Comedy

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell Review

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Like a Gat Outta Hell I’ll be gone when the morning comes…or in four hours, when you complete this game.

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After the funtastic voyage that was Saints Row IV, my faith in the series was restored. So when Gat Out of Hell, a series spin-off, appeared on sale on Steam, I didn’t hesitate to buy it. If you have played any previous Saints Row game, particularly IV, then you will have an understanding of what the gameplay entails: open world sandbox, lots of crazy guns and super powers. Gat Out of Hell sets off after IV concludes. At the celebration of Kinzie’s birthday party, the Boss is suddenly sucked into a warping vortex and transported to Hell to marry Satan’s daughter. Now it’s up to Johnny Gat and Kinzie to save him/her. As a nice addition, if you have any Saints Row IV data saved on your computer, the Boss will look like your playable character. The story itself will only take about three to four hours to complete…not very long at all. Fortunately, as with all Saints Row games, there are umpteen amounts of side quests…but not always for the better. The story as a whole is pretty funny, going as far as including a wonderful musical number. As you build up a plan to combat Satan, you’ll rally and encounter various deceased characters from previous games – although more could have been done with this – and notorious real life historical figures such as Blackbeard, Vlad the Impaler and, of course, Shakespeare. The cut scenes are also beautifully rendered, albeit with some minor texture issues. However, a lot of cut scenes seem to show what could have easily been a mission, for example, storming Satan’s stronghold. It’s a shame, as rendering these as missions would have provided a few more hours of gameplay, especially since many of the missions are copy-paste ‘go here, kill this, come here’ style. What’s also kind of annoying is that story missions are triggered by the amount of carnage you create in the streets. That is to say, you could be doing one of the many side quests when suddenly you are informed that you have peaked Satan’s interest and are suddenly transported into a story mission. Not a major issue, but a bit of a nuisance.

And Terry Crews-lookalike as Satan.
And Terry Crews-lookalike as Satan.

As mentioned, there is a large number of side quests (or ‘diversions’) to partake in too, such races, mayhem, insurance fraud etc…all the regular Saints Row kinda stuff, with a Hell-y twist. Accompanying these diversions are over a hundred challenges, providing some extra play time…if you’re a completionist. And I mean, a real completionist. Many of the challenges are merely “kill X enemies with weapon A”, “kill Y enemies with weapon B”, which is pretty darn tedious and boring if you ask me. Especially because killing a certain number of enemies triggers a mini-boss, whom when they are killed, removes all enemies from the area, meaning you have to build up more once again. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, but will add a fair few more hours onto your playtime. There are also over 900 collectibles so…yeah.

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As mentioned, gameplay follows what you would expect from Saints Row. Like IV, you unlock various super powers (or ‘halo powers’ in this one), allowing you to perform interesting Hell-themed elemental attacks and even fly. This, of course, makes cars completely useless, which is fine because the driving aspect of the game seems to have deteriorated even more since the previous instalment. The weapons are, of course, pretty brilliant. These range from locust shooting SMGs, lightning hammers, stake-shotguns and, naturally, an armchair-minigun-rocket-launcher. There are also seven special weapons embodying the Seven Deadly Sins, such as a flaming sword and compassion gun. You can imagine what that does.

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You can switch up between Gat and Kinzie at any time during the game, however neither characters play any differently. The only difference is in the conversation. Sadly, this also means that Saints Row’s epic customisation has completely gone – there are no clothes shops, tattoo parlours or plastic surgeons. Despite this, the map is fairly large and, although black and bleak, seems to offer quite a variety of exploration. What was disappointing was discovering various huge tunnel ways under the setting city (New Hades), which has absolutely no use whatsoever.

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Gat Out of Hell is a cool concept, and a nice addition to the Saints Row franchise. However, due to its short life and similarities to Saints Row IV, this feels more like DLC than an actual game in itself. For that reason, I couldn’t really recommend paying more than £10 or so for it, but if it appears on sale then definitely purchase it. If you enjoy the Saints Row games and what they have to offer, then this is a worthy addition to the library. To see my previous Saints Row IV review, click here.

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DLC Quest – Review

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READING THIS REVIEW REQUIRES THE ‘GAMES ET AL DLC PACK’.

