VuePoint: Coming Soon in 2017

Well, 2017 has been pretty great for us gamers so far right!? Resident Evil 7 and Nioh have already blown a significant hole in my budget. Horizon: Zero Dawn is just around the corner, with its own price tag looming – thank god I don’t have to pay until release! Isn’t pre-ordering great!? Because despite having limited funds and plenty of more important things on my shopping list, I can’t help myself when that shiny “One Click Buy” button glints.

With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at some of the great stuff we have coming over the course of the next year. I hear many people saying that this article would have been better at the start of the year, and to that I say…well…good point.

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VuePoint: NIOH

Let me just get one thing out of the way. I love the Souls games, and I also love the Souls-like games. I have got the 100% Platinum trophy for all three Dark Souls games, as well as Bloodborne and Demon’s Souls. I am working on the platinum trophy for Lords of The Fallen, which I don’t enjoy as much, but still love. Salt and Sanctuary is up there with my favourite indie games of all time. I have a certain degree of experience with the unforgiving nature and cruel difficulty of Souls and Souls-like games. That being said…

…NIOH KICKED MY ASS.

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NIOH takes the tried and true formula of the Soulsborne (hereby referred to simply as SB) mechanics—managing stamina to block, dodge and attack, controlling enemy numbers, levelling up individual stat points, and losing everything if you die— and applies them to a Japanese Samurai setting. This is all super cool, and although it has its own sense of style, its own unique little design elements, and just generally its own distinctive flavour, at its core it’s still a Souls-like RPG.

It isn’t out yet, but I recently spent a whole week totally bashing the final beta test for the game, so I have a lot to talk about. Hopefully I can help you decide whether it’s worth spending your hard-earned cash on, come release day next week (the 8th of February to be exact). The strange thing about this game is that if you hated the SB games, you’ll probably not enjoy this one either as it shares similar turnoffs to that series—mainly the difficulty. However, if you did enjoy the SB games, this one might also NOT be for you.

This makes it sound like an objectively all around bad game, which it isn’t, not by a long shot. On the contrary, NIOH is actually really fun to play. It’s a tough one to explain. Whilst it shares its punishing difficulty with the SB games and this may turn some people away, this isn’t an objectively bad feature. Personally, I enjoy the level of challenge the games present, and don’t see it as being “hard” per se.

To me a game is hard if I am unable to progress due to the enemies being too powerful or the puzzles being too obtuse with no clear way of figuring out the answer. SB, and now NIOH, present you with obstacles that are perfectly manageable, so long as you tackle it in the correct way. True difficulty—the unpleasant kind—comes in the form of an objective that is designed to destroy you regardless of your angle of attack, where success comes in the form of a lucky hit, or a fluke.

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SB and NIOH’s difficulty gives you a situation and expects you to learn how to deal with it. Death is part of the process, and as time goes on, you learn enemy positions movements and tactics. Most importantly, you learn their strengths and weaknesses. After some frustration, your fingers are dancing across the control pad as you storm through the area like an unstoppable maelstrom of death.

Combat encounters become puzzles, as surviving becomes just as much about figuring out what an enemy is going to do as it is about skilful dodging and timing your strikes. There is a degree of skill involved—quite a large degree in fact—but as your character levels up and progresses, your skill level increases, making no obstacle insurmountable. Anyway, that’s a generalisation for SB and NIOH. Let’s focus more on what’s in store for the upcoming title.

In terms of the RPG elements, NIOH functions in much the same way as SB. You can equip different weapons, armour, and other such goodies (including spirit animals), and levelling up involves increasing the value of certain stat points. You can also unlock and upgrade new skills—a new feature not seen in SB—and get another level of customisation over your character. Furthermore, each weapon you use increases in level the more you use it. You gain a skill point with each weapon level, which you can use anywhere you want, not just with that weapon. This directly rewards your play style, but also encourages experimenting with other weapons. The lower a weapon’s level, the faster it levels up. Using a low-level weapon that you never use could not only open a new play style for you, but it could also be a quick way to earn some extra skill points if you’re in need.

The combat is fast and furious—at least, it is in two of the three stances available to you. You have two weapon slots, each weapon has three stances: high, medium, and low (basically fast, slow, and balanced), and each stance has a quick and a heavy attack. At first this all seems intimidating, but it honestly isn’t much more complex than the SB combat. A few hours of practice (which, let’s be honest, is a fraction of the time you spend playing these games) and you’ll be switching through stances and weapons in the middle of combat, and sometimes even mid-combo!

Even in medium stance, combat is faster than the SB games. I got the impression that the main focus in combat should be moving around and dodging, rather than tanking and blocking. Other people may have gotten a different first impression. This is still just the beta so there wasn’t a huge amount to go off, but to me speed seems far more important here.

