Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Sam's Take: Metal Gear Survive Shows Konami Beyond Saving


Back in May last year, Konami CEO Hideki Hayakawa announced that, apart from Pro Evolution Soccer, Konami would now be shifting their focus towards mobile gaming. It was another bump in the long road of decline that Konami would be travelling down, with Hideo Kojima leaving the company in December after Konami was booed at last year's Game Awards, a damning report by Japanese newspaper The Nikkei listing the draconian working conditions at Konami, the cancellation of Silent Hills, and the subsequent anger by Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus all piling on the company.

The announcement of Metal Gear Survive is pretty much the final nail in the previously prestigious publisher's coffin, as it shows that all Konami cares about now is money. Why do you think that they announced a switch to mobile gaming? Because mobile gaming is where the money is: all of Konami's mobile games are F2P with microtransactions, the biggest moneymaker of all mobile game types. 

Little did they realise that, if they simply kept Silent Hills in production, they'd probably be making far more money than they are now. With the release of P.T, Konami and Kojima had captured the eyes of the world, but with the cancellation and subsequent meltdown, they instead got all of the hate. I get that Konami want to make money, but surely they realised that, if they just developed and released good games and, y'know, didn't piss off and lose possibly one of the greatest game developers of all time, then they'd make far more money from that than from awful mobile games? Surely Konami aren't that stupid!

So with Konami's newfound focus on pachinko machines, mobile games, and 4-player co-op survival-em-ups that will end up being undeniably average, sooner or later they will become obsolete. And we'll all yearn for the days when Konami were ambitious and cared about making good games - then quickly forget, because Kojima just released Death Stranding for Sony.









Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Carlo's Take: Xenoraid Preview!


(This article contains information and opinions about an unfinished product, which may be different in the foreseeable future.)

Flying and shooting things with a spaceship in a 2D plane seems like something that has been done many times over since the times of the arcade machine. So what can 10 Tons bring to the table utilising such an aged concept?

Let's start with the gameplay, and essentially if you've played one of these types of games before, you can expect a similar experience here: you maneuver a ship around the screen that progresses forward at a fixed pace, dispatching the foes which come at you from different sides of the screen. It's also a game best played with a gamepad/controller, as the keyboard and mouse controls, although fully rebindable, don't have as good of a feel to them when playing.

How Xenoraid attempts to shake things up however, is with the addition of different kinds of ships and an overheat meter. The overheat meter just prevents the tried and true tactic of holding down/button mashing the fire key, and the ship type variation assures you are equipped for different situations with scatter guns, laser beams and flamethrowers making up some of the arsenal.

Each ship has a pilot, and there are upgrades that affect individual ships and ones which affect all of them. You can take 4 on each mission, and can switch between them after a short time. If you choose to play in co-op, then the other person takes control of one of these ships and limits the amount each person can use. It's an okay system that you get used to, although it's nothing that changes the game entirely.

Xenoraid itself handles quite well. The ships control smooth and responsively, and shooting and switching ships is fluid. Fun to play and easy to get into, anyone can pick it up provided you have extra controllers. If it's too easy for you, you can also turn hard mode on, and there is also an extra survival mode just as an added feature.

The sound is average at best. While the soundtrack carries a familiar sci-fi, space faring tone, there is nothing about it that stands out. It serves its purpose, much like the sound effects in the game - while they do sound decent, they don't sound as impactful and futuristic as they could do.


Visuals and story are basic. You fight aliens on different areas around different planets, and new characters command your pilots along the way. It doesn't do much to set up a universe or to connect with characters, and something like that would have been appreciated. The overall aesthetic of the game is cartoonish. I felt the game itself looked fine, however the characters in between the missions could have used more work. They weren't as detailed as they could have been, but given how little it focuses on them it doesn't matter as much.

Overall the game as it is now is a mixed bag. I feel its simplistic style would more suit it towards a mobile console such as a Vita (Which it is coming out for) rather than the PC, but it is a enjoyable experience best enjoyed in short bursts.I would recommend it for a short playthrough for people who are fans of the genre that enjoy them purely for the gameplay - because there isn't much else that's excellent about it.

Monday, 22 August 2016

James' Take: The Metal Gear Survive disaster


Konami Please.

Last year, with the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Hideo Kojima finally left Konami, which was pretty bittersweet for fans of the series as this meant the end of traditional Metal Gear but the start of something great for Kojima as he now has his own studio.

