Games Inbox: Best Xbox One and PS4 exclusives, Smash Bros. Ultimate spirits, and Max Payne 4

Halo 5: Guardians - does it matter how good it is?

Halo 5: Guardians – what’s the best Xbox One exclusive?

The evening Inbox questions Sony’s approach to backwards compatibility, as one reader discovers a PSVR bargain at Asda.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

 



Top Threes

In response to Sonda’s letter, I would say that, as of writing, the game of the generation still has to be Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, just due to how huge that game was and how much it did for the Switch. However, I find it quite telling that two of the biggest games this generation (Breath Of The Wild and God Of War) both changed the formula of the games before, whilst still holding on to what makes the series great.

But on the topic of top threes, I ask: what would you say the top three exclusives of each console are? I’m not too confident on the Xbox One, and I don’t own a PlayStation 4, so I can’t say much on that, but for the Switch, I would say Breath Of The Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Splatoon 2.
Jacze

GC: That sounds about right for the Switch, especially if you discount Wii U ports.

 



Arch nemesis

Thinking about Smash Bros. recently has me intrigued with the number of villains getting introduced and the fact that every single character has their own classic mode set of specific characters to face. Which leads me to believe that every character must have some sort of pre-Master Hand boss they will face.

Which means the rumours of Skull Kid could be true, Young Link needs a boss to face after all. But potentially there would need to be many more characters as Olimar and Captain Falcon, as just two examples, are the only representatives in their series. But knowing how crazy Sakurai is, anything is possible!
Mr foreign Warren
PS: 2064: Read Only Memories recently got released on the eShop and as visual novel fans, I wondered if you are taking a look as it is something I would like to pick up when I get through my other 15 Switch backlog.

GC: There definitely seems to be something in that. Also, we have to apologise to the reader who wrote in about the ghost-related game mode theory, as it seems he might actually have been on the money after all. As for 2064, it’s Gamescom next week so we’re not sure we’re going to have time for it.

 



Instant collection

I’d be genuinely surprised if PlayStation 5 wasn’t backwards compatible with PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR.

I don’t think I’m alone in going into a new gen for the first time with a mostly digital collection of games, a large one too. Including 105 instant game collection games it’s 250 games, I have literally years of great games to play. A simple and easy incentive for Sony to retain me as a customer is to provide me access to that large collection on their new machine.

I think they will need to offer incentives like that as well, in light of the competition raising their game significantly since the start of the gen when Sony had a clear track for some time. Sony totally deserve their dominance this gen, they’ve easily put out the best product in my opinion, but I think they will find the start of the next gen far more competitive.
Simundo Jones

GC: Sony’s logic has always been that they try to encourage new sales by discouraging playing previous gen games on new consoles. But if we had to guess, we’d go with you and say they’re probably likely to change their tune this time.

 

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

 



Max redemption

I watched the Red Dead Redemption II gameplay trailer the other day and was blown away by it!

Then I watched a few videos from various sites going through the trailer, pointing out things we might have missed, and almost all of them made a comment about the action going straight into gameplay seamlessly from a cut scene. And the bit where he holds a shotgun and switches to it from using a revolver. It seems to me like everyone has forgotten Rockstar nailed all this six years ago with the awesome Max Payne 3.

I was just surprised that I haven’t seen anyone recognise this.

What are the chances of us getting another Max Payne, GC?
Skill Influx (gamertag)

GC: That’s hard to say because Rockstar’s entire attitude to game development changed drastically with the success of a GTA V. Red Dead Redemption II will be the first game since then so it’s hard to say how they feel about their other, less successful, franchises now.

 



Visual difference

RE: Middlemiester. Native 4K all the way for me over 60fps. I tried the PlayStation 3 remaster
of God Of War 2 at 60fps just after playing it on PlayStation 2 at 30fps and could not honestly tell
the difference. Also tried this with last gen version of DmC and the definitive edition at 60fps and there was no difference to me.

I thought that Gears Of War on the Xbox One was at 60fps as it felt so smooth to play but
a Google search told in just ran at 30fps, which left me quite surprised.

Also can’t tell the difference between the mainline Forza games usually at 60fps and their Horizon
variants which are locked at 30fps so I’d rather have the impressive looking 4K visuals were I can see a significant improvement.
Chaosphere616 (gamertag)

 



Pass it on

Digital sales are rife on Xbox at the moment. Battlefield 1 has an 85% discount, which I purchased for a measly £5.25. And it has just received an Xbox One X patch! It really is a strong argument for going digital only. The only thing missing is digital trade-ins for store credit and game gifting games you own, not just new purchases.

