Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst Has a Strong Story, Features Gadgets to Help Faith and Gets Very Vertical


It’s been a long seven years for Mirror’s Edge fans, but finally after such a uncertain wait, Faith is finally back and in a much bigger and more impressive way than any of us could have imagined. Gone is the gunplay, meaning that players can not use any guns dropped by enemies and many fans of the original will note that apart from the short and simple storyline, this was the weakest part of the game.

Included as well is an overhauled melee combat system, which feels much more fluid in Faith’s movements and to accompany this is a truly open world setting for players to traverse.

The City of Glass is Faith’s new playground and it is littered with various objectives the player can undertake.

Included in the demo for E3 but not limited to these were:

  • Billboard Hack
  • Speed Run
  • Delivery

Whilst these aren’t the official titles of the objectives, you can get a rough idea of what they involve.

Billboard hacking is exactly as it reads, you traverse the environment in any way possible to reach a high up billboard, press ‘X’ or ‘A’ to hack it and you’re done. Similar to Assassin Creed’s towers, though I’m not sure they really change the influence in a section or if they are more so for there for completionists, and to showcase the beautiful city environment. This was quite easy and I’m hoping the further you are in the game the harder they get.

Speed Runs are your time trial objective where you must get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in the shortest time possible and where the game truly shines. As Glass is an open world with no loading screens, players can follow the set marker trail to reach their destination but they are not restricted to it. You can still take shortcuts if you find them to shave off a few seconds, and remembering the days of Mirror’s Edge, speed runners will tear this game apart.

They will find every little hole Faith can slide under, every wall she can jump over just to get there a fraction quicker, and with leaderboards you can bet some ridiculous times shall be recorded.

Last but not least there’s package delivery. These are very similar to the speed runs, but you’ll have enemies around most corners ready to take you down. This is where we got a chance to test out the game’s combat in all its revamped glory. Whilst I didn’t mind the combat in the original you can definitely see that Faith’s movements are of a more fluid nature.

She seamlessly transitions from running to combat and it’s a sight. I applaud the removal of gun combat because it took away from using Faith’s most powerful tools, her body. Combat feels less like a chore this time around and Faith is equipped with a whole arsenal of new moves to take down foes. There are specific takedowns that Faith can do similar to that of the Arkham franchise whilst she’s in the air.

This demo, whilst short, gave me a good indication that Catalyst won’t be disappointing fans of the original entry to the franchise.

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After the 13 minute demo had ended, I managed to have a quick chat with Erik Odeldahl (Design Director) who whilst new to the franchise, joins the team at DICE which includes 7 original developers who worked on the Mirror’s Edge (2008).

We like to think we’re catering to several types of players. We have a very strong story that brings you through the city, brings you into contact with all the important characters and Faith’s origins story. The free roaming sections are very important as well, we believe even players that don’t usually do that type of stuff we really hope they will play this one as well.

I also asked that since the game is now open world how vertical does the City of Glass get for Faith to traverse, as giving players this type of liberating freedom means the game world must be engaging enough to explore.

It’s gets very vertical after a while and we have gadgets, but we’re not ready to talk about those yet to help with some of that, so definitely very vertical.

Whilst they haven’t touched up on the gadgets, I’m assuming they’ll be something akin to maybe a zipline to travel from building to building. Heading closer to the its February 2016 release date we’ll find out more about what they will be.

Overall, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst to me feels like the game it was meant to be 7 years ago. No gun combat, huge focus on parkour movement, a beautiful city run by a controlling government with our runners and another faction at play, ‘Black November’, which we know little about.

There isn’t much more I can add unfortunately, the demo gave us a glimpse of how the game runs and looks and fans should be pleased. It didn’t give away any plot elements, as doing so would leave us over the 8 months with knowledge we can’t do anything with.

It was a perfect short demo to showcase the open world nature of the game, no loading screens, revamped melee combat and how much free roaming the player can do.

February 2016 cannot come fast enough.

My Heart Is Unraveling Like Yarn Because I Want To Play More Of Unravel


In between the announcements of the yearly updates of EA Sports titles and big titles like Mass Effect: Andromeda and Star Wars Battlefront, came an announcement on the partnership of a small Swedish game studio, Coldwood and Electronic Arts on the development of a new puzzle platformer game titled, Unravel. I had my hopes high for Unravel since seeing the trailer for it and EA has ticked all the boxes for publishing a great game. It’s nice to see while EA is concentrating on big titles with new story lines with Mass Effect: Andromeda, in the meantime they would be publishing little budget games like Unravel.

