Friday, December 4, 2020
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Minecraft + Journey + No Man’s Sky = Astroneer

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System Era are the latest indie developers to take on a majorly ambitious project. Entitled Astroneer, their game takes Minecraft-style gameplay and meshes it together with the stunning minimalistic look of titles such as Journey and No Man’s Sky. The result? One of the most beautiful trailers I’ve watched this year:

Not much else has been revealed about the game, however, System Era have released this blurb on their official website:

Explore and exploit distant worlds in ASTRONEER – A game of aerospace industry and interplanetary exploration.

“The sudden development of technology for rapid space travel enables fast and inexpensive journeys to the stars. Exo Dynamics, the dominant conglomerate in the new field, has opened flights to daring citizens of Earth. Like the Yukon gold rush of old, waves of adventurers sign up to launch themselves into a new frontier, risking everything to seek their fortune in the far reaches of the galaxy. These are the Astroneers.”

“As an Astroneer, you must find a way to dig out a life on one of a multitude of harsh new worlds. Blast through the terrain to uncover precious artifacts and materials you can use to fuel your quest to become a wealthy baron in the stars. Along the way, discover oddities, raise questions, and uncover mysteries.”

Perhaps not all is as it seems.

It may well be a little while yet before we see this game in action but – judging by that trailer – we’re all in for a treat.

Original Author: Jay Michael

Christmas Lineups: Xbox One v PS4

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Once a year, as the Christmas period approaches, console gamers are treated to a triple A title rush, with PlayStation and Xbox leading the charge in terms of mega-sized releases. 2015 is not much different, with both Sony and Microsoft ready to go head-to-head yet again. Join us as we discuss the upcoming titles and ask perhaps one of the most prominent questions of the gaming calendar; Who will steal Christmas?

Sony are looking thin on the ground this year, in fact the company have admitted themselves that their holiday lineup is ‘a little sparse’. Nevertheless, Shuhei Yoshida – President of Sony – isn’t worried:

“People wouldn’t just look at the first party lineup when they’re making a purchase decision. We have great third-party titles coming this year; Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Star Wars Battlefront, Destiny: The Taken King just came out and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain just came out. There’s no shortage of huge titles available to players on PlayStation 4, and people who are coming new to PlayStation 4 can pick up titles like Bloodborne and Until Dawn. I’m very proud of the games we are releasing.”

Yoshida clearly a believer in the ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ mantra. Sony are obviously not going big on the exclusives this year, with Until Dawn and Bloodborne – both released earlier in the year – the only PS4 exclusive games Yoshida mentioned. That said, smaller exclusive titles – such as The Tomorrow Children, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture – shouldn’t be discounted as insignificant. It also must not be forgotten that those who get a PS4 come December will have the release of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4 to look forward to early next year.

Meanwhile, Xbox are sticking to the ‘sell all the big titles at once’ school of thought. Halo 5: Guardians is guaranteed to turn a few heads; especially after this rather shocking trailer (also below) was released by Microsoft. With brand-exclusives Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox 360, Xbox One) and Fable Legends (MS Windows and Xbox One) also on their way, it’s a pretty mouth-watering lineup.

It’s hard to overlook Microsoft’s offering this year, the October arrival of Halo 5 is a massive thorn in Sony’s side. Despite recently claiming that he dislikes the console war, I’m sure even Phil Spencer is proud of this year’s Christmas lineup. Be that as it may, Sony’s overall roster is growing ever stronger and, although there may be a lack of major exclusives, I know a lot of people will be tempted to opt for the PS4 in preparation for Uncharted’s arrival.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to preference. Whichever console you own/hope to own come Christmas day, you’re in for a massive treat.


What do you make of the Xbox One v PS4 Christmas Lineups? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

For all the latest gaming news, follow @Gamer_Headlines and @Jayswriting on Twitter.

