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we explore the launch lIne-up!

wIn! A copy of Guinness

World records 2017 Gamer’s edition SIGNED by youTubE STAr ali-a!

you Everythingnow need to k inside!

reviewed inside!

HORIZON ZERO DAWN SHENMUE 3 tElltAlE’S gUARDIANS Of tHE gAlAxy DEAtH StRANDINg HAlO WARS 2 RESIDENt EVIl 7

EpIc SEqUEl!

the last of us part II

Joel and Ellie are back for Naughty Dog’s next masterpiece in the making

tHE lASt gUARDIAN Worth the wait?

The series reinvented


hey told us it couldn’t be done. They said it was impossible to fit 100 amazing games into one magazine cover feature. “Just calm down a bit,” they said. “Do 28 and leave it there.” But we did it anyway. And you know why? Because it’s the least our loyal readers deserve! It certainly helped that we’re currently facing one of the best upcoming game lineups ever. From intriguing new IPs such as Death Stranding, Yooka-Laylee, and Horizon Zero Dawn to the long-awaited likes of Red Dead Redemption 2, Mass Effect: Andromeda, and The Last Of Us Part II, we’re set to be spoiled rotten in 2017 and beyond. And you can read all the latest, most vital info on every single one of them right here within these humble pages. Once you’ve gorged yourself silly on that preview buffet, head over to our review section, and you’ll find it too is full of heavy hitters. Wait, do I finally get to say it?! I do! The Last Guardian is here. Phew. The question is: was it worth the wait? Find out inside… See you in the New Year and enjoy your GM!

My top picks this issue

wIN!

a copy of guinness world records gamer’s edition signed by ali-a! see p85 WIN! WIN! WIN !W IN! I !W

“We’re facing one of the best upcoming game lineups ever”

eDItor’S CHoICe

WIN! WIN! IN! WI N! !W IN

IN! WIN! WIN! W !W IN IN W

Issue 312 / January 2017

IN! WIN! W N! W IN WI !W N!

welcome

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Cover Story

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We take a microscope to Hitman’s intricate defining level, Showstopper – and chat with its creators.

only the best games are featured on GM’s cover! ver story co y co ve or r st

24

This month’s cover feature is so huge it can barely be contained by mere paper.

68

FFXV is finally here and we’re already arguing about who’s who on the GM team. Ben’s a total Prompto.

Robin Valentine – Acting Editor

Get more from your Gm!

Online at www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

…or subscribe. See p92 for details.

January 2017

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cover story

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contents

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Only the best games are featured on GM’s cover! ver story co y co ve or r st

tHe 100 GreAtest 24 GAmes oF 2017 AND beyoND! 2016 is over – congratulations, you made it! But 2017 is just beginning, and it looks absolutely blinding. So blinding, in fact, that we squinted hard and peered directly at it to compile the definitive list of everything you need to know. With secrets, shots, and key developer insights, here’s the brilliant future of videogames.

2 5GodofWar 26TheLeGendofZeLda: breaThofTheWiLd 29Shenmue3 31GhoSTreconWiLdLandS 32forhonor 33crackdoWn3 33marioSWiTch 34horiZonZerodaWn 37daySGone 38reddeadredempTion2 39reSidenTeviL7:biohaZard 41deaThSTrandinG 42maSSeffecT:andromeda 45ouTLaST2 45haLoWarS2 46Tekken7 48Tokyo42 51ocToGeddon 52prey 04

JANUARY 2017

What’s In Your Latest Issue?

LAst GUArDIAN 60 tHe Here’s a little known fact for you: the original title for Team Ico’s

latest was ‘How To Train Your Dog-Cat-Bird Monster’. Flick over to our review to find out if we managed to get him to sit and roll over.

FANtAsy Xv 68 FINAL We’ve driven the flying car. We’ve

cooked the Prime Garula Ribs. We’ve sat around the campfire. We’ve taken numerous wonky selfies. We’ve even picked our Best Boy (Prompto is Best Boy). And now, after all the chocobo races and gondola rides and furious dust-ups with wild animals, we’re ready to deliver our verdict.

reviews 64

eAGLe FLIGHt

66

steeP

72

DeAD rIsING 4

76

PLANet coAster

78

kILLING FLoor 2

Turn into a majestic bird and soar over Paris in VR. That’s one way to avoid buskers. Ubisoft’s snowy sim is… weirder than earlier showings suggested. It’s got talking mountains. Christmas comes late in Willamette, but who cares when you’ve got a mech suit and an iron chin? Build a ride, experience it in first-person, then fence in punters so they can never leave. A zombie shooter that takes gore so seriously that new technology was employed to render all the giblets.

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This month: arguments in favour of Game charging for PS VR demonstrations, and against Mafia III’s bugs. Sony’s new lineup revealed, including The Last Of Us Part II, and Chloe-centric Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Introducing Knights And Bikes, a hand-drawn adventure from former LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway devs. Remember the cat with the megaphone? More memories like this in our Final Fantasy VII retrospective. Uncharted doubloon cookies and Dragon Quest Slime gummies feature in our look at game-themed treats.

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team Gm

Issue 312/January 2017

Meet The Magazine’s Makers!

Future plc, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA Tel 01225 442244 Fax 01225 732275 Email gamesmaster@futurenet.com Web www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

Editorial

Acting Editor Robin Valentine Art Editor Rob Crossland Senior Staff Writer Ben Griffin

Contributors

Julian Benson, Louise Blain, Luke Brown, Matthew Clapham, Adam Cook, Matt Cundy, Zoe Delahunty-Light, Matthew Elliott, David Houghton, Leon Hurley, Alex Jones, Samantha Loveridge, Kirk McKeand, David Meikleham, James Nouch, Chris Schilling, Jennifer Simpkins, Tom Stone, Zoyander Street, Chris Thursten, Justin Towell, Ben Tyrer, Ben Wilson

advErtising 2

1

Commercial Sales Director Clare Dove Senior Advertising Manager Lara Jaggon Advertising Manager Mike Pyatt Director Of Agency Sales Matt Downs Advertising Director – Games Andrew Church Head Of Strategic Partnerships Clare Jonik For advertising enquiries please contact Andrew Church andrew.church@futurenet.com

markEting

Marketing Director Sascha Kimmel Marketing Manager Emma Clapp Subscriptions Marketing Manager Jemima Crow

ProduCtion & distribution

Production Controller Fran Twentyman Head of Production UK & US Mark Constance Printed in the UK by William Gibbons & Sons Ltd on behalf of Future Distributed by Marketforce, 2nd Floor, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU Overseas distribution by Marketforce

CirCulation

Trade Marketing Manager Juliette Winyard – 07551 150 984

subsCriPtions

tHe most DeDIcAteD teAm IN tHe bUsINess

Final Fantasy XV inspired the GM team to go on its own road trip this month. We got about four miles outside the city before we remembered we’re paid to stay in the office and make a magazine.

UK reader order line & enquiries 0844 848 2852 Overseas reader order line & enquiries +44 (0)1604 251045 Online enquiries www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk Email gamesmaster@myfavouritemagazines.co.uk

liCEnsing

Head Of International Licensing Matt Ellis (matt.ellis@futurenet.com) +44 (0)1225 442244 Fax +44 (0)1225 732275)

managEmEnt

Editorial Director Matthew Pierce Group Art Director Rodney Dive

Ben Griffin 1

Our hard-working senior staff writer penned so many of the entries for our gargantuan cover feature this month that we fear he’s actually forgotten any and all facts that don’t relate to games. Though admittedly he didn’t know that many in the first place.

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Discover and name a planet.

Leon Hurley

Following his hands-on this month, Leon’s decided to pay tribute to Resi 7 by not cleaning his house or emptying his fridge between now and its release. “It’s even more immersive than VR!”, he boasts. Read his impressions of the game on p39.

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Do a Hurley Access that doesn’t end in disaster. www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

2

Rob Crossland

There’ll be no New Year’s celebration for our art editor this year – he swears his partying days are behind him. Between that and his new obsession with sheds, we’re starting to think Rob’s too responsible and adult to work on a games magazine.

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Play something other than The Division.

Louise Blain

This month, our resident CultureMaster managed to discover a scary cake. Is nothing sacred? What next? A depressing crisp? A nostalgic baguette? A philosophical bowl of Ferrero Rocher? Ridiculous. Read her full culinary exposé over on p90.

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Do a pacifist run in a stealth game for once.

FuturE Publishing

Creative Director, Magazines Aaron Asadi Chief Financial Officer Penny Ladkin-Brand UK CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne Next issue on sale 26 January 2017

Future is an award-winning international media group and leading digital business. We reach more than 49 million international consumers a month and create world-class content and advertising solutions for passionate consumers online, on tablet & smartphone and in print. Future plc is a public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR). www.futureplc.com

Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne Non-executive chairman Peter Allen Chief financial Penny Ladkin- Brand Tel +44 (0)207 042 4000 (London) Tel +44 (0)1225 442 244 (Bath)

© Future Publishing Limited 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. The registered office of Future Publishing Limited is at Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA. All information contained in this magazine is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this magazine. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Future a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine, including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage. Future Games: The First Choice For Gamers. This magazine is brought to you by Future Publishing Ltd., the makers of Edge, PC Gamer, Official XBox Magazine and Official PlayStation Magazine.

We are committed to only using magazine paper which is derived from well managed, certified forestry and chlorine-free manufacture. Future Publishing and its paper suppliers have been independently certified in accordance with the rules of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).


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The best of your emails, tweets, and carrier pigeon death threats

Post GamesMaster, Future, Quay House, The ambury, Bath, Ba1 1au, uK

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If Mafia III could have maintained the style and pacing of its linear opening throughout, we’d have been far happier.

L E T T E R

of the month

Gavin Eggar reckons it should’ve been called ‘naffia III’

H

aving loved the first two games, I had Mafia III pre-ordered for nearly a year. I booted it up and – wow! Graphics, voice acting, story, and that soundtrack – I was blown away! The first mission and prologue had me hooked. and that’s when it started unravelling. This huge, beautiful-looking game world full of detail… that just becomes a shell and quickly turns boring. I found myself racing through the brilliant story and ignoring the world. It’s full of bugs (I contacted 2K about this but got no joy) and I had it a month with still no patches or fixes for the problems I’d found.

I feel that the game was rushed and not fully tested. It would’ve been better as a linear, story-driven shooter – the open world was just a wasted opportunity. This is truly one of my biggest gaming disappointments. I can’t understand how they could mess up such a great game series – I doubt there will be a Mafia IV now! I have just started Gears Of War 4 instead, and that shows how to bring your franchise back the right way (albeit it does play it very safe). Was it rushed with pressure from the publisher, or just a step too far on current hardware? I hope this doesn’t happen with future sequels (I’m looking at you Dead rising 4). Gavin Eggar, email We have to agree – given how great the game looked at preview stage, we were disappointed with Mafia III. But it did sell extremely well, so we reckon you almost certainly will get your Mafia IV after all! As for Dead Rising 4 – see our review on p72 for more. n

win!

Got an opinion? Have even the barest grasp of words and how to put them together? The best letter bags a free mystery prize!* Not every game needs an open world – a bad or half-formed one can ruin your experience.

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january 2017

*Don’t forget to include your postal address and chosen gaming format!

Oh dear, GM. you have made me so angry I’m cancelling my subscription! I’m a store manager for Game and as much as I love your magazine I love my job even more – and your negative comments in GM311 have left me incensed! yes, we are charging customers £15 to play PS Vr for half an hour, but you failed to mention we also offered a ‘£5 for 10 minutes’ option. The reasons we had to charge are as follows: 1. Sony did not provide us with a demo unit, meaning the company had to write off a headset per store (over 300) at £349.99 each. Do the math on that! 2. For each demo a member of staff had to be present with the customer the whole time, increasing payroll spend for each store (approx 20 hours per week). I asked every customer after their demo if they felt the money they’d spent was worth it. Every one of them said yes! Basically we charged customers to help cover costs and because we knew they would enjoy the experience. I hope you can see my point and understand my anger. I am not speaking on the company’s behalf, but I felt I should defend it all the same. J, email Thanks for your email J, it’s always good to get a different perspective! We recognise that running a store these days isn’t easy (or cheap!), but have to admit we’re not convinced – charging people to demo tech you’re trying to sell them still feels wrong to us. Readers, are you swayed by J’s argument? Get in touch and let us know your thoughts!

3DS dismissed?

I’d like to say that I feel the 3DS isn’t being given the love and attention it deserves. True, it already has some truly epic

BUG OF THE MONTH

Don’t believe Gavin about Mafia III’s bugs? Check out this shot he sent in of a two-headed crime boss… Got a great screenshot of a bug you’ve run in to? Send it in!

www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


FaNBasE

QUeSTiOn TiMe

Is 2017 going to be a good year for gaming?

Putting together this issue’s cover feature has definitely got me excited for 2017’s upcoming gaming delights. I reckon it’s going to be one to remember! Robin Valentine, Acting Editor

YOUr TOP 5 Zelda vs red Dead is rapidly becoming an epic rivalry as Link steals this month’s top spot…

tstorm ng for a Bulle yes! I’m hopi w DC game from ne sequel and a at would be epic. Oh Th rocksteady. n 2 is out! d redemptio and red Dea book ce Jon Gates, Fa

1

Only if Big rigs 2 is release d. Sean Mike Hollyman, Fac ebook

s Effect, red Dead If it includes Mas I d Final Fantasy XI an redemption 2, od go a be l it’l then The Zodiac age, er. year for this gam FantasyMeister s, @ Michael Scoate

Every year is a good year for gaming. 2017 shall be no exception! Barry Burke, Facebo ok

THE LEGENd OF zELda: BREaTH OF THE wiLd

of a boring It’s been a bit my opinion), generation (in though! d se os fingers cr SSASS1N UK.A, @UK_A With the arrival of Switch, we reckon 3DS’ days are numbered, sadly – but the good news is, its hybrid replacement looks like it could have far more third-party support. The presence of Skyrim in the trailer is a promising sign!

wife shock

“gaming companies overlook the small (but mighty) 3ds” games (Monster Hunter, Zelda, Pokémon, Street Fighter IV, animal Crossing, and yokai Watch to name a few), but I think the 3DS is capable of delivering much more too, if only more gaming companies were willing to make games for this underrated console. nowadays, more and more gaming companies are all-too-eager to make their games for the big home consoles like PS4 and Xbox, completely overlooking the small (but mighty) 3DS. There are many games I would love to see brought to this console that I think would look simply amazing in 3D. I’m talking Final Fantasy, Minecraft (those

cube-blocks would be shown to good effect in 3D), Dragon age, and Grand Theft auto. rockstar already did a GTa game on the original DS, so why not the infinitely better 3DS? anyway, that about wraps it up. In a nutshell: Why are gaming companies overlooking the 3DS in favour of the ‘big’ consoles? Jade Grey, email 3DS is a really great handheld – we have to agree there! It is a shame more outside developers don’t make games for it, but we suspect that’s Nintendo failing to reach out to and support them (as we saw with the Wii U).

Being excited for the PlayStation Vr I was reading your Take aim on Vr horror in GM310. I can imagine that watching something on a TV vs experiencing it in Vr must be shockingly different. Since my wife has bought me the same piece of kit for Christmas, I was reading the article out loud to her. What made me chuckle was when you described the scene from ringu where Sadako crawls out of the TV. The reason being this brought back memories of a prank based on ringu that I did on my wife a few years ago. Experiencing a similar scene first hand, my wife’s legs stopped working as she dragged herself towards the door to escape. Hopefully we can all enjoy similar terrifying reactions with PS Vr! We had a giggle and I got a smack. James Williams, email Decide for yourself whether James is a lovable prankster or a crazed sadist by watching the video here: http://bit.ly/gmringu n

Format Switch, Wii U ETA Spring 2017 That’s right, it’s back at number one – though only by a nose.

2

REd dEad REdEMpTiON 2

Format PS4, XO ETA Autumn 2017 This mob of cowboys is no doubt already plotting their revenge against our favourite elf lad…

3

MaRiO swiTcH

Format Switch ETA March 2017 Even before it’s been officially announced or even named, it’s gotten you lot all excited. For more, see p33.

4

Mass EFFEcT: aNdROMEda

Format PS4, XO, PC ETA Spring 2017 Bioware’s latest climbs up a place from last month – head to p42 for some out-of-this-world new info.

5

OFF THE cHaRT!

The hot topics you’ve been gabbing about 35% 26% 15% 14% 10%

no Man’s Sky’s Foundation update your scariest gaming moments How often do you play games? The best developers and studios Gaming’s coolest special moves

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days GONE

Format PS4 ETA Autumn 2017 A surprise new entry at five! We can only assume the Black Friday crowds got you thinking about zombies…

january 2017

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FaNBasE

YOU LOve GaMeS Cool stuff and videogame culture

Wisdom and weirdness from our bustling social media channels

As much as I love Bandai Namco, I’d have to say Naughty Dog is my favourite studio. Most of their games are masterpieces!

es m

cool cosplay

SOCiaL GrOUSinG

es you lov gam eg ve a lo

built @NocturnalNaomi_ has epic loot – a sly iou ser e som self her set! full Destiny Titan armour

s you lov ame eg eg am v lo

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eg u lov ames y yo ou

Gabe Taylor, @Aera_Neko

Kayte O Connor (also known as Ghost Jelly Cosplay) has made herself an amazing Lilith from Darkstalkers costume! (Photo by Erika V Photography.)

amazing art

killer tattoo This awesome chart by reader Dennis Davies mashes up the Fallout universe with Peanuts comics!

Rob Polding, @DrConscience

MaNiac OF THE MONTH!

When do I play games? The question should be when do I stop playing games. Which is never. GIGAmas, @Gigabyte2003

F****** dogs near the beginning of Resident Evil on Saturn… I jumped out my f****** skin when they came through that window! Dan Kornish, Facebook

Kitchen in VR… I love horror but I wasn’t ready for that!

Jonny Ritson’s seriously devoted to Mortal Kombat – he’s got Lin Kuei tattoos!

POLL POSITION

The base building in the new No Man’s Sky update is great and well designed, but it just comes across as Minecraft in space. Still not worth the £40 launch price, almost five months on!

Keeping democracy alive on our Facebook and Twitter feeds

Andrew, @halo1nine

What was 2016’s best multiplayer shooter?

Where should Call Of Duty go next?

Conker the squirrel is the funniest videogame character ever. Fact. Dave Green, @DJGreenAwesome

67% 45% 31% 14%

Battlefield 1 Overwatch

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Titanfall 2

25% 10%

COD: Infinite Warfare

2%

The past

6%

Nothing will ever compare to Burnout 3: Takedown. Ross Murphy, Facebook

Modern day Stay in the future Even more futuristic! r


14 Playing the fuel Hurley access takes our Leon on the road trip of a lifetime in the cheery My Summer Car.

The one and Sony What’s on the horizon for PS4? Sony SurPriSeS

It’s been a big month for PS4 reveals, beginning with this little trio

You’ll be able to team up and fight Knack-to-Knack in Knack 2, which will instantly make things better.

Ellie’s hand is a mess in the trailer for The Last Of Us Part II, suggesting she can throw a mean punch.

Melee combat looks more cinematic and brutal than ever in the trailer for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

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january 2017

www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


16 The world is yours

17 new horizons Travel anywhere you want from the comfort of your sofa in Google’s unique new Vr experience.

20 danish forensics no Man’s Sky’s first major update is here – is it worth going back? We jump in our ship and investigate.

We dissect Hitman’s defining level, Showstopper – with a little help from the game’s developers.

Returning protagonist Ellie has evidently made new friends in the half-decade since The Last Of Us’ open-ended finale. Just a handful of them might not be all that, uh, alive.

S

urprising us like a makeshift shiv slipping into your earhole, Naughty Dog has unveiled The Last Of Us Part II. Set five years after the ending of the first game, we rejoin Joel and 19-year-old Ellie in a world filled with mushroom zombies, raiders, and probably a healthy collection of ladders and planks. We don’t know how much has changed, but we are sure that Ellie can sing and play an acoustic guitar now, thanks to the goosebump-inducing trailer. Perhaps she can swim, too.

The sequel won’t emerge until 2018 at the earliest, as the reveal was originally meant for E3 2017 – but naughty Dog’s eagerness to show it off triggered an early unveiling. “It’s still early days for the project – the game’s release is a ways off – but we couldn’t wait any longer to give you a glimpse of what’s to come,” says creative director neil Druckmann. “We’re going to let the trailer speak for itself, but expect more information in the coming months.” The trailer opens with a shot of the woods – showing claw-marked trees, a felled swing, a

“[In] the first game, the theme was about the love between these two characters… This story’s the counter of that,” Druckmann explains. “This story is about hate.”

Ellie moulding

The lead playable character here will be Ellie, just as she was in The Last Of us’ brilliant DLC, Left Behind. nobody knows who she’s out for revenge on, but one theory is that joel is dead, he’s in Ellie’s head, and she wants payback over his murder. Don’t go hanging the wreaths just

“One theOry is that jOel is dead, he’s in ellie’s head, and she wants payback fOr his murder”

Ellie is bruised and battered, but at least we know she is alive and real. Joel’s current status seems less concrete.

www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

burnt-out car and ramshackle houses – before cutting to the naughty Dog logo. We then see a shaking hand, bruised and covered in sores, before the owner of said hand begins plucking that aforementioned guitar. It’s Ellie, and she’s sat alone in a house filled with bodies, singing an eerie rendition of Through The Valley by Shawn james. joel walks in and asks if she intends to go ahead with her plan. With blood beading down her face, Ellie coldly vows to “kill every last one of them” – whoever they are.

yet, though – the official wording from naughty Dog suggests joel still has a huge role to play. “I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to finally be able to say that Ellie and joel are back for another intense, harrowing, and emotional adventure,” Druckmann explains. “Like many of you, we have a deep love for the world of The Last Of us and its characters, and while a sequel may have seemed like a foregone conclusion, that wasn’t the case. We knew that it needed to be a story worth telling – a story worthy of joel

january 2017

11


and Ellie. after spending years on different ideas (and almost giving up), we finally uncovered a story that felt special.” Many felt like the ending of the first game was perfect and would prefer to just leave it as a special, one-off thing. For those people, naughty Dog has one thing to say: have faith. “So much thought went into this,” says Druckmann. “I know there’s trepidation about going back to these characters. We feel that as well. no-one loves these characters more than we do, and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t have the right idea. I had ideas with different characters and it didn’t feel right. The Last Of us is about these two characters. all I ask is that fans of the first one put some faith in us – we’re going to do right by you.” Elsewhere in naughty Dog land, the blockbuster studio has announced a standalone expansion for uncharted 4, trumpeting the return of a much-loved character who didn’t feature in the main game’s storyline. Set entirely in India, uncharted: The Lost Legacy places you in the shoes of Chloe Frazer – the sassy aussie ass-kicker from the second and third games – as she’s accompanied by u4 villain nadine ross, who’s brilliantly introduced in gameplay footage kicking a man in the head and causing him to fall to his death.

alien nation, you’ll be using both sticks to move and shoot, but instead of cutting down zombies and E.T. invaders you’ll be putting an end to a machine uprising. By shooting them all directly in the face, naturally. robots have faces, alright? you’ll be firing, slicing and dodge-dashing your way through the clanking hordes, all while bopping along to some funky synthwave. It looks frantic, colourful, and explosive. and if you’re a fan of pretty pyrotechnics, Capcom also has an announcement to get your blood pumping. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2017, bringing the next generation of the famous fighter into the unreal Engine 4 where it’ll look better than ever. The action-packed trailer shows Captain Marvel and Iron Man facing off against Mega Man and Street Fighter’s ryu. While traditionally the series has been a 3v3 scrapper, this sequel will focus on 2v2 battles instead, with players also jostling over Infinity Stones – game-changing power-ups that can turn the tide of an encounter. as for other changes, current rumours suggest that Marvel’s roster will be focused around the cinematic universe, with the 20th Century Fox-owned X-Men sitting this one out. additionally, as part of the announcement, ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has been made available to

U2/3’s Chloe and U4’s Nadine look to be a rather deadlier pairing than Nate and Sully.

“chlOe frazer – the aussie ass-kicker frOm uncharteds 2 and 3 – returns in standalOne expansiOn the lOst legacy” Classic nadine. naughty Dog took to Twitter after the trailer’s release to say this would be treated as a “new uncharted game” that takes the form of a “standalone story chapter”. Its atmospheric streets look exactly as gorgeous as you’d expect.

Return of the Knack

In a big month for news on upcoming PS4 games, the world has also been introduced to the one everyone’s been waiting for – a sequel to PS4 launch title Knack. Oh yes. Knack is back, baby. Sony’s japan Studio is having another crack at creating playable Pixar, then. There’s definitely promise there, especially since Knack 2 lets you and mates team up for some co-op scrapping, platforming and puzzle solving, with one player controlling Knack and the other player controlling, erm, blue Knack? Details are thin on the ground, but co-op seems like a good fit, and we’ll at least get to see all that lovely scattered debris running on PS4 Pro. another PS4 launch title that loved showing off its swanky particle effects was resogun, Housemarque’s hyperactive, side-scrolling shoot ‘em up. The Finnish developer has a new game, too: a top-down, old-school, cyberpunk shooter called nex Machina. as in Dead and

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january 2017

download and play on PlayStation 4 immediately, with the fighter following on Xbox One and PC in March 2017. That’s still not it for big game unveilings, with old-school gamers soon to be served a heaving buffet of spruced-up retro delights. 90s faves Parappa The rapper, Wipeout, and Crash Bandicoot are all getting remastered, in a welcome if long-overdue move. Parappa bumps the rhythm action game up to 4K on PS4 Pro, and there’s a demo available right now. Wipeout Omega Collection is a remastered bundle of PS3 title Wipeout HD and its expansion Fury, plus PS Vita game Wipeout 2048. Fury is one of the best games in the futuristic racing series, and you’ll be able to tear down its sterile highways rendered at a dynamic 4K resolution. Lastly, Crash Bandicoot n Sane Trilogy brings all of Crash’s PS1 adventures to PS4 with a remaster born from a similar ethos to Oddworld: new ‘n’ Tasty – it’s the games you remember, but shinier and more accessible, with all-new assets and a checkpointing system that won’t make you want to do a murder. Sony is also planning remasters of beloved PSP games Patapon and Locoroco – they’ll be coming to PS4 too. now that’s what we call an upcoming line-up. n

Crash will be exactly how you remember him – annoying camera angles and all, just much prettier.

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moST wanTed What’s most tickling the team’s fancy this month

ROBIN’S PICK

The Last Of Us Part II That trailer gives me genuine chills. I’m concerned about the idea of returning and continuing Joel and Ellie’s story – game one wrapped up their arcs so well – but it’s hard to be too worried when a game’s helmed by Naughty Dog. And I can’t wait to hear Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker perform those iconic voices again. PS4 – Winter 2018 BEN’S PICK

State Of Decay 2 As a rule I can’t get enough of zombies, and they can’t get enough of me. These particular shufflers will have to work hard for their meal though, because in this base-building action-RPG I’m planning to make my mid-west American fortress impenetrable. There’s ample room in Hell for any infected who trample my crops. XO, PC – 12 February 2017

ROB’S PICK

Parappa The Rapper Remastered

Knack 2’s combat looks much more slick than the first game, with the blocky hero jumping between foes with ease. The first game was a bit pants, but that hasn’t completely killed our enthusiasm for this sequel.

www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

Of all Sony’s recent announcements, I have to admit the thing I’m most excited about is the return of gaming’s best rapping dog. Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind! It’s going to bring back so many memories of wasted hours spent trying to win the heart of Sunny Funny and learning kung fu. Hi-yah! PS4 – Spring 2017

january 2017

13


the tougheSt holiday you’ll ever have our failed attempt to take My Summer Car for a spin

S

urvival sims usually involve making axes and chopping down trees. Maybe a dinosaur here and there. Vehicle building is a new one, but that’s what My Summer Car is all about – crafting a ride for the holidays while managing the usual drives of hunger, thirst, and going to the toilet. Oh, and swearing in Finnish.

20 minutes

I have no idea how cars work . I mean, I get th wheels. That bit e whole combu ’s easy. But faced stion engine th with a garage fu clue. I head on ing, and ll of lumpy met line and find a al parts, I have video of someo subframe goes n’t a ne else putting in first. Then so it all together. Th mething called Each time I add e horseshoes, an something I ha d th en a steering ra ve to find hidde to see which on ck. n bolts and then e fits so I can tig test all the span hten them. This flight sims strive ners ga m e is not messin to create an au g thentic flying ex about. While seems to be pe perience, this ga rfectly recreatin me’s life mission g the minutia of doing up screws one at a time.

expect here. 0 minutwates not entirely sure what to ched the trailers I’m still language),

Even having ish (the developer’s obviously, swearing in Finn There’s a promise of a car, the joy of permadeath. as and t, wan I er nev rever and whe the ability to urinate whe utes the real game min in … unusual. However, with lding the selling points go those are g kind of way. Oh no, bui the car. and not in a craftin the engine alone and becomes clear: building s, ent pon com of . I find a garage full little entire thing from scratch ft to the gasket, and the parts. From the camsha 100 t leas at of sist con st chanics of auto work mu me the ing ulat sim is s Thi ed tappets. I hit stick things I think are call no idea where to begin so with more pee breaks. I’ve a start. It’s ts. par ate to Matrix-like levels. Only priv an’s n Sat my character to questio the swear button, causing

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1 hour

The permadeath elements seem to relate to a range of stats governing your thirst, hunger, cleanliness, fatigue, and just how full your bladder is. It’s taken me an hour of real world time to attach four things to the car and my fatigue has maxed out. I’m also hungry, having long ago eaten the only food in the house – a single packet of sausages. There is at least plenty of beer, so thirst isn’t a problem. at least not yet. Tired, I go to bed and hope food will be a thing I can somehow make happen later. I don’t get much sleep though as the phone rings in the middle of the night and a man shouts incoherently that he wants me to pick him up from the pub.

