‘Life is Strange, Episode 5: Polarized’ Review

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MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT!

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DontNod has given us a fitting conclusion to this episodic finale where Max Caulfield has to make the final, difficult decision for what matters to her most after the last week. The question is whether in the end it meant any difference to us and if we really had a choice in the matter? This story has been a coming-of-age where Max has had to make all these huge decisions and how we’ll finally see it all tie together with an emotional, dramatic and captivating end.

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Episode 4 left us off in a worrying position with everyone wondering what could happen next, and the unpredictability of what would happen next wasn’t just a danger to Max, but everyone else around her. The game itself felt unsure how to tie all its endings together, instead of being a frightened girl from the first episode Maxine is now fighting for herself and everyone around her, trying to make everything right in desparation and doing whatever she can to see Jefferson and Nathan brought to justice.

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We’re taken back and forth through time, exploring both the best and worst moments of the game and all the choices that have had to be made. Reminding Max and us of all the conversations, retreading the past and providing a dark look inside of her mind. She feels as though everyone has been let down by her and now the hurricane will destroy everything that she’s loved.
Jumping back and forwards through time allows us to see those we’ve lost and where things went wrong, but this episode negates a lot of that and we’re able to save characters such as Kate (who I lost in Episode 2). I loved and hated this as it felt like such a vital choice in the game for me had been completely negated, but I loved Kates character design and wanted her back deeply after feeling I’d made a huge mistake previously.

I felt this episode managed to fully utilise the time rewind mechanic which hasn’t felt used since the ending of Episode 3. The power takes more of a backseat approach though, with the player not personally using it, but more of the story being heavily reliant on it’s ability to foreshadow the decisions ahead, and resurface those we’ve made.

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The villain for the game seemed great for the first 4 episodes, being careful and mysterious, who was being very clever in their abductions and murders, never leaving much evidence. Yet in Episode 5, I felt that the writing for Mr Jefferson wasn’t that great overall. He deliberately spoke in the typical ‘evil genius’ way giving away his master plan because there was no way he could be stopped. The dialogue for the game wasn’t at its best either, with very typical lines such as ‘you will not get away with this’, slightly ruining the moments when you felt like this was a life and death situation.
Lucky for us we’ve got the power of time and space?
DontNod missed out on a lot they could have done here and even take care of him in the first 30 minutes of gameplay. The whole beginning of the episode felt very rushed in order to get to the middle and end and show the power of Max’s decisions.

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With all the emotions flying about this episode I’m happy that players finally had the choice to see where they wanted to go romantically. Personally I’ve always loved Chloe and felt it was only right to be with her, as the game always felt like I was being pushed in that direction. However, Warren was also a fantastic character who was there for you when you needed him and those of you finally get to have that teen romance if you choose.

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The final choice of the game summarises the only way it ever could have ended. Yet this felt unfair due to the consequences of the game. It ultimately comes down to the ‘needs of the few, over the needs of the many.’ Where you could be incredibly selfish and choose a sad, demoralising ending where everyone will die apart from yourself and Chloe, leading to an unsatisfactory end to what’s been a great story. The Episode constantly feels like it’s trying to push you towards a great ending which helps Max see the valuable lesson of life and how some things need to be left alone, that has you sitting down crying over how it’s unfair but you need to say goodbye and do the right thing.

Overall

Excellent example of a young girl trying to bring justice to all her friends and stop anything which could cause people harm while ultimately being the issue behind a lot of the destruction. The story is wonderful to behold, with a great detailled side character supporting you all the way throughout. The main character which began as a very emotionless, has been supported with a colourful and interesting cast (and side character) that’s led to moments where you’ve wanted to break down crying and want a hug. The dialogue has felt lacking from the beginning of the game with some bad writing, but the graphic and emotion backing it picks it up. It’s a fantastic human drama that teaches you an important story, but only if you pick the right ending that seems appropriate to the game while the other feels confusing and wrong.

8.5 / 10

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‘Life is Strange, Episode 4, Dark Room’ Review

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(Warning, massive spoilers, discussions on euthanasia and suicide)

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Life is Strange just keeps throwing different emotions at us with each episode!
After the experiences from Episode 2 and 3 I didn’t expect anything like Episode 4. We’re introduced to a paralyzed Chloe (whose completely different from the one we know) who ends up wheelchair-bound all because of the changes we made to save her fathers life. Within minutes the player ends up being faced with a choice that has had many people I know close to tears, to euthanize and overdose your friend so she can die happy before the condition can worsen. This has to be one of the darkest choices i’ve ever made within a game and I love and hate DontNod for giving us such a choice in a game for a character we’ve come to know and love for the personality and enjoyment she’s brought to the series.

