PlayStation Kick-Off Their January Sale!

With three days to go until Christmas, it would appear the folks at PlayStation may be a few days ahead of us as today they kicked off their January sale! This sale looks to be a great opportunity to spend some of your Christmas dosh on some games you might not have picked up yet! We’ve had a quick peruse through this year’s offerings and picked out some recommendations (off-sale price in brackets).

  • Spider-Man£34.99 (£54.99)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4£35.99 (£59.99)
  • God of War: Digital Deluxe Edition£22.34 (£52.99)
  • The Sims 4£8.99 (£34.99)
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey£29.99 (£54.99)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider£25.24 (£54.99)
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy£26.24 (£34.99)
  • SOULCALIBUR VI£34.99 (£54.99)
  • Just Cause 4£41.24 (£54.99)
  • Kingdom Come: Deliverance£19.49 (£49.99)

There are lots of great games on sale, so we’d love to hear your recommendations! Shoot them to us in the comments below, or over on Twitter – @JUMPCUT_PLAY

REVIEW: Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy (PS4)

Written by Megan Williams

After Crash Bandicoot: The N Sane Trilogy was released and proved a huge success, fans then wondered whether another certain Playstation mascot would also get the remaster treatment: this mascot being Spyro the Dragon.

Spyro is a platformer game series that was originally developed by Insomniac Games (whose latest release is the PS4 exclusive ‘Spiderman’ game). The first game, simply titled ‘Spyro the Dragon’ was released on the Playstation One in 1998, and spanned over 10 games that were released for Playstation, the Nintendo DS and the Gameboy Advance. The franchise has now found itself on Netflix, in the form of an animated show based on the ‘Skylanders’ spin-off games.

Like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro was another game from my childhood; I remember getting Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage when I was around 9 and I used to play that game, and Crash Bandicoot, regularly. So I was excited to see what the remastered trilogy would look and play like.

Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy is a remaster of the three original games that were on Playstation One: Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage and Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon. And, after playing through all three games, I can say that developers Toys for Bob have done a fantastic job at restoring these Playstation classics; however it is not perfect.

The visuals are gorgeous, and the cut-scenes are beautifully animated; they wouldn’t look out of place in a Pixar or Illumination Animation film. Toys for Bob have done an incredible job at restoring the trilogy visually, and Spyro has never looked better. The updated character models look great too; my personal favourites are Hunter (who’s in the 2nd and 3rd game), Spyro (of course) and Crush (who is the first boss fight in the second game).

One of the main issues I had with the original first game was the sensitive controls; it made Spyro difficult to control and some of the levels slightly more challenging than they needed to be. Thankfully, the controls for all three games have been tightened, and they are now more responsive and more precise. Spyro the Dragon is now more enjoyable because of this.

So, is Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy a perfect remaster? Well…no.

The voice acting is hit-and-miss; some of the voices work and some of them really don’t. Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants) has reprised his voice role as Spyro, as well as some smaller characters throughout the three games and, once again, he’s fantastic. However, some of the voice acting for the side characters, mainly in Ripto’s Rage isn’t very good: they’re either not expressive enough or completely over-the-top when the situation does not call for it.

While most of the controls have been tightened, one aspect that has been made worse is the swimming controls during the underwater levels. What was once precise is now overly sensitive and tedious; the phrase ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ definitely applies here, unfortunately.

The game camera also isn’t your friend here; this was another huge issue I had with all three original games and, unfortunately, the issues continue here. It still gets stuck at corners and, during boss fights, will dive underneath Spyro’s feet, making the fights unnecessarily difficult. Another aspect that makes some of the boss fights unnecessarily difficult is the speed of the characters that you have to fights in these levels: they’re too fast. Specifically, Gulp and Spike’s laser projectiles in ‘Ripto’s Rage’ and ‘Year of the Dragon’, as well as Buzz’s rolling attacks in ‘Year of the Dragon’. These are too fast, while Spyro is not fast enough to always dodge them. However, these levels aren’t impossible; they’ve just been made to be needlessly difficult.

