Video Game Review – Halo 5 (Xbox One)

Nath sometimes reviews games. This is one of those reviews.

Here it is, the latest instalment of the Halo franchise, the game that made the Xbox a success (probably) and they are still cashing in on the name. I am now starting to think it is loosely linked to Pirates of the Caribbean as they both had brilliant first instalments, followed by a trilogy that was pretty good and that’s where it should’ve stopped. However we got 2 more instalments that weren’t as good as the originals and now feel like the franchise is being cashed in on. Please note that this review contains spoiler alerts.

I’ll be honest, I did enjoy the first three games, especially the first one, Humans Vs the Covenant then suddenly the Flood intervenes and tries to mess everything up on the halo. Since Halo 4, the Flood and halos don’t seem to exist any more, in fact there are no halos in Halo 5. Instead of the Flood, we have the Prometheans, an ancient race that have their own weapons and unique fighting style. I don’t like them to be honest, the Flood had a somewhat zombie element about it, the Prometheans are just another Covenant but with better weapons (apart form the Plasma Sword and that is still in the game).

Nevertheless I started playing the game with an open mind and first things first, there is a new Spartan, Spartan Locke and he commands the team Osiris which contains Nathan Fillion so off to a brilliant start. But the storyline failed to grip me in any way. You play as Spartan Locke and the Master Chief throughout the game. Spartan Locke is brilliant leader and character, but the Master Chief seems to have changed, normally straight and to the point, does missions without being asked, however he decides to venture off and search for Cortana.

Locke

The gameplay is the standard Halo gameplay, you run around with 2 weapons battling through numerous enemies using a mixture of shooting, throwing grenades and punching aliens. Maybe stumble upon a vehicle or mounted weapon or too and utilise that to it’s full potential. The only new things about the gameplay is the ability to charge into enemies, which I saw as a bit of a copout to be honest. There are some new weapons or vehicles I think but nothing catches my eye.

There is a very good level on the Elite homeworld, but that’s about it. I found this very disappointing, only 1 decent level throughout the entire game. Plus the hint system is too easy to use, if you’re stuck, just press down and the game tells you where to go, they could’ve made it a bit more difficult to solve problems.

The only decent thing about the game is Spartan Locke, if there is a Halo 6, I hope we see more of him and less of the Chief. Looks like the baton has to be passed as 343 industries have Spartan Locke the new face of Halo.

Halo5

The multiplayer does save the game a little bit, there are the standard games modes, Team Slayer being my particular favourite, however Warzone has now been introduced. Warzone is where you have to establish a base and take over 3 markers before the enemy team does before attempting to wipe out their base. Throw in some boss fights and Covenant anarchy and it makes it very enjoyable. You also gain points when you are playing and you can purchase better weapons when you respawn. I have enjoyed playing this mode more than the actual game itself.

The rest of the multiplayer is pretty standard, however I do seem to be playing the same map over and over again, maybe a bug in the system that needs addressing. The power weapons (Sniper Rifle etc) seem to respawn at random moments but you are told when they do so you all rush in and try and obtain it. I find the Light Rifle to be a bit more useful, it is basically the Promethean Battle Rifle but with a bit more accuracy.

Halomulti

All in all, the game isn’t brilliant. I wish I hadn’t paid full price for it, definitely one to look out for in pre-owned sections. The storyline could’ve been better, I feel like it’s been banking on a great idea since the Xbox days but taking the best part out and putting a mediocre part in. In my opinion, I don’t think there has been a decent Halo storyline since Reach. I would give this game 5 annoying Promethean Dog things out of 10, needs a better storyline, but an OK game overall.

Nath

I Wanna Be the Very Best – Pokémon Go

Nath is excited about Pokémon Go. Like, really excited guys.

I have been a Pokémon fan for many years now. I watched the cartoons, saw the films, played nearly every game and collected the cards. Safe to say that Pokémon has made a lot of money out of me over the years, but I did think that it was somewhat lacking a little bit as with all the latest technology that was available, there was a distinct lack of a 3D port. There is a free-to-play one online I believe but still something that should be looked into.

