Category: Reviews

Mario Kart Live Home Circuit Review (Nintendo Switch)

  • Genre: Racing, VR
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch
  • Developer | Publisher: Velan Studios | Nintendo
  • Age Rating: 6+ | ESRB E for Everyone
  • Price: UK £99.99 | US $99.99
  • Release Date: 16th of October 2020

Mario Kart Live Home Circuit has finally arrived. I guess I have always dreamt of a real life Mario Kart to play with. Of course we have remote controlled karts of Mario Kart which you can buy here via Smyths Toys, but having VR instead? Always a dream, 50/50 probability of happening too. Yet Velan Studios and Nintendo have teamed up to make it reality.

Gameplay

Everything you expect in a Mario Kart game is in Live Home Circuit too. Firstly, you will be introduced in a tutorial how to set up the gates, how to position them so the camera on the back of Mario or Luigi can register, make your track and have fun! When you create your own track. Bowser Jr and the gang soon arrive and challenge you to a race. You can have four CCs settings 50cc, 100cc, 150cc and 200cc. I would suggest a big room if you want to play at 150cc and 200cc.

Once you are racing you have the usual item boxes. If you get hit the Kart will stop and you will soon get going again. Mushrooms giving you speed boosts or hitting through the gates give you a boost also which you can tell a difference when you see the Kart in action. If you are a parent or non parent the gameplay is brilliant, and you can drift too! Looking forward to the Mario Kart Live Home Circuit drift racing championships soon… I best copyright that?

You can also pick up coins. If you have played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe its the same formula. You can earn more Karts, clothing and even horns for your karts too.

The possibilities are endless with Mario Kart Live Home Circuit. I’m sure we will see some fantastic tracks from people across the globe.

There are many cups as well you can play via single player. You have the following cups available:

  • Mushroom Cup
  • Flower Cup
  • Shell Cup
  • Star Cup
  • Banana Cup
  • Leaf Cup
  • Lightning Cup
  • Special Cup
  • And finally Random Cup.

Each cup consists of 3 stages which will turn your room into a chain chomping glacier or the magical rainbow road. Earn the gold cup in each CC to claim all bragging rights too.

Graphics, Sound and Performance

Visually playing on the Switch Lite it looks brilliant and the Switch via TV also looks good too. The sound is brilliant, crisp and clear and the usual Mario Kart themes. You can even change radio via the dpad or in other words to change theme anytime you like.

Performance is something people will have a lot of questions over. I have had no issues playing on the Switch or the Kart having issues in my current set up. I’m sure different floor surfaces could hinder the Karts performance of speed, turning etc. The turning circle of the Kart is enormous on the higher cc, yet that is where the drift can help you out big time and of course how you place your gates.

In the box comes supplied with a USB cable to charge the Kart which can be plugged in via the Dock. It does say that you will need a flat surface roughly 3.5m x 3m to get the best out of Live Home Circuit. Both karts (Mario & Luigi) have 90 minutes of play which in turn can take upto 4 hours charge.

Conclusion

If you want something different to the norm and have everybody involved, Mario Kart Live Home Circuit is right at the top of the list. With Christmas coming and with these unprecedented times causing havoc for all of us. I’m pretty sure Mario Kart Live Home Circuit will provide many hours of laughter and enjoyment for you and your family. Again, this isn’t just aimed at families, this game also appeals to fans of Mario or Mario Kart in general. Live Home Circuit is available and accessible to everyone and that is what makes Nintendo unique in the world of videogames.

Verdict
In the words of Mario (Charles Martinet) “Hoo hoo! Just what I needed!” Mario Kart Live Home Circuit is a must have for all Switch owners!

Re:Turn – One Way Trip Review (PC)

  • Genre: Horror, Puzzle, Action, Adventure, Role-Playing, Visual Novel
  • Platforms: Steam, xBox One (Switch and PS4 to come Nov 2020)
  • Developer | Publisher: Red Ego Games | Green Man Gaming Publishing
  • Age Rating: PEGI 18
  • Price: UK £9.99
  • Release Date: 14th October 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to Renaissance PR!

In Re:Turn – One Way Trip, you start by following a group of newly graduated college students. For the majority of the game, you will control Saki, as she searches for her friends.

Story/Characters

Kanae, Saki, Yuuta, Kazuki and Sen are camping in the woods, celebrating the end of their college days. All is well until, after an unfortunate misunderstanding with Saki’s fiancé Sen, Yuuta runs off, leaving the others go to sleep.

Saki wakes a little later, to find she’s suddenly all alone. After looking for her friends, she stumbles upon an abandoned train car in the forest. Obviously, Saki decides to check out the train, because she knows her friends are the type of people to explore something like this. As Saki makes her way in the first car, she becomes increasingly paranoid and skittish. She pushes away things that make her scared and pushes forward.

Gameplay

From here, you will need to solve puzzles. The puzzle are usually logical and make sense, they’re some pretty solid puzzles in Re:Turn. Most of the time, you’ll be moving slowly around the train cars, whether the situation is urgent or not. Fortunately, about 2/3 of the way through, Saki really does find it urgent enough to start running.

