Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Toto Temple Deluxe (Xbox One) - Review

Toto Temple Deluxe is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £7.99.

Toto Temple Deluxe is a simple local multiplayer game that sees you battling to keep a goat balanced on your head. No, really that's what this game entails.

It reminded me a lot of #IDARB as it is a game that is simple to pick up and difficult to master. Obviously this game doesn't feature rick-rolls so #IDARB wins out but you can't have it all, right?

Keep the goat on your head and collect coins and power ups to beat your friends or family. It really is that simple. There are a few other game modes that can involve blowing up the opposing team with a bomb you trigger when they're in the vicinity. Toto Temple Deluxe is just fun for everyone. We have tried to play #IDARB with my son, but he find it a little too frustrating to get the ball in the goal. No such worries with Toto Temple Deluxe though, which means he is whooping me on a game fairly frequently these days - I thought I still had a few years of being better than him. Dammit.

Try it out if you have a decent Rewards pay back this month. Otherwise wait it out, with it's family-friendly feel I imagine this game will go on sale before the holiday season.

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

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Crimsonland (Xbox One) - Review

Crimsonland is available now on Xbox One and is priced at £9.99.

Crimsonland is a remaster of a PC game released way back in 2003, which has since been re-released on both PS4 and Xbox One. It's a top down twin-stick shooter all about wiping out the waves of enemies that come your way.

It reminded me a lot of a game I loved on the Xbox 360, the XBLIG title I Maed A Gam3 With Zombies In It!!!1, most probably best recognised from this song. This was a twin-stick shooter that was challenging, but more importantly a lot of fun, something which Crimsonland emulates and expands upon perfectly.

The controls are slick and super-responsive, as they should be with this type of game. Graphically the game is just ok really, but can any of us say we play a twin-stick for the visuals?! No, we play them for the quick, mindless sense of gratification that comes with mowing down hundreds of enemies with minimal effort. In a slight move away from the usual twin-stick controls though, Crimsonland has you pressing RT to actually fire your weapon, something which I struggled with at first but ultimately ended up feeling like it added to the experience of the game.

Crimsonland has two modes, Quest and Survival. Quest features 70 levels that each pits you against waves of enemies, with plenty of unlockables and power-ups to collect. Obviously these levels get a little more difficult as you progress through the game, but I found the curve to be just right really - actually erring on the easy side if you played with a friend. Survival mode is what you'd expect, but there a few different variants within the mode to playa round with.

Overall I'd say Crimsonland is a solid addition to the Xbox One game library. I went into the game not expecting to think that much of it if I am honest, but in the end I was really enjoying myself. At £9.99 I would say it is a little pricey - I would have been more comfortable recommending it to you if it was around the £7.99 mark instead. But with a sale probably somewhere in the not so distant future I'd say this is a game that is definitely worth picking up.

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

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Mad Max (Xbox One) - Review

Mad Max is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £49.99 on the Xbox One digital store.

Reviews have slowed down a little here at the minute, I have found myself in the wonderful position of having a LOT of games on my review list - even luckier to have this and a few other big ones to sink my time into. But on the flipside i have also found myself with less time to actually play, let alone write up my thoughts on these games. So here are my rather belated thoughts on Mad Max.

I had never seen a Mad Max film prior to Fury Road, which I only really watched as a precursor to playing this game. I did enjoy it, although not enough to watch the originals. Sorry. Whilst I was watching Fury Road I was imagining all of the things that might carry over into the game and getting myself all excited for the possibilities. Unfortunately, or at least I think it's unfortunate, Mad Max the games isn't a tie in to the film. It shares it's main character and a universe, but ultimately it is a separate, stand alone tale of The Wasteland. Let me explain why I found this disappointing...

Mad Max, whilst it has it's merits, has many, many moments of being just too damn repetitive for its own good. The game feels like a slow trudge through fetch quest after fetch quest rather than the adrenaline-fuelled game I had kinda been expecting. But despite this - which is the thing people have knocked this game for most - I have really enjoyed my time with Mad Max.

I got this at the same time as I got MGS V: The Phantom Pain, a game that is just so pressurised (for me at least) that Mad Max was perfect for counteracting the stress of failing yet again to be anything close to stealthy. Mad Max is a game that gives you multiple tools of destruction to just go wild with in The Wasteland. Yeah ammo, water and fuel is apparently scarce, but I found you always had enough to enjoy a bit of Wasteland carnage. And let's not forget your biggest weapon of destruction - your Magnum Opus - is nigh on indestructible, with the help of everyones favourite mutant, Chumbucket.

I streamed a fair bit of this game on my Twitch channel (twitch.tv/danniekitten, thanks for asking!) and those who tuned in will no doubt remember how much I sucked at it. But aside from the embarrassment of sucking in front of people from the internet, I didn't care! This is a new feeling for me, I HATE not completing things as close to perfect as possible usually, but with Mad Max I could let it all go and allow my version of Max to die numerous times without so much as an increase in heart rate. It's not that I didn't care about the fate of my character - although now I think of it I guess i didn't really - it was just quite a lot of fun to go into a massive group of enemies all guns blazing, no matter the outcome. Plus when you die and regenerate progress is saved, meaning the next time you take a chance on that particular fort any groups of enemies you amy have killed have remained dead. This is not the case for single grunts however, you have to have killed the whole gaggle of miscreants for them to not respawn with you.

