The Lost Lighthouse EGX 2015 Special – Adam & Kii Do Damage

Welcome to a special podcast episode from The Lost Lighthouse, starring Adam and Kii. Last week our intrepid press team went to the EGX video game convention at the NEC in Birmingham to check out some new games and a load of indie games.

There has been a few articles up on the site this week from them talking about some of the games they played, and in this podcast we generally chat about how the convention, how it compared to last year, some of the funny stuff they saw and of course all the various games they played.


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Apologies for the audio quality on Adam’s end, there was a small screw up with the recording!

If you have any thoughts. questions or opinions anything this week you can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.

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Enjoy!

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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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

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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)

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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!

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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)

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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!

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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!

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)

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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)

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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.

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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!

So Pokemon and Dark Souls Walked into a Bar…

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Kii got her hands on the Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate demo. Here’s what she thought!

Once upon a time, (On the 14th of January) I sat down and watched Nintendo Direct where I saw the Nintendo President Mr Iwata happily stand there and tell us all what Nintendo are up to for the next few months. This Nintendo Direct was about the 3DS and Wii-U releases for the upcoming year, and whilst I was enraptured by many of the titles on offer, one obviously grabbed my attention. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

As I’m sure many of you remember from my previous articles, I friggin love Monster Hunter and I’ve been excited for the western release of MH 4 Ultimate since I got my little mits on it at EGX. The biggest piece of news about my beloved franchise in the Nintendo Direct was that there would be a demo available at the end of the showing, however, this demo was by invite email only. The emails were being sent out when show was finished. And we got an email! Woohoo! So now, let me tell you about the demo.

01PictureFirstly, there are two new weapons the Insect Glaive and the Charge Blade. The Charge Blade I personally don’t find too much of a difference between that and that Charge Axe, however it’s nice to have more choice for flexible options if that’s the kind of weapon you like to play with. With the Insect Glaive you get a little insect buddy who you can send out to hit the Monster and bring back a buff for you so now he’s my best friend.

The demo on ‘Experienced’ or ‘I know how to play’ mode gives you three options to hunt. The Great Jaggi (Which is like the Rattata of the larger monsters), the Tetsucabra (Giant armoured frog thing) and the Gore Magala (Minor death dragon of doom). Myself, my partner and our housemate worked our way through them all (via Demo access to the Local Multiplayer) trying out the different weapons and admiring the armour that the game decided to put us in. As you can imagine, the monsters increase in difficultly and it was nice to have a really challenging hunt in the demo version, even if it did royally kick our asses, as well as the more chilled out kind of hunts that you would expect in the early game of the full version.

One of the new features that has made the biggest difference was the climbing and ledge jumping mechanic. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to make that big of an impact but being able to climb up cliff faces has really opened up the map areas and made them feel a lot bigger. Because of this extra vastness, the monster battles are much more mobile and it feels much less ‘stand in one place and hit the thing’. In particular, the frog-like Tetsucabra would jump further up the mountain to get away from us and we would scramble after it hoping that it didn’t get a chance for a breather.

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Ledge jumping also adds something fresh to the combat as you can now jump on the back of the monster and cling for dear life whilst stabbing it between the shoulder blades. I was pleasantly surprised by how this tested your teamwork since it was pretty ease to smack your friend in the face and throw them off whilst trying to blindly hit your foe.

Something that this demo provided that the Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate demo did not, was a Beginner mode. This makes the game far more accessible to those who have never played it before. MH3U was my first game of the franchise and my partner suggested that it would be a game we could enjoy together so I gave it a go and I was immediately lost. It resulted in him sitting at my shoulder and telling me what to do until I got the hang of it. Thankfully, for people that position in this game, you can boot the demo up in beginner with multiplayer and you’re set.

During Beginner mode the helpful Guild Clerk tells you some bit about the game, explains that she’s marked the monster that you’re hunting on the map and she also pauses the combat to explain what the monster is trying to do (whilst this sounds annoying, it only occurs about twice). Beginner also does not allow you access to the Gore Magala because why would you? He’d burn you to a blackened crisp and send you home in a match box and you’d never buy the game. My main gripe with beginner mode is that the Weapon tutorials are a bit too much info at once and could do with being staggered. Even for someone who knows the game, I found the info dump a little overwhelming. If I were to nit-pick, I’d also say that in Beginner, you don’t really get hurt and your stamina doesn’t deplete. Whilst I understand that it’s to up the enjoyment for new people, I feel it will be a bit jarring for people to start the lower levels of the actual game and find their stamina gone and their arse being handed to them.

