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Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

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The rain-slicked streets of Onomichi Jingaicho glisten in the sporadic neon light. I’m walking down a dangerous looking alley, past some very dodgy customers, to get to my objective. They follow, muttering darkly to one another. It soon becomes clear they’re about to have a go at me. I politely ask a nearby pedestrian to hold my baby and then turn to face them. I’m ready to unleash a volley of kicks and punches on these mongrels that will leave them crawling along the bloody ground, sick with agony and regret. I crack my knuckles and get to work, taking care of the six strong crew swiftly and without mercy. After all, I have a hungry baby to feed.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is the latest entry in the long running, critically lauded Yakuza series. The entire franchise is rather unique in the realm of video games. It tells complex, adult-orientated stories that are voice acted in the original Japanese and require subtitles, rather than the usual english language dubs. The stories told are often convoluted, dense and very slow burn, with few if any concessions given to short attention spans and yet it’s precisely because of this originality, this unique flavour, that makes the series so damn engaging.

Yakuza 6: Song of Life is the first entry made specifically for PS4 (as opposed to a PS3 remaster) and graphically the upgrade is immediately noticeable. From lifelike character animations, to sprawling brawls that run from one location to another, to landscapes that are vividly painted and feel alive – Yakuza has never been this pretty before. The story too focuses mainly on the mission of Kazuma Kiryu – rather than splitting the tale between multiple POV characters – and the result is a more disciplined, engaging tale. Certainly Yakuza 6 has many of the series’ bells and whistles: endless side quests, mini-games for days and mildly titillating optional pursuits – but the real star here is the story, which manages to be surprising and unexpectedly emotional at times, with some great twists.

Of course combat is frequent and here too the game excels, featuring meaty, satisfying fighting mechanics that are customisable and, on occasion, hilarious. There may come a time when knocking down half a dozen blokes with a well-swung bike gets old, but that time has not yet occured.

On the downside some of the side content can become a little wearying. Some of the side, and even main, missions get a little fetch questy at times and the new Clan Creator mode feels like an unnecessary complication in a game that’s already chockers with extra content.

Then again that’s another example of the series’ commitment to being its own entity. Is it a brawler, an RPG or a interactive movie? It’s kind of all of those things and more. It’s the type of game that rewards slow, meticulous play so don’t burn yourself out on it. Play for an hour or two a night, and drink in the atmosphere, the tension and the occasionally baffling moments of tonal whiplash.

Yakuza 6: Song of Life is a fascinating, original and engaging experience. Gleefully weird yet utterly compelling, it’s well worth a bash for those seeking something a little bit different and a great jumping on point for Yakuza newbies.

 
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Kingdom Come: Deliverance

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After putting a significant amount of time into Kingdom Come: Deliverance one thing has been made painfully clear: being a peasant sucks. Sucks. Powerfully, prolifically and with great alacrity it is just the worst. It probably sucked in every historical period of note over the ages, but it very specifically sucks in the Kingdom of Bohemia, in the year of our Lord 1403. Said location and time period is the setting for Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which thrusts you into the somewhat gormless shoes of Henry, who – within twenty or so minutes of gameplay – has lost his parents, his home, his girlfriend and all hope, thanks to the violent whims of Hungarian king Sigismund, who has sacked the village of his birth.

In an ordinary video game this would be the jumping off point for young Henry to brew up some healing potions, craft himself a big fuck off sword, don some shiny armour and head out into town and get medieval on everyone’s arses. However Kingdom Come is no ordinary video game, for better and for worse.

Funded through a rather excellent kickstarter, Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s mission statement is to give the player as realistic and historically accurate an experience as possible. That means you can easily be killed by any foe, you get hungry and thirsty, you can get sick and die from the ailments if you don’t treat them, and due to your social status things frequently, well, suck.

So before you embark on this game you should be aware that the difficulty level is punishing, saves are limited and extremely rare and the game’s story won’t take you on any wild flights of magical fancy or indulge your desire to feel powerful. It might be played from a first person perspective like Skyrim but this is a very different beast, and about as niche a proposition as can be imagined.

For those of you with a historical bent this may just be just the antidote to the more whimsical, fantastic narratives in The Witcher 3 and the like, however even taking into account the pragmatism of the tale, KC:D has problems. At the time of writing the game is still beset by a galling number of bugs. It’s one thing to be killed in combat due to mismanaging weapons or attack timing, it’s quite another when the game decides your blow didn’t count. Plus floating mid air for no reason or characters morphing into walls, stools and – rather alarming – your own body is a deadset immersion breaker.

