Persona 5 Strikers
PlayStation 4 – 2020
Originally released as Persona 5 Scramble in Japan in 2020, Persona 5 Strikers would eventually make its way worldwide in 2021. The game is a collaboration between Atlus and Koei Tecmo, developed by Omega Force and P-Studio. As a result, the game has a lot in common with the Dynasty Warrior series. Gone is the turn-based combat of Persona 5, instead we have a hack‘n’slash action RPG where you have to mow down hordes of enemies. Set across the month of August, Joker meets up with his companions in Tokyo to spend his summer holidays. While in Tokyo, Joker, Morgana and Ryuji accidentally stumble a “Jail”, a cognitive reality similar to the “Palaces” from Persona 5. This kick starts the Phantom Thieves adventure as they travel across Japan to discover the true power behind these “Jails”. You’ll be joined by the original Phantom Thieves from Persona 5, along with two new companions. Each character has their own elemental style, with Joker being able to obtain personae with different elements, similar to how Persona 5 operated. Despite being a hack’n’slash action RPG in the vein of the Dynasty Warriors series, the combat never feels repetitive. You can ambush Shadows to give you an advantage in combat, there’s a wide variety of spells to use, as well as your melee combat and gun. The game also features “All Out Attacks”, which can be used to devastate large groups of enemies. Also added are “Show Time” attacks. These are built up through combat and can be unleashed to great effect. The game’s “Jails” are inventive and fun to explore, even if they are a bit linear. The art style of Persona 5 returns and looks as beautiful as ever. The game does offer a Framerate or Graphics option but while playing in Graphics mode I never encountered any framerate drops, something which does happen in Koei Tecmo games. The confidant system is gone, instead you have a “Bond” bar that levels up through side quests, main quests and combat. This can be used to unlock new abilities for the team. The side-quests are scaled back from Persona 5 but there is still a decent amount here, including ones that see you assist your team mates with different “challenges” (such as gathering sweets for Ann). The fantastic music of Persona 5 returns, along with some new tunes to sink your teeth into. The only issue I had with sound was that sometimes the background music would drown out the voice acting. It’s a great game and my favourite of the “Dynasty Warriors” style so far. The story is excellent and it’s nice to see the Phantom Thieves one last time.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Xbox 360 – 2012
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is another entry in TT Games long running Lego series. All the familiar tropes are here such as secret characters, minikits, red bricks and gold bricks. The game’s hub takes place in Gotham City. Here, you can explore the city to find new characters, red bricks that unlock cheats and even vehicles to drive or fly. The map is a nice size and there’s just the right number of collectibles where it never feels overwhelming. You can also access the Batcave. From here you can progress the main story. Unlike the first Lego Batman game, this one’s main story is a single narrative. You’ll play as Batman, Robin, Superman and some of the Justice League as you attempt to stop the Joker and Kex Luthor. The levels have a little variety to them, from the standard side-scrolling smashing levels to on rail shooters. Each level also contains its own set of items to find that require at least two visits. The game looks crisper than the first one, with Gotham’s gothic setting well detailed. The music is great, if a little repetitive. It features some recognizable Batman tracks as well as the Superman theme whenever you fly as him. The game is the first in the Lego series to feature voice acting. The voice actors all play their roles well and the kookiness of the non-voice acted games is still here, if dialled down a little. Gameplay can be fun or frustrating. During the levels, the characters control well, with flight easy to master. In the hub world, it’s a different story. Flying is frustrating, with acceleration controlled by the A button and altitude and direction controlled by the right stick. This can be frustrating as your character can accelerate suddenly, making some of the gold bricks frustrating to collect. The game features split screen, which is a great improvement over the first game. Now you and a friend can explore the different areas without the game dropping you out randomly. Glitches are back and in our playthrough we had the game freeze, a level award us an extra minikit (we ended up with 11/10), a random gold brick just popped up with a glitched message and an Achievement unlock without us actually fulfilling the criteria for it. The game is fun, especially when played with a friend. It’s one of the finer entries in the Lego series but the controls just let it down.
