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Monsters! Hunting! Crafting! Oh my. The biggest, baddest and definitive version of Monster Hunter Generations hacks it’s way onto Nintendo’s Switch, but does “old school” Monster Hunter still cut it after the simplicity of Monster Hunter World? Let’s find out!

Game: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch (Review code/copy provided)

My first experience with Monster Hunter was relatively recent, by the usual standard set for fans of Capcom’s long running and platform spanning series. I first encountered the series on the Wii (and later the Wii U) via Monster Hunter 3 and then later on the 3DS, though for some reason I could never work out why my first pass at playing Monster Hunter Generations never really clicked. With its release on the Switch, I now know that my disinterest with Generations has nothing to do with the game itself – it’s simply because I can’t get to grips with Monster Hunter on a handheld console.

Generations might be the perfect answer, then. A single game that spans hundreds of hours and features almost limitless replay value seems the perfect answer for mobile platforms, yet the Monster Hunter series is also known for its complex and challenging combat. Fighting in this game, for those who are uninitiated, is based around a mixture of weapons and styles (both of which there are many to choose from) that results in a dizzying array of combinations to choose from and experiment with.

With weapon in hand, combat isn’t actually that difficult to wrap your head around, but the length of some fights, as well as the claw-like grip required when clutching the switch in its handheld form proved too much for me after more than maybe thirty minutes at a time. It turns out, my fleeting hour or two spent with Generations on the 3DS was cut short for much the same reason, having gone back to it now and immediately realised that what Monster Hunter really needs for players to make the most of it, is time and space.

Space, which I won’t dwell on for too long, comes in the form of playing on a big screen. Many of the enemies in Generations take up the entire screen, requiring the player to constantly maneuver both camera and character to ensure the best position to strike from. Tougher monsters are largely armored with few week spots and I found getting around them so much easier on a full size television. Where time is concerned, I think many potential Monster Hunter fans are put off because of the demands that the game puts on them, but in all honesty that’s never as apparent as in the first few hours when you’re learning the ropes, figuring out the attack patterns and frankly, coming to terms with what is a bit of a weird game structure.

Generations (more or less in line with the other Monster Hunter games that I’ve played) is split into a cycle of visiting villages, picking up mandatory (or rather, important) quests and then choosing from a laundry list of other quests that range from simple to absolutely-ridiculous in terms of complexity. Every quest takes place in a set region that is made up of something like six to twelve separate areas. This games the game a feeling of being sort of open world (and some of the vistas are hugely impressive) but it actually isn’t – it’s a series of individual arenas that are loosely linked by a biome or theme.

The online features haven’t been live during the twenty or so days that I’ve been testing Generations (or at the very least, no one has been online, which seems unlikely) but assuming that the game at least includes those found in the 3DS version, then players can expect to be able to search for other hunters either privately or publicly,  with lobbies of up to four who will then choose a quest to undertake. Again I’d be speculating about the net code, but based on the fact the Switch is more powerful than the 3DS and the game essentially hasn’t changed, I would expect any lessons about how to optimise the game will have been learned long ago.

Whilst we’re on the subject of Generations being a 3DS port, it’s obvious that it is – especially when you compare it to the much more polished and altogether more beautiful Monster Hunter World. That’s not to say that Generations isn’t visually impressive in both handheld and docked modes, but it fails to live up to the standards of first party switch titles like Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild. Whilst I haven’t played Monster Hunter World exhaustively, I should also note that players who have only experienced Monster Hunter via the latest version will be in a for a mild shock as they enter Generations, thanks partly to the gnarlier graphics, but mostly because the game play is decidedly slower and more deliberate.

For example, Monster Hunter World allows players to heal whilst on the move, whilst Generations (as per previous iterations in the series) makes the player sheathe her weapon and sit through a lengthy drinking-followed-by-arm-pumping animation, which is often broken by a monster attack unless you move miles and miles away. Similarly, the first ten hours or so of quests (easily, it could be more) are made up of almost pointless drudgery. You’ll kill (or cull, I mean) thousands of the same enemies as you undertake mushroom or rare butterfly fetch quests – this is something that the more streamlined gameplay of World almost entirely did away with.

Generations should still be praised for some of the things it does do to address its weirdness, which were a bone of contention in earlier versions, though. For example, there is a tutorial mission for every weapon style, which at least provides a basic structure for the player to work through in order to find a style that they might be comfortable with for the next, oh, two hundred hours or so. On the flipside, it’s a shame that the game doesn’t really tell you about these tutorials – they just appear buried in a menu, somewhere.

