Why Reducing Clementine’s Role in Telltale’s Walking Dead: A New Frontier Was the Right Decision

When news broke that fans of Telltale’s Walking Dead series wouldn’t be reprising their role as Clementine in the third outing of the critically-acclaimed franchise, people weren’t happy.

The character that everyone had fallen in love with during the first season, and who they had been able to take charge of for the second, had been wrested from their hands and handed a supporting role instead.

Cue plenty of backlash, outcry and negative reactions all over the internet.

twd2With the third season – or to give its proper title: ‘The Walking Dead: A New Frontier’ – now all wrapped up, however, Telltale’s decision to make Clementine a supporting character this time out was the right decision to make in the end.

Of course, fans of the series have become accustomed to the narrative-based games being built around her experience of the zombie acopalypse, and seeing her grow from a frightened little child into a teenage stone-cold killer with her own baggage and survivor’s guilt.

In reducing Clementine’s – or Clem for brevity reasons – role and allowing her to take a step back in proceedings, Telltale managed to provide players with a new dilemma that would pose them other problems in taking up the reins of a new character.

twd3Javier Garcia – or Javi – is the character that gamers now take up in the absence of being able to control Clem, and his introduction poses a new complication in the Walking Dead‘s over-arcing story and gameplay.

Those players, who will have already played season one and two, have grown up alongside Clem as they have played through her travels, and will have a greater connection and sense of who she is – particularly having controlled her in season two.

twd4By forcing the player to guide Javi’s actions and choices in-game, especially those interactions that concern Clem, a new predicament is introduced whereby the player is conflicted by their previous allegiance to Clem and what they, as an individual, would do if they were Javi himself and had only just met Clem for the first time.

It gives rise to a new perspective within the narrative of A New Frontier, and adds an interesting plot point into the game’s style of play that could have become a tad stale if Clem had been the person that the player controlled.

Of course, Clem is not just a mere spectator to proceedings in A New Frontier. (Warning: Spoilers for A New Frontier from this point on!)

twdajBy way of a series of flashbacks, gamers are given the opportunity to play as Clem on a few brief occasions – glimpses that help to fill in the gaps between season two and her introduction to Javi in A New Frontier.

In doing this, Telltale very cleverly give gamers what they want (playing as Clem) in small chunks to tide them over and placate the baying mob who had cried foul when word spread that she would not be the primary character in this season.

Changing this format up prevented Telltale from re-telling a similar story arc to that of season two and, whilst it can be argued that players would not have grown tired of playing as Clem by the end of A New Frontier, freshening up proceedings with a new playable character helped to keep their franchise up-to-date and original.

twd1It would appear that Telltale will hand the reins back to Clementine when season four is put in the hands of gamers, and a season away from her as the main protagonist will switch the format up once more.

Telltale have a knack for this type of narrative-gaming by now, and it’s reasonable to suggest that they should be given credit for sticking to their guns and making players control Javi for much of their latest veture.

Clementine will always be their Walking Dead poster girl, and fans will always want more of her. In reducing their role in A New Frontier, though, Telltale did the right thing to keep things fresh and interesting.

Seven Things We Learned From Microsoft’s E3 2017 Press Conference

Microsoft came, saw and pretty much conquered E3 on Sunday with the 2017 iteration of their annual press conference in Los Angeles.

The multinational corporation laid down a marker for fierce rivals Sony with a superb showing that offered plenty of news on their newest console, a whole slew of interesting and beautiful games and a couple of nice little surprises.

What did we, the gamers, learn from Microsoft’s press briefing though? Here’s a rundown of the most important parts of what the showcase:


The Xbox One X is Going to be Magnificient

xboxonex

Source: The Verge

Project Scorpio is no more. Microsoft officially – and finally – unveiled their latest console offering to the public, and revealed that it will now be known as the ‘Xbox One X’.

Sleeker than its predecessor the Xbox One S – though not smaller, if this specifications sheet shown on Kotaku is 100% true – the Xbox One X is packing some serious muscle under its hood.

With memory consisting of 12 GB GDDRS @ 326 GB/s, a true 4K UHD Blu-Ray drive and a liquid cooling system, among other immense specs, the Xbox One X is certainly the most powerful console made to date.

With an official release date of 7th November 2017 announced too, we don’t have to wait long to get our mitts all over this gorgeous looking piece of kit. Well, that is…


…If You Can Afford it

xbox-one-x-uk

Source: Windows Central

At £449 ($499 for our American cousins), the Xbox One X will not be cheap.

Microsoft has to get bang for its buck from somewhere, considering the amount of research, technology manufacturing and shipping that will have cost them a Scrooge McDuck-esque swimming pool of cash, but the Washington-based company could have priced themselves out of some fans purchasing their new device straight away.

It took a while for some Xbox 360 gamers to part with their money and buy a One when it was released back in late 2013 and, with a hefty price slapped onto the X, it might be a good six months, bundle pack or price drop to persuade gamers to let go of their One console and upgrade to this monster.


You Won’t Have to Stump Up Cash for Peripherals Though

B00CMQTUSS_XboxOne_Controller_RHS78_TransBG_RGB_2013

Source: Amazon

As some form of sweetener to those looking to buy an Xbox One X the moment it’s released, however, Microsoft did reveal that all current Xbox One peripherals – controllers, headsets and the like – would work with the X.

That goes some way to buttering up the Xbox fanbase, but is it enough to really make gamers hand over their hard-earned cash? Only time will tell.


If That Doesn’t, the Raft of Games Will

anthem

Source: Business Insider

Microsoft proudly boasted that it showed off 42 new games during its almost two-hour long briefing on Sunday – 22 of which it claimed were Xbox exclusives – and some of the do look exceptionally impressive.

We already knew that the likes of Crackdown 3, Forza Motorsport 7, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 would be coming to the Xbox One X, but a host of other titles – both AAA and indie – will have piqued the interest of Xbox supporters.

Odd Tales’ The Last Night looks a truly stunning Blade Runner-esque pixel art winner, a sequel to Moon Studios’ Ori & the Blind Forest – called Ori and the Will of Wisps – is drop-dead gorgeous, Bluehole’s critically-acclaimed PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds will worm its way onto the Xbox One X and Bioware’s latest venture Anthem is set to be yet another triumph for the Canadian video game developer.

As Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer, there was truly a game on show for everyone, with family friendly titles all the way to mature content for 18+  gamers on offer. And speaking of Spencer…


Microsoft’s Xbox Chief is Showing His Worth

philspencer

Source: BBC

Since his appointment as chief executive of Xbox’s division in late 2014, Phil Spencer has turned Xbox’s reputation on its head and made the corporation’s video game department a force to be reckoned with once more.

As a staunch video game fan himself, Spencer knows just how important it has been to make gaming the centre of everything good about the Xbox brand – it’s quite amazing to type that out about a games console – and the 28-year Microsoft veteran has turned this potentially sinking ship around.

Each E3 conference that Spencer has headlined has not been short of games, has dispensed with the other entertainment aspects of the Xbox One and all-but-sealed the fate of Microsoft’s ponderous motion control Kinect device.

That Spencer’s name was chanted by those in attendance at Sunday’s briefing shows you all you need to know about how he has given Xbox its pride back.


And Now for Some More Nostalgia

backwards.png

Source: Cnet

Microsoft dropped the mic on Sony during their 2015 E3 press conference as they announced their Xbox 360 backwards compatiblity programme.

Since then the number of titles available to gamers, that fans can play on their Xbox One, has slowly been increased and, despite the feature not being used much according to Ars Technica, it still has some form of following.

Now, Microsoft has revealed that it plans to bring the originaly Xbox’s back catalogue to its One lineup too, and the unveiling went down a storm among attendees.

Whether the company will see a huge spike before a massive drop off again remains to be seen but, for gamers who still cling on to their original Xbox games from all the way back to 2001, being able to play them on an upgrade console 16 years later will be huge.


Sony Need Something Humungous to ‘Win’ E3 2017

Xbox-vs-PlayStation

Source: Digital Trends

With the unveiling of Xbox One X, a tonne of ridiculously good-looking upcoming games and more backwards compatibility to come, Microsoft have laid down the gauntlet to Sony ahead of the Playstation briefing.

The Japanese corporation bounced back with their 2015 ‘E3 of Dreams’ lineup following Microsoft’s return to form that year, and something similar will be needed to prevent the American giant from securing bragging rights this time around.

This was a big press conference for Microsoft and they pretty much pulled it off. It’s up to Sony now to stop casual gamers from switching allegiances.

Microsoft’s 2017 E3 Briefing: Everything You Need to Know

The 2017 Edition of world-famous video game expo E3 is just a week away, and anticipation is building towards what consumers can expect from the three-day event in Los Angeles.

As ever, the industry’s big hitters such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA and Bethesda will all be conducting press briefings to varying degrees, while a whole host of companies, experts and fans will be present to present, critique and get hands-on experience with all the demos and games they can get their hands on.

Microsoft arguably stole the show at E3 2016 with the announcement of the Xbox One S, a slew of cool looking titles, HoloLens and their upcoming Project Scorpio console, and much will be expected of the multinational corporation by everyone at the event and across the globe.

What can we expect to see, hear and touch when Microsoft rock up to E3 then? Here’s the lowdown on all you need to know:


What Time, When & Where?

mse31

Microsoft are doing things a tad differently this year. The Washington-based technology giant normally holds its press briefing at 5pm BST (9am PT) on the first day of the event – usually the Monday – a few brief hours before Sony take to the stage.

However, MS are holding their 2017 conference a day earlier at a later time. This year’s Microsoft briefing will take place on Sunday 11th June at 10pm BST (2pm PT) at the LA Convention Centre.

It’s certainly a bold move from MS who will be giving their presentation first – EA aside – ahead of their two major rivals Sony and Nintendo (although the latter will be sticking to their tried-and-tested Treehouse presentation, rather than a live press event), but it gives them the chance to show off all of their newest gubs 24 hours before the Playstation and Switch producers.


What Can We Expect to See?

scorpio.jpg

There’s only one thing on the minds of Xbox fans heading into E3 2017: Project Scorpio.

Microsoft announced that they were hard at work on their most powerful console to date during last year’s event, and this year MS should come out all guns blazing and reveal just exactly what Project Scorpio.

Xbox chief Phil Spencer has already given hints at to just how monstrous the next Xbox will be, but gamers will be keen to know just what they’ll be getting for the money when the console reportedly launches at the end of this year.

What do we know about Project Scorpio so far? Well, it’ll contain 6 teraflops-worth of “graphical processing power”, an in-built vapour chamber – liquid cooling that will keep the console from overheating – 1TB of storage and the ability to stream games at a 4K UHD resolution.

There’s much more information where that came from too in this handy all-encompassing guide from the boffins over at TechRadar, but we’ll learn much, much more – including potential A-list titles, price range and other crucial factors – when the Scorpio is officially revealed on 11th June.

Will Microsoft open or close with the Scorpio? It’s hard to say. Leaving it until the end of the briefing will give Xbox fans an almighty boost and be a big way to drop the mic on Sony, but could backfire if the pricing of the console is too steep.

Opening with Scorpio would certainly be a way for Microsoft to come out all guns blazing, but giving up their biggest prize from the off could lead to the rest of the conference paling in comparison.

Either way, next month can’t come soon enough.


What About the Games?

sea-of-thieves.jpg

With Microsoft pushing the Scorpio as the major selling point of their 2017 briefing, games and software will most likely take a slight stepback from proceedings.

That’s not to say that fans and gamers won’t be given a vast array of titles to run the rule over, as video game trailers, teases, demos and information are the lifeblood of E3.

Expect to hear updates on the likes of Undead Labs’ sequel State of Decay 2 and Reagent Games’ Crackdown 3, further trailers and demos for upcoming titles such as Rare’s Sea of Thieves, and other first-party developers along the lines of Forza Motorsport 7 from Microsoft Studios.

Third-party games like EA’s critically-acllaimed FIFA series and Activision’s Call of Duty: World War 2 will also no doubt appear, and more ID@Xbox titles (fingers crossed for a Cuphead release date!) will be given their own alloted time frame.

Rumours had circulated that a Halo 3 anniversary remaster or even a vague hint towards Halo 6 may be shown off but, thanks to 343 Industries’ development director Frank O’Connor’s comments late last year -reiterated by community manager Brian Jarrard on Reddit – don’t expect to see either at show.


