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6 Jun 2024

REVIEW: F1 24 (2024 Video Game) - On Xbox

F1 24

Review by Jon Donnis

"F1 24," the seventeenth entry in the Codemasters' Formula One series, and the official video game of the 2024 FIA Formula One World Championship, introduces some noteworthy updates while carrying forward the legacy of its predecessors. With licenses for the 2024 Formula One and Formula 2 championships, the game aims to provide a comprehensive and immersive experience for racing enthusiasts.

One of the standout features of F1 24 is the revamped career mode. This year's iteration transforms the mode into a role-playing experience, where every action on the track influences your driver's overall rating. This update marks the first major overhaul since 2016 and adds depth to the gameplay by allowing players to manage their career trajectory actively. Performing well can lead to secretive offers from other teams, though these clandestine meetings come with the risk of losing the trust of your current team if discovered.

F1 24 allows players to explore multiple career paths. You can step into the shoes of one of the 20 real-life drivers, including popular figures like Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, or you can create your own driver. Additionally, the game supports a two-player career mode, enabling friends to either compete against or cooperate with each other. The revamped challenge mode offers specific objectives in quick, regular bursts, making it a less time-consuming yet engaging option for players with limited time.

The game's new EA SPORTS Dynamic Handling System introduces significant changes to the physics, especially concerning tire and suspension models. These adjustments are supposed to make the cars feel more realistic, demanding that players manage their tires as real drivers do. While this change adds a layer of authenticity, it has been met with mixed reactions, personally I found the new handling to feel much less intuitive than previous versions.

Visually, F1 24 continues to impress with detailed car models and accurately recreated tracks. The attention to detail extends to the audio, with authentic engine sounds and team radio communications adding to the immersion. However, the graphical improvements over last year's game are incremental, which might not justify an upgrade for players who own F1 23.

One of the significant downsides of F1 24 is the implementation of the "pitcoin" microtransaction system. Items that were previously unlockable through gameplay, such as different helmets and celebrations, now require additional payment. This shift feels like a money grab from EA Sports, especially when considering the game's initial price tag of nearly £60. The continued presence of the loot-box-driven, arcade-style F1 World mode also remains divisive among fans.

At launch, F1 24 has been plagued by numerous bugs, the most prominent being handling issues with the cars. While patches are expected to address these problems, releasing such a high-profile game with significant flaws is disappointing, especially from a company with the resources of EA Sports.

F1 24 brings some commendable changes, particularly the updated career mode, which adds a fresh dynamic to the game. However, it struggles with basic elements like car handling and is marred by the introduction of microtransactions for items that were previously standard. For players who already own F1 23, the new iteration offers little incentive to upgrade. The game does have its strengths, such as the career mode, however, the overall execution falls short of expectations.

If you're a die-hard F1 fan who hasn't purchased an F1 game in the past five years, F1 24 is a decent, albeit flawed, option. For those who already own F1 23, it might be best to wait for further updates or consider sticking with the previous game. Despite some positive additions, the game's issues with handling, microtransactions, and initial bugs make it a disappointing release, earning it a score of 6 out of 10.

Out now on all formats

26 May 2024

REVIEW: Indika (2024 Video Game) for Xbox


Review by Jon Donnis

"Indika" is a remarkable 2024 third-person, story-driven adventure game developed by Odd Meter and published by 11 Bit Studios, an independent studio originally from Moscow and now based in Kazakhstan. The game immerses players in a surreal and darkly humorous world where religious visions clash with harsh realities. It tells the story of Indika, a young nun who embarks on a life-altering odyssey with an unexpected, horn-headed companion, the devil himself.

From the outset, the narrative of Indika captivates with its intriguing and thought-provoking premise. The story begins in the confines of a monastery, where Indika's mundane life takes a dramatic turn when she starts communicating with the devil. This unlikely relationship sets the stage for a journey beyond the monastery's walls, thrusting her into a series of comedic and tragic events reminiscent of Dostoyevski and Bulhakov's novels. The game delves into profound themes of religion and authority, prompting players to reflect on these subjects as they guide Indika through her journey. The narrative is rich with striking imagery and dark humor, making the experience memorable and engaging. The balance of heavy themes with a peculiar sense of wit ensures that players remain engrossed from start to finish.

