First Impressions: Frederic: Resurrection of Music (iOS)

Another day, another rhythm game! I love them! This one is arguably even more random than Super Beat Sports, that I played recently. The gameplay is nothing unusual but here we have a story mode!IMG_0011.PNG

You play as the resurrected Frederic Chopin, who was a 19th century composer of piano music. For reasons yet unknown (I’ve no idea how far I am through but I doubt it is a long story mode) he has been brought back from the dead to fight the good musical fight against horrible modern music. Obviously!IMG_0015.PNG

Gameplay wise it’s essentially a piano-based version of the standard Guitar Hero/Rock Band where you see notes coming down towards you and tap on the screen at the right time to play the melody. The songs are all remixes of Chopin compositions – the remixes are in different genres to match who Chopin is meeting in the story, from reggae to hip hop. So far, I’ve really enjoyed the music – perhaps classical piano fans would be horrified but for me they’ve done a good job of combining recognisable piano motifs with more recent beats.IMG_0010.PNG

I picked this up to play on my iPad as the appstore were selling a bundle of this game and it’s sequel at a bargain price. It’s a perfect game for a large touchscreen, so I’d recommend that if you have that option – I think it’s also on Android and it’s definitely on Nintendo Switch.IMG_0016.PNG

I’ll play through both ‘Resurrection of Music’ and ‘Evil Strikes Back’, assuming they’re as short as I expect, and then I’ll get a review up. I can already see that the game’s strength, much like any good rhythm game, is going to be in it’s replay value but I will try and resist going back for higher difficulty settings and better scores until I have finished Frederic’s story.IMG_0012.PNG

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First Impressions: Cuphead

I’m not a person who typically likes games that are hard for the sake of being hard. In fact, I would be more likely to deliberately avoid them. Generally, I would rather play lots of different games than play a few games a lot, so anything that is deliberately hard doesn’t appeal to that mentality, as it would usually take longer. When Cuphead was shown at E3 last year I immediately wanted to play it as it just looked so great and seemed to be so much fun. But that enthusiasm was immediately doused when the first, and seemingly only, thing anyone could talk about with it was how hard it was.10-01-2018_07-25-15.png

In the end the wonderful art style, based on 1930s cartoons, won out over the potential difficulty and I was gifted the game for Christmas last year. I am happy to say that, whilst it is indeed ridiculously difficult entirely for the sake of being so, it’s also a huge amount of fun. In fact it is that aspect that has turned out to be the key, as it can be impossible to appreciate the retro visuals when you are just desperately trying to stay alive!10-01-2018_07-26-09.png

Despite having it for nearly a month I’ve only made it to the end of World 1. There are four worlds in total so it could be a long while before a review goes up on this blog! The reason for my slowness is not entirely down to being rubbish. In addition, every play session needs to be a long one, so the number of chances I get to play it are limited during a typical week. This is down to the punishing difficulty level – a quick ten minute go will almost certainly result in no progress at all. You need to slowly develop your understanding of each level as you play (and die, a lot) until eventually reaching the end. There’s not really any point in loading up the game unless you can dedicate a good chunk of time to it.10-01-2018_07-25-31.png

Thankfully, this doesn’t ever quite reach the point of feeling like a chore since it is just such a blast to play. The actions – running, jumping, shooting – all feel great and the tension created by the difficulty really gets released into joy and relief when you nail a boss that 30 minutes before felt impossible.10-01-2018_07-24-53.png

It’s still early days for me – it may be that the relentless unfairness of the game eventually gets me down and destroys the fun. At this stage, however, I have really enjoyed Cuphead. Given it’s bargain price, I’d happily recommend it – if it ever stops being fun then you’ll still have got good value for money out of it!10-01-2018_07-24-24.png

First Impressions: Rocket League (Nintendo Switch)

This. Game. Is. Awesome! The Boy and I have absolutely played the life out of it since it came out on the Switch, having dipped our toes in it before but always in the knowledge that it was out on Nintendo’s console before the end of the year. Now it’s here and, despite a flaw that is obvious from your first game, everything about it is brilliant – and just as good as it is on the other formats.2017112008194200-6F4D679ED7D2A016B654B265B956C5F0

Let’s get the elephant in the room out on the table from the get go. There are parts of the Switch version that look, frankly, awful. Perhaps Psyonix will be able to fix this over time as they get to know the console better but the need to maintain a solid frame rate in frantic battles means that in some of the arenas the resolution drops to near-Wii levels. It’s a real shame but to be fair, it’s only a cosmetic issue. The gameplay is unaffected – and what gameplay it is.2017112017512100-6F4D679ED7D2A016B654B265B956C5F0

It’s such a simple concept – cars bashing into a huge ball to try and score goals. The real genius though is in what is built around that – jumping, boosting, double jumping, flying etc. However good you are at the game you’re always seeing others do stuff that you can only dream of…. until you learn those techniques and discover new ones that amaze you!

