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Behold The Kickmen – The Switch Verdict

Behold The Kickmen – The Switch Verdict

I first reviewed Dan Marshall’s Behold the Kickmen in 2017 on the PC, and absolutely loved it. Kickmen has now landed on the Switch, and with that I am re-publishing my original review with a few tweaks to take light of the changes for the Switch port.

I’ve talked at length about Behold The Kickmen in the past, and it’s finally here, on the Switch as well as the PC! You can pick it up on the Switch for less than the price of a pint at a real life football match…not that we’re ever going to be going to one of them again. But who needs to go to the football when this truly majestic little game exists, one that perfectly simulates the game of football*

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The indie hits keep coming to the Switch

The indie hits keep coming to the Switch

Indie games are indeed everywhere, they’re no longer confined to the PC landscape with the three console manufacturers all expanding their investment in the indie gaming scene. So the news that two indie hits are coming to the Switch shouldn’t be surprising, but when it is Behold the Kickmen and Yes, Your Grace, I feel the need to let the world know that soon they will be landing on the Switch.

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Now is the time for a Switch exclusive Assassin’s Creed

Now is the time for a Switch exclusive Assassin’s Creed

The news of Assassin’s Creed Valhallah coming this year is wonderful, it’s just a shame that it isn’t making its way to the Switch. Ubisoft should do the right thing and grace the Switch with an exclusive.

It is unlikely to happen, Ubisoft are all in on the next generation with Valhallah, and I certainly wouldn’t be expecting a port of that to make its way to Nintendo’s machine, even if the long rumoured upgraded version was ever to see the light. But Ubisoft have an established relationship with Nintendo, just look at the success of Mario and Rabbids and the special version of Starlink. They have also shown a willingness to engage with the platform as shown by the recent Remastered releases of Assassin’s Creed 3 and the Assassin’s Creed Rebel Collection.

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Filament – The Verdict

Filament – The Verdict

Here I was alone on my spaceship. Minding my own business. Basking in the bliss of eternal solitude, when all of a sudden I noticed a distress signal coming from a nearby ship ‘The Alabaster’. I took one look down at my control panel and decided “not today my friend”. I turned off incoming transmissions and slowly continued on, not knowing where I was going or what I was doing. Free from responsibility and game mechanics…

…of course the game had other ideas.

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The Reticule Guide to Isolation Gaming

The Reticule Guide to Isolation Gaming

We all know that things out there in the real world are scary right now, and many of us are entering into social distancing and isolation. But, games are here to help you get through these tough times, and we here at The Reticule have no shame in offering some thoughts on the games to play in these troubled times.

Grand Strategy Fun

My first choice here would be Hearts of Day, but you can substitute it with any number of Paradox Interactive’s other grand strategy titles, they all offer similar thrills. Hell, if you are feeling bold you could start with Imperator: Rome, hit Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis (and maybe even Victoria) before finishing up with World War Two.

The hours you can while away with these are immense, but you don’t need to do it alone. They all offer some level of multiplayer action, and I had a very enjoyable campaign some years ago with friend of The Reticule and ex-Gaming Daily editor Craig Lager in Europa Universalis.

Find yourself a Discord server with some friends, and get stuck in. The intrigue of building alliances and waiting for a stab in the back will make or break your friendships…well, hopefully make them. The pace of the games also ensure that they are a good social space allowing for plenty of time for general chit chat amongst the empire building.

If the Paradox titles lack the fighting that you desire, the Total War games are quite an attractive alternative.

Football Manager

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I talked about the wonders of a long-term game in Football Manager 2020, but you can also take it online with some friends. Draft a squad of superstars and create a mini tournament to battle for managerial supremacy.

If you have family members indoors with you, then simply add another manager and take it in turns managing your team. Take charge of two teams in the National League and see who can take them all the way to the top. It’s a perfect game for multiple ways of play.

Twitch and eSports

I’m not one for Twitch, but Jon runs regular sessions on Escape from Tarkov while a friend who regularly plays retro classic Age of Empires 2 revealed that a recent tournament had 32,000 people watching. Twitch really is a great source of social community interaction, and with Half-Life Alyx coming out this week, many more will be signing in to experience Valve’s latest.

Even Formula 1, the most steeped in tradition of sports is going online with a virtual series to replace the real world action. Surely that will appeal to both gamers and F1 fans?

