Tag Archives: Shooter

Scouse Gamer 88 Fallout 3 Header

Fallout 3 (PC, PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360)

Developer(s) – Bethesda Game Studios

Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks

Director(s) – Todd Howard

Producer(s) – Ashley Cheng & Gavin Carter

PEGI – 18

 

Fallout 3 released in 2008 following a long dispute between Bethesda and Interplay over the rights to the franchise, was developed on the same engine as Bethesda’s previous seventh-generation hit, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but provided a very different take on the RPG genre, incorporating first-person shooting elements, as well as many of the gameplay elements from the original 2 Fallout games. Although I think the best of the Fallout series was yet to come following both the release of this game, and Fallout: New Vegas. The third game in the series is a moderately enjoyable title, despite the fact that it was such a radical departure from the original Fallout formula, (which in and of itself caused quite a divide between fans), and regardless of its flaws, still does fairly well to hold up.

 

Graphics – 9/10

In stark contrast to the world of Tamriel from The Elder Scrolls, Fallout 3, like in the original series, is set in the post-apocalyptic USA following a resource war fought between America and China, but the third is specifically set in a post-war Washington DC known as the Capital Wasteland. As such, several Washington landmarks are darted across the land, such as the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building, but the environment is heavily irradiated and the city is in ruins. The visuals of this game are its most striking feature, going beyond what Oblivion delivered on the technical level, and providing something that most RPG fans at the time wouldn’t have been accustomed to, since although the first 2 Fallout games sold relatively well among the circle of PC games in the late 90s, the series didn’t find its way into the top echelon of games until the release of this title. The entire atmosphere of the game is wonderfully dark and gritty, and a lot of the locations found around the Capital wasteland make the player feel things emotionally that they will not expect to feel going into it. 

 

Gameplay – 7/10

The game is an RPG first-person shooter hybrid; a lot like Borderlands without the use of cel-shaded visuals. Players level up using the SPECIAL system that had been perpetuated since Fallout 1, and experience points are also spent on improving attributes such as computer hacking, lockpicking, and proficiency in various different types of guns; again in a somewhat similar fashion to Oblivion’s character progression system. The game also has a new take on turn-based combat with the inclusion of VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System), which allows players to scan enemies and aim for specific parts of the body that may be more vulnerable than others in order to gain the upper hand in battle. 

Especially when the player becomes stronger over time, using VATS can feel extremely satisfying, and watching the cinematic kills has become a beloved feature of the series since. But besides this, there are a plethora of secrets, side quests, and different locations to discover throughout the Capital Wasteland that will have players hooked for many, many hours. What I would recommend is that players find a copy of the Game of the Year edition, since not only will they be treated to even more content, but this version also fixes the game’s biggest flaw, which is the inability to play past the end. 

 

Controls – 6/10

The biggest problem with this game, however, is its control scheme; especially in the early stages of the game. Because the player character is not yet necessarily proficient enough in shooting or accuracy, the lack of accuracy can become a particularly big problem; in some cases, even to the point where players may switch off early doors. It’s no wonder Bethesda later enlisted the help of id Software to hone the FPS mechanics with Fallout 4 because it is a big problem that presents itself in a very profound way in this title, especially given the countless amount of FPS games that came before it. Mercifully, the game gets better to play as the player character progresses level by level, but patience can potentially wear thin with some players as well. The Pip-Boy system can also take a little bit of getting used to at first, but that doesn’t pose anywhere near as much of a problem as the shooting does early on. 

 

Lifespan – 10/10

Given everything, there is to do in this game, and the DLC, it can take way beyond 100 hours to complete, which is long enough for any gamer to enjoy. It easily outlasts Fallout: New Vegas, since, in that game, there’s hardly anything to do in comparison, but it also greatly outlasts the original 2 Fallout games. It’s no wonder the fanbase was largely split down the middle when this game came out since despite being such a departure, there was plenty to enjoy with this game.

 

Storyline – 6/10

The story of Fallout 3 takes place 200 years after the US is destroyed in the nuclear war with China. The player character is an inhabitant of Vault 101, and after reaching adulthood, his/her dad James, voiced by Liam Neeson, leaves the vault, causing the rest of the inhabitants to descent into chaos. After being hunted down by the rest of the inhabitants, the player character is basically forced out of the vault into the harsh and unforgiving environment of the Capital Wasteland and resolves to find his/her father. It sounds simple in scope, but events later unfold into something far bigger when it’s discovered why James left the vault and the number of different factions that become involved in the situation, such as the Enclave and the Brotherhood of Steel. As well as being pretty compelling, it also stays remarkably true to the source material of the original games and provides players with a fairly engrossing experience in terms of story. 

 

Originality – 7.5/10

What makes Fallout 3 game as unique as it is are a lot of things, such as the different approach to first-person RPG combat, the contemporary settings not normal for an RPG, and the amount of controversy this game created at the time. It becomes obvious very early on that game goes places where other developers would dare not go at the time. Places such as the Dunwich Building and Tranquility Lane make for experiences that I’d never felt playing a game before, and several of the other vaults darted across the Capital Wasteland have their own sordid stories to tell. A majority of this game’s story is told through its lore, and it’s awesome to experience. 

 

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Overall, Fallout 3, whilst not in my opinion is the timeless classic that other gamers tend to praise it as, is still a very enjoyable gaming experience, and in my opinion, better than the original Fallout. It’s not the best entry in the series (in my opinion, that would be Fallout 4), but it’s still a very respectable entry despite its flaws, and one of the more unique western RPGs ever developed. 

