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O I R A M ourite v a f ’s aming eviewed! g f o story o Maker r g n i z a ri The am+ Super Ma


STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT Hands-on as we fly the Millennium Falcon!


XBOX ONE FIGHTS BACK Halo 5! Tomb Raider! Crackdown!

Why now is the time to go green



METAL GEAR SOLID V The ultimate review of the epic final act!

on iti et

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“Celebrating 30 years of Super mario has me a touch aflutter” uper Mario Bros was the first game I owned, back when I was knee high to a Goomba, so to celebrate 30 years of the plumber’s Super-flavoured exploits this issue, with an exclusive chat with legendary designer and producer Takashi Tezuka (p48) and a huge review of Super Mario Maker (p50), has me a touch aflutter. Save your smelling salts, though, as our steely special feature over on p22 is enough to fortify the nerves. Halo 5, Quantum Break, Tomb Raider… Xbox One has some real face-melters on the horizon, and we’ve been behind the scenes with all of them. The big names keep on coming, too. Star Wars Battlefront (p26) continues to incite salivation in the GM office whenever we get a crack at it. And we’ve played Dark Souls III (p34) as well! Game on. Enjoy your GM!

eDItor’S CHoICe

competition c om p

Issue 295 / October 2015

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A rare Limited edition Destiny: the taken king ps4! see p83 to enter.

My tOp picks this issue



We’ve only gone and had a go on Dark Souls III. And all these new mechanics are my bread and butter.


All that Mario level doodling in maths textbooks comes good. A huge score awaits within…


As a chap with 17 completions of the first game under his belt, it’s safe to say I’m hyped for MGSV .

Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman – Editor

Get more from your Gm!

Online at

…or subscribe. See page 92 for details.

OctOber 2015


CoveR stoRy

ver story co y co ve or r st

over story c yc ov or er st


over story c yc ov or er st

Only the best games are featured on GM’s cover!

What’s In Your Latest Issue?

ver story co y co ve or r st

staR waRs 26 battlefRont

We take to the skies in all the old favourites, including X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and, yes, the Millennium Falcon! You could say we had a real… Hans on. Sorry. Not sorry.

30 yeaRs of 42 sUpeR maRio

GeaR 60 metal soliD v

If you’ve been around for as long as we have, and then a tad longer, then you know how big a deal this is. The big M’s super birthday was never going to pass quietly in GM towers!

previews 30

Call of DUty: blaCk ops iii


fifa 16


DaRk soUls iii


falloUt 4



Need an excuse to get your mates over for a bout of sofa-shooting? Then get the next COD in your sights. The beautiful game just keeps getting more beautiful, but what’s kicking off pitch-side this season? New mechanics. A new dark fantasy landscape. And, of course, new bosses. We go toe-to-toe with it all.

400 hours of playtime? No level cap? Looks like we might need that nuclear shelter in the GM basement after all. IO Interactive has been quietly working on a game-changing sandbox of murder. We don a bald wig and a suit to get a shifty up close.



After days playing we’ve snuck away from Big Boss’ final foray in guardbothering. Is this the best open world game ever made? Flick on over for the full lowdown.

Reviews 66

Until Dawn


Galak-Z: the Dimensional


eveRyboDy’s Gone to the RaptURe


RaRe Replay


kinG’s QUest

David Cage’s iron grip on the linear QTE story game has finally been lifted, as PS4 gets a unique horror gem. Asteroids was a long old time ago, huh? It’s about time the spacebased rock blaster had an indie jumpstart!

Matt was a wreck after this apocalyptic yarn. All those ’80s references… 30 games in one £20 package? And all from one of Britain’s best developers? Today is a good fur day. We can’t say we saw a reboot of the decades-old classic coming, but this first episode impressed us so much we’ve given it a GM knighthood.

Regulars 06










We love you readers. We love you so much you get a whole section to spurt your thoughts at us each month. We’ve gone all existential in our survival test of The Long Dark. Meanwhile Halo Wars 2 gets announced! We Happy Few sounds and looks like Bioshock with the creepiness turned up. And with drugs. Lots of drugs. Like a bullet of nostalgia fed through a gatling gun of awesome, our old school legend this ish: Commando. Still got your old consoles? Then you might want to have a look at our in-depth delving into the world of modding. A Pikachu Game Boy!

team Gm

Issue 295 / October 2015

Meet The Magazine’s Makers!

Future plc, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA Tel 01225 442244 Fax 01225 732275 Email Web


Editor Matthew Sakuraoka-Gilman Production Editor Robin Valentine Art Editor Sam Freeman


Joe Baker, Louise Blain, Luke Brown, Matt Clapham, Matt Elliott, Duncan Geere, Ben Griffin, Andy Hartup, Leon Hurley, Phil Iwaniuk, Leigh Loveday, Daniella Lucas, Dave Meikleham, John Robertson, Phil Savage, Chris Schilling, Joe Skrebels, Tom Sykes, Sam White, Ben Wilson




Commercial Sales Director Clare Dove Advertising Director Andrew Church Advertising Manager Michael Pyatt Account Manager Steven Pyatt For advertising enquiries please contact Michael Pyatt,



Group Marketing Manager Laura Driffield Marketing Manager Kristianne Stanton

ProduCtion & distribution

Production Controller Fran Twentyman Production Manager Mark Constance Printed in the UK by William Gibbons & Sons Ltd on behalf of Future Distributed by Seymour Distribution Ltd, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT, Tel: 0207 429 4000 Overseas distribution by Seymour International


Trade Marketing Manager Juliette Winyard – 07551 150 984

the most DeDiCateD team in the bUsiness


It’s been all systems go in the build up to a hefty gaming release schedule. Which naturally means all Rocket League lunch breaks have been cut down. At least until Matt figures out how to, you know, win.

UK reader order line & enquiries 0844 848 2852 Overseas reader order line & enquiries +44 (0)1604 251045 Online enquiries Email


International Director Regina Erak, +44 (0)1225 442244 Fax +44 (0)1225 732275)

managEmEnt 1



Content & Marketing Director Charlie Speight Head of Content & Marketing, Film, Music & Games Declan Gough Group Editor-in-Chief Daniel Dawkins Group Art Director Graham Dalzell

FuturE Publishing

Head of Content and Marketing Nial Ferguson Head of Games, Film and Music Declan Gough UK CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne Next issue on sale 8 October 2015

Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman

Not being the man on the ground for our Dark Souls III hands-on nearly broke Matt’s heart in twain. The burdens of being editor, eh? And when Robin suggested he might not get to review it either, we almost had our first case of GM homicide…

Sam Freeman

Sam’s been breaking out his secret photoshopping skills in order to make us all look a bit classier. We verily dub him ‘The Bouffant Filter’ from henceforth. Let’s see how long he can bear it before he turns us all into goat scrotums.

Robin Valentine

Our very own Joker finally got Batman: Arkham Knight working this month after weeks of disappointment and spoilerific eavesdropping avoidance in the office. Still, at least his PC master race credentials remain intact.

A member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations


Jan-Dec 2014

the biG Game finder

Halo 5: Guardians

Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Preview – P22

Preview – P25

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Preview – P38

© Future Publishing Limited 2015. 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).


Life Is Strange: Dark Room

Angry Birds 2

Review– P72

Review – P75

Review – P81



COnTaCT US Email Twitter Facebook officialgamesmaster Web Post GamesMaster, Future, Quay House, the Ambury, bath, bA1 1AU, UK

Waiting game


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the best of your emails, tweets, and carrier pigeon death threats base fanba fan se



se ba

Arkham Knight was a painfully slow download for those opting for an online purchase. Physical media FTW?

of the month

Downloads? Just give us physical copies, reckons Jon


he dilemma of buying a game nowadays isn’t about which one to buy, but how to purchase it. This generation of gaming, especially on current-gen consoles, seems to steer far too heavily (in my opinion) in the direction of digital downloads, and pre-order incentives or additional bonuses. Buying an external hard drive for your console to have all your games available at the click of a button seems great and can be efficient. However, it takes away the whole feel of being a gamer and physically collecting your games, like we did back in the good old days.

When I was younger I used to be proud as I watched my PlayStation 1 game collection build and gain muscle. I still have my copy of Crash Bandicoot and my Pokémon games in all their glory on my shelves. And then you’ve got that feeling when you tear a new game out of the wrapper. Clicking open a box to delve into your next adventure won’t ever be beaten by a downloaded game, it just doesn’t have the same effect. What are your thoughts on the matter, GM? Jon Campbell, email

In 1979 I started my love affair with gaming, and it’s long been a tempestuous relationship. For two years I have been underwhelmed by what current-gen consoles had to offer. And then I finally bought an Xbox One… Well all I can say is, whose bright idea was it to have it have to load the games onto the hard drive? I spent the best part of my childhood having to wait five minutes for each game to load. Now I have to wait hours! Sean Beech, email We can sympathise with where you’re coming from! Still, at least we’re beyond our PS1 and PS2 memory stick juggling woes. Oh, wait… our hard drive is full.

Saturn around

So Microsoft decided to implement backwards compatibility with the Xbox One. A smart and brave move. What I didn’t understand though was the backlash for Sony to do the same with the PS4. As an avid gamer, I firmly believe that retaining a console is a good thing. I once got rid of my Sega Saturn and I regretted it so much that my fiancée got me another one for christmas. Having it lined up next to a PS1, PS2, PS3, and a Gamecube on our media station looks great. Selling any of those other consoles – or games – now won’t cross my mind. Jimmi Cottam, email We do love our console collections, but it’s just not practical for everyone. Trading in old machines is a great way to make up the cost of a new one. Also, just thinking about all the wires a full set-up needs makes us shudder.

Getting an Inkling

I’m different. I’m the guy who chooses to play as Wii Fit trainer in Smash, or as

It seems a little unfair on buyers to have to pick between different bonuses instead of being able to get all of them. We also love a good collector’s edition, and seeing our own displays of physical copies is a delight. But the growth of downloads has made it easier for us to get our hands on games that would normally be hard to find in shops, or try out games we wouldn’t normally pick up. n


Got an opinion? Have even the barest grasp of words and how to put them together? the best letter bags a free mystery game!* But without the common usage of downloads you might miss out on awesome little gems such as Rocket League.


OctOber 2015

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


COlleCTOr COrner


Show us your shelves of gaming glory! This month: Martyn Newton, email Not content to have just one impressive collection, Martyn has two to show off. “One is the current-gen collection, the other is last-gen,” he tells us. “totalling around 430 games plus various other gaming merchandise, the rarest item is probably Phantasy Star II.” Not only that, but we spy a burgeoning Amiibo collection there too. Not planning on ever removing them from the boxes and having a little play? the temptation must be unbearable… Think you can do better? Perhaps you’ve got an even rarer game than Martyn? Send us your pics! n I’m concerned, and quite honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had as a gamer was getting my hands on an Xbox controller; talk about fitting like a glove. So no, this will not be the last generation of console. technically that was the generation before online multiplayer. this is simply the dawning of a new era, of a marriage between Pc and console that will some day result in a machine that will blow everyone’s mind. the only thing that’s going to be phased out is the contempt that console and Pc gamers hold towards one another. Ross Cruikshank, email

“I’m DIfferent. I’m the guy who pIcks wII fIt traIner In smash’’ Scientist (b) in Goldeneye. I never used to understand why I had this innate need to stand out; perhaps it was just subconscious attention seeking. When I picked up Splatoon a few weeks after launch, I was presented with even more ways to show my individuality. Within a few days, not only was I a snorkel-wearing squid-hipster wielding the most obscure ink flinging implement I could find, but I also had a revelation: I noticed that most players were using the same weapons, making online matches seem repetitive at times. And then it hit me. My need to be different was fuelled by a need to upset the established norms. I wanted to prove that there are other effective weapons,

and give my opponents a new perspective on the game and possibly even life. I encourage any who read this to be different and shake up people’s strategies. Stick it to the Man/Squid! Samuel Jego, email What do you do when people start following in your footsteps? Stick with it, or swap things around again?

Console yourself

consoles being phased out? I don’t think so. As I see it, consoles and Pcs are slowly but surely being merged, as evidenced from the wonders that the Xbox One can perform. What’s really missing? A keyboard and mouse as far as

PC and consoles are becoming increasingly similar (you can even use a mouse and keyboard on console now), but they still offer enough differences for them to coexist for a long time to come. The great thing about consoles is that you don’t need to upgrade them all of the time to keep up, you always know what you’re getting. Then again, you can just keep on tinkering or modding things with a PC to customise things exactly how you want them. We’re just happy that there are enough different approaches to get everyone into gaming. n

rico returns to the charts and Mario follows suit. but bethesda’s open world rPG shall not be moved…


faLLouT 4

Format PS4, XO, PC Out 10 November Top of the wish list again – it seems no one can wait to explore the wasteland with a faithful doggy pal…


JusT causE 3

Format PS4, XO, PC Out 1 December We can’t blame you lot for wanting to catch some sun this winter by taking a trip to Medici. Pack a medkit.


assassin’s cREEd syndicaTE

Format PS4, XO, PC Out 23 October Maybe it’s the top hats that have got you excited? Or maybe it’s because Evie is looking totally badass?


supER MaRio MakER

Format Wii U Out 11 September The prospect of an infinite supply of homemade Mario levels is just too exciting for anyone to ignore.


off ThE chaRT!

behold, the multi-coloured pie of chat 14% best uses of PS4’s Share button 22% Will the Warcraft film live up to the games? 34% the best looking games of all time 20% Using multiple drinks mats 10% choosing new Destiny guns


Format PS4, XO, PC Out 2016 Maybe it’s our bloodlust talking, but there’s nothing quite like using a chainsaw to split a demon’s face in two.

OctOber 2015


fanbasE you love ga mes me ga e v

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ove games yo ul ul yo

YOU lOve GameS

Wisdom and weirdness from our bustling social media channels

Destiny should have been named “Profit” – that’s the only part of the game the developers care about.


cool stuff and videogame culture



ove games yo ul ul yo o

Braden Burgess, Facebook

get in on the Bake Off is back, so why not r biscuits asau Bulb own r you ing mak action by on Etsy. kies Coo Star from er cutt with this

TOP TUBER nya Belousova YouTube pianist So performance ve ssi pre puts on an im shaped like a no pia e on this incredibl oller stool. ntr co NES, complete with

In Batman: Arkham Knight, I stopped the Batmobile at such an immense speed it toppled off a bridge and a bad guy happened to be walking under at the wrong time. Daniel Climo, Facebook

Maniac of ThE MonTh!

Loving my free coasters with this month’s GamesMaster! A man chooses to park his brew atop a Big Daddy. Sam Bridgett, @sambridgett


We’ve seen some great videogame art in our tim e, but never did we think to put it on a skateboar d. User not_thenorm on Ins tagram is way ahead of us with this fantastic Earthb ound deck.

Want to brighten up your home? Then grab these pixelated flowers from Think Geek. Just make sure that fire flower isn’t too close to anything flammable.

This one is for all the MinecraftMasters out there. Now you can be prepared for anything, thanks to this set of tool earrings by TheCraftapplePanda on Etsy.

Leave Ellie and Joel out? Bad idea, what’s the point in new characters when their chemistry was so good? We need to know what happened next! Adam Ssz Lugia, Facebook

Good Egg Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy would make a great crazy golf course, actually – try to hit the ball into the star launcher while avoiding the black hole. Jake Parr, Facebook

I would love an amphibious vehicle in GTA. It would be awesome speeding down the Fort Zancudo runway in a hovercraft, and then just driving off the edge into the sea. Louis Gardner, Facebook


OctOber 2015

10 deep burn Dogs and cats are pants – dragons are the best pet going, and Scalebound is here to prove it.

War Of The IndependenTs The victor in this console conflict isn’t Sony or Microsoft – it’s us

The fence sITTers (buT WhaT a fence!)

Feeling greedy? Then look forward to these outstanding games coming to both consoles

Space sandbox Starbound is confirmed for Xbox One’s Game Preview – but should land on PS4 eventually, too.



Multiplayer riot Super Dungeon Bros hits four genres: puzzler, fighter, platformer, and friendship-ruiner.

Kickstarter-funded action-RPG Hyper Light Drifter looks mind-blowingly beautiful in motion.

16 snow joke

18 War zone

19 hell shocked

He may have bested the dinosaurs of Ark, but can our reporter survive a trip into The Long Dark?

Double jumps, wings, and demonic transformations – is this WOW’s coolest new class yet?

That’s right, there’s a new Halo game coming – though we bet you won’t be able to guess what it is…

Ashen looks relaxing like Journey, yet as profound as Shadow Of The Colossus – and it’s exclusive to Xbox.

R 1

ight back to the early ’90s, console wars have been fought using big names. Sonic vs Mario. Cloud vs Zelda. Drake vs Master Chief. The decline of the triple-A exclusive, however, is causing platform holders to turn instead to the little guys of gaming. With Sony and Microsoft newly focused on innovation and value, indie gaming’s future has never looked so bright – as demonstrated by the gems below, our pick of the best independent games coming to your console of choice…


Imagine the golden years of Castlevania, with customisation, procedurallygenerated levels and… yep, that’s the ‘excitement overload’ face we made too.


To Leave




Night In The Woods

One-of-a-kind 2D puzzler by South American studio Freaky Creations, which tasks you with escaping an imposing cityscape by riding around on… a magic blue door.


Burning Question What’s your all-time favourite independent game?

hotline Miami

Top music, the ’80’s, neon, and lots of action. Paul Davis, @Mr_PaulDavis91


It really changed my view on gaming, and broadened my mind to trying out more indies. Thomas Conneely, Facebook Visit officialgamesmaster and www.twitter. com/gamesmaster to take part in next issue’s burning questions.

This seamless marriage of 16-bit visuals and isometric viking action should entrance RPG votaries new and old – just be warned that it’s difficult like time travelling to 11th Century Oslo.

Adventure game starring a nimble feline in a world pulled straight from a 1970s kids’ storybook – but the beautiful visuals mask a bleak narrative.



A side-scrolling run-and-gunner that hilariously lampoons American hyper-masculinity by serving up nefarious ‘foreign’ bosses and other ’80s movie cliches.


Thimbleweed Park

Pixellated point-and-click from genre master Ron Gilbert, whose murder-mystery storyline offers satirical nods to Twin Peaks and The X-Files.


Knight Squad




Worms WMD



This top-down, powered-up result of a Speedball-GauntletBomberman threesome delivers all your retro Christmases in one resplendent package.

Soothing and unnerving all at once, Aurora 44’s RPG has you forming relationships with other players while fending off beasties in a handsome open world.

Ride-able vehicles sound cool, but the real draw here is seeing British studio Team 17 going back to the future, with these invertebrates playing like your yesteryear faves.

A gorgeous hand-inked platformer, whose lead character has a straw sticking out of his bonce. Barmy run-and-gunning and a grainy 1930s-style visual filter should make it a winner.



One Man and his dragOn


Scalebound is a lizard-based buddy story – and Platinum’s most ambitious game yet


2 3

This is Drew. He looks a bit like Ninja Theory’s Dante, and like the DMC star he has something of an attitude problem – but maybe you would too if you were transported to another world.




Draconis is shaped by ‘pulse energy’, which Platinum has said is a bit like the Force. It’s why these islands are floating. Reminder: land masses aren’t supposed to do that, outside of Avatar.


This place is known as the Grassland, for presumably obvious reasons. It’s a verdant stretch of world that reminds us of Xenoblade – hopefully it will be just as ripe for exploration.


Co-op’s in, for up to four players at once. At the end of the demo, another Drew appeared, sporting Kamiya’s Gamertag, suggesting we’ll be playing multiples of the same character.


The Big PicTure

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Drew’s arsenal includes swords, explosive arrows, and sticky mines, and he can summon a suit of scaly armour.



The hoTTesT shoT of The gaming monTh! g picture th e bi eb th

“With White hair and dragon blood, he’s basically dany from game of thrones”




Burning Question What would you do with a real-life pet dragon?

give it a job

I’d take it to work. See that dragon? He’s the complaints manager. Andrew, @Halo1nine

Thuban is an intuiging creature, evoking The Last Guardian’s adorable cat-eagle thing, and the transforming dragons of the Panzer Dragoon series. Also: fire.


Open a restaurant Make him grill meat, of course, and sell it for a mint because it’s dragon-roasted. Shane Byrne, Facebook Visit officialgamesmaster and www.twitter. com/gamesmaster to take part in next issue’s burning questions.

latinum Games is proving to be one of the most adaptable developers in the business, flitting with impresive ease between beat-'em-ups, shooters, space adventures, and whatever the hell The Wonderful 101 was. With its action-RPG combat, four-player co-op, and enormous dragon buddy, Scalebound is proving equally difficult to pin down. One thing is clear though: this is shaping up to be the studio’s biggest game yet. The game tells the story of wise-cracking loner Drew, who travels from our Earth to the fantasy world of Draconis (with his headphones and an MP3 player in tow). Once there, he teams up with a friendly dragon named Thuban, who, like Sean Connery’s Celtic firebreather in Dragonheart, appears to be the last of his kind. Sad times. If you’ve noticed Drew’s alarmingly scaly arm, that’s because he finds himself scalebound to the creature – if one dies, the other will croak as well. Director Hideki Kamiya has said that he’s always loved dragons, and as such Thuban is the focus of the game.

While you can’t control the beast directly, you can issue him simple commands; the rest of his actions are dictated by his A.I. The pair’s bond allows Drew to heal the dragon, to scan enemies and unleash a blast of energy, to transform himself into a freaky human-dragon hybrid, and even to fly around on him later in the game. With his white hair and dragon blood, he’s basically Daenerys from Game Of Thrones.

Dragon’s den

While Drew is a set character – and so far a bit of an annoying one – Thuban can be customised visually, and made into a more effective killing machine with the aid of magical gems. Dragon Age, Dark Souls, and decades of bad fantasy novels have given flying, fire-breathing monsters a bed rep – Scalebound seems like an attempt to restore their standing, by making you feel attached to its scaly behemoth. The initial gameplay showing was a bit technically shaky, the combat surprisingly slight given the studio’s pedigree, but we still have a ways to go before the game releases in late 2016. Even with its (currently) rough edges, this has the potential to be something special – we just hope Platinum’s verve shows through. n




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Good MorninG VietnaM

2K’s organised crime sandbox embraces the 1960s for its third instalment


o long, Empire Bay, and thanks for all the murders, wiseguys, and authentic ’50s detail. Mafia III is here, and it moves the family business from the series’ fictionalised New York analogue to a slightly less fictionalised New Orleans (they got to use the real name this time). Despite this, 2K is describing it as a “reimagined” version of the city – so they’ll still have a little leeway to mix things up. With the new setting comes a shift in time, from the 1940s and ’50s to precisely 1968, when the US was still (just about)

the biG debate This month we ask the question… What’s the perfect level of difficulty? 14


engaged in the Vietnam war. You’re Lincoln Lee, a veteran of the conflict who returns home to make something of himself in the swampy Southern city. For a time, he finds a place within the local ‘black mob’, but after a violent encounter with the Italian mafia leaves his new family all but wiped out, Lee vows brutal revenge on the rival syndicate. All of which means you’ll get to build your own powerful criminal empire, and take on

the mob you were an integral part of in the first two games.

Mob rule

Your underdog venture will come to “transform” New Orleans, which at the start of the game is firmly under the mafia’s grip. Lee will ally with other shady groups to achieve his murderous goals, including protagonist of the previous game Vito Scaletta’s Italian sect, Irish

“you’ll get to build your own criminal empire, and take on the italian mafia”

gangster Burke and his crew, and Cassandra, who controls the Haitian mob. It’s rare for a game to feature ethnic minorities in the lead roles, and rarer still for the game world to reflect that fact on a meaningful level, but Mafia III seems unflinching in this regard. The footage we’ve seen featured some seriously thought-provoking encounters, and showed pedestrians hurling racist abuse at the African-American Lincoln. We’re promised a “dynamic” narrative that responds to your actions, but we’re skeptical about whether that means true branching paths or not. We do know we’re intrigued, though: the setting alone is enough to get us more interested than we have been in the series in years. n

the dev

the critic

the fan

Hideteka Miyazaki Director, Dark Souls III

Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman Editor

Adam Wiper GM Reader

For me it’s about level designs where the player almost gets killed, but ultimately makes it through and overcomes the difficulties – that’s something I wants to let players experience during my game.

A game can be harder than a walrus hide if it wants, so long as it inspires some kind of story. I’m not talking about narrative, but the juicy anecdotes about the time you beat that impossible boss or finally cracked that impassable level.

Done right, difficulty can be a challenge you strive to conquer. Done lazily, it’s cheap and infuriating. Games are ultimately meant to be fun, and make you feel empowered, not stress you out and feel like a chore.


take aim

your eyes only…

Rumours to keep under your hat – also, buy a hat

“Games that have stuck with me have limits, just like the real world does” Open worlds have their place, but they’re no substitute for good level design and a truly handcrafted setting, says Tom Sykes


on-linear platformer Wonder Boy III was the first game to make me feel like I was in a world rather than a collection of levels. I’ve been hooked on that feeling ever since. Every time an open-world game is announced, my mind races at the possibilities – but the results too often let me down. Assassin’s Creed: Unity,

Skyrim: I was engrossed in these worlds for an afternoon or two, before my spirit was broken by a billion meaningless objectives. You don’t feel grounded in these environments in a coherent and satisfying way; you’re a janitor cleaning up exclamation marks, sweeping across areas that are all surface and no depth. The games that have stuck with me, the likes of Bloodborne and Akrham Asylum, have limits. They have impassable obstacles, just like our universe does. Their

“my spirit’s been broken by meaningless objctives”

environments have meaning because they’ve been handcrafted by a designer, who with every unscaleable wall and tantalising collectible is subtly guiding us through a carefully constructed space. This should make these places feel more gamey, and less authentic, but I think it often has the opposite effect – much of the real world is like this too. Think of how we’re funnelled down city streets, and manipulated by supermarket layouts into buying things we don’t need. I still love open worlds, and I think they’re a great setting for many genres. But as more and more games treat it as a default feature, I hope the vital and valuable art of level design isn’t lost in the process. n


Clean up your act


Quest wishes


bungie jump


nX in line

Konami sounds like a terrible place to work, if Japanese financial paper Nikkei is to be believed. Devs deemed “useless” have apparently been given humiliating new jobs, including as janitors at the company’s health clubs.

When Dragon Quest XI was announced, it was for PS4, 3DS, and Nintendo’s mysterious NX, making it the console’s first confirmed game. Square Enix has downplayed it, suggesting that it’s only being “considered”.

The Destiny developer has put up a job listing for a ‘PC compatibility tester’, suggesting the currently console-only shooter may be about to get a port . That is, unless they’re working on something entirely new…

stats MaGiC The gaming month in facts and figures


Number of subscribers, in millions, WOW shed between the end of March and June. It still has 5.6 million, however.

1,000 220

Amount in dollars that speedrunner pannenkoek20012 is offering to anyone who can recreate a time-saving Super Mario 64 glitch. The bug occurred by accident during a livestream by fellow runner DOTA_Teabag.

Cost, in pounds, of Rock Band 4 with guitar and drums in the UK – £60 more than the US price. Boo!

Nintendo has filed a patent for a console without an optical disc drive, which has led some to speculate that this could be a portent of an entirely digital NX system. Stuff gets patented all the time, so it’s not conclusive, mind.



20 minutes

Okay, try again . But I need prior ities: firstly, don’t The only thing be a dick. Seco staying in the sa ndly, keep mov me place gets this time I’m sp ing. you is colder an awned on a ro d hungrier. Brilli ad, with nothing shot, so I pick lef an tly, bu t tre t and head off. es and snow in It’s not long be sight. It’s a 50/5 grateful surpris fore I see a dista 0 e, the place is a nt roof, and to my goldmine: food but see what yo , a tin opener, wa u drink when th te r (fr e om alt ernative’s deat There’s enough the toilet, h) and furniture to keep me go ing for a while, for firewood. up and set out but it’s not going for another ho to last long, so use I spy in the I load distance.

utes it clear that mother nature hates a smart arse. I start off 10 minmp t makes How hard

My first atte dam and a dead deer. right by a hydroelectric the deer’s feeling cocky because I’m plies right here? Except d and a building full of sup foo with de, be, l insi viva I’m le sur can goes down whi ’s empty. Worse, the sun es finding a frozen solid and the dam use three precious match to me ing forc and ss , thirsty, gry hun I’m – plunging me into darkne perate and things are already des d out into the hea I way out. I’ve barely started ice, cho er oth no h of use around. Wit cold, and there’s nothing minutes. Ah. death in a railcar within to ze free I re whe st, fore


If you go Into the woods today… What are the chances of a survival amateur outlasting the Long Dark?

T 16

here are no zombies in this apocalypse – just the cold, the search for food, and wolves. The idea is simple: stay alive. Find supplies, search out shelter, and put off the inevitable as long as possible in a frozen wasteland, with no rescue in sight and no second chances. What could possibly go wrong for our scrappy survivalist? n


35 minutes

Along the way, I pass a frozen body that no longer needs its axe, so I grab that and head to the second house as the light fails. It’s the same situation – a short term haul of goods, but nothing sustaining. I try to head out again, but a snowstorm cuts visibility to nothing, forcing me back inside. A second attempt to leave the cabin ends in a disastrous wolf attack. I fight the animal off, but the list of problems it causes is the beginning of the end – all my clothing is ruined, I’ve sprained a wrist and an ankle, and I’m losing blood. I manage to limp to a small shack and light a fire, but ultimately die in my sleep. As afternoon’s go this is… thought provoking.

ing utesvery lucky, or the game takes pity on mffe,evaserIywstahertreat–afohuodnt, 40 min r stu go is eithe t to and there’s

to ge My third combat knife phere is starting thing I see is a ly bleak atmos ss rnful tle ou m len lodge. The first d re e an s, Th ing y-made snare. , creaking build nd wi find u of d yo un supplies, a read en e so e, especially wh so lonely, just th s you of ertingly moros nc ind me though – it’s co m re dis e is m t ga fec pany. The ef hing about this ys of music for com st a tree. Everyt I have a few da body leant again n to live is strong. ze ge fro r ur y he m ot ly an n. en pla dd st su t be e bu th h, t of deat d figure ou the inevitability things slow an – it’s time to take supplies at least

smaLL comForts

In a fight with the cold, you don’t need guns… Tin opener It’s no exaggeration to say that the first time we found one of these metal beauties, there was a fist pump. Without it you’re left smashing cans open with your bare hands, or hacking at them with a tool. It’s possible to still be in trouble with a bag full of tinned food, because of the mess and loss involved in opening them without one.


