Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Demo Impressions (PSP)

As far as I know this is currently only available on the Japanese PSN store but fortunately a friend had it downloaded and popped it onto my memory stick.

Sadly my knowledge of Japanese is non existent so I can tell you nothing about the story or, in fact, anything that happened during the demo. 😆

What I can tell you was that the graphics were fantastic – I would say better than PS2 😮 – and that using the face buttons as a sort of ‘right stick’ like Resistance: Retribution is a great move.

It took me ages to get out of the first deserted beach area due to lack of translation – my Codec was going off consistently but I had no idea how to answer it 😆 Eventually I worked out what I was doing and moved on to the next section.

There were soldiers here and it was a case of take down or be taken down. Stealth was the order of the day but unfortunately the waiter must’ve written my order down incorrectly because a misplaced shot alerted everyone and their mother to my location. 😦

After a particularly frantic shoot out in which I knocked out every opponent non lethally with tranquilliser darts 😎

Upon finishing that area we moved to some outbuildings/warehouses in the jungle where, with my new found Snake skills, I managed to take out every guard without an alert 😎 Took me a while though 😆

Next up was a heavily guarded tank that I am still yet to defeat and I suspect it might be a part of the game that you might need to get involved in co-op with someone else.

Nevertheless after playing this Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is a no brainer for me – I’ll definitely be picking up a copy when it arrives on PSP next year.

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GregHorrorShow Book Awards 2009

Being completely honest I don’t read as many books as I should, I would guess about 10 this year, so it’s been tough to put together as lengthy an award list as for the other media.

However, I’ve come up with a few categories and despite only having read one book in a couple of them, those books chosen are ones I would recommend.

As per usual this list is from what I’ve READ this year, not from what’s been released in the calendar year.

Links to reviews in the book titles where possible.

So here we go…

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BEST AUTOBIOGRAPHY

WINNER: My Word Is My Bond – Roger Moore

I’m not a James Bond fan but even I enjoyed this roguish journey through Roger Moore’s career. Moore’s easy listening style means it feels like an intimate evening with the great man, sitting round the fireplace as he tells tale after tale.

RUNNERS UP:

Wonderful Tonight – Patti Boyd

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BEST FACTUAL

WINNER: World In Six Songs – Daniel Levitin

No runner up here as I’ve been lax on my factual reading this year but World In Six Songs is worthy of high praise nonetheless.

This book explores the link between music and civilisation – how music helped create the world we live in, dating right back to our earliest ancestors. If you’re interested in music then this is one to check out.

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BEST FICTIONAL UNIVERSE:

WINNER: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Seth Graeme-Smith

A really inventive novel that mixes Austen with Zombie mayhem, the universe created by Graeme-Smith (with help from Austen’s original) was fantastic to read through and thoroughly enjoyable.

RUNNERS UP:

World War Z – Max Brooks

The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

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BEST FICTIONAL CHARACTER:

WINNER: Lizzy Bennet (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Seth Graeme-Smith)

It’s another award for Seth Graeme-Smith as his version of ‘Lizzy’ Bennet was a brilliant character to read through. With her underlying Austen personality in place, it was Graeme-Smith’s added ninja skills that brought her further to life.

RUNNERS UP:

Death (The Book Thief – Markus Zakai)

Alice Maxwell (Cell – Stephen King)

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BEST FICTION

WINNER: World War Z – Max Brooks

 

2009 appears to have been the year of the Zombie as far as my reading habits have gone. Nipping a Seth Graeme-Smith clean sweep in the bud is Max Brooks, with his disturbingly realistic portrayal of how events may go down if there really was a Zombie outbreak. Should be read by everyone.

RUNNERS UP:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Seth Graeme-Smith

The Book Thief – Markus Zukai

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THE GREGHORRORSHOW ‘COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN’ AWARD FOR GREAT WRITING 2009

WINNER: ‘Cell’ by Stephen King

I read this in three days while on holiday, it completely hooked me. The beginning is one of the most finely crafted openings I’ve ever read. Sadly the latter parts of the book couldn’t maintain the standard, which is why it didn’t get any other nominations.

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So there we go, that’s the first batch of awards handed out. More media (TV/Film and the big one… Games) to follow.

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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – Beta Impressions (PS3)

This is war.

No seriously, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 gives you that feeling that you are fighting for territory.

That every kill counts in the grander scale of things, that while you cautiously push forward or even make a daring renegade dash for the enemies base that you are making difference. 😎

I’d been playing and enjoying the multiplayer on Modern Warfare 2 for a few weeks when I stumbled upon a link to a site offering access to the beta for Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

Needless to say I leapt at the chance.

Graphically the game is stunning, despite the level being mainly desert – it has three sections to fight through, each with a slightly different flavour – and the destruction of buildings is something to marvel at (not for too long though or someone will kill you :wink:).

