Review

Devastation, the second DLC pack for Call of Duty Ghosts adds four new multiplayer maps, another episode in the Extinction saga and an all new, dual-purpose weapon, the Ripper. Can Infinity Ward build upon the success of their previous pack by listening to the fans and catering for their requests?

Ruins is up first, an old Mayan temple that plays host to some of the better domination games due to its triangular base. As per usual in Ghosts, flank routes are commonplace; Ruins is no exception. Narrow catacombs slither under and around the map offering SMG’s and shotguns their roles, whilst an open centre lets assault rifles open up. Roam for too long however and it’s ironically safe to say that you’ll eventually be picked off by a sniper from the central overlook. With the map adorned by old, ancient Mayan structures and littered with plenty of greenery, you’ll find the Ghillie suit more of an issue than ever. As far as unique strike packages go, Ruins offers up something interesting too, with the fabled Predator making a stealthy appearance. Should you complete a field order and be fortunate enough to air drop a predator suit, you can utilise his shimmering invisibility, his wrist blades and of course the gloriously satisfying plasma cannon (which fortunately has a recharge delay). On top of this, even when killed, the fun doesn’t stop for the lucky player as the predator will drop to the floor and essentially unleash a K.E.M. strike onto the opposing team.

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(Ghillie) Suit up

Behemoth harks back to the old styles in more than one way. Not only is there a field order for a ‘heli gunner’ that plays out almost exactly like the chopper gunner from Black Ops fame. The map also more closely resembles a three lane style affair opposed to the ‘all out chaos’ category approach most of the original maps seem to follow. Set upon an enormous earth excavator, Behemoth is a medium sized map with opportunities for some reasonable firefights down long corridors, so long as you beware the inevitably prone enemies. Despite the seemingly simplistic layout of the map, there are less travelled routes that serve as flank options if you’re against a particularly trapping team. Falling off the map to your death is remarkably easier done than said, especially whilst in those strafe battles that get a little out of hand. Despite it being a darker than usual map, the lack of tedious camping spots around corners helps keep the pace up too. A central viewing area gives those pesky snipers a mediocre view of either side of the map, but also seems to bestow a shocking amount of tunnel vision too, helping you get the humiliating drop on your unaware foes.

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Someone seems to be overcompensating for something…

Collision takes its name from the enormous container ship which has found itself lodged into the Brooklyn Bridge, and plays home to aggressive styles of play. Those who favour SMG’s will enjoy the tight corners and relatively shallow lines of sight, whereas snipers will savour the higher grounds that overlook the centre of the map. Domination games in particular rely upon map control with the B flag being placed smack in the middle of what can only be described as a kill box; wrestling the centre of the map back from the opposition can be difficult if you’ve not got a coordinated team. Again, a specialised Field Order reward can also be earned on this map; if successful, you get to control two strafe runs in the infamous A-10 Warthog. Whilst not particularly great for racking up kills, it of course makes up for it with ‘that sound’.

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Strafing Warthog sadly not pictured

Unearthed is the final multiplayer map in the Devastation package and as is becoming tradition, it features a remake of a fan favourite map from the series. Those who’ve been with the series for the past few years will recognise Unearthed as a reimagining of Dome from MW3, a small fast paced map that requires your head to be on a swivel. The familiarity of Dome remains but due to the upgraded visuals and alternate aesthetics, Unearthed does come across with a fresh feel. Despite the feeling of familiarity, there are several additions to convince you otherwise. Along with a moveable crane, giving you a vulnerable 360 degree view of the map, there’s also the maligned Venom-X weapon, ripped straight from the Extinction mode and available once per game via some carefully placed explosives… Keeping in theme with Extinction, the unique field order for this map involves three loveable Seekers that will hunt down the enemy and explode upon close proximity.

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A dome shaped remake

The Ripper, one of the larger draws to new content for me and others, is the new hybrid weapon available with this pack. Operable as either an SMG or Assault Rifle and swappable on the fly, it can not only suit most gunfight scenarios, but also opens up more flexibility with perk selections. Due to its high manoeuvrability and tighter hip-fire spread than most assault rifles, players can save points on ‘speed perks’ and put them to better use elsewhere. Whilst both the SMG and AR modes won’t surpass the Vector or the Remmington R5 in their respective classes, the extra functionality can often make up for any statistical weaknesses, provided you can keep the right mode available for the correct situation.

Mayday concludes the package with the next episode of Extinction, Ghosts’s answer to Zombies. Continuing on from the Nightfall epilogue, Mayday sees you boarding a Chinese ship in an attempt to rescue and extract a foreign double agent. Standing in the way of course is the very real threat of the Kraken. Combining huge bosses with the newly implemented crafting and new weapons gives a great incentive to jump into the horde. To greet you, the Seeders make their first appearance too; if you didn’t get on well with the Scorpions, you’re not going to like these either. On top of expelling a toxic gas, they can also spit out turret pods to ruin your day. Either way, Mayday gratefully expands on itself, offering more content with each episode; if you fancy a little coop and are into the story, it’s a great way to spend a few hours.

As an overall package, the Devastation set offers a great set of maps that appear to have been tailored for the fans requests. A balanced and unique hybrid weapon plus more Extinction content helps too. If you’re on the fence, this is categorically one of the better Call of Duty DLC packs; if you fancy some new content for Ghosts, there’s no better place to look.

Sacred 3 is aimed directly at your mindless horde killing, loot collecting, levelling up craving. But with any game that scratches those particular itches there has to be something to keep us coming back. In Diablo III it was a good looting system plus plenty of levels and abilities to unlock and customize a character with. So which part of Sacred keeps us coming back for more many hours into the game?

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After a brief introductory cutscene it becomes abundantly obvious that it’s not going to be the graphics. Environments are defiantly passable but it’s unlikely you’ll ever stop and take a look around for longer than you need to. Unfortunately the same can be said for the character models too. Both your avatar and your hordes of foes are jagged and the whole thing just looks low res. And even then the frame rate isn’t exactly smooth. The particle effects from execution moves and some of the specials look nice but they intentionally take up most of the screen which can lead to some infuriating moments when you can’t see anything at all behind the effects. It’s particularly bad when you acquire a new weapon or upgrade as on occasion once you return to the action you’ll find that you’ve been beaten for the last 10 seconds by something you couldn’t see.