1 hour

of a field. If I . There are rabbits on the other side One of my biggest assets is the snare y the purif and snow melt also with that can can catch them, there’s a stove to cook learned in my last I trick her Anot tion. situa e inabl water. I’m in a potentially susta cabin to repair clothes, so I head back to the playthrough is that cloth can be used stuff I’m not wearing. The spare some and ins curta the ding and set about shred warmth ravaging the cold is, any increase in improvements are small, but given how s from snare new make to how me n has show is a boon. A crafting bench in the cabin bility. I’m going to survive! possi a also are s arrow and bows sticks and animal guts;

Without matches, there’s no fire, and without fire you’ll freeze, especially if you can’t find shelter. You always start with a box, and they’re not that hard to find, but you’ll sometimes start in the middle of nowhere during a blizzard, meaning your mastery over flame can be the deciding factor between seeing another morning, or an untimely death.

Nice warm clothes The elements are harsh, and freezing conditions mean your body temperature can fall dangerously low even indoors, while windchill will see hypothermia set in rapidly if you try and go outside in a storm. Finding a good coat and a warm scarf is a literal game changer, and shredding curtains and old socks to patch stuff up is a vital skill.

1 hour 10 minutes

Life falls into a routine. During the days, I set the trap, collect wood, and explore. At night, I sleep out the bitter winds. Wolves wander past occasionally but don’t approach. The cabin rests in a small dip with four clear paths, so I look as far into each as I can. There’s a problem though: even with repairs, my clothing just isn’t up to the weather. Each time I leave, my temperature drops fast, until I’m forced back by the threat of hypothermia. Travelling through nooks and behind rocks can help eliminate windchill, but I’m still in trouble. I’ve got food and water, but am I trapped here?

tWo hours

It’s the end. It’s night, I’m still hypothermic, but the re’s no food or fire and, bec my calorie count is so low ause , I can’t even sleep, as the re’s no guarantee I’d wak choice is either lie down e up. The and let it happen, or face The Long Dark on my own light up a torch and head terms. I out, intent on walking unt il I die, but the game has cruel twists left to play. Ove a few r the hill I could never qui te reach before (when livin a priority) I find shacks and g was supplies, not enough to make a difference now, but massive insult on what am still a ounts to my own funera l march. I walk on. There’s turn of the knife, chilling one last ly reflecting real life accoun ts of survival. After more wandering, near to death, I see a building in the dist anc e. There’s a glimmer of hop – food? Maybe firewood? e No. It’s the cabin again. I’ve walked full circle. The scre blurs, it gets harder to see en , and I die on the steps of the place I tried to leave.

FinaL report

1 hour 30 minutes

guts strewn I’ve settled into my ‘home’ quite well, though there are rabbit hides and even a about, admittedly, for curing. Soon I’ll be able to make another snare, and my all smashed I wood. is: else g somethin but now, concern bow. Food isn’t a how far I furniture long ago, and the firewood outside is dwindling. The cold limits desperate, I can forage, and every day there are fewer branches to burn. Eventually, point. tipping the It’s ia. hypotherm catch and safe… is push out further than I know Stuck in Unless I stay inside for 24 hours, my strength will drop, further limiting me. rabbit raw. the cabin, I light increasingly small fires to cook, eventually eating my last

Leon Hurley, Executive News Editor, GamesRadar+ I don’t think I’ve ever played anything quite as poetically bleak as The Long Dark. It starts as a simple survival exercise – find stuff, keep all the stats in the green, explore, rinse, repeat. But there’s an oppressive, barren melancholy that wears you down and gets inside your head. The sound of the wind and creaking structures forces a sense of isolation into your bones; it’s as disconcerting as it is haunting. It’s basically survival horror, but all the more unpleasant without monsters or scares, because with those distractions absent, the only thing left is wondering how you’ll die, and understanding that it’s ‘when’ not ‘if’. All those lonely, unknown bodies you find in games like The Last Of Us? This is how they got there.



This, obviously, is the bad guy. Unless you choose to play as the Covenant, in which case he’s the hero. Decisions!

Ensemble made sure Spartans were the coolest unit in the original game, and that’s unlikely to change here.

state of the rts Halo Wars 2 makes an unexpected return


ack in 2004, Microsoft asked Age Of Empires dev Ensemble to make a Halo RTS, and the result – five years later – worked far better than anyone dared hope. The studio achieved the unthinkable, creating a truly controller-friendly strategy game (although it failed to inspire imitators, as many had hoped). With Ensemble closing after Halo Wars’ release, Creative Assembly has stepped up to the plate to develop a surprise sequel, announced at this year’s Gamescom. It’s called Halo Wars 2, obviously, and it’s coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One



next autumn. Details are currently thin on the ground, but 343 Industries’ early teases show a desperate battle between a squad of Spartans and a group of Covenant brutes, who are – quite frankly – wiping the floor with the heroic warriors. At the end, an energy-hammerwielding bad guy turns up to taunt the soldiers, and he looks a lot like Halo 2’s jerk villain Tartarus. As he’s not terribly alive at the end of that game, that could make Halo Wars 2 another prequel.

Flood warnings

What else can we expect? Well, more isometric strategising, certainly – this is a tough genre to control from any other viewpoint. While the original Wars only featured two playable factions – the

UNSC and the Covenant – we suspect Creative Assembly will be chucking in more for this follow-up. The Flood are an obvious choice, and one that would handle very differently, but depending on the timeline, Halo 4’s robotic Prometheans are an option too. Hopefully, the Total War dev team will carry over its knack for creating large-scale battles featuring ridiculous numbers of units. While specifics are scarce, possibilities remain abundant. n

Top of our wish list are epic spaceship battles. Naval combat would be a compelling twist for the series too.


Burning Question What’s the best ever alien species in videogames?


They’re just huge, awesome walking tanks! “I am Krogan!” Katie Stubbs, @katieee120


Are ToeJam & Earl the same species? If so, them. Because they’re funking brilliant. deKay, @deKay01 Visit officialgamesmaster and www.twitter. com/gamesmaster to take part in next issue’s burning questions.

“a desperate battle between a squad of spartans and a group of covenant brutes”

Class Order Halls provide a shareable new area to gather, much like Draenor’s Garrisons, only not quite so lonely.

Warcraft’s level cap rises to 110 here. Put that in your ornate pipe and smoke it.

The numbers of The beasT Sixth expansion to give Blizzard’s seminal MMO a leg up


egion, the latest World Of Warcraft add-on, has been revealed – and signals the return of Azeroth’s old enemy, the Burning Legion. The demonic horde is back for a fresh stab at conquering both Alliance and Horde, and it’ll take another banding together of disparate races to stem the tide. Thankfully, while that sounds familiar for long-time players, there’s lots more which is totally fresh. For starters there’s a new hero class, the Demon Hunter, inspired by the returning lore-ific villain Illidan Stormrage (he’s the chap pictured, with horns and an urgent need for medicinal eye drops). With a pair of head adornments and a melee-focused bent, the Illidari will be the first Warcraft-ians with the ability to

double jump. Oh, and they can transform into hellspawn, too. Sign us up.

Art attacks

The continent of The Broken Isles also makes way for new dungeons and raids, including a jaunt through the Emerald Nightmare, which packs seven bosses. An Honour system aims to fix the fudgy PvP of Draenor, and to separate PvP from PvE, while the floating city of Dalaran makes a return as a neutral hub where Horde and Alliance can chill side by side. (In theory.) A major new innovation is Artifact Weapons. There’ll be 36 to discover, including famous relics such as Doomhammer and Ashbringer, and they’re fully customisable, with in-game quests unlocking new colours and appearances. Subscriber numbers may be dwindling and it’s visually creaking at the seams, but the MMO daddy has tricks up its sleeve yet. n


Burning Question What’s your all-time favourite awesome videogame weapon?


A machine gun with a chainsaw attached can only mean madness. Conor Devlin, @BLaZEKiiNG


It kills just about everything – and I love the look on Doomguy’s face when he picks it up! Barry Carlyon, @BarryCarlyon

Visit officialgamesmaster and www.twitter. com/gamesmaster to take part in next issue’s burning questions.

“the demon hunter class can double jump and transform into hellspawn. sign us up” OCTOBER 2015


big news mAster plAnet Can’t wait for Mass Effect 4? You’re in luck, as enormo space-sim Elite: Dangerous is about to take a few cues from Bioware with a new expansion. The aptly named Planetary Landings will let players “seamlessly” touch down on atmosphere-less planets and moons, to explore, mine, and fight using a handy recon vehicle.

The latest Disney film to crash head-first into the glorious mash-up world of Kingdom Hearts 3 is robotic superhero romp Big Hero 6. We’ve not seen gameplay yet, but released art shows Sora riding Baymax (!) and jousting with his Keyblade against a shadowy Heartless copy of the friendly android.

toAd rAge Just when we think Killer Instinct couldn’t get any weirder, they add a shapeshifting amphibian-man. That’s right, you can now bash heads as Rash from Battletoads – as long as you’ve bought any piece of previous KI DLC, or the Rare Replay collection. That’s all well and good, but when do we get Conker?

necessAry evil You demanded it, and now, finally, it’s actually happening – Capcom is officially developing a remake of Resident Evil 2, following an outpouring of enthusiasm for the idea on its Facebook page. Your voices have been heard! It’s even invited the creators of popular but now defunct fan project ‘RE2: Reborn’ to come lend a helping hand.

Win Lose Topping the leaderboard this issue

yoU yoU

No, we don’t want to continue thanks

A reAl drAg Square Enix has announced the hugely exciting Dragon Quest XI for PS4 and 3DS, but it’s not sure if it’ll bring the gorgeous JRPG to us here in the west. It all depends on the sales of Dynasty Warriors-style spin-off DQ Heroes, apparently. We’re still waiting on the Wii U’s DQX, though that seems less likely with each passing day.



Ashes to Ashes It’s one of the year’s most bungled Kickstarters, but Mega Man Legends spiritual successor Red Ash is still going ahead. Developer Comcept has received external funding for the game, something it wasn’t particularly upfront about during the campaign. In related bad news, Comcept’s Mighty No. 9 has been delayed to next year.

lost souls Twitch users may have beaten Pokémon, but they’ve bitten off more than they can chew this time – they’re trying to play Dark Souls. With everyone in the chat barking different orders, they’ve spent more time attacking the walls than foes. They’ve even started cheating – pausing the game every few seconds to vote on the next action.

time wAster Time’s story about virtual reality caught the world’s attention recently, largely thanks to its bizarre cover, which shows Oculus founder Palmer Luckey titting about against a poorly photoshopped beach backdrop. Despite the positivity of the actual words within, this feels like another unnecessary blow to VR’s chances of mainstream acceptance.


Ball saints 11/09


Make My day

east Mode

What better way to celebrate ol’ tache-face’s 30th than with Super Mario Maker, out today?

Scrum enthusiasts of england rejoice as the IrL rugby World cup 2015 commences.

time for a serving of red-hot Japanese gaming news out of tokyo Game Show.

The To do lisT


goal in one

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

FIFA 16 arrives – and hopefully isn’t an elaborate bribery simulator.




toy zone rev your engine and make space on your shelf; Skylanders: Superchargers is here.


Reunion touR

Block woRk build a better tomorrow (with batman and Gandalf) in Lego Dimensions.

soul again

Dust off those plastic guitars for the return of a music legend – rock band 4 is out today.

Summon yourself a copy of GamesMaster’s fantastical latest issue, on sale now.


Six big releases headed to a format near you…


Assassin’s creed syndicate Format PS4, XO, PC Out 23 October



halo 5: guardians Format XO Out 27 October


call of duty: Black ops iii

Format PS4, XO, PC, PS3, 360 Out 6 November


Rise of The Tomb Raider

Format XO, 360 Out 10 November


Fallout 4

Format PS4, XO, PC Out 10 November

star Wars Battlefront Format PS4, XO, PC Out 20 November

OctOber 2015


Preview Future Hits Played Now!

Oh, you thought Microsoft was down and out? How wrong you were. Xbox One has come back swinging, and it’s hitting hard – with a fresh arsenal of explosive exclusives, it’s the underdog no more. Don’t believe us? Just look at what’s coming up for the big black box…



Format XO Publisher Microsoft Developer 343 Industries Out 27 October

added moreish, competitive edge.

Laser town

Chief masters new tricks in this tantalising upheaval


very shooter of distinction owes something to Halo, whether it’s crunching melee attacks, ricocheting grenades, or regenerating health. It seems only fair that Master Chief should take something back. The new Warzone mode does exactly that. Superficially, it’s a chunkier Big Team Battle, with two teams of ten fighting for control of designated zones. Once your crew controls those zones, you can strike directly at the opposition to finish them off. That might sound duller than a Spartan gongoozling club,

but it’s merely the framework beneath a more interesting concept. Each level is alive with AI enemies, offering additional ways to build your score and win the game. Forerunner bots are everywhere, begging for your bullets, and crackling headset updates warn you when boss characters are about to appear; legendary, computer-controlled baddies who can soak up serious gunishment. Killing them offers a massive boost to your score, but it’s a precarious challenge. Time it wrong and your opponents can sweep in at the last minute and steal the kill. If you’re sat there thinking, ‘well, that all sounds a bit like Destiny’, award yourself a space biscuit. It’s exactly like that, but with an

“do you buy a plasma pistol, or save up for something that belongs on a tank?”

As you capture bases you earn resources, used to buy beefy weapons and vehicles. The more you can accumulate, the more lethal the kit you can get. It starts off with familiar stuff such as shotguns and sniper rifles, with the preposterously powerful Spartan Laser taking the top spot. It’s also a showcase for some mighty new vehicles: aircraft which can steadily rain down incendiary death, and chunky armoured walkers. It feels very un-Halo-y at first, but the measured delivery of dangerous goodies adds a fascinating sense of escalation and progression. Do you splosh your points on a lowly plasma pistol, or save up for something that belongs on a tank? (It’s the second one, obviously). We saw more than just multiplayer, too. A hands-off single-player demo showcased the shiny new team-based campaign, with Master Chief or Spartan Locke joined by three faithful companions. Each one has different skills and weapons; you can take your pick if you’re joining another player for co-op, otherwise the AI takes control. Combat has the weighty thud of previous Halo games, but it’s delivered at a brisker pace. Squad commands also come into play – you can tag tougher enemies, leaving

you to knock grunts about like stale buns kicked across a supermarket floor. Halo 5 has a difficult task: keep the series hardcore happy, while still adding enough new stuff to stay relevant. The whooping, botty-slapping Spartan dudebros of the beta are thankfully gone, but this remains a rapid, modern rejig of a proven concept. Some might sigh at the prospect of yet another fight with the Covenant, but Warzone is proof that 343 Industries isn’t too proud to learn from its younger, leaner competitors. n Matt Elliott

Instant Reaction THRILL-o-meTeR

Single-player still feels familiar, but Warzone adds the things to multiplayer you never knew Halo needed.



Preview Eyes-on with Future Hits!

Format XO Publisher Microsoft Developer Remedy Out April 2016

Time for something completely different


emedy is used to giving facelifts. Just as Max Payne famously swapped his fizzog from developer Sam Lake to actor Timothy Gibbs, Quantum Break no longer resembles what we saw at E3 2014. Shawn Ashmore has taken over hero-face duties – he’s the one from X-Men who looks like a handsome owl pellet – and Aiden Gillan, famous for being in everything, steps in as enigmatic, time-bothering villain Paul Serene. This bold change underpins everything new in the game. Accurately describing Quantum Break is tricky. It’s a story-driven cover shooter with an emphasis on bending time, which is a dusty way of saying the world will probably end unless you freeze-o-run behind bad guys then time-kick them up

24 28


the bumhole. We saw hero Jack Joyce throw out ‘time blasts’, focussed breaks in reality which pin enemies in place, as well as ‘time stops’ which let him effortlessly avoid incoming bullets.

Bernard’s overwatch

It certainly looks fun, if not exactly revolutionary. Early enemies seemed easy pickings, but tougher foes with similar abilities to Jack soon appeared, offering a sterner challenge. One particularly nice touch was that when enemies die – or, more accurately, lose their ability to function in the stuttering

time rift – they remain frozen in the same spot you disabled them. But more interesting is the use of these continuity-warping effects outside of combat. Entire areas decay before you, and fallen objects fly back to their places. In one impressive sequence, we saw an entire tanker crumble around Jack, with shipping containers and fatigued metal forming a shifting, makeshift assault course. The level of detail is genuinely amazing – more so because it’s numerous moments in time, flowing into each other, all rendered with immaculate detail. No wonder the game got delayed.

“entire areas decay before you, and fallen objects fly back to their places”

It gets weirder. Remedy is making a digital TV show to go with the game. This isn’t a new concept, but the way that it’s being implemented certainly is. It’s told from another character’s perspective, so Jack’s actions play out completely separately. We saw two characters in a standoff during the show, then watched the same section in the game, told from Jack’s perspective. Weirder still, junction moments let you pick a narrative path which changes your experience, altering how the game plays and giving it a ‘choose your own adventure’ feel. The example we saw let players (viewers?) choose whether to murder or just intimidate a political activist. It says a lot that we really don’t know how Quantum Break is going to work, which isn’t the same as saying it won’t work. While the core game looks rather familiar, there are ideas here which feel completely unexpected. That, at the very least, makes this a fascinating proposition. n Matt Elliott

Instant Reaction THRILL-o-meTeR

Remedy’s latest has gone from a stuttering shooter to an entertainment experiment so mad it might just work.

Format PS4, XO, PC, 360 Publisher Square Enix Developer Crystal Dynamics Out 10 November

Lara digs into the past ombs. Raiding. These two things were both included in Crystal Dynamics’ initial reboot of the archetypal adventure series but, weirdly, they very rarely came together. Not so this time around. Our hands-on with the new game was one long raid in one big tomb.


Set in medieval catacombs hidden in a Syrian cliffside, all the hallmarks were there – booby traps, puzzle sections, the opportunity to watch a virtual person drown. Classic stuff. But that’s not to say new-Raider’s been abandoned – not if those five times we had to watch Lara’s windpipe get impaled on spikes are anything to go by. Lara is now both the world’s luckiest and unluckiest person simultaneously. Every bit of masonry she touches crumbles away. Every corner she turns features a corpse with scorpions living inside it. Every pond she swims in becomes a tidal wave. And yet she lives

through it every time. Tombs are now danger gauntlets that Lara doesn’t only need to solve, but survive. It’s a blisteringly cinematic approach to an old formula, and on first impressions, it works beautifully. This is apparently a tutorial area, so its puzzles aren’t much cop, but with the promise of a globespanning adventure, and optional tombs returning as giant challenge mazes, that niggle should be addressed. Welcome home, Lara. n Joe Skrebels

Ok, so it’s not completely exclusive, but it won’t be on PS4 until winter 2016, a full year later than Xbox.

Instant Reaction THRILL-o-meTeR

Appropriately for an archaeologist, Lara’s bringing old and new together in this world-spanning adventure. .

Format XO Publisher Microsoft Developer Reagent Games Out Summer 2016

Heads in the cloud t’s not often that a technical achievement leaves us speechless. Improvements in graphics, clever new mechanics – this is stuff we get excited about, but rarely surprised by. But when you see Crackdown 3’s cloud-based destruction on show, there’s nothing to say. It’s unlike anything else out there right now.


The game’s multiplayer currently supports four players, all dropped into a city where literally every single object can be destroyed. Each bullet fired affects the structure of what it’s been shot into. That means you can create holes to snipe through, or, you know, smash a skyscraper into four other buildings, all with absolutely no slowdown. It works by sending physics calculations to the cloud, which does the hard work while your console just makes

things pretty. Reagent Games promise it won’t be a strain on your connection, too. But that does leave the sore problem of no offline play. Reagent has a solution – build an almost entirely different single player game. The campaign will take place in another (less destructible) city, and more closely resemble the original Crackdowns, as you rid the world of various tooled-up Crime Lords infesting the place. As they do. n Joe Skrebels

Instant Reaction THRILL-o-meTeR

A lost classic reinvigorated by some of the most exciting games tech on the planet. Sounds good to us.


29 25

DICE handling Star Wars spawned many Battlefield-in-space fears – but on this evidence, its galactic shooter is big on both fan service and canonical fun.

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher EA Developer DICE Out 20 November



Preview Future Hits Played Now!

Stunning new Fighter Squadron mode proves DICE is staying on target


e usually hate starting a preview with an anecdote, but DICE’s take on Star Wars is built for stories. Here’s ours: we’re screaming through a thick bank of cloud in a battered X-Wing. In front of us, coloured blips are scattered about the screen like dropped Smarties. For the first ten seconds, that’s all we can see. Clouds. Blips. We break through the white canopy to see the most Star Wars scene in gaming. Lasers flash past us, dangerously close. TIE fighters twist in the air, dancing away

from proton torpedoes. Frantic communications warn us when enemy fighters are on our tail. More important than anything else is the sound. It’s perfect. Every laser blast sounds mechanical and threatening, and tight turns are accompanied by noises that immediately make you feel like you’re nine years old, sat on a ragged carpet, watching Return Of The Jedi on a chunky VHS. Cleverly, DICE doesn’t immediately bombard you with familiar themes; instead, there’s a tense silence before the epic songs roar into being, usually just after some incredible, last-minute kill. Whether you’re humming heroically along with the Rebel Fanfare, or

goosestepping to the Imperial March, it feels amazing. It feels… Star Wars.

Storm brewing

That’s a pretty vague way of explaining what Battlefront actually is, though, so let’s try to do a better job. The first mode we play is Survival – a co-op game with two Rebel soldiers holding out against waves of increasingly tough Empire troops. It starts simple, as you fight bumbling Stormtroopers with the marksmanship skills of a pickled walnut, but soon gets tricky. Different troop types arrive, some packing dangerously accurate sniper rifles, others overwhelming you with numbers.



Preview Future Hits Played Now!

Flight School

The starships of Fighter Squadron X-Wing Standard Rebel craft, equipped with homing proton torpedoes, laser cannon, and shields. In-game, they function like TIE Fighters, except that being in the Rebel Alliance makes them 100% cooler.

TIE fighter The entry-level Empire starfighter looks like an eyeball between two chopping boards, and can even make noise in space. Armed the same as its Rebel counterpart, but a speed boost replaces the shield.

Slave I Boba’s iconic craft is a modified Firespray-class starship, complete with stealth capabilities. Empire players can pretend they’re the coolest bounty hunter in the universe by grabbing this upgrade.

Millennium Falcon Seriously, do we need to describe this to you? Han Solo’s spaceship is the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, and Rebel players can pilot it if they find the power up… or win a game of sabacc. (We can dream, right?)

but it’s a solid indication of what we can Once one wave is dealt with, you have a expect in the final game. It features two few moments to regroup, before the teams of ten, with the Imperials in TIE fighting begins again. fighters and the Rebels in X-Wings. As Along the way you have to secure well as player-controlled aircraft, 20 dropped pods, reached by launching more AI fighters are dotted around the yourself into the air with a Boba Fett-style map, adding to the general sense of jetpack – short, unruly boosts that will chaos, as well as giving you something send you whizzing to hitherto unreached easy to shoot at. You’ll need it, too. places (if that needed explaining to you, please freeze yourself in carbonite). It’s fast, floaty, and the headshots feel The mode is wild, frantic lovely: there’s just and pretty difficult. Our first something about laser hits game is successful, complete ricocheting off plastoid bagging a couple of player armour that feels instantly kills early on, but it doesn’t gratifying and familiar, like last; most of the second game stepping on a crunchy leaf in is spent with enemy fighters on autumn. Mmmmmm. our six and lasers up our exhaust (we’re You didn’t come here to hear about paraphrasing). Each ship can take some rocket packs and Stormtroopers, though. damage – you aren’t sent spiralling to The new Fighter Squadron mode shown your death like poor Porkins the first time off behind closed doors is still in alpha, incoming fire glances your chassis – but


TIE die

“We fly loW, Weaving in and out of tunnels… but it alWays ends in shattered bones and sighs” both our opponents utilise homing missiles. It only takes a couple of these to finish you off, so aerial acrobatics are required to survive. Another, riskier tactic is to fly low, weaving in and out of the twisting burrow of tunnels, rather like the surface of the Death Star. We try this a few times, and it always ends with shattered bones and sighs. Still, at least the Empire doesn’t kill us. Being on the other end is even more exhilarating. You slowly lock on to your target by holding the left trigger, then launch your homing projectile with the right. The moments before the lock-on are agonising, and you often have to follow your prey like a hungry cheetah chasing a gazelle (albeit one made of metal, that flies through the air and has a man inside). It’s deeply satisfying to score a clean hit. You can also soften up ships with well-placed laser fire too, but it’s generally less accurate than a Sand Person with a bucket on his head. It’s more than just dogfighting, too. Every so often a troop transport arrives.

Some matches swap legendary ships for legendary characters, though this option isn’t there during our hands-on. We still pretend Han’s inside the Millennium Falcon.



Instant Reaction There are 20 AI ships in every battle – ten Empire, ten Rebel. You can tell them apart because they look slightly less cool, and are easier to kill.

Destroying one massively boosts your score, so the focus of the fight quickly shifts and becomes even more, er, Star Wars-y. Smaller craft buzzing around lumbering, tactically crucial carriers feels totally in keeping with the series. It’s also a helpful shift in the dynamics of each fight, and one which prevents things from ever getting too monotonous. To win a round, a team must get 200 points, with one awarded for an AI kill and three for a player kill. Shooting down the

Transport ships are priority targets. Shoot them down to bag match-winning scores and the warm feeling of having murdered everyone inside. Lovely!

transport nabs you a meaty 20 points. It sounds like a lot to have to earn, but scores stack up quickly in the searing heat of battle.

Falcon rising

Ships are similar, the only difference being that the X-Wings have shields and TIE fighters have a speed boost. Both have an acrobatic dodge, used to evade missiles. We get to play as X-Wings – handy, because we’re rebel scum – but it

Star Wars fact: if you listen closely at the end of Return Of The Jedi, one Rebel shouts a rather naughty word when the Super Star Destroyer crashes.

seems well balanced. So much so that one match is a draw. Best of all: scattered around the ground are power-ups that help you out with legendary spacecraft: Boba Fett’s Slave I for the Empire, or the Millennium Falcon for the Rebels. At one point, Han Solo’s iconic vessel comes screeching past, turning sideways to narrowly avoid a messy end for both of us. It’s the sort of moment that gives you a shiver down the spine, and Battlefront is packed with them. n Matt Elliott


All the scale and splendour of the Star Wars experience, in a varied and immersive world. Prepare to feel five again.

Dogfights can be a bit scrappy and difficult, and there’s a limited selection of ships. Why no Y-Wings?


1 2 3 4 5 Lasers. Dogfights. Millennium Falcon. What more could you want?

There’s something sad about seeing an AT-ST getting shot – a bit like a tall, tired dog falling over. At least the driver was evil. Probably.



preview Future Hits Played Now!

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Activision Developer Treyarch Out 6 November

Call of Duty: BlaCk ops III

In the future war will be… very sociable


ere’s a startling revelation: the entirety of Blops III’s story – every last level, every single scene – is unlocked from the start. That means you can buy the game, play the last stage, and ‘finish’ it in around 30 minutes. Not that you’d want to, but the option is there. It’s a bold decision by Treyarch, which has just given us extended access to the co-op mode in its latest creation. And it’s a call that’s been made for a very specific reason.

The whole of Black Ops’ dystopian, 2065-set tale is co-operative. Not just part of it, not a separate campaign – but the entire thing. Up to three of your friends can drop in and out as they please, so there’s no need to arrange marathon sessions just to get levels finished. And yes, the full game is open right from the start, so you can play with buddies no matter what stage of the narrative you’re at. What’s more, you’ll all appear in cut-scenes as yourselves, so if you’ve gone for some questionable customisation options – of which there are myriad – you’ll look ridiculous during

those emotional story beats to everyone in your lobby.

Modern war flair

Black Ops III, then, is structured a little differently to any previous COD. Before each mission you meet in a customisable Safe House. Inside, you can engage in all

manner of in-game messing about, such as managing your loadouts, creating new guns, admiring your in-game achievements, and checking leaderboards. Friends can scope out your custom Safe House when they drop in to co-op, and you can even share your bespoke weapons with them. Again, at

“the whole of black ops’ dystopian 2065-set tale is co-operative”

You can change almost every part of each weapon, from scopes to stocks, and from barrels to bullets.

Difficulty scales according to both the number of human players, and what settings you’re playing on.



CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III than other entries in the franchise), the any time – so in theory, you can give a stage we’re playing is relentless. There are raw recruit the best gun in the game, several points in the level – essentially a straight away. massive, square arena – where we need to We roam a little in one of the Safe plant strategic explosives using Houses before launching the Rameses something called a Spike Launcher. This Station mission, based in Cairo. The full weapon can be used against troops too, four soldiers are in our squad, and we’re and it feels damn good smashing them sent out to destroy an entire city street to with a single, cannon-like shot, before halt the advance of an invading army. clicking in the right stick to make the When we drop in, a cut-scene shows a projectile explode in their midst. mobile wall barricade being deployed Enemies pour into the area, and from a helicopter. Yeah, a wall. It it’s hugely confusing at first. both expands and blocks off Snipers take pot-shots from the combat area, handily balconies, drones hum creating an arena to fight around the battlefield on in. We’ve opted for a both sides, and robots shotgun class, with pistol complete clamber over rubble, trying as back-up, and there are to smash our squashy new abilities called Cyber human body. This is where the Cores, which are… essentially Cyber Cores come into their own. magic. See, COD’s vision of the Holding down on the D-pad (on PS4) future includes all manner of cybernetic brings up a wheel of abilities. Select one, enhancements, and tech that allows the aim, press R1 and L1 together and it fires. human mind to directly control bodies Our chosen power hacks a couple of and objects. As such you can hack the robots, which then fight on our side until robots that attack you, and take control they’re scrapped by enemy fire. of drones and tanks remotely. The action itself is classic COD: violence dialled up to 11 and kept there. While Treyarch assures us there will be quieter Other abilities will make mechs charge moments in the campaign (and Black Ops into enemies and explode, or even games do tend to be more thoughtful unleash a swarm of cyber-bees that sting


Sting operation

Veterans: prepare for some additional upheaval in cutscenes, as changes are afoot. There’s a third-person camera in Black Ops III’s filmy bits now, a first for the series.

human foes to death. There are several different Cores, each with a list of abilities to unlock and unleash. After about 10 minutes of frantic action, it’s all over, as the final spike-explosive is planted and we blow the street. We died a couple of times, but were quickly revived by buddies, and we saved our fair share of skin too. It feels very much like Zombies, but fleshed out into a full campaign… oh, and without the undead. Sadly, our hands-on is limited to story and multiplayer, so we’ve not played the actual shambler-splatting mode… yet. Speaking of multiplayer, Black Ops III’s competitive action is as lethal as ever, and there are several special abilities to accompany the raft of guns, grenades, and enhanced movement options. We opt for a loadout that brings swarm traps, which unleash the aforementioned robo-insects on any enemy who comes close – we catch a few foes with them, but the majority of the kills come from classic gunplay. Our multiplayer hands-on is a tiny snapshot of the whole game, but the new abilities, along with the increased movement possibilities afforded by jetpacks and underwater combat, make it feel delightfully fresh. It all adds up to a seriously promising take on Call Of Duty. Treyarch has been

given three years to craft BOIII and, from the raw action, through to the elaborate alternate history they’ve created, it definitely shows. Question marks still hover over the effectiveness of the story, and whether the co-op campaign will be well balanced and paced throughout, but from what we’ve seen so far, the future of war is wonderfully social and typically lethal. n Andy Hartup

Instant Reaction +

Having the whole campaign as co-op, along with all the social features, is a boon – for both this COD and future versions.

The story, for all the talk of how smart and dark it is, still seems to be just a bunch of meaty men shouting at each other.


1 2 3 4 5 Loads of smart ideas, and the action is still satisfyingly explosive.

Action unfolds in a handful of fresh locations for COD, including Cairo.



Preview Eyes-on with Future Hits!

“Ooh, put me down or I’ll be really cross! Then you’ll be in trouble!” That’s probably not going to work.

Format PC Developer Creative Assembly Publisher Sega Out Summer 2016

ToTal War: Warhammer Prime strategy cuts, served with delicious orc chops


here are loads of moments in the recent trailer which vividly bring the enduring tabletop game to life, but none are quite so pleasing as the charging Arachnarok spider. It scuttles into a unit of knights, scattering them effortlessly, before skewering one and devouring him whole. The best bit? When it spits out the shield and carries on killing. Ploomp!

greenskins grow by fighting. If you’re not acting violently enough to satisfy the brutal demands of the Waaagh! – something between a holy crusade and a brawl in Weatherspoons – then infighting will occur, depleting your forces. As for the necromantic Vampire Counts… well, let’s just say they’ll need bodies.

Instant reaction +

All the colour, variety, and humour of Warhammer, married with the most detailed strategy game in the world.

What are we going to do with the box of (plastic) skeletons under our bed once this arrives? Keep them, probably.


1 2 3 4 5 The best bits of Total War in shiny Gromril armour. We can’t wait.

Grand total

In the tabletop game, hero characters can fight solo or join units, and there’s a similar idea here, with leader units appearing on the campaign Seeing previously static map like agents from complete miniatures brought to life previous games, but also is a huge part what makes joining battles. It’s a risk the game so special, but committing them to fights, but Creative Assembly is going the boost they provide on the further than that. The familiar Total War battlefield is often worth it. This is also foundations have been reinforced to true of legendary named characters withstand the exaggerated onslaught of – you can send the mighty Emperor Karl the Warhammer Fantasy world. The Franz into the fray if you choose, but if he campaign map will feel different dies, he’s gone forever. Just like the depending on your faction, which makes faction campaigns, it’s a perfect way of perfect sense; the Empire might build applying Warhammer lore to a familiar temples to Sigmar and muse about strategic landscape. Whether it’s on the irrigation, but the dwarfs are more battlefield or across the Old World, Total bothered about reclaiming lost glories War: Warhammer looks like it’s getting and satisfying grudges. By contrast, everything right. n Matt Elliott




An orc army charging is a glorious green rabble of axes, teeth, and fantasy favourites. Who doesn’t love a troll spewing acid vomit all over the place?

New stadiums include Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome and Portsmouth’s Fratton Park – the latter a tribute to creative director Simon Humber, who passed away in April.

PSG’s squad, including Ibra, are among the 450 new or rescanned player faces.

Shooting feels glorious this year – though comandeering lethal finishers such as David Villa helps.

Instant Reaction +

EA introduces new moves and techniques that feel effective without overcomplicating or unbalancing matches.

Players, lighting, camera angles, and atmospherics aren’t quite on par with PES 2016’s fabled Fox Engine.


1 2 3 4 5 Even tighter football makes up for the lack of major new features.

Format PS4, XO, PC, PS3, 360 Publisher EA Developer EA Canada Out 24 September


New season delivers some outside help for your Ultimate warriors


ur last hands-on session covered on-pitch matters: Passing With Purpose, No-Touch Dribbling, Clinical Finishing, and – yes! – vanishing foam. These subtle innovations form a tight and satisfying footy effort. Our latest hands-on, then, happily introduces new ideas for off the park too.

fee of 7,500 gold coins (around £3) which, as a more interactive alternative to buying decks from the store, could make for a wallet-menacing addiction, depending on how committed you are.

Müller corner

As all features settle snugly into place, we give career a go next. It aims to keep you for the long haul with the ability to train up to five players a week, boosting attributes and market value. FIFA’s most successful The transfer market is complete feature is Ultimate Team, in improved too: it’s now which players buy and sell easier to search for precisely cards to create fantasy sides, the player you want, from and Draft mode is its biggest nippy winger to defensive wall. addition yet. You’re given a random Back on the turf, FIFA is more exciting assortment of players with which to build this year because of all the cool new stuff a squad and take part in four matches – you can do: playing a string of power the more you win, the better quality your passes up the pitch, watching your prize packs. “It’s a cool way for new player rearrange his footing as he whips people to get a distilled taste of Ultimate in a deadly cross, or running onto a Team,” says FUT creative director Adam lay-off and thwacking a belter towards Shaikh. “You can get in one evening and the top corner. EA Sports calls these instantly build a team of great players.” Moments of Magic, and it’s a term we Bear in mind you’ll have to pay an entry can’t help but agree with. n Ben Griffin


A new partnership between EA Sports and Real Madrid sees 14 Los Blancos superstars re-scanned, including Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale and Modrić.



Preview Future Hits Played Now!

“Ooh, I wanna dance with somebody… with somebody who burns me.” As ever, flame-retardant clothing is a necessity in DSIII.

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Namco Bandai Developer From Software Out Spring 2016

Dark SoulS III

How the director of Bloodborne discovered elegance in the apocalypse


ny new From Software game is a scary prospect, in the wake of their previous output. Every area introduced could be the next Sen’s Fortress, each boss another Rom the Vacuous Spider. Despite this, we get a sense of jittery excitement before our hands-on, excited to discover fresh ways to die, die, and die again. We rush through to see as much as possible, wonderfully afraid of the things waiting to kill us. Best of all, we get the chance to talk to Hidetaka Miyazaki – president of the studio, and the man responsible for some of our greatest gaming glories (and most sickening lows) – while playing. We immediately feel at home, as a dragon appears early on and toasts us like an armoured muffin. In an attempt to make things easier for ourselves, we ask



Miyazaki-san what it is about the dragon motif that he particularly likes, and what similar things we can expect in Dark Souls III. He laughs, but reveals nothing: “I cannot go into details. It will spoil what I’m working on! But I want to bring more cinematics into the real-time-rendering environments, and the dragon is one of the examples. Not cutscenes, but actual gameplay that will motivate players to soldier on.”

helped me, as well as the team,” says Miyazaki. “Our priority was letting players feel comfortable with [carrying out] action elements. We take this same approach in Dark Souls III, and the fast-moving player-built characters is one example. So now the player is able to throw a knife in combination with taking quick steps.” Although the influence of Bloodborne is clear, there are certain elements of Dark Souls that drew Hidetaka back. “Because of complete the character of Bloodborne’s That big deadly lizard is just gameplay, its battle style, as one element that aggressively well as the role-playing elements, reminds you where you are, and it’s limited compared to the Dark Souls what you’re playing. That said, if you franchise,” he explains. “It doesn’t played Bloodborne – and if you want us necessarily mean Bloodborne was bad. to stay friends, you should at least However, while working on [it] I realised, I pretend that you did – then there’s some want to [create] something which has a common ground here. Characters feel wide range of battle styles, or features lighter and thinner, moving with a similar magic, or those things which allow players grace. “Experimentation and the to wear awesome armour. Those elements experience of Bloodborne definitely

Blood magic


Dual-wielding returns, once again allowing you to hold a weapon in each hand for twice the attacks. We don’t know if we’re brave enough for that, though - we’ll take a nice, safe, comforting shield instead, please. Much less risky.

Each weapon in Dark Souls III has a Battle Arts stance, which offers a set of new moves to master.

The Dancer Of The Frigid Valley fight takes place in a vast, gloomy cathedral. It’s all very reminiscent of Bloodborne.

are what actually made me come [back] to the Dark Souls franchise.”

Deadly impact

We’re already glad of Miyazaki’s return. In our brief playthough, there are recurring, reassuring elements that feel like they were pointedly guided by his mischievous hand. Hollow soldiers lurch out from dark corners; glowing items tease you into ambushes. More than anything, his influence is in the design. The world still feels familiar, but there are surprises everywhere. A great example is the first boss we encounter, the Dancer Of The Frigid

Valley – a wiry armoured statue in the figure of a female. It feels like a slight departure for Dark Souls, if not for Miyazaki. Like much of Bloodborne, there’s a sense it was once something graceful, almost beautiful, but time and circumstance have changed that. In a sense, it’s a snapshot which symbolises Dark Souls III’s own evolution from its predecessors. “It’s again about the apocalypse and doomsday, but at the same time it comes with a very big increase in presentation,” explains Miyazaki. And the withered beauty deliberately contradicts what’s underneath: “I don’t know exactly where

“there are two sides – the physical against the mental – and that’s the contradiction i wanted to bring out in dsiii”

that is coming from, but it’s important for me to have something contradictory in the game – to make players sense something unique. “[Think about] a warrior taking a sword onto the battlefield. The physical reason is to fight enemies, but mentally he also needs a reason to accept the sword as his sidekick. It’s the only thing he can count on during the battle. There are two sides – the physical against the mental – and that’s the contradiction I want to bring out in Dark Souls III.” That conceptual tag-team of lost glory and subtle contradictions should be enough to get any long-standing fan of the series seriously excited. On the surface, it’s still a twitchy, precise action game, and it feels better than ever, but it’s the stuff underneath that really sets it apart from the rest. It’s a harder thing to sell in a trailer or a 30-minute gameplay demonstration, but speaking to Miyazaki himself left us in little doubt: the master has returned. n Matt Elliott

Instant reaction +

The familiar grind of exploring a world designed to destroy you, with heart in mouth and shield in hand.

Never liked Dark Souls? This won’t convert you. Also, Bloodborners might lament its comparitive lack of speed.


1 2 3 4 5 Austere yet alluring, this is a world of duality we can’t wait to explore.



Preview Eyes-on With Future Hits! Some worried that a fully-voiced protagonist would limit the game’s scope – but those fears certainly don’t seem to be coming true.


o say that seeing this latest entry in the series in action cloaks you in a blanket of comfort and yearning is an understatement of nuclear proportions. With five years having passed since our last post-apocalyptic adventure, our thumbs and minds are more than ready to navigate the horrors of the wasteland once again. Despite the gap in time, Fallout 4 is certainly no radical departure from what’s come before. The approach here is one of continuity and expansion, rather than reworking or reimagining – with a series as popular and revered as this one, it makes sense to hold on to the elements which work. The changes that have been included are designed to provide even more freedom when it comes to playing your way. Most notably, for those marathon gamers in it for the long haul, there’s no level cap at all here – you can just keep ranking up forever. Combine that with the fact that you can continue to play after the main narrative is finished, and you might just find yourself still shooting raiders and looting vaults until the actual end of the world comes around.

Perk load

You’ll have plenty to grasp for as you climb that infinite character progression ladder, too. There are 275 perks to pick from in the game, and you’ll be granted a new one with every level up. And hey, if you’re dedicated enough, that lack of an experience cap means you could eventually get them all during your journey through the game’s promised 400 hours of content. You may have to give up your job for this one. And your family, your friends, your pets, your house plants…

“the gunplay is vastly improved, smoother and more impactful than ever before”

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Bethesda Softworks Developer Bethesda Game Studios Out 10 November

Fallout 4 So much to do, you’ll go into meltdown 36


The game’s special edition, which comes with a real-life working Pip-Boy, has already sold out.

85% complete

It appears that skills, however, are out, with the capabilities they’d normally grant you being folded into other areas of the levelling system. Your knowledge of computers and crafting, for example, seems to no longer be derived from your ‘Science’ rating, but instead from your ranks in appropriate perks. Whether that’s a case of clever streamlining, or unnecessary trimming, we can’t yet say.

Nuclear armaments

The most exciting news, however, is that the game’s gunplay is vastly improved. Despite lofty aspirations, the moment-tomoment shooting of Fallout 3 was just about functional at best, and frequently dipped into moments of frustration-inducing clunkiness. This time around, Bethesda has taken a nuclear-powered hammer to those problems, with every moment of first-person gunnery already looking smoother, and far more impactful and engaging, than ever before. You’ll no longer be relying on VATS in every engagement (and hiding behind rocks waiting for your action points to recharge) – and when you do break out your targeting system, you’ll find it’s changed from a complete pause to a slow-mo effect, still giving you enough time to think, but no longer drawing the combat’s momentum to a sudden and deflating halt. Of course, all those improvements would be for naught without a good arsenal of weapons, and boy has Bethesda got you covered. Fallout 4 features even more death-dealing implements than the developer’s ever seen fit to furnish us with before, from hand-cranked laser guns, to plasma pistols, to mini-nuke launchers, to assault rifles, to shotguns, and more, alongside more up-close-and-personal fare like baseball bats and wrenches. And you’d better believe they’re all fully customisable, ripe to be modded and crafted into your perfect loadout. Add to this a dog companion that’s more than happy to attack and distract foes, and the simple act of fighting is looking as deep and satisfying as we’ve always wanted from the series. Perhaps it’s hard to believe that Bethesda could out-do the popularity and scope of its own Fallout 3 and Skyrim, but there’s no doubt in our minds that it’s on track to pull that feat off here. The only worry we’ve got is, once it’s out, how are we going to find time to play anything else? n John Robertson

Instant Reaction +

We reckon this is going to be the most expansive and varied open-world RPG experience you’ve ever played.

While it’s certainly bigger and better, for some it may all feel a little too similar to its popular predecessors.


1 2 3 4 5 We’ll be surprised if this ends up being anything less than essential.

Don’t give me that look, boy – I had to eat all our roasted iguanas to recover my health during that raider attack. I’m sure we’ll find some more centuries-old tinned goods in the next town.



Preview Eyes-on with Future Hits!

Adam Jensen is back and, yes, it seems he’s still taking facial hair fashion tips from Iron Man.

Format PS4, XO, PC Developer Eidos Montreal Publisher Square Enix Out Spring 2016

Deus ex: MankinD DiviDeD

Sneaking past bosses... like a boss


lmost everything about Deus Ex: Human Revolution was right on the money. Its visual identity had more spark than your average bolt of lightning, its blend of first-person action and RPG progression harked back to the quality of the original release, and the world was incredibly engaging.

to hide yourself from them within the arena of battle, giving you a chance to sneak around behind for a sneak attack. Another option will be hacking nearby computers, turning any turrets, drones, or other futuristic security measures into impromptu assistants.

instant Reaction +

It’s great to see Eidos Montreal listening to critique of the previous game and looking to rectify past mistakes.

Our hero’s fashion sense continues to give him the look of a B movie action star struggling to find work.


1 2 3 4 5 Even more freedom of choice than the last game? Yes please!

Iron pacifist

Most importantly of all, you won’t have to kill anyone. You’ll be able to complete the entire game non-lethally, and Where it unfortunately that includes bosses. It’ll failed was in its boss fights. require some creative complete For all the emphasis on thinking though, and freedom of choice and the plenty of interaction with consequences of your actions the game’s cast of characters in the rest of the game, these – we’re told that clever climactic encounters represented a conversation skills will grant you access disappointingly narrow path. For the to unique and useful means for dealing series’ latest entry, Mankind Divided, with bosses, without shedding a drop of that’s all changed. their blood. As Adam, you’ll now have rather more But how will letting all those rotters options than just pulling out a gun and live affect the story? Will they come back filling every head honcho full of lead. for revenge? Or embrace the spirit of You’ll be able to use stealth, and take forgiveness and invite Adam to their advantage of the environment to get birthday parties? We’re confident it’ll be yourself past each boss. It’ll be possible the latter. n John Robertson




We’re promised a darker, more cynical world than Human Revolution’s. Suspicion and conflict between augmented and non-augmented humans runs rampant.

MIRROR’s EDGE CATALYsT Catalyst tells Faith’s origin story – we’ll finally see what being a Runner really means.

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher EA Developer DICE Out 23 February 2016

mIRRoR’s edge CaTaLysT

A show of Faith in a more open city


you could only springboard from certain lot about DICE’s objects. In Catalyst, you can do it from first-person any object of the right height,” explains free-runner remains Jansson. “It adds to the freedom.” familiar. It’s still In a hands-off demo, DICE shows us about Faith, a young how campaign missions are Runner operating incorporated into the open world. across the City of Glass. It’s still about Switching to a map of the city, a waypoint traversing the rooftops, and building is added to the next story chapter. momentum in order to This enables Runner Vision, gracefully building-hop which highlights objects towards your destination. along the route in red. It’s It’s still about the not necessary, though, as resistance to a dystopian we can see her target – the government, and the complete building of Elysium – clearly endless chatter of hip in the distance, and there are jerks in your headset. potential rewards for finding our own route through. The move to an open world Reaching it triggers a cutscene that system, however, has a profound effect seamlessly transitions into the mission on the design of the city. “No object in the proper. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst will have environment is there just to be pretty," no loading screens at all, we’re promised. DICE senior producer Sara Jansson tells “You just move out of the rooftops, into a us. “It’s there because it’s a gameplay building and out again. It’s very clean and object. It’s something you interact with.” beautiful," says Jansson. “We’re really Faith’s moveset has been enhanced challenging the engine because we’re too, to help navigate a space that sprawls doing so much.” n Phil Savage out in every direction. “In the first game


Instant Reaction +

A technical marvel, pushing the Frostbite engine to the limit with a seamless open world and no loading screens.

The city is packed full of collectibles, one of the least interesting ways to force us to explore a space.


1 2 3 4 5 It’s recognisably Mirror’s Edge, but improved in almost every way.



Preview Eyes-on With Future Hits!

Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Square Enix Developer IO Interactive Out 8 December


Kill and be thrilled by 47’s tools of the trade


gent 47 loves to play dress-up, but that isn’t why he’s come to a fashion show, in Square Enix’s demo of the upcoming Hitman’s Showstopper mission. Everyone’s favourite killer-for-hire is in Paris to take out the show’s organiser, Viktor Novikov, a Russian oligarch and the financier of the IAGO spy ring.

protected, but the chefs have been working all day – they’re known to the guards, so they’re ushered past un-frisked. Hide baldy’s Silverballer pistols in a crate of fruit, and the help become unwitting weapons smugglers.

Mood killer

The Hitman series has always been at its best when allowing you to discover such security holes. This latest entry takes things further than ever, by giving you His first step is exploring the area. The the opportunity to mess with NPCs on a setup is similar to Hitman: Blood Money’s more fundamental level. In the demo, 47 Curtains Down mission, but the scale walks in front of a news camera, and of this Parisian palace feels the reporter cuts the take, bigger than anything IO has annoyed at the dispassionate attempted before – it’s a murder-clone’s rudeness. huge, sprawling space. The Later, a stressed out stylist first floor is teeming with can be driven to distraction guests, while, around the by activating the audio on complete peripheries of the publicly a museum diorama. It’s not accessible areas, there are yet clear what this workers, models, stylists, chefs, psychological torture achieves and guards, all going about their business. – IO is being careful not to spoil the Unlike the shuffling automatons of level’s many possible interactions. Blood Money’s New Orleans Mardi Gras, What we’re shown is only a small, these people aren’t just an anonymous edited section of the level’s full scope. mass. Hitman’s NPCs have needs and According to the devs, the full mission behaviour patterns that are defined by will feature a secret auction, living their role, and 47 can manipulate this to quarters for the palace’s residents, and a his advantage. In the demo, he comes second, optional target. This is shaping across some caterers carrying food up to up to be the series’ cleverest systemic the palace’s second floor. The stairs are sandbox yet. n Phil Savage


47 is encouraged to listen to conversations between NPCs – they could reveal clues to new locations and opportunities.

Instant Reaction +

The levels are huge and complex, and filled with NPCs that can be manipulated by the Machiavellian bald assassin.

There’s still a lot of questions regarding Hitman’s episodic release, and how much will be in the game when it launches.


1 2 3 4 5 An exciting return to form, on a greater scale than ever before.

“What do you mean you don’t see my name on the guest list? I definitely have an invite. Have you tried scanning my barcode?”



How do you kill Novikov? One option is to lure him onto the catwalk into a deadly trap, but of course there are many quieter methods too.

Preview round uP

Format PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360, Wii, 3DS, Mobile Pub Activision Dev Vicarious Visions Out 25 September

skylanDers: superCharGers The big deal here is vehicles, with the Skylands explorable by car, boat, and plane. Activision hopes it’ll be enough to make people forget Lego Dimensions and Disney Infinity, and any attempt to evolve the genre is welcome. All previous toys will be supported, while the 20 new Skylanders and vehicles include Bowser and Donkey Kong. Those two figures will actually function as both in this game, and as amiibo (hopefully they’re getting paid for the overtime). n TS

Format XO, PC Pub Superhot Team Dev Superhot Team Out Winter


Time only moves when you do in this abstract indie shooter which spins that one great scene in every action movie into a fully-fledged game. The minimalist crystal-people and monochrome world concentrate your focus on the graceful shooting, allowing you to follow every particle, bullet trail, and severed limb without any extraneous detail getting in the way. In addition to guns, you’ll also be able to slow-mo wield a katana, and chuck weapons when you’ve run out of ammo. This is the most original FPS we’ve seen in quite some time. n TS

Format PS4, XO, PC Pub Deep Silver Dev Dambusters Out Summer 2016

homefronT: The revoluTion

After a troubled history, this is now Far Cry But In A City, with the open world, health syringes, and radio towers we’ve come to expect from Ubi’s exotic shooter. Yet this isn’t based in a tropical or mountainous setting, but a grey-brown urban environment under the grip of an occupying army – will that be as fun to explore? So far, the standout feature appears to be its comprehensive weapon customisation system, which allows you to change every constituent element of every gun on the fly. n TS

Format XO, PC Pub Fullbright Dev Fullbright Out Summer 2016


Gone Home is one of the best pokingaround-a-personless-place games on the market, so there’s reason to be optimistic about Fullbright’s follow-up, which plonks you in a space station that’s lost its entire crew. You’ll witness holographic conversations, make friends with a hopefully non-murderous AI, and even walk on the ceiling thanks to the station’s artificial gravity controls. It’s a big step up from opening cupboards and reading diary entries. The game world seems larger too, and if it’s packed with as much detail we could be onto a winner. n TS

Format PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360 Pub Warner Bros Dev TT Games Out 29 September

leGo Dimensions Slimer and co make this more of a toys-todeath game

aaand there goes all our Christmas savings. In September. Yep, in news that will dismay your partner and your bank manager, Ghostbusters is coming to TT Games’ nostalgia-baiting toys-to-life game. Across the various confusing add-on packs, you can grab mini-figures of Peter Venkman and the iconic Ecto-1 car, Slimer, the Stay Puft Man, and other bits of busting paraphernalia.


It’s easy to forget that there’s also a game attached – the Venkman-enabled Level Pack granting access to a haunted Adventure World. Separate from the main story, these extra levels can be explored with any character, from any license, though you’ll obviously play them all as Doctor Who or Marty McFly. Between this, Skylanders and Disney Infinity, it’s going to be an expensive Autumn – and we hope you’ve cleared a shelf in anticipation. n TS

Gm instant reaction


1 2 3 4 5

Back To The Future… and the cashpoint.

Expect none of the murky generic hordes of Dynasty Warriors here. These monster posses are Pixar-esque.

Format PS4 Publisher Square Enix Developer Square Enix Out 16 October


DraGon QuesT heroes


Beloved JRPG’s long awaited western return hails a new dynasty


e’d never have guessed it walking in – that a mish-mash of the Toriyama-designed (of Dragonball fame) series and Dynasty Warriors would be one of the better JRPGs we’ve delved into in recent times. This colourful, unapologetically quirky number is put together by Omega Force, the team responsible for many Square buttons on Japanese gamers’ Dualshocks falling off due to over mashing. But mercifully, it leans much

more heavily on its Dragon Quest roots than the near annually re-trodden grounds of Lu Bu and company. For starters it’s a genuine RPG. You have a party of characters – some original, others returning from previous Quests. You have weapons, items and abilities which require levelling up through skill trees and inventory management. You have a world map and an airship with which to navigate it. It all feels very wholesome, and free of the typical brain-unplugging Warriors melee. The fights fix a problem Omega Force has dragged along through its half a

quintillion series entries. In the past you always felt like a bastion of competence amidst an ocean of bumbling peasantry and some flowery cape-wearing buffoons. Now, as each area floods with monsters, you’re able to capture some and deploy them to fortify areas while you deal with other hordes. This tower defence bent lends a greater sense of strategy than Dian Wei and his thousand mates could ever muster. n MSG

Gm instant reaction


1 2 3 4 5

Much more Quest than Warriors. Phew!



Feature On The Cover!

As NiNteNdo’s mAscot Notches up yet ANother milestoNe, Gm celebrAtes three decAdes of plAtformiNG excelleNce as it really been 30 years since he gobbled his first mushroom and stomped that poor Goomba? Well, time does fly when you’re having fun, and that’s usually the case whenever you pick up his games. With Nintendo at last handing us the keys to make our own Mario stages in Super Mario Maker, it’s the ideal time to look back at how a gaming icon was born – and what still makes him relevant today. The late Satoru Iwata once suggested that “messing up, but then thinking ‘I’ll try again’, is something that has never changed in Super Mario Bros”. It’s a quote that touches upon that one-more-go appeal almost all of the games have, but also the development ethos that informed Mario’s earliest adventures. From the way Donkey Kong saved Nintendo Of America from disaster, to the triumphant overcoming of technical limitations in Super Mario Bros, Ninty has been persevering with Mario since day one. Though he was named in the US, his games are very much a product of Kyoto, whose culture, according to Miyamoto, “keeps tradition alive by absorbing lots of new things”. That combination of old and modern is what gives Mario games their vitality, what’s kept him fresh for 30 years – and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if the same recipe is still working in another 30.





the story of how gaming’s most iconic star was born


looking at the secrets behind mario’s continued success


An interview with the legendary takashi tezuka, co-creator of super mario bros


is super mario maker the best digital construction tool yet?

Feature On The Cover!

ne giant

from mr Video to mr VideoGAmes: the oriGiNs of mArio t’s hard to think of another character whose history and legacy is bound to a single action. When Mario first leapt over a barrel in Donkey Kong, he wasn’t a plumber, but a carpenter, known simply as Jumpman. It wasn’t him that made the 1981 arcade classic a hit, yet that moment would go on to define a hero who would – from 1985 and his Super-flavoured platforming escape onwards – transform Nintendo’s fortunes, and change the face of games. Ironically, the company’s greatest success was born out of failure. A young Shigeru Miyamoto designed an arcade game called Radar Scope, which was a hit in Japan in 1979. Nintendo’s newly-founded American division decided to ship 3,000 cabinets to the US the following year, but it didn’t win over western players. Nintendo’s then-president Hiroshi Yamauchi invited his staff to pitch new game concepts that would be compatible with the Radar Scope machines, as a last-ditch attempt to save the US branch from financial ruin; the winner was Miyamoto’s idea, Donkey Kong. Yamauchi quickly set the young creator to work, overseen by his mentor, Gunpei Yokoi. Shigeru had hoped to use characters from Popeye, but Nintendo wasn’t able to acquire the license. Yet he insisted on a similar love-triangle story – one of the first examples of a game’s narrative being conceived before its systems. The eponymous ape was an obvious Bluto substitute, while Olive Oyl became Pauline. Miyamoto’s surrogate-Popeye was originally dubbed Mr Video, with the forward-thinking developer planning to use him in all his future games. The character’s look was defined by the limitations of the tech: with little memory to work with, Nintendo had to be smart. He wore dungarees so that his arms would be more visible, and the hat saved both Miyamoto from designing a hairstyle, and programmers from having to animate it. A big nose and ’tache made his design stand out all the more.

It’s-a hIm! Mario was still known as Jumpman when Nintendo Of America began to translate the game for US players. Meanwhile, having invested so much money in unused Radar Scope machines, the company was experiencing severe financial difficulties. Minoru Arakawa, Hiroshi Yamauchi’s son-in-law, was chairing a meeting when the company’s landlord interrupted, demanding payment for overdue rent. His name was Mario Segale, and he was soon to be immortalised forever. He’s actually still a very prominent and successful businessman and property developer in the Washington State area.