This is where my comments about the combat from earlier come in. It feels very different from the SB games, but also the same. It took a little adjustment (and a lot of death). One welcome addition is the ability to see an enemy’s stamina bar. Each enemy has a stamina bar below their health, which allows you to see when they’re getting tired and plan accordingly. Dancing around an enemy as he wore himself out, only to perform a quick action to regain my stamina and unleash a tidal wave of pain on his defenceless, panting form was remarkably satisfying. 16558967_10209228658807606_1750874732_n

I haven’t even mentioned that manoeuvre, have I? There’s a whole bunch of neat little features that I haven’t touched on. Stamina regeneration, spirit animals, multiplayer, they’re all things that I got a mere taste of in the demo. I could go on for pages, but instead I’ll begin to wrap up. You’re reading this, wanting to know if you should spend your money on NIOH. Here’s my verdict: If you didn’t like the SB games, try and find a demo of this, it’s at least worth a try. If you DID enjoy the SB games, I would recommend a rental if one is available. Or borrow it from a friend. There won’t be enough in a demo to give you a full understanding of the features it brings to the table. Before you pay full price and dive in headlong, consider the risks. This game has some heavy influences from SB, but is also very different, so be sure you know what you’re getting into.

Personally, I will be buying this…if I can justify spending another £50 as I’ve just bought Resident Evil 7. My bank account hates me right now, but I have the willpower of someone stumbling into a KFC at 2am, regardless of their Weight Watchers meeting the following morning. And on that note, I say good luck in the world of demonic fantasy Samurai battles. Enjoy your time with the game, but make sure you know what you’re spending your money on. Until next time, peace out and keep gaming!

Written by: Jack Sutton

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VuePoint: Play Expo Manchester

Well I haven’t written anything for a while have I? Sorry about that, I have a pretty busy schedule, some things slip through the cracks, but fear not! I’m back now with an article that I’ve been trying to find the time to write for weeks now. A few weeks ago (on the 9th of September to be exact), me and some others from BearSleuth went on a little adventure to PlayExpo at Event City, and after walking into the wrong building and finding myself in the middle of a baby and toddler fair, full of people looking at me with confused looks (probably due to my camera gear and geeked-out attire), I eventually made it to the right place.

And what a wondrous place it was.

I’ve only been to a few of these types of conventions, but each time the atmosphere has been electric. Everyone is perfectly friendly, you can become best friends with a stranger thanks to a mutual love of an obscure title, and nobody bats an eye at you wielding a camera! I tried vlogging in my home town once and feared about someone running past me grabbing my camera and taking off with it, but enough about where I’m from, I was in Fandom Central and I was loving it.

One of my favourite things about these events is how people can express themselves and their love for gaming, film and generally anything they want. Given that she’s 20 years old this year, there were understandably a high number of Lara Croft cosplays, but everyone had their own spin on it, which was cool. Hell, I even came across a whole family of Lara’s. mother, daughter, and yes, even the father had donned the tight blue top and hot pants for their family day out!

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Feeling like I had to get into the spirit of things, I picked up an – admittedly overpriced (the only true criticism of these events) – Deadpool mask, and went around asking people to be my sidekick – another stunt that’s acceptable in this environment, but not anywhere else.

Of course, even if you’re a social hermit who hates interaction with other people, there’s plenty to see and do here. Rows upon rows of retro arcade games, every console from Sega Genesis to the PS4 is set up somewhere and even a gaming console where fruit is the controller. I’m not kidding. I made a video over on my YouTube channel, so if you’re interested in actually seeing some of this stuff, there’ll be a link at the bottom for you to go check it out!

Unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of brand new content to check out. A few indie puzzle and platform games were set up, and something called the “Battle Zone” invited players to try out the new PS4 VR in head to head matches with other people. This sounded super fun, so we jumped into the queue as soon as we saw it. Alas, due to the estimated waiting time and the fact that we didn’t have as much time as we might have liked, we had to pass on trying it out. Next time Battle Zone…next time.

But all was not lost! I did indeed get to experience an – admittedly basic – version of Virtual Reality, in the form of a polygonal tank/robot/mech/shooty game thing (I’ll have you know that was the exact title of the game as penned by the developers). It was pretty cool to actually try VR for the first time, but I do hope that the PS4 version will be better. The game was very simplistic, the controls pretty stiff and the headset itself weighed pretty heavily on my head, resting uncomfortably on my face.

I might be overestimating what VR can do, but in my opinion, the whole point of it is to make you feel like you’re inside the game. The headset should sit comfortably enough that you forget it’s there when you’re playing. If you feel this massive bulky thing crushing your face, you’re going to be fully aware that there’s a massive bulky thing crushing your face, and it’s going to take you out of the experience. Hopefully the PS4 version will be more comfortable to wear – it definitely looks it.

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Let’s keep this article short, as I soon have to return to my busy life and the soul crushing responsibilities that come with it. Just a quick note – I recently got Rise of the Tomb Raider on PS4, so check back here next week for  a full review – DLC and all!

Check out my video of the event below if you wanna see more from the day – including a few snippets from the cosplay competition –  and until next time, keep gaming my friends!

That was this week’s VuePoint!!! Check back soon for a new BearSleuth article!!!

VuePoint: Resident Evil 4

As arguably the best game in the series, it’s hardly surprising that Resident Evil 4 has made an appearance across a whole range of consoles. From the Playstation 2, to the Wii and back again – now available to purchase for Playstation 4 in the store – there is now absolutely no excuse for anyone to have not played this action horror classic.

