It may come across as simplistic when judged alongside the excellent and highly complex battle system of the recent hit-and-miss Xillia, but firing up the original Symphonia quickly reminds you how fun it is to play. The real time dust-ups, satisfying Unison attacks, kooky cooking system and easy-to-follow employment of EX-Skills make it a breeze to revisit. Namco have even taken it upon themselves to iron out a lot of the little flaws and bugs that niggled back in the day, so it’s slowdown be gone and “Hello, half decent camera,”. Although things aren’t perfect in this regard, as the port is of the PlayStation 2 version, thus the fluid 60fps of the Gamecube outing remains halved as it was on the Sony console.
That said, there are some lovely additions such as new costumes shipped in from other Tales adventures, full Japanese voice options, and even some new Artes and skills for your crew to employ in the heat of the action that were present only in the PS2 version of the game, and something Nintendo gamers may not have experienced before. Having a save file on your PS3 from Tales of Xillia also entitles you to more bonus content, a nice reward for fans of the series.
As someone who played the ‘Cube version to within an inch of its life, the way the elder game of the pair has been reimagined aesthetically is immediately obvious – with the cel-shaded characters of old smoothed over and given new textures in a manner reminiscent of Nintendo’s own recent Wind Waker HD. Some punters will moan about the stark, dark edges being removed from the cel-shaded models; however it looks fine. The scenery has been sharpened, and while there is no escaping the fact that this game is more than a decade old, it looks excellent and is everything you could want from your return to Sylvarant, with its charming characters and classical, if formulaic, old-school plotlines.
Dawn of the New World split the fans upon its release, and with good reason. It employs half-baked AI-controlled Pokemon-style familiars that you are asked to recruit and train to assist you in combat using an unnecessarily complicated Elemental Grid system. The characters are nowhere near as entertaining to get to know as those of the preceding title, with main protagonist Emil being a particularly loathsome, whiny presence. When beloved names from Symphonia do make an appearance, it is only for a limited period and they are only able to level at certain, predetermined points in the confusing story. The world map system is replaced with a far more linear menu, which gives proceedings a nippier pace but at the expense of the wonderment of exploration that made Symphonia such a treat. Where one could easily bury themselves in the 2004 game for 100+ hours should they wish, the follow up is a much more brisk experience.
On the plus side, Dawn of the New World looks great. The character models, which are no longer super-deformed chibi-style affairs, are well-suited to the HD gloss. The battle system is improved in the sequel. A Free Run button is a welcome inclusion to multiplayer battles, and it is always great fun racking up huge combos and employing the Artes at your disposal to batter enemies. Sadly, when playing alone, the crazy AI means that these scraps can often turn into free-for-alls, with the monsters – which, let’s not forget, are supposed to be helping you – never feeling like true allies, as you don’t really control them and they seem to do their own thing.
VERDICT: Tales of Symphonia Chronicles is very much a game of two halves – a cast-in-stone classic alongside a wonky sequel; a much-lauded series mainstay against the black sheep. In many ways there are definite parallels to be drawn to the forthcoming Final Fantasy X/X-2 re-master – another pairing of the essential with the inessential if ever there was one. Symphonia is a great reminder of how Tales has hit such impressive highs in the past, and although the decision to port the technically inferior PS2 version leads to framerate gripes, this is perhaps the best version of Lloyd Irving and co that you are going to get without dragging your Gamecube out of the loft.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Our Scoring Policy
Review copy provided by publisher.]]>
We carry on immediately where episode one left off, and that means you will start very differently depending on which choice you made at the end of that instalment. Ultimately, that decision doesn’t seem like it was one of the most important that will face you in the series, but it gave an early indication that Telltale weren’t going to go easy on gamers second time around. Clementine begins to find out more about her new group of “friends” in episode two, including learning about some of their more shady secrets. There are a few lulls in the action, but these don’t last for long.
The episode as a whole is full of difficult decisions to make – as usual – but rather than being clear-cuts, the majority of the choices in A House Divided feel tough and will make you second guess yourself. It feels perhaps more stressful than Episode One, even though that was difficult enough – but just as you begin to like some of the new characters, they are put in peril by the choices you make. It’s not all about the new characters though, and we also see the 400 Days DLC link in with the main series for the first time – and these developments introduce a whole new dynamic to the group.
The character of Clementine herself continues to develop throughout A House Divided, and it definitely seems like a natural progression. She has certainly grown up a lot since we first met her in Season One, but it doesn’t feel like she has changed unnaturally. What is really good about her character development is that she has grown along with you, the player – you have seen everything that has shaped her new cynical, harder persona.
She is world-weary now, but has become a survivor, and despite the fact that she is only an eleven year old girl, she is convincing as the only person you can really rely on in the game. Players who have followed the whole story so far will now have a strong connection with Clementine and that is what gives The Walking Dead its emotional power. You want to protect Clem more than ever now that Lee isn’t there to do so, you have become her guardian – and that is a big responsibility in gaming terms.
