Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

The Game

Marvels’ Guardians of the Galaxy is an 3rd person action game developed by Eidos-Montréal with some interesting combat and puzzle mechanics. Fight as the 5 guardians and utilise their unique abilities to progress the story and fight off your enemies. The game sees the iconic Peter Quill, Drax, Gamora, Rocket and everyone’s favourite Groot appear in a story based just after Thanos’ end and storyline. The Guardians quickly end up triggering an unfortunate series of events that sees them let loose an ominous world destroying energy upon the galaxy. They quickly get themselves into even more trouble with the Nova Corps. As the team embarks on the adventure Rocket and Peter end up in a bit of a quarrel. As the team manages its dynamics and learns to work together effectively they also work their way around the galaxy making new friends and enemies. Characters such as Lady Hellbender, Mantis, Adam Warlock and Cosmo the Spacedog make an appearance to help the Guardians on their way.

Each character has 4 unique abilities that can be unlocked and used in combat. They will also have various skills that can be used outside of combat in order to traverse the world. This makes for quite an interesting gameplay experience. Different skills will synergise differently, making for some very exciting combinations and combat mechanics. Overall the combat is quite fun, Peter makes use of various elements that different enemies are weak to. The others make use of AoE or CC moves or alternatively focussed heavy hitting moves. The boss battles prompt some thinking and interesting combinations of characters, overall it’s not difficult, but reasonably challenging – making it quite fun.

Worth it?

The game will take you around 17 hours to complete, currently the game will set you back around £20-25 on most gaming sites, up to £60 on the PlayStation store (or free if you have PS Plus Extra). The game is a great addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise keeping the good humour, great music and awesome characters. The environments, worlds and monsters are all beautifully modelled. The rather basic combat is made much more engaging with the different character abilities and the different elements that Peter unlocks throughout the story. There are times where the signposting could be a bit better and it’s possible to get a little confused or stuck (especially the Creepy caverns), but as long as you keep a look out for interactive objects and listen to the dialogue or prompts from your teammates you should be ok.

While the game is very linear the choices offer some small variations in how exactly the story pans out – most often offering shortcuts and quicker ways out of certain situations or some alternative dialogue. Overall the game lasts around 25-30 hours, it doesn’t really offer great replay value other than for completionism, it does offer a new game plus mode for an extra challenge, but realistically you will likely only play it through once. The game is definitely worth playing, especially if you can pick it up on sale (avoid paying £60.00) or free from PS Plus and even more so if you’re a fan of the franchise.

Tips

  • Unlock the visor ability to see /show spare parts as early as possible
  • Keep a look out and destroy the dark material whenever you see it
  • Decisions don’t really impact the overall game, but can sometimes make it a bit quicker to get through a certain area, depending on the choice you make. Overall however the game is quite linear.
  • Make use of elemental weaknesses – you will tear through enemies a lot easier if you hit them with the right element from your guns
  • Look around and behind you when you start/enter an area for spare parts or unlockable skins
  • Unlock the ability to scan enemies in combat – it will tell you what the best approach to taking them down is and of any weaknesses
  • Look out for things you can use in combat that are triggered by your team mates
  • Try to fill stagger meters for easier kills

Useful Links

Maneater

The Game

Maneater is the spiritual successor to Hungry Shark that we’ve always wanted. Developed by Tripwire interactive, the game lets you take control of a mutant shark and wreak havoc on the local wildlife and humans in a satirical version of Florida where the waters are rife with toxic waste and pollution. The game is narrated by comedian by Chris Parnell, which makes for some fairly comic moments.

You start out the game as a full grown shark on the hunt for some human flesh and quickly encounter your arch nemesis – Scaly Pete. A rather absurd character Scaly Pete is a professional shark hunter who you engage in battle with and sadly defeats you, only to find a baby shark inside your stomach, which manages to eat his arm and escape. This is when you really begin your adventure as this newly born baby shark. You quickly learn how to eat and survive in the harsh environments around you. You can upgrade your shark and it’s abilities in mysterious caverns marked by fairly lights.

As you progress through the regions you take on bigger and bigger wildlife and you can also eat your way up the list of Shark Hunters in order to unlock other special upgrades. You quickly begin to realise that this is no ordinary shark and that you are actually creating somewhat of a monster.

