Striking a vast contrast with developer Dontnod’s other games, Vampyr is a dark and gritty adventure set in Victorian London. With a unique spin on player choice, the game presents an interesting dilemma for players in both story and game design aspects. Doctor Jonathan Reid is a renowned surgeon trying to help those in need, but at the same time happens to be a newborn vampire with a thirst for blood. Vampyr thus makes players question the nature of their actions. Will you try to heal everyone in one of its districts? Or will you let the city succumb to complete darkness? It is an interesting setup rarely presented in gaming, although execution of such vital choice is often lacking. Nonetheless, Vampyr is an engaging adventure game well worth playing for its intrigue, mysterious characters and exploration.
Banished is unlike a typical city builder you encounter, with its focus on lower scale management and survival aspect of its population. Yet the experience is very absorbing as you manage a group of exiled villagers into growing a settlement. Playing through Banished reveals a deliberate balance of expansion and survival tactics, where anything can go wrong within a single weather season. You’d be fooled into associating it’s calm music background and a small scale with a relaxing experience, as it is anything but; although it is incredibly rewarding to grow your village into an expansive town. Being able to build a large settlement is both an extreme test of player skill and a rewarding outcome, but getting there is not an easy road. Banished offers a unique spin on the city-building genre, which hasn’t been replicated quite often, and if you’re willing to put up with its slow pace, the game offers a very rewarding experience.
The world of ARK: Survival Evolved is a strange place, one where you can seemingly co-exist with various prehistoric species of dinosaurs. You wake up with a weird artefact in your arm and nothing on your person, tasked with surviving the environment and its many dangers while gradually clothing your character, building a home, and setting out to explore. The premise follows the process of many open-world survival games, except here you’ll likely get killed by a velociraptor within a first couple minutes if you happen to be unfortunate enough to spawn in a danger zone. ARK is a massive sandbox filled with different biomes, countless species of dinosaur and other creatures, as well as a few technological wonders that almost feel out of place in this prehistoric world. If you ever wanted a survival sandbox like this to be playable on the go, the developer Studio Wildcard now has you covered with ARK: Survival Evolved on mobile platforms. While the game experience is naturally limited in areas of graphics and controls, this port fully recreates the world of ARK apart from expansion packs on compact devices.
I never imagined riding a lawn mower on a race track will be so much fun, as those vehicles tend to be far from fast or entertaining in real life. The new game from Bugbear proved that it very well can be, especially when you put 24 mowers against each other in demolition derby. Wreckfest has been stuck in Steam Early Access for such a long time that I’ve entirely forgot about the game’s existence up until its recent full release. The developer Bugbear Entertainment, which many would remember as creators of the FlatOut series, announced this title back in 2012 as Next Car Game. Through lengthy development, numerous delays, and finding a publisher, Wreckfest has finally released on PC, and its long time coming looks to have paid off very well. With a career mode, custom events, mod support and a varied selection of cars, this is a proper FlatOut sequel many have been waiting for, and a realistic damage model is icing on top of the cake. Bugbear have delivered an excellent demolition derby racing title packed full of fun moments, and its numerous release delays really paid off to finish work on this game. Now that the game left Early Access, there is a lot to enjoy about Wreckfest, and long time fans of demolition racing games got a well-made release, even if the developer no longer has the rights to the series’ name they’re well known for.
