much; and so it lost marks. But with Terraria, there is no story; nor did it need one. Therefore there is no need for it to lose marks.

Originality – 4/10

This is the aspect in which the game was left wanting in my opinion. As I said, although it is addictive and fun to play, the developer’s desire to incorporate uniqueness in the visuals with the 16-bit style wasn’t fully realized the way I see it, as it was pretty weak in conceptual design with few standout enemies or visual elements. It’s because of this that I’m sceptical that it would’ve stood out if the game was actually released in the 16-bit era.



In summation, aside from Terraria’s lack of visual uniqueness, and in terms of gameplay, whilst it does indeed borrow elements from Minecraft and the Metroidvania style of play, and therefore lacks the feel of a fully cohesive concept, it was still fun to play and one of the more addictive games I’ve played in recent times, and it’s definitely worth the very generous asking price attached to it.



7.5/10 (Good)

Lego City Undercover (Wii U)

Developer(s) – TT Fusion, Nintendo SPD & Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Designer – Lee Barber

Producer – Loz Doyle

PEGI – 7

Having wanted to develop a video game based on the Lego City toy line for quite some time, Traveller’s Tales agreed to work with Nintendo to bring Lego City Undercover exclusively to Wii U. Combining the familiar formula of most other Lego-themed video games with elements of the Grand Theft Auto series, it was met with positive reviews from critics, and it presented players with a moderately new twist on what they had been very much accustomed to from Lego games at that time.

Graphics – 8/10

To me, this game is a great example of how Lego in general can capture the imaginations of the people who either play with Lego (as I did when I was a kid), as opposed to many of the other Lego games, which were based largely on pre-existing intellectual properties, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. With Undercover, there are quite a few sly cultural references, and even some references to certain Nintendo games, but for the most part, the player can get a sense that very little can be off-limits in terms of conceptual design.

Gameplay – 9/10

Aside from the game looking great, it plays out great too. Outside the main story, there exist a multitude of different side quests to complete throughout a massive open world environment unparalleled with any of the more linear worlds found in most other Lego games. The amount of customization and variety on offer is also extremely impressive, since a wide range of abilities is needed to complete everything that can be completed. In lieu of Lego game tradition, replay value is also on offer, since players will also have to back to story missions with newly gained abilities to collect things they will have inevitably missed the first time round.

Controls – 10/10

Like in every other Lego game, the control scheme is also extremely simplistic, and easy to get to grips with. The use of the Wii U GamePad also offers a fairly unique twist on how open world games are normally played. For example, there exist side mission, whereby the player must use the GamePad to scan the TV in order to find criminal suspects before making an arrest. It is also used as a glorified Head-Up Display, containing a map and icons indicating where side quests are located.

Lifespan – 10/10

Since there is a ton of things to do in this game, it can easily be made to last up to 100 hours, which certainly makes it the longest Lego game ever developed. There’s a lot of open-world space in the game, and a lot of great use of it. The story mode will take the better part of 10 hours alone, but after that, the game will have only just begun.

Storyline – 6/10

The biggest drawback to this game is that the story isn’t particularly engaging in my opinion. It involves a police detective called Chase McCain, who is on a mission to capture a notorious criminal called Rex Fury. Other than the basic premise, there’s not that much present in terms of story. The only things that save it from being irredeemable is that there is a fairly strong comedic element, with cultural references all over the place, and a few clever little in jokes to accompany them.

Originality – 6/10

Though it is possible to differentiate this game from every other Lego game, since there were a few new features introduced, it doesn’t stand out against many other video games out there to any certain extent. The Grand Theft Auto element of it makes this even more obvious. I would describe it best as being evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, since it made innovation, but only in it’s own circle, and brought little new to the industry overall.



In Summation, despite Lego City Undercover playing out very familiarly compared to many other games, it is a very enjoyable experience, and worth every hour of playing. It’s another game that, to me, gives testament to how the Wii U is a better console than commercial figures show.