Original Author: Jay Michael

TGS 2015 Hands On Monster Hunter X

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I won’t lie: after about 70 or 80 hours of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, I stopped. No, it’s not because of any problem with the game, I just have limited time, other games to review, and frankly, living in Japan and being unable to connect with people who live near me is a disappointment. Monster Hunter’s fine online, but a great local player experience, which is why for my Monster Hunter X (remember, it’s not “ex” but “cross”!) demo, I jumped in with some locals to take down the hardest setting available to us.

The demo for today didn’t feel like it added a lot functionally. There’s the new “hunter art” ability, but I totally forgot about it, even though I chose a hunting style that makes more use of it. Hunter art is like a special ability to gain from attacking monsters, and You have 4 styles to choose from: guild, giving you two “art style” options based on your weapon plus supposedly some other tools; striker, which gives you the same two styles plus an “evasive” style; aerial giving you tons of ways to get air for aerial attacks plus one hunter art; and bushido, the defensive art that rewards you for perfectly dodging/blocking attacks and gives you one art. Personally, Striker felt forgettable, but this was also a demo. My Japanese partners apparently chose Striker too, which was too bad. Still, I’m excited to try Bushido and Aerial at some point.

However, the monsters really stand out. While I felt like the new monsters in MH4 were ok, MHX’s monsters just seem bolder. The three on display today felt more vibrant, and Dinovalde’s armored/tail-blade t-rex felt almost sci-fi-ish. It’s a very style heavy encounter that honestly left me mesmerized, though I kept my head and made sure not to literally lose my head. Dinovalde’s everywhere, with both wide and long tail attacks and fire breath. My Japanese companions and I sadly lost, not from dying (though 2 of those happened) but from a time out. I honestly spent a good deal of time trying to learn the “dance” while my partners were in the thick of it, plus I wanted to make sure I was testing the arts.

I don’t know if MHX will infuse as much into the series as 4 in terms of mechanics, but the style variety alone made me want to give it another go, just when I was starting to think that I was done with the series again.

Original Author: Laguna Levine

TGS2015 Hands On Hyrule Warriors: Legends

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Ah, Tokyo Game Show. I always look forward to you but you burn me every year. At least I got some time with Hyrule Warriors: Legends for 3DS, something I feel most sites are skipping, which is a shame.

The first thing to get out of the way that I know many fans have asked about: no, this is not a new 3DS exclusive. Two floor people confirmed that the game works with your regular 3DS. There’s still very few reasons to upgrade to the new system in my opinion, especially since I personally dislike the C-Nub, though the slide pad does make the 3DS less portable. First world problems, I know. Get over it.

Now, I loved Hyrule Warriors. I’ll admit, I didn’t finish all the DLC due to other reviews and that “paying the bills” thing, but I kept up with it and helped some of you along for three Adventure Maps. I also never could motivate myself to finish Wind Waker, but spent hours happily exploring the seas (perhaps that’s why I got burned out). However, I’m one of those players who never touched the other Warriors games, loved Zelda, and thought the combination of the two was beyond awesome.

For Legends, new ability to switch between characters feels quite natural, but I’m not sure how that’ll affect treasure rewards, and I didn’t notice an effect on XP, but I only had so much time with the demo. At least in my demo, I could choose between two characters for my mission from a roster of three: Tetra, Toon Link, and the Link we’ve had on the original Hyrule Warriors game. I obviously chose Tetra and Toon Link. Tetra has a strong nod to her true identity as one of her abilities, but otherwise she feels, well, standard. Her sword attacks are quick and feel similar to Link, but her strong attack(s) generally make use of her water gun. I’m not sure what else I expected. Maybe use of her crew?

Toon Link, on the other hand, just feels like a natural extension of Adult Link except with Wind Waker themed tools (Lana’s not the only one with a leaf now!). Maybe it’s because the level is Wind Waker themed, but I didn’t feel either character was out of place, even with regular Link standing next to me. It feels like the “toon” aspect was toned down a bit, perhaps in the colors being slightly less bold than I remember them.

