Earlier this week, an announcement came out that delighted me greatly. As from the title, LucasFilm Games is once again in business. Oh, it was always in business as LucasArts since the Disney takeover, with a skeleton crew acting as a licensor of the brand. They’ve worked mostly with EA across these last seven years to bring authenticity to their Star Wars games, but now things are getting bigger.
The name of LucasArts has once again become LucasFilm Games, and it seems they are intent on making the most of this new era for the gaming division of the company. The end of the announcement article of this new era stated to keep an eye out for news coming soon, and it seemed they wanted to prove they are serious about this rebranding through a number of announcements.
The following day announced that a new Indiana Jones game was in development at MachineGames, executive produced by Todd Howard of Bethesda Games Studios. It’s been a long time since any other LucasFilm IP got a chance to shine as a video game. Whatever this game turns out to be, it’s got a great team working on it, and should be able to explore the whip-cracking world of Indy in a way we haven’t seen before.
2020 wasn’t exactly the greatest of years, but still managed to produce some absolute cracking games. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been an excellent way to pass the time, with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity finally getting me to put a strong amount of hours into a Warriors game. Watch Dogs Legion offered a dystopian London to explore. DiRT 5 provided a great arcade racing game to enjoy, with F1 2020 providing the more technical racer.
There’s been plenty of game announcements across 2020 for games that are set to release in this year, with one game in particular having been delayed into this year. And there’s set to be plenty of new game announcements for this year as well. It’ll be a big year for two of my cores, I’m hoping, what with the Pokémon 25th anniversary and also Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th.
With all these games, then, there’s sure to be plenty that will attract people to them. For me, there’s already a decent amount of games I’ve got my eye on. I’ll be talking of those along with a few wishlist options, including for those aforementioned anniversaries. And to start with, I need to talk of this one. The one that I’ve been waiting almost two years for, and the one that holds the most promise to me.
I hadn’t really known what to expect with this one. All I do know is that it seems to have been overlooked. And honestly, that’s probably for the best. Seems a bit harsh to say, but compared to the giants of this type of game, it’s easy to see where this one falls short and the failings it makes. But that’s not to say it’s a bad game.
As a background, you’re training with your uncle to become a truck driver to help the local community. With the training complete, you are introduced to the first member of the community you will be accepting jobs from. A fishmonger by the name of Charlie. As you head to new places while doing jobs, you can find other people to get to know and help.
The writing for these cutscenes – told through text messages – is basic and very casual. And despite the fact you’re meant to be getting to know these people, they seem to be able to read your intent pretty much from the off. Now, sure, you could say they already know each other, but that doesn’t come across in the writing of these conversations. Could be I’m just missing something, but fortunately if you do just want to focus on the driving, these text conversations can be skipped.
Breath of the Wild was absolutely huge not only for The Legend of Zelda, but also Nintendo. It was the game that impressed plenty, and Switch sales rocketed thanks to it. Even those who had never played a Zelda game before were enjoying it, with some of those no doubt checking out previous games in the series. It was such a huge hit that it’s somewhat common to forget that the Switch launched with several other games.
So how do you capitalise on that success? Well, a sequel for starters, and that’s what Nintendo eventually did announce. But when there’s a rich history and lore built into the world that was created that the audience only ever get glimpses of, you could always capitalise on the success by using that. And in this collaboration with Koei Tecmo, that’s exactly what Nintendo have done with this Warriors spin-off.
Now, in terms of the story, let me get this out there right away. Upon seeing the first cutscene, I felt it would be a story about bringing forth the danger by trying to combat it. Trying to defy the prophesised future and instead bringing it about. This is very much a story contained within an alternate reality, however, and I will say no more on that. The story doesn’t suffer from being within an alternate reality, as these are still the characters and world we got to know from Breath of the Wild.
I’d had little experience of the DiRT series before this game, but its reveal at the Inside Xbox of May interested me enough to take a look at some of the previous games. DiRT 4 was on Game Pass, with me also during that time finding myself with DiRT Rally 2.0 for free from a promotion from Fanatical. Those were good experiences, so it heightened my confidence the new game would be great.
And I can say it is indeed as great as I expected. There’s a range of tracks that offer variety, with forests, quarries, cities, and even a snow sports resort. Each of the tracks look great, with some excellent lighting providing realistic weather effects. When it gets dark, it really gets dark, and combined with rain or snow it makes for some dangerously slim sight. That just adds to the thrill of it, though.
There’s a good range of vehicles here, split into categories. Each track will have a number of these categories that can be used on it. The handling is very arcade styled, with a few settings that can be toggled to make things easier should you wish, with the first race dropping you into things to allow you to feel that handling and whether you need to toggle things.
I’m happy with how the driving feels, with differences between the various power ranges being noticeable when on the track. Various surfaces such as mud and ice also affect those driving physics, but only to a small degree. Being an arcade racer, that’s not a bad thing.
I’ve been watching this one for more than a year. Ever since the announcement at E3 2019. The ability to explore London as a realistic open entity in its modern form for the first time in… well, forever it seems. And doing so in a way that allows you to explore on foot and be free to do whatever you want.
There was interest in the core mechanic of the game, as well. The ability to play as anyone is something I’ve got a taste of from the Director Mode within GTA V, and while this game doesn’t allow you to choose any and everyone right from the off, the work you put in to recruit them to the cause and gain the ability to play as them gives them a bit more character and personal connection. If you invest in who you play as, you care for what happens to them.
It’s a story told through the interactions rather than a strict plot, though that is also here. Not that I’ve played through any of the missions, yet. I’ve been too busy exploring London and finding recruits. That story is about building a resistance and clearing the DedSec name from the bombings that occurred by someone going by the name of Zero Day – who had been posing as a DedSec member. Since that’s all I know, I’m not covering any of that here.
Game Freak have been showing off the two locations we could explore with the Sword and Shield Expansion Passes since they were first announced. Once the Isle of Armor brought its island of fun, giving a story that was short and felt rushed but with a location that felt like an expansion of the Wild Area, it was time for The Crown Tundra to give its take on an open area with exploration under a free camera.
Aside from the fact it feels odd that this expansion reveals snowy climate is a feature of Galar both at the north and south, this is a much greater expansion that I expected. For one, there’s verticality that feels natural rather than straight and constant slopes. There’s a cave system that feels like a cave from the older generations brought to the modern world, with multiple secrets and routes leading to those secrets while still having one main path. It’s easy to get lost within it if you’re unprepared, and several smaller ones – while not to the same scale – also manage to feel the same.
The map overall feels good. Better yet, we have a town designed to fit free camera exploration. Okay, admittedly said town is just four buildings and a farm, but that’s what you’d expect for a small outpost town. Again, there’s a naturalness to it, but to the same standard of the main game. Unlike those of the main game, however, it’s designed specifically with the idea it fits within this world where the camera is free.
Back when I was young, Playstation was king of the household with Nintendo being mostly for handhelds (still had a Gamecube that introduced me to some… Sonic the Hedgehog games). Along with that, there was also the PC. Back before Steam was ever a thing, the likes of Hydro Thunder and Worms 2 were all the rage. We also owned two Sonic the Hedgehog games. Then there were the simulation games.
Theme Hospital was always a fun game, and Mall Tycoon offered some short-lived fun, but the series to grab my attention was RollerCoaster Tycoon in 2002. For someone who loved creating, the second RCT game felt a dream come true for a game, allowing me to map out an entire park and the rides that it held. Along with designing the tracks of the coasters, the rivers and pools along the park, I enjoyed the freedom that the sandbox mode offered to create it all.
That’s not to say I didn’t also jump into the challenges the game offered, but I was certainly happier not having to worry about money and keeping everyone happy. The isometric view allowed easy customisation of the world, but also meant there were some restrictions if ever you decided to get too technical or overload the park with a massive amount of things.
When this was first announced just before the EA Play Live of 2020 (with more info coming during it), I was ready to get into it. Fleet Battles looked a lot of fun, like Supremacy from Battlefront up in space. The story also felt like it might be interesting, with the flipping between New Republic and Empire during the events of post-Endor. While I’m not the best at flight combat, I still enjoy it and wanted to get into it with this game.
The prologue of the story felt good in mission execution, with it taking place just after the events of A New Hope. Starting as the Empire, it runs you through basic flight manoeuvres and combat options, then at a certain point swaps to the Rebels as they jump to the same location to act as backup, and both forces come together in a clash of lasers as the Rebellion completes its mission.
At that point the game asks if you want to continue or jump back to the menu. Fleet Battles was the main reason I’d got the game, so into some multiplayer against AI I go. Before getting into that, though, I have to say that the flight mechanics are top tier even if they can feel a bit floaty with a controller. Everything feels as it should, with the ability to divert power to a specific system giving a bit of strategy in how you fly.
At the end of last month, I’d been looking into games that I’d be happy to stream, having recently started doing so over on Twitch. GTA V would be an obvious one, showing off the races I create along with those of others. And of course, I wanted LEGO City Undercover to be my first full playthrough of a game.
As usual, I found myself looking at the latest eShop updates over on Nintendo Life, where the title of Mask of Mists jumped out at me. An action-puzzler within a world of magic, I jumped over to the eShop to give it a look. I liked what I was seeing, as the game had a nice art style that complimented the world.
It looked a relaxing game to spend a few hours with, and while I did jump to the extreme of calling it a small-scale Skyrim, the description is still fitting. Across my play of it on that first stream, I did feel that description was certainly jumping to the extreme, but it wouldn’t be until the second stream I featured it that I found a better comparison.