The time travelling is an interesting and cool mechanic that’s put to good use in Re:Turn; it adds so much more to the story, and makes for a fun adventure story at the same time. You will travel back and forth to the past to progress the story and to find out what actually happened on this luxurious train to leave it abandoned.

Unfortunately, the writing left a little to be desired. While it is easy to follow, and it’s not riddled with mistakes or anything, the writing just felt a little… simple, for a PEGI 18 game. Which is a shame, because the story was interesting and tense in places.

Graphics, Sound and Performance

The graphics are pretty good, it’s easy to see what items are, it’s easy to see the characteristics of the character models. The detail is outstanding. For being hand-drawn, this really blew my mind. The amount of attention to detail throughout is amazing of Red Ego Games, and it makes for a beautiful backdrop to the story.

The sounds are good enough to affect how I looked at what was happening. If I was supposed to be tense, the music saw to that fairly swiftly. If I was supposed to be sad, the music reflected this. Again, attention to detail, even in the music laced throughout, is spot on.

Difficulty

A couple of times I found myself trying everything I had on everything available. This always works, especially if you are stuck in one place with no way out. The puzzles themselves as stated before are usually logical, so it shouldn’t be too hard for anyone.

Conclusion

It’s a fun little game, for £9.99 you get a few hours of puzzles and time travel adventure. I enjoyed what I played although, as a horror fan, I was sad to find it wasn’t all that scary. Jump scares and dark themes pepper the game, making it possibly scary to some, or even most. I don’t know what level of ‘horror’ it really counts as to be honest.

Verdict
A fun horror, visual-novel/adventure game for an evening of jumps and scares in an abandoned train.

Going Under Review (Nintendo Switch)

  • Genre: Indie, Dungeon Crawler, Action
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
  • Developer | Publisher: Aggro Crab Games | Team17
  • Age Rating: PEGI 12 | ESRB T Teen
  • Price: UK £15.99 | US $19.99 | EU €19.99
  • Release Date: 24th of September 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to Team17! This particular review concerns gameplay on the Nintendo Switch.

Starting off as an unpaid intern can be a real pain. Long hours, meaningless tasks, just trying to get some recognition. It can feel like hell. You know what’s worse? Starting as an intern in a company literally filled with monsters! (Well, they’re in the basement.)

Gameplay

This colourful game sees the intern Jackie join a fizzy drinks company, but it’s not the internship she signed up for, as this satirical dungeon crawler has her dealing with the monsters living in the failed tech companies in the basement.

Thankfully, almost everything you come across can be used as a weapon, from a stapler, laptop, car to a cactus. Yes, I said cactus. Weapons break after heavy usage, so make sure you’re prepared. I still haven’t mastered the bow or any of the throwing weapons to be completely honest…

Battling your way through the ever changing dungeon let’s you encounter skills.  (Either through a selection room, after defeating enemies or at a café.) And yes, these can be stacked! If you’ve used a skill enough times in the dungeons you can unlock it as an “Endorsed Skill”. You’re able to set an Endorsed Skill before you enter an dungeon, that way it’ll already be equipped!

Obviously your bosses also have certain tasks for you. Performing these successfully incurs their favour, which leads to handy bonuses, such as a earning extra money when you defeat enemies, or being able to spend more money than you actually have! (Okay, that last one isn’t the most helpful as it creates a ball and chain that increases in size depending on the amount of debt you have and honestly speed is really something you need in this dungeon, unless you want to be a sitting duck.)

Graphics, Sound, and Performance

Both colourful in charterers and surroundings, this game is a treat for the eye. With popping colours, especially in the dungeons where you’re actually able to discern everything. And every dungeon has its own colour scheme.

Every dungeon has its own enjoyable tune. Which is totally inviting you to explore every one of them.

I haven’t experienced any problems performance wise. The game runs smooth on the Switch, both in handheld mode and docked.

Difficulty

Yes, prepare to die many times in these dungeons, just to have you get familiar with that fail screen describing how you weren’t able to complete your task. Bad intern!  Every time you enter the dungeon a new layout is created, so you’ll never know what to expect. And the enemies are actually good.

Now if you’re thinking this is all a bit too difficult for you, then don’t worry. You can also choose to play the game with the Assist Options. These let you start the game with extra hearts, lower enemy health, etc. Thus ensuring you’re still able to enjoy the game.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for an entertaining dungeon crawler, then do I have good news, ’cause this is it! With its ever changing layout and engaging monsters this game will keep you entertained for many hours. It’s also ideal for a short exploration while you have some minutes to spare. The vibrant colours and chill music complete the ensemble.

Verdict
Fun dungeon crawler that will leave you wanting more.

FIFA 21 Review (Xbox One)

  • Genre: Sports, Football
  • Platforms: Xbox One, Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Developer | Publisher: EA, EA Sports
  • Age Rating: PEGI 3| ESRB E for everyone
  • Price: UK £59.99| US $59.99
  • Initial Release Date: October 6th (Ultimate & Champions Edition) 9th of October Standard edition.

FIFA 21 was purchased by myself. This review is a full comprehensive review on the Xbox One. This review will be updated when the Xbox Series X launches.

