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First appearing as a Kickstarter project, Flippfly’s Race the Sun has gone from strength to strength; at one point hoping to overcome the Steam Greenlight process, its success has now proved itself worthy to join the ranks of the always increasing Playstation indie market. Available on the PS4, PS3, Vita and of course PC, let’s see how an endless runner style game works on the big screen.

Most games employ characters, a plot and other narrative devices to help keep you both interested and wanting to continue playing. Race the Sun instead, relies upon its ‘just one more go’ ethos to try and inject its own form of longevity. The goal of the game is to pilot a solar powered craft towards the ever setting sun in the distance. Movement, at first, can be tricky due to the (presumably) high speeds you’re attaining; especially considering it’s only really the lateral movement you generally control.

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You’ll rarely be this high up for the first couple of hours

Inevitably, there are plenty of obstacles in between you and your infinitely elusive goal, yet what sets Race the Sun apart from the plethora of other ‘endless runner’ type games is its cycling map. Instead of being a random set of junctures each and every time you restart (as you will, a lot!) the ‘map’ cycles every 24 hours giving everybody a fair shot at the leaderboards, but more importantly, letting you learn specific routes to take and avoid. This simple idea makes a larger difference than you might imagine as the problem that often occurs with these sorts of games is the lack of progression. Whereas this way, spending a couple of hours on it will actually make you feel as though you are improving.

On top of the visible feeling of progression you get, Race the Sun also has a few other tricks up its sleeve that help to sway you towards hitting retry. Missions will be constantly doled out, up to a maximum of three at a time, which include a cross section of both easy and difficult tasks to complete. Some might be as simple as ‘travel a cumulated amount distance’ or simply ‘have a few crashes’, whereas others can test your mettle a little more. Getting through zones without denting your ship are easily accomplishable after a while, yet performing 25 barrel rolls in a single run seems a little steep. Acquire three of this level of difficulty and you’ll inevitably feel a tad disheartened at the prospect of progressing.

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Yes, those blocks are moving…

Completing these missions does alter what appears on the map however. At first, it’ll just be you and the open road, yet after making your way through a few objectives; you’ll notice power up items appearing throughout. Some are simply point and score modifiers, whereas others can offer speed boosts, a single jump or even an extra life should you inevitably slam into a wall. Levelling up also unlocks upgrades for your ship too, such as the possibility to carry an extra jump module or a magnetic effect on your ship which’ll help you collect everything from a slightly further distance. The caveat being that you may only equip one at a time, meaning you’ll often have to sacrifice something else you like the sound of.

When you first start playing Race the Sun, not many options will be available, after an hour or so of completing the set goals however, you’ll unlock the Apocalypse mode which is essentially the same, but with a brooding red colour scheme and a much more punishing difficulty. Later on, you’ll also unlock the Labyrinth mode which switches things up a little via zooming out the camera and tasking you with navigating a much more intricate warren of obstacles.

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Staying out of the shadows doesn’t become a priority until you get to the later zones

The games’ minimalist style graphics works to its favour by being both abstractly pretty whilst also highlighting things for the player. In latter zones, the sun will appear to set quicker; therefore casting shadows across the nefarious blocks that threaten to spell your demise. Not only will this make it inherently more difficult to see the clearest path, but let’s not forget we’re in a solar powered ship, and regardless of how ‘green’ that is, too much time in the shade will cause you to slow down to a halt, ending in an immediate game over.

Endless runners usually fall into two separate camps, those who enjoy a quick ten minute romp during a daily commute, and those who feel their lack of depth and substance is more of a barrier than the intended accessibility. If there’s one thing they’ve all got in common however, it’s the pursuit of a highscore, and whether on the global leaderboards, or just some friendly banter between friends, the ability to chase scores is always bound to draw a crowd. Race the Sun then finds itself at an impasse, the smattering of upgrades and permanent progression unlocks are possibly unlikely to draw too much of a large crowd from the more hardcore of gamers who own a PS4. Whilst on the other hand, those already into the ‘endless runner’ genre will most likely have their needs satiated via a smartphone game. That’s not to take anything away from Race the Sun, it is certainly one of the better games of its type I’ve ever played, it just might have suited the mobile market better.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Dead Island Riptide there was certainly something missing. It wasn’t so obvious then and the zombie smashing co-op action quickly had me happily distracted. Apart from the swamp area. Techland have decided to abandon their extremely good work on Dead Island and concentrate on Dying Light.

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Expect the first couple of hours to be way to difficult for you to have much fun. Even with two players zombies are unreasonably tough in the early game. You will be running a lot because it’s your only real option. I’m glad I pushed through and managed to get past the overly difficult start and slowly but surely you start to feel more comfortable dealing with Dying Light’s creatures.

Leaping from a building can easily put your stomach on edge as you reach for a ledge – unsure if you can reach it comfortably. More often than not you succeed and I very rarely missed a grab even though I still exercise caution even now.

The only occasions I felt let down are when you have to aim the camera at a ledge or grab point to pull yourself up. Most of the time it’s not a problem and you find yourself aiming the crosshair where you’re heading anyway. But sometimes you need to make an effort and move the camera before you can leap or pull yourself up. It really breaks the flow and although very rare does cause frustration in the middle of your awesome parkour skills.

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Luckily, running, jumping then eventually rolling and sliding through the city though is a joy. Jumping over zombie’s heads and staying out of reach of the more intimidating enemies is always fun. Games like Assassin’s Creed could learn a thing or two from Dying Light’s free running. It’s a real art to make running away just as fun as combat.

Especially when the combat is this good. Dead Island managed to make crushing skulls, breaking bones and slicing limbs off both (very) violent and fun. You’ve got to love zombies for guilt free violence. And none of those joys are lost in Dying Light. Stabbing with small knifes have a satisfying speed that makes up for their lack of power. Hammers swing a bit slower but their reach and ability to crush limbs makes them satisfyingly efficient.

There’s plenty to choose from between hammers, knifes, swords, sledgehammers, bats and much more. Plus each one comes with a certain amount of upgrade slots so you can modify the weapon’s stats quite significantly. And then you can use a blueprint and really change things up. Each weapon also comes with a limited number of repairs and once the weapon’s durability is low enough it becomes ineffective and you have to repair it using a single abundant consumable and one of the weapon’s repairs. Despite the ability that grants a 50% chance to repair without using one of the repairs it’s incredibly unlikely any weapon will last forever.

At first I was dubious. Having a limit on weapons makes you slightly cautious, making sure you don’t ‘waste’ valuable repairs. But as you level up new items become available so there’s also an incentive to use your good loot before it becomes outdated. Despite my reservations the system works well and knowing you will eventually need to find new equipment keeps things fresh and really encourages you to try new things. Eventually it even encouraged me to use things more to make sure I used the lowest level items before levelling up to a point where they became redundant.

Firearms are exempt from degradation and instead rely on maintaining a stock of ammunition. Ammunition is reasonably easy to find and can even be bought from shops if you need it. Gunplay is satisfying and sounds particularly punchy. It’s a vast improvement from Dead Island and I enjoyed using them a lot, although they never take over from the melee weapons at the core of the game.

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Upgrades are split between Survival, Agility and Power. Survival is levelled up based on quest xp and provides upgrades like bartering and other general character abilities. Agility is levelled up from xp given when running and jumping and gives more stamina, rolls, slides and more. Power concentrates on combat and is earned from killing zombies with upgrades to combat stamina, craftable bombs, special moves, etc. Progression is well balanced and the next ability point is never too far away.

Unfortunately the simple plot very quickly becomes a secondary concern and apart from the occasional important scene there is very little added from listening to people talk. It was never going to be Dying Light’s strongest asset and the weak story and ancillary characters didn’t effect me at all, positively or negatively. I simply ignored them and enjoyed the game for what it is.