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This gives the protagonist Max plenty of ugly choices right from the beginning of the episode and takes us through a roller-coaster of events. The entire episode ends up going back and forth a lot, with the players choices not suiting the character as a whole and not making a lot of difference to the entire story. It felt more like a set-up for the final episode (which I’m not entirely against or for) as it made the episode feel a bit pointless in itself. While Episode 2 was filled with emotional trauma and gave Max so much character backstory as well as making her more emotionally lovable, and Episode 3 showing the closeness between two friends and the love for one another as well as the bond between Chloe and Max if they’d been able to spend more time together.

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Episode 4 brings forth a darker and more grim sense of things not just at the school, but all around Max’s town! It explores all the issues from the previous episodes, what’s happened to many girls and not just Rachel and Kate in the local area, in addition to the corrupt family which seems to be pulling all the strings. Everything is very cleverly connected, but is messed up by another poorly-explained picture puzzle. When you connect the evidence together it’s time consuming, tedious and frankly annoying, Especially when you can’t even see the pictures correctly.

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The ending of the episode came to a great finale that left me wanting more again, I was confused at the events which had occurred and constantly questioning why everything was happening and if there really is any way that this game can end on a positive note. The game itself has become one of the most unsettling i’ve ever played where all the enjoy-ability and fun from the first episode appears to have been sucked out and replaced with a panicked, scared protagonist who is just as confused as us to what’s going on.

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I am still finding the game a positive player experience that’s experimenting with players emotions and trying to find the right balance of what players want within a videogame where their choices are apparent. Yet DontNod still struggle to find the correct way to portray and show off the character in the correct light and this episode proved they still have a lot to learn with their character design.

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Overall

This episode had an incredibly strong start that made the player feel downright terrible for their choices throughout the game and become an emotional trainwreck, unfortunately this didn’t spill into the rest of the episode which became more tedious through its puzzles and poor episode preparation. The game is beginning to feel a bit drawn out, yet the sense of intrigue is still there with a few interesting segments through the episode which kept you on your toes, as well as the haunting ending which left my jaw wide open. I can’t wait to finish this series!

6.5 – 7 / 10

‘Life is Strange, Episode 3: Chaos Theory’ Review

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(WARNING – Article contains mentions of suicide, additionally spoilers) title After the train ride of emotions that was Episode 2, I was quite worried about how Episode 3 would be, how the story would continue and most importantly what was going to happen to Max and her life. I was surrounded by people ‘pretending’ about how much they cared for Kate when previously they’d all back-stabbed her. Although it was good to see the weight of the events and how it would bring the characters closer together and making them more likeable. We finally managed to see a different side to this world that made everything feel more ‘human’. Even with the ability to rewind time and the upcoming destruction of Arcadia Bay, and Max’s increasingly unstable powers, everyone had heard of Kate’s death within my game with a mixture of condolences or complaints, it was especially nice reading the texts and computer messages offering the player sympathy. fasg Episode 3 had the perfect atmosphere after its predecessors traumatic events, giving us a breather and allowing us to bond with Chloe even more, before ending with something equally as powerful that had me sitting in my chair in shock, and in anticipation for Episode 4, believing I had ruined absolutely everything. DontNod have really decided to drag players through a multitude of different emotions that’s had me crying over what to do next. I believe that DontNod wanted to see how far they could push both the player and Max Caulfields powers, potentially reaching the limits of what it’s able to do, or maybe it’s a hint to how we might be able to save everyone from the coming tornado (also people make a lot of lighthearted jokes in the game about the upcoming destruction, I felt this distracted from the seriousness of the event and relaxed the gameplay). etf The dialogue of the game has remained the same throughout, with the constant abuse of time-rewinding in order to achieve information from characters and use it to your advantage. However I’m beginning to overlook the style of writing and way people talk as it feels as though Life is Strange is taking on its own personality and showing the world its potential and its effectiveness at bringing out the humanity of people (including the vile Victoria Chase). In this episode I didn’t feel as though I had a lot of power within the games choices and no matter what I did it would have ended the same way which left me a little upset, however the few important ones available did make you question if you could ultimately do anything about the destruction to come, and if siding with certain characters would even make a difference. faf We experienced similar puzzles to Episode 2 where we got to make a device to break into the principles office. However this time it allowed us to go into a greater level of exploration, such as going around Blackwell Academy at night (some scenes the game was so dark I struggled to see what I was actually doing). Yet it felt like these were more for us to hear Max’s thoughts on everything which had happened and fill the gaps in our knowledge about certain people (such as Rachel and Nathan) and their personalities as well as their effect on the community as a whole. Many people seemed to be against Rachel except Chloe who remains desperate to find her, yet i’m getting increasingly worried that she may be dead. ghserdhhgersd We do learn that Max has  the ability to travel incredibly far back in time after reminiscing over a past photo and how things could have been very different. This ultimately has a butterfly effect and how making the slightest change to the past can have a massive impact on the future, even larger than Episode 2’s consequences. This changes absolutely everything and as you progressed through the episode thinking the worst had happened it only got darker and more disturbed. It’s left me worried about what else could be changed in Episode 4 where I presume more has changed than it let on in its last minutes… fweaqfg Overall Chaos Theory didn’t offer many game changing moral choices, but I don’t believe it mattered here, we needed to relax from the harsh consequences from before. Max’s powers are taking an increasing and worrying turn where the world around her becomes shaped differently which is only her fault! DontNod is offering larger dilemmas every Episode which has me bracing myself for Episode 4, as well as contemplating what it would be like if you had this power. Would you try and turn back time to save someone even if it meant changing everything? Would you be ready for the unexpected? Life is indeed strange and the storytelling is only getting more powerful with every episode. 8.5/10