Going ape

Nintendo Of America initially felt it was too different from the arcade hits of the time, but it inserted the new game’s motherboards onto the surplus Radar Scope cabinets nevertheless. The first machines were installed in two Seattle bars, whose initially reluctant managers were convinced to order more when they made big returns within a week. As one of the most complex and challenging arcade games of the era – and only the second of its kind to feature several discrete stages – Donkey Kong quickly found a huge audience. The refurbished cabinets sold out – within a year, Nintendo had shifted 60,000. Few attributed Donkey Kong’s success to Mario, but it undoubtedly put Nintendo in a far healthier position. Miyamoto decided to follow-up on his plan to reuse his hero, albeit this time casting him as the villain in 1982’s Donkey Kong Jr. Then came a follow-up with Mario back in the lead role once more: the Joust-inspired Mario Bros. By this time, the character was beginning to take shape. Miyamoto decided, after some



leap Discounting evil doppelgangers, only once has Mario assumed the role of antagonist – in the sequel to Donkey Kong, 1982’s Donkey Kong Jr.

prompting by Yokoi, that he should be able to fall great distances without taking damage, and that player 2 should be his brother, via a palette swap. He agreed with a colleague’s suggestion that Mario looked more like a plumber than a carpenter, and that in turn inspired the setting of Mario Bros, designed to resemble New York’s sewers. It was only a minor hit in Japan, but by then Nintendo was making in-roads into the home console market – just as it was about to crash in the US.

Super power

With the Family Computer, or Famicom, establishing itself in Japan, Nintendo took on more staff, and two of its new recruits would help shape the game that would define both Mario and his makers for decades to come. Miyamoto had become one of the company’s best assets, and hired a team to assist him with Devil World, a complex Pac-Man-style maze game. Takashi Tezuka helped to develop Shigeru’s designs, while Koji Kondo became part of the company’s first music team. Tezuka and Miyamoto quickly formed what they would later call a “symbiotic relationship”, while Kondo’s impromptu decision to compose a musical theme for Devil World’s bonus screen prompted Miyamoto to hire him for his next project – Super Mario Bros. Miyamoto’s obsession with perfecting SMB caused a number of projects – notably Wrecking Crew, and the original Legend of Zelda – to be delayed, and yet it all came together remarkably quickly. The design specifications were drawn up in February 1985; six months later, it was ready. Tezuka and Miyamoto would draw the courses by hand on graph paper, before handing them

maRIO FaCt #1 Plenty of Mario ideas end up on the cutting-room floor. A centaur power-up was once considered for Super Mario Bros 3, while New Super Mario Bros Wii’s Penguin outfit started out as a chicken suit.

to the programmers to turn into code. Despite the short turnaround, development was far from plain sailing, and the original design changed significantly. At one stage, Mario took to the skies in a laser-firing rocket; Tezuka changed this to a cloud. More alarmingly, Mario’s jump was once mapped to up on the d-pad. The rest is history. Nintendo had an instant hit in Japan, and when the Famicom belatedly arrived in the US as the NES, the decision to bundle in Super Mario Bros was a stroke of genius. Home console gaming had arguably its first killer-app, and the fortunes of the North American video game industry were reversed. It’s perhaps unwise to attribute the success of a game to one factor, and Super Mario Bros gave players so many reasons to fall in love, from the unforgettable theme tune to the immaculate design of World 1-1 and its subtle, wordless tutorial. But ultimately its lasting appeal might just come down to its primary interaction. As Mario sets off on his biggest adventure to date, the first thing in front of him is a space in which players are free to experiment. Press the A button, and the plumber once known as Jumpman does what comes naturally. If that first hop over an ape-propelled barrel helped define his gymnastic skill, this one was a jump for joy: a moment of pure play that represented a giant leap for gaming-kind.

mushroom for improVemeNt the refinements that have kept Nintendo’s platforming king on top






Nintendo didn’t invent the platformer, but popularised it, refining it beyond recognition with precise controls and stellar level design. A standard-bearer and a standard-setter.

A revolution for the series, expanding Mario’s moveset so he could slide, climb, lift and throw, while introducing new power-ups and an overworld map that brought the setting to life.

A great new look, sublime soundtrack, a map stuffed with secrets, one of the best-ever power-ups (the Cape Feather), and Yoshi’s debut: understandably, for some, this remains the finest 2D platformer ever.

As influential in its own way as SMB, this defined 3D games for many years. Its analogue controls gave Mario unrivalled freedom of movement with which to explore its thrilling, expansive playgrounds.

Yet another reinvention, this turned Mario’s universe upside down and back to front, its gravitational tricks and inventive design making for the most generous, varied platformer ever.








Feature On The Cover!

tHe how NiNteNdo hAs kept its mAscot fresh for GeNerAtioNs of GAmers

ew game characters stand the test of time; fewer still enjoy huge success so many years after their debut. What makes Mario different? He is, after all, something of a cipher: a chubby, happy-go-lucky plumber who doesn’t actually seem to do any plumbing. He may be great at jumping on turtles and rescuing princesses, but his personality doesn’t seem to stretch much further than that. Perhaps, though, that’s part of his secret. As an icon, Mario doesn’t need much of an identity, because it’s not who he is but what he represents that’s important. He’s an approachable kind of hero: a blue-collar everyman who, as an Italian-American, has a certain cross-cultural appeal. But he’s also designed to be malleable, and has been from the beginning: after all, Miyamoto wanted him to appear in each of his future games. He was essentially conceived as Nintendo’s Mr Versatile, a man who could apply himself to a number of different roles. Heck, between Donkey Kong and Mario Bros he’d already shifted trades. By the time Super Mario Bros arrived, he’d played demolition expert (Wrecking Crew) and sportsman (1984’s NES Golf). This may have been a novelty to some at the time, but Nintendo’s background as a toy-maker had given it an instinctive understanding of the value of leveraging a popular brand. It still relies upon a number of recognisable characters and franchises, of course – but as the man who helped launch the Nintendo Entertainment System in the west, and boost its popularity in the east, Mario was the most obvious choice for company mascot. For that generation of players, Mario was games. Still, to keep him relevant, Nintendo has had to use him intelligently. 1992’s Super Mario Kart was the game which perhaps best established Mario himself as a selling point rather than the series that had popularised the character. Indeed, it’s occasionally proved an even more successful outlet for Mario than the day job; likewise the Super Smash



It’s probably harder to name a TV show that hasn’t referenced Mario, with his likeness especially popping up in animated series such as Futurama and Family Guy. The less said about his own Super Show, the better.

Bros series. Meanwhile, by 1996, he had a starring role in his own role-playing game, as Nintendo partnered with Square for the critically-acclaimed Super Mario RPG. It might not have shifted as many units as Mario Kart, but it certainly added another string to the plumber’s bow.

Sport story maRIO FaCt #2 Mario’s triple-jump has been a regular staple since Super Mario 64 (though it’s absent in 3D Land and 3D World), but its first appearance was actually in the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong, back in 1994.

He’s since become the accessible face of sports games for those who don’t take the real world equivalent too seriously. Some would argue that the N64 versions of both Mario Tennis and Mario Golf have never been bettered since, though others would make the case for the portable versions, with their RPG-style story modes. Either way, the core tenets of Mario platformers still apply: each of these games has simple, immediate controls that make the games accessible to all, while carrying enough nuance to give them longevity. The roster of Mushroom Kingdom characters might swell or change with each new instalment, but Mario is a constant, a

OF MaRiO supeR CameO WORld Mario has made a number of appearances in other Nintendo games. He’s available to buy in statue form in the original Animal Crossing, while you can cosplay as him in Wii entry Let’s Go To The City, complete with a bulbous nose and moustache. Sharp-eyed players will spot him in the audience outside the wrestling ring in Kirby Super Star Ultra, and he appears in doll form in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes – shoot him and you’ll hear the familiar 1UP jingle, as Snake’s HP gauge is topped up. Perhaps his most disturbing cameo comes in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, with the Happy Mask Salesman carrying a replica of Mario’s face attached to his rucksack.

reassuring presence for those who might not know the difference between, say, Rosalina and Daisy, but who can instantly recognise that red cap and bushy moustache. People find comfort in the familiarity. You instantly know where you are with Mario, no matter which game he’s starring in. In Mario Tennis, Golf, Strikers, Baseball and Kart – and even Smash Bros – he’s the archetypal all-round jack-of-all-trades, good but not outstanding in all areas, without any notable weaknesses. Meanwhile, in RPGs like Paper Mario and the Mario & Luigi series, he’s still a mostly silent protagonist. He represents the calm in the eye of the storm, an unflappable presence amid the slapstick chaos occurring around him. While Luigi has developed something of a personality across these games – as an occasional braggart but mostly a coward – Mario is the wiser, the quieter of the two. In some respects that makes him less interesting, but he serves a useful purpose, as a conduit for both story and humour. Occasionally, Nintendo plays upon this to gently iconoclastic effect: we’re almost as shocked as Luigi at the opening of the brilliant Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, where we see the legend in his underpants.

’tache hit

Otherwise, not much has changed in the looks department. Sure, the moustache is a little fuller, the belly a little rounder, and we can now see the stitching on those dungarees, but the modern Mario still carries the charm and iconography of Miyamoto’s original design. He’s more talkative than he once was, of course, and it would be wrong to overlook the impact of voice actor Charles Martinet on Mario as a character. While the plumber’s voice across cartoons and live-action TV shows had been established as having a much deeper, harsher tone, Martinet opted to try what he believed to be a more light-hearted and kid-friendly approach. The result, heard in almost every Mario game since the seminal Super Mario 64, has helped update him for a whole new generation of players, all without ever changing the essence of the character. He sounds as he looks: happy, friendly and permanently upbeat. That sense of fun is at the very heart of Mario and his games, and it’s Nintendo’s uncanny ability to preserve it that ensures his continued popularity. He’s a grounding presence in unfamiliar worlds, a way to express new ideas in a friendly fashion. As anyone who’s played Super Mario Ball will attest, the plumber’s presence isn’t always a guarantee of greatness, but any time you see that red cap on the box, chances are you’re going to have a good time.



Feature On The Cover! &A Develope rQ rQ pe & lo

oper Q&A vel De De ve


&A Develope rQ rQ pe & lo


“I never even suspected he’d be so loved decades Into the Future”


oper Q&A vel De De ve

Our in-depth interview with Super Mario Maker producer and game design veteran Takashi Tezuka

ow better to celebrate this happy occasion than with a chat with one of the intrepid developers who originally brought the happy little plumber into this world? To start with, we’d like to ask you to cast your mind back all the way to your very first contact with Mario. Did you have any kind of inkling that this character would end up being so prevalent over the next three decades of gaming history? I actually knew of Mario even before I joined Nintendo, but after I joined and we released Super Mario Bros, you could really feel how he became much more widely known. Still, I never even suspected that he would become a character so loved even decades into the future. In your opinion, why is it that the character of Mario resonates so well with so many different people all over the world? What do you think is the key to his incredible enduring success? Personally, I think that even before people come to like Mario as a character, it’s the gameplay of Super Mario that really resonates with them. We created Super Mario Bros paying close attention to intuitive feelings – things that anyone in the world can relate to – which users feel through the gameplay; running is fun, jumping high is something you want to do, falling is scary and spikes hurt you if you touch them, etc. I think it all started with how the gameplay resonated with players. From there it’s been how we’ve continued to make Mario games for so long, and all the work we have put into making sure that Mario is never used in an inappropriate way, that has allowed him to slowly become such a well-loved character.



you realise that your team had really caught on to something very special?

What are the essential ingredients in a Mario title, be it a platformer, one of his sports games, or one of the many other genres he’s been a part of over the years? Ultimately it comes down to the quality of the gameplay. No matter how many Mario games we release, if players don’t enjoy them, it can only be a bad thing for Mario. The quality of the visual design is also very important too; it’s vital that we work hard to make sure that we present everyone with the same image of Mario across all these different games. Moving on to Super Mario Maker specifically, what are the origins of the title? How did such an unusual game come to be, and at what point did

Tezuka’S greaTeST HITS • Super Mario Bros (1985) • The Legend Of Zelda (1986) • Super Mario World (1990) • The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past (1991) • Super Mario 64 (1996) • Animal Crossing (2001) • Mario Kart: Double Dash (2003) • New Super Mario Bros (2006) • Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010) • Super Mario Maker (2015)

For me, there are two roots. The first is that for a long time I’ve wanted to create a game like Mario Paint for today’s generation, where you can draw freely using the Wii U GamePad. I was concerned though that just showing your drawings to others ultimately doesn’t really constitute a game. The other is that the team handling creation of tools to support internal software production was testing a Mario course creation editor on the Wii U GamePad. They mentioned that creating your own courses like this was a lot of fun and wondered if it would be possible to turn it into a game. It was taking these two things together that led us to make Super Mario Maker. In order to make the course creation itself into a game, we put in a lot of things that couldn’t be done in the original Super Mario Bros, and took the production stance that so long as the staff found something interesting, it was ok to be included in the game. Seeing how much fun the staff were having in their work, I knew this game would be well received. given that you’ve been involved with Mario for so long, across so many different games, have you been surprised by the various level designs people have come up with so far? What do you see players trying that you never would have done before? The level designers for Mario games have a slight tendency to create very serious and by-the-book courses, so that the finished product won’t have any bugs. However, I’ve learned that people without level-design experience, even members of the production staff, will create wildly unique stages. I felt that this must be extremely exciting for professional level designers, and will provide good reference for future projects. In particular I felt that the Nintendo World Championship levels that Ninendo Of America’s Treehouse came up with were exciting and something that advanced gamers would want to try. Do you have any advice for would-be creators as they become familiar with all of the level

design tools in Super Mario Maker? What pro tips can you offer from your many years of experience creating videogames? I created Super Mario Maker as something to play with, so I don’t think of it as a tool, but I imagine that for would-be creators there’s probably nothing better. Courses posted from around the world can be sorted by popularity, and you can even check out other levels made by your favourite creators too. Since everyone’s opinions are subjective, you may find for example that some you don’t find interesting are actually really popular, or that the opposite might also be true. My advice would be that you should take these results with an open mind, analyse them, and take what you learned to make a new course, then see what happens. Professionals create levels for lots of users, and it’s important to know that sometimes what you yourself may like and what others enjoy may indeed be different. Shigeru Miyamoto, Toshihiko Nakago, and yourself have famously been working together very closely at Nintendo for the last 30 years. What have been your favourite memories of this time among your colleagues? You could say that the three of us have spent more time with each other than with our loved ones! We usually eat lunch and dinner together, and speak to each other more than anyone else. We talk about a broad range of things – everything from serious work-related conversations to our families – with the aim of trying to understand each other’s way of thinking. Sometimes one of us comes up with something unexpected though, and it’s always fun when that happens. One thing we often do when we have to decide on something is ask the opinion of the others, even if we know they are going to say yes. We’d then use this as part of our reasoning in making the decision. Or conversely, we check to see if they have an opposing view, and then decide against a certain course of action. and finally, three decades since the release of Super Mario Bros, how do you see the character evolving over the next 30 years? What are your hopes for his future going forward? That Mario has been loved so much up to this point is nothing short of miraculous, although obviously this is in part the result of the untold work of multitudes of people, not limited to just the developers at Nintendo. It’s impossible for me to imagine what Mario will go on to become in the future, so I am very excited to find out. However, I do hope that even after 30 more years, Mario continues to be Nintendo’s lead videogame character. n



Review The Final Verdict!

Mystery Mushrooms turn Mario into an 8-bit version of a Nintendo character. The range includes every amiibo, and more besides.

SUPER MARIO MAKER Format Wii U Publisher Nintendo Developer Nintendo Out 11 September Players 1

welcome to tHe nintendo toYBoX oF YoUR dReAmS

f you ever owned a Nintendo console growing up, this is like the moment Willy Wonka hands Charlie the keys to his chocolate factory. This is a sublime creative tool for just about anyone, but those who count the likes of Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World among their formative gaming experiences will feel a special frisson at such unrestricted access to the digital bricks and mortar that helped define their childhoods. If that sounds like you, then your early experiments might just feel a little like defacing a work of art, or scribbling phallic doodles over a sacred text. The ability to combine ingredients in a range of new ways is at once thrilling and faintly blasphemous. Ghost Houses in Super Mario Bros? Kuribo’s Shoe inside a Koopa Clown Copter? The sheer breadth of options is surprising from a notoriously cagey company like Nintendo. You’re positively encouraged to go as crazy as you like. Admittedly, it’s a little while before you’re properly let loose. For some, particularly those accustomed to the likes of LittleBigPlanet and even Minecraft, the initial restrictions will rankle. Over nine days, features are steadily rolled out, forcing you on your first play to rely upon a limited selection of tools, and just two of the four different level styles, with SMB3 and World locked out until later. Until then, you’re asked to make do with the basics: Goombas and Koopa Troopas, Brick Blocks and Question Blocks. By the tenth day you’ll have everything you need, but impatient players might wonder at the wisdom of having to wait.

Oh, delay

Some will disagree, but in our opinion, the system works beautifully. It’s in keeping with Nintendo’s design ethos, encouraging players to consider creative solutions while working with limited means, much as Miyamoto, Tezuka and co were forced to when making the original Super Mario Bros. It means newcomers aren’t overwhelmed by a full palette of



loves… The subversion of established Mario conventions.

CouRse you Can

Exploring an online universe of Super Mario worlds


ny uploaded user-made levels can be found within Course World, which offers a range of ways to search and sample stages, and even to follow your favourite individual creators. Here’s an overview of how it works.


If you’re not particularly choosy, or you’d prefer to tackle multiple stages in one go, then the 100 Mario Challenge is the option for you. This randomly selects a series of courses, giving you 100 lives to complete the lot. It’s just 8 stages until you reach the princess in Easy mode, while Normal makes you finish 16 before finding out she’s in another castle. At the end, you’ll see a credit roll of all the creators whose stages you beat: another lovely touch.

options, while ensuring no tutorial is necessary, and also guaranteeing that the simpler ingredients won’t be overlooked. On each new day, you’ll be asked to complete a stage containing many of the newly available features; do so, and it’ll be added to your personal Course Bot, from which it can be tweaked, refined, expanded, or completely overhauled. Alternatively, you can attempt the 10 Mario Challenge, which gives you ten lives to complete eight randomly selected stages, each of which can also be edited. This essentially gives you a preview of features you’ve yet to unlock; while you can’t access them elsewhere, you can copy and paste these elements to create your own remix. The interface, meanwhile, is astonishingly intuitive, and so immediate that it doesn’t need to give you a single word of advice. Part of this, of course, is down to how familiar its iconography is – we all know how these individual elements behave, after all. Even in the unlikely event you’ve never played a Mario game, the included stages are an education in how they work. Using the stylus and touchscreen, you simply select elements and drop them into position, with an onscreen grid – much like the graph paper used to design stages for the original Super Mario Bros – acting as a useful guideline, while lending the procedure a rare sense of precision. You can customise your palette to bring your most commonly used items to the top, while squeezing the triggers or bumpers allows you to quickly and easily copy objects or move level furniture in bulk. The different palettes and styles allow you to transform a stage in a couple of taps: a Super Mario World airship stage can suddenly become a New Super Mario Bros U castle. Many elements are transposed directly, but others are tailored to each game’s unique feature set: Mystery Mushrooms can transform Mario into pixelated versions of amiibo characters in Super Mario Bros, but in World the result is a Cape Feather, while in NSMBU mode you get a Propeller Mushroom.

One of the best UIs ever conceived for a videogame. Perhaps the smartest use of amiibo figures to date.

hates… The daily drip-feed of content will frustrate some.

Build it!

The top tool kits for budding creative types




Super Mario Maker

Quite simply, Lego for the digital generation.

Immediate, fun, and surprisingly generous.


LittleBigPlanet Charming and comprehensive, but comparatively time-consuming.

Let’s tap


Choose Courses and you’ll be presented with a rather daunting list of stages, albeit one that can be sorted into a more palatable length by time period, location, difficulty level, and more. The cream will naturally rise to the top of the star ranking list, while the most newly uploaded are featured in Up And Coming. For each level, you’ll see a tiny overview of the layout, along with Miiverse comments and a clearance percentage.


Only the most prolific builders will stand a chance of a slot on Maker’s leaderboard, which ranks creators according to the total amount of stars their stages have received from other players. If you stumble across someone whose style you dig, you can follow them to discover any other levels they’ve built. Initially, you’ll only be able to upload ten stages of your own, but the medals you earn from starred courses will steadily increase that limit.

Its solutions to the most obvious problems are often disarmingly simple, like the trail of Marios that traces the arc of his jump, telling you the perfect place to put down that next platform – or, for the more devious minded, an enemy to ensure an unhappy landing. From planning to execution, the whole thing feels like blocking a scene as a film director before yelling “action!” How fitting that switching from building a level to playing it merely requires you to tap the clapperboard in the bottom-left of the screen. But the real genius of Super Mario Maker is that it makes the course design process fun. Elsewhere, putting stuff together is often tedious, laborious or both: having done something is always more enjoyable than the effort of actually doing it. Here, Nintendo turns the act of creation into something akin to a performance. Every part is musicalized, using the tech from the maligned Wii Music: a vocaloid voice announces each enemy name and block type as it’s selected, while positioning them plays a note that’s perfectly in tune with the current musical backing. It’s one of many wonderfully playful touches that makes this feel like a spiritual successor to Mario Paint, that great unsung creative tool of the SNES era. Some will be disappointed that most of the stages Nintendo has included are designed to inspire rather than challenge, though that unselfishly shifts the spotlight onto user creations, which are easily shared, and intelligently sorted and highlighted within Course World. Whether you consider it an endless source of creative stimulation, or simply a place to find new levels to play and download every day, it’s yet another expertly judged element of a package that, like its star, rarely puts a foot wrong. n


need to know The game originally existed as a tool for Nintendo’s own designers, before the team decided gamers would enjoy it too. They pitched the idea to Tezuka, and Super Mario Maker was born.

Judgement %


There are more flexible and expansive creative tools, but none as joyous or accessible as this. Chris Shilling




ON SALE NOW! Available in print, on iPad and iPhone now Available from:

IndieMaster The Best Of The Indie Scene!

Every inhabitant of Wellington Wells wears a pleasing white mask. Did we say pleasing? We meant horrifying.

Who is...

Format PC Developer Compulsion Games Out 2016 Web

#1 We Happy FeW

Disturbing survive-’em-up brings joy to the world Made up of 11 people working in an old gramophone factory in Montreal – yes, it’s that indie – this is the team behind PS4 launch game Contrast. We Happy Few sailed past its Kickstarter target of $250,000, and even met its stretch goal for ‘authentic English weather’. Lovely.


ait, what? A survival game set in a quaint English town full of bobbies on the beat, bunting, and people having a jolly good time, you say? Oh wait, now we see the creepy masks, rampant drug addiction, and corpses among the flower beds. Never mind. Welcome to the not-so-sleepy, and really quite unsettling, Wellington Wells in 1964. It’s broad daylight, but we’re still afraid. Unlike other games in the genre, We Happy Few has you trying to stay alive in

what, on the surface at least, looks like a content, civilised world. “I think that was exactly what attracted us to the idea,” considers game designer Guillaume Provost. “We wanted to get away from the traditional wilderness setting, where you break rocks and chop down trees, and get rid of some of the more dull tasks we found at the beginning of many modern survival games. Surviving in We Happy Few means drinking and eating, but also staying off the drugs, which permeate certain more abundant sources of food and water in the world. Gathering the basic resources you need to survive will force you to ‘break’ the rules of the society you are living in, which will naturally bring you into conflict with its inhabitants.”

Drug life

Oh yes, its inhabitants. clad in white masks, the good folk of Wellington Wells are all high as kites on a drug known as Joy. taking place in an alternate universe where the Germans managed to occupy england in WW2, these pills are what the

This alternate universe has much of England in rubble after the occupation of the Germans. The good news? Plenty of places to scavenge for supplies.


OctOber 2015

people took to cheer themselves up. Yes, it’s just as unnerving as it sounds. “Joy is that beautiful thing that makes the world shiny and pretty. We didn’t want to make a world where the people were on a happy drug without allowing the player to experience it for themselves,” explains Provost. “taking drugs helps you blend in better in certain parts of the city, but it comes at a cost as well. If you take a little bit, you’ll eventually crash from it, and that tends to have adverse effects on your health. If you take too much, you run the chance of overdosing. In essence, it’s a short term gain for a mid-term loss in the game’s structure.” While there are story elements to be discovered within the world, this is a survival game at heart. It’s a procedurally generated roguelike, so perish and you’ll respawn in a reconfigured version of the environment. “You’ll die a lot in We Happy Few,” says Provost, almost gleefully. “And each time you die, we generate a new city. You bring the knowledge you’ve gained (and a few other things we’re not quite ready to

“taking drugs helps you blend in better, but it comes at a cost. eventually, you’ll crash”

The 60 Second pitch

The weapons you can wield range from rocks and branches, to more sturdy fare such as wrenches and pipes. It’s far safer, though, to try to blend in with the populace and avoid violence entirely. Just take your happy pills and relax…

Crafting is an essential part of staying alive. Items are scattered everywhere, but just to mix things up, they change every time you start over.

of the city have different types of citizens, who respond differently to what the player does. crouching, jumping, and sprinting might be highly suspicious in one area, and accepted in another. It’s part of the natural learning curve for the player to learn the rules that govern the different areas of the city.” crafting tables are scattered around the world – in our playthrough, It’s not quite Assassin’s creed, ? try this! l there were two stationed in but you’ll need to blend with his i t ke e There’s t ik the vault we spawned in the crowds as you make nothing out (where we’d have been your way through the there with quite the quite happy to stay). city. While Wastrels on same creepy charm, but “crafting is at the the outskirts will pick if you want to brush up on heart of the player’s on you if you’re your survival skills, try progression in the wearing a smart suit The Forest on PC. http:// game,” says Provost. and not torn rags, your “Finding and behaviour, as well as your accumulating the right threads, triggers reactions ingredients in the world will from NPcs too. they don’t like ultimately let you escape the island, you breaking into their house and and it helps you graduate into areas of stealing food from their fridge for one the city that you might not otherwise be thing – go figure – but the discovery that able to survive in. there are three axis to you haven’t taken your Joy is also a no-no. crafting in We Happy Few: survival items, “It’s an area of the game we’re still mechanical crafting, and, of course, actively working on, but at the moment drugs. A cunning player uses all of these just about every action you take in the to survive in the game’s world. My game will generate a response of some personal favourite is a psychotropic drug kind,” Provost explains. “Different areas reveal yet) from playthrough to playthrough, but we wanted the experience to stay fresh and different each time. And then there are certain encounters or situations that will appear only in certain playthroughs, revealing additional world lore and history.”

this! like t his try s? ? hi

this? t try t his ike !l !l is

Just mask

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which negates Joy in your body. If you happen to use it on a regular Wellie, he becomes a ‘Downer’ himself. It’s a great way to distract a crowd.” It’s the atmosphere that’s so striking here. While the visuals might have you screaming bioshock from the rafters, the feel of the world is very different. compulsion recorded a full television and radio schedule for the ever present smiling head of the city, Uncle Jack, and it adds yet another layer of scary Doctor Who episode to proceedings. “We always wanted to make a darker, dystopian atmosphere around the project, but the mood and tone of the world really crystallized when we cast Julian in Uncle Jack’s role,” Provost explains. “In terms of influence, we had a lot. brazil, the Prisoner, brave New World, and A clockwork Orange just to name a few. Uncle Jack, the main figure you see on all of our television screens, is actually inspired by blackmail, a Monty Python sketch featuring Michael Palin. We wanted Uncle Jack to be all-pervasive, a kind of oppressive, creepy-happy presence that follows you throughout the game.” Well, it still looks like a lovely place to visit to us. Positively… joyful. n

Self-medication with Guillaume Provost

We Happy Few is the tale of a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from an alternate 1960s English city filled with cheerful denial. As one of the only lucid individuals in a society pumped full of happy drugs and desperate to forget their past, you’ll have to blend in with the inhabitants, and quickly learn the governing rules of their world, before making a daring escape. It’s a first-person game, set in a procedurally generated, fully 3D city that you must escape before everything collapses around you. But, like any good roguelike, you’re probably going to die a few times before you figure out how it all works. You will need to learn how to conform and avoid suspicion. You will need to hunt for supplies, and craft the devices and weapons that enable you to make it out of town alive. What do the Wellies approve of you doing? What makes them get suspicious? What turns them into a terrifying, homicidal mob? And is there anyone here who can help you? Welcome, my friends. It’s just another fabulous day in Wellington Wells.



indiemaster The Best Of The Indie Scene!

Format PC Developer Gamious Out 2016 Web

#2 Turmoil Don’t worry, it’s just a drill


ospitals and theme parks? Pah, get out. Everybody knows that oil’s where it’s at, and thankfully this charming Early Access sim doesn’t go anywhere near ‘making jokes about George Bush’ territory. Set firmly in the oil rush of 1899 in North America, Turmoil has you hunting for the good stuff, upgrading your drilling equipment, and trading to the highest bidder. “I’ve previously described the game as a mix between Gold Miner, High Tea, and Mini Metro, of which it borrows important elements,” explains creative director Jos Bouman. “But deep down, I think the game has more to do with real-time strategy games in which you build up your economy. For years, I’ve been a huge addict of Warcraft II. I’ve always highly enjoyed starting with low resources and getting as many peons, buildings, and upgrades as fast as possible. It’s a very satisfying and relaxing activity.”

Reservoir gods

The Early Access version is currently a simple single-player campaign with some interesting characters to interact with and plenty of ways to upgrade your town, but the team is working hard on adding extra layers. Not unlike those you’d have to get through to find oil. “We want the game to be fun and challenging all the time,” says Bouman. “The game contains millions of automatically generated levels (enough to play it 285 years full-time). If we can manage to add a

Small… But Perfectly Formed

The best indies to complete in one sitting


ThirTy FlighTs oF loving


her sTory


Dear esTher


To The moon


gone home

The design of the game all started out from a very rough drawing sketched by Bouman in Microsoft Paint. It’s nicer now.

few extra elements, each one of these levels should prove to be a different challenge. It’s a matter of facilitating dilemmas; for instance, should you buy an upgrade to drill through rock layers, or is it cheaper to pipe around it? And is that also sensible in the long run, because upgrading pipes is more expensive when pipes cover more distance.“ Accompanied by a relaxing acoustic guitar soundtrack, Turmoil’s visuals are exceptionally easy on the eyes, with a crisp, bright style. “As a reference, the 19th century time period is of course a given. But we also set out to give the game a diorama-like feel,” explains Bouman. “We wanted to come close to ‘vertical slice’ kind of illustrations, like the ones you’d use if you had to explain the technique of oil drilling in science magazines with infographics.” Gas is currently being added as a resource – and yes it’s just as risky as it sounds – and so far it’s a lot of fun. We’re excited for this one. In fact, you could even say we’re… pumped. n

If a character doesn’t say ‘Well oil be damned’ then we’re going to have some strict words with Gamious.



