Category Archives: PC Reviews

Team Fortress 2: Jungle Inferno update – day two – Review 

This is a continuation of a four part review. To read part one click here.

Day 2:

After a few early morning hours of doubtful waiting, the second day of Team Fortress 2’s Jungle Inferno update is upon us and with it comes a whole host of new and welcome additions.

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The “new” contracker contracts system. Image Credit – Update Page

Contracts, introduced in the 2015 Gun Mettle update, return once more. As a quick explanation for those who missed the Gun Mettle update, it introduced a limited-time £3.99 “contract pass”. Owning this pass granted the user two unique weekly challenges (or contracts), these were relatively simple tasks, “get 10 kills as sniper” or “sap five dispensers as spy”. Completion of contracts rewarded the player with a unique weapon skin. Unlike the Gun Mettle update, however, the contracts from Jungle Inferno are accessed from the “contracker”. Whilst Gun Mettle contracts were plagued by arbitrary time constraints, the “contracker” lets you do any contract you want at any time in a system eerily similar to Counter Strike’s “campaign” system.

Whilst the method of getting contracts has moved towards a much more Counter Strike style system, the rewards system has shifted to a more unique approach. Whilst in Counter Strike (and previous Tf2 updates) rewards consist of a unique weapon skin or a case, Jungle Inferno grants you “war paints” or “blood money” (no not the Hitman game, as awesome as it would be, instead “blood money” is a new type of currency used to buy war paint).

War paints are effectively just skins in a can. As a devout sniper player, the barrage of battered shotguns I received from Gun Mettle contracts that I would inevitably never use, was immensely frustrating. “War paint” eliminates this problem as it allows you to apply the pattern you want, to the weapon you want, a very welcome change.

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Image credit – RockPaperShotgun

For players with more money than sense, two new cases have been introduced. Both contain a set of community and valve created cosmetics, with some being able to be earned via contract rewards. They are all jungle themed and give players access to shed loads of new apparel combinations in the veritable fancy dress party that is Team Fortress 2.

A new set of weapons is teased throughout the update page, including a banana for heavy and a flamethrower for pyro leaving the community waiting, with baited breath, for day 3. Stay tuned folks.

Team Fortress 2: Jungle Inferno update – day one – Review 

Day 1:

After an almost 500 day period of inactivity, valve have ended their apparent hiatus and delivered the newest Team Fortress 2 update: Jungle Inferno.

Image Credit – www.teamfortress.com/

Its fair to say that last year (especially when it comes to Team Fortress 2) valve made mistakes. The July 2016 Meet Your Match update, that introduced competitive matchmaking, absolutely ruined the TF2 experience for many, even the most die-hard fans like myself.

The question on every players mind right now is, “is it time to get back to TF2?” Time to dust off those character action figures? Time to once more proudly display your Mann Co. wall posters. Time to sip on some Bonk! Atomic Punch and boot up Team Fortress 2.

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Time to boot up one of my most played games again?

So far, first impressions seem good. Today marks day one of the whopping four day Jungle Update.  With a fantastic new animated short so rich in lore that it will surely cause any fan to squeal in delight, a lot of new taunts and teasers as what’s to come day one on its own would have constituted a fantastic update.

Why stay cooped up indoors this winter? Venture into Jungle Inferno’s series of tropical themed maps. Say “goodbye” to the stuffy, dusty dustbowls and gravel pits of the USA and say “hello” to the warm jungles of Brazil.

And now begins the waiting game. So far the Jungle Inferno update looks to be one of the best updates in Team Fortress history. What wonders will day two hold? Only time will tell. Stay tuned folks.

Ride To Hell Retribution – Review

 

The title “worst game ever made” gets thrown around a lot these days. Unlike classics such as Atari’s E.T, Superman on the Nintendo 64 and Big Rigs Over the Road that have all in turn been coined as the worst games ever, most modern contenders, like Duke Nukem: Forever merely just wallow in mediocrity.

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Ride To Hell (1%)? Retribution

This all changed when the 2013 title Ride To Hell Retribution reinvigorated the “bad game” genre. Dragged out of a fiery hell chasm by developers Eutechnyx and published by Deep Silver, Ride To Hell Retribution is awe-inspiringly bad.

The story follows Jake Conway, a Vietnam war veteran who looks like hes been hit in the face by a shovel one too many times, on his courageous and daring quest to bring the murderous biker gang that killed his brother to justice. The game begins with an impromptu turret section (the developers having apparently just stepped out of a time machine to 2010) and a series of random disconnecting events occurring at the same time. A motorbike race, a brawl, helicopter jumps and a man talking blankly at the screen all fade on and off screen with no context creating an almost trippy fever-dream like effect.