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. utesnsidered exploring further than the frovantn. gaIn rdoren der 1 houthris po10int Imhain by co to a near dn’t even e rn my attention

up until to avoid th done, so I tu ing on the floor ly… ooooh, 3% first by crouch n The car’s still on itio es wandering ign ag e d th en sp I have to hit f rk though, so I da It’s . pt to get moving, om ak br e comes of e pr Then the hand l and finding th find the lights. steering whee so I just to is d b ar pu bo e th sh e da er nd the no idea wh ll the the mouse arou first gear. I have e corner and ro wn the road in nately, I miss th rtu fo rt. po un . ns er rn tra and I trundle do co no e e dark, and with find it around th e. I’m lost, in th drive, hoping I’ll tre a st ain ag side down van, ending up

2 hours

ready to Today I build the car! no excuses. I’ve got some videos stacked up and I’m five about takes part Every . simulation mechanic modelled of art fine conquer the all minutes to get into position and then bolt in place (once you’ve cycled through It’s the spanners to find one that fits). There is an odd satisfaction to this madness. physics glitchy as all hell, admittedly: the car constantly slides off the jack and weird several hiccups mean I occasionally get fired out of the engine hole (technical term) adding wheels front the out build I as shape taking all it’s Still, air. the into feet . suspension bits, hubs, brakes and a couple of stick things that seem important

utes 1 hour 20 min e to can this attempt and ed my only working transport, I decid

Given that I’ve totall d. The if there’s anything I may have overlooke start over. This time I explore to see some buildings behind the are there e realis I when and ying lack of food is worr tenance but This may be a game about car main house I set off to see if I can break in. doesn’t turn d aroun ing Look dirt. the quick to hit – like all survival games – morality is r, someone who wanted to Earlie pile. wood a and axe an ver up any food, but I disco There’s a t be a good way to earn some cash. buy some wood called, so this migh the axe… d behin bottle a ’s it all and, hey, there trailer I can load up, a tractor to pull

4 hours

It’s finished. no, wait. Tha t’s not entirely accurate. I’m finished. Two hours of finding parts, placing the patiently m in the correct order, and then searching out bolts swapping spanners has and finally worn me out. I’m kind a pro ud of how far I got, though – all the wheels are in plac e and working, and it’s onl y the lack of an actual eng (admittedly a fairly importa ine nt piece) that’s preventing the completion of its ove car-ness. However, the eng rall ine also looks terrifyingly complicated, with 12 she of tiny intricate bits. Hav lves full ing spent hours just making wheels work, I’m not in the mood to start assemblin g pistons, so I finish up by drinking enough beer to screen wobble and then make the look appreciatively at my semi-finished car as my meter maxes out and turn hunger s red. I never did find any more food.

Blocked out 1 hour 45 minutes

The bottle, as it turns out, contains vodka, and my character drinks the lot. The wobbly drunken screen effect is so severe I can barely move, let alone chop wood. as far as regretful levels of drinking go, this is as painfully accurate as the act of tightening a million bolts. The screen lurches and sways to the point where it’s hard to tell what direction I’m even moving in. For some reason, I decide to try and start the tractor. However, successfully pushing the ignition button with so much screen wobble is impossible – a strong hint that actually driving the thing, should I manage to get it started, would be disastrous. I give up and go home to sleep it off.

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My Summer Car is a strange game. It’s poorly made, full of glitches, and some elements just aren’t that well designed – you have to crawl to interact with certain things, for example. Plus, it tells you nothing. This is a game where you spend more time checking wikis and youTube than playing. The save menu being accessed from the toilet was a particularly late discovery. That said, there’s an odd satisfaction to building a car from scratch. It’s boring and fiddly, but so’s the real thing. However, stepping back to see the progress you’re making can be rewarding. Definitely not for everyone, but the obtuse challenge will light a fire under some who won’t rest until that car’s running.

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15


Manipulate the Sun and Earth by hand, to move the world around you or change the time of day.

Google’s preview images and shortcut locations emphasise popular tourist attractions around the world.

globetrotting with google See the world from inside a headset

D

espite being an undeniably impressive resource of visual information, Google Earth has always been something of an oddity. While almost every Google product benefits the tech giant by gathering data from users, Google Earth gives data back as a god’s-eye view of the planet. It’s not for work, but it’s not really for play – it’s simply an experience, meant as a demonstration of Google’s knowledge. Google Earth Vr, available on the HTC Vive for free on Steam, is the Google Earth you know, but up close. Stand in front of a giant globe, spin it around, and choose a location. Zoom in and fly

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around, seeing astonishing landscapes from all angles. Grab the sun at any time and move it back and forth to change the lighting. There are even designated destinations in outer space available for Vr travellers to visit.

World of information

It’s fair to say Vr headsets are still a long way from mainstream ubiquity, but Google Earth Vr is something many of us might still get the chance to try out. It’s a free-of-charge utility that demonstrates the HTC Vive’s potential – ideal for show floors or display models. If Vr documentaries are for film buffs, and Vr games are for gamers, then this is a Vr utility for a general audience. The promotional images and start-up screen look every bit like a travel

Away from popular landmarks and cities, some details are very distorted, highlighting the tech’s limitations.

The

Burning Question What other non-gaming VR software would you love to see?

Virtual diving brochure. So you might expect Google Earth Vr to feel like a first taste of holodeck tourism. However, it’s not meant to convey what it feels like to be somewhere else. For something like that, there are dedicated Vr documentaries that use not just visuals, but sound and storytelling to evoke a greater sense of immersion. That kind of tourist experience is about emotion, but Google Earth Vr is about information. Instead of transporting you somewhere else, it brings the world to you. n

I want to see the Great Barrier Reef before it’s gone forever! Richard Evans, Facebook

education

Imagine actually seeing a Shakespearian play in the 1600s, or witnessing a battle you’re studying. Stanley Kendall, Facebook Visit www.facebook.com/ officialgamesmaster and www.twitter. com/gamesmaster to take part in next issue’s burning questions.

“stand in front of a giant globe, spin it around, and choose a location”

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The new Creative mode gives you infinite resources so you can build to your heart’s content, while Survival mode makes things harder and more punishing.

Forward the Foundation

You can recruit alien helpers at space stations to ‘man’ your base. You’ll need to build the correct structures to do so, though.

no Man’s Sky takes a significant leap forward with this creative update

I

t’s called the Foundation update for a reason. Whether you consider No Man’s Sky to be finished or not, this promises to be the first step on a journey that will change the game. It adds base building, construction, improved interfaces, and tweaks to mystical algorithms which make the universe even more beautiful than before. While the idea of base building is sound, the reality falls somewhat flat. actually building the stuff is simple, and finding alien employees to staff stations is fun, but it still has the distant emptiness that was present before the update. If you want to create grand structures with the easy, drop-in, drop-out creativity of

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Minecraft, this will leave you disappointed. It’s also a curious addition to a game obsessed with progress – revisiting established bases sits uncomfortably with the endless drive forward that characterises the game. Despite this, it’s enough of a change to make you dip back in and enjoy what’s changed. Simple things like crisp, standout rock structures alter how the landscape looks, revitalising a universe that sometimes felt like different shades of the same place. Truthfully, this won’t change the minds of anyone disappointed by no Man’s Sky being different from the game they were hoping for. If, however, you lost hours searching its lonely, affecting universe first time around, this is a solid reason to go back. It’ll remind you why you loved it, but more tantalisingly, give you a glimpse of what it might eventually become. n

“If you lost hours searchIng Its lonely, affectIng unIverse fIrst tIme around, thIs Is a solId reason to go back” january 2017

17


winning team fantaStic beaStS a Monster Hunter movie – it’s going to be great! no, wait, videogame movies are bad – this is a terrible idea! But… behemoth beasts on the big screen should be amazing! and it’s being made by Paul WS anderson – he directed the resident Evil movies and they weren’t a total disaster. So we are definitely at least 86% on-board with this. For now.

Online shooter Overwatch was the big winner at this year’s Golden joystick awards, picking up five of the tres desirable replica controller statuettes, including Best Multiplayer Game and Best Original Game. It also nabbed Game Of The year, Best Game Direction, and more at The Game awards 2016.

hack to reality not the most conventional way to reveal a new game, but hiding a trailer in Watch Dogs 2 for players to discover is a pretty neat idea. and, with its orbiting space stations and satellites against a backdrop of brightly coloured planets, we really like the look of the mystery – and apparently completely genuine – ubisoft game.

aPocalyPSe later a new entry in subterranean shooter series Metro has been inadvertently revealed by promotional material for an upcoming entry to the tie-in book series. We have a while to wait – publisher Deep Silver confirmed it’ll be released sometime after 2017 – but it’s great to know another creepy trip through radiated russia is in the pipeline.

Win Lose Topping the leaderboard this issue

yoU yoU

No, we don’t want to continue thanks

PlayStation Poor For anyone who has bought a PS4 Pro, it’s galling to discover some of the enhanced games perform better on the base version of the console. The Last Of us, Skyrim Special Edition, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Watch Dogs 2 all reportedly run smoother on the non-Pro PS4. There’s no excuse – PS4 Pro players should always get the best experience. after all, that is the whole point.

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next gen(ital) The sight of a female nPC’s (now patched out) exposed privates in Watch Dogs 2 was a bit of a shocker, but only because it was so explicitly detailed. However, when Sony suspended a player for sharing a shot of the crotch, it seemed unfair – the player was putting up something that was part of the (18-rated) game. If Sony has a problem with such imagery, it should be taking its beef to ubisoft.

craft diSmiSSed Having seen first-hand the positive impact Minecraft can have on developing minds, we were disheartened to hear Government ‘behaviour tsar’ Tom Bennett say he was “not a fan” of using the block-builder in classrooms, calling it “another gimmick which will get in the way of children actually learning”. Funny, we would say a narrow-minded attitude to change would be a greater obstacle.

that’S the wei it iS We had a real soft spot for Triad-busting crime romp Sleeping Dogs, so tantalising details of the never released sequel make for hard reading. The game’s now defunct developer, united Front Games, had big plans for the follow-up, including a whole new open world, a new playable character to work alongside Wei Shen, and also a co-op mode. Sounds good! When can we play it? Oh, yes, we forgot. never.

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02/01

stranger things 31/12

Manipulate time! use cybernetic powers! Murder a space worm! It’s national Sci-Fi Day!

01/01

veneered and revered

year we go raise a glass as Big Ben’s bongs announce another year of awesome gaming ahead.

On this day in 1992, after 15 years in service, atari stopped support of its 2600 console.

The To do lisT

13/01

every switch way

Crucial dates for your gaming diary. If you only do one thing this month, eat, but otherwise make a note of these events…

Tune-in to nintendo’s livestream presentation for all the facts and stats on its new console.

25/01

26/01

20/01

force code Kat is back for some more floaty fun in Gravity rush 2. Strap your PS4 down before playing.

24/01

new year’s evil ready to enter the world of survival horror? Good, because resident Evil 7 has arrived.

great scot

happy new issue day

It’s Burns night! Eat some haggis, drink some whisky, and light a candle for Soap MacTavish.

always the most important day of the month. Issue 313 is ready to be read – go get yours!

incoming

Six big releases headed to a format near you…

01

02

For honor

Format PS4, XO, PC ETA 14 February 2017

03

sniper elite 4

Format PS4, XO, PC ETA 14 February 2017

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04

halo Wars 2

Format XO, PC ETA 21 February 2017

05

horizon Zero dawn Format PS4 ETA 3 March 2017

06

ghost Recon Wildlands Format PS4, XO, PC ETA 7 March 2017

Persona 5

Format PS4, PS3 ETA 4 April 2017

january 2017

19


Feature On The Cover!

Curtains up With Hitman’s season concluded, we join IO Interactive and delve deep into its signature stage. This is the conception and construction of Showstopper

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NiNteNdo switch

S

howstopper is the rebooted Hitman’s defining level. Vast, detailed, and impossibly glamorous, the first episode of 2016’s season is the perfect playground for avant-garde assassination. It all started with a single workshopped idea: Agent 47 visits a fashion show. Where, and why, were yet to be decided. Early ideas swirled around London’s Battersea Power Plant. “It was a close call,” says creative director Christian Elverdam, “but eventually that location was dropped because we wanted to go back to Paris, which felt like an iconic setting for Agent 47”. Searing style, sneering new money, and a sharply dressed assassin caught in the middle? Perfect. From this concept Showstopper expanded: a catwalk, a packed bar for the post-show festivities, backroom staff in kitchens and basements, an antique-filled attic, even a top-secret auction for criminal moguls. The more it grew, the greater the strain on its network of intricate systems, never more than a stray piece of grit away from stalling completely. To prevent that, principal level designer jacob Mikkelsen drew inspiration from an unlikely source: “you can pull a leg off a Terminator robot but it will still keep on crawling. a Hitman level has to do the same thing… it has to keep on trying to convey the story. For that, we had to come up with a way of doing the fashion show.” If one of Showstopper’s runway models mysteriously disappears, for example, the production doesn’t suddenly collapse. Lockdowns needed particular care. “In the beginning it was more realistic,” Elverdam says. “a gunshot was heard and the crowd would panic and the fashion show would evaporate. and in a game where we want you to experiment, that felt almost like a penalty.” Instead of restricting parts of the level when someone finds a body, IO introduced clean-up crews who bag corpses and drag them to quiet corners. and thus the game, like Terminator, ploughs ahead.

French connection

“compelling voice work makes a sea of nondescript npcs seem like individuals” www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

another tricky aspect was the hearing of characters. How do you make their awareness level realistic without being frustrating? “It is a fine balance,” admits Elverdam. “If people hear everything then it is harder to mess around. But if you make them too deaf they seem incredibly stupid.” In earlier builds, guards had super-powered hearing, and would storm into rooms for the lightest aural infraction. IO countered this by adding logic for doors that governed sound propagation. now, if there’s a closed door between you and another person, the sound won’t travel. In this way, voices also serve a function, communicating information about the target and your options. What’s surprising is that most lines of dialogue were entirely improvised. “a lot of the ad-lib stuff we do now began with Paris. We start with a topic and then come up with some dialogue,” says Mikkelsen. “We give prompts to the actors: ‘your girlfriend broke up with you, and the phone rings, and it’s your best friend.’” This adds to the ambience and results in delivery that feels more spontaneous than in, say, 2012’s Hitman: absolution – where conversations were split into fragments and sometimes recorded hours, days, or months apart. From the proud dad in Showstopper’s crowd talking about his runway model daughter, to the doorman excitedly discussing fashion labels, compelling voice work makes a sea of nondescript nPCs seem like individuals. The more you examine a stage like this, the more you uncover its complexity. just look at loops. The term ‘loop’ refers to the cycle of a character set to perpetually repeat themselves – if they didn’t, they’d come to the end of their routine and freeze indefinitely. But how long

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21


Feature On The Cover!

“Madison, please. the world already suspects you did the acid attack on Cecilia sanchez. Don’t you think people will connect the dots?”

All tAlk Actual conversations overheard in the palace

“Question, and do consider the diamond shape: do i go Marlena or Brook on these brows?” “We played at novikov’s wedding about ten years back, before his glitterati makeover. nasty bugger. Hey, as long as drinks are free, people tend to forget how tight you are with the russian mob.”

“it’s haute couture, are you insane? We might as well just rob a bank. You need to get some help.”

WAlk this WAy IO’s Christian Elverdam reveals some secret supermodel ambitions “For the longest time we had this desire to walk the catwalk. and then the moment you took to the catwalk… it was such a good example of fantasy fulfillment. not just in killing your target but the voyeurism that we always want to have in the game. What does it feel like to be the model on the catwalk? What does it feel like to be in Morocco in the middle of a military coup? asking some of these voyeuristic questions is beautiful in a way. The catwalk became the image of Paris.”

should each loop be? Too long and observers lose interest. Too short and it’s easy to read. 47’s prime target, Viktor novikov, personified this balancing act. In a rudimentary early loop he simply walked from the ground floor to the car park, where players would quickly eliminate him. So, to up the difficulty, not only was his loop made more sophisticated, but IO assigned him a special protector. Such bodyguards went on to feature in subsequent episodes. Showstopper was the proving ground for innovation, a test bed to establish and improve ideas. “One of the features pioneered on the Paris level was the ‘escort out’ system,” says Elverdam. “We want [players to] be able to experiment. One of the problems was that if you trespassed without any sort of weapon, it felt odd that

you would be arrested or shot on sight if it was not the military… So this concept of escorting the player out was introduced late in the game.” But how do guards know where to escort trespassers? For example, if one finds you in the garden in a tuxedo, does he escort you to the parking lot, or back to the fashion show? IO solved this with something called geotagging. Explains Mikkelsen: “[nPCs] don’t know much about the world they’re in, so we had to feed them knowledge. One good thing was this geotagging concept. If they lose sight of you and then re-find you, they can recall when they saw you. We gave them information which means they call out, ‘He’s in the kitchen!’, which makes them seem much more clever.” IO gave guards the means to know where players are, where to escort them, and even communicate what they’re wearing, by marking the level and letting aI make decisions for themselves. Their smarts give Hitman’s stealth unsurpassed nuance.

Model behaviour

Showstopper didn’t just evolve mechanically, but also visually. Originally it took place at night. upon reflection, though, IO discovered a way to make the event even more dramatic. Setting it during a sunset enabled the studio to play with shades and hues, bathing different parts of the level in varying degrees of fading yellow light. not only does everything from paparazzi flashbulbs to the Eiffel Tower’s stark silhouette gain new life in the twilight, but it also eases player navigation. With the sun’s stronger rays changing colour palettes of rooms in the east wing, you can instantly see what part of the palace you’re in. Hitman’s staggered production enabled IO to improve as it went, whether amassing experience or reusing assets. But how did it impact the team’s approach to level design? “In general terms we get more

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NiNteNdo switch putting a coin in the diorama plays tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, a piece close to Elverdam because his dad introduced him to it as a child.

slAy PAris Six of 47’s best murders Letting players drop a light rig was the very first assassination on IO’s drawing board. It follows a rich Hitman tradition of dislodging overhead fixtures onto people. Once that was in place – or not, as the case may be – designers started implementing more.

Poisoned cocktail!

stage shooting!

the time of day adds more than visual flair. it bathes parts of the palace in a different light, to aid navigation.

river dunk!

chandelier crush!

auction massacre!

paris wasn’t always the location. in early design stages, Battersea power station hosted the glitzy event.

playful as we go along,” says Elverdam. “you can feel in the level a certain sense of mastery. We asked a lot of questions of people playing the game.” Bending aI loops, snooping on conversations, and uncovering outrageous kills are key to this fun and free new Hitman. although every stage had its own dedicated team, its own philosophy, there was always a shared pool of collective knowledge to draw from.

Unstoppable

all these elements are why Showstopper is so effective. But there’s also an intangible attraction that goes beyond the careful calibration. It’s the role-play of becoming anyone you want, whether cocktail waiter or catwalk model. It’s the voyeurism of watching people,

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with all their quirks and routines, from the safety of anonymity. and it’s the location itself, an exclusive event to which only you and the social elite have access. Like that event itself, IO’s design is elegant, sophisticated, and at times immaculate. So, after the full six-episode season hits boxed retail next year, what’s next for the Hitman series? “When we announced the game at E3 two years ago, I talked about this idea of building an expanding world, and to have a story that could expand, so that’s where we are right now,” says Elverdam, keen for continuity. “We’ve ended season one in a position where we can actually look at a lot of stuff that worked, and now we are discussing what we could improve… there’s still some learning to do.” The show, as they say, must go on. n Ben Griffin

flashy distraction!

january 2017

23


Feature On The Cover!

THE

GREATEST GAMES

OF 2017 AND BEYOND! Presenting our (unranked) list of the upcoming corkers across all formats that you need to have on your radar!


Ben’s Pick!

Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Insomniac ETA Winter 2017

“I’m so ready for an even more grizzled Kratos, axing creatures in a savage, natural world.”

SpiDEr-MAN Swing city

Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Sony ETA Winter 2017

The web-slinging wall-crawler has always been one of the best superheroes, primarily because of his ability to sling webs and crawl on walls. Very much in the manner of a spider, in fact. Imagine the stunning detail of those webs and walls on PS4, for which Insomniac is developing this exclusively. It’s a brand new story, untethered to the upcoming movie, and stars an already powered-up Peter Parker. If the studio can take inspiration from its previous game Sunset Overdrive’s breezy traversal, this could be Spidey’s best game yet.

01

GOD OF WAr Norsing around

02

Kratos is no longer the one-note berserker we used to know, thanks to one of the bravest, most mature reboots in recent years. The new world of Norse mythology is sumptuously detailed, packed with environmental storytelling and rich atmosphere. Combat is more deliberate, and more intimate. And Kratos now has a son, who will share his adventure, and who he will train through battle as he fights to contain his rage and become a better man. The Last Of Us, your influence is strong here.

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Gun Media Developer Illfonic ETA Spring 2017

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Konami Developer Konami ETA Summer 2017

FriDAY thE 13th: thE GAME Press axe to Jason

Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Bandai Namco Dev Tarsier Studios ETA Spring 2017

littlE NiGhtMArES

MEtAl GEAr SurvivE

The Maw the merrier

Four-player hodgepodge minus the Koj As if Metal Gear Solid couldn’t get any weirder, this four-player co-op spin-off set after Ground Zeroes sees a rogue wormhole suck Mother Base staff into a new dimension. Here, a new breed of biological weapon (zombies) forces them to work together to survive. As Hideo Kojima’s left to work on Death Stranding, this may lack his magic touch, but it could allow Konami to get crazier than ever.

03

A masked killer is stalking you relentlessly. That’s our worst nightmare, and also the setup for this horror game tasking seven players with outwitting or outlasting a human-controlled Jason Voorhees as he rampages around the camp at Crystal Lake. Fix a boat and escape, for instance, or wait it out in the woods for police to arrive. Jason makes up for slowness with a teleportation ability to violently surprise counsellors tucked behind doors and under beds, and when he catches them, he can enact murder in any number of ways: thumb in the eye, head in the fire, pitchfork in the gut… the list goes on. Lovely.

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Format PS4, XO Publisher Warner Bros Developer NetherRealm Studios ETA Autumn 2017

iNjuSticE 2

Supes, Bats, Harley, and a telepathic gorilla Even if you know nothing about DC heroes and/or fighting games, you’re in for a fighty good time in this visually stunning super-powered scrapper that elevates D-listers like Gorilla Grodd into the A-list realm. There’s also Blue Beetle, a space-travelling teen wearing a constantly morphing armoured suit, and supervillain Atrocitus, who conjures attacks from hateful energy. Special moves are a highlight: Batman calls his batwing to blast you with missiles, while Aquaman feeds you to a monster fish. You can also customise heroes with armour, capes and faceplates won in battle. Black-suited Superman? Why not!

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In this Tim Burton-esque fantasy horror, you play a young girl called Six who, after being kidnapped, finds herself trapped in the surreal undersea resort of The Maw. If you’re a member of the elite it’s a utopia. If you’re not, well, try not to gag as you make your way through a kitchen where flabby chefs carve questionable cuts of meat, their presence forcing Six to duck behind counters and scamper up sausage-making machines. We’d hate to see what the pool’s like. Gameplay is a puzzle-platforming blend, so expect plenty of climbing, scrambling, pushing, and pulling as you try to safely guide Six through the eerie, creepy-as-all-Hell world and to her escape.

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Format PS4, PC Pub Ubisoft Dev Red Storm ETA 14 March 2017

StAr trEk: BriDGE crEW Hopefully they won’t make it so-so All four crew members play a vital role in this PS VR, Oculus, and Viveenabled strategy set on-board the USS Enterprise. Tacticians control weapons and shields, pilots steer and initiate warp by pulling a big lever, engineers divvy up power, and captains relay information and smash the red alert alarm when required. To be successful, you’ll need to work in harmony and not, say, run around flailing your arms and bouncing off the scenery (which you can totally do thanks to motion control functionality).

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Feature On The Cover!

If you can see it, you can scale it. Link’s stamina meter prevents you climbing too far, but this can be increased.

Format Switch, Wii U Publisher Nintendo Developer Nintendo ETA Summer 2017

The Legend Of ZeLda: BreaTh Of The WiLd Climb trees, cook frogs, oh, and save Hyrule The game to cap off a Nintendo console generation and kickstart an entirely new one gives everyone’s favourite elf boy more freedom than he’s ever been previously granted. More freedom to dress up, whether it’s donning protective pieces of chunky armour or changing the colour of his tunic. More freedom over wielding weapons, ranging from branches, to arm bones, to magical rods that shoot spreading fire. And more freedom to run, swim, and glide deku leaf-style through an epic wild world. With that freedom comes more challenge. You can, for example, scale a sheer cliff face and find a 12ft horned Moblin lurking at the top.

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Do you flee the snout-faced foe, or do you fight him for his spiked bone club? You find the means to decide where to go and when, but preparation is required. Victory against the leaping lizard-like Lizalfos who attack with devastating electric jolts in the crumbling Zonai Ruins, for instance, is more assured if you spend time hunting truffles and boar in the forest and then steaming their health-replenishing meat beforehand. The risk is handsomely rewarded: here Link is presented with horns and talons which can be used to craft with. A less guided but no less glorious experience than fans have ever encountered before, Breath Of The Wild seeks to redefine The Legend Of Zelda on both Wii U and Switch.


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017

Link’s Sheikah Slate unlocks powerful new abilities, such as water manipulation and stasis, and these play into cool physics puzzles.

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Feature

Format 3DS Pub Nintendo Dev Nintendo ETA Summer 2017

On The Cover!

MiitoPia

It’s all Mii, Mii, Mii with these guys Though confirmation of a Western release is still upcoming, we couldn’t not give mention to this bizarre new JRPG that sees players assemble a party of Miis in order to fight back against an evil wizard who wants to… steal everyone’s faces? There’s more than a hint of Tomadachi Life to proceedings here, with each of your Miis having their own personality that affects their behaviour – but rather than managing your party’s mundane life, you’ll be assigning them RPG-style classes (including Mage, Knight, and, er, Tank, Devil, and Cat…) and giving them cash to buy new equipment (watch out – devious Miis may spend the money on treats rather than that new sword).

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Format PC Publisher Nexon Developer Boss Key Productions ETA March 2017

lawbreakers Smash the system

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Fresh powers and a fascinating setting mark this competitive class-based shooter out from the pack. Rocket-jumping Titans fry foes with crackling electricity from their fingers; Assassins latch onto scenery – and indeed other players – with a grappling hook, and slash foes with a blade; Vanguards literally fly around levels firing miniguns and kicking people in the face. Stages stand out, too: it’s set in a futuristic America after a global seismic event known as The Shattering alters gravity itself. Good if you’ve a love/hate relationship with the ground.

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Discord Games Developer SeithCG ETA Spring 2017

Ghost of a tale Mouse over this adventure

Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Japan ETA 20 January 2017

Gravity rush 2 There’s no defying this one

It’s been a few years now since the original Gravity Rush hurtled onto Vita, carelessly breaking all sorts of physical laws in the process. In the intervening years it’s spawned an HD remaster and Oscar-winning film (that is where Sandra Bullock and co got the idea from, right?), and the appeal of mastering a planetary pull is as intoxicating as ever. New for the sequel are extra gravity powers that allow for higher jumps and more impactful, uh, impacts, destructible environments, and a much longer runtime than its predecessor. For once we’re hoping there’s not a PlayStation VR version coming, for the sake of our delicate stomachs…

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Inspired by ex-Universal animation director dev Seith Gallat’s passion for Choose Your Own Adventure books – ask your dad/older brother/mad uncle about Fighting Fantasy – and pen-and-paper RPGs, this is the charming tale, or, uh, tail, of a mouse called Tilo exploring a beautiful fantasy world full of quirky creatures to befriend and terrifying rats to scurry away from. Just like the best fairy stories, it mixes whimsy and darkness with ease. If you can’t resist the idea of playing as a minstrel rodent who you can dress in ultra-stealthy (and adorable) hoods, this adventure is available to try via Early Access on Steam.

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Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Ubisoft Dev Ubisoft ETA Spring 2017

south Park: the fractured but whole

An RPG to take seriously: no one wants to see a pro lapse

Having tried the Nosulus Rift – a one-off VR gimmick that lets you actually smell the farts emitted in game – South Park’s delay isn’t actually a bad thing. To be clear, the game is great – it’s just going to take a while to get over the trauma of those… odours. Fortunately that monstrosity won’t be released to the public. You just get all the good stuff – the weird Marvelgone-wrong story of the kids trying to start their own superhero franchise, via the medium of turn-based combat and some pretty stern humour. Just like the TV show, this doesn’t mince words, with jokes about religion, race, sex and comics. But, under all the puerile stuff, there’s a strong game with a redefined gridbased combat system and a great grasp of superhero lore. Battles are tactical affairs that require a keen grasp of your abilities and the space around you. It’s like chess, but with more poop jokes. And, like the last game, it’s beautifully presented with animation and voice acting on par with the show itself.

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THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017

Format XO, PC Publisher Monomi Park Developer Monomi Park ETA Summer 2017

sliMe rancher No farm, no fowl

Rob’s Pick!

“This racer’s looking ace and I reckon it’ll be worth the (rather long) wait. I’m ready to floor the throttle!”

Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Polyphony Digital ETA Spring 2017

Gran turisMo sPort Don’t hold out for Gran Turismo 7 – this is it Upon being asked whether this is GT7 or a prelude to it, Polyphony Digital legend Kazunori Yamauchi ponders for a moment, before saying “thinking back now, we could have called it GT7”. That’s that sorted, then. And with the same physics engine powering the action, this does feel like an enhanced version of PS3 podium-topper GT6. While there are new features such as PS VR support in a dedicated Tour Mode, new tracks, and interior views for every car, it’s the online side of the game that’s received the biggest overhaul. It’s now a legitimate motorsport,

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It’s a sticky business, all this running around sucking up jiggling blobs of coloured goo in your Vacpack and depositing them in holding pens. Then again, how else would you earn a living on these intergalactic plains that look suspiciously like the Wild West, only populated by a sea of bouncing jellies? Later slimes have different powers that really test your wrangling skill, like radioactive ones, or ones that explode, and you’ll have to develop drills, utilise pumps, and venture far and wide to find them.