While I am glad to see Spyro return, and I’ve enjoyed revisiting these classic games, this isn’t a perfect remaster. There are some aspects that need fixing and hopefully ‘Toys for Bob’ will listen to any feedback it gets regarding the game and act on it.

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‘Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy’ Has Been Delayed?!

 Written by Megan Williams

After the huge success of Crash Bandicoot: The N Sane Trilogy last year, rumours started circulating that the next Playstation mascot to get a Next Gen remaster would be Spyro the Dragon. Originally created by Insomniac Games, Spyro was a platforming series that started in 1998. By April, these rumours were confirmed as development team Toys For Bob announced that they were developing the Spyro Trilogy remaster, for the Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The remaster of the first three original games (titled ‘The Reignited Trilogy’) was to be released on the 21st September 2018. However, this date has now been changed as Toys For Bob announced on the 17th August that the game would now be released on the 13th November 2018.

The full statement, from their recent blog post, is below:

Everyone here at Toys for Bob is so proud to be reigniting the original Spyro trilogy after all these years. We’re deeply committed to getting these games right, so we’ve decided to move the release date of Spyro Reignited Trilogy to November 13, 2018. I really hoped that you would be rescuing dragons and scorching Rhynocs sooner, but the Trilogy needs more love and care.  In November when you’re exploring the Dragon Realms, Avalar and the Forgotten Worlds, we know you’ll agree the extra time was worth the wait.

The adventure continues,

Paul Yan
Co-Studio Head
Toys for Bob

While I’m upset that the game is delayed (and confused at the rather vague statement), I’m happy that we’re still getting a remaster and I look forward to revisiting the Dragon Realms and Avalar in November!

Nathan Fillion & Allan Ungar Bring ‘Uncharted’ To Life Through Fan Film

Year: 2018
Directed by: Allan Ungar
Written by: Allan Ungar & Jesse Wheeler
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stephen Lang, Geno Segers, Mircea Monroe, Ernie Reyes Jr. 

Written by Michael Dean

Fans have been clamoring for a major motion picture release for the Uncharted game series by Naughty Dog.  In 2017 it was confirmed that Tom Holland, our new friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, signed up for the role to play Nathan Drake in an upcoming release by Sony Pictures.  However, it is still in the developing stages and some fans simply cannot wait any longer.

Enter Nathan Fillion, known for playing Mal in Serenity and the short-lived TV series Firefly, as well as Richard Castle in the TV series Castle, and writer-director Allan Ungar (Gridlocked) to deliver the fans an entertaining take on the character in a live action 15-minute short film.  Those unfamiliar with the game should know Uncharted is an action adventure game series similar to the Tomb Raider series and the Indiana Jones films.

Allan’s direction in the short film shines with some smooth camerawork, clean edits, and looks very much like a professionally made film.  Allan does a fine job capturing the action, which is fun and well choreographed.  Being a film based off of the game, Allan made sure to include scenes from the game.  In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Allan stated, “Almost everything Nathan does in that fight is seen in one of the four games”.  In addition, some scenes have a video game like quality, for example, in an action sequence where Nathan jumps out a window, he picks himself up from the ground and the camera pans around to where his back is centered in the screen as if he’s ready for the gamer to guide his next action.

Anytime you have Nathan Fillion in a film you know he’s going to deliver the charm and humour he is known for, and he does so in spades.  It was a great idea to include an interrogation scene as it gives a chance for Nathan to show off his acting chops.  It probably helps that the Nathan and Allan are fans of the video game series as their passion pours onto the screen.  Elena Fisher and Victor “Sully” Sullivan are supporting characters from the game and are included in this film as well, played by Mircea Monroe (Magic Mike) and Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe) who are solid for the short time they are given.

