Luftrausers Review (PS3)

With the recent announcement of the PS3 PSN store due to be shutdown, then Sony reversing that same announcement, the provocation has resulted in clearing the dust on Sony’s seventh generation console. Starting with this Sony console exclusive, Luftrausers, a war-themed shooter that dared to dream with its release, competing with an already-released PlayStation 4 just a few months earlier.

War, never been so much fun. You sunk my battleship. Both those memorable phrases detail the quality Luftrausers provides, albeit from a high level. When you first load up Luftrausers’ cartoon retro-style title screen, a simple instruction is given: Press ‘Up’ on your D-Pad. You soon realise you have been thrust into the cockpit of a plane as a complete novice, not knowing where to go or what to do. Instinctively though, you quickly find yourself flying back and forth, projectile barrages and small planes coming at you at breakneck speed, with a simple goal: Kill or be killed.

Constant death is an inevitability in Luftrausers. But this is glorious, unpredictable, addictive and even productive death. Every plane or battleship you destroy tops up your overall score, levels you up, and bumps your multiplier within each run too. Levelling up means better weapons, armour and the like, and thus, this is how you progress in Luftrausers. In-game side objectives, such as destroying 6 planes in a single run unlock further parts and modifications; homing missiles, reduced melee damage, even protection from the water below. You’ll need that last one should you dive in for temporary cover. All these elements bring variety to the feel and power of your craft. As you toughen up, the opposition gets tougher, and more frequent, which serves up more breath-taking moments of near-kamikaze brilliance.

Although this may not sound as appealing as it is in practice, there is quite the tactical element to Luftrausers to cap off its addictive brilliance. Any damage you do take slowly recovers with ant brief respite, indicated by a circle that closes in the nearer you are to being blown out of the sky. You are also more manoeuvrable should you ever release the fire button, which is great for healing and a temporary reprieve, but those going for the big multipliers will see it reset in those precious recovery seconds. Then the waves begin again, meaning it really is a case of who dares wins.

The wonderfully simple and symbolic nature of holding ‘up’ to fly and rotating using left or right for direction becomes second nature almost immediately, as intended, by throwing you into the action head on. I guarantee a few seconds later you’ll be throwing yourself head-on towards countless merciless targets. Granted, you may well escape some rounds by the skin of your teeth with more luck than judgement, but regardless, the sense of momentary relief is ever present.

Visually, Luftrausers offers a unique semi-retro style, akin to an HD Atari 2600, should such a thing ever have existed. When in battle, it can be similar to a typical bullet hell shooter, with enemies left, right and centre, a la Asteroids, but with the freedom of movement, of course.

As you progress through the various waves of increasing difficulty, Luftrausers succeeds in retaining the thrills and spills of those initial bedding-in runs throughout. For those with a PS Vita, you may miss a train stop or two if you’re not careful. While some runs may be over in mere seconds, the action is consistently heart-stopping, merciless, and seriously addictive. And it all begins with the touch of a simple command: Up.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered Announced For PS4, XBOX ONE, SWITCH and PC – Mass Hysteria!

Mad Dog Games and developer Saber Interactive have announced Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via the Epic Games Store. It is due to launch in 2019.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered delivers a unique story from franchise creators Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. Billed as the spiritual sequel to Ghostbusters 2,  Ghostbusters: The Video Game captures the comedic fun and fright the franchise is beloved for. This remastered release coincides with the 35th anniversary of Ghostbusters this year.

You play a new rookie on the Ghostbusters team, teaming up with characters from the films, which reunites the voices of Aykroyd, Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson as Stantz, Spengler, Venkman and Zeddemore. Alongside them are Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz), Brian Doyle-Murray (Psychiatrist in GB 2), William Atherton (Walter Peck), and Max von Sydow as the voice of Vigo the Carpathian.

With Manhattan being overrun once more by ghosts, demons, and other paranormal creatures unleashed by a mysterious force, the Ghostbusters must save the day. Only they can drive this evil back to whence it came.

The third-person viewpoint makes for hunting, zapping and trapping a variety of new and familiar ghouls and phantasms. Cool tools such as the Paragoggles and P.K.E Meter are also on hand to can and analyse spooks and demons. Then its time to strap on the Proton Pack to capture your foes in the Proton beam, ready for trapping. Enemies push and pull for freedom within the entrapment of the Proton Beam, and it is your job to force them into submission and into the Ghost Traps.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game was originally a multi-format release 10 years ago. The Xbox 360/PS3 version is the one remastered here, with life-like animated visuals of Peter Venkman and company, and a great script too. If sources are to be believed, Bill Murray was championed with ensuring that all the cast members got an equal share of screen time.

