Evolve’s March Update brings new Hunters, Monster, Maps and Observation Mode


Earlier in the week I got the opportunity to try out Evolve new DLC which will be available March 31. Along with many updates to the game, it will be the first set of new hunters and a new monster to the game, the Behemoth.

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The Behemoth is a huge rock like monster, who can turn into a massive ball for faster movement speed. The Behemoth has more armour and health than the previous three monsters, and can also do the most damage.

On those facts alone, one would think the Behemoth is a game breaking monster, and simply a means of ‘pay to win’, but as opposed to the Wraith, the Behemoth moves significantly slower in combat, and his abilities are far more defensive than aggressive.

Lava Bombs can be used in certain closed off areas, that will damage and hunters within the damage radius. In combination with Rock Wall, can either leave the hunter trapped inside with the monster, or allow the monster get increase it’s distance from the hunters when trying to eat and evolve.

The Tongue Grab works similar to the Wraith’s Abduction, where it will extend its tongue in the direction of the hunter being attacked and and bring them into close quarters to apply massive damage.

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Fissure is a wave the Behemoth sends out, that sends a blast of damage along the ground, stunning and hunters caught in it.

But monster loves aren’t the only ones who got some love, with four brand new hunters, Torvald the Assault, Crow the Trapper, Slim the Medic, and Sunny the Support. All of which have their own dialogue options, whether they are partied together or with existing hunters.

The four new hunters bring their own style to the game, and although the obviously have traits similar to other Assaults, Trapper, Medics and Support, they bring their own traits, personality and backstory.

Torald, the Assault is the main damage dealer in the group. With the ability to shoot Mortar Cannons from a long distance, but when in short range, using Shrapnel Grenades to cover the target in weak points, then following up with his Autofire Shotgun.

Crow, the Trapper has brought his pet with him, Gobi, a batray. Unlike Daisy, Gobi is not a party member, but can assist the party by scouting from above to track down the monster and other wildlife. Crow also brings his own arsenal, his Stasis Gun can be used to temporarily slow the monster and can be charged up to prolong the slowed effect. While his Kinetic Long Rifle can be used two different ways, in quick bursts it will deal more damage per second, but when charging a show, it can bypass a monsters armour, doing direct damage to his health.

Slim, the Medic is the most interesting of the new hunters, with his bug-like features, he’s the only non-human hunter, aside from Bucket. Slim main damage dealing weapon is his Leech Gun, when shot at a target, helps speed up the cool down his class ability Heal Burst, which is also much wider than all other medics. His Spore Cloud Launcher, when shot at the monster, stops the monster from smelling and identifying the hunters, making it difficult to tell them apart. Finally, Slim has a bug looking Healing Drone, which he can send to teammates from a distance to heal or revive.

Finally, there is Sunny, the Support. Her main weapon, a Mininuke Grenade Launcher, does more damage in a single projective than any other handheld weapon for any other hunter. Similar to Hank, she can shield other hunters, but it’s done automatically by deploying the Shield Drone. Lastly, Sunny can use her Jetpack Booster, which she can use on other teammates to either shorten the distance between them and the monster, or help them get out of a bad situation.

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Although the new hunters and monster are paid DLC, the first major update brings free content to everyone, including Observation Mode, which is designed to allow a sixth player, giving them the ability to switch between the view of all the hunters and the monster, which also shows an informative HUD that shows players health, survival odds, perks and more.

Lastly, two new maps will be available, Broken Hill Mine and Broken Hill Foundry, which include destructible entryways, which give the monster new shortcuts throughout the map.

The new content will be available on March 31st for all versions of Evolve on Xbox One, PS4 and PC users.

Isolation, Wonder and Terror Await you in Ghost Song. A Dark and Atmospheric Metroid-Inspired Game


An alarming, foreign sound echoed through the dimly lit cavern, alerting me to the presence of something that lurked in the dark around my questionably human cipher. Tentatively, I pushed forward, weapon at the ready; the bullets it fired were weak, but they were the only defence I had. As I moved onward, the sound became louder still, before it’s source revealed itself: a large, bipedal creature lumbered before me. I ran toward it, and vaulted over it’s head, hoping to find a more strategic battlefield. Almost without warning, I was beset by a strange, explosive jellyfish-like animal cutting through the air toward me. It connected, and needless to say, I died.

