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The essenTial guide To XboX 360 and XboX one

Issue 122 March 2015

Bows. Blizzards. Bears.

Lara Crofts journey to become
the new face of Xbox One

Developer tells us its

amazing next-gen plans


Hands-on with the

shooter that reinvents
multiplayer gaming


to a dusty
old relic
made new
Ive been infatuated with tomb
raiding for a long time. Way back
in 1996, those polygonal palaces
offered an adult alternative to
Nintendos chunky 3D playpens,
showing how technology might take a more
realistic location and twist it for our gaming
pleasure. Almost 20 years later and Lara Croft
is still at it, as we travel to San Francisco to
see Crystal Dynamics drag Xbox One into the
Siberian wilderness, hand it a stick and some
deer gut, and tell it to fend for itself. The
resulting adventure is shaping into a killer
treat for Xbox fans find out why on page 30.
Of course, OXMs treasures are easier to dig
up than Crofts. On
page 88 we put the
laras latest
adventure is shaping Halo 5 beta under the
into a killer treat microscope, we talk
Forza 6 with Turn 10
for xbox fans
on page 16 and risk
decapitation and worse to bring you the inside
scoop on Mortal Kombat X on page 60. And if
you do find yourself stranded in Siberia, you
could always roll the magazine into a handy
wolf-bashing truncheon. Enjoy!
and SaVe!
turn to
page 68
live oxM pesto twitter @mrbasil_pesto


rise of the
tomb raider

You know what 2013s tomb raider lacked? tombs. You know
what are going to be amazing this time? tombs! (p30)


the witcher 3:
wild hunt

resident smooth criminal alex

delivers the hands-on verdict (p42)

Youve heard the hype, now read the

hands-on swipe (of sword) (p46)

the banner
saga 1 & 2

25 things learned
from the halo 5 beta

kate channels her inner viking in

this icy tale of survival (p50)

in which we reveal 25 things we

learned from Halo 5s beta (p88)

the official xbox Magazine / 5




Rise of tHe tomB RAiDeR
laras had a makeover. yes, another one.






news and interviews curated for your easy digestion

10 windows of opportunity
what windows 10 means for xbox one.

15 vampyr

a game about vampires, doctors and edgy spelling.

16 forza motorsport 6

cars. look at dem sexy cars. aw yeah. curves n that.

18 why dont you love me?

Kates suffering from virtual heartbreak in Dragon Age.

xBox extRA

getting more from your console

96 oxm investigates

even the worst games have some good parts right?

104 the making of: threes!


6 / the official xbox magazine

BAttlefielD HARDline
a breakout- sorry, break-in hit?

numbers havent been this sexy since carol vorderman.

114 far cry ideas

we pitch the worlds worst ideas for Far Cry games.



Lara is so prominent on
screen, making her
spectacular is the goal.


Save up
to 50%
See p68

Darrell Gallagher, studio head, on the new Lara Croft look.




30 rise and shine

we raided the mind-tombs of the Tomb Raider

developer and came out with all this news-loot.


60 fatal attraction

a look at Mortal Kombat X with a liberal dose of gore.

88 25 things we learned from

the halo 5 beta

did you know red and blue are two separate teams?

tHe escApists

crawl through miles of

sewer or just stab a guard.


42 battlefield hardline
46 the witcher 3: wild hunt
48 rive
49 state of decay
50 the banner saga 1 & 2
52 Project cars
53 there came an echo
54 lifeless Planet
57 the elder scrolls online:
tamriel unlimited
58 Previews roundup





tHe BAnneR sAgA


if you like beards, youll love this game.





Dying ligHt

zombies and parkour? cant go wrong.


72 dying light
74 resident evil
76 life is strange
77 saints row iv: re-elected
78 saints row:
gat out of hell
80 the escapists
82 unmechanical
83 duck dynasty
83 rugby 15
84 online dragon age: inquisition
85 online the crew
86 far cry 4: escape from
durgesh Prison
87 assassins creed unity:
dead Kings
87 sunset overdrive:
the mystery of mooil rig
the official xbox magazine / 7

Meet the

oxm conTribuTorS

The people behind, and in some senses also under, the UKs biggest games mag

alex Dale

Kate Gray

Emma Davies

Paul Taylor

Tom Senior

live chocoboofDoom

live oxm Kate

live oxm emma

live Paulus mct

live Private

Twitter @SporadicDaler

Twitter @hownottodraw

Twitter @emcetera

Twitter @mynameispt

Twitter @Pcgludo

alex came back from

Battlefield Hardline with a
five oclock shadow and a
gruff voice, chain-smoking
and talking about how
he was two days from
retirement. not until that
preview gets written, mate.

We made duck fan Kate

play Duck Dynasty a game
about exploding as many
mallards as possible and it
may have caused some kind
of breakdown, because now
shes sobbing and quacking
sadly under her desk.

emmas knitting hobby

might have gone a bit far.
She started to knit a scarf
a month ago and now shes
buried in a big pile of yarn
that periodically makes
muffled noises. Still, the
work is getting done, so

Paul went straight from the

San fran Tomb Raider trip
to the Just Cause trip in
Sweden, and the jetlag that
followed turned him into a
bit of a zombie. now he
just shuffles around
mumbling gaaaaames.

tom wanted to really get

into The Witcher 3 this
month, which wasnt too
tough considering that
hes already a 400-year-old
magical monster-slaying
badass. he doesnt have
those magic eyes, though.

Deputy editor

Production editor

Staff writer

Editor, OXM AU



Free pie
A mystery crate of pies turned up
in the office. Who ate all the pies?
You can bet it was Team OXM.

Planning Valentines Day

By which we mean steeling
ourselves for another year with
zero mystery admirers. Ohhhh.

8 / the official xbox magazine

Staying up late for Windows 10

Okay, 7pm isnt technically late,
but its time we could have spent
playing lovely, lovely games.

the internet is quite literally a

gigantic net*. and were using
our portion of it to snare all the
best xbox one and xbox 360
news, reviews and generally
interesting gubbins. (*this is
not actually literally the case.)
recent highlights: battletoads,
battletoads, battletoads! /
borderlands 3? / Windows 10
roundup / Release dates for
game of thrones, ori & the blind
forest and more!

Exciting travel
San Francisco! Sweden! Chicago!
Guildford? One of these is not
like the others.

oxm on iPad
Which do you prefer:
rustly, scrunchable paper
or smooth, shiny, infinitely
caressable glass? if
its the latter (and why
wouldnt it be, in this
age of gleaming modern
technology?), give our
oh-so-touchable iPad
edition a try. go ooooon,
touch it. touch it!

xbox news, analysis, culture, opinion & more

sh a ring is ca ring

WindoWs of

What Microsofts 3D glasses and

Windows 10 push means for Xbox One

t the heart of every Xbox Ones operating

system there lurks a Windows kernel, curled
up in the darkness like a Chestburster from
Alien, awaiting its moment. This can be a
disturbing thought. Windows? Why, thats
the same operating system your dad uses
to write sternly worded letters to the vicar.
What business does it have with Xbox, a hip brand for young
people who havent succumbed to the siren wail of golf and
stamp-collecting? Well, the Windows core means that apps
and games designed for Windows tablets, PCs and phones
can be transplanted to Xbox One with a minimum of fuss, and
vice versa hence, the consoles steady stream of new apps
and Dashboard features. It allows the obsidian behemoth to
tap into the boundless riches of PC software.
At its Windows 10 presentation in January, Microsoft took
this overlap to a new extreme. Once the latest version of
the operating system becomes available, youll effectively
be able to turn your PC, tablet or even your smartphone
into an Xbox One. Thanks to the free Windows 10 Xbox app,
youll be able to stream gameplay from the console to any
Windows device on the same Wi-Fi network. All you need
do is pick the game out of your library and bang there
you are, setting up Destiny Raids in the bath like some
sort of amphibious telepath. Its a cheeky way around the
technical limitations of phones and tablets, in particular
the Xbox One itself is still in charge of the processing and
rendering, while the client device takes care of control
inputs and video. Naturally, this also means that a friend (or
a remarkably casual house-breaker) can watch TV in your
living room without interrupting play.
Whats more, the Xbox One app offers many of the social
features youll find on the consoles Dashboard, such as
Friends lists, your profile, game clips and the Activity feed.
You can pretty much run your entire Xbox Live existence
without ever touching the console, down to switching the
machine off remotely. Microsoft will also bring Xbox Ones
vaunted Game DVR features to Windows 10, allowing you to
bite off a chunk of footage with a simple keyboard command.
The app is storefront-agnostic, so it will happily archive your
Steam games alongside Windows and Xbox titles.
There are plenty of other Xbox-themed perks on the way
to Windows 10 for PC, mobile and tablet owners the



fifA 15 is 2014s top game

not in the sense of being the actual

best game, but it sold more than any other
in the uK beating out call of Duty:
advanced warfare and grand theft auto V to
the top spot. our goty alien: isolation
came in at a lowly 34.

oddworld: new n tasty due March

the remake of 1997 platformer oddworld:

abes oddysee is soon to come to xbox
one its been changed to a 2.5D
perspective, with updated art, puzzles
and controls to make it worthy of
current-gen consoles.

//Apps And gAmes designed

for windows tAblets, pcs And
phones cAn be trAnsplAnted
to xbox one with the minimum
of fuss, And vice versA//



Xbox one wins an Emmy

its the systems first emmy xbox live won one in 2005
and its for the rather obscure award of television
enhancement Devices. sounds like a spam email to us.

operating system includes a new

browser, provocatively titled Project
Spartan, which runs Microsofts new
voice search app Cortana by default.
but what about the benefits of
Windows 10 for the Xbox One itself?
Try this on for size: Microsoft is looking
into the idea of streaming PC games
to Xbox One. This could be a huge
move, putting it mildly the Windowsbased software market is vast, and
while there are control and interface
requirements to consider, the thought
of EVE Online, Hearthstone or DayZ
purring away happily on a console is
certainly tantalising.


all hail cross-platform

functionality! its like making
a giant sandwich out of all
your favourite dishes.

The manufacturer is also thinking

about cross-platform multiplayer for
selected titles. back in 2009, Valves
Chet Faliszek described this to us as a
gimmick, pointing out that the speed
and precision of mouse and keyboard
control vs controllers make for
unbalanced multiplayer. Its a fair
observation, but the rise of
asymmetrical multiplayer modes means
that this is less of a problem. Step
forward, the recently unveiled

the windows
10 app
echoes the
xbox one
Friends hub.

PC version of Fable Legends, for

instance a showpiece game for the
Windows 10 Xbox app, in which a
Villain player arranges threats and
enemies for the others in top-down
RTS view. This is easier with a mouse
and keyboard, so the most frantic,
enjoyable matches will probably be
those that pit Villains on PC against
heroes on Xbox One. The same may be
true of many current and upcoming
multiplayer titles, such as Tom
Clancys The Division, which already
supports drone-vs-human multiplayer
using a tablet.
You may be wondering why we
havent mentioned the other big
announcement at the Windows 10

more in
this section

Xbox one is best-seller in december

the sales figures dont lie in the us, xbox one

was the best-selling console over December, and its
games sold more than any other current-gen platform.


comfortable and chunky,

the hololens glasses are
tailored for use indoors.

That gods can come in the most

unlikely forms even Rik Mayall.


Which cars will be the hottest in

Forza Motorsport 6.


pictured: Fable legends on pc.

not pictured: a successful
disarm move. we hope hes
wearing armpit protection.

event yet: Microsofts holoLens, a

wireless augmented-reality headset
that projects 3D graphics onto the
world around you, enabling you to
manipulate them with voice commands
and gestures. The answer is that, as
astonishing as it is, holoLens wont be
directly relevant to Xbox for a while.
For starters, the tech is still at the
prototype stage, with no release date
on the horizon. Secondly, holoLens
comes with its own built-in processors
and sensors: it seemingly doesnt
require a console or PC to run (although
its likely to offer loads of crossplatform features), so dont go thinking
of it as an Xbox peripheral.
This represents a departure from the
Fortaleza design brief leaked back
in 2012, which posited the Xbox 720
as a wireless hub serving content to a
variety of client devices, including a

set of augmented-reality glasses. As

with the Fortaleza glasses, holoLens
is being billed as the future of media
consumption at large, not gaming
in particular. Going by the concept
reels, itll probably see most use as a
means of Skyping people, watching
videos and browsing the net. Still,
the announcement made no bones
of the devices potential as a gaming
platform, with Minecraft featuring
heavily in the concept footage. Users
will be able to conjure up entire worlds,
fitting them neatly to the confines of a
living room, so you can squish zombies
and poke holes in mountains while
youre wandering around in search of a
missing shoe.
Its not hard to imagine comparable
applications for real-time strategy
games, or shooters with 3D map
screens. When holoLens does enter
the realm of commercial availability, its
impact on Xbox and the digital sphere
at large should be enormous.
EdWin EvAns-thirlWEll

//hololens comes with its own

built-in processors And sensors:
it seemingly doesnt require A
console or pc to run//

All about Kates achey-breaky

Inquisitor heart.


how to use statues as wrecking

balls in Just Cause 3.


What would happen if you took

Rapture and partially dried it out.


tHIS MontH:

how To MAke A viDeogAMe

ABouT goD

Deco Digitals Joe Brammer explains Pneuma: Breath of Life, in

which youre a deity trapped in a puzzle maze

that build was such an alpha

build it was so rusty but we
got a lot of good feedback. It was
really beneficial.

We reckon its a symbol

for the all-seeing eye
of Kinect. Maybe.

Decorate your game

world like Cicero

Greco-Roman was kind of

the era we wanted its quite
godly architecture. But honestly,
it was a nightmare to pick up
such an incredibly detailed
artform with only four artists. It
wasnt the best business decision,
but the finished art style is nice.

Dont back any

particular god

Pneuma has an inner

monologue. There are some
tongue-in-cheek jokes about
religion in there, but its mostly
a platform for the story. The
lead designer and writer is
Christian himself, and he was
very cautious about [avoiding
any specific references]. I dont
think there are any crosses!

eASTeR egg Rik Mayalls one gaming credit is PS1 Worms clone Hogs of War, in which he voices an army of pigs. We salute you, Rik.

Dont start small

We started off making a

robot sports game. It
sounded like a good idea at the
time, because a lot of people
including our professors and
lecturers said, Do a small
game first, then a slightly more
advanced one, and so on. But if
youre aiming quite low, thats
where youll end up. So we
asked, Whats the best game
we could make?

Be sure to move in
mysterious ways

The main mechanic [in

Pneuma: Breath of Life] is
perspective. When you look at
an eye emblem, you control
something. Towards the end
were rotating entire buildings
by looking at things. One puzzle
is a raised bridge, and when
you walk towards the eye, the
bridge goes down but when
you walk towards the bridge,
it goes up.

Snub the classics

We liked the art style from

Ryse: Son of Rome, and
weve also looked at puzzle

14 / tHe offIcIAl xBox MAgAzIne

Mix theology
with comedy

games such as Portal. Were

told by a lot of 30-year-olds that
were a lot like Myst which
weve all vowed not to play,
so we dont copy it. I think it
came out the year before I
was born. [God, I feel old - Ed.]

Turn god into

Rik Mayall

It actually started out as

Monty Python, and then I think
it was the day before he died
we said to our voiceover artist,
We want Pneuma to be Rik
Mayall. A lot of his work came
up in the news, like Lord
Flashheart from Blackadder,
and we decided we really
liked him. It would have been
great if we could have gotten
him to do it, but we dont have
that budget.

Make Microsoft your

patron saint

I think the best thing

[Microsoft] did for us was
sending us to Gamescom,
because we had thousands of
people play Pneuma there. And

nAMe Joe Brammer
JoB TiTle Producer and artist
Bio A born game developer,
Joe was modding Battlefield
2 for fun at the age of ten. He
started out in the business
as a volunteer QA tester for
Absurd Interactive, before
joining Pillowdrift Studios
to create art for an iPhone
space shooter, Stellar Void.
He founded Deco Digital
with Howard Philpott in
2013 after studying animation
and modelling at the
University of Derby.

The Americans seem to find

Pneuma really hilarious way
more funny than we do in
England. I dont think youll be
on the floor laughing, but the
jokes will sort of make you
chuckle occasionally while youre
thinking about these incredibly
hard puzzles.

Believe in your

The thing about Pneuma:

Breath or Life is it cant be
experienced in any other
medium. It cant be done by
film, it cant be done by music.
Call of Duty could be a film;
it could be a book. But
Pneuma has to be played as
a videogame.


Ask for a leap

of faith

Why does Pneuma

have to be a god? I cant answer
that question, unfortunately! If
you play the game youll discover
why he is a god. Thats the best
answer I can give you. Its
perception, right? Perception and
observation thats our thing.

Evolve DLC details revealed

A fourth monster a rock monster named

Behemoth will be coming this spring, either
as a pre-order bonus or a one-off purchase.


DontnoD announCEs Vampyr

Will Life is Strange devs new outing be bloody good or just plain suck?

espite its slightly archaic spelling

(its how the word first surfaced
in 1734, vampire fact fans) newly
announced RPG Vampyr looks set to
be the most exciting thing to happen
to vampires since factor 8,000 sunscreen.
Unfolding in a grim, post-World War I city
that looks more than a little bit like London,
Vampyr is the story of a doctor thats you
struggling through the Spanish flu epidemic
of 1918. As if that wasnt enough to take care
of, your beleaguered medicine man is soon
bitten by a disturbed patient who turns out to
be a vampire and no, we wont be making a
Dr Acula joke. Were better than that.
With the vampiric disease coursing through
your well-meaning veins, the game becomes
an intense tale of balancing your search for

a cure because for some obscure reason

health services have never been too keen on
hiring those who feed off bodily fluids and
succumbing to your rapidly growing blood lust.
The studio behind Vampyr, Dontnod
Entertainment, gave us the
action-adventure memory
recovery game, Remember
Me, and also this months
Life is Strange, an episodic
teen drama with a timetravelling sci-fi twist that
gets the review treatment
on page 76. Stepping
neatly around the whole typecasting thing,
Dontnod is making a name for itself by trying
something new with every world it creates.
Unless, of course, Vampyr features a weird

subplot about hiding your clandestine weed

stash from your fascist step-dad. It wont.
Given that the game is an RPG, we can
probably expect combat, exploration and
some sort of levelling system, but whether
youll be fighting off
hordes of the damned
or just sweaty invalids
hawking mucus up at you
is yet to be confirmed.
The tagline, Take
blood. Save a life, could
give a clue as to what the
games about working
that balance between your doctor tendencies
and your blood-guzzling, fang-sinking new
persona. Maybe somehow you can work that
whole pesky vampire thing to your advantage

//dontnod is
making a name for
itself by trying
something new//

in numBers > DATAPOinT: news in numBers > DATAPOinT: news in numBers >

2.6 milliOn



Total number of dragons slain in

Dragon Age: Inquisition
(as of January 15).

Number of minutes it took to

complete Dark Souls in a new
speedrunning world record.

Number of mo-cap reference

points taken from Lara Croft
actor Camilla Luddington.


ThE offICIAL xbox MAGAzINE / 15

All revved up

of power

The ford GTs rear

spoiler changes its
pitch based on the speed
the vehicle is travelling
and based on input from
the driver, meaning
its always angled
for optimum wind

The cars twin-turbo

engine is mounted
directly in the middle
of the car, behind the
driver seat, giving it
a perfect 50/50 weight
balance, which in turn
means predictable


The panels
are comprised of
lightweight aluminium and
carbon-fibre materials.
The reduced weight boosts
performance although
the GTs top speed is
electrically limited to
200mph. Still fairly
nippy, mind.

Turning 10

Turn 10 Studios head Alan Hartman talks to OXM about ten years of Forza
Motorsport, and how a decades worth of technical advances enables
Forza 6 to simulate cars that have not yet been built. Spooky!

o heres a long, hard,

borderline-pervy look at
the rear end of Forza
Motorsport 6s cover
star, the All-New Ford
GT. Thats the all-new Ford GT,
you must understand not some
old rustbucket Ford GT from 2006
that only has a mere (smirk)
550 horsepower or (guffaws into
sleeve) a sluggish 0-60mph time
of 3.3 seconds.
Nope, this All-New Ford GT
boasts twin turbos, a whopping
600 horsepower and a nippy
0-60mph time of, er, 3.2 seconds.
Not only that, but its curvy
beyond all reason and bluer than
a thousand lagoons. And, er, it
doesnt exist yet. Its not slated


to enter production until 2016,

and considering that Forza
Motorsport 6 is lined up for a
gameplay reveal at this years E3,
its pretty safe to assume that
Turn 10 isnt going to wait around
for it to roll off the factory line
before beginning work on its
handling model. So how about it,
Turn 10? How are you going to
simulate a car that doesnt even
exist yet? Mmmmm?
This speaks to the way our
relationship with car
manufacturers has changed over
the past decade, says Turn 10
studio head Alan Hartman.
Previously we would just license
the cars and work from there. But
today, our relationship has

changed. Car manufacturers

understand its a great platform
to reach their userbase, and
come to us first.
One of the benefits of this
closer relationship is that we
have early access from the
manufacturers. This means we
have a wealth of information
available to us during the design
process, including computeraided design, laser-scanning and
other data cornerstones that
enable us to understand how the
insides of the car work. This
enables us to build replicas that
are more authentic than when we
have access to the real thing.
The All-New Ford GT is one of
three cars announced for Forza 6

at Januarys North American

International Auto Show in
Detroit, Michigan alongside
Ford stablemates Shelby
GT350 Mustang and the bruising
F-150 Raptor. The latter is built
for off-road, and Hartman
explains that Turn 10 is using
physics modelling designed for
Forza Horizon 2s Storm Island
add-on to deliver a better
off-road experience. The Forza
Horizon series, of course, is put
together by another studio,
Playground Games, so its
encouraging that, while Turn
10 celebrates a decade of
making Forza games, the studio
is still receptive to new ideas
and ways of working.


Battletoads coming back, warts and all?

Hints that rare is working on a Battletoads reboot are gathering

apace. phil Spencer rocking up at the windows 10 event in a
Toads tee is a reach. Microsoft renewing the trademark is not.

upperS &
This months
temperature, taken


meeT The Family FOrd

These are three supercars that have been
announced so far. Theyre really sexy. well,
arent they? Since our lawyers are tutting in
our direction and making punchy motions
with their fists, were compelled to point out

that unlike the image overleaf, these are

press images of the cars from Fords website
not from Forza Motorsport 6, the game. But
that doesnt stop us having a look at them,
does it? Its a free country and all of that.

Our FingerS

Still cooling from the 30+ hours we put

into the Halo 5 beta. Ha! But seriously: is
it normal for fingers to plume smoke?

reSidenT evil

Revisiting old Resis is always a

pleasure, never a chore. Unless its Resi
5, in which case: *hurls self under bus*

ford GT


faster than
an oiled-up
penguin, but not
much boot

yeah, okay,
pal. weve
done you.

Ori & The Blind FOreST

Due 11 March. Its so close we can smell

it. what does it smell like? Hmmm
forest. Makes sense, we suppose.

TOmB raider reBOOT

Has its critics, but if you judge it on

its own merits, rather than the past,
its a cracking romp.

wHATS noT?


Solves the boot

room issue, but
just try reverse
parking into
a space at

magazineS in 2015 STill

uSing The wOrd rOmp

what can we say? we messed up, and

were really sorry.

dying lighT

Sure, youve been able to nab the digital

version since January, but boxed copies?
Keep waiting until 27 Feb. we call BS.



Im totally fIne that you dont

love me back. no, really. I wrote
thIs 650-word artIcle about
just how fIne I am
Kate suffers fro m a ro m antic crisis w hile
playing Dragon Age: Inquisition

ejection is not a
thing that I am good
with. When one of
my friends told me
during a boozy party
that my Dragon Age:
Inquisition beau was not just
unreceptive to my flirtatiousness
and bangin bod because he was
playing hard to get, but because
he was perhaps a bit partial to the
gender I wasnt, my anguished
cries would have woken up the
neighbours if the neighbours
werent a kebab shop.
It wasnt just that I was upset
that the lovely Dorian who,
might I add, had been flirting
with me like mad wouldnt be
reciprocating my feelings unless
I managed to grow an extra
extremity (and probably a bit
taller, given how my tiny dwarf
frame might have been crushed
twixt his toned thighs). It was
the sheer terror of having to
commit myself to one of the other
men, most of whom appealed to
me about as much as the idea of
exfoliating with a cheese grater.
Hunky Dorians rejection
had abandoned me to a life
of mediocre relationships,
punctuated by passionless
smooches and weeping for lost
love. Blackwall Skyholds
resident beard-haver kept
doing intense monologues about
our forbidden love. Solas bald
head and pointy ears made
him look like a bowling ball
with handles. Plus, hes totally
racist. Iron Bull would crush my
diminutive Inquisitor with an
overly enthusiastic bum-pinch,
so he was out of the question,
and Cullen is so dry that hes in
Guinness World Records under
Most Human Desert.
My point laboured as it
is is that romance in games is
generally a bit rubbish. If youre
a dude, your options normally
consist of Sexy Lady 1, Sexy Lady
2, Questionably Young Lady and
Stern but Sexy Lady, all sporting
the kind of racks that could put

18 / the official xbox magazine

Who wouldnt want

those magic hands
all over them?

Ann Summers out of business.

If youre a lady like me your
choices are still geared towards
men. Generally some aspect of a
male power fantasy, they come in
very few flavours most of which
are beefy. Games dont really care
too much about getting lady rocks
off, so they dont really bother to

Blackwall is nothing if
not a consolation prize,
despite the epic beard.

find out which rock-removers are

generally favoured by those who
like their men three-dimensional.
Even though men are a big ol
slice of that demographic pie,
straight women still make up a
significant proportion of players,
and it does seem like games are
getting a little better at creating
wooable characters aimed at
them. If its difficult for me,
spoiled as I am with my handful
of choices, you can imagine how
much blander these games
which are rather prescriptive
about gender preferences are
for those who arent straight. Yes,
Im incredibly jealous of the guys
who totally get lovely Dorian
to cuddle at night, but equally
someone out there might fancy a
bit of Cullen and wonder why Im

//If Its dIffIcult for me, you

cAn ImAgIne how much blAnder
these gAmes Are for those
who Arent strAIght//

not taking every opportunity to

ram my tongue down his throat.
Inquisitions relationships
although far from perfect
are at least a step in the right
direction. For all my gripes about
my unrequited love, the game
manages to infuse its characters
with history, motive and, most
interestingly, unique tastes that
avoid that whole lazy everyone is
pansexual thing.
Yes, Im sad that I will never
know the loving caress of the
gorgeously moustachioed Dorian
but Im sad within the confines
of the game. I got to tell him I
liked him. He got to tell me he
liked me he said I was amazing
but that he wasnt interested in
that way. I got to tell him I was
sad, but that it was alright. It was
a meaningful, real interaction.
Granted, not as real as my reallife romantic interactions, which
normally end with tear-stained
pizza, but its getting there.
next month Alex explains why
every last game out there should
be fuelled by microtransactions.

Gearbox is bundling Borderlands 2 and the PreSequel in a 1080p, 60 FPS Xbox One remaster,
and is working on the next true instalment.

1. From the
Game hub, you
can access
and stats, or
open the game
in solo or
2. Check
out the
for things to
gloat about.
we have the
most deaths
in Kalimba.
3. Broadcasts
and clips
from the game
will appear
in the app,
which either
play on-screen
or through

See how much more closely our
background resembles a postcard
from dragon age: inquisition?

i can see right thrOugh yOu

We can see clearly now, our Apps are gone

ebruarys update for Xbox

One has added a few new
tweaks, as you can see in the
screenshots above. Or should
we say not see, because
one of the major differences is a little
bit of Dashboard translucency. Get
what we did there?
Now we can appreciate the detail
in our backgrounds a little bit more,
whether its set to display your very

own custom photo or a gorgeous piece

of Achievement art that youve only
been able to see a sliver of thus far.
Bear in mind that certain Apps still
wont be translucent, however, due
to usage restrictions.
On top of that, theres also the
new Game Hub, which is accessible
by selecting a game you own and
then choosing Game Hub from the
menu options. In here, youre able

to see videos, game clips and VIP

players. We wouldnt like to spill their
drink in a crowded nightclub.
Youve also got access to your
own stats, tailored to each game
including numbers such as number
of deaths, highest combo and total
kills and how you compare against
your friends. Get your humblebrags
prepped in anticipation. Or, if youre
us, your not-so-humblebrags.

easter egg at the time of writing, there were 27 apps available for Xbox One.

Borderlands gunning for Xbox One

yOure Fired! > quOteS OF the mOnth > Blah Blah > he Said what? > yadda
we wanted to make sure
that this engine allowed us
to push the limits of our
creative vision.
Eidos Montreal discusses the new
Dawn Engine, created for future
Deus Ex games.

2015 is shaping up to be an
amazing year for us theres
an amazing list of games.
its gonna be a great year
for gamers.

as a token of our
appreciation we have
applied a free one-month
extension to your Xbox live
Gold membership.

Phil Spencer gets pumped for the beefy

Xbox One release schedule for 2015.

343 Industries apologises to owners of the

broken Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

grAp To bASiCS

//Whats better than one grappling hook?

three, of course. or maybe five//

Those temporuining, multi-button

QTEs that popped up
when you were hijacking
a helicopter have been
banished in favour of
a tiny time penalty,
signified by rico using,
what else, an explosive
to get into his
vehicle of


Vehicles have been

totally overhauled
courtesy of an ex-Criterion
staffer, but playtest stats
show that cars generally
only last about 30 seconds
before theyre either
been destroyed through
ineptitude or
better used as
a weapon.

20 / the official xbox magazine

Xbox One controller to power up faster

An upcoming firmware update for the controller adds improved

stability and decreases the time it takes to connect from
five seconds to just two. Thank god.

Ammo NATioN

miLE HigH

Secrets are secret for

a reason, but you can bet
your last bullet that the
infamous, bawdy mile High
Club establishment will be
here, careening around in
the skies. its been in
the last two games.

Not wanting you to be

short of ways of making
things go boom, rico now has
unlimited C-4. Although
they can no longer be
thrown, you can lay five at
a time. retreat to a safe
distance and hit the

rumour &
Five of the
biggest bits
of Xbox gossip
this month

The next
be called

because its
about birds.

gET your mEDS

ricos somewhere in the

mediterranean, with its
stucco walls and glorious
poppy fields, and enormous
mountain ranges with a skull
carved into the side of
them. What? Why? because
its fun, thats why.

excitement: 5/10
likelihood: 1/10

Lara Croft
hunts the
greatest game
of all: mAN.

excitement: 10/10
likelihood: 4/10

Life is
Strange ends

getting to grips with Just cause 3s

brand of madness

ust Cause 2 was the

game that showed off
just how spectacular
grappling hooks could be.
in 2010, they were leading
man Ricos tool of choice, and when coupled
with the unlimited parachute also proved a
legitimate way of traversing the sort-of asian
jungle and city of Panau, with every single pixel
available to be tethered onto and used
to chain together improbable items for
maximum comedy. our favourite was the manand-propane-tank combo.
So whats better than one grappling hook?
three, of course. or maybe five. avalanche
Software isnt exactly sure whats best right
now, and its still messing around. its not that
the studio is limited by technical restraints, as
even in the pre-alpha build we got our hands
on, Ricos new mediterranean playground
was utterly beautiful, and three tethers were
enough to concoct monstrous creations. a man
and two propane tanks? madness! or, perhaps


a helicopter tethered to concrete heads of

statues youve toppled, being used as wrecking
balls. or, a chopper tethered to a jet tethered to
a sports car, just like a playboy billionaire.
not that their use is limited to simply ferrying
stuff around. You can set and forget the
tethers, but lts been reassigned as a remote
power winch. with according pressure, you can
either collide your daisy chain of items together
like theyre being sucked into a vortex, or gently
reeled into just the right spot. were already
imaging the xbox, record that moments.
more? Ricos parachute has been tweaked to
be much more stable in flight, which is nice and
all, but whats really ballistic is a brand-new
wingsuit, hit Y at any time youre airborne and
youre away for a faster way to lark through the
skies. and, like the chute, you can flick out the
grapple, point it at anything within reach and
use the reel in prompt to accelerate across,
over and now under the 400-square-mile
landscape. Set your jaw to gawp and wait for
nexts months massive hands-on report.

maxine becoming
Doc brown.
excitement: 1/10
likelihood: 1/10

mortal Kombat
X has Disney
punch goofys
face off?
yes, please.
excitement: 8/10
likelihood: 1/10

HoloLens lets
us imagine a

world where
people think
were cool. Sob.

excitement: 9/10
likelihood: 0/10

the official xbox magazine / 21


Just to smite you

Could this be the game that makes the MOBA work on Xbox?

o you remember
Guardians of Middleearth? No. Nobody
does, except perhaps
somebody at Monolith
who just woke in the night,
sweating, wondering how they
came to be the person who
determined Gandalfs basic
movement speed stat. How
about, God help us, Guilty Gear
2: Overture? Monday Night
Combat? Awesomenauts?
These games were all attempts
to create a MOBA that worked on
a console. You may recognise a
few of the games in the latter
half of that list. On PC, games
following this formula are an
order of magnitude more popular
than every other type of game
a gulf to the order of tens of
millions of players. On Xbox,
MOBAs constitute Xbox Live
Arcade curios and thats about it.
Smite is in a position to change
that. Its been out for almost a
year on PC, and distances itself
from its competitors by using
a third-person perspective
(rather than top-down) and
for featuring attacks, special
abilities and characters that
emphasise the importance of
strategic positioning and manual
aim. Its roster is drawn from
historical mythology, a clash of
gods from the Norse, Egyptian,
Greek, Roman, Hindu, Mayan and
Chinese pantheons. It has grown
to become the worlds thirdlargest MOBA and recently held
its inaugural World Championship
with a grand prize of $1.3 million.


