PopMuse: Console Games http://popmu.se Musings of stuff en-us Copyright 2007-2020 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ Minecraft Dungeons review – hours of fun for locked-down families https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/may/26/minecraft-dungeons-review-hours-of-fun-for-locked-down-families https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/may/26/minecraft-dungeons-review-hours-of-fun-for-locked-down-families Tue, 26 May 2020 12:05:39 UTC Keith Stuart at Xbox | The Guardian Mojang Studios; Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One (version tested)This retro-tinged hack-and-slash spinoff has plenty of Mojang character and humour – not to mention baby zombies and charming references to the original MinecraftWhen the idea to make a Minecraft spinoff was first batted around at Mojang Studios, a dungeon crawler game must have been one of the first suggestions. From Gauntlet to Diablo, this genre has always featured dank subterranean lairs, treasure chests and warrior skeletons – all beloved Minecraft components. The signature blocky visuals also work well, ensuring that Minecraft Dungeons will look familiar to fans as they hurtle through dioramas of hack-and-slash fun that rearrange themselves each time you play.The plot is paper thin: a vengeful loner discovers a treasure that turns him into a powerful mage and duly begins a reign of terror over the Minecraft kingdom. The game can be played alone, but it is most enjoyable to play its co-op mode, which can be enjoyed on a console or online. In this mode players work together to bring down waves of skeletons, slime monsters, and giant spiders, reviving fallen allies as they go. With four players taking part, each equipped with magical weapons, the screen is soon awash with arrows, explosions, lightning bolts and freeze rays in a confusing but exciting light show. As Gauntlet veterans will recall, it’s the hidden rhythms of this genre that are really delightful; the anticipation of the next wave of enemies, the anarchy of battle, then the delicious gluttony of loot collection. Related: Minecraft at 10: a decade of building things and changing lives Minecraft Dungeons is out now; �16.74, or included with Xbox Game Pass. Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ 'Transcendentally boring': the joy of job simulation games https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/may/25/job-simulation-games-farming-trucking-bus-driving https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/may/25/job-simulation-games-farming-trucking-bus-driving Mon, 25 May 2020 07:00:44 UTC Keith Stuart at Xbox | The Guardian From farming to trucking to bus driving, why do millions play games that replicate regular jobs in forensic detail?There is no escape for me this time. The rear axle of my pick-up truck is wedged on a boulder protruding from the mud in the middle of a deserted backwater road in Michigan. I’ve tried to attach a winch to a nearby tree to pull myself out, but it’s not working. I will have to abandon the vehicle, fit up another and try again. This load of timber is not going to deliver itself.I am playing Snowrunner, the latest in a series of painstakingly authentic offroad delivery simulator games in which players have to haul goods through a variety of unforgiving landscapes at speeds that would shame a garden snail. Before each trip you have to select exactly the right vehicle for the job, fit the correct tyres and work out your likely fuel consumption to the nearest millilitre. On the frozen roads of northern Alaska, there is no room for shoddy planning.In an unpredictable world, it is calming to open the doors of a bus at the right time, to give the correct change Related: Meet the real-life farmers who play Farming Simulator Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ Assassin’s Creed Valhalla among 13 games announced for Xbox Series X https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/may/07/assassins-creed-valhalla-xbox-series-x https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/may/07/assassins-creed-valhalla-xbox-series-x Thu, 07 May 2020 15:58:09 UTC Keith Stuart at Xbox | The Guardian Xbox livestream showcases new titles designed to support the advanced features of the forthcoming consoleMicrosoft has revealed 13 games coming to its Xbox Series X console when the machine launches this winter. In an hour-long presentation, streamed live on Thursday, the company announced that well-known titles such as the recently announced Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as well as Madden NFL 21 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon, will all be on Xbox Series X.Also featured was Paradox Interactive’s vampire adventure, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. Codemasters presented its racer DiRT 5 complete with impressive lighting and mud splatter effects, and an option to run it in 4K at 60 frames-per-second or in a lower resolution at 120fps. Namco Bandai showed a new anime-style sci-fi thriller named Scarlet Nexus, about a group of psychic law enforcers. Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ Beyond Blue review: Blue Planet II, the game https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/may/06/beyond-blue-review-blue-planet-ii-the-game https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/may/06/beyond-blue-review-blue-planet-ii-the-game Wed, 06 May 2020 12:00:54 UTC Keza MacDonald at Xbox | The Guardian iPad/iPhone (PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions forthcoming); E-Line MediaRealistic marine-diving game shines a light on the deep oceanA mellow and overtly educational game about marine wildlife, Beyond Blue is an opportunity to submerge yourself in the expansive beauty of the Western Pacific. Futuristic technology enables our marine scientist to scan creatures, track whale calls and withstand the crushing pressures of the deep ocean as she follows a pod of sperm whales through seascapes taken from the BBC’s Blue Planet II, from shallows to open ocean to the toxic deep-sea brine pool that gave me nightmares for weeks after seeing it on TV.Atmospheric though these watery places are, there’s no peril in this version of deep-sea diving, even when you try to manufacture it. Attempts to swim directly into the gaping mouth of a humpback or provoke a hammerhead shark yield nothing but the odd visual glitch. You can admire the impressively realistic sea life at leisure, panning drones around creatures to record their songs and examine their markings. Nonetheless, do not expect an entirely chill time beneath the waves. Inevitably for a game informed by the actual state of our oceans, there’s a touch of sadness here. Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ Gears Tactics review – brains meet brawn in strategic spin-off https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/30/gears-tactics-review-gears-of-war https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/30/gears-tactics-review-gears-of-war Thu, 30 Apr 2020 14:00:57 UTC Rick Lane at Xbox | The Guardian PC (version tested), Xbox One; Microsoft Game StudiosIt wouldn’t be Gears of War without gore, and combining strategy with viscera dispersal aplenty, this cerebral twist on an old favourite remains true to formBloody sci-fi shooter series Gears of War and the term “tactics” may not seem like natural bedfellows, given that these games are best known for their macho space soldiers and chainsaw machine guns. Yet strategy has always played a far bigger role in the games than may be initially apparent. After all, the key innovation of the titles was to add cover-and-fire manoeuvres into a fast-paced action game. Gears Tactics simply inverts the emphasis. Whereas previously the tactical layer existed to complement the action, here all that gore greases the cogs of a smart and fiercely entertaining strategy machine.Set before the original Gears of War, Gears Tactics sees players control squads of soldiers led by two veterans of its seemingly eternal conflict: walking chin Gabe Diaz and weaponised moustache Sid Redburn. Together, they seek to eliminate a troublesome general of the Locust Horde, a race of brawny subterranean monsters who have taken over Earth. Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ Xbox Game Pass subscriptions hit 10 million https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/30/xbox-game-pass-subscriptions-hit-10-million https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/30/xbox-game-pass-subscriptions-hit-10-million Thu, 30 Apr 2020 13:35:13 UTC Keith Stuart at Xbox | The Guardian Pay-monthly service sees huge surge in players and gaming time due to Coronavirus lockdownMicrosoft has announced that its Xbox Game Pass subscription service has passed 10 million members. The initiative, which adopts a similar model to Netflix and other streaming platforms, gives subscribers unlimited access to more than 100 Xbox and PC games for a monthly fee.Commenting on the figure, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that use of Game Pass, as well as the company’s online multiplayer gaming service Xbox Live, had increased substantially in recent weeks due to Covid-19. “Since March, Xbox Game Pass members have added over 23 million friends on Xbox Live, which is a 70% growth in friendship rate,” he said. “Game Pass members are also playing twice as much and engaging in more multiplayer gaming, which has increased by 130%.”We saw record engagement in gaming this quarter:• Xbox Live has nearly 90 million monthly active users• Xbox Game Pass has more than 10 million subscribers • Project xCloud has 100s of thousands of active users in preview across 7 countries, with more coming Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ BBC and Sky show Fifa 20 matches as world sport goes online https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/apr/24/bbc-and-sky-show-fifa-20-matches-as-world-sport-goes-online