Console Obsession My Wordpress Blog Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:22:22 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Filthy Lucre PS4 Review Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:18:31 +0000 Publisher: Fabrik Games  Developer: Fabrik Games  Genre: Stealth/Action  

Players: 1-2  Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

Let’s start by getting one thing clear – despite even the developer advertising this game as a shooter, first and foremost Filthy Lucre is all about stealth. Yes, you could go into a level guns blazing, but the game mostly encourages stealth with all the game mechanics geared towards stealthy gameplay.

In Filthy Lucre, your job is to rob, burgle and loot different building types and environments, such as a manor, bank, a scrapyard, a high-rise and other such places. You choose from one of 8 characters and they are tasked with entering one of these areas with there being a main goal for you to achieve and other challenges located around the environment for you to complete as well, which earns you experience points to level up your skills and money to buy more weapons and gear once you have reached the required level. The concept of the game is a simple one and Filthy Lucre is a game that doesn’t really bring anything new to the stealth genre, only simplifying what we have already seen. The only difference is that this game is played with a top-down view which allows the player to have more of a visual coverage of an area – just about.


After reaching heat level 4, you are given 60 seconds to escape before the hit squad is sent in.

Filthy Lucre for me was a trial and error based game; you go into a level, take down some of the roaming enemies, nick some loot, all whilst learning the patterns of the enemies movements and what rooms are where, so that if you are caught and die, you will know better next time around. The game has been criticised for having poor AI and whilst you can kill an enemy within 3 feet of another or sneak by them or near to them clearly in their line of sight without them reacting, that’s not to say the game isn’t without its challenges. It took me numerous attempts to complete a level – if you aim for the main goal and then exit the game, it makes for quite the easy time, though if you also aim for the extra challenges, then you’ll be setting up much more of a challenge for yourself as you take that bit longer to find and loot everything you can whilst avoiding capture by the enemy. Another element that ups the ante is the fact that if you die, you have to start the level right from the beginning – there are no checkpoints in the game and with some of the areas being quite vast, you do have to use your stealth skills tactically.

The skills that you go into a level with are very simple – it’s all about duck and cover, your character hiding and sneaking around furniture, walls, cupboards, tables, filing cabinets and other objects in the environment, and steadily making their way down hallways, corridors and other open areas, keeping an eye out for any wandering enemies. You are armed with a gun and a couple of secondary weapons and you can try and go into a level without knocking out anyone or you can go in and take down as many of the enemies as possible, which makes your final escape a lot quicker and easier, especially as for the most part the exit is where you start from. You could take down enemies by sneaking up behind them and breaking their necks or use objects in the environment to draw the enemies attention and then sneak up behind them and break their necks, or just sneak past if you are opting not to kill anyone. If you choose to go in guns blazing it ups the challenge just that bit more as you’ll obviously be drawing enemy attention to yourself as well as the bullets from their guns and, as mentioned, if you die, you have to start all over. Fortunately I found though that the enemies in the game must have hearing damage from shooting so many guns; if you shoot an enemy in a room – before they are aware of your presence – any other enemies in that room will hear and start shooting at you, though enemies in any other rooms don’t and so won’t come to their co-workers aid, even if they are only next door.


If a camera picks up a dead body, this will also increase your Heat meter.

What makes this game more of a stealth game than a shooter is the presence of a Heat meter and going in guns blazing will increase this Heat, which is something that you don’t want. There are 4 levels and the more you confront enemies, the more your Heat increases and if it reaches level 4, you are given 60 seconds to escape. If you don’t manage to escape then you are in for a rough time as the hit squad will be sent in, and they are relentless. Your Heat acts as any other stealth games alarm bell, a meter that increases with every enemy that notices you and with every dead body that they find. Enemies can also call for backup, so even if only the enemies in one room confront you if they see you, if you don’t take them out quickly enough then you will soon find yourself surrounded by enemies trying to get you. Ammo is scarce in the game – there are ammo boxes where you can refill, though if you are under fire and run out of ammo, the best option I found was to run and hide as it takes just a bit too long trying to find and then pick up an enemies weapon under such heated circumstances. Once your Heat reaches level 4, it never decreases meaning enemies will always be on alert from then on, which means you’ll have to be extra vigilant if you do manage to escape and can continue the level.