That being said, there’s something so fresh and weird about Kingdom Come: Deliverance it’s impossible to dismiss out of hand. In an era where games are often becoming dull, homogenized, beige experiences KC:D stands out as the oddball in the pack. It’s messy and rough around the edges – and good lord it needs some more patching – but there’s an ambition and originality at play here that gives the experience a likable freshness. That said, you’re essentially playing Revolting Peasant Simulator here so proceed accordingly. If rigorous attention to detail isn’t your jam, stay well away. However if a grounded tale sounds like you – then serf’s up, baby!

 
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Shadow of the Colossus

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Shadow of the Colossus is one of those video games that gets talked about in an awed hush as wide-eyed fans tell breathless tales of their first experience with the title. Originally released in 2005 for Playstation 2, the game by developers Team Ico (Ico, The Last Guardian) holds a revered place in the pop cultural pantheon, and with good reason. Shadow is an extraordinary game, mysterious, complex, obtuse and yet somehow emotionally resonant. It’s a dark fairy tale about a young boy, Wander, trying to bring his female companion, Mono, back to life, by killing a bunch of staggeringly massive monsters called colossi.

On the surface said premise sounds a little like this year’s Monster Hunter: World but the titles couldn’t be more different. Whereas Monster Hunter becomes a slash and grind game designed to absorb your precious free time like a hungry maw, Colossus is a shorter, more contemplative experience, which is why it’s often brought up during discussions of video games as art.

Mechanically the game is deceptively simple: you have a sword, a bow and a horse. You can also climb stuff and leap on and off things. Yet even with this small pool of abilities the game manages to change things up to an incredible degree, by forcing you to clamber up the massive colossi – each essentially a living puzzle – and find the hidden way to bring them down.

The news of this HD remaster for PS4 is especially good for people who’ve never played the game. Honestly, if you own a PS4 and haven’t experienced Shadow’s stunningly original charms you need to make this your next purchase. The graphics look superb, especially running on a PS4 Pro, and if you didn’t know this was a remaster you’d absolutely believe the game was a brand new IP, albeit an unusually cheap one at a price point below fifty bucks.

For those of you who have played Shadow of the Colossus before it’s perhaps a little less essential. Don’t get me wrong, the game still stands up and then some, but if you’ve taken this journey a half dozen times before there’s not a lot new waiting for you, other than a beautiful presentation and slightly tweaked controls.

Ultimately Shadow of the Colossus was a near masterpiece in 2005 and it remains so. The remaster does a superb job of bringing the work up to a standard appropriate for modern sensibilities and the story remains strange, sad and a bit wonderful.

 
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Monster Hunter: World

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In the winter of 2009 I spat on my PSP, deliberately and with malice of forethought. It was a petulant rage spit in the face of a poop-flinging pink gorilla, Congalala, who kept killing me over and over in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite. Afterwards, I felt deeply ashamed as I watched the sputum lazily drip off my portable device. I emailed then deputy editor of Official Playstation Magazine (for whom I worked) and renowned spokesperson for “big porridge”, Mark Serrels, telling him of the whole confusing affair. He reacted with sensitivity typical of video game publishing and laughed like a hyena, swiftly informing the whole office of my shame. To this day Mark regularly brings up this story on social media, amusing and bemusing in equal measure.

That, in a roundabout sort of way, brings us to the present day: 2018 and there’s a new Monster Hunter game in town, Monster Hunter: World. It’s been nine years since we last tangled, game franchise, and a lot has changed. Will this be a redemptive experience – my “l33t skillz” now honed on the likes of Dark Souls and Bloodborne – or will be this another case of great expectorations?

Monster Hunter: World is an semi-open world game set in a third person perspective. You assume the role of a mute user-created character who is thrust into a thin but agreeable story involving the appearance of a huge, pseudo-Lovecraftian elder dragon, Zorah Magdaros. The overarching story is really just set dressing, however, as the meat of the game will be about you, your Palico (adorable feline assistant) and your interactions with the less-than-friendly local fauna in the game world. In other words: you’ll be hunting a shitload of monsters, friend.

