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June 23, 2018

Lego The Incredibles - Review

When it was announced that the Incredibles were getting a new video game, based in Lego, I was both a little excited and disappointed, now having played the game I find myself still in the same vain.

Lego The Incredibles tells the story of both movies and then some, giving you the most complete Incredibles experience around, the problem is, looking past the loose adaptation of both movies, it tells things out of order and it makes no sense. I can understand focusing on the new movie first, as the game released at the same time, but six months later or a year later, the game will be out of order, without focus and it will stand out quite a lot and rather than give you the option to jump into the first movie’s story or not, you can’t do it until you complete the sequels story. But the loose adaptations of the movie’s stories is not all you will get, you can also explore a fully open city, complete with missions, crime waves and of course, Lego collectables.

This is where the story comes together more, villains like Bomb Voyage will roam the city and cause chaos, letting you jump in and save the day, there are even scores of bandits just causing mischief around town. There are also left-over pieces of the Omni-droid from the end of the first movie, just strewn about the place, which again highlights the odd order of the story, but the biggest addition to the game, are the Incredible builds that you can do. Located around the world are giant pads, featuring the Incredible’s logo, when you find them, if you have enough bricks, you can begin a family build, which will use two, three or four members of the Parr family to construct something massive.

In addition to the family builds, there are also a few Pixar builds laying about, but you will only find those, once you clear each district of the crime wave, what makes them special is that when you complete one, a scene from a classic Pixar movie is constructed and then a character from that movie is unlocked. The unlocked characters are fun, being able to swim beneath the waves as Dory or take down enemies with a well-placed arrow as Merida, never gets old, however the customer character is where the real fun lies. A lot of the game requires you to have a character with the right set of powers, in order to access an area, containing a gold brick or one of the building bricks, but with the custom character, almost right from the outset, you can by pass a lot of that, but after you have completed both stories, the number of parts you can select from, means that your character could look and play like a few characters combined.

Jumping into the mission, that take you out of the city, is a mixed bag, there are some that are just mostly running from left to right, bashing people up and then there is that one vehicle part. The problem with the vehicle part is that you have to constantly swap between the bike and the robot that flies with you, if you want to survive, so you either miss items or take a lot of damage. The rest of them, are your basic Lego style mission, move around, bash the world apart, collect studs, build something crazy to progress and then rinse and repeat. The addition of super powers is nothing new, thanks to the DC and Marvel games over the years, but again, that combination of abilities does vary things enough, to stop you from getting frustrated at the thought of replaying an entire level, because you need one specific skill to collect one item.

Sadly, on Switch the performance is where things start to fall apart, the game looks decent, though the draw distance, when in the city is quite horrid, so you get a lot of fog in the distance; seeing as Lego City had no issues with this, I can’t imagine why it was a problem here. The other thing are the load times, when going into missions, they are not too bad, they can max out around 25-30 seconds, which is still high, but when you load into the city, the loading times can reach upwards of 2 minutes, which is crazy. If that was the only performance issue, you might be ok to overlook it, but the game also keeps loading screens on at times, even when a cinematic is playing behind it, meaning you miss out on things, because the game is not sure it’s done loading yet.

Presentation wise, things are ok, the visuals look decent, you can clearly see where things had to be scaled back on switch, the eyes and mouths for one, but the sheer number of jaggies you will see, they are everywhere. What hurts the game the most is the vocal performances and that is a shame, there are characters like Void, Winston and Evelyn Deavor and a few others, that are voiced by their movie counterparts, but Bob and Helen Parr are not. You might think, well that is ok, as other big names may not have returned, but Jason Lee is back as Syndrome, John Goodman is back as Sulley, Owen Wilson is back as Lightning McQueen and even Incredibles director Brad Bird as Edna Mode. So, having a veritable whose who of actors reprising roles but not having the two main members of the Incredibles is just weird, the worst part is, the voices flick between sounding somewhat familiar and nowhere near right.

Lego The Incredibles is a great game, there is tons to do in the city, plenty of characters and bricks to discover and with a second player, fun is sure to be had. However, the games load times and overall performance issues on Switch are nothing short of a pain and the confusing way the story is presented feels wrong, but overlook those issues and you are in for a treat.