In all honesty, for me the levels became very repetitive and tedious and this is largely because there are no checkpoints. Perhaps it is something that I have become accustomed to in modern gaming, as Filthy Lucre plays more like a game of old where you try a level, memorise it (there are no maps in the game), and then go back and try again if you fail, though in a game such as this, checkpoints would have been very welcome. The frustration starts setting in when you complete so much of a level, have looted everything you can possibly find, have managed to complete some of the set challenges and are very close to the final goal post, only to die and then need to start all over. For more experienced gamers, they might find it a breeze to play a game such as this, though for more casual players, they will find Filthy Lucre fun at first, but quickly becoming a bit of a chore. Thankfully the game does give you the option to play levels in any order you want, so if you want a breather, you can move on to something else.

Playing alone is an option, but playing with someone else in co-op mode will make things all the more fun, and slightly easier, especially the whole ‘guns blazing’ approach to gameplay. Two players can play in co-op mode (locally and online) and with an extra player, that means more ammo. The gameplay with an additional player is still trial and error, though some levels are made easier to complete with someone else helping. During combat you aim your gun using the analogue stick – which has never been my favourite way to aim a gun in a game – and can move it about in a 360 degree circle. I found the aiming and shooting to be a bit finicky at first, and also found that I was concentrating too much on how much ammo was left in my gun. I did begin to realise that once your gun is low on ammo, you can pick up an enemy’s weapon and this does make all the difference to whether you are successful. Secondary weapons include all the usual gear such as noise makers, stun grenades, frag grenades and, strangely, body hider, which allows you to hide a set number of bodies.


If you are alone and find yourself surrounded by too many enemies, chances are you will die. The game isn’t merciful at all. You stand a bit of a better chance with a second player.

Playing in co-op I found there was a lot of lag in the hideout – where your characters are residing – though it thankfully sorts itself out in the actual levels. You can also play co-op online, though it is a game where communication is vital and if you don’t use a headset, it can cause quite the frustration when you can’t tell your teammate to pick up the weapon next to them to help them during a shoot-out or warn them of an approaching enemy. Another slight bug I experienced was the loss of sound effects or looping sound effects continuing when it should have ended, though it isn’t so severe that it disrupts gameplay.

Story-wise, this was definitely not the biggest draw for me and I didn’t really understand what the story was about at all. There weren’t any cut-scenes, and you get the gist that you are working for someone, though the story never really caught my attention. Filthy Lucre has a dark British sense of humour, with enemies calling out their comrades names if they see their dead bodies and the boss you work for talking in a typical London-Cockney accent, giving the game a very gangster/organised crime feeling. The characters you play as are also unnamed – there is no information about them at all, besides them being noticeably male or female. The characters that you play as don’t even affect the gameplay; they really are cookie cutter characters with different designs, and nothing else. Filthy Lucre is definitely gameplay-focused and I feel is more focused towards multiplayer gameplay than single-player. As mentioned during levels, NPC call out the names of their co-workers, though this is the only bit of character ‘development’ in the game – needless to say, don’t go into this expecting the story to be deep.

Graphically the game is decent and characters move fluidly, though given the fact there are a total of 15 levels, for the first part of the game, there isn’t much variation in the environments you play in. You are given five areas, with the 5th area having to be unlocked depending on your skill rank. These areas include the aforementioned scrapyard, manor, water works, high-rise and bank, with each area having three levels to unlock. However, for the first 10 levels you’ll be playing in these five environments, with the only variation being that they become larger when you unlock the next level of that area, adding to the repetitiveness. Musically the game has a very subdued soundtrack which is the same throughout each area, with the music only changing as your Heat increases.

