Tag Archives: PC

Mr. Shifty Review (PC)

Mr Shifty is much, much easier than its clear inspiration, Hotline Miami. Thanks to your ridiculously overpowered ability,  there’s only a couple of rooms in the whole game that gave me any problems. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with some serious power tripping in video games.

If you’ve seen X-Men 2, you can understand the main innovation in Mr. Shifty, you can teleport just like Nightcrawler. Your bamfing is even accompanied with a little puff of smoke, and you can do it five times in quick succession before it needs a few seconds to recharge. With this ability you can charge headfirst into full rooms of enemies, all pointing machine guns at you, and dispatch them all before they know what’s happened. Bamf. Punch. Bamf. Punch. and so on. Over the course of the game you also find a variety of melee and thrown weapons that can help you out like a broom, a metal pipe, a shield, and even a trident.

The whole game only took us just under three hours to beat, but that was in three sittings and we loved every second of it. Levels are short and most stages introduce some kind of new mechanic like new enemies or traps. The levels ramp up just after they’ve introduced a new idea so, for example, when you first find proximity mines you have all the time in the world to figure out what sets them off and the fact you can pick them up and throw them once they’re activated. Within a couple of levels you’re sprinting at full pelt through a minefield, grabbing one, teleporting through a wall into a room full of enemies, throwing it on to someone’s chest, teleporting back in to the room that just exploded and watching the enemies disintegrate. Moves like this are surprisingly common in the game.

The whole thing is played from the top down perspective, similar to Hotline Miami, but it doesn’t have the same visual style. The animations are quick and sometimes impressive, and the fact that bodies will stay on the floor even when you return to an area is a nice touch, but it’s not a spectacular game and you’ll be hard pushed to remember anything about what even the main character looks like once you’re done.

Everything from the music to the dialogue is incredibly generic for a video game, I think on purpose, and this gives it a certain blandness which is unfortunate when the main mechanic of the game is so engaging.

If you’ve got a spare afternoon and £10 free, Mr Shifty is definitely a worthwhile play. It might not be a classic but we really hope we see this mechanic return for more games.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Titanfall 2 Review (Xbox One)

We’ve been excited about Titanfall 2 for a long time purely because it’s a sequel to one of our favourite multiplayer FPS games of all time. That being said, we were worried. We’d been on holiday over the beta so had missed out on that, and with Battlefield 1 being released a couple of weeks ago (and being excellent) and Call of Duty coming out a week later, we thought it might get buried, forgotten, and ignored like so many brilliant games that were released at the wrong time. Thankfully Titanfall 2 is being to shine through it’s unfortunate (or incompetent on the part of EA) release window and has actually managed to drag us away from Battlefield. Titanfall 2 is everything we wanted and so much more.

image-12df2645-1759-4769-8a64-30d125a9c391

The multiplayeris very similar to the first game in nearly all the right ways. You still fight over control points, or kill AI opponents, or capture flags, or kill enemy players in order to get points. As you gain points yu also gain percentages towards your Titan meter. At a specific point on this meter you unlock a boost like a Smart Pistol (no longer a normal equippable weapon) or a turret or mines. Once the meter reaches 100%, you can call down your Titan. The Titans make exactly the same sounds and visual impact on the game as they did before and I genuinely can’t see what Respawn could have done to improve it. Screaming from the sky in a fireball of cloud and steel they smash into the ground and await your instructions or get ready to help you climb in. Jumping into your Titan is incredibly empowering. You go from an agile but flimsy weakling darting around the battlefield to a 30ft tall death machine. Obviously as the game goes on other players will get theirs too and it quickly separates into a war of two fronts with pilots duking it out in the buildings and on objectives while Titans do their best to gain map control and prevent the pilots from going around their business. When it works and your team manages to keep a few titans while destroying all of your opponents’, it feels amazing. Suddenly you can lock down the map and quash any resistance.