What Else?

en-INTL-PDP0-XboxOne-Himalaya-Console-Bundle-KG4-00051-Updated-P2

A potential announcement about more upcoming backwards compatibility titles wouldn’t go amiss. E3 2015 saw MS turn the tables on Sony, after the latter had won E3 the year before, by stating their intent to bring as many Xbox 360 games to the Xbox One in the coming years, and Phil Spencer even went as far to say he’d like to see “all” 360 titles eventually playable on the One.

In hardware terms, can we expect to see a new controller? MS has always pushed the boundaries where this is concerned, with the 360 controller deemed one of the all-time greats of gaming.

E3 2016 saw Microsoft unveil its new Elite controller for pro-gamers, as well as a vast array of colour schemes on their website to make your own personalised One controller, so it’s plausible that something of that ilk could also be revealed come 11th June.


Who Will Be Taking to the Stage?

spencer.jpg

MS head honcho Phil Spencer for one. The American business executive will open and close Microsoft’s press briefing as he always does, and will welcome a number of first and third-party dev team leaders onto the stage to conduct demos, talk games and show off footage from their own enterprises.

That long list of names may include Sea of Thieves creative director Gregg Mayles, 343 chief Bonnie Ross – no Halo tease but apparently “a little something” from the company – and ID@Xbox director Chris Charla among others.

There may be a slight surprise or two as well given E3’s propensity to shock audiences with an unannounced game, but we’ll have to wait and see on that front.


How Will the Briefing Go Down?

e3-june-2014-all-about-microsoft-xbox-one

Considering it hasn’t happened yet, it’s difficult to determine. Finally unleashing Project Scorpio on the world would be a massive plus for Microsoft, and showing off some of its most anticipated games for the coming season would provide a massive fillip ahead of Sony’s own conference 48 hours later.

It will be intriguing to see if MS decide to lead or end their briefing with Scorpio as doing either have their own positives and negatives, and it could well be that the reception their 2017 briefing receives will be entirely dependent on how Scorpio is received.

This could be Microsoft’s best chance to close the gap on Sony’s dominance of the console market since 2014. Win gamers over, and they may just ease the pressure on themselves. Fail to deliver, however and they could be playing catch up for even longer.

Why Episode 2 of Telltale’s Game of Thrones Is Their Most Heartbreaking Content Yet

Ask any video gamer which company they associate with story-driven, choice-based content and, more than often, they will tell you “Telltale Games”.

The San Rafael-based video game developer and publisher has become synonymous for its deeply emotional and well structured adventure games ever since the release of its maiden title based upon The Walking Dead graphic novels.

That 2012 leap into the unknown – a critically-acllaimed venture that tugged on the heartstrings of even the hardest of individuals – catapulted Telltale into the limelight, and has led to an exponential growth unlike any other comparable video game developer in the modern era.

telltalewdSince then, Telltale has put all of its attentions on the story-focused, episodic format – save for Poker Night 2 – with a number of highly praised spin-offs of other video game franchises such as Tales From the Borderlands and Minecraft.

It is another of their back catalogue – the licensed Game of Thrones Telltale Series in late 2014 and early 2015 – that led to the company’s first mixed reviews since their breakthrough triumph, and halted the inexonerable march towards the continous praise they had received.

It is also that Game of Thrones series, however, that has arguably a more heartbreaking moment than that played out in the final episode of The Walking Dead’s Season One (beware, spoilers ahead).

telltalewd1

That finale, which sees main character Lee shot in the head, to stop him from turning into a zombie, by the much loved Clementine left fans of Telltale’s Walking Dead series sitting in puddles of tears as the end credits rolled, and led to raft of extremely positive views from many within the games industry.

And, whilst Telltale’s Game of Thrones series may not have the same kind of impact as that scene – particularly given gamers getting used to Telltale’s manner of storytelling – it’s hard to argue that the final sequence in season one’s second episode was just as heartwrenching as Clementine putting a bullet through Lee’s brain.

One extremely poignant scene in Game of Thrones, however, runs that moment close – and, arguably, even outperforms it.

telltalegot1The moment arrives after Rodrik Forrester, fresh from being seemingly killed off in episode one, returns home to find his house in disarray after the deaths of his father Gregor and brother Ethan, and with Roose Bolton having claimed the North after the infamous Red Wedding.

The funeral for the latter two, which takes place in the final throes of the episode, play out against a beautifully crafted song – sung by Rodrik’s younger sister and Ethan’s twin Talia – and brutally nails home how much this family has already lost just one third into the overall season:

Of course, the impact of Lee’s death in the Walking Dead will cause fans of that series to defend that scene to the hilt, and argue that it is that devastating ending which is Telltale’s biggest gut-punching scenario, given that the player has embarked on a five-episode long, 10 hour journey with the characters already in the Walking Dead‘s first season.

For Telltale to evoke such strong emotions just two episodes into its Game of Thrones series, however, showcases how much of an effect these two deaths have already had on those who played it, and leads gamers to feel dejection on the Forresters’ behalf even at this early stage of proceedings.

It will be controversial for diehard fans of Telltale’s Walking Dead series to hear, but being able to draw such powerful feelings out of players, towards the Forresters, so soon into Games of Thrones, is a success in story-telling terms, and lends significant weight to the argument that Game of Thrones‘ second episode of season one is its most heartbreaking content yet.

Who is the real hero of Quantum Break?

QB

Heroes and villains. Protagonists and antagonists. Good guys and bad guys.

Whatever terminology is used to describe them, it is usually easy to recognise who to root for, and who to root against, in any form of entertainment.

In Remedy Entertainment’s recently released Xbox One exclusive title Quantum Break, it seems easy to assume, on the surface at least, who are the heroes and who are the villains.

The player takes control of Jack Joyce, who returns to the fictional city of Riverport after six years away to aid longtime friend Paul Serene with a time travel experiment at Riverport University.

The pair become imbued with time-altering powers after the test goes awry, Paul Serene travels into the future, and returns 17 years older and hellbent on allowing something called ‘the End of Time’ to occur.

Naturally, Joyce opposes his best friend-turned nemesis’ viewpoint and sets out on preventing the onset of a ‘permanent time stutter’ – an event which would see time break down, and hold the world in a perpetual fixed state of immobility.

Serene, who leads the shady Monarch Solutions corporation, is only interested in allowing a select few members of the human race to ‘survive’ the apparent End of Time by initiating the Lifeboat Protocol – a plan which would allow the chosen few to retain the ability to move as they look to find a solution to time’s end.