Being able to pass on the digital ownership of completed games to friends would be a major step towards convincing more gamers to go digital-only. I could get rid of No Man’s Sky then! No offence to fans of the game, too much of a grind-fest for my taste.
Anon

 



Absolutely fabulous

Though it’s been slow progress, I have to say I’m really enjoying God Of Four, I mean God Of War. Always annoying when that happens, even in movies. But that’s not my point.

Once I had finished restoring Alfheim, I kind of thought it had a She-Ra, Crystal Castle vibe going on. Lots of gold, bright clean space, that Celtic knot kind of architecture. It was so strangely girly for such an uber-macho game. Not unwelcome, quite fabulous, in fact.
DMR

 

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

 



Stuffed fridge

Thanks to a recent change of jobs, I’ve suddenly found myself able to splash out a bit and have replaced my loyal, but sadly no more, PlayStation 3 with a PS4 Pro. I’m pretty happy with it, and I’m enjoying being able to pick up all the games I’ve seen come out over the years that I’ve not been able to previously afford for seriously good prices (Doom, Titanfall 2, and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst were all under £10 – I actually feel so guilty, like I’ve personally robbed those developers…)

However, this lovely new console, with its 1TB of storage is nearly 75% full already. I’ve only had the thing a month! Yes, I’ve apparently bought 16 games for it in that time, but one of the downsides to this new job is I work a lot harder and for longer, so I’ve had very little time to play. So far I’ve only been able to have swift run throughs of Doom and Titanfall and am halfway through Uncharted 4, and so my save data files are very small.

To my knowledge the games aren’t fully installed (I need the discs in the drive to play anything for starters) but all the patches and updates have been like an avalanche. I don’t think my feeble broadband has ever had to work so hard. My 80GB PlayStation 3 needed a bigger hard drive after about maybe four years, but after I put a 320GB one in it was fine until it died and I had over 60 games by the end. I’m pretty sure it was only just over half full too. If I didn’t know better I’d say I had a virus or something, but no, apparently this generation really is just full games as patches, with download codes on Blu-rays.

I was thinking of picking up No Man’s Sky at some point now it’s been patched up, but I’m fearful I’ll need a whole hard drive just for one game! What on Earth has gone so wrong that every developer needs such huge updates for everything? I shudder to think what a download-only future would be like: we’d all need petabyte drives as standard. You don’t seem to get this nonsense from Nintendo on the Switch.
yourhomeisatrisk (PSN ID)
Currently trying to play: Uncharted 4 and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

GC: The Switch internal storage is tiny? And some third party games don’t even run from a cartridge without extra downloads.

 



Inbox also-rans

Shame about the Phantom Doctrine… Fortunately I’ve just bought and started playing XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen! So good.
Matt Kirk.

GC: It’s still far from a bad game, although it might be best waiting for it to go on sale.

Just a quick mention that Asda have the PlayStation VR headset for £199 in their sale.
Ian F

GC: Wow, that’s good.

 



This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Franky, who asks what’s the one game annoucement you never expect to hear?

With Gamescom coming up next week what’s the one thing you’re confident won’t be revealed? Whether it’s a sequel, reboot, or some kind of hardware annoucement what do you think is the least likely, without being completely silly.

What annoucement have you given up any hope of hearing about and why do you think it’ll never happen? What’s the most surprised you’ve ever been by an annoucement and how did the final product turn out?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

 

The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

If you need quick access to the GameCentral channel page please use www.metro.co.uk/games and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

THQ Nordic buys TimeSplitters and Second Sight

TimeSplitters 2 - an overlooked classic?

TimeSplitters 2 – is there finally going to be a new one?

For the first time in years there’s real hope there might be a new TimeSplitters, and maybe even a Second Sight 2 if fans are really lucky.

Strap yourself down because we’re about to embark on one of the complex and difficult tasks we’ve ever attempted: explaining the history of TimeSplitters.

TimeSplitters was a PlayStation 2 launch game by British developer Free Radical Design, a then new studio made up of many veterans from GoldenEye 007 on the N64.

The 2000 original was very much focused on multiplayer and as such was years ahead of its time in terms of console-based first person shooters. But it was never that successful and although it did get two multiformat sequels neither were they.

