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June 2014

FEATURING THE BEST NEXT-GEN GAMES OF 2014

4-PAGE REVIEW

OF TITANFALL

Assassin’sCreed IV Black Flag Hands On

Outlast Can you handle it?

LoL All-Stars 2014 Meet the teams


CONTENTS 4-5 Assassin’s Creed IV 6-7 Dying Light 8 The Crew 10-11 Grand Turismo 6 12-13 Final Fantasy 14 Xbox vs PS3 16-17 The Division 18-19 Outlast 20 Morpheus VR 22-23 GTA V 24-25 Watch Dogs 26-27 Watcher 3 28 Indie Games 30-35 Titanfall-Review 36 Indie Games 38-39 LoL All-Star Game 40 Indie Games

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H WATC O T SCAN AIL ER! R T HE T

Black Flag doesn’t just present a beautiful world; it gives you a mountain of reasons to run off and go exploring.

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ow far can you stray from home before it’s impossible to ever return? That’s the question at the heart of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. It’s something that plagues Edward Kenway, the game’s roguish hero, as he explores the Caribbean in search of wealth and the dream of returning to England a more respectable man.

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But for as much as Kenway longs for the day he can leave the pirate life behind, the freedom of the open sea is a difficult thing to resist. And who can blame him? Because after this stunning and beautifully realized tale of adventure on the high seas, it’s hard to imagine the Assassin’s Creed series returning to its landlocked roots.

The world of Black Flag is nothing short of remarkable. This is the most expansive setting in the history of the franchise, a virtual rendition of the West Indies that encompasses all manner of burgeoning colonies, Mayan ruins, and deadly jungles. Cities like Havana and Nassau reflect the series’ trademark attention to detail, from the stonework cathedrals of the


former to the ramshackle taverns of the latter. Then there are the remote islands inhabited by nothing more than crabs and sea turtles, underwater shipwrecks waiting to be explored, and vast stretches of sparkling Caribbean waters that are every bit as deadly as they are gorgeous.

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CAN DYING LIGHT FRESHEN UP A ROTTING GENRE? 6


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arner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced Dying Light, an open-world first-person survival horror game from Dead Island and Call of Juarez developer Techland. The game will launch in 2014 for next-generation platforms like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, current-generation systems including the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as well as the PC. No mention was made of a Wii U release, and a Warner Bros. representative could not be reached for comment. Dying Light features a full daynight cycle. In the day, players will explore an urban environment be-

set by “a vicious outbreak.” Gamers must scavenge the world for supplies and weapons to defend themselves from the infected. When day turns to night, “the hunter becomes the hunted,” Warner Bros. said. The infected will become aggressive during the evening, and certain predators will appear only after sundown. “The next-gen technology allows us to create a truly dynamic open world that features a game-changing day-night cycle,” said Techland CEO Paweł Marchewka in a statement. “Inventive free-running mechanics also allow for nearly unrestricted exploration and weapon crafting to further enhance the action survival experience.”

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The Crew: First Impressions What we like most about The Crew isn’t just the space it gives you to explore or the social characteristics, but the fact that it feels wild and unpredictable. Even Need for Speed: The Rivals – another stunning-looking game that tries to break down barriers between solo and multiplayer racing – seems to be playing it slightly safe by comparison.

another stunning-looking game that tries to break down barriers between solo and multiplayer racing

With all the interesting bits of the US to race through and a wide range of ways in which to do it, this might just be the most exciting racer to hit the new consoles, which makes it all the more frustrating that we’ll have to wait until early next year to find out. Racing games are an easy choice for any new console launch: all those cars and tracks work brilliantly to showcase the new graphics hardware, but there’s no need to knock yourself out on the gameplay fundamentals. What makes Ubisoft’s The Crew so exciting is that it’s trying to do a little more. It’s being developed for next generation consoles the PS4 and Xbox One by Ivory Tower, a studio formed by developers from veterans of Eden Games, and Ubisoft Reflections, who bought us the excellent Driver: San Francisco in 2011, and it’s a racer featuring a persistent online USA, which blurs the lines between single-player, co-op and competitive multiplayer play. The idea is that you have a concentrated version of the entire USA to drive around. You can take to the streets in the cities and the suburbs, enjoy the open road or even drive off-track onto the beach or through the corn-fields. You can race on your own tackling races, takedown challenges and furious cop chases, or you can work together with a crew of other players, seamlessly joining each other’s games at any time and in any mission. The hope is that The Crew will capture the feel of a Fast and Furious movie, with racers both working together and competing with each other to pull off the most outrageous feats of driving,

