Metro Exodus is a tour-de-force in apocalyptic exploration. It offers a rich, evolving world, brought to life with stunning visuals, immersive sound and ghastly creatures. These thrills and chills are irritatingly tempered with menial tasks, poor voice acting, dull stealth and a soulless hero, all of which prevent Metro Exodus from achieving its true potential. Behind these grievances, however, lies a thrilling adventure for anyone who dares board The Aurora. Just prepare to get your ticket punched.
Video games have really changed as a storytelling medium. what was once a casual dash from left-to-right, dropping baddies and collecting shiny objects, opened up into new realms of drama, narrative and even philosophical messages. Of course, that doesn't make these games immediately any better than the goofy platformers and shmups of gaming's formative years, but it has been amazing to see the many different ways gaming has been adapted by talented designers to tell all manner of dark, abstract and inquisitive tales.Into a busy market of chin-stroking titles such as The Missing, Gris and Gone Home comes Vane, a new PS4 adventure from Tokyo outfit Friend or Foe. Vane, like its brethren, eschews typical action gameplay to present a mood-piece adventure, not dissimilar from the work done by Team ICO. Vane wants to put freedom back in the hands of the player, letting them engage in a strange, mystical journey - without hand-holding - and with player-led discovery being the ultimate prize.
I remain invested in The Walking Dead as it nears its conclusion, now just two months away. Though the move to Skybound hasn't improved the technical reliability of the Telltale Games experience, the artists, writers, and voice actors continue to present a story that remains suspenseful, delivering some great individual moments, even if it sometimes pads the run-time to reach them. Beyond that, it's just nice to see you again, Clem.
With GRIS, Nomada has created an abstract adventure, as beguiling as it is haunting. By focusing on its courageous protagonist, and creating a bewitching but frightening world for her to overcome, GRIS succeeds with its short but unforgettable odyssey. Awash with meticulous detail, charming aesthetics, and smart design, GRIS is something special. Take the trip.
Arachnaphobe warning!Other than video games, my main passion is women dressed in suits, with drawn on pencil-thin moustaches movies. Whilst I haven't kept a complete tally of how many films I've watched, I know it's thousands upon thousands, with a personal best a couple of years back of about 200 in one year. I've seen a lot of the greats and most of the classics. But more importantly, I've seen plenty of the worst movies ever made.I don't mean some crappy horror sequel from 2006. I mean truly atrocious films of no redeeming quality. Shit like The Starfighters, Zombie-a-Go-Go and Americathon. I've also seen awful films that, somehow, remain wildly entertaining; R.O.T.O.R, Voyage of the Rock Aliens, Animal Protector and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.So many times, the question is asked "What is gaming's Citizen Kane?" Aside from this being one of the very worst questions ever to leave anyone's lips, we're also yet to find a true and fitting answer. But forget the artsy classics. What I want to know is when does anybody ever ask "What is gaming's Death Wish 3?" Well, if they ever do, you look 'em dead in the eye and you tell them it's Earth Defense Force 5, baby.
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight is a follow-up of sorts to the 2016 PS Vita title Persona 4: Dancing All Night and is the sister title to Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. Having released in Japan earlier this year, Moonlight and Starlight are now preparing to rip up dance floors on this side of the pond. So put your best foot forward and let's find out if the kids are alright.
There are plenty of things in Britain that aren't strong. The pound, the economy, my intestinal lining. But one thing that remains rock solid is our apparent nostalgia for the original PlayStation console. The launch of the PS1 was the moment that Britain apparently decided it wasn't "dorky" to play video games, thanks to trendy marketing tactics by Sony and a lot of demo pods in expensive nightclubs.As such, games like Crash Bandicoot, PaRappa the Rapper, and other cutesy characters, that your average Terry would have balked at in '93 as "for little kids", were now super-cool icons for the late teen/early 20's market. This nostalgic love runs deep even today, as exemplified by Crash's domination of the UK Charts for not one, but two summers in a row.Me, however, I wasn't sold. I didn't care much for the glut of 3D platformers that swamped the shelves in the wake of Nintendo's Super Mario 64. I was all about the punching and the giant spiders and the powerbombs. So, it's with a bit of sigh that I received my review code for Activision's Spyro Reignited Trilogy, which compiles three dragon-y adventures from the later years of the PS1. I played the original game way back when, but that has become a fog with time. Y'see, I don't particularly care for the genre, or the characters, or the starry-eyed nostalgia surrounding Spyro's brand.But the smug little bastard put me in my place, that's for true.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! (PS4)Developer: Bandai NamcoPublisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: November 2, 2018MSRP: $49.99 (No Drum)Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session, is the second of two Taiko games that launched last week, alongside Nintendo Switch release Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun. But whereas the latter's focus is on mini-games and party modes, Drum Session's PS4 release is more focused on the core Taiko no Tatsujin experience.Drum Session's rhythm-action gameplay is very straightforward. You bash along, on your drum controller or PS4 pad, in time to symbols that appear on a fast-moving on-screen track, ala Rock Band, Guitar Hero or any number of previous similar titles. The red symbols represent hitting the skin, the blue symbols require a tap on the rim. The larger symbols mean you strike with both sticks together, while extended yellow bars require players to hammer out a thunderous drum roll.Players score points for perfect timing, as well as for not dropping a beat, with extended combos making for major league scores. There is a large variety of songs to choose from, ranging in difficulty, and you can compete against a friend or against other player's "ghosts" online.