But what about people returning to Monster Hunter with Generations – or even those returning to Generations for the second time, in this so-called Ultimate guise? Well, this is where it gets trickier. There are twenty four hours in every day and I work for about twelve of them. Currently, I sleep for about six, which leaves me about six hours per day playing Monster Hunter Generations (some of which, I admit, I spend interacting with my children whilst they scream at the TV because daddy’s been eaten again.) Such is the size and scale of this game, I’m just not sure I’ll have seen enough of it to tell you everything you need to know.

I started Monster Hunter Generations with no 3DS save game to load from (though you can pull yours in, should you wish) and a mountain of work to do. There are literally tens of thousands of items to craft from, hundreds of individual arenas to scour, numerous monsters (and variants of them) to kill and then turn into yet more fancy armours. There are recipes to discover and make in order to confer a temporary benefit and there are all these different weapons to experiment with. Two of these styles (Valour and Alchemy) are brand new, whilst there are also a number of special moves known as Hunter Arts to experiment with.

Getting to the point, I haven’t seen it all yet, but I can confirm that beyond even the hardest quests from the original Generations, Ultimate now features what the game calls G-Rank quests, which are inconceivably challenging and demand that only those with the finest equipment and a great deal of experience should apply. That said, if you reach the G-Rank quests, you probably already qualify. The original game featured battles with four formidable elder dragons and Ultimate adds a fifth, as well as a number of variants. Capcom claim that Generations Ultimate has the largest roster of monsters in the series and I’m not one to argue, though the same model is often used and re-skinned to suit a given environment.

And so here I am wondering whether I should recommend Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate or not, based on what will probably seem like a fairly negative review – or at least a nitpicking one. It’s unfortunate that it comes across that way, but in truth the reason that Capcom moved away from the original Monster Hunter model with World is as clear as the reason why characters in Resident Evil games don’t rotate on the spot and only move in straight lines anymore. For some players, the nostalgic feel is great, but for most people picking up Monster Hunter for the first time with Generations, there will be a real hurdle to get over in terms of how the game plays, how the characters move, how combat works and throughout many other features in the game play.

That said, don’t take some of the negative or slightly nitpicking comments that I’ve made dissuade you, there’s still an awful lot to like here. Generations Ultimate offers perhaps twice as much content as even the next largest Switch game (Breath of the Wild or Skyrim) and whilst there is a certain repetitiveness to the hunting and questing cycle, it’s very rarely boring or dull. This is thanks to the sheer variety of locations to explore, as well as the creatures that inhabit them, I think, but no doubt when the game launches, it will also be because I expect the online community to be fairly large and dedicated.

The Switch specific aspects of the game are relatively spartan and really just consist of the innate ability to switch between docked and handheld modes. I remain convinced that I’ll never be able to deal with the “proper” quests in Monster Hunter because I can’t hold the console firmly enough for the length of time needed without mangling my fingers, but that’s a very specific problem and not one that applies to most people. When docked, I think the game looks good and now that I’m used to that classic gameplay loop, I have enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy) my time with Generations Ultimate greatly. As a purely “big screen” experience though? I prefer Monster Hunter World.

To close out then, I think that players new to Monster Hunter who only own a Switch should seriously consider investing in Generations Ultimate – it’s a huge, deep and very rewarding RPG that does something no other series really does. It requires real mastery to make the most of and the ramp up is steep, but it’s worth it in the end. Chances are, you’ll be able to enjoy it either handheld or at home (and you’ll probably already know whether or not long handheld sessions are possible for you) and there’s a great game to be found here. That said, if you’ve also got an Xbox, PS4 or gaming PC, then starting with World would offer a more palatable step into the series.

VERDICT

If you’re a returning fan then you’ll almost certainly have made your mind up. Generations Ultimate offers more of everything that made classic Monster Hunter so popular – it has more monsters, more places to visit, more quests, more craftables and more of everything else, plus you can play it either at home or on the move. What’s not to like? No matter what I say about Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, it’s most definitely a massive and worthwhile addition to the Switch’s already impressive library, even if it remains a fairly niche one in terms of how it plays and who it is likely to appeal to.

8/10

The post Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (Switch) Review appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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Next-Gen Gaming Blog by Ben Ward - 9M ago

Still atop the throne… Mostly.

