Esperino http://www.esperino.com Tue, 30 Sep 2014 03:53:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Tales of Hearts R Day One Edition Announced for PS Vita http://www.esperino.com/tales-of-hearts-r-day-one-edition-announced-for-ps-vita http://www.esperino.com/tales-of-hearts-r-day-one-edition-announced-for-ps-vita#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 03:53:27 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=22025 Tales of Hearts R will be available in a Day One Edition in Europe and Australasia for the PlayStation Vita.

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Fans that pre-orders Tales of Hearts R will receiving the following three free DLC:

  • The Legacy Costume of Caius from Tales of The Tempest for Kor
  • The Legacy Costume of Marta from Tales of Symphonia Dawn of the New World for Kohaku
  • The Legacy Costume of Malik from Tales of Graces F for Gall

Asides from the pre-order bonus listed above, those that pre-order the Tales of Hearts R Day One Edition (Soma Link Edition) will also receive a set of free Tales of Vesperia outfits for Ines, Kunzite, and Beryl.

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As a thank you from Bandai Namco Games Europe, all Day One Editions will include a participation code where fans can enter a grand draw to win 1 of the 5 exclusive Japanese Collector’s Editions! These Collector’s Editions are unique, due to their content and include:

  • Japanese Collector’s editions of Tales of Hearts R signed by the team
  • A unique ‘congratulations video’ from Hideo Baba himself (Producer on the Tales Of series) will be shot for each winner
  • A personalised outer case with the name of each winner will be created for the occasion.

Tales of Hearts R is scheduled for release on November 13th, 2014 for Europe and Australasia exclusively on the PlayStation Vita.

Pre-order bonuses aren’t listed as yet, but you can pre-order the game via EB Games Australia for $59.95 to secure your bonus, and upgrade to the Day One Edition when it becomes available. Place your order online via the link here.

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Tales of Xillia 2 Review http://www.esperino.com/tales-of-xillia-2-review http://www.esperino.com/tales-of-xillia-2-review#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 03:40:28 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=22021 One of last year’s monster J-RPG hit Tales of Xillia has spawned a sequel, aptly titled Tales of Xillia 2. It’s a tall task for Xillia 2 given the massive success of its predecessor, and yet again a delayed offering for the English speaking market. Tales of Xillia 2 is a thoroughly polished and genuinely welcome title to the Tales series, but doesn’t quite hit the notes in the same way that Tales of Xillia did.

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Developer: Bandai Namco Games
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: PlayStation 3 (Reviewed)
Players: Single-Player, Co-operative Multi-Player
Genre: Role-Playing Game
Release: (EU) August 22nd, 2014

Xillia 2 was released back in November 2012 over in Japan, so it’s fair to say it took its sweet time landing on our shores. With the advent of next generation, it’s easy to be overly critical of Xillia 2 now that many gamers have been exposed to the dizzying heights of souped up visuals and gameplay. Thankfully the game holds up remarkably well courtesy of all of game’s elements aligning together once more.

Set in the same universe of Rieze Maxia and after the events of the first game, we find ourselves in the stylish shoes of Ludger Will Kresnik, Xillia 2 central protagonist. After failing his exam to become a Spirius Corporation agent, Ludger is embroiled in a train hijacking by Exodus where he meets Elle Mel Marta and Jude Mathis, one of Xillia‘s main characters. After being saved by Doctor Rideaux, the unlikely group inherit a rather sizeable debt for his services, leaving them under contract to perform a range of tasks until their debt is repaid.

From here, the adventure branches in all sorts of directions from learning about the train hijackers, working odd jobs to make cash, while uncovering the mysterious newfound powers of Ludger and his lineage. Without spoiling anything, Xillia 2 is remarkably complex once you’ve scratched the surface, but it would be worthwhile investing in the original Tales of Xillia for deeper insight into the somewhat inter-connected titles.

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Naturally the Tales ‘skit’ interlude dialogue system makes a return, with animated portraits, subtitles and voice acting for the complete experience. Skits have always been an integral part of the series, portraying the trials and tribulations of each of the characters in a way other J-RPGs have been unable to achieve. There’s not much new in this department and always pleasing as a means to engage with key characters on a more personal level. Again, if skits aren’t for you, there is always the option to skip through them all. The portraits remain fully animated and voiced in certain sections of dialogue, much like previous Tales titles.