Unravel introduces Yarny, a tiny, new character made from a single thread of yarn that slowly unravels as you move, who embarks on a seemingly larger than life journey through the breath-taking, lush environments of Northern Scandinavia. Using Yarny’s small thread and big heart, players will traverse nature’s obstacles in this unique physics-based puzzle platformer.

Before the hands on demo there was a presentation with Jakob Marklund, Chief Technology Officer at Coldwood, explaining the concept behind the game and game mechanic were explained after putting Yarny in different situations from environments in Northern Sweden, and snapping pictures, figuring out fun things you could do with that yarn.

The hands on demo starts off with Yarny trying to mend a broken bond, trying to help a lonely old woman reconnect with all that she has lost. The yarn unravels as you move, and if you run out of yarn you can’t go on. You will need to find yarn balls to replenish his body to progress in the game. Your goal is to try to make that yarn reach all the way through the game, from start to finish. This allows the player to retrace their steps just in case if you get stuck on how to move forward or fall in a hole. The yarn is quite literally the red thread that ties everything together and unravels more of the story the further away it gets from the things that it loves.

There are a few different gameplays available throughout the various puzzles. You have the ability to shoot your yarn like a grappling hook, or hold onto the string behind you to have the option of pulling yourself up or descending on it. You can also use the yarn to grab and drag objects, and tie off the yarn to fixed points for either the purpose of using it as a bridge or to use it as a trampoline to throw yourself to higher heights.

Unravel is a game all about overcoming obstacles, both big and small. Some challenges are simple, like using Yarny’s thread to swing across a gap, or rappel down a tree. Sometimes things get more complex, like making a bridge with some apples to walk on so Yarny doesn’t get wet and die, and players will need to use Yarny’s thread in clever and creative ways to find the path forward. If you die, there are yarn balls placed around the map that serves as checkpoints. Along the way, you will witness him unlock a heartfelt story about love and longing, and the ties that bind. The tale is told completely without words and clues about the game’s storyline like a baby in a photograph, a laughing boy with his father, and the father being dragged away by police are discovered in the background throughout the way immersing the player in the game rather than having cut scenes.

Having not played for that long, Unravel pulls you into the game with its realistic scenes (gardens, forests, streams, gravel roads), wistful music and the different emotions that Yarny expresses taking into account the lack of facial features Yarny has and makes you want to keep playing it to make sure that Yarny is safe. I cannot wait to get my hands on this when it comes out as I would love to find out what happens while I enjoy the different puzzles available in this beautiful world that they have created.

Embark with Yarny on a seemingly larger than life adventure to reconnect the long-lost memories of a family when Unravel releases in 2016 for digital download for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a physical release of this game with Yarny included in there as well, but only time can tell with the interest it picks up.

GAMMA CON 2015 – The Indie Games


At the end of May, Canberra celebrated video games, cosplay and all things geeky at Gamma Con which a pop culture convention that is only in its second year. It’s a small event with plenty of board games to play, loot to spend all your cash on and panels with special guest such as Goose from Good Game and host of SBS Pop Asia, Andy Trieu. There were gaming tournaments, films, workshops and a great room that was filled with Canberra game developers showing off their latest creations. Here are my thoughts on some of the titles I got to have a quick play of.

Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth 

If you like the sound of The Legend of Zelda meets Banjo-Kazooie then Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth might be just for you. Warden has you play as Tavian, an imperial prince, who fights, figures out puzzles and navigates the world quite like the loveable Link. His appearance is cartoonish similar to Windwaker’s art style and the world he explores is full of bright, exciting colours such as the solid, green leaves shuffling in the trees and the calming blue water trickling down the river. I only got to play the pre-beta build but there is plenty to do such as fight a couple enemies, become introduced to the characters that expand the story and solve some puzzles. Overall it works quite well and I enjoyed myself the entire time whilst playing it. I’m looking forward to see how it’ll improve and change before the release.

Evergreen

Do you like trees? Ever get that nagging feeling that damn it would be great to just sit down, relax and grow your own unique tree in a matter of seconds? Well it’s time to get your green thumbs out in the tree building extravaganza called Evergreen

Within the game you can create pretty much any type of tree you desire with the choice of branches, flowers, leaves and even roots, but there is more to the game than meets the eye. You see you need to create strong branches and have long roots sucking up the nutrients your tree needs for sustenance, otherwise there is a chance you might see it just topple down. There also are goals along the side of your screen that once achieved unlocks more design choices for your plant. The game looks quite simple visually but your tree lives in a unique world that changes and evolves as your tree does – even to the point where animals will be coerced to sneak out of their hiding place and witness the beauty of your impressive creation.