Game: PES 2019
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Reviewed on:  PS4 Pro (Review code provided)

The King returned last year with PES 2018, a game that I personally really enjoyed despite it seeming to split some of the community. PES 2019 takes a few steps further in the right direction, but doesn’t quite keep up the pace of improvements that we’ve seen over the past few iterations.

The first thing to say about PES 2019 is that it looks unbelievable. From the lighting, to the detail on the players faces, everything on the pitch looks absolutely fantastic. The level of Detail has been improved during gameplay, giving you a much crisper look overall, particularly when running at 4k, and the improvements to the overall presentation go far beyond those as well. Animations have been tweaked, added and improved, and quick substitutions have been added, which allow you to swiftly move through all of your players (as opposed to just having presets) and make changes on the fly whenever the ball goes out of play without needing to trawl through some menus to do so. It’s a relatively small quality of life improvement, but it’s one that definitely helps the game flow a lot more.

Elsewhere on the pitch, the game looks and feels incredibly smooth. “Visible Fatigue” has been touted in this year’s game, and it’s definitely on show, with players starting to look completely knackered as you approach the business end of the 90. Instead of just moving slower, players will react differently, and occasionally pull up or not chase balls on the AI team if they’re feeling the strain. It’s a new feature that will undoubtedly shift the balance of a few matches as you try and strike that perfect balance between all-out attack and cagey defensive play. Outside of this, the game plays much like last year’s title. Obviously it’s not just a re-skin of last year’s game, but the heritage definitely shows. The more measured pace of 2018 has more or less been retained, and after fiddling with some camera angles and other things that everyone always finds a way to complain about, you undoubtedly feel like the game is earning that “This feels like real football” tag that you so often see on social media. Games ebb and flow with all the tension and drama of the beautiful game, with goals almost popping up from anywhere thanks to some revamped shooting controls.

In fact, the shooting feels as good as it ever has in PES, if not more so, thanks to a few new methods. Depending on how you want to play, you can now have a much more granular level of control when it comes to thrashing the ball into the onion bag, with an advanced shooting mechanic. It takes a while to get used to, but once you find the sweet spot for the first time, there’s no better feeling. Lashing a screamer into the top corner from 35 yards out never felt so sweet! Ball physics have been tweaked as well, leading to a more unpredictable flight at times, but a much more realistic feeling entity, that still feels completely detached from the players, something that FIFA repeatedly seems to struggle with.

Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room. While the on-pitch game has improved yet again for PES, the off-field drama, so much like in reality, has been grabbing the headlines. The loss of the Champion’s League license to FIFA, along with the somewhat disheartening licensing kerfuffle with the likes of BVB, have been big talking points in the community. Additionally, the situation with some of the leagues being removed, such as the Italian and Spanish second tier. The official reasoning was to do with disc space limitations, which led to some in the community feeling aggrieved that these were not being included. In addition, there is a weird licensing situation with the Brazilian national team lineup, but Konami are hopeful that the correct lineup can be patched in later via a data pack. The correct kits are all there, but the players aren’t. It’s a weird situation that I hope can be resolved swiftly, either by official or unofficial means. It feels right to mention here that edit mode is still incredibly comprehensive, and just as straightforward to import kits as it has been since 2017, meaning you can import the entire Premier League kits and names with just a couple of button presses)

To counteract these criticisms though, Konami have been plucking licenses from world football’s tree in as many places as they can. Dortmund’s loss is offset by the addition of Schakle, while the addition of the SPL is much-requested one that even the giants in Vancouver have ignored for a number of years, and it’s going to make an awful lot of people happy north of the border when the Old Firm stadiums get patched into the game in the coming weeks. Additionally, the licenses from Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Argentina, Belgium, Portugal and Chile are present and correct, which indicates that while Konami don’t have the zeroes in the bank to go after the Premier League and EFL, they are listening and are trying to pick up as many options for people as they possibly can with the resources that they do have available to them.

Master League has had a few tweaks, with full pre-seasons being made available to people this time out, which includes the “International Champions Cup” (no, you can’t have a prize for guessing what that’s meant to be), as well as improved transfer windows, and the addition of those new licensed leagues making things all the more “real” feeling.