Gameplay

FIFA 21 is FIFA 20. When I first put the game into the Xbox and playing the traditional opener between two European juggernauts of football. I thought, ok, let’s see what this game has in its locker before the Series X/S and PS5 launches next month. From kick off, it was screaming FIFA 20 straight away, yet felt good…. A new game then that’s been reskinned for the season ahead.

The major difference in terms of gameplay you would see more in FUT. No fitness items or training cards are in the game. A welcomed addition and all you have to worry about is contracts and injury cards to use. Squad battles is a brilliant mode in FUT where players such as myself can test myself against the AI, build my team before heading into division rivals to claim all bragging rights.

Career mode has also had a substantial update, which has been neglected quite a bit since FUT has gained the foothold of the most played mode. Interactive match sim is for those that want to control everything from a managers perspective. It isn’t quite Football Manager, though it provides more a overall control over your team. A new overhauled player development giving players more precise control, by selecting which areas you want them to improve suiting your playing style/tactics.

Player conversion positions is a new feature which is very good. Being able to learn players into new positions can benefit you in the long run. Changing CAM to a winger or into a ST. CB into a CDM or cover the wings, its a great addition which will change the way you will use the transfer market when looking to buy players.

Graphics, Sound, and Performance

Player likeness is always a strong point for FIFA. In comparison to PES, PES edges it in terms of player models in my opinion. All teams getting their new kits and players getting their own likeness into the game such as Nicolas Pepe at Arsenal for example.

The sound i.e the music has always been good on FIFA games in general. Probably hasn’t been awesome since the days of FIFA 97 to 99 with songs such as Blur Song 2 and Fatboy Slim.

Performance wise I haven’t experienced anything too bad as of yet. The usual FIFA Logic being bellowed at the game hasn’t happened yet. In modes such as online and pro clubs is where that swear word will be used quite often. Against the AI on career mode or squad battles hasn’t been bad at all, so top notch thus far.

Difficulty

If you fancy a challenge then I recommend playing at World Class and upwards. Professional setting is a good benchmark to improve defending before increasing or players online. Obviously going against players online is a different kettle of fish than the AI. The uncertainty on what the opponent will be like can in turn change how you tackle that individual match/game. I wouldn’t bother playing on semi pro or below as you will end up turning off because it’s boring, rather simple really.

Conclusion

If you are expecting a new fresh experience then you will probably feel quite disappointed. FIFA 21 will be brought more under the spotlight when the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 launches to see where the envelope can be pushed which in turn makes the release of FIFA 22 even more exciting. FIFA 21 continues what the FIFA games have always provided. Plenty of football to sink many hours into with your mates, on your own and drink beer. Updated player transfers, new menu layouts, updates to career mode and FUT there is plenty that FIFA 21 is new. I wouldn’t wait till the new consoles launches. Get it now and start building your team on FUT or become the Sir Alex, Arsene Wenger of career mode.

Verdict
When we signed Thomas Partey on deadline day. I went ham on the Arsenal website and got both home and away kits including my daughters first Arsenal kit, I rather support my club! FIFA 21 is exactly the same. The excitement of playing a new football game is brilliant and gets you pumped for the season ahead.

Partisans 1941 Review (PC)

  • Genre: Strategy, Real-Time Tactics, Action, Resource Management
  • Platforms: Steam
  • Developer | Publisher: Alter Games | Daedalic Entertainment
  • Age Rating: TBC
  • Price: UK £25.99
  • Release Date: 14th October 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to Renaissance PR!

In Partisans 1941 you play as a Red Army commander in World War II, stuck behind enemy lines on the Eastern Front. Gather more Partisans and use guerrilla warfare against the German occupants.

Story/Characters

Play as Commander Alexey Zorin as you gain new Partisans as you journey forward. Meeting Sanek and Fetisov will give you a squad of three to use as you progress. Sanek is a local lad of 14, just wanting to stop the German invasion into his homeland. Fetisov is also part of the army, and is glad to be back fighting the good fight. Continue on and find more Partisans just waiting to join your team and fight against the German invaders.

Gameplay

Partisans 1941 brings a fun approach on the gameplay it involves. Using the real-time tactics, own the way forward with your way of playing. Use a mixture of stealth, combat, ambushes and a variety of special items to astound the enemies ahead of you.

The use of tactical mode is very helpful, being able to slow down time to figure out your next move in the middle of a fight is so fantastic a mechanic.

I have to admit, this game was harder than I could ever have expected; even on easy mode I’m really having to think about how to move forward, how to dodge that enemy or how to not get caught. Even the resource management in the camp takes some thinking, do I need food, materials, weapons, ammo or morale??

Speaking of the camp, it’s all on you to decide what gets built, what gets searched for or what missions you want to send your allies on. The only time you don’t get to decide what to spend your time on is when there is a story mission. Story missions are at a set time and your people will be automatically set to go.

Graphics, Sound and Performance

The graphics are pretty realistic, which I guess you’d hope for in a historical war game. The characters are fleshed out well, and really well designed. The scenery is beautiful, and the use of the scenery is a great mechanic for Partisans 1941.

My only issue with the sound is that no matter what you set the audio to in game, the opening is always at it’s full volume, which can catch me off guard.

