Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank

An Inventive Reboot

Ratchet & Clank is arguably Playstation’s most well known exclusive, and for good reason. Almost every game in the franchise has been fantastic, and the newest game in the series, is no exception. Ratchet & Clank is a reboot for the Playstation 4. It’s a retelling of the very first game of the franchise. It feels like a remake, but at the same time, it feels new, fresh, different and innovative, giving this fantastic series the start it deserves on the Playstation 4.

ratchet-and-clank-screenshot-02-psv-us-10jun15.jpg
Much like the first game, you start on Veldin.

A Game, Based on the Movie, Based on the Game

Ratchet & Clank’s story is a retelling of Ratchet & Clank’s origin story, and how they became partners. The whole game is told through a commentary from Captain Qwark, which leads to some twists and changes in the storyline, the game is also very aware of itself, with a few fourth wall breaks scattered around. It’s a bubbly, light, fun story that I enjoyed from start to finish. There were moments where I couldn’t help laughing, and Captain Qwark’s running commentary of the whole game was entertaining from start to finish. There are scenes from the upcoming movie dotted throughout the storyline, and they look fantastic. The way the story was told in Ratchet & Clank has me extremely excited for the movie. The end result is a well written, fun story that anyone can enjoy, and it’s a great starting place for newcomers.

RCPS4_3_ari_run.jpg
Ratchet is still using his wrench!

A Fantastic Return to Form

Ratchet & Clank’s game play mainly revolves around platforming, exploring and shooting. Lots and lots of shooting. Platforming feels solid, using jumps and different gadgets to get to where you need to go always feels good, and on planets like Gaspar and Quartu, the jetpack is openly available for use whenever you like. There are secrets hidden on every planet, and you’re always rewarded for exploring, whether it be a golden bolt, weapon, holocards, or a new gadget. Each planet feels unique and individual. Gaspar is a hot planet, covered in lava and red rocks, while Pokitaru is a tropical paradise dotted with islands surrounded by crystal clear water. Each planet has something different to do like travelling on a grind rail on Kalebo III to find what’s at the end of it or competing in hoverboard competitions on Rilgar for various prizes and rewards for doing well. Gunplay in Ratchet & Clank is fantastic. There are 16 different weapons to use, and every single one is different and they can be combined in different ways to work with one another. The Groovitron fires a disco ball, causing all enemies in the area to start dancing, leaving them vulnerable to other attacks. My personal favourite weapon is the Pixeliser, which does exactly what it sounds like, blasts enemies into bit form, making them look like out of place 2D sprites in a 3D world. All the weapons are fully upgradeable, and have modifications, making for a strong sense of progression with every single upgrade. Scattered around each planet are golden bolts, which unlock accessories for Ratchet, his ship and the filter through which the game is played. Cheats like invincibility and unlimited ammo can also be unlocked if enough are collected. Once you complete the main story once, challenge mode is unlocked. In challenge mode, you keep all your weapons and upgrades to play through the main story again. It’s a good way to earn more upgrades and bolts, due to the bolt multiplier exclusive to challenge mode.

ratchet-and-clank-screenshot-03-psv-us-10jun15.jpg
The Groovitron even works on bosses!

Just like a Pixar Movie

In my opinion, Ratchet & Clank is easily the best looking game currently on the Playstation 4. Ratchet & Clank looks like it’s been pulled straight out of the Pixar universe, both in terms of visuals and art style. Character models are detailed, animations are fluid and crisp, environments are absolutely amazing to look at and all of this is at 1080p, running at a smooth 30fps that never faltered for me, regardless of the amount of explosions on the screen.The weapons sound satisfying and impactful, and all of the voice acting is perfect. All of this makes for an extremely enjoyable experience from start to finish.

ratchet-and-clank-screen-20-ps4-eu-11jan16.jpg
Pokitaru’s water and greenery looks particularly good.

Verdict: 10/10

Ratchet & Clank is the reboot the series deserved and needed. It’s a fantastic starting point for the franchise on current gen consoles, setting this franchise up for success. There’s plenty of replay value and content here that makes the game well worth the $50 price. It looks beautiful, plays amazingly an brings back an old franchise that feels new again. If you’ve never played Ratchet & Clank, give this one a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

Positives

-Excellent retelling of Ratchet & Clank’s origin

-Fantastic game play

-Unique and fun weapons

-Visually stunning

-Runs smoothly

Up next is Star Fox Zero, it’ll be up either tonight or tomorrow!

Thanks for reading guys, Harry.

Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III

More Than Just Ashes

Dark Souls III is the third entry (fourth if you count Demon Souls) into From Software’s fantastic series of notoriously difficult games. Dark Souls III sports faster combat, new areas, nostalgia, a new art style and improvements on everything that Dark Souls has done right in the past, and this is all on current generation systems, unlike the original release of Dark Souls II. The question is, does Dark Souls III do the series justice? Or does it fail as the supposed conclusion of Dark Souls as a game series?

dark_souls_3_ashen_cemetery_iudex_gundyr.jpg
Your character rises from the dead in the Cemetery of Ash.

The Fire Fades

Dark Souls III’s story is set a long time after the events of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. The Fire is fading once again, as the world slowly rots and decays into total darkness. Only when the Lords Of Cinder leave their thrones, and the Unkindled rises, shall the world of Dark Souls III be saved. You play as the Unkindled, and it is your job to find the Lords of Cinder and return them to their thrones. The story and lore of Dark Souls III will deepen for those who look for it, and it’s thoroughly rewarding to find. The story very much reminded me of Dark Souls, and that isn’t a bad thing at all. Four possible endings make for a meaningful reason to play through the game again, alongside completing quests you missed in your first play through, or invest more in the lore and background of the characters in DSIII. I was intrigued by, and interested in every character in Dark Souls III. Whether it be new characters to the series, or returning ones. This truly feels like a story done in Souls fashion, cryptic lore, interesting characters and a world that gives hints towards it’s past. I was incredibly satisfied by the end and intend to achieve all 4 endings. The setting and story in Dark Souls III just feels right for a souls game, which is good for beginners and veterans alike.

Fire_Keeper.jpg
The Firekeeper levels you up, and tends to Firelink Shrine.

Soulsborne 

When From Software released Bloodborne last year, it brought about a new fan base for From Software. This fan base, and original souls fans, got used to the aggressiveness of Bloodborne’s combat, as opposed to the slower, more patient combat of Dark Souls. Dark Souls III feels like a hybrid between these two combat styles, and it works perfectly. You can play however you want to play, whether it be aggressive, patient or somewhere in the middle. If you liked Bloodborne, but couldn’t get into any other of the Souls games, you will more than likely love Dark Souls III. Hollowing is now more or less being Unkindled. When you kill a boss, or consume an Ember, you become Embered. When Embered, you can coop, you gain more health and you can see streaks of flame through your character’s armor, which looks very pretty. When you die, you lose your Embered status, you lose all of this and become Unkindled. Early on the game makes sure you have a few Embers in your back pocket, and the merchant in Firelink Shrine stocks limited amounts of them. I found that in the late game areas, I started running low on Embers and had to farm them now and again. They aren’t scarce, but don’t expect to be overstocked on them. The combat feels satisfying, no matter what weapon you’re using, whether it be a greatsword, dual swords, a kitana or staffs and magic. Being a Souls game, DSIII is very difficult, and the boss fights are spectacular in both scale and difficulty. The thing is though, is that Dark Souls III is always fair. Whenever you die, it’s almost never the game’s fault. Every encounter with every enemy must be treated with respect, the moment you let your guard down, you will more than likely die. DSIII’s world and open ended environment had a hopeless feeling about them. It truly felt like this world was falling into despair and darkness, hollows walk the otherwise empty pathways of Lothric and dead dragons lie on the rooftops. While DSIII doesn’t go incredibly crazy with its environments, the new areas are all interesting and different. I loved exploring every environment (except the swamp) especially one of the optional environments. It took me about 40 of the 50 hours i’ve played to finish my first playthrough, and that’s exploring every area as best as I could, and defeating every single boss in the game. Some of the best fights are also surprisingly inventive, which was refreshing to see in a Souls game. Once you finish your first play through, you’re given the option to jump into New Game+ straight away, or to continue exploring the world and start NG+ later on. NG+ is well worth it, simply because there’s new equipment to find, different endings to achieve, and to visit any areas you missed on your first play through, all while keeping your weapons, armor, rings and some other items from your first play through. I can see myself playing DSIII for a long time, experimenting with different builds and weapons. PVP also makes a return, and it’s the best it’s been. You can invade other worlds and challenge other players, or join worlds and help other players out with an area they might be stuck on. I never once had any connection issues either.

FDP_SS_002.0.jpg
The first area of the game, has living and dead dragons. 

Dark but Beautiful

Dark Souls III looks beautiful. The world is detailed and intriguing and I constantly found myself getting lost in this beautiful world. The game runs at 30 frames per second, but I didn’t really notice it all that much apart from minor frame drops in areas like Farron Keep and the Swamp. The biggest technical issues I had with Dark Souls III is that I encountered a few bugs, one of which was game breaking. There was one stage where I got stuck in place, and had to soft reset to fix it. It’s not the biggest issue, simply because Souls saves so often, but still annoying nonetheless. The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal, I love every single track, from the title theme to the boss themes. Using a good pair of headphones for Dark Souls III is the way to go.

dark_souls_3_main_art_1.jpg
Yes, yellow is a very prominent color in DSIII.