Also promised is a huge MyClub update, but as things stand I’ve not been able to try this out due to the servers not being live before embargo. As a result, my score stands as a result of the offline game ONLY

https://youtu.be/Ch7kkEA7vGo

VERDICT

As soon as you cross that white line in PES 2019, you immediately feel at home. Gameplay tweaks have been given the right level of subtlety, with benefits being reaped in all areas of the gameplay. Presentation value has been upped, with plenty of care and attention being paid to the new animations and gameplay traits, and the new shooting options make you feel like a god when you finally nail that top-bins screamer. New licenses make things feel a bit more impressive, but the Champions League license was a big one, and there is a definite void in some of the presentation as a result. It’s a shame that there’s a much bigger boy in the playground with all of the money, and we’re starting to see what happens when that money gets thrown about, because PES 2019 makes some baby steps forward on the pitch, which elevate it to be the best it’s been in a long, long time.

8.5/10

The post PES 2019 Review appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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Next-Gen Gaming Blog by Kitana Media - 9M ago

Stranger Things Have Happened…

Game: Strange Brigade
Developer: Rebellion
Publisher: Rebellion
Reviewed on: PS4 (Review Code Provided)
Reviewed by Matt Golding

What do you get when you put together Tomb Raider and Indiana jones, Well this game is your answer. Strange Brigade is such a fun third person action-cum-puzzle solving game with some very witty English humour.

Strange Brigade is set in the early 1930’s where where a group of Strange heroes are wanting to save the world from the evil Queen Seteki, Traveling through the jungle and dangerous tombs in search of her tomb and stop her. You can play as one of four of the fearless fortune hunters, Archimedes de Quincey, Nalangu Rushida, Frank Fairburne or Gracie Braithwaite, in which you try and stop the evil witch queen Seteki and her mummified monsters. Each level gets you one step closer to stopping the evil queen, but each level gets even more difficult as you go on.
You come across many different enemies from simple mummies to dangerous assassins, being attacked by hordes of enemies stopping you from getting that one step closer to fighting Seteki. Each hunter gets equipped with a simple range of weapons and an amulet in which you charge by killing enemies and collecting their soul. There are plenty of traps in each level which you can use to your advantage to kill any of those enemies try and attack you, as well as making sure you dodge them yourself!

Throughout the levels you can search around collecting health potions, ammo, gold coins, ancient artefacts and special weapons, and you can also upgrade you weapons at little camps that you come across during your adventure. Finding special stones allows you to upgrade your weapons which adds such things like, less recoil, increased ammunition or even more damage. Each character starts with an amulet which have their own distinct power, for example Frank Fairburne’s amulet power-up allows you to dash the enemy, killing them instantly, whereas Gracie’s grabs the enemy, swings them round her head and launches them into a crowd, exploding on impact.

As the game progresses, you’ll find special cases sitting in the levels where you can purchase a one-time use special weapon, which are often infused with special powers. After then end of each level you can have a chance to purchase new weapons, upgrade old weapons and even purchase a new amulet, meaning your range of powers can expand as well.

There’s a couple of modes within the game to try out as well – If you want to go through the campaign you can do, or you can try your dab hand at the likes of the horde mode and score attack, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. All of this can either be done solo, or with up to 3 others online. It’s an incredibly tough challenge to do it solo, but you do get to keep all of the loot that’s offered up, whereas you need to either call it out and share it with your comrades in multiplayer, or otherwise make sure you get there before the greedy ones! In addition to the main areas, you’ve got a ton of secret areas to try and get through – each with their own puzzles to combat. These do tend to get a little bit repetitive though, particularly some of the “snake” puzzles that litter the environment.

Visually, the game is pretty impressive. Environments are well detailed, with enough changes between levels to keep things fresh. The art design is refreshing, with its 1930s aesthetic finding its way into every part of the game. Even the introduction of new enemies is incredibly campy, which is just tons of fun. One part of this game which I find brilliant is the typical English humour. All the way through the game there’s a commentator, who may as well have been ripped straight from a 1930s radio play. Regardless of what you’re doing, he just likes to give you random words of encouragement or will give you some proper stick, and to me that’s a genius addition.

The gameplay is fun and so smooth when moving around the map, and the traversal is very similar to Sniper Elite. With this type of game, you have to make sure that the shooting element is just right, I think the boys at Rebellion have done well, it is relatively accurate and there is no lag between shooting and the enemy reaction. They’ve taken a well-earned break from Sniper Elite and come back with something that’s just tons of fun.