Battle sequences utilize the Cross Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System, which is just a fancy term for the blistering, dynamic battle system we’ve grown to love about the franchise. Your party can consist of up to four characters under your control to tackle the many enemy encounters you’ll be punching your way through. Any character not under your direct control is taken over by the AI system, however you do have a say in how aggressive their approach to combat is.

An Assault Counter (or AC) determines the skills and actions at a character’s disposal. Unleashing these moves depletes your Assault Counter, however it recharges over time. Technical Points (TP) gauges your usable skills, which replenishes itself by performing attacks or using items. Unified attacks with other party members also return for stylish, hard-hitting animation sequences. J-RPG eye candy at its very finest.

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Strategically, you can customise your team to best suits your style of play, although is by no means necessary if you prefer a simpler approach. Difficulty is subtle enough that even a basic approach to your available skills and abilities will have you mowing down enemies like unyielding blades of grass in a meadow. What I’ve always enjoyed about Tales’ combat system is how dynamic and fluid everything feels in battle, intense enough to make you feel as if timing matters, but not enough to induce unnecessary anxiety either.

Graphically Xillia 2 is a pretty affair, maybe even more so than the original. The field is rendered in 3D once again, although looks crisper and more realistic, at least to me. At times, the sea of vibrant colours livens up the world of Rieze Maxia beyond what I remember from the original Xillia, painting the town in a splash of liveliness from the scenery to the colourful cast of NPC characters.

Although subtle, the cross-over of usable downloadable content from the first Tales of Xillia title is a welcome addition to the sequel. All existing costumes and downloadable goodies that have been pre-purchased can be used in Xillia 2, with new costumes for playable characters also available for purchase if you feel so inclined to do so.

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Tales of Xillia 2 is a suitably competent sequel to the original Xillia, and lives up to its Tales heritage. There’s more to love than loathe in Xillia 2, however to get the most out of the characters and world of Rieze Maxia, it is recommended you re-visit the original tale before embarking on Ludger’s adventure. It’s hard not to recommend Tales of Xillia 2 given it is one of the last truly great J-RPGs to be released for the PlayStation 3.

8.5 – Great. An enjoyable experience, fans and newcomers of the genre will be entertained. Any noticeable flaws are largely outweighed by the positives.

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Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate Review http://www.esperino.com/warriors-orochi-3-ultimate-review http://www.esperino.com/warriors-orochi-3-ultimate-review#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 03:06:33 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=22017 Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is a re-release of the previously available Warriors Orochi 3 title and an update to the Wii U exclusive Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper, packing more extras and loads more punch over the original Warriors Orochi 3. The most comprehensive release for the Warriors Orochi series to date, there’s plenty to like about the Ultimate variation, particularly given this is the first time the series has emerged on next generation consoles.


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Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei
Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One
Players: Single-Player, Co-operative
Genre: Hack-n-Slash
Release: (AU) September 5th, 2014

The story is essentially the same as Warriors Orochi 3 and the Hyper update for the Wii U. Takenaka Hanbei, Sima Zhao and Ma Chao are the last three remaining warriors heroes, after the demonic multi-head Hydra has slayed all others in battle. On the brink of defeat, Princess Kaguya sends our trio of heroes back in time to save their friends before what would have been their eventual demise. By saving and ‘collecting’ new heroes to the team, the roster of playable characters continues to grow ensuring the gameplay remains fresh and engaging.

It’s up to you how things unfold, as battles diverge in story-based missions and your immediate actions influencing the cause of history. Special bonds between characters strengthen relationships between characters, improving your allied forces as they prepare to do battle with Hydra once more.

Ultimate includes the full roster from the original Warriors Orochi 3, as well as the additional characters from Hyper, and introduces new characters such as Tamamo, Yinglong, Kyūbi and more. Cross-over characters also make an appearance, including Kasumi (Dead or Alive 5), Sophitia (Soulcalibur IV), and Sterkenburg (Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland). It’s a nice touch that further adds variety to the format.

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Further expanding on the story, two new major story arcs have been added, including The Tale of the Latter Day, after the defeat of Hydra and the emergence of a new threat, and The Tale of the Former Day – taking place before the events of the first Warriors Orochi title, focused on Orochi’s origins. New side stories provide further development for characters who are less involved in the main story arc, offering greater insight.