Difficulty

Ok, so I touched on this briefly earlier, and wow, just wow. This game is incredibly difficult to a novice like me. I’m used to turn-based RPGs, so having real-time tactics took some getting used to. Even on easy, I am having to take my time to figure out the best way forward in missions, and even use trial and error to make the best moves I can.
I am stuck in a mission at the moment, but I will get past it, I am determined to push forward once again.

You can choose between three difficulty settings at the start of a New Game.
Easy mode, which is the recommended difficulty for a first playthrough.
Normal mode, which makes you and enemies have lower health, which in turn makes every combat even more dangerous than before, and dogs will be more dangerous again.
Hard mode, now your comrades can die if you don’t treat their wounds in time, you also can no longer save during missions and tactical mode will no longer slow time.

Conclusion

The gameplay makes Partisans 1941 worth playing for anyone that enjoys a challenge and to think about the moves they make in a game. I’m sure the story will attract fans of historical war games, and it might take others by surprise by how much they enjoy or get invested in the story. It’s a good game for when you want to challenge your brain into thinking in the ways it pushes you to think, and noticing any out of the box ways to complete missions.

Verdict
An interesting war story played out with fun and interesting mechanics makes for a good, albeit challenging game.

The Suicide of Rachel Foster Review (PS4)

  • Genre: Mystery, Adventure
  • Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
  • Developer | Publisher: One O One Games | Daedalic Entertainment
  • Age Rating: PEGI 16 | ESRB Mature
  • Price: UK £15.99 | US $19.99
  • Initial Release Date: 19th February 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to Renaissance PR!

The Suicide of Rachel Foster is an ambitious story that attempts to handle two very delicate subjects- grooming, and suicide. While the game does what it can to drive home the severity of these topics, One O One do not seem equipped for the seriousness of the situation they created. A disclaimer at the start of the game pops up urging people experiencing similar situations to reach out to others. The game is a mixed bag, with the first half building tension and getting the player accustomed to the massive hotel and the second feeling like a soap opera.

Story/Characters

The story was engaging and interesting enough to have me complete it in one sitting. It suffers from some lulls and the story can be clumsy and convoluted and times, but ultimtately kept my attention throughout, although the climax and ending left me cringing and uncomfortable. It took me roughly 4 hours to get through, including getting lost a few times in the massive hotel and long corridors.

In the Suicide of Rachel Foster you play as Nicole, an estranged daughter who is returning to her family’s hotel to sell it, hoping to free herself from her ties with the Timberline Hotel and all it’s secrets. Ten years earlier, Nicole and her mother fled the hotel after Nicole’s father had an affair with the 17 year old Rachel Foster, who ended up taking her own life and the life of her unborn child. With the intention of auditing the Timberline before selling it, Nicole ends up trapped by a blizzard.

The first couple of hours I really enjoyed; it’s main focus is tackling the huge space that is the hotel. Luckily, you have company through Nicole’s radiotelephone with a FEMA agent named Irving who offers tips such as the location of the pantry and how to restore power when the lights go out. Irving became akin to a friend, offering Nicole help and sometimes just someone to talk to when the story took a dip.

As the game entered it’s second half I hoped it was heading more into ghost story territory. However, rummaging through the items left at the hotel and putting together the pieces is where things start to get convoluted and problematic. This is where the game starts to delve into the relationship between Nicole’s father and Rachel, warranting the disclaimer at the beginning of the game. The real crux of the problem is that this relationship between student and mentor is seen as romantic and the story begins to spiral into a drama.

At one point Nicole stumbles across a room that points to obsession for Rachel on her father’s part. Her reaction to this is a puzzling one; her anger and dispair is not aimed at her father for doing such a thing but at the room itself that it dares to exist. This is one of several instances in the game where the issue at the core of the game- the “relationship” between Rachel and Nicole’s father- is glossed over. This becomes more apparant when their dynamic is described as “love, nothing more, nothing less”.

Gameplay

The Suicide of Rachel Foster is ostensibly a walking simulator. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; walking through the hotel’s long corridors and listening to the wind howl and the hotel creak is great for the atmosphere. As you explore the hotel, finding secret passages (which I delighted in) and clues, you check in with and run theories by Irving. This is made more interesting as you’re given options for how Nicole interacts with and responds to Irving and the clues you find.

The game has a certain rustic charm which made me like it almost immediately. It’s the little things that make all the difference, such as pulling up a map and to-do list instead of pulling up a screen to navigate the map, which fits in nicely with the early 1990’s setting. It also helps to be able to pull up the map and tasks when you inevitably get lost.

While there are items you can only pick up through story progression such as a dynamo flashlight to light dim hidden passageways and a parabolic microphone to chase whispers through the hallways, you have free reign of the hotel almost immediately. Not only does this give the game a daunting feel while you try to get to grips with the massive Timberline, it’s also eerie when you revisit an area or room and find a clue that was definitely not there before. At one point in the story, you consolidate all the information you’ve collected so far in a police like evidence board which was fun to talk through with Irving.