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recognised by the FIA itself. Yep, the era of esports has arrived in Gran Turismo, and it’s wonderful. You’ll be able to support your favourite marquee online in the Manufacturer Cup or get patriotic in the Nations Cup, with the finals streamed to the world each week – and we’re promised a full commentary team and TV-style presentation to frame the latter. Oh, and if you actually win the online world championship? You’ll get presented your trophy in Paris like all the other racing drivers. Amazing. It’s still the Gran Turismo you know and love, but it just got serious. We can’t wait.

Format PS4, PC Publisher YS Net Developer Shibuya Productions ETA Dec 2017

shenMue 3 Teenage martial artist Ryo Hazuki is back Maybe you’ve forgotten just how enormous a deal Shenmue is. In 1999 this open-world adventure, exclusive to Sega’s underperforming-but-still-brilliant Dreamcast, was the most expensive game ever – but the end product more than lived up to its $50million-odd cost. Fans, therefore, didn’t forget. Their overwhelming support raised a record-breaking $6 million on Kickstarter, and means Yu Suzuki – the legendary developer responsible for the first two Shenmues, as well as Virtua Fighter, Out Run, and After Burner – can once again handle director duties.

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Set immediately after Shenmue II in 1987, Ryo heads from Japan to China’s Guilin mountains in a quest for his father’s killer, Lan Di. Remember, Facebook was not invented at this time. Here he meets Shenhua Ling, with whom he shares ‘destinies’, if his prophetic dream is to be believed. She’ll accompany him far and wide – to the riverside village of Choubu, for instance, which features temples and souvenir shops, and the ancient siege town of Baisha. In these hubs you’ll play retro arcade machines, slots, and darts, make phone calls back home to catch up with characters from the first games, and – at one point – visit a glade filled with fireflies. Don’t worry, though: you can still beat-up angry locals.

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Feature On The Cover!

Format PC Publisher Sega Developer Relic Entertainment ETA Autumn 2017

Warhammer 40,000: DaWn Of War III Gothic sci-fi RTS sequel puts the laugh in slaughter The easiest mistake to make while writing anything about Warhammer 40k is getting caught up in the grimdark horribleness of it all, and forgetting about the fun. Dawn Of War III, surprising as it may sound to nonconverts, will make you laugh. As well as offering delicately balanced strategy and a world marinated in ambrosial lore, there are moments of crunching slapstick and knowing irony. And

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while there’s a hidden vein of humour running through the game, the action is still brutal – to the point that in the trailer, the logo’s ‘III’ is made up of bodies falling from the sky. Units and weapons have been scaled up, with giant walkers and orbital lasers smashing smaller units into glorious, fleshy lumps. But big guns aside, it sticks to the principles established in earlier entries: tight squad combat, real-time firefights, and a focus on field position. The solo campaign is all about the race to find a

catastrophic new weapon. You’ll play as each of the three factions during the story – Space Marine, Ork, and Eldar – all with their own strengths, weaknesses, and unique characters. Looking at the history of the series, you can expect the story to be smart, divergent, and alive with the little details that make the Warhammer 40k universe so bleak and blackly comic. Because if laughing at a Space Marine crushing Gretchin heads with a Power Fist is wrong, we don’t want to be right. www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017

Format PC Publisher Sega Developer Amplitude Studios ETA Winter 2017

enDless space 2 A universe of strategy

This space 4X continues Amplitude’s tradition of designing the coolest factions in strategy gaming. Here we have an intergalactic crime syndicate of wealth-obsessed amphibians, a dystopian human empire that bombards its citizens with cheery Soviet-style propaganda, soul-sucking religious fantatics kept alive by ancient technology, and more. Each has its own unique, asymetric gameplay – space cultists, for example, don’t colonise planets, forcing you to grow your populations inside colossal world-ships.

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Format PS4 Publisher Square Enix Developer Square Enix ETA Winter 2017

fInal fantasy VII remake Cloud Strife’s 1997 epic turns episodic Square Enix is going all-in, drawing back the quintessential PlayStation JRPG’s director, writers, and character artists to redesign elements for a modern audience while adding entirely new content. You can, for example, now explore whole areas of Midgar that were previously inaccessible, and characters introduced in later games may make cameo appearances. There’s so much new content, in fact, that in order to cram it all in Square is releasing the game in episodic chunks – but in terms of size, each will feel like a full game in its own right, in a fashion similar to the Final Fantasy XIII series.

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Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Ubisoft Dev Ubisoft ETA 7 March 2017

GhOst recOn WIlDlanDs Tom Clancy’s vehicle of duty

Format PC Pub Flaming Fowl Studios Dev Mediatonic ETA Summer 2017

fable fOrtune

Not Bowerstoning to convention

Like ’70s pop-rock maestros Fleetwood Mac, you can go your own way in this team-based sandbox shooter. Fly a chopper and skydive down; smash through gates in a truck then dive out and blow the strapped-on C4; wait for cover of darkness and storm into the base on foot; climb a mountain and heroically shoot everyone from afar. Sure, we’ve been clearing outposts in games for years, but four-player co-op and over 60 vehicles – with elements of Just Cause 3 and GTA smartly embedded into its DNA – should make this the most fun game to ever bear the legendary Clancy name.

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Intriguingly, former Lionhead luminaries Flaming Fowl have licensed Fable from owners Microsoft for this collectible card game. Taking its cue from the widely loved Xbox RPG series, here choices alter your moral alignment, and fighting foes levels you up. Elsewhere there’s an online co-op component, with further PvP modes under consideration ahead of its summertime release. The abundance of mechanically proficient card games on the market today – Hearthstone, Gwent, Magic, Pokémon TCG – means picking one boils down to whatever you most like the look of, so fans of balverines, bards, and clockwork beetles can do worse than this Albion-themed tabletop clasher.

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Rob’s Pick!

“I can’t wait to sneak my way to success across that incredible landscape.”

Format PS4, XO, Wii U, PC Pub Over The Moon Dev Over The Moon ETA Spring 2017

the fall part 2: unbOunD Cult hit rises again

We’ve been waiting two years for the follow-up to The Fall’s cliffhanger ending. Our hands-on finds this shadowy sequel boasting all the carefully-crafted atmosphere and philosophy-inducing questions of identity and artificial intelligence of its predecessor, but also adding layers of action. As our disembodied robo-consciousness jumps from body to body, we fight waves of enemies in rhythm-based hand-to-hand combat and run-and-gun through hostile cyberspace. Thankfully the intricate and deliciously grim puzzles are still present too, as we find when we carefully trick an android butler into violating his programming. Sci-fi adventuring at its bleak best.

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Feature

Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Rebellion Developments Dev Rebellion Developments ETA 14 February 2017

On The Cover!

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Deep Silver Developer Volition ETA Winter 2017

Agents Of MAyheM The hurty dozen

A Saints Row series spin-off set in a futuristic Seoul, this single-player open-world shooter puts you in control of the titular super agents as they go up against shadowy organisation, LEGION. There are 12 heroes and you can recruit a squad of three of them at a time, with the ability to instantly switch between each of your chosen crew on-the-fly as required. Agents are all equipped with their own specialist abilities and support gadgets, giving a strategic angle to combat as players mix-and-match strengths to find the optimum crime-fighting dream team for a given situation. So: It’s organised mayhem.

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Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Wild Sheep ETA December 2017

wild

Damn nature, you scary

sniper elite 4

So gory we almost can’t scope

Braining Nazis in super-slow motion wasn’t old after the 2005 original, and it isn’t old three games on, as you stealth behind enemy lines lodging bullets at speed into delicate places. Unlike all those internal organs so accurately modelled and framed by an X-ray kill-cam, that core concept stays intact. What’s markedly different is the setting. Karl Fairburne is now in sunny Italy circa 1943 to defend sun-dappled forests, mountain monasteries, and Mediterranean coasts from the fascist threat. They’re locations several times larger than any level in the last game, but your new climbing abilities make getting around a breeze. And now you’ve got the option of enlisting a buddy for campaign co-op, too.

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You can’t fault Wild’s ambition. Beyond Good And Evil creator Michel Ancel envisages a prehistoric world that spans an entire continent, encompassing dynamic weather, a day/night cycle, and all four seasons. You can possess any animal, from soaring eagles to swimming catfish, and each has its own abilities. To destroy a camp of tribesmen you’ll use a rabbit for distraction before charging in on the back of a massive bear. There’s mysterious multiplayer too, opening up the possibility of spying on mates as a crow. The only slight worry? We haven’t heard so much as a bleat from Ancel’s studio, Wild Sheep, in over a year.

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Format PS4, XO, PC Pub CI Games Dev CI Games ETA 4 April 2017

sniper: ghOst wArriOr 3

Talk about a spiritual successor

Rob’s Pick!

“Hacking and slashing my way to victory and conquering enemies like a boss? Sounds good to me.”

Prevent a Cold War turning hot by taking retired American marine Jonathan North into Georgia (that’s Russia, not USA) and quietly shooting everyone. Now fully open-world, you can seek out side missions, gather intel, and find targets with drones before eliminating them. Dynamic weather affects shots, a day/ night cycle determines visibility, and you can parkour and repel to better vantage points. With safe houses, shops, and even drivable cars, CI Games is ramping up Ghost Warrior’s scale.

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Format PS4, Xbox One, PC Publisher Ubisoft Developer Ubisoft ETA 14 February 2017

fOr hOnOr You’ll get the point this year

Don’t ask why Samurai, Vikings or Knights are living together in perfect disharmony. This isn’t about historical accuracy, but the fun you can have swinging big swords. The combat system is one of the most satisfying things we’ve played in a while. It uses a system of stances where, if you match left, right or top with your opponent, you can block incoming attacks. It leads to fantastic cat-and-mouse juggling as you shift and adjust posture to find a way past their block while not leaving yourself exposed. That alone is great fun, but also bolstered with a ton of variety. Each of the

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three factions have five sub-classes mixing a range of abilities from tank-like heavies, to light, fast, easy to crush, nippy fellas. It gives you plenty to play with, as well as introducing all manner of tactics for each possible combination (all the factions are subtly different). Supplementing the single-player campaign, there are five different multiplayer modes. Dominion is a territorial, capture-the-flag-style war, Skirmish is a straight up four-on-four deathmatch, Elimination is a variation on that with no respawning and Brawl is a two-on-two fight to score the most points. However, Duel is the purest expression of For Honor’s swordplay – a one-on-one fight to the death. www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017 Format X0 Publisher Microsoft Studios Developer Sumo Digital ETA Summer 2017

CrACkdOwn 3

If you build it, they will blow it up Microsoft is keen to turn longdelayed-but-finally-inbound (yes!) third-person sandbox shooter Crackdown 3 into a system seller. How? Letting players decimate the entire skyline. We’re not just talking about a few windows or ceilings, either. Here every single building is collapsible, from cramped offices to towering 40-floor skyscrapers. Again, how? Well, all the physics data is offloaded onto a cloud-based server, enabling destruction on a scale never seen before. You can also punch out a hole shaped like a dog in a wall. This series has repeatedly threatened greatness – hopefully this proves a classic case of third time lucky.

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Format Switch Publisher Nintendo Developer EAD Tokyo ETA March 2017

MAriO switCh Throwback to the future?

Not since the N64 all of two decades ago has a Nintendo console launched with a brand new Mario game. Fittingly – and thrillingly – Mario’s imminent-ish Switch debut is rumoured to be much closer in spirit to the still-wonderful Super Mario 64 than any game released since, with a sandbox hub providing access to a variety of worlds, each containing multiple objectives rather than a single goal pole. Nintendo seemingly won’t be abandoning 3D World’s co-op component, however, though it will probably be limited to two players rather than four. Plumb pudding never looked so delicious, and March can’t come soon enough.

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Format PS4, PS3 Publisher Deep Silver Developer Atlus ETA 4 April 2017

persOnA V Class action Originally planned for a lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day launch in Europe, this epic high-school JRPG was recently delayed by a couple of months because developer Atlus “want to put the utmost care into ensuring it winds up the best when it launches in the West”. But it’s not all bad news – the delay means players of both the PS4 and PS3 versions will be able to choose between English or Japanese dialogue options thanks to some free dual audio DLC.

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Format Switch Pub Nintendo Dev Nintendo EAD ETA March 2017

Format Switch Pub Nintendo Dev Nintendo EAD ETA March 2017

Nintendo’s perfect party starter

Looking fresher than ever

As a regular fixture in our GM Game Guide Top Five, even if Mario Kart 8 appeared on Switch entirely unchanged, it would still be an essential launch title – in 25 years, dating back to SNES, there’s never been a Nintendo console without a Mario Kart classic. What better excuse to hook up two or more Switches than one of the best local multiplayer games ever made? And with a display each, those gorgeous tracks wouldn’t suffer the indignity of being squashed into a quarter of the screen. Besides, this is clearly more than just a straight port, with new characters and a dual weapon mechanic that recalls GameCube favourite Double Dash.

Whether or not Splatoon is the esport-in-waiting Nintendo seems to believe, its impending arrival on Switch is brilliant news. Not least since it should finally and deservedly reach a much wider audience than it ever could on Wii U – which in turn will, more than likely, mean we can have more than two maps in the online rotation without increasing lobby waits. Whispers suggest the new version will feature a bonus one-on-one mode to tap into Switch’s local multiplayer potential, while the single-player game will likely be expanded, too – buttressing the original’s excellent but all-too-brief campaign.

MAriO kArt switCh

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splAtOOn switCh

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Feature On The Cover!

Robin’s Pick!

“Shaping up to be one very cool open-world game. The setting and art design have me head over heels.”

Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Guerrilla Games ETA 3 March 2017

Horizon zero Dawn A storm’s brewing in this enticing RPG Hunting down robot dinosaurs in a gorgeous open-world RPG is as close to a slam dunk as we can imagine, and everything we see of Guerrilla’s sandbox suggests the developer is doing the idea justice. A recent reveal shows that there’s a lot more variety in this post-apocalypse than just the lush forestry that’s been on display so far. Guerrilla is describing these new areas as ‘ecotopes’, each inhabited with their own resident machines to discover, and promising scorching deserts, vibrant jungles, and snow-covered mountains to explore. Despite the beautiful scenery, you might want to pack a brolly, as art

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director Jan-Bart Van Beek explains another key feature: “There is a very dynamic weather system. You get the types of weather that belong to certain ecotopes and that of course has an influence on the gameplay. It can reduce visibility, make certain things harder, certain things might be easier.” One moment has a herd of robots pelting away from a chasing Aloy as rain lashes down. Another sees her surveying a group of machines in a desert canyon as they become engulfed in a cloud of dust. Add to this the promise of extra-crisp 4K graphics with sumptuous HDR on PS4 Pro, and Uncharted 4’s time as Best Looking Console Game seems perilously close to coming to an end.

Oh my Mr Snapmaw, what scarily sharp teeth you have. Nothing that a swift smack around the gob with a big stick won’t fix.

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THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017

These charming chaps carry storage containers on their backs – kill or stun them, and you can fill your pockets with crafting materials.

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Feature

Format PS4 Pub Bandai Namco Dev Level-5 ETA Winter 2017

On The Cover!

ni nO kuni ii: revenant kingDOm Format PS4, PC Publisher Supergiant Games Developer Supergiant Games ETA Summer 2017

pyre

Slam dunk This surreal adventure comes to us from the minds behind the brilliant Bastion and Transistor, so it’s no surprise to find that, like those illustrious titles, it boasts a stunningly beautiful art style and a spine-tingling soundtrack. What we didn’t expect was a combat system that has more in common with a game of basketball than it does with your average fantasy quest ’em up. As a ‘Reader’ (literacy being a rare skill in this world), you must guide three exiles through a strange and barren land to ‘Rites’. Whether you think of these as fights or matches, they see your team take on three opponents as they try to get the ‘Orb’ (ball) into the enemy ‘Pyre’ (hoop) while protecting theirs.

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Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher CD Projekt Developer CD Projekt Red ETA Winter 2017

Cyberpunk 2077

Silly name, great game?

Nefarious being intent on seizing the throne? Monumental quasimedieval battles? A sprawling storyline? Bizarre place names? Nope, it’s not Game Of Thrones, it’s Ni No Kuni II. There’s less chance of characters ending up with their heads on spikes here, though. The aggressively colourful Studio Ghibli-esque visuals are a stark (heh) contrast to Game Of Thrones’ dark and grimy realism, but some of that magic is retained in the historical conniving and epic scale, though it’s yet to be seen if it can be as equally gripping. Book plenty of time into your 2017 planner, because this one’s going to suck up a load of hours, when it finally drops.

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Future drama

Remember how brilliant and huge The Witcher 3 was? Well, CD Projekt’s claiming its next open-world RPG is going to be even better and “far, far bigger”. Once we’d have scoffed at such ambitious claims, but Geralt’s last adventure was enough to convince us that this is a studio that backs up its promises. Hard details are still thin on the ground, but we do know that it’s set in a grim dystopia where elite police units battle crazed, murderous cyborgs.

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Format PC Pub Larian Studios Dev Larian Studios ETA Summer 2017

Divinity: Original Sin ii

Would you Adam and Eve it?

Old school this turn-based strategy RPG may be, but it’s also not quite like anything you’ve seen before. Thanks to a web of interweaving personal quests, you and up to three co-op partners work against one another as much as you fight together as you each work towards your own secret goals alongside the main story. And when you’re playing an elf that eats people to gain their strength, or a mage that rains blood from the sky, playing dirty just feels normal. Our top tip-off? Expect to see this ported to consoles too – its predecessor received excellent PS4 and Xbox One versions.

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Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Quantic Dream ETA Summer 2017

DetrOit: beCOme Human Android saga has its charms, AI AI O Say what you like about David Cage, but it’s undeniable that the man has a tonne of ambition. Quantic Dream has taken the heart-rending seven minute 2012 PS3 tech demo, Kara, and built an entire neo-noir thriller out of it. A cold future – advanced androids are slaves to humans, but are developing self-awareness – glitters with incredible visual fidelity. It’s also a surprisingly complex Quantic title. Just like Heavy Rain, as you progress through the story you’ll

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play as multiple characters with different abilities. Robo-detective Connor, for example, hunts down androids that have gone haywire and can make use of Reconstruct Mode – manipulate the DualShock touchpad, and he’ll piece together clues, allowing him to reconstruct crimes. More informed dialogue choices equal a better outcome, but the longer you dilly-dally with data, the lower the percentage chance of success drops. It’s a race against time – one of multiple new gameplay facets that could make this the jewel in Cage’s crown. www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017 Format PS4, PC Publisher Messhof Developer Messhof ETA Autumn 2017

niDHOgg 2

The only game where you want to become worm food We may be a little unsure about the redesigned visuals of this couch-play duelling sequel, but we still can’t wait to get sparring. The compulsive original’s nerve-shredding duels are back, but this time you’ll have new weapons like crossbows and daggers that should add just enough new intrigue to fights. Will taking out a fleeing foe with an arrow be just as cruelly hilarious as doing it with a flying sword? That remains to be seen… There are also at least ten levels this time, and new animations to make you wince as you stomp your opponent to death. Cult status beckons once again.

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Format PS4, PC Publisher Square Enix Developer Platinum Games ETA 10 March 2017

nier: autOmata Poised 2B better than ’Netta?

After an endearing but utterly oddball first instalment (you want to do what with my 40-hour save file, Nier!?), the post-apocalyptic action-RPG is returning. In the very capable and very talented hands of Platinum Games, the studio behind Metal Gear Rising and Bayonetta, the evolution’s instantly more focused and far friendlier. Slick, combo-centric, bullet hell-influenced combat makes duels between android hero 2B and bio-mechanical bosses an effortless dance of dashes. With Final Fantasy XV’s Engine Blade now a featured weapon (granting Noctis’ evasion technique), it’s clear the developer is out to make chums this time. Our save data’s probably safe…

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Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer SIE Bend Studio ETA Winter 2017

DayS gOne Motorcycle emptiness in a zombie-filled world Two years after a global pandemic turns millions of people into bloodthirsty ‘Freakers’, former bounty hunter Deacon St John is surviving on his wits alone. His Harley Davidson-cum-caravan lets him load up supplies and craftables to cross this Pacific Northwest. The bike is probably why he’s lasted so long, a method of manoeuvring at speed through spaces chunkier vehicles can’t, and also the only relationship he has left in a world gone wrong. One such environment is a lumber mill, in which St John fends off hundreds of sprinting, clawing, clamouring Freakers by dislodging log piles, throwing molotovs, spraying the pack with bullets, and at one point formally introducing them to the mess-making qualities of a buzzsaw. Like water they pour, flooding in through doorways and windows in a way that recalls the chaotic action scenes of World War Z, all without a hint of slowdown. With its crisp and vibrant visuals, this zombie drama stands ready to play a starring role in showcasing Sony’s 4K PS4 Pro.

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Feature

Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Media Molecule ETA Summer 2017

On The Cover!

Dreams Sleeping beauty

After a year quietly slumbering from prying eyes, the next ambitious make-and-do project from the crafty creators of LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway should be waking and shaking, well, any minute now really. Heading to both PS4 and PSVR, a beta was promised for 2016 to give players a chance to experience and experiment with the – remember the mantra – ‘play, create, share’ tools of Dreams, but we’re still waiting. However, the beta is, according to Media Molecule’s Twitter account, still on for 2016. You may even be playing it right now! Or perhaps it’s just a dream. Ooooooooh.

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Ben’s Pick!

“I’m not going to shoot anyone. I’m just going to ride around looking at all the gorgeous views.”

Format PS4, XO Publisher Rockstar Games Developer Rockstar Games ETA Autumn 2017

reD DeaD reDemPtion 2 Back in the saddle Our anticipation for this sequel began the instant we finished its predecessor, so we’ve been waiting, let’s see now, around 2427 days. Not that we’ve been counting or anything. But could this be the difficult second game? Can Rockstar really improve on what was already a near-perfect experience and richly realised Wild West? Absolutely it can. We’ve seen the developer continue to break the mould, over-deliver, and push its juggernaut GTA series forward with every new instalment, so there’s no reason to believe it can’t work the same magic here. We may only have seen a single trailer, but this already has to considered as an early contender for 2017 game of the yeehaw.

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Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Team Ninja ETA 8 February 2017

nioh

It’s off to kill we go Taking place in a dark, demoninfested version of 17th century Japan, this samurai action-RPG was originally meant to have been released by the end of 2016, but was pushed to February to allow developer Team Ninja time to implement some last minute tweaks and changes based on feedback gathered from players of the beta. These include fine-tuning the

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Format XO, PC Pub The Behemoth Dev The Behemoth ETA Summer 2017

game’s balance and pace, adjusting some of the various role-playing elements, and making improvements to the user interface. Regardless of these changes, at its heart Nioh will remain a Dark Souls inspired hack-and-slash with a combat system ready to reward any player who has the patience (and skills) to master it. And if you don’t? Prepare to be a-Nioh-lated.

Format Switch, PS4, 3DS Pub Square Enix Dev Square Enix ETA Summer 2017

Pit PeoPle

Dragon Quest Xi

Hex-based turn-based strategy-based games often suffer from being a bit po-faced-based also, but this looks set to upend the table with the kind of silly we’ve come to expect from the folk behind Castle Crashers and BattleBlock Theater. Traditional TBS traits are present and correct, but what’s plastered on top of the familiar mechanics is where things go waltzing into more kooky territory. Fighters include huffy hair trolls and farting fungi. And all your belligerent blighters can be customised with accessories and faces, so everyone in your army can have their own barmy style, giving the battlefield the look of a cheese dream fight at a fancy dress party.

In the 12 months since it appeared in last year’s Greatest Games Of 2016 And Beyond feature, there has hardly been any fresh info about the JRPG series’ newest instalment. However, the game has at least now been 100% confirmed for Nintendo Switch by series creator Yuji Horii. And while there’s still radio silence with regards to a release outside of Japan, we’re confident it will – like other titles in the main series – arrive here eventually. Furthermore, Square Enix producer Noriyoshi Fujimoto recently promised the publisher is “committed to bringing more Dragon Quest titles to the West”, so localisation looks like it’ll be more a matter of when, not if.

Hole lot of fun

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Format PC Publisher Matt Makes Games Developer Matt Makes Games ETA Summer 2017

Celeste Peak interest

The next game from TowerFall indie dev Matt Thorson, Celeste is a single-player platformer that tasks players with wall-jumping and dashing through a series of hazard strewn caverns to the summit of a mountain. Spikes, traps, collapsing ledges and pursuing clones (which follow a split-second behind the agile pixelated protagonist) are all waiting to make you dead. And you will be dead a lot – the platforming can best be described as ‘challenging’. Celeste is actually a re-imagining of a game Thorston created in four days and you can give it a whirl here: http://bit.ly/gmmattmakes

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Holding out for a hero

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THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Capcom Developer Capcom ETA 24 January 2017

resiDent evil 7: BiohazarD The house that Jack built It’s not until we finally played four hours of Resi 7 that it became clear just how much of a classic Resident Evil game this really is. The first-person view might look new, but the spirit is absolutely that of wandering a creepy house – where horrible things walk in the

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shadows, and you never quite feel ready to deal with any of it. There are weapons like pistols, a jury-rigged flamethrower, and a shotgun, but you never feel entirely safe from the murderous Jack and Marguerite Baker, or the slimy monstrous new Moulded creatures (mostly tentacles, way too many teeth). It’s a stressful, panicky experience, mixing stealth and flailing combat

with copious amounts of gore, dread and jump scares. This is a Resi that’s left behind the hammy action of recent instalments and doubled down on pure, nasty horror. The atmosphere’s perfect too, blending decrepit peeling corridors with real scares and a far more interesting, partially human threat. It looks like Resi’s back and it’s worse (better) than ever. JANUARY 2017

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Format PS4, XO, PC Pub PlayWay SA Dev Madmind Studio ETA Summer 2017

On The Cover!

Agony

Go directly to Hell Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Ultra Ultra Developer Ultra Ultra ETA Spring 2017

echo

It’s time to reflect Newly indie ex-Hitman dev Ultra Ultra will make you think carefully about everything you do in this shooter, as your actions directly influence your enemies, aka Echoes. Run and they’ll speed up. Sneak and you won’t see them coming. Thankfully, they regularly ‘reboot’, giving you a break before they start learning again. “You will definitely have to stay dynamic in your play-style,” warns game director Martin Emborg. “But that will soon feel natural as you settle into the rhythm of the game, so to speak. I really feel like Echo is a game that makes you think in a very different way about your choices.” Constantly switching up play-styles means no one is going to be in their comfort zone for long.

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Format Switch, PS4, XO, PC Publisher Sega Developer Sonic Team ETA Winter 2017

Project Sonic 2017 Generating next-gen Generations

It’s strange to think a new game from Sonic Team is only the second-most anticipated Sonic game in 2017 (see below for the most anticipated), but the House Of Hog is hard at work on a Sonic Generations follow-up. Set in a bleak future where giant robots are destroying an entire city, the game will feature side-scrolling levels and 3D action stages, with a welcome return for Generations’ pairing of modern and classic Sonic. However, there will also be a third new component, along with an all-new character. It’s anyone’s guess as to what that will entail… maybe a first-person mode where you play as Big The Cat and Froggy’s lovechild? Either way, Sonic Generations’ treatment of old and new was ace, so a sequel is extremely welcome.

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With a name like Agony, this Kickstartered kitten-stroking sim really is playing to the wrong crowd. Ok, part of that might be a lie. If modern horror leaves you cold, a trip to actual Hell should do the trick. This first-person, blood-drenched journey into a tortuous nightmare lets you explore a decaying world of pain and suffering. If you want to escape you’ll need to hold your breath so as not to be detected by the contorted demons and souls that wander the fleshy corridors. Think Outlast goes to a dimension that makes Silent Hill look like Disneyland and you’re on the right disturbing limb-strewn track. Oh, and did we mention the walls are made of giant teeth?

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Format PC Pub Ebb Software Dev Ebb Software ETA Winter 2017

Scorn

Watch your Giger counter If exploring a nightmarish, HR Giger-esque universe where nothing makes sense other than your constant desire to escape sounds like your cup of bloodied tea, we’d suggest Scorn and then perhaps some fresh air. Opting for a HUD-less first-person perspective to ensure maximum immersion, this two-part survival horror pits you against an unsettling, labyrinthine world of nasty. Inventory and ammo management is key as you explore a series of interconnected regions within the atmospheric open world. Ebb Software isn’t revealing many plot details, although the Serbian developer explains that “everything has a reason and purpose - you just need to work out what it is.” Err, thanks?

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Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Sega Developer Headcannon, Pagoda West Games ETA Spring 2017

Sonic MAniA

You can’t always get what you want… unless it’s a Sonic Saturn game Finally, it’s the Sonic game we’ve been wanting and hoping for since 1995. Sonic Team never made a true next-gen, 2D Sonic game for Saturn, but this alluring gem has been designed to look as though it’s running on that machine. Despite the iconic Green Hill Zone making a return, beginning as a blow-for-blow retread of the original Sonic The Hedgehog, this is no HD remake. For starters, it’s

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not HD at all, but thanks to gorgeously pixellated, all-new retro-styled artwork, it’s utterly lovely to look at. Secondly, the classic level soon branches off into new territory, followed by all-new zones to explore. The playable trio of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles all look magnificent, full of personality and boasting smoother animation and deeper colour palettes. Best of all, it moves exactly like Mega Drive Sonic, only with an extra move – the ‘drop dash’ – and a couple of minor improvements

to jump physics in certain situations, like vertical wall runs and item box bounces. Even in its current unfinished state, Sonic Mania is an absolute joy to play, with fun, engaging and interesting things to do everywhere in the environment, and flowing, canny level design by a development team that clearly ‘gets’ what Sonic should be about. Be excited – the decades-long wait for a proper 2D Sonic sequel is almost over. Nothing less than superb will do.