Review code supplied by Warner Bros Games

E3 2018: Hands on with Team Sonic Racing

When Sega began to tease the next entry in the Sonic racing series, many people took notice, as the previous games were quite good, but now that the next entry is here, its not good news at all.


The demo at E3 consisted of a handful of characters and a single track, but with 12 racers on that track, most were just copies of the robot, in fact the demo overall felt much the same. The reason why it’s called Team Sonic Racing, is that you need to race as a team, you and two other drivers, have to work together, a solid idea, but the problem is that it means nothing in the grand scheme, unless you are playing with a good team.

When you race, two things happen, that are different from older games, first up is that when you collect an item, you can use it as normal, or if you hold onto it, another member of your team, may request it. In the same way that if you have an item, a member of your team, might hold up the same item for you to take and this system is how you level up your weapons, but giving and taking from your fellow team mates. The problem I encountered is that when racing with AI, they would never offer their items, but if I offered mine, one of them would take it, without fail, so it made levelling up my items somewhat difficult.

The other thing that the team racing impacts, is the leaderboard, you still earn points, based on where you finish, but it is the combined total that works towards your final standing. I can’t see many people being happy, to rank first in each race, only to come last in the overall, cause their team mates were in the bottom two each race. Playing with a team, where everyone supports each other, could make the game truly incredible, but so far, playing solo with cpu team mates is not fun at all. One aspect that I was unable to get an answer on, when I asked the question, was could you play without the team mechanic and sadly the person at the booth was not able to answer.

Team Sonic Racing looked great from a visual point of view, but the team racing mechanics could really hurt the game in the long run, but with many months until its December release, only time will tell.


The Seasons have arrived in The Sims 4

Dust off the swimwear, grab your snow boots and take some antihistamine, as the seasons are here in The Sims 4, the latest expansion for the long running series.



With The Sims 4 Seasons, Sims can experience impactful weather from four stunning seasons, revel in fun seasonal activities, decorate their homes for holiday celebrations, build out a deeper gardening career, and so much more. Each climate is unique and will impact Sim’s choices, relationships, and daily activities. Players will find plenty of new ways to use their Sims to play with life and tell amazing stories throughout Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer, in The Sims 4 Seasons.

“The Sims 4 Seasons expansion pack provides even more ways for players to tell exciting, relevant stories in The Sims 4,” said Grant Rodiek, Senior Producer. “The weather and passage of the seasons changes your Sims’ lives in delightful ways, whether it’s tossing on a raincoat to splash around in a Spring shower, shoving snow in a rival’s face in Winter, or harvesting some sweet honey in Fall. There is tons of new gameplay, challenges, and stories to tell. This is personally my favorite pack and our team was thrilled to finally craft this fan-favorite expansion. We cannot wait to see how players will incorporate the weather into their game.”

In addition to the ever-changing weather, The Sims 4 Seasons adds a calendar full of festive holidays for Sims to get together and celebrate with their friends and family. During Harvestfest, Sims can gather ‘round and enjoy a feast fit for kings. During Winterfest, a visit from Father Winter will brighten the day for any Scrooge-like Sims. After ringing in the New Year, Sims can enjoy a romantic date on Love Day. In The Sims 4 Seasons, players can even create their own custom holidays for Sims and choose how to celebrate. With a calendar full of festivities, Sims will be busy all year long!



Life is Strange 2 is announced and coming this September

Square Enix and DONTNOD have announced that Life is Strange 2 is coming to PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, beginning on September 27.



The first episode will be out then, but there is no word on when the remaining episodes will release.

If you are unable to wait until September, then next week The Awesome Adventures Of Captain Spirit will tide you over, it is completely free for everyone and ties into the upcoming Life is Strange 2.

New Gundam Breaker is out now for PlayStation 4

Bandai Namco has announced that New Gundam Breaker, the latest game in the long running Gundam series is out now for PlayStation 4 and this time, players can build their own unique mech.



In addition to that, each player of New Gundam Breaker will be gifted a certain amount of in-game currency with a day one patch on June 22nd. Players are free to spend 100,000 GP to their heart's content and acquire new parts for their Gunpla. 
Moreover, the day one patch provides improved stability for the online mode which is going to ensure smooth interaction with other players.