In fact it can’t be stressed enough that, although there are numerous other tasks to complete, including crafting potions, armour, upgrades, meals and exploring wild, varied environments, the main activity you’ll be partaking in is hunting monsters. Practically, this means you’ll start a quest, search for the monster – using helpful phosphorescent scout flies who will highlight environmental clues and monster tracks – try your best to sneak up on the beastie in question and then wail on that toothy mongrel until it breathes no more. Then you can craft fancy new trousers from its skin, bones and organs and perhaps stitch together that ladybug outfit for your cat. Hey, Claws Kinski looks adorable and you will not judge me!

Happily the combat mechanics are well-honed and surprisingly nuanced, with over 14 weapons at your disposal, all of which have distinct play styles and multiple options for upgrading, plus additional skill trees. In my 40 hours of playtime I reckon I’ve got my head around three weapons tops, with many more enticing offerings on display.

In fact the main negative that can be levelled at Monster Hunter: World is its dizzying array of systems, weapons, upgrades, crafting, armour, exploration, side quests, safaris, endgame and lore may be a trifle too dense and exhaustingly complex for casual players. Happily that’s where the “world” part of Monster Hunter: World comes into play, because you can team up with three other hunters in epic beast-battlin’ sessions to learn the tricks of the trade. Playing with others is a hoot, because even though the difficulty scales higher with more players, the ability to communicate with friends or even strangers – allows you welcome moments of respite where you can sharpen your weapon or neck a Mega Potion, which is absolutely key in overcoming the game’s tougher critters.

And make no mistake, although Monster Hunter: World is the most accessible in the franchise to date, some of those battles are as tough as nails, requiring patience, skill, timing and a cool head. It’s not quite Dark Souls-level of difficulty, but it can get tense and a bit dispiriting if you cark it after 30+ minutes of battle. That said, this makes the (hopefully) eventual victory all the more satisfying and the stuff gaming memories are made of. After all, victories are rarely memorable if they just get handed to you.

Another fantastic element of Monster Hunter: World is the various ecosystems you can explore. From the Ancient Forest (trees) to the Widlespire Waste (desert) and the absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful Coral Highlands (Avatar!) the game delivers environments that feel alive and brimming with secrets. Hang around for a bit and you’ll see epic battles between two, sometimes three enormous monsters that occur organically and can lead to some truly awe-inspiring moments. Of course similar events happen during hunts, which can be maddening depending on the circumstance. Put simply there’s nothing predictable here and the game cleverly changes the stakes as you progress through the story and increase your Hunter Rank.

Ultimately, Monster Hunter: World is a strange but utterly engaging experience. The juxtaposition of gritty (hard as balls killer monsters!) and adorable (kitty chefs doing a dance while they make your food!) really cements the uniquely Japanese style, which may cause tonal whiplash for some. However if you can embrace both the harder sections and innate goofiness, there’s a profoundly rewarding experience waiting for you, featuring a gameplay loop with a surprising amount of depth and living, breathing environments that are a delight to explore.

Oh, and although I have punched the couch and swore so loudly the cat got the shits and left the room, after 40 hours of play? Still haven’t spat on the telly. So, you know, personal growth and that, eh.

 
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Star Wars Battlefront II

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In 2015 Star Wars Battlefront released to muted reception. On the one hand you had a title that faithfully recreated big battles from the beloved franchise set in a galaxy far, far away. On the other, the game was almost shockingly devoid of content, lacking anything even resembling a single player campaign, and seemed custom designed to sell players the DLC; where the allegedly “good” content was hidden.

The general consensus was, the game had good inside it, but had slipped too far over to the Dark Side. “Perhaps in the sequel,” we said, optimistically, “perhaps they’ll get it right in the sequel.”

Cut to 2017 and Star Wars Battlefront II is here and… well, shit, there’s a lot to unpack.

First up, let’s focus on the positive. Star Wars Battlefront II is a beautiful-looking game. It features massive multiplayer online battles and a solid, albeit slightly truncated and unambitious single player campaign. Also the flying mechanics are much improved and the actual stellar battles in Star Wars are good for once. If you’re an adult with a few mates keen to shoot online, then this is a good time, especially if you can grab it during the post-Christmas sales.

On the negative side? The game’s a mess. Not mechanically, mind you, some early onset server issues aside the game works well but the title’s progression system, the grind, is an absolutely broken, baffling clusterfuck. See, originally EA had most of the game’s content hidden behind loot crates that you – the player – receives for playing the game. These loot crates would deliver crafting materials, skins, and Star Cards. The latter of these can be used to upgrade character’s traits or weapons and unlock heroes like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Originally this progression could be hugely assisted by purchasing loot crates directly – in other words, paying real world money on top of the hundred bucks you’d already dropped on the thing.