Having sung the game’s praises this far, I will say that the one thing I’d like to have seen is a bit more variety. Ultimately, the levels follow the same pattern of “puzzle, horde, puzzle, kill, boss”, and it’s something that I’d like to have seen expanded on a little bit, as the concept behind it is so strong. Another thing that would’ve been nice to see would be a local split-screen co-op mode. With the game being online only, it takes away from what could well be an awesome fun game to sit on the couch with a mate blasting at the undead, but I appreciate the technical limitations behind why this isn’t possible.

VERDICT

In summary, this is an immensely fun online co-op shooter. The sense of humour runs through the entire game and feels really good to play. Single player gets to be really tough at points, but this is a game designed to play with friends. A little bit more variety in mission types would have been the icing on the cake, but as it stands this is a game that’s got me itching to play more. Now go get them, Strange Brigade!

8/10

The post Strange Brigade Review appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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It’s time for another podcast!

Ben, Jonny and Kieran talk through the biggest news of the week, including:

– Fire Pro Wrestling World!
– New Graphics Cards!
– New Xbox Bundles!
– Formula 1!
– PES 2019!
– Gamescom!

AND MORE!

Don’t forget to like and subscribe, leave us a review, and we’ll see you next week!

The post Podcast 131 – I’ll Take All of the Graphics, Please! appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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Bundles Galore

Microsoft announced a bunch of Xbox One X (and S) bundles during Gamescom and they’re available to pre-order now. The bundles include games such as Battlefield V, PUBG, Forza Horizon 4 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Each box also has unique artwork which I’m particularly quite fond of.

Some deals are better than others, it has to be said, but if you’re planning on upgrading your console you may as well get a free game or two with it. If you decide to pick up the special edition Battlefield V bundle you’ll also be getting your hands on a limited edition Gold Rush Xbox One X.

Each bundle comes with a 1-month Game Pass trial and 14-days of Xbox Live.

Xbox One X Gold Rush Special Edition Battlefield V Bundle (1TB)
  • Xbox One X Gold Rush Special Edition 1TB console
  • Xbox Wireless controller
  • Battlefield V Deluxe Edition
  • Battlefield 1943
  • 1-month EA Access

Available 16/10/18

£449.99

Pre-order now

Xbox One X Battlefield V Bundle (1TB)
  • Xbox One X 1TB console
  • Xbox wireless controller
  • Battlefield V Deluxe Edition

Available 16/10/18

£449.99

Pre-order now

Xbox One X Forza Horizon 4 Bundle (1TB)
  • Xbox One X 1TB console
  • Xbox Wireless controller
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Forza Motorsport 7

Available 2/10/18

£449.99

Pre-order now

Xbox One X Fallout 76 Bundle (1TB)
  • Xbox One X 1TB console
  • Xbox wireless controller
  • Fallout 76

£449.99

Pre-order now

Xbox One X Shadow of the Tomb Raider Bundle (1TB)
  • Xbox One X 1TB console
  • Xbox wireless controller
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Available 14/9/18

£449.99

Pre-order now

Xbox One X PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS Bundle (1TB)
  • Xbox One X 1TB console
  • Xbox wireless controller
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

£449.99

Buy now

The post Xbox One X Holiday Bundles are available to pre-order now appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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Next-Gen Gaming Blog by Andrew Beeken - 9M ago

Wrestlevania

Game: Guacamelee! 2
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
Reviewed on: Playstation 4 (Review code provided)

The original Guacamelee, released on PS3 in 2013 and eventually ported to pretty much every system going, was a huge game for me. I discovered it at a time when a number of things in my life were in upheaval and its bright colours, silly humour and jazzed up mexicana tunes kept my head largely above water. I’ve revisited it a few times and it’s a game that’s aged really well, so when Drinkbox and Sony announced a sequel in October 2017, due to hit PS4 as a (possibly) timed exclusive in 2018, I was more than excited to jump back into the shoes of the world saving Luchador, Juan.

So, what is a Guacamelee? Well, it’s an action platform game in the Metroidvania mould with a focus on wrestling inspired melee combat, traversal puzzles and a slew of pop culture and meme inspired gags. The player takes on the role of the aforementioned Juan, a Luchador wrestler who, in the first game, was tasked with rescuing the kidnapped daughter of El Presidente who also happens to be his one true love. Obviously Juan succeeds and, after a brief recap of the first games finale, Guacamelee 2 takes us forward a number of years. Juan is now overweight and depowered when a new threat emerges in the form of an evil Luchador hell bent on discovering a legendary guacamole recipe to prolong his life – however his actions are having a destructive effect on the “Mexiverse”, a series of parallel worlds. Portals are opening everywhere and skeletal foes are infiltrating the different realities, realities that could be destroyed forever if Juan doesn’t step up and do something about it.