All in all, I feel that the demo is great. I had fun playing it, I like the new weapons and the armour that they showed off was ornate and cool looking to the point I want to find what monster it came from. I’m not going to lie, I was going to buy the game anyway. But the demo has secured in my mind that it will be a worth-while purchase as although the formula for the game is unchanged, kill something then wear it, there are enough new things to keep it fresh and interesting.

One day we will meet again Gore Magala and on that day I will wear you as a fine hat.

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~ Kii

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The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 23 – The Case of ‘The Mountain’

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, brought to you by The Lost Lighthouse.

This week we had a special guest in the form of Kii Smith, our games contributor and resident Nintendian. We all chat about Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, casting news from the Agent Carter series and Tarantino having entertaining hissy fits, while Adam realises he may be deeply attracted to Jon Hamm, Kii hasn’t had a day off since London was invented, and for once Gary is the one who tries to start a feud with a celebrity, only this time it is a celebrated children’s author

Gary in 60 seconds this week was the Sci-Fi classic ‘Wing Commander’, starring Freddie Prince Jr.

The main talking point this week was the EGX video games expo that took place in London last weekend, that Adam and Kii were lucky enough to get press passes to attend on the Friday and had the chance to check out a load of upcoming games. They chat about their experience of the expo and their favourite games  they tried out.

If you have any thoughts. questions or opinions anything this week you can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.


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KiiGX: Part Two

Adam and Kii went to EGX in London on Friday. Here is Kii’s coverage.

A continuation from my Part One!

Mortal Kombat X
I missed quite a lot of the Mortal Kombat series. I remember playing one of them when I was a kid but in my memory it’s just a sea of pixels. However, I did play Mortal Kombat 9 pretty extensively and later Injustice: Gods Among Us from the same development team.

Mortal Kombat X has made some pretty drastic changes right off the bat. Mainly being that at the end of Mortal Kombat 9 (Spoiler) they’re all fucking dead. Barely any of the roster actually made it to the end of the game thus, it was a pretty bold move to continue canonically with the series instead of having another reboot or ‘alternate dimension’ type deal. Due to this, we have an array of entirely new characters that people have never seen before and ones that have popped up in previous games but never been playable. Whereas MK9 was the complete series done right, MKX is the fresh blood it needs. And there’s lots of it.

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I managed to play through two battles, firstly as D’Vorah (Bug Lady) against a Subzero player (I won) and secondly as Ferra and Torr (Piggy Back Chums) against Adam on Cassie Cage (I let him win, mostly). Both characters are from the completely new roster, D’Vorah being a very quick and venomous assassin style and Ferra and Torr being more brute force. Both were extremely fun to play as, especially with the new system implemented in MKX where you have three styles of moves to choose from for each character. For example, with D’Vorah I could choose to focus on her venom, her strikes or her swarm and this gave me different combos and moves for the match. With a presumably smaller roster than previous games, though the total count isn’t in yet, I thought it was an excellent way to give more variation to the characters and keep repeated match ups interesting.

One thing that NetherRealm have brought over from Injustice is the interaction with the background mechanics. Again, this gives great variation to fights as not only do your characters and move set groups vary, but your stage is now much more than a pretty picture behind you. With Injustice, it was pretty obvious what you could grab and chuck at your opponent but I had forgotten about that mechanic entirely until Adam threw a corpse in my face that had washed up on a wave in the Kove. Since he hadn’t done it on purpose it was hard to replicate on the fly, however it was clearly a natural and fluid part of the fighting animation as there was no pregnant pause whilst Cassie Cage lifted said corpse and lobbed it in my direction with me standing there like a numpty.

All in all, it’s a hilariously fun game and I feel that Mortal Kombat X is a fantastic evolution of the series. It’s not often that a franchise has been able to stay around for so long and still be standing up in its own right against all the new and indie fighters that have come in its wake.

