Let’s take a peek at … – DiRT Rally

DiRT Rally is the latest entry into the Colin McRae Rally series from CodeMasters. Currently in Early Access on Steam, we managed to get our hands on a copy and I’ve sunk a fair few hours into the title. I’d like to point out that I have no real experience with rally games. I own WRC for the Play Station 2, so that’s the extent of my rally gaming career! Also, because I’m a filthy casual and only own a wheel for my Xbox, so I played with a game controller.

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Since I’m a newbie to Rally games I was expecting a steep learning curve. What events are what? How do I enter them? etc., but the game has a very clean and self-intuitive interface that immediately dismissed those woes. As you boot the game for the first time there is a great tutorial that introduces you to all the features it has to offer, and gets you up to speed and ready to race in no-time.

In career mode there are currently 2 championships available: the Rally championship, and the Pikes Peak USA hill climb that was recently added. The hill climb challenge was added mid-review, so I unfortunately don’t have enough credits to try it out! You need 175,000 credits minimum to purchase the right car, and I don’t see me getting that any time soon!

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The rally championship consists of 5 tears: Open, Clubman, Professional, Elite and Master. At the end of each championship your points will dictate whether you are promoted, relegated or just stay the same tier.

Each championship then consists of multiple events, each of which has multiple races. I’m just approaching the end of my first championship which consisted of 3 events, each with 4 races. That’s the crux of the game, complete a number of races to complete an event, complete enough events to complete the championship.

Online play includes Daily stages, Weekly stages and Monthly stages that allow you to compete against others for the best times to earn credits. In the daily stage you get provided a car, but in the weekly and monthly event, you’ll be using the car from your garage. So get racing and earning credits so you can perform on the online stage.

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The first car you have access to is from the 1960s. As you play and earn more credits, you have the option to buy cars from later decades, all the way up to the 2010s. Including the hill climb cars, there’re 20 in total to unlock. That’s plenty to go at, and since the game is still in early access there’s almost certainly more to come!

You are only part of the equation in DiRT Rally. Alongside yourself, you have a crew of up to 5 engineers that will travel with you throughout your career. You start with 2 slots, and the others are unlocked as you wrack up miles in the stages.

Each engineer has 10 skills, with each being more apt at some that others, so it’s important to pick the right engineer for your team so these are as balanced as possible. No use have 5 engine specialists on your team when no-one can change a wheel! Each engineer also has a contract length and cost, so that has to be taken into consideration also. If you hire a top-notch bunch of engineers, then can’t afford to renew their contract they will be gone.

From what I’ve played so far, I don’t know how much the makeup of your engineering team actually effects gameplay. For a casual player such as myself, content with finishing 5th and not blowing up in the process, I imagine the makeup of my team will bear little effect on my results; it hasn’t so far. For serious players however, I imagine striking the right team balance will help a lot. It’s a fun feature, which gives more control and connection to the team.

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Racing feels great. With no mini-map, it’s vital that you listen to your engineer describing the upcoming roads. “Left 6” and “right 4” will be phrases that you’ll hear a lot. If you stop paying attention, and miss the upcoming warning if a hairpin, things are about to get real bad.

The car is a constant fight. You’re always riding a fine line of being in control of the car and sliding towards a tree or cliff … or at least I was. The controls are tight enough so that you can stay just on the right side of that line so long as you give the car your upmost attention. Again, I used a game controller for this, so my comments should be disregarded for wheel users and that’s usually a different ball game.

If you get the guts to up your speed, and start using your handbrake, there’s lots of fun to be had, and crazy high-speed turns to nail. The faster you go however, the more punishment awaits should you screw up. I was 86% through a nice ice stage, went over the edge and received terminal damage. I DNF’d the race and overall lost 800 credits that race. Bad luck, next race awaits … NO. Terminal car damage brings a swift end to your entire championship. So, so punishing.

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The cars are detailed nicely, as are the environments. Some of the scenery as you fly past a rock face is spectacular. Also it runs great. I’m sitting on 4 hours play time and haven’t run into a single issue.

One thing I did feel with DiRT was a bit restricted. There are no side-objectives: ‘Complete X track in X time’ etc. time-trials, challenges, it’s just straight-up no-nonsense racing. Now that’s not a bad thing, the game is true and absolute racing sim, but those looking for more than that won’t find it.

Tl:dr – DiRT RALLY is an out and out rally sim. With a pure focus on racing alone, and no gimmicky additions, it offers a great rally sim experience; those looking for more won’t find it. It looks great, runs great, and feels great.

Rating – 9/10

Purchase – Steam £24.99 £18.74 (25% off for Steam Summer Sale, Ends 22 June)

Trailer –

Let’s talk about … – Fallout 4 Official Trailer Released

The first footage of Fallout 4 is here!

How awesome does that look! Obviously details are thin on the ground right now, and video doesn’t give much away in terms of story, but the hype is building for Fallout 4! And a dog companion to accompany you on your post-apocalyptic travels is amazing. Hopefully that’s a sign of more new things to come from Fallout 4.

Bethesda will be showing a word premier of the game at their E3 Showcase on Sunday, June 14th at 7:00pm PT, so make sure you don’t miss that!

Let’s take a peek at … – Courier of the Crypts

It’s your first day of work. You’re excited to start your new job as a courier, spending time delivering packages to their recipients. What will your first delivery be? The butcher? The blacksmith? Or maybe to a perilous crypt full of dark magic, angry spiders, hidden treasure, and difficult puzzles!

You might need to ask your boss for a raise when you return … IF you do.

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Guided only by your magic torch, your goal is make your way through the dark hallways and eerily-lit rooms of the crypt. With maps offering little in the way of hints and help, it’s up to you to explore the environment and work out what puzzles need to be solved in order for you to progress. For example, keys are hidden around the map, and once you’ve found a key, you then have to find the lock it belongs to! Buttons on the floor need to be held down, but with what?! 

Through exploration and solving the puzzles you find along the way, you progress through the crypt, working your way towards to the guardian. There are also multiple items such as ammunition, money, and hidden treasure to be found, so you need to be thorough in your searching.

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The main mechanic in Courier of the Crypt is the magic torch that accompanies you throughout your travels. It has limited power however, so you need to manage it carefully by deciding when to turn it on and off and by looking for fuel to bring it back to full power. If you run out of light, the darkness takes over, opening the door for evil spirits to come and kill you, forcing you to start the puzzles over from the beginning. Don’t let it run out!

You can also die from being hit a mere three times. Life can be picked up around the map, but it’s not a common find, so be extremely careful, especially around those spiders. Luckily, your trusty torch can scare some of them away, and if they get too close, the rocks you can find in the map make for good ammunition.

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Starting life as a Ludum Dare entry, Courier of the Crypts has come a long way. This early access 2D puzzle game by Emberheart Games features beautifully dark, retro-style pixelated maps, full controller support, and great ambient music. It’s not easy, that’s for sure, especially with extremely limited hints. I spent a long time even just on the first map, dying over and over again, learning more on each attempt. Once I DID figure out the puzzle, I was still killed by spiders before I could get out.

If you have a short attention span or are easily frustrated, this game will make you want to pull your hair out. However, finally figuring out the puzzle is so rewarding that you just have to try the next one … over and over and over.

*At the time of this review the game is in Early Access.*

Tl; dr –  Manage your magic torch and avoid traps and evil enemies while you make your way through an ominous crypt in this smart, challenging, retro-style puzzle game.

Rating – 7.5/10

Purchase – Steam £8.99 (or your regional equivalent)

Trailer – 

Let’s talk about … – Dirty Bomb enters open beta June 2nd

If you’ve not heard of Dirty Bomb yet let me introduce you. Dirty Bomb is a free-to-play team-based shooter from Splash Damage, the team that brought us the likes of Brink and more recently Batman: Arkham Origins. It’s been in closed beta for a while, and starting June 2nd it transitions to open beta so everyone can now get in on the action.

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The action-packed objective-based FPS sees you controlling a mercenary, fighting in a whole range of battles in the post-apocalyptic city of London. With the moto “What’s a little radiation sickness when there’s money to be made?” the player fights through a variety of environments to complete objectives and gain experience and credits. These credits can be used to purchase “Cases” containing a random class load out with the potential reward rarity ranging from lead to gold.

Combat is fast is relentless; if you turn it down a notch you’ll have your ass handed to you before you know what’s hit you. With the focus on team objectives, you can’t hold off. You’re either on the front lines, fighting toe-to-toe with your team and the enemy, or you’re going to lose. Simple as that. We’ve had lots of fun with the title so far, and are pretty confident you will too if you’re a fan of the genre.

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Although still in Beta the polish of Dirt Bomb is awesome. When you first load the game there is a very well presented, and funny, introduction to game, followed by an optional tutorial. Once complete, or skipped, you’re ready to jump into the multiple game-modes and maps that are included in the beta. If you’re a fan of shooters, especially objective based ones, Dirty Bomb should be at the top of your ‘To Play’ list. When the game launches into full open beta next week we’ll be back with a full review, but for now we’ll leave you with a video the takes a close look at the title. Make sure to check the Steam page from June 2nd to get in on the open beta.

Let’s take a look at … – Luminesca

Luminesca is a chilled-out underwater exploration game which follows the story of a little creature called Lum. Using the light from your esca, you can explore the dark watery depths, uncover ancient

machinery, and play with a whole ecosystem of strange creatures. Luminesca is a simple game which intends to create a rich, atmospheric experience.

Luminesca was developed primarily by Matt Glanville; and is currently developing chapter two of the Luminesca story after the success and welcome of Luminesca’s first chapter.

I had the chance to meet Matt at Rezzed this year and I was able to try out the alpha of the chapters and I found the game to be highly interesting and immersive. The art style is new and exciting. As your character reveals the map to the player by emitting a glow.

I also enjoyed the feeling of there being no direct story to initially follow, and the game lends itself to your imagination and persistence to explore the game world and uncover the hidden sections, which hold characters and events.

As I walked around Rezzed I noticed Luminesca was constantly busy with large amounts of gamer enthusiasm and I had to literally fight my way to a seat. When I asked Matt about this he commented saying he was very happy with the reception his title had received and was welcoming the constructive comments with open arms.

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Stay up to date with the developments of Luminesca by following Matt on Twitter @Luminesca , and keep up to date wih the development via the site www.luminesca.com.

Preview By Luke

 

A Preview of: Beatbuddy Tale of The Guardians

Reverb Publishing and German indie developer THREAKS are happy to announce today the availability of the free Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians demo on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux players.

The playable demo is set to Parov Stelar’s “Beatbuddy Swing” and includes a broad swath of the first level where the mystical Beatbuddy first learns to how to navigate his underwater, musical world to open paths as he learns the “rhythm of game” to solve puzzles on his journey.

With a storyline refined and polished by award-winning writer Rhianna Pratchett, Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians follows the story of an ethereal, blue creature – Beatbuddy – who is awoken from his eternal slumber in order to save the world from Prince Maestro who will take musical freedom from the citizens of Symphonia. Each level has stunning 2D hand-drawn backgrounds and engaging puzzles, with an adventure harmonized to the rhythm of music composed by Austin Wintory, Parov Stelar and other amazing artists.  Winner of ‘Best Art’ and ‘Best Sound’ in Intel’s 2012 Level Up Game Demo Contest.

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Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is now available for $14.99, and he playable demo is now available on the Beatbuddy Steam page HERE

To stay updated on the latest game announcements, check out Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians’ Facebook page, the THREAKS News show, and follow the development team @BeatbuddyGame.

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