As with the first game, Guacamelee 2 is all about exploring a large world full of Mexicana and pop culture influenced nonsense. Saying “nonsense” sounds dismissive, but it’s genuinely the best way to describe the overall feel of these games. They’re silly in the way that classic comedy like Monty Python is, full of word play and non-sequiters. It’s great and genuinely refreshing to find a modern game that eschews a grimdark aesthetic for bright primary colours and a ridiculous sense of humour. The world of Guacamelee 2, while large, is also somewhat more linear than most Metroidvania style games, with your current path clearly laid out for you. Sure, there are side areas that you can only access with certain abilities, which encourages a degree of backtracking, but there is never a point where you hit a wall and can’t progress without exploration. Oh no, in Guacamelee 2 you’ll hit a very different kind of wall…

The main challenge in this game comes in the form of traversal puzzles. As Juan goes about his quest he will gain new abilities – a dash punch, an uppercut, an “Eagle Jump” which allows him to tether to points in the world and pull himself along. As you progress further into the game you have to use these abilities to propel yourself around tricky platforming and combat puzzles. Some enemies glow a specific colour, for example – a shield that can only be destroyed by using a specific attack. Or, you’ll find yourself in a room full of insta-death spikes which you need to propel yourself around using combinations of moves ala Super Meat Boy. Jump, mid air uppercut, dash punch, Eagle Jump and maybe you’ll hit that platform that’s juuuust out of reach. The trick comes with remembering combos and how different trick can chain into each other, but this also brought my only real headache with the game. You see, sometimes the move chains just will not work the way you expect them to . Maybe it’s the incredibly precise timing required, maybe it’s the finnicky controls, maybe it’s a specific frame pattern that just hasn’t clicked, but there were moments in the game where I spent ages just trying to clear certain rooms, repeatedly failing on jumps or moves that I clearly shouldn’t be missing. It got frustrating and nearly ended up in one or two stroppy controller throws which is something I hardly ever do when gaming. Thankfully these were few and far between but the nature of the failures made them feel unfair, rather than challenging.

If you can soldier through these, though, Guacamelee 2 is a ridiculously solid game. The combat is chunky and, while it feels complex, is actually remarkably accessible. On top of a basic three hit combo and the aforementioned special moves, Juan can also grapple enemies. Hit them enough times and a button prompt will appear giving you the chance to grab and throw them – you can use this to your advantage by throwing them into environmental hazards or other enemies. You’ll also find NPC’s in the game who will unlock a series of tech trees that you can progress through by spending in game gold. Give yourself more health or more stamina to allow you to pull off more special moves, buff your existing moveset or even invest in some wrestling moves to suplex or pile drive your enemies when you grab them. The late game combat can get hectic, but buffing and adding to your moves will make you feel like a proper Lucha-superhero and the thwack of fist on skeleton face is supremely satisfying.

On top of the main story campaign, which can be finished off in around 9 hours or so, there’s a huge amount of side content to discover. The aforementioned secret areas are opened up by destroying coloured blocks with specific moves, something which encourages backtracking, and contain some of the games biggest traversal challenges and often result in large a cache of treasure or health and stamina boosts. There are also doors to other realities to discover – while these primarily exist to add some more ridiculous gags to the story, they can also provide a healthy supply of treasure and often come with a trophy for those of you who enjoy hunting down virtual shinies. Add to that a silly subplot about the chicken illuminati and… oh, did I not mention the chickens?

Guacamelee 2 is full of chickens. There are so many chickens. As with the first game, Juan eventually acquires the ability to turn into a chicken to fit through small gaps, this games answer to Metroid’s morph ball (y cant guacamelee crawl?) and the devs at Drinkbox have gone out of their way to make the chicken mode far more integral to the action this time round. The chicken, or Pollo mode, now has its own tech tree and series of special moves to use and upgrade. Sometimes puzzles will require you to switch between human and pollo mid traversal, sometimes enemies can only be damaged as a chicken… yes, it’s all super silly but there’s nothing more fun than seeing a chicken pull of a suplex on a skeletal bat monster thing. There just isn’t.