So if not the visuals the core fighting mechanic then. Which certainly has its entertainment value. At the start it’s likely you will be using the simple attack button a lot. There’s a dodge which allows you to roll out of harms way, which can later be replaced by a block if you choose, and a stun move to handle shielded enemies and knock others back. There’s a simple methodical nature to the combat. This enemy is defeated with that move and that one with this move all the while frantically bashing away at ‘x’ in between.

Which is fine for a couple of hours. But then it starts to lose some of its appeal. There are a few abilities for each of the four characters which can be upgraded as your level increases. And the upgrades make a significant difference but I never really got the feeling I wanted (or needed) any of them. Despite my increasing boredom endlessly pressing ‘x’ I never felt that my special ‘combat arts’ would help or were even necessary. This wasn’t helped by their limited use. Even though you pick up orbs that refill your energy more than enough I tended to ‘save’ my moves for something that needed them. And that never really happened. And when you do finally unleash a combat art you’re greeted by a move that does little damage above your standard attack and is usually more difficult to hit with. Back to pressing ‘x’ then.

Another problem is that the enemies rarely offer you much of a challenge. Shielded enemies require you to press ‘square’ to stun then and break their defence so you can kill them before they even get a hit. Standard enemies just require you to hit them mindlessly until they die. Any attempts at more advanced combat would require a much more responsive control system. And that’s not the only reason the controls need to be more responsive.

One enemy spins at you blades extended like a weaponized Crash Bandicoot. The only way to stop him is to, again, stun him. Except aiming your character is quite rigid and as your foe bulldozes his way towards you as you struggle to turn and perform your attack in the right direction you find it easier to head straight in, tank a little damage, and stun him to open him up for attack and an inevitable death. So the only challenge I ever really felt was when the controls were stiff or unresponsive. On its own this wouldn’t be such a problem but as Sacred has enemies that ideally require you to be precise and quick it feels like the game is working against you.

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Periodically you will collect some loot in the shape of weapons, armour and souls that can be assigned to weapons to grant different benefits. All of them can be upgraded with gold collected on your travels and again the upgrades feel significant. Except, this time it’s far more important as your weapon effects the all important basic attack. Different weapons have different sets of upgrades and there really is plenty to unlock. On top of that you can equip a soul that adds additional effects. For example you can have a chance to fire a lightning bolt to cause extra damage to enemies. Or you might increase the potency of health orbs for the team, but reduce their effect on you. They’re well balanced and often require some thought as different souls will work better with different equipment.

The soul will also talk to you during a mission and on occasion they even contribute to the conversations between the main characters. They also make general comments during combat but it’s particularly nice that they have relevant things to contribute. Some of them are completely over the top characters, others are cynical and sarcastic but they all work with the humour of Sacred. And it is actually funny. The humour is understated which stops it becoming embarrassing. And then on occasion a brash character will chip in like a cross between Stan from American Dad and Buzz Lightyear. It won’t leave you in hysterics but because of that it never becomes brazen and embarrassing.

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Sacred 3 is a fun romp for those wishing to satisfy the need Diablo III fills. It’s not particularly good looking but it gets the job done, although I would’ve liked a smoother frame rate. What I felt lets down Sacred is the repetitive gameplay. Without much loot killing enemies can only keep you entertained for so long particularly as your special abilities are so underwhelming. The upgrades feel meaningful but with only two equip-able ‘combat arts’, that often don’t help at all, everything begins to feel a bit futile.

Playing with friends helps alleviate some of the potential tedium but not enough to keep Sacred interesting down the road. Sacred 3 is good fun for a short play but the replay value is almost nonexistent, especially compared with games like Diablo III. With a bigger roster of abilities and character upgrades Sacred 3 might be great but as it stands it’s decidedly average to play.

 


I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing Sonic Jump Fever. Enthusiastically, I bounded at the opportunity and said I’d love to. Always happy to give Sonic a shot, even with past discrepancies. Personally, I found Generations and Lost World pretty entertaining, for what they were. SEGA were finally turning things around for Sonic, and perhaps wanted to do the same for mobile devices.

Oh, but no. It didn’t take long to dawn on me this could not be a mere written review. This experience was going to need full documentation. So, without further ado, I give you the live and uncut first hour I spent with Sonic Jump Fever; SEGA’s latest free-to-play Sonic game on iOS:

Here we see the jumping off point of booting up the game – and yes, despite looking like a Las Vegas slot machine has thrown up on your iPhone, the first screenshot really is the “main menu”.

You can upgrade your character’s power up abilities, or add boosters to gain more rings, more points, or better bonus opportunities. Everything is looking peachy so far, if a little standard.


This is the “standard” timeline of a level in Sonic Jump Fever: Your character jumps automatically, and the goal of the entire game is to jump as high as you can before the time runs out. There’s also an option to double jump if you tap the screen while in the air.

Once in a while you’ll get a mega leap where you’re flung upwards Dragonball Z style to try and tilt your way to grab more coins. When you finally reach the end of the level/time limit you’ll hop into a hot air balloon and throw little animals up into the basket. Every time you miss an anonymous crowd will boo at your failure to rescue the cute little buggers.


You’re given a score for your ability to hold your phone in an upright position for 60 seconds, and now the real fun begins…

WELCOME TO THE ADVERTS! Now, before I get assaulted by all the Sonic fans, I’m aware that a free-to-play game is likely to have some adverts to subsidise the lack of upfront cost. These adverts at the end of completing a level, and a quick pop-up to let you know you can pay for boosters if you want, is reasonable. However, you haven’t seen anything yet.


Don’t worry if you felt £1.49 wasn’t a good enough bargain, because there are Red Star packs of all kinds available. Going all the way to a £69.99 value! That’s not just value, that’s “BEST VALUE!”.

Sonic Jump Fever understands, should you decide to pay £69.99 for Red Stars, that videogames can still be rather addictive at times. This is why there is an Energy Bar that only allows you to play your game so many times before having to pay more money, or leave your phone alone to go outside and do something equally trivial until it recharges.

