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bitparade: Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax (Vita)

Handhelds and fighters are generally a bit of a mixed affair, that’s not to say they don’t work, but its only natural that when you have a slight cramped input device, then you’re not going to necessarily be able to deliver as full an experience as you would in an Arcade or console environment. There’s also the difficulty in generating that all important competitive nature that’s so integral to the success of games within this genre, by limiting yourself to a handheld you almost limit the player to playing against the AI. Now admittedly we do have online modes these days, but it can be tough putting together accurate online code that doesn’t throw up additional problems of its own, and its in these area’s that the Vita version of Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax suffers.

Released over all three of Sony’s current platforms, the Vita version is, fairly obviously, the one that is likely to gain any following. Thats not because its a bad game, its pretty much mostly down to the suitability of the system. The d-pad and face buttons are far too compact for the games reliance on quarter-circle combinations to work making it even less useful as a training tool, nor is it really viable as a good place to start with the genre. It’s unfair to criticise this particular title for this, but all too often games within the genre are far too reliant on the player being an old hand and able to handle themselves, knowing each games variation on commands and being able to spot the seperate skills and techniques that differentiate something like an SNK Playmore fighter from a Capcom one (as an example). Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is no different, there’s no tutorial and the practice mode doesn’t even let you display combinations required to pull off each characters moves outside of its designated menu area let alone record your inputs so you know you’re doing things correctly.

So why would anyone purchase this over, say, Blazblue? It’d be purely down to fan loyalty and aesthetics, ignoring the platform for the time being, the elements that’d attract anyone to this particular release would be down to them being a fan of manga publisher Dengeki Bunko (whom are responsible for manga and anime such as Sword Art Online and Durarara!!) from which characters appear within Fighting Climax to battle it out. SEGA fans may be mildly interested in the locations and music being taken from a handful of the developer/publishers titles plus an appearance from two famous faces from the Virtua Fighter series (Akira appears as an unlockable characxter, as an Assist Character, whilst Alicia from Valkyria Chronicles also appears as an Assist Character) but its not a huge amount of content that would make this an essential purchase for anyone other than die-hard fans of either company.

It”s a shame that Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax feels so hampered by its content, theres an additional story mode that sits alongside the main arcade mode, your standard versus mode just incase you know someone else with a Vita and an online mode, which holds up surprisingly well, I had no problem actually finding games here and had far more success at keeping a connection than I have done with previous fighters on the system, but unfortunately, it all just feels so thin.

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bitparade: Senran Kagura: Estival Verus (PlayStation 4)

This is the second time I’ve covered a Senran Kagura game, having reviewed 2014’s Nintendo DS title Senran Kagura Burst. Back then I made a note that there was an element of fun to the side scrolling beat-em up, even if it was incredibly repetitive and rather embarrassing to play. Those values still apply 2 years on and its now harder to escape that feeling of embarrassment with a full blown console release. But its that just judging a book by its cover?

Well, sort of. You see a huge part of what makes Senran Kagura Estival Versus is the level of titilation that is thrust upon the player, at every turn the game seeks to take advantage of its all female cast, with clothes being torn during battle, video sequence depicting their clothes disappearing as they transform to their Shinobi forms, dialogue that plays upon harem anime tropes (theres on character in particular that is pretty obsessed with the other girls’ breasts), ridiculous physics that invoke memories of Dead or Alive and a rather revealing and/or fantasised wardrobe collection. In this post-Feminist Frequency world it all feels rather crude and a little unnecessary. I mean I like boobs as much as most men, but Senran Kagura Estival Versus is basically one of those mouse mats with an anime girl print and �wrist support�.

And yet, its kind of fun. Once you get past all the dialogue sequence (which can be skipped and aren’t essential for actually playing the game) you’re presented with a 3D brawler. OK, its more Koei-influenced than Platinum, which isn’t particularly a bad thing. Theres normally a large amount of enemies on screen at any one time and you soon rack up a large number of comboes, and the actually battle system is fairly varied and has an approachable level of complexity, allowing you to mix up the normal standard + hard attack comboes with wall runs, specials, aerial dashes and projectiles, amongst other things. Each girl wields a different weapon and thus has a different fighting style with some being much faster than others, for example. Unfortunately, whilst all this is pretty good stuff, its all attached to a bunch of enemies who seem to want to wait for you to attack them. This could be put down to the number of foes involved, but even boss fights (which usually pitch one girl from a group against another) see your sole enemy backing off and waiting for you to attack rather than taking any initiative and challenging you, which means the only aspect of the combat mechanisms you really need to master is the timing on the parry, get that nailed down and nothing stands in your way, particularly as it stuns surrounding foes leaving you open to beat the crap out of everything without answer.