Verdict: 9.5/10

Dark Souls III, is in my opinion the best Souls game. It took all the things that Dark Souls and Dark Souls II did right, improved them, and added new features which heavily benefit the gameplay, and the Souls fan base. It’s a beautiful, challenging, engrossing experience, that i’d happily recommend to beginners and Souls veterans alike. Hopefully the DLC is just good, and good luck to From Software on their next project.

Positives

-Beautiful world

-Fantastic alternate endings

-Deep characters

-Deep, satisfying and challenging combat

-PVP and coop is as good as it’s ever been

Negatives

-A little buggy, minor and game-breaking

Up next is Ratchet and Clank which comes out on Wednesday, so look out for that shortly after Wednesday!

Thanks for reading guys, Harry.

 

Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifter

The Ultimate Hybrid

2016 as a year for gaming has started off with quite a strong first quarter, and with so much to look forward to, smaller titles seem to fall under the radar unless they’re monumentally praised among critics and gamers alike. Does Hyper Light Drifter fall into that group of games? Or does it fail to create a perfect hybrid between Metroid, Zelda, and Dark Souls? I’m glad to say that Hyper Light Drifter pulls it off amazingly, making for an extremely memorable and original experiences i’ve ever had the joy of playing.

1.png
Hyper Light Drifter makes an extremely strong first impression.

A Mysterious Pixelverse

Hyper Light Drifter’s plot is kept shrouded and mysterious, right up until the very end. There is no introduction to the lore, the universe, and there’s no dialogue whatsoever at any point in the 7-10 hour story. As soon as you hit new game, you’re treated to a cut scene which gives a few hints as to what the story is about. I’m going to avoid talking about any of the story, simply to prevent spoilers. With each small cut scene after certain objectives, a little more is revealed, as you slowly start to piece the story together. You play as an adventurer, whose purpose and origin is completely unknown, but all we know, is that we’re to activate a device right in the middle of the world for what was at the time, an unknown reason. I was constantly trying to think about what happened in the world of Hyper Light Drifter, especially when I entered a new area plagued with corpses and ruins. Hyper Light Drifter’s story is a fresh, more complex and mysterious take on the way Souls’ games handle their stories, and I loved every minute of it.

HLD_Screenshot_01_rise_1080.png
This is a scene from the opening cut scene for the game.

Simple, Effective and Engrossing

Hyper Light Drifter’s game play will feel very familiar if you’ve played anything related to Metroid, Dark Souls or Zelda. The game takes a page from the book of each one, and uses it to its advantage. This creates a  refreshing, challenging, fair, mysterious and open adventure that’s begging to be explored and get lost in. There are 6 areas in the game, all of which sport a different theme. In 5 of the 6 areas, a boss must be defeated and a minimum of 4 modules must be collected in 4 of the 6 areas. You might think this sounds similar to Zelda, and that’s because it is, but with a unique twist. Instead of entering dungeons and fighting a boss at the end, Hyper Light Drifter has you move between underground dungeons to the open landscape through elevators. Exploring all the different routes and moving back and forth between the vertical levels is what leads you to the discovery of modules, and boss fights, and my god are these boss fights good. Each boss requires you to pay attention to their attack patterns, meaning you have to play defensively until you have a good understanding of what they do. Once the boss enters phase 2, they use new attacks and modify old ones, which keeps you on your toes at all times. I had some real trouble with a few of these bosses, but Hyper Light Drifter never gets to the point of being unfair, due to the player’s abilities. Hyper Light Drifter’s combat is simple, but unique. Your character is equipped with a sword, various guns, a short ranged dash and med kits. These med kits are very reminiscent of blood vials from Bloodborne. You can only carry three at one time, and whenever you use one all health is recovered. Hyper Light Drifter has an intuitive system where when you hit enemies or break objects in the world, your ammo is replenished (which means yes, you have a reason to break pots and cut down grass).I really liked this system, it gave combat a bit of strategy when you had to manage your ammo count when entering a large room of enemies. You start of with a simple three hit sword combo, and a single gun. As you progress, you can buy upgrades with Gearbits found in the world, including new attacks, the ability to deflect projectiles and even bombs. It always feels like you’re progressing in Hyper Light Drifter, which I absolutely adored and choosing which upgrade I wanted next with my limited Gearbits was always a hard choice. You’ll also find new guns throughout the world, such as a shotgun, laser gun and revolver. There are also different colored swords and outfits you can find in the world if you look hard enough, but they’re purely cosmetic. Once you clear the game for the first time, you unlock new game plus, allowing you to jump back in with all your upgrades and items, but halving your health in the process, meaning you can only take two hits before death.