Battlefield 2

I’m going classic with this one, but you can replace this with the modern games or something like Call of Duty. But for me, BF2 is the one. While it requires some third party support these days, there are still plenty of servers active, and the squad play is like nothing else out there. Find five friends, grab a Discord server and take to the battle. Playing as a squad in this game is like nothing else out there, and it runs on old enough kit to pull your PC out of the loft and still get into the action.

The Sims

All by yourself and missing your friends, family and work colleagues? Build your own little community and embrace your nice…or not so nice side!

Switch Games

The Switch has a brilliant library of games, both first party and third party. If your TV is being taken over with some Netflix bingeing, then take your Switch out of its dock and dive into a deep RPG like Skyrim or The Witcher 3, or get the family involved in a Mario Party game.

The online setup on the Switch isn’t great, but great times can be had with a combination of face time and Mario Kart.

The New Releases

Doom and Animal Crossing have just come out. Rumour is they’re both a bit good.

Stay Safe!

All told, please…stay safe.

Doom 3, the Switch way.

Doom 3, the Switch way.

The days of 2004 are hazy in the memory, but a glance down a list of notable releases that year shows a glut of singleplayer first-person shooters. Far Cry, Halo 2, Half-Life 2 and perhaps the one with the least shine to it, Doom 3.

It was a busy time, and it’s no surprise that many people skipped over Doom 3 because of it’s move towards a slower paced, darker entry in the series. Or they ignored it because the great new hope, Half-Life 2 was only a couple of months from release.

I played Doom 3 at the time though. Having not played the original titles at that point of my life, I was keen for some Martian demon slaying. The setting intrigued me, and I bought into the lore. The PDAs scattered around the UAC complex revealed the corporate deceit that brought the darkness down upon the planet.

The darkness was oppressive, in the original version of Doom 3 you had to switch between using the flashlight to guide your way, or your weapons. It cranked up the tension, shooting blindly in the gloom hoping to kill all that stood in your way.

I loved it. The only problem? I was a damned wimp! The Imps scared me to death whenever they appeared, and the tension of switching between the flashlight and the action shredded my nerves. The only way that I was able to complete the game was with that wonderful thing known as God mode.

The way fear works in games is an odd thing. For me, Doom 3 was the big horror game of 2004, yet others who played it without any trouble were left shaken by Ravenholm in Half-Life 2. All I know is that God mode got me through it, and at that point I didn’t feel any regret about it.

Ok, it’s a bit dated compared to the new ones!

Return to present day, and Doom 3 is everywhere, and that includes the Switch. It’s not Doom 3 quite as I knew it, this time around it’s the BFG version which has supposed improved graphics (well, maybe not improved on the PC version), better audio….and a shoulder mounted flashlight.

Thanks to that flashlight and autosaves, it’s not quite as hardcore as the version which scared me fifteen years ago, but it’s still Doom 3 and I can play it on the Switch. Having cheated my way through originally, I’ve been working my way through the first couple of hours as god intended. No cheats here, just plain old Doom Guy blasting demon’s and exploring the endless corridors of Mars.

These days the game doesn’t scare me, at least not when playing it on a TV with just the Christmas tree for mood lighting. Playing it in undocked in bed with headphones and the lights out does make my blood turn cold with dread…but thanks to that shoulder mounted flashlight, I find myself able to keep playing.

Is the Doom 3 people will be getting to know these days the same one that I grew up on? No, for me not having to make a choice between seeing the horrors or blasting them takes away a good portion of the fear factor. But still, the heart of the game remains. Slay those demons, take down the UAC and save Mars.

 

Northgard – The Verdict

Northgard – The Verdict

The first time I played Northgard was on the PC in December 2018. For reasons still lost to me, I didn’t try to start off in the story mode, but instead jumped straight into a singleplayer game against three AI opponents without any idea of what was going on. I didn’t last long, but the aesthetic and setting of the game still appealed.

When I heard that Shiro Games were bringing their Norse strategy survival game to the Switch, I was extremely keen on taking another look. I didn’t make the same mistake as last year this time around; this time stepping into the story mode to try and get myself a foothold in the game.

Your clan at the start of the game. So happy and friendly.

Filled with Norse mythology, the story sets you in the shoes of Rig, Viking son of the High King who must search for a new home for his clan in the new continent of Northgard. The first couple of story missions are a gentle introduction to the mechanics of Northgard, that is until the third level where the brutality of this new land starts to be revealed.