On the bright side (geddit? I’m so sorry) one thing you cannot ignore is the night time. It’s no gimmick. Getting caught in the middle of nowhere at night time can be a very real problem. Usually running to a nearby safe zone is a good plan. If another player ‘invades’ your game and takes control of the chasing zombie things get really interesting. But honestly the The ‘be the zombie’ mode isn’t really necessary. Dying Light is a solid co-op game and being constantly reminded you can play as the zombie in adverts, box art and even in game is strange. I want to play co-op with my character and a friend, invading someone else’s game isn’t really a priority for me. But if that’s what you want it works well and can at least be a distraction and you can always opt out if it’s not your thing.

The day/night mechanic is at its best when you still have objectives to complete and you can see the sun slowly going down. The panic of the ever-present passage of time is unique and creates a wonderfully frenzied rush that is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in a game before.

And just to round everything off Techland have again excelled themselves by making the environment ridiculously beautiful. Sun glare is a particular speciality but the lighting in general is something special. However my favourite aspect is the motion capture of the zombies. When you see one stumble over a barrier you would swear you were watching an episode of The Walking Dead. Hacking the leg of a zombie on a car bonnet will see it fall, bang its head and then flail on the ground. It’s amazingly, occasionally hauntingly, realistic. It’s all the more impressive given how many zombies appear on screen at once and how massive and detailed the city is.

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Dying Light is absolutely the game I wanted Dead Island 2 to be. And even though that’s gone in a different direction Dying Light picks it up and improves on it perfectly. Cooperative not-quite-zombie killing with elaborately modified melee weapons has never been better and it’s clear an experienced team has crafted Dying Light.

There are So many zombies that you’ll never go wanting and each horde has a very genuine look to it. A free running mechanic that actually feels responsive with only the occasional hiccup is almost unheard of and Dying Light’s is almost perfect. There’s a decent level up system that rewards your actions and a massive amount of loot to find. A little more confidence in being ‘just a co-op game’ and a solid story and characters are the only thing missing in this amazing FPS. Dying Light is a beautiful looking, content packed co-op zombie romp that is exactly what it should be.

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With more graphics cards and games supporting 4K, there has never been a better time to get a 4K monitor – here is our review of the Asus PB277Q 4K one.

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The ASUS PB287Q True 4K ultra-high definition (4K UHD) monitor, featuring a 16:9 aspect ratio WLED display that delivers next-generation 4K UHD visuals, with resolution up to 3840 by 2160. With a pixel density of 157 pixels-per-inch (PPI), the PB287Q provides over 8 million pixels, four times the pixel density of standard Full HD displays for astonishingly detailed visuals – allowing you to experience more onscreen real estate and stunning image clarity that have to be seen to be believed. The PB287Q also delivers an impressive 1ms GTG fast response time and a 60Hz refresh rate for ultra-smooth gameplay.

Specifications

Specs

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the monitor, base, power cables, manuals, audio cable, an HDMI cable and a DisplayPort cable.

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A Closer Look

The stand is already attached to the monitor, although you can remove it if you wish to wall mount it.

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The base is very sturdy and easily attaches to the monitor.

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Like so.

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Using the PB287Q Monitor

The power and the other connectors are at the rear of the monitor behind a removable plastic strip. I found it easier to rotate the screen itself to fit the cables I wanted to use.

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I connected the monitor via DisplayPort to my Windows 8.1 PC which has a GeForce GTX 680 graphics card in it. Windows and the GeForce software immediately picked up the monitor, however I noticed that it was only offering me a refresh rate of 29 or 30Hz even though DisplayPort should give me up to 60Hz (if you are using HDMI then 30Hz is your maximum).

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A quick bit of checking revealed that the monitors DisplayPort Stream setting was on DP 1.1. When I changed that to DP 1.2 60Hz was selectable.

The menu system on the monitor is very easy to use and includes various modes and other settings.

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Final Thoughts

The monitor comes packaged in its box very securely and only took a few moments to put together. I liked that the only thing I had to do was fit the stand and hand twist a screw! Once attached it felt very sturdy and secure.

One of the things that drew me to this monitor was the 3 possible connections – 2 HDMI (one of which being MHL) and a DisplayPort connector. For those people with multiple devices they would like to connect to the monitor having more than a single port makes it very useful, and tidy to just everything connected and use an input selector to switch between whatever is connected. And the inclusion of PIP is also very useful, so well done Asus on that front. The ports are fairly easy to access, just pop away the plastic covering and that’s it – although as I mentioned I found it easier to rotate the screen to fit the cables.

All of the on-screen menu options and functions are accessibly via a series of buttons located on the rear of the monitor. They are easy to use although it takes a little getting used to. The menu selections appear quickly so its easy to select what you want.

You can adjust the height of the monitor on stand with very little effort – I found that monitor was at the perfect height for my desk by just extending it all the way up. The viewing angles are great as well, you can choose between –5 degress and 20 degrees. If you need anything different to the viewing angle or the height you could always mount the monitor. You can also pivot the monitor so that it’s vertical if that’s your preference.

The monitor has a number of different modes that include all the things you would expect to find such as brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, etc, but there is also a mode called Splendid, which enables you to choose a setting for the monitor depending on what you are viewing. For example, there is a Game Mode for the gamers out there, and even a Standard Mode if you are just doing things like emails and word processing. The best thing to suggest is to try each of these modes and see which suits both your environment and whatever it is you are displaying. All of the modes work very well and I found myself swapping between them more than I thought I would.

Playing 4K games on the monitor, or displaying 4K video content was superb – the quality and clarity is striking, and going back to non-4K you can really see the difference. The very low input lag is a very important feature if you are wanting this for gaming.

The monitor also has in-built speakers, which get the job done, but don’t expect anything superb from them though. There is also a headphone socket to for connecting up your headphones if you dont want to use the speakers. Personally I stayed with my existing speaker setup but it was a useful addition though.

Overall I was really impressed with the PB287Q and can highly recommend it as a great monitor to jump into 4K with, especially if you want to do 4K gaming!

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The Asus PB287Q 4K Monitor is available now from Ebuyer for £449.99.

With THQ gone the originally planned DLC was altered to form what I thought was a slightly disappointing Saints Row IV. Although it offered the usual ridiculous Saints thrills and spills with a creatively ridiculous plot and setting. Personally I didn’t think the super powers were enough to base an entire game on. I still wish Saints IV had been the DLC to the third game so that we would now be looking at a full new title rather than using aging mechanics and technology. Still in its own right Saints IV was a great game.

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Enter Gat Out of Hell: the DLC to the game that should have been DLC to the game from the last generation. So 10 minutes in after a typically wacky set of cutscenes you see the in game graphics. They just about managed to get away with basing the last gen Saints IV on the last gen Saints 3 engine but it’s just not possible now. Switching from any PS4 title I can think of to Gat Out of Hell is an obvious step back 1 or 2 years. This isn’t a bad looking PS4 game, it’s a PS3 game that has been shoved onto the PS4.

It’s not particularly helped by the setting of Hell which creates an incredibly dreary brown, brown and brown pallet, with the inevitable, if not occasional, splash of purple. Orange jets of fire, crimson rivers of blood or bright white skeletons instantly spring to my mind as ways to add colour but none are present in Gat Out of Hell. Some sort of horrible thorny vine plants could’ve added green. I’m not artistic but the sea of browns is completely depressing from the very start.

Character models, weapons and other effects are obviously PS3 quality. There appears to be no attempt at keeping them inline with current visuals at all. The engine running Saints is just too old. It’s impossible for it to look at home on the PS4. The last Saints game should really have had an update so here on the PS4 it’s just too obvious to ignore.

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Even though Saints is known for being intentionally ridiculous and over-the-top the setting of Hell isn’t welcome to me. I want a city to explore and I want it to look reasonably realistic. For me being in Hell is like swamp areas on a game. There isn’t a single game I’ve ever been on and entered a swamp gladly thinking how fun it will be to navigate or how colourful it will be; and the same apparently goes for Hell.

