Doom 2016 Review

Developer: ID Software & Bethesda
Publisher: Bethesda
Music: Mick Gordon
Release Date: 13 May 2016
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Xbox, PS4, Switch
Genre: First Person Shooter

Doom starts in a research facility on Mars owned by Union Aerospace Corporation and run by Dr. Samuel Hayden whose mind lives in a robot after losing his body to brain cancer. Researchers at this facility have been attempting to draw energies from hell, an alternate dimension inhabited by demons, to feed the energy hunger on earth. This has allowed travel between the dimensions. After several expeditions; claiming relics, demons, they finally find the sarcophagus containing the Doom Slayer and his suit. The Doom Slayer being imprisoned after his previous rampage through Hell.

After one of Dr. Hayden’s researchers make a pact with the demons, releasing them and opening a portal between the dimensions, it is at this point Dr. Hayden releases the Doom Slayer out of desperation. After returning the Doom slayer must now do what he does best and continue his rampage and stop this hellish infestation.

Doom is a breath of fresh air within the first person shooter genre, by going back to the roots and following the example set by its predecessor. Focusing solely on the first person shooter elements and the enemies. With a wide range of weapons to use, each being more or less effective against the certain types of enemies that you are tasked with slaying. Each weapon hosts unique secondary abilities and upgrades that allow for each weapon to a soul role in your rampaging crusade, be it helping you clear smaller minions or taking on the bigger once. 

With a wide range of weapons you also need a lot of different enemies to use them on, Doom features both old enemies like the pinkies but also new once like the summoner. Each giving you a different and unique threat for you to deal with, some old ans some new. Doom features an extraordinarily satisfying finish and staggering system letting you stagger an enemy by hitting them enough times in the head, making them flash red or blue to which you can end their suffering in a very, VERY gruesome manner. 

Doom wouldn’t be whole without it’s soundtrack, composed by the legendary Mick Gordon who also worked on games like Wolfenstein the new order and old blood. The soundtrack for this game is simply amazing. Being a heavy metal soundtrack that will literally make your blood boil, be it while slaying demons or enjoying a cup of tea in the morning. Making you truly feel like THE DOOM SLAYER! The sound effects and voice acting in this game are a solid fit, from the character dialogue or the backstory you can really feel the emotion. 

Being a game about guns and demons, it’s important to talk about the elephant in the room. Creating a gun that feels both real and fulfilling is really hard. While I think Doom did an amazing job, giving each gun personality. There were times where I felt that I would have wanted somewhat more of an ‘umph’ when using them. However, this might have been because the soundtrack alone made my adrenaline peak.

Doom is everything you would expect from a Doom game and more, as you play it is hard not to get sucked into a literal blood rush. Through the whole experience you feel like a demon slaying bad ass with nothing stopping you. The game’s narrative and lore is a bit cliche but with an interesting take, never really being the focus but being a nice side dish to enjoy with the demon slaying. 

The game play is superb putting a focus on the gun play, the movement and adapting to the situation. Jumping in to this experience as a newbie or a veteran will not change how rewarding this experience feels. The soundtrack is so good I’ve been listening to it non-stop since I started playing the game. While I was a bit underwhelmed by some SFX in the game, I was still totally engrossed.

Reviewed by William Haumann @William_Haumann on March 1st 2020

GDC Postponed, Animal Crossovers and Valorant

GDC Postponed amid COVID-19

Game Developers Conference which is the largest annual conference for game developers the world over has now announced that the event shall be postponed until the concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID – 19) can be mitigated. Event organisers announced, “After close consultation with our partners in the game development industry and community around the world, we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone GDC this March.” The conference will be postponed until a date later in the year. Both Sony and EA have stated their disappointment in the cancellation however expressed their understanding of the health concerns. Despite the cancellation some developers and event runners will be going digital such as the GDC Awards and the Independent Games Festival which will be streamed on Twitch on the original dates of the 16th to the 20th of March. Looks like GDC will still run to some capacity in the virtual world.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal are coming out on the same day March 20th

Both game companies have decided to create crossover content to celebrate their shared day of release. All this attention to its shared release date has encouraged Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizon Twitter pages to exchange affection and fans have decided to make a strange little video showcasing their unlikely friendship. The animation by pixel artist Inx displays a day in the life of the Doom Slayer and Isabelle is they swapped places. The Doom Slayer gathers fruit, helps neighbours and goes fishing. Meanwhile Isabelle is destroying hordes of demons and crushing hell spawn. Looks like both games are taking advantage of the promotion the release date offers. If you’d like to check out the animation click here.