Graphics, Sound, and Performance

The game is a pleasure to look at – great effort and attention to detail has clearly been put in to create the Timberline, as is to be expected from the Unreal Engine. From the large and grand ballroom to the decrepit and mould ridden second floor the game looks great, even when it’s supposed to look melancholy and gloomy. The lighting in the game, whether natural or artificial, looks fantastic.

Not all of the Timberline is pretty and well lit, however. Some rooms and corridors are dark and dank, with mould running up the walls or faded patched in wallpaper where painting once hung, giving the hotel a truly abandoned and uncared for feel. Simple things like mouldy food in the pantry add to this. The subtle exposition in certain rooms is also appreciated.

The sound design in the game is errie and atmospheric. The creaking of the hotel amps the tension and what sounded like faint footsteps in the background had me looking over my shoulder more than once. Rachel Foster was made to be played with headphones and playing it any other way would be doing the game a disservice.

The voice acting in the game is solid, with Irving and Nicole both sounding believable, but a few lines get lost in translation. One thing that did disappoint me is that Rachel has no voice of any kind. There are no flashbacks, notes or diary entries. To say that the game is centred around Rachel, I know nothing about her except her name, age and situation. It would have been intersting to hear (or read) about Rachel’s situation and feelings from her point of view and not just what Nicole and Irving speculate.

The game is not without it’s issues though. While I didn’t encounter any visual issues such as lag or texture pops, I did come across a few sound issues. Some voice lines would not be voiced or would sound like a stuck CD. Relaunching the game resolved these issues and I didn’t encounter them again. At another point the game froze before crashing. Like the sound issues, this only happened once.

Difficulty

The game has no difficulty options as would be expected from a walking simulator. It can be hard to know what to do next as there is not always an objective on the to-do list. This can be frustrating, especially on the occasions where your next objective seems to be time-based. More than once I was left aimlessly wandering around looking for what to do next before Irving chimed in with my next point of interest or task.

It’s also easy to get lost in the Timberline, especially at the beginning of the game. This isn’t helped by the fact that your position is never marked on the map and some rooms can only be accessed via hidden passageways.

Conclusion

All in all, the game has an interesting, if sometimes cumbersome story. The atmosphere is solid and evokes unease and paranoia, which I really appreciated. As much as I enjoyed the atmosphere of the game, and thought that the hotel looked great, this is all bogged down by the relationship between Rachel and Nicole’s father. The fact that this is romanticised leaves a bad taste that I simply can’t look past and ruined the experience for me.

Verdict
A mystery game with a solid atmosphere spoiled by the mishandling of sensitive topics.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 Review (PS4)

  • Genre: Skateboarding
  • Developer|Publisher: Vicarious Visions, Activision
  • Age Rating: PEGI 12 | ESRB T
  • Price: UK £39.99 | US $39.99
  • Release Date: 3rd of September 2020

Gameplay

If you played the games back in the day when they were released on the playstation 1. Old memories will soon come flooding back. Doing obscene tricks and getting the special trick meter upto max is always a killer feeling, especially landing a kickflip superman into the bowl to bs revert.

Everything is exactly the same as Pro Skater 1 & 2 in terms of the Skate tours. Each map has been given the HD lick of paint to today standard’s and continues the each map objectives from high score to collect S-K-A-T-E and get the secret tape etc.

You also have numerous of challenges to complete across many scenarios. Such as Skater challenges, combo, multiplayer, skate park and create-a-park challenges. Gain even more extra kudos via the rookie challenge complete collection to veteran and legend. These challenges will be completed as you naturally progress through the game anyways, so dont feel as if you need to finish all the challenges straight away.

Graphics, sound and performance

The whole game visually is stunning. I guess being a big fan of the games back in the day does help, especially with the nostalgia this game brings with it. Having returning skaters and looking like their present day selves is awesome, and shit Caballero is looking old haha.

One huge highlight of the Pro Skater games were the tracklist that accompanied it. From Goldfinger- Superman to Rage Against The Machine, Anthrax and Papa Roach plus many more great songs. I guess for me personally, the Pro Skater games got me more into punk songs, though I already liked Rage Against The Machine, Anthrax for example. Sound in this remaster of both games is top notch, nothing to argue or critique here.

Performance wise of the game I have had no issues. I did or shall I say expericened some glitches now and again, like falling through the map when I landed my melon grab or somehow wallride into oblivion. Again, I wasnt really bothered when these happened in all honesty, I kinda laughed more than going oh for fuck sakes here we go again haha.

Conclusion

Its a massive nostalgia trip for me this game. I can remember playing it to death and got really good at it, well I thought I did haha. I guess my love for the game grew even more when I got into skateboarding and spending most of my nights after school skateboarding around with friends and finding spots where we would attempt to do the tricks and outragoues stunts, no not Jackass, though that kinda happened too…

Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 & 2 is a must have game in your gaming library. With all returning characters and even more skaters added such as Riley Hawk, Tony’s son, its a great time to hop back in and see where it leads you. I didnt realise how quick these games were, but you didnt really play to finish it and not touch it again. I spent far too many hours into the create-a-park feature, and always increasing my overall score on per level. Plus, always coming back for that epic tracklist too.