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017 Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Kojima Productions ETA Winter 2018

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher No Matter Studios Developer No Matter Studios ETA Winter 2017

deAth StrAnding

Prey For the godS

Strand and deliver

Even Mads Mikkelsen, now revealed to be starring as the game’s villain, has admitted he has little idea what’s going on in Hideo Kojima’s passion project. What hope, then, do we have? New footage shows the Hannibal actor heading up a squad of skeletal soldiers in a bombed-out city, as a frightened civilian looks for somewhere to hide. Oh, did we mention? That civilian is Guillermo Del Toro, director of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth. We already knew that he’s best mates with Kojima, but it’s more than a little surprising to see him playing a character in the game. And, like Norman Reedus before him, he’s shown holding a baby – this time within a strange container. What does it all mean? Only Koj knows…

Shadow play

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Comparisons to Team Ico classic Shadow Of The Colossus are clear, but this arty adventure offers more than just a hollow homage. Not only must you seek and destroy a roster of fantastical giant creatures with barely more than a bow, but you must brave the harsh winter elements as you do so. Trudging through snow drains your stamina, so to maximise your chances of success in battle and ensure you don’t lose grip of a beast’s fur, you’ll rest at fires and stock up before the fight. A grappling hook, meanwhile, makes it easier to latch onto foes.

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Format PS4, PC Publisher Ninja Theory Developer Ninja Theory ETA Summer 2017

hellblAde

I know Senua but what am I? Ninja Theory does great characters, and Senua is no exception. Inspired by Celtic mythology, this dark hack-and-slash follows the troubled protagonist in a journey across a hellish underworld created from the mentally ill woman’s own terrifying nightmares. Here you’ll confront all manner of delusions and abominable manifestations of her psychotic mind. Impactful fights put to use everything the developer has learned from its previous projects, such as Heavenly Sword, Enslaved, and DMC. Senua herself is a work of immense detail, with muscles and skin that fold and roll, peeling face paint, and even accurately modelled fingerprints.

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Format PC Pub Cloud Imperium Games Dev Cloud Imperium Games ETA Summer 2017

StAr citizen

Crowdsourced funding to the tune of $137 million

They can’t stop bolting bits onto this epic space sim, a game that already lets you fight, trade, explore, then land on a planet’s surface for a wander. The first taster was 2013’s Hangar Module, which let players walk around marvelling at parked ships in first-person, and next came space combat mode Arena Commander, focusing on battling and racing. Later we’ll see 16-player infantry deathmatch and the zero-g sport of Sata Ball in Star Marine. But that’s all a precursor to Squadron 42, a sprawling drop-in co-op campaign featuring the talents of Mark Hamill, Mark Strong, and Gary Oldman.

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Format PS4 Pub Square Enix Dev Square Enix ETA Summer 2017

KingdoM heArtS hd 2.8 FinAl chAPter Prologue Alt Disney Format XO, PC Publisher Microsoft Studios Developer Rare ETA Spring 2017

SeA oF thieveS Yo ho ho and a bottle of fun

The stories from our high seas hands-on sessions of this team-based pirate game are legendary. Like the time we whipped out an accordion and fired up a rousing sea shanty to keep our crewmates entertained. Or how we climbed the crow’s nest to spy rival ships through our telescope. Or how we downed a jug of rum and jumped in the ocean, steaming drunk. Currently Rare’s comedy voyage revolves around ship-to-ship combat – things like firing cannons and frantically nailing boards to plug leaking holes – but there’s talk of additions between now and release, such as anchoring at islands and digging up treasure.

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It may not be Kingdom Hearts III, but there’s still plenty of reasons to be hyped for the arrival of this neatly timed stopgap. Whether it’s replaying Dream Drop Distance in glorious high def-o-vision, exploring events following Birth By Sleep and discovering how A Fragmentary Passage ties into Kingdom Hearts III, or seeing what brand new nuggets of story info Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover reveals, one thing’s for sure – this should make the wait for the main series main attraction a lot more bearable.

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Format PS4, XO Pub Square Enix Dev Square Enix ETA Autumn 2017

KingdoM heArtS iii We’ll never be royals

Final Fantasy characters cross paths with Disney’s best and brightest in this half baffling, half brilliant JRPG. The series’ first Unreal Engine 4 game continues directly from 2012’s Dream Drop Distance and sees Sora, Mickey, and the duck one embark on a quest to find the seven Guardians Of Light in an attempt to prevent a second Keyblade War. The big new feature for Kingdom Hearts III’s real-time combat is Attraction Flow, in which you summon actual Disney theme park rides: smash enemies with a massive swinging gondola and ride the teacups right into an evil imp’s face.

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Feature On The Cover!

Your mission is to find a new home for humanity. With all due respect to our friends on the South Coast, this is an almighty step up from Hastings.

Ben’s Pick!

“As we speak Bioware is in the process of creating a bunch of cool new aliens who will be my friends.”

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher EA Developer Bioware ETA Spring 2017

Mass EffEct: androMEda Intergalactic planetary, planetary intergalactic

Commander Shepard may have faced a great deal of adversity in his/her time, but at least the famed Spectre was always well-supplied. The same can’t be said of Scott and Sarah Ryder, the twin playable protagonists of Bioware’s forthcoming foray into a brand new galaxy, which bids farewell to Shepard and is set 600 years after the first three series entries. Now, in addition to chewing the fat with all manner of alien conversationalists, you’ll also be rummaging around on strange new worlds in search of crafting materials, making use of your natty new scanner to identify mineral deposits you’ll cobble together into gear and equipment. But between rubbing lithium crystals together until you make a

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shiny new chestplate, you’ll also enjoy a more fast-paced and frenetic brand of combat than anything we’ve seen from the series to date. Ryder can chain jet-powered jumps, biotic powers, and kinetic dashes together to zip around the battlefield in a blur of motion. Gone are the days in which you could simply hunker down behind a waist-high wall and chip away at an enemy health bar – now, you’ll have to use your enhanced mobility to outflank opponents, flinging yourself onto higher ground to get the drop on your dopey foes. But these are far from the only changes to the Mass Effect formula, and Andromeda promises an ambitious overhaul of Bioware’s role-playing romp. With space-kissing. Shepard may be gone, but on release early next year this already inconic shooter-RPG series looks guaranteed to attract a whole new flock. www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017

In space, Snog Marry Avoid gets really, really complex. (And as with previous Mass Effects, alien romances are very much welcome.)

Each planet has its own story, with some inhospitable and others uninhabitable. Expect every arrival to play out differently.

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Feature

Format PC Pub Big Robot Dev Big Robot ETA Spring 2017

On The Cover!

the signal From tölva Format PC Publisher The Outsiders Developer The Outsiders ETA Winter 2017

projeCt Wight Could be a monster

The word ‘wight’ comes from olden times English and is used to describe a creature or living sentient being. In this ambitious RPG, the first project from a new studio co-founded by ex-Battlefield devs, you get to play as one such non-human. It’s set in an alternate reality of the Viking era, in which “humans share the world with the last remnant of a forgotten species of intelligent creatures”, according to The Outsiders CCO David Goldfarb. And what, exactly, does one do when being a wight? Well, in this instance, if you’re not skulking around in caves avoiding vikes, you’re eviscerating them with your big monster claws. How… de-wight-ful.

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Format PC Publisher Bethesda Developer Id Software, Saber Interactive ETA Winter 2017

Quake Champions

Railgunning against the shooter status quo

Bot topic

On an alien planet, robots war in the ruins of a long dead civilisation, chasing the mysterious, eponymous signal. As you explore the gorgeous open world, AI-controlled factions dynamically scuffle amongst themselves, initiating landgrabs for each other’s territory, patrolling contested areas, and laying siege to each other’s bases – and it’s all completely unscripted. You’re not just there to observe, mind. If you want to progress (and ultimately find the source of Tölva’s signal for yourself), you’ll need to get involved, disrupting these automatically-generated conflicts in favour of your favoured faction. As well as getting things done the old-fashioned way (shooting everyone in the robo-face with a laser rifle), you can also recruit squads of your own, mind-controlling teams of droids to do your bidding and get their hands dirty on your behalf.

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FPS games are changing: Remembering their roots, getting faster and more kinetic, retraining focus on player ingenuity and moment-to-moment strategy. Now, the king of arena shooters is back and set to really shake things up. Every bit as fast, smooth and direct as its ’90s predecessors, Champions blends Quake’s hallmarks of high-flying, physics-bending, weapon-switching tactical play with Overwatch-style character-driven class abilities. That promises to add even more depth and deceptive intelligence to a multiplayer shooter that already thrives on purity and precision, amid its many glorious excesses.

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Format PC Pub GoodbyeWorld Games Dev GoodbyeWorld Games ETA Feb 2017

Close Your

Cry spy with my little eye Get ready to tear up even worse than on your debut watch of The Lion King. Not only will the poignant first-person story of this heartbreaking indie get you right in the feels, but it progresses every time you blink. Yes, you read that right. (Someone on the dev team is clearly quite the Sally Sparrow fan, and that’s not a criticism.) Using proprietary software, Close Your tracks your eyes and every time you blink it hurtles the story forward from birth to oh-so-inevitable death. While there’s a mode that’ll let you manually blink with the press of a button, playing as you’re meant to with tears streaming down your cheeks as you try and hold onto every special moment of day-to-day life is a truly unique experience. Just try your best not to think too hard about the way it mirrors real life. Drink, anyone?

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Format XO, PC Publisher Microsoft Developer Platinum Games ETA Autumn 2017

sCalebound

The wait for it is starting to drag-on This might just be Platinum Games’ most ambitious project yet, and from a studio that’s previously tasked you with punching God into the sun, that’s saying something. As if Platinum’s standard real-time combat wasn’t hectic enough, Scalebound throws ginormous dragon partners into the mix, so you can take to the air, breathe fire, and generally feel really

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rather badass. Your flying reptilian pal is far from a throwaway addition, because Scalebound sees you facing off against some ridiculously large enemies that make your fearsome dragon look like a yapping chihuahua by comparison. The dialogue is looking a little cheesy from what we’ve seen so far, but if anyone knows how to ham it up with panache, it’s Platinum, right? Prepare for dragons, daftness, and duels come 2017. www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017 Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Red Barrels Studio Developer Red Barrels Studio ETA Autumn 2017

outlast 2

First-person horror that’s breaking all the taboos You’re a journalist so committed to a story he ends up stumbling into the farmstead of a cult who leave chicken feet and doll heads everywhere. That’s dedication. This linear horror relies more on its unsettling atmosphere than jump scares – but it has those, too. One scenario involves choosing whether to flee pitchfork-wielding men chasing you through a corn field or hide in a stinking barrel. We’re not sure about the otherworldly stuff just yet, but its grounded horror is, well, horrifying.

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Format PC Publisher Stunlock Studios Developer Stunlock Studios ETA Spring 2017

battlerite

Stunlock’s smash arena brawler has the rite stuff This frenetic arena combat game has gone from strength to strength since it launched in Steam Early Access. Fantasy characters smack each other to pieces in an accessible but dizzyingly deep distillation of the MOBA that pits small teams against each other in a battle to the death. One mistake – or gambit – can turn a match, but smart and streamlined ability design means that you’ll quickly learn what each character can do. A recent update introduced spooky sorceror Ezmo, undead warrior Ruh Kaan, and trap-setting hunter Jumong. More updates are promised with regularity as the game gets closer to completion.

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Format XO, PC Publisher Microsoft Studios Developer 343 Industries ETA 21 February 2017

halo Wars 2 Your battle is with the enemy, not the controller The 2009 original was a real-time strategy game designed specifically with a controller in mind, and its sequel looks to further streamline the traditionally PC-centric genre. Here you’ll play as both UNSC human forces and new faction The Banished – a splinter faction of the former Covenant Empire – as you establish bases and clash on massive battlefields. Blitz speeds the action up faster than ever, a new card-based mode in which players choose leaders and build a deck before deploying units. Instant Scorpion tank, please.

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Format PC Pub Failbetter Games Dev Failbetter Games ETA Spring 2018

Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Compulsion Games Dev Compulsion Games ETA March 2017

The sky’s the limit

Winners don’t do drugs

Building on the formula established by the brilliantly surreal and atmospheric Sunless Sea, this sequel takes the roguelike exploration and Lovecraftian storytelling out of the water and into the dark reaches of space. This time, rather than always setting out from and returning to the same port, you’ll travel between ports, to ensure the focus as much as possible is on exploring the procedurallygenerated universe, rather than slogging your way home. That’s not to say you won’t still need to manage your resources – run out of supplies, and you’ll soon find yourself “dying in the cold, uncaring vastness of space” promises Failbetter.

This very British adventure is set in a world ruled by drugs. After WWII, the residents of Wellington Wells sought to forget the awful atrocities they committed by taking Joy, a hallucinogenic substance that makes them blissfully docile. You play a man who’s gone cold turkey. Part survival game, part roguelike, We Happy Few is about exploring a trippy alternative 1960s, questing, crafting, stealing, changing clothes to fit within different districts, and sometimes fighting to subvert the system while trying not to be outed as a ‘Downer’. Want to try it out? Pre-release builds are available on Steam and Xbox One.

sunless skies

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We happY FeW

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Feature On The Cover!

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Bandai Namco Developer Bandai Namco ETA Spring 2017

Tekken 7

Still fighting fit and packed full of family drama Wander into any gym and you’ll be told hand-to-hand combat is all about strength, athleticism and courage. But in reality, it’s all in the fingers — as any self-respecting, buttonmashing Tekken fan can attest. The iconic fighting series returns with a raft of exciting new gameplay features in 2017. The Power Crush mechanism is the most intriguing

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– it allows you to continue your combos even as you’re being pummelled by your opponent. The popular Rage Mode has been given something of an overhaul, too, while the series’ visuals will look better than ever thanks to its use of Unreal Engine 4 technology. A resolution to one of the longest-running plot-lines in videogame history is also on the cards. The Mishima family — whose endless desire to bump one another off would put even

the Lannisters to shame — began their feuding in the original 1994 arcade game, but producer and co-director Katsuhiro Harada has promised a dramatic conclusion to this saga and other Tekken mysteries is in sight. Having been announced by Bandai Namco all the way back in 2014, Tekken 7 is currently slated for a release in early 2017. Until then, you’ll find us working out and getting sweaty at the local gym, beefing up those fingers. www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017 Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Focus Home Interactive Developer Cyanide Studio ETA Spring 2017

STyx: ShardS Of darkneSS

Sick of the same old sneaking? There aren’t enough stealth games that let you spew in the refreshments, wait for your foes to take a drink and then watch them keel over. Like a third person goblin-flavoured Dishonored, the delayed sequel to Master Of Shadows has all kinds of fun tricks up its stealthy sleeve. Styx can make himself invisible to avoid detection and he’s even got chemicals to dissolve bodies. This looks like dangerous deadly fun. And yeah, sick.

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Format PC Publisher Klei Entertainment Developer Klei Entertainment ETA Spring 2017

Oxygen nOT Included Take my breath away The title serves as a chilling warning to the little computer people who are at the mercy of your management skills in this space colony simulation from the creator of indie hits Don’t Starve and Invisible, Inc. Fail to ensure there’s enough lung food to go round and they’ll be dropping like Star Trek redshirts. And that’s a bad thing. However, it doesn’t have to end in catastrophe for your replicant residents. Sort the basics, plan carefully, be resource-wise, and assign the right workers for the right jobs, and you’ll be the master of your own well-oiled outpost in no time.

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Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Telltale Games Dev Telltale Games ETA Summer 2017

guardIanS Of The galaxy Groot? Groot Groot Groot

Announced just in time for the new movie, we’ll be joining marvellous misfits Rocket, Groot, Drax The Destroyer, Gamora and Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) in Telltale’s next big episodic adventure. “Players will take on multiple roles within the ragtag band of heroes, and take the pilot’s seat in directing their escapades around the universe,” reveals studio CEO Kevin Bruner, and he’s confirmed it will be with us for 2017, but beyond that details are thin on the ground. Jay Ong, vice president of games at Marvel, seems confident it’ll be quality, at least, describing it as “part of our strategy to establish a new standard for Marvel games”. Not a naff tie-in, in other words.

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Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Focus Home Interactive Developer Deck13 ETA Summer 2017

The Surge

An eye for an eye, a leg for a leg In this dystopian sci-fi brawler from Lords Of The Fallen developer Deck13, targeting individual limbs and chopping them off is just the start. From there you can loot armour from that body part and graft it to yourself, augmenting your abilities so you can delve further into a grim factory filled with crazed killer robots. Hey, like we always say: if you can’t beat them, wear them. A little Dark Souls with a pinch of Matt Damon flick Elysium, this is precision, stamina-based combat in a fresh new setting.

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Format XO, PC Pub Microsoft Dev Undead Labs ETA Autumn 2017

STaTe Of decay 2 Jolly rotten

No one survives alone. That’s the tagline for this zombie sequel, tasking you with scouting safe havens, establishing bases, and inviting people to settle in for the long haul. We’re in it together – unless someone gets bitten, and then it’s every man for himself. With drop-in four-person co-op, you’re now able to coordinate efforts, fire flares to communicate rare finds like food or vehicles, and better bolster your defences. Growing crops and crafting weapons plays just as big a role as baseball-batting zombies in the head.

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Feature

Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Focus Home Interactive Dev Dontnod Entertainment ETA Autumn 2017

On The Cover!

VAmpyR Format XO, PC Publisher Fullbright Developer Fullbright ETA Summer 2017

TAcomA

Solve the mysteries of this deserted space station Gone Home developer Fullbright is taking its introspective storytelling 200,000 miles from Earth on Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma. Despite the locational differences, there are similarities to its narrative-driven first-person game – something has gone wrong, and you are hopelessly alone. Mess rooms, crew quarters, and observation decks still bear the hallmarks of life, and by interacting with artifacts and listening to the recorded holograms of evacuees you can piece together the enigma of Tacoma. There are moments of quiet solitude, such as staring out at the vastness of space, and also fun, like a court on which to play basketball in zero-g.

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Format PC Publisher Far From Home Developer Far From Home ETA Autumn 2017

Allison RoAd The road worrier

In a nondescript home somewhere in England, you wake up one day with no memory. For a change, the local Wetherspoons is not to blame. What’s happened instead is you’ve got amnesia, and to make things worse, a ghostly presence called Lily keeps showing up. And she’s hidden your family. To banish Lily and find your loved ones, you must solve puzzles and survive over five nights – a frightening prospect when the atmosphere’s so thick with tension. There’s black mould between bathroom tiles, Lemsip boxes near unmade beds, and interactive taps over dirty dishes. Like a PT set in Hemel Hempstead.

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Prescription thrills in gothic London Life Is Strange developer Dontnod shifts gears and takes us to an early 20th century London still reeling from The Great War. Here you play newly-made vampire Jonathan Reid, who’s able to use the confusion as cover to strike throughout this partially open world. Crucially, however, you don’t have to. You might play this RPG completely passively, fulfilling the Hippocratic Oath and helping distressed residents find a cure to Spanish flu. You’ll have to choose between that, and feasting on people to gain crazy new vampire powers such as teleporation and long-range blood draining. So, you know, apples and oranges.

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Format XO, PC Pub Studio MDHR Dev Studio MDHR ETA Summer 2017

cupheAd

A crockery of gold

This loving homage to the golden age of 1930s Disney is one of the most visually arresting games hitting next year (and of recent memory). It’s not just the painted backgrounds or the design of Cuphead himself, as he struts around merrily shooting projectiles from his fingers but also the incredible hand-drawn animations for such weird and wonderful boss rush encounters as a gurning sunflower that attacks with its strangely stretchy face and a clockwork moon desperately trying to strike our hero with starry constellations. After a number of delays, we’ve got our fingers crossed that 2017 is the year it finally arrives.

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Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Mode 7 Dev SMAC Games ETA Spring 2017

Tokyo 42

Out of the frying Japan, into the fire Fulfill contracts by assassinating bad guys in this eye-catchingly stylish actioner that’s part Hitman, and part classic GTA. In a genius move to dodge audience narrowing adult ratings, murder here doesn’t actually count as murder. Nano Meds, which are handily installed into bodies of the future, revive downed targets after 90 seconds, so really you’re only raising their insurance premiums. That’ll help to keep your conscience squeaky clean after capping someone with a sniper rifle and then running them over on a bike. The multiplayer is rather intriguing too. Here you’ll don all manner of disguises (including just going nude) and blend in with AI crowds before striking.

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Format PS4 Publisher Sega Developer Sega ETA 24 January 2017

yAkuzA 0 Japan, two, three, four

The ’80s has returned to our hearts of late, with Call Of Duty sending us back to when The Hoff was relevant, Stranger Things channelling pure nostalgia, and countless big-screen reboots. But one thing we’ve not seen a huge amount of is 1980s Japan, which just so happens to be the setting for Yakuza 0. You won’t be spending all your time sightseeing, though – the two

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playable protagonists, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima (the game swaps between their intertwining stories every couple of chapters), spend much of their day thumping their way through mobs of assorted goons in gleeful melee brawls. As a prequel to the other Yakuza entries, and having already been well received by critics and gamers in Japan, it should be a great point to jump into a series that’s been sporadically elusive for western players. www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017 Format PC Publisher Amazon Game Studios Developer Double Helix ETA Autumn 2017

BReAkAwAy

MOBAs meet American football in Amazon’s esports bid This team-based fantasy sports game with MOBA elements comes to us from developer Double Helix – the people responsible for the 2013 Killer Instinct reboot. Players scrap and use special abilities to try to deliver a ‘relic’ (read: ball) into their opponent’s goal. It’s self-consciously spectator friendly, which is hardly a surprise given that live-streaming platform Twitch just so happens to be owned by the publisher of Breakaway, Amazon. In addition to an array of fantastical powers, teams can also deploy ‘buildables’ – barriers, speed boosts, and more – to give them an edge over their opponents.

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Format PC Publisher Amazon Game Studios Developer Amazon Game Studios ETA Winter 2017

cRuciBle

12 players land on an alien planet, only one leaves You and 11 others are dropped on a hostile planet, initially as two teams of six, for some competitive survivalshooter action. The twist? Only one player can win, and teams can split and reform as the game goes on, creating Hunger Games-style tension throughout. You’ll play as and customise a range of heroes armed with an array of futuristic gadgets and weaponry – jet packs anyone? Oh, and did we mention there’s an extra 13th player? Rather than play directly, they trigger events that alter the battlefield for the 12 competitors. They also act as a spectator, feeding the action direct to a braying Twitch audience.

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Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher CD Projekt Red Developer CD Projekt ETA Summer 2017

GwenT: The wiTcheR cARd GAme Hit the deck

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While this collectible card game spin-off takes its core concepts from the enormously popular The Witcher 3 minigame of the same name, CD Projekt Red has layered on far more strategy, tactical depth, and variety to keep the action exciting as players go head to head. With new leaders, leader powers, faction perks, card types and abilities, and countless revamps of existing mechanics, it looks ready to challenge Hearthstone’s lofty throne.

Format PC Pub Amazon Game Studios Dev Amazon Game Studios ETA Winter 2017

Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Nightdive Studios Dev Nightdive Studios ETA Spring 2018

Can you survive the American wilderness?

Cyberpunk’s not dead

As Twitch-friendly as its Amazon stablemates, but in a very different way. New World is an open-world sandbox MMO set in colonial America, where players are tasked with surviving in a hostile land haunted by supernatural threats. It’s up to you whether you carve out a life alone in the wilderness, or if you embrace civilization and construct a settlement with your friends. The world will change with the time of day and with the seasons, adding an element of realism to an otherwise otherworldly experience. Amazon promise total freedom to choose your own allegiances – it’s starting to sound a little like popular indie survival games such as Ark: Survival Evolved, but with big money behind it.

It doesn’t matter if you were around in 1994 to play the original or not, you should still be familiar with System Shock. It crops up in conversation often enough, whether it’s being name-checked by a developer inspired by its groundbreaking design, or praised by someone still affected by the immersive world of Citadel Station. According to Nightdive, everything – from enemies and weapons to user interface and game mechanics – is being updated and reimagined for this remake, and it will “capture the spirit of what the original game was trying to convey, and bring it to contemporary gamers”. If it can hit this ambitious objective, then we should be in for something special.

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sysTem shock

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Feature

Format PS4, XO, Wii U, PC, PS Vita Pub 505 Games Dev Inti Creates ETA Winter 2018

On The Cover!

bLoodstained: rituaL of tHe nigHt

Robin’s Pick!

Format XO, PC Publisher Monothetic Developer Monothetic ETA Spring 2017

“I can’t wait to explore this chunky, tactile world – this is a dev that knows how to make action-RPGs.”

beacon

Become the clone ranger This roguelike practically encourages you to die just to see what happens next. The lone survivor of a spaceship crash on an unknown planet, you must try and find a way to escape. However, each time you die, you’re sent back to your pod to start again as a clone. Here’s where things get interesting. You can use DNA collected from enemies to evolve your stats. “By picking and choosing between those you’ve collected on your previous run, you can tailor the gameplay towards certain play styles – such as having a lot more health at the expense of accuracy, or becoming incredibly fast-moving but with less stamina at your disposal,” explains writer Joseph Russell. This gets a DNA+ on the excitement scale.

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Format PS4, PC Publisher Runic Games Developer Runic Games ETA Spring 2017

Hob

Add a string to your elbow You’d think an enormous stone arm would be a hindrance for exploring dangerous worlds, but the unnamed lead in the latest adventure from Torchlight dev Runic Games has clearly seen Hellboy and makes it rather useful. Trotting through a beautiful top-down world, the hooded hero uses the granite limb for taking down enemies with Hulk-style smashes and grappling to new areas. Hob’s colourful world is ultra-easy on the eyes and begging to be explored. Adventure? Check. Puzzles? Check. A beautiful world that evolves and redesigns itself around you? Check. We’re going to go out on a (stone) limb and say we’re in.

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Putting the fun into crowdfunding

Kickstarter successes don’t get much bigger than Castlevania dev Koji Igarashi’s spiritual successor to the legendary series. Raising more than $5.5 million, Ritual Of The Night has more than a smidge of expectation, and the delay into 2018 was almost guaranteed after it smashed its stretch goals. But what will we actually be playing? An orphan called Miriam fights her way through an enormous demonic castle as she battles a curse where magical crystals are gradually fusing with her body. The castle is full of fast travel locations, and Miriam can level up with all kinds of exciting weaponry. So, yeah, no pressure, Igarashi, but we’re keen.

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Format PS4, XO, Wii U, PC Pub Team17 Dev Playtonic Games ETA Spring 2017

Yooka-LaYLee

All about the birds and bees Everything about this platformer, which stars a chameleon and a bat, screams old school Rare – the cast of slightly-off animals giving you missions, the anthropomorphic collectibles, the xylophone-based soundtrack, the British humour (one mission involves shooting water at a cloud to make him wet himself). That’s probably because it’s developed by the original team who brought us 1998’s Banjo-Kazooie, and while the team’s ability to charm hasn’t changed, the technology enabling them to do so has been turned up to 11.

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Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Devolver Digital Dev Sloclap ETA Winter 2017

absoLver Run the duels

Format PC Publisher Tinybuild Developer Dynamic Pixels ETA Summer 2017

HeLLo neigHbor

You really don’t want to pop round next door What would you do if you thought your neighbour was hiding something evil in the basement? Well, we’d probably shut the curtains and curl up in bed, safe under the covers, for we are pathetic cowards. In this game, though, you are brave. So brave, in fact, that you endeavour to break into this suspicious neighbour’s house and investigate. Making it slightly harder is a crafty foe who learns your behaviour and adapts accordingly to scupper any attempts at uninvited snoopery. For instance, you might decide to chuck a tomato at a window to lure

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the mad adjoiner outside, then dart into the house while his back is turned. It might work once, but try doing it a second time and he won’t fall for it. A new strategy will be required. Once inside his abode, the script flips. Now it’s a tense game of cat and mouse as you sneak around, looting tools and trying not to make too much noise. You can stack furniture to block entrances, and use a hammer to wrench nailed-on boards from suspicious doors, but this might attract his wrath. Once he’s spotted you, you’ll see a hand shoot up over the screen and prompt a cut to black as he grabs you from off camera. It’s like if Pixar did Alien: Isolation.

‘Journey with kick-ass martial arts’ is the elevator pitch for this slick open-world RPG. As you explore the ruins of a fallen empire, you’ll seamlessly encounter other players, who you can either ally and trade with, or attack with bone-crunching melee combat (and steal their stuff). Your highly customisable ‘Combat Deck’ allows you to build your own unique fighting style out of four stances and a huge selection of attacks and moves, whether you go barehanded or wield a weapon. And once you’ve perfected your build, you can also head into competitive ranked multiplayer for some intense online sparring.

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THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017 Format PC Publisher Broken Rules Developer Broken Rules ETA Autumn 2017

oLd Man’s JourneY

Putting pensioner to paper Plenty of young men have journeys in videogames – journeys which usually involve shooting guns at people and shouting a lot – but what of the old men? They’re after something a bit more sedate. Like wandering rolling hills at their own pace, and basking in the sunshine. “Cast shackles off your memories. A final chance to seek amends. And find your heart, once lost at sea,” is the mysterious description from devs Broken Rules. While we’re not clear what precisely this entails (searching for the world’s last remaining Werther’s Original, perhaps?), the lovely art style is enough to have us excited.

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Format PS4, PS Vita Publisher Sega Developer Media Vision ETA 19 January 2017

vaLkYria: azure revoLution Feeling blue

This follow-up to superb military strategy-RPG Valkyria Chronicles ditches the grounded, World War II-aping setting in favour of a rather more fantastical world, in which nations clash over a supernatural substance called Ragnite and god-like Valkyrias walk the land. Basically, you’ve still got guns, but now you’ve also got giant JRPG swords too. As before, you’ll manage your team and your headquarters before heading out for combat missions, which feature Fire Emblemstyle permadeath – if a soldier dies, they’re gone forever, and you’ll miss out on their story.

