DayZ: Boys Will Be Boys

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Write your own Adventure

Back in the misty eyed years of my youth when summer meant six weeks of doing whatever we liked and the weather was genuinely balmy, my mates and I used to get on our bikes and head down to our local country park, we’d take whatever food we could scavenge from cupboards and fridges, stock up on sweets and fizzy drinks. A few times we managed smuggle an air pistol out of a certain someones garage and with a ready supply of pellets we would head off with mischief in mind.  We would shoot at trees, empty cans of pop even to my shame, at birds, although we never hit anything. It was all about making our own fun with our imagination.  Trying not to get spotted by anyone of remotely adult age and generally boys being boys.

DayZ I feel hungry

Every time the I hit the play button on Steam, I’m reminded of those long summer days.  No goals or targets apart from what you set yourself, DayZ for me and also some of the people I play with is fast becoming the greatest story in video games that was never written.

To me, narrative has long been the most important single thing that makes up your average game, flashy graphics, multiplayer, bombastic set pieces can only take you so far, they can even be a detriment but its the story that can, if told well, knit all the other elements together.

I Feel Hungry

The opening lines of Dayz, written in ugly but functional font is the only part of the story that the developers have shared with you.  No middle and no end, the only narrative you are given is to  feed your hunger, quench your thirst and survive.  How you do this and the story you weave is entirely up to you, its this tangible sense of freedom and also the fear that goes with it that makes DayZ, even in it’s broken, often frustrating alpha state worth every penny of the £19.99 it costs.

You will die with alarming frequency in your first few hours in Chernarus, a fictional post Soviet state where Bohemia has set this post apocalyptic zombie survival mmo rpg fps/tps sim. Survive for a few hours and each item of clothing found or weapon brandished will increase your confidence and feeling of security, but death is never far.

You Are Dead

My first death came from starvation, I had tins of beans but with no way to open them, my life slowly ebbed away. Second, I was mauled by a zombie, and they are the least threatening thing about the game.  It was my third death at the hands of  fellow survivors that brought home the reality of life in Chernarus, give people free reign to do as they please, with little consequence and they will generally be absolute bastards, myself included if the mood takes me.

My third death, I had stumbled upon a group of three fellow survivors in the wilderness, who by the look of the automatic weapons they pointed in my direction had survived for some time.  Forced to kneel, I was stripped of my clothes, tins of beans and my most precious item, a tin opener. They ordered me to run and run I did, with no idea of direction, they laughed and took potshots, as my pant wearing behind disappeared over the horizon. I spent the next couple of hours getting increasingly lost which led me back to my first death of starvation.  I’d rather they had shot me.

Death comes, and can also be delivered with such variation and creativity in DayZ that I actually don’t mind the dying part, at the end of the day it all leads back to “I feel hungry” which is the greatest starting line of the best story never written.

DayZ Carnage

Friends ‘till The End

DayZ played by yourself can be good, searching abandoned towns for loot whilst not knowing who or what could be round the next corner leads to some genuinely tense moments, even on relatively empty servers I’ve died more than a few times at the hands of fellow players also struggling to eke out a meager existence.

Playing with friends is where this game really comes into its own, and the best stories tend to unfold. A general night involves everyone legging it across the the rather large map to a wherever seems best at the time, tins of beans, cans of pipsi and stories of our survival or sad demises are then shared before heading out. With whatever food we could scavenge from abandoned buildings, fizzy drinks looted from derelict pubs and maybe the odd weapon smuggled out of the local police station.  We then tend to head off with mischief in mind.  We shoot at zombies, fellow survivors, even each other, although we quite often miss. It’s all about making our own fun with our imagination.  Trying not to get spotted by anyone who looks remotely dangerous, and generally men being boys.

Fascination

For a game that is so upfront with its current failings, even the steam store page has a warning that the game is in alpha and bugs are rampant,  DayZ is maturing nicely. Dean Hall, the brains behind the game and his team of developers are rolling out constant updates and the game itself it not expected to enter beta until the end of the year.  Over one million steam users purchased DayZ in the first month alone, and the £20 million plus revenue is now clearly being put to use with the team recently doubling in size.  The current focus of the the upcoming updates included hunting, cooking, improvised weapons and barricading.  Vehicles and persistent in world objects are also on the horizon, along with a slew of other features that will make Chernarus that much more believable, being able to open a fridge to look for fodder may sound a bit daft but I cant wait!

DayZ on the run

Quite a few people have bemoaned the £19.99 it costs to access the alpha, beta and full release, lets put this into perspective.  A game about to be launched on a high street near you costs £20 to £30, depending upon your platform of choice.  Said game, not including side missions and infamous cutscenes can be completed in 10 mins. Depending upon which way you look at it, millions of us have also paid upwards of £30 for a AAA online fps experience this year which although released as complete has been far more buggy and broken the the DayZ alpha has ever been.  I’ve just clocked my 91st hour in DayZ and I’m sure that I’ll still be playing in a year to come, that is quite possibly one of the most frugal gaming propositions there has ever been for me.

DayZ Drinking

If you are tired of being handheld though games, herded down corridors, finishing a game and thinking what was that all about or just the the yearly churn of juggernaut franchises whose only reason for existence is to boost the bottom line of multinationals, give DayZ a try.  Bring your wits, your cunning, your  imagination, press play and write your own adventure.