But my biggest problem with the latest setting is the ironic reduction in the humour and insanity of Saints. The reason that gun you unlock near the end is so fun and ridiculous is because the previous 10 or 20 weapons are relatively normal. The reason the near invincible Genki mascot walking casually down the street with a taser is funny is because you rarely see him – and he can make you fall rather sadly to the floor. The humour and general lunacy of Saints relies on the contrast between the norm. In Gat Out of Hell there is no normal. So when you grab yourself a monster truck with flames blaring out of the exhaust pipes and sirens on top there’s no shock. You just get in and drive off. If that had casually driven down the street once every 10 hours on Saints 3 heads would have turned.

With none of the humour and whit of the more ‘creative’ elements of Saints and an unimaginative, bleak setting that belongs on last gen all that’s left are the missions. Usually sandbox mayhem like Saints Row needs a ton of content to keep us busy; it’s one of the best things about an open world sandbox and particularly Saints Row. The missions are varied but sadly it’s really nothing we haven’t seen in the past few Saints games. Also considering Gat Out of Hell actually is DLC it has far less content than the recent ‘full’ titles, punching in at only 4 hours or so. You can probably extend this a little if you try but you will struggle to get past 6 hours.

For me there’s something missing when you don’t get the customization and connection of creating your own character. Given the setting I found it difficult to really feel connected or care about the stuff I was unlocking. There’s an amazing difference between unlocking stuff for my customized gang hideout with my customized character driving a customized car from my garage and unlocking a weapon from hell for Gat. Add in the fact that before 10 hours it’s all over it’s difficult to care.

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Gat Out of Hell is simple. It’s DLC that offers a small amount of extra Saints Row gameplay. It looks shamefully last gen because the dev absolutely refuses to let go of the Saints Row The Third engine. It’s old and it looks it. No amount of polish can fill in the cracks, Saints Row has needed an updated engine for a long time but now it’s just ridiculous. The franchise can’t move on unless it gets an update and starts living in the now.

So Gat Out of Hell ends up being a short and disappointing DLC that offers little new content for those who’ve played Saints 3. Without the contrast of a close to real world most of the ‘crazy’ humour is lost. There’s still no significant visual updates and the environment is drab and just draining to look at. Gat Out of Hell is nothing but a blatant attempt to drag as many titles as possible out of a game that’s already done and very finished. Saints Row The Third was great, but making countless sequels and DLC using nothing but a re-skin is not the way to move Saint Row forward. I say it’s time for a real Saints Row IV.

Back in 2002 I was overjoyed to have the chance to replay one of my favourite games with new shiny bells and whistles. I’d already played the original from 1996 and it had earned its place as one of my favourite games. And a further 13 years have passed and I’m excited to be playing it again, although this time with the added bells and whistles in HD.

It’s generally considered among fans that the original Resi remake for the GameCube is Resi at its best and I firmly agree that Resi has never been better, although 2 and 4 come close at times. Despite the pre-rendered backgrounds and voice acting so bad it’s funny, in its day it was one of the best looking and atmospheric games around. It’s an art that’s largely lost in modern games which so often favour action over consideration and jump scares over tension.

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Almost everything has been left alone from the GameCube remake. The puzzles and areas are exactly as I remember them, and I remember them well. There is a joy to revisiting a place you haven’t been to in over a decade and having an almost photographic memory of every corner and object. For those who haven’t visited the Spencer Estate before it is likely the place will be quite overwhelming. Rooms and corridors are anything but uniform and it will take some time before you have an adequate working knowledge of the mansion and its secrets.

The Puzzles are classically over the top and often totally inexplicable. Examining an emblem that was hidden in a particularly vicious dog’s collar reveals it to be an imitation of a key that you place inside a socket after removing the real key to stop the suit of armour on tracks from crushing/stabbing you to death in a stone hallway. The Spencer’s really believed in strong security. Having so many object results in a sort of constant trading of items back and forth. The dog whistle I used to attract that particular dog is now useless and I can discard it, saving a valuable inventory slot for the new key it allows me to collect.

In fact a large part of solving puzzles, and progressing generally, relies on solid inventory management. Luckily there are ‘magic boxes’ to help you which allow you to store a colossal amount of items that can then be accessed from any other magic box. Even so it’s all to easy when exploring to find a few pieces of a puzzle you’re not even aware of yet and some healing herbs and end up totally full and unable to carry any more items. Making more trips than you need to is not a good idea in this house.

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Also returning from the original and the remake are fixed cameras. And with them come two control schemes; the original ‘tank controls’ (with a button to ‘accelerate’ and buttons to turn like Heavy Rain) and the new scheme that uses the left analogue stick like conventional modern third person titles.

The new scheme is far better for giving enemies the slip ensuring it’s your error that gets you into trouble and not awkward controls. Although they don’t make you untouchable and back in the day I was just as good at dodging the undead with the tank controls as I am now with the new scheme. But the updated controls make it far easier to get playing considering we’re all used to similar schemes – I can imagine many players will never have even used tank controls.

The only time I felt they let me down were on a few transitions when the camera changed and my character was spinning backwards and forwards cutting the camera repeatedly. Almost all transitions worked with absolutely no problems, but when it went wrong it was somehow even worse than it used to be with the old scheme. Out of hundreds of transitions only two or three don’t work but when it happens it’s bad. Throw in the need to dodge an enemy in such an area and it’s all over.

Other than the very rare problems I actually found myself enjoying the fixed cameras. They’re restrictive and claustrophobic. Time and time again I just wanted to rotate the camera to check around the corner. Hearing the shuffling of a zombie that you can’t see creates a tense game of hide and seek that gets the heart going. So much of Resi’s atmosphere comes from the camera angles and I’m glad to have them back. They may have originated from technical limitations but in this arena they excel.

The fixed shooting style also returns and makes for a slow and calculated combat style. Forget about Leon Kennedy’s ability to kick zombies to death or suplex their heads into the ground. You will stop, aim and fire. If you want, or need, to kill something it will have to be thoughtful. If you wait until you need to react it’s unlikely you will have enough time – unless you use some of the rarer ammo. It may be out of place compared with many modern games but again it adds to Resi’s unique atmosphere.

One of the biggest challenges visually comes from working with Resi’s pre-rendered backgrounds. Without a fully realised 3D environment improving elements is difficult, especially when modern lighting models are concerned as they rely on the environment being 3D. But the remaster looks incredibly good throughout. Certain environments are improved more than others, the main hall stands out as an example of one of the best, but nothing looks like it’s from 2002, or even close. To get everything in a 16:9 aspect the top and bottom was cut from the original 4:3 which is a pretty crude technique but at no point did I notice anything missing. Capcom really have done an amazing job getting a 13 year old game to look modern(ish) on a PS4.

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Limited saves, elaborate puzzles, punishing difficulties, cheesy voice acting and door animations all make their glorious return and I couldn’t be happier. The visual overhaul is nothing short of amazing. Areas have been cleaned up and overhauled so they look refreshed and the Dolby 5.1 further rejuvenates Resi into the current gen. The ‘96 original was one of my favourite games until the 2002 remake came out and know there’s the 2015 remaster. That brilliant little GameCube disk remained one of (if not) my favourite game for over a decade. Now that it’s back I’m glad to say this opportunity wasn’t wasted.

It’s great to have a proper survival game back at its best. The only problems are a few iffy camera transitions, some aging that can’t be hidden (i.e. the voice acting) and the knowledge that this is the best Resident Evil in a long time, and it’s only this good because it hasn’t changed. The Resident Evil franchise is so far off track that I can’t ever see it returning to this kind of legendary game. So while I love playing this Resi remaster it’s hard not to play it knowing this is the ultimate version of the long dead glory days of the Resident Evil franchise. I’m so glad I am able to enjoy Resident Evil once again, but it’s extremely unlikely there’ll be another one as good as this. It’s not a negative mark against this game but it is sad to know this is highly likely to be the last time I will play, and love, this truly amazing, genre defining game.

