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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Alien Isolation Review

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Alien Isolation

Developed by The Creative Assembly

Published by Sega

Reviewed on the Playstation 4

The original Alien movie is now over thirty years old and yet it seems as though this is the first video game to really take inspiration from that tense sci-fi horror. Many games based in the Alien universe follow the action style of the Colonial Marines from the sequel Aliens, the most high profile of these was the dreadful Colonial Marines game. The Creative Assembly must have been worried that Gearbox’s disaster may have ruined their upcoming, simply just by the nature of association. Luckily Alien: Isolation has very little in common with that game, apart from the obvious name in the title.

Alien is one of my all time favourite films and I have been waiting eagerly to get my hands on this game, it has been billed as survival horror. Set 15 years after the events on-board the Nostromo, you play the role of Amanda Ripley. Ripley is heading towards the Sevastopol Space station in search of a recovered flight recorder, hoping to find out what happened to her mother. Nothing is straightforward and once you are on-board it is clear there is something else lurking in the shadows.

AI_LAUNCH_SCREEN008_1411636911Given access to terabytes of data from the production of the film, The Creative Assembly have painstakingly re-created the gritty analogue future; so well in fact that at times it really feels as though you are in the film. Everything you have seen in the film is here, from the iconic drinking birds, to the steam filled passageways with flickering bulbs barely lighting the way ahead. The sounds are also perfect, the beeps from an analogue world are all here, and none more so than when typing into one of the many computers you will need to use on your journey. It is as near to perfect as a game can get, the atmosphere just oozes from the walls and the vents throughout the game.

The most impressive aspect of this game is the Alien itself, no longer is it just a moving target to be mown down with endless rounds from your pulse rifle. This time it is the perfect organism. It takes a bit of time before you do fully run into the creature, but when you do it is genuinely terrifying seeing it in action. The AI is really incredible, it is unpredictable and whilst it can be frustrating, it really made me think how I would get through to the next area, or to one of the save points in one piece. I loved the return to manual save points, it just added to the importance of staying alive with no auto save every few minutes to ruin the terror.

The random nature of the AI does have its drawbacks though, at times I was really struggling to evade the monster, getting fairly frustrated with taking my time and trying to edge round the corridors and through the vents. I decided to just walk in a straight line to the exit, I didn’t encounter the Alien at all and it made something that should have been tricky ridiculously easy, but this only happened very rarely and I still felt as though it could leap out at me at any time. Once the Alien makes itself known, I automatically feared the worst and I could actually feel myself breathing slower and edging forward. No game has made me do this for a long time.

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There are other threats on board the station apart from the Alien and these are in the form of Androids called ‘Working Joe’s’, these are cheaply made robots that are clearly distinguished from humans by their pale plastic faces and glowing eyes. Whilst I understand that you need variety in the game, I did feel that in the middle section of the game the Androids were far over used and I began to hate running into them, not because they were difficult but because they were ruining the tension that the game had built up in the first half.

I have to admit to rarely using any of the creatable items. this was partly because I didn’t want to attract the attention of anything to my position, but mainly it was because it was too fiddly to switch between items especially with the speed with which the Alien can move. These items were far more effective against the human or android enemies, but at time the effectiveness of these items changes with no reason or warning so I just stopped using them.

AI_LAUNCH_SCREEN014_1411636926It is the long middle section of the game where all of Alien Isolations problems are shown. I would rarely criticise a game for being too long, but at about the half way point there is a kind of mini ending where it feels as though the game is winding down towards its conclusion. In reality you are only half way through and towards the final few chapters it was really getting to be a slog to keep going with so many objectives being rehashed from earlier. Part of this is down to the introduction of the flame thrower, whilst it cannot kill the Alien, it can scare it off, meaning that many times I was just walking around without even trying to evade it. A couple of bursts from this would be enough to see it running back into an overhead vent, this could easily have been changed by reducing the amount of fuel you can find, or even by just leaving this weapon out until the tougher final hours of the story.

I am fully aware that being such a huge fan of the Alien universe may give me a slightly rose tinted view on this game, but on the whole I did really enjoy my time playing through the story. Sadly it is just far too long. It could have been trimmed by at least a quarter, if I was reviewing just the first half of the game I would say it’s up there with some of the best I have ever played. Even with the excessive length, the game does deliver moments of survival horror at its best, there are also some great moments that pay homage to the first film, these alone are worth playing if you are a fan of the films.