The winners of the 2015

Smite World Championship
walked away with around
$260,000 each. If theres
demand for it, the
developer plans to
organise comparable
events for the Xbox One


The Xbox One version is a port

of the PC game with a completely
new control scheme. Smite
feels remarkably natural on a
pad, with each of a characters
four abilities mapped to a face
button, regular attacks on the
triggers and special items on
the bumpers. Complex interfaces

such as the item store have been

entirely reworked, now browsable
swiftly with the D-pad. Theres a
lot to explain; well get into more
detail in next months issue.
The key reason that Smite
stands to make all of this work,
however, is that itll be free.
Guardians of Middle-earth,

Awesomenauts et al got some

things right but got that one
vital thing wrong. The MOBA isnt
ascendant on PC because it
is complicated: its ascendant
because its complicated and
costs zero money. Registration
for the Smite beta is available
now through Xbox Live.


Thors abilities allow

him to throw his hammer,
teleport to a thrown
hammer, create a
wall of rock or fly into the
sky to reposition and deal
damage. Smite has 62 gods,
each with a unique
combination of


In Smite, each player

adopts a role. This is
partly defined by your
playstyle, and partly by
your character. Youll
devote time to learning
the difference between
a solo and a jungler.
Yes, those are
real things.


telltale working on original ip

Alongside more partnerships like Minecraft Telltale is

working on its own, original game, says new CEO Kevin Bruner.
Cliched joke alert: well remember he said that. Forgive us.

How to

Your guide to
translating those
interview gems

//It feels
natural on a pad,
wIth each of a
characters four
abIlItIes mapped
to a face button//

We really admire
the work [previous
developer] has
done on the series
so far.

Youd better pray

the games previous
developers stop
taking pot-shots at
us, because I am about
one sneering headline
away from constructing
a suit made out of
human skin, and you
really dont want it
to be yours.


Smite has multiple

game modes. Conquest
most resembles a
traditional MOBA, with Joust
as its stripped-back cousin.
Arena, the most popular,
offers an accessible
introduction to combat
and is a good fit
for console.


You can unlock most

of the game by earning
favour and worshippers
through regular play.
Unusually, however, Smite
also offers a one-time
payment option that
unlocks all new and
future characters
the Ultimate god


Its all greek to me

What the Hell is a MOBA?

MOBA stands for multiplayer online
battle arena. Its one of gamings
uglier and less specific acronyms,
created so that rival devs wouldnt
have to keep saying DotA-like. DotA
was a user-created custom mode for
PC strategy game Warcraft III that
pitted two teams of five players
against each other on a map with
three routes, or lanes, stretching
between symmetrical fortified bases.
Controlling characters with wildly
divergent abilities, the goal is to
co-ordinate a push through waves of
AI-controlled minions to destroy the
enemy base requiring discipline,
teamwork and skill. Smite refreshes
much, but clings remarkably close
to this decade-old idea in its most
competitive mode, Conquest.

We dont just
work on the game;
we play it for fun
during our lunch
hours and into
the evenings!
Thanks to a
schedule so
fantastical it might
as well be written
in Elvish, theres
loads of overtime
available. As for
fun: Ive
developed a full
facial twitch that
kicks in every time
I see the games
loading screen.

Were just
going to focus on
making a really
great game.
Please, take this
unprintably empty
platitude and stuff
it in your dumb


updates new info on the big games


PubliSher UppercUt GameS / develoPer UppercUt GameS / Format XBoX one / eta early 2015


Its better down where its wetter, take it from the BioShock team
Submerged. thats the
2005 Seagal film, right?

yeah, Steven Seagal is

finally hitting Xbox. er, no.
Its actually an exploration
game, set in an crumbling,
half-submerged metropolis
which you a young girl,
accompanied by her frail
younger brother must
navigate in your boat in
order to fetch supplies.
Its developed by members
of the dev team behind
BioShock, so you know its
going to be pretty good.

24 / the offIcIal XBoX maGazIne

hang on. hasnt the

team had enough of
submerged cities?

apparently not! ed orman,

the founder and director
of the studio, said the
studio didnt see any
connection at first,
but that once it was
pointed out it seemed
a bit obvious. I like my
escapism, he said. I
often looked at
BioShock and wished
that I could play it like
an adventure game.

So its the bioShock

that never was?

not necessarily its far

more serene and only
half submerged. orman
wanted to focus on player
choice: the world can be
explored and unravelled,
or simply enjoyed. more
importantly, though, you
cant die. there are no
failure cases, orman says.
We were pretty nervous
about what people would
think of a game where you
cant die.

aw, deaths my favourite

thing in the world.

too bad. reception to the

game has been great so
far massively positive
and enthusiastic and
encompassing people of
all ages. Its a game that
is entirely player-driven,
so whether you want to
discover more about the
world, your reasons for
being here, or just tend
to mikus gravely injured
brother, taku, thats
entirely up to you.

Siblings, you say?

yup. miku and takus

relationship is at the heart
of the story, beginning with
miku nursing her brother
back to health with the
supplies scattered around
the ruins. It slowly opens
up into a larger storyline
about the events that
brought them to the city,
and the mysteries held
within. We think it sounds
intriguing were excited
to find out more nearer the
release date.


PubliSher team 17 / develoPer Self maDe mIracle /

Format XBoX 360, XBoX one / eta 2015


Welcome to the cirque dimpale

Just out of shot: the big mummy guardians
that are by no means a nod to bioshock.

looks a bit like mario bros.

no, you look a little bit like

Mario Bros. Sorry, were just
being needlessly aggressive
you have a good point.
Its a fixed-screen 2D
platformer, just like the
original Mario Bros, but
instead of wallowing around
some sewers stomping on
turtles, youre at a circus.

ooh, a circus! i love them.

dont you just

hate it when
your brother
is mortally

not this one you dont,

because the ringmaster is
a bloody psychopath armed
with more sadistic gadgetry
than your dentist. thus your
primary objective is just to
stay alive, as the unseen
ringmaster pelts you with
waves of deadly horrors
ranging from circular saws
to flamethrowers to waves
of angry bees.

hmm. a fixed-screen game

where all you do is survive

doesnt exactly have me

trampoline to the shops

hey, leave the circus puns to

the professionals, kid. While
seemingly slight at first
(there are just three screens
in total), in practice it
makes for a heart-pumping
score attack because you
never know which deadly
contraption is going to
come at you next. While you
can play competitively, the
highlight for us is the co-op,
where both of you have to
stand on your corresponding
buttons at the same time to
trigger the next wave. If you
both die at the same time,
the game ends.

Wow. Sounds like that

ringmaster is really going
for the juggler.
I told you, we do the
circus puns around here
you trapeze, um, oh. We
got nothing.

Looks just like all those lovely childhood

memories you hold so dear, right?

the offIcIal XBoX maGazIne / 25

updateS new Info on the bIg gameS
Something tells us this
lady will either get her
clothes off or show us
to someone who already
has no clothes on.


PuBlisher Focus Home INteractIve / DeveloPer Hesaw / Format XboX oNe / eta sprINg

Blue estate

Nothing more gangster than pretending to shoot guns with your hands
Blue estate. is it like
Downton abbey, but
everyones sad?

Not even slightly, no. Blue

Estate is a darkly funny
on-rails shooter about
gangsters, according
to the studios head of
marketing, abrial da costa.
even more importantly,
its fully integrated with
Kinect, if youve been
wanting to dust yours off
again. they dont have
Kinects in Downton Abbey.

ugh, fine. What can i do

with the Kinect then?

Loads of stuff one

hand controls your gun,
and the other does pretty
much everything else.
moving your weapons
crosshair is done by
pointing your dominant
hand at the screen,
da costa explains.
shooting is done
automatically when the
crosshair overlaps with
an enemy.

In real life, this lady would probably get

burns from the muzzle flare. Very impractical.
26 / tHe oFFIcIaL XboX magazINe

and my other hand does

what now?

Your non-dominant hand

is used for environmental
interaction kicking
in a door, jumping over
objects, picking things up
and throwing them. these
are done with various
hand gestures similar to
swerys use of Kinect in
D4: Dark Dreams Dont Die,
which told you what to do
and when to achieve the
desired effect.

is it only darkly funny

because ill be wiggling
around trying to kick my
way through doors?

well, you do look rather

silly. but theres also
a vein of humour in
the game one of the
characters has hair that
keeps falling in front of
their eyes, and its up to
you to fix it via Kinect, by
pretending to run their
hand through their hair,
according to da costa.

*waves hand* did you want to order a pizza?

*waves hand differently* Six pizzas ordered!

i probably should
have asked this first
but whats the game
actually about?

Its based on a comic book

also called Blue Estate,
by viktor Kalvachev that
came out a couple of
years ago. Its got tones
of Sin City, with lots of
skimpily dressed women
and mountainous men, but
the main character roy
Jr is a clueless private
eye who gets accidentally
mixed up with some
rather shady crime rings.
add in a dash of Kinectwiggling, some arcadestyle shooting and a
promise of ridiculous and
unpredictable stories, and
youve got Blue Estate. Itll
be coming out some time
in spring this year, with the
team currently working on
an extra arcade mode that
gives players a time limit
and a kill counter. Downton
Abbey it aint.

T O- D O

s av e t h e d at e s

the guide

T he s m e ll of love is in the air this m onth as

the ca lendar s flip fr o m Ja nuary to Febr uary

14th feb

World Cup

If you have the patience to

spend hours watching just
one match and also happen
to be an insomniac, this is
for you the Cricket World
Cup starts in Australia.


have a horror

25th feb

Remind yourself just how terrifying zombies plus confined

spaces can be in Resident Evil Revelations 2. The first
episode of this four-part weekly download title hits
consoles today, so steel your nerves, ready some
swears and get head-popping.

3rd mar

The remake-cum-sequel
of/to 2007s The Hundred
Years War promises an
educational historical
plot and meteorological
inaccuracies galore.

6th mar

If we could build a time

machine to undo past
mistakes, wed undrink
that third cup of coffee.
Then again, were not the
teens in this movie.

17th feb


Celebrate the onset of 40

days of self-deprivation
by feasting on some tasty
confections of flour, eggs
and milk. Our record is eight
in one sitting.

26th feb

up a
Second best might not
be the greatest way to
advertise, but the cast from
The Best Exotic Marigold
Hotel make a return in this
dramedy sequel.

6th mar

1st mar

Love games and

absolutely hate spending
money? A new batch of
Games with Gold goodies
lands today, so fill your
boots, cheapskate.

12-14th mar

take over
Weve always felt that the
one thing Thorpe Park is
lacking is that palpable
sense of threat. Yknow,
coaster cars slamming
into buildings and the like.

Rezzed is back for its

fourth year, with talks
and hands-on demos
showcasing the brightest
indie stars of 2015 year at
Londons Tobacco Dock.
the official xbox magazine / 27

Official Xbox, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA

love letters, death threats

and some stuff about
games your comments
on the mag and on xbox

CONTACT US f t @oxm e w yt

rrr! If we were to compare

the calendar to a box of
chocolates, then February
would be the coffee cream.
Its cold, everyones still skint
from Christmas and the fairy
lights are back in the attic. Still,
its the time of year the flawed but
interesting games that bottled
a Christmas release come out of
hiding. Evolve, Dying Light, Life is
Strange wed love to hear your
thoughts on 2015s first wave.



Prize: the Crew

The best piece of correspondence

wins a game from Matthews goody bag

monstEr BAsh

Just heard the news that 2K is selling individual Evolve

Monsters and Hunters as DLC. To be honest, I couldnt
cancel my pre-order fast enough. Do publishers forget
that we pay 45 just for the privilege of playing the game?
DLC initiatives leave a bitter taste in my mouth. If Im
laying that amount of money on the table, I dont want to
feel like all Im getting is an empty shell of a game thats
waiting for me to fill it with yet more money.
Morgan Reilly
We prefer our DLC as self-contained mini-stories that add
an inventive twist on the base game such as Forza Horizon
2s Storm Island, or Far Cry 4s Escape from Durgesh Prison.
Theres a time for smaller transactions weapons etc but if
not handled properly, they can leave fans feeling sour.

Beanie hats are

still a fixture
in the future.

Arrested development

With every leap in new-gen tech, it

seems to me we take two steps back
with the gaming experience. I love
Xbox Ones graphics and interface,
but these have come at a cost. Long
gone are the days when we got a game
as a Christmas gift and then spent the
remainder of the day playing it. Titles
used to be released as complete games
without the need for day-one patches.
Hackers werent able to derail those
games with DDoS attacks and Limited
Access messages. This Christmas,
most of my gaming came from systems
that arent connected to the internet.
Heres to the future. May we learn to
move forward without moving back.
Scott MacNeil
Day-one patches probably arent going
away any time soon, but maybe we should
celebrate that fact rather than lament
it. Patches give developers the ability
to make last-minute tweaks, and the
ongoing agility to respond to bugs as and
when theyre reported meaning games
arent left broken. The only reason they
frustrate today is because download
speeds are slow, particularly in the UK and
Australia. Xbox One is built to counteract
this to some extent you can set it to
auto-download updates, and games will
tell you when theyre ready to start. But
sadly, teething problems are inevitable.

from thE mouths

of totALXBoX.Com

28 / ThE offIcIal xbox MagazInE

Excerpted comments
from our website

A git writes

I was recently re-reading your 100th

issue. I noticed that in the messages
section it talks about the latest Call
of Duty rumours, and you state that
one untrue story making the rounds
is that theres a sequel in the works
subtitled Advanced Warfare. This
really cracked me up as I was playing
Advanced Warfare while reading (yes,
I multitask). Its not your fault, but it
was hilarious. Sorry if I have upset you.
Were incandescent with rage.

Evolve or revolve?

Ive been a gamer since 1980. Ive

noticed you have been pushing Evolve
a lot lately but I just cant get into it.
It seems like a glorified Brute Force
from back in 2003. (A squad based
shooter released on the original Xbox
in 2003, in which squad members with
differing abilities combined to take
down aliens. I guess when you put it
that way, it does sound a little similar
History Ed.) The problem with that
game was that everyone wanted to
play as the same character, so it died
out fast and it was hard to find good
lobbies. With a name like Evolve, youd
think the developer would come out
with a new concept. Any thoughts?
Brett Moudry
This is make or brake for the series for
me, if it doesnt have a large collection
of cars and a weather system Im done.
Battfink83 on forza 6. Was make or
brake a deliberate typo?


Brute Force! Theres a blast from the past.

It even outsold Halo: Combat Evolved for a
while, didnt it? Its fair to say that it was
a game that was a little too ahead of its
time. Youre right in your analysis of Brute
Forces downfall the key to crafting a
successful asymmetrical multiplayer
game is to make sure that each of the
classes is equally fun to play and thats
quite some ask when one of the classes
in question is a hulking 20-foot manbeast with radioactive eyes and claws
the size of baguettes. Overall opinions
on Evolves beta were mixed to say the
least and we didnt get enough time with
the final game to score it this issue. Read
the verdict in next months OXM.


While I enjoy your magazine, I really

wish you wouldnt focus so much
space and attention on so-called
indie games. Dont you realise that
no one actually cares about trash
such as The Deer God or Kalimba? If
I wanted to play childish, low-rent
stuff like that, I would buy a laptop for
a tenner off Gumtree or something.
Please, I bought an Xbox One to play
cutting-edge, epic adventures such as
Halo 5: Guardians or Gears of War
and I buy your magazine to read
about them.
Liam McNair
Variety is the spice of life, Liam. We
cant remember who said that probably
Gandhi (he said a lot of things) but its

Social Services
Your best/least libellous
Twitter and facebook replies

so true. Were dedicated to bringing our

readers the very latest on Xbox Ones
blockbuster games thats why we
travelled to San Francisco to see Rise of
the Tomb Raider, Georgia to play Smite
and, er, Guildford to go hands-on with
Battlefield Hardline. But were keen to
champion the little guys, too. The Xbox
One indie scene is home to some of
the most colourful innovations in all of
gaming, and you only have to look at one
of the games you mention Kalimba
to prove that. Its one of only two Xbox
One games to score a perfect 10 the
other being Grand Theft Auto V. Food for
thought, right? That was another Gandhi
saying maybe.

now theres a game I

wouldnt mind playing
again. Dmc was extremely
fun and hilarious in my
opinion. who could forget
the bob barbas fight?
Josh DC Dobrow-Cacci
Indie games:
everyone needs
to be a deer.

Mortal Kombat X looks

cool as (heck - Profanity
Editor). got that UFC
vibe going on.
Biggie Biggz

//If I wanted to play childish,

low-rent stuff, Id buy a
laptop for a tenner online//

The Annotated telltale Games

Your thoughts on which IP the prolific wordsmith should tackle next

about a
Muppet Babies

Mass Effect
is the obvious
choice. BioShock
would be
amazing also.
Greg Luster

a Breaking
Bad spinoff.
Aidan Puri

Peppa Pig
make it really
dark, like she eats
bacon and stuff.
Calvin rogers


The transparent tiles are quite

nice. not all the tiles are
transparent, however.
spectralmania unearths a critical
flaw with the february update.

I want Forza 6 to have

realistic drag racing and
mile runs! Is that asking
for too much?
Bob Kurtz
Personally Id like to see
a sequel to Halo Wars,
but thats not a beloved
RTS franchise, so I doubt
thats the one Microsoft
is talking about in its
job posting.
Brandon Gibson
Rogue Legacy coming to
xbox one is awesome.
been waiting for this news,
although I know people will
complain that more Indies
are coming to the platform.
but I would rather have
plenty of games, indie or
otherwise, than a small
trickle of aaa titles that
MIghT be good.
Brian fry
Somebody please tell
me the glitches that
are happening in
Assassins Creed Unity.
I havent seen any. This
game is probably the
best-looking game
Ive played.
Zack novak

Sons of
Joe mitchell

have very much been enjoying

being scared and hiding in lockers
in my spare time of late.
Is roboPenguin another writer who
handed work in late to Emma?

I respect Dark Souls

developer for bringing the
update to the old-gen
consoles as well as current
gen unlike, say, blizzard
with Diablo III.
James hunter-shortland

Seriously, everyone needs to stop

pre-ordering games, and stop
buying season passes.
But we can still buy the 129.99
special Editions, right Kanderin?

Oddworld in March, Mortal

Kombat in april, and getting
new fighters in Killer Instinct
every month till april! Im
gonna have my hands full.
Eric tidwell

ThE offIcIal xbox MagazInE / 29

fe at ure

Writer: Matthew Castle

When we last saw Lara Croft, she was battered, bruised

and barely alive. Two years later, Crystal Dynamics
invites OXM to meet a very different kind of hero

flare fizzes to life and illuminates dripping

icicles that line the cave like drool-covered
teeth. Its holder is not the human-shaped
bruise we last saw staggering from Yamatai,
but a glimpse of the raider she once was:
the bright-eyed explorer with money to burn,
who travels to the worlds most dangerous
corners in maximum comfort. Bloodied rags
are swapped for expensive climbing gear and two shiny ice
axes promise swift ascent up the glistening walls. A wise
investment, after her last model was dulled by all the skulls
she thunked it into. Lara Croft looks ready for anything.
She even has company. Fellow island survivor Jonah
beckons from above with the promise of an amazing view.
And hes right: sun rays bathe a glorious mountain range,
far removed from the shipwreck graveyard that served as

Tomb Raiders grim welcome mat. For a second, Lara looks

to be getting a well-deserved vacation. Then along comes
a sadistic holiday rep, Crystal Dynamics, to say otherwise. In
an intensely filmic sequence, cutting between direct control
and cinematics, Lara comes under attack from leg-hugging
snow, tumbling ice shards, collapsing cliffs, a surprise storm
and, for a grand finale, a full-blown avalanche.
Its the kind of out-of-the-frying-pan chain of events that
so dazzled in the 2013 reboot. Bad things didnt come in
threes; they came in waves until they triggered a gruesome
death animation. The games slogan, A survivor is born,
was spot-on, but it left an odd premise to take forwards:
isnt it enough to survive? Where does a survivor go next? As
Lara pulls herself from the snow, alone and stripped of her
advantage, Crystal Dynamics begins to lay out its plans for
the arrival of a new kind of hero: Rise of the Tomb Raider

rise of t he to m b r aider



fe at ure

The Journey Begins

having survived the worst holiday ever, where next for Lara Croft?

Laras boxes
are presumably
packed with
the hundreds
of trinkets
she looted on
her trip to
Yamatai. such
a hoarder.

o understand what
drives Lara to the
Siberian wasteland,
you have to first
understand what
drives Crystal
Dynamics. Staff
namedrop great
explorers Jacques Cousteau,
edmund hillary, neil Armstrong and
talk of mans desire to be first or go
further. These arent the Saturday
matinee larks of Indiana Jones. You
cant ride a magic red line round the
globe and expect to make history.
Lara is driven by something grander,
something studio staff summarise
with fellow pioneer Amelia earharts
bullish creedo: never do things others
can do and will do if there are things
others cannot do or will not do.
Of course, Lara has already done
things others should never have to do.
She has killed, seen friends die and
witnessed evidence of supernatural
power. For us, Tomb Raiders descent
into magic weather control jarred with
its grounded survival thrust, but maybe
this was deliberate. At the beginning
of the last game shes going to find
lost civilisation and artefacts and bring
them back to a museum and that
makes sense to someone fresh out of
university, explains creative director
noah hughes. But when she glimpses
what she does at the end of the story,
it really does change her world.
In foiling an ancient queens bodytransference ritual, Lara discovers
proof of immortality. Its a possibility

that the myths she thought were just

stories that gestured at these ancient
cultures might actually be indications
of truth about humanity that have been
lost to the ages, says hughes. And
validating this myth almost becomes
an obsession. If it is, what does that
mean? But she also goes into it with
a sense of idealistic nobility, that she
can make a difference. And thats very
different to being an archaeologist,
so we see her at the beginning of
this story starting to recognise that
uncovering these secrets is what
drives her on some level.
Alas, the world is not necessarily
in-step, with the events on Yamatai
covered up by a shady organisation,
Trinity (hinted at in the first game for
those who diligently collected all the
gPS caches), and Laras own account
discredited. Undeterred, she sets her
sights on a fabled tomb said to house
the soul of an immortality-granting
prophet. Which explains why shes on
her way to Siberia. Specifically the Lost
City of Kitezh, a sort of 13th-Century
Russian Atlantis that Crystal Dynamics
plucks from the history books and
embellishes for its own purposes. Bad
news: Trinity has booked a ticket, too.
Darrell gallagher, head of studios
and, Lara aside, a lone Brit at
Crystal Dynamics, sees a hero with
a far greater sense of purpose. She
went into that first game not really
knowing who she was or knowing
her capabilities because she was so
new to this, he says. Thrust into a
journey of survival, she realised she

its difficult to see this lara

lounging on the front of lads
mags. and thats a good thing

had an inner strength that she never

imagined she had. Where she once
thought she was going to go and find
old archaeological digs, theres much
more to it now that shes a tomb raider
developing into that character was
much broader than she imagined. Its
fulfilling her destiny.
Croft has come a long way since
those early days, where her evolution
was defined by polygon counts rather
than psychology. Its certainly difficult
to see this Lara lounging on the front
of lads mags. And thats a good thing.
But as important as storytelling is
to Crystal Dynamics it has again
enlisted the talents of writer Rhianna
Pratchett and invested in full body
and facial capture technology were
interested in how Laras new situation
impacts her as an actual adventurer. As
hughes describes it, Laras Bear grylls
act is now less of a necessity than an
enabling tool. her understanding of
myths and her intellectual brilliance
allow her to decipher these ancient
mysteries, but her survival skills are
what allow her to penetrate these
harsh and hostile landscapes. On this
last point, hughes delivers a delicious
hook: the secrets of our world are
hidden in the darkest places.
Returning Lara to her traditional
stomping ground is welcome after
the largely tomb-free reboot selfcontained box-pushing rooms do not
a tomb make but might it undermine
that works attempts to define itself
on its own terms? Its important for
us to continue the arc we started with
Tomb Raider 2013, says gallagher.
We are folding in tombs and putting
an emphasis on those which is not
necessarily going back to 1996, as its
absolutely cast through the modern
lens. What this means is taking the
survival action of the earlier game, and
pushing it harder and further


rise of t he to m b r aider

amelia earhart needs

to cool it she never
had to deal with nextgeneration snow physics.

The Lost
City of What?

the early
reveal teaser
shows a more
sombre Lara
Croft on the


the real Kitezh, or so the legend goes,

lay on the shore of siberias Lake
svetloyar, its beauty so magnificent that
word of it reached the invading mongol horde. the
city was hidden to the invaders, until a drunkard
revealed it. When forces arrived in the town,
they found it undefended and its people quietly
praying in the streets. as they did, water began
to gush up through the floor, forcing the mongols
to retreat as the entire town sank into the lake
and out of reach. apparently the townsfolk are
still there, kept magically alive in their sunken
city. thats the mythical morsel that would
catch Laras attention, although expect Crystal
dynamics to deliver quite a different take
in our demo, Croft spots the spires of the
city atop a mountain, which suggests
the lake malarkey has been
jacked in entirely.

expect more quality time

with Laras allies. the
first games conversation
system has grown.
as well as flares,
Lara comes armed
with glowsticks
good for tombs and
early 90s raves.


fe at ure

Survival of the Fittest

Bears, blizzards and bows: this is Laras toughest adventure yet

Lara has to
deal with day/
night changes,
but time wont
tick on the
level states
change as the
story unfolds.

efore talking about

how ROTTR ups the
survival stakes, theres
a silly thing you should
know about Crystal
Dynamics. Situated on
the coast in a glass
building, the studio is
bathed in a blinding light, forcing its
staff to cower below beach parasols.
every new starter gets a hat or an
umbrella, says gallagher. Its funny
that Laras bruising struggle is built
under such mildly irritating conditions,
although it could be the secret to
channelling her inner turmoil. One
things for sure: as she emerges postavalanche with her equipment gone,
the night closing in and wolf-sized
shadows in the surrounding woods,
sunburn is the least of her worries.
her first job? Rebuild a base camp,
the site used to save and upgrade
gear. For this, Lara scavenges wood
and pelts. Plants and animals dont
spit out magic XP or the nondescript
salvage used to upgrade in Tomb
Raider, but offer specific materials:
wood from saplings, pelt from a deer
half-finished by wolves. Leaves are
used to heal wounds and common
resources let Lara craft special ammo,
such as poison-tipped arrowheads.
gear upgrades require rarer materials,
from animals that now respond to time
of day. An alpha wolf only emerges at
night, for example, bringing with him
the hide for a nifty furred hood.
You also have choice over what
equipment you improve. Your first DIY

bow wont be replaced by shinier

models; it has its own upgrade path,
should you prefer it to the Compound
Bow Lara later finds. hughes sees this
range as key to bringing improvisation
to the game. All of this adds to player
choice, and theres now a side of our
survival action that starts to say, how
do you want to leverage the world and
the tools? he says. We like [survival
action] to deliver the pure baseline of
not dying, but also starting to become
powerful in the world because of your
understanding and use of it.
This really comes to the fore in
combat. Previously you could get the
drop on smaller groups, but when the
game wanted it to kick off, it kicked
off. Lara can still storm in all guns
blazing, but she favours guerrilla
warfare. her first demo encounter, for
example, begins not on the ground,
but underwater, as a new diving ability
(limited to a few seconds) lets her swim
towards the bank, pull a Trinity soldier
into the murk and drown him. emerging
from the pond she scampers up a tree
and pounces on the guard below with
a knife through the windpipe.
With the remaining patrol out in the
open, Lara sneaks between bushes,
throwing empty beer bottles (stealth
101) to distract them. Its not Metal
Gear Solid its lighter on its feet,
more about using Laras incredible
mobility to deliver on the power
fantasy of striking fast and playing
dirty than waiting out tedious alarm
cycles. get spotted and it simply
becomes the excellent cover-based

a new diving ability lets lara

swim to a bank, pull a trinity
soldier in and drown him

shooter you enjoyed in 2013. Stay

hidden and you can continue messing
with the guards: our guide throws a
downed goons crackling radio near a
bonfire and waits for his friends to
investigate before heaving a fuel
canister into the flames. Ka-boom.
The major difference between this
and the previous game is what hughes
refers to as pro-activity on Laras
part. Previously, Lara wanted to
escape, so she was heading that
direction [points outwards], but in this
story shes seeking to unlock the
secrets of the place, so she doesnt
have to be trapped in order to confront
its hostilities. Thats not to say she
doesnt get past the point of no return
and cant easily fly back to London on
a whim. While its sad we wont get a
level set on an easyJet flight (a fate
worse than Yamatai), that change of
circumstance is a refreshing angle
after the grim necessity of the reboot.
One such point of no return involves
a very angry bear. having already dined
on a Trinity patrol Lara hears their
screams over her radio he takes a
page out of our mums dinner-party
playbook and ends the soire with a
posh dessert. As he gallops from the
cave, our hero bounds up a nearby tree
to avoid swiping claws before legging
it down a forest path. Whats meant to
happen is Lara reaches a tangle of tree
roots and performs a nimble QTe to
stab a climbing axe into its paws. What
actually happens is she fumbles and
sees her head gnawed off in one of
those death animations that we all
pretend to be too grown-up to enjoy.
Striking a neat balance of scripted
intensity and a freedom to enact your
own escape, its a good taste of how
Crystal Dynamics is pushing its survival
ideas. Funnily enough, a pointy parasol
would have probably come in handy.
Maybe the staff have the right idea.


rise of t he to m b r aider

escaping the avalanche

is a scripted sequence,
full of collapsing
platforms and slowmotion leaps of faith.