When it comes down to it, Guacamelee 2 is pretty much MORE Guacamelee. That isn’t a bad thing and the mechanics largely feel more refined over the first game (with the exception of the aforementioned finicky controls) with better telegraphed secret areas and some shinier visual effects. Also, if you’re someone who has friends that like to come and visit them, the local co-op mode makes a welcome return, only this time you and up to three friends can gang up to tackle the nefarious forces of evil! It’s just as mad as it sounds!

VERDICT

A bright, fun and funny Metroidvania which will bring a smile to anyone’s face. It’s a shame the finnicky controls can let it down in some of its trickier platforming sections, but they don’t entirely spoil the overall experience, making Guacamelee 2 another essential purchase.

9/10

The post Guacamelee 2 Review appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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A Supermassive mess in your pants

Supermassive Games, the developer behind Until Dawn, has announced a new horror anthology – The Dark Pictures – and it’s going multiplatform. The first in the series is titled ‘Man of Medan’ and features the usual set up of teens in the middle of nowhere getting done in by supernatural forces. The plucky teens come across a Ghost Ship adrift in the South Pacific so they obviously jump on board to have a nosey. Unfortunately for them, the boat appears to be filled with zombie creatures and nurses who like to pull terrifying faces.

The trailer doesn’t show much in the terms of gameplay but I’d assume it’ll work on a similar format to Until Dawn. Multiple choices and paths through the story with the potential to kill off characters if you don’t use your better judgement. Sign me up!

The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan - PS4 / Xbox1 / PC - Announcement Trailer - YouTube

Man of Medan releases next year on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

The post Supermassive Games Announces new Horror Anthology appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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Next-Gen Gaming

Gamescom is underway and what better way to kick off proceedings than to announce the next generation of NVIDIA Graphics Cards? Well, it’s to announce they’re available to pre-order too.

PNY Technologies announced that they are taking immediate pre-orders of the new NVIDIA GPUs which were unveiled during the ‘GeForce Gaming Celebration’. The two-day event kicked off this evening and will give gamers a chance to go hands-on with a bunch of new games including Battlefield V, Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. If you’re over in Cologne for the week, be sure to head over to Hall 10.1, Booth E-072.

If you aren’t, then fret not, as you can find out all about the new cards below alongside pre-order info should you want to grab one, or two, of these beasts.

The new GPUs certainly talk the talk and walk the walk. They’re touted as the ‘ultimate gaming experience’ powered by NVIDIA Turing GPU architecture and the new NVIDIA RTX platform. What does this mean to us mere mortals?

“…the new graphics cards bring together real-time ray tracing, artificial intelligence, and programmable shading”

The new GPUs come in a variety of flavours:

PNY® GeForce® RTX 2080 Ti XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition

Said to be modelled after a stealth jet, the 3-fan aluminium cooled GPU includes high-speed GDDR6 memory which ‘pushes gaming into a whole other stratosphere’.

PNY GeForce® RTX 2080 and PNY GeForce® RTX 2070 XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition Triple Fan

The 2080 is a slightly smaller card but still packs a punch with high-speed GDDR6 memory and support for real-time ray tracing.

PNY GeForce® RTX 2080 and PNY GeForce® RTX 2070 XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition Dual Fan

This smaller card has been overclocked to ensure that it plays the latest games with ease. This card, as with the others, has GDDR6 memory meaning it’s no small time fry when it comes to upgrading your PC.

PNY GeForce® RTX 2080 Dual Fan

The Dual Fan RTX 2080 is a much more subtle card but still supports real-time ray tracing with its GDDR6 memory.

PNY GeForce® RTX 2080 Ti Blower, PNY GeForce® RTX 2080 Blower and PNY GeForce® RTX 2070 Blower

The smallest of the new GPUs is engineered with reliability and stability in mind. The card is built around a radial fan which directs hot air out the rear of the card to limit any overheating.

The GPUs will be available today at participating retailers so keep your eyes peeled!

The post New Generation of NVIDIA GeForce Graphics Cards available to pre-order now appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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Next-Gen Gaming Blog by Ben Ward - 9M ago

And it’s GO! GO! GO! (And buy this game!)

Game: F1 2018
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Reviewed on:  PS4 (Pro, Review code provided)

The Formula 1 series has been a fascinating one to watch grow over the past 4 years or so. I’ve reviewed every one of them since F1 2014, which didn’t release on the PS4 and Xbox One, instead dropping on the PC and previous gen machines. Since 2015’s disappointing release, however, the series has gone from strength to strength, layering features on top of systems, which genuinely feel like this year’s iteration is the culmination of years of hard work that Codemasters can be genuinely proud of.