Fundamentally Warhammer Quest is a classic turn based strategy game. You take your band of heroes into a dungeon to kill it’s inhabitants and steal their stuff. Visiting one of Warhammer Quest’s villages will reveal at least one quest for your team to take part in when you return to the world map. To move things along the story is told through a series of text boxes. They’re well written but it can make quests feel a little dry when the big conclusion is a box of text you get to read.

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Dungeons are randomly generated but they’re nothing special. There are clear blocks that form simple shapes that fit together nicely. No matter what the quest is or what’s happening in the ‘story’ the gameplay never deviates from its path. Walk through the dungeon to reveal the area and kill everything in sight. There’s absolutely no variation in objectives other than the distinctly missable text boxes.

Unfortunately this is where the fact that Warhammer Quest was originally from iOS starts to become a problem. Sure when you play a mobile game you want 10-15 minutes of uncomplicated fun. A complex story would probably just ruin the pace. But it doesn’t translate to the ‘big screen’. On a mobile you would expect to play for only a short time and keep returning for a similar burst of game time. You expect to be able to sit and play a full PC game for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Warhammer Quest makes it very difficult to stay interested for that length of time given that not a lot changes.

Finding loot is one of the only ways I felt the need to return to Warhammer Quest. Whichever of the four characters you choose to play with will have loads of options for equipment and loot drops are frequent enough that it’s never long before you find yourself reequipping a character. But the loot isn’t particularly imaginative. More often the not it’s a simple case of replacing items for superior ones rather than any complicated compromises or choices.

The combat is another casualty of Warhammer Quest’s mobile origins. There is nothing more to do than move near an enemy and click on them to attack it. If you have a character capable of ranged attack they obviously will have more choice but it still basically comes down to tapping a creature and seeing if you killed it or not. The only sense of strategy involved is making sure everyone in the team gets an attack which is really a case of making sure you move characters with common sense rather than any strategy.

Yet again this gameplay would work if I were tapping away on a mobile screen but on my PC with a mouse and keyboard it’s just too simple. Click to move, reveal map, click to move, attack enemy. That’s really it. There are a few abilities and spells to concern yourself with but that’s basically just one more click. There’s no cover or defence to concern yourself with. There’s no overwatch or strategic positioning to think about. You move and hit the enemy and hopefully it dies first. The miss rate is unbelievable and more often than not you’ll spend your time swinging and missing; until you finally hit something and kill it.

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Warhammer Quest’s worst sin however has to be the visuals. They haven’t been altered from the mobile version at all. And it shows. At best there is a slight blurring around everything that makes it look like you’ve zoomed in on a low resolution video. At best you have huge patches of unused black space around the edges. Top down strategy games usually don’t focus on high fidelity but Warhammer Quest literally hasn’t been improved from the mobile version to the PC.

One of the most glaring occurrences of this is when you visit a town and a pop-up book opens showing a rough 3D map of the place. It’s a nice way to represent it without rendering an entire town pointlessly but viewing on the PC just makes it look stretched. Which is exactly what it is. It’s pixelated, blurry and just horrible to look at.

But just when you think it can’t get any worse there’s just one more thing that Warhammer Quest has brought with it from the mobile platform – premium currency. I’m not actually so offended by premium currency as a concept these days and some of my favourite games have been free-to-play with currency. But to pay for a game as badly ported as this and then find a premium currency system is just an insult.

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Unfortunately there’s nothing complicated to Warhammer Quest. You play for 20 minutes and probably get bored and turn it off. Which really is to the games credit considering it’s a mobile game. But to port a game successfully from iOS to PC there needs to be at least some changes. Increasing the resolution on videos rather than just stretching them is one. The same goes for the environments too, stretching low resolution assets is never a good move.

Visuals aside there just isn’t enough complexity in Warhammer Quest to compete with other turn based strategy titles on the PC. That same complexity that would be undesirable in a mobile game is so important to a PC game. Space Hulk offers more strategy in a Warhammer setting and if you’re just looking for turn based strategy there are loads of better games on Steam for this price; and almost all of them don’t have premium currency. If you want Warhammer Quest get it for iOS where it belongs, as a PC game it’s just not worth playing.

Singstar, the franchise which has brought both equal love and disdain to fans not only of homebrew karaoke, but the more OCD oriented PS3 users who dislike the unnecessary clutter of their XMB. Either way, after spanning the previous two generations of Sony consoles, Singstar finally makes its debut onto the PS4, but can it still retain its party mantra, or will it shuffle awkwardly in the corner?

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If it weren’t for the scores, you wouldn’t be able to tell who the better singer was due to the frustratingly quiet mics

Even hardcore gamers need to let their hair down at some point, and what better way to do so, than by popping on some classic tracks and waking the neighbours with your caterwauling? Back on the PS2? No problem, just slip a disc in and let the sing-along commence. PS3 users can instead choose from their amassed library, built up through the years. PS4 party goers on the other hand aren’t in for the greatest surprise, as due to some ‘licensing issues’ you’ll not be able to import the majority of your previously purchased songs online. To further add insult to injury, there is of course no way to simply pop your old discs in and import them from there either.

The ‘Ultimate Party’ track list, which can easily be found nestling amongst the ‘overly happy go lucky trendy people’ pictures, consists of 30 tracks from your (probably not so) favourite artists. If you’re below the age of twenty, you’ll likely find the song selection to your tastes; already singing along to your favourites on the car journey home. But if you’re of the age that doesn’t have to ask who Lionel Richie is, then once more, you could well be in for a little disappointment. Anyone initially excited via the inclusion of the increasingly popular ‘Let it Go’ will also be a little disheartened to learn that it is in fact Demi Levato’s cover version. A fact I know for certain will upset a friend in possession of an unerringly strong East Midlands accent.

Nevertheless, if you can live with procuring a selection of your favourite songs, for £1.15 a chuck, there is a free version of the game on the store that, for obvious reasons, won’t come with any included tracks. You’ll be able to re-download some of your collection onto the PS4, their availability permitting of course and only up to ten at a time meaning those of you that have hundreds of purchased songs could be in for a wait. Considering the promotion of playing with an inordinately large group of zany friends, the removal of some of the series’ better game modes is a rather peculiar choice. Gone are Duets, Medleys, Pass the Mic and for some reason even the difficulty settings, leaving a barren, if not well presented selection of options to sorrowfully sift through.

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Look at this cringe worthy snapshot of fun…

Of some saving grace however, are the microphone compatibilities. Not only can you still use your older peripherals that clog up the closets, but now the party can continue on if you get a few surprise guests too. A free app for smartphones (vigorously advertised by the Sony department) and available for both android and iOS, can turn it into a makeshift mic. Whilst it’s not going to replicate the weight and feel of a real microphone, it can be a handy way to ensure the majority of people can participate. A small issue, assumedly dependent upon which model of smartphone you use and your connection strength, is that there can often be a delay in speech recognition. Not a game breaking amount, but enough to be often irritable.

If there’s one thing a good knees up needs, it’s enticing people to get up and make fools of themselves due to their vocal incompetency. For some, this can often mean ‘just the right amount of alcohol’, for others, turning down their microphone volume can also be a winning solution. Fortunately for those of a shy disposition, and unfortunately for everyone else, the mic volume is inordinately quiet. To a point where try as you might, you’ll actually find it difficult to hear yourself never mind your friends.

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Zany fun loving group of best friends not pictured

As ever in the franchise, presentation is lavishly applied to each and every area of the game and can often be its strongest suit. Menus are both slick and accessible along with the general game screen balancing the ratio between being informative whilst also looking good. Inevitably the newer tracks offer a greater visual experience due to some higher qualities, but the oldies still look and feel great too. Sound quality is as good as to be expected with all the tracks coming in at a high clarity too.

Making the move to the PlayStation 4 was certainly going to happen, but it could have been handled better, particularly with peoples previously purchased content. It’s still the classic Singstar experience you’ll know and love, but unfortunately the nifty new additions such as being able to use your smartphone as a mic certainly can’t make up for the bewildering game mode omissions. It’s not quite an ‘Ultimate Party’ either when you have to get everyone to download an app. Especially before asking them to ‘bear with you’ whilst you feebly try to download your meagre selection of music. Simply put, there are more options, more game modes and more importantly, a greater and far wider selection of songs on the older PS3 version. Even if you are new to the franchise, I’d still recommend you stick with the last gens iteration, it’ll be a better party all round.