Hitting the
Sweet/Horrible Spot

Wed throw a
hissy fit over
that grazed
cheek, let
alone the rest
of it. Yeesh.


if you simulate survival by its

very nature harsh and unforgiving dont you
run the risk of creating a deeply unpleasant
experience? hughes thinks of survival action as
amazing fantasy fulfilment, but acknowledges
that in prototype there were very wrong answers.
such as? it could get very cumbersome and all
about the downsides, so we made a commitment to
deliver the resourcefulness side of it but to do
it in a way that isnt punishing from an interface
perspective. each choice becomes its own game
design challenge but we at least come into it with
a survival action philosophy instead of a
survival simulation philosophy.

fe at ure

new World. Be Brave

In search of secrets, Lara laughs in the face of the beaten track

Natures mighty
scale fills
you with awe
until you
remember there
are 8,063 GPs
caches waiting
to be found.

ome critics found

Tomb Raider too
guided, whether it was
the hand-holding of
set-pieces or the
general urgency of
objectives that made
casual exploration feel like you were
doing something wrong. When youve
an angry Scotsman yelling for help, it
seems misguided to stop and smell the
daisies. Rise of the Tomb Raiders
Siberian climate rules out any hot
nose-on-daisy action, but does show
interest in Lara wandering from the
beaten path. hughes is keen to point
out that environments arent merely
backgrounds to a story, but rife with
threats; vicious predators and weather
conditions that conspire against her.
But the landscape boasts secrets that
make the threats worth facing.
Certainly when were talking about
the critical path we want to make
sure everyone understands what they
need to do, he explains, but we want
to cater to that feeling that youre
discovering things that not everybody
can, so we create a spectrum of
challenge as it relates to exploration
and signposting. In Tomb Raider the
spectrum began and ended with gPS
caches and diary entries. These asides
return, but in a pleasingly organic
fashion, such as when Lara happens
across a mysterious stone obelisk
and begins to theorise out loud about
its purpose. At some point Lara will
decipher the monolith and itll take her

somewhere interesting, says hughes,

relishing his role as treasure-hider.
We do spot odd throwbacks to Tomb
Raiders softer touch, specifically the
white scuffs denoting a climbable
ledge. That said, our demo is showing
key story moments that critical
path Crystal Dynamics is keen to
underline and hughes says we can
expect acrobatics with a little more
bite. My hope is that we maintain a
certain intuitiveness and ease to the
platforming controls, but what the
environment asks of you keeps you
on your toes, he says. I dont want
to be mean, but Ill be happy if we see
a greater equalisation of deaths from
the environment as in combat. That
the games director, Brian horton,
plummets to his doom in the opening
avalanche escape suggests the team
has nailed the sweet spot.
As well as these improvements,
Crystal Dynamics is expanding on Tomb
Raiders brilliant underlying structure the drip-feed of gear unlocks that saw
Lara reappraising territory to find new
routes. Okay, so emptying her pockets
with an avalanche is a tad extreme,
but the sense of progression should
be worth it. We liked that relationship
between these hubs that you come
back to with more gear and gaining
new gear. To be honest, therell be
some old favourites, but we set out
to make sure that this adventure is
fresh, so whether shes finding or
crafting new gear, we will expand on
her repertoire, says hughes. Finishing
secondary tasks will even earn exotic

were all going on a bear hunt.

fear level: marginally scared,
and thats with a gun

kit. Yes, it does get more exotic than a

bow made from deer guts.
A short demo cant do progression
justice, so we hop forward to a later
point in the game when Lara is more
tooled-up. her torn climbing outfit has
been swapped for a sturdier wolfcoloured number you can fill in the
gaps and her improved arsenal has
her ready to face her bear oppressor
from the earlier escape. Trekking back
to its cave reveals what a difference
time of day and weather can make to
your perception of the world; without
Mother nature throwing a hissy fit you
can better spot potential resources
and paths that beg you to follow them.
not today, though, as were all going
on a bear hunt. Fear level: marginally
scared, and thats with a gun.
The tunnel to its den is not a wise
battleground, so Lara fires an arrow
to tempt it out. emerging in a flurry
of claws, we see liberal use of Laras
returning evasive lunge to duck under
its swinging paws, blasts of slowmotion emphasising their ferocity.
A strike to her back splatters the
screens edges with blood, indicating
a deeper wound that requires manual
healing. This is no harder than tapping
LB, but with no leaves to hand shes
forced to limp over to a life-saving
shrub. Auto-ducking into nearby cover
she replenishes her poison arrows,
soon thudding into the bear with a puff
of toxic green. Ten or so shots later
and it falls with an almighty crunch.
entering the lair of the slain beast
Lara discovers evidence of a camp,
apparently proving that the Mongol
horde also pursued Kitezh. Its here
that we finally appreciate hughes
vision: further into the cave we find
an ancient greek ship stuck preserved
in a frozen waterfall. A secret tomb, a
reward for having the guts to leave the
path and face your fears.


rise of t he to m b r aider

yes, it does get

more exotic than a
deer-gut bow

the ghostly
soviet ruins
give siberia
a modern edge
compared to
Yamatais WWii

Laras ice-climbing is the

antidote to auto-climbing,
with timed button presses
required to dig into rock.

expect a pang of guilt

as you stud the bears
head with arrow shafts.
fades when he eats you.



fe at ure

To m b w i t h a V i e w

A world so bleeding-edge someone better fetch it a bandage

already you
can see how
much variety
is being
teased out of
siberia we
cant wait to
see the rest
of the world.

pon watching the

demo, the first thing
that hits you
avalanche aside is
how crisp the icy
wastelands look.
Laras initial ice climb
is tethered to a linear
path, but its beautifully decorated:
hunting gear freely jangles on her belt,
flare light sinks into the cracks
between icicles and wading through
thick banks of powered snow sees it
displaced into mucky trails. Croft
herself is impressively reactive to
changing conditions, be it pulling her
feet from snow piles or hunkering
down when walking into a brutal wind.
And yes, those ludicrously wafty
TressFX hair physics are back, though
they take time to warm up, with Laras
initial do frozen into an icy wodge.
You can see the skeleton of the
former game under the shiny details,
a result of Crystal Dynamics new
Foundation engine being built, aptly,
on what came before. This isnt meant
as a slight. The reboot was gorgeous
and still held its own in 2014s Xbox
One port. But the two share visual DnA,
with intensely scripted linear corridors
that throw blockbuster effects at
the screen and more contemplative
hub areas where Lara drinks in the
details and goes about exploring. The
difference this time? Those hubs are
two to three times larger than Tomb
Raiders, which, let us remind you,
already gave us entire mountains and
sprawling mining outposts to conquer.

Our demo reveals one such hub

a disbanded Soviet facility that
incorporates a factory, a small towns
worth of dilapidated buildings, a
rail yard and valley-crossing bridge.
Just in case any of this is read as
unreachable background detail, one of
Trinitys invading goons fires a signal
flare from the other side of the valley.
Automatically you start planning your
route over, eyeing the criss-crossing
telegraph wires and the you-couldjust-about-make-it gaps between
crumbling rooftops. Its a shame that,
for the sake of this presentation, Lara
is left looking down from a distance.
Standing still does give the
demonstrator a chance to rotate
the camera and reveal the shiniest
overhaul of them all: Lara herself.
gallagher says character models were
a big focus this time round, that Lara
is so prominent on screen, making her
spectacular is the goal. Where the
first game strapped cameras to the
actors for frame-by-frame reference,
ROTTR uses motion capture to map
the shifting musculature of the face
and better translate actor Camilla
Luddingtons emotional state. even
this technology takes a step forward
thanks to the Foundation engine.
The new motion-capture system
is actually a spray that goes over the
entire face, which gives you something
like 7,000 reference points, says
hughes. They still wear the dots,
but the system scans Camillas face,
and then maps that to these superhigh-resolution versions of her face.

looking over the vista, you start

planning the route across,
eyeing the criss-crossing wires

The effort is harder to appreciate, as

Lara doesnt have Luddingtons face,
but the actorly effort is there in every
flinch, shriek and moment of wideeyed wonder. gallagher likens it to Cg
in real time, backed up with global
illumination to simulate light bouncing
around a room essential when so
much of the game revolves around
bringing light to the darkest crannies.
Dont forget that all this is also
coming to Xbox 360. gallagher explains
that with the Xbox ecosystem and
community spread across multiple
platforms, and Tomb Raider achieving
such impressive things towards the
end of the console cycle, the studio
felt it should at least try to share the
vision. We went through a process
of saying will it translate? and when
we [saw] an early version up and
running, we were amazed. [We] got
a translation that we felt was a real
technical marvel, so it was a great
thing to support that. The judicious
use of translation suggests this wont
be an exact match, something we can
only speculate about.
even if its a shorthand version
of whats achieved on Xbox One,
thats still quite a demand on the
wheezing tech. In order for Crystal
Dynamics to focus entirely on pushing
to the bleeding edge of Xbox One
technology, hughes says his team
is working with nixxes, who handled
Tomb Raiders PC and PS4 ports, on
the last-gen version. he admits the
team thought it had hit Xbox 360s
ceiling with Tomb Raider, but is happy
to report Weve gotten some sneak
peeks at what nixxes is doing and it
really is working magic its taken the
bar that weve set on Xbox One and
trying to realise that as faithfully as
it can. hang onto your faithful Xbox
360 then, just dont expect those
meticulously wafty hair physics, okay?


rise of t he to m b r aider
the games first
major hub is an
abandoned soviet

The Microsoft

the nature of microsofts

exclusivity agreement remains as
locked down as one of Laras tombs, though
Gallagher keenly talks up the benefits of
strong first-party support. from a purely
technical perspective he describes how a postGamescom progress review saw microsofts Xbox
team descend on the studio to help dig into the
machine. there are so many talented people in
Xbox that have hardware-specific knowledge and
expertise and it felt like we extended our team
to a bunch of amazing expertise we didnt have
access to before. from a development standpoint
its great to feel like we have this bench
depth to call on. this expertise
should give the game the gloss
and feel of a first-party

Lighting is particularly
pretty, creeping around
icicles and rocky mounds
in realistic fashion.



fe at ure

To m b i t M a y C o n c e r n

Laras back where she belongs - getting crushed and confused

Not a lot of
raiding going
on here. more
like rise
of the tomb
Watcher. its
a far safer

or a game called Tomb

Raider, tombs were
conspicuously absent.
Instead of the ancient
machinery of old, we
found self-contained
puzzle chambers filled
with modern-day
contraptions. Tombs are largely absent
from our Rise of the Tomb Raider
presentation, too they are too big to
dip a toe into, were told though
they arent far from hughes mind.
Although enthusiastic about all his
new ideas, its the promised return of
true raiding that lights the fire in his
eyes; an excitement backed up by a
showreel of deathtraps to come.
We catch glimpses of catacombs
sprawling over multiple floors. A
waterlogged shrine with lakes of
shimmering green murk that will no
doubt test Laras diving ability. Theres
an intriguing hellenic-looking number,
with verdant greenery hanging from
majestic pillars. none of this, it should
be noted, looks native to Siberia.
Although this has been announced as
a globetrotting adventure, hughes is
keen to eke out the variety from any
given space, even if theres a little
bit of creative liberty. A shot of grand
doors carved into Petra-esque rock
suggests Lara better pack sun lotion.
Crystal Dynamics has a proven eye
for tomb architecture, having given
us the excellent Legend, Anniversary
and Underworld before rebooting
the series. Underworld, in particular,
gave us a huge leap in sophistication

fuelled by a new console generation.

Think of a ziggurat jutting from the
vast seabed or a shrine so large it
had to be tackled on motorbike, and
Tomb Raiders modest crate-pushing
cubbyholes look no more epic than a
trip to your garage. ROTTR arrives after
a second technical leap, so surely
we should be expecting some pretty
spectacular evolution?
I think one [development] is scale,
and pushing scale in general. There is
a sense that my most memorable tomb
experiences are these giant places
that feel almost unsolvable from a
gamers perspective. And I think thats
something were able to push from a
technology perspective, says hughes.
But dont assume the line is drawn
at bigger is better. Often its the
immersion and storytelling that really
add that other important layer. You
got a glimpse of it in the teaser, but
the idea is that through lighting and a
more dynamic effects system, theres
a lot more personality in every space.
And its not as if Laras world is
neatly split into tombs and survivalfocused wilderness. Threats from one
can bleed into the other. There are
animal guardians that are just guarding
their territory but are ultimately
barriers to discovering these ancient
spaces, explains hughes. Factor in
that aforementioned desire to see Lara
die as much from challenging traversal
as lead-absorption and you get an
exciting sense that tombs are back
with a vengeance. Careful as he is not
to spill any exact details, hughes is

its not as if laras world is

neatly split into tombs and
survival-driven wilderness

willing to be drawn on his more general

tomb-building philosophy.
The first key ingredient? I think it
starts with the awe-inspiring ancient
spaces and that sense of discovery
when you walk into them. For me,
coming into them we talk about the
giant door or something that basically
presents you with a problem to solve
needs a balance between enough
grounding and believability that it feels
real, but a degree of grandeur and
almost improbable scale and ambition
that for a moment you really are in
awe of what people built once upon a
time. So: enter and drool. What next?
going to the next level, it really
is about solving puzzles and getting
a degree of scale. We use the term
nested puzzles, and part of that
means having more than a single thing
in a room, so as we make these rooms
bigger you create this situation of, Oh,
I need to get up there to do that thing
and then I need to get over here. That
its tricky to pick exact details from
the showreel is due to many points of
interest battling for attention amid the
renewed scale and verticality. The final
step is taking such a promising space
and lacing it with your deadliest ideas.
The tomb weaves together all of
the games pillars. As much as theyre
an almost set-piece moment for our
puzzle designers, youre also having
to do some of your craziest traversal
to navigate these tombs. And youre
avoiding traps and, in some cases,
fighting animals, says hughes.
It makes perfect sense that a game
called Rise of the Tomb Raider would
see its ideas converge and amplify in
those titular constructs. Its a pretty
ambitious promise, sure, but as Amelia
earhart said, never do things others
can or will do if there are things that
others cannot do or will not do. Words
for adventurers, and studios, to live by.


rise of t he to m b r aider

hang in there, Lara. (Listen, you

try captioning these pictures
after 6,000 words of feature.)

thats the
look of
someone about
to do a hell
of a lot of

Rise of the
Tone Raider

after the bleak reboot we wonder if

treading more traditional raiding ground
will see this adventure find a more romantic
tone. hughes says its natural for the stories
to take on different personalities, but thinks
it more a question of variety. even in the
last game we tried to go from dark and almost
horror-like claustrophobic spaces to wondrous
ancient spaces and moments of defeat and moments
of success. its interesting for us to cover a
lot of tonal range independent of the story.
that said, he does recognise that theres an
underlying shift in direction. the way i sum
it up is that the last story was a survival
story where we glimpsed tomb raiding
and this is a tomb raiding story where
we use survival to unlock
those secrets.




Battlefield Hardline
Publisher EA / DeveloPer ViscErAl GAmEs / Format XboX 360 & XboX onE

The handcuffs are off as the cops-and-robbers shooter

comes to Xbox and weve gone hands-on with the beta

alancing a game of
cops and robbers
cant be easy not
with all those
doughnuts those
police officers
keep stuffing down
their throats, right
guys? which is
one of the reasons why Battlefield
Hardlines release date slipped from
last November to this March.
After gauging feedback from a
multiplayer beta test on PC and PS4
last summer, the decision was made
to delay the game so Visceral could
make some further balancing tweaks.
By the time you read this, the second
(and hopefully final) multiplayer beta,
which began 3 February, will be in full
swing and this time Xbox owners are
invited to the party.
Three maps are playable in the beta,
and it is on one of these Downtown,
a sprawling urban grid decorated
with skyscrapers and multi-storey car

42 / thE officiAl XboX mAGAzinE

parks that we discover how Visceral

has come through with its promise of
delivering quicker engagement with
the enemy, without sacrificing either
scale or tactical freedom.
Were playing Hotwire, a mode
that, ostensibly, has the same rules as
stalwart game mode Conquest. That
is to say, the objective is to claim set
points on the map and hold on to them,
draining the opposing game of tickets.
Except this time, one of the points is
hurtling towards us at 200 miles per
hour, into our legs and crushing us
against a concrete wall.
The points are souped-up cars and
lorries, and the objective is to reach
them, hotwire them (or take control,
if youre playing on the blue side of the
law) and then drive them at high speed
in order to suck tickets from the other
teams cache like some kind of smokebelching succubus. What at first seems
like an absurdly tacky reimagining
of classic Conquest (which is also
playable in the beta) soon gives way

New team, new
Dead Space
dev Visceral
takes charge of
Battlefield and
lays down the
law on clichd
the series as a
war on crime
police sim.



thE officiAl XboX mAGAzinE / 43

working in packs is the best way

to bring a target to justice. it
also helps if your eye in the sky is
paying attention, too. Down here!
Once youve got the gold, the heist
team has to sprint to one of the
extraction points. Holding the gun
sideways wont help, but looks cool.

Levolution isnt restricted to one

catastrophic event there are loads
of small (and not so small) ways you
can modify the maps layout.
Bank Jobs front door
not subtle, but as good
an entrance point as any.

Tiny outlets such as this are

scattered all across Dust Bowl.
Perfect snipey hidey-holes.

Downtown invariably hides

the best loot in the bowels
of its car parks.

44 / thE officiAl XboX mAGAzinE


to rich cerebral warfare, as you learn

just how difficult it is to take down a
hotwired car in full flight and just how
much teamwork is involved in clawing
back a ticket deficit.
The obvious way to take down a car,
of course, would be a heavy weapon
such as an RPG. Visceral grew wise
to players overusing them during the
first beta, so now heavy weapons are
few and far between limited to a few
prized pick-ups scattered across the
map, often in murky car park corners.
While theyre worth pursuing, for
the most part the best tactic is to
commandeer a vehicle (you can spawn
with muscle cars, bikes, sedans or, if
you think you can tame it, a helicopter)
and cajole a few teammates to hop in
and act as your artillery, transforming
your standard roadworthy vehicle into
an all-round offensive terror.
But youll struggle to bring down
a target without backup, not least
because these maps are built for the
chase. Downtown in particular begs
for pedal to hit metal its cramped
interiors are enveloped in a network
of criss-crossing roads that allow
fleeing cars to loop round the map in
elaborate circuits.

Arrested development

If youre struggling to bring your

target to justice, you could always try
levelling the playing field. Literally.
Battlefield 4s Levolution feature
which enables you to trigger
catastrophic events that change the
landscape of the map in dramatic
ways returns, here in the form of
a construction crane that can be
smashed into a row of buildings,
causing devastation and breaking up
the road layout.
Other Levolution events are more
organic such as the howling, blinding
sandstorm that kicks into gear as
matches on the desertscape Dust Bowl
map approach their conclusion. The
storm turns a map famed for its long
sightlines on its head, letting infantry
make their move without fear of their
brains getting sniped out. A vast,
sprawling map littered with niggly
buildings, theres plenty of cover for
foot soldiers but plenty of scenery for
cars to get snagged on too, so players
whove bagged a target are well
advised to vacate to the hilly, dusky
exterior of the map, where they can hit
top speeds, but with the trade-off that
there isnt much cover from choppers.
Dust Bowl is purpose-built for
Conquest and Hotwire games, and

//If youre struggling to bring your

target to justice, you could always

level the playing field. Literally//

manages the trick of feeling right

for both. But other match types, such
as Heist, require their own levels.
And so we have Bank Job, an urban
map with a fairly self-explanatory
theme. Its a compact map that crams
in a little bit of everything the
bank itself is framed by wideopen pavements with long
sightlines that converge into
chokepoints. Inside, mazy
office spaces give ample
room for camping, and a
stairway overlooking the main
entrance gives dastardly players a
lookout from which they can dropkick
grenades onto unsuspecting enemies.
Heist is an altogether more
energetic, twitchy affair, with players
typically engaging at shorter ranges.

we love the
way the siren
reflects off
your weapon
when youre
riding, ahem,

Again, the benefit of a beta shines

through with the modes balancing.
Previously, the criminal team were
making short work of breaking into the
vault and scampering to the extraction
zone. In this updated version, they
now have to hunker down and
defend the zone until the
copter arrives to whisk them
away a copter that can be
shot down, if the police have
their act together.
Hardline is an almost
unnecessarily bold reinvention
of one of Xboxs most universally
loved multiplayer first-person
shooters (when the servers are
working, that is). Its faster and louder
and more hip-hop-y and dare we say
more gimmicky. But, after an initial
huh? period, we have to say it works.
While we wouldnt flush that copy of
Battlefield 4 down the toilet just yet,
Visceral, in its full Battlefield debut
no less, has crafted something very
different, yet something that manages
to encapsulate what it is that makes
Battlefield the thinking gamers Call
of Duty. Now, if only all of this beta
testing can translate into servers that
work from day one
Alex Dale


20 mAr



One problem with hosting wild car

chases on small, compact maps is that
its all too easy to go out of bounds
and theres rarely enough time to
comfortably do a U-turn.

Spawny beggars

How Visceral fixed the Mechanic class

The Mechanic class is Hardlines take on the
traditional Engineer class but since upkeep
of vehicles is less of a concern in this iteration,
participants of the previous beta found it to be a
redundant class. Visceral has made Mechanics
matter again with a few tweaks first, focus has
shifted from vehicles to gadgets, many of which
can now only be used by this class. Second, they
now respawn closer to the action, playing to the
strengths of their mid- to low-range arsenal.

thE officiAl XboX mAGAzinE / 45

Geralt can gallop all he
wants, but the best way to
catch a Griffon is to shoot
it down with a crossbow.

Publisher nAMco bAndAi / DeveloPer cd Projekt red / Format XboX one

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Its the end of days and theres a ghost in the well. Who you gonna call?

heres something about

the expression on the
peasants finely textured
face that suggests he hates
Geralt. Is it because our
hero is a mutant monsterhunter, or has the peasant realised that
Geralts swords are worth more than
his house? The shabby gentleman has
bigger problems, like chronic thirst.
Local rivers are contaminated, and
the only other source a well in an
abandoned village nearby is haunted.
Were an hour into The Witcher 3s
prologue and already distracted. The

world RPG
based on a
series of
Polish novels
a mutant
with a very
bad temper.

world is gorgeous and full of needy

peasants with problems. Theres
also a wider mission to find Geralts
sorceress lover, Yennefer, but the
rolling hills and forests of this
rural region are too rich to just
gallop by. What right-minded
adventurer would pass up a
haunted well?
We whistle for our horse
and ride towards the ruins.
Its morning, and a lurid sunrise
stains the world bright orange. A
breeze is disturbing the trees and long
grass. It doesnt look quite as crisp as


19 MAY

Mostly armless

The Witcher 3 is way more violent

than we first thought
The developer has kept the games advanced
dismemberment system quiet. Geralt lops limbs
off enemies with startling regularity, and his
strong attacks slice enemies clean in half. The
fire spell has a chance to set clothes alight,
causing enemies to run around the battlefield
screaming before collapsing into a blackened
mess. Geralt walked out of one fight dripping red
like a gooey jam monster. This is a good thing.

46 / the officiAl XboX MAgAzine

the early screenshots and videos, and

hopefully CD Projekt RED can fix
the problematic screen-tear before
launch, but The Witcher 3 is already
the best-looking RPG world ever.
Hopefully the studio will clean
up the bugs, though. The
horse runs perfectly along
worn trails, but occasionally
goes more horizontal than
wed like on lumpy terrain.
The well is a menacing place.
Geralts Witcher Sight a vision
mode that reveals clues like torn-up
bodies and dropped items of interest
highlights a red blob in the bushes,
which turns out to be a charred dog
corpse. Ugh. We find more charring on
the floor and a journal in a nearby ruin
that recounts the last days of a local
farmer mourning the loss of a loved
one. Geralt deduces that the spirit
must be a Noonwraith a ghost that
appears at midday every day to take
unwary travellers. If wed wandered
through the area at noon, we would
have seen the ghost first-hand and
solved the mystery immediately.
Every sidequest we tried during
the demo was as involved as this.


This looks bad, but a

witcher can butcher ten
of these lowly guards in
mere moments.
Occasionally a drunk farmer
will try to fight you. Use
your witcher mind-trick, or
dissuade them with fire.

//Charging into major fights

without preparation makes them

a lot more difficult//
CDP might just have delivered on
its promise of an RPG with no fetch
quests. Missions do lean on Geralts
Arkham City-style detective vision,
but that means you spend more time
exploring and almost none reading
reams of text. The only exception is the
journal which tracks the monsters
you meet, with notes on how to kill
them. Its here that we learn that the
Noonwraith must be lured into a trap
spell to give it corporeal form, then we
can kill it with a silver sword.

crafting and alchemy if you dont want

to drop the difficulty a notch. The
Witcher 3 controls like a modern,
accessible adventure, but under the
hood it betrays the series origins as a
fiddly PC RPG. Those rituals do make
the monsters feel dangerous, though.
Theyre not disposable fodder.
The fight with the Noonwraith
proves this point. Geralts magic trap
normally slows enemies to a crawl,

Oil and slaughter

fix THiS

This is a relatively simple case. Some

monsters require you to craft potions
and oils. That means youll want to find
recipes, pick flowers or roots and
combine them with the clunky crafting
interface. Charging into major fights
without preparation makes them a lot
more difficult, so youll have to master


we saw a Griffon fly inside a hill

and refuse to come out. its easy to
see why the dev delayed the launch
for polish we dont want anything
like this in the finished game.

Horses die
a lot, but
Geralt just
calls them all
Roach so he
doesnt get
sad. Cold.

but it causes the shadowy spirit to take

on the form of a screaming banshee.
Fighting is a simple matter of stringing
light and strong strikes together, and
dodging every so often. Geralt can
parry, but thats useless unless youre
facing human opponents. We lure the
ghost into view and hit it with fast
attacks to whittle down its health.
Enemies hit hard, so its advisable
to keep your protective shield spell
active. Unfortunately, switching spells
means breaking the flow of combat
to pick from an option wheel. The
combat system also struggles against
large monsters such as Griffons, where
your dodge cant put you beyond their
reach. Geralts new mini-crossbow lets
you damage them a little at distance,
but expect a few frustrating fights.
Still, sending the Noonwraith back to
hell is fun. Peace and water return, and
Geralt gets a payday. More importantly,
weve had a good taste of The Witcher
3s world. In spite of combat and
interface niggles, and some technical
problems, its as huge and detailed as
wed hoped. Its going to be epic; we
just hope CDP fixes the little things.
Tom Senior
the officiAl XboX MAgAzine / 47

Reaching this contraption
signals the end of the
demo. Our bet? Its a big
wedding ring and youre a
tiny spider-priest. All
very allegorical stuff.

Publisher Two TribeS / DeveloPer Two TribeS / Format XboX one


Whats got four legs, no story and infinite ammo? No, not Bambi 2: The Reckoning
Takes all the
good parts of
2D platformers
and twin-stick
shooters, jams
them into a
box and speeds
everything up
by 200%.

efore youve seen a title

screen, before youre
taught the controls and
well before you begin to
understand the startling
number of ideas youre
about to come across, Rives demo
shows a spider-tank bursting out of
an exploding wall. This says more
or less everything we need to. Its
confident, spectacular, fast and brash
everything Rive turns out to be once
you get over that initial shock and start
to find out what the hell is going on.
As far as early looks go, we cant
remember many better. In its first
game since downsizing to a threeperson studio, Two Tribes has taken
two familiar (and often unremarkable)
genres in the 2D platformer and twinstick shooter, jammed them together

then surgically attached as many shiny

new pieces as possible.

Game of two halves

Your controller setup reflects how

simple this hybrid idea is at its core.
The left half contains your platforming
controls movement and jumps
the right, your shooter necessities
aiming and blasting. Youll face
challenges that suit both
learning to perfectly doublejump moving obstacles or
spin your cannon around to
hit one set of robotic enemies
as you eject EMP missiles to
immobilise the crowd on your
blind side.
Speed is everything, not least
when the game combines the two
disciplines. Your avatar moves at a



//The game introduces new

ideas roughly every 30 seconds//

Depth charge

Rives appeal is as much about the

little things as it is the big picture
Speed is everything to Rive, but slow down and
you notice the details. Shielded enemies drop
their defences as a power-up the more you
damage it before they die, the less useful it is
to you. Getting hit fills your screen with neon
scrapes, making multipliers harder to keep up
with. Hacking an enemy slows the world down,
letting you switch direction in mid-air. We can
imagine score-chasers finding obsession here.

48 / The official XboX magazine

mighty clip, tearing past cartoonishly

overwrought techno-scenery,
weaponry tearing through hordes of
enemies, while the game introduces
new ideas roughly every 30 seconds.
At its best, you move from hacking
passing healing robots to a combined
lava-chase/mass brawl, to a darkened
room lit only by your tiny torch
beam and tracer fire, ending in
a brief, frenzied boss fight.
Its calibrated not just for
spectacle, but for score
attack were fairly sure you
could keep a score multiplier
building throughout the
entirety of the demo.
Gaining abilities and equipment
throughout the demo from
secondary weapons to target-specific
hacking protocols theres a sense
of pleasingly modular progression.
It could manifest in a Metroidvania
set of unlocks, but were expecting
something more shooter-specific,
power-ups for power-ups sake.
There are so many elements at work
by the end that were left dreaming
about how theyll be implemented. A
final section reveals that hacking flying
bots has them emit an anti-grav field
whether thatll be used for exploration
puzzling, 360 shoot-em-up sections
or both is just one of many questions
were left with. Frankly, why else do
you blow open a wall, other than to see
whats on the other side? Rives left us
devastatingly curious, and we wont
be sated until weve ruined all the
masonry it has to offer.
Joe Skrebels

If it werent for all the
zombies, driving around
Trumbull Valley would be
positively scenic.

Publisher Microsoft studios / DeveloPer undeAd LAbs / Format XboX one

State of Decay:
Year-One Survival Edition

An open-world zombie survival game without the hassles of human contact

The surprise
zombie hit of
2013 makes its
way to Xbox
One, mildly
remastered and
with all
prior add-on

alk open-world zombie

games and invariably
talk turns to DayZ the
PC-exclusive MMO that
famously proved right the
old movie clich about
humanity being a bigger threat to
itself in times of apocalypse than the
undead shufflers themselves. Most of
the time, the zombs took second billing
to the other human-controlled players
in your game world, who would as
soon stab you in the eye for a tin of
canned spaghetti than entertain any
notion of forming an alliance. But as
compellingly open-ended as DayZ was,
the constant skulduggery wore thin. If

only there was an offline equivalent,

where the zombies could take centre
stage and do what they were born to
do namely suck your brain out your
ear through a straw.
As it turns out, Xbox 360s
Live Arcade service has
actually hosted such a game
for two years now. State of
Decay received a lukewarm
reception upon its release in
2013, mostly due to its roughand-ready presentation, as flaky
and inconsistent as any of its subject
matter. The hope is that this Xbox One
remaster allows the game to finally
fulfil its promise of being the offline

//Hope is this remaster will fulfil

the ambition of an offline DayZ//
Zombie Elation

Owners of the original rewarded with

money off, and a maniac
Year-One Survival Edition may not present
anything substantial that existing State of
Decay owners havent experienced already,
but Undead Labs hope to entice the hardcore
to double down with a 33% discount. Theyll
also unlock Gurubani, an Indian-American
survivor with a penchant for swords more
specifically, swinging them wildly at bunches
of undead jerks. Nice!


DayZ a persistent game world

where youre tasked with establishing
a base and venturing out into an
expansive zombie-packed world to
scavenge supplies and food for your
fellow survivors.
Hands-on time, however,
points to this being a
modest makeover, with
the character model
textures and lighting getting
particular attention. Other
tweaks improve the experience
a greater draw distance means
more scope for forward planning, and
does better justice to the size of the
world you inhabit.
Year-One Survival Edition also takes
some of the base management features
introduced in the Lifeline DLC pack
enabling you to set traps and choose
battle tactics and transplants them
into the main game. Lifelife is one of
two DLC packages included in this
package. The add-on gives you more
firepower, since youre now part of
a military unit known as Greyhound
One. The other chunk of side-content
is Breakdown, which strips the story
from the main game and adds an
even greater emphasis on survival.
Technically, this mode is endless, but
the difficulty curve is such that the
Year-One Survival Edition tagline
seems laughably optimistic. Maybe a
few hours instead, if you tread lightly?
Paul Randall



the officiAL XboX MAgAzine / 49

Heyyy, pretty lady. Do you
come here oft-ARRRGH, WHY

Publisher Versus eVil / DeveloPer stoic / Format XboX one

The Banner Saga 1 & 2

Been Odin out for a decent Viking game on Xbox One? Youre about to be very Loki

he gods are dead but

the world still turns
and continues to break.
Humanity and their
(sometimes) allies the
Varl, great horned giants,
have been left adrift to make their way
through this time of hardship. Old
enemies, the Dredge, have once again
resurfaced to wage war on civilisation.
You travel vast distances across
beautiful landscapes reminiscent of
the golden years of animation and the
decisions you make along the way will
have far-reaching implications.

