Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Space Engineers: A New Indie Game That Looks Promising

Space Engineers is a game in-development that, just today, released for alpha play on Steam. For the rest of October, it’s only $15.

I have a soft spot for simulation games, and this one struck a chord. It’s an indie game: check. It had pretty nice graphics (for an indie game): check. The premise sounds interesting: check!

In Space Engineers, you build small and large ships and space stations. What you do after that is mainly restricted to mining, shooting things (or other players), and just being creative. The developers have stated that they’d rather players get creative with traps and building than openly shooting at each other. We’ll have to see how that turns out.

It looks really interesting. However, the current alpha version has a few features disabled, namely mining, using any tools or weapons, along with a couple of other features still being worked on. For a full list, check:  http://store.steampowered.com/app/244850/

The developers have put out a short tutorial that shows off the basics of the game, although you’ll still have to do a fair bit of learning on your own:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHk6L0zNB6U

So far, all you can really do in the game is fly around in ships and your jetpack, build ships and stations, and then ram your ships into stuff. It’s actually kind of satisfying to ram into things.

It’s pretty challenging at first, but the learning curve isn’t nearly as bad as some other games (looking at you, Kerbal Space Program).

Give it a look, see if you’d want to play it when all the features are active. This might be the cheapest you can grab it for awhile. I can’t wait to see what else will be added in the future.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tips and Tricks for the Sims 4

Playing the Sims 4 for quite sometime now and I have come up with tips and tricks that I know can help you guys play the game better. You may have been familiar some of these things but I am positive that most of you are not, so let us get started.

The first thing that can help you playing with the Sims 4 is the keyboard shortcut for scaling up and down things. The trick is you need to press simultaneously SHIFT and the bracket accordingly. If you want it scaled up, then press this key in your keyboard (]), otherwise, if you want it scaled down then press ([). It is worth noting that you can’t shrink things from its original size but you can always make it bigger. How to Make Free Gold - Find out how to make 30,000 free gold a month in Game of War. Get the only working Game of War Hack Tool that generates unlimited Gold and lot more!

Now the second trick that you should know when playing the game is how to stop the annoying tutorial pop ups. I know you have been bothered by this, so let us fix it. All you need to do is minimize your game and go to your desktop. After which, you need to go to Origin and right click on the Sims 4 and click on game properties. You need to add on the command line section this line “–no_tutorial”. Of course, if you are not yet familiar with the game, it would be better not to disable this feature.

The next tip is about rotating objects in two different modes. If you might have noticed already the mechanism for this feature in the Sims 4 full download crack is totally different from all other previous Sims game. The first way is to hold the item and then tap the right most one to rotate. Or you can simply switch back to the old control system provided in the options menu. It is up to you which technique will suit you better.

Another trick that comes in handy playing this game is to play a custom playlist of music while gaming. What you need to do is to go to the game directory and locate the “Custom Music” folder and put on you favorite music according to its genre. This will then be played in the different radio station that you can hear while playing.

The last tip and I guess the most obvious one is to invest buying relatively expensive furniture because doing so will give an advantage as you deal with your Sims. Take for example a cheap bed will usually give your Sim a sour back, while an expensive one will help him recover faster. The same goes with the shower, the expensive shower lets your Sim get cleaner faster than those cheap ones.

I hope this tips and tricks will help you when you play with the Sims 4. Do not forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends who love playing the Sims 4 like you do.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Disney Infinity 2.0 falls short of superhero status

While the whole 'collectable figurine that doubles as in-game content' thing is blowing up right now, it's also a bit of a sign of the times, where technological advancement keeps infiltrating areas where it's not necessarily needed, and we can't help but feel that we're giving kids a bit of a rough deal. The idea is brilliant: imagine if your toys could come to life! We are literally living Toy Story. But the reality remains much drier than that, because a game can only ever provide one narrative across the board.

This is one of the problems that permeate the Disney Infinity games: they sell 'limitless creativity' before gating it off and smacking you back towards the same sort of linear storylines you could find in any other game. The other problem is that it doesn't even do the linear stuff that well.

What a shame to be playing this when we could be playing Lego Marvel, a game that may have had a fairly simplistic combat system (smash the things, smash all the things) but got the mechanics so right. Flying was a joy, unlocking and switching characters was great fun, and the vehicles, though unrealistic to drive, never felt unwieldy. It's like Disney Infinity peeked over at Tt Games' perfect, straightmargined handwriting, and hastily scribbled it all out in felt tip on the back of a napkin.

The basic premise is the same - play as one of a number of Marvel characters, fight against evil, report to Nick Fury and complete his laundry list of missions - but the elements just don't quite feel right. Combat appears to be fairly open, but you're reduced to punching things a lot until you unlock special attacks and higher damage through the skill tree.

The vehicles handle like cruise ships and bounce off walls like a rugby ball. Missions lead you by the nose through a series of hoops, without giving you much incentive to explore or enjoy the game in any way other than the prescribed punching-your-way-to-victory.

It feels almost as if each individual element was created by a different person and given to yet another different person to turn into a game. The scale is very odd, both making the heroes look ridiculously tiny and giving the world a vast and empty atmosphere, a realm of wasted space underpopulated by both NPCs and set pieces.
"What a shame to be playing this when we could be playing Lego Marvel, a game that may have had a fairly simplistic combat system but got the mechanics so right"
Dialogue falls well shy of the natural wit of Marvel films and often gets spoken over other lines as the narrator and the player character jostle each other for the right to talk at you.

The issue is that Disney Infinity 2.0 is trying too hard to be everything it thinks it should be. Disney are the masters of brevity on the big screen, but in games it seems like they're constantly trying to catch up when they should be forging their own path. By stuffing so much into their game - Toy Box, Playsets, Game Discs, customisable houses and an RPG-style character system - they just manage not to get anything quite right; nothing has a sufficiently satisfying level of depth and the player is left feeling a little lost as to where to sink the most time.

There are moments of brilliance that deserve to have been more of a focus: the travel mechanics are impressive, with one of the best representations of Spider-Man's web slinging we've seen, with wind rushing around you and a gratifying slow peak at the end of each swing.

There's a huge amount of additional content, including franchises as niche as current cult cartoon Gravity Falls and quirky kids' show Phineas and Ferb, and Game Discs offering new mounts and weapons like the Infinity Gauntlet (which is frankly too much power for one person to wield... so hopefully it'll be priced a bit higher or something), and like Lego Marvel there are hundreds of collectibles in each level. In that sense, it's great value for money. To be able to load free Gold to your account with this 100% successful hack, try this Marvel Contest of Champions Hack right now. To use this hack tool there aren't any requirements.

The style is gorgeous too, with character redesigns that chunk everyone up and re-proportion them into stylish, collectible figurines. But even with all those lovely bits, at its heart, Disney Infinity 2.0 is just an incredibly fiddly way to approximate an experience that can still be better achieved with the kind of toys we've been playing with for years.

