LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin Review

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It is almost a daily ritual on the walk home from school. “I’m Kai and you’re Lloyd” my son will call out before running ahead to swing his imaginary sword into imaginary Serpentine warriors, often falling over in his attempt to take down the imaginary Overlord. Ninjago, the LEGO figures and TV shows about elemental ninjas is a family favourite in the Davies household. LEGO Ninjago Nindroids was the reason that my son asked for a PSVita and even with the games inherent flaws, he loved it. Now, the follow up, LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin, has arrived and not only is it the best Ninjago game to date, it is one of the best portable LEGO games too. Our Review;

Shadow of Ronin features a new, original storyline set between the events of the 4th and 5th series of the Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu TV show. The game starts with Jay, Zane, Kai and Cole reminiscing about the events of the island tournament when a new villain, Ronin, attacks their dojo. The Ninjago warriors do their best to repel this new foe but Ronin uses an Obsidian weapon to steal their memories and with them, their elemental powers. With the Ninjago team out of action, Ronin sets out to resurrect one of the famous big bad’s from the TV show, using the Nindroids, Serpentine and the Dark Samurai to crush anyone in his way. In order to stop him, the Ninjago team have to set out on a quest to find and recover their own Obsidian weapons to regain their memories & powers.

If the above paragraph reads like an ancient long-forgotten dialect to you, Shadow of Ronin may not be the game for you. The game is full of fan service but it fails to explain any of the series’ stalwart features to newcomers. Not knowing the difference between the Titanium Ninja and the Green Ninja means you will likely be pulling an occasional bemused face at Shadow of Ronin’s more obscure references but it only takes a basic knowledge of Ninjago to get the most out of this game.

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Shadow of Ronin resembles a feature length episode of the TV show with the vast majority of the plot played out in cut-scenes at the beginning and end of the levels and through the chatter between the characters. The linear levels have simple objectives that are little more than to get to an end point by solving basic puzzles, jumping over dangers and beating down on enemies. Added to the mix are driving and flying levels – sliding down an erupting volcano and piloting a dragon through an elemental vortex prime which on rails but offer a variety from the usual platforming. Then, of course, Samurai X makes an appearance for her obligatory mech-stomping mission which no Ninjago game would be complete without.

All of the trademark LEGO game aspects make a return in Shadow of Ronin. The obligatory Red Bricks are here but a change from tradition means that they are now found within the games levels rather than a HUD. Speaking of the HUD, unlike most LEGO games that have an area that you run around with your Mini-fig, this game replaces that with a flying level where you control a LEGO Dragon. Yes, that is as cool as it sounds. As was the case in LEGO Ninjago: Nindroids, the Gold Bricks in Shadow of Ronin are unlocked by completing challenges. These range from finishing a level within a set time limit to defeating a number of enemies with a specific character. None of these are particularly taxing but do offer added replay value for those perfectionists out there. Lastly, those dastardly Mini-kits are littered around each level which build little LEGO kits at the end of the level. Collecting all of this booty will mean replaying the vast majority of the games levels on the “Free Play” mode where you can choose from any of the characters you have unlocked in order to use their unique abilities.

Shadow of Ronin combines some of the best aspects of other LEGO games into its portable adventure. The Master Builder ability from the LEGO Movie Game has been retooled into the Tornado of Creation. A simplified version of the set building mechanic from LEGO Hobbit is included which tests you to choose the right pieces in order to create something. Wall running makes the horizontal sprint from LEGO Chima into LEGO Ninajgo. The feature list is impressive and rivals that of the games home console brothers and sisters like LEGO Batman and LEGO Star Wars.

Props have to be handed to TT Fusion for making what I consider to be the most accessible LEGO game to date. In almost every other LEGO game, wordy hints have floated along the bottom of the screen when ever the game deemed them necessary. In Shadow of Ronin, there are Gongs which can be hit which bring up simple hints when ever a player feels they need a hand. This means that my Son, who has always asked for my assistance with LEGO games in the past, can figure things out at his own pace. The persistent button prompts and simplistic level design really help make this an enjoyable experience without the younger gamers getting too frustrated.