Graphically I thought this game was pretty impressive, especially when you go up in the balloons to scout the map. Because come on, this is a Ubisoft game and they are apparently incomplete until they feature at least 12 things for you to scale in order to fill in a relatively tiny portion of your map. Up close some of the textures are a little 'old' looking, but overall I'd say this game looks pretty damn good.

Obviously you can customise your Magnum Opus, which saw me incredibly excited because I could pick an old American car that reminded me of the Anthill Mob from Wacky Racers. However, this joy was short-lived, as it transpired that you have to go about collecting other car bodies so as to move forward with the story. Not fair. I wanted my Magnum Opus to be my ONLY Magnum Opus, not just one body in a whole catalogue available to me. Not only did that take away from the special-ness (I know that's not a word) of my car, but it also cheapened the whole Mad Max universe. Everything is hard to come by, but whole car bodies?! Not a problem, there's a spare in every junkyard. You can also customise Max, to an extent, upgrading both his clothes (armor) and his beard. Yes, his beard is a customisable object, going from Nathan Drake-esque stubble to full Tom Hanks in Castaway in a few simple steps. I donned the long hair and beard and played the game thinking of my Max as a Wasteland version of Opie from Sons of Anarchy, because I was a little bit in love with him. Not only can he physically be upgraded but you also get to upgrade his skills too, from being able to get more water from source, to being able to wield weapons for longer before the crowbar you were holding splits into two pieces because you hit a bad guy three times with it. Stupid glass crowbars.

The game isn't without it's niggles though. I have already touched upon the repetitiveness of Mad Max, something which irked many other reviewers. Whilst I did find myself kinda bored if I tried to stay in The Wasteland for more than a couple of hours, I found the game to be just on the right side of repetitive. By that I mean that in its repetitiveness is a calmness, you know what you're doing and where you are with Mad Max, something I feel a lot of games lose now in their quests to become 100+ hour games. You can take week long gaps from playing this game and go back to it feeling refreshed rather than snowed under and unable to remember what the hell you were doing last time. My biggest problem with this game was the ability to only climb up things edged in yellow. Knee high sand-ledges are a no go, because they've not been highlighted. I felt this to be pretty condescending if I'm honest, like the designers thought that us gamers would simply not be able to complete the game without these visual prompts. Not only that, but it ruined the immersion - we are lead to believe that Max is this super-capable guy, but show him a ledge that's waist high and covered in sand and suddenly he's completely inept. Bad move.

Despite this though I have truly enjoyed Mad Max and I have been seeing it below £30 on disc recently, a price that I think offers pretty good value for money. The game is good fun, in small doses, but many of us only have a few hours to sink into a game these days anyway, which in my opinion isn;t enough for the boredom to set in. I see it being a £25 special in GAME before Christmas and if I'm right I highly recommend you pick this up.

7/10 TRY IT!

A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Blood Bowl 2 (Xbox One) - Review

Blood Bowl 2 is available now on Xbox One and is priced at £39.99.

I have dabbled in tabletop Warhammer games. Well, actually I guess I should say I was dragged along to Games Workshop by a group of my friends as a teenager - the nerdiest of which would one day be the father of my children. I was never really interested in it if I am honest, preferring to spend the summer holidays at one of the lads houses setting up five screens and five consoles for another 'Summer of Gaming'. These are some of my fondest memories of my teen years, I mean who can beat seeing Final Fantasy 7 on a few different CRT screens on a coffee table, whilst we made towers out of the multipacks of coke we were drinking?!

Now I've shown you just how cool I am (read: unpopular with the 'cool' lot at school) let me explain why I included that little bit of Dannie Kitten history...I've always been more into video games than the drawn-out games played in Games Workshop - where you could quite literally miss your curfew if the dice weren't your friend that day. Standing for hours whilst people deliberate is not my idea of fun. Couple that with the fact that we only had one Games Workshop anywhere near - which also happened to me right near 2, yes 2 GAME's, a Gamestation AND an Electronic's Boutique (remember them?) I ALWAYS found something else to spend my paper round money on. The friend who would one day end up being my co-op partner for life however LOVED Warhammer and still would if it wasn't for 'those pesky kids'. So Blood Bowl 2 seemed like the perfect way for him to relive some teen memories, and for me to maybe finally understand why everyone loved it so much. I'll be regurgitating a lot of what Mr Dannie Kitten said about Blood Bowl 2 in this review, because (I HATE that I'm saying this) he's better at it than I am. :(

Blood Bowl is a fantasy version of what I thought was American Football. I've now been informed that it is Gridiron, which I've never heard of but it still looks like American Football to me. You have to get the ball from one end of the 'board' to the other, via turn-based play. It's very tactical, which is the main thing that drew my analyst fella to it really. But it also relies on the luck of the draw really, with random statistical probabilities of tripping, being knocked out or even murdered. The controls are simple and intuitive, but for a newbie like me the tutorial felt like a drag. I found it fairly difficult to simply understand and even more difficult to actually make sense of during gameplay. This game is NOT a game that is easy to pick-up-and-play. It is a time-sink, for people like me anyway, obviously people who already have a good understanding of these games will not have to spend as much time as I did on the basics. It's typical turn-based rules - you can only move so far if you want to complete an action too etc.

