Borderlands 3 has released today and, just like with Pokemon and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, we've got some pretty strong opinions on who you should start your career with. Join us for a light-hearted, friendly, debate about the best character, and the others, in Borderlands 3.
Sam | FL4K
I have to be honest and say that I really don’t like the Borderlands series, although Telltale Games’ narrative-based adventure Tales from the Borderlands does stand as a notable exception.
Gearbox Software’s looter shooters have historically bored the pants off me and so I’ll be opting out of Borderlands 3, likely much to the chagrin of the salivating general gaming populous. If I were to be a glutton for punishment and give the latest cel-shaded shooter a try, however, I’d probably opt for FL4K the Beastmaster.
This gender-neutral, robotic Vault Hunter doesn’t do anything to appeal to me in themselves, but coming bundled with what are essentially three pet doggy companions makes for an easy win. Unfortunately you can only summon one at a time, but it’s pretty cool that they all have different abilities designed to complement your chosen playstyle as you upgrade their master’s attributes.
As for FL4K’s competition? Zane’s a total snooze fest, Amara’s stuck in the shadow of fellow multi-muscly-arm-owner Machamp, and Moze is pretty much just a Titanfall reject...
Liam | Moze
Sam’s Team Talk choices have come a long way since the dark days of Sobble, but once again we find ourselves at loggerheads following a fleeting alliance against Chris, James, and their moody magicians, although I will allow that Zane is by far the most boring character on offer here, closely followed by Amara and her magic fists.
I mean, if you’re going to survive on a hostile planet, it’s best to do so in the company of a giant death machine that also cooks dinner and doubles up as an alarm clock, rather than with a mutant ‘dog’ in ski goggles. Titanfall reject indeed!
But there’s also an element of pragmatism to my choice. I know you’re supposed to play these sorts of games with people you like, or, failing that, your friends and family, but nine times out of ten I’ll end up going stag, so having an autonomous mech in tow will at least give enemies something else to shoot at. As Moze herself points out: “When your BFF’s a BFG, you don’t need anyone else watching your back.”
James | Zane
Having played as Zero on a recent replay of Borderlands 2, it's been an assassin-tastic time on Pandora, and I'm looking forward to continuing the adventure in a similar vein.
Zane is a different kind of character though. While Zero is quiet and robotic, Zane is described as a suave, James Bond-esque character who is "wealthy and has a lot of gadgets at his disposal."
There's an advantage immediately to choosing the gentleman's assassin, in that he can equip two action skills rather than one, which lends itself to a wider variety of movesets across his Doubled Agent, Hitman and Under Cover skill trees.
You have the tried and tested decoy (now known as a "Digi-Clone") as well as a SNTNL drone and a shield barrier to play with as we explore not just Pandora, but a few other planets for a change.
In skills, I'm amused to see we have one called "Nanites or Some Shite" which causes your barrier to give you and your allies health regeneration, faster reload speed and quicker shield recharge when cowering near it.
The character itself is related to bandit leaders Captain and Baron Flynt and is a "semi-retired" hitman, suggesting he might have seen a few things in his time. Though with Borderlands as a series it's rare your character is particularly important to the plot, more along for the ride.
Let us know who you've chosen and if we managed to change your mind.
A number of previously released titles have been finding a home on Nintendo Switch recently, from PlayStation-era masterpieces like Final Fantasy VIII and Spyro the Dragon, to the more modern titles that were announced during the latest Nintendo Direct. There's a world of potential adventures awaiting Switch owners but none we'd like to see more than these.
Games have grown slightly more complex over the years...
Sam | Super Mario 3D World
Picking a Nintendo game might seem like a bit of a cop out, but honestly, what games better fit Nintendo platforms than the company’s very own?
Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS is one of my absolute favourite platformers - it’s seriously sublime! When I found out that the sequel would be a Wii U exclusive my heart sank. I wasn’t clambering into the dumpster fire that was the Wii U, but for a time those flames were mighty tempting...
The Switch has enjoyed a variety of Wii U ports during its time so far, including various other Mario titles, but for some reason 3D World hasn’t yet been shown any love. Its level-based structure and portable roots would make it a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch gaming on the go, while if it’s anywhere close to as compelling as the original it’d be a great candidate to get stuck into for longer periods on the TV at home.
It’s a bit baffling to me that the inferior 2D games got bundled together for a re-release, but 3D World and the likes of Pikmin 3 remain forgotten Wii U relics.