The last game was in 2005 and three years later Free Radical Design went bust but were saved from oblivion by Crysis publisher Crytek. However, in 2014 Crytek themselves got into financial trouble and they ended up selling Free Radical to Koch Media.

Things get a bit hazy here, as it seems at this point Crytek hung onto TimeSplitters and Free Radical’s other games. And so while Koch got the developer they didn’t have the rights to their old games.

At this point Free Radical technically became a new company called Dambuster Studios and then further upheaval occurred when THQ Nordic bought Koch Media earlier this year (are you still following?).

The whole sorry story seems to have a happy ending though, as  today THQ Nordic has announced that they’ve acquired the rights to the TimeSplitters trilogy and Second Sight back from Crytek.

Haze, Free Radical’s other game, wasn’t part of the deal but that’s probably because a) it was published by Ubisoft and b) it’s rubbish.

Unfortunately, the extremely brief press release doesn’t give any clue as to what THQ Nordic is going to do with the rights but recently they’ve been releasing remasters of all sorts of old games from other companies they’ve acquired, ranging from Darksiders to de Blob.

While most fans would probably want them to just skip ahead to a new TimeSplitters a remaster of Second Sight would be very welcome.

It was released in 2004, between the two TimeSplitters sequels, and while a sales flop it’s fondly remembered as a highly original stealth action game, with strong storytelling and some fun psychic powers.

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Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout beta start date announced

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 - If you blinked you would've missed this bit

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 – Blackout is coming soon

The first ever Battle Royale mode in Call Of Duty will be available to play from early September and you won’t even need a new download.

The regular Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 beta has only just finished but Activision is already pushing the one for Blackout – the game’s brand new Battle Royale mode.

They already said it would be in September, but now they’ve given it a specific start date of Monday, September 10.

Although as ever with Call Of Duty everything is horribly complicated by the fact that PlayStation 4 owners get first dibs, and a date for Xbox One and PC gamers hasn’t been revealed yet.

But I’ll almost certainly be just a few days later.

The beta will run from the same beta client as the standard multiplayer, which will be automatically updated once the start date gets close.

As to what the beta which include, the video above is the only information we have so far and it’s not very explicit beyond promising solo, duos, and quads options.

But then we have very little information on Battle Royale in general, with the only real look at the mode so far being a few seconds at the end of the multiplayer beta’s trailer.

Those precious few seconds still managed to show an impressive array of useable vehicles though, as well as what looks like a desert-themed world map.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 itself will be released on October 12 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

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Games Inbox: God Of War the game of the generation, the death of Dishonored, and 60fps vs. 4K

God Of War (PS4) - not your typical sequel

God Of War – the best game since the Xbox 360 era?

The morning Inbox wants Bethesda to make a Nintendo Switch exclusive, as one reader wants suggestions for the best Switch downloads.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

 



Top three

A little late to the party here, but at least it’s given me something to get through the summer games drought. I’ve just beaten the Queen of the Valkyrie on God Of War and I think I’ve finally squeezed the last trips of entertainment out of it. And what can I say but what a game! I knew it was going to be good because of the reviews but having disliked the originals, and particularly the character of Kratos, I was still dubious.

But this really felt like gaming growing up, giving a one-dimensional edgelord of a character a real personality and emotions. I actually liked Kratos by the end of the game and I am shocked by that. I can’t believe he actually took the moral high ground when Atreus went off on one and by the end he wanted to actively do good and help people.

That all sounds kind of sappy when I put it like that but in the game he still manages to be a total badass and yet very sympathetic too. And all of the story is got across with a minimum of cut scenes and exposition. I actually really liked listening to the head when you’re rowing about, so much so that I would hang around just to hear the end.

I’ve heard the term used a few times but my question is whether God Of War is the game of the generation? It’s a real question too because I think the other main contenders would be Nintendo games and since I haven’t got a Switch I can’t offer an opinion. But that makes God Of War at least top three, right?
Sonda

 



Dishonourable discharge

I see that Dishonored has recently been described as ‘resting for now’, which translated probably means we’ve seen the last of it. It’s a shame as both main games and Death Of The Outsider were all excellent and the Steampunk setting was genuinely different.

I do wonder how different things for the franchise might have been if the second one in particular had gotten a late summer release, when new games are a bit sparse, rather than a congested November.