Score

44.5/60

7/10 (Fair)

SG88 Super Metroid header

Super Metroid (Super NES)

Developer(s) – Nintendo R&D1 & Intelligent Systems

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Yoshio Sakamoto

Producer(s) – Makoto Kano

PEGI – 7

 

Released in 1994 coming up to the twilight years of the Super NES, and finding critical acclaim worldwide and commercial acclaim mainly in North America, Super Metroid is considered to be one of the most influential games of all time, as along with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it helped to pioneer the so-called Metroidvania genre of games; the 2D side-scrolling open-world experience focused on combat, epic story, and exploration. I decided that as I’ve now reviewed a great number of games in the genre, that I’d examine the game where the groundwork was laid, and find out whether or not the experience still holds up to this day, and for me, it did not disappoint. 

 

Graphics – 10/10

One of the most standout features of the game is undoubtedly its beautifully crafter 16-BIT visuals with the game taking place across a number of locations that have since become iconic and synonymous with the Super NES era, including Brinstar, Norfair, and Maridia. This game’s visuals have gone on to inspire a number of retroactive indie titles over the last decade such as Blasphemous and Axiom Verge, and not just Metroidvania titles. For the time, these graphics were revolutionary, and the accompanying soundtrack, composed by Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano, perfectly compliments the wonderfully horrific atmosphere this game perpetuates throughout, which in and of itself, was very much out of character for a Nintendo game at the time, as most Super NES titles, for the most part, focused on happy-sounding music and brightly colored environments.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

Super Metroid followed the basic model of the original Metroid, but with drastic improvements. Players could now combine different types of weapons to create more powerful ones, and the boss fights littered throughout are far better throughout. There’s even more cause for exploration that in the original game or Metroid 2: Return of Samus, and it also comes with the synonymous Metroidvania map system; something which was sorely lacking from the previous two games, and something which every other Metroidvania title would adopt in increasingly innovative forms from then on. Few side scrollers at the time encouraged exploration to the extent that this game did, and it was a welcome breath of fresh air for those who got the chance to play it back in the day. 

 

Controls – 8/10

The game’s control scheme, however, isn’t perfect. Whilst most Super NES games used the Y and B buttons for attack for primary movement and combat controls, this game uses the X and A buttons for that purpose, and among Super NES fans, this will have caused some confusion for players back when it was released, and can still potentially cause confusion for modern-day players looking to play it for the first time, as indeed I found, since I wasn’t introduced to this game back when it was released. Kind of like Metroid Prime, it can take a bit of time for players to get used to initially. What the developers did add in terms of controls, however, was the facility to shoot diagonally, which again, was sorely lacking from the original games, and furthermore included in the re-release of the first; Metroid: Zero Mission for the Game Buy Advance.

 

Lifespan – 7/10

A thorough playthrough of the game can take an average of around 4 hours, which is about an exceptionally long amount of time for a game to have lasted back in the days of the Super NES. Although the game can be completed within half an hour (indeed, as this title has become particularly popular among speedrunners), it’s not a game that’s designed to be rushed through, and whilst it may sound like a paltry amount of time for a game to last compared to what gamers are used to these days, it was relatively unheard of at the time and most fans of the game have ended up playing it multiple times throughout the years anyway. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

Taking place in the latter stages of the Metroid timeline, the alien lifeform (the Metroid) that bounty hunter Samus Aran had recovered from planet SR388 at the end of Metroid 2: Return of Samus, had been delivered to a research facility by her for further study. But shortly thereafter, the space station is attacked by the leader of the Space Pirates, Ridley, who then captures the Metroid specimen and takes it to the nearby planet Zebes, and Samus is in pursuit of him. The game is also a lot more cinematic than games of the previous generation; the game’s opening cutscene, in particular, has become an iconic moment in Super NES history. It’s also among one of the earliest examples of how gameplay sequences can be used to build up tension within the confines of the story, as there are sequences whereby Samus must escape from certain places within a designated time limit before it explodes. 

 

Originality – 10/10

There is no understating how unique and influential this game was back in the day. Any game from which an entire genre is created stands out as being among the most influential of all time. Doom gave birth to the first-person shooting genre, Rogue paved the way for the Roguelike genre and Super Metroid was the primary pioneer of the Metroidvania genre; even Castlevania: Symphony of the Night adopted several gameplay elements that this game had first. 

 

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In summation, as well as being one of the most influential video games of all time, Super Metroid also stands out as one of the best titles on the Super NES and is an experience that still holds up and one that I would highly recommend. Regardless of the issues, I may have had with the controls, the immersive gameplay, wonderfully rendered graphics, and engrossing story more than make up for it. 

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Enter The Matrix Header

Enter the Matrix (PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube & Xbox)

Developer(s) – Shiny Entertainment 

Publisher(s) – Infogrames

Director(s) – The Wachowski Brothers

Designer(s) – David Perry

ELSPA – 15+

 

Set during the event of the second film The Matrix Reloaded and directed by the film’s original directors, Enter The Matrix was released to mixed critical reception but performed very well commercially at the time. Personally, this is one of those games that to me is extremely enjoyable to play, yet gamers and critics seem to hate it for unjustified reasons. A lot of critics at the time commented that both the game and the film were devalued as a result of the release of the game, but I disagree; I enjoyed the film and the game in equal measure and I still do.

