Monday, 5 January 2015

My 10 Best Indie Games of the Year (Number 1 will shock you!)

It’s the end of the Year (ok it was the end of the year just under a week ago) and so it’s time for all sorts of people to share their favourite games with the world. I'm going to do things a little different and just cover my top 10 Indie games of this year so lets get started:

A fantastic game for up to 4 players, what essentially amounts to a racing platforming game can cause so much hilarity and shouting amongst friends.

Probably some of the most downright fun that I've ever had with a group of people. No other game manages to get one on one sword fighting so well. it’s also super easy to pick up and play, with its two buttons one stick controls. A room full of all sorts of people can just sit down, watch, play and yell “NIIIIIDDDDHOOOOOOGGGG!”

8)The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
An intriguing story and murder mystery, with its Sherlock style visuals. Not only that, the game looks so beautiful, there were moments when I just wanted to stop playing and just explore the forest and admire, and that’s when I realised that this was the true nature of the game: Exploring the pretty forest.

Taking the idea of the vanishing of ethan carter even further, Proteus does not even try to hide it’s meaning behind some so called “Story”. it allowed you to just explore an island that looks so beautiful. It is through this that I learned so much about colour and nature and beauty but most of all, I learned about myself.

5)Ham and Eggs
You may not have heard of this one, Ham and eggs is probably one of the truest indie experiences I've ever had. Choosing to ignore common tropes in games such as controllers or a mouse and keyboard, Ham and Eggs is a game that can only be experienced in its purest form and can never be shared. You won’t ever know what it is until life gives you the opportunity to play it but it will change you forever. [Image has been censored to avoid all spoilers]

4)My Wood Burning Stove
My wood burning stove is a game that I have felt to be one of the most rewarding experiences this winter. Learning how to take care and maintain the fire, while observing all the pretty flames and stuff is a sight to behold. Not to mention the heat it gives off really helps save on my gas bill.

3)A burnt Piece of toast
When you burn toast, you have to ask yourself the deep questions in life. What happened? How did I leave it in for so long? What of my life's decisions lead to this series of events? Can I save it by just putting some beans on it and hoping for the best? [SPOILER ALERT] and it is not until you add the beans yourself do you discover that the answer to all of these questions is “YES”

Nothing is almost the indiest experience of all. there is no controller, no keyboard, no screen, no console or PC, there aren't even any players, just yourself. The 50 strong team of developers for nothing have worked hard to bring you your own unique experience. All you have to do is sit in a chair, close your eyes and create your own unique story. This is truly a revolutionary product and, for a measly $100 donation to their kickstarter, the story of your mind can be yours!

1)Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
The ultimate indie experience. No other game encompasses so much of what makes games indie: than huge budgets, explosions, map packs, multiplayer and of course Kevin Spacey. I mean, did you see him in house of cards? I didn’t because it looks too boring for me, but he looks totes evil and all actory in the trailers for that, he must've been AMAZING in the new COD.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Rezzed: The Greatest Show In Brighton

Rezzed, an event held at the Brighton Center yesterday and today, is now over. This was an event that instead of aiming to be a massive show of all the latest hit games coming out this year, went only for PC and independent games.

The show itself was very small, held in a room that was probably a less than a 5th the size of one of the E3 halls. However, that's not to say it was not worth going at all. This small space gave me plenty of chance to check out everything that was available and there was still quite a lot to see.

The two big games at the show were Aliens: Colonial Marines and Borderlands 2, both looking absolutely fantastic but were not my main focus of the show (though I did go back and play aliens a good few times!). The show was largely independent games including Prison Architect, the new game from Darwinia developers Introversion where you have to build and maintain a prison. This was certainly a bit of a left field choice from them but the brief demo got me really excited for the full game. It was really reminicient of past games from Bullfrog such as Theme Park, Theme Hospital or Dungeon Keeper.

There was also a full timetable of talks and sessions with developers as well as some others. Including Peter Molyneux and the guys at Introversion. These were a really good insight into the efforts that go into such games. The Introversion talk was especially entertaining, finding out about the history of a company that is constantly worrying about money.

I think this show was probably one of the best convention style things I've ever been to. A small show dedicated to PC and Indie games, something like that just hasn't been pulled off before and they did it really well. Giving these small developers a voice with which they could show off their latest titles without having to compete with the massive loud noises of something like PAX or E3. I almost worry that a show like this won't happen again. If it gets much bigger next year then it will be just like any other massive convention and the unique voice will be lost. I think there are certainly some improvements that could have been made to the show, but overall I thought it was fantastic and I wouldn't want too much to change if there is a show next year.

