Category: Reviews

Retro Monday: Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man.


This week for Retro Monday, I played Chalkitdown’s pick, “Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man”, an action platformer released in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. I’d never played this before, but I had heard good things about it. Well, lets start with how it looks. The style of the game is pretty great. The visuals are well done with the colour palette used being very effective. The sprites are all good also.

Now on to the gameplay and it’s got an interesting twist. You shoot your enemies, but that won’t kill them. You shoot them to stun them, which then allows you to walk up to them, and either jump on top of the enemies and press down and fire to spear them or up and fire if they are in the air above you. It’s a really cool mechanic, and it would be interesting to see something similar in more games.

The level design is also on point for the most part. The levels are side scrolling but some have verticality to them also. One issue I did have was in the water level (I think level 2-2). This was all vertical, which would be fine, but it scrolls downwards, causing you to drop into enemies you couldn’t possibly know were there.

Now as with most Retro Monday games, this is another I didn’t complete so I can only rate it on what I have played. I’ll be honest I really enjoyed it apart from a few things. The water level and a couple of the bosses, which can be a pain in the rump. All in all I’d say this is definitely worth a look and you could do a lot worse than this. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose.

Verdict: Recommended.

[embedyt][/embedyt]  *Warning Contains Explicit Language*



Retro Monday: Desert Strike


In the 90’s EA used to make a variety of games that they don’t seem to make now, one of those games series was the Strike games. There were 5 in total, but today we’re looking at Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, which coincidentally is also the very first game in the Strike series.

As a kid I remember sitting in my room, blowing up buildings, gunning down enemies and saving some good guys, basically I have fond memories of Desert Strike and really enjoyed it back in the day. Playing it again Monday though, I felt the game just wasn’t as good as I remembered, I only played the first level honestly the game is tough – and the game could improve from the second level on wards. Don’t get me wrong the controls are good and tight, the level design is fine. It’s just that the game seems to have too many things happening at once. By that I mean you’d be in the middle of a battle with some AAA’s and then your fuel will run low, you missiles will run out, you then have to leave the fight to go and find fuel barrels and ammo and go back to carry on. You also take damage really quickly, so to replenish your armour you need to rescue soldiers that are M.I.A and safely deliver them to a raft, it’s all good in theory, it just, to me, spoils the flow of the game. Now that’s said it’s still a good game, it’s great when you take out a reaper, or a load of AAA’s and few vehicles with rockets on them and a couple of grunts before taking out an airfield of its planes and buildings all while leaving craters in the desert sand, and as I have previously said the controls are spot on. I would definitely recommend playing the game if you’re interested in retro titles, it’s a good game that is quite difficult to master, but taking down the enemy is extremely satisfying.

Verdict: Recommend.

[embedyt][/embedyt] *Warning Contains Explicit Language*

Review: Titanfall 2


It wasn’t meant to be like this.

Titanfall 2 was meant to be a mess. It was meant to be another fast-paced shooter, with a multiplayer mode that ruined it’s predecessors and a tacked on campaign that would be, at best, a boring diversion. So what happened? How did a game launching between two of the biggest first-person shooters of the year turn out to be such an essential purchase?

The most unexpected surprise in Titanfall 2 is the singleplayer campaign. What was expected to be a token gesture to those who bemoaned it’s absence in the original game, has somehow managed to be one of the most engaging and memorable of recent times. It’s Respawn reminding everyone of just how accomplished they are at crafting a campaign that is full of memorable moments and set-pieces. All this backed up with smooth, intuitive controls and surprisingly good writing.

The relationship the main character develops with their Titan, BT-7274, is both genuine and heartfelt. What could have very easily came across as forced and cliche, develops quite naturally during the 5-6 hours of the story. The selectable dialogue options you have when conversing, allow you to create the illusion of some real back and forth banter. As the game progresses, BT slowly begins to become more in sync with the player, even beginning to respond to and participate in some of the jokes. It’s a well constructed relationship, and while there are few surprises in how the story plays out it manages to create a genuine emotional connection to the character.