Duel Mode from Hyper returns, as does an all-new Gauntlet Mode, a sort of survival mode set in a multi-levelled dungeon environment. Weapons, levels and experience earned in here are retained for other modes, with plenty of rare materials and weaponry to farm across the treasure chest laden battlefield. It is reminiscent of a quasi-dungeon crawler with a unique Musou twist, particularly worth trekking through given some items and weapons are exclusive to Gauntlet Mode. I thoroughly enjoyed Gauntlet Mode in co-op play and it is one of those welcome inclusions to the series that I hope they carry over to all future titles.

If you already have a save file and existing downloadable content from Warriors Orochi 3, it can all be thankfully transferred over to Ultimate, however if you are purchasing the PS Vita version, this option will not be available for downloadable content and you will have to pony up extra cash to gain access.

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Asides from a revised roster, the experience cap has also been tweaked from 99,999 to 999,999 with a max level cap of 100 (versus 99 for previous games). Character growth is further improved via weapon enhancements and character stats, leaving a degree of customisation for players to tinker with. Once you’ve maxed out your character’s level, you have the ability to reset stat bonuses up to three times before locking in your optimal character setup. It’s a thoughtful inclusion that fans can immerse themselves into for hours on end.

Items play a deeper role in Ultimate, with up to six available item slots per player unlockable throughout the course of play. With the extra inventory capacity, new items have been introduced to the game as well.

Gameplay at its core remains largely unchanged, with full blown hack-n-slash action blowing up the screen with a stream of colour and energy bursts. The battle line-up of three available characters per mission is still included, as is the option to interchange between each character, but you can now have all three characters simultaneously on the battlefield at once with the tap of a button. Each character now has a second personal skill which contributes to the team’s overall stats.

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“Triple Rush” Switch Combos have been introduced; effectively a souped-up team attack which launches enemies into the air for you to combo out to your heart’s content. Unique team builds triggers special attacks for specific character groups, with more than 50 team combinations available for you to experiment with.

Aerial gymnastics appears to be all the rage in Ultimate with the all-new “Mid-air Tie Up Action” attack, an aerial assault which depletes the Musou gauge, executing a special move determined by the user type. It has that certain Musou style that with plenty of visual flair for fans to admire.

If you’re playing co-op and want to get a little extreme, or ultimate in this case, you can now execute a “Shin Musou Burst”, where all six characters attack all at once with a special energy effect. It’s absolute mayhem in the screen but funnily captures the essence of a Warriors Orochi title in all its glorious mess and I mean that in a good way.

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Although graphically pleasing, Ultimate doesn’t take full advantage of the powerhouse of the PlayStation 4. In comparison to Hyper, there isn’t all that much noticeably different between the two titles. There is the odd pop-ins at times and during one of my first missions, I found myself stuck in a mountain which required a hard reset for my character to dislodge out of. That being said, it is the most stylish and visually impressive Orochi title to date, and a nice stepping stone for future titles to come.

Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate takes the series one step further, with a decent complement of tweaks and updates to justify upgrading for existing fans. Newcomers to the series will find plenty to do and see, particularly with the introduction of the Gauntlet Mode. There’s hours of gaming on offer with a line-up of characters just as over the top as the addictive gameplay it delivers. A brilliant first step into next generation gaming for the series.

8.5 – Great. An enjoyable experience, fans and newcomers of the genre will be entertained. Any noticeable flaws are largely outweighed by the positives.

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Xbox 360 Special Edition Blue Bundle Available 1st October http://www.esperino.com/xbox-360-special-edition-blue-bundle-available-1st-october http://www.esperino.com/xbox-360-special-edition-blue-bundle-available-1st-october#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 05:21:01 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=22009 Microsoft will be launching a special edition blue Xbox 360 bundle on October 1st, 2014 bundled together with Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty Black Ops II.

With the holiday season just around the corner, the brand new bundles are perfect for re-visiting some old classic titles, as well as a new range of games due out before the year end.

Asides from the blue variation, a standard 500GB Holiday Value Bundle will also be available. The unit will comes with a copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty Black Ops II, a black controller and one month access to Xbox Live Gold, priced at SRP AU$279.

