Hardspace Shipbreaker is certainly not the first game to concern itself with reducing spaceships to their component parts, but it is certainly one of the most methodical in its approach. The usual method generally consists of flying around high intensity combat situations, dodging missiles and lasers and to be honest, sometimes it can feel like a bit much. …
So as you are all no doubt aware, I have my grubby little mitts in a number of different pies. And I hear things. So, when I got the chance to try Valko Studio’s new game; Labyrinthine I jumped at the chance. It’s pre-Alpha and not many people have got their mitts on it yet, so i’m clearly the man for the job.
Jump to the cut to find out what I thought.
Here at Reticule towers I’ve been reviewing Firaxis’ new XCOM game; Chimera Squad. Luckily for you lot I’m a huge XCOM fan so I grabbed the title as soon as it came out to bring you the only definitive review….
However it’s not going to be as simple as I thought. I’ve put 9 hours into it already and feel I need to spend more time on it before I can give you a fair evaluation of the title. As such i’m going to do a ‘first impressions’ piece with.. erm… my first impressions (and perhaps some context as to why I want to spend more time on it), and then I’ll follow it up with the final review late this week/early next.
So jump to the cut for my initial thoughts.
I last talked about Battlefield V back in August, and ended my piece pondering whether it would keep me involved, or whether the Destiny 2 relaunch would grab my attention. Well, Destiny did grab my attention for a while eventually, but I didn’t really stick on that for too long either. However, I have continued to dip in and out of BFV now and again, most recently to check out Chapter 5 “War in the Pacific”.
While I have been having great fun with the new maps, and certainly have relished the inclusion of American and Japanese guns, tanks and planes…I don’t think I’ll ever commit to a Battlefield game again in the same way as Battlefield 2. That came about when I had spare time galore, and found a home with the -=256=- clan. Hundreds of hours were spent in that game, and the only games I spend that kind of time with these days are Football Manager and The Witcher 3. Games like Battlefield V don’t keep me returning for lengthy periods anymore. The rewards are so regular that there is now long-term drive to unlock a new gun for the medic class, or to achieve an elusive badge or ribbon, as can be attested by my pre-clan Battlefield 2 soldier not achieving much. Aside from the reward structure not being my cup of tea, playing by yourself in a game designed for teamplay is….well a bit shit. That’s where Destiny 2 will always have the edge, in that I can play in an online shared world, but still get stuck into singleplayer events.
I digress a bit, as War in the Pacific is an update to Battlefield V that stirs memories long tucked away, and might be an update that brings some old faithful players back to the series. Why? The return of the classic Battlefield map – Wake Island. There is a great developer diary with DICE’s Lars Gustavsson talking about the re-imagining of this icon for the latest game. It’s a map which I just about managed to hack some bots onto back in the days of Battlefield 1942 and one which we shared many fond memories of in Battlefield 2.
The new version is as good as ever, and the joys of War in the Pacific is that aircraft carriers and landing craft make a big return. Naval warfare isn’t the same as it was in Battlefield 1942, there aren’t as subs or destroyers for you to get your hands on unfortunately. But it’s still a thrill to take to the skies from a carrier on Wake Island, or drive a tank off an LST to assault Iwo Jima.
Being taken away from the dirt and horrors of the Western Front that formed the backbone of the original compliment of Battlefield V maps and to the tropical horrors of the Pacific certainly adds a fresh aspect to the game. I’m still going to dip in and out of it as times goes by, and it truly is a brilliant shooter. Just squad up to make the most of it.
You might have figured out by now that I’m a huge rally fan. I’ve written about my journey to find a worthy rally game, I’ve been out in the forests of North Wales a couple of times to see the cars fly past, an experience which nearly undermined my initial enjoyment of GRID. It turned out that EGX this year came only a couple of weeks after the Welsh round of the World Rally Championship, and when I arrived at the ExCeL in London town, I was still in full rally fandom.
It all meant that while wandering the indie section, I was immediately seized by a need to check out art of rally. There was a lengthy queue at the stall, which I later found out from creator Dune Casu was likely thanks to his work on Absolute Drift which I remember hearing positive things about some time ago.
art of rally is described on the official site as a “stylized rally experience”, something which seemed quite apt once I got a chance between the crowds to play it. My first experience of this isometric racer was on a fast tarmac stage in Sardinia which ended up with my car against the trees more often than not. As Dune told me:
It’s not the easiest type of game, but for those who play racing and rally games they are pretty into it and seem to be getting along with it.
