Category Archives: Computer game Reviews

Review: Mass Effect 3, Leviathan DLC

Last night I finished the Leviathan DLC and I really enjoyed it, although I’m not entirely sure it was worth the 800MS points I paid for it. I’ll attempt to review it here without leaking any spoilers!

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Alice: Madness Returns

Well this isn’t so much a review as I didn’t get that far in the game to review it fully because I was disappointed by it enough to stop playing, not as disappointed as I would have been if I hadn’t have been warned that it would suck. I’d been told by quite a lot of people that it’s not a very good game but I still wanted to give it a chance.

I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or an XBox game by its cover art but when I originally saw the cover for this game I was so excited. I love Alice in Wonderland and I do mean love and I mean it as a whole as in the books, films and general art and bits and bobs. I love it so much that I had my 25th birthday party Alice in Wonderland themed… anyway back to the point, so I had high hopes that it would please me anyway and then seeing the version of Alice that American McGee created I was super excited to delve into Wonderland.

We are so creative haha

My blonde wig was ridiculous so I didn’t wear it but inside I was Alice haha.

I started the game and enjoyed the introduction and I was enjoying it until Alice goes in to Wonderland. I liked the back story that we saw, I liked the take on Alice and the Cheshire Cat but I found the game really slow and unexciting the only bit that I did really enjoy was being able to shrink Alice and walk through keyholes (that parts the Disney fan in me). The weapons that Alice is equip with (at the points in the game I reached I’m not sure if they had any others) is a pepper grinder and the vorpal blade. The vorpal blade is the primary weapon and quite fun to use but the pepper grinder was a horrible weapon.

Thats all I can really think to write about, the enemies are boring and the levels are boring and all a bit… well boring. Quite disappointing, mainly because it was a wonderful oppurtunity to make another amazing Alice.

In other news I’m currently playing Alan Wake, I only started playing today but so far I’m quite enjoying it. I love the story so far and I’m finding it quite tense which is fun. I also have Rise of Nightmares and Disneyland Adventures to try out so expect something to follow on those.


Dance Central 2 – Baby Got Back!

Don’t you love it when you buy something and it’s even better than you thought it would be. I have just had that experiance with Dance Central 2. I loved Dance Central and was ridiculously excited when they brought out Dance Central 2 but due to other gaming commitments (okay I was just a little bit addicted to Skyrim), having the wrong room set up to play it in and lack of money I didn’t buy it… until today. We’d rearranged the front room for Kinect the other day and then I saw the game fairly cheap today so I made my purchase and have been playing it for the last hour.

I was browsing through the song list and was overly excited by two songs that I didn’t know was on there, one being Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back and the other being O-Zone – Dragostea din tei

No i’m not embarrased that I was excited by those songs, I know that I probably should be but it was so much fun dancing to them. I also gave Flo Rida ft. David Guetta’s – Club Can’t Handle Me and Far East Movement’s – Like A G6 (which I was hearing as Roll A D6) a go which where both cool.

I think that the difficulty in general has gone up since the last game and I’m sad that Oblio isn’t in it anymore but all in all I’m really pleased and can’t wait to try out all of the dances. The downloadable content is really good as well. I’ll definatly be downloading The Party Rock Anthem, Milkshake and Ridin’ Dirty.

A feature that is different is that you can have two dances performing together without it being a dance battle, but the option to battle is still there which is always fun when you’ve got people round… or as I live with two people just when we get competative… and yeah I always win :-p

I’m really pleased and look forward to doing all of the dances, I’d recommend it to anyone that enjoyed the first game and anyone that enjoys dancing in general. I’ve tried some of the other dance games for Kinect and this one is by far the best.


