PES 2018: Too Little, Too Late… But I Kinda Can’t Wait

Since the tail end of the Xbox 360 / PS3 era, I’ve been exclusively a PC gamer for the most part. I don’t think I’ve turned on a console for a few months because PC gaming is so much more convenient and cheaper, once you’ve gotten over the hurdle of building your gaming rig.

Now, Konami don’t do PC gaming very well. Their PC ports tend to be awful and the PC versions of Pro Evolution Soccer in the last few years have been based on the last gen variant.

PES graphics

Now, I’m assuming that their positive spin argument for this is that not all gamers have a PC that will run the latest version, but Konami would have to be colossal idiots to believe this. PC gaming has always been about a variety of hardware, tweaking graphics settings etc. to make games run. They are spoiling the experience of a large number of people because some people still have PC’s that were built in the 1800’s.

The fact that we are not given the choice to run the game at ‘current-gen’ specs is beyond daft, and as a result, the last football game that I bought was PES: 2015 (with the exception of Rocket League, which is the greatest football game of all time).

Konami have now made the announcement that the next PES game on the PC will be in line with current-gen technology (The below snip has been taken from Konami’s official teaser site).

PES Snip

“PC Steam version undergoes substantial enhancements in graphics and content, meeting quality standards and ensuring parity across all current gen platforms”. They say this as if this is some sort of gift, as if we should be grateful… but how has it taken this long?!

It seems that other PC Gamers may have stopped buying the games and Konami have finally realized that they could boost sales by treating PC Gamers with a little respect.

Admittedly, I kinda want it and I’m really hoping this game will be good. I’ve never liked FIFA’s over-realistic sluggish movement of the ball. The controls are always unresponsive and everything seems to move at a frustratingly slow pace.

P.S. If someone at Konami is reading this (as if…), there is one thing that you could do to make this up to PC Gamers… one thing that will make us happy again… add Steam Workshop support please… you know why.


Contrast is an example of an excellent concept brought to life with great care and a large quantity of style.

Contrast: a game of light and shadow

Contrast: a game of light and shadow

Everything about the game simply oozes class and finesse. The setting is an impressive romanticisation of the roaring 20’s in a fragmented world that is never really fully explained. At first, I thought that the world was only fragmented in the shadow realm, but since the little girl you are assisting (who belongs to the “solid” realm) cannot traverse the gaping chasms; I reason that the world itself must be fragmented.

The way that the interactions with those of the other realm occurs is truly inspired and clever. You become truly immersed and some of the side puzzles are as challenging as the story challenges.

contrast style

The game mechanics are simple and the puzzles are well designed. Whilst I wouldn’t say that they were perfectly intuitive, there were very few rage inducing fiddly bits that plague this kind of game elsewhere. It has a nice balance between testing  both reflexes and brain-power.

Puzzle games are not one of my favourite genres, but this one gets top marks for its originality and its execution. The whole thing feels crafted by someone who cares; more than can be said for the AAA vomit that gets chucked at us consistently.

contrast gameplay

The only issue that I have with the game is its length. I do not rush games, and I didn’t rush this one (finding most of the hidden collectables), but even so I was done with it in less than four hours… and that really isn’t good enough for a full game.

There really isn’t a whole lot of replay value either, aside from looking for missed collectables. This is one of the key reasons that I’m not a huge fan of puzzle games… once you’ve finished it, that’s it really.


My summary, like the game, will be short and sweet:

A fantastic, well-crafted and engrossing game while it lasts… which isn’t nearly long enough. Wait for it to go on sale, but it’s definitely one to play.

7 corsets out of 10

Grand Theft Auto 5

I am obsessed with GTA. I have been since GTA2 and I adore everything about them.

To give you an Idea of how much I bloody love them, I took a week off work from the Tuesday the game was released just to play GTA5, and I played 14 hours of it straight with only minimal toilet/sandwich breaks.

Been looking forward to this one for a while...

Been looking forward to this one for a while…

OK, so I’m not the most balanced critic here, but I know my stuff and I know what needs to work if it’s going to measure up to its predecessors. Despite this, there is criticism… but we’ll get all the positives out of the way first shall we.

