Peter Whitehead

  • ThumbnailUK Retailer ShopTo has listed the JRPG on their website for a release date of March 27th.

    There has been no official release date for the game from ATLUS for Japan or North America, though the teaser trailer back […]

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    Rule number one of any game should always be to make sure you know what your lead character is called. Unfortunately it’s a rule that Spiders Studios seems to have forgotten as within two hours of Bound by Flame the subtitles have referred to you as ‘Volcan’ more than once, instead of the actual name ‘Vulcan’. It’s such a small issue and yet it’s indicative of the game as a whole.

    The way the game plays is that of your ordinary action-RPG mixing in combat with character choices but everything seems to be a watered down version. The combat is solid but unspectacular, the characters feel hollow and the world feels limited. That’s not to say that none of them work well, just that they feel lacklustre. The story is non-sense, frankly, but you play as Vulcan, a mercenary who is possessed by a demon. You then get to choose how much of the demon to unleash, with new powers either way. All of this is to stop the Ice Lords, powerful conjurers who have raised an undead army. It’s not particularly original but it’s nothing particularly bad either.

    The art style is a little reminiscent of Borderlands with the almost cel-shaded look to the backgrounds. This works fine as you wander round the world but jars slightly with the more realistic character models that come into play any time you start a conversation. It’s almost as if they couldn’t decide on one art style to go with and so used both, the result being that the characters don’t look quite as good as you’d expect on next gen and the worlds seem like a 1940’s Hollywood backdrop just slotted in and likely to fall over at any moment. It also falls into the same problem that Borderlands did in that the colour palette consists almost solely of grey, brown and white.

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    This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if everything else stacked up. As mentioned above, the combat does work well. You can switch between warrior, ranger and pyromancer abilities at the touch of a button and each have their advantages. There’s a real lack of range to each as well meaning that almost all battles play out the same way, especially as every enemy has a set attack pattern that takes about 10 seconds to work out. The enemies can take a lot of hits and damage you easily, and you can almost see it working as a tactical battle if they weren’t so rigid. In the end it feels like less of a tactical action game and more like the slowest hack ‘n’ slash you’ll ever play.

    Add in to these woes the woefully archaic boss battles and it makes for a rather weak fighter. Almost every boss can be beaten by running around in circles and firing off a few fireballs, but given the low damage/hit points ratio you’re able to deal each one will take at least ten minutes and end up feeling like a chore. Even worse is that fact that two of the major bosses (and several enemies in the game) will get as bored of these battles as you and literally just stop. It should feel like a tense battle of wits but instead you find the boss walking over to the corner and standing there sulking, not even responding to your attacks.

    All of this could be at least partially forgiven if the characters were engaging but once again they feel empty. You can take companions with you on your explorations, but only one at a time. There’s little chance to get to know them and no way for them to level up so you never know quite how well they’ll do in battle. As a general rule, they won’t help apart from as bait, and even then they sometimes just hang around and do nothing as they’re attacked. You can even enter a romance with them, though the romance is limited to one line of dialogue, a trophy and….nothing else.

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    The real shame here is that there are some promising elements to the game. The ability to create items on the fly is a nice addition, with traps and crossbow bolts coming in very handy when facing crowds of enemies. This customisation also extends to the weapons and armour with each being able to add extra features like resistance or greater attack power. Again it’s nothing unique but it works well and is one of the best parts of the game. Similarly the score is actually very well done and some of the best moments are hearing the ambient music in some of the larger battles.

    Overall then Bound by Flames is a mixed bag. It feels like it’s trying to be two games at once, catering to two different kinds of people and ends up being not very good at either. It won’t win over the Dragon Age die-hards, even if they do have to wait longer for an RPG, and it’s unlikely to impress action fans either. Ultimately it’s a missed opportunity and if Spiders Studio had managed to be a bit tighter on some of the gameplay, and had got the name of their character right, it could have ended up being a good little game. Unfortunately it’s just too disjointed and loose. Rather than enjoying it for what it is, it left us feeling rather cold.

    Final Score: 1.5 out of 5

  • Mass-Effect-3

    Mass Effect 4 is due to be released in Spring 2015, according to B-Ten.

    They report that they have been in contact with a member of the team in Bioware who stated that “if I was you, I’d get to playing the Mass Effect trilogy before next spring…” Though Bioware and EA have yet to confirm any release date for the new Mass Effect they have teased us with pictures from it’s development on Twitter in the past.

    Something else that may add possible credance to this theory is the Tweets of @shinobi602 last week who said “I’m being told some things that are putting a grin from ear to ear right now.” When asked for further information, he tweeted a picture of a galaxy, which would seem to link to Mass Effect.

    @sdcowboy85 http://t.co/ReqebgF2wt

    — shinobi602 (@shinobi602) April 21, 2014

    With Bioware due to release Dragon Age: Inquisition on October 7th, that would leave plenty of time between releases of their two major franchises. Whether this date is true remains to be confirmed, but it may be worth keeping an eye on E3 this year just in case.

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    They say that in space no-one can here you scream. After going hand’s on with Creative Assembly’s latest project we’re inclined to disgaree. The Xenomorph will hear you, it hears everything. Before you have […]

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    Ever had the experience of meeting an old friend after 10 years? The uncertainty of what may have changed, whether you still have anything in common, the joy of realising that everything is still as it was. […]

  • ThumbnailIt’s Monday again, which means that it’s time to start work for the week. Before you get too down about all the meetings you’ll have to stay awake through and your boss’ ‘motivational’ speeches just think, it […]

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    Konami have released a new batch of screenshots from the forthcoming Castlevania: Lord of Shadows 2 focusing on Dracula’s role in the game.

    In a press release Konami said ,”Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 […]

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    Konami have announced that Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 will be coming to next gen, at least on PS4.

    In response to a fan question about PES 2014 being playable on PS4, the official PES twitter account […]

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    The fact that one of the best looking launch games on PS4 is a port of a PC game from 2011 should come as something of a shock. Trine 2 has always looked handsome but now that it’s running in 1080p at 60 […]

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    Despite all the troubles that have been surrounding the Wii U Nintendo have been pro-active in the games that they are promoting via their eShop. Today the’ve annpunced that latest games that will be joining […]

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    The server problems that have beset the launch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn were down to Square Enix having “conservative estimates” as to how many people would actually buy the game, game director […]

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    David Cage, the founder of Quantic Dream, has revealed that Microsoft turned down the opportunity to publish Heavy Rain because they were worried about the theme of child kidnapping, according to <a […]

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    Microsoft have announced a new version of the Xbox One Day One Edition that will include Forza 5 for free.

    This follows on from the previous announcement that only Day One pre-orders would receive FIFA […]

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    UK retailer GAME has announced the trade-in details to upgrade current-gen to next-gen versions of games.

    Customers who trade in their PS3 or Xbox 360 versions of Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts or FIFA […]

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    This year’s Eurogamer Expo has sold all 70,000 tickets for the show according to the organisers.

    After the demand for tickets last year, organisers increased the capacity for this year by 40% but it seems […]

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    Good news TimeSplitters fans! TimeSplitters Rewind is currently being developed on PlayStation 4, according to CinemaBlend.

    The news was announced back in April that the collection of weapons, maps and […]

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    A new version of the Halo trailer from E3 looks like it has revealed the title of the next-generation game as Halo 5.

    The company responsible for the original reveal trailer, Axis Animation, released a the […]

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    Whore of the Orient, the new game from the team who created LA Noire, has been labelled as a ‘disgrace to Chinese culture’, according to Australian website The Age.

    28 year old Jieh-Yung Lo, who is a […]

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