Super Hot VR: There’s a Screen Strapped to Your Face

… you’re frozen to the spot… 

A bullet hovers, stationary, abruptly halted along that incomplete vector from barrel to your face. It’s barely a foot from its intended destination. Without moving your head you allow your knees to bend. The very act of crouching seems to gently turn the crank on the passage of time and the bullet slowly proceeds forward. You continue to crouch, but can’t resist letting your eyes follow the projectile as it sails over your head. This is a game played out long-form over fractions of seconds. 

Super Hot is a game that’s been on my radar for a long time; novel time disrupting mechanics often interest me and the concept of Super Hot, an FPS where time only moves when you do, was a serenade to that bit of my brain. Unfortunately I’ve also got a superficial part to my personality and I’m entirely guilty in this case of judging a book my its cover; in short, that angular stark red on white aesthetic turned me off the whole idea of even trying the game. It’s just not something I found appealing and each time I browsed the store page I couldn’t ever quite get past the initial nose-screwing-up to hit the buy button.

My evenings recently however have involved much furniture shuffling as I’ve had a spree of VR gaming. During various internet delvings to find out which VR title I should jump in to next, I consistently saw high praise for the VR version of Super Hot, so I took a deep breath and set aside my visual preferences to give it a shot. Continue reading “Super Hot VR: There’s a Screen Strapped to Your Face”

Backbone Prologue: Prash Tranda

The neon from the Jazz bar’s sign snagged itself on the falling sheets of rain, a red haze draped across the sidewalk engulfing every unaware stranger. Their dark formless shapes illuminated for a second in the shimmering sheet left a momentary after-image of each of those faces on my retinas; happy, lost, cunning, malicious. I pulled my raincoat closer around my neck, but my fur had already wicked the water into my shirt and barely five minutes after leaving the office I was drenched through. The cheap red tie I’d picked up at the five-and-dime would already be bleeding into the white of my shirt… my new shirt… an investment I’d made to gloss over the cracks of public opinion on private investigators. That’s two bucks I’d never see again. 

Wardrobe misery aside, I had a job to do. Somewhere in these formless shapes was my mark and I was going to find him. Tonight. I didn’t have much choice, the only reason the super hadn’t already kicked me out and changed the locks was because I didn’t have anything worth selling.  Continue reading “Backbone Prologue: Prash Tranda”

World War Z: World Left War 4 Dead Z

Saber Interactive’s recently released ‘World War Z’ game has drawn almost universal comparison to the Left4Dead games that for many epitomised the zombie game invasion of about a decade ago. Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with a new game being similar to an older one, or in the case of Fortnite:BR copying almost feature for feature, but when I first watched the trailer I immediately identified each of the characters from the opening ‘World War Z’ as their Left4Dead counterparts. In short there is a suspicious amount of similarity here which somehow surpasses mere bandwagon jumping, especially as Left4Dead 2 had its heyday around its release in 2009. For my wife and I, this all came as a big draw; we’re L4D fans (to the point that we still have the movie style posters from the original game hanging in our lounge) and invested some long playtimes in to those first two games. My wife isn’t hugely in to competitive gaming, so many of the big FPS hits with us have been of the PvE variety where tight teams work together against AI in some predefined mission. With the comparison firmly planted in our minds, having watched the trailer, and having a pretty idle weekend to spare we decided to treat ourselves and give ‘World War Z’ a shot. Continue reading “World War Z: World Left War 4 Dead Z”

Apex Legends: A Mythical Geometric Vetrex

… and then a few weeks ago Apex Legends landed without any warning and made lots of people go “Waaahhhh!” – So why was that?

