Nintendo to unveil Animal Crossing Mobile

Nintendo will finally unveil their Animal Crossing smartphone game this week in a Nintendo Direct on Wednesday 25th October.

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First announced in 2016, the mobile version of Animal Crossing has been on the cards for a while but was delayed along with Fire Emblem Heroes, which was eventually released earlier this year. The game’s casual yet slightly addictive style is ideal for mobile gameplay, and it will be interesting to see how the game will work and which price model it will follow. Fire Emblem followed a free-to-play with optional micro-transactions, whereas Super Mario Run opted for a free download with a price wall to unlock the full game. Animal Crossing seems perfect for the former, but we’ll see soon enough.

 

The 15-minute long Direct will air at 12pm local time in Japan, and Animal Crossing UK have confirmed you can tune in at 7am UK time to learn all about the new game.

Nintendo have made clear on their website that the direct will not shed any light on games for 3DS or Switch, but will focus on their next big smartphone game.

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Review: South Park the Fractured But Whole

Its quite something that South Park: The Fractured But Whole manages to deliver a really entertaining super hero themed turn-based RPG, whilst constantly and mercilessly mocking super hero franchises, and turn-based RPGs.

Throughout the game you’ll encounter combat in the streets of your quiet mountain town, and just when you’re beginning to take the grid-based battle seriously, you’ll be interrupted and scorned by passing cars yelling for you to get out of the road. Its an occasional friendly reminder that many of the game’s enemies are just children with tinfoil on their head, and there’s something very endearing about watching them break character mid-battle to scurry out of the road.

The Fractured But Whole is full of these moments, from the name itself to the items you collect or the powers you amass. That isn’t to say that the game is suddenly a sweet, nostalgic dive into childhood make-believe – rest assured it is still very much indicative of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s sharp, satirical humour. Whatever your background or beliefs, this game is out to insult and offend you in the most inclusive way possible.

Boss fights don’t get as dark as the zombified aborted foetus of a reality TV star (an actual enemy in the first game), and this time round no scenes warranted European censorship, but Fractured But Whole has its moments. Among the worst of these are scenes in a strip club and a church, though I’ll refrain from spoiling just how terrible they are.

If you’ve played the Stich of Truth, you’ll be familiar with all this, but the sequel builds on its predecessor by expanding combat and adding enough content to almost double the length of the game.

sp2-chaos-1920_208824The biggest upgrade is in the game’s new grid-based combat, which adds greater complexity to the turn-based mechanics introduced in Stick of Truth. The moves are still largely fart jokes, true, but the system itself has matured to give the player greater agency over play-style. New considerations for your team’s moves based on positioning, range and knock-back potential gives the combat the depth it was missing in the last game. These mechanics also evolve throughout the game, introducing more moves and demanding more from the player, with real-time timers that endanger or incapacitate multiple team members in a set zone and enemy summons that prolong the battle. There are also several battles that include swarms of  enemies that don’t stop coming until you make it from one end of the battle to the other, to escape the battle. It doesn’t do much for the game’s difficulty but it keeps battles from getting too stale as the game progresses.

Equally you unlock more options for your team, each with a specialised set of moves to try out. Knowing the strengths and styles of your teammates is vital, and it fits in perfectly with the narrative of the show. The (slightly) more considerate Kyle has a focus on shielding your team and pulling them close to heal, where Clyde’s moves are largely centred around grossing out your opponents, and the seemingly immortal Kenny’s are typically rash.

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One of the things I found most impressive around this is the tailored banter between the characters. It gets repetitive if you continually use the same team as is often the case with RPGs in this style, but each of your team mates has dialogue specifically targeted toward certain members. Super Craig might single out the Human Kite during a fight to call him lame, whereas you would get entirely different dialogue if you swapped one for Cartman or Clyde. It’s a clever touch that makes each team feel fresh.

You also have a similar level of customisation with your own character development. Armour and clothing continue to be largely cosmetic, but Fractured But Whole introduces new ways to tailor New Kid to your play style. You begin with choosing a class of hero from three distinct styles based on speed, strength and range, but you can return to Cartman to amend this even in the early game. As you go on however, you have access to a greater range of choice and can mix and match within that selection, including Cyborg, Elementalist, Psychic.

Rather than levelling up in the traditional sense, your level is based on artefacts you assign to your character. Starting off you have one slot, but this expands to multiple slots each with greatly varied options. You can choose artefacts that not only increase your overall level, but buff your abilities in particular moves. You could choose moves that focus on knock-back for example, and select artefacts that give a boost to knock-back damage.

Despite the added complexity of combat, it is at times a little too easy. Personally I didn’t find this to be a negative thing, as the variety of experience is still engaging and the hilarity of writing kept me hooked, but if you are someone who needs a challenge to keep you interested you may find this somewhat lacking even on the most difficult setting.

This is also true of the game’s ‘puzzles’, which given their simplicity shouldn’t be considered puzzles at all in the sense you might expect from an RPG. It reminded me a lot of Zelda games, not for clever memorable dungeons design but for those moments where you notice a hookshot target early on but don’t have the right equipment yet.

That said, there is a lot to keep you interested outside of actual gameplay. Exploration of South Park is still entertaining as ever, with plenty of inside jokes to stumble upon or familiar characters to seek out and take a selfie with. Mini games like this will appeal to completionists, as will collecting costumes or seeking out memberberries. Its not that they’re exceptional side quests but they give you an excuse to go out an explore every inch of the town, which will expose you to how much effort has gone into hiding jokes in every corner.