It is not perfect but it is easily the best Alien focused game I have ever played.

Score: 8/10

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Blue Estate
Was £15.99/€19.99/AU$29.95, now £7.99/€9.99/AU$14.95
10% additional PS Plus discount

Murdered: Soul Suspect
Was £49.99/€69.99/AU$99.95, now £21.99/€26.99/AU$40.95

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Demon Gaze
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Draw Slasher
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Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut
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The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
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Toukiden: The Age of Demons
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Zombie Tycoon II: Brainhov’s Revenge
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Manhunt
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10% additional PS Plus discount

Alice: Madness Returns
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Alien Breed 2: Assault
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Armageddon Riders
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BioShock
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BioShock 2
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Dead Island
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Dead Space
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Dead Space Super Bundle
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Demon’s Souls
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Devil May Cry HD Collection
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Vergil’s Downfall
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F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn
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God of War HD
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10% additional PS Plus discount

God of War II HD
Was £11.99/€17.99/AU$26.95, now £9.49/€11.99/AU$17.95
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God of War: Chains of Olympus
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God of War: Ghost of Sparta
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10% additional PS Plus discount

HELL YEAH! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
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How to Survive
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10% additional PS Plus discount

Killer is Dead
Was £19.99/€29.99/AU$39.95, now £6.49/€7.99/AU$11.95
10% additional PS Plus discount

Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut
Was £7.99/€12.99/AU$14.95, now £2.89/€3.49/AU$5.25
10% additional PS Plus discount

Metro: Last Light
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10% additional PS Plus discount

Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection
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Murdered: Soul Suspect
Was £39.99/€49.99/AU$69.95, now £10.99/€14.99/AU$17.95

Red Dead Redemption & Undead Nightmare Bundle
Was £32.99/€39.99/AU$59.95, now £7.99/€9.99/AU$14.95

Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare
Was £15.99/€19.99/AU$24.95, now £6.49/€7.99/AU$11.95
10% additional PS Plus discount

Resident Evil 4
Was £15.99/€19.99/AU$29.95, now £7.99/€9.99/AU$14.95
10% additional PS Plus discount

Resident Evil 5
Was £11.99/€14.99/AU$22.95, now £6.49/€7.99/AU$11.95
10% additional PS Plus discount

Resident Evil 6
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Resident Evil Code Veronica X
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Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City
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Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection
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Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles
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Resident Evil Revelations
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Resident Evil Super Bundle
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Siren Blood Curse
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The Darkness II
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10% additional PS Plus discount

The House of the Dead 4
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The House of the Dead Bundle Pack
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The House of the Dead III
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The House of the Dead: OVERKILL Extended Cut
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10% additional PS Plus discount

The Walking Dead – Season Pass
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10% additional PS Plus discount

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10% additional PS Plus discount

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
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The Wolf Among Us – Episode 1: Faith
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The Wolf Among Us – Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors
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The Wolf Among Us – Episode 3: A Crooked Mile
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The Wolf Among Us – Episode 4: In Sheep’s Clothing
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The Wolf Among Us – Episode 5: Cry Wolf
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The Wolf Among Us – Season Pass
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10% additional PS Plus discount

Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone
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Dead Nation
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10% additional PS Plus discount

Dead Nation + Road of Devastation
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PS One/PSP

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Was £7.99/€9.99/AU$14.95, now £3.29/€3.99/AU$5.95

Silent Hill
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Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
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Manhunt 2
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Silent Hill: Origins
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Undead Knights
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Deals of the week (discounts end 28th October 2014)

Assassin’s Creed Black Flag (PS4)
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Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – Deluxe Edition (PS3)
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Valhalla Knights 3 (PS Vita)
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Zombie Driver HD Complete Edition (PS3)
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What’s New For Playstation Plus Members In September 2014

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Here is a quick roundup of what is coming and going on PS+ in September 2014. Don’t forget to check out our deals on Playsation Plus subscriptions and credit here, you’d be surprised just how much money you could save!

