Thursday, June 2, 2011


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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Quick Kinect Overview - Drunken Edition!

Ok, so what’s up with this Microsoft Kinect thingy you ask? Some of us ghouls here at Reaper Towers decided to get drunk and give it a good old test run for ya all just so we could answer that very question. There are lots of reviews out there on the individual games for Kinect but were just going to share our experience with you and let ya take from it what you will… We had a go of Kinect Sports, Dance Central and Kinectimals… yep, I said Kinectimals! It might take awhile to get through our drunken night so I hope you enjoy the rundown.

The night began with a few vodkas followed by a pint of Guinness… Oh yeah, the games, well we first had to go through the whole Kinect setup. This was surprisingly painless as we got our Blind Side G to do all the work while the rest of us sat drinking, it was fun. The Kinect needed to be tuned for the light of the room, facial recognition, voice recognition, and general positioning. The instructions were so clear and straight forward that even a retard could follow them, which is why we had a spot of bother with lining up a cardboard picture card with the visuals onscreen… but that was not Kinect’s fault. All in all it was a lengthy but painless experience and even kind of interesting in a geeky way. Then we tried some of the navigation options, you can control certain parts of your dashboard by hand gestures and voice commands, this is a real novelty and will eventually be standard practice I imagine, although it is limited at the present. Never mind Kinect, cant wait till all TV's have this built in feature... It will happen people we are one step closer too the lazy mans Utopia!

So several drinks in and we were ready to play, first on the menu was Kinect Sports. Now this initially looks like a rip off of Wii Sports… and it is for the most part. The whole thing is cute and family friendly, barf! After playing god by making the crowd do some Mexican waves and creating fireworks on the menu screen we then tried to sort out the teams. The Kinect was pretty good at recognising us all individually which was cool but we had some trouble choosing a custom setup, maybe it was the booze kicking in but we couldn’t seem to change players without always having to quit out of a game and go to the main menu, which is fairly big flaw in the game design. That said you can have actual teams but we couldn’t quite figure that shit out either, regardless we ploughed on.

Bowling was first, being the perfect lads and beer type game and it was great fun. The responsiveness is impressive and it seems to really notice the curl of your arm in order to give some spin. Overall if felt quite realistic if perhaps a bit on the easy side, I even broke the floor of the ally with a sloppy throw, just like real life! The only issue occurred if you ended up putting your hand behind your back, the sensor didn’t like that and would botch the throw as a result which lead to many colourful abusive words… hopefully the Kinect isn’t sensitive to insults.

Next was some footy, it is basic stuff and would be pretty lame on your own but it was good fun in two player, mostly because we found that we were accidentally kicking each other in the process. It ended up with everyone cheating and pushing or just getting in the other persons way as much as possible, which was good laugh. The kicking was quite responsive but the goalies arm mimicking and general responsiveness wasn’t great unfortunately but again we can see the potential for future versions of this down the line. Overall it was great party fun and well worth playing with friends.

We then moved on to track and field… oh sweet Jesus was that hard! Running on the spot isn’t as fun as it looks, even the ‘Fit’ lads in the group were having trouble. I have one piece of advice for any male players, wear tight shorts for this! Lose boxers are not ideal because your ball bag will be bounced around to a painful level and it will cost you the race as you stop to grab your crotch in battered discomfort… I speak from experience. Also make sure that there are no wobbly tables or precariously placed items nearby cos the vibration of two people running on the spot sounds and vibrates like a herd of elephants. Nut and structural damage aside this is good fun but very exhausting and not for drunken unfit people.

With what little energy that was left we tried out the Javelin, Discus followed by the Long jump and then some nasty Hurdles. All were pretty fun with the Javelin being the most intuitive and easiest to control. The Discus was a bit of a letdown as instinctively we would reach back as far as possible to then throw the disc but the sensor was losing track of the throwing hand and the results were pathetic, partially the players fault but also partly the sensors too I recon as it should expect people to simulate the method that is on screen… partly the demon drink.

Long Jump was difficult to get the timing right and always felt a bit laggy on the jump part, we had to compensate and try jump earlier than the visual indicator in order to succeed. Hurdles were well tough and the running and jumping were surprisingly difficult to master but the responsiveness was better than some of the other games and again my balls we in agony… at this point we were feeling as energetic as the late John Candy, so we did the sensible thing and took a smoke break.

Some drink fuelled gaming debate ensued and then we got a second wind which gave us enough stamina to try out a bit of boxing. Personally this was the one I had been looking forward to and unfortunately it was the worst game in the pack. Yes you can dodge, upper cut and block but if your opponent is doing a ‘Macarena’ style punching then none of it matters. It just becomes a contest of who can Macarena the fastest, basically… it sucks and I was well disappointed. It’s better in single player but if you start getting pummelled then you know what to do… ehhh Macarena - yeah!