Of course Respawn didn’t want that to be the end of a round so now pilots have even more abilities designed to help them get around and avoid the Titans’ attacks. There’s a grappling hook that lets you clamber up ledges and onto Titans quickly, a phase shift that lets you shift out of real space for a while and then reappear at another point, and even a decoy that will run ahead of you and hopefully confuse the opponents into shooting the wrong way. Games of Titanfall never get boring and there’s always something to do or a problem to solve, within short spaces of times it’s amazing how quickly you transition between different tactics and strategies alongside a team you’re not even speaking to, from armoured warfare to guerilla defenses to free-running sprints across the map. Even when you lsoe a game the desperate sprint to the (now much more fragile) escape dropship feels exciting and meaningful.

image-ca1e3a1c-ecf0-4462-9710-8df0500c8eed

In terms of what’s new for Multiplayer, there’s now six Titans instead of three, but you can no longer select the weapon for them. There’s still a 40mm cannon attached to Tone who plays the most like the old Titans, but then there’s some interesting new takes on the machines like Scorch who can set down petrol bombs ready to ignite large areas, or Ronin who can dart around and phase shift then lay waste to enemies with a giant sword. It might not be practical or realistic, but it looks amazing.

The weakest part of the multiplayer offering is definitely the maps. Although the layouts are quite interesting and work well, visually they’re very dull and nowhere near as good as those found in the base game. Thankfully Respawn have said that all future maps will be free, so perhaps they can change things up with DLC, but at the moment every map essentially feels like a series of boxy buildings. One has caves and a crashed ship, and one is in a giant building, but the rest are all pretty forgettable. We’re also a little annoyed by the lack of viewable stats, but it’s understandable that Respawn didn’t want people working to improve their K/D ratio at the expense of the rest of their team as happens so often in Call of Duty and Battlefield. At least having some basic stats like kill streaks and win percentage would be really useful.

a00cc3357934b37a5958755b0e999c91

Now the most surprising thing about the game package is the single player. The original Titanfall didn’t even have a single player – it was purely multiplayer combat, but Respawn decided to do more than just dabble with a campaign and have created a short but incredibly impressive story that doesn’t just help to explain what’s going on in the Titanfall universe, but actually makes you care about the characters. The level design is top notch with each mission introducing you to a new mechanic or tool that feels natural to use in the situations you are presented with. Interestingly there’s plenty of platforming involves in the campaign and trying to find some hidden helmets that serve as collectibles is actually one of the most entertaining things we’ve done in a game this year. The free-running puzzles involves have been far more engaging then the entirety of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

Overall Titanfall 2 is an absolute no brainer for anyone who enjoyed the first game. If you’re new to the series this is a refreshing and entertaining take on the FPS genre and easily up there in terms of quality against the big hitters. We only hope it survives well enough against BF1 and COD to warrant a Titanfall 3.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Zombie Night Terror Review (PC)

Ever wonder what happened to Lemmings? It was one of the most popular and widely-known games on the Amiga and yet despite some attempts to keep it going through ill-conceived 3d sequels in the early PC days, not only the series but the whole genre seemed to completely die out by the end of the 90s. Zombie Night Terror seems to come from an alternate dimension where Lemmings never went away and progressed like any other genre, until someone decided to add zombies to it. This isn’t a Lemmings clone, and it doesn’t feel like a rip-off in any way, instead it’s an intelligent puzzler with a zombie facade and a heft dose of inspiration from the challenges of Lemmings given an modern kind of challenge. This is much faster and much more entertaining, but still has that kind of cerebral challenge that we loved all those years ago.

20160722182859_1

In Zombie Night Terror you are tasked with leading the undead to try and take over the world through a series of objectives along a comic-book style story. There’s mad scientists, dangerous gangs, and plenty of environmental hazards to deal with, and your only tools are a bunch of zombies (or sometimes just an individual) that shamble around and are generally quite delicate when it comes to things like getting shot in the head or falling from great heights. Thankfully you’re given tools to enhance their abilities. These are gradually unlocked over the course of the game, but at first you are able to infect anyone on the map (albeit a very small number of people), choosing where to strike for maximum effect. Do you pick people in the most crowded rooms, do you pick people near exits, do you pick people with weapons? As the game goes on you generally don’t have that ability any more (it would make some maps way too easy) but you can put in blockers who stop zombies from passing, you can make them jump, you can speed them up, or you can even turn them into more dangerous mutants who can climb on walls or even explode. One of the most interesting innovations is how these skills can be combined. The blockers can be made to send all your zombies running, or throw them great distances, zombies that have been made to jump into the air can then be turned to bombs. Often these combinations aren’t explained in the tutorials, but they are essential to complete many of the ‘extra’ objectives as you move through the game. Every ability requires a certain amount of DNA which can be gained either from barrel pickups, killing people, or by sacrificing your own zombies. The resource management is very strict on many levels so it’s all the more satisfying when you get one where resources aren’t really an issue and you can create a huge horde of overpowered flesh-eaters.