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Format XO, PC Pub Mr Whale’s Game Service Dev Mr Whale’s Game Service ETA Spring 2017

far: Lone saiLs These ships don’t lie Planning a roadtrip in 2017? So are we, across an expansive wasteland that was once a sea, in a game influenced by Journey, LittleBigPlanet, and, um, David Lynch. Far: Lone Sails takes you on a mission with only a hunk of metal for company and, sadly, it doesn’t talk back like Titanfall 2’s BT. What it does do, though, is require constant tinkering with its parts and upgrading with salvage you find across the lonely world. “Various modifications make driving it a delicate matter that requires some attention and maintenance,” says designer Don Schmocker. “Master the vehicle and you’ll stand a good chance of mastering the various environmental dangers and roadblocks.” He isn’t giving away much of what we’ll find on the road, but Schmocker wants the primary relationship here to be between you and your vehicle, so maybe don’t expect to make friends with anything that can’t rust.

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Format PC Pub Mode 7 Dev Mode 7 ETA Spring 2017

Format PC Pub All Yes Good Dev All Yes Good ETA Spring 2017

Strategy that won’t leave you cold

Like peas in a cephalopod

Queue up a chain of squad orders, execute them, then watch events unfold in real time as your opponent does likewise. It’s a game of outwitting and out-predicting: set a sniper near a window, blast holes in walls, or storm in with shotguns. Frozen Synapse 2 does what all good sequels should: ceaselessly expands on the original concept, adding a procedurally generated city overworld where you can enter (and fight in) every single building. There are unique factions to feud or collaborate with, an HQ to develop new units, and more mission variety, including robbing banks and stopping religious preachers disrupting bars.

Imagine if an octopus got suddenly massive, and his tentacles were no longer squishy and rubbery, but the grafted-on bodies of other animals. That’s Plants vs. Zombies creator George Fan’s terrifying thought experiment-turned-game, in which you control the titular Octogeddon as he seeks to destroy the world by growing new limbs, such as a snake that spits poison, a clucking chicken shooting eggy projectiles, an angry crab’s pincer, and a sting-happy bumble bee. Conceived during the Ludum Dare 2012 game jam, Fan has recruited several other PvE alumni to help make his dream an eight-legged reality.

frozen sYnapse 2

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51


Feature On The Cover!

The Gloo Cannon’s sticky projectiles don’t just hold enemies in place – they can also be fired at walls to form makeshift platforms.

Prey Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Bethesda Developer Arkane ETA Winter 2017

Hunter and hunted

Aliens we can handle. Shadow monsters that crawl across the halls of the space station we’re investigating? Our heart rate rises a little, but we’re coping. But those extraterrestrial terrors with added invisibility? We’re out. Our behindclosed-doors hands-on reveals more about the Typhon, the enigmatic villains that are infesting Talos 1. Guess what? They’re one creepy bunch. There’s the Phantom, a quick and powerful enemy who’s happy to beat you into submission. Keep an eye open for the Mimic, as they can emulate ordinary items in the scenery. If that

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coffee cup moves, shoot it. And then there’s the invisible Poltergeist, who can lift items (and you) into the air. Not the friendliest bunch. Fortunately, you’ll be able to harness and use the Typhon’s powers against them. Scanning the creatures with a psychoscope device unlocks their abilities for human protagonist Morgan, giving you plenty of power over how to approach the game’s challenges. Intelligent flexibility in these powers quickly becomes apparent, and manipulating your surroundings with them is unexpectedly gratifying. Prey looks set to deliver an engrossing world full of strategic possibilities and foreboding tension. Whisper it: It’s the Bioshock sequel we’ve been waiting for. www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


THE 100 GREATEST GAMES OF 2017

Corridor overrun by Typhon? Airlocks can be used to head outside into space, providing alternative routes around the space station.

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IndieMaster The Best Of The Indie Scene!

It’s all about co-op, but if you want to play single-player, an AI is more than happy to be your substitute best friend.

Who is...

Format PS4, PC Developer Foam Sword ETA April 2017 Web http://bit.ly/gmknightsandbikes

#1 KnIghts and BIKes Mind the cycle-path in this glorious ’80s adventure

This two-man team has an intimidating CV. Before going indie, Moo Yu was lead programmer on Ratchet & Clank and LittleBigPlanet. Rex Crowle also worked at Media Molecule as creative lead on both Tearaway and Tearaway Unfolded, and as an artist on Sackboy’s make-and-do adventures.

I

f Stranger Things has reminded us of anything, it’s that kids on bikes are the true heroes. The ones who just saddle up, work out the clues, get stuff done, and beat the bad guys. Perhaps we didn’t have our very own summer that was identical to The Goonies – the ’80s have a lot to answer for – but we all have a memory of how it felt to

The fictional island of Penfurzy is inspired by the game’s Cornish-born artist Rex Crowle’s childhood and has that empty British tourist town feel.

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wake up with those days off stretching ahead and a bike ready to take you on all kinds of adventures. Knights and Bikes wants you to remember exactly that feeling of true possibility. Forget those credit card bills for now. This co-op and single-player action rPG lets you play as brave pedallers nessa and Demelza, who are on a quest to save their home of Penfurzy, a fictional island off the Cornish coast, from financial ruin. Set firmly in the ’80s, Knights and Bikes is all about hurtling across a beautiful hand-drawn world and remembering exactly what it was like to be a child who knew they could fix everything. The devs have drawn from their own experiences, added Earthbound and the Secret Of Mana influences, and crafted an adventure where saving the grown-ups is top of the list. But what’s so attractive

about that time for the team? “For me, the most important aspect is definitely imagination,” confirms developer Moo yu. “I spent so much of my childhood immersed in other worlds, whether they were books, videogames, or just something I conjured up in my backyard. The thing that sticks out is that it wasn’t just make believe to me back then, it was my reality. I think there’s a universality to the power of imagination. When you’re a kid, it’s an important way to explore the world and learn about yourself, your abilities, and your values. But it’s something I’ve always held onto for countless things, from expressing my creativity or escapism when I’m struggling to face the real world.”

Let it BMX

Everything about this world is seen through a child’s eyes. as Demelza and nessa hurtle around on their bikes,

“it’s all about remembering exactly what it was like to be a child out to fix everything” www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


the 60 second Pitch

It’s not just about bombing around and exploring Penfurzy on two wheels. There’s plenty of opportunities for on-foot action too. After all, stomping about in puddles and throwing frisbees at possessed creatures is tricky from the back of a bike.

Oh, and did we mention the goose? The majestically named Captain Honkers belongs to Demelza and is useful for pecking unwanted spirit enemies. Handy.

during nessa and Demelza’s adventure. stamina is measured by an asthma Both have special moves, such as Frisbee inhaler, toys are there to be played with, Lob and Puddle Splash, but that’s just the enemies to be hit with frisbees, and beginning of their skills, and together the treasure to be found. Like a red Bull and pair are stronger. Demelza has a stomp sherbet high, everything here is ability that’s better with puddles around constantly moving, sparkling, and and nessa can craft water balloons, buzzing with energy. as the pair quest to which makes co-op teamwork even save the island, they build abilities and more fun. “I really upgrade their bikes, like thinking about but essentially this is ways the girls can all about, dare we work together with say it, having fun. their abilities,” says “One of the features yu. “So the water we recently added Want joyous adventure and balloon was our to the game is the charm from the team’s first experiment idea of challenges,” pre-indie days? Tearaway with that, where explains yu. “It’s that Unfolded is on PS4. each girl has an little thing you do as http://bit.ly/gmtearu ability that is strong a kid of making up

Try this!

silly mini-challenges as you go along, whether it’s walking on the pavement without stepping on any cracks or trying to race to the flagpole just because it feels right. We’ve constantly had to go back over each feature and think of our childhoods and ask ‘how would a kid do this?’” It’s not surprising that teamwork really does help to make the dream work

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on it’s own, but together becomes extremely powerful. I’m always looking for more ways to express the relationship between the two girls with mechanics.”

Vicious cycle

and it’s not all sweetness and light. The changing relationship between the characters is key to the story. There

might be a goose and a severed head involved, but this is still a story about people. “nessa and Demelza immediately hit it off with their proactive approaches to taking on the world,” teases yu. “But they are both very strong willed individuals with their own goals, abilities, and struggles. Throughout the game, you’ll get to dig into each of their minds, but also see how things play out between them.” Mirroring the relationship in the game, while you’re free to take on Knights and Bikes alone, the team really wants you to play together. “When I was a kid, every game seemed like it had local multiplayer in one way or another, but that seemed less common as I got older,” yu explains. “Working on LittleBigPlanet reminded me what it was like to play games with friends and family, and what a joy it is to share gaming with others.” It’s this love that shines through in every hand-drawn detail of Knights and Bikes. Everything has been crafted for sheer fun, and we haven’t seen the half of it. Quests and battle dungeons await in the full game and the story is begging to be explored. We’re as excited as kids on Christmas Eve about this one. n

Going back to the ’80s with Moo yu

Knights And Bikes is a hand-painted action adventure where you explore a late-’80s British island as a couple of adventurous kids. Players will jump on their bikes as Nessa and Demelza to explore the island and its medieval history, leading them to uncover treasure, mystery, and trouble. They’ll pedal into danger and face threats head on with frisbees, water balloons, puddle stomping, and whatever other kid-like schemes they can improvise. When many of the island’s inhabitants go inexplicably missing, the girls must save them one-by-one and protect the island from a mysterious threat. With each islander they rescue, they are rewarded with new abilities, allowing them to fight bigger baddies and travel further through the island. As they face up to the adult world, it’s their ingenuity, friendship, and wide-eyed wonder that guides the adventure. Recruit a party of creatures from all walks of life, enlist and inspire deflated islanders, and embark on an adventure to find the hero the island so desperately needs.


indieMaster The Best Of The Indie Scene!

Format XO, PC Developer Super Mega Team ETA Summer 2017 Web http://bit.ly/gmriseandshine

#2 Rise & shine Bullet hell of a morning

L

et’s face it, when it comes to visual style, we’ve all got a weakness for indie game art that looks like our golden memories of Saturday morning cartoons, but Rise & Shine takes animated nostalgia to another level. From ex-Worms and Plants vs Zombies devs, this side-scrolling bullet hell puzzler isn’t just eye punchingly gorgeous, its titular characters, Rise, and his gun, Shine, are on a quest to save the world of videogames from disaster. Yep, pretty and self-referential. First off. How on earth does it look this good? Hand-drawn illustrations. “It’s been a lot of work. Usually, when making a side-scrolling game, you do lots of tiling textures for the floor, different elements like trees, rocks, houses, etc, and place them around to build your level,” explains Enrique Corts, art director and creative director at Super Mega Team. “On our game, we don’t use any repeating or tiling elements, so each layer of the parallax scrolling is a giant, hand-drawn illustration. That means that every step you take in the game is different, and that rock or that piece of debris you see on the floor you won’t be seeing it anywhere else. Some of those background illustrations are more than three metres wide and we use around 12 of those for each level.”

Gunhappy marriage

Rise & Shine is a mash-up of multiple genres and we won’t just be holding down the fire button to progress. “We love games like Another World, Limbo, or Inside. They are incredible, compact, super-polished experiences where every step you take you encounter a totally different kind of challenge

There are no roguelike elements. Die and you’ll respawn close by. “It’s about learning from your mistakes,” says Corts.

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Small… But Perfectly Formed

Best on-rails indies for avid trainspotters

#1 For players who crave an ultra-masochistic challenge, there’s an Iron Man mode where you have to finish the game without dying.

telling a little more about the world you are in,” Corts says. “That’s how we approached Rise & Shine’s design. Usually, on run-and-gun games you simply advance to the right, shooting everything that moves… This is not the case with our game. Yes, you run, and yes, you gun sometimes (we put a lot of care on the shooting feeling), but you encounter lots of different challenges and situations in your way that you’ll need to solve.” While Shine can behave like a regular gun, he can also use various unusual types of bullets, one of which you can remote control to solve puzzles. Plus, the team really wants to challenge you in new ways. “The game is not an easy trip, I can tell you that,” teases Corts. “It’s tricky, and you’ll sweat your way through, that’s for sure. But we also want people to enjoy the whole experience and not leave the game frustrated after a couple of hours. And we were a bit sadistic making some different death animations. My favourite is one that you’ll probably see a lot when playing the game, unfortunately. You get shot by the enemy’s electric bullets and Rise gets disintegrated to ashes with his skull bouncing around.” We’re glad to say this is heading our way next year. n

Mini MetRo

Prepare to have new respect for the London Underground with this zen-like yet stressful sim on mobile and PC. Beautifully simple in concept and design, you stretch tracks across the city to keep passengers flowing freely. It’s absurdly addictive and the procedural score from Disasterpiece is a real bonus.

#2

the Final station

#3

Pocket tRains

#4

tRain Valley

#5

Bounty tRain

As if it wasn’t already hard enough to survive the zombie apocalypse, try bringing your own locomotive into the mix. It’s a perfect blend of pixelated survival and simulation as you pick up uninfected passengers, keep your train in working order, and hurtle across the world. Choo choo choose this.

If Nimblebit’s Tiny Tower was an addiction for you, it’s probably better if you don’t hand over your ticket for this 8-bit free option on mobile. Building a rail empire has never been quite this easy, adorable, or absurdly tempting when it comes to just one more microtransaction. Perfect for the daily commute.

If you want your very own version of a toy train set, this beautiful puzzler lets you control signals and sidings, and plan a network across the country in multiple time periods around the world. Watch where you build that track though. Start decimating villages and no one likes it much. HS2 anyone?

You’ve got a lot more to deal with in the Wild West during the 19th century than a few angry commuters who didn’t get their Pret latte. This Early Access sim lets you take to the rails of North America with a full crew and real historical events to encounter as you trade your way across the developing continent. n

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w

Format PS4, PC Dev Videocult ETA Spring 2017 Web http://bit.ly/gmrainworld

#3 Rain WoRlD

Cloudy with a chance of pain

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ou’ve heard of Burmese, Maine Coon, and even Munchkin (aww, those ’ickle legs) but the hero of this 16-bit side scroller might just surprise you. You’re a slugcat and that means exploring an apocalyptic world as a furry and slightly gloopy protagonist. No, don’t run away! He’s still cute and he needs you to help him find his family in a hideous abandoned industrial environment where rain that will crush your bones keeps animals in hiding. See? Now you’re interested. It might look like a simple side-scrolling platformer, but Rain World is hiding an open-world narrative that lets you explore in any direction you like. More than 1000 procedurally generated rooms appear with every playthrough, and this is a truly deadly environment. Incredibly, every enemy exists here with its own autonomy. While the majority of the animals in this rain soaked nightmare understandably

want to kill you, it’s only because they’re hungry and want to survive. The bizarre creatures across the world – hello, giant skeleton bird – will also remember your actions. Act violently towards a peaceful animal and not only will he remember but his entire tribe won’t let you forget when you find a whole room of them. So remember to mind your manners.

Water shock

And it won’t just be finished in one go. There are 12 different main narrative endings available dependent on how you stay alive. Shelter is key and an umbrella in this wet world doesn’t seem to be an option. For the unique movement of the slugcat – think a somehow nimble obese kitty – designer joar jakobsson has mixed code with traditional animation to create a fascinating blend of physics. Add in four player competitive gameplay with deathmatches, endurance, and custom challenges, and Rain World is an intriguing offering that has us wondering if slugcats would make good pets. We’d like it meow please. n

The game was first revealed in 2012, when it was called Maze Runner. It was funded on Kickstarter in 2014, but the tiny team of two is finally almost finished.

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Format PC Developer Q-Games ETA Spring 2017 Web http://bit.ly/gmdeadhungry

#4 DeaD hungRy Want dies with that?

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omehow blanking out those teenage years you spent slaving over a molten hot deep fat fryer for pittance, putting on a VR headset automatically makes working behind a fast food counter a ridiculous amount of fun – see Job Simulator for further proof. As with any game from the last 20 years, zombies officially make things at least 54% better and Pixeljunk developer Q-Games know it. Thus Dead Hungry, where you have to assemble and serve burgers, fries, and pizzas to the hungry undead before they decide to eat you, a humble food truck worker, is absurdly stupid and brilliantly chaotic. It might not be the most innovative use of VR

controllers but Oculus Touch is perfectly suited to stacking the constituent burger ingredients for the ravenous hordes who will be cured of their infected cadaverousness by your perfect cooking.

Lobe blow

And while the brain-hungry really like their red meat, you can mix fire extinguishers or other items you find lying around into the recipe too to keep them away from your precious prefrontal cortex. However, if you fail to meet minimum flavour requirements, it’s not going to be pretty. There’s no news as to whether this is coming to PS VR, but Shuhei Yoshida playing it for himself at an event earlier this year and Q-Games’ strong relationship with Sony should make it, well, a no brainer. n

“fail to meet the minimum flavour requirements and it’s not going to be pretty”

We only saw burger cooking in action, but the full game adds pizzas and soda pouring into the fray to crank up the oven heat even more.

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Reviews

66 Steep We hurtle down a mountain to see if this open-world extreme sports sim is gnarly enough.

The Final Verdict!

how we ScoRe

0-39 Awful Avoid it as you would a bullet with your name on. 40-59 Poor Major issues here that won’t be solved with a hug. 60-69 Decent A mixed bag filled with sweets and sharp stones. 70 -79 Good Some flaws, but still a very enjoyable experience. 80-89 Excellent Buy it, love it, thank us when you’re done. 90-100 Outstanding A rare and essential piece of brilliance.

The small print: We rate games in comparison to what else is available on the same system, in the same genre, and for the same format at the time of release. So this year’s FIFa might score less than a FIFa from three years ago, but still be a better game. Because time, and our expectations, move on. Hey, you’re smart, you get it…

not awarded based simply on score, but rather given to games that possess a special blend of qualities. For instant classics that you won’t regret owning.

The LaST GuaRdian

Everybody’s heard about the bird… and after a decade of waiting it’s ready to leave the nest

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t’s not a new thing for a videogame to create a bond between player and animal. Whether it’s Epona in The Legend Of Zelda, Dogmeat in Fallout 4, or Pokémon Yellow’s ever-present Pikachu, forging a fleeting yet meaningful connection with a

after being announced in 2007, it’s fair to say this is a game that has had it’s share of problems during development. Originally a PS3 game, Fumito ueda’s direction and Sony’s devotion to the project has finally brought the fantasy adventure to life on PS4 and made a game that has been kicking around for what seems like forever, actually feel fairly fresh, with a graphical sheen that, while it doesn’t compete with the very best the console has to offer, certainly looks better than it did when we first saw it nearly a decade ago. In so many ways, The Last Guardian is something of a throwback. There’s no multiplayer, the menus are pretty sparse, and very few trophies pop up during play (most appear after the credits). no, this is

digitised animal can help elevate a game from simply being good, to becoming one you never forget. Like Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus before it, Sony’s latest exclusive can stand proudly as one that can make you feel so many strong emotions: fear, joy, elation, sadness. This is a moving game, but was it worth the eternal wait?

purely a story driven single-player, third-person action adventure experience. and without the trappings of a modern videogame or the machinations of a publisher more concerned with pushing microtransactions or keeping players grinding away months after release, it feels all the more focused.

Bird watch

you play a young boy who meets Trico, a combination of a bird and a cat (and a dog, probably – it’s quite hard to tell) who is injured, trapped, and as lost as you are. The story feels very much like the traditional fable

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of a lion with a thorn in its foot, only spread out over around nine hours, with a friendship that grows and matures. Most of the time you’ll be clambering up scenery, solving rudimentary puzzles, and riding Trico, but there are plenty of story beats despite the lack of dialogue. In fact, it’s a quiet game all round, with only the hero’s commands to Trico, his frequent roaring, skittering feet, and general animal noises peppering the atmosphere. This world is allowed to breath, and it feels strangely alive as a result. The soundtrack is sweeping, grandiose, and tender when required, but it’s the design of Trico himself that most impresses. Whether he’s shaking water off his feathery body like a dog, sitting and preening himself like a bird, or even pouncing around like a cat after a fight, Trico’s appearance and audio design are an absolute triumph. a good thing too,

What kind of animal is Trico, actually? We had discussions that, at one point, had him part bird, part cat, part chicken, part dog. Maybe he’s just a griffin.

Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Sony ETA Out now Players 1

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68 Final Fantasy XV

72 dead Rising 4 Does the XV stand for Xceptional Vibes, or Xcruciatingly Vapid? The final verdict awaits…

76 Planet coaster It’s back to Willamette we go as Frank West returns for some seasonally silly zombie-bashing.

For authenticity, form an orderly queue and wait in line for at least 45 minutes before reading this review.

The Last Guardian is a pretty game despite the extensive development time. Whether you’re inside or out, it’s always pleasant to look at.

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Review

The tattooed hero may be lacking a name, but thanks to some wonderfully realised animation he certainly isn’t lacking in personality.

The Final Verdict!

because elsewhere, he’s a serious pain in the backside. The problem with being a game that started development nearly ten years ago, is that there are technical hangovers. Horrendous, inexcusable hangovers that drive you to madness. The camera seems the best place to start, because it’s the second most annoying thing in the entire game. The Last Guardian is a third-person game that requires you to make jumps over chasms that, if failed, cause you to die – you thus need to be able to control the camera well. Sadly, for the entire run-time, it’s a real struggle to tame. In tight indoor spots (of which there are many), a few times we completely lose sight of our character, and our viewpoint seems to get lost inside a wall, causing a completely black screen for a frustrating few seconds. The reason for this could be because of the lengthy development time, but the root of the problems perhaps lie deeper,

and it’s certainly related to the biggest issue with the whole game: Trico. The juxtaposition of the huge, ever-present animal with the tiny child, on huge landscapes, leads to an occasionally confused direction at times. The camera will zoom in far too closely at inopportune moments, then suddenly shift to the most inconvenient place. Mid-climb, you’ll suddenly completely lose sight of what you’re doing, forcing you to adjust the camera before sorting yourself out. Worse still, occasionally it feels as though there’s an element of over-eager showmanship on display, with the camera exercising a wandering mind of its own and panning to Trico at the expense of the player character.

Cat call

Look, we know he’s adorable, with his whiskery face, oversized ears, and weepy eyes. nobody is disputing Trico’s lovable credentials. But there’s no escaping the

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fact that he can also be excruciatingly annoying at times. The first third of the story is about the two unlikely companions forming a tentative alliance as they work together to achieve a shared objective: escaping to freedom. after a while, though, you gain the ability to command Trico by holding r1 and pressing a corresponding face button to get him to do something. at least, that’s the idea. In practice, it’s something of a different story – Trico never seems to follow commands with any kind of obedient regularity. Of course it would seem unfair to suggest a wild beast should not act like a wild beast. Trico is untamed, he’s often aggressive, and frequently deadly. But this is a game. you are given the ability to command him, and he just doesn’t do it. Sometimes he’ll do things after one prompt, sometimes three or four attempts, or maybe he’ll just completely ignore you for ages, then do it anyway. There’s a distinct lack of feedback on offer to explain why this is. This isn’t, by itself, a problem, but The Last Guardian never gives you enough of an idea that what you’re attempting to do is actually right. Large parts of the game require you to cling to your friend as he

PeT name

How the big bird-cat-dog came to be called Trico

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e’re all in favour of made-up names, but it feels like – in such a deep, meaningful game – there must be more to it. And there is! Trico is so named because the Japanese word ‘Toriko’ means ‘prisoner’. Toriko is actually a combination of the words for bird and cat (tori and neko, respectively). Furthermore, during the early stages of the project, internet sleuths deduced the game was codenamed Project Trico, which combines ‘Tri’ and ‘Ico’, or to put it another way ‘Three, Ico’ – meaning the third game from the Japanese Sony Studio, also known asTeam Ico. The more you know, right?

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the last guarDian

loves… The expressive Trico is an incredible achievement. A beautiful story makes for a journey worth experiencing.

haTes… The wild and unruly camera is, at times, absolutely awful. Trico’s refusal to follow orders is incredibly frustrating.

better than… In wide open spaces, where the camera problems are minimal, the game shines and is thoroughly enjoyable.

cReaTinG The emoTion Give it a nest already!

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aintaining a relationship between a fictional boy and a made up creature is no easy task, but Sony Japan Studio achieves it by having Trico mirror the ways our real world pets might behave. If you’ve ever formed a strong bond with a dog, cat, hamster, or goldfish (hey, it can happen), it’s highly likely you’ll share a similarly special attachment to Trico. It goes a long way to have a creature that mimics our own favourite animal friends. The detail and design of Trico’s eyes and face in particular are top notch, and his expressions further nurture those fuzzy feelings for the feathered brute. When you’re injured, he looks concerned. When it’s Trico that’s wounded, he might lay down, taking deep, ragged breaths. In a fight, you can see his normally relaxed personality swapped for an anxious mess. Despite his size, Trico is vulnerable – like you – and the shared connection only strengthens throughout the course of the adventure. You obtain a mirror shield during the early stages which can be used for destructive purposes.

bounces from pillar to ledge (places you couldn’t otherwise reach, being the small boy that you are). as fantastic as this mode of transport sounds, sitting and waiting for Trico to do things isn’t fun, nor is being absolutely sure you’re pointing him in the right direction, only for him to do nothing. In a game about exploration and discovery, it’s hard to swallow. Perhaps we’ve grown too used to games spoonfeeding us information, there are moments here that leave us begging to just be told what to do. But there’s clearly been so much love and time invested in making this a special game. Our hero limps if harmed, he whispers to Trico instead of shouting if in a dangerous environment, and it’s absurd how much emotion the two characters are able to convey. But the combo of gameplay confusion and the bad camera can make for some extremely frustrating moments. When it hits its stride, you lose yourself in it – which makes it all the more heart-breaking when it stumbles. This is Team Ico very much sticking to its established mould, and its third game may as well be set in the same universe as its critically acclaimed and affectionately regarded predecessors, such is the familiarity of its look and feel.

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That does mean it has that slightly over-animated control that can cause you to overrun objects that need to be picked up or interacted with – though with the benefit of really giving your character a sense of life. Whether you’re clambering across broken beams as the sun breaks through dusky clouds, or squeezing through gaps in cavernous rocks deep underground, this is a world that begs to be both explored and quietly contemplated much as those of Shadow Of The Colossus or Ico’s did.

Dog fight

at the risk of giving too much away, there is some form of combat present, but the actual action is more akin to puzzle solving, with Trico doing the actual dirty work. (It’s hardly surprising that of the two characters, it’s the giant beast which is the more useful in a scrap.) In an interesting twist, once your pal has gone feral on enemies, you have to take some time to soothe him before progressing. This amounts to climbing him and pressing the Circle button to pet him. Eventually he will calm down, and you can gently pull any protruding arrows out of his body, and continue on your merry way.

your quadruped companion also has eyes that change colour to reflect his mood – purple represents an aggressive state, and yellow indicates hunger (Trico is a big lad with an appetite to match, and you’ll have to find and feed him lovely tasty barrels to keep him satisfied). It all combines to make a game bursting with character, and a story that is simultaneously satisfying and emotionally moving. The Last Guardian is a hugely mixed bag. On one hand, it’s fantastic that there’s a developer so staunchly dedicated to making games that veer towards the artistic while still retaining mechanics we know and enjoy. On the other hand, this is a game full of design decisions that feel stuck in the past, made obsolete years ago. One thing’s for sure, for every frustration we felt while playing, there was an equally exceptional area that we loved exploring, and when all’s said and done, once the final scenes played out and the credits had finished, it felt like a journey that was absolutely worth taking. So, no, perhaps it wasn’t worth the ten year wait, but it’s a decent game, and given all it went through to even exist, that’s genuinely a minor miracle. n

Chinese Democracy by Guns N’ Roses In development for five years longer than Team Ico’s effort, and yet nowhere near as resonant.

worse than…

Shadow Of The Colossus Despite sharing much of the same DNA, The Last Guardian just can’t hold a candle to the epic boss fights which made this a PS2 masterpiece.

i

need To know Our review copy of the game included a note from director Fumito Ueda, in which he says “we ran into a few twists and turns along the way, and the title took longer than anyone expected”.

JudgemenT %

65

an experience worth having, but go in expecting a masterpiece and you’ll be disappointed. Adam Cook

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Review

loves…

The Final Verdict!

Banking at the last moment to avoid a crash is a thrill. Killing two birds with one screech is seriously satisfying.

hates… Some three-star targets are a little too demanding. Online multiplayer could use some refinement.

Better than… Complete a district and you can build a nest there – the perfect spot to rest your wings and take in the view.

Windlands

This VR platformer is certainly not for delicate constitutions – Eagle Flight offers similarly thrilling locomotion without making you heave.

Worse than… Format PS4 (reviewed), PC Publisher Ubisoft Developer Ubisoft Montreal ETA Out now Players 1-6

EaglE Flight

Why ubi’s Vr debut is pretty flocking great

Why is there no poop button? Seriously, what’s the point of all these landmarks if we can’t crap all over them?

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s we find ourselves looking down on a future Paris reclaimed by nature, we feel a conspicuous absence. No, not the lack of humans, but the fact we can swoop down from above the trees, zip through narrow alleys and dart through holes in crumbling buildings, and not feel even a little bit sick. Ubisoft Montreal has somehow captured the exhilarating sensation of flight without making your stomach spin like a washing machine – and it’s central to a VR experience that’s equal parts relaxing and intensely challenging. a free flight mode is the peaceful part. Here you can simply enjoy the sights, with nothing more than a beak and a fringe of feathers to spoil the view. It’s not the most detailed rendering of the French capital ubisoft has ever brought us, but it’s a thrill to soar over the Basilica and then plunge at speed towards the

ground, perhaps snatching a fish as it leaps from the water. The controls could hardly be more instinctive: you fly in the direction in which you’re looking, tilting your neck for sharper turns and squeezing the right and left triggers to accelerate and brake respectively. Before long, you’ll find you rarely need the latter.

Mid-flight in Paris

you’ll have to master the art of airborne manoeuvring to succeed in story mode, which takes the form of a series of challenges spread across five districts. you’ll be asked to explore the vicinity by racing through a set of rings, gaining a speed boost if you pass through the very centre. Elsewhere, you’ll find yourself whizzing through overgrown metro tunnels, using jet streams to pick up the pace as you race against the clock. The three-star par times are extremely exacting, though you’ll only need one to progress. unsurprisingly, there are collectibles – this is a ubisoft game, after all – but at least floating feathers make more thematic sense this time around.

