Tag Archives: Xbox One

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas (PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, & iOS Android)

Developer(s) – Cornfox & Bros.

Publisher(s) – FDG Entertainment

Director – Heikki Repo

PEGI – 7

First released on iOS in 2013, subsequently brought to consoles last year and featuring music composed by Squaresoft veterans Kenji Ito, and my personal favorite video game composer Nobuo Uematsu, Oceanhorn borrows a great deal from some of the best franchises in gaming, such as Legend of Zelda and Baldur’s Gate, and brings them together in one very satisfying and critically acclaimed gaming experience. Even after playing a few hours of Oceanhorn, I could tell that this is most definitely one of the greatest indie games I would have ever played to date, and something I would recommend to any fan of adventure games or RPGs.

Graphics – 8.5/10

The game’s visuals are vibrant, colorful, diverse, and though outdated compared to most mainstream releases, they are conceptually brilliant. Though in most aspects of this game, the most obvious influence had been The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, I found myself being able to identify a great of conceptual design deviating away from the latter in places such as house basements, which have a heavy steampunk feel to them reminiscent of the game’s main antagonist. Dungeons throughout the game, again much like the Legend of Zelda series, do extremely well to stand out amongst each other, and more than makeup for the overworld areas, which can seem quite repetitious after a while.

Gameplay – 9/10

Oceanhorn is an isometric top-down adventure RPG, similar to Baldur’s Gate; Dark Alliance, but set in a much more open world than the latter. There is a heavy emphasis on exploration, combat, character development, and dungeon crawling; like Wind Waker, it also features travel by sea along with combat elements thrown in during these sequences too. There is plenty to do in the game to keep players busy besides the main story, and the boss fights are challenging on quite a surprising level in my opinion; even the first boss was fairly difficult to contend with.

Controls – 10/10

I experienced no issues with the game’s controls whatsoever, as not only am I personally quite familiar with this in particular gameplay formula, but there have been countless isometric RPGs to have come and gone over the last 20 years, and it was to be expected that no issues would arise. The best thing about the controls, however, is how well two different styles of an adventure game, i.e Legend of Zelda and Baldur’s Gate, come together particularly well to form its own cohesive concept without presenting any issues with the controls.

Lifespan – 7.5/10

Overall, Oceanhorn can be made to last there about 16 to 20 hours, which for an indie adventure game is fairly impressive; especially considering that is started life as a smartphone game. I’ve found a lot of indie games to be short and sweet, such as Titan Souls and Xeodrifter, so a game like this to me, was a welcome breath of fresh air, and something that can have a great of time invested into it for those willing to explore it, which I personally always admire in any game at all.

Storyline – 7.5/10

The story follows a silent protagonist, whose father leaves the paternal home to traverse the Islands of the Uncharted Seas to seek and kill a giant sea monster known as Oceanhorn. The player character subsequently sets out to destroy Oceanhorn himself, and to discover what became of his father. It seems simple enough, but throughout, the character goes through an unprecedented amount of development, discovering things such as love and hardship throughout the way. It’s one of many ways that this game can be compared to the Legend of Zelda, and whilst I believe the character of Link has been further developed in a single game than what is present in this, it’s still a very solid effort in terms of the overall story.

Originality – 6/10

Most players familiar with adventure video games will have very little difficulty pointing out what influenced this title, as they are blatantly obvious from start to finish in nigh on every aspect of it. However, all these ideas come together to form something, which I can find myself to describe as unforgettable, to say the least. The elements of the games it borrows inspiration from are made to seem more like charms than rip-offs.

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Overall, Ocean horn, whilst it clearly borrows influence from other games, is in my opinion, the best indie experience of 2016; it’s satisfying to play and beautiful to look at, with a stellar soundtrack, and enjoyable gameplay formula and a pleasantly surprising level of depth in its story. It’s certainly worth playing through at least once.

Score

48.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

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 around, 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 to make 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 center, 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 an elaborate twist to it, it still has the same level of political intrigue, and just as much emotional charge; especially as this time around, 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.

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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.

