Life is Strange 2 (Episode 1) review: Runaway success
A slow-paced piece of interactive fiction, LIS2 has no connection to the high-school melodrama of the original, focusing instead on two young runaway brothers fleeing a horrible killing.
A slow-paced piece of interactive fiction, LIS2 has no connection to the high-school melodrama of the original, focusing instead on two young runaway brothers fleeing a horrible killing.
WAR never changes, “they” say. Well, “they” haven’t paid attention to the rapid evolution of military shooters in recent years, not least since the explosive popularity of PUBG unleashed an...
Everybody wants something from you in Odyssey, the umpteenth in the AC series that edges ever further from its origins as an assassin simulator. Reminiscent of another great RPG, The Witcher...
"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!" Forza Horizon takes its inspiration from myriad sources but perhaps none more so than Doc Brown's line in Back to the Future.
Ikea meets Lego meets Minecraft. Excuse the hyperbole, but that’s the potential of Nintendo’s left-field Labo construction kit, which offers you a box of flat cardboard and challenges you to...
With tongue so firmly in cheek, it's practically sticking out, Strange Brigade parodies those 1930s adventure serials that spawned Spielberg classic Raiders of the Lost Ark. The members of the Strange Brigade - a band of gung-ho archaeologists-cum-secret agents - pull off a fine impression of Indiana Jones in this four-player co-op supernatural shooter that's also part puzzler and explorathon.
Death is an inconvenience in this rogue-like 2D prison-escape platformer that riffs on Metroidvania tropes and echoes the vertiginous challenge of Dark Souls. If you cark it before the end of a level in Dead Cells, it's back to the beginning (the very beginning in your cell) for you, with the landscape randomly rearranged and all your weapons stripped away.
Nintendo doesn't seem as if it does naughty. The squeaky-clean heroes of the Kyoto giant contrast with the wicked warriors and mean-spirited killing machines that dominate the rest of gaming.
You'd swear Sean Murray had deliberately run over a child or something. Such was the vitriol heaped on the Irish-Australian developer two years ago this week for his small team's long-anticipated No Man's Sky.
EA took a right kicking for its implementation of lootboxes in Star Wars: Battlefront II. Even politicians became involved in the row over the lack of transparency, the poor value and the cynical attitude of a mega-corporation exploiting a cherished franchise.
THE Last of Us was just about the most bleak game you’ve ever played. It took the post-apocalyptic nihilism of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and...
Hanging by a thread encapsulates the theme and gameplay of this sequel to the charming but slight indie platformer by Swedish studio Coldwood from 2016. Released on the same day it was...
A bundle of contradictions, Onrush is the racer where you don't race, and a revival of the arcade genre popularised by the audaciously fun Burnout.
REMEMBER the time Ireland beat Brazil 9-0? I do. David Meyler played an absolute stormer, marshalling the whole team. Neymar flounced...
THE consensus is that Xbox ‘won’ this year’s E3 game show in LA with a strong showing that delivered a broad slate of upcoming games, as well as the addition of five studios to its...
When you’ve triggered the apocalypse, who could blame you for becoming a little morose?
A seemingly deep game with hidden shallows, Donut County builds a short two-hour experience around one clever idea. Give the player a moveable hole that grows bigger as it swallows objects.
IN a little clearing in the woods, we enter a glass room and spy a perspex lift shaft disappearing into the earth. Pressing a button brings the elevator silently to the surface and we descend into the bowels of the building, to be greeted by white corridors stretching off into the distance as far as the eye can see.
The king of the swingers leaves behind some awkward questions. To what do Spider-Man’s webs magically attach to up high beyond the buildings so that he may swing through Manhattan like a modern-day Tarzan? Who cleans up all the webbing he slings at crooks? Is it biodegradeable?
Every year, it's a struggle to find a new analogy to illuminate the scrap between megabucks franchise FIFA and plucky underdog PES - prince vs pauper, Man City vs Leicester, etc.
We all know that feeling of waking up in a hotel room, not knowing where the hell we are, what we did last night, and why we're there. The Spectrum Retreat is just like that, only worse, in the most entertaining way.
Nine years is a long time in gaming. Genres come and go, technology rapidly changes, and what seemed cutting edge a decade ago stands little hope of holding out against the shiny baubles of 2018.
WHY can’t we all get along? In the quarrelsome world of videogames, it’s no wonder players’ instincts bend inexorably towards shooting first and asking questions later.
Mario never gives it to you straight. When the world's most famous plumber tries his hand at sport, he's forever throwing curveballs. From soccer to tennis, the rules go out the window in Nintendo's versions.