Shadowgun Legends completely blew my expectations out of the water, and being familiar with Madfinger Games’ previous instalments in the franchise, I was very surprised at how much effort the developers have put into completely changing the game. Shadowgun Legends feels unlike any other game before it, and fills a niche currently absent from the mobile games market. Think of it as a toned-down Warframe or Destiny 2 on the bigger platforms, and that’s Shadowgun Legends in a nutshell. On the moibile, the closest reminder is Gameloft’s N.O.V.A. 3 linear shooter, which is a somewhat old game by today’s standards. The mission-based gameplay from a central hub has allowed the developers to create something fresh for the franchise and the mobile platform in general. As a free-to-play package, it is a very enticing deal, and the game doesn’t force players to rely on micro-transactions, as those exist only for the purpose of cosmetic items and premium currency. Given the game’s PvE nature, plenty of loot can be gathered in many of Shadowgun’s story and side missions, eliminating the need to spend real currency on in-game purchases, which plays to the title’s strengths. To add, Shadowgun Legends looks and plays similar to most AAA titles found on the PC and consoles, and I can easily say that it’s the best looking game on the market. Madfinger games have certainly been improving their first-person shooter and visual experiences, with Legends representing their best efforts so far. The game is quite a looker, and shines on high-end phones, not only presenting crisp visuals and smooth framerates, but also featuring the highest amount of particle effects I’ve seen in a mobile shooter. Shadowgun Legends is an excellent FPS game, and while its free-to-play nature is bound to create obstacles in progression, the fluid gameplay and addicting missions makes Legends a big hit on the mobile platform. Add in its free price, and there is no reason to not give this game at least a try, and I can easily recommend Shadowrun Legends for those in a market for a first-person shooter on the go.
If you’re familiar with previous Shadowguns, then Legends feels like a completely different game to the first two, and one that’s best executed overall. The first Shadowgun was a linear third-person shooter with a short campaign and not much else to offer. The follow-up DeadZone took a different approach, offering a free-to-play online deathmath or team v team gameplay, but it did retain the look and combat of its predecessor. Shadowgun Legends steps into a completely new direction, and features hub-based gameplay along with a switch to a first-person perspective. Out of a free game, I would not expect such level of detail put into Legends, and while some would no doubt find its structure to be quite repetitive with similar missions, there are also plenty of exciting moments to be had playing it. Shadowgun Legends uses the same player progression systems seen in many MMO titles, which includes access to different levels of gear, extensive skill tree, as well as a wealth of customization options available to purchase in-game. While repetitive mission design might serve to the detriment of the game, its close relation to games like Warframe and Destiny 2 that specialize in PvE events and gameplay will draw many players in, and the addicting gameplay loop will keep players occupied over extensive periods of time.
Shadowgun Legends features a single hub town, from which all missions can be accessed on the fly through the galaxy map, and these range from simple defense/eliminate missions that only take 2 minutes to complete to extensive story missions that require longer attention. The mission design can be summarized as highly repetitive, however having played Warframe on PC with the same progression loop, I can easily say that Shadowgun Legends makes up for the repetition by enticing players with better gear and quality combat experience. The game constantly pumps out new gear through quest rewards and enemy loot drops, and is pretty generous with the content it has on offer. You can buy better items from vendors for either standard or premium currency, and of course, if you wish to have any customization beyond paint for your armor and guns, you’d need to spend some real money on currency to gain access to those items. But as mentioned before, one doesn’t need to spend money on Legends to still enjoy it for many hours. After multiple hours of playthrough, the game feels very familiar to Destiny (take either the first or second one) in many ways, including restrictive story progression in favor of additional ‘grind’ quests, however keep in mind that Shadowgun Legends is available on the go and doesn’t cost any admission price.
Madfinger Games have done a really great job at focusing on the visuals for this game, and it looks absolutely stellar on high-end mobile devices. Texture resolutions are very sharp, and the game has the best vegetation detail across all mobile releases of the recent years: seriously, take the time to look at the grass in the hub town and you’ll see what I mean. And textures are just a beginning of this visually impressive package. Shadowgun Legends tends to gravitate towards Michael Bay-style explosive action, and every mission gives an opportunity to see some of the best particle effects by far in mobile gaming. Everything from lighting to environmental detail absolutely shines, and the game features a few diverse locales to make sure players don’t get bored of the same missions they partake in on the same maps. Having to render only a single open hub town, Legends takes full advantage of the assets from Unity Engine to create some spectacular environments and game effects. Did I also mention this is the best-looking Unity engine game I could find on mobile? No? Well, Legends absolutely is, and I’d go as far as to say the game is comparable in graphics to some modern titles on the PC and Consoles. If that wasn’t enough, Legends has the best set of animations that apply to both the player character, as well as the enemy AI. Interactive segments really showcase the animation quality, and even pulling levels is quite satisfying to see, until you’ve seen that same animation about 100 times. Shadowgun Legends as a visual experience is simply unchallenged on the mobile platform, and while quite a few recent releases on mobile such as Gear Club (my review) and PUBG (my review), they are far from competing with the quality of Legends. If you have a high-end phone or tablet, then Legends is one of the best, if not the overall best lookers on mobile systems.
