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There’s really only one place to start with Far Cry. The villain. Last time we got the classic ‘Definition of Insanity’ line. This time we get a strangely polite, well dressed and slightly camp villain by the name of Pagan Min – amazingly voiced by Troy Baker. Take a look at him and his lovely shoes in this trailer.

There’s a brief introduction to stealth, how wildlife can be used and then a shoot out before you see the world map in all its open world glory. As with previous instalments your first job will be to climb towers and hijack the radio transmitter at the top to remove a section of the fog and add objectives and points of interest to the area. You’ll then have strongholds to capture for a place to rest your head, purchase upgrades from and fast travel to.

For me the strongholds epitomize the gameplay of Far Cry. Stealth is encouraged, and if you find an area challenging is often your best choice. But if you are detected it isn’t a fail. You just carry on with ‘plan B’ and get the job done using whatever you want. Or maybe you just start with plan B. It doesn’t matter and Far Cry won’t punish you for your choices.

There are massive underground caverns and places of interest to explore. Collectable chests, posters and masks. Races, hunting missions, assassinations, revenge missions and hostage encounters populate the map with genuine variety. There’s no way I’m even going to try and list everything to do but there’s easily enough to do outside of the campaign for even the most hardcore completionist. More importantly there is variation. And I don’t mean just a set of races for each vehicle, I mean proper variation. Rather than just having 100 of each objective Far Cry 4 offers you enough to do that you rarely do the same thing twice in a row – unless you want to of course.


The size and scale of Kyrat is just ridiculous and traversing that map is more fun than ever. There are loads of vehicles to find from trucks to boats to microlights. I would say that changing the ridiculous controls is a good idea though. You can now shoot while driving and the control system uses the left thumbstick to accelerate, break/reverse and steer. Try a three point turn with this system and things become farcical almost instantly. Change to classic ‘L2’/’R2’ and take the accuracy hit when shooting. You can also use ‘autodrive’ which will keep your car moving along the current road so you can concentrate on combat.

Random encounters also keep your time in Kyrat from becoming boring. It’s rare that you will make your way to an objective without something unexpected happening. There are rebels to free, skirmishes to fight and strongholds to defend. Successful completion provides you with Karma XP that eventual levels your Karma level and provides rewards. The first few provide 25% discounts on certain items at shops so they’re not to be missed. It really helps make Kyrat feel like a fully fledged open world and not just a huge map with loads of objectives. They’re fun and they don’t take long so stopping off and completing them on your travels doesn’t become a chore.


In keeping with the scale of the world map is Kyrat’s armoury. After a bit of hunting you can carry one sidearm and three of any other gun. There’s still the inevitable battle over what exactly you should take with you on your journey but it’s because of too much choice rather than a total lack of choice. Pistols, grenades, assault rifles, snipers, shotguns and, of course, the recurve bow all make an appearance. Working to unlock isn’t necessarily a case of just playing the main missions either as some require you to complete other tasks before you can buy them. Many of them also have upgradable parts that can make all the difference but what really matter are the signature guns. Sitting in a section of their own signature guns are uniquely modified in some way or sometimes even unique guns. For example the standard AK47 you can buy cannot be modified. But you can buy a signature AK that comes with a red dot sight, suppressor, extended mags and a damage boost. They cleverly give you something to look forward to but still allow you to use the standard version of the guns early game.

The gun play is inevitably a joy. Missed bullets hitting the ground behind targets adds a layer of realism to fire fights. Heavy weapons feel appropriately chunky while getting a headshot with a suppressed pistol makes you feel like 007 just for a second. Fighting Kyrat’s wildlife however isn’t so fun. If you’ve just been shot and are taking damage the last thing you need is to be ambushed by wolves or an eagle. Time after time I found myself backing away from a group of animals reloading, killing one and having to reload again all the time being hit in the face by other animals with very little I could do. My advice is simple, take a shotgun for wildlife. Eagles will just do damage to you instantly – and disable you as you stand there taking damage with an eagle stuck to your face. I hate the eagles so much. They’re a frustrating and pointless addition that just left me annoyed.


Far Cry 4 is an amazing open world adventure that gives you a massive amount of content, amazing mechanics and plenty of polish. It looks and sounds amazing on every level, all the time. It looks smooth and ‘airbrushed’ and the textures on character’s faces are disturbingly high quality at times. Voice acting and weapons sounds are some of the best I’ve ever heard and make Far Cry 4 feel like a top quality product.

Even the co-op isn’t bad and can make for some hilarious Far Cry style moments. But it isn’t enough for me to consider Far Cry a co-op game and playing without friends isn’t as fun. The campaign is a little bit underused but does have the addition of choice. I enjoyed the moral ambiguity of decisions but in an open world game it’s annoying that you can’t complete everything in a single playthrough. Honestly there’s just that much freedom and that many things to do it just doesn’t matter.

Kyrat is colossal and provides you with hour after hour of varied gameplay. Far Cry 4 is a great entry to the franchise that bolsters the successes of Far Cry 3 and also adds a good selection of new features. Far Cry keeps moving forwards without losing sight of what makes it great. Far Cry 4 is easily one of the best games I’ve played in 2014.


