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Life Is Strange

By on October 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm

The Telltale model of episodic adventure gaming, which focuses on story choices over puzzles, seems to be here to stay. Life is Strange, like The Walking Dead before it, asks you to make some pretty serious moral and emotional choices while never asking you to attach a rubber chicken to a pulley or create a makeshift moustache out of cat fur or any other adventure game tropes. The puzzles that do pop up exist to serve the story, rather than the story existing to justify the puzzles, which is fine – Life is Strange is one of those rare games that’s actually worth playing for the narrative.

There’s something inherently, immediately refreshing about playing as a young woman in a game, especially when their world is taken seriously.

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Halo 5: Guardians

By on October 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm

It is rare to come across a game so uninspired as Halo 5. I won’t placate ravenous fans with platitudes regarding the ‘halo-ness’ of the game this time — if Halo 5 were a cheese it would be “American sliced cheese substitute”. It bears all the hallmarks of a modern Halo game — massive super-soldiers, unending genocide, seemingly complex (but actually tame) enemy AI — so as to qualify as a Halo, but it is as bland as a game could be.

Even Halo 4 attempted more, what with its new enemy type and epic setpieces — Halo 5 can’t even manage those.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

By on October 19, 2015 at 4:35 pm

CD Projekt Red have heard your cries for more Witcher and delivered. Hearts of Stone is not just a token cash grab — it’s a meaty, proper, old-school, expansion on the world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It’s largely story-based, but there are plenty of new enemies, gear and mechanics to embellish the rich tapestry of the game and while it’s not done seamlessly, it certainly doesn’t feel tacked on either.

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Assassin's Creed Syndicate

By on September 28, 2015 at 8:47 pm

It’s a common theory that the Assassin’s Creed games seem to swing through a Microsoft Windows-style cycle of peaks and troughs. AC2 was good, Brotherhood was okay. Revelations was good, but AC3 didn’t rate that well. Black Flag was good, but Unity was buggy… look, you get the picture. If we follow this theory to its natural conclusion, this year’s AC instalment — Syndicate — should be another high point, and I’m pleased to report after several hours of hands-on action that this appears to be the case.

But nothing in the world of Assassin’s Creed is ever wasted. As Black Flag built on the technology of  AC3, Syndicate is built on the bones of Unity. Where Unity was beautiful but laggy, Syndicate is simply beautiful. Where Unity’s parkour was was clunky, Syndicate’s is elegant. Where Unity’s map looked like somebody had loaded icons into a shotgun and fired it, Syndicate is pared-back and focused.

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Destiny: The Taken King

By on September 23, 2015 at 4:20 pm

One thing becomes clear when you boot up Destiny following the release of The Taken King: you’re supposed to feel dread. That overwhelming sense of awe and discovery that was inspired by Year One’s theme has taken an ominous turn. The composition that once played while I was in orbit — one of my favourite pieces of video game music — has now been replaced by an arrangement that sounds just that little bit more sinister. There’s a change in mood here that starts with the soundtrack and permeates through the level design.

That being said, the latest chapter of the story has been brought to life by a small, but memorable cast of characters, many of whom had appeared from the beginning but have only now found their voice. Cayde-6, voiced by Firefly and Castle star Nathan Fillion is the primary quest-giver for the fight against Oryx. Fillion doesn’t just provide mission briefings, he’s the star of several cutscenes and also provides colourful mid mission dialogue.

Nolan North of Uncharted fame replaces the unfairly-maligned Peter Dinklage in the role of your Ghost. Both actors turn in stellar performances, and while the script isn’t written to elicit much of an emotional response, the added dramatic flavour makes it that little bit easier to complete a strike, story or patrol mission for the three hundredth time.

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By on September 22, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Imagine if someone built a computer model of your brain — complete in all ways, so lifelike and complex that it was impossible to tell it apart from a real brain. Uploaded into a body and able to move around, learn and feel — what is the difference between the simulated you and the real you? How would you know if you were the original? And what would happen if more copies were made, different snapshots of you at different times?

SOMA asks questions like these. SOMA is everything I love.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition

By on September 22, 2015 at 2:45 pm

The final story-based DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition is being touted as the answer to all of your questions. If you’ve played the game you’ll know which ones I mean. You know, how after [spoiler], [spoiler] goes on to [spoiler] and we all go, “say whaaaaaat?”

While some of those questions will be answered, those answers will mostly leave you with more questions. And those answers are hard-won by having to actually play through the DLC, so don’t come into Trespasser expecting to sit down with [spoiler] and have a chat over tea and biscuits while they explain all the ins and outs of their cunning scheme to you.

But you know what is interesting about Trespasser? I can’t believe I’m saying this but: the questions it leaves you asking. Mostly because they seem to pretty heavily suggest not only that there will be a fourth Dragon Age game, but that it is already in development, with a setting and a vague story already decided.

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By on September 18, 2015 at 10:27 am

It’s strange to acknowledge my attachment to guns. Fictional guns, no less. This Tuesday night at 7pm, however, the moment I’d been dreading for about a month came to pass. My two most reliable tools got locked away in my vault in first person inventory space manager and MMO-lite, Destiny.

My Gjallahorn, the exotic (for those not in the know, the highest grade of rarity) rocket launcher that was key to undoing any end game enemy, was now ostensibly useless. An uncommon machine gun of the filthiest green was presented early on as a more powerful replacement. My Vision of Confluence, the lynchpin of loadouts that felled Crota, Atheon and Skolas, was now holding me back from cracking Destiny’s new missions and its latest mystery, the Light system.

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Life Is Strange

Life is Strange complete season review: Your move, Telltale Games

The year's most heartwrenching game comes to an emotional conclusion.

Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5 Guardians review: A boring game and a broken promise

343 Industries are back again with Halo -- but maybe they should have left it alone, says Joab.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone is a proper, old-school expansion

From a drunk, possessed Geralt to a battle against an enormous toad, Hearts of Stone delivers.

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