PlayStation 4 – 2016
Atlus’ long awaited fifth entry in the Persona series is a wonderful experience. A turn-based JRPG with a compelling story, you step into the shoes on a young student who’s been wrongly accused of a crime. As a result, he’s been sent to live with a coffee shop owner in order to keep him out of trouble. As he begins his new life, he discovers there’s a hidden world built from people’s cognitive desires. Here, he and a group of friends will steal these people’s treasure and stop their distorted desires. Persona 5’s play style is slightly different from other JRPGs. Here, everyday life, such as school, friendship and hobbies are as important as dungeon exploring. In the real world, you’ll interact with several characters, call confidants. Building your bond with these will help you to understand the world but also unlocks cool features that will help you in battle. Taking part in hobbies and school helps to build up your skills and in turn, these will help you to advance confidants, make tools and unlock items. The dungeons are large and involve you making your way to the treasure before sending a calling card. The idea behind the dungeons is that you don’t do it all in one go but instead mix it up with real world activities. As the loading screen says, “take your time”. The combat is turn based but the main protagonist, Joker can persuade the games enemies, called Shadows, to join him. They each come with their own strengths and weaknesses, abilities and stats. These shadows can also be fused together to make even more powerful persona. The game looks amazing, from its in-game presentation to its anime cutscenes, and even its wonderful menu screens. The music is catchy, if a little repetitive. The heist music will get you pumped though. Persona 5 was my first entry in the series and it is a jaw-dropping experience, if a little slow in places. Overall, it’s a fun adventure that leaves you wanting more when it’s over.
Xbox One – 2017
F1 2017, similar to Codemasters’ previous entries, is a visually stunning game, from the details on each car to the track and even the race weekend presentation. TV Presentation is here, with commentators going through the Grid order and podium celebrations after the race. The career mode now features a paddock type hub, similar to how the first entries in Codemasters’ F1 sims. Here, you’ll interact with a laptop to go to the next session, change engine parts, see the championship standings and develop your car. Other characters will approach you to tell you of a new rival, how a new part has progressed or to invite you to a classic car event. It looks fantastic but the only downside is it increases the load times. The car development is much improved over the previous entries. Using a system F1 2016 introduced, you complete objectives over a race weekend and earn resource points. These are then spent to improve your car’s performance or reliability. These accrue slowly as a way to encourage you to remain loyal to a team rather than jumping around. Replacing car parts may incur a penalty, similar to how it would in real life. My issue was I found my car parts to wear very quickly so I ended up investing most of my development into durability to avoid grid penalties. When you start out, you create a character, customise their helmet (some helmets allow you to change individual colours) and pick your car number. Then you can choose any team to start with along with your teammate. The career mode is 10 years long but unfortunately other drivers don’t switch teams. This was an issue with all of the F1 games until recently. Classic events will pop up every now and again but they can’t be skipped. It’s a nice addition to be able to play as old McLarens, Ferraris or Williams but after a while I just wanted to get on with my season. Outside of career mode there’s Championships, which allow you to partake in different championship events such as Classic Championship Season and Sprint Challenge, as well as the Invitational Events you’ll encounter in Career Mode. The game has the usual wealth of options from assists such as Pit Limiter to weather setting but now you can change the time of day and difficulty is a sliding bar so you can find the driver AI just for you. There’re also a few variances on tracks such as Bahrain or the USA. On the track, the cars feel fantastic. With the right set-up, you will be gliding around the track with ease and thanks to the track acclimatization programme in practice, you’ll soon pick up how to manoeuvre around each course. Overall, it’s a great experience, even a few years after its initial release.