However, Konami still own the rights to Metal Gear, and they won't hesitate to brutally dismember the corpse and flaunt it for all to see. Metal Gear Survive is one such abomination that is set to com e from Konami, being a 4-player co-op stealth action game. Unveiled at Gamescom 2016, the trailer appears to try and twist the plot slightly with the XOF attack on Mother Base opening a portal to some kind of desert world that sucks in all the MSF soldiers and the ruin of Mother Base.



On the other side, MSF soldiers appear to be defending the ruin of Mother Base from some Crystal Zombies that are totally not a rip-off of the SKULL Parasite unit from MGSV at all. The aim of the game appears to be survive against the attacks and return to Earth.

It isn't all that dark looking into the abyss of Konami's future for Metal Gear. Some of the team that worked on MGSV will be working on Metal Gear Survive and the game will be made in the prestigious FOX engine, which allowed you to fight a 40 story mech called Sahelanthropus. The game just won't have input from Hideo Kojima.



The game has been met with mixed reactions from the fans, some wanting the game to rest in peace and others sort of warming to the new pacing. Whatever your opinion is, Metal Gear Survive is sure to shake up the series and we can only hope that Konami show the series some respect in this regard.

At least it isn't a pachinko machine, Konami MGS3 remake pls.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Sam's Take: Suicide Squad

CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD


2016 seems to be the year of polarizing movies. Batman Vs Superman was hated by many, yet many DC fans vehemently refused to believe its shortcomings. Ghostbusters released a trailer that got record numbers of dislikes, and on release seemed to get reviews that either claimed it was the best film of all time or worse than Troll 2 - not to mention the whole ugly stereotyping and counter-stereotyping shitshow. Suicide Squad, as most people know, has got some rotten reviews as well, and once again many fans have responded angrily, in the form of a petition to take down Rotten Tomatoes for its apparent bias against DC as well as various other online arguments.

In fact, the word polarizing describes Suicide Squad perfectly. Tonally, the film seems very confused (most likely due to the reshoots ordered by Warner Bros, a frankly fatal mistake) it's unsure whether to focus on comedy or dark backstories. There are many flashbacks and side stories that seem rushed and unfinished, skipping over many details in order to cut down the already-large runtime. One great example of this is the introduction (and quick death) of Slipknot, a villain who can climb any building. He's introduced by being bundled out of a car, and a quick dialog with Harley Quinn is meant to establish his character. Five minutes later, he's killed by Rick Flag, and everyone acts as if nothing happened.

It seems that Warner Bros wanted to fit as many well-known songs as possible into Suicide Squad, because the soundtrack plays like a film made by someone who's just discovered Windows Movie Maker for the first time. The opening sequence is just a barrage of songs that transition into each other horribly - at one point, the excllent "Seven Nation Army" is played for a scene that totally doesn't fit the song at all. I get that Warner Bros wanted to have an all-star soundtrack, but it just seems like they tried to stuff in as many famous songs as possible without considering the tone.

Because of the sheer amount of characters in Suicide Squad, there's a big problem with their introductions and character developments, as well as the characters themselves. Killer Croc seems to just be a background for half of the movie, Katana (a samurai who's also hastily introduced) has a 1 minute emotional scene near the end of the movie but does virtually nothing else, and the Joker, who's basically advertised in every poster and promotional material about this movie, has about 10 minutes in the entire movie. Frankly, it's a shame he's not in it for longer, because he's unintentionally the funniest thing about the movie, overacting massively and generally trying far too hard to be a crazy Joker that he ends up being awful.

Will Smith and Margot Robbie are both great as Deadshot and Harley Quinn, although the latter seems to be relegated to "punchline lady" saying such great lines as "now that's a killer app!" after Rick Flag uses a phone to blow Slipknot's head off. El Diablo, a cartel leader/man who can shoot fire out of his hands, seems to have been written for by an old white guy, as evidenced in the line "You trippin' homie" and Amanda Waller, the leader of the Suicide Squad, seems to be a good character except for the scene where she shoots a load of her own men for literally no reason. Rick Flag is also a character in the film. That's all I really have to go on in terms of him. 