Shadowgun Legends takes players across multiple planets, which brings diverse locales to be seen across the campaign. The scenery change is always nice, although after a few grind missions in the same environment, I was getting bored of the sights. That’s not to say Legends has bad environmental design. In fact, it is the opposite – the level of detail here is the best I’ve seen in a mobile game, which helps Shadowgun look stellar on high-end flagship phones. And the effort didn’t just go into environmental backgrounds either, and shows in everything from character models to highly-detailed guns and even animations are as diverse and smooth as I’d be expecting from a high-profile PC game. Which makes it pretty sweet that Shadowgun Legends is free, however that brings many gripes along which I discuss further into this review. Surprisingly, all these graphics still take up under 1GB of storage, although Madfinger Games’ releases have always been fairly condensed in size. Still, the environmental design showcases some of the best detail and variety I’ve seen in a mobile shooter, and while it’s sci-fi premise looks awfully similar to N.O.V.A. 3 by Gameloft that itself took inspiration from the Halo series, Shadowgun Legends stands its own with a wider range of game mechanics. The hub-based mission design is rare to see on mobile, and while I’m not a big fan of 2-minute long missions, which amount to about the same time as a few loading screens when hopping between the hub and confined linear levels in different locales. But overall, this all works really well, and there is plenty of content to keep players invested over longer periods of time, as many would enjoy Legends’ solid gameplay.
The brief plot there is concerns humanity being oppressed by a superior alien force, although can easily be missed because of the gameplay structure. Hub-based mission design never really leaves room for any story development to happen, and lack of voice over in at least main mission briefings doesn’t help by much either. Shadowguns are known as skilled mercenaries in this universe, and as one, the player completes a variety of story missions, side challenges and takes part in surprisingly many multiplayer modes. You wouldn’t really care about the plot here, plus Legends feels awfully similar to Halo, Destiny and N.O.V.A. in its plot setting and development, and as such, there are far better stories to be seen even on the mobile platform. As Shadowgun Legends is free, expect a progression curve that takes a while to complete; story missions are broken up with side quests and quick challenges, and while it does offer diversity away from the main plot, the grind required to access further plot missions often slows the game down to a complete halt. Whereas the main plot missions are generous with their XP rewards, side missions tend to reward players much less, and on numerous occasions, I found myself grinding side missions or dipping into multiplayer just to unlock that next story bit. Not that it’s a necessarily awful design, as the gameplay in Shadowgun Legends is very solid and while it does require grind, the game doesn’t force micro-transactions. The game is one of the best shooters on the mobile platform, although it is bound to find competition from the likes of PUBG Mobile and Fortnite when it comes out. The PvE-based mission design works really well along with Legends’ central hub, which makes the game fun to play both in short bursts and over longer gaming sessions.
The central town in Legends grants access to everything from missions to new gear. It serves as a central hub, where players start off to venture into either single player missions or the various multiplayer modes Shadowgun offers. It’s the only semi-open location featured in the game, and even then, it is limited to a few interactive spots and characters, however that is understandable on the mobile systems. Not that there is anything to do in the hub besides selling looted gear and picking up missions, so there are no complaints against the game in regards to the linear structure. It is easy to tell Legends borrows many elements from the likes of Destiny and Borderlands, with first-person gameplay, various rarity levels of loot, and the focus on constantly improving player stats. Again, this isn’t a bad thing as such games weren’t available on the go, and Legends fills that niche perfectly. In addition to endless piles of gear, there is a giant skill tree, which suggests a very high level cap, although I doubt the game has enough single player content to support that, and those interested in maxxing out their characters would resort to multiplayer. Decoding holograms or opening loot boxes is the easiest way to get paint for armor and weapons, which offers players an opportunity to personalize their Shadowguns.