Damsel is an intense, occasionally frustrating title, for those who have quick reactions, an eye for planning, and a patience for repetitive death. Those who like their games challenging, twitchy, and demanding of player improvement should consider joining Damsel on her wild ride into the night. But those expecting story, adventure, or even mercy will likely find themselves thirsty for more.
The Missing: J.J. and the Island of Memories, is a short, dark trip through the nightmare of youth; growing up, discovering yourself, and existing among a society that rarely understands. Sure to be a divisive title, there are those who will find The Missing overpriced and melodramatic, while others will be taken by its surrealist story of undying friendship, ironically becoming an indelible memory to those who dare to experience it.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is a passionate retelling of one of history's most violent, bare-bones, and overwhelmingly macho tales. In that capacity, it does a great job. But it's not quite the masterpiece it could have been, let down by repetition, unlock grinds, and a lack of polish in narrative and mechanics. Regardless, with bucket-loads of adventure on offer, and a cathartic dose of the old ultra-violence, Lost Paradise is a fine weekend-filler, and a proud reflection of its legendary source material.
The Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle offers seven good (if repetitive) games for a great price. There's zero excuse for a 30-year-old game having terrible online in 2018, which is a huge minus here. But for those who fancy a violent trip down memory lane, especially with local buddies to watch their back, The Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle still provides simple-minded mayhem for not a lot of coin. Besides, you probably spent more than that on those money-hungry arcade cabs anyway.
Though SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is not the Gals Fighters 2 we may have been hoping for, it is a very daft, very fast, and fun brawler. There is a serious question of longevity to be considered, and veteran players should consider the game's simplicity before purchase. But in a group setting, or among newcomers, sisterhood of sluggers will get the job done, looking fabulous while doing so.
Blade Strangers is a fun, friendly, accessible fighter. It allows newcomers and experienced players alike the opportunity to throw down with some great characters, without necessarily concerning themselves with one-frame-links or meaty reversals. Whilst that lack of tech-depth may prevent Blade Strangers from holding the attention of the pros, or blowing up on the competitive circuit, it's sure to be a hit at any good-natured rumble with friends, battling for pride within your own four walls.
There's a very simple reason why so many modern pro-wrestling games are bad. Pro-wrestling is not a legitimate competitive fight, it's two or more people working together to put on an incredible, breath-taking performance. Wrestlers work within slight nuances of pace, timing and storytelling. The psychological skill of knowing when to kick it in and when to cool it down is just as important as the memorable characters and jaw-dropping moves.But in a video game, you're working against each other, because you're both trying to win. That's all well and good for FIFA, or Madden, or even Street Fighter. But you can't accurately translate the speed and intensity of modern pro-wrestling to a complex, realistic sim. That's why when Adam Cole (Bay Bay) and Ricochet have a ladder match in NXT, it's a breathless thing of beauty, but if you have the same match in a WWE 2K title, it's a boring clusterfuck. The more "realistic" the genre gets, the worse it gets.Fire Pro Wrestling is a long-running series that strips wrestling sims back to basics, while featuring deep gameplay mechanics and so many customisation options that it becomes less a competitive wrestling title, and more of a sandbox wrestling title. Fire Pro isn't attempting to perfectly recreate Sports Entertainment "like on TV", it's instead trying to encourage players to create their own memorable moments within the confines of the squared circle.
We Happy Few is unique. It features gorgeous environments, great music, twisted humor, and a magnetic story. It deserves praise for those aesthetics. But the game is what matters, and it is sadly lackluster in that regard, with bad combat, mundane stealth, and endless, frivolous mechanics. By choosing the fastidious "micro-management" path, We Happy Few distracts far too much from its true potential as a dystopian gaming classic. And that's the biggest downer of all.
The plot of Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is, as Shaq says himself "convoluted and full of holes". A poor Chinese orphan, Shaq Fei Hung, is forced to face up to his destiny when it becomes apparent that some of the world's biggest celebrities are actually demons plotting to keep the people in a state of moronic subservience. As dictated by The Prophecy, Shaq must use the skills taught to him by his kung-fu master, Ye-Ye, to travel the globe, take down the celebrities and save the universe.The game itself is a simplistic scrolling brawler. As Shaq, players take on wave after wave of drone-like enemies. Mashing attack builds up a combo, before ending it with Bayonetta-style giant boot finisher, Shaq also has a shoulder charge, a ground pound, and a fairly useless jump-kick. Various weapons can be gathered from the streets or dropped by opponents. Once you reach the end of a stage, you face a celebrity boss, who must be defeated to progress.The problem is, the game is just so numbingly repetitive. Despite the fact it is a mere six stages long, and can be completed in about three hours, it becomes so drawn out, due to the endless waves of villains - non of whom put up a decent fight - and tiresome sequences designed for variety, but are just tedious. For example, one stage has you push boulders down a hill onto enemies for what seems like an eternity, before you move to another hill and do the exact same thing again. Occasionally a stage will lock you into an area, power you up (such as with the "Big D" Mech suit) then force you to defeat, literally, 200 baddies before you can move on. Even though you can mow through them with ease, it's just really boring to do so.
This is about as pure as a game can be. You learn how to play it in a few minutes, but can sit with it for hours. Its stylistic visuals and awesome soundtrack draw you in and keep you hypnotised, while addictive and challenging gameplay teases you with frantic block-dodging mayhem, great multiplayer modes and weird, surprisingly emotive "characters." In a time of incredible looking, but often flabby titles, it's nice to be reminded that, sometimes, Just Shapes & Beats is all you need.