 

Sunset Overdrive
I’ll be honest it’s nice to have a good humoured shooter that is devoid of beige. Sunset Overdrive, as the E3 trailers showed, does not take itself very seriously. We played a kind of horde mode where you protected vats of energy drink from monsters that were people mutated by said energy drink. I adore the designs of the game; I played as a small lady with a military helmet adorned with bunny ears, pretty much an animated version of myself. The movement around the level is extremely fast-paced due to being able to grind on rails, hook onto overhead lines and zip line and each character having a really good jump. I hate realistic jump heights in ridiculous games.

We had a wide variety of weapons, all of which were unique and silly which was awesome. I was particularly fond of ‘The Over Compensator’, a fire gushing blunderbuss and because of my fiery over compensating I came second in our group. Fire not your thing? Don’t worry, I also got my hands on a rocket launcher that shot giant ethereal jade dragons and a gun that flung 10” vinyls. If you imagine that the Saints Row team were given LSD and some crayons, that’s pretty much what the weapon blueprints are like.

This is the game that had me interested in the Xbox One and I still really want to play the entire game. Nathan may find that the rest of the Lighthouse team have crashed his house to have a go.

 

Splatoon
Oddly enough, playing Splatoon after Sunset Overdrive, I felt a good few similarities. By no means are the game actually the same in game play or design, what I mean is that they are both bright, cheerful and fast-paced with unique ways of travelling through the level. Splatoon, being a Nintendo title, is extremely accessible to all ages and abilities. You play as an adorable little squid person who has an ink gun. The name of the game is to have the most floor coverage of your coloured ink by the end of the round. Kills actually mean very little, so if you’re just jumping around and ‘splating’ people but not getting your ink coverage then you’re not actually being any use to your team. On the flip side, if you’re playing with your little brother who isn’t very good, he can hang back and ink everything from a safe distance without having to be in contact with enemy players whilst still being helpful to your score.

Onto my aforementioned unique movement. Being an adorable little squid person, you can jump into your ink and swim around in it. This allows you to go up walls, under grates and into trees whilst being completely invisible to the enemy. One tactic I saw was a player sitting in a tiny ink spot that the enemy thought nothing of, when the opposing team had run ahead, the player jumped out and starting inking everything in the enemy base with their colour. So whilst the game looks childish, there can be some pretty decent strategies if you want all out squid warfare and thus isn’t patronising to more experienced players.

And then…

I was going to add a segment about Smash Bros since we managed to watch the final of a tournament whilst we queued for Splatoon. But who am I kidding, it looks great. It’s all I can really say on the matter, the cast is strong, the game play looks great and it’s really fun. I didn’t get to play it but I have been playing my demo copy on the 3DS almost non-stop. I was also insanely jealous of people on my street pass who had been playing the ‘Special Demo Copy’ which has all of the characters unlocked and that one Japanese guy who actually had the full game. I’m buying it, I’m playing it and no I will not shut up about it.

So, there we are. EGX as a whole. It was a fantastic experience and I’m so happy that The Lost Lighthouse got to attend. Adam and I were absolutely exhausted by the end of the day and I really wish that we could have covered more. Sadly we are merely human so until we evolve into mythical cyborgs we were destined to be, we’ll cover as much as physically possible (and maybe get more people to go to more days). I really enjoyed the show and I’m looking forward to being able to attend more.

On that note, Fenton and I are covering PlayExpo on the 11th October in Manchester! If you’re coming then feel free to say hi. I’ll be the tiny person with the Hylian Shield with the big guy who’ll be glued to Mortal Kombat X.

Kii

EGX Round Up – Part Three: Bayonetta 2, Sunset Overdrive and Splatoon

Adam and Kii went to EGX in London on Friday. Here is Adam’s coverage.

And now for the final part of my EGX round up from last Friday, which Kii and I attended as press for the first time to check out some of the various games coming out soon. So far I’ve mostly just talked about survival horror games (see part one!) or other violent supernatural games (part two!), so I’ll finish off with some of the more light-hearted ones we had some time with.

 

Bayonetta 2

I think I’ve said before on The Weekly Rapture podcast, but I absolutely love the first Bayonetta game. Platinum Games delivered a wonderfully over the top experience, with gameplay that feels totally chaotic without a loss of control over what you are doing. The story of Bayonetta the witch and her fight against the angelic forces is ridiculous, as she wields a range of different weapons including guns attached to her heels, torture executions and hellish attacks that render her naked as she uses her hair (which makes up her latex-looking costume) to summon huge attacks that devastate her enemies. The character is imbued with a heavy dose of tongue-in-cheek sexuality and fan service, with the game knowing it is being silly and having a lot of fun with it.