After waiting, or paying for some of those Red Stars, you can leap right back into the action of… bouncing up to the top of the screen.


Seems I have discovered a Chao. This randomly popped up out of nowhere after I completed a level run.

Only get one free though, I tried to look for another one but it was asking me to pay Rings – because of course.


Oh! It did turn out to be useful. Seems this particular Chao makes more platforms appear from another dimension for me to spring from. I’ll admit it’s a partially useful… power up, I guess? Doesn’t really change the gameplay at all though.

Plus some more adverts. Lots of more adverts, even got an unskippable video this time! The roller-coaster fun ride of Sonic Jump Fever is really heating up now.


Thank you, SEGA! Refilling my Energy Bar for free meant I got (/had) to keep playing this session.

There’s also a daily spin function (because of course there is) which largely gives you utterly pointless items, at least in my experience. The screenshot above was my first win, and the subsequent three wins following it. Maybe I’m merely extremely lucky, but it felt like being trapped in a perpetual loop of winning £1 on a £1 scratchcard.


Figured out the tiny little video-clip symbol means you can watch an advert to earn stuff. Like more spins. So I got to watch another advert. To earn another spin. To potentially win more spins.

Yes, I’m aware by this point you’re probably bored out of your skull – image how I feel.


WHOA! WAIT! HOLD THE PHONE!… Am… Am I playing the same level over and over again?!

I’m no idiot, I noticed the jungle style was on every level play through, but the layouts are near identical! It’s the same god damn pattern. Play the one level, win around 100 coins, see another god damn bloody advert, and do it all again until your energy runs out. The pattern never changes.


Got a new highscore. Nothing is achieved from this, aside from a leaderboard with nobody. Felt it was worth mentioning because it’s honestly the most exciting thing that’s happened in the last 10 minutes.

Had a thought. The Energy Bar has a video-clip symbol. Does this mean I can sit here watching adverts to earn more energy to play the game for longer? Then watch more adverts?


YES! YES IT DOES! Oh joy of joys.


More adverts. More highscores as I’ve damn near memorised this level now. Even more adverts…


Oh my glob… Did… Did I unlock Sonic?! FINALLY! Everybody take note, rejoice in the streets, because after nearly 40 minutes of playing SONIC JUMP FEVER I have been able to find SONIC in this SONIC game.


It was all totally worth the effort. The repetitive levels, the boosters, the adverts, now I get to… play the same level again but with a Sonic-skinned character? REALLY?! Oh for the love of all that is unholy.

And no, Sonic Jump Fever, I will not rate your greedy, advert-ridden game right now because you’re hoping that I’m still riding that Sonic high. Nor will I pay £2.49 to play the same pissing boring level 6 more times. Seriously, £2.49 to refill an energy meter? Who buys these things? Who gives money to acts this shameless?


Up to Level 6 now, profile-wise. Keep running low on Rings though, because they keep limiting my Energy Bar and I can only gain around 8-100 RIngs per run. Guess I’m watching some more adverts to get the 100 Ring bonus on the “main menu”. Wonder if I can do this indefinitely…


… So far so good…


… It concerns me this appears to still be working…


… I’m earning more Rings sitting here watching this craptastic adverts than I was playing the game. Faster too, because this process doesn’t involve depleting a sodding Energy Bar – and then watching adverts to refill thee Energy Bar.


… Okay, I’m stopping here. Been sat watching these tedious videos for nearly 5 minutes now. On the plus side, now have a very upgraded Tails. Time for some more gameplay!


Holy shit, everybody. Free baby dragons. Want one. I would name them ChiliBreath.


It’s getting to the point where the adverts in between levels are making other games seem more appealing than the one I’m currently playing.

I need to state, by the way: These screenshots are all taken separately. When you see a screenshot of my chosen character standing waiting for the level to begin, or an advert, they’re all taken at different times. It just happens to be the same damn thing every time.


CoinDozer?! You’re losing me here, Sonic Jump Fever. These adverts are starting to get far less appealing.

At this point I’m reviewing the adverts as much as I am the game itself, because they get as much screen time.


DinoHunter sounds pretty fun. I was actually Tweeting about wanting a dinosaur hunting game quite recently.

This was the highest highscore I’ve been able to grab too. No idea how. Helped to level me up to Level 7 though. Sure do hope Level 7 gameplay improves the title. We can ride this wave all night then. We’ll be able to keep this live coverage all the way until we complete the entire game – together!


… I quit.

Once again I find myself sitting in front of a new Magic game. As a Magic The Gathering card player I have a soft spot for the game. I love the artwork and complexity of the game but these days I struggle to find an opponent to spa with. So the video games are my way of getting my Magic fix, or at least in theory. So far I have been rather disappointed by the series but still get excited every time to see if they’ve got it right.

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Rather than creating your own deck or being forced to use a single deck the first thing you will do in Magic 2015 is choose your colours, and therefore your deck. I’ve always been a fan of white so that was my first choice but then for some reason you are required to pick another colour. Not such a problem as I don’t mind a White/Blue mixed deck but for some reason you have to use a mixed colour deck.

So with my White/Blue deck I proceeded to work through the tutorial. It does a very good job of teaching you everything there is to know and lucky for those who know the game, either from previous video games or the card game, can skip it. Oh rejoice! I don’t have to spend an hour learning how to play a game I already know very well. If you skip you go straight to your first duel which you must first pass in order to proceed. You can also reselect your deck colours so it functions well as a testing duel to make sure you’ve got the right deck for you.

As ever with Magic it’s a tough fight. Especially as you have no options to edit your deck at this point. It can be slightly frustrating as Magic is so heavily reliant on deck building and you’re left against a superior deck with very few options but to retry and strive on.

But as you fight and defeat opponents you earn booster packs with cards to improve your deck. It’s a simple but effective reward system that ensures you deck keeps improving. One of the biggest problems I’ve had with previous Magic games is the lack of new cards to keep altering your deck with. It seems easy to give you a way to grind out for cards and improve you deck but for some reason the Magic games always seem to resist it.