Gears of War 3: A Review

Before I start, I’m going to ask you to be gentle with me – I’ve never written a games review before, so chances are I will makes a complete hash of this, especially since I’m a massive fanboy of this particular franchise! Oh, and I’ll try and avoid any massive spoilers, but no promises…

Right, Gears of War 3. For those of you not familiar with the series I shall attempt to summarise; the planet of Sera has been invaded by a race of subterranean monsters known as the Locust Horde. They’ve attacked for reasons unknown, and are bent on the total eradication of Human life on Sera. The COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) leads the fight against the Locust, and in a kill-or-cure strategy they unleash their orbital weapons satellites, the Hammer of Dawn. Adopting a scorched earth policy they destroy all the major human cities except the capital, Jacinto, which is built on a solid granite plinth, so the Locust can’t burrow up into it. The survivors of the Hammer strikes become stranded, desperate groups of people at war with the Locust and often the COG. Gears 3 see’s the final desperate battles between the COG, the Locust, and the new threat, the Lambent.

Gears of War 3 is the final chapter in the story of Sera’s war against the Locust, capping off a saga that now includes three video games, four books, and a comic book series (I can recommend the books in particular, written by Karen Traviss, because they are excellent!). In order for the story to make sense, players should really have played the two games at least, but to understand all the references made (such as who the Hell Captain Michaelson is), players should read the books, as they span the gap between the sinking of Jacinto at the end of Gears 2 and the start of the new game.

Lambent - glowing, exploding enemies

Fans of Gears will know that its distinguishing gameplay feature is its cover system. In games like Halo and Unreal Tournament, circle-strafing and other bizarre tactics rule. Not so here. Cover is a massively important part of staying alive. You heal quicker, can’t usually be shot, and can return fire from relative safety. The mechanics of taking cover have been smoothed even further than in the previous game, almost eradicating those annoying moments where you attempt to leap into cover and instead leap out into the open and receive a face full of bullets. You can now roadie-run straight into cover, avoiding the headshot-inviting moment of standing upright after running to cover.

However, whilst getting into cover is now easier, staying in it isn’t. The AI is now far more aggressive (in particular that governing the actions of the Lambent), and especially on higher difficulties will try and flank you, forcing you to move to new cover to deal with the evolving threat. There are also a handful of enemy weapons that make a mockery of most cover such as the Savage Boomer’s Digger Launcher which fires a burrowing projectile that digs under your current piece of bullet-blocking scenery and then explodes like a grenade.

All your old favourite weapons are still there (although they’ve all been tweaked) – The Lancer, Hammerburst, Longshot, Boomshot, etc. but this time they’re joined by a selection of other pieces of death-dealing hardware. I’ve already mentioned the Digger, there’s also the Retro Lancer which has a nasty bayonet and hits like a truck but with massive amounts of recoil, the Vulcan cannon which requires two player to use it – one to unleash a withering hail of fire and one to feed the ammo. The sawed-off shotgun, which is a sawed-off double barrel shotgun that does horrendous damage at close range but seems to take an age to reload, and last but far from least the One Shot, a beast of a gun that does exactly what it says – kills almost all enemies in a single shot.

Nothing says "Get back in yer hole" quite like a bayonet to the guts.

The new weapons for the most part fit smoothly into the Gears world (the One Shot seems a tad out of place, but not too far), and give even greater flexibility both in the campaign and the popular online multiplayer.

Which leads me very nicely onto the multiplayer. It’s now a fairly established fact that online multiplayer is the big draw for most console gamers. It’s what keeps player coming back long after they’ve completed the games single player mode on all available difficulites, and it adds massive re-playability if done right. And Gears has done right. As well as the ubiquitous team deathmatches, capture the flag (in Gears it’s called Capture the Leader, because you actually have to capture the enemy leader!), and king of the hill game types, there’s Horde. Horde mode was introduced in Gears 2 and has since been imitated by nearly all the big FPS titles (Halo Reach’s Firefight, COD: BO zombie mode for instance), and due to its popularity has obviously returned in Gears 3. This time however, Epic Games looked at how the players were playing the game, and what tactics they were using, and listened to the fans online and actually incorporated these things into the new version.