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EB Games in Australia will be exclusively selling the special edition blue bundle, sporting an iconic blue console and controller with arctic blue accents. This bundle will also come packed with a 500GB hard drive, Call of Duty: Ghost, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and a month access to Xbox Live Gold for AU$279. EB Games will have them instores from October 7th, 2014.

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If you still haven’t bought an Xbox 360, or maybe need an upgrade to your existing system, why not go blue and add something a little different to your gaming setup.

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Nintendo 2DS Transparent Red & Blue Bundles Coming to Australia December 4th http://www.esperino.com/nintendo-2ds-transparent-red-blue-bundles-coming-to-australia-december-4th http://www.esperino.com/nintendo-2ds-transparent-red-blue-bundles-coming-to-australia-december-4th#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 05:05:36 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=22007 Nintendo Australia have confirmed two new Pokemon 2DS bundles will be released on December 4th, 2014 in Australia and New Zealand.

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Inspired by the upcoming Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, the new designs come in a transparent red or transparent blue, each pre-loaded with a copy of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire respectively. The bundles will retail for AU$179.95 each in Australia.

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These new Nintendo 2DS consoles present the hardware in new eye-catching forms. Aside from the side paneling, both offerings are transparent in design, revealing the skeleton of the system underneath both the front and back of the system casing.

Nintendo Australia also confirmed today selected Club Nintendo members will be receiving an email code for Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Special Demo Version from October 15th, with the standard demo available to the public from November 3rd.

The Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Special Demo Version features gameplay that players won’t experience anywhere else. During the course of this early adventure, players are likely to encounter a familiar Pokémon that can now Mega Evolve.

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What’s more, this Mega-Evolved Pokémon can be brought into the full Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire games. Reward items obtained during the Special Demo Version adventure can also be brought into the full game. Details about how to bring Pokémon and items into the full game will be made available at a later date. More details to be available at http://www.pokemonrubysapphire.com/en-au/

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Pre-orders for the Pokemon 2DS bundles can be placed at EB Games Australia here.

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New Nintendo 3DS Launches in Australia on November 21st 2014 http://www.esperino.com/new-nintendo-3ds-launches-in-australia-on-november-21st-2014 http://www.esperino.com/new-nintendo-3ds-launches-in-australia-on-november-21st-2014#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 04:31:20 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=22005 The New Nintendo 3DS will be available in Australia from November 21st, 2014. Bucking the trend of other regions, Australia and New Zealand gamers will have access to the new console before the beginning of 2015.

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Announced during the first ever Nintendo Direct Australia broadcast, the New Nintendo 3DS will retail for AU $219.95, while the larger New Nintendo 3DS XL will have a suggested retail pice of $249.95. Interestingly, the AC Adapter will be sold separately for $14.95, however the unit will also use the exact same chargers from Nintendo 3DS/3DS XL/2DS/DSi/DSi XL systems so you may want to hold on to your old charger.

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The new C Stick, ZL button and ZR button, which will enhance the play controls of the existing Nintendo 3DS hardware in compatible titles, have been added, and the new “super-stable 3D” function will provide players with a more comfortable 3D gaming experience. Furthermore, the new “NFC feature” built- in for these consoles will enable the use of amiibo.

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The New Nintendo 3DS is also compatible with exchangeable “cover plates” which will be sold separately. Unfortunately the cover plates do not work with the New 3DS XL models.

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The New Nintendo 3DS will be available in white only, while the New Nintendo 3DS XL will come in metallic blue and metallic black. Below are a list of Australian retailers who are currently taking pre-orders for the new system. Mighty Ape appear to have the best price, excluding delivery cost.

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New Nintendo 3DS – AU$219
New Nintendo 3DS XL – AU$249

Mighty Ape

New Nintendo 3DS – AU$209.99
New Nintendo 3DS XL – AU$239.99

EB Games

New Nintendo 3DS – AU$219.95
New Nintendo 3DS XL – AU$249.95

Will you be updating to the new system on launch?

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inFAMOUS: First Light Review http://www.esperino.com/infamous-first-light-review http://www.esperino.com/infamous-first-light-review#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 22:22:43 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=21994 inFAMOUS is back, well sort of. inFAMOUS: First Light is the latest release in the inFAMOUS franchise, a stand-alone prequel to the hugely successful inFAMOUS: Second Son of earlier this year. It’s a compact package that will entertain, although not to the full extent of Delsin’s larger, grander adventure.