Ghost Song is a dark, quiet game. It is dripping with the atmospheric tension and hostile map design Metroid fans have been dreaming, begging for and, if the beta is anything to go by, has no problem with letting you fail in order to teach you its language. A language which is influenced heavily by Samus’s earlier adventures, but also by newer titles, Dark Souls in particular, which subscribe to the ‘hard but fair’ style of gameplay.
ss01Set on the moon Lorian V, you are cast as the (seemingly) lone survivor of a crashed starship who, upon regaining consciousness, begins exploring the dangerous tunnels that stretch out beneath the surface. These tunnels are dark, you can regularly see only a few metres either side of you, and are teeming with life; exotic and unearthly flowers which rise from the floor, and strange, glowing orbs which hum from the roof yet offer no safety from the darkness.But, as you find out quickly, they are also infested with hostile creatures who will attack you mercilessly should you invade their vision.The world feels dangerous, partially due to the uneasy atmosphere, but also because you purposely feel weak. The weapon you begin with does little damage, but can fire quick, successive rounds, allowing you to wear an approaching enemy down. Most enemies I faced move quite slowly, shambling toward you in a zombie-like daze, but this simply means that when a quicker enemy appears you must be paying attention.

It is easy to shoot a slow, grounded enemy from across the screen, but what happens when a faster, airborne creature begins soaring toward you? Your character does not have an auto aim function, meaning that you must line up your shots skilfully, or escape harm. I eventually found a good way to deal with these beings was to lure it toward me, and to draw them to hit a platform between it and I where they explode on contact, or if no such shield existed, to simply run. Years of action games initially made me feel guilty about the act of running from battle, but Ghost Song doesn’t judge you on enemies killed or a high score, but on survival.

Set behind the action is the beautifully hollow sound design, which compliments the game’s artistic design perfectly. Menu cues are sounded by an alien murmur, leading to an immediate sense of unease. Enemies barely make any sound, leading to an almost entirely silent experience, broken up by the sounds your character makes; shooting, jumping, dying, and the minimal, muted background music. At least one section I played through subverted this, with an echoed, grinding noise appearing in the distance, but becoming louder as you progressed toward it. The source was, I expect, a ‘boss’ enemy – though there was no fanfare at it’s reveal. It simply shambled onto the screen and promptly killed me.

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Ghost Song succeeds at much of what it is trying to achieve. The lonely, oppressive atmosphere sets up the beginnings of a harrowing but rewarding experience – one I cannot wait to jump back into. The developer, Old Moon Games, is a mostly one man show who have been working on the project for the last 3 years, aiming for the game to be available in late 2015 on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.

If you want to check out more of the game, head over Ghost Song’s website.

Note: This preview was written due to a beta code supplied by the developer. 

8 Things When Playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt That Left Me Wanting More


Last week we FINALLY got our hands on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. After checking it out at E3 multiple times by various writers of the site and myself having a hands off presentation late last year, when I received the email to finally have 3-4 hours of this game in front of me I was super excited. There’s so much content in this game and it’s currently finished, it just has 4 months of refinements to be made to be the best god damn game it can be.

To which I totally agree with, with the way that 2014 ended after multiple games required large downloadable patches to fix various problems, I’m happy to let CD Projekt Red take time to fine out as many bugs as possible. This is a large game and there is a lot to see and do that it would take players at least 100+ hours to explore and do everything. With there being so much that I played in the short 4 hours I thought I’d do a small list of some of the better things that kept me wanting to play more of this game.

1: Horseback riding on your trusty stead, Cockroach (Roach)

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What’s that over there? Let’s go check it out. God no. No! That was a bad idea. Run! RUN! Pretty much any time I rode Roach through the woods and somehow came across a pack of White Wolves or a dormant Bear. This is what players will spend most of their time doing in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Riding around on your trusty stead coming across wild animals and beasts of the wilderness, finding hidden caves, or certain areas of interest with hidden monsters, riding through random towns and swiftly sword-slashing enemies from the comfort of your horse.

The developer were nice enough to check out Ard Skellig on Skellige, and let me tell you it’s beautiful. Easily the largest of the islands there is so much to explore. It’s majestic riding Roach around and witnessing the extremely large draw distance. On the PS4 it is seriously impressive, and almost maxed out on a PC running on a 4K LG TV is simply put, beautiful. I’m in love with this game and honestly don’t know how I’ll wait 4 more months to play it.

Whilst the game still has 4 months of refinement, Roach wasn’t exactly the trusty horse you would expect. He’d randomly pop his head into conversations making for hilarious moments of laughter, he’d handle like a boat sometimes and other times would somehow find himself stuck between objects needing you to lost sight of him to respawn him. He’s got some bugs (No puns intended) still but at the call of a whistle he’ll be by your side. You’ll be spending a lot of time with Roach on your travels and he’ll definitely come in handy in various situation during combat with NPC’s in some areas and overall travel.

