Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Swapper (Xbox One) - Review

The Swapper is available now on Xbox One and is priced at £11.99.

The Swapper is a puzzle platformer that actually feels truly unique. Pretty rare now, huh? This game puts you in the shoes of a man who can clone himself. Multiple times. Yeah, this game freaked me out.

Your clones are not capable of independent thought or movement, they copy what the player does. So whilst I got to grips with this I sent many a clone hurtling to their death off high ledges. I got there in the end. And I was fine whilst I just had my little army of clones to deal with. I wasn't worried about my mindless clones. Didn't care that they disappeared if I ran into the light, unless that is them disappearing effed up my solving the puzzle.

But then you get the ability to TRANSFER YOURSELF INTO ONE OF YOUR CLONES. And that was it. From the moment I had to leave Mr Astronaut behind and continue my journey in one of the 'mindless' clone bodies I was completely stressed out. I couldn't stop thinking about the poor man I had abandoned. And that's what this game has set out to do I suppose. Question the morality of cloning, the practicalities, and of course impracticalities of it too.

It's a sci-fi puzzler set in the future (obviously). The puzzles are great, though they are really difficult. But isn't that what you want from a puzzler, a bit of a challenge? You get that by the bucket-load with The Swapper. And even though I did struggle I could still admire the puzzles, they were very well designed. There are areas that restrict clone placement, or swapping to clones that really force you to rethink, making the moment you solve it all the more satisfying. And there are other things to do in The Swapper too. Backtrack on yourself after you have unlocked a new ability to explore more of the ship and find out more about it.

The graphics and sound to this game are fantastic too, and really aid the overall feel of the game. Although it did take me awhile to work out how to turn my character around, so for awhile whenever I had to run in another direction, I basically moonwalked there. It was actually pretty funny.

You will go through a bazillion clones before you complete this game, and if you're anything like me you will still be thinking about the poor guy you left right at the beginning. It haunts you. Or at least it haunted me. At points I honestly didn't want to put the game back on because of it. I know, I know, that's incredibly silly, but the questions posed in this game really stuck with me. This game is more than a simple puzzle platformer. I mean the puzzles are by no means simple, but more than that this game can be considered as true art, in my opinion. £11.99 may seem steep for a puzzler, but this game feels more like an experience. Wait for a sale if you want, but I wholeheartedly recommend you play The Swapper at some point.

9/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Beach Buggy Racing (Xbox One) - Review

Beach Buggy Racing is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £7.99.

My son is a HUGE fan of kart racing games, whether he's racing around in a helicopter as Wreck-It Ralph in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed or whooping us all as Baby Mario in Mario Kart 8 (which he screams in Mario's voice every time it gets turned on). So when he noticed I'd been sent this game to review he was super excited to play it.

Beach Buggy Racing is a game that is available on mobile devices. I haven't played it on this format, but as I understand it the mobile version has a lot of in app purchases. The developers have taken these out of the Xbox One version so as to justify the £7.99 price tag. So what do you get for your money?

Whilst my family and I had fun with this game, it is clearly not in the same league as the games mentioned previously. I'm not saying it is trying to compete with those, I just mean that if you go into this game expecting the same level of customisation there is available in Mario Kart then prepared to be disappointed. There are a few pre-built characters and cars to pick between, and then some different paint jobs for the cars and that is it. For me it was enough to be honest, as I am starting to feel that the amount of customisation in Mario Kart 8 just takes away from actual play time. Then again I am playing with a six year old who delights in building a different vehicle for EVERY SINGLE RACE. He was fairly happy with the customisation available in Beach Buggy Racing, or at least he didn't complain anyway.
There is a small amount of customisation

The racing is GOOD too. Everyone pretty much knows what to expect from this type of game now, a race around a crazy track, with a few obstacles and some bubbles that give you power ups along the way. In Beach Buggy Racing you also have an in-built power up depending on your character and car which is a one use thing. The racing feels very responsive and it is fun to play in local multiplayer. The single player stuff suffers from what I feel is a pretty steep difficulty increase though, leaving Zach incredibly frustrated when he chose to play by himself. It does kinda feel like the odds are stacked against you.

Overall I'd say this game is a pretty fair price at £7.99. It isn't trying to reinvent the wheel, but really if you don't have a Wii U then you've not got many kart racers to choose from. I believe Sonic & All-Stars was released on the previous gen, so could be picked up pretty cheaply now if you still have your old console hanging around. But if you have £8 spare and a couple of young kids to entertain then I'd say pick this up.

6/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Spy Chameleon (Xbox One) - Review

Spy Chameleon is out now on the Xbox One and is priced at £3.99! No that isn't a typo it really is that cheap!

In Spy Chameleon you take control of a chameleon that works as a spy. Obviously. To complete your missions you must work your way through rooms filled with cameras and robot patrols to get to the exit. There are some some flies to collect along the way, as well as ladybugs after one run-through of the level. For added deployability there is also a timer to try and beat, which if you do this separately from all the collectables, is usually very easy.

The game is so simplistic. The controls are just your wiggle stick to move and the AXYB buttons all switch your chameleon to the colour depicted on the button. Incredibly simple and intuitive. The graphics are bright and colourful, and it is a really beautiful game to play. It is very addictive, and much like Ultratron which I reviewed previously, is one that you will pick up for a quick go and end up looking at the clock an hour later confused.