As a third-person adventure, Indika places a strong emphasis on its narrative, resulting in a somewhat linear progression. While this might limit the sense of exploration for some players, it ensures that the story remains tight and impactful. The gameplay features a mix of environmental puzzles and 2D pixel art mini-games, which provide a refreshing juxtaposition to the primary 3D gameplay. However, the puzzles are generally easy and might not satisfy players seeking a more challenging experience. The game starts off slowly, with the first level feeling somewhat tedious, but it improves significantly as the story progresses.

Visually, Indika is a feast for the eyes. The graphics during dream sequences, in particular, shine with engaging 2D pixel art mini-games that offer visual variety and delve deeper into Indika's troubled past. The main 3D environments are equally well-crafted, filled with hauntingly beautiful and bizarre landscapes that enhance the game's unique atmosphere. The audio complements the visuals perfectly, with a soundtrack that underscores the dark and whimsical tones of the narrative. The voice acting, especially for Indika and the devil, adds depth to the characters and makes their interactions more engaging.

Despite its linearity and relatively easy puzzles, Indika stands out for its compelling story, which is strong enough to keep players hooked. The game's unique blend of surreal, psychedelic elements and bleak humor, combined with high-quality graphics and a thought-provoking narrative, makes it a standout title. Indika invites multiple playthroughs, not just to uncover secrets and complete achievements but to savour the depth of its story. 11 bit studios and Odd Meter has crafted a truly unique experience that will linger in players' minds long after the journey ends. "Indika" scores a solid 8 out of 10, and is a must-play for those who appreciate story-driven games with a dark, humorous twist..

Out Now on Xbox

21 May 2024

NEWS: Hot and Fresh: June’s Must-Play Video Game Releases

By Jon Donnis

June is heating up with some of the most anticipated video game releases of the year! Gamers, mark your calendars and get ready to dive into new adventures, face formidable foes, and explore breathtaking worlds. Here are the highlights of what's coming to all gaming screens this month.

The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online Collection: Gold Road + Pre-Order Bonus PC
Fans of the acclaimed open-world adventure series, The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), are in for a treat with the release of the Gold Road collection. This new expansion introduces a gripping storyline featuring the return of a long-forgotten Daedric Prince. Players will venture through the perilous landscapes of West Weald, encountering challenges and uncovering secrets at every turn.

One of the standout features of this release is the innovative Scribing system. This new mechanic allows players to customize their gameplay experience like never before, providing ultimate control over abilities and tactics. The Gold Road collection promises to deliver the rich, immersive experience that ESO is known for, with plenty of new content to explore.

Originating from the rich lore of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series, which began with "The Elder Scrolls: Arena" in 1994, this online iteration has grown into a beloved MMORPG since its initial release in 2014. The Gold Road expansion continues to build on this legacy, offering both long-time fans and newcomers an exciting new chapter in Tamriel.

Destiny 2: The Final Shape

Destiny 2: The Final Shape + Annual Pass
Bungie's sci-fi shooter epic, Destiny 2, continues to captivate its player base with the upcoming The Final Shape DLC. This expansion promises to unlock the ultimate power for your Guardian, featuring a gripping new story campaign that will take players to the edges of the cosmos.

In The Final Shape, players will encounter three formidable new Supers, each offering unique abilities to master. The expansion also introduces an otherworldly new destination filled with mysteries to uncover and enemies to defeat. As always, there will be a treasure trove of new weapons and armor to collect, ensuring your Guardian is always prepared for the challenges ahead.

Destiny 2, which first launched in 2017 as a follow-up to the original 2014 release, has consistently evolved, with each expansion adding depth and complexity to its universe. The Annual Pass included with The Final Shape ensures a year of continued content and updates, making it a must-have for any dedicated Guardian.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree PC - DLC
FromSoftware's critically acclaimed action RPG, Elden Ring, is set to expand its already vast world with the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC. This expansion is part of the Deluxe edition, which also includes a stunning digital artbook and soundtrack, plus a thrilling bonus gesture for your character.