It's understandable why Disney feels the need to branch into the clearly lucrative world of figurine-enhanced play, and reinventing an age-old method of entertainment is the kind of thing that sits right in its wheelhouse. But it just doesn't gel together quite right, trying far too hard to impress you when simplicity would work so much better.

D4 is a twisted Xbox One adventure that really is 'better with Kinect

Comprising a prologue and two episodes, the first part of D4 Season One centres on the disappearance of a drug courier aboard a flight hit by lightning. Investigating this is ex-narcotics officer David Young, who has the ability to 'dive' into the past to solve crimes using pieces of evidence from the scene - in this case a federal marshal's badge. Tormented by visions of his murdered wife, Young is equally determined to find out the truth behind her enigmatic final words, imploring him to "look for D".

What follows is a pseudo-point-and-click adventure sporadically punctuated by quick-time event interludes, akin to Telltale's The Wolf Among Us and the works of Quantic Dream. Though it can be played with a pad, the interface has been designed around Kinect, and while the controller implementation is perfectly fine, it's one game that is undoubtedly better with the much-maligned camera peripheral plugged in. Do you Want Limitless Gold, Mana and Gems? You are at right place to get unlimited resources via our Castle Clash Hack online tool. Beat your friends easily! Hack Castle Clash without downloading anything.

Happily, you can play it sitting down. To move around a scene, you'll swipe the edges of the screen to turn, and move your hand to guide a cursor to objects of interest, closing your fist to interact with them. Talking to suspects (unfortunately for Young, most of their names begin with 'D') and other characters, like Young's eccentric neighbour who thinks she's a cat and his bearish partner Forrest Kaysen, is handled either by choosing between two or three onscreen dialogue options or by voicing your selection.

While your choices don't change the narrative, you're rewarded with extra credits for responses that fit with Young's character. You'll leaf through evidence and open suitcases and cupboards with swipes in the appropriate direction, and use simple gestures to match Young's intended actions. It's clear Swery wants you to feel like an actor playing a role, though more often you feel like a puppeteer or mime artist.

Elsewhere, motion controls are used more inventively - find a trophy in Young's bedroom, for example, and reach upwards as if holding it aloft, and you'll be taken to the Leaderboards menu. We've all struggled with Kinect before, but the implementation here is superb: gesture recognition is forgiving enough that you'll rarely experience the frustration of your actions being wrongly interpreted.

What's more, it makes QTEs fun again. Sporadic action sequences punctuate your investigation, in which you'll swipe with either or both hands to deflect incoming projectiles or to dodge punches and kicks from assailants. They're expertly choreographed, capturing some of the slapstick pleasure of a Jackie Chan fight scene, with a similar sense of humour.

One brawl features an impromptu dance with a flight attendant, and concludes by inviting you to wield a mannequin's leg like a baseball bat, a successful strike dislodging the glass eye of your opponent. Each dive, meanwhile, is prompted by a melodramatic eye-shielding gesture, as if you've just emerged from a darkened room into direct sunlight.
"We've all struggled with Kinect before, but the implementation here is superb."
At first, you'll worry that the strangeness seems a little calculated - is Swery self-consciously trying to replicate what came so organically in Deadly Premonition? But then the sequences where the game tries to dial back the weird stuff still have an unforced air of 'otherness' about them. Swery, it seems, is just naturally odd - it's there in the choice of musical cues, the lengthy discussions about clam chowder, the frequent non sequiturs. Oh, and not forgetting the cutlery-scraping giant with the surgeon's mask who speaks with the patronising deliberateness of an Englishman placing an order in a foreign deli.

It's a much more technically proficient game than Deadly Premonition - the cel-shaded art won't win any awards, but it's quite stylish, and the controls and interface are perfectly serviceable - but otherwise they have a lot in common. Again, you're asked to keep a close eye on your protagonist's wellbeing: every action costs a certain amount of stamina, and if you run out it's game over. So half the time you spend investigating involves searching for foodstuffs, which can be found anywhere from a microwave to an overhead locker.

You'll also need to top up David's Vision meter - a limited detective mode variant triggered by lifting both hands to your temples - which highlights objects in the vicinity that you can interact with, as well as pointing you towards key pieces of evidence. Evidently, a slug of tequila affords you a surprising amount of clarity.
There's a similar attention to apparently mundane detail: anything you eat is detailed down to its calorific value, while your scrapbook soon fills up with articles on rotoscoping and ice hockey.

These elements serve to ground Swery's flights of fancy, as well as giving it a unique character. Its cast is again populated by oddballs and misfits, none more unhinged than Young himself. He might not be as instantly charismatic as Francis York Morgan, but he's every bit as flawed: drunk, reckless and quite possibly delusional. In other words, he's recognisably human, and a bracing alternative to the blandly heroic leads we're often saddled with.

True, the dialogue sometimes doesn't sound as if it's been localised so much as passed through Babelfish a couple of times, while the tonal shifts can be alarmingly abrupt, as a knockabout comedy interlude segues into sentimental character drama or dreamlike fantasy. Yet the qualities of D4's storytelling shouldn't be overlooked. Within the framework of a crime procedural it touches upon the nature of obsession, the heartache of lost love, the seductive ideal of changing the past, and even the fickleness of fashion. If it isn't always consistent, it's certainly never boring, and often gives you something to think about.

And if you're not thinking, you're doing: catching a teacup on your finger, pumping your arms to sprint away from danger, and shouting 'avant garde!' at a fellow passenger. It's proof that Deadly Premonition wasn't a one-off; however many people worked on D4, this feels like the work of an auteur. The games industry has a distinctive new voice, and whether Swery's shtick clicks with you or leaves you colder than a frozen duck (you'll see) that can only be a good thing.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hohokum is bewitching yet bewildering

The game puts you in control of a snake-like creature called the Long Mover. Its controls are basic: move with the stick, speed up with X, slow down with O. There's also an odd wiggle move with the shoulder buttons that can give a speed boost, but it's fairly unnecessary.

At its core, Hohokum has a clear goal - free your similarly long-tailed chums, one of which is hiding in each of the game's stages. This goal is never explicitly explained to the player, however. That's because it's intended more to be a game about exploration, about studying your surroundings and figuring out what you're supposed to do in order to proceed.

Certainly, it does what it can to make this as pleasant a task as possible. Hohokum is a beautiful game, with adorable worlds and characters created by artist Richard Hogg (who also worked on Honeyslug's previous game, the WarioWare-inspired Frobisher Says on Vita).

Everything looks immaculately clean, the character designs are endearing, and it sounds as wonderful as it looks. The beautifully relaxing musical score comes courtesy of American indie label Ghostly Interactive, and joins the likes of Thomas Was Alone, Journey, Braid and The Last Of Us among the list of understated game soundtracks filling up my iTunes.

Hohokum's whimsical stages are liberally sprinkled with gorgeous little flourishes, from its interactive environments to the numerous little residents of each stage who react to you in different ways.

Reach the 'farm' stage (the levels aren't explicitly named) and you'll find row after row of little creatures tending to the land. You can fly over the trees to make fruit appear on them, but flying past the farm's tiny residents will scare some into hiding away inside a lawnmower compartment (yes).