‘Fallout 4 Trailer’ Review

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“War never changes”

The Fallout games have always been iconic franchise in the gaming community and to this day continue to be played by many for the apocalyptic feel and enjoyment that very few other games have been able to capture in the same sense.

Bethesda Game Studios’ has been all that people can talk about over the last few days due to the surprise reveal of a countdown on Bethesda’s website with the message “Please Stand By” alongside a 24 hour countdown which has led to the announcement of Fallout 4’s teaser trailer, and I doubt anyone was disappointed.

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The trailer begins within a bombed house with a dog wandering around it, though the house keeps passing back and forth between how it looked pre and post apocalypse, while in the background the radio swaps between music (by The Ink Spots ‘Its All Over But The Crying’) and announcements with the world “Poised on the brink of war” before cutting off and returning to “folks, er, it seems we’ve got some breaking news..”
This set a very cutting edge tone for the entire trailer and gave me flashbacks to the excitement gained just by seeing the Fallout 3 trailer with the music “I Don’t Want To Set The World on Fire” by the same group, which already built up the anticipation.

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We further explore the house before heading outside with the dog who sprints down a long, destroyed street which changes to its pre-war version with people running around in panic with Vault-Tech radio reporting “We do have coming in, confirmed reports of, nuclear detonation!”
This hints to us that we’ll potentially get to explore life before the war and play as someone before they enter a vault or even just so we get to see how the apocalypse began and led the world to the chaos it has become.

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It has been confirmed that Fallout 4 will be taking place in the Commonwealth around the city of Boston, with Diamond City being built around Bostons largest stadium, as well as the Bunker Hill Monument , Scollay Square, Olympia Theatre and the Massachusetts State house, with an additional mention to the USS Constitution which has crashed after a rocket voyage. Additionally Armoured Zeppelins will appear around the game as well as travel in the new Vertibird used by the Brotherhood of Steel and possibly controlled by the Zeppelins .

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New and old enemies appear to be shown in the trailer including the dreaded Deathclaws and what looks like a newer version of rabid ghouls, alongside different versions of the same robots, androids and cambots  from both Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Naturally new weapons will also be introduced into the game and we get a glimpse at a rifle sitting by a bench in the trailer alongside T-45D power armour which notes that there may be power armour customisation within the game.

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The Protagonist of the game appears to be an inhabitant whose come from vault 111, as we get to see the vault opening alongside a player crawling out of it.
As the dog goes up to the man we do also get to hear a voice from him, which begs the question whether there will be character customisation such as age, ethnicity, race? Especially as the man shown is around his 30s with a much more fitting version of the original vault armour. Maybe we finally get the first voiced protagonist of the game with a pre-assigned male and female voice. In addition it seems the Pitboy-3000 will also continue to be the characters Menu and UI system which I have no problem with as I loved messing with my Pitboy.

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Overall this game has been an incredibly long wait for those who’re long time lovers of the fallout franchise and that this teaser will quench that first for just a little bit longer, if you wish the game can be pre-ordered now for £49.99 and is also available on steam. The game will be released on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

‘Life is Strange, Episode 2: Out of Time’ Review

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(WARNING – minor spoilers mentioned, in addition to a slight mention of suicide issues)

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This episode was an emotional train-ride from start to finish, focusing on flaws within specific characters and the consequences which can come about bullying. It tests your memory and can break your heart through the choices you make with its incredible finale. This story has suddenly shown how much a video-game can impact your emotions.

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Episode 1 brought us plenty of different characters which everyone’s experienced in their life, the school bully, the ‘cool kids’, skaters, nerds and most importantly the bullied. The characters performances in the game were often strange and disorganised, whether it be their scripting or the way lines were said, it remains to be an issue. While the plot itself would slow down while Max gets to know the people within each scene in case she needs to rewind time later. Though the choices made and their impact are hidden from the player rather well, the subtle decisions can mean a huge change later in the episode or maybe even the series.

