Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds – Xbox One Review

You’ve probably been hiding under a rock if you haven’t seen or heard from Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, that said you’ve probably been hiding near a rock if you have – A rock, in long grass and a sweaty palm on the grip of a weapon you’re not quite sure how to reload.

An indie phenomenon that has enjoyed massive PC success even if only still in Beta, its basically Battle Royale for 100 players, Encouraging people hunting at its finest. Having recently made the leap to console, in admittedly unfinished form we got to give it a spin. Along with the other 40 Million players, who have been breaking records by having at least 3 Million concurrent players online at any given time – so something is right.

So does the sleeper hit make the leap to console with a bang or does it get caught hiding behind a hay bale looking the wrong way?

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GEAR-CLUB Unlimited, Nintendo Switch review

I can enjoy a good arcade style racer, having cut my teeth on a few decades worth. With the recent slew of serious driving games being a shade above my ability and NFS Payback being a great action movie spin off, but losing points for the grind there is a simple pleasure about GEAR-CLUB that cannot be ignored.

First off its on the Switch, which as we all know has been the console to beat this year, delivering innovation and fun at every turn. Gear-Club does not disappoint and can hold its head up amongst its stablemates. The game takes a few parts of other games and makes them whole in a way that feels fresh and accessible.

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Skyrim VR, PS4 Review

Skyrim never dies, having graced the PS4 already in HD goodness its back and in a VR wrapped package of goodness.

Rivalling perhaps Minecraft for platform releases most people will know of Skyrim whether or not they have walked its paths.

It’s a game that has also been around a long time, so it might not be the prettiest of adventures, especially up close in the VR headset, but that soon washes away when you look into the distance and start to marvel at the world building around you.

It is fair to say that Bethesda have put some effort into the launch, the move controllers have had time and effort put into their mapping, almost to the point of being overworked and borderline confusing. It makes sense with practice, but can be a handful in the heat of battle. You can play with the standard controller setup, which makes for a smoother play, but takes away some of the intent. Wandering a dungeon casting spells in virtual freedom is a pleasant experience and all the more fun because of the Move controls.

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Stars Wars Battlefront II, PS4 Review

Star Wars, you can’t pass it by, especially when you get the chance to live out those schoolyard fantasies in First Person. Or so you think.

Going into Battlefront II feels okay, its shiny and Star Wars enough, however for all the polish attempting to outdo the previous game the UI feels cluttered and overdone.

The old game was crisp and clean, lots of white space complementing the personalised greeting it gave you. This time round you get smacked in the face with “Come here and open today’s loot box!”

I have a bad feeling…

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Need for Speed Payback, PS4 Review

You wait years for some serious racers, then three come along at once. Only to get grit sprayed in their grills by the latest in the arcade style hi-speed hi-jinks crashathon Need for Speed franchise instalment.

NFS has been divisive at times, but has mostly done a good job at delivering entertainment. The franchise has been around for a very long time and the reveal of a new instalment can often reduce serious gamers to jelly when they see shiny screens and screeching tyres.

Now in Payback its time to get your Fast and Furious on, joining the underworld of high speed car crime in an alternate Nevada alike (aka Fortune Valley) landscape. The game is billed as delivering blockbuster moments interspersed with hi-octane thrills, this happens by cutting in plenty of well designed cutscene moments. Often triggered at a narrative point or when something exceptionally cool happens around you.

It works at the outset, hopping between three main characters and one supporting role its good to see how their story starts to flesh out, a story of revenge by the way as they fight their way to the top of a massive race in the hope of bringing down mysterious antagonist The House. the narrative may be a little clumsy, but the cutscenes dovetail well with the action and pull the scripted sequence along.

For a while you may be convinced that the failings of NFS: The Run have been left behind in a ditch, for a while you may think this instalment will have legs, for a while. Continue reading

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, PS4 Review

“They don’t advertise for Nazi Killers in a newspaper, but that’s what I was ex BJ, ex soldier, ex Nazi Killer…”, okay, my dodgy gravelly voiceover aside it’s Wolfenstein Time!