Hehe I’m funny.

We have unfortunately reached a stage in the gaming medium in which paying for additional content is the norm. Where a lot of downloadable content do indeed add hours of new gameplay in new campaigns (Borderlands. Fallout, Bioshock, for example), others are almost an overpriced necessity to play the game to its full potential (such as in Final Fanasty XIII: Lightning Returns). It’s a shame that releasing a season pass has become standard issue for many, many games, with some exploiting DLC even further.

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DLC Quest caught my eye as one of those little indie games that you look at and think “huh, that’s a cool idea”. The premise is simple: you must defeat the evil bad guy. Problem is, the standalone game does little to aid you in doing so; to complete the game, you’re going to need some DLC.

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Very much a commentary on what the industry has sadly become, DLC Quest requires you to use in-game money to buy DLC in order to fulfil your goals. DLC ranges from simply adding jumping or music, to weapons, life, and so on. In this sense, it reminded me of Evoland, as the player continues to progress through an ever evolving game.

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The gameplay itself is extremely straight forward – a 2D platformer that reminded me of old Sega Mega Drive games, particularly with the environment detail and hidden caves, I felt like I was play James Pond. Anyone? James Pond? Ahh nostalgia. Ahem. The map itself is relatively small, and you will find yourself going backwards and forwards to complete objectives, but the game is just long enough at about 2 hours that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It also features a lovely little 16-bit soundtrack, including some atmospheric pieces reminiscent of old RPGs!

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Overall, humour is what drives this game forward. As mentioned, it is very much a satire on the current state of DLC and the sheer ridiculousness that surrounds it. DLC Quests parodies various unfinished games (requiring you to purchase DLC to continue) as well nods to well established franchises such as Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, Minecraft and Plants VS Zombies. Aside from this, DLC Quest is also full of its own self-referential humour that will keep you smiling as you slave over hunting down coins to buy the overly expensive season pass (that enables you to traverse the ‘Winter Zone’), or the HD pack (tinting everything with a lovely sepia tone).

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The game consists of two short campaigns, each lasting about an hour. It’s a fun way to kill some time if you have it, whilst making you think about how crazy the downloadable content market has become. I’d recommend grabbing it if it’s on sale, but wouldn’t really spend more than a couple o’ quid. There isn’t really a lot else to say about this game, other than if you want a quick, chuckle-worthy pastime, get yourself a copy. Another 69p well spent!

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Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 – review

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The Walking Dead has emotion. The Wolf Among Us has intriguing lore. Tales from the Borderlands has sheer hilarity.

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If you’re a frequent reader of this blog (of course you are!) you may have picked up that I’m a big fan of Telltale’s games. Now, admittedly, it’s only been in the last year that I have actually discovered these little gems, so I shan’t claim to be a diehard devoted long-time fan, but I really cannot recommend their games enough. Tales from the Borderlands is no exception.

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So where to begin? First and foremost, this feels like a Borderlands game. Now this review will feature a couple of tiny spoilers from Borderlands 2 – just what happens at the end – but that’s all. Here are some line breaks whilst you evaluate whether you want to carry on reading or not.

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Good. So Tales is set following the events of Borderlands 2. After Handsome Jack’s death, employees from the infamous Hyperion Corporation have been vying for power. The first playable character, Rhys, is one such employee. But after he is duped by Patrick Warburton, he finds himself on the planet of Pandora, caught up in a scheme involving a rare, invaluable vault key.  Despite the obviously different gameplay style from past Borderlands games, Tales fits into the lore and overall saga perfectly. Whether this will bridge the gap between Borderlands 2 and 3, or whether it will just be a standalone story set in the same world, is currently unknown – whatever the outcome, so far it’s very promising. It certainly links to the greater Borderlands world – without going into spoilers (though you can probably guess one Borderlands character’s involvement from the episode name, Zer0 Sum…and yeah, it’s awesome).

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The graphics are a clever amalgamation of your typical Walking Dead/Wolf Among Us style ‘cartoony’ graphics combined with Borderlands’ classic….um… ‘cartoony’ graphics. Telltale have managed to create a seamless blend between the two that doesn’t look out of place at all. The game still suffers from the standard Telltale defects, such as the odd clunky movement or sudden facial expression reminiscent of Sims 2. Or the occasional clipping issue, but apart from that, s’all gravy. I mean, these are the things that you kind of look over in Telltale’s games as they seem almost inevitable…for whatever reason.

