Deception IV Blood Ties PS Vita Review

Deception Banner

Publisher: Tecmo KOEI
Developer: Tecmo KOEI
Platform Reviewed: PS Vita
Release date: 28/03/2014

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you mixed Home Alone with The Pit and the Pendulum? Well, that is what you get from the recent release of Tecmo’s Deception IV. A series which is now 18 years old, the last incarnation showing up on the Playstation 2 nearly 10 years ago.

Blood Ties has you playing the role of Laegrinna, the Devil’s daughter, who is on a quest to collect 12 Holy Verses. Items which were used to imprison her father three thousand years ago. Find them all, the seal will be broken and Satan will be set free. Offering guidance along the way are three demons, Caelea, Veruza and Lilia, all servants to her father.

Whilst you play as the villain of the piece, you may be surprised to learn that you cannot attack foes directly. Instead, you rely on a whole host of ingenious traps with which you lure your victim. These are separated into three categories, Elaborate, Sadistic and Humiliation. All of which can be combined into an incredibly satisfying combo. It is left to your imagination with regards to placement of the said traps and with careful planning and a little bit of trial and error it is possible to vanquish a foe with one, well-constructed sequence.

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Each room is composed of grid which means placing traps is a very simple process. Once positioned a trap will take a few seconds before it can be activated, which is done manually either by a press of a button or by using the Vita’s touchscreen. There are different characteristics to each trap, some will lock an enemy in place others will hurl them across the room, some will cause shock damage others will impale or blind. Certain enemies are more resistant to specific traps than others which encourages experimentation.

To coincide with user placed traps there are also environmental hazards which can be used to further annihilate your opponent. Rivers of molten lava, falling chandeliers, crocodiles and even a clown which use its mouth as a canon make an appearance and are a welcome addition. It is very satisfying when a carefully considered, complex layout results in a foe being impaled, crushed, stabbed and burnt in one unrelenting combination of attacks. All of which is vital if you want unlock more varied traps. Each successful attack results in an award in the form of ARK, a currency used in the game to unlock more rewards. The more complicated and extensive the sequence, the more ARK is gained. Again, this encourages variation and experimentation.

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Graphically Deception is competent, it’s not pushing the Vita to limits by any means but, it is certainly not an ugly game. The colour palette is a little bland and the repetitious use of enemies can lead to the whole experience feeling a little stale after a while. This is complemented however, by the excellent soundtrack. The original Japanese voice acting has been retained and the sound effects which accompany each stage are splendid. The sound of well-timed traps scything through flesh and the screams of anguish are all very gratifying, if a little disturbing.

To complement the story there is also a mission mode with 100 standalone challenges with various objectives. Whether you are tested to kill a foe within a strict time limit or slay them with a particular trap or sequence, each getting progressively harder than the last, this will keep you going for a while. There is also a Free Battle mode where you can arrange your own scenario to practise and experiment until your heart’s content or, if you so desire, download other people’s created scenes, a great addition if you have friends up for the challenge.

Yes, graphically, it could be better and the save system should be more user friendly, particularly for a handheld. It is also possible to complete each stage with one well-placed set of traps but, to be honest, if you’re doing that way you’re missing the point. If you can forgive or ignore Deception IV’s minor shortcomings, you will find it has a lot to offer.

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Reviewer – MrBadDog

The Breakout Preview & Interview

The Breakout Banner

At the turn of the century it was undeniable that the golden age of Point and Click Adventure games was well and truly over.  With its core audience getting older, new gamers gravitating towards the dominating Playstation and not a touchscreen device in sight. The once steady flow of point and click games from studios like Sierra Online and LucasArts, that gave both me and countless others hours of enjoyment, had gradually dried up.

Fastforward fifteen or so years, and we have titles like ‘The Walking Dead’ winning game of the year awards, indie developers springing up left right and centre and people can’t seem to get enough of anything remotely retro. From full on remakes- as in Monkey Island, to the irrepressible Tim Schafer and Double Fine bringing brand new Point and Click games to market.  The genre that has clearly influenced some of the best games of the last fifteen years is most definitely in resurgence.

I mention the Walking Dead because for a whole generation of gamers that’s probably as close to a Point and Click Adventure that they have got.  But the diversity of games that have a common thread of DNA from these gaming relics is endless, pretty much anything Bioware has done and even games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted can all be traced back to the likes of Monkey Island, The Dig, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Loom, Police Quest, the list is endless.

And so we come to The Breakout.  A  new Point and Click Adventure game currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, which has also just been Greenlit on Steam. The game clearly harks back to the good old days but has both its feet firmly planted in the here and now.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to have a chat with Adam Jeffcoat, the games director, animator and artist. Turns out he’s rather a nice chap, extremely engaging and very passionate about the game, that for him, has been brewing at the back of his mind since 1986.

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PL:  So were here to chat about the game; The Breakout.  Do you want to start by just telling us a little bit about it?

AJ:  I remember playing Oceans version of The Great Escape on my friends Spectrum ZX when I was about 8 years old.  It was just a little, and looking back very basic, isometric game that involved walking round the camp.

I was absolutely fascinated by the idea that you could sneak around this place, against the rules and concoct this escape plan without the guards knowing about it.  There was something about it that just hooked me and stayed in the back of my mind.

And now all these years later, having done animation in TV and film I felt like I wanted to get into games as a way of telling a story essentially, and the story is The Breakout.

PL: So its kind of like an extension of what you’ve already been doing in animation, just a different medium for you?

AJ:  I would so say yes. Just the fact that you get to play the main character, and obviously games like The Secret of Monkey Island did that so well, it just pulls you into this captivating world by telling a film type story within the game.

I got to the stage where I thought I’ve got the skills and the know-how, to at least attempt a point and click type adventure game and it felt like the perfect time to take that little seed The Great Escape planted in my mind and see if I can make it work.

PL: So its definitely a case that idea for the game came first and you set up the studio last year with this particular game in mind?

AJ: That’s right I met Vincent Kamp, who’s now the Creative Producer at Pixel Trip Studios, It turned out we both had similar ideas about wanting to create projects that we were into and hopefully our audience would be to.  So we got chatting and Vince said this Great Escape game sounds right up my street so he wanted to put some funding in to get the pitch for the game together.

Our intention is to try and tell really captivating stories through games, and the point and click genre felt like the perfect starting point.