The game is out now for PlayStation 4, but a PC version is still to come.

June 22, 2018

Dragon Ball FighterZ comes to Switch this September

Bandai Namco have announced that Dragon Ball FighterZ will be landing on Nintendo Switch on September 28th and those who pre-order the game will get two bonuses.



When the game releases, all the released DLC that has been made available, since the game released on other platforms, can be bought as well. For those that pre-order you get two content drops, the first one being immediate access to Goku and Vegeta SSGSS.


Second one, the Japanese version of the classical Super NES game: Dragon Ball Z: Super Butoden.
But that is not all, Extra Pack 3 is coming for all versions of the game and will add a new fighter to the mix, Super Baby Vegeta

Baby is a parasite-like organism created from the DNA of King Tuffle before the extinction of his race. His only goal is to obtain vengeance against the Saiyans. By taking possession of Vegeta’s body, Baby became Super Baby Vegeta one of the strongest fighters in the universe. Try to tame its amazing power in the DRAGON BALL XENOVERSE 2 EXTRA PACK 3!



Unravel Two - Review

Shadow dropping a new game is always a risky move, there is no build up, no chance for people to get excited, but that is what Coldwood Studios and Electronic Arts did with Unravel Two, but was it a bold move?

Unravel Two continues the story of Yarny, the little creature made from red yarn, but unlike the first, where the game started off light and got darker, before getting light again, Unravel Two starts out at its darkest and slowly builds towards the light. Yarny is on a boat, that is caught in some severe weather and finds himself getting thrown overboard and whilst trying to use his thread to pull himself back aboard, it snaps and he is washed away. Soon he wakes up on land and immediately meets up with a blue Yarny, who I shall now call Yarnold and both of them have looses threads, but when they meet, the threads combine and the two become woven together.

At its core, Unravel Two is a story about loss, but more than that, it is about finding light in the darkness and no matter what might be happening, there is always someone there to support you. It is a strong message to be sure, but the game actually tells another story in the background, literally, while you play through the main story line, another story plays out in the background of the same levels and while no words are spoken, it is another strong message, about working together. The problem is with both stories, there is no clear explanation on what causes things to happen, or when they end, what was going on, its all up to your interpretation of what you are being shown.

One part where the game requires almost no explanation is in the gameplay, the experience from the first game, to the second is much more refined and provides a tighter experience across the board, but just none more so in the platforming. The game is first and foremost a platformer, with the occasional puzzle thrown in, which helps to break up the just running and jumping of the platforming parts. When you get to a puzzle, sometimes the solution is obvious, sometimes it is not, the good news, is that you can try again and again, as often as you want, in almost all puzzles, as there are no time constraints and only a few have danger about them.

Much like in the first game, you can swing yourself around, if you tie your thread to a point, but now, with the addition of Yarnold, you can do it from anywhere as well. As long as one character remains up high, the other character can lower themselves down and begin the process of swinging around, in fact there are a few times when you need to do that in concert, swapping back and forth between the two, in order to progress. Of course, if you play the game with a friend, you will each take control of one character each and then you need to work together to proceed, it is these parts, where you need to have the two characters working together, where the game shines the best.

Some puzzles will require you to stand in specific places, but as the thread that connects the two, is not limitless, there is a little trial and error, when trying to get both characters to the right spot. There are a few puzzles that require use of other items, to help you launch your self up, or getting to another ledge, these are fun and there is one in particular that requires some creative thinking to complete. The reason that you would want to make sure you master the skills, is that each stage has a number of extra sparks floating around, they are not hidden per say, but they do unlock more options after the game ends, also allows you to replay levels, once you have mastered some of the mode advanced moves.

The problem with the game though, is that it is short, even failing a number of times in a certain hot level, I beat the main game in just under 3 hours, which is crazy. While there are plenty of challenge stages to enjoy and as I said before, you can replay the levels to collect everything, the challenge stages can ramp up in difficulty quite quickly, the result being that you will likely stop playing them. I don’t want you to think that a short game is a bad thing, far from it, the problem is that while the game is short, combine it with the less than clear stories and the resulting feeling is one of just huh, rather than anything else. For my time with the game, by the time I was done, I did not feel any sense of accomplishment or such, just thinking, its over and then I moved on.