The original Little big planet was nothing short of amazing. The mechanics where,  even at the time, rather outdated and giving them a quick polish worked amazingly well. It’s pure innocent charms and Steven Fry’s commentary are impossible to resist. But really how complicated can a platformer be? Sure the graphics are nice and the platforming is huge fun but ultimately that’s not enough. And there lies Little Big Planet’s key to success.

As with so many successful modern games opening design and creation to the community can be a huge advantage. You can all but guarantee that eventually someone will make something amazing or use tools in a totally unique way that nobody ever thought of. There’s something very satisfying about playing each level knowing you could make everything in it, with enough talent.

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So Little Big Planet was something new and Little Big Planet 2 added a huge amount of features to expand the creative side of the game and therefore what was possible in a level. For Little Big Planet 3 Media Molecule had a seemingly simple, albeit brilliant, idea. More characters. Given what was possible in the previous two games with one character imagine what you could do with 4. In essence the single player campaign is an extended tutorial, now more than ever given the amount of new stuff to be explained. But it’s a decent adventure with the usual pantomime villains and silly jokes. As usual it’s impossible to resist Little Big Planet’s charms for all of its 6 or so hours offline.

The plot is simple, Sackperson has been captured and 3 new characters are tasked with rescuing him. There’s Odd Sock who’s a sort of dog like Sackperson who can repeatedly back jump off walls to make his way between two objects. When playing as Odd Sock there’s a definite flow to the game with levels tending to be fast paced and almost Sonic like at times. The speed and momentum is similar to the standard platforming with that slight weightlessness that makes the platforming so satisfying, but with some extra jumping abilities levels feel surprisingly refreshed.

Toggle is probably my favourite character to play as and also adds the most new function to the game. Toggle can either become very small so that he has very little mass or become large and have a very high mass. It’s another case of a simple mechanic that can give birth to complicated gameplay. One example is launching yourself out of water by first becoming heavy and sinking then switching back to being light and rising to the top violently to spring yourself up and scale an obstacle.

Swoop is basically a bird and as such can fly – a bit. Swoop is a little less interesting to play and can basically glide and fly about as well as flappy bird. As Swoop you can also pick certain objects up and move them around as a sort of plug and socket puzzle. There isn’t the same pace and momentum that I like so much about the gameplay of Little Big Planet and swoop just doesn’t capture me like the other characters. But still it’s yet another way to play and another option for level creation.

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The compulsory tutorial that you always have to complete before getting stuck into level creation has thankfully been drastically overhauled. Previously they have became stale long before the end. Even Stephen Fry’s narration wasn’t enough to keep the boredom away. With as many complex features as Little Big Planet now has an in depth tutorial is inevitable but luckily LBP 3 makes it slightly more interesting than before. Instead of pop-ups full of information and the odd video the tutorials now play as simple puzzle solving levels.

In one series you will need to create, delete and reshape items to get through the level. In another you will use string and elastic at different lengths and strengths to move objects or create swinging grab able items to Tarzan over a gap. Slowly but surely you make your way through all that LBP has to offer. Making the tutorial a series of mini challenges rather than just being told what to do you not only gives you a greater understanding of how to use the tools but helps prevent boredom too.

And once you’re done you can create and upload levels as much as you want. They can be simple or complex, long or short but they’re fun to create and LBP still invites you to get stuck in and just play around. Creating with a friend is especially fun and can even be quite productive. But I’m not a creative kind of person so playing other people’s levels is the main attraction for me. Luckily all the levels from both previous games are playable in LBP 3 which means there is an absolutely colossal archive of levels ready to be played already. There are some really amazing levels to be played from the previous games so it’s nice to have them all in one place.

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Following tradition everything still looks great but nothing is allowed to look slick. Everything has that tacked together feel that makes LBP look so distinctive. But that doesn’t mean the visuals haven’t been improved. The fuzz from Sackperson’s material in particular looks amazing. It catches the light just as you would expect and really makes you want to reach out and scratch the hessian.

All the usual charm and character is still the basis for LBP. In fact it forms the foundations for everything else to be built on. The first game was a great base and the second one expanded on that in a way that seemed very complete. But Media Molecule have managed it by adding new characters with new abilities that can drastically change how a level is played, or created. Even without substantial new tools just having a couple of key new mechanics has yet again expanded on Little Big Planet’s already impressive world. Even if you’ve been here before and played the previous games extensively LBP 3 is well worth visiting.

There’s something oh so addictive about any game like Elite. It’s difficult to explain why but for some reason I just can’t stay away. Just one more trip, just one more delivery, just one more bounty. At the peek of this addiction you will hardly care that you’ve now been doing the same thing for countless hours. Every time I had to request landing permission with a few satisfying button presses on my keyboard I felt totally immersed. The spectacular mundanity of it all is invitingly engrossing. Just going about you’re daily space life delivering space cargo is cool, and Elite is cool enough to understate things and just let it be cool.

There isn’t an attempt to push you along your way or suggest that you complete certain objectives to gain xp. It doesn’t suggest what modules to equip on your ship or even which ship to use. There’s plenty of room for error in Elite: Dangerous which allows for a true sandbox experience. Luckily there’s plenty of support available online in forums or on YouTube to help you on your travels which is more than enough to get started.

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To say that Elite is a grind is an unbelievable understatement. You start off in a Sidewinder which doesn’t really have enough cargo space to do any decent trading and certainly doesn’t have enough potential firepower to realistically fend off anything other than Sidewinders. But slowly but surely you make 100 credits a run. Then a few hundred. Then you break 1,000. You make a few 10s of thousands and you can treat yourself to a new ship and start again trading larger amounts. Somehow despite the unbelievable amount of grinding required and the occasional feeling of despair that can cause I still kept going back and steadily worked my way through the ranks as a trader.

At times Elite can feel exactly like what it so often is. An unending and slightly dull grind to the finish, which is really a self set goal anyway. I know it’s a sandbox and most of the fun is usually from self motivation but there are times were a little bit of direction, or a few token objectives, wouldn’t have done any harm. At times you can feel like a direction-less delivery boy sent to hell to perpetual deliver goods, at any time able to stop – but never stopping. The fear is that eventually I’ll realise I’ve been trading for 10 or 20 hours and only got a slightly better ship than the one I started in. And that I’ll spend hours more in that ship trying to get the next ship. Problem is I always want the next ship.

Then you flick around the responsive sci-fi UI that appears when you’re docked and check stock prices before loading up your ship. Closing it down you bring up the galaxy map and plot a course to your destination system. Your ship rotates and elevates up to the launch pad and after a satisfying voice confirmation you’re free to smoothly leave the station, taking care to avoid other ships. Once back into the deep black you carefully line your ship up before engaging the oh so satisfying countdown that is the hyperdrive. Upon exiting hyperdrive you urgently pull away from that system’s star and find the station you want to dock with. Once you approach you request landing permission and make your way to your allocated docking bay, ensuring not to violate any infractions like loitering in busy areas. Your ship is swallowed into the depths of the station and your trip is complete.

It’s a simple trip from A to B back to A again but there’s always something to do. Or at least something to stare at. The knowledge that there is just so much out there to see gives a sensation of scale and isolation that I’ve never felt before. There are dangers even during these basic trading runs. Assuming you don’t get pulled out of faster than light travel to be raided by a pirate, maybe you get caught in the gravity of a star. On one occasion I got too close to a white dwarf and my systems overheated forcibly disengaging my hyperdrive. Suddenly I was sat there staring at a seemingly infinite space travelling at speeds relatively so slow I might as well be stationary. I had to divert all my power to my systems and engage my frame shift drive as quickly as possible to escape the star; although it looked so amazing I was happy to just sit and stare. There’s a vast and intimidating emptiness to Elite: Dangerous that makes the galaxy really feel like a galaxy. It’s a shame you can’t get out at stations and walk around but I guess we’ll just have to wait for another certain space sim for that kind of depth.