Lego Batman: The Videogame
Xbox 360 – 2008
One of TT Games earliest releases in the Lego series sees you take control of the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder as you smash your way through Gotham’s villains. The game is split into two parts, the Hero side where you’ll control Batman and Robin, and the Villain side where you’ll play as the likes of the Riddler, the Penguin and the Joker. Each side has three chapters with five missions in each chapter. The game isn’t long, with 100% competition easy enough to achieve. The game does feature collectibles in the form of Mini-kits, coins and hostages to rescue. Most of the game is played on foot but there are some levels where you’ll fly a plane, drive a car or control a boat. The game features a decent list of characters to unlock but nothing on the scale of the later Lego games. As it’s an early entry, there is no voice acting. Instead, the plot (if you can call it that) is told through the characters’ expressions and set pieces. The game can be played alone or with a friend but most of the achievements are only unlocked for the main player. The game does have some annoying faults. In two-player, there’s no split screen. This often means that the computer will drop a player out if another goes too far ahead. It appears to decide which player to drop randomly as there were times that I was the second player who didn’t progress quick enough but player-one was dropped out instead. In other cases where it doesn’t drop the player out, it drags them across the screen, sometimes into danger. The game does sometimes freeze (during our playthrough it crashed three times) and achievements can be glitchy. One achievement forced us to start a new game to unlock. It also has one of the worst bonus levels in the series to date – Wayne Mansion. It requires you to get 1,000,000 studs but there’s only that exact number in the level and if you miss one, you’ll spend some time trying to find it. It’s a decent entry in the Lego series but feels incredibly dated as a result of how much the series has progressed. It’s fun to play with a friend but you’re probably better off sticking with the newer entries.
PlayStation 3 – 2014
Formula One saw some major changes t the sport in 2014. Turbo-hybrid cars were introduced, gear ratio could no longer be changed from race to race and the final race of the season awarded double points (a ludicrous idea that was rightly dumped after 2014). Some of these changes do have an impact on the game. A combination of the EGO Engine 3.0 and the turbo-hybrid cars has the game sounding fantastic. It also looks great too. Being unable to change gear ratio won’t really impact casual fans of the series but those who like to play on the hardest difficulty may feel it. KERS is no longer controlled by the player but DRS is still in your hands. The double points can make the final race in Career Mode exciting or annoying, depending on how it affects you. As I’ve skipped over F1 2013 (I don’t own it), I can only really compare the game to the previous three I’ve played. I am aware that F1 2013 did have classic cars but none are present in F1 2014. In terms of control, it feels like an improvement on F1 2012 but I still prefer F1 2011’s cornering and acceleration. The game sees the return of several assists to help out but now they have different degrees of impact rather than just being on or off. You can also set parc fermé rules to on or off and have unlimited flashbacks. The AI are improved over F1 2012, making car setup and race craft important even on lower levels. The game no longer has a young driver test. Instead, there’s an evaluation test that is designed to help you pick your difficulty level. Scenario Mode is a tweaking of Champions Mode, where you’ll undertake challenges of varying difficulty. Season Challenge also returns. Career Mode is probably the part I found most disappointing. You can now select a short (7 races), medium (12 races) or full calendar at the start. The menu layout is nearly identical to F1 2012 but you no longer receive a tour of the track if you select it. There are no press interviews, podium celebrations or TV style presentation. These were all absent in F1 2012 also. At the start of your Career Mode you can choose any team. While it may be great for me having played several other beforehand, some of the joy in Career Mode was working your way up from the backmarkers to become the champion rather than diving into a Mercedes or Ferrari. Overall, it’s a strong F1 game from Codemasters but the lack of innovation, especially in Career Mode is a little bit of a let down.