Unfortunately for WiiU-less people like myself, the sequel is only coming out on Nintendo’s system and not a Sony or Microsoft platform. My knee jerk reaction to this would be to get angry at exclusivity for a game I really wanted, but reports were that there simply wasn’t the support for Bayonetta 2 and that the project was effectively dead in the water until Nintendo swooped in and saved it by acting as publisher. Understandably they would want exclusivity for this (and this hasn’t made me anywhere near as annoyed as the Rise of the Tomb Raider kerfuffle on Xbox One), and it is down to Nintendo that the sequel is actually coming out at all.

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With that in mind, I still really wanted to give the demo a go. Gone are the days where I can afford multiple consoles in a generation, so I’ll have to resort to good, reliable friends to get the chance to play the game when it comes out (i.e. I’m going to go to Kii’s and play the WHOLE game in one night). In the Nintendo WiiU section of EGX, after a short queue, the attendant asked me if I had played before, and was I any good. I resisted saying ‘actually, I’ve got a platinum trophy for the first one on PS3’ because that would make me sound like a dick, and instead decided to play it down because this would be the first time I would have had my hands on a WiiU controller, playing a game I hadn’t touched in three years. We were given the option of playing a tutorial and a single verse (sequence), or going straight into a boss fight. I thought the former would probably be a good idea, lest I make a fool out of myself.

The gameplay was exactly as I remembered it, and I eased into the controls relatively quickly (I have been playing games for nearly two decades now, so I learn quickly). The DMC style gameplay, as with the first game, makes it very easy to feel like you are kicking a lot of ass, and the witch time mechanic made a welcome return as well as some more torture kills. The brief verse we got to play was fun and familiarly ridiculous, fighting members of the angelic horde on the back of a fighter jet that the upcoming boss was trying to knock out of the sky. There was a quick glimpse of Bayonetta’s BFF Jeanne, standing on another jet upside down (because witches), then your fighter takes a big hit and heads towards the boss. Then the demo was over. Despite an unfamiliarity with the controls, I still managed a silver medal for the verse too. Kii got bronze. ‘Nuff said.

The demo was a little on the short side, but this is looking like more of the same but better,which is really what you want in a good sequel. In a later conversation with one of the Nintendo attendants, while Kii was hunting all sorts of monster ultimately, I was told that Nintendo are bundling in an HD version of the first Bayonetta with the special edition of the game, and in a way that is pretty uniquely Nintendo they are including extra skins for Bayonetta to wear in the game (not sure if this was just the sequel or the first game too) using Nintendo characters, like Samus or Link, that include unique moves and actions based on those skins. This struck me as pretty cool, and interesting as usually extra skins are just that and therefore a little boring. It’s nice that Nintendo are going the extra mile with it, and while I am genuinely sad that I won’t be able to get my hands on Bayonetta 2 easily, I am glad that Nintendo are ensuring that the series can continue. It’s already out in Japan, but is due out over here on October 24th.

 

Sunset Overdrive

The only game we actually got the chance to try out over in the Microsoft section was Sunset Overdrive, an Xbox One exclusive from Insomniac Games and published by Microsoft. We queued for a while, and we were flagging quite a bit by this point in the day. Lots of wandering around with the crowds, bright lights and various demos at the end of a long week led to us needing a serious pick-me-up at this point. Sunset Overdrive looked to be that sort of game, with the trailer from back at E3 making it look like a lot of insane and colourful fun.

Sunset overdrive

While I think the game actually supports eight player co-op, we put in a team of 6 and took part in ‘Chaos Squad’, in which we had to defend vats of an energy drink from hordes of OD’d. Looking it up now, the OD’d are humans who drank too much of the newly released energy drink Overcharge Delirium XT and were transformed into monsters, and the player controls customisable employees of the company that made it to take out these monsters. You’re given a pretty decent range of weapons, from highly explosive rocket launchers, shotguns and the harpoon gun the ‘Captain Ahab’, all of which are great fun, and you move around grinding rails and lines exploding the creatures trying to get more energy drinks. Being somewhat addicted to caffeine in all it’s forms (I can quit any time I want!), this was a somewhat harrowing look at my future as a mindless zombie needing a fix. After a lot of colourful kills of the various OD’d, nearly dying myself a couple of times, we finished the mission successfully. I came last, but the other group playing at the same time failed. So I was better than them at least.