Verdict

If you are in need of a kick in your life, get Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 & 2, you wont regret it. Remember, wear your helmet, kneepads and dont try this at home as we are all got older when we originally played this. I’m glad Tony Hawk game has gone back to its absolute best and not like that last shower of shite, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5….

9/10

Project Cars 3 Review (PS4)

  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer|Publisher: Slightly Mad Studios, Bandai Namco
  • Age Rating: PEGI 3 | ESRB E
  • Price: UK £49.99 | US $59.99
  • Release Date: 28th of August 2020

We was not given a review code for Project Cars 3. I have purchased the game myself and have given a full comphrensive review of Project Cars 3 on the Playstation 4.

Project Cars 3 is the spiriutal successor of Need For Speed Shift Unleashed which Slightly Mad Studios developed before Project Cars and teaming up with Bandai Namco.

Gameplay

Project Cars 3 is a racing sim, yet drives like a arcade racer. It has the categories such as Road to GT and bonus. The road category will have players race around specific themes such as Japanese roots or Road E Specials which will have vehicle requirements. When you level up, especially manufacturer level which will give players upgrade discounts by upto 5% for example. You can upgrade the cars you have brought from the showroom and change their class type to participate in other events which of course you wouldnt been able to do. Let the V-Tec kick in bro… Car joke there.

For the bonus: invitationals and challenges. You can either pay to unlock and compete or hit the required challenge to unlock. These can both be achieved via career mode, so dont waste that money where you can purchase more cars, upgrades etc instead.

In the showroom there is many, many cars to get. From Road E to Indycar, so much variety it makes me feel like a child in a toy shop or candy shop, whatever suits, it applies here. You can unlock more cars available to purchase by increasing your driver level, again achievable via career mode.

The car physics compared to other games such as Forza, Gran Turismo for example. You will simply say both Forza and GT are better and they are. The previous Project Cars games were hit and miss. I feel as if Slightly Mad has got Project Cars 3 exactly right this time in terms of the content, menu layout (personal bugbite from previous PC games) and being something it isnt. However… Going back to the Shift Unleashed roots has probably brought some uncontenional changes to Project Cars and heavily being just that, Unleashed 3 instead. The whole feel of racing in Project Cars 3 is arcade than real sim, yet packaged as a racing sim to compete with the likes of forza, GT, assetto corsa and the list continues.

By simply tapping the LT to brake, you can drift just like that of Need For Speed Heat or throw the left stick either right or left, you can drift as well, providing you are putting some gas down. The infamous perfect cornering icons return to help those to get like it says, perfect corner i.e. the perfect racing line per track. Not a bad thing, rather a good mechanic which can really help when you want to play with more of a challenge or take it into online.

Graphics, sound and performance

The visuals for PC3 can be somewhat, yikes. In some cases they are brilliant, especailly in the showroom of the car models. Realistic and what you would expect in real life, very detailed to the real thing. When you are racing I did experience some framerate issues and the visuals looked very PS2 as well, which was very disappointing to see in a videogame well into the PS4 era. The lightning off the cars are horrendous, if you want a perfect example of how to do it take a leaf out of Forza and GT book.

The cars sound ok, no issues really to report. Nothing like hearing a V6 or V8 engine dropping into 2nd gear and bouncing it off the limiter per gear to get that nice roar of the engine via the exhaust.

Performance wise of the game as previously said about framerate issues now and then, nothing else I didnt really encounter. Playing online has been ok so far, some minor hiccups as expected, but not game breaking.

Conclusion

Project Cars 3 is a fun game to play regardless of its flaws. It fills the gap where I just want to hop into another race straight after the other than having to travel to the other side of the map in open world racing games for example. Plenty of things to do to keep you engaged such as the ingame objectives to earn xp and finish challenges to unlock the bonus races etc. If you are looking for a proper racing sim to set up your steering wheel, then I would look elsewhere. That isnt to say PC3 isnt playable as it certainly is playable, its more of a chill and play without having to try too hard in the process to win and just have fun.

Verdict

Being the spiriutal sucessor to NFS Shift Unleashed may of tainted the direction where PC3 was heading. The previous games were screaming real sim and being the car nut enthusiast go too racing game. Instead, we got a fun racing game to play, but disguised as NFS Shift Unleashed 3 with Project Cars 3 slapped over it.

6/10

Hotshot Racing Review (Xbox One)

  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer|Publisher: Sumo Digital, Lucky Mountain Games | Curve Digital
  • Age Rating: PEGI 3 | ESRB E
  • Price: UK £15.99 | US $19.99
  • Release Date: 10th September 2020

We recieved a review code from lucky mountain games, sumo digital and from publisher relations of curve digital. We reviewed Hotshot racing on the Xbox One, providing a full comprehensive review.

Hotshot Racing is certainly a racer that brings so many memories from other hit racing games and ideas from other titles. For me personally, I got a lot of Outrun, Burnout 1 & 2 vibes via its boost mechanic which will be covered later in the review, and the music is so catchy as well!

