Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Kung-Fu for Kinect (Xbox One) - Review

Kung-Fu for Kinect is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £14.99.

The Kinect has been pretty much abandoned by everyone but Virtual Air Guitar Company at this point, or it at least feels like it has. I am a bit disappointed to be honest, as this Kinect is SO much better than the Kinect we had with the Xbox 360. I wanted developers to think of new and exciting ways they could utilise the Kinect within more mainstream games, but unfortunately it never really came to be. Kinect is now the home of gimmicky games and people who like to shout at their Tv until it turns on or turns up. Though I've a feeling when the new dash comes out of preview even that will stop.

Kung-Fu for Kinect is exactly what you expect from a game with that title. You must bounce around your living room pretending you're a ninja to beat the myriad of enemies on screen.

My favourite thing about Kung-Fu for Kinect was apparent from the minute I started the game. It asks you to choose whether your character in the comic-style story will have a female voice or a male. You then are asked to strike various poses so that you can be placed into the comic book. It is a really cool way to immerse you in the game. The problem came when my children wanted a go. My son is an extremely tall 7 year old, but despite completing all of the poses a lot of the actual comic book pages were blank where he should have been. The game never wanted that he could not be seen and there were no options to make allowances for this, which left him feeling a little disappointed.

You punch and kick to mover yourself around the screen which works alright. The problem comes with the moves that require any form of precision. You are told you can perform a somersault by punching both arms at once, but this worked probably a third of the time. The rest of the time left you being beat up by someone as you made yourself mad trying to pull off a somersault so that you could gain the upper hand. Worse though was when you had to jump up to a ledge to reach the next part of the level, I found myself stood there for about five minutes trying to get the somersault needed. When I did it didn't end up where I wanted it to either. The Kinect does pick up the person playing very well though and animates it beautifully throughout the level. I found that the picture never distorted, even when my son was moving incredibly fast.

Kung-Fu for Kinect is a fun little game. It has it's niggles but let's be honest what games don't?! My son had a blast with it, but I wasn't so enthused truth be told. I found the lack of precision in the smaller movements infuriating, but my son was bouncing around that much he barely seemed to notice. I'd say that kids will definitely get more out of this game than adults, but who am I to judge? If you've been looking for a reason to dust your Kinect this might just be the game for you.

5/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride (Xbox One) - Review

Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £7.99.

I have to admit I find myself looking forward each time to an email from Artifex Mundi. They've become my ultimate guilty pleasure, my casual game of choice. There's just something so relaxing about a Hidden Object game after a long stressful day. Some days you want to shoot aliens in the face, others you want to give yourself eye strain trying to find five ants in a massive pile of junk.

As always with these games the story is a fairly cheesy and terrible affair that just distracts from what we're all really here for. You play as a woman on her way to her sisters wedding. She crashes in the woods after her horse is scared by a bear. The bear then takes her sister. There are some twists and turns along the way, but we all know I'm a spoiler-free zone, so I'll stop there. The voice acting is as hammy as ever and graphically it still looks like an old flash game, BUT I DON'T CARE! I have fun while I'm playing and after all that is why we all play games.

Grim Legends isn't breaking any stereotypes, it is unashamedly a hidden object game, the type that are ten-a-penny on Steam or mobiles. If you don't like hidden object games then don't get this - it's that simple. If you enjoy them then grab it, it provides a fair few hours of hidden object and puzzle fun on your home console.
7/10 TRY IT!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Hitman (PS4) - Review

Hitman is available now on PS4 and is priced at £44.99 for  the full experience or £11.99 for the first episode and £7.99 for each episode thereafter. If you enjoy the first episode then you can buy the full experience upgrade pack for £36.99. Jeez, that was convoluted.

I've held back on this review for a little while. I have had it since launch and have played a hell of a lot of it. But the episodic nature of this game irked many a gamer and I wanted to be completely sure of my thoughts on this game before I set out to sway you guys one way or another.

By the time all of the episodes have been released there will be a total of six locations for you to go on a killing spree in. This doesn't include the ICA training facility that is included in the Paris episode. I mentioned the pricing at the beginning of this review and honestly believe this lead to more confusion than was necessary. IF you bought every episode as it came out, on the basis of how much you enjoyed the previous one or whatever it would cost you £51.94 (well according to my calculator anyway). Get Paris and then decide to upgrade? You're looking at £48.98. So if you think you might enjoy what Hitman has to offer the best option would be to get the full experience. Want to hedge your bets a little? Go for the full upgrade after seeing what Paris has to offer. I see no reason why anyone would buy each pack separately if I am honest, though I suppose it does look attractive to people of limited means. £7.99 a month is doable for most people.

Anyway, lets get away from all of that for a second and talk about the game, shall we?

I was going to write up a dissection of what each different location offers, but that would be time consuming and pretty damn boring to read, I imagine. Instead I want to talk about the overall level design. Hitman is a great example of what brilliant level design can do for a game. This game was lambasted by many for offering just one level for £7.99 at first and now my Twitter feed is full of congratulations to Squenix each time a new locale is released. The levels are intricate, beautiful and full of things to discover. Paris has been out since May and is the smallest of the maps so far (save from the training facility, which is also fantastic) yet I can still find new ways to approach the objectives, still find myself getting lost or finding new corridors to explore. Paris is the only one so far that centres around just one building and it's gardens, so you can imagine how many opportunities for exploration there are in the town of Sapienza and the markets of Marrakesh.

