Bullet-time and the control of time in general have become a staples of action video games over the past ten years, and a lot of thanks can go to the sci-fi blockbuster, The Matrix. The art of slowing down time in order to act faster, or respond more precisely, has slipped its way into a number of our favourite games, and with Quantum Break releasing this week and embracing this to the fullest, we’re here to pay homage to these time-bending experiences.
Max Payne series
One of the first games to ever incorporate the element of bullet-time, Max Payne set the stage for beautiful gunplay and slow-motion jumps. Max Payne allowed players to leap into the air, while firing off rounds in glorious bullet-time. Even the older, wiser and fatter Max Payne in the third instalment could pull off his past acrobatic antics; so let’s hope we see some more of Mr. Payne sooner rather than later.
Dead to Rights series
While Dead to Rights may initially come off as a Max Payne imitation, it’s so much more than that. Dead to Rights combined a compelling story and a badass character known as Jack Slate, with some interesting gameplay mechanics, such as the ability to utilize Jack’s dog Shadow, and throw fire hydrants and canisters (in combination with a precise shot) in order to create ultimate chaos. The best part is that it could all be done in beautiful slow-motion.
Quantum Break puts the old time-travel hypothesis to the test: can you change the past? Remedy’s new action game makes time not only a tool, but a weapon for the in-over-his-head protagonist Jack Joyce, and the result is something quite unique and spectacular. After a time-travel experiment goes wrong, Jack is gifted with a range of time powers that allow him to operate as normal when time is frozen. Or to use abilities such as Time Rush (quick dash), Time Dodge (quick dodge), Time Blast (shoot fireball-like projectiles), Time Shield (we’re sure you can guess), and the equally self-explanatory Time Stop.
“Time moves only when you move.” That’s the gist of Superhot, a stylish first-person shooter that started out as a small prototype made for a game jam. One Kickstarter and a year and a half later, Superhot is a dynamically paced and strategic action game that has the concept to match its unique looks, and it’s worth getting in your sights.
Singularity is definitely one of the most interesting and entertaining shooters of 2010. It may initially appear familiar to those who’ve played Bioshock and Half-Life, but Singularity creates a unique personality for itself with a phenomenal story, intriguing level design and time-manipulating mechanics.
The game involves a TMD (Time Manipulation Device), which allows players to travel through time and fix the course of history by rewinding, fast-forwarding objects in the environment. It may sound awfully confusing, but the time-travelling antics and action vs. consequence theme of the game are it’s high points with the entire experience delivering a compelling and intriguing narrative.
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
While most consider the Prince of Persia series to be more of an action game, the franchise has always had tricky platforming at its core, and the Sands of Time reboot injected some time-manipulation abilities that elevated the game to new heights.
The Forgotten Sands raised the wall-running bar once again, as players found themselves jumping and climbing in a whole new array of ways thanks to new powers, which allowed you to freeze water, swing your way across ledges, and teleport your way across strange static birds and large gaps. While the Forgotten Sands was neglected pretty quickly, it’s still one of the most attention-demanding and challenging platformers out there.
Nothing requires more precision than free-running, and in Mirror’s Edge, it was with the help of a slow-down function that kept the female lead, Faith, from plummeting to her death. With a touch of a button, players could activate ‘reaction time’, which drastically slowed down the incredible pace of the game, in order to make more calculated jumps and time stylish weapon disarms.
The grandfather of first-person shooters returned in 2009, along with series hero, BJ Blazkowics. However, this war veteran brought some new gameplay elements in to the mix. By utilising a paranormal power known as the Veil, players could enter into another dimension. But the best part was that players could slow down time in order to fill some Super Nazi freaks with much needed lead. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
While many games featured elements of bullet-time and slow-down mechanics, TimeShift based its entire gameplay on the concept. While the game didn’t break any records, it gave players the opportunity to slow-down, freeze and even rewind time. This had to be mastered in order to solve puzzles and kill enemies. Some enemies even move so fast, you have to slow down time just to see them. Time can also be completely stopped, allowing you to waltz over and snatch an enemy’s gun right out of their hands. That alone is worth your time.
Notable Mentions: Braid, Stranglehold, Sniper Elite series, FEAR, Need for Speed series, Total Overdose, Metal Gear series, Midnight Club series, Call of Duty breaching (yawn), True Crime series, Sleeping Dogs, Batman, Assassin’s Creed 2, Fight Night
We’ve just touched on some of the games that have taken full advantage of bullet-time and the time altering facets of gaming. What games have you played that challenged time itself?
5 Hottest Games of July 2022
Check out the most-anticipated video game releases of July 2022!