 

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review

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South Park – The Stick of Truth | PC

Dev: Obsidian Entertainment | Pub: Ubisoft

All together now…

“Shut your f*cking face, Uncle F*cka!”

This new South Park game is an RPG featuring all the ‘Park gang in some typically outlandish situations involving aliens, Canadians, MenBearPigs and Taco Bell. Despite its troubled development and changes in publisher, SOT has actually ended up a high quality, polished product which manages that very difficult job of appealing to hardcore fans of the series as well as newbies.

South Park owes quite a debt to Double Fine’s awesome kid-starring role player, Costume Quest. Both games use the mechanic of a child’s imagination powering their struggles with real-world assailants, you and your little friend’s dressing-up games turning you into superheroes. Where Costume Quest was Halloween themed, Stick of Truth draws on the comedic value inherent in the generic fantasy RPG. Once it has had its’ fun with those clichés however, it expands its scope to something with greater breadth.

South Park Line up

Like the TV program upon which it is based, South Park pushes the boundaries of taste. Quite to what extent this will impact upon your enjoyment of the game is up to you to decide. If you think that jokes about rape, abortion and cancer have no place in your video games, you should steer well clear of this title.

For those of you who remain, South Park’s irreverent and crude world is there for you to explore. You will wander around, collecting loot and weapons whilst periodically getting into turn-based encounters with a variety of enemies. Attacks are often gross – more extreme examples include a female character throwing her used tampon at the boys. Farting on your foes is frequent, but for the most part it’s fairly standard ‘hit-enemy-A-with-weapon-rinse-and-repeat’ fare. Although one of the summons does involve Mr. Slave sucking enemies up his ass – so, you know, it rarely gets boring.

It does however offer quite different experiences depending on your familiarity with the franchise.

South Park Classes

There’s no way I’m writing five separate reviews for five different types of people who might approach this game, dude. That’s weak.

Seriously.

You guys?

GODDAMNIT!

1. Review for: People who read the opening quote and immediately starting singing the song and farting. You remember watching the movie when it came out in cinemas.

You’ve probably already bought this game from ASDA, and good for you! It’s like playing a 20 hour long episode of South Park, featuring all of your favourite characters from the series. No anal probing is left unreferenced. The experience is going to be one long fist-pumping exercise in nostalgia and gross-out jokes with some annoying ‘game’ elements littering your good time. You know what to do though, right? Hell, you already completed COD: Ghosts this year and totally smashed your mate Darren off the park in FIFA so you’re still a gamer.

This game has an autosave feature, so when Jo-ann tells you it’s time to ‘switch that thing off now’, you won’t lose any progress. Isn’t that super?

2. Review for: People who watch South Park all the time. You have a plush Cartman in your house and know what Kenny says in the opening credits.

You should definitely buy this. Trust me. You’re going to think this is a laugh riot. Matt and Trey wrote the script for the game and all the voices are present and correct. The Goth kids are suitably surly and – if you choose – Butters can take a major part in the action.

You’ll be quite happy to spend endless hours finding any extra little collectible and secret thing – and it will all be worth it.

3. Review for: People who remember South Park from the early days and watch it occasionally. You clicked on the link and laughed at the song.

This game could be for you – it depends on how much you’re going to enjoy the RPG experience. To get the most from the game, you’re going to need to explore every nook and cranny in this town. How do you feel about adding a couple of hours to the title as a result of searching for those last couple of Chimpokomon? You get an achievement out of it…

Try to complete the whole thing in a weekend if you can, or your enjoyment will wane. There are some pretty obvious optimal equipment sets and team mates to have, so you should be able to power through the game without much challenge.

4. Review for: People who don’t give a shit about South Park, didn’t click the link, but have an interest in RPG titles.

Tough sell, as this game is South Park through and through. The role-playing in this isn’t quite enough to sustain the game by itself – as the game points out, a lot of the questing is generic and pointless – and a lot of the rewards are just further references to the show. The game doesn’t want to throw up too much in the way of a barrier to you progressing through the main story, since it’s very pleased with and excited by the jokes it wants to tell. Not to say that SOT is a bad game by any stretch – it’s just that you’ll enjoy it less than your mate who is a big South Park fan.

5. Review for: The easily offended, who thought South Park had gone away years ago.

Just no.

Turn around.

Flee.

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At the end of the day, South Park – The Stick of Truth is the definitive South Park game without being a truly great RPG. It has many things going for it, but the shallow combat and under-developed item system means that an important chunk of the game is weak. Couple this with the facile puzzles and you have an entertaining one-shot title that uses gaming as a vehicle to provide some laughs. You get to decide for yourselves if it’s the kind of humour you enjoy.

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Reviewer: Karlos Morale

South Park: The Stick of Truth is out now for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3

Titanfall Review

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Developer: Respawn Entertainment | Publisher: Electronic Arts

Not since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has the FPS genre made such giant strides forward, and although this can sometimes lead to missteps, Titanfall is much more hit than miss.

Respawn made a very bold decision with Titanfall, in that they decided to make a multiplayer-only game. In the world of the Console FPS blockbuster, this is largely unheard of. Although campaign modes have now dwindled to nothing more than a small add-on, they’re still considered essential by developers. Titanfall tries to merge it all together, by creating a campaign based on the maps and telling a story whilst you play Hardpoint and Attrition, the two main game modes based on flag capture and straight-up deathmatch.