Go to the cave stage and you'll be able to explore its near darkness by allowing a little man with a lantern to sit atop you as you plough through treasure.

Perhaps the most memorable example however, and the one that best shows off Hohokum's charm, is the funfair stage. Here you're surrounded by little characters of all shapes and sizes, who take great pleasure in leaping onto your tail as you ferry them around to various locations.

This stage is also the most obvious example of the actual game tucked away underneath Hohokum's stylised worlds, and therefore the area where it becomes clear that despite its aesthetic beauty its gameplay feels too basic.

It's clear that Hohokum is about style first and foremost, but once that style's initial welcome eventually wears off you're left looking for substance, and it's here where Hohokum's shortcomings come to the fore.
As a game, it's left wanting. A lack of signposting makes for trial-and-error experiments which can be frustrating, and the confusing stage layout means you'll get lost unless you can memorise increasingly labyrinthian world maps.

Once you do figure out what's going on, the game's puzzles are disappointingly basic. The aforementioned funfair stage, for example, reveals itself to be little more than a number of fetch quests - grab this guy who's thinking about pineapples and drop him at the pineapple statue, nab that electricity and use it to light up the fairy lights at the top of the stage, and so on.

Because of this, Hohokum quickly becomes ho-hum, its initial breathtaking introduction to its stylized worlds losing its impact as you pass by for the umpteenth time, exasperated as you aimlessly wriggle around trying to figure out where you have to go and what you have to do next. We are here for the best Msp Hack Tool Online method and that is the MovieStarPlanet Hack Tool. Using MovieStarPlanet cheats takes time and effort only to get limited number of resources. With Msp Hack Tool we are talking unlimited resources like Diamonds, Star Coins, Fame and VIP.

In its defense, it does its best to ensure you explore the game world with the addition of hidden eyes, which are located around each stage and have to be collected by flying past them and making them open up.
These eyes are the most obvious game-like component - a tally of how many you've collected on the pause screen marks the only traditional indicator of progress in the game - but they also serve as a way of encouraging the player to explore each area, in the hope that as they do they'll also encounter new interactions.

But this is only a nudge in the right direction, leaving us with a game that frustrates as often as it fascinates and nullifies many of the positive vibes it initially sends out.

Hohokum is love at first sight - it will have you captivated for its opening hours. And if you believe charm is more important than challenge, you'll be enthralled throughout.

As game, however, it underperforms. The lack of signposting only becomes more wearisome as the game progresses and the number of 'missions' left to find decreases. When you find yourself traipsing through each area for the umpteenth time trying to figure out what's left to do, the appeal wanes.

Priced at £9.99 / $14.99, Hohokum is ever so slightly on the expensive side for what it offers. However, there's no denying its beauty and therefore you should still give it a go if you're happy to explore its beautiful, abstract worlds under the full understanding that underneath them lies somewhat underwhelming gameplay.

Ultra Street Fighter IV rewrites the formula

Executed by pressing the medium punch, medium kick and light punch button at the same time, Red Focus functions and serves a similar purpose as the standard Focus attack. However, instead of nullifying a single hit, it's capable of absorbing multiple at the cost of two EX energy bars. But there are certain subtleties to the mechanic that must be mastered for it to be used effectively.

Although Red Focus can eat the game's most devastating attacks and lengthy combos, it can only do so up until its attack frames begin. This means that a player will need to have familiarity with their character's Focus attack animations and time a Red Focus properly to get the most out of it. Having a good grasp of the enemy's moveset will help whoever is on the other end in exploiting its vulnerabilities.

From an offensive standpoint, Red Focus is particularly useful if it is hit immediately after landing another move, since it results in an instant crumple, rather than a stagger like a normal Focus. Again, the benefits of this are balanced out by damage scaling, so using it in large combo strings results in diminishing returns on damage. It's great for resetting opponents to put them in a position to mixup, or for getting that little bit of extra damage needed for the kill.

Where previously players were forced to pick between two Ultra Combos to take into battle, the new Ultra Combo Double option lets them have both. Since each character's Ultra usually has a particular situation or setup it's suited for, having both makes everyone just a little more versatile.

However, the trade-off is that the Ultras will do a lot less damage if both are brought into the fight. At high levels, the decision on whether to take one or both will be strategically assessed on the different threats the opposing character presents. Sometimes power may be a better option over flexibility.

The final new mechanical addition is simple, but arguably has the most significant implications. As its name suggests, Delayed Wakeup lets a player extend how long their character stays on the ground after hard knock-downs. In effect, this new wakeup option could completely disrupt rhythm and derail strategies.

For characters such as Gouki, who uses well-timed moves that hit high and low, as well as crossover attacks, to create an almost unstoppable vortex, the Delayed Wakeup throws such play styles into disarray. Others will need to rethink how they pressure enemies, and reassess how they get into their opponent's head. To an extent, every player will need to re-learn and adjust their play style to accommodated Delayed Wakeup strategies.

Together, these three new mechanics rewrite the rules that players have spent years abiding by. The knock-on effect they have on various other aspects of the meta-game is huge, especially the viability of different members of roster at high levels, as well as the overall tier rankings of each fighter and their combo potential. It's enough to force the savants to earn their titles as the best players in the world all over again.

In addition to the new mechanics, numerous characters in Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition v2012's roster have been tweaked in a bid to establish a better balance and fairer competitive experience. The esoteric details of these are far too technical to explore in a review - frame data isn't awesome reading material fun - but their collective impact will require players to spend significant time in training mode figuring out what it means for their characters.

The success of these amendments overall can't be quantified yet. It'll takes months of experimentation and high-level play from the entire community before the ramifications can truly be understood. Regardless of whether the final conclusion is negative or positive, that journey makes Street Fighter 4 exciting again.

Ultra Street Fighter IV's other marquee new additions are the five new characters; Hugo, Poison, Rolento, Elena and Decapre. Each is a new chess piece on the board with unique strengths and weaknesses of their own, and the potential to become trouble for other members of the cast. Like everything else in the game, they need to be explored, studied and experimented with, but on a basic level each is fun to play with.

Hugo is a mountain of a man, towering to the very top of the screen. Like his previous incarnations, the wrestler is a slow, plodding character that makes up for his lack of speed with devastating power. He's most deadly when he's up close in grabbing range, but the quicker characters can get away from him and take potshots, but slip and he will piledrive bones into dust.

Rolento is a tricky character that has good manoeuvrability, capable of moving large distance to quickly jump on other characters when guards are down. With the aid of his stick, he's able to break focus attacks, establish a good poke game, and do damage with his Patriot Circles, which can be chained three times much like Fei Long's Rekkaken.

Capoeira fighter Elena's strengths lie in her strong kick-based moves, her exceptionally high jump and her very fast walk speed, which allows her move around the screen quicker than most other characters. Her relatively quick recovery from back dashes also add to her strong mobility, while her awkward kick animations can fluster anyone not familiar with the wildly flailing legs of a capoeira practitioner.