A bigger concern might be the fate of Arkane Studios in the long run, as I don’t think Prey was particularly successful either. If they survive I’d imagine their next effort will be some kind of multiplayer only game as a service, I’m just not expecting it to be either of those two.
Mr.Saveloy

GC: You’re probably right on most counts, although we think Arkane will be given a fair chance with some multiplayer-featured games before being put at risk.

 



Double dipping

Does anyone else do this? Please tell me yes. I own a PlayStation 4 and an Xbox One. Sometimes, if it’s a good bargain, I buy a game I already own because I like a bargain.

So far, off the top of my head, I have two copies of Evil Within, Diablo III, Batman: Arkham Origins, Tomb Raider (both of ‘em), Prey, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, BioShock Trilogy, Shadow of Mordor, and honestly I could go on and on. I like the convenience of digital sales but it’s feeding my compulsive need to bag a bargain. Please tell me I’m not alone.
TheRatman5469 (gamertag)/TheRatman (PSN ID)

GC: You mean a game you already own but only physically, yes?

 

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

 



Download list

I have recently invested in a Switch and think it is amazing. I’m looking to download some indie games like Yoku’s Island Express and Axiom Verge. Which out of Hollow Knight, Salt And Sanctuary, or Dead Cells would you recommend?

Are there any decent arcade shooters like R-Type, Gradius, Hellfire, Thunder Force, etc. Is there any likelihood of a compilation of shooters or would it mean to many companies getting involved?
Mattpat

GC: All those indie games you mention are good, but we’d give the slight edge to Hollow Knight. 2D shooters aren’t a Switch speciality but it does have Ikaruga, Strikers 1945 II, Steredenn: Binary Stars, and a few arcade/Neo Geo ports like Metal Slug and Terra Cresta. We love the idea of a 2D shooter compilation featuring different franchise but couldn’t see it ever happening.

 



Curb your enthusiasm

What I liked about the new gameplay trailer for Red Dead Redemption II is that Rockstar clearly forked out for a better narrator than the one they used for GTA Online’s reveal. Remember that? The woman was hilariously robotic.

‘This-is-a-game-that-will-have-things-in-it-and-places-that-you-can-go. There-will-be-things-you-can-do-and-innovatively-innovative-gameplay.’ That’s probably enough hyphens for one day. Needless to say, the woman’s enthusiasm was infectious.
DMR

GC: We’re not sure it’s not just the same one but with new batteries.

 



The odd couple

I didn’t realise Doom Eternal was already announced for Switch, that is an impressive amount of support Bethesda is showing for Nintendo. Of all the third companies around I never would’ve matched those two up, but it’s nice to see. But what I’d really like is if Bethesda did something exclusive for Switch, like Ubisoft has done on occasion.

I don’t know what kind of game that would be but maybe some kind of immersive sim (I know GC hate that term, but at least you know what I mean!) but with a more colourful, comedic angle? Maybe that’s what Arkane could do as their next project, now that Dishonored seems to be dead?

I’d also really like to see the Skyrim avatar in Super Smash Bros. Although I’d also really like to see a Dark Souls rep as well and I don’t know that they’d do both. Maybe the compromise could be Doomguy and Solaire of Astora?
Duggan

 



Music to your ears

On Dakka’s requests for which Castlevanias to play, personally I would recommend just sticking to Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, and pretty much any of the Game Boy Advance titles. Those were really good on average.
aelfin

Just in response to Dakka’s letter RE: Castlevania. If you have an Xbox 360, Symphony Of The Night is available on there. Or it’s on backwards compatibility on Xbox One!
Anon

 

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

 



Already happened

Just wondering what everyone’s predictions will be as to when we will hear about developers being sent PlayStation 5 development kits?

My guess is around late 2020 mid 2021 as the PlayStation 4 and the PS4 Pro will of lost their momentum and next gen will be much closer. Although this is still far off it won’t be long before we see PlayStation 5 games in the very early stages of development.

I must admit though that I can’t see Sony offering PlayStation 4 backwards compatibility unless they use their games streaming service, although it should be possible to at least run digital versions of PlayStation format classics.

One thing I am really curious about though is what hardware architecture Sony will be using in the PlayStation 5 development kits when they eventually do ship these out.
gaz be rotten (gamertag)

GC: Rumours suggest they were sent out to some studios earlier this year.