2: Wasting even more time on the Quest Board

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Most of your time apart from doing the main storyline and wandering large islands, will be spent completing quests you’ve undertaken from the Quest Board found in most villages/towns. In White Orchard, this particular board contained a Witcher contract as well as a few basic tasks.

The one that I selected was to find a villagers missing brother. After chatting to him he told me that his brother would lay in the aftermath of a small battle with the Black Ones and he’d be recognisable via a small white flower that would be marked on his shield. If his body was charred or missing, his dog would be able to pick up his scent and track where his body may lay. Using Witcher Sense to find these shields, the dog got whiff of his owners scent and I followed him to a small little shack in the middle of the woods where the villagers brother lay barely alive.

Another quest involved a Witcher contract, where a Noonwraith had been terrorizing a well in a near by site. The villager that had put up the contract feared that this Noonwraith would soon kill his daughter and requested the Witcher destroy it. In order to further identify what was keeping this Noonwraith trapped in the world, we needed to use Witcher sense and find any item of relevance that may have belonged to this bride to be. After finding a journal beside a large pool of blood, Geralt found out that this bride had been murdered alongside her husband.

Finding some blood stained hand marks on the door leading to the well, I then checked out the well where I found a body hung by the neck with the rope tied tightly to the well. Pulling the corpse up from the well, Geralt realised that it had been missing an arm, an arm that could potentially house the missing item binding the Noonwraith. Jumping in the well, I recovered the bracelet and begun the ceremony to burn the corpse and release this spirit.

Angered by what I was doing the Noonwraith decided to harm me and a battle entailed.

3: Using Witcher sense to highlight items of interest during quests and random shenanigans

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As outlined during the Noonwraith Witcher contract, Witcher sense isn’t limited to when the game asks you to use it. You can activate it at any time you wish in hopes to find anything worth your while. Looting corpses, chests, finding relevant items during missions, or investigating scenarios like the picture above. It will come in handy and be used heavily when needing to find an item that’s been described to you.

If you’re short on supplies needed for your Alchemy then loot corpses or chests and you might find what you want. Many games have similar character powers that can highlight certain items, but coupled in with the rich backstory that CD Projekt Red have injected into The Witcher 3, I feel that this is the most fun I’ve had using this ability. Learning how one died, or what may have happened whilst listening to Geralt talk is orgasmic to the ears. Seriously, I LOVED listening to that husky voice of his  when he’d come across something of relevance. Players that wish to take their time and explore every little thing in this game will be using Witcher Sense a lot.

4: Monster Hunting legendary Slavic Beasts then claiming their limbs as proof of your victory

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After the opening cinematic and tutorial level, It all started when Vesimir and Geralt were riding to the town of White Orchard when they came across and helped an accurate Stephen Baldwin look-a-like with a horrible Dumb & Dumber Lloyd Christmas hair cut from the claws of a terrifying Griffin chowing on its dead horse. With no active contract on the Griffin yet, Geralt had no choice but to continue to White Orchard and ask around in search of Yennefer. Of course during the natural course of progression, Geralt found out that there indeed WAS a contract on the Griffin.

Whilst this was a quest tied into the main storyline it still involved the same mechanics that you’ll enforce in Monster Hunting quests. You’ll be required to seek out NPC’s who have either seen or encountered the said beast. Investigate various aspects to how it feeds, acts, or where it frequents. In the case of the Griffin, Geralt was required to obtain a certain type of material that would have a strong enough smell to attract the Griffin out into an open area.

On top of that we also checked out a small camp where a group of Nilfgaardian soldiers have been killed by the Griffin. Using Witcher sense to investigate what had happened, I found a trail of blood that led me through the woods to a small cliff where I had found the bodies of the 3 soldiers and a dead Griffin. It added another layer of depth to these random characters and my hunt to kill this elusive Griffin.

Other monster hunter quests will definitely involve this same typoe of structure but they may sprawl hours and require multiple parts to complete. If they’re as satisfying and finally confronting the Griffin and slaying it then I’m all for distractions. After watching multiple videos of the game more than 6 months ago a lot has changed.

5: Using the Beastiary for rich and deep history about encountered monsters

Primarily the inventory menu system for your bag items, equipped items and more.

