The first thing that stikes me about The Suicide of Rachel Foster is the atmosphere of the old hotel. The main character Nicole has arrived under legal obligation to check the condition of the building before selling it, but unfortunately for her a blizzard hits upon arrival and forces her to spend time in a place that holds bad childhood memories. Exploring the hotel Nicole recounts stories from her childhood while wishing she were anywhere else. Every creak of a rotting floorboard and rattle of a loose tile fills me with unease and a chill that seems unnatural even considering the piling snowbanks outside.
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. …
In my Life in Games feature, I talked about my experience of playing demo of the original Command and Conquer as a kid, but that it was Red Alert 2 where my true love affair with the series started, a love affair that led me to create my first site. But I still fondly remember those missions in the demo of the original and seeing them again in Command and Conquer Remastered Collection is a joy. …
As with most other sports, the World Rally Championship is on hold, but for the first time since the days of Colin McRae and Richard Burns, we have a championship contender in Elfyn Evans. Yet in these dark times when the forests are quiet, a Game of the Year edition of DiRT Rally 2.0 appears pulling together the content from the four seasons that Codemasters have released since the game first launched in February 2019. This bundle also brings with it the Colin McRae Flat Out pack, a content collection designed to honour McRae’s title winning season 25 years ago and completes Codemasters homage to Colin McRae Rally 2.0, a title which defined my racing days on the PlayStation. …
Metro Exodus is a conflicted game, one that feels unsure of what its true nature is. Is it an extension of the previous titles, or something all new that is striking out in a brave new direction? I’m not 100% sure either way, but is it a good game?
Exodus tells the story of Artyom and his wife Anya as they escape radiation riddled Moscow with Anya’s father, Miller and the Spartan Order. They are travelling across Russia to find Artyom’s dream of a lush green haven, free from radiation and the horrors of nuclear war. The Aurora is an ever-evolving beast of a train that takes you between the various hubs that you travel through.
Hubs though, you read that right. No longer is this a game spent hunkered down in the dark tunnels of the Moscow subway, now you are set free in vast areas of Russia to roam to your hearts content, clearing areas of bandits and completing key objectives key to getting the Aurora somewhere safe.
These open world sections are alien to what Metro has historically been about, and at times, they feel so wrong. Wandering a wide expanse with lengthy periods of time between enemy outposts isn’t entirely inspiring. It doesn’t help that some of the generic enemy outposts you come across feel like a cheap Far Cry rip-off, while the inclusions of boats and jeeps to assist your travels are let down by awful handling.
Two of the main hubs, The Volga and The Caspian have some strong narrative moments as you regroup with the crew at the Aurora between missions, but they don’t grab the attention like you would expect. Too often, your time is spent wandering between objective markers highlighted via a largely unreadable map. These levels are saved by some excellent set-piece sections that cap off one of your missions. These moments are more reminiscent of classic Metro, a well-structured linear journey to a climactic ending.
There are some key differences between Exodus and the first two games. Bartering ammunition for new guns or upgrades is long gone, now you are relying on scavenging ammo, guns and upgrades from corpses or your surroundings. Overall, this works without any problems, but the life or death decision making of previous games is missing, and the tension is reduced as a result.
An attempt at ratcheting up the tension comes from the inclusion of a wear and tear mechanic with your weapons. Your guns will slowly deteriorate over time, starting to jam and eventually stop working entirely. Their performance will get worse when you trudge through the mud and sand of the world you are exploring…but they can be easily cleaned with some chemicals, or even swapped out for a gun from a fallen foe. The attempt at adding some survival elements is decidedly poor, proving to be a short-lived nuisance than anything that adds any great worry to your experience.
Despite all of this, there are many moments in Exodus that stand out loud and proud. The Yamantau level which splits the Volga and Caspian is an excellent example of Exodus feeling like a proper Metro game. The horror elements come to the fore, and the atmosphere darkens. It’s here that you appreciate that the core elements of action and survival horror come together in a wonderfully harrowing experience.
As you progress through the game, you come across The Taiga, an expansive semi-open world area. Yes, you can look at your map here and explore where you might wish, but the path is largely defined for you. Here you can embrace your action oriented instincts or take a stealthier more considered approach. It might not be an area set underground, or even in darkness, but the narrative that drives you through this area help sustain the forward momentum.
If the earlier open-world areas feel like they are lacking in the Metro feelings, the final third more than makes up for them. Indeed, even if the gameplay can disappoint at times in the beginning, the moments on the Aurora more than make up for it.
The train is the beating heart of Exodus, the location for your family gatherings and those tender moments with Anya, and harsher moments with Miller. You can take a smoke and a drink with your comrades from the Order, listening to their tales from the tracks and personal histories. While some of the larger story beats are pre-determined, listening to your friends discuss the events that transpired in the previous hub add emotional weight to your journey across Russia.
It’s an inconsistent game, but one that delivers a great story. It’s a different Metro to the one you left behind in Moscow, and one that certainly takes some getting used to. As long as you are prepared for some wobbles on the way to high points, you’ll do just fine with Exodus.
The Verdict – On Target / Headshot
Platforms Available – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Platform Reviewed – PlayStation 4
Review based on retail purchased copy. Read this for more on our scoring policy.
This is the fourth time that I’ve reviewed Diablo 3. Way back when in 2012, I took a look at the base game, a couple of years later I focused on the Reaper of Souls update and finally, I reviewed the PlayStation 4 release. Now, I take on the Switch version with the Eternal Collection. …
I’d kept low-key tabs on The Crew 2 ahead of release, intrigued by the prospect of switching between cars, boats and planes. It looked fun, and having got my teeth nicely into the first game a few years ago, I was hoping for a similar enjoyable experience. Yes, while The Crew 2 is generally enjoyable, I’m not finding myself as engaged with it as I expected. …
Sometimes, I wonder how other people go about the practicalities of playing games; especially something like Smoke and Sacrifice, an open-world narrative-driven RPG with survival elements and an evolving eco-system. How do you go about keeping track of the way different items, creatures, and environments all work together? Do you keep a notepad by your side as you play to note these things down? Answers on a postcard please. …
Those cold-hearted bastards. They were 36 hours away from the Great Storm ending, and they cast me out. I’d led them for nearly forty days and nights, kept them warm, kept them fed, given them religion…and how do they repay me? By throwing me to the mercy of the unforgiving Storm. Bastards. …