League of Legends developer Riot Games creates their first FPS called Valorant

On March 2nd Riot Games unveiled Valorant which has previously been code named ‘Project A’ with a video showing 3 minutes of gameplay. Valorant appears to be a fusion of CS: GO and Overwatch, combining tactical gunfights with specialised character abilities. Riot Games currently operates one of the biggest games in the world League of Legends and is their only release in the past 10 years. However, Riot Games have released spin offs from League of Legends it’s only now that Riot looks at a First-Person Shooter. With a strong focus on the competitive market if Valorant does well we could see another esport not too far in the future. If you’d like to check out the game-play footage click here.

Speaking Simulator

Release Date: Jan 30 2020
Developer: Affable Games
Publisher: Affable Games
Music: Dan Sugars & Andrew Curnock
Genre: Party game, Simulator
Platforms: Switch, Windows, Mac

Speaking Simulator is a hilarious experience focused around the simple art of speaking. The game follows an anxious robot who is trying to infiltrate human society by doing his best to fit in by doing everything ‘human’ from going on dates, getting promotions at work and having conversations with co-workers. However this robot has not fully mastered the art of social interactions, which feels surprisingly familiar while playing. The robot stumbles on words, struggles with eye contact and does it’s best to act normal however, things tend to spiral out of control!

Speaking Simulator features an experience that really immerses you in the awkwardness of social interactions. It really shows off many elements from the day to day interactions we have that we tend to gloss over. The game focuses on these situations whilst playing host to a solid experience that challenges the player and never makes you feel stupid for failing. At the start of the game, the player is given control over two elements of the social interactions. These being the tongue which is shown by a live footage box on the side and controlled by one of the joysticks. The other one is the lips, where the player can extend or retract them both horizontally and vertically.

The game guides the player on what to do with green arrows and lights making the experience feel like a lock picking experience or a pattern matching mechanic. This creates a stressful, multi-tasking party where you can’t do anything but laugh at the ridiculousness going on. This is only enhanced as you progress through the game, gaining access to more and more features. For example one of them gives you control over the eyes, forcing you to be aware of the time you’re having eye contact with the NPC in front of you.

One of the key parts in Speaking Simulator is without a doubt the sounds. Speaking Simulator takes this very ‘seriously.’ While you definitely understand what is being said, you are still left laughing at the hilarious sounds that come from the robot’s mouth no matter what. This being partially thanks to the amazing dialogue that has been crafted. The music goes hand in hand with this lighthearted experience. There are nice tracks consistently playing in the background making me reminisce on older comedic titles and their silliness.

Speaking Simulator features solid game play that left me feeling both challenged and aware of all the little things I do in my day to day interactions. While being grateful for that, the Zed Games Crew and myself were laughing hysterically at the pure silliness of it all. The game play is nice and simple but quickly ramps up in difficulty, the best way I can think of describing it would be. Having a drink platter starting with one beer, then, half way through balancing 10 shots, a wine bottle and 20 beers. In general the in game audio and sound effects all feel silly and lighthearted easing me into the fact that I shouldn’t take this game seriously and just enjoy the goofiness.

Reviewed by William Haumann @William_Haumann on March 1st 2020

Coffee Talk Review

Developer: Toge Productions
Publisher: Toge Productions
Music: Andrew Jeremy
Platforms: PC (Mac/Microsoft), PS4, Xbox One & Nintendo Switch
Released: 30th January 2020
Genre: Interactive Story, Adventure, Indie, Talking Simulator

Coffee Talk is a beautifully designed 2D pixel game where you play as a barista in a café seemingly only ever open at night called, “Coffee Talk.” As the barista you follow the lives of many individual’s who enter the café. Set in the rainy U.S. city of Seattle 2020 the world is a little different from the way we know it to be, most of the different characters you meet are either elves, orcs, vampires, human or something else entirely. Throughout this wonderfully written narrative you discover the reason for these supernatural elements, they help represent the ethnic differences in our world. This allows the developers to dive deep into heavy issues such as racial stereotypes, biases and other identities. By doing this in a fantasy environment, Toge Productions can showcase many different struggles people face and how they overcome adversity.

Essentially Coffee Talk enables chit chat both deep and light-hearted, which I guess, is exactly what you do when having a coffee with a friend. The most frequent customer of the café is Freya, a young journalist that writes short stories and reports for the local paper called, the Evening Whisperer. As the player you read this paper at the beginning of each new day, starting from the 22nd of September bringing new stories and new recipes to uncover.

This wonderfully chill talking simulator provides a very cruisy style of game play allowing the player to take it easy or explore the many simple and narrative relevant mechanics. As you are introduced to new or returning customers, they place an order where you are required to fill that bill. With a shelf displaying a variety of different ingredients ranging from Green Tea to Ginger you must create the most appropriate beverage for that customer. Coffee Talk is very forgiving if you get the order wrong the customer usually doesn’t mind or asks for you to try again.