 

However, September 10 2015, a massive announcement was made, particularly for the fans of the franchise. Pokémon GO, a Pokémon game app on your smart phone that links to a Bluetooth device that sits on your wrist that uses real world location information to capture, battle, train and trade virtual Pokémon. This means you can be a real life Pokémon master. Words cannot describe how excited I am about this. The release is due in 2016 and will be available on iOS and Android devices (sorry windows phone users).

Early notes say the app is free to purchase but there will be in-app purchases like most apps available. I haven’t found any details regarding the wristband as of yet, all I know is it will flash and vibrate if you run into a Pokémon in the real world. This is a massive benefit for myself as my job does take me all over the UK so hopefully I can explore most locations and hopefully capture a variety of Pokémon. No doubt I may have to start with a Rattatta or a Pidgey, but still Pidgey will eventually evolve, I never bother with Rattatta to be honest. I certainly don’t want to be running through forests to try and capture Beedrills, I hate bees.

I believe this a fantastic move by Nintendo. To be honest they did say they wouldn’t enter the smartphone market, but this first move is absolutely fantastic. It also also means it will force children who play Pokémon to go outside whilst trying to find Pokémon. Maybe in the future they can set gyms up around the world or hold Pokémon tournaments like they do in the series in order to see who is the true Pokémon master. I would sign my name up for that in a heartbeat.

However there could be some issues along the way. My first thoughts are how many Pokémon will they release into the world. My knowledge of Pokémon goes up to Platinum and that’s about it. I could think of a team consisting of anything within that range, but anything after I would be stuck. If the original 150 are released then I would be absolutely fine.

Another problem is what are the in-app purchases? Pokéballs? Master Balls? Pokémon Centres? We will need more information, but I imagine this will come in time. Will there be a currency system used in the current games as well? Can you buy currency with real world money? I certainly hope not as the game will be flooded with money and would cause further problems.

Also what about water Pokémon? My phone is waterproof but I don’t want to be searching for Gyarados in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Also it rains a lot in the UK, will we just be inundated with water Pokémon and will my Charmander die in the rain?

Aside from the potential issues, I do believe this is something we can get excited for. Being a real-world Pokémon master would be epic. I’m sure going outside has it’s benefits too. I imagine it may get a bit annoying though if I say I want to go to a beautiful part of the UK and then suddenly stop and say “OMFG there’s a rare Pokémon here, stop I have to battle it.” It won’t matter though, I will be the the very best that no one ever was.

Nath

Late Video Game Review – Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Nath sometimes reviews games. This is one of those reviews.

Firstly I must apologise for not submitting a review for the latest Batman: Arkham Knight. I have been very busy with work and studying so had no time to write a full review but in short it is brilliant, go and buy it and play it to your hearts content.

However after playing it I found an empty void, I tried a few different games to fill it, such as the new Witcher game however, I just didn’t get into it, I found The Evil Within boring so I got stuck playing Call of Duty: Ghosts for a while. I noticed the latest Metal Gear Solid installment and thought I would give it a go. I am a fan of the series, however I find the games a bit hit and miss. The first Metal Gear Solid on Playstation was fantastic, and the same could be said for Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater. However, Guns of the Patriots I found very boring, it was more an interactive movie than a game, but I carried on nonetheless. I didn’t play Ground Zeroes but I was told it wasn’t completely essential, instead I went in head first to the Phantom Pain. Please note, there are spoiler alerts ahead.

It can be said that is a little different from the other games, however I had heard that Ground Zeroes was similar. It is not a linear, one way stealth game, it is an open sandbox style game with 2 maps. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to use stealth to infiltrate camps and take out enemies, but you can use your surroundings to your advantage. You get the tranquilizer gun to take out your enemies instead of killing them (which gets you points and points mean prizes) and an arsenal of sniper rifles, assault rifles, rocket launchers etc at your disposal. You also develop your base for your army and send out your squad mates on missions. But how do you hire your army? Well you don’t. You kidnap them and basically hope they join or put them in jail until they join. And how do you kidnap them? By using a giant balloon that flies stunned or asleep enemies into the air, which by the way is hilarious.