The public outcry to this pay-to-win fiasco was prolific and emphatic, so much so that EA has (at time of writing) disabled microtransactions in the game. However even without this rather insidious brand of incentivised gambling the progression in Battlefront II is an exercise in confusing tedium. Really enjoy playing as Assault Class and want to upgrade as you play? Tough shit, the loot boxes are full of randomised gear, most of which you won’t ever use. This leads the experience feeling hollow and strangely unrewarding, as opposed to Destiny 2 which is almost too generous with the loot (which is a conversation for another day).

It’s genuinely sad that a review of Star Wars Battlefront II has to feature so much gear about EA’s shonky practices, but it’s a spectre that hangs over the title. This game should have been a lay down misere, a hugely popular franchise you can play with your mates and have a few laughs. Instead we’re left with a compromised and unfulfilling experience that may be patched or reconfigured in the future, but right now this is probably not the game you’re looking for.

 

 
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Hidden Agenda

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Supermassive Games caught the attention of gamers and genre movie fans alike with Until Dawn, a title that played like an interactive slasher flick complete with numerous endings, splattery deaths and a clear affection for trashy 80s cinema. Hidden Agenda is their newest attempt at an interactive movie and this time they’ve gone all serial killer thriller, and the results are pretty good.

Hidden Agenda has you, the player or players, assuming the roles of homicide detective, Becky Marney and district attorney, Felicity Graves. These two are trying to reveal the truth behind a gruesome serial killer known as The Trapper, who comes off like a low rent Jigsaw with a penchant for creating grisly traps and killing first responders.

Unlike Until Dawn you won’t be using the controller to move your characters around the map, rather utilising the PlayLink app you’ll make dialogue choices, search rooms and complete light puzzles and quick time events with your phone. The added twist is that you can play with a group – a kind of democratised storytelling where majority rules on the decisions made. Picture Telltale Games by vote and you’ve got the general idea. It’s an interesting concept and one that benefits from three or more players, as anything else feels a tad redundant.

The story itself is quite brief, coming in around two hours, with a heavy emphasis on replaying to get better or just different endings. It’s a great idea let down a little by a script that doesn’t quite work and technical oddities where the decision you make, say to answer something sarcastically, doesn’t quite line up with what the character is doing on screen.

That said, a group of film savvy, sarcastic (and perhaps drunk) friends will have a hell of a time mocking the characters and each other as they strive to uncover the villain’s… obfuscated motive.

 
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Call of Duty: WWII

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I’m not sure when I stopped caring about Call of Duty. Sometime in the last five or so years the annual shooty series just dropped off my radar. This was never a deliberate or conscious uncoupling, and I remember enjoying some CoDs back in the day, but there were simply more interesting shooters out there. Call of Duty: WWII, however, managed to grab my attention. The WWII setting, the Nazi zombies mode and the overall change of pace seemed appealing. So does the result live up to the hype? Eh… mostly.

COD: WWII is an attempt by the series to get back to its roots. That means WWII and that means you’ll be storming the beaches of Normandy. Again. See the thing about WWII’s campaign is that it’s beautiful, bombastic, exciting… and yet utterly predictable. If you’ve played earlier WWII iterations of CoD, watched Saving Private Ryan or the excellent TV series, Band of Brothers you’ll know what you’re in for. Almost exactly what you’re in for.

You play the part of Ronald “Red” Daniels who is a generic farm boy stereotype who needs to finish fighting this gol’ dang war and get back to his pregnant missus. It’s a tofu bland character and fairly uninteresting, as are most of the supporting cast, save Zussman (Jonathan Tucker) who manages to breathe life into a stodgy script, playing Red’s smart arse Jewish mate. The tale follows the usual beats you’d expect, with occasional diversions like playing as a resistance member (which is fantastic) and air support (which is okay). The whole campaign lasts about six hours – which is long for CoD – and manages to occasionally eke out some pathos from the cliches. It’s not terrible, it’s not great – it’s fine.

Backing up the campaign is the multiplayer which, for many players, is where the game shines. The usual modes like variations on CTF and deathmatch play like business as usual, but the War mode is a highlight – striking a more narrative-based balance, similarly to last year’s Battlefield 1. Having more objective based modes is definitely a step forward for CoD, although playing with dead-eyed teenagers who only care about their KD ratio can be… grueling.