As you progress through the game more ingredients and ways of making coffee are introduced to you. Nothing happens particularly fast in this game so there is minimal overwhelm when it comes to learning new things, this game is SUPER chill which is perfect to play on a rainy day indoors. One of the bigger challenges for me personally was Latte Art. I can’t say I was very good at it before Coffee Talk yet it’s such an ingenious feature. It can be tricky to get the hang of in the beginning but isn’t a crucial element of the game’s end goal however, you should still have a go.

Some other features that add to the atmosphere of a ‘chill late night café’ is the smart phone device you carry which holds different apps for you to access. They help you learn more about the customers you meet or assist you with making new types of drinks. There’s the Tomodachill which is basically the Facebook of the Coffee Talk universe, Brewpad which shows you a list of recipes and what drinks you have left to discover, as well as New Stories which is the Evening Whisperer app keeping you up to date with all the latest news. Another little feature that I personally love is the ability to auto-play the text dialog, there are large sections of just dialog and to be able to lie back on the couch and simply click a button to play through the text without having to smash ‘A’ all the time is a really nice touch. If by chance you aren’t using the auto-play feature there’s even a button to review all the dialog that’s gone by, just in case you’ve missed something.

Imagine café music. Now imagine 2bit arcade music. Now put them together. That’s pretty much what Andrew Jeremy has done with this super retro yet chill soundtrack. Every song has this soothing and lazy feel about it. His soundtrack makes reading loads of dialog feel like you are enjoying a good book on a lazy day. A really nifty feature to complement Andrew’s music is on your smart phone device in the game is an app called Shuffld which emulates a music streaming app playing all the different songs from the Coffee Talk Chill & Smile Soundtrack. You can pause, skip or select a specific song from this playlist at any time, making choosing that perfect rainy day café song so much easier.

The sound effects are just as gentle on the ear as the lounging café music. When making a coffee the soft hissing of the Barista Machine and the little clucks and clinks of the cups just add ever so nicely to the atmosphere. Overall the sound is a peaceful daydream.

Coffee Talk is this dreamy, warm, little place where you can listen to interesting stories, learn more about individual struggles and take it easy with a warm latte. Everything from the music to the simple phone apps help make this fantasy feel homey and cosy. The story is fascinating, with so many different characters to remember, it’s the right amount of chill on any rainy day. I highly recommend this game for anyone who likes to take it easy and is very narrative driven. Thanks, Toge Productions for such an intimate laidback indie gem.

Reviewed by Evie Gibbons @EVIEZGAMES 25th of February 2020

Banned FIFA Player, COVID-19 Precautions and Screen QLD Grants

EA FIFA pro streamer gets banned

Kurt Fenech ‘Kurt0411’ has been kicked from FIFA competition last year however, abusive and threatening behaviour still followed. Fenech has had a rocky relationship with EA and was banned in November 2019 for persistent abusive behaviour toward the company during livestreams as well as on social media. After he was banned this behaviour continued from Fenech’s supporters and FIFA community social media accounts were hacked. Fenech showed little remorse for the situation in a video addressing his ban in 2019. Fenech says in this video that, “Anyone who plays videogames has shouted slurs at their opponents, especially in FIFA. The difference is I have a live camera.” Due to Fenech showing no intention to change his behaviour EA not only banned him from FIFA competitions but also from all EA games and services. Since then Fenech is stated that he isn’t going to go away quietly. Fenech also posted on his Twitter account the details of his ban from EA. Hopefully EA can find a resolution to this situation before it gets even more out of hand.

Overwatch League matches cancelled due to the coronavirus

Not long after cancelling matches in China, Blizzard has now postponed another three weeks of Overwatch League games only this time in South Korea. This comes after the continuous spread of COVID-19 aka coronavirus. The Overwatch League made an official announcement on Twitter stating, “In order to protect the health & safety of our players, fans & staff, we are cancelling plans to host #OWL2020 matches in South Korea in Weeks 5, 6, and 7 including the Seoul Dynasty home event.” The Seoul Dynasty Event was to be hosted on the 7th and 8th of March however has been postponed indefinitely as South Korea has the highest amount of coronavirus cases outside of China. Overwatch League isn’t the only esports event suffering from the potential threat of the virus League of Legends League has postponed Week 2 of the LPL and PUBG cancelled its first major event of the year. Of course, all of this is to ensure the health & safety of the players and fans.

Screen Queensland is going to fund more video games

Screen Queensland is going to open a new round of funding for studios with up to $50,000 per grant. Queensland has been supporting local games since 2013 with a good record of success for developers, Screen Queensland has funded games such as Damsel, Speaking Simulator, Blueberry as well as upcoming games such as Unpacking.

For developers looking to apply you must make sure you meet this criteria:

  • Lives and works in Queensland
  • Is an Australian resident working with someone in a key creative role
  • Has a Producer or Line Producer who is a Queensland resident
  • Can provide the required documents for the program they are applying for
  • Owns the rights to the story they are telling
  • Has read and complies with our Terms of Trade
  • Click here to apply for the Grant.
  • Click here for the Specific Guidelines for Funding.