When you get past the tutorial to the main campaign map you will have a series of Planeswalkers to duel with. Each time you defeat one you unlock another until you finish the zone and move onto the next. But Magic 2015 provides you with a repeatable area for each zone that you can grind out to acquire more cards. There’s a small selection of enemies you may fight but you can keep coming back, getting more booster packs and ultimately improving your deck to take on the real threats. This does make Magic 2015 quite ‘grindy’ but I like that.

It also means that eventually you can craft yourself a single colour deck if that’s what you want. I don’t really understand the focus on mixed decks. Sure they’re good but I don’t really want a mixed deck as I always find single colours more effective. I wonder if the game knows this and makes you wait but either way after a couple of hours you’ll have a decent handful of cards to properly make your deck with. The selection of cards is reasonable and there’s just enough to keep you altering and shifting your deck to take down your often superiorly equipped opponents.

But even though the card selection is enough to craft a reasonably potent deck the overall selection is disappointing. Mainly because you’ll need to pay to access some cards. They’re not attainable in game at all. And while you don’t need them it makes online play a tricky concept. If you pay you’ll have a better chance to win. That’s called pay to win. Also for some reason certain cards that your single player opponents use are not attainable either, regardless of if you pay or not.

There’s also not much in the way of game modes either. I usually play the core game single player anyway so it wasn’t too much of a problem but those who enjoyed the challenge modes will be disappointed. Even though I didn’t play them much I still enjoyed them every now and again and the option would be nice. Especially the clever puzzle style modes.

It’s impossible to finish this review without pointing out how irritating the menu is. It’s 100% focused on mobile platforms and it’s obvious. I fumbled around for ages before I understood how to properly use it and the transition animation every time you select something is just plain annoying. If I click something I want a response as quick as possible, not a fancy animation.

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I enjoy the grind. I enjoy the single player. But the pay wall is just unnecessary, even though it wouldn’t cost you that much to acquire all the cards, it’s not what the game should be about. I don’t understand why the game modes are missing. I can’t think of a single reason to remove something that people enjoyed. And while the single player is great I want more cards. Why aren’t there more? WHY?! There’s a lot of different cards in Magic and the relatively small selection in Magic 2015 seems arbitrary. I haven’t collected new cards in years but I probably own more actual cards than are in this game.

However, I am really enjoying Magic 2015 and will be playing it long after this review. But I’d rather pay more for the game and have access to all the cards, even if I’d have to grind out for hours to get one. Those who enjoyed the other game modes will be disappointed with Magic 2015. Some of the negative reviews out there are, I think, overly harsh but it really depends what you want out of Magic. I wasn’t a fan of 2014 and actually prefer this one, despite its flaws. Either way, yet again, so close yet so far.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition finally makes its debut, wrestling pretty much every platform it can get its hands on. This new edition features all of the original DLC, plus some extras thrown in for good Luchadore measure. Is a case of selling the same game twice? Or have Drinkbox Studios created a package that’s worth revisiting?

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This is actually fairly sedate as far as some of the fights go

Due to it being a collection, albeit with some tweaks here and there, the gameplay and storyline largely play out similarly to the standalone title released in 2013. You control Juan Aguacate, an unassuming farmer who’s hopelessly in love with ‘El Presidente’s’ daughter; needless to say, when the evil Carlos Calaca attempts to lay waste to the small, humble village, our hero has no choice but to try and put a stop to it. Unfortunately, Juan is but a simple farm hand and is inevitably no match for Calaca, who subsequently pokes him to death. All is not lost however, despite the love of your life being kidnapped for use as a sacrificial lamb, and you residing in the land of the dead, it could be worse.

Luckily for us, Tostada, yet another mysterious luchador, turns up and swings fate around for us with a dashingly magical mask. Once donned, Juan becomes more than just his namesake; subsequently turning into a luchador capable of many great things. As is the style in these types of games however, Juan can’t do everything straight off the bat, in the classic Metroid way, you’ll find areas that are currently inaccessible, puzzle rooms that require more than the standard jumping ability and more coloured destructible blocks than a Lego game.

Along with puzzle hunting, the moves you’ll learn help greatly in combat too. Aside from punches, grapples and throws, you’ll have access to moves that can quickly and dutifully dispatch enemies in one well thought out string. Despite there being relatively few moves at a glance, experimentation is key; regularly employing the dodge command on top of uppercuts, juggles and throws in hectic battles can lead to some spectacular combo counts. Whilst it may not contain the sort of command list you might find in a Tekken title or indeed require the deft timings of a pro Street Fighter duel, the combat still remains to be a clever blend of the two. It rewards complexity, timing and by the end of the game, a full understanding of enemy behaviours, attacks and required techniques.

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In chess, the pawns go first

If there’s one thing Guacamelee does right (admittedly amongst the many other things) it’s the constant feeling of progression. Whether you’re storming through the main plot, dabbling in the many sidequests on offer, hunting down those fiendishly elusive secrets or attempting to achieve gold medals in the Inferno rooms. Everything you do seems to reward you with either XP of which you can spend on upgrading the damage of certain moves and gaining extra health and stamina, or money which you can use to purchase new outfits. More than a simple cosmetic change, the costumes can also bestow helpful effects too. Fancy constant (but slowly) regenerating health at the expense of less stamina? Just slip into the chicken outfit. How about a dashing suit with the bonus of life steal upon hitting enemies? There are many outfits, all with a bonus effect that’s countered by a wince inducing negative, find what works for you however; you’ll feel even more powerful.

If you feel as though the enemies aren’t taking enough of a pounding, there’s always the ‘Intesno’ power. Charging in the usual means by achieving combos and activated by pressing L3+R3, it gives you greater health regeneration and makes your moves and specials more powerful for a limited time. However, as per usual with activated powers such as this, they’re often unnecessary and; aside from some sections on hard mode, all of the fights can easily be won by paying attention to the enemies.

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Yep, you can still turn into a chicken!