 



Inbox also-rans

A question for GC or any readers. If you could choose 4K HDR or a locked 60fps on current consoles which would you pick? I have a 4K TV but find 60fps has a genuine impact on gameplay so would choose that.
Middlemiester

Insurgency is currently free on Steam at time of writing (Tuesday evening).
Andrew J.
PS: That was interesting news about The Chinese Room being bought by Sumo. I quite like Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture and Dear Esther.
Currently playing: Yoku’s Island Express, NieR: Automata and Ace Attorney: Spirit Of Justice

 



This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Franky, who asks what’s the one game annoucement you never expect to hear?

With Gamescom coming up next week what’s the one thing you’re confident won’t be revealed? Whether it’s a sequel, reboot, or some kind of hardware annoucement what do you think is the least likely, without being completely silly.

What annoucement have you given up any hope of hearing about and why do you think it’ll never happen? What’s the most surprised you’ve ever been by an annoucement and how did the final product turn out?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

 

The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

If you need quick access to the GameCentral channel page please use www.metro.co.uk/games and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Phantom Doctrine review – from XCOM with love

Phantom Doctrine (PS4) - the man from XCOM

Phantom Doctrine (PS4) – the man from XCOM

Stealth is more important than action in this new turn-based strategy that puts the outcome of the Cold War in your hands.

Phantom DoctrineGame review: Phantom Doctrine is XCOM meets James Bond

Turn-based strategy games are so rare nowadays that to have a new example of any kind seems like a blessing. But while the XCOM reboot never triggered the genre renaissance we were hoping for there has at least been a minor resurgence, from the surprisingly good Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle to the upcoming Advance Wars clone WarGroove and the promise of a new Fire Emblem next year. Even the lesser known Jagged Alliance announced a new sequel just this week. But the one thing Phantom Doctrine has over all these is that it takes the genre in a genuinely new direction.

There’s no doubt what a huge influence XCOM has been on Phantom Doctrine – the mix of turn-based tactical combat and higher-level strategy is almost identical – but by switching the setting, from sci-fi action to Cold War era spying, Phantom Doctrine manages to look and feel completely different. It’s a trick many copycat games from other genres never seem to learn but, despite some rough edges, it’s one Phantom Doctrine leverages perfectly.

Surprisingly though, one of the weakest elements is the plot. You’d think decades of spy stories, not to mention the reality of the Cold War, would’ve provided plenty of inspiration but the story behind the missions is surprisingly vague and unengaging. You can choose to play as an ex-CIA or KGB agent (or a third option unlocked once you beat the game) but whichever you pick you’re still working for the same secret spy agency facing off against its villainous counterpart.

We’ll be generous and put the story problems down to the procedurally-generated content which, just like XCOM, means that most levels and missions are created fresh each time you play them. You get some pre-mission hints as to what you’ll be up against, and which agents would be best to take, but once you’re on the ground you have to think on your feet and decide whether you’re going to play it like Rambo or James Bond.

In theory you can shoot your way out of most situations but the rewards, in terms of both gameplay and progression, are much greater if you play like an actual spy. After all, you won’t be tailing any enemy agents back to their base if you gun them down the second you see them.

In many missions you can move around freely as long as you don’t do anything suspicious or enter into a restricted area, although you’re always limited by the fact that you can only move a certain distance and perform a limited number of actions per term.

Although it does have genre standards like overwatch (where if you do nothing on your turn you can take action on the enemy’s) Phantom Doctrine does deviate from them in a number of important ways, most obviously in the fact that there’s no random element when aiming. Instead, each character (and enemy) uses a resource called Awareness that is consumed whenever you perform an action and which also determines whether you’re able to dodge or minimise damage from enemy attacks.

Phantom Doctrine (PS4) - take your turns carefully

Phantom Doctrine (PS4) – take your turns carefully

The Awareness meter is a neat idea (especially as many characters have an ability that refills it when they take some time out) and the fact that it means prolonged combat is almost impossible to survive is clearly purposeful. And yet the fact that even cannon fodder nobodies can hit your agents from the other side of the map with 100% accuracy, at seemingly impossible angles, is as implausible as it is frustrating.

There are other, less contentious, new ideas though, such as the option to recon a map before you start and insert agents in full disguise or unseen support staff that can spot or snipe for you. Bodies can be hidden away if you take the time and disguises can last an entire level if you’re careful about it, ensuring you get away without a shot fired.