Now that it’s made the jump to this generation, Resi 4 looks better than ever, with enhanced textures, lighting and character models. Don’t go in to this expecting Uncharted 4, this is still a PS2 game at the end of the day, so there’s only so much that can be done without remaking the whole game from the ground up.

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This is just a remaster with a graphical upgrade, so don’t think you’re buying a new game here. If you played Resi 4 before and weren’t impressed, this won’t change your mind. This is still the same – albeit brilliant – game as it always was. What it did do however, was give me a chance to go back and play it again, and now that I’m older I get to review it. For the sake of this review, I’ll be talking about it like it’s a new game, and whilst I may compare it to its counterparts on other consoles, I’ll be reviewing it as a standalone game, rather than just talking about what has changed…mainly because nothing has. Like I just said, graphical enhancements aside, this is the same game.

Special agent Leon S. Kennedy has been sent to a creepy village to rescue the President’s daughter Ashley from an army of zombie-like cultists. It’s made clear within the first five minutes as you stand over the body of the first enemy you kill, Leon explicitly says “THESE AREN’T ZOMBIES!”. This should be your first clue that this game is unlike any Resi game before it. The over-the-shoulder camera replaces the static angles, and there’s a much heavier focus on action than before.

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This isn’t a bad thing though. Unlike the later instalments, Resi 4 isn’t a straight up action game, and it isn’t afraid to throw some scares your way. These tense moments generally build from the atmosphere across the various locations you find yourself in. Nowhere feels particularly safe, and you’ll probably find yourself frequently spinning the camera to make sure nothing is creeping up behind you. And trust me, things will creep up behind you. God knows where these guys hide, but there have been many occasions where I’ll be fending off a horde of enemies lumbering towards me, only to spot movement out of the corner of my eye and see that they’re coming from all sides.

One particular segment puts you into the shoes of Ashley herself. Separated from Leon, with no weapons and no way to defend herself, you must use the environment to your advantage, outwitting and outmanoeuvring your enemies, rather than just shooting them in the head. The fact that you can’t fight back and your enemies can come from around any corner makes this segment feel more like a survival horror than a straight up action game, and it’s segments like this that future games in the series could have benefitted from.

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Unfortunately, this experience is marred by how painfully unlikeable Ashley is. She’s an annoying, whiny brat, who likes to get herself kidnapped and stand in front of your gun, taking a bullet for her enemies. What a generous move Ashley! Oh wait! No, no it isn’t.

I will admit that her AI is somewhat competent. If you compare it to the likes of the Star Trek game a few years ago, Ashley looks like Einstein. For the most part, she will do her best to stay behind you, and crouch when you aim your gun in her general direction, but her annoying character makes her – admittedly rare – moments of stupidity that much more frustrating. Given the fact that about 70% of the game is an escort mission, this makes some part particularly aggravating. When you get to the end of the game and unlock a huge suit of armour for her to wear in NG+, these problems disappear. Aside from looking hilarious, Ashley becomes too heavy for the enemies to pick her up and carry her away, and completely invincible. Some might say that this makes the game too easy, but personally I really enjoy mowing down hordes of not-zombies, without worrying about her.

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It makes me physically upset to hate on this game for too long, so let’s get back into the good stuff, because despite the problematic companion, this is still a brilliant game. The story of Leon and Ashley escaping from the monstrous Lord Saddler and his minions is a fun one. In true Resi fashion it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and despite being a horror game full of terrifying creatures that can impale, decapitate and just generally mutilate you in a  number of different ways, it still feels light-hearted and entertaining. The cheesy dialogue is very much tongue in cheek, and is delivered well by a talented cast, who bring a diverse range of characters to life.

The cherry on top of the cake is the excellent gameplay. The over-the-shoulder camera allows for satisfying shooting, and the way enemies fly back when you hit them with a shotgun is really rewarding. Your weapons feel powerful, and the upgrades you buy feel useful. The aiming isn’t as precise as I would have liked it to be, and in the shooting department, I feel the need to utter a sentence I never thought I’d say.

The Wii version of this game is superior to the PS4.

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Don’t get me wrong, everything works fine on the PS4. Anyone who’s played Resi 5 will know what to expect, it works in much the same way. The absence of a crosshair is noticeable though. Using just a laser sight to line up shots can be tricky, especially when you have a legion of enemies rushing you and you can’t move when aiming. Even more frustrating is when an enemy pulls out a cheap one hit kill attack whilst you’re reloading. Playing it does feel a little clunky and dated, although I do have a friend who said he likes this feature, so maybe it’s just personal opinion.

The Wii version on the other hand worked great. The responsive motion controls made aiming much easier, and I was pulling off headshots within a few seconds. It may take people a while to get used to this aiming method, especially if you’ve never played a Resi game before.