After just a few minutes in, it is apparent that Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a heartfelt piece of Ghostbusters canon straight from the creators. This very welcome remaster will serve as an excellent addition to the catalogues of the current console generation.

 

 

Transformers Devastation: Bringing Back Saturday Morning Cartoons

devastation-transIn late 2015, Activision released Transformers Devastation, a brand new Transformers video game. Developed by Platinum Games (Bayonetta, Vanquish), Transformers Devastation did something bold. No, not just creating a decent Transformers game (it is in fact fantastic), but it wasn’t based on any Michael Bay rubbish; instead they went back to the beginning of the franchise: Generation One.

For those not familiar, Generation One was the original Hasbro toy-driven cartoon and comic series that started in 1984. Although it only lasted 3 years, it was a worldwide success that spawned an animated movie that has a huge cult following, and countless now-collectible toys. Although that series ended almost 30 years ago, there have been multiple reimagining’s over the years, and it’s fair to say that the afore-mentioned Michael Bay monstrosities have indeed rekindled the memories of the original (and indeed best) series.

Despite the quite frankly surprising news of a Generation One based video game in the works, I was initially met with mostly scepticism. Transformers videos games largely have a terrible record, as do many series/movie tie-ins, unless Lego appears in the title. The news of Platinum Games as the developers certainly helped alleviate those initial fears; Bayonetta and its sequel are 2 of the best video games to ever grace a television screen, so I became swiftly confident they could deliver. The result is more than meets the eye…..

tf_devastation_teaserPlatinum’s somewhat traditional third-person ‘hack n slash’ formula is adopted well here; incorporating both physical attack combos and artillery-based projectile attacks. There are 5 classic Autobots to choose from, and once you get over the cool factor of being the original Optimus Prime, with his original Peter Cullen voice once again, you soon discover the other characters (Grimlock, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack) have enough variety between them to offer different experiences. Grimlock in particular, in his Dinosaur form, unlike everyone else’s vehicle forms, offers different combos and attacks.

But by far the most amazing factor of Transformers Devastation is the fan service, the nostalgia factor. It is by no means a perfect video game; it doesn’t have the combat depth of Bayonetta, or the consistently flawless backdrops of Vanquish, nor does it try to reinvent the wheel in any other way. But don’t be mistaken into thinking it is a poor game with just great fan service, like many other anime titles.

91BPBIsaxyL._SL1500_The characters and combat style is interspersed with the storyline and boss-ridden levels delightfully, and of course the bosses themselves are recognisable favourites such as Starscream, Soundwave, and of course Megatron. Each and every character even has their own heavy metal theme from the excellent accompanying soundtrack, which surely has to get a release. Believe me, I’ve asked, but it’s a ‘no’ for now.

The perfectly nostalgic cast and characters come together with a plot that easily fits in canon with the series, and plays out much like any typical episode would. It’s the perfect Saturday morning video game derived what was once everyone’s favourite Saturday morning cartoon series. Everything about this package is any Transformers fans’ dream. The beauty of the game is its appeal; it knows why you’re playing it before you’ve even booted the game up: you love the 80’s Transformers, so you are going to love this.

My 52 Game Challenge of 2014

2014 was a great year for gaming. Particularly for me, as I decided to undertake the ultimate lonely gamer task: complete 52 games in a calendar year. That works out at just shy of 4.5 games a month. Ouch.

Now I’m typically a gamer who starts many games, but takes forever to finish them. Save points are often my weak point in that I often to decide to call it quits once I reach one. Note to RPG makers: NO MORE SAVE POINTS, autosave all the way please.

Anyway, although late one, I completed the challenge. A simple feat for a lonely gamer such as myself, if I’d not started it in June! Yes, that’s 52 games completed in 6 months. And here they are:-

Xbox Live Arcade:-

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Streets of Rage 2

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade

Streets of Rage 3

TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled

Street Fighter III Third Strike

Final Fight

X-Men

Sonic Adventure 2

The Walking Dead Season 2

King of Fighters ’98

 

Xbox 360:-

Lego Batman 2

PES 2015 (Champions League)

 

PSN – Duck Tales Remastered

 

3DS:-

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Sega 3D Classics: Sonic The Hedgehog

Sega 3D Classics: Shinobi III

Kirby Triple Deluxe

Fantasy Life

Super Mario 3D Land

 

Wii U:-

Super Mario 3D World

Mario Kart 8 (Special Cup)

Bayonetta 2

 

Wii – Kirby’s Epic Yarn

 