The new hammer tool feels a bit unnecessary. Go out and pound stakes to fire a canon at objectives that require it, stun nearby enemies, or pound blobs that you can’t defeat normally. It’s not particularly interesting I think and just feels like it’s cluttering my bag. The ocarina, though, feels like a solid addition, allowing you to warp around the map to other owl statues and saving you some time, though at the cost of those epic moments you’re dashing across the map in a literal race against time. I’m really curious about how that’ll connect to old maps, if at all.

And that’s the one thing that kind of bothers me about the game. The ability to warp around makes the game feel smaller, and we’re already playing on a smaller console. Normally, we get a 3DS game that leads to a console game, don’t we? To now have new characters, tools, enemies, and maps in the 3DS version of the game that also streamlines the gameplay a little feels backwards. It’s nice you’ll be able to send the DLC to your Wii U version of the game (only the new stuff; you have to buy the other DLC for your Wii U even if it’s included in the 3DS game), but again, getting new content from a smaller game feels odd. It doesn’t help that we still have no idea about crossplay yet either (my Japanese isn’t perfect and the people on the ground floor had limited English, but it seems like they haven’t been told).

For those who skipped the Wii U version of the game, Legends may just be the better buy so far. The game’s smaller, but still looks impressive enough, and the spirit of the game carries over perfectly. Plus, you can get some swag if you upgrade. We’ll update as we learn more!

Original Author: Laguna Levine

Stasis Review

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Horror is a genre that’s seen an expansive growth over the last couple of years, and it’s a train ride, which developer The Brotherhood is trying to board with Stasis; a game unlike any other Horror game that has been released in the last couple of years. Stasis is a Point-and-Click Horror adventure title played from an isometric perspective, something that immediately reminds me of Sanitarium from back in 1998. While Sanitarium was a world created out of insanity, Stasis is a game set in a classic sci-fi Horror setting that is heavily inspired by the Alien film franchise. Seeing how it has been over a decade since we got something that touches upon the legacy left by Sanitarium, it is with a bit of both excitement and fear that I approached Stasis, since it’s perfectly possible for it to either be a classic or a title that would quickly fade away from my memory. Gladly, it is much more of the former.

You play the game as John Marachek, a married teacher and father who’s supposed to go on a family vacation through space, but in good old Horror fashion, something goes terribly wrong. Waking up in a stasis chamber, you quickly find yourself all alone in a huge spaceship, trying to find out why you are here, what exactly happened and where your family is. The overall story is very cliché and predictable, even to the point where you often find yourself somewhat knowing what will happen next, but while it may seem bad at first glance with a cliché Horror sci-fi story, it actually fits the game perfectly, mostly because this is a game you play for the atmosphere, not for the story itself. Most of the story is told via interactions with other survivors on the ship or through PDAs you find all over the ship. While you still get the core story without most of the PDAs, they help with building the creepy atmosphere aboard the ship.

As I have already mentioned, and it really deserves to be told a lot, the atmosphere is what makes this game so great. It is not just the sound, the environment and the lightning, but how well they all work together to create this atmosphere; how every step aboard the ship makes you feel uneasy, how every move you make is somewhat uncomfortable, how the predictable story more easily makes you focus your attention on the details the environments have to offer. It really surprised me how well the isometric view works with a Horror setting and the constant feeling of unease. Even if Stasis isn’t a great-looking game graphically, with textures varying in their quality, it is still a remarkable job by a small studio, and the game screams high production values when you stumble through the ship, making the lack of resolution option and badly animated sequences disappear from your mind.