New to PS Plus:
3rd September: Velocity 2X
3rd September: Sportsfriends
3rd September: PlayStation Allstars Battle Royale
3rd September: Hoard
3rd September: TxK
3rd September: Joe Danger PS Vita

Leaving PS Plus:
3rd September: Road Not Taken
3rd September: FEZ
3rd September: Crysis 3
3rd September: Proteus
3rd September: Metrico
3rd September: LEGO Harry Potter 5-7 Years

Source : Playstation Blog

What’s New For Playstation Plus Members In August 2014

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Here is a quick roundup of what is coming and going on PS+ in August 2014. Don’t forget to check out our deals on Playsation Plus subscriptions and credit here, you’d be surprised just how much money you could save!

New to PS Plus:
6th August: Road Not Taken PS4
6th August: FEZ PS4
6th August: Crysis 3 PS3
6th August: Proteus PS3
6th August: Metrico Vita
6th August: LEGO Harry Potter 5-7 Years Vita

Leaving PS Plus:
6th August: TowerFall Ascension
6th August: Strider
6th August: Dead Space 3
6th August: Vessel
6th August: LEGO Batman 2 DC Superheroes
6th August: Doki Doki Universe

Source : Playstation Blog

MouseCraft Review

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Mousecraft

Developed by Crunching Koalas

Published by Curve Studios

Reviewed on the PS Vita, PS3 and PS4.

I can recall playing Lemmings over and over on the Amiga when I was younger and I have to say that this is the game that Mousecraft reminds me of the most. Mousecraft is a puzzle game similar in premise to the classic DMA Design games, on that note who would have thought that Lemmings would be directly related to the Grand Theft Auto series? The basic aim of Mousecraft is to guide your three mice from one side of a zone to the cheese at the other end in one piece and just like Lemmings there are falls, obstacles and a varying amount of brain power required to progress to the end.

Curve studios have been responsible for a number of games that I have really enjoyed playing, from fellow puzzle based games like Stealth Inc and Lone Survivor to more retro based shooters such as Velocity Ultra and Titan Attacks.  I went into this title with high expectations from a Studio that, from my own experience, has yet to make a dud. Like the aforementioned titles- Mousecraft is a 2D based title that looks the part, this is not a genre that is ever going to push the GPU in a brand new PS4 to the max but Curve have got the look nailed down with nice smooth colours and detailed cartoony stylised areas for you to play through.

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Mousecraft was originally released via Early Access on the PC and this month finds itself coming to the Playstation platforms: PS3/PS4 /PS Vita with the added bonus of cross-buy. I have to admit that I spent most of my time playing this on the Vita, the title uses the touch screen perfectly and made playing the game much easier, dragging and dropping items instead of pressing many buttons to do what is simple with the touch screen, it is perfectly suited to the Vita and I would recommend this platform as the primary platform to play this game on.

As I have mentioned the aim of this game is to get three mice to the cheese in an area or maze, you do not control the mice directly, but you do have some control over the environment they are in. You do this by dropping Tetris style blocks into the map to help your mice get their cheese and just like in Tetris, you can rotate the blocks round to find the best fit. Your mice can only jump up one block, but luckily they can fall further than they can jump. They are not invincible though and as you progress you will find many obstacles that are hazardous to the health of your little furry critters in the form of water, acid, exploding bricks and even evil robotic mice.

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Whilst you will primarily spend your time dropping blocks on the map to help your mice, you will also need to destroy some that are already laying in the way. To do this you will need to use bombs, don’t worry you can’t blow up the mice! You may have these at the start of a level or you may need to get your mice to collect them as they go, this adds more than just a basic A to B route. Sometimes you have to plan many stops and changes of direction, so that you can get to the end, as you can imagine the further you progress the harder and more complex the levels become.

I have left this final aspect of the game until last, as I found it the most frustrating. As you progress, you have to collect blue shards as well as get your mice to the cheese. To progress from one area of the map to the next you have to have a certain amount of blue shards and I found this incredibly annoying, on the first area I was unaware that I had to collect most of the shards. In fairness I may have not read through the on-screen instructions with my full attention, so I was very annoyed that I had to go back through already completed levels and spend more time figuring out how to get not only my mice to the end but pick up the shards. I then realised that the shards were more important than the mice, you only need one mouse to get to the cheese so my priority of saving the mice was completely wrong and even hindered my progress.