The gameplay is brilliant, you do have to use lots of buttons to shoot like the old games but this didn’t bother me at all. You can also restrain enemy soldiers and interrogate them and then choose to kill them or not. I mostly suffocate them and then kidnap them. Each soldier is usually ranked from S++ to E on skills in Intel, Support, Combat, Research, Medical and Base Development. Upon leveling up each area, you can develop new weapons and vehicles.

The storyline is excellent, it is mainly developing the base by carrying out missions and side missions. Side missions usually include extracting highly skilled soldiers, recovering blueprints and saving prisoners. The main missions are a lot more difficult and for some reason Mr Hideo Kojima decided to put credits before and after each mission. This is fine, however the credits show you who you can expect to meet during the mission which gives the game away. It’s slightly annoying as you now know what to expect in each mission. There is something I do love about the missions however. You can be sneaking through an enemy encampment and reaching a group of people to extract when suddenly, Hideo Kojima throws a curve-ball of Japanese lunacy to your prim and proper stealth game.

I won’t spoil it for you, but there are many weird and wonderful characters throughout the game that you need to look out for, however the one you most definitely will have seen is Quiet, the scantily clad sniper. You have an epic fire fight with her and then after much deliberation, she becomes your ally. She is very useful but she doesn’t always follow you. She’s not useful for stealth missions however, as at the beginning she only has a rifle that kills and as I said before, not killing people means prizes. You can equip her with a tranquilizer rifle if needs be, hopefully that will make stealth missions a lot easier.

Another aspect of the game I thoroughly enjoy is the Easter Eggs within the game. There are diamonds and resources to collect as well as posters, but the best item to collect is the cassette’s of 80’s music. They are dotted about each map and when discovered, they are added automatically to your playlist. And of course you can play them as you are playing the game, it makes the stealth harder but a lot more fun. I won’t lie, listening to Europe’s The Final Countdown whilst waiting to blow up some tanks is hilarious, but there are other classics available such as David Bowie’s Man Who Sold the World and Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart.

All in all it is a truly brilliant game, lots of action and adventure and a gripping storyline full of twists and turns along the way. I would give it 10 hilarious sheep extractions out of 10. Probably one of the best Metal Gear Solid games ever made and certainly one of the best games I have played this year. Fallout 4 isn’t too far away and I’m sure it will be epic, but it’s going to have to be spectacular to knock this game down.

Nath

EGX 2015 – Indie Games Part 4: Punch Club, Void & Meddler, Odonata

Adam and Kii once again head to EGX to check out some upcoming video games!

On our second indie focused day at EGX 2015 Kii and I split up to cover as many games as possible. It became pretty pretty obvious that we weren’t going to get to everything, but we tried our best! This is my final indie round up article (find the first three here here and here), and I’ll be talking about Punch Club, Void & Meddler, and Odanata.

 

Punch Club (PC, Mac, Linux & Mobile)

punch_club_logo_big_x2

Over in the Rezzed section I found Punch Club, developed by Lazy Bear Games and published by tinyBuild. This is a tycoon style fighting simulator, where you learn new fighting skills, work to keep yourself fed, train and try to find out who killed your father. In the short demo I played I did some benchpressing, got a job delivering pizza and brawled with some random street thugs, before eating a burger from a bin, tripping out and meeting someone who looked oddly like a Teenage Mutant Ninja… Alligator?

punch club 2

The game is packed with 80s/90s references and has a really nice twist on the standard tycoon formula, and as a tycoon/RPG hybrid has the potential to be incredibly addictive. Lazy Bear Games are aiming for release later this year on Steam and mobile platforms.