As far as the length goes, Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition almost makes up for the length of its title. Focusing on the story missions will get you to the credits in around 6 hours, but sinking some time in to acquire all the collectibles, complete the Inferno challenges and resolve the side missions will roughly take twice as long. Unfortunately there’s no real replay value due to you already knowing the best ways to defeat all the enemies and also having previously discovered where all the secrets are.

Something special that might keep you coming back however, are the gorgeously unique visuals. Inspired by classic Mexican lore, the enemies, bosses and combat all ooze original mythos and really add to the overall art styling. The music will also twang in that form too, offering subtle musings whilst wandering the villages and towns.

With relatively little changed between the original offering and the ‘Super’ edition, it’s both easy and difficult to recommend the new and improved Guacamelee. For those who’ve not experienced the pleasure of Juan and his lucha-lore tale, it’s quite simply one of those games you must play. For those who’ve previously beat the original into submission, I’m not convinced there’s enough to warrant a second round. Having said that, if you’ve been hankering after another playthrough of Drinkbox’s instant classic, there’s no better place to jump back in.

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I’m a huge sucker for action, adventure films with a bit of comedy thrown in, some whit and a decent selection of cast members. When I heard that Hercules was coming to cinemas staring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson I wasn’t too sure I’d even get a couple of these points from this film. In fact, I wasn’t expecting anything big to come from this movie, apart from Johnson’s ever growing muscles of course, and from the advertisements I gathered this film would be cliché and unoriginal. Let this be a lesson to everyone, especially myself, not to ever judge a book by its cover, or in this case a film by its poster.

Hercules is a film that questions who the legend actually is which includes his band of heroes that follows and fights with him. Most tales about this demi-god is usually about the son of Zeus fighting mythical creatures with his great strength. This film is more about Hercules inspiring and leading great wars against fearless armies. His crew is made up of various fighters, an archer, a wild mute beast like brawler, a prophet gifted with seeing the future and even Hercules’ nephew who isn’t much of a fighter but tells the stories of his uncle’s mythologies.

Haunted by nightmare of his family’s death Hercules becomes the fearless hero that strives to do what’s right so that the innocent wouldn’t be hurt no more. But when he and his team are offered a chance to working for a bigger bounty than normal the blurred lines between working as mercenaries and keeping a good morality gets them into trouble. The film is built up of epic scaled battles that doesn’t skimp on the over the top action that is pretty blood thirsty. I’ve been let down in the past with similar films of such genre with the directors not thinking it’s necessary to show the details of war from start to finish. It’s great to see in Hercules the anticipation before war leading to the initiation, then the waves of combat right before the victory.

I was impressed to see a few British actors in the film including Ian McShane who provided most of the whit and several hilarious moments as well as John Hurt playing a Lord which he did a fantastic job with. Dwayne Johnson has always continued to impress me with his on screen persona. He knows what works to be a believable actor and playing the mighty Hercules fits better than any glove. Director Brett Ratner, known for X-Men: The Last Stand and the Rush Hour films did an incredible job with this film especially as the story is a different approach to the legend.

I’d be recommending this film as I feel that the trailer and adverts doesn’t do the film any justice. Seeing a story about a legend through the eyes of a different director, taking a different approach to the mythology and tying it together in a brutal bow made from swords, arrows and the beheaded heads of mythical creatures, Hercules is one to watch. If you’re a fan of Dwayne Johnson, Greek mythology, Hercules or even just fancy a tongue in cheek film with a bit of brutality here and there then this is a film for you.

Here is the trailer:

This is going to be a difficult review. Blue Estate is an on the rails shooter based on the graphic novels of the same name. As with any rail shooter your character will be guided automatically from area to area as you blast away countless enemies. Back in the old days that would probably be done with a Light Gun. In Blue Estate it’s done with the PS4’s Sixaxis. There are several slight problems that sour Blue Estate’s otherwise mediocre gameplay.

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We’ve seen quite a few implementations of the Sixaxis over the last generation and more often than not it was merely an afterthought that was forced into a game somewhere. On the rare occasion it was used more fully however I never actually felt that the Sixaxis tech let me down. Regardless of the fact I would probably just rather not use it, the Sixaxis is quite a capable bit of tech.

Well in Blue Estate it just simply doesn’t work well enough. I can’t help but feel the problems lie in Blue Estate’s design but whatever the cause it doesn’t matter. When me and Sam from here at Connected Digital World ventured out into the first level in co-op the sight that unfolded was, I imagine, both ludicrous and hilarious. Over time your cursor will become completely out of sync with your pad to the point were you’re having to figure out which direction is now up, down, left or right. I ended up with my pad completely backwards and Sam with his upside down.

Truth be told we eventually found the centre button (up on d-pad or ‘L1’) which returns your crosshair to relative normality so you can carry on blasting your targets. At the absolute centre of this game is your ability to aim at targets. In fact it’s all you do because it’s a rail shooter. Having to constantly wait and get shot at repeatedly while you find your cursor is just ridiculous. I curse anybody that actually saw how this game works and thought it was OK. After another go we both quickly got intensely sick of having to fix the game for the developer as we played and quit in frustration. I pushed on with solo to get this review done but that is the only reason I had to play Blue Estate.

You will be bombarded with constant humour and stereotypes that we could all live without. It’s not particularly clever and at times it’s just patronizing. For instance Blue Estate seems to think that women are strippers. End of story. I’ve got nothing against ‘exotic dancers’ but the tasteless assumption that all women are just sex objects is not good or wanted in any way. The jokes are something that even a 10 year old would cringe at. It’s not charming at all, although it seems to think it is for some reason, and it certainly isn’t clever.

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Blue Estate is just a mess. Rail shooters aren’t exactly the most inspiring platform to begin with but when that platform is entirely comprised of jokes that range from bad to almost offensive even a 20 year old arcade game would look appealing. On top of that the gameplay isn’t even entertaining. The auto aim is seriously strong and it seems it needs to be just so the game functions at all. But I’ve never seen the Sixaxis perform so poorly and I can’t escape the feeling it’s Blue Estate at fault. You spend just as much time having to centre your crosshair as you do shooting. This is a game to avoid at all costs. I couldn’t recommend it to anyone under any circumstance.