The shortest of the five here, the less we reveal about this first person adventure the better. All you need to know is it’s the follow up to Gravity Bone from Blendo Games, involves a heist, has excellent music, and takes less time to finish than that cup of tea you’ve just poured.

Available on both PC and iOS, there’s no excuse not to play this riveting detective story from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories creator Sam Barlow. Using only FMV to unravel its secrets – no, it’s nothing like Night Trap – this is an utterly compulsive tale you won’t be able to put down until it’s well and truly over.

One of the original ‘walking simulators’, this haunting tale, set on a barren Hebridean Island, manages to effortlessly pull you into its world. Beautiful and atmospheric, you explore the story of one unnamed man through his many letters to a woman (rather unsurprisingly) named Esther.

Two doctors have a very specific job – to give dying patients a new life to remember before they pass on, one where they fulfil all the dreams that they never could in life. If that doesn’t already tug on your heart strings, then they might actually be broken. See if an adventure to the moon fixes them.

Another gradually unfolding narrative we don’t want to spoil, this first-person story sees you exploring your parents’ new house after returning from a gap year. It’s a perfect slice of ’90s nostalgia with an affecting emotional core, and the devil is in the intricate details of the 12 months that you’ve missed. n


Format PS4 Developer Wonderful Lasers Inc Out 2016 Web

#3 super impossible roaD

Get the ball rolling


here’s something a little off-putting about adding the word ‘impossible’ to a game title. It’s not exactly a welcoming hug is it? However, while this follow up to creator Kevin Ng’s addictive mobile ball roller might feel unbeatable to start with, it has that dangerous one-more-go effect that sees dishes go unwashed and bedtimes passed by. And this time it’s coming to PS4 with split-screen multiplayer. Oh dear. Simply put, Super Impossible Road sees you piloting a ball down a coiling, curving track with no sides. One wrong roll and you’re over the edge, but if you can steer your sphere back down onto the course below within 5 seconds, then you’ll smugly bypass a chunk of the race. “Landing a good shortcut can be hugely satisfying in Impossible Road,” says Ng. “But I felt that the

original game didn’t really call this out or reward the player as much as it should. When I started to experiment with multiplayer racing, it was just a natural fit. A racing game where the only way to win is cheating seemed like a pure concept in line with the original, but taking the idea to the next logical level.”

Slippery slope

There’s a single player campaign, but it’s when you’re going up against other players that things get exciting. “During a race, there’s no game over screen,” explains Ng. “Instead, you are respawned at the last gate you rolled through. This adds a layer of strategy, because if you just bounce your way down the track without rolling through a gate, you’re going to really pay the penalty for missing a jump. Seasoned players will make sure to take in the occasional gate as an insurance policy.” We reckon this could be a multiplayer hit of Rocket League proportions. n

A booming techno soundtrack awaits your ears – Ng is maximising the PS4’s surround options for some serious noise making.

Format PS4, PC Developer Vertigo Gaming Out 2016 Web

#4 Cook, serve, DeliCious 2 Do you want retries with that?


ungry? Oh, you will be – the sequel to the most intense cooking simulator around is looking seriously scrummy. This devious culinary follow-up is coming to PS4, as well as the series’ original home on PC, and sees you take charge of your very own restaurant in an enormous skyscraper. While you start out with a zero star café, your aim is to work your way up to five star glory with over 180 foods and 1,000 recipes. Shift work is available at other restaurants, and there will even be a stint on a high stress cooking show to test your mettle. Developer David

Galindo wants the game to be faster than ever, running at a breakneck pace as you participate in competitive cooking tournaments and take on the world. And you’ll be building burgers at a crisp 60fps too.

Taco hell

We said we’d make you hungry, didn’t we? If crafting fries, hotdogs, and tacos wasn’t enough, steaks are on the menu too, and an update from the original means customers can choose exactly how they want their rib-eye cooked. From blue to well done, it pops up on the recipe card, and you’ll need to have perfect timing to deliver the goods. Cooking Mama, eat your medium rare heart out. Ew. n

“you’ll need perfect timing to deliver the goods”

From sushi to soup, the game has everything you’d ever want to eat. No guarantee that it’ll actually teach you how to cook though.



MinecraftMaster The Most Block-busting Builds!

The urge to grab a boatload of TNT blocks and stage our own recreation of that scene from Independence Day is pretty difficult to resist.

You could impale the Ender Dragon on this huge quartz recreation of the Washington Monument, which commemorates the first US president.

Build of the month…

state of Mined

It might be tempting to dig up Lafayette Square and build a dirt shack, but you’ll probably get shot by the secret service before you even begin.

Your ticket inside the home of the US president


ver fancied having a kip in the seat of power of the western world? Finally, the president of the United States’ very own crib can be yours. This Minecraft recreation – including the building itself, its grounds, Lafayette Square, and the Washington Monument – is probably the



closest that most people will ever get to stepping inside the real thing. The build is part of a recreation of the entirety of Washington DC by BlueSheep123. “It isn’t going to be exactly the same," he wrote in a post on Reddit about his plans for the build. “It’s going to be like how GTA V is to Los Angeles.” Now, where did I put my Minecraft Obama skin?

HoW to ... survive Hardcore difficulty Tread carefully – there are no second chances here

#1. risky business

The number one rule for being successful is never to take unnecessary risks. Have an escape route planned for any hazardous situation you find.

#4. nether you mind

Don’t set foot through a nether portal without a diamond sword, bow, iron armour, and a pickaxe. Once you’ve got what you need, get out again fast.

#2. cave man

#3. sleep year

#5. cavern brawl

#6. end game

The safest place to build your base is underground, but make sure to light up dark corners with torches so you’re not surprised by an unexpected creeper.

By the time you’re looking for dungeons, you should have a full set of enchanted weapons and tools. Build a safe mob grinder if you need more XP.

Kill enough sheep on the first day to build a bed, and always snooze through the night – it’s by far the most dangerous part of the game.

Before you leap through the End portal, you’ll want diamond everything, potions of regeneration, and water buckets to fend off Endermen. Good luck!

tHe vinyl countdoWn

Man’s best Enderman

hese gorgeous vinyl figures perfectly capture the spirit of the terrifying, teleporting Minecraft baddies. They’re nine inches tall, and come with their own stone block that can be gently inserted between their hands, staying in place thanks to magnets in their palms. The arms, as well as the head, are fully articulated. But whatever you do, don’t look them directly in the eyes…


Shop Price £22.49

steve's trivia

If you’re feeling brave, whack a Ghast’s fireball with your blade, and it’ll rebound right back at the beast, slaying it in one hit.

construct corner Home improvement

This Month: Elworrier, Reddit Boxy houses don’t need to be ugly, as this impressive build proves. Elworrier says it’s based on an architectural render found on the web, and it took about three hours to put together as an application to become a builder on the World of Keralis server. “It’s mostly made out of quartz, wooden planks, and different types of stone," he says. “The hardest part was fitting it to Minecraft’s scale.” After completing the build, he’s now moved on to making blocky recreations of multiplayer maps from Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare. n




66 Until dawn Careful on your way to our scariest review… these pages are dangerous at this time of night.

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.

Metal Gear Solid V: the PhantoM Pain Format PS4 (reviewed), XO, PC, PS3, 360 Publisher Konami Developer Kojima Productions Out Now


his latest (and last?) entry in one of gaming’s longest running series manages something that only the finest sequels achieve: it feels both familiar and original. From the grizzled voice of Snake, to the importance of silent sneaking and

The result, and this is absolutely crucial, is that whether you’re already into Metal Gear, a long-term naysayer, or missed the boat on prior entries entirely, this game is worth your time and effort. Director Hideo Kojima has, in the past, produced some of gaming’s most divisive titles, but here he manages to skilfully blend enough elements together to provide something that almost any player can appreciate. You might not have enjoyed previous Metal Gear outings, but that certainly doesn’t mean you’re not going to get along with this one. That new-found accommodation is mainly facilitated by the open world structure that’s thrust upon you, after an hour or two of exposition-laden prologue. While not expansive to the extent of the likes of GTA, Skyrim, or Far Cry, the environment offered here inflates

knowing when to pull out a trusty cardboard box, this is a game that will feel instantly recognisable to franchise veterans. And yet, thanks to its embracing of an open world, the implementation of the Mother Base command centre, and a host of new extras, those same franchise fans will likely have a few exclamation marks over head, too.

enormously the potential ways you can approach and complete your missions.

Free agent

Whether seeking to infiltrate a lightly guarded outpost positioned in isolation along a stretch of road, or rescue a prisoner from a fort built into the side of a cliff that houses enough troops to bring down the Death Star, the plan of action is left firmly in your own hands. From which direction you decide to attack is your first key choice, and it’s here that you learn the value of routinely consulting your map to locate the best vantage point. Scoping out enemy bases – crouching atop a hill or rocky outcrop,

“the open world inflates enormously the ways you can approach your missions” 60


binoculars up to Snake’s one good eye – allows you not only to note the position and weaponry of guards, but also to uncover the optimum entry point. Equally vital, it gives you the chance to memorise potential escape routes, should your best laid plans fall apart, and a hasty retreat become your only means of keeping your head attached. It’s impossible to overstate just how much more independent and truly in control you feel when you’re given such free reign. Where previous Metal Gear’s have defined for you how and where you start each level, here your experience of a mission can change significantly depending on how you approach it from its earliest beginnings. Replaying the same sortie a second or third time highlights this brilliantly – sneaking into a camp through an unguarded water pipe, for example, produces very different results and dangers to quietly disabling the power and nipping in while guards

How did John achieve the ultimate MGSV experience? By playing the game from inside his custom cardboard box.

One final love letter to gamers, sealed with a hiss

70 everybody’s Gone to the rapture What would you do if everyone suddenly disappeared? At least you’d have GM to keep you company.

76 rare replay

79 King’s Quest 30 full, classic videogames in one package? Is Rare trying to break the record or something?

Over three decades after the franchise’s debut title, we crack into a right royal treat of a reboot.



Gear headS

Meet the cast of characters that bring The Phantom Pain’s story to life:

inStant exPert

Getting to grips with the tools of Snake’s deadly trade Fulton Recovery

Phantom Cigar


Mother Base

Do yourself a favour and upgrade this vital system as early in the game as you can. Once you’ve got the technology to extract cargo crates, weapon emplacements, and vehicles, you’ll be able to earn improvements to Mother Base much more quickly.

If you’ve ever fantasised about owning a cigar capable of speeding up time then firstly: um, why? Secondly, you’re going to be in (outer) heaven here. This carcinogenic gadget ensures you can always count on the cover of darkness when sneaking about.

Keep in mind that the silencers in MGS V have a finite life span. Shoot enough bullets through one and it’ll eventually break and become useless. Keep an eye on its durability at all times while you’re in the field, or you risk accidentally making a noisy scene.

The pipes straddling the walls of your HQ can be climbed in order to reach certain platforms which would otherwise require painstaking trots up rows of staircases. Trust us – there are points in the game when you’ll be grateful of a shortcut.

diamond dog

Once grown up, D-Dog becomes one of your most reliable buddies, thanks to the ability to sniff out enemy locations and highlight them on your map.


Quiet has a huge range of interesting talents, but it’s her skill with firearms – particularly long range sniper rifles – that makes her someone to be feared and respected.

Big Boss

Despite being rather younger than in previous outings Snake is still every bit the grizzled, tortured warrior. Fresh from the events of Ground Zeroes, he’s out for revenge on his enemies.

d horse

Without question, D-Horse is your most important companion, and your only real option, aside from walking, when it comes to silently approaching enemy locations.


If Snake is the one willing to take risks and flirt with danger, Ocelot is the other side of the coin: calm, calculated and forever rational. They make the perfect double act.



recon Man

Keeping your eye on the enemy It’s vital to get a look inside a building’s doors and windows before moving into it. Getting caught in a confined space is never good.

Whenever you’re in the vicinity of even a single guard it makes good sense to stay in a crouched or prone position, to make sure they don’t spot you.

Use any nearby cliffs and rock formations as an overlook to scout out enemy camps and gain extra info before approaching them.

Aiming down the sights is a good way to check out your surroundings without blocking your peripheral vision by pulling out the binoculars.

are in a panic trying to get the generator back up and running. And your chosen direction of attack is just the beginning. A full day/night cycle affects how you might act in a marked way, making it more or less difficult to see and be seen. Scouting in daylight hours from a high perch might make the task of working out enemy patrol numbers and movement patterns that bit easier, but the enemy has eyes too, and they’re going to spot you if you so much as poke your head out from that long grass. Conversely, you’re more prone to mistakes when scouting during the night, but you’re less likely to be discovered, guards having to rely on floodlights and flashlights should they suspect something is awry. Once the basics have been learned and certain skills and understandings of enemy behaviour polished, the cover of darkness becomes your best friend. As long as you’re prepared to advance slowly and methodically, even the most

hostile of encampments can be overcome without so much as having to pull out a tranquilliser gun. It becomes common to find yourself entering the battlefield only at night, reluctant to take the unnecessary risks that come with the sun and accepting (and enjoying) the fact that you’re locking yourself into crawling and slithering your way to victory. That’s not to say that darkness makes your job simplistic – rather, the lack of light benefits those with the patience to stick to the path of the ninja and learn to the love the shadows.

Equip shape

Armaments and gadgets play an equally important role in getting you safely through, and out of, hot zones, but you’ll need to consider your loadout carefully. Under the light of the moon, night vision goggles are a must, but during the day they’re a waste of precious space. Even the traditional cardboard box has a correct time and place, and the right

firearm can mean the difference between a heroic escape or an ignominious death when a mission goes south. For anyone with ambitions to get through the game without being seen, you’re going to want to learn extremely quickly just what you can get away with when brandishing each type of weapon. Taking out enemies from afar with a sniper rifle is a great way to thin out the crowd, but it also puts the survivors on high alert, becoming more robust in their search patterns and dangerously trigger-happy. So long as you’re far enough away from your targets, enemies won’t be able to pinpoint your sniping location precisely, but give them the chance and they’ll quickly start pulling the strings of the net shut. Similarly, applying a suppressor to your assault rifle or sticking to using the silent tranquilliser gun might give you the ability to quietly put foes out of action, but unless you’ve given yourself a chance to pick up and hide the body then you’re just

MEtal GEar solid V: thE PhantoM Pain

SerieS GUide c si

classic gm c la gm s c si

ClassiC! c si

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Guaranteed solid GaminG Gold

classic gm c la gm s

classic gm c la gm s

The sneak-em-up almost as old as Mario

Fans unfortunately remember the MGS2 as a ruddy great troll of a game, thanks to the Raiden switcheroo.

classic gm c la gm s

The first MGS brought had a boat-load of memorable encounters, including the brilliant Psycho Mantis fight.

Metal Gear (1987)

Designed by Hideo Kojima and originally released on the MSX2 computer, then later on the NES, Metal Gear is often seen as the birth of the modern stealth genre. A version of this original is playable within Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

making things more difficult moving forwards. Enemies, understandably, react suspiciously to dead and unconscious comrades. It’s always worth keeping in mind that the least aggressive act might be the slowest, but it is very frequently the one of least resistance. Perhaps the best use of deadly arms, however, is to employ them as a distraction. Certainly, it’s here that explosives in particular come into their own, a well placed and timed detonation of C4 doing wonders to clear out a camp, giving you vital seconds to get in and out before your would-be adversaries stop panicking and start looking for a culprit. Alternatively, you can ditch all that, stick a load of bombs to a truck, drive it full speed into a base, and jump out at the last minute before blowing the thing up in a ball of fiery death. It might not be entirely in the spirit of Snake, but there’s no denying the entertainment factor. To help further your quest for dominance over the land, you’re able to

Metal Gear Solid (1998)

For many, this PS1 release is not only the best Metal Gear ever but the best game period. Its blend of gameplay, character, and narrative was seen as a revolution, and it remains an essential game today.

It had some problems, including a dubiously-attired female enemy squad with ‘issues’, but wow, what an

Metal Gear Solid 2: SonS of liBerty (2001)

At the time of its release, MGS2 brought with it impressive new heights of graphical realism, and was one of the games that helped the PS2 firmly cement its position as the dominant console of the generation.

Metal Gear Solid 4: GUnS of the PatriotS (2008)

While MGS3 has plenty to offer, it would be remiss of us to not mention its follow-up. Perhaps more than any other, this entry split audience opinion on Kojima’s directing.

“each buddy provides their own unique brand of support abilities to complement snake” employ the help of ‘buddies’, including a trusty steed. Just like the mounts in Red Dead Redemption or The Witcher 3, Snake’s horse is more essential than optional – tackling the long distances between inhabited bases on foot would be a serious chore.

Friend game

‘D-Horse’ isn’t Big Boss’ only companion, however. As the story progresses, spiritual siblings D-Dog and D-Walker are introduced, as well as silent, scantily-clad sniper Quiet. Each provides their own unique brand of support abilities, allowing them to complement Big Boss’ stealthy abilities across your many different styles of play.

Your faithful hound, for example, uses his sensitive nose to mark enemies on the map. This has obvious benefits when it comes to tracking guard’s movements, but it also comes in handy for locating prisoners in need of extraction, some key to your missions, others acting as optional objectives. Quiet, however, is magnificent at taking out enemies from afar, while the robotic D-Walker is geared towards those that prefer a straight shoot-out over stealth. You soon come to appreciate the different skills of each and it becomes instinctive to switch between them depending on the situation. Those optional objectives, along with a number of ‘side ops’, are important for

more than simply ticking a box and achieving golden ‘S’ ranks. Rescuing allies, gathering resource crates, and collecting intel documents is vital to empowering your base of operations. A strong Mother Base, as it’s called, ensures a strong Snake. It’s from this cosy HQ that you enter the open-world combat zone ‘proper’, experience key narrative events involving Metal Gear cast members both new and familiar, and choose which weapons and gadgets to unlock and upgrade. Fuelling such development takes manpower, however, and for that you need good personnel, rescued and recruited out in the field, each possessing skills ranked across a number of categories that make them more or less suited to the roles you need. Some might be specialists in technology research and development, others in intel-gathering, or medical knowledge. The better the staff you have in each category, the more rewards you see. Each weapon you can create, for




Pro-tip: never get lazy when it comes to finding a hidden spot and scouting out the terrain in front of you.

The Final Verdict!

example, demands its own degree of expertise and manpower, some requiring you to hunt down a whole gaggle of clued-in collaborators. Or you might instead focus your efforts on building a strong intel group, who’ll help you during missions by randomly popping enemy locations onto your HUD. Features like this, tying directly into your success or failure out in the field, make Mother Base feel like a constant, important presence, rather than the pointless doll’s house it could so easily have been. Always, no matter what the mission, you’re thinking about how you want to enhance and improve it, and what you need to gather to do so. Such a mindset is vital, too – neglect your headquarters and you’ll find yourself struggling for the lack of the game’s best weapons and gadgets. Prisoners aren’t your only option when it comes to filling out your personal posse – in fact, successfully extracting them is difficult enough that you’ll essentially be forced to turn elsewhere for new recruits if you want to keep Mother Base well-populated. Enemy guards are your other source of manpower, typically less skilled and intelligent, but far more numerous, and

surprisingly easy to capture and reprogram to suit your needs. This person-pilfering is achieved through the Fulton Recovery device, a balloon that can be attached to people and used to send them to your private residence. While it sounds simple enough, the very idea of acquiring enemy troops creates an interesting diversion and balance between the traditional sneaking structure and the need to forcefully engage. It ensures you can’t avoid contact forever. Invisibly knocking guards unconscious (Big Boss’ ignorance of necromancy meaning you can’t extract the dead) is an ability you must hone to fine precision, either through smart use of the tranquilliser gun, or getting in close and choking them out before they can retaliate. The game’s dynamic is still firmly based around stealth, but at the same time you’re constantly encouraged to put yourself in the kinds of dangerous situations you’d have avoided in previous Metal Gears. It’s subtle touches such as this which help to mix up the series’ classic formula, while still staying pleasingly true to its core spirit. Eventually, you’re able to upgrade the Fulton to allow for the direct extraction of

“subtle touches mix up the series’ classic formula, while still staying true to its spirit” 64


Due to the comparative lack of hiding spots, smaller outposts can often be more complicated to stealthily navigate than larger ones.

bigger items – vehicles, AA guns, and cargo containers filled with valuable resources. Attaching a balloon to a truck, hiding in the grass, and observing the stunned, confused reactions of nearby guards is a treat that never gets old, and if you’re quick, you can even take advantage of their disbelief to sneak around behind one or two of them, take them out, and send them hurtling into the sky after it.

dead space

While populated areas are full of this kind of interaction, the rest of the world is rather devoid of life. Wild animals and plants are littered about, but unlike the expansive settings of an Ubisoft or Bethesda offering, the environment presented here never managed to rid us

of the sense that the areas between outposts and bases are only there for the sake of it. It’s initially fun to gallop on horseback between locations, but after a while the lifelessness of the intermediate zones makes travel a chore. On the one hand, it does ensure moments of quiet downtime that give the stealth action sequences room to breathe, and certainly we were very willing to endure the long, repetitive treks through the countryside for the sake of such an impressive freedom in approaching missions. But still, that is what they are – long, repetitive treks – and some distractions to break up the monotony would certainly not have gone amiss. Travel Scrabble, perhaps? Luckily the feel of the narrative could not be more opposite. Its mix of the

MEtal GEar solid V: thE PhantoM Pain ridiculous and the heartfelt is anything but dull, feeling very much in the vein of classic Kojima. It doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be self-aware parody or hard-hitting military critique, at times achieving both and at others neither – but never once is it anything less than utterly charming. The icing on the cake is a cast of characters drawn broader and more outlandishly than anything even Looney Toons ever managed, their adventures keeping the story unremittingly compelling. They’re the kind of people you want to follow just to see what bonkers thing they’re going to do next. Before the final credits roll the plot touches on almost every possible criticism and complication of the modern war machine. Child soldiers, the private military-industrial complex, the lust for control of oil fields, secret Soviet weapon projects, the destruction of local cultures, the seedy influence of corporate interests, and more. Because so much ground is covered it’s impossible for it to go into great depth on any single point. Instead, it’s all about looking at the wider picture – the concept that each individual terror of war is insignificant in the face of the overall gestalt of pain and suffering that every conflict inevitably brings with it.

tale spin

It’s told, of course, in Kojima’s trademark style of elaborate cutscenes and dialogue on the Greek tragedy end of the drama spectrum. Snake and his allies have plenty to say, but it’s left to their nemesis, Skull Face, to do the preaching, and become the pivot used to highlight the negative effects that industrialised nations wreak on their less wealthy victims. Given just how over-the-top everything is, though, it’s perfectly acceptable to ignore the underlying messages and simply enjoy the uniquely pantomime atmosphere. There has been a tendency, likely the result of the respect garnered by the original Metal Gear Solid, to treat this series as though it is some sort of holier-than-thou example of ‘serious’ gaming. While there perhaps is an element of truth in there somewhere, it’s important to also remember that this has always been a series that has revelled in the crazy and the extreme. This is as much a sci-fi comedy as it is a serious commentary on the nature and impact of war – and we wouldn’t have it any other way. So much is true particularly when you consider the spectrum of enemies that stand in the way of your success. Generic soldiers take up most of your time, but these skirmishes are intersected regularly with encounters with giant, muscle-bound men covered in

tranSlation Station

No Russian? No problem!


henever you’re presented with a side mission that promises to provide you with a translator as a reward, make sure to get right on it. Without someone on side who speaks the lingo, Snake is unable to probe foreign enemies for information. You’ll need experts in many different tongues too, as Snake’s adventure takes him across many different regions. Once you can understand what your foes are saying, you can pump them for information, such as where their buddies are, where prisoners are being housed, and what sort of resources a base might be holding in storage.

flame, floating psychics flaunting their powers of mind control, and beefed-up super-soldiers bringing their guns to bear with baffling speed and accuracy. Oh, and the giant bi-pedal nuclear robots are back too, of course. The miraculous thing is that this approach works alongside the consistently more serious business of staying invisible and not getting yourself killed. It’s here that Kojima demonstrates the true deftness of his touch, ensuring that the wackiness of the story never undermines how seriously you take your role as Snake on the battlefield. However, there are problems thrown up by the open world format when it comes to delivering that narrative during its final stages. When the plot starts ramping up towards its conclusion the game fails to engineer an elegant way to keep the pace of the story in top gear whilst also allowing you to indulge in the freedom you’ve grown accustomed to. Having the most dramatic cutscene you’ve ever experienced suddenly stop halfway through, labelled with a ‘to be continued’ sticker, is an unwelcome jolt that can’t help but kill your immersion. You’re then immediately thrown into Mother Base, in order to

upgrade your equipment, before heading straight back to the conclusion of the cutscene as though the break to a location hundreds of miles away had never happened. It’s a seriously clunky solution to a problem that sticks out like a sore thumb. Brutally speaking, it feels surprisingly amateurish given the calibre of talent behind the project and the level of quality on show elsewhere. If this example was a one off it might have been forgivable, but over the final chapters it happens numerous times, and the joke quickly wears thin. Still, a general rule remains true: for everything there is not to like about MGS V, there are five things that are impossible not to love. There’s such a wealth of content here that any irritations are generally forgotten a couple of hours after the event, once you’ve stumbled across a new approach or a new piece of equipment that allows you to interact with the world and its populace in a way you’d not previously conceived. There’s a seriously impressive amount of content on offer here too – you’re free to fly through the main missions without fear that you’ll be left wanting for things to do after. We finished the main narrative in roughly 30 hours, but once the final cutscene had played out, our overall completion percentage was still in the low 30s. Bigger isn’t always better, as the original Metal Gear Solid so aptly demonstrated, but when bigger is accompanied by this degree of diversity it’s hard to not feel spoilt. Given the status of both MGS V and Hideo Kojima, combined with the drama that has surrounded Konami and this franchise over the past couple of years, many fans have whipped themselves into a frenzy, hoping for this to be the best game ever made – or at the very least, the best Metal Gear. We’re not sure either have turned out to be true, but failing to hit such lofty standards is certainly no failure in our minds. While there are some niggling things that could be improved, the overall experience is a sumptuous combination of pleasure, and deeper thought about the series’ core themes. It’s that expert blend that makes this, while not our favourite MGS to date, certainly the one that’s most worth playing for the largest number of people. The open world structure brings with it a set of rules that are far more accessible to broader western tastes than anything Kojima has provided before, while around those rules is wrapped enough craziness and intrigue for any hardcore fan. It might not be as supremely focused and faultlessly executed as some of its most celebrated predecessors, but Metal Gear Solid V is, without question, a mission worth taking. It’s a game with an incredible amount to give – if this is the series’ final hurrah, or at least its last outing under Kojima’s leadership, then we’re pleased to report that it’s going out with a deeply satisfying bang. n

loves… True freedom to approach missions however you like. The story’s as crazy and outlandish as ever.

hates… Open world design sometimes clashes with the narrative. The land between outposts feels empty and barren.

better than…

Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4 managed to deliver an impressive open world, but it failed to deliver the same level of diversity and intrigue that MGS V does.

worse than…

Metal Gear Solid

The first PS1 outing of Snake remains the series high point, birthing an entire genre of stealth action. Will it ever receive a current-gen re-do? Should it?

online The game’s multiplayer mode, Metal Gear Online, won’t be up until October on consoles, or January 2016 on PC. Due to the delay, we weren’t able to factor this feature in to our review.

Judgement %


Maybe not the finest Metal Gear, but certainly one of the finest games of this generation. John Robertson




Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Brett Dalton, Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere, and The Pacific’s Rami Malek all make the cast.

The Final Verdict!

Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Supermassive Games Out Now Players 1

Until Dawn

Or ‘I Know What You Did Last Winter’


s Chris sits in the snow-decked cable car destined for Blackwood Mountain, he tells a high school anecdote that nicely summarises chaos theory. A guy in his class kept snapping a girl’s training bra, you see, so the teacher told Chris to swap desks with him. This turn of events kickstarts a friendship with then classmate, now fellow protagonist, Josh. “If it weren’t for the fact Jeanie Simmonds decided to wear a low cut shirt," Chris says to Sam, another of Until Dawn’s eight playable characters, “you could be talking to some other person entirely”. But while developer Supermassive centres on the butterfly effect, it often struggles to take off. This PS4-exclusive survival horror tells the story of eight friends making an

annual pilgrimage to a picturesque ski lodge, where one year earlier two members of the group died under strange circumstances. The aforementioned Josh reunites the gang to celebrate their memory (and possibly have a little party), but when an insane clown-masked killer rudely crashes it, the do turns deadly. And so, across 11 chapters, you’ll creep through graphically gorgeous settings, casting the light from your torch/lighter/ phone across vacated log cabins, menacing mines, thick forests, and dank sanatoriums, examining objects and solving the odd dilemma. Areas are linear, and puzzles limited like a streamlined Resident Evil, to maintain the game’s slasher flick pace. Your actions determine who lives and who dies – a big promise. What if you fail a QTE because your cat distracted you? Will it trigger an irreversible chain reaction? Well, as it turns out, ripples here

“you’re not so much player as director, manipulating characters and events” 66


don’t so much cause tidal waves as other equally sized ripples. Incidents can feel inconsequential. Early on, when a massive icicle plummets towards Mike and Jessica as they enjoy a quick roll in the snow, for instance, it doesn’t matter whether you complete the QTE or not, because no one can die in this bit. Miss a button press at the apex of a perilous cliff and your character simply slips, dusts themselves off, then starts the ascent again; bungle another QTE climb and you’ll split your head on a rock. An arbitrary choice – turn left or turn right? – might result in death, while a seemingly meaningful one lets you keep living.

