Tuesday, 9 December 2014

How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition (Xbox One) - Review

How To Survive was released on last gen consoles around a year ago and was a game I was pretty intrigued by. I never got around to getting it though, and when I heard about the plans to release it on the Xbox One I waited it out so that I could play it on my nice shiny new console.

For the new gen console they've bundled it with all the DLC and named it How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition. This adds some pretty fun new modes, including the AMAZING One-Shot Escape mode. This mode gives you just one chance (duh!) to fix a vehicle and get your ass off of the island. Supplies are randomised and pretty scarce so this game mode is pretty stressful but a LOT of fun. Another mode added to the game is Barricade, which is like a horde mode - spend the day gathering supplies and try and survive the night.

I don't know whether I'd eat these fish?!
I am a huge fan of the open world zombie games. State of Decay is my all-time favourite and I cannot wait until it is released on the Xbox One. I did expect How To Survive game to come up short in comparison, but it really doesn't. I'm not a big fan of the asymmetric viewpoint in How To Survive, but this game gives us a robust crafting and upgrade system and its piece de resistance? Its CO-OP!

Yes, as you all know I am always keen to find some good co-op games for my partner and I to play and How To Survive delivers this brilliantly. It is this, and probably this alone really, that puts How To Survive above State of Decay in my estimations. For me State of Decay is screaming out for co-op, as are all open world Zombie games really. Who wants to face the Zombie apocalypse alone?!

The horde is coming...
The fact is though that How to Survive does deliver on almost every front. I have to admit that the biggest drawback from this game for me is just the asymmetric viewpoint. I find that these detract from the tension of the game a little, especially in this genre. Asymmetric to me always feels a little cheap, which I understand is a terribly ignorant thing to say, but it is just my opinion. If this had been third or first person it would easily have gotten 10/10 from me as at its core is a fantastic survival game where every decision counts.

The skills trees are great!
The crafting system, as I mentioned before, is really good and there is a great skills tree for you to work your way up to. I love these elements to the game. The characters are all well-thought out too, they are well-balanced and each have their own clear qualities, making playing with a friend a little more tactical - there's no point both of you going for a weak but fast person really is there?

Overall I think this game is a great addition to the Xbox One roster. It's good fun (especially the two modes mentioned earlier) and is a really easy game to pick up and play, even it's just for ten minutes. There are a few things I'd  change with it if I had the power, but it's pretty damn good as it is. Go buy it people!

8/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Game of Thrones Episode One (Xbox One) - Review

Ethan - House Forresters 'Little Lord'
I have been eagerly awaiting this game since its announcement, which feels like ages ago! I am a huge fan of both Game of Thrones and basically any game Telltale have released. I love what they do with each universe, and the first episode of their new Game of Thrones series is no different.

You play as various members of the House Forrester, as well as the Lord's squire, Gared. The game starts off at the Red Wedding(!) and seeing as the House Forrester have been loyal Stark banner men for centuries, you can guess it isn't going to go well...

You didn't get to see much of Tyrion Lannister *sob*
Now that's where the spoilers begin and end from me. I won't go into the story too much, as it will be much better experienced naturally when you decide to pick up the game (which you will!). I did stream it on my Twitch channel (http://www.twitch.tv/danniekitten) and will be doing another play through making different decisions in the her future. So keep an eye on my Twitter to see when that is happening.

In this first episode you play as three people...Gared the squire, Ethan the 'Little Lord' and Mira - Ethan's sister who is in Kings Landing with Maergery Tyrell. This playing as multiple characters was something I didn't think would bring much to the table in all honesty, but it pans out great. With each decision you make as one character the game is forcing you to think about how that may effect the rest of the House Forrester. It really does feel true to the Game of Thrones experience. Theres something I did playing as Mira that hasn't had an affect yet, so I am very eager toe ee when that will come back into play, and probably bite me in the ass!