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Players may have been more focused on Max during the first episode, wanting to understand her new-found power and her relations between the other characters. This episode has a profound effect on Max’s future and spends a lot more time giving other characters the spotlight, allowing you to warm to different people such as Chloe and her characters arc while not just sticking to the main protagonist, increasing the chance of relating to her and enjoying playing through the story.

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This episode our attention is turned to Kate Marsh, a previously met character who has been the victim of an unfortunate and humiliating event which has been posted on the internet and gone viral, and leads to a very dramatic story. I found myself bonding with Kate for so many reasons and did everything I could to try and make her feel better, even if it didn’t seem to be the best intentions from her point of view where there have been a lot of dark issues (drugs, sexual abuse).
Placed in a situation where I had to make a lot of very tough decisions which i’ve not felt since playing ‘The Walking Dead’ by Telltale, Dontnod found the perfect way of making the player feel guilty if they made the wrong choices in an incredibly upsetting outcome.

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It’s very unfortunate for the player because they don’t wish to dedicate all their time to Kate and I found it really hard juggling the different friendships in this episode and it’s made me realise that in certain situations no matter what you do someone’s going to be hurt.

The episode really dabbled with emotions, and during a  scene with Chloe in a junk-yard she considered her special place, it gave you more of an insight to Max and how she felt about her best friend after so many years. While exploring you felt slightly jealous of how close Rachel (the girl who has been missing for a long time now) and Chloe were, especially since Max left her before the series. Episode 2 managed to make the character understand and be reminded of those teenage friendships and the bitterness that came with it, while Episode 1 set the initial stage for it.

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The unfortunate downsides to the second episode focus on similar aspects to the first, mainly concerning the dialogue and character movements, especially when delivering their lines. I can understand the difficulty of making the painted graphic aesthetic work well with the scripting at certain points. While the writing works well especially in scenes of drama a lot of the time some lines sound inappropriate in their placement and you sit there going ‘did she really say that now?’
Even with the fantastic scenery this episode a lot of people have commented on the weakness of the puzzle-solving in the game such as the tedious scene with Chloe where you had to prove to her your powers by watching everything that happens within a diner, rewinding, and then proving it in sequence. While the significance of this is shown later it feels pointless and you ignore its importance (While learning that Max is slowly being affected by her powers).

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Overall

Out of Time has taken all its initial elements from Chrysalis and capitalised on them really well. Allowing the player to continue rewinding time and make big decisions whilst also testing the powers in a series of puzzles. While the previous one caused you to constantly change your decisions, hearing both sides of a story you ended up feeling more decisive this time, and when I was prevented from rewinding at a certain point everything that followed carried incredible weight on myself and felt very stressful. It’s led to a great cliffhanger and I now can’t wait to continue the next episode just to see where it moves on to.

This game could lead to something truly amazing!

8 / 10

Steam ‘Ubisoft Weekend Game Sale’ short reviews

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Ubisoft weekend sale

For the next few days Ubisoft are having one of their big deals so I’m going to do some quick reviews on some of them I think are worth looking at if you’ve not played them yet.

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WATCHDOGS
WatchDogs has a fantastic storyline while bringing a cool, innovative idea where you control the world all at the touch of a mobile phone. the games mechanics are easy to get used to with some fast paced combat, especially when your phone powers can adapt the battlefield to work with your favour. The open world has great graphics and feels like a personal playground, while multiplayer is unique when you hack other players for money and experience. Not as revolutionary as people hoped it would be but it’s definitely polished and a fun to play.

8.5 / 10                           50% off RRP for everything for WatchDogs
£11.99 regular edition, £15.99 deluxe edition, £18.71 all DLC (inc Season Pass)

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Farcry 3, Farcry Blood Dragon, Farcry 4
All 3 open world FPS’ grip you from the very beginning and offer their own great campaigns which are lengthy and enjoyable. You get the same level of freedom in the games like that of a Just Cause game. You have to put a lot of time into them for full completion but there’s plenty to explore, with each offering beautiful graphic worlds that you can fully immerse yourself in, with fast travel allowing you to get around and explore. The AI in all 3 is on point, ranging from tigers and rhinos in FC3/4 to T rex’s in Blood Dragon. While FC3 and 4 provide great forest scenery and gun-toting awesome, BD offers lasers and dragons with a ton of flashing neon lights, plus you swear at everything you kill while sticking your middle finger at monsters(and i mean literally, go and press the F button), but it’s slightly shorter. They all have their bugs and glitches but that adds to the insanity.
Farcry 3 = 8/10,     £3.74 (75% off)
Farcry 3 Blood Dragon = 8.5/10,     £2.99 (75% off)
Farcry 4 = 8/10,     £26.99 (40% off), GOLD edition £41.99
Farcry Franchise Pack 2015(FC1, 2, 3, BD, 4) £38.39 (60% off, £95.99 RRP)

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Assassins Creed Franchise (Revelations, 3, Black Flag, Unity, Rogue)
Each Assassins creed game has brought its own new maps, abilities and weaponry. Although it’s a great game that had a fantastic start which made you feel like a proper assassin where you followed your own guidelines, but deep down there’s a dark conspiracy. The series is actually fun and each game has adapted its own style. Unfortunately AC has fallen out of touch over time, losing its ‘main story’ outside of the animus and now it seems that it’s being pumped out too frequently without proper testing.

