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mecA sequel ive long wanted, I really enjoyed the original Mirrors Edge back in the day, it was different, flowed really well, looked great and played great, when the sequel was announced at E3 2013 I was excited but that withered a lot as we got closer to release and the somewhat tepid reviews confirmed my concerns.

The main issue I had with Mirrors Edge Catalyst was that it feels uninspired and a lot of design decisions that just do nothing for the game, at times it almost felt like they wanted me to dislike it.

Moving to an open-world design is fine in theory, there are plenty of games that pull it off well and others that have evolved to the new formula but I felt like it took away from the level design with it becoming repetitive and lacked the quality the original had, I still remember some sections even from years ago, some of the building sites in particular with some enjoyable bits, it was good design and a challenge to keep flowing through well but they pulled it off and it made for a great game.

Having more to do seemed like a good idea, side missions can add to a game when done right but lots of repetitive quests did little to feel compelling and when added together with the rest of the game not feeling particularly stand-out it ended up coming across as filler. (more…)

Microsoft Studios – Current Projects and Studios list (July 2016)

E3 2016 Edition

After E3 Microsoft confirmed all games going forwards are releasing on Xbox One and Windows 10 so I have taken off the platforms listed for those titles because its completely pointless really.

First-Party Studios:

  • 343 Industries
    • Halo 5: Guardians Updates – Xbox One
    • Forge: Halo 5 Guardians Edition – Windows 10
    • Halo Wars 2 – 21st February 2017
  • Microsoft Casual Games
    • Microsoft Ultimate Word Games for Windows 10
  • Mojang
    • Minecraft updates – PC/Mobile/Hololens/Oculus Rift [OR Spring 2016]
  • Rare
    • Sea of Thieves – 2017
  • The Coalition
    • Gears of War 4 – 11th October 2016
    • Gears of War Ultimate Edition Updates
  • Turn10
    • Forza Motorsport 6 DLC (Xbox One)
    • Forza Motorsport 6: Apex (Windows 10)
    • Forza Horizon 3 – 27th September 2016

Second-Party Studios (publishing relationships or contract work): (more…)

Third Party Conferences at E3, What Will We See?

There are 3 third-party conferences this year as well as the PC Gamer conference, EA and Bethesda on Sunday with PC Gamer and Ubisoft on Monday, these are 1 hour-long showcases (except PCG) of their upcoming games to show off their line-up for 2016, 2017 and even beyond. I didn’t write about the PC Gamer Show because I didn’t know what to write but presumably Half Life 3 will be there or something.

Electronic Arts:

ea-logo-grey-723x250EA have moved out of the convention centre and their regular Monday time-slot into a new event held over the weekend called EA Play with a conference, here is their announced upcoming line-up:

  • Madden 17 (August)
  • Fifa 17 (September)
  • NHL 17 (September)
  • Battlefield 1 (October)
  • Titanfall 2 (likely November)
  • Mass Effect Andromeda (Q1 2017)
  • NBA Live 17 (Early 2017)

Unquestionably we’ll see all the first 6 titles, it would be a big surprise if we didn’t, I’m not sure what they will do about NBA Live 17 or if anyone even wants to see it.

They also have a bunch of other projects that are sort of announced or known to be coming:

  • Criterion are making a Go-Pro style stunt racing game which was originally shown at E3 2013 in a dev diary
  • Visceral are making a Star Wars game and have a second team I think
  • DICE, apart from Battlefield 1 are making Battlefront 2 (unlikely to be there I’d say, will presumably launch in Holiday 2017), the Battlefront PSVR experience which could be shown at the Sony conference instead
  • Motive, the new studio from Jade Raymond are making a new Star Wars game as well as helping with Visceral’s and a new IP but I suspect it will be a long time before we see any of their work
  • Respawn are making Star Wars games as well as Titanfall 2 but the former is incredibly unlikely to be there
  • Bioware are making a new IP and more in the Dragon Age franchise, its more likely we’ll see the new IP than a 4th Dragon Age game at this point I think, also a new expansion for The Old Republic isn’t impossible alongside Mass Effect Andromeda
  • Popcap recently launched Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2, whether they have any projects in the pipeline for consoles or mobile is unclear
  • Ghost Games are making a new Need For Speed but as a 2017 launch I doubt we’ll see it this E3

(more…)

Sony E3 2016 Conference, What Do They Have?