Ramsay Snow and Lord Whitehill
There are many moments in this short episode (completed in about 2hr 30 mins) that are completely jaw-dropping and I was definitely not ready for the episode to end when it did - much like the television series! The pacing of it is great, the graphics are exactly what you would expect from the brilliant Telltale and the characters you meet from the show are brilliant! Cersei and Ramsay in particular are instantly recognisable and just as nasty as they are in the show!

My one criticism for this game is that it just wasn't long enough. I want more, much more and the wait for the next episode is going to kill me. I could have seen more of Tyrion too, because why the hell would you not want to?! And given that this game series takes place between the Red Wedding and the upcoming Season Five I do wonder how much of him we are going to see....

Queen Bitch...I mean Cersei
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones then this should already be downloading! If you're not then I do question your mental health but I can honestly whole-heartedly still recommend this game. It has enough nods to the series to keep a die hard fan happy, but you don't necessarily have to watch the show to be able to enjoy the game. It is a stand alone story which doesn't have an effect on the show, it gives us an entirely new family never seen before in the show so try it and you never know, maybe you'll like the show too. At any rate I think everyone should be buying this game! Buy it and buy it now!

10/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Costume Quest 2 (Xbox One) - Review

I absolutely loved the first Costume Quest game on the Xbox 360, so I was really pleased to be able to review the new Costume Quest 2 for the Xbox One. In Costume Quest 2 players meet up with Wren, Reynold and the gang again  and have to save Halloween from the evil dentist Orel. You do this by time travelling, obviously.

Now you all know I run a spoiler free blog, so I won't go into the story properly. Suffice it to say it is pretty weird and wacky, but it is a lot of fun. I'm still a little unsure as to whether I would say it is better than the first game though. There is something about Costume Quest 2 which just lacks the charm of Costume Quest 1, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Costume Quest 2 is still really good fun. The new costumes for this game are brilliant, and the clown in particular had my children in stitches. Little tip for anyone who hasn't played the game yet; if you;re going out for the maximum gamerscore than you're gonna want to keep the Candy Corn outfit on one of your characters throughout the game. Many people have moaned about this due to the fact that Candy Corn does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, but I found it alright. Enemies tend to attack the Candy Corn the most, or at least they did for me, so he (or she) can take most of the damage. The costume has a high HP, so it takes awhile to knock it out, by which point you can easily have finished them off with your other two characters. The most annoying thing about Candy Corn are the little pop ups each time its his turn. They start off as pretty cute and funny, but they soon start to grate.

Sweet Treat cards play a big part in this game, even more so if you do choose to keep Candy Corn on your party. There is a card that will damage the enemy when they attack so it's worth putting that on Candy Corn. Each card has a cool down period after each use, so you'e gonna want to switch them out after each battle. This does become pretty time consuming, but it really does make the game easier. Plus theres another achievement for if you use each card at least once.

This game is a nice family friendly game, which my children and I enjoyed playing together. It'd definitely be better with a co-op mode, something my son was constantly moaning about, until we gave him a controller and told him he was controlling someone. I also feel like it missed the mark a little with it's release date. It didn't release here in the UK on Xbox One until the 29th October, which yes was just about in time for Halloween but I do think just a few days more would have made for a nicer build up to Halloween.

With that said we all had fun with this game, and have continued to play it way after the last Halloween sweeties have been eaten, so it's definitely worth picking up.

8/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided foe the purpose of this review.

Boom Ball for Kinect (Xbox One) - Review

Boom Ball for Kinect releases on the 5th December here in the UK and is priced at £7.99. North Americans were able to download it from the 28th November for $9.99 - probably because they have much bigger living rooms than us, so they can use Kinect without dismantling the couch!

Boom Ball is a cute little puzzle game that has you standing in your living room throwing balls at blocks to empty the screen. It plays kinda how you would expect a goal keeping game to play if one was made for Kinect (My partner and son are both very keen on this idea!) You can step from side to side to see more of the playing field and you have to effectively stop the ball from leaving the screen so that you may be able to clear the level. You get a maximum of five balls you see, and there are often many, many more blocks than that on the screen.