 

Graphics – 9/10

On a technical level, the visuals were cutting the edge at the time, and they more than adequately hold up this day in comparison with any other sixth-generation titles. There is the odd graphical glitch here and there to prevent it from receiving a perfect score for visuals, but they are few and far between; the best port in terms of this would be the Xbox version. In terms of conceptual design, it’s exactly what people who have watched the films can expect. It’s dark, gritty, and takes place in many locations that are in the film itself, as well as a few new locations added for good measure. 

 

Gameplay – 7/10

Enter The Matrix is a third-person action-adventure that’s heavy on hand-to-hand combat as well as gunplay. If I would have to compare it to any other game, it would most like be Max Payne, as it plays out quite similar to the former. Again, it’s exactly the kind of game that people familiar with the films can come to expect in terms of gameplay as well. Players can instigate slow motion to their advantage similar to show the film is shot and they have a variety of different weapons and combat abilities at their disposal throughout. There are also car chasing sequences whereby players either have to control the car or shoot from the window to fend off enemies, depending on which character they are playing as. There are two-story arcs to experience within the game, which gives it a fair amount of replay value in addition. 

 

Controls – 8/10

The biggest issue with the Controls in terms of the targeting system. It’s supposed to work in a similar fashion to Ocarina of Time, but as it’s meant to be instigated automatically, it can cause issues with things like hit detection. But otherwise, the control scheme is handled as well as what was needed. I certainly didn’t have as much of a hard time as many other gamers and critics seemed to have. 

 

Lifespan – 5.5/10

Enter The Matrix can be made to last about 6 and a half hours, which for a linear action game isn’t too bad. If comparing to Max Payne in this respect, it falls short, as the former could be made to last around 20 hours, but for those looking to experience this game in full, there is plenty to do to keep things entertaining throughout. It didn’t perpetuate the standards that were met at the time in terms of Lifespan compared to many other games released back then, but it’s not as painfully short as many other games would in years to come either. 

 

Storyline – 8/10

The story takes place during the events of The Matrix Reloaded but told from the perspective of the member of the ship The Logos, led by Captain Niobe. She, along with her partner Ghost and their operator Sparks, are tasked with various missions in order to help Neo fulfill his destiny and bring about the end of the war between man and machine. The story is well written to the point that it feels almost like one massive deleted scene from the Matrix Reloaded. Jada Pinkett-Smith gives a solid performance as Niobe and the plot fits in nicely with the events of the second film. It all ties in to make for what is a very cinematic experience without it feeling too cinematic, like in many other games. 

 

Originality – 8/10

In terms of uniqueness, it’s exactly what fans of the film and come to expect in every respect, but the gameplay, despite the gripes that people may have with it, was enjoyable to a great enough extent and still remains so in my opinion. The combat system, though somewhat flawed, was unlike anything I’d seen prior to playing it. It stands out as a licensed game that was of a decent standard before the general standard of licensed games would be elevated with the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009, and in my opinion, very unfairly overlooked. 

 

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Overall, Enter The Matrix is a far better game than what people have given it credit for since its release. Though it has its problems, it’s an enjoyable game that ties in with the films flawlessly. 

Score

45.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Blasto Header

Blasto (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Sony Interactive Studios America

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment 

Designer(s) – Jonathan Beard

Producer(s) – Jonathan Beard & David Poe

ELSPA – 11+

 

Programmed by Star Fox lead developer Dylan Cuthbert and released in 1998 during the relative infancy of 3D gaming, Blasto is a third-person shooter whereby players take control of the titular character to save the galaxy from invasion from an alien tyrant; and apart from one or two elements about this game, it is indeed as generic as it sounds. There were a few things about this game that made me want to like it as I played through it, but unfortunately, there are too many faults with it that I couldn’t forego. 

 

Graphics – 7/10

Undoubtedly, the best thing this game has to offer is its conceptual design. On a technical level, this was far from the best-looking PlayStation game of 1998; but the in-game world is wonderfully colorful throughout and gets progressively darker as it goes on. The game soundtrack is also very orchestral and well put together. Composed by Syphon Filter veteran Chuck Doud, it’s the soundtrack is as wonderfully dramatic as the likes of Jet Force Gemini or Kurushi. 

 

Gameplay – 6/10

The game is a linear third-person shooting 3D platformer whereby players must destroy hordes of aliens, solve puzzles to progress, and rescue beautiful women along the way; like a downgraded version of Duke Nukem 3D if you will. The game is left a little bear for one that lasts the length of time that it does, which for the time of its release was quite long, especially for a linear game, but it was made intentionally hard, which for a game with bad controls, is never a good thing. Variety is to be had to an extent with a wide range of different guns to discover throughout the game, but not enough variety in enough respects to warrant it lasting as long as it does.

 

Controls – 5/10

Arriving at the issue of the game’s control scheme, it suffers from the same issue that a lot of 3D platforms had back in the day, which was that it wasn’t truly compatible with the analog stick, as the original PlayStation controller didn’t come with them. Movement is clunky at best, with the turning mechanics being laughably bad. The only saving grace the game has in this respect is the added ability to turn straight around in one fell swoop so that players don’t have to wait as long to turn a full 180 degrees; but even then, it’s still a massive problem. Another huge flaw the game has is the inability to access the map at will. The map is accessed through various pressure pads across each level and adds nothing to the game; it’s an unnecessary complication and should’ve been rethought before release. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

The game can be made to last five and a half hours for those who can get past the above issues; but for those who can’t like me, it may only last one hour at most. It’s all very well and good having a game that lasts a long time, but unless there’s enough to do within that time to keep it entertaining, the game won’t warrant players spending a great deal of time on it anyway. It really needed more to do, even for a game with a linear progression like this. 