Worth it?

Overall gets repetitive towards the end, but still quite satisfying to play. The game is very easy to complete and if you’re playing on PlayStation, it’s one of the easiest Platinum Trophies you can get. There are various CD Keys where you can get the game for around £5 or up to £20. It’s free with PS Plus Extra. It’s hard to justify more than £10 for this game, especially without the CD as it’s quite basic and quite repetitive, it’s also extremely easy to complete. However when it comes to senseless violence and being a fun sandbox game, Maneater really excels. Simple concept, crazy upgrades and Chris Parnell’s narration make this a very amusing game that will keep you busy for around 8-12 hours depending on whether your 100% it. The Truth Quest DLC only adds an extra hour or so of gameplay.

Tips

  • You can explore all landmarks in the first areas quite easily – do this to gain access to the Shadow upgrades
  • There’s a sewer pipe with a grate (Teen) connecting Fawtick Bayou to Dead Horse Lake – I had issues finding a way out of the first zone as I just kept missing this
  • The bone build is best for taking on boats
  • Don’t be afraid to mix and match various body parts – the shadow jaws, electric fins and bone for the rest make a nice versatile build
  • For the final battle with Scaly Pete use the electric fins to dodge and disable his torpedoes – this makes them very easy to pick up and tail whip right back at his ship
  • You can always hide in a grotto, no one will try to get you there
  • When taking on tougher enemies try to avoid their attacks and study their moves to find an opening during which you can attack them
  • Once you’re an adult you can grab and fling stuff with your tail whip – a carefully aimed such shot can open gates or be used to hit targets/prey

Useful Links

Stray

The Game

Stray developed by Annapurna Interactive is an adventure puzzle game that has been in the works for some time. Before you proceed, this review may contain some light spoilers – so if you want to fully fresh experience avoid the screenshots and maybe go play it first. Announced a couple years ago, the game really got cat lovers around the world hyped. The game lets you take control of an adorable kitty in a post apocalyptic world where humans no longer exist. After a misadventure with your fellow kittens you end up deep underground in a forgotten structure where you find some rather strange larvae (known as Zurks) and a hidden city of friendly robots. On your adventure you befriend a little drone, known to you as B12. The drone seems to remember a time when humans existed and the things they used to do. The robots in the city, known as Companions have adapted to the underground way of life, but some of them yearn to return to the Outside once more and to see the sky once again.

As you find out more about this world and the Companions you are tasked with collecting various items, exploring parts of the city and ultimately making your way to the outside. The core gameplay loop focuses on really satisfying puzzles that are delivered in a variety of ways: from jumping (parkour or is it catcour), to following cables, pulling levers, stealthily avoiding enemies or completing tasks for various Companions. The story takes you on a captivating adventure in a beautifully designed and crafted world with amazing attention to detail.

Worth it?

While it’s not the longest of games (first playthrough may take around 4-5 hours depending on how much you mess around and explore) the game certainly delivers in charm and story. The beautiful world, satisfying puzzles and amazing story will make you want to complete it while at the same time wishing it doesn’t end so you can explore and learn more. The game does also autosave quite frequently which allows for shorter play-sessions. The simple controls and short playtime also mean that you could hand it to a “non-gamer” and let them enjoy the experience (although they may need a hand with the Zurks). The game will currently set you back around £25, but I expect we will see it in some sales later this year, but even at this price it is worth getting. For PlayStation extra members it is included in the available games at no extra cost. There are currently some speculative rumours around an Xbox release, but it will be some time away with the earliest being October, some estimates even saying 2023.

Overall Stray is a beautiful game, with a captivating story and really satisfying gameplay. It goes above and beyond being simply a cat simulator (although it does that pretty well). It is a pretty unique game in terms of allowing players to see the world form the perspective of a cat which will make it a firm favourite amongst cat lovers (maybe also dog lovers alike). It is really hard to fault the game and it even has a bit of replay value in the music sheet or plant collection side quests and the memory collection element. The game also provides a solid base for the speed-running community and it will be interesting to watch some of those attempts as get better at it. I’d highly recommend checking this game out.