There were plenty more games at Rezzed and I'll be writing about those Tomorrow but, for now, I just feel I have to say that this show was great and I want to see more like this. I really hope that they manage to put together another show in 2013.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Valve Releases Meet the Pyro

After what a literally been many years of waiting, Valve has finished off the last of their trailers for Team Fortress 2 with the release of meet the Pyro. The video itself is hilarious and definitely worth a watch but the big thing that comes with this release is the surprise announcement of the Source Film Maker.

The Source Film Maker is the exact same tools that have been used to make all of the "Meet the..." videos for Team Fortress 2 along with all the intro cutscenes in recent Valve games such as Left 4 Dead. Valve released a short demonstration video showing off how easy to use and how powerful these tools are.

The beta for these tools was announced though it's invite only at the moment, you can sign up and hope to get an invite at where they've also more info. No date was announced for when the Source Film Maker would be available to all but one can imagine it'll be a few months after beta starts.

Having seen the demo video, these tools look amazing. Giving someone the ability to record gameplay, add models and mess with animation and lighting all on the fly. I can't wait to see the sort of things that can come out of this. If this could be combined with Garry's Mod, this would leaves every asset that Valve has created at the fingertips of the community to make movies out of easily. I'm really excited for what we might see out of this.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Sony Launches Sale and Wipeout 2048 Content Tomorrow

It looks like Sony has suddenly remembered that it has a handheld out there on the market, as they are heavily discounting loads of Vita games on the Playstation Store. To add to this, Wipeout 2048 is going to be having a gigantic patch added to it.

The Playstation Store discounts are looking pretty hefty with some big games like Unit 13 down to only £20. Here is a full list (info sourced from Eurogamer):
  • Army Corps from Hell - was €39.99/£34.99 - Now €26.99/£21.99
  • Blazblue Continuum Shift Extend - Was €39.99/£34.99 - Now €26.99/£21.99
  • Little Deviants - Was €14.99/£11.99 - Now €10.99/£8.99
  • Modnation Racers: Road Trip - Was €14.99/£11.99 - Now €10.99/£8.99
  • Rayman Origins - Was €34.99/£29.99 - Now €24.99/£19.99
  • Reality Fighters - Was €14.99/£11.99 - Now €10.99/£8.99
  • Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen - Was €39.99/£34.99 - Now €19.99/£16.99
  • Touch My Katamari - Was €29.99/£24.99 - Now €14.99/£11.99
  • Unit 13 - Was €34.99/£29.99 - Now €24.99/£19.99
  • Escape Plan - Was €12.99/£9.99 - Now €8.99/£7.29
  • Hustle Kings - Was €7.99/£6.49 - Now €5.99/£4.79
  • Motorstorm RC - Was €5.99/£4.79 - Now €4.99/£3.99
  • Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack! - Was €6.99/£5.49 - Now €4.99/£3.99
  • Top Darts - Was €7.99/£6.49 - Now €5.99/£4.79
  • Super Stardust Delta + Advanced Star Fighter Pack - Was €9.99/£7.99 - Now €6.99/£5.49
So some really good deals, bringing some of the launch titles like Modnation Racers down to less than £10 really has me interested. This looks something akin to a Steam sale!

Wipeout's new patch will basically be two content packs: Wipeout HD and Wipeout HD Fury. These will feature all the tracks from their respective games so 12 from Wipeout HD and 12 from Fury, as well as ships from each game 12 from HD and 24 from Fury. Each pack is available separably for £6.49 each or you can purchase a double pack for £9.99, that's 24 new tracks and 36 new ships for a tenner, sounds like an amazing deal if you ask me. Not only that, but those who already own Wipeout HD and Fury will get all of it for free and, if you don't own them already, they will be available for you to download onto PS3 if you buy them for Vita.

These bits of news are pretty fantastic, some great deals and a huge amount of content available for barely anything. This probably would have been good for Sony to announce last week at E3 but I can't honestly argue with a good deal. It might be that Sony is now trying hard to keep consumers after the not so spectacular sales of the Vita. However, that's just pure speculation. The end result is cheap games, which is always worth checking out.