 

Storyline – 6/10

The story follows Captain Blasto, voiced by the late Phil Hartman, who is assigned a mission to stop the alien tyrant Bosc from Invading the planet Uranus, thus putting down a galactic invasion before it begins. The name Uranus is naturally played for laughs at certain points in the game, which was hilarious back in the late 90s, but has since long outworn its welcome; unless played more subtly. But the best thing about the story is the energy that Phil Hartman brought to his role as Blasto, with funny quotes to listen to throughout gameplay. Phil Hartman was a consummate professional who was exceptional at what he did and he worked to his best within the confines of a very generic plot.

 

Originality – 6/10

Although the game may be one of the earlier examples of a 3D platformer at the time of its release, there had already been many other games in the genre that did more unique things than in this title. Compared to many of them, it still seemed generic even back in 1998. The only things stopping it from being even more generic were Phil Hartman’s performance and the conceptual design, but there was nowhere near enough to make this game stand with the best of the era in any respect. 

 

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In summation, Blasto was disappointing back in the day and has not stood the test of time. It has a couple of redeeming values, but nothing for it to be considered a classic. 

Score

37/60

6/10 (Average)

Shot in the Dark (PC)

Developer(s) – Possum House Games

Publisher(s) – Possum House Games

PEGI – Not yet rated (strong violence)

 

Release by indie outfit Possum House Studios based in Rochester, New York, Shot in the Dark is a western side-scrolling shoot ‘em up game whereby players must adapt to a black and white 8-BIT rendered universe (similar to Possum House’s previous title Heavy Is The Crown), in order to keep a sharp eye out to defeat oncoming demonic enemies that are hiding in the fog or in the night skies, ranging from gargoyles to undead gunslingers. Although I found a few faults with the game, I ended up enjoying it for the most part and appreciating it for its own unique take on the traditional 2D platformer genre.

 

Graphics – 6.5/10

The game makes use of 8-BIT visuals in black and world with specks of red; in conceptual design, it’s quite similar to MadWorld, which I was quite impressed by. The gripe I have with the visuals is that the character sprites, most notably the human or skeleton sprites, are made to look quite basic in comparison to many other 8-BIT rendered indie games, such as Cathedral or Alwa’s Awakening. To go along with the tableau of the game it may have been an idea to add grey colors to it to not only make the game more playable in general, as players are reliant on keen eyesight to detect enemies as it is but to also make more environmental features stand out to a better degree.

 

Gameplay – 6.5/10

The game is a 2D platformer similar to games developed during the third generation of gaming, with the difference being that it focuses on gun combat as well as precise platforming, with players having to shoot through hordes of enemies that are hidden across the level. The strategy the player must employ is to not rush through levels and instead keep their eyes peeled for enemies that roam each level and that are easily concealed by environmental features such as mist or skies. It’s kind of like how Super Mario Bros may have been if the idea was kept in for Mario to have a gun. But of course, this game provides its own take on that idea, and for the most part, it works relatively well. 

 

Controls – 7/10

The game’s control scheme was most definitely the biggest issue I had with this title. It’s designed to be played using a keyboard to input commands such as jumping, shooting, and reloading, and the mouse to aim the crosshair, but it doesn’t work all that well with a keyboard; it’s because of the fact that this was how the game was intended to be played that that doesn’t even work great with a traditional controller either. The reload system was put in to provide players with the added challenge of studying each environment to determine as and how they need to conserve ammo, but for the most part, it’s much more of a hindrance if anything. Since there’s no time limit to each level like a traditional platformer, mercifully, the game’s control scheme doesn’t make it unplayable, but needlessly frustrating at certain times. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

The game has a fair few stages to it, and it lasts around the standard amount of time for a game of its ilk to last; around an hour or two. There could’ve been some replay value to be added to it, such as unlockable features or a scoring system to give the player a little more to shoot for, so to speak, but I can’t bring myself to knock it too much in terms of lifespan since some of the greatest 2D side scrollers throughout the years have been developed to last there around the same amount of time. 

 

Storyline – 6/10

Again, like many games of the third generation, there is no standout story, only a basic premise. It would’ve done far better to stand out during the NES era, but since the western genre has been tackled in video games, particularly in recent years, it does relatively well to stand out in terms of story concept, but not overly well. The story makes me think of the game Darkwatch but in 2D.

 

Originality – 8/10

The main aspect in which this game does quite wek=ll to stand out in, however, as in its basic gameplay concept. There have been side scrollers reliant on gun combat before, but not quite like in the way it’s handled in this title. For all I’ve complained about it in this review, this game does have some redeeming value, and there is enough enjoyment for players to have to warrant at least one playthrough. 

 

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Overall, Shot in the Dark, despite the gripes I’ve addressed, is a fairly enjoyable game and worth playing through at least once. It will provide quite a stern challenge for the more avant-garde side-scrolling fan, and it has a distinctive charm to it in its own right.  