Unfortunately, I am not familiar enough with the video game series to fully state whether or not Allan and Nathan capture the full essences of the character and story, but word from the masses are very positive stating the film does capture the spirit of the game.  What I can state is that I was very much entertained and would love to see more from this crew if they are given another opportunity

Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (PS1)

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Written by Megan Williams

‘Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’ is a platforming game that was released for the Playstation 1, Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows in 1997 and was developed by Argonaut Software and published by Fox Interactive. In the game you play as Croc, an anthropomorphic crocodile, who is raised by fluffy orange creatures called Gobbos. After the main villain, Baron Dante, kidnaps the Gobbos, Croc is sent on an adventure to rescue them. The game’s map layout works in the same way as ‘Crash Bandicoot 1’ where you travel across three main islands (and a secret 4th island) playing through each level, all the while collecting the Gobbos.

This was a game that I got for Christmas one year and, like ‘Crash Bandicoot 1’, a game that I played quite a lot throughout my childhood till now. Not as much as the Crash games but close enough and I loved this game. However, replaying it as an adult is very different to playing it as a child as I can now see all of its imperfections…

But, let’s start with the positives first: the visuals are colourful and vibrant, and each level layout is unique and beautiful. The levels are very simple too regardless of the length. This means that the game is not only good for beginners, but it’s also a good time-waster and one that doesn’t require too much concentration. However, my favourite aspect of the game is the soundtrack. Each melody sounds different and uses a variety of instruments, whilst being able to blend in perfectly with each level environment. Plus each track is catchy and memorable.

As an example, here’s the main menu music:

Unfortunately, the camera and controls aren’t always responsive, which can make the simplest task very frustrating. As well as this, the collecting of the Gobbos isn’t compulsory. In every level, there are six of the creatures to collect, but the player can progress to each stage without hitting this target. This overall does give the game less meaning (because they’re portrayed as a crucial part of progressing), and the fourth island at the very end is completely pointless, because you’re not collecting anything within them.

Overall, this game has a great soundtrack, beautiful visuals and a cute main character. However, when you think about it, ‘Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’ doesn’t have much point to it, as the collecting of his friends isn’t required to progress through the game. Plus, the camera and controls aren’t always responsive, which can make for a frustrating, and sometimes, tedious playthrough. Despite this, I still find myself playing this over and over and it’s probably due to nostalgia, or due to the fact that it’s a good game to pass the time with.

Megan’s Rating:

3

Stormy Ascent – Crash Bandicoot DLC

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Written by Megan Williams

A month after ‘Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy’ was released on Playstation 4, developers Vicarious Visions attended San Diego Comic Con and announced the game’s first DLC: The ‘Stormy Ascent’ level for Crash Bandicoot 1.

‘Stormy Ascent’ is an advanced version of a level in the first Crash game (‘Slippery Climb’). However, the original developers, Naughty Dog, decided to take the level out of the original game due to its difficulty. They did leave the level hidden in the disc though, which meant that players were able to access it via a gaming code or software. And, now, it’s been made available without any usage of gaming software!

And….it’s F**KING difficult!

Now, is it the most difficult level in the whole game? No, that award (thanks to the tweaked controls) goes to ‘The High Road’, where I lost around 40 lives just to get the gem; I lost 20 lives and it took me an hour and a half to get a gem in ‘The Stormy Ascent’. So, not as difficult, but pretty close. I found the completely new bonus level more difficult than the main level itself.

During my first completed playthrough, I found the level a lot of fun and challenging. It mostly consisted of me going ‘Ohhh, I get it!’ as this level gives you differently timed platforming so the player can never get too familiar with the patterns that it offers. The lack of lives and checkpoints also add to the difficulty. Oddly enough, the tweaked controls work really well for this level, meaning each death (unfortunately!) can’t be blamed on anyone other than the player.

So, a fun but difficult challenge…and then we get to the time trial mode.

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I’ll be completely honest: I’ve never even gotten close to beating even the easiest time trial as it seems nearly impossible. For anyone who has beaten it, well done!

If you’ve been a long-time Crash Bandicoot player, or you just want a new challenge then I would definitely recommend this.

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (PS4)

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Written by Megan Williams

The ‘Crash Bandicoot’ remaster has now been released on the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch. So, to celebrate this, I thought I’d revisit the games on the Playstation 4.