A nonsensical intro transitions into an ever more confusing driving sequence. This sequence is where the game’s core fighting mechanic rears it’s ugly head. A series of quick time events. Its like that one infamously bad bar-fight mission in Hitman Absolution. It’s as if that tumour from Hitman dropped off and evolved. Evolved into the horrible mutated mass that is Ride To Hell.

The Hitman barfight

Ride To Hell‘s voice acting is legendarily poor, sounding like it was recorded with a tin can and string instead of a microphone. The music is repetitive and bland. Sound effects are dull or sometimes just missing. For a game marketed by it’s motorbikes the single monotone “whirrrr” that poses as an engine noise, and gently bores into you skull, is inexcusable.

The bikes handle like they’re on an ice rink and the physics are nonsensical; a light bump on any surface causes the screen to fade to black and respawn you in the centre of the road. This occurs very often and sometimes for seemingly no reason although rather ironically, didn’t help at the multiple occasions where I fell through the floor into the great blue void of nothing.

As the title suggests, Ride To Hell is indeed a hellish experience.

Finally, Ride To Hell features some of the most hilariously broken logic ever found in gaming. Confronted with an electric fence, most people would consider maybe walking around it, cutting through it or even driving a car through it (I mean, this is a driving game right?). Well logic is not Jake Conway’s forte. Jake Conway drives 20 minutes out of his way to the power station, yes the power station, and blows it up.

This isn’t by all means everything. There so much more untouched muck in this manure-pile of a game. The gun play is terrible, the final boss fight is anticlimactic and the list goes on. Ride To Hell Retribution is an incredible experience. A textbook display of how to not make a videogame, Ride To Hell Retribution is the gaming equivalent of a freak show and definitely worth your time and money.

 

Dreadout – Review

The Dreadout franchise is the debut horror title of unassuming Indonesian developer Digital Happiness. Unfortunately, frequent glitches, terrible translation work and a comically bad plot will work in union to destroy what would have been an already clichéd horror experience.

In Dreadout your phone is your only weapon. Image Credit – Steam Store

Dreadout follows Japanese high school student Linda embarking on a school trip. After the school minivan becomes blocked by a fallen bridge the class teacher, in a mind-boggling display of educational incompetence, allows Linda and her classmates to explore an abandoned school. Night falls and (surprise) the group becomes separated, leaving Linda alone to venture into the school in search of her classmates.

After a brief prologue and cutscene you are now left to effectively freely wander around the school, solving puzzles as you go. These “puzzles” are where Dreadout’s rather “unique” design really shines through. Traditionally a game would provide you with a hint or a suggestion as to how to solve puzzles vital to progress. Dreadout, however, resolutely opts to tell you nothing. This isn’t a problem for the most part, puzzles often follow the formula “get item X use it on object X to progress”. In Dreadout most are fairly logical. For example, you come across a rope blocking your path and later you find some scissors. Logically you use the scissors to cut the rope and bam, you can progress.

Some of the puzzles are more cryptic. When Dreadout expects you to take photos of certain areas, like a specific classroom (which I might add, that looks identical to the hundred or so other classrooms you walked past just moments prior) you might find this a little unfair. When you are then expected, without any prompting, to examine the photo closely, taking note of extremely small details which hint at what to do, Dreadout’s logic becomes impossible to follow. Finding out how to solve the larger puzzles are little puzzles in themselves. Both are equally incomprehensible.

Mediocre boss fights. Image Credit – Steam Store

After some hours of traipsing around the school, Dreadout’s mediocrity really hits you. The puzzles become more illogical and complex as the game progresses, your boredom only occasionally broken by formulaic boss fights. After the second or third iteration of systematically spamming your phone camera in a ghost’s general direction as it slowly walks towards you, even the boss fights just become another chore. Dreadout plays like a “to do” list. Todo: Fight monster, find scissors, fight monster, use key etc…

Every good aspect of Dreadout is counterbalanced by a bad one. The music pleasant but the mixture of folk and contemporary jazz often doesn’t fit the tone and just destroys the atmosphere. The voice acting is surprisingly good. In contrast the subtitles are borderline illiterate. The indoor sections are too claustrophobic and the outdoor sections are just too empty and so on.

The entire game is also overly dark, being able to see only a few feet in front of you is never fun. Luckily, unlike other games that suffer from being too dark, you’ll never find yourself running into an area blind. This is because you are seemingly unable to run. Nothing is more immersive than a fit and healthy schoolgirl, screaming in terror, lightly jogging away from a terrifying monster as if only mildly inconvenienced.

After 2 episodes, 12 or so hours, of wandering around solving puzzles you are rewarded with an unsatisfying abrupt and unfitting ending.