Shadow of the Erdtree promises to deepen the lore and expand the gameplay of Elden Ring, offering new areas to explore, new enemies to battle, and new mysteries to uncover. The original game, released in February 2022, was a collaborative effort between FromSoftware and fantasy novelist George R.R. Martin, which captivated players with its expansive open world and intricate lore.

This DLC will allow players to dive back into the Lands Between, experiencing new challenges and stories that enrich the Elden Ring universe. Whether you're a veteran of the game or a newcomer, Shadow of the Erdtree offers a compelling reason to return to this beautifully crafted world.

Get Ready to Play!
June's lineup promises to deliver some of the most exciting gaming experiences of the year. Whether you're an explorer in Tamriel, a Guardian in the cosmos, or an adventurer in the Lands Between, there's something for everyone. Gear up, pre-order, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime with these incredible new releases!

18 May 2024

NEWS: TAITO Milestones 3 Set to Thrill Retro Gamers with Nintendo Switch Release

TAITO Milestones 3

By Jon Donnis

ININ, in collaboration with TAITO, has announced the highly anticipated third installment in the TAITO Milestones series, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Scheduled for release in Winter 2024, TAITO Milestones 3 promises to delight retro gaming enthusiasts worldwide with a collection of over seven classic TAITO games from the late 1980s and early 90s. This venture, supported by HAMSTER Corporation, aims to bring the golden age of arcade gaming to modern consoles through the celebrated "Arcade Archives" series.

The announcement, accompanied by a new trailer featuring original music from the legends at TAITO, has already generated significant excitement among fans. The trailer hints at a vibrant and nostalgic journey through some of TAITO's most beloved titles, each carefully ported to retain their original charm while offering a fresh experience for both longtime fans and new players.

Classic Games Revived
TAITO Milestones 3 includes an impressive lineup of games that defined an era, offering a mix of genres and gameplay styles that showcase the diversity of TAITO's arcade legacy. Here's a glimpse of the first batch of games included in the collection:

Bubble Bobble (1986)
The iconic two-player co-op arcade game that introduced Bubby and Bobby, who use their bubble-blowing powers to traverse 100 monster-filled levels to rescue their kidnapped girlfriends. This title remains a beloved classic, known for its cooperative gameplay and catchy music.

Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2 (1987)
A direct sequel to Bubble Bobble, this game features Bubby and Bobby in their human forms, using rainbows to defeat enemies and save the inhabitants of Rainbow Islands from the evil Boss of Shadow. It's a colorful and engaging adventure that expands on the original's gameplay.

Rastan Saga (1987)
Players take on the role of Rastan the Thief in this action-packed platform game. Set before he becomes king, Rastan embarks on a quest to protect the kingdom of Ceim, battling various enemies and using a range of weapons like fire swords, hammers, and axes to defeat a monstrous dragon.

Cadash (1989)
An action RPG where players can choose from a fighter, mage, priest, or ninja to rescue Princess Sarasa from the evil Baarogue. This two-player co-op game combines elements of role-playing and side-scrolling action, requiring players to defeat monsters, collect riches, and upgrade their equipment.

Champion Wrestler (1989)
A wrestling game that puts players in the ring for eight rounds of intense action. Featuring technical moves, aerial techniques, and brutal weapons, Champion Wrestler offers both tag-team and 1v1 matches, ensuring high-energy couch co-op entertainment.

Runark (1990)
A beat-em-up game supporting up to four players in couch co-op mode. Players join a squad of rangers tasked with saving animals from poachers. The game is known for its dynamic combat system, allowing players to use a variety of weapons and hand-to-hand combat techniques.

Thunder Fox (1990)
A run-and-gun action game where players join the Thunder Fox anti-terrorism team. Featuring a mix of on-foot and vehicle combat, players can drive tanks, pilot autogyros, and ride marine jets to take down a terrorist organization.