PlayStation 3 – 2012
F1 2012 is the fourth game in Codemasters’ annual F1 series. Similar to its predecessors, it uses the EGO engine. As a result, it looks and sounds very similar to the previous HD entries, with damage and tyre wear graphics and physics being identical to F1 2011. There are some changes, though. The game introduces Young Driver Test, Season Challenge and Champions Mode. Young Driver Test is an introduction to the game, teaching you the ins and outs of acceleration, DRS, KERS and the racing line. The better you perform here, the more teams you can unlock to start your Career with. Season Challenge sees you attempt to win the Driver’s Championship within ten races. Depending on what difficulty you select, you can pick from a range of teams to play as and switch teams during the season. Champions Mode has you take on challenges to beat each of the six Driver’s Champions in the game before racing them all in Austin. These challenges include staying out in the wet with dry tyres while Hamilton hunts you down, catching Schumacher after being forced to pit and catch Vettel while setting the fastest lap. The menus have also seen an overhaul. Gone is the paddock setting from the previous two games. Its replaced with a sliding menu. With the paddock removed, the interviews are absent too. These could be repetitive in previous games but they did add a bit to the Career Mode and would have been great to expand upon. Emails are the main source of communication in Career Mode, where you’ll get track info, team-mate challenge stats and tyre wear info. You’ll also have to select a rival towards the end of the season and beating them again nets you their seat. The biggest let down for me from this over F1 2011 is the car handling. While F1 2011’s felt smooth and exhilarating, F1 2012 feels floaty. The car is easier to spin (not as easy as F1 2010) and when it does happen you simply have to hope you don’t hit a barrier. It’s hard to describe it without experiencing it for yourself. Overall, a great entry in the series but with little graphical upgrades, a lack of interactions in Career Mode and inferior car controls (to me anyway) means its marginally behind its predecessor.
Xbox 360 – 2011
Similar to their previous entry, F1 2011 was released well into the 2011 season. As a result, car and drivers’ performances are similar to their real life counterparts, i.e. HRT will often be glued to the back of the grid while Red Bull Racing will be competing for podium places. The game features the same teams from the 2010 game with the driver line-up receiving a shake-up to reflect the start of the 2011 season. Most of the tracks return but Sakhir and Hockenheim have been replaced by the Nurburgring and New Delhi, with the latter being a new track altogether in Formula One. The Game Modes from F1 2010 return, with Career being the main attraction. Here, you’ll race through five season to become the World Champion. Most options and assists are the same but you can now set the racing line to dynamic, which will help you pick up the course layout quickly. The menus are slightly different. They’re still set in the paddock but they’re a bit more streamlined. In Career Mode, you’ll choose from one of the lower performing teams and have to make your way up the ranks. The game introduces an email system and news headlines. Emails will outline your race objectives, track conditions (including weather) and any contract offers you receive. Once again contract offers are linked to your reputation, which will grow through your race results. Career Mode again features a season objective but will have objectives for each race and these will change depending on how well you perform. TV presentation is similar to F1 2010 but there are cutscenes after Qualifying and the Race, although they’re not podium scenes. Interviews are back but take place in the paddock. Again, you’ll have to pick a rival and beating them will net you an offer from their team. Graphically, the tracks look similar to its predecessor but the cars look better. You’ll also notice marbles on your tyres if you drive on the dirty side of the track, which is a nice little feature. You can bring up a small menu that will tell you when your scheduled pit-stop is and what position you’ll rejoin the race in. The big difference is the driving. The car glides around the track and it feels like you have more control over it. Braking is much more forgiving this time around but you can miss the odd braking point or lock your wheels. The cars are also less likely to spin, especially going over the curbs. In F1 2010, it was very easy to spin out. You can still spin out in 2011, such as driving off the racing line or hitting another car, but it feels more manageable. DRS and KERS have also been introduced. While not as important on the lower difficulty settings, it’s important to get to grips with these on higher settings in order to improve your lap times. Overall, while many of the features are similar to F1 2010, the racing feels better, and that’s where it really counts.