Tips

  • Follow red painted air conditioning units with orange streamers
  • Follow orange lights, cables, wires or arrows
  • You cannot go back for the music sheets after leaving the slums to go into the sewers
  • Hide in boxes to avoid sentinels, or in other areas where you break their line of sight
  • Scratch things when you can (pretty much anything that isn’t a carpet will lead to something)
  • The purple, yellow and red plants can all be found within Antvillage
  • Meow to distract/attract enemies
  • B12 can remind you of your current objective should you forget
  • Your backpack will light up if you can interact with nearby objects/NPCs
  • Interact with vending machines in order to be able to get all of the Barterman’s items
  • Talking to companions can give you hints or other objectives that will help you along the way

Useful Links

City Skylines: Airports

The Game

City Skylines: Airports is the 10th expansion pack for City Skylines published by Paradox Interactive. In this review I will just be discussing the DLC in isolation. Similarly to some of the previous DLCs released (Campus, Industries, Parklife) the game focuses on zoning new areas and levelling them up over time. As the name suggests this DLC focuses on airports. You get to zone out an airport area, which conveniently flattens the ground in the area (longer term City Skylines players will know the pain of flattening land to fit in an airport). Once an area has been dedicated for the airport you can choose from some basic airport components in 3 different styles. Using these modular components you build up the airport, adding terminals, runways, taxi roads, stands, parked airplanes, cargo planes and even hotels. There is a really nice range of cosmetic items to add and even some new public transport links that can go straight into your terminals – subway, train and busses – all with some new unique skins for the vehicles. Your airports will level up as more people use them and you will even be able to create your own airline charging extortionate prices.

Worth it?

The DLC will set you back around £10 on consoles with CD keys being available for PC around £5. You will get 3 new maps and the addition of the airport zones with loads of customisation options and new public transport skins. The game also comes with a handful of new achievements, which are pretty easy to complete.

Overall for £10 I cannot say this DLC is worth it. While the customisation options are nice and you can get some really cool looking airports, the money really just isn’t worth it. I opened up a fairly late game city, set up a couple airports and got all achievements in about 5 minutes of playing. Within 30 minutes I had the highest level airport. Aesthetically speaking the DLC does add a nice amount, but in terms of depth and playability there really isn’t much there to keep you in long term. Comparing to the other similar DLCs like Parklife and the Industries this one is quite lacking and a little bit disappointing. If on sale it does become a little bit more sensible so do look out for it on sale or pick up some discounted CD keys.

Tips

  • Metro station and Train station link directly to concourses
  • You only really need 1 runway per airport
  • Make sure your airplane taxi routes link up correctly in the one way system

Useful Links

Minecraft (Bedrock Edition) – Coming Back to Minecraft After 10+ years

The Game

Minecraft a game developed by Mojang needs little to no introduction. The game started in Alpha in 2010 and was officially released in 2011. There are technically two independent versions – Bedrock and Java edition, where Bedrock is the version available on all consoles, mobile and windows 10. Over the years the game has continuously been developed and grown far beyond what it was in those very early days. It still carries on growing even today with the recent 1.18 Caves and Cliffs update and the upcoming 1.19 Wild update.

If you haven’t played for as long as I have you really are in for a treat. The world generation, biomes, creatures, NPCs, crafting and literally every single element of the game has had some sort of addition or expansion over the years. There are new animals like pandas, bees, axolotls, alpacas and more. The Nether has been completely overhauled with new nether biomes and structures like bastions, there is more to the End than just the dragon – end cities allow for late game dungeons and loot to be obtained. Oceans have changed massively, sunken ships, buried treasures, corals, sea turtles, ruins, ocean monuments and elder guardians and many other additions have made the oceans of Minecraft a lot more interesting and worth exploring as much as any overworld biome. There are now various types of mountain, taiga forests, ice biomes. There are new types of caves and the world goes deeper than ever before.