Once upon a time skating games were all about button pressing and just a little timing. Then it all became about intuitive controls and feeling more connected with your avatar rather than just controlling a rolling combo machine. Well OlliOlli takes us back to a simpler time, or so it seems. And it does it with style.

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After a warning that the game was made to be played with a pad, a little odd if playing on a PC, you get to have a go and learn the basics. Although this warning is worth heeding because if you do use a keyboard (as I did for a while) you will essentially be mimicking a thumbstick using the WASD keys. As you can imagine that doesn’t really transfer very well.

After performing you’re trick of choice you will need to press either ‘A’, ‘X’ or the down arrow to land properly. The closer to the ground you are when you press land the higher the combo will be for the trick(s) you just performed. Miss it and your 2D friend will be put off balance and you will score next to nothing.

You don’t fall off with a ‘sloppy’ landing but it’s often difficult to recover from a bad landing as it takes you a huge amount of time to get back on your board correctly. Before you know it there’s a small drop that, due to your unbalanced state, leads to a face grind. Or it will become apparent that you no longer have the space to perform the next jump. Landing correctly is important and one wrong landing could end your run early. Get used to failure.

There’s a satisfying simplicity to OlliOlli that relies more on timing than remembering overly complicated button combos. The other trick to mastering a level comes from remembering the area’s layout. It’s a lot like a much less punishing Impossible Game. Except my score actually improved after each failure. Learning a level also means you’ll be doing less sloppy landings and getting that score up while making sure you don’t end up leaving your skin all over the concrete.

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The levels are well designed and intricate. There’s always loads to see and grind on or jump over and loads of opportunities to horrendously smash your body all over the place. The pace is quick enough to create a challenge but I never started feeling like I was going to have a seizure at any point, again I’m looking at you Impossible Game. The areas are simple and the only real detail is on the objects you’re interested in, which doesn’t lead to impressive graphics but does allow you to play the game.

But that’s not to say that OlliOlli is limited or easy. Soon I was looking to to increase my score and go for some of the higher score objectives within a level. Once you’ve learned a level and feel comfortable completing it successfully there’s still a load of goals to achieve that mainly come from scoring higher. And inevitably to do so you’ll have to get complicated. I hope your pad gymnastics are up to scratch.

You’ll want to be performing more complicated jumps and flips that can all be find in the games move list called the ‘Tricktionary’. They’re not too complicated on their own but quickly rushing through one of the levels, remembering complicated jumps, avoiding hazards, making the most of each grind and landing them all perfectly isn’t easy. And then, in similar style to Skate, you’ll want to be spinning at all times if you really want to get that high score. At this point, and a little before if I’m honest, I struggle. But the point is the potential to improve is there supported by appropriate objectives if you want to push yourself.

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OlliOlli is relatively simple to complete, challenging to improve and practically impossible to perfect (at least for me). And all the time the scoring system rewards you for pushing your limits all be it only with another objective complete. There’s a simple control system that can be used to perform complicated tricks that shares a surprising amount of ground with games like Tony Hawks and Skate. The 2D style isn’t exactly blockbuster stuff but it looks fine and complements the gameplay well. OlliOlli is well worth your time even if it’s only as a ‘time waster’. It’s so easy to just throw it on and enjoy a few levels for 20 minutes. Or you can be sure there’s plenty to do for longer sessions. OllieOllie is just good simple fun.

With storage requirements becoming bigger and bigger all the time, WD have released a new 6 TB drive in their Red NAS range, and here is our review.

~Jeff~Chillifish~Customers~Western Digital UK~EVENTS~2014~WD Red~WDRed_CoverOn_FrontHigh_WD60EFRX_HiRes

WD Red hard drives also feature 3D Active Balance Plus, an enhanced balance control technology, which significantly improves overall drive performance and reliability. Exclusive for WD Red customers, WD offers free premium 24×7 dedicated support. By increasing NASware 3.0 capability, the WD Red 1–6 TB capacity drives are capable of supporting up to eight bays NAS systems with no negative impact to performance. The drives have a 3.5 Inch, 1.2TB / Disk; 5-Platter Design.

Who are WD?

From their website:

We are thousands of people worldwide working to enable you to store, collect, access, and use a vast and growing body of digital information. Our reliable hard drives and solid state drives, marketed under the WD and HGST brands, are everywhere that digital information and content is found: in the cloud, supporting your mobile digital lifestyle; in business and personal computers; in external storage devices; in the digital video recorder in your home; and in sophisticated medical, military, aerospace, automotive, manufacturing and telecommunications systems. We also make media players that enable you to enjoy your digital content on the biggest screen in your house – your TV. Our customers range from some of the largest companies in the world to individual users like you.

Specifications

Specs

A Closer Look at the Drive

CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 4CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 5CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 6CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 7

Windows sees the drive as 5.45 TB.

CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 3

Performance Tests

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The average read speed was 177.8 MB/s and the average write speed was 172.6 MB/s (which is up on last years 4 TB Red Drive).

CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 1

Final Thoughts

The WD Red drive comes in a variety of sizes from 750 GB all the way up to the new 6 TB version we are reviewing here.

This is one of the first 6 TB drives on the market so if you need a lot of storage, and a good speed, and you plan on using the drive in your NAS then you really should look at this drive closely.

Also, this drive comes with a 3 year warranty. Now this may not seem like a major selling point to some people but believe me over the years I have had my fair share of failed drives and so it’s nice to know that anytime during that 3 year period WD will replace my drive if I have a problem – after all, you are spending a lot of money on it!

Every WD Red hard drive also comes with professional support services which includes a premium dedicated 24/7 support line. I didn’t need to use them during the course of this review, but having that option there if you need it is very good.

The performance of the drive is very good – especially as these drives are optimised and designed for use in a NAS, so if you want a reliable, good performing storage drive for your NAS then this will be right up your alley.

The WD website also has a NAS Compatibility Selector which enables you to check if these drives are compatible with your NAS – it’s certainly worth checking, although you will find all the usual suspects are supported.

The retail price for the 6 TB drive (WD60EFRX) is around £240 but as usual look around for a good deal.

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Learn more from the WD website.