When it comes to killing various monsters in the world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, apart from your sword the beastiary will be crucial in your success. In this sub-menu you’ll have the ability to read up on every encountered beasts and learn of it’s rich history as well as the most important items required in dealing the most damage when encountering them. Some monsters will require you to use your alchemy and create various potions or oils that increase attack or do a certain type of damage.

Certain signs will wield better chances of landing a blow and so forth. It’s critical that with a game of this magnitude that combat isn’t the sole part of your enjoyment but learning about characters and enemies alike.

With the battle against the Noonwraith, I had no idea how to physically damage it because it was a physical entity. Once I had throroughly read the Noonwraith entry in the Beastiary, I knew exactly how to damage it and ensure victory. The only way to achieve this was to place a Yrden sign on the ground, lure the Noonwraith into it, and start attacking her when she became physical.

This would only be temporary as once the sign disappeared or she walked out of it she’d revert back to her original form. If you don’t frequently use the beastiary, you’ll find yourself dieing a lot from lack of knowledge. It doesn’t necessarily make the game easier, so don’t fret if you think that.

6: Following random NPC’s and seeing what they do throughout the day

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This is seriously amazing.

For such a large world each NPC you encounter has a pre-determined life cycle (I know, you’r thinking pre-determined, but hear me out). They’ll wake up in the morning do what they do, then at night either socialise with friends or go home and sleep. You’ll see a Shepard herd his sheep across the field or fend away Siren’s trying to eat them one morning, or the next you may not see him at all and just witness the majestic sunrise in front of you.

When it thunderstorms and rains heavily most NPC’s will run inside their homes for safety.

It’s awesome seeing that this is a living and breathing world where most actions have a reaction. You can’t go into a village and slaughter everyone so don’t get that excited for freedom, but during the main storyline you’ll be plagued with some decisions that’ll affect the outcome of a town. As witnessed by the Leshen monster hunt, siding with one group of villagers could result in the town becoming overrun and slaughtered hours into the game. Upon re-visiting the town would be a wasteland of bodies and burnt down houses. Certain NPC’s may now be mourning at their losses during the day, and disappear during the night.

7: Anytime NPC’s like THIS guy picked a fight with Geralt, It’s beautiful

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There are certain characters in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that don’t like Witcher’s at all. As witnessed in White Orchard, upon entering a local bar to ask around for Yennefer, some NPC’s expressed disgust when approached by Geralt. Players can coerce there minds into playing nice with Geralt if a conversation interaction is available, but it doesn’t change their overall tone.

When I had finished with my questions in the bar and needed to head out to the garrison to further push along the story a few NPC’s had taken it upon themselves to think they could force me to leave, which for Geralt was of course not an option. Cue a short conversation tree where I can initiate the fight and off we were in an good ol’ 3 vs 1 fist fight. What was interesting here was that Roach was tied up on a nearby fence and any time an enemy approached from behind, Roach would swiftly kick them into oblivion and knock them out. Allowing you to easily win the fight with a slight advantage.

I’m not sure how much more intense interactions like this become, but if this were any indication then they would be a lovely distraction from the main quest. It incorporates combat, dialogue that provides some chuckles and conversational trees. Everything that makes this game so appealing and changes things up so that it’s never stale. If you loved the conversational tree in the Mass Effect series and you’ve never played The Witcher you’ll love it.

If you’ve played both then feel safe knowing that in this game anything you say can lead in any direction.

8: Picking fights with multiple enemies resulted in sheer brutality and fun

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This what you’ve all come here to read, how good is the combat. Well let me tell you, it’s DAMN good! Whilst not as difficult as Dark Souls or The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, it still provides a decent enough difficulty that players will need to carefully enter battles with multiple ghouls, wolves, bears, etc… Whilst being a Witcher does grant you certain powers, do not always rely on them to get you out of sticky situations. Some enemies are more difficult to defeat and the Igni sign won’t really do much for you.

When taking on 4 or 5 Ghouls at once learn to dodge and roll using B/Square. It’s easily the most crucial game mechanic you’ll need to know and saves you most of the time in combat. The one downside to the roll feature is that, instead of a double tap it requires you to hold down the button for a second or two before it registers. When you’re low on health and forget to hold the button down it could result in death and redoing the section again.

I’m not sure if it’ll get changed when the game is released, but it’s the only real quarrel I have with combat. Assigning a Sign from the Sign wheel is mapped via the left bumper or L1. In this sub-menu time slows down to hopefully give you enough time to decide what to use and equip it. Enemies will still be able to attack you and the game doesn’t completely pause so in the thick of battle it is crucial you know exactly what to use. Using the right bumper or R1 allows players to use the sign in combat.

