Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days at the show for us, I think between Michael and myself we’ll probably see 20 games during that span. That might not sound like a lot but there’s quite a bit to keep straight. Here’s the highlights of my Saturday appointments.
Hand Of Fate 2
Oftentimes the ideal way to make a sequel is to not reinvent the wheel. A lesson the Titanfall series is learning pretty hard right now but something Defiant Games, the makers of Hand of Fate, seem to have a good grasp on.
The dealer is back in Hand of Fate 2, and looking a bit more haggard after the events of the first game. You play as his newest protege and what better way to train to help him execute his revenge than with a nice relaxing game of cards?
While the core of the game feels largely unchanged there are some nice new additions perhaps the most notable with is your companion card who will not only grant you extra abilities in the card aspect of the game but will also assist you in combat.
The game’s combat sections are still largely influenced by the Arkham series but this time they feel smoother than before. These segments have also received the most noteworthy graphical upgrade. in the game, while most of the dealer segments feel like re-used assets.
The classic four card monte used for challenge checks is back but there’s also the addition of a new dice mini game where you attempt to score higher than a particular number. If you don’t get the desired outcome you can pick any number of dice to re-roll once. In my playthrough my companion’s special ability would allow me to spend gold in order to roll an extra die.
The RNG aspects of the original feel a bit softened but make no mistake, this is still Hand of Fate, players who were put off by drawing cards and rolling dice to decide their destiny will need to work through their issues if they want to go on this ride. Me though? I’m definitely looking forward to this one when it arrives next year.
Smash + Grab (PC)
Our disdain for MOBAs on this site is well documented. It’s just not really our jam. But when I heard that was the direction United Front Games (the developers of Sleeping Dogs) were taking their next release I had to make an exception.
Smash + Grab is a melee focused online battle arena where two teams of three duke it out in a trashed dystopian city. The game follows a similar philosophy to recent releases like Overwatch in that it’s not all about running in and racking up huge kill death ratios. Instead players focus on busting their way into the various shops littered around the map until they earn the game winning sum of money: $50,000. Killing other players does net you some cash, and it give you quite a bit in the late stages of the game, but I found early on it was better to avoid other players and instead focusing on buffing up your gang and upgrading your weapons.
Oh, that’s right, you have a gang! In what is perhaps the most unique aspect of an already unique game, you’ll find yourself the head of a posse of characters that you bring along with you to the fight. Each player has a set of AI partners who will follow them into battle, helping to take on other players as well as looting stores.
This make’s clashes with other players feel like all out street brawls. It also means that even if you’re not great at the game’s combat you’ll still be able to knock out some AI opponents and contribute in some way. Speaking of combat this is the developer of Sleeping Dogs we’re talking about here, and you’ll definitely feel echoes of that game while battling others. The game has something akin to a rock, paper, scissors model where you can choose to attack, block, or grab, and each one can serve as a counter to another.
Smash + Grab will be heading into early access later this month, with a closed beta taking place in the very near future, something you can try getting into by visting playsmashandgrab.com.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
I’ve spent some time with Sniper Elite before but never really bothered with its somewhat similar rival, the Ghost Warrior series. The first thing I noticed after spending just a few moments with it is just how much more technical the sniping in this game is. Not only do you have to worry about controlling your breath before taking a shot, but you’ll also be dialing in different settings on your scope to make sure your shots actually hit their mark.
Of course you don’t have to be a Sniper, and the game is not shy about throwing enough enemies at you to make you more flexible in your strategies. I started my mission by exploring the vicinity with a small flying drone who was able to tag out most of the enemies in the rail yard I was attacking. I started out quietly, sniping a few lone enemies and lining up a particularly satisfying double kill.
For the first time the series will be going open world, allowing players more freedom than ever before to explore and tackle objectives as they see fit. I can’t speak too much on this aspect as my demo really just focused on one particular mission, but you definitely get the sense that this game will have a lot more depth than its two predecessors.
The game is running on the CryTek engine and it looks great. There was some slowdown on the build I played but that’s probably to be expected until the studio is able to make some optimization passes. Having said that I might be wary about picking this thing up on consoles. You shouldn’t be sniping with a controller anyway, to be fair.
The Fall Part 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U)
The original release of The Fall snuck under a lot of people’s radar. Don’t get me wrong, lots of other people found and enjoyed it, and right now the game is sitting on top of a pretty great “Very Positive” score on Steam. The Fall Part 2 resumes the adventures of the first game’s AI ARID who now finds herself trapped inside a global network as she attempts to find her original body.
Visually the game is similar to its predecessor with some noticeable improvements made to the engine. There’s some new gameplay to behold as well, I particularly enjoyed an early segment in the demo that has you engaging in hand to hand combat with enemies in a fashion reminiscent of One Finger Death Punch.
ARID’s rather unflinching personality hasn’t changed, and once again she’s putting others into undesirable positions and states of mind in order to achieve her own goals. This unique and somewhat unconventional approach to the primary protagonist is something I really enjoyed in the first game and I’m glad to see the tradition continued here.
The story for the game’s demo has been carefully carved in order to prevent spoiling the actual story that will be presented in the final game, so I can’t make a lot of comments regarding how this serves as a continuation of the original. Nonetheless this is a second part, not a sequel, and so you’ll definitely want to make sure you get around to playing the original if you haven’t already.