We'll forgive Sam for cheating a little, as this is clearly an oversight by Nintendo.
Liam | GTA: Chinatown Wars
Like most games from my past (and if I’m being honest, more than a few from the present), I never managed to reach Chinatown Wars’ end credits, so it would be great to have another stab at Rockstar’s excellent slice of old-school GTA action without having to dig out my Nintendo DS or sit through a sub par phone version.
Yes, the Switch might be lacking a second screen, but the one it does have is more than ample enough to hold both displays found on the DS version side by side. Also, thanks to its touchscreen capabilities, we wouldn’t necessarily have to miss out on any extra interactivity found in the original game such as inventory management and grenade tossing.
Of course, keeping such a feature would mean the game could only be enjoyed in handheld mode, but I don’t think that would be a problem for most people. There are already a couple of handheld only titles out there, like Severed, and the game’s simplistic visuals might not look so great stretched across big screen TVs of today.
Plus, with Nintendo’s next dedicated handheld system, the Switch Lite, right around the corner, now could be the perfect time to introduce a whole new generation of portable gamers to Rockstar’s forgotten gem.
What better way to deal with a stressful commute?
James | XCOM 2
Turn-based strategy is far from the most popular genre in gaming these days, but with the success of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle on the Switch, I’d say the genre is ripe for a decent port. Enter XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, the re-tooled and more character driven expansion to the original game, ready to challenge you to take over the world, again.
Though the game looks amazing on PC and its fellow consoles, the visuals could easily be paired back a tiny bit and still give a rich, cinematic experience. Plus the turn-based nature of the game stops too much from happening at once, putting less stress on the already stretched GPU and CPU.
There’s an overworld game of course, which lends itself to those shorter play sessions, hopping in and out and leaving the game on pause for a bit until you’re ready to continue the fight against our alien overseers.
There’s plenty of fun to be had docked as well of course, as many have already enjoyed the game, but on the move is where this port would really show its colours. If you want something a bit more forward-looking, then think of this as a proof of concept for a port of the upcoming Phoenix Point, from series creator, and generally nice chap, Julian Gollop.
Rob | The House of the Dead 2
Those of you who are regulars to PTC will be fully aware of my personal trials and tribulations with Nintendo in recent years. But with Link's Awakening and the Lite on the cards, yours truly looks likely to come home. With that in mind, I want some Sega ports, please.
Oh yes, dear chums, once bitter enemies, the years have softened the feud between the two great games makers. Clearly, the whole Dreamcast catalogue on Switch would be grand (please, please make ChuChu 2) but I've plumped for something multiplayer and unholy.
House of the Dead 2 was always a guaranteed party game classic back in t'day, and I see no reason why it shouldn't be again! Grab a friend, take a joy-con each and blast away at the undead - all the while enjoying the gloriously shite voice acting. Perfect.
Truly, party gaming at its finest.
What game do you think would make a worthy Switch port?
The weekend was looking decidedly spooky with The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, an interactive filmic horror-drama, and Blair Witch, a game loosely based on the cult classic, releasing on 30 August. Friday the 13th, Alien Isolation and the newly announced Predator: Hunting Grounds have shown that horror movie tie-ins can be adapted to fit a range of sub-genres, so which spine-tingling stories would Team PTC like to experience through the medium of gaming?
Jack Nicholson's terrifying face can also be used to great effect.
Liam | Tremors
Tremors spawned four sequels (and one prequel) but no game tie-in, not unless you count this effort (shown below) which was made in just 24 hours to celebrate Bacon day. Honouring actors who share a name with sweet, sweet pig meat is all well and good, but it’s about time we had a proper gaming experience based on the 1990 cult classic.
A Tremors game was said to be in development during the early 2000s but was cancelled before ever seeing the light of day. A shame, I think, because the movie’s chief antagonists, known as Graboids, would make a worthy opponent.
These giant, flesh-eating worms that lurk beneath the ground would make traversal one of the most interesting aspects of the game due to their ability to detect movement on the surface. Players would need to find alternative ways to get about a sandbox environment (quite literally if we’re using the film’s Nevada setting) as they search for supplies, weapons and fellow survivors.
Basically, it’s the same ‘the floor is lava’ concept you played as a kid, except touching the ground means being horribly devoured instead of a loose bit of Lego in your heel, although both are, arguably, just as painful.
Is it even possible to improve upon such a gem?