 

Odonata

20159329345_b4eb6419ba_o

Next up in the Leftfield Collection I had a go on Odonata, a top down 3d sandbox game in which you have to construct defences around your base to prevent enemy attackers, in this case weird looking metallic spiders, from destroying your data core. You can outfit your base with conveyor belts and automatic robot arms that can convert the scrap from the spiders your guns take out into supplies. The art style and automation of your base is really interesting, and the demo I played was fast paced and tricky (I failed 3 times). This was the first time the developers Rob Laro and Anneka Tran have showed off the game, and it looks like it’s going to be well worth keeping an eye on.

 

Void & Meddler (PC & Mac)

01

Whilst still in the Rezzed section I sat down for about 40 minutes in front of Void & Meddler from NO cvt, a 6 act point and click adventure story set over 3 episodes, the first of which is out on Steam in October. Inspired by synthwave and 80s noise rock, this cyberpunk story takes Fyn, a tired and disconnected hipster who basically hates everything, through a search across the city for her memories.

05

Like all good point and click adventures, I basically had to comb over every single inch of each scene to find out what to do next, and even then one of the developers had to point out the fairly esoteric use of a guitar pedal that I had picked up. Fyn is aggressively pretentious and the dialogue reads like a cyberpunk noir, over the top and grungily bratty, so while it does make it difficult to root for Fyn it is very entertaining. Almost like playing Ghost World, mixed with Blade Runner. NO cvt are aiming to release the first episode on Steam in October.

 

And that is it for my coverage of EGX this year. We tried to cover as many games as possible, and over the next few days we’ll be getting Kii’s thoughts on some of the games she played, along with a podcast special at the end of the week where we’ll talk about EGX 2015 in general. Make sure you check out all of these awesome

EGX 2015 – Indie Games Part 3: VA-11 HALL-A, Knee Deep & Megaton Rainfall

Adam and Kii once again head to EGX to check out some upcoming video games!

On our second indie focused day at EGX 2015 Kii and I split up to cover as many games as possible. It became pretty pretty obvious that we weren’t going to get to everything, but we tried our best! This is my third indie round up article (find the first two here and here), and I’ll be talking about VA-11 HALL-A, Knee Drop and Megaton Rainfall.

 

VA -11 HALL-A (PC, Mac, Linux, iPad, PS Vita)

vallhalla logo

 

This game caught my eye as I was wandering around yesterday, mainly because my love of Ghost in the Shell leads me to gravitate towards anything using the word ‘cyberpunk’. VA -11 HALL-A from Sukeban Games is a ‘cyberpunk bartender action’ game, in which you play as Jill the bartender, as she has to talk to weird customers and mix and blend a variety of different drinks suited to the person’s tastes or mood.

vallhalla

After a quick tutorial on how to mix drinks, the demo threw me into dealing with Streaming-chan, a pastiche of a YouTube vlogger who has turned her life into a 24 hour livestream. The interactions are funny and lewd, and the drinks mixing sim mechanics are simple (I did still manage to misread a recipe and mess it up). After a bit of research (see the trailer above) it seems that this all takes place in a dark, oppressive dystopia seemingly revealed through the conversations with those who live in it, rather than through stark plot exposition. That should be a very interesting story telling choice that I think should work really well. You can check out the prologue over here and support the development of the main game too.

 

Knee Deep (PC, Mac)

knee deep logo

Over in the Indie Mega Booth I spent a little while watching some people play the Knee Deep demo. One of the developers from Prologue Games kindly filled me in on the details of their game, a demo build of ‘Act 2 – The Festival’, the second of a three episode adventure game series. Knee Deep is a ‘swamp noir’ story set in the small Florida town of Cypress Knee, following the events of the apparent suicide of a washed up Hollywood actor. The story unfolds through the eyes a few characters, with the player picking their responses to different conversations and situations.