QB1

So far, so simple with regards to who the hero and villain are – but look a little deeper, and those roles aren’t so easily defined.

If Jack Joyce is not the hero of Quantum Break‘s story, then who is?

There are four potential contenders for the ‘Hero of Quantum Break‘ crown in my mind, and each has their own pros and cons.

Note: Spoilers for Quantum Break are likely from this point on, so turn back if you are playing the game and haven’t finished it, or if you are going to play it at some point.

Jack Joyce

On the surface, it seems pretty clear that Jack Joyce (portrayed by Shawn Ashmore) is Quantum Break‘s undeniable champion.

jackjoyceQB

Along with attempting to stop Serene’s plan to allow time to end, Joyce also has revenge on his mind after Serene seemingly murders his brother and world renowned physicist William Joyce – another action that lends credence to Jack being the good guy as he seeks retribution for this incident.

With the aid of Beth Wilder and either Amy Ferrero or Nick Marsters (depending on what decisions you make at certain junctions in the game) Joyce ends up stealing back the countermeasure (or chronon field regulator) – an object made by his brother that can prevent the End of Time from happening.

Again, it seems logical that Jack is indeed the hero this story needs.

But, during Quantum Break‘s fifth and final act, it is revealed that a) William is actually still alive (he’s saved by Jack himself via time-travel logistics) and b) the countermeasure does not prevent the End of Time; instead it merely seems to halt its inevitable arrival.

So can Jack be viewed as being the hero, when his path for vengeance stands for nothing in the end, and after stopping the initiation of the Lifeboat Protocol, which we can safely presume is the only way that a solution to the End of Time can be prevented?

Paul Serene

Paul Serene (Aiden Gillen) appears to be the primary antagonist of Quantum Break.

He appears to murder Jack’s brother William, kills Beth Wilder when she comes into contact with the countermeasure, and is only concerned with allowing the best of humanity to continue on at time’s end thanks to the Lifeboat Protocol.

But are Serene’s villainous motives as clear cut as they seem?

paulsereneQB

Afterall, Monarch’s head honcho is the only person with a plan in place for such an occurence.

Of course it’s helpful that, due to the time machine experiment going wrong, he sees the End of Time itself and vows to find a way to rectify it when it transpires.

Furthermore, he’s not leaving the other seven billion people on the planet to die – those outside of the Lifeboat Protocol and without the necessary equipment to move inside of the permanent stutter are merely held in place, unable to move due to time’s end.

Providing a solution is found, time would restart and those seven billion individuals would be unaware of anything happening.

Would Serene’s actions not be viewed as heroic, then? Is sacrificing a few people worth it to save the lives of billions?

Beth Wilder

Beth Wilder (Courtney Hope) is an operative employed by Monarch solutions, but whose allegiances lie with the Joyce brothers due to circumstances that are explained during Act 4 of Quantum Break.

Throughout the story, she helps Jack escape Serene’s clutches, aids him in securing the services of Paul Serene’s chief scientist Sofia Amaral to help fix William’s old time machine, and attempts to steal back the all-important countermeasure.

In the end, Wilder suffers a heroic death at the hands of Serene six years in the past due to a cleverly put together plot that sends her both forwards and backwards in time in a bid to locate the countermeasure.

bethwilderQB

But, in being an aide to Jack Joyce to stop the End of Time, she only assists in pushing him down a path which, for the mean time, appears to have been fruitless, what with the End of Time still likely to arise.

Due to other time travel mechanics later on in the story, she also causes her own enclosed time loop – going back in time to tell her younger self that her only priority in life is to stop time from ending and, in doing so, prevents herself from ever being able to live a happy life.

It is often said that the mark of a true hero is to put your own needs aside for the greater good, but what kind of hero would end up being the one who causes their own life objective and untimely death as a result?

William Joyce

World renowned physicist and Jack’s older brother, William Joyce (Dominic Monaghan) is the creator of both time machines that exist in Quantum Break, as well as the countermeasure that can apparently stop time from ending.

willjoyceQB

Building the chronon field regulator, after being informed of its necessity by a time-travelling Beth Wilder, Joyce ends up producing the only object capable of preventing the End of Time.

But, in being the scientist that first discovers the existence of Meyers-Joyce field, subsequent unearthing of time-related chronon particles and, a as result, building two time machines that are able to send things into the past and future using those particles, Joyce appears to set in motion all of the events for Quantum Break – even if it is indirectly.

Naturally, he does all he can to prevent time’s inevitable end, but is it difficult to look past him being the instigator of the events which unfold throughout the game?

The Verdict

So who is the real hero of Quantum Break?

All four individuals are trying to prevent the same thing, the End of Time, from occuring but each character ironically appears to launch its unavoidable onset through their various actions throughout the game.

In spite of this, however, their major decisions and actions can be deemed as heroic – even Serene who, in the end, is only trying to save the human race.

Perhaps the characters will be defined more clearly as ‘hero’ or ‘villain’ in the hinted-at sequels but for now, it is arguable that all four are heroic in some form throughout Quantum Break‘s story.

Review: Valiant Hearts

valianthearts1

Since its inception in March 1986, Ubisoft has had a knack for producing outstanding video games.

Triple A franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Tony Clancy’s Rainbox Six, Far Cry, Rayman and Trials are just a few of the series that the Paris-based corporation has had recent success with.

It is their lesser-known, ‘indie’ titles that have garnered a wealth in interest since 2012, however.

Child of Light was charming, beautifully designed and a throwback to the era of RPGs; Grow Home was also a quaint compute game and showcased an interesting concept, puzzle wise.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War, developed by one of Ubisoft’s subsidiaries, Ubisoft Montpellier, was another game that somewhat flew under the radar upon release in 2014.

So what better time to dive into it, after it was featured as one of Xbox One’s Free Games with Gold titles back in October 2015.

valianthearts2

Set during World War One, Valiant Hearts is a freely-based story telling of four different characters as they navigate the infamous ‘War To End All Wars’.

Players progress through the personally absorbing stories of Frenchman Emile Chaillon, German son-in-law Karl, American solider Freddie and Belgian nurse Anna as they cross paths with each other throughout the four-year long conflict.

The game itself is split into four chapters – each around two hours long – and players are tasked with steering past various obstacles and brain teasers as they progress through the course of the campaign.