Sam | The Mist
The Mist is by no means an amazing film, but the bones of an amazing game are already there. It’s set in a supermarket, which are always fun to explore due to their inherent variety of items, almost akin to a miniature Willamette Mall from Dead Rising, which in itself was channelling zombie horror flick Dawn of the Dead.
You can also throw a little bit of The Walking Dead into the mix, with characters facing an internal threat from fanatical fellow survivors in addition to the more conventionally monstrous external threat of winged beasties. The existential question of whether or not humanity is the real monster would be at the game’s core, and you could make choices throughout which ultimately helped to shape what, hopefully, wouldn’t be quite as depressing an ending as the twist from the film.
Of course, you’d need to head out of the supermarket in order to complete tasks on occasion, and this is where the true horror gameplay would come into effect. The eponymous mist would obscure player vision, just like in horror classic Silent Hill, leaving little to no opportunity to prepare for what’s around each corner. This would help to make the introduction of each and every enemy - used sparingly to avoid coming off as cheap jump scares, of course - a harrowing encounter.
Whatever choices you make, it can't really go much worse for the Draytons.
James | Cabin in the Woods
I'm not a huge fan of horror films. More often than not they take the easy way out and descend into tired tropes and predictable conclusions played out by wafer-thin characters.
Cabin in the Woods, however, played a bit more smartly with the genre and brought unexpected twists and turns to an otherwise common premise by having the would be slain slowly discover an elaborate, Westworld-esque manufactured reality that is the cause of their suffering. The same sort of thing could be done for the spin-off game.
Imagine an asymmetrical adventure where one player can trigger visual and audio glitches in someone else's computer to throw them off and distract them if they get too close to finding the edges of the game's (and film's) facade. It seems like a natural step forward from the likes of Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid's Psycho Mantis (whom we talked about last week) messing with real world elements of the console gaming experience like forcing you to switch your controller to another slot to continue.
Perhaps being mean to people would be too popular? It would take concentration to become the master of puppets but the marionettes themselves would be having fun trying to feel for the edges, while turning around to find doors are no longer there.
Let the mind games begin.
Which horror films do you think deserves a game tie-in?
A teaser trailer for Gears 5's campaign premiered during Opening Night Live, giving us a brief look at the terrifying creatures we'll be taking on come September. This left us pondering the big set pieces in some of our favourite games.
This may look like someone used photos of Psycho Mantis to make a collage of Psycho Mantis, but in 1998 he was frightening.
Sam | Soul of Cinder - Dark Souls 3
In a series famed for its boss encounters - many of which see you face off against unspeakable, towering horrors - Dark Souls 3’s concluding encounter with the distinctly humanoid Soul of Cinder might seem like an underwhelming choice.
Soul of Cinder is the game’s cover star, with everything from the moment you first set eyes on the game building towards the final battle; not just of Dark Souls 3, but the entire Dark Souls trilogy. A trilogy that’s one of my all-time favourites, beautifully brought full circle by an ending that mirrors and also furthers that of the first game.
I could mention the amazing original track that accompanies the fight, but then that’s nothing unique - the same applies to pretty much every Souls series boss fight. Without spoiling too much, the encounter is a sentimental one years in the making. Anyone that finished the original Dark Souls knows this character well, in both of their forms, thanks to the significant mid-fight phase changes introduced in this third entry.
You’re given a very literal taste of your own medicine by a character skilled in all distinctions, plus you can’t parry them, avoiding the encounter being trivialised as with the first game’s conclusion. You could summon a co-op buddy to help, but that’d just be wrong for such a personal duel.
You'll get no spoilers from us.
Liam | Moldorm - A Link to the Past
Boss fights are usually all about learning patterns and memorising attacks, a deadly ballet where even the slightest misstep means failure. And then there’s Moldorm.
Moldorm, if you’re unfamiliar, is the worm-like creature with the disturbing eyes that can be found guarding the top of the Tower of Hera in A Link to the Past. Its attack - if you can call it that – is extremely simple; all it does is charge around its small arena bouncing off walls and edges, wiping out anything standing in its path. I’m not 100% convinced it’s even aware of what it’s doing, or that you’re even there, which raises several moral questions when it comes to ending it.
Despite only needing six hits to the tail for a victory, Moldorm was one of the more challenging bosses in ALTTP because it could knock you down to the floor below, forcing you to start the fight again from scratch.