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I absolutely hate grinding through games and this is what it felt like to me, I like games to be a challenge and I know some people love to spend time collecting everything in the game to unlock trophies, but I would much rather prefer it to be optional rather than necessary, as it did put me off carrying on, as I knew I would likely have to go over certain difficult levels over and over just to pick up an extra bit of shard. This is the only downside to the gameplay in this game and if you love collecting everything then I am sure you will do in this game too.

I found Mousecraft to be an enjoyable game, shard collecting aside. With over 80 levels to play through with varying degrees of difficulty, it will challenge your problem solving skills for a good amount of time. Added to the core game is a level creator that you can use for a near infinite amount of maps to play through. Crunching Koalas have taken inspiration from two of the very best puzzle games in history in the form of Tetris and Lemmings and in doing so have released a game that is generally fun to play through and is great for fans of games that make you think.

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Out Now!

Outlast: Whistleblower Review

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Outlast: Whistleblower

Reviewed on the Playstation 4

Also Available on PC

Developed and Published by: Red Barrels

Whistleblower is the first, and maybe only piece of DLC that has been released by Red Barrels for their first person horror survival game- Outlast. Outlast was originally released on the PC and released on the PS4 back in February as part of  the Playstation Plus Instant game collection. In case you haven’t played through this yet you can read my thoughts and review of it here.

This story based DLC is a prequel to Outlast. It allows you to briefly see the Asylum in its pre breakout state as you play the part of, as the title states- a whistleblower named Waylon Park. He was the anonymous worker who tipped off Miles Upshur leading him to investigate the Mount Massive Asylum and of course the shady Murkoff corporation running it. Seeing the Asylum before all hell broke loose is a nice and very interesting change of pace to the rest of the game, sadly though you don’t get too long to see it like this, before you are admitted as a patient against your will.

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First of all I have to state that Whistleblower plays exactly the same as the main game, early on you will find a camera to record what is unfolding around you and just like before it has an eerie night vision mode. The night vision ramps up the suspense as you creep around avoiding the inmates who want to make you their latest victim or work of art. Despite Waylon not being a reporter he will make notes about what he records just like Miles. It would have been nice to see a difference between how the different characters play, as in reality it could well be the same person. You quickly forget that you are supposed to be playing the part of a tech assistant who was actually working at the Asylum before the outbreak.

The asylum is once again brought to life very well, you will visit a few areas that you will be familiar with, but there are enough new areas to make the game feel fresh. I did notice that the enemies you will face are slightly different. Many more of your pursuers will be equipped with various weapons, this goes a little way to showing why you are incapable of fighting back as in the original. I found it weird that you would not even try to hit back against enemies that were no bigger than yourself. It was still strange though, running past a corpse of a guard and not being able to try their radio , pick up their gun or even just search them to see if they have anything useful as surely this would be the first thing you would do in this scenario.

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The various stages of Whistleblower do seem to have a better layout with more areas to hide away from your would-be killers and, apart from a couple of occasions, it seemed less mazy and confusing. You will still get the hugely frustrating parts where it feels like you are just playing a game of trial and error, especially towards the end of the game. It just isn’t clear what sections you can go through and also when you are well hidden or not.

If you are hoping that this trip to the asylum will be less harrowing and graphic, then you will be disappointed. This game ramps up the gore and in fact includes some of the most graphic and intense scenes I have ever seen in a video game. It can be genuinely terrifying, a fun horror game this is not. These scenes carry more weight due to how convincing the various inmates you encounter have been realised. Just like in the original title you do feel convinced that these are the sort of characters you would find in such an asylum as this, hopefully though I will never find out.

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If you enjoyed the main game and wanted to learn more about the story, then you will enjoy Whistleblower. It ties in perfectly with the original game as it is set both before and after the events of Miles. The end of Whistleblower tying perfectly into the ending of Outlast. Make no mistake though, this game has all of the flaws of the original and I did lose the fear factor towards the end of the game, as I felt I had seen all of the scares before and was growing tired of some of the unforgiving trial and error sections. Due to this I feel that Red Barrels have done enough now with this version of Outlast, it took me around 2 hours to complete any longer and it would have completely lost the suspense and terror that makes the game what it is.

A good bit of DLC that adds more to the story and also to the gore but adds absolutely nothing to the game play and I fear removes some of the terror generated first time round.

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