One aspect of the game, that I can get behind I the presentation, it blends more photo realistic looking spaces, with a heck of a lot of charm, something that many games fail to achieve, but Yarny and Yarnold sadly, don’t mix in so well. Walking through the wooded areas, there is plenty to see, lots of depth, light rays shining through the branches and such, it really is a sight, the problem is Yarny looks more plastic than anything, when you place him in front of things and pull the camera back. The times when the camera gets close to Yarny and Yarnold, you can see all the little fibres sticking out from them and they look right, but when the camera pulls back, they look wax-like and it’s strange.

The audio design however, is one I can get behind 100%, the score is a mix of quite and calm beats, but suitably ramps up, whenever the action does, but thankfully, it does not sound like its from another game, the themes still play through. A lot of the music comes from a Violin, which is strange to think of as the lead instrument, but when you are stuck, trying to work out a puzzle, having a nice soothing track behind the game, just playing softly, is a treat. There are no vocal performances here and I think that is another notch in the games favour, everything you see from the characters is conveyed via expressions and it works.

Unravel Two fixes a lot of the issues that people had with the first, namely tightening up the gameplay and adding a little more depth to it. The story, whilst starting out dark does get lighter as you progress and actually helps that the more you play, the happier you will feel and while the presentation is hard to knock a few issues with the characters cause a blemish upon, what is truly a great game, even if it’s short.


Review code supplied by EA Games

F1 2018 goes back to France for the first time in a decade

Codemasters has released a new video for the upcoming F1 2018, which has French nationals, Romain Grosjean, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, as well as Renault Sport Formula One Team’s Carlos Sainz, talk about how they feel that the French Grand Prix making a return.



This was also the first time that the four drivers were able to get their hands on F1 2018, which will release onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC worldwide on Friday 24th August 2018.

“Of course the French Grand Prix is the one I am most looking forward to in the year,” said Haas F1 Team driver, Grosjean. “It will be my first time racing in my home Grand Prix and a lot of French fans are coming to support us." 

“I have been playing games since I was a kid... and I haven’t stopped,” said Ocon. “The games have evolved massively and are getting more and more realistic. It is still my routine to go training during the day and I play for one or two hours in the evening... and I find it very useful. When we don’t have a race weekend I keep racing on my own.”

“This is my first try on F1 2018 and I am super impressed. I am a big fan of the games and have played them since I was a kid”, added Gasly. “Every year it keeps getting better. I am massively excited. To have a home Grand Prix is a special feeling. You can really feel the support.” 

Sainz commented: “I spend my time at home practising in the Formula 1 game and on the simulator at Renault. You can be sure that we do this kind of practice.”

Reflecting on the feedback of the drivers, Lee Mather, Game Director, F1 2018 said: “It is fantastic for us to get time with the real drivers. These are the guys who know what it is really like to drive these incredible cars and to have them give honest feedback is always extremely valuable. The fact that they were all positive about the game and the direction in which we are taking it is great to hear.”

IF that was not enough news for you, Codemasters has also announced that anyone who pre-orders the game will get the iconic 2009 Brawn BGP-001 and the 2003 Williams FW25 for free. Both cars will be available for separate purchase later on as well.


June 21, 2018

E3 2018: Hands on with Destiny 2 Forsaken


Bungie and Activision were doubling down on Destiny 2 at E3, not only was the new mode Gambit playable at both the Activision booth, but also the PlayStation booth, they had a BCD setup, where selected people could play the opening from the main quest in Forsaken and that is what I did.

The sequence takes place at the Prison of Elders, a new location set amongst the Reef, a series of floating asteroids and something has happened, which has let all the inmates break loose from their cells and start to take over the prison. Petra Venj sends you and Cayde-6 in to investigate, along with herself, with the simple plan of getting the prison back online and the inmates back into their cells, but as always, things don’t go to plan.

