Recently Played #2.

The not very regular series of posts in which I detail what I’m currently playing, but haven’t played enough to review in full yet!

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

I am completely blown away by this game so far, both in terms of graphical appearance and gameplay. A great story, interesting characters and a very satisfying combat system. If you have a new 3DS I think this is a must own for the system. The soundtrack is also excellent so far, especially through headphones.

FarCry Primal

FarCry Primal

There are some times when I long for more games that don’t involve running around shooting things with guns, as the market can often seem overrun with lots of that. Enter FarCry Primal, set before guns were invented, in the great and lush outdoors, the game is strangely immersive and utterly stunning on PC. (I may have invested in a 970, more on that in a later blog post) It’s a very visceral experience, and one which is holding my attention quite nicely at the moment.

Continue Reading

Review: Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer.

Happy Home Designer

 

Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer is not a pure Animal Crossing game, but more of a spin off game…it’s useful to remember this. It sees you become an employee of “Nook’s Homes” an interior/exterior designer if you will. Animals will appear outside the shop each day and it’s your job to pick one customer and design their dream home. They may specify that you must include certain items (most characters unlock more furniture which is then added to your library for use in any home thereafter) but for the most part, it’s up to you. And you literally choose everything, from how the exterior looks, the floor plan, the flooring, lamps, windows and sofas etc. You unlock more design options as you go through the game, and can also design buildings in the town centre too.

Amiibo Cards

Want to design the home of your favourite New Leaf villager? You can leave it to pot luck and hope they show up outside the shop, or you can try your luck at getting them in Amiibo cards packs. The cards can be scanned on “new” 3DS/XL consoles, or via an Amiibo reader and the villager or character will appear onscreen! The Amiibo cards are the only way to unlock the option to design the houses of the shop keepers and other non villagers in the game. (Saharah for example) These exclusives are denoted by the fact that their cards are glittery. Scanning the villager Amiibo figure also reaps a little reward too!

Overall the controls are excellently done and the game strangely addictive, if a little repetitive. You aren’t rewarded for matching items so it can feel a little empty at times, as the villagers are always happy regardless of the type of interior you design for them. However the online feature that allows players from around the world to rate your work makes up for this a little. Limited in scope, but done well, this is a welcome addition to the Animal Crossing franchise.

Villager Amiibo

General Scoring

Gameplay. 8/10  Immensely fun, but a little repetitive after a while.
Graphics. 8/10  Great use of 3D and incredibly cute characters!
Sound. 7/10  Limited due to game type really.
Music. 8/10  Again limited, but the music stays with me after I save and quit the game.
Story. 6/10  Not much of a story, but there doesn’t need to be with the nature of this game.

Wildcards

Value for money 7/10  A little limited in comparison with other Animal Crossing games.
Network Features 8/10  I really enjoy the rating system and being able to look at other player’s designs.
Controls 10/10  Mapped really well, picking up and playing for the first time was easy.
Addictiveness 9/10  Relaxed gaming at it’s best.
 Innovation 9/10  Excellent use of Amiibo. Both the cards and the figure can be scanned in, in an innovative and immersive way.

Total Score = 80%

Continue Reading

Review: Captain Toad Treasure Tracker.

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker is such a charming puzzle platformer, that you almost forget how strange it is to play a game from this genre in which the characters can’t jump. Essentially, it’s 70+ stages, in each of which you are presented with Escher like floating dioramas which you must navigate, collecting items, sneaking past or tackling enemies, and using the gamepad to adjust the camera to ensure you’ve explored everything on offer from every angle.

The puzzles occasionally become very smart indeed, and I feel the only real annoyance whilst playing is that the camera control is tied to the gamepad’s gyro sensor, thus the camera can get a little crazy at the slightest of wrist movement. Overall the game is fun, gorgeous to look at, and the stages are different enough to keep things fresh and compelling.