 

Sony_E3

Sony’s E3 2016 conference represents a chance for them to continue to appeal to their 40m user base of core and casual gamers alike as well as to VR enthusiasts who want in on the new technology with the PSVR headset.

Probably the biggest question for Sony is, will we see the Neo? Or will they want until later? I’m thinking that if it launches this year they might just show it at E3, but given they have a trifecta of events between September and December (TGS, Paris Games Week, PSX) there is ample opportunity for them to wait until later, which they might do even if it is 2016.

Sony have a variety of internal studios some of which are due an unveiling of their next project, whilst some others have just shipped:

  • Sucker Punch Productions released Infamous Second Son in March 2014, with the standalone First Light expansion releasing in August 2014
  • Sony Bend haven’t launched a new game since 2011’s Uncharted Golden Abyss and 2012’s downloadable strategy card game Fight for Fortune, both on PSVita. Their game is rumoured to be called Dead Don’t Ride for PS4.
  • Sony Santa Monica had an ambitious new IP cancelled in 2014, they are now expected to be making God of War 4
  • Japan Studio recently made Knack for PS4 launch, assisted with some partner studio games including Bloodborne and The Last Guardian, Knack 2 has been rumoured
  • Pixel Opus who released Entwined at E3 2014 could be due to unveil their game soon
  • New studio in the UK called “North West Studio” who are working on PSVR, its unclear how far along they are with anything.

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Microsoft E3 2016 Conference, What Do They Have?

xboxe3-v2

Microsoft’s E3 2016 Conference will be an interesting show to watch not least because they’ve done an admirable job of keeping leaks at a minimum, even if some pipes have started to burst around their hardware plans in the last few days.

They’re also in an interesting spot particular because changes to their first-party structure – with Twisted Pixel leaving and Lionhead & Press Play being closed mean they have very few internal studios:

Halo5_KeyArt_Horiz_Final

  • 343 make Halo and Halo 5 just launched, they’re partnered with Creative Assembly on Halo Wars 2, presumably Halo 6 is due in holiday 2018
  • The Coalition are making Gears of War 4 for release this October
  • Turn10 just launched Forza Motorsport 6 and as well as releasing DLC for that are presumably partnering with Playground Games for Forza Horizon 3 this holiday with Forza Motorsport 7 due in 2017
  • Rare are making Sea of Thieves which is due for release in 2016
  • Mojang make Minecraft and that isn’t even exclusive to Xbox

Microsoft have a long list of partner studios (more here) but unless they have some internal studios that they havent announced and have kept incredibly well under wraps they’re going to need new partnerships or to keep going with current long-term partners, I think this is an interesting strategy although curiously its at odds with what a lot of publishers are doing – Ubisoft, Electronic Arts for example are primarily moving development internally, we’ll have to see who Microsoft have managed to get as partners. (more…)

Mini-Reviews: Fallout 4, Mad Max, Shadow Complex Remastered

Fallout 4

F042

The long-awaited follow-up to Bethesda’s 2008 Fallout 3 and Obsidian’s 2010 Fallout New Vegas, there was a lot of hype around Fallout 4 and I played Fallout 3 in September 2015 and quite liked it with a lot of interest in how the next instalment would improve the franchise, unfortunately I wasn’t really all that convinced that it did.

Looking at two things specifically, first the story has an interesting premise, your spouse is killed as you go into the vault and your child is kidnapped as you are frozen in time for a large amount of years, when you finally awaken you want revenge and answers for what has happened. I liked the story, there is a great sort-of twist later in the game which changes a lot of what you do, the different factions with their own ideologies works quite well too, in the end I made the decision of what I thought a parent would do who loved their child (without giving away any spoilers that should tell you what decisions I made).

Secondly, the world itself is massive and completely boring and tedious to play around in. Having played The Witcher 3 last year, that game has a phenomenal story, great gameplay and fully realised world with plenty of interesting and compelling side content, its fun to fight various creatures of all shapes and sizes but Fallout 4 has none of that. The world is so big and so bland, there is a ton of tedious micromanagement for when you have filled up your back-pack with constant back-tracking to sell or store things unless you leave them behind – which is something I’d recommend too much because you need money for stuff. (more…)

May 2016 Edition

Next list will be post-E3 2016 in mid-June.