Meet the new Crew, same as the old Crew (but different). Yes, that doesn't make sense but then neither does this sequel, at least in its current form.
The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles had more than 3,000 products on show from hundreds of exhibitors across the vast halls of the LA Convention Centre and many more venues around the City of Angels. Here's what I found as the only Irish journalist to attend.
Can we all just calm down for a minute? Gamers: No one's trying to stigmatise you if you're a little obsessive about your pastime. Parents: Your children will not be sucked into a life of worthless oblivion if you let them play a little more 'Fortnite' today.
A dancing panda, a lesbian kiss, a "healing space" for the elderly with dementia and, of course, bone-crunching violence. The common thread linking them all is probably the last thing you'd guess: video games.
Designed seemingly by a demented draughtsman, the oppressive architecture of Dark Souls is what stands out most for me seven years after it was first released in 2011.
Androids, they're just like oppressed black communities, aren't they? The latest pseudo-social cinematic production from French auteur David Cage couldn't be any more transparent in its parallels if it tried.
IRELAND may still get to the FIFA World Cup after all if one Irish player has his way this week.
The jokes write themselves. Shambling zombies in shambles. Brain-dead survivors fight undead. Civilisation in disarray portrayed by chaotic game.
The journey from game console to touchscreen device is an arduous one. Many developers have come unstuck in trying to translate ideas best suited to a console controller.
DUBLIN footballer Ciaran Kilkenny and Tipperary hurler Jason Forde are the best players this year in their respective leagues, according to an analysis of performance data for the 2018 GAA season.
NINTENDO engineered a flop when building the Wii U console, the successor to the gazillion-selling Wii. The misstep cost Nintendo its lead in the market but also cast many worthy Wii U games into premature obscurity. Hence DKCTF's revival, the latest remake to pad out the Switch release schedule.
Parents already know the frustration of shelling out for an expensive toy only for their youngster to spend more time engaged with the simple box it came in. Nintendo cleverly draws on that experience in its new Labo toy kits that combine the functionality of a game console with the tactile task of building components from cardboard, string and rubber bands.
Worst. Dad. Ever. As candidates for father of the year go, perma-angry Spartan warrior Kratos is the most unlikely. He mistakenly slew his wife and daughter in the franchise's debut instalment in 2005. Now, as this lavish reboot from the same Santa Monica Studio opens, his second wife has passed away and he's left to raise their son Atreus alone.
Nine years in gestation, Owlboy made a low-key debut on PC in 2016 but this retro platformer about a hapless young owl battling sky pirates always deserved a bigger audience. Now ported to the leading consoles, the experience has been rendered unchanged, its pretty 2D aesthetic a throwback to the 16-bit era of pixelated visuals.
Not for the first time, we are urged to invest in a dislikeable lead, except this time on the double. Leo Caruso is quite the asshole, an arrogant thief who is newly jailed. His new pal, convicted murderer Vincent Moretti, rates as only marginally more agreeable.
Political and social satire is a rare beast in gaming. It's not that it doesn't exist - see controversial examples such as JFK Reloaded, The McDonald's Game or Super Columbine Massacre RPG. But at the big-budget level of Far Cry 5, few chances are taken.
The south of Spain is the most popular destination for Irish sunseekers, with Malaga Airport on the Costa de Sol handling the highest number of holidaymakers from this country over the last six years.
Kirby's adventures in 2D platforming have never been remotely demanding, focusing instead on a sugary confection of colour, wacky scenery and Mr K's signature ability to absorb enemies' powers.
It's easy to get lost in Sea of Thieves, in every sense of the words. This unpredictable pirate adventure revels in its physicality, eschewing many common game protocols to force players to think and act as if it's a real world.
The screech of tortured metal, the theatrical shower of sparks, the blinding sense of speed - nobody did car carnage better than the team at Criterion, an EA studio from which most original staff have now scattered to the four winds.
PlayStation has given birth to many icons, from Crash Bandicoot to Nathan Drake to Kratos, God of War. Moss deserves instant promotion to these hallowed ranks, purely on the basis of this short VR adventure.
UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick has the worst record for the number of patients on trolleys over the last five years, according to an analysis of data from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
John Steinbeck could never have imagined his novel The Grapes of Wrath becoming a video game. But that is effectively the heart of Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, a remarkable collection of vignettes set largely amid America's Great Depression.
So beautiful, and yet so dangerous. Subnautica's gorgeous underwater world resembles something out of David Attenborough's Planet Earth, but with added monsters.