The base-building element between missions is one of the more surprising steals from XCOM and initially bewildering even to a veteran of the genre. It doesn’t explain itself well but once you get the hang of it researching new equipment, rewarding agents with new abilities, and expanding your facilities all become second nature. As does some of the more advanced options, such as brainwashing your own sleeper agents and then getting super paranoid that the enemy has done the same to your team…

Your base can even be attacked by enemies, again just like XCOM, but one unique aspect is trying to piece together clues on a corkboard. Everything is procedurally-generated though, which means matching up codenames discovered from recovered documents doesn’t require any real brain power and the novelty of the exercise quickly turns into unwanted busywork.

Like XCOM it’s entirely possible to play Phantom Doctrine for hours and still lose at the end of it all, since you’re not playing linear missions but picking them manually from a world map and allowing their outcome – good or bad – to influence the rest of the story and your own resources. You can also never take on every possible mission and have to constantly make hard decisions that cannot be undone.

But while the game does maintain a heady Cold War atmosphere through its gameplay it’s not aided terribly well by the graphics. Although inanimate objects are acceptable from a distance human characters are barely PlayStation 2 quality – while the semi-animated cut scenes look like something from a SNES game. That’d be fine if this was a no-budget indie game but Phantom Doctrine is surprisingly expensive and the low-fi visuals spoil the fun of dressing your characters up in terrible ‘80s fashion.

Phantom Doctrine is a mixed bag then, and exactly how much you enjoy it will depend greatly on how well you accept the unusual rules of combat. Which in turn is related to how willing you are to play the game as an actual spy and not a trigger-happy XCOM soldier. Either way it’s great to see a turn-based game expanding the range of the genre, even if it doesn’t master all its elements.



Phantom Doctrine

In Short: An inspired XCOM clone, whose spy movie atmosphere inspires an emphasis on stealth rather than action – which is a good job given the somewhat flawed combat.

Pros: The spy theme permeates every element of the gameplay and presentation with an intriguing top-level strategy element and tense turn-based missions. Huge range of tactical options.

Cons: Removing the random element in combat can lead to some infuriating encounters. Detective work requires no real skill. Weak graphics for what is almost a full price game.

Score: 7/10

Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC
Price: £32.99
Publisher: Good Shepard Entertainment
Developer: CreativeForge Games
Release Date: 14th August 2018 (Xbox: 24/8)
Age Rating: 18

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Dark Souls Remastered coming to Nintendo Switch this October

Dark Souls Remastered - you'll have to wait till the summer to praise the sun

Dark Souls Remastered – praise the sun (which will probably be gone by October)!

The Switch version of the Dark Souls remaster finally has a release date, but there’s still no explanation of why it was late in the first place.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/BEI/REX/Shutterstock (9667808gf) Mark Hamill 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' film premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 10 May 2018Knightfall season 2 cast adds Mark Hamill: 'I've never done anything like this'

It was supposed to be out this summer, but Bandai Namco has at last given Dark Souls Remastered a proper release date, of October 19.

No reason was given for the delay, which was always surprising since the original was an Xbox 360 era game and the Switch has already dealt with much more technically demanding ports – such as Doom and Wolfenstein II.

Hopefully the extra time in the oven will avoid any launch day problems and while it’s not the most transformative of remasters, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions reviewed very well when they were released back in May.

The amiibo of Solaire of Astora was also delayed alongside the game and will now also be coming out on October 19.

Apart from looking cool/goofy it will give you access to the Praise the Sun gesture from the start of the game, although you can just unlock it normally if you don’t buy the amiibo.

FromSoftware were listed during the Nintendo Switch launch as one of the many developers working on the system, but it’s still not clear whether Dark Souls Remastered actually counts as their game.

Technically, Polish studio QLOC did all the work so it could mean that From have another, still unannounced, title waiting in the wings.

At the moment though all they have on their schedule is PlayStation VR title Déraciné and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

We're still holding out a hope Solaire will be in Super Smash Bros.

We’re still holding out a hope Solaire will be in Super Smash Bros.

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The Waking Dead: The Final Season Episode 1 review – Done Running

The Waking Dead: The Final Season (XO) - yes, we know they're called walkers not zombies

The Waking Dead: The Final Season (XO) – yes, we know they’re called walkers not zombies

Zombie survivor Clementine embarks on her final story, as creators Telltale Games give their graphics a much-needed revamp.