I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for LEGO games. I’m never quite sure if it stems from my childhood experiences or a need to just play a game that’s shamelessly good fun. Although the LEGO I had was nowhere near as cool as the modern stuff. Either way I don’t think I’ve played a LEGO game that I didn’t enjoy at least on some level.

It’s been particularly great for fans of comic books and superheroes of late too. We’ve seen just about every marvel character take their blocky primary coloured form as LEGO characters in Marvel Superheroes and now the franchise moves back to Batman, for the 3rd time. The DC universe has a huge wealth of characters and stories to draw from and LEGO always seems to find the balance between original comic characters and modern approaches so that nobody is alienated. I was a little disappointed at the occasional portrayal of Robin as the sort of snivelling cretin that those ignorant of the Batman franchise tend to imagine him but he does provide the familiar LEGO brand of comic relief.


Soon I was jumping, fighting and solving puzzles in the usual way. Switching costumes on the fly works quickly efficiently and doesn’t leave you sitting around waiting like Marvel Superheroes did. Puzzles are the usual affair and on your first playthrough levels are littered with items, objects and areas that you can’t access. It’s business as usual then for LEGO. Play the game through collecting studs to purchase characters and find those secret bricks to unlock powerful game changing modifiers and secrets. Then once you’ve got the abilities you need, play levels again to find all the secrets. If you’ve played LEGO before you know what you’re getting into here. I particularly enjoyed Adam West as ‘LEGO guy in peril’ that needs rescuing on certain levels.

Once the game opens up after the first couple of hours it becomes obvious just how much there is to do. Those who’ve played a LEGO game before will know what to expect, those who haven’t may be in for a shock – although I can’t imagine anyone hasn’t played even one LEGO game by now. Beyond Gotham does not disappoint on the amount of content.

Jumping, attacking and building are unsurprisingly still the cornerstones of LEGO and nothing has changed for Batman’s third outing. The controls are the same tried and tested formula that’s been around since the early days. Even the puzzles, platforming and enemy encounters are not likely to surprise anyone who’s played a LEGO game before. The old when in doubt smash everything tactic is just as relevant as before and will often see you through an area, even if it’s initially unclear how.


Graphically Beyond Gotham is everything we’ve come to expect from the franchise. The smooth shiny plastic characters look brilliantly LEGO-ey as usual. Again it’s exactly what fans will expect. The areas and environmental features that aren’t LEGO are by far the worst looking elements as usual but the characters that take centre stage pull the game through.

Voice acting is solid and attempts to mimic the 90’s era of films and TV. In my opinion it’s difficult to say what Batman should sound like, especially as I’m a fan of the comics. But rest assured that this isn’t the strange, extremely camp, 60’s Batman – although that does get a few jokes and nods. Troy Baker leads the great line-up of voice actors as Batman and all the conversations and interactions throughout the game are funny and natural sounding.


The problem with Beyond Gotham is purely that it is a LEGO game following a formula that hasn’t changed all that significantly since LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game all the way back in 2005. True the worlds are much, much larger. Characters now speak and have allowed for the cutesy tongue-in-cheek humour that we all love. And you can guarantee that you will not want for more collectables in a LEGO title. But at it’s heart the game is using ideals from a game released almost a decade ago.

And the solution for LEGO was franchise tie-ins. Which worked well. But there will come a time when the tie-in isn’t enough. That time is quickly approaching. For the first time I found myself bored by the same puzzles, although in Beyond Gotham they are particularly easy. The combat was never much more than a bit of fun to break up the pacing between platforming but it’s starting to get old now. The novelty of LEGO DC characters is great for a comic book geek like myself but I doubt that others will find much to do in LEGO that they haven’t done before. Even for DC fans the character roster, impressive though it is at 150, is getting to the point where it’s not enough to carry the game.

With overly simple puzzles and badly aging mechanics LEGO is starting to lose it a little. For the first time I was bored at times. I enjoyed finding the collectables and unlocking new characters still gave me that moment of nostalgia. But once that’s worn off the cracks are all that remains. We’ve finally got to the point where we need change – and honestly we’re probably long past that point. More complicated combat or difficult puzzles seem like an option but there’s the risk of alienating younger gamers. I’m not sure what the answer is but franchise tie-ins are no longer enough. The LEGO game itself, beyond the latest franchise skin, needs some changes if the LEGO games are going to live on much longer.

It’s no secret that Assassin’s Creed has lost focus and gone off the rails a bit. Sure Black Flag was a good pirate themed adventure but I never felt like I was playing the next AC. So it’s time again to see if Assassin’s Creed is back on track. This time during the French revolution, a period that easily consists of enough turmoil and bloodshed for Assassin’s Creed.


Despite the interesting time period and the rich interlacing of politics and rebellion that undoubtedly shaped modern France, Unity focuses more on the internal plot of AC and the struggle between the Assassins and the Templars. It also insists that French people used to talk with either a cockney accent or an over the top British villain’s accent which seems unlikely. The usual plot ‘twists’ await; ‘Oh this person is actually a Templar’ and ‘the Templars are behind it all’. The plot falls flat long before the end. Almost as soon as you start in fact. Early on it’s difficult to associate with anyone simply because you don’t know who they are – and worse still it’s difficult to care. Characters other than Arno (our protagonist) are easily forgotten along with the plot.