PL: Going back to point and click games, in the 80’s and 90’s they were everywhere.  In the last 10 or so years they haven’t really been around.  There are a lot of games out there that whilst not strictly point and click, they do share a lot of ideas, such as TellTale Games Walking Dead.  Are games like this a good way to get people interested in the genre?

AJ: Yes I would say so.  There are also a couple of games out there, especially on the iPad that work really well, it helps being able to click and press on the screen.  A game I played recently called Machinarium which did a great job recreating that point and click feel.  I was certainly aware going into this, it could potentially be a niche market.  On one hand there was going to be a group of fans, similar in age to me who grew up with point and click games.

PL: Your Monkey Islands, Loom, Sam & Max. Games like that?

AJ:  Exactly, everyone remembers those games fondly.  But we looked at what had changed to see why the genre dropped off.  With modern technology these days no one wants to wait around for more than 5 seconds for things to load.  The point and click scenario where you have these puzzles that can take a while to work out, you then have to potentially walk all the way back across a few levels to pick something up that you might have forgotten and then come all the way back to use it. Peoples patience just won’t stand for it anymore.

PL: People are wanting more immediate reaction to what they do then?

AJ: Yes, a lot of games nowadays are all about insane action and shooting.  It feels like the pacing of those older click and point games are part of the problem.  One of the things we’ve set out to do with The Breakout is to try and create a sense of urgency within the gameplay.  There is always going to be a guard around the corner who could catch you. Moving spotlights that will catch you if you don’t get a move on.  We are trying to take the genre and update and modernise it by giving giving a bit of urgency to whatever you’re doing.

PL: The older point and click games were very linear, puzzles could only be solved a certain ways. I’m guessing that with The Breakout being about escaping the camp,  there will be different ways you can achieve this goal?

AJ: We didn’t want to just create a linear storyline.  Some of the older games did provide multiple ways of solving puzzles but the outcome was always the same.  We thought about what would bring people back to the game, straight away we thought of the idea that you can escape in more than one way.  We researched real life escapes we found that there was a whole wikipedia section about it. Some of the things we found were quite amazing, we could use them directly in the game and not have to sort of ‘Hollywood’ them up.

The plan is that you can team up with the other prisoners in the camp, depending on their skill set, that will dictate what kind of escape attempt you will make. So if you did manage to escape you can go back and try with one of the other prisoners and see how it changes.  It was important to add replay value, you can potentially scrap a breakout attempt halfway through if you’re finding a particular puzzle tough and try it a completely different way.

PL: So what happens if you get caught? Is it game over and you have to restart or do you have to come up with a new plan?

AJ: We really liked the mechanic in the original Great Escape game, when you got caught by the guards all of your equipment would be confiscated and you would basically be thrown into the cooler, just like in the movies. It seems like the perfect way to punish the player for getting caught without restarting from the beginning.  So instead of starting from scratch the player has to steal his equipment back, then crack on with his escape plan.

PL:  On the Kickstarter you describe The Breakout as a click and point game for adults with a captivating story and real consequences.  In the animation demo reels there is clearly a lot of humour too. How are you going to balance these things?

AJ: That comes from the way the movie The Great Escape was approached. Its almost like a black comedy in a way. The subject matter was very real and in real life the prisoners were treated very harshly in the POW camps. But it felt like there needed to be a little bit of comedy to sort of keep the morale up.  The last thing we wanted to do was to create a game that was depressing.

PL: Nazi’s and the supernatural seem to go hand in hand, the Kickstarter drops hints of the occult, can you go into it in any more depth?

AJ:  I don’t want to give away any spoilers but another big influence for me was Raiders of the Lost Ark, if we were being completely factual about POW camps it could  be too realistic.  The Nazis obsession with the occult lets us bring a bit of the supernatural into the game and a real twist story wise.

PL: Clearly point and click games aren’t about speed-running, but how many hours of gameplay can we expect from The Breakout?

AJ:  The plan is that if you play the game from start to finish it will leave you as satisfied as if you’ve watched a full length film. Two to three hours of pure gameplay, but with working out puzzles it will amount to a lot longer than that.

PL: Your stretch goals on Kickstarter focus solely on improving the game, and you decided against offering physical rewards such as posters or dog tags.  Why is that?

AJ: On a previous project I did, we offered physical books of artwork and things like that.  Logistically it creates a huge amount of work, essentially you have to create the rewards, ship them out and just the man hours alone is a huge drain on our resources.  With this project we aimed to try and keep everything digital, which means we can focus entirely on the game.

PL: Its down for release on Windows, Mac and Linux.  You spoke earlier about how point and click works well with touch screens, have you got any plans to aim for other platforms?

AJ: Our plan is to push for those three platforms to start, it would be relatively easy to port it to iOS and Android, I think it would fit well on tablets.  I personally play more on consoles than PC, so as a buyer I’d love to see it on a console.  If we hit our Kickstarter targets we’d look at these as potential stretch goals.

PL: There’s a gameplay video up on your Kickstarter page, there’s also mention that you want to try and get a playable demo out before the Kickstarter ends.  Any Idea on when this might be available?

AJ: The plan was to have it ready near to the launch of the Kickstarter, its been a bit more work than we originally thought as we basically have to make a small game.  We are hoping to get it out towards the end of April so there will still be a couple of weeks to run on the Kickstarter. Trailers are all well and good to peak interest but having a demo is the best way to convince people of your product.

 

I’m really rather excited about The Breakout, its an immediate throw back to some of my favourite childhood games, but with modern ideas.  Its looks fantastic and sounds equally as good.  I’m hopeful that games like this can introduce a whole new generation to Point and Click Adventures.

The story lends itself to tense and nail biting moments that the developer- Pixel Trip Studios are clearly aiming for. But lets face it, no Point and Click game would be complete without a healthy sprinkling of humour, which is amply supplied by both the good guys and the dreaded prison guards.

It’s helped along by a fantastic hand-drawn art style which is clearly playing to the teams experience in animation.

The characters really do have a personality all of their own, the demo reel animations hint at the light-hearted nature that’s needed in such a bleak environment, it’s a good match between the soberness of the situation the prisoners find themselves in and the morale that keeps them going.  Add a cracking soundtrack which really captures the atmosphere, and The Breakout is shaping up to be one of my most anticipated games this year.

Check out the KickStarter here

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2084621640/the-breakout

Viva la Breakout! 

 

Nether PC Preview

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Nether PC

Developer: Phosphor Games Studio

Publisher:  Phosphor Games Studio

Frugal Gaming’s UglyGeezer takes his boys down some back alleys and shows them his new Nether regions, as the latest update of Nether opens up a large new chunk of the map.

So there I was, hanging on in there. My craving to wander in a wasteland, scavenge for food and avoid any local bandits. Nope, this wasn’t me on my way to do some shopping in my lovely peasant filled locale of East London. Oh no,  this was my hunger and wait for the DayZ standalone reaching the end of its tether in October 2013.

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I saw it appear on the Steam Store and it rang some bells, I remember reading a preview on the PC Gamer website and I have to admit my gaming G-spot became a little moist.

So around Halloween time, 2013, I was almost giving up hope! The DayZ Standalone release was seeming to become as unlikely as an unlikely thing on international unlikely day. I took the plunge and paid (I think it was £20 at the time) for the Nether Beta. Here was Phosphor Game’s first mistake, calling it a Beta. The game was early access, the game was incredibly accomplished for an early access game and for all intents and purposes the framework for a very good game was there. But it wasn’t a Beta. A Beta to me implies the last stage and Nether at that point wasn’t.

In short- Nether is an urban survival game of Player versus Player (PvP ) and Player versus environment (PvE). The PvP aspect offers up all the survival elements expected from this genre; hunger, the need to find food, weapons and ZOMBIES! Erm…. no, not Zombies, let’s have some teleporting aliens instead in many shapes and sizes. These creatures are of course called Nether and hence the games name! Whereas PvP elements just offers that fact that often it’s much easier to kill another player for food and loot. There are idiots that will shoot anyone on sight, and for a lot of people this has been a problem. For myself, I learned how to sneak around and stick to the shadows.

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I was actually completely enamoured. Nether played quite well, filled my survival craving and the whole concept actually worked. The urban environment oozes atmosphere, with one of the selling points being high rise buildings that could be entered and explored, bringing something new. I spent well over 60 hours playing in the city, mainly as a sneaky lone ranger, sometimes teaming up with friendly players.

Where Nether really veered away from the DayZ template was not just teleporting aliens and an urban environment, but central hubs (safezones) where you could take your looted goodies, sell and buy at a shop. It also has a RPG levelling up system and permadeath. Apparently, this was similar to the dreaded whore of gamedom….

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ZOMG, lets have a drama!

Now things got really messy for Phosphor Games. To start with, a silly man who had the privilege to play a very early closed session, ended up recording a damning YouTube video comparing the game to WarZ. Then emerging from this cloud of brown guff, hordes of angry pitchfork wielding simple folk besieged the Steam and official Nether forums, proclaiming that Phosphor Games were in fact the makers of WarZ in disguise! They even had proof! The lawyer that applied for copyright on Nether was the same one as WarZ. The internet had tried and doomed Nether in a matter of weeks.

Common sense dictates these type of lawyers deal with hundreds of games and are essentially freelance, but who needs common sense on the interwebs.

I felt sorry for Phosphor Games. They had created something potentially special, they were undoubtedly wanting to reach out to their community and be led by what their community wanted  from the game, but instead they were being bombarded with these silly accusations and many gamers were foolishly believing them.Nether was a diamond in the rough and did need direction, Phosphor really listened to their community. Many loved the PvP, many loathed it and begged for PvE servers. How could you appease both sides and not ruin the whole concept of their vision. Well, Phosphor do seem to be trying ideas out all the time.

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They did try a few ideas, one idea was a blood meter just using as an example. The more people you kill, the more blood on your hands, the more blood on your hands, the smellier you are and Nether would come hunting. It didn’t work out, a good few ideas haven’t. But it does highlight that this development team is listening and trying. There have been many problems, but the guys at Nether seem to have really been on the ball with addressing them and attempting making something unique.

There have been a few updates since my last foray into Nether. Now with new regions of the map  opened up, new clan systems introduced with territory domination and capturing implemented, escort missions already in game, collecting remains of Nether to craft. The world of Nether is now a lot more involved than scavenging around solely for food, avoiding bandits, or looking for victims.

So a group of us from Frugal Gaming decided to venture back in together for a couple of nights to see what we thought of Nether, nearly six months on from the initial early release and for some, their first thoughts on playing Nether.

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DayZ has spawned many clones since its inception. This is something that we’re all aware of. Many have been awful cash-ins (*cough* WarZ *cough*) – however, one stands above the rest as something that has come into its own. Nether started as a humble DayZ-alike, but has developed into something entirely of its own. It’s varied enemy types, RPG-like experience and levelling system and genuine direction (my one big gripe with DayZ being how lost you can feel among the vast landscape with very little to do) are refreshing – with survival and exploration remaining the backbone of gameplay. It’s extremely enjoyable, and very different – and if you have the time to put into it and get some levels and experience behind you, it can be a very different and rewarding experience.

Mark Kerry

Nether is a great survival thriller and is quite Fallout-esque, in a present tense kind of way. You definitely need to play with friends to benefit fully (or even survive the first few levels of your characters progression!) as you will face not only the enemies of the Nether but also the trolls of the internet who will be higher level than you and will kill you just for fun. There are some really interesting ideas here all tucked away nicely in a gorgeous, decimated city waiting to be explored. This is definitely one to watch, what’s on offer right now is a taste of what to come, showcasing great potential – this game will keep you guessing!

PridedLlama

With my expectations low I was pleasantly surprised by Nether.  It’s as rough as a badgers arse but the foundations, ideas and mechanics that have been laid down are promising.  As a complete noob to the game, it wasn’t immediately the most accessible experience, but with a little hand holding things started to fall into place.  With the success of other online early access titles it would be easy for this one to slip through the cracks and never see full release, I really hope this isn’t the case. It made for a refreshing diversion to our regular DayZ sessions, and I’ll definitely be back for more.

Karlos Morale

The post-apocalyptic world is a familiar trope, but Nether manages to shape its own bleak future into a fun playground for the brave explorer. Graphically, the ruined city with hostile aliens and humans of dubious intention is evocative of Half Life 2. It’s pleasing to see how many of the buildings and rooftops are accessible to the player; knife-fights in and around dilapidated buildings could be a thrilling experience – especially when the unpredictable Nether creatures join the fight.

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Nether has spawned alongside a number of survival horror games trying to make it’s name within the genre. A post-apocalyptic urban jungle, where death hunts you down either by the unpredictable creatures who inhabit the land or the even more unpredictable human survivalists. A safe zone can temporarily allow you to drop your guard but caution must remain high as you scavenge to source food and weapons to remain alive, teamwork is not necessary, but joining a tribe could increase your chance of survival considerably.

From my trial session I can see this game has a lot of potential and some well presented ideas, and if they can keep the momentum going with the community driven updates, it could be the benchmark in this increasing world of survival horror games, I’d fully recommend giving Nether a trial if the opportunity presents, and I look forward to seeing what the final product will offer.

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My Final Thoughts.

Nether has evolved a hell of a lot these past six months, some of it confusing, some of it seemingly spot on. It’s hard to please everyone and of course impossible. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game be led by its community so much. Phosphor Games without doubt are listening to what people want and are trying new ideas out constantly. Massive updates have happened and more are to follow and new ideas being tinkered with all the time. There’s a danger in democracy, too many voices wanting different things, but their approach has been measured and thoughtful.

The game still has masses to fix, but unlike many early access games in this genre, Nether is more than playable. The price now is a measly £10.99. Any PC player that likes the genre would be mad not to give this a try.

Review: Shin Megami Tensei (iOS)

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The Shin Megami Tensei series is one that has begun to receive a little bit more acclaim in more recent years, thanks in part to the success of Persona 4 Golden on the PS Vita and the release of entries into the franchise on Nintendo’s 3DS. Numerous entries however have eluded western shores for quite some time including the very first title.

First released onto the Super Famicom in 1992 and ported to a number of systems in Japan from the Mega CD to the Playstation, Gameboy Advance and more recently Playstation Network/Virtual Console releases. The title has finally made its way to western lands via the iOS format.

Shin Megami Tensei is an RPG in which you, the hero, must traverse dungeons with a party of up to five others fighting monsters and unraveling the various mysteries. It is set in what was back then modern day Tokyo, in the year 199X and Demons have found their way onto Earth. As the hero you have a few tricks up your sleeve including being able to converse with and even recruit the demons to fight for you via the Devil Summoning Programming you acquire in the early stages of the game.

The first question many will ask when it comes to the game is how does it handle on the iOS format? The answer is incredibly well. However there are a few oddities that may take people some getting used to. First of all to explain how the game works, it is a port from previous versions, not a remake or re-mastered edition, what you see on screen is what those who played on the Famicom, GBA, etc would have played. This means you don’t get fancy touch controls or improvements to the graphics, the game is also controlled via a virtual gamepad, but due to the nature of the game it works because you don’t really require any sort of advanced controls.

Shin Megami

There are two modes in which to play, portrait and landscape. My personal preference was portrait as I felt the virtual gamepad looked better in that mode, but it really makes no difference. This is manually set however and not automatically set based on how you are holding your device at the time.

This is where we come to one of the games problems, because this is a direct port of a game made in 1992 we lack a lot of the modern and more user friendly ideas games have today. There is no lengthy tutorial explaining what to do, there are no direction arrows or indicators telling where to go and no proper explanation of controls. There is however a link in game to a website which acts as a user-guide for the title. The major problem with this however is not everyone who uses a tablet or android device uses it in proximity of Wi-Fi nor do they always have 3G/4G enabled devices. What this means is should you download the game and decide to head out for a journey and play it along the way you’re unable to access any proper sort of help for it unless you’re able to get an internet connection.

It’s a minor problem considering the amount of public Wi-Fi available to us all now, the option for tethering on phones, but it is still a possible issue and the decision to make the manual hosted online rather than downloaded along with the game is a somewhat perplexing one.

With this issue aside the game handles fine on the iOS format, it feels natural, nothing feels lost in the transition.

When compared to contemporary titles Shin Megami Tensei feels fairly unique. There are two methods of play, an overworld in which you traverse the city of Tokyo and the dungeon mode in which you traverse dungeons in first person but experience random turn-based battles. The closest modern game I can think of that matches the style, at least as far as the dungeons go would be Legend of Grimrock or Might & Magic X, but even those two have very differing ways of play. Due to this being a game from 1992, it does show its age significantly but it has a particular charm to it and the dungeons do still manage to create a sense of atmosphere. The battles however leave a bit more to be desired, again due to the age of the game there is little going on in a battle beyond your enemy appearing, choosing an attack and so on. There is minimal animation and screen effects but the sprites are nicely drawn and again have this unique style that I’ve only seen in Shin Megami Tensei games.

Unfortunately another significant detail that makes the game show its age is that it can be a bit of a grind-fest at times. There is a difficulty curve here with some of the bosses and of course players will have to do their fair share of grinding, even on the earlier dungeons.

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As mentioned the battle system is a mostly turn-based affair but it offers a good amount of flexibility in how you attack even by today’s standards. You can naturally just attack if you desire, you can use magic or guns to attack your enemies or you can make use of the Demon summoning system that the game offers. With this you can recruit demon’s into your party and have them fight for you, or you can negotiate with demons in order to gain resources for your weapons or future summoning. As has become a staple of the SMT games you are not limited to just recruiting and summoning but also a flexible fusing system is offered allowing you to fuse two weaker demons to create a new one.

Another interesting aspect is the ability to shape your characters when they level up. Instead of automatically assigning points you do it manually, meaning you can have some characters focused on particular styles of play, and create your own classes as it were.

When it comes to re-releases such as these there are usually a number of concerns. Has the game aged well or is it only worth checking out for historical/nostalgic purposes? Does its mechanics hold up well today?  Aside from the obvious graphical ageing, Shin Megami Tensei is a game that has held up well and is well worth playing. While some features may have aged not so well it remains a top RPG and is worth your money and iOS device space.

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Formats: iOS
Price: £3.99
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Atlus

Krautscape – An Early Access Preview

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As ever – be warned. Krautscape is still very early in development and as such expect more features and content to be added after this preview was written. Despite this, the game is polished and tidy, with absolutely no performance issues or crashes – although it is a little light on content at the time of writing and there are a few things that don’t quite work yet.

Krautscape is a rather refreshing take on the racing genre – throwing the free-form ability of flight into the mix and allowing the player in the lead to actively generate the ‘track’. It’s smooth, stylised graphics and unique premise set it apart from other racers currently on the market – albeit without conforming to the current trend towards soft body physics simulation and crashes. Steam’s Greenlight programme is to thank for it hitting Early Access.

I was interested in the concept of the game even before first playing, being an enjoyer of the odd racer – and the freedom of flight is a constant fascination.

When playing the game for the first time I’d highly recommend digging into the tutorials, as the gameplay can be extremely confusing without a little explanation.

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You are then introduced to the features that set Krautscape aside from the crowd – piece by piece. First comes the standard driving. As all cars are (currently) identical, they all handle the same. Nothing special here, simple and serviceable. You begin to notice the art style – grainy and stylised, with rich colours and a fascinating minimalism. There’s nothing here to distract you from your goal, or sway your focus from the track ahead (or above or behind or below…).

Then comes track creation. This is where things begin to get interesting. As the race leader – you are charged with creation of the track. This is achieved through use of large gates – when you pass through, another section of track is generated with another gate at the end of it. Depending on your physical position on the raceway – centre, left & right, extreme left & right – different sections of track  pop into existence. To aid with this, the raceway is colour coded into sections, and the system is far easier to use than it initially seems. There’s something distinctly satisfying about a quick application of brakes and a sharp swing over to the opposite side of the track to that which your opponents were expecting, forcing them to stop and reconcile or fly off the track completely.

This would be the end of their race – were it not for the other of Krautscape’s flagship features. Flight.

The feather-like appearance of the top of the vehicles suddenly makes sense as, during the latter section of the tutorial, the game prompts you to hold (space, in the case of mouse and keyboard) and unfurl your wings. Momentum becomes extremely important, and the seemingly desolate world your track inhabits opens up; a playground of limitless space.

At first there appears to be no practical use of said wings other than swooping to correct a fall from the track – until obstacles are introduced. Hitting ‘boost’ sections on the track whilst in first place will throw you forward, also creating a wall just behind you. Other players can take the risk of boosting if they please – but there’s always the chance they’ll time their turn or swoop into the air badly and end up thudding into the wall. When the track snakes around (*seewhatIdidthere*) and meets itself, jumps will form to cross the pre-existing raceway that can only be crossed by a well-timed use of flight. Carry too little momentum and risk dropping off the track entirely with no way to recover…

Thus begins Krautscape.

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Dan! What, exactly, is it though?

It’s a difficult one to assign a genre to, really. To simply call it a racer is probably a little unfair, as the simple freedom and fun of flight often overtake the want to actually race – but that’s what it is at it’s heart. The focus here is definitely on competitive multiplayer (at it’s best with the maximum 4 players) – with no solo play to speak of other than the aforementioned training course and a free build practice mode. This would be absolutely fine (and indeed is when other players are found) however simple things like being able to play online with friends would be useful. There’s an option for LAN or splitscreen play – and even a way to utilise LAN to play online, but it requires typing in one another’s IP addresses (handily displayed on the screen whilst in lobby). Again, that would be fine – except that currently myself and Bwortang (also of Frugal) haven’t managed to get it to work. We were simply getting presented with broken menus and buttons that did nothing. All part of Early Access, but something to keep in mind.

That’s all well and good, but what REALLY makes it stand out?

There are three game modes available at present – Snake, Ping Pong and Collector.

Snake consists of the players racing to maintain the lead – with the player in first (as normal) creating the track. The twist is that the track is limited in length to just a few sections – so being too far behind can result in the floor coming out from under your vehicle. Points are scored by passing gates in first.

Ping Pong has a similar system – except that the length of the track is constantly increasing and players are sent back and forth along it, collecting points for passing gates in first.

Collector offers something a little different – allowing almost complete freedom of track creation as players battle to force the raceway towards collectible objects in the level. Flying, driving, falling – how you get there is up to you.

That, really, is what makes Krautscape enjoyable and sets it apart from it’s kin. Freedom. Moments of tense despair are created by the unpredictable nature of other players – you’ll be a hair’s breadth from a gate, only to have another player land atop you from an aborted divebomb – before both being flummoxed by a third player swooping through the gate from entirely the opposite direction.

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Early Access though, right?

Yes. This is something that really has to be considered with Krautscape. What content is there is very polished and functional – but there simply isn’t a great deal of it at current. This may be negated entirely if the player base picks up, but I had the occasional trouble finding one player to join – let alone three. To make matters worse – some things (like joining friends on multiplayer) simply don’t work currently, and there is evidence of unfinished menus etcetera. It’s a shame, as there’s plenty of potential there for a fantastic little racer that sits outside the norm and a lot of people could enjoy. Performance-wise, on my system (4770k @ 4.2GHz, 780Ti @ 1300MHz) the game runs well beyond 200FPS at 1440p with everything turned all the way up. I didn’t notice a single drop in framerate or crash during my time playing it.

All in all – this is going to be down to personal preference. For racing fans, I’d wholeheartedly recommend giving it a go for the £5.59 it currently is on Steam. It’s a bargain for what could be an exceptionally fun little game if some of the bugs are sorted out. If it piques your interest – there’s a good chance it’s worth your time. It may, however, pay to hold off a little and see where it goes as development continues.

Developer:  Mario von Rickenbach/Playables LLC 

Publisher: Midnight City

Available Now Via Early Access on Steam for PC and Mac

 

Insurgency Review

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Developer: New World Interactive

Publisher: New World Interactive

Available: Now on Steam for PC/Mac £10.99

Based on a 2007 mod for the ever popular, if slightly creaking source engine.  Insurgency is a team focused multiplayer FPS available on Steam.  With the shooter genre as saturated as Frugal Daz’s pants at the launch of a new Apple product, does Insurgency offer anything to make it stand out from the crowd?

Diving In The Deep End

I took my first tentative steps into Insurgency within the tutorial mode, considering that lots of multiplayer shooters offer you the opportunity to cut your teeth with a single player campaign, it appeared to be a welcome inclusion in the solely multiplayer focused game.  The training section was nearly as far as I got, its a woeful broken mess.  I can forgive the fact that the instructor during this segment it quite simply the worlds best ventriloquist, I swear his lips never moved once! What is unforgivable however, is the myriad of bugs that more often than not leave you unable to complete the training.

Events fail to trigger- leaving you stuck between objectives and woe betide you if a grenade accidentally kills you, you’ll have to start the whole thing again.  The tutorial leaves me grateful that a single player campaign isn’t part of the package, I dread to think what a mess the developers would make of it if they can’t handle a half hour training exercise.

Insurgency Urban

Fools Rush In

So! On to the bread and butter of the game.  It offers twelve maps; five adversarial modes with a couple of co-op options and all are available from the off.  If you’re expecting the shoot, kill, get killed then re-spawn mechanic like other shooters, Insurgency definitely isn’t for you.  Nearly all the game modes revolve around capturing, defending or attacking enemy control points, called supply points in this game.  If you die, which believe me you will, spectator mode will be the only sport on offer here – until your team manages to achieve one of the aforementioned objectives. All of your vanquished team mates will then re-spawn, with the idea that as a squad, you advance on the objectives once more.

The reasoning behind this cycle of life and death is a clear push to promote good team work, however in nearly 10 hours of playing, I’ve yet to hear anyone in my teams communicate, despite me incessantly blathering on into my microphone.

Its both the harsh reality of death, where one shot can and will kill you. Coupled with the strict re-spawn system that will leave you as a spectator, more than playing. It left me wishing that the developers had included a standard game mode with quicker re-spawns.  Whilst against the whole ethos of the game, it would at least allow players more hands on time with both maps and the actual game itself. By doing this, the learning curve would not be quite so frustrating, enabling you to actually be effective in all the other modes without having to sink  in tens of hours.

Insurgency Sniper

Are You Ready?

At the start of each match players choose which discipline they want to be, different classes have different weapons, so you won’t end up facing off against a team of all out snipers etc. However, if a team-mate chooses ahead of you, you may well end up playing a class you’re not comfortable with.

Upon selecting a specialisation, players can then equip their solider how they see fit. Everything in your load-out, from the guns themselves, attachments, explosives, side arms and armour have a points cost with ten points available to spend.  This does lead to a lot of variety, but for some incomprehensible reason, an option to save your load-outs or tweak them from the main menu is strangely absent.  Having to alter this every match really is a tiresome endeavour, in fact I’ve now given up and just stick to the pre-baked options, definitely an opportunity missed.

Back Street Affair

The twelve maps where the action takes place and bullets bullets will be flying are pretty much split between urban area’s, with predictable choke points and more rural open spaces, where snipers and marksmen rule.  The tight alleyways and thoroughfares tend to work better, but you will find yourself battling over the same piece of dirt in repeat plays of the same map.  On the flipside the outdoor areas feel very unfocused, you’re much more likely to die before you even spot the enemy.  If you are not quick enough to select the Sniper or Marksman class you’ll be back in that spectator mode before you know it.

None of the maps really stand out, graphically or in terms of game-play, which combined with problems already mentioned make it hard to learn the intricacies of each area.  I found them generic at best and boring at worst – devoid of the dynamic and engaging ebb and flow of combat that can be found in other tactical shooters.

How Does It Feel?

Glitchy.  I checked the store page more than once to make sure I wasn’t missing the fact that this was a beta release, unfortunately its not. Whilst shooting, aiming down the sights and turning all feel natural. In fact I’d go as far to say that it offers some poor weapon handling, its let down by shonky movement controls.

The games slow pace of movement is intentional, however I’m pretty sure if I was dashing around under fire, I’d move my backside a bit faster than if I was running for the bus.  At times it feels as if you’re playing on a thin sheet of ice, your character movement feels a bit floaty,  like you’ve had one too many Babycham down the local discotheque, which may explain my next issue.

Having never been in a fire-fight, I can’t comment with any authority, but I’m pretty sure I’d manage to get through a door without hitting the frame.  The same goes for just about any element in the environment, hug a corner too tightly and you come to a full stop. Moving around a trash can? Forget it.  A fallen log? Better find another way. Cover, which is a rather useful thing in FPS, especially when the game is modelled on realistic damage, is a complete pain in the backside.  It’s better off avoided altogether unless you intend to camp in one spot.  It’s things like this that completely took me away from full immersion after the game has managed to build so much immersion up.

Insurgency Inside

Without Conclusion

So it sounds pretty shit right? Well for all its faults, I do keep going back for more.  The intense but short battles that can occasionally unfold, are at times absolutely captivating.  Cautiously advancing though the maps to enemy objectives, trying not to run blindly into the muzzle of an assault rifle- really does build atmosphere.  I think the pay-off for playing with your friends, (like in Payday 2 as an example), would be huge.  However the game just doesn’t feel complete or quite competent enough for me to recommend that any of them to purchase it, at least not yet.

I’ve struggled and also been reluctant to score this game, it definitely feels like a beta and not a polished end product. This is however, a full release. I will will watch with interest as the developer updates it, at the minute its a solid if rather sloppy game, but it is chock full of potential waiting to be fulfilled.

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Everything Wrong With Titanfall

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First things first- I absolutely love this game, so before you get the wrong idea and call me a fanboy you should bear that in mind.

This game is another that came with high expectations, with people blowing bubbles up its arse left, right and centre. Being dubbed “the CoD killer”, it really had to give an experience of fresh air to the FPS genre. For the most part it delivers, and what it does deliver on it does perfectly. But, to me, there are aspects of the game which feel rushed, disappointing and lacking in the variety department.

The campaign-which is just a collection of multiplayer matches with a bit of extra dialogue, feels like a last minute addition that to me felt less than a half-arsed attempt. The small dialogue sections are entirely pointless, ultimately you’re just playing a collection of Attrition and Hardpoint Domination. The teams are locked in so if your team are entirely new to the experience and absolutely useless, expect to lose every game in the entire “campaign”.

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The distinct lack of Titan variety, considering that titans are a massive part of what makes this game so fresh. They have really skimped in this department, with only three to choose from, two of which are unlocked by playing both sides of the (collection of matches) “campaign”. The only real choice is the Ogre Titan, with the highest defence. Whilst three is a good number in terms of variety, I think with this game three is just not enough. The addition of future Titans is something that has been ruled out as “too much work to undertake”. With how much this game relies on Titans to sit worlds apart from usual FPS games, I think this is a department they shouldn’t have skimped on.

The lack of variety in terms of create-a-class. Out of all of the weapons there is only one or two maybe worth using, all others are useless at range or due to the sheer speed of pilots. In fact I find each category and the choices inside are actually underwhelming. With a game so solely based on multiplayer I can’t understand why it feels so bare in this area.

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Generation challenges are a shocking idea. You reach level 50 and then if you haven’t already, you’re asked to deviate out of your comfort zone to use some of the worst weapons and more horrible equipment of the game to get a particular amount of kills. This is awful, as it means if you get to rank 50 and haven’t touched any of the equipment challenges required to access the next generation, you will left sitting at 50 until you complete the challenges. For instance get 250 kills with the EVA-8 shotgun, why would you do that?! The maps are pretty huge and a shotgun is probably the least useful weapon to use!

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All-in-all I love this game and its clearly focused on user experience and fluidity over features, which makes for an undeniably AAA feeling game.  But with a title so focused on multiplayer and with literally no single player at all, could the things mentioned really be so overlooked? I believe the game could have been something so much more, the game is wonderful as it is- but it would be so much better if it were the same game with more customizability. I expect that more weapons and maps will become available through DLC, we may even see some titan weapons. Sure thing is we won’t be seeing anymore titans.

Strike Suit Zero: Directors Cut PS4

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Strike Suit Zero: Directors cut

Developed and Published by Born Ready Games

Strike Suit Zero is a space combat game that was initially released on the PC over a year ago, since then it has continued to be worked on by Born Ready Games with extra features and missions included to mark its release as the Directors Cut on the PS4 as a digital Download. This game is fairly unique in modern terms as I can’t recall the last time I was aware of a space flight combat game being released on a console that looked as though it could be a good experience.

I used to play many of these games when I was younger and it certainly reminds me of classic Star Wars games- like the fantastic Tie Fighter and Rogue Squadron series as well as other titles including Colony Wars that was released on the PS One and even the grandfather of this genre Elite, that was released before I was even born 30 years ago for the BBC Micro. With this lack of recent titles in this genre in my mind I feel as though this game could well have a found a big gap in the market to fill, the games I have just mentioned were all hugely successful selling a lot of titles.

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When loading up the game I was greeted to an introduction that explained the back story, which basically reads like many sci-fi stories set in deep space. There are two sides involved in a war, the colonists, who want to separate from Earth’s Control, and then the United Nations of Earth (UNE). You play the part of a pilot for the UNE who is caught in the middle of this far reaching and expensive war that could well end in the destruction of our home planet if you fail.

The music in the games menu screens as you prepare for missions really fits the futuristic sci-fi style perfectly, it sounds very similar to what I heard in Biowares Mass Effect games and personally I loved the soundtrack in those games. A problem I do have in the menus is that there is a lack of customisation options for the various ships you will use. Another annoying aspect for me was that certain weapons can’t be used in certain conditions and there was a couple of times when I was unaware of this until I had started the mission, leaving me with the choice of either carrying on and playing through hampered or restarting the mission entirely with a different load-out.

Strike Suit 1

Graphically this game looked OK, it was nothing special and in some aspects I was let down, mainly the detail on the ship you are flying is just not there, the textures seemed to be missing and it was distracting whilst I was playing through the game. The lack of detail doesn’t end there, on the majority of enemy ships and installations there is a distinct lack of detail with many of them looking like grey blocks with splashes of red on them when you get up close. This was certainly not something I was expecting from a PS4 title. Whilst I understand this is an indie title with a far lower budget than many AAA titles I remember the detail and visual beauty of Resogun and again am felt as though more work should have gone into this area, after all the ships are the main aspect that you will interact with. The backgrounds do look very nice though with large planets, novas and asteroid fields brought to life convincingly. One problem runs through it all though, it looks fairly bland, the colour scale is very conservative with only blues and reds seemingly used. I would have loved to have seen a hugely colourful battle with a variety of colourful lasers, ships and stations.

Moving on from the adequate but overall slightly disappointing graphics of the game, I have to look at how this game feels, do I feel as though I am in an interstellar war for survival in an advanced Space fighter that can transform from a ship to a kind of Bipedal Mech suit and again? I have to say I was left a little disappointed. The flying mechanics do work well and you feel in good control as you avoid enemies and make runs along side a larger cruiser or Corvette ship. Sadly though there isn’t enough variety. There are just four differing classes of enemies; fighters, corvettes, frigates and Cruisers. Sure there are different types of fighters but I honestly couldn’t tell what the difference was between them in the heat of battle.

As well as these dog fighting sections there are the obligatory missions where you have to attack and destroy stationary, but well armed Space stations and weapons platforms, but these play exactly the same as the rest of the missions. This isn’t to say that it isn’t fun to play, many of the missions are hugely enjoyable. You can launch a huge missile assault on a Cruiser before speeding off to take out a bunch of Fighters before returning to another run at the larger ship and this does feel great, as though you could be in a movie. The main draw back is that once you get to the half way point you realise that all the variety in the game has been and gone. From here on in it does feel like a grind as you rinse and repeat the different aspects, just in larger and more time constricted missions to get to the end.

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Some of these problems look to have been slightly addressed in the extra missions included in the directors cut.  Firstly it introduces weak points in the larger ships making them much harder to destroy, even harder as the game doesn’t tell you where the weak points are, leaving you to a bit of trial and error before you find them and again this is something I personally, wouldn’t have expect of a refined version of a game, especially as it has been out for a year already on other platforms.

Overall I have to say that Strike Suit Zero has some good points and the basis of a very good game. It just feels as though it hasn’t been finished to me, the lack of textured detail on the ships is unforgivable for a PS4 title in my opinion. But the game at times is very fun to play through, the problem is that it needs more variety as the fun game play quickly becomes a chore as you repeat it over and over

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Playstation 4 Version Reviewed (also available on Xbox One and PC)

An Honest Review: Thief

 

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Thief was meant to be a reboot of the franchise (original game, Thief: The Dark Project -1998 and the much loved games that came after)- that is something that comes with the pressure of high expectations. I know that I, for one held great anticipation for this game. With that in mind, does this game really deliver a great experience? Not just for fans of the franchise, but newcomers alike?

Being one of the newcomers to the franchise, I came up feeling indifferent to this game. It has some truly great elements and I believe from my research it stays true to the franchises “first-person sneaker” style. The elements of the game I really enjoy are also the ones that let it down- what was great in the beginning soon becomes tiresome, and this same play-by-play runs systematically throughout the whole game. The environment layout is practically all the same, each with perfect cover in place to sneak between and enemies that will walk the same tracks over and over so you can time your moves.

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The story starts with our antagonist anti-hero- Garrett, making his way through the city to meet Erin, a fellow thief and one he seems to have history with. They play kiss chase through the city until they reach Northcrest Manor in search of the Primal Stone, where they stumble upon a ritual taking place to activate the said magical relic. Erin and Garrett begin fighting- the result is the supposed death of Erin and Garret blacking out, to awaken back in the city.

