Mechstermination Force wants you to fight off towering robots on your own. No Army, no Air Force, just you, your bandanna and a big gun. You’re seriously out gunned, out matched, and you know it. But is it fun to play?
Mechstermination Force (henceforth MF) is a side-scrolling boss shoot-em-up from Bertil Hörberg – the Swedish developer behind Gunman Clive. It consists of nothing but boss fights. Boss Fights against humongous killer robots with ridiculous weaponry.
The world is under attack from killer robots you see, and you’re tasked to stop them. That’s pretty much the entire plot and to be honest, it doesn’t need much else as you’ll soon be too busy dodging a ridiculous amount of firepower from skyscraper-tall killer robots.
The enemies are varied, with some unique and interesting attacks. These range from giant centepedal robots that wrap their body around you in an attack, to giant robots that try to punch you… and then turn into a giant crocodile when you deal them too much damage.
Each is an utterly ridiculous, yet wonderfully designed mini-puzzle for you to beat. You learn the attacks, their movements and how they react and, often with split-second timing, you dodge and attack yourself. There’s a huge amount of satisfaction to be had in peeling off an enemies armour piece by piece, often to find sections you climb into to deal more damage, to eventually get to a point where you can deliver the coup de grace and save the day. Well at least until the next robot attacks. And there are a LOT of robots.
It is worth commenting on the difficulty of the game. I’m usually a PC-orientated player so sometimes struggle with the analogue sticks, so found this game to be ridiculously hard. Part of that will be my unfamiliarity with the controller for sure, but a larger part will be just how genuinely difficult this game is. You are going to Die. A lot. Yet, at no point did I find this frustrating. The sheer spectacle and size difference between yourself and the giant robots just keeps you engaged, and there is a huge amount of satisfaction to be had from finally finishing off that boss who’s been beating you for days.
This is further helped by the fact you can purchase upgrades for your character (health, magnetic gloves etc) along with a selection of varied and deadly weapons. A particular favourite of mine being a beam weapon that bounces off surfaces. Very useful when inside a robot. All this is achieved through the base that you visit in between missions. It’s an interesting location, but I can’t help feeling they could have done more with it, and to be honest there’s little incentive to linger past repeating missions or upgrading your weaponry.
Often when I’ve finished reviewing a game I put it down and (often) never pick it up again. However with this one, despite it’s difficulty, I just keep coming back. It’s a difficult, utterly unforgiving, but fantastically rewarding game, and I just can’t stop playing it. I recommend you give it a try.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available/Reviewed – Switch
Review based on media copy. Read here for more on our scoring system.
The Council Episode One: The Mad Ones – The Verdict
The Council is an adventure game set in 1793. Playing as Louis De Richet the first episode titled The Mad Ones begins with an invitation to a mysterious island by the secretive Lord Mortimer. Unsure of the reason for your presence on the island or that of the other bold characters, many questions are raised in your mind. Having recently been informed about the disappearance of your mother you have reason to believe that she may be on the island but know little more than that. It is your intention to discover the motives behind your mothers disappearance and piece together the goals of the other guests who all seem to have their own strange stories.
Character development is a key part of The Council‘s unique approach to the adventure genre. Adding RPG elements to a point and click game is certainly a new direction and one that feels like it’s been implemented well for the most part. The first thing to notice is that you have to choose one of the three skill trees; Diplomat, Occultist or Detective and then further advance this tree with specific talents. I chose the Detective tree as this is a mystery game after all and I wanted to feel adept at spotting the smallest of clues. From this tree I can choose to further advance my Questioning, Psychology, Vigilance, Logic and Agility skills with each point added meaning using these skills during main gameplay costs less ‘effort’.
Effort is a points based resource that can gathered and used during main gameplay. You start with six points of effort and utilising skills from your chosen tree uses a couple of these points or less depending on your skill advancements. The good thing is that just because you chose a certain tree doesn’t mean you will always be locked out of skills from other trees, it just means they will cost a lot more effort. Running out of effort is not something you will want to do as it usually means things will not go your way. People will see through your motives, you will miss hidden clues and some conversation topics will be closed off to you.
In past adventure games when making key decisions you are sometimes tricked into feeling as if you have majorly affected a plot, dialogue or outcome in some way but with The Council this – at least initially – doesn’t seem to be the case. Depending on how you developed your character you are literally locked out of some options as your talents have not been improved. This might sound a bit unusual but it fits well and the RPG element helps you role play the story and become more involved in it.