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The script is just what you would expect from Borderlands: violent, in your face, and hilarious. Episode One: Zer0 Sum, which is, at time of writing, the only episode out, made me laugh out loud on several occasions. One of my favourite moments was near the beginning when they take the somewhat iconic running-over-a-skag skit to another level. This is definitely a Borderlands game.

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As mentioned, you play as two different characters – Rhys and Fiona, telling two sides of a story via flashbacks. Both characters play very different, but with enough scope for you to mold them how you want to. For those unfamiliar with Telltale’s style, the game is essentially an interactive story. During dialogue, you’re presented with numerous options regarding how you respond – one might be cocky or arrogant, another might be submissive, or aggressive, or even just silence. The game adapts to choices that you make (to an extent) and develops as such (…to an extent). None of the choices you make are going to cause a revolutionary difference – judging from past games the overall outcome will remain the same – but it’s how you get there that might be executed differently. But what would a Borderlands game be without action? As well as the dialogue options, you’ll also be greeted with quick time events, a bit of exploration, and even some shootouts. Whilst not quite as fun or detailed as your standard Borderlands game, these moments add a nice change of pace, sticking true to the source material.

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There are a couple of other new inclusions within Tales too. Firstly, when playing as Rhys, you have the chance to activate your ECHO-eye implant to scan certain objects in the environment around you. Scanning things doesn’t affect the story as a whole, but does allow you to gather some background information on Pandora’s finest, which is usually pretty hilarious. When playing as Fiona, you can use cash to buy certain things. Again, thus far, this has purely been aesthetic (with one exception in which I bribed someone) but it’s a nice little distraction.

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It’s hard to judge an episodic game from the first episode alone, although thus far I am pretty impressed. However, unlike previous Telltale games, if you are unfamiliar with the Borderlands story or style and want to just try Telltale games, then I don’t think you would really get on-board with this. If this is the case, then go and play through the other Borderlands games first. For numerous reasons. Telling the same story from both Rhys and Fiona’s perspectives could initially seem jarring, tedious and confusing, but the change in dialogue options and perspective really enables you to get into the other character’s shoes. I, for one, think that this is a fine addition to both the Telltale and Borderlands library, and cannot wait for Episode 2. It’s a game for fans of Telltale and Borderlands games alike! Next time: Telltale’s take on Game of Thrones!

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Saints Row IV – Review

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Long gone are the days when Saints Row was just an apparent Grand Theft Auto clone. You’d get a slap for saying that now. Probably with a dildo…

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I managed to grab m’self a cheap copy of Saints Row IV on Steam with a load of DLC accompanying it. I’d been meaning to play the game for a while, but after the disappointment that was Saints Row the Third I just kept putting it off. The original Saints Row was pretty good, but at the time did just seem like a slightly worse version of Grand Theft Auto  – it was released a few years after San Andreas on ‘the next gen’, but just couldn’t compete IMO. Then Saints Row 2 was released. I loved this game. A massive improvement on the original, and it was competing with the grainy Grand Theft Auto IV, which, whilst a great game in itself, didn’t seem to have a classic GTA humour that Saints Row 2 adopted. It managed to combine the sandbox gang warfare, car stealing gameplay that GTA is known for, whilst providing utterly ridiculous side missions. Not to mention a pretty compelling story that could be completed in an order that you choose. So, to me anyway, Saints Row the Third was a bit o’ disappointment. The game got sillier – which is totally fine – but tried to retain a somewhat captivating story…which it failed to do. The result was a bit of a mismatch: a game that didn’t really know what it wanted to be. It was still fun, but forgettable. Now, Saints Row IV seems to have dropped any notion of being a ‘serious’ game…and is just, well, super fun.

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Saints Row IV is one of the best sandbox games that I have ever played. The reason? Because it’s a true sandbox. Once you get past the opening prologue, the world is pretty much your oyster. The Saints have ascended to world dominance level, and the Boss (you) has been elected President of the United States. After deciding whether you want to cure cancer or end world hunger, aliens attack. The Boss is imprisoned in a virtual reality of Steelport (the city from Saints Row the Third) and must complete various tasks to, ahem, fuck with the system. That’s the premise. And that’s good enough. I haven’t progressed that far in the story, because throughout my six hours of play time I have blown more things up than I can count.

