8.5
Our overall verdict "silver"

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Becoming Michael Eavis

Have you ever been to a music festival and thought ‘I could do better?’ Maybe you have already picked your ideal line-up, chosen the perfect food stalls or decided to have some lavish lavatories instead of some poo-filled portaloos that would have Trainspotting’s Renton thinking twice about using. Well you’re in luck because On The Metal and Sony Xdevs have released their headline act BigFest on the PS Vita with very little announcement, kind of like a secret gig. So grab your tent, wellies and raincoat because we’re heading to some soon-to-be muddy fields. Get ready to rock and roll all night and party every day.

BigFest is a management game similar in parts to the mid 1990’s games Theme Hospital and Theme Park. In BigFest, however, you are running your very own festival with the help of mentor and Chief Roadie BigDave. From your humble beginnings it’s up to you to create your own festival however you see fit. Fancy playing rock music and only serving hot chocolate? Or how about selling vampire merchandise and energy drinks at an Easy Listening festival? The choice is yours.

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Of course to run a festival you need loads of moolah and BigFest is no different. BigNotes are the game’s currency and to earn them you must look at the needs of the crowd and build stalls accordingly. At the same time if you want to attract larger audiences and bigger bands you’ll need to think about upgrading your stage, security, sewerage system and generators as well as providing enough tents and utilities. Then you have to make sure you are providing a decent level of housekeeping and make sure everything is in working order. Who knew running a festival needed so much attention! Lucky for us BigDave is always on hand to show you a few tricks of the trade like turning the amps up to 11 or walking around the site fixing things. Thank god none of that involves him bending over and showing his arse!

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A key part of BigFest is keeping the bands happy. Sometimes the bands have strange requests or they need a roadie to help with the unloading of their equipment (either the band is lazy or the singer has a glass back). If you help them out and cater to their needs you will keep them sweet but may run the risk of them going onstage late, angering the crowds. Likewise if you deny their requests you might annoy the band so much that they quit the festival.

Unfortunately not everybody goes to your festival for the music. Some are just there to cause trouble. Whether it’s streakers, hooligans, moochers, thieves or even the odd vampire and werewolf it’s your job to get rid of them. Ejecting these unscrupulous types from your festival will reward you with extra BigNotes or Party Tokens as well as keeping other festival goers happy. You get to use any Party Tokens you earn when you go online to visit other peoples’ festivals; there you can cause a little bit of mayhem by unleashing your own troublemakers.

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Going one louder

Although BigFest lets you pretty much play your own way it does also have an objective system that needs to be met if you want to earn wads of BigNotes and Promoter XP. These are played out as posters with three objectives per poster and are a mixture of things such as earning a certain amount of Vibe, upgrading equipment, placing certain stalls and ejecting people. If you want to get all the objectives you will probably have to revisit these posters when you’ve got a mega festival built.

As you would expect from a management game the controls have to be super slick and tight otherwise you would struggle with placing your items. Thankfully BigFest controls hit the mark with its mixture of using the left stick to navigate, the touch screen to select and view, and circle to confirm. You can even fly without wings and get a bird’s eye view of your festival with a press of the Left Bumper.

Trying to cram hundreds of people on screen must have been a nightmare for the devs but they deserve a lot of credit as the visual aspect of BigFest works really well. Even when you switch to top down bird’s eye view you can clearly see the crowds moving about like ants, tramping well-trodden paths – usually to the toilets. Must be all that hot chocolate. Using this view you can also move around the area and listen to the music to make sure that all the speakers are in working order.

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The music in the game was always going to be one of the standout features as it is all about the bands, and the use of Jamendo for the unsigned bands is integrated well. The genres of different bands you have available to browse are extremely varied. When you are in the Discover section of the game you tap on the group to listen to some of their music. If you discover a band that you like the sound of, as well as getting them to perform at your BigFest you can usually read more info on them and see their website, Twitter or Facebook page.

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Platinum Record

BigFest is aiming for the Number One spot with a trophy list that awards your management prowess with a platinum trophy. Thankfully it is a fairly straightforward list with trophies obtained for such things as upgrading different parts of your festival to a certain level, headlining different bands and visiting other festivals. The list itself has many music references like the gold trophy “A big yellow taxi” which you get by paving paradise so you can build a parking lot – well removing trees at least.

Conclusion

BigFest is a brilliant gem of a PS Vita game. I played the hell out of Theme Hospital and Theme Park back in the day and now I’m playing the hell out of BigFest. I’ll also be trying to beat my friends and top the global leaderboard long after getting the platinum. Utilising real life unsigned bands is a touch of genius – it almost makes you feel like you are part of the music industry. Excellent.

NelMaNo Rating 8.5/10

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NelMaNo is a family man and a long time gamer. He’s a typical Yorkshire man who won’t judge a game until he has given it a fair crack of the whip(pet). Follow him on twitter @NelMaNo