Assassin’s Creed still has an identity crisis and insists on being ‘X Era Action Game’. To return to the internal plot and overarching story of AC we need a decent modern story intertwined with the historical one. Unity just ignores both. Unity also skips on any meaningful ‘outside Animus’ experiences and making out that I’m someone playing Abstergo games in my living room doesn’t cut it and breaking the fourth wall is unimaginative in the order of a character saying ‘this is just like a video game!’. It certainly isn’t even close to a replacement for the experiences we had in AC 1 and 2 with Desmond – minus the super pope.

Does anyone remember the first game? The reveal of Lucy’s hand. And when I used eagle vision at the end I swear I nearly passed out with excitement. I had so many ideas of where the franchise would go – none of which have happened. Until I get a meaningful protagonist outside the animus and those truly unique, genius moments Assassin’s Creed is ‘just another action game’. At least Unity doesn’t get totally distracted by the period drama but it forgoes a plot in either realm instead.


Getting into the action you see Unity’s most obvious changes. Countering and dodging are more difficult than ever and it is likely you will struggle to take on enemies that are a higher level than you. It does make a nice change not to have unlimited power from the start and actually gives you somewhere to progress to but too many times I died when a counter prompt was off screen. Like almost everything in AC It works well when it works but fails spectacularly when it doesn’t. It’s satisfying knowing you’re not fighting dummies that exist only for you to kill but when you die from an attack you couldn’t possibly avoid it’s just irritating. I can’t imagine why the counter icon isn’t above Arno’s head. It’s a particular problem when an enemy has a long reach and you have literally no way of seeing the incoming attack.

Moving past guards successfully is more difficult than before too. Stealth certainly has more strategy than just continually using whatever weapons is perfect at taking out guards silently and makes a pleasant change from the ‘whistling bush’ approach. During my first proper assassination I was also pleasantly surprised when presented with choices. As an example there are several entrances to consider and at least three logical ways to take your target down in the first assassination alone. And that doesn’t include the less obvious methods. The freedom granted by even just a couple of choices makes you feel more like an actual Assassin and less like a hired goon following unrealistically strict orders. I had by far the most fun on Unity when on Assassination missions and I’m so glad Ubisoft spent the time improving them. This is Assassin’s Creed after all and ironically the assassinations have been lacking for a long time.

Venturing into Unity’s co-op missions is dangerous and will potentially make you the source of much hatred. If you die the entire team fails and, if you’re lucky, will be returned to a harsh checkpoint. If you’re not you’ll be starting again. Knowledge is power and both the heists and the missions will switch from almost impossible to easy depending entirely on how well you know the mission. That stupid AI will scold you with ‘I told you to be quiet!’ both ironically loud and annoyingly patronisingly after she runs at some guards in the distance and alerts them despite the fact you could have easily taken them down quietly.

It rarely matters because quite often you’ll be insta killed by unknown sources and the entire mission will reset. For everyone. And then when you finally manage to learn the level, making it decidedly easy, you might lose connection to the Ubisoft servers and be returned to the world map after a lengthy loading screen. Drop in co-op would have been far better for AC and the co-op frustratingly adds little but extra stress to the game. An approach similar to Watchdog’s would have worked infinitely better.


Visually it’s difficult not to appreciate the shear scale of revolutionary Paris. Fast travelling to a perch really allows you to see just how immense the city is. There are a few shops and buildings that stand out and look great but for the most part I was underwhelmed. The PS4 version I played suffers from horrific frame rates, even after the 900MB day one patch. That aside most NPCs are drab with low quality textures and really just look like blocks of colour draped over a human frame. Again the scale is impressive and crowds are huge but they often make traversal irritating and further hinder the already poor frame rates. Unity certainly doesn’t look bad but it does look old. For such a high profile game made specifically for 8th gen hardware I was quite disappointed. I have to give a shout for Unity’s motion capture and facial expressions however which are amazingly accurate and subtle. Sadly they are relatively infrequent and so for the most part Unity looks decidedly average.

For traversing Paris free-running has been given a slight, but significant, tune up allowing you to hold ‘x’ to free-run up or ‘circle’ to free-run down. As veterans will know this makes a huge difference and for the first time I was able to descend with relative finesse. Undoubtedly a move forward but then it’s one the franchise should have made years ago so it’s difficult to be happy about something that should have already been there a long time ago.


As with most Assassin’s Creed titles Unity does some things right but not without missing out some crucial elements. The plot has taken a back seat to such a degree that it now basically isn’t there. The combat has added some much needed challenge but has also added unnecessary frustrations by having counter icons potentially off-screen. But assassination missions are amazingly fun and for the first time offer a decent amount of choice. And as ever there is a metric ton of missions and things to do to keep you busy plus meaningful customization in the way of weapons and armour. There really are loads of weapons and pieces of armour to play with. One of my biggest problems with Black Flag was the lack of attainable items and it’s excellent to see Ubisoft bring them back, and in a big way.

Still the series desperately needs a plot injecting into it and a protagonist of some sort wouldn’t hurt either. At least some major issues have been fixed, and fixed well. As ever I look to the next AC to be the one that finally lifts the series out of its mediocrity as I play another average instalment to this once great franchise.