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Gran Turismo 6 can be a wonderful thing. It’s hard not to admire its intuitive handling, the obsessive attention to detail, and its steadfast dedication to simulation, even though some of the fun is sucked out in the process. It’s an impressive piece of work in some respects, but for a series with such a legacy behind it, you can’t help but feel it’s forever doomed to a life of quiet predictability to keep the diehards happy. GT6 is all about small, incremental changes over grand reinventions. While it is--in my mind at least-- the best true racing simulation available on consoles, so much of the

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game feels antiquated and quaint when compared to its rivals. Everything that’s good about Gran Turismo is here, and so too, unfortunately, is the bad. Things start off well, though. GT6 gets you straight into the action with a Trackday lap--a first for the series--by putting you at the wheel of a Renault Clio RS at the new Brands Hatch circuit. There, you’re taught driving basics, such as how to use a racing line and zip around the track. The pacey Renault isn’t going to smash any lap records, but it’s great fun to drive, and the Trackday certainly gets you geared up for some proper racing. And then, as soon as the tutorial is over, Polyphony Digital falls back into 15 years of horribly bad habits.

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If you want some competitive racing, you need to head into the online lobbies. Multiplayer racing can be a minefield at the best of times, and GT6 similarly makes getting into a race an awkward process. For some reason, the day-one patch removed the Quick Match option from the menus, meaning that the only way to race is to scour pages to find

As ever, the depth of the game is truly breathtaking.


GT6’s handling is nearly flawless. The updates to the driving model seem subtle at first, but the little tweaks combine to make vast improvements. Cars spring to life, demanding precision and concentration from even the most experienced drivers. The changes to the physics are the claimed result of partnerships with several automotive parts makers, from aftermarket suspension companies to tire manufacturers. The suspension modeling is the most immediately noticeable change. You can feel the body roll and yaw as you change direction, making it natural and instinctive to correct tiny slides as you sense the car’s weight shifting, rather than relying on visual feedback. Stock road cars are livelier too. In the past, they had very neutral and unresponsive handling, but in GT6, you can sense much more movement through these less-high-end machines, particularly when the nose dives down toward the asphalt under heavy braking. You can anticipate the limit of grip even on standard street tires, giving the best drivers the opportunity to extract more performance than usual from slow cars. That might all sound intimidating, particularly if you’re not a seasoned driver, but there’s a whole suite of assists that keep GT6’s realistic physics accessible to less-skilled players. Traction control and other settings have 10-point sliders that can be adjusted gradually as you improve your driving, starting you off with basic control and easing you into a more realistic experience.

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THE LEGEND RETURNS B

oth Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III will be released for the Xbox One alongside the PlayStation 4, Square Enix confirmed during an E3 2013 presentation today. Final Fantasy XV is the new title

Speaking at Square Enix’s event, Final Fantasy XV producer Shinji Hashimoto added that the game was being built using DirectX 11 and would therefore be easy to port between platforms.

and Final Fantasy XV are coming out later this year, but Square Enix is calling them incorrect. The rumors cite a European release calendar distributed by Square Enix and states that both games are slated for a release sometime in 2014. In a message to GameSpot, a Square Enix representative wrote, “We’re aware an internal document has been in circulation listing release dates for select Square Enix titles. This information contained in this document is inaccurate and features placeholder timing. “Specifically, no announcement has been made to date for Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV-their projected release window remains to be advised.”

for Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which was originally announced as a PlayStation 3 exclusive back at E3 2006. Kingdom Hearts 3 is also the first mainline entry in its series since 2006.

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Square Enix adds that Kingdom Hearts III is the first time a Kingdom Hearts will be released on a Microsoft platform.Some unsubstantiated rumors had been floating around the Web that Kingdom Hearts III

We probably won’t have more solid details about either game until E3, but given the early look we had at Kingdom Hearts III last year, it seems highly unlikely that the game has any chance of coming out before 2015.


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How Can The Xbox One Catch Up To The PS4? We speak with a handful of analysts about the state of the Xbox One and what Microsoft needs to do to catch up to Sony.

The NPD Group released its industry sales figures for March 2014 earlier this month and the results showed another victory for Sony’s PlayStation 4. It was yet again the top-selling console in the United States, outperforming the Xbox One, which shifted 311,000 units during the period. This news was surprising to some, myself included, because Microsoft made aggressive moves during the month to sell more consoles. The company launched a system-seller game, Titanfall on March 11, and even released a special Titanfall Xbox One bundle that was almost immediately marked down to $450 by many retailers, Microsoft included.

