It’s been a difficult few years for me with Final Fantasy. As a fan of what I consider the glory days I’ve found it increasingly difficult to accept the changes the franchise has undergone. Massive worlds to explore have been swapped for a supposedly more story driven experience. There hasn’t been much in the way of upgrading weapons and items for a while either. And now we have just one party member. Lightning’s a good character but like many I was concerned she couldn’t manage all on her own.
As far as battles go I am glad to say everything is fine. There’s a new system called ‘Schemata’ that allows you to create totally customizable setups for Lightning, three of which you can use in battle. It’s quite similar to the Paradigm system except offers more customization at the expense of party members.
It certainly adds some tactics to your battle setup and allows those who want it a chance to return to the old days where character setup actually mattered. Unfortunately it’s the only thing that matters and once you’re in battle you will merely need to hold one of the 4 face buttons down to perform an action. All actions will use up your ATB gauge and once it’s run out pressing ‘R1’ or ‘L1’ will switch to a Schema with some ATB left. When you’re not using a schema it will recharge ATB. It’s not all that deep and quickly becomes quite boring, especially where random encounters are concerned.
Did you ever think not getting XP for defeating bosses was bad? Then you’ll love how now you don’t get XP at all. There are no levels and no fight on the game will improve Lightning in any way. The only way to improve is to complete quests. After about 30 minutes random battles become nothing but an inconvenience. If you’re lucky you might get a useful item but otherwise battles are just a dull obstacle.
Some of the tedium is alleviated due to the fact that early in the game you will be more or less allowed to go where you want. But this does come with it’s own problems. The entire game is timed. And despite the fact you will unlikely run out of time it does take all the joy out of exploration. There is finally a world to explore and if you do you can leave yourself stuck with very few options to proceed.
For some reason certain areas are only accessible during certain hours. So if you go off exploring a little and miss your window you can’t progress until the next day. This is not helped by the fact that all the missions require you to either painfully search an entire city for something or carry out endless fetch quests. Fetch quests can have their place but in Lightning Returns they are just a euphemism for boring side quests.
For example I struggled finding one of the very first objectives on the game. After I’d found it I couldn’t finish the objective until the next day. So I went to complete some other quests. A lot of the quests where too difficult for my low-level character and because there is no option to grind there was nothing I could do. I started as many quests as possible, and was allowed to finish a few but most where either locked until a certain time or just above my level.
With no other option I returned to my main objective, which I eventually completed, and carried on. And then the enemies got too difficult again. With the clock ticking and me not able to complete any objectives to level up there was nothing I could do to progress. All because I chose to explore and pursue side quests instead of the main objective.
The time system is absolutely the most stupid thing I have ever seen in any Final Fantasy title ever. Having some areas inaccessible at certain times does nothing but stop you from completing objectives in the order you want. Nothing else at all. If I want to go to a certain area to do what I want (or need) to do, I have to wait. Not for anything to happen, not for the landscape to change just for the clock to count on. It doesn’t make things feel tense it’s just very very annoying. I need to level up to progress, but it’s not the ‘right’ time so I can’t do anything at all because my stats aren’t good enough. It basically ruined my game. I wish I’d just stuck to the main objectives like a good boy.
The plot is unfortunately mediocre as well. I enjoyed the characters’ interactions and actually found this version of Lightning to be my favourite. She’s burdened by her knowledge and duty which complements her already sometimes melancholy state of mind. For better or worse, there are even some attempts at humour in keeping with older Final Fantasy games that sometimes leave you asking ‘what the hell just happened?’. But as the grand finale to the Final Fantasy XIII saga Lightning Returns is remarkably lack lustre.
Graphically things are very much what we have come to expect from Final Fantasy XIII. For a PS3/XBOX360 title it looks very good but there will be nothing that astonishes or surprises. There is a noticeable step down from previous FF XIII games presumably due to the more populated world but it’s well worth it to actually have people walking around a city.
Without the idiotic time mechanic Lightning Returns would have been much more entertaining. Unfortunately it is so core to the game that everything is tarnished by it. A pathetic system of physical gates ensures you stay on the path the game wants you to. If you don’t want the player to have freedom then make it linear. Pursuing quests that result in you getting to a door that basically says ‘come back later’ is infuriating. It’s even worse given that that’s is the only way to level up. All progression felt so tedious and awkward that I enjoyed very little of the time I was on Lightning Returns. Follow the main objectives and forget all about the side quest and you’ll be a lot better off.
Lightning Returns left me thinking only that I wish they’d hurry up with the FFX and FFX-2 HD remakes. I can’t wait to go looking for side quests without fear that they ruin the main story. Not so much having to grind but being able to level up will be great. I’m not afraid of change and Final Fantasy has been going so long that change is needed. The problems aren’t because Lightning Returns isn’t an old Final Fantasy, but that almost every part of Lightning Returns is wrong.
After receiving a ‘Save the date’ email around Christmas time from 2K I knew perhaps this was possibly a great way to end the year: a new IP with very little information leaked along side it. Skip forward a month and the guys at Turtle Rock Studios, known for their work with Valve and team behind Left 4 Dead, had us driven to the location under all the mystery of what their new game Evolve played like exactly. After a brief presentation from the game’s
developers we were escorted to our PC builds of the pre alpha stage setup of Evolve that looked fantastic for an unfinished game as it is.