What took place after the opening cinematic, is honestly pretty standard Destiny gameplay, you run, shoot and repeat, there is little change in the gameplay. The enemies though are more varied than you would normally encounter out in the wilds, because instead of it just being a single enemy variety, you get them all and this time, you can just wait out a fight and taken on the winner. Because the prison was stocked with members of multiple factions, when they are all let loose, they don’t play well with each other, so when you enter a large space and see an enemy fighting someone, its usually another faction, so if you wait and then take down the winner, its less of a fight for you.

Eventually, you will make it to the room, where you can reboot the prison from, with the help of Cayde-6 and what follows is a tense survival mission, where you need to clear gunk from machines and then wait for Cayde-6 to complete his part. For that part, he remains tucked away safely in a control room, but that does not last long as Cayde-6 is killed and he is done in by Prince Uldren, a character that players first encountered back in the original Destiny and who seemingly was defeated, when he crashed his ship after being defeated by the dreadnaught ship, led by Onyx.

What his role is, in the grand scheme of things, is still an unknown, but given the number of baddies that litter the prison, it is unlikely he will be on his own. Bungie had announced changes to the way the weapon management would work with Forsaken, sadly, I don’t recall anything about how they work now, so I can’t compare them, but those who I was playing with, did seem to enjoy the changes, so that’s a good thing.

Forsaken aims to shake up Destiny 2, much like Taken King did for Destiny 1 and from the story portion that I played, I can’t see it, clearly the developers have more planed than they are talking about, but for now, it is just more of the same and that is not really a bad thing.

E3 2018: Hands On with My Friend Pedro

When I had the chance to go hands on with My Friend Pedro, I was honestly not sure what to expect, I had heard of the game but had honestly never given it much attention, so hitting up the Devolver event and jumping into a trailer, with the games developer and began to learn.

If I left the demo with one thing, is that the crazier you play the more fun you will have, playing it safe, well it will get you to the end of the game, but it will keep you from enjoying it. What makes the game fun, is just how crazy it can get and when your guide is a floating, talking banana, that is to be expected, but it is not just that, the gameplay offers up a heck of a lot of challenge, purely from just the sheer number of ways you can approach things.

I had the chance to play the game with Victor, the sole developer on the game, outside of the music and after he left Media Molecule, he decided to work fulltime on My Friend Pedro, to which he already released a flash version of the game years ago. The flash release, in 2014 gave Victor the confidence to go all in on a full game, thanks to just how many people loved that release and in 2015, the development went full steam and in 2016, Devolver Digital got on board and with that support, the game is now on track for a release in 2019, for PC and Switch.

Getting into the game was simple, you would run with one stick and aim with the other, basic stuff, but it was when the Banana took you into his realm, the hub where you level up and such, where things got crazy. Here you are given the instructions on how to slow down time, which gives you more chances to land some shots, but also you are instructed on who to duel wield your weapons, something that helps you out greatly. Pressing down the left stick activates the bullet time effect, making you move a little faster than the rest, letting you get those shots in, without you taking too much damage.

But when you can jump through a window and have to target two enemies, while also avoiding a third and then landing, behind cover, you will be grateful for that slowdown option, it really helps you get through some of the trickier parts. Aiming at two different enemies is a little tricky, when you move your aiming reticule onto your target, you need to pull down and hold the left trigger, which locks it down, letting you move the reticule again, to target another enemy, with two targets you could just unload your guns. Getting the second gun going does take a little bit of skill, but once you have it down pat, you can get really creative, including adding in some ricochet shots.

If you find yourself in a situation where the number of bullets coming your way, clearly outnumbers you, you can bump the left shoulder button and dodge the bullets, usually by way of a small twirl. When you start to chain all that together, slow motion, double shots, dodging and jumping around, the game can get quite chaotic, it looks super impressive and when you manage to get some skill shots, even more so. I did make the comment to the developer that if the main character was dressed like Deadpool, it would be the perfect Deadpool game and he noted that I was not the first to state that.

The only real concern I had with the game, is that shooting and all that, seems to be all it offers, yes there are boss fights and some small environmental puzzles to solve, but the vast majority is just running and shooting and while that might be ok for a short game, My Friend Pedro seems to be going to a solid playtime and I don’t know how that will hold up in the long run. While my time with the game was limited, I enjoyed it and while it is not coming to release until next year, I can only hope the game gets expanded a little more, than what is currently on offer.


 
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