Colin Sebastian - Robert W. Baird

“I think if we didn’t have the PS4 to benchmark Xbox One against, the perspective would be a little more positive. For example, unit sales of Xbox One are tracking 60 percent above Xbox 360 sales at a similar point post launch. But in an age where competition matters, Microsoft doesn’t want to fall too far behind Sony. In terms of the March data, not a bad month for Xbox One, but the PS4 still has stronger momentum, which we attribute to the price difference, lack of consumer enthusiasm for Kinect, and otherwise similar features.” “Looking ahead, it is difficult to foresee any tipping point that would push Xbox One ahead of PS4. Both platforms have strong software pipelines in the months ahead, and both are adding incrementally to multi-media functionality as the battle for the living room unfolds. If market share matters more than anything else to Microsoft, they will slash the price of Xbox One, or even strip out Kinect; but those are very unlikely scenarios unless the PS4 market share advantage expands meaningfully from here.”

Doug Creutz - Cowen & Company

“Titanfall did quite well, but...the PS4 still outsold the Xbox One in March in the US. I would make the following comments: Sony is still catching up supply to demand, whereas Microsoft is not. I think we will probably begin to see ‘normal’ numbers (i.e. no backlog for Sony in monthly numbers) by the end of Q2. While there was some effective price cutting going on, there was no major price cut announcement. While Xbox One is trending behind PS4, it is also trending ahead of where 360 was at similar point. We are still very early in the cycle. The PS4 lead over Xbox One in the US is still relatively narrow. However, I do think Microsoft is clearly not in the position they hoped they would be in (i.e. slightly behind Sony in US and well behind on a worldwide basis). I think a sharper price cut before holiday 2014 is probably necessary if they want to catch up.”

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he game engine for Tom Clancy’s The Division, the upcoming Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC game set in the Splinter Cell universe, promises to deliver an unprecedented level of realism. “Never before has a video game reached this level of detail,” Ubisoft said about its previously announced Snowdrop Engine in a new video released today during the Spike VGX Awards. The Snowdrop Engine is capable of

capturing light realistically via a volumetric lighting system, which will help establish a more believable atmosphere, Ubisoft said. The game engine also powers The Division’s procedural destruction elements. In the video, bullets were shown being fired into police car as little bits of the vehicle flew off. The Snowdrop Engine also powers The Division’s day/night cycle and various weather elements. We’ll have the video later tonight and will post it here when available. As

far as stakes go, saving the

world seems to rank pretty high, and where better to test my skills than in post-disaster New York City? The ability to join games using a smart device sounds like a fine idea on paper, but whether the feature is well integrated into the game or becomes a source of grief remains to be seen. Regardless, The Division could be the game to turn my fantasy of open-world firefights with my team into a virtual reality. Being part of a team of talented and competitive gamers, I am always on the lookout for a game that will test the skills we’ve long touted in multiplayer modes across a variety of genres. Tom Clancy’s The Division definitely fits the bill as a multiplayer game; throw in a tactical shooting component mixed into an open-world format, and I’m practically salivating.

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“The Division could be the game to turn my fantasy of open-world firefights with my team into a virtual reality.”

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easily the most horrifying thing you will ever play... In the desolate mountains of Colorado, horrors await inside Mount Massive Asylum. An abandoned home for the mentally ill, recently re-opened by the “research and charity” branch of the transnational Murkoff Corporation, has been operating in complete secrecy… until now. Acting on a tip from an inside source, independent journalist Miles Upshur breaks into the facility, and what he discovers walks a terrifying line between science and religion, nature and something entirely different. Once inside, his only hope of escape lies with the terrible truth at the heart of Mount Massive.

It’s two in the morning, and the hairs on your arms and the back of your neck are standing on edge. You’re a little drunk. The lights are out, and your headphones are on–but you’ve forgotten all of that. You’re stuck behind the lens of Miles Upshur’s camera exploring the ruined interior of Colorado’s Mt. Massive Asylum. You could end it at any point–the escape key rests within easy reach. God knows you want to end it. You’d give anything if it meant you could turn on the lights and pull yourself out of Red Barrels’ debut horror game, but Outlast compels you to keep going. For you and for Miles, the only way to get out is to push forward. Outlast is so good that its hard to know where to begin talking about it, but perhaps the most interesting from a gameplay perspective is the camera. You can think of Outlast as sort of 18