KneeDeep_Act1-11-1024x640

The small section of episode two that was shown off was brief, just enough to intrigue without giving much away. Knee Deep’s story is presented in the form of a stage play, with an air of overly dramatic conspiracy and noir dialogue that manages to come off as compelling rather than cheesy. Besides an interesting story, the unique element of the game that sold it to me was the way the theatrical elements are incorporated into the structure of the game as if it were an actual play, with set pieces and props moving away as characters transitioned between scenes, and spotlights focused on the lead.

Knee Deep is an intriguing and different game that is well worth checking out. Act 1 is already available on Steam for PC and Mac, with Act 2 coming in November and Act 3 due next year.

 

Megaton Rainfall

MR

Finally we have Megaton Rainfall from Pentadimensional Games, a work in progress game that I played over in the Leftfield Collection. This is a superhero simulator, where the player controls an indestructible god-like superbeing attempting to defend the world from alien invaders. Featuring full sized cities, you can fly around at full speed to combat monolithic ships and weapons before they vaporise whole buildings.

For a game quite early in development this was very cool. The actual flying controls feel very natural, fast and “realistic” (I know people can’t actually fly…), giving the player the feeling that they are controlling Superman or Dr Manhattan. The enemies and combat are a little simplistic, but the atmosphere of the game was terrific, and presumably  even better when using virtual reality (there was a demo set up with an Oculus but it was taken when I wanted to play).  Keep an eye out for this one.

 

I’ll be back tomorrow with my final indie games round up article from this year’s EGX.

 

EGX 2015 – Indie Games Part 2: The Escapists: The Walking Dead, Tango Fiesta & Move or Die

Adam and Kii once again head to EGX to check out some upcoming video games!

One of the aspects of this year’s EGX that has really impressed us is the scale of the indie games section (though the AAA games section is admittedly much bigger, check out what I thought of a couple of those here). We really wanted to focus on the indie turnout, and ended up having so many games to choose from that we were never going to get them all! This is my second article from EGX2015 focussing on indies (first one is here!), this time looking at The Escapists: The Walking Dead, Tango Fiesta and Move or Die.

 

The Escapists: The Walking Dead (PC, Xbox One)

wpid-20150925_122250.jpg

The Escapists, an 8-bit prison escape simulator, was an award winning indie hit earlier this year. Now Team 17 are combining it with the immensely popular The Walking Dead, coming out at the end of the month on Steam and Xbox One. Utilising the mechanics of the original game, The Escapists: TWD blends the time management and routine aspects with good old fashioned zombie survival, taking familiar faces from the comic book and TV series and challenging the player to escape the zombie hordes. Team 17 were showing off the tutorial and one of the five levels of the game in the EGX Rezzed area, and as a big fan of The Walking Dead I couldn’t exactly pass up a chance to give it a try!

TWD

After a funny little 8 bit reenactment of the stand off that puts Rick Grimes in a coma, the tutorial section of the game is the start of ‘Days Gone Bye’, where Rick wakes up alone in a deserted hospital. The game guides you through picking up items and crafting tools to progress through the level, before you get chased out by a large group of walkers. The top down view means it’s unlikely you’re going to get surprised by anything, but it was still pretty amusing knowing that the only way to go was straight into a room full of the undead. After escaping the hospital I tried my hand at the Herschel’s farm level, meeting up for head count with various TWD characters and trying to do chores and quests before arming everyone up to investigate the mysterious barn.

Unfortunately I ended up dying horribly, as I rescued a downed Tyresse and tried to fight off several zombies with a sicle. And Tyresse ran off after I helped him up! Regardless, this looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun, and fans of The Escapists and The Walking Dead should definitely check this out when it’s out on September 30th.