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Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation Network, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Players: Single-Player
Genre: Open World Action-Adventure
Release: August 27th, 2014

First Light plonks you in the shoes of Abigail “Fetch” Walker, a conduit with the ability to manipulate neon to her bidding. Making her debut appearance in Second Son, First Light traces Fetch’s backstory providing sort of an origin take on her unusual superpower.

Being pursued by anti-Conduit DUP troops, Brent and Fetch prepare to depart the shores of Seattle for good. Of course, there’s one last job (there always is) before they can begin a new life and things don’t go quite to plan, leading to her brother Brent being kidnapped and Fetch on a mission to find him. Simple enough plot.

Fetch can tap into her neon power set to run at high speed, hurl brightly charged neon bolts, and even draw graffiti around town in her own uniquely different way. Unlike Delsin and his trio of powers, Fetch only has access to one power type which can feel like a step backwards.

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Upgrades for her neon abilities become available by completing games of tag with swirly energy wisps, collecting red neon charges hovering high above the city skyline, or tagging the town with neon artwork. You’ll have to get familiar with Fetch’s abilities to reach some of these harder to get to locations.

To find Brent’s whereabouts, Fetch takes on a series of mission-based jobs for Shane, Brent’s old boss where you’ll be on bodyguard duty discharging deliciously colourful charges into the city’s unsavoury residents. The missions aren’t all that mind-blowing but serviceable as a means of driving the plot forward.

Fetch is instantly likeable with a personality that many will warm to straight away. Drawing comparison with Delsin, she’s fair more tame in her attitude towards her newfound abilities and perhaps that air of responsibility and driven motivation to do something meaningful with her talent is the reason.

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The narrative bounces between the past and present day as Fetch recounts her past to DUP Chief Brooke Augustine. Held as a prisoner, Fetch is put through her paces in a series of trials to test out her abilities. With the story taking place in the past, the relation between these mini-test arenas and actual plotline can make the pacing feel disjoined. Battling holograms in a confined space felt unnecessary and almost unwarranted for what is expansion content.

Much like Second Son, First Light looks gorgeous visually with a large open playground for Fetch to roam around. The glow of neon signs illuminating the city, ad does the neon energy emanating from Fetch’s palms which reminds me of why I enjoyed Second Son so much.

Unfortunately the city can feel empty and under-utilized. Running around town performing the same old tasks feels like more of a chore at times, particularly as I could complete so many of them without upgrading once. Fetch is only privy to the south of Seattle as well, with the entire north section cut off altogether.

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Combat is easily one of the best parts of First Light, and downright fantastic fun. Sure, Fetch is limited to one power set but there are loads of things to do from slowing down time to fire off a precision neon bolt at enemies’ weak points, to going all out with a super move to shred mobs in style. Movement around Seattle is fluid and zippy, clinging to walls and pounding pavement with ease.

Sucker Punch obviously intended First Light to be a pseudo-expansion and nothing beyond that and at only 4 hours long provides a darn good piece of story-telling for a low $24.95 RRP asking price. Hopefully Sucker Punch will provide Fetch with more play time in future releases and beyond.

8.0 – Great. An enjoyable experience, fans and newcomers of the genre will be entertained. Any noticeable flaws are largely outweighed by the positives.

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Flockers Review http://www.esperino.com/flockers-review http://www.esperino.com/flockers-review#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 09:43:32 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=21988 Right from the outset, it’s clear that Team 17’s Flockers is set to be one strange ride. It’s not that its ideas are particularly wild or that it does anything notably new, but rather its oddities come from the fact that its various parts appear to be working against each other. Unfortunately, this issue goes far beyond the presentation and permeates the experience as a whole, making for a title that’s fun in spurts but ultimately tough to recommend.

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Developer: Team17 Digital Ltd
Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd
Platform: Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network (Reviewed), Windows PC
Players: Single-Player, Multi-Player
Genre: Action Strategy
Release: September 19th, 2014

On one hand the sheep designs are downright adorable, looking like something from a children’s morning show. The frequent bleating is certainly amusing throughout, especially as they reach you directly via the PS4’s dualshock speaker. There’s a real sense of humour here too, as evident in the unlockable costumes and stage names, all of which are linked to an amusing sheep-themed pun. How strange it is then, when the little blighters meet a gruesome – and extremely bloody – end. Much of this mess can be turned off in the main menu, but those about to send us links to Happy Tree Friends should understand this is just the representation of a far deeper problem.