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Ziggurat (PlayStation 4, Xbox One & PC)

Developer(s) – Milkstone Studios

Publisher(s) – Milkstone Studios

PEGI – 12

First released on Steam Early Access back in 2014, and going on to see both digital and physical releases on multiple platforms, Ziggurat is a Roguelike first-person shooting dungeon crawler, somewhat reminiscent of Tower of Guns, with a heavy emphasis on combat, player character development and above all, challenge. After having played Tower of Guns, I had fairly high expectations of how good this game would be, and how it would do the things is does; overall, I was not disappointed.

Graphics – 8/10

The game takes place in a pseudo-medieval fantasy world bearing resemblance to game series’ such as Warcraft or Baldur’s Gate. The graphical quality of the title is stunning, especially for a game developed independently, but more importantly, it also does extremely well to break away from games that were clearly taken as influence by incorporating a massive variety of unique creatures and boss characters, such as Sir Arthur and Lady Audrey. Cutting edge graphics can mean much less if there isn’t variety in conceptual design, but this game has both.

Gameplay – 8/10

The basic premise of gameplay, along with the game’s story, is that an apprentice wizard must take on the challenge of the Ziggurat in order to graduate from his order. Players must undertake increasingly difficult tasks of ascending the floors of the Ziggurat, which are filled with dangerous monsters and challenging obstacles throughout. Players can take advantage of a massive choice of different weapons, spells, and perks that can found across the game in order to survive for as long as possible and to try and eventually graduate from the wizard’s order. Locations, enemies, and bosses, in Roguelike tradition, are procedurally generated, and thus does each playthrough provides a new set of challenges every time, keeping the game insanely fresh, and giving it virtually infinite replay value, which can make for hours upon hours of fun.

Controls – 10/10

Belonging to a genre that has dominated the video gaming market since the sixth generation, Ziggurat’s controls are perfect, providing no unnecessary complications, straightforward control mechanics, and incorporating all aspects of gameplay seamlessly. The fact that the player character moves faster than in most other first-person shooters also provides quite a lot of fluency for players who have mastered it after a while, as it can become quite satisfying to be able to effectively dodge a wide variety of simultaneous enemy attacks. By the same token, it can also provide an equal amount of challenge to newcomers, since it can be quite easy to rush through unexplored areas, and accidentally fall for a number of given obstacles such as lava pits.

Originality – 7/10

Though Ziggurat is not the first game of it’s kind to incorporate the basic premise of gameplay that it does, it stands out for a massive number of different reasons; the variety in gameplay combat options it provides, as well as it’s the conceptual design and artistic direction in terms of visuals. Although it’s clearly not without its influences, it provides a marvelous gaming experience that greatly shines throughout the indie developer community, and it’s certainly worth playing again and again.

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Overall, Ziggurat is a highly enjoyable game, filled with challenge, entertainment, and a staggering amount of replayability. It looks great, it plays out wonderfully, and stands out as one of the better gaming experiences on eighth generation hardware.

Score

33/40

8/10 (Very Good)

Doom (2016) (PC, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – id Software

Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks

Director(s) – Marty Stratton & Hugo Martin

Producer(s) – Timothy Bell

PEGI – 18

Twelve years in the making, and finally released to positive reviews in mid-2016, the re-vamp of id Software’s classic shooter Doom presents players with an experience more akin to Doom 1 and 2, deviating away from the survival horror approach taken with Doom 3, and given an overhaul in visuals as well as having numerous different features thrown in for good measure. I thought that whilst it was pretty light on story, again alluding to the first two games, it was overall a fairly decent gaming experience worth at least one playthrough, and was left relieved that it didn’t become another Duke Nukem Forever, as it easily could have been if history has gone another way.

Graphics – 10/10

The game runs on the id Tech engine; one of the most advanced gaming engines on the market. And as a result, it looks nigh-on flawless in terms of technical performance. It’s certainly one of the best looking video games I’ve seen throughout the eighth generation so far; if not, the best. The conceptual design is also very well handled, as it looks even more akin to the classic box art than any other Doom game to date, with the red skies and terrains of mars, and the hordes of demons players must have to contend with. Although the game itself plays out much like the first two games in the series, I like that they also kept the scary atmosphere and limited lighting in UAC facilities, which were established in Doom 3.

Gameplay – 7/10

The game has a standard level-based campaign mode, whereby players must shoot their way through hordes of demonic creatures and complete a couple of collectible side quests along the way, but on top of that, there is online multiplayer included as standard. But the most interesting feature the game has to offer is undoubtedly the SnapMap system, which allows players to create their own arenas and stages, and holds their own online multiplayer battles and single-player levels as well as other game modes; a direct response to the overwhelming legacy the original game created in terms of user-generated content. The SnapMap feature makes this game stand out among the many other generic FPS games that are released every year, and after completing the main story mode, will provide much more replay value for people left wanting more.