These aren’t unlimited uses that can be spammed as once you’ve used a sign you’ll need to wait for your stamina to replenish before throwing down a Yrden trap.

Players have the ability to do normal attacks as well as strong sword attacks, which if timed correctly can give Geralt a flurry of well executed slashes on enemies. They don’t necessarily do more damage but the animations are smooth. Geralt isn’t invincible during these attacks so players need to meticulously decide on how to approach groups of enemies. Players can parry/counter attacks and they have a split second before an enemy lands an attack to parry. There are slight visual cues as to when you can perform these so always be alert during battle.

Health regeneration can be obtained via eating edibles purchased from merchants, whilst the description states that during battle they cannot be consumed and regenerate health, I found myself quickly scoffing down some bread which funnily enough during combat did actually give me health.

OXCGN Plays: What’s new in The Sims 4 Outdoor Retreat?  


The Sims 4 Outdoor Retreat came to us without much fanfare. There were rumours, and 3 days later… BAM! We were hit with the game’s first DLC since release. Dubbed as a ‘Game Pack,’ it appears that this content sits somewhere between the classic Stuff and Expansion packs; more interactive than a stuff pack, not quite as fleshed out as an expansion pack.

Outdoor Retreat gives us a World Adventures style world that our Sims can vacation in. You can’t just travel there as you can between the two existing worlds, but you can fork out a minimum of 110 simoleons per night and travel to Granite Falls. This new world is no copy-pasted mess made to save money and rip us of 30 bucks. It’s a beautiful, expansive forest, which acts as a giant “neighbourhood.” Each individual lot in the world requires loading, but all… yes all, of the spaces surrounding and including your loaded lot is traversable.

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Outdoor Retreat also comes with a surprising selection of clothes and hairstyles, more than we’d ever get out of fully-fledged Sims 3 Expansion packs. There’s over 130 new items in the pack including fully functional tents, outhouses, information desks, instruments, fire pits, camper chairs, and more. There’s even a bear costume that makes you a sight to fear by all but the bravest townsfolk.

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For the price EA asks, they’re delivering a fair chunk of content. With more items and clothing than comes shipped with some previous expansion packs, including new gameplay unfound in stuff packs, it’s well worth the buy. This could be as far as our Sims vacation, or it could be establishing the foundations of the most ambitious vacation expansion of the series.

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Time will tell what will come in the first expansion pack. Will it be an extension of what we’ve seen in Outdoor Retreat? Will it be a return to a cult favourite like pets or open for business? Will we see something entirely new for the series? I personally cannot decide which I want more.

PICKS OF PAX – Indie Edition


The Best Things About PAX Aus!

With all the huge titles about to debut, its easy to forget about the wealth of incredible and unique indies out now, coming soon and in early access. I’d love to list all the games I played on show at PAX Australia, but here’s some of my favourites direct from the show floor.

Never Alone – Upper One Games

Never Alone is a unique game that puts you in the shoes of Nuna, a young Alaskan girl. With a newly befriended arctic fox, the two of you set off on a tale based in Alaskan culture to find the source of a never-ending blizzard.

This game has an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic and does things only a few games have even attempted, immortalising a culture and their history, while showcasing it to and educating an audience that may never have experienced it before. The game plays as a puzzle platformer akin to Limbo or Braid with a co-op aspect, but also takes inspiration from some of the recent UbiArt Framework titles, Valiant Hearts and Child of Light in its approach to narrative. Another interesting factor of Never Alone is that each of the collectibles in game unlocks a small documentary style video relevant to its place in the game, giving cultural insight from the Inuit people that expands and contextualises what you’re experiencing at that moment.

Never alone launches on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on November 18 as a download only product from the digital stores. You can read more about it here. It’s an exciting new step for games, and it’s co-op features make it perfect for playing with a friend, family member, or even on date night!

Screencheat – Surprise Attack

Screencheating isn’t cheating right? It’s a legitimate strategy!

Screencheat keeps this philosophy at it’s core, creating a four person multiplayer game where you’re all invisible and the only way to shoot each other is by watching other players screens to track them down. The game plays surprisingly well, after one or two matches you really get a feel for the way it works – it has this real sense of nostalgia about it with quite a unique spin. The weapons you can wield in game are as zany as the concept, with electro-crossbows, a blunderbuss and even a hobby horse which allows you to charge into enemies. There is a lot of fun and laughs to be had here, a game that can bring even strangers together in a tense and fun match of old school inspired shooting.