Score

40/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

SG88 Ratchet 7 Clank: Tools of Destruction Header

Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction (PlayStation 3)

Developer(s) – Insomniac Games

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Director – Brian Allgeier

PEGI – 7

 

Released shortly after the PlayStation 3 console back in 2007, Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction introduced gamers and fans alike to the Ratchet & Clank Future series, telling a new story following the events of the original trilogy. It has all the hallmarks of the previous two games, whilst introducing new locations, new characters, new weapons, and a new villain, which speaking as a fan of the series, left a long-lasting and positive impression on me personally. The best of the Future trilogy would be yet to come, but this game was an excellent way to kick it all off. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The game starts off in the same system as the first Ratchet & game, but it later introduces players to the galaxy of Polaris; a distant star system currently under the tyranny of Emperor Percival Tachyon, the game’s main villain. The game’s various different planets and moons offer players yet another wonderfully varied and well-designed world, which on a technical level, also did extremely well to demonstrate early doors just what the PlayStation 3 was capable of on the graphical level. The game’s soundtrack also wonderfully adds to the whole atmosphere of the game, going along with the tableaus of each planet’s respective theme.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

The gameplay follows very much the same formula as Ratchet and Clank 2 & 3 with the same controls and style of combat with the additional side quests to undertake in between. But what makes this game stand out is the new weapons and means of subduing enemies, as is the main hallmark of what makes each game in the series stand out from one another. This was also the game in which the developers introduced the Mr. Zurkon weapon, which in my opinion, is the best weapon in the entire franchise, and has since featured in most games following this. New gadgets are also introduced in order to solve new puzzles along the way, which also does well to add to the variety of the overall series. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The controls had been refined as necessary with the release of Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando, and as this game operates within the same principles, there are no issues with the controls as such, and really, there haven’t been any issues with the controls since. Tools of Destruction in particular, however, also makes use of the PlayStation 3’s six-axis controls, with players having to move the controller to instigate character movement, which in this game, is handled particularly well. 

 

Lifespan – 8/10

To complete the game 100% will take there around 20 hours tops, which at the time was about the average for a Ratchet & Clank game to last. The average lifespan of games in the Ratchet and Clank Future series would go on to fluctuate from thereon, with the lifespan of Ratchet & Clank: Quest For Booty being a major insult, and then Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time’s lifespan being legendary, then finally with Ratchet & Clank: Nexus’s lifespan again seeming far too short. But Tools of Destruction definitely represents a middle ground in that respect; It’s not too short but is the reason why the best of the Future series would be yet to come. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Tools of Destruction follows Ratchet & Clank in their adventure across the Polaris Galaxy in their bid to stop Emperor Percival Tachyon from taking over and bringing back his ancient race that once almost wiped out the entire universe. The game’s story is extremely compelling in that it focuses a lot on Ratchet’s backstory, and where exactly he came from, and the fate of his race and his family, which would be a running plot point in the entire Future series. There are a plethora of twists and turns in this respect throughout the story, but especially towards the end; without spoiling exactly what happens, this game ends on one of the most intriguing cliffhangers I’ve ever seen in gaming. 

 

Originality – 7/10

In terms of every respect of this game, from the new weapons, new gameplay tropes, new characters, and stories to the introduction of a side of Ratchet that gamers hadn’t ever seen before, the game does extremely well to stand out from not only every other Ratchet & Clank game but most other games on the PlayStation 3 in my opinion. For a game that was originally aimed at kids, it does deal with some mature and deep-rooted themes, which gives the game a boost because it perpetuates the whole idea that video games can indeed be considered an art form. 

 

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Overall, Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction is by far a better game than what I gave it credit for after my first playthrough; it was a great way to kick off the Ratchet & Clank Future series and still holds up as a particularly enjoyable gaming experience. 

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good) 

Scouse Gamer 88 Alien Scumbags Header

Alien Scumbags (PC)

Developer(s) – Monster Finger Games

Designer – James Ross

PEGI – Unknown (mature content)

The first title from Southampton-based studio Monster Finger games, Alien Scumbags is an 8-BIT sci-fi side-scrolling shoot ’em up survival horror game with light RPG elements, presenting a very balanced mixture of horror and comedy littered with references to classic games. I’d been following this title for some months before its release having drafted up first impressions article and interviewed the game’s principal designer James Ross:

https://scousegamer88.com/2020/05/09/alien-scumbags-first-impressions/

https://scousegamer88.com/2020/05/10/qa-with-monster-finger-games/

I’d been excited for the release of this game for quite some time and when it finally made the jump from its original platform on Game Jolt to Steam, I wasn’t disappointed.

 

Graphics – 8/10

The game is set on a spaceship gone dark named the Nostrami, which is infested with hostile alien lifeforms; the best way I can describe the overall feel of the game is it being an 8-bit version of Dead Space. Like the game Lone Survivor, it makes use of lighting despite its retro 8-BIT visual style. But in my opinion, this game makes better use of lighting than the former, as there is lighting from more sources, therefore making it look much more detailed and there much more atmospheric. 

The scenery design is also unprecedentedly varied for a game set in one location; there are not only references to other games scattered all over the place, but references to popular horror movies like Alien and It. The game’s soundtrack also accompanies the horrific atmosphere of the Nostrami particularly well in addition, making use of otherworldly synthesized tunes and sound effects designed to emulate the human heartbeat present in the first level. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

With a gameplay structure similar to Doom, players are tasked with blasting their way through hordes of alien enemies and uncovering secrets throughout each level, such as hidden areas, additional perks, and easter eggs. There are also multiple characters to unlock (again, modeled after iconic video game characters), with their own unique abilities, giving the game replay value since each character offers a new experience with every playthrough. It’s a survival horror with the vast majority of focus being on gameplay, which, unlike many in mainstream survival horror series’, does pretty well. 