Friday, 8 June 2012

E3 Round up Day 3

E3 is now over, and as the exhibitors pack up and go home there is still time to write up what I saw on that last day. Day 3 was a day of waiting, I'd seen pretty much everything thst i wanted to see and all that was left were games thst had huge long lines. So wait i did.

To start off the day, I headed straight for the Konami booth and got my hands on Metal Gear Rising Revengence. Many will know that this is being developed my action game extrordinaires Platinum Games, creators of Bayonetta and other classic titles. So it wont be hard to believe me wheb I say that game was great fun to play. Playing much like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry with added slowmotion slicing that you can freely direct by holding the R1 button and flicking the right analogue stick.

After that one hour wait, I went to play a game that had no line at all: Sega All-stars Racing Transformed. I'll admit that I was more attracted to this game because the demo stations had chairs and my feet were killing me after the line for Metal Gear, but the game was surprisingly fun. It started out pretty normal much like any kart racing game but after my first lap, the road gave way and I was suddenly racing in a river. By the third lap, my kart had transformed into a plane and i was flaying through a canyon in this race. Was a nice surprise and was far better than I expected, however it just wasn't all that fun to play so I won't be looking out for it.

Playing one mediocre game was followed by another, Scribblenauts: Unlimited fir WiiU. It was easy to see the potential but I guess it was ruined by my lack of creativity. I found myself unsure as to my objectives and what i could do and I was constantly moving my head up and down between the TV and the WiiU screen which gave me a good amount of neck ache. To add to my frustrations, the new object creator was far too complicated for me to understand. There were seemingly hundreds of options available, none of which I understood the meaning of. Regardless of these misgivings, I'm going to reserve judgement since the Scribblenauts series has always been great and I think a loud show floor is a bad place to demo what is primarily a puzzle game.

Next it was off to the Nintendo booth to get my hands on ZombiU, the new zombie shooter for the WiiU from Ubisoft. I was initially sceptical of this game as Ubisoft is known more for quantity of games rather than quality when it comes to Nintendo, but I'm glad to say I think my skepticism was misplaced. The demo I was playing was a 2 player vs mode where the objective was to capture all the control points, much like any first person shooter these days. The twist is that the person with the WiiU controller controlls the placement of zombies while the other player is a survivor. This essentially means that you've got a real time strategy game, going against an FPS and it works really well. I had a lot of fun playing and it made for some gr  3eat moments during the demo, I'm now keeping a keen interest in this game.

Still at the Nintendo booth, it was time for me to have a go with Pikmin 3. This was a timed demo but it allowed me to get down all of the basics and surprise surprise, it playes just like Pikmin 1 and 2, you gather pikmin up and direct them to do your bidding. The new rock pikmin didn't seem to add much but this is coming from someone who has only played a little kf the first one. It certainly seemed a lot of fun but doesn't seem far different from my memories of 1.

Now it was time to play DMC, the new reboot of Devil May Cry. This game has had fans up in arms ever since it's first announcement, with the complete changing of the character and combat systems, not to mention the move to developer Ninja Theory, creators of Heavenly Sword and Enslaved, these fans should not worry though as the game is a ton of fun. The combat is now completely different, targeting is automatic and you now what can be called heavenly and devil modifiers. You have standard attacks on the square, circle and triangle buttons but holding L2 or R2 modifies these attacks. Devil attacks are slower but much more powerful and heavenly attacks are much quicker. This can make for some great combos if you mix all three of these up. Also, this game is beautiful, every environment is so colourful and can shift and change instantly making it both unpredictable and fun to play.

Then it was back to the Nintendo booth to get some time with the newly announced Project P-100, a new game from the team at Platinum Games behind Viewtiful Joe and it shows. The art style of the game is very comic book orientated and wild. Gameplay has the player control a group of heroes, these heroes can then be moved into different shapes to activate powers. For example, a line will form a sword, a circle will form a fist. The demo was only 10 minutes long but it was enough for me to have a lot lf fun with. If this is a launch title, it may tip me over the edge into buyingva WiiU.

After that I finally got around to playing New Super Mario Bros U. It was what you would expect, the graphics looked a lot better and it was fun to play, but it was hardly any different from NSMB on the Wii. The WiiU controller addex barely anything to the game with it's toch screen controls, the idea is that a fith player can stun enemies and create blocks to help out the other players but this functionality didn't make the game any better or worse.