Poison is the most well-rounded of the new faces, with a strong mid-range game and good damage and mix-up potential up-close and a decent range of pokes and projectiles at long range to control space. Like Rolento, she also has a three hit Rekkaken-like move using her whip, the final part of which can be EX cancelled. (Pro tip: use the ongoing mystery about her real gender to your advantage by telling your opponent "she's a dude" to get the psychological high ground.)

The final new combatant, Decapre, is a character from the expanded Street Fighter universe that makes her playable debut in Ultra. Fans will no doubt be displeased with her, given the fact she was heavily hyped as a brand new character and is essentially a re-skinned Cammy. Although her move-set is also derivative of other characters such as Cammy, Oni and Vega, she's got more than divekick pressure and an English accent to offer.

Firstly, she's Russian, but only during every other voice sample it seems. But Decapre has a completely new and exciting style of play thanks to a varied tool-set. Underpinning her offence is a mixture of lateral and diagonal teleport dashes, which can be modified with sliding attacks and dive-kicks of different strengths, speeds and arcs. Her psycho-power imbued blades give her normal attacks good coverage and strength, and can also be used to launch characters into the air. She's also the only character that can combo into air throw; all-round an excellent addition, despite her uninspired visual design.

The cynical will no doubt point out that, with the exception of Decapre, the new characters are all plucked straight out of Street Fighter X Tekken for Ultra, as are the four new stages (Pitstop 109, Mad Gear Hideout, Cosmic Elevator, Blast Furnace, Half Pipe, and Jurassic Era Research Facility). However, the characters slot well into the complete roster and are satisfying to play. Understandably, they all feel a little more technically complex - owing in large part due to the more combo-heavy style of Street Fighter X Tekken - so playing them well will require a degree of finger-ballet, but this just makes them more rewarding to master.

The new stages, meanwhile, are bursting with personality and colour, though their more fantastical, over-the-top settings and design can feel at odds with the rest of the game. Duking it out in a cosmic space elevator isn't technically street fighting.

Completing the Ultra Street Fighter IV package is a number of new modes and options. Team Battle lets players join forces and engage in 3v3 elimination contests, with the health bar carrying over one match to the next. Training mode has been fitted with online support, fight request, and other smaller improvements such as save states to make training for certain situations easier. Players will now also be able to upload replays of their fights to YouTube directly from the game.

Finally, Edition Select is an interesting new option that gives players access to every version of each character that has appeared in the Street Fighter IV series thus far, letting players pick the version they most felt comfortable playing, and settling it's-because-they-nerfed-my-character arguments. Although it's unlikely to become popular in the competitive circle, Edition Select makes playing casually even more fun by throwing balance out of the window completely. Finally, we'll be able to find out which version of Sagat is most overpowered (sorry. Not sorry).

Unfortunately, Capcom did pull a few punches for the update. The new characters - including those introduced in Arcade Edition - still don't have cinematics for their rival battles, and at the time of writing the promised Trials for all the new characters have not been implemented and won't be included when the digital upgrade is released. According to Capcom they will be added at a later date.

For casual players or newcomers, Ultra Street Fighter IV is the same thrilling, deep, and accessible fighting game it always has been. And with the retail release featuring all previously released costume DLC content, it's a game that every Xbox 360, PS3 or PC owner should have in their collection.

Friday, November 13, 2015

10 essential tips for becoming a survivor - Tomb Raider guide


The greatest tool at your disposal is your Survival Instincts, which reveal points of interest by scanning the environment, and as this power is unlimited you should use it regularly to check out your surroundings. If you're moving or in water the effect only lasts around a second, but if you activate it while standing still it will continue until you move on, allowing you to use the right stick to look around and take in the full scene.

Survival Instincts reveal animals (yellow) and enemies (red) with a glowing hue, which is useful for identifying targets from a distance and planning your next move accordingly. After hunting or combat it will also highlight animal corpses that have not been skinned and bodies that haven't been searched, so use it to ensure you've collected all the spoils of your efforts before leaving the current area.

This power indicates areas of the environment you can interact with once you have the appropriate gear, such as scalable walls once you get the climbing tool, so you can plan your route up to higher locations. It can also be used in dark tunnels and caves to reveal the path ahead, preventing any nasty surprises from creeping up on you.


Lara has a total of 24 skills that can be unlocked by earning XP, covering Hunting, Brawling and plain old Surviving, and although they all have their individual benefits you can significantly speed up your progress by selecting the right ones to master first.

Your first upgrade should be Survivalist, which gives you additional XP when searching animal corpses and food caches, followed by Advanced Salvaging and Bone Collector, which award you an increased amount of salvage from animals and crates. This will increase the speed you gain XP and salvage for the rest of your playthrough, giving you faster access to further skills and upgrades for your gear.

To get the maximum benefit from skill upgrades you should unlock each one as soon as you collect enough XP, by heading straight to the nearest day or base camp when the "+1 Skill Point" notification appears on screen.


When enemies are nearby Lara will crouch into her combat-ready stance, and in this mode you will automatically take cover behind objects by simply moving near them. Aiming will pop you out so you can target your foes, then after taking your shots release aim to retreat to cover again. When moving between cover objects, tapping B/Circle to duck or pressing it twice to roll will minimise the damage you take.

When targeting enemies always aim for headshots, as these will take down most regular adversaries in a single hit. Later in the game you face armoured enemies who will soak up arrows or bullets, again go for headshots on these to shoot off their helmets before following up for the kill. In some locations you'll have a searchlight shining in your face which severely restricts your visibility of the area ahead, however you can shoot out the bulbs so you should make that your first priority.

If your opponent gets in close then dodging a melee blow while aiming allows you auto-target them, making a follow up attack simple to achieve. When combat becomes more regular you should invest some skill points in Brawler upgrades for dodge counters and kills, as these are quick and efficient ways of dealing with enemies.

Once everyone has been eliminated Lara will exit her combat-ready stance and stand up straight again, indicating that the threat has passed and you can now safely explore the area.


Although Lara is well equipped to deal with combat situations, it's quicker and much more effective to use stealth wherever possible. If you can approach an enemy without being detected, then get in behind them and follow the button prompt for a silent takedown.

If you can't get close enough for a takedown, the bow and arrow is perfect for silently taking down enemies from a distance. Hold down the trigger to build power then release for a deadly headshot, but if your target suddenly moves you can release the aim button to cancel the shot without losing an arrow.

To avoid suspicion you should pick off any foes stood on their own first, though make sure they're not in view of anyone else before proceeding. When using a stealthy approach you get a couple of seconds grace before enemies react, so if two are close together you should have enough time to take one of them out then quickly eliminate the second with a follow up shot before they can raise the alarm.


Throughout the game there are plenty of documents, relics and GPS caches to be collected, and your progress towards finding them all can be tracked at any time from the map screen. The best way to locate them is to invest in the Orienteering skill, which reveals collectibles through obstacles while using Survival Instincts. This also adds them to your map once spotted, so scan each area carefully to build up a complete record.