The Brotherhood also did an excellent job with the soundtrack and sound effects, especially the latter. While the music is a great mood setter and works well with the sci-fi environments, what really stands out with the sound design are all the small sound effects and how well placed they are in the ship. I often find that Horror games can have good sound effects but used in the wrong way too often or in the wrong location; this is not a trap that Stasis falls into. Hearing a child’s creepy chanting always freaks me out in all games, especially in Stasis, or scratches, screams and other noise haunting the ship. Even John’s heavy breathing after witnessing something awful helps create one of this year’s best atmosphere in a game. Even if Stasis has no voiced monologues in the game, it comes with fully voiced dialogue, which is the first and only reminder that this is a game made by a small team on a low budget since it is far from good, even if it is not really bad. I would rather have seen this game without any voice acting at all, heavily focusing on reading the great dialogue hidden behind the not-so-good voice actors.

tasis is, at its core, a Point-and-Click Adventure in every way when it comes to how the game plays and what you need to do to navigate the ship. Stasis is all about finding items, combining them with each other and finding out where to use them, something every player of a Point-and-Click game is well versed with. This is the part of Stasis that had me the most worried since these types of games stand or fall with the puzzle design. But even here, Stasis manages to keep itself above surface, providing some illogical and complex puzzles that do not fit the flow of the game, or any game for that matter. The rest of the puzzles are logical, complex in a satisfying way and never really forces you to backtrack that much, even if you often are guided on a longer path than necessary to find an item.

VERDICT

Stasis is by far one of the most atmospheric games this year; the environments are beautifully crafted showing its homage to Alien everywhere. The sound effects and placing of sounds are really top-notch, better than most AAA games with a thriller\horror theme. Stasis is a great Point-and-Click horror Adventure, one that really lives up to its name in every possible way. It is a game that I really did not want to stop playing, but had to since the horror atmosphere demanded my brain to take a break. If your drug is Horror games or Point-and-Click Adventures, or just looking for that game that surely will stay with you even after the end, Stasis is worth every cent of your money.

Original Author: Karl de Maré

Pokemon: Five New Zygarde Formes Revealed

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Images of Japanese manga magazine CoroCoro have leaked, revealing five new formes for the legendary Pokemon Zygarde.

We have been speculating about the possibility of a Pokemon X & Y sequel – Pokemon Z – for some time, and this news only serves to further fuel that fire.

The formes act as different ‘stages’ of Zygarde; who is able to progress from vulnerable blob to hulking colossus.

Forme 1 – Cell: In its first forme, the legendary dragon appears as several flattened green blobs – pictured left-centre of the image within a white circle – which scatter themselves all over the place.

Forme 2 – Core: First revealed way back in August, we now that Core Forme Zygarde – pictured with a red chest above the Cell Forme – is the result of several Cell Formes combining. Previously known as The Green Blob Pokemon, this Core Forme creature acts as the ‘brain’ of subsequent Zygarde incarnations.

Forme 3 – 10%: When a Core Forme combines with several of the Cell Forme creatures, 10% Zygarde is born. The Pokemon, which resembles a dog, is said to have ‘incredible speed and sharp fangs’.

Forme 4 – 50%: The Pokemon formerly known as Zygarde in X & Y, will now be called the 50% forme. Once again, although we don’t know what exactly the 50% Forme is composed of, it’s clear that it’s some sort of amalgamation of all the previous forms.

Forme 5 – Perfect: Now stronger than both Xerneas and Yveltal, in its final forme Zygarde becomes a real force to be reckoned with. Still a Ground/Dragon type, the Perfect Forme stands 4.5 meters tall and weighs 610 kg. Rather interestingly, the shield-like appendages protruding from its arms are colored; left-red and right-blue. This suggests a deep relationship with fellow Kalos legendaries Yveltal (red) and Xerneas (blue).

The biggest indicator of a Pokemon Z game however is that, starting in Japan on October 29th, the anime will be renamed Pokemon XY & Z. Bizarrely, Ash’s Greninja – as pictured in the magazine – will be themed to match its trainers appearance.


Let us know what you think of the new Zygarde Formes in the comments section below.

Check out some of our other Pokemon articles: Worst Pokemon Ideas Ever / Top 5 Pokemon that Deserve Evolution / Flowers are the Future of Pokemon / Pokemon’s 20th Birthday Plans / Top 5 Pokemon that should be Related.