Being about Ninjas, Shadow of Ronin places a heavy emphasis on combat and this really pays off. The combat has been completely overhauled since Nindroids and features the most fluid, enjoyable combat of any LEGO game to date. Beating the studs out of wave after wave of approaching enemies is actually quite exhilarating, switching between the Ninjago warriors each of which have a different weapon and fighting style. Then there is the Spinjitzu move which sweeps all of the surrounding enemies up into a tornado and tosses them around the screen. Hold down Square on the PSVita and you can unleash this power on the villains.

The biggest and most disappointing issue with Shadow of Ronin is its length. The game has 15 levels which each last between 7 (Me) and 15 (My son) minutes on a “Story Mode” play through. While this length is perfectly suited for a portable game built for short, sharp blasts of game play on the bus or train, for a LEGO game this feels drastically short. Even unlocking everything the game has to offer in terms of locked characters, mini-kits et al only adds several hours to the games replayability.

Of course, my opinion is of little importance as I am about 20 years outside of the target demographic for LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin so here is what my son has to say about the game, verbatim;

Shadow of Ronin is the besterest. It’s better than the Nindroids game. You get to play as Lloyd more this time and he is *punches the air and doesn’t finish sentence*. I like this game because it is funny. Jay makes me laugh. And Cole does as well. With Cole you can smash the ground and Kai can run through fires and Zane can freeze the baddies. I got stuck a few times ‘cus I didn’t know what to do but then I found out and *mumbles* made a snow man and went though some doors with clocks on ’em. I was in one of the Ninja cars and then was on a dragon shooting my fire at the baddies. It’s good.

When I asked him to give a review score out of 10 to the game, he had this to say;

10 out of 10. No. 11 out of 10. One HUNDRED *stretches out arms and does jazz hands* out of 10.

So I think it is safe to say that LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin is a hit with my kids.

LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin is available now on the PSVita (Version reviewed) and the Nintendo 3DS. In order to complete this review, we were provided with a copy of the game by the publishers.

Developers: TT Fusion
Publishers: Warner Brothers

Bad News Batman Arkham Knight has been delayed. New Gameplay trailer softens the blow

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Well well well. Another AAA game that everyone is getting excited for, but then suffers from a delay. The game in question is Batman: Arkham Knight.

Originally, Arkham Knight was scheduled to drop on June 2nd, But now it’s been pushed back, thankfully by just a few weeks. The new released date has been pencilled in for 23rd June.

This is what Rocksteady said in a statement

“We’re a developer that hates to make any compromises, so we are sorry to say this means it’s going to be just a little bit longer until you can play the epic conclusion to the Arkham trilogy,” he said.

“As a reward for your patience and understanding, and to make the wait even more unbearable, we are pleased to whet your appetite with a new gameplay video of Batman: Arkham Knight.

“Thanks so much from everyone at Rocksteady for your continued support. We are working as hard as we can to make you proud.”

The good news is that the new trailer is seven minutes long and features gameplay captured directly from  a PS4, and as you would expect, it’s looking pretty darn sexual. Check it out below and keep your fingers crossed there will be no more delays.

New Mortal Kombat X trailer details “Faction Wars”

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NetherRealm Studios have been hyping up Mortal Kombat X for the past few weeks, drip feeding us new fighters (Ermac!) and a glut of gory fatalities. While we have seen quite a lot of the brutal game play of Mortal Kombat X, we have not seen anything of the features that the game will include – until now.

This new trailer goes into great detail about the new Faction Wars feature which will be a pivotal part of Mortal Kombat X’s online Kombat;

The new Faction Wars feature will let you choose between some teams that will be very familiar to fans of the Mortal Kombat series (The Black Dragon, Lin Kuei, While Lotus, Special Forces and The Brotherhood of Shadow) which you will fight on behalf of. Wins and losses will then be added to a global leader board and a winning faction will be crowned across day and week periods.

Source: PR

First LEGO Jurassic World trailer roars in, Game will include Jurassic Park movies

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Warner Brothers and TT Games have released the first LEGO Jurassic World teaser trailer and all our dreams have come true. It’s Jaw Dropping.

While we do not know if Jurassic World the movie will turn out to be an entertaining attraction or an unmitigated disaster, this first LEGO Jurassic World teaser trailers comes with a blurb which confirms what we all hoped – the game will cover the Jurassic Park movies as well as the Jurassic World film and… get ready for it… WE GET TO PLAY AS DINOSAURS! Part of the game will involve roaming Isla Nublar as our reptilian predecessors, collecting chunks of Amber which will unlock the ability to create customised species of dinosaurs.