TAlrPBx.png
You can either hip fire or free aim any of your guns.

Pixels Done Right

Hyper Light Drifter has a lot more going for it than just its intriguing world and engrossing game play. The world of Hyper Light Drifter is vast, colorful and brilliantly crafted with every single pixel. Every single environment in Hyper Light Drifter is beautiful, from flowing water, hammering rain, falling snow, lush forests and mechanized ruins. Character models and enemy design are all excellent, and the bosses look jaw droppingly awesome. There were multiple instances in the game where I would stop to look and stare at the backgrounds, whether it be a giant skeleton embedded into the side of a cliff, or standing at the top of a pinnacle overlooking the entire world, I couldn’t and don’t think I ever will get over how beautiful this game is. The game is locked at 30 FPS, but it didn’t impact my experience at all, and I honestly think it benefits the overall style of the game and its world. The music in Hyper Light Drifter is incredibly immersive and ambient. Every time I played Hyper Light Drifter, I couldn’t help but feel I was immersed entirely into it’s world. If you pick this one up, please do your self a favor and play with a decent set of headphones if possible, it truly is a treat.

bbd549923c0884d6896035d0607923aba42d34d8a49febc2f5b256529a4ca0a31.jpg
The mechanized ruins truly look long forgotten.

Verdict: 10/10

Hyper Light Drifter took me by surprise-pleasant surprise. Heart Machine truly have crafted something amazing here, and in my opinion, it’s flawless. I sincerely hope Hyper Light Drifter goes on to be successful on all platforms, as it’s not only the best indie games i’ve ever played, but one of the best games iv’e ever played. Hyper Light Drifter is an experience I will no doubt come back to in the near future, and it’s definitely a game that I’m going to remember for a long, long time.

Positives

-Mysterious plot

-Engrossing game play and combat

-A beautiful world and extremely impressive use of pixel art

-Amazing soundtrack

-New game plus

-Challenging and unique encounters

Wow, my first 10. I seriously enjoyed this title a heck of a lot more than I thought I would. Dark Souls III is next, which I’m extremely hyped for. I’ll get it up as soon as possible. Thanks for reading guys, Harry.

 

 

The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 2: Give No Shelter

The Walking Dead: Michonne Episode 2: Give No Shelter

Still Trying

The second episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Michonne, further explores Michonne’s dark past as it once again catches up to her. The problem is that while in the process of constructing Michonne as an incredibly deep and interesting character, other characters and the overarching plot are left behind. Michonne’s daughters still haunt her, and the flashback sequences in episode 2 are just as interesting as they were in episode 1. I seriously cared about Michonne through the entire episode and it’s really nice to see that Telltale are doing her character justice. Episode 2 picks up immediately after where episode 1 finishes, and I won’t explain that just to avoid spoilers. From there, the plot is fairly predictable, which is disappointing, but at least some of the characters are developed to a degree. I was genuinely stumped once or twice on the choices I was confronted with, and I found myself wanting to go back in order to see what would happen if I chose the other options. The combat sequences in episode 2, are thankfully just as good, if not better than episode 1’s combat. It’s intense, the choreography is amazing, and Michonne looks like a complete badass when slashing and hacking through walkers, and I was really pleased to see one particular feature at the start of the episode, but I won’t spoil what that is. The episode does finish quite strongly, and I’m really looking forward to the release of episode 3 next month. Give No Shelter only took me a little over an hour to finish, which is shorter than In Too Deep, but I felt like it went for the right amount of time.

WDM_102_Busted_1920x1080.jpg
Episode 2 picks up straight after the end of the first.

Verdict: 7/10 

Telltale are doing an incredible job of fleshing out Michonne’s character. She’s proving to be more and more interesting with every episode, which is just what fans want. Awesome combat sequences and fan service make it a memorable episode, however, the fairly predictable story and underdeveloped supporting cast holds Give No Shelter back from becoming the saving grace of In Too Deep. I sincerely hope episode 3 can fix this, and that it keeps doing what all the other episodes have done right.

Positives

-Michonne is an incredible, deep and interesting character

-Amazing combat sequences

-Episode finishes strong

Negatives

-Supporting cast feels underdeveloped

-Predictable story

Thanks for reading guys, Hyper Light Drifter is up next, followed up by Dark Souls III in a few weeks! Thanks again for reading guys – Harry.