If there’s one thing gamers like, it’s killing Nazi’s, a staple of video game entertainment for (console) generations. Bandai Namco and CI Games attempt to cash in on the Nazi gold with Enemy Front, a game they hope will give us more freedom with open-ended levels and the ability to complete objectives however you wish.

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Not representative of game footage…

Enter Robert Hawkins, who to most, is just a simple, everyday war correspondent, yet to the evil Nazi’s, he’s a stripped down Rambo with an eventual kill count to shame most 90’s action films several times over. Set mostly in Europe and heavily featuring the Warsaw Uprising, it’s of course only natural to have an American protagonist ruthlessly slaughtering anyone and everone he can find. You’ll meet up with other classic videogame tropes, such as the French resistance fighter who’s more fatale than femme, the generic commando and of course the German operative.

It certainly comes as a surprise that a game being developed by a Polish company, featuring the largely untouched (in gaming at least) Polish theatre of war, would chose to set out their game like this. It would be far more interesting, and perhaps unbearably harrowing, to see a game entirely and devoutly from the Polish perspective, instead of the usual American hero tale we’ve all come to expect.

The horrors of World War 2 were plentiful to say the least; Enemy Front does attempt a fair stab at representing these atrocities. Several times throughout the campaign, you’ll stagger across situations that you can step forward and intervene, inevitably at the expense of an otherwise, avoidable firefight. It does of course slightly pale into comparison however at the sheer number of Germans you’ll slaughter along the way.

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Again, it doesn’t really look like this on PS3

Despite the game feeling overly ambitious throughout, there is some semblance of truth to what they were attempting to accomplish. Areas are indeed open to experimentation in terms of stealth and covert affairs; with most missions being open to completion with minimal fighting. You can take the guns blazing approach, but you’ll often find yourself in one of two scenarios. Either you’ll alert the relentless assault of the German war machine and get shot in the back repeatedly from the suspiciously spawning Nazi’s. Or, you can let the atrocious enemy AI do the work for you and stand calmly in a doorway whilst they graciously walk towards you in single file.

It’s not only the AI that can cause difficulties in a gun fight either, the weapons feel inconsistent at best. Not far from the beginning of the game, you are offered the choice between a rifle and a sub-machine gun, should you pick the bolt action, (which comes without a scope) be prepared for confusion. Not only will hits not register even vaguely near the target, but due to the lack of any optical attachment, you’ll find ranged shots exasperate the problem. Fortunately for us however, you always come prepared for such an outcome; your trusty sidearm will see you through a majority of battles. Seemingly the perfect combination of more up close stopping power than the SMG’s and possessing more accuracy than the rifle at range, you’ll do most of your work with this.

Luckily for us, there are more than enough excuses to take the stealthy approach. It’s often just a matter of finding the correct climbable open window or the sneaky dusty trail to follow. Inevitably, stealth play has its downsides too however, the stealth takedowns can often be subject to the constant uncertainty and possibility of a hilarious glitch occurring. Whether it be the body of a recently stabbed Nazi disappearing into thin air after flying inside a wall or a guard periodically flopping to the floor in front of his superior, who incidentally, couldn’t care less that he just saw me crouching in front of him.

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These ‘in game’ shots are ambitious…

On top of the obligatory ‘explosive set-pieces’, Enemy Front also borrows heavily from other games too. You’ll find yourself breaching doorways in slow motion, alongside sniping using mechanics very reminiscent of their previous Sniper Ghost Warrior titles. Clocking in at around 5-6 hours for completion; not offering much in the way of replayability, save for the myriad of useless, obligatory collectibles doesn’t inspire much either.

The game’s multiplayer doesn’t offer too much in the way of reprisal, with a scant few modes and no progression system to speak of. Your interest would likely wane after a few matches, should you find any. Having such few people online, the blame can’t squarely be placed at the developers, but with nothing to draw you back in, there’s not much incentive to play when other games on the market better implement their ideas.

If all of these problems weren’t enough, Enemy Front still has one major kicker that you’ll likely notice straight away, its horrendous frame rate issues. It will regularly fall below 30 fps, even whilst there’s no discernable action on screen. Unfortunately, coming off the silky smooth, high resolution games of the PS4, it’s even more noticeable. Whilst the graphics are serviceable, except for some nice lighting effects dotted about, the voice acting, again, lets it down somewhat too. There’s a decent rousing score that kicks in at the right times, but in the end, it’s too little, too late.

Everything regarding Enemy Front screams of a high ambition that it’s not quite reached for whatever reasons. The premise is good, the setting will always appeal to gamers and leaving the style of play up to the user is always a good choice. There can be fun to be had; ‘outsmarting’ the enemies by sneaking your way around can feel rewarding, if not a little hollow. Unfortunately, unforgivable amounts of technical problems are hard to squint past and are inevitably, Enemy Front’s downfall.

Never before have I experienced a game like How To Train Your Dragon 2 on Wii U. Really, it’s such a bold accomplishment it warrants contemplating for a moment. In my many, many years as a gamer I’ve played a huge number of games: E.T. on Atari, Superman 64, Shaq-Fu, Bubsy 3D, Ride to Hell: Retribution… even ‘Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties’ on 3DO. This is all important context, because How To Train Your Dragon 2 is the worst videogame I’ve ever experienced in my life.

This is a real promotional image the developers released.
This is a real promotional image the developers released.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is going to be the game I use in future arguments that proves whatever game the other person is talking about isn’t the most tragic thing to happen to gaming. I completed this game. Two weeks of my life were spent trudging through this awful, mundane, lazy, horrid, putrid excuse of a release. After the first few hours it wasn’t merely for the review, but was to say that I god damn did it. Now I can do anything. No longer will X-Factor faze me, Kim Kardashian make me cringe, or three hour bus delays bother me – because I completed How To Train Your Dragon 2.

Allow me to break the gameplay down for you. You start the game, and are immediately greeted with the training section. No title menu, no story, you’re just sat on Toothless with a training list in your face. Here you learn how to fly through rings, shoot cardboard Viking cutouts with your fire-breath in rail-shooter style, and pick up sheep to put back into their respective coloured pen. Each objective has a grading system (bronze/silver/gold), but these only unlock different dragons/characters from the movie – which are purely aesthetic changes.