The graphics of the game do constantly improve and remain to be stunning, but when Unity came out it was just full of issues and problems which caused outcry and a lot of upset. AC combat is very smooth with a good counter system and some awesome assassination mechanics. The AI can be a bit silly sometimes and you will sometimes just drop through the ground for no reason. The Naval combat in the series after AC3 was absolutely fantastic, you will take such care of your ship and upgrade it to your style, then enjoy sailing with your crew to go against brigands and bigger ships. When new environments are put into the game they are immersive and fun. With hundreds of hours of content, the games are fun it just depends on the time you’re willing to put in.
AC Series overall rating = 7/10
AC Revelations (75% off) Standard £3.74, Gold edition £4.74
AC3 (75% off all) Standard £3.74, Deluxe edition £7.49, all DLC £14.71
AC Black Flag (50% off) Standard £7.99, Deluxe edition £11.99
AC Unity (40% off) £26.99, Unity & Rogue bundle(27% off) £62.04

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Trials Fusion
Riding a motorbike has never been so fun, the Trials games offer tons of stuff to do with plenty of levels to play. There’s a lot of different bikes to pick from and use, ranging from bmx bikes to race bikes. The game comes some great mechanics that take a lot of learning, and you will fail and crash multiple times, each funnier than the last. With a few bugs where you get trapped in the wall after your bikes exploded, or you get stuck in the ground after a drop. Plenty of challenges will test your abilities in this game and while frustrating it also makes you more determined. Great graphic visuals with lots of colour and awesome environments in the background. You will lose yourself in this game with hours of pleasure.
7/10
Trials Fusion (60% off) Standard £6.39, Deluxe edition £12.79

‘Saints Row: Gat out of Hell’ Review

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Before reading any more it has to be said, if you haven’t played Saints Row 3 or 4 you should do so. Otherwise your mind may not be able to comprehend the madness that is Gat out of hell, or it may help you realise if your SR satisfaction has been quenched or not.

The Saints Row series has proven itself to be serious, funny and absolutely insane! Turning away from the comparison of GTA to choose its own path, whether it be from and alien invasion on earth causing the president of the world to take action in an Anti-Air gun, or a Matrix-esque virtual world. Only Deep Silver Volition(aka Volition) could top it off with a trip to hell to save the Boss from marrying Satan’s daughter Jezebel. 

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Graphics / Story

Being thrown into Hell is definitely an interesting feeling. The actual world itself is half the size of SteelPort which still gives you plenty to work with, plus the atmosphere is perfect! You definitely feel as though you’ve entered a twisted realm, it may not feel like the underworld or a place where Hades would hide, but when the buildings look the monotonous colour of brimstone with lava dripping from flying rocks, crazy architecture and lakes of magma, it’s positively hellish. But again, the game feels like it’s making a parody of itself and there’s enough differences that you don’t feel as though you’re in a re-vamped SteelPort. As far as graphics go though, they’re only a slight improvement to its other games, while still looking a bit rough, but mostly sticking with a style that the game’s comfortable with.

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Saints Row’s humour has always been funny and over-the-top which is what it’s become known for (notorious or otherwise). How many people did you beat to death with large phallic object in SR4 and not have a grin out your mouth as you did it.
The games story although quite linear allows a lot of exploration. Naturally a lot of unexpected stuff happens in the game and plenty of hours of gameplay and challenges are available for you to enjoy every penny spent. You even get a wonderful Disney number for all your trouble visiting hell, how many games can offer you that.

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Gameplay

I loved the feeling of finally being able to fly, SR4 was great with the super jumping and gliding, yet nothing beats the feeling of actually flying around with wings (especially fiery angelic wings) and doing aerial acrobatics when being shot at. This easily allows you to traverse your new world while also gathering ‘Soul Clusters’ to improve your abilities (similar to the clusters from its predecessor). Unfortunately this again makes cars pointless to the game, it’s nice to know you can drive whenever you want but who wants to do that when you can simply get to your destination by running at super-speed, jumping rooftops or flying.

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A small example of the powers (as I don’t wish to spoil too much) is the ability to summon a variety of different minions to aid you in the destruction of demons. Or perhaps you would prefer blasting your enemies to stone or just devour their souls entirely while stomping them in an aura of holy light. The choice is yours. More powers can be unlocked through the alters found throughout the game.