If you have kids then this game is sure to go down well. My son absolutely loves it, watching or playing. He usually gets a little frustrated when he has to wait to work out the best way to move forward, but with this game he was hanging back gladly, working out the best way to make it through the level and the best route to take to pick up all the flies.

I have to applaud Unfinished Pixel. The trend recently for indie games has been to price themselves way above what you would have paid on the previous gen. These guys have really put a spanner in the works with Spy Chameleon, a game that is not only one of the cheapest available on the Xbox One WITHOUT waiting for a sale but a game that is actually really good too. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't get a little enjoyment out of this game, and at less than a fiver it really is pocket change compared to many, many others.

9/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review. 

Ultratron (Xbox One) - Review

Ultratron is out now on Xbox One and is priced at £7.99.

I have had this game since release, so as you can tell this review has taken me awhile to write up. I bet you're probably wondering how the hell I could have taken this long to review a simple twin-stick shooter? Well here is the very embarrassing answer: I SUCK at this game.

Before I wrote my review I wanted to actually get to the end. I cannot get to the end :( I have tried and tried and tried, but I am just not good enough to actually finish this game. I am really, really bad at twin stick shooters.

So now my gaming embarrassment is out there lets get into the review.

Ultratron is an old-school arcade style twin-stick shooter. God that was a mouthful. Yes I speak as I type too. Everyone has been killed by robots and you are the last humanoid battle droid with one mission and one mission only, AVENGE THE HUMANS!!

We all know how a twin-stick shooter works at this point. If you don't WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? You get to upgrade your battle bot if you collect enough floaty bits that disperse when you kill the nasties. The upgrades are absolutely necessary to get further into the game, so think about what you upgrade carefully. I'm not so good with the dodging so high shields was a must have for me from early on.

The game handles SO well. The controls are super-responsive and you never feel like you lost the game for anything other than your own lack of skill, which is how a twin-stick shooter should be. The screen gets mega busy with nasties and I didn't notice any lagging, the game works seamlessly. It really is a masterful example of the twin-stick genre.

There's even a coop mode. Although I didn't fare much better playing it with my partner, it is nice to be able to share the blame.

I need to get over my dislike of the pricing of the ID@Xbox games, and stop comparing them to the much cheaper XBLA and XBLIG games of the previous generation. This is simply where we are now whether we like it or not. So considering that games like Tower of Guns are £4 more expensive than this, I'd say this is a steal at £7.99. It's a great, fun little game that you will keep picking up to have just one go at. Then lose two hours to it.

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

Friday, 12 June 2015

Lifeless Planet (Xbox One) - Review

Lifeless Planet Premier Edition is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £15.99

Lifeless Planet started life as a PC game. It has now been given a visual lift and repackaged as the Platinum Edition to be brought to consoles. It sees you take control of a scientist that has seemingly been sent to another planet looking for the existence of life. This planet was apparently lush with flora and fauna when observed from Earth but upon crash landing it becomes clear that something is amiss. There is no evidence of life anywhere, no greenery, just a barren wasteland for miles around. There are some tracks visible, so with nothing better to do we follow them and the story begins to unfold.

Lifeless Planet is definitely more of an 'arty' game in my opinion. It's a gaming experience that you won't soon forget, but that doesn't feel much like a game. With that I mean it isn't action packed, it's story telling feels slow and methodical, and it doesn't throw jump-scares and action sequences in your face. It's an exploration game first and foremost, with a story given to you through reading and some smooth voice acting. The sound in this game is fantastic, really atmospheric and so believable in the game world. When your scientist speaks you hear the crackle of the speaker in his helmet, the little breathes he makes. There is no in game music, just the sounds of your environment. It is truly beautiful. Now obviously you have a reason to explore. You want to find out where you are, what happened here, where is your crew? A little later on you start to notice green footprints everywhere, leading you through danger. The rest of the game pretty much sees you playing catch up to this chick.

I'm not going to go into the story anymore than I have. I feel that this game is limited in it's replayability so if I was to tell you about it, there'd be a chance you wouldn't play. And you should play. Lifeless Planet is spectacular. It's a lonely foray into another world, that feels so true to itself. Yes there are some annoying collectables, they seem to have found their way into every game these days, but they are not numerous enough to make them completely unachievable and they do give you a little more insight into the world, which can't always be said of some games collectables. The price point I would say is a bit of a sore point. I feel it is a little on the expensive side. As good as the game is i can't see myself returning to it really. I may give have a go at completing it in under four hours for the achievement at some point in the future, but I can't say that that is something that features on my agenda at the minute. There are far too many game sin my backlog now to return to a game and replay the same story again. I think something is lost in Lifeless Planet if you know what is coming.

In saying that I don't mean that this game is not worth picking up though. If you have £16 burning a hole in your pocket then go for it. But I feel a sale will not be too far away for this game, so wait until then if you've got plenty to be going on with. Graphically this game isn't that impressive. It looks fine, but there are no beautiful vistas for you to screenshot as your Xbox background. Then again how beautiful can a wasteland be?!

9/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.