Fortunately, the console version of Northgard is more welcoming than the classic PC version. As you start a new level, you don’t have to fear about being lost as to what to build to get your clan going. An array in the centre of your screen gives you a contextual view of the buildings that might be suitable for construction.

There dynamic control wheel opens up a wider range of options, open it when on a clear part of a zone and you see the full build menu, while opening it on a building gives you the requisite choices for upgrading a building or setting production targets. At the press of another button you can choose to see details of what your clan members are up to or refresh yourself with your victory conditions.

Working away hard at the forge.

It’s easy to control and got me involved quicker to a much greater extent than on the PC. There is still great depth to the seemingly easy job of looking after your friendly clan. As the year progresses towards winter, you want to ensure you have adequate supplies of food and wood to keep your horde happy and healthy.

Balancing your resources in the early game against the need to expand your reach around the map is a key challenge. With each zone on the map only supporting a limited number of buildings, you need to expand to build the houses you need to increase your population limit, but each additional zone you want to bring into your domain requires more food to acquire.

Even when you think you’ve got a grip of things, the world of Northgard itself throws challenges at you. You’ve got a good thing going with a farm and some sheep being tended to? Rats will appear requiring silos to keep your food safe and healers to prevent the spread of disease among the clan. A severe winter will eat into your resource supplies quicker than ever, while Draugr can rise from demonic portals and wreak havoc where you were previously safe.

You can’t afford to let your guard drop at any point in Northgard with the tables able to be turned on you at any moment. It’s almost crying out for an Easy mode so I can explore a map and work my way up the Lore tree and build more breweries to keep my people happy.

While it is disappointing that the latest free content updates that have appeared on the PC version haven’t yet made their way over to Switch, it’s clear that Shiro Games have already spent a lot of time and effort ensuring their console adaptation is as good as it should be, they’ve done a great job with this console version.

The Verdict – Headshot

Platforms Available – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed – Switch

For more on our scoring policy, please read this post. Review based on code supplied by PR.

 

Narcos: Rise of the Cartels – EGX Hands On

Narcos: Rise of the Cartels – EGX Hands On

I’m a big fan of the indie games that Curve Digital publish, and their area is normally one of my regular haunts at EGX. This year the layout of the Rezzed area was so expansive that Curve’s games were spread out, not in one nice grouping like I’ve come to expect. It all meant that I missed the opportunity to take a look at Autonauts and Table Manners, but I was able to get some time with Narcos: Rise of the Cartels. Yes, this is a fully licenced take on the hit Netflix show which charts the fight between the DEA and Pablo Escobar’s cartel. And you know what? It’s damn good.

The full game, due out later this year across PC and all the consoles, will see two distinct campaigns taking you through the eyes of the DEA and protagonist Steve Murphy, or as the Narcos working to expand El Patrón’s brutal empire. The demo at EGX was played through the eyes of the DEA, probably for the best with the number of kids wandering the halls, with the in-game action cleverly interspersed with clips from the first season of the show and mission briefings from Ambassador Noonan. While Narcos won’t have the base building elements of the recent XCOM titles, the glimpses of “office” work I saw were solid enough to provide you with a sense of meaning to your work, and steeped in clichés like a massive pin-board plotting links between cartel members.

Aside from that you also get to manage your roster of DEA agents, Colombian cops, special forces and other leaders. The leaders, characters from the show like Murphy and Javier Peña have special abilities, but crucially only one leader can be taken into a mission as part of your squad at any one time. Looking after your leaders looks set to be important. While they may have special abilities, I tended to keep Murphy safely tucked away during the demo to avoid losing everything by foolishly getting him shot up.

The action itself takes place in artful surroundings in Colombian towns, cities and the jungle. The basic premise is different enough from XCOM or the turn-based elements of Age of Wonder: Planetfall to provoke interest in fans of the genre, let alone fans of the show. Rather than having control over all your units during a turn, in Narcos only one unit can take any action, but that action can be extensive. For example, I was able to take my demolition expert from the ground up a drainpipe towards a spot where I could fire my grenade launcher to take down a cartel member. Even after taking my shot, I was left with choices of reloading my grenade launcher or hunkering down and healing.

The flipside is that by moving my demolition expert, I’d left a fresh-faced Colombian cop in the open and ready to come under fire. Fortunately, he’d built up his counteract points. Replacing the classic overwatch ability of XCOM, counteract points are earned through limiting the actions you perform with a squad member. Once the ability kicks in when a bad guy approaches, you are thrust into a third-person mode where you can control the aim and timing of the shot, all while the enemy is moving in slow-mo towards you. It’s an innovative feature, although one that I didn’t fully get to grips with during the demo. I kind of glossed over that part during the tutorial level, too busy planning how to get Murphy out of a spot of bother I’d left him in.

