Tag Archives: Gaming

Injustice 2 Review (Xbox One)

Last year Street Fighter V came out and many of us (including me) were shocked at just how little content it offered. This was a game created almost purely for the hardcore tournament goers, no single player to speak of, no progression, just a roster of character and a solid offline multiplayer and slightly shaky online. For people who are really into fighting games, that might be all they need, but for the millions of casual fighting games fans around, it felt far too sparse. Enter Injustice 2, possibly the most generous fighting game I’ve ever seen.

For starters, Injustice 2 is a direct sequel to the first game. While the roster has changed (lots of heroes have been taken away including Zatara, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, etc) the campaign follows on directly from the first game and the fighting systems are all intact. You still build up a super meter that can be used to augment attacks, bet on a wager, or unleash your super-move; you can still hit people off the stage into a new one; you can still interact with all kinds of things in each area (if you want, all of this is customisable).Anyone familiar with how the first one played will be instantly at home, but there are some new toys for anyone who was put off by the simplicity of the first game.

Now that super meter can be used for something much more technical than just adding damage to your moves. You can now use a bar of it to do a counter mid-combo to make sure you always have a chance to break free. This is a combo-heavy game and the ability to do an air-counter when you’re juggled into the air is an absolute godsend as some characters can destroy you as soon as they bounce you up. This new feature seems to make the game a lot fairer and even online all of my games have been incredibly close, with far fewer whitewashes just because someone gets control early on.

Of course all of this doesn’t mean much if you’re just here for the fancy fighting and characters you know, and that’s where the campaign really shines. It might be cheesy and over-the-top, but it manages to fairly intelligently weave in every major character (except the pre-order exclusive Darkseid) into a plot that sees many of the DC heroes facing off against Braniac and a collection of the villains. If you haven’t played Injustice the roster might be confusing, with Superman now a villain in prison and Harley Quinn on Batman’s side, but with a couple of YouTube videos you can catch up quickly and enjoy the ride.

The campaign is a series of fights with cut-scenes in between and the occasional choice of which character you’d like to fight as. The cut-scenes are fantastic with some spectacular set-pieces and outstanding facial animation. The characters sometimes look a little odd, but the animation on characters such as Gorilla Grodd and Braniac sets a new bar for in-engine scenes.

Speaking of the characters, no-one can accuse the developers of playing it safe. Alongside series stalwarts like the Justice League, the Joker, and Bane, we’ve now got a group of new additions from characters made popular by recent TV shows (Supergirl, Captain Cold, Firestorm, Gorilla Grodd), classics of the comics who aren’t given enough screen time (Swamp Thing, Darkseid), and some strange characters who I’d never heard of before (Cheetah and Atrocitus). The roster is incredibly diverse with no two characters playing the same. There’s no group of ‘heavies’ anymore, each character has their own quirks and ways of holding control, from Grodd’s incredible rushing potential to Deadshot’s extreme zoning.

All the characters also have a tonne of dialogue with specific lines for every single match up, often with references to the comics or films. Some of the designs are perhaps less convincing this time around, with the Joker being more inspired by Leto’s Suicide Squad version moreso than other popular takes on the character, and Green Arrow oddly going for the classic comic version rather than the TV show. Still, there’s always the potential for new skins and I sincerely hope (I can’t believe I’m saying this) there’s a bunch of DLC packs for skins in the near future.

To top off the progression system there’s a huge number of collectables that serve as gear on your characters. If both players agree this gear can be used in multiplayer, boosting stats as well as having a visual impact. If you like the stats of one piece (and there are hundreds of different items) but not the look, you can even transmogrify everything to keep the look and shaders you want, but with the bonuses you need. The idea of having stat-enhancing gear sounds terrifying, but so far online it doesn’t seem to have too much of an impact as most of the boosts are relatively minor or only activate until very specific conditions, like never jumping, or being in a certain part of your health bar.

To get all this gear you unlock loot boxes, which are liberally given out through the campaign, levelling characters, levelling your profile, or possibly my favourite thing about the game, the Multiverse. The Multiverse gives you loads of sets of challenges that rotate on timers, from hourly, to daily, to weekly. If you finish a challenge (with interesting mutations like being able to call in Constantine to help, or both players being able to heal by collecting pickups) you get gear and box and xp rewards, and can face off with other players on leaderboards. This means there’s constantly more things to do and if you just fancy a quick fight without the pressure of fighting online, there’s always plenty for you to do.