During conversations you can use items to help sway the outcome in your favour, unfortunately the inventory and item usage is not the most intuitive. There are four items that help you with things like gaining effort points and discovering character weaknesses but learning what these do and which symbol corresponds to which during the heat of a conversation took me a while to get used to.
Occasionally during conversations you will have a confrontation with another character. During the confrontation the opposing character is basically sussing out your integrity and your aims. This is an interesting part of the game that unfortunately seems too rushed to enjoy properly. Between the amount of text on screen, the timed dialogue answering and balancing the use of items I find it hard to focus properly during these moments, meaning I occasionally miss out on lines of dialogue or text. As enjoyable as these sections are I feel they should be a lot more manageable and streamlined.
Voice acting in The Council can be a bit hit and miss. During the thick of things It’s often quite good, but there are the odd moments where things sound awkward or unusual especially with the protagonist and this can be off-putting. Unfortunately the exact same goes for the script writing. During most conversations and narration the script is good, but again there is always the odd line that stands out as slightly strange. The developers Big Bad Wolf hail from France and I wonder if somewhere along the line the translation has not been handled in the best way. It’s only minor however and for some people this might not even be an issue at all.
One area the developers have really nailed is the design of the game and the character design especially is great. Each character has a strong and memorable image that makes them stand out as individuals and is among the best design I have seen in recent games. The level design is also top notch. Never did I feel like anything was out of place or that repeated textures and items had been used in a way that seemed lazy. Every room and building had bold and unique design.
After this introductory first episode I’ve been left with an overall good impression of The Council. I’m very interested to see where it goes with the rest of the episodes, how the characters and story develop and how the choices you make in the game really affect it.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available – PC, Xbox One, PS4
Platform Reviewed – PC
Please see this post for more on our scoring policy. Steam review code supplied by PR.
I have fond memories of the Total War series, I spent many an hour playing the original Rome and the two Medieval titles. Empire was interesting, but I was never able to sink my teeth into it like I would have liked. The Shogun title meanwhile never really stuck with me, I just don’t have the interest in the history or the understanding of the culture to really invest. Rome II then is a welcome return to the time periods which initially got my attention. …
Deadpool is a game that does what it says on the tin. By ‘tin’ of course I mean case, and by ‘what it says’ I mean what Deadpool says… that’s right, he quotes himself on the case of his own game. It’s this self styled egotism that sets the standard for a large portion of the campaign.
As a character Deadpool is a bit like Marmite in the sense that you will either love his over the top, whimsical narration of his own game or you will detest his immature humour and big headedness. If you already know about Deadpool‘s outlook on the world you will largely know what to expect from this, otherwise you might not be able to overlook the childish and immature narrative and comedy that is peppered throughout the story. It never relents either, so if immaturity is something that grates on you quickly then you will find no comfort here, however if you fondly remember the times you used to laugh at inflatable women and jokes about celebrities then this will be right up your street.
The combat is surprisingly solid for a game that doesn’t take itself seriously and consists of a melee/shooting mix, using combos to build up DP points (Deadpool‘s self styled version of XP) and further bonuses. These points can then be spent on upgrading your characters health, abilities and weapons, which in turn allows you to build up bigger combos and earn more DP, I’m sure you see where this is going. The weapons on offer are not all that varied with three melee type weapons, four guns and four types of grenade. Whilst upgrading and changing weapons around can be fun it’s entirely feasible to stick with the starting weapons for the duration of the game unless played on the hardest difficulty.
There is also a small platforming element to Deadpool. When navigating certain chapters you are expected to make your way through areas that cover various altitudes, or jump across lakes and chasms littered with platforms. Not much emphasis is put on this though as these areas are generally cluttered with enemies and other objectives. Platforming is not your focal point when you also happen to be fighting off enemies, dodging helicopter fire and collecting power-ups and sometimes even all of them at the same time. This does however make for very enjoyable gameplay when set pieces like this are in full swing.
Graphically and musically this game falls under the fairly standard category. A meaty guitar riff dominates the start up screen but after that I don’t recall anything audibly memorable aside from Deadpool himself. Graphically there isn’t really anything that makes me stop in awe, whilst at the same time nothing fundamentally wrong with design or modelling. Enemy AI also falls into the neither here nor there section. Although there are occasionally some enemy types that are really tricky to deal with, most of the time it’s the sheer number you encounter that is the daunting part.