Dragon’s Wake

Dragon’s Wake has you, the player, starting off as (you guessed it) a young, baby dragon who is ready to explore the world and evolves into a bigger, stronger dragon as you play. It works with a simple mechanic – jumping and gliding onto platforms with the click of a button – but you need to pinpoint the exact times when to jump, double jump or even triple jump in order to reach your intended destination. As you explore the 2-D retro caverns you’ll start to come across different types of life which are there for you to gobble up and either top up your health, give you new powers or get some upgrades. I’ve only played a little bit of this but it’s a delight. The art style is beautiful and the controls are fluid and accurate making me immersed in this little game in just a matter of minutes. Plus it has an incredible soundtrack changing whilst you explore new and interesting areas.

The Incredible Journey of You and I

The Incredible Journey of You and I was by far my favourite out of all the titles I played at GAMMA CON. It’s a two player experience that requires you and your partner working together to travel through a level whilst shooting at enemies but there’s a catch – only one person can either shoot or move your flying ship at one time and it all depends on the colour you are. You may either be blue or pink as well as the background behind you. If the area is blue and you’re character is blue as well,  you get to control the ship whilst your pinks partner shoots and vice versa. Colour also is important whilst defeating these black enemies that also may have a touch of blue or pink. Pink enemies can only be hit by pink bullets and blue enemies can only be hit by blue bullets. It sounds a little confusing but it all works incredibly well and its very much in early days – the spaceship we were flying wasn’t even visible. I can’t wait to see what the end result is because just playing this little demo got me extremely ecstatic and had me smiling the entire playthrough.

Incredible Journey of YOu and I

Just Cause 3 is a Bat-Shit Crazy, Next Generation Mercenaries That Never Was


Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (2005) and Mercenaries: World in Flames (2008), were one my favourite titles back on the original Xbox, developed by the now defunct Pandemic Studios. They were every gamers dream of having an open world title where they could do almost anything they wanted. After seeing Just Cause 3 in action at the start of Square Enix’s E3 Press Conference, I must say I am excited for it’s open world gameplay that lets you ride a god-damn missile falling from the sky.

The images below are screen-caps from the trailer as, unfortunately, I cannot find ANY press assets from E3 that showcase these crazy stunts.

In Mercenaries, the open world was the players playground and they could level any single building that they saw fit. Give or take the Just Cause franchise includes this feature, a decade ago on the original Xbox, this blew my mind. To see a game on the new generation of consoles feature such a vast open world for the player to explore where they can level buildings, use barrels as explosives by using the grapple hook and allowing them to hook enemies to buildings is just pure bliss.

From watching the trailer, you’ll instantly notice the similarities between both games and you’ll know why Just Cause 3 will be amazing. Driving tanks, soaring through the sky in your wing-suit, leveling buildings, blowing everything up it’s what I really wanted Mercenaries 3 to be, but unfortunately never was.

On the show room floor, Square Enix were holding public interactive presentations where they would showcase just how you can cause destruction in the game. Players can destroy buildings by using the grapple hooks to couple them together with exploding barrels, they can destroy statues again by using exploding barrels, or the statues own arm to slap itself and make it crumble.

Players are able to use helicopters to destroy bridges and make them tumble with cars still on there, unhinge large fuel containers to blow up petrol stations or tether cars to other cars, the possibilities are endless. Avalanche Studios have embraced the over the top nature of the franchise and it’ll make you and I enjoy the game all the more.

What you saw over the course of the 3 days is exactly what I saw and there wasn’t much else. You can’t sell the game to me any more because I’m already sold. I love an open world game where I can traverse the environment and do as I please. Standing on top of the plane you were just flying then just casually base jumping off it, only to spread your arms and activate your wing-suit to sore through the sky, will be on many players “To do” list.

Losing speed? Just use your grapple hook to hook onto the ground to pull yourself further and continue flying.

There are so many open world games coming out end of this year and early next, that they’ll need something special to make them stand out from each other. Just Cause 3 will have some really tough competition for crazy open world game, but I strongly feel that it does enough to set itself apart from the pack.