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For the most part, your biggest danger is crashing headlong into a stone wall. But the threat level rises as you engage in a range of aerial dogfights with vultures, bats, and fast-moving falcons. as luck would have it, you’re blessed with a screech attack that can disintegrate opponents on contact, though you’ll need to lead your shots as projectiles don’t exactly move at bullet speed. These quests are useful training for a fun but scrappy multiplayer component, a three-on-three capture the flag mode where the flag is a dead rabbit and you can be killed within a few seconds of respawning. With no voice chat, effective teamwork is difficult, and it highlights a potential sticking point with all multiplayer Vr games – when the world completely surrounds you and you can’t turn on a sixpence, you essentially need eyes in the back of your head. an alarm that sounds when you’re about to be hit from who knows where isn’t quite enough to compensate. Still, between those lazy glides through Parisian skies and the pulse-quickening races through dangerous environments, Eagle Flight establishes itself as one of the most absorbing Vr experiences to date. Though it falters the more it relies on conventional ideas, when it embraces the simple joy of flight, it positively soars. n

Rez Infinite

Area X offers a similar sensation of flying through a 3D environment, with the added bonus of gorgeous neon looks and a much better soundtrack.

online Restricting multiplayer to a single mode means you’ll find a lobby fairly quickly. We’ve not often seen a full complement of players, but in truth, two-on-two feels like the sweet spot.

Judgement %

82

Some conservative design can’t spoil a thrilling experience that’s close to a must for early Vr adopters. Chris Schilling

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Super mario maker for nintendo 3dS Disappointingly, the cute vocal effects when placing objects and enemies are absent from the 3DS version.

loves… Detailed, sporadically amusing lessons are genuinely helpful. Medal challenges add replay value to the 100 new stages.

hates… No Mystery Mushrooms? Wait, what? Less capable players may struggle to unlock elements.

Better than…

LittleBigPlanet PS Vita

Another portable creative toolkit for a company mascot, but Sony’s game has much to learn from Nintendo where accessibility is concerned. Format 3DS Publisher Nintendo Developer Nintendo EAD ETA Out now Players 1

Super Mario Maker for NiNteNdo 3dS What did Chris say after the third automatic course in a row? [This answer was deemed unsuitable for a family publication – Ed]

nintendo’s back to teach you a lesson – but no sharing!

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ario’s co-creator Takashi Tezuka paid the ultimate compliment to the Super Mario Maker community by claiming that Nintendo’s own designers had been inspired by their creativity, while acknowledging there was room for improvement. To that end, this 3DS port aims to be a better teacher, but it comes at a cost – you can’t share courses online anymore. That sounds like an unfair trade-off. But anyone familiar with the Wii u game knows the quality of user-created levels leaned more towards chaff than wheat – and the much larger 3DS userbase would likely have tipped the scales even further. Here, your potential audience is massively reduced, but the standard of designs should markedly increase. That’s mostly thanks to a detailed tutorial that takes the time to ensure you’ve truly understood the secrets of Mario making. Taking a step up from the

original’s e-manual, expert designer yamamura (who also happens to be a pigeon) and assistant Mashiko cover all you could possibly wish to know. at times patronisingly comprehensive, painstakingly talking you through every step, it ensures both core fundamentals and less-obvious design flourishes are drilled home. you learn how to establish concepts, develop them and twist them to keep players surprised, and while it’s too long-winded to endure in one go, by the end you have the knowhow to dazzle the players and lucky StreetPassers your levels will reach. Or you could switch on your Wii u and apply what you’ve learned to capture a broader audience.

Stage school

In that sense, you could consider it the most expensive tutorial ever made. But there’s more. The Super Mario Challenge presents 100 courses built by nintendo’s designers that are a valuable part of the curriculum. Each has two medal objectives (reach the goal while carrying a shell, defeat all Goombas, etc) that

“you learn hoW to estaBlish concepts, develop them, and tWist them to surprise players” www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

show how to gain more mileage from simple ideas rather than resorting to stuffing your level with giant enemies and yawning chasms. If you really want to see what makes these courses tick, however, you’ll need the skills to match your creative yen, as stages are locked for editing ‘til you’ve earned both medals. It’s a revealing choice that says much for the audience nintendo is hoping to woo, with an approach to user-generated content that favours prudent curation over freedom of expression in all its rawness. It says much, too, that the Wii u content available is limited to a list of recommended courses, with the only filter narrowing stages down by difficulty. next to a tonne of nintendo-made stages and the cream of the home console crop, the 100 Mario Challenge feels like a waste of everyone’s time, with the quality needle oscillating madly between ‘adequate’ and ‘barely playable’. Superior in some respects and palpably inferior in others, Super Mario Maker For nintendo 3DS is hard to recommend without serious caveats, and yet it’s also too good to be dismissed. 18+ worlds’ worth of new Mario stages will be sufficient for some, while would-be Miyamotos may find enough value in the lessons alone. But for a game built on the mantra of ‘play, create, share’, two out of three ain’t ideal. n

Worse than…

Super Mario Maker

This handheld version has a better tutorial, but it lacks some of the key features of the original Wii U version. It feels like a companion piece.

online It takes 6-7 seconds to bring up 30 recommended courses, though criteria are unclear. One early pick called ‘Worst Level Ever’ didn’t inspire confidence in the selection algorithm.

Judgement %

79

a game design masterclass, but you’ll need the Wii u version to make the most of its teachings. Chris Schilling

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review

Extreme sports games have been quiet this generation, so it’s great to see Steep confidently carve it up.

The Final Verdict!

Format PS4 (reviewed), XO, PC Publisher Ubisoft Developer Ubisoft Annecy ETA Out now Players 1-4

Steep

Ubi’s Alps are the piste de résistance of a sporty sandbox

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ot damn this is some good videogame snow. Clearly Ubisoft Annecy has made a blood pact with Jack Frost, because this extreme sports open world is blessed with absurdly sexy frozen H2-whoa. Wade through the white stuff and it sloshes satisfyingly under riders’ heavily padded feet. Listen to it crunch in bitterly cold fashion. Watch it crumple whenever you bugger up a landing; your adrenaline-seeking boarder crashing into pristine ice banks like they were gigantic frozen meringues. Judged purely on its snow, Steep gets an easy passing grade. Step back a little from the ludicrously lofty precipice of this open-world Alps effort, and you find a surprisingly deft sandbox, especially when you consider

it’s a new IP. Are there more than a few frosty rough edges? Sure. But while Steep never quite matches the personable charms and dizzying excess of EA’s beloved SSX, it’s a highly respectable first attempt at resurrecting a dormant genre.

Dropping off

Ubisoft has the template for sandbox design down pat, so it’s no surprise to see Steep take cues from Far Cry and Watch Dogs. You uncover new areas by spotting them through binoculars, after which you can fast travel to these Drop Zones at the snap of a frost-bitten finger. There’s an aircraft hangar’s worth of winter gear to splurge on – from stylish wingsuits to helmets that rock gyrating rubber chickens. All while an overflowing XP system ensures every trick, race, and wildly reckless piece of paragliding constantly feeds your reputation rank. The niftiest present Steep brings to the hypothermia-courting party is the Sports

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Wheel. With a press of R1 – RB on Xbox One – your rider can instantly switch between the game’s four disciplines with a flick of the right stick. This isn’t just a snowboarding title, Steep also packs in more than serviceable takes on paragliding, skiing, and wingsuit dives. Those last two are particularly well done. Steep’s sturdy-but-supple physics model lends skiing a reassuringly solid yet pleasingly fluid feel. Wingsuit pursuits are frequently brilliant, too – hurtling down the side of frigid ravines at breakneck speeds like a suicidal flying squirrel is a persistently exhilirating hoot. Exquisite animations tie each discipline together. Whether carving up slopes on a snowboard or trying to parachute through the unpredictable gusts that swirl around the mountains, every twist, ollie, and grab is glorious. Hell, even the walking animation looks cool. Attempt to scale the game’s most daunting peaks and your rider breaks out a scurrying, Rocky IV-style climbing animation worthy of screaming ‘DRAGO!’ at the top of your lungs for. When you’re not drooling over 1080 double corks, you mostly chase medals in races and trick events. Thanks to Steep’s instantaneous restarts, shredding

Blazing a trail

Carve your own legend with custom races

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teep’s TRAIL system – hooray for obnoxious capitalisation! – is one of the most readily apparent features scrawled over this sandbox canvas. As you explore the Alps you’re free to create custom routes for other players to follow. Say you manage to descend from the very peak of the murderous Matterhorn in one smooth, bail-free run. Once you’ve reached the base you can activate a custom trail at the press of a button, challenging any daredevil passersby to try and replicate your run, or even beat your time. It’s a neat system, though it’s far better shared with friends than online randomers.

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Steep

loves… The snowbound sandbox often looks amazingly pretty. Whether snowboarding or skiing, controls are fantastic.

haTes… Exploration feels hollow, while the Alps are a little empty.

trick or twiSt

Getting to grips with Steep’s freestyle grabs There’s a furry ensemble in Steep that rocks a distinct Modern Warfare ‘All Ghillied Up’ vibe. Swanky.

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he trick system can be super rewarding when you learn to tame your board and skis. Pity, then, it’s not always as reliable as it should be. An aggressive safety system stabilises your ollies, kiboshing any plans to really cut loose with jumps. Turn this off in the options menu and you’re granted much more agency over the height and pitch of take-offs. Once you’re properly lined up with a ramp or ridge, build up your jump for a second or so, then release at the highest point. After you’re airborne you can rotate the left stick to hit manoeuvres, then tweak these with grabs by holding the shoulder buttons. Just make sure you don’t get greedy going for an extra fakie or nosegrab – if you don’t give yourself enough time to steady your rider before hitting the slope, limb-smashing landings await. It’s also worth performing smaller moves in between big ramps, as this keeps your combo meter ticking over. Even gentle 180 spins can help maintain your chain, ensuring that score creeps ever upwards as you prepare to fling your rider off the next stupidly dangerous ramp. Combos are the glue that hold together gold medal runs, so try and find a balance between constant tricking and safety-first landings. Most trick events give you the option of going with either a snowboard or skis. Advice: avoid the latter. Ploughing down a mountainside on a couple of extreme planks of wood may be satisfying, but it’s more difficult to get decent air time when skiing than it is when your rider is plonked on a board.

Did Steep get Dave feeling overly festive? No comment. Though he ‘may’ have kept his Xmas tree up for nine weeks.

Steep has eight different riders, but they all handle pretty much identically. Lovely beards, though.

seconds off your times in relentless pursuit of gold becomes hideously addictive – we spend 35 minutes on the Frison Roche GoPro Sky challenge. Hold us. And yes, the world’s most famous action camera makes an appearance in the form of an optional, vomit-inducing first-person perspective. Though many objectives can feel a tad uninspired, Annecy has still crafted segments that capture the imagination. Taking part in one of Steep’s ‘Mountain Story’ moments can see you partake in challenges as bizarre as locating a singing pine tree, to listening to the spirit of a peak as it natters your ear off. Don’t ask. Events such as the Lol Derby, where you bowl fellow riders over a sheer vertical drop as you ragdoll down craggy cliffs like a cluster of bodacious Humpty Dumpties, further tap into these occasional jolts of absurdist fun. Our favourite moment? It has to be skiing cross-country through the lower hills of Nördliche Ferwallspitz (it’s a real place, honest), the low evening sun seeping through forests where harsh winds have stripped the trees bare. As you bomb down its pistes, that warbling Coldplay tune they always play on MasterChef – usually when the chefs are

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waiting anxiously for their chocolate soufflé to rise – lingers on the wind. It’s quite the sensory experience. Although the soothing ambience of the moment is admittedly ruined when someone called TheDog40700 cuts across our line, then immediately bails trying an ollie.

Billy Snow-Mates

For a persistent online world, Steep doesn’t half feel lonely. You can group together with passing players, yet most are content to do their own thing, rarely seeming keen to join you for challenges. At least online integration is seamless – partying up is instant and hassle-free. If you want to fully embrace the social side of Ubi’s Alps, you best hope three pals buy the game so you can make the most out of these co-op friendly slopes. Steep’s map feels similarly undercooked. It’s gorgeous, but never terribly bespoke. Admiring the rugged ice fields of the Aiguilles or drinking in a simmering sunset is undeniably beautiful, yet large swathes of the map feel a little generic. Hoping for sights to match the irrepressible energy of the giant pinball machine from SSX’s Tokyo Megaplex? You’re out of luck. It may not have a track shaped like a massive

arcade game, but at least Steep’s anti-aliasing is seriously good – this is one smooooth-looking game. Although granted, that probably sounds about as sensual as rubbing yourself with steamed celery. On a minute-to-minute level, Steep is rarely anything less than a joy to control. Trouble is, this is an open world that never feels particularly open. Technically you can explore every corner of this delectable series of mountain ranges, yet the incentive to wander off-piste to discover random distractions is always secondary to hunting down medals. Having the freedom of the Alps at your chunky winter boots feels a little wasted when so much of the experience away from those score-chasing events comes across as somewhat directionless. These structural problems shouldn’t put you off Ubisoft Annecy’s sandbox, though. In its best moments, Steep conjures up the sort of breathless, effortlessly intoxicating winter sports action we’ve not seen since SSX3. If the studio is given the time to find a more distinctive voice for a sequel, you could be looking at the new extreme sports king. For the time being, just enjoy this ‘merely’ very good ‘boarding baron. n

Online components never quite live up to their potential.

better than…

Shaun White Snowboarding

Steep’s lovely controls and ace setting easily outclass Shaun’s achingly tedious attempt at extreme sports.

Worse than…

SSX 3

Still the pinnacle of piste-off action. The best entry in EA’s snowboarding series has an epic mountain to carve and a killer soundtrack.

dlc Steep’s £15.99 season pass grants you access to all three future expansions, and also throws in 10,000 credits, a snowman costume, and ten fast-travel helicopter tickets.

JudgemenT %

80 Gorgeous, but disjointed. Despite the bumps, Steep’s winter thrills are well worth riding out. Dave Meikleham

JANUARY 2017

67


Review The Final Verdict!

Format PS4 (reviewed), XO Publisher Square Enix Developer Square Enix ETA Out now Players 1

It’s bants in black pants as the Square Enix rPG buckles-up for a beast-battling bro trip

W

e’re introduced to Prince Noctis and his black-clad entourage of friends and sworn royal protectors as they struggle to push the Regalia, the crown’s convertible car, along the road after it breaks down. Previous Final Fantasy games have

It might seem a strange choice, but it’s no coincidence Square Enix went for this song as Final Fantasy XV’s theme. While noctis and pals aren’t children, there are parallels here with the ’80s coming-of-age movie of the same name, where four boys set out on a quest to find a dead body. FFXV is also a story where a trip away from home teaches a group of four boys about friendship, responsibility, loyalty, and sacrifice. just as aerith’s death or nanaki’s tear-jerking revelation about his father are more memorable than Final Fantasy VII’s apocalyptic threat, Final Fantasy XV excels in its personal moments. There’s a doomsday plot here too, but unfortunately the main story thread is mostly a forgettable mess that’s difficult

opened with Mako Reactor assaults as the terrorist arm of Greenpeace, or frantic escapes from futuristic cities being attacked by a giant fish monster who’s also your dad, but – following a brief glimpse of the future – this sequel begins simply with grunts of exertion backed by a Florence And The Machine cover of ’60s soul song, Stand By Me.

to follow, even with the tacked on scenes from the prequel movie, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, doing their best to fill in the gaps. Development on the game has been notoriously difficult – first announced as a Final Fantasy XIII spin-off, the game has endured changes in personnel, shifts in management, a switch in platforms, a change of name, and more during the decade since it was first announced. This troubled journey is most visible in the story, where seemingly important characters are introduced and suddenly dropped, and many of the game’s most influential events happen

“they may look like thirty seconds to mars, but they’re a genuinely likeable bunch” 68

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off-screen. Sometimes you have no idea why you’re doing something, never mind the motivations of others.

Lads, lads, lads

Despite all this, though, it’s still enjoyable because of its solid backbone – those four pals and their journey together on this rPG road trip. They may look like Thirty Seconds To Mars got dropkicked through a comic convention, but main character noctis’ friends are a genuinely likeable bunch, each bringing something to the group, and all developing over the course of the story. There’s Gladiolus, a mullet-sporting, beach-body-ready bodyguard who isn’t as stoic as you’d expect. Then there’s Ignis – composed and serious, he’s your intellectual advisor, and cooks stat-boosting food whenever you make camp. you can tell he’s clever because he wears glasses and sounds like a butler.

How many tubs of VO5 Fibre Putty do the boys use a day? Four… each.

Final Fantasy XV

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Like real life, long drives can be dull, fairly tedious affairs. Taking the Regalia off-road isn’t an option, so you might as well sit back and make the most of the scenery.

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january 2017

69


Final Fight

Every battle is an Omnislash Warp-strike different bits of enemies and sometimes you’ll slice them straight off. Removing a robot’s shoulder-mounted cannon is always a good bet.

Final Fantasy XV’s encounters make the characters feel every bit as agile and deadly when you’re in control as they appear to be in cutscenes.

You can hold L1 and team up with your allies for a special attack. These make you invulnerable for a few seconds, which is handy.

You don’t need to micromanage your friends – they just get on with combat on their own. You’ll need to deal most of the damage though.

Up in aRms

noctis’ royal blood gives him magical powers, which means he can throw his weapon and then warp to its position. He can also make other weapons appear in his hand, letting him switch fighting styles on-the-fly. Fancy that. Lastly there’s Prompto, a low-born childhood friend of noctis and soul of the group. If he’s not humming the Final Fantasy victory jingle after a battle, he’ll be getting excited at the prospect of riding a Chocobo (rightly so) or taking snaps with his camera.

Photo ops

Prompto’s camera is a stroke of genius and leads to some touching moments. Whenever you make camp, he shares the day’s captures with his friends. you’ll see group poses, solo shots, battle photos, scenic snaps and more. as the game draws to a close, these photographs are deployed to make heartfelt moments resonate, with retrospect after a big story moment completely changing the meaning of some images. The game’s structure really works to support this emotional pay-off, too, with

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There’s plenty of weapon variety, with hulking great swords and lances, and even oversized cannons, to choose from.

Armiger weapons, such as the sweet katana Noctis is brandishing here, are special and their use costs HP.

“it’s a refreshing change of pace and an excellent attempt to modernise rpg combat” the stakes rising and the game becoming more linear and focused as the main quests roll on. The first half is mostly spent dicking around in the open world, being distracted by pinball minigames, monster hunts, dungeon delves, optional bosses, and fetch quests. There’s a specific, comforting rhythm to this first act, driving between roadside diners for information and quests before trekking into the wilds on-foot. When night falls, more vicious monsters spawn, so you’re encouraged to make camp when you see the sun setting, giving you another excuse to sample Ignis’ culinary skills,

peruse the day’s photos, and bank any experience earned, levelling up. Levelling is done via a Final Fantasy X-esque sphere grid, but don’t get too excited – this is a baby version, stripped back and simplified, split into distinct sections for exploration, special abilities, teammate skills, stats, and more. you won’t be turning noct into a different build here. Every time you boot up the game, a message informs you this Final Fantasy “is for fans and first-timers”, and it certainly rings true. This is the most accessible Final Fantasy yet, and it’s by far the most westernised.

This blue blur is, in fact, Noct’s special attack in action, seeing him wield all weapons simultaneously in a flurry.

Barely an hour passes in Final Fantasy XV where you’re not slowly squeezing noct and friends through a small gap like Lara Croft, summons are massive screen-filling events, and sometimes as you’re driving along herds of animals will cross the road as the game wrestles camera control from you to make sure you’re looking. It’s desperate to be cinematic. One side mission sees you hunting for a behemoth called Deadeye. This encounter is teased throughout your approach, with the beast peering into a wreckage as you creep through, before you’re tasked with stalking it through some fog and back to its lair for a final confrontation. The game is packed full of memorable set-pieces like this. Combat is hyperactive, cathartic fun that has you zipping between enemies with teleport dashes, stringing combos together, switching between different

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loves…

burst info inf st o ur

A world where magic is the most dangerous thing.

The four main characters are the game’s heart.

info burst in fo

inFo burst!

t rs bu

u info b rst in fo st b ur

FinaL Fantasy XV

Combat is fast, frantic, and endlessly entertaining.

hates…

t rs bu

info burst in fo

b

Interact and jump are mapped to the same button. Long drives across the world get old and boring very quickly.

better than…

sparkly stuff

Magic is only available to be drawn from elemental sources scattered around Eos. You can combine elements together to increase their potency, or make it so you cast a spell at random. Introducing items into the mix can add healing properties, cause enemies to be frozen in time and more.

Fire hurts

Well, lightning and ice hurt too, but fire is especially sore. When you cast any spell, you need to keep the location of your teammates in mind, as you can accidentally set them alight along with the enemy, which isn’t good. Magic in this world is incredibly destructive, so it’s best used sparingly.

god help us

Plough through the main story for a bit and you’ll soon get your first summon. These massive attacks from friendly deities are some of the most visually impressive things this gen, and they deal a ridiculous amount of damage. They only turn up to help when you’re in real trouble, however.

Fin

While many of Noct’s cool magical abilities are locked off by the story quests, you don’t need to worry. Once you’ve worked through the story you’re given the option of returning to the open world once more to mop up unfinished quests and tackle post-game content, such as massive bosses.

Final Fantasy XIII

It had a snappy combat system and a vibrant world, but it was too linear for its own good and simply took too many hours to really hit its stride.

Worse than…

The Witcher 3

Despite Final Fantasy XV’s obvious western-aping ambitions, it still doesn’t come anywhere close to CD Projekt’s pinnacle of European RPGs.

dlc

weapons, dodging, rolling, parrying and countering, all in real-time. Devil May Cry this isn’t, but it’s a refreshing change of pace and an excellent attempt to modernise rPG combat systems. Magic is drawn from sources, Final Fantasy VIII-style, though here you just have the base elements – fire, ice, and electricity – and you have to craft and combine them with items to create different spells and effects, changing the potency or adding buffs and debuffs. In combat, these magical attacks impress with their power, fire leaves the battlefield scarred with crackling embers, while ice leaves it blanketed in a frozen shimmer. There are some skills you’ll never use, such as the ability to take cover behind objects to regenerate health and magic points, which feels kind of pointless when you can often teleport up to a safer high vantage point and do the same before

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teleporting back into the fray – but the stripped-back combat remains engaging despite its shallowness.

are we there yet?

Moving around the world is far less thrilling, however. During long drives, all you need to do is hold r2 while the car sticks in its lane and turns automatically. It feels like a missed opportunity, as it takes you out of the experience. There’s only so much time you can spend panning a camera and watching the hair of androgynous anime boys blowing in the wind like some japanese L’Oréal advert – strapline: because you’re Ifrit. Of course, you can listen to the soundtracks from across the series as you journey, but you’ll probably end up scanning your phone instead of looking at the game anyway. you can see why Square Enix decided to do this, as it means players

can’t just tear over the wilderness in the regalia – so chocobos have a purpose and you can’t bypass every monster encounter – but it’s still a shame this compromise was needed. Final Fantasy XV has issues, but somehow it still ends up being one of the most enjoyable jrPG experiences of recent times, mostly thanks to how likeable the boys are, how entertaining the combat is, how well designed dungeons are and how gorgeous its lush fantasy world is. Final Fantasy XV is a weird game that bears all the scars of a troubled development, but it’s still endearing despite this. Even though the story bewilders and blunders to its conclusion, the human element still makes the ending impactful. It’s a bumpy old ride, but it’s well worth seeing this road trip all the way through to its final destination. n

At one point in Final Fantasy XV’s story, Gladiolus disappears for a bit, but it’s not explained why. This is to accommodate an upcoming DLC featuring the mulleted hunk as a playable character.

Judgement %

71

Square Enix’s long awaited rPG is here and it’s an epic, flawed, weird, and endearing experience. Kirk McKeand

january 2017

71


Review

Exorcise your own Christmas shopping demons with a cathartic cull of Willamette’s reanimated corpses.

The Final Verdict!

Format XO (reviewed), PC Publisher Microsoft Developer Capcom Vancouver ETA Out now Players 1-4

DeaD Rising 4

Frank’s back, but is he still a big man on Krampus?

F

rank West is exactly the kind of hero we needed after 2016: a man who knows how to enjoy himself in spite of circumstance. Sure, his acerbic wit and not-very-professional detachment are a front, but it’s still soothing to spend time over the shoulder of a character who’s happy to wade through a scrum of the undead and bust into a military fort dressed like Captain Commando, wielding a swordfish crossbow and cracking wise all the while. Why so serious, indeed. West has lived through this nightmare once already, of course, back when he kicked off the series in the Willamette mall. He’s roped back into town by the ZDC (think CDC for zombies), but also a

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rivalry with former pupil Vick, who has taken issue with her ex-mentor’s story-first approach to the discovery of a fresh outbreak in the area and gone rogue. no one scoops Frank West. yet the return to old curb-stomping grounds is still more reminiscent of Dead rising 3 than the original, for better and for worse. Time limits, which had grown steadily more generous across the series, have now evaporated from the single-player game. Where once an electric guitar and the pointier end of a sporting goods shop’s range might see you through, you’ll now need to cobble together sturdier combo weapons to make serious headway through the hundreds of zombies on-screen. and the characterful confines of the Willamette Memorial Megaplex Mall are only a tiny fragment of the open world map. no time pressure also means there’s no pacing to speak of, no hurry to be anywhere but clowning around and

hunting down fresh blueprints for ever more demented – and rarely less than entertaining – botch-job weapons. The cockamamie story exists in little stasis pods, ready to be deployed when you’ve had your fill of mass mayhem.

Whack jobs

It’s a far more forgiving structure, one that might be convincing if there were more happening outside the plot missions. as it is, just a handful of event types repeatedly pop up – rescue survivors by clearing the immediate area of zeds, or raiding military supply crates, which struggle to justify Willamette as a (formerly) living, breathing place. The ones that shamble apart from the pack, however, are the maniac missions. no longer saved up as key story bosses, there are several groups that have gone a bit, well, strange now that society has fallen apart. Each has a theme, and is run by a health-bar-toting leader, offering a

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dead rising 4 pop of colourful insanity among the faceless hordes and jarheads. Putting down sadistic Christmas elves with a shocking wreath necklace, or going toe to toe with Captain Black Friday Beard while mall speakers blare out a barrel load of piratical savings puns – these are twisted delights. So there are guilty pleasures to be had, for sure, but there’s also a surprising amount of busywork. This flip flops between feeling like doing your favourite household chore with the right playlist on and just irksome padding. you’ll want to track down new blueprints to gain permanent access to the most useful and entertaining gear, although weapon vendors will sell you a selection of new killamajigs for one-time use if you can pony up enough scrap. There are a bunch of collectibles to find, including cell phones, Vick’s story uploads, and little safe rooms that rarely contain much worth swapping out your limited inventory for. But no part is more regularly tedious than the pauses for Frank to unsling his SLr and wander around a small zone, snapping shots to fill a checklist of evidence with either his regular lens, spectral analysis filter, or night vision mode. Framing can be annoyingly fussy, and the checklist hints aren’t always that helpful, but at least the camera view provides a hotter-colder indication that lets you know when you’re onto something. and it just wouldn’t be a Dead rising game without a stockingful of technical issues. With so many zombies to render, the series has always traded volume for looks, but objects fizzle in from nowhere and nPCs teleport about erratically

Fashion week

P

art of the fun of any Dead Rising is ditching the serious threads and rocking up to cutscenes either looking as ridiculous as humanly possible, or turning yourself into a walking Capcom homage. Here’s just a taster The Rick Grimes: seen here armed of the get-ups on offer for Frank to with a sword and shield cleaning up wriggle himself into. Willamette’s own walking dead.

1

at this point in his life, what’s Matt’s ratio of virtual zombies killed to people met? about 500:1.

Co-op: left 4 dead?

Thankfully, the cocktail of enjoyably mindless OTT combat, Frank’s ‘charming’ personality – which has shifted to be one part Bender to one part john McClane – and the gleeful irreverence carries you through the low spots. after the likes of GTa V, there’s no denying this is a solidly B-list open world. The compensation? Being able to combine a vintage car with a snowmobile and end up with a Model T as designed by Mr Freeze.

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The perfect irreverent antidote to dour game apocalypses. There are so many different ways to carve up the hordes.

hates… Zero tension or consequence makes for a forgettable plot. Willamette can feel lifeless and cold, and not always as intended.

Better than…

2

3

The Morrigan: the kit of the The Ironic Hipster: ironic in that pendulous Darkstalkers succubus Frank hates them. He’s not beyond a can be found in a little comic book shop. selfie, though – tap RB in camera mode.

Escape Dead Island

Knock-off bromeister Cliff can’t hold a flash bulb to Frank West, and his game is a glitchy, linear mess that reeks worse than a week-old corpse.

Worse than…

4

The Ski Sunday: This sporty get-up will keep you nice and warm – and zeds won’t judge you for a love of lycra.

“CapCom’s return to old CurB-stomping grounds is more reminisCent of dead rising 3” (although frame rates on One S are atypically stable). One safe house almost became impossible to clear thanks to a zombie getting entombed in a pillar, and we’ve lost more than one survivor thanks to the event being triggered while inside the confines of another mission. There are recurring irritants too, including dim aI and muddled item pick-up prompts – annoying when you’re surrounded and in need of a health item, but end up chucking away your melee weapon.

loves…

The many looks, and references, of Dead rising 4

slayus ex

Exo suits you, sir

T

he new Exo suits are a great addition to combat, offering vast strength and deadly new arms for the duration of their power bar. While wielding miniguns and street signs is tempting enough, best of all are their powered-up forms. From a War Machine-like getup to the deadly offspring of a Slush Puppies dispenser, they’re a well-rationed power trip and a needed extra layer of novelty.

5

The Walter White: cleaning up the zombocalypse he started? Only if the fan theories are to be believed.