‘Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy’ is a remaster of the original ‘Crash Bandicoot’ trilogy that came out on the Playstation 1 from 1996-1998, and has been developed (from the ground up) by Vicarious Visions (who developed the Crash Gameboy Advance games).

I am a huge fan of Crash Bandicoot: This was the very first console game I ever played, and I played it constantly throughout my childhood and well into adulthood (I even have a Crash Bandicoot tattoo!). Because I’m such a huge fan, I was excited but a little nervous about the remaster and whether Vicarious Visions would be able to revive a franchise that sadly died out back in 2008.

The game sold out very quickly when it was released on the Playstation 4 at the end of June last year, with physical copies being out of stock for the next few weeks after its launch. As you could probably guess from that, the remaster is fantastic! The updated visuals look beautiful and the music tracks sound awesome against the updated settings. The intro cut scenes also look great with the new and improved graphics, with most of the original voice cast reprising their roles in each game.

As well as just updating the games, Vicarious Visions have added some extra features: two new levels (the previously-removed level Stormy Ascent and a new level Future Tense), plus the time trails from the third game now also appear in the first and second games. This makes for a new and interesting challenge, as this wasn’t originally featured in the first two games. They’ve also made Coco Bandicoot a completely playable character in all three games, which gave each level a new perspective. Although, Coco seems to control better than her crazy brother Crash.

And now for the negatives!

And, honestly, there aren’t that many: The controls have been made to be more precise. However, they do appear quite sluggish and slow, making Crash/Coco feel like a brick. For the second and third games, these type of controls work quite well and it’s a case of getting used to them if you’re used to the original controls. However, with the first game, these controls make the easiest of levels seem nearly impossible (I’ve never rage quit over the games, but this was nearly a first for me!). The last negative point I have are the loading times, which take way too long for all three games.

There are more positives than negatives to this trilogy and it’s obvious Vicarious Visions are all fans of the original games: the trilogy has fixed any issues that fans had with the original trilogy. A couple of new features have also been added, making it somewhat refreshing despite the source material being over 20 years old. Overall, you’ll enjoy ‘The N. Sane Trilogy’ whether you’re a fan of the original games or you’re going into the Crash games for the first time.

Megan’s Rating:

4

Remembering Killzone 2

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Written by Andrew Brooker

I’m going to try and right an injustice. A game has been forgotten to the annals of time and I fear that it may never get the recognition it deserves.

But I think I’ve found the perfect time to either introduce you to, or remind you of, one of the greatest games to grace the PlayStation 3. I am, of course, talking about Guerrilla Games’ ‘Killzone 2’.

A little over a year ago, the Amsterdam based developer finally unveiled their first open-world role-playing game to the world. ‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’ was a revelation amongst Playstation gamers and its post-post-apocalyptic setting not only gave players an enormous open world to immerse themselves in; but it gave us a story that had a lore deep enough to give ‘Lord of the Rings’ a run for its money. The tale of Aloy and her journey from tribal outsider to saviour of the world via battles with enormous robotic dinosaurs and deep underground exploration resonated with everyone that played it. It’s beautiful vistas prompted many – myself included – to spend an unhealthy amount of time hanging around on cliff edges taking shots of the landscapes and making full use of the games photo mode.

However, eight years prior to Horizon’s release, Guerrilla released the sequel to their thoroughly average 2004 science-fiction shooter, ‘Killzone’.

Back in the day, or at least, back in ‘04; ‘Killzone’ was lost in a sea of ground-breaking shooters. ‘Far Cry’, ‘Half Life 2’ and ‘Doom 3’ all towered over the franchise starter. The developer tried to bring a World War 2 inspired story to a future war; giving us multiple characters to play as and a grimy world to play around in. Reasonable reviews that praised the aesthetic but beat the gameplay to a pulp meant that the game that some called “Sony’s ‘Halo’ killer” was sadly, quickly forgotten and with less that a million total sales, that should have been all she wrote.

A few years later, PlayStation and Guerrilla took the world by storm with their announcement of ‘Killzone 2’. It wasn’t a highly anticipated title by any means; the battle between the ISA and the universe’s best space Nazis – The Helghast – had barely been a blip on your average players’ radar. No, what got people excited was the graphical fidelity promised by the announcement trailer. It was the early days of the PlayStation 3 and people needed a reason to get excited for the new generation of consoles.