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Pretty much everything is unlocked from the get-go. As with previous Saints games, there is a plethora of side-missions for you to do, ranging from insurance fraud, to blowing stuff up in a helicopter, to races, to blowing stuff up on foot. The big different that Saints Row IV introduces however is that you have super powers. Why? Because you’re in a virtual reality, and you can do anythiiiiiiiiing. The result is that your character is super OP, and no one really stands a chance against you…which is good, because I have ye to figure out where exactly the health bar is. But it’s also hilarious. You unlock abilities such as super jump, super sprint, and elemental powers such as causing massive (you guessed it) explosions, or freezing enemies where they stand. The only downside of this is that due to the super sprint ability – of which an infinite variant for is unlocked quite easily – there is no real need for you to drive cars. I mean, the cars are all mega slow in comparison, so why would you? But there are some awesome looking vehicles roaming Steelport, particularly with some DLC…but there is just no point in driving them really.

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As with any Saints Row game, you have the option to customise your character. The Boss of the Saints is whoever you want to make him or her be. This includes facial alterations, penis size, skin colour, physique, voice (three male, three female, and Nolan North. Because), and a deviant smorgasbord of clothes and costumes. The possibilities are nigh endless. Sexy hooker with massive boobs? Old lady with massive boobs? Blue-skinned-buff alien with massive boobs? Superhero with massive boobs? Whatever your salacious little mind can conjure. I personally began with a large cockney fella to whom I referred to as Big J (privately). Later, after noticing a Nolan North voice option, he became a Tesco’s own version of Deadpool. Soon after that, he had a sex change into a very large, buxom woman wearing nout but dungarees and a cute little bonnet. Most recently, my character is a disgusting old lady who doesn’t seem to understand that she is passed her prime. It’s fun to pretend.

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Saints Row is known for utilising celebrity cameos, such as Burt Reynolds in the Third. IV is no different, only this time Saints veteran Keith David joins the fray. Keith (mind if I call you Keith?) has appeared in Saints Row previously, but as a character. Now he plays himself, as your number 2. So whilst you’re going around sticking penis-swords up mascots bums, you can listen his sweet, soothing, warming voice. Due to some DLC, I am also now able to summon the cast of the fantastic Hey Ash Whatcha Playin’? series as homies. They come will full voice acting, and interact seamlessly with one another. You know, just to add more humour to this game.

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So, all in all, Saints Row IV is a great addition to the franchise. It’s just madness. The addition of superpowers provide constant entertainment, as you can spend your time just running around suplexing innocent people (but they’re only virtual people so you don’t feel guilty, right? In fact, they’re virtual virtual people. Ahaaa!). Whilst I personally wouldn’t spend more than £20 on this game, it’s well worth a gander if you can find a cheaper copy. It’s manic, ridiculous, light-hearted and boobs.

#qt3.14
#qt3.14

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!: First Impressions

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Thanks 2K, but where’s all my new shit?

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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! (exclamation mark included) is the latest addition in the family-friendly Borderlands series. AKA Borderlands 1.5, this game is set in between Borderlands 1 and 2. However, I will do my bestest not to include any spoilers for any of the three games in this here review. Holla. At time of writing, I have only played a couple o’ hours with a couple o’ characters with a couple o’ friends (and m’self), but I think that’s sufficient enough to warrant a ‘first impressions’ review, don’t you think?

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First off, The Pre-Sequel!, whilst good, does just kind of feel like a Borderlands 2 DLC pack. Which isn’t a bad thing, considering Borderlands 2 is a brilliant game, but there just isn’t enough new/updated stuff to really advance the series. The bottom line is, The Pre-Sequel does everything right that Borderlands 2 did, but also suffers from the same wrongs. There. You can make your own judgement now. Go, fly on!