Overall, Filthy Lucre just doesn’t quite live up to the mark for me. The gameplay becomes very repetitive and annoying when you have to start all over again and even when you begin a new level, there isn’t much variation in gameplay. At least one checkpoint in the levels would have been very welcome with how large some of them can be, and it can feel very unfair when you have completed so many of the challenges, only to die at the hands of the enemies. I began to feel very jaded with this game and couldn’t even complete it – there’s always the risk of your luck changing in an instant and whilst this does add tension, after the umpteenth time trying a level, what starts out as a fun and immersive game quickly starts to grate on you.




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News – See the first action-packed 20 minutes of Gears of War 4 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:47:04 +0000 Microsoft have released a video to show what can be expected from the first 20 minutes of Gears of War 4 on Xbox One and PC.

Early on in the campaign the game will take you back to some of the key battles in the Gears of War universe, such as the Pendulum Wars as well as Emergence Day.

The events of Gears of War 4’s story takes place 25 years after those seen in Gears of War 3, and focuses on JD Fenix, son of Marcus.

Gears of War 4 will be released on Xbox One and PC on October 11th, so there really isn’t long to go now.



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News – Super Mega Baseball 2 announced, introduces online play Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:33:54 +0000 Focusing on local multiplayer, what was missing from the original Super Mega Baseball was online multiplayer. With the introduction of both co-op and competitive online play, the freshly announced sequel is about to rectify this.

Super Mega Baseball 2 is also going to have more realistic presentation, although will retain the personality of the original game. You’ll also be able to create your own leagues, and you’ll have a lot of customisable options, with everything from the number of teams, to their kits and stats being able to be adjusted.

The sequel also has the return of the Ego control system from the warmly received original game. The Ego system adapts to the skill of the player, and was met with much acclaim in the original game.

Super Mega Baseball 2 doesn’t have a release date as of yet, although the game will be released some time next year on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

If you haven’t played the original, Xbox One owners will meanwhile be able to experience the delights of it, with it being available on the Games with Gold service next month.



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News – Resident Evil and others coming to PS Plus next month Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:43:05 +0000 It’s unbelievable that it’s almost October again, and Sony have now also announced what is heading to PlayStation Plus.

From October 4th, you’ll be able to download the likes of Resident Evil and Transformers: Devastation on PS4. Resident Evil is of course the HD remaster of the GameCube remake of the much cherished survival horror game, while Transformers: Devastation was a well made game from PlatinumGames starring the Robots in Disguise, albeit one that was obviously cheaply made.

PS3 will meanwhile get off-road racing game Mad Riders, and God game From Dust, and Vita will deliver adventure game Code: Realize – Guardian of Rebirth, and Actual Sunlight, which is an adventure game that explores the effects of depression.



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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII PS3 Review Wed, 28 Sep 2016 12:51:43 +0000 Publisher: Square Enix  Developer: Square Enix  Genre: RPG  

Players: 1  Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox 360

One common theme in RPG narratives is the world being under threat from imminent destruction, but this often doesn’t prevent you from carrying out the most menial tasks for the inhabitants and there’s no penalty for doing so as the primary antagonist seems all too happy to wait whilst you journey around the world, reaping the rewards and in turn getting stronger for the showdown with him or her, it’s like he or she is just waiting to be obliterated by your ultimate weapons and such. With a clock that is constantly counting down in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, however, the threat feels real for once.

The game takes place in a world that is heading towards destruction. As with all Final Fantasy XIII games, the story is often a load of nonsense. It has some good ideas but all too often they are lost behind incomprehensible dialogue, whilst Lightning herself with her rose coloured hair and elaborate selection of outfits is visually striking, but a bit too boring and one note personality wise to truly warm to.lightning-returns-final-fantasy-13_2

The world has just seven days until it’s destroyed, but you’re able to extend this to up to seven days by collecting Eradia, gained by helping people out through traditional monster killing and item fetching. The time limit adds a layer of tension, but some people will find it too restrictive to be any fun. The only occasions when time stops flowing is during battles, cutscenes, when you’re in menus, and when you use the ability that temporarily freezes time.