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All in all, I would consider Resi 4 on the PS4 a worthwhile purchase. There’s plenty of replayability to had in upgrading all your weapons, unlocking different outfits for Leon and Ashley, and even when you’ve finished all that, it’s still a fun game to play. Give yourself a while to get accustomed to the controls if you’ve never played a Resi game before, as it will be very different than your standard 3rd person shooter. But at the end of the day, Resi 4 isn’t your standard 3rd person shooter! It cleverly blends action and horror, with interesting characters, tongue in cheek humour and some amazing creatures and bosses to create – in my opinion – the best Resident Evil game yet.

…That was this week’s VuePoint!!! Check back tomorrow for another BearSleuth Week Geek Out!!!

VuePoint: Open-World

So No Man’s Sky was released a few weeks ago to some pretty mixed reviews. The general consensus seems to be that yes, 18 quintillion planets is an impressive achievement, and technically the game is pretty ground-breaking. Nobody is arguing that. But what good is a huge open universe to explore, when there’s very little to see or do in it? Keep reading, because in this article, I’ll be talking about how important size actually is…the innuendos have started already.

None of the reviews I’ve seen have said that No Man’s Sky is an outright bad game. Unfortunately I’ve not had time to check it out myself yet so I can only go off what I’ve seen and heard. A huge galaxy to explore is inviting, and is the game’s main USP, but repetitive gameplay and a general lack of things to do seems to be holding it back. When you don’t fill an open world with things to do and see that are actually worth your time, the large scope actually becomes detrimental to the game, rather than enhancing the experience. In the case of No Man’s Sky, where the huge scope is the focal selling point in the game, if this happens, that is definitely a bad thing.

Take a game like The Witcher 3. One of the largest open world games I’ve played in a long time. CD Projekt Red made a pretty smart move in dividing up the vast landscape into a collection of smaller (but still pretty huge) sandboxes. This allowed them to have a variety of locations to keep your interest, without having to worry about the technical difficulties in making the varied landscapes flow into each other naturally.

Furthermore, it allowed them to fill each sandbox with contextual, area specific side quests, races, contracts, and other activities, again, without having to worry about the areas in between. Had the whole map been one huge area, the sights would have had to be spread out, making each area less interesting in order to avoid any area from being completely empty.

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Talking about open world games that are impressive in size, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself for not mentioning the Just Cause series. I’m going to throw it back to Just Cause 2 here. Yes JC3 was more recent and bigger in scope, but when playing it is a chore thanks to the downright abysmal frame rate issues, crashes and bugs, I can’t talk too much about it without starting to take huge breaks between each word. That’s right, talking about Just Cause 3 causes my real life frame rate to drop.

I know that makes no sense. And this isn’t a Just Cause 3 review. Let’s move on.

HUGE OPEN WORLD! Just Cause 2 is absolutely insane. I remember my younger self running around, blowing things up for a good six or seven hours, liberating towns, toppling statues and completing activities. Then I opened the map and zoomed out to find that I’d explored maybe three percent of the map? Just like all those ill-advised fuel tanks stored conveniently beside heavy weaponry, my mind was blown.

Admittedly now that I’m older (and possibly snobbier), I can’t amuse myself for as long as I used to in the shoes of Rico Rodriguez. Blowing things up does get repetitive pretty fast, which makes JC2 a strange example of what I’m talking about. It’s a great game, it’s fun, it’s chaotic, but it gets dull after a while. It makes me wonder if it’s possible for a game to be TOO big.

Now, this might only apply to me because I have borderline OCD when it comes to completing a game. I love seeing progress counters tick closer and closer towards 100%, which makes Just Cause 2 my worst nightmare. There are an absolutely insane number of things to do, but many of them are copied and pasted. Blow up a few things, grab the collectibles, kill the General, move on. Its gets stale, and seeing that you’ve liberated sixteen of some two hundred and something colonies is more disheartening than it is satisfying.

Of course I might be wrong, and on some days even I would disagree with that. Some days I like to mute the volume on my TV, head onto YouTube and watch some videos, as I completely ignore any story and smash my way through a few cities. For those moods, games like Just Cause are perfect. And if you (like me) actually enjoy some brainless, repetitive gameplay to keep your hands busy whilst you watch a movie or some YouTube videos, I’d highly recommend it, along with Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mad Max.

Ohhh Mad Max. What controversy you’ve sparked. The film was outstanding, there’s no denying that, and personally I quite enjoy the game. Yes, its repetitive, but there’s a huge open world just waiting to be taken back from Scrotus and his legion of psychopaths. Yes the villain is called Scrotus. Let’s just move past it.

Strangely enough, Mad Max is a game that I ONLY play when I’m in my “sound off, videos on” mood. The story is really not interesting, so I spend all my time destroying the war totems, taking back camps, looting the scavenging locations, and generally blazing my own path through the wasteland. The combat is crunchy, and there are a vast number of challenges to complete. Unlike Just Cause, each challenge or activity you complete either directly rewards you with an upgrade token to improve your base stats, or lowers the control that Scrotus’ generals have over the area you’re in, which is much more satisfying.

