Throwback Thursday: Win One Piece: Burning Blood on PS4 or Vita!

opbbI’ve been knee deep in work the past week-plus, but I’m emerging from behind a comically high pile of paper (OK, my work is on the computer, but stacks of paper seems like a better mental image) to team up with Bandai-Namco for another giveaway! This week, we’re offering you the chance to win One Piece: Burning Blood on PS4 or Vita!

With Halloween almost here, our entry question this week is what was your favorite costume? To enter, simply post your all-time favorite Halloween costume in the comments section below. Please include your platform of choice (PS4 or Vita) as well as your @Twitter handle.

Winners will be selected on Friday, October 28th. All entries must be submitted by 4 PM EST/1 PM PST on Friday. Please note that although anyone can enter you must be following me on Twitter to win.

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PC Review: Clustertruck

Pardon my french, but that's a bad trucking accident.

Pardon my french, but that’s a bad trucking accident.

By: Matthew Striplen

When approaching a new game, I always try not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, Clustertruck‘s name perfectly sums up its contents. With trucks racing around the screen from every angle, ride along in this action-packed adventure to the finish line.


As far as the control scheme is concern, Clustertruck uses standard inputs. WASD controls movement, while the mouse is used to look around the environment. However, all the controls are very touchy, especially the keyboard inputs.

Once the player gets up to speed, things feel a bit better, but the game allows very little time for players to become accustomed to the speed of the game. Lag was also a significant issue with delays up to two seconds.


Clustertruck‘s graphics are simple but effective. Much of the world doesn’t have textures, but it appears to be an aesthetic choice rather than an oversight. In fact, the lack of detail in the environment makes the player focus on gameplay rather than the surroundings.

Unfortunately, the soundtrack is rather forgettable. Light rock pervades throughout but adds little to the overall experience. Aside from some honking trucks, little ambient noise is present, either.

GAMEPLAY (3.5/5)

As you might’ve gathered from the title, Clustertruck is all about trucks, though instead of driving them, players must traverse across their roofs and sides to make it to the finish line, all without ever touching the earth. All trucks are identical, but what makes the game interesting is the trucks’ layout, behavior and environmental obstacles.

The first few levels have neatly aligned rows of trucks that cluster together to make a pathway, but by the end players will have to traverse much more treacherous terrain.

Some levels have very few trucks, so players must make precision jumps to survive. Other times, trucks will alter their speed or direction at unpredictable times, which can cause players to slide off the back of the vehicle. Also, these changes in direction often cause accidents of epic proportions, so be careful not to get thrown.

Each world of Clustertruck has a different theme, ranging from desert to something much more futuristic, and obstacles that come along with these environments change drastically. Colossal pillars of stone crumble when struck by trucks in the desert, causing chaos, while anti-gravity devices fling anything that they come in contact with high up in the air.

After completing each level, you’re rewarded with style points, which can be spent to unlock latent abilities. These abilities are crucial to progress and include skills such as a double jump, an air dash, or spawning a truck directly in front of the player. More points are awarded depending on the player’s performance, so it’s always a good idea to reach the finish line quickly and stylishly.

If you’re feeling creative, Clustertruck offers an extensive level designer. Players can create, test and play anything they can imagine. Spawn trucks at will and create obstacles that require death defying leaps to overcome. Aspiring game designers and sandbox genre fans are sure to enjoy this function.

Unfortunately, Clustertruck is not a perfect game. If you’re running it on anything less than top-of-the-line hardware, technical problems are sure to arise. Plus, control issues make play difficult and undermine the greater themes of the experience. The significant lag coupled with the oversensitive movement controls create a learning curve which is frustrating to navigate.

OVERALL (3.25/5)

Clustertruck, which receives my award for Best Game Title of 2016, is a first-person parkour game centered on trucks. Plenty of variety is sure to keep players interested, but the imperfect controls and other technical problems prevent the game from reaching its true potential.

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PS4 Review: Strike Vector EX

Those little orange diamonds that have the small smudge inside them? Those are actually enemies!