And, for all the latest gaming news, follow @Gamer_Headlines and @Jayswriting on Twitter.

Original Author: Jay Michael

Airscape: The Fall of Gravity flops commercially, developer shares his thoughts

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Stories of success among indie games are out in the spotlight far too often. In a way, false illusions are created for hundreds of developers wanting to follow-up on that success, with the harsh truth being that it’s very hard to break through in today’s indie market. Sadly, it looks like this was the case for Airscape: The Fall of Gravity – a recent game that got very good reception across the board. In fact, Daniel West (one of its developers) has written a rather honest post-mortem over at Gamasutra, mentioning that the game sold a mere 150 copies after its release.

The game itself is a 2D action platformer that is best described as a crossover between Super Mario Galaxy and Super Meat Boy. The result – very challenging platforming set in a variety of intriguing and charming worlds. But with most reviews being very positive and the game receiving numerous awards such as the PAX Australia Indie Showcase selection and the Intel Level Up competition award, what exactly was the problem?

“The answer is complicated”, West wrote. According to him, the game was heavily marketed to the point that the developers reached out to almost every news outlet out there, on top of attending big shows such as PAX and GDC. “I was met with almost universal disinterest. While this was disappointing at first, I realized that without something actionable (a game or Kickstarter launch, for instance) I couldn’t really expect a lot of press attention.”

On top of being active on social media and participating in Reddit conversations, he also apparently hired a PR company to handle any other marketing prior to release. But even then, West mentions that it wasn’t enough. “When the launch embargo lifted, we were again disappointed to see almost total disinterest from all major press outlets, streamers and journalists alike.” This is bizzare, especially since the article mentions how a video of Airscape made by Youtuber “jacksepticeye” resulted in roughly 20 sales, despite the fact that it had around 500,000 views.

With the approach taken to market Airscape: The Fall of Gravity clearly looking to be the brute-force one, as in trying to get everyone to know about the game, West acknowledges that perhaps a more streamlined, “community method” approach would’ve been more beneficial – as in trying to create a tight-knit group of followers that can escalate the hype when the game gets launched. But still, that’s kind of difficult without offering constant updates on the current progress of your game.

In a way, all of this perhaps leads to the conclusion that Steam isn’t a place that automatically brings success to your game anymore. West summarized it well, saying the following: “Like it or not, Steam has become the App Store, sans human curation and with less emphasis on free-to-play.” With an incredibly low barrier to entry it’s very hard to notice individual games, and it does look like you either have to deliver something really unique, or you have to be really lucky.

Perhaps we’re simply looking at a game that does not look that interesting to the regular user. West briefly mentions how “the game’s cute graphics may well have pushed away the masochist audience we needed”, and perhaps that’s one reason for the failure at display. However, the main problem may very well be the fact that Airscape does not stand out in any way. And if you want an example of how to do that, simply go and look at the resent Dropsy launch trailer. Even if it isn’t a game for everyone, it’s more than unique, and it will surely stay in your sub-conscious mind for a while.

All in all, the sad truth is that achieving commercial success for indies is becoming harder and harder with each day. With a recent and similar example being Tale of Tales’ resignation from making games due to the commercial failure of Sunset, the moral of the story is that a solid concept is not enough, however profound or complex it might be. In the end, West says it best: “If you only do everything right, it’s quite unlikely you’ll find success.”

Original Author: Georgi Trenev

FIFA 16 Demo Plays Like a Dream

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EA Sports have today (September 8) released the FIFA 16 demo – on PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 – and good gosh is it smooth.

After the successful demo launch of Konami’s rival soccer-sim PES 2016 earlier this month, EA had a lot of ground to make up; it’s safe to say they have.

Much slicker than ever before, this year’s iteration brings a feeling of real fluidity to passing moves. The implementation of a new driven pass – activated by holding the R1 button on the PS4 version – allows capable players – Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas for example – to fire passes through the center of midfield.