First-Party Studios:

  • 343 Industries
    • Halo 5: Guardians Updates – Xbox One
    • Halo Wars 2 – Xbox One/Windows 10 [Fall 2016]
  • Decisive Games
  • Microsoft Casual Games
    • Microsoft Ultimate Word Games for Windows 10
  • Mojang
    • Minecraft updates – PC/Mobile/Hololens/Oculus Rift [OR Spring 2016]
    • Cobalt – Xbox One/Xbox 360/PC [February 2016]
  • Rare
    • Sea of Thieves – Xbox One/Windows 10 [2016]
  • The Coalition
    • Gears of War 4 – Xbox One [11th October 2016]
    • Gears of War Ultimate Edition Updates – Xbox One/Windows 10
  • Turn10
    • Forza Motorsport 6 DLC (Xbox One)
    • Forza Motorsport 6: Apex (Windows 10)

Second-Party Studios (publishing relationships or contract work): (more…)

Gears of War 4 Ultimate Edition leaked, inc Seasons Pass & Early Access

Eagle eye’d NeoGaf member bidguy found the following on Xbox.com

Gears of War 4 releases October 11th, whilst there has been some new multiplayer details at PAX this weekend some things are still under wraps, Xbox.com (via New Zealand region) has given us some details on the Ultimate Edition of Gears of War 4.

Costing $150 (New Zealand dollars) it includes Gears of War 4, the Seasons Pass and Vintage Del Multiplayer Character, as well as 4 days early access to the game which means that rather than waiting until October 11th, you can play it on October 7th. The game also requires 70-80gb of storage space.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 23.38.42 (more…)

Microsoft Studios – Current Projects and Studios list (April 2016)

April 2016 Edition

First-Party Studios:

  • 343 Industries
    • Halo 5: Guardians Updates – Xbox One
    • Halo Wars 2 – Xbox One/Windows 10 [Fall 2016]
  • Decisive Games
  • Lionhead Studios [Potentially shutting down]
  • Microsoft Casual Games
    • Microsoft Ultimate Word Games for Windows 10
  • Mojang
    • Minecraft updates – PC/Mobile/Hololens/Oculus Rift [OR Spring 2016]
    • Cobalt – Xbox One/Xbox 360/PC [February 2016]
  • Rare
    • Sea of Thieves – Xbox One/Windows 10 [2016]
  • The Coalition
    • Gears of War 4 – Xbox One [Fall 2016, Beta Spring 2016]
    • Gears of War Ultimate Edition Updates – Xbox One/Windows 10
  • Turn10
    • Forza Motorsport 6 DLC (Xbox One)
    • Forza Motorsport 6: Apex (Windows 10)

Second-Party Studios (publishing relationships or contract work): (more…)

Most Wanted Backwards Compatible Games on Xbox One

Microsoft’s Backwards Compatibility program on Xbox One has already had some great games released on it with more coming each week, in my experience the games generally run well although some aren’t without fault.

The list in no particular order of games I’d like to see enter the program:

Vanquish (Platinum Games/SEGA)

vanquish-box-artShinji Miami’s third-person shooter made with Platinum Games has always intrigued me and has many fans, being a faster pace game than some of the other similar-ish shooters on the market sets its apart quite well.

It’s a game on my backlog and one that hopefully will get the BC treatment from SEGA, Platinum have created some great games of a nice variety and more people getting to try them is no bad thing.

Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway (Gearbox/Ubisoft)

game-banner-pictureIm not really clamouring for more World War II games but I was talking to someone about Hell’s Highway the other day and they made it seem pretty good. Truth be told ive never really played a Gearbox in any real capacity, I have tried the beginning of the first Borderlands a few times and Duke Nukem Forever but that’s about it.

Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar Games)

Red_Dead_Redemption_PicI own it digitally but have never actually gone through and played it. When the game leaked on Backwards Compatibility I played the beginning and it seemed to run well, if I’m honest I feel like Rockstar’s games (GTA in particular) feel awful to play with wooden character movements but this is regarded as such as a classic – and the game that killed my beloved Alan Wake at retail, that I really want to finally give it a chance to see if I like it. The western setting is a cool one as well, I enjoyed Gun by Neversoft but this is held in a much higher regard

Bully (Rockstar Games)

BullyAnother Rockstar Game this was ported to Xbox 360 early on in the generation and one I recently purchased on the Xbox Store. Released to some controversy on the PS2 (and renamed in Europe) it seems like a fun game and one that isn’t exactly a typical setting playing as a student in a school, it doesn’t really fit Rockstar’s current style either so that might be of benefit to it too.

