Mighty No.9 Review (Not So Mighty)

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Picture the scene…. It is the early 1990’s and a kid is sitting in his bedroom glued to a TV screen where he is playing Mega Man on a Nintendo Entertainment System.  Tongue sticking out and eyes wide he tries to jump and enemy and misses…the yells of frustration are momentary because he knows that he gets to play the level again and he will eventually beat it.  That kid was me playing one of my favourite games and which also turned out to be one of my favourite game franchises too.

You can imagine how excited I was when I heard that Keiji Inafune (one of the creators behind Mega Man) was working on a game that was going to be a spiritual successor to the Mega Man game I loved so much.  I immediately wanted to know all about it and followed the progress of the Kickstarter campaign with a keen eye. Not surprisingly there was a huge success with just over 67,000 backers pledging 3.8 million dollars.  This allowed them to change their stretch goals and they decided to release on every current platform available.  However, this is where I feel they were a victim of their own success.  By trying to design for so many platforms they seem to have made too many concessions to accommodate the different platform limitations.

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I desperately wanted to regain that wonder of playing the original game but I tried to maintain a level head and took off my rose-tinted Mega Man glasses to give Mighty No.9 the chance to shine in its own right.

The game mechanics are pretty much the same concept as the Mega Man games in that you are driven towards defeating bosses to absorb their power to help you in the further stages. Sadly, this was where the similarities with the original game ended for me.  The control system felt clunky with the movement animations just as sluggish too.  If you managed to acquire any of the boss powers they felt underpowered to be of much use outside of a few limited battles.  The game also had an annoying habit of killing you in completely unexpected and random ways (crumbling tower landing on your head sound familiar to anyone?) which meant you were sent back to a checkpoint that was a fair ways back through the level you had just worked your way through. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of returning to old school games where checkpoints didn’t exist or if they did were few and far between, but in this case it was a frustration as the completely random nature in which you were dying meant you were repeating the same levels over and over again. What added even more to this frustration was the fact that the cut scenes had some pretty poor voice acting and left me feeling nothing for any of the characters throughout the game, a stark contrast to the Mega Man games where each of the characters including the bosses had their own quirky nature that made people love them.

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It was also frustrating that the only way to get a good score and rack up combos was to ‘dash’ through enemies to absorb their Xel energy.  This same mechanic would also be used to navigate obstacles at times but without any kind of prompt or significant marker to tell you that was what was expected. The end result was a fall off the screen to yet another annoying death, this felt like a punishment for not being able to read the minds of the game developers.  Combine that with the questionable hitbox detection on some of the enemies and you have a recipe that left a bitter taste in your mouth as you experienced multiple deaths that felt unfair and unjustified.  Frustrating to say the least!

The colours in the game seemed like a cheap 80’s kids cartoon, lacking in detail and they failed to provide the fans of the original game with something that could have been cherished and loved. One underwater level even managed to fade out most of the graphics and made the controls even more sluggish – as if to put the boot in one more time.  Sadly this is a game that promised so much, delivered so little and broke the hearts of many Mega Man fans.  Maybe Capcom will step in and try to show us that it still is possible to make a Mega Man game we could all love once more but sadly I think it is highly unlikely.

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Saints Row IV: Re-Elected and Gat out of Hell Review

Saints_BirthdaySurpriseReviewed on the Sony Playstation 4

This is the first time I have played a Saints Row game, so I really was coming into this with little idea of what to expect. Many of you will have played through these games already when they were originally released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 over a year ago now. On first impressions it’s pretty clear that this is a last gen game running on the new consoles. It hasn’t had the visual updates that some of the re-released games have had but, does this mean it isn’t worth playing? Of course not, it is just a small part of what makes a game good to play but I would have liked a bit more effort put in to make it feel like a new release and not just a game of the year type release with all DLC added. Many cross generation games have been labelled as cheap cash-ins, but I am glad to say that with this game you are also getting Gat out of Hell, which is big enough to be a full release in itself and it isn’t a full priced release.

Boom_Chicka_(Lust) Review sizeThe main game is an over the top open world game that has a twist. You are in an alien simulation and in some similarities to the Matrix films you can bend the rules of this simulation to give yourself superpowers – such as super speed, mega jumps, gliding through the air and even telekinesis. This makes the game hugely enjoyable and far more interesting than the normal drive, run and shoot mechanics of many open world games. The humour in the game is brilliant and whilst most of it is over the top it isn’t afraid to rip itself and many other games apart, which is a refreshing change from so many games that take themselves far too seriously.

One of the best features of this game is that you genuinely don’t know what is going to happen next, you have to release your imprisoned friends and to do this you have to enter different parts of the simulation, which are effectively based on other well known games. From a side scrolling beat ’em up like Streets of Rage, to a slower paced stealth based mission exactly like the Metal Gear series. As a gamer of a certain age I loved this and it was great to see what classic genres I would be playing through next. These sections are great but sadly they are surrounded by many hours of repetitive tasks. Going from one area to the next, shooting everything there and waiting for a timer to count down as you defend from more incoming hostile enemies. Having super powers helps make it a bit more interesting, but sadly it is over played too many times and it just highlights the contrast between what makes this game feel fresh and what makes it feel old.

Gat_With_Armchair-a-Geddon_(Sloth) reviewGat Out of Hell is a brand new release and sees you play as Johnny Gat as he descends into hell to save the President, the character you play as in the main game, after he is dragged down after playing with an Ouija board. Sadly hell is another City that is all too similar to what you will see in the main game, just with far more red and orange in the colour pallet. Cars still drive round on the streets and people walking the streets, I was disappointed as there was so much scope in the idea of Hell to make this title feel different, but sadly it doesn’t.

