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January 21, 2019

8-Bit Hordes - Review


Petroglyph Games is a name you might not know by heart, but you will know their games, they have crafted some of the best RTS games including some Star Wars games and recently Forged Battalion, but they have been working away on their own little series, 8-bit Armies as well and have now brought 8-Bit Hordes across to PlayStation 4, but how does it go.

The game offers up three modes for you to enjoy, Campaign, Skirmish and Multiplayer, each has something a little different to offer, but Campaign is likely where you will spend your time. Once you select it, the game will ask which one you want, as it offers up two, one where you are immersed in the world of Orcs and skeletons and the other where you are humans and dwarves. If this sounds like some familiar territory, then you are on the right track as the game sticks to the well-known fantasy characters. The problem is, each campaign is broken up into a dozen or so mission, each with their own objectives to complete, but there is nothing tying one mission to the next, you just move on. This also has the downside of not providing any incentive to care about the characters, there is no single commander that goes from battle to battle, you just move from one to the next.


Actually, playing the game though, has some challenges that hurt it, but overall the gameplay is fun and open, meaning you don’t need to invest dozens of hours, just to get the basics down. Each time you start a mission, you will have a stronghold and maybe a few soldiers available to you, the rest is up to you to build. Some missions will task you with building a few extra locations, barracks and farms are the order of the day, and those are really straight forward and can be beaten with ease, the ones that require you to defeat someone, or take down a number of enemy encampments will be a real challenge. At the start of any mission, there are three things you will need to do, first is whack down some barracks, as the more you have the faster you can crank out soldiers, second are farms, if you want more people in your army, you need to place farms as that is the only way you can increase the population cap.

Once you have those down, it is time to start building up your forces, this is where things can get a little weird, when you create a soldier, you can use one of three face buttons to create him, which assigns him to that group, so as I played on the PlayStation 4 version, that meant that Square, Triangle or Circle were my options. This is very important, because once they are assigned to that group, they are there for good and you can’t select only a few members of any group, if you want to move one, you have to move them all. My process, after the first few missions, was to create a nice collection of soldiers in two groups, each that I could move around, the third one, would remain a much smaller group and they would live at the stronghold, giving it support, whilst my attention was elsewhere.


As with most RTS games, moving around the map is the only way to uncover enemy locations and reduced the ‘fog of war’ and here is no different, the catch though, is that the amount of map you uncover as you move, is quite a lot smaller than most other games, so you need to explore more, which in turn opens you up to more combat. This is where things fall apart the most, as most of he time, your soldiers will target the single point on the map you have directed them to, if you want them to engage a soldier, tower or whatever, you need to actually tell them. If they are attacked, they will respond in kind, but more often than not, the only time you will get things done is if you micro-manage them. Your group is not the only wonky AI, there are enemy soldiers that will run out into the middle of an open space, and shoot arrows at a tower or building, if they can reach it, and then refuse to run away, if you approach them with other soldiers.


Finally, the other important part of the game is resources, which thankfully is stripped down to a very basic system, something that I really enjoy. Your stronghold has a few carts at the start and they will run back and forth to some gold refineries, which is your way of building up resources. You can place more carts down, increasing your pick up rate, but also draining that vein of gold much faster, so it requires balance. Once your nearest vein has been drained, the carts will start moving to the next one, on their own, which is very nice, but also a pain, as the nearest one is more often than not, in the middle or at least at the edge the enemy. If they have to pass through the enemies’ sights to reach a vein, you run the risk of having them blow it up, as they are quite defenceless, the way to get around that is to build more strongholds, close to the vein, but that is not as easy as it sounds. In order to build more buildings, they have to be constructed within range of another one, so no plopping down strongholds right next to the gold. The challenge in doing it this way, is that each time you build a barracks, farm, sorcerers tower or something else, you leave them unprotected, arrow towers are a great defence, but they take time to build. While it is possible to beat most missions without worry about extra veins, pretty soon, you will need to pay some attention to them and unless you have been practicing, it will be something quite difficult to manage.


Once you have conquered both campaigns, or if you want something different, you can venture into Skirmish, which gives you a map, an AI enemy and a host of ways to defeat them. While the campaign missions are short, the earlier ones lasting only a few minutes, any skirmish can run well into 30-minute territory, even longer, depending on your play style and they are perfect for those looking for a meaty challenge. Multiplayer is the same, but against a real-world person and not an AI. A lot of people will overlook these modes until later on, which is a shame, as they can be a lot of fun, the Skirmish will give you a chance to flex your muscles, and explore the pros and cons of each building and unit, far more than you can in the campaign and multiplayer, if you are anything like me, which show just how bad you suck at the game.