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a “found footage” game. Nearly all of the gameplay is viewed through the LCD screen on Miles’ camcorder, complete with the ability to zoom. You don’t need to use the camera, but if you don’t use it you’ll be missing out on a bunch of the game’s lore. The graphics in general are more than adequate–Outlast won’t win any awards, but it does run very smoothly. The camera’s video quality is a bit spotty, giving the entire

game a grainy, overexposed look that is more disquieting than you’d think at first glance. However, as good as Outlast looks in the safety of the lights, it’s in darkness that Outlast leaves its mark. The audio only improves the experience. The asylum is full of the screeches of imprisoned patients and victims. Monsters snarl and mumble as they shamble around. If they get too close, you’ll hear blood


rushing through your hears and begin to wonder if the quivering breathing you hear is coming from you, from the game, or both. The soundtrack is nearly perfect, as well. Sure, it comes in to highlight a set piece or an important story hook liked you’d expect, but you’ll also find yourself wandering a ward with no music at all–nothing but the sound of your breathing, the floor creaking, and the shrieking of the inmates in the distance. The music comes in to dramatic effect–highlighting a particularly important storyline beat or driving you on during one of Outlast many chase sequences.

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PS4’s Project Morpheus VR device won’t launch in 2014, $1000 price point unlikely PlayStation president of Worldwide Studios rules out 2014 launch date for head-mounted display, says you shouldn’t expect to pay $1000. Sony has ruled out a 2014 launch for its virtual reality headset Project Morpheus. PlayStation president of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida told GameSpot today that this won’t happen because Sony engineers are continuing to iterate on the device and they won’t have a feature-complete version ready anytime soon. We asked Yoshida directly if a 2014 launch date for Project Morpheus had been ruled out and his response was: “Yes. That we can say comfortably because we are still making changes to the hardware.” The current iteration of the Project Morpheus headset is a non-final prototype. Sony has pledged to continue to improve the device over time to boost its ability to deliver a feeling of “presence.” However, the company

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has not laid out a specific roadmap for what changes are the highest priority. Sony has ruled out a 2014 launch for According to Yoshida, the HMZ line is priced in such a way that Sony makes money on every unit sold. This model doesn’t normally apply to game hardware, though, as consoles are often sold at or below cost, and become profitable with the sale of games, accessories, and services. Yoshida said Sony often prices its gaming hardware lower than other

non-gaming Sony devices and explained that he doesn’t expect this to change with Project Morpheus. As such, Yoshida explained that a $1000 price point “doesn’t necessarily indicate the pricing that we’re gonna have” for Project Morpheus. As for the competition, Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey said this month that the device will be “affordable” because he doesn’t want it to be a “rich person’s toy.” Check back in the days ahead for even more GameSpot coverage of Project Morpheus, including a breakdown of the dif-


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City of Angels and Demons Where do you begin talking about Grand Theft Auto V? Do you start with the vast, varied, beautiful open world? Do you start with the innovative structure that gives you three independent protagonists you can switch between on the fly? Maybe you talk about the assortment of side activities you can engage in, or the tremendous number of ways in which you can go about making your own fun.Or perhaps you dive right into the game’s story problems, or its serious issues with women. GTA V is a complicated and 22

fascinating game, one that fumbles here and there and has an unnecessary strain of misogynistic nastiness running through it. But it also does amazing things no other open-world game has attempted before, using multiple perspectives to put you in the thick of cinematic heist sequences and other exhilarating, multi-layered missions like no open-world game before. Those perspectives come courtesy of Michael, Franklin, and Trevor.

Michael’s a former criminal who’s dissatisfied with his current life of privilege and relaxation. His marriage is on the rocks and he struggles to connect with his shallow daughter Tracey, who dreams of making it big in reality TV, and with his lazy, entitled son Jimmy, who spends most of his time spouting hate-filled trash talk while playing video games online. Franklin’s a talented young driver and repo man who doesn’t seem to have too many opportunities to


move up in the world, until he has a chance meeting with Michael. Michael finds Franklin easier to connect with than his own children, and he promptly takes him under his wing and ushers him into a life of big-time crime.

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These are elaborate, multi-stage sequences that involve prep work. You might need to acquire equipment ahead of time, find a good place to hide a getaway car, and make other arrangements before you’re ready to pull off the job. You also need to select supporting members for your crew.

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SCAN TO WATCH THE TRAILER!

EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED_ Ubisoft’s open world adventure is surprisingly traditional, and that’s a good thing. Watch Dogs is something of an anomaly, insofar as it looks and feels nextgen native but is still being released on current generation consoles, part of what will presumably be a shortlived cross-gen era for such ambitious titles. How the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Wii U will be able to cope with the sheer size of Watch Dogs, I’m not sure - one can only presume that Ubisoft Montreal has learned a few optimization tricks from working with next-generation hardware. The feat will be an impressive one, because Watch Dogs’ most endearing quality is its scope. If one thing defined next-gen for me at E3 this year, it was the amount of stuff developers can now fit – or at least, are

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trying to fit - into a game. Linearity is out, open-world is in. Player choice is the quality every developer is striving for. Freedom is underlined, then bolded, then coated in candy sprinkles. At its behind closed doors E3 demo, Ubisoft was keen to demonstrate how Watch Dogs ticks all these boxes, in a free-roaming slice of gameplay devoid of missions or objectives. While the demo was eyes-on only, it was a joy to watch, so anarchic was the Ubisoft rep’s loitering in the game’s version of Chicago. The sheer amount of options the game appears to present the player knocked me for six.

There’s a morality system at play here, too, one which seems a little more nuanced than the usual binary kind, at least within a narrative context. At one point the Ubi rep hacked into the Wi-fi connection of a random apartment, giving him full access to bank details and pin numbers. We hear a baby cry. “Will you steal from a young family?” poses the rep.


While your decisions to these moral quandaries are attached to what sounds like a formulaic Reputation system, there’s a sinister edge to them that could yield some truly sadistic results. It will be interesting to see how Ubisoft plays with Aiden’s evolution if he does indeed decide to steal from the mouths of babes. Ultimately, Watch Dogs is a promising example of how a publisher is ushering in the next generation by drawing, expertly, from the last. It’s a game that looks to offer something for everyone, a game that players can bend and twist to suit their own style. It also feels like a coda to Ubisoft’s best work of the last ten or so years, handled by a studio that knows by now what works and what doesn’t in an open world. It’s big, and it’s mightily ambitious. For these reasons, it’s my game of show at E3 2013.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the third and final game in the Witcher series that sees Geralt’s adventure take on a more open-world role without acts and chapters. It is a dark fantasy, non-linear, open world RPG with a focus on a character-driven story, player choice, tactical combat and a rich living world.

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SCAN TO WATCH THE TRAILER!

Ask anyone what games they’re looking forward to the most in 2014, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will probably be on that list. Developer CD Projekt RED’s latest open-world action RPG was extremely well received at E3 2013, winning over 55 awards, and has since then been referred to as a true next-gen experience to look forward to. We caught up with Marcin Iwinski, co-founder of the CD Projekt group, to talk about its ambitious project, dealing with worldwide accolades,

game mechanics, and lots more. Can newcomers dive straight into The Witcher 3 or will they be lost in the game? People do not need to play The Witcher 1 or 2 before they jump into Wild Hunt; it’s perfectly fine. The game has a great introduction that will make them feel right at home, and we’re working really hard to communicate this fact. Each game has had its own story, but if you’ve played through both the games, or

have even read Andrzej Sapkowski’s books, you’ll be privy to a lot of stuff others may not get. How long will one playthrough of the game last, with and without side quests? We’re looking at roughly 50 hours for the main storyline depending on your gameplay style and the difficulty level. If you do most or all of the side quests, you’re looking at anything between 100 to 120 hours of gameplay.

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Refreshing Indie Games New to the PlayStation Network It’s the little things in life.

Sony’s been waving the indie flag for the last few years. From when Jonathon Blow discussed The Witness at the PlayStation 4 reveal to when scores of developers showed off their projects at last year’s E3, it seems as though there’s always another independent game being announced. And we couldn’t be happier about that. Sony recently showed off a bunch of upcoming games-including previously covered ones such as Transistor, Galak-Z, and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number--along with a lot more that we hadn’t seen before. So check out six that had us eager to finally gets our hands on the finished experience.

Chariot Chariot sounds far more grim on paper that it actually is. An unnamed princess and her suitor are stuck dragging the casket of the deceased king through a deep, dark cave to find a final resting place suitable for their once noble lord. Both of these extremely dedicated pallbearers can send out a rope with the press of a button that will automatically attach itself to the casket. And, don’t worry, the casket is on wheels. If it wasn’t, dragging it through this 2D, puzzle-platforming adventure would be a real nightmare. Chariot is powered by a sophisticated physics engine, which means when you slip up and let the casket go careening down a steep hill and it bounces off a boulder, it likely won’t land in the same place twice. Of course, if you and your partner do your jobs right this won’t happen. Chariot is coming to the full range of next generation consoles, including Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, and PC. --Maxwell McGee

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To leave As a young boy, your journey is one of danger. You grab on to a door--your one link between the past and future--and soar through the air while grasping firmly on to it. The nightmarish world reigns you in with sharp rocks and swirling paths, and you must glide unscathed through the tangled web to reach the next part of your journey. It’s simple yet tense because just glancing against a wall can end your run. I’m not afraid to admit that I died, frequently, and after each death, I started once more, eager to fly through untouched. To Leave is more interesting conceptually than mechanically right now, though there is still a kinetic rush in flying through the air, hanging on to a door for dear life. --Tom Mc Shea