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Getting back to the subject at hand – No Man’s Sky. Y’all need to sort it out. From what I’ve seen, I’d be amused for a little while, then it would be demoted to “Sound off, video on” status, before eventually joining the shelf of forgotten, uncompleted games that are gathering dust. God I hate that shelf. I can’t sell them or trade them in, I haven’t finished them yet! So there they wait. Ever played the Bionic Commando remake? He’s on there. But that’s a story for another time.

That’s it for this week gamers! Let me know what you think of open world games in the comments! And what games are gathering dust on your shelf? Keep on playing and I will see you next week!

VuePoint: Games, Games Bond

So this week marks the 19th birthday of Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64. That game was released 19 years ago. Take a moment to let that sink in. Aside from making me feel far older than a 21 year old should, it gave me a great idea for this week’s article. 007 has had quite a number of video game outings, with varying degrees of success, so I’m going to be ranking them from worst to best.

There are three exclusions from this list, and those are: Goldeneye 007 itself, which is pretty clearly the best, and arguably one of the best FPS games of all time. Goldeneye: Reloaded (all versions) will also be excluded – its a great game but lets focus on the non-Goldeneye games. Finally, I’ll only be counting the action shooter games. Partly because I’ve never played any of the others (they were a little before my time), but mostly because side-scrollers, racing games and text based adventures wouldn’t really fit anywhere on this list.

Well, enough of that, lets get to it!

  1. 007 Legends


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To be honest, as far as video game adaptations go, 007 has done well to only have one that’s particularly bad. 007 Legends was released to celebrate the 50th anniversary, and considering it was the video game counterpart to Skyfall, it was painfully disappointing. Starting off during the train top fistfight from Skyfall’s opening, Bond is shot and falls into the watery depths below. His lack of oxygen causes him to flash back to some of his greatest adventures. Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker serve as the settings for a series of uninteresting shooting galleries. As you move from one set piece to the next, shooting anyone that gets in your way, it feels more like Call of Duty than James Bond, but without the finesse and polish the blockbuster series has perfected by now.  Familiar faces trigger a little nostalgia, but it isn’t enough to save this game from mediocrity.

  1. Quantum of Solace


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It’s hardly surprising that one of the most forgettable Bond movies spawned a pretty forgettable tie-in videogame. As far as 3rd person shooters go, QoS is adequate, if a little clunky, but the visuals were pretty impressive for the time, and it allowed us to play through not only the story from QoS, but also featured a few flashback missions from Casino Royale. All in all, there’s nothing blatantly terrible about this game, but its not one that will stick in your mind for very long after the credits roll.

  1. Blood Stone


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2010s 007 Blood Stone suffered a similar fate. Its an incredibly difficult game to write about. Theres nothing abhorrently bad with it, it’s just sort of…there. If you have a spare afternoon and a bit of spare cash lying around, it could provide an afternoon of fun. It’s well voiced by Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Joss Stone (who also provides an outstanding theme song), and the shooter gameplay is functional. A lackluster online mode and forgettable story hold it back though.

  1. Agent Under Fire


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This is where we’re starting to move into the territory of the good games now. Agent Under Fire for the Playstation 2 was an action packed first person shooter, with a Bond who looked too much like Pierce Brosnan to be anyone else, but also didn’t look like him at all. Such confusion in my childhood. Such confusion. Anyway, the story revolved around Bond foiling a plot to replace various world leaders with clones, and took him all the way around the world and down to the depths of the ocean. The plot is completely ridiculous, especially for a Bond story, but its fun and keeps the action chugging along at a steady pace, so I’m not complaining. It also features one of my favourite vehicle segments in any game, offering a diverse range of weaponry to play through as you crash your way through the streets of Budapest.

  1. Tomorrow Never Dies


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After Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies was my first experience with a Bond game. A surprisingly adequate third person shooter for the time, this PS1 classic followed the story of the movie. Media mogul Elliot Carver has devious plans for Nuclear destruction, and it’s up to Bond and Wei Lin – a Chinese agent – to stop him. Using actual clips from the movie helped with pushing the story along, and intense gunfights kept my young self entertained for hours. Not to mention the fact that you got to play as Wei Lin for a while, and when I was but a young lad, playing various characters in the same game (outside of fighting games obviously) completely blew my mind! I was a simple child.

  1. From Russia With Love


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This was a surprise hit for me. Throwing things back to the Sean Connery era, but putting some flashy third person shooter mechanics on it was a pretty great idea. I first played it on my sister’s PSP in the car during a family holiday, but when I got home I found the console version and bought it straight away. A nifty feature allowed you to precisely aim at certain spots on an enemy’s body. This made it extremely satisfying to pull off headshots, snap the rope that enemies used to rappel down walls, and even shoot grenades on their belt to blow everyone to hell. Throw in a few jetpack segments and a car chase or two and we have something pretty damn good.

  1. The World is Not Enough


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Following Tomorrow Never Dies, TWINE took things back to first person mode. Following pretty faithfully to the film, the game took you on an adventure to stop the villainous Renard before he takes over the world’s oil market via a nuclear attack (these Bond villains really like their nukes). If I remember rightly, this was my favourite Bond movie at the time, so playing through the intense set pieces – such as the helicopter with the hanging buzzsaws, or the intense chase ending on a hot air balloon – was particularly exciting for me.