A Nostalgic Journey Awaits
With TAITO Milestones 3, ININ and TAITO aim to transport players back to a time when arcades ruled the gaming world. This collection not only preserves the essence of these classic games but also introduces them to a new generation of gamers. The release on the Nintendo Switch ensures accessibility and convenience, allowing fans to enjoy these timeless titles anytime, anywhere.

As the release date approaches, anticipation builds for what promises to be a must-have collection for retro gaming aficionados and Switch owners alike. Whether reliving fond memories or discovering these classics for the first time, players can look forward to an exciting and nostalgic gaming experience this winter.


What? Sad that you don't see your favorite TAITO arcade classic? Well, it's not over yet! Stay tuned for more titles to be announced in TAITO Milestones 3 later this summer!

17 May 2024

Iconic Video Game Characters Who Wore Jewelry: A Look at Their Games and Accessories

By Jon Donnis

Jewelry in video games often serves as more than just an aesthetic choice—it can symbolize power, identity, and heritage. Here are some notable video game characters who wore jewelry that left a mark on both the character and the game itself.

1. Lara Croft - Tomb Raider Series

Lara Croft, the iconic adventurer from the Tomb Raider series, is known for her distinctive look, which includes a turquoise pendant necklace. This piece of jewelry is not just a fashion statement; it often holds sentimental value or ties to her past. The games, which span from 1996 to the latest reboot in 2018, revolve around Lara's adventures in uncovering ancient artifacts and secrets. Her necklace frequently represents her connection to her family and their legacy of exploration.

2. Princess Zelda - The Legend of Zelda Series

Princess Zelda from The Legend of Zelda series, created by Nintendo, is often depicted wearing ornate jewelry, including earrings and a royal tiara. These accessories highlight her royal status and magical heritage. In games like Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild, her jewelry is intricately designed, reflecting Hyrule's rich culture and history. The series itself is renowned for its deep lore, engaging puzzles, and the perpetual battle between good and evil.

3. Bayonetta - Bayonetta Series

In the Bayonetta series by PlatinumGames, the titular character Bayonetta wears a pair of distinctive, ornate earrings. These earrings are not merely decorative; they are imbued with magical properties that assist her in combat. The games are known for their stylish action, complex combos, and Bayonetta's charismatic and confident personality. Her jewelry enhances her witchy allure and plays a role in the overall gothic and extravagant aesthetic of the series.

4. Nathan Drake - Uncharted Series

Nathan Drake, the charming protagonist of the Uncharted series by Naughty Dog, wears silver fashionable cheap rings on a leather cord around his neck. The ring is inscribed with a Latin phrase translating to "Greatness from small beginnings," a nod to the explorer Sir Francis Drake. This piece of jewelry symbolizes Nathan's aspirations and connection to his adventurous ancestry. The Uncharted games are celebrated for their cinematic storytelling, breathtaking visuals, and thrilling treasure-hunting escapades.

5. Sephiroth - Final Fantasy VII

Sephiroth, the enigmatic antagonist from Final Fantasy VII, is often seen with a single black wing and an elaborate earring in one ear. This earring complements his mysterious and otherworldly presence. Final Fantasy VII, developed by Square Enix, is one of the most iconic RPGs, known for its compelling narrative, complex characters, and innovative gameplay. Sephiroth's jewelry adds to his menacing and ethereal appearance, enhancing his role as a powerful and unforgettable villain.

6. Geralt of Rivia - The Witcher Series

Geralt of Rivia, the monster-hunting protagonist of The Witcher series by CD Projekt Red, wears various amulets and necklaces, most notably the Wolf School medallion. This piece of jewelry is a symbol of his witcher school and also serves as a magical detector, vibrating in the presence of nearby magic. The games are renowned for their rich storytelling, immersive world, and morally complex choices. Geralt's medallion is both a practical tool and a significant emblem of his identity.

Jewelry in video games is often laden with meaning, reflecting the character's personality, backstory, or abilities. These accessories enhance the visual storytelling and contribute to the immersive experience that gamers cherish. Each piece of jewelry worn by these characters helps to weave a richer narrative, making the games more memorable and engaging.