8/10 (Very Good)

Just Cause 3 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 & PC)

Developer(s) – Avalanche Studios

Publisher(s) – Square Enix

Director – Roland Lesterlin

Producer – Omar Shakir

PEGI – 18

Described by Avalanche CEO Cristofer Sundberg as 70% wacky and 30% serious, Just Cause 3 began development in 2012, and was released to positive critical reception in late 2015, containing new gameplay mechanics, and an open world with plenty of side quests and additional challenges. Although in the end I didn’t find it anywhere near as good as Just Cause 2 was, I still derived hours of enjoyment out of it, and appreciated it not necessarily for how much content there is in comparison with the second game, but for how much more reined the core experience is.

Graphics – 7/10

From a technical standpoint, this is the best-looking Just Cause game to date. The level of detail that was incorporated is staggering, and the variety in vehicle design is as impressive as it always has been in any instalment. My biggest criticism would be whilst the conceptual design isn’t woeful, and although there didn’t arguably need to be any improvement in this respect; I think it would have regardless been a nice idea to provide something a little bit different, since a lot of comparisons can be drawn between this game and it’s predecessor. The game is apparently set in a different region to Just Cause 2, but that doesn’t seem as evident as it perhaps ought to be.

Gameplay – 8/10

As I alluded to, the game’s core mechanics have been improved upon greatly; most notably in its combat system. Building upon what was introduced in Just Cause 2, players can now use the grappling hook in a much bigger variety of different ways, including the ability to tether multiple objects together with the grappling hook, as well as the introduction of the wingsuit making the skydiving mechanics a lot more fun and providing a new set of challenges with the side missions that require players to use it in order to complete. My biggest problem with the gameplay is a location in the game called Boom Island. It is the place in the start menu where players can mess around in as the game is being installed on whatever system it is being played on, but it’s also in the main game itself, and there is nothing to do on it much to my personal disappointment. Otherwise, however, there is still a fair bit to do in the game, and will keep players busy for a fair amount of time.

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control system has also been largely refined with both the introduction of the wingsuit, as well as the new ways in which parachute travel is handled. It personally took me some time to get used to it, but once it clicked, there were no problem to be had with it. It’s also much easier to use the grapple hook in this game than it was in Just Cause 2; in the respect of using it for both climbing and combat.

Lifespan – 10/10

Though it may not warrant for 100 hours of gameplay like Just Cause 2 did, there is still enough to do in Just Cause 3 to warrant at least 60 hours of gameplay, which is still many times longer than the average AAA mainstream experience. It did disappoint me a lot that it isn’t longer, as I would have rather sacrificed updated graphics for more to do in the way of gameplay, but Avalanche still managed to churn out an impressively long gaming experience, and I didn’t find myself being able to complain too much.

Storyline – 7/10

Rico Rodriguez is brought into the region of Medici to bring down yet another tyrannical rebellion fresh off from his endeavour against Baby Panay of Panau. I found myself thinking that the story was only slightly better than any other story in the Just Cause series. Although the basic premise is unmistakably identical to that of the last two games, it introduces a couple of new elements, such as the relation between Rico and his brother, as well as a more involved villain. Both Mendoza and Baby Panay were rarely seen, nor portrayed in any kind of interesting way, but Sebastiano Di Ravello is much less forgettable, being portrayed as what his intentions and practices would suggest; cold, calculating, sadistic and willing to stop at nothing to keep his grip tightened on Medici.

Originality – 7/10

The combat system in Just Cause 2 was revolutionary compared to that of the first game, and the developers did particularly well to keep it fresh in the third game with what new mechanics and improvements they implemented. Ultimately, I would have like an experience that improved on every single aspect of Just Cause 2 such as a bigger open world, more to do, a much better story and a greater lifespan, but clearly developer attention was focused elsewhere. To me, it stands out as being more evolutionary than revolutionary.



Ultimately, Just Cause 3, whilst not improving on every aspect of it’s predecessor, still makes for a long and enjoyable gaming experience. I find myself having to wait until Just Cause 4 is announced to see if the developers deliver the ultimate Just Cause experience, but this is certainly a welcome edition to the series.