It’s time again for a new addition to the NBA 2K series. As with any incremental franchise, and particularly annual ones, it’s often difficult to see were things are going or if anything is actually being improved at all. NBA 2K14 was a solid game that had some decent mechanics and definitely earned entry into the ‘Best Sweat in Videogame’ competition.


In keeping with the franchise NBA 2K15 continues to offer a huge amount of variety and game modes to keep you happy. There are all the usual modes you would expect in any sports game and thankfully MyGM mode returns from 2K14. MyGM mode allows you to control a team, alter the roster and everything else that goes with managing a team. Truth be told I don’t know enough about NBA or the game to make enough use of the MyGM mode but it is clear there’s plenty to do and see. It’s not so difficult that non-NBA people like myself can’t understand it at all but this mode is really for the fans.

From the very beginning NBA 2K15 puts a much bigger focus on the custom character mode. There’s a vague attempt at wrapping a story around it but ultimately it’s the standard affair for a career mode. Every so often someone from the sport will turn up and throw in a few words but as you might imagine NBA isn’t exactly going to break ground with its story. But there’s still a few decent additions that flesh out the main career mode as much possible, given the sports genre.

It’s unlikely too many people are likely to be worried about the story in an NBA game but at least there’s an attempt to stop career mode from becoming a string of single games. Unfortunately you get the sense that the whole thing is a poorly acted daytime TV show with a few celebrity athletes thrown in for good measure. Better voice acting and a quality, albeit likely generic, story about a new athlete rising the ranks would really improve NBA and many other sport games so 2K15’s attempt has to be recognized and appreciated.

Much more important are the stats and upgrades that can be earned for your player. There’s a depth to your character that allows you to carefully craft a player that can properly reflect the skills and attributes you actually want. It will take time and effort to get your player up to scratch though because upgrades are quite difficult to attain. For those of you who relish the satisfaction that comes from the results of an RPG style grind this is good. For some it might not be although ultimately it comes down to personal taste. Far too many upgrade systems hand over abilities like they’re nothing but 2K15 makes you work for it.

Getting into the gameplay it quickly becomes obvious where almost all the care and attention is. Moving and interacting on the court feels a lot like 2K14 although with a few new additions. For example The UI element that indicates how long you’ve held the shoot button is a very welcome touch. It’s nice to see a game that isn’t ashamed of leaving something alone if it doesn’t need changing and 2K15 doesn’t play around too much with the solid mechanics inherited from 2K14. There are still the usual rough loading times and occasional mishaps but mechanically NBA 2K15 gets most things right. Unfortunately the menu becomes a constant frustration. But I suppose it wouldn’t be a sports game if the menu isn’t at least a slight pain to navigate. I don’t know why it’s become a ‘feature’ of the genre but sadly it’s one NBA 2K15 doesn’t ignore.


Despite some of the elements looking a little rough around the edges there are some moments when you play 2K15 and just have to stop and look for a minute. It looks so good at times it’s unbelievable. But there are still some things that don’t live up to NBA’s high visual standards. 2K15’s graphics are a reasonable upgrade from 2K14 – which is a good thing because 2K14 still looks pretty good. The players, in particular, look fluid and realistic when moving around the court.

But NBA 2K15 suffers from the same problem many annual updates suffer from, it’s not that different to last years entry. The mechanics are largely the same, although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the attempt at inserting a meaningful story into the career mode is admirable – even though unfortunately isn’t a quality story and feels a little tacky. Also the menu badly needs an overhaul. One day there will be a decent menu in a sports game. You just have to believe.

Once you get into a game and start actually playing basketball 2K15 springs into life. But there are plenty of other areas that could have used some love and attention too. For pick up and play NBA 2K15 is an absolute winner. And I can’t help but like the story in theory despite the reality that it’s too cheap to add anything to the game. Even more than other franchises NBA is in competition with itself purely because it has no competition. With no other basketball titles to compete with, NBA is in danger of becoming complacent, even when compared with its own titles. The next entry will need to change something significant if NBA 2K plans on going somewhere in the future.

I’m a big fan of the Falling Skies TV show. Sure it follows the usual tropes and stereotypes that plague post-apocalyptic TV shows. ‘I don’t want to kill my zombie child’ or ‘we need to go to dangerous place X to get X item for X’. But I still love the show. The sci-fi plot set against a dark and gritty background made a pleasant change from my usual TV sci-fi outings. So when I got chance to play the game I was very keen. I had visions of a successful tie-in in keeping with The Walking Dead games. And then I found it was ‘similar’ to Xcom: Enemy Unknown. I’m an even bigger fan of Xcom so the chance to play it with skins and characters from Falling Skies appealed to me greatly. With the scene set and my hopes surprisingly high I loaded up the game.


Which I wish I hadn’t done. Falling Skies: The Game is ugly. Seriously ugly. It is just the worst looking game I can think of. To say it looks like a PS2 game is not an exaggeration. And I know looks aren’t everything, especially in a tactical shooter, but it really does just look so foul you can’t ignore it. I was actually glad when I saw a loading screen which has a still picture from the TV show on it just to see something that looked vaguely realistic.