One of the games draws is that is pulled from the same ‘universe’ as the other 8-bit games, just with a fantasy skin, visually, that is supported by the larger than life blocks, that help make up just about everything. Characters, buildings, trees, ground and everything else you can think of are made from blocks and while it does not really look 8-bit, it does look a lot like Lego, which is more than ok. The maps, even while covered in the ‘fog of war’ are still easy to understand, as there are clear distinctions between the height of the land. Some of the maps stick to the green forest look a lot, but there are some ice based levels and even some that start to blend parts together. Building designs are bold and standout, even with the two distinct looks, there is little hiding what each is supposed to be, if you learn one side, the other side is easy to pick up.

The sound is a mixed bag, the score is great at times, but there is a real push on retro inspired parts, which in and of itself, would have been great, except when they kick in, the game really wants you to know that they exist. When those parts are silent, you get a lovely fantasy soundtrack, that could easily be applied to a middle-earth style RTS game, it is simple and yet kicks in when the action does, helping convey that sense of scale and gravitas. The worst part are the characters themselves, each time you tell a group to move, they have a remark they have to say and they are annoying and shallow, the worst part they only have two or three, which means they repeat, a lot.


8-bit Hordes is a game that is easily recommendable to those who enjoy the RTS genre, or those looking to step into it for the first time. While the game has been out on PC for a while, its console counterpart is something that is a little odd, the controls are simple, but they cut away a lot of the potential for micro-managing units, something which you need to do in any good RTS games. For a launching point, this will give you the basics of the genre, without throwing countless amounts of technical parts at you.


Review copy provided by Soedesco

Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission comes to PC and Switch this April


Bandai Namco announced last week that Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission was leaving Japan and now the local group have confirmed it is coming to Australia.



The game takes place in Hero Town, an alternate reality where a Dragon Ball card game is the most popular form of entertainment. Players take on the role of Beat, the protagonist of Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission, and follow his journey to become the world champion of Super Dragon Ball Heroes. However, when the antagonists from the virtual game world appear in Hero Town and start wreaking havoc, Beat jumps into the game world and teams up with famous Dragon Ball characters to restore peace in the real world.


Wonder why Bandai Namco have decided to release the game out of Japan, well developer Masayuki Hirano shared the following explanation.

“Since the 3DS days, we published 3 titles on the 3DS and we always wanted to release the title outside of Japan as well. With the advent of the Switch hardware, and Heroes reaching a new stage from Dragon Ball Heroes to ‘Super’ Dragon Ball the timing matched perfectly here with the right environment. I received questions about Heroes. We’ve been listening to the voices of fans, and even during Xenoverse interviews, so I’m happy to say that we can finally release this brand. We would like to release this game on the Switch and also on PC so that as many people as possible can play it around the world. And this one will surpass that.”

The game is coming to PC and Switch on April 5th, so not too long to go now.






Fortnite is ready to serve up some ace fun at the Australian Open


Epic really struck gold with Fortnite, the game has broken gaming boundaries, making its way onto the news and family shows, but now the folks at the Australian Open are getting in on the action, but now in how you might think.

The Australian Open Fortnite ProAm is happening this Sunday January 27th and 50 duos, made up of celebrities, from the sport and entertainment worlds, will face off against some of the best Fortnite players around, to claim top prize and donate money to charity.

Local players Lachlan, Lazarbeam, Muselk, MrFreshAsian, all of whom are from New South Wales and Loserfruit from Victoria will battle it out against some international players, who are flying down for the event.

From the USA look for DrLupo, AlexAce and Valkyrae, from their northern cousin in Canada it is MrWoofless and from the UK, Vikkstar is here to represent. Travelling around the world for anything is always fun, but to play a game, on a world stage and for charity is just icing on, an already amazing cake. The folks coming had these things to say about it:

 "I am pretty excited to attend this event. I am looking forward to meeting all my fans from Australia!" said DrLupo, an American Twitch broadcaster.

"This is my first time visiting Australia and I can't believe I'm here attending the Australia Open while also playing Fortnite with so many incredible people,” said American gaming personality Valkyrae

“I’m really looking forward to taking part in the Fortnite Summer Smash at the Australian Open in Melbourne. It’s gonna be great to hang out with and compete against so many great players and people!” said British gamer Vikkstar.