Inhabitants in the world have a strict routine, for instance only appearing at a certain timeframe within a day, and the game has a freeform structure, so it’s left up to you to choose what you do with your remaining time in the ailing world.  It’s impossible to complete everything within a single play though and, as such, replay value is a strength of the game.

It’s a game of consequences, for instance escaping from battle will see you losing an hour of precious time, encouraging you to vanquish even the toughest of enemies. The game is split into four contrasting locations, each with their own distinctive visual styles and quests, and you must hop on a train to travel between them of which will cost an hour of time, though later on in the game you’ll get access to a teleport ability which has its own cost to take into consideration.

The combat system has the same basic concept of exploiting enemy weaknesses to stagger them, leaving them open. For the majority of the game, Lightning is the only character in combat, though you can equip up to three Scematas, which allows Lightning to essentially be three characters in one.

These all allow you to equip an outfit, weapon and shield, and often have built in skills as well as slots, where you can freely choose what skills to equip. It’s a very flexible system and it can be enjoyable playing around with it to discover the most efficient combinations. During combat, the three Scematas can be switched between to make use of their abilities, and they all have their own ATB gauge, limiting the number of actions you can perform with them before they have to go through a recharge process. Combat is fast paced and is an excellent blend of action and strategy that never gets boring for the duration of the game.

Lightning doesn’t level up in the traditional fashion, instead you’ll gain stat increases through the completion of quests and through your equipment. Abilities meanwhile can be upgraded by combining two of the same type.lightning-returns-final-fantasy-13_4

For a non online Final Fantasy game, there’s a surprising amount of aesthetic customization that can be carried out on Lightning. You can change the colours of her numerous outfits and there are countless adornments that you can equip, like masks, rabbit ears, and such. You can even go to work saving the world whilst wearing a comedy beard, which sort of jars with the moody tone of the story and Lightning herself, but is nevertheless fun, amusing and very Japanese.

You have EP (short for Energy Points) which can trigger a number of actions both in and out of battle and is gradually replenished through victory in battle. Enemies can be slowed down and perhaps most crucially time can be stopped for a while outside of battle, giving you the opportunity to carry out more tasks within a single day

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is one of those games that will split opinion. The combat system is wonderfully executed, while the side quests will be too repetitive to satisfy many. That time limit on the other hand will be an annoyance to those that want to take their time in exploring the world, whilst others will find it grants a welcome layer of tension and invention to Lightning’s last adventure.




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News – Battlefield 1 single player campaign trailer and details Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:02:32 +0000 Battlefield 1’s single player campaign will have you filling the boots of various soldiers, amongst these will be a fighter pilot, an armour crewman, an Arab rebel fighter as well as a message-runner, with the campaign spanning multiple war stories.

The campaign will apparently give you a certain amount of freedom that allows you to do your own thing from time to time, and you’ll also come across some historical figures from the time period. Expect to meet the likes of Laurence of Arabia as well as the Red Baron.

Official descriptions of the different stories can be seen below:

Friends in High Places

The allies are losing the war in the air. Britain struggles to compete with the German aces and the average lifetime of a combat pilot is 17 days. You must face these bleak odds and take to the skies for a noble fight over the western front. Intense dogfights, unexpected encounters, and a story of friendship await you.

Nothing is Written

In the Middle East deserts, Arab tribes rebel against the oppression of the Ottoman Empire. The Empire’s devastating artillery engage rebel forces wielding rifles from horseback. As a Bedouin warrior working alongside the legendary Lawrence of Arabia, you must find a way to take on the technologically superior enemy and destroy a deadly railgun.

Through Blood and Mud

In the autumn of 1918, British forces prepare for a mass assault on the town of Cambrai, France. With tank support, Allied Command believes a breakthrough is a certainty. But the Mark V tank has one major flaw: it is not reliable. Join a dysfunctional tank crew who battle their way behind enemy lines as they learn to work together.