  1. Everything or Nothing


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If nothing else, Everything or Nothing had star power behind it, both in terms of cast and characters. Supermodel Heidi Klum and the brilliant Willem Dafoe lent their voiced to the game, and classic henchman Jaws made a return to torment Bond once more in a number of intense boss battles. EoN also had an original story, and took the gameplay back into the third person realm. Gunplay and hand to hand combat felt right, the cover system worked pretty well (especially for the time), and a handful of intense vehicle segments just put the cherry on top.

  1. Nightfire


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Unlike the other games on this list, Nightfire is so high up because of it’s multiplayer. Don’t get me wrong, it had a solid single player campaign, but I have plenty of memories of going head to head with friends in the splitscreen multiplayer. In my opinion, Nightfire had the best splitscreen since Goldeneye, with some wide open maps, a variety of characters and weapons to choose from, and the ability to add up to 8 AI bots to populate them. The single player also delivered a solid experience, taking Bond across the globe and even into space on his mission to save the world from a fiery fate at the hands of a psychotic villain with access to – you guessed it – nuclear missiles!

  1. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent


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Oooooh controversial. Critically, this game was a mixed bag. Some people loved it, some hated it. I’m in the first crowd. Strangely enough, this game doesn’t even feature Bond as more than a cameo. Instead you play as an ex-MI6 agent, disgraced for being overly brutal. Recruited by Auric Goldfinger to assassinate Dr No, Rogue Agent brings back plenty of familiar faces, as well as some meaty gameplay to get stuck into. The unnamed agent is augmented with some funky upgrades, including a prosthetic eye, which allows him to see enemies through walls, as well as some other cool features. Plus, Rogue Agent gives a huge array of weapons to play with, and even the ability to dual wield. Admittedly, Rogue Agent isn’t for everyone due it’s darker tone, lack of Bond-isms (no gadgets, girls or cars here), and the fact that Bond himself isn’t the central protagonist, but despite all of this, and despite being one of the more challenging FPS games I’ve ever played, Rogue Agent still sits in my memory as my favourite Bond game…aside from Goldeneye…obviously.

 Lets be honest, plenty of you will probably disagree with my list. These are MY favourite games, and sure some of them are for subjective reasons, but Bond has had an undeniably successful run in the video game world. Aside from a few hiccups (only one of which was completely bad), so heres the future of Fleming’s superspy. Let me know what you think of the Bond games in the comments!

Until next week, keep gaming guys!

…That was this week’s VuePoint!!! Check back on Tuesday for a new BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!!

VuePoint: Adaptation Part Two

By VuePoint

Greetings fellow gamers! I hath returned from my hiatus as a 21 year old with a significantly weaker liver, but that won’t stop me from writing! In my last article, I talked about movies and TV shows being adapted to games, and how (in theory) a developer could make that work. Now let’s flip it on it’s head – bringing games we love to life on the big screen.

In my eyes, translating a story from a game to a film would suffer from a lack of material to work with. Aside from a few exceptions, the narrative isn’t the main focus of a game. I’m not saying it isn’t important – far from it actually. A great story can elevate a game beyond it’s peers, but fundamentally, we play a game for the game itself, not the story it tells.

Certain titles like The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption and even Dark Souls if you look hard enough into it, have worlds and plots that would translate beautifully into live action. Sure, the story isn’t the main draw of the Souls games, and it’s easy to completely miss it if you don’t look, but once you start diving into its lore, you’ll find yourself in a vast sea of sub-plots, character relationships and other little secrets that are just perfect for an ambitious film maker to build a cinematic world with.

For the most part though, games are there to be played. I’ll be quite interested to see how the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie plays out, as I personally never really pay much attention to the stories in the games. The majority of games use a story in order to tie one action set piece to the next, so the player doesn’t go too long without decapitating a goblin or blasting apart a robot, and this isn’t a bad thing. Take a game like Dragon Age: Inquisition (Unrelated: I just got it from PS+, Deluxe Edition, £65 reduced to £4.99, score). DA:I has a pretty vague story. Aside from the general “hole in the sky, big bad demon” thing, I played through the whole game without really knowing what was going on, and I still enjoyed every second of it.

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VuePoint: Adaptation Part One: Could Arrow Make A Good MMO?

So all this week I’ve been thinking about adaptations. I went to see the new Star Trek movie, and thought about that god-awful game, I’ve been playing some Resident Evil, and started thinking about those god-awful movies, and then I saw about an American Horror Story VR in development and a potential Life Is Strange movie in the works. So it got me thinking about things that would – in theory – translate well into another medium. This is the first of a two-part article (that’s right! We’re going TV Special style!).

This first article will look at how movies and TV shows could translate into a gaming medium. I’m no games developer, so there may very well be technical (or licensing) reasons why these games don’t exist, but come with me anyway! We’ll take a look at what would be awesome to play, and reflect on those that didn’t do very well.