Personally speaking, and I refer back to Dead or Alive with this, in particularly the Xtreme offshoots, one of the things I think is really lacking is a point to the exploitation nature of the game. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you kitting out all of the girls in the skimpiest of outfits, right from the start you can have them running around in their underwear if you so wish, at least Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball encouraged you to try and develop a relationship with the other characters to get to that point, it’d also add some involvement for the player during some of the lengthier dialogue sequences if there was some sort of relationship aspect to the game, providing a bit more depth to the entire experience. As it stands, Senran Kagura Estival Versus is little more than a weaaboo version of a Tecmo-Koei game, there is an enjoyable brawler within the (un)dressing of titration, but its a pretty difficult obstacle to climb unfortunately.

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bitparade: Republique (bitparade)

Back in the early 2000’s certainly after the release of Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Ubisofts Splinter Cell, it felt like any third person action game had to include a section of the game that required you to be stealthy. These were often the weakest aspects of those games as it tended be something that both changed the pace of progression and asked the player to do something that felt against the nature of that particular game up until that point.

Whilst playing Republique, I’m reminded of this time, not because of any �shoe-horning� of a game type into something else, but because its been a while since I’ve played anything remotely like this. The player is initially tasked with aiding Hope escaping from a prison cell and the building she has been entrapped in and to do this you have to avoid the detection of guards using a combination of the games default camera settings and Hope’s mobile phone that has an app installed to allow her to control CCTV camera’s to gain an advantage over her captors. It all sounds needlessly complicated but, having been initially developed for mobile platforms its genuinely not, you can happily ping around the various cameras in each room/hallway, get an idea of your surroundings,m investigate any items of interest that appear and the navigate Hope to the nearest exit.

You see, Hope needs to escape, her reasons aren’t just because she’s been incarcerated, but that she is also going to be recalibrated, she has gained access to literature that those in power deem to challenge their Orwellian control over the populace and they will use any means necessary to keep the people from uprising the oppression they have been placed under. In some respects it reminds me a little bit of another early 2000’s era game, Ubisofts Beyond Good & Evil, this is down to a number of things, the use of camera’s (admittedly done differently between the two as Jade in BG&E; is documenting the oppressors actions rather than escaping from them), the game having a female lead character and the fact you tend to be in a rather defensive position rather than a need to be on the attack all the time, avoiding confrontation is usually (or in Hopes case, pretty much always) the best option. It also feels a little French, which I cant explain why, but the game feels like the kind of work we would have seen from Ubisioft prior to them just becoming a publisher that releases an Assassin Creed or Tom Clancy game every year. I suppose the develop, Camouflaj, being from Canada plays some part in that (although I only discovered that after beginning to write this review).

I actually really like Republique, although I struggle to play it for long periods of time, even though it is broken down in an episodic nature I find it difficult to play through a good chunk of each episode in one sitting. I’d say this is partly down to the games rather oppressive atmosphere, you want to free Hope, just because the game and its setting does everything in its power to make you feel that way. I also think that my struggles with it are also down to its very mechanics, the camera’s aren’t always clear and its sometimes difficult to know what a guard is doing as they move behind scenery that you just cant get a good view of add in that Hope isn’t the easiest character to control, whilst the pace of the game is reminiscent of stuck behind someone in a town centre who just wont move out of your way and let you get on with your business. There’s room for improvement here, but Republique, as a rather rare example of the stealth genre now, is actually a decent attempt at an entry into the genre and certainly rises above elements that used to get tacked onto other games, like that ridiculous stealth section in Atari’s Fahrenheit.

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bitparade: Corpse Party: Blood Drive (Vita)

I think I should start by stating that I haven’t played the previous two titles in the Corpse Party series and in actual fact I didn’t even know of the series until I started covering Blood Drive, with this in mind I don’t inte4nd to be particular judgemental of the overall story, but I am also kind of aware in the changes of gameplay from the previous instalment to this one.