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4-page

REVIEW

High flying and heavy hitting When you look at Titanfall, it’s easy to see the familiar. Most of the weapons, grenades, and abilities fill well-worn niches. Many of the environments are like the grimy villages and industrial complexes that have hosted countless online battles in dozens of other games. The competitive modes are bog standard. And yet, when you play Titanfall, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that you’re playing something special. The key is mobility. Titanfall gives you the ability to leap, climb, and wallrun your way around the map, and these simple actions create an exhilarating array of possibilities. No longer constrained by corridors and stairwells, you and your foes engage in high-flying, freewheeling combat in which the sheer joy of movement makes the familiar feel fresh and vibrant. This novel brand of warfare is enough to heartily recommend the game, but that’s not all that this multiplayer-only shooter does well. You also clash with your foes in lumbering battle mechs called titans. These powerful brutes fuel a weightier, more tactical type of combat that intertwines beautifully with the light-footed action, and herein lies Titanfall’s triumph: two distinct kinds of combat blending seamlessly together to create chaotic and dynamic battlefields unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

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How do you judge a game as hyped as Titanfall? Do you deconstruct it, check all the bullet points are covered, pick it apart and talk about the things it doesn’t do? If so, Titanfall might leave you wanting. Visually, Respawn’s debut is a greatlooking game, but not quite a nextgen benchmark setter. It can’t boast certain must-have features, like destructible scenery, evolving maps or branching objectives. The much-vaunted fusion of singleplayer and multiplayer action turns out to be a thin layer of narrative that makes virtually no difference to the gameplay. It’s short on innovative game modes, and there aren’t even that many maps. Yet the experience of playing Titanfall says something different. If you’re bored of online FPS games, Titanfall might make you think again. If you’re looking for something that’s about more than twitch reflexes and sudden headshots, Titanfall delivers.

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Sometimes its innovations aren’t that major or that obvious, yet they come together to make a quietly revolutionary game. The guys who transformed the genre with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare have done it again. The most important thing in Titanfall turns out not to be the Titans or the single/multiplayer campaign, but the simple joy of moving around the map. Splash Damage’s under-appreciated Brink did its best to bring parkour to the FPS, but Titanfall nails it, with its jet-pack packing, wall-running, double-jumping pilots exploring the world in a way that brings to mind superhero games like inFamous more than Call of Duty. You might think playing on foot plays second-fiddle to piloting a Titan, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Sprinting up a wall and jumping through a window to surprise an enemy position never gets old. Chaining wall-runs and jumps to reach

higher ground is a thrill in itself. The speed and fluidity of movement even changes the whole flow of the gameplay. You’re rarely more than thirty seconds from the action, and it’s quite hard for all but the most skilled snipers to get a bead on a moving pilot. Then there are the Titans. True, we’ve had big lumbering mechs to play with before, but Titanfall makes them more than walking tanks. The dash ability turns out to be crucial, enabling you to dodge incoming fire or charge in with a melee punch. There’s a real art to using the vortex field, timing things right so that you suck in incoming fire, then spit it back out for maximum damage. Throw in the additional weapons and secondary abilities you unlock as you progress through the persistent levelling system, and there’s plenty of potential to build your own style of Titan. Switch Vortex Shield


out for damage-dealing, Titan-concealing smoke, and you can have a great mech for close-quarters battle. Make use of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 passive capabilities, and you can have a Titan that blows skyhigh even as it goes down, while you eject into the sunset to fight another day. The mix of pilots and Titans works brilliantly. Slow-moving, isolated pilots are easy-pickings for a mech, but an acrobatic pilot with a cloaking shield engaged is another matter. Pilots can damage Titans not just with anti-Titan weapons, but by leaping onto them and disabling them from the outside: a difficult feat to pull off, but one that’s worth it for the hugely satisfying payoff. While the game works at two scales, it never feels like two discrete battles. Whether you’re playing David or Goliath, there’s always something you can do to make a difference.