The gameplay is as you’d expect, likewise with the controls – fairly standard.

They seem to have pitched it between Killzone 2’s more realistic heavy handling and Modern Warfare 2’s almost comedic light handling, which is (in my opinion) just about the right balance.

The inclusion of a selection of vehicles (tanks/jeeps/quads etc) is a great touch that adds to the proceedings.

There are a few problems – mainly a seemingly invisible force pushing you back (could be done on purpose if it’s supposed to be desert wind but still a bit annoying) and also the occasional glitch leaving me unable to walk or stuck trying to get in a door (which I was also actually having in the finished product of Modern Warfare 2 :mad:)

However it’s the beta so I’m guessing those will be straightened out by the time of release.

You get a few classes to choose from, all regular stuff (Medic, Engineer etc) – not sure how many different classes there will be in the final product.

However it’s the aforementioned destruction damage that means that nearly every round is different.

You can’t have a regular hiding place, at least not for long, because chances are if there is a hint that you’re there tank shells or grenades will destroy whatever cover you have.

For the record I have to also say that the beta is only one level and one game mode! 😯 Yes, it’s this good and that is all I’ve played.

I honestly haven’t touched Modern Warfare 2 since I played this.

To give this some perspective I offer a further viewpoint as well as my own.

A work colleague who is also on this beta said, having played multiplayer of both games, “I don’t think I’ll bother picking up Modern Warfare 2 now, might as well play this, it’s much better.”

I cannot praise it enough and I just hope it can maintain this level of awesomeness until, and beyond, it’s release in March 2010.

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EA – A Serious Return To Form

Electronic Arts was a powerhouse of great gaming during my formative gaming years. Classics such as Road Rash, Desert Strike, FIFA, the Mutant League series, PGA Tour Golf and James Pond to name a few, were always innovative and a delight to play.

But somehow over time EA became the ‘bad guy’ – the heartless corporation who were happy to churn out yearly updates of average games, often with little or no improvement.

Suddenly we had Burnout, Need For Speed, Harry Potter, SSX, the Def Jam fighting games 😡 and a host of annual sports updates. The difference being that these games (possibly excluding a few Burnout titles) were just not that great.

They started buying smaller, rival studios and created big rifts in the industry by often closing the studios down and taking their best talent.

And then all of a sudden things changed a few years ago – as well as the usual updates they announced two games which turned people’s impressions of EA on their head: Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge.

Two games which were highly polished, innovative, produced to an extremely high level… and were original ideas. Not a sequel or prequal – or even a film tie in. Just cleverly made great games.

Now I’m the first to admit that maybe Mirror’s Edge had it’s faults but that isn’t the issue here – what I’m talking about is EA’s willingness to take a shot at launching a new brand, based on something no-one had tried before.

Brutal Legend is another fine example – while the game appears to have tanked at retail, which is a shame, EA backed it all the way with marketing and promo. Not all of their new ideas come off so to speak.

The other shift was that the year updates, sporting especially, got good again. The Fight Night series was a serious return to form, culminating in Round 4’s superb simulation of the sport. Likewise FIFA – which has now overtaken long standing champion PES as the best football game around.

With Rock Band they are looking to take on Activision (the new ‘bad guys’ apparently) and Guitar Hero, a battle which will rage for years to come.

The standard of games forthcoming as well looks really positive with Army Of Two: 40th Day, Dante’s Inferno, Mass Effect 2 (not for us PS3 folks… yet :wink:) and Battlefield Bad Company 2 (the Beta of which is truly stunning) all arriving in the first quarter of 2010!

When I think back to 5 or 6 years ago it seems insane that EA of all people would be pushing the envelope and delivering top quality, fresh and innovative titles – long may it continue!

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Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – Review (PS3)

For the first time in a long while I have not been sucked into the hype for a big triple A game.

I just wasn’t excited about Modern Warfare at all – a mixture of not getting on with the first title and a general disappointment from the multiplayer footage I’d seen.

Upon firing up the single player mode I was struck by how good the graphics were and after a quick run through the training camp I was on my way.

The campaign mode sees you take on the role of several characters and while the story is full of big set pieces, the lack of depth in any of the characters you control leads to a sense of confusion at times.

This is also one of the games biggest weaknesses – without any sort of attachment to any of the characters it was difficult to care about what was going on as I worked my way through set piece after set piece.

The set pieces themselves were great when they worked but on the whole were another weakness in my opinion.

Take the snow mobile ride. Now I know someone who did it in one flowing attempt and thought it was amazing. It took me 3 or 4 goes to nail it – on one occasion failing right on the last jump as I wasn’t going quick enough – and was just a disappointing pain in the ass. 😦

I just feel sections like that should be very hard to mess up, not knocking into one tree kills you (as realistic as that is).

Overall the single player is a bit of an enjoyable mess, with a story that is all over the place.