See those little orange diamonds with the small smudge inside them? Those are the enemies!

By: Jeff Cater

Strike Vector EX saw an initial release on PC in 2014 under the same name, minus the EX. Developed and published by Ragequit Corporation, Strike Vector EX puts you in the pilot seat of a wickedly nimble and versatile fighter/mech hybrid called a Vector.

CONTROLS (4.5/5)

Your Vector can shift into two different modes at the pull of the left trigger. When held, your Vector will be speeding through the air like a fighter jet, but once you let it go you shift into turret-like machine that lets you turn around much faster.

While in either mode you can hold the left stick and press square to initiate a missile-dodging evasive maneuver, but each mode also has unique actions as well such as the ability to move laterally with R1 and L1 while in turret mode.

Orientation of your ship and aim is governed by the right stick, which is a little wonky to get used to at first, but after a short while transforming and dodging with the left side of the controller it eventually makes sense and works out quite well. There’s no way to control the roll of your ship though, which is weird considering the crazy stunts you’ll be pulling throughout your playtime.


The Unreal Engine 4 is capable of some incredible things, but Strike Vector EX is a bit reserved visually. That’s not to say that the game is bad looking, it’s just extremely fast-paced, and the details of the environments and ships fit the bill so don’t go in expecting excruciating detail. It also moves gloriously and features some pretty nice chunky explosion and weapon effects.

One issue that’ll get a lot of people is that the color palette makes enemies extremely hard to see; you’ll be fighting orange- and red-colored ships against a gigantic orange and red aerial construct and these Vectors and friggin’ teensy beetsy! The orange indicators highlighting your enemies tends to get lost easily as well, leaving most firefights to the open skylines where a clear outline of your opponent can be seen.

The soundtrack is somewhere between Dimmu Borgir and U2. In all seriousness, the soundtrack is pretty well done but definitely takes a back seat to the visual chaos. Voice work is uninspired but gets the job done — and let’s face it: you probably won’t be spending much time in the campaign.

GAMEPLAY (4.5/5)

Strike Vector EX‘s campaign puts you in the jump-boots of a rookie Vector pilot trying to earn his stripes with the rebel forces after defecting because, well, his job sucked and the personalities of his former faction were extremely dull. Mission structure varies from “shoot down those guys” to “protect those guys, shoot the others,” and honestly feels quite a bit drawn out.

Luckily Strike Vector EX gives you a healthy dose of fun multiplayer options, which is where the real game lies. There are six different modes to choose from, with expected variants of DM and TDM (Battle and Squad Battle) along with Capture the Flag and King of The Hill. The two more unique modes are Bounty Hunter and Demolition; you’ll be killing for cash in the former and the destruction of your enemies’ resources award you victory in the latter.

Sometimes it’s a bit hard to find a full match, but the game will fill any gaps with AI so it’s sometimes hard to notice, especially with everything around you either shooting rockets or straight-up electricity at you. Dodging is a skill you’ll quickly refine with your time in the game, both away from rockets and the landscape itself.

Level design is superb and each stage features some nifty nooks and crannies you can whip your ship through if The Force is strong with you. Finding said areas usually rewards you with pick-ups that either repair your ship or shorten the cooldown of your secondary weapon by a few seconds.

You can also edit your loadout for your Vector mid-match as well, so if you’re having troubles gunning people down with the Gatling gun maybe give the carbine or shotgun a go. Getting shot out of the sky too easily? Maybe switch away from the infra-sensor to the heavy armor!

OVERALL (4.5/5)

Strike Vector EX is an insanely fun and balanced multiplayer title that just happens to have a short, meaningless campaign tacked onto it. That never happens in the gaming industry, right? Either way, it serves up a ton of explosions and barrels of fast-paced shooty action that comes at you from all angles.

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Throwback Thursday: Win Virginia on PS4 or XB1!

virginiaAfter dipping into the PC world last week we’re returning to consoles this week with copies of 505 Games’ Virginia on Xbox One or PlayStation 4!

To enter, simply post your @Twitter handle in the comments section below. Please include your platform of choice (XB1 or PS4) as well.