From here you can see the entirety of the game's "level".
From here you can see the entirety of the game’s “level”.

Once you finish training you’re into the full game, which consists of… flying through rings, shooting cardboard Viking cutouts with your fire-breath in rail-shooter style, and picking up sheep to put back into their respective coloured pen. This isn’t an exaggeration. The entire game consist of these “minigames” and nothing more. There’s no story, no multiplayer, no unlockables, no collectibles (unless you count the dragon skins), no variation, no hidden missions – this is it.

That’s not all: there is only one level. It’s not even a whole level, the game all takes place on the same piece of island. You don’t even get to see the whole island, because the game doesn’t allow you to leave the set area. So really it’s less one level and more one cliff face. Think this means the graphics on the one area will be at least be terrific? Absolutely bloody not. Game looks like a rejected GameCube era title who’s disk has been through into a blender. The graphics clip, the colours are muddied, what little scenery there is looks arse ugly, and despite everything the game still has frequent screen-tearing.

That's supposed to be a sheep under there. I promise.
That’s supposed to be a sheep under there. I promise.

You’d imagine at least riding a dragon would be enjoyable, but they somehow dropped the ball on that too. The controls are painfully inaccurate. When trying to make precise turns the controls feel slippery and imprecise. If you have the audacity to try to descend for any period of time Toothless will divebomb at triple his normal flight speed.

The fire-breath only fires straight ahead of you, so hitting anything in free-aim is impossible with these flight controls, leaving you entirely reliant on the homing fire that has a very loose definition on what is and is not a target. It’s a travesty of dragon flying.

This is an Xbox screenshot because I'd lost heart looking at screenshots by this point.
This is an Xbox screenshot because I’d lost heart looking at screenshots by this point.

Does How To Train Your Dragon 2 have any redeeming features? Well, the soundtrack is quite lovely. However, it gets NO credit for that because it is literally (literally) three tracks from the movie’s soundtrack ripped into the game with no context. If you turn off the music from the options menu you’re greeted with bloody terrible dragon effects that sound as if they were recorded in an outhouse submerged in sand, and a selection of incredibly repetitive soundbytes from the movie of your chosen dragon rider (on average I’d say maybe 3-4 per rider, tops). Though I admit without these ghastly clips there would be no connection to the movie franchise at all.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is available now on Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (and ports on Wii and 3DS). For love of everything that is good in this world – do not purchase it.

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I can honestly say I’ve been clapping for some time now since completing the final episode of The Wolf Among Us ‘Cry Wolf’. I rarely feel compelled to clapping after films and video games. I must be thoroughly entertained, brought to some kind of tears and/or left wanting more in whatever type of ending I’m left with. I’ll put my hands up now and admit that Episode 5 did this and gave me the same closure to the story, content with my decisions throughout and the emotional rollercoaster ride that their previous game The Walking Dead ended on too. Anyone that has read my previous reviews for these episodes will remember that every episode has got progressively better. More detective elements balanced with Bigby’s quick time events in the wolf action sequences has made each episode progressively better. And to top it off, Cry Wolf takes everything that worked well and ends on an incredible climax.

For anyone that still hasn’t played through the game I’d recommend you to overt your eyes and pick up the season pass as soon as possible. For everyone else that has you’ll be glad to know that Bigby’s tale of uncovering the mysteries behind the deaths in Fabletown and the corruption behind the key characters actually ties together nicely and all questions answered, unlike in the TV show Lost. In the final scene from the previous episode Bigby finally comes across the infamous Crooked Man, instigator behind everything that went wrong and is the sole reason behind this investigation. What cleverly flips these accusations against said man is the reasoning behind such manipulation and exploiting throwing the player into their biggest morality trip ever. If someone instructs the murder of someone then are they innocent or just as bad as the killer themselves?

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From the opening scenes you’ll find yourself playing this season’s most heavily quick time event driven episode so far. Fighting for your life and chasing down the truth players will find the first half of Cry Wolf pretty much an extended action sequence. With less than a handful of choices deciding where you’d like to pursue first and very little differences in the outcome of the choices we discover who actually killed Faith and Lily before facing off with Bloody Mary, finally. With a lot more back story to hear from Georgie the pimp, his girl Vivian and their club Pudding N’ Pie we learn some disturbing truths and finally understand what exactly the magical neck ribbons actually do. And there’s me thinking it was just a magical fashion statement.

The second half of episode 5 is by far one of the best bits of writing I’ve experienced in a game. To set the scene, the Fabletown members including Snow and Bigby have an informal trial regarding The Crooked Man’s crimes. Getting to hear what he has to say countered by what you could possibly choose to say sways the ‘jury’ to who’s making the better point to defend their actions. You have The Crooked Man on one side explaining that this manipulations and exploiting characters such as Beauty and Beast was for a good cause to keep a roof over their heads. On the other side you have Bigby defending his own actions for hurting or killing characters, if that’s how you played, and with Snow over watching our choices does this make her just as bad as The Crooked Man for not being involved in the killings and just over watching it too? All the moral choices are played out in this amazing trial and depending which people you please there’s always going to have others that are upset with either your kindness or brutal decisions. I certainly learned a lot about myself as a human being during this scene. I’m diplomatic, allow everyone to have equal say to defend themselves and if there’s no evidence to clearly prosecute someone then I won’t treat them as bad, or I could have just cut off the heads of everyone that opposes me. The choice is really up to you.

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Everything from this trial onwards teases the fact that there could be more to come from detective Bigby Wolf. Not so much a cliffhanger but more to the point that Fabletown is a town that needs work to be cleansed still. We’ve learned that none of the characters are perfect, every choice has impacted characters such as Toad and his son not being able to live peacefully among the Mundies and sometimes you got to put the squeeze on someone to get an answer. But most importantly Cry Wolf questions at the end if we’ll go out of our way to help someone if there’s not an emotional reason to get involved. My mind was blown. Thank you Tell Tale.

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Time to put Destiny down and relax.

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