So now, in Horde 2.0 (as it’s called), you earn cash for killing the attacking waves of Locust and use that cash to buy defences. Everything from caltrops to fully automated defence turrets can be purchased to help you survive the fury of the horde.

 

Another new addition to the multiplayer aspect of the game is Beast Mode. In this game you get to play the bad guys, the Locust Horde. Everything from the scurrying Feral Tickers, to Bloodmounts and the nigh unstoppable Berserkers. The objective is to wipe out the human defenders which gradually increase in difficulty (starting with a handful of Stranded with meagre defences up to Chairman Prescott and his elite Onyx Guard). It costs points to spawn as a new Locust, points which are earned buy destroying/damaging defences and humans. It’s not the longest gametype, there being only eleven waves, but it is monstrously (see what I did there?) good fun.

Not to say that the campaign mode should be glossed over. The story for Gears 3 was written by Karen Traviss, so ties in seamlessly with the novels she wrote, and is amazing. It wraps up all the loose ends and answers the questions that have been fuelling speculation on forums across the internet (y’know, like why does Queen Myrrah know Marcus and his Dad? What’s Prescott really up to? And where the Hell did the Lambent come from?!). It also supports online co-op through the campaign for two players, which is pretty much a must for the Insane difficulty setting.

All in all, it is the best Gears of War game. Unlike Bungie’s Halo: Reach which promised so much but ultimately failed to live up to the hype, Gears 3 is as good as it claims to be, and is fitting conclusion to an amazing saga.

 


Duke Nukem Forever: A Counterpoint

I’ve been waiting for Duke Nukem forever since it was announced, I was obsessed after I got my hands on Duke Nukem 3D, and in fact, the very first comics I ever submitted to anybody were actually Duke Nukem strips. Unfortunately they were submitted to the deputy head of my primary school, which in hindsight was probably a poor choice, but I didn’t care, I had balls of steel.

So understandably I was excited when I heard the king of vapourware was finally hitting store shelves.

I’ve seen the furore explode on the Internet and the terrible reviews…And I’ve waited until I’ve finished the game to wade into the maelstrom…and now I must say…  It’s a good game!

It certainly isn’t the second coming of the FPS messiah that it was hailed as, but honestly after 15 years of development hell I don’t think anybody really believed the spin anymore. I certainly didn’t. And it certainly doesn’t deserve to be maligned the way it has been by the gaming media. I’ve seen truly broken games receive better scores than Duke. Which certainly leaves this player scratching his head. I’m not really going to focus on the interactive environments, or the bulk of the story here, most people will have seen enough of these aspects in previews to get the general idea of what is going on.

The game does what it says on the tin. It’s Duke Nukem. It plays like a Duke game. Forget what you’ve learnt from Call Of Duty, Halo, BulletStorm and the other FPS you’ve played, it’s useless here! Duke doesn’t use iron sights, he doesn’t cling to objects for cover, and he certainly doesn’t engage in frivolous plot exposing cut scenes.

DNF is the 80’s action movie of video games. It exists in it’s own retro bubble and people need to accept that. You wouldn’t compare Total Recall to The Dark Knight. Both are sci-fi action adventures, but it’s impossible to even start to draw comparisons between the two. I can see how this would be a major turn off to the modern gamer, especially a player that didn’t experience the heyday of Duke, let alone the cult 80’s movies that DNF quotes and references constantly. Add to the fact that DNF’s game play hasn’t really evolved from Duke 3D, and still involves circle strafing and lots of trial and error in battles. If you didn’t expect this, it could probably come as an almighty boot to the face.

From the looks of it, most people didn’t expect it.

I don’t want to be one of those guys that points at people that didn’t enjoy the game and screams “YOU JUST DIDN’T GET IT!” But 3D Realms certainly had their target audience in mind when they were developing the title, and it shows. A guarantee a LOT of people are not going to like this game.