While we feel the lack of being able to share the maddest moments with a co-op buddy, Dr4’s multiplayer seems like a good let-off valve for the gregarious zombie slayer. Divided into four episodes, this cooperative-competitive gorefest restores the time limits and, consequently, some of the tension missing from the campaign. Here, you’ll have to earn the best gear, or at least buy it from vending machines with scrap. you’ll also have to work together, since the mobs are scaled up from meat roadblock to tough-to-control crowds, and that’s before you meet the 28 Days-style ‘freshies’. Each day, you’ll have to leave your safe house to complete randomly doled out objectives, before making it back in time to see who ranked highest on the leaderboard. So Capcom hasn’t ruined Dead rising 4 with its controversial choices, but nor has it exactly reanimated the series afresh. Bringing Frank back to Willamette does Dr4 no favours by inviting comparisons to his tensely-structured debut, either, and yet he’s one of the best things about it. Why overthink it? Lovers of lighthearted, undemanding fun can take a cue from him, say “Screw it”, dig out a chainsaw strapped to a sledgehammer and just wade in. n

GTA V

Rockstar’s Los Santos is brimming with things to do and drive, and any game that offers you a Trevor is hardly demanding you take life seriously.

dlC Frank loves a putter, and he’ll play 18 holes in Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf. Frank Rising sees him infected and racing the clock, while the Stocking Stuffer Holiday Pack is full of festive slaying gear.

Judgement %

71

appropriately, this is a real Christmas jumper of a game: warm, cosy, and a teeny bit naff (in a good way). Matt Clapham

january 2017

73


Review

loves…

The Final Verdict!

Realistic physics add a unique twist to the combat. More games should use a narrator to add detail to scenes.

hates…

If you’re not careful, the enemy AI will completely swarm you and you’ll have to beat foes back with large area of effect attacks.

If any of your party die you have to reload. And that’s no party. Every loading screen is at least three minutes too long. Snore.

Better than… Each of your heroes has different abilities mapped to the D-pad. You can pause the action with the X button to play more tactically.

A lot of the battles boil down to killing tonnes of orcs before you can move to the next cinematic.

A sign of a rather hasty port, these icons can’t be selected with a controller and are probably a hangover from the PC version.

Raven’s Cry

This pirate RPG promised all sorts of high-seas swashbuckling and adventuring, but it delivered a buggy, broken wreck of an experience.

Worse than… Format PS4, XO (reviewed), PC Publisher THQ Nordic Developer King Art Games ETA Out now Players 1

The DwaRves

How much time was spent in loading screens for this review? Enough to watch three episodes of The West Wing.

not the sharpest rPG in the shed

D

warves. They gorge on beer, love a good fight, and spend their nights dreaming of engines. They’re fantasy’s answer to the stereotypical bloke. It’s hard not to love them. So a game that puts the stocky hard nuts centre stage is off to a good start. Unfortunately, despite its enticing protagonists, King Art Games’ RPG is mired in mechanical shortcomings and technical failings that make it difficult to recommend. Putting you into the sturdy boots of Tungdil, The Dwarves wastes little time pushing you into the world of Girdlegard, a kingdom under attack by armies of orcs and the undead. Over the course of its ten-hour campaign, you’ll build up a party of companions and march the length of the overworld in search of a way to halt the invaders. It’s generic pulp fantasy, but an interesting enough plot to pull you through its battles.

The Dwarves’ combat feels quite unlike any other rPG thanks to the physics engine that underpins its skirmishes. Every character, both in your party and enemy armies, is a physical object in the world which can be pushed and pulled by forces applied to it. For example, if Tungdil uses his cleave ability, and sweeps his axe across the enemies in front of him, they will flow out, scattered by the force of the attack.

Comes up short

you can often face 30 or more enemies in a skirmish, giving ample opportunity to be overwhelmed, so you’ll fast learn to exploit these physics, using your more powerful attacks to disperse foes into more manageable clusters. However, there isn’t great depth to this combat, partly because there are very few enemy variants. By the time you reach the credits, you’ll have killed hundreds of the same archers and melee units, never needing to alter your tactics. Outside of combat, you’ll explore the world through a pretty barren world

“loading screens are long, it suffers from sloWdoWn, and it crashes more than once” 74

january 2017

Tyranny

map, navigating it by moving across a web of interlinked nodes. Here there are hints of a more complex game that are never realised. For instance, you can buy provisions for your travels, but it never feels like a pressing concern. also, while there are roving bands of orcs and travelling traders, it’s rare to run into them and, in the case of the former, never particularly threatening. Where The Dwarves really falls down is its performance. On Xbox One it runs poorly – loading screens are frequent and long, it suffers significant slowdown in big battle scenes, and for us it crashes more than once. annoyingly, the camera often snags on outcrops of terrain or passes straight through the level geometry entirely. In cutscenes, character models sometimes disappear from shot to shot, replaced with a ghostly purple outline. But the most persistent and frustrating issue is a bug on the map screen that makes your view shake violently whenever attempting to select a node to travel to. yes, we were able to play despite the existence of all these bugs, but it’s stunning such prominent faults are present at launch. There’s a kernel of a good game here, but its potential is, unfortunately, never properly realised, and any kind of redeeming feature that is present, is quickly scuppered by bugs. n

What Obsidian’s fantasy RPG lacks in dwarves, it more than makes up for with its rich combat systems, and its well-crafted, choice-driven story.

i

need to knoW The Dwarves is based on the first book of a five-part saga by German fantasy author Markus Heitz. The books follow the story of Tungdil Goldhand, who is also the lead hero in the videogame.

Judgement %

52

a list of technical issues really let down what could otherwise be an enjoyable, if simplistic, rPG. Julian Benson

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ittle Dew 2

loves… The soundtrack is as catchy as it is adorably cheery. The freedom to beat the game your way is refreshing.

hates… The humour relies too heavily on meta-commentary. Sometimes it cribs a little too much from Link’s adventures.

Better than… Anyone who has ever endured Nintendo’s mollycoddling will no doubt appreciate this jab.

Oceanhorn: Master of Uncharted Seas

Ittle borrows from Zelda, but the Oceanhorn developer is probably still in prison for copyright infringement.

Worse than… Format PS4 (reviewed), XO, PC Publisher Nicalis Developer Ludosity ETA Out now Players 1

Ittle Dew 2

An ittle bit of Zelda to keep you going

How many Zelda games has Tom completed without looking up the solution online? No comment.

L

et’s kick things off with a threat: Nintendo, do you want to see a grown man lying in the foetal position in his home-made Tingle pyjamas, softly weeping? You don’t? Then release Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, a game promised two years ago, or we’re releasing those photos. Sigh… If only there was a morsel of Zelda-style adventuring to keep us ticking over. A throwback to classic dungeon exploring but with the freedom to tackle tombs in our preferred order. Step forward and take a bow, A Link Between Wor… er, Ittle Dew 2! The titular Ittle is a girl addicted to adventure, in a charming adventure that looks like someone attempted to hand draw A Link To The Past with a wobbly wrist. That lovely art style isn’t the only thing Ludosity has got right. It’s royally ripped off Zelda’s winning formula of explore dungeon, solve puzzles, collect

key item, defeat boss, collect 1/8th of mystical macguffin, repeat until true hero, blah blah blah. Crucially, it’s also helped itself to what makes Nintendo’s flagship series so wonderful. Inspired puzzle design. Creative dungeons. A helpful companion who nonetheless knows when to shut up. Wait, actually, that’s one Nintendo should nab from this.

Crawl of Dew, see

Ittle has some fun spins on the Zelda dungeon too. The water dungeon is a trek through someone’s waterlogged basement, there’s a disgusting garbage-themed tomb, and the art gallery – our favourite – uses every exhibit as an opportunity to cram in some fun visual gags. We’re less enthralled with the script, though, which too often relies on meta jokes to excuse unfortunate lapses into cliché territory. Pointing out that a routine fire dungeon will likely turn into a routine ice dungeon doesn’t split our sides enough to stop us noticing how overdone these haunts are.

“there’s tonnes of adventuring fun in ittle’s Brief runtime, even if it can’t hit those zelda peaKs” www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

A Link Between Worlds

Combat is initially executed with Ittle’s surprisingly effective stick, and an inspired touch is that every bonus cave in the overworld only needs this basic tool to be mastered. Being able to tackle dungeons in any order is pleasingly freeing, even though we suspect they’re best tackled in the order the game suggests. Having to work around shortcuts because we haven’t yet collected a key item is irritating and those unlockables lack the novelty of the sillier dungeons. A stick of dynamite is just your Zelda bombs in a thin red dress and all of them feel a tad overfamiliar. Ittle’s more engaging when it breaks from Zelda’s more tired fallbacks. Like its outstanding boss fights, which get surprisingly tough. Some are downright Dark Souls-esque in terms of how quickly they’ll tear down your health bar and demand perfect timing. Which, of course, means it’s all the more satisfying when you do finally best a boss. There’s tonnes of adventuring fun in Ittle’s brief runtime, even if it never hits those Zelda peaks. Comparing any game to the series that gave us Majora’s Mask and Link’s Awakening feels cruel, yet Ittle Dew 2 is too similar to be treated otherwise. But it’s a charming cover version, with enough ideas to make the seemingly endless wait for Breath Of The Wild that little bit more bearable. n

You can’t beat Nintendo at its own game. Yet Ittle Dew 2 is good enough to invite comparison. And that in itself is high praise indeed.

i

need to KnoW The first Ittle Dew was released on Wii U, but this sequel skips Nintendo’s machine. Make do by downloading the wonderful Game Boy/GBA Zeldas from the Wii U’s eshop instead.

Judgement %

79

Good, sometimes great, adventuring, but 3 should try to move further from Zelda’s duller tropes. Tom Stone

JANUARY 2017

75


Review

Creating great theme parks takes time and effort, but when the end results look as good as this, it’s addictive.

The Final Verdict!

Format PC Publisher Frontier Developments Developer Frontier Developments ETA Out now Players 1

planet coasteR

Coasters are the new stairway to heaven

T

heme park sims have been around for over two decades and, a bit like the coasters themselves, the genre has seen some major peaks and troughs over those years. These days, very few manage to capture the glorious excitement of their source material, but this particular modern take on the thundering, chundering world of corkscrews and dippers bucks the trend with style. Whatever mode you’re tackling, the goal in Planet Coaster is to dazzle and entertain your visitors. you need to design the kind of theme park that makes your guests tremble with excitement and sends them running into the park wonder-filled, wide-eyed and with pockets full of cash to burn. Thankfully, Planet Coaster has crammed in enough creation and design

tools to make sure you’re capable of doing just that. all that’s standing between you and building the Disneyland of your dreams is some imagination and a little bit of time. Or a lot of time… The amount of items, rides, shops and services on offer is vast. Items range from the wonderful to the downright strange, and allow you to create anything you fancy, from wacky rides to coasters that teeter on the edge of Vomitville. It’s easy to lose whole days to simply exploring the huge range of possibilities available. Don’t be dissuaded by the colourful, almost cutesy look of Planet Coaster either, because lying beneath is a game that’s hugely complex and offers all the intricacies and options even the most skilled designer could want. There are three distinct modes: Career, Challenge, and Sandbox. Broadly speaking, jumping straight into Career is the best way of getting started in Planet Coaster. you’re charged with completing

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a certain number of objectives to achieve a bronze, silver or gold medal in a series of scenarios. They’re largely simple objectives, such as attracting a certain number of visitors or earning a specific sum of money, but they aim to give you a basic grasp of how all the various tools work before you’re set totally loose.

Thought park

Challenge mode is the same too, but on the management side, and it’s the mode that’s most similar to the Theme Park World games. you’ll have to work out how to employ the staff members necessary to keep your guests happy beyond the rides. Whether that’s clearing up litter, making sure visitors can eat, drink, poop, and vomit in appropriate areas, and even keeping your rides maintained, there’s plenty to think about. The sad thing is that the Sandbox mode never takes this management aspect much further. We would absolutely love to see Sim City or even The Sims-style tasks incorporated into this more designed-focused simulation, especially as the reactions from the public when you zoom right in are often so hilarious. That being said, you’ll quickly learn the most important things in Career or

path to success

Making sure the footfall is falling in the right places

I

t turns out your visitors need a little guidance when it comes to navigating your park, so it’s absolutely imperative that you remember to connect everything with a path. Take your time, build paths before rides, and always check your notifications to make sure everything’s accessible for maximum cash. When placing paths, it’s tap to create flat walkways, or hold and drag to build steps. Also, ensure your exit is placed in close proximity to a path, and then position the entrance further away to allow room for a queue system. You know how it works: you wait over an hour for a two-minute ride.

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planeT coasTeR

loves…

It’s as easy to spend as much time meticulously building scenery as it is constructing the coasters themselves.

The visuals are lovely and there’s loads of customisation. Park creation tools are deep, varied, and intuitive.

hates…

Behind the layers of delightfully pretty graphics is a deep, extensive creation system waiting to be mastered.

Some creation tools can be a little fiddly at first. Career goals could do with being more challenging.

Better than… Go mild or wild with loops for your coaster creations. A mix of both ensures something for everyone, regardless of stomach integrity.

Besides having fun on the rides, don’t forget park visitors have other needs, such as eating, drinking and going to the toilet.

Screamride

Theme park sims struggle to really work properly on consoles – this earlier offering from Frontier Developments is one such example.

worse than…

Theme Park World

How many hours did Sam waste building a kid-friendly coaster? Three. But at least she was thinking of the children.

Unlike the pathway tools, creating exciting coasters is, thankfully, an incredibly intuitive process.

Challenge, including that paths and entrances/exits are key to theme park success. your visitors may be eager to get on the latest ride, but they’re also a little robotic. They won’t actually go anywhere that’s not connected to the park by a pathway. That means any ride, coaster, toilet, shop or other facility without a path connecting it won’t get any visitors, or make you any money. although this may sound like a simple problem to solve, actually making the pathways is a fiddly, tricky business and overly complicated, at least at first. Pathway tools are incredibly sensitive. It can be so frustrating that you may even be put off by Planet Coaster’s creation tools in the crucial opening hours. But don’t be. The oddities of path creation aren’t found in any of Planet Coaster’s other design tools. Building your own roller coaster is surprisingly intuitive and it’s not difficult to create a ride that seriously impresses both you and your guests. The most complex part is working out how each of the various parts work and combine to create the ultimate coaster. and they can be customised too, just like every other part of your park, from decking out the

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It’s a shame you don’t have more interaction with the NPCs. They’re brilliant. Look at their little joy-filled faces!

inside of tunnels with lights and effects, to deciding whether you want to tempt fate with a perilous-looking wooden coaster or something a little less rickety and a lot more durable.

Ride and zoom

It’s important to test your coaster before you start asking punters to pay for an experience that may kill them – which is actually incredibly easy to do. However, there is a strange elegance in watching coaster carts go flying into crowds of people in slow-motion, tumbling like nightmarish dominoes. But testing is also incredibly fun because you can do it from a guest’s perspective. Take a tour of your park, appreciate the mad loops you’ve created, realise that the epic drop might be a step too far as you wipe virtual spew from your face, and more. It’s yet another of Planet Coaster’s addictive elements. Tying in to the diminished role of management tasks, Sandbox mode is also not restricted by any kind of budget. It’s here that you’re free to experiment with everything that the game has to offer, without exception. and even in Career and Challenge, while new rides

and facilities do need to be researched before they can be used, there are few other restrictions to hold back your creative impulses. The result is that you’ll spend hours finding out how to make the best coasters and ride layouts, along with improving aesthetics and making everything look as realistic as you can. Creativity here is key. and what’s great about Planet Coaster is that you’re by no means alone in your quest to create the next Six Flags wonder park. This is, after all, a game from Frontier, the developer behind Elite Dangerous. Planet Coaster, like Frontier’s space-sim, allows you instant access to its already massive community of theme park creators without having to back out into Steam Workshop. Even in these early stages, there’s plenty of content made by other Planet Coaster players that you can port directly into your own park, either keeping it exactly as is or switching out parts to add in a little of your own flavour. This is the LittleBigPlanet of theme park building. Creation is very much at the core of the experience, and that’s what makes it so compelling. n

Nothing quite compares to the thrill of the original theme park simulator, with its finely tuned balance between management and creation tools.

2nd oPinion “The focus on extremely detailed, fiddly customisation, combined with a complete lack of any in-game tutorials, makes Planet Coaster an unwelcoming, off-putting experience for me. It’s not the Theme Park World follow-up I was hoping for, in gameplay or spirit.” Robin Valentine, Acting Editor

Judgement %

86

More about design than management, but this is still the best theme park sim we’ve had in decades. Samantha Loveridge

january 2017

77


review

This is the first game to use Nvidia’s PhysX Flex tech, which powers all the gooey sloshy stuff. Only on PC, mind.

The Final Verdict!

A bloody good time

Killing Floor 2’s deadly arsenal You can wield any weapons regardless of class. The later the round, the more you’ll earn, the better weapon you can buy – and there’s a hell of a selection.

Format PS4 (reviewed), PC Publisher Tripwire Interactive Developer Tripwire Interactive ETA Out now Players 1-6

Killing Floor 2

Forget guns, we’re going to need mops for this mess

T

ripwire’s wave-based zombie survival might be the gunkiest game this side of Super Mario Sunshine. The aim is to decimate the undead which, unfortunately for the cleaners, are all filled with various icky fluids. The longer you fight, the bloodier things get, and by the end stages are covered in layer upon layer of claret. How seriously does Tripwire take gore? a dedicated system called MEaT (Massive Evisceration and Trauma) handles dynamic splatter, and on nvidia-powered PCs there’s even an option to enable extra giblets. regardless of platform, though, Killing Floor 2 will have you

seeing red: red on the streets of Paris, red in abandoned farmhouses, red in snowy outposts, and murky forests, and Swiss manors, and musty crypts. Gore is more than a visual flourish. Violently expelling intestines from torsos gives the game a gleeful sense of catharsis, like squishing grapes in an abattoir or shooting spaghetti from a cannon. Bullets, blades, and blasts have the expected effect on these sacks of flesh. Each has 22 points of dismemberment, compared to the measly five of its predecessor. Set a month after that game, an outbreak originating from biochemical tech firm Horzine has spread beyond Europe. So-called ‘Zeds’ are ranked in three categories. First, you’ll weather attacks from small pale ones, such as Cysts, Clots, and Slashers. They shamble

“a cloaking device renders it invisible until it roundhouse kicks you in the face” 78

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at you scratching feebly with scrawny limbs. a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ type of enemy, they’ll quickly overwhelm the careless. Crawlers and Stalkers are similar cannon fodder, the former a multi-limbed insectoid scuttling under your line of fire, the latter possessing a cloaking device rendering it partially invisible until it spins gracefully and roundhouse kicks you in the face. a bullet or two is all it takes to lop off legs and tear chunks from heads.

MEAT is murder

Medium Zeds start filtering in next. We’re talking charred gasmask-wearing Husks dealing damage at range with flamethrowers, skeletal Sirens unleashing painful wails through the sonic amplifier jammed in their throats, and obese Bloats slashing dual meat cleavers as they drench the place in acidic bile. Large Zeds demand the most caution. Muscular Fleshpounds rev up metal meat grinders and charge at you, while mutated surgeons called Scrakes attack with nerve-operated chainsaws mounted on their arms. all these enemies differ in

Zed becomes her What is Versus Survival?

E

nter the multiplayer meat grinder with Killing Floor 2’s PvP mode. Here, rather than shooting up Zeds, you are one. Bloats, Clots, Cysts, Crawlers, and more are all available, right up to big daddies like Scrakes and Fleshpounds, and each has unique abilities. Durable Gorefasts can leap and whirl their arm-mounted blades, Sirens scream to lower defences, and tank-like Fleshpounds trigger rage mode and charge at will. Those fortunate enough to spawn as the one available boss, Patriarch, gain access to a minigun that turns everything to pulp. Teams support up to six players each, and while balance teeters a bit when the flesh starts flying, it’s a novel mode giving you an alternative perspective – that of a skinless cannibal maniac.

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killing floor 2 The game adjusts the difficulty level depending on how many people are playing. With a full complement of six, bosses take some beating.

loves… There are plenty of maps to battle the hordes across. Blowing zombies into chunky pieces is a satisfying spectacle.

hates… Ranking up is slow and unlocking perks is a chore.

There are plenty of ways to fight Zeds. Frenzy them into ramming you, freeze and burn them, knock them down, and stun them with EMP grenades.

You have a small chance of triggering Zed Time whenever you get a kill. It lasts three seconds and makes everything go suuuper slooow.

Customise avatars with a range of cosmetic items. We stick a riot helmet on our knight before slathering his face in blue Braveheart paint.

The sluggish player speed makes movement cumbersome.

better than…

Killing Floor

The sequel packs more gore, more weapons, more maps, and an overall more robust sense of firepower as you mow down hordes of Zeds.

Worse than…

What did developer Tripwire Interactive work on before this? red Orchestra 2: Heroes Of Stalingrad. They love the red stuff.

Left 4 Dead form and function and combine to keep the action fresh. It has to be said, though, that most of their behaviour involves rushing at you relentlessly, so there’s as much tactical scope here as there is in, say, fighting the ocean. Mainly you’ll shoot while backpedaling. ‘Zed Time’ is nonetheless a highlight. With every kill you make there’s a small chance of slowing down time for a few seconds, allowing you to line up headshots and appreciate all those quivering organs. It also drains all colour from the screen, which runs a bit counter to the whole blood and guts aesthetic, but it’s a cool moment all the same. at the end of each four, six, or ten-wave match, a powerfully deranged scientist called Hans Volter (gas grenades, jetpack) or cyborg behemoth the Patriarch (missile launcher, minigun) enters. you’ll want to dodge, strafe, and fire, but your character’s poor manoeuvrability prohibits it. Sprinting speed is slow, and low jumping height means you’ll try and fail to scale small ledges. and forget about playing Killing Floor 2 alone – without teammates covering your shortcomings by providing distractions, all Zeds will flock to you. Syrupy movement bogs down melee encounters most of all. although the introduction of a new block move shows an attempt to make it viable, it’s an ineffective counter against faster foes

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attacking in strength and number. Katanas, hammers, knives, and buzzsaws are no match for the crowd-management of trusty firearms.

Hearts and minds

Between rounds you’ll visit pop-up stations and put the cash you’ve earned towards refilling ammo, boosting body armour, and buying new tools of destruction. From military, to makeshift, to mad scientist, they run the gamut: dual magnums, rifles, crossbows, SMGs, sawn-offs, shotguns with incendiary bullets, and even a microwave gun. That the station moves about the map is a stroke of minor genius because it prevents you fighting in the same place twice. In Paris, for instance, we’re forced to leave the safety of the Metro and hotfoot it to car-clogged streets. In a Soviet prison the randomly spawning store takes us on a whirlwind tour of dingy wings, dirty courtyards, and bloody containment centres. While you’re free to roam, defending a specific area is your best bet. Here’s where welding comes in – you can use your soldering gun and fuse entrances shut. a white-hot line of bubbling metal slowly diminishing as Zeds fight furiously to get in gives you a visual representation of the door’s strength. During one dramatic stand-off in an old barn, we man the door and block a possible access

route as our teammates mow down Zeds streaming through the window. anyone can weld doors, but only support classes earn extra XP from it. Similarly, anyone can heal people but only medics earn extra XP by doing so. and anyone can burn Zeds, but firebugs benefit most. This gently incentivizes players to adopt set roles because you’re more likely to play your role if there’s something in it for you. There are 12 avatars, including a thawed-out German soldier, wisecracking Dj, and an accountant cosplaying as a medieval knight, and you’re free to mount any class on top of them. Where this falls down is in the huge time investment it takes developing your class. Perks unlock at intervals set too far apart, meaning you’re forced to stick with a set class while looking enviously at others, and since each class has its own associated rank, switching means starting back at square one. a universal rank would have given a greater sense of consistent progress. This messy and slow class system is mostly saved by the sheer ferocity of Killing Floor 2’s slaughterhouse. It’s just bloody good fun, and a vast improvement on the first. a full room of six players mowing down hundreds of Zeds to the pumping soundtrack of industrial metal makes for a brilliant stress reliever. n

Valve smartly enforced team play by introducing special zombies to pick off stragglers, and its AI Director gave each match dramatic pacing.

dlc Several cosmetic packs are available, such as cardboard ‘ZedEx’ armour, biker leathers, and a traditional English bobby uniform. They’re pricey at £3.99 each, but completely optional.

Judgement %

75

a cathartic, if slightly clumsy, co-op experience that lets you paint the town fleshy red. Ben Griffin

january 2017

79


Review

You meet a host of creatures which wouldn’t look out of place in Alice In Wonderland.

The Final Verdict!

now playing

This month’s biggest time sinks on Team GM

Dogs 2 Pc 1Watch

This is Ubi’s best open world in years – just a big, beautiful playground packed with distractions and opportunities for chaos. What a fantastic turnaround from its grim predecessor. Robin Valentine, acting Editor

Pc 2 hEaRthstonE

The new expansion has been keeping me pretty busy so far – I’ve built a hideous Grimestreet Taunt Warrior deck that regularly gets me to 70+ armour each match… Robin Valentine, acting Editor

Vi Pc 3ciVilization

Every time I research a new technology and Sean Bean reads it out, I’m compelled to go and read more about it on Wikipedia. At least now I know all about animal husbandry. Ben griffin, senior staff Writer

4

gEaRs of WaR 4 Xo

Horde mode is ace. Most heroic moment: saving a teammate from a Locust execution by bayoneting them with a rusty Lancer. Ben griffin, senior staff Writer

DiVision Xo 5thE

The Survival DLC is finally out, as is the version 1.4 update, so I’ve been back skulking about the Dark Zone and trying out the new mode. I can never stay away for long… Rob crossland, art Editor

hoRizon 3 Pc 6 foRza

The sun is still shining, and I’m still winning head-to-heads in my Rocket Bunny M3. Can’t wait to get my hands on the Sunbeam in the latest pack! Rob crossland, art Editor

officE lunchtimE gamE of thE month: Push mE Pull You Ps4 We’re not sure which is the worse sound – the rubbery squeak as the characters wrestle, or Robin’s cackling laugh as he plays.

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Format PS4, XO, PC (reviewed) Pub Daedalic Entertainment Dev Daedalic Entertainment ETA Out now Players 1

Silence

Hear’s one to break your heart

O

rdinarily you wouldn’t be glad that a game started by dropping bombs on you. Yet in Silence this devastation creates a doorway into a beautifully vibrant realm, full of details which’ll fill you with a thirst to discover its fantastical world. a point-and-click adventure to the bone, Silence is the follow up to The Whispered World, and has more of the same enticing storytelling. It’s all relatively easy, which means you can focus on

The environments will have you asking questions. For example: why are there so many giant baby statues?

falling in love with the three principal characters: noah, elder brother to the young renie, and Spot, a large green caterpillar. yes, you read that right. a caterpillar. The story and spectrum of events you navigate lead you into bewitching landscapes, and along the way are plenty of whimsical items. a particular highlight is a bomb designed to look like a music box – y’know a literal boom box – and the uses of these toys will never cease to surprise you. Silence’s hand-painted backgrounds are saturated with charm, with one of a sleeping dragon somehow making you coo over the giant, toothy beast.

The solutions to puzzles encourage you to consider different approaches and experiment with Spot, who can take on different characteristics depending on the liquid he drinks, ranging from becoming a fireball to a mesmerising hypnotist. Bizarre, but great. Environments are genuinely dynamic: they evolve depending on how close you are to solving their puzzles, so backtracking’s not too much of a chore, as it often leads to you finding something you overlooked previously. Plus, the ingenious addition of a bird messenger means that you can seamlessly alternate between noah and renie’s puzzle-solving enterprises. Get fed up with one half of a challenge and you can switch to the other sibling, as the solution to one of their quandaries often triggers a helpful additional prop which aids you in resolving the other brain-teaser. It’s not perfect. Minigames appear sporadically and don’t feel well-integrated, while three particular nPCs feel like no more than plot-convenient window dressing. neither of these are major issues, however. With an ending guaranteed to trigger a lump in your throat, Silence is totally worth making noise about. n Zoe Delahunty-Light

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REViEW RounDuP

Hot downloadS

Explore an abandoned house, barn, silo, lab… and a nuclear power plant (safety goggles not included).

The latest DLC and expansions explored

Format PC Publisher Finish Line Games Developer Finish Line Games ETA Out now Players 1

Maize

Sweet corn with an empty aftertaste

S

hafts of sunlight shine over a field of swaying corn, their green leaves towering high above your head. Hidden from view, something rustles in the crops. No, it’s not a stray fieldmouse – it’s a piece of… sentient corn, and it’s running away. This brief glimpse is the perfect incentive to get you to uncover the story behind

the creation of walking, talking grain by some dense scientists who misinterpreted a government memo. Maize is a walking sim with puzzling elements thrown in. Prepare to meet with a blaze of colour at every turn, exploring scenes that wouldn’t look out of place in a Pixar film. Curiosity is rewarded too. Some items can be used to solve simple puzzles, whereas others don’t have any practical use but explain the game’s backstory. yet this simplicity is the

downfall of an otherwise delightful game. Don’t expect to ponder over the challenges thrown your way or experience any real epiphany moments when you figure out how to progress, as solutions are blindingly obvious. Towards the end you’re dumped into an eyebrow-raising finale which leaves you wondering if you missed a crucial bit of plot. However, what Maize lacks in coherency it makes up for with its writing. The comical item descriptions employ a scathing tone which never becomes tiresome, and make you seriously consider if you’re being slightly dense for picking up so many random objects. Maize is wacky (to put it mildly), and very nearly a-maizing. n Zoe Delahunty-Light

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The story spans hundreds of years, but gameplay is stuck in days of yore.