My absolute favourite thing about the game is the map. The amount of effort that has gone into this map is as impressive as it is engrossing. I find myself wondering around, spotting the odd in-joke that I don’t quite get, hearing a bit of well-scripted banter and then all of a sudden a mugging!

Random world events have been used to some really good effect in GTA5. They add just a little bit more to the length of the game and constantly keep you busy. Despite pretty much being a variation on the same thing (someone stole something: chase them down, grab the goods and either return it or keep it) I do find myself doing them if I’m not on my way to do something more interesting.

The characters were extremely well done. I liked all of them in their own way and everyone I ask seems to have a favourite. There is a good mix of psychoses going on and the script writers did a pretty good job of bringing them all to life.

Switching between characters is very nice, and switching to Trevor is always a fairly interesting occurrence. You switch to Trevor with a sense of apprehension, the question “what the hell has he been up to this time?” lurking at the back of your mind.

You are rarely disappointed. He’s usually either being chased by the police for some reason or he’s waking up in the middle of nowhere, still drunk and possibly in a dress… no, I am not joking.

I like the resurrection of the Rampage missions and they’ve been worked in fantastically, only being made available to Trevor when someone really pisses him off. I missed rampage missions in GTA4 and I’m glad rockstar are no-longer taking themselves too seriously to let us go on the odd rampage not and then.

I’m also glad that they’ve allowed us to carry more than one of each kind of weapon… that was annoying.

The actual game engine is really well done too. Shooting and driving are great and feel just right (well… unless you’re playing on a PS3 like I was. The controller doesn’t exactly do precision and let me down on numerous occasions).

Hidden packages are done quite well, but the map is far too large to be able to find them all without clues. I remember spending an entire week combing every square inch of GTA3’s map grid by grid, until I had all of the hidden packages. The mere thought of doing that on GTA5 makes me want to vomit.

It's huge...

It’s huge…

Enough with the pleasantries

I left this review until after the online was fixed, to give it a fair crack of the whip and so far, the online is the first disappointment for me.

It’s not the lag, because there isn’t all that much of that anymore and it’s not the way it works really. I can see where they’re going with it and it’s quite exciting, but they have to get the basics right and sadly, they haven’t yet.

Firstly, there is an issue with lobbies. When you want to kick up an event, you have to wait for about half an hour to get enough players to play because it only invites people in the same “world” as you. Is it not too much to ask to set up a bit of matchmaking across all servers like on any other game?

There’s a connection issue too, once you get into a game. I have friends (I know, you’d never believe it!) and you can be in the same mission or fire-fight, having a great time and suddenly BAM! One of you disappears and takes half of the team with him!


It’s especially irritation when the disconnected player is the driver and you are left in a car that is slowly grinding to a halt as your quarry buggers off.

The worst part about the online is that while you’re not in a game, (and let’s face it… you won’t be for the majority of the time because it’s too much effort and as soon as you do get into a game you find yourself disconnected) there’s sod-all to do but drive around and wait for someone to try to kill you. It’s just a bit boring, sadly.

If a few things get ironed out, the online could be brilliant...

If a few things get ironed out, the online could be brilliant…

Now we come to my main point. This is the thing that has disappointed me above all else. This is something that all the sexy graphics and glorious gameplay in the world can’t hide…

The main campaign.

It’s not a bad campaign and I’ve certainly played worse, but Grand Theft Auto games promice so much more and Grand Theft Auto players demand so much more.

It has the whiff of an unfinished masterpiece: so much potential unfulfilled.

The heist system is particularly inspired and the way that you can level up crew members is a great idea, but what’s the point if there’s only ever going to be four heists in the game? Seems to me like they’re building up for some DLC, but unless it’s free it doesn’t belong in this review and it would be just another game released unfinished.

Also, whilst it’s not the shortest game in the world, in places it feels awfully rushed. There’s a whole section when you’re on the run in the wilderness that lasts what seems like all of two hours. So much more could have been done with that! Hillbillies vs Micheal or Franklin… who doesn’t want to see that?

The map was my favourite part of the game, but with the campaign it is also my biggest disappointment by far.

There is so much on the map and so many interesting settings that are completely unutilised by the main story, or at all!

After finishing the game, I found that there were huge swathes of land that I’d never been to before. I got in a helicopter to go and explore them and I found a dam, a couple of factories/refineries, a religious retreat, a windfarm, a vineyard… I could go on for quite some time, naming all of the places that would have made the campaign longer, more varied, more action packed and that might as well not be there at all!

It is difficult to put into words how utterly enraged I was that such a fantastic resource was wasted so shamelessly. The map design team must be absolutely livid, and rightly so!

So many stunning locations left unused... It's a dam shame!

So many stunning locations left unused… It’s a dam shame!

…Anyway, Here is my summary:

GTA5 is a really good game. It is a joy to play and is fantastically fun. GTA has its sense of humour back and returns to us in style.

My only fear is that it will not age as well as its predecessors. It will be remembered as the game that wasn’t quite as memorable as the games that came before it or the characters in it.

In ten years’ time, people will struggle to recall what the campaign was all about and what parts were most funny. All people will remember is how the game played and how it made them feel…

…And you know what? That’s no bad thing.

One hell of a game. One hell of a missed opportunity

8 submerged UFO’s out of 10.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Beta)

So, I managed to get my hands on a beta key… awesome!

The game is still in beta format, but I’ve logged a good amount of hours on it and I’ll give you my initial experience.

The first thing that strikes you is the graphics. They are very polished, even at this stage. Everything looks fantastic and the level of detail that they’ve managed to achieve on such a large and massively multiplayer game is impressive. I cannot understate how devastatingly pretty this game is.

FFXIV Beta Screenshot

The graphics really are something else…

The universe is quite charming and extremely ‘square’. You can instantly tell that you’re playing a game made by square just by the look of the character skins, the towns and the level design, and this is before you spot people whizzing around on chocobos, moogles delivering letters and hear the tell-tale musical ambience that is so engrained in the long and inconsistently brilliant series.

The music is a bit patchy at the minute, but you can tell that the aim is ambient scores that fade seamlessly into battle music and back again when you encounter and vanquish a beast of some kind. There is none of the randome encounters that some people love and others seem to hate, you peruse the area and press tab until you target the thing you want to kill.

The standard ‘victory tune’ (we all know the one I mean) blasts when you level up, a shiver running down my spine the first time it happened. Basically, they’re doing all they can to make this MMO seem like a Final Fantasy game.

When I started the game up for the first time, it detected that I had an Xbox360 controller plugged in and announced that I could use that instead of a keyboard and mouse. In the interests of science, I tried it for a few hours.

I have to say, it doesn’t work too badly once you get the hang of it, but it makes targeting enemies a long and difficult process. I’d use keyboard and mouse if I were you. It’s playable, but awkward.

At the minute, there’s no voice acting in the game, but the script that you read (old school) is written in an oddly anglicised way, with accents from all reaches of the UK written in to it. I hope this means that they’ll be staying away from the cheesy americans that so plague the series and make certain characters impossible to like.

The races are the usual Final Fantasy fare, with some influence being taken from D&D races (there’s your human and elf races and an ork-ish race etc.). They all look great, if a little anime-ish.

Whilst the beta only let you play as three classes, it did show the list of classes that will be in the game. This is where we become a little disappointed because it seems like there’s a continuation of the tendency for MMO’s of late to remove the roles from role-playing games.

I suspected that there would be the black mage (attacking magic) and the white mage (defensive and healing magic), but the mage in the game was clearly a red mage (bit of both, master of nothing). They want the player to be able to complete the game on their own and in my opinion this is why MMO’s of late have had awful communities. Why discourage players from teaming up to complete missions? I really wish an MMO would break this trend.

The storyline, at the start of the game at least, seems to be exactly the same regardless of race or class. I hope this isn’t the case, because this would severely reduce replay value for me. No light is gleamed on the endgame from the beta, but it’s got to exist after Guild Wars 2… That’s another review entirely.

After playing the beta for a significant amount of time however, I realised something. It hit me like a brick in the face…

…Aside from the shine and the polish, I’ve played this game before… lots of times. This game doesn’t do anything interesting or new. It does the same stuff that every MMO does, and with more fiddly controls. Two examples of this are the fact that you can’t move whilst charging a skill/spell and targeting the enemy you want to attack can be clunky (especially when there’s 20 players piling onto an event).

This is the tragic thing about the game; the fact that it hasn’t done anything aside from looking fantastic means that if it charges any kind of subscription for the game, it’s just not worth it. Too many competitors are free to play, and do the genre arguably more justice.

Single player Final Fantasies (well, most of them anyway) are great. They are a set of games that everyone should have a go at, but Square have made the mistake of including its MMO exploits in the series main, breaking up the series with what is effectively a side project (and expensive one at that! Subscription fees have been unbelievable for their MMO games so far.).

Now, I’m all for Square making MMO’s, and I wouldn’t even mind if they stuck the Final Fantasy name on it, but Final Fantasy XI and XIV should have been called Final Fantasy: Online and Online II.

You can make an MMO feel like a Final Fantasy game, but it still isn’t one… It’s a branded MMO-RPG.

Am I excited for the release? Meh, not anymore.

Diablo 3 vs. Path of Exile (Dual Review)

The point, click, kill-style action RPG seems to be in a resurgence lately, with a number of titles popping up or being announced in fairly quick succession over the past year. Out of the lot, by far the biggest are Blizzard’s Diablo 3 and Grinding Gear Games’ Path of Exile.

We had been waiting for Diablo 3 for about ten years and it was the most hotly anticipated PC game on its release. Many bought it… too many.

The release of Diablo 3 was a mess, a terrible cluster-f**k of always-on-drm (a hateful and vile tendency in the gaming industry of late, and one that should be done away with as soon as possible) and piss-poor server management. Basically, Blizzard sold more discs and licenses than their servers could ever hope to handle, all on the same day.

Because you need to be logged in to their servers to even play a single-player game (NO!), players installed the game only to be told that they would have to wait for many hours before they could log in… and then their game would crash after half an hour of gameplay.

This is just not good enough. It is a black stain on Blizzard’s reputation that we must never forget and which they have not yet adequately apologised for.

Path of Exile had issues too. It is more akin to an MMO and so doesn’t have a single player (effectively this means it IS always on drm). It wasn’t exactly hours of waiting to log in, but they had similar server problems. Their servers were wildly unstable, and could shut down entirely, booting everyone off the game at once. Coding issues and capacity were constant worries in the first few weeks of the games release.

There are two reasons why Path of Exile may be given a little more slack in this regard (although really, developers shouldn’t use always on drm). Firstly, they are the fact that Grinding Gear are tiny when compared to Blizzard and could therefore not be expected to have the recourses or the cash available for top-spec servers. Secondly and most importantly, the game is completely free! It doesn’t make it any less irritating…

So server issues aside (because they have been largely sorted out now), how do the two games stack up against each other? In the end, it is pretty close and each game does some things better than the other.

In terms of graphics, Path of Exile wins hands down. It’s world is darker, more gritty and everything just looks more shiny than Diablo’s slightly more cartoonistic world. Don’t get me wrong, Diablo still looks great, and it’s cut-scenes are second to none, but Path of Exile is jaw-droppingly pretty.

Diablo 3’s classes are very much your generic bunch of adventurers (aside from the re-skinned necromancer and archer) and all of them can complete the game and have a linear set of skills.

Path of Exile’s character classes are generally more interesting, and many have dark pasts. These are not your generic “heroes” (some are absolute villains). The thing with Path of Exile is that you get to choose what kind of character you will develop. Every class can learn any skill.

When you gain a level, you earn “passive skill points” that you can use to add a new node on the board (nodes can be attribute bonus’, skills and traits that add flavour to the character and make it work completely differently to another… for example, there is a skill that completely removes energy shield and adds the number you would get to your evasion bonus).

The board is very similar to Final Fantasy X’s “sphere grid”, and the character you choose, merely dictate’s where you start on it. After this, Diablo 3’s character levelling choices seem positively linear!

What this does however, is make Path of Exile incredibly difficult to complete on your own. As you level, if you’re not careful you can become very good at one thing and not great at other things (e.g. massive magic dps, but bugger all hp). If you’re playing as a group, this works really well though, as you can do all the ranged dps and another can tank properly, but might not be able to solo a boss because of his low damage output.

What this does is encourage you to team up and makes the game really difficult if you don’t feel like it. Diablo 3 is in this regard, far easier.

Equipment in Path of Exile is hard earned very rare. You need to use enhancing trinkets that you pick up to keep ahead of the enemy and survive. If you don’t upgrade your armour and weaponry, you will soon begin to die very often.

Diablo 3 on the other hand has an auction house. You basically find rare items, sell them for gold and buy the best gear from other players on the auction house. Gold is easy to come by and you can gear up with minimal effort required. After Diablo 2’s hardcore grind-fest, I’ll admit that I was disappointed. Games, too often give in to the casual gamer.

So what about storyline? Diablo absolutely, categorically wins this round. The story is good enough to keep you interested, and a fair bit longer than Path of Exile’s. In fact, (without giving any of the story away) Path of Exile ends rather anticlimactically.

There is a reason for this however. Path of Exile isn’t finished yet. Another act has already been announced for release later this year, and I can’t wait.

Both have all the replay value you’ll ever need, with newgame+ modes, where they ramp up the difficulty and you do it again. I predict that you’ll spend a similar amount of time on both, because whilst Diablo 3 is longer, Path of Exile makes creating and playing new characters a more varied and interesting experience.

So which one should you buy?


Diablo 3 is for the more casual gamer. If you want to shell out £40 for it, you won’t regret it because it is worth it. It is better played with friends but if you don’t have any, it’s not the end of the world.

Rating: 7 ridiculously large swords out of 10


Path of Exile is a hardcore game. If you don’t want to play in a party, you’ll have to be careful about how you build your characters. This game is fantastic and it is free!

Rating: 8 exploding zombies out of 10

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Ba-na-na-na-na-na-na-na. Ba-na-na-na-na-na-na-na. Ba-na-na-na-na-na-na-na. Batman!…

…This is all I could think watching the dark night running around the various bits of the asylum. This game screams classic Batman with every fibre of its being. The voice acting, the character models, the easter eggs and a few of the less mainstream faces making appearances. Put simply, they got the feel for this game spot on.

Whilst I enjoyed the latest batman trilogy, I couldn’t help but feel that they were missing something… They had no soul! There was no black comedy, no fun and no truly outlandish moments that made me think, “yes… this is a batman film”. We were left with a dramatic, gritty and realistic re-hash of the making of a batman that I couldn’t root for… and that voice!!!

…this is not a film review… calm…

So, how does it play? Pretty well actually. It may suffer a little from “tekken syndrome” whereby you can complete any combat by only remembering one or two combo attacks but the combat is entertaining. I’d place the majority of the game somewhere between tenchu and assassins creed in style, running along rooftops and surprise attacking a group of gun wielding maniacs dressed like clowns.

The enemies start to genuinely panic when they find their mates KO’d on the floor or catch a glimpse of you, only to lose you as you swing up into the rafters. This is really well done and is hilarious to watch. Picking them off one by one is such fun.

The storyline keeps you entertained, and the depth of the batman universe is used to maximum effect, creating a truly immersive experience that can you can lose entire days to.

Collectables play a large part in this, forcing you (if you’re anything like myself) to spend half of the time searching every nook and cranny of a building in order to find them all. Sometimes this can make the mission you’re actually on feel like the side-event and I’ve found myself accidentally wandering into a cut scene once or twice.

The bosses are varied enough to consistently challenge you and the gadgets that you get drip fed, force you to return to places that you’ve been before in order to use said gadgets to get hold of the collectables that were just out of reach the first time you saw them.

I won’t spoil anything for anyone, but the scarecrow encounters are ridiculously well worked into the game and awesome.

So in summary, if you enjoy beating the mentally ill senseless, stalking people and exploring dark corners to find audio recordings of weirdoes, this is almost certainly a game for you. An absolute must-play if you’re a batman fan… it’s better than watching the latest trilogy of films at any rate.

Rating: 9 batmerangs to the face out of 10