Too empty. Image Credit – Steam Store

In short, Dreadout is a slew of underdeveloped concepts loosely tied together by the most cliché story ever told. As the few endearing aspects of the storytelling and puzzles deteriorate over the two acts, Dreadout really does nothing to keep you engaged and isn’t worth a cursory glance by most. Perhaps some diehard horror fans will appreciate the almost old-school PS2 era feel created by Dreadout, for everyone else however, it just seems dated.

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number – Review

Violent, gory and generally repugnant, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number showcases the very worst gaming has to offer. And that’s what makes it so good.

The LSD fueled cover art of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong number

Ever since the introduction of video-game age rating systems and censorship of games like Mortal combat and Manhunt, deemed to be a bad influence on children, more and more games have been challenging the status quo; gradually nudging the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable. The original Hotline Miami was as much an orgy of intense arcade style fun as it was a parody of senseless modern video-game violence.

Hotline Miami‘s outlandish determination to push boundaries is amplified tenfold in the sequel, which is longer, even more violent and even more grotesque than its predecessor. The psychedelic visuals and pulsating soundtrack come together seamlessly to form what is an aesthetically quirky and memorable game.

Quirky Visuals. Image Credit – nuuvem.com

With a story as confusing as it’s visuals, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong number‘s lore is one you might want to do some reading on. Confusion was inevitable though, as the introduction of 13 new protagonists, each with their own unique stories which intertwine into a complex overarching narrative, paired with the game’s constant jumping back-and-forth in time and overall cryptic presentation was surely going to create some confusion.

Not only do the new protagonists bring their own stories, they also bring new gameplay features. Each protagonist feels incredibly unique and the mask system which felt lacking in Hotline Miami has been greatly improved, each new character having their own masks and each masks having a genuine effect on gameplay. In Hotline Miami many masks felt completely arbitrary, granting effects like translating the game into French, the masks in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number alter the elements of the core gameplay itself, such as allowing dual wielding or even in one case, letting you play as two characters at the same time.

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Duel Personalities: Hotline Miami 2’s Alex and Ash

The new masks and gameplay features keep the game refreshingly new and over its whopping 12 hour long campaign you will never find yourself becoming bored. The maps are well made and each one feels very different from the last. The maps are bigger than those in the original, some spanning out over three or so screens. One or two are a little overly difficult but from day one the Hotline Miami series has been known its difficulty. One weapon, hardly any ammunition, tens of enemies and one hit deaths. The rush gained from finishing a level in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is immense and only amplified by the new increased difficulty.

Some small quality of life changes have also been made to the Hotline Miami formula. The nauseous screen shaking and seizure inducing colour changes that crippled the first game have been greatly reduced, leading to a more comfortable experience. Unfortunately, due to the new level sizes some AI does seem a little more glitchy than the original, but this is by no means a deal breaker, and can even be a great asset at times. Shamelessly defeating a level by standing behind a door and insta-knocking out anyone who comes in can be an all too viable way to pass some of the hardest parts of the game.

Painting the town red

In short, the very long Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a sublime experience from start to finish and with Steam Workshop support you will want to keep coming back. Despite a few small bumps, it is an improvement on the already great Hotline Miami and is a definite must have for the hardest of gamers.

Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine – Review

A sleek and sophisticated love letter to movies all things heist; Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine manages to maintain a consistent, and beautiful art style, without sacrificing gameplay.

A team of four robbers descend on Monaco in what can only be described as Ocean’s 11 crossed with Benny Hill as you watch your heist’s careful preplanning crumble before your very hands as you frantically rush between room and room, hastily grabbing coins, your ears filled by the blaring soundtrack and assorted yells from panicked guards.

The entire game has a very unique style, your cone of vision indicated by a bright coloured light. Unseen areas are monotone floor-plans. Guards cannot be seen around corners, unless playing as the lookout character, and this creates a large sense of mystery, especially when entering an area for the first time. Although pretty, the constantly moving cones of vision become disorienting, and sometimes a little nauseating, especially when moving very fast.

The unique visuals are complemented by the superb soundtrack, a mixture of classic noire-style piano themes combined with some modern elements. The obligatory “indie-game end credits song” (Portal being patient 0 in this epidemic of quirky music) is present and fairly memorable.

The main goal of Monaco is to acquire money. A lot of money. A lot of money, very quickly. This is done through collecting brightly coloured coins, which are found gaily scattered throughout the various maps and collecting special mission objectives, represented by trophies.

Money collection in Monaco: Whats yours is mine. Image credit- www.nag.co.za

Your coin collection can be aided by helpful character abilities, such as the beggar’s monkey (a little kleptomanic furry friend intent on grabbing all things shiny).

If stealth really isn’t your style, an assortment of weapons, from the silent crossbow to the not-no-silent shotgun are available. The small ammo pool and loud noise created by these weapons makes them fairly impractical however. Combined with the minuscule aiming graticule and over-sensitive aiming, the use of weaponry is probably more trouble than its worth.