Uncharted 4 Looks Gorgeous, But Media Weren’t Allowed to Ask Any Questions During Extended Behind Closed Doors Preview


At the end of Day 2 of E3 2015, we had an appointment with SONY to check out Uncharted 4 : A Thief’s End among other titles on their upcoming roster. We got a nifty 30 minute demo, which was the footage shown from SONY’s E3 Press Conference and just a little bit more.

Once Drake smashes into the wooden barricade on the side of the bridge, he is then dragged at least a couple of hundred metres through mud whilst trying to stay attached to the grapple hook he managed to snag on the truck. Shooting enemies on bikes and jeeps trying to shoot Drake, whilst still smashing into other obstacles such as barrels and wooden crates scattered on the road. (As per the image below)

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Upon managing to rescue Sam, players then find themselves still trying to escape the heavily armour SUV on the back of Sam’s bike. The camera switches and you now have a Skorpion UZI in your possession to try and destroy it, and boy is this thrill ride just a joy to watch.

Graphically the game looks amazing. Particle effects, explosions, smoke, muzzle sparks, characters facial animations, rag-doll physics, everything in this game looks gorgeous. When the player finally manages to destroy the SUV the way it tumbles and explodes in the process is pure bliss.

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All media that have seen this demo and commented about it, are right.

It’s gorgeous, but there’s one problem.

When we walked into the small room to see this extended demo, we were a group 5 only. It was appointment only. No appointment, no Uncharted 4. That’s the way a media only appointment works.

Before the demo began we got the usual “Please no video recording, no photography and no audio recording”. Standard stuff when you’re about to see more of a game barely anyone will see for a while, since it’s not for public release.

What was even more interesting was when we were told that we weren’t allowed to ask any questions at all regarding the game. No story questions, no game play questions or development questions. We were relegated to asking the most simple of questions.

What is his name? Who is he? What is her name?

This intrigued me. Every behind closed door demo I’ve been to so far have had some form of Q&A. Uncharted 4 is one of SONY’s bigger franchises that has been received well and a graphical powerhouse.

Why not allow us to ask some simple questions about the game? Bearing the fact that we know you can’t answer questions like “Where is the story headed?”, or anything that would spoil the game, but not even about the game itself.

After watching the demo I turned to my colleagues and asked them what they thought, the first thing that popped into their head. Want to know what they said almost simultaneously? “Why did it look exactly like the Press Conference Demo?”

Looking exactly the same in the sense that the person playing took the EXACT same path, hid behind the EXACT same crates and columns and tried to play out the E3 Press Conference Demo step by step. We had so many questions, but again, we weren’t allowed to ask them.

All three of us scratched our heads. We all found the game graphically impressive among other things but didn’t know why no questions were allowed. We’re sure that the nothing is wrong with the game, but when you’re showing it off to media and press in a confined space meaning it to be an intimate session, you would expect at least some form of Q&A to be allowed.

Want to know what’s even funnier? The images in this article are from the extended demo that media were shown. So you can see the images and how it plays out but we couldn’t ask any questions at all. Figure that one out.

I Haven’t Lost Faith In Nintendo (And You Shouldn’t Either)


Tuesday morning, Nintendo had the E3 Digital Event and other than a few highlights (Star Fox, Super Mario Maker) it seemed like a relatively weak event.

Unfortunately, the internet retaliated, mocking and insulting Nintendo’s presence this year to the point where thousands flocked to an online petition to get the games cancelled.

At the time of posting this piece, the YouTube video for Metroid Prime: Federation Force had over 500k views and over 48,000 dislikes as opposed to 4,900 Likes.

Nintendo financially has taken a hit too, with close to a 5% stock drop since the morning of the Nintendo E3 Digital Event.

And in all fairness after watching the E3 Digital Event, I can understand the backlash from the general public as Nintendo’s line up this year did seem rather lacklustre, however, I don’t agree with the execution of it.

I had the pleasure to experience the Nintendo booth at E3 this year and can assure you that this years line up is far from lacklustre. And probably one of my favourite experiences from the show was with Super Mario Maker, which I was fortunate enough to play last year, and have noticed a huge improvement in terms of design and features in comparison. Not to mention how much fun it was to just mess around with it, whether it came to playing some of the ridiculously designed levels or making your own, the game really has a lot of polish and is a great stepping stone, not only in the Mario franchise, but for game design in general.

Nintendo also showed Star Fox: Zero, and while a Star Fox game was announced last year, the only thing revealed was they were making a game. If Nintendo didn’t announce a Star Fox game last year, I’m sure fans would have gone insane with the announcement of it this year.

