‘In Real Life’ Book Review

In Real Life header

I am not very good at MMOs but through the eyes of Anda I learn what it feels like to be an MMO god. Where I forget to log in regularly or give up on the daily grind, In Real Life‘s young protagonist exceeds, slashing, dashing and powering her way through enemies to hoover up XP, gold and respect from her peers, becoming one of the greatest players that the fictional MMO of Coarsegold Online has ever seen. But while Coarsegold Online may not really exist, the problems within the game are taken from the MMOs of our own world. It’s realistic without being too hard hitting but it’s jovial without being too jolly, which is perhaps why I like In Real Life so much.

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So Many Me Review (PC)

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So Many Me is exactly the type of game you love to root for. A quirky underdog, the game’s clone gameplay, in which spawned characters follow you and put their various abilities to use, is a bit like Lemmings without the peril of death being quite so funny. The fact it also combines that with physics-based puzzles and a blobby, green protagonist that’s as cute as can be, probably makes So Many Me seem like the Frankenstein’s creature of games on paper (which is likely why the game’s crowdfunding efforts didn’t go so well). But in action there’s a spark and a bright one at that. Read our So Many Me review after the break.

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Shadows on the Vatican – Act 1: Greed (PC) Review

Shadows on the Vatican Act 1 Greed screenshot

A quick skim of the ‘controversies’ section of The Vatican Bank (less conspicuously ‘The Institute for the Works of Religion’ in official terms)’s Wiki page and you’ll very soon understand that not only does The Vatican make a good, holy chunk of money each year, but that there’s also a reasonable amount of people questioning where that money comes from (mostly from Catholic follower donations and sales of stamps) and how it’s been spent over the years (anti-communist governments and also militias, maybe? Allegedly? I don’t want to go to jail). Common sense tells us that there are aspects of Papal business that are shadier than a 7 kilometre squared gazebo in the Sahara desert and The Da Vinci Code by Robert Langdon is a good, camp-y (if not slightly over the top) yet well-researched fiction book that covers it too, if that’s your bag of chips. Similarly, Shadows on the Vatican – Act 1: Greed is an excellently made point and click mystery and it’s the first episode in a series that points a few accusatory fingers in The Vatican’s direction. But it’s fictional! (Sorta.) And it’s backed up by a book of legitimate Vatican Bank facts, an unavoidable legal disclaimer and some shoddy voice acting. So onwards with the review to find out what else Shadows on the Vatican – Act 1: Greed is all about!

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Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4) Review

Lara Croft Tomb Raider Teaser

There’s no need to ask ‘does it matter if Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition only boasts better graphics and hair effects that make Lara look like an extra from a Pantene Pro 10 advert?’ Of course it matters. The real question is, how much? I reviewed Tomb Raider Definitive Edition on PS4 to find out for myself and you can read my thoughts after the break.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition (PS4) Review

Injustice Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition characters

Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition isn’t a superhero video game, it’s the superhero video game. While those who’ve focussed on the choice of the word ‘Ultimate’ that this game claims to be (thanks to all of the DLC crammed into the newer edition’s package) may chastise for stating the obvious, Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition is exactly that superlative not because of the extra offerings but because at a base level, it just fundamentally works.

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How To Survive (PS3) Review

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As a zombie survival title, you could say that How To Survive is a little fish in a pond the size of the Atlantic, something akin to a krill or a prawn. But that’s on the outside looking in and upon playing the EKO Software developed and 505 Games published title you’ll understand that the undead genre could perhaps make room for one more.

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Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know (PS3) Review

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Adventure Time Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know is a spin off of Pendleton Ward’s popular Cartoon Network series, Adventure Time. But is the dungeon crawling caper as fun and entertaining as the Emmy-nominated show that it’s based on? We’ve reviewed the game on PS3 so that you can find out.

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NBA 2K14 (PS3) Review

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After 2013 saw 2K’s meatball sim win a championship ring of its own whilst making a play to take everyone else’s, could this year belong to NBA 2K14 once again?

Becoming the Best is an Uphill Battle

It’s fitting then, that the game initially thrusts the challenge of being The Best upon you, with Started from the Bottom by Drake on a loop in the background as you go about creating your own ‘MyPLAYER’ character to thwart the NBA with your balling skills. You pick a head, choose a body type and customise facial hair tattoos and a name, basic stuff, but 2K seem to have more customisations than you can shake a mirror at. They’ve also included a note about how much voice support a name has which is a nice touch.

“To be the best, you have to work the hardest.” is what LeBron James says in the opening featurette and and anyone who’s played 2K13 can tell you, this game can be a grind. But, with myCAREER, 2K14’s primary game mode, you have a chance to upgrade both you and your player, using VC (Virtual Currency) that can be earned during games or drills, or, in a new feature, bought for real money through the PSN. Before you head to the courts though, you’d better pick a nickname, how does “Mr. Perfect” sound? Good, because fans and commentators will soon be calling you it.