This game looks like it will be a huge amount of fun, with either online and local multiplayer. I have no idea what the single player will be like, but with a set up as ridiculous as this I’m sure it will be entertaining. The game is heavy on style, reminding my visually of Jet Set Radio and other similarly vibrant games. The team behind Rachet and Clank seem to be putting out another interesting IP here, and I hope I get the chance to play it when it comes out on October 31st (I’m going to trick Nath into buying it).

 

Splatoon

The last game we played was Splatoon back in the Nintendo section on the WiiU. There was a really fun vibe from all the folks working there, cheering on the two teams facing off against each other. On top of this, there was a Smash Bros. final going on on the big screen behind us that we kept watching too, with the emcees throwing out loads of Nintendo goodies in between events. We soon got to the front of the queue for the game we were supposed to be watching, and one of the Nintendo attendants showing off the game very patiently showed me the controls. I clearly struggled a little bit with the motion action of the WiiU controller to look around, especially as it was attached to the stand by a cable which dramatically reduced the range of movement (though I understand why they would need it secured).

In Splatoon you fire ink from what looks like a super-soaker, and the aim is to cover as much of the level with your team’s ink as possible. When you run out of ink, you can dive into sections that are your colour already, swimming around in it as a squid and replenishing your ink. You also move more quickly this way, but can only move in your ink and can’t attack. You can spray members of the enemy team with ink too and blow them up, gaining more points for your team. Covering as much as possible can also unlock a limited time bazooka, which lays down a lot of paint and devastates your enemies.

The game was extremely fast paced and animated, and was a really enjoyable multiplayer. We used absolutely zero tactics as a team, and as a result lost the round by only 0.1% ink coverage. I did get the highest score on our team, and the second highest in the game, so clearly I’m better at WiiU than I am at Xbox One. This was great fun, and I think it would be a good party game, but I am interested to see what other modes Splatoon has. I’m sure we will see more before the release early-to mid 2015.

 

 

After we we finished with Splatoon we headed upstairs to check out the indie games section. We looked around and tried a couple of games, but by this point we had been wandering around EGX for nearly seven hours and we were totally shattered. Kii and I both decided that it was time to call it a day, a real shame as we hadn’t finished our list of games that we wanted to check out, and had barely touched the indie section properly that really deserved a couple of dedicated hours to check out. However, we had managed our time through the day as best we could, so we had essentially overestimated how long everything would take. To get through everything we had wanted to get to, we really needed at least two days at the expo.

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But overall, for a first time attending a games convention like this as press, with the intent on covering our experience in various articles, I think it was pretty successful. The opportunity to play several games that aren’t out yet was great, and I really enjoyed all of them. EGX was busy without being heaving (though Saturday may have been a lot worse), and with no queue being ridiculously long (though the COD Advanced Warfare did look pretty damn long). I definitely want to go to more events like this, but I think to give the convention its proper due and cover everything we would like to we would need to be there for more than one day or take more than two of us to cover it (or both). Looking forward to the next one!

Adam

EGX Round Up – Part Two: The Order 1886 and Mortal Kombat X

Adam and Kii went to EGX in London on Friday. Here is Adam’s coverage.

On to part two of my EGX round up from last Friday, where Kii and I received our first press passes to check out and cover the gaming expo. After a healthy dose of survival horror (see part one!) we went back down to the main floor to check out a few more games (and to give Kii a break from all the horror!).

 

The Order 1886

There were probably four games I was most looking forward to trying out at EGX. I have already talked about the first two, Alien Isolation and The Evil Within. The Order 1886, the Playstation 4 exclusive from Ready at Dawn and SCEA (due out February 2015), is another and the last I actually made it to. We wandered around for a while trying to figure out where it actually was, before realising it was in the same Playstation demo booth as Bloodborne (the other game I was very keen to try) and Until Dawn. So to try any of these three games you had to join the same queue, taking around 30 or 40 minutes, with an attendant coming through and splitting us up depending on the game we wanted to play. The Order was the most popular, so the queue was the longest, but to play another game in the same booth would mean re-queuing from the back of the line again. As such, I didn’t get the chance to play Bloodborne so we could get to some other game, but The Order was the game I really wanted to check out.