Sadly, as has become all too common nowadays, it was all a smoke and mirrors act. As gameplay footage of ‘Killzone 2’ found its way into the wild as the release date neared; we soon realised that what we had been sold was not what we were getting. Excitement became resentment and all the positive press and word of mouth couldn’t save ‘Killzone 2’ from mediocre sales numbers release week.

But those of us that had our ears to the ground and were desperate to see our PlayStations worked as hard as they could took a risk. We wanted in on the continued story of the Helghast’s battle for supremacy over the ISA and we were rewarded in the best way.

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If you can get over the fact that you weren’t playing the game demonstrated in the year previous – let’s be honest, if you’ve played ‘Watch Dogs’, you could get over it – you were dragged into a universe that was as beautiful as it was terrifying. With a world built to feel like the worst, most inhumane moments of your favourite Vietnam war movies; ‘Killzone 2’ made every scene, every set piece and every battle feel threatening. You felt like a soldier, weighed down by kit and unable to run for cover at a split seconds notice. You needed to run in and get the job done, but one wrong move could be your last; taking cover behind the wrong pillar or peeking out for a pot shot at the wrong time could have punishing consequences. Every round you fired from your standard issue ISA M82 rifle gave you a kick and holding down the trigger would leave you spraying into the sky as the recoil got the better of you. It was a sense of realism that brought you crashing back to the ground every time you took a hit. It was the glorious thud of your armour barely keeping you alive that left players unable to drop their controllers.

Add to that a superb voice cast, and ‘Killzone 2’ genuinely had it all. Brian Cox was pulled in to reprise his role from the first ‘Killzone’ as the ruthless leader of the Helghast, Scolar Visari. His speech over the opening cutscene sets the tone for the upcoming twelve hours as he channels an encyclopedia’s worth of dictators and terrifies the toughest of players. Returning too – although in a different role – is the superb Sean Pertwee. The brutal and bloodthirsty Colonel Mael Radec has, for eight years, been my favourite video game antagonist. His over-the-top bad guy is almost a caricature of all those goose-stepping German colonels that throw out a maniacal monologue before slaughtering everyone. It is quite the performance and is a joy to experience over and over again. Radec also serves as the game’s final boss; frustration is the order of the day as this wave based final battle – which easily took an hour on higher difficulties – was the perfect way to end this chapter of the ‘Killzone’ legacy.

Finally, and I promise this will be brief, you can’t talk about ‘Killzone 2’ without talking about Warzone – the franchise’s online multiplayer mode.

Just as brutal and frenetic as the single player campaign, a great game in Warzone would see two teams in a death filled tug of war capturing points and upping the body count that was tough to rival anywhere else online. A poor game in the Warzone would see you punished for your inability to work as part of a team or aim straight. Much like the campaign, your heavy body would find itself a target for random acts of violence from the team that was ready to tear bits off of you and barbecue you for daring to step into their arena.

A learning curve that needed a stair lift to tackle, the Warzone was where I lost months of my life. Playing as hard on day one as I was on the day Sony closed down the servers in March this year. I made enemies, I made friends, and I made a lot of enemies. But there will never be an online arena that can compare to ‘Killzone 2’s’ Warzone. I still have nightmares about those tight corridors on Radec Academy.

But here’s the point. ‘Killzone 2’ is one of those games that everyone that played it, loved. But simply not enough people played it. It sold well enough to give us another sequel during the PS3 generation, as well as becoming a flagship franchise across both the PlayStation 4 and the Vita. Nevertheless, the second entry in this epic sci-fi saga always felt under-played and truly under- appreciated. Those of us that got our boots into the Helghan dirt have all got war stories to share with those that didn’t, but far too many never experienced this heavenly hell. And that is a crying shame.

Do you have any fond memories of ‘Killzone 2’ you want to share? Be sure to tweet us – @JUMPCUT_PLAY