 

Tango Fiesta (PC, Mac)

header

Another game we had a go at in the Rezzed section was Tango Fiesta from Spilt Milk Studios. This was a top down co-op shooter for up to 4 players, essentially a bullet ridden love letter to cheesy 80s action films where the players mow down wave after wave of enemy soldiers through randomly generated levels before blowing up objectives or killing a boss. As we were walking past the art style really caught our eye, and we ended up glued in front of it for quite some time!

m90LXLw - Imgur

I’m going to be honest, it took us a couple of practice runs for us to stop being utterly terrible at the game. Kii was controlling John Strong (basically John McClane) and I played as Conchita, as we gunned our way through several levels of militia before fighting a boss with some sort of history with Strong. The dialogue is hilariously macho, and the gameplay is simplistic but a lot of fun. There is a decent range of guns to pick from, with a few different call backs to various films (I didn’t try the ghost trap but can’t imagine what that would do to some junta thugs). The action is so chaotic that it can be difficult to keep an eye on your health, with bullets flying all over the place. Fortunately your team mates can pick you up when you’re downed, which is pretty much the only reason why we managed to take down a boss.

We ended up playing for about half an hour before dragging ourselves away to check out some more games. Tango Fiesta just came out on Steam this week, so give it a go on PC and Mac.

 

Move or Die (PC, Mac & Linux)

MOD

The last game we ended up playing on our second day was Move or Die from Those Awesome Guys in the Indie Mega Booth area. This is an insanely fast-paced competitive multiplayer game, with up to 4 players (local or online) battling it out in a series of intense mini games all with a different end game, the only constant being that if you stay still, you die.

Screenshot 1
You pick your favourite skin and then the game randomly generates a list of minigames. There are loads of different game modes to enjoy, like stomping on each other, covering as many tiles as possible in your colour Splatoon-style, and pass the bomb. We ended up playing through several times. The first time Kii and I went up against one of the developers and a bot. The dev utterly destroyed us while we tried to get the hang of it, and we didn’t win a single round (it was still very fun though, and very quick). Luckily he didn’t gloat too much and he stepped back when two other guys turned up to try it out. Then it was a bit more of an even playing field. Move or Die is ridiculously fast-paced but very easy to pick up, and is a really great time. Check it out Steam Early Access.

 

Come back tomorrow for more of our impressions on the huge number of indie games at EGX 2015

EGX 2015 – Indie Games Part 1: Shadow Puppeteer, RPG Tycoon & Star Command Galaxies

Adam and Kii once again head to EGX to check out some upcoming video games!

For our second day at EGX 2015 we decided to focus mostly on the indie games sections, hugely represented over three areas: Rezzed, the Indie Mega Booth and the Leftfield Collection, along with some inclusion in the main console areas like Nintendo’s Nindies. Kii and I will be covering the games we got the chance to check out over the next few days, starting with Shadow Puppeteer, RPG Tycoon and Star Command Galaxies.

Shadow Puppeteer (Nintendo Wii U)

shadow puppeteer

One of the first games we had a look at was Shadow Puppeteer from Sarepta Studio, in the Nintendo section as it is coming out soon on Wii U (though it’s already been out for a while on Steam). It’s a single player or local co-op game, where you control a young boy and his shadow, playing through a series of puzzles that involve manipulating light and shadows to find a path through various levels. I can’t speak for how the relationship works in the single player game, but with Kii controlling the boy and me playing as his shadow we found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience. Initially it seemed like it was largely the boy helping the shadow through the world, but after a bit I got the chance to solve a few puzzles myself.

Screenshot_02

Shadow Puppeteer has a really rich atmosphere. It’s doesn’t seem to be a particularly difficult but the puzzles are very inventive, with some really interested manipulation of light to stretch out the shadows for the boy’s shadow to walk on. In particular, unless the storyline gets incredibly dark later on, this would be a perfect game for a parent and child to play together.

 

RPG Tycoon (PC/Mac)

capsule_lg

We eventually split up and headed to different games to cover as much ground as possible. In the Rezzed section I went straight for RPG Tycoon from Skatanic Studios. This was a classic tycoon style game, starting off with a new RPG kingdom that you build from the ground up, recruiting heroes and expanding your area to take on quests in nearby settlements, attract adventurers and fight villains. I started small and played for about half an hour, so I didn’t real make a huge amount of progress. I did have to drag myself away to make sure I could play other games, because RPG Tycoon has the potential to be incredibly addictive, and is exactly the sort of game I can see myself playing until 3am before realising I actually have work in the morning.