And does it work? Well, not really. The story is flaccid, and with so much action going on around you it’s hard to concentrate on any dialogue or plot points. But what it does do is set a precedent. If games are to evolve and become better, risks have to be taken. And by taking this risk in removing a traditional campaign element, Respawn have showed what’s possible and where to go from here. It’s commendable, and the passion and intent of this new way of thinking bursts through.

By doing this, what they’re really trying do is focus solely on what matters most. The gameplay, it is here where Titanfall absolutely triumphs.

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One thing that struck me that I’d never usually consider in most games is how well the levels are designed. With such a vast size difference between the Titans and the Pilots, it instantly makes it a challenge for the developer to create a game that is fun for both combatants. Each level never feels too big for a pilot, or too constricting for a Titan. Ledges and platforms are judged pixel-perfect, meaning there’s always multiple ways to traverse the map with your jump-jet. The same goes for Titans, with blasted-out walls in hangars and docks always allowing Titans clever access to key map points.

A game based on the idea of giant bipedal tanks and their pilots would usually generate a favourable bias towards the mechanical in most people’s minds, but here the balance is great. In fact, I found taking down Titans by climbing aboard and shooting their internal circuits in a ‘rodeo’ fashion one of my favourite aspects of the game. All the weapons I’ve played with all seem to balance well, offering different advantages in certain situations.

Titanfall Battle

The game really endeavours to empower the player. Whereas Call of Duty or Battlefield may seem harsh and unforgiving to the outsider, Titanfall aims to cater for every skill level. AI bots run around the battlefield as glorified target practice, and if you’re using the Smart Pistol on these enemies, you don’t even to have to aim. Although at first this makes you feel like a complete bad-ass, over time I can see this process becoming tedious, and cheap. I don’t particularly begrudge this feature, I just can’t see how it adds that much to the game.

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Titanfall feels like a truly next-gen game. Whilst it may feel similar, it’s always striving to be more, to be a better experience. And whilst the narrative largely falls flat, the gameplay mechanics and foundations it’s laid shows a great leap forward in the genre. And amongst games that tend to be slow to change, this is promising stuff.

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Xbox One Version Reviewed. Also Available on PC 

Author: Brapscallion

Everything That Is Wrong With Call of Duty: Ghosts

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Everything That Is Wrong With Call Of Duty: Ghosts    **SPOILER ALERT**

Call of Duty: Ghosts has come under a lot of fire for many reasons and I understand why. The game itself feels less like any other Call of Duty I’ve played, I find it disappointing- but it would be important to say I don’t hate the game. I feel indifferent to it. To me it just doesn’t feel like Call of Duty. So I’ve decided to go through and highlight some of the games shortcomings and list exactly where I think this Call of Duty game has gone awry, and where it is too much of the same.

It all starts with the Campaign. Am I the only one with a bad case of Déjà vu?  During the first mission, ODIN is unleashed and Logan (played by you) and Hesh manage to survive the blast from a flying gas tanker. Once you awaken you may think you were playing a remake of the last mission from Modern Warfare 2. It is in fact a cut scene that has been recycled. The fact they seemingly did this does them no favours, when people all over the internet are claiming that every game is a re-skin of the previous. It takes more than four years for CoD fans to forget what many consider the greatest Call of Duty of all time.

The Campaign also doesn’t deliver as much of a punch as previous core games of the series. It’s not as emotionally captivating as the Modern Warfare series – it doesn’t take us through as many twists and turns as the Black Ops series. It feels almost hollow, with the main focus being on becoming a ‘Ghost’- which y’know, is the most important thing during the end of the world- well that and your attack dog.

Multiplayer… Now where do I begin? Since day one it has been riddled with spawning issues, framerate issues, a lack of what I would define as good killstreaks. Seriously unbalanced weapons and not to mention some very poorly designed maps.

I have video -clips in my OneDrive/XboxOne uploaded of some serious spawn killing, I’m sure other seasoned players can testify to this, as do the videos I have linked on this piece.

I’m not just talking about camping in or near a spawn and picking off people as they run out. I mean people spawning in front of me and me in front of them.  Now, you would think that as the maps are so huge this should NOT be happening, that there would be a radial spawn field that would make sure there are no opponents within that specific area before you spawn. What makes me laugh, is there has been several updates yet none really seem to address the problem.

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The frame rate issues have only really came about since the update that prepared for the Onslaught DLC pack. Although it is less noticeable on smaller maps- maps like “Stonehaven” have been affected with reports of between 45-60fps fluctuations on this map particularly. Also the field order for the map “Containment” creates a plethora of frame drops, leaving the experience feeling partially broken. Whilst aiming down the sights of a sniper rifle you will get about 30fps, frame rates are also dropping because of explosives and effects that use an alpha base. 60fps is what Call Of Duty is really known for, yet some report frame rates below 20fps and it’s yet to be fixed.