Gamecube – Capcom Vs. SNK 2

 

Nintendo 64 – Lylat Wars

 

Gameboy:-

TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan

Kirby’s Dream Land

Super Mario Land

Super Mario Bros Deluxe

Donkey Kong Land

 

SNES:-

TMNT: Turtles in Time

Mickey’s Magical Quest

Final Fight 2

Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium

The Great Circus Mystery Starring Mick and Minnie Mouse

Aladdin

Super Castlevania IV

Street Fighter Alpha 2

Castlevania: Dracula X

Starwing

Donkey Kong Country

 

Mega Drive/Genesis – TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist

 

Master System – Sonic The Hedgehog

 

NES:-

TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project

Castlevania

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse

Where’s Waldo?

Super Mario Bros 2

Duck Tales 2

 

Turbografix – Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

 

Arcade – Sunset Riders

 

Particular highlights from this list have been many, but the standouts are Kirby’s Epic Yarn, A Link Between Worlds, 3D World, Fantasy Life and Bayonetta 2. LOVE THAT GAME. Not many particularly lengthy titles I know, with Fantasy Life probably the longest, but there were some tough cookies, the standout being Castlevania’s III and Dracula X. But that was the beauty of the challenge; it drove me on to finish even those difficult titles, in order to move onto the next one.

I shall once again be undertaking the challenge in 2015, in fact, if I get to 52 in 6 months again, I may well go for ANOTHER 52! I shall keep you all updated on here, plus I shall Instagram and Tweet each game as I finish them.

How about you, are you up for the challenge?

Review – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle (PS3)

Japanese manga’s Western exposure is as prominent as it’s ever been, and not just in written media. Dragonball Z continues to enjoy success across the US and Europe with reprints of its already-concluded series, a live-action movie, and of course several video game releases. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure however has not shared the same success. It’s had previous video game releases of its own, and is a phenomenon on its own shores. With All Star Battle, the series makes a big case to be noticed, and even give Street Fighter a run for its money.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle is a 2D fighter with 3D elements; essentially a mash up of Street Fighter IV and Dragonball Z. All the best aspects in fact, from its depth of fighting styles to its flamboyant visual style. JoJo is wonderfully simple to pick up, with three attack buttons, an accompanying sidestep and a moves list that any Street Fighter aficionado will get to grip with within seconds, and that’s just for starters.

There are five different ‘styles’ that characters use in JoJo, each one more flamboyant and downright mental than the last, from comically-extending limbs to fighting on horseback. Yes, horseback. There is little to the imagination in JoJo world; a world of adventure, fantasy, over the top dramatics, and quite frankly insane characters. Pacing is of a slightly slower nature, a la BlazBlue, and each stage has its own obstacles littered around, such as chandeliers falling from the ceiling, frog rain, all triggered by the actions of the two characters duking it out.

Although not knowing the series myself, I still found it all very enjoyable, in fact the ‘WTF’ factor gives it something unique over any fighter I’ve ever played before. The typical Street Fighter-executed moves, a standard we’ve all come to accept from other non-Street Fighter games fits in perfectly, and the different styles on offer ensure it is far more than just a clone. It does suffer slightly in its uneven pacing; characters’ walking speed is snail pace but one move could take you across the screen in an instant, much like Mortal Kombat and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Jojos-Bizarre-Adventure-All-Star-Battle-Face-300x168Visually, JoJo has wonderfully drawn sprites that capture the eccentric characters perfectly, in their blatantly-camp glory. The action is fast and fluid, and is often a fantastic feat on the eyes. The stages are much the same – all key locations from the manga, perfectly rendered for any fans’ dreams. Story mode is also there as a fan service; it follows each of the several story arcs of the manga, but as someone who doesn’t know the series, the basic ‘press X through several quotes only fans will know’ just meant nothing to me. A quick video recap, or anything more than just pages with three lines of text would keep it interesting. Even for fans it’s just a skim over at best, and as story mode is necessary to unlock all the hidden characters in the game, it feels a bit empty and at times a chore.

Campaign mode is a somewhat novel on-line feature, pitting you in one-round matches against ‘boss’ opponents, gradually wearing them down with the assistance of items and multipliers gained from previous battles. The AI comes from ghost data stats built from other players, and while your health bar can be bound by restrictions each battle, it regenerates if you can hold back for a while. The whole thing seems rather cheap and may well get the fighting purists riled up on message boards, but it’s actually quite original, very addictive, and perfect for those who love unlocking items to customise characters appearances.