Getting that particular part of the review out of the way first is key, Blood Drive plays in a similar manner to top down dungeon crawling RPG’s due to the developers decision to take this particular instalment down a 3D route rather than the previous titles more interactive novel approach. This is where my comparisons using my lack of any real knowledge beyond Wikipedia end. I will say though that despite being pushed as a horror title, the games 3D appearance and use of chibi-esque character designs detracts from the scares somewhat. It’s hard to find a large headed, small bodied ghost squealing like a baby as it floats towards you as something that is scary, and its only the immediate threat of harm that makes you concerned for their appearance.

It’s also at odds with the descriptions presented to you during the games long story and conversation dialogue moments. Things will be described that just don’t measure up when performed by the 3D characters and there are a few moments where events that are played out are contracted by the lack of change in those character models, this is exacerbated by the use of manga character art that appears during all of the story driven moments.

Corpse Party: Blood Drive is littered with numerous aspects that aren’t what one would consider to be good videogame design. For starters dialogue goes on for far, far too long, this isn’t something I’m normally bothered about, after all I’m a huge fan of Atlus’ rather dialogue heavy Persona series, but more often than not it feels like Corpse Party is either over explaining itself or the writers just don’t understand when to stop and let the game be played. Once it does allow the player free reign theres quite a bit of enjoyment to be had from the games hide and seek kind of gameplay. As you explore the alternate dimension school that the games plot takes you to (and which the characters are returning to from the series second instalment) you will find that you have to avoid various traps whilst also avoiding ghosts (even hiding in closets from them in a rather Metal Gear Solid-esque fashion), this is where the game is at its strongest. The school itself is rather crudely designed and takes some getting used to whilst you find your bearings due the lack of map which kind of adds to the tension of discovering a ghost. You can also rid yourself of such pests by using talismans to dispel them, butt he core mechanic revolves around running away and hiding until the threat has passed.

The lighting model doesn’t always help you avoid traps, there is very little light within the school and you will find yourself reliant on your torch, especially in new areas whilst you figure out where the various traps are. However the batteries on the torch do drain and you will only find a few replacements littered around during each chapter, I never actually ran out but I was really frugal with the amount I used my torch, mostly because I could never tell when it was likely to run out due to the games like of HUD. There are no on screen bars to tell you when your health, battery or stamina is low and its usually through character driven cues that you notice that you need to address a particular situation (i.e. not sprinting as much, instead relying on walking, as your character begins to stumble a bit).

The thing is, Corpse Party: Blood Drive, isn’t a good game, the lack of HUD, odd decisions over its presentation, weird mechanics and overly tedious interactions between characters that aren’t particularly interesting, plus the lack of being scary in any particular way, should all mark it out as one to avoid. And yet I found myself wanting to return to it time and time again just to edge a little further on each play, I genuinely found it intriguing and oddly morbidly amusing. I’m certain thats not the developers intentions though.

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bitparade: Persona 4: Dancing All Night (Vita)

We’ve waited a while for this. Okay, so since its original PlayStation 2 release back in 2009 (for Europe) we’ve received a re-release (P4 Golden on Vita), 2 fighting games and the Persona 3/Persona 4 dungeon crawler crossover Persona Q, but this one, Persona 4: Dancing All Night, has always felt like its a little further away from release than we’d like. Well, not any more as its out now, but does it live up to that wait?

Well, um, kinda. Persona 4 fans will get a kick out of seeing their favourite characters again, but unfortunately it still feels like a bit of a let down and this is down to a handful of reasons. But first we’ll start off with how the game plays. If you didn’t already know, Dancing All Night has removed almost all signs of its JRPG roots, instead the focus here is placed squarely on Shoji Meguro’s excellent soundtrack, its probably the praise the soundtrack received that led to the games development and after nigh on 90 hours with Persona 4 Golden I can hardly blame them. The jist here is that another shadow realm has opened up, and something within is once again playing upon peoples insecurities, however fighting doesn’t doesn’t do any harm in this realm, dubbed the Midnight Stage by the cast, instead we take a jump into Rise’s world and the cast have to dance their way to uncover the mystery put before the reformed Investigation Team.