To finish up my E3 experience, I headed over to the Microsoft booth for a half hour wait followed by Resident Evil 6. The RE6 demo starts out with the choice of playing as Chris, Leon or new character Jack. I went for Leon which seemed to be going for the more horror vibe which is hard to do in a noisy convention center. The game itself played well enough, like a standard third person shooter but I just was not having fun. It's hard to put my finger on it but the gameplay felt so mediocre that I struggled to enjoy it, it probably didn't help that it was going for horror in a noisy room, as I just mentioned. To it's merit, RE6 looks amasing, the lighting, textures and character models all looks top notch, it's just a shame the gameplay didn't match the looks.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

E3 Day Two Round Up

Day two is done ajd dusted and we are now over half way done with E3. Day two is also the longest day of E3 and so I saw a LOT of games out on the show floor.

First up were two games that are pretty known quantities already, Spec Ops: The Line and Lollypop Chainsaw. Spec Ops was pretty decent, its very much acsolid shooter, similar to Gears of War in it's cover mechanic. The hook seems to lie in the story, this mystery of everyone evacuating dubai, only being left with a bunch of survivors with guns or military squadron, both of which seem to have gone crazy and want to kill you. I would say i've been more attracted to the game by it's trailers than any demo I've played.

Lollypop Chainsaw was a ton of fun, the game playes pretty much like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta except you play as an 18 year olhighd school cheerleader. The whole demo felt self aware and very funny, it also had a sort of comic book style to it too. Since it's being made by Grasshopper Manufacture, you can be gaurunteed that it's going to be absolutley insane all the way through the full game.

After those two known quantities, it was time to go for something experimental with Dragonball Z Kinect. This game was plain stupid but so brilliant in it's stupidity. You have to pose to charge up your Ki and then do different gestures for different moves, unleash a flurry of punches ajd kicks or power up a Kamehameha. All these actions make you look like a complete burk and it's fantastic, anyone who doesn't want to take themselves seriously while playing Kinect (which is everyone who owns a Kinect) will love this game.

Next it was off to the Microsoft booth to check out what they had showing. Huge lines to see both Halo 4 and Gears of War Judgement left those out of the question for me but ther were many more interesting games on the floor. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD was pretty impressive, the demo on show was of the hangar level from THPS2 and it brough many a memory back. The game played pretty much like THPS3, no advanced techniques from the much later games, just simple flips, grabs, grinding and manuals and it was pretty fun, definatley one for the fans.

I then wondered over to play Dust: An Elesian Tale and this game looked breathtaking. The graphics are all 2D art but of such incredible detail and animation, it was by far one of the best looking games of the show. The actual gameplay seems to be reminicient of Castlevania, it's a 2D sidescrolling fighter in a large world that you'll be able to explore in the full version.

Next up was over at the sony booth to play Playstation Allstars Battle Royale. To say that this game takes heavily from Super Smash Bros would be understatement, it plays almost exactly like that. The only real difference is the idea of supers, you build up a super meter by doing damage to your opponents which you can then unleash for crazy damage. This similarty to Smash Bros is by no means a bad thing, Smash Bros is so much fun to play so the ability to play with Playstation characters is only a plus in my opinion.

Then it was off to the nintendo booth to get my hands on a a WiiU game: Game and Wario. This was another minigame collection so i wont go into great detail on all 4 of the games but each one was pretty fun making good use of the WiiU controller, a bow and arrow target practice demo which had you pointing and aiming with the controller and using the touch screen to pull back the bow and fire.

Then I had a quick go with one of the Wii fit U games, this one had you holding the WiiU controller up to the Tv and using it to aim, then leaning forward on the balance board with one foot to spray a jet of water at the target. The objective of this was to clean all the people out by spraying them with water. While this was a lot of fun, I couldn't help see that my character was more likely using a hight pressure hose to disperse a protest under the guise of "making them clean" but it was fun and hard work regardless.

It was then back off to the Sony booth where I had a go with Little Big Planet Karting. I have to admit I was very skeptical of this as Modnation Racers was meant to be seen as Little Big Planet for racing games but LBP: Karting is completely different. The karts drive very differently to those in Modnation along with completely different mechanics and signiture sounds that definatly make it an LBP game and nothing else.

