Friday, 29 April 2016

Lichdom: Battlemage

Lichdom: Battlemage is a mix-up of a few different aspects from a few genres coupled with beautiful visuals and effects to create a compelling experience. While things never change all that much, the core gameplay is so enjoyable that it pushes you through when things may get a little repetitive.

Out on May 6th for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and developed by Xaviant, Lichdom: Battlemage feels like something that came from a team of people who played and enjoyed The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and thought that while the game was good, the combat sucked. They took the magical aspect of it and made it impactful and thoroughly enjoyable. The structure of Lichdom: Battlemage is rather straight forward.  You play as a spell caster and the beginning allows you to choose female or male. Whoever you choose, the other character will be abducted be Shax and you must fight to get him/her back. It's a standard story, nothing extraordinary and is just a foundation for the gameplay that the game focuses on.

It's a spell-casting game that brings the best elements from spell-casting games like The Elder Scrolls series. The catch here though is that there is no resource pool so you can throw fireballs to your heart's content. It all feels pretty cool and each landing attack feels impactful as particles fly around the screen in a symphony of elements.

The game focuses on making spells with the loot that you pick up along the way to tailor-make attacks and defences that will bring you the best results in battle. Throughout the game you move from area to area taking out waves of different types of enemies. Some enemies drop loot while other parts of the environment will give you rewards upon attacking them. The longer you survive the higher chance you will have of receiving better stats and passives for your spells.

The way in which you learn and create new spells is both deep and easy to understand. You can quite easily mix things up or even switch out entire sets to allow you to mix things up pretty quickly. Honestly it never felt cumbersome or complicated and I'm a person that has little patience for bad UI and user experience decisions. Visually. It is a rather nice game, using some incredible effects on CryEngine. Couple the colourful particle effects with great lighting, Lichdom: Battlemage can definitely be attention grabbing at times. It's a treat going to a new area, seeing the stunning visuals, and causing mayhem all over again.

I have to be honest here though. There is one elephant in the room that I haven't mentioned yet. I put this at the end simply because it might not be an issue by the time you get your hands on it but the frame rate as it currently stands is pretty horrendous in places. Like, it's around 15 fps bad. Patches are promised so that may finally reach to 30 by the time the game officially launches but it's definitely worth mentioning here. Lichdom: Battlemage is a fun action spell-casting game that has a cool customisation system in terms of creating spells. The one downside I must say the game has other than the frame rate is that it can become pretty repetitive. Still, despite all of this, it's a worthwhile romp so long as the technical problems are fixed.

A little bit of magic mixed with a slow spell. 3/5.


Jason Redmond

Lichdom: Battlemage at CeX

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Ratchet and Clank

Ratchet and Clank is the game based on the movie that’s based on the 2003 PlayStation 2 video game. While it may bring back nightmares of the Street Fighter The Movie game, Ratchet and Clank on PlayStation 4 is honestly one of the most pleasant and enjoyable games I’ve played in a long time. 

Out now for PlayStation 4, developer Insomniac Games have proven once again that they can create beautiful looking worlds. This comes at a cost of the frame rate being halved to 30 but honestly it doesn’t matter because Ratchet and Clank is visually mesmerising. If you played through the original on PlayStation 2 or even the HD remaster that followed later, there’s no need to worry if you’ll get any enjoyment out of this game – you definitely will. There are enough enhancements as well as inclusions from other games in the series and new content to make this game very much feel like something new. This isn’t a simple copy and paste of the original.

If this game proves anything it’s that there is plenty of life in the 3D platformer genre. I dabbled in Ratchet and Clank in the past so while I’m familiar with the structure and feel of the games, I’m not a diehard fan possibly wearing rose-tinted glasses. I state the previous sentence simply because of this: The new Ratchet and Clank is one of the most fun experiences I may have ever had with a video game in my 20+ years of playing.

There’s no melodrama or dull moments. From the second you start the game, it’s just a joy to play. The controls feel excellent, the visuals are memorable, but it’s how everything compliments each other that keeps it always fantastic. You spend a vast majority of the game moving from planet to planet taking out the bad guys and saving the inhabitants. Each new planet feels distinctive and is a genuine treat to explore. Some of the locations from the original game are laid out slightly different or will have a slightly different theme that makes it both stand out and feel new to returning players.

Some enhancements from later games in the series are present in this remake. First off, all the weapons you use can be levelled up as well as your characters itself. It creates a much deeper and replayable nature to just playing through the game. You can also find special items in the world that is used to level up those weapons using something similar to the Sphere Grid seen in older Final Fantasy titles. If you know the developer Insomniac Games then you’ll know just how good they are at creating fun and unique weapons. Ratchet and Clank is a high point for them as some of the funniest and most entertaining weapons are present. The weapons on show here are like a “greatest hits” collection and even include a new weapon or two. Each weapon feels different and is great to use in combat.

When I played the original Ratchet and Clank back in the day I thought it was fun. Jumping back into the series 14 years later prove that not only is the genre alive and well but developers Insomniac Games are still at their very best. I can only hope that this is the start of the revitalisation of the 3D Action Platformer.

Playing this game is the embodiment of fun. 5/5.


 Jason Redmond

Ratchet and Clank at CeX

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