LEGO Jurassic World is coming to the PS3 and PS4 (and almost every other console known to man) to coincide with the release of the movie in June, 2015.

Tom Stone, Managing Director of TT Games said;

“Imagine playing as the ominous LEGO T. rex, roaming the grounds of Isla Nublar, smashing LEGO bricks and battling with other dinosaurs – this game is bound to bring out the kid in all of us.”

Stick with PSGamer and we will bring you all of the news on LEGO Jurassic Park with “no expense spared”.

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Win Dying Light with PSGamer

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How would you like to win a copy of Techlands latest zombie survival game, Dying Light?

We have an EU PS4 code up for grabs and all you have to do is answer this simple question:

“What is your zombie apocalypse survival plan?”

Just pop your answer into the box below along with your name and email address (we won’t subscribe you to Cat Pictures Weekly, we promise) and follow PSGamer on Twitter or Facebook (we have added handy fobs at the bottom of this post to make this easy for you). Make sure to listen or download PSGamecast Episode 3 when we will be reading out some of the best entries and announcing the winner.

[contact-form-7 id=”5267″ title=”Dying Light”]

T&C’s

  • All entries must be submitted before 12:00 on the 1st of February. Late entries will not be considered.
  • Please ensure your email address is correct so that we can contact you should you win.
  • For full T&C’s click here.

Dying Light gets last minute delay

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We were only days away from the release of Dying Light but if you were hoping to see physical copies of the game lining the shelves on the 27th of January, you are out of luck.

Techland have delayed the release of the physical copies of Dying Light and have released this statement;

There will be a short delay in the release of physical copies of Dying Light in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia. The game will have a global digital release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC of January 27, 2015. As physical production has a longer lead time than digital there is some delay in the aforementioned territories. We will share information on the availability of physical copies as soon as it is confirmed.

This delay does not effect the digital version of Dying Light which will still be releasing on the 27th of January for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.

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Kitana, Kung Lao & More have fisty cuffs in latest Mortal Kombat X gameplay trailer

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A new gameplay trailer has just landed showing giving us a violent look at Kitana, and Kung Lao, the dude with the awesome frisbee hat from previous games. Not only that there is a sneak peek at the multiple limbed Goro, who’s always ready to pound your face in. However Goro is only available to those that pre-order Mortal Kombat X.  Take a look at the new trailer below.

Mortal Kombat X launches on April 14 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.

 

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Review ~ In Space, no one can hear you fight crime

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LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham combines the best aspects of every other LEGO game with remarkable fan service to create the best game in the series to date. Our Review;

Starting up LEGO Batman 3 for the first time is like sitting down to have a drink with an old friend that you have not seen for months. The warm, fuzzy feeling of familiarity combined with a plethora of in-jokes and fan service are almost guaranteed to have you smiling and involuntarily laughing out loud.

This threequel is set after the events of LEGO Batman 2 (although no knowledge of the events of the previous games are needed to pick up and play). The Joker, Lex Luthor, Cheetah, Solomon Grundy, Killer Croc and Firefly have teamed up and are up to their old, nefarious tricks by attempting to take over the The Watchtower, the home of the Justice League. The villains manage to defeat Martian Manhunter and take control of the space station, calling the attention of Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Batman and Robin. Just as the battle between these 2 groups comes to a head on the Watchtower, another villain enters the fray – Brainiac. Using the power of the Lantern Corps Power Ring bearers who he has captured using mind control, Brainiac is attempting to “collect” Earth by shrinking it down to the size of a marble. It dawns on all of heroes and villains aboard the Watchtower that they must work together in order to stop Brainiac before their planet is stolen from them.

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The plot takes some hilarious twists and turns from here on out, blending the trademark LEGO humour with some team ups that only dreams are made of. For a part of the game, the heroes and villains are effected by the Power Rings meaning they are filled with Hope, Greed, Fear, Anger or Love. A hope filled Solomon Grundy and a fearful Cyborg are particular highlights alongside The Joker and Lex Luthor fawning over their arch nemesis’. Batman dressed as Joker and vice versa. An almost constant bombardment of puns, wise cracks and one liners from The Joker and The Flash. The back and forth banter between Batman and Robin. The occasional “Nanananananananaaa Cyborg!”. LEGO Batman 3 is genuinely funny. I haven’t laughed at a game this much since Borderlands 2. It’s LEGO style silly with plenty of wit and some quite intelligent gags thrown in for good measure.