There is no doubt at all that Falling Skies looked to Xcom for more than inspiration. Apart from a few visual changes it is exactly the same as Enemy Unknown. The cover system is the same, some objects offer half cover some offer full and movement is handled using a grid on the floor indicating an area you can move and shoot and area you can ‘sprint’ to and forgo firing your weapon. It is in every way a clone of Enemy Unknown. The abilities you have available to you are similar if not exactly the same. Even the upgrade trees for your characters follow the same pattern as those of Xcom. Although somehow at every turn Falling Skies is worse. It’s like it copies Xcom and then makes everything worse.

For those of you who haven’t played Xcom essentially Falling Skies is an isometric viewed turn based tactical shooter. You take a team of rebels of different classes and abilities to complete objectives. You might have to rescue soldiers, complete one time objectives (e.g. destroying a radio tower) or just kill ‘em all. You have very few options in the early game due to poor accuracy so initially you rely on your ability to flank enemies and use cover wisely. Later on you will acquire better weapons and abilities until you eventual become a competent Espheni (Falling Skies’ brand of alien invaders) killing machine.


But for a game that so obviously copies what many (me included) regard the best it does everything worse. It looks atrocious. There is none of the out of combat strategy that made Xcom so great. The only mechanics that are different are worse than Xcom’s. And unfortunately Falling Skies: The Game isn’t involved enough in its own lore to make up for the lack of just about everything else. It would basically have needed to be an entire season of the show to do this though.

As it is, between the combat you get forced ‘cut-scenes’ that explain what’s going on. Which isn’t much. It certainly isn’t anything fans of the show will be upset missing. It’s not a good Falling Skies tie-in and the game it attempts to clone is just so far ahead you would think this game preceded it by about 10 years. It’s impossible to forget you’re playing what is basically a broken version of a great game at all times.

Even the upgrade system hasn’t been fully explored. Levelling up, acquiring new recruits, finding parts and upgrading/building new weapons is far too simple. All too early it becomes pointless even having such resources simply because you have so many of them. There is very little strategy in any aspect of Falling Skies: The Game. This is particularly insulting when you consider the shameless level of borderline plagiarism used.


With a total lack of respect for the game it’s so ready to steal from Falling Skies still somehow fails everywhere Xcom succeeds. It seems impossible that it is so close to another game yet so far in all the ways that count. The visuals are just upsetting. Nothing feels like it had any time and attention given to it and it shows. There isn’t any meaningful interactions between the characters which leaves the game feeling totally disjointed from the TV show. There are no redeeming features that I can think of and I’d genuinely have been happier if I hadn’t played this game at all.


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Watch the first footage of the new first person mode to be made available for the new version of Grand Theft Auto V for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This new mode shows players the host of changes made to the game to accommodate this new perspective, including the creation of an optional first person cover system, a new targeting system, a more traditional FPS control scheme, and integrating thousands of new animations into the existing game. It’s also available at the touch of a button so you can easily switch back and forth between perspectives.


First person mode will be available in both GTAV and GTA Online.

Grand Theft Auto V for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC features hundreds of additions and enhancements including 1080p resolution at 30FPS on PS4 and Xbox One (4K compatible on PC).


Grand Theft Auto V for will be available on Xbox One and PS4 18th November and on PC 27th January, 2015.

The initial premise for Beyond Earth is simple albeit serious. Humanity has screwed itself. There’s very little explanation but I imagine we all nuked each other or melted the ice caps or something. If my previous Civ games are anything to go by Giant Death Robots and Xcom soldiers probably did it. But never fear! There is an equally complicated solution. Journey to a different planet and recreate civilization from scratch.

At its core Beyond Earth is Civilization V with new features added or altered. Although that may seem like a bad thing to some, Civ V makes a very good platform on which to base another title. After playing Civ V extensively it’s easy to think you know it all due to Beyond Earth’s similarities. It quickly becomes apparent this isn’t the case.

Creating a game is much more like a wizard than ever before, and despite the fact you can still opt to use the advanced options menu for once I actually enjoyed the user friendly version. Although using my previous knowledge of Civ made it difficult to choose the right factions and their abilities. I had a go but realistically it’s only on your second game that you can make an educated decision.

Rather than picking a faction and getting a special ability and a special unit that becomes obsolete by mid game you now have 4 decisions; Sponsor, Colonists, Spacecraft and Cargo. There are some tricky decisions to be made and the amount of potential combinations is massive. The result is far more unique factions that behave much more like different nations than just nations with different names. One such ability allows you to see strategic resources on the map before you unlock the technology for it. Opting for this one allows you to secure huge amounts of resources early and mid game and bag plenty of favours and bargaining power for later on.

Favours are new to Beyond Earth and essential act as a tradable commodity. They can be quite valuable and can create some interesting diplomatic situations. At one point I had around 7 or 8 favours with a nation who I started to have ‘disagreements’ with. I found myself trying to be cautious and at least maintain neutrality until I’d had time to cash in my favours.

The main reason for disagreements between nations are related to your chosen victory condition. The cultural and diplomatic victories are not present but conquest still makes an appearance. A new condition that can be achieved by anyone is the contact victory. After acquiring certain technologies your nation can track a signal and attempt to make contact with an alien race. The other three victory conditions can be seen as factions as each requires specialisation to a particular kind of tech.