Dawn stars

Without wanting to spoil too much, alterations are often self-contained. In one scenario there’s the option to perform a painful bit of body modification. Maybe it’ll influence your ability to fend off attacks or perform certain tasks later? It’s hard to tell. The outcome is near identical, except for one QTE which you’re never sure is actually significant. When you’re besieged in the woods you can indeed meet a demise, but this doesn’t have a huge effect on the next bit, in which your friend simply

Gotta solve ‘em all

Three subplots to unravel Burn, baby There’s an arsonist on the loose! Every so often you’ll stumble upon police reports and see flames blazing in the distance. Just who is this mysterious firestarter?


Get a clue Examine discarded lockets, glasses, and love notes to uncover the mystery of the group’s two lost friends. How exactly did they die, one year ago today?


Peak your curiosity There’s clearly more to the history of Blackwood Mountain than meets the eye. Just what happened here back in the 1950s?



loves… A well told horror story that keeps the tension high. Astonishing visuals paired with incredibly believable animation.

hates… Replays can give you too much of a peek behind the curtain.

Have face, will tRavel The amazing mugs of Until Dawn There aren’t many locations as ripe for horror as this twilit, serenely brooding, snow-blasted wilderness.

The game doesn’t just feature an array of visually incredible locations – it also boasts among the most believable character models ever seen in a game. Supermassive conducted extensive facial and performance capture to get the best likeness they could, and they utterly satisfy as real people, with life behind the eyes and weight behind the action. Even the most subtle flicker of emotion is visible, from a subversive smirk to a knowing glance, and this prevents the need for our actors to ham it up. If you stay still for five seconds, the camera actually cuts to a close-up of your character’s chiselled Hollywood features, letting you see light dance across their soft skin and shadows thrown over real-time wrinkles. And that’s not all. On the pause menu, the giant head of whoever you’re playing as fills the screen, whereupon you can use the right thumbstick to shift their gaze and move their bonce around. Listen, we don’t think you understand the full implications of this: in Until Dawn, you can literally control the near-photorealistic head of Peter Stormare. While authentically person-like in pictures, faces do look a bit less human in motion, with smiles in particular seeming a little botoxy. When you think about it, though, that’s pretty realistic. That’s Hollywood, baby.

How many times did Ben say, “Hey wait, isn’t that the person from…“? Precisely eight times.

From their wavy hair to their flowing clothes, Until Dawn’s characters look utterly convincing at any angle.

explores a watchtower like she would if you survived, only without you there to trade quips with. There are enough changes at least to make a second playthrough to see different outcomes worthwhile, and Supermassive makes this convenient by letting you start from the beginning of any chapter. It’s a shame, though, that there’s no way to skip cutscenes or dialogue, but at least the game’s length is pitched just right at about five hours. While its butterfly effect system is flawed, Until Dawn is never dull. Whether crunching through a snowy wilderness, or searching rotten cadavers in a dingy morgue, atmospheric visuals keep the tension intact throughout. And when quick time events do trigger, they’re unobtrusive and well communicated. One of the best takes advantage of the gamepad’s gyro sensor to make you stay still and avoid detection from, say, a murderous psychopath or squirrel. Opening doors and grabbing levers by holding the shoulder button and pulling the right thumbstick, meanwhile, feels pleasantly tactile. With each location containing only one or two points of interaction, environments strike the right balance between guiding you, and giving you freedom.

Although always stylish, some elements lack substance. Before each chapter there’s a countdown – ‘X hours until dawn’ – but elapsing time will only feel like a theme for some. A plan specifically mentioning the arrival of dawn is only put into motion for those that make certain choices. Splash screens and loading icons show a grinning skull with snow pouring downwards from it like an hourglass. Though it’s arresting, it can feel very surface level, depending on which paths you take, potentially leaving you with the impression of certain premises abandoned and unfulfilled.

Flaws and effect

The personalities system also doesn’t seem to affect much, despite introductory character screens that detail their attributes in a word cloud, and its prominence in menus which track traits such as bravery, honesty, and curiosity. Given these ratings can go up and down, you’d expect some sort of malleable human drama, but besides binary dialogue choices that let you, for example, comfort someone or chastise them, their presence is hardly noticeable. When Chris catches Sam snooping on his phone, the game warns that he now

distrusts her, but it’s not clear whether this actually means anything. Still, characters are well-drawn and likeable, utilizing age-old horror archetypes: there’s the nerdy shut-in, the no-nonsense athlete, the Hayden Panettiere. Witty writing and fantastic performances eliminate the element of cringe – though it is strange to see obviously adult actors playing teens happy that their parents are away. And that’s not to say there’s a lack of great ideas here. Between each chapter you’ll pay a visit to a psychiatrist played by the incomparable Peter Stormare, whose mental health quizzes alter the world. Point to a picture of gore in his Big Book of Scary Things rather than, say, needles, and you’ll see a jar of quivering flesh on his desk next time you’re there. And with 22 butterfly effects in all, there’s scope for experimentation. With this in mind, you’re not so much player as director, manipulating characters and events like a puppet master, and watching gleefully as they play out. While the butterfly effect often boils down to more of a small flow chart than a long and intricate chain of events, Until Dawn is nevertheless effective, tight, and wonderfully cinematic. n

The impact of your choices is a little too inconsistent.

Better than…

Heavy Rain

Quantic Dream’s unfocused, open-ended mystery sloppily changes tone and genre on a whim. Until Dawn shows more discipline.

Worse than…

Mass Effect 2

Bioware’s RPG shoots for the cinematic and does it better than Until Dawn, with a richer cast of characters and sharper writing across the board.

2nd opinion “I wasn’t expecting much from Until Dawn, but I actually ended up loving it even more than Ben did. Weirdly, this is a great experience to share with friends or your significant other, tossing theories about the story back and forth across a sofa along with the pad.” Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman, Editor

Judgement %


More linear than you’d like, but this is a well-crafted and replayable horror experience. Ben Griffin



Review The Final Verdict!


One character, school backpackwearing melee fighter Mana, blows raspberries at RPG conventions.

An intriguing twist on the JRPG party-gathering formula. Combat is deep and character customisation satisfying.

hates… Lack of environmental variety actively dulls the senses. Dialogue is blunter than a wall – and as emotionally involving.

Better than…

Natural Doctrine

A cookie-cutter cast and static character development leave you wanting so much more from your dungeon crawling.

Worse than… Format PS3, PS Vita (reviewed) Publisher NIS America Developer Lancarse Out Now Players 1

Lost Dimension Gunpowder, treason and… not a great plot

If there were a traitor on Team GM, who would it be? What do you mean ‘if'? Dun-dun-duuuuuuuuun!


oo many JRPGs run through a very familiar story set up (some hybrid of ‘kids team up to save the world’ and ‘kids join forces to attend Japanese high school'), but this unique title from the under-celebrated studio behind Etrian Odyssey has a refreshing arrangement. You start off with a large party of characters, but this number dwindles as traitors in the group are exposed and… disposed of. You are Sho Kasugai, an initially mildly amnesiac (ok, so some story aspects do dip into predictable JRPG waters like a walrus rolling with a mighty sploosh through a crack in an iceflow) chap with mysterious psychic abilities. He’s thrown into a tower, which ascends upwards through steadily tougher battles against the minions of a villainous terrorist called The End and his army of robots, turrets, and cyber ninjas. Alongside a team of 11 other gifted people, known as SEALED,

you’re tasked with assassinating him at the tower’s top, thereby preventing a nuclear winter-inducing terror attack. The rub is that for each floor you climb, a party member turns out to be batting for The End’s team. You’ll have to pick them out via the medium of colour-coded guesswork, not too dissimilar to the peg-based board game Mastermind. When party members do die, you’ll get their abilities to dish out to other characters, which is handy considering how much tinkering you’ll do with each of them.

Tossed-in translation

If you’ve spent time playing through the excellent Valkyria Chronicles, you’ll have more than a good idea of how combat in Lost Dimension works. Your team and the enemy’s take it in turns to fire lead into one another. Within the small window of movement you’re assigned each turn you look to work with fellow soldiers in order to open up assisted attacks. Scraps get particularly tactical when you’re forced to consider your foes’

“for each toWer floor you climB, a party memBer turns out to Be on the enemy’s side” 68


movements and ability to team up, too. Especially enticing is the depth on offer when it comes to upgrading team skills and loadouts. Individual special abilities, called Gifts, unlock over a pleasantly intertwining skill tree system begging to be pored over between affrays. Yet for all the gunfire pew-pew-ing about the place, combat is by no means bulletproof. The camera can be unreliable, often hiding behind nearby buildings rather than focusing on the action. Also, the cold, hard sci-fi edge to proceedings saps personality away from the combatants and their surroundings. Not that they had too much warmth to them to start with. Whether it’s the fault of the original script or the localisation work done upon it, the dialogue is functional at best, turgid at worst. Despite characterful Japanese dramas and wide-ranging ensemble casts now being a dime a dozen on Vita (Danganronpa, Zero Escape, and Persona 5, anyone?), the gaggle of teens under your tactical tutelage here interact with all the enticing humanity of a bag of concrete. With a little more spark behind the characters, this could have been up there with the very best of the handheld’s already billowing array of Japanese titles. As it stands, it’s a deep and intriguing RPG betrayed by a honking script and the dull individuals that populate it. n

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Another ensemble of kids in an equally bleak scenario, this Battle Royale/ Phoenix Wright mash-up oozes charm.


need to KnoW Recognise the voice of The End? That’ll be because Matthew Mercer was also responsible for Batman: Arkham Knight’s Robin, Hearthstone’s Rexxar, and Resident Evil 6’s Leon.

Judgement %


A stuffy story hinders, but its party-whittling sci-fi conceit is too enticing to ignore. Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman

GAlAk-Z: The DimensionAl

loves… Collecting five Crash Coins grants a rare retry, at the cost of hiding all your former gear in a special, guarded crate somewhere in the level.

Your mech form can grapple enemies or objects, then hurl them forward. Either’s a fine way to introduce foes to hazards.

Dynamic, exciting space combat that trains you into an ace pilot. Enemy AI clever enough to be a joy to outsmart.

hates… Samey mission types can blunt the fun of repeated plays. Occasional performance issues in the busiest moments. Randomly spawned crates offer new abilities, salvage to spend in shops, or more missiles. Listen for the sonar pings to locate them.

While hull damage is persistent, your slowly-recharging shields provide some room for pilot error. If they pop, seek cover. Immediately.

Better than…


Galak-Z owes a debt to Atari’s 1979 classic, but whip-smart AI and that roguelike structure make it a confident evolution of the score chaser.

Worse than… Format PS4, PC Publisher 17-Bit Developer 17-Bit Out Now Players 1

Galak-Z: The Dimensional

Spelunky HD

Shares a spirit with Galak-Z, but its ace locations compensate for dumber enemies, while daily challenges provide more incentive to return.

How many new swear words has Matt Clapham invented in the course of reviewing Galak-Z? Actually, he’s lost count.

You’re a Gundam hero, A-Tak


ur hands are trembling. Our heart hasn’t stopped pounding. We seem to have forgotten to breathe. It’s taken every ounce of skill to emerge from the constrained lair of the second season boss; now all we need to do is reach the warp point without losing our final point of health. A mere three Hammerheads surround it, but we can’t afford to take chances. Bugs it is. So we fly ace pilot A-Tak around until we find a spitting Bug, keeping it on our tail. Then we lure another. We’re juking over their shots with quick jabs of Square, but it won’t be long before one lands. No time to think now – we squeeze the boost and clatter right at the Imperial ships and then past them. The Bugs take the bait. We hear, rather than see, the resulting fight, lurking just offscreen and firing

indiscriminately. One by one, the enemy indicators wink out. We’re home free.

Anime day

This is Galak-Z. It’s sort of a roguelike and definitely not a twin-stick shooter, but what really defines it is its lofty skill ceiling and capacity for generating dynamic encounters. We’ve had many such moments as each of the three factions – Bugs, Void Raiders, and Imperials – interact in environments filled with hazards and toys, though not even half have ended nearly so well. What makes that manageable is how the game is structured: it’s divvied up into ‘seasons’ of five procedurally pieced-together ‘episodes’, each new season unlocked forever once you complete the last one. If the appropriation of TV naming conventions confuses, it’s because Galak-Z is a love letter to VHS-era anime, also borrowing a Macross-style missile barrage, a Battle Of The Planets flight suit

“as you increase in skill, so do galak-z’s intelligent enemies. you’ll still Be dying a lot”

for A-Tak, and a Gundam-like secondary mech form for your craft which you can access at will. It’s barmy and brilliant. It’s also hard. Partially that’s down to the controls. The left stick rotates your nose, but the left and right triggers fire fore and aft thrusters to move you. It’s a learnable setup but, with no air resistance and a weighty sense of momentum, it takes some practice before you’re moving in anything but drunken arcs. Persist and you’ll soon have the hang of not only movement, but deft little tricks that will make you feel more like a cocky flyboy (or girl), such as flipping your craft 180 degrees and firing at your pursuers as you boost backwards. But as you increase in skill, so do the game’s frighteningly intelligent enemies – and since damage is persistent and health is hard to recover, you’ll still be dying a lot. That works in that being regularly outgunned forces creative thinking and makes every ability upgrade feel like a real score. Oft-repeated objective types and occasional slowdown in busy scenes can frustrate, yet Galak-Z is something new and wonderful: an intricate interlinking of intelligent systems that forces you play smartly in turn. That’s worth facing down a few gribblies for. n

2nd oPinion “It pains me to admit that I would not fare particularly well in a real galactic conflict – this much 17-Bit’s quirky shooter has taught me. That’s not, however, a criticism. The game’s frantic space combat is fantastic, just a little overly difficult for my frayed nerves and delicate temper.” Dave Meikleham, News Editor, OPM

Judgement %


A roguelike for the cerebral pilot. Those with viper-like reflexes shouldn’t miss this step up for gaming AI. Matt Clapham




Whose bike is that? And why is there only one plate? Unraveling the mystery means questioning every tiny detail.

The Final Verdict!

Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer The Chinese Room Out Now Players 1

eveRybody’s Gone To The RapTuRe

And you’ll kick yourself if you don’t join them


here is a run button in The Chinese Room’s cerebral Shropshire-based exploratory story. You won’t need it. The idea here is that you’ll take the time to drink in the world you’re exploring, actively reading the clues ushering you towards always tempting answers. How did the quaint English village of Yaughton suddenly become apparently empty of life? Why do pint glasses sit empty on beer garden tables or cigarettes lie still-smoking in ashtrays? And what are all these blood-stained tissues we see littering the living rooms of the ex-residents’ houses? Despite not physically meeting the people who called the place home, you’ll get to know them intimately through

your meticulous exploration. And these characters are so enrapturing, you won’t want to risk missing anything by rushing. The first thing that’ll strike you, as you crest over the rise and step into the village proper, is just how familiar it feels. We’re writing this review having spent the best part of our youth grappling with the ’80s (yes, ok we’re that old). Anyone with a similar glam rock-stained past will instantly grasp onto the long-thought-lost physical elements of that era which have made their way into Rapture’s world. There are the obvious things, such as red phone boxes and letter boxes. And then there are the seeping, admirably detailed touches. The local pub has a smoky haze to it, long since absent in even the most dingy of today’s drinking pits. The local garage sells those propane gas canisters which used to be so much more common before we realised how dangerous indoor gas heaters could be. Even the phones

“despite never meeting the people of yaughton, you’ll get to know them intimately” 70


you come across while rifling through people’s houses are chunky, finger-trapping rotary models.

Light club

Immediately, for us Brits at least, there’s this implacable sense of loss to proceedings. OK, so the ’80s might not have been the best era going (we still haven’t quite forgiven Rick Astley for all the rickrolling), but by cherry-picking these quaint touchstones of long-buried memory, The Chinese Room imbues its players with an imbedded yearning. And this is exactly in line with the general tone of the story… …which we aren’t going to touch on at all here. Part of Rapture’s lure is that its narrative is told in part by the player. As you explore Yaughton and the picturesque countryside, you’re guided loosely around by a floating, shining ball. Exploring areas, whether you’re following this glowing sphere or not, reveals snippets of stories. The residents of the village may have long since departed, but left behind are light-based shadows, depicting the events that may or may not have led to their… well… to what happened afterwards.

Top five…

…things we didn’t know we missed from the 80s


Cheap curries Inflation, eh? What a bleeder.

TVs you have to tune Who needs buttons when you’ve got knobs? Honestly.


Rotary telephones Another modern convenience ruined by buttons, this time over a disc of holes.


Magazines are everywhere Not that we’re bitter, but life was better in many ways before the arrival of the Internet…


Camping holidays Rainy day Scrabble in a tent/ caravan, anyone?



loves… The deliberate pace, juxtaposed with the always rising tension.

Landmarks are perfectly placed around the world, drawing you towards them and pulling your curiosity from place to place.

Yaughton is gorgeous, and filled with touching, crafted detail. The music and voice acting put other games to shame. There isn’t any filler here – every object you see in the world is there for a reason, and tells its own tales that feed back into the overall story.

Yaughton is a small enough place that everyone who lived here pretty much knew everyone else. That doesn’t mean they all got on, though…

Characters’ voices are immediately recognisable, and there’s a variety in accent, as well as tone, to help distinguish them from each other.

hates… Sixaxis controls pull you out of the experience somewhat.

Better than…

The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter

Looks lovely, but the interesting story stuff is too sparsely peppered, and digging it all up is a bit of a chore.

worse than…

Dark Souls

In-game ’80s price references that made us well jel’: 50p pints, £2 curry night, and 20p for a cup of tea.

Some of the more momentous conversations you eavesdrop in on are built up to with subtle verve.

If that sounds coy, it’s because we really do not under any circumstances want to spoil anything. The characters whose stories you uncover are incredibly well put together. From the dialogue, which is never anything less than captivating, through to the voice acting which – and we’re totally going there – is the best we’ve yet heard in gaming. There are scenes which will take your breath away, dripping with drama and nary a whiff of pretension. The ways the village’s residents react to the circumstances they find themselves in feel jarringly real. Perhaps it’s the masterful implementation of their faceless ethereal constructs, requiring you to fill in the visual gaps with your own brain and to stop and intently listen to what they are saying, but they actually sound like people. They don’t sound like they’ve been written, or like they’ve been birthed by a directorial hand. Partly this is down to your own part in the affair. Your role is one of detective, though not in an overt sense. Your faceless, nameless (or are they?) protagonist wanders from place to place, observing, so that you can slot together the pieces of the story yourself. There’s an awful lot of trust

Oh look, it’s the corner at the end of every middle England 80s road. Expect you can’t smell the phone booth wee taint.

involved on the developer’s part. The Chinese Room are asking you to slow down, to observe, and to actively engage with what you’re seeing, not with a button press but with something deeper, a shift in perspective, or a mental knotting together of several story strands.

Private eyes

It says a lot that the one videogame-y element of all of this, the tilting of the sixaxis required to fine tune the occasionally static motes of light that dot the map and demarcate the more momentous story slices, feels jarring and out of place. As too do the rare instances where you come across locked doors or un-jumpable knee-high hedgerows which indicate the edges of the map. Not that you’ll notice these niggles often. There’s too much to drag your attention back into your own frantic ordering of thoughts about what you’re seeing. Ushering you along throughout is a throbbing orchestral soundtrack, which permeates moments of intense panic as ably as it lets those slower burning scenes hit for all their worth. The sound design is fantastic in numerous other ways, too. A particularly dramatic occasion occurs (no

spoilers) and the crescendo of sound it blasts your ears with is like a fog horn, crumpling you aurally as you deduce the true horror of the situation unfolding before you. Apart from a slightly awkward run-in to the finale, which feels oddly linear compared to the rest of the game, Rapture never lets up. Each chapter culminates in a guaranteed heart string-twanger, and the build up to each is ominous, intense, and, at times, genuinely harrowing. It’s not about speed, then, but pace, impact, and timing. And there’s an artistry at work behind the placement of things. You might be walking over to have a look at a distant car, its doors open and a bottle of whiskey perched on the boot, only to realise that this visual carrot was dangled before you just so you could then discover a doctor’s surgery loaded with hidden exposition only the attentive will latch onto. Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture is brave, it’s challenging, and it’s essential. How The Chinese Room has managed to convey this level of narrative artistry, while simultaneously offering us the freedom to dig through it’s characters’ lives so freely, is beyond us. It has to be experienced to be believed. n

An odd choice for this box, but this is another game which trusts its players to pick up the pieces of its story and extrapolate the rest themselves.

2nd opinion “In terms of environmental detail, this is a truly staggering achievement: Yaughton Valley feels like a totally real slice of rural England. I wasn’t so keen on Rapture’s Lost-like mystery, but its complex, well-acted characters made the empty world feel surprisingly alive.” Tom Sykes, Contributing Writer

Judgement %


An exceptional story, told via one of the most vivid game worlds around. Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman





The Final Verdict!

Great weapon skills that offer interesting new ways to play. Challenges for each dungeon reward experimentation.

hates… A forgettable story and fixation on groan-worthy jokes. None of the absurd spectacle that uplifts its contemporaries.

Better than… Victor’s default movement controls are mapped to the keyboard, putting an emphasis on dodging enemy attacks.

Sacred 3

A confused attempt to put the ‘action’ in action-RPG, where the lack of character customisation created a listless, repetitive campaign.

Worse than… Format PC Publisher EuroVideo Medien Developer Haemimont Games Out Now Players 1-4

VictoR VRan

An undead adventure that’s a bit bare bones

What should Victor do if the Hunter thing doesn’t work out? He could always become a white Vran man.


very action-RPG released in the last few years seems like a response to the fact that some people really don’t like Diablo III. Fair enough, Blizzard’s hack-and-slash had some problems at launch, but now – plenty of patches and an expansion later – it stands as a high point of the genre. It’s a fantastic, fast-paced romp through the hordes of Hell, and its competitors keep trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. Victor Vran, like so many other action-RPGs, fails to learn any of Diablo III’s lessons. What we’re left with is a solid but unremarkable campaign of undead violence. Vran is a monster hunter, newly arrived in Zagrovia – a generic Eastern European city with plenty of beasties to kill. The story is instantly forgettable, and thankfully sparse. In every instance, progression is a matter of talking to a person at the city’s palace, and then using a world map to teleport to the next

location. The map consists of a number of street-level hubs containing multiple dungeons. Your job is to fight through the hub, then the dungeons, then teleport back to the palace to do it all again. Accompanying you along the way is the Voice. He’s your narrator, and the primary vehicle for Victor Vran’s almost-jokes. For an idea of the game’s tone, imagine the Chuckle Brothers doing a Hammer Horror pastiche… for ten hours. The best that can said about the humour is that it didn’t make us cringe ourselves into permanent muscle damage. It takes a much better game than this to justify an entire dungeon full of The Stanley Parable references.

Vran Helsing

Despite all this, we find ourselves warming to Victor thanks to his enjoyably creative arsenal. Vran’s loot is a bit sparse, consisting of small stat changes to a handful of weapon types – each with a basic attack and two skills. At first, these seem far too simple, but learn the specific quirks, and there are some satisfying

“ImagIne the ChuCkle Brothers doIng a hammer horror pastIChe… for ten hours” 72


combinations to be found. Our favourite quickly becomes the shotgun’s Quickshot ability – it instantly recharges when a monster is felled, meaning it can be chained into a series of meaty insta-kills on a dungeon’s weakest enemies. Later we find a ‘vampiric’ shotgun, which combines the above skills with a life-steal effect that restores our health with each hit. It’s a weapon that stays in our loadout long after its damage stops being useful. By hitting the middle-mouse button, you can instantly switch between two equipped weapons – we like to use our powerful rapier to cut through enemies, before switching to the shotgun to refill our health. Victor Vran is never more enjoyable than when figuring out the best equipment to see you through the next dungeon. As an isometric-style action-RPG it lacks the spectacle and feeling of power that Diablo III – or even Torchlight II – can offer, focusing as it does on a handful of basic enemy types scattered sparsely through unremarkable gothic environments. But its combat is robust and engaging, and is combined with a challenge system that rewards you for experimenting with different weapons and playstyles. It’s not a classic, but there’s enough here to reward those in search of some mindlessly entertaining action. n

Diablo III

Changed up the click ’n’ loot formula to make it faster, punchier and more explosive. It has its detractors, but remains the high point of the genre.

2nd opInIon “Between the challenges and the weapon-based skills, this is the most engaged I’ve been with the genre in years. The variety is a breath of fresh air – it’s a blast constantly switching up your abilities, instead of being locked in to a spec. Grab a controller for this one, though.” Robin Valentine, Production Editor

Judgement %


A solid hack-and-slash that suffers from a mostly unexciting loot system and ordinary campaign. Phil Savage


loves… Lush, impressionistic graphics and ingenious visual design. The story pays off well, even if the set up feels weak.

hates… It’s too easy to get lost or trapped behind scenery. The pace is slower than a turtle pushing a zimmer frame.

Better than…


Twisted Tree’s imaginative exploration game is wonderfully atmospheric, but lacks the narrative pull that Beyond Eyes provides.

We spent at least five minutes trying to free ourselves from behind this stone pillar. Curse you, stone pillar.

Worse than…

Format XO, PC (reviewed) Publisher Team 17 Developer Tiger & Squid Out Now Players 1

Beyond eyes Forget Nani; who’s the best Manchester United footballer to name your cat after? Bastian Schweins-Tiger of course.

Can you solve the mysterious feline disa-purr-ance?


arely is the premise for a game so unique. In this dulcet adventure, you play as Rae, a blind young girl venturing out into the world for the first time since losing her sight, in pursuit of her missing friend Nani (her cat, not the ex-Manchester United footballer, thankfully). To portray Rae’s impaired vision, the game world is fogged out, with impressionistic swathes of detail only added when she utilises her other senses to imagine her surroundings. Her blindness, and the accident which led to it, are sensitively handled, and in a manner which re-imagines the short draw distance games of yore. It’s an intriguing concept. But therein lies the problem: Tiger & Squid hasn’t been able to develop a game worthy of that brilliant core idea. There’s precious little to actually do, no real puzzles or challenges (unless you’re

the type of person to find the competition questions on daytime television difficult). Instead, tasks come down to repetitively walking Rae from point A to point B. Unfortunately, that’s all there is to it. And that walking… Much of the game’s intrigue is hampered by the infuriatingly slow speed at which Rae proceeds through levels. Being slow-paced in itself wouldn’t be a deal breaker (see our review of Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture), but it’s hard not to feel like Rae’s meandering is wasting your time.

Bore to explore

What makes the pedestrian pace so frustrating is that Beyond Eyes is essentially a game of exploration, but it becomes so tiresome to slowly walk away from the gravel path, only to stroll into a wall that materialises at the last moment, that any thought of adventure is quickly discarded. It’s a real shame, not least because the game’s gorgeous, watercolour-style graphics certainly impress, and deserve to be lingered on.

“the concept is intriguing, But tiger & sQuid hasn’t developed a game Worthy of matching it”

There are other things to enjoy, too. At times, Rae’s conceptualisations of the world deceive her, and these occasions are especially effective. Her visualisations are never infallible – at one point, for example, what she perceives to be a line of linen flapping merrily in the breeze turns out to actually be the wind rattling through the hollow body of a scarecrow. Moments like these feel like the start of some interesting twists on the premise – but they never really develop. At first, Rae’s characterisation is at least compelling. Rarely in gaming do we encounter characters as vulnerable as her, which initially imbues the player with a strong desire to protect her, much as with Clementine in Telltale’s The Walking Dead. But, as elsewhere, the game fails to build on this and take advantage of the emotional connection, because the level of mild peril is never elevated, and Rae always feels safe. A powerfully emotional final scene nearly atones for this, but only nearly, because, for many, the ending of Beyond Eyes will simply be beyond their patience. We were desperate both for the story to carry more weight earlier in proceedings, and to experience it in a pacier, more engaging way. It’s a reminder that no game can thrive on a bold concept alone – even the best ideas flounder if they lack sufficient substance to empower them. n


It’s by no means fast, but this badger botherer’s pacing, as well as its gameplay, is far superior. And it packs a more emotionally compelling story.


need to knoW Beyond Eyes is the creation of Sherida Halatoe, who runs one-woman studio Tiger & Squid. She begun working on the project back in 2011, as part of her Bachelor’s degree in game design.

Judgement %


Neat premise and graphics, but slow, repetitive gameplay lets an ingenious concept down. Luke Brown



Review The Final Verdict!


This top bar lets you scroll through all the game’s objects, NPCs, and logics. Still simple. You needn’t worry about camera and light 99% of the time.

Stealth-puzzling without an ounce of fat on it. Robin Hood on YouTube? It’s better than it sounds. The community’s already putting out ace new levels.

hates… Ah yes, the closed-off room full of hounds. It admittedly achieves absolutely nothing, but it does look very menacing, don’t you think?

Welcome to the level creator. Simple stuff – here’s your cursor. Build things with it, like so. Instead of deleting objects, you just build over them.

Gems. It’s important to include these, otherwise Loxley has nothing to achieve. The gem breadcrumb trail plots your path through a level.

Narratively more ambitious, but less memorable than TWA.

Better than…

Thomas Was Alone

Mike Bithell’s first game imbued tiny blocks with enduring personalities, but didn’t offer the kind of evolving gameplay Volume does.

Worse than… Format PS4, PC (reviewed), PS Vita Publisher Mike Bithell Developer Mike Bithell Out Now Players 1


Self-indulgent codec conversations endured to reach the end of Volume’s narrative: Zero. That’s how it’s done, Kojima.

Even better than herding rectangles, you say? It can’t be!


ever has a game’s title lent itself so readily to trite observations about its content. Mike Bithell’s follow-up to blocks-with-feelings breakthrough Thomas Was Alone offers an enormous serving of stuff, and just in case your appetite for sneaking around its neon environs isn’t satiated by the 100 story missions, there’s a level editor, too. Player-generated content is already suitably… voluminous, and particular gems find their way into the hallowed ‘Staff Picks’ collection to save you trawling through the Pac-Man clones. Quantity isn’t joined at the hip to quality, of course, but in this case the Viking feast of content it offers is all underpinned by well-communicated game logic and a thoughtful toolset. Playing Rob Loxley, a modern day Robin Hood, you’ve hacked into the security database of an oppressive regime to run simulations of heists, aided by gregarious AI Alan. Why?