This is all played out in a similar manner to the Story mode that accompanied both Arena games, and it can feel a little text heavy, with characters often repeating what’s been happening a number of times before the action moves on and you’re thrown into the actual gameplay. Said gameplay revolves hitting the directional and face buttons in time with the music, matching the required input at exactly the right time to get a variety of ratings dependent upon accuracy. There are also icons that require you to flick one of the Vita’s analogue sticks, these aren’t essential but do increase your combo and allow you to launch Fever mode, which all adds up to increasing your score at the end of the round. None of the tracks are particularly difficult on the games Normal difficulty setting, even for someone with very little rhythm such as myself, although they cam get punishingly difficult when played in the games solo mode when you increase that difficulty.

Unfortunately, the game doesn’t really do Meguro’s excellent soundtrack justice, a lot of them are remixes of the tracks you know and love from Persona 4 but they just don’t really seem to translate well to this kind of game. The lack of visual input does little to help matters either, the performances of Yosuke, Teddy, Rise and co aren’t affected by how well you’re doing, so aside from a small UI element at the top of the screen, theres very little to indicate when your performance is going down the toilet other than seeing the �Miss� text pop up whenever you miss an input.

It’s nice and all seeing the gang back together, as a fan of the series that was enough for me to get something from the game, its one of those casts of characters that are just enjoyable to spend time with, and the writing for their relationships is almost as good as it ever was (although the overall level of writing, much like with the Arena games, isn’t at as high a standard as it has been with the RPG releases, in fact Teddy, once again, suffers most here), its just unfortunate that Persona 4: Dancing All Night feels exactly like the fan service product that I hoped it wouldn’t be.

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bitparade: Dungeon Travellers 2: The Royal Library and the Monster Seal (Vita)

It’s becoming a bit of a habit to discuss the visual appearance of many of the games that we cover on Vita, in fact it often feels like that despite its portable nature the Vita isn’t a system you’d want to be seen in public with. Which is a huge shame, its a disappointment that developers fill their games with fan service in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator (both in their home nation and here) just so they can share a few units. It’s led to many enjoyable titles looking rather homogenised with every game featuring the same cookie cutter characters, and unfortunately Dungeon Travellers 2: The Royal Library and the Monster Seal is no different. Its full of female characters that fit all of the stereotypes that have become apparent in Japanese RPG’s and anime over the past decade or so, and with you playing the only male character it soon becomes apparent where the games focus will go as its attempts to build relationships between the characters.

With all of that out of the way, and that is indeed this games, and many others available on this system, weakest point, lets head on to the game itself. Again, its hard to ignore that we have another first person dungeon crawler on our hands here, which whilst an enjoyable genre in its own right, has also become over-saturated on the handheld systems.

Where Dungeon Travellers 2 differs from other games of its ilk is that it doesn’t appear to want to punish you with a solid wall that comes completely out of the blue, it eases the player in with dungeons that gradually become larger with slightly more difficult enemies and whilst it still challenges you and you may feel like stepping back to grind a lower dungeon for a while, it never really makes you feel completely out of your depth. Although it does take an absolute age to explain any and all of its different options and setups. The most interesting of which kind of encourages you to grind. Whenever you battle your party will effectively absorb the creatures you have defeated, once you have absorbed enough of one type of monster you will then be able to create a Seal Book for one member of your party to equip, these Seal Books will either offer a stats boost or some buffing element. They can also have a negative effect on party members too which you can use to your advantage if you understand how.

The battle system takes place over two rows, encouraging you to place weaker characters at the back and change formation depending upon the need for ranged characters, it all feels a little more inclusiv e and on the fly than other titles in the genre. Magic attacks often have to be charged, thus balancing out just how strong they are, they can also be interupted if the charging character is attacked before they can cast their spell, encouraging you to close ranks and defend that party member. Its for this reason that Dungeon Travelers 2 feels really well balanced as enemies dont tend to be extremely difficult just on a stats level if you build and use your party effectively, something thats been sorely missing from a lot of RPG’s for some time now.