Gameplay

It’s a solid racing game which will appeal to a lot of gamers. With its simplicity controls, drifting or snake other racers to fill your boost gauge. You will soon be pulling a Vin Diesel face when you go zooming past your fellow competitors. Other than boosting, hotshot isn’t a bad racer at all. As much as it isn’t offering that much new to the table to what we already have experienced, it’s certainly good to the formula. I’m sure a lot of gamers will get Outrun vibes and maybe a few such as myself with the likes of Burnout 1 & 2 more predominantly from this game.

You can select characters which will offer different cars. The more races you finish and earn money. You can customize the look of your chosen car, avatar items and more. The depth of customization is pretty good, offering plenty of choice too.

Hotshot follows the early Mario Kart formula. 16 tracks overall with 4 cups available. You can choose from normal, hard and expert. Playing on hard or expect is certainly a challenge. Managing your boost and when to use it is crucial, yet throughout each difficulty. The AI catch up is quite significantly obvious too.

The game also supports 4 player splitscreen and upto 8 players online. It requires at least 4 players to begin a match and the AI will fill the vacant slots.

Graphics, sound and performance

The developers have gone for a comic/cel shading graphics. I really dig the visuals, it’s unique and make its different from other racing games. I think if they chose to go down a different route, I’m sure it would probably fall into the generic racer bin, and get picked up at a later date. The visuals hotshot has is refreshing, not proving to be powerhouse in that department either, it’s being itself.

As far as themes go along. You will be humming to the various sound scores this game has to offer. I don’t think I have stopped humming, it’s that good!

Haven’t encountered any performance issues yet via singleplayer. I did encounter some freezing and loss of connection a few times when trying to connect to matches or when in a race itself. Overall the game seems very stable, so no complatins from me.

Conclusion

I would say the game is pretty fun to play. £15.99 worth it? Yes and no. As much as I have painted the picture quite well for Hotshot Racing, which I do stand by it. I think the game will become rather repetitive quite quickly. Customization alone isn’t going to give the game longevity, as there is only so much you can do with it. Hopefully the game will be supported with more tracks and added features to give more spice to the already good gameplay it does have on offer.

Verdict

Hotshot Racing is a good game. With its crisp visuals, tone catching music and robust gameplay. You will have fun, yet it does have its banana peel moments.

7/10

Those Who Remain Review (PlayStation 4)

Genre: Psychological horror/thriller

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Playstation, PC

Developer | Publisher: Camel 101 | Wired Productions

Age Rating: PEGI 16 | ESRB 17+

Price: UK £15.99 | US $19.99

Release Date: May 15th 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to Wired Productions!

Introduction

When I first started Those Who Remain, I wanted to love it. The premise of saving a cursed town and using light to your advantage conjoured up images of a Silent Hill and Alan Wake love-child. While the game has it’s fine points and freaky moments, it’s bogged down by trial and error frustration and clunky mechanics.

Story/Characters

This first person psychological thriller takes place in the seemingly abandoned town of Dormont. You must make your way through various dimly-lit areas, using basic physics and any available lighting to navigate your way. Following you every step of the way are blue-eyed figures hiding in the shadows, unmoving and staring. Getting too close ends badly, an instant game over and checkpoint restart. They are one of the few things in the game that add any tension. The first time I gazed into the shadows and saw those blue eyes staring back at me was a genuine shock and watching them disappear and reappear with the flick of a switch is eerie.

The story of what happened to the town is a tragic one. A mother and daughter are shunned by the entire town as outsiders. One day, this goes too far. The climax of the game takes a sharp turn into the supernatural which somewhat ruined it for me. The fact that all the women in the newcomer’s family have skill in witchcraft and summoning is dropped very late in the game and seemingly out of nowhere. This goes wrong and leaves the town in the deserted and dicrepid state the protagonist Edward finds it in.

Meandering through the town’s various areas you need to solve puzzles, avoid stalking emenies and make the occasional “moral” choice relating to the town’s dark past. There’s enough exposition throughout to keep the story moving, the game dropping hints at what happened to the town as well as the protagonist’s past.

I see you!

Edward has enough depth that you can empathise with him as his story is dropped in tid bits throughout the game. What happened to him and his family could’ve happened to anyone and you really feel for him as he tries to forgive himself for what he’s done. The same, however, can’t be said for any other character you come across. All other people in Dormont look odd up close and the people you are meant to judge have only one aggrivating and one mitigating factor to their character, meant to balance them out and make the decision a tough one. This unfortunately has the opposite effect. The traits that define them are so generic and tropey that they seem all the more two dimensional, forgetable and shallow.

What’s wrong with your face?!

Gameplay

The controls in Those Who Remain are basic; you have the option to sprint and you can pick up and interact with objects. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the inability to defend yourself helps the (barely existent) tension.

The main source of frustration for me was the lack of a stealth mechanic. Why was this frustrating, I hear you ask? I have two words for you: patrolling enemy. The main enemy you have to avoid is a jerky, bipedal monster with a headlight for a face. It sounds random but it does tie in with Edward’s story, albeit in a very Silent Hill 2 ‘Pyramid Head’ kind of way. The enemy itself does a good job of looking creepy and I’ve gone out of my way to avoid it as much as possible. The main gripe I have with this enemy is how it was implemented.