By no means is this game flawless, the console ports are plagued with choppy graphics, long load times and sluggish aiming, problems the PC version doesn’t have. A constant reminder that this game was originally a PC exclusive and was only ported to consoles when Gearbox got involved. I had to turn the controller sensitivity up to 10 with aim assist to get any real joy out of the aiming, I live in hope that Microsoft will patch in mouse and keyboard support to the xbox one day…It’ll probably never happen but a guy can dream. I had no problems with the driving, platforming, puzzle, and underwater sections like some people, so I can’t really add any criticisms on them. They delivered a welcome break from the hectic gunplay. I mentioned earlier in this piece about trial and error, something that was once a staple of PC gaming, if you died it was your own fault, and you needed to do something differently. This is fine on PC, when you can save at any point of the game and are not constricted to the checkpoint save systems of a console. Couple this with the intense difficulty of the game, and the long load times and you have a recipe for frustration. Personally I think they could have handled It more like the Xbox arcade version of Duke Nukem 3D’s replay system, which allowed you to go forwards and backwards throughout your last moments and choose your ideal respawn point to better tackle the obstacle that caused your demise. It’s not a game breaker, and most obstacles and bosses only really require 2 or 3 reloads to get you to fine tune your approach and kick ass. The regenerating health/Ego bar is something that kind of irks me personally, I would have preferred the old school method of hunting for first aid boxes, but that’s probably just me!

Another thing people have been complaining about is the hive level. It’s a direct homage to Aliens, a dark disturbing environment where face hugger inspired impregnators and the truly terrifying octo-brains roam freely. The game is clearly taking cues from survival horror titles in this section, with a nice little nod to Dead Space hidden away within the alien architecture. But the level design isn’t what is putting peoples backs up it’s the fact that women impregnated with alien spawn are bound in the otherworldly goop and their only hope is for you to put a bullet in their head…Just like in Duke Nukem 3D.

Why is this a shock to people? Why was it fine for you to do the exact same thing in 1996, but in 2011 it’s a terrible thing and the game is “rampantly offensive”? Yeah, it’s pretty dark, and even Duke himself is sombre in the face of the horror that the aliens have committed.

It’s the scary alien level in a sci-fi game, it’s not overly gory and disgusting like the aforementioned Dead Space, but it is a little disturbing…Not as disturbing as the “No Russian” scene in Modern Warfare 2 but enough to be on par with the moon levels in Duke Nukem 3D.

 

The Multiplayer aspect is something nobody seems to be talking about. In essence the original Dukematch has been given an upgrade, it’s the same game my buddies and I hijacked the schools network to play. It’s a frantic scramble for the biggest and baddest guns on the map, you have to move quickly because soon every corner of the map will be littered with player placed trip-mines that can easily end anybody’s devastator driven killing spree. Multiple game modes have been added, from Team Dukematch to Hail To The King and the now infamous Capture The Babe.  An experience system has been shoe horned in to allow you to unlock customisable outfits for your character, also furniture and girls for your own swanky Vegas high-rise apartment unlock themselves as you rise through the levels. It’s fun old school hyper violence at it’s best!

 

In closing: I will reiterate that it’s a good game, not an amazing game. But nowhere near as bad as people are making it out to be. It’s certainly aimed at the older more hardcore crowd and is perfect if you’re an 80’s action movie fan after a challenge that’ll make you smile along the way. My advice to you is, if you have a gaming rig that can handle the Duke, go with the PC version. If you still want to take a peak and don’t mind a few jagged edges on your graphics and have no worries about loading times feel free to dive into the console version. I loved every second of it!

I certainly feel that this game needed to be released, not just for fans, not for the money but as closure for the hundreds (literally) of people that worked hard and put everything they had into this project over the years.

“I guess sometimes we want greasy hamburgers instead of caviar…” – Randy Pitchford

Oh and stay after the credits.

By: Richard J. Crypt

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