The Crew 2

The Game

The Crew 2 is an open world racing game developed by Ivory Tower and published by Ubisoft. The game features 16 different types of races ranging from airplanes to dirt bikes to hovercraft and power boats. It takes place in a scaled down version of the United States and allows you to race in big cities or through the countryside and some of America’s most famous landmarks. There are hundreds of races to chose from, each with 3 difficulty settings as well. Completing races will award you with followers (essentially XP for levelling up) and new parts for your vehicle, allowing any vehicle to be upgraded and compete with other higher tier vehicles. You don’t need to be familiar with the first game in order to get stuck into this one. There is some loose story, which is basically irrelevant, although admittedly it has some pretty epic cinematic moments at times.

There are 4 main types of races – Street, Off-road, Freestyle and Pro Racing. Each of those has 4 sub-categories depending on the type of vehicle:

  • Street – street, drifting, drag, hypercars
  • Off-road – rally raid, motocross, rallycross, hovercraft
  • Freestyle – aerobatics, demolition derby, jet sprint, monster truck
  • Pro Racing – powerboat, air races, touring car, alpha grand prix

There are also Live Xtreme events – probably one of the games more unique and exciting features, in which you race in several disciplines with an almost seamless transition between vehicles. Once you have completed 50% of each race family’s races you can take on the boss for a chance to earn an ultimate vehicle. There are also hundreds of skill challenges and various other types of races available, including weekly events in which you compete for the highest score on a series of events against other players from around the world.

Worth it?

Overall the game is every completionist’s dream. With hundreds of races, challenges and vehicles to collect – it will keep you busy for a very long time. One criticism was that certain types of race had a lot less events compared to others – street races seem to vastly outnumber all other types of race and it would be nice to see a few more events for some of the more niche vehicles like monster trucks, motorbikes or hovercraft. While the open world is truly gigantic and there are quite a few events and challenges around it, it can feel a little too big and a bit empty at times. The always online mode of the game also means you can’t pause and walk away from a race because you will get kickedd from the server.

The weekly events give players a reason to keep returning to the game, giving it decent longevity (aside from a completionist approach to the game). There are also seasonal events with a new one being announced just a few days ago – adding new races and challenges to take on. The follower and rank system is a nice touch, allowing you to upgrade earnings or vehicle performance as you increase your rank. The full price game is not worth it by any means (over £40), however you can often find it on sale for as little as £6.99 for the base game, if you are on PS Plus Extra it is available for free. The game will keep you busy for a considerable time, especially if you’re a fan of racing games or a completionst.

Tips

  • Hold L1 & R1 (or equivalent) to reset your vehicle onto the road.
  • You receive car parts after each race so don’t rush to teleport away until you’ve received them.
  • You can spend skill points every time you increase your rank – invest in skills that gain you more bucks as much as possible.
  • Don’t spend money on vehicles in the early game and once you have amassed some wealth make sure you buy the vehicles you need for new race types first – aiming to have one of each vehicle as soon as possible.
  • The New York hypercar race pays the best, however also takes really long, the other money grinding option is the Uber Dam powerboat race, which is very quick to complete.
  • Remember to pull back on your joystick (tilt back) when using a boat to go at higher speeds, let go of this for more control and better steering.
  • Use nitro to recover from mistakes or in stretches when you can use a lot of it in one go.
  • You can get an overview of all completed and uncompleted races from the activity menu, which is easier to navigate than the map.
  • You can customise your racer’s outfit at Home.
  • When loot gets sent to your HQ mailbox you need to go to one of the 4 race types HQs (where you buy vehicles) and look for the mailbox section where your unclaimed loot is stored.
  • Once you’ve acquired good car parts you can start to scrap green and blue parts to generate spare parts, which can be used to tune top tier (yellow) car parts.

Useful Links

Planet Coaster – Console Edition

The Game

Planet Coaster developed by Frontier Developments was released in 2016 and saw a lot of success since then as a spiritual successor to RollerCoaster Tycoon. The game did so well it was followed up with Planet Zoo in 2019. As should be obvious from the title, the game is all about managing a theme park and building some truly amazing rollercoasters. The game’s campaign mode has 12 scenarios with 3 objectives in each. Generally this takes around 10-15 hours to complete, after which you can look at challenge mode maps where you have to manage your own park by starting out with a limited amount of cash and building up from there. Alternatively if you just want to mess around or build without the limitations of cash you can always try the sandbox mode.