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I can also forgive the sometimes nasty visuals because if that is the price to pay for having Rocket League in my hands in handheld mode then I will happily pay it. Some games are just made to be in your hands and this is one of them – the chaos, the clashes and the bumping of the ball all work so well in handheld mode. It feels very immediate and visceral. 

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That said, it works just as well on TV. I think multiplayer might become the go-to local multiplayer in our house for 2018. Online is also fantastic – exactly the same service as the other consoles and you have cross play with Xbox One and PC players too. All round, this is amazing stuff – it’s so cheap so just get on with purchasing it! 

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First Impressions: Forza Motorsport 7

Currently Forza Motorsport 6 sits in the top 10 of my All-Time Top Games list. It’s my favourite racing game ever, so it really begs the question – how could a sequel possible top that? Well, so far, I’d have to say that I haven’t really seen much that does. Which is not to say that Forza Motorsport 7 has been in any way bad so far – it fact it’s been ace – but as yet I see nothing that significant makes it better than its illustrious predecessor.09-12-2017_21-22-30

As always, throughout the Forza Motorsport series, it is a joy to drive around. The handing is a wonderful combination of the fun and the serious. Try and take a corner too fast and you’re unlikely to find yourself the victim of snap oversteer leaving you facing the wrong way as you would in a proper driving simulation. Equally, you are not going to be going very fast if you are driving like that. Early braking, balancing the car on the apex and smooth acceleration are what gets rewarded here. It means that it’s both accessible and challenging at the same time.09-12-2017_21-23-15

But that hasn’t changed here in FM7 – so what has? Well, firstly, we have some new tracks such as the very enjoyable Dubai circuit and the return of some others like my favourite track in the world – Suzuka in Japan. This has been missing from the series since FM3, so I’m super glad to have it back. Secondly, the structure of the career mode in the game has been updated to make it more engaging. In FM6 it was really just a list of races to complete but now you have a genuine career where you can choose the outfit you’ll drive in and there is an ultimate goal over all the races – winning the Forza Driver’s Cup. Thirdly we have some new vehicle types like Truck racing – which is a lot of fun. Time will tell if these small changes come together to have a lasting effect on how good the game is.09-12-2017_21-24-55

The last change I’ve noticed is the dynamic weather and time effects. We’ve seen such things before, like races where night decends half way through or rain starts to fall but here in FM7 it’s implemented better than I’ve ever seen. This is mainly due to how subtle it is. I remember playing Drive Club on PS4 a few years ago and in races when it started to rain I’d think ‘oh, here it comes again’. But in FM7 it comes in slowly and doesn’t always turn into a downpour. Likewise the time effects – the sun seems to set gradually and it takes me by surprise when I notice it blinding me from low in the sky. Again, if this turns out to be a great aspect of the gameplay or a slightly better implemented gimmick, only time will tell, but I like it so far.09-12-2017_21-22-52

All in all Forza Motorsport 7 has done nothing to put me off in it’s early races and as such I have every intention of playing it a lot in the coming weeks and months. When I finally get to the end I’ll put a review up to let you know the final reckoning but I can already assure you that if you are looking for a racing game on Xbox One right now, you won’t be disappointed by FM7.09-12-2017_21-23-30

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First Impressions: Super Beat Sports

Not since SSX Tricky back in 2001 have I played a game that is such pure fun! That’s not to say that this game is as good as that one – Tricky is one of my all time favourites. But every time I finish a song in Super Beats Sports I have a huge smile on my face! The combination of sports and music is a fantastic idea and one that I will be dipping into for ages myself and then over and over again playing with friends and family.2017111214561800-B5326B1E58931254287CB2E8DA86D794

The premise is pretty simple in Super Beats Sports – you are whacking balls about the place as you would in most any sports title. Here though the timing to get a perfect strike is determined by you locking into the music, just as you would in any rhythm titles like Rock Band 4. It’s a completely genius idea as you get to play sports through each song but get that feeling of satisfaction from nailing a good performance at the end.2017111313472900-B5326B1E58931254287CB2E8DA86D794

There are 5 game modes called wonderful things like ‘Whacky Bat‘ and ‘Net Ball‘ – I’ll look at each in more detail when I come to do a full review but my initial impressions are that they are hit and miss (pun entirely intended). Perhaps as I get more into the latter ones I will enjoy them more but there’s a risk with them that they get too complex and that takes away from the sheer joy of the more straight forward modes. Or maybe I just need to get better!2017111215014800-B5326B1E58931254287CB2E8DA86D794