Avanti Savoia

Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire are deadlocked among the Alps. Braced by snow-capped mountains, neither side can find a way to dislodge their enemy. Meanwhile, the Italian mountaineer regiment Arditi prepares an unorthodox assault. Don your Arditi armor and head up a mountainside as Italian and Austrian forces clash over a strategic fort.

The Runner

The British Empire intends to open a new front to the war with an unprecedented naval invasion of the Ottoman homeland. The ships gathered for the Gallipoli Landings — the D-Day of World War 1 — carry over half a million men. As an Anzac runner you’ll witness the heat of epic bombardments and a beach landing, as well as covert deliveries of urgent life-or-death messages across the frontline.

Battlefield 1 is due for release on October 21st on PS4, Xbox One and PC.



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News – What to expect from Games with Gold next month Sun, 25 Sep 2016 13:17:56 +0000 It’s that time of the month already in which Microsoft announce what is coming to their Games with Gold service. Read on to find out what can be expected in October.

First up is the charismatic and cartoon-y Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings on Xbox One, which will be available at no extra cost for Xbox Live Gold subscribers for the entire month of October. Following the cartoon-y Baseball game on Xbox One is jailbreak game The Escapists, which will come available from October 16th, and will remain available until November 15th.

Xbox 360 games will meanwhile include MX vs. ATV Reflex, which will be available from October 1st to October 15th, and then a day later on October 16th, apocalyptic survival game I am Alive will be available to download at no extra cost until October 31st.



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Dear Esther: Landmark Edition PS4 Review Sun, 25 Sep 2016 12:37:58 +0000 Publisher: Curve Digital  Developer: The Chinese Room  Genre: Walking Simulator, Adventure  

Players: 1  Age Rating: 7+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One

From the team that made Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture comes the game that popularised the walking simulator, Dear Esther, a story driven game recognised for its complete lack of gaming mechanics and for challenging the idea of what makes a game a game.


The graphics are some of the highlights of the game and make for a haunting atmosphere.

Any gameplay is minimal – at times you’ll use a torch and you can zoom the camera in and out – though mostly your only objective is to wander around an island in the Scottish Herbrides. Moving around, you reach certain areas that will then trigger dialogue from the forlorn narrator who is reading letters to a woman known as Esther. Story-wise, it can feel very confusing with its intent to be open to interpretation and whilst the voice acting is decent, I found that the way in which the narrator spoke was rather pompous, spouting sentences full of words that makes the story sound too overly dramatic. The narrator certainly isn’t a relatable chap, sounding more like a university lecturer than an ordinary human being; I certainly found myself numerous times asking who in the heck talks that way?

Mostly you’ll be walking around and taking in the scenery, and the graphics are certainly glorious, especially during one section that takes place in some caves. The water effects are some of the best and the way in which the cave walls look damp and moist brings the environment to life. The lighting in the caves makes it look as though you have reached somewhere magical and fantastical, green and blue lighting giving rocks and boulders an almost neon glow. Even the little mushrooms scattered about glow ominously. The environments have been done in such a way as to make you feel you are really there, drawing you in with small details such as the wind blowing and howling as you stroll through the vast hills. Dear Esther certainly succeeds in being a very atmospheric game. In motion, the game is like a picture come to life and easily draws you in with its mature tone. Any music in the game is also minimal though can be heard at pivotal points, and what is there is excellent. The times when there is no music has an equally large impact with only the sounds of the environment making the game feel all the more emphatic.

Unfortunately though, Dear Esther is a game that is supposed to evoke emotions and whilst at times I did feel drawn into the game, this is mostly thanks to the wonderfully recognised environments and not the story-telling. I felt confused by the story and, given that the game does have randomised dialogue, it can make for some questionable moments where you’ll be asking why the main character is saying such strange things, things that will only make more sense on a second playthrough. The only problem I have is with the narrator. His way of talking is not relatable and at times he even sounds a tad over-dramatic, elevating quickly between calmness and anger. Despite the dialogue sounding almost poetic, the narrator failed to draw any sympathy from me and at times it sounds as though he is talking in riddles. I also felt I never got to know Esther as a person; you find out certain things about her, such as why the narrator is reading letters to her, though you never really learn anything about her background or anything from her day to day life – she’s just a character that something bad happened to and you’re supposed to feel sympathy because of this, and the narrator has been sorely affected by it. There’s no real context behind it. There is a nice twist at the end that did catch me off guard, though with such a confusing story, it fell rather flat. A different narrator and style of storytelling would have been a much better option, having someone more down-to-earth and with a calmer tone that gradually begins to sound enraged as the story reaches its peak.