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To complement your newfound powers you have an arsenal of weaponry at your disposal. You shouldn’t just be satisfied with your machine gun or dual pistols, instead you’re given weapons which are the embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins, what more could you ask for? Each of these offer a fantastic uniqueness that all offer a level of satisfaction when using them. Whether it’s Greeds ‘Diamond Sting’ which fires money while being gold-plated, Envy’s ‘Uriel’s Edge’ which happens to be a massive flaming sword that disintegrates people, or even Sloth’s ‘Armchair-A-Geddon’ which speaks for itself. All of the weapons can be unlocked through different methods which relate to their name.

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It’s fairly interesting to see a game which feels very Gat and Kinzie centric, getting to play as the pair of them felt so good after working with both of them in previous games. The game itself felt more as a gimmick, while trying to bring a special feel to SR players, it doesn’t try and explain more than it needs to and instead throws it right in your face. The downside to all of this is that you don’t learn more about the characters than you’d like and there’s a massive lack of customisation to your player as opposed to SR4’s Boss creation where you could be a; blue metal skinned, green mohawk headed, red eyed super-saiyan who weighs more than a house.

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Overall

As a standalone expansion, ‘Gat out of Hell’ provides a great game with an enjoyable yet linear story even if it does seem to be a slight re-skin of Saints Row 4. The environment design looks cool and fits with the style of the game well, but the graphics of the game are beginning to look a bit rough compared to most games of its generation. The lack of customisation is a bit upsetting, but is made up with the new powers and weaponry with the humour being on point. It sums up Saints Row as a whole very well while still being crazy and amusing.

7/10

‘Evolve’ Review

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If you haven’t heard of this game, then you’ve probably been living as a monk in a distant cave for the last year. Finally released on February 10th by Turtle Rock Studios (known for their popular games ‘Left 4 Dead’ and ‘Left 4 Dead 2’), this competitive 4v1 co-op shooter was an anxious wait for many eager gamers.

When Evolve was first announced everyone was excited at the prospect of a new PVP twist, where 1 person would get to play a monster whose goal was to ultimately grow bigger, faster, stronger, and then take on 4 other people tracking you. For the hunters who merely needed to track the beast and kill it before it can evolve and overwhelm you it requires a huge amount of teamwork between each other. Ultimately this brought together successful elements of Turtle Rock Studios previous games and merged into a new ambitious project.

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Before its final release, players were offered into the Alpha and Beta of the game which gave just enough of a taste for people to realise this is something certain gamers have been craving. Much like the hype for Destiny and Titanfall I certainly hoped that it would be everything expected, and from both viewing gameplay and trying the game I can certainly see why people have enjoyed this. It offers teamwork to those who enjoy strategy and planning, with the hunters needing to co-operate in order to win and stop the monster. With each member assigned specific roles in order to complete their mission, if one person goes down in a fight (especially the medic) then the rest will surely fall.

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Visuals/Atmosphere:
The game itself has some gorgeous visuals which and the in-game terrain looks great. There’s plenty of places to hide as monster while manoeuvring over the whole terrain to escape / hide from the hunters, or pounce on them from above. The atmosphere within the game is also great. As the hunters you need to constantly mind your surroundings, while constantly tracking the monster the environment will also try and kill you, whether it’s man-eating plants, creatures roaming around, or dangerous swamp monsters, everything wants to kill you. While as the monster you don’t start off by being the baddest thing around, it’s risky to go for the large creatures first as you don’t want to risk losing health, once that’s gone it’s not coming back.

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The more you end up playing the game, the more you will unlock. This can be skins for monsters or hunters, as well as very minor boosts to abilities.

Gameplay:

Monster(3 available, 4th released soon):

As the monster your first aim when the game starts will be to feed and grow. In your first evolution you are incredibly weak and running from the hunters should be a priority, fighting them will only result in almost certain failure. Killing little creatures should provide plenty of food, as they’re scattered across the map, just remember that clumps of birds announce your location if your loud, and you leave tracks wherever you go. Being sneaky is vital to staying alive and hiding from hunters, but if you’re not careful they’ll leave traps, harpoons or turrets around for you.
Certain elite creatures drop ‘buffs’ which can offer improvements, these can range from; movement speed increase, ability cooldown reduction and armour regeneration. So be sure to try and grab these when you can as they last a long period of time.
When evolving you will lose all your armour and be vulnerable for around 10 seconds, so when you do choose to become stage 2/3 make sure it’s away from hunters and in a safe location or you might lose a lot of health, hindering you later on in the game.