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Aside from the scale and uncanny good looks the ships themselves are another reason to keep you coming back. The light, agile fighters and multirole craft feel responsive and elegant. The larger ships and haulers feel heavy and wide, and clearly don’t perform so well in combat. Each ship has clearly had care and attention paid to it which allows the flight mechanics and combat to feel natural. It took me very little time to start flying accurately and the map in the HUD is a joy to use – not an easy thing to get right in 3 dimensions. Arming and firing weapons along with diverting power is another one of those fantastic manual tasks that Elite makes fun. Diverting all power to engines before accelerating and out turning your enemy then shifting power to your weapons before attacking is endlessly entertaining.

Unfortunately the combat can often become a series of head-on attacks, as is so often the case in space simulators. It’s a shame not to have the feeling of proper dogfights even though they’re perhaps not all that realistic for a space sim. But still the combat in Elite feels right especially given the power balancing ‘mini-game’ which lets you really feel like a captain; and every self-respecting sci-fi fan wants that. You can even give voice commands to your ship using a microphone with the right equipment and software.

And there’s good money to be earned in combat completing bounties or hunting down pirates is a good way to make cash. If you’ve got the skill, and the ship to pull it off, it can be much more lucrative than trading. It’s likely you’ll want to do some trading first to get a comfortable cash flow but hunting down pirates is fun. Or even becoming one.

The many modules that you can equip to customize any of your ships allow you to switch easily from trader to mercenary to pirate. Traders might want to go all out for cargo space while mercs will want a warrant scanner to identify targets. Pirates will likely want a cargo scanner to identify valuable ships and an interception module to drag ships out of faster than light travel so they can attack. Obviously it’s not a good idea to take the space equivalent of an articulated truck up against the space equivalent of an F-16 so ship choice plays a big part in deciding your role too.

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Elite: Dangerous is nothing short of spectacular. It’s grand in design and beautiful in execution. Sitting in your cockpit going about the daily grind is uniquely, and superbly entertaining. Exiting hyperspace in the orbit of an enormous, intimidating star looks incredible. Elite: Dangerous doesn’t look to change all that much but instead it makes sure it gets the important things right. The galaxy feels just barren enough to get a sense of scale with enough awesome space stations, stars and other players that it never feels completely empty.

At times the grind can seem endless, and even a little pointless, but Elite: Dangerous cleverly makes things interesting by making what should be boring anything but. With ongoing updates Elite: Dangerous will be amazing. There’s already a good amount of content and a decent community but more ships would be desirable, especially for the mid game. There’s nothing but huge jumps between ships rather than a gradual progression up and there’s rarely much of a choice to be made. It can be a pretty linear path. It’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens in future updates but even as it is Elite: Dangerous is a great space sim with tons of content and an amazing galaxy to explore. But it’s lack of help for new players and intimidating grind will turn plenty of people away from this game.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ve no doubt this won’t be the last time I say it but yearly updates often bore me. Especially when it comes to writing reviews. It gives me no pleasure to write what is essentially the same review each year, carefully treading through the minefield that is my own previously used words. But on occasion yearly updated titles can become a perfected reduction based on the experience of previous titles.

But somehow this seems to be something WWE avoids. Each new title seems able to completely forget the experiences of titles that came before along with the lessons that should have been learned. There’s fun to be had from this genre and in particular from WWE games. I remember having fun, I’m almost sure of it. But recently WWE seems to be trending downwards. So lets get stuck into the low quality cheesy heavy metal (and I say that as a metal fan) and look beyond the sweaty spandex and get stuck into the gameplay.

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Look ma! I can fly!

A few fundamentals have been altered to try and make things less ridiculous looking. We’ve all done it, standing around performing animations that make no sense given the current context. Even the Batman: Arkham titles occasionally see Bruce Wayne jumping on the spot like a petulant toddler.The solution to this in WWE 2K15 is to basically remove any connection you have with the wrestlers and instead implement a strange fixed animation play style. And it works in the sense that you no longer spend any time thinking how stupid it looks when you miss but also removes a fair amount of fun too.

Having played the series for so long this really seems like one of the worst moves they could have made. It’s all well and good having things look shiny and slick but that has to be second to the gameplay. Especially so with a yearly updated title that has done so much right in the past. I’m not even a WWE fan but back when WWE games were in their prime I played them extensively. It was never particularly smooth and wrestlers would run around regularly clawing at nothing. The focus of 2K15 seems firmly set on looks and style over substance.

But never fear! Just when you thought things wouldn’t look ridiculous enter the latest stamina system. Probably the stupidest system ever. The benefits are that spamming slaps will no longer knock Brock Lesnar out. The downside is that after a couple of minutes the wrestlers will potentially be hilariously dragging their feet around the mat and climbing the ropes as if everything was in slow motion. All that previous effort attempting to stop players from standing still hitting the air is completely wasted. This looks far worse. It can only be described as comical.

In terms of the gameplay all it does is slow things down and, beyond stopping the spamming of smaller attacks, really doesn’t add much. You might think that it makes you take careful consideration of what moves to do and when to do them but in reality it just punishes the loser. The less stamina you have the slower you are and the more likely you are to get kicked repeatedly in the face. It’s not the effect on the gameplay so much as the mockery that is the fatigued movement that makes me hate the stamina system.

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I knew it! Feather Boas ARE the manliest thing ever.

Which leads nicely onto what is undoubtedly 2K15’s biggest and most blatant offense. Its lack of features. It’s not like there isn’t enough to do but features that are present on previous WWE games just simply aren’t here. My Career still makes an appearance but basically plays out like a series of lifeless, and more importantly, directionless matches to grind out stats. The story of your superstar isn’t intuitive and barely even feels interactive as you play match after match. But still My Career is probably the go to mode.

Taking a look elsewhere WWE fans will notice the absence of certain game modes. Not being a huge WWE fan these were less obvious to me apart from noticing their absence from previous titles. It’s reasonable to say the missing modes aren’t the most popular but why not include them? Lack of hard drive space? Could the PS4 and Xbox One not handle it? That doesn’t seem likely. It’s just simple laziness. The roster feels lack lustre too and it doesn’t take long for a WWE game veteran or a wrestling fan to notice some further omissions.

One place WWE 2K15 can excel is with visuals. The wrestlers that have been rendered just for the current gen hardware look amazing. Faces are detailed and have amazing likenesses to their real life counterparts. But there’s also a lot of the game that is noticeably ‘last gen’ with assets taken straight from the PS3/Xbox 360 version – even though they are now in 1080p @ 60 FPS. Overall it’s fair to say that 2K15 looks great but when the updated assets come out it’s unavoidably obvious.

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Brock smash.

So WWE 2K15 is another in a long line of disappointing instalments to the franchise. The attention to detail in the current gen faces is incredible but far too much is just reused from the last gen version. The stamina system makes matches grind to a pathetic crawling pace that is nothing but a joke. Features and wrestlers alike are not present from previous instalments which stings a little and just comes across as lazy design. There’s no reason not to have every game mode imaginable in the game. To be honest there would be no harm including a few that aren’t real just for the video games.

My Career is mediocre but provides a reasonable distraction, even though it’s basically just one match after another. WWE 2K15 is an offensive entry to an already stale series of games. The current gen version particularly fails for not making enough use of the hardware. Don’t reuse assets, it’s always obvious and it’s always ugly. This is definitely one to miss.

It makes it clear from the very beginning that Temple of Osiris has no intention of becoming part of new-Lara’s world. Lara is sporting her classic blue tank top, that’s infamously and fashionably a couple of sizes too small. The interaction between the four available characters makes it even more obvious that there isn’t likely to be darkness and intrigue around the corner in Temple of Osiris. So with visions of the new, gritty, Lara aside you can just let yourself work through the game raiding its various tombs and temples.