Evolve is solely a cooperative game with major emphasis in working together in a team. How? By making every available class have tools and weapons that works better with the support of your team. The goal of Evolve is to take down the monster controlled by a 5th player thus making this game a 4v1 experience.
The monster itself has its own objectives which we’ll come to later. The four Hunters are broken down into the Trapper, Assault, Medic and Support classes which one of each has to always be present for any match to be played, all equipped with jet packs for scaling tall environments and structures.
In the preview we played Griffin the Trapper was like his name suggests the guy that’ll focus on trapping the monster into locations with his deployable Mobile Arena. Within this portable dome that the monster can’t escape from, the Trapper can also use his unique Harpoon that restricts the movements of the monster that can prevent it jumping away but can be broken with a swipe of the monster’s claws. He’s also equipped with Sound Spikes for when the hunt is on and the monster is out of sight. My personal favourite class due to having the most rewarding role in each round we played.
Markov the Assault was the most relatable class from any generic shooter but this class is a necessity to Evolve. With two types of gun, a close range lightning gun and an assault rifle for medium/long range, the Assault’s role is to deal massive amounts of damage. To be fair I had the most fun with laying down his Arc Mines, luring the monster towards them and using his Personal Shield that makes you momentarily invulnerable. Although the main focus is on
dealing damage this class wasn’t as memorable and certainly the least unique.
Val the Medic was the only class that didn’t have a way of dealing damage towards the monster and is the selfless class in the game. Tasked with keeping the team alive with using her Healing Burst for close range team mates simultaneously or the Medgun for longer ranged heals used for reviving incapacitated players the Medic isn’t a class to be taken as a joke. And when she couldn’t get more awesome as it is she’s also armed with a Tranquilizer Rifle which slows and slightly weakens the monster as well as a Anti-Material Rifle which simply creates weak spots in the monster’s armour allowing team mates to cause double damage at those exact spots.
Hank the Support is perhaps the biggest team player in the entire team as he could potentially make or break a situation armed with both offensive and defensive tactical advantages. Other than his Laser Cutter firearm he’s equipped with a Shield Gun that makes whoever targeted with it invincible momentarily whether it be the Medic healing a fallen teammate whilst being attacked by the monster. He too has a cloaking device that he can use on himself and within close proximity can cloak others. And finally the Orbital Barrage air strike that rains missiles from above if you can get the monster to stay put that is.
For the preview the monster available was Goliath, think King Kong with fire breathing perks. This monster was pretty dangerous and balanced, awesome to show off at the event as it had a well-rounded approach to the level we played on. It could climb rocks, leap great distances and even sneak about without making a noise, the perfect predator. At the start of each game the monster has to choose 2 out of the 4 available moves which in Goliath’s case was Charge, which dashes forward knocking everything aside, Rock throw that is a
projectile, Fire breathing that does what it says on the tin and a leaping punch which too doesn’t need much explaining. The monster will have to eat wildlife to level up that round as known as ‘Evolving’ which unlocks the 3rd and 4th move thus creating a stronger powerhouse which you’d probably don’t want to be trapped inside a Mobile Arena with.
So even though the game is going to be advertised as a 4v1 competitive multiplayer experience the environment itself is just as hostile as the monster. Shear where we played was a living breathing jungle with a metallic factory and generator thrown into the centre. This environment featured various creatures and beasts all shapes and sizes as well as venus fly trap-like flowers that can trap other players. From dinosaur inspired carnivores to hostile
aggressive biped monsters we had to keep our whit’s focused as a few times some of us were eaten by an alligator lurking in the lake. There are birds in the environment that fly off when startled by the monster when in proximity, an indicator for knowing where to find it. Learning your environment is vital.
The goal for the hunters is to track down and kill the monster. For the monster your goal is to Evolve by eating enough wildlife, fill up your gauge, find a secluded location and transform into the next evolution two times before attacking the generator on the level we were playing or killing the trapped civilians if hunting down the hunters isn’t for you.
The monster gets a head start once the mission begins for running away from the starting location. Within the 30 seconds the monster can either sneak away which doesn’t leave trackable footprints for the hunters to find, or just all out run, jump and climb which will create an instant hunt upon the hunter’s arrival. The monster will be looking to eat wildlife, some more special with bonuses that the others which will be indicated with a star above the heads of those creatures. These Elite creatures if eaten by the monster or hunters grants a buff allowing health regeneration for example.
Evolve does have a lot of promising features that’ll only be built upon with added new characters, monsters, moves and environments and who knows what else is up Turtle Rock’s sleeves. From what I played I was blown away with a cooperative shooter that doesn’t endorse the mindless one-man army play style which other co-op games sadly doesn’t balance out as well as Evolve have. With a sense of learning survival tactics from every match we played and every game being different every time it’ll be amazing to see how the public accept a unique game like this for this generation of gaming.
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Genre: 4v1 Shooter
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: Autumn 2014
WD recently announced the release of the WD Black2 dual drive, a unique storage innovation that fuses a 2.5-inch 120 GB solid state drive (SSD) with a 1 TB hard disk drive (HDD) to offer a powerful dual drive solution – and this is our review.
Perfect for consumers and service providers looking to upgrade notebooks, small form factor desktops, and single-slot and all-in-one (AIO) systems with both SSD level performance and HDD capacity, the WD Black2 dual drive connects through a single cable and fits into a conventional 9.5 mm slot.
