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.

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.

Bethesda Showed Too Much Doom And Lost Me Entirely With Its Outdated Shooter Mechanics


Bethesda finally unveiled what the new Doom would look like running on the id Tech 6 engine, and to be honest I feel that during their press conference they showed off just a little too much of their new shooter. The initial single player gameplay felt too scripted with the way that the gun moved giving off that it was floating in the air and didn’t feel grounded, the way that many Hollywood movies rely on CGI to create large scripted events not taking into account ‘gravity’.

The chainsaw segment was a nice nostalgic touch but with the limited animations and it being overused, it wore off quickly. Your game needs more then blood, guts and gore to convince me to fork out to buy it and enjoy it. There’s only so much action I can take and so many bodies I can mutilate before the gimmick grows tiresome. It’s what Doom 3 was criticised for the further you got in the game, repetitive combat and less than average AI.

What was shown excited the crowd but when they showed even more single player content this time in Hell I was bored, annoyed and not excited for it anymore.

I was shown too much in such a short time frame.

The above embedded tweet just goes to show how bland Hell looks in Doom at this moment in time of its development, I’m sure that closer to release and after countless fans voicing their opinions, more colour would be added but for the moment it looks more like Doom 3. Gears of War faced the exact same criticism for being too grey, Doom right now looks too brown.

Whilst that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t help to sell me on this new Doom.

During the conference those in the background screaming and clamoring during the chainsaw gameplay weren’t all media and mainly those that waited in line for hours to get a last minute no show ticket. They’re excited for the game and I get that, it’s Doom, it’s gory and brutal but it’s a tired shooter in a generation where they’re evolving to a point where being a run and gun shooting game anymore doesn’t cut it.

From the press release, multiplayer in Doom is the main feature I’m looking forward to. Frantic fast-paced arena action with classic and new modes introduced into the fray. Coupled with SnapMap which is Doom’s new easy to use level builder, this is what will sell the game to me. Endless hours of creating the ultimate level, not needing any expertise in map building.

Editing levels on the fly putting other gamers experience to the test. More of this and less generic single player gameplay.

Return of id Multiplayer

Dominate your opponents in DOOM’s signature, fast-paced arena-style combat. In both classic and all-new game modes, annihilate your enemies utilizing your personal blend of skill, powerful weapons, vertical movement, and unique power-ups that allow you to play as a demon

Endless Possibilities

DOOM SnapMap – a powerful, but easy-to-use game and level editor – allows for limitless gameplay experiences on every platform.  Without any previous experience or special expertise, any player can quickly and easily snap together and visually customize maps, add pre-defined or completely custom gameplay, and even edit game logic to create new modes.  Instantly play your creation, share it with a friend, or make it available to players around the world – all in-game with the push of a button.

The closer we get to the game’s release, the more that’ll be unveiled and I sincerely hope that id software have more to show that isn’t just a sawn-off shotgun and a chainsaw gunning down countless enemies who appear from thin air to just stand there and take a beating. Doom 3 was criticised for a lot back in 2004 (Forgiven that 11 years ago the same tech available today wasn’t back then) but let’s hope that in the 11 years since, let’s hope the fans and critics thoughts were taken on board to bring Doom into a new generation of gamers and consoles, because looking pretty doesn’t cut it anymore.

Shenmue III Hits Target Of $2 Million In Less Than 12 Hours


Yu Suzuki, the creator of the Shenmue series, unveiled the long awaited final chapter to the franchise, Shenmue III. The last game in the franchise, Shenmue II was released for the Dreamcast in Japan & Europe in late 2001, and then re-released for the original Xbox in March 2003.

Shenmue III Concept

In less than 12 hours, Shenmue III reached it’s $2 million USD Kickstarter goal, still having 31 days to go.

The first Shenmue (produced by SEGA in 1999) had a budget of $70 million USD and was in the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records for the most expensive video game made at that time.

Shenmue III is planned to be developed for PC and PS4, other platforms have not yet been decided. SEGA are not involved with the development process of Shenmue, however they have given Yu Suzuki the rights to the franchise, however SEGA still own the property rights to the first two games, so a HD remake of those games is not yet an option.

5 Re-Mastered Collections We’d Love to See Announced at E3 2015


E3 2015 is starting this week and we’ve had the usual leaks of new IP’s, re-masters, and new entries into existing franchises. What we haven’t exactly seen a lot of are HD collections. Uncharted: Drake Collection was leaked then announced and Gears of War is set to have presence at the Xbox Press Conference.