Clocking in at around 7-8 hours on veteran difficulty Deadpool is not the most extensive, but in my opinion this length is just right for the type of game it is. Any longer and the combat would begin to get tired and repetitive, the tomfoolery irritating and the story boring, and any extra playtime would be at the detriment of the gameplay itself. Gameplay can be extended by the challenge mode which uses eight areas from the campaign and pits you against increasingly harder waves of enemies, with an unlimited wave mode unlocked at the end of each stage.
Personally I think this is a great little game packed with silly and dirty jokes, a strong lead character and enjoyable gameplay. This won’t be the case across the board due to the humour style and possible repetitive gameplay. Factoring cost into the equation of value for money also lowers my final scoring for the game. At £30-ish Deadpool is not the most expensive release, but with only a 7-8 hour campaign that has little replay value and a challenge mode, there’s not a lot to sink your teeth into once that first playthrough ends.
For anyone who has yet to experience Deadpool and want’s to know more, just think of what the Mask films would be like if they were rated 18 and you will have a pretty good idea of what to expect here. Just don’t play it when your mum is around as things can often turn off the wall crazy or downright rude, in the funniest way possible.
Verdict – On Target
Platforms Available – PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Platform Reviewed – Xbox 360
Review based on a copy provided by High Moon Studios.
Please check this post for more on our scoring policy.
A dark night, a random phone call, and trousers that allow you to jump like a genetically enhanced grasshopper with its feet on fire – Gunpoint certainly starts with a bang. It follows up with a few more bangs and suddenly you are being hired for all sorts of stealth/jumping/trenchcoat tomfoolery, most of which involves falling out of windows and pestering guards with electrified light switches.
I just killed a man by throwing a broadsword at him. Before diving out of a window. Backwards. Followed by a hail of bullets fired from his teammates. I hit the ground back first, flip back onto my feet, and vanish in a shower of gibs and blood as a rocket hits me. This is The Showdown Effect, and despite sounding incredible – I’m actually quite annoyed at it.
An easy description would be to call on such venerable ancestors such as Super Smash Brothers and… basically every side-scrolling action game ever made. It sports a 3D-looking-but-actually-2D world of glass windows (to dive through), weapons (to pick up and swing/shoot), and improbably arranged platforms. A singularly multiplayer experience, you join a team of other like-minded souls and try to kill the other team as often as possible, while dodging or diving around to survive the inevitable retaliation.
There are few things I do well, and cry with dignity is certainly not one of them. The mess, the noise and the looks of sheer terror on the faces of the people around me as I dissolve into my own salty puddle is never good.
I played Richard & Alice over the weekend, and my house is now empty. *Sniff*
Someone once said that in space no one can hear you scream. It is possible however, to hear the shriek of your mum as she discovers just how much you’ve spent on microtransactions. At the very least your scrapbot will have its own personality now, which is more than most people can claim.
I feel strange for saying this about a game known for its survival horror background but Dead Space 3 is a lot of fun, especially during the intense and largely scripted moments that almost act as boss battles. But is fun really what I wanted and expected from the third installment in the series? Well no, not really. Dead Space 3‘s opening scenes cut a distinctly different atmosphere than that of its predecessors. Instead of dark, blood covered corridors and cramped conditions you traverse through the steam punk style streets of Earth, decapitating Unitologists and ducking for cover behind objects in the street. The last thing we need is another cover based, third person shooter and followers of the series might well be getting worried at this early stage in the game.
So has Dead Space 3 become an action game? Not entirely. Yes, there are action elements in the game that weren’t there previously. Things like the cover system, customisable weapons and wide open spaces for beasts of a gigantic nature all influence the direction this adventure in the series has taken. But at its heart Dead Space 3 is still the same survival horror game, just with a little polish added to keep things from getting stale and repetitive. The amount of production that has been poured into the fine details of the game has gone a long way to making sure that this is the case. The eerie lighting effects, deafening audio and brilliant voice acting all add to the sense of tension and dread that die-hard fans of the series will be craving.