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Once you’re stage 2/3 and have full armour then you can begin picking fights. It’s a fantastic feeling of turning the tables from the hunted to the hunter, if you manage to down a hunter, they will receive a downed mark, 2 more of these and they won’t be able to be revived from team-mates (or you can choose to hammer them when they’re downed and kill them immediately’. Once triggered a 2 minute timer will appear until hunters re-spawn, in those 2 minutes take full advantage to get the other hunters or finish the main objective. 

The different monsters range from; Goliath, Wraith and Kracken, as well as the soon to be released Behemoth.

Hunters (12 available):
Medic:
The name speaks for itself, you need to heal the team and make sure they stay alive. Alongside a heal you also have a sniper rifle which will place weaknesses on the monster where you hit them. Finally, remember, you will usually be the first target.

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Assault:
You are the big damage dealer, your job will be to hurt the monster, plain and simple. Each different assault has their own weapons and abilities but they all have a personal shield to defend themselves.

Trapper:
As the trapper you need to catch the monster and stop them, primarily you will need to set up a trapper arena and capture the monster inside it, this is the best time to damage the monster and prevent it from going anywhere. Also you will need to place harpoon mines in order to slow down the monster.

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Support:
Similarly to the Assault you also deal plenty of damage, but you should also prioritise on giving your team-mates a shield to prevent them from taking further damage, as well as a cloaking system which allows anyone around you to turn invisible.

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All of the hunters AND monsters are incredibly fun in their own right, you either feel very important to a team or a very strong individual. This is great as it allows you to switch roles whenever you want to to keep the game fluid and enjoyable. The only downside to this is the constant repetition of playing the same few people over and over again until you’re able to unlock more. E.g. you can’t access Kracken until you have done enough damage with Goliaths abilities and reached the first ‘star’ level in each area.

The gameplay itself can become a bit stale after a while, when you constantly do the same thing over and over it becomes boring quickly, after asking a few players what they think of the game, they absolutely love it for everything it is, however can’t play it for extended periods of time as it gets too dull. Luckily games can last anywhere between 3-4 minutes to around 20 depending on skill level.

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Overall

Evolve is an undeniably great game, with some great visuals and strong gameplay. It was a very hyped game, but gamers were met with constant updates and improvements keeping the hunger for it. The game-play is enjoyable and fun, with a new flare for multiplayer and teamwork. I do hope that the game doesn’t become a large DLC-fest when you want to pay for skins or looks. Unfortunately the co-op also becomes stale after repeatedly playing the game as it becomes the same in every mode, this could stop players enjoying the game or even wanting to try it. Even with the different characters and monsters it might not make a difference once you’ve tried them all.

£34.99 / $59.99 – Standard Edition
£46.99 – Deluxe edition
£58.99 – Monster Race edition

7.5 / 10

‘Life Is Strange, Episode 1: Chrysalis’ Review

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(Life is Strange created by DontNod, the creators of Remember Me)

Life is Strange drops you in the shoes of Maxine Caulfield, an 18 yr/o college student who has just been accepted at Blackwell Academy, a prestigious photography college. Max displays all the typical traits of your average teenage girl and none of a typical female protagonist. You almost feel as though you’ve been placed in an American TV series. With all the problems of college life around you as you simply try and get through school life. There’s just one exception, you discover that you have the ability to manipulate and reverse time. Even at the end of episode 1 it left me screaming for more as the storyline proceeded so well! It clicked with the players emotions of school-life and made itself very personal, unfortunately it was let down with some bad scripting and character lip-syncing was misplaced throughout the episode, I can only hope that it improves in the later episodes but its not enough to ruin this great story.

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I hadn’t heard of the game originally and had it sprung on me by a friend, and due to my love of Telltale games series’ I was naturally intrigued. When beginning as Max you find you’ve only recently moved back to your home-town Arcadia Bay, and immediately get that feeling of being the odd one out when beginning at a new school, you have the queens of the school, the jocks, the nerds, and you feel like you’re in a sitcom. The characters do capture your emotions very quickly, making you warm to some and distrust others. For an episodic game it immediately set the tone of who you should trust / distrust which will ultimately affect later choices.

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You quickly realise early into the story that you have the ability to manipulate time and rewind about a minute of Max’s life, however while everything around you reverts to how it was, Max stays in exactly the same place, allowing you to dodge certain objects. This is also VERY useful when it comes to very important decisions. When it comes to most episode adventures you will have 2 game-changing choices to make at particular points in-game. With Life is Strange you can actually test both choices to see a reaction to the outcome and rewind if you change your mind before moving on. I really enjoyed this feature and loved how well it was implemented and took advantage of your powers, especially with the addition of rewinding time once you’d learnt something to take advantage of a conversation.

