Subnautica Review – Take a tour of an alien ocean

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Developer, Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Release Date: January 23rd, 2018; Reviewed on: PC

Testing Specifications: Core i5-6500 3.2Ghz, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

 

Exploring the beautifully crafted underwater world of Subnautica is an experience that’s both awe-inspiring and absolutely terrifying. The vast expanse of the ocean planet you crash land on just begs you to explore its biomes and venture out further beyond safe shallows, but is quick to remind you that this world can also easily kill you. Subnautica is the most approachable game in its genre, and it doesn’t take much to survive, although deeper layers are woven into the experience and hide just underneath the surface. The mystery of the ocean will keep you coming back to explore its biggest depths, all the while crafting better survival gear to tackle its various challenges. The game never gets stale, and I kept coming back for more and more without burning out on its survival genre tropes.

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Danger Zone 2 Review

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Developer, Publisher: Three Fields Entertainment

Released: July 13th, 2018; Reviewed on: PC

Testing Specifications: Core i5-6500, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

 

Few racing games allow players to freely crash through traffic, but to fill that niche comes Danger Zone 2 from Three Fields Entertainment. The second iteration of the follow-up to the Crash Mode introduced in Burnout Revenge expands in a few key areas to create a far more engaging experience and introduces much sought-after diversity. At its core, the purpose of Danger Zone 2 is executed well and there’s plenty of thrills to find in smashing through loads of traffic, although not all of its ideas live up to full potential.

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Revisiting Saints Row 4 – Still an absolute blast

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Developer: Volition; Publisher: Deep Silver

Release Date: August 20th, 2013; Reviewed on: PC

Hardware: Core i5-6500 3.2 GhZ, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

 

Saints Row 4 is exactly an over the top fun experience the gaming industry largely forgot how to make, filled with a sense of humor, fast-paced action and an excellent soundtrack to sweeten the deal. It blows expectations out of the water, distancing its nature as far as possible from competitors on the scale of silliness, and never stops surprising during its playtime. It is a game i find myself frequently coming back to, simply to unwind from heavy exposition or storytelling of modern games, and its bombastic nature brings out all the best in action gaming. You’d feel like riding a giant roller coaster made up of explosions and swearing: one that never shows signs of slowing down for even a moment. The gaming industry produced far too few exhilarating experiences since, and years on, Saints Row 4 is still an absolute blast to come back to.

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Ridge Racer: Slipstream Review – Powerslide Away

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Developer, Publisher: Bandai Namco America

Released: February 20th, 2014

Reviewed on: Razer Phone, Android 7.1

 

Ridge Racer: Slipstream perfectly recaptures the feel of once venerable arcade racing series on the PlayStation, known for high-speed races, intense powerslides and pumping techno music. It reminds me of playing Ridge Racer on the PSP handheld many years ago, and then its follow-up Ridge Racer 2, although on a much smaller scale. The series seemingly dropped off the gaming market after the sweet but cold-received Unbounded didn’t ignite enthusiasm in the series for many long time fans . If you desperately missed the series, however, Bandai Namco dropped a free-to-play mobile spin-off Slipstream, which by now is a few years old itself. That isn’t to say this Ridge Racer isn’t worth coming back to; with only few missteps, it takes place among the best arcade racers on mobile, right up there with the recently released Asphalt 9: Legends. Whether it be an extensive career mode, feel of the game’s arcade racing or bright colorful visuals, there is a lot to like in Ridge Racer: Slipstream, even if it makes some errors along the way.

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Asphalt 9: Legends Review – Reaching new heights

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The biggest mobile arcade racing series Asphalt is back, now with more drifts, jumps and tracks than ever before.

Developer, Publisher: Gameloft; Released: July 25th, 2018

Reviewed on: Razer Phone, Android

Get it on: Google Play

 

Asphalt 9: Legends doesn’t quite take off into the air like its predecessor, but reaches new heights thanks to outstanding gameplay and bright visual design. An experience that largely iterates on what Asphalt 8: Airborne built up, the ninth instalment improves on progression and gameplay in meaningful ways that make it one of the best racers on mobile. While it can’t quite escape the various tropes of free-to-play gaming, these are minor complaints in the face of all features available, and progress never halts to a complete stop. What you get here is a streamlined racer with expansive variety and features that send it into the rank of legends, all available at absolutely no cost.

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Vampyr will add two new difficulty modes

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Focus Home Interactive announced an upcoming update for Vampyr, a dark gritty RPG set in World War I era London. Along with some tweaks to gameplay, it will add two new difficulty modes to add “replayability for existing players and more options for those who haven’t yet sunk their teeth into this dark adventure.”

There will be a ‘Story mode,’ that will significantly decrease the difficulty of Vampyr’s combat to let players enjoy the story-driven elements of the game. It will be a welcome addition as the game’s emphasis on story left combat somewhat lacking. The second feature will be a Hard mode, which on contrary will turn up the challenge of enemy encounters, and reduce the amount of XP awarded from combat. In theory, it will force players to make hard decisions of killing named NPCs and succumbing the world to darker forces.

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When I reviewed Vampyr, I found it to be engaging in many aspects, from character dialogue to exploration of London’s streets, and of course its decision moments whether I let a character live or die. The Story mode will be welcome, although a Hard mode wouldn’t particularly benefit the combat engine, which I found to be clunky. Maybe there are those who will dig the challenge in its Dark Souls-esque combat flow. Vampyr’s upcoming update will release sometime in August. In the meantime, the game is discounted at 25% over on Steam.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands Review

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Developer: Ubisoft Studios; Publisher: Ubisoft

Released: March 7th, 2017; Reviewed On: PC

Testing Hardware: Core i5-6500 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

 

From the start of its plot, Ghost Recon: Wildlands tells you “Do whatever it takes” and follows in that philosophy until the very end of its 45 hour runtime. Giving players complete freedom in approaching its objectives, this tactical sandbox shooter drops you into a representation of Bolivia with one overarching objective to work towards – destabilize the Santa Blanca cartel. The game is bad at plot exposition, but that isn’t really what you’re here for. Instead, you’re dropped into a massive sandbox filled with missions, and choose how to approach each objective in whichever way you prefer, co-op or single player. Ghost Recon Wildlands has a few strengths, but ultimately falls into a generic sandbox experience that does little to engage the player with either its world or story bits. Its main course relies on co-op play, where up to four friends can team up to mess around its sandbox and create thrilling personal experiences. By yourself, you just wouldn’t find as much fun in the game’s repetitive sandbox missions, which often feel like going through an extremely long to-do checklist. While it’s impressive in scope, Wildlands falls short on many gameplay aspects, and this isn’t quite the direction I’d want a Ghost Recon game to take in an open-world setting, although it can engage on gameplay level.

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