Xbox 360 – 2010
F1 2010 was Codemasters’ second attempt at an F1 sim, following the Wii and PSP F1 2009. It was also the first F1 sim to be released on the Xbox 360. The game came out late in the 2010 season and as a result, the cars and drivers mirror their real life performances in the season. The game comes with one of the largest grids at 24 drivers and has 19 unique tracks to race around. Visually, the game looks stunning, even today. The cars looks fantastic and small details such as car damage and tyre wear are noticeable. The engines sound great and you’ll have a race engineer who will communicate to you throughout the race, relaying important information such as when to pit, how far the car behind or in front of you is and when a rival pits. There is no commentary and the TV style presentation is non-existent. You won’t get a run down of the grid at the start of a race, just the pole sitter, your position and your team-mates. There are also no podium celebrations, instead you’ll have an interview. After a while, the questions begin to repeat themselves. The main menu is more like an interactive paddock where you can choose Online, Time Trials, Grand Prix or Career. Career is where you’ll spend most of the game as it’s designed around it. When you first start the game, you’ll be asked how long of a career you want. This will determine your career objective and what cars are available to choose from. There is no driver tests, just pick a team and away you go. You’ll be able to change some of the settings before a race, from drivers assists, to race length and weekend type. Long weekend has you play the full three Practice sessions, three Qualifying sessions and the Race, while short weekend just has one of each. Driver assists such as ABS, racing line and Pit Limiter are all useful for starting out but avoid Braking Assist, it will hamper your experience. In career mode, you’ll earn reputation, that will help you get offers from bigger teams. After a certain point, you’ll be asked to pick a rival. Beat them and their team will offer you a seat. The reputation points are a good idea but they feel slow to build up, especially if you’re over performing with a poor team. Car setups return and are important in order to achieve good results. There is a large community to help if you’re not too confident in experimenting. As you continue through the season, you will get challenges in Practice to complete that can improve your car or unlock new settings in Car Setup. If you’re the first team driver, you can dictate how much you want to push for improvements. In terms of driving, the cars feel great for the most part. Braking will take a little time to get used to as it’s very easy to either lock your brakes or miss the braking point. The game does have a feature called “Flashbacks” where you can go back a few seconds and try again. You can select up to four “Flashbacks” before the start of the weekend. One major flaw I had was that the game would freeze for a few seconds while driving. This had a huge impact, especially if it happened on a corner. It felt like it occurred every second race. Overall, a great early entry to Codemasters’ F1 journey, even if it was lacking some expected features.
Formula One 06
PlayStation 2 – 2006
Studio Liverpool’s last Formula One entry was released in July 2006. It featured the 11 teams and 22 drivers that started the season, including new teams Toro Rosso, Super Aguri and Midland F1. It features 18 tracks, with Spa-Francorchamps missing from the 05 edition. Playing the three games back to back, it becomes harder to point out differences as you go along. Formula One 06 really does feel like a reskin of Formula One 05 with some very minor tweaks. The car liveries and driver line-ups are updated, as you’d expect. The game features more TV-style presentations, with commentary appearing in game, as well as the option to take part in the parade lap. Pit stops are also more interactive but this is mainly because you have to change tyres this year whereas tyre changes were banned in the 2005 season. Tyre condition does play a bigger role as a result, so it’s important to keep an eye on them. The race engineer is a lot more talkative this time, which is great at first but he never tells you who’s retired, can sometimes forget to tell you when to pit and a lot of information he could relay is done through the commentary, which feels redundant at times (how many laps in succession are they going to tell me the top 8 positions). The menus have received a slight upgrade, looking marginally better than the previous game. The race hud looks a lot better, is neater and displays all the important information you need. The game’s classic cars are unlocked from the start and there is no bonus track like Formula One 05. The same game modes from 05 return. Career mode sees you once again creating a character (you can edit their helmet again) and start out by testing for one of the three new teams. From there, you can move through the grid. One thing that is odd is that bigger teams advertise roles early but you won’t get them as you won’t have enough race experience and since other drivers don’t move, what is the point. Another thing is that better teams will offer you Test Driver positions no matter how far ahead in the standings you are in the first season. It’s an odd complaint but the previous games took into account if you were winning the Championship. This led to a rather odd end of the season where I had a massive lead in the standings, became Renault’s Test Driver before the end of the season, didn’t race the final few races, got let go because my test results weren’t great but still won the Driver’s Championship. In terms of the tests, they’re a lot more involved than the others but not being able to change your tyres when the weather changes is definitely an oversight. In terms of gameplay, it feels slightly better than Formula One 05 but the difference is marginal and can often come down to the car you’re driving. I think it’s the best of the three PlayStation 2 games I played but the differences between 05 and 06 are so small that either one will more than pass the time. In the end, it gets a 4/5 because of the foundation Formula One 05 put in but its lack of innovation does hamper it slightly.