Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4): The Police Procedural Team

Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4): The Police Procedural Team

Supermassive Games hit a brilliant note with 2015’s Until Dawn, and continued with Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. Now that streak continues with Hidden Agenda. Combining modern technology and an interesting story, Hidden Agenda is pushing the industry into new definitions of gaming.

Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4): The Police Procedural Team 5
Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image via Sony Interactive Entertainment Amerca and Supermassive Games

Hidden Agenda is more of an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure movie than a game. Designed to be played via the free Hidden Agenda app with as many as six people, Hidden Agenda offers players the opportunity to investigate and hopefully arrest the Trapper, a Jigsaw-like serial killer. Players mainly control Becky Marney, a detective assigned to the Trapper case. Players use the app by sliding their fingers around the screen to answer questions, investigate scenes for evidence and vote on story decisions. Similar to Until Dawn, the decisions made create a ripple effect that heavily influence the outcome of the story. While none of these elements are new, Supermassive Games combines them in an innovative way to create the industry’s most morbid party game.

Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4): The Police Procedural Team
Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image via Sony Interactive Entertainment Amerca and Supermassive Games

I call Hidden Agenda a party game, but there isn’t much partying to it. It’s a dramatic police procedural crime thriller adventure game—not the kind of game you crack open a bottle of wine for.  While the subject matter is heavy, Hidden Agenda is not as gory as Until Dawn or even late night television like American Horror Story, but it carries an intensity that rivals the most epic Law & Order episodes—a crazed serial killer slaughtering people, yet still tame enough for re-runs at 8 pm. The narrative itself is compelling. I did unlock many of the character’s bios, but I still felt driven to learn more about this case and the people involved. The Trapper is a truly fascinating character to study and I wanted to know as much as possible. It’s like watching the Saw franchise without getting to know Jigsaw. Players can learn the motives and back-stories of the characters, but something felt left unsaid, even though I was successful in my efforts to arrest the Trapper. Maybe it just needs a puppet on a tricycle.

Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4): The Police Procedural Team 3
Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image via Sony Interactive Entertainment Amerca and Supermassive Games

There are two modes, co-operative and competitive. In competitive mode, players will randomly be assigned a secret objective to complete which can sabotage the investigation—a hidden agenda one could say. In co-operative mode, players work together by voting on decisions. The majority must vote for the same choice in order for it to be accepted. If a tie were to arise, players must sway the others to their side. Maybe players should crack that bottle of wine. Decisions should not be made lightly, especially for players who will be haunted for not following their instincts. I still carry the heavy burden of losing those teens on the mountaintop in 2015.  R.I.P Josh.

Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4): The Police Procedural Team 2
Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image via Sony Interactive Entertainment Amerca and Supermassive Games

The visuals of Hidden Agenda are a haunting echo of Until Dawn. Supermassive Games has nailed their own dreary style to lend credence to a dramatic atmosphere with their ghostly colour palette. The character models represent this generation of technology well. The only thing that drove me batty visually was the lack of movement in Becky’s ponytail. It appears Supermassive Games paid attention to the little details except for that. It’s very stiff and unrealistic. It is possible that Becky just uses a ridiculous amount of hair product to sculpt her ponytail but that is unlikely. Hidden Agenda also suffers from some awkward scene transitions and a few disjointed animations, but this doesn’t detract from the overall experience.

The sounds of Hidden Agenda are well-suited to the atmosphere Supermassive Games is trying to create. The music mimics TV police precedents perfectly. The voice acting can be slightly underwhelming at moments of tension but otherwise believable. Becky is voiced by Katie Cassidy, known for playing Black Canary in the television series Arrow, you would think she could get a little louder when the situation called for it.

Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4): The Police Procedural Team 4
Hidden Agenda (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image via Sony Interactive Entertainment Amerca and Supermassive Games

Supermassive Games continues to impress me with their titles and they continue to embrace technology, pushing it into genres it wasn’t in before. How often do players get to solve a mystery together, where everyone’s opinions are valid and considered, not just the person holding the controller? I scream at the TV while watching Law & Order all the time, but they rarely do what I want. Hidden Agenda is short, but this twisted tale is worth the price of admission. Plus, players will venture back to impact the story over again. So let’s play a game, together.

Hidden Agenda was reviewed using “retail” PlayStation 4 download codes (or physical copy) provided by SONY INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more by Melanie Emile, such as her review of Surf World Series for the PlayStation 4 and her review of Cuphead for the Xbox One!

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Battlefield 1’s Upcoming Expansion Introduces French Tank Warfare

Battlefield 1's Upcoming Expansion Introduces French Tank Warfare

In Battlefield 1’s first expansion pack, titled “They Shall Not Pass,” Electronic Arts brings the French Army into their game that recreates the brutality of The First World War. The expansion will feature a brand new mode and two new Operations, playable across four new maps.

“Did you know the French army during WW1 led the beginning of tank warfare?” a press release starts about the new expansion. EA highlights that players will be able to engage in the largest French tank assault of the Great War, taking control of new weapons and vehicles like the Char C2 tank in a brutal defense of their homeland.

The four new maps are: “Verdun Heights,” an incendiary uphill battle through a massive forest fire toward the fortresses of Verdun, “Fort Vaux,” a big engagement inside a fort with dark galleries and wet stone corridors, “Soissons,” where The French 10th Army moves to take back Soissons using their planes and powerful Saint Chamond tanks in the early hours of a hot summer day, and “Rupture,” a poppy filled battlefield over a rusty wreck from previous tank battles along the Aisne river.

The new Game Mode, “Frontlines,” is a mixture of Conquest and Rush, where players fight for chained control points in a tug-of-war like battle. Both teams will fight for one flag at a time, leading into the enemy’s HQ control, at which point the game turns into a Rush-style section where telegraph posts need to be attacked or defended.

Other highlights of the new expansion pack include a new melee-focused Elite Class, the Trench Raider, who uses the brutal Raider Club and an impressive arsenal of grenades, and a new stationary weapon called the Siege Howitzer, which can be operated by an infantry player and operated through indirect aiming/firing like mortars and artillery in vehicles.
More detailed descriptions about “They Shall Not Pass” can be found on Battlefield 1’s official page.

Quantum Break Developer Branches Out into Multiplayer

Quantum Break Developer Branches Out into Multiplayer

Whether its curbing the unending onslaught of Nazi zombies, queuing in your favorite MOBA, or planning the same raid with your guild, multiplayer has spread to nearly every corner of gaming. Studios that focus solely on the single player experience are few and far between. With titles like Alan Wake and Quantum Break, Remedy has been delivering some memorable single player titles since its birth in 1995. While solo campaigns are their specialty, the studio announced its intent to throw its hat in the realm of multiplayer.

“We will always strive to be the best storytellers we possibly can, and want these stories to be shared and elevated through players’ cooperation,” stated Remedy in a blog post on Sept 15, 2016. “We believe that a multiplayer experience combined with Remedy’s unique world-building provides and exceptional environment for that.”

This new focus will certainly show through in Northlight, their proprietary game engine and toolset which Remedy continues to improve and hopes to continue to perfect in future projects. Furthermore, it seems that this shift in focus will not disrupt Remedy’s current projects, such as their partnership with Korean game developer Smilegate to build the story mode for the upcoming Crossfire 2, though they assure us that they are also working on something completely original as well.

For over two decades Remedy has given players narratively rich playgrounds with the likes of Max Payne and Alan Wake. Also, there were some cars that shot at each other. All kidding aside, Remedy is a studio that has never shied away from doing things that are strange or out there. People often forget, but the term “Bullet time,” comes directly from the first Max Payne. So when Remedy says they want to intertwine multiplayer game modes and story, two ideas that often don’t mix well, I say go ahead. I am eager to see what kind of things can come from an online Remedy game.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS) Review

Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS) Review

What I’m about to say may shock you, but Metroid Prime: Federation Force is the best FPS for the Nintendo 3DS, and perhaps one of my favourite FPSs of all time. If you’re a fan of the Metroid series, there is plenty to see, including Samus, who shows up in various cutscenes. If you’re not, you’re still in for a treat, especially if you have friends to play with.