There’s more to Narcos than the licence, although it is that name recognition that drew me to the stand in the first place. It does mean that I will need to finish watching season one of the show, so as not to get spoilt by the game. It’s a great marketing tie-in really, and one must expect that another game, or perhaps some DLC, will be released further down the line to cover the events of season two.

I came away from the stand pleased that I’d found a Curve title, especially one as potentially addictive as this.

Doom Eternal – Hands On

Doom Eternal – Hands On

There haven’t been many AAA games at EGX this year that I came into the show keen to check out, but Doom Eternal was one of them, so when I got the chance to get stuck into a twenty-minute demo of action taken from the middle of the game, I was excited.

Before the shooting started, there was a demo specific tutorial to refresh everyone with the basics of this generation of Doom games. It was a welcome refresher, and something that more companies could take note of when showing off big singleplayer games at shows like EGX. When trying to get your game into the hands of a wider audience, you don’t want them feeling put off by not knowing how to make the most of the game. A round of applause to Bethesda and id Software for that. The tutorial made a point of ensuring you knew how to wall climb, jump between walls and traverse the environment. Eternal looks set to be a much more vertical game than 2016’s Doom.

Upon getting into the action, it’s clear from the off that the id Tech 7 engine that is powering Eternal has taken things to another level from the id Tech 6 generation of games. It helps that the demo is being run on a more than capable PC, but the sheer scalability of the id engines should mean that Panic Button make another stunning port of Eternal to the Switch when it lands there later next year.

The levels I played through saw the Doom Slayer working to get back to Mars, fighting through a UAC station orbiting Phobos, a base falling apart under the weight of the demonic onslaught. Being a demo from the mid-part of the full game, you are already loaded with a bevy of weapons along with their respective mods. An early highlight was picking up a Super Shotgun. A classic of the Doom arsenal, this new version comes equipped with the Meat Hook mod which allows you to slingshot yourself towards an enemy. Extremely useful for crossing the many broken parts of the station, and for maintaining the fast-paced action established with the previous game.

Tying in with elements like the Meat Hook are the returning glory kills rewarding you with health, and a mega glory kill which can wipe out a group of demons in a stunning burst of melee inflicted gore. The chainsaw, provided you have fuel, will drop ammo while a new flamethrower will light up enemies who will drop armour once you finish them off. The new ways of keeping the Slayer topped up with his essentials might take a few moments of getting used to, but soon enough I was deep in the rhythm and blasting demons back to hell.

If you find a demon too far away to get an easy melee kill on, a dash move will get you up close and personal to finish the job. Dashing is another crucial element to keeping the action flowing, but fear not as there is always time to explore. Bringing up the automap will highlight objectives and the all-important pickups and secrets that are dotted around the levels. Rushing through head long will get you from A to B, but exploration and finding secrets has always been a key element of the Doom series and I was pleased to find a secret along with a few 1-ups.

These are new for Eternal and are another mechanism designed to keep you fighting, rather than restarting checkpoints when you inevitably die. It’s a great addition that keeps you in the moment.

New for Eternal is an element of destructible parts to the demons. The Aracnotron makes a re-appearance from the Doom 2 days, and you’ll find that a few carefully aimed rockets with destroy the cannon located at the top of the brain. Other bigger demons feature the same destructible elements, some might think they’re gimmicky, but I felt they added another layer to the action.

My one pause for thought came with an extravagant platforming section that reminded me of the worst moments of Xen in Half-Life. Obviously, movement is a thousand times improved upon Valve’s classic, but the sequence of hopping and boosting between floating pillars was a bit tedious. Where these platforms made you think about the game vertically, rather than what’s directly in your line of sight was welcome, but maybe I’m just too clumsy around the keyboard to traverse these sections as seamlessly as would be hoped.

It wasn’t too much of a blemish on what was an otherwise brilliant demo. If 2016’s Doom wasn’t up your street, then I don’t think Eternal will be. If it was though, then Eternal looks to be more of that goodness, just dialled up to 13. I’m on board, and have no issue with the delay until 2020, for a singleplayer focused game, I’d rather id take the time for a bit more spit and polish to tidy it all up.

My slaying was more than enjoyable with the twenty minutes going too fast.