There are objects in the game that you can find if you are looking closely that add a bit more depth to the story.

Being the Landmark Edition, the game does have additional content, although this only comes in the form of a directors commentary. This extra does add some sort of hunting/searching gameplay to the levels as the directors commentary is dotted about throughout the areas that you need to find. To hear the dialogue, you walk about as usual and walk into a speech bubble in the shape of a piece of lined paper. The commentary does give you more of an insight into the games design and even the story, so for those who are confused, the directors commentary will hopefully shed more light on what Dear Esther is actually about.

The game as a whole though made me feel as though I needed a degree in creative writing to fully understand what was happening – yes, it has been done in such a way that it allows players to pick at the story and come to their own conclusions and to encourage further playthroughs, though it comes across as very vague – at times I felt I could understand the story and then there were times that made me question my conclusions (which turns out was the developers intention, so well done!). Despite Dear Esther’s intent to encourage further playthroughs though, the story doesn’t ever feel as though it comes together; it’s a game that has an ending open for interpretation, but this only makes it feel incomplete and unsatisfying, raising more questions than answers. A lot of subtle detail has gone into enhancing the story, from the music to the design of the environment and what can be found in it, to the narration, though this will be one game that will make some players feel very smart and others feel very dumb indeed.




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RIVE PS4 Review Sat, 24 Sep 2016 13:18:48 +0000 Publisher: Two Tribes  Developer: Two Tribes  Genre: Action/Platformer 

Players: 1  Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

There are a lot of things in gaming that just don’t exist in reality, and some of these things really are a Godsend. Take dying for example, if you die in the real world, you aren’t able to press a button to resurrect yourself in order to try again in the same way that you can in a game, and in RIVE restarts are massively important.

Dutch developer Two Tribe’s gaming swansong is a concoction of action and platforming in which you take control of a spider-like tank inside of an abandoned spaceship. Taking place across 12 missions with brief intermission sections, the game is explosive and intense, and it also offers a tall challenge to anyone brave enough to face it. The steep difficulty level of the game means that the default mode is actually called hard mode, so it goes without saying that plenty of frustration can be expected from the off.

It’s not as if RIVE is a completely unfair game though, as that’s not actually the case at all, although you may very well find yourself repeating sections time and time again before you are able to overcome them. The game does have a large number of checkpoints, it takes more than a single hit to kill you, and if you die a hundred times (which is very, very likely), soft mode unlocks, which makes the game slightly easier, although at the cost of halving your score at the end of the level. With that said, if you are chasing high scores, then soft mode isn’t for you, but if you are having difficulty making any real progress and just want to see as much of the game as possible, this little option may just be your best friend in the entire game. Once unlocked, soft mode can be toggled on and off at any time.


Things get a lot more brutal than this, believe me.

RIVE’s difficult nature doesn’t only come from its army of enemies, but it’s also often in the way that the action is presented to you. This is a game that frequently forces you to multitask, as there are often lots of enemies to fight off as well as obstacles to contend with, all thrown at you at once. As frustrating as the game can get at times, RIVE’s brand of action is nevertheless a brand that is rarely uninteresting, and it certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times.

The game uses the twin-stick shooter control scheme, which allows for 360 degree fire. Your Spider Tank is equipped with a machine gun that boasts unlimited ammo, but you also get access to a number of secondary attacks. There are four of these in the game, and you’ll unlock them by accumulating currency and making use of it at the upgrade station between levels, and you can also upgrade your armour here as well.