In addition, Nintendo are constantly rolling out Digital Events every few months, announcing new games or revealing more information about existing ones. Not to mention the titles released recently, like Splatoon, new content for Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS, as well as the upcoming titles like Yoshi’s Wooly World.

Satoru Iwata, the current CEO of Nintendo, has acknowledged the fan backlash via Twitter, taking on the opinions of fans to improve future Digital Events.

The fact of the matter is this, we can’t expect Nintendo to bring out a new Mario/Zelda/Metroid/Star Fox game every year, they’re not Activision/Ubisoft/EA. Nintendo has always had a certain amount of polish on their games, and we can’t demand that Nintendo start cancelling games that we don’t like the look of. E3 2015 may have not been Nintendo’s best, with new hardware looming and a new full-fledged Zelda game in the works, we need only wait for what Nintendo has in store for the future.

Thousands of Fans Outraged About Metroid’s Direction They’re Petitioning to Get Them Cancelled


Nintendo, in it’s E3 2015 Direct, showed off two Metroid games after having not released a title in the series since Metroid: Other M for the Wii in 2010. It should have been a glorious, beautiful return to form – bringing a fan favourite franchise back from the dead to give new life to Samus’s adventures through pirate infested space – but instead it was met with a Change.org petition to cancel the games.Do I agree with this reaction? Not necessarily, but I can definitely see where it’s coming from. What was once an isolating, terrifying and thought-provoking quest into deep space has been strapped on to a multiplayer shoot-em-up, and a 3v3 space soccer simulator. Of course, we’ve seen but a few seconds of each game, and it isn’t fair to completely write them off without first at least playing them – but let’s think about them for a second.

First, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a first person, multiplayer shooter coming exclusively for the 3DS. I’ve never understood multiplayer games on handhelds, since if I am going to get together to play games with my friends there will be a TV and console nearby, but even ignoring my own tendencies, the system simply isn’t made to play these types of games. One analogue stick isn’t enough to control a FPS properly, and though the ‘New 3DS’ does include a surprisingly sensitive nub above the ABYX buttons, it simply doesn’t afford the kind of control a second stick could.

Secondly, Metroid Prime: Blast Ball is a ‘3v3 Sci-Fi Sports Battle’ game where you shoot large balls into goals before your opponent can – essentially, it’s soccer for space marines. While my first reaction was that this was incorrectly targeting the eSports movement, I have since changed my mind about that – surely Nintendo knows that the 3DS system isn’t likely to be picked up by the eSports community. eSports require precise controls, usually given by mouse and keyboard or finely tuned controllers, that I don’t believe the 3DS can deliver.

In watching the trailer again, it seems apparent the main issue is the shift in audience. Nintendo is no longer aiming Metroid games at ‘hardcore’ gamers who want to be challenged, and left to their own devices in a dark and hostile world, but is making games for kids. Making games more accessible doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but when it dilutes a brand to the point where it isn’t recognisable, until the name pops up on the trailer, it isn’t good.

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Nintendo could easily continue on with these games, ignoring their most hardcore fans, and change the Metroid universe into something far more kid friendly. It’s equally possible Nintendo could pull the games, or more likely re-brand them, and begin work on a more traditional Metroid title to heal the relationship with customers who have given them decades of time and money.

It’s difficult to say what the future of Metroid is: even with the announcement of a new game it is still in as much doubt as weeks before. Nintendo hasn’t made themselves any friends with this announcement, but I look forward to seeing what it’s response is.

E3 2015 Half Life 3 Troll Announcement is Brutal and Plays with my Emotions


About 30 minutes ago, this image appeared on this website. Knowing that this website was registered earlier in the year (See below image) is brutal. Many unsuspecting gamers and users of the internet will see this and jump in excitement only to have their hearts crushed, when they realise it’s not real.

Seeing as SONY went for a nostalgic approach at their press conference announcing Shenmue III, bringing back The Last Guardian and announcing the FF7 remake, there may still be hope in this sequel. Unfortunately, for now the PC Gamer Show is happening and Valve is on the list of known guests, but the chances of them announcing Half Life 3 during the show are slim, but it would be the ONLY place they would if it were to happen at E3 this year.

Many have been waiting for this and we have gone through A LOT of announcements only for them to be fake. This is just another to add to that list and it comes at the worst possible time, E3 2015.

Please Valve, do us all a favour give us something. Anything.

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