What Treachery Is This?

Originally Posted: April 08, 2008 

The two God Of War games on PS2 were visually stunning and evenly paced action adventures that set a high standard of gaming and kick started the PS2 as it approached the end of it’s lifespan.

The idea of a handheld prequel had left me feeling slightly uneasy. It could be another fantastic experience with Kratos but there was a nagging fear that it might turn out to be rubbish, like so many prequels.

I can allay those fears right now with a bold claim – God Of War: Chains Of Olympus is the best game I have played on PSP. I’m not saying it’s the most in-depth or has any new radical features, just that it was a lot of fun to play and has been my favourite gaming experience on the PSP so far.

Kratos, the lead character (and God Of War), has done bad things to many people – on the battlefield and just in general. He offers to serve the Gods of Olympus (Zeus/Hades etc) and in return they will erase his pain at the memories of what he has done.

The PSP game starts out in familiar territory – being sent by the Gods to sort out a mess and rescue a city. This involves lots of the hacking and slashing that have become the games trademark. As the game progresses Kratos proceeds through several places trying to work out who has caused all the problems going on, with several great boss battles and lots of the ‘match the button press’ kills that make the game so enjoyable.

The controls are simple and transfer directly from the PS2 with the face buttons as jump, interact, light attack and heavy attack – and then used again in conjunction with the L and R buttons for combos and magic respectively.

The game is stunning graphically – easily the most impressive on PSP and the developers have pushed the envelope on it. However this brings me on to the only downside of the game – it’s short. Very short. I finished this (albeit on Easy mode) in around 4 hours. Possibly this is due to the squeeze for the graphics but a few more hours would’ve been great.

Overall this is an essential purchase for any PSP owner and while it is on the short side I would rather play a great 4 hour game than a slightly disappointing, drawn out 8 hour one!

SCORE: 9/10

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FIRE UP THE QUATTRO!

Originally Posted: February 11, 2008

Well Ashes To Ashes, the follow up to the superb ‘Life On Mars’, started last week and what a great opening episode.

Gene Hunt was back to his best, shouting abuse all round and the like: “Fire up the Quattro” absolute genius.

Hopefully they’ll be able to maintain it the way they did with Life On Mars, Keeley Hawes was pretty good – you just have to remember that Alex Drake isn’t the same character as Sam Tyler!

Finally getting close to the end of Rainbow Six Vegas, tracked the terrorists down to the Hoover Dam – which I feel is about to end in some quality gun-play!

Should finish it in time to pick up the second game, which is on Pre-Order for next month

Oh and Harry Hill’s TV Burp is the funniest thing on the box at the moment – no question!

2008: Stuff To Look Forward To!

Originally Posted: January 02, 2008

Well it looks like 2008 is going to be a great year for entertainment! There are loads of films and games coming out so I thought I’d give you all a heads up on what I’m looking forward to

Film-wise my biggest expectation comes from Be Kind Rewind, in which two video store workers (Mos Def and Jack Black) accidentally wipe all the videos in the shop and go about re-creating them on the blank VHS’. The trailer is great and I think this will be a very funny film.

Sticking with comedy Semi Pro with Will Ferrell also looks excellent – kind of like an X-Rated version of Dodgeball. Ferrell usually comes up trumps so I’m keeping a keen eye on this one.

Honourable mentions in the popcorn blockbuster stakes must go to Iron Man, which I thought would be terrible but the trailer has convinced me otherwise, and the new Indiana Jones (Indy And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull). Even the title gets the Indy theme music flowing in my mind!

Cloverfield looks intriguing – seemingly a ‘Godzilla-style’ monster attack movie. The trailer is great and raises interest so I’m hoping it won’t be a giant let down!

Also the movie of the book ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife,’ which I think could be brilliant. The book was unexpected for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully the big screen adaptation will work.

Moving on to Games and the big one for me this year has to be Ghostbusters.

I know everyone will say GTA IV and I agree to some degree but when I found out the Ghostbusters game was confirmed and that they had the whole original cast I almost wet myself with joy. It seems to be in safe hands with Sierra as well – finally I can be a Ghostbuster!

Obviously GTA IV as I mentioned above, I think the delay will do it good – we all saw what happened when PES was rushed out.

Then of course there is Metal Gear Solid 4, which should be fantastic – all those amazingly long cut scenes in HD, only kidding. The AI should be better with the extra power of the PS3 so hopefully it will throw up some interesting situations.