A deceptively
vast strategy
game that
brings the
word epic
back to its

Thats Arnie Jorgensen there,

co-owner and art director at Stoic,
telling us about epic Scandi-drama
The Banner Saga. We were going to
go with imagine a Telltale game
about Vikings and gigantic
stone robots, animated by the
people who made all those
terrifying yet beautiful videos
you had when you were a
child, and also everyone has
magnificent beards but that
description works, too.
At its beardy heart, The Banner
Saga is a role-playing text adventure

Treading new ground

A lorra lorra lore to discover

Every location in The Banner Sagas world has

its own in-depth lore attached to it, much of
which youll never see because of the branching
dialogue, choices and your own path across the
land. Even if youve played the game before on
iOS, the Xbox One version could see you finding
out completely new things whether theyre
little tidbits, such as how Ingrid washes her
hair, or more meaty, like how its all secretly a
metaphor for drinking too much caffeine.

50 / the official XboX magazine

with strategy-led, turn-based battles

thrown in for good measure. Theres
also a survival element as you drag
your family, clan and small army across
the unforgiving land, trying to
make the limited supplies last
just long enough to let you
reach the next village. Now
the team is bringing it to
Xbox One as well as the
sequel, The Banner Saga 2.
With a game thats got so
much going on, what is the focus?
Jorgensen argues that its up to
you. We were careful to make the
turn-based combat very challenging
for players with a mind for it, he
says. But for players that are more
interested in the story, combat can be
scaled down. The story is what drives
you from battle to battle, but thats
quite a cynical way of looking at it
its just as easy to take the combat as
another way of continuing the tale.
No one can dodge the story,
Jorgensen says. If youre one of those
people who treats story and cutscenes
as extra homework, this game is not
for you. Admitting that the game is a
fairly dense saga, Jorgensen notes




Walking in a Winter
Wonderland as long as
youre still in possession
of both your legs, that is.



it is revealed that The Banner Saga

was actually a documentary all
along, shortly before were all
beseiged by Vikings. Again. Should
have listened to the warnings

//Imagine a Telltale game about

Vikings and gigantic stone robots,

with lots of magnificent beards//

that Stoic still hasnt ever been told

to cut back possibly because of The
Banner Sagas gripping, immersive
text adventure segments. The story,
Jorgensen says, is the most powerful
part of the experience, and were
inclined to agree.
Its very clever how its all done.
A lot is said in very few words,
says Jorgensen so you never feel
weighed down with text, despite the
huge amounts of wordage contained
within. All the time, you feel tied to the
game to whats happening because
of how its written. You feel as if your
input makes a difference to this rag-tag
group of survivors, albeit ones with
glorious facial hair.
And if story is the heartbeat of it
all, then the design is its circulatory
system: both supporting and adding
to the narrative, the gorgeous, handanimated art infuses the game with

a style reminiscent of golden-age

animation. Hair flows and flaps in the
harsh winds, snow drifts and blows
through the sky, and vast, sweeping
mountain ranges stand stoically in
the background as you and your clan
trudge through the snow, banner
flying behind you.

Norsey but nice

You get the feeling its cold,

unwelcoming and generally
unpleasant, and no words have to be
said. When youre told that youre
running low on supplies, or that
villagers are begging for your help,
you feel immersed in the game and
in the story enough to know the
weightiness of what it all means and
this is, in no small part, down to that
spot-on design.
But we want more. Our greatest
compliment is I want more!, says

The kids who

had growth
spurts in
primary school
always stood
out the most.

Jorgensen. But he worries that its

also their greatest criticism: we left
nothing on the field by the time we
shipped [the first game], he says. Not
only is the studio planning on making
The Banner Saga 2, its also thinking
even more ahead. We designed the
game from the beginning to be a
three-part saga and we plan to see it
through, says Jorgensen. And even
that might not be the end: [We] have
no interest in abandoning the world
weve developed after The Banner
Saga 3 is done.
Were practically plaiting our
beards in anticipation The Banner
Saga was easily one of the best, if not
most interesting and different games
that came out last year. Best of all, we
didnt even have to venture out into
the Scandinavian hinterlands even
once. We wouldnt survive. Weve
never killed a moose. Weve never
seen a moose. Luckily, Jorgensen is a
little more optimistic. The blood that
flows through my veins is Norse, he
says. I sit, doing art on the computer,
hunched over, for ten hours at least.
Day in, day out with arms that should
probably be pulling at oars. Goodness.
Wed like to have him in our Nordic
clan. I feel that I would have perished,
frozen, face-down in the snow, on
the trek to Frostvellr, in the first few
minutes of the game and thats only if
I hid behind a cask in the mead house
during the tutorial battle. Oh.
Kate Gray
the official XboX magazine / 51

Its no wonder the
helmet cam is so good
Slightly Mad Studios
also made Need For
Speed: Shift.

Publisher Bandai namco / DeveloPer Slightly mad StudioS / Format XBoX one

Project CARS

Can this crowd-funded racing sim really steal Forzas crown? Maybe
racing sim
designed and
funded by the
of racing
fans. Multidisciplined
racing action
with huge
variety of

ust imagine if someone

asked you what youd
like to see in a new racing
game. Which cars youd
want to drive, which
tracks youd like to race
on. Thats how Project CARS was
designed. Its development was crowdfunded by racing fans, who then had
their say on what went into it and
tested it along the way. And now,
after more than three years in the
making, its finally revving up on the
Xbox One starting grid.
Just so there can be no confusion:
this is a hardcore, ultra-realistic racing
simulation. There are novice difficulty
options, plus driving lines and assists
available, but the experience is meant
to be as realistic as possible, so it pays
to switch them off. Mind you, if you

push your car too hard or get in one

too many scrapes on pro difficulty, it
will give up on you. The power dies,
you pull over and then your race
engineer radios to tell you to stay in
your seat until a marshal comes. So
you sit quietly at the side of the track,
wondering if the cloud of smoke in
your mirrors means youre about to
explode. Yes, GTA does have a lot
to answer for.
The car handling
varies nicely between the
disciplines, from floaty, thinwheeled junior categories
and twitchy karts through
to stuck-to-the-track, highdownforce, flat-out-through-Eau
Rouge mean machines. And, unlike
Codemasters F1 games on Xbox 360,
getting a single-seaters wheels caught


20 mar

//Get into too many scrapes and

your car will give up on you//
Go, have fun

Here you go, take the keys. To

absolutely everything
Forget the pootle about in a meticulously
rendered Reliant Robin for a week to get to the
good stuff school of design. Everythings
unlocked from the start. You can move between
teams and disciplines by earning contracts in
Career mode, but theres nothing to stop you
going straight into Formula A the generic
equivalent to Formula 1. Youll struggle to be
immediately competitive, but thats realism, eh?

52 / the official XBoX magazine

up in someone elses ends in realistic

disaster. Similarly, hitting a car from
behind will pitch it upwards over
your nosecone. It isnt uncommon to
see unfortunate racers flipped over in
accidents. The damage modelling is
unlikely to satisfy Burnout fans, but it
does affect your cars performance.
You can jump straight into Career
mode, but its the single-race
option that is likely to
fascinate you most when you
start playing. The options
for races are exhaustive,
with any hour of the day or
night available on every track,
ready to combine with every
kind of weather condition bar snow.
The dynamic weather system features
magnificent rolling clouds, which clear
in real time (or in accelerated time,
if you prefer), changing from dry to
deluge seamlessly and affecting your
cars grip accordingly.
The tracks, too, offer an impressive
spread of experiences. One minute
you can be thumping kerbs at Oulton
Park, the next gawping at the view on
Californias coastal road.
With an optional, breathtakingly
authentic in-helmet camera option to
experience it all, Project CARS has the
potential to set a new benchmark for
racing game realism on console. But
that potential may yet go unrealised.
Several aspects the AI, in particular
still needed a lot of work the last
time it was shown. It really could go
either way. Keep your fireproof-gloved
fingers crossed: this might be amazing.
Justin Towell

We wonder what command
we need to bark to get
him to stop browsing
Facebook while hes
meant to be working

Publisher IrIdIum StudIoS / DeveloPer IrIdIum StudIoS / Format XboX one

There Came an Echo

Also known as There (there) Came (came) an (an) Echo (echo, echo, echo)
A voicecontrolled
field tactics
game that
lets you boss
around Wesley
Crusher from
Star Trek.

here Came an Echo is a

brave premise. Played
entirely through voice
commands unless, of
course, you opt to use a
controller, but thats just a
bit boring, isnt it? the games more
about strategically ordering the little
people on-screen around rather than
the more typical getting-your-handsdirty approach of most games.
Most games abstract away the
control of living, breathing soldiers to
buttons on a controller, says studio
founder and developer Jason Wishnov.
Were used to that as gamers, but
it isnt realistic. Commanders dont
control humans with invisible puppet
strings they command them, and
trust their units to take care of obvious
minutia, like reloading and aiming and

not standing around out of cover like

idiots. There Came an Echo aims for
this more realistic approach units are
aware of how to do things; they just
need you to tell them when and where.
The sounds made by human
faceflaps are a big part of this game,
from your voice yelling out commands
to the voices of the characters
themselves. A fairly stellar cast,
from Wil Wheaton and Ashly
Burch to videogame veterans
Laura Bailey and Yuri
Lowenthal, accompanies
the story to great effect.
[Celebrity voice acting]
definitely helps an indies
visibility, Wishnov says. Its getting
tougher and tougher to stand out these
days as an indie, so you have to do
something really special.



//Units know how to do things

they just need you to say when//
Have your say

Our suggestions for the best custom

voice commands
Should we go full Star Trek, replacing change
to taser gun with set phasers to stun or just
pretend like were some mad war general and yell
things like GET SOME BULLETS IN YA instead of
reload? At the moment, were favouring Gordon
Ramsay-themed commands: IF ONE OF YOU
up the action rather nicely.


But while its a bonus to have star

names attached to your project, its
also a pragmatic choice. Even a great
story can be ruined by sub-par acting,
says Wishnov, and sub-par acting is
clearly not a problem the team had to
deal with. Superb scriptwriting, clever
fourth-wall breaking and monologues
dripping with raw emotion are all in a
days work for these acting pros,
and that natural chemistry
between the cast matches the
intense story incredibly well.
The real question is does
it work? Microsofts onagain, off-again relationship
with Kinect has made many
of us lose faith in voice-controlled
gaming, and there havent been too
many examples of good, ready-to-use
voice control in the rest of the tech
world, either. But extensive testing
and constant updating of the game
has proved fruitful, with Wishnov
saying that he is aiming for clean and
accurate voice recognition.
The advanced voice recognition
in There Came an Echo allows for
customised commands, making it one
of the most personal control systems
weve ever seen. I usually alias Corrin
[Wil Wheatons character] as Wesley,
admits Wishnov. [I change] open fire
to something with a lot of profanity.
But Ive done my absolute best to try
and break it, so Ive tried things like
buckminsterfullerene and the artist
formerly known as Prince. Just dont
set your voice commands to Xbox
turn off, yeah?
Kate Gray
the offIcIal XboX magazIne / 53

Well, they lied about the
lifeless part look at all
that water! Someone call the
Trade Descriptions people.

Publisher Lace games / DeveloPer stage 2 studios / Format XboX one

Lifeless Planet
Its life, Jim, but not as we know it

ankind has spent a notinconsiderable amount

of time trying to locate
Earthlike planets, but
if sci-fi films, TV, books
and games have taught us
anything, its that theres great value in
the gazillions of empty, inhospitable
ones, too. Not only are you far less
likely to be kidnapped by General
Zarblog or be eaten by ravenous
space weevils, but you get to have a
nice wander around an eerie, barren
environment without worrying that
you might be trespassing. Theres a

A storyfocused game
set on alien
planet. Why
are you there?
And, for that
matter, why
is some
Russian town?

lot of wandering in the aptly (or is it?)

named Lifeless Planet, an adventure-y,
platform-y, exploration-y game that
touched down on PC last year. Its
also on its way to Xbox One, so
we asked developer Stage 2
Studios what its all about.
Lifeless Planet was
inspired by old-school
adventure games and science
fiction stories, explains
designer David Board. I loved
the Twilight Zone stories and Cold
War-era sci-fi movies. And I also really
enjoyed the LucasArts adventures



Another Earth?

A life less ordinary on a seemingly

abandoned alien planet
A big part of the game is its juxtaposition of alien
elements with more ordinary ones. Shortly after
your arrival, you see an image of a bed lying out
in the wilderness, while other Earthly features
quickly impose themselves on the lifeless
landscape, including powerlines and houses. Its
a startling and effective approach that will make
you question everything around you, from your
location to the very laws of physics.

54 / the officiaL XboX magazine

that came out in the 90s. There was

so much story and originality in games
back then. I also was just looking
for an interesting twist on the space
adventure. I came up with the hook
about humans on another planet in the
context of a modern space mission,
and things just clicked from there.
If youre wondering why exactly
youve been stranded on another
planet, Board isnt spoiling much, but
he does explain that it begins
with your little spaceman
waking up on the planets
surface, minus one shuttle
crew he brought with him.
Friendly chap that you are,
you decide to go looking for
them and thats when all the
weird stuff starts happening.
Weird stuff like otherworldly
visions, a strange woman named
Aelita whos able to survive without a
spacesuit, and an encounter with an
empty, Soviet-era town. So the first
mystery you have to unravel, Board
teases, is whether youre really on
another planet, or back on Earth.
Did you time-travel during your FTL
trip to the planet? Or is this another
dimension? How could Russians have
reached the planet years before you?
It all sounds a bit Lost but in a
good way of course. From what weve
seen, were reasonably certain that
it has nothing to do with purgatory,
smoke monsters or the dude from


A tiny figure standing on a

distant jutting rock? Yep,
the intrigues being
layered on here.
You wont be fighting any
monsters here, but you will
be solving simple puzzles
and jumping over pits.

//Friendly chap that you are, you

start looking for your missing crew

thats when weird stuff starts//

Person of Interest. It is a bit flashback-y,

however, with the game employing the
hoary old trick of having audio logs
and data entries dotted everywhere.
Most of these are voiced in Russian for
maximum authenticity, with your PDA
translating them to written English.
New to Xbox One are a few new audio
diaries and tunes, along with more
detailed terrain and a prettier (lifeless)
planet across the board.

Life finds a way

If the screenshots have you worried

that this life-averse planet might be
a bore to explore, dont be. Board
promises that there are a number of
different environments on the planet
its not all Mars-like, and it may not
be entirely lifeless. The games 20
areas offer a mixture of open and more
linear environments, but its a far from
an open world theres always a path,

or at least a shining beacony thing or

sign of civilisation guiding you. Most
levels also have side areas to explore
if you want to learn a little more about
the planet and the colonists if thats
what they were! But yes, in the end its
all about story. I really want people to
play through to the end and experience
the full story.
As sci-fi stories go, Lifeless Planets
reminds us of a little of 2001 or Solaris,

bIg IdEA

This is part of a trend in games that

prioritises story and exploration
and downplays, well, everything
else. Some call them walking sims,
and there is a lot of that here.

Were told
that the Xbox
One version
of the game
will look
even better
than its PC

in that all starts a bit science-y before

quickly venturing into much weirder
territory. Space tends to bring out
the philosopher in people, and Board
is no exception.
It starts with actual science. And I
think stories like this work because of
the contrast of hard science with the
fiction elements. I wanted to put the
character in this impossible situation
and say, What would a scientifically
minded astronaut do when presented
with the unexplainable? Im a big fan
of Lovecraft and his philosophy that
the universe is far larger and more
unknowable than humans can imagine.
Science is still the best tool we have for
investigating the world, but theres a
place for stories where science breaks
down in the face of human experience,
in the presence of the unknown.
Another perhaps less ponderous
unknown is the Xbox One release
date, but then this does seem to be
more than a simple port. Board is
really happy with how this new
version is looking, and if it lives up to
its premise, theres a good chance of
us feeling the same way.
Tom Sykes
the officiaL XboX magazine / 55

Co-op encounters
require communication
and co-ordination
plus experience,
equipment and the right
balance of classes.

Publisher Bethesda / DeveloPer ZeNimax ONliNe stUdiOs / Format xBOx ONe

The Elder Scrolls Online:

Tamriel Unlimited


Bethesdas sprawling online RPG finishes its journey to Xbox One

An open-world,
take on the
setting of
Skyrim and
Minus the
freedom and
some of the
scope, plus

e knew that Bethesdas

massively multiplayer
take on The Elder Scrolls
was coming to Xbox
One, but not when
or how its pricey
subscription fee would translate to
the platform. Now we do. The game
is due in June, and that subscription
fee is being ditched outright in favour
of an in-game microtransaction
store offering convenience and
customisation items. Read: experience
boosters and hats.
On PC, where the game has been out
for a little shy of a year, the change is
being cited as a sign of trouble; if the
subscription fee had been profitable,
that argument goes, then the change
wouldnt be necessary. Ultimately,
that doesnt matter a huge amount.

The new deal is better for players, and

makes the game easier to recommend.
We played TESO extensively after
it was released on PC, and given
that Bethesda promise exact parity
between the two versions including
post-launch updates were in a
position to tell you what to expect.
Despite aspiring for Skyrims look
and feel, this doesnt offer anywhere
near the same level of freedom or
even visual fidelity. Much has to be
sacrificed to make fair multiplayer
a balanced option, and that means
curtailing your dreams of stealing
every cheese wheel. Similarly, its
attempts to tell a single-player story
within that multiplayer framework
falls flat. A cast including Kate
Beckinsale, Bill Nighy and John Cleese
fail to enliven a script so dry it could

Go to war

TESOs competitive mode offers

conflict on a scale you havent seen
Alliance War is TESOs best feature a largescale conflict between the three factions
taking place on a huge open-world rendition of
Oblivions Cyrodiil. You can build and command
siege engines to capture fortresses, and the very
best players can be crowned Emperor. The rest of
the game can sometimes feel like a compromised
take on the setting Alliance War is so novel,
particularly on Xbox One, that you wont care.


dehydrate the Mariana Trench. This,

at least, it has in common with pretty
much every other Elder Scrolls game.
Its also a rather flat game, lacking
the vertical dimension that makes
Skyrims mountain-scaling hikes
so memorable. Extensive reuse of
scenery throughout makes it feel like
theres less to discover, and a truncated
draw distance (although were yet to
confirm that this will be a pronounced
issue on Xbox One) denies the game
the series staple vistas.
Lets move on to the good. The
combat system is more abstract than
is traditional for an Elder Scrolls game
but also deeper, still relying on twitch
skill to a degree but matching it with
special abilities that take advantage
of planning and co-operation. This is
supported by an excellent, freeform
skill system that enables you to build
the character you want by picking and
choosing from multiple subclasses.
Magic archery, healing warriors and
sword-wielding mages are all options.
TESO has its fans and its detractors,
but theres nothing like it on Xbox One.
This is an open-world online RPG with
scope that dwarfs Destiny. Although it
cant match Bungie for looks, Zenimax
has its number when it comes to
content. Our advice, though, is to
temper your expectations and wait for
the review.
Chris Thursten
the Official xBOx magaZiNe / 57


on the
The other games
you should know
about this month

We bet Nikola Tesla is

turning in his grave.
Publisher GambiTious DiGiTal EnTErTainmEnT / develoPer Guru GamEs / Format XboX onE

Magnetic: Cage Closed

ts like Portal, but with magnets. That

might sound like a lazy comparison,
but the game makes it so easy. You
wake up, discover that youre a
prisoner/test subject, and are
hastily equipped with a magnet gun that
has the power to manipulate objects
such as a magnetic cube that has
to be placed on big, red switches to
open doors, allowing you to progress
into chambers with dodgy-looking
water and yet more cube-related puzzles.
Theres also a sinister, slightly hammy
disembodied voice narrating your antics, and
we admit wed not be entirely surprised if this
turned out to be a bad guy.

Were not saying that similarity to Portal is

a bad thing being compared to one of the
most inventive puzzle games in recent history
is hardly unflattering but Magnetic just
seems a little too happy to borrow the ideas
of a game it clearly used as inspiration.
obviously the magnetic mechanic is
something a little bit new, and weve
seen it used in interesting ways such
as propelling yourself through a room
by repelling yourself from an object.
but the dank, dim setting and the lack
of any significantly weighty physics dampen
our expectations slightly. Perhaps the game
will redeem itself, but unless it can find some
original thoughts, its going to polarise. Heh.

Publisher TEam17 / develoPer moDErn DrEam

Format XboX onE

Publisher anioDE / develoPer anioDE

Format XboX onE


Publisher VErTEX PoP / develoPer VErTEX PoP

Format XboX onE

We are Doomed

LA Cops

e are Doomed is a twin-stick arcade

shooter whose neon, geometric art
style manages to be at once retroinfused and unlike anything weve seen before.
separating this from other arena shooters is
its unusual weaponry. The range usually
afforded to you is denied here, as your primary
form of attack is an intense laser beam that fries
everything in its path, but only reaches
out a short distance. You do have a rangy
secondary weapon that needs charging up,
but most of the time youll be forced to weave
in and out of danger if you harbour any
aspirations of bothering the top end of the
high-score tables. Were already feeling a bit
competitive, since we talked to the
developer and the team said we
would never beat its high score of
400,000. bring it on, guys. Come
on, brinG iT!

eam17 has gone on a recruitment spree in

recent months, snorting up indie projects
like an aardvark with a crazy straw
snorts up ants. LA Cops is arguably the most,
ahem, arresting of its plunder a 70s themed
isometric take on Hotline Miami, where the
titular cops deliver justice by busting into crims
houses and shooting them dead before they
can reciprocate. like Hotline Miami, its more
puzzler than action game the trick is to sneak
up on enemies so that you see them before
they see you. The twist is that you switch
control between two different cops ideally
positioning the other so they cover you in the
event of plans going completely up the creek.
in practice however, our back-up
offered as much grief as reward, so
we ended up pocketing them in a
nearby cupboard and using them
as a spare life.

58 / THE offiCial XboX maGazinE

Natures Zombie

ast time we went to a safari park, we

looked around at the listless, shivering
creatures and thought, This is incredibly
sad because none of these monkeys have
chainsaws. Thank the animal God, then, that
Natures Zombie Apocalypse has finally given
all things bright and beautiful an arsenal of
weapons. its a zombie game at heart, but rather
than playing Gruff mcbeardface, youre taking
control of one of a bunch of animals a crab
with a turret gun, a duck with a flamethrower,
a snail with a shell crammed with TnT with
each weapon tailored to fit the creature
wielding it. also, its set in london.
is it a bizarre premise? Yes. Does
it look like how we imagined the
apocalypse? maybe. is it good?
Er, well have to get back to you.


Publisher TinYbuilD GamEs / develoPer
DoublEDuTCH GamEs / Format XboX onE

Publisher milEsTonE / develoPer milEsTonE

Format XboX 360, XboX onE



veryone knows the best multiplayer

games are the ones where you get
to screw over your idiot friends, and
SpeedRunners has refined this to a fine art.
a frantic, twitchy endless runner where you
attempt to shunt your fellow racers off the edge
of the screen, Micro Machines-style, by chaining
together jumps and rope swings to get across a
platforming circuit, it hardly needs help to foster
a competitive edge. and yet, you can further
alienate your friends by scuppering their race
with a trap. its a leveller in the same vein as
Mario Karts shells; even if youre a pro walljumping at precisely the right point, making sure
not to jump onto the spikes, sliding under the
low overhang you could still be taken
out by your friend with a power-up
that freezes you in a block of ice.
suddenly, youre dragged back and
go off-screen. Tough luck, mate.

ould this be the Forza of motorbikes?

With glossy slow pans across the body
of a lovingly rendered, detailed chassis,
it certainly has the fetishism down pat. There
are over 100 bikes to choose from superbikes,
supersports, historical and naked. Wait,
naked? you say. oh, dont worry - that just
means a standard bike. no motorcycle naughty
bits here. What would that even look like? lets
just get back on track. Just like as in Forza,
you can change all the fiddly bits of your bike
brakes, transmission, engine, etc and there
are plenty of official models, too, from suzuki
to Triumph and everything in between. it looks
incredibly impressive so far, but coming from
a studio with a long history of bikey
games, such as Superbike and
MotoGP, we expect nothing less
than the very best that bikes have
to offer. bikes! bikes! bikes!

Publisher rECo TECHnoloGY / develoPer rECo

TECHnoloGY / Format XboX onE

Publisher TEam17 / develoPer Dlala sTuDios

Format XboX onE

Yasai No Ninja


hat if Kung Fu Panda was actually

about vegetables? That must have
been what the team behind Yasai
Ninja asked itself before it started excitedly
drawing up character designs like broccoli Joe
a shameless nomad fighter - and samurai
onion, a silent, old-school kind of guy. Either
character can be used to play through the
hack-and-slash campaign, each with their own
benefits and disadvantages. With a mixture
of fighting, puzzle-solving and 18 chapters of
story, Yasai Ninja is a little bit like Fruit Ninja,
if Fruit Ninja were about vegetables in a quest
through feudal Japan, hoping to get revenge
on the evil lord Cucumber. so, not very similar.
apart from the slicing and the vitamin
C content. it looks intriguing, but we
have one burning question: can the
samurai make people cry by
cutting off his own limbs?

hink an arena-based platform-brawler

in the fashion of Super Smash Bros, but
with an even shorter attention span, if
you can imagine such a thing. its Overruled!,
a somewhat less star-studded affair where
lego-shaped werewolves, superheroes and
clowns scramble to collect cards that allow
them to change the conditions of the skirmish.
one minute the name of the game might be to
collect coins, the next, trying to avoid being the
person whos on fire when the music stops (you
can pass the contagious flame on to another
player with a well-timed punch). its a sound
idea, but theres a problem. The scrapping part
of the game simply isnt very good. The pugilists
land limp, unsatisfying punches that
dont feel like they could chin a bee.
Getting this critical part of the game
wrong, well, overrules all the good
that the game does do.


final despatches from

the industry frontlines
+++ Sad faces
all round at OXM
headquarters, as
it appears that
Human Element
is probably no
more. The studio
in charge of the
game, robotoki,
has closed down,
putting the game
on hiatus for
now but when has
that ever been
promising? +++
The Neverwinter:
Elemental Evil
expansion has
been announced
for Dungeons
& Dragons:
Forgotten realms,
adding a higher
level cap and a
Paladin class +++
Treyarch Studios
is having a great
time teasing Call
of Duty fans by
posting photos
of Pearl Harbor,
rumours that
the next
instalment could
be a sequel to
World at War.
More updates on

THE offiCial XboX maGazinE / 59

fe at ure


Writer: Miguel Concepcion

After rejuvenating the series with a nostalgia-heavy

reboot, NetherRealm Studios is hoping to build a bright
new future for the blood-soaked world of Mortal Kombat

60 / The oFFiciAL xbox MAgAziNe


M Orta L KO M Bat X

tepping into NetherRealm Studios for the

first time, we werent sure what to expect
from the office that the notoriously violent
Mortal Kombat series calls home. water
coolers that dispense gushing blood? work
experience kids staggering around with no
arms? Keyboard wrist rests fashioned from
freshly severed spinal columns?
As it turns out, and probably for the best, NetherRealms
chicago office is more functional than ostentatious, with
nary a hint of blood splatter or brain matter decorating its
clean hallways and cubicles. only the cabinets stuffed with
trophies, plaques and merchandise samples hint that this
is the building where the latest chapter in Mortal Kombats
incredible legacy is being forged.
This is a series, remember, that famously traded blows
with Street Fighter in a high-profile scrap at the top of the
fighting-game mountain two decades ago, and while the
genres influence has dipped in the meantime, Mortal Kombat
is arguably more relevant today than it has been at any time
since the 90s. And it can trace its resurgence to inside
these very bloodless walls and NetherRealms 2011 reboot
Mortal Kombat, which followed in the footsteps of Street
Fighter IV, taking the series back to its 90s glory days by

exhuming classic characters, scenarios and mechanics and

giving them an attractive hD facelift. but now with Mortal
Kombat X, NetherRealm finds itself having to face the same
question capcom is attempting to answer with Street Fighter
V over on PlayStation 4: what comes after nostalgia?
if anyones well placed to answer that question, its Mortal
Kombat co-creator, and Mortal Kombat X director, ed boon.
in an industry where high-ranking designers and creative
directors wander from studio to studio like lost puppies
throughout their careers, ed boons 23-year involvement in
the Mortal Kombat series is an anomaly to be admired.

Gore stories

For a man currently in the middle of crafting a sequel that

sees Mortal Kombat look to the future instead of the past
no small task boons relaxed demeanour is impressively
and immediately genuine. his drive is in giving fans lashings
of what they want and a healthy side order of what his studio
predicts they will want in the future. And he has fun doing it.
And one of the things boon and his team have singled out
as a priority is a strong, cohesive storyline to underpin the
single-player campaign. This is part of a project-wide focus
within NetherRealm to ensure that the solitary experience
gets its share of love making it something of an outlier in
The oFFiciAL xbox MAgAziNe / 61

fe at ure

Lionel raynaud
ubisoft Montreals Creative
VP xxxxxx xxx xx xxx xxx xxxx
xxx xxx xxx xx xx xx

a f a t H e rS
a V was
I tmost
e t

part of the game to see

to finish?
Id sayKombat
its the
scope, is
the challenge
me, as a historian, wasnt
the first
as much
we had
whats Kombat
of to
is huge
we had
a digitised
sure as
the key was
was really
a spear
the difficulty
people are
response from
is believable,
really feel
youre in
come intojust
the french
and ask,
from walking
the spear
By then
I had a feeling we had
a lot of the
I haveisaninemotional
french. How
did you cometoupScorpion.
with that?
If you look at the graffiti
on the wall in the game,
thats all real graffiti that
we found in archives its
about being against the king
or after the king was dead, or
theyre angry at the clergy.
thats the sort of dialogue
well have within the city.
If you could create the next
assassins Creed game, what
period would you set it in?
Obviously, Id really like
to do ancient egypt. I think
taking ed
a period
that is
Boon which
know much
have is
a lot
then trying
to bring it
to real history I think that
is the same
of deal.
as three
Its very
2D arcade games,
1, 2, and 3. then there was
we ever
which was
or Greece?
alliance, Deception,
and armageddon. then theres
the Xbox 360 era of MK vs DC
and Mortal Kombat 2011. So if
I had to pick two, it would
certainly be the last Mortal
Kombat and ultimate Mortal
Kombat 3, oddly. I think a lot
of people love Mortal Kombat
II. that comes up a lot. I
do think there are special
moments in all my games that
Im proud of.

62 / The oFFiciAL xbox MAgAziNe

Say goodbye to
Shao Kahn, and
hello to Kotal
Kahn, the new
emperor of

a genre thats grown obsessed with

multiplayer. Fighting games for the
most part are single-player games,
says designer Derek Kirtzic. Unless
you always have a buddy sitting next
to you, or if you play online, the only
other content is single-player. And
if you dont put a lot of single-player
content in there, aside from training
and challenge modes, theres just not
that much for a person who just wants
to play by themselves.
Fortunately, NetherRealm gave itself
a relatively clean slate to work with,
having hit the reset button in its last
Mortal Kombat title by using Raidens
magic to transport us from a faraway
dystopia back to the (relatively)
carefree days of the very first Mortal
Kombat tournament in 1992. This time
travel mischief can be considered as a
convenient do-over for the series not
unlike how JJ Abrams for better or
worse rebooted the Star Trek movies.
both tales altered events of the past
without diminishing the value of all
the stories that came before it. Mortal
Kombat x continues that storyline
almost immediately after the events
of the 2011 game, while also making
multiple leaps forward in the timeline
over the course of its story.

The narrative pacing is similar to the

last Mortal Kombat and Injustice: Gods
Among Us, says Kirtzic. we know that
having a story is very uncommon in
fighting games. we still believe there
needs to be a strong single-player
aspect to our games, and weve gotten
great feedback from it, even as far
back as Mortal Kombat vs Dc, so why
scrap something that works?

Kiddy kombat

go far enough forward in Mortal Kombat

xs story and you end up in periods
when, naturally, the children of familiar
characters join the cast, like cassie
cage, the daughter of Sonya blade and
Johnny cage. Dont expect cassies
martial arts repertoire to be a mere
amalgamation of her parents abilities
shes as strong-willed as her DNA
suggests. As producer hans Lo put it,
That was a very conscious decision.
You cant just reskin an old, popular
character and make them hipper or
younger. cassie uses elements from
both her parents while still having her
own uniqueness in how she acts and
moves, not to mention her personality
and attitude. her Fatalities are very
unique to her. The story will reveal that
she is very much her own character.