Finally the Nazi Zombies mode is four-player fun, where you and three chums battle waves of the goose-stepping dead, solving mild puzzles and upgrading weapons. Featuring voice acting from the likes of David Tennant and Ving Rhames this mode is a hoot, managing to be gory and even moderately scary. Although I missed the ability to craft barricades this was probably the highlight of the whole package.

Ultimately Call of Duty: WWII is solid but unextraordinary. The campaign is fine, the multiplayer enjoyable and the zombies pretty fun – but none of it feels as deep and interesting as Battlefield 1. With a few friends you regularly play with there’s a lot to enjoy here, just don’t go expecting a complete overhaul of CoD’s aging engine.

 
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Assassin’s Creed: Origins

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2017 is an important year for the Assassin’s Creed series. The last full scale game was 2015’s Syndicate which had its moments but ultimately was a bit too samey to stand out in a franchise that had been treading water since Black Flag in 2013. Assassin’s Creed Origins, benefiting from a longer development period, attempts to inject fresh life into the prolific series by going back to beginning and setting the caper in ancient Egypt. The results are good… for the most part.

Let’s start with the positive. Assassin’s Creed Origins is a beautiful game. Like, stunningly, jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The Egyptian setting proves to be the Creed’s most compelling environment in ages and you’ll lose hours, perhaps days, just wandering around the sun-dappled vistas, deadly swamps and snake-filled tombs. New character Bayek proves to be an engaging protagonist, as he embarks on a journey that begins as a fairly standard ‘revenge for the death of a beloved child’ plot but morphs into something bigger. Plus the new loot system – whereby you can grind for new weapons and armour – is addictive and rewarding, giving a genuine sense of progression and a reason to explore all nooks and crannies.

That’s the good news, now the not so good stuff. The major problem with Assassin’s Creed Origins is that what you’ll be doing remains essentially unchanged throughout the game’s 30+ hour campaign. You’ll begin by exploring areas, taking on missions and side missions, assassinating your targets… and then you’ll move to another area in the game’s outrageously enormous map and do it all again. You’ll get better gear, certainly, but the core gameplay loop remains frustratingly static. This becomes truly irksome in the game’s third act when the ending is gated by missions far too high above your level, so it will literally insist on your grinding lower level missions just to be able to play them. This kind of artificially extended gameplay is baffling in a game that is already massive and doesn’t need it at all.

Combat is conceptually a step forward, with the game adopting a hitbox system that means you’ll actually need to be near an enemy to make contact, and in a one on one situation there is fun to be had. However enemies tend to attack in group formation which makes the fighting frequently messy and lacking in precision. Hopefully Ubisoft will continue to hone this mechanic as it’s definite improvement, but not quite enough.

The story, also, feels a bit half-baked. There are certainly intriguing elements, and Bayek’s relationship with his wife, Aya, is extremely strong, but the overall narrative is so diffused and protracted it never feels as engaging as it ought to. The same applies to the voice acting which, main cast aside, is extremely ropey and veers from deadpan to broad caricature with baffling frequency.

Assassin’s Creed Origins starts strong and initially appears to be the shot in the arm the series needed, however its insistence on artificially extending gameplay in the third act and an overall lack of genuine innovation keeps it from being a true revelation. It is a good time, but it’s also a long time – and not always in a positive way. Still, if a lengthy visit to ancient Egypt sounds like your jam you’ll probably find a lot to dig in Origins – just be prepared to deal with the series’ usual baggage.

 
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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order was MachineGames’ triumphant reboot of the long lived Wolfenstein series and a belter of a game in its own right. Creative director Jens Matthies (who we chatted with recently) managed to craft a pitch-perfect game that kept the first person shooting for which the franchise is famous but added a rich, exciting and surprisingly emotional story that packed a lot of punch and ended on an all-time great note. The idea of a sequel seemed… redundant. After all, how much more narrative can be wrung out of an alternative history storyline about killing Nazis? The answer, happily, is “a shitload” because Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is here and it’s bloody spectacular.

