The PlayStation 4 is a wonderful console with a huge focus on games. More than six months after release though, and it’s still incapable of doing some rather rudimentary things that people expect of a fancy new bit of hardware. To be more specific, The PlayStation 4 lacks basic media playback functionality that precludes it from being a worthwhile whole replacement to its older kin; the PlayStation 3. That could be changing quite soon.
Because our public holidays carry over, this coming Monday will be a day that doesn’t involve getting up early, the daily commute or hurriedly walking around the office with a stack of papers so it looks like you’re actually busy working. Instead, it’s a day to spend with family, or as the case may be, playing lots of video games. Just beware, PlayStation gamers; there may or may not be PSN maintenance on Monday.
When Matt Stone and Trey Parker set out to make a South Park RPG, their main guideline was that it had to look and feel like the TV show. It wasn't enough to encounter familiar characters; players had to feel as though they were navigating that world itself. The Stick of Truth is fully successful in that regard.
Players take on the role of "the new kid", a 9-year-old boy who has just moved to South Park and has a mysterious past. When designing your character, there are a ton of options. These will change your interactions with other players - everything from your skin tone to class choice is fodder for hilarious jokes from Cartman. On one preview play through, we played with a spray tan, ginger hair and a cow t-shirt, prompting Cartman to ask if we were Kyle's mom; when I played with black skin, a huge afro and hipster clothes, the game even changed the parents' style to match.
There are four classes to choose from: Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew. As you might expect, each gets unique traits and abilities. The first time I saw Stars of David fly out of a damaged enemy due to a special attack from the Jew class I nearly wet myself laughing.
While combat is turn-based, it's not just a matter of "press A to win". Players can select actions from a range of options in their attack wheel. Actions will need to vary based on enemy stances, armour or skills. Additionally, when attacked, players have the opportunity to block - if all attacks are successfully blocked, the player can counter attack. Combat is very fast and certain abilities have the possibility of harming the player as much as the enemy - what would else you expect when Butters tries to play with hammers?
In fact, the combat in the game is very difficult and expects a high degree of strategy from the player. Sure, you can successfully take on more difficult enemies early on in the game, but you will need to use your healing items, special attacks and abilities in just the right way. Combat adds a deeper level to the game, taking it beyond an opportunity to explore South Park in an interactive adventure - it is truly an impressive RPG.
Despite being 2D like the TV show, the game offers a huge open world the explore. Sure, I was only able to explore the town of South Park, but there was more than enough to see. As long as you stay on the side walks or use pedestrian crossings, you can go anywhere in the town. In this way, the game feels like a fully open-world game, without breaking from the 2D background design. Each house can be entered and explored, as can all the shops. Upon checking out the one business, I was treated to Chef singing "Simultaneous Loving" in the background while looting the items available. In the next store, "Taco Flavoured Kisses" was on the radio as I spoke to different characters and found a side quest.
Within each area, there is some degree of platforming as you move up ladders and across obstacles. You can use your environment to your advantage in combat, taking out enemies with a variety of objects rather than needing to fight your way through each and every one. This small amount of puzzle solving varies the gameplay and will appeal to those who prefer to out think their opponents rather than relying purely on brute strength.
The Stick of Truth has a pseudo-Facebook system that allows you to make friends with tons of characters in South Park. This brought back memories of Suikoden as I tried to collect all the characters as friends. Some people require you to complete extra missions, or have a certain number of friends before they will interact with you. Checking your friend-feed can give advice on quests, or just offer hilarious commentary as you go. Friends can also provide you with side quests or random funny dialogue. In this way, interacting with every person you come across becomes interesting, enjoyable and rewarding.
The aesthetic design is fully in line with the TV show and franchise. The character models are like those in the show, and even the walking animations are the same. Beat up an enemy and they'll whimper as they limp off screen. Each enemy is unique and even has funny and relevant names. Despite the fairly simple design that South Park is known for, nothing feels repetitive or meaningless.
Truly, the core of the game is laughter. Whether it's from discovering weird South Park themed Easter eggs, or the hilarious character interactions, or even the hilarious in-joke side missions, the whole experience makes the game feel like the series has come to life. My hour with the game was far too brief - there was so much to explore and discover. I honestly can't wait to play the full game.
It was a mission playing The Elder Scrolls Online Beta this weekend for a variety of reasons. In the end, I managed to log a bunch of hours with my awesome Red Guard character, but is this the next big thing or will the hype train pass us by on this one?
The Castle Doctrine is a game based on the eponymous legal doctrine in America that designates a person's home as a place where they can use deadly force to protect themselves. The premise of the game is simple, and yet psychologically complex. At its core, the game is about protecting your home (and safe), complete with wife and kids, before going out to raid other houses. Yet as you play, you find yourself becoming more paranoid about your home, and more intent on revenge.
The next time you shrug your shoulders and mutter under your breath, when faced with an obvious truism like “Don't judge a book by its cover”, remember this review. If there was ever a title that captured the essence of that saying, it would be indie UK developer Roll7's PlayStation Vita exclusive, OlliOlli.
Games are hard to make, I didn’t need to tell you that. Scores of talented people work for years to bring you high quality interactive entertainment. Project Spark is one of few games that gives you an engine to mess around with and create your own games and levels out of it. After seeing the demonstrations at the Xbox One launch last year, I was definitely intrigued at the possibilities of an open framework for game designers with limited programming skills.
If you’re not playing Heroes of Warcraft: Hearthstone, then you’re probably not in the closed beta and I feel really bad for you. It’s a fantastic card game, that is simple to learn and challenging to master. It’ll be hitting open beta soon, and it might be arriving with the following new features soon.
You’d expect a next-gen console to have features in place that inspire future games to make use of them. And with the Playstation 4, that’s largely true. But it’s a console that has also been inspired to add some social interactivity, courtesy of one of the hardest ball-busting RPGs ever made.
We’ve told you before that the Steelseries Siberia V2 headset was something special; a sleek, sexy light-weight, ultra-comfortable device with great sound to match its eye-catching aesthetic. We’ve now had a chance to get very, very intimate with its follow-up, the Siberia Elite…and I’m rather smitten with them.
There is a strange sickness in South Africa - in general, people assume that because something is South African, it must be bad. Even when it's good, people whine that it would be better if made overseas. Well, I'm sick of it! The indie scene in South Africa is growing, and we should support them where we can.
Forza Motorsport 5 has received a lot of buzz since its first unveiling as one of the upcoming Xbox One’s most important launch titles. We’ve seen promises of amazing visuals, stunning car models, clever SkyNet powered A.I and more.
By Kyle Haward
Hearthstone, Blizzard’s free-to-play online trading card game which draws upon the famous lore of the World of Warcraft universe is colourful, quirky and addictive game. With possibilities of launching rocks at your opponent from a horde catapult on the interactive map to summoning dragons on the board the game doesn't lack the appeal of the Warcraft franchise.
Ask any self-proclaimed hardcore gamer, and they will tell you two things about Nintendo; the company makes games for kids, and its decidedly last-generation systems are selling so badly that its sending Nintendo to the poorhouse.
Another year, another Assassin’s Creed. But instead of an expansion, we’re getting a proper sequel in the core franchise. And it just may be the Assassin’s Creed game that would have been worth waiting an extra year for.