There does seem to be something of a curse around movie licensed games. Aside from a few exceptions, such as Spiderman 2 on the PS2, most tend to fall flat. Hellboy: The Science of Evil – flew pretty under most people’s radars (and disappointed those who found it), Star Trek: The Game had more bugs than a bushtucker trial, and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct – despite coming off a hugely successful show/graphic novel, and using some of the best loved characters – was downright terrible.

Most movie games are rushed through development, so that their release can coincide with their movie counterpart, hereby riding the hype wave and maximising profits. The idea works on paper but the rushed schedule means many of the games are rushed, and at times even unfinished. Admittedly this wasn’t an excuse that TWD:SI could use, but hey, maybe that was just a bad game.

I mentioned this point a while ago, in my article about superhero games. The way I see it, a developer has two options – make a polished game but slightly miss the movie/series release, which shouldn’t matter if the game is good enough, or (and this one seems more obvious than a slap in the face) BEGIN PRODUCTION EARLIER! Remember in school when you’re rushing around getting all your stuff together in the morning, and your parents just shake their heads and say “Should have done it the night before.” Why don’t game devs just take that lesson and bring it to later life? *sigh*.

ANYWAY! Onwards with the main chewy bit. I’ve been thinking about some movies or TV shows that I’d love to see adapted, and the first one that springs to mind is Arrow and co. The CW’s DC-verse has built up four separate but interconnected worlds in Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and now Supergirl. Four worlds each with a distinct style and theme, with a general sci-fi genre running throughout. Arrow is your dark, vigilante action, Flash has your superheroes with superpowers, Legends has time-travelling sci-fi, and Supergirl brings the intergalactic element.

Picture this, and MMORPG, not dissimilar to DC Universe Online, set entirely in the CW Arrowverse. You start off as a brand new meta-human. You choose your look and your abilities, and make your way through a bunch of distinct zones, each based on one of the four shows. Start off in Star City where the threat is uncovered, make your way over to Central City to call in help from Cisco, Caitlin and Star Labs, realise the threat is not from this earth, so you head over to the DEO for some alien expertise, and finish up in the Waverider with Rip Hunter and the rest of the Legends. It writes itself!

Open worlds based on the settings of each show, with hub areas such as the Oliver’s Lair beneath the Mayor’s office, Star Labs etc, and information and side quests given by all your favourite characters. Y’know what, I’m trademarking this. The date today is the 2nd of August 2016. You heard it here first folks, if anyone wants to make this, get in touch, we’ll get coffee.

Don’t worry, I’m obviously not going to write out a whole game for each idea I have, that one just kinda went on and on in my head and I know it’d bug me if I didn’t get it all out. But this is just one example of a million that could work, given the due time and attention. If a game dev is worried about not getting a game out in time for something’s release, keep working on it, schedule the game for release AFTER the show has ended or film has come out. Set the game AFTER the events of it’s counterpart. Continue the story, rather than trying to tie in with it. C’mon guys! It’s not rocket science!

Well maybe it’s more complicated than that, but taking the extra time to think about stuff like this, and iron out the creases could be the difference between being the latest victim of the curse of the video-game tie in, and making an entertaining title, that’s faithful to its source material yet still offers something new.

It definitely seems doable to me, so maybe soon the curse of licensed video games will be broken. That’s all from me this week, but check back next time for part 2, where I’ll be looking at things from the other side. Find out what games could make good TV shows right here next week!

…That was this week’s VuePoint!!! Check back tomorrow for a brand new BearSleuth Opinion piece!!!

VuePoint: We Happy Few

Ever heard of Compulsion Games? I wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t. I actually had to Google them to do a little research before this article, and found they made a weird little indie game back in 2013 called Contrast, as well as signing with a record label for the soundtrack to it. Now they’re back, and they’re all over the place with their brand new title – We Happy Few.

You may have seen bits and pieces of this at SDCC last week, but I’m going to try to do my best to piece together a coherent understanding of it. Note this is not a review, as I’ve yet to play it (RIP Sony players). So what is We Happy Few?

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Aside from a fairly accurate representation of what Trump’s America will look like, We Happy Few is a blend of survival horror, puzzle-solving adventure, first person action and a splash of RPG thrown in. Topical political jokes aside, WHF looks damn creepy. Set in an alternate 1960s Britain where the Nazis conquered England and went on to win the Second World War, a drug called “Joy” is now distributed to keep the residents of this dystopian village in a state of permanent utopia.

One man decides to stop taking the drug, and finally begins to see the world for what it really is. For example, a bunch of happy smiley people beating a piñata and enjoying the sweet goods is revealed to be a rat hanging from the ceiling, and the “sweets” that the players are enjoying are the rats innards.

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It’s without a doubt one of the most emotionally confusing games around at the moment. The disturbing imagery blended with a bright, vibrant art style reminiscent of Bioshock Infinite means that you don’t want to see what’s happening, yet you can’t look away.