The Promised land victory requires you to build a transport gate and bring the survivors from earth to their new home relying mainly on war machines and earth tech. Emancipation pursues high technology and eventual sees your civilization rely on cybernetics and robotic implants. Finally transcendence sees you researching the alien wildlife on the planet and integrating it with your own technology. Each of the three requires a focus in the tech tree that by late game further emphasises the differences between nations to the point were you feel each has fundamental disagreements.

Pursuing the transcendence victory allowed me powerful alien/human hybrid units and eventually a giant bug like monster called the Xeno Titan. Fighting different units rather than just the same unit with a different colour is really refreshing and creates a very welcome change from Civ V.


Another feature that has been totally redesigned is the tech tree. No longer will you have to research everything. No longer is it just a case of choosing which order you research in – now there are actual decisions to make. Rather than a linear tree research is now carried out using the tech web. As the name suggests it sprawls in every direction. It’s very difficult to see what upgrades are important initially and my first game was basically an extended trial and error session.

Your chosen victory condition(s) make a huge bearing on which directions you go in but it’s a little difficult to identify which upgrades you need. On my first game I acquired all the transcendence tech I needed to construct the victory condition building only to find I couldn’t build it. In fact I’d missed a couple of researches out and it turned out I hadn’t paid enough attention to the quest menu which directed me on what to do next. A simple mistake but the researches can be hugely overwhelming at first with no dictated direction. Luckily by my second game I had enough knowledge to use the web properly and research efficiently.

Virtues have essentially replaced the policy system from Civ V but have a few added twists. You are now presented with 4 distinct virtue paths and rewards are granted for having a certain amount of virtues by type and by level. For example you could have a certain amount of virtues at level 3 across any type and gain a free virtue. Or you could have a reward from having 4 virtues in a single type. Or both. There’s some serious though to be put into virtues and the rewards are good enough that you may consider a slightly inferior virtue if it grants access to the reward.

There’s a much lower focus on buildings for your cities than before which becomes an absolute godsend late game. You’re now actually able to catch settlements up with your capital so they can produce things within a reasonable timeframe. There isn’t a need to construct countless buildings just because they’re there. Instead there are far less buildings but each one actually does something significant. As an added bonus building something new will bring up a quest choice which allows you to decide an additional benefit that all buildings of that type will have. For instance you might decide if that building gains +1 production or +1 food. Some of these benefits can be game changers and is another nice way to ensure nations, and repeat games, feel unique.


It’s impossible not to see Civ V shining through but Beyond Earth is absolutely brimming with style. Units, buildings and tile improvements all look beautifully colourful and sci-fi-ey. With a totally revamped technology tree, virtue system and genuinely unique factions Beyond Earth feels like much more than DLC.

Admittedly there is a lot of Civ V still present but the new features are significant enough to keep veterans interested. They also keep repeat games fresh and combined with new victory conditions I can see Beyond Earth lasting me many, many hours to come. It’s not quite Civ V, it’s not quite Civ VI and it’s not quite DLC but Beyond Earth is certainly worthy of the Civilization name.


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Get ready for a little slice of retro Codies arcade racing like out of the nineties with our new game Toybox Turbos. It’s bursting with multiplayer fun to share with your friends and family, Toybox Turbos takes you to kitchen tables, pool halls and science labs in this manic, miniaturised table top racer!.

The game will be coming out for Windows PC from Steam on 12th November priced at £11.99 / €14.99/ $14.99 and will be coming soon to the Xbox Games Store for the Xbox 360 and to the PlayStation 3 via the online store.


Each table top track is full of obstacles and shortcuts and filled with awesome and ridiculous power-ups. Use mines, machines guns and, of course, giant (well technically they are pretty small), car-mounted hammers as you race a selection of 35 super-fun toy vehicles, ranging from sports cars to moon buggies, diggers, ice cream vans and loads more.

For as long as I’ve played video games I’ve played survival horror. Or at least what I call survival horror. It’s not too difficult to come across someone who feels strangely warm and fuzzy when thinking about the gore, death and that unmistakable feeling of isolation. But it was the pure strategy and thought that was needed literally before each pull of the trigger or use of an item that made survival horror something special to me. And for me that game was undoubtedly Resident Evil.

Despite the long period of success that franchise is all but dead to me. Tension has been replaced by excitement and a careful approach to ammo consumption supplanted by an entire arsenal of weaponry that fits nicely into your pockets. And so I join the ranks of horror fans in the search for survival horror. The Evil Within is the first game in a long time that might just recapture some of that survival horror glory. Particularly as the legend that directed Resident Evil right up to Resi 4 (basically all the good ones), Shinji Mikami, is back as director.

While investigating a mental hospital, were some serious mass murdering has gone down, you are unfortunately captured and wake up hanging upside down from a rope. Your newest friend clearly didn’t get that part for Hostel (probably a blessing in disguise) and your escape from him forms the tutorial and prologue. You have no weapons apart from your fists and a machete you managed to acquire from a corpse during your escape.