M Orta L KO M Bat X

Kung Lao and

raiden, two
allies who
have great
taste in hats.

we still believe there needs

to be a strong single-player
aspect to our games

cassie cage, a truncheon-wielding,

gun-toting police force fighter, is
probably the most strait-laced of
all of Mortal Kombat Xs newcomers.
Although thats faint praise when the
other debutants include the likes of
DVorah, a half wasp, half-lady hybrid
whose cloak conceals a raft of deadly
insect appendages. These include a
pair of wings that she uses to get extra
height on her throws, and a pair of
giant wasp feet that swing out from her
abdomen like a disgusting hula hoop,
extending her reach from a standing


attack. impressive for sure, but not

as rangy or as outright weird as
fellow newcomer Kotal Khan, a greenskinned Aztec warrior blessed with
the ability to hurl glowing iconography
across the screen. As you do.
ed boon and many of his veteran
designers know the balancing act
all game sequels face. how do you
introduce new characters and new
features without tampering with the
parts of the previous games that
fans loved? For Mortal Kombat X, that
balance is based on capitalising on
the wholly positive reception of the
2011 reboot while challenging fan
expectation with the new Variation
movesets, which enable you to tailor
your favourite character to fit your own
personal fighting style.
Mortal Kombat X is fundamentally
story-driven, but the competitive
multiplayer scene is where fighting

Cassie Cage
appears to
have received
style tips
from tekkens
Nina Williams.

The oFFiciAL xbox MAgAziNe / 63

fe at ure

rivalries are
given fresh
twists thanks
to the new

(Re)Enter Kung Lao

the character inspired by James bond villain oddjob is back but even old fans will
need to learn his hat trick of new moves to get the best from the classic character
Taking cues from Capcoms slow, intravenous drip
method of revealing fighting-game characters
over many months, NetherRealm and Warner Bros
Interactive announced Kung Lao as the latest addition
to the Mortal Kombat X roster during our visit. Hes
been a fan favourite since his introduction in Mortal
Kombat II, much thanks to his bladed hat, inspired by
Bond villain Oddjob. Even as a familiar combatant from
the 2011 game, the new Variation movesets mean that
those who use him as their go-to fighter will need to
learn several new techniques.
Kung Laos base group of moves appear in all
variations including his dive kick, teleporting and, of
course, his hat throw. The hat becomes the basis of
his three variations. Tempest allows for horizontal and
vertical throws that can yield potent combos. It feels
like the most balanced of the three move variants as it

64 / The oFFiciAL xbox MAgAziNe

has offensive and defensive strengths. Its key benefit

is in space management, since his levitating hat can
control four feet of space in front of him.
Buzzsaw is not only the offensive powerhouse of
the three variations, but also expands on the lethality
of Kung Laos hat. Its saw-like blades and the ability
to seek the opponent makes for a deadly combination.
The Buzzsaw version of the hat can also slow down on
command, which can confuse novice adversaries.
As its name implies, Hat Trick is the creativity and
finesse moveset of the three variations and the one
that NetherRealm developers believe will take the
longest to master. The hat functions as a floating
trap, that you can suspend above downed opponents,
making it that much harder to stand up. Of the three
variations, Hat Trick has the most potential power in
dictating the pace of a given match.

games sing, and its feedback from

leading tournaments and the eSports
experts that has inspired the Variation
feature. Towards the end of the last
Mortal Kombat, wed been talking about
fighting tournaments such as eVo,
says boon. Those who participate
and attend tournaments are always
talking about matchups; Raiden is a
bad matchup for Mileena, Scorpion is
a good matchup for Sub-zero. And we
were asking ourselves, why is that?
is it because this fighter is a distance
fighter, or that fighter doesnt do well
against projectiles?
To make it a competitive match, you
have to change characters. but people
dont want to stop playing with their
favourite characters. They would say,
i love Sub-zero and i dont want to play
with anyone except Sub-zero. So we
said, Lets make a version of Sub-zero
that plays differently and has different
strategies. And that escalated to
making different versions for every
character. That ultimately led to each
character having three play styles.

The spice of life

cryomancer, for example, is the style

of choice for Sub-zero players with an
offence-heavy game, equipping him
with a flurry of ice-based weapons that
improve both his range and his anti-air
attacks. Safety-first players will want
to pick Unbreakable, introducing an
ice parry into the mix that can counter
careless blows. Finally, grandmaster
allows ol zero to summon an ice clone
that can be thrown or used as a shield,
disorientating your foe.
it would be natural for a game
in Mortal Kombat Xs position to be

M Orta L KO M Bat X

about Kung
Laos hat....
the smaller
blades around
it arent just
for show. Its
part of his
deadly Buzzsaw

Mortal KoMbat X is more

of a closed space, an
intimate setting
shaped in some degree by the studios
recent projects. Aside from the obvious
continuation from the last Mortal
Kombat, the more recent Injustice:
Gods Among Us had a hand in the
interactive environments of Mortal
Kombat X. Yet dont expect to send
Scorpion crashing through the batcave.
Injustice was crazy with how many
things you could do says boon. You
could throw cars at people, throw
people through walls into different
environments. Mortal Kombat X is

much lighter. its more about jumping

over things, manoeuvring yourself.
Theres some background interaction,
but Mortal Kombat is more of a closed
space, an intimate setting where
we didnt want to make them like
superheroes. i like that Mortal Kombat
and Injustice are very different.
indeed, Mortal Kombat Xs
interactive backdrops present tactical
opportunities with the environment
that werent possible in its
predecessor. To be more specific, its
The oFFiciAL xbox MAgAziNe / 65

fe at ure

Bow before me,

pitiful barn!
Your feeble
slats are no
match for my
iron might.

more focused on leveraging space. if

youre a zone-style fighter, you can use
that interaction to create distance from
your opponent. if youre a rusher, you
can use the environment to get close
to your opponent.
with fighting games, a lot of corner
shenanigans usually happen, explains
Kirtzic. by putting in level interactions
that let you get out of corners, it
practically lets you reset the match.
And we also brought back running,
which wasnt in the last game.
The tactical environmental
opportunities in a given match are a
layered experience that force you to
plan ahead, beyond the current round.
The level interactions dont reset in
between each round. You throw a log
and its gone for the entire match.
having stamina also helps to minimise
exploits. each time you backdash,
that takes down a chunk of the meter.
each time you use a level interaction,
that uses a meter, so you cant just

exploit your surroundings and bounce

from interaction to interaction. And if
you try it, it will put you in a hard spot,
because a perceptive opponent will
know your meter is empty.

Scorpion and
will they ever
get along?

The grin towers

Another significant change in the

new release is the conversion of the
challenge Tower from the last Mortal
Kombat into a new mode called the
Living Towers. The challenge Tower,
as you might recall, housed a
succession of trials ranging from
Test Your Strength mini-games to
regular battles with peculiar
conditions. Your special attacks

we want players
to say, whats new
today? every day

this is why you dont

touch plug sockets
with wet fingers.
66 / The oFFiciAL xbox MAgAziNe

could be disabled, for example, or

your blows might only deal damage
while your opponent is in the air. with
its imaginative remixing, the Tower
forced even expert Mortal Kombat
players to approach battles in new
ways and scaling its 300 floors was
a massive undertaking that added
significant longevity to a title that
might otherwise have found itself
lacking purpose in single-player.
but reach the top of the Tower and
you had nothing left to do but hop
off. Mortal Kombat Xs Living Towers
hope to give you a reason to carry on
the climb indefinitely a feat it will
accomplish by constantly remixing its
own challenges, rather than offering a
prescribed set of trials.
The three towers refresh content
at different intervals: one changes
its match playlist every hour, another
every day, and the third changes for
calendar events such as christmas
and halloween. A more freestyle Tower
requires a more versatile approach,
and so unlike the challenge Tower
you get to pick your own fighter as
opposed to being stuck with a predetermined one. The appeal of the
Living Towers isnt the climb to the
top so much as its about engaging
in a match altered by one or two predetermined modifiers.
NetherRealm has over 100 of these
condition changers planned, including
falling explosives, lightning strikes,
cyrax bombs, faster movement speed
and even changes to gravity that will
allow you to juggle opponents with
greater ease. Surviving these trials
results in rewards such as experience
boosts, Faction points and other prizes.

M Orta L KO M Bat X

the sash symbol

translates as
please, for
the love of all
that is good,
dont kick me
here. Heed it.

War Of tHe

if the frequent turnover of new

content in the Living Towers sounds
familiar, thats because frequently
changing content has been the
lifeblood of many social and mobile
games. There are trends weve seen
such as the really successful Puzzles
& Dragons, says ed boon. Some of
that appeal is in what were doing with
these Living Towers. whenever players

turn the game on, we want them to

experience new content that was
downloaded to their machines.
it could be challenges from the
studio or maybe from friends, but
we want the player to say, whats
new today? every day. Thats our
philosophical approach. Nostalgia be
damned; Mortal Kombat X only wants
you to look to the future.

ferra and
torr will
add new
challenges in
both solo and
online play.
theyre two
who behave
as one.

If you could visualise the

interconnectivity of Mortal
Kombat Xs features, it would
be a tree. Modes branch off
from a central trunk, a new
faction War, that unites
the solo and multiplayer
components. think of it as
an enhanced global user
profile, one that doesnt
just track your performance
across all of the campaign
and online matches but feeds
into a grander narrative.
every combatant is required
to choose one of five sides
to feed into. all five are
familiar to long time fans
of the franchise. the Lin
Kuei (or forest Demons) are
basically team Sub-Zero, a
gang of cruel assassins for
hire. the White Lotus Society
- home to Liu Kang, raiden
and the finest hats in all of
earthrealm - offer a calmer
alternative. Or could throw
down with Jax and Sonya in
the Special forces or their
enemies in the Black Dragon
Clan. fancy something really
loopy? the Brotherhood of
Shadow beckons.
Whether you play against
the aI full time or fight
against real-life opponents
online, your results affect
your associated faction on
a weekly basis, where the
victors spoils include
badges and other rewards.
Its just another way for
Mortal Kombat fans who just
like single-player to be
indirectly involved with the
community. In other words,
its a team effort without
the pressure and anxiety of
needing to play online.

The oFFiciAL xbox MAgAziNe / 67

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the official xbox magazine / 71

Discover the inside story

of Fable Legends

Interactive iPad edition also available

With exclusive studio access, issue 277 of Edge digs

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The most important Xbox releases rated

nuMbeR Of TiMes we
ThOughT a guillOTine
gun was a gReaT iDea




ThRee Things we weRe

fORceD TO Review in The
absence Of acTual gaMes
A dog we saw on the street:
5/10, not enough legs
Review scores themselves:
7/10, derivative
Our own crushing sense of
despair: 3/10, WHYYYYYY?


A satirical take on the technologically

dependent generation. JK, zombies (p74)

fOuR pRisOn escape

MeThODs inspiReD
by The escapisTs
Distract the guards
with a copy of OXM #122
Hide a shiv in a stuffed owl,
kill everyone
Do your time like a good convict
Paint yourself the same
colour as the walls


Scoffed at references p76


Flapped around hell p78

Benched 100kg p80

Saved an adorable robot p82

Went grave-robbing p86

the officiAl xbox mAgAzine / 71


Zombie couture includes lots of loose-fitting

clothing, bloodstains and torn bras. So fashionable!

PubLisheR WArnEr BroS InTErAcTIVE EnTErTAInMEnT / DeveLoPeR TEcHlAnd / FoRmat XBoX onE / ReLease Date oUT noW

kate gRay
Live oXM Kate

the knowLeDge
what is it?
Dead Island, but with
parkour and far lessbroken gameplay.
whats it Like?
Dead Island, but with
mechanics borrowed
from other games.
whos it FoR?
Fans of Dead
Island, zombies,
and games about
zombies and islands.

Dying Light

A game about how boring a zombie apocalypse can be

ying Light is a game about

zombies. But wait, you
say. Techland already did
the zombies thing. It did it
to death, pun intended!
Well, friend, youre right and we did
appreciate the pun but nevertheless,
Techland isnt ready to shut off the old
zombie-game mill just yet. Turns out it
has some new ideas
Its just a shame all those new ideas
are bastardised versions of successful
mechanics in other games. The core
parts of Dead Island, Techlands
other zombie franchise, are apparent
in its attempt at survival horror, its
XP-fuelled skill trees and all them
zombies. But look closer and youll see
that this isnt just your run-of-themill reanimated game corpse: its got
Assassins Creeds rooftop-clambering
and Eagle Vision stealth stapled to its
necrotic leg, Skyrims weed-harvesting
and lockpicking sewn into its sagging
flesh pouches, Sniper Elites slow-

motion damage porn stretched across

the raw sores on its back and Far
Crys well, Far Crys everything else
stuffed into its open wounds.
Just like a zombie, the campaign
shuffles lifelessly on, throwing wave
after wave of joyless quests at you
as your grumpy protagonist bemoans
the fact that he has to do anything
at all. Ugh, he moans after getting
Vital Thing A from Far-Away Point B. I
hope this is worth it. You and me both,
mate. How did the helpless assholes of
Harran city survive this long without our
fetch-quest-happy selves?
The aim is to help a group of
survivors, holed up in safe houses
and requiring various tasks to be
performed, in return for weapons,
money and XP. Three skill trees
Survivor, Agility and Power are
levelled up by performing tasks related
to their name. Agility points are earned
through climbing and running, Power
points through thwacking zombies in

Breast and worst

Listen, Techland, dead women do not
equal dead sexy. There is nothing we
find less appealing than the image of
a rotting, stinking corpse in the midst
of decay and putting a bikini on it
does not make us magically get over
our natural repulsion of the dead.
Stop it, please.


the ribs and Survivor points are general

thanks for doing that thing ticks
unlocked by completing most quests.
Initially uninspired combat opens up
once youve got into the higher-level
stuff. Wielding an actual weapon rather
than a piece of wood or metal and
having Molotovs in your arsenal vastly
improves the otherwise fairly tame
combat. Melee consists of sloppily
swinging at things until they fall over
permanently, but climb up on a roof,
lure the zombies with firecrackers and
chuck a Molotov in the throng and
youve got yourself a fairly entertaining
and lucrative game of bait the zombie.

Running total

The parkour, which is the central hook

other than zombies sees Techland
bite off more than it can chew. Parkour
games have traditionally been tricky
to perfect even more so with a
first-person perspectives limited field
of vision - but it works on a technical
level, with hand animations adjusting
to a variety of grips. But its slow and
the lack of obvious racing lines means
you rarely hit full flow. You also spend
too much of the game with the camera
two inches from ugly wall textures.
The tension of the day pales in
comparison to the night. The darkness
is fraught with the kind of dangers
that make even the most frightening
daytime zombies look like sleepy


That little eye symbol means hes seen you and youre
about five seconds away from losing your face.

Oh, sorry, this isnt Dying light

this is a photo from my recent
blind date. Oops!

bunnies. Volatiles lightning-fast,

screamy zombies appear on the map
with conical field-of-vision areas, and
if they see you, running is the only
option, unless youre a fan of breathing
through a hole in your throat. XP is
doubled at night, so the risk is worth
the reward and if you can set up a
bait area just outside a safe zone, you
could potentially exploit your way to a
whole bunch of points before sun-up.
But that one original idea doesnt
make up for all the lazy tropes. The
protagonist, Kyle crane, perfects the
art of parkour not 20 minutes after his
first go, and almost every character
in the game falls into the category of
gruff man who has a dark secret, lady
who doesnt want to deal with your BS
or guy who desperately needs supplies
that can be found in the bin outside
his house. Even cranes boss is totally,
obviously evil, forcing us to enable
some grim human trafficking just a
scant few hours into the story. Hooray!

The tension of the day pales in

comparison to the night
Then theres the inconsistency.
Youd think the survivors people
with military gear, training and guns
would be as willing to help out as
the T-shirt-wearing noob (thats you),
but no. They sit inside, entirely static
except for occasionally asking you to
go and rescue a really valuable thing
they left behind. online co-op might
inject life back into the city - well have
a full multiplayer verdict next month.
Small glimpses of fun such as
signs for left 4 Bread and Bites
Motel are enough to make you wish
that the game had more of a sense of
humour about itself. not necessarily
a Sunset Overdrive-style zaniness,
just something more lifelike than a

building full of AIs that only differ from

zombies in their propensity to dole
out fetch quests and a protagonist
whose primary weakness is that he
cares too much about people
though apparently not enough to stop
murdering people for their flares.
Dying Light is a vast improvement on
the broken Dead Island - indeed, if you
managed to eke fun from that technical
shambles, youll be in heaven here. But
with no real ideas of its own, it borrows
heavily from other games without ever
realising that a successful game is not
the sum of its mechanics. Youll be able
to fill many mindless hours in Harran,
sure, but it certainly doesnt have the
brains to be a great zombie game. oXm

The OXM verdict

prO Tip



Get up to a high area and take the zombies

out with a long-range weapon.


The first
area, Slums,
opens up into
other areas
later on.

90% Dead Island

9% Far Cry
1% Assassins Creed


9 1

Techland also
made Dead
Island. What
do you mean
we mentioned that?
Maybe it should
have made an
original game. Jeez.

Though not entirely souldestroying, Dying Light will
leave you feeling like youve
just eaten a box of budget
chocolates unsatisfied,
underwhelmed and unsure
if it was worth the money.



Though youre usually stuck with a pistol, Resi memorably locks you
in one area with only a flamethrower and a tonne of giant spiders.

PublisheR CAPCOM / develoPeR CAPCOM / FoRmAt XBOX 360 & XBOX ONe (RevIeweD) / ReleAse dAte OuT NOw

RichARd stAnton
live Private

the knowledge
whAt is it?
The original survivalhorror experience,
and the starting
point for one of
gamings biggest
whAts it like?
Like a Resident Evil
4 or The Evil Within
slowed down,
and focusing on
panic rather than
whos it FoR?
Those who
appreciate the finer
things in life.

Resident evil

An all-time classic shambles back

lmost no early 3D games

have survived the ravages of
time. As ambitious designers
wrestled to create strange,
new genres, everything from
third-person shooters to open-world
RPGs, they also pushed the capabilities
of the days technology to its limits.
Capcoms Resident Evil, originally
released in 1996, has now been remade
several times in the battle against
obsolescence the curation process
for one of the Japanese giants most
important franchises. Shinji Mikamis
survival-horror classic was and still is a
brilliant design, regardless of its era,
but now those roots show.
This is because Resident Evil for
Xbox 360 and Xbox One is not a
ground-up rebuilding of the original
game, but a prettier and widescreen
version of the 2002 remake for
Nintendos GameCube platform. Not
necessarily a bad thing, because the
GameCube remake was excellent, and

this re-release genuinely builds atop it

with new elements such as surround
sound. But it does mean that Resident
Evils visual technique of fixed camera
angles on rendered backgrounds
remains, a defining feature that gives
the whole enterprise a period feel.
Capcom gets away with it, for the
most part, because the visual design
was so strong in the first place, and
director Mikami uses the restriction so
cleverly. All of Resident Evils camera
angles are carefully chosen windows
that offer a view of a small part of a
larger area. The game plays with this
constantly, often forcing you to walk
towards the screen (and the source of
some grim off-screen groaning noise),
pushing the angle uncomfortably close
while exploring, or hiding monsters just
at the peripheries.
Resident Evil is all about
atmosphere, and the way in which you
see the world is everything. Certain
angles are designed to resemble those

Monster munch
There are many zombies, obviously, but
as you explore the mansion things get
worse. Hairless gorillas called Hunters,
snakes that can swallow you whole,
giant sharks, zombie dogs and killer
bees all await, with things becoming
even redder in tooth and claw as you
get closer to unravelling the mystery.


of security cameras, making you feel

like an observer rather than a
controller, while others obscure your
vision of dark corners. It feels unusual
in 2015, where nearly every thirdperson game has a free camera, to
be so unapologetically manhandled
by a developer.
This is a theme that runs through
Resident Evils design, and the one
thing that has been lost by its sequels
and imitators over the years. This is a
game about managing scant resources
in a fraught atmosphere, where the
survival is every bit as important to the
feel of things as the horror. A brutally
limited inventory (six items for Chris
and eight items for Jill, the two
playable characters) means youre
always being forced to juggle the
priorities of firepower and puzzlesolving, and a simple lack of ammo
is the backbone for everything.
Never mind carrying spare clips if
you just have a loaded weapon, it feels
like a minor victory.
This effect helps to mitigate some of
Resident Evils issues, primarily that
this is not a combat-focused
experience. In contrast to later series
high point Resident Evil 4, the shooting
here is much more perfunctory and the
challenge is finding the right position
and time to stop, take aim and fire. The
challenge is in the situations and not in
lining up a headshot, which fits


Not all locations are packed with enemies but theyre all deadly.
You spend as much time trying to avoid encounters as fighting.

if you dont burn dead zombies,

theyll revive in a deadlier form
a great new addition.

beautifully with the oppressive

atmosphere and gives even the
simplest encounter an edge misjudge
how many shots a random zombie will
take (the numbers always different)
and theyll be on you in a flash.

tender prey

Chris and Jill also die easily, and the

original save system remains which
spaces typewriters around the
locations and demands you manually
save your progress by using
consumable ink ribbons. Again this
technique is absolutely foreign to
2015, where were used to being
checkpointed everywhere, and the
first time you lose half an hours
progress through your own lack of
caution is infuriating. But it gives every
decision you make about crisscrossing this deadly environment a
consequential feel that, crude as the
technique is, would be impossible to
create any other way.

The OXM verdict


Doesnt pander to
players one bit
art style and
environment design
Properly gives you
the heebie-jeebies


Controls rub
against the
camera angles
Item management
is unforgiving
You may need to
buy some new jeans

Survival is every bit as important

to the feel of things as the horror
And it is the environments that,
ultimately, are the games star. Arklay
Mansion is one of gamings all-time
great settings, an opulent labyrinth of
arcane puzzles and secret rooms that
gradually unlocks as you explore. Grisly
surprises are packed into almost every
corner and, in one of the remakes best
additions to the original design,
enemies burst out of hiding places and
come back to life as you move backand-forth across the rooms. These
moments are scripted rather than
dynamic, but they make the mansion
feel much less static always catching
the unwary off-guard.
Resident Evil is a game of its time,
but its also one of the best games

The beST biT

of all time. from those first steps into

the abandoned mansion to the final
assault on an underground laboratory,
the pace gathers and gathers to an
unforgettable climax. Aspects such
as the save system can feel archaic
and unfairly restrictive to a modern
sensibility, though their effect is as
powerful as ever.
Playing this now is a little like
watching a classic hitchcock movie
the rear projection shots are obvious,
but you roll with them for the overall
experience. And despite Resident
Evils huge success and many
subsequent sequels, nothing has
ever really got close to the thrill of
the first time. oXm

When you
return to the
mansion later in
the game, and
are followed
back and
attacked by a

a new control
the original.



Parts shows their age, but
the core design here is so
good that meeting it halfway
is amply rewarded. Still
downright scarier than most
of its successors and an
unforgettable journey.



Chloe is Maxs erstwhile best friend expect her to

take a far more central role in future episodes.

The real mystery is why this

was supplied as a press
screenshot at all.


fOrMat XBOX 360, XBOX ONE (REvIEWED) / reLease date OUT NOW

MattheW CastLe
Live OXM Pesto

the knOWLedge
What is it?
The story of a
girl tortured by
and unwanted
Whats it Like?
A Telltale game,
but based entirely
on Belle &
Sebastian lyrics.
WhOs it fOr?
Those after another
episodic adventure
game, or a hip film

Life is strange:
episOde 1 - ChrysaLis

[Oblique reference] plus [cool author] equals [zeitgeisty game]

eve all wanted to take a

mistake back, never
more so than in school.
Calling a teacher mum,
that time you actually
found yourself screaming, I didnt
even want to go to your birthday party
anyway!, or setting fire to the kindly
old caretaker these are moments
that swim back up to you years later,
bringing a blush to your cheeks and a
quickening fear in your heart.
At its best, Life is Strange is a sort of
teen-focused power fantasy that
solves that problem. Max, a lonely
student at a new school, unexpectedly
develops the power to reverse time by
raising her hand. Embarrassed yourself
in front of the skater kids? Zip back and
tell them that, actually, you do know

what a noseslide is. Made fun of by the

schools Queen Bitch? Rewind, solve a
quick environment puzzle and splash
her designer duds with paint. Its the
loners dream.
Its also a neat design trick. Dontnod
borrows more than its episodic format
from Telltales groundbreaking
adventure games. In a game based
around conversation, divergent moral
choices and light puzzling, the rewind
mechanic which can be used at
almost any time helps clear up what
could be ambiguous choices by letting
you see the immediate results (if not
the far-reaching consequences) of
both sides, turning some environments
into mini Rube Goldberg machines.
Unfortunately, where it succeeds on
a theoretical level, Life is Strange isnt

The OXM verdict

The besT bIT

The wOrsT bIT


Roaming the school, using time travel to fool
cliques into thinking Max is cool. She isnt.


The extended scene of a sexy photography

teacher describing the history of the selfie.

as nimble when it comes to the reality

of its storytelling. The wider story Max
unravelling mysteries in her suburban
hometown while dealing with visions of
apocalypse is an often uneasy mix of
Brick, The OC and Donnie Darko, realised
with a tin ear for teenage slang. The
script is hella embarrassing, for reals.
And dont get us started on its indie
posturing - one car licence plate reads
TWN PKS, for Gods sake. Its like
reading Tarantinos childhood diary.
But its sledgehammer subtlety is
balanced by a genuinely good heart;
Maxs inner monologue - as seen in her
diary or detailed world observations
- reveals a more convincing teenage
voice. Heres hoping the fascinating
mechanic, and future episodes, can
better draw it out. OXM

Dontnod has brought a
new mechanic to a quickly
aging genre, but if its
storytelling remains this
forced, the series could
be overshadowed by its
ironically immature writing.



As president, you might prefer more formal attire,

but were rather fond of our steampunk get-up.

Keith Davids
to send up
his celebrity
persona is one
of the best
running jokes.

PubliSheR Deep SILVeR / deVelOPeR VOLITIOn, HIgH VOLTAge SOFTwARe / fORMat XBOX One / ReleaSe date OuT nOw

chRiS Schilling
live Rockin Stroll

the knOwledge
what iS it?
Saints Row IV + DLC
+ 1080p = quickand-dirty port.
whatS it like?
A fine game with the
bare minimum of
whOS it fOR?
obsessives who
somehow missed
the Xbox 360 version.

SaintS ROw iV: Re-elected

Hardly the presidential treatment for last-gens daftest game

e-Elected, if nothing else, is

a timely reminder of what a
daring game Saints Row IV was
and almost 18 months on, it
still seems quietly radical in its
own way. The series has come a long
way since the GTA-aping original; by its
third outing, Volitions open-worlder
was finding its own voice, but the
fourth saw it take a superhero-sized
leap away from Rockstars sandbox
motifs, with few traces remaining. Its
certainly not shy of pilfering ideas
there are obvious nods to (and sly jabs
at) Mass Effect, and as you leap around
a simulated Steelport collecting data
clusters to level up your otherworldly
skills, youll be acutely aware of its
substantial debt to Crackdown. But
it has a tone and feel that it entirely

The OXM verdict

The BesT BiT

Disarming a
weapon to
the strains of
Aerosmiths I
Dont Want to
Miss a Thing is
hard to top.


owns: its frequently inventive, often

tea-spittingly funny and genuinely
warm-hearted. Quite the feat for a
game featuring dildo bats, gimp suits
and a stint where you play as a toilet.
Re-Elected brings together the
original game alongside DLC episodes
Enter the Dominatrix and How the
Saints Saved Christmas. The add-ons
are arguably less essential than the
core game, though each features a
clutch of inspired ideas. Dominatrix
in particular has a novel setup where
its missions are presented as deleted
scenes with cast commentary, which
more than compensates for a selection
of rudimentary quests.
For a game so reliant on the element
of surprise, its humour stands up
remarkably well on a repeat visit, if

The WOrsT BiT

A short flying
sequence set
to Haddaways
cheesy disco
hit What is
Love? Or maybe
thats the
best bit




only because its so determinedly

committed to its bizarre conceits. There
is something truly admirable about a
game that wants nothing more than to
entertain you, and as such its easy to
overlook the occasional stickiness of
the controls, technical wonkiness and
generally ramshackle nature. Its a pity,
though, that this port fails to eradicate
any of the originals flaws; as with Gat
out of Hell, a higher resolution fails to
mask significant framerate drops and a
worrying tendency to freeze.
As such, if youve played Saints
Row IV before, wed advise caution
before you consider upgrading. Its a
pity Deep Silver didnt invest in a more
thorough facelift - as remasters go,
Re-Elected is a pretty shabby update of
a legitimately great game. OXM

A triumphantly dumb romp
paid scant respect in one
of the most lacklustre newgen remasters weve played.
If youve got the Xbox 360
version, theres little reason
for you to trade up.



The new, super-comfy EZ-Shooter Chair. Coming soon

to a shopping channel near you for just 499.99.

PubliSHeR DEEp SILVER / DeveloPeR HIGH VoLTAGE SoFTwARE, VoLITIoN / foRmat XBoX 360 & XBoX oNE (REVIEwED) / ReleaSe Date ouT Now

SaiNtS Row:
Gat out of Hell

live Rockin Stroll

tHe kNowleDGe
wHat iS it?
A standalone
expansion to Saints
Row IV, set in hell.
wHatS it like?
Five-to-six hours
worth of mayhemcausing in a redand-grey world.
wHoS it foR?
Johnny Gat fans,
mostly were led to
believe he has some.

Itll be gone (from your memory) when the morning comes

oes the title conjure images of

a bad ventriloquist singing
Meat Loaf, or is that just us? If
so, its entirely fitting that this
standalone expansion to the
terrific Saints Row IV should prove to be
a pretty weak cover version. It remains
a solidly fun sandbox blast, but almost
everything that makes it so is a result
of the strong foundations laid by the
original game. Theres a fine line
between entertainingly scruffy and
downright messy, and Gat out of Hell
steps the wrong side once too often.
Its a real pity, as the opening
suggests great things. After an
ill-advised sance, your presidential
avatar is sucked into the underworld



Hell, yeah:
i believe i
can fly



Hell, yeaH


Flying low

a godlike
or not



via an ouija board, with the titular Gat

and tech whiz Kinzie volunteering for
the rescue mission. Like much of Saints
Row IV, its silly and funny, and though
Johnny is arguably the least interesting
character of the group these days,
youre free to switch to the much more
likeable Kinzie at any time. Not that the
brief tutorial cutscenes make
allowances for your choice: Gat will
appear, even if youve left him at home.
Its one of the first signs of sloppiness,
and sadly theres worse to come.
Rather than a series of narrative-led
quests, instead youre asked to raise
hell or raze it, even by completing
activities and asides to arouse Satans
ire ahead of a climactic face-off
against ol Beelzebub himself. This
involves roping in a few celebrity
evildoers Blackbeard, Vlad the
Impaler and, um, Shakespeare to help
out, but once youve recruited them
youre mostly left to complete a suite
of similar missions to the base game,
albeit usually with a devilish twist. The
Fraud missions, for example, see you
control one of the scrawny husks that
populate New Hades, ragdolling them
into traffic to take years off their
sentences. A voiceover details their

crimes as they pinwheel between car

wrecks, but mechanically speaking
nothing has changed. Elsewhere,
theres a new base-capture variant
that sees you sprinting between three
nodes to hold them, and a tedious
glyph hunt that asks you to locate
glowing markers to unlock a chest
the reward is rarely worth the effort.