Screencheat is available now for PC on Steam, GOG and the Humble Store. You can find those links and read up on the game here. So what are you waiting for? Grab a few friends and settle in for some seriously entertaining multiplayer sessions!

Submerged – Uppercut Games

Imagine the world of Wind Waker combined with that of Lara Croft. Throw in some survival aspects and you have the basis for Submerged, a narrative driven exploration game in a sunken wasteland.

The game starts with a young girl and a young boy in a boat, sailing amongst sunken buildings. You play as the girl, Miku, and carry the boy, Taku, to safety in a ruined clock tower, then begin to search for supplies and an explanation of where you’ve found yourself. After sailing around for a little while I knew this was a world I wanted to get lost in. The environments in this game lend themselves perfectly to the premise, blending mystery with a sense of adventure. The story is one which unfolds the more you play, taking you on a journey of discovery with the protagonist. This really looks to be an ambitious project, one which will be very exciting to dive into when it releases.

Submerged is due to be released in 2015. You can follow its progress for more information on Uppercut Games’ Development Blog.

Expand – Cjohnson Games

Expand is a ‘meditative’ game that follows a small, black square through an ever unfolding circular labyrinth, and strangely enough, manages to be one of the most powerful games on the market.

As you move about this evolving worrld, paths and arcs unfold and shift in quite an evocative manner. It’s one of those things you could watch for hours, with new and unique forms shifting out of the humble sphere. Add to this a truly incredible soundtrack and short, simple phrases and the game becomes a much deeper experience, hinting at higher meaning and allowing you to relate this small square’s journey to your own life experience. It’s simple, tranquil and ultimately emotionally resonant, and I’m sure each player will have new and unique experiences when playing it.

Expand is set to release sometime in 2015, and you can follow updates on the title here. The game will also ship with a level editor, something that personally I’m pretty excited to play around with myself.

Metrocide – Flat Earth Games

Metrocide is like old school Grand Theft Auto and Bladerunner had a baby. A pixel art, kickass baby.

As a famed contract killer you must navigate through this dark futuristic world, avoiding enemies like gangs and cops as you hunt down your targets. Permadeath is present here, making all your movements and actions even more important if you don’t want to wind up back at the start. The top down view and visual style really allow the tone of the game to come through without being over-complex, making way for a game that’s challenging but also a lot of fun. Fans of action-stealth games or anything retro inspired should really give this one a go.

Metrocide is out on Steam Early Access right now, which you can find here. You can keep up with the game’s progress on Steam or on the official website.

So there you have it, a few of my personal favourite indie titles from PAX Australia this year. There are countless more exciting and awesome indies out there, don’t forget to check out what else was on offer – and if I’ve missed your favourite please let me know in the comments or on social media!

Jayden Perry ©2014

Eat. Sleep. Train. Repeat and more in The Sims 4


Late last week EA Australia held a preview event for The Sims 4 ahead of its official release this week. Being granted full access to the games content meant for some outrageous scenarios to be played out in the few hours that we had our hands on with the game.

With some opting to create Sad Keanu Reeves and Sad Freddie Mercury, I decided to create myself and do just about everything that I do on a daily basis in my own life. I must say that the broadness of The Sims 4 is astounding, and you can just about do anything you please in this game. I’ve never played any of the previous Sims titles myself, so I wasn’t exactly expecting to be able to do anything I wanted.

Whilst we’ll go into more detail about the activities in our review, to give you a little bit of a teaser, you can choose to become criminal as your occupation, train at the gym when you desire, play games on your PC (When you become rich enough to afford one), go for a run, become an astronaut, speak to random people in the street, go drinking, partying, sing karaoke and heck, you can even become friends with Death himself, the Grim Reaper.

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Rocket man or woman

Whilst the game does require a certain amount of micromanagement for your Sims, they’ve become more realistic in the sense that they can now multitask and cater to their own needs. They can eat when they’re hungry, talk to a sim sitting down whilst they’re standing, sleep when they’re tired, take a bath if they stink and interact with other sims depending on their mood. No more do you need to individually monitor each sim and do the required work to keep them going.

Now you can sit back put the game in fast forward and watch them go about their business. You can see a sim and decide whether they’re happy or not, as the game features hundreds of new emotions which will be showcased by each sim.