Screenshot

Anyone that has every enjoyed a tycoon style game (so anyone that ever played one in their youth) should check this game out. It just came out on Steam Early Access, with the developer aiming for early 2016 for the final build.

 

Star Command Galaxies (PC/Mac)

SCG_3

In the Indie Mega Booth I had a go at Star Command Galaxies from Warballoon, a star ship simulator in which you, as captain of a ship, pick a crew and explore a randomly generated universe, fighting alien ships and upgrading as you go. In the demo I played, every time I jumped into hyperspace it drew the attention of another enemy ship, and I had a long and drawn out side by side battle as I tried to balance my power usage against my machine guns and missiles, shuffling my crew around frantically for the best configuration.

SCG_2

In the end something similar to the above happened, only it was my captain that took a hit and effectively exploded, ending my game. The developer watching said that he’d been impressed at my efforts, but I suspect he was just being nice. This was a tricky game but very cool, and I’d really like to check it out from the start to get the chance to build up my ship before it gets blown apart by alien space ships. Star Command Galaxies is out now on Steam Early Access.

 

We’ll be having more content over the next few days about all the other indie titles we played over the EGX weekend!

KiiGX 2015 – Part 1: Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer & The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes

Adam and Kii once again head to EGX to check out some upcoming video games!

Wonderfully, EGX for some reason let myself and Adam back in this year! The show has moved to the NEC in Birmingham which I feel is a much better venue. There’s a lot more space, it’s easily accessible by train and the layout without an upper level means you won’t forget to go to an area.

So, after getting off the train and going on a merry adventure to find the hall we gave the show a good walk around to figure out where everything is. I obviously gravitated towards Nintendo and got my hands on a couple of Wii-U and 3DS games.

 

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
photo 2

So here it is. My perfect Animal Crossing game. I spent so long simply building rooms to get points in Animal Crossing: A New Leaf that it was almost obsessive. Now they’ve built a game that’s exactly that. You work for the Happy Homes Association and build homes for your clients which you also then decorate to their specific needs. Having looked at Adam’s screen whilst we were demoing this, apparently the perfect home has a dessert cart, a luchadore mask thrown on the floor and a photo of the client’s daughter. He clearly has a future in interior design.

As I’ve come to expect from the series, the game is adorable and charming with increasing levels of obsessive collecting. It even has Amiibo cards which is another thing you can collect even when not playing the game! Finally, Nintendo are adding even more things for me to fill my real house with to benefit my virtual one!

 

The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes
photo 1

Triforce Heroes is a three-player co-op game for 3DS, similar in design to Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass. Minus the fact that this game relies on you having TWO friends, I had a really good time playing it! At the beginning of the levels there are three items, one per ‘Link’, in our play through these were two gust jars and a bomb sack. As you probably noticed not all the Links will have the same item so you need to work together to use the right items at the correct point in the puzzle. This can create some ‘Portal 2’ style friendship enders as one of us immediately blew another off a platform and to our doom.

wpid-20150924_135901.jpgAn interesting mechanic that Triforce Heroes has is stacking where the Links can jump on each other’s shoulders to essentially be three times the height. This, again, becomes part of the puzzles where different levels of switch need to be hit and then you can also throw the other Links off the platform to their doom.

It’s a simple game but it’s really fun. The co-op is interesting though I’m unsure how well the mechanics translate to single player unless you switch between Links. Well worth a play, especially if you have two friends who are willing to put that relationship to the test with you.

~Kii x

EGX 2015 – Day One Round Up: Rise of the Tomb Raider & Star Fox Zero

Adam and Kii once again head to EGX to check out some upcoming video games!