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You can play as Lara, her friend Carter, Isis or Horus. Depending on how many people are in your team, and what combination of abilities you have available, the way you complete a level will change and the levels themselves even change. The Temple of Osiris is well designed so that you don’t need to play as certain characters or teams just to get through it although there are the usual advantages of playing co-op. Somehow when you play solo it just doesn’t feel right especially considering all the goodies that become out of reach.

Each character has four weapon slots, two rings, an amulet and a costume to equip. There are plenty of rings and amulets to collect and each one makes a noticeable difference to your character. You might have an increased bomb radius at the expense of defence or an increased fire rate at the expense of bomb radius; for example. It becomes a balancing act of trying to find an accessory that has a negative effect on something you’re willing to sacrifice but improves something you want. There are so many combinations that you rarely stop swapping things out and upgrading. There’s a moment were the idea of grinding out temples and earning gems with your co-op partner to earn all those lovely prizes seems like you’ll be playing forever.

There’s a methodical, if not completely unimaginative, design to Temple of Osiris that means you’ll need to raid various tombs and find all the pieces of Osiris, his hand or a foot for example, until you can put him together again. Hopefully then he can take the curse away. It’s not clever or original but for Temple of Osiris it gets the job done. For each ‘main’ temple you’ll often find a puzzle temple which offers up rewards like new guns and a bunch of gems which is more than enough incentive to find them and complete them. But they’re pretty easy and often you’ll spend little to no time figuring out the challenges in them.

For example you might need to blow up a wall using the Ancient Egyptian Big Round Bomb Dispenser™ and a labyrinth of man made streams to divert it to the right place. There’s some nice teamwork involved but (apart from the time it didn’t work) we rarely spent long in the puzzle tombs. It would have been nice to have a decent challenge or at least something mentally taxing but they still provide a reasonable distraction.

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Better yet would be some variation other than rolling around balls that either explode or function as keys that fit into cylindrical slots. I can only assume it’s a link to Egyptian myth but it’s difficult not to feel like your rolling around balls of dung for a living at some points. The core mechanics of Temple of Osiris are solid, relying on puling leavers moving objects into place and standing on platforms among other things. There is a solid base on which Temple of Osiris is founded but its uncomplicated and relatively simple puzzling can be a let down. The absence of a script to translate, or something that justifies some extra secrets to find is also surprising. One secret collectable in each area would have added some welcome intrigue and mystery.

Action is well spaced out between exploring the tombs. There is a multiplier system which doesn’t get in the way but gives you a nice reason not to repeatedly get hit and/or die. Once you’ve unlocked a few weapons you’ll undoubtedly find ‘the gun for you’. Every weapon but the character’s default will use a blue bar representing ammo that can be replenished from enemy drops or fixed pickups. After a short time I stopped using the default weapon religiously and started making real use of the ammo consumers. There’s something strangely satisfying about being an Egyptian god running around with dual MP5s.

Unfortunately I there’s a stiffness to the combat that stopped it from becoming a glorious ballet of left and right thumbsticks. It never hindered the gameplay as such but the combat just didn’t feel as fluid as it could have done. I never felt as connected with my characters movement in a way that something like Dead Nation allows, walking forward flicking the light on your gun from left to right like a member of SWAT. But the controls are responsive enough that you can get your character to do what you want and I never felt let down by a lack of responsiveness.

There are quite a few moments when the combat becomes a tedious engagement of enemies that run at you, usually on fire, as you work in tandem with a friend to take down another enemy with a shield, all the time avoiding the environmental traps. I didn’t feel I had the mobility I wanted when dealing with those combat scenarios. Sometimes it isn’t a problem, other times you lose your combo and die which is just plain irritating.

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The Temple of Osiris does exactly what you’d expect. It’s too short and more often than not too easy with combat that is nothing more than a bit of fun. But somehow it kept me coming back, if only for a little while. There’s a decent loot system that allows you to feel like your character is developing as you raid your way through all the Tombs you can. For a PSN title The Temple of Osiris is exactly what you expect and is a great bit of fun for an easy distraction filled with puzzles. In the couch co-op arena there are few better than Temple of Osiris.

If there’s one thing Telltale Games like to do, it’s telling a good tale. They’ve got the experience from games based on The Walking Dead and The Wolf Amongst Us, so let’s see what happens when they’re given free reign of one of HBO’s most popular shows, Game of Thrones.

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Thankfully, QTE filled action scenes are kept to a minimum

If you’ve never had experience with a Telltale Game of this type, the premise usually revolves around a more advanced, refined and interactive point and click adventure, with the main focuses being on the narrative and how you can affect it due to player made choices. Giving the player difficult decisions that drastically alter the progression of the game is a feature much touted by other games, but here, they feel significantly more substantial.

Due to the game adopting an episodic approach; obviously aping the show it’s based upon, you’ll be jumping between individuals several times over the course of the chapter. Focusing on a new set of characters that are tied to House Forrester, Iron From Ice takes place towards the end of the third season and focuses on their relationship to House Stark. Whilst you begin as Gared Tuttle, a simple squire to Lord Forrester, things quickly take a predictable turn after a spot of encouraging promotional news; it’s not long before you start making a few important decisions to set off the end of the prologue.

Once the familiar theme and corresponding set of opening credits are over, the game opens up in typical Game of Thrones fashion, namely reams of conversation. Those who’ve enjoyed the previous games’ ability to explore around may be a little disappointed, but the majority of the conversational options often more than make up for that. Alongside the new set of characters with their surprising amount of depth, you’ll also run into a couple of the more infamous characters from the show, the ever stimulating Tyrion Lannister and the (ice) Queen Cersei. Both have a reasonable amount of dialogue and represent themselves suitably well, especially in the interactive scenes that involve them.

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Everyone’s favourite Lannister

Alongside the quantities of conversation you’ll participate in, there are also a few smaller sections, much akin to the notorious quick time events of old. Thankfully these are few and far between and only really occur when necessary at the more action packed beginning of the game. As ever in a Telltale game, choices, and their immediate subsequent consequences are rife. You’re never going to be able to please everyone in a situation; plus the added time limit to prepare a response injects a panicky, ‘on the spot’ feeling to proceedings. A helpful indicator, especially at the start when you’re not entirely sure what each person wishes to hear, is presented in the upper corner of the screen notifying you on when you’ve made a significant decision. By the time you’ve completed just this first chapter alone, you’ll have dramatically altered people’s perception of you; making the mind boggle at the potential extent of all those seemingly minor choices stacking up and coming back to haunt you.

Whilst some of the narratives’ segments can seem a little slow or relatively less interesting than others, it’s safe to say, that they’re linked exquisitely to one another as the story progresses. Introducing each character takes just the right amount of time to become invested in their plight and you never seem to linger for too long in any scenario. It’s honestly as well paced as the source material, complete with tense, spiralling situations of which the show’s famous for.

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These two won’t be your friends…

Presentation wise, it will be nothing unexpected if you’re partial to the developer’s latest releases, which is not to say it’s unremarkable. Far from it in fact, Iron From Ice looks great with its stylised visuals. Action oriented scenes seem to lose a little magic but they’re rare and it doesn’t detract from the experience. The voice work is strong, as is also the script, but I suppose that’s to be expected of a franchise of this degree, still it’s nice to hear good voice acting and official music being used throughout.

As ever, so long as you’re vested into the source material, playing a Telltale game dedicated to it will often greatly appeal to you. There’s a potential worry surrounding the franchises staleness and a lack of moving forward with the mechanics and originality, but so long as they keep delivering great interactive stories based on established series, then fans will likely follow suit. It could be interesting to see a game set in their own universe, but it might require a considerable amount more effort; as for now, we’ll have to settle with the frustrating wait for the next ‘episode’ in the series.