Some puzzles are relatively straight forward, while others take a little more time to work out. Fortunately, if you ever do get stuck at a particular problem, the game does provide hints – spaced one to two minutes apart – so you don’t end up getting too frustrated.

Like 99% of all video games these days, Valiant Hearts also hides collectibles in each of its levels and, with over 100 to find, some players may think it a thankless task to locate them all.

Luckily, the vast majority can be found along either the linear route of the game itself (thanks to its 2D sidescrolling design) or just slightly off the beaten track.

Once each level has been completed, players are able to go back and play them in whatever order they choose to locate those elusive optional trinkets if they so wish.

valianthearts3

Another interesting part of the game is its historical facts that players can view, at the beginning of each new section, by pressing the Y button (or triangle button on PS4).

These facts help to educate players about varying aspects or battles throughout The Great War and, though a little invasive and pushy about wanting you to read them, provide a fascinating insight into real life events.

Perhaps the most distinctive design about Valiant Hearts, though, despite its apparent setting, is that you do little in the way of fighting.

Soldiers, aircraft, tanks and cannons attack, shoot, traverse and die around you in both the foreground and background as the player progresses through each section but, save for two short periods of driving a tank while firing off shells and a brief quick-time punch up, there is hardly any combat for the player to partake in.

For a game based around war, it’s an intriguing take on the genre.

Aesthetically, Valiant Hearts is gorgeous – its cartoon-ish style contrasting nicely with the setting of the game and proving that Ubisoft’s art direction is up there with the best.

valianthearts4

The sound direction, too, is superb – the game’s title screen music played on piano providing poignancy to a game set during The Great War, while another moment alongside a French marching band delivers one of a few humorous moments in the game.

Valiant Hearts is by no-means perfect, however.

In keeping with the realism of the setting, taking any damage results in the controlled character dying immediately, and causes the player to pick the game up from the last checkpoint.

It is a refreshing take compared to other games that use health bars or other ways to prevent instantaneous death, but it means one silly mistake can cost the player, particularly if you are engrossed in the unfolding story.

A word too on the boss fights that the game has.

The car chase ‘battles’ at certain points are a tad annoying, whilst another encounter sees you given mere minutes to rescue another character from the hands of a status-obsessed German commander.

Again, it is a welcome change from seeing an enemy’s animation continually fail to bash down a solitary door as you figure out how to stop them, but the time limit can lead to frustration if you need more time to work out just what the strategy, to win, is.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War_20140626183456

The game’s final chapter wraps up the over-arcing story nicely, and throws in a twist that will leave players shocked and, perhaps, slightly emotional.

It’s a move that demonstrates that, despite its cartoon-ish nature, events of this ilk did occur throughout The First World War, and reminds players of the horror of war.

It is this realism that sends out a message of just how traumatising real life events would have been for anyone involved in such a horrific period at the start of the 20th century.

Educating the next generation about past atrocities are of huge importance to prevent events like this happening again.

If Valiant Hearts strikes a chord with anyone and provides that tuition, even through the medium of a video game, then it has done its job.

Verdict: Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a cool eight-hour puzzle-adventure game that acts as a poignant reminder of the events of 1914-1918, and its educational tools add something extra to what could be considered just another 2D sidescrolling title. 8/10

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is available now on Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, PC, iOS and Android.

Life is Strange Review

lis1

It’s not often that a game makes me to sit and take stock of it on multiple occasions.

Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, Remedy’s Alan Wake and Irrational Games’ Bioshock Infinite are just three that have done so in the past few years.

And now another has been added to the list in Life is Strange.

Dontnod Entertainment’s second bash at a video game, coming off the back of 2013’s Remember Me, Life is Strange is a sci-fi-teen-drama-murder-mystery crossbreed that picks up steam throughout, and constantly kicks you in the heart as the story plays out.

Warning: major spoilers occur from this point on so, if you are in the process of playing the game or you don’t want to see how the story plays out, turn back now.

You play as protagonist Max Caulfield, an 18-year-old photography student who returns to the coastal town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, to study at Blackwell Academy after five years away from your childhood home.

In the middle of one of her photography lessons, taught by the renowned Mark Jefferson, Max blacks out and has a vision of an impending tornado that will destroy the entire town.

Then, taking a break in the girls’ bathroom between lessons, Max witnesses the murder of her childhood friend Chloe (unbeknownst to her at the time) at the hands of fellow Blackwell student Nathan Prescott.

It is here that Max uncovers her superpower – the ability to rewind time – and uses said power to prevent Chloe’s murder.

What occurs from that point on is a whole slew of time bending adventures as Max helps Chloe try to track down missing ex-Blackwell student and friend Rachel Amber, uncovering a plot by the Prescott family to take over Arcadia Bay and prevent the tornado wiping out the town itself within a five day period.

And every other teenager thought they had it bad.

lis6

Much like Telltale’s now famous in-game mechanic, Life is Strange sees you interact with fellow students, Blackwell staff and townsfolk, making choices about what to say, via the options presented to you, as you go along.

The beauty with Life is Strange, however, is that Max’s ability to rewind time allows you change your answers as you see fit.

Not happy with how someone just blew you off? Rewind and tell them what they want to hear, based on the previous interaction, and they’ll like you for it.

Need help with solving a particular puzzle? Work your way into a room, reverse the timeline and find that you’re now in said room without having to overcome any major obstacles.

It’s a mechanic that works extremely well, and gives the player the opportunity to find out what each response results in, before the player can decide on what actual action they want to take.

Of course, this power doesn’t always work and, like Telltale’s games, there are certain instances where you have to get by without it.

One such incident, at the end of episode two, sees Kate Marsh, a devote Christian and Blackwell student, attempt to commit suicide by jumping from a rooftop after a leaked video shows her partying and making out with a number of different guys at a Vortex Club party.

Yours – and Max’s – choice of words here decides Kate’s fate – make the right ones and she’ll come down, but choose incorrectly and she jumps to her death.

This is the first time that Max realises her powers cannot be relied upon, and that she cannot save everyone all of the time.

It is another clever plot point conjured up by Dontnod and shows the player that, despite what they’ve done up until that point, their powers cannot be relied on to get Max out of every terrible situation.