8/10 (Very Good)

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, iOS & Android)

Developer(s) – Rockstar North

Publisher(s) – Rockstar Games

Programmer(s) – Obbe Vermeij & Adam Fowler

Producer – Leslie Benzies

PEGI – 18

Following on from the immensely successful Grand Theft Auto III, Rockstar decided to take the Grand Theft Auto franchise back into the 80s, and to Vice City, making for one of the most critically acclaimed games of the sixth generation, winning several gaming awards and being so far the only Western game to appear on Famitsu’s top 100 video game games of all time, ranking at number 76. Though I don’t consider games in the Grand Theft Auto series to be among my favourites, some of them are still very much worth playing, and Vice City is no exception.

Graphics – 8/10

Being a lot more unique than any of the previous games in my opinion, as well as providing a very realistic and vibrant take on the 1980s (giving players the option to ride vehicles like mopeds and Cadillacs), the in-game world is also very loud and colourful in stark contrast to the gritty atmosphere associated with most of the games in the series to come both before and after it. By proxy, a lot of the architecture in the game seems much less tacked on than in many other instalments, making the scenery stand out to an even greater extent.

Gameplay – 9/10

Though gameplay remains largely the same, with players being given the option to either advance the storyline or wreak havoc and get into as much trouble with the police as they possibly can before a full-scale manhunt breaks out to the point of the authorities having to chase you down with squad cars and helicopters whilst they’re riding a tank through the streets (speaking from experience), the major improvement to gameplay made with Vice City was the option to build an empire; to seize each establishment available to buy, and make as much money from doing so as possible. This aspect would be expanded upon even further in San Andreas, giving a Grand Theft Auto game more of an RPG feel to it, but in Vice City, it was like a breath of fresh air to me, since at this point, I was becoming somewhat weary of many of the series’ stables after the last three games.

Controls – 8/10

Unfortunately, I’ve always found issues with the Grand Theft Auto control scheme, and Vice City is no exception in this respect either. Typically, problems arise whilst trying to aim with guns and trying to throw grenades. Another gameplay mechanic I’ve always found to be over-ambiguous is the ability to shoot guns from vehicles, since it’s even harder to aim under those circumstances. It’s never a good idea to build upon existing control mechanics if the fundamentals haven’t been perfected yet. I cant say whether or not if these aspects have since been improved on following the release of Grand Theft Auto V, but at least other than these issues, there aren’t any others in Vice City.

Lifespan – 9/10

To accomplish everything in the game should take about 40 to 50 hours, which at the time was extremely impressive for a game of it’s kind. Around the time of its release, the only games to last as long as this did were usually RPGs, and for an action-adventure title to last this long was unthinkable. Ever since, there have been many other game made in the same vein; some of which being among my own personal favourites, such as Just Cause 1 and 2 as well as Batman: Arkham City.

Storyline – 7/10

Compared to every other Grand Theft Auto game I’ve played, I’d say the story in Vice City is by some distance the most interesting. It follows Tommy Vercetti, a loyal member and recently promoted capo of the Forelli crime family, who is sent to Vice City to oversee a major drug deal. The deal goes wrong as he the buyers are ambushed, with Vercetti and his associate Ken being the only two survivors of the attack. Later, Tommy informs the don Sonny Forelli of the situation and vows to recover both the stolen cocaine and money and kill those responsible. Tommy’s vendetta unfolds into a series of more convoluted events and circumstances, and makes for a classic gangster story reminiscent of the likes of Scarface and Goodfellas, made even more authentic by a pretty impressive cast of voice actors, including But Reynolds, Dennis Hopper, Danny Dyer, Gary Busey, Danny Trejo and Ray Liotta providing the voice of Tommy Vercetti.

Originality – 6/10

Though this game does ultimately play out like every other game in the Grand Theft Auto series, the developers managed to keep things fairly fresh by including a different art deco for the scenery and style, improvements to gameplay, maintenance of the long lifespan associated with Grand Theft Auto III and a half decent story. There have since been many Grand Theft Auto imitators (Just Cause even exceeding the quality of it in my opinion), but the 3D Grand Theft Auto games were worlds apart from the original three PlayStation games, and this game is in my opinion the second best out of them behind San Andreas.



In Summation, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is undoubtedly one of the better entries in the series, and introduced enough changes to hold my interest for quite some time. It would also go on to influence a great deal of some of the best games of the seventh generation, but it is also a gaming experience that still holds up to this day.



8/10 (Very Good)