“It's super exciting that an event like the Australian Open is also able to host the Fortnite Summer Smash. There are some amazing players coming out of Australia and it will be awesome to see that on one stage in Melbourne next weekend,” Muselk said.
 
Event organiser Mark Riedy said, “The popularity of competitive gaming continues to grow in Australia and having talent like DrLupo, Valkyrae, Vikkstar and Muselk all teaming up with some of the biggest celebs from sport and entertainment for the Pro-Am at the Fortnite Summer Smash is awesome for Aussies fans.”

The event will be kicking off at 3pm on Sunday January 27th, those who want to go can buy tickets here, those who are not able to make it to the event in person, can check it out via Twitch.

Talion is getting ready for Australia, complete with local servers


GAMEVIL launched Talion sometime ago on iOS and Android in parts of Asia, but as of today, registrations are open for Australian players, but it is not just a matter of playing a new game, they are also including Australian servers for the release.



If you have never heard of Talion, the game is MMORPG, that you can enjoy from your own mobile device. Create your character, venture out into the world, complete quests solo or as part of a party, is is a complete gaming experience, just in the palm of your hands.

Check out this gameplay video, which showcases some of the classes and attacks that you can unleash.


But choosing a class, is not all you need to do, there is also the very important step, of crafting your character, defining not only their gender, but their complete look.


Though, no matter how awesome the attacks or your character look, it means little if the game is constantly loading up a new portion of the map for you to explore, thankfully Talion has a number of open fields for you to explore, each with their own look and enemies to battle.


Finally, if you are wanting a real challenge, you can team up with 19 other players and battle against 20 more, in 20v20, Realm V Realm battles.


The game is free to play, but as with most will vary depending on how you play and if you opt to purchase items in game.

If you want to register your interest in the game, you can do so, right here.




January 20, 2019

Hands on with Katana Zero


It was announced this week that Developer askiisoft were partnering with Devolver Digital to bring Katana Zero to market, with the game available to play at the Devolver Digital booth at PAX South. Devolver was also kind enough to supply myself with a copy of the build, which meant I got to experience the game at my own pace.


Katana Zero tells the story of a samurai/killer, who is taking control of his life, by going to therapy and talking about his issue, kidding, it is a story that tells itself in the most unconventional way possible, via therapy cutscenes and in game cinematics. Each night as you go to sleep, nightmares plague your rest, as bits of your past surface, with more and more being revealed each day. During the day though, you have a mission to complete, usually killing someone, in the most violent way possible, but sometimes, you need to avoid being seen.

The gameplay is fast and frantic and each time I died, which was a lot, I knew it was my fault, because the game requires that you learn how to dodge and attack and if you don’t get that down pat, you are in trouble. Attacking is just sword attacks, but you can also pick up some items in the world, like daggers, glass bottles, large stone busts and hurl them at an enemy, taking them down in one shot. If you come across an enemy that has a sword or baton, they might deflect your attack, which will leave you open for a few seconds, time in which another enemy can take you down. Those dastardly foes that come at you with guns though, can be the easiest to defeat and the most challenging, because you are a samurai, you can use your sword to thwack the bullet back at them, miss time the hit and you are dead.


This is where the game gets a little trippy, because you are not playing the game at this point, you are planning your run on the stage, so when you die, it is like crossing out an option, you then get to try again. Once you make it through the stage, the game plays back your exploits, as if it was captured on a video tape, letting you watch it in one go, it is quite fun. With some of the levels posting enemies in some testing positions, it can take a few attempts to get through most stages, but when you do the result is quite satisfying. But you’re not limited to just your sword and dodging skills, no, you can also slow down time, which can help you out in some of the tighter spots that the game throws at you.


Slowing down time, does not make you move at normal speed, you slow down alongside everything else, the benefit to this is that you can time your attacks and dodges perfectly. The system is well balanced, while you have unlimited slow-down, there is a duration limit on each use, thanks to a meter that slowly depletes, empty it and time returns to normal. As you continue onwards, the meter will refill, letting you slow down time again and again. It does take some getting used to, as other games that have had similar mechanics are more about slowing everything but you down, so the inverse is weird to begin with, but so handy later on.