Decisions like this continue throughout the rest of the game, such as bringing Chloe’s dad back from the dead (a choice that ends up leaving Chlor wheelchair-bound), saving Chloe from certain death time and again, and trying to help Max escape being kidnapped and held hostage, among other such events.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking decision, though, is left until the final act of episode five.

As the tornado looms large over Arcadia Bay, Max is presented with an ultimatum – save the town, or save Chloe.

lis5.jpg

It is this gut-wrenching choice that you have no alternative but to carry out.

Are you selfish in deciding to save Chloe, the one constant throughout who you’ve repeatedly helped escape Death’s clutches?

Or do you help your childhood best friend in performing a selfless act, to save the many innocent lives that you’ve touched throughout the entire story?

It is a terrible choice to make, and perfectly encapsulates the game itself.

Up until this point, Max’s decisions can be viewed in much the same way as the microcosm put forward in as the final choice in the game’s finale.

On one hand, her actions can be conidered selfish; she keeps Chloe alive in spite of fate’s attempts to kill her off and despite this repeated action causing a gigantic tornado to descend on Arcadia Bay.

And, on the other, Max’s selfless acts that have brought hope, optimism and home truths to those the player encounters throughout the story’s arc.

It’s an excruciating choice to make, and one that took me a few minutes to go over in my head.

As devastating as it was, I made my decision – and sacrificed Chloe.

It seems I wasn’t the only one who took up this painful option, with the end-of-episode statistics showcasing that a fellow 53% of players doing likewise.

And it also appeared that this is what Dontnod wanted gamers to select, with a longer cutscene, showing Nathan Prescott and Mr Jefferson at the hands of the authorities, Chloe’s funeral and Max atop the cliff near the lighthouse at sunset, wrapping up proceedings as Foals’ Spanish Sahara plays out.

Compared to the ending where Chloe is saved – the town is destroyed, every other resident dies in the storm and Max and Chloe drive off into the sunset – it’s no small wonder that some players felt dissatisfied with the ending they received, given that every supporting character in the game is killed off without either Max or Chloe seeming to care one jot.

This isn’t the only complaint with Life is Strange, for me, either.

lis7

Much has been made of the animations since Life is Strange was released last year, particularly those concerning close ups of the characters speaking, with the synchronisation between mouth movement and voice acting looking lacklustre at best.

None more so was this evident for me than in episode five when Max’s mouth failed to even open during her conversations with those present in the Two Whales diner – the gormless look on her face as the subtitles and voice acting carried on as if nothing was wrong took me out of the moment entirely.

The animations of other movements too during conversations seemed to imply a lack of resources, with many characters having a select number of moves during talks with Max that were repeated over and over again.

For instance, the folding and unfolding of arms when Max and David spoke to each other on occasion made for a frustrating, if slightly amusing, battle of who would uncross their arms first.

The loading times when entering certain areas is another gripe, along with a couple of story threads that weren’t completely tied up (where does Max get her power from? And why does Mr Jefferson do the classic villain spiel of “Let me tell you my wicked scheme from start to finish”), but both are minor compared to the above issues

Life is Strange, however, isn’t supposed to be a game that relies heavily on its art style, animations or culmination.

It is a story that transports players back to their own teenage years, with those moments of uncertainty, insecurity and general wondering of their place in the world and universe, and how we all wished to be able to turn back time to rectify our own mistakes in spite of the problems it could cause.

It’s also a story about friendship, sticking up for your mates and savouring the memories that you create with those around you.

Max’s relationship with Chloe, in particular, is one that will resonate with anyone, and causes us all the reflect on our own relationships with our friends and family.

It is this emotional pull that makes Life is Strange what it is, and its story will leave a lasting mark on me for a long time.

Verdict: An emotional rollercoaster ride, Life is Strange provides a fitting alternative to Telltale Games’ narrative-led games. It could have used a tad more polish, but the sci-fi-murder-mystery-drama holds its own and offers up a thought provoking, nostalgic tale of friendship, life and fate. 8/10

Gamers are the winners from E3 2015

e3Throughout the years, with the conclusion of each E3 event, there has been a growing notion that there has to be an outright winner amongst the video game industry’s leading competitors.

In 2013 Sony drew the plaudits with their ‘For the gamers’ centric presentation, whilst last year’s showcase seemed to tip the balance of favour into either Microsoft’s or Sony’s corner, depending on which ‘fanbase’ gamers belonged to.

2015 was no exception to this growing and slightly peculiar trend. This time around, however, it wasn’t a developer, publisher, or giant within the industry who could stand proud knowing that they had won the acclaim of those lucky enough to attend gaming’s most glamarous convention.

This year’s winner was, in fact, the gamers.

And with good reason. The glut of video games that are set to appear on any and all platforms in the next six, twelve, eighteen months and beyond lends credence to the claims that E3 2015 has had the best lineup of titles in the expo’s entire history.

Fallout 4, Halo 5: Guardians, No Man’s Sky, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Star Fox Zero, Tom Clancy’s: The Division, Star Wars Battlefront, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Just Cause 3, Rainbow Six: Siege, Yoshi’s Woolly World and the Final Fantasy VII remake are just some of the multitude of visually stunning, high quality developed titles that will leave gamers sweating over the diminishing funds in their back accounts.

18838042265_a2363c1c3c_z

And that’s just the triple A publications on offer. The indie gaming scene has never looked stronger as well, with the likes of Below, Cuphead, Dreams, Beyond Eyes, Unravel and Anno: 2205 being praised for their gameplay and ingenuity.

Couple these with developments in both virtual and augmented reality (how mindblowing was Microsoft’s Hololens demo?), alongside the revelation that Microsoft has achieved backwards compatibility to enable the Xbox One to play Xbox 360 games (Sony could potentially follow suit in the future), and console gaming looks destined to enjoy a substantial fruitful period.

PC gaming also looks to be in fine health too, in spite of the inaugural E3 PC Gaming show seemingly lacking much charisma or much in the way of genuine gaming reveals, compared to the other seven main stage shows. With many titles destined for consoles also coming out on PC, the ever growing popularity of the Steam community and the ability to pretty much mod any game (Bethesda did hint at bringing mod support to Fallout 4 on console versions during E3 too), computer enthusiasts have no reason to fear missing out on any of the best up and coming titles nevertheless.

Of course, many punters will point to the glaring issue that trailers and demonstrations during E3 are made to look more aesthetically pleasing, and include features that tend to not appear in the final version of the game, in a bid to elevate the hype and excitement enough to pressure gamers into pre-ordering games months in advance of their release.