You see, it’s your job to save the flock from the business end of a buzz saw by granting powers, stacking sheep to reach new heights, leading them across buttons and eventually to safety. The trouble is that unlike Lemmings (which was tough yet accessible and gave us hours of joy before laying the smack down), nothing here is all that intuitive or addictive. Rewards are too few and meaningless to really push you onward when things get tough, with too little variation in the landscape to keep things interesting. One day developers will realise that it’s not a smart move to keep us in brown factory stages for long, or at least, one can dream.

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Timing is key in Flockers so you’ll need to stay alert when it comes to guiding them through. Only a single brave sheep need survive to achieve basic completion, but saying such a thing would be to discount the fiendish complexity with which the stages have been designed. Warp points and gravity reversals can complicate things more than they should, but it’s clear that real effort’s been made in devising the devilish traps. It’s just a shame that the game’s over-reliance on trial-and-error will likely cheapen any appreciation you may have otherwise had.

An example: you only have one super-sheep in the group, but you didn’t account for one little jump, blade or wall ahead so your little guy is about to go really well with a helping of mint sauce and gravy – now the only option open to you is yet another restart. This pattern will become all too familiar should you spend any meaningful time in the world of Flockers. As such, this game is best enjoyed in short bursts rather than extended play sessions.

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Puzzle fanatics will certainly enjoy the game more than those with limited patience. The sky-high difficulty means you won’t finish it in anything like a few hours, though you’re advised to think long and hard about your gaming preferences before you succumb to the doughy eyes of the flock and go in for the purchase. We’ve all seen this kind of game before, done better before, but not enough in recent times to completely write Flockers off as a lost cause.

Determined players will find a short-lived sense of accomplishment when their sheep avoid being sheared into oblivion. Regardless, the game could have been so much more had its gameplay been approached from a different angle. As negative as this review may rightly be, I recognise that there was, and still is, a great deal of potential here. A greater balance between fun frolics and healthy challenge as opposed to nasty trial-and-error could lead to a sequel that’s much more appealing to the average player. Right now, this is one flock in desperate need of a good shepherd.

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5.5

5.5 – Average. While it does nothing exceptionally bad, it does nothing exceptionally good either. It may be fun for a while but it will struggle to maintain any interest.

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Murdered: Soul Suspect Review http://www.esperino.com/murdered-soul-suspect-review http://www.esperino.com/murdered-soul-suspect-review#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 05:05:22 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=21984 Murdered: Soul Suspect on paper appears infinitely promising with its premise, but doesn’t quite reach its potential. The gameplay is unique, as is the world of Salem where everything takes place but ultimately feels like a wasted opportunity. The game never drew me in to feel engaging, but isn’t entirely bad either. By the end of it all, my feelings towards Murdered: Soul Suspect was left in a state of limbo.

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Developer: Airtight Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
Players: Single
Genre: Action Role-Playing Game
Release: June 5th, 2014 (ANZ)

Taking on the role of Detective Ronan O’Connor, you’re immediately thrown out a window while investigating the Bell Killer, a brutal serial killer terrorising the good citizens of Salem, Massachusetts. Caught between the spirit realm of Dusk and the real world, the Bell Killer fills Ronan with a few rounds from his own gun, leaving our unlikely hero trapped as a ghostly resident. Through a brief interaction with Ronan’s deceased wife Julia, we learn Ronan still has unfinished business to tend to before he can move on from the living world. This initial interlude effectively sets the plot as Ronan investigates his own murder, while adapting to his newfound ghost abilities.

These extra cases serve as a distraction from the rather thin plot. It’s clear to see the direction Airtight Games were reaching for, although perhaps trying a little too hard to captive an audience given how disengaged I felt from Ronan’s plight. Neither Ronan’s predicament nor personality resonated much with me and I’m not entirely sure why. The motion-captured characters and voice acting weren’t particularly bad in my mind, so it could be due to the character development feeling underdone.

Murdered plays out in third-person view, with Ronan moving between buildings, streets, graveyards and apartments scattered around town. Naturally as a ghost, Ronan is capable of passing through walls however there are limitations to where he can and can’t go. This makes navigating loads of fun; however the line between reality and the fabric of dimensions can quickly become blurred, feeling more like a case of gaming glitches at times than something individual and unique.