The game sports a really cool pixel art style, which is not quite 32-bit, but well above the 16-bit fare we have come to know, so think of it as a 24-bit style, characters have great expressions and thankfully, also suit the environments that they are placed in. While a lot of the enemies repeat, there are some very stand out characters, which I won’t mention here, as it spoils the story a little, but for the ones that do repeat, the game has a cool way of explaining why that is. The games audio is really nice as well, at the start of a mission, your guy will don a set of headphones and play a piece of music, with the name of it coming up in the bottom corner of the screen. The menus and effects are all retro VCR inspired and it is done very well, even with the occasional stutter effect on the screen.


Katana Zero is a game that is parts hack and slash, parts retro adventure and all parts fun, whilst I want to explore more of the story, as its unfolding in ways I could not have imagined, that will need to wait, as the game is not due to release until March.

Get the lowdown on Lapis X Labyrinth with this new trailer


NIS America have released a new trailer for Lapis X Labyrinth, which gives you the lowdown on all the things you need to know, before you play, check it out.



When a struggling village falls on hard times and is in desperate need of wealth, there's only one solution: gather your comrades, venture into the labyrinth below the Golden Forest, and claim the piles of gold and treasures hidden within! You will need all your courage and wits to survive the dangers ahead, but the treasures that await you are well worth it! 

Customize your team with over 4,000 unique combinations, then use the creative stacking mechanic to perform synchronized attacks. When you've racked up enough destruction, unleash the explosive power of Fever Mode to really make the cash flow! With 8 different character classes, engaging monster encounters, and stylish, over-the-top visuals, this adventure has everything you need to make it rain!

The game launches here on Switch and PlayStation 4 on June 7th.

January 19, 2019

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown has blasted to release on consoles today


Do have the need? The need for speed? Well you can get your fix today, as Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is out now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.



Those who are on PC, will need to wait until February 1st to get their fix, but when they do, they will be able to take to the skies and experience an all new story and world in the latest entry in the Ace Combat series.


Across the emotive Campaign Mode, players will dive into a world-wide conflict - with blurred lines between who is right and wrong - and experience sky battles bursting with graphical power. 
 
In Multiplayer mode, budding pilots can take to the skies in intense 8-player dogfights or Team Deathmatch mode. From cold, strategic aces to daring, genius pilots, each player will be able to customise their favourite aircraft with more than 100 different enhanced parts, in order to perfectly match their needs. 


Days Gone reveals new world details and special collectors editions of the game


Days Gone has been a bit silent since it slipped back from its planned release last year, to April this year, but now Bend Studios and Sony Interactive have started to talk about the game more. To do this, they have released the first of a series of videos that talks about the game, this time its all about the world.



I had the chance to play the game at E3 last year and came away impressed, hopefully the full game matches the expectations that I now have set. But if that was not enough news for you, they have also announced to special editions of the game.


Those who just want the base game, can do that now, but there are also two other versions of the game announced, a Special Edition and a Collector's Edition. The Collector's Edition looks amazing, the figure of Deacon St. John, leaning against his bike, is incredible. 

If you want to order yourself the Special Edition, you can do that here, but if you want the much cooler looking Collector's Edition, you need to click here.



All the Mortal Kombat 11 details you could ever need are here


After being teased at The Game Awards last year, Netherrealm Studios and Warner Bros Games have taken the wrap of Mortal Kombat 11, with multiple trailers, new character announcements and more, first up the gameplay trailer.



Eagle-eyed views might have noticed a new character in that gameplay trailer, that is because there is a new character. Meet Kronika the all-new, time-bending character and also the first female boss character in Mortal Kombat history, who is the Keeper of Time and creator of existence.


If you want to learn a little more about the gameplay, check out this deep dive, which was presented on stage at the reveal, be warned its about 10 minutes long.


Also, it has been announced that Sonya Blade is now being voiced by UFC champion, Ronda Rousey, who has been a fan of the series for a while.

“I’ve been a lifelong Mortal Kombat fan, and Sonya Blade was the first kick-ass, female video game character that I related to,” said Ronda Rousey. “Now I get to voice her in Mortal Kombat 11. It’s a dream come true to be a part of the Mortal Kombat franchise that I grew up playing.”


Finally, a whole new fighter was announced, meet Geras



The game is out on April 23rd for Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4, but the Switch version appears to be delayed a few weeks, no reason has been given though.

“We’re thrilled to showcase Mortal Kombat™ 11 and reveal the gameplay, new features and epic characters to the fans,” said Ed Boon, Creative Director, NetherRealm Studios. “We have an amazing community, and it’s an honour to share this celebration of the Mortal Kombat™ franchise with all of our passionate fans around the world.”

If you want a little more Mortal Kombat 11, here are the fatalities and a look at the behind the scenes.









 
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