 

Controls – 10/10

As the side-scrolling genre has been redefined and reinvented over many decades in gaming, the control scheme presents no issues in this title. It’s a very bread and butter style of play that both fans of retro gaming and newer generation players alike will be able to pick up and enjoy very easily without having to worry about the logistics of the controls. 

 

Lifespan – 8/10

The game’s lifespan consists of around 20 hours of gameplay, which goes above and beyond many classic side-scrolling titles that gained popularity throughout the NES era, but there is also new content being planned for the game in addition, as the game is still being tweaked and by the developers. In the future, depending on the game’s final lifespan when all content is released, then the game’s score may have to be updated, but even in its current state, 20 hours is an exceptional amount of time for a game of its ilk to last. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The basic premise of the game is extremely simple; board the Nostrami and take the ship back from the horde of aliens that have killed the crew and invaded the ship. There’s a comedic intro at the beginning giving the player the rundown of the situation, but where the game’s story truly lies is in its backstory that is discovered by the player as the game progresses, provided they can find the crew recordings scattered across each level. It adds a real layer of horror that players may not necessarily expect going into it, which provides that unique balance of scares and laughs that’s quite frankly unusual for a survival horror title. 

 

Originality – 7/10

Although the game is essentially one giant easter egg of references to gaming and to popular culture, its unique balance of comedy and horror certainly helps it stand out among many survival horror series to have been released throughout the years; all the while keeping the emphasis on what truly matters, which is the gameplay. I’ve been frustrated by games like The Last of Us, Journey, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which has shown promise and not delivered on what was expected of them as games, but with this title, you know exactly what you’re getting from the get-go, and what it delivers on is what players want. 

 

Happii

Overall, Alien Scumbags is an extremely enjoyable title; two-and-a-half-year labor of love that gamers old and new will not be disappointed with. It’s’ a scary, funny, and intense experience throughout and I can’t recommend it enough 

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Q&A With Liam Dehaudt

Whilst scouring the internet for new indie game prospects, I came across another title that caught my attention slate for release in the near future. The Meldstorm is a 2D side-scrolling rogue-lite with item synergy elements. Players will be able to customize their own weapons on the same level as games like Mothergunship and Fallout 4 with the game revolving around the player character (either a knight, rogue or sorcerer depending on the player’s choice) undertaking the deadly pillar trials; a series of tests requiring combat with an ungodly number of alien enemies and puzzles to solve. Wanting to know more about this game, I contacted its sole developer, Liam Dehaudt, and put forward to him a series of questions regarding how development has progressed and what players can expect to see when the game is fully released on Steam. Here’s what Liam had to say about The Meldstorm:

What were the influences behind your game? 

Risk of Rain influenced the item system but I wanted more deliberate combat (less but more powerful enemies) so I borrowed a lot from Gungeon’s enemy feel, except as a platformer.

What has the developmental process been like?

It’s fun, it started as a hobby but became a bit more. I’ve worked on a few projects before so this is like a test to put everything I’ve learned together. Of course, there are ups and downs but that’s to be expected.

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

I honestly don’t really know. I would have a few months of development left but since I just got a job it’s most likely going to be a while longer. Let’s say late 2020 to early 2021 but that’s a super vague guess.

What has been the most exciting aspect of development? 

Programming is my jam so making the big systems has to be my favorite part. I had a ton of fun making the mods interact with the weapons, and making a general system to create new weapons easily.

What has been the most challenging aspect of development? 

Marketing is tough and makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. I’m quite new to it so I’m learning a ton, but for now, I’m still pretty clueless.

What has been your favorite boss fight to have created so far?

The final boss is cool and pretty different. I got some cool feedback from Reddit that helped me make him look a lot cooler too. You get the first phase to learn his attacks, then he spices things up in the second.

How well has the game been received so far? 

People seem to like it. The few players I’ve had try it had fun. Like mentioned prior I am struggling with marketing which I think is slowing me down a lot but I think my current audience likes what I’m doing

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC/Mac first, if the response is good then I’ll consider everything else.

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

Manage the scope of your game to something doable. Try to stand out. Aim for the top but expect not to get there. Reach out to people who are working on stuff you like.

Where on the Internet can people find you? 

I post all my work on twitter, you can also DM me there if you want: 

https://twitter.com/TheMeldstorm

Also if you like my game, wishlist The Meldstorm:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1220300/The_Meldstorm/

Do you have anything else to add?

Have a nice day ^^

I also want to thank Liam for agreeing to this Q&A and hope you guys enjoyed reading more about The Meldstorm as much as I enjoyed drafting it up. The Meldstorm looks like a very promising game with virtually an infinite amount of replay value and I’m certainly excited for what the final game will have to offer players compared to its current build. I will draft up a review of it upon release, but in the meantime, I wish Liam the best of luck with his debut title.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Scouse Gamer 88 Axiom Verge Header

Axiom Verge (PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo Switch)

Developer(s) – Thomas Happ Games

Publisher(s) – Thomas Happ Games

PEGI – 12

 

Developed solely by former Petroglyph Game engineer Thomas Happ and five years in the making, Axiom Verge was released back in 2015 to overwhelming critical acclaim from critics, garnishing a plethora of favorable reviews and received a nomination for best indie game award for 2015 at The Game Awards. I felt no different about this game; it is most definitely one of the better Metroidvania games that I have had the pleasure of playing through delivering in every aspect.