I originally wrote a whole dull paragraph here about my chequered past with PU:BG and Fortnite:BR, but that was far too long and can be summarised by saying:

“I like the concept of Battle Royale games, but I’m just not very good at them” 

That’s not to say that skill or ultimate placement correspond to fun, but playing a game that you can’t feel improvement or just generally show up to be an extra notch on someone else’s frag counter is rarely a rewarding experience. I want to feel as though I can at least hold my own, so my infatuation with both of the above titles gradually tarnished until I gave up and uninstalled them. Then Apex Legends showed up (apparently having something to do with Titanfall) and I got sucked back in to that Battle Royale play-loop; firstly out of curiosity but sticking around because it turns out it is actually fun. Continue reading “Apex Legends: A Mythical Geometric Vetrex”

Nidhogg II: Get Eaten, Win Game

…with a deft flick of your wrist the tip of your rapier neatly disarms your opponent. They stand. Stunned for a second before you run then through, their body hanging momentarily from your sword, dripping purple. Then they crumple to the ground and you run. That was the last hurdle. All glory is yours… you are consumed by the Nidhogg in triumph… 

In a moment of impulsiveness over the festive break, I picked up Nidhogg II for the Switch. I own the original for PC and it is the sort of game that can be quickly wheeled out at a gathering for some fast multiplayer action if called upon. Given that the Switch is now our portable gaming unit of choice, picking up the sequel on that platform (with it’s handily built-in multiple controllers) seemed like a great way to both try it out and convince my friends to drop in for a round or two at some opportune moment. The concept and gameplay of the two titles are very similar, so for the uninitiated it works like this: Continue reading “Nidhogg II: Get Eaten, Win Game”

Sunset Overdrive: The Good Type of Grind

Some years ago, way back in the early days of my blogging exploits, I wrote about ‘Dying Light’; a first-person-zombie-blasting-open-world-free-running cocktail which, despite being good fun, carried with it a healthy dose of ingame annoyances that grated on my nerves given the extended playtime of this type of game. The article listed a handful of features that I felt were superfluous to the experience and could happily have been hacked away to create a more streamlined game.

In the weeks before festiveness ’18 I picked up ‘Sunset Overdrive’; freshly released on PC it dangled the temptation of some open-world exploration in front of those idle evenings when trying to digest too many mince pies with the added draw of being slightly reduced to entice in that PC market. In summary it is a third-person-zombie-blasting-open-world-free-running cocktail that comes with a chaser of not featuring any of those features that I found so annoying in Dying Light.

…ok…ok, so they’re actually humans that have been mutated by drinking a new type of energy drink, but fit all the criteria of zombies for these purposes.  Continue reading “Sunset Overdrive: The Good Type of Grind”

Resident Evil Outbreak: Here Comes the B-Team

… as the intro kicks in we see the events of William Birkin’s confrontation with the Umbrella agents play out amid the unfolding imagery of the spreading infection. Outbreak is a game firmly seated in the lore and style of the original trilogy. 

It’s no secret that I love the first trilogy of Resident Evil games; they were the reason I owned a PlayStation and consequently a big part in why I graduated on to a PS2 as soon as it was released. Unfortunately there weren’t any Resident Evil titles confirmed for PS2 at the point of release and through its life it would play a surprising second fiddle to its contemporary consoles in those tales of S.T.A.R.S. & Co. especially considering how the first games had been such prominent titles in its predecessor’s roster. The two big RE titles that would find their way there were both ‘exclusive’ to other consoles at launch: RE: Code Veronica being originally made for the Dreamcast and RE4 setting sail with the GameCube. PS2 didn’t even receive the fantastic REMake of the original or similarly styled RE: Zero. I did play and enjoy RE:CV at launch on the PS2 but had drifted further away from the series by the time I would have been able to play RE4 and when I finally did get around to sampling it in recent years I wasn’t a fan of the new, action-heavy, style of gameplay.

Between these two titles was dropped the PS2 exclusive RE:Outbreak subseries (Outbreak & Outbreak File #2) which could be considered some of the last Resident Evil games to feature the classic style of gameplay and shambling zombies. They shared the fully 3D backgrounds of RE:CV, but maintained the fixed camera angles (albeit with panning and tracking) that defined the feel and pacing of the early games. Given my own background I find it hard to believe that I owned both of these games and barely explored them at all before trading them in – I think I may even have sold ‘Outbreak: File #2’ with the cellophane still intact given that I didn’t finish Outbreak itself. A couple of weeks ago however I spotted Outbreak for £5 in a branch of popular-chain-of-used-games-stores-here-in-the-uk and decided that it was worth a revisiting. Continue reading “Resident Evil Outbreak: Here Comes the B-Team”