Legends is fairly generous with loot, and after extensive browsing through the game’s visual shop, I determined that premium currency is used for cosmetics only, so doesn’t offer players who spend real-world money any significant advantage. For those obsessed with accessorizing characters, be prepared to spend some amount of real-world currency. With that said, there is one element the premium currency affects most, which is loot box keys. Gold loot boxes contain a high chance for rare items, however require a keycard to unlock unlike regular chests. After a few hours of play, I have 3 sitting in my inventory with no way to unlock them, which I see as a problem as more and more of those loot boxes are accumulated. Oddly enough too, Legends is missing a daily rewards system (apart from currency contracts with certain payouts), and to use its wheel spin feature, one again needs the premium currency. It’s not the best design, as the wheel spin does contain a chance for keycards to those gold chests I noted above. Forcing players to spend real-world currency on something with a random chance of reward (hello triple A gaming loot boxes) is not an ideal system, and like many other free-to-play titles on mobile, Legends could have done with a free wheel spin per day. Apart from these major gripes with premium currency, however, there is no reason to spend real-world currency at any point as the game provides enough rewards.
The multiplayer mode is fairly diverse, and offers players a selection of 6 different modes, which include both PvP and PvE systems. There are 6 models in total, including a co-op dungeon, 1v1 and team vs team modes. It’s a diverse set of multiplayer events, and given Legends’ recent launch, servers are plentiful with other players, who are even rendered real-time in the game’s hub town. Legends offers a set of emotes for quick gestures and also message communication, however that appears to be limited to the hub town so far, as I’ve found no means to communicate with others during actual missions. When missions require player coordination to unlock something, it can be frustrating when others on your team aren’t paying attention, and hopefully it’s something that can be addressed in future updates. A proper communication system can certainly be useful in co-op, as well as team vs team modes. The latter 3 co-op arenas are gated behind lengthy progression, which lessens their appeal, however based on description, they are meant for skilled players, so taking time with the game prior is fairly important. With the diversity of content that Shadowgun Legends offers with both its single and multiplayer modes, the game is currently one of the best shooters available on the mobile platform, and also Madfinger Games’ most ambitious project so far (read here).
With release of Shadowgun Legends, the mobile platform finally has a title to contend with likes of Warframe and Destiny, and the game is also one of the best lookers across a vast range of games on Google Play. The fluid first-person shooter mechanics combined with a loot system and skill progression creates a unique experience on mobile, and the addicting gameplay loop contributes to longevity of the title, which is important considering fierce competition of releases on the mobile systems. With an extensive single player campaign broken up with side quests and challenge trials, Shadowgun Legends is the most ambitious FPS title on the platform so far, and its free price can’t be ignored, even if it does bring numerous gripes with the game’s slow progression curve. In addition to being a stellar shooter, Legends is also an excellent looker, with visual detail coming very close to the graphics of some PC and console titles. Environmental design deserves extra praise, and the diversity of environments is excellent for a game of this scale. While it is not a completely perfect game, and the progression presents some extensive grind in places, the gameplay more than makes up for it with diverse environments and excellent FPS mechanics. As a free download, I see absolutely no reason not to recommend this game. Madfinger Games did indeed deliver on their “most ambitious title yet”.
Over the years, the gaming industry has spawned countless titles that cover about every possible genre to be imagined. Many IPs made it into long-running franchises, that either thrive off improvements or drag the series along with yet another sequel. Among the large number of titles are excellent games which have become venerable franchises, followed by large crowds of gamers, however it becomes easy to overlook some ideas that have been lost along the way. Some franchises lie dormant, or worse, they disappear from the radar with seemingly no hope of getting continued. Many fan favourites have ended too soon, and there is no talk of them ever getting a sequel. Whether they had a great concept or offered excellent entertainment, many games deserve to be continued, and many franchises are still welcome to make a comeback to the current gaming market. I pick some games and franchises that I used to play, and also some that I heard were really good, to make a list of games that players desperately want to come back at some point in time. Many of these, fans would be dying to see again, which makes these ideas worth bringing back. These games have lied dormant over years for multiple reasons, sometimes it’s a company’s bankruptcy or an idea is simply shelved, but their original creations remain good to this day. Here are the 10 series that haven’t been heard of in a while, but desperately need to get a new outing.
