Friday, 22 July 2016

Joe's Take: Star Wars Celebration Europe: Games



Here is a wrap-up of Star Wars Celebration Europe that I attended last week. This article will focus on the Games shown and discussed at the EA Star Wars Panel. Let's Jump in!

Rouge One and Battlefront Expansion! 
We got a first look at the next Battlefront Expansion (Read our review Here!). This expansion finally will add long awaited space battles, something many of us were disappointed was not available at launch. The first expansion to release this Autumn (Fall) is the Death Star expansion. I'm sure many of us have fond memories of the BattlefrontII Death Star map and hopefully this expansion will be able to fill that gap. Than coming around Holiday time, will be the Rouge One expansion to tie into the upcoming Star Wars movie. Also, Bossk and Chewie are being added to the game with this expansion pack. As well as allowing you to take part in the famous trench run down the Death Star.

Star Destroyer

Star Wars: The Old Republic- Knights of the Eternal Throne. 
Another Star Wars game that was 'teased' is the follow up expansion to KOTFE. However, not much was shown of the expansion other than an image showing- well- not much. This teaser received mixed reviews as some players have just had enough of the single player story, but the larger problem was that there was such a buildup for this expansion announcement but than nothing was actually announced. This disappointed many fans of the game as there was little point in putting it in the Panel as nothing of relevance was discussed. There was also an infographic, revealing some of the community's most impressive feats over the last five years. But having Lana Beniko, a companion anyone who plays KOTFE unlocks was a bit of a cop-out to be honest as she would obviously be the most recruited companion. Whereas they should have included only non-KOFE choices. You can watch the SWTOR 5 year Anniversary video here. So overall, this was an announcement that an announcement was coming later.

The Untitled Star Wars Game. 
We also learned slightly more about Amy Henning's and Visceral's Uncharted esc game. Stating that she wants players to feel ''like they played a Star Wars film. That means getting the structure right. Getting the tone right. Stakes and jeopardy. And it also means channeling what distinguishes the Star Wars films in game form''. Adding that 2018 couldn't get here sooner.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

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Monday, 11 July 2016

James' Take: Total War: Warhammer


Total War: Warhammer is the latest installment to the Total War franchise and it lives up to all the hype it was given pre-release. The game is set in the Warhammer fantasy universe created by Games Workshop around the End times when the new Everchosen of the Choas, Archaon, is set to invade the Realms of the mortals. The game features everything you would expect from a Total War game, campaign, custom battles, some new challenge battles and a co-op campaign.

The Good Stuff 

First off, campaign mode. The new campaign mode is really quite fun, with you marching across the Warhammer world, conquering settlements and building your Kingdom. You get the choice of 5 base races to play as, 6 if you bought the DLC or bought the game within the first seven days, Empire, Dwarfs, Bretonnia (who appear to not have a campaign mode), Vampire Counts, Greenskins and Warriors of Chaos with the DLC.


The campaign is unique to each race, with different Lords to lead your units and playstyles and mechanics to play with. For example, the Vampire Counts have the ability to raise the dead to build their armies and the Dwarfs can use the underway to move about the map quickly.

Battles are absolutely epic. Just the enormous sense of scale and the ability to have 6 armies of around 2000 men on the battlefield at one time and render such beautiful scenery, I just have to applaud the development team. All in all, battles feel more real than ever, down to the point where you can zoom in on a single Chaos Warrior and hear him scream "Blood for the Blood God!" blood and mud covers the faces of your men as they charge into your enemies' units.


The new magic system is also quite intersesting, with it relying on the amount of Winds of Magic points that you have to cast spells. The is a welcome addition as the enemy will not be able to spam Comet of Cassandora on all of your units.

Steam workshop support allows for modifications to the game, including more immersive cameras and alternate looks to almost every unit. A free DLC plan has also been announced for the game, with the first of the 10 to come already been released in the form as a new unit for the Vampire Counts.

The not so good stuff

Unfortunately, there is some faults to the game. Performance drops will be frequent when doing large battles on lower end rigs with the game being mainly CPU based to cater for all the units on the screen.

The free DLC also seems to be slightly ripped from the game as before this new DLC was released, the Vampire Counts did not have much good cavalry as this DLC adds. Also, with a new race on the way, it begs the question of whether it will be cast aside like Bretonnia were and not given a campaign or fully fleshed out Lords and Units.

Conclusion

With all of these points taken into consideration, this is definately a game worthy of it's title and place within the franchise being the first good Warhammer game in a long time. But, I would warn you that you will require a higher end rig to run this game properly and experience the game without to many performance drops.

"I would definitely recommend this game to anyone who enjoys either the Total War or Warhammer franchises"

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Carlo's Take: Is VR any good?

With the announcement of Playstation VR getting sold out despite not being launched yet, as well as the large focus on the subject at E3, it's easy to see fans are excited to see what the advancement of technology in terms of virtual reality has in store for the video game industry.
However, it's just as easy to be a skeptic compared to being a supporter. Remember voice control? Siri and the Kinect weren't what we expected; it could barely recognise a verb let alone an entire sentence. On the subject of Kinect, that was also a key member of the motion control movement, and it let people down as well. It was difficult to even get excited for anything related to motion, but VR is the real deal.