The Boy is loving this too. It’s simple enough for him to pick up and play but still a challenge to get into the groove and nail each shot. The way winning is rewarded also appeals to him – you can collect things like different bats and different outfits and you get them faster the better you do. In multiplayer it’s also been a blast for him to add the interaction to the mix as well – not since we were playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe every day earlier in the year has he had a game to consistently play with lots of other people.2017112117470200-B5326B1E58931254287CB2E8DA86D794

There’s still a ton for us to do in Super Beat Sports so look out for the full review. I also haven’t got around to checking it out with motion controls Wii-Sports-style yet either – that will probably be hilarious in multiplayer as well. In the meantime it’s fair to say I am totally smitten with this game, if that wasn’t obvious enough already!2017111111315900-B5326B1E58931254287CB2E8DA86D794

First Impressions: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Currently, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End stands atop my All-Time Top Games list. So, obviously, I was looking forward to more of it with this not-quite-a-full-game-but-more-than-an-expansion addition of Lost Legacy. But that said, a major part of what I loved about 4 was the storyline – could the switch away from Nate and Elena be the downfall of the series? Well, I’m very pleased to say it isn’t – based on first impressions this is going to be another entry in the Naughty-Dog-can-do-no-wrong list of games.Uncharted™_ The Lost Legacy_20171018223610

Gameplay wise it’s very very similar to Uncharted 4. It is very much an expansion from that point of view. In fairness, that means the gameplay is great so it’s hardly a complaint! By now everything you do from climbing to hiding to shooting has been honed to perfection and that all remains here.Uncharted™_ The Lost Legacy_20171023080003

I’m still too early in the game to say what the story is going to hold but what I have been enjoying early on is the banter between Chloe and Nadine. Although you only play as Chloe it feels much more like a pair of characters on an adventure. Before it was very much Nathan‘s story and the other characters, as fantastic as they were, just came along for the ride. Whether it was Sully, Elena, Chloe herself – they were very much just sidekicks. In Lost Legacy you feel like you’re one half of a team.Uncharted™_ The Lost Legacy_20171023212344

Essentially, for me, this game will be as good as it’s story. I only have an issue with it’s similarity to Uncharted 4 if it doesn’t deliver a memorable experience. Time will tell! But for now, if you’ve enjoyed the previous Uncharted games – this one doesn’t look like it’ll let you down.unchartede284a2_-the-lost-legacy_20171025201738.png

 

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First Impressions: Mass Effect: Andromeda

Early in 2017 I played through a 10-hour trial of Mass Effect: Andromeda courtesy of EA Access and really enjoyed it. I put it right on top of my want-to-play list and was eagerly looking forward to playing it.

But then I read the reviews…

Man, people really have their hate on for this game! I won’t bother to go into the specific issues highlighted in Andromeda‘s lacklustre critical reception as I expect that won’t be news to anyone reading this all these months later. At the time however, it was news to me – other than the occasionally odd facial animations I didn’t notice any of the various problems the game had. That said, the reviews and comments did scare me off paying full price for it at the time and it had kind of drifted off my radar over the months since it’s release. Just lately however, it was come up on the EA Access Vault to play for free (well, for the money I’ve already paid, you know), why not give it a go, I thought!26-10-2017_14-22-06.png

Well, I can say that I am still enjoying it! Perhaps all the biggest issues have been patched over time but I have still to have any issues with it. I’m pleased as I have loved the Mass Effect series so far and there’s a chance that this will be the last game under that banner now after the team that made it has been disbanded.26-10-2017_14-32-09.png

Mainly, it feels really solid. There was a significant step up between Mass Effect 2 and 3 in terms of how visceral the games felt to play and this one continues that trend. Movement feels quick and natural, the gunplay feels violent and so far (at around 15 hours I am barely scratching the surface of a game of this magnitude) I am enjoying the story and the characters as they develop. It looks great as well, as you’d expect. All of that combines together in a really complimentary way to immerse you into it’s world. You are the Pathfinder!26-10-2017_14-32-34.png

Early indications are good, and given that this game is so cheap now (probably the cheapest way is an EA Access subscription, if you have an Xbox One) I would definitely advise anyone interested to go for it. Even if, ultimately, Mass Effect: Andromeda can’t hold up to its early promise, this is certainly not the bad game many said it was when it first came out.26-10-2017_14-31-58.png

 

Click here to purchase an annual subscription code for EA Access from Amazon.co.uk:
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