Instead you’ll have a tense chase based primarily around the games stealth mechanics. Almost entirely really because this guy likes running around with a chainsaw (can’t think when we’ve seen anything like that before) and manages to injure you early meaning you can’t run properly. The tension as you slowly limp away or narrowly make it behind a box to hide is fantastic. It’s one of those moments that makes you curl your toes, knowing your pursuer may be only inches away and there’s nothing you can do to fight him or even check to see were he is.

Unfortunately there are very few other moments like that once the core gameplay starts. Your main form of attack will be using the one hit stealth kill to stab your enemies in the head. It’s effective up to a point but don’t expect to be Agent 47. The attack is slow and leaves you quite vulnerable, as it should. But it doesn’t use ammo and you all but guarantee that the guy you just stuck a knife in won’t be bothering you for a while. You can even throw bottles to create distractions. Getting the balance between speed and silence is tricky but I found stealth to be one of my best strategies throughout the game.

One problem is what you should do when you fudge a stealth takedown. So your target mysteriously turned around at the last minute. What do you do? The Evil Within provides you with several options but if things go really bad it’s often tempting to die and retry from a checkpoint. On occasion it’s difficult to use items knowing you could retry and save yourself a match or a few bullets.

The same goes for health syringes which are rare enough that using them has to be a conscious decision. But you regenerate your health to a minimum point and often it’s easier, and more economical, to just rely on minimum health and fall back on checkpoints if you need them.

Yet another reason your health feels totally pointless is the constant and utterly ridiculous overuse of traps. Especially proximity mines which have a tricky mini-game to disarm them and can easily blow you to pieces kill you instantly, or at least take most of your health off. If you use a syringe only to walk past a mine you didn’t see and get reduced back to critical health you have to wonder if it was worth using.


The weapons are satisfying and well balanced. Nothing ever feels quite good enough that you become complacent but you don’t feel like you’re firing blanks either. Upgrades make a decent difference but a lot of them are unnecessary for most of the game. You’ll likely get to work on increasing the damage of your weapons and the amount of stuff you can carry and then everything else is just a slightly handy perk for late game and new game+. Progression is steady and you always feel like your getting somewhere, even if your not quite sure where.

Although you do have to wonder why the guns the enemies shoot can kill you quite easily. And for that matter why can they aim perfectly? And why the hell do they even have guns? Yet another survival horror that features a gun wielding variety of its particular flavour of zombie/monster. No horror game seems content without having enemies with guns. The game is more tense without them and the gameplay doesn’t benefit at all from their inclusion – especially considering I can’t effectively engage them at range.

I accept, as we all do, that certain realities must be ignored so that video games can work. But when you find yourself standing with a torch (of the wood and fire kind) capable of burning and instantly killing a living enemy, it’s totally bizarre that you can’t use it to burn an enemy on the floor. Instead you rely on your trusty matches which ignite them as if they were made entirely of petrol. Nor can you roll a downed enemy into the camp fire he is laying next to. Why not just leave torches and campfires out of the game? And if you think about the size of a bullet for a revolver how many do you think you could get in your pockets right now? I bet it’s more than 10. For a detective this guy is woefully unequipped. I would have rather had a space or weight limit and instead have to consider limited ammo drops rather than the totally ridiculous (initial) limit of 10 bullets and constantly find ammo I can’t pick up. If you had a pair of combats and a rucksack you’d be sorted. Oh and a jet lighter. Why do they never bring lighters?


The Evil Within really excels with environments. Every new area is creepy and impossibly well detailed. Exploring the areas is a treat, albeit a hesitant one. The backgrounds are beautifully out of focus and catching sight of a stumbling creature as you investigate the foreground is chilling. It looks stunning but more than that the design and workmanship behind every single inch of every room is really amazing. The first few minutes of each section before I started taking out the nasty things were by far my favourite. It’s just a shame so much of that atmosphere is lost once the fighting begins.

There are just these absolutely amazing moments of tension as you soak up the artfully crafted atmosphere. But there’s always something just around the corner to ruin it. The ability to rely on checkpoints takes most of the survival and conservation out of the game unless you actively ignore them. Even if you don’t use the checkpoints they’re always there as a security net. Creeping your way around to defeat enemies and feeling vulnerable and disadvantaged is handled well although personally I’d still rather sacrifice it for the need to use weapons and ammo strategically.

The Evil Within is gory and patiently unnerves you using the fantastic environments and devious enemy design to create a dark atmosphere. Personally I’d rather the challenge came from survival and conservation rather than difficulty but that’s just preference. As an action horror title The Evil Within is the best since Resident Evil 4 but I still felt the survival elements took a back seat. Either way a triumphant return of the great Shinji Mikami to horror and the best hope for the genre in a long time.

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With Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is set to release in just a few weeks, and today, PC players will finally know if your current PC will support the game now that its system requirements have been revealed.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare

The Steam page for the game was updated to reveal just want kind of specs Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will require in order to be playable.