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If you’re a South Park, fan you should absolutely invest in this game. It isn’t your average licensed game, like some of the early South Park titles. As someone who played South Park, South Park Rally and Chef’s Luv Shack on the N64 in the late nineties, I know what happens when you lazily slap a well-known-name on something that’s below average. This is a world apart from those early games, and its very apparent that a great deal of work has gone into this both from the studio and Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves.

Essentially what you’re getting for your money is an epic, twenty hour episode of the show wrapped up in a parody of super-hero films and turn-based RPGs. If you’re a fan of all three, you’ll be blown away.

TL;DR

Pros

  • Combat is more complex, with new grid-based mechanics
  • It is likely the funniest game around, both in narrative and dialogue
  • Looks and feels like you’re in a South Park episode

Cons

  • Fairly easy and unchallenging
  • Less daring than the first game, in terms of dark humour (this could easily be a pro depending on you)

Nintendo adds Video Capture to Switch

Nintendo Switch just got a big update (4.0) and some highly anticipated new features, including in-game video capture and save transfers.

The video recording functionality will allow you to capture and share your gameplay and will, for now at least, only work with the most recent versions select games; The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (version 1.3), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (version 1.3), Splatoon 2 (version 1.2) and Arms (version 3.1).

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The second big point is probably the most frequently requested function, the ability to transfer your game data from one console to another.

The update will also include tweaks to the news app to make it both easier to read and unsubscribe from, and more changes to the eShop that adds pre-ordering for select titles.

Most importantly, the update brings you brand new profile icons, including a T-Rex in a hat..

 

EA shuts down Visceral Games

Electronic Arts are shutting down their Visceral Games studio, EA vice president Patrick Söderlund has announced.

The studio, which was founded in 1998 as Redwood Shores and later became Visceral Games in 2009, is best known for Battlefield Hardline, Dante’s Inferno and the Dead Space series.

“Our Visceral studio will be ramping down and closing, and we’re in the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA,” Söderlund said.

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Whilst the future of the team has been thrown into uncertainty, the statement shed light on the future of their current project. Visceral Games have been working on a Star Wars universe game since 2013, and the announcement will be significantly changing the direction of the project from a Naughty Dog style story-based, linear adventure to “a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency.”

It also means that the game, set for a 2019 release, will be delayed indefinitely whilst the project is handed over to another team.

“A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project,” Söderlund said, though there are no specifics. The EA vice president didn’t mention the game’s writing in the statement, which was previously worked on by former Naughty Dog creative director Amy Hennig and Todd Stashwick.

Cyberpunk 2077 update from CD Projekt Red

CD Projekt Red have released a statement responding to news of recent departures from the studio.

The joint statement from co-founder Marcin Iwinski and studio head Adam Badowski allays fears that the project might be delayed or hindered by the news. They have also addressed their relative silence on the game and shed some light on its development ethos.

“We believe reinventing that wheel every friggin’ time is what makes it a better game,” the studio said, in a statement released on Twitter. “It’s what creates innovation and makes it possible for us to say we’ve worked really hard on something, and we think its worth your hard-earned cash.”

Considering their ambitious track record with games, its easy to see why the studio would want to take their time with a project like this. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt received critical acclaim for its epic scope and engaging narrative, and in that respect Cyberpunk 2077 has big shoes to fill as their next big open-world RPG.

The upcoming game will run on RedEngine 4, an upgraded version of the engine that powered Wild Hunt. Development has been underway for five years, but presumably has intensified since resources from the Witcher 3 were moved over to the new project.

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Little else is know about the upcoming release, other than a glimpse of its setting in the futuristic Night City and some interesting gameplay teasers. The most memorable of these is the idea of language in the game, with some characters speaking entirely different languages forcing the player purchase translator implants for their own character. With exciting and innovative ideas like this, it’s easy to see why CD Projekt Red might want to take their time.

Switch eShop update adds Discount Filter

An update to the Switch this week introduced a brand new category to filter games by discount.

The ‘Games on Sale’ section makes it much easier to find which titles are on offer from the Switch’s growing library. The section joins other useful filters such as top sellers or recent releases, and will include Nintendo’s discounted games.

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Of course, currently that doesn’t include many and seeing the lonely category may leave you disappointed for now. But with the holiday season and sales on the way, we can expect to see a few more games populate the section in the coming months.

It does however bring attention to some of the fairly standard features still missing from the console. Six months on from its release, the Switch is still missing some key features, most notably the completion of their online subscription service and the free monthly games that come with it.

Seeing Nintendo respond to fan’s wishes and improve upon the eShop is a great sign, and certainly should leave Switch owners hopeful for the future.

Fingers crossed for virtual console next.

Witcher 3 gets PS4 Pro Boost

Witcher 3 just got a big upgrade. CD Project Red have released a patch to upgrade their huge open-world RPG to make the most of the PS4 Pro.

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The update will slightly boost the game’s performance and add support for 4K resolution, so this beautiful game may look better than ever on Sony’s new console. The 20GB patch was initially released as version 1.50, which was followed by version 1.51 to iron out a few more issues.

 

A similar upgrade is planned for the Xbox version, most likely following the Xbox One X release on 7th November.