The last time we saw jarhead protagonist William “BJ” Blazkowicz he was in all sorts of strife. His body was broken, his mission incomplete and as The New Order came to an end it was strongly implied he’d carked it, sacrificing his life for the greater good. Happily it seems you can’t keep a good BJ down, and William’s back – although he’s in bad shape. One of the first missions of the game has BJ hacking and blasting Nazis from a wheelchair and it suitably sets the visceral meets farcical tone, which often feels like a mashup between RoboCop (1987) and Inglourious Basterds (2009). Throughout the game’s campaign you’ll travel through the irradiated wasteland of Manhattan, the walled up interior of New Orleans and even leave the boundaries of Earth in the game’s most gleefully insane sequence, involving a certain Nazi demagogue whose name rhymes with “Badolf Bitler”, who has taken up work as a film director in his later years. On these trips you’ll kill yourself some Nazis. A whole bunch of them. You’ll sever their arms with a hatchet and watch them bleed out, you’ll cut throats, twist necks, split skulls and pour hot leaden death into their twitching, screaming nazi bodies in creatively violent ways that will have even the most hardened of gore hounds chuckling in disbelief. It’s profoundly cathartic stuff, particularly after some of the game’s more confronting sequences of Nazi evil.

There’s more than just gore to The New Colossus, however, as the surviving characters from The New Order return and strong new cast members are added to the roster. In fact some of the game’s best moments come from wandering around your submarine base between missions, finding collectibles, chatting with characters and getting a sense of the painstaking world-building. Like the aforementioned Inglourious Basterds, The New Colossus excels at the quiet, tension-building moments between the splattery displays. A tense walk through Nazi-occupied Roswell – where Ku Klux Klan members are being chastised for their poor German language abilities by armoured Nazis – or an acting audition where failure will prove fatal are just a couple of the game’s strongly cinematic set pieces. It’s unusual to care so deeply about characters in any game, much less a gory First Person Shooter, and yet The New Colossus makes it look easy.

On the downside the game’s conclusion isn’t quite as spectacular as The New Order, with a definite sense that this is probably the second part of a trilogy and occasionally the game communicates where you’re taking damage from poorly. Neither of these factors are deal breakers, but they’re worth noting. Also the game itself will probably take you between 10-15 hours to complete, which is long compared to the likes of Call of Duty, but without a multiplayer component some may take issue with the value for money factor, but that’s a conversation for you and your bank account.

Ultimately Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is bloody, spectacular, funny and moving. It’s at turns a black comedy, a rousing adventure and a gore-slicked action shooter – excelling at every genre pivot – and well worth your time and money. Plus, and this can’t be overstated, it’s so very much fun to kill Nazis. They’re so pretty when they die.

 
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Friday the 13th: The Game

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Just how into the Friday the 13th movies are you? Do you know how Jason “dies” at the end of every chapter? Can you explain which entries special effects maestro Tom Savini worked on and why they’re the best? Do you have a lengthy, detail-oriented pitch regarding a new F13th film that you’re happy to share with friends, strangers and the poor hapless people down the bus stop? The answers to these questions directly inform how much you will or will not enjoy Friday the 13th: The Game.

The game, you see, is a bit of a mess. Conceptually it’s kinda brilliant, mind you. It’s an asymmetrical online multiplayer dealy with up to eight players. Seven people will play as camp counselors, and they will search drawers, craft traps and try to escape the map alive. The lucky eighth player will assume the role of Jason Voorhees (currently available in ten different flavours) and hunt and kill the camp counselors before the time runs out. And that’s the game, simple and effective. Playing as Jason is a hoot, all of his various incarnations possess different powers, upgradable skills and unlockable kills – some of which are spectacularly gory and nasty. Pulling off a well-executed environmental kill or managing to burst through a closed door at just the right time is legitimately exciting, especially for an ageing gorehound who loves slasher films.

Playing as a counselor however is… less fun. See, the counselors in the movies were taking drugs, drinking and getting laid – it was a Friday the 13th tradition! In the game, however, you’ll be searching for loot in randomised locations and hoping you get lucky, and it’s just not that great a time. Most galling of all, playing Jason occurs randomly. So you could be solo queuing for an entire day without donning the hockey mask (or sack) of the big man once, which is to say nothing of the game’s numerous server issues, buggy connections, and legion of other technical hitches.

There is, however, one guaranteed way to enjoy Friday the 13th: The Game, but it’s kind of fiddly. You’ll need at least four mates, preferably seven obviously, and you just start up a custom game and only play with those friends. That way you can take turns playing Jason, band together more successfully as the camp counselors and enjoy the game to its full potential. When I played using this method it was an absolutely unmissable experience – funny and violent and scary – and showed what the game could be given the right set of circumstances.

Ultimately Friday the 13th: The Game is a lot like the Friday the 13th movie series: much better with mates, who’ve had a few drinks and are ready to overlook some quality issues and concentrate on the splatter.