Jojos-Bizarre-Adventure-All-Star-Battle-Yoshikage-vs-Shigekiyo-300x168In fact, Campaign mode offers the most original unlockable content in the game, plus the menu system is narrated through in typical anime fashion, which proves equally as entertaining and enjoyable as it is enthusiastic and eccentric. Add in your standard versus mode for both offline and online combat, and there is plenty to keep fighter and or anime fans busy. A surprising omission is there being no tutorial mode, usually a given for any fighting game, so anyone unfamiliar with fighters could feel lost at first, given the wacky content and the different styles, which aren’t initially explained.

Ultimately, if you strip out all the wacky colours, stages and anime madness, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle is a fantastic fighting game; easily accessible with plenty to learn. But this is a JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure game, and the subject matter is dressed perfectly atop to create a wonderfully eccentric and enjoyable experience very few games have ever achieved. The lack of a focused narrative for Story Mode looks like a poor assumption that only fans will pick this game up, but the good news for Bandai Namco and CyberConnect2 is that I just became a fan.

Review – Ratchet & Clank: Nexus (PS3)

Ratchet-Clank-Nexus-Haunted-City-Jetpack-620x348

Sony’s favorite partnership property is back. No more spin offs or side games either this time in Insomniac Games’ latest offering; this time they mean business, with Ratchet & Clank: Nexus. With this, the 12th game overall of the series, and the final Ratchet & Clank of this console generation, is Nexus the sign-off the fans deserve?

Ratchet & Clank: Nexus was billed as a shorter title by Insomniac, to concentrate on getting fans of the series back straight into the action they fell in love with in the first place. It starts spectacularly well, with the tutorial sections seamlessly integrated into the first couple of rooms, and then very subtly placed as you progress through the game. The visuals are on par with previous titles in the series, with the additional Clank 2D platform side missions and the cut scenes particularly pleasing on the eyes.

The plot, part tragedy, part sci-fi adventure, part Ghostbusters (trust me on this), keeps the adventure ticking along nicely. And although predictable at times, Ratchet & Clank never fails with its charm and comic timing. In keeping with its promises, Nexus is played out in the typical third person view, against differently detailed backdrops and terrains, such as industrial, plant life, and even a museum, which also serves in bringing the quadrilogy back full circle.

The lovable last remaining Lombax and his backpack-robot sidekick have a wealth of weapons and gadgets that are obtainable throughout the adventure, as such is the tradition of the series. Blasters, rocket launchers, laser rifles, and, hilariously, a freeze ray that plays Christmas jingles whilst turning your enemies into snowmen. The variety of weapons and the fact that they are constantly upgradable and improve literally just by using them is its own reward, plus leaves you wanting to sample each and every one of them. The combat is fast and fluid, the latter Nexus copes with surprisingly well, as in the latter stages there are a lot of enemies on screen at once, and Ratchet’s upgraded weapons grow more and more explosive and outlandish with each enhancement.

So, does Nexus deliver on its promises? Fast fluid action? Check. Over the top weapons that get more bad-ass with every upgrade? Check. As charming as ever? Check. There are however a couple of gripes that make Nexus seem more of a chore than it should have been.

Ratchet-Clank-Nexus-Winterizer-300x168Of the five planet locations in the game, two of them appear to have been injected just to draw out the completion time of what is only a 10 hour campaign anyway.

One of said planets is a tournament which arguably would be better served as an additional mode aside from the campaign. The other I’ve decided to call Planet Fetch-Quest, which sadly only serves a bare minimum to the plot, but the repetitive efforts involved almost make it redundant.

But these gripes also serve as successes, albeit to the right audience. One man’s chore is a collector’s dream. Yes, if it’s one thing Nexus is not short of, it’s trophy-based collecting. Almost everything dishes out currency bolts, but there are also secret gold bolts to find, every weapon to purchase and upgrade, in order to 100% every stage, effectively catering for everyone. Not only that, once the campaign is complete, a new Challenge Mode appears, which is the campaign all over again (stay with me) but with all previously collected weapons, levels and upgrades, and a bolt multiplier, particularly important if working towards a certain trophy (or 10). Great for fans of the series, but might not be the case if his is your first time out. Better to start with the excellent Tools of Destruction if that’s the case.

So I ask again: So, does Nexus deliver on its promises? Yes, it certainly does. This is a game made for the fans; it rounds off the ‘Future’ quadrilogy adequately, and comes at half the price of a normal title. Insomniac knows their target audience, and if that’s you, you’re in for a treat.

Please note: This review was originally published at http://www.theaveragegamer.com/2013/11/11/ratchet-clank-nexus-review-ps3/