Nether regions

Still, at least it encourages you to

explore the place a little more
thoroughly, and while its a drab setting
from a visual standpoint, New Hades is
more than just a reskinned Steelport.
Its more enjoyable to explore from the
air, for instance instead of leaping
tall buildings in a single bound, you can
now glide past skyscrapers courtesy of
a pair of giant wings. Flying isnt much
to write home about at first, with fiddly
controls and a rapidly depleting
stamina meter grounding you within
seconds, but once youve collected
enough data clusters to buy a few
upgrades its a fast and fun way to get
around, as you flap and swoop to
maintain your momentum, and spin to
dodge incoming missiles. Checkpoint
races are among the games best


Looks just like a regular trip into reading

town centre, if you ask us.

max out your notoriety,

and Professor Genki will
sporadically show up.

this add-on at times feels like

a contractual obligation
challenges, and theres a neat addition
in the form of Salvation missions, which
ask you to collect falling souls before
they hit the ground, while blasting the
shields of those rising skyward.
otherwise, its variations on a
familiar theme. A new Summon power
enables you to lob some mischievous
imps into the fray, while the Blast
power can now turn enemies into stone
rather than ice statues. The Seven
Deadly weapons are worth seeking out
particularly a blinged-out gun that
shoots diamonds and essentially turns
demons into cash-stuffed pinatas, and
an armchair with built-in machine guns
that can be reclined to fire missiles. our
favourite of the wider arsenal is a
grenade-launcher of sorts that shoots
explosive frogs. The missions might

mostly devolve into blasting tons of

enemies at close-to mid-range, but at
least youll have a reasonably good
time doing the same thing over and
over for the five hours or so it takes to
unleash Satans wrath.
Even so, a nagging sense of
disappointment is impossible to shake
off. Its not so much about whats there
as what isnt: youll almost certainly
miss the radio, not to mention the total
absence of customisation options,
both for the two playable leads and
your expanding arsenal. And its rarely
as funny as its two immediate
predecessors, the best lines prompting
wry smirks rather than shouldershaking laughter. Youll find plenty of
audio logs scattered across the city,
but theyre often so brief as to feel like

if nothing
else, vlads
spell in
therapy has
taught him
the words to
The wheels on
the Bus.

The oXm verdict


it has to be the five-minute musical great

songs, funny lyrics and a glorious high note.


Satans funny, but
Kinzie Kensington
is our kind of hero:
an ass-kicking
nerd whos pretty
handy with a fullauto shotgun.


which of the
five endings
is canon.
given that one
retcons SriVs, its
unclear where the
Saints will end up.

an afterthought. The heartiest

chuckles are reserved for cutscenes,
and if youve been following the promo
material, Deep Silver has already
spoiled the best bit: a wonderful, if
inexplicable, musical interlude that
only serves to highlight how phoned-in
the majority of the gags seem.
perhaps wed feel differently if it
wasnt so technically shoddy. Flying is
never quite as fluid as it needs to be
thanks to a framerate that could
generously be described as
inconsistent, clipping issues abound,
and though hell isnt supposed to be
pleasant to behold, there are jagged
edges and rough textures everywhere
you look. Its symptomatic of an add-on
that at times feels worryingly like a
contractual obligation: despite a
handful of fun ideas, the developers
heart doesnt quite seem to be in it.
Gat out of Hell might just earn a pass
on the basics, but if the devil is in the
details, then its the one place Satan is
conspicuous by his absence. oXm

a disappointment rather
than a disaster, this is an
expansion that remembers
some but not all of what
made Saints row iV great.
Flying is fun, but flimsy
presentation clips its wings.



Miss any of the daily roll calls

and the guards wont be happy.

PubLisher TeAM 17 / DeveLoPer MOuldY TOOF STudIOS / Format XBOX One / reLease Date OuT nOW

anDy keLLy
Live ultrabrilliant

the knowLeDge
what is it?
Prison simulator with
a focus on escape.
whats it Like?
Tough, surprisingly
deep and rewarding.
whos it For?
Fans of strategy,
stealth and
Prison Break.

the escaPists

Use your wits to escape a pixelated penitentiary

rison life consists of routine.

says Morgan Freeman in classic
prison flick The Shawshank
Redemption. And the same
applies to the varied selection
of penitentiaries in The Escapists, a
surprisingly deep clink simulator thats
a lot darker than those cute pixelated
visuals might first suggest.
Its a game about learning and
following a routine and then
exploiting it to escape. But thats
easier said than done when sadistic,
baton-happy guards are watching your
every move. If you want to see the light
of day again, youre going to have to
get creative and outsmart your captors.
The games selection of prisons
come in many different shapes and
sizes, and are ranked by difficulty.

Theres a good variety of layouts and

visual styles. The easiest is Center
Perks, a minimum-security jail that
probably houses white-collar criminals.
This is the best place to learn the
basics, and busting out is fairly easy.
Others include WWII-style prison
camp Stalag Flucht (an homage to The
Great Escape), Shankton State Pen,
a prison compound in the jungle, a
desert camp called San Pancho and
the insanely detailed and well-guarded
HMP Irongate. As the slammers grow in
complexity, so too does the amount of
ways you can escape from them.
A day in jail goes something like
this, with variations depending on
the difficulty level: you wake up, then
go to morning roll call. Guards will be
suspicious if you dont turn up. Then

Job lot
All prisoners are assigned jobs and
you better turn up, else the guards get
aggressive. These include such duties
as cleaning dirty floors, doing laundry
and removing weeds from the grounds.
You actually have to do these jobs for an
allotted time, but they give you a good
chance to steal useful items.


you hit the mess hall for chow time. You

get a free period, then its time to work
and earn some money. Then you have
exercise, a shower, more free time and
dinner, before heading back to your
dinky cell for lights out.

Locked down

At first, you have to spend a bit of

time following this routine, behaving
yourself, to learn the layout of the jail.
You can also gather items along the
way, by nicking plastic knives from
the cafeteria or rooting through fellow
cellmates desks during free periods.
Then, once youve sized the joint up,
its time to make your escape.
The Escapists is impressively openended, and there are no set paths.
You have to use your imagination, and
your ingenuity, to break out. To escape
Center Perks, we first combined two
files with some duct tape, using the
games Minecraft-style crafting system,
to create a pair of shears. In our cell we
moved a desk over so we could reach
a vent cover in the ceiling and slowly,
methodically snipped away at it.
This is genuinely nerve-wracking,
as you have to keep an eye on the
corridor outside for guards. If they see


Mealtime is a great opportunity

to stock up on plastic cutlery.

Sleep to skip to the next day

and save your game.

As well as guards, prisoners with a

low opinion of you will beat you up
you theyll beat you up, throw you in
solitary and reset your progress.
After a couple of evenings working
on the vent we managed to break
the cover with the shears. Then we
used papier-mch to create a fake
replacement, otherwise the guards
would have gotten wise to our scheme,
and climbed into the vent system. Then
it was just a case of crafting a shovel
out of some sheet metal and timber,
climbing up to the roof, shimmying
down the outer wall and digging past
the fence. The whole experience was
incredibly tense, and breaking out
felt really rewarding. We felt like Andy
dufresne after he climbs out of that
sewage pipe and into the rain.
But later prisons wont be so easy.
To get out of these you have to delve

The OXM verdict


Colourful, fun 16bit graphical style

Can be slightly
daunting at first

Theres a lot of
depth buried in the

Guards are a bit

eager to beat you up

Can be genuinely
tense at times


The in-game
clock could be
slightly faster

Fights will
break out
around you.

even deeper into the simulation

bartering with prisoners, doing them
favours to get them on your side,
crafting makeshift weapons to deal
with guards, training at the gym
to increase your health and hiding
precious contraband. There are dozens
of items in the game, and the depth of
the simulation is impressive.
As well as frequent pummellings
by the guards, prisoners with a low
opinion of you will randomly start
beating you up. You can curry their
favour by giving them gifts, and if they
like you enough, youll be able to hire
them to help you in fights.
Its like spinning plates sometimes:
keeping an eye on guards, crafting
items, cutting through vents, all
while sticking to your routine. When


several nights
chipping away
at a vent cover,
only for a
passing guard
to catch you in
the act.

DiD yOu

developer is
called Mouldy
Toof (yuck),
but its not an indie
studio: its just one
man based in Derby
called Chris Davis.

you get really good at it, youll be

making fake keys from moulds,
using bed sheets as ropes, hiding
tunnels behind posters and crafting
makeshift body armour with metal from
the workshop.
The Escapists is, despite its depth,
limited by its 2d perspective and
SneS-style visuals if this was a 3d
game it could have been infinitely
more complex and atmospheric. But
the jarring contrast between the
ultraviolence, where you can put a bar
of soap in a sock and beat someone
to near-death with it, and the cutesy,
colourful visuals is pretty hilarious.
It has a lot of personality, too,
and prisoners and guards will spout
amusing non-sequiturs and pop culture
references as they go about their day.
Theres a lot to sink your teeth into
here, but it wont be for everyone.
Theres no hand-holding, and youll
need a lot of patience and a creative
mind to figure out how to escape from
the tougher jails. oXm

A brilliantly unique indie
escape-em-up that
combines stealth, strategy,
and simulation to great
effect, but youll need
saint-like patience to get
the most out of it.



This is actually the game that inspired justin

Timberlakes hit song, Mirrors.

PublisheR GRIP GAMes / develOPeR GRIP GAMes / FORMat XbOX ONe / Release date OUT NOW

kate gRay
live OXM Kate

the knOwledge
what is it?
An unusual little
game, simple
yet smart with
its solutions.
whats it like?
Youd better really
like picking up rocks
and moving them.
whOs it FOR?
Robots, people
who like robots,
robot mums,
robot girlfriends.

eXtended editiOn

Solve puzzles with the help of an adorable flying toaster

rom the very first moment

Unmechanicals unassuming
hero putters onto the screen,
youre hooked. Playing as
an apple-shaped, slightly
sad-looking robot with blinking
headlamps for eyes, you instantly feel
like you have to rescue this little guy
although youre never quite sure why.
After being rather unceremoniously
grabbed by an unidentified grabber, you
have to make your way through a series
of maze-like pipes, solving cute little
head-scratcher puzzles along the way.
Not a single word is said, except for the
occasional thought bubble that hints at
how to play. Unsurprisingly, this means
solving the games physics puzzles is
more of a visual matter, leading to trialand-error attempts as you slowly tease

The OXM verdict

cOOlesT characTer

Definitely the
robot. Maybe
the flesh-lump?
It didnt seem
to have much
in the way of
personality, but
it had presence.

82 / The OffIcIAl XbOX MAGAzINe

out interactions and figure out which

switch lights up which coloured bulb.
This works best when there is only
one channel to go through one long
line of unambiguously puzzle-like
objects, one after the other because
when the areas start to open up a little,
things can get needlessly confusing.
Many puzzles involve picking up an
item with your tractor beam a rock, a
bomb, an orb of electricity and placing
it somewhere, triggering switches,
holding down buttons and generally
doing things that are quite obvious.
When theres more than one thing to
do, with more than one object, it starts
to get trickier to keep track. When the
puzzles themselves are pretty testing,
it can be awkward and time-consuming
to have to figure out what to do next as

ObjecT Of desire
Were pretty
keen on those
rocks. Every
time we picked
one up, we
really felt a
definite sense
of purpose.

did yOu

The games
use of
physics is
you can really
feel the weight of
various objects as
you pick them up.

well to the point where you wonder if

the puzzle might just be unsolvable.
The levels look good, with
undeniably lovely textures, and a
strange, unsettling aesthetic that
mixes rusty, industrial metal with what
look like lumps of organic matter.
Its sufficiently creepy without ever
being overbearing, adding an exciting
soupon of background flavour.
Unmechanicals puzzles are smart
without being too obvious, its design
is interesting without being overdone
and its protagonist is sweet without
being saccharine. Although let down by
occasionally labyrinthine level design,
Unmechanical is a solid, uncommonly
clever little puzzler that will win your
heart or whatever pulsating fleshlump you keep in your ribcage. OXM

Unmechanical has its
highlights the puzzles
require just the right amount
of cog-whirring to be
challenging, but
convoluted levels can
lead to tiring exploration.


remember when David Attenborough ate that stillbeating giraffes heart? This is a bit like that.


FORMat XBOX 360 & XBOX OnE (REvIEwED) / Release Date OuT nOw

Theres a mini-game for

possession. its not fun.


FORMat XBOX 360 & XBOX OnE (REvIEwED) / Release Date 24 FEB

Duck Dynasty

Rugby 15

Get the sick bags, its getting dy-nasty

uck Dynasty is not, as I

Youre given a shotgun, a few
had originally hoped, a
shells and told to turn a bunch
game about romance,
of ducks into ex-ducks. Seconds
scandal, betrayal and
after youve washed the blood
gigantic shoulder pads, as
from your hands, youre tasked
told by a cast of adorable
with fetching some squirrels
aquatic birds. Rather, its a
from the woods because
tale of a redneck family with a
Gramma who sounds like Tree
penchant for murdering animals. Trunks from Adventure Time, but
Sometimes they eat
slower and hammier
them. Sometimes
wants to make
they leave their
gumbo. You want to
corpses to bloat and
ask, Since when has
fester in the soupy
squirrel been a part
waters of the bayou.
of gumbo? but you
kate gRay
The tale begins
cant because the
with what feels like a live OXM kate
game doesnt let you
20-minute cutscene
use the controller in
of back-and-forth
cutscenes, so tough
the knOwleDge
between a few
luck, John Luke. Eat
what is it?
incredibly beardy
your squirrel stew.
A duck-murder
men. Its a shame the simulator based on
Of course, its not
game couldnt get
the successful duck- all squirrel-murder and
the hair quite right,
murder Tv show.
duck deaths. Theres
because most of
a fishing mini-game
whats it like?
them end up looking
thats about as dull
The adrenaline rush
you get when you
like theyre wearing
as real fishing, and
strangle a swan.
hirsute Elizabethan
a tender moment
ruffs. Shortly after
where you detonate
whOs it FOR?
Anyone who
theyre done with
a beaver dam. Youll
hates ducks.
what I can only
get achievements for
How can anybody
assume is banter,
these, but they dont
hate ducks?!
voice acted by a
really live up to the
bunch of guys more suited to
unintentional comedy if the
splintering squirrel skulls, youre beaver-splosion achievement
plonked into the body of John
was called Dambusters, we
Luke, a taciturn Bieber lookalike, might have given this game a 10.
who has to learn to kill things
In conclusion: too much murder,
because manhood?
not enough 80s hair. OXM

The OXM verdict

DiD yOu

The TV shows
popularity has
inspired some
rather passionate
fan fiction. If you
want to keep your
innocence, avoid.



You could say this is bad for

its senseless depiction of
animal incineration, or you
could say its bad because
of everything else. Either
way, it makes us want to
throw up our squirrel gumbo.


Kicking rugby fans hopes into touch

irst, the bad news: Rugby

Tackles, passes and kicks feel
15 is terrible. It looks awful, alike, regardless of which player
plays worse and is riddled
youre controlling. Basics like
with more bugs than a head the flow of passing are just plain
lice outbreak at a primary school.
wrong. Team-mates unnecessarily
Rugby 15s archaic and
overlap the ball-carrier, and
calamitous engine is so bad its
players chuck the ball into
almost funny. Players fall over for
space numerous times. Even the
no reason. They run out of play
simple pleasure of smashing men
while unopposed. And
with tackles is oddly
youll even see players
unsatisfying thanks
teleport into a tackling
to some shoddy
position from metres
collision detection.
away. Its that bad.
Trying to find the
From the off, its a
positives is like trying
nathan iRvine
mess. Presentation
to find the nonlive OXM Shaftino
is piecemeal at best,
battered bits on a
with no replays or a
flankers noggin it
playable tutorial. Sloppy
cant be done. Okay,
the knOwleDge
animations, especially
we like the bit where
what is it?
on line-outs, slow the
you sprint through
game to an arthritic
the opposition as
Also, the first
pace. And the rampant
they part like the Red
rugby game in over
glitches make the game two years.
Sea. But on the 200th
almost unplayable.
consecutive time
whats it like?
Such as diving for a try
it starts to lose its
A mess of a sports
sim that frustrates
only to see our player
buzz and were back
spring back up, carry on rather than charms.
to realising just how
running out of play and whOs it FOR?
broken Rugby 15 is.
Rugby fans who
turn the ball over.
To even think this
Rugby 15 has various arent fussed
broken nonsense is
about the quality of
union licences at
worth 40 notes
their games.
its disposal (bar the
is laughable, as this
international sides), but theyre
is about as bad as sports
not put to good use. cipriani,
games get. The good news is
Burgess and more are present
that after reading these words
by name alone as they all play
youve hopefully saved yourself
the same, apart from some
some cash. This really is worth
differences in pace.
rugger all. OXM

The OXM verdict

DiD yOu

HB Studios
has worked
on acclaimed
sports series
such as FIFA,
Madden NFL, NHL
and NBA Live.


This type of game would even look

shoddy on the original Xbox. Its
almost an insult to consumers
to think that a 40 price tag
for something so broken is
reasonable. Easily the worst
sports game weve played.




PublIsher ea / DeveloPer bioware / Format xbox one / orIgInal score 9/10

Dragon age: InquIsItIon

Sometimes, you need to take a break from all that inquisiting

Kate Gray
lIve OXM Kate

we saID
Enormous, handsome and in love
with the subtleties of world design,
storytelling and combat.

ragon Age:
multiplayer cant
hope to match up
to the single-player
campaign in terms of
story, dialogue and interaction.
even if youre talking to your
friends via voice chat, theyre
unlikely to regale you with tales
of their daring escape from
imprisonment or the time they
made out with a demon. but
thats not to say its not still
worth your time it has its own
charm, even if it does suffer
from worse repetition than a
Justin bieber song.

the basic premise is similar

to that of Mass Effect 3s co-op
effort: you gather a gang of up
to four pals, each with their own
class (limited to archer, warrior
and mage at the beginning), and
try to explore, and survive, five
randomly generated locations
within a chosen building.
the first two destinations
are simple enough, as waves
of enemies come at you and
you slaughter them all, but it

gets progressively tougher with

each room. optional tasks such
as rescue the informant and
protect the important books
require a slight shift of tactics,
as youll have to cover certain
members of your team and lure
bigger enemies elsewhere, but
otherwise its pretty much more of
the same: enemies come at you,
and you must make them die.
theres quite a lot of juicy loot
scattered around hidden behind
magic barriers, in jars or by the
golden nugs (a creepy pig-rabbit)
that tries to scarper before you
get the chance to kill it. this loot
is then used to buy chests, which

Your team of fours task is to survive

five randomly generated areas

contain potions, weapons and

tonics but very rarely will you
actually receive anything you
want. Playing as an archer means
that youll invest a lot of time and
energy into levelling them up, but
it means that every time you spend
your hard-earned dosh on a chest
full of useless battleaxes, youll
feel reasonably cheated.
thankfully, salvaging unneeded
weapons spits out handy crafting
materials, which can be used to
upgrade or create weapons and
armour. crafting certain types of
armour will unlock new, far more
exciting, character options but
we havent managed a single one
yet, because its tough as nails
to actually achieve. or could it be
that ea wants us to spend money
on microtransactional platinum
to fast track the process? hmm...

are we havIng Fun yet? Our time in Dragon Age: Inquisition rendered as a wavy line
dragon age
dragon engaged
Ooh, I have a
bow and arrow.
Pew pew!

dragon beige
dragon rage

84 / the official xbox magazine


Pew pew, take

that demons. Im
level ten now!

Im kinda
bored now.
Pew pew.

a new
bow and

I think
Im going
back to the

story co-op can be fun, but checkpoint events

might see you trip over each other.


note the lack of platinum

in the top left corner
- we wont fall for eAs
microtransaction trap.
Characters will natter
during combat, but it
lacks the spark of the
campaign dialogue.

PublIsher Ubisoft/ DeveloPer ivory tower/Ubisoft reflections / Format xbox one / orIgInal score 5/10

the Crew

is it illegal to facepalm-and-drive?

Disappointingly, matchmaking
doesnt seem to exist youll
be thrown into a lobby with
level-one and level-18 players
alike, and youll quickly find out
who gets the most xP from the
fighting. worse than that is the
dialogue between characters,
which at first seems sweet and
funny but quickly grates after
the millionth time you hear,
lets go for drinks afterwards,
because thats what friends do!
there arent really any bad
experiences to be had with
the multiplayer just average
ones. batting off waves of bad
dudes is fairly mindless, made
more so if you pick a non-melee
character who never really gets
stuck in. its worth a try if youre
exhausted by the campaign, but
itll never be your true love. oXm

Justin Towell
lIve CatGoneCrazy

ever drive alone

proclaims the snazzy
font at the end of
the intro to The Crew.
and sure, seeing as
you literally cannot play the
game offline, there are people
out there who will actually
answer your call for a quick
co-op mission. the game
loads and then there they are,
noisily munching Pringles into
the microphone and absentmindedly asking siblings in highpitched voices, Do fish wee?
(based on a true story, that.)
if these people are your actual
friends then unfortunately thats
as good as it gets. its not our
place to tell you to invest in new
pals. but otherwise, a group of
real-life chums can certainly
make their own fun. and theres

we saID
The world and systems are fine, but
shoddy car handling saps any desire
to play for more than a few minutes.

definite, tangible awesomeness

that comes from acting as a
wingman for your mates, slowing
down ai cars so someone can
sneak through and take the win.
finding Thelma & Louise
moments, or exploring how far
you can get into the water at
niagara falls without triggering
the respawn is entertaining. but
theres a nagging feeling that it
may be more about your mates
being good company.
youll need to be at the same
level as them, too. the game
will let you form a crew with
players at levels six, 23 and
50 (the current maximum), but
they wont all be able to enter
the same missions. advanced
players will get so sick of having
to pick up troy again or do that
target takedown across the

The oXM verdict

Though not
awful, the
co-op combat
leaves much
to be desired
compared to
the main game.


dunes again that they might

drown themselves in fish wee,
just to end the torture.
the crew leader is also given
too much power. sometimes
you might win an event only for
your dear leader to inexplicably
restart. and then again after
botching the first corner. and
again. this isnt working out.
we need to race other people.
later in the storys arc,
dedicated PvP lobbies appear in
major cities, but if youre serious
about ranked matches, you
need to be actively maxing out
your best cars stats to stand a
chance. some twisty tracks can
level the playing field, but the
oval tracks are incredibly dull.
Doubly so if collisions have been
turned off by the host. at least
The Crew maintains its freedom,
even in closed PvP, so if you do
get bored you can just turn right,
drive out of the stadium and faff
about in a field. sometimes its
better to drive alone. oXm

The oXM verdict

Getting your own crew together is as easy as

clicking the right stick and sending an invite.

Dedicated PvP is
too upgradecentric,
but friends
tackling the
story can enjoy
the road trip.

the official xbox magazine / 85





latest add-ons and indie games rated

From best to worst,

the latest additions to
Xbox Live Marketplace

the 30 minute time limit isnt a fixed one you

can add time on the clock by liberating outposts.

Shadow of Mordor: TeST of


Offering a challenge mode that tests the

titular skill, the aim here is to beat the orcmassacre high scores.
Price: 2.39 each

2 aSSaSSinS Creed UniTy:

SeCreTS of The revolUTion
People were guillotined for knowing about
the revolutions stash of nine new weapons,
five bits of gear and three missions. Shhh.
Price: 5.59
pUB Ubisoft / dev Ubisoft montreal / forMaT xbox 360, xbox one (testeD) / reviewer alex Dale / priCe 7.99

far Cry 4: eSCape froM

dUrgeSh priSon

Why the 4? I think wed better start from the beginning

illing the storyline

gap between ajays
liberation from Durgesh
Prison and him carrying
on like nothing had
ever happened, Escape From
Durgesh Prison kicks off atop a
radio tower. Youre shorn of your
abilities and gear, and have 30
minutes to reach an extraction
point, levelling up as you go. Die,
and youre whisked back to the
tower, resetting the game world.
without any new areas to
explore, Durgesh attempts to
create value by forcing you to
approach its world in a different
way, power-levelling and being
frugal with your upgrades. but
its a crushingly unrewarding

experience, not least because

Far Cry 4 is at its least engaging
at the beginning when youre
underpowered. also, since
you keep your upgrades and
weapons from death to death,
its less a time trial challenge
and more a repetitive grind. it
is unfathomably dull to have
to do the same thing over and
over again,
with only slight

point, levelling up as you go.

Die, and its back to the tower
with you, sans any progress you
might have made.
with no new areas of the map
involved, Durgesh forces you to
approach its world in a different
way, power-levelling and
choosing upgrades wisely. but
its desperately unrewarding,
not least
because Far Cry
4 is at its least
engaging at the
start before you
beef up your
character. also,
since you keep your upgrades
and weapons from death to
death, its less a time trial
challenge and more a tedious
grind. its unfeasibly dull to
have to do the same thing over
and over again, with only minor
changes. Dont you agree? oxM

Golden pistols and health-regenerating

rings? Hmm, we might just have to go into
the tomb raiding business...
Price: 1.59

The Crew: exTreMe

Car paCk

These cars are only extreme

because theyre covered in tattoos of
flaming skulls.
Price: 5.59

//its less a time

trial challenge
Say again? and more a
Durgesh Prison repetitive grind//
kicks off atop
a radio tower. Youre stripped of
your weapons, and given half
an hour to reach an extraction

lara CrofT & The TeMple of

oSiriS: legend paCk

d4: Beard SeT 1-4

Four whole beard sets for you and David

Youngs beardless face, and theyre all
free! Wow, Swery, youre spoiling us.
Price: Free

the oXM Verdict

thats right woodchuckchuckers, its Groundhog day!

86 / the official xbox magazine

An interesting twist,
executed poorly,
and within a
that doesnt
play to Far Crys

BeaChBody Brazil BUTT lifT:

high & TighT

I always wished my butt was halfway up

my spine. Now it can be, with Beachbody
Brazil Butt Lift!
Price: 11.99

Puzzles try to be Zelda, but feel

more like a low-budget Crystal Maze.

who wouldnt want a giant

yellow robot as a pal?

forMaT xbox one / reviewer Kate graY / priCe free

forMaT xbox one / reviewer matthew castle / priCe 7.99

aSSaSSinS Creed UniTy:

dead kingS dlC

rno is sad. he lost his

girlfriend, got fired, and
also the french revolution,
or whatever. hes so done with all
this Paris stuff and thats where
Dead Kings comes in. the Dlc
released for free as an apology
for all Unitys issues takes place
in the murky city of franciade
(modern-day saint Denis) as arno
stealths his way through tunnels,
caves and catacombs.
franciade is
dull and foggy,
and where
synchronising in
Paris gave us a
stunning 360 of
a gorgeous city,
here it only fills
us with dread as we scan the
grey, boring horizon and realise
theres nothing to see. this is
mostly because the action takes
place underground but thats
where it gets worse.
the camera is clingy and
claustrophobic, making it tricky
to see whats going on and oh,
look at that, you died throwing a

SUnSeT overdrive: MySTery

of The Mooil rig

bomb at yourself. a new enemy

system means quantity over
quality: youll be swarmed by
hordes of angry raiders led by
one big leader kill him and the
rest scarper for no good reason.
well, the reason could be arnos
terrifying yet hilarious guillotine
gun, which is half-axe, halfcannon, all-ridiculous.
amongst all this mediocre
new content, theres a sort-of
story about
arnos reluctant
friendship with
a cheeky orphan
a lumbering
attempt to
make the sad
protagonist confront his feelings.
You know what our feelings
are? we feel like this is a
reminder of everything we didnt
like about a game we did like: its
glitchy, confusing, dull and fiddly.
the guillotine gun was fun, but
the puzzles and maze-like tunnels
made us curse the day arno ever
donned his hidden blades.

//its a reminder
of everything we
didnt like about a
game we did like//

he real mystery of Mooil

Rig that inexplicable cow/
oil pun aside is who its
actually aimed at. who reached
the end credits hankering for
more fetch quests? surely no
completionist is masochistic
enough to want more collectibles
on top of the existing 750?
Yet here we are, grinding
around an oil rig in search of
20 inflatable Ufos (unneeded
and collecting
three of
something to
trigger another
torrent of dated
pop culture gags.
sorry to sound forlorn i actually
like the main game but Mystery
of the Mooil Rig plays to Sunset
Overdrives worst habits.
the rigs vertiginous network
of platforms is a bad match for
Sunsets acrobatics, swapping
the forward momentum of the city
for knotty climbing and ceilings
to bash your head against.

no wonder two key missions

see a mecha-bryllcream simply
pick you up and throw you at the
destination the alternative is
dire. new dives that let you chain
water traversal are a smart new
addition, though even these
are wasted on two very simple
chase sequences. at least this
Jesus routine is transferable to
the main city, where it makes the
canals a more viable route.
weirdest of
all is how the
Dlc manages to
blend the halfassed seven
new challenges,
a trap, and
two amps and
weapons hardly set the world
on fire (flamethrower aside, of
course) and the unnecessarily
overblown, such as a rig-dwarfing
boss that turns up to be offed in
one of the games easier fights.
the best Dlc uses the power
of hindsight to hone its appeal;
Mystery of the Mooil Rig blusters
on regardless.

//who reached
the end credits
hankering for more
fetch quests?//

the oXM Verdict

Thank god this is
free with dreary
locations and
riddles, its
not really worth
paying for.


the oXM Verdict

A confused
step for a game
thats already
from a minor
identity crisis.

Indie roundup / The latest hidden gems and DIY disasters

faT Cow hoT air

Was the indie scene really lacking
a cow in a bubble zipping around a
lava maze collecting gold rings?


Medieval zoMBieS
Minecraft has a lot to answer for,
and this crappy, blocky, MS Paint
mess is one of them.


MeChaniCian alex 2
What is a mechanician? Apparently,
a guy with a too-short jump whose
enemies include sentient apples.


Solve sliding puzzles of animated
breasts. One for those who
appreciate the crass things in life.


A not-terrible Minecraft clone with
zombies and survival, made creepy
by the zombies blank stares.


the official xbox magazine / 87


be ta


t hings w e
l e a rned
from t he

343 Industries month-long multiplayer taster is over, but weve still got
its vivid flavours swirling around our mouths. Let us take you through 25
appetising facts we learned during our time on the Halo 5 beta

fter the online debacle that

was Halo: The Master Chief
Collection, the Halo 5:
Guardians beta was
precisely what the doctor
ordered. The beta offered
Master Chief Collection
owners just under a month
of access to kick the tyres of 343 Industries

88 / The OffIcIal XbOX magazIne

debut for Xbox One, and judge for

themselves whether the studios plan to
bring back that classic Halo feel might
just work after all.
During that time, OXM left no stone
unturned in our effort to find the juiciest
info-grubs around. Join us as we gorge
on the finer details good and bad of
Halo 5s beta.



The WeApons


The AssAulT Rifle is An

AbsoluTe beAsT

if you cAn mAsTeR iT, The

smG is The Gun of choice



The bATTle Rifle is As

fAiThful As eveR, buT
WeRe unsuRe on The DmR

leGenDARy WeApons mix

up hAlos combAT quieTly
buT confiDenTly




he starting weapons were switched

around a little during the beta, with
players spawning with battle Rifles
during one memorable week, but the
assault Rifle was a constant presence,
and a constant menace. The aR is an
enormously effective mid-range weapon,
dropping foes in seconds, but its efficacy
is increased even further in Halo 5 by the
new scope, making it more or less a 50/50
battle against a bR. for our money the aR
is a tiny bit too effective, and hopefully by
the full release 343 will have managed a
compromise between making every weapon
viable and aim down sights extremes.

he most unchanged of the entire

arsenal at your disposal in the beta,
barring a visual overhaul, the battle
Rifle is a four-shot kill mid-range rifle that
handles as beautifully as it ever did in
previous games. The Designated
marksman Rifle, however, unfortunately
felt a little underpowered in the beta with
its five-shot kill rarely outmatching the
bR or aR, but its important to note that all
of the maps on offer were small ones. The
DmR is more of a long-range, big Team
battle kind of a weapon, so fingers crossed
for its performance in the full game.

ew to Halo 5 are the addition of

legendary versions of weapons,
and in the beta we saw the energy
sword called Prophets bane on Truth. This
increases your Spartans movement speed
by 25%, has an increased lunge if aimed
in mid-air and, on a map full of camping
spots, is an absolute beast to fight with
and against. When kept on a tight leash
like this, the idea is great the advantage
is noticeable, but any decent team works
to counter that, adding an extra spice to
the usual tug-of-war. This is one of Halo 5s
quieter innovations, but a smart one.

he Smg has been buffed enormously

in Halo 5 previously more or less
useless unless you were inside
someones pocket, it can now drop foes
easily at short- and mid-range. The killer
detail, however, is the addition of a scope
that tightens the spread. If you can fire
like this without being de-scoped, its now
arguably better than the aR.