Of course there’s even more to this game that I haven’t really mentioned. There’s a guild system, there’s progression challenges, different difficulties, a whole season of DLC coming and built-in tournament options. It’s basically everything you could ever want in a fighting game, with gorgeous graphics, a fantastic roster, and engaging mechanics. If you’re into DC, or fighting games, this is an essential purchase.

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EGX 2016 Overview

So we just got back from our trip to EGX 2016 (and Alton Towers as a bonus) and we are exhausted. This year we went with two non-journalist friends joining the two of us and it was interesting to see the experience from a slightly different perspective. We didn’t get there until the main public opening at 11 and we stayed right up until the end.

egx-crowd

Firstly, it’s hard to ignore the fact that EGX was not supported well by the major developers this year. Although some of their games were there, there was no significant presence from Microsoft, Nintendo or Ubisoft. EA had a couple of large stands dotted around but the show really did feel like it was worse for missing the key players. No charming Nintendo area with fun little side games and plenty of street passes, no bombastic EA with huge statues and light shows, No ultra-stylish Microsoft booths with stamps and giveaways. Instead the show was mostly dominated by Sony with a huge Playstation area, alongside surprisingly large sections for Syndicate, Yoggscast, and Twitch. Personally I’m not the biggest fan of the way Sony does these shows, it feels like they enjoy the long lines as a sign of how ‘wanted’ their games are, and they don’t give very much thought to the people in them. Not many consoles, not much was playable, and more focus on taking up space than actually showing off good games. For example, the PS4 Pro was there, but behind a glass case and switched off. PSVR was there, but you had to book (or be smart and go to the many indie booths showing it off), their biggest playable games were Gran Turismo and Infinite Warfare, but the queue for Infinite Warfare was getting up to about two hours and Gran Turismo only had a few pods with a fairly basic set up. No fancy HDR being shown off, no 4K, no looks at games that people are really excited about like The Last Guardian.

The other areas were pretty sparse, Mafia 3 had a spectacular facade but was only showing a 25 minute gameplay video – the Twitch area devoted a tonne of space to letting you play the Forza Horizon 3 demo we all got a while ago, despite the actual game coming out this weekend – the over 18 area had a grand total of 4 games, one of which only had two seats. It felt like a lot of the show floor was wasted without the blockbuster games to show off. There was no way of playing For Honor, Ghost Recon, Steep, Prey 2, or the new Zelda. Instead you just had plenty of giant booths to walk around.

Of course the best place to play games was (as always) the Rezzed and Leftfield collections. Indie developers really come out in force for this show and it’s a great chance to play plenty of games you’ve never seen before and actually chat to the people that made them. Shot lines, lots of amazing games and a nice atmosphere – it’s just a shame that the quality evident there couldn’t have been matched with the AAA titles.

In terms of the rest of the show, it really feels like Eurogamer still haven’t managed to get the vibe they want. There’s a poor food selection, which has no connection to games and never goes beyond being purely functional. This could be a chance to show off some interesting dishes to an audience who might not come across it otherwise, but instead you get burgers, chips and sandwiches. The merchandise stalls were everywhere, easily taking up a third of the overall space, but 80% of them all had the same knock-off stock with seemingly unlicensed merch aimed at ‘geek culture’ without really being part of it. Lots of cheap items being sold at a premium by people who had no interested in getting involved with ‘gamers’ – they just wanted to fleece you. Of course there were exceptions, there are always a couple of interesting stands or independent retailers that care about embracing the community, but these are increasingly pushed out by large mass-producers of vaguely gaming-related tat.

All of this sounds very negative, and it is, but despite it all we still had a good time. We played a few outstanding indie games and had a lot of fun with Titanfall 2 and Dishonored 2 – but after visiting Gamescom in the last couple of years then coming here and seeing how much is missing, how much is boring, and how many people look tired and fed up from the moment the doors open, it’s hard not to think EGX is getting it wrong. Maybe they’ll find the magic formula next year, but we’re not so sure we’ll be there to find out.

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