To truly see if the case is the same with Virtual Reality, we have to look at it from a few angles. The first is the actual innovation it brings. While some could argue VR had been tried and failed at before with the Virtual Boy for the NES, technology has evolved a hundred-fold since then, and now it truly feels like you exist in another universe. The graphics are better, the motion-tracking more accurate, with the ability to look anywhere and have the game go with you further adding to the immersion. This had simply perfected what people had been trying to do for years, and 3D does not come close in terms of immersion entertainment. Its innovative in that no-one has experienced that yet, and innovative in the sense that it actually works.

Next aspect is accessibility. Here is where some of the more advanced VR hardware e.g the Vive caters to few where others, e.g the Oculus, PSVR and Samsung Gear cater to many. Essentially it comes down to two things when talking about accessibility: Space and money. The Vive requires a large room's worth of space, not to mention a nearly £700 (approx. $800) price tag and a great computer due to motion technology present. Naturally that limits that customer-base. Oculus Rifts cost £410, needing a good PC as well. PSVRs cost £350, requiring a PS4 and Gear VR only costs £70 with a Galaxy phone as a prerequisite. Already it provides more options than previous "innovations", namely gesture attachments like the Kinect, or motion controls like the Wii (Playstation Move did not have much support) to make sure that everybody can experience Virtual Reality technology.

Finally (and arguably the most important) side of VR is the experience itself. While I haven't tried out something like the Vive, I have used another VR device, the Gear. My experience, as small as it was, still served to show the possibilities available with something as simple as a phone and goggles. A 110 degree field of view made sure I was fully immersed in whatever I was doing, be it exploring a Jurassic Park, flying around in a VR game or diffusing a bomb. Where I looked, I was. It's not for extended use however, as after an hour I started getting headaches and feeling sick.

Overall, VR is something completely new to the public, and unlike previous attempts to introduce something new to gaming *cough* voice control *cough* motion control *cough*. It's not got much now, but the possibilities are endless - find a way to try one if you have any doubts.

Monday, 4 July 2016

James' Take: Dark Souls 3


One of the few games I have been excited for and played in 2016 so far has been Dark Souls 3 and my God, it was quite a journey. I ended up pouring 90+ hours of my life into the game and enjoyed every single one of them. Being a big fanboy of the series, all I can do is try and write an unbiased review to honour this masterpiece of a title.

The Good Stuff



My oh my, Dark Souls 3. The music, the art style, the bosses, the lore. The music in this title was composed by Yuka Kitamura and Motoi Sakuraba and it is one of the best I have ever heard. From beautiful orchestral pieces to mixing together older boss music to create a new one. Art style meets the Dark Souls expectation of dark medieval but I noticed there was some areas that looked a little bit like Bloodborne. The bosses and lore are almost entirely brand new, with a few references and cameos from DS1 which were not unwelcome.

Gameplay is also pretty standard for a Dark Souls game with the added system of FP or Focus Points to use as mana for spells which is brought on from Demon's Souls. The game feels a lot better than Dark Souls 2 as well, with hard and weighty attacks feeling like they are instead of feeling like hitting your opponent with wet paper towels. New game plus and new game plus plus are also present with their respect rings and difficulty spikes available.



PvP and Co-op is still fun, with a designated PvP area being around the mid-game and people being honourable in the fights is quite nice. Co-op is great, with the addition of mad spirits from the Mound-makers covenant that can attack both the Host of Embers and Environment.

Finally, the story. The first time I beat the game I did the the easiest of the 4 endings and this took me around 30 hours. I had fun the whole way, with an intriguing, addictive and engaging story accompanying me the whole way. The story is based around you, the Chosen Unkindled (sort of a worse version of the undead) fighting all of the Lord of Cinder, great warriors that have taken it upon themselves to link the First Flame and return them to their thrones for the next Linking of the Flame.

The story also has multiple arcs and character quests on the side which can be fun to take you away from the quest for the Lords Of Cinder, and are in their own respect pretty good.


The not so good stuff

Now, there has to be a flaw to this seemingly perfect game. Some areas of the game have some consistent frame rate drops on PC, even on my build which is relatively high end. Otherwise, performance is pretty stable for the rest of the game, but these areas should have been sorted out for consistent frame rates as they are some of the most beautiful in the game.


My only other criticism is that some of the areas feel a little bit too similar to Dark Souls 1, which can be a little bit immersion breaking. Also, a couple of the boss battles seem a little bit too overpowered and can be a little too unfair, however I can forgive it as the game rewards you as it should for defeating it's harder bosses. On the other hand, there is one boss that is hyped up to be a total badass, but when you get to the battle it is really easy with a small trick.

Conclusion

I loved every minute of my time in Dark Souls 3 and I belive I will spend even more time playing it. It is a good starting point for a new player even if they may not understand some of the references from the older games, but anyone with enough skill could pick up this game and play it through.

"I would recommend this game to any fans of the series and anyone who wants a good challenge"