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The art style of the game feels like a mixture of Heavy Rain / Beyond two Souls mixed with some fantastic painting, with the textures of the game being hand painted. You can feel the amount of time and effort placed in the game and just marvel at all of the surroundings that you find yourself immersed in. The music was also a treat to listen to, again it felt like a school sitcom, but it was also amazingly relaxing, and it was always there in the background even if you didn’t pay attention to it. Something that threw me off a lot though was the lip-syncing, a lot of the time the mouths were independent from the audio which made me a little unhappy as it’s incredibly distracting, hopefully this may be sorted by the next episode.

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One of the best features of the game mainly focuses on the inventory / menu pages. This consists of Maxines journal, inside of which she will make personal notes of the characters around you, your progression through the day (episode), and even check her phone to talk to people and see if they’ve been impacted by any events. A great part wasn’t just the fantastic level of detail and writing in the book (which there is a lot of, allowing you to lose so much time reading it), but it’s also the little drawings which can be respective to the characters, story or events themselves. Be sure to look out for photo opportunities as well and fill in the journal with pictures.

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An issue with the game which i’ve seen personally, on forums and from other players is that the dialogue of the game just seems… off. Characters would never say certain lines within the game which you’d expect in real life and sometimes it almost seems laughable. I desperately hope that changes are made as I feel this could be something that could actually cripple the game if it’s not sorted, and if the pleasure for the game is taken away it’s going to lose viewers over the next few episodes.

Overall

From what i’ve seen so far I am really looking forward to further progress in this game and can’t wait for the next episode, hopefully we will get to see even more supernatural powers. The art style is sublime and unique with great music backing it up. The dialogue needs a lot of work and adjusting, as well as the lip-syncing to the dialogue. The story itself is gripping and the use of powers in the many MANY choices is a fantastic addition, with a great menu page to keep track of everything that happens.

7.5 / 10

Episode 1: available for £3.99 / $4.99
(ALL FUTURE EPISODES SAME PRICE INDIVIDUALLY)
All 5 Episodes: available for £15.99 / $19.99
Episodes 2 – 5 bundle: available for £13.99 / $16.99

‘Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale’ Review

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Recettear is a wonderful animated indie game created by EasyGameStation which combines the elements of RPG dungeon-crawling combat with slow paced shopkeeping. This game focuses on Recette whose father has mysteriously vanished and left her in debt (with fairies!!) which she needs to pay back or she’ll lose everything. Luckily the fairy ‘Tear’ who has come to collect the debt decides to teach you how to run your shop ‘Recettear’ so that you can pay off the money owed.

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As a game Recettear has very simple mechanics, movement is limited to the arrow keys, while Z and X control everything else. Yet the game doesn’t need to be more complicated. When running the store, Z is used in selecting where to place items around the shop, while also accepting prices when selling items. Then when combat begins while exploring dungeons it’s used as basic auto-attacks with X as a special ability. I did enjoy how you had certain segments of the day to do things (as the game moves within its own time system), when you choose to start selling items it will take up 1 of these 4 segments.

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(above, one of the adventurers you can use to take on dungeons)

The game itself has a very cute pixelated art style that’s colourful and lovely to look at, suiting the environment within the game perfectly. Even during the dungeon crawling, there’s enough variety in the different levels themselves that keep everything fresh and enjoyable as you proceed into the harder levels. The monsters themselves are quite varied and enough of a challenge to kill you if you’re struggling with the combat or get swarmed by them, even the bosses are cool to fight against as they have enough characteristics to make the player think ‘okay so to beat this guy I can’t simply hit him repeatedly’, and if you make silly mistakes the damage can be unforgiving and force you to use food items you’ve collected to sell just to heal yourself back up.

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Something adorable about the game is Recettes little Japanese voice which just makes you smile every time your hear her bartering with people. Then you feel terrible for making her sad when you ruin a sale that you needed. However when you manage to make a great profit on an item (e.g. 140% price increase of its RRP), whether it’s worth 4000pix (the currency) or 400pix, you feel so satisfied with yourself, even if you’ve completely conned people out of their money.

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(above, you find chests during the dungeons that contain loot or traps)

The music from the game is so sweet and chirpy and definitely fits with the atmosphere of the game, as you want to feel relaxed and enjoy every moment in the game. Unfortunately a small downside of this is that it can become very repetitive and force you to put the game on mute after too long. The game itself isn’t as repetitive as you can switch between going dungeon crawling or sit back and sell items / interact with the ingame community (such as the church or stores).

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Overall

Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale is a fun take on store life, it provides a great atmosphere while being a relaxing, enjoyable game. Allowing players to neither be pressured to play, yet want to. The storyline isn’t too complex yet quite compelling and running your shop is very fun. The music can be a little repetitive and the game itself can be seen as a bit pricey if you’re not willing to initially dedicate the time to it, if so I’d suggest waiting for a sale.

£12.99
$19.99

8/10