Anyone who has read anything about this game knows that many fans of the series weren’t happy with its announcement, as they had anticipated that Nintendo would reveal a new “proper” Metroid platformer of the sort that they had been dreaming of. After the announcement, there was mass down-voting of trailers, with people complaining that the game was ugly and that they hated the chibi art style.There was even a petition to get the game canceled. Were those people justified in their concerns and behaviors?

Absolutely not. If you’ve played the Metroid Prime games on the Wii or Wii U, this game fits alongside them nicely as a spinoff. The controls are similar, as are the feel and tone of the game although it unfolds in mission format instead of allowing free-roaming – and you’ll come across many familiar enemies. It feels like a proper Metroid game and not just some cash-in of the IP.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS) Review 2The story centers around the Federation Force, a team of elite marines in mech suits that are out on some routine missions when they come across space pirates. As bounty hunter Samus Aran hates space pirates, she gets involved and helps investigate what the no-good baddies are up to. Throughout the game, you’re essentially doing tasks that Samus herself can’t do or things based on information she provides on her journey. You see her in many cutscenes, as she is certainly one of the main characters of the game, even if you don’t play as her.

While the story isn’t the strongest, the real meat of the game lies in the actual gameplay. One to four players can tackle missions side by side, either online with strangers or locally with friends. Nearly every mission feels unique, adding a new gameplay element or new enemy to conquer, including some gigantic bosses.

Most of the game consists of solving puzzles, brawling with enemies, and conducting some platforming, all of which feels polished and enjoyable. Puzzles can range from shooting balls through courses into holes like some kind of multiplayer mini golf to more simple things like finding a hidden switch or shooting a certain area with a charged blast.

Platforming feels fantastic thanks to a well thought out jumping mechanic and a jetpack that lasts just long enough to make many of the jumps, though none of them are particularly hard. If you do end up falling, you’ll only take some damage instead of dying, so no worries there.

Combat is a blast, though it can take some getting used to thanks to the controls. Those playing on the original line of 3DS family will be moving forward and backward with the left stick, while using a shoulder button to lock-on and allow aiming via tilting the 3DS, which feels much like the aiming in Splatoon that many players prefer. Personally, I preferred the second option, which is available for those with a circle pad pro attachment or the NEW 3DS with its nub, which has controls much more like those of a traditional FPS, meaning the left stick is movement and the right stick is your aim. This mode also sets your shoulder buttons to jump and shoot, meaning you never have to take your thumbs off the sticks unless you’re using an item.

When selecting a mission, there are a few things you must set up prior to heading out. First off, you’ve got to select which mods you’re going to take along with you, of which you can carry up to three eventually. Mods are equipable items that buff your weapons or other items, and that can also do things like give you an extra life. If you’re playing solo, there is essentially a ‘must use’ mod that gives you double impact on your shots and reduces f the damage you take from enemies by half. When playing solo I used this, and I never felt like the game was too easy or too hard, but just right. Mods are hidden throughout levels behind breakable doors and other out of the way areas. Seeking them out and finding them is very rewarding, and I loved exploring every nook and cranny to find them.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS) Review 3After selecting mods, you’ll have to select a loadout of predetermined items for each mission. These items can range from health packs, to missiles or other weapons, to support items that shield you and your partners or help take down enemies. As you progress through the game, you’ll be granted the ability to carry more equipment over time, but at the start, you can only take a few things. Each item has a different weight, so you can only take a limited number. This works out nicely in multiplayer, as it forces players to decide what role they are going to play, though it never feels like you’re only supporting, as a majority of your damage is still going to be done with blasters, aside from during boss battles.