What’s in the Box?
The box is actually pretty solid and contains a slide out separate box that contains the Black2 drive, a quick installation guide, a massive USB key and a USB connector.
A Closer Look
And here is that massive USB key that contains a link to the WD website to download the software.
Before we begin I must state that I don’t have any allegiances towards Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo and any other First Person Shooting games out there. I like them all individually, some featuring modes that I prefer over the others and hearing an arcade FPS game was coming out on the Xbox 360 got me pretty excited. I’ve day dreamed numerous times about what would exactly be needed for an arcade shooter to survive in this already triple A shooter heavy market.
Something Fun, explosions and guns usually does the trick, you’d need Replayability, usually a formula of wanting to better yourself in the next round usually done with unlockables that rewards the player for hard work, and finally you’d need Balancing, having a heavier weapon makes you less mobile and vice versa to force players to approach a situation with different tactics.
Rekoil, now available to buy on the marketplace, attempts to include these points listed but it isn’t executed in a successful way. Instead you’re left with a broken FPS with a price tag that asks for way too much, and by too much I mean it should be free to download. On paper everything about Rekoil sounds good, ‘7 different game modes’, ‘40 different weapons’, even the screen shots look amazing (which I’m sure isn’t from the same version or even the same
format that’s out now). So why does this game fall at so many hurdles?
Going back to the previous point about the screen shots looking “amazing”, I did a little digging around and even came across pre-released in-game footage which too looks better than the version that’s available to buy for the 360. I find anything along these lines as terribly misleading as you’re shown something that promises what your experience could look like. Instead, we’re giving a game that looks pretty average to be polite and resembles character textures from Goldeneye back in the 90s on the Nintendo 64. Trying to be nice and
saying this is only an arcade title and that we shouldn’t expect too much from such a release is something I’d usually defend a game with but from the time other older arcade games look much better rules out this excuse.
What is it that we look for in regards to graphics in a FPS? Since the current big shooters out there have already set a high standard on the brink of photorealistic environments it’s understandable that smaller companies might not have the resources to achieve this. By standard we look for high res textures, believable character models and weapons with a nice shine or rustic looking matte.
Rekoil’s weapons for a start just about resemble the real life model it’s based on. It wasn’t satisfying to wield the guns that all felt the same within each class. The levels themselves didn’t look smooth and felt unfinished. I know this game is supposed to be a FPS in a raw form and focuses on the gameplay but for 2014 this simply would not do.
Music and Sound Effects
There is a single soundtrack that plays through the menu of the game which whilst joining games glitches by doubling up becoming an intense mash up of unnecessary noise. The short track itself was just about bearable bordering on torture with every loop it does when unsuccessfully finding games to join due to the unpopulated lobbies. Ok, music within games isn’t a needed thing but when used correctly, like in film and TV, can set a mood and/or intensify a situation.
Rekoil features nothing during the matches at all which creates a strange eerie silence whereas other shooters out there have an ambience track which has become the norm. The in-game sound effects are another issue that draws you out of any immersion you might have somehow found yourself in. From the weapons firing sounding just incorrect and dropping sound altogether to grenades not making a sound if not in your proximity, Rekoil single handily lets down what years of development in immersive sound effects have strived towards. If the sound and atmosphere were spot on then the graphics and gameplay would at
least be excusable.
The gameplay, backbone to what usually makes or breaks a game’s experience was playable but wasn’t fun or daring. Similar to what you’d find in the more eSports orientated games an non-customisable class system is present and the weapons are strictly locked these set classes. Choosing the Assault class lets you play an all rounded character that deals with mid to long range fire fights whereas the Rocket class is slower in movement, longer reload times but bigger area of effect damage. The balancing here is the only thing spot on and limiting
people to these loadouts is pretty much as old school as it gets. What I found out that wasn’t fun or daring is the sense of achievement as very little skill is required when a majority of the kills I got were random and very hit or miss.
Many gunfights featured my opponent and I running towards each other and whoever started to unload their gun into the other first didn’t always win the shootout thus promoting me to not try harder next time. And on the flip side getting a long distance one hit kill with a supposedly short ranged shotgun seemed like I was cheating at times.
The weapon stats are detailed in which guns where better for which situations but I found having the base standard Assault class with the AK47 worked well, worked as sniper at long range achieving random hip-fired headshots and torn enemies apart at close range like a shotgun, broken and pointless. I’m a big fan of having a health bar in any game as opposed to the step-out-of-battle-andrecuperate-your-health-like-nothing-even-happened type of health system that is in almost every title. Rekoil does have a health bar but what’s the point of having one when there’s no health packs to replenish what you’ve lost? This quickly became my biggest issue with the game especially when there’s an achievement for getting a 15-kill streak in a single round.
Somewhere amongst the description of the game you’ll find out there’s some kind of story shoehorned in about a world devastated by a pandemic but if this game is online multiplayer only and doesn’t explain what exactly went on then was it really needed? Who are the Minute Men and the Dark Water teams? Why are they fighting each other? Do we actually care? And if there’s a story how do you explain the random maps from city-based exteriors and a subway to a sawmill and a bizarre Wild West village? I’d love to find out how they relate
even though the layout per playable maps wasn’t too bad themselves, perhaps the only decent bit of design in this entire game.