C&C Rivals Review

Developer: Visceral Games, EA Redwood Studios
Publisher: EA
Music: Austin Wintory
Platforms: Android, IOS
Release Date: 4 December 2019
Genre: Real-time strategy

Command & Conquer Rivals is not a heavy narrative driven game. However, the Command & Conquer series which this game is based on, is very rich in narrative and backstory. The game never specifies when it takes place, but it follows the same conflict as previous games have. The conflict in question is a war between the secretive and worldwide organisation known as the Brotherhood of Nod and the UN funded organisation: “Global Defence Initiative” or GDI.

C&C Rivals is a real time strategy game where players face off in a 1 vs 1 match. The map is fairly small but consists of 1 base per player and between 1 – 4 platforms that each player can take control of. If one player holds most of the platforms a nuke is placed in the middle of the map and will start its launch attack on the opponent. If launched, then it does 50% damage to the player who has been hit. This being the main way of taking out the enemy. There are also toxic mineral fields around the map that players can harvest from to gain minerals which are also generated consistently throughout the game.

Outside of the real time matches the player can build up a pre-set army consisting of cards. These cards represent what type of unit the player will be able to deploy, and they have 6 spots to fill. These cards are gained through playing and finishing quests or a limited amount of trading. Each of these units follow a simple good against or weak against system like rock paper scissor. Meaning that a tank for example is very strong against vehicles but won’t do much damage against anything else. Players can play as either the GDI or the NOD both of which have unique units and abilities to call upon.

The game features the classic kind of music that you would expect from any Command & Conquer game, being very heroic but systematic. This however, like its predecessors fits so very well into the genre. Making you feel like a commander, guiding your army to victory! The sound effects are clear, and each unit feels personal. Troops like the infantry feel very light through their SFX while troops like the mechs feel heavy as they move.

Command & Conquer Rivals is a solid real time strategy game. Allowing for interesting, fast paced and rewarding game play. Through my whole experience I never felt that I was at a disadvantage, but every situation was on me.  If I made a smart play where I managed to out play my opponent, it felt extremely satisfying. Yet the moments where I got absolutely crushed made me feel like I could have done better. I did have a bit of a gripe with the monetization in the game feeling a bit forced to pay in order for me to play seriously in the late game. The price point for this was about $15AUD which for a game who gave me over 20+ hours of enjoyment was definitely worth it!

Reviewed by William Haumann @William_Haumann on February 20th 2020

Diablo and Overwatch Netflix Series, Halo Combat Evolved and is PS5 The End

Diablo and Overwatch may be getting an animated TV series.

A post on LinkedIn from Activision’s co-president Nik van Dyk has revealed that Blizzard plans to adapt both Diablo and Overwatch however nothing official has been released yet. Nik van Dyk’s profile also shows his work history where it is listed that his worked on both Diablo and Overwatch animation projects, it states him as being the Executive Producer of the ‘anime style’ TV adaptations and that it will be distributed worldwide through Netflix. Both these series make sense to line up with Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 set to be released hopefully later in the year however no dates have been released yet.

Speaking of animated TV series Castlevania 3 on Netflix is set to release on the 3rd of March and not long after confirming the release date Netflix has released the first trailer. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons there are spoilers so have been warned. If you’d like to check out the trailer click right here.

Halo: Combat Evolved the very first Halo game has started its closed beta testing on PC.

If you have signed up to the Halo Insider program you may have an email with instructions on how to start playing now. If not, it’ll be too late to play however, there is most likely going to be more play tests for Halo: Combat Evolved and other Halo games. A sneak peak into what this closed beta features four campaign missions, multiplayer matchmaking, custom game modes and a sample of the customization options that will be in the final version of the game. Combat Evolved is the next in line for the Halo Master Chief Collection and is likely to come out on the anniversary of its original release date.

The Sony PlayStation 5 could be the last gaming console, ever.

Both Sony and Microsoft are set to release their latest consoles this year, however the cost is going to be much higher than previous generations. For Sony it’s been reported that it costs $450US to manufacture as per Bloomberg’s estimates. With that said it’s looking somewhere between $500 and $600US on release. There is speculation that this could end the PlayStation era. Whereas Microsoft and it’s Xbox is already looking forward to a future without consoles with its Project xCloud which is currently in the preview phase allowing players to stream more than 50 Xbox games on Android phones and tablets with Wi-Fi or mobile data. Xbox very much intends on releasing more games to this platform. There are currently 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, with Microsoft, Amazon and Google taking a punch at the cloud gaming space this could very well be the end of the console gaming generation.

For more news check out the Zed Games Facebook page @zedgamesau