It is a point worth making. Gamers have been burnt in the past by promises of seeing their most anticipated games running at reduced frames-per-second than was first revealed, or with graphics dumbed down to help games run smoother, or seeing elements of gameplay completely stripped from the final product once games have hit both physical and digital stores. Such revelations can and have led to skepticism amongst the gaming fanbase, with many reluctant to part with their hard earned cash until final versions have been released and reviewed.

18686455989_0bf53b6900_z

The fact remains, though, that this year’s plethora of announcements, demos and press conferences have showcased what appears to be the most diverse and rich offering of video game titles for a long, long time. If a high proportion of developers and publishers can stick to their E3 promises, the next few years have the potential to be the gaming industry’s biggest and brightest era since the dawn of video games themselves.

E3 may have come and gone once more, but there is plenty to be optimistic about. It’s a good time to be a video gamer, that much is certain.

E3 2015: What can we expect?

e3It’s that time of year again. June has finally rolled around and, as has become the customary arrival of the midway point of the calendar year, the video game industry’s best and brightest have begun filing in to Los Angeles ahead of 2015’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short.

The 3 day long convention has seen a momumentally exponential growth in the past ten years as gaming has burst its way into modern day mainstream culture, and 2015 looks to be bigger and bolder than ever, with no less than seven companies looking to win over gaming fanatics with their wide array of games, tech and bold press conferences (eight if you include Oculus’ pre-E3 conference from June 11th).

And, before the task of receiving more news than is possible to memorise and write up about kicks off, it would be wise to take a look at the seven main contenders who are looking to ‘win’ this year’s event, along with what particular titles are likely to be on show during the event.

Microsoft

The technology giant recovered from a below par-2013 E3 showing last year to reclaim some semblance of respect amongst gamers in particular and, fronted once again by Xbox chief Phil Spencer, will be looking to have an even stronger press conference than 2014’s.

microsofte3

Spencer has already revealed that time constraints have ensured that three Xbox One exclusives in Scalebound, Quantum Break and Crackdown will not be presented at E3 – the trio will be given coverage at Gamescom in August – which, considering how anticipated these titles are, is a strange move on Microsoft’s part. One can only assume that Spencer et al belive their E3 lineup is strong enough without such exclusives. Only time will tell.

What we can expect to see: Halo 5: Guardians, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Forza 6 and the Gears of War remastered collection. It is also possible that MS will briefly touch upon their collaboration with Oculus Rift, following yesterday’s announcement that the virtual reality headset will ship with an Xbox One controller, as well as companies such as Insomnic Games creating content for the device.

Press Conference date and time: 15th June – 9:30am PT / 12:30pm ET / 5:30pm BST

Sony

After stealing the show from Microsoft back in 2013 and winning over fans the world over with their “It’s just a games console, and nothing else” pitch, Sony’s 2014 showing was a little more hit and miss with the company preferring to showcase technology, such as Playstation TV, over games – a complete role reversal to their conference the year before.

sonye3

Still, the Japanese conglomerate will likely push a wide variety of its first party content during this year’s presentation as they look to continue their strong hold on the gaming market.

What we can expect to see: Unchartered 4, definitely. Unchartered: The Nathan Drake Collection is also very likely to be officially unveiled, alongside other first party titles such as Until Dawn, No Man’s Sky, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, and a number of JRPGs. Project Morpheus – Sony’s own in house VR device – will potentially figure heavily throughout their presentation.

Press Conference date and time: 15th June – 6pm PT / 9pm ET / 16th June – 2am BST

Bethesda

The American games studio behind the much loved Elder Scrolls and Fallout series is holding its inaugural E3 press conference at this year’s event.

bethesdae3

Not much is known as to what the publisher will show but, after teasing the likes of Fallout 4 and a Doom reboot in recent weeks, do they need to showcase anything other than two of the most hotly anticipated games in recent memory?

What we can expect to see: Fallout 4. Lots and lots of Fallout 4. Also on the agenda will be the Doom remake/reboot, as well as a further look at last year’s tease for a new IP in Battlecry.

Press Conference date and time: 14th June – 7pm PT / 10pm ET / 15th June – 3am BST

Electronic Arts

Often barracked in some quarters for its over reliance on the production of sports based video games during these types of presentatinons, EA have branched out and away from that position in the gaming industry a lot more in recent years.

eae3

Naturally, a company that distributes the likes of FIFA, Madden and NBA will see a good portion of its showing taken up by sports based titles, but the California-based organisation has some potentially outstanding non-sports brands to show off this year. Expect these to draw the punters in.

What we can expect to see: Sports games. Lots of sports games. If that’s not something to whet your appetite, perhaps the Star Wars: Battlefront reboot, a new Mirror’s Edge game, Need for Speed or Mass Effect 4 will do nicely.

Press Conference date and time: 15th June – 1pm PT / 4pm ET / 9pm BST

Nintendo

The Japanese based corporation is set to hold another digital event, in much the same vein as last year’s weird-but-slightly-funny presentation, but it remains to be seen what the giant will actually showcase during its event.

nintendoe3

It has already been confirmed that the Legend of Zela Wii U title – so brilliantly teased at the 2014 event – will not be making an appearance. Nor will Nintendo show off its supposed new hardware, currently codenamed the Nintendo NX, so it could be safe to assume that the Mario makers could exhibit the likes of the new Star Fox game and demonstrate more of what we might see with regards to their venture into the mobile gaming world.

What we can expect to see: Star Fox, Mario Maker and Yoshi’s Woolly World look set to hold the stage, but Nintendo is reknowned for its surprises so expect to see a few unannounced tidbits from them.

Press Conference date and time: 16th June – 9am PT/ 12pm ET / 5pm BST

Square Enix

The Japanese video game developer, publisher and distributor will have the likes of Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider featured in Sony’s and Microsoft’s own press conferences, but the Tokyo based company will no doubt hold back some exclusive detailings in these titles for their own conference.

squareenixe3

Those games aside, expect to see multiple JRPGs on show, as well as future releases including Star Ocean, Nosgoth and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, alongside a raft of mobile only games.

What we can expect to see: Final Fantasy XV, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider will be the big hitters for Square Enix, but expect a whole host of other anime-inspired titles to be showcased.