Before fix

After Fix


The kill streaks: In the beginning we had bulletproof dogs and invincible squad mates, now that they have leveled and balanced them to a degree. But what’s the point in going for high kill streaks when in all honesty-they suck? Gryphon’s are useless, unless you’re a perfect shot- they almost always take two shots (with explosives?). LOKI is pretty useless because of the sheer amount of buildings to hide in (same situation with Helo Pilot), not to mention how long it actually takes to fire and for the shot to be received.  Rather than kill streaks they should just allow you a pack of IED’s for your kill streak. How often can you escape an IED? Even with lightweight and marathon if you tripped that IED you will most likely die even if you’re the other side of a wall.

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The maps are generally pretty awful. A lot of them are far too big, and offer far more to campers than to people who enjoy fast paced action (which is what Call Of Duty WAS). It seems like you have to run 3 miles to see anyone, only to get killed by someone who has just spawned behind you and shot you in the back. There are FAR too many head glitching points, the game seems to give unfair advantage to those willing to use the dirty tracker sight and sit in one place the whole game.

OVERALL , I can honestly say I don’t hate the game, I’m just disappointed with it. It doesn’t offer much in terms of mixed game play, like previously stated- it seems to ally itself with CoD campers. I am a rush player, and have found I have to slow myself down and adapt to this game. I honestly think that maybe Infinity Ward is tired. With Respawn Entertainment (seemingly the talent of Infinity Ward) releasing Titanfall later this month it will be interesting to see how many players will actually remain on Call of Duty: Ghosts.

I think there is a possibility that the combination of Raven, Infinity Ward and Neversoft may be removed from the cycle if Sledgehammer does well and IW do not step up to the plate with their next game.  All the problems with this game so far seem like amateur mistakes; maybe these are something to do with Raven and Neversoft? I don’t know, but this is not what I expected from Activision and Infinity Ward.

 

Author: Mark Kerry

Platform Played: Xbox One

Videos Courtesy of DigitalFoundry and satantribal

Rambo: The Video Game

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Rambo: The Video Game | PC | Teyon

Question Time:

As a rule, games based on film franchises are:

A. Well realised adaptations of the intellectual property, expanding on the world of the story using the unparalleled freedom of the video game form to enrich the players’ enjoyment of the franchise they love.

or

B. Cynical cash-ins involving minimal effort on the part of the developer who shovel out crapware to suckers who don’t know any better.

If you answered A or B, then I’m sorry – you have no concept of the unmitigated shit factory of a game that awaits you by purchasing Rambo: The Video Game, probably the worst title I have had the misfortune to review for frugalgaming.co.uk*

*note: I’m not counting Dungeon Keeper for mobiles, since there is nothing there that constitutes a game in the first place.

So friends, let me take you on a journey of misery and false promises as we travel together through the R:TVG experience.

First of all, I’m not really a massive fan of the Rambo movies. I mean, they’re OK, but they never grabbed me in the same way those 80s Schwarzenegger films did. Maybe I’m prejudiced against Stallone’s wonky mouth, I have no idea. So anyway, I’ve only seen the films a couple of times, but even I can recognise that the dialogue from this game has been directly ripped from the movies themselves. A nice idea you might think, adds authenticity you might think. Unfortunately, no one bothered to clean up these sound assets or even go as far as to equalise the volume, so what should sound highly professional ends up sounding like a cheap rip-off. Bizarre, but hardly the worst crime the game commits against you.

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The trailer for the game does a fantastic job of hiding the game’s true nature. From looking at it, one might think you’ll be playing an FPS mixed with some third person elements, allowing you to play key sequences from the films. Bless your heart, I was once naive like you, living in a dream world where developers at least made a token effort to include game play in their titles.

In fact, the game play here is split between two elements that both suck balls and infuriate in equal measure. The first is the shooting. With so many substandard FPS titles out there, you’d think even Teyon – a developer with a history of crappy titles – would be able to crowbar something together. Sadly, this was beyond their wit, and what we’re given is actually an ‘on rails’ shooter. Yup, a flipping light-gun game.

Without the light gun.

A light gun-less game that fails to live up to the standards set by Taito’s Operation Wolf back in the 1980s when the Rambo films still had relevance.

Sure, there are some nods to modern titles in there; you duck behind cover periodically only to pop out again and shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Sometimes there’s no cover for you, so you have to shoot more quickly or go into ‘rage mode’ where you have to kill targets as fast as possible in order to revive health.

Occasionally you toss a grenade.

And that’s about it folks. It’s stupidly easy until you get to the final level, where the difficulty ramps up from ‘meh’ to ‘oh for fuck’s sake’ and will probably take you a few goes to learn the waves and the best time to utilise grenades. Then it’s done.

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The 3rd person sections contrive to actually be even worse than the scrolling and shooting parts. Firstly, they’re all QTE based. If that isn’t enough of itself, you also get to really dwell on the frankly appalling graphics of the character models. They’re all pretty dreadful but special mention needs to go to the Rambo model himself, which is so poorly put together you could end up questioning whether it’s supposed to represent a human being or a bag of sausages glued together with fresh turd. Oh, and then shrink-wrapped to give it an uncanny sheen. Poor Sylvester Stallone, I hope he never sees this travesty of an image of himself – the shock alone might be enough to do him in.

The game tells you it includes stealth sections. It doesn’t. You just need to press Y at the correct time to sneak.

The game tells you it includes fighting sections. It doesn’t. You just need to press X at the correct time to punch (or dodge a punch).

Fortunately, the developers must have recognised what a load of crap these quick time event sections were and so they actually included an unlockable perk that means you can’t fail the QTEs.

Seriously.

So what was the point then guys? If you felt it appropriate to include a perk that helped us skip sections of your dreadful game, why not simply do us all a favour and not make us play any of it in the first place?

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I don’t know where to spray my hate cannon next on this game. How about the fact that it can be beaten in less than 3 hours? Or that this drivel costs £30 on Steam right now? Similar price on consoles. £10 an hour for this. I’m quite certain you could get all the movies for a tenner, and if all you did with them was smack them repeatedly into your face, you would have had a better time than playing this awful game.

I don’t mind giving games a chance, even when people tell me they’re rubbish – if something gets terrible reviews but I have even the slightest interest I’ll wait for a sale and pick it up. Hell, I managed to squeeze £3.49 worth out of Aliens: Colonial Marines because I went in with limited expectations. But there is really nothing here to justify you spending any money. There is no price level at which I would agree you should even try this game. If your time is worth so little to you, go and volunteer somewhere and make the world a better place to live in. But send a message to Teyon and Reef Entertainment:

We deserve better than this.

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Karlos Morale

Rambo: The Video Game is available now for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3

http://www.rambothevideogame.com/

 

The Lego Movie Videogame PS4 Review

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The Lego Movie Videogame PS4 Review

Publisher: WB Games
Developer: TT Games and TT Fusion
Platform Reviewed: PS4
Release date: Out Now

For nearly 10 years now the LEGO franchise has charmed us with their approach to the videogame industry. Taking iconic characters and blockbuster movies, presenting them in the world of LEGO has provided many hours of entertainment. Whilst the format of puzzle solving, exploration and light hearted humour remains the same, it is often the source material that provides the most amusement. That being said, how will this release fare being so closely related to the movie it is based upon?

The story follows Emmet, a normal guy, being mistaken as the master builder who will save the universe from the evil tyrant Lord Business. A diabolical man who is determined to destroy the universe by gluing it all together and thus putting an end to creativity. Along his journey Emmet is assisted by other master builders, special LEGO characters able to construct whatever they can imagine from the world around them by using the bricks that the universe is built upon.

The main campaign contains 15 stages that are navigated by using each characters unique abilities. Emmet, a construction worker by trade, can smash blocks using his drill or repair various machinery using his wrench. Wyldstlye can navigate through tricky platform sections using her excellent acrobatic skills. Batman, yes Batman!, can use his batarangs and grappling hook to further progression. As with all previous LEGO games switching between characters is a simple button press and is quick and seamless.

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Campaign levels can be found in one of several hubs which are locations taken directly from the film, Bricksburg and Cloud Cuckoo Land for example. These areas can be explored between missions where you will find various side quests and bonus content. Anyone familiar with the franchise will notice just how much smaller in scale they are. It certainly does not offer the freedom of past titles such as LEGO Marvel Superheroes or LEGO City Undercover. There is however, enough variety to keep younger gamers entertained for a while.

To add a little more substance to the experience a few character specific mini games have been introduced. Construction workers are able to build various objects using pieces from a radial menu, the sooner the correct piece is chosen the more studs are rewarded. Hacking computer consoles take the form of a Pac-Man style maze where the goal is to avoid enemies while navigating to certain areas of the map, this is a welcome addition and certainly offers more variety to the game play.

For the completists out there the game still has a lot to offer after the story levels have been completed. Areas can be revisited to find hidden collectables such as mini-kits and red bricks. New to the franchise are the pair of pants. A secret item based upon the show ‘Where’s My Pants?’, very popular with the residents of Bricksburg. The full roster of characters will be needed to find them all and it will take some time to reach 100% complete.

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Graphically the game feels solid and is well presented. Entire worlds seem to have been constructed using LEGO pieces you may have at home, from large buildings to trees and benches, it is all instantly recognisable. The soundtrack has been faithfully reproduced including the annoyingly catchy ‘Everything is awesome’ song. Dialogue between the characters is well written and, at times, can be quite amusing.

Whilst the game is full of all the things synonymous with the LEGO brand, this title has one major flaw. As it is based on an actual LEGO movie, there are no surprises here. The ability to have a little fun with the source material has been lost. If you have seen the movie you would have already heard the jokes and laughed at the cultural references. It feels sterile to some degree and definitely aimed at a younger audience. It is not a bad game, far from it, but the fun that is a LEGO game has been lost. Fans of the movie will enjoy it, the world has been lovingly recreated and there is a lot to explore, but for those looking for the light hearted spin the LEGO franchise has become famous for, there is not much on offer here.

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Reviewer – MrBadDog

 

Outlast Review

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Outlast on the Playstation 4| Developed by Red Barrels | Published by Red Barrels.

Outlast was the February game given away as part of Playstation Plus on the PS4, it is described on the Playstation Store as a single player survival horror, I would say that it fully lives up to that description. Red Barrels have created a game that feels like it should be based on a horror movie from twenty years ago. This game is full of scares and they are so well implemented, that it has the brilliant knack of making you jump even when you know you the scares are coming.

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The background story to Outlast is quite simple, you play a journalist who has decided to act on an anonymous tip to investigate a psychiatric hospital called Mount Massive Asylum. This Asylum is owned by a murky and underhand corporation (aren’t they all?) called Murkoff. Upon arrival it seems something is amiss and as you enter the asylum you quickly wish that you should have ignored that tip to investigate.

The gameplay in Outlast is fairly unique in that you have no weapons and as such no means to defend yourself from the various inhabitants of the Asylum. What you do have however is a video camera, this is essential to survive due to its night vision mode that you will have to use in the many darkened areas. This is a mechanic that is used well in the game as it runs down batteries that forces you to look for more. The green hue of the night vision really does seem to draw you in as you creep around, hearing noises well before you see anything.

The tension and atmosphere this game manages to create puts you on edge, the music is perfectly timed to create the maximum amount of psychological unease and tension before the loud bang of someone appearing behind you! Or worse when you are hiding under a bed not wanting to wear the batteries down, so you peek every now and again before you see a face before you, it is terrifying in those seconds in the dark hearing your stalkers footsteps growing ever closer.

The run or hide mechanics of the game are a welcome change from many of the action oriented ‘survival horror’ games, but sadly it does mean that the gameplay can feel repetitive and this is one of the problems that this game has. It is a fairly short game, around four hours for a play through so luckily it doesn’t get too repetitive. I did not understand however why the player never once tries to defend himself, I understand that there are no weapons but surely you would try and use something to defend yourself such as throwing books, chairs or anything you could grab at your pursuers?

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One major problem that I had with the game was that some of the tasks were unimaginative and only there to extend the length of the game. Many games employ the tactic of forcing the player to find three different switches to open a door or new area and Outlast does nothing to change that. Sadly it is dull having to find several switches just to progress over and over. Some sections also feel like you have to learn the layout and, as such means you will have a few repeat deaths until you learn which way you are meant to go to get to the next section of the game. The story, whilst set in a classic clichéd location of a secluded and disconnected Asylum, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed and a bit of a let down towards the end.

Overall I really enjoyed Outlast and thought it was a welcome, if at times terrifying, change to the genre. Outlast works perfectly at making you jump and really draws you in like few horror games have been able to, play this on your own in the dark and I guarantee you will soon feeling your heart pounding as you slowly open that door in the dark not knowing what is on the other side.

I am giving this game a rating of 7/10, it delivers on the scares but I felt it was lacking in variety to give it any higher, either way it is well worth playing.

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Reviewer: James Holland 

Playstation 4 Remote Play: Is it Worth the Hype?

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When the PlayStation 4 launched in November last year, one of its major selling points, and one of the most-demonstrated features, was Remote Play. This is the ability to hook up your PS4 and your PlayStation Vita, allowing you to stream PS4 games on to the small screen, hand-held device. Which let’s face it, is pretty damn handy if someone is hogging the TV. Now you don’t have to kick the family out of the living room to get playing your favourite game. Just grab your Vita, link up to your PS4 and start gaming. But as impressive as it sounds, is it really worth all the hype?

This early on we’re probably not expecting perfection, but is it something that works? Is it a service that people will genuinely use? We tested it out to see whether it should be a big factor in you purchasing a PS4, currently in stock with launch packs at GAME and EBay.

Game play
Remote Play is extremely easy to set up and, on initial showings, works very well. The PS4’s Remote Play works natively, unlike the PS3’s case-by-case support, which means that game developers can add in tailored controls for certain games. So in Assassin’s Creed 4 for example, there are touch screen controls for the map, but you can also use the Vita’s shoulder buttons as triggers, a simple tweak that works brilliantly.

Although there can be issues with WiFi connections, generally speaking there are very few drop-outs in the middle of your game. If you’re patient and hit the ‘X’ button on the Vita, the game starts up again pretty soon, and if you have a decent broadband connection, you probably won’t have any problems.

Flexibility
Thankfully, this is a pretty minor complaint when set against the wonder of playing a proper game of something like Assassin’s Creed on a portable console. You can play your games in bed, on the train, and the games look as beautiful as anything we’ve seen on a hand-held. The HD stream on the OLED screen is a real game changer, and compares favourably with the Xbox 360, thanks to the next-gen rendering.

Other uses
Whilst using Remote Play for games is definitely a big winner, that’s not all you can do. You can also connect to your console via your smartphone, making it easy to message friends and manage PSN friend requests without having to fire up the console or log on to the SEN website. Overall, lots of the second screen uses are more practical and pleasant than you would imagine they might be.

In conclusion, we think Remote Play for the PS4 is definitely worth the hype. If you’ve got a PS4 and a Vita and haven’t linked them up yet, you’re definitely missing a trick. It’s very easy to hook them up and this will definitely make the both the Vita and the PS4 hugely desirable to gamers everywhere.

Gioteck EX-06 Wireless Headset Review | PS4

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Gioteck EX-06 Wireless Headset | Reviewed Using PS4
One of the most common questions I get asked is which PS4 compatible headsets provide the best value for money. So I decided to do some research to try and answer this question as accurately as possible. I scoured the internet for reviews of the Gioteck EX-06 as I had got lots of positive feedback about them. Nearly every review I found were by people that had been sent the headsets by Gioteck to review and pretty much every one of those reviews were positive. Being the cynical chap I am, I never take much notice of reviews where people have been given stuff by the manufacturer, just in case this has clouded their judgement.

So I thought I’d take a punt and buy them in order to write a review. When I bought these for a very frugal £36 from Asda, I wasn’t expecting much. I have always found Gioteck products to be very good quality, but surely there’s no way of making a quality wireless headset for the PS4 for only £36?

Maybe, just maybe I was wrong.

First impressions
After unboxing, you are presented with a hard carry case which the headset is stored in. This is a nice touch as every other gaming headset I own ends up getting chucked in to a drawer where they inevitably end up damaged or at the very least get blu-tack stuck on them. Upon opening the case you find the pretty impressive looking headset, folded up in a way that resembles the headset equivalent of the fetal position. Not the tat I was expecting at all. The headset comes with various cables, including USB to Mini USB cable for charging and a cable that plugs in to the PS4 controller which enables chat.

After removing the headset from it’s case I was surprised with how well made they felt. Like many other Gioteck products they have a rubberised finish that makes them almost arousing to touch (this maybe just me). They also unfold with a satisfying snap and felt very sturdy. The mic can be connected to either side of the headphones, or detached and stored away when not required.

Connecting to console
The USB connector is unfortunately a really annoying design as it requires slightly more space in front of the console than most others I have used. However, connecting the receiver to the PS4 is easy as can be, you simply plug the USB wireless receiver in to the console, change one audio setting on the PS4 and you’re ready to roll. Once you have plugged it in, you then need to turn on the power button on the headset and they pair seamlessly.

Comfort
As soon as I put these on to my ample head, I realised much to my surprise that these were actually the most comfortable headphones I had ever owned. They fit really snugly and don’t feel like you’ve got a mobile disco balancing on your head, unlike some Turtle Beach headsets. To put them to the test, I undertook a small selection of physical activities to see just how well they stayed on. 5 press ups, 3 sit ups and one near heart attack later, they were still sitting firm and I almost forgot that I was wearing them.

Getting your game on
I then fired up my console and started to play Resogun as I thought this would be the perfect game to test out a wide range of audio levels. Straight away I realised there was a problem as the sound was cutting out every 2 seconds, making it impossible to hear what was going on in the game. At this point I was sitting about 3 feet to the right of my PS4 as I had the console connected to my PC monitor instead of my main TV, which is where the console and wireless receiver are situated. It soon became clear that the position that I was sitting was causing a connection problem. Although the headset specification states it has a wireless range 20ft, this only seems the case if there is a direct line of sight between the headset and the receiver. Any deviation from this causes the headset to cut out. Even sitting with your feet up obstructing the connection between the headset and the receiver will cause problems.

I have used many wireless headsets and out of all of them this was the only one I have had connection problems with. With my previous Turtle Beach wireless headset, I could go relieve myself in the toilet upstairs  whilst still wearing the headset without any connection problems or interference (much to the dismay of the people in my party chat). But with this set, I’d have no such luxury.

Sound Quality
The sound quality is pretty impressive for a headset that costs under £40. However, after playing several different games it became clear that sound quality is the main difference between these and the higher priced alternatives. Although the sounds of the voices, music and bass are all impressive individually, when you blend them all together the levels just don’t seem right. The bass and music tend to overpower the characters when they are talking, making it hard to understand what they are saying. If you increase the volume to try and hear what the characters are saying, the bass, background music, sound effects and gunfire will make you want to toss the headset across the room. If there was some way to equalize the sound levels there wouldn’t be a problem, but unfortunately there is no such feature on the PS4.

Overall, the sound is pretty good and I’m sure 90% of gamers would think they sound great. But if like me you are an anally retentive audio whore, you may want to invest in a more expensive alternative!

Chat
This is the one area where the headset really fails to impress. Although I could hear others in party chat well enough, they had problems hearing me. I sounded quiet and slightly distorted and the sound quality of the mic was worse than that of the standard headset included with the PS4. One positive is that you can change the game and chat volume independently to each other, enabling you to get the balance of game sound and chat volume set to your personal preference.

Conclusion
Overall this is a very good headset for the money, in fact I am pretty sure it’s the best wireless headset you will find for under £40. It’s well made, looks great and rivals even the most expensive headsets in terms of comfort. Unfortunately the disappointing wireless coverage, off kilter sound levels and piss poor mic stops it being a serious contender to other headsets such as the Turtle Beach PX4’s and Sony Gold wireless headset. I would also be hesitant to pay the full price for this headset, which is around the £70 mark.

If you are a gamer with a limited budget looking for a decent sounding headset, then the Gioteck EX-06 headset is for you. If you are looking for a wireless headset that has amazing sound quality and wireless coverage, save up a bit more cash and opt for a higher spec alternative.

For me, the wireless problems I encountered seriously effected my final score. If I hadn’t had these problems I’d have rated them 7.5/10

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This headset also compatible with the Xbox 360, PS3, Mac & PC and is currently £36 in-store at Asda.

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Official Gioteck Video

Specifications and features

  • Folding Hinge System: Fold-up design that allows for easier storage and transportation
  • 2.4GHZ Wireless Technology: Advanced wireless digital technology that broadcasts game audio up to 20ft
  • Superior Fit & Finish: Designed with superior materials for the ultimate comfortable fit
  • Flexible Mic Arm: Extensive adjustment for perfect positing and maximum voice clarity
  • Integrated Audio Controls: Intuitive audio controls on the ear cups for quick, easy access
  • Virtual Surround Sound: Featuring a virtual surround sound effect  for total game immersion
  • Advanced Noise Reduction: Eliminating game sound interference from external sources
  • Rich Detailed HD Audio: Delivering crisp highs, deep lows and everything between
  • Compatible with: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PC and Mac

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Tomb Raider Definitive Edition PS4 | Frugal Gaming

Tomb Raider 1

Publisher – Square Enix

Developer – Crystal Dynamics

Release Date – 28/01/2014

Platform Reviewed – PS4

The release of Tomb Raider on next gen consoles has certainly divided opinion. It is not uncommon for game developers and publishers to spoil us with their ‘Ultimate’ or ‘Game of the Year’ editions. Full of extra content previously only available via download, all wrapped up in one neat little package. Generally they have sold rather well and yet this title has been met with such distain from certain quarters. Perhaps it’s the timing of the release or the chosen platforms which has warranted the extra attention. Sceptically you might say the publishers are taking advantage of the typical barren release schedule after the festive period, especially considering the PS4 is in its infancy. Whilst we all clamber for the great and the good that our new consoles promise we have on offer here a game that is still fresh in the memory, all be it with a few extras, should we really be interested?

For those who don’t know, Tomb Raider is a reboot of a franchise that certainly lost its way in recent years. Here, we explore Lara’s origins from a seemingly excitable academic to the ferocious adventurer she has become today. Shipwrecked on a mysterious island, separated from her comrades, Lara must learn what it takes to survive. It is certainly a much darker and more harrowing tale the fans of franchise may be accustomed to. The physical and psychological torment Lara endures will leave a lasting impression. It is at times brutal and unforgiving.

The story is set on a breath taking island once populated, centuries ago, by inhabitants called the Yamatai Shrines, temples and statues scattered throughout the land remind us of time long since passed. Accompany this with remains of WW2 bunkers, crashed planes and shipwrecked vessels. Broken and rust ridden, shanty towns and makeshift machinery. It all blends together to make this a believable and unnerving place to be. It feels isolated and forgotten. From the claustrophobic caverns to awe inspiring vistas, harsh and sudden changes in climate, and especially as darkness comes it is all very intimidating.

Thankfully not long into our adventure Lara finds a bow. Used at first to hunt animals for food it is soon that we turn this onto our enemies. A strange cult has taken hold over the island and now call this place their home. They are instantly unforgiving of Lara’s presence and will remove her by any means necessary. Pistols, rifles and shotguns make a welcome addition to the armoury along with the climbing axe, all can be combined to make killing swift and savage, especially at close range. As the story continues, improvements can be added to the weapons which adds variety and flexibility to the combat.

Tomb Raider 2

Whilst the combat is handled with a certain flair, it is the recognisable climbing sections that shine. Lara’s agility and bravery are certainly put to the test. Movement feels fluid and spontaneous, it is more forgiving than previous titles, there no need to be as precise as you may have needed to be in the past. Scaling vertical rock faces, shimmying along ledges and death defying leaps all feel natural and intuitive. Deserving of a mention are the rope arrows, these can be used to make rope bridges which encourage exploration and help traverse the environment. Lara fells like a true adventurer.

Due to the extra hardware available a few noticeable improvements have been made to the interface. If you have the PS4 camera attached you can use gestures or your voice to control certain actions, map navigation for example. Dialogue and sound effects are played through the Dualshock speaker. The touchpad can be used to light or extinguish torch or indeed cycle through various types of ammunition you may have available. Some of this works really well whilst others seem superfluous.

To add some longevity to the title there is the compulsory multiplayer mode. With only four game types on offer it will certainly not set the world alight. Free for all and team deathmatch make an appearance along with two team based modes that are very similar to most games on the market. There is something lacking here, you get the impression it was an afterthought and would benefit greatly from having more time and care spent on it.

Yes, the visuals are an improvement from the previous consoles. Environments are very pretty, weather and lighting effects are handled very well, it’s just not a massive leap that you may be expecting. Particular time and effort has been spent refining Lara but, she does not look quite right. The facial expressions, especially during scenes where Lara speaks, looks as though she is wearing a mask.  I heard it said that it seems that she has suffered from using an excessive amount of Botox, this sums it up perfectly. The rest of the cast have been neglected somewhat and it painfully obvious. The story is interesting to some degree, it is full of clichés however. With games such as ‘The Last of Us’, they have shown us how characters can be written, here they follow a supposedly tried and tested formula and it’s cringe worthy. They sadly missed the mark.

Tomb Raider 3

Even sadder and the biggest mistake of all is the price. There is simply not enough here to warrant purchasing if you have played through it before. The extras on offer are nowhere substantial enough. An extra tomb, which will take at most 10 minutes to complete, a couple of weapon attachments and some extra maps for the sadly lacklustre multiplayer is quite frankly not enough. The game is just as good as it was a year ago but, no better. Perhaps this why cynics have called this release a shameless cash in and, to be honest, it is hard to argue.

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Reviewer – MrBadDog

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition is out now for PS4 and Xbox ONE

PS4 Version Used For Review