In the spotlight

The problems arose when I ended up dying because I didn’t know I had to take cover behind the bookcase tucked into the corner of the room or I hid behind a corner and the enemy suddenly and randomly changed direction. It’s worth noting that you also can’t peek around corners or throw anything to create a distraction. Stood staring at a wall until an enemy leaves isn’t exactly what I’d call nailbiting tension. If I’d been able to peek round a corner to see the headlight barely missing me, or throw something so I could quickly dart past I would’ve found this enemy much scarier.

Puzzles mainly involve picking things up and carrying them to another location. Puzzles don’t always have to be complex riddles and matching odd keys with odd doors, so I didn’t have an issue with this…at first. About an hour in, I found myself having to locate and carry lion statues around a maze while avoiding the gaze of a giant. This isn’t too difficult as the area is fairly small and the giant is easy to spot. When you can actually see him. The lion statues take up a massive portion of the screen and you can’t run when you’re carrying them. I had to drop them and run more than once. Unfortunately, as they’re the same mudane grey as the rest of the map finding them again is a pain. There are no checkpoints mid-way so if you’re caught you have to start the whole segment again.

Something I was genuinely looking forward to was the ‘moral dilemmas’ Edward would find himself in. I use the term loosely as morality doesn’t really have anything to do with it. Everyone you have to judge had a hand in the incident that left Dormont in it’s dicrepid state, which began with the death of a child. Their parts in the tragedy vary from being directly involved to helping to cover it up. Some of them were easy to forgive, such as one of the children who was directly involved, who’s ‘harmless’ prank went too far. How could he have known what would happen? He was just a child himself, taking the grief of losing his brother out on other people.

Others are harder to overlook. The rest of those you must judge are adults, most of who used their positions of power to close the case or stop word of what happened reaching newspapers, but all have a family member who was involved. A couple stand out as truly horrible people. This is why I found the moral decisons irritating, If you condemn any of them you will get the bad ending.

You will also run into the occasional person in Dormont who is not involved in the incident, just trying to escape or keep themselves alive. One such person is a criminal trying to escape in a police car. He has a gun on his dashboard and police men aroud the car are dead. You can help him by finding and giving him the key in exchange for him lighting your way or you can ignite a fuel can next to the car and burn him alive. Is the fact that he has a gun proof enough that he killed the policemen? Kill any of these people and you will also get the bad ending. These decisions can come off as unbalanced and strange, just like the one above.

Decisions, decisions

The main mechanic I really enjoyed in the game was the ‘dream world’. Throughout the game you’ll come across portals you can use to travel to a different reality or location. Sometimes they’re your means of leaving the current area and heading to the next one. Other times, they’re an alternate version of the area you’re currently in. The shadow people don’t exist in this reality, so you’ll usually have to turn on a light switch you can’t get to, or pick up an item you need to take back with you. While I don’t think this was used to it’s full potential and the portals are blindingly bright, it’s an inspired idea that I enjoyed.

My eyes!

Graphics, Sound, and Performance

The game was made using Unity so it looks fine. As stated above, the characters look a little odd and there are some texture pops but the game otherwise delivers visually. The main star of the show is the lighting. From neon lights at an abandoned diner to moonlight passing through trees, it really lifts the atmosphere.

The music also adds to the atmosphere, even if it is a little cliche. Having a choir howl down your ear while you’re walking down a dark corridor or when you turn the corner to find shadow people staring at you always does the trick, but if you’re familair with horror games it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. There were a couple of bugs, such as picking up and throwing items making no sound.

Difficulty

The game has no difficulty settings or options. It has no combat and you can run faster than most of the enemies so there is no real sense of danger. The main issue comes from not knowing what to do or where to go next. Most of the items you need are hidden in drawers or lockers, or need to be found in the dream world, but some are hidden under pots or boxes.

Issues mentioned above, such as the lion statue maze, have led me to take a break from the game out of frustration. The main issue with any of the ‘carry item from point A to point B’ type of puzzle is that if you as much as caress the item against the wall or another item, you will drop it. This is a bit of a deal breaker for me when you’re carrying an item with an enemy in pursuit.

Another issue that had me struggling was trying to reach the light switches. Very often they’re on the same wall as the door you entered the room through. More than once I’ve got an insta-death by accidentally bumping a shadow person’s toe while shimmying sideways into the room, trying to get the interact prompt to pop up.

Aside from the ‘what do I do now?’ bumbling, the game is pretty easy, but that does little to ease the frustration.

Conclusion

Overall, Those Who Remain had some good ideas and freaky monents, but feels like it missed the mark. If there had been a stealth mechanic to deal with the monsters or a portable light source that required batteries to keep them at bay I would have found the game more enjoyable. If the morality feature of the game had been handled differently, where forgiving or condemning the wrong people affected the ending I would’ve found it less frustrating.

The story is an interesting one and is, truth be told, the only that kept me playing. If you’re into games with story and can look past the issues stated above then definitely give it a go, especially with the price. If you’re a horror fan like me looking for a spooky experience then perhaps give it a miss.

Verdict
An interesting story, decent atmosphere and inventive world-shifting bogged down with mediocrity and frustration makes for an average experience. For those looking for a true horror expereince, Those Who Remain is better off left behind.
4/10