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Being about to teleporting between spirit residues to hide from lurking demonic entities makes for a nice game of cat-and-mouse, before stalking one of these predators and dispatching them with a QTE (quick-time event) attack. If you fail, its back to hide-and-seek until you successfully input the right command, sending the spectre off to the nether realm.

No longer able to communicate with the real world, Ronan will need to tap into the thoughts of living. By influencing the thoughts and actions and his unaware targets, Ronan can employ a special brand of interrogating to piece together clues in order to unravel the truth. It’s an intriguing voyeuristic approach to gameplay that doesn’t feel invasive but not fully developed either. Each target generally only has two thought patterns before repeating themselves, with many mind-readings adding very little to all the sleuthing you get up to. The pay-out doesn’t justify the effort in most cases, and even if Ronan’s powers of deduction lead to the wrong conclusion, there’s very little consequence.

Conversing with the other poltergeists that call Dusk home is mysteriously fascinating, like trying to unravel a ball of yarn one thread at a time. Uncovering new information and hidden memories were some of my most memorable highlights of Murdered.

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Asides from solving Ronan’s own case, the spirits that reside in Salem presents side quests which; being the inquisitive detective he is, takes on board to complete in order to send them on their way to ‘the other side’. There are also collectibles littered around town for you to collect if hoarding a mixed bag of knick-knacks is your kind of thing.

Murdered‘s visuals are fairly decent with clever use of light effects, shadows and use of a dark palette, but given I played it on a PlayStation 4 console, it felt more last gen than next gen in comparison to other available titles.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is the kind of title you want to see publishers taking a gamble with. It’s different and a welcome change, albeit could have been better produced with more thought in its investigative techniques. Murdered won’t be for everyone, but I appreciate the direction Airtight Games were heading despite a few missteps.

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6.5 – Above Average. Fun but it is let down by some questionable design choices. While it has its own identity, it doesn’t go beyond its own limits.

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Disney Infinity 2.0 Pre-order Offers in Australia http://www.esperino.com/disney-infinity-2-0-pre-order-offers-in-australia http://www.esperino.com/disney-infinity-2-0-pre-order-offers-in-australia#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 03:41:12 +0000 http://www.esperino.com/?p=21976 With Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes just a week away, I decided to take a look at what’s available from the various retailers across the country.

Pre-order Disney Infinity 2.0 at EB Games before launch and you’ll also score yourself a bonus figure. There are 7 figures to choose from, including Rocket Racoon, Groot, Drax, Captain America, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Iron Fist and Venom.

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Starter Packs start from $79.95 and are available on a different range of platforms. You can check out availability via EB Games online.

A Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes Collector’s Edition was also available exclusively through EB Games in Australia on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, however that was literally taken off their website a few moments ago. You may still be able to pre-order it via in-store or calling their customer service helpline.

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The Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes Collector’s Edition includes:

  • 1 Marvel’s Avengers Collectible Stand (Requires 4 x 1.5V Size Batteries. Batteries not included.)
  • 3 Marvel Super Heroes Figures: Hulk, Hawkeye, and Captain America
  • 1 Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes Starter Pack, including:
  • 1 Disney Infinity 2.0 Video Game Software
  • 1 Disney Infinity 2.0 Base
  • 3 Marvel Super Heroes Figures: Iron Man, Thor, and Black Widow
  • 2 Marvel Super Heroes Toy Box Game Discs
  • 1 Marvel’s The Avengers Play set Piece
  • 1 Web Code Card
  • 1 Poster

This is the premium available bundle, and will set you back $249.95 AUD.

Over at MightyApe, they are running a similar free figure promotion, except you won’t be able to choose your free figure. Prices start at $79.99 (excl. shipping) and you are restricted to Nick Fury as a bonus figure only. You can place a pre-order via the link here.

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Lastly, we have Target in Australia who have put together a rather nice bundle as well. For $89 on a variety of platforms, you will receive a Disney Infinity 2.0 Starter Pack, a Nick Fury figure, as well as a Disney Infinity carry case.

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This promotion is only available in-store at the moment. You can place a pre-order directly with them at your local store if this is your deal of choice.

Will you be picking up Disney Infinity 2.0 on day one? The game is due out on September 18th, 2014.

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