But no-one is going to be buying Modern Warfare 2 for the campaign mode… it’s all about the multiplayer.

And it’s a pretty good experience.

It’s been patched 4 times in the opening two weeks after release which I think may be a record – and it certainly struggles at times.

I’ve been kicked off because ‘the server is full’, disconnected from lobbies, been unable to party up, got stuck in doorways, had the cpu move for me when I was trying to stay still and had general connection issues.

Having said all that the actual gameplay is polished, and while it took a while to get used to the speed of moving (having been used to the slower Killzone 2), Modern Warfare 2 is fantastic fun online.

They have incorporated some features from other games and improved their own stuff from the previous installment.

The best thing for me are the Deathstreaks, where instead of being rewarded for killing opponents you get a bonus for dying. Very helpful if you’re having a bad round or just starting out. 🙂

Modern Warfare 2 is a vast multiplayer experience, with a ton of unlocks and perks to get over time. It’s a rich and deep set of abilities and weapons, which will keep you busy for a while to come.

As an overall package though Modern Warfare 2 is a lopsided beast.

The single player lacks any depth and would be no great loss to skip and the multiplayer, while fun and engaging, is extremely glitchy and suffers from connection problems.

Better than I thought then but not quite the second coming everyone was raving about.

Rating: 8/10

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Dead Man Running – Review (Film)

Dead Man Running

Dead Man Running tells the story of Nick (Tamer Hassan), his colleague Bing (Danny Dyer) and their desperate struggle to raise £100k to pay back the loan that a gangster, Thigo (50 Cent) has called in.

Nick is taken for a chat with Thigo, who tells him he has 24 hours to come up with the cash or he’ll have him killed. And so starts a fairly madcap adventure that focuses on Nick and Bing’s friendship and the crazy journey they undertake to pay off the money.

I’m not a massive fan of the whole cockney gangster genre – sure I liked ‘Lock, Stock’ and even preferred ‘Snatch’ – but I always find these types of films since then to be fairly poor.

Dead Man Running 2

Dead Man Running is easily the best film of this type since Snatch but it doesn’t quite match up to Guy Ritchie’s films lofty status as national treasures.

50 Cent is pretty good in an understated role and Tamer Hassan is believable as Nick. Danny Dyer is his usual on screen persona and Brenda Blethyn is excellent as Nick’s Mum.

The story, of course, isn’t believable for one minute but it is great fun and well paced – clocking in at 90 minutes means it never drags.

I really enjoyed Dead Man Running and with the right marketing campaign it could be a successful film, particularily in the DVD market as a bit of a cult favourite.

Rating: 7/10

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To Demo Or Not To Demo? That Is The Question…

Modern Warfare 2

I had been meaning to write a piece on demos and then the guys from Epic Battle Axe discussed it on their weekly podcast so I thought I’d better pull my finger out and get on with it!

Infinity Ward’s decision not to release a demo before launch for Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 struck me as odd – I’m usually very suspicious of a game that doesn’t have a demo.

Got something to hide? Just not quite as good as everyone thinks? (Hi Prototype :smile:)

For sure Modern Warfare 2 probably doesn’t need a demo pre-release of the game with the hype it’s had but in most cases a lack of demo is often a sign of a weak game.

PES 2010 DemoPES 2010 Demo: Unfinished

And sometimes even putting out a demo just makes things worse, especially as the demo is usually months old and sometimes not finished properly (hang your head in shame PES 2010).

But there is also a flip side to this argument. There have also been a few games where the demo just hasn’t done the game justice.

Take for example Batman: Arkham Asylum – one of my favourite games this year. The demo wasn’t great.

The makers were obviously trying to show off both the combat and stealth sections but for some reason taken out of the context of the game it didn’t really work.

Batman2Batman Arkham Asylum: Too good to fit into a demo?

I think some people were put off by that demo but hopefully the universally high review scores will have made them think again.

My good friend Hollow Snake always says he thought the Infamous demo had it right – give you all the powers and let you run riot.

Show what you could have if you get the game and stick with it. I can certainly see the logic but I’ve often wondered if that would overwhelm more casual gamers, who might be looking to get into a new title?

inFAMOUSinFAMOUS: The way a demo should be done?

I know of at least one person that couldn’t be bothered to even finish the demo as there were too many control instructions.

I often prefer games that give you the first level (or some of it) to play through, like Killzone 2 or Brutal Legend. (Having said that I think Brutal Legend’s demo is pretty misleading – making you think it’s a hack ‘n’ slash rather than an RTS game)

Either way I’m glad that we are now given a chance to easily access demos and I am firmly in favour of them. To be honest they have been one of the best things about the PSN for me.

So what do you think? Does a demo often do more harm than good? Should it be a grass roots beginning experience or an all out glorious spree of the game’s potential?

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