 

Graphics – 9/10

The game is set on a planet called Sudra and in lieu of Metroidvania tradition features many varied and wonderfully designed environments with a lot of different enemies to contend with throughout. There is also a species of giant humanoid robots called the Rusalka, which are unlike most things I’ve ever seen in sci-fi. Most gamers will immediately be reminded of Super Metroid when looking at his game, as indeed I was. But there are elements of the conceptual design that reminded me of other games too. For example, the environments, which look almost alive with floors and walls moving and pulsating, reminded a lot of Abadox for the NES, although in the case of Axiom Verge, there’s even more attention to detail put in. The Rusalka also adds a certain eloquence to the conceptual design of this game, reminding me in particular of the film Ghost in the Shell. 

 

Gameplay – 9/10

The game plays out ostensibly like a traditional Metroidvania game, with the player having to navigate through a 2D open world and constantly backtracking to reveal new areas or secrets hidden within the game. But what makes Axiom Verge as exciting to play as it is is it’s combat, with the player being able to find a variety of different guns throughout and to strategize according to whatever enemies are in front of them. The world of Axiom Verge is reasonably big, so there is a lot of backtracking involved as players gain new abilities to access new areas. There is also a speedrun mode for more adept players who wish to complete the game in record time, which gives the game some additional replay value. 

But regardless of whether players may be veterans or entry-level, it’s a reasonable challenge I thought; not too hard to the point of being inaccessible but not too easy either. More important than that, however, the game is extremely satisfying to immerse in; backtracking to old locations is always fun as the opportunity to experiment with new weapons constantly presents itself and there’s a great deal of enjoyment to be had in this respect. The boss fights are also as intense as that of any Metroidvania game, again requiring players to strategize according to what weapons they may have as well as enemy attack patterns. 

 

Controls – 9.5/10

The game’s control scheme also presents no problems for the most part; it essentially uses the blueprint of Super Metroid in its general gameplay and weapons system, as well as how ammo and health works. The one minor gripe I had with the controls, however, concerns how the address disruptor works. 

The address disruptor is a gun that either corrupts or de-corrupts enemies or certain walls. This is a tool that needs to be used in order to bypass certain areas of the game. The problem is with it is if a player removes a certain section of wall and not another if the player fires again it can reverse the process for the section of the wall that’s already been removed, leaving the player having to slowly reverse the process again in order to traverse through walls. However, it’s something that’s easily rectified anyway and I can’t fault the developer for trying something new. More important than my concern is that this is a game mechanic unlike many others seen in the Metroidvania genre and it adds more to the game than what it takes away. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

On average, the game can be made to last there around 15 to 20 hours, which for a Metroidvania game is fairly impressive. A sequel is currently in development and is scheduled for release in the autumn of 2020, so here’s hoping that the lifespan is increased with the new game. Without giving the end away, I think there will be a great deal of scope to expand the lifespan for the sequel, but the first game lasts more than an adequate amount of time

 

Storyline – 8/10

The story follows a scientist named Trace, who is running a lab experiment in New Mexico. Suddenly, something happens in the lab that causes an explosion; after which, Trace wakes up on the planet Sudra and finds himself embroiled in a one-man fight for survival, all while uncovering the wonders and mysteries behind the planet Sudra and helping the Rusalka defeat the entity known as Athetos. As the story progresses, it unfolds into something a lot deeper, which makes for a story, which like the visuals, is unlike a lot of things I’ve seen in sci-fi.

IGN gave this game a somewhat less favorable review than me, citing several problems they found with the game that I whole-heartedly found myself disagreeing with; one such criticism was that they thought the story was forgettable. But in my opinion, the story is anything but forgettable. The most prominent theme throughout the story involves moral ambiguity; the intentions and the character of the Rusalka most definitely come into question more than once and will make the player think whether what Trace is doing is right, which once players play through it, will make them anticipate the sequel even more. 

 

Originality – 8/10

Again, the originality of this game has been brought into question by many other reviewers, due to its obvious similarities to the likes of Super Metroid and Xeodrifter; the game clearly has its influences and most fans of the genre will be able to identify them from the get-go. But outweighing its similarities to other games is its differences; the conceptual design of this game really makes it stand out from other titles in the genre and its soundtrack is exceptional, sound even more otherworldly than Super Metroid in my opinion. Its story, as I said before, is also not as straightforward as Samus Aran striving to defeat Ridley, but rather making the player question what happens at the end was for the greater good; not just for Trace, but for the planet Sudra. 

The fact of the matter is that this game comes into its own with potentially massive mythology to be spawned from it with the introduction with even more games and scope for an even bigger plot to unfold along with it and in my experience, with the exception of games like Dust: An Elysian Tail and Ato, there haven’t been many Metroidvania games that have made me feel like what I felt after having played this one through to the end. 

 

Happii

Overall, Axiom Verge is definitely a must-have for fans of the Metroidvania genre; it’s also a must-have for any fan of science fiction. It’s a very enjoyable game with variety in combat and conceptual design with an extremely memorable story and a lot of promise as a big gaming franchise for the future. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Mothergunship Header

Mothergunship (PC, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Grip Digital Games & Terrible Posture Games

Publisher(s) – Grip Digital Games

PEGI – 7

 

Jointly developed and released by Terrible Posture Games and Grip Digital and released at the midpoint of 2018, Mothergunship is a spiritual successor to the indie shooter Tower of Guns, featuring much of the same gameplay elements but offering a great deal more than the latter with an improved number of gameplay features whilst also boasting better graphics on a technical level and a slightly more immersing story complete with all the humor of Joe Mirabello’s previous game. When I first played and reviewed Tower of Guns, I was immediately taken aback by just how unexpectedly fantastic a game it is, but I also pointed out a number of flaws that, although marred the game down to a small extent, didn’t stop it from being the best indie game of the eighth generation that I had played up to that point. However, Mothergunship not only addresses these flaws but offers players all the immersion that can be had with Tower of Guns and then some; I was again taken further aback by how this game hadn’t equaled the quality of its spiritual predecessor but surpassed it to a monumental extent. 

