SNK CORPORATION is proud to announce the launch of SAMURAI SHODOWN (Currently available for PlayStation®4/ Xbox One/ Nintendo SwitchTM/ Stadia/ and the Epic Games Store) on the next-gen consoles Xbox Series X|S coming March, 16th, 2021! In cooperation with Koch Media, a physical edition is going to hit the shelves in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Oceania, Australia and New Zealand at the same date.
Since its creation in 1993, the SAMURAI SHODOWN series, known for its breath-taking battles and stunning characters, has redefined weapon-based fighting games. In 2019 – 11 years after the last installment – SAMURAI SHODOWN continued this tradition.
The new game is set in 18th century Japan, three years before the original game and sees the return of thirteen fan favourite characters. They are joined by three brand new characters. Among those are SAMURAI SHODOWN III protagonist Shizumaru Hisame joins the fight alongside GONGSUN LI from the massively popular mobile game Honor of Kings. Additional characters are available via Season Pass 1 and 2, with the third one slated to be released in February 2021. Classic Samurai Shodown concepts like the Rage Gauge, Lightning Blade, and Super Special Moves also made their return and allow players to turn the tables on their enemies even as they are close to death.
On March 16th, 2021, the latest installment in the series will be released on Xbox Series X|S. On Xbox Series X, the game will run at a smooth 120 FPS. Owners of the previous-gen version of the game will be able to play the game on Series X|S without any additional costs thanks to Smart Delivery, purchased DLCs will also be transferable.
For all fans of fighting games who like to add the latest edition of SAMURAI SHOWDOWN to their physical collection, Koch Media will publish the boxed version which is offering attractive bonuses to enjoy: The Season Pass 1, which includes 4 characters and a costume, and also the brand new character Cham Cham is going to join the huge roster of fighters as soon as the respective DLC is released. The physical version will be available for purchase at participating online retailers and in stores.
Both the physical and digital edition of SAMURAI SHODOWN on Xbox Series X|S will be priced at $59.99/€54.99/£49.99.
Nintendo will be happy as the momentum for Animal Cross New Horizons is still going strong and no signs of letting up. Nintendo have dominated the boxed sales this week, though they have seen some decline in percentages per title. Obviously, do take into consideration that some of the Switch games that are in the top 10 have been on sale via the eShop. The figure combined with physical would be more and would be interesting to find out. Of course we have new games incoming soon as we have reached the halfway point in January already.
February and March are looking good months for Nintendo once again. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury Feb 12th, Persona 5 Strikers for Switch and PS4 in Feb and Bravely Default 2 in Feb, and lastly Monster Hunter Rise for Switch in March.
PlayStation do have new IP Returnal coming in March. Will that prove to be a hit? It looks rather interesting as it has the Alien vibe going for me personally.
In the first story DLC for Gears 5, we witness the beginnings of Team Scorpio, from their formation to taking the fight straight to the Swarm.
If you haven’t read the Hivebusters comic, this DLC is the perfect introduction to the characters of Team Scorpio and how it came to fruition. We start off with our team in a Condor transport heading to the island of Pahanu, ignorant of what their mission is. This is where we are first introduced to Keegan, a member of the Onyx Guard serving at Azsura; if you played Gears 3, the background lore relating to this character will pique your interest. Secondly we have Lahni, whose personality, family and heritage we learn about over the course of the story. And finally Mac, the foul-mouthed Irishman, whose human side emerges as Team Scorpio develops.
One thing I will hand to the Gears games is the chemistry between all characters. It’s so perfect and believable, yet quite relatable. When the chips are down and backs against the wall, you find this resilience to overcome any challenge, even if the odds are heavily against you.
Three new arrivals join the cast to Gears 5. Fan favourite COL. Hoffman returns, and it’s about god damn time too. (See what I did there? No? Urrgggh, nevermind…) And Hana Cole, daughter of Augustus “Cole Train” Cole. She’s leading the science in this one and will no doubt give Baird a run for his technical know-how too. And lastly, Taka the pilot.
Without spoiling the story too much, Hivebusters is the origin story of Team Scorpio and the development of the venom to kill off the Swarm, spread over a roughly 3-hour campaign – though hunting down the 23 collectibles and upgrading all of your abilities will likely extend this by a fair amount. It’s an action-packed, story-driven plot that ties in nicely to the base game, making Escape (multiplayer) mode both more appealing and easier to understand.
Graphics, Sound, and Performance
Hivebusters DLC is actually quite remarkable looking. Throughout the course of the game you visit a variety of environments, from colourful island vistas to going underground, and even riding a eruption of lave from exploded volcano. It’s pure eye candy, and the Series X handles it like a wet dream.
The sound is top notch with its different type themes, especially being on a island. Not just when fighting against the Swarm, but the wildlife itself, other enemies and of course the new beast you encounter. If they don’t add the new beast as a boss in Horde or Escape, people should riot!
Performance was stable and fantastic throughout.
Just like any game, Hivebusters can get tough on the higher difficulty settings! Of course, you can play 3 player co-op the same as in the main campaign of Gears 5. Certain areas provide a greater challenge, such as one specific section that consists of defending against a wave of Swarm before moving to the next checkpoint. Insane difficulty should be a good ride, but don’t expect it to be a walk in the park.