It took me several games of EA's latest attempt at capturing the essence of MMA to realise that UFC is just a real-life version of Tekken or Street Fighter (without the fireballs, obviously). It comes with brutal moves, outrageous showboating, plus copious splatterings of blood and sweat.
IN A boardroom in the countryside outside Birmingham sits a weary Gregg Mayles, creative director at renowned studio Rare. With just a few weeks to go to the launch of arguably Rare’s most important ever game, Sea of Thieves, Mayles hunches over his laptop writing dialogue, fielding emails and greeting media visiting the offices set amid the rolling fields near Twycross.
Homer Simpson wouldn't like Celeste. This is the man who said to Bart and Lisa: "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try."
This is what clubbing a seal to death must feel like. Except you were duped into thinking the seal was an evil monster.
It would be easy to overlook this belated port of a 2014 PS4/PC chiller, but fans of intense mysteries should give it a whirl. It belongs to a genre unfairly dubbed "walking simulators" but there's much more to the Vanishing than ambling from place to place, drinking in the atmosphere.
This might just have as well been subtitled "fantastic beasts and where to find them", for it's the latest in Capcom's long-running Monster Hunter franchise. Nothing to do with JK Rowling and everything to do with communal expeditions to track and slay gargantuan animals.
The last horrorfest from the Supermassive studio was a masterful riff on teen slasher flicks. Until Dawn's mix of Hollywood royalty (Hayden Panettiere and Rami Malek) and knowing twists on genre conventions won it a Bafta for Best Original Property.
Farmers account for the third highest number of tax defaulters, according to an analysis of figures from the Revenue Commissioners.
Curiosity killed the cat, but in Gorogoa it gets you places. This remarkable one-man project took more than six years of painstaking experimentation and reworking before its emergence as a delightfully realised puzzle.
Donegal has the highest rate of tax defaulters in Ireland over the past five years, according to an analysis of figures from the Revenue Commissioners.
It's the silence that gets you in Battlegrounds. In rival shooters, the air crackles and fizzes with the din of furious gunfire. But much of your time in PUBG (as aficionados dub it) is spent fearfully creeping around abandoned buildings scavenging weaponry while listening intently for a sound, any sound.
Our gaming expert looks forward to new game releases in 2018.
The first thing that strikes you about Cuphead is its gorgeous and distinctive 1930s-style artwork. The second thing is its utter mercilessness. Consisting largely of a series of one-screen boss fights, Cuphead laughs in your face at your best efforts.
You probably shouldn’t laugh but the inevitable reaction to some of the more pretentious dialogue in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a guffaw. Not because it’s inherently funny but because there’s something ludicrous about grandiose statements dripping from the mouths of anime characters in British regional accents.
THE Fast and the Furious has much to answer for. The Vin Diesel vehicle, now in its umpteenth incarnation, has its share of lazy characterisation and improbable plotting but at least can always fall back on outrageous stunts to prop up viewer interest.
PLAYSTATION is mighty keen to push its PlayLink tie-up with smartphones, allowing multiple players to feed into an interactive PS4 experience with their mobiles as controllers. It’s a great idea in theory but the execution leaves a little to be desired.
From Hawaii to Australia to Belgium, the debate rages. Across the world, regulatory authorities are talking about Battlefront 2. Not about whether it’s any good but whether its controversial loot boxes constitute gambling.
THERE’S no future in the future. The Call of Duty juggernaut has finally tired of its sci-fi leanings and pulled back from the faintly ridiculous laser-shooting, rocket-jumping cul-de-sac the franchise had wandered down.
THE stuffy blazers of the Royal and Ancient would have a fit. Golf’s overseers would hardly approve of the outrageous outfits, incessant chatter and impatient simultaneous play of this long-running series. But that’s a core part of the joy of this PlayStation stalwart, which as the title suggests brings “a good walk spoiled” to the masses.
THE 2014 Wolfenstein reboot arrived as a startling scrambling of the old order. Wolfenstein 3D invented the simplistic first-person shooter in 1992, paving the way for Halo, Call of Duty, Destiny, etc. But its 2014 descendant deftly rewrote the playbook, turning gung-ho hero BJ Blazkowicz into a sympathetic, troubled character – albeit one who still gunned down Nazis (and Nazi zombies) –...
YOU’RE looking at the second fruit of Nintendo’s eye-opening decision to lend its iconic franchises to the Dynasty Warriors template, a fairly mindless hack’n’slash that never really gained popularity outside of Japan. But last year’s Hyrule Warriors obviously did some business on these shores or this crossover with Fire Emblem would never exist.