I always enjoyed the chaotic mess that were these battles. Trying to avoid the wriggly bastard as it careened around like a headless chicken was a frantic and often hilarious experience, especially when you factor in the limited range of movement afforded by a SNES controller.
Again, the graphics don't really do Moldorm justice.
James | Saren - Mass Effect
The Mass Effect series made a splash on the Xbox 360 and it all began with the first game in 2007, ushering in a new era of story-driven RPG/action games.
One of the shining stars of the game was the antagonist and fallen Spectre, Saren Arterius, who sided with the original trilogy's big bad, the Reapers, to act as the Darth Vader of this sci-fi tale.
Like many compelling villains, he feels as though he's working for the greater good, enabling the Reapers to "reset" the galaxy by destroying the Mass Relays used to travel between star systems, a fate you must work through the entire trilogy to prevent.
Saren's fight goes through multiple stages, forcing you to call on the powers of your class to take him down, and in fact you can even avoid the first stage of the final fight altogether by convincing him he's possessed and so must take his own life.
The sort of depth to his character is atypical and your numerous interactions with him through the game, constantly trying to get him to see your perspective, only build the impact of the final showdown. Without it, there's no doubt the series as a whole wouldn't have had as much impact as it did.
Saren was far more charismatic than anyone we encountered in Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Share your favourite boss battle with us in the comments below.
E3 has disappeared from the rear view mirror and the next stop in the 2019 gaming road map is Gamescom. With new content and announcements promised right from the get go during Opening Night Live (hosted by The Game Awards creator, Geoff Keighley), here's what we're looking forward to.
Will the Avengers be bolstering their ranks?
Sam | Death Stranding
It’s been confirmed that Hideo Kojima will be taking a break from crunching on Death Stranding with the team at Kojima Productions, what with its 8 November release fast approaching, to join best buddy Geoff Keighley at Gamescom 2019’s Opening Night Live event.
Making the trip to the show, which takes place in Cologne, Germany, for the first time since 2014, it’s reasonable to assume that the former Metal Gear Solid director has big news regarding his latest project to share. It’d be about time, as Death Stranding remains shrouded in an air of mystery less than two months ahead of its PS4 release.
Long-term Team Talk readers may already know how devastating Silent Hills’ cancellation was for me, largely due to a collaboration between some of my favourite talents from multiple mediums - namely Kojima himself, film director Guillermo del Toro, and actor Norman Reedus - being wrestled from almost within my grasp. Now, albeit in a different form, that majorly mouth-watering meeting of masterminds is back on.
As such, I already know that you can count me in wherever Death Stranding is concerned, but I’d rather like to find out if the game really is about an incredibly devoted package delivery service assigning babies in jars as co-drivers...
Every image seems to reinforce that theory.
Liam | Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s absence from the E3 public meant that my predication - along with pretty much every other guess I made - failed to come true. So, it’s up to Gamescom to get the hype train back on track after the summer’s minor derailment.
I was initially excited about the reboot following an announcement trailer in which we get our first glimpse of the grounded, modern day setting and a fresh-faced Captain Price (complete with his iconic boonie hat) but since then my enthusiasm has waned somewhat.
So far, I’ve seen nothing of the campaign and very little of the multiplayer, save for a brief round of Gun Game and a trailer that dropped earlier in the month. Whilst the latter started off well, highlighting new tactical abilities like being able to peak through doors before entering a room, it quickly descended into some trademark Call of Duty silliness.
I'm not totally against some over-the-top action, but I’m hoping that next week's show will present something similar in style and tone to the announcement trailer, especially if it includes a look at the campaign. Even if the final product is only half as good as the original Modern Warfare, I’ll still be satisfied.
War never changes, but it does look better each year.
James | Astral Chain
There are still quite a few games due to come out this year which we'll hear all about at Gamescom, but I feel fairly confident that none of them are quite like Astral Chain.
Platinum Games' latest jumped to the top of my Switch list after the Nintendo Direct at E3. The game comes from Takahisa Taura, who was previously lead game designer for Nier: Automata, and sees you fighting alien-like monsters from another dimension with help from your Legion, a powerful weapon who fights independently in combat.
Platinum is known for its slightly off-beat approach to action games, with Bayonetta, Vanquish and Neir under its belt, which has me thinking this could be one of the most original releases due out this year.
Better still, it's a Switch exclusive, so it has the best possible chance to be well-optimised and the gameplay shown off so far looks really impressive. Plus, with potentially all of what we'll see about Pokémon ahead of its release out of the bag, this is the Nintendo game that really tops the excitement-o-meter.
While it's not likely to make the biggest smash of the show (especially when some have the Hulk in their corner), it's an experience which is sure to be unlike anything else.
Platinum Games' portfolio has us eager to see more.
Lets us know what you're most excited to see at Gamescom 2019 in the comments below.
Last week an email popped into the PTC inbox informing us that Garfield Kart Furious Racing was coming to Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC this November. For some reason, James saw this as an opportunity to pitch a Team Talk on games that nobody ever asked for… Not one to pass up a freebie, Sam ran with it and here we are.
Things have been quiet since the game’s debut, which is understandable, given the trailer has 326K downvotes vs. 24K upvotes...
Chris | Needless yearly updates
I'd like to make it clear that I'm not cheating and picking every single sequel. There's a certain type of game that doesn't need a new release each year but gets one anyway. FIFA, NBA, NFL and the rest of EA's '19 series are probably the most advanced digital recreations of ball touching that have existed to date, yet there's not a great deal that separates them from their predecessors.
It isn't just sport sims or EA, Infinity Ward are obviously not looking to break the mould with Call of Duty '19: Modern Warfare, Again. An argument could be made that any big changes in the franchise are often met with resistance, potentially hurting sales, though this feels too much like blaming ourselves.
We don't always know what we want until it's right in front of us, so developers shouldn't be afraid of thinking outside the box every now and then. Ubisoft's reboot of Assassin's Creed was a resounding success which breathed new life into a series that, for many, had grown stale. Whilst there's not much chance of FIFA being rebooted in the same manner, there's very little on offer that we haven't already seen.
Can you tell which iteration of FIFA this is?
James | Garfield Kart Furious Racing
When the news that Garfield already has his own kart racing game reached me this week, and not only that but we're getting a sequel in November, I was perplexed. I'm partial to a kart racer (as I've mentioned in a previous Team Talk) and on the surface I don't think it's fair that Mario gets a monopoly on them, but I mean...come on now, Garfield?!
The lasagne-loving feline jumped back into pop culture in 2004 with the almost certainly dreadful movie (which I did not see), and 9 years and a number of cash-ins later, the game to truly capitalise on/sell out the character - Garfield Kart - was released on iOS, Android, Steam and 3DS.
With the remake of Crash Team Racing out and performing well, an alternative to Mario Kart is there for you already, and even Sonic Team Racing feels like it earns its place with a few unique mechanics.
Most importantly of all, a kart racer needs characters, and, while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes the kick on this a bit, Garfield alone does not a compelling roster of players make.
Here we see Garfield, surrounded by all of the memorable characters from the franchise.
Liam | Angry Birds Star Wars
It’s fair to say that most game concepts are so bizarre it would be a bit of stretch to expect people to even think them up, let alone ask for them.
Take Super Mario, for example. Before it came into existence, I'd wager that no-one was going about their day thinking, “You know what I need in my life? A game about an Italian plumber stamping giant turtles to death in a land inhabited by mushroom people."
Angry Birds falls under the same category. In any other industry, pitching the idea of slinging kamikaze birds at pigs with giant catapults is more likely to get you a very awkward meeting with the HR department instead of a multi-million selling, movie-spawning game series.
Even if the original concept of murdering pigs with birds was already lurking in the deep, dark recesses of someone’s mind, I highly doubt they had the foresight to blend it with George Lucas’ iconic space opera.
Yet, that’s exactly what Rovio did when they came up with Angry Birds Star Wars, which, to this day, remains the strangest franchise crossover I’ve ever played.
The Force is not very strong with this one.
Which game's simple existence most baffles you? Let us know below!
If you came in search of an in-depth guide, unfortunately you’re in the wrong place, but feel free to stay for a good-humoured debate.
Chris | Black Eagles
I'm just as unfamiliar with Fire Emblem as I am with Pokémon, so I figured the best way to choose a house is by process of elimination. I started by eliminating the Blue Lions and Golden Deer, because they’re terrible houses for garbage people, which leaves me with the Black Eagles. Proud, majestic and one of nature's most elegant creatures, I will make a fine addition to the noble house.
Lions are adorable and probably make great pets for people who love cats but wish they were bigger. They aren't fighters, though - I hate to break it to you, but The Lion King is a work of fiction. Do you know anyone who’s been attacked by a lion? No, you don’t. The Cyan Cats manage a respectable second place.
At the bottom of the food chain, much like in real life, are the Yellow Venison. These second-rate antelope are prey. They get eaten by lions and, as we all know, lions are soft, timid animals. My colleagues will try to win you over with facts and logic but this is about the law of the jungle; lions eat deer and eagles definitely eat lions.
Liam | Golden Deer
These are dark times indeed when I find myself allying with Sobble-loving Sam and turning on a proud Team Grookey member in Chris, but I cannot let old loyalties influence my decision - it just wouldn’t be right. As has been noted, we take these choices very seriously here at PTC towers!
It’s with a heavy heart, then, that I say boo to the emo wizards that are the Black Eagles, instead affixing my colours to the Golden Deer. The name might sound like an old lady’s description of a darling grandchild, but their democratic leanings, archery-based combat and likeable leader won out over the other houses’ given ‘attributes’. Not that the Black Eagles have many of those. Again, I’m sorry Chris.
My second choice was the Blue Lions. They have the best name, and their in-your-face tactics when it comes to combat certainly appeal (they’d probably be a good fit for my combat-focused dream team), but their devout leanings and snobbish cast cooled my interest in them.
If we’re being honest, all of the houses seem to have their fair share of knobs, but at least they’ve all got feet this time, which is an upgrade on the last Fire Emblem game I played.
James | Black Eagles
Magic is cool, and if that isn't a good enough reason from the outset then I might have an uphill struggle on my hands.
Since young Harry Potter exploded onto the scene 20 years ago, the hype hasn't fully died down, and, if anything, magic is more mainstream now than it ever was in the past. Image isn't everything of course, and so what about the practical benefits? One word - versatility. Your elemental attacks will work at various ranges, giving you the flexibility to build a character suited to your play style rather than being pushed into a corner.
We're also told the Eagles "challenge the status quo" (according to a very handy primer from Game Informer) and who doesn't enjoy a bit of rebellion? Plus, you can take care of yourself with support spells and healing, rather than relying on flaky teammates.
The Eagles' inspirational leader Edelgard, the Adrestrian Empire’s future emperor, values those who excel, and as a result has attracted a colourful range of students, including the sarcastic Hubert, the carefree Lindheart and the ambitious Ferdinand. Who wouldn't want to hang out with such a colourful array of characters?
What's your Fire Emblem house of choice? Any love for the Blue Lions, or have Team PTC managed to sway you to their ways of thinking? Let us know with a comment below.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 just came out and, true to its name, the series continues to be the ultimate form of Marvel fan service. Sam’s loved Hulk-smashing his way through MUA3 on Switch these past few days, which got him and the rest of the team pondering which (if any) licensed games managed to do it better.
Being able to play as the X-Men, and even some of the Brotherhood of Mutants, was a dream come true.
Chris | Batman Arkham
I never rated Batman in my younger days. I considered the superhero designation to be a misnomer because, as heroic as he may be, Batman does not possess superpowers. I soon came to realise that's not just part of his allure, but it's exactly what makes him a superhero!
Rocksteady managed to capture that feeling of being a proficient crime-fighter and balance it against the very real vulnerabilities Bruce Wayne has as a "regular" man in their Arkham series.
In each game, the first few combat sections set you up as an all-powerful guardian. When the guys with guns arrive, it becomes clear that Batman isn't as bulletproof as he appears and must retreat to the shadows. There's a sense of peril that’d be absent if we were playing as one of DC Comics' other heroes, like Superman, because Bats only has his wits and a utility belt full of Bat-nouns to rely on.
Excellent gameplay aside, the characters are fantastically written and acted as well. Mark Hamill's portrayal of the Joker is so good that it’s now the benchmark against which I measure all iterations of the character. Indeed, many of the friends and foes Batman meets in the Arkham games have became the default in my head and any variations - such as those in the Telltale episodics - merely feel like cheap cover versions.
Bats stalks his prey from the shadows.
Liam | Spider-Man (2002)
2002’s Spider-Man isn’t the best superhero game out there. Heck, it’s not even the best Spider-Man game, but it gets my vote mainly for nostalgia’s sake. Along with Super Smash Bros. Melee, it was one of two games that came bundled with our (read: my older brother’s) brand-new Nintendo GameCube.
Loosely based on the film of the same name – which I also enjoyed – and made by Call of Duty stalwarts Treyarch, it was the first game I’d played that captured the feeling of being a superhero in a metropolis. Up until that point, everything I’d encountered starring caped crusaders had been a pixelated, 2D side-scrolling affair.
Granted, you weren’t exactly given complete freedom to explore the city (the streets would swallow you up if you dared descend towards them) and there were some questionable physics (Spidey would swing from webs afixed to nothing), but it did the core stuff like scaling skyscrapers and beating up bad guys solidly enough.
I also liked that it added in new bosses to compliment Green Goblin and expand on the film’s story. If memory serves, there was even a cool challenge mode where you could take on waves of enemies for added replay value.
Sam's parents bought him this game when he couldn't see the film (rated 12) at the cinema. He liked it, too.
Rob | Waterworld
An excellent topic this week, folks, as I'm sure you'll all agree. As usual, yours truly had many options: the childhood-defining GoldenEye 007, grand sports classics such as Brian Lara Cricket, or even something altogether unexpected... I've gone for the latter option, unsurprisingly!
Cast your minds back to the glorious mid-nineties: a time of fantastic chart music, Opal Fruits and Kevin Costner - oh yes.
Lord Costner (as he should always be referred to) was the star of many of my favourite films as a kid, not least sea-based sci-fi movie Waterworld. To go alongside this masterpiece of celluloid, legendary developer Ocean set about creating a game that would live up to the genius of the film, and by Jove they did it!
I owned the Game Boy version, thoroughly enjoying the swimming and isometric sailing of earlier levels, alongside the platforming and shooting of later stages. With no save states I never actually managed to complete it, so here's hoping it reaches a virtual console at some point in the future!
Until then, you'll just have to enjoy the pixelated majesty of Lord Costner.
James | Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
While I have fond memories of the likes of Yoda Stories, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, Empire at War and Rogue Squadron (a close second place), it was The Force Unleashed which really captured my imagination as a game which takes one of my favourite properties and does something interesting with it.
Its sequel might have failed to meet the standards set by the first, but for a franchise not short of adaptations it found its niche by creating an original story which, though a bit cheesy, is quintessentially Star Wars.
Jedi: Fallen Order is Force-dashing its way over the hill for the end of the year, but to date TFU remains the most fun representation of lightsaber flailing in gaming. Plus, once you've powered up young Starkiller's skills, the joy of throwing multiple enemies into one another and then off a cliff never gets old.
To top it off, you have one of the greatest villains in entertainment history not only featured but playable for the door-busting first level, which is the perfect introduction to all of the Force toys you could strangle a sarlacc with. Let's hope there's more exciting light sword play still to come in November.
For all the game's faults, tormenting enemies with the Force was brilliant.
What's the best licensed game you've played? Feel free to let us know with a comment below.
Telefrag VR is a bold new arena shooter from developer Anshar Studios (who we recently interviewed), hoping to bring the intense competition of Unreal Tournament and Quake to virtual reality. We’ve spent some time with the finished article on PlayStation VR, minus online play due to it being pre-release, so let’s throw down the lowdown.
Those firearms are all on different cooldowns (no manual reloads), have two alternative fire modes, plus feature a unique form of weaponisable teleportation. More passively, you can also warp onto designated surfaces to bring a new dimension to fights, perhaps launching an ambush from upside down on the ceiling.
Mix these things together and the result is an experience that is, more often than not, frantic fun.
Sounds great, but just 1v1 deathmatch? Really?
It might sound sparse, but with the game being built around head-to-head play it’s one seriously action-packed tango! Telefrag is also set in an alternate future where the Roman Empire never fell and Gladiators now compete for glory in sci-fi coliseums, which helps to contextualise things.
Moreover, considering VR’s relatively small install base, only requiring one opponent for online matchmaking is much easier to accommodate - especially with cross-play between all major headsets also enabled.
Thumbs up then?
If you’re a fan of 90s FPS games, complete with gravelly announcers, Telefrag does an admirable job of distilling that familiar feel down to fit the VR landscape.
It can certainly be enjoyed solo against bots, as in our case, but online balance is a potential issue due to cross-play. PlayStation players have to choose between analogue movement and independent control of both arms, whereas Oculus and Vive users don’t, most likely placing them at an inherent advantage. If you can, opt for the PC version as a result.
After months of persistent rumours, last week Nintendo finally revealed the purported Switch Mini to be the Switch Lite, scheduled for release 20 September. Strictly a portable console, Switch Lite is of a smaller stature and lighter weight, while boasting greater battery life to keep you gaming on the go for longer. At a cheaper RRP to boot, you’d think everything was gravy, but that’d be to overlook the lack of TV support, detachable Joy-Cons, motion controls, HD rumble, and an IR camera. Keeping that upstairs, do the pros outweigh the cons?
Switch Lite: The Switch that doesn't switch.
Do I need a Switch Lite? Absolutely not. My original Switch is still serving its purpose well, both at home and on the road, but that hasn’t stopped me coveting one since the redesign was announced.
The sleek new addition to the Switch family is, in my opinion, a much better-looking console than its bigger brother. The lack of removable Joy-Cons and the addition of a proper d-pad give it a solid, more premium look and perhaps make it a bit more robust, too.
I have no problem with Nintendo muddying the waters by making a Switch that doesn’t switch. I use mine as a handheld most of the time, and had the Lite been available at launch, the lower price, longer battery life and appealing design probably would’ve swayed me to go that way from the start.
The only part I don’t like is the smaller screen. Some of the more visually demanding games already feel a little cramped on a regular Switch’s 6.2-inch display, so to reduce it even further to 5.5-inches could be pushing it.
But, as I said, my original Switch is still serving me well, so I won’t be getting one. I’ll wait for the inevitable release of a ‘New’ Nintendo Switch instead.
Sticking with this guy is probably for the best.
I've never been into the portable side of gaming so, from a purely personal standpoint, the best outcome for me would be the Switch Lite bombing catastrophically, reaching the unenviable status of Atari E.T. cartridges and (fingers crossed) Google Stadia. It's not that I actively want Nintendo to fail, I'd simply prefer them to concentrate on the things that I might care about.
It seems Nintendo have "fixed" one glaring issue with the Switch (the poorly designed dock which Sam alluded to) at the cost of functionality. This is absolutely fine if you just want to play Skyrim on a train, but I suspect no-one has done that more than once, and even then only to say they've done it.
If you're a fan of gaming on the go, you might get a lot more out of Switch Lite. Sure, it lacks some of the features of the Switch and may be a little more cumbersome than a DS, but we can't expect too much from a company who willingly hired and promoted a guy named after the antagonist of their biggest franchise.
Pictured: Bowser Bowser wins Doug Bowser's heart by sharing his best princess abduction tips.
First things first, the Switch Lite is not aimed at me, and that's OK. In the past I've never opted for one of Nintendo's snazzy, reworked consoles, missing out on the Game Boy Advance SP and even the DS Lite back in the day.
As recently as the 2DS Nintendo has proven there’s a market for something like this though, and it's encouraging that the company is still pushing more options for consumers (and making a spot of money at the same time).
The company has struggled to meet its massive yearly projections and it feels as if Nintendo is the underdog, despite it making over $11billion a year, and this move is one which keeps them on parents' minds for Christmas time.
A "pro" version could come next Christmas, but in the meantime this gives developers confidence there are no plans whatsoever to leave the Switch console family languishing like Ninty did the Wii U, hopefully meaning there are more long-term third-party projects on the way.
In terms of the console itself, not having detachable Joy-Cons is a bit of a shame, but otherwise the tighter size and canny cost-saving measures seem smart and should bring plenty of joy (despite the cons, ba-dum-tss), to young'uns this Christmas.
2006 brought us Nintendo's original Lite handheld in the DS Lite.
So much speculation, so many supposed leaks, and finally, here we are: the Nintendo Switch Lite!
As you may be aware, I've been on the fence with the Switch since its release some two-odd years ago. Is the Lite the answer to my prayers? In short: I think it just might be.
I was one of the ~17 people to own a Wii U in the UK - I still have it by the way, along with a healthy backlog of games to start/finish. Do I feel burnt by it? No, not at all. Did I feel let down by Nintendo's lack of long-term support? Oh, yes indeedy.
But the Lite offers new hope to this cynical old bastard. I really don't get much time to play games at home these days, so a dedicated portable device seems the way to go - and the Xbox, 3DS and Wii U are all ready for a trade-in, too!
The only thing left holding me back are the games on offer (I need at least five big hitters before I’ll drop coins on a console), but with the impending release of both Fire Emblem and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, I think we might finally be there.
Gimme a good Zelda bundle on day one and I'm ready to come back home, Nintendo.
Considering the Switch Lite launches on the same day as Link's Awakening, it's baffling that there doesn't appear to be a bundle for Rob.
What are your thoughts on Nintendo's Switch redesign? Let us know with a comment below.