Secondary attacks include homing missiles, a shotgun, bouncing mines as well as an electrical attack, and when you have more than one installed in your tank, they can be switched between with a button press. Unlike the machine gun, these attacks are limited, which means it’s best to be more selective as to when to make use of them. If employed at the right time, the secondary attacks can get you out of some really tight spots.

Another thing that can help you get out of some tight spots is your tank’s hacking ability. You are able to hack certain enemy robots, and they’ll then fight beside you as long as they manage to stay in one piece; some attacking enemies, and others healing you. I like the hacking feature, although perhaps there could have been a bit more strategy to it, as it’s basic in the way that you rarely get any choice as to which enemy to hack. Even when you have four or five options at your disposal, there’s rarely any opportunities to hack more than one type.

Back to better things, and the game has a number of references to popular classics such as Asteroids and Tetris, and there’s actually a pleasing enough amount of variation, which keeps things from growing stale. When the tank isn’t walking around on dry ground, it’s floating in zero gravity areas or walking under water. It really does feel as if the game has everything, although none of it feels as if it has been forced into the game just for the sake of being there.

If you do manage to complete the campaign, a further two gameplay options are unlocked: Speed Run and Single Credit modes. With one mode tasking you with getting through the game as quickly as possible and the other only allowing for a single death, both modes are obviously aimed at the more advanced player, although if you manage to abstain from switching on soft mode, then you may very well be an elite player by the game’s end.

Being that it’s their final game, Two Tribes went all out to try their hardest to make RIVE the best game that they have ever developed, and this has also resulted in the gaming having plenty of personality. Effort has gone into everything from the visuals to the dialogue and music to make sure that the game isn’t one that could easily be forgotten.


There’s not many bosses to face in RIVE’s campaign mode, although the ones that are present are decent enough.

Visually, RIVE has plenty of character. The game has an attractive cartoon-like art style, and the little tank you take control of is charismatic thanks to its animations. The game often also has plenty of things going on at once, which means that the explosive action is pleasing on the eye.

When it comes to its storyline, the game has personality thanks to its sense of humour. The bearded protagonist that is Roughshot coolly and cheesily wisecracks his way through the game, and I always looked forward to whatever he might say next. Other than its sense of humour though, the story never really goes in-depth, with the focus definitely being on the action. Lines of dialogue can also begin to get repetitive after awhile, particularly if you are forced to repeat a section over and over again.

Due to its mammoth difficulty level, RIVE is not the type of game that will appeal to everyone, but it also must be said that its skill-based gameplay rarely feels completely unfair. The game does have a generous helping of checkpoints, although that doesn’t mean that you won’t die many times, and it’s definitely a game that calls for swift reactions and the patience of a saint. When all is said and done, Two Tribes’ final title may turn out to be an excellent game with pleasing variety for those who have the patience to stick with it in the way that I was able to, but others will be turned off by the amount of frustration that may be experienced from as early as the second or third mission, with the game rarely allowing you to pause for breath during many of its heavy and brutal action sequences.




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Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas Xbox One Review Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:27:32 +0000 Publisher: FDG Entertainment  Developer: Cornfox & Bros.  Genre: Action RPG 

Players: 1  Age Rating: 7+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4

You don’t have to play Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas for long to realise what popular series the people behind the game were inspired by. Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series has long impressed with its blend of exploration and combat, and Oceanhorn takes much of its inspiration from The Windwaker, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. Forgetting about its inspiration, this isometric action RPG is definitely an absorbing enough adventure that is well worth playing in its own right.

Oceanhorn may sound like a name for a fancy boat, although as the rest of the title suggests, it’s actually a sea monster. Playing as a nameless young hero, your father goes off on a journey in a bid to slay the sizeable monster, although he doesn’t return, so it’s up to you to find out what happened to him as well as to slay the creature. It’s a functional plot, but there’s little additional depth to it, and it’s largely forgettable as far as the cast of characters and memorable narrative events are concerned.