Several things that’ll need revising would be the spawning system. You can die and respawn in the heat of a battle in some game modes, sometimes unfairly behind your enemies which causes unbalanced fights that are all based on the luck of the spawning draw. There’s been times I’ve come back in with only my knife equipped rather than my primary gun, and this happening with a poor spawning system puts you at a disadvantage as you flail your melee knife attacks toward someone gunning you down.
Rekoil: Liberator is available at the insultingly steep price of £11.99, which as mentioned earlier should just be free as it’s clearly not a completed game for the Xbox 360. I’ve taken into account that it’s trying to be the basic FPS experience with no perks, kill streaks and fancy decorations but as it wasn’t executed correctly I’d recommend everyone to stay away from this game. It was hard enough trying to find available games to play online as it was rarely populated with players. Anyone that doesn’t own this game is better off without it. Rekoil doesn’t even fall into the guilty pleasure category of gaming and I’d be happy
never to speak of its name again.
Have you played it? Were we too harsh? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.
HD PVR Rocket records video game play from PlayStation, Xbox and PC gaming systems in high definition resolution up to 1080p using H.264 video compression, and here is our review.
The most notable feature of the Rocket is that it functions independently of a PC, powered by USB from the console or PC.
A press of the red button on the device will begin instant recording onto any size USB flash drive or powered external HDD over HDMI or component in H.264. The same format used by Blu-ray discs providing a crisp image and amazing digital sound. H.264 uses 1/3 of disk space compared to the popular MPEG-2 format – so when a 16 Gbyte USB thumb drive is plugged into the HD PVR Rocket, 4 hours video game play is recorded in full HD.
HD PVR Rocket is the ultimate portable video recorder: it is small enough to fit in your hand and weights just 130 grams and complementing the next generation console’s in-built gameplay sharing features by adding a huge amount of recording flexibility
What’s more, the HD PVR Rocket also has a built-in audio mixer so that gamers can record game commentary along with game audio. The in-built audio mixer will allow the addition of live commentary or background music over game audio by simply attaching a microphone, headset or mp3 player. A touch sensitive control panel situated next to the recording button adjusts the input volume and also features audio-level monitor, bass boost, audio-level lock and mute button.
- Hardware encoder:
- H.264 AVCHD high definition video encoder, video encode up to 1080p30 from HDMI or component video.
- No delay HDMI pass through:
- HDMI or component in to HDMI out.
- Recording data rate:
- Recording formats:
- MP4 in standalone mode, TS in PC connected mode.
- USB thumb drive compatibility
- USB 2.0 or USB 3.0
- Size: from 1GB to 32GB
- Minimum transfer rate: 2.5 Mbytes/sec
- External hard disc compatibility: any self powered external storage drive with at least 2.5Mbytes/sec transfer rate
- Audio mixer:
- Mixes game audio with microphone audio
- Supports both powered and unpowered microphones.
- Microphone volume adjust, +20db boost and mute.
- Input/output connections:
- HDMI from Xbox, PC game systems or other HDMI sources without HDCP.
- Component video in from a PS3 with stereo audio.
- 3.5mm microphone jack.
- USB thumb drive connector.
- HDMI output.
- 4.75 inches x 3.5 inches x 1.5 inches.
- Weight: 4.6 oz
- Bundled with Hauppauge Capture software application:
- Record your game play to your PC.
- Record game commentary with game audio.
- Fast trim.
- Upload to YouTube.
A Closer Look
The rear of the Rocket has the USB power connector, both HDMI In and Out, and an A/V IN for use with a PlayStation or other component device.
The front has a microphone socket and a USB port for connecting the flash drive. It also has an LED band going around the device which glows depending on the state of the Rocket. So for example, if you try to capture HDCP protected content it will blink green, and it will be a solid red when recording.
On the top of the Rocket is the big red button used to start and stop the capturing. There is also a volume control, a mute button, and boost button to add +20dB and an unlock button to enable you to make selections. All are touch sensitive.
Using the HD PVR Rocket
Using the HD PVR Rocket is really easy – you just connect it up to whatever you are capturing from using the supplied cables, plug in the USB flash drive, then press the big red button to start the capture. It’s that simple!
Here is a video of it in action:
As you can see from the photo at the start of this review, the HD PVR Rocket fits into the palm of your hand. Now of course you also need a USB flash drive and the relevant cables, but the most important feature is that you don’t actually need a computer to actually capture the footage to.
You can use a computer along with the Rocket by using the Hauppauge Capture software, but for me I am happy to just capture the gameplay footage and then drop it into Final Cut Pro and do everything else I need to do there.
Everything you need is included in the box, including an HDMI cable.
Setting up the Rocket was very simple – there are a few more steps if you want to use it on a PlayStation, but those steps are actually on the PlayStation itself, where as using it on an Xbox is as simple as connecting it up and pressing the button.
If you want to do a lot of capturing you need to ensure you use a large USB flash drive. I captured about 9 minutes of footage from an Xbox One running at 1080p and it used a little under 600MB, so I was very happy.
The quality of the capture is perfect, I was actually surprised just how good it was considering the size of the Rocket and that you just plug it in and go!
If you want to do any capturing at all, especially if you want to do that capturing outside of your home, I cannot recommend this highly enough, it’s a fantastic little device that will now be in my bag whenever I go to events, just in case I need it!
The Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket is available now priced at £139.99.
Learn more from the Hauppauge website.