July is an interesting month of gaming, as there aren’t any massive franchise sequels on the cards. However, there are a wealth of interesting, long-in-development releases that are finally seeing the light of day. We’ve rounded up the most-anticipated games of July that we can’t wait to get our hands on:
Release date: 1 July 2022 (Xbox Series X/S | Xbox One | PS4 | PS5 | PC)
F1 fans will be getting their annual dose of Codemasters’ brilliant series this July, as F1 22 launches with some new features and gameplay tweaks. The game features new car models with updated physics, along with improved adaptive AI to adjust according to your performance to keep races interesting. To match the track configurations on the calendar, the game updated their layouts, including Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Yas Marina Circuit and Albert Park Circuit, as well as adding the Miami International Autodrome for the calendar newcomer, the Miami Grand Prix.
Matchpoint – Tennis Championships
Release date: 7 July 2022 (Xbox Series X/S | Xbox One | PS4 | PS5 | Switch | PC)
Those craving some tennis action will be glad to know that Australian developer Torus Games’ Matchpoint is arriving this July. The game prides itself on being a simulation rather than an arcade recreation of tennis, and an extensive career mode and a unique rivalry system to keep players on their toes.
Release date: 14 July 2022 (PC)
Loopmancer is a 3D platformer roguelite side-scrolling action game with some serious style and visual flair that takes place in a cyberpunk universe. You play as a detective who comes back to life after an unexpected death, who has to master his bionic prosthetic and take on some ultra-dangerous enemies with some slick combat.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series
Release date: 8 July 2022 (Xbox Series X/S | Xbox One | PS4 | PS5 | Switch | PC)
Anyone familiar with early Playstation platformers will no doubt recognise (or have played) the Klonoa games. Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a compilation featuring remastered versions of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. While Door to Phantomile was originally released on the Playstation in 1997 and Lunatea’s Veil on PS2 in 2001. The 2.5D games have been remastered with improved visuals and sound, and while the gameplay of each title remains intact, new features have been added such as selectable difficulty levels, a two-player cooperative mode, and a “stopwatch” mode in addition to a higher resolution and framerate compared to the original releases.
Release date: 19 July 2022 (PS4 | PS5 | PC)
If you’ve ever wanted to be a cat, well, Stray lets you do that. The game is a third-person adventure game that focuses on atmosphere, exploration, and art. You control a stray cat searching for its family in a world populated by robots. There’s some light puzzle-solving and platforming, along with some evasive combat encounters. Thankfully, you’re accompanied by a drone companion named B12, who can assist by translating the language of the robots and storing items found throughout the world.
5 Best Gaming Deals in SA this Weekend
Check out the best specials on games and consoles.
Whether you’re looking to pick up a decent console deal or hungry for the next game to add to your library, we’ve rounded up some of the best deals on offer from local online and physical retailers:
Xbox Series S console (NexusHub) – R6,299
If you’ve been holding off on pulling the trigger on a current-gen system, NexusHub has a special running on the Xbox Series S console, knocking off a bit on the price-tag to make it quite the tempting deal this month.
Lost Judgment (Loot) – R549 | Xbox Series X
There aren’t many games that can take you from meticulously investigating a crime-scene to a dance competition, but not before indulging in a street brawl with some thugs right after gambling at a curbside casino. Much like its Yakuza step-brother games, Lost Judgment is a smorgasbord of genres and styles, but with an overarching detective-adventure theme that makes it one of the most interesting games in 2021 that should not be overlooked. You can check out our full Lost Judgment review here too.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts (Loot) – R276
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts pulls back on the ambitious open-world of previous entries to offer a more streamlined sniping experience – and it’s for the better. Enjoyable traversal, challenging environments, and some satisfying shooting makes it a worthwhile experience, especially considering the budget price-tag. Check out our Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts review here.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (Playstation Store) – 107.80 | PS4
Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of, if not the, best entry in the Tomb Raider series ever. The sequel expands upon 2013’s reboot, and introduces crafting and survival techniques to take the experience to new heights, and the ever-evolving story of a young and ambitious Lara Croft is impossible to not be caught up in. The 20 Year Celebration edition on PS4 also features two previously-unreleased segments, Blood Ties, which takes place in Croft Manor, and Lara’s Nightmare, a zombie mode of sorts, which throws you into an onslaught of creatures as you try and survive. It’s a great game to play before jumping into the third and final game of the trilogy, Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Darksiders: Fury’s Collection – War & Death (Playstation Store) – R107.85 | PS4
Despite the confusing name, this Darksiders bundle doesn’t come with Fury’s story of Darksiders III, which is amazing and worth a play), but what it does come with is Darksiders: Warmastered Edition and Darksiders II, so you get to enjoy two of the best action-adventure games around for a considerable discount.
*Prices correct at time of publication.
The Quarry Review — A Killer Summercamp
Does Supermassive Games’ latest horror-adventure deliver the frights?