In conslusion then, Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library and the Monster Seal suffers from many of the tropes that have really heavily infected the genre over the past few years, its unfair to punish this one title because of that, but by the same token it manages to re-introduce an enjoyable battle system and further entries into the genre ought to take heed of what it does do right. Its just a huge shame that its rather heavily weighed down in over-explanation, lengthy (and unamusing) dialogue and fan service.

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bitparade: Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo (PlayStation 4)

I’ve not paid attention to the world of Rally driving for a fair old while, actually not since Richard Burns sadly passed away have I actually followed it, thats probably more to do with its television rights issues than anything else. Still, the class has always made for excellent videogames of varying approaches, from the infamous SEGA Rally through to Codemasters more recent efforts and many more besides. Also, despite not following the discipline for a long while, I’m still aware of a few of its personalities, highest of which is definitely Sebastien Loeb, so it comes as no surprise that he’s got this particular game attached to his name.

First off, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo isn’t particularly light on content, racers will find they have over 300km of track available to them over 8 different rally locations plus 5 Rallycross tracks plus the most famous Time Trial event of them all, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Theres also around 50 cars from various power categories and era’s at your disposal, all of which have their own handling attributes. It’s a decent specification list for a racing game thats only really focused on one discipline, there’s also a couple of different game modes, including a career mode that has you working your way up to becoming the number 1 driver in the world as the titular Loeb’s prot�g� and a mode that both introduces you to Sebastien’s own career and challenges you with taking on the same events he partook in to get to where he has, minus a few elements that don’t fit in with the games discipline such as his involvement with the LeMans 24 Hours or World Touring Car Championship.

Whilst content is important, its nothing if a racing game is a pain in the arse to play. This is where things get muddy as Rally Evo’s handling model is incredibly off putting at first, its incredibly twitchy and feels far too responsive when at speed, it also feels far too easy to clip a bit of scenery and roll the car causing you to lose an incredible amount of time. Fortunately this can be undone by the games inclusion of a rewind mode, for which you get 6 tokens per race. Back to the games handling model, yet its twitchy, incredibly so initially, but I found the best approach was to use the bumper camera and make lots and lots of tiny constant adjustments on the steering, acceleration and even the braking, it feels much like you’d imagine from any in-car footage you’d find on YouTube. It takes some getting used to too, but once you do, the feeling of speed is exhilarating, and in actual fact the way in which the cars are so twitchy and the environments deadly reminds me of the original V-Rally and how challenging that was to handle back in the day but again, how rewarding it was as a speed freak once it all began to click.

Even once you’ve gotten used to the handling model, Rally Evo is still a challenge, obviously different cars with different set ups will require different approaches to this technique, this mostly comes down to the games various stages with different terrain also providing you with a challenge. Its much more difficult to throw the car around hairpin bends sideways, for example, on tarmac than in almost any other driving game that I recall playing, whilst the twitchiness is exaggerated further by the snow covered events. Getting the start right is also key in some of these events as you can find yourself spinning up the tyres for too long at the start if you apply too many revs.

Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo isn’t a must-have racing game, its certainly not either platforms strongest driving experience either, but it is rather enjoyable and really gets the adrenaline pumping as you throw your car around desert courses, kicking up sand behind you and launching all four wheels off a bump in the road before trying desperately to slow down for a 2 Right Hairpin Turn.

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bitparade: Legend of Legacy (3DS)

It often feels to me that despite the current love for all things retro (especially graphically!) there’s a distinct lack of old-school JRPG’s missing from the market. I’ve said this to others and have been told that Bravely Default is what I’m looking for, I’ll have to admit I’ve still not got around to grabbing a copy of that. However, for all intents and purposes Atlus’ Legends of Legacy looks like it could be the plug for that hole. Or is it?

Things are a bit odd in Legends of Legacy, it definitely ticks the boxes for being old-school. It encourages exploration, has a fantastic looking land to explore, feels traditional and has an excellent turn based battle system (more on that in a moment). However, developer FuRyu have made some notable alterations to that familiar formula. There’s very little in the form of structure, you’re given the basic outline of a story and then left to your own devices to go and explore, you don’t acquire additional party members, the entire troupe is available to use within the first couple of hours and levelling up has now been assigned to the battle systems formation system. It makes for an odd but interesting experience.