It seems that whenever a new generation of console comes out it’ll mean that video games developers have a chance to remind us of their past games. We’ve all played our share of classic titles and noticed years later we could replay these same games, sometimes in a bundle with their sequels, with HD graphics and end up forking out full price to relive what we previously enjoyed (with added achievements/trophies). Throughout the Xbox 360 and PS3 lifespan there were numerous ‘HD’ remakes and it seems that our now new generation of
consoles will be treading familiar footsteps. So what makes Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition any different and why should you go out to purchase this title which isn’t even a year old?
If you picked up the Xbox One or the Playstation 4 I think it’s safe to say nothing from the launch line up has looked ground breaking and stunning yet. But we must forgive this as launch titles aren’t the consoles best examples of what power each generation of consoles can show. Playing through Tomb Raider last year was pretty much a visual treat for players on all formats it was available on. We experienced a beautifully textured Lara Croft, battered and bloody, embark through jaw dropping environments which wasn’t all browns and greys.
The Definitive Edition is the best looking game currently out on consoles and with the addition of the previously exclusive to PC ‘TressFX’ for Lara’s hair, graphically the game has stepped up since the previous outing. Since both new platforms are powered by AMD APUs getting perks like TressFX might excite those who look towards the intricate details in such
games. Lara’s face isn’t the same as well as her character model too going through some minor adjustments. With more attention to detail in the blood splatter on her body and clothing this truly is the most detailed Tomb Raider will be and it’s noticeable if you’ve compared both versions.
The difficulty settings haven’t been tweaked and players like myself who looked for a challenge in the Hard mode wouldn’t find this edition any different. That being said, nothing else gameplay-wise has been modified that was noticeable. So if you’re considering a new challenge and have previously played this setting last year expect the exact same play through. Using the Kinect you have several new ways of interacting with the game, all sadly
unnecessary. Shouting, “Go to map” as opposed to pressing the associated button on the control pad is something I found I only did once, intentionally.
Other voice commands include weapon changing which in the heat of battle you might just prefer the quicker option of using the D-pad. You can even get yourself physically moving too by leaning to the left and right to pan the camera in certain moments of the game. After picking up treasure and collectables you can rotate these objects by sticking your hand out in front of you, gripping and rotating it.
In a Game-of-the-year-like fashion you’re also given content that was previously locked from standard versions such as a pre-order bonus tomb now built in straight into this edition. The multiplayer has the ‘Hitman Absolution’ weapon pack, another bit of DLC now free straight out the box and I applaud Square for not squeezing micro transactions into this all rounded complete bundle.
This Definitive Edition is aimed towards those that either love the game so much and want to play it again with deeper graphics and/or not minding purchasing another title towards the already limited range of games on this new gen, or just simply didn’t play it the first time round. If the former is you, picking up this game full price isn’t going to be a let down as you’ll be the proud owner of one great looking game loaded with additional content and optional Kinect features which wasn’t available before. If the latter applies to you and this is your first outing to the Tomb Raider revamp then prepare for a high octane adventure.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is available now on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
And thanks to Xbox for the review code.
Whilst not one of Assassin’s Creed’s greatest moments Liberation was a very good attempt at bringing the franchise to a handheld platform. Liberation HD is that same game dressed up and now brought to you’re big screen of choice.
Unfortunately it is quite obvious that Liberation HD is limited due to its original platform. There’s only so much makeup that can be applied to a game before you’ve made a completely new one. At times it looks good, and would even arguably look right at home on the PS3, XBOX 360 or PC, but for the most part there are too many imperfections and poor textures for Liberation HD to look like anything but a handheld port.
This also crosses over with the gameplay. Bugs that where present on the previous game are still there. Enemy AI is just as bad as the original and can very easily get completely confused. And although free running has never been what you would call perfect in any Assassin’s Creed title Liberation HD is probably the single worst example of it I’ve seen since AC1. Time and time again I was stuck trying to climb something I didn’t want to or fall off something I wanted to be on – occasionally to my death.
And tragically the main missions mimic the style of Black Flag. Tail this person, follow that one. Get spotted once and do the whole level again. If there’s one thing I wish Ubisoft would get sorted out it’s their unacceptably poor level designs. They can create an impressive open world and populate it with largely interesting characters. I don’t even mind the occasionally over the top overall plot line. But I refuse to believe that the Assassin’s spent all their time tailing and listening in on conversations. I’m all for games that take their time but just every now and again I need something different.
So basically all of my issues with the latest releases (Assassin’s Creed III and Black Flag) are the same with Liberation but are made all the more noticeable in Liberation HD due to its low grade visuals. It’s basically taking a handheld title and stretching it onto a big screen. It has been upgraded and does look much better than the original but on the big screen it just can’t compete with the latest Assassin’s Creed titles, which is basically what it’s up against. The bad parts of Black Flag are still in Liberation HD but without the great parts to balance it out.
And it’s so frustrating that even looking past the visuals only brings you closer to the realisation that Ubisoft can’t or don’t want to change things. The AI is still not all that great. The free running is still not smooth or without irritating sections where you get stuck. Main missions are just appallingly dull and mediocre. Side missions often breath a bit of life and longevity into Assassin’s Creed but in Liberation HD they are just endless fetch quests.
Aveline is a great protagonist to play as but sadly her supporting cast are not so great. Voice acting is just ridiculous at times. It’s so bad in places that it becomes impossible to take certain moments seriously at all. Even with some of Assassin’s Creed’s less imaginative characters the voice acting usually isn’t as bad as Liberation HD is at some points.