Collectible icons on the map are marked with a '?' until they are picked up, at which point they become a solid black icon. Those marked with a padlock are in areas you cannot presently reach, so ignore them and come back later. To easily identify the location of a collectible, mark it on your map by moving the cursor over the icon and choosing 'Toggle Local Waypoint', then exit and activate Survival Instincts to reveal a blue marker that will guide you to it.

The other way to track down collectibles is by finding treasure maps, some of which are the reward for completing Optional Tombs and the rest are found as collectibles themselves in other areas. Treasure maps can be found in the following locations:
  • Coastal Forest (Complete map) - On a platform up a tree northeast of the Forest Ruins base camp
  • Mountain Temple (Complete map) - Under a waterfall just west of the Mountain Temple base camp
  • Mountain Village (Relic map) - Tomb of the Unworthy reward
  • Mountain Village (GPS map) - Tomb of Ascension reward
  • Mountain Base/Base Exterior (Complete map) - Down the zip line directly above the Radio Tower base camp
  • Shanty Town (Relic map) - Well of Tears reward
  • Shanty Town (GPS map) - Hall of Judgment reward
  • Geothermal Caverns (Complete map) - On a raised platform just north of the Catacombs base camp
  • Summit Forest (Relic map) - Stormguard Sanctum reward
  • Shipwreck Beach (Relic map) - The Flooded Vault reward
  • Shipwreck Beach (GPS map) - Temple of the Handmaidens reward
  • Cliffside Bunker (Complete map) - Next to a sealed bunker entrance on your right after exiting the main bunker
  • Research Base (Complete map) - In the corridor after beating the lift puzzle
  • Chasm Shrine (Complete map) - On a raised platform above the winch puzzle
Be aware that some collectibles are found in the Cliffside Bunker area on the southern tip of the island which doesn't have a fast travel base camp, and once you've completed the game it can only be accessed via Shipwreck Beach.


Once you find relic collectibles, you can rotate and examine them from the discovery screen that pops up at the time or by using the relic menu afterwards. Although this is merely a cosmetic effect for some of the items, others can yield hidden secrets or amusing asides after giving them a closer inspection.

Relics that can be examined are marked with a magnifying glass, and while you rotate the item the pad will vibrate stronger as you get closer to the point of interest. Home in on the right area and you'll receive an XP bonus along with some additional information about the piece, some of which turn out to be not quite what they seemed!


There are plenty of risks involved as you make your way through each area, so being prepared can save you from a slip and an untimely falling death. Lara can make some pretty large jumps, but always be ready to hit X/Square if the prompt appears when landing to save yourself. You also have a degree of movement while in the air, which you can use to steer Lara towards a safe landing spot or ledge.

Falling from a large height into water will often still kill you, as most of the rivers and pools found in the game are only shallow and won't break your fall. However, you can safely drop distances that would normally be unsurvivable if you land on a zip line, which can significantly speed up your descent from a high location if the opportunity presents itself.


As you progress through the game you unlock additional equipment that allows you to access new areas, starting with the climbing tool and progressing to rope arrows, explosives and more. However, there will be points in the story where you arrive in an area before you have the proper tools to fully explore it.

Using the fast travel base camps you can return to previous locations at any point, so bear this in mind if you're struggling to get to a certain area and can't see a way to reach it. You might not have the correct equipment to get there yet, so instead of getting frustrated you should move on with the story and come back later when you have more gadgets at your disposal.


To upgrade your weapons you need salvage, which is found by breaking open crates or searching animal corpses and enemy bodies. This can then be spent at base or day camps to improve your gear. Upgrade your bow first as this can be used for both head-on combat and stealth, then focus on augmenting the rifle once unlocked to give yourself some serious firepower for later fights.

To improve each weapon beyond a certain point, you need to find the relevant parts to unlock the next set of upgrades for it. These parts are found at random in crates and on enemy bodies, so make sure you check as many of these as possible along the way. There are many salvage crates hanging in nets that must be burned in order to release them, which are much easier to collect once you unlock the fire arrows.


There are a number of achievements/trophies for completing various hunting and combat challenges, such as killing and skinning 10 large animals and rope pulling 5 enemies off ledges. Although it's much easier to take care of these during your main playthrough, it is still possible to complete them once you've finished the story.

The best location to find any animals you're missing is Summit Forest, as all three types (large, small and flying) can be found and hunted in that one area. Enemies continue to spawn in Mountain Village, Shantytown and Shipwreck Beach, so travel to those parts of the map to take care of any outstanding combat trials.


There are seven optional tombs found during the game, and although these can be skipped they provide a healthy XP boost for completion along with a map revealing the collectibles for that area. If you find yourself stuck on any of them, here are the solutions for reaching the treasure...

Mountain Village - Tomb of the Unworthy: Jump on the centre cage then quickly jump off to the far side and light your torch, before jumping back on the centre cage and burning the three wraps hanging down. Climb up to the original platform and push the larger cage off the side, then jump up to the centre cage from underneath and use it to reach the climbable wall on your left.

Mountain Village - Tomb of Ascension: Use the mechanism to close the window, and then wait a few seconds before activating the mechanism to raise the central platform. Quickly climb onto the platform before the window reopens, then leap onto the far wall when you're blown up to it and wall jump up to the beam above. Traverse left then jump onto the raised balcony.

Shanty Town - Well of Tears: Pick up the canisters and throw them up into the cage, three of them is enough to drop the cage to the floor. Head down to the cage and throw the canisters out, then run back to the upper level and leap onto the rising cage before quickly jumping left to the high platform.

Shanty Town - Hall of Judgment: Jump up to the shelf on the left of the statue with candles to pull it down, then use your rope arrow on the pendulum to break the shelf on the right hand side. Place the three canisters on the base of the ramp to weigh it down, then run and jump to the climbable wall above the furnace.

Summit Forest - Stormguard Sanctum: Shoot the explosive pile on the first level with a fire arrow to remove it, then use another fire arrow to dissipate the gas before quickly climbing up to level two. Look to the far side of the jump and shoot the next explosive pile to clear the path ahead, then leap across to the climbable wall and head up.

Shipwreck Beach - The Flooded Vault: Hit the switch upstairs to activate the power, then the one downstairs to open the door. Burn the tether off the raft, then move round to the broken wall and use rope arrows to pull the raft towards you. Use the raft to get around the corner to your right then pull down the girder above you to lift the broken light out of the water, allowing you to cross to the far side. Pull the raft towards you here, then use the girder to raise the light out of the water and quickly pull the raft underneath it, allowing you to walk through the water to the stairs on the far side.

Shipwreck Beach - Temple of the Handmaidens: Turn the mechanism to raise the cage and release the buoy, then quickly climb the platform on your left and swing on the pole as the buoy pushes it around in front of you. Then use a rope arrow to pull the next pillar around, and again swing on the pole as the buoy pushes it around to reach the climbable wall.