Players can now build their sims house room by room if they wish, and add in furniture until they’ve dried up their pool of money. Couches, beds, computer tables, chairs, sinks., baths everything they want to add, they can. The game seems to have become a lot more personal in that when creating a sim, players can choose personalities, characteristics, walking styles, personal traits, everything to make their as unique as possible and as close to their real life counterpart.

It’s an interesting trade off as consumers are annoyed that the developers have removed certain features and functionality to include these new ones, but I would assume that moving forward they’ll come to appreciate and enjoy what’s been added to the game.

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Sims can die, set the house on fire, live in their own filth, complain about their surroundings, just about everything you can imagine with your mind, you or another sim can do it. I threw myself in the deep end when I decided to create 4 sims and put them under the same roof, as managing them all requires an astounding amount of work. Sure, I left some to do what they wanted and go about their lives, but that resulted in some huge set backs not only for my sim, but others as well.

One of my sims fate was decided when they weren’t able to make it to the bathroom in time and soiled them self. Becoming so embarrassed by the situation, they didn’t manage to clean up their own doing and perished in the lounge room, unexpectedly. Saddened by the death of a roommate, my other sims felt down. They required help, whether from a stranger on the phone, a friend beside them or a random person on an internet chat forum.

Constant monitoring was then required for the remaining sims as I didn’t want any to suffer the same fate and perish in their own filth. One even managed to become friends with the Grim Reaper and called him on a regular basis to chat. Whilst another sim, had made a friend at a bar and had them come over to hang out when ever possible. In the few hours I had the pleasure of playing The Sims 4, it did indeed feel like a much more personal game.

Spending time choosing personalities for each sim and making them do what made them happy, was a satisfying experience.

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Play me off, Johnny

Project Cars Preview: The Dark Souls of Racing Games


Prepare to Spin Out. A Lot.

Imagine you’re playing a game of chess. You look at the board, carefully considering your next move; do you go on the offense, or do you hold your ground? You have to be aware of the moves ahead too, thinking about what your opponent will do next.

Project Cars has this feel to it, it’s not an arcade racer where if an opponent tries to shift it’s placement on the road you can just shunt it away with ease, try that here and you’ll likely lose the race. Instead it becomes a game of speed versus control, defence versus offence where every move you make can make or break your racing time.

Project CARS

I was shown two different versions of the game; the closed beta on PC to demonstrate the game’s features, options and menus, and the PS4 version for hands on racing.

When you load up the game you’re greeted with a gorgeous cinematic showcasing the game’s cars and tracks, and soon after you’re sitting on the menu screen. From here, you can access the game’s single player, multiplayer and social based game types.

A notable feature of the game that really took me by surprise was the level of customisation available to gamers. You can choose a difficulty level when you start that ranges from the usual easy to expert, but once that’s chosen there’s so many more options to play with.

You can tweak just about anything, from those that impact your own driving to the AI that race around the track with you. Traction, driving assists and the racing line can be a real help when starting to learn how the game works, then gradually turned down or off to transition into the heart of the challenge.

Project CARS

Enemy AI can also be tweaked with a large list of sliders for more of a challenge or to train against a certain type of racer, improving your strategy. For instance, you can up the defensiveness and blocking of the AI’s so you can find ways to get around enemies that like to block your overtaking online. It’s a really interesting system with a seemingly unending amount of possible combinations due to the sliders ranging from 0 to 100 for each characteristic. I feel like these options will work to actively make the game both more accessible for newcomers whilst still providing an intense challenge for the veterans.

In terms of cars and tracks, racing fans will not be disappointed at all, with over fifty tracks and sixty cars coming in the full release. The Playstation 4 demo only includes one track and one car for the purposes of showing the core gameplay, but the beta contains much more. Choosing a car and a track are likely something players will spend a lot of time deliberating upon, before hitting the grid for the real challenge.

Realistic driving is nothing new, in fact game developers have been striving to create a realistic race experience since some of the first car games were made. In my mind, Project Cars takes this to a new level, providing a realistic driving experience that’s nothing short of punishing.

Project CARS

When I first pressed the accelerator at the start of the race it felt like the stock standard sort of start to a race. I had been told to pay close attention to the brake lights of the cars ahead of me and to follow their line to get a feel for the track, passing the first corner with the aid of some gentle braking and turning. Upon reaching the second corner however, trouble struck as I didn’t brake quite early enough, finding my wheel on the grass off the edge of the tarmac. In Project Cars, things like this will cause the whole car to start to spin (due to the loss of traction from a wheel) and normal arcade racing tricks will only end with your car spun out, way behind the pack.