Here’s the bare minimum you’ll need:

  • OS: Windows 7 64-Bit / Windows 8 64-Bit / Windows 8.1 64-Bit
  • Processor: Intel CoreTM i3-530 @ 2.93 GHz / AMD Phenom II X4 810 @ 2.80 GHz or better
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 @ 1GB / ATI Radeon HD 5870 @ 1GB or better
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Hard Drive: 55 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX-compatible

With a new gameplay launch trailer was also released over the weekend, that was showing off some impressive visuals taken directly from in-game footage. We’re also introduced to the “advanced warfare” aspect of the game, which includes the use of drones, exo-skeletons, and jet packs. We’re also treated to some of Kevin Spacey’s impressive motion capture and voice acting chops as he plays the role of Jonathan Irons, who is the leader of the Atlas Corporation.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will be released on 4th November on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4.

After an inconceivably long wait the sequel to Wasteland has finally arrived. Wasteland 2 is a post-apocalyptic top down RPG. So we can expect the usual thugs, bandits and giant mutated creatures of some sort.

The first things you will see is a character creation screen, or more specifically a team creation screen. You’ll have four character slots to fill and rather than creating your protagonist and acquiring team members as you play you create all four from the start. There are also a reasonable selection of premade characters but I can’t see any RPG fans opting in.


But the offer does become more tempting once you reach the stats page. As usual you are given a certain number of points to assign to different attributes or skills. And as usual it’s difficult to know which are going to be useful and which aren’t. The difference with Wasteland 2 is that there are just so many options for you that initial character creation is rather intimidating. The tooltip descriptions are reasonably helpful but for first time players a quick bit of research is probably in order. It certainly was for me rather than risking playing 10 hours and realising one of your team is useless.

What is nice is having the freedom to create an entire team. All too often you create your character only to find a party member along the way who can do everything better than you. Having to think ahead and tactically distribute skills across four characters, although intimidating, is actually quite refreshing.


Throughout the entire game there is this sense that Wasteland 2 is a game from long ago. The help is minimal, the graphics are nothing particularly special and there certainly isn’t any room for advanced facial animations and the like. Not that you really see anybody’s face close up anyway. But what it does offer is a massive amount of freedom and a sense of satisfaction when you figure something out or overcome hurdles.

Even simple things like the first time I bypassed a gate which had an alarm, a trap and a lock. I first inspected the gate using my team leader, who has high perception, and then set him to work defusing the traps – a skill I had assigned him earlier. I then called up my lock picking, alarm cracking second in command and after all was complete the gate opened safely and silently.

It’s the manual nature of the tasks that gave me satisfaction. Having to call up my second knowing that she had the relevant skills and select them from the hotbar is far more satisfying than the cursor changing to the corresponding task automatically whenever you do anything. It’s a look back at the golden age of the RPG before games helped us out and made things easy and even the slight inconvenience of selecting an ability manually is far more rewarding.

But it does make for a steep learning curve. The first mission you are sent on is relatively simple and the level of difficulty is not too high but generally speaking Wasteland 2 is a tough game. And if you’re only used to modern RPGs the early game can be a little rough. But by making sure you save every 3 seconds and learning by trying rather than listening before long you feel confident that you can make it in this harsh world.


Combat is a turn based affair that plays out quite differently from most other top down squad based titles. There’s can be a strangely fast pace to combat considering how easily you can be slaughtered. Each character has a certain amount of AP (action points) to use on abilities each turn. Each character can have two weapons and, assuming you have a balanced team, will hopefully all use different ammo types so there aren’t fights over a certain type of round as you through boxes of unused bullets into a puddle of biological waste.

Early game it’s very easy to get caught up in the pace of the fight and forget that this is a very tactical combat system but as the enemies get tougher you find a need to slow down and think. Selecting abilities, moving characters and anything else you might want to do is simple and the UI helps make sure you don’t lose because of a stray click or an ambiguous cursor. They even decided to have attack and move on different mouse buttons. Sounds like something small but to all those who ever tried to click an enemy to attack them and saw they’re character run right up to him, end their turn and wait to die this kind of thing is a big deal.

Questing is the usual selection of people in trouble, helping those that hate you and fighting half crazed lunatics wearing American football gear. Although most of the dialogue is spoken the main interface for conversations resembles a 90’s printer stuck at the bottom of the screen. Your options for dialogue will appear underneath the transcript and you can either click on them or type the option directly into the UI which is fairly useless – but kind of fun.

The options and dialogue trees are certainly in depth enough that you never feel wanting for more. Often I would find that conversations would end just at the point were I said to myself ‘I seriously hope that was the last branch’. There’s nothing particularly unique about the characters but they do a decent job of filling all the prerequisite roles needed for a post-apocalyptic journey.


Wasteland 2 is a throw back to RPGs of old. It’s the sequel to a game that’s 26 years old (and also was released the same year I was born) and definitely looks to the 90s for inspiration. It’s also a game RPG fans want. Sure it can be a rough start but give us the numbers and stats we crave. Give us tactical combat that those stats actually matter in rather than just spectacle. Give us enough quests so we keep coming back for more after 10 hours. Wasteland 2 gives you just that. It doesn’t look the best and doesn’t even try to add new features but it’s just a good, solid RPG. Just like the good old days.





Not everyone has an aerial point available where they need it or has the ability to have an external aerial, so an option open to you is to use an indoor aerial, and here is our review of the One for All Indoor Aerial SV9335 and SV9395.

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