If you’re a fan of slasher flicks, teen horror movies, and 80s and 90s horror icons, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything more suitable and fitting than Supermassive Games’ The Quarry in your gaming library, delivering all the gore, screams, and sinister villains that go with the genre, while throwing you into the mix as you participate in how the whole ordeal plays out.
For those who may not know, The Quarry is the spiritual successor of sorts to Until Dawn, Supermassive Games’ playable horror-movie, which lets you partake in a Cabin in the Woods-esque scenario, making life or death choices, exploring, and even directing how dialogue plays out. The Quarry follows the same set-up, but has added in a whole lot more ‘game’ into the experience, allowing you to do all the above, along with some guided shooting, running, and other flight-or-fight moments. Of course, these games are all about the story and the repercussions of your decisions, and in that regard, it thrives.
The story itself follows nine young camp counselors who must survive a night at Hackett’s Quarry in Upstate New York while being hunted by bloodthirsty locals and a creature much more sinister. There’s the usual roster of naive teens, helpful law enforcement, and suspicious locals, and while it hits many of the beats fans of the genre will know, it does a great job to flip some expectations, along with the fact that the game can play out in a lot of different ways.
186 endings, to be exact. No, that’s not a typo: one-hundred-and-eighty-six. Every choice you make, characters you manage to keep alive, and the dialogue decisions you make will steer the outcome of the game, which provides a lot of replayability. Of course, with over 180 endings available, these can range from drastic changes, such as characters being alive or dead, to slight permutations, such as an additional line of dialogue or item change. Seeing the same scene with and without one of the main characters (who kicked the bucket early in one of our playthroughs) was great to experience though, and showed how certain scenes will play out different with or without certain characters.
The Quarry is essentially The Avengers of horror history’s who’s-who
Supermassive Games’ love for horror classics is clearly present throughout all their games, but The Quarry pays homage to the best of the best, with the cast featuring a host of well-known actors celebrated for their roles in horror movies. Not only do you get David Arquette (Scream), Grace Zabriskie Child’s Play, The Grudge) and Lin Shaye from The Conjuring franchise, but Lance Henriksen (Alien vs Predator, Aliens) and Ted Raimi (The Evil Dead) also play notable roles. The voice work is great, and the improvement in motion capture technology in recent years really allows each actors’ input to be showcased.
Misery loves company
While The Quarry doesn’t have any traditional multiplayer per se, the fact that Supermassive Games even included a cooperative experience is a huge plus. In the game’s couch co-op mode, you and up to seven friends can experience the horror together. Each player is assigned to play as one or more counselors, with one controller passed around the group each time a different counselor becomes the current playable character. Whether you decide to work together or suddenly swerve the story in a new direction is up to you. It’s an incredibly fun addition that turns a solo horror experience into a hilarious game of ‘let’s see who can keep their character alive the longest’, which makes for a fantastic evening with friends.
While Supermassive Games has been slowly improving and enhancing their own little niche in the gaming world: the narrative-story-driven horror genre, The Quarry is the best of the bunch and the perfect nod to the teen-slasher/supernatural horror milieu of yesteryear. The larger cast, gorgeous visuals, scarier setting, and slightly tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of the game sets it up to be another classic.
The Quarry is available on Xbox Series X, PS5, Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
5 Most-Anticipated Horror Games to Look Forward To
Prepare for frights and fights, as we check out the most anticipated horror games on the horizon.
Horror fans are in for a treat in 2022 and 2023 thanks to a number of big-name and smaller scare-’em-up games on the horizon. We’ve rounded up 5 of the most-anticipated horror titles that we can’t wait to get our hands on:
Dead Space Remake
Release date: 27 January 2023 (Xbox Series X/S | PS5 | PC)
2008’s sci-fi horror survival Dead Space will be getting a full built-from-the-ground-up remake in 2023, but with the remake remaining true to the core foundation and spirit of the game. The game will use the Frostbite Engine (made famous by the Battlefield series), which has allowed the developers to expand and improve on the level design, combat mechanics, and story. The developers added that their true vision for the game can finally be realised thanks to the advancements in technology, with ray-tracing, atmospheric lighting, and 3D audio implemented; so we’re excited for this one.
The Callisto Protocol
Release date: 2 December 2022 (Xbox Series X/S | PS5 | Xbox One | PS4 | PC)
While the Dead Space remake is on its way, gamers will get another sci-fi horror adventure with The Callisto Protocol, which is actually being developed by Striking Distance Studios, founded by Glen Schofield, who had previously co-created the Dead Space series. The third-person narrative-driven horror is set in 2320 on one of Jupiter’s moons, Callisto. The game revolves around horrific creatures and a conspiracy unfolding on Callisto’s dingy and dangerous Black Iron Prison. Dismemberment and environmental hazards also play a role here, which should make for an interesting (and terrifying) experience.