The Legend Of Korra is a blotch on Platinum's reputation

When it tries to make the leap to the big screen, M Night Shyamalan farts out an experience so bad that it gets nominated for nine Golden Raspberry Awards, an accolade reserved for the absolute worst movies.
In the video game world the first Avatar game is remembered for being the quickest and easiest way to boost Gamerscore, offering up a cool 1000 points for just two minutes of franticly mashing on the attack button.
Why can't anyone get it right? We just want others to see the brilliance in it; the gripping powder keg political landscape where some nations battle against extinction, while others scheme for domination; the profound exploration of the struggle to find your identity and your place in the world; the awe-inspiring martial arts choreography and the stunning animation. Get Unlimited FREE Gold, ISO-8 and other resources with Marvel Champions Hack tool. Trusted and Proven 100% Working For Android and iOS Device.

Imagine, then, the hope fans were given when it was announced that a game based on The Legend of Korra was to be developed by Platinum Games, masters of the third-person action genre and a studio with a near impeccable track record. As far as dream pairings go, it doesn't get better than matching Avatar with the team behind Bayonetta, Vanquish and Metal Gear Rising. It could not be in safer hands.

The expectation that Platinum would do it justice makes the sting of disappointment all the more pronounced. Unfortunately, The Legend of Korra is exactly what you've come to expect from a tie-in game: a short, poorly designed, frustrating experience that squanders the potential of its source material.
It's a game that feels like it was developed under strict time constraints, and we imagine this was the case given that the TV series is in its final season and the window to capitalise on its popularity closing. The game's core mechanics are functional but either underdeveloped or unrefined.

Like in the series, players are able to channel the elements through Korra's body, whipping streams of water across the screen, summoning pillars of earth from the ground, kicking up whirlwind gusts and erupting flames from her fists.

Once all four elements are unlocked, players can cycle through them during battle, but the transition between them never feels rewarding and, likewise, their physical impact on enemies is never satisfying.
Although enemies usually have one specific elemental alignment, the game doesn't capitalise on this by encouraging the use of Korra's multiple styles to exploit weaknesses. There's no real advantage to employing fire against water or air against earth. In fact, sticking to water and using long range attacks is the most effective way of playing the game since it controls crowds, interrupts enemies with trapping attacks and also deals decent damage.

The game also features a counter mechanic where enemies flash red briefly before they attack. Pressing the counter button leads into a short quick-time event where the player must push the analogue sticks in a certain direction or mash buttons to do a special attack.

The problem here is that a successful counter usually launches the enemy out of the arena, or sweeps up a group of enemies and kills them. As a result, there's not much point in putting in the time and effort to slowly chip away at health when instead you can wait for the right moment and deliver a one-hit kill.

Additionally, the window of time given to hit the counter button is very brief, which can be a problem when dealing with enemies launching attacks from outside the area where the camera is focused.

Structurally, The Legend of Korra is very similar to Bayonetta, with players running in between combat arenas while doing some light platforming. In Bayonetta, these luls are a welcome change of pace after the intensity of its combat and players wander through environments that are rich in colour and interesting in design.

In Korra however, every area is painfully bland and simple, to the point where some look unfinished. Given that the world laid out in The Legend of Korra's animated series includes a dense futuristic steampunk city and a lush, trippy spirit world - to name just two - this is baffling. There's so much material that has just been wasted. For updated daily visit the website http://marvelchampionshack.com to Get Unlimited Gold, ISO-8 and other resources FOR FREE. 100% Working For Android and iOS Device.

During these platforming segments, enemies will occasionally spring up to impede Korra's progress, but the player can choose to ignore them completely and carry on pushing ahead to the next proper combat arena without taking any damage.

Another pillar of its gameplay is sections where players ride Naga, Korra's pet polar bear dog. These play just like the numerous Temple Run inspired games running rampant on iOS and Android. Again, functional but hardly fun or unique.

Controlling Naga feels like what we'd imagine riding an actual giant polar bear running on ice would be like, you never feel quite in control. Every now and then structures will obfuscate upcoming obstacles and Korra will get a face full of wall or tree and have to start over.

Players can buy items and techniques from Uncle Iroh, a wise old sage character from the series that is loved for his warm wit and charm, reduced in the game to a disembodied voice muttering the same tired few lines over and over. Buying items from him costs currency earned through beating enemies, finding treasure and destroying the odd box. However, potions used and money spent do not carry over if Korra dies, which makes an already difficult game even more frustrating.

The game is filled with annoying enemies that constantly run away from you, massive mobs put together purely to overwhelm the player instead of to challenge proficiency with the game's combat mechanics, mech bosses that have too much health and deal too much damage and numerous instant fail state scenarios. From top to bottom, there's very little to like about The Legend of Korra.

For fans, the worst of it will be how little regard is given for what makes the series special. The majority of the supporting cast from the series don't make an appearance, and the characters that do are sans their personality. Korra spends most of the game spouting inane smack talk during combat or shouting out what she needs to do. There's a story chaining together the eight chapters, but it's so vague and uninteresting that you'll forget it as it's happening.

The one thing The Legend of Korra does have going for it is that most of the attack animations are well done and look cool(ish). That's about it.

The world of Avatar is so rich and interesting, which makes the thought that somewhere out there someone may try this game as an entry point into the series actually distressing. If you're reading this we just want you to know that this game does not represent what Avatar is, watch the first series of The Last Airbender, for the love of Aang. And to the rest of you: do not buy or play this.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Assassin's Creed Unity parades the series' most profound playground

It's a series about dangerous men caught in the ebbs of history, meeting famous figures and recontextualising their place in our collective memory. It seems important, then, that Unity, while continuing that proud, silly tradition, makes its most important actor the city of Paris itself.

To look at it simply, Ubisoft's first definitively new-gen stab at its biggest series is essentially in the Assassin's Creed II mould. While it might not share the Italian setting or increasingly wizened main character as the saga of Ezio, what it does retain is a single, massive urban environment, peppered with instanced missions, a main character who treads an uneasy line between rakish fop or terrifying sociopath, and the gentle air of a game that does what it wants to do (ie offer you numerous ways to kill people while on the sneak) and very little else.

Climbing's been improved a tad, with the ability to direct yourself up and down as well as simply forward, and combat is a little heftier and more difficult, but the format is intensely familiar. The story centres around Arno Victor Dorian, a posh, quip-spouting boy - if Black Flag's Edward Kenway was a volatile Heath Ledger, here we have a smirking Jake Gyllenhaal - who after the death of not one, but two father figures, becomes a far more serious (boring?) man with a penchant for really gaudy coats.

After what plays out like an 18th century John Hughes film set in Versailles and a quick escape from the Bastille as the French Revolution begins, you're thrust into an increasingly convoluted conspiracy story, where Templars and Assassins swap allegiances seemingly at random, never quite deciding if they want to help the Revolution along or stop it, or if they actually like one another this time.

Two different factions of guards on the street are meant to display the different sides, but even they seem to be confused for one another halfway through - maybe everyone swapped uniforms? The intention is to muddy the waters of good and bad a little, but it comes across as a mess - if you're not meant to trust characters it should be because they're well-written, not because they act like mad idiots with the keys to every world government.

That's accompanied by yet another take on AC's perennial modern day sections. It seems even Ubisoft has started to dislike them by now, streamlining so much that they're now almost entirely represented by overdubbed narration - the game posits that Abstergo's games division has now turned the Animus into a hackable games console, Helix, which you're playing.

To be fair, there are occasional cutscenes, a very neat opening device that Ubisoft say we're not allowed to talk about (although you'll see it literally 60 seconds after you start the game) and some brilliantly conceived, but maddeningly underused, sections in Rifts - glitchy jumps in time to other periods of Paris's history. We won't give details away here, but the fact that some put-upon designer slaved to make these beautiful slices of period geography that have been reduced to Time Trial race challenges should be some kind of crime.

But it's that commitment to world-making that saves the game from being simply a murder-obsessed mess. Unity's Paris is a maze-like wonder; an architectural marvel of churches, palaces, slum and shopping districts, public gardens and, above all, crowds. The attention to detail is there - Notre Dame cathedral apparently took 3,000 hours to model, proven by the fact that you'll feel pretty bad as you scamper across saintly statues' heads to get to the top.

Also, the power of new-gen tech means that we often climbed the city's tallest points to get a handle on where to go next (draw distance is, frankly, astounding from even the furthest removed points) or just to look out across the whole breadth of Paris at sunset, in a rainstorm, or as torches were lit for the night.

Indoors, too - and there's a lot of indoors, with invitingly open windows everywhere, and whole major buildings ready to explore - the game looks incredible, with exquisite, context sensitive lighting (we've never gasped in pleasure at being blinded by a sunbeam before) and a particular focus on the finery of pre-Revolution French aristocracy. You get the sense that Ubisoft simply couldn't have made this game before - at least not with an entirely separate proprietary engine made just to render fancy velvet upholstery.

But there's something more human about this place than Ubisoft's brick-and-mortar work has offered before. Primarily it's in those crowds: this is the busiest city we've yet seen in any game. Palace gates are picketed by hundreds of flag waving, heads-on-stick carrying Third Estate protestors, the Champs-lyses bustles and hums with bumbling shoppers, and impromptu street parties force you to slow your parkour march to the next objective just to watch a dance, before you accidentally interrupt the two young lovers canoodling en privy behind the stage.

They're not simple street furniture, either. Crowds are invaluable when you're being chased, if anything because the addition of firearms and realistically tall buildings mean simply hoisting yourself over a roof to get away from guards isn't always viable anymore. But they're also a total nuisance when you're the one chasing, often waddling into your path and slowing you down.

Fire your gun in a crowd and every person in it will react individually, spinning to look at you, bolting or drawing their own swords to join the fracas. They're limited in scope - anyone who isn't a guard is bafflinglyunable to sound the alarm upon seeing you slit someone's throat - but they lend the world a believability the series has never had before.

Playing itself is more than reminiscent of games past, however. Unity's biggest innovation is in turning the series' famously limited main missions into something a tad more open to interpretation. Drawing on Hitman, you're now placed in a single environment, told to kill a single target, and left to approach that how you please.

Secret entrances, unlockable doors and even unique extra objectives (such as releasing nearby prisoners to cause a distraction, or finding out your target will be heading to a confessional booth, where you can hand down your own brand of less-than-holy penance) lend these missions a better sense of what being a genius assassin should feel like - but they're never quite as satisfying as the games they draw on.

Every extra element is marked on the map - sometimes accompanied by giant beacons in the sky, just so you don't miss them - and those sub-objectives are as easy to unlock as they are unnecessary, like extra toppings rather than entirely separate dishes. They're the best story missions Assassin's Creed has seen, but there's still room for improvement.

Side-missions are less worthwhile - Paris Stories manage to squeeze in mini-histories of famous Parisians, but do so mainly in the form of clumsily narrated fetch quests. Nostradamus Enigmas set you tortuous riddles for little more reward than a useless outfit and a chance to sightsee.

Murder Mysteries should be the best of the lot, asking you to travel between crime scenes, detecting clues and interrogating witnesses, but are basically extended 'use Eagle Vision to win' sequences. There are boring, floating, hidden items stuck up trees to collect, of course - and the less said about the few ambient events Ubisoft chucked in to try and keep walking down the street exciting the better.

The much-vaunted co-op mode - which offers two- and four-player missions that occur separately to the storyline - should be the saviour here. It almost is. With a bumped up difficulty, and a little more license taken with how you're using your borderline superpowers (one mission has four of you competing to win a French army tournament to get close to a Templar general), it can be amazing fun - not least when you're saved by a friend jumping in unexpectedly to stab your enemies through the neck.

Sadly, any amount of lag kills the experience, and having one player who doesn't quite match up in skill level can make sections drag as they're repeatedly killed or get lost among the crowds. But then again, the Paris sprawl is more or less what this game is all about.

Ubisoft's true new-gen innovation has been to make a real place for one of their templated games to play out in. That game might be entirely (and occasionally dully) familiar, but the scenery is like little else we've encountered before. Ubisoft's been Forrest Gump-ing history for years in an attempt to get us to engage with it, but we've never felt more like we were a part of the old world than in just walking those streets.

LittleBigPlanet 3 is undoubtedly the best entry in the series

The most obvious changes are the three new characters: Toggle, OddSock and Swoop, each with a specific ability - size changing, speed, and flight, respectively. They're clearly there to give the whole package a facelift, but we're not completely sold. They work, but are definitely the 'not Media Molecule' bit.

However, what the new cast do, along with several other additions, is enable the creative side of the game for more (slightly) casual players. If you have a character pre-built for speed then it's easier to make races, for example. That idea carries through to gadgets and tools - things such as teleporters, ziplines and jet boots now possess far more 'straight out of the box' creative potential than ever before.

Where previous LBPs relied more on taking raw components - the pistons, motors, switches and sensors - and crafting tools from them, this provides a far wider range of pre-built options. If, when asked, you decline to activate Advance Create Mode then the simplified selection makes building less daunting. Many mechanisms can largely be used as is, encouraging a more 'drag and drop' feel to making stuff.

There's a more immediate range to the space you can build into now as well. The old three-layer system has been expanded to 16, creating more literal depth to the previously 2D construction. So, even without going near cameras, character tweaks or any more involved mechanics, you can make more interesting levels straight off the bat.

The sense of accessibility is also aided through some excellent tutorials. Where previous games rattled through quick video descriptions and left you to work out the rest, this uses a mix of puzzles and gameplay to practically apply the knowledge you'll need. You'll be tweaking settings and properties to bridge gaps or reach prizes, and learning far more effectively through doing than watching.

If you've never created before, or always been a little daunted by the prospect, this is probably the easiest 'in' you're going to get. It's not as instant as Project Spark's pre built toy box, as some assembly is still required, but you'll be able to do more with not a great deal of extra effort.

The only downside is those tutorials only cover the basics, which is a lot like swimming lessons that only cover walking through the shallow end of an Olympic pool. Activate that Advance mode and the deep end looms with all the promise and threat of a bottomless abyss. There's no guidance for some extremely complex concepts, and Sumo's attitude to any education past a quick paddle seems to be to throw you in and watch as you splash about.

Simply navigating menus is a skill in its own right due to the wealth and complexity of the content. The potential is huge but overwhelming, and the lack of guidance seems a little cold.

There are some things here we only know how to use because we've played all the previous games. Gadgets such as the microchip or Controlinator, along with other things introduced in LBP 2, are simply sitting in the menu, unexplained.

If this is your first time in LittleBigPlanet, good luck making sense of any of that. Similarly, there are new tools - such as the ability to create bespoke power-ups - that we only know about because we've had them shown to us at press events.

How the average gamer is going to piece this stuff together unaided is a bit of a mystery. There's a new set of Dynamic Thermometer tools, for example. In LBP the Thermometer traditionally measures the size of your level, filling up depending on the quantity and complexity of what you build.

Now you can create larger levels using a Loading Linker, Preloader and Permanency Tweaker. Powerful tools, but mastering them without introduction is largely a process of trial and error, and occasionally howling to whatever gods are listening.

Obviously, the more complicated stuff is always going to require commitment, but presumably the assumption is that once you pass a certain level of complexity, you're in it for the long haul - investigating and learning, or going on forums. But it's still a surprise to see just how much you're left to fend for yourself.

The reach and options make this feel like an actual game engine. A highly stylised one, admittedly, but just as powerful. Yet it'll come at a cost if it's your first experience of the series. There are powerful tools and gadgets here with no more than a ten-word sentence to summarize, at times, almost limitless potential.

Even the syntax of how to connect some things will basically be guesswork if you've not wired together a circuit before. The thing is, people will. If past games have proved anything, it's that the LBP community will think nothing of rinsing every potential opportunity and possibility from the systems at play here. However, it's an odd combination of accessible components, carefully explained, mixed with terrifyingly complex and utterly unelaborated parts.

The incredibly brief story (bar a few side-missions) also puts the emphasis more than ever on individual creation and community content. It's worth noting the new tools and ideas make for some of the most enjoyable stuff to date, but the seamless integration of all the old content is also impressive, creating a huge amount of available things. It was also nice to see all our old LBP 1 and 2 levels imported.

This is undoubtedly the best entry in the series, giving an unparalleled creative experience on console. But it's also the most confusing. More accessible, terrifying, approachable and incomprehensible than ever. There's plenty of creative fun to be had, but if you're going to take it really seriously then it's going require a lot of blood, sweat and stitches.

Binary Domain review - A brave attempt to innovate in a tired genre

Binary Domain is a third-person shooter from the team behind the Yakuza series. Its big gimmick is that you can use a headset to issue commands or talk to characters. This would be cool, if only the AI wasn't so disastrously thick, and the speech recognition so hit and miss.

Either they hear your commands and refuse to follow them, or they think you've said something completely different. Whenever we shout "Regroup!" in our loudest, clearest voice, Big Bo thinks we're saying his name. "Wassup, man?" he replies as enemies overwhelm and kill him.

Honestly, it's easier to use the controller. Then the game actually becomes fun, because you don't have to worry about your dimwitted companions ignoring or mishearing you. You just press a button and choose from a selection of pre-set commands, and they respond instantly. When you choose to play without a headset connected, the game protests that you won't have as much tactical control, which is a lie. Ignore it, don't bother with the voice control at all, and just enjoy the game for what it is: a dumb, enjoyable, super-simplistic cover shooter.


You play as Dan Marshall, a member of an elite group of soldiers whose job is to hunt Hollow Children: machines that look and act like humans, but who don't actually know they're robots.
As you might expect from the writers behind the Yakuza series, the story is compelling and well told - even though the dialogue of the main characters is made up entirely of terrible action movie one-liners. It's never a masterpiece of narrative, but it's better than most shooters.

What's really clever is how interactive it is. Occasionally characters will stop and ask you a question. Depending on how you respond - which you can do by either pressing a button or speaking into your headset - their opinion of you will change. The more they like you, the more receptive to your orders they'll be. If you've pissed them off, they'll ignore you. It makes you feel like you're actually taking part in the story, rather than just watching it play out in cut-scenes.

In an early level, Dan and Big Bo team up with Faye, a beautiful Chinese agent. As you move through the level, Bo comments on her 'great ass', and asks you what you think. If you join in with the blokey cat-calling, his opinion of you will rise, but Faye's will drop - and vice versa. Later, a fifteen year-old girl flirts with Dan and asks him if he'll be her boyfriend. If you say yes, you'll get negative points from your entire squad. The game has a keen sense of humour.

It isn't just dialogue that affects your squad; your actions do too. During combat, your performance is monitored by your team mates. If it takes you longer than it should to get through a group of enemies, they'll shout at you and you'll get negative points from them. "That was terrible!" they'll shout - though if you kick ass, they'll love you: "You really are the best!"

You'll also lose points if you screw something up. In one level, you have to sever a power cable and time it so that it swings into a giant robot and fries it. Mess it up, and your squad will be furious. It's an interesting, dynamic way of incorporating choice and consequence into the game, although none of your mistakes, or victories, feel like they have any far-reaching effects; they're confined to the situation you're in at that precise moment.

Still, you can't fault the developers for trying something new in a stale genre. Even though Binary Domain is a clear attempt to appeal to Western audiences, it's still distinctly a Japanese game. The setting, a futuristic vision of Tokyo, is lovingly detailed and faithful to the real location - just as the streets of Tokyo are in the Yakuza games. The enemy designs - especially the giant, screen-filling boss mechs - are pure anime, and are more than a little reminiscent of Sega's Vanquish. This is no coincidence, as both games share the same producer, Jun Yoshino.


But let's talk about the game at a more basic level. As a shooter, it's perfectly good - not great, not excellent, just good. The weapons have a satisfying kick, the cover system is responsive, and enemies are brutally tactical, flanking you at every opportunity. It just doesn't have anything that makes it stand out from the crowd, and it lacks the technical prowess and polish of something like Gears of War. But you have to give Nagoshi and co credit: they've never made a game like this before, and they've done a better job than some established Western developers.

Well, in most cases. There are some set-pieces that drove us to pad-hurling frustration because of the dense companion AI. About halfway through the game you find yourself fighting a huge, flying mech. You have to destroy its engines with a homing missile launcher, but every time you lock on, it sends out dozens of tiny drones that block your shot. You might think that your two AI team mates would shoot them away for you. But they don't. They just stand there.

Innovation in third-person shooters is a rarity, which is why we can't help but admire Binary Domain despite its flaws. The voice control gimmick is largely terrible, but the interactive story and real-time consequences give the otherwise unremarkable combat a unique edge. Ultimately, the game's problem isn't ambition or ideas, it's idiotic AI and inconsistent, predictable level design.