Winners will be selected on Thursday, October 27th. All entries must be submitted by 4 PM EST/1 PM PST on Thursday. Please note that although anyone can enter you must be following me on Twitter to win.

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PC Review: The Final Station

So much better than Snowpiercer...

So much better than Snowpiercer…

By: Brian Gunn

The Final Station is a side-scrolling hybrid of action, survival, and management set in a desolate world. You’re one of the few train operators left in the world, but can the developers make sure the experience is compelling enough to get players to complete their route?


The Final Station’s gameplay is mostly as a side-scrolling shooter. It is fairly simple mechanically, focusing on your aim more than anything else. Despite 2D games typically handling best on a controller, I ended up switching to keyboard and mouse fairly early on as the aiming is cursor and location-based, which means some very precise shooting is required. There’s also looting, crafting and caring for passengers to do, and they’re all handled rather simply.


Indie side-scrollers with pixel art are a dime a dozen, but The Final Station still manages to impress. While the character art didn’t win me over, some of the environmental work is great, particularly an early moment when the nature of the world is teased for those paying attention.

Despite being somewhat dialogue heavy at times, it’s often the visual storytelling that stands out. And while it is hard for a 2D game to scare people, it has more than a few effective creepy moments.

Sound wise the game goes for what many seem to these days, lots of empty silences so the few dramatic bursts of music or gunshots piercing the air can stand out. This generally works well, and the game’s industrial settings lets the developers use lots of creepy machinery humming and churning to establish an unsettling atmosphere.

There’s no voice acting, which I don’t mind in general, but during the train sections there’s lots of dialogue that’s easily missed as you try to maintain the locomotive.


In the world of The Final Station, civilization has essentially ended. Many years ago something mysterious visited and left behind odd canisters that turned people into what are essentially zombies. But while this catastrophic event has mostly ruined the world, there are still survivors, and someone has to make sure the trains run on time.

That’s where you come in; a hapless engineer stuck ferrying people and cargo, often at the beck and call of the government. And there are rumors a second visitation might not be far off.

The Final Station is a game split into two distinct parts. The first tends to play almost like an adventure game where you’re just exploring towns and talking to people, possibly recruiting them to ride your train. Once on, you have to manage their health and hunger via meager supplies, as well as keep the train running.

There will always be at least one part on the fritz to worry about, and passengers can go hungry or succumb to old wounds if you don’t give them food or medkits, respectively. It’s a simple but often tense system as you hope that drunk in the back can make it to the next stop with no food where you’ll scrounge up some more.

The other half is a sort of survival horror game. Bullets are in short supply, and the same items that heal you are also the ones that passengers might need, so you constantly have to conserve everything.

There’s numerous ways to do this, such as a melee attack that’s more that suitable for solo encounters. Or you can chuck a toilet onto an enemy’s head, which instantly kills most of them, including the more powerful ones. These upgraded enemies will have things like SWAT armor on where you might need to shoot their uncovered legs to kill them, or figure out a way to remove their helmet.

Both halves are on the simple sides, and usually when games try their hands at working aspects that play so differently, it barely works. Somehow, though, they’ve found the right blend. I found myself enjoying the breaks switching between sections gave me, and it turned into a “one more turn” style of addiction that’s rare outside of strategy games.

There’s craft in how simple they’ve made it. Games with survival elements of late have gotten bloated, and with The Final Station they’ve been distilled down to their appealing core.

Still, it’s not without its issues. The protagonist is a set character that doesn’t speak but gets in some lengthy dialogues with others, some of whom respond to things you’re supposed to have said, but the game leaves up to you to infer. That’s a little too opaque for me.

I was also surprised at how linear the game was. Every exploration level wants you to go find an access code that’ll require you to go to the end of the level and return back via an alternate route. There are often very few alternative rooms to explore for goodies, to the point where you’d have to seemingly go out of your way to not find everything in a level.


The Final Station is an atmospheric and interesting genre blend. Give it a chance and you’re likely to be all aboard what it has to offer you.

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