The hyDRA WeApon is

essenTiAlly bRoken buT
TuRn iT To youR ADvAnTAGe

erhaps the most misunderstood of all

the betas weapons, the brand-new
hydra may also be the best in fact,
once you learn how to use it you suspect
theres no way itll exist in this form in the
final game. The hydra can be fired from the
hip, which is how most players use it, and
this makes it more or less a crappy grenade
launcher. It can also lock enemies when
zoomed, in which case the projectile tracks
them. but the real key to the hydra is to
lock, and then aim at the sky. The projectile
shoots upwards before regaining the lock
bypassing walls to bring death from above.

The OffIcIal XbOX magazIne / 89



bReAkouT mAkes hAlos

TeAm plAy RelevAnT AGAin

he core of Halo multiplayer from the

beginning has been team play, which
leads to the principles that underlie
this new mode: an even playing field
where victory depends on communication,
controlling the map and power weapons.
Over the course of the beta, we had the
chance to play plenty of breakout and the
big takeaway message is that this is not
a mode for lone wolves. Spartans have no
overshield, which means that engagements
are over fast but, less obviously, grenades
are absolutely deadly. On the map crossfire,
in particular, the first 20 seconds are all
about surviving the inevitable hail marys.


communicATion is key

he two breakout maps on show in

the beta were crossfire and Trench,
with the latters uneven ground and
plentiful cover feeling like a much better fit
for the mode. crossfire has similar qualities
but also features a house on one side that
becomes a death trap. What really drives
home the teamwork angle isnt the reduced
health, but the lack of radar. This is one of
those things that you dont know youve got
til its gone, and it makes communication
absolutely essential weve won games
of breakout against far better players,
simply because we had our team on party
chat and called out enemy positions.


The mAps

peGAsus AnD oRion pRoviDe

A poTenTiAl Glimpse of
hAlo 5s foRGe WoRlD

egasus and Orion are maps made in

Halo 5s yet-to-be-seen forge mode,
and are set in the same landscape
which strongly suggests were getting
our first glimpse of Halo 5s equivalent
of Reachs forge World. One of bungies
greatest ideas, this is an enormous map
created solely for you to build in. There is
one interesting detail, however. The look
on each map is slightly different lighting,
colours and textures have changed. This
suggests that forge World, if indeed this is
what were looking at, will have some sort
of time-of-day or seasonal modifier.



olD WeApons, neW Rules

reakouts rhythm also changes the

dynamic of the classic battle Rifle. Its
breakouts power weapon, with each
team spawning near one apiece, and while
the reduced shields make scoring kills easier
they also make it dangerous to Rambo into
the enemy blindly. If you have the bR, in
other words, the best way to play is often
passive standing at your teams end of the
map, calling out enemies and staying on the

90 / The OffIcIal XbOX magazIne

high ground. It all adds up to a mode that

utterly changes the rules, while still feeling
like Halo. Veterans will be familiar with SWaT,
where one headshot kills, and breakout
definitely has a little of this Dna. This is Halo
5s wildcard, a mode that jettisons all the
fancy tricks in favour of teamwork, a level
playing field and good old-fashioned tension.
So, for those with a competitive inclination, it
looks like the ace up 343s sleeve.


ARe Remixes of
RemAkes of

ruth is Halo 5s remake of the classic

map midship, and mostly wonderful.
Its a little wider, with more mountable
locations and a few new elevated spots,
which in turn means more sightlines. The
only black mark is the ability to clamber
from the bottom middle right up to the
power weapon platform, which makes
acquiring height too easy. Regret is, in what
is surely a sign of things to come, a remix
of Truth. a remix of a remake? hold that
thought. It takes the basic structure and
makes everything bigger, so it plays like a
completely different map one much more
suited to objective modes.





AbiliTies in AcTion

oRions hyDRA bAse is

The besT plAce To mAke
youR sTAnD

rion has an open middle and two

asymmetrical bases with three power
weapons (Sword, Sniper, hydra) spread
across the map. as it stands, the hydra
base feels much better than the others,
with greater cover options and a wide field
of view over the ground which contributes
to Orion feeling like a real bR map, with
plenty of sightlines and a lot of verticality.

ThRusTeRs ARe A GAme-chAnGeR

he most crucial new move by a distance,

weve got a lot of love and a teeny
bit of hate for thrusters. The ability to
quickly dodge lets you enter or escape a
firefight in an instant, and the multi-second
cooldown feels just right. The love/hate
relationship is unavoidable, because the key

role of thrusters is to get you out of a bad

spot when you manage this, it feels great,
and when an enemy escapes its completely
unfair bS. That said, the contribution they
make to the overall smoothness of Halo 5s
movement is enormous, and after the beta
you could never go back to plain old feet.




empiRe AnD eDen finD

beAuTy in symmeTRy up
To A poinT

GRenADes hAve A WiDeR

blAsT RADius mAkinG
Them essenTiAl

spRinT Goes AGAinsT

eveRyThinG hAlo sTAnDs
foR buT iT WoRks

mpire is one of the flagship competitive

maps, and has a clever mix where the
overall shape is symmetrical but the
internal architecture doesnt quite work
that way. Its one of the most powerful
examples of Halo 5s principles in action, as
the team-based fragging is regulated and
shaped by the weapon spawns giving it
a flow thats everything to do with player
movement rather than the position of
corridors. eden remixes empire as a more
open battleground that favours bRs.
Theres a different flow to this map that,
while team fights are still common, tends
to encourage more lone-wolfing.


renades in the ability section what

gives, chief?! The biggest hidden
impact of the new abilities is on the
grenade explosion radius, which is much
wider than before. To put it simply, if your
shields are down and a grenade lands in the
same postcode then youre done.

an you have a first-person shooter

without sprinting in 2015? 343 says
no, and this is dicey ground for Halo
because the series has always been
constructed on the principle that movement
and gunplay are intertwined. While you
sprint you cant aim or shoot, so this is
rubbing against that core concept. but
it works. not only are the maps clearly
designed for it, but the killer touch of your
shields not recharging while sprinting feels
like it balances the increased mobility.

The OffIcIal XbOX magazIne / 91



AnD finAlly...

neiTheR The spARTAn

chARGe noR The slAm ARe
As useful As They seem

t the moment these two abilities sit

rather uneasily in Halo 5. Spartan
charge sees more use because there
are more situations where its an option,
but its hard to aim and not a one-hit kill.
The risk isnt worth the reward because,
even when you get the hit, you still have
to find the enemys new position and
finish them off. The Slam needs serious
consideration. The wind-up is long, the
area of effect is small, and there simply
arent any situations where its more useful
than throwing a grenade or shooting. It
does look cool, but thats about it.


clAmbeR leAves youR

cRouch-jump ReDunDAnT
buT iTs The RiGhT move

lamber means that the traditional skillbased mechanic of crouch-jumping

is not present in Halo 5 (if you press
crouch while jumping it initiates the Slam).
This is a trade-off with ease of movement
that, overall, does seem to be the right one
simply because Halo 5s movement feels
so much smoother in general, and a big part
of this is that you rarely fail to get where
you intend to go.

92 / The OffIcIal XbOX magazIne

The RAnkinG sysTem is RouGh ARounD The eDGes

buT hAs A WoRlD of poTenTiAl

alo 5s core is the return to competitive

arena play, and the beta showcased an
early form of 343s new ranking system
- after ten games youre placed in a medal
bracket, from Iron to gold to Semi-Pro and
Pro. from here, wins and losses affect your
points total, shown clearly after each match.


cAllouTs Give A GReAT

oveRvieW of WhATs GoinG
on buT less is moRe

43s new system of automated

callouts is overall a brilliant addition,
particularly when youre solo queuing
or otherwise not on voice comms. Theres
perhaps a little too much of it we dont
need announcements that a teammate
has picked up a DmR, or congratulations
on a double kill but in general this helps
the flow of the game enormously and is
more-or-less an unqualified success.
Particularly notable is that this, along with
the on-screen prompts for power weapon
spawns, comes straight out of those core
Halo principles of map and weapon control,
which is why they fit so well.

During beta this felt very much like a work in

progress, mainly because in our experience
there were a lot of mismatches wed win
50-5, or lose by the same. but the basic
components of cSR (and the fact its teambased rather than individual) are a move
back in the right direction.


Aim DoWn siGhTs shAkes

ThinGs up AnD mAybe
noT foR The beTTeR

im Down Sights, or aDS, is a thorny

one with Halo 5, and this is entirely
because never before have the
automatic weapons in the game had
scopes (barring ODSTs silenced Smg). The
problem with aDS is that it reduces shot
spread. Shot spread is the range penalty
for weapons such as the aR or Smg. So now
these automatic weapons are much better
at mid-range than, really, they should be
and somewhat mitigate the advantage
of having a bR or DmR. Whether this is a
problem or a great thing depends on your
stance but, for us, a bR should have the
advantage over an aR at mid-range.





De-scopinG is bAck, AnD

skiRmishes Will no lonGeR
be A flinch-off

alo 5 brings back de-scoping, which

is when you get shot while scoped
and are zoomed back out. This is
great! Its always been a key part of longrange battles in Halo and the feel of bR
engagements. Unfortunately the beta also
saw your viewpoint flinch when shot,
throwing off your aim, and this makes
certain engagements feel like a crapshoot
in every sense. luckily 343 has confirmed
that, following the beta, flinch will be
removed from Halo 5. hooray for feedback!

The meDAl sysTem

incenTivises you To
hone youR skills

he beta showcased several new

medals, and whats interesting is the
general direction theyre trending in.
Halo 5s new medals are designed to flag
up skilful play. You get a medal for perfect
kills with the light Rifle (three shots), battle
Rifle (four shots) and DmR (five shots).
Theres a Snapshot medal for Sniper noscopes, as well as a bespoke headshot
medal for kills with the weapon. Theres
a bXR medal for the classic melee/
bR combo, a hail mary for long-range
grenades, and so on. These highlight great
plays, and incentivise them.


The pRomeTheAns ARe

bAck. mAybe

his isnt exactly confirmed, but

the presence of the light Rifle in
multiplayer strongly suggests Halo
4s antagonists will be returning in some
form during Halo 5s campaign. and on
that note, one of our few disappointments
with the beta was the inability to play as
covenant elites. If this feature isnt present
in the final game, were going to go ape
with a crude energy sword fashioned from
fluorescent tubes or something.


sTRonGholD is The pick of The moDes,

As iT plAys To hAlos sTRenGThs

part from vanilla Slayer, the beta offered

two other modes: Stronghold and
breakout. Stronghold is different from
Halos traditional Territories mode and will
be instantly familiar to Destiny players, in
that there are three zones to control that
(after capturing) you dont need to stay in.
This keeps players mobile and suits Halo





tremendously well, because the games

traditional problem with modes such as
King of the hill is grenade spam everyone
spawns with two, after all. It also has the
happy bonus of making maps like Regret feel
much more focused.

one moRe ThinG

heres a feature in Battlefield and

several other fPS titles that would
slot perfectly into Halo 5 and its new
chatter system tagging enemies. In BF4,
if you see an enemy and click the right
stick theyre spotted for your team. This
feels like it would suit Halo 5s teamplay
mechanics very well and remove some of
the frustration at seeing your prey dash for
a corner you can easily give a teammate
the chance to finish them off.

The OffIcIal XbOX magazIne / 93

New worlds await

on GamesRadar+

Official Xbox Magazine has a new home online.

Go to GamesRadar+ for all your Xbox needs.


Squeezing more from your machine every month


96 oXm investigates

even a broken watch is right twice a day and

even terrible games have great moments.

98 now Playing: GTa online

Rich stanton hijacks, murders and flukes
his way through GTA Online.

100 now Playing: black Flag

Louise blain attempts to convince us that ACIV
is just like The Little Mermaid.

102 oXm investigates

Lara Crofts been around the world so many

times shes probably rolling in air miles.

104 The making of: Threes!

We talk to the guys who invented adding three

and three together to make er five?

108 Community spotlight

We take a look at Halo: MCCs functional-butnot-quite-there-yet multiplayer and do a sigh.

110 Xbox movies

ideas in bad Games

96 Good
not everything is 100% awful, yknow.





We take a look at Boyhood, Lucy, Sin City and

posh-boy satire attempt The Riot Club.

114 Far Cry Pitches

They asked for our ideas for the next game

and we rubbed our hands together in glee


The oFFiCiaL XboX maGazine / 95



the other side of
Xbox gaming

Great IDeas
BaD Games
These howlers had the brains
to be something good, but
their bodies werent willing

obody ever sets out to make a bad game or

even an average one, for that matter. But alas,
for numerous reasons a fair few of the games
that make it to market turn out to be a bit iffy.
The reasons for this could be down to a lack of budget,
or a lack of creative direction, or a lack of time. But
theyre not always down to a lack of inspiration.
Allow us two pages to eulogise the games that had
some clever ideas at their core, but for whatever
reason the teams were unable to build
great games around them

Blinx: the time sweeper

Developer: Artoon Year: 2002
In a parallel world, Blinx is the face of Xbox and
our cover game this month would be called
something like, I dont know, Blinx the Cat:
Redemption. Sadly for Artoons hideously
orange anthropomorphic puss, Blinxs games
were blighted by loose controls and difficulty
spikes, leaving him to languish in obscurity
along with other no-hopers such as Bubsy the
Bobcat and Aero the Acro-Bat. (The latter was
a bat, who also happened to be rather
acrobatic, in case you didnt get that).
But it could have been so different. Billed as
the worlds first 4D game, Blinx: The Time
Sweepers gameplay centres around the
manipulation of time. Your hero (hes certainly
not ours, not by a long shot) Blinx has the
power to rewind, fast-forward, record, pause
and slow down time with his trusty TS-1000
vacuum cleaner. Its a neat idea, even if the
general execution proved shoddy.
Blinx himself may have not endured, but
the series inspiration lives on. Ubisofts
Prince of Persia reboot, The Sands of Time,
adopted the time-reversal mechanic more
coherently a year later. Today, a whole raft of
games enable us to manipulate the fourth
dimension to our advantage from indie
puzzlers such as Braid to big-budget racers
like the Forza Motorsport series, and almost
everything in-between.

Far Cry 2
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal Year: 2008
Some hold Far Cry 2 up as being the best in
the series. Wed highly dispute that, but its
easy to see why so many hold it in such high
regard. Set in an unnamed failed African state,
Far Cry 2 subverts modern shooters fetish
for high-tech weaponry by instead forcing
you to wage war with a bunch of crap rusty
guns that jam and splutter in the midst of
firefights, jeeps that break down on you while
youre attempting to flee. Even your own body
breaks down on you, with malaria attacks
that flare up at the least opportune moment.
It all combined to create a palpable sense of
atmosphere. For all its faults, Far Cry 2 was a
game that was truly ahead of its time, and
wed love to see Ubisoft revisit this more
unforgiving setting on Xbox One.




Youre in the movies

Developer: zo Mode Year: 2008
Before Kinect, there was the Xbox live Vision
camera, a seldom-used add-on that was
best utilised in Burnout Paradise, taking
a snapshot of your smug face after youd
shunted another player off the edge of the
universe, and delivering it straight to their
screen. But the camera was old technology
even in 2008, as anyone who bought into
codemasters Youre in the Movies party game
found out to their chagrin.
Youre in the Movies promised to put you
well, in the movies. You and a few buddies
watch a movie trailer and mimic the action
on the screen, and then you can kick back
with a beer and let the Vision camera do all
the work as it captures your movements
and superimposes them onto the movie
backdrop. This leads to much merriment and
mirth. In theory, anyway.
But the reality is a little more lets say
ethereal and terrifying. The outdated
Xbox live Vision camera was simply not up
to the task at hand and ends up getting the
lighting all wrong, causing you to appear
as a ghostly apparition more often than not.
Other times, it would fail to detect where
you ended and the soft furnishings began,
surrounding you with an aura of
disembodied fabric. Youre in Mikamis
Movies, more like.

steel Battalion: Heavy armor

Developer: From Software Year: 2012
For fans of the ultra-niche mech simulator
genre, complexity is king. learning how to
expertly pilot these hulking metallic shells
and memorising which button-press activates
which of the many rockets is a large chunk of
the genres allure. It enjoyed a (relative) surge
in popularity in the late 90s and early 00s
as controllers featured increasing numbers
of buttons, allowing for deeper and more
complex mech sims.
But even the most button-tastic of
controllers struggled to keep up with the
mech genres ambitions, which is why
capcom decided to take the genre to its
absurd conclusion in 2002 with a hulking

130 custom controller boasting 40 buttons,

two joysticks and three pedals. Even for the
most dedicated of mech-heads, thats quite
the outlay for a single game the original
Steel Battalion with limited replay value.
But! With the dawn of Kinect, the publisher
spied a way to make Steel Battalion affordable
for the masses. Who needs hefty controllers
with more buttons than a Final Fantasy
characters coat when you can assign
everything to a hand gesture? great idea,
but one that grossly overestimated Kinects
accuracy on Xbox 360. Fire the homing
missiles or activate the ejector seat? To
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, the respective
commands are one and the same.

alpha Protocol
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Year: 2010
Alpha Protocol is by any yardstick you care
to measure it against a complete technical
mess. Its almost completely impossible to
look past enough bugs to fill several insect
houses, but squint really, really hard and youll
find the most open-ended, malleable story
that weve seen in any RPg, ever.
It isnt just what you say that affects things.
Every single thing you do affects how others
see you from who you associate with, to
how you perform in missions. Seemingly
insignificant choices cause the story to
splinter off in wildly different directions,
landing you in situations of your own making.
As dreadful as it can be at times, its a game
everyone should play and that goes double if
youre a designer at BioWare or Bethesda.




p l aY i n g
the games were
still going back
to, and why

Taking a moment to
enjoy the sunset?
Youll be lucky to
have the time

Dressing like a
70s pimp: great
as a disguise, not
so great at
providing armour.

98 / the official xbox magazine



Rich Stanton is playing

GTA Online
beCaUSe i love it when a plan comes together
LOvinG last-minute escapes and car chases

he first rule of GTA Online

is that nothing ever goes
to plan. im creeping up
to a warehouse, and the
minimap shows three friends
coming in from different
angles. were being careful because
weve died here before. in the parking
lot sits a van loaded with drugs. we
know there are also countless chinese
gangsters hiding around it. in two
attempts, we havent even touched the
van. get too close and everything kicks
off enemies keep coming while your
gang falls one by one.
but this time will be different.
whats fantastic about GTA Online is
that you need a plan. it doesnt have
to be an amazing plan, just everyone
trying to do the same thing. having
tried to carefully creep up only to be
overwhelmed, we decide to rush it.

HATinG loading times and useless compadres

im the driver. one mate clears

out the enemies around the van,
with the others on crowd control for
reinforcements and hopefully following
afterwards. i sprint straight for the van,
taking hits, while gangsters topple like
ninepins around me. with 25% health
i manage to sneak in, duck and spark
the spluttering engine into life. with
gunfire everywhere, my passenger
makes it just as the van picks up
speed. we crash through a fence as
our buddies run to their car and are
brutally cut down. they respawn too far
back and are executed a second time.
its just us two left.
well, us two and the parade of black
muscle cars in the rearview mirror. my
passenger nails three before we hit
the freeway. but there are four more.
and then he runs out of ammo. taking
fire, enemies ramming us, were too far

//whats fantastic is that you need a

plan. it doesnt have to be an amazing
plan, just everyone doing the same//

nov 2014
Format xbox one
Score 10/10
The latest
and greatest
entry in one
of gamings
series, gTa V
is like five
games in one.

from the goal to tough it out. my mate

shouts, go into the traffic! i swerve
over the next gap in the freeway and
were heading at top speed towards
oncoming cars. i can drive a bit. but
this kind of risk is only a matter of time.
i juke left and right through the
beeping obstacle course while we
both pray. one pursuer is close enough
to take out a tyre and bump us. im
dodging at top speed with little control.
the barns so close we can taste it.
then god smiles. the first pursuer
clips the oncoming traffic and splays
across the lanes. his buddies plough
into him, and a truck smashes into the
pile. we start whooping like mad. the
turn-off soon appears, and were home
dry. Success never tasted sweeter.
thats the flipside of GTA Onlines
first rule. Some days id crash that van,
and the gangsters plug us both. on
others they might drive better. or our
buddies survive and help out. but on
that day at that time, this happened.
thats why GTA Online is amazing. its
always brilliant, but its also different
every time. n

when in doubt,
always go for
the jetski.


the official xbox magazine / 99



p l Ay I n g

Its a pirates life

for me (as long as
Im only paddling).

Louise Blain is playing

Assassins Creed
IV: Black Flag

BECAUSE Someone has to talk about underwater stealth and safety

LoVIng Singing sea shanties along with me crew

irst things first: I hate

underwater sequences in
games. Theyre stressful,
unnecessary and frankly
dangerous. Fine, the last
one might be my own fault
because I insist on holding my own
breath for the duration, but theyre still
absurdly unpleasant. And where are
they most unwelcome? In an Assassins
Creed game. Im obsessed with husking
each city of every trinket going, and
Ubisofts decision to sprinkle a few of
Black Flags at the bottom of the ocean
may finally see me go off the deep end.
It cant just be me that saw the
shipwreck sequences and felt their
heart drop like the diving bell Edward
Kenway rides so keenly. Since Tomb

HAtIng Underwater sequences that shouldnt even exist

Raider IIs scarring shark-infested

sequences/childhood traumas, Ive
come to dread the world below the
surface. Somehow, Ive come to
associate being underwater with being
under pressure, and Black Flags diving
missions in which you have to find
chests and Animus fragments hidden
amongst claustrophobic wreckage
prove me right. Not only do you have to
deal with oxygen deprivation, but there
are jellyfish, spiked sea anemones
and yes sharks.
Oh, the sharks. I always wait a
little too long inside the sanctity of
the diving bell. I watch the circling
predators warily before glancing up at
the sun-dappled surface so terrifyingly
high above and sing a few bars of The

//Perhaps if the sharks spoke like

Unitys guards, slurring threats as I slip
away into seaweed, Id enjoy it more//

Oct 2013
Dev Ubisoft
Pub Ubisoft
Format Xbox 360
Score 9/10
Recap Edward
Kenway takes
the Creed on
a Caribbean
cruise as
he plunders
pieces of
eight with
and co.

Little Mermaids Part of Your World.

Then and only then is it time to take
the plunge. Edward and I hold our
collective breaths and go, the stress
of H2O making even basic steering a
nightmare. Sharks are worse than their
land-lubbing guard equivalents, their
stealth meters flicking from yellow to
red in a matter of seconds. Hide in the
seaweed, the game suggests helpfully
as I manically hammer QTEs to prise
teeth from around my skull. Thanks?
Perhaps this is how Im meant
to feel, but theres no fun here. No
joy of the kill as you pull another
unsuspecting guard into a haybale.
Perhaps if the sharks spoke like Unitys
guards, slurring threats as I slip away
unseen into some handily placed
seaweed, Id enjoy it more. But no, all
I have is the oppressive weight of a
million square tonnes above me, four
more wrecks to finish and no more
oxygen. Curse whoever chucked all
those Animus fragments overboard.



Alex Dale is playing


BECAUSE They keep ripping my guns from my cold, dead hands

LovinG Yes, a shotgun! Let me just grab it and


he shotgun is one of the

most powerful weapons in all
of Spelunkys cavernous, er,
caverns. But when I finally get
my hands on one, I feel small,
vulnerable, frightened. And thats fatal,
because I swear those mazes can smell
fear. Spelunky is constantly keeping
your confidence in check; too much
bravado or not enough conviction, and
its only a matter of time before you
wind up impaled on a spike.
Im trying to get a shotgun so I can
give it to the Tunnel Man. If youre
unaware, he builds shortcuts to later
levels in exchange for demands that
he seemingly pulls out of a hat. And a
shotgun is his price for a tunnel to the
Ice Caves, the games third world.
And thats a problem, because
shotguns are scarce. And as each
playthrough is randomly generated,

there are no shortcuts to getting your

hands on one. Purchasing a shotgun
from the shop is the most trouble-free
way, but theyre expensive and theres
no guarantee theyll even be in stock.
So, your most dependable route is
to unearth one of the hermits buried
deep within the sediment and take his.
Which is bothersome, not only because
of the vast number of bombs it takes to
flush him out, but, and at risk of stating

Jul 2012
Dev Derek Yu
Pub Mossmouth
Format Xbox 360
Score 9/10

the bleedin obvious, hes armed with a

shotgun and Im not.
You dont just settle down for
one game of Spelunky they come
in batches of 50 and so inevitably
Ive had shotguns in my grasp. So,
so, many shotguns, all of which have
slipped through my fingers like gloopy
spaghetti. Once I nursed one all the way
to the end of level 2-4 the last before
Tunnel Man only to panic under the
attentions of a rushing caveman and
tumble into a wasps nest, comically
close to the exit. But maybe, actually,
its for the best that Tunnel Man does
remain stuck in his cosy cul-de-sac. All
that practice has made me so good at
powering through the first two worlds
that I can routinely reach the Ice Caves
with a metric tonne of bombs, rope and
a compass in my inventory. Everything,
in fact, except that blasted shotgun.

Justin Towell is playing

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

BECAUSE The tables have turned! Mwahahaha
LovinG Being the boss of a load of shapes

he boss battles in Geometry

Wars 3 have divided opinion
across the board. And to
begin with at least, I admit
I wasnt sure about them
either. Probably because the first time I
met one of them, it killed me dead
faster than I could say, Heh, maybe it
should be called Geometry Wars 3:
Die-Mentions. In fact, said boss killed
me so much, I grew tired of dying. Id
fall for mean tricks like it putting up a
new shield right on top of me. And,


HaTinG How the shapes must laugh when I fail

most heinously, moving towards me.

What fiendish madness is this?
But then comes the beautiful part:
the bosses dont learn but I do. In
fact, Ive learned the bosses attack
patterns so well that my only real
opponent in a boss fight nowadays is
myself. A momentary lapse of
concentration is all it takes to fail,
sure, but thats what keeps me playing.
I want perfection. I want the equivalent
of a Mortal Kombat Flawless Victory. I
want total control.
Now the bosses are my playthings, I
welcome every futile wave of attacks
they can throw at me. Extra enemies
just mean more lovely geoms to gobble
up and multiply my score. And oh, how I
like to imagine those bosses furious
tempers. How red in the face they get
as I dance around their blue diamonds
of feebleness. How arse-smacked they

Nov 2014
Dev Lucid
Pub Sierra
Format Xbox
360, Xbox One
Score 8/10

must feel when I pre-emptively fire into

an empty corner of the level because I
know that by the time my bullets reach
the edge, their next wave of orange
rocket enemies will be occupying the
exact same position. This is what it
feels like to be a feeble human in a first
encounter. They cant win. I am the
puppet master, pulling all the strings
and making these formerly formidable
foes dance a merry jig to my own tune.
I circle-strafe around the boss,
depleting that big, red energy bar at my
leisure and leaving but a hairs breadth
of vitality left so that I can take its life
with a single shot when I deem the
time is right. Im waiting for the clock to
run down so that Im certain Ive wrung
every last drop of score from the wave
before moving on. Its classic highscore gaming. And in these boss fights,
Im the boss.



World raider
Shes a bit of a globetrotter, our
Lara. No, not that kind of globes,
you filthy people


New York

Lara Croft: tomb raider,

heartbreaker, slinky
dress-wearer. On her visit
to New York, Lara ditches
the shorts/vest top combo
for the kind of dress that
would make the tabloids
foam at the mouth.

Area 51

When your first proper

adventure takes place
in Atlantis, you have to
find ways of constantly
raising the bar. How
could Lara visit Nevada
without proving the
existence of Area
51? Maybe her next
adventure could be
about discovering (and
then setting fire to) the
Garden of Eden


In Tomb Raider: Underworld, Lara

turned style guru by collecting
a load of Norse accessories.
She started with Thors gloves,
which were in the Mediterranean,
then Thors belt in Mexico, and
ends with Thors hammer. Thor
seems a bit careless about his
possessions, if you ask us.

he OXM team used to consider themselves

jetsetters. Coming back from places like The
Gambia, LA and the Morrisons down the road,
we would regale our colleagues with tales of
the weather, the wildlife, and the buy-one-get-onefree offer on flannels.
And then we looked at Lara Crofts travel diary, and
wept. Shes visited over 30 countries, all in the name
of tomb raiding (and sometimes just in the name of
shooting some dudes in vaguely historical-looking
locations). But Lara Croft doesnt have any kind of
social media account, so how are we supposed to
know what she got up to in these exotic locations?
Dont worry you dont need blurry snaps of allinclusive buffet bars and photo after photo of Laras
tanned legs (or are they hot dogs?) in front of a tooblue pool. Weve got you covered.

102 / The offiCiAL xBox MAGAziNe

Pretty sure none of our childhood

memories involve fighting demon
horsemen and things that look like
infants made of mayonnaise, but
then again, we werent raised in
Ireland. Cant say were too keen
on visiting the Emerald Isle if its
full of murderous egg babies.


Legendary sunken paradise, or

mutant-infested, blood-covered
flesh horror? Lara Croft knows
the answer: its the latter,
obviously. Plato got it all wrong
he never said anything like,
Best grab your pistols, peeps,
there be egg-mutants.


You know when you go to

Antarctica for a lovely, if a little
bit chilly holiday, and then your
archaeologist friend turns into
an omnipotent spider mutant?
Lara does. Then again, this kind
of thing happens to her all the
time, so its probably no biggie.




Howard Carter, eat your heart out: Lara Croft doesnt just
discover Egyptian tombs, she smashes them open, nicks all
the cool stuff inside, meets actual deities before causing
some kind of catastrophic internal collapse that makes sure
no one else can do the same. Oh, Lara.


If you read Laras CV, youd see the words Tomb

Raider, 1984-present. Probably at the top. In
all-caps and bold. But in the interview, youd
say, Miss Croft, could you tell us about the
tombs youve raided? She would reply, Once I
destroyed part of the Great Wall of China, and
you would probably not hire her.


the other side of
xbox gaming

South Pacific

You know that musical, South

Pacific? The one with the
velociraptors and the T-Rex and
the guy that was born without
a face because of a magical
radioactive meteorite? Yeah,
this is a bit like that only
without the songs.


Heres a photo of me at
my seventh birthday party,
says Lara. And heres me at
Disney World, and in the hotel
swimming pool and heres me
in Nepal, and thats a photo of
my mum disappearing into a
complicated paradoxical time
loop! Ah, good times.