Three years ago Wolfenstein: The New Order was a huge breath of fresh air, an old school style shooter with big brass balls. It was fully loaded with gore and ridiculous weapons, didn’t take itself too seriously and finished on something of a cliffhanger.

Our review went along with: Far and away the best Wolfenstein yet, far and away the most enjoyable single player shooter since the PS4.

Having had a further dalliance with BJ in the shorter top-up adventure The Old Blood, we were taken back to an earlier part of the story that built on some of the strengths of The New Order.

Now we return to the boots of William J. Blazkowicz, finding how exactly how he escaped the nuclear explosion at the end of New Order, and more importantly what happened to the world in the weeks after. Queue The New Colossus, pump up the music and fill those shotguns troopers.

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Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo Switch

Well, Mario is back with his fully fledged Switch appearance. Hot on the heels of battling Rabbids and power sliding Mario Karts the fan favourite returns once again to save Peach from the clutches of Bowser. It’s a good time to be a Switch owner, because this game deserves the plaudits and superlatives that it is leaving in its wake.

Nintendo have nailed it, pure, sweet and simple – this is the title that every Switch owner will play.

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Rogue Trooper Redux, (PS4 Review)

There was a time in life, like many of my generation when you hung out for Saturday and the latest copy of 2000AD to hit the shelves.

For years the wild sci-fi characters and irreverent stories where mainstay conversation starters around the school yard. Everybody (mostly) knows Judge Dredd thanks to Hollywood, but the comic had many stablemates for Joe that drew their own legions of fans.

Strontium Dog, Hammerstein and the ABC Warriors, Slaine, Nemesis the Warlock, Halo Jones and her robo-dog Toby, not forgetting ACE Garp. Those stories and many more were etched into history week by week, while Marvel and DC ran amok with costumed characters 2000AD delivered a hefty dose of darkness.

For me, one of the favourites and one of my all time eternal heroes was Rogue Trooper, the renegade Genetic infantryman.

Briefly, Rogue was a lone wolf character – the survivor of a botched incursion into the infamous Quartz Zone where his comrades were decimated. Rogue took it on himself to seek out the mysterious traitor that sent his men to their deaths, while fighting his way through an onslaught of enemies.

It was boys own stuff, especially when he was backed up by his three mates Helm, Gunnar and Bagman. All reduced to Bio-Chips inserted into slots on his equipment and they were fortunately quite aptly named for their roles. Being reduced to a chip was a second chance for a G.I., their subplot was to get back to the labs on Milicom (read home base) and get themselves rebuilt.

That’s the gist in a nutshell, along with a couple of minor game spoilers.

Oh, yeah, the game.

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EB EXPO 2017 – Liveblog

Observations from this year’s EB Games Expo.

11.10

Last day of the annual visit to EB Expo, kicked off in style with a quick early access and walk around the empty hall. A nice run of stands that suit the venue better than last year in Sydney. Most notable is the impressive Nintendo stand which mirrors their success this year with the Switch launch and solid catalogue of games.

11.16

Hands on with Super Mario Oddessy:

We beat the queue and got hands on with Mario on an empty stand, from ten minutes of demo it’s really obvious that this is a Switch killer-app. Throwing Mario into a multitude of Kingdoms, free roaming and full of activities.

The visuals are spot on and there is plenty of depth to get lost in, not forgetting the couch co-op where one player is Mario and the other is his ever useful hat. It’s fun, family friendly and will be under a lot of Xmas trees.

 

11.50

The Playstation stand was as usual filled with lots to do. VR furore may have taken a step back this year, but new titles like Inpatient were on offer and more importantly Gran Turismo. Yes, GT in VR, which incidentally blows away the Driveclub VR competition, even though I’m a fan of that.

Activision and Warner were present on stand, so CoD was on offer and we got to have some time hands on with the new Lego games. The next chapter of Lego Marvel Superheroes being the big draw card there, for all the titles they pump out the Marvel ones are way out ahead.

Being Human looks cool and the next Playlink games were on hand, but I had an age restricted plus one, so we gave it a pass.