Controls – 10/10

Handled by the godfathers of the first-person shooting genre, id Software, it was expected that there would be no issues with the game’s controls; and so there aren’t any. Doom’s controls are handled just as well as any other modern FPS game and present players with no unnecessary complications

Lifespan – 10/10

The campaign can typically last up to around 13 hours, which whilst isn’t exceptional is still much longer than the average FPS story mode. But on top of that, online multiplayer and the SnapMap feature will provide players with unlimited replay value, so the game will, in essence, last as long as the player’s interest, which given what this game has to offer, should be a considerably long time; especially veteran fans of the series.

Storyline – 4/10

As I said, this game is light on story; even in the campaign mode. The plot is that an unnamed space marine is traversing through the planet Mars, and is on the way eliminating as much of the demon horde as possible. There are slight instances of character development and a couple of different plot threads, but not enough to make it stand out from other games in this respect. Arguably, there didn’t need to be a story for it to work, and that does apply to a certain extent, but given how id Software have previously demonstrated that they know how to tell at least an interesting story, as evidenced with both Rage and Wolfenstein: The New Order, I still can’t help but feel that this game fell short in this respect.

Originality – 6/10

Another aspect that the game falls short on slightly is in terms of uniqueness; partly in conjunction with the fact that this is simply a second re-telling of the events of the original game. It’s also due to the fact that Doom does essentially play out like a standard first-person shooter, and that there are no unique mechanics within the gameplay itself outside the SnapMap feature. It could be argued that id Software may have wanted to keep things simple for the sake of delaying the game any more than they already had done. If true, the game was made to suffer slightly in terms of originality.

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In summation, however, Doom is a solid first-person shooting experience, and I would recommend it to both veterans and newcomers. It’s longer than the average shooter, and while it does play out a lot like an average shooter, there are enough additional gameplay features to keep players busy vanquishing the demon horde for a long time.

Score

47/60

7.5/10 (Good)

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

Developer(s) – Image & Form Games

Publisher(s) – Image & Form Games

PEGI – 7

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

Graphics – 9/10

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

Gameplay – 8/10

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

Controls – 10/10

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

Lifespan – 6/10

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

Storyline – 7/10

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

Originality – 10/10

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

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

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

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

Developer(s) – Renegade Kid

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

Director(s) – Jools Watsham

Programmer – Matthew Gambrell

PEGI – 7

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

Graphics – 7/10

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

Gameplay – 8/10

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

Controls – 10/10

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

Lifespan – 1/10

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

Storyline – 6/10

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

Originality – 7/10

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

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

Score

39/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

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

Developer(s) – Machine Games & id Software

Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks

Director(s) – Jerk Gustafsson & Jens Matthies

PEGI – 18

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

Graphics – 9.5/10

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

Gameplay – 7/10

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

Controls – 10/10

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

Lifespan – 5.5/10

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

Storyline – 7/10

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

Originality – 6/10

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

Happii

Happii

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

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)

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

Developer(s) – Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher(s) – Ubisoft

Designer – Danny Belanger

Producer – Dominic Guay

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

Lifespan – 10/10

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

Storyline – 3/10

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

Originality – 4/10

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

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Niiutral

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

Score

38.5/60

6/10 (Average)

Warframe (PC & PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) –Digital Extremes

Publisher(s) – Digital Extremes

Artist – Michael “Mynki” Brennan

PEGI – 18

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

Graphics – 7/10

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

Gameplay – 7/10

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

Controls – 7/10

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

Lifespan – 5.5/10

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

Storyline – 6/10

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

Originality – 6/10

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

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Niiutral

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

Score

38.5/60

6/10 (Average)

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

Developer(s) – Ubisoft Montpellier

Publisher(s) – Ubisoft

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

Producer – Bruno Galet

PEGI – 12

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

Graphics – 7.5/10

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

Gameplay – 7/10

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

Controls – 10/10

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

Lifespan – 5/10

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

Storyline – 9/10

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

Originality – 7/10

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

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Happii

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

Score

46.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)