Monaco: Whats yours is mine has a huge number of (very well crafted) maps. This is ehanced by Steam Workshop support. PC users are treated to a smorgasbord of community created content. Not in the mood for CO-OP (or just dealing with frustration from repeatedly failing a heist)? Well then, try your hand at the various available PVP modes; a series of frantic coin grabbing rushes on small square maps.

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A heist gone very wrong Image Credit- GameTrailers Youtube

The jack-of-all-trades, that is Monaco even comes complete with a zombie mode for no additional cost! (*cough cough* red dead redemption we’re looking at you). The zombie mode (nicknamed “Zonaco”) and “Classic mode” alter the game’s gameplay and change aspects of maps, and even some of the musical scores, making the Monaco experience refreshingly different each time.

“Zonaco: Your flesh is mine”

 Monaco: What’s yours is mine is one of the pinnacles of indie gaming, and being recently made available on steam free of charge (for a short time) it is definitely worth a look, even when it’s not free, the small £10.99 price tag makes it a must-have for any Steam gamer. There is also a slightly more costly Xbox 360 port available. Although more expensive, and a slightly limited experience (with the lack of Steam Workshop), paired with a few other avid heisters in local co-op, you’ll surely have a blast.

Raid: World War II – Review

Raid: World War II is the spiritual “successor”  to Overkill’s Payday 2. You will come to find, however, that this “successor” has very little in the way of success.

Image Credit – Raid: World war II Steam store page

Initial impressions of Raid: World War II were poor. Very poor. After watching the beautiful cinematic trailer,  I booted up the game to be greeted by early PS3 era graphics. Disappointing. Upon playing the tutorial I began to feel a strange sense of deja-vu.

Afew matches later I realised the reason why: Raid: World War II is Payday 2. That may seem a strange statement, after all they are both seemingly different games, however, please allow me to elaborate. The shooting mechanics in Raid are copy-and-pasted from Payday 2. No aiming reticles, hip-firing and sprinting around dodging bullets all create fast-paced, blood-pumping, adrenaline-fuelled fun. Whilst this formula works in Payday, in Raid it feels very out of place.

The weaponry is probably biggest reason why the gunplay just feels so wrong. Whilst Payday 2 has an assortment of fast-firing SMGs, LMGs and even akimbo pistols, all culminating in what is an almost comic book styled fast-paced thrill ride. Raid, however, (forced with the confines of it’s time period) has slow and cumbersome bolt action rifles. There is a huge clash between what the game so clearly wants to be (Payday-style fast paced fun) and what it actually is (slow and boring).

Bolt-Action. Image Credit – ign.com

One of the many things Raid shares with Payday is it’s game engine. Payday 2 was built on the infamously poor Diesel Game Engine, an engine originally intended for racing games (hence the name). All the characteristic “features” of diesel engine are present and correct. Huge amounts of multiplayer lag, glitches galore and constant crashes are commonplace. Despite literally running on a racing engine, the game’s cars handle very poorly. Driving in Raid: World War II feels akin to skating on an ice rink while wearing a bomb disposal suit. Slow and out of your control.  Moreover, the abysmal optimisation ensures that even the best PC’s will struggle with the veritable slideshow that is Raid: World War II‘s FPS

Most of all, Raid: World War II just reeks of laziness. The reuse of the Diesel engine has allowed the developers to copy copious amounts of Payday 2 into their supposedly “new” game. The features that weren’t directly copied, such as the stealth system, have just been made worse. Stealth in Payday 2 was carefully sneaking around with silenced pistols, answering guard pagers with baited breath and tense moments when you’re on the verge of being spotted. In Raid all it takes if for one guard to glimpse you out of the corner of his eye and bam! Gunshots. Sirens. Frustration.

Raid and Payday are both games that rely heavily on replayability. The randomised elements of maps and RPG style skill-trees that so gripped players in Payday are no longer present, instead what remains are a few samey maps and a mediocre class system.

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The four playable characters of Raid: World War II

The real cherry on top of the laziness sundae that is Raid: World War II is the direct copying of maps from Payday 2. This is seen most prevalently in the map “rogues gallery” which is a literally 1 for 1 copy of Payday 2‘s jewellery store. The only difference being the slight texture changes and the removal of some cvillian NPC’s (probably because they were too lazy to actually program new civilian actions).

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Raid: World War II (left) VS Payday 2 (Right)

Raid: World War II is an shamefully poor attempt at a money-grab. A downgrade to Payday 2 in literally every way coupled with a price tag almost 3 times that of Payday 2(£30.99 vs £10.99) make Raid: World War II a game you should definitely steer-clear of. The only thing Raid does right, is making you want to experience Payday 2 all over again, and remember what made that game great.