That’s very much true as my next attempt was on a lovely gravel stage in Finland, and with a car not quite over lethal as the Group B Audi Quattro alike that I drove on Sardinia. A more sedate 60s styled Lancia was my choice, and it proved to be much more welcoming. I still dumped the car off the track a couple of times, but was able to get around in one piece.
Dune explained that while career mode covers the “classical age of rally, so 60s through to 90s…the goal isn’t to win everything but to go through tracks and enjoy them.” I’m so happy to see indies getting into the rallying scene, and the concept of enjoying the action rather than feeling you have to win is music to my ears.
Those who are more competitive will be pleased to know that there will be daily and weekly challenges, compete with online leaderboards, but I’m going to be more than content to tootle casually around the various locales and soak up the atmosphere.
You can find out more on art of rally on the official site or follow Dune on Twitter. Did I mention that music is fantastic? No, well it is. art of rally will be out next year and can’t come soon enough.
Noita (the Finnish word for witch) is an early access rogue-lite with an emphasis on every pixel being simulated. That’s right, every single pixel in the game has physical properties and can be affected by the player in one way or another. Explosions gouge chunks out of caves and yourself, fire burns down anything organic including any wood you’re standing on and yourself, water fills up all the little crevices and drowns you if you’re not careful and many enemies have the same abilities. Indeed traversing your way through Noita can be as precarious and treacherous as fighting the enemies that dwell in it’s caves.
Combat and exploration come with a magical flavour, as you move around the underground landscape with what is essentially the power of a recharging jet pack. The game also adopts the no hands held approach which works well in generating a sense of exploration and a reasonable learning curve although I admit I did take a peek at the wiki a few times.
Weapons come in the form of wands and throwable flasks, each with their own properties and statistics. In the case of wands, the statistics of any given wand are permanent but they also come with spell slots and interchangeable spells attatched to them. Wands are plentiful at the start of Noita and this makes for some interesting experimentation as you try different combinations and find out a combat style that suits you. Flasks are equally as interesting and can teleport, polymorph, increase damage, burn, slow and many more things.
As you progress through Noita you find yourself passing through many different biomes, at the end of these biomes you are offered the chance to rest as you pass through a gateway chamber of sorts. You are able to replenish all spells, heal and are offered a choice of three upgrades of which you can only choose one. There are over fifty different types of upgrades currently in Noita and combining this with the different types of biomes and enemies gives the game a nice amount of replayability.
Noita may currently be in Early Access but even taking a quick look at the wiki shows the amount of content it has already is impressive. Developers Nolla Games reckon that Noita will be in development for a year before it’s full release. I’m looking forward to see how the game evolves during this time.
It was great fun. That’s it, no introduction needed. I’m going straight for the jugular on this one! Despite previously being somewhat of a skeptic on anything VR related, I also believe in a lot of cases it’s hard to have a stong opinion on something without first having an experience with that something. And so I had my first experience of virtual reality with my Oculus headset awkwardly strapped to my face and my touch controllers waving around clumsily as I entered the VR world of SUPERHOT.
I loved the original SUPERHOT on PC and soon became accustomed to the feel of my two motion controllers and headset within the game itself. I did almost lose my balance a couple of times early on but familiarized myself with the movements the game demanded of me with my previous experience with the PC version. With a game like SUPERHOT VR there certainly is a lot of movement involved. Every level is essentially a combination of dodging bullets, disarming enemies, shooting at unusual angles, picking up throwables from the ground, shelves and desks, punching enemies, dodging their attacks and so on. It definitely qualifies as light exercice and while I loved my time in the with the game, this is not the experience I look for in every day gaming.
The way I like to think of my enjoyment of this particular VR game is that it reminds me of going to the arcades as a kid. The enjoyment of having lots of small experiences that are super fun for short bursts before you move onto the next thing. And so I found myself after twenty or so minutes of SUPERHOT VR wanting to move onto something else. I ended up playing four or five different games in total but returned to SUPERHOT once more before I ended my session because I enjoyed it the most.
The immersion factor was much higher as is expected for the VR version of the game. It gave me a new appreciation of just how to take out each enemy and in what order, although aiming felt very different. Those moments you get in SUPERHOT PC where you pull of a really cool move felt even better in VR and things like flicking bullets out the air with your weapon, catching enemy knives and guns and swordplay were the highlight of my playtime. I would definitely be up for experiencing more SUPERHOT VR and VR in general in the future but I am yet to be convinced that this would ever replace my normal gaming set up.