SLAYING orcs by the hundred never costs a thought. As cannon fodder goes in videogames, these nasty, filthy creatures with their slobbering jaws and twisted faces practically invite a sword to the gut.
A MATE of mine religiously spends at least €600 a year upgrading the graphics card on his PC. Every second year, he shells out even more to replace his processor, motherboard, memory … the list goes on. The wallet pain just about keeps him abreast of PC requirements for the latest games.
From one extreme to another in four years. Gran Turismo 6 shipped in 2013 with 1,200 cars and almost 90 track layouts but its successor (which we shouldn't call GT7 but could anyway) manages just one-tenth of the vehicles and half the tracks.
Hats off to Nintendo but it’s done it again. As if the latest Legend of Zelda wasn’t reason enough alone to own a Switch console, Super Mario Odyssey effortlessly confirms the theory that no one can conjure gaming magic like Nintendo can.
Cuphead ships with two difficulty levels: "impossible" and "harder than impossible". Or so it seems when you dive into this delightful side-scrolling 2D shooter.
You would think the scenery in a driving game to be no more than background, a placeholder in a world where you're focused relentlessly on that narrow strip of tarmac in front of you. But lap after lap in Forza 7 something new always caught my eye.
Press a button, wait half a second, watch player on-screen eventually respond. FIFA 18 has tinkered with many aspects of its football this year but tackling lag was high on the list.
Nintendo should know better. After drastically under-estimating the demand for its nostalgic revival of its NES console last year, the Japanese have repeated the cardinal error again with the SNES Classic Mini. The shelves are bare of stock in even Nintendo's own store, mirroring the drought in other retailers.
FINNISH studio Housemarque has been responsible for some mind-blowingly good resurrections of arcade classics – its collaboration with the god-like Eugene Jarvis (of Defender/Robotron fame) produced the rather excellent Nex Machina last month.
Perhaps you're as bored of reading reviews of annually updated football games as I am of writing them. Almost two decades at the job has made me cynical, of course, but there simply is no need for the yearly cycle in which developers struggle to differentiate the newest offering from the last.
Divisive doesn't come close to capturing Destiny. It earned millions of fans on release in 2014 for its unbelievably fun shooting gallery. But Bungie's bestseller almost immediately lost at least half its audience when players quickly hit the level cap and the endgame degenerated into a mindless, repetitive slog.
ALBERT PENELLO doesn’t want to sell you a console. He wants to sell you a philosophy.
Beloved Sega mascot Sonic has somehow survived 25 years of mistreatment at the hands of his owners. Mania restores the blue blur to his sharpest form by ignoring the decades of rehashing and accretions that acted as a drag on his signature speed.
App stores are littered with cash grabs: greedy psychological manipulators masquerading as free entertainment. The best free-to-play games (Hearthstone, etc) pull in millions of dollars a day in revenue without picking your pocket.
Nintendo is famously protective of its crown jewels, yet here it permits another publisher to splice, dice, mock and generally take liberties with iconic characters such as Mario and Luigi.
If any other studio had produced Lost Legacy, we would bow down before its brilliance and hail a stupendous talent. But Uncharted developer Naughty Dog sets such a high bar for itself that any falter is magnified.
A game that's all story and no action - that's a movie, right? But Tacoma shucks off the narrative constraints of a linear film script to provide an experience only the gaming medium can deliver.
The age of the point'n'click adventure may seem a distant memory but no one told Galway-based collective Spooky Doorway. They channel their love of classics such as Secret of Monkey Island into a pun-filled, droll series of six short yarns that might be loosely classed as paranormal mysteries.
Gravity? We don't need no stinkin' gravity! Lawbreakers takes the free-floating ideas of Titanfall and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to their logical conclusion. It builds an entire game around the concept of high-altitude, high-speed frag-fests where you spend more time pirouetting through the air in low-to-zero gravity than you do scampering along the ground.
The Apple mothership springs more leaks than the Trump White House these days. It can't be easy keeping secrets about the next iPhone in a giant organisation with massive factories spread across the globe.
Professor Layton is the oddest canary in the coal mine. But the release on mobile first of the newest in the long-running Nintendo puzzle series surely sounds the death knell for the 3DS console, for so long its natural home.
He's the most famous Kildare man you've never heard of. He's the pioneer of an entire gaming genre that has caught the public's imagination. Few people have seen his face and yet the rapid success of his newest but unfinished creation has made him a rock star of the entertainment industry. And, most of all, he is the $200m man.
Everything old is new again. The generations who grew up during the golden era of gaming still have a grá for the glory days. Even as modern consoles and PCs approach photo-realistic graphics, the pull of nostalgia for relatively simple games with comparatively crude visuals gets even stronger.
Steal everything is the refreshingly direct instruction in Antihero, a warped version of Oliver Twist translated to a video game. But this is no lachrymose Dickensian tale of morality, instead it shoots for a droll view of gangs of thieves battling for the heart (and money) of Victorian London.
Have you heard the one about the doctor, the translator and the musician who became detectives?
Nintendo artfully subverted the shooter genre with the original Splatoon in 2015. By ignoring the intimidating conventions of the likes of Call of Duty, the Japanese funsters conjured a delicious confection of riotous colour and frenetic action with paint guns substituting for real weapons.
He just doesn't get it. Like legions of politicians before him, Charlie Flanagan has fallen into the trap of advocating an impossible solution to an intractable problem.
The app-ocalypse is coming and almost no one knows it. Apologies for the dreadful pun but, in about six to eight weeks' time, hundreds of thousands of older apps for iPhone and iPad will cease to work when Apple updates its iOS software to version 11.
A year ago, the world swooned in a frenzy over Pokémon Go. Sensible people who wouldn't know a Bulbasaur from a Jigglypuff swarmed on to the mobile craze, before quitting almost as quickly.
Call it the console with the identity crisis. Nintendo's 3DS handheld series has veered all over the map in its six years of existence.
Fighting games act as the ultimate test of reactions - granting you what seems like just milliseconds to counter an incoming fist from an agile opponent. But Arms measures its responses in whole seconds, which will be a revelation to anyone intimidated by the over-competitive fighting scene.
Memory is a slippery customer. Can't be trusted, can't be verified, can't be objective. Get Even is hardly the first game to explore this inconsistency. But while it employs the usual trope of the amnesiac protagonist, this psychological thriller layers it among a stack of disparate ideas that strive to be more than the sum of its parts.
More than 2,000 products were on show at the annual E3 videogames conference in LA last week - here's the pick from 13 acres of playable goodness at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The Star Trek holodeck represents the ultimate in virtual reality: an immersive space where anything is possible. Bridge Crew doesn't even come close and doesn't even try. But as a VR experience, it offers a fair approximation of what it might be like to crew a starship like the USS Enterprise.
IF Sony feels uneasy at Microsoft’s unveiling of the Xbox One X, it has no intention of letting on.
EXCLUSIVE, exclusive, exclusive! The booming word rang out dramatically around the Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles 22 times last Sunday as Microsoft unleashed its slate of forthcoming Xbox games at its E3 press conference.
Even if you don't know the name Escher, you'll be familiar with the Dutch artist's "impossible architecture", in which figures walk endlessly on staircases that play tricks with perspective.
Barnum & Bailey used to boast of putting on the Greatest Show on Earth. But the world's best-known circus can't hold a candle to the riotous videogames extravaganza known as E3 that holds court every June in downtown Los Angeles.
Arriving so soon after the superbly entertaining fighter Injustice 2, veteran franchise Tekken risks an unflattering comparison.
The video-game wars burst into flames again last night as Microsoft took the wraps off its latest Xbox console aimed at taking back the lead from rival Sony.
Ronaldo is everywhere in FIFA 18. As befits the status of the best player in the world, the 32-year-old Portuguese graces the cover of the next instalment of EA's cash-cow blockbuster - for the first time ever strangely enough.
“THEY’RE trying to crush us. They’re handing out €50,000 cheques. They’re confusing the market with faux brands. The publicans are using us as leverage. We’re caught in the crossfire.”
You are an accidental assassin. No surprises there. Many games make a killer of you - too many, if we're being honest. But Tokyo 42 manages to be different with its decidedly retro aesthetic pinned to a nostalgic fusion of genres.
Two classic properties merge for a modern audience - the ball-vs-bricks style of Arkanoid mashed to the marching aliens of Space Invaders. Early impressions won't sit well with nostalgic fans of either, each level lasting 20 seconds or less, with death an impossibility.
Reawaken your inner child. Revisit your toddler years. Unwind into a relaxing play space. If nothing else, Gnog pushes gaming's competitive drive into the background and encourages hours of tinkering, messing and pottering about. We need more of that.
The factory churning out endless Lego spin-offs has finally either run out of ideas or taken an extended holiday. Lego City Undercover may be no more than a remaster of a four-year-old instalment, but it shows how much fun was built into the concepts of the long-running series.