Overall Liberation HD is a disappointing experience outside of its native handheld platform. If you’re an Assassin’s Creed fan and you’ve never experienced Liberation then it’s probably worth a go. But if you have the option of the original on PS Vita definitely go with that. There’s a general sense of lack-lustre to Liberation HD that couldn’t be avoided given that it’s a port. Sadly the game suffers because of it and comes across as a sloppy addition to Assassin’s Creed’s already overfilled shelf.
Reviewed on PC. Available on PS3, XBOX 360 and PC.
Any excuse to go back to the city of Los Perdidos where Dead Rising 3 is set pretty much excites me. This living breathing world, no pun intended, filled with zombies is home to Episode 1 of the DLC ‘Operation Broken Eagle’.
Set before the events of the main campaign this episode opens up with a video that
explains that there are 4 others stories that took place under the watchful eyes of a mysterious character, very creepy. Broken Eagle puts you in control of Spec Ops Commander Adam Kane with a very unorthodox mission.
Available as part of the Season Pass this single episode alone gave me a different take on my Dead Rising 3 experience. With additional new weapons, 1 new combo weapon and a new vehicle this is a fine example of furthering an original game’s playability. The main mission is to establish a base camp and neutralise all “unlawful combatants, which includes the President of the United States. Being top secret, after your helicopter crashes with your troops being scattered throughout the city your new objective will be to recover the aircraft’s
black box and finding your team, what a crazy turn of events Kane will have to encounter that night.
Without any countdown timers for any of the missions you can literally take your time to explore the city if you hadn’t had the chance to during the original campaign. Just beware that the army are amongst the zombie hordes so it isn’t a walk in the park but enough challenge to keep you on your toes. Who knew capturing the President would be so challenging?
Kane is full of witty remarks as he tears through zombie flesh but also respectful for any fallen comrades he stumbles across whether they’re dead or turned and have to be killed. He quickly becomes a protagonist torn between his duties in this post-apocalyptic environment and his fight for survival, a great insight into a mercenary’s approach from Capcom. Available with it’s own Nightmare mode just like in the campaign it more than makes up for the fact
this DLC doesn’t have cooperative play.
It took me several hours to complete this and I’m intrigued to finding out what other untold stories from Los Perdidos will reveal.
Operation Broken Eagle is available now on the Xbox One.
First things first, this game is now known as Full Burst for the rest of this review. Somebody really needs to tell Namco Bandai that adding more words to the title doesn’t make anything more awesome. But if you think giant inexplicable Japanese style explosions do then your in luck.
Full Burst is a rerelease of the original Ninja Storm 3 which boasts enhanced visuals as well as a ton of extra content like costumes and a new challenge mode. The main story has some extra stuff added but in large remains the same as the original, aside from the visuals. For those who aren’t particularly familiar with the Ninja Storm universe, like me, the first few hours on Full Burst will likely be a very confusing ordeal.
But if you stick with it you will eventually know the characters well enough to make what little sense there is to be had from Full Burst. The main thing to know is that a set of impossibly powerful Ninjas join forces to combat an even more powerful foe. There’s lots of reanimating of the dead, almost-flight-jumping and of course big balls of energy emitting from fists.
As a fighting game Full Burst certainly stands out from the crowd. There aren’t any complicated combos or tricky timings to learn but rather Full Burst makes it incredibly easy to perform moves often reserved for cut-scenes. For instance pressing “triangle” will enable you to use “Ninjutsu”, draining “chakra” – your source of power that functions like a mana bar. Once activated the actions you perform become much more powerful but will use up “chakra”. If you press “triangle” twice and then press “circle” you will perform your character’s “ultimate Jutsu”.
It keeps things simple and allows battles to instead concentrate on being fast paced and exciting at all times. I honestly thought it would get dull without any advanced moves or techniques to learn but the constant back and forth during fights keeps things interesting. It’s actually quite refreshing but those looking for a more “traditional” fighting game experience might be disappointed.
Blocking is rarely much use and often I found staying mobile to be a much more effective fighting technique. Which is great because it lends itself very well to the overall style of the game. However if you press “L2” at the right time when under attack (which for a refreshing change is a window not measured in milliseconds) you will replace yourself with a lump of wood and teleport behind your foe. But you can only do it 4 times and then you have to wait for a bar to refill. Considering it’s the only way to stop an enemies assault it can occasionally be pretty annoying when you’ve run out and just have to take it.
Because of the limited dodges and the simple but awesome looking fight system I had some concerns about how the end of the game would play out. For a majority of the game you feel you’re on equal footing with your foes and as you get more powerful so do they. The fights often don’t get too much more difficult but there is certainly an escalation to everything so that by the end there are at least 2 explosions and 5 teleports every second.
And then it started. Some enemies essentially stand there blocking constantly waiting for you to attack. So your first combo is stuffed and then you both dance around dodging until you run out and in classic style the bosses combo will break yours but yours can’t break his/hers. And a lot of the late game bosses have some range to their attacks meaning you have to advance on them quickly, which is only really achieved using Chakra. So when that runs out you’re more or less completely stuffed.