In technical terms, the game definitely seems stronger than last season, and doesn’t suffer from some of the stuttering loading issues that persisted even into episode one of Season Two. The gameplay seems smooth and fluid in A House Divided, which is probably the first episode where this has been the case. This is a good thing obviously, but it is surprising that it took so long for Telltale to iron out the kinks.
The graphics are looking even more visually impressive than ever, and the cel-shaded style has been refined for Season Two, allowing for greater detail and perhaps even more subtle, convincing facial expressions – as those in Season One sometimes strayed into comic-book territory. Strangely, the soundtrack – which is usually one of the strongest elements in the series – seems a little off this episode. On a couple of occasions, somewhat light-hearted themes can be heard in the background during tense or dramatic moments, and whilst it doesn’t come close to ruining the scenes it is a slightly odd choice.
VERDICT: The Walking Dead Season Two may not have moved into top gear yet, but Telltale have already shown that they are more than capable of producing more gut-wrenching moments and difficult choices. Whereas the heart of the first season was the relationship between Lee and Clementine, it is now between Clementine and the player, as we have developed a strong bond with her, which only heightens as she matures and comes out of her shell. Already she feels far closer to a hero than she ever did last season, and after many of the revelations in this episode you feel that she really needs to become one.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.
Our Scoring Policy
Review code provided by publisher.]]>
This is more than a month after the console versions of the game which will be available from next Friday, March 14th.
That said this is sounding like a more robust PC release than the first Dark Souls. Some may recall that fans were forced to produce a resolution fix for the PC release of the first Dark Souls, while Games for Windows LIVE integration caused more issues thanit solved.
Dark Souls II, on the other hand, will launch on Steam and not feature Microsoft’s PC version of Live. Furthermore the PC version will include increased texture resolution and an enhanced frame rate option, alongside optimised mouse and keyboard integration.
It’s great to hear that FROM Software are seemingly taking the Pc version of Dark Souls II seriously, it’s just a shame PC gamers will have to wait for more than a month post console release. Best avoid those spoiler threads…]]>
As promised, questions were asked and the winner is announced – send us your preferences and we’ll send you your game. Next week we have a steam code for The Walking Dead Season Two to give away.
But there’s plenty to talk about as always, 10 Second Ninja is the current hotness, but that doesn’t stop us talking about South Park and Batman for ages.
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Anyone who pre-orders the game will receive bonus staff for use in the Mother Base in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Yes you read that right, if you pre order Ground Zeroes you get DLC for an entirely different game, that isn’t even out yet!
The DLC will come on a printed insert in physical copies and digital purchases will atomically gain access to the DLC when they play MSGV: The Phantom Pain. The codes will also unlock some extra items that are yet to be revealed.
The iDROID companion app was also detailed. The app will be available on both iOS and Android as well as the Xbox Smart Glass App. The companion app can be used to view the map, call in air support, play audio logs and see your global rankings. The app is also a standalone game that allows players to build and advance their Mother Base.]]>
Each content pack will sell for $10 individually, so the Season Pass saves you $5 per pack. Each pack promises new maps and other content, which has yet to be specified.
You can pick up the Season pass when the game launches on Xbox One on March 11, and the Xbox 360 on March 25. For PC owners hungry to get their hands on some Titanfall goodness, you can purchase the Season Pass today, and even choose to get a bundled game and Season Pass ‘Deluxe version’ for $80.
European price points have yet to be announced.
In Watch Dogs™, players assume the role of Aiden Pearce, a new type of vigilante hero who, with the help of his smartphone, will use his ability to hack into Chicago’s central operating system (ctOS) to control almost every element of the city. “We are pleased to be able to reveal to gamers all over the world the new release date for Watch Dogs™,” said Geoffroy Sardin, EMEA Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ubisoft. “We are extremely confident that the additional time we afforded the dev team to refine and polish the game will be more than worth the wait.” Players who purchase Watch Dogs™ on either PlayStation®3 or PlayStation®4™ will have exclusive access to 60 minutes of additional gameplay via the PlayStation® Network. “We’re really excited for the launch of Watch Dogs on both PS3® and PS4® and are confident that it will prove to be one of the standout games of 2014,” said Michael Pattison, Vice President, Third Party Relations, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. “It’s a unique and visionary game and we believe that the exclusive content available via PSN will not only excite gamers, but showcase how PlayStation® is a preferred destination for Watch Dogs.” Watch Dogs™ will be available on Sony PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Microsoft Xbox One® the all-in-one games and entertainment system, Microsoft Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system and Windows PC. The Wii U™ version will release at a later date.
The aptly named collector’s edition comes with a blue shell statue for you to…look at? While an actual Kart statue may have been better, we’ll take whatever limited edition Ninty goodness we can get.
In anticipation of MK8, Nintendo are bringing Super Mario Kart SNES to the Wii U Virtual Console on the 27th March. If you download this on Wii U you’ll get a £5.49 discount on a digital copy of Mario Kart – not too shabby. This offer lasts until the 30th June.
Check out what you’ll be shelling out on (sorry) in the collector’s edition trailer below.