The gameplay is pretty much the same too, but it lacks the unique ‘other genre’ mini games that were in the main game, and as such it loses the element of surprise that kept me playing through the main story. You do have the usual Saints Row humour as you will meet many tortured souls in Hell such as Vlad the Impaler and more surprisingly a club DJ called William Shakespeare. These characters act as your crew in this expansion, so again it is the same structure as Saints Row 4, just without some parts that made the main game so fun to play through. There are a few new additions for this game and whilst some are good, (such as Gatman Begins that has you flying through a set course) but none of these are as good as what the main game had to offer.

Kinzie_With_Uriel_sEdge_(Envy)Gat out of hell has around six hours’ worth of gameplay, so it doesn’t drag on too much and I would say is better to play with more of a break from the main game. I played one after the other which is perhaps why I felt a little jaded with doing the same missions over and over. If you had played Saints Row when it was originally released then I am pretty certain you will skip the main campaign as there has been little added and it clocks in at around 12 hours. But if you haven’t played it before like me and you are not easily offended by the humour, then you will really enjoy the game. It has its problems but these are outweighed by the game just being so much fun to play, who wouldn’t love to have superpowers after all?

Emergency 5. PC Release Very Soon

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In EMERGENCY 5, the player is directing challenging rescue mission on three vast and detailed maps. For this, the player can use and improve a hug pool of vehicles and action forces and has to ensure that everyone is at the right place at the right time. It’s all about the right strategy to stop the chaos. In co-op mode, up to 4 players can team up to solve special multiplayer events. With the improved editor, players can edit and create their own content and share it with the big fan community.

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Features:
·        Hundreds of hours playing time with challenging large scale operations. Constantly re-arranging missions and catastrophes create new and surprising situations.

·        3 detailed maps of Berlin, Hamburg and Munich which are designed after their real-life models. The Deluxe version features a fourth map with the city of Cologne.

·        More than 20 ground and air vehicles of police, fire, rescue and technical action forces are ready for their assignment.

·        In Multiplayer mode, up to 4 players can join their forces on free-play maps with special multiplayer events.

·        A newly developed engine delivers the best EMERGENCY graphics of all time. No technology was taken over from the predecessors.

·        With its completely remolded control system, EMERGENCY 5 is intuitive and comfortably for all players. Interactive tutorials ensure that even new players find their way quickly.

·        In the powerful editor, up to 2 players can create their own maps and even work together on the same project.

Metro: Redux Review

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As your gas mask fogs up, you look down at your watch. You have 3 minutes of air left. You’re 5 minutes away from safety. You have 1 magazine of ammunition left, and your torch has just run out of batteries. You see a creature in the distance running towards you, and the light goes out. If games are about atmosphere and tension, Metro: Redux is in a league of it’s own.

Originally 2 games, Metro: Redux is a reworked collection of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, with improved graphics and general tweaks to make the experience better. I really enjoyed the games the first time round, so it was great to get another chance to delve into the tunnels of post-apocalyptic Moscow once again.

With the upscaled graphics and improved lighting, the game feels more claustrophobic and grimmer than ever. In terms of atmosphere, Redux absolutely nails it. Every single part of the world you’ve been plunged into feels authentic, from the train-car cities, to the condensation forming on your mask. The world is unpleasant, dank and utterly gripping.

Both games in the series are intriguing because of where they’ve come from, and the different outlook an international developer brings to it’s games. Ukraine-based 4A games approach things in a different way to most teams, and it’s refreshing to see. They just feel different, like you’re playing something fresh and exciting. An American or British developer could have easily fallen into the trap of making this a Fallout-clone, or pandering to the ‘dude-bro’ Call of Duty crowd by amping everything up. 4A stays firm, and makes a game that is slightly off-the-wall in terms of narrative and approach, and completely better for it. It’s an unsettling world, and the story and design decisions make this even more apparent.

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Metro Redux is wildly ambitious, and there’s times when the game can fall a little flat. Jarring animations or scripted events sometimes get stuck or feel wooden, and there’s balance issues between the weapons. I never once used the pressure-operated Ball Bearing rifle due to it being cumbersome and fiddly. But talking about the workings of the games is missing the point. They play well enough that these are only small issues. The real point of these games is just how unique and interesting they are.

It’s the different approach in storytelling and scenario that make this game something worth playing. Especially the first game, which although isn’t as advanced or as well-polished as Last Light, it’s story makes for a completely unique and exciting adventure. The game doesn’t take the turns your expecting, and it doesn’t try and instil this into the story by predictable plot twists. From the ground up, this game is built differently. It feels familiar, yet somehow different. This unsettling nature of gameplay and narrative marries with the nature of the game so well that it’s hard to think of how this game could work if tackled by a more mainstream developer. It’d be too fake, too polished, too normal.

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The Metro series will always have a hard time in getting a reputation, as it will inevitably (and incorrectly) be compared to games so different from what it’s aiming for. If we look at the post-apocalyptic, earth-has-gone-to-shit genre, it’s positively brimming with some of the best games you can buy. Metro:Redux is always going to have Fallout and The Last of Us hot on its heels, whether it likes or not. And although it doesn’t reach the emotional impact of TLOU, or the seemingly infinite scope of Fallout, the Metro games carve out a niche all of its own. They never try to be anything other than Metro. In doing this, they earn a place at the table, more than capable of delivering a rich, deep experience, totally different in approach and tone than anything currently out there.

The Metro series deserved the remastered treatment. We’re in an age of computer games where developers and publishers play it safe. They want to hold your hand. They want you to feel empowered. They want you to win. Metro: Redux doesn’t want any of this, but it demands your attention. In a world of safe-bets and sure-things, the Metro series stands apart, giving you an experience unlike anything else. You need to venture into the unforgiving depths of the Moscow Metro. You’ll be glad you did.

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Developer: 4A Games

Publisher: Deep Silver