For each mission there’s a standard win-state, and then an extra much harder challenge to go after if you want. These could be to complete it in a certain time, to kill everyone on the map, or to avoid losing any zombies, and all of the challenges are quite difficult, testing your multitasking abilities as well as how good you are at planning ahead. Watch some of the videos of how to do these challenges on youtube and you’ll see some truly remarkable plans being put into action.

pu069059b7ef840f0c74a814ec9237b6ec-1453925505-2120197-screenshot-original

While Zombie Night Terror is difficult, it unfortunately often strays into the vaguely unfair territory. Where failing in Lemmings was always your fault, there’s just enough randomness to ZNT that sometimes failure can feel like just bad luck. This is mostly because the NPCs will wander around and won’t always be in the same place. If you get an NPC with a weapon in just the wrong place, you can lose far too many zombies to continue, where next time you start it they’ll be next to a door and easy pickings. This lets down what would otherwise be a fantastic puzzle game, as it often leads to frustration and a temptation to just quit rather than to persevere. It also doesn’t help that many of the levels are preceded by a short prologue level that must be repeated if you leave the game and come back to it. No-one likes repeating levels for no reason.

If you like puzzle games, Zombie Night Terror is absolutely fantastic. It looks gorgeous, sounds great, and provides more than enough challenge for anybody. That being said, it’s a shame that some pitfalls can make it more frustrating than it needs to be and we definitely began to lose interest after the first section of the game.

Verdict 7

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Necropolis Review (PC)

Necropolis is a roguelike co-op dungeon crawler. Unfortunately that’s about where the interesting information in this review ends. Yes Necropolis gets some things right, notably it’s minimalist but very recognisable aesthetic (although the lack of feet is a little off-putting) and slightly quirky item descriptions, but overall you’re left with a feeling that this is quite by the book.

20160725210154_1

When you start each time you have a very basic sword and shield and you’re in what appears to be an abandoned temple (think every fantasy rpg ever). There is a sort of narrator that speaks to you regularly, and there’s plenty of snippets of lore to be found or bought with a token currency, but in an effort to be whimsical it’s completely uncompelling. Just some generic grimdark vaguely Lovecraftian mystery with the odd joke thrown in. You (and up to three friends) take an elevator down and then try to fight through ten levels until you escape the Necropolis. There’s gems to be found (you need a value of at least 200 to escape a floor, but then you can spend them on other things like items and recipes), there’s crafting to be done, there’s plenty of fighting, and that’s about it.

The fighting is slow and unwieldy. There’s plenty of weapons ranging from simple quick axes to lumbering magical greatswords, but unfortunately none of them are precise enough to make the combat exciting. There’s a lock-on system and dodging, but it feels like there’s plenty of delay and you often need to let animations finish before you do anything else. This means more often than not your death will come because you’re finishing a lengthy attack animation and a newly spawned enemy (oh they spawn all over the place, from nowhere, for no reason) has crept behind the camera and lands a combo on you that kills you. That’s two hours of progress wiped out because of something you couldn’t reasonably have prevented, unless you never use slow weapons and you constantly spin the camera. That’s the biggest problem with Necropolis, as much fun as it can be with friends, it feels far too easy, and then you die. Not because you lack skill or because the game throws a new interesting enemy at you, but because you got stun locked, or an animation took far too long, or enemies spawned from nowhere. It feels like the difficulty ramps up out of nowhere just to stop you completing it too often.

20160722214459_1

There’s plenty of extra little things to keep you coming back if you do manage to finish it. There’s lore to unlock, coloured outfits, randomised level layouts, but every playthrough essentially comes down to slogging your way through ten levels of hundreds of the same enemies. There are a few interesting types but the key word really is ‘few’ and you fight them all pretty much the same way. You dodge until they finish their ridiculously long attack animation, then you hit them with yours.

If you’re looking for a new co-op game to rush through and you can get it cheap, there’s definitely some fun to be had for an hour or two. But for £22.99 we’d say you’d be better off looking somewhere else.

Verdict 5

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Total War: Warhammer Review (PC)

We’ve consistently struggled with Total War games. We love the history, the scope is staggering, and real time strategy is one of our favourite genres, alongside turn-based 4X games, which also happens to be a staple of the series. Unfortunately, the games are just too hard. We always run out of money, forgetting to disband armies, we overestimate our strength, we move entire armies as one unit in the RTS battles and get roundly slaughtered by spearmen and cavalry. It comes as no small surprise then that we’re thoroughly enjoying Total War: Warhammer. Yes we still make dumb decisions and can only win battles by overwhelming numbers, but now there’s a race for that. They’re called Orks.