That battle system is the games focal point, you’ll head off to a new location intent on exploring and opening up the entire map (which can then be sold), battling rather bland enemies as you go. Aside from the beasts, which mostly appear as a variety of shadowy blobs, the game looks utterly gorgeous, so the lack of imagination in the appearance of enemies when you’re battling is a huge let down for an area you’re going to be spending a lot of time in for a couple of reasons. The first is that its actually rather interesting, even if its not really explained particularly well by the game itself. Your party members can occupy one of 3 places in battle which then defines how the battle goes. You can change the formation at the start of each turn and experience is applied to your character’s stance within that formation once the battle has finished. This in turn enables you to acquire move sets for each weapon you’re wielding which also allows you to balance some of the more traditional style jobs for the genre (which aren’t named within the game but its pretty obvious once you’re beginning to progress that you’re developing a tank, a healer etc. based upon your approach to each and every battle). The battle system is most definitely Legend of Legacy’s saving grace, if it weren’t for the fact that you will definitely find yourself having to be in battles far too often just to be able to be strong enough to head to new areas then it’d be almost reason enough to stick at the game.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, its been applied to a game that doesn’t really want you to progress. There’s a decent script with some very basic but likeable characters here, but they the lack of any thorough plot or hook just leaves any potential that they or the games stunning world have utterly wasted. Its one thing to have an excellent battle system, after all its the one part of these types of games you always have control over, but there’s nothing here to really tie it to. Which is an utter shame, there’s the building blocks of something really promising here, and FuRyu should be commended for trying something different whilst trying to appeal to traditionalists but Legends of Legacy is, sadly, a failed experiment where I cant help feel like the creators lacked a bit of direction and just maybe needed to be reeled in just a little in order to tie the whole thing together.

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bitparade: LEGO Marvel Avengers (PlayStation 4)

Since 2005 we have seen the release of 21 LEGO themed video games from Travellers Tales, ranging from the original LEGO Star Wars through a variety of popular licenses including Harry Potter and Batman. We’ve already had one Marvel themed game from the studio, but that was its own set adventure, this time out the focus is quite squarely aimed at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With this in mind, you’ll find yourself playing through elements of most of the movies released from Captain America: The First Avenger up until and including Avengers: Age of Ultron.

That’s a lot of ground to cover, the Harry Potter franchise was split into two separate games. It’s also a rather large number of characters, over 100 in fact, although 13 of those are different suits for Iron Man alone. Unfortunately it also means the omission of a bunch of fan favourites, notably the FOX and Sony movie characters, so Spider-Man, the X-Men and (thankfully) the Fantastic Four (I really disliked using them in Marvel Super Heroes.

The formula is the same as ever, work through each level beating the crap out of everyone and everything to release a whole bunch of LEGO studs and solve simple puzzles using the different characters abilities to progress through the level and unlock more content. I find it all to be kind of fun in small doses but I’ve never been one for games that put a lot of focus on collecting things, although the chance to play a game as using Ms Marvel, Wasp, Captain Britain or Squirrel Girl (all of whom aren’t MCU characters but are unlockable here) is enough to keep me chipping away.

LEGO Marvel Avengers features a handful of over-worlds, the biggest of which is once again Manhattan, here you can take on extra mini-quests and even be involved in solving random crimes that happen whilst you’re running around, it makes the game feel surprisingly lived-in, although getting around is a bit of a ball-ache as the vehicles are horrible to control. That’s one of the many problems I’ve always had with the series and the other two key ones that irritate are still here and have been for as long as I remember. The way the split-screen works has always been an issue for me.. The fixed vertical split leaves very little room for being able to see what’s going on whilst the reactive split-screen, where the split moves with the character, feels sporadic and far too intrusive and in my humble opinion the entire franchise would work better if bothy were dropped and you both had to stay within the confines of the screen, its not like you’re allowed a lot of freedom to go off wandering when in the structured levels, although the hubs they’ve introduced in more recent titles would definitely be affected.