Format PS4, XO, PC (reviewed) Publisher Microïds Developer Pendulo Studios ETA Out now Players 1

yeSteRday oRiginS

all my troubles were so, er, right here

Y

ou might not have experienced the adventures of John Yesterday before, but you’ve played a game like this – an old school point-and-click adventure à la Monkey Island. That might sound like quite the treat, but its style also holds it back from greatness. Every object you find, and interaction you have, means something and is key to

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solving the various puzzles. Collect clues from conversations, and from world-foraging, to complete what would normally be mundane everyday life problems, such as finding your misplaced SD card. But here, the everyday becomes critical and crucial, and sometimes exactly as tedious as it sounds. Sure, there are moments where it all comes together and you give yourself a well-earned pat on the back, but more

often you’re left feeling frustrated as you search for that one missing piece of information. Thankfully, there’s an intriguing plot to carry you through to completion. john yesterday and his girlfriend Pauline – you play as both of them – just happen to be immortal, so you actually end up puzzling your way across some 500 years of history. Through the game’s gorgeous graphics, you get a real sense for each time zone and, fascinatingly, learn john is actually a man of many names. There’s plenty to intrigue and make you persevere through the often-pedantic puzzles. But yesterday harks back to a gaming past where things were unnecessarily frustrating, and it’s therefore fitting that Origins’ biggest issue is it’s anything but original. n Samantha Loveridge

67

What better way to kick off our final DLC round-up of 2016 than with the first downloadable delivery for Titanfall 2? The Angel City’s Most Wanted update is completely free. It bundles a reworked version of the Angel City map from the original game, a new Wingman Elite Pistol, and six additional customisation kits for your Titan. The update also brings an in-game store where you can purchase cosmetic items. From mechs to mercs, Uncharted 4 players can team-up with two friends (or play solo) in a new Survival mode. The aim of the game is to not die while fighting off wave after wave of Shoreline mercenaries. To keep things interesting, objectives (collect treasure before the time runs out!) and modifiers (headshots only!) add a twist, and every tenth wave is punctuated by the appearance of a hard-as-nails Pirate Warlord. Arrrr. Maintain that pirate voice for a moment, because the next DLC on the list is the fourth and final expansion for Starrrr Warrrrs Battlefront. Wrapped inside the Rogue One: Scarif add-on are four new maps and two new playable characters – Jyn Erso and Orson Krennic – who you’ll be familiar with if you’ve seen the Rogue One movie. Releasing alongside the DLC is the PS VR exclusive Rogue One: X-Wing VR Mission, which, oh yes, lets you pilot and shoot lasers and be awesome in an X-wing. Frantic culinary couch multiplayer Overcooked may be more about peeling potatoes than firing proton torpedoes, but The Lost Morsel DLC is not to be overlooked. A new map, six new levels, six new chefs (includes an adorable dinosaur, bear and pig), and a new jungle theme = tasty. Finally, with a catastrophic side-shuffle from delicious to deadly, we have the Natural Disaster expansion for Cities: Skylines. Want to reduce your metropolis to rubble and purge the populace? No problem! Choose from eight apocalyptic events, from tsunamis and meteor strikes, to earthquakes and forest fires. The end of the world seems a fitting way to end the year. Laters, 2016.

january 2017

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ou can never be equipped with enough gaming facts, stats, and nuggets of knowledge. And to become a truly wise and revered scholar you’ll need to be acquainted with everything, from the eye-rolling ‘everybody knows that’ to the crowd pleasing ‘how the hell do you know these things?’. If you fancy yourself as an overflowing fount of gaming trivia, then you need to make space on your shelf of learning for the Guinness World Records Gamer’s

Edition. It’s more than 200 pages of feats and facts, high scores and history, and much more besides. The largest Lego diorama based on a videogame map? Boom! It’s in there. The longest wall run in Titanfall? Wallop! It’s in there. First gamer in space? Honk-honk! It’s in there. The knowledge almost never ends. Lucky for you (or five of you, at least), we have five copies of this brain-swelling encyclopedia to give away. But these aren’t your common or garden copies. No sir. These copies are all signed by the insanely successful gaming YouTuber Ali-A. He is so insanely successful he holds two records of his own – Most Popular Call Of Duty Channel By Views and Most

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Terms and conditions: By entering this Competition you are agreeing to receive details of future offers from Future Publishing Ltd. The closing date is 2 February 2017. By taking part in a Competition, you agree to be bound by the Competition Rules, which are summarised below but can be viewed in full at www.futureplc.com/competition-rules. Late or incomplete entries will be disqualified. Proof of posting (if relevant) shall not be deemed proof of delivery. Entries must be submitted by an individual (not via any agency or similar) and, unless otherwise stated, are limited to one per household. The Company reserves the right in its sole discretion to substitute any prize with cash or a prize of comparable value. Unless otherwise stated, the Competition is open to all GB residents of 18 years and over, except employees of Future Publishing and any party involved in the competition or their households. By entering a Competition you give permission to use your name, likeness and personal information in connection with the Competition and for promotional purposes. All entries will become the property of the Company upon receipt and will not be returned. You warrant that the Competition entry is entirely your own work and not copied or adapted from any other source. If you are a winner, you may have to provide additional information. Details of winners will be available on request within three months of the closing date. If you are a winner, receipt by you of any prize is conditional upon you complying with (amongst other things) the Competition Rules. You acknowledge and agree that neither the Company nor any associated third parties shall have any liability to you in connection with your use and/or possession of your prize.

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RetroMaster We

❤ Old Games!

Fortunately, Final Fantasy launched to respectable critical and commercial success in japan, and development of a sequel became an immediate priority. But while Square’s gameplay template would remain largely unchanged from sequel to sequel, the developer didn’t want to be hemmed in by narrative continuity, so established Final Fantasy as an anthology series that explored a new world in each new instalment.

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Developer Square Publisher Sony Computer Entertainment Released 1997 Format PS1 Get it PSN, Steam, iOS App Store

unprecedented $45 million bringing Sakaguchi’s vision to Sony’s console.

The legend

When Final Fantasy VII’s chunky jewel case reached our side of the pond in 1997, it became the first mainline entry in the series to reach Europe’s shores. So, it wasn’t name recognition that propelled it to such phenomenal success – it was critical adoration, excited word of mouth, and some hefty marketing on the part of Sony that eventually added up to more than ten million sales worldwide. and while there were no revolutionary changes to the gameplay formula, critics and players were blown away by the cinematic quality of the pre-rendered

End of gam ing LEg

• ng

of Gaming

ga m i

The origins

Over the course of the early nineties, Square developed a close relationship with nintendo, rising to prominence as one of the company’s most respected third-party developers thanks to the likes of Chrono Trigger, Secret Of Mana, and the Final Fantasy series. Sakaguchi’s profile grew considerably during this time as well, and in the summer of 1994 the celebrated designer sat down to begin planning Final Fantasy VII, sketching his idea for a futuristic detective story set in the ruins of a city called Midgar. at this point, it was a given that this noir fantasy would launch exclusively on nintendo hardware. But, when nintendo announced its decision to persevere with the cartridge format for the n64, the ambitious Sakaguchi was confronted with a difficult decision. He could stick with nintendo and its smaller-capacity carts, or he could move his franchise to PlayStation, and take advantage of the CD format to create a game of unprecedented scale. Controversially, Sakaguchi decided to side with Sony, reworking the game’s narrative and expanding the size of its development team. By the time of its release, Square had gambled an

#48 • LEgEnd of

L

egend has it the name Final Fantasy was first coined as an oblique reference to Square’s looming bankruptcy. The title suggested this NES RPG represented one final roll of the dice for an embattled developer, one last attempt to reverse its fortunes. As it turns out, the name was actually chosen to reflect Hironobu Sakaguchi’s personal situation – the series creator was on the verge of quitting games altogether. If that first Final Fantasy hadn’t sold well, Sakaguchi would have retrained in another industry.

Legend

ng mi ga

Every Cloud has a silver lining/white jewel case

of gaming • L Eg E ing • LEgE nd gam of of

Final Fantasy Vii

nd gE LE

nd

Square’s veteran character designer Yoshitaka Amano was unavailable to work on the project, so relative rookie Tetsuya Nomura created Cloud and company.

cutscenes, the scale of its gameworld, and the epic nature of its narrative. The fact Final Fantasy VII’s storyline was such a direct expression of Sakaguchi’s ecological concerns was another gamble, but the conflict between avalanche eco-warriors and the environmentally reckless Shinra Corporation captured the attention of tree-huggers and the ecologically apathetic alike. The final game shipped with more than 40 minutes of FMV cutscenes, which might seem small by today’s standards but was unprecedented at the time. These CGI scenes awed audiences, serving as a showcase for the PlayStation and its CD-rOM format. But that was far from Final Fantasy VII’s only lasting mark on the wider world of gaming.

The legacy

There can be little doubt that Sakaguchi’s decision to move Square’s flagship

“FINAL FANTASY VII EITHER TAPPED INTO OR CREATED A DEMAND FOR JRPGS OUTSIDE OF JAPAN” www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


series spotlight It’s the final countdown

The PS1 sound chip let composer Nobuo Uematsu create an iconic score.

1 Final Fantasy VIII 2 Final Fantasy IX (PS1 – 1999)

(PS1 – 2001)

How do you follow one of the most successful games of all time? If you’re Square, you do it by producing something that’s really quite different. The introduction of realistically proportioned characters was completely new for the series, but more significant changes included the introduction of the Junction System and an expansion of the role of summons, which could now aid players outside of battle. Bonus trivia: Final Fantasy VIII made a brief cameo appearance in the Charlie’s Angels movie.

Although the ninth instalment in the series was partly developed alongside Final Fantasy VIII, this entry looks back to the early days of the franchise, shedding the sci-fi trappings of Square’s recent successes in favour of a return to pure fantasy. And although it didn’t quite match the success of its immediate predecessors, Final Fantasy IX received huge critical acclaim. It was also the last game in the series to debut on Sony’s original console.

3 Final Fantasy X

4 Final Fantasy XI 5 Final Fantasy XII (PC, 360, PS2 – 2004)

(PS2 – 2007)

Square’s PlayStation 2 debut was a technologically ambitious epic that did away with the divide between gameworld and overworld for the first time in Final Fantasy history. The introduction of voice acting was another first for the series, while the Sphere Grid system shook up character levelling substantially. A direct sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, followed in 2004. It currently stands as the second best-selling game in the series, behind Final Fantasy VII.

Conceived by Hironobu Sakaguchi during a trip to Hawaii, Final Fantasy XI marked Square Enix’s first foray into massively multiplayer waters, enabling players from around the world to battle familiar foes in connected worlds, including cross-platform play between PC and PS2. It also did away with random encounters, opting instead to depict enemies wandering the gameworld for players to battle or ignore as they wished.

Square Enix’s PS2 swansong re-examined any number of hoary Final Fantasy conventions. Like its predecessor, Final Fantasy XII did away with random encounters and turn-based battling, but this 2007 classic also added the gambit system, which enabled players to author rudimentary AI commands for their newly-autonomous party members. The licence system was another novelty, as was the introduction of a player-controlled camera.

FFVII introduced Limit Breaks to the tried-and-tested series gameplay.

franchise to the PlayStation was a tremendous loss for nintendo at a time when many of the company’s third-party publishers were already jumping ship. Final Fantasy VII’s enormous success wasn’t just a single loss for nintendo, then – it ensured future instalments in the series would remain disc-based CGI epics, and eventually established Sony’s PlayStation as the home of Final Fantasy in the minds of many players worldwide. as well as changing the fortunes of platform holders, Final Fantasy VII either tapped into or created a demand for jrPGs outside of japan, awakening millions of gamers across the globe to the delights of turn-based battling. It’s hard to imagine now, but without Final Fantasy VII it’s possible that the jrPG may never have grown beyond a niche genre outside of its homeland. But perhaps the most obvious consequence of Final Fantasy VII’s far-reaching success was the massive growth of Square’s flagship franchise, which stands today as one of the bestselling of all time. If the first Final Fantasy saved Square and revitalised Hironobu Sakaguchi’s career, the seventh reshaped the industry. n

www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

(PS2 – 2002)

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RetroMaster We

❤ Old Games!

Six Of The BeST…

Deaths We wish you good mourning

T

hey say that death and taxes are the two great inevitabilities in life, but given that the Cayman Islands isn’t home to any crafty corporate death havens, at least not that we know of, it seems reasonably safe to say that basic mortality is the more inescapable of the two. Videogames, for their part, have always been incredibly keen to confront death, although not in the chin-stroking philosophical sense. Instead, games offer the chance to inflict senseless slaughter in a consequence-free environment, usually offering some flimsy narrative explanation to justify your virtual violence. Every once in a while, though, a videogame death will stop us in our tracks. Perhaps it’s the demise of a beloved character. Maybe it’s a doomed NPC that represents something greater than themselves. Or perhaps it’s a horse falling into a gorge. Look, there’s just something in our eyes is all. Don’t worry about it. n

Andrew ryAn

Bioshock (PC, PS3, 360 – 2007)

The death of Rapture’s objectivist architect serves as a vivid demonstration of the player character’s programming and the player’s powerlessness to truly affect the course of the game.

AeriS gAinSborough Final Fantasy VII (PS1 – 1997)

Part of FFVII’s love triangle, the last surviving member of her race, and a darned useful party member. All of which makes it really upsetting when she’s skewered by Sephiroth.

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dominic SAntiAgo Gears Of War 3 (360 – 2011)

‘Dom’ died as he lived: repressing his feelings towards Marcus Fenix while moping about his dead wife. He sacrificed himself to save his squad, steering a truck into a fuel store to wipe out a Lambent horde.


Grab Bag

retro gems from every era

Awesome Boss! the boSS

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2 – 2005)

Agro

Shadow Of The Colossus (PS2 – 2006)

At the end of Kojima’s Cold War epic, The Boss makes the ultimate sacrifice, allowing herself to be killed by Naked Snake. She knows she’ll be remembered as a traitor, but she may have prevented all-out war.

This faithful steed is your sole companion as you wander the Forbidden Land. But when a stone bridge begins to collapse beneath you, Agro somehow flings you to safety before plummeting into the gorge below.

banjo-Kazooie Format N64 Developer Rare Released 1998

This may look more like a board game than a boss battle, but Grunty’s Furnace Fun is a gleefully self-referential game show hosted by your witchy antagonist. To win, you’ll have to answer questions about the game itself and Gruntilda’s weird personal life. Avenues of inquiry include the name of Grunty’s first boyfriend and the colour of her underwear.

Classic Moment!

halo 2 Format Xbox Developer Bungie Released 2004

It may have been Combat Evolved that introduced the Plasma Sword, but Halo 2 gave you the power to wield this Sangheili blade for the first time in the series. Chopping your way through Midship or Zanzibar quickly became the highlight of the game’s superb multiplayer, and the sight of an approaching enemy with this shimmering sword in hand always inspired uncontrollable terror.

Remake Request!

dirK the dAring Dragon’s Lair (Arcade – 1983)

In his quest to rescue Princess Daphne, Dirk suffers a lot of deaths. You might be strangled by vines, fall into any number of bottomless pits, or be burnt alive by the titular reptile, singed on the brink of victory.

Speedball 2: brutal deluxe Format PC, Amiga CD32, Mega Drive, Game Boy, Master System, NES, Amiga, Atari ST Developer The Bitmap Brothers Released 1990 We know this futuristic bloodsport-sim has already inspired its

share of remakes, but we want a version that stays true to the strategic thuggery while making use of modern gaming hardware for an extra violent spectacle. Give us bone-crunching replays, savage injuries, and online multiplayer matches to boot.

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CultureMaster The Outer Regions Of Gaming!

Even without seeing the working eyes in action, this chocolate cake version of Freddy Fazbear is pretty creepy. We’d still have a slice, mind.

The Cake isn’T a lie

no more tiers. We catch up with gaming wonder baker Frantz to discover more about his perfect, ultra-tasty creations

M

issing the Great British Bake Off? All that bunting, the charm, the puns, and the wonderful excuse to shovel cheesecake into your face on a weekly basis? Well, Frantz, a software engineer from Toulouse in France, might just be able to at least make you as hungry for cake. His showstopping food designs are all inspired by his favourite games and the results look almost too good to eat. Well, in the case of an animatronic Five Nights At Freddy’s inspired design, maybe too scary to eat, but we’ll get onto that in a bit. “I’m 36, which means my two best Christmas gifts were my nES and my Gameboy. I’m a software engineer, but I’ve always been passionate about baking,” Frantz says. “I’ve always been known for baking or making unusual food. For a surprise party back in 2012, I decided to bring a Super Mario Star cake. I searched the internet and found a youTube video from rosanna Pansino and discovered about fondant and food colouring, which totally unlocked my creativity about making cakes.” unlocked? More like unleashed.

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Frantz’s Instagram, coderxbaker, is an incredible gallery of tasty designs, including a sweet alternative to the Pokémon Go Plus wrist accessory. When Frantz couldn’t find one for love nor money, he decided to make his own. They might not collect PokéStops or catch Pokémon, but that’s not really an issue when there’s carefully iced chocolate cream cookies held onto your wrist with sour gummy candy. Despite baking almost every day and making his creations from scratch, as opposed to focusing on decoration alone, Frantz still thinks of himself as an amateur. and when it comes to home-made cakes, few can compare to his recreation of Five nights at Freddy’s titular teddy, Freddy Fazbear. Complete with signature top hat and bow tie, this Halloween extravaganza also has moving animatronic eyes to fill you with chills before you even get to the cake.

Freddy or not

“It took me two months from the idea to the realization. The eyes are 3D printed and they move thanks to servomotors controlled by a microcontroller which I programmed,” Frantz explains. “This cake mixes lots of

A nice set of chocolate flavoured Nintendo ’taches. Thankfully, the Wario one doesn’t taste of farts.

different skills, from design and electronics to crafting and programming, which definitely makes it my hardest creation.” yep, those eyes don’t just blink – they also turn to look at you. “It was a chocolate cake with passion fruit buttercream and there was marshmallow puffed rice in there too,” Frantz reveals. “When I make a huge cake I try to make a basic recipe to please everyone. The biggest challenge was the 3D printed parts because I was totally new to this. I failed with at least four sets of eyes before making the one I wanted to.” When it comes to other creations, Frantz has experimented with all kinds of flavours and sweet treats. His Portal cake is complete with the “lie” that the cube on top is actually a flat piece of icing that only looks 3D from

“I would love to bake a gIant colossI cake for shadow of the colossus” www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


GlOBal MasTeR

Best 3DS cover plates to import from japan

Drake’s fortune might not look edible, but that pirate sigil is hiding a crumbly chocolate cookie interior.

Just in case you didn’t believe the eyes could move, here’s a work-in-progress shot of the Freddy cake.

Watch this

How do you make your 3DS look like it belongs in the 80s? Simple! Attach a Game & Watch inspired cover plate. This retro addition means you’ll get a handy digital clock, a thermometer, and a timer to manage your Animal Crossing sessions down to the last second. As an early gaming cake attempt, Frantz could do a lot worse than this impressive Green Hill Zone inspired Sonic The Hedgehog bake. As its creator and harshest critic, he thinks it’s flawed, but it’s still his favourite.

SEE THIS! SEE THIS! SEE THIS! S

Butter scream

See this!

IS! SEE THIS! SEE THIS! SEE TH TH

Simplicity is also important when it comes to flavour. a certain angle, and a Dragon Quest slime is the biggest It’s probably for the best, but Frantz has never been (and cutest) gummy candy he’d ever created. Frantz tempted to match the taste to the character or game. even made uncharted gold cookies to celebrate the “I mainly try to match flavours with colours,” he says. release of nathan Drake’s most recent adventure. But “For example, when I need a brown or which of his bakes is he most fond of? black fondant, I make a chocolate “I think my favourite is a Sonic cake I THIS! SEE THIS! SEE THIS! SEE fondant recipe, that way I avoid made a few years ago,” he ponders. EE using too much artificial black “It was my second attempt at a colourant. I think people prefer it game related cake and I brought it when colour and flavour matches into work. The feedback was and it’s not weird.” amazing and I loved how this cake If reading this has given you a Looking to the future, he has brought back memories and craving for sweet stuff, get even plenty of tasty ideas. “I would love nostalgia to my coworkers.” hungrier with a trip to Frantz’s Instagram page to see more to bake a giant colossi cake for yummy gaming delights: Shadow Of The Colossus,” Frantz http://bit.ly/gmcoderxbaker enthuses. “I love that game so and the secret to gaming cake much. I often listen to the success? just like Dark Souls, it’s all soundtrack when making cakes.” about perseverance. “I’m a very and what, in his opinion, is the patient and stubborn person, so I feel ultimate gamer bake? “That’s a hard one, I think it’s very like saying there’s nothing in particular which has taken personal. I think it’s something that brings you all the too long to make,” Frantz says. “Being well organised is great memories when you eat it which makes you want the key… just learn how to do it. nothing is hard if you to play that game again.” n Louise Blain find how to do it, and the only way to find it, is by trying.” SEE THIS! SEE THIS! SEE THIS! IS!

www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

Blocked out

For when you need a cover plate that reminds you just how much happier life inside Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is. KK Slider’s on there looking predictably cool, the Nook twins are stacked up, Isabelle is front and centre, and, no Resetti, there’ll be no saving today. This one is definitely an instabuy.

card at Work

This striking cover plate shows off art inspired by the Mario Hanafuda, the Nintendo version of the Japanese playing cards. Created to celebrate Mario’s 30th last year, the cards feature Mario illustrations and retain the visual style with its clean lines and strong colours. For the classy 3DS.

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Throughout the next 12 months we’ll be filling our pages with expert coverage and all the latest info on the hottest games you need to know about – no matter what gaming platforms you prefer. Subscribe or risk missing out!

Go onLInE: myfavourItEmaGazInEs.co.uk/GmsuB or caLL 0344 848 2852 anD QuotE GMSP2R for PrInt, GMSP2T for BunDLE or GMSP2L for DIGItaL. TERMS AND CONDITIONS Prices and savings quoted are compared to buying full priced UK print and digital issues. You will receive 13 issues in a year. You can write to us or call us to cancel your subscription within 14 days of purchase. Your subscription is for the minimum term specified and will expire at the end of the current term. Payment is non-refundable after the 14 day cancellation period unless exceptional circumstances apply. Your statutory rights are not affected. Prices correct at point of print and subject to change. For full terms and conditions please visit: myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/terms. Offer ends 30/01/2017


s e m a ! G d t e s Fir Announc

18 – 19 February Olympia London FEATURING

WARHAMMER 40K: DAWN OF WAR III

HALO WARS 2

MIRAGE: ARCANE WARFARE

PLUS THE LATEST TECH, PC WORKSHOPS & MORE BUY TICKETS NOW! E-SP O RT S PA RTN ER

www.pcgamer.com/weekender


Next MoNth‌

GamesMaster 313 oN sale 26 jaNuary

New allies. New enemies. A whole new galaxy to explore. Join us as we delve deep on a classic in the making Due to the unpredictable nature of the gaming world, all contents are subject to change.


gAME guIDE

Welcome to Gm’s carefully collated list of the most essential gaming experiences you can undertake right now. If even one of the 50 games on here has passed you by, get a shift on post-haste

1

2

3

4

5

DARK SOuLS III

THE LAST OF uS

THE WITcHER 3: WILD HuNT

gRAND THEFT AuTO V

MARIO KART 8

The first game might be closer to fans’ hearts, but this is Souls – and gaming – at its current-gen finest.

Naughty Dog brings all of its strengths to the fore, fusing engaging gameplay with stunning storytelling.

An epic proposition that truly lives up to its promise. Engaging, mature, and unbelievably vast.

The most comprehensive sandbox going, full of wonderful distractions and typical Rockstar humour.

Reinvention is what Ninty does best, and nowhere is that more apparent than in this joyous karter reborn.

PS4 / XO / PC

11

PS4 / PS3

PS4 / XO / PC

12

METAL gEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN PS4 / XO / PC / PS3 / 360

Hideo’s last hurrah brings open-world action to the revered series.

21

13

ROcKET LEAguE

Now packed with content thanks to a string of expansions and updates, Bungie’s FPS MMO is better than ever.

An engrossing mystery that makes us believe in FMV again. Utterly, wonderfully unique.

The most brilliantly accessible level creation game around, dripping with Nintendo’s slick signature style.

2015’s surprise hit combines football and motors to create an amazingly universal multiplayer experience.

PC / Mobile

PS4 / XO / PC

guILD WARS 2: HEART OF THORNS

42

PS4 / XO / PC / PS3 / 360

35

TEARAWAY

FAR cRY PRIMAL

PS Vita

TALES FROM THE BORDERLANDS

PS4 / PC / PS Vita

3DS

34

43

NIDHOgg

POKÉMON SuN AND MOON

PS4 / PC / PS3 / PS Vita / Mobile

MIDDLE-EARTH: SHADOW OF MORDOR PS4 / XO / PC / PS3 / 360

PS4 / XO / PC

25

HOTLINE MIAMI

33

DOOM

PS4 / XO / PC

24

PC

32

ALIEN ISOLATION

Wii U

23

BATTLEFIELD 1

41

15

SuPER MARIO MAKER

PC / PS3 / 360

Wii U

14

HER STORY

PS4 / XO / PS3 / 360

PORTAL 2

BAYONETTA 2

Wii U

DESTINY

22

31

PS4 / XO / PC / PS3 / 360

PS4 / XO / PC / PS3 / 360 / Mobile

PS4 / XO / PC

44

45

INSIDE

DOTA 2 PC

PS4 / XO / PC

FORMAT BuYER’S guIDE just bought a spanking new console? Configured a new rig? or perhaps you’ve a new handheld ready to go? Whichever machine you’ve got, Gm is here to ensure you’re clued in on the top exclusives 96

jaNuary 2017

1

THE LAST OF uS REMASTERED 2 3 4

JOuRNEY

2

uNcHARTED 4

TOWERFALL AScENSION 5

HALO 5: guARDIANS

1

BLOODBORNE

5

1

KALIMBA

3

FORzA HORIzON 3

4

QuANTuM BREAK

ORI & THE BLIND FOREST

2

MARIO KART 8

SuPER MARIO MAKER 3 4

5

SPLATOON

BAYONETTA 2

SuPER MARIO 3D WORLD www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


This month, Ben Griffin confesses his embarrassing love of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Cavorting the galaxy as Starkiller, a dark Jedi so powerful he instantly breaks all of Star Wars canon, is a riot. The way he fries stormtroopers with lightning, the way he flings their ragdoll bodies around with the Force, even the badass way he holds his lightsabers backwards even though they’d probably end up slicing his arms off. After the 30th time of carving through a TIE fighter squadron while falling, I actually started to feel sorry for the Empire. Ok, so it’s a tedious hack-and-slash when you get right down to it, but one that lets you live out your dreams of chucking an ewok through a tree.

Team GM comes clean on the games it secretly plays when no-one’s watching…

6

7

JOuRNEY PS4 / PS3

This intensely emotional trip through a strange, beautiful world is a truly spellbinding display of games as art.

8

uNcHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END An incredible end to one of the most spectacular series in games.

17

10

OVERWATcH

TOWERFALL AScENSION

XcOM 2

A wonderous foray into first-person shooting from the World Of Warcraft dev – essential for team players.

Still nothing on current-gen has come close to matching the multiplayer thrills found in this twitchy battler.

Turn-based strategy gold that doesn’t pull its punches. Try not to get too attached to your soldiers, eh?

PS4 / XO / PC

PS4

16

9

PS4 / PC / PS Vita

18

PS4 / XO / PC

19

20

FALLOuT 4

SPLATOON

STARBOuND

THE WALKINg DEAD

TITANFALL 2

A hundred little improvements over its predecessor make this trip to the wasteland one worth booking.

Injects more fun and colour into the online shooter genre than we ever thought possible.

Side-on crafting at its best. A wonderous world filled with planets to explore and furniture to plunder.

Both seasons display some of the finest storytelling in videogames.

The most creative and varied FPS campaign in years, with a side of fantastically fast-paced multiplayer.

PS4 / XO / PC

Wii U

26

PC

27

DISHONORED 2

28

BLOODBORNE

PS4 / XO / PC

STREET FIgHTER V

HALO 5: guARDIANS XO

PS4 / PC

XcOM 2 HER STORY

1 2 3 4

1

STARBOuND

3

TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER

MONSTER HuNTER gENERATIONS

DOTA 2

5

LuIgI’S MANSION 2: DARK MOON

5

www.gamesradar.com/gamesmaster

1

FIRE EMBLEM FATES

2

3DS

TEARAWAY

1

PERSONA 4 gOLDEN 3

4

MONSTER HuNTER gENERATIONS

PC

ANIMAL cROSSINg: NEW LEAF

guILD WARS 2

50

STELLARIS

PC

4

Wii U

49

POKÉMON SuN AND MOON 2

SuPER MARIO 3D WORLD

PC / XO

48

SALT & SANcTuARY

40

SuPERHOT

3DS

47

46

3DS

39

ANIMAL cROSSINg: NEW LEAF

XO / PC

FIRE EMBLEM FATES

PS4 / XO

38

ELITE DANgEROuS

PS4 / PC

30

ROcK BAND 4

PS4 / XO / PC / 360

37

PS4 / XO / PC

29

RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER

PS4

36

PS4 / XO / PC / PS3 / 360 / PS Vita / Mobile

gRAVITY RuSH

3 4

80 DAYS

FTL: FASTER THAN LIgHT

VELOcITY 2X

zERO EScAPE: VIRTuE’S LAST REWARD 5

2

SORcERY

HEARTHSTONE: HEROES OF WARcRAFT 5

PAPERS PLEASE jaNuary 2017

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S u L k

R O a D S

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Wh a T

c O v E R

3

G O D

4

E v i L E S T

6 7

S W a T c h

S p L i n T

8

D i n n E R

9

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E E R i E

DWa R f

G O O

The

GamesmasTer AnAgrAm Quiz Oh tree hell! That’s an anagram for ‘hello there’, and just a little taster of what’s to come in our fantastic anagram quiz. The rules are easy: simply work out which game each of the anagrams above are referring to. To help a little, some of our anagrams contain subtle clues. For instance, ‘opal snot’ would have been for Splatoon had we not used it in this sentence. So hurry and solve them before we give any more away!

Answers: 1. Dark Souls 2. Overwatch 3. Watch Dogs 4. Resident Evil 5. Sea Of Thieves 6. Lego Dimensions 7. Sniper Elite 8. State Of Decay 9. God Of War 10. Spider-Man

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www.twitter.com/gamesmaster


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