In fact, the best performance surprisingly goes to Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, who had the charisma of a half-buttered bollock in Terminator Genisys. Boomerang is the surprise package of the film, a genuinely funny character with a real personality. Sure, for most of the film he really doesn't do much because - at the end of the day - he's just a guy with a boomerang, but he's a constantly funny presence, a hilarious scumbag whose fetish for pink unicorns provides some comic relief.

Essentially, the main villain of the film is Enchantress, a 6000-year-old god who's meant to be the most powerful Suicide Squad member, but immediately (and unsurprisingly) goes rogue, because she's a 6000 year-old god who obviously can't be controlled. The fact that Amanda Waller even thought it'd be a good idea to include her in the squad ends up making her look like an asshole for the entire movie, since Enchantress ends up destroying most of the US Army's infrastructure, causing immeasurable damage. 

Honestly, once Enchantress ends up creating an army of clay people and fantasy elements start to come into play, the movie just lost my interest. If the main villain was, say, the Joker, then the film would make more sense - Harley Quinn would actually have a purpose instead of being included in the team because she has a baseball bat and tiny shorts.

And speaking of sense, there are so many things in this movie that don't make it. Deadshot ends up missing a shot with no explanation as to why, which is pretty confusing since he's never supposed to miss one; there's the aforementioned part when Amanda Waller ends up killing a load of FBI men for no reason just to show that she's tough, but easily the dumbest thing in this movie is when, after realising that Enchantress (whose doctor alter-ego is Rick Flag's lover) most probably can't be killed, the Suicide Squad end up going into a bar (in a city that's about to be destroyed) and just getting drinks. You'd think that Flag would be against the idea, and threaten to kill the villains unless they got up and fought Enchantress, but no, they just start drinking like friends. 

The film just feels so muddled and confused that it ends up being a cautionary tale for any studio that wants to meddle with their films. Suicide Squad could've been excellent, but Warner Bros decided to try and "fix" parts they thought were wrong instead of letting the director do their own thing, and ultimately the quality suffers. 









Tuesday, 26 July 2016

James' Take: Human Fall Flat


Personally, I'm not much of a puzzle game person purely because of my incompetence and having to use my brain for more than 3 seconds, but Human Fall Flat, an indie game from No Brakes Games made me appreciate them a bit more.

Human Fall Flat was recently released to the Steam Store with console versions coming soon. The game features you, just a regular human named Bob, making your way through a set of floating dreamscapes. The end goal of the game is to escape the recurring puzzles and explore the surreal areas you are thrust into.

The Good Stuff

Human Fall Flat is, in itself, a fun and quirky physics based puzzle game with fully interactive environments and secrets to find within the game. There's a total of 8 dreamscapes to go through (which to me is fair for the price of £12) and a local co-op mode which is quite unusual for games nowadays.



The puzzles are of course a key element to the game and thankfully they are put together well. Not being a huge fan of puzzle games, I was able to go into this game and still have fun. The puzzles are physics based as mentioned above, with you moving boxes in a Portal-esque style on top of pressure plates and swinging from trapezes. Everything feels fluid, which is a sign of good development for No Brakes Games.

The dreamscapes are seamlessly strung together, with you falling out of the end of one just to skydive onto another. Each dreamscape has a different theme, with there being a medieval themed castle and a modern construction site.



The game's core mechanics are introduced to you rather amusingly early on with you picking up remotes that teach you how to 'get high' (climbing) and grab objects with interaction.

Graphical options are slightly limited but that is to be expected from a game as minimalistic as this. The art style does suit the game in my opinion, and brought back some fond memories of Gang Beasts and Grow Home.

The not so Good Stuff

Unfortunately, I did have a few problems, but most of them are nitpicky and not real game breaking problems. The most prominent is how in some areas such as the construction one, it is not entirely clear where to go in some places which may throw some people off and some areas where physics is required may not behave in the way you would expect such as the boat section.



My more nitpicky problems are that the music in the game could have been used more often as it only pops in during certain sections, however for some people who prefer to listen to their own music it may be good. Up to preference. Another was that it would have been nice to have an editor/Steam Workshop support to add extra replayability, but this could be patched in at a later date.

Conclusion

Human Fall Flat is a quirky and unique little game that I rather enjoyed playing through. The game has it's own charm with it's customizable Bob character and being driven by creativity. Good job by the developers.

Thank you to the developers for sending us a review copy.

"I would recommend this game to any fans of Gang Beasts or Grow Home."