I thought the game played really well. It is the first game I've bothered to use my Kinect for since getting the One, unless you count yelling 'Fire Arrows' over and over when playing Tomb Raider. There aren't really many games out for this generation of Kinect that utilise it in the same way the last one did, but more than that I think I was so put off the experience by Kinect 1.0 that I have stayed away from the few games that do require me to get off my butt (although you can play this sitting down, you just won't do as well). With Boom Ball for Kinect though it felt very responsive, there weren't really any moments of utter frustration at having your movement misunderstood. I sucked at the game because I sucked  at the game, not because Kinect sucked, which strangely enough is much nicer than feeling like the hardware is stopping you from getting gold medals.

But maybe Kinects responsiveness lies in the simplicity of this game. It doesn't try to do too much. It is a block-busting game. You can hit the blocks, move side to side and zoom in on the menu and thats about it. But it doesn't need anything more than this. Boom Ball for Kinect makes a fun little party game, perfect for this time of year as families start congregating at each others houses. And the fact that this had no trouble going from my 6'4 partner to my 3 foot tall son means that there will much less arguing if we do get the whole family round. Saying that, when my two year old daughter toddled in the way of the screen whilst we were on the menu it did cause some confusion, but this didn't seem to be a problem when we were in the game proper.

My five year old son saw me playing this game and thought it looked pretty cool, so I thought I'd let him have a go at playing reviewer for a bit. He had a good go on the game and did pretty well, especially when you consider that he NEVER stops jumping and bouncing. He's very excitable. Anyway the game had no trouble picking him up at all, which was brilliant - I remember when we had the old Kinect there were a lot of tears when he was trying to play Kinectimals, it just couldn't pick up his tiny arms. Anyway I digress; At one point three of us were taking it in turns to play a level and the game seamlessly let us drop in and drop out, which is exactly what you need with this kind of game.

Zach thought this game was 'loads of fun' and I have to agree. If you're after something a little different this holiday season than you could pick up much worse.

7/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Friday, 14 November 2014

South Park Tables Pinball FX 2 (Xbox One) - Review

The South Park tables are now available to buy within Zen Studios' Pinball FX 2. The pack of two tables includes South Park's Super-Sweet Pinball and South Park: Butter's Very Own Pinball Game.

These tables bring the great fun of the South Park universe to the brilliant game that is Pinball FX 2. They feature sound bites and clips from the show which really helps these tables feel like an extension of the show rather than a game tie in. There are no bad voice-overs to grit your teeth through and the game stays true to the form of the show with its colourful graphics too.

South Park's Super-Sweet Pinball is the busier of the two tables, it's very frenetic but is all the more fun for it. There are plenty of modes on this table to unlock and they feature a myriad of the shows most loved characters. I won't go into too much detail with the modes, as I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise for any of you but suffice it to say that these modes are brilliant.

Butter's Very Own Pinball Game is the less chaotic of the two but this in no way means that the table is any less fun. There are fewer modes to unlock, but they are just as good and challenging as the other table.

These tables seem to be following a recent trend, in that the last few tables I've reviewed have seen a much barer lower end of the table. This is something that I am very grateful for, as I am not a very gifted Pinball player, and would often lose balls if the bottom of the table was a bit chaotic as I simply couldn't see the ball. I know, amateur, right? But these tables, as with The Walking Dead table (my personal favourite) leave the bottom fairly clear, leaving you with plenty of space to attempt to unlock the modes and, most importantly for me at least, keeping track of the ball.

The one criticism I have with these tables is that for what I imagine to be the core demographic for these tables, that being the more mature people that watch the show, these tables may feel fairly tame in comparison. In my mind if you watch the show you are aware of the humour featured, which at the very best can be described as risqué. There's plenty of bad language and really near-the-knuckle jokes, and this type of humour is missing in these tables. I imagine this is so that they could get past certification, after all this game could be played by young children. My son plays the Marvel tables sometimes and there is nothing to stop him opening the South Park tables really. Having said all this though I don't think the tables suffer too much for this, they still feel like South Park-y and are great fun. Go give them a try!
7/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.