Oceanhorn’s world certainly fares better than its story. Like The Windwaker, you explore the world by climbing on board a boat, and setting sail across the ocean. At first, you have little interaction when in the boat, with it heading towards the instructed destination automatically, although you are soon able to fire a weapon from the vessel, allowing you to kill any enemies or remove any obstacles in your way as well as to collect items and coins as you sail across the beautiful blue ocean. The sailing is simple, but it’s also effective enough.


The game has a stamina system, with the likes of dashing and defending yourself with your shield using it up. Stamina refills, however, after a short break from doing any of these things.

Across the duration of the game, you’ll discover new islands to set sail towards, and some of these islands are optional, which means that exploration and discovering secrets are a must if you want to see as much of the game world as possible. Talking to people as well as finding messages can unlock new islands, and upon heading to these places, you may discover that you can’t get to certain areas until you unlock a specific skill at a later point in the game, which means that revisiting particular islands can be worthwhile, and brings to mind the likes of Metroid and Castlevania. The game certainly succeeds in the way that it feels like a world that needs to be explored, and the adventure can potentially last for over 10 hours, which means that there’s more than a decent amount of content for the £11.99 asking price.

When it comes to the rest of the adventure, the puzzle design is basic but serviceable enough and, like they did with me, some of them may stump you for awhile. A lot of the puzzles involve you moving blocks around and hitting switches, and they don’t really get any more complex than this, which will surely be a disappointment to those wanting to be faced with an enormous and puzzling challenge. Still, these retro style puzzles will be welcome to many who are wanting to play such a classic action RPG, and it’s just enjoyable to attempt to explore each island from top to bottom as you try to hit 100%, heading into dungeons and caves and whatnot, and finding chests stashed away in hidden corners.

The combat is also as equally basic in its design as the puzzles, but, again, it does the job. You begin the game with only a stick to your name; although this is later replaced by a sword and a shield, and you’ll eventually also have a bow and arrow. The combat is relatively clunky in the way that it’s not always obvious when enemies are going to strike, which means that it takes the edge off any real tactical play. Still, like I said, it does the job well enough and also offers simple enjoyment, although more in depth combat wouldn’t go amiss in the upcoming sequel.

You’ll also get your hands on a handful of magic spells in the game, which includes wind, fire, ice, and more. These spells don’t only help out during combat situations, but they are also required to solve some of the game’s puzzles. You’ll also unlock helpful equipment such as bombs, a bow and arrow, trencher boots that allow you to jump across certain gaps as well as to roll out of the way of enemy attacks, and a fishing rod for when you fancy a spot of fishing. When mentioning some of that equipment, you can probably understand where the Metroid and Castlevania exploration comparisons come in.


The simplicity of the sailing may be due to the game’s iPhone and iPad roots.

The game also has a likeable challenge system that presents you with a mountain of tasks to aim for over the game’s duration. To name a few examples, tasks include moving chests and other objects around 100 times, collecting your first 25 coins, killing three enemies with a single blow, and breaking walls with bombs 10 times. Completing any tasks will earn you extra XP, and once you have earned enough XP to reach a new level you are granted a new title (or Adventurer level) as well as various perks, which includes such helpful things as faster sailing, additional bombs, and more. It’s a system that feels very rewarding.

Oceanhorn is a beautifully eye-catching game in its entirety. True, this isn’t the kind of game that is pushing today’s consoles, but it’s a crisp, smooth and vibrant adventure all the same that is based on the maximum settings of the remastered PC version. It’s a game that looks utterly charming and it could quite easily be mistaken for a game that was developed in Japan as opposed to Finland. Captivating visuals are one way to draw you into a game world early on, and Oceanhorn manages to do just that with its colourful and inviting world. The music is also wonderful, which isn’t surprising considering that the likes of Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito were involved in composing some of the tracks.

With simple combat, a forgettable story, and ancient puzzle design, Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Seas may not be the most taxing or innovative game in the world, but it’s certainly an absorbing one thanks to its beautiful and vibrant world as well as its successful sense of adventure. The game may not be up to the standards of the series that inspired it, but Oceanhorn is still a more than playable adventure in its own right, and one that deserves plenty of love and attention lavished upon it.




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