13.05

After a quick and perhaps nasty snack it was time to hand out at Ubisoft.

Another strong stand, following their usual circular design. Assuming from above it matches the Ubisoft swirl logo.

The games:

FarCry5 – looking fantastic on a bank of PS4 Pros. More free roaming FPS action, set in a fictional US state and with a narrative not overly far from the world today it feels great and will certainly be a must have in atet post-Christmas wasteland.

Crew2 – More vehicles, better graphics and lots to do. The Crew was fun, the Crew2 expands on that.  In the wake of all the serious racers hit around now, its good to see a plain old vanilla arcade racer still has a place.

Assassin’s Creed Origins – Backed up by a wealth of historical detail the AC series has me back on board with this one. Having missed a couple of years I’m keen to get to grips with this. Running in Xbox 4K it looks very pretty indeed, apart from that the gameplay is unmistakable and offers up the excellent ‘tourist mode’ for people that just want to experience the knowledge that Ubi have accrued.

Another dancing title – well, let’s leave it there…

13.52

Hands on with Skyrim for the Switch.

Yes, its an old game that nearly everybody has played, but the Switch makes it attractive again by adding flexibility. Allowing you to play on etc mini screen or big screen, being able to take Skyrim wherever you go and being able to use a multitude of control methods, the most immersive being the twin joy con method where you can block and attack independently. That said, the rumble feature works wonders when you get down to some serious lock picking.

Certainly worth etc pick up, even if its while we wait for the VR version.

13.59

The Xbox stand covered a decent amount of space which was mostly split between Forza and Shadow of War.

Both titles look fantastic, the weather effects in Forza alone are worth the asking price and as for Shadow of Mordor – it’s more of the same only bigger, deeper and better. People that love the first game can’t go back after this.

Across the stand Player Unknown Battlegrounds made an appearance, as did Cuphead, Age of Empires and a smattering of Minecraft. No surprises there.

14.33

Retro Baby.

This Expo had a lot less floorspace compare to Olympic Park, which made it cosy and brought a few of the outdoor areas into the main floor.

One of which being the Retro Zone, stocked by Weird and Retro. This was a slice of gaming heaven with machines ranging from Space Invaders on an Atari 2600 through to Rouge Squadron on etc Gamecube. Spanning a lifetime of games each screen brought a memory back to life and I got to introduce Rufus to the joy of Dreamcast Soulcalibur and C64 Basic. Nothing like a bit of rose tinted joy amongst the megabits of today.

15.08

Overall this year’s Expo was smaller, but there was plenty to do. Stands had more presence and the venue felt fully used over the voids that Olympic Park offers.

As for showing there were lots of great new titles on offer, most of which will be in homes over the next 2 months. Around etc place everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves and there were a few sizeable queues for limited demos on exciting exclusives.

As ever the EB Store made a decent appearance, while not really feeling like a bargain hunt, it is always worth a trawl. We picked up a few Minecraft torches at a reduced price and there were still a good pile of SNES mini consoles stacked up behind the counter when we left.

This was a good show, it didn’t try to do too much and gave the consumers what they wanted. Although decent Cosplay was  bit thin on the ground today, maybe Sydney people just do it better.

The good news is that this year, I’m looking forward to next year a lot more.

Fifa 18, PS4 Review

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat and in cooler climates the Premiership is in full swing. Given that we are on the cusp of gaming’s very own silly season, what else is there to do other than give the annual Fifa update a run out and stretch those chilled calves of poster boy Ronaldo?

It’s actually a bi-annual update for us, having spent many years chasing the newness of these games recent times have seen skipping a year to be the best option. Often giving more impact to the fine tweaks and polishes that the developers so deftly apply.

Any given year Fifa offers up a solid package, content in spades as you play online, offline in various modes, being able to pick and choose contests, flex your management muscle, play as an individual and now the newly improved The Journey. Otherwise known as the Alex Hunter single player narrative, The Journey put you squarely in the boots of an up and coming youngster, forcing you to play in key games and make sound rational decisions for him with Mass Effect style choices over dialogue.

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