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Still here? Thank you. That means a lot. Seriously. Ok, detail. So, what’s new? The Pre-Sequel starts off as the two previous Borderlands games did: choosing your character. This game has you choose one from four classes: Gladiator, Enforcer, Lawbringer and Fragtrap. What’s pretty cool is that all of these characters have appeared in some form in previous instalments: Athena, the Gladiator, made her debut in a DLC pack for Borderlands 1 as an NPC. Wilhelm the Enforcer and Nisha the Lawbringer both appear as enemies in Borderlands 2 (in one way or another), and the Fragtrap class is none other than that lovable robot Claptrap. There is quite a variety in classes – each character has their own unique skill command – though Wilhelm and Athena do seem somewhat similar, moreso than the other two, at least.. Athena uses her shield to absorb/dish our damage, Wilhelm summons two drones to aid him, Nisha can enter a Red Dead Redemption-style quick draw mode, and Claptrap….well, his takes  a little explaining, and is definitely the most fun. Claptrap’s skill analyses the battlefield, taking into account how much ammo, how much health etc. you have, and grants some sort of boon to the party dependent on that – whether it’s having everyone enter a ‘funzerker’ mode (guns, guns, guns), or mimicking Krieg from Borderlands 2’s rampage skill, or giving the whole party rubber rings to…bounce with. Inevitably, more characters will be released as DLC, so I am curious to see where that goes. Additionally, each characters’ melee attack feels more unique than it did in 2 too. For example, Claptrap does a little punch, whereas Nisha uses her whip, which has a longer range but deals a bit less damage. Naturally, your real power comes from one of the bazillion zillion guns that you can pick up throughout your play through. Two new additions to your already well-endowed arsenal are laser and cryogenic weapons. The former, as you may have guessed, fire a barrage of lasers that slowly drain enemies’ health. The latter, as you may have guessed once again (you rascal) freeze your enemies, enabling you to shatter them with a mighty blow!

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The story: As mentioned, The Pre-Sequel is set in between Borderlands 1 and 2, and depicts the rise of Borderlands 2 antagonist, Handsome Jack. As with previous Borderlands games, due to the sheer number of side quests, the main story can often be a bit ambiguous and confusing. Still, all in all it’s very funny, and I’m definitely interested to see where it goes. Borderlands 2 had some brilliant moments, particularly in its fantastic DLC, so I have…hopes for The Pre-Sequel. The game is set on Elpis, Pandora’s moon. As such, zero gravity plays a key role in The Pre-Sequel’s gameplay. You’re equipped with an oxygen pack (oz pack) that allows you to jump great distances, float a bit and even butt-slam down onto enemies below – which is pretty cool, because you can send them floating off into the infinity of space Malcolm Reynolds style. Watch out, ‘doe! If you use too much oxygen you WILL DIE. Unless you’re Claptrap. Because he don’t need no oxygen. This is a fun little addition that makes exploration and combat feel that teency bit fresher than it did in Borderlands 2.

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As for newness, that’s about it really. Everything else – graphics and general gameplay etc.– are pretty much the same as they were in Borderlands 2. I mean, it all works brilliantly, and obviously the game features a fresh soundtrack and voice acting – but overall the game doesn’t really feel like an upgrade…just more of the same. The game still wonderfully blends RPG elements into the FPS genre, and for the most part, the script is pretty hilarious. I would say ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’, which, you know, they haven’t…but they also haven’t fixed what is broken. There are a handful of glitches that I have already encountered, rendering a quest un-completeable. These are generally solved by exiting the map and re-entering, but in my fast paced adult life, I don’t have time for that! Also, the menu is still just as clunky as it was in 2. In fact, it’s exactly the same. Again, not game-breaking, just a small nuisance that I would have hoped they may have fixed. Lastly, the enemies feel quite repetitive. You seem to be fighting the same ones over and over again, with no real variety. Elpis is ok to explore, but has nothing on the design of Pandora in previous installments.

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Overall, the game just feels like a big ol’, slightly unpolished DLC for Borderlands 2. It’s still fun, especially with friends, but Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! unfortunately lacks the innovation and originality to really make it stand out. I’ve clocked 100 hours on Borderlands 2…something that I just don’t see happening with The Pre-Sequel, sadly. If you’re new to the series, go and pick up Borderlands 2. If you really like it, give this a go, but spend your time over there first. I’ll be looking forward to the inevitable Borderlands 3 and TellTale Game’s Tales from the Borderlands…

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