 

Graphics – 9/10

The first thing I noticed whilst playing this game was the significant improvements made to the game’s visuals on a technical level. Abandoning the cel-shaded style synonymous with Tower of Guns, the developers went for a much more realistic-looking sci-fi setting with more varied environmental features as well as a wider range of enemy types. A vast majority of the enemies (as well as a few of the boss fights) were largely recycled from Tower of Guns, but to counteract that, more enemy types were added to not only make the game more diverse on the conceptual level but to add new types of challenge for players to contend with; among the most notable are the robotic dogs that run towards players in certain phases of the game. 

I was extremely impressed with visuals from the get-go; most impressive were the very realistic-looking vistas of open space towards the start of the game and those that can be seen during the sequences whereby players must jump between gravity pads to reach another ship. But as well as that, although each room is randomly generated and as such, the scenery can become very repetitive very quickly, it’s not as much of a problem in Mothergunship as it is in Tower of Guns as each room feels much more unique from the last. The dice rooms in particular offer more diversity in scenery design, as they present different challenges found in typical rooms. 

 

Gameplay – 10/10

Mothergunship keeps to the same basic premise as Tower of Guns for the most part; a first-person shooting Roguelike with randomly generated content. But as alluded to before, new gameplay features have been implemented with this title, such as an RPG aspect in that players can level up their character to gain new perks such as increased health, an increased number of jumps, increased melee power, etc. It also has a much less linear progression than the latter, with players being able to undertake sidequests for better loot. But speaking of the loot, that’s where the game’s most impressive feature comes in. Players also have the facility to make weapons from the ground-up, using various parts that are collected throughout the game. A player can modify a single gun to have multiple barrels and multiple modifications for perks such as increased fire rate, attack power, and abilities such as ricocheting bullets and stunning enemies. The level of customization the players can indulge in is actually ridiculous to the extent that the guns can look like they couldn’t possibly be handled by a human being in the real world. 

But regardless, it makes for one of the most enjoyable features I’ve seen in any FPS game. It feels incredibly satisfying to step into a room with an unreasonably big gun (or two for that matter, since dual-wielding is also an option) and blast through everything in sight. It’s equally satisfying to try and get by on a minimal amount of equipment throughout the beginning of each mission and then rely on your ability to strategize in accordance with what loadout a player starts with and then subsequently buys in each shop.

 

Controls – 10/10

Although the game in terms of its controls functions like most other first-person shooter games, most fans of the genre will be able to pick up the controller and play through it fluently, success also relies on a certain extent of strategy. It’s just as important to move as it is to shoot with so many potential enemies on-screen at any one given moment. People who may have played Tower of Guns can go from that game to this without skipping a beat (especially if, like me, they’ve had the practice of playing the latter game to death), but for other fans of the genre who may not have played Tower of Guns before, they will be forced to modify their tactics somewhat to stand any chance of success. 

 

Lifespan – 10/10

To complete one playthrough to 100% with most likely take there around 20 hours. But the thing with this game is that like Tower of Guns before it because everything is randomly generated from the rooms to the loot, each playthrough presents a completely different challenge every time, giving it a virtually infinite amount of replay value. It has a linear progression ultimately, but the possibilities for each playthrough are endless and will only last as long as the player interest, which given the number of things to do in this game, is a potentially long time. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The basic premise of the game is simple; the player is a new recruit of Earth’s governing body tasked with repelling an impending invasion carried out by a robotic race known as the Archivists. The player character must stop this invasion by taking out the Archivist fleet and along with it, its flagship spacecraft, the Mothergunship. Though the game’s story is pretty basic and overall bears next to no thinking about it for the most part, it’s kept somewhat fresh throughout with a steady supply of humor. The element of comedy with rife in Tower of Guns as well, but because there’s full voice acting in Mothergunship, it’s much easier to indulge in. In particular, Dave Pettitt puts in a hilarious performance as the Colonel; it’s quite reminiscent of Jim Ward’s performances as Captain Qwark in the Ratchet & Clank games. 

 

Originality – 9/10

In my review of Tower of Guns, I’d commented how hard it must be for developers to make a unique first-person shooter experience, given how saturated the industry has become the genre taking precedent throughout recent gaming generations. Despite that, Tower of Guns felt like a fairly unique game. However, with the sheer amount of new and exciting gameplay features implemented in Mothergunship, this games works even better to stand out in an over-saturated gaming genre, making it, to me, not only one of the most memorable FPS game in recent years, but also one of the most unique gaming experiences of the eighth generation. 

 

Deliirious

Overall, Mothergunship is one of the best first-person shooter games I have ever played. It’s an immersing gameplay experience offering pretty much endless replay value with exceptional graphics and an obscene level of customization that will háave players indulging in for hours upon hours. I loved Tower of Guns, but for lack of a better term, this game quite literally blows its spiritual predecessor out of the water. 

Score

53/60

8.5/10 (Great)