20160520221605_1

In many ways Total War: Warhammer is everything a PC game should be. It has not one, but four fully fleshed-out campaigns with interesting characters and intrigue. It has co-op modes and multiplayer campaigns, it has a huge amount of customisable multiplayer battle options. It has Steam Workshop support for thousands of excellent mods, it has more graphical settings than we could ever hope to understand. If at any point in your life you’ve thought ‘oh man I’d love a good Warhammer RTS’ then stop thinking and get playing. You’ve had Dawn of War II for years, and now you’ve got this for your classic Warhammer action.

If you’re familiar with the Total War games, you’ll be at home immediately. You control an empire on a turn-based strategy map and manage diplomacy, civil unrest, resources, gold, and armies in a bid to make your empire stronger than others. Whenever you encounter an enemy force, be it at a castle siege or on the open fields of battle, you get the choice to either play the battle yourself or to let the computer auto-resolve. Should you take it on yourself you’re treated to the spectacle of hundreds of individual units following your command in ballets of strategy and tactics until they realise they’re flanked and run for their lives, leaving you to command a single unit of spearmen while cursing under your breath. Or in this game’s case, you watch as winged demons fly down to attack your giant spider while your goblins throw themselves ineffectually against the spears of knights and occasionally vampires.

Adding fantasy into Total War has worked remarkably well. Spells are costly and can only be used occasionally but pound holes in enemy forces and shake them up enough for a weaker force to dominate them, beasts are used as powerful units with completely different types of movement and tactics required to control them well. It’s so satisfying to sideswipe a seemingly impenetrable cavalry charge with a hundred wolves leaping out of the forest, only for them to turn tail and disappear again, ready to strike. You now occasionally fight in caves and it just feels right to have small formations of dwarves fighting off waves of undead beings as they struggle to hold cities against the oncoming hordes. Even if you’re not really into Warhammer, many fantasy tropes are present and correct here and it wouldn’t be hard to squint a bit and see this as a Lord of the Rings RTS.

20160525214444_1

The difficulty is still an issue, but thankfully the battles are fun enough that we don’t really mind. Keeping your cities under control is a constant issue and raising enough armies to defend your lands after a sizeable invasion feels almost impossible at times. There are plenty of in-game videos and tips to try and explain the inner working of the game to you, but we still found it fairly opaque and at times impenetrable. We still don’t really understand why we need to elect Lords into certain government positions or why there’s so many different types of treaty and when we should enter into which.

If you can look past the slightly intimidating 4X facade and are willing to lose more than a few battles as you learn which strategies work, there’s a huge amount of content and fun to be had with Total War: Warhammer. As with most games, the multiplayer is much better with someone you really know, and Warhammer fans are going to get even more out of this. But we’d say whether you’re a fan or not, this is an RTS game that is definitely worth the money.

Verdict 9

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Move or Die Review (PC)

Move or Die is a very appropriate title. This is a game where you have a health bar that is constantly refilling, unless you stop moving. As soon as you do it drops quickly, killing you unless you get moving again. This isn’t really the focus of the game, or even a key mechanic that you have to think about all the time, it’s more of a way to set the tone of the game, a game where everyone is constantly moving and planning ahead has to be balanced with dealing with whatever is going on right now. Move or Die is a fairly simple single-screen multiplayer party game where you and up to three others (local or online or a combination of the two) compete over a series of extremely short minigames where the goal is nearly always just to be the last person surviving. Death comes quickly and often but this is part of the charm.

Screen3

The minigames in Movie or Die all share roughly the same controls which makes switching between them simple enough. They are singular in your objective, in one you must race to the finish line, in another you’ve got to try and survive while all the floor is disappearing over a pit of death dealing blocks, in another you are constantly gracefully somersaulting through the air and can fire guns at each other as you spin, trying to take the others out.