This is further cemented by some truly great level design. Over the course of eight missions, Respawn have managed to craft a hugely impressive game. Each mission essentially has it’s own gameplay premise. The first focuses heavily on wallrunning and training the player how to navigate the environments. The second introduces Titans. What really impresses is that later levels will introduce new mechanics, for example a gun that is used to power up equipment, and run with it. You’ll start off slowly, getting used to what each of these mechanics brings. Then, by the end of the mission, just as you’ve mastered it and things threaten to get repetitive it throws it away. It’s a bold, Nintendo-esque move, meaning that every mission has it’s own unique feel. No more so than mid-point mission “Effect and Cause” which is such a joy to play through and discover that I’ll say no more about it here. Suffice to say the mechanic it introduces slowly evolves over the course of the mission to an utterly fantastic and satisfying crescendo. If anything it makes the remainder of the campaign slightly dull by comparison, though it’s still immensely fun.

So the campaign is a beautiful, wonderful surprise. A reminder in these multiplayer focused times, that there is still much that can be done with a linear, scripted experience. If there are any criticisms to be given it’s that it does feel quite short. Five to six hours is not a lot of time, and it does feel like another couple of missions would have helped to alleviate that. In terms of the story though it does what it sets out to do without an ounce of filler. As the setup for more games in this universe it absolutely succeeds, though on it’s own it would be hard to justify the £50 price tag.

Luckily then it’s only part of the package. Multiplayer is absolutely Titanfalls main focus, and it returns here in stunning form, though it has received some tweaks.

It still follows the now well worn formula of gaining XP (Merits in this case) which level up every single aspect of your Pilot, Titan, Weapons and Abilities. This allows you to customise your pilot loadouts however you like, creating custom setups for bespoke situations. Titan’s however have lost a lot of customisation options.

There are a few abilities that can be swapped out, but for the most part they don’t change too much. This is compensated for with the increased number of Titan classes, each of which fulfills a specific role. There’s Scorch, who can deal massive damage as well as control the play space with his incendiary and thermite attacks. Ronin is fast and designed to get up close an personal with other Titans, while Legion is the very definition of a walking Fortress. Slow but extremely durable and powerful. It helps with identifying what you’re up against on the battlefield, meaning you’re more likely to know how to proceed.

Burn Cards, the once and done power-ups from the original game have gone, to be replaced by Boost’s. These abilities can be activated once the Titanfall meter reaches a specific point, giving the player further tools to aid them during a fight. Maphack, Smart Pistol and deployable sentries are just a few of those available.

In the game itself Titans no-longer have the regenerating shields they benefitted from in the first game. Instead, rodeo attacks on enemy Titans allow pilots to steal a battery from them. This has the benefit of stripping the enemy of a chunk of energy, giving the attacking pilot a boost to their Titanfall meter and, if they can get the battery to a friendly Titan, a boost to that Titan’s shield. It’s an interesting change and it encourages Pilots to get in close to enemy Titans more often. As a counter though, every Titan now has the Electric Smoke ability so Pilots are easily stopped by an alert Titan Pilot.

As a whole it still plays as well as the first game. Hardpoint and Attrition seem to have the lions share of the players, but additional modes such as  Bounty Hunt, Last Titan Standing and the Colisseum add variety for those who are looking for it. The maps so far are probably the weakest point for the game. None of them are bad, but there’s no stand out “Great” maps either. Future maps and modes are all coming for free though and with Angel City from the original title promised for December, we can hopefully look forward to the line-up of stages only getting better with time.

So as a whole Titanfall 2 is impossible not to recommend. It won’t be for those who prefer more tactical, considered shooters, but for anyone else it’s going to be money well spent. The singleplayer Campaign is an absolute joy and a pleasant reminder that the minds behind Modern Warfare know exactly how to marry smooth gameplay and level design into a memorable experience. Topping it off with a refreshingly different type of multiplayer from it’s contemporaries makes this one of the best shooters of 2016. Hopefully it’ll be able to show the staying power that it’s predecessor lacked.

Titanfall 2 is out now on XB1, PS4 and PC (Origin)
PS4 Version Reviewed

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