Because those simulations are 1:1 replicas of actual secure facilities around the company, and by broadcasting his progress, Loxley’s effectively streaming a YouTube tutorial on how to rob from the rich, give to the poor, and take the power back – and getting more subscribers too.

Robin banks

Unlike Thomas Was Alone, voiceover takes a back seat to the action in Volume, emerging only every few levels to give the main storyline a little nudge. Each level is a playground for you to test out Loxley’s gadgetry, and make fools of the inhabiting guards, luring them one way then another, distracting them with sounds and visual cues to clear a path through. To beat a mission, you’ll need to collect every gemstone, after which an exit teleporter appears – ostensibly your task never gets more complicated than that. But with the addition of new enemy types – turrets, hounds, knights, booby-traps and the like – and fresh tools and tricks, the solution to that simple problem becomes ever more varied and devilish.

“loxley’s effectively streaming a youtuBe tutorial on hoW to roB from the rich” 74


Creator Mike Bithell’s talent for beautifully uncomplicated design and steadily escalating challenge once again come to the fore here, as they did in his previous title. You’re introduced to a new mechanic in one level – say the Oud, a remotely triggered audio distraction device – then you get a couple more missions to explore its possibilities before the formula changes again. You might feel a bit more of a super-sleuth by the time you reach the final 25 chapters of story mode, but you’re never served up reheated ideas from earlier in the game. When you feel ready to do a Mike Bithell impression of your own, the level creator lies in waiting. It’s simple as hell, (though could have done with a few brief tutorial screens to cover the basics, like the absence of a delete function), and has already been used to excellent effect by the best minds of Volume’s community. And us, though our ‘haphazard room full of hounds’ has yet to find inclusion in Volume’s Staff Picks. Though Bithell’s been transparent about his game’s Metal Gear Solid influence, it’s endowed with its own, very British, character, and cleanly designed stealth mechanics that never induce wild frustration or suspicions of shonky AI. If you take your sneaking with a side of cyberpunk and subtlety, loosen off that belt buckle and prepare to gorge. n


Both riff on the same classic tale of inequality, both dream up wondrous arsenals of stealth tools… Dishonored just does it all that bit better.


need to knoW Curious about how Bithell and his band of merry men (and women) made the game? There’s an eBook on Amazon, entitled ‘Raising Volume,' that goes into depth on that very topic.

Judgement %


Another exercise in elegant, flab-free game design from Mike Bithell – though lighter on the laughs. Phil Iwaniuk



The (super)natural phenomena that accompany every episode of Max’s travels get a whole lot odder here.

Throws every genre trope it can at the wall – and they all stick. Heartache, real disgust, audible gasps – this is truly affecting.

hates… Probably the least game-y instalment so far. It’s going to be impossibly hard to wait for the final episode.

in the loop

Let’s do the time warp with three top clock-batterers

Zelda: Ocarina Of Time


The Temple of Time didn’t just turn young Link to adult Link, allowing for some incredibly iconic, innovative puzzles – it also changed our tiny lives.

2 Format PS4 (reviewed), XO, PC, PS3, 360 Publisher Square Enix Developer Dontnod Out Now Players 1

Life is strange: Dark room

Give us time powers – we want the next episode now

How hard is it to write a review of this game without spoilers? Joe had a nervous breakdown.


ax Caulfield, like any self-respecting player-character, has always been the driving force behind Life is Strange, an unassuming hero who grows more and more confident with pushing the series forward (and backward). Dark Room, for the first time, feels more like Chloe’s episode. Max’s mercurial best friend is by her side almost constantly, and it’s her we’re really concentrating on in this episode’s standout opening and climax. It makes for a strange instalment, at once the most changeable (almost every scene, perhaps even every conversation, will be affected at least slightly by your previous choices) and the least interactive of the series so far. Environmental puzzles are at a minimum, major decisions seem to be either cosmetic or in some way made for you, and even Max’s lovely “sit down and think for a moment” optional interludes are saturated with the worry that she’s, well, wasting time.

And that’s just fine. The very fact that so much of what plays out seems in some way moulded by our actions in other episodes makes this feel like one big pay-off. We see the effects of the most life-changing interventions, right down to chance comments made because we accidentally pushed the wrong button and couldn’t be bothered to rewind because it seemed unimportant. We’d describe it as a final deep breath before plunging into what’s now become an unmissable finale, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s such a wonderfully bumpy ride.

Picture perfect

Life Is Strange has always delighted (for better or worse) in its references, and this episode hits some familiar notes along its path to yet another viciously positioned climax. It’s easily the longest episode yet, and it needs to be, taking in heart-wrenching conversational drama, cop show sleuthery, and even touching on out-and-out horror in a couple of moments. The eponymous room earns its name. Things get dark.

“the storyline treads deftly around subJect matter games simply do not approach”

It’s shaken off all but the most necessary pop culture namedrops in favour of aping whole styles of film, shaping them around a twisting, twisted narrative. It’s brave, brilliant, and thrillingly unusual for the medium. The silent, lingering shots of Chaos Theory return, offering a stillness games rarely capture. Even the episode’s hardest decision feels like a purely moral choice – it’ll resonate more loudly in the player’s conscience than in the plotline. The scenes between the standouts can drag a little – even we got bored of hearing the question “have you seen Nathan?”, and we desperately wanted to know – and a few of the puzzles which did make it in feel a little forced, with some Nancy Drew detective work on a passcode keypad feeling downright silly. But that these missteps feel out of place is testament to what’s in here, a storyline that plays a heartstring sonata, and treads deftly around subject matter games simply do not approach (enough that it now carries an “if you were affected by issues in this programme” warning). Dark Room isn’t the series’ high point – it doesn’t need to be. It’s proof that Life Is Strange as a whole is living up to its promise by gently tying everything together, and leaving us to wait for what it all looks like in the end. We’re terrified. We’re excited. We can’t decide which emotion is more powerful. n

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

This DS wonder lets you travel four minutes before someone’s death, and then work out how to save their life using your spirit powers.



In a world of agonising, bullet-related deaths, using a machine to just age a man to death seems super-cool – and actually more humane.

2nd opinion “The dialogue gets a little too gushy in spots, but this is still the most dark, intense episode yet, with a flurry of unexpected twists and turns, and more emotionally devastating decisions to make in its first 15 minutes than most videogames manage at their climax. ” Robin Valentine, Production Editor

Judgement %


The series continues to establish itself as one of the year’s most surprising and excellent prospects. Joe Skrebels



Review The Final Verdict!

Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a highlight, but it’s odd to see the N64 original and not Xbox update Live And Reloaded.

Format XO Publisher Microsoft Studios Developer Rare Out Now Players 1-4

RaRe Replay

Celebrating a gaming legacy with one of the best-value compilations of all time


omething of a hodge-podge, is this Xbox One exclusive. It’s a collection of 30 notable offerings from one of British game development’s most enduring names, returning all the way back to its origins as Ultimate Play The Game. But it’s an incomplete picture, missing several of the games for which Rare is most fondly remembered. Its piecemeal delivery is an awkward fudge, with some games unchanged, others emulated, and more appearing as high-definition updates. Yet it’s also a wonderfully generous package, valuable both for its historic significance and for its sheer volume. What you get, then, is most – but not all – of the studio’s output between 1983’s Jetpac and 2008’s Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. That XO-exclusive status means



some of its best games are missing due to licensing conflicts – most notably Donkey Kong Country and GoldenEye. Unavoidable perhaps, but disappointing nonetheless. What’s left covers three distinct periods in the company’s history, comprising 16 games from Rare’s classic arcade era, a further seven from its N64 years, and six Xbox 360 games. Then there’s original Xbox effort Grabbed By The Ghoulies, which somehow manages to feel as out of place now as it did upon release in 2003. That’s despite it being one of the most kindly treated of all the games featured here: it looks sharper and runs more smoothly than ever. Many of those early games are more interesting as museum pieces, but some still hold up well – though if there’s a single common thread running through them all, it’s their high difficulty level. Happily, Rare Replay includes optional cheats to make certain games – we’re looking at you, Battletoads – more

tolerable. Still, you’ll have to grit your teeth through the likes of Sabre Wulf and Cobra Triangle, while slower-paced isometric titles such as Knight Lore are unlikely to be revisited after the first few goes. Jetpac is still a superb single-screen arcade game, while RC Pro-Am and its sequel are as moreish as they are challenging. (Which is to say, very.) Others are more enjoyable when presented in the snack-sized format that is Snapshots mode. Seemingly inspired by Nintendo’s NES Remix, this sets you five discrete tests to complete for each game, while themed playlists give you limited lives to beat back-to-back challenges across several games.

Having a blast

Of the N64 titles, meanwhile, four appear in emulated form, with another three in their upscaled Xbox 360 incarnations. Killer Instinct Gold doesn’t really stand up to close scrutiny, while Jet Force Gemini

RARE REPLAY suffers badly from a baffling control scheme. Foul-mouthed platformer Conker’s Bad Fur Day, by contrast, is still wonderfully irreverent, despite a few questionable gags. But the brilliantly barmy Blast Corps, whose eccentric conceit asks you to demolish buildings before a runaway missile carrier can reach them, is the undoubted highlight here. It’s not much of a looker these days, but remains a thrilling one-off, quite unlike anything we’ve seen since. If there’s one classic Rare game that warrants a sequel on Xbox One, it’s this. While the rest of the games are presented as being part of the same package, you’re whisked away from Rare Replay to play them. This includes Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel, as well as Perfect Dark, which are treated like the other Xbox 360 games, as your Xbox One temporarily pretends it’s a generation older. If the three older games are still considered fan favourites, there’s much less affection for Rare’s last-gen output. In some cases, that’s understandable. Kameo: Elements Of Power is a serviceable adventure but nothing special, while Perfect Dark Zero felt dated at the time and is even more so now. But despite a gardening sim featuring candy-filled animals not being quite what people may have wanted or expected from Rare at the time, the two Viva Pinata games are a gaudy delight. The final game, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, highlights the tensions within the studio at the time. It’s a flawed but inventive and characterful vehicle-building game, that nonetheless feels like a compromise between

Ultimate selection

The five Rare Replay games you should play first, and why


How many rewinds did it take Chris to get through Battletoads’ tunnel stage? A mere 19. Easy.

Curtain call

All of this is tied together with some charming presentational touches. Load Rare Replay up and you’re invited to enter an old-fashioned theatre, with each game displayed as a piece of art in an ornate frame. Circus-style posters act as menu transitions, and converging drapes mask the brief load times when you bring up each new game. And if that wasn’t

Plenty of truly great games – and some interesting oddities too.

n any compilation of this size, it’s easy to find yourself spoiled for choice. Not Rare Replay, as we’ve done the hard work for you. Here’s Jetpac – The oldest game here our guide to the games that should be happens to be one of the best – it’s a at the top of your playlist: slice of classic, addictive twitch gaming.

hates… It’s a lot of work to unlock the behind-the-scenes goodies.


Was Sabre Wulf always this hard, or are our skills on the wane?

Better than…


Battletoads Arcade – A gloriously unreconstructed, old-school scrolling brawler that looks beautiful.


Blast Corps – Trucks, bulldozers and giant robots smash buildings in a wonderfully silly destruction derby.

SNK Arcade Classics Vol.1

This Neo Geo collection is decent, but features a less varied collection of games, with fewer additional features.

Worse than…


Perfect Dark – Alas, GoldenEye is missing – but Rare’s spiritual successor is the perfect substitute.

“Blast Corps remains a thrilling one-off, quite unliKe anything We’ve seen sinCe.” developer and publisher. It’s particularly fascinating to read the self-mocking dialogue in light of what’s happened since, with many Rare alumni having joined Playtonic Games to make Yooka-Laylee – the spiritual successor to Banjo Tooie it’s evident they yearned to make here. Nonetheless, while Nuts & Bolts has a little too much to say for itself, and is often needlessly convoluted, at its heart it’s a clever idea executed with no little charm and skill. In other words, exactly the kind of game upon which Rare justifiably earned its reputation.

loves… Snapshots make the creaking older games more palatable.

ReveRse psychology Coming back to what you know


old down the menu button to access the pause menu, which gives you three save slots on the classic games. Some allow you to enable cheats, like infinite time and lives on the mercilessly tough Digger T. Rock. But the rewind function is better still – that Battletoads tunnel level had us squeezing LT every few seconds…


Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise – An expansive sequel, which was criminally ignored on release.

enough, a series of bonuses give you a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes, with concept art, making-of featurettes, and even a host of unseen ideas and unreleased music. It’s just a pity that these extras won’t all be accessible to most players: you need to amass enough stamps, earned by achieving specific objectives within the games and in Snapshots mode, to unlock them. That’s fine when it’s just six stamps for something new, and you get one for simply playing a game for the first time; less so once it’s 12 to level up, and you need to complete Battletoads or Sabre Wulf to make progress. While it’s easy to quibble about the omissions and inconsistencies, not to mention the debatable quality of some of the games, Rare Replay is still a rich and eclectic compendium – one which delicately preserves the heritage of a great British studio. What makes it even more exceptional is the price: we rarely factor that into reviews, but £20 for everything you get here is astonishingly generous. As such, this sizeable chunk of gaming history comes highly recommended to all Xbox One owners. It might be a bit of a ramshackle assembly in places, but so many games for so little dosh? Why, that is a Rare treat indeed. n

The Orange Box

Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, Portal… Sure, it’s not a retro compilation, but you’ll struggle to find a finer collection of games in a single package.


need to KnoW Struggling with Jet Force Gemini? Fear not – Rare promises a post-launch patch to introduce a more comfortable dual-analogue option as an alternative to the current unwieldy control setup.

Judgement %

84 A terrific, diverse collection of classics and curios, and an absolute steal at £20. Chris Schilling




You can’t see it in a screenshot, but trust us when we say that Devil’s Third’s frame rate is never stable. Barely a moment goes by without a jitter or a hitch.

The Final Verdict! This is one of the game’s most colourful levels. For the rest, you can expect only greys and browns galore – it’s a real famine for the eyes.

loves… The violence is ridiculous and funny, even if it isn’t trying to be.

hates… Looks two generations out of date, and runs even worse. The gameplay mechanics are a disconnected mess. Flimsy characters, from macho men to over-sexualised women.

With the exception of a few explosive weapons, guns pretty much feel identical in the hand. They’re all about as imprecise and floaty as each other. The swordplay mechanics are never married well enough to the gunplay to make them even remotely satisfying to get to grips with.

Better than…


Getting all of Ivan’s tattoos in real life. Not only are they samey and low-res, but they’re all in single columns like a terrible excel spreadsheet.

Worse than…

Format Wii U Publisher Nintendo Developer Valhalla Game Studios Out Now Players 1-16

Devil’s ThiRD

How many times did Sam sigh hopelessly while playing Devil’s Third? Sam continues to sigh hopelessly to this day.

The devil’s in the disappointing details


intendo is one of gaming’s seals of approval. Like Rockstar, Kojima Productions, and a small number of other companies, the big-N is a sign of excellent quality. And because of that revered status, the Wii U is in an interesting position. It may not have a huge amount of games – in fact, it has very few indeed – but the games it does receive are regularly top-tier. Devil’s Third is very much the exception to the rule. And you wouldn’t think, with Tomonobu Itagaki at the helm, that lack of innovation would be at the root of this third person shooter/brawler’s many problems. His is the same mind responsible for the slick 2004 revival of Ninja Gaiden. Take the L out of ‘slick’ and what do you get? Devil’s Third. It stars Ivan: a topless, tattoo-covered, drum-kit bashing Eastern European terrorist sentenced to over 800 years in

maximum security. Do you care yet? No? Oh, dear. Because that’s about as far as poor Ivan’s characterisation goes. Flashbacks dart throughout the main narrative, presumably intended to heighten a sense of connection to his various companions, but any air of emotional intrigue is completely wiped out by the sheer shoddiness of storytelling. Our star is a walking cliché, and the supporting cast are equally uninspiring, ranging from grunting hard-men to shamefully clad women reminiscent of Itagaki’s infamously dubious Dead Or Alive roots.

Crap shoot

Shooters have rarely thrived on Wii U (Splatoon admittedly excepted), but Devil’s Third takes the usual problems to new levels. Aiming is imprecise on both GamePad and Pro controller, and any attempts to mix weightless gunplay with blade-based bad-assery fall woefully flat. In confined spaces it’s a case of button-mashing your way through umpteen cookie cutter mooks, while

“any air of emotional intrigue is completely Wiped out By the sheer shoddiness of the story” 78


Ninja Gaiden open areas see the frame rate wheeze like an 89 year old asthmatic sloth after a half marathon. Shooting enemies is far from empowering – grunts are mere cannon fodder, while larger enemies simply suck up more bullets. Visually Devil’s Third looks, at best, like a dolled-up PS2 game. Most of its levels share a murky grey-brown palette, with only one stage boasting a dash of colour – an assault on a Japanese complex, at the foot of a volcano spitting neon blue lava. It’s a high point that, all things considered, still isn’t all that high. Elsewhere, the game attempts to ratchet up the tension with a biological terror plot arc that, rather than get you chewing on your fingernails, has you digging them into your eyes. Small rooms in an overrun medical facility are ripe enough for the best Resident Evil games, but this is never about crafting an atmosphere of isolation. Instead, dull, repetitive corridors only frustrate. Devil’s Third is a technical, mechanical, and narrative mess. Unlike Nintendo’s best, this title eschews quality with nary an iota of respect for your time. Ivan’s story isn’t entirely without mystery, but its meandering nature and the uninspired action that frames it makes for a painfully below par gaming experience. This is quite comfortably among the worst things we’ve played in 2015 so far. n

The same style of swordplay exists in Itagaki’s 2004 classic, which even now would be a far more enjoyable way to spend your time than Devil’s Third.

online Unfortunately the multiplayer wasn’t available when we reviewed the game, so we haven’t had a chance to try it out. We’d be surprised, however, if it’s any better than the single-player mode.

Judgement %


An absolute disaster of a videogame, on every conceivable level – it’s a taint on the Nintendo name. Sam White


loves… Witty dialogue backed up by fantastic performances. The puzzles are brilliantly inventive and varied. The art style is gorgeous – like a storybook come to life.

hates… We wish there was a map – it’s too easy to get lost.

To become a knight, young Graham must win a contest of strength, a contest of speed, and a contest of wits.

Format PS4, XO (reviewed), PC, PS3, 360 Publisher Sierra Entertainment Developer The Odd Gentlemen Out Now Players 1

King’s Quest: A Knight to RemembeR A reinvention of point-and-click royalty

What tool did Robin use more than any other in his quest for knighthood? Baked goods, of course.


f adventure games ever were dead, they’ve certainly made a dramatic recovery. From the emotional journeys of Telltale, to LA Noire-style triple-A hybrids, to pixel-perfect indie throwbacks such as Gemini Rue, fans are more spoiled for choice now than they were even in the genre’s heyday. It’s rare, however, that any of these actually feel like an update of the genre – usually they either ditch the classic conventions, or stick so slavishly to them as to revive the bad with the good. Enter King’s Quest, a true reimagining of adventure games that still stays faithful to classics past. In this first episode, of five, you step into the pointy shoes of gangly but ambitious teen Graham. The events of the game – a grand tournament with knighthood as the prize – are narrated by his older self, now an elderly king on his deathbed, as he recalls his rise to power

to his granddaughter Gwendolyn. It’s the perfect frame tale, simultaneously justifying and gently ribbing the genre’s stranger tropes. Adventure protagonists, for example, are usually prone to baffling bouts of internal monologuing, for the player’s benefit – here, that’s replaced by the storyteller’s commentary on his past actions and, even more cleverly, Gwendolyn’s excited interruptions and contributions to the story.

Quest behaviour

The puzzles, always the aspect of the genre that modern devs most struggle with, are similarly impressive. The harsh truth is that, even in the most revered classics, the actual challenges in adventure games were often total guff – bizarre solutions to unclear problems. Recent examples are prone to phasing puzzles out entirely – in The Walking Dead’s first season, for instance, you can watch them disappear as you go. King’s Quest, however, embraces them, streamlining without oversimplifying, placing them in unique, entertaining scenarios, and

“a true reimagining of adventure games that still stays true to classics past”

imbuing them with a restrained but creative design that never frustrates. If you ever do get stuck, there’s always something else to move on to – at every turn, you’ve a whole spread of possible avenues to pursue. Many puzzles also have multiple possible solutions, with your approach – along with your choices in the dialogue and simple but satisfying action scenes – impacting the story’s course in minor but appreciable ways. Sometimes you’ll be happy just to poke about. The world is truly charming, a beautiful, fairytale setting that’s a joy to explore. It’s a bit too easy to get lost, that speaks to its impressive size, but each area is full of things to see and do, and characters to chat with. With a genuinely funny script, and great performances from the likes of Tom Kenny (Adventure Time) and Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride), meeting the kingdom’s inhabitants is always a treat. Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future) is especially wonderful, bearing much of the story’s weight as the narrator, and carrying it off with a real nuance and flair. At 4-6 hours long, with a story that’s surprisingly self-contained, this first episode almost feels like a full game unto itself, and an excellent one to boot. That there’s four more on the way is just the icing on the cake – or, rather, the feather on the adorably jaunty cap. n

past glory

The history of the royal line

The first King’s Quest game, designed by Sierra co-founder Roberta Williams, was released over 30 years before this modern reboot, for the IBM PCjr, one of the first home computers. It was a hugely influential pioneer in its graphics, animations, and freedom of gameplay, leaps and bounds ahead of other adventure games of the time. In this debut entry, Graham was already knighted, and was searching for a series of magic items for the right to become the ruler of the kingdom of Daventry. Over the next three decades, it spawned seven sequels, most recently hybrid point-and-click/action RPG Mask Of Eternity in 1998, as well as a spin-off trivia game called King’s Questions.


need to Know GM’s changing the way we review new episodic games – we’ll be covering just the first instalment, and then doing a wrap-up of the whole season at the end.

Judgement %

90 Long live the new king of point-and-click adventure games – we can’t wait for the next four episodes. Robin Valentine



Review The Final Verdict!

now playing

This month’s biggest time sinks on Team GM

DangErous PC 1ElitE:

Inspired by the New Horizons mission to Pluto I got my sprog a telescope (that he’s too small for) and have spent a month looking for Elite’s star systems in the real-life night sky. I’m cool. Matt sakuroka-gilman, Editor

lEaguE PC 2 roCkEt

It’s been a very long time since a multiplayer game grabbed me quite like this. I don’t like cars or football, but there’s something undeniably special about the combination of the two. robin Valentine, Production Editor

gP 15 Xo 3Moto

My first foray into motorbike sims – once I’d mastered the handling, I was hooked. The slick environments and controller rumbles make for some serious immersion. sam Freeman, art Editor

gonE to thE raPturE 4Ps4EVEryboDy’s

This game would be setting off a hundred conversations in the office… if anyone else had played it yet. Grr. Matt sakuraoka-gilman, Editor

thunDEr PC 5rising

It’s very much still in alpha, but this accessible fighting game already feels like something amazing. All the strategy of Street Fighter, without the overly complex inputs. Plus, giant robots. robin Valentine, Production Editor

A journey into space with this lot, featuring heavy Armageddon overtones – an open goal, missed.

Format PS4 (reviewed), XO, PC, PS3, 360, Mobile Publisher Telltale Games Developer Telltale Games Out Now Players 1

Tales FRom The BoRdeRlands: escape plan BRavo Rhys will remember that… but will you?


ast episode, Catch A Ride, was a new high for the series. Its stockpile of jokes hit the mark with deadeye accuracy, pacing was judged perfectly… oh, and it reunited Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, thanks to the latter’s appearance as wuvvable wobot Gortys. Episode four was probably always going to feel like a bit of a lull. That it feels more of an outright hangover is a disconcerting surprise,

lEaguE Ps4 6 roCkEt

Our lunchtime multiplayer session led to a bit of a love affair with this addictive gem. Hours of fun, even if you’re not a fan of the beautiful game. sam Freeman, art Editor

oFFiCE lunChtiME gaME oF thE Month: roCkEt lEaguE Ps4 It’ll be a while, we reckon, before something knocks this out of our lunchtime gaming schedule. It’s the mariachi hats which do it.



Borderlands stalwart Scooter tags along to offer his, er, expertise. Well, he does love to catch a ride.

though. Gortys is still here, and still adorable, but instead of well-written wise-cracking and punchy narrative beats, Escape Plan Bravo offers a lot of connective tissue, and a few uninspired new bespoke interactions – such as physically blasting away at a firewall on a computer screen, offering all the fun of drawing something in MS Paint then rubbing it out. If you recall, the gang surrendered to Vallory at episode three’s climax, and now have no choice but to do her bidding, which involves staging a heist of sorts at Hyperion HQ. It’s a fine setup with

lots of potential, but most scenes along the way offer little in terms of meaningful decisions or insight into long-running mysteries. Even when Fiona’s forced to act as impromptu tour guide to a gaggle of Handsome Jack fanboys, episode four’s writing fails to glean the laughs from an excellent premise. Fair’s fair – there are three standout moments, only one of which doesn’t come with a spoiler warning the size of a small island nation. Somehow Rhys gets himself involved in an imaginary shootout with dozens of Hyperion accountants, à la Spaced, which sees corporate shills miming blood spurting from their neck, a cappella machine gun sounds, and irresistible laughs. Those other two? Let’s just say they’re harder-hitting, and cause significant ripples throughout this series and Borderlands lore as a whole. Frustratingly all three ‘good bits’ come towards the episode’s climax, leaving the first few chapters feeling threadbare. Its quality hasn’t dropped so much that episode four feels like a slog, but it’s disappointing to know Telltale’s capable of distinctly better and, for reasons that will remain known to only them, just really hasn’t delivered the goods this time. n Phil Iwaniuk


rEViEw rounDuP

hoT downloads

We don’t care what anyone says – Waterworld will always be our aquatic post-apocalypse of choice. Probably.

The latest DLC and expansions explored

Format PS4 (reviewed), XO, PC Pub Uppercut Dev Uppercut Out Now Players 1

suBmeRged Dead in the water


his tranquil title from a team of former Bioshock developers might seem an inviting calm before the storm of this year’s big name release period. Sadly, despite a steady doggy-paddle out of the gate, it quickly drowns in the wake of similar indie journeys. Namely Journey, in fact… You play as Miku, a girl who sails into a sunken city of forgotten ruins with her unconscious brother in tow. With this

intriguing hook in place, it’s time to clamber up a bunch of rather unintriguing buildings to find life-saving supplies. Navigating these seemingly perilous but ultimately mundane climbs is the game’s main challenge, though they’re less puzzles than they are pointless legwork. Unusually for the genre, there are no enemies to watch out for or dangers to overcome, and we’d admire the purity of its exploration, if it weren’t all quite so dull. The game’s open world works both in its favour and against it. You’re free to

boost around the water on Miku’s boat, scooping up collectibles that improve your engine and reveal how the city was flooded in the first place (spoiler alert: nobody left a tap on). However, when the game’s platforming amounts to functional but banal bounding from ledge to ledge, with barely any difference we could discern from one mossy skyscraper to the next, it’s hard to care. The flashback tale of Miku’s arrival to this sunken city, told via a series of comic-book style snippets unlocked with each new supply found, provides at least some sense of discovery as you progress. Unfortunately, the game’s strengths are almost entirely eclipsed by awkward platforming that feels like being submerged in a sea of treacle. n Joe Baker


Over-abundant microtransactions make us even more miffed than the game’s cast of spherical poultry.

Format Mobile Publisher Rovio Dev Rovio Out Now Players 1

angRy BiRds 2

They’re back, and they’re still in a fowl mood


lap away, Flappy Bird. The godfather of ludicrously addictive iOS games has come home to roost, once again laying siege not just to Babe and his cousins, but to every ounce of productivity you had left in the tank for this year. Only this time, it’s aiming at your wallet too… Adding multiple stages to each level and big boss pigs to conquer, Rovio has

certainly directed efforts at making its porcine murder simulator as dramatic as possible. Every explosive impact of bird-on-TNT box throws shrapnel and screaming enemies helplessly at the screen. A closeup camera in the corner documents the sheer anguish on the pigs’ faces before they’re blown to bacon. And the ability to pick the order in which birds are flung will challenge fans who’ve already earned their wings, particularly when trajectory-altering desk fans and other environmental hazards pop up.

The only problem is the game’s irksome freemium bent. Gems acquired through in-game challenges or real-life payment enable you to gain more retries and replace birds on the battlefield. Otherwise, its time to watch a 30 second video to revive, joy of joys. Compared to other money-grabbing apps, Angry Birds 2 might not be the worst, but being asked to watch an ad in the sequel to one of mobile gaming’s most celebrated sons will only make a boring commute soul-destroying. The colours that pop from the screen, catchy music, and endlessly fun slingshot destruction do make Angry Birds 2 a hoot. It’s just a shame the game has turned so far to the dark side, likely driving many fans to fly the nest in the process. n Joe Baker


Dragon Age: Inquisition is going underground with The Descent, its second piece of story DLC, and one that takes the Inquisitor to everyone’s favourite location: the Deep Roads. The Dwarven tunnels might have gone on forever in the original game, but they’re a vital location in Dragon Age lore, on account of all the Darkspawn that keep emerging from their cavernous depths. Bioware reckons that the events of this quest will shake the world to its very core, although that might just mean you’ll be given a massive hammer after beating it. Still: massive hammers are pretty great. Hammers are unlikely to be a major part of Pillars of Eternity’s The White March: Part 1 expansion, which ups the level cap, adds new companions, and whacks in a load of new story set in a chilly part of Obsidian’s original fantasy world. Not that you’ve finished the base game yet, of course: the isometric RPG throwback was already ridiculously massive to start with. ‘Massive’ is a word that tends to refer to explosions in Battlefield 4, DICE’s initially wonky shooter that’s slowly been patched into an acceptable state over the last two years. Battlefield sequel/ spin-off Hardline might be more recent, but DICE continues to trickle out updates for their aging FPS, including the new Night Operations. This chunk of DLC takes the Zavod 311 map and changes the time of day, adding destructible light sources and nifty night-vision gadgets. DICE has even improved the sound system, so you can pinpoint the location of enemy footsteps. Hardline, meanwhile, is more concerned with daylight robbery, its aptly-named Robbery expansion adding four new maps, various weapons, vehicles, and gadgets, and a new 5v5 game mode. Squad Heist is essentially Battlefield 4’s Squad Rush, only a bit more… heisty, featuring lots of shiny loot to steal from a guarded vault. Lastly, if you’re as hooked on Rocket League as the GM team, check out the Supersonic Fury pack, with two new cars and host of accesories and paints. Alongside it, the devs have released another stadium, Utopia, free to all.