In an interesting move you level up by winning games and then every time you level you get to unlock a mystery box. Sometimes this will be a skin for your character but sometimes it’s a whole new game mode. Cleverly these are all Steam Inventory items so you can buy a particular skin or game mode if you want it, or you can even sell it. Some of the game modes are rarer than others such as the Legendary-Tier Chainsaw Backstab which sees you fighting with chainsaws that only do damage if you hit someone from behind. If you own this item you can pick it as one of the five minigames you want to play in a game, and then everyone in your lobby gets to play it. We picked one of these up and were shocked to see it was selling for £15 on the Marketplace. We’re going to be cynical and assume the devs are the ones paying these prices to inflate the prices of parts of their game but it definitely adds a new incentive to do well in games when you realise you could win something that’s actually worth money.

Screen10

The minigames themselves are a lot of fun but because many of them need to be unlocked the base game feels strangely limited. Each game is simple, which makes it perfect for a party game, but they struggle to hold your interest after three or four repeats, which can happen within a single match. There’s a huge problem with skill mismatches too – all of the games are predominantly skill based so if anyone in your group has played each one before, they’re going to win. Nintendo smartly avoided this in many of their games by adding mechanics to equalise the playing field a little between skill and luck (I’m looking at you Blue Shell) but in Move or Die it can quickly become a one-sided battle, particularly online where there’s a small community that’s quite hardcore and willing to destroy anyone they get matched up against.

Move or Die is best played with friends (like any party game) and the fact both local and online multiplayer is an option is a huge bonus. It’s certainly a lot of fun in short bursts and for £10.99 it’s not too expensive either. Just don’t expect to get hours and hours of fun out of it.

Verdict 7

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Gridom – A tool to find other gamers

Gridom-logo-BLUE

As interconnected and social as gaming is right now, it can often feel pretty lonely. If you’re playing through a co-op game like Borderlands by yourself it feels like half a game, but as you get older your friends have other commitments, they might not have the same game, or they might not even game at all anymore. You could set your game to public and let anyone in, but most of the time they won’t be using a mic, they won’t be wanting to do the same thing as you and there’s a decent chance they’ll be actively trying to troll you rather than enjoy the game alongside you. So what can you do? Sign up to Gridom.

Gridom is a website that allows you to sign up and create or search for game lobbies for a selection of games. It takes seconds to set up a lobby, select your platform and region and describe what you want to do. Then anyone can see what it is you want to do, whether you have a mic or not and then join if they’re interested. This takes you to a sleek chat lobby that lets you iron out the finer details. Choose the difficulty, decide who’s hosting, work out how you’re going to chat by sharing Teamspeak or Skype details. While you’re waiting for people to join your lobby you can still go look around for others without leaving and once you’re full, you just start up your game, get everyone in and then click on the shield icon to let the website know that you’re done. This closes the lobby down so people aren’t having to join dead games.

gridom_chat

We spoke to the creators of Gridom and it’s reassuring how much they care about the finer details in this project. Yes you have to register but that’s by design. There’s no sinister data tracking or advertising, instead it gives them to capacity to avoid toxic behaviour, something that has been pushing people away from gaming communities for the last five years or so. If you’re giving yourself a bad name amongst the community, you could be banned. Hopefully this will lead to a faith that if you find a group on Gridom, you’re going to be able to have a good game with them.

At the moment there’s 28 games that can be searched for, but not all of them are the most obvious choices. There is Call of Duty, Halo and Destiny. But then there’s also Terraria, Hearthstone and The Golf Club. New games will be added and rotated through consistently but there’ll always be a wide variety to cater to different tastes. There’s no elitism present, no pretension of being purely for ‘pro’ players. Everyone is welcome, on any platform for any type of multiplayer game. If you’re a casual Smash Bros player who needs a sparring partner, you can find someone. If you just want to mess around with unlimited poke balls, you can do that too.

We’re excited about the potential for Gridom, but as with most communities, it’s only going to thrive once the word is out. So help out and tell your friends!

See you on Gridom.

You can join Gridom at www.Gridom.com

 

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Prison Architect Preview (PC)

Despite all my rage

prison architect_2013_04_14_11_14_53_398

Prison Architect is bleak. Within the sim-genre, if you’re as old as I am, you’ve probably done some pretty bleak things; you’ve guillotined tongues in Theme Hospital, opened unfinished or otherwise lethal rollercoasters in RCT, enjoyed the fun of an escaped lion in Zoo Tycoon, but you’ve never seen bleak like Prison Architect. I won’t spoil the tutorial as it’s so much fun, but you’ll hate yourself by the end, and judging by the last twelve months that’s the sign of an awesome game.

Continue reading Prison Architect Preview (PC)

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter