Vermintide Review – Rats in the Belfry

Disclaimer: The keys for this review were provided by the developer, Fatshark Games.

Well this one took me longer than expected as I wanted to get a decent play through of the release version of Vermintide, and unfortunately a weekend with intermittent internet coupled with the recent patches to the game (and some downtime of the central servers) hampered that for me.

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Never fear however, connectivity has been restored and I’ve been able to get in some rat bashing to give me a decent perspective on Fatsharks Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide.

If you haven’t done so already, you can read Kris thoughts on the Vermintide beta here, and my thoughts here, then on top of that my first thoughts on the launch can be found here.

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Vermintide Launch – First Thoughts

Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide officially launched on the 23rd of October. Unfortunately I was away most of the weekend so didn’t really get chance to sit down and play much of it, and I’m still playing catch up for a full review.

That said however, of what I have played so far  since launch, all of the positive items covered by Kris’ first look as well as my own still stand. The combat still caries that same weight, and the game play is still ridiculously fun!

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Star Wars Battlefront Beta: Disappointingly Average

I decided to take a break from Wildstar and Destiny this weekend to give the Star Wars Battlefront beta a try.

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Being a Sci-Fi geek its pretty much a given that I’m a big Star Wars fan, and although I haven’t touched a battlefield game since Battlefield 3, I do have fond memories of that series of games, as well as the original Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefront II.

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Vermintide: Jason’s Thoughts

As Kris mentioned here in her article, we were lucky enough to get access to the Vermintide beta this week, something I personally was really looking forward too, as being a bit of a Warhammer fan, I’ve been looking forward to Vermintide since it was first announced.

Warhammer The End Times Vermintide

For those not in the know, Vermintide is a first person survival game set in the Warhammer classic universe, during an event called the End Times, the Warhammer worlds cataclysmic apocalypse. The short of it is the forces of chaos, thanks to their Everchosen, have started to invade the world, and are planning on wiping out everybody. Because Chaos.

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Firefall Beta Starts Now

Firefall is a team-based shooter / MMO hybrid under development for the PC by Red 5 Studios; a studio founded by Mark Kern, former team lead for World of Warcraft.  The game will be free-to-play once launched.  To take part in the beta, sign up for an account: beta invites will be issued in waves.

The latest Dev Diary details how player actions will affect the roll out of new content in the game:

The game is set in a future Earth, where the promise of a new clean energy source leads to the arrival of a hostile energy storm called the Melding, that engulfs most of the world.  A bloodthirsty race known as The Chosen has also emerged and threatens humanity’s survival..

Players can choose from three battleframes: assault, medic and recon, each of which can be customised with different weapons and loadouts.  These are equipped by the player’s character, so you can switch between battleframes too.

Firefall has both PvP objectives and cooperative PvE missions.  PvP consists of Team Deathmatch, and a Sabotage game mode, which has teams take turns being on offense or defense, with three different points to capture and hold.  Confirmed PvE missions so far include a Thumper mission, where players defend a mining machine against waves of enemy creatures while it gathers resources, and Rescue missions, for which no information has yet been released.

Firefall has no set release date; as players join the beta and play, the team collect feedback and continue development of the game, with plans for the game to be rolled out ‘organically’, rather like Google’s Gmail service.

Demoing Darkness

This week, the demo for The Darkness II, by Digital Extremes and 2K Games, was released on Steam, Xbox LIVE, and later, the PlayStation Network.

Player-character Jackie Estacado is the don of a crime family, as well as the owner of a demonic power called The Darkness.  After the death of his girlfriend, Jackie has tried to control The Darkness.. but it wants out!

Jackie is also being hunted by others who want The Darkness for themselves, and the demo starts with a scene of Jackie being crucified and beaten in order to try and force him to give up his powers of his own free will..

Earlier events have Jackie going to a restaurant and meeting some girls before one of them is shot and a car rams its way through the wall, crushing Jackie’s leg and foot.  This results in Jackie himself having to be dragged away by a henchman while he shoots the enemies who have come to capture him..

This bit was on rails, but I found the shooting fun, with plenty of enemies appearing from all around.

Once outside, though.. that’s when The Darkness put in an appearance! 🙂

One of the new features of this game is quad-wielding: Jackie can use firearms while still manifesting powerful demon arms, unlike in the previous game where you used either The Darkness or guns.

The demon arms are powerful enough to pick up enemies, who you can then execute or throw away to their deaths; other items can also be picked up and thrown too.  I got extra points for impaling an enemy with a thrown bit of scaffolding.. very Bulletstorm 🙂

There are also bonus points for different executions.. and lifting an enemy into the air with one arm and then splitting them in two with the other does feel rather powerful!

Once out into the street, car doors can be torn off and used as a shield while you shoot it out, or you can throw the door itself at them if you prefer.  All these abilities are available via different buttons on the keyboard or mouse, and while this saved me from having to switch between active abilities, I found the use of middle-click strange and slightly uncomfortable.

In the first Darkness game, there were a range of Darkling types with their own unique abilities: Beserker, Gunner, Kamikaze and Lightkiller.  In this game there is just one Darkling with some importance to the story and gameplay.  He is able to help out in fights, interact with the environment around him, and scout out areas for Jackie.. more of an ally than expendable minion this time.

Certainly, he is rather unique.. as well as having an affected British accent, he’s wearing a Union Jack for a jumper and has a dead cat on his head..

Upgrades for Jackie’s various abilities can be acquired at various Dark Shrines.  Essense can be spent on various abilities or improvements via the talent tree, and I was pleased to see that you can spread the points around or specialise as you wish!  I’ll be taking the extra-strong demon arms, thanks 😉

Man Vs Machine: Review

Man vs Machine is a browser-based FPS, designed as a world-record attempt and tech demo by MuchDifferent.

The aim is for 1000 players to simultaneously battle it out as either Man or Machine: Man is equipped with an explosive projectile dealing splash damage, whilst Machine uses piercing, precision lasers to deal damage to single targets.

First up, the main site was unable to take the strain, and had a Google redirect slapped on it.  I found a mirror; a page with unstyled CSS but most importantly, the option to get in and play.  I managed to get in (as Man) long enough to see a mass of machines under shields on the horizon..

I fired a shot or two before the connection dropped.. I got one kill, anyway.

I reconnected, and was placed on the side of the Machines where I was killed as soon as spawn-protection was over.  This happened over and over, and I don’t think I even killed a single enemy.

Man has splash damage, meaning they only needed to keep firing in the direction of the Machines to guarantee a kill, while Machines have to wait for the shield to disappear before firing, find a target and aim.. and then hope to hit something.

Machines are bunched up in groups, there is no cover, and nowhere to run out from to try and flank the humans.  I feel the Machine’s model is too large as well, as your allies all-too-effectively block your view of the enemy.  A larger map might allow players to get out and move around, and let this be a bit more fun.

Sure, this is a world-record attempt and tech demo – but this wasn’t even close to fun to play as a Machine.

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