If ‘old school’ point and click adventures are your bag, and you’ve either played or watched anything in the past 10-20 years, then Randal’s Monday may well be for you. Brought to us by Daedalic Entertainment and Nexus Game Studios, Randal’s Monday focuses on pop culture references, stabs at humour and the eternal plight of Mondays. Garfield would be proud.

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Starting out easy with a select few interactive items

First things first, Randal’s a bit of a dick, he’s a titular sociopathic kleptomaniac who’s more interested in someone getting the drinks in, than supporting his friends’ upcoming marriage. After the tutorial, consisting of the game letting you wander about in a small area and talking nonsense to your mates for a bit, the story begins to unfold. And, as how every good Monday unfurls, there’s an angry landlord demanding rent at your door.

After spending some time meandering about the flat, marvelling at each and every reference up to, and including Resident Evil herbs, you’ll inevitably acquire classically unfathomable items to combine and use in traditionally ‘unique’ scenarios. Picking out what you can select and what’s just a not so subtle nod to another franchise can be initially tricky, thankfully there’s a key assigned to highlight all the potentially interactive items on screen. After missing a vital component in one of the first areas and being forced to backtrack through each and every stage in true scavenging mode, this soon becomes second nature. As ever, for those who are beyond stuck and have already ripped their hair out, there’s a hint system in place to relieve the woes. With its typical, tongue in cheek style, the game will recommend you to reconsider using the system until such a point where you’re that stuck, you’d quite happily sacrifice a kitten in order to progress. A fact the game repeatedly reminds you of before allowing you to proceed.

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Look at the signpost! Look at it!! Please?

Utilising typical ‘point and click logic’ may be the joy of the game in some people’s eyes, whereas instead, it can and most likely will be, the bane for others. Incongruent puzzles require solutions that are simply not intuitive to the naked eye; no matter how well you half-solve the puzzle, finding the specific way in which the game wants you to progress can be an inevitable head shaking trauma.

On paper the game sounds fantastic, a typical point and click adventure with brilliantly cartoon-esque graphics, a swathe of pop culture references, and a smattering dab of humour. Combine this with the fairly interesting plot, even if it is all too reminiscent of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, and you should be onto a winner. With each subsequent ‘reset’ giving the developers opportunity to create new and interesting passes, it feels a little like a waste of potential at times. Instead of testing your cerebral lump, it instead feels quite content with setting up ridiculous and ‘wacky’ scenarios; all the while Randal throws cringe worthy insults at everyone he comes across. To say he’s crass and just plain unlikeable would honestly be a compliment.

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You’ll be seeing this expression a lot throughout the game

The general artistic flair is pleasing, and will resonate with those who enjoy familiar stylised cartoons. Voice acting is also above par, with recognisable cameos that not only aren’t embarrassing, but are in fact welcome after so much of Randal’s script. The time to work your way through Randal’s Monday will be high; sinking in up to 20 hours is highly feasible. Potentially higher if you can manage not to succumb to the step by step walkthrough offered by the hint system, which of course will be fairly unlikely given the logic behind some of the puzzles.

By all extensive purposes, this isn’t one of Daedalic’s best projects; Randal’s Monday will just be a small blip on their incredibly stellar record. If you can get past Randal’s character and don’t mind the incessant illogical puzzles then, as ever, you can get a lot of fun out it. The production values alone are worth checking out and if you’re into pop culture references, you’ll have a field day reading signposts, shop names and subway stations. Basically every (non)interactive item on the game is a nod to another game; leading you to think that perhaps they could’ve spent more time making this one something to reference instead?

Just when you started saying “you call that a grind Bungie?!”. I’ve got everything I need and I’ve done all the raids and I’m totally bored with Destiny. Well if that describes you you’re in luck. The Dark Below is the first DLC for Destiny and adds quite a few new features that will, in theory, keep you coming back for more. Even if that’s primarily because all your loot is now worthless. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first notable feature is the new Sparrow. I know you’ve all been screaming out for it. A Sparrow that allows you to perform wicked flips. Now when you perform a jump you can roll the sparrow before it lands. It also sports a lovely flame decal that really makes it look like something aimed at kids. I really find the entire thing just so tacky. I haven’t spent as long with my guardian as some but I’ve still invested many, many hours into him and making him look cool. Guardians are serious people who mean business. They’re supposed to be defending against the darkness. A slick black and orange Sparrow with armour plating or a ram or something would fit better. Either way you get a free legendary Sparrow with some nice stats and some useless abilities. Glad I didn’t buy one from the quartermaster.

You also get some nice new crucible maps to keep murdering other guardians entertaining too. And they’re well made and fun. Two of them are brutally tight and really allow matches to become what Destiny does best with abilities being flung around and guardians jumping, blinking and floating everywhere. The other map is a horrible long range map with vehicles all over the place. Being repeatedly shot in the head without a contest is no fun and I personally hate PvP vehicle battles in Destiny. If you like sniping or using vehicles then it’s a great map.

There’s a new vanguard strike too for your PvE craving. Most of my time in Destiny is spent in strike missions with players found in matchmaking. There isn’t really much new or different with the latest strike but it feels every bit as well made and fully featured as the original strikes. It’s particularly useful given all the extra vanguard marks and reputation I’m going to need to at least have one fresh mission to keep things a little more interesting. It’s well designed and just as fun to play as the other strikes.

But a much more significant addition is the raise in the level cap for your light level. You can now make it beyond the old level cap of 30 all the way up to 32. But to do so you’re going to have to get stuck into The Dark Below’s new raid. You’re then going to have to play it extensively to get the items you want because as usual all the best gear is handed out primarily according to luck. And there’s an extra layer of difficulty if you want to reach the lofty heights of level 32. All that gear you finally got from grinding the raid over and over will need levelling up before you get all that lovely light. But you can forget about using those ascendant shards and energies you’ve found. You’ll need ‘radiant’ materials that can only be found in the raid.

So that’s all well and good for the hardcore among us but what about those who don’t have a dedicated raid team waiting for hour after hour of high level Destiny action? Well actually there’s loads for you. I’ve spent a lot of time on Destiny but I still prefer matchmaking. I don’t have a huge amount of online friends and certainly not enough to effectively organize a raid. So I’ve been content with vanguard strikes to get my fill of Destiny.

Well your local neighbourhood vanguard merchant has just what you need. They just so happen to have a new set of armour available that, when upgraded, will get you to level 31. Sure you’ll have to wait for the irritating weekly limit on vanguard, or crucible, marks but other than that you can guarantee your way to 31 and use your ‘standard’ ascendant materials to upgrade them. It’s not about an enormous grind anymore so much as it’s about re-grinding and doing the same things to get very slightly better equipment.

Everything about the latest update to Destiny make me feel like I’ve been wasting my time. Raising the level is one thing but replacing the items that I bought for items that are just plain better for the same cost is punishing me for owning the game earlier than some players. All the ascendant shards I’ve used on armour are now almost completely worthless as I’ll need to replace my armour. So a new player, that hasn’t bought a season pass (you can get to level 31 without owning The Dark Below), can easily be a higher level than someone who played Destiny for days on end and just hasn’t played for a week or two. That seems a little backwards to me.

Everything about Destiny’s latest update devalues everything that you previously earned. It opens up options for more grinding and gives me a good excuse to play some more Destiny, which is never a bad thing, but there really isn’t much value in The Dark Below. The bike is a cheesy gimmick at best and since I’m not ever likely to be able to complete a raid The Dark Below only offers me a few campaign missions that while not bad, don’t make me feel like I got a good deal and some crucible maps.

As with a lot of Destiny Content the raid players get exclusive access to content and everyone else gets nothing. It’s one thing to keep rewards for the hardcore but to exclude others is just unfair. So I get punished for not having enough friends interested in raids. But somehow Destiny manages to make raid players feel robbed at the same time by providing ‘nearly as good stuff’ easily at vendors; and even worse they’re available without paying. This expansion does nothing but alienate and punish those who are dedicated. If you haven’t got much loot and don’t pay for the DLC you’re in the winners group. Everyone else seems to lose in some way.

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