The other thing that gripes is the games checkpointing. It often feels sporadic, and in a franchise that feels like its aimed at family members who want to play together, it leaves something to be desired that you may have to abandon the game at times that the game doesn’t want you to forcing you to replay whole chapters, which grates when you’ll find yourself having to return to every section of the game later on anyway in order to unlock everything. As I say, these are all issues that have been apparent for a long, long time now and with the schedule being roughly two titles per year or thereabouts, plus with Dimensions being a thing, it’d be nice to see them being addressed rather than each and every game feeling like a re-skin. I recently went back to the original LEGO Star Wars and whilst there’s been a lot of stuff added over the years, there’s still a hell of a lot of things that felt broken then that feel broken in Marvel Avengers, which considering the 11 years or thereabouts between them, is a ridiculous situation to be in.

That’s not to say that there isn’t fun to be had with this release, as per usual, if you’re a fan of the subject that’s being covered you’ll find plenty of content to keep you happy and the little jokes are as amusing as ever. But its just annoying to be criticising a series for the same thing again and again,

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bitparade: EDF2: Invaders from Planet Space

We’ve already covered one EDF game this week, which happens to be the most recent one. Ben was less than enamoured with it, he tried in vain to grasp what it is that has resulted in the series having a rather vocal fan base, but ultimately it just wasn’t for him. So its now up to me to give Earth Defence Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space a try, a remake of a remake from what I understand, being based upon Global Defence Force from the PlayStation 2 which was then re-released on the PSP as Earth Defence Force 2 Portable and now carries the aforementioned suffix �Invaders from Planet Space� for its Vita release.

Off the bat, it ticks a lot of boxes that are immediately attractive to me. I really rather like cheap B-Movies about alien invasions, I find their campiness to be rather endearing and the fact that this has a bit of a sprinkling of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds plus a coating of Kaiju and I should be in heaven really, but despite all of this the whole concept feels completely and utterly wasted.

The gist is that you are given a mission, this mission is usually to see off a wave of ridiculously sized insects or alien craft, all of which is set within the confines of a city with some recognisable monuments. London is quite clearly London, you can’t really miss Westminster and the Houses of Parliament whilst shooting down hordes of gigantic ants. Even so, the cities themselves are rather sparse and unpopulated, there’s no real agency to drive you on and prevent the invasion. You’ll occasionally get a handful of civilians trying to flee, but overall, it doesn’t feel like the emergency situation that’s playing out over the radio waves as you unleash lead into a bunch of jumping spiders.

That last point there sounds fun enough, but that’s literally all there is to it. Keep firing until your clip is empty, reload and carry on, keep doing so until you’ve cleared every red mark off of your radar, make sure you pick up as many dropped items as you can as you do so, then carry on to the next mission. There’s very little in the way of interactivity and it just makes the game feel like its in its very early stages of development (this isn’t helped by the visuals, but apparently one shouldn’t criticise EDF’s visuals…). It really does feel like the player should be given more to do, hell something like Burning Rangers on the archaic SEGA Saturn provides the player with more agency and that games older than my children’s ages combined! When you look at how the action genre has evolved it feels like there’s just too much missing from the core gameplay and EDF2 becomes a procession of doing the same thing again and again. None of the enemies require much in the way of a change of tactics, after the first wave of missions were done (in which you’re gradually introduced to a few different types of creature to kill) I was introduced to my first Kaiju. I was hoping that this would require me to focus on a weak spot or that I would have to think about the fact it was rampaging through what looked like a suburb and try and contain the damage, but it was yet another exercise of pumping as much ammunition as I could into the beast until it eventually fell and died. There’s not even an element of point scoring or leaderboards, and whilst there is a choice of difficulties on offer the only difference to them is just how much damage each creature takes before it eventually falls, which itself is nullified by the vast amount of near identical weapons that you can pick up for later missions as you play.

I’m actually kind of thankful I played this on the Vita, reading through Ben’s review its hard to not be appalled that he records issues of slow down when there’s a bunch of explosions on screen, the same thing happens in this release but is kind of more excusable because of the platform its on. It doesn’t become unplayable but it is noticeable, as is the fogging and pop-up which happens closer to the player than I think is acceptable. If Sandlot had have fixed that then the other stuff may have been a bit more excusable, because on this platform I can see its 5 minutes of game per mission being perfect, there’s no real need to be invested in long protracted cut-scenes and it’d almost work as a pick up and play whilst waiting for the kettle to boil (insert other short wait here). Its for this reason alone that I’ve scored this particular version of EDF a little higher than Ben’s PS4 review, because quite frankly, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the game itself.