And then in the last chapter I found that Full Burst stressed me out to breaking point. Enemies have at least twice as much health as you, reach on their melee attacks and no need to actually win. The fights become incredibly unbalanced and stick to that old classic method of creating difficulty – irritating enemies.
This is not the era where we expect a boss to sit there following a set pattern of moves as we bide our time and wait for our chance to attack. But that’s what it boils down to in Full Burst in the last chapter or so. It’s a shame and meant that when I’d finished my whole experience was tarnished. To come so far and then spoil it with a few lousy bosses is such a shame. At one point I had lost too much health in the first section of a boss fight that it made the remaining sections almost impossible and I needed to redo it from square one. Restarting from a checkpoint I had to do 3 or 4 fights before I got back where I was. Luckily I did it the second time but a checkpoint after the first section of a boss fight rather than after it is absolutely ridiculous.
Even on one of the very last bosses new mechanics are introduced with a big pop-up telling you the buttons, letting you play for 30 seconds and then another popping up to tell you some more buttons. Romping around as giant beasts essentially just plays as a slow fight with less abilities at your disposable. It unnecessarily breaks the action because for most, if not all, of the boss fights the standard fighting system would have been just fine and often be much more exciting.
Playing through the main story is quite different from most fighting games. It’s not just a simple set of fights with a boss at the end but instead is very strongly driven by narrative. In fact a playthrough will take about 20-30 hours which is incredibly long for a beat ‘em up. However a vast majority of this time is cut-scenes. I enjoy cut-scenes and often miss games like older Final Fantasy titles where the cut-scene was something to look forward to but they can be overdone. The problem with Full Burst is that a fight might last about 10 minutes but then you might be watching literally 1 to 2 hours of cut-scenes.
On the other hand the cut-scenes look great and after I had at least some idea of who everyone was and what all the words meant they where pretty fun to watch. But the balance between watching and playing is definitely wrong, at some points even becoming boring. After 30 minutes of people repeating the same thing over and over you just want some gameplay.
For a heavily narrative driven fighting game Full Burst is generally very successful although at times it seems to forget it’s a game and gets carried away telling a story. It’s accessible enough for people who don’t know the TV show but I never felt it was simplified or avoided dealing with major plot themes. And there are a massive amount of characters to choose from to. Some are only slightly different from each other but with this many on offer it doesn’t matter. I highly doubt that anyone would be wanting for a bigger roster.
Full Burst adds some great enhanced visuals and an extensive challenge mode for those who want to come back for more. Until the last section of the game I had great fun with Full Burst although the stress the end caused me almost ruined the previous 20 or so hours and reminded me that some games just refuse outright to change with the times. For those who’ve already played the original Ninja Storm 3 and aren’t interested in the challenge mode there isn’t much on offer to bring you back.
Reviewed on PS3. Available on PS3, XBOX 360 and PC.
With games being few and far between at the minute on PS4, it’s a bold and refreshing move to see another free to play game taking up the proverbial slack and filling in the gaps with what could be a solid entry into the third person, coop shooter genre. Suit up, it’s time for Digital Extremes, Warframe.
You play as the ancient warrior race of Tenno, cryogenically awakened to find themselves in an all out war with three other factions, the Grineer, Corpus and the Infected. After being awakened by the mysterious, yet hopefully, helpful Lotus, and completing the notoriously vague tutorial, it’s time to don a Warframe. Whilst your choice of three is not especially important, it is worth noting that you’ll be spending a fair amount of time in it before acquiring another. You also come gratuitously equipped with each of your weapon slots filled, a primary, a secondary and a melee weapon, each are of the most basic available, but they’ll get the job done for now.
Getting your hands on some of the more advanced weapons either requires spending precious resources for the weapons outright, or hunting, scavenging and getting ruddy lucky to find their blueprints out in the wild. If purchased for premium currency, you will be able to immediately take control of the weapon, if you find the blueprint (or buy it using non-premium currency) then you’ll have to take a trip to the foundry. Acting as a factory, it let’s you build your discovered recipes, for a price. To complete each blueprint requires specific, often rare, materials that must be farmed as well as a hefty (non premium) fee and 12 hours to complete.
In fact, it’s a long time before you acquire anything at all. Pushing past the first few hours can feel futile and frustrating at times, but sticking with it can pay it’s own rewards. The first few missions ease you in gently with objectives that are simple to perform, even on your own, yet soon step up in difficulty to a point where either playing stealthily or in a party is a must for success. Fortunately, Warframe supports coop play for up to four people, with each mission showing a counter of how many people are currently playing. The default settings allow automatic joining with other people in a lobby (thankfully, up to a user determined ping limit), letting you team up against the relentless horde, matchmaking will also allow mid game joining so it’s not the end of the world if you bite off more than you can chew in a solo game, someone might come and help.
Gunplay is similar in style to the Mass Effect franchise with it’s classic over the shoulder shooting along with the obligatory powers as accompaniments. Each of the 17 individual Warframes have their own powers, health and armour values, movement speed and appearance. On top of that, a myriad of weapons can drastically alter your play style. The primary slot can be filled with anything from assault rifles, shotguns and snipers, whereas your trusty secondary is a pistol of various potential forms. The melee slot, at first, didn’t seem all to important as my damage was nicely low enough that I could easily get overwhelmed by the most basic of enemies, whereas team mates were slicing and dicing at pace. It was not until this point I had noticed in the fray of limbs and relentless action that they were equipped with different Warframes, vastly more suited to tanking damage.