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This generous spirit flows into the game as a whole. In recent years the online FPS has become a horribly frustrating place for all but the most committed. Whether you’re a n00b or just someone who doesn’t have ten hours a week for the latest Battlefield or Call of Duty, it can be hard to take the pace. Titanfall changes this, not just because the new style of gameplay levels the playing field a fraction, but because it makes participation about more than making headshots. It’s not like Battlefield, in that there aren’t specific recon or support roles, but even less skilled players can get stuck in, focusing on taking control points in the objective-based Hardpoint mode, or just hoovering up easy kills against the AI-controlled Grunts and Spectres in Attrition. The slightly dumb and predictable bots don’t just help fill out the battlefield, but give novices an easy target to build their skills on. Even the game’s brilliant endgame plays its part, allowing those on the los-

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ing team to snatch some comfort by reaching the evacuating dropship, while the winners do their best to heap one final humiliation on top of the loss. There was much controversy prebeta about the twelve-player cap, but this is still very much a non-issue. We’ve yet to play a single round that hasn’t felt frantic and exciting, and even with five players per team that doesn’t change. Like so much of Titanfall, the player count seems perfectly balanced. With all the grunts, spectres, pilots and titans on the field, you’re never left looking for team-mates to support or enemies to shoot. What’s a stronger cause for complaint is the feebleness of the narrative-led campaign. Structurally it works pretty well, taking you through nine Attrition and Hardpoint scenarios first from the vantage of the authoritarian IMF, and then through the eyes of the rebel-

lious Militia. The narrative bit extends as far as pre-match and occasional postmatch cut-scenes with the odd bit of chatter in the corner of the screen (and you’ll barely have time to notice that).The outcome of the scenario has no real effect on the direction of the story, and each campaign is effectively little more than a pair of ready-made playlists. Finally, a word about stability and servers. We’ve been playing prerelease on European servers, and we’ve had no problems with matchmaking or finding a game. In fact, it’s been so easy as to be practically transparent. Nor have we had any problems staying in a game once started, bar one dropped connection we’d put down to our own ISP. The worst thing we can say is that it’s nearly impossible to find a game of Pilot Hunt or Capture the Flag, but that’s probably a case of low player numbers and/or interest.


Verdict

Our Score 9/10

Titanfall might not look or always seem that revolutionary, but it is a transformative online FPS in its own special way. We’ve never seen an FPS that combines two scales of action so successfully, nor one with such speed and fluidity of movement. Everything from the weapons to the abilities to the maps to the Titans themselves is perfectly balanced. It’s tighter than the strings in a concert grand piano, and just as beautiful to play. We hope that we’ll see a better fusion of narrative and action in the sequel, not to mention more imaginative game modes, but as it is Titanfall is an FPS to rival Call of Duty, Left for Dead and Battlefield, and one which sets high standards for a new breed of next-gen games to match – and hopefully surpass. 35


Refreshing Indie Games New to the PlayStation Network It’s the little things in life.

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Sony’s been waving the indie flag for the last few years. From when Jonathon Blow discussed The Witness at the PlayStation 4 reveal to when scores of developers showed off their projects at last year’s E3, it seems as though there’s always another independent game being announced. And we couldn’t be happier about that. Sony recently showed off a bunch of upcoming games-including previously covered ones such as Transistor, Galak-Z, and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number--along with a lot more that we hadn’t seen before. So check out six that had us eager to finally gets our hands on the finished experience.

Source

Velocity x2

You float through an alien landscape, utterly alone, and yet completely serene. It’s a land of wonder and beauty, where the odd geometric shapes that enclose you seem both understandable and outlandish, floating cubes and spheres that defy their geometric simplicity. Everything is strange, slightly unnerving yet mostly harmless, so as you glide through as a bio-luminescent firefly, you explore with eager curiosity. And it’s a world that begs exploration. Those rocky outcrops overhead look so inviting, veiling who knows what kind of secret, and you want nothing more than to head toward them. What awaits you? Is it a glowing ball, a key to open the next part of the world? Or a diving bug whose infinite legs make your stomach turn? --Tom Mc Shea

Velocity began its life as a humble PlayStation Mini on the PSP, where, as GameSpot’s own Mark Walton noted in his review, the game was “a fun and inventive little shooter that offers lots of content for very little outlay.” It was then upgraded to Velocity Ultra for the PlayStation 3, Vita, and PC, before finally settling on the recently announced Velocity 2X. Velocity 2X takes the series’ top-down, sci-fi shooter action and layers on new platforming segments to help break up the space faring. In the section I played, the ship portions were much more focused on shooting, while the on-foot segments were more puzzle-oriented. Both had me teleporting around the map to either avoid, or navigate through, obstacles, but when on-foot I also had to find and activate a number of switches to open a gate and allow my ship to advance. It was a fun diversion and should bring a new challenge to Velocity fans from all the way back in the PlayStation Mini days. Velocity 2X is coming PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita sometime later this year. --Maxwell McGee