//Legendary sunken paradise, or

mutant-infested, blood-covered
horror? Lara knows the answer//



The offiCiAL xBox MAGAziNe / 103



In tHe
m AkIng
A behind the
scenes look at the
games we love

Hidden Variable
Studios revisits


Interviewee Nick Ahrens, creative producer at Hidden Variable Studios

n idiot might believe

Threes! to be no great
technical feat. Just a
load of cards and sums,
theyd argue. But do
not heed them. They
are an idiot. Look, it says so right
there in the first sentence. Turn your
ears instead to Nick Ahrens who, as
creative producer at Hidden Variable
Studios, not only helped to create
the most addictive puzzler of 2014,
but successfully shepherded it from
its mobile origins over onto Xbox One.
Here, he tells us how it was done, how
to improve your score and who his
favourite tile is
Firstly, what do you think it is about
Threes! that grips gamers so intently?
Simplicity is what still attracts me to it,
even after all these months of playing
it. The best puzzle games are often
designed around super simple systems
that ultimately lead to open-ended
depths of gameplay Tetris, Drop 7,
Bejeweled, and so on. If you mix that
with the basic matching elements of
the game, you get something thats
universally approachable.
Porting between platforms is a bit of
a mystery to most people. You almost
imagine a fully made game being fed
into a magical converting machine
and another fully made game coming

out the other end. What is the process

actually like?
We actually have a super-cool magical
converting machine, but its uh
broken at the moment. So we did it the
normal way. Putting Threes! on Xbox
One was actually more complex than
one would think in light of how simple
the game is.
When I talked to Chris Charla,
who runs the ID@Xbox program at
Microsoft, we very quickly decided
how cool it would be to let the players
Snap the game and play while
watching television or Netflix. The big
problem was that it had never really
been done before. Theres one other
game that you can Snap [Nutjitsu],
but you cant really play it while
snapped. This was easily our biggest
challenge and it took a very close
collaboration between us and
Microsoft to make it happen.
considering the game was originally
built for a touchscreen interface, how
long did it take to devise the Xbox One
control scheme?
It took a while, and we debated quite
a few crazy things like Kinect and even
using SmartGlass. But its an Xbox
game and it needed to feel awesome
with a controller in hand, so we
tossed out any idea that was not
devoted to making it work well with the
core input device.

nicK AHrenS
Based in Los
Ahrens has
been at Hidden
Studios since
2012. Before
this, he
iam8bit and
was a semi-pro

How did you envision the Kinect

controls working?
We were talking about letting players
use voice command to play imagine
shouting up! or down! at your
screen but the idea didnt last. We
put it all out on the table, though.
We knew deep down that simple was
the only real path, and wed be doing
ourselves and the fans a disservice
if we didnt make the game as
accessible as possible.
Many would argue that Threes! is a
more natural fit for handheld device,
what do you think playing on a massive
screen adds to the game?
We dont totally disagree with that,
because thats how it was imagined
when Asher Vollmer and Greg
Wohlwend first came up with the core
idea. However, since the actual
mechanics are so straightforward, its
really a universal concept. Taking your
time and playing at your own pace
works well when youre sitting in a
comfy chair and looking at the game on
a TV. I think adding Snap support also
helped us to give the console version a
boost. So many of us play mobile
games while watching TV, anyway
this felt like a natural evolution of the
modern play experience.
How hard was it to get Snap mode
working properly?


As I mentioned before, I believe were

the only game on the console that
actually lets you play properly in Snap
mode. Theres actually no difference
between the fullscreen version and the
Snapped version, other than the screen
size. It raised a ton of challenges.
Without getting too technical, we
worked with Microsoft to re-engineer
certain aspects of the code to get it
to work alongside other Apps or
games. Snap mode was originally
intended as a way for apps to
supplement the games on the console,
so the system resources available in
that mode are obviously smaller
and shared.
Some might look at the surface
simplicity of Threes! and assume it
was easier to develop because of
that. Were there any challenges you
faced when making it that might
surprise people?
Asher and Greg released an amazing
email conversation thats basically the
whole development of the game in one,
epic read. It proves that even a game
as simple as Threes! involves a ton of
iteration, exploration, complexity, and
passion. And that email only covers
up until the initial launch of the game!
[Read it here:
I think the biggest challenge with a
game like Threes! is to keep it simple.
But at the same time, its also the
easiest thing to mess up. We live in an
age of game development thats full of
complex RPG systems, realistic physics
and intricate weather systems that
make games released only a few years
ago seem positively medieval. However,
universal ideas that can be grasped
and mastered by anyone transcend
technological limitations and thats
what makes a lot of the classic games
truly brilliant. We think that Threes! has
the potential to live on as one of those
all-time classics.
if you spend all day rooting around in
the guts of a puzzle game, does it give
you a natural advantage at it?
Lets just get this out of the way

High scores
are our
only means
of selfvalidation.

tV too
boring? You
can just Snap
threes! to
the side of
your screen.

Im not that good at Threes!. I know

that may surprise people, but its
true. People are often embarrassed
and sombre when they tell me their
score of 15,000 but Im like, What?
Thats amazing! Great work! You
kicked my ass!
Threes! was designed as a supersimple system that requires thinking
about every move versus pre-planned
layouts and muscle memory. I can tell
you that Volleo (6,144), the final card
in the game, has been unlocked by a
strikingly low amount of players
well under 1%.
Who at Hidden Variable has the
highest Threes! score? can they
share a few tips?
Charley Price our co-founder and
Asher are nearly neck-and-neck in
scores. Charley (29,262) offered a few
basic strategies. 1) ALWAYS check the
next card at the top of the screen
to see what is coming up, so you
can plan your moves accordingly.
This tends to be the one weird trick
that significantly improves many new
players scoring potential.
2) Whenever possible, always make
it a priority to clear ones and twos
off the board (especially as you get
further into the game), otherwise theyll
invariably come back to haunt you.
3) As you assemble larger cards, do
you best to keep your them safely
nestled away in a corner, while
building up other larger ones around
them. This keeps your two largest tiles
from getting stranded on opposite
sides of the board. As you progress,
dont be afraid to migrate from one
corner to another!
We love the numbers personalities. Are
there a particular personal favourites
among the team?
Threejay (192) is pretty popular both
among us and the fans. So is Trin
(three), because hes an unofficial
mascot. Greg did a fantastic job with
the art of Threes!. All of the cards are
so cute and have great personalities,
but Im a big fan of Whalend (3,072)
because he just looks so damn happy.



Potted review

PubliSHer SIRVO / DeVelOPer HIDDeN

2014 / OXM ScOre 8/10

Threes! is a charming little nugget

of a mobile game, simple as you
can get and easy to learn. All thats
required from you is a swipe left,
right, up or down and all the
little numbers on-screen obligingly
follow. The goal is to combine them
into ever-increasing figures: first a
1 and a 2, and from then on its 3+3,
6+6 and so on until you get a nice
big three-digit one and you mess it
all up in your excitement.
Now its on Xbox One which is
strange, given its handheld debut,
but it remains as compelling and
addictive as ever. You can snap it
to the side while you watch Netflix,
if you feel like all House of Cards is
lacking is the occasional ooh! of
a saucy integer.
Ah, we forgot to mention that
all the numbers are sort of people.
They each have a personality,
and faces, and like to make their
feelings known. People might think
youve got a cast of nutters in your
living room, but who cares?
Thats what sets Threes! apart:
on the surface, its just a sweet,
time-wasting puzzle game, but its
surprisingly characterful and odd.
The number 384 is called Capt Triad.
According to his bio, he conquered
the seas without an orange,
returning with news of ants as a
viable source of Vitamin C. Who
could have thought wed have such
fondness for a number?
Threes! is elegant, clean and
horribly, life-ruiningly easy to get
hooked on, even if we still find
ourselves reaching for the easy
mind-numb of the phone app over
having to open it up and Snap it on
top of what were doing on Xbox.



These people are

definitely not about
to plummet headfirst
towards a broken
neck. Definitely not.


The oxm
r e p l ay
Revisiting the

ssX Tricky

Mark Green falls all the way down a mountain, but means it

Dev EA Canada
Pub EA
14 Jun 2002
scored 7.5/10

hirteen years! By God, time

flies. For perspective, when
this came out we were all
still walking around with
Nokia 3210s those myfirst-mobiles with the tiny
green screen and Snake. And I honestly
feared SSX Tricky would now feel just
as much a product of its time, with
polygons peeling at the edges and the
gameplay all cobwebby and sad.
Good news! SSX Tricky happily
sticks two fingers up at Father Time,
its stunts and slopes still a blazing
masterclass in how to build fun. It
was and is one of gamings best
racers the only downer being that
its a reminder that the blockbuster
snowboarding genre has all but
melted away today.
The original SSX debuted EAs
Sports BIG label, and BIG this still is:
a dizzying fruit machine of bombastic
sound and light aimed straight at your
pleasure centres. Pull off a serious
stunt and the ground flies miles

//The forward momentum

whips you along and drives
a sense of risk-vs-reward//

away, your boarder flips like a playing

card trapped in a vent, fireworks
explode, air horns wail, the crowd
roars, faux B-movie quotes play (He
fears nothing, not even the gods!)
it actually makes me feel cool, even
though in actuality Im rooted to a sofa,
lifting my bum slightly before each
jump to will my rider into the sky.
What the heck happened to racing
games like this where you fly downhill
constantly? The forward momentum of
SSX Tricky whips you along with it, and
drives an exceptional sense of risk-vsreward. You desperately want to avoid
the lurching halt of a failed stunt or
a clonking collision with a tree but
you just have to attempt the finger
ballet thatll glide you smoothly into
that tunnel or up to grind that mid-air
rail. And success is all the sweeter for
the games best-remembered bit: Run
DMC dutifully yelling Its tricky! as
you fill your stunt meter - in time with
whatever music is playing, no less.
A decade on and its still magic.

Peak performance

The tracks, loosely based on those

from the earlier PS2-only SSX, are
amazing. They belong to what feels
like a lost era of whimsical racing

playgrounds. It starts sensibly: snow,

trees, the usual. Then it gets a bit
off-kilter; were talking swinging rope
bridges and glass barriers in the middle
of the track. By the end, its a daft
wonderland of snowed-in skyscrapers
and alien teleporters. And you get to
feast on a spaghetti-tangle of secret
routes: slyly hop over a fence or
suicide off the side of a banked turn,
and the crafty developer was waiting
for you all along with a hidden freefall
or deep-snow shortcut.
Yes, SSX Tricky is trapped in that
outdated BIG vibe, a hangover from
late-90s X Games fever. EA tried so
very hard with the characters, but even
having played the game fresh I cant
remember anyone except Eddie and his
hateful hair-pumpkin. It doesnt help
that the voice cast of then-celebs now
reads like the next Celebrity Big Brother
Macy Gray! David Arquette! Someone
or other from The Mummy Returns!
and the end-of-race arguments
between racers are like a BioWare
cutscene rewritten by a five-year-old
and animated in plasticine.
But thats about it for moans. This
is still the SSX to treasure above all
others, even though I love all the
sequels in their own way (except the



From the
What we really want to know is: how the heck
is her tummy not catching a chill? Is she just
so damn cool she defies the elements?!


For our final ever oXM Museum, we take you back

allllll the way back to March 2002, the scene
of the first ever issue of official Xbox Magazine.
issue 1 / Date march 2002 / Cover project Gotham racing

influenCeD by
ssXs producer invented
this olympic sport in 1991.

influenCe On
Bioshock infinite
Bookers skyline jaunts are
inspired by the descents.

recently rebooted one never got

on with it). SSX is the series that its
okay to love despite a main mode
that forces you to play every race
three times in a row maybe even
because of that, because I voluntarily
imprisoned myself in SSX Tricky
opener Garibaldi for hours this time
around, perfectly happy to give in to
the games puppy-like enthusiasm
for you to play around and explore
absolutely everything.
Theres a making of video on
the disc, and the games executive
producer says, If we do it right you
forget youre playing a videogame. He
could not be more wrong. SSX Tricky
stands up now because it basks in its
videogaminess. Frankly, we could do
with more games where your rider is
flying towards a UFo, 100 metres above
the ground, spinning his board around
his neck, and landing with a colossal
thump to assorted 80s coin-op bleeps.
But we dont want the Nokia 3210
back, just to be clear. n
WHaT HaPPeneD neXT
ssX 3 transported all the action to
a single great big mountain and
stuck a dJ in it. rocks.


olding a copy of the hallowed

first ever issue of OXM in our
hands, we cant help but wonder if
this humble compilation of paper
n staples will one day be worth
thousands of pounds, like the first
edition of Action Comics. Probably
not, as weve just spilled levi Roots
Reggae Reggae Sauce all over the
cover. Speaking of condiments, you
find them in burgers, and a burger
is exactly what
youll find when
you flip to
page three
(nice segue,
idiot Ed).
Said burger
can be found
in the hands of
Microsofts Bill Gates. Hes posing
with a Big Mac in one hand and an
original Xbox controller in the other,
in a surreal image that brings to
mind a Nigerian scammer attempting
to prove his authenticity. The
bizarre publicity still was taken as

a response to complaints from the

Japanese press, that the original
Duke controller was too massive for
human hands to hold comfortably.
Microsoft even made the pic into a
paper tablemat for the cafeteria at
the 2001 Tokyo Games Show. That
showed them! For a bit, anyway, until
Microsoft was forced to release the
less freakishly sized S controller.
And that brings us to the end
of the OXM
lifespan. Weve
sold the building
off and an
developer is
the place into
student flats. But fear not, as were
introducing a new (hopefully
better but dont get mad if it isnt)
column Game Roulette, where
well be replaying something totally
random from our vault of 6/10
rated games.

//The surreal image

brings to mind a
Nigerian scammer
attempting to prove
his authenticity//

halo: Combat evolved

headed a truly impressive
reviews section,
bagging itself 9.7 out
of a possible 10.0.
other high scorers
included project
Gotham racing
(8.9), rallisport
Challenge (8.5)
and Dead or
alive 3 (8.5).
all 45 Fuzion
Frenzy mini-games,
screenshotted and
explained. you have to
admire the dedication
of staff writers Jon
attaway and Steve
bailey but
the 4.5 score
overleaf suggests
their efforts
were in vain.



Remember how
your mother
used to warn
you about
purple beams?


S p o tLIgH t
Reports from
Xboxs biggest

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Back in business, but not quite up to speed
Details Dev 343 Industries / Pub Microsoft Studios / Reporter Nathan Ditum

Fancy seeing you here!

Have much of a wait?

So many guns, and all of them

pointed right at us. Eep.
108 / THe OffICIAL XBOX MAgAzIne

inally, it works! Better! Which

is to say, better than when it
didnt really work at all. Since
launch, 343s meticulously
polished curation of the
violent life and times of Master
Chief has been beset by network issues
and matchmaking woes the key woe
being that it couldnt make any matches.
Thanks to a hefty pre-Christmas
patch, the situation has improved
significantly. Previously unworkable
waits for player searches have been
roundly whipped into shape there are
still delays when compared to the likes
of Advanced Warfare or, more painfully,
Destiny, but excepting the occasional
time out or crash, squeezing a group
together takes around two or three
minutes on average.
Other problems linger. Something like
half of all matches are hit by noticeable,
saddening, Im teleporting five yards at
a time and walking into a wall now lag
spikes, and at the time of writing there

on THe CloCk

How we spent our

time in the game

12% Blaming the

lag for everything
19% Hammering
the Slayer playlist
9% Screaming
at lobby idiots
27% Wishing for a
Blackout playlist
13% Engaging in
frozen battles on
20% Remembering
why we only play
Big Team with

//Previously unworkable
waits in lobbies have been
whipped into shape//

are still no rankings in place for any of

the playlists. This might sound like an
abstract point, but a lack of ranks gives
a looseness to the whole experience
mid-game quitters are more common,
and theres none of the back-to-thewall tension that the original online days
of Halo 2 and 3 were built on.
As for the playlists themselves,
it seems they wont ever offer a
comprehensive index of game modes
as playable in each version of Halo,
although they do now have some extra
variety. A dedicated Halo: Combat
Evolved playlist offers matchmade
original Halo over Xbox Live for the first
time, though search times are currently
lengthy (perhaps thanks to a lower
population). The shortest waits and most
competitive games are currently found
in the Halo 3 playlist and the catch-all
Team Slayer circuit, which pulls in maps
from Halo 2, Halo 2: Anniversary and
Halo 3. Here the matchmaking is swift,
the action is blazing and The Master
Chief Collection shows something like
its true potential.
IF you Do one THIng In Halo THIs
MonTH, Make IT Playing a round of
Slayer on Halo 3s Blackout its as
good as the series has ever been.



We think were
all supposed
to forget
about Stings
stint in tNa.


things not
in normal
games: guns.

WWe 2k15
Using the creation suite to conquer the
eater of Wallets
Dev Yukes / Pub 2K Sports / Reporter alex Dale

rowsing through WWE 2K15s customisation suite, and

seeing its community attempt to squeeze value from
their 50 purchase like juice from a dried-up lemon, is
a profoundly sad experience. The character creation
tools are the lifeblood of the WWE games allowing the
community to craft home-made versions of wrestlers and costumes
that either didnt make the cut, or were introduced in the real world
after the games roster deadline.
Obviously, some knock-off versions are more convincing than
others, but since the download page organises search results by
user score, misshapen monstrosities are banished to the bottom,
never to be gazed upon by human eyes again. By contrast, the
creations that bubble to the top truly impress. You can find a
passable likeness
of pretty much any
wrestling personality
youre in the market for
here from TnA-era
Sting, resplendent
in Joker makeup, to updated looks for current Superstars such
as Ryback. With crushing inevitability, you can even download a
facsimile of the notorious Chris Benoit. But even among the cream
of the crop, theres always something wrong. every conceivable
variable has been rationed, from the number of haircuts to the
number of poses a wrestler pulls when they stroll down the ramp.
Its a far cry from the incredible creations fans have been
creating on Xbox 360 for years, and since apparently were now in
an era where the most exotic wrestlers are routinely ring-fenced
for DLC, we can only hope next years game sees the creation suite
once again firing on all cylinders.

//You can find a

passable likeness of
pretty much anyone//

IF you Do one THIng In WWe 2k15 THIs MonTH, Make IT

Downloading new Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose for a triple-threat.


Call of Duty:
advanced Warfare
Uplink has become the games most tactical,
least understood mode
Dev Sledgehammer games / Raven Software / Pub activision /
Reporter Martin Kitts

mid the bouncy, insta-respawny chaos of Advanced Warfares

multiplayer, theres one mode where organised teams rule the
roost. Uplink is a one-flag CTf variant that will be instantly
familiar to players of Halo 4s Ricochet mode. Halo 4 in turn
thieved it from Unreal Tournament 2004s Bombing Run, and in
real life it would be a bloodsport version of basketball, with jetpacks.
It works well as a tactical team sport in Advanced Warfare for the
same reasons that most of the games other modes are dominated
by fast-moving, fearlessly sprinting Rambo types. The double-jumps,
dashes, slides and aerial dodges are extremely well-suited to a pacy
ball game, and because its
tucked away beneath the
more immediately tempting
modes, most people
havent spent all that much
time with it. Therefore
hardly anyone seems to know how to play it properly.
The pro loadout choices at the moment seem to favour speed
over firepower, hence Lightweight, Overcharged and exo Stim are
commonplace. Some specialists carry the Heavy Shield, in the hope that
shots to the back will get blocked while theyre being pursued.
What really separates competent Uplink players from the dabblers
is their use of passing. Most randoms try to grind their way across the
map, scrabbling for the ball in a scrum of deaths, not realising that
youre actually meant to pass it to teammates. And dont throw it into
the goal except as a last resort dunking scores double, and might
prevent you getting a flood of abuse if you lose by the odd point.

//Uplink is concealed
by more immediately
temptating modes//

IF you Do one THIng In aDvanCeD WaRFaRe THIs MonTH, Make IT

Using your headset and forming an Uplink team for easy wins.

THe OffICIAL XBOX MAgAzIne / 109



c u lT u r e

Starring Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia
Arquette, Lorelai Linklater
Price 4.49 (HD to rent)

ichard Linklaters ambitious project

films its child star every year for 12
years, charting his growth from
angelic sprog to brooding teen.
Documentaries have trodden
similar ground, but by weaving in
fictional events dodgy parents, even
dodgier step-parents this keeps you hooked
for nearing three hours. Incorporating elements
of the boys (Coltrane) real life such as a
growing fascination with photography the
film also captures the feel of the decade as it
dredges up popular culture and changing
trends. Its packed with middling pop songs and
terrible film references (as well as several
generations of games consoles) that must
have made perfect sense at the time of filming,
and give it an honesty that manufactured
visions of the past always lack. Whether
enjoyed as a game of nostalgic I Spy or as a tale
of great intelligence, charm and humour,
Boyhood has to be seen.

On yOur
This month in

star ellar coltrane

was just seven
years old at the
start of filming.

Starring scarlett Johansson
Price 4.49 (hd to rent)

Johansson ingests drugs said to

unlock the untapped 90% of the
human brain, in an action romp
that inversely gets dumber by the
minute. Did you know heightened
brain activity lets you defy gravity?
If you roll your eyes at that, be
sure to switch off before the end,
where any goodwill is destroyed
in a tidal wave of guff.

//This ambitious project

films its child star every
year for 12 years//

A Walk Among the


Sin City:
A Dame to Kill For

Starring liam neeson

Price 4.49 (hd to rent)

Starring mickey rourke

Price 4.49 (hd to rent)

A troubled detective strolls into

a tonal mishmash of a case,
involving a series of murders
one second and a wisecracking
orphan the next. The tombstones
presumably mark the serious
acting jobs Neeson has all but
given up on in order to recycle
this tedious hardman routine.

Robert Rodriguezs return to Basin

City reuses the same ingredients
hard-boiled dialogue, CG sets,
similar cast but the cake
refuses to rise. These four tales
of revenge lack the outrageously
brutal villains of the first film,
mistaking gratuitous nudity and
gallons of blood for edginess.

Geek-Art: An
by Thomas Olivri
WhAT is iT?
A massive coffeetable book for
dorks who like
books and art and
games and also own
coffee tables.
Whys iT GOOd?
This collects
hundreds of
fantastic artists,
graphic designers
and photographers,
all with their own
takes on geekdom whats not to love?
Will iT mAke
me seem smArTer
And/Or cOOler?
might make you seem
geekier.But if your
chums are geeks,
all is well.

The Riot Club

Starring sam claflin, max irons
Price 14.99 (hd to rent)

A thinly veiled nod to the

Bullingdon Club, the infamous
elite Oxford drinking society, The
Riot Club bares its fangs at the
horrible twerps as they humiliate
the peasants around them,
without ever biting down. Its a
satire that feels slightly in awe of
its targets, derailing an otherwise
quite watchable thriller.

O X m p i c k s: O s c A r n O m i n AT e d

Grand Budapest Hotel

Xbox Video

Two Days, One Night


Xbox Video

Guardians of the Galaxy

Xbox Video

How to Train your Dragon 2

Xbox Video

The key to the Academys

heart? Art theft, prison
breaks and Ralph Fiennes
in a rare comic role.

Nominee Marion Cotillard

tries to convince
colleagues to sacrifice
wages to save her job.

Sleeping Beauty retelling

got a best costume nod.
Duff as it was, you cant
knock Jolies cape.

Groot for best actor? Sadly

not. But those knobbly
alien heads nabbed a best
makeup nom.

Okay, The Lego Movie didnt

get an animation nod,
but then it didnt feature
dragons or training.



ISSUE 122 / mARCh 2015

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cause 3

exploRing xbox ones

maddest open woRld yet!
Revealed: an xbox classic RetuRns
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xbox one gets apocalyptic

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the official xbox magazine / 111



XboX one essentials

Our shortlist of the finest games currently available

Forza horizon 2
puBliSher: MiCroSoFt StudioS

Arcadified Forza fun for those that

cant tell their exhaust from their
elbow. Tearing up the Mediterranean
brings a tear to our eye.

Far Cry 4
puBliSher: uBiSoFt

Its like a zoo, but with explosives

and guns and dictators and
gyrocopters and homicidal tapirs.
Top-notch open-world shooting.

grand theFt auto V
puBliSher: roCkStar

What was already an excellent, brutal and beautiful openworld game is made even more so on Xbox One with a visual
tidy-up, a glut of new content and the addition of firstperson pedestrian-beating.

puBliSher: MiCroSoFt StudioS

Steer two totem-pole stumps

through a dastardly platforming
gauntlet in the puzzler thatll tie
your fingers up like Flumps.

alien: iSolation
puBliSher: Sega

Why you should buy

aSSaSSinS Creed iV: BlaCk Flag

Youll notice weve given Essentials an

overhaul this month. With Xbox One hitting
its stride, we felt it was time to refocus. Youll
also note weve done away with scores aleX Dale
@SporadicDaler thats because perceptions of games
change over time with each passing new release, and we
wanted the extra flexibility to keep our list as current as
possible. And that means, for example, wed include Black
Flag over the flawed but good Unity, any day of the week.

Pop a Valium and buy some brown

trousers, because this tense
masterpiece will trick you into
thinking youre safe. Youre not.

halo: the MaSter

ChieF ColleCtion

aSSaSSinS Creed iV:

BlaCk Flag
puBliSher: uBiSoFt

Forget those landlubbers: this

pirate-em-up proves the parkours
better down where its wetter.

Middle-earth: Shadow
oF Mordor

puBliSher: MiCroSoFt StudioS

puBliSher: warner BroS

Buffed-up, revarnished and back in

the shop window, leaving us to
wonder if it always looked so lovely.

Every Orc NPC can become your fully

fledged nemesis (until you shank
the life out of them, that is).

dragon age: inquiSition

puBliSher: ea

puBliSher: ea

Enormous, handsome and in love

with the subtleties of world design,
storytelling and combat. The best
RPG on Xbox One so far.

Yours for 10
Discount games
worth getting

Splinter Cell: BlaCkliSt

An expertly blended fusion of classic

stealth and the fast-paced stalk and
kill action thats so in vogue now.
Score 8/10 Buy it 8.99

112 / the OfficiAl xbOx mAgAzine

10 titanFall

The team that brought you Call of

Duty 4 takes online multiplayer a
large step forwards and upwards
with skyscraper-clearing mechs.

11 the wolF aMong uS

puBliSher: telltale gaMeS

Telltales storytelling magic brings

Bill Willinghams dark fables of
fairytale heroes struggling to adapt
to the real world to glorious life.


12 MineCraFt

puBliSher: MiCroSoFt StudioS

want to go hiking? explore the

depths of hell? recreate
buckingham Palace? go ahead
all possibilities are open to you.

baD but GooD

we shoulDnt
like it, but we
really Do

XboX 360 benchmarks

the best in show from the xbox
360s ten-year catalogue
best shooter

13 deStiny

14 wolFenStein: the new order

puBliSher: BetheSda

Just because we want to dualwield shotguns doesnt mean we

dont also appreciate a good story.
The New Order has it all.

15 the eVil within

puBliSher: BetheSda

Resi creator Shinji Mikami is back,

and hes more unforgiving than
ever. This is gory, terrifying and
wholly worthy of its legacy.

16 FiFa 15

puBliSher: ea

Improved ball control and dribbling

makes this the most exciting FIFA
yet. Get it quick who knows when
EA will make a new one?

17 Call oF duty:
adVanCed warFare

The game that strapped a rocket

to the series and made it a
cultural icon is also still the
best, with a unique intensity.

SpeC opS:
the line

Dont know about

it? Just go in
thinking its a
shooter. Dont
read up on it at all.
The game will
make this illusion
easy for you
from the
characters to the
guns, it begins as
the most
generic shooter
youll ever
experience. Then
sit back and
watch as the story
unfolds in ways
you could never

best rPg

Punishing but rewarding openworld affair, where the limits of

your exploration are defined by
skill rather than by numbers.

best oPen-worlD

This emotional tale of the Wild

Wests dying days takes place in
a landscape so authentic, you
can taste the tumbleweed.

best Puzzler

Takes the originals central

conceit of portal-spewing
guns and expands it in brilliant,
mind-melting ways.


best action

Tighter and more focused than

City, this trawl through a prison
made us feel so Batman-y our
voices dropped an octave.

best fighter

Street Fighter IIs poise and

balance, refreshed and remixed
with the technology of today.
Also: mad alternative costumes.

best Platformer

puBliSher: MoSSMouth

Randomised levels arent

usually classics. But Spelunkys
tightly-governed stages put
custom designs to shame.

Off-kilter adventure starring a

private dick who does most of his
thinking on a toilet, and is haunted
by a giant in a surgeons mask.


ultra Street Fighter iV

puBliSher: CapCoM

puBliSher: MiCroSoFt StudioS

Lacks the purity of olden-times

Geometry Wars maybe, but this is
still a thrilling, retina-battering
collection of high-score challenges.

BatMan: arkhaM aSyluM

puBliSher: warner BroS

Use his giant magic marker to draw

handy platforms. Or, yknow, funny
moustaches onto enemies faces.

puBliSher: Sierra

portal 2
puBliSher: ValVe

puBliSher: MiCroSoFt StudioS

20 geoMetry warS 3: diMenSionS

red dead redeMption

puBliSher: roCkStar

Jetpacks, homing grenades and

other sci-fi gadgetry bring the tired
template into the (mid) 21st Century.

19 d4: dark dreaMS dont die

dark SoulS
puBliSher: Bandai naMCo

puBliSher: aCtiViSion

18 Max: the CurSe oF


Call oF duty 4
puBliSher: aCtiViSion

puBliSher: aCtiViSion

An insanely addictive MMO

spaceshooter thats got some
of the nicest skies youll see this
side of your front door.


best racer

Forza MotorSport 4
puBliSher: MiCroSoFt StudioS

With more cars and tracks and

less emphasis on draining your
wallet, Forza 4 is still the serious
racing sim pace-setter.

the OfficiAl xbOx mAgAzine / 113

the final countdown

13 Ideas For The

NexT Far Cry Game

Ubisoft has asked for fans ideas for the next instalment of Far Cry. Bad move, Ubisoft
because videogame fans are people like us, and were complete idiots. But you asked,
so here are our answers. We expect at least five of them in Far Cry 5
bad stomach bug instead? Itll
teach players that food hygiene
is important as they violently
evacuate the contents of their
stomach from both ends during
a firefight.


Far Cry:
Ubisoft Edition
Your girlfriend
was born with no face, and
now you have to trek to
the island of Maidpname
to weave her one out of
cassava roots. Be warned,
though: the disc doesnt
actually contain the game,
just the right to buy it, bitby-bit, for 80 an hour.


Far Cry: Cry Far Edition

In this radical reimagining
of the series you play as Franz
Lang, Bavarias Jodlerknig, or
Yodel King. Guns are entirely
removed as you use your majestic
alpine cries to scare off animals
and level up your lungs to amplify
cries to head-exploding volumes.


Far Cry: British Edition

Britain is experiencing
a videogame renaissance, so
obviously the next Far Cry should
be about overthrowing the
tyrannical regime of the Mayor
of Sheffield. Kill five urban foxes
to craft a tram ticket, fight off
miserable colds with Lemsip
injections, and scoff Yorkshire
puddings to regain health.


Far Cry: Illness Edition

Having malaria in Far
Cry 2 was great, but what if
the protagonist had a really


Far Cry: Brands Edition

The series makes a lot of
money but it could make more,
by selling ad space in the form
of the games animals. Boring,
unmonitisable tigers, for instance,
could be replaced with Tony the
Tiger, cornflake-crazed cover star
of the Frosties cereal. Theyre
GRRRRREAT, he bellows,
referring to your lungs.


Far Cry: Kinect Edition

The Kinects motionsensing technology opens new
and exciting ways to muck up
stealth missions. Dont want
to attract the attentions of that
tiger? Stand perfectly still. Ruhroh, you blinked. Now theres a
bear elbow-deep in your innards.


Far Cry: Disney Edition

If theres one thing missing
from Far Cry, its musical
numbers. In the Disney Edition,
all animals can talk, dance and
sing, and your gun is actually
a man called Simon under a
terrible curse.



Far Cry: Tourist Edition

We like the radio towers. Can we have a game that
consists only of thousands of these, each revealing
a tiny sliver of map? Maybe we could unlock new stations
as rewards, like the one with all the nice classical music.


Far Cry: Fashion Edition

That Pagan Min sure loved
his pink suit. What if we had a
really fashionable despot? His
main policies would be things like
always wear matching socks and
his literal fashion police punish
anyone wearing polyester suits
with the death penalty.


Far Cry: RuPaul Edition

Now that RuPauls Drag
Race is massively popular, Ubisoft
could totally collaborate. Maybe
Rus trying to take over the world

Far Cry: Viva

Piata Edition
You love hurting animals,
dont you? You love rummaging
through their innards for upgrades.
But what if they were all cute
pinatas? With adorable names like
Mousemallow? You evil wait,
there are sweets? GRAB THE BAT!

with a rhinestone-encrusted
mech and its up to you, his sassy
assistant, to take him down a peg
or two, all while crafting fabulous
outfits out of pelican skin.


Far Cry: Reverse Edition

In this exciting reversal of
the franchises tropes, you play
a complete nutter who, through
exposure to completely normal
things like dental floss and
cutlery, gradually gains lucidity
until hes just a regular guy with
no murderous tendencies.


Far Cry: Lady Edition

Ha, sorry, this ones too
funny. A lady protagonist? Have
you seen how difficult those
things are to make? Theyve got,
like, legs, and arms, and lumps
all over the place, and they walk
funny and whatever. That sounds
like so much animation work.
Nah, well just have a dude again,
thanks. Good joke, though!

next issue of oxm onsale 13 Mar. subscribe and save money: see page 68 for details

114 / the official xbox magazine