It’s over six years now since Telltale Games revolutionised video game storytelling with their first season of The Walking Dead adventures. At that point the company, composed of many veterans of LucasArts, had already been going for a good few years but they had only really done comedies such as revivals of Sam & Max and Monkey Island. As such, The Walking Dead – based on the original comic book and not the TV show – was a major departure into serious drama. A heart-breaking one, most would say, but now the story of Clementine is finally coming to an end.

The Walking Dead’s success was due to a number of factors, beyond just the novelty of having a point ‘n’ click adventure that was deadly serious. The writing was much better than most games at the time and the voice-acting was especially good. But it was also one of the key titles to popularise the idea of a branching narrative, where your moral decisions are remembered by the game and influence the rest of the story (although to exactly what degree is always a matter contention).

But as time went on Telltale began to overextend themselves and the quality of The Walking Dead sequels, and their other titles, became increasingly erratic. They stubbornly refused to update their aging graphics technology and other developers, such as Life Is Strange creators Dontnod, started to beat them at their own game. Internal politics caused a dangerously delayed response to these problems but now finally Telltale are trying to fight back… by providing closure.

If you’ve already played the short demo of The Final Season you’ll know what while it doesn’t feature an entirely new graphics engine it does look and work noticeably differently to Telltale’s previous games. There’s an attempt to take things off-the-rails and add more freedom of movement, including combat that you can both avoid and initiate as you want. Almost by their own admission it is only a half-measure but at least it’s a positive one.

Walking around the game world feels more like an actual video game now, rather than just an interactive comic book where you can only do exactly what the developer wants, when they want you too. It’s still by no means an action game though and as tempting as it might be to compare it with something like The Last Of Us the similarities are purely superficial.

Yes, there are zombies and the game now has an over-the-shoulder camera view but it’s still just as linear as ever. The newly vaunted freedom is just an illusion and although you can pick a fight with zombies whenever you want it still boils down to poorly-orchestrated QTE sequences. And while the graphics are certainly an improvement, at least in terms of the backdrops and lighting, the animation remains as stiff and wooden as ever – and that was always the main problem.

The Waking Dead: The Final Season (XO) - the new graphics can be quite creepy at times

The Waking Dead: The Final Season (XO) – the new graphics can be quite creepy at times

Telltale has been able to get away with things for so long because the most important element of an adventure game is always its story. But for those that don’t know the character of Clementine or her situation that means an awful lot of exposition is needed to bring you up to speed. That’s an unavoidable problem, but while it means you can jump into this final season without having played any of the others it does limit the entertainment you’re likely to get out of it.

And whether you’ve played the previous games or not this first episode also has to introduce the new set-up, which involves Clementine and AJ trying to get by in a community run by teenagers and younger kids. There’s a faint attempt to homage Lord of the Flies, but so far everything seems much safer and saner than any of the adult run ones from previous games.

Instead, and this is the most interesting story aspect so far, it’s AJ who is the real danger, as he’s too young to know a world without zombies. As a result he’s more violent and impulsive than Clementine was at his age and she struggles to teach him how to socialise and interact with strangers.

We had worried that Clementine’s relationship with AJ was too obvious a mirror of her own situation at the beginning of the first season, when she was the naïve child being protected by the troubled but principled Lee. But AJ is a very different person to Clementine and we’re reasonably confident Telltale isn’t going to end up being quite as predictable as it initially appeared.

But that remains to be seen and this review is only for the first episode, which truth be told is rather dull. All the exposition may be necessary but it’s not done in any compelling or original way, with lots of repetitive dialogue and conversations. As such, the façade that this is anything truly new quickly begins to peel away. None of that means that the final journey won’t be worth taking, but the first steps are not particularly enjoyable.



The Waking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 1

In Short: An uninspiring beginning to Clementine’s final story but there’s enough potential in the plot, and the more cinematic visuals, to leave hope that it’ll end better than it started.

Pros: Clementine is still a very compelling protagonist and AJ’s unusual situation holds a lot of promise. The attempts to update the presentation are welcome, at least at first.

Cons: The changes to the graphics and gameplay are very superficial and the experience is still as linear as ever. Overfamiliar scenario and repetitive dialogue.

Score: 6/10

Formats: Xbox One (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Price: £18.99 (season pass)
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: 14th August 2018 (Switch TBA)
Age Rating: 18

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