Resident Evil 4 Remake
Release date: 24 March 2023 (PS5 | Xbox Series X/S | PC)
Much like the Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 remakes which were released in 2019 and 2020 respectively, Resident Evil 4 will be a full, built-from-the-ground-up reimagining of the 2005 classic. The game won’t detour too far from the original, but will include new story elements, slicker combat, and will run on the RE Engine which has powered the past remakes, as well as Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil: Village.
Daymare 1994 Sandcastle
Release date: TBC 2022 (Xbox Series X/S | PS5 | Xbox One | PS4 | Switch | PC)
Daymare 1994 Sandcastle is the sequel to 2017’s underrated love-letter to classic Resident Evil games, Daymare 1998. The third-person survival horror follow-up puts you into the shoes of agent Dalila Reyes, a former government spy now in the service of H.A.D.E.S. unit, who has to investigate a secret facility full of some monstrous secrets. The game uses classic survival horror combat, but mixes it up with an elemental freezing gadget to stop enemies in their tracks and solve puzzles.
Release date: 21 October 2022 (Xbox Series X/S | PS5 | PC)
Scorn is a bizarre, but intriguing-looking game, that is essentially the first-person fever-dream of H.R. Giger. Developed by Serbian studio Ebb Software, the title takes a slower, more atmospheric approach to first-person horror, throwing players into a nightmarish universe of odd mechanical forms meshed with flesh and human parts. The game requires players to explore, solve puzzles, and fight grotesque creatures, but one of the most interesting aspects is the weaponry, which includes organic/mechanic shotguns, pistols, and other firearms, which are almost living things themselves.
Sniper Elite 5 Review — Shot Through the Heart
We review Rebellion’s fifth primary entry into the beloved Sniper Elite series.
The much-loved, Nazi testicle-destroying franchise is back, as Sniper Elite 5 delivers another sharpshooting adventure for players to indulge in; but is the face-shooting formula beginning to wear thin, or is this under-the-radar series finally making itself known?
The enjoyable nature of the Sniper Elite games has always been down to its simple premise. Much like a WWII Hitman, you’re dropped into a sandbox environment and tasked with taking out a VIP, planting some bombs, stealing documents, or a variety of other primary and secondary tasks. You’re free to go about doing these in any order and how you see fit, and that freedom of choice is where the game shines.
You once again take control of series hero Karl Fairburne as you set out to stop Project Kraken — some sneaky plan those pesky Nazis have cooked up. Each location you visit, which are all spectacular and range from a Nazi-occupied castle to a quaint farmhouse, delivers its own challenges and edges you closer and closer to finding out what Kraken is, and how to stop it. They’re all excellently designed, have numerous paths and ways to take out your targets, and make exploring and getting lost a joy rather than a chore. Instead of going through the front door, you could wander around the surrounding beach and find an under-construction wine cellar entrance that gives you access to the target’s office or bedroom. These moments make exploration feel satisfying and worthwhile.
And as for the overarching mission, instead of the ‘destroy this because it’s bad’, you get a bit of a mystery around what Project Kraken is that evolves as the game progresses. This, along with the developers adding more of a story-element to the campaign, gives some background to the behind-closed-doors moments of what the baddies are up to, talking about ole Fairburne like he’s a real thorn in the side of the Nazis, which does make you feel that much more of badass.
Of course, the shooting is what Sniper Elite is all about, and that is as polished and enjoyable as ever. The sniping mechanics of finding the enemy’s distance, adjusting for wind and bullet-drop, and getting your timing right while holding your breath is always satisfying. The series’ famed X-ray death cams have been enhanced too, giving you more detail and some improved ragdoll physics when enemies are popped-off, but the most improved area of gameplay must be when using other weapons, which always felt like an afterthought in past releases.
This time around, machine guns, silenced pistols, and even pulling off violent melee moves (with the accompanying gory x-ray vision) feels slick and in line with the other elements of the game. The real benefit of this is that it makes going in loud or taking other options to sitting back and sniping feel like viable (and enjoyable) alternatives.
Enemies are also a bit sneakier, and seem to be able to spot you from much further away, while also coordinating to rush you when spotted. Those virtual Nazis have definitely had a boost in their AI, so you’ll need to be sharp when picking them off one by one.
No shot-in-the-dark World War II mission is perfect, though, and Sniper Elite 5 does have some awkward invisible walls and the odd choppy animation, but nothing that breaks the experience. Thankfully, everything that was great about the series has been beefed-up, with replayability at an all-time high thanks to the bigger and denser levels. Fans will love it, and it’s a great (albeit challenging) jumping-on point for newcomers.
Sniper Elite 5 is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, and PC; and it’s also included on Xbox GamePass, so it’s a no-brainer to play it if you’re a member.