The game offers a huge variety of of coasters and theming options. From classic wooden and children coasters all the way to high speed steel winged coasters with inversions and loops. The themes also include classics like pirate, adventure, spooky, sci-fi and festive. The theme editor allow for the creation of highly detailed and unique scenery, there is also a Frontier workshop showcasing some of the finest creations by other players that you can add to your own collection and use in your own parks. The workshop also features various parks and rollercoaster designs uploaded by others, however you may find that quite a few of these aren’t compatible with console due to the more limited performance.

Worth it?

Considering the game came out in 2016 it has held up very well and as the console version was a little more recent it will still set you back around £17-20 if you get it on sale. As for the PC version you can find CD Keys for around £5-10 which is definitely worth doing. The game is an amazing playground in which to let your creative juices flow. The editor allows for some truly awe-inspiring builds and the only limit is one’s patience and imagination. Naturally the PC version will always be superior due to access to the steam workshop – this is issue is slightly alleviated for consoles by the presence of the Frontier workshop, although even then certain maps or builds won’t work on your console. Controls have been fairly well adapted for console, although when creating more detailed props/scenes it can be a bit tricky at times. The new approach to theming and the way props and decorations are created really do make this game stand out and cement is place in a long line of theme park simulation games.

Tips

  • Some props are grid based others can be freely placed – you can tell these apart by the grid in the background of the image.
  • If a ride’s queue scenery is at 100% you can charge the maximum for tickets (this will still depend on the ride’s prestige).
  • Sending staff on training courses will boost their happiness, but will also mean you need to probably raise their salary.
  • You can smooth a ride out by selecting a part and then selecting adjacent ones by holding X (PS) – you can then select the smooth option from the quick action menu.
  • Free camera allows you to zoom in and look at things even closer.
  • Make sure your staff rooms are within a reasonable distance for staff.
  • Use work rosters to manage where and how your staff work – especially useful for janitors.
  • After around 10 year of operating a ride will become a “Classic” meaning it will be at its highest prestige level – allowing you to charge the most you can for it.
  • A good rollercoaster with high values and good prestige can charge around $20-25. Whereas flat rides will vary from around $7-15 depending on the ride.

Useful Links

Townscaper

The Game

Townscaper is a city building game like no other, made by developer Oskar Stålberg (creator of Bad North as well). The game allows you to build a procedurally generated city. The game is set on a warped grid allowing for some interesting curves and narrow streets as you build your city. The building process itself is also remarkably simple – just tap to add a block, short hold to remove one and long hold to change its colours. The rest is all up to you. There is no objective, pressure or complexity to the game just an open sandbox for you to create your colourful (or monochrome) island city. As you add different pieces existing ones will change leaving behind houses, terraces, gardens and all sorts of little details to discover. You can choose from 15 beautiful pastel colours spanning the colours of the rainbow and make some truly fantastic creations.

Worth it?

Generally speaking, the game will set you back around £4.99 which can seem a little bit steep for what’s essentially a city painting app. However, when you observe the detail and appreciate the effort that has gone into the game you appreciate it more and more. It is a great mobile game and perfect time killer. You can spend hours perfecting and tinkering with your city and 5 mins can quickly turn into 20-30. The decision not complicate the game with actual “gameplay” like resources and management does leave you with a slight sense of longing, but equally helps it preserve its truly zen vibe which will leave you feeling relaxed. It would be interesting to see this with different architectural styles, colour pallets, vibes and building variations – for example a spooky abandoned building or medieval castle. The concept feels like it has infinite potential. If you can get it on sale you can save around 15-20% on it, but either way it’s money worth spent for the zen garden that Townscaper is.

Tips

  • Tap to add block, short hold to delete a block, long hold to change colour to the currently selected one.
  • You can turn on the grid to see what certain positions may look like – look out for the ones that form the centre of certain warps.
  • If you don’t interact with the screen for a bit the UI will hide (if you have the toggle on).
  • Check night mode and mess around with the position of the sun.
  • You can make a lighthouse by building a standalone tower of 3 or more blocks.
  • You can make grassy areas by surrounding an area with houses and having the middle free, do so with different colour houses and you will get some nice walls and fences within the green area.

Useful Links

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

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