It was too easy to bypass the midfield in FIFA 15 – with ridiculously accurate long balls from defence to attack – FIFA 16 changes that. As is the case in real-life, the midfield area is now the key to winning any game.

PES may be the king when it comes to challenging your friends arcade style but, in terms of an authentic soccer experience, FIFA absolutely nails the formula; encouraging you to build up play through the midfield, maintain patience, and then strike once an opening arises.

As seen in the IGN E3 Demo above, attacking strategy is by no means overpowered. Opposition players can act to intercept passes much more effectively than ever before. In your first few matches, it’s a feature which may well have you pulling your hair out, but give it time, learn to read when to play the right pass, and you’ll be rewarded with a warm sense of satisfaction every time you string together a slick passing move.

The demo allows you to play as 12 teams – Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan, River Plate, Seattle Sounders, and the newly added US and German women’s sides – in 8 minute exhibition matches.

It also offers 12 minute matches of the new FUT Draft Mode; which allows players to supplement their FUT team with a squad of randomly selected players. If you’re new to the game, you should definitely check this out, it allows you to play as highly rated players from the get-go, and it’s the best way to learn about FUT Mode’s team chemistry system.

The three stadiums included in the demo – Borussia Park, the CenturyLink Field and the Santiago Bernabeu – look as stunning as ever. That said, it is a little disappointing that they’re the only grounds on offer. Here’s hoping that the same levels of detail have been put into every full game stadium.

Check out some of our other FIFA articles:

FIFA 16 New ‘Sights and Sounds’ Trailer

A History Lesson: PES vs FIFA

Top 5 Players in FIFA 16

Vanishing Spray added to FIFA

And, for all the latest gaming news, follow @Gamer_Headlines and @Jayswriting on Twitter.

Original Author: Jay Michael

New Documentary Reinforces the Prevalence of Gaming

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Rooster Teeth – the company behind Achievement Hunter and Red vs Blue – are releasing a documentary which highlights the significance of the Let’s Play format.

Let’s Play Live: The Documentary will follow the guys from Achievement Hunter as they attempt to host a ‘first-of-its-kind’ online game session in front of a live stadium audience.

As it stands, the film – launching on Monday September 14 – will only be available to sponsors of Rooster Teeth. However, the company are currently running a 30-day-free-trial sponsorship initiative; meaning that if you sign up now your trial will cover the video’s release.

First broadcast in 2011 – 3 years after the birth of the main site – Achievement Hunter’s Let’s Play videos have become some of the most popular on YouTube.

The creation of this documentary serves to further highlight the increasing relevance of gaming culture. In a world where eSports have grown to the point that ESPN are looking to hire a Gaming Reporter, who’s to say that Let’s Play Live events can’t become the equivalent of rock concerts?

Original Author: Jay Michael

SNK Playmore Bought by Chinese Company

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Anyone who knows fighting games knows the letters SNK — mostly because the company was responsible for some of the genre’s most notable franchises.  But those days have long since passed; SNK Playmore may have brought the world King of Fighters XIII back in 2010, but now they’re moving on to a whole new stage — because the company has been bought out.

A Chinese company purchased more than 80% of SNK Playmore’s shares for a grand sum of $63.5 million.  As a result, the majority stake is now in the hands of a joint venture called Zheyuan, itself the union of Oriental Securities and Shunrong Sanqi via the subsidiary Ledo Millenium.  It’s a string of investments and purchases, but the end result is the same: the plan is to tap SNK’s characters and properties to follow the example of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It’s hard to know for sure what that means for now, but the possibilities and promises are there for games, TV shows, and even movies.

Given that The King of Fighters alone has had more than a hundred characters over the years, it’s not as if anyone is spoiled for choice — and fans of the franchise likely wouldn’t complain about another franchise entry.  The sticking point is the quality of those new entries, especially considering how the last movie entry went.  Still, SNK Playmore hasn’t exactly done much with their properties over the past few years, so time will tell how the deal with this Chinese company pans out.

Original Author: Voltech44