Fortunately, everything you equip can also level up, simply by using it, or by being near a homicidal squadmate who’s dealing out some kills. Levelling up your equipment is hugely beneficial, not only do you deal more damage, but also open up more slots in the respective Warframe/weapon to equip modifiers. Items have their number of slots available determined by their corresponding level, basically, the higher the better. Modifications have different values and can range from anything from a higher fire rate to more puncture damage. These would be enough on their own, yet if you own more than one of the same, instead of selling it for a paltry return, you can combine them for a more powerful result. For example, if I had two mods each granting an extra 40% health at a cost of 3 slots each, I could combine them to create one mod which grants 80% extra health at a cost of 4 slots. This can be repeated, but you will need more mods to combine, the higher the level. Not always easy when they are a random loot drop!
Another, possibly greater benefit of levelling your guns and armour is to level up your affinity, this incredibly slow moving bar only moves when you level some of your equipment up, meaning that if your equipment is maxed out (level 30) then you essentially won’t be getting any more experience to your main level. Although being a great incentive to try out new weapons and Warframes, the game does not make this obvious in any way. In fact it seems to go out of it’s way to make you Google the required information on pretty much everything.
With all of the different types of game mode to play and nearly 300 missions to partake in, level design could have gotten stale rather quickly if not for the procedurally generated nature of the missions. Each planet, of our solar system, houses around seven or more missions, each with their own visual style and faction. The first planet houses dark, dank corridors with no sunlight or outdoor areas, whereas later planets offer glorious snowy vistas, with huge scope for exploration. Generally traversing the maps themselves are a joy, you can sprint, roll, slide, wall jump, and dive through the air whilst spraying an assault rifle pretending to be from any 90’s action film of your choice if it’ll help get you to the next waypoint, or maybe just because it’s fun!
All in all, there’s no limit of things to say about Warframe, it is an incredibly content rich game and once you get past the first few hours and see the light at the end of the corridor, it starts to open up. Cross platform play with the PC has been hinted at in the future, along with more content too, almost ensuring a long life cycle on the PS4. Pretty much everything can be gotten for free if you’re not only willing to put in the time and effort, but to also embrace the grind.
Reviewed on PS4, also available on PC.
Have you ever wanted to upload your photographs from your camera to your smartphone or tablet as you take them but your camera doesn’t have that facility? With the Mobi SD card from Eye-Fi you can do that just, and here is our review.
Eye-Fi Mobi automatically transfers your photos and videos from your camera to your smartphone or tablet, no matter where you are. That’s because Mobi creates its own WiFi network. You take the pictures then watch them appear on your mobile device to enjoy and share, instantly.
Who are Eye-Fi?
Eye-Fi is dedicated to building products and services that help consumers manage, nurture and share their digital memories. Eye-Fi’s patented and patent-pending technology wirelessly and automatically uploads photos and videos from digital cameras and smartphones to online, in-home and retail destinations. Eye-Fi has helped people wirelessly upload more than 500 million photos since being founded in 2005.
Setup simply and instantly: Mobi has the simplest Eye-Fi card setup yet – no computer, no account and no cloud. Just download the free Eye-Fi app for iOS or Android, enter the Mobi card’s unique 10-digit code, and the mobile device is paired. Use the same code to pair as many mobile devices as needed.
Share real-time: High-resolution photos and videos instantly transfer from camera to a device’s photo roll/gallery. From there, edit and share with favorite apps.
Transfer anywhere: Built-in WiFi means no WiFi network, hotspot or internet connection needed for pairing or transfer; Mobi literally moves photos from camera to devices anywhere, whenever new content is detected.
Works with the devices users already own (and love): Mobi works with thousands of cameras.
Eye-Fi Connected: Many manufacturers have integrated the software support for the Eye-Fi technology into their camera’s.
Free Eye-Fi App: for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, including the Kindle Fire.
Backup automatically: Photos and videos transfer as they’re taken, so if anything happens to the camera, content is already safe on the mobile device.
Achieve lightning fast quality: Mobi reinforces Eye-Fi’s commitment to provide exceptional performance in SD memory – HD video, low light and fast action shots are easily captured with this high-performance card.
What’s in the Box?
The packaging contains the SD card only.
Now that Christmas and the New Year are out of the way, many of us put getting fit at the top of our New Years resolutions. One piece of tech to help you to achieve that is the new NIke+ Fuelband SE, and here is our review.
The new Nike+ FuelBand SE is the smart, simple and fun way to get more active.
- Earns NikeFuel, a universal way to measure movement for all kinds of activities
- Tracks the intensity of your workouts and enables sleep tracking with Nike+ Sessions
- Counts steps and tells time
- Displays your progress in real time
- Keeps you and your friends motivated through Nike+ Groups
What’s New with the SE
- Bluetooth 4.0 technology allows you to stay constantly connected to your phone, receiving feedback and motivation as you need it.
- Win the Hour: Receive Move reminders that give you an extra push to get you moving every hour.
- Nike+ Sessions: Keep track of the intensity of your workouts through NikeFuel so you can understand what activities earn you the most.
- Nike+ Groups: Opens up more ways to connect with your friends so you can keep each other going.
What’s in the Box?
The box contains the Fuelband SE (with an 8mm link attached), a 16mm link, a sizing tool, USB cable, quick start guide and warranty documentation.
A Closer Look
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