First thing’s first, the new cars and tracks are in the game, with all of the drivers in the correct teams. It’d be a pretty disappointing release if they weren’t, right? The controversial halo is present and correct on all of the cars, which gives you an indication of how difficult it is for the drivers to get a handle on things with a great big line down the centre of your vision. It’s a weird addition to the game, and honestly had me playing mostly using the “TV Pod” camera, allowing me to see the corners and dynamic racing lines popping up ahead of me (yes, I’m that guy, sue me). Faithful recreations of Germany’s tight Hockenheimring and France’s quick but twisty Circuit Paul Ricard are in, keeping true to the F1 2018 season.

Elsewhere, there aren’t a whole host of real gameplay changes, outside of things generally feeling a little bit tighter and deliberate than 2017’s outing. That’s not to say that last year’s was bad (quite the opposite, in fact), but this time out it just feels a bit “snappier”, and it’s all the better for it. Of course, there are the traditional array of driver and vehicle assists, to ensure that you can make it off the starting grid, and through to the end, and there’s an impressively granular level of driver AI, helping you to nudge up the levels of challenge step by step until you’re feeling confident enough to take on the pack without it being a simple case of holding down the accelerator.

The career mode is back once again, after a successful reintroduction in 2016. This time out it feels a bit deeper, with interviews being introduced into the fabric of the already substantial mode. It’s a great touch that really helps you sink into the story, and it’s something other games should take notice of, as it’s implemented extremely well. Also making a welcome return is the “Events” mode. This is one that I didn’t really end up spending too much time with last year, but it feels like an attempt to branch out into the “Games as a Service” model, pushing out scenarios in which you have a series of objectives to hit in order to complete. The one that was live during my review period was one where you had to fight your way into the points from 14th in the pack, over the course of 11 laps, in a Renault that’s got a pace advantage over the majority of the cars in front. It’s a cool mode, and one that I’ll probably hang around in and try to claw my way up the leaderboards going forward.

Honestly, it’s getting harder to review these games each year. The changes that the devs are making are all for the best when it comes to tightening up the gameplay and making sure little technical quibbles from last year’s game are eradicated, to the point where this season’s release feels technically flawless. Visually, the game gets more impressive each year, right down to the way the sun glints off the mottled metal of the Rolex signage adorning the ad boards over the track. The racing is at a solid 60fps (aside from the rear-view mirrors, which are noticeably running at half of that), and the only real jarring moments come in during the post-race celebrations when the frame rate gets a little choppy, but these moments have no impact whatsoever on my enjoyment of the game. (Seriously, I don’t mind if my champagne-soaked Lewis Hamilton avatar is smiling like a lunatic in 20 or 40fps). One thing that never seems to change though is just how much enjoyment I seem to get out of these titles year-on-year. Nothing quite beats the pant-soilingly terrifying moments when you feel like you’re just about to lose control of a microscopically engineered 1000bhp machine as you hit a damp patch on the track exiting a meandering chicane at nearly 200mph. It’s a thrill that I would not want to experience in reality, but one that has caused me more panic than a lot of full-fledged horror titles have managed over the past couple of years.

VERDICT

Some people might well say that F1 2018 is a purely iterative title. While there is only so much that can be done in an annual release cycle for a licenced racing title, Codemasters are really proving that they know what they’re doing when it comes to open wheel racing. Whether you want a deep and intricate simulation, or a quick and easy blast around Silverstone, the series keeps getting better and better, and this year is no exception. You can’t get more real without donning a jumpsuit that smells like Moet & Chandon with a suspicious hint of urine.

9/10

The post F1 2018 Review appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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Dualshock Phwoar

Three new special edition Dualshock 4 controllers are coming out in October and if you’re visiting Gamescom this week you’ll be able to see them on display.

The Berry Blue controller – releasing October 23rd – sports a blue and purple duo-tone look which should appeal to Villa or West Ham fans. The controller is fairly similar to the Sunset Orange controller which is also returning for a limited re-release on the 18th of September.

A new limited-edition Copper controller is also joining the gold, silver and steel-black controllers in the metallic range. The controller has a metallic copper front with a pale copper backing and releases on the 30th of October.

There’s also a third controller but I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

The post New PS4 Controller variants coming October appeared first on Next-Gen Gaming Blog.

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