With that here is our list of some of the other collections we’d love to see announced at this years show.

  • The Rareware “Classics” Collection

It’s no surprise that over the years since Microsoft acquired Rare, the quality of titles they have produced haven’t been up to scratch. Nuts & Bolts wasn’t the Banjo-Kazooie people were expecting, also Perfect Dark: Zero which was a launch title for the Xbox 360 wasn’t exactly the shooter to own.

Conker has seen a small resurgence in Project Spark, but that isn’t enough. The Xbox live Avatars, not exactly putting Rare to task. Many of the original team aren’t part of Rare anymore, and Yooka-Laylee being developed by the team behind Conker and Donkey Kong Country will be close to what we’ll get from the Rare of old.

It would be amazing to see these titles bumped up to 1080p running in 60fps.

This collection would include:

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  • Hitman: “Agent 47” Collection

Everybody’s favourite hitman is set to return at E3 2015 in just a few days, but what better way to celebrate a resurgence than with a collection announcement. Agent 47 has evolved from when we originally met him, from stealth to action to approaching missions in various ways you see fit using any means necessary.

IO are set to announce a new Hitman game and with a new movie on the horizon, a remastered collection wouldn’t be too bad. It’s been 15 years since the original and 3 years since the last fully fledged title. Agent 47 hasn’t been seen on the Xbox One or PS4 yet, coupled in with the advancement of technology and how open ended the game is, I would welcome this collection with open arms.

The series is said to have sold 8 million copies since March 2013, with a HD collection released on previous consoles a new collection would welcome a newer generation of gamers to the franchise. Updated textures, 1080p native resolution and 60fps would make this collection appealing.

This collection would include:

agent 47

  • Mass Effect “Normandy” Collection

Watching gameplay of Mass Effect a few weeks back made me think that if Bioware reveal their new Mass Effect game at EA’s press conference they could couple a Mass Effect collection for the Xbox One and PS4 to let new players experience the trilogy that started it all. Again it’s been 8 years since the original came to fruition and 3 years since that infamous ending.

There’s plenty of DLC available to give players hours upon hours of content and seeing as the new Mass Effect is not following the original characters this would be a good way to learn the lore of the universe and characters that they would surely hear about in the new trilogy.

Upped to 1080p with new higher resolution textures and running in 60fps would be impressive for this third person RPG, as it was one of the more technically impressive titles of last generation.

This collection would include:

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  • Assassin’s Creed “Ezio” Collection

Before Assassin’s Creed became an annual series, Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed II, which continued Desmond’s adventure from the original Assassin’s Creed. It also fixed several problems people had with the original game (apparently Altaïr couldn’t swim). Assassin’s Creed II ended up being a fan favourite, so Ubisoft continued Ezio’s adventure with both Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Revelations.

Being able to follow Ezio through his adventures in the trilogy on a new generation of consoles would be a great release. Especially if the game received updated textures and ran in 60fps.

This collection would include:

assassins creed

  • Super Mario Galaxy Collection

This isn’t completely implausible, with Nintendo cleaning up Wind Waker for the Wii U and also making Ocarina of Time for 3DS, why not a great Mario series from the original Wii? The Super Mario Galaxy games were some of the best selling games on the Wii considered the best in the series.

Seeing Mario Galaxy in 1080p 60fps on the Wii U would be a delight.

This collection would include:

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Five Video Game Giants We Won’t See At E3 2015


Yvan lists The Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3 for short) is just around the corner where we’ll be able get hands-on experience with the latest that gaming publishers have to offer. Sadly, throughout the years, there have been casualties whether it’s due poor sales, moving onto mobile platforms, or simply going bankrupt. It’s not all bad though, as a lot of your beloved franchises have been reborn through other publishers.

Here, we list the bigger casualties from years past which we sadly won’t be seeing at this years E3.

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Acclaim

If you were a kid playing video games in the 90’s, you’d recognise the Acclaim logo (although it kind of looked like it was meant to say Acclaim) from games like Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, as well as the Turok series, a slew of WWF and Simpsons games. Acclaim were around during the 3rd generation of consoles, making games for the NES all the way through to the PS2.

In September 2004, Acclaim filed for bankruptcy and were left with over $100 million in debt. But it doesn’t end there, Acclaim saw the light of day again. Originally known as Acclaim Entertainment, the “Acclaim” name was purchased for $100,000 on August of 2005. In 2006, Acclaim was reborn as Acclaim Games. 