You do hear the same voice acting in each of the locations, which does nothing for immersion in my opinion. I want to hear different voices, different accents for crying out loud. Instead, no matter where you go you hear the same fairly stuffy British accents from every person who happens to speak as you walk by. Maybe I am nitpicking, but it does take away from the exotic locations somewhat if I'm being honest.

Back in May when I first played the Paris missions, I was thinking the same as everyone else, that being "all that money for one contract?!". I had had a little play in the contract mode, but I have to be honest it didn't interest me that much, and remains my least played area of the game. So I put the game to one side for awhile and decided to revisit once Sapienza was released and then maybe write up my review. I'm so glad I did, as this review would have been going in a very different direction. After I had completed the missions in Sapienza, I decided to revisit Paris and try and do it another way. Sapienza had shown me the amount of thought that went into each level and I approached The Showstopper with renewed appreciation. Hitman really is a masterclass in level design.

After doing The Showstopper again I was hooked, but still not feeling the contracts. So I gave the Escalation mode a try. Escalation mode consists of 3-5 rounds in one location that get progressively harder. I don't know how I hadn't noticed them before. They're brilliant! Incredibly challenging but even more rewarding. They give you different targets from the main ones included in the missions, and then they give you more targets on top of the first as well as more stringent security to contend with. They're infuriating, but fantastic and I have whiled away many an hour tailing random people in each location, looking for the perfect time to strike.

My favourite thing by far about the new Hitman experience though has been the Elusive contracts. They are such a great idea for a game like this. There have been four Elusive Contracts so far (all of which I have completed, wahoo!) and these contracts run for about 48 hours. The target will ONLY be available in that window of time, real-time. If you die you don't get to do it over. That's it. You get a nice red Failed sign over the target on the game's main screen. Ouch. Actually, even after completing another one the failure will still follow you, as my partner found out. I don't know whether these will come back once the disc version is released, but I hope they do. It would be a shame for game collectors and lovers of physical discs to miss out on how exciting this mode is.

Overall I think that Hitman works wonderfully episodic. It keeps it fresh and exciting and basically gives you a new game to look forward to each month. I actually find myself wondering why the hell all previous Hitman games weren't like this. If the whole game had been released in one go I honestly wonder whether I would have played it as much as I have. As it is I find myself looking forward to the next month, to see where I'll be killing people next. If you were at all on the fence about this game, don't be! Get it. There are options to suit every wallet out there. I promise you won't regret it.

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

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Homefront: The Revolution (Xbox One) - Review

Homefront: The Revolution is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £44.99.

Unless you've been living under a rock you'll have heard a lot abut Homefront: The Revolution. Most likely, none of it has been good. From what I have read it has been the PS4 and PC versions which have been slammed the most. So I went into my Xbox One copy feeling grateful that I personally favour the XB1 pad.

With that said I still encountered some problems on the XB1 version and I'm gonna get them out of the way here. I don't usually approach a review in this way, but I feel like most people have come to a Homefront review already "knowing" how it's going to go. Many will have already made their mind up before reading anymore reviews based on what they've heard. And that's fine. But I just want to get the negative stuff out of the way so I can talk about what I did like about this game and end this review on a more positive note.

The biggest problem I encountered whilst playing Homefront: The Revolution was lag. The lag was pretty terrible actually and made it feel like a chore to continue playing rather than fun way to use my precious spare time. It lagged when I aimed through my scope, it lagged when I had an enemy in my sights so that the gunfire sound was playing but nothin else was actually happening. It lagged every single time I used the little locker/store thing or accepted a mission. If you're sitting down to play this game for a prolonged period of time this lag really starts to get on your nerves. I sat through two hours in one sitting and the pull to turn on another game was very strong, let's put it that way.

The graphics have been given a lot of crap and I honestly don't think they're bad. Whilst it is certainly not the prettiest game we have seen so far this gen it is by no means the ugliest (has everyone forgotten Toro?!). Nah I'm being unfair there, we shouldn't compare this to Toro, but my point stands. This game does not look like a previous-gem game at all and in places it was actually really nice looking. It's mostly down to the light usage I think, but I'll tweet out some screenshots after I've published this review and you can tell me what you think.

The load times are also terrible. I honestly wondered whether the game had crashed entirely. And the death animation is laughable, really. But that about wraps up the bad things I have to say about this game. Don't get me wrong, the lag especially, are pretty big bads but I'm sure that future patches will make all of these better. Now onto what I enjoyed!

The story is really interesting and the introduction sets it up perfectly. I couldn't wait to play and find out more (damn you lag!). The game is set in an open-world version of Philadelphia after the "Norks" (no, really. They're not big boobs, it is in fact slang for North Korean, apparently) have flipped a switch in all of our tech and invaded. Wandering around the city feels great, and actually captures that feeling of dread much better than The Division does. You feel oppressed. Nervous at what you might find around the next corner. The atmosphere is really fantastic.

The gun animation is great too. You can swap your load out on the fly, including attachments to your gun. Your avatar will lift it up and you press the button corresponding to the bit you want to change (scope, under-barrel etc). You then detach what is there and attach the new part. It's all very slick and the guns look fantastic. I'm a big fan of the hack mechanic too, which works a little bit like the hacking in Batman: Arkham Knight.

Overall this game is never going to win GOTY but it is a solid single player FPS experience with a great open-world to explore. Yeah there are big problems with lag at the minute, but I'm sure it will be patched eventually. And with the bad press this game has received it is already available for less than £35. In a few more weeks it'll likely be around the £25 mark and I think you should definitely think about snapping it up then.
6/10 TRY IT!
A copy was provided for the purpose of this review.