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As Metal Gear games go, Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes is a stripped down affair. It avoids lengthy cutscenes, climactic boss fights, and the usual frayed and tangled plot strands in favour of smart, tactical gameplay. While its central campaign is indeed as short as you might’ve heard at around two hours, its multitude of options make for an engaging and tense experience that encourages replayability for hours afterward. Besides a somewhat clumsily delivered ending, this is Metal Gear for modern tastes; lean, mean, and wickedly fun. The prologue to the upcoming fullbodied Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (expected in 2015), Ground Zeroes takes its structural and tonal cues from Peace Walker, 2010’s largely overlooked but wonderful PSP game. Ground Zeroes’ central plot focuses on Metal Gear’s usual concerns of high concept political conspiracies and conflicted triple agents, but contrary to the norm, there is very little of it. The plot that is here is darker in tone than what we’ve come to expect. There has been some talk of Creative Director Hideo Kojima’s desires to move Metal Gear into a grittier and more provocative territory, and the gristle and grime on display in the game’s unflinching cut scenes and audio tapes certainly suggests this is the case.

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But the story is over quickly. When I rushed through it, I was done in less than an hour, but taking my time to smell the roses I finished it in three. The length might bother those coming to Ground Zeroes looking for a full-fledged Metal Gear game, but it does prove itself to be more than a glorified Phantom Pain tutorial with five sizeable side missions and a number of accessible and ingenious ways in which to play most of them. You just have to be ready to look for it. For the first time in a Metal Gear game, Boss’ adventure is a nonlinear one, played out in the US Naval Prison Facility known as Omega Base. It’s a small sandbox, where the corridors and rooms littered with conveniently placed containers we’ve grown so familiar with have been replaced with a sprawling, functional ecosystem, full of open industrial areas and heavily populated camps surrounded by raging sea. Ground Zeroes at its most visually impressive on the PlayStation 4, but Omega Base is wonderfully realized regardless of the console you choose to play on. It’s a detailed, considered world presented sharply and cleanly, and it’s testament to its character that it feels like an entirely different locale depending on a change in weather.

THE VERDICT Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes is a short but challenging game, and those willing to cast aside conventional expectations will find a lot more here than first glance might suggest. While I’m unconvinced that Kojima is quite ready to tackle more controversial narrative material, for the most part Ground Zeroes represents a new, more sophisticated era for Metal Gear. A Big Boss/Snake adventure has never looked or played better, and in it lies incredible promise for its enormous big brother.

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Refreshing Indie Games New to the PlayStation Network It’s the little things in life.

Sony’s been waving the indie flag for the last few years. From when Jonathon Blow discussed The Witness at the PlayStation 4 reveal to when scores of developers showed off their projects at last year’s E3, it seems as though there’s always another independent game being announced. And we couldn’t be happier about that. Sony recently showed off a bunch of upcoming games-including previously covered ones such as Transistor, Galak-Z, and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number--along with a lot more that we hadn’t seen before. So check out six that had us eager to finally gets our hands on the finished experience.

Aztecz N++ It’s those simple games that are so darn humbling. You run and jump, climb some walls, and maybe even laugh at how easy it all is. Just enter the door, right? No big deal. Well, N++ doesn’t look kindly on brash punks. Make just one mistake and its the end of the road for your fleetfooted ninja. This is a platformer in which everything looks so doable at first--you see the missile launchers overhead, the alien blobs patrolling the ground--and so you plan the path through the chaos in advance. And then reality sets in. That missile? It hounds you, humming behind you like a death whistle as you race across the potholed ground. Distracted by imminent death, you lose sight of the alien bugger as it speeds toward you. In a blink, you’re dead, your legacy splattered on the ground. --Tom Mc Shea

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The Aztec-theme, monochromatic brawler Aztez may be friendly to button mashers, but in truth mobility is your greatest ally. I had the opportunity to try out the combat portion of this game, and was able to rack up some lengthy combos just by mashing out the light and heavy attacks. However, I also suffered several backstabs from the sidelines as my foes slowly surrounded me. After a quick death, a tried again only this time I made an effort to stay light on my toes. The game really opened for me after making this simple play style switch as I bounced off walls and sored over the heads of my foes, hopping from one target to the next while evenly spreading out the pain. And despite the game’s 2D presentation and limited color pallet, the different enemy types were easy to discern--and prioritize--thanks to some creative character designs. Aztez also has an empire for you to manage when you’re not spilling the blood of your enemies. However, I didn’t get the chance to try it out. Team Colorblind, developers on Aztez, are hoping to have their game out towards the end of this year on Steam first, and then consoles second. --Maxwell McGee


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Ingame Magazine