Burnout was an extremely fun racing series, which culminated with an excellent Burnout Paradise. The nature of gameplay involved intense speeds and spectacular crashes that set the series apart from other racing titles. Before Paradise, Burnout games have featured a linear progression with many challenges to complete and cars to unlock, and were still a blast to play. Even the PSP titles, Legends and Dominator, although lacking the complexity of other titles in the franchise, still offered a compelling Burnout experience. And Paradise was simply stellar, offering an open-world set within a dense urban city. Challenges were fun, and the added exploration elements took up many hours to complete, plus the soundtrack was quite good, except the song Paradise by Guns N’ Roses is bound to get annoying really fast. Paradise even included a vast amount of cars to race in, and the career offered a lot of content, even if it felt repetitive to complete the entirety of it. On a modern game engine, a new Burnout would look absolutely stellar, especially if it was EA’s own Frostbite 3. Unfortunately, no rumours have been heard about a possible Burnout title, and Criterion Games have been off the news radar for quite a while.
Crash Bandicoot has been off the radar for a very long time, and it’s a shame, because those games were really fun third-person action platformers, filled with beautiful locations and interesting characters. The controls are smooth and even the PSP releases that I used to have were filled with hours of content, not to mention that Crash Bandicoot had really neat gameplay elements. The series stood out with its style and mechanics, and gained many fans despite an abundance of excellent platformers on the market. Last year’s Ratchet & Clank proved that people still have a thing for third-person colourful platformers, and we desperately need to see another game out of this memorable series.
Command & Conquer
Besides its mediocre 4th entry, Command & Conquer is considered by many as one of the staples in the strategy genre, and many especially like the over the top Red Alert spin-off. The series lays dormant since 2010, and although for some time fans were promised C&C: Generals 2, its release would have only upset gamers. EA’s idea of a sequel to Generals was bound to be a free-to-play title with micro-transactions, so its failure to release avoided the series trouble of upsetting the fans, although the 4th instalment somewhat already did so. At present, there is no word of a possible Command & Conquer game, as the EA sits on top of this property, and no news regarding the state of the series have been released either. Maybe when EA finds the time right, we could yet see another title out of this franchise, and if adapted to an RTS, the Frostbite 3 engine would make visually impressive battlefields.
Crysis in many respects was one of the best first-person shooters, combining stealth and gunplay to create the game with many approaches. The first Crysis is still regarded as a PC-killer and won’t run well on anything modern, mostly due to lack of optimization. It was also one of the more innovative shooters of its time and offered a visually stellar island to explore in a semi-open world. Crysis 2 brought the series to consoles, and a strictly linear progression changed the freedom of the previous game to create a more Call of Duty-like experience. With that said, Crysis 2 absolutely nailed its pacing by blending stealth and explosive set-pieces, and by offering an engaging narrative and diverse enemies, the game is fun to replay even today. Finally, Crysis 3 built a blend of its two predecessors, although in the process offered a much shorter campaign. Its semi-open locations offered freedom and additional missions, while the game’s visuals looked stellar. It’s still fun to play these games and the series should definitely spawn a sequel at some point. Crytek haven’t been doing too well financially so we would never know if the series will ever get continued.
Medal of Honor
Before Warfighter did an awful job at bringing the series into the modern shooter genre, similar to the mediocre reboot of the series in 2010, Medal of Honor used to be an engaging series set in events of World War II. The games are far from polished by modern standards and it already seems like Battlefield is set on track to reinvent these moments of world history. There no longer seems to be an appeal in another Medal of Honor game, and it’s a shame, as originals featured excellent campaigns to match the gameplay, but the unsuccessful reboots might as well have buried the franchise. Medal of Honor could use a revival and best way to do it would be to return to its World War II roots.
Splinter Cell was an excellent stealth franchise that almost got ruined by lazy spin-offs and action-focused titles. Thankfully, Splinter Cell: Blacklist came along and fixed most of the errors, not only returning the series to its roots, but also offering the most polished experience with graphical standards to match. I immensely enjoyed Splinter Cell: Blacklist, which offers multiple ways to play a mission with a varied set of tools and weapons at players’ disposal. Along with that, there is a fun multiplayer mode to be busy with after completing the game’s campaign. Chaos Theory is considered by many to be the best for its open stealth gameplay, and the first three games overall offer a great experience. Not much has been heard since Blacklist’s release in 2013, and although it hasn’t been too long, the franchise is currently shelved in Ubisoft’s future release plans and no rumours have been known so far. Considering the level of polish that Blacklist received, however, a new title in the series would be certainly welcome.
Warfare on a massive scale has never been done better than in Supreme Commander, featuring massive units and diverse factions. The first title is widely considered to be one of the best strategy games of all time, although the series has been let down by the disappointment of the second title, which somewhat improved matters in its consecutive DLC. Supreme Commander was very impressive, allowing players to control large armies with some of the most interesting units I’ve seen in RTS. Among the factions, Cybrans offer badass units capable of not only dealing large amounts of damage, but also looking incredibly cool. Walking ships? Check. A Giant Dinosaur that expels flame? Check. A Huge Spider Bot wielding a massive laser? Also check. On top of that, Supreme Commander offered a complex research tree spread across all types of units, and an entire development is dedicated to the commander bot. Oh, you just had to make sure those didn’t die or it’s over. Square Enix currently holds the publishing rights to the series, however the company is focused on other projects and currently no consideration for a sequel is expressed.
Dune is another series I used to play a lot, which went silent a rather while ago. Dune 2000 was an immensely fun strategy game, and it’s sequel, Emperor: Battle for Dune added 3D graphics and more diversity into the franchise. The series features interesting lore based off the Dune series by Frank Herbert, although it never really managed to convey a decent plot. Each of the 3 factions largely played the same apart from special units, even looking exactly the same and only Emperor completely changed visuals for each. The improvements in that title were a great way for the franchise to keep moving forward, but with Emperor: Battle for Dune, the series came to an end. Westwood Studios, who developed the game, no longer exists, and the concept seems likely to be buried. Although many of its mechanics would no longer be considered viable on the field of modern RTS, Dune is a unique series that could use another well-polished title.
Oh, Half-Life. The internet has spawned a never-ending speculation about development of Half-Life 3, and Valve remains completely silent, continuously working on improving Steam as a distribution platform. Valve haven’t released anything for a while, although many fans desperately want to see a third entry in the Half-Life series. But so far, we’ve just been teased by possible talks of a sequel. The franchise captured gamers’ attention for featuring innovative gameplay and is still considered by many as a staple of the shooter genre. Half-Life 2 was especially groundbreaking at the time of its release, and managed to offer many hours of content to pair with an interesting world. Valve always release high quality games, and we’ve been waiting a long time for this to happen, so the series needs to make a comeback. Come on Valve, where are you keeping Half-Life 3?
Dead Space used to be a neat horror series with some survival elements, until EA decided to release an action game for its third title instead. Although the original Dead Space was in fact a better horror game, I prefer Dead Space 2 with its level of polish and an intense journey through the depths of the Titan station. The game blends survival moments with fast-paced action-sequences, such as when you’re falling towards the station from the sun relay, and creates a tense experience while offering a lot of entertainment. Dead Space 3, however, fell under the greed of EA, which at the time, considered it best to release an action game, to the appeal of this series. To offend fans further, Dead Space 3 also featured micro-transactions for its crafting system, something unheard of before in a single-player game, and inclusion of Co-op didn’t improve the matters. Dead Space 3 was a step away from the unique appeal of the series, which also sent Visceral Games tasked with different project. Possibly one day we’ll see another Dead Space game, it will likely make no sense to do a sequel, but its universe just waits to be explored.