Category gaming

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PC, PS4, Xbox One) Review

Many fans, including us, have long pined for a single player Star Wars adventure, and now one has finally arrived, is it worth dragging attention away from Baby Yoda for more than five minutes?

The reason there’s been such demand is partly down to EA, the company who owns the rights to Star Wars games, who have been heavily focused on the multiplayer market, particularly with their Star Wars: Battlefront series. While these games do well at what they’re aiming for, if you’re not fussed about owning a random stranger with a blaster or occasionally a lightsaber, they’re don’t offer too much. Despite some promising cancelled projects, including one by Uncharted’s Amy Hennig, Respawn, the brains behind the acclaimed Titanfall series were chosen as the custodians of Lucas’s legacy, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is what they came up with.

When you boot up the game, that familiar Lucasfilm motif does suck you in, and is the first of many examples of audio magic, which really ground you in the Star Wars universe. The music too, occasionally dipping into John Williams’ back catalogue, is masterful, as is the level art. Whoever did the background and level designs on this game deserves a well-earned round of applause – the imaginative landscapes, the subdued palette and the glorious lighting all combine to create one of the best looking games in this generation (sadly the player models are the only negative here). Now, of course, with the impressive range of material on offer, it does help entice the player, especially with the nostalgia the game likes to indulge in.

While the visuals and audio do an amazing job, the gameplay sadly feels like a bit of a let down. The decision to take on a lesser version of Dark Souls/Sekiro-style combat is a conscious one, but takes away some of the magic. Understandably you don’t want to let the player have all the powers and abilities immediately, but the slow dolling out of even things as simple as a force push feels unnecessary. The lightsaber combat feels held back, and though it could be said, more realistic, waving a laser sword isn’t exactly normal, so not letting the player have a bit more fun with it seems like a mistake. The climbing sections aren’t particularly exciting either, though they are often saved by some impressive cinematography.

Much of the fun of a Star Wars game is the story, and on this front, Respawn do pretty well, with a good sense of progression and development, and in true Lucas style, a big old McGuffin. However, the crew of your ship do seem a bit lacklustre and the plot towards the end feels rather rushed. A good example of this is the introduction of a charismatic new crew member – who is only unveiled in the last 1/4 of the game, which feels like such a waste. That said, it may be that previous games, such as KOTOR and its sequel, have spoiled us with their well-rounded cast of characters, and it must be said the introduction had us on the edge of our seats.

Overall, this is a fun romp through the Star Wars universe, and while the combat and gameplay might not be the force grip you had hoped for, it’s still an adventure that’ll have you and your R2 unit beeping happily for several hours.


Death Stranding for PlayStation 4 Review

death stranding reviewHideo Kojima’s latest release is one hell of an enigma. And that’s just the story. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

First things first, Death Stranding has a cast to die for. Anything with Mads Mikkelsen is going to be great, and of course the same can be said of Norman Reedus and Lea Seydoux. To top it all off you’ve also got two world class directors who do a mighty fine acting job in the form of Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn (voiced by Darren Jacobs), with del Toro’s Deadman being a breakout star. If you keep your eyes peeled you’ll also see a wide cast of cameos, with other film directors and media personalities scattered throughout, all of which are remarkably well used.

Put simply, well as simply as is possible, Death Stranding is an epic sci-fi journey into a near future which involves your character journeying across vast, mostly untouched landscapes, connecting people and trying to rebuild society. All this is done while trying to avoid horrifically spooky ghosts, as well as persistent bandits and even the rain itself – ‘Timefall’ – which damages your goods and vehicles. And, not forgetting keeping a small baby attached to your suit happy, including being able to rock it to sleep by waving the controller about. Of course this all sounds strange, but surprisingly enough it generally works.

The game lets you take your own pace and your own approach to its path finding. Want to scale that cliff side with ladders and climbing ropes? Prefer to find a vehicle and take the longer way around? Or go in guns blazing through a bandit camp? It’s all up to you. And while you’re deciding you’ll be soundtracked by some superb post rock/indie folk, most of which is provided by US via Reykjavik band Low Roar.

The music is one of the many highlights, with perfectly selected tracks that are synced with your adventure – one of my favourite moments was scaling a vast mountain, avoiding dangers, to have a great track suddenly kick in as I climbed down the other side and was subject to a stunning view across the landscape.

Just like music, whether you’ll enjoy this game is all about expectations. Don’t go in expecting Metal Gear Solid (Kojima’s previous series), because although it does share some mechanics and sneaking elements, this is a more slow paced, ‘enjoy the journey rather than the destination’ production. However, unlike Metal Gear Solid, the story here is a lot more comprehensible, aside from when you get towards the end. The ending is an information overload, and several ‘fake’ endings can test the patience of even the most dedicated fan.

What is definitely a surprise is that the game’s online elements are a wonderful treat. As you make your way through rivers, hillsides and mountains you can build devices to help you on your way, like battery charging stations, rain covers or safe boxes, and these will also appear in other players’ worlds to help them out (and vice versa). It’s a delight to receive ‘likes’ from other players who use your structures, which can aid your character’s skills as well as keep you company on your lonesome journey.

Death Stranding is an enigma alright, but whether you’ll appreciate breaking its code will definitely be down to your expectations and how open you are to trying something a bit different to your standard blockbuster game.

Our Favourite Nintendo Switch Games (So Far)

So the Switch has just reached its first birthday, and before we blow out the candles we’re spilling the beans on which cartridges you need to shove into your console right now to celebrate.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild
There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been written about Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This game sold us the console, it literally takes your breath away and can reinvigorate even the most cynical gamer’s love of running around fields, riding a horse and climbing mountains all while stabbing at monsters and humming along to the soundtrack.

Mario Odyssey
Mario Odyssey had some big shoes and moustaches to fill…but it captures that child like obsession with jumping on monster shells and leaping as high as you can on endless platforms and colourful worlds. The hat body possession mechanic sounds a bit like a Cronenberg film, but don’t worry it’s more PG than 18 rated and adds an inspired spin on the Mario formula.

Mario Kart
Vroom vroom! The long-running (or driving) magic kart game is back in a deluxe version of the Wii U game with added touchscreen and extra DLC built in. It’s simple, yet devilishly tactically, and you’ll also end up shouting at the screen when a big blue shell descends to ruin your race. Get the extra wheel add ons to really feel like a speed racer.

Bayonetta 1+2
Being able to slice mutant angels in two with giant whips and shotguns in slow mo all while being soundtracked by the classic 1950s crooner “Fly me to the moon” is what did it for me! Surreal setups and comic humour galore, get your button mashing skills on for this epic tale of heaven, hell and high heels.

Xenoblade Chronicles
Giant worlds in the sky which are actually massive monsters?! Yep it’s bonkers crazy but it works – the imagination is off the scale in this latest RPG epic from Monolith. The characters look cartoony but there’s serious philosophical questions and drama by the bucketload. And not forgetting giant fire swords!