Crysis 2 (Crytek/Electronic Arts)

crysis-2-News-Image-656x369No console is worth its sales tag until it can play Crysis, in this case I enjoyed the original on Xbox 360’s Games on Demand and havent got around to sinking my teeth into the sequel. Whilst fans of the franchise didn’t really seem to like the direction it went in after Crysis and Crysis Warhead, Crysis 2 seems like a decent middle point between the original and 3.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon/Far Cry Classic (Ubisoft)

FC3BDFar Cry Classic (another Crytek game) was one I enjoyed at a very low resolution and frame-rate on PC when it originally released, I enjoyed the way the trident were introduced and the more sci-fi elements of the game, unfortunately the last level was too tough for me a decade ago and I never finished it.

Blood Dragon was a pretty cool downloadable game which was built on retro over the top foundations and seemed like a fun side project after Far Cry 3. I’d be interested in playing both Ubisoft

Hitman HD Trilogy (IO Interactive/Square Enix)

Hitman-HD-TrilogyI mention the Trilogy because that is technically the game, the HD remaster of Silent Assassin and Contracts along with a bundled copy of Hitman Blood Money released in early 2013, unfortunately the very original “Agent 47” wasnt included but ive not played that or Hitman Contracts so hopefully IO will give me the chance to play Contract on Xbox One whilst I wait for them to finish the new “Hitman”.

Resident Evil 4 (Capcom)

steamworkshop_webupload_previewfile_246714099_previewThis one is probably unlikely now it is coming natively to Xbox One and PS4 (along with Resident Evil 5 and 6) but I bought it quite recently in hope that it would be made Backwards Compatible at some point.

The game is considered a classic, my record for Resident Evil games is quite spotty, ive played Resident Evil Remastered, Revelations 2 and Resident Evil 5, I intend to play Zero and 4 at some point, hopefully the remaster/remake of Resident Evil 2 is good and they follow that up with RE3, then im getting close to a set! Great games though and a franchise I should have played more of.

Exit (Taito/Square Enix)

Exit-video-gameA fairly niche puzzle game by Taito originally for the PSP the original and its sequel were released on XBLA, it’s a very fun game with some tough puzzles but it was still very enjoyable. On Xbox it did feel a bit clunky but not enough to dampen the experience, I don’t think the Xbox version’s sold all that well though and they also had some content held back as DLC which I think annoyed some consumers too.

I’d welcome the chance to play the game again with the better d-pad on the Elite controller for sure.

Mark of the Ninja (Klei/Microsoft Studios)

NinjaKlei have made some great games including Don’t Starve and Invisible Inc, in 2012 they released Mark of the Ninja on XBLA (and Steam) which has a 91 metacritic and almost 1.5m owners on Steam. It’s a 2D side-scrolling stealth game with lots of options as you act like a ninja. The art style is a stylish as you’d expect from Klei, it seemed really good from what I have played and im hoping it ends up on Xbox One so I can finally go through it properly.

Project Gotham Racing 4 (Bizarre Creations/Microsoft Studios)

PGR4Bizarre’s PGR swan song before their ill-fated Activision buyout was a great game that still looks good and is very fun to play. With Microsoft focusing on the Forza franchise I think I’m ready to get back into a racer that feels and plays quite different, as much as I enjoy the Forza games I have fatigued a bit on them and having PGR4 more easily accessible would be great to play because its nice and different and we aren’t going to get another one any time soon either.

Blue Dragon (Mistwalker/Artoon/Microsoft Studios)

BDBlue Dragon isn’t really what I would consider the typical sort of game I would play, I got it free when I bought my Xbox 360 Elite console in September 2007 (I tried to swap it for a copy of Stranglehold but the store said no), when I finally got round to playing it I found a really great JRPG with a lovely art style, fun gameplay and good story. I played it for 35 hours getting to the third disc (if I remember correctly) before I played other things. It’s a well likely JRPG and it would be good to give more people a chance to play it.

Lost Odyssey (Mistwalker/FeelPlus/Microsoft Studios)

Lost-OdysseyThe last game in the deal between Mistwalker and Microsoft for JRPGs was the Unreal Engine 3 game Lost Odyssey, it’s on 4 discs to get all the content and is very well-regarded by those who played it. Unfortunately (as with Blue Dragon) multi-disc games of a certain nature aren’t yet supported by the backwards compatibility or Xbox 360 store, hopefully when Microsoft figure that out, we will get these two games on there.

Microsoft Studios – Current Projects and Studios list (March 2016)

March 2016 Edition

New layout with games current release dates/periods alongside them, a couple of days later than normal due to the showcase event held last week which lifted its embargo on Tuesday and had a few new things (on top of Hololens stuff) to show off.