Seeing as this is the first DLC for Gears 5, the Coalition have done a great job. Believe it or not, I find myself more inclined to pick Keegan, Lahni or Max in multiplayer going forward. Before I wasn’t that interested in them as characters, however the DLC has given us a great trio with rich background stories that you can’t help but relate to. Not only that but I also find myself wanting to play Escape mode more too. The DLC is so good, it leaves you wanting more and I really do hope the Hivebusters gets a further expansion or even a spin-off title of its own.
Verdict It’s the best piece of add on content that I have played for sometime. Gears 5 fell a little short after Act 2 in terms of its story, however Hivebusters was hands-down a phenomenal experience throughout.
Developer | Publisher: Splash Damage/The Coalition, Microsoft Game Studios
Age Rating: PEGI 18 | ESRB M for Mature
Price: UK £54.99 or via game pass| US $59.99 or via game pass
Release Date: 10th of November
12 years before the events of the first Gears of War. Cities around the planet of Sera are falling to a monstrous threat, the Locust Horde. We step in the boots as Gabe Diaz, fighting for survival, recruiting fellow Gears on one suicide squad mission, kill the Locust and its head, Ukkon.
We take control of Gabe Diaz, a once decorated COG solider, until shit turned sour at Gatka Ridge. Of course you don’t necessarily need to play any Gears game prior to Tactics. Though it would help in the background and the events that will happen after Tactics, is a hardcore Gear fan wet dream.
The COG (Coalition of Ordered Government’s) has sent Sid Redburn to seek out Gabe Diaz, a now mechanic and demoted to Sgt from the events against the UIR. From the get-go Gabe dislikes the COG hierarchy, especially Chairman Prescott. As times goes on throughout the campaign, you will see Gabe and Sid bond quite well. Not on the Marcus and Dom friendship/brotherhood scale, but enough to make it believable.
Gabe and his squad have one clear mission, kill Ukkon. With no support and completely off the grid. Gabe and Co have to adapt, survive and work as a team to overcome the threat Ukkon poses. With this suicide mission bestow upon him. Its one hell of a ride and another great story added to the Gearsverse. I don’t want to spoil the whole plot, but you get the gist of it all. Its typical styled action story which we experience near enough all the time with such media as film and other games of course.
Tactics continues the great story telling of what previous Gears games have done. Even though Gears 5 kinda went off the rails after Act 2 (my personal opinion of course) Tactics makes up for it and keeps me wanting more.
The big change when it comes to Tactics is the gameplay. Moving away from the staple of run and gun, cover and chainsawing the Locust or swarm now. Tactics is literally what it says Tactics. Taking the X-COM formula, which is superb and easy for console players to pick up and play. Experiencing Gears in a new way plays off quite massively.
You do get the option of permanently losing characters who you will recruit along the way. Just like the X-COM games, you will have to micro-manage, level up squad members and upgrade their gear. Not once did I feel overwhelmed when at first I thought I would be. Completely the opposite I might add. When you see your actions paying off and you end up mowing down the Locust Horde in front of you. It’s a great feeling, not in a sadistic sense of course… Just a great feeling that your ‘tactics’ is paying off and the survival of your squad has increased to see another day.
Throughout missions you will encounter caches on the floor. Pick these up as you unearth some rare gear for the squad be that armour, weapon mods etc. Again, each mission will allow you to select your squad. Which in turn can be a bad thing. Some members of the squad will be forever benched as you will continue to use the 4 guys who are way ahead in stats, to overcome each forthcoming mission. Each solider class is different and unique with their own set of skills, abilities and locked to certain weapons. It’s entirely upto you how you kit out your squad and tackle each mission. If you dislike the look of a certain solider you have recruited. You can alter their appearance to your liking too, adding more customization and giving the players even more options of choice at your disposal. The classes are Support, Sniper, Vanguard, Scout and Heavy. Having one of each class in your squad is the best course of action, as you cannot go wrong.
Make sure to balance out your thrown items too for a tip. Having two members with frags and stim grenades will be a good asset for you. Some missions you can be pitted against the wall, but then again it isn’t exactly overwhelming, though it can be when the grubs come knocking.
Graphics, Sound, and Performance
Tactics is a stunning game. It isn’t mind blowing granted, yet it is good looking. A game that released on PC back in April of this year and now released on the Xbox Series X/S and One. I hardly see that much difference from console to PC. However these things can change when playing on a native 4K TV to see the benefits of a next gen console.
Sound, music score is top notch. It’s what I expect of a Gears game with a orchestrated military type music to supplement the sounds of lancer rounds and the shrieking Locust when they eat bullets.
Performance has been ok and steady. A few cut scenes did see some of the characters losing their arms and some stuttering, which I did find amusing but at the same time, how did that get missed on initial bug reporting duty before launching a game already out.
Gears Tactics can be very difficult. If you don’t use your head and plan accordingly, you can severely butt hurt yourself in great fashion. It’s having the right approach, cover all flanking positions and using overwatch can allow you to flank, push ahead and allow the Locust to fall into your trap, if you have one. Selecting a harder difficult is a true test of mental strength. And good on you to try too.
If you are after another Gears game then please check Tactics out. It is on game pass too! It’s a refreshing game and different from the norm when playing Tactics. It still keeps the ethos that the Gears games bring with it.
Verdict It’s grub killing time, but tactically. Get your thinking cap on Sgt, as it’s time to deliver boots to backsides.