WHF does seem to be inspired by the likes of Bioshock and Dishonoured, albeit with less emphasis on action. There’s definitely action in there, but most of the challenge comes with scavenging parts and items for crafting, as well as avoiding the drug-induced masses who would love to bash your skull in, all whilst wearing happy smiles, with wide eyes and white masks. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

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As I briefly mentioned earlier, WHF isn’t yet available on PS4, so I can’t throw out a full, in-depth review, but XBOX and PC players can jump into this creepy yet beautiful world pretty soon! So lucky you! Or unlucky, depending on how easily you get scared…

…That was this week’s VuePoint article!!! Check back tomorrow for a brand new BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!!

VuePoint: Lego Wars: The Critic Awakens

What’s going on readers, let’s talk about Lego. Childhood toy? Yes. Clever way to allow children to express creativity whilst having fun at the same time? Of course. Ever expanding video game series that faithfully recreates our favourite fictional worlds and allows us to run rampant in them? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Lego has covered a huge number of our favourite places – Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Middle Earth, Marvel, DC and of course – Star Wars. And that’s not counting the original releases they’ve had, and whilst it’s easy to write them off as silly, colourful kids games, I would definitely give them a name I hesitate to give to many things. The Lego games are definitely family games – a term that usually just means kid-friendly, I.e. childish.

I am not ashamed to say that as a 20 year old male, I still enjoy exploring the Lego games, and my attention is always kept until that little 100% completion trophy pops. So with Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens now on shelves, I thought I’d rattle off some of my favourites. I was going to do a top five, but honestly, these first three are in no particular order. I know what my top two are, without a shadow of a doubt, but I had a great time with all of these…

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Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham


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The first Lego Batman was mainly focused on the caped crusader himself, the second expanded into more of a Justice League experience, whilst Beyond Gotham did exactly what it says on the box. It takes us Beyond Gotham and out onto an intergalactic adventure. Featuring Brainiac as the evil mastermind behind a world ending scheme, the heroes are forced to unite with their former enemies, opening up a huge character roster to play with. Killer Croc, Lex Luthor and other memorable faces (as well as a few relatively unknown ones) actually join the team! What fun!

Lego Dimensions


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Holy (insert expletive here). Did you ever think you’d see Doctor Who team up with Batman and Marty McFly? No. Neither did we. I really don’t need to go into much detail about why this one was so good. Remember earlier when I mentioned how Lego covers most of our favourite places? This game sure helped make up the numbers. Plus it introduced real life block building as a gameplay mechanic. It would be higher on the list, but damn it’s a tough category this Lego business.

Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and 5-7


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Technically two games, but given they had eight films to cover, we’ll let them off here. A few people may actually disagree with me on this one, but ever since I was a child, it’s been my dream to run around Hogwarts. It’s why I loved all the individual games (except 4, 7 and 8, but lets not talk about those). Lego Harry Potter combined the creative block building, puzzle solving and humour, with something I’ve been obsessed with since I could say “Quidditch”. I have a very clear memory of staying up until around 5am with a friend, just so we could finish the Order of the Phoenix segment…yes we are sad, leave us alone.

As I mentioned before, my top two are definitely my top two. These are hands down, the most fun I’ve had in a Lego Videogame.

Lego Marvel Superheroes


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Not to be confused with the rather disappointing Lego Marvel Avengers, Superheroes had no movies to follow, therefore no limitations on it’s characters, or stories and rules to follow. The Fantastic 4, The X-Men, the Avengers, The Guardians of the Galaxy and more all showed up to help defend earth from the mighty Galactus, and praise the sun! He wasn’t a swirly space cloud! Marvel Superheroes boasted a vast number of characters, including mother-effing Stan Lee who turned into a mother-effing Stan Lee Hulk! What’s not to love?

Now for my fairly obvious number one…

Lego Star Wars


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No not the original trilogy. No not the complete saga. The original, PlayStation 2 Lego Star Wars. I can almost hear people screaming as I write this. “But Jack!” you’re saying, lets not deny it, “The graphics are nothing compared to the games now! The character roster is limited, there’s no open world…” etc. etc. Yes, on paper, Lego Star Wars is probably the least impressive, but no matter how many improvements to the formula Tt make, or how much stuff they add in to keep me playing, nothing will compare to that first time playing through my first Lego game. Lego Star Wars introduced me to the gameplay system that all the Lego games now run off, and no amount of flashy collectibles or open worlds can change that.

If there’s one thing that the Lego games do well, and this is across the board – it’s how much they obviously love their source material. Each world is recreated with care and loyalty, and a huge amount of research has definitely been done to give fans the most in depth, and possibly even the best experience you could have of that world. I don’t see new games set in the land of Pirates of the Caribbean being made, and all their games have been average at best, so Lego Pirates sits atop the pile. That’s just an example, but you get my point.

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in stores now, and I very much look forward to seeing what how they do it. I only have one concern. One thing that tends to trip the Lego games up is being too reliant on following a pre-written story. Lego Avengers suffered from this, as did The Lego Movie: The Game. The Lego games work best when they are free to do whatever they want, and seeing as how Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens has to make a whole game out of a single film, this could once again be an obstacle…I guess we’ll ujst have to wait and see!

That was this week’s VuePoint article!!! Check back tomorrow for a new BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!!