This game is chock full of content. One playthrough took me around 11 hours, though I mostly played solo aside from two missions out of the over 20 available. After completing the game, you can play the levels in hard mode. Each stage and difficulty has its own set of medals to unlock at the end of each mission. Medals are awarded for completing the level with high scores. Each mission has a bonus objective and par time to complete that, in my experience, are required to get all the medals. While this adds tons of replay value, I do wish there were an in-game timer and a way to know the required time and score before entering the levels. Unlocking medals earns you the other mod slots, as well as skins for your mech to prance around in. Those with the ability to scan in amiibos can unlock both a Samus and Zero Suit skin, as well as in-mission perks.

On top of all that is the Rocket League like Blast Ball mode, which pits two teams of three against each other shooting a ball and attempting to blast it into the other team’s goal. This mode has its own set of unlockables and skins, with additional amiibo skins available based on Super Mario Bros. characters. Those that played the free demo available from the eShop can import their stats and unlocks, meaning you don’t have to grind to get that sweet Ridley skin again!
Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS) Review 4
The graphics have been a big point of contention for many people, but they just don’t do well in blown up screenshots. Yes, the 3DS is aging and its graphics show that, but the chibi style looks great on the 3DS screen. Levels looklike they would easily feel at home in the core Prime games, and chibi enemies and bosses look great too.

The soundtrack plays like a combination of those from the Metroid games that came before it with a hint of Star Wars thrown in, so if you’re the kind that doesn’t play with your system muted (shame on you) then you’re in for a treat.

Those concerned that it won’t feel like a ‘proper Metroid’, fret not, as it very much does. If playing solo, you’ll still have those feelings of wonder, loneliness, and exploration, though the levels are linear and you’re selecting them from a menu. I enjoyed the game quite a lot playing solo, but the game is best when playing with others, as you’re able to multitask a lot more for some of the more difficult later stages.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS) Review 6If I had to choose one thing that I didn’t love, it is the controls. They take a lot of getting used to, and I never quite found them all that perfect.  The nub on the NEW 3DS is great for things like panning a camera in Monster Hunter, but for precise aim it left a bit to be desired, even if I preferred it over the alternative. Another negative is that a couple of bosses are bullet sponges, but I’ve experienced far, far worse.

I had high hopes for Metroid Prime: Federation Force and it 100 percent delivered and then some. It might not have the best story, but the gameplay is unmatched when it comes to mobile FPS, making it a must-own title for the 3DS. Those looking for a great cooperative multiplayer experience that is more than just killing bad guys will be quite satisfied. Heck, even if you’re going in solo, you’re going to have a great time with the plethora of content. Easily one of the best games released for the 3DS, and certainly one of the better Metroid titles.

Alienation (PS4) Review

Alienation (PS4) Review

Housemarque studios continues to prove they can do no wrong by developing another stellar gem for PlayStation 4 owners with Alienation. This addictive twin sticks shooter is a spiritual successor to one of Housemarque’s earlier titles, Dead Nation, in every single way.

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Stardew Valley Getting Multiplayer, Mac and Console Release

Stardew Valley Getting Multiplayer, Mac and Console Release

Stardew Valley, the open-ended farming/RPG hybrid that captured our hearts, is being expanded immensely- and one hard-working ape is seeking more help to do it.

Eric Barone, better known by his developer alias ConcernedApe, announced a slew of planned features for Stardew Valley. In a post on the game’s official site, Concerned Ape announced that co-op multiplayer, language localization and a massive content update are on their way- as well as ports for Mac, Linux and consoles.

Stardew Valley Getting Multiplayer, Mac and Console Release

“First, I’d like to thank you all so much for playing Stardew Valley. The game has been more successful than I ever imagined, and I’m very grateful to everyone for granting me this amazing opportunity,” Barone wrote. “The last couple of months have been pretty wild for me… Toward the end of April the launch buzz had cooled off enough that I could afford to take a short break.”