Villagers were only just introduced when I last played Minecraft all those years ago and while initially they didn’t have much purpose, they are now an integral part to surviving. There are a variety of villages depending on the biome they spawn in, various villager professions, each with its own set of trades. Trading with villagers will level them up, unlocking new trade options – sometimes even allowing you trade for incredibly rare items. The villagers now also have enemies in the world, their evil counterparts – the illagers. These can spawn on patrol in the world, in woodland mansions, at pillager outposts or during raids. There are various types of illagers each with their own skills, weapons and abilities. There is also a sequence of events whereby killing an illager captain (gaining the Bad Omen status) and then walking into a village will trigger a raid by consecutives waves of illagers. Defeat the raid and you might get an amazing drop – the Totem of Undying (hold in your hand when you die to instantly respawn).

Worth it?

Generally speaking whichever version you may choose you will likely be spending anywhere from £10 to £20 for the game. There are various CD Key outlets offering lower prices too. What’s most important is to define that any platform other than desktop will be the Bedrock Edition of Minecraft. On PC you will have a choice between the original Java edition and Bedrock Edition. While the majority of the core game mechanics are the same between games, there are some very key differences in terms of mob spawning and various other niche elements that could potentially make all those tutorials for farms you are watching irrelevant to your version. The other very notable difference between the two is that on Java you will have access to endless free mods, texture packs and other community content. On Bedrock you will need to purchase Minecoins in order to buy the same types of things.

While on the one hand the store in Bedrock is a nice chance for content creators to get recognised and make money from their work it also takes away from so much that Minecraft originally was and feels like a bit of a cold attempt at squeezing more money out of the player. On consoles you cannot play split-screen unless the other player also has a purchased version/account on Minecraft – making local/offline couch co-op not an option, which was actually a major disappointment and feels like a bit of slap in the face. Changes are also being made to bring Java edition more in line with this, under the guise of improving player safety.

Overall it’s very difficult to fault Minecraft as a game – it really has withstood the test of time and coming back to it after being away for so long is like rediscovering something you loved as a kid which has kept growing and changing over all these years. The game has proven itself in terms of depth and potential and the continuous work on it means there’s always something to look forward to. If you want to lose potentially thousands of hours building and surviving in your very own Minecraft world, or last played it more than 5 years ago – then by all means give it a go.

Tips

  • Make a shield and equip it as soon as you have access to iron
  • Donkeys can be equipped with chests to help carry more
  • Animals can be leashed to fence posts
  • Scutes dropped from baby turtles can help make a helmet that will help you spend more time underwater
  • Mobs cannot spawn on bottom half slab blocks (or other non-whole blocks like rails, string, carpets)
  • Traveling 1 block in the Nether is equivalent to travelling 8 in the above world
  • Enable coordinates on Bedrock – make note/screenshots of coordinates you want to come back to
  • Keep a water bucket on you, it can be useful to go up/down into ravines or to put yourself out if you’re on fire
  • Mending is a great enchantment for your high-level gear – it will repair your equipment with exp
  • Automate things using redstone contraptions
  • You can reset villager trades by removing their work station and replacing it – once you have made a trade with a villager that will lock their trades in even if the work station is moved
  • Check a seed map to find out where various things in your world are located

Useful Links

GTA V Online: The Contract

The Game

Rockstar recently released another update for GTA V Online The Contract featuring Dr Dre himself. The DLC focuses around the new business (Agency) run by your character and Franklin from the GTA V story. The Agency offers up a bunch of new ways to make money and a series of VIP Contracts in which you focus on retrieving Dr Dre’s stolen phone, containing previously unreleased music. There are several types of normal contracts, varying in pay and difficulty – some will task your character with retrieving stolen valuables or vehicles, destroying caches, killing gang officers or protecting valuables. Each of these jobs can pay anywhere from around $30 000 to around $70 000.

In addition to these jobs, the update has also added payphone hits. A throwback to the original story mode and some of the older games, the player is tasked with carrying out hits against various VIP targets across the city. Each hit comes with a variety of ways in which it can be completed in order to gain the hit bonus, which massively increases the pay for the kill from $15 000 to a total of $85 000.

The Agency itself (which can be purchased from the Dynasty 8 site) comes with a couple of special rooms – an armoury allowing the purchase of specific items (like the taser) and a garage where cars can be customised with some of Imani’s special upgrades. The special vehicle upgrades include remote control over a car, various explosion methods and weapons too.

Worth it?

