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

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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

 

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The ol’ switcheroo: First Impressions of FIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch

A lot of criticism has come the way of this game. “The gameplay is slow”. “The online features are lacking”. “Story mode ‘The Journey’ is missing” etc etc etc. All of this may or may not be true but all of it is really missing the point: this is FIFA on the Switch! A proper football game I can play on the go! That is unbeatable.2017101217474100-062DD3BC3CF59885A6762E5A30A14CD1
Of course, it is true that this one lacks features compared to the ‘full’ console versions on Xbox One and PS4. I would have liked to have ‘The Journey’ to play through after enjoying the Madden version Longshot’ so much recently. Otherwise, though, all these comparisons don’t really mean anything unless you are making a choice of a football game to play only on your TV. For anyone who has a Switch and would like to play it out on the go this would have to be a demonstrably bad game for it not to be a no-brainer. And it really is not a bad game.2017101008414300-062DD3BC3CF59885A6762E5A30A14CD1
I want two things out of FIFA each year: 1) to play through a manager career until I’ve taken Milton Keynes Dons all the way up the leagues to Champions League winners (isn’t it nice how video games don’t have to be like reality?!) and 2) some fun multiplayer time either with The Boy or online. FIFA 18 nails all that and now I can play online on the TV, or with The Boy on the kitchen table, or career mode on the train to work. What’s not to like here?2017101217345800-062DD3BC3CF59885A6762E5A30A14CD1
Anyway, first impressions of the actual game are good too. As usual there are only small incremental changes to last year, but if it ain’t broke… I mostly judge a football game on whether it leads you to end up attacking in only one way. Some years you end up only trying to score with through balls, or with long shots, or whatever else, because that method just works so much better than anything else that variety isn’t worth it. That is not the case here – I’ve hammered them in from 20 yards out, used quick short passing around the edge of the box and crossed in to head home. It’s well balanced and all the better for it.2017100208175900-062DD3BC3CF59885A6762E5A30A14CD1
I’ll dig further into the game and it’s options in a full review later on but at this point suffice to say: do you want to play a football game, a proper football game, on the go? If so, you will love FIFA 18 on the Switch.2017101118570700-062DD3BC3CF59885A6762E5A30A14CD1

Click here to purchase the game on cartridge from Amazon.co.uk:

First Impressions: Gears of War 4

I found that the first three Gears games all started slowly. The opening sections were all about slowly introducing you to how the game felt and eventually things would start to get crazy a hour or two into the game. Not so with Gears of War 4! It starts with a proper bang, throwing you straight into the action. A prologue section essentially summarising everything that has gone before in the Gears‘ world has you playing through a few different ‘scenes’ from that history and they are all loud, brash and noisy. In other words classic Gears!07-10-2017_08-12-48
Outside of that great start there is not a lot to tell about the gameplay in terms of first impressions – this very much appears to be standard Gears of War action. This is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing – what has made the series so great so far is that the way your character moves, shoots, re-loads and uses cover just works so smoothly.07-10-2017_08-13-26
This game, perhaps unsurprisingly, looks lush. For a series that has spent a lot of it’s time in dark corridors there sure it a lot of time spent outside in the day in the first Act of Gears 4. Much like every other first sequel in a series on a new console everything is just a little more detailed and colourful that what has gone before it. So far there’s no wow factor but it certainly holds it own against other such games from recent times.
The other thing worth mentioning is the story – in the early going you are an Outsider, not part of the COG. I won’t go into detail, to avoid spoilers, but it certainly is a change for a series that has so far made a play of how the Gears aren’t trusted by most folks – here the tables are turned, you are most folks! How this will play out I’m not sure but it’s a turn up for the books.07-10-2017_08-15-11
I kind of think you’ll already know whether you want to play this game. I haven’t seen anything yet that would be likely to really bring in new fans that hadn’t enjoyed Gears of War before now. On the other hand, if you did enjoy those games on the 360 then this seems to be keeping the basic formula the same. If that’s you then I’d recommend going for it – I am certainly enjoying going back to Sera myself.07-10-2017_08-12-25

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Speeding: First Impressions of Fast RMX and Sonic Mania

There has been a whole ton of speed on my Nintendo Switch recently as I’ve been playing through Fast RMX and Sonic Mania at the same time. I’ve been really enjoying them both despite the eye-bleeding speed that both are played at!2017092017585800-993B0B446253E7FDAAC3C1A7681F46FE
I picked up Fast RMX for my Switch when I got the console but I quickly got distracted by Zelda and then Mario Kart and had kinda given up on it. Not because it was bad but it simply seemed like it’s chance had passed. However, a recent update to bring more tracks and vehicles to the game gave me the kick to get back to it. It’s not a full-priced game but none of the corner cutting has been in the gameplay itself. You speed along some well designed tracks collecting boost power ups (and using them) as well as running over particular coloured sections that, as long as you have your craft in the right configuration (a simple button press), will give you a boost as well. It’s fast and furious and intense right to the end of every race – just what a futuristic racer should be.2017091813403600-1628E0CE3F839127054B0EE36E28E52A
I went back and forth with whether to get Sonic Mania. Although back in the day I was a ‘Sonic guy’ – I didn’t play a Mario game at all until adulthood – the nostalgia I had for it wasn’t enough to make it an essential purchase. As such I wasn’t sure I fancied a retro game when I could just play a modern one with modern graphics and design. I’ll dig into this more at a later date when I’m at a place to review the game fully but the key here is: this is not a retro game. Retro-styled for sure but almost everything about how the game works is thoroughly modern. As such, it’s close to ideal – a great game for newcomers with a heavy dose of nostalgia for those that first controlled Sonic all those years ago.
If you’re considering either of these games then my advice is simple: go right ahead! Both of them are around 1/3 the price of a brand new off-the-shelf game but hold up far better than that.2017092021564200-1628E0CE3F839127054B0EE36E28E52A

First Impressions: Dirt 4

Rally games used to be my thing. Back in the days of Colin McRae and V-Rally they were my favourite type of game. Then came the rallying sections of Gran Turismo 3 and 4 and Rallisport Challenge on the Xbox. I just loved sliding sideways around corners, just enough grip to keep moving more or less in the intended direction. Sadly, overtime I both drifted away from them and the rally games themselves just weren’t as good as they once were. As such, I was vaguely interested in playing Dirt 4, but not desperate to get my hands on it.16-09-2017_21-35-50

The first couple hours of playing it seemed to back up my ambivalence. This is a technically an excellent game. The car handling is balanced and the feedback you get from the game is such that I never feel like the car is doing unexpected things. The graphics and the presentation of all the menus and options is top notch. But I just didn’t feel like it was that exciting. It was like a great example of how to make a solid game, without any x-factor.16-09-2017_23-03-02

However, once I started to get into faster cars, as I worked my way through the career and dipped my toe into the online stuff, it started to come to life. Although you also get involved in Land Rush and Rallycross races, it’s in the rallying sections where the game is as it’s best. Flying along narrow sections of track, threading the needle with a little bit of acceleration, a little bit of braking and a little bit of steering – all at the same time – is a joyful experience. Or at least, it is until you slightly lose concentration, miss a pace note and end up barrel-rolling down down the road for a hundred yards! Much like this:

Barrelling Down The Road from The Gamer Boys on Vimeo.

Now I’m into it properly, I am really enjoying this game and I have every intention of seeing the career mode through to the end and digging into the online modes too. I also haven’t checked out the ‘Your Stage‘ course generator yet either. Much to look forward to! I recommend you checking out this game if you are a racing fan.16-09-2017_23-03-20

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