If you have ever played any of the LEGO games then you will already know the core game play experience here. For those new to the series, LEGO Batman 3 is a third person action adventure cross platformer with light puzzle elements. Broken down into its component parts, you walk into an area, defeat some enemies, solve a puzzle by smashing up the right things, building something, using the right gadget or outfit or by pressing some buttons and walk into the next area to do the same things over again. Almost every LEGO game brings something new to the game play and LEGO Batman 3 is no different, introducing a Resogun-esque shmup section. The game also borrows the best mechanics from the other LEGO Games that fit perfectly. Fast moving characters like Superman and The Flash can use the Master Build option from The LEGO Movie Game. Wonder Woman can deflect energy using her bracelets much like Captain America could in LEGO Marvel. The clearer, circular under-character indicator which shows which character you are controlling makes the jump from LEGO The Hobbit. The varying costumes also make a return from LEGO Batman 2 only it has been greatly expanded with new suit options, like the Giant Suit, being available for a wider variety of characters. In LEGO Batman 3, even The Joker and Cyborg get a plethora of different suits and abilities to use…

For me, that is the best aspect of LEGO Batman 3 – the incredible level of fan service on offer. TT Games have taken this game to the next level. They have done a masterful job on bringing more than 150 of DC’s stable of heroes and villains (including some cameos from the likes of Conan O’Brien) to life in their own unique way – and it’s not just the major players here. Firefly, a small time villain compared to some of the others in this game, gets great screen time. Plastic Man has his own power spots hidden throughout the game. Cyborg and The Green Lantern threaten to steal the show on numerous occasions. It would have been easy for TT Games to produce another Batman-centric adventure with the other mainstay DC characters dropping in for a visit but instead, they have delved into the comic books and breathed LEGO life into a varied mix of characters from the big names to the smaller fan favourites and have done it in style. The 1970’s Wonder Woman theme tune that plays every time the heroine takes flight. Adam West appearing in every level as the “…in peril” character. The subtle nods to other DC characters and locations littered through each level. The integration of the soundtrack from the Michael Keaton Batman films from the 80’s and 90’s. It’s a DC comic fans dream.

As for content, LEGO Batman 3 has 15 reasonably long levels as well as several hubs including The Watchtower and Gotham City. While the hub areas may not be as large as those in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, there is still plenty to do and the level length and variety are more impressive than any other LEGO Game to date. Of course, the obligatory Red Bricks, Golden Bricks and Character tokens will keep you coming back for more in Free Play too.

Visually, on the PS4 at least, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is sharp, shiny and highly detailed. Running at a smooth 1080p and 60 frames per second, the game did not once have any visual issues during my time with the it.

Like every other LEGO game, which has all of those moving parts, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham does have its issues. There are those awkward spots where your character can get stuck between sliding and standing. During one boss battle (no spoilers), my LEGO minifig got trapped behind a railing which sent the camera into meltdown. These technical issues are not game breaking and are rare but it is still a tad annoying to get stuck in the games scenery.

With the sheer number of LEGO Games that have been released over the past 12 months (The Hobbit, Ninjago, Marvel, Chima, Friends, LEGO Movie), you would expect this series to be losing its sheen – but LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham proves that this tried and tested game play formula can still feel fresh with a little innovation. I opened this review by comparing LEGO Batman 3 to meeting up with an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while and that is exactly what this game is. It’s an old friend that you instantly feel at home with but because you have not seen them in a while, you have plenty of new things to talk about. If you have a love for DC comics, LEGO or both of these things, LEGO Batman 3 will please the big and small kids alike.

Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Brothers

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is available now on the PS4 (version reviewed), PS3, PSVita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS, Mac, 3DS & Wii U.

Disclosure: In order to complete this review, a copy of LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham was provided by the publishers.

Find out how LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham fares against the other games we have reviewed by visiting the PSGamer Review Leader Board.