The DLC adds tons of new content from weapons to vehicles and clothes. The new missions offer an amazing way to make money as a solo player. All agency missions, contracts and hits can be completed solo in an invite only session, essentially making this an amazing single player DLC. The Agency will set you back a couple million dollars, but completing the Dr Dre story line will put $1M back into your account, so that alone makes it quite worth it. With a MK2 the contracts and hits are extremely easy to complete and will massively help you on your money grind. These missions may also come back as 2x or 3x weekly specials which offers up some great earning potential. The unreleased Dr Dre tracks which you then get to listen to and keep are also a really innovative approach to releasing music. My single biggest issue with the DLC is that the tour of Dre’s studio is a mission that requires two players and it seems near impossible to find a second if you don’t have any friends that play GTA V.

Tips

  • You can run over trolls for the payphone hit missions using a MK2
  • The Stone Hatchet (reward from Maude’s bounty hits) is very useful for a lot of the contracts and recovery missions as it will allow you to chain together kills and run through an area unharmed
  • There are some hits that require multiple players working for you
  • All DLC contracts and hits can be played in a Invite only (single player lobby)
  • Completing more contracts will increase the passive income of the agency (stored in the safe in your office) up to a max of $50 000 for every in game day
  • Purchasing the armory allows you to purchase the Stun Gun and the EMP Launcher
  • You can listen to Dr Dre’s tracks (after completing the quests and receiving the USB) from the Media Player radio station – you can select what it plays through the Inventory option in your context menu

Useful Links

Final Fantasy VII Remake

The Game

Final Fantasy VII Remake by Square Enix is a brilliant introduction to the Final Fantasy series for anyone who’s never played any of the other games in the series. The original game was released in 1997 and made quite the impression. 23 years later the remake version was released. It keeps much of the original story, modernises the visuals and and has a truly unique battle system.

The game is a JRPG with “turn based” strategy elements in the combat – they aren’t really turn based, but you can essentially pause time and pick a move to perform. During fights you will be battle using your basic and heavy attacks to fill your ATB gauge, once that’s filled you can essentially pause the game and choose from a variety of spells and abilities to perform on your enemies. This system is quite rewarding, and fun to use, the combat itself can be quite hard as you block and dodge attacks and spells. There are some truly epic boss fights and monsters in this game, becoming more and more powerful as the story progresses.

The story is based around a group of “eco-terrorists” attempting to take down the evil corporation Shinra that is destroying the planet by draining it of its magical life force – mako. It’s set in a steam-punk(ish) fantasy world and you play as Cloud, an ex-SOLDIER – as you find out that means you have some pretty unique combat skills and are generally quite powerful. You are a mercenary, but you find yourself helping out Avalanche (the eco-terrorists) and cultivating your friendships with the key characters of the game. The game is rich with amazing side characters and stories all set in a detailed semi-open world (zone/level-based).

Worth it?

The game has a gripping story that makes you want to keep playing for hours on end. The combat system is quite unique, although it can take some time to master blocking due to the fact that dodge can be somewhat unreliable. There are some truly epic boss fights and the game is visually stunning. Levels are generally quite linear (except the more notable districts). The game is exclusive to PlayStation and will set you back around £60 on the PlayStation store, so you may want to keep on the lookout for better deals or discounts. Admittedly it’s only a year old and has hours of gameplay for you – with side questing (which I highly recommend), it took me around 32 hours to complete the game.

Overall I’d highly recommend the game, especially for anyone who’s never played a Final Fantasy game – it turns out there’s actually little connecting the various games in the franchise story wise, so this is as good a game as any to jump into the series. The game offers a good challenge, hours of gameplay, a rewarding and unique combat system, stunning graphics and a compelling story.

Tips

  • Always have Materia equipped so that you can level them up – they increase their level simply for being equipped in battle
  • Get the Assess Materia as soon as you have an option to do the side quest for Chadley, which is basically one of the first side quests in the game
  • Use blue Materia in linked slots in order to enhance or interact with the other Materia – Magnify and Elemental are two of the more notable ones
  • Always be on the look out for hidden chests and destroy any Shinra boxes you encounter
  • Interrupt enemy spells by using spells or abilities on them while casting (while they have a red text above them)
  • You can reset your weapon points/upgrades by visiting Chadley
  • You can use healing spells outside of combat

Useful Links