https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/apr/24/bbc-and-sky-show-fifa-20-matches-as-world-sport-goes-online Fri, 24 Apr 2020 13:31:00 UTC Alex Hern at Xbox | The Guardian Esports and video games including ePremier League fill vacuum left by coronavirusCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageOn Saturday afternoon, Sky Sports viewers will be treated to the semi-finals and final of a new football tournament, with an impressive array of players including Raheem Sterling, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Wilfried Zaha.But the tournament, which is also being aired on BBC iPlayer, will be different to previous televised competitions. Due to Covid-19, it will be held in the Fifa 20 video game over two hours. Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ How to re-discover video games as a bored grownup https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/23/how-to-re-discover-video-games-as-a-bored-thirtysomething https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/23/how-to-re-discover-video-games-as-a-bored-thirtysomething Thu, 23 Apr 2020 10:46:20 UTC Caroline O'Donoghue at Xbox | The Guardian Coronavirus. Self-isolation. This is the perfect time for gaming. But what if you haven’t played since Grand Theft Auto was young? Here are seven optionsThe best arts and entertainment during self-isolation Coronavirus and culture – a list of major cancellations Things are bad. But in many ways, we are in exactly the right time period for this specific brand of badness. Imagine having to stay locked in your house in 1910, with only the Bible to read and the Pears Soap ads for erotic visual stimulation. We’re lucky in that there’s limitless culture available, and the only barrier is our lack of focus. Focus is difficult in a quarantine, because while you might have every intention to sit down and watch Roma, inevitably, you will pick up your phone and check how many coronavirus-related deaths there are in Lewisham, and that’s the evening gone.Video games have the distinct advantage that they are harder to be distracted from. You can’t check your phone if you’re trying to outrun a nightmare demon in Wandersong. Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ From Fortnite to Fifa: 100 great video games to play in lockdown https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/11/100-great-video-games-fortnite-fifa https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/11/100-great-video-games-fortnite-fifa Sat, 11 Apr 2020 06:00:08 UTC Keith Stuart, Keza MacDonald, Stuart Dredge and Jordan Erica Webber at Xbox | The Guardian From being a goose on the loose to controlling whole galaxies, here’s a world of experiences for all the familyModern Toss on video games ...The cinemas may be shut, the gig venues closed, but there is one place you can still meet your friends and be entertained without leaving your house: the world of gaming. For many of us, it has been years since we could really justify spending all day in our pyjamas slaying virtual dragons – now that way of life, for some at least, is a little less frowned-upon. But if you’re returning to serious gaming after a few years away, where exactly should you be spending your valuable money and time? Here are no less than 100 highly recommended titles, from family favourites to epic sci-fi sagas – all available on current platforms, be it PC, smartphones or consoles. Whether you want to be moved, terrified, relaxed or intellectually challenged, alone or with pals, we’ve got more than enough here to keep you occupied until you’re out and about again … Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ Why Apex Legends has kept me playing for 500 hours https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/09/apex-legends-almost-perfect-shooter-game https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/apr/09/apex-legends-almost-perfect-shooter-game Thu, 09 Apr 2020 06:54:12 UTC Keith Stuart at Xbox | The Guardian Striking a perfect balance between friction and flow, could this battle royale hit be the perfect shooter game?That’s it. I have now played Apex Legends for over 500 hours. The online multiplayer shooter, developed by Californian studio Respawn Entertainment and released in February 2019, has been my obsession all year, seeing off a variety of pretenders from Doom Eternal to Animal Crossing: New Horizons.To the casual observer, there’s nothing remarkable about it. Set in a science-fiction universe tied to Respawn’s successful Titanfall series, it is another title in the battle royale genre alongside the Goliath that is Fortnite, as well as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Call of Duty: Warzone. You land in a hi-tech future landscape with two team-mates and then you scramble about, finding weapons, while 19 other teams try to kill you and everyone else. The last team left alive is the winner. Continue reading... http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/