Thankfully (for some) Isaac’s Earthly adventures are fairly short-lived, and It’s not long before he finds himself whisked away into a dark corner of the universe in search of marker technology. It’s at this stage that you progress into the familiar gameplay of creeping around corners and closely watching every vent you pass for explosive necromorph appearances. It’s also at this stage that I began to notice the effect the difficulty setting I chose was having on my experience.
Having not played a Dead Space game before, I opted to go with normal difficulty hoping that it would provide somewhat of a challenge but nothing too strenuous. While the enemies of normal difficulty still provide a challenge for a relative beginner, the fact that every single one drops a health pack, ammo or an item that can be sold takes away from the survival portion of the game. While getting used to the tactics of how to properly deal with each enemy can take a bit of time, being stocked up on twenty health packs means survival is not a problem in the slightest. This in turn seems to make the dark corridors a little less ominous and the waves of enemies a little less formidable. For anyone who has experience with shooters or past Dead Space games, I recommend a harder difficulty if you want to keep a true sense of fear and foreboding in your playthrough.
Aside from the obvious graphical update and the addition of more action styled elements in the gameplay, Dead Space 3 has undergone a number of major changes. Most notable are the changes to the weapons and inventory systems and enemy drops, which have become more complex than previously. Where before enemies used to drop credits with which you could buy upgrades and weapons, they now drop a variety of materials and everything you need can be crafted at a workbench. The sheer number of weapons craftable from these materials seems almost endless. From double grenade launchers, to plasma pistols with acid spewing attachments, to a shotgun and assault rifle combo. Providing you scavenge for the correct materials, the choice is yours to make and trying out different mixtures of weapons and picking your favourite is half the fun of the early stages of the game.
Another major addition in Dead Space 3 is the ability to play the campaign with a friend. Co-op may seem like another strange addition for a game meant to send a chill down your spine, but generally it has been handled quite well. If you want, you can drop in on your friends game, or vice versa and begin the exclusive co-op missions, taking the place of Carver as you discover more about his dark past. These missions along with the optional side missions in the single player, uncover some of the more interesting fragments of the back story, like how others in the areas you travel met their demise at the hands of necromorphs and worse.
They also uncover stashes of materials, upgrade circuits and weapon blueprints that will make a huge difference in the higher difficulties. The only disappointment is, that without a co-op partner you are unable to explore the story of John Carver and his character becomes very bit-part in the main plot alone. He shows face rarely and while his comments and actions feel like they should have meaning and understanding behind them, instead they often end up making little sense.
Finishing off any story arc, let alone that of a trilogy of games with a strong following, is a hard task. I think it’s fair to say that however you do it there will always be someone who is unhappy in certain respects and for me there was one main problem. The ending of Dead Space 3 seemed somewhat underwhelming, the big reveal in the story didn’t seem all that revelational and left me feeling a little flat. Gameplay wise it was great and ended up being a little Final Fantasy end boss, which actually worked really well but might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
In conclusion, while Dead Space 3 may have introduced some action gameplay mechanics such as the open areas of Tau Volantis, or the duck and cover system, at its core it’s still as scary and gruesome as it has always been. The controversial microtransactions and DLC are unneeded and not pushed in your face, and while the storyline is not best handled it is not by any means terrible and is still a good addition to the series.
Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available – PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Platform Reviewed – Xbox 360
Review based on a copy supplied by EA.
Please check this post for more on our scoring policy.
Medal Wars: Keisers Revenge is a new isometric action shooter from one man development team Retro Army, based in Scotland. Set in World War One it assumes the gameplay style of an action RPG not to dissimilar to that of Diablo. Of course in World War One they weren’t able to shoot lighting out their fingertips and instead you have an assortment of guns and explosives to help you complete your missions.
You take the place of a soldier serving in the Green Army as you come under attack from the enemy. Black Army has invaded your territory and it’s time to make a stand. You start off the campaign with a humble pistol and some very basic instructions given to you by busty Betsy your commanding officer, who soon becomes one of the more featured NPC’s in the early game. You’re mission should you choose to accept it, is to face the enemy as a daring lone soldier and take back the land that is rightfully yours. …
Nostalgia is a strange, bitter-sweet thing. Some say we look at the past through rose-tinted glasses, and when it comes to childhood memories involving computer games – the glasses aren’t so much rose-tinted as blacked-out. Our past-selves simply couldn’t comprehend the leaps and bounds of technology and graphical fidelity has made in the past decade or two.
And so, re-playing our cherished memories can be something of a painful experience. …