This year EGX is being held at the NEC in Birmingham. While last year’s event at Earl’s Court was impressive and a lot of fun, the NEC’s extra space resulted in a huge improvement in the atmosphere and breathing room of the video games convention. We’ll see what the crowds are like when the people with proper jobs descend over the weekend, but the first day (Thursday) was a far more relaxed affair. Kii and I will be putting up a few articles about the various games we check out throughout the weekend, starting with two that I was excited to have a look at (and queue for about 40 minutes each), Rise of the Tomb Raider and Star Fox Zero.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (Microsoft Xbox One)

ROTT

We’ve not exactly made it a secret about how disappointed we were at TLL that the Tomb Raider sequel from Crystal Dynamics was announced to be Xbox exclusive. We were huge fans of the Tomb Raider reboot, and it felt like we were being shut out of the continued experience. However, it now seems that the exclusivity is limited to ‘Holiday 2015’, seeing release in early 2016 on PC and late next year on PS4. It may seem a while to wait for those of us who went with Sony when it came to next-gen, but it is nice to know that we’ll get to play eventually and clearly Microsoft are throwing a lot of support behind Rise of the Tomb Raider which ultimately can only be a good thing.

After around 30-40 minutes of waiting, we managed to get in to the walled off enclosure where they were demoing the game. It was the same as the footage shown off at Gamescom last month, starting with Lara on her way to a cave in Syria. Things go awry, explosions occur, but she manages to get in. Inside are a variety of water-level based puzzles to gain access to a tomb in the centre of the cave, racing against time as armed men set off charges to get to the tomb first.

 

With regards to gameplay, it probably won’t surprise anyone that Rise essentially just builds on the mechanics of its predecessor. Everything runs more smoothly (with fewer quick time events at this point, but I don’t know if that represents the whole game) but is effectively the same. What that means is if you liked the first game, this plays the same but better. This brief episode does seem to already lend credence to the promise of more tomb raiding in this installment, something under-represented in the reboot. Another element that builds on the original game, essentially an origin story that builds the resolve of the young Lara Croft, is how capable Lara has become throughout her adventures, which is particularly nice to see.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous. The first game pushed the last generation to it’s full potential, and the sequel looks to build on that with a truly stunning looking game. The water effects are realistic, and the cinematic scope of the surroundings are very impressive.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is shaping up to be a great follow up to Tomb Raider, with beautiful visuals and hopefully a greater focus on tombs, puzzles and exploration. It may be painful for us PS4 owners, but from what I played it will certainly be worth the wait. For those with an Xbox One or 360, Rise of the Tomb Raider will be out in November.

 

Star Fox Zero (Nintendo Wii U)

SFZ

Over in the Nintendo area, we checked out Star Fox Zero on Wii U. We had the chance to give the tutorial a quick spin before heading to the demo on Corneria and then finally giving a space battle a quick go in a dog fight. Full disclosure – I have spent no more time on a Wii U pad since last year when I struggled playing Splatoon. It took me a while to get to grips with it again, but I think by the end I had it down.

 

It’s been a long time since I actually played a Star Fox game, but Zero was a vibrant and high octane experience, feeling retro and fresh at the same time. I did experience a bit of a disconnect between the action on the main screen and the targeting screen on the Wii U gamepad, and it did have to be pointed out to me a few times that I was crashing in to and scraping along the ground while I was staring at the gamepad as I shot a gun emplacement, but once I got the hang of it I was taking down giant spider robots and ships with ease. The boss battle against the large mothership was fairly easy, but I really liked the variety of ways you could take it down, from blowing up the weapons to entering it like the Death Star and shooting the core.

wpid-20150924_152421.jpg

The space battle at the end was a nice change of pace, and having to try and manoeuvre around behind the enemy to get a shot in was a little trickier. Overall Star Fox Zero was a lot of fun, and it’s coming out on Wii U in Q1 2016.

 

Next up we’ll have some thoughts from Kii on a few more games we checked out on our first day at EGX 2015!