Unfortunately this was Acclaim by name alone, so many of the beloved IPs that they had once brought to life was in the hands of other developers. However, Acclaim Games managed to release 14 titles before Playdom acquired them in May 2010, and only three months later Acclaim Games closed their doors.

Midway Logo

Midway

Starting in the video game industry with pinball games and arcade machines, Midway eventually found themselves working on making games for home consoles, known for working on games like Joust, Tapper, Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, Rampage and Total Carnage.

In the year 2000 (during the 6th generation of consoles), Midway was ranked the 4th largest-selling video game publisher. By the end of the 2000’s, Midway’s worth plummeted, where 87% share of the company was sold for $100,000.

By February 2009, Midway Games filed for bankruptcy, where Warner Brothers purchased most of Midways assets, including Mortal Kombat.

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THQ

Starting as a toy company in the early 90’s, moved onto making video games in 1995.  Having a number of their own IPs, like Saints Row, Company of Heroes, Warhammer 40,000, Red Faction and others, as well as having licensing agreements with WWE, Nickelodeon and Disney.

In August of 2010, THQ revealed the uDraw, an accessory for the Nintendo Wii that would allow users to draw on the tablet accessory and interact with their television. The uDraw accessory was eventually released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 but unfortunately for THQ it was a commercial failure, and is considered to be the main causes to why THQ declared bankruptcy in December 2012. THQ declared bankruptcy with many of the companies IPs being purchased by Sega, Koch Media, Crytek and Nordic Games.

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LucasArts

If you had a PC or Mac in the 90’s then you should know who these guys are. Famous for their point and click adventures, such as Sam & Max Hit the Road, Full Throttle and the Monkey Island series. Most of these point and click games worked around the idea of observation, problem solving and puzzles.

It was also involved in making a number of Star Wars and Indiana Jones games, al under the Lucas umbrella. Unlike most other companies on this list, LucasArts didn’t go bankrupt, but were acquired by The Walt Disney Company in October 2012.

However, all games that LucasArts had been working on (including a number of Star Wars games) had been put on hold. In April 2013, LucasArts would cease operation as a video game developer and any future games would be developed by Disney Interactive Studios or licence through third-parties.

Shortly after, in May 2013, it was revealed that Electronic Arts would develop any futures Star Wars games, including Star Wars Battlefront.

Sega Logo

Sega

This one hurts a little. Once a hardware manufacturer, ranging from the third generation of consoles, with the SG-1000, to the sixth generation of consoles, with the shortly lived Dreamcast.

Sega has had it’s fair share of commercial failures ranging from the Mega Drive/Genesis add-ons (32X and Mega CD/Sega CD) to the rushed launch of the Sega Saturn as well as it’s new competitor into the market, the Sony PlayStation.

Sega’s last console, the Dreamcast, was released in November 1998 in Japan, and almost a year later in western markets. Unfortunately the Dreamcast’s sales was not enough which changed Sega’s focus to make software on other platforms.

Sega has since become a third party developer, making games for both home console, PC and mobile platforms, but has since moved their focus away from physical media releases after lacklustre sales of some of their major releases from last year like Sonic Boom and Alien Isolation.

In May of this year, Sega announced they would not be attending E3 2015.

With the majority of our bigger titles launching later in 2015/2016, particularly those from our AAA studios Relic Entertainment, Sports Interactive and Creative Assembly, we are concentrating our efforts for some of these major announcements after our relocation. Instead, we will be collaborating with our various business partners for this year’s E3 show.

The good news here is it may not mean the end for Sega at E3.

Sega will have at least one game at E3, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which will be published by Nintendo.

Until Dawn Coming Out Late August


Sony Computer Entertainment Australia have revealed that Until Dawn, a PlayStation 4 exclusive interactive horror game, will launch nationwide on August 26th later this year.

Along with the announcement came a new teaser trailer and news that Peter Stormare, known for his work in Prison Break, The Big Lebowski and Arrow, is a new cast member. Sony says that he provides “powerful performances in the motion capture studio” and is a great addition to the cast.

Sony have announced that there is a preorder bonus, giving you an extra scene that sees the new couple, Matt and Emily, out on the mountainside where soon they start to suspect they are not alone.

Three editions of the game – the Standard Edition, the Extended Edition and the Steelbook Edition – will be available to purchase with a recommended retail price of AUD$99.95.

Until Dawn is a horror game that has you playing each of the eight characters as they try to survive and find the answers that could save them from death.