Little Big Planet looks like brilliant fun, as does Mercenaries 2 – which seems to involve blowing lots of buildings up with rocket launchers… sweet.

Having played the demo of The Club I feel a lot more confident. I didn’t think the trailer looked that good to be honest but when you’re actually there with your combo meter draining away desperately looking for someone else to shoot it was very much fun. And also it’ll be a relief to be someone other than the Russian geezer.

Another huge one, although it’s not yet been confirmed for 2008, is Resident Evil 5. Already running into problems because of it’s African setting (apparently it’s not cool to kill the zombies/voodoo dudes because they are black? But it was fine in the last game for them to be Spaniards? Jeez, if it’s set in Africa and the zombies are black I’ll shoot them, it’s not because they are black we’re shooting them!! ) this should be an amazing game. After the genius of Resi Evil 4 Konami wouldn’t dare drop the ball on this one.

On the TV we have the new series of Primeval to look forward to (yes the special effects are pony and Hannah from S Club is always in her pants but apart from that it’s cool) and I will be continuing my King Of Queens marathon (midway through season 6 as we speak!).

My main two picks are the second series of Heroes – which was without doubt the best thing on TV last year.

And also the third series of My Name Is Earl… talk about leaving it on a (slightly depressing) cliffhanger. As soon as it finished I wanted to know what happened next! And it will be interesting to see Charmed’s Alyssa Milano starring alongside Jason Lee as well.

So there you have it, a few picks for 2008 for you.

Oh and Happy New Year!

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune… QUALITY!

Originally Posted:  November 28, 2007 

Was stunned to discover I’d completely overlooked the Playstation Store a few days ago when a friend tipped me off about a demo of the highly anticipated Uncharted: Drakes Fortune.

I knew there was a Playstation Store but for some reason it never occurred to me that there might be free stuff on it!

*WARNING* This demo takes (literally) hours to load so may be worth leaving your PS3 on overnight to download it.

So anyway the game loads up and you get a great looking cut scene of you and your partner flying a small plane which gets shot down over the jungle. You get seperated and the level begins.

Pretty much just like that – you are on your own in the middle of a beautiful jungle. Well, we all know looks aren’t everything but my word this game looks amazing. I run chest high through a stream, brilliant water effects but what got me was that his clothes were wet after he got out for the next few minutes! It looked fantastically real.

Enough about the looks, I wouldn’t be praising this game at all if the gameplay was shoddy, which I’m pleased to say it wasn’t.

There were a couple of bits involving climbing up to higher sections to progress. The climbing mechanic is great and the character animation looks convincing. It really felt as if the guy was jumping from ledge to ledge. Not one single ‘comedy’ event happened during that bit which was nice. Usually the character stumbles blindly off the edge of.a ledge you can’t see because of a dodgy camera angle etc.

As you make your way through the jungle you encounter bad guys who are taken out with R1, using L1 to aim. All sounds complex but it soon becomes natural.

One thing I did initially have a few problems with was the cover system. Circle pushes you back to back with whatever object/wall is in front of you. Then you have to hold aim and fire as usual. Took me a few tries of painfully trying to keep circle held as well to realise you only need to PRESS circle to do this not hold it!!

The baddies go down theatrically in movie style – but just a quick point for the developers… One head shot is usually enough to kill someone.

The AI seems to be fairly good – although there were a few ‘Kamakazi’ bad guys who left their cover to charge straight to where I was.

The close quarters combat was ace. Using combinations of triangle, square and circle (seemingly in whatever order you want) you can unleashed a volley of punches, elbows, kicks etc that can disarm or knock out your opponent! Makes Heavenly Swords ‘press square three times for a combo’ look a bit cack.

I didn’t actually finish the demo (just joined a PES league and needed some practice!) so I will report back if I uncover any more features or points of interest.

Overall very impressed – especially as this is just a demo. This is one game I will definitely be picking up when it comes out.

As games become more developed and move further into the realms of HD our enjoyment of games is going to increase greatly – we will find ourselves even more attached to the characters and we will start to (hopefully) see more game directors come to the fore like their film counterparts. At the moment the only one that springs to mind is the ever genius Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame.

As that starts to happen, hold on to your hats folks – ’cause we’re in for one hell of a ride!

iPod M.I.A

Originally Posted: November 28, 2007

I have found myself in a sort of musical no-mans land this week, having left my ipod at my mum and dads whilst visiting them at the weekend.  😥

Now I felt a pang of disappointment when I realized I’d forgotten to pick it up but thought it wouldn’t be a problem, they could return it when they came this weekend.