General Scoring

Gameplay. 9/10  Easy to learn, but very compelling in a “just one more level” way.
Graphics. 9/10  Classic Mario styling, in HD.
Sound. 7/10  Some great sound effects.
Music. 8/10  Simple but compliments the game.
Story. 7/10  Predictable, but fun.

Wildcards

Value for money 8/10  A lot in the box for a puzzle game.
Difficulty. 7/10  Occasionally very tricky.
Pick up & play. 9/10  Easy to learn, difficult to master 100% completion.
Variety. 7/10  Pleasantly surprised by the variety of stages on offer.
Art style. 8/10  If you’re a fan of Mario, this is for you.

Total score: 79%

Continue Reading

Golden Joystick Awards

I like the fact we have a ceremony that marks the great work in the gaming industry, and wish it was covered more heavily in mainstream media. Here’s my picks for some of the many categories on offer this year, do let me know yours in the comments!

Golden Joystick Awards

 

Best Newcomer – Dishonored. I dislike spelling it like that! This is a haunting, unique game that genuinely doesn’t feel like anything else I have played before, well deserving of this award.

 

Best Online Game – Guildwars 2. Although Final Fantasy XIV:A realm reborn has my attention now, I have played hours and hours of GW2 and it takes the crown on it’s ease of use in terms of partying up, forming guilds and playing as a team. This will be a game I return to for many years to come.

 

Best Handheld Game – Fire Emblem Awakening. Yes, I’ve played far more hours of Animal Crossing than I care to divulge, I’ve also played Donkey Kong and more recently, several evenings have been spent on Pokemon X. But Fire Emblem is quite possibly the best handheld game I’ve played on any platform ever.

 

Best Multiplayer Game – Borderlands 2. I have not put as much time into this game as I should have, it’s both engaging and immensely fun…builds on the first game really, and if somethings not broke, don’t fix it.

 

Best Gaming platform of the year – Nintendo 3DS. I started the year playing mostly on my PS3, in the middle it was all about PC gaming, but since July it’s been the 3DS that I turn to the most frequently and put the most hours into. This surprised me upon reflection, but I really do think that, the lineup of games released this year has made the 3DS an excellent console.

 

Game of the year – Guildwars 2. This was incredibly difficult, I’ve been debating whether or not it should be GW2 or Fire Emblem, but am going with GW2 based on 2 things, I can see myself playing it for 10 years just like I have the first game…and for the sheer variety of gameplay elements. This was a very close call though.

 

You can vote for your favourites in these, and many other categories, until 20th October by clicking here.  And the show will be live-streamed on YouTube on October 25th.

Continue Reading

Gaming Bargains: Humble Origin Bundle.

Just wanted to spread the world about the rather excellent and bargainous Humble Origin Bundle on offer at the moment. In a nutshell, it’s a bundle of games, you choose what you pay for them, and how much of your cash goes to charities, developers and humble bundle itself. These are always a good deal, but the blockbuster titles in this offering almost make up for the fact that a lot of them you can only redeem on Origin. Some you get Steam codes for, but others must be used in EA’s sham of software that is Origin.

Humble Origin Bundle

Here’s a few words on the games that I have already played from the bundle;

Burnout Paradise – Not my favourite in the series (That would be Burnout Takedown on PS2) but a very enjoyable racer non the less. I like the open world feel and variety of events.

Mirrors Edge – A great, challenging, and quite unique game with a super cool art style.

Medal of Honor – Disliked by many (Especially sheep like COD fans) but I loved this, and am excited to play multiplayer on Steam. Read my full review here.

Battlefield 3 – Gorgeous and fun to play multiplayer, but in my eyes, not as immersive as Medal of Honor. Read my thoughts on the MP element here. And my thoughts on the game as a whole, here.

Sims 3 – I have played and enjoyed this, but wouldn’t really class myself as a Sims game fan.

Everything else in the bundle is new to me. Let me know if you purchase this, or your thoughts on any of the games in the bundle, in the comment section 🙂

Continue Reading