Click ‘Continue Reading’ to read the rest of the NBA 2K14 (PS3 review.

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Critter Crunch (PSN) Review

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As of late, there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not indie titles, particularly downloadable ones from small studios, are viable. The question is whether quality can come in small sizes with miniscule budgets, yet still being able to deliver a double dose of ‘fun’. If there was ever a good example of a tiny title done correctly, then it’s Critter Crunch, a bright and colourful puzzle game from indie dev Capybara Games that serves up gameplay excellence and leaves you, quite literally, hungry for more.

In Critter Crunch you play as Biggs, a giant fluffy creature whom, in his habitat of the tropical island of Krunchatoa, Biggs sits firmly right at the top of the island’s food chain, helping other ‘Critters’ get their dietary requirements. Biggs does this using the very simple gameplay element of using his giant tongue to nab critters from the rows of generated beasties, delivering them into the mouths of bigger critters. The tiny fly like creatures feed the slightly bigger and more cutesy animals who can then be fed into the (still very adorable) globe sized beasts. Feeding them makes them explode out of happiness (this is how the game justifies the critter bursting) which in turns rewards Biggs with the points required to beat ‘most’ levels and jewels, which he then digests in his ginormous stomach.

All of this adorableness is presented and explained to you via an in-game documentary. Yes, as part of the game, there are animated cutscenes in which a curious explorer with an impressive moustache explains to you some of the history of Biggs and his place in the food chain. The explorer’s short and often humorous talks function as a tutorial too. While these scenes are hardly the visual spectacular you’d expect from a big budget blockbuster, Capybara Games is certainly utilising its funds well as this is beyond the production value I’d expect from a game of this size. And what’s more is that these cutscenes really do function as an unobtrusive Critter Crunch guide, helping you quickly and easily get a firm grasp on the game’s skills and requirements, handy for when the game gets trickier…

Critter Crunch screenshot 1

Critter Crunch does ease you in rather well, with a gentle learning curve that you’d want from a casual title. However, the two level types in the game do try to challenge your critter crunching abilities. You get a map where you have to complete levels to unlock the next part of the island, but while some challenges are just ‘stick to the basic gameplay, throw everything at the wall to get points’, others are the far trickier puzzle levels, where you have a certain amount of moves in which to clear the board completely. There are also optional bonus levels just in case you get bored.

While it’s unlikely that playing for around half an hour (your recommended daily Critter Crunch allowance) will see you getting bored, Critter Crunch is very much a casual title, as its iOS and PSN availability would have you believe. That’s not to say that it can’t be enjoyed for longer, but the game provides its optimal ‘fun’ level when it’s being enjoyed in short bursts. A ramped up level difficulty, e.g using more Critters as well as introducing toxic kinds of critters (these can pass their toxicity to other critters and harm your points score), attempts to remedy this but it runs the risk of forcing you into frustration.

What does keep you occupied in the game, besides Critter Crunch’s insanely vibrant graphics, which threaten to challenge triple A titles with its use of the colour wheel, is that Biggs is actually on a mission to feed his son. As you’ll learn in an early stage of the game, Critter Crunch’s protagonist isn’t just out to digest jewels for the ‘lulz’, as when you achieve a particularly high scoring streak, you can transfer some of your digested loot into the open, waiting mouth of Biggs’ child…via, you guessed it, rainbow vomit. As you can lose the non-puzzle levels by the critters running out of space (this can and will challenge your logistical management) and falling out of the level grid, feeding your son requires some serious grid watching, as they race down the grid faster due to the rainbow stuff being one of their favourite treats. However, you get multiplied points for feeding Biggs’ offspring so despite the challenge, you’ll absolutely want to do your best to get him fed.

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Critter Crunch does of course make the task less straightforward for you in some cases, with Capybara Games’ decision to include a plethora of helpful powerups. Amongst these are special powered up foods such as slices of watermelon which provide you with seeds to shoot at critters and pop them instantly. Then there are the bomb Critters, which, just under Biggs on the food chain, are one of the biggest creatures in the game. They require one full critter to burst, or two critters before exploding and taking out a whole giant chunk of the level rewarding you with a crazy amount of points as a result. There are also glowing critters which provide extra points when they explode, and can be indicated by the bright light that they emit.

There’s not a lot of bad that can be said about a game this cute and the fact that Critter Crunch somehow matches the horror of food chain with an adorable father and son partnership is a testament to Capybara Games. A talented studio, they’ve even managed to wrap it all up in a package adorable graphics and some fantastic sound production that caresses your ears like and energetic lullaby. So if there’s any doubt remaining that indie titles don’t belong, let them eat Critters, for Critter Crunch will surely prove them wrong.

Overall Score : 9