Table tennis was great and probably the most responsive game in the set. Putting spin and speed on the ball works well and once you learn how to serve properly the whole experience is very enjoyable… until your human opponent starts slapping you in the face by accident with their paddle hand, but at least the ball sack is safe in this one. At this point we were totally fooked and the thoughts of playing volley ball was a bridge too far… so we had more booze and smokes.

During our rest I wanted to have a go of Kinectimals, that’s the one with all the cuddly lion cubs… stop laughing at me!!! It was actually really, really good! You start off having to pick your cub and name the furry lil fecker, this of course resulted in many obscene ideas and much profanity which was good laugh in itself. Then we got a tutorial from some winged pixie type freak which was well done and great for the kiddies but not a bunch of drunken men… Eventually we got to actually play with our pet, teach it tricks and most fun of all play some mini games. It was really cool. Lying on the floor to copy you cat and playing catch really immerses you into the game world and you have that vibe of being a kid again. Driving, throwing and puzzle mini games make up most of the fun but there is a points and money structure in place so as you can advance through to new areas and buy new items for your pet, it’s a proper game not just a virtual petting zoo. Personally it is the best Kinect title I’ve seen or played to date. The game engine is great and very intuitive to use, plus, if you apply this control system to other more serious games you could have something very clever. Would you believe that we played Kinectimals for nearly two hours, everyone who watched was in fascination of the beautiful visuals and the entertaining game play, it really surprised all of us, plus the achievements were flowing like booze in a brothel, yay, score for me! Kinectimals is a bit of a guilty pleasure but it’s very relaxing to play and well worth investigating if only from a technical point of view. If you have a kid that would play this then get it and have a go yourself, if not then it’s unlikely you would really bother with Kinectimals, perhaps a rent if you’re having some buddies over and are interested in seeing the game mechanic while treating the gang to a good laugh.

After that little chill out secession we moved on to Dance Central, it was now about four am and we were well oiled. Everyone but me seems to love this and feel that it’s the best Kinect game out there… fine. Personally I don’t get it, don’t get me wrong it is quite good, I just don’t see it as the messiah of Kinect. Regardless, we had fun with it, the moves are complex enough depending on the song and the motion tracking works very well. There are good onscreen helpers to get you back into the rhythm when you’re having trouble and overall it is quite enjoyable depending on how much you like dancing in the first place. What is really cool is that it takes a movie of you at certain points of your limb wobbling mambo and plays it all back to you at the end of the song… this is a great source of slagging material and will have you doubled over in laughter as you get to see just how retarded you look as you flay about like a man on fire. M.C. Hammer... watch your back!

We were too physically pooped to take on Kinect Adventures by then so we will have to give you an update on that and a few of the other games we have for Kinect the next time we get to have a marathon game night. We did continue however, by playing Rockband 3 till about nine am and that was fab too! All in all we had a great night that left us looking forward to try out more Kinect and we were quite pleasantly surprised by the device.

I have always said that this controller less controller had great potential for future gaming. Just imagine in Mass Effect 4 if you could talk to the characters instead of choosing a text option or having to de-code puzzles of defuse bombs using your hands, all great possibilities that I’m sure will come in time. We were a bit dismissive of the current release titles prior to launch because it all looked a bit too cuddly and kiddie focused but we have to admit that perhaps it was a mistake to write them off too early. Although the technology involved in Kinect is not a particularly new one as parts of it has been used in other areas for years, it has now been cleverly harnessed for games and as a result Microsoft has surprised allot of gamers. Currently it is an interesting and fun device that is great for parties and family gaming but what it is capable of in the near future is what makes it truly exciting. So, to the hard core gamer I say… watch this space and never say never! Plus - watch you’re Balls!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dead Rising 2 - A soggy stump or a good meat beater?!

Dead Rising 2

Xbox 360
- PS3 - PC

Ah yes, Vegas – the home of games, whores, gamblers and now zombies! Is there anything it doesn’t have? Dead Rising 2 is set in this wonderful dust bowl paradise city of sin and sensuality, it leads on from Dead Rising where the journalist Frank West survived the zombie filled town of ‘Willamette’ to spread the truth about the walking bags of shit. Then we had the prequel demo of Case Zero to slot in nicely between them like a hot dog in a bun, oops pardon! So strap on your chainsaw and load up that shotgun cos its time to paint the town in zombie coloured blood and guts… again.

Any who played Case Zero will know some of what to expect in terms of game play and the basic story line. You are Chuck Green, an ex-motor cross legend who has just escaped certain death with his young daughter Katy, only to be stranded in a Shitville town full of zombies with the military on route to flatten the place, escape is the only way to survive... Jump forward a few years into Dead Rising 2 and we meet Chuck in Fortune City where he is now scraping together money to buy ‘Zombrex’ for his daughter Katy who is always just a day away from becoming a midget meat sack with teeth. Chucks wife has previously been zombified and was the one who bit the kid, thanks Mom! We can only presume that Chucky put a bullet in his wife’s skull soon after that… marital bliss eh. Our Hero earns money for this drug by taking part in the ‘Terror is Reality’ (TIR) TV game show that uses zombies as cannon fodder for a variety of competitions. All is going reasonably well for a few years but then something happens, the zombies escape and infest all of Fortune City.