First-Party Studios:

  • 343 Industries
    • Halo 5: Guardians DLC – Xbox One
    • Halo Wars 2 – Xbox One/Windows 10 [Fall 2016]
  • Decisive Games
  • Lionhead Studios
    • Fable Legends – Xbox One/Windows 10 [Spring 2016]
  • Microsoft Casual Games
    • Microsoft Ultimate Word Games for Windows 10
  • Mojang
    • Minecraft updates – PC/Mobile/Hololens/Oculus Rift [OR Spring 2016]
    • Cobalt – Xbox One/Xbox 360/PC [February 2016]
  • Press Play
    • Project Knoxville
  • Rare
    • Sea of Thieves – Xbox One/Windows 10 [2016]
  • Team Dakota
    • Project Spark (Xbox One/PC)
  • The Coalition
    • Gears of War 4 – Xbox One [Holiday 2016, Beta Spring 2016]
    • Gears of War Ultimate Edition – Xbox One/Windows 10
  • Turn10
    • Forza Motorsport 6 DLC (Xbox One)
    • Forza Motorsport 6: Apex (Windows 10)

Second-Party Studios (publishing relationships or contract work): (more…)

February 2016 Edition

I missed the January 2016 one but the list is back, not a huge amount of updates so far but a few things from January to change.

First-Party Studios:

  • 343 Industries – Halo 5: Guardians DLC (Xbox One) / Halo Wars 2 (Xbox One/Windows 10)
  • Decisive Games – Unannounced strategy game
  • Lionhead Studios – Fable Legends (Xbox One/Windows 10)
  • Microsoft Casual Games – Microsoft Ultimate Word Games for Windows 10
  • Mojang – Minecraft (PC/Mobile/Hololens) / Cobalt (Xbox One/Xbox 360/PC)
  • Press Play – Project Knoxville
  • Rare –  Sea of Thieves (Xbox One/Windows 10)
  • Team Dakota – Project Spark (Xbox One/PC)
  • The Coalition – Gears of War 4 (Xbox One) / Gears of War Ultimate Edition (Xbox One/Windows 10)
  • Turn10 – Forza Motorsport 6 DLC (Xbox One)

Second-Party Studios (publishing relationships or contract work): (more…)

My Great Capture Screenshot 2016-01-20 19-22-14

AIPD is a top-down twin-stick shooter with tron inspired neon visuals as you aim kill the artificial intelligence enemies and get high scores across different modes and difficulties.

There are 5 modes to choose from: standard mode which increases in difficulty with every round, “tough transporters” where super weapon transporters are fully upgraded, “hostile space” where environmental dangers are all present, “high-tech armada” which has enemies start with all abilities and finally a “design”  mode where you can customise your rule set and gain a higher starting multiplier bonus.

The player can choose from 6 different weapons (gatling, shotgun etc) so they can pick the weapon that suits their play style and can also give you a boost in co-op as you can have a good variety of weapons across your friends and there are also 6 modifications to choose from which have different benefits (and limitations) around various aspects of your ship like the shields and weapon cooling.

RulezPlay Screenshot 2016-01-29 17-55-16 (more…)

Microsoft/Xbox at GDC (March 2016)

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 00.18.58

In March the yearly Game Developers Conference will come around again in San Francisco, the event attracts over 26,000 attendees where professionals of all job descriptions come and attend or present over 400 lectures, panels, tutorials and round-table discussions on a variety of game development topics (more here).

I want to take a look here at some of the sessions Microsoft and Xbox will be participating in or running themselves, in previous years Gears of War 2 was announced back at GDC 2008 and last year Phil Spencer announced their partnership with Motiga on Gigantic, it is not a big show for new game announcements and the like but it is an event that could have some interesting news for gamers at home about various things on the horizon.

This event is not to be confused with the Media Event for Xbox and Windows 10 on February 25th which is a completely different type of event (previews for press to play their Spring 2016 line-up)

Here are the most notable talks I found:

  • Speaker:  Max McMullen (Microsoft)
  • Format: Sponsored Session
  • Track: Programming
“DirectX12 can unlock incredible performance in your games and help you build your content pipelines for the future of gaming (including 4K), which we will demonstrate using real-world examples. We will cover the key concepts to get your existing DirectX Game ported to DirectX 12 and looking great and up and running as quickly as possible.”

(more…)