The game is basically Garrett’s journey to finding out what truly happened to Erin. Whilst the opening chapter makes for an interesting one, the rest of the story falls flat. Every chapter feels so similar – a big building to loot whilst dodging your enemies line of sight and satisfying your craving kleptomaniac urge, whilst finding and uncovering an extra little piece of Erin’s story via hallucinations. It all becomes grey after a while, when the game play is so much of the same all of the time, it becomes hard to play for long sessions, which means the story becomes meaningless.

Thief however does make for an interesting conflict of interest, on one hand I found myself wanting to collect every single piece of loot I possibly could. On the other hand I really wanted to play the game and not kill a single person! It isn’t possible to do both. Trust me I have tried (although you can go back and play chapters again). It really brings out the OCD collect-it-all part of me, which I’m pretty sure I developed from a deep love of Pokémon cards as a child.

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I can honestly say that this game is quite gorgeous, as dreary and dark as it is- it’s done in such a style that works perfectly in keeping with the timeline and style of the narrative. It’s almost looks like a toned down Terry Pratchett novel.

One thing that also lends itself the Terry Pratchett novel comparison for me is the side quests. I found the side quest actually more enjoyable then the main story, they added a breath of fresh air which was much needed when I felt like the game was getting stale. The individual story of each side quest was a kooky oddity-which felt worlds away from the main storyline. I will not divulge too much on these because I believe they are one of the games greatest assets.

What I believe is the games greatest let down is the controls and fluidity of the player movement. This is the same frustration I have with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the controls feel blocky and square. I mean that your character feels rigid, which in fact inhibits the stealth side of this game more than anything. The same problem made Deus Ex which was a beautiful game, feel dated and impaired. This feels, at least to me, to be an Eidos Montreal trait and ultimately a headache for me as a consumer.

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My experience had with this game is one of great expectations met with something entirely unexpected. The game as it is, is beautiful with out a doubt and at points even scary (I will leave that for you to discover if you choose to play).  It brings a unique play style that makes you think about how you can approach situations with the resources at hand – it does this; although truly no matter what way you do it there will only ever be one outcome. This in turn leaves the game feeling inevitably boring after long periods of play. I found it impossible to play for more than a few hours at most. The truth is I really wanted to like this game, and it has a few jumpy parts and good scene settings, but does that make up for the lacklustre story and blocky controls?  In my honest opinion, whilst playing through the really well orchestrated sections, you forget about the shortcomings and get absorbed into an exquisite yet spooky experience. But sadly, these sections are few and far between.

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Developed by: Eidos-Montréal 

Published by: SQUARE ENIX, Eidos Interactive

Xbox One Version Reviewed (Also on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and PC)

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2 Review

Bioshock Burial at Sea Banner

Developer: Irrational Games

Publisher 2K Games

Xbox 360 Version Played. Also Available on PS3/PC.


As I crawled through a creaking vent, I looked out onto Rapture from an entirely new perspective. It was then I knew that this final segment of the Bioshock story was going to be something unique. And although it largely failed to deliver on Gameplay, it made a fitting end to the incredible storytelling and setting the games are famous for.

Firstly, the game is absolutely huge. It comes in two segments, as it breaks Microsoft’s size limits on downloadable content. If you were left feeling a little short-changed by Episode 1, don’t worry. It’s one of the biggest pieces of DLC I’ve ever played through, on the same level as the Fallout expansions. You play as Elizabeth, trying to find Sally, the missing Little Sister from the first episode. Playing as Elizabeth opens up a whole new way to go through Rapture, and often not successfully.

Bioshock Liz

The main, single problem I encountered throughout the entire game was balance. As I first started playing as Elizabeth, I felt severely underpowered. My Shotgun could hold 4 rounds. A full pistol clip wouldn’t down an enemy. The game made it abundantly clear I would have to look at Rapture in a different light. Although initially frustrating, I enjoyed the challenge and being forced into a new style of Bioshock play. The problems came as the game progressed.

About halfway through my play-through, I got my hands on a Plasmid upgrade that allowed me to remain invisible for no EVE cost, if I stood still, I also found the Radar Range weapon shortly after. With these two powerful additions, I coasted through pretty much the rest of the game. I’d go into cloak when the enemy spotted me, wait for them to come right up to me (the invisibility doesn’t stop if the enemy touches you), and attack them as soon as they turned round. If this ridiculous plan didn’t work, I simply used the Radar Range, and dispatched them quickly. At that point, the once-powerful splicers became little more than an annoyance. The enemies did grow in power towards the end, but I could still use my cloak power for instant kills. Although an exploit in the game, it still felt that all the mechanics weren’t settling in as they should for the new style of play.

Bioshock

To me, it feels that Irrational didn’t know what they wanted from the gameplay of Episode 2. They clearly wanted to build a stealth game, but by adding familiar weapons and overpowered plasmids to give us the tested Bioshock touchstones, they’ve ended up confusing the message. I spent the majority of the time actually wishing I didn’t have to fight or sneak at all, as the levels are so detailed and rich with Rapture history, I was just enjoying being back there again. I genuinely would have loved to play the entire game just exploring and looking, the level design was that brilliant.

Playing as Elizabeth was also a bit of damp note. It felt as if Levine initially made a throwaway remark of playing as her to attract gamers, which has led to the studio having to make a game missing one of it’s greatest strengths. With Elizabeth out of shot and in your control, she seems a much lesser presence. Booker was a blank canvas, who allowed us to watch Elizabeth mature and grow. Her infectious curiosity and unique outlook offered great gameplay moments, adding another perspective and pushing plot-lines. Here they can’t do that as much, and the game definitely suffers as a result.

The thing is, these flaws aren’t what Bioshock is about. By this point, you’re not playing it for the gameplay, you’re playing it for the story. It doesn’t get a free pass because of this, but the story is fan service and them some.

Bioshock Mother

Burial at Sea Episode 2 does an amazing job of taking care of all loose ends, and presenting you with a unified, structured ending that makes sense of a world in which Rapture and Columbia exist. To do this they’ve had to indulge in some pretty tenuous story links, but on the whole I was left feeling very satisfied. I could see little aspects of plot coming from time-to-time, but mostly I still enjoyed the ‘wow’ factor I’ve come to expect from these games. Especially the final act.

Ultimately, Burial at Sea: Episode 2 is the perfect send-off for Bioshock. It’s confusing, earnest, frustrating, brilliant and mesmerising, all at the same time. Just like Rapture and Columbia, the franchise is a dystopia. It strives for perfection, and although sometimes the outcome can go wrong, the sheer audacity and scope of what has been built can’t help but leave you in awe.

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