Instead, especially to begin with, you really need to take it slow and watch carefully, thinking about when to move and remembering how the AI brake and control. If you take the time to do this you’ll find your feet in the game pretty fast. After more restarts than I care to admit I was easily keeping up with the larger group, working out the best times to make a break for that next position and when to hang back watch for the other cars’ next moves.

I found the game incredibly satisfying, even in those restarts, because in those early tries I was actually learning about how the game worked and controlled. I can see this early difficulty proving a barrier to some, or it may become painful to those not accustomed to heavily realistic racing games, but ultimately with the assists most players should get a good grasp of the game after minimal time playing.

Outside of the games mechanics, the attention to detail and presentation are another place where Project Cars shines. As the cars race around the track you can see the suspension at work and leaves blow off the track and past your windshield. Rain and dynamic weather events change up the feel of the race, and the surrounding environments look gorgeous as you fly by. From the presentation of the cars to the stunning backdrops, the game looks great on the next-gen consoles.

Project CARS

I’ve heard Project Cars described as the ‘Dark Souls’ of racing games, and that description rings true; the game is punishing in all the right ways, with a difficulty curve to match, but it’s also beyond rewarding when it all clicks in that moment and you pull of the perfect turn. I’m not sure how all racing fans will fare when they get their hands on it, but the kickstarter success ‘Slightly Mad Studios’ has created will surely push, challenge and delight fans when the game hits shelves.

Project Cars has been localised for release in Australia by Bandai Namco and will be releasing in November for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC, with a Wii U Version coming in 2015. The game will also support VR headsets, with the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus confirmed already.

Project CARS

Jayden Perry ©2014

BlockStorm Impressions: An FPS in the Block Renaissance


Blockstorm borrows heavily from the aesthetic of the recent block renaissance, whilst the game play is reminiscent of classic team based FPS games. If I was to draw an obvious comparison, I would say Blockstorm feels like a mash up of Minecraft and the original Team Fortress, and that isn’t a bad thing.

I had a lot of fun with Blockstorm when I gave it a quick spin. It was so nice to sink into a world where characters moved with a slipperiness long since removed from modern FPS games – where you could dig into an enemy base or brick up an opening to fortify a position. The character selection from the get-go features a large array of your standard military-looking grunts, and then there are the odd balls, naturally I chose to play as a Minotaur. Appearance seemingly has no effect on combat, so I was free to run around as a figure of Greek mythology, whilst my team mates donned Storm Trooper outfits and Daft Punk’s iconic helmets.

There is a sense of fun that pervades a game like this: the seriousness of Call of Duty or Battlefield melts away when there is no voice over telling you to push harder or kill that last man – the game become about playing rather than competing. That is not to say I didn’t have some heated matches, but without that built in tone I felt less combative when I was taken out by a foe, and I got my ass handed to me a few times. One player waited whilst I bricked up the entrance to my base then knifed me and finished the job sealing himself in the bunker and winning the match by taking the base. It was brilliant – and made me really consider the potential of this game.

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The levels in this game are expansive, there is a huge area to cover, complete with lots of buildings and wilderness to traverse. The colour palette is varied and bright – the creators have put in a lot of effort to make sure that there are plenty of different textures making up the world. The inclusion of 100 blocks to your loadout gives you a finite number to play with as you build walls or steps or anything else you can manage in the world.

You also have a trusty shovel which brings destructibility to the world, but also the ability to dig fox holes and carve out sniper posts. I really wish games like Battlefield would incorporate a shovel feature, they spend so much money on building engines with real world destruction, and yet you can’t dig in on a beach – go figure.

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The game modes are your standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Assault. I spent most of my time playing Assault, which places a red and a blue team against each other – one attacking and one defending a base. The matches were fast and fun, however, the respawn time for defenders was punishing – 17 seconds is way too long to keep someone out of a game, especially on the smaller stages. It just made it too easy for the other team to sweep in and take the base. Other than this, the modes work well, they don’t reinvent the wheel but they aren’t meant to. The building mechanics are where this game will shine.

BlockStorm

Unfortunately, no one I was playing with was well versed in construction so the only blocks laid down were in the form of walls and basic steps, however once some seasoned builders find their way into this game I foresee some interesting traps popping up during matches.

In the interest of brevity I’ll leave it there. The game is promising, fun and cheap at $5.99 for a single pack or $9.99 for a double pack, and with the publishers throwing in the soundtrack for all purchasers, it is more than worth the price of admission.