Sleeping dogs was up next, a game previously known as True Crime: Hong Kong, which was cancelled and then brought back in this form. The demo was a rather short section where you have to chase down a gang member. The chase itself was vert reminicient of Assassin's creed, running through large crowds, trying not to crash into anyone while chasing your target. This then ends with a fight against said gang members thugs, the combat system felt like one of the Batman Arkham games, a simple punch or counter button press in the direction you point yourself. This comes with the ability to grab your enemies which you cab theb kill with many objects in the environment, such as sticking their head into an airduct if you want to make absolutley sure theyre dead.

Lastly was a half hour demo for Lost Planet 3. I have been doubtful of this game ever since it's announcement concidering the people behind it Spark Unlimited, makers of such terrible games as Turning Point: Fall of Liberty and Legendary so not exactly top class developers. However Lost Planet 3 was surprisingly good, graphically it looked absolutley stunning and the story seemed pretty interesting. You play as a miner on the newly discovered EDN 03 with a family back home, looking for work wherever he can get it. The gameplay has changed quite a lot from the originals, the cursor is no longer "floaty" so aiming is now like every other third person shooter. Now when outside, you have to deal with storms, a strong one can completely freeze up your mech so you'll have to go out and shoot the ice out. The game certainly wasn't shouting out as the greatest thing ever to me, but if you consider the people behind it, it's miracle that game is as good as it is.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

E3 Roundup: Day One

E3 day one is done and dusted and I saw and played a whole lot of stuff today. So here is what I thought of each game i played on the show floor.

First booth i wandered my way into was Square-Enix, with a huge screen showing off all sorts of big titles like hitman and tomb raider. What cought my eye was a small section with Heroes of Ruin, a 3DS title of which I knew very little. The demo started off by letting me select a character abd class and customise them a little with hair colour ect, and then the actual game started. The game pretty much played like Diablo, a top down view action RPG with dungeon crawling and loot. Those looking for soke sort of portable Diablo fix would do well by this game.

Then i went over to the next section along and played Theatrythm Final Fantasy, a rythm game based on Final Fantasy. The game was a ton of fun, having a selection of the best music from all the Final Fantasy games. Each song has you performing actions on the touch screen to the beat of the music, this is often a tap or a swipe. I had a lot of fun with this game and went back a couple of times to play it.

After that, i went to one of the big games of the show: Hitman absolution. This is a game that has had fans of the originals quite upset as most triailers imply it to be an action game when thats not what Hitman should be at all. Well if you are such a fan, then allow me to quell your fears. While it is possible to go in guns blasing and kill your target as subtley as a whale in afganistan, the best scores are given to those who take their time and use death by "accidently" leaving the gas running for example. This new Hitman is definatley more streamlined, but I would say that to it's benefit.

Up next was a trip to the koei-tecmo booth to enjoy Ninja Gaiden 3 on the WiiU. This was not such a good idea, taking a game that was never that good and tacking on the WiiU controller is bad enough but the game made no use of the extra screen other than as a pause menu. I hate to sound jaded but that game needs more improvements that a second screen.

Then i had a mosey over to the Konami booth where I first saw the Zone of the Enders HD Collection. This is exactly what you might expect, the two fantastic ZOE games, upscaled to HD resolutions and other technical improvements. I also saw Silent Hill: Book of Memories, a new sioent hill game for the vita. Again, this game played very much like a Diablo game only set in the silent hill universe. You create your character, and then roam around what seemed to be randomly generated dungeons. The only major difference seemed to be a lack of a loot system, so no collecting weapons and armour to sell on.

I then went over to the EA booth to have a go with Need for Speed: Most Wanted. This game has me excited just by the premise: one of the classic Need for Speed games, brought back by Criterion Games, one of the best racing devs out there. The demo invokved a street race, followed by evading the cops after compleating said raice. The game was tons of fun to play and there was a real sense of speed in the game that you would struggle to find in any other.

Next on my E3 adventures was Darksiders 2 over at the Microsoft booth. This will probably be one of my favourite games of E3. Darksiders 2 seems to improve on the original in all ways, new character Death is much more agile than War and as a result moves a lot faster both in combat and traversal. There is also now a loot system in place, almost every enemy will drop a weapon or armour and you can immedietly equip it or just pick it up to sell later. This system is much simpler than other games, as they use detailed information, Darksiders 2 just tells you the basics and lets you go from there.

Finally, i headed over to the Nintendo booth go play some of the newly announced Ningendo Land games. There were 5 on show, all quite a lot of fun. It would probably take too long to describe each minigame in detail so I'll just say that each one was a ton of cun and I can't wait to see what the other 7 games are like if they even come close to the quality of those on show today.