The Stardew developer said he enjoyed his break, but is ready to return to the Valley.

The full list of what’s planned for the future of Stardew Valley is as follows:

  • – Version 1.1 — A substantial content update
  • – Co-op Multiplayer
  • – Localizing for non-english regions
  • – Mac/Linux Ports
  • – Console Ports
  • – Merchandise

Barone said he will continue to develop Stardew Valley’s content entirely on his own, but is seeking help for the more technical work such as porting and localization.

“Now, there’s obviously a huge amount of work involved to achieve all this… and I am just one person,” Barone said. “I know in the past I’ve been very adamant about doing everything myself… and I still am, when it comes to game design and content.”

“However, I’ve decided to seek outside help for some of the more technical things listed above. More specifically, I’ve accepted an offer from Chucklefish in which they will handle the porting, localization, and the technical side of multiplayer. This will allow me to focus on creating new game content for version 1.1, which I will continue to do entirely on my own.”

Stardew Valley Getting Multiplayer, Mac and Console Release 2

Stardew Valley publisher Chucklefish Games will assist Barone in the technical side of things, while Barone will continue to develop content and design the game entirely on his own.

“This should result in faster overall development and reduced workload for me, while preserving my artistic control over Stardew Valley,” he said. “I think it will be beneficial for everyone.”

Barone noted that while there is no official timetable for the planned updates, “multiplayer, porting and localization are actively being worked on.”

Lastly, Barone gave fans a rundown of what to expect in the first major content update, version 1.1.

  • More late-game content
  • New farm buildings
  • New crops
  • New artisan goods
  • New advanced farming/producing mechanics
  • Shane and Emily will be marriage candidates. They will also have more events and dialogue as a result.
  • More marriage content for all spouses
  • More events for the non-marriage NPC’s
  • Improvements/Additions to mining and combat
  • Ability to move buildings and other convenience features
  • More bug fixes
  • More secrets
  • More small, fun touches to the world

While these features are mostly solid, Barone notes that anything in the list is subject to change.

Stardew Valley is an indie simulation game currently available on PC. It has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, and CGM writer Jake Yanik called it “the most rich and heartwarming experience I’ve had in a game in years.”

Uncharted 4 Plunder Mode Revealed at PAX East

Uncharted 4 Plunder Mode Revealed at PAX East

Any PAX East-goers will have a special Uncharted treat waiting for them if they head to the PlayStation Booth.

Lead Game Designer, Robert Cogburn posted the details on Playstation Blog,  showcasing the previously unrevealed multiplayer game mode for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End; Plunder, which makes a return from Uncharted 2 and 3.

Plunder is Uncharted’s Capture the Flag-type mode, with an idol replacing the standard flag. Players must work together to first find the idol on the map, and then protect one another as your team brings it back to the home treasure chest.

The game mode has been updated for Uncharted 4, with changes including the five-on-five teams reduced to four-on-four, as well as the ability to traverse while carrying the idol – a first for the series.

Plunder will be playable on three previously revealed multiplayer maps: Island, Madagascar City and Rooftops.

Plunder will be playable for the duration of PAX East at the PlayStation Booth. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End launches on May 10, 2016, exclusively on the PlayStation 4.

Dark Souls Board Game Kickstarter Launches

Dark Souls Board Game Kickstarter Launches

Praise the sun! The official Dark Souls Board Game, designed by miniature gaming company Steamforged Games, has officially launched their Kickstarter crowd funding campaign. The campaign will last for 26 days and has already been funded five minutes after going live.

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Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Closed Beta details announced

Mirror's Edge Catalyst Closed Beta details announced

New details of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’s recently closed beta test have now emerged. If you are one of the lucky players to receive a code from EA then you will be able to play both single player and multiplayer sections of the new title starting April 22.

Read moreMirror’s Edge Catalyst Closed Beta details announced