The essential magazine for PlayStation 4 owners



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WIN! Are you classy enough for this PS4? Of course you are – GM readers are the classiest gamers around.

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Win a Destiny PS4, plus a Legendary edition of the taken King!


ou’re probably already busy trying to justify a purchase of the PS4’s latest limited edition, but we’re here to save you that awkward conversation with your significant other/bank manager/ mum. That’s right: we have a free Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4 up for grabs, which comes with a Legendary Edition of the new standalone expansion! the console stylishly builds on the Glacier White PS4 with an understated piece of artwork, and the taken King Legendary

edition includes the base Destiny experience, along with the first two expansions and, of course, the latest add-on itself. that’s a lot of Destiny. Almost too much. Surely bungie knows you’ve got work in the morning? Its massively multiplayer loot-hunting shooter has evolved a fair bit since its rocky launch, but the taken King is a significant overhaul that makes big changes to the game’s underlying systems. New subclasses, areas, and multiplayer modes are included, while the Dinklage quotient has been reduced to zero. Nolan North is the new voice of your robot companion going forward – say hello to Drakebot.

bungie and Activision are treating the taken King as Destiny 2.0, so it’s the perfect time to dive back in if you’re a lapsed player, or to take the plunge if you’re still yet to set foot in its war-torn solar system. For a chance to win all you need to do is answer the following question by 15 October 2015:

year was Destiny released? Q Infirstwhich

A. 2014 B. 1883 C. 10,000 bc

Terms and conditions: By entering this competition you are agreeing to receive details of future offers from Future Publishing Ltd. The closing date is 15 October 2015. 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 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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OctOber 2015


RetroMaster We


❤ Old Games!


Reaching any end-of-stage congratulations screen (as Joe hit the ciggies and booze – bad Capcom) was an accomplishment.


On-the-fly objectives: POWs to save, officers to gun down, and those chunky grenade boxes – the most satisfying collectibles in town.


Enemies upped the ante in each successive stage, lurking in ponds for a soggy ambush or manning watchtowers to unleash bullet hell.





he Street Fighter maker loves commandos. Within the games industry, the only comparable obsessions are Nintendo’s love of the word ‘super’ and Team Ninja’s grim fascination with jiggle physics. 1985 battlefield shooter Commando was the game that set Capcom on this road. Bionic Commando soon followed, as did beat-'em-up Captain Commando, whose hero served as company mascot for a while. We wouldn’t be surprised if Capcom employees also had to memorise the script of 1991 Hulk Hogan film Suburban Commando and obey a corporate ‘no pants’ mandate.

The origins

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The original Commando, a top-down run-and-gun legend, came about by crunching the spirit of mid-'80s gung-ho soldier films (notably Missing In Action and Rambo) into Capcom’s verticallyscrolling arcade game template. That had debuted with space shooter Vulgus a

Developer Capcom Publisher Capcom Released 1985 Format Home conversions, arcade Get it Capcom Arcade Cabinet (PS3, 360)

year earlier, and many of the games that followed simply shifted themes: 1942 went WWII, The Speed Rumbler tried out Mad Max car combat, and Gun Smoke was all about the cheeky cowboys. But it never worked better than it did with Commando. Tokuro Fujiwara was the man in charge, and would later go on to direct the Ghosts ’n’ Goblins games and produce the Mega Man series, so making games tougher than a toffee T-800 became something of a career trait. Meanwhile, Capcom was making deals to get its most popular games into living rooms worldwide, leading to a Commando raid on just about every system, from Atari 2600 to Amiga.

• ng

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#32 of Gaming

• LEgEnd of ga m i


Over the top with Captain Capcom


ng mi ga

Tactical experimentation. Using cover to duck and weave, or just spraying and slaying? Either could work… if you kept it together.


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


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An alternating competitive mode for total arcade bragging rights. Co-op would’ve made the game too easy, or slowed it to a crawl by doubling the opposition.

Joe cursed his own flamboyant taste, realising how much less stressful his day could have been if he’d resisted the teal ensemble and just worn grey.

The legend

However you approached them, the warzones of Commando’s carefully inspecific country were joystick-tearingly lethal: the screen was a mess of pixel munitions within seconds as grenades flew, mortar cannons boomed, and enemies either roared in on jeeps and bikes, or just ran headlong at you firing blindly. Even having your toe stepped on was fatal. Survive this, and you were ready for the end-of-level twitch gaming gauntlet as the fortress gates rumbled open and reinforcements poured out. Our hero Super Joe did at least have unlimited eight-way machine gun ammo, while enemy fire moved at the speed of shuttlecocks travelling through jam. But grenades could only be thrown straight ahead, which meant knowing their range intimately to flush enemies out of cover.


Studio Spotlight One arcade accolade after another

1 1942

(Arcade – 1984)

The surprisingly representative ‘all kicking off’ cover of UK home versions.

Before Capcom’s arcade debut year was out, it took wing with a second accomplished shooter and first big hit. Either humbly or cynically, 1942 featured a heroic Allied pilot ripping through the big bad Japanese WWII forces like wet tissues. The gamble paid off, spawning a sequel every few years in an order only Capcom understands: 1943, 1941, 19XX, and 1944.

2 Ghosts ’n’ Goblins (Arcade – 1985)

From vertical to horizontal with a new level of unwary player pain. This made Commando look like a picnic – one with fancy pâté sandwiches, Pimms, and fluffy cushions for a post-picnic doze. But the punters loved it, and each of Sir Arthur’s later lance-launching comic horror exploits became a cause for celebration. He, thankfully, never went commando. “Straight on, past the garage and the big Tesco, you can’t miss it.”

Like many of its era, Commando was a challenging and unforgiving devourer of coins – but with guts and persistence you’d ultimately walk away a hero. Not unlike real world warfare, but with more 10p pieces.

The legacy

30 years old now, Commando helped set the stage for Capcom’s arcade heavyweight status through the ’80s and early ’90s, from which it matured into a big deal console publisher. This was also one of the first attempts at a (relatively) realistic war game, and as we all know, you can’t get off the sofa without falling over a dozen of those nowadays. Crash-bang co-op sequel Mercs continued the assault in 1990. Then it wasn’t until 2008 that Wolf Of The Battlefield: Commando 3 appeared, as Capcom outsourced a few downloadable revivals – not with universal success, but saving some love for old IPs is commendable in itself. It’s important to remember where you came from, and spare a cheery wave for your chopper pilot to make sure he always comes back when you need him. Ah, we knew those military campaign/customer retention analogies would be handy one day. n

3 Bionic Commando (Arcade – 1987)

This one took the side-scroller and piled on layers of titillating verticality, despite ditching the ability to jump. Good early use of a grappling hook, with the NES version starting a trend of redesigning arcade games for console release, rather than trying to cram them wholesale into an openly sobbing 8-bit box.

4 Strider

5 Street Fighter II

The highest peak of Capcom’s platforming experiments, showing how far they’d come in a few short years. No Prince Of Persia could match Hiryu’s breathtaking blend of ninja athleticism and unstoppable melee ruination. A distinctive ‘dystopian Soviet future with airships and robots’ setting was the polish on a game that escorted out the arcades’ defining decade in fine free-running style.

If you weren’t expecting to see this here, you should probably stop hitting yourself in the side of the head with that mallet. Not the end of Capcom’s arcade history by a long shot, and Street Fighter III and IV stood out as highlights of that neon wonderlands’ advancing years, but few games before or after Street Fighter II would pack a Dragon Punch powerful enough to reshape an entire landscape.

(Arcade – 1989)

(Arcade – 1991)



RetroMaster We

❤ Old Games!

Six Of The BeST…

One-Man aRMies War never changes, as smart trousers would be inappropriate


kay, so roughly two games out of every three feature a hero who could be called a one-man (or indeed woman) army. They might stealth-kill their way to a pant-sharting body count like Altaïr or Sam Fisher, follow Master Chief or dear old Doomguy by ambling in through the front door dragging a gun the size of Sweden, or simply romp across the world extinguishing monster populations as the very huffiest of hedgehog-haired RPG heroes. So to save us having to choose from two thirds of all the games ever released, we’ve only selected lone heroes with military standing. No teams and no bromantic co-op duos, whether it be Lance and Bill from Contra or Salem and Rios from Army of Two. Their day will come, and they can ruddy well share it. But it’s not this one. n

Nick “HavOc” PaRkeR

Command & Conquer: Renegade (PC – 2002)

Bullish GDI commando in C&C’s FPS spin-off. Somehow got nicknamed “Havoc” (rather than “Dangerous Idiot") by blowing stuff up as a youth. Very good at it though.

BJ BlazkOwicz

Wolfenstein 3D (PC – 1992)

Square-jawed thwarter of occult Nazi plans, BJ evolved from a lowly prisoner into a chaingun-toting guided missile whose methods and winning personality endure in Wolfensteins to this day. Hitler never knew what hit him.


Operation Wolf (Arcade - 1987)

He may have gotten shafted in the powerhouse name stakes, but the Green Beret hero of this light gun showstopper soloed a hostage rescue mission by perforating countless beardy guerrillas and asshat Arnie clones.



Grab Bag

Retro gems from every era

Awesome Boss!

BReN McgUiRe

Turrican II (Amiga, C64 – 1991)

A United Planets Freedom Forces soldier turned one-man army when dirty half-man, half robot warrior The Machine wasted everyone else. Zip up the Turrican assault suit and unleash a torrent of hot plasma for liberty! And revenge! And fun!

Mega Man Format NES Developer Capcom Released 1987


Dynasty Warriors 2 (PS2 – 2000)

No, not a ghost in a toilet. Long before Link took on car park-sized crowds of foes in Hyrule Warriors, Chinese warlord Lu Bu was the beastliest unlockable battler to brave the absurd odds of the Dynasty Warriors saga.

In boss terms, the Mega Man series is fuller than Mr. Creosote – with few more recognisable than the mustard mauler, Yellow Devil. His ridiculous signature attack involved hurling lumps of himself across the screen to reform on the far side as you tried to dodge and blast his big red eyeball. Super Smash Bros for Wii U recently made him a gatecrashing guest star at Wily Castle.

Classic Moment!

ecco: Defender Of The Future Format PS2, Dreamcast Developer Appaloosa Released 2000

The dilemma: how can Ecco be coaxed out of the sea and into a world of more versatile platform game challenges? The solution: add a level to your nutso sci-fi dolphin game where giant globes and tubes of water hang in the air and Ecco has to leap between them, encouraged by kooky new age music. No forgetting that in a hurry, especially as it could take months to master.

Big BOss

Metal Gear (MSX2, NES – 1987)

Remake Request!

Call him Naked Snake, call him Punished Snake, call him John (no, really): he had many names and led many causes before he went a bit daft and evil. Also singlehandedly snapped many, many necks.

Unirally Format SNES Developer DMA Design Released 1994

Unsurprisingly, given that it’s a zippy 2D stunt racer starring riderless unicycles, there’s been nothing else quite like this in the last 21 years. The idea of Unirally undergoing a hi-res Trials-style makeover? See us salivate. Considering it was made by Rockstar North back in their DMA days, we’re surprised a spiritual successor hasn’t already been ferreted away inside a GTA game.



CultureMaster The Outer Regions Of Gaming!

Present time It’s hard to imagine creating this and then having to give it away, isn’t it? How noble.

Gotta Mod ‘eM all

Oh boy! We catch up with Gareth LeTourner, who’s managed to make the world’s cutest handheld with his first ever custom modded console


f Team Rocket ever wanted to get their hands on a Game Boy Color, it would be this one – 25 year old Gareth LeTourner, from Marseille in the South of France, should probably prepare for trouble. Or at least lots of questions from us, about how he managed to build what he calls, adorably, the Pikaboy.

cerebral guy, so a build process kind of scared me at first, but I had attempted a portable SNES build months before and learnt a lot from it,” he says. “I first made a quick photoshop sketch at 1:1 scale, which I then used to cut the ears, arms, feet, and tail off a plastic sheet. I then outlined the ears and feet with the help of some epoxy putty. It’s easy to model for a short time, but then it goes rock solid. Once done, I used ABS cement to seal ears, arms, and feet in place.”

“I’ve been into videogames since my childhood, and have been mainly interested in retro gaming. I made the Game Boy as a present for my girlfriend last Christmas,” explains LeTourner. “But actually, I don’t know if I can claim it as a present, as I stole one of her Game Boys to make it… We both love to collect retro systems, and she loves Pokémon and Pikachu best. At that time I was lurking at Vadu Amka’s customs site – a talented Belgian artist. That’s when I remembered I had the idea of making a Pikachu Game Boy Color back in 2011. I’d made a terrible clay prototype, but hadn’t stopped visualizing it since then, so I told myself it was time to give it a try.” After gazing at the incredible custom consoles on Vadu Amka’s site, Gareth got thinking. “I’m more of a

Tail spin



The Pikaboy has paws it can stand on and the electric mouse’s iconic tail, which for ease of playing can move 180 degrees. It can even go flat for convenient storage in its very own custom Pokébox. The hinge proved to be a hurdle for LeTourner but, in the closest anyone will ever get to a real-life Rare Candy discovery, he found a solution lying discarded on the ground one day. “The tail took days before being added to the case, because I wanted it to be rotating, and I didn’t know how to make it work. It would have been such a little piece,” he explains. “I came up with several ideas which weren’t working. Then I found the perfect solution. I saw a Chupa

Misty eyed The Pikaboy was a gift for Gareth’s Poké-fan partner (who even has Pokéball nails).

Chups stick lying on a pavement. My thanks to that litterer! That’s when I decided the rotating tail link would be made of a Chupa Chups stick and a Q-Tip stick going through it. I love that about being in the creative process – you just keep challenging yourself and improvising stuff on the spot.” Not content with that as the finishing touch, LeTourner wanted to add even more character to the console. Yup, those cheeks flash with kawaii joy. “Once I put the tail in place, I wondered how cool it would be to have his red cheeks, so I decided to make them light up when the system is powered,” Gareth enthuses. “I added two red LEDs, after removing the original power LED, which I put in place under a brand new homemade screen bezel. The

“the most challenging thing was hiding the build from my girlfriend”

super fans!

Cool stuff from the hardcore of gaming culture

Crash course LeTourner was inspired by the console work of Vadu Amka, who has created a plethora of incredible retro systems based on the Legend Of Zelda and even Crash Bandicoot. That TNT power button is a stroke of genius.

Ink pIece

One Splatoon fan in Japan has taken his love of the game to the next level and crafted an Inkzooka. 180 cm long, 14 kg in weight, and with a range of up to 25 metres, it’s shoulder mounted, and can’t be fired without you falling over. See the ink-redible footage here: Mouse bound It only took a month for Gareth to build the console, but since then he’s added the custom Pokébox case and had a number of photoshoots, the results of which we see right here. Daaaawwww!

to work on it, and was running out of secret places to final add to the system was a circuit board I took off of a hide it between each build session. The project also McDonalds Pikachu toy I found on Ebay. I soldered it to a relied on a lot of filling and sanding, but that’s the part of DS Lite speaker, and then to the Game Boy motherboard, the process you want to forget, as it’s really annoying so that when the systems turns on/off, you have a and time consuming.” ‘Pi-ka-pika-chuuuuuuuuuuuu’ sound. All these last features were not planned, and came while building the system, but I think that’s what SEE THIS! SE IS! E gives you the feel of a ‘real’ Pikachu.” Gareth’s girlfriend loved her gift, but who TH E Overall it only took LeTourner a wouldn’t? While this is his first full mod month to build the console, but he after his failed portable SNES, admits he added the custom LeTourner is already looking forward Watch and hear the Pikaboy in action in Pokébox storage case at a later date, to starting on more projects in the LeTourner’s demo video, because he ran out of time before future, and considering learning to complete with chiptune Christmas. Other than the tail sew for a Conker’s Bad Fur Day N64. soundtrack: mechanism, there were a few other We’ll try not to think about the heating gmpikaboy hiccups, but mainly it was an issue of issues that might cause. For now, the stealth. “The hardest part of the build itself Pikaboy is enough. was to achieve the curve between the ears, “He hugs you warm with his arms as you because it had to be the same on both part of the case. It manage to reach the ending screen of your favourite was really difficult to get it to match perfectly,” says game, and expresses joy by lighting up his cheeks and Gareth. “But I consider the most challenging thing saying his name when you turn him on,” says LeTourner. overall being to make it out of my girlfriend’s sight. I was A cute little friend with a face full of retro classics. What always thinking about the build, didn’t have much time more could anyone need? n Louise Blain

hug shot

















See this!

cake off

This Marioshaped tower of yum isn’t just an absurdly tasty treat with a red velvet interior – mmmm – but it nabbed crafty baker Cory Pohlman an impressive $10,000. An entry on a Nintendo themed episode of Cake Wars, it was over three feet high. See more images at:


Professional tattooist Alicia Thomas from The Boston Tattoo Company has been on a mission to collect all 151 Pokémon in ink form. Well, by collect, we mean put on people, not actually keep, because that would be weird… You can see them all on her Instagram:



CheatMaster The Biggest Games Taken Apart!





Never let anyone tell you that Chain Chomps weren’t meant to take to the skies.





pro tips!


Hints to transform you from cowboy builder to artisan chief

ps pro tips o ti pr pr o

ps pro tips p o ti ro pr ti ps

ps pro tips pr o ti ot pr i



s ip

s pro tips o tip pr pr o


Format Wii U Publisher Nintendo Developer Nintendo Out 11 September

super Mario Maker Mastered! Learn to build classic courses that would make Miyamoto weep


Remember Kishótenketsu

Recent 3D Mario games are built upon a design philosophy espoused by Koichi Hayashida. It’s Kishōtenketsu, a story structure traditionally used in Eastern narratives (Hayashida was particularly inspired by four-panel manga comics). The four steps are: introduction, development, twist and conclusion. In Super Mario games, each new concept is taught, embellished, twisted in some way and then discarded at the end of a stage. It’s definitely worth keeping this in mind as you build a stage: start simple, then increase the challenge before throwing in a curveball to keep things interesting. Better still, try to include one last flourish en route to the flagpole as a final reward.



Don’t overdo it


Embrace constraints


Toy with expectations


Up is the new right

Once you’ve unlocked everything, the temptation is to go mad with power and build the most outlandish stage you can. This rarely makes for an enjoyable experience. That isn’t to say you should necessarily stint on the challenge, but lobbing in as many enemies and hazards as possible will likely frustrate players, rather than encouraging them to have another try.

By limiting your early experiments to a handful of elements, Nintendo encourages creators to consider ways to make familiar ideas unique – even something as simple as attaching wings to a Goomba. As you unlock more content, impose limits: such as a stage using four or five ingredients rather than the whole palette. Really think about how you can combine them in new and unusual ways.


Learn from the best

That’s learn, not steal. Not that you can, of course: download someone else’s work, edit it and try to claim the glory for yourself and you’ll rightly be told that it’s “not possible to upload courses originally created by other people”. Clever old Nintendo. Still, it’s certainly worth trawling the levels at the top of the Star Ranking list for inspiration. Even lesser stages sometimes contain ideas that can be refined or twisted in some way, so don’t focus your search exclusively on the most popular levels. Try to gauge what works and what doesn’t, and use that to inform your own designs. Beyond that, it’s worth taking the time to study the daily stages automatically uploaded into your Course Bot; these are, after all, Nintendo’s own courses, and though most are fairly simple in concept, they’re the blueprints to which you should always refer in times of creative crisis.

The beauty of Super Mario Maker is its variety of ways to surprise those who download and play your levels. It’s always smart to offer some kind of spin on an established idea: basic interactions prompting unexpected sound effects, or Lakitus throwing coins or power-ups rather than Spinies. Again, the trick is not to change absolutely everything. Your first cluster of Question Blocks should reveal coins and power-ups, but the next one might prompt a Cheep Cheep to emerge. You could include a musical stab suggesting imminent danger before a Super Star bounces into view, or tease a short cut that leads to an enemy-filled gauntlet. Remixing classic Mario stages always goes down well, too. Failing all that, you could just have a winged Bowser swim into view as soon as the stage begins.


You can’t beat a good auto-scrolling Airship stage as far as we’re concerned, but there’s no need to be a slave to the traditional left-to-right template. Vines provide ample opportunity to give your stages a bit of verticality: dodging enemies while running and jumping is one thing, but doing it while climbing is a challenge few level designers seem prepared to set. Meanwhile, pipes aren’t just a way to descend to underground areas. Let them stretch up from the surface and ask players to wall-kick up and over them.


If in doubt, use amiibo

We’re tempted to say this is the cheapest route to success, but for the fact that it requires significant financial investment. But yes, if you don’t mind the hollow sensation that follows, featuring an amiibo character or six – the rarer the better, naturally – is one of the simplest ways to ensure a rush of stars from your Super Mario Maker peers. So why not go the extra mile? A labyrinthine underground cavern would make for a fine Metroid substitute, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to approximate a stage from Kirby’s Dream Land. n




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HAVE YOUR SAY! Best Original Game? Game of the Year? Gaming Platform of the Year? Let us know what you’ve loved from this great year of games.



Sponsored by: 82

march 2014

Next MoNth‌

GamesMaster 296 oN sale 8 october

PLUs: AssAssin’s Creed syndiCAte Tear up London with the Frye twins as we meet the devs destiny the tAken king Roll up for the definitive review of Year Two ALso: Halo 5: Guardians, Fallout 4, Star Wars Battlefront, Hitman and many more! Due to the unpredictable nature of the gaming world, all contents are subject to change.

GAME GUIdE Your easy, at-a-glance index of what games to get for which machine. These are what we deem the absolute best experiences to pick up right now.







FromSoft finds the number one spot again with the greatest PS4 exclusive to date. Brilliant, bold, and brutal.


Combining challenge, intrigue, and desolate beauty like nothing before or since. The finest game ever made.



With five full Halos included, this is the best value gaming package ever.






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



Expert storytelling, incredible visuals, and a utility belt full of tricks make this the ultimate superhero fantasy.

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



An indie hit for Xbox and something completely different, this co-op puzzler is packed with charm and invention.



ThE wALkInG dEAd

Some of the greatest interactive storytelling that gaming has to offer – and season two even outdoes the original.



Survival horror reinvented. Finally the treatment that the movie deserves, and an experience of remarkable intensity.

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



If it’s automotive fantasy fulfilment that you crave, then look no further. Horizon’s current-gen debut is a sight to behold.




The phenomenon shows no signs of abating. Far more than just a game, this is a magnificent creative outlet.



Platforming? Tick. Brain-bending puzzles? Tick. Delightful, timeless art style? Tick. Bizarre tale of nuclear arms? Possibly…


The MMO on consoles, with extensive new content adding to its appeal.



The first big XO exclusive truly delivered, and Respawn’s debut is still serving up bombastic multiplayer action.


10 jOURnEy

ThE wITchER 3: wILd hUnT

An epic proposition that truly lived up to its promise. Vast, mature and engaging – and one of the best fantasy RPGs ever.



What a world, what a story, and what a twist. Plus the original still deserves to be played, eight years after release.




FAR cRy 4

Few places can you (legally) find this level of freedom. Kyrat is a playground for all of your most destructive urges.

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


Insomniac is back in the groove, bringing forth crazy weapons and an open world bursting with colour and life.































This month, Robin pours himself a glass of Crusader Kings II Beneath its unwelcoming strategy exterior and awkward menus beats the heart of one of the most compelling, innovative role playing experiences of all time. This isn’t dry global domination – it’s about truly stepping into medieval life, guiding and guarding a noble dynasty. Through its dense, emergent systems, real human drama unfolds – tales of family, love, death, intrigue, politics, and war. Getting to grips with its complexities may seem a daunting task, but it’s so worth it.

wii U



Reinvention is what Nintendo does best, and nowhere is that more apparent than in this party-fuelling karter reborn.







Still the benchmark for PC MMOs. No subs fee, and a vast, storied world constantly updated with new stuff.



Proof that every so often more of the same isn’t a bad thing at all. Everything good about the first, but better.





A perfect sofa-based multiplayer pick. An irresistible line-up, and bursting with modes to bum-bash your buds across.


Arguably the best Zelda made better, with visuals to make your eyes water.



Try and walk away from it. We dare you. Blizzard has given the collectible card game genre an accessible shot in the arm.

Some of the most innovative uses of the GamePad, inside or outside of the Nintendo research labs. An indie delight.

The move to 3D has only improved this classic series, which has never been in better form. Get your trade face on.


Utterly unique. No other game out there gives you the chance to carve your own path through as massive a universe.


A masterpiece from the past reworked to hit the hardcore and still be approachable.

Bringing back the halcyon days of Infinity Engine-powered RPGs, only with modern visuals and a fresh fantasy setting.

Bright, beautiful, and inventive – and perfectly suited to handheld. Creative exploration that doesn’t get old.


Never been to Japanese high school? Then this stylish JRPG can help correct that. Only with demons and murders.



Play this with permadeath switched on and you’re in for a generation-spanning heartbreaker like no other.


For those with the need for speed this is the way to go. Frantic running and gunning perfectly distilled.



Nintendo does the impossible, bringing a vast and glorious open world to its diddy dual-screener. Witchcraft, surely…











ThE LEGEnd OF ZELdA: ThE wInd wAkER hd



The kings of RTS have outdone themselves with this latest nomadic take on the warfaring formula.



The current king of the crop in terms of Vita’s visual novel renaissance.



Bubbling over with personality, this long-awaited sequel is still the pinnacle of puzzling on your 3DS. Yello?


It’s back from the grave! You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll steal more bread of the dead than you could possibly need.




dOTA 2






























PIkMIn 3









masterminds Because sometimes one brain isn’t enough

GUeSt mASteRmInD Takashi Tezuka

In the 30 years since helping shape the original Super Mario Bros alongside Miyamoto, Tezuka has worked on countless Nintendo classics, including The Legend Of Zelda, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and most recently Super Mario Maker.

This month: With the celebrated plumber’s Super iterations turning 30, we thought it the right time to ask: which Mario game is the best Mario game?

Sam: Super Mario Kart on the SNES is king, in my opinion. Of all the games I



Tezuka: When it comes to development, I like 2D Mario games, because the structure is simple and production is a lot easier. Although, that’s not to say that I dislike 3D Mario games!

Matt: I remember getting hand and neck cramps trying to beat Tatanga. A real git, he was. Here’s a slightly different question – Tezuka, which Mario game are you most proud of being involved in?

Robin: Among the 2D Marios, my faves are the first two Super Mario Lands on Game Boy – tight, charming platformers I Matt: Mario Kart is one of those series could take with me wherever I went. My which ages terribly though. I couldn’t go princess was Daisy, not Peach, and back to Mario Kart 7, for example, before I ever faced Bowser, I after having spent two solid ext month n ne th xt was fighting the good fight days playing Mario Kart 8 for on m against Wario and… some review. What a blessed 48 sort of purple alien in a hours that was… If we’re spaceship? Super Mario talking about old school Will Team GM quit to Land 2 especially had it Mario, before 3D took retrain as plumbers? Find out in GM296, all – fiendish boss fights, over, then Super Mario out 8 October! creative level design, and a Bros 3 on NES is up there brilliant overworld. For a for me. I still remember NES-less kid, it was a revelation. finding the flute, and those

Tezuka: It’s difficult to say – we were able to complete all of the games without any particular regrets about not being able to include certain ideas. It may just be because the memories are fresh, but I’m extremely satisfied with Super Mario Maker. A large number of staff were really engaged with the project, competing to come up with ideas, and most importantly they were all having fun. I’m really satisfied with it – it’s not every day you get to work on a game where the staff are as psyched up as they were here.

th on m

next month n ex t

next month!

next month n ex t

Robin: Couldn’t agree more! Even beyond the revolutionary mechanics, that world felt so rich and dense, packed with things to do and secrets to find. I remember spending hours figuring out how to catch that rabbit… And the star system was brilliant. Levels weren’t just something to run through and beat, they were theme parks full of different activities.

Sam: Ahhh yes, a great contender! That 8-bit charm that had me hooked for hours on end. I could never get the timing right to avoid those Piranha Plants though!

next month n ex th t on m

Matt: It’s Super Mario 64, surely? Even booting it up now it’s still bursting with ideas, tactile controls, and intricately designed levels. It’s great not just because it was awesome to play through, but for paving the way for a whole genre of 3D platformers, too.

world maps were a masterstroke. The ominous airship music, too! Might just have to get that set up to play during GM deadline week. You, know, as motivation.

dedicated time to as a kid, SMK was the first that everyone in the family wanted to play. Being two player didn’t prevent everyone packing into the living room to catch a glimpse of the action, either. Sure, the Mario Kart series has evolved hugely since this release, and playing it today may not have the same impact, but you have to commend a game that created and popularised the kart racing genre. For me, zipping along as Toad in Ghost Valley will always take some beating!

th on m


ne thing is constant in this topsy-turvy videogame industry: Mario games are the business. The rotund mascot pretty much birthed a generation of gamers, and it doesn’t matter where you stand in the marketing conflict between consoles, PCs, mobiles, et al – we’ve all fallen for a Mario game at some point. But which one is top of the pile?

“super mario 64 is bursting with great ideas and intricately designed levels”

Robin: Would now be the appropriate time to admit that I haven’t played a proper Mario platformer since Sunshine on the Gamecube? Matt: You at least need to play Galaxy! Take the GM Wii U and download it tonight. I won’t let you leave until you do.


Games Master October 2015  

Games Master October 2015