There's a campaign which sees you play against various teams to regain your teams former glory. Or some such nonsense. No one plays game like this for a story, right? There's also a multiplayer mode, both online and offline. In offline mode you can actually share the controller, which is good for those of you who only have one. In multiplayer there are 24 pre-made teams featuring 8 different races, and there are more races available via DLC. You can also customise your own team for multiplayer modes only. Local multiplayer works really well, but unfortunately I am yet to actually find a match online.

Graphically the game is fairly impressive and a vast improvement on the previous console version of Blood Bowl. The takedown animations are gritty and every tackle is done in slow-mo, which really does look great. The sound effects and everything involved in these slow-mo takedowns really adds a depth to the game that I didn't really anticipate and for me it far surpasses the fun of playing this in its traditional tabletop format. I mean, seeing an orc being crushed is much more satisfying than moving a little metal dude off the board.

Overall Blood Bowl 2 is a pretty decent game, but I am struggling to figure out whether it will do well or not. To me the people that go into Games Workshop don't just go in to play a game, they go in for the camaraderie, to look at other people collections. They play these games yes, but they also put a hell of a lot of time into making their teams and painting the figures - something that the console version can't compete with. With the disappearance of many Games Workshops from the high streets though this might be a good alternative for the long time fans. For newbies I think the game is just about welcoming enough to offer some fun, but be prepared to sink A LOT of time into it.

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

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Adventures of Pip (Xbox One) - Review

Adventures of Pip is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £9.99.

Retro inspired platformers are everywhere these days and in my opinion they need to be something really special to stand out anymore. It isn't good enough anymore to just make a game with retro graphics and expect it to sell well, there needs to be something more.

Adventures of Pip has just that, with a game mechanic that I haven't seen appear in a game of this ilk before. That's not too say it hasn't been done, but I haven't played anything like Adventures of Pip on my Xbox One as of yet. The story is straight from an old Mario game, an evil bad guy has kidnapped the princess. Queen DeRezzia wants to destroy everything in the Pixel Kingdom and Pip is the unlikeliest hero ever because he is just a single pixel. But this apparent weakness is his greatest strength, as Queen DeRezzia's magic doesn't affect him like it affects everyone else; because he is just a single pixel he is immune to her spell.

Let's cut to the chase a little here, Pip learns how to transform between his single pixel state and that of a boy with a sword - infinitely more useful against Queen DeRezzia's minions. You can switch between these states almost at will - you do need to kill an enemy with the Bitstream inside them to return to the 8-bit boy who can wall jump, and another enemy to begin super-charged 16-bit Pip complete with sword - but you can switch to single-pixel Pip with the touch of a button. It's a mechanic that works very, very well, with each of Pip's three different states behaving very differently from the others.

Adventures of Pip is definitely one of the more interesting nostalgia inducing games released of late. The graphics are great and the transformations between single pixel, 8-bit and 16-bit Pip are really cool. It's not the longest game in the world, but it doesn't have to be - there's nothing worse than a game that has been inflated so much that it becomes dull. Adventures of Pip is still fun at the end, something not many games are anymore. It has been out a little while now, so a sale shouldn't be too far away, but I definitely recommend you try this game.

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

Friday, 9 October 2015

Polychromatic (Xbox One) - Review

Polychromatic is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £7.99.

There have been a few twin-stick shooters released on the Xbox One in this past year, all priced around the same mark my favourite of which has been Ultratron by a smidgen. Does Polychromatic knock Ultratron off the top spot?

Well, no. We all know what a twin-stick shooter is and how to play them, so I'm gonna skip over that particular explanation. Polychromatic takes the twin-stick genre back to the bare bones, only giving you three modes in which to play and no real campaign to speak of and using extremely simple coloured shapes to depict yours and the enemy ships

. This was part of my problem, I kept losing my damn ship in the mass of colour. Not cool.

But Polychromatic does have a nifty little dash button, triggered by tapping your bumper (either of them). I'm sure that for some of the bigger twin-stick aficionados out there does could either be seen as a new necessity or something that takes away from the purity of a twin-stick shooter. I saw neither because I kept forgetting I had it and so ended up using it about twice.

I feel like Polychromatic's simplicity works against it. For me it is priced at the top end of a twin-stick shooters price point and so is trying to compete with the big guns. And Polychromatic just doesn't measure up. I struggle to understand who would have thought it a good idea to come in at the same price as Ultratron and Tachyon Project, two twin-stick shooters that do what they do pretty damn well. Grab this one in a sale if you just don't feel like you already have enough twin-stick shooters in your life.
5/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.