Chuck is framed as being the one who liberated the living dead and now has to prove his innocence before the military arrive and pop a cap in his ass, this gives us our main timeline story to follow through. Life is never easy though and Chucky also has to find some zombrex for his brat every twenty four hours, plus he has to deal with a range of crazy nut bag psychos and try to rescue snivelling survivors… then of course there’s the small matter of millions of zombies everywhere. It sucks to be Chuck but its great fun for us!

It would be rude not to compare DR2 to DR1, and although there are allot of similarities there are also some fundamental changes. You can still use just about anything as a weapon but now you can combine items to create the ultimate zombie destruction device. Lash some petrol into a squirt gun and you have a portable BBQ pistol, or stick some nails into a gas cylinder to make a nail bomb and one of my favourites - combine a flash light and some gems - you get a light sabre, yeah! Cool or what! There are lots of mix and matches to try out and as you progress you can earn new weapon combo cards by completing tasks or by successfully combining items. This is a great idea and allot of fun, adding freshness to the usual zombie massacre! There are also way more vehicles scattered around, from motorbikes and cars to wheelchairs and dumpsters, all make for great zombie mincers when accessed with the added bonus of modding items for extra carnage, chainsaw on the bike and the electric wheel chair come to mind.

Food can be found all over the place and now is for more than just eating. Make some Jack Daniels petrol bombs or mess with the blender to recreate the smoothies we all know and love or just squirt some ketchup all over a zombie for some Dawn of the Dead style humour. Drink too much booze or eat any dodgy burgers, you will barf and barf and barf… sounds funny eh! Try fighting one of the psychos when ya can’t stop spewing all over the place - that will wipe the smile off your face pretty quick, Grrr! The ‘level up’ books are also scattered around but this time many of the bonuses learned in them require you to keep it in your inventory taking up a precious slot, which kinda sucks dead nuts! Just some of the perks include increased combat efficiency, extra PP points or making survivors better at fighting but none are mandatory and rarely make any massive difference. Usually I don’t bother with them at all, maybe just a quick flick if it’s one of those ‘special’ types… know what I mean?!

Missions in general are… OK and are allocated to you in much the same way as the origonal game, the annoying phone rings, usually when your in the middle of a zombie munching at you crotch. When you do answer the call you get the spec and the time allocated to complete it in. Your watch and mission menue are all easily accessable and well laid out. The directions to the task location come in the form of a pointer arrow, perhaps a GTA style nav system would have been better here but it does the trick I guess. Missions usually involve rescuing a survivor, running an errand or fighting a boss. All this is mostly enjoyable but the ‘wow’ factor seems to be missing and it just feels a lil bit repetitive, which I didn’t mind too much because it is still a lot of fun just to play in this environment.

There are multiple endings depending on what tasks you decide to follow or let pass… and of course the true ending will be revealed if you successfully complete all given story based missions. If you decide you couldn’t be arsed saving people or clearing your name and you are quite content to let Katy turn into a mini zombie, then you can! Continue to commit genocide on the dead or just mess about until the heavies arrive… then you die. There is no overtime mode after you complete the game and this is your best opportunity to get achievements and the like. That said, an overtime mode would have been better and is sorely missed in my opinion. Alternatively, follow all story paths and there is much more to see after Uncle Sam arrives, including some advanced zombies!

It is possible to do all objectives in one play through without too much frustration and some good time management, which is not something that you could really say about DR1. The return of the bat shit crazy psycho is stronger than ever and there are plenty to take on in DR2. Nut Jobs are generally humorous with some great cut scenes before and after the scrapping part. Each one can be taken down with a method or a good powerful combo weapon but most will require at least a second attempt.

Story mode bosses on the other hand are more of a pain in the ass and range from the reasonably difficult to the ‘throw your controller at the TV’ frustratingly difficulty. The last two battles in particular are not enjoyable and require allot of patience, they are the most frustrating boss fights in this game, I would like to tell you more about them but I don’t want to give away any spoilers so let’s just say they suck wrinkly boobs!! Before any boss encounter it is a good idea to stock up on some high level foods and smoothies, these head bangers may be dip shit crazy but they are usually tough enough to beat, so keep that in mind and save your game before hand!!

The survivor AI is way better than before and they are much easier to keep alive. Survivors can even be really helpful against zombies if you give them a weapon. They can watch your back while you gamble away your money or while you’re talking to other new members, just don’t bring them into boss fights, chances are they will die or just get in your way. Some of them are super sexy even if they are made of pixels, makes you wish that Chuck had an extra ‘Shag’ button!

Try not to dish out too much friendly fire while trying to save them from a pack of zombies or they will defect and perhaps turn on you, which is very annoying but over all they are a massive improvement over the retards in the first game! Something that did piss me off though was the conversations with survivors, it is all done through subtitles and it feels lazy. I thought that shit was left behind in the 90’s or reserved for Wii games, WTF Capcom?? Arg!

What of the meat headed, bags of shit, blood covered brainless walking dead heads I hear you ask… well they are just fine, thanks for asking. The variety of zombie is very good, from cops to strippers all look terrifyingly great as they moan and meander about, get too close and you are easily lunged upon and have to escape quickly before you become lunch. Some advanced zombies appear later on in the story and they are faster and tougher to kill, they are a real pain in the ass. But all zombies are basically annoying obstacles to get in your way and soon lose any ‘scary’ element that the living dead might usually have and are more of a pathetic comic relief than a terrifying adversary.

The shops and general level design is well constructed and the bright colours of Fortune City make it all very addictive on the eyes, although it must be said that it’s not all that ‘Vegas’ like, it could be any casino/entertainment based environment with a shopping mall built around it. Lots of fake branding and real life brands are scattered around the place, (mmm - Playboy) some rather humorous and are worth stopping for a quick look or just to graffiti them with a spray can, (hint) try the zombrex posters in particular! The casinos are a great place to find many mini games to earn cash or you could just wreck the joint and take the money that way. Try some bucking bronco, poker, running ball or just put on lots of different clothes, there is loads to investigate and mess around with. You will be exploring long after the actual story is finished.

Most of the game mechanics are the same as DR1, same level up system, same inventory setup but the actual responsiveness of the controls makes Chuck far less trouble than Frankie was to move about the place. Also the aiming setup has changed and works a bit better than previously. You also level by gaining ‘PP’ points just as before. This unlocks new inventory slots, health slots, fighting moves and sometimes weapon combo cards. Points are gained from just about everything with some greater bonuses for killing creatively and saving people, pretty much the same setup as before. Probably the most welcome change is the addition of several save slots, meaning you can fall back on saves when things go tits up or you just want to mess about without affecting your main game progression.

There is now also the co-op element which is nice but it is a missed opportunity to have done something really great. The guest player is also Chuck Green, which is a bit lame, and the guest can earn money and pp points but his game progress isn’t valid, basically just a hired hand. That said it is good fun just to join up and see who can do the most ridiculous atrocities against the dead head zombies and it is a good laugh.
That is not the only multi player aspect thankfully… There is a competitive mode where you and three other players get to slug it out on the show ‘Terror Is Reality’ which involves a series of clever mini games, most involving new and interesting ways of turning zombies into puree. Basically it’s a gladiator arena filled with zombies, genius eh! This is great fun and the mini games tend to vary quite well from match to match but in time they will all become too familiar and boring, unless more are added in the future. There is some DLC coming for DR2 which will involve better Co-op play allowing Chuck and Frank West (from DR1) to team up for some zombie splatting and it is possible that other DLC announcements will follow. If so then this makes owning Dead Rising 2 even more attractive.

This quirky humoured franchise is less about horror and more about tongue n cheek narrative smothered in critical analysis of American culture, almost to the point of blatantly taking the piss… But it has zombies, so that’s ok then! Love em or hate em, zombies are here to stay and are ingrained into our pop culture, especially games! This is an obsession that many can’t get enough of while others can’t stand it, personally I love the smell of a zombie BBQ in the morning and as a result I thoroughly enjoyed Dead Rising 2, flaws and all. It’s fair to say that if you didn’t like the original Dead Rising then this is not going to be your cup of blood and eyeballs. But if you are like me and love to chop off some zombie balls, impale some dead chicks and drink lots of booze in the process then this is the game for you. A good old meat beater!!

Looks good, enjoyable story line, good hack and slash stress relief - Buy it, Love it!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Halo Reach Review - Just a little Rub or a good old Reach around?

Halo Reach
Bungie - Microsoft
Xbox 360

Here we go again, more Halo, more hype, more sycophant followers, and more assholes online than in second life. Welcome to Reach! If you’re already a Halo head then chances are you have splashed the cash on this already but for those that are Halo haters, I say to you - read on brethren and perhaps we can change your mind… unlikely, but perhaps! So let’s get into it like a two dollar whore zipping up the spandex, lashing on the cheap perfume and guzzling STD medicine, to see if we can sell you an ageing but firm piece of action.

Halo has always been a game of two half’s, the story mode and the matchmaking mode, just like two hot Swedish twins - although they share the same elements they offer completely different experiences. Reach, more so than any other Halo game simply must be judged on these two modes being separated but there is one element that both share that I feel is this game’s greatest asset, but I will justify that later on. So let’s massage the elements that single and multiplayer have in common first shall we…

Spartans are now fully customizable but at a price. You can earn credits that will allow you to dress up your main dude in all sorts of hard man or woman accessorises - no high heels please! This is a nice touch and a good idea if all a lil bit ‘Barbie’ and you rarely notice any changes on other online players as either you or they are dead very quickly after an encounter, so it’s really just to make you feel unique, which is fine. These customisations also affect your story mode Spartan, which is cool and allows you to appreciate your great fashion taste during cut scenes. You also level up as you earn credits, more cash means more level and this is earned in all game areas, the story mode, fire fight mode and of course where most of you’re levelling up will be done, in the multiplayer mode.

There is little in the way of additions to weapons or vehicles, most have all been seen before in Halo 3 with a small handful of subtle additions and changes but it could be argued that this keeps things consistent with the oncoming story of Halo that follows, plus they are still great fun to use. Same goes for Covenant forces, it is mostly the usual breed of aliens with the only real change being their rank and armour, which does have a good verity but it would have been nice to have seen a few new creations rather that just alterations.

Combat is all very familiar too with only subtle changes. Your aiming reticule now indicates how sharp your aim on a target is and duel wielding has been done away with altogether, yeah it’s OK – don’t have a cow man! Truth is ya don’t miss it. The new addition of armour abilities is a welcome one and it replaces the ‘deployment’ options of Halo 3. This is probably Reach’s strongest and freshest quality and it allows a player more diverse ways of facing an enemy. Armour lock, sprinting, bubble shields, invisibility, decoy and the best one, jet pack are some of the options for Spartans in both modes and for Elites in the multiplayer. These come in very useful in all areas of the game giving you an upper hand in combat or for just saving your ass. Ultimately it depends on your strategy and the weapons you choose to complement these armour abilities, the right set and a bit of skill can make you a fierce combatant.

Visually Reach looks the best so far, as you might expect. Human character models in the campaign are way better than in ODST which isn’t saying much but they are generally quite convincing. Effects, scenery, levels all look nicely polished and help set the atmosphere well with the aid of some immersive sound and music. Bungie being the high quality production house that they are you would expect no less and in fairness to them, they consistently deliver the fundamentals very well.

Remember I mentioned one great asset to beat them all, well here it is and although it’s a cheeky cheat on Bungies behalf, I felt it is the stroke of genius that has made Halo Reach so enjoyable… its level design! Now, now, don’t scoff. Yes, most of the multiplayer maps are from the story mode levels, yes that saves allot of redevelopment time and money while lacking variety but it actually has worked a treat because they are so well balanced and thought-out. Each one is very different to the next and I found myself admiring the subtle genius of each map in both modes. It is an easy element to get wrong so to get it right and for the maps to work so well for two distinct different game modes takes some clever design! There are also some exclusively online maps and for the most part these also work very well. In my opinion these are some of the best levels that Bungie have created to date!

So now let’s roll this hussy over and look at the campaign side of Reach. The story puts you in the shoes of ‘six’ a Spartan replacing an empty spot within ‘Noble’ team, which I thought was a crap, pansy name for a bunch of hard assed Spartans. Regardless, this is your lot and the team is made up of five other different stereotyped personalities, they are ok, their just a bit typical. Over the campaign you get to know each one a bit better but the truth is they are really just backup to get you through the game and add a bit of texture to the myth of the Spartans, which is fine but nothing wow really.

The backdrop story has mankind ripping itself apart with the colonists of space rebelling against the government, initially this is why you are even on the planet, to kick some terrorist booty, but it is soon revealed that Reach is actually under Covenant attack with a greater invasion on the way. The dirty aliens intend on wiping the planet clean of human meat heads and until the UNSC get their shit together and arrive to defend, you and whatever military currently stationed on the doomed surface are all that is left to fight back… your fucked and the rest is classified! I can’t tell you what else happens without spoilers, I can tell you there are appearances from some familiar faces that were in earlier Halo’s including the big Chief himself and that the ending is satisfying and even a little sad in a way! Keep your eyes peeled after the credits finish - that's all I'm saying... The rest needs to be played to be appreciated, oh and you lose, the aliens kick our ass… it was a waste of time, despite the near saves and your heroic efforts, the planet is still screwed! Ha!

I will say that I found the single player experience very enjoyable, more so than Halo 3 and I rather enjoyed the twists of the story and the locations it lead me through. Game play is generally hectic, fast paced combat with little to complain about, a solid fare.

There is a nice variety between vehicle combat levels and land based missions with nicely placed checkpoints along the way. It does become a try and learn system to get through a map but this can be said of most modern shooters and it is not an annoyance by any means just a little repetitive perhaps. NPC’s are pretty useless, being little more than human shields and the same goes for any ‘Noble Team’ dummy that you team up with but at least they can’t die. Forget about letting anyone else drive a vehicle, they need ‘L’ plates and are totally retarded behind the wheel, a chimp could do better! By a very unbalanced comparison the enemy AI is very good and depending on the difficulty setting they will have you gritting your teeth after being stuck with a plasma nade. They have also become great at dodging attacks and flanking, those dammed dirty aliens! Best of all, they can drive!! Properly!! Guess their driving lessons are better than Earths eh!

The overall atmosphere is strong and will draw you in enough so as you can’t hear the miss’s shouting at you to take out the trash. The closer you get to the ending the better the draw into a thin but enjoyable story becomes. It has its flaws too, there isn’t much it the way of boss battle types just waves and waves of mixed enemies and the new space dog fights are more of a short novelty than a long enjoyable romp, all pretty minor issues.
Overall I felt Reach’s story mode rubbed me up the right way and although it left me wanting more I will remember the experience fondly and re visit it in my head over and over, dirty thoughts! I haven’t enjoyed a shooter this much since Half Life 2 but perhaps that’s a subjective issue I guess… I’m not saying it’s the best game ever I’m just saying it’s a shit load of fun!

As enjoyable as the single player was it is the backside of this game! Where Halo truly has its money shot is in the multi player. I have already raved about the level design which is a big factor to any online experience but when you add some extremely clever game types, a fire fight mode and a bolloc load of customisation options, not to mention the level editor ‘Forge’, you have a tight lil package that is ready to please in every way possible. There is a great variety of familiar and new game types, the likes of the new ‘Headhunter’ has you picking up dead players skulls and trying to deposit them for points, it is just so fucking fun! Then there’s Invasion where a team of Spartans face off against a team of Elites and thrash it out. Throw in a map like ‘Spire’ and things get really, really mad! SWAT has you going for one shot one kill head shots and is the closest any Halo game is likely to get to the mighty ‘counter strike’.

There is also the usual big team and general slayer matches making this the best online Halo experience yet. The usual video editing options are there so you can share you finest moments on plus you can build your own crazy golf course and start whacking around your balls in forge, if that’s what tickles your daddy bag.

There is also fire fight mode which is hectic fun to play with friends or to just sharpen your skills. It is fully customisable, so if you want invincibility and skulls, fine, just turn em on it the options! There are even filters to help you try and weed out all the douche bags online or indeed to find them and compete in some ‘your momma’ type discussions! You can also register on and keep track of all your career stats which is fun and you may be entitled to have a special icon on you name tag as a result, depending on your past Halo experiences, all nice little extras.

There is just loads in the multiplayer portion of Reach, it will keep you oiled up and happy for ages and I have to say, yet again this is the most fun multiplayer experience I have had online in quite a while! That said, it is a shame that Bungie still have not addressed the issue of players dropping during a match, leaving everyone else shorthanded and set up for a loss. Sure there’s some bullshit penalty imposed on the dropper, nothing major mind you. Why could they not have looked into the Modern Warfare method eh? One man drops another enters soon after to take his place… arg. One big flaw, ya hear me Bungie?? Eh!!

All in all, Halo Reach is a quality title and gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Despite its few flaws and lack of originality it is the same Bungie balanced goodness it has always been but tweaked, perfected and improved. As Bungie’s last Halo game (so they say… hmmm) it is a good way for them to finish the series but still leave us wanting more. The Xbox will be a much duller place without Bungies Halo so enjoy it while it’s hot! If you didn’t like previous Halo titles then it is unlikely this will change it for you but ya sure as shit won’t know unless you try it, will ya?! For Halo fans this is more of the same but a bit better balanced, toned and firmed up, you will love it! Just like our two dollar whore with a crap name, this Halo will give a good old ‘Reach’ around to please and keep you up all night only to leave you wanting more, more, more!

Buy it and buy it now!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

F1 2010

F1 2010


PC Download

Ok petrol heads so here I am, stuck in the Dungeon of Reaper Towers left alone with the new F1 game, so does it live up to the hype? The short answer is O hell ya it does… and then some! F1 2010 has been brought to us by Codemasters, who also brought us TOCA - Grid and Dirt series, so you would bet your left nut that F1 2010 is going to be good and you would be right... great news for your left nut, eh! So let’s empty the bladders, zip up the fireproof suit, and get your ass comfy in the chair… let’s Go! Go! Go!

Each of the nineteen grand prix circuits have been designed perfectly even the Korean Grand Prix is here complete with grand stands. When you come out of your garage and onto the pit lane, you get a real sense of apprehension as you hear the cars going down the track beside you. With three different career paths to choose from ranging from three, five and seven seasons in length. The career you select will determine the different experiences you are offered. Pick a seven season career and you start off in a Lotus, Virgin Racing, or Hispania Racing where you get an opportunity to work your way up the grid. Then there is a three season career where you’re offered to drive with BMW, Williams, Force India or Turo Rosso and the like. But to access the top dogs you have to prove your worthiness of getting a seat in Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Renault or Red Bull. Alternatively you can jump straight in to the quick race, custom race or time trials, plus there’s the multiplayer mode, plenty of options for the hardcore to the casual race head alike. That’s the real beauty of this game! Just by adjusting a few options it goes from a easy ride for the casual gamer who just wants to blast around a track into a full on simulator for the hardcore enthusiast. Mostly though, this will appeal to the formula one nut’s with all the set up options and fine tweaking that can be done to get that tenth of a second you need for pole position.

The racing itself in the single player is very close to reality and mimics what you see on TV with only a couple of seconds between cars. The cars themselves have a real sense of weight with massive turn in and exiting speeds which just keep pushing you to find that sweet spot. Choose the wrong set up for a track or go too soon on the accelerator and you will be doing donuts all day. Don’t worry if you’re not into locking wheels and burning out back tyres, you can turn on the ABS and traction control in the options setting which does make the cars much easier to drive but doesn’t remove any of the high speed enjoyment.

The race weekends can be customised to your liking with either short or long weekends. This will determine how many practice and qualifying session there are. During the weekend you get challenges, one of which is – beat your teammate. Completing these challenges unlocks new R&D parts that can be used for upgrades and you can work your way into the number one spot on the team… race heads know how important that is! Completing objectives and scoring points also brings you to the attention of teams higher up the grid who will all want you to drive for them… if you’re good enough!

The flag and penalty system tends to lean on the heavy side, a slight tap that in real life would potentially end up in a tangled mess of metal and bone but in the game it could result in a ten second time penalty instead, a bit unrealistic to say the least. At no stage in the game can you drive through cars, except in the pit stop… coming into the pits other cars just ghost drive right through you and into their pitbox, this breaks the illusion of realism successfully and it sucks. Added to this that your lollipop man won’t release you until they’re gone and you have one huge WTF!!! When tight on time or points, this is really, really annoying! That aside the pitstops are as you see on the TV in fact the only thing that’s missing is Ted Kravitz giving a running commentary.

During the various single player modes you have to deal with the press. Slag off the team or act like an obnoxious dick and it goes down like a fart in a space suit. Answer it like a champion and the team will love you! Yay! Your agent will be sitting in the motor home keeping an eye over the whole picture and don’t worry she will let you know how you’re progressing and what the team thinks of you!

Familiar tracks such as ‘Circuit de Catalunya’ (Spain), ‘Silverstone Racing Circuit’ (England) and ‘Suzuka Circuit’ (Japan) may make an appearance in other games like Forza 3 or Grand Turismo but they do not feel the same as they do in F1 2010. If you think you know what to expect from playing tracks in other games then you’re in for a fright. Everything here is different, the bumps, cambers, curb height and general handling around these tracks are greatly different and far more realistic. The best way to approach a circuit that you think you know is to forget everything - cornering speeds, grip levels, everything! Because they are all different here, they are faster, stickier, and bumpier so be prepared for a very real experience.

Multiplayer consists of four different game modes ‘Pole Position’ which is a twenty minute qualifying session where the winner is the player with the fastest time. ‘Sprint’, this is a single three lap race with random cars and grid slots. An ‘Endurance race’ consisting of a twenty percent race length track with dynamic weather, random grid slot and one pit stop, and lastly the ‘Online Grand Prix’ complete with a fifteen minute qualifying session and a seven lap race with dynamic weather and a pit stop. A mode to suit all moods and an enjoyable experience when shared with other serious racers.

The graphics on this game are very good with the detail that has gone into each car short of amazing. It is evident that the development team really benefited from having technical assistance from a current F1 driver and it seems the information he was able to provide has really come though adding to all aspects of this game. The “dynamic” weather system is one of the best weather systems in any racing game to date. Coming out of the La Source hairpin and up Eau Rouge with the rain pissing down is truly breath taking, you cannot see where you are going because there is water streaming off your screen and the car in front has disappeared into a cloud of mist, and you know there is a corner coming, but where? Just like the real thing! The audio is realistic, perhaps a bit too real… take my advice on this - go into the settings and turn the engine noise down! Your ears will thank you for it! Although each car has its own sound, after a while it just bores into your head and this being the dominant sound for most of the game, it just might drive you mad!

Granted the customization option or car selection do not have the same easy appeal as Forza or Gran Turismo but then again you wouldn't by Fifa and bitch about not being able to play as the NY Jets would you? Comparing this game to any other would be like comparing Doom to Modern Warfare – yes, they are both FPS games but they don’t share the same level of involvement. That said, Codemasters have omitted a few things that would have been nice to see and many race heads would perhaps expect in a formula one race - no formation lap before you start the race, no nutter running on the track with his ballsack flying in the wind and no safety car! I suppose they have to keep something in the bag for upcoming patches / F1 2011.There are also many bugs with the most serious being a corruption to save files which the developer is aware of and is addressing. There are also other small issues scattered throughout the game but future patches are promised and the problems should be corrected in time.

F1 2011 is not perfect and is really just for the F1/Petrol head fans. Casual race fans may find it fun initially but could soon be put off by the range and complexity of technical options. That said it is a high quality racer for the eyes and for the thumbs, personally I love it! True, I am a confessed petrol head and love nothing better than a hi octane experience, throw in a few pedestrians or even zombies and it would be nirvana… but as it stands the only thing better than watching the Grand Prix on TV is being in it and this is the closest many of us will ever get. Pound for pound this is the best racing game out there.

Buy it, love it, smell the rubber!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SpiderMan: Shattered Dimensions

Shattered Dimensions


Xbox 360

Ok web slingers here we go with the latest instalment from the folks at Marvel and Activision/Beenox. That’s right, one of comics most exploited characters is back on our screens in this little dimension hopping adventure. So let’s put on the tight latex suit and standard face coverings so we can swing right into it... No, not the Gimp suit! The Spidy suit, all four of em!

Spidy has made a balls of things by mistakenly creating four dimensions, this accident sets off your quadrupole adventure of webbed mayhem. The objective of the game is to search through the four new dimensions and find pieces of a mystic tablet to save reality before it all goes pop, right so no pressure then Spidy! Cross dressing has never been so heroic, you will get to be the Classic Neighborhood Spidy that we all know and love/hate so well, the 'Noir' Spidy of a by gone age who is a bit of a bad ass. There is Ultimate Spidy in his cool black S&M looking spandex and the least popular, Spidy 2099 who is a arrogant cock! All have their own dimension and surroundings to fit their persona's and all in all its an interesting concept. During these various themed levels you will face a heap of spider-mans favorite bosses along the way, which is cool. Throw in the obligatory hidden spiders and collectibles scattered about, and you more or less have a typical spider-man game but be warned, this is not the Spidy game you are used to playing not by a long webbed shot. That’s right, feel the Spidy senses tingling, anyone hoping for a nice big city that's free to run around in is going to be really, really, disappointed! It’s A to B stuff, the sandbox format is gone in the bin. Booooo!! But that doesn't mean its a crap game... or does it?

Game play is fast, you’re thrown into the action straight away, from the moment you start the level you are corralled down a linear path, there is nowhere to go but forward. You meet and chase Spidy's first Nemesis 'Kraven the Hunter' through out the level, eventually ending up in a jungle based thunder dome arena. This begins the first boss battle of the game. After wearing down Kraven's health something new and interesting happens, you go into a first person view for a punch up during the last moment of the final fight. You move the left and right analogue sticks for punching and dodging, a bit like EA's boxing games of late. This was a really nice surprise that is very well executed and is a pretty fresh feature to this type of game and probably one of the games better qualities. That said, all boss battles follow this format, they are rinse and repeat affairs - find the weak spot, hit it, hide, hit it again etc... Next!!

The general formula is also the same all the way through each level, beat up the weak bad guys, beat up the strong bad guys, beat up the stronger bad guys, fight the boss, rescue the civilians, then beat up all the bad guys again, then beat the boss... Again! Arg!
Initially this is fun for each level but eventually it looses its excitement and becomes a routine affair.
The controls in general are straight forward enough, but the overloading on some buttons can cause a bit of finger frustration. The targeting system isn't great and causes issues when trying to quick zip to surfaces but you end up swinging into the enemies target area instead, its just poorly done. What was wrong with the old system Spidy... WHAT!!??

The level design is boring and lazy, the designers need to hung upside down in shame and covered in web-goo I recon, how could they come up with this when they had four strong individual characters and four different versions of New York to play with, all with four different time periods to pour over it all? Tut, tut! Not to mention some past Spidy games as inspiration that were of a high quality. It's a missed opportunity to improve on previous games rather than to reboot it poorly but I guess that was a gamble they were willing to risk... unfortunately!

Visually its not bad, graphics are not ground breaking by any stretch of the imagination but having the four different dimensions with their own “unique style” was a nice touch and a solid idea. However its all a bit overwhelming on the orbs, mixing bright colours in one dimension with cell shading for another then to the dark and dirty style of the next, it’s a bit of a messed up mind fuck. Although it is trying to give contrast between levels it just makes it visually inconsistent and confusing. I felt that it falls short of what the developers were trying to achieve.

The audio just meanders along like some depressed worker looking forward to a day in the mines, it does what it does just enough to get by. Ok, so Spider man himself has been voiced by 4 different actors giving Spidy a “unique” quality each time and our favourite web head has also been armed with all the smart answers you would come to expect but after a while it just blends into monotony and repetition. The only really cool thing is having Stan “The Man” Lee as narrator but even then you’re looking for the skip button.

This game is a fun filler at best, after you complete the game it will sit on the shelf never to be touched again. That’s of course if you could be arsed to even finish it. Personally I like to finish every game I start, but even this is going to push me to my limits, and trust me I have played some doozers in my time... 'Spider-man Shattered dimensions' is a level based platformer that unfortunately offers very little new to the genre. The early novelties soon run out of steam and you just start ploughing through it, perhaps real Spidy heads will enjoy it just because of its brand but not for its merits as a game. I can tell you this, if I had spent my hard earned cash on it, I‘d be very pissed off.

Rent it, play it, forget it.