What I wasn’t expecting was how much I’ve missed my shiny black jukebox.

Now I have to sit listening to other people nattering on (either to a fellow pessanger or into their mobile) when I would normally be observing the view from the window accompanied by Dio or perhaps some Wallis Bird.

Being someone that loves music I’m always chucking my ipod on when I travel to/from work, it’s been two days of the longest journeys of my life.

And I missed out on my usual post-gig routine – whenever I see a gig I make sure I have the bands latest album on my ipod to revist on the way home. Imagine my horror Monday afternoon when I realised I wouldn’t have any Queens Of The Stone Age on the way home after the (frankly great) gig.

As I write this on the train I’ve got some bint shouting her head off in a typical Swanley brogue: “I’m aht all weekend mahm” she’s yelling repeatedly like some demented Amy Winehouse-a-like. I’ll be honest, none of this usually bothers me; with my little earphones in, nodding along to my music.

Right now I’m willing to push her off and shut the doors behind her – so a word to the wise, music lovers – for goodness sake make sure you have your ipod (or other musical device) with you at all times when taking public transport. Not only for your own sanity but the safety of those around you who may end up being dumped off the train while you hum “Ace Of Spades” to yourself.  👿

Get Your Motor Running…

Originally Posted: November 15, 2007

Well it’s old school rules this week as I’ve been getting stuck into Road Rash 2 on the PSP while travelling to and from work.

What a game, fantastic gameplay, even if the graphics haven’t dated that well.

It’s one of gaming’s great feelings – as you fly past an opponent and swing a chain at their head… oh happy days. *Sighs*  😀

I’ve managed to save up enough cash to get the non-nitro version of the bike I always wanted:

Oh yes – now I just need to get enough cash to upgrade to the one with nitro and I’ll be a happy ‘rasher.’

Sadly at the moment I’m haemorrhaging cash because I keep wrecking my bike.

The races have gone from 6 miles to 12 miles and have started to get quite tactical – should you get involved in fighting opponents or just try to motor on by?

These are the dilemmas I face amongst my fellow commuters on my journey’s in and out of London.

I was thinking the other day this is a game that deserves to be re-made and while I think it could benefit from a next gen touch up, I’m starting to wonder whether some games are best left alone…

Whammy Bars, Snapped Strings, Jaeger And Hustling Girls…

Originally Posted: November 08, 2007

Went to the launch party for Guitar Hero 3 last night. Held in Hoxton at the Bar and Grill – very nice.

Luckily we were down there fairly early so managed to get a few games in.

What can I say? The graphics are obviously a big step up, the characters look more realistic and less cartoony. All the rest is same old same old – just looks prettier in HD.

The real highlight was the new Battle mode. Basically it’s the same as Pro Face Off but instead of Star Power you receive ‘tricks’ that can be used against your opponent.

These vary from the annoying but managable Amp Overload which makes the notes flicker right through to the almost impossible Lefty Flip (or Righty Flip if you’re already a lefty), which reverses your fret as you’re playing!

These bonuses only last ten seconds or so but it gets really tactical. Best thing is to save them until your opponent is hitting a few stars then hit them with a trick to stop them getting one for themselves!

Other good ones are snapping a string on their guitar (leaving them to repeatedly hit the corresponding button to fix it), breaking their Whammy (resulting in some frantic Whammying to get your guitar back online), the trick that increases their difficulty up a notch and one that doubles the notes they have to play (that one was ridiculous (in a good way) even on Medium).

They had girls coming round with Jaegermeister so I gave it a try – to be honest I wasn’t impressed but I think that’s more to do with the fact that that type of drink is best suited when you’ve had 6 or 7 drinks not the 4 beers I’d had.

Also one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages was this girl who completely hustled this guy. The bloke had been on there for ages and was really cocky – strutting and the like. She persuaded his mate to let her have a go and was like ‘what button is it to start?’ to the cocky guy, ‘I’ll just leave it on hard if that’s what you’re doing’ etc.

She absolutely pasted him – we were almost doubled up with laughter at our table. She barely missed a note and he trudged off with his guitar strap firmly between his legs afterwards. Absolutely brilliant and possibly the best hustle I’ve ever seen!  😀

After all that Guitar Hero 3 has gone from being a possible purchase to a must have – if only for the Battle Mode!

Veitchy and Howell – watch out because lunchtimes may never be the same again! 👿