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The Order 1886 appears to involve a squad or division of enforcers that hunt and battle supernatural threats in an alternate, steampunk inspired Neo-Victorian London, utilising a variety of advanced weaponry (another character was using a weapons a lot like a Proton pack from Ghostbusters) to fight various creatures and violent criminals. In the demo, you play as Galahad (I’m not sure if you get the chance to play as multiple characters or just this mutton-chopped badass), and The Order join a group of constables who appear to be engaged in suppressing armed rebels or terrorists. Galahad is equipped with a Thermite rifle, which involves firing a combination of a flare at the enemy and spraying them with rapid-fire thermite rounds, which alone do little damage but upon contact with fire cause a huge ignition, setting enemies aflame. Lots of fun.

The demo doesn’t give too much away in terms of story, but hints at supernatural elements, for example a team member is grazed by a bullet and instantly heals the wound by drinking a tincture from a vial around his neck, and it shows off the Neo-Victorian environment. As this is just a snapshot of the game however, nothing is spoiled regarding where The Order are heading or why they are fighting these people. A succinct demo, that showed off the gameplay and the setting for the game, and left me wanting more by the end.

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The unique setting of The Order 1886 has me hooked, and I enjoyed the gameplay a lot. There was a fair amount of cover-based shooting, which isn’t a new mechanic but if you are going to use it it is important that it works and fits the game style. This felt like the system perfected by Gears of War, feeling heavy as you duck behind cover and move with all your gear without being sluggish. The only part that worried me was that around halfway through the demo the system froze, and one of the attendants came over and kindly rebooted it for me so I could start again from the beginning. A few minutes later, the same thing happened to the lady playing to my left. Now clearly this isn’t occurring on a level that is worrying the developers if they still felt they could show the demo at the expo (and it is a relatively early demo too), and it didn’t happen to me a second time through. But crashing for two people next to each other isn’t exactly a rare occurrence, unless it really was a total coincidence. However, I’m not worried as I am sure it is something Ready at Dawn are aware of, and with over four months before release I am confident that issues like this will be ironed out. Aside from that minor point, I am still very excited for The Order 1886 and will be keeping an eye on it as it gets closer to release.

 

Mortal Kombat X

This was actually one of the first games we tried out, while we were just wandering around the convention floor when we first arrived. Mortal Kombat X was developed by NetherRealm Studios, and we found it in one of the Playstation booths so played it on PS4, though it is also coming out on Xbox One. I won’t pretend that I play many fighting games anymore, but when I was younger I was pretty in to Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur and even way further back Killer Instinct on the SNES (I also love Smash Bros.). I never seem to buy new fighters because I only really get a lot of enjoyment playing with people live in the same room, but I always really enjoy them when I get the chance to play any beat em up round a friend’s house. The first trailer for Mortal Kombat X was very pretty and moody, so I was looking forward to the chance to try it out.

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Kii and I faced off against each other, she choose Ferra and Torr and I chose Cassie Cage, and we fought on a stage called ‘Kove’ (we get it Mortal Kombat. Everything has to be spelt with a K). The graphics were very nice, which only highlighted the gore to come, and the fighting stage was fun with a few things to throw and other interactions to try out. Kii was a lot better than me, as she plays fighters more often and there was some overlap with the DC Injustice: Gods Among Us game that NetherRealm also developed. However, I still won. Because I am a badass. Or she let me try out my X-ray move which put me at a significant advantage in the last round. Whatever.

This was a whole heap of violent fun, the X-ray mode particularly being hilariously gruesome. As we played this downstairs, we actually were trying the censored version of the demo, with the full version only being upstairs in the 18+ section. Fatalities were blocked on this version, resulting in a victory that lacked any sort of fanfare. However, aside from that I don’t see how this was a censored toned down version. The X-ray mode attacks were all insanely violent and gory. I think Cassie Cage’s involved popping the opponents testicles, which you got to see, and others showed hands being shoved into chests, ripping at internal organs.

Am I going to buy Mortal Kombat X? Probably not. Will I play the hell out of it when I visit Kii and allow her to beat the shit out of me on it? Definitely. If fighters are your thing, this is shaping up to be another great Mortal Kombat game.

 

Come back tomorrow for the final part of my EGX round up!

Adam