Press Conference date and time: 16th June – 10am PT/ 1pm ET / 6pm BST

Ubisoft

The French-Canadian based company has almost become synonymous with its Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed series that it’s easy to forget just how many other projects they’re working on, and it looks like this year could be another keenly anticipated showing from the Montreal based corporation.

ubisofte3

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and Tom Clancy’s The Division will hopefully be present at the convention, in addition to other hotly tipped titles such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege, Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 and a number of indie developed games that Ubisoft have spawned in recent years to critical acclaim.

What we can expect to see: Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege are the main draws for Ubisoft this year, and any indie titles that catch the eye (much like Child of Light or Valiant Hearts) will once again end up front and centre by the year’s end.

Press Conference date and time: 15th June – 3pm PT / 6pm ET / 11pm BST

Who do you expect to come out on top at this year’s E3? Sound out in the comments with your opinions!

My Games of E3 2014

e3The dust has settled, the crowds have dispersed and the Los Angeles Convention Centre falls silent for another year.

E3 2014 is officially over, and whilst it may not be considered as grandiose as last year’s event (come on, two next generation consoles being unveiled was always going to be hard to top), this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo still had much to celebrate, with games, games and more games on show to the video game industry and fans alike.

And what better way is there to celebrate this year’s installment of the global phenomenon than by rounding up a selection of titles that particularly caught my eye over the course of the three day event (in no particular order):

Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games)

sunset

Colourful and humorous, with a hefty dose of over the top action, Sunset Overdrive is looking to break the mould when it comes to stereotypical third person shooters. Set in the fictional world of Sunset City, players are tasked with saving this metropolis from the OD’d; humans who have become mutated by a new energy drink called Overcharge Delirium XT. With customisable characters, a whole host of weapons that can be crafted and a reliance on performing parkour-like, acrobatic moves, Sunset Overdrive seems like a sure fire hit for Insomniac Games when it launches this Autumn.

Available 28th October, exclusively on Xbox One

Evolve (Turtle Rock Studios)

evolve

Aiming for evolution (yes, pun intended) as opposed to revolution, Evolve was still a stand out hit amongst many industry insiders at E3. Based around a cooperative style of play, players can either fight alongside one another as a four person crack team of hunters, or singularly as the monster in matches that introduce a 4 vs 1 combat system. Hunters are, naturally, tasked with bringing down whatever behemoth they face off against, whilst the monster works to increase its size and mass, by consuming resources around itself, before eventually attempting to take down the group of hunters. With Turtle Rock Studios already lauded for introducing the world to Left 4 Dead, players can expect big things from this next title.

Available 21st October, on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC

No Man’s Sky (Hello Games)

nomanssky

Most likely brought to the attention of the global video gaming community following the flooding of Hello Games’ studio and offices down in Guildford in the UK, No Man’s Sky is very much the quintessential exploration/adventure game, with each individual player beginning their journey upon their own procedurally generated planet. Couple that with a vast universe, where players may play for days on end without encountering another player, aesthetically gorgeous graphics and fluid, uninterrupted animations between traversing the galaxies and planets, whether on foot or via space craft, and No Man’s Sky is certainly shaping up to be one of the most ambitious next gen titles to date.

Currently slated for release on Playstation 4, release date TBA

Tom Clancy’s The Division (Ubisoft Massive)

thedivision

This game certainly needs no introduction. After wowing audiences at the 2013 E3 event, Tom Clancy’s The Division is easily one of the most eagerly anticipated titles set to be released within the next 12-18 months. Set in New York amidst the outbreak of a deadly disease that causes society within the United States of America to teeter on the brink of collapse with a five day period, players will take on the role of a member of the ‘Strategic Homeland Division’; a unit of tactical agents tasked with preventing society from completing falling apart. The Division is Ubisoft’s first venture into the realm of the MMORPG genre, with the company building an entirely new engine from scratch, dubbed the Snowdrop Engine, for the sole purpose of creating a dynamic, ever changing environment within The Division. Expect this to be a best seller.

Available on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC sometime in 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight (Rocksteady Studios)

arkhamnight

This final installment to Rocksteady Studios’ Batman Arkham series needs no introduction. The concluding part to one of the most beloved superhero video game series, Batman: Arkham Knight expands on its two predecessors by tweaking the already impressive combat system, as well as introducing new gadgets and Batman’s iconic Batmobile, which will allow players to tear around the streets of Gotham in search of crime to combat. With a story set one year after the events of Batman: Arkham City, and with a raft of well known villains set to return, Batman: Arkham Knight is set to wrap up this well lauded trilogy and prove that superhero video games can be successful.

Available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC sometime in 2015

Halo: The Master Chief Collection (343 Industries)

halomccollection

Set for release around the tenth anniversary of Halo 2, Halo: The Master Chief Collection celebrates the story so far of Xbox’s most recognisable hero. Comprising all four Halo titles with Master Chief as the primary protagonist on one disc, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be a must own title at a price of $60 (around £40). As well as all four story campaigns, the collection will also include every online multiplayer map from all four games, an all new live action digital series, executively produced by Ridley Scott, named Halo: Nightfall and a pass code to take part in the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta during the Christmas period. New and old fans of Halo alike would be foolish to pass up on the opportunity to own this collection when it is finally released.

Available 11th November exclusively on Xbox One

 Inside (Playdead Studios)

inside

Considering it was only briefly showcased during Microsoft’s E3 press briefing, very little is known about Inside, the next game from the studio that brought us the eery and atmospheric Limbo. However, following the critical acclaim that saw Limbo go on to become one of best indie developed titles in recent memory, much is expected of Playdead’s next title.

Currently slated for Xbox One (and potentially Playstation 4/PC), released date TBA

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions)

som

Another gaming release set to arrive in the Autumn, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a brand new, original story line that exists within J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth universe. Taking place between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, players take on the role of Talion, a Gondorian ranger who, alongside his family, is brutally murdered by Sauron’s armies whilst keeping watch at the Black Gate. However, Talion is resurrected and imbued with ‘wraith-like abilities’, before travelling deep into Mordor to exact his revenge. With the innovative ‘Nemesis system’ ensuring that no two play throughs are the same, along with the ability to upgrade and customise Talion to suit the player’s needs, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor could be a surprise hit amongst gamers during what is set to be an already busy release schedule.

Available 7th October on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC