Red Dead Redemption – Review (PS3)

 

Rockstar Games have a history of making great, innovative products so my interest is always spiked when I know they’ve been involved in a game.

Red Dead Revolver on the PS2 was a title they inherited when Capcom gave up on it and after adding some finishing touches a very decent western third person game arrived.

So having had a number of years to come up with a next-gen version of the wild west would Rockstar’s pedigree come into question? Or would they deliver the goods?

Undoubtedly they have delivered with Red Dead Redemption. I don’t recall a sandbox game with such a fascinating and well realised world. The way the world around you continues regardless is reminiscent of GTA games but everything here just makes you feel a part of something larger.

Let me start by saying that this isn’t a perfect game (if there ever can be such a thing?). There are glitches here and there, with some people reporting a whole host of problems. Personally I only saw a handful of graphical glitches (someone getting stuck in a wall etc) and only one ‘game-breaker’, where I could not interact with anything in the world at all (reloading my last save thankfully got everything back to normal).

The duelling system, while great fun, is never properly explained in full.

Some of the missions do feel a little samey at times but the variety of AI in your enemies, as well as your colleagues, keeps things different a lot of the time.

The positives are numerous, for one the story, voice acting and characterisation in Red Dead Redemption is fantastic. This is up there with the Uncharted series for me and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

The game is well paced and the final third – I certainly don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t go into detail – is quite a bold move that seemed to upset a few people but was something I thought was superb.

There is so much to do in the world that it is crazy – I’m not a big player of cards but I found myself spending 40/50 minutes at a time playing poker or blackjack. Or horseshoes. Or arm wrestling. The list is huge.

One of the highlights for me was the handling of the side missions. You have a set amount of ‘Stranger’ missions on the map that you can do but alongside them random events will happen as you make your way through the game world. Someone man handles a prostitute out of the saloon into the street in front of you and threatens her with a knife – do you intervene? Or leave them to it? There’s no right or wrong answer. Occasionally these were repeated but I loved the way Rockstar put them in there.

A quick nod as well to the music and soundtrack which is brilliant and really helps to set the mood.

Graphically the game is amazing, with a ridiculously great day/night cycle and some nice weather effects. Some of the views from up high are fantastic and the character models on the whole are impressive.

The multiplayer is split between your usual deathmatch/capture the flag etc and free roam mode – where you and your friends can posse up and take on AI controlled (or other human) gangs, go hunting for rare animals or even just shoot some towns up and get the law after you.

It’s fun online and with 6 free DLC co-op missions you’ll always find something to do.

Red Dead Redemption is a huge game with a lot of extra distractions to get involved in, whether on your own or online. I finished it in around 24 hours of gameplay but that included the odd side mission here and there and plenty of time playing games and ‘relaxing’ in the game world.

It has been a while since a game had me smiling, eyes wide and with goosebumps on my arms at what was unfolding in front of me but Red Dead Redemption managed it. This for me is the best game I have ever played – not an accolade that I use lightly but one that is fully deserved.

Rating 10/10

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Push – Review (Film)

 

Push is set in an alternate world where people with superhuman abilities have been ‘helping’ the US Government since 1945.

Starring Chris Evans as main character Nick Grant and Dakota Fanning as wannabe sidekick Cassie Holmes, Push is a large slice of Sci-Fi pie.

Grant and Holmes both have different abilities – he can move objects with his mind and she is a watcher, someone who has brief visions of the future.

Holmes arrives to collect Grant, despite the fact they’ve never met, following a vision that they would find a case containing $6m. And so a twisty tale of Government evasion and superhuman fighting begins.

Being completely honest I wasn’t expecting much from the film but by the end I was quite impressed.

Dakota Fanning in particular gets her teeth into a great support role and the story never veers too far out of it’s comfort zone. The whole notion of the ‘Pushers’ in the film is a great idea and it’s executed really well.

Push is one of those films that you may never even of heard of but that if you find it on TV one evening you probably won’t switch over.

Rating: 6/10

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GregHorrorShow’s Guide To Gaming – Part 1: The Terms

I’ve often wondered what someone who doesn’t play games would make of a conversation between myself and friends about gaming.

Would they consider it mainly a foreign language as we threw abbreviations and gaming terms into the mix? Or are a lot of the terms self explanatary?

Well, as part of a new feature of basic (but hopefully not insulting :lol:) gaming tips and recommendations I’m going to break down exactly what us gamers are going on about 🙂

Each entry is followed by a Reference Point, which is a game that you can use to see that term in action first hand.

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AI – stands for Artificial Intelligence and refers to the level of intelligence shown by the game’s NPC’s (or Non Playable Characters – see separate NPC entry). If a game is said to have ‘bad AI’ it would mean the NPC’s act, or react, in an unrealistic manner. Likewise a game with good AI would show human-esque response to your actions. (Reference Point: Killzone 2)

Analogue Stick – a thumbstick on the joypad that is used to control movement/direction within the game. Offers 360 degree movement as opposed to the slightly more restrictive D-Pad. (see separate entry for D-Pad)

                                      The Analogue Sticks on the PS3 Pad.

Class – a specific type of character, usually found in online play. These roles usually come with different abilities. For example a Medic can heal other players whereas an Engineer might be able to repair vehicles. (Reference Point: Battlefield Bad Company 2)

D-Pad – short for Directional Pad, this is the part of the joypad that is often used to control movement. Although recently that role is now usually taken by the ‘Analogue Stick’ (see separate entry for Analogue Stick).

First Person – this refers to the viewpoint of the character you control. You view the game from the protagonists point of view. (Reference Point: Mirror’s Edge)

                              Mirror’s Edge: A First Person View.

FPS – stands for First Person Shooter. Normally a warfare game in which you’ll be required to shoot weapons and kill enemies to proceed. (Reference Point: Killzone 2)

Grinding – to ‘grind’ is to repeatedly carry out the same action over and over again to gain XP (see separate entry for XP). Often the domain of RPG games Grinding is usually possible in any game where you are collecting a form of currency to level up (see separate entry for ‘Level Up’) or buy new weapons etc.

HP – Hit Points (or simply Health) is the remaining amount of damage your character can take before losing a life or dying. Can be represented in a number of ways, for example by a decreasing energy bar (Reference Point: Street Fighter IV) or blood splats on the screen (Reference Point: Red Dead Redemption).

HUD – stands for Heads Up Display and refers to the overlay on your screen with information such as your score, remaining health or weapon ammunition. (Reference Point: Bayonetta)

                          Bayonetta: The HUD here shows lots of information for the player.

Invisible Walls – the term given to areas in a game where the character cannot move to but nothing seems to be obstructing them. For example a cliff edge where the character is unable to walk off and instead continues their walking motion but stays on the spot. Usually to help guide the player in linear games they are often seen as breaking the illusion of the game world. (Reference Point: God Of War 3)

Kill Cam – a device activated when you die, usually in an online FPS (see separate entry for FPS) which allows you to see the player that killed you, often giving away their location on the map.  (Reference Point: Modern Warfare 2)

Lag – a problem in online games where the various users internet connections don’t quite match up. This can result in a frustrating delay, or ‘Lag’, for one party where the button they press doesn’t register with the game for a vital few seconds (meanwhile they have usually been killed/beaten by the opposition 😉 )

Leeroy Jenkins – As in ‘I’m gonna go Leeroy in a minute’ or ‘I Leeroy Jenkinsed that.’ To rush headfirst into battle without caring about the consequences. Inspired by the below World Of Warcraft video:

Level Up – to ‘Level Up’ is to increase your characters skill or reputation through play. Usually levelling up will lead to increased skill or bonuses. It is also a badge of honour for your time spent playing the game and a way for others to access your skill level. Tied to XP (see separate ‘XP’ entry) and similarly whilst previously linked to the RPG genre, levelling up is now included in most multiplayer game modes, regardless of genre. (Reference Point: Modern Warfare 2)

Melee – a Melee attack is one carried out at close quarters and usually involves using your weapon as a club as opposed to shooting with it or using hand to hand combat to take down an opponent.

Motion Control – brought to public attention by the Nintendo Wii, Motion Control is a way of controlling the game without using a traditional joypad where the game will base the character movements on the movements you make in real life. Sony and Microsoft have their own versions incoming shortly.

Noob – Someone new to playing games. Often used as a derogatory term for somebody acting stupidly within an online game.

NPC – stands for Non Playable Character, someone in the game world that you have no control over. Usually reserved for single player games, this would be any character in the game world you can interact with but that you do not use as part of the game. (Reference Point: Grand Theft Auto IV)

                                   GTA IV: Roman would be classed as an NPC.

Owned / pwned – to be ‘Owned’ is to be beaten convincingly by an opponent. As in ‘I’m getting owned by this guy.’ Pwned is actually just a typing error as the O key is next to the P key on the keyboard. Resulting in people typing too quickly and putting ‘Pwned’ instead of ‘Owned.’

PSN / XBL – Playstation Network and X-Box Live are the two main format holders online networks. These are the hubs of online play for each console. Here you will log in to play online, download demos and take advantage of various benefits.

QTE – stands for Quick Time Event, whereby the character you control will have their usual control method disabled and you will instead be required to press the corresponding button icon that appears on screen to trigger the next event. Has become a staple way to finish off a boss battle. (Reference Point: God Of War 3)

                                                                                    God Of War 3’s QTE System in action – you must match the direction on the Analogue Stick.

RPG – stands for Role Playing Game. A genre of game where your character begins as a blank slate and as the game progresses you choose the skills your character becomes proficient in. These games normally take up a huge amount of time as they require a big investment in the character. (Reference Point: World Of Warcraft)

JRPG – simply a Japanese Role Playing Game. These are often different from Western RPG’s in terms of story and feel. They have the same general aspects but are usually easy to tell apart from RPG’s. (Reference Point: Final Fantasy 13)

RTS – stands for Real Time Strategy. A genre of gaming that often requires great thought and strategic planning. Often involves war or invasions but is played from the viewpoint of a commander, giving orders etc rather than someone on the battlefield. Not all of these are combat based, some are business or economically based. (Reference Point: Civilisation IV)

Sandbox – a Sandbox game is one that takes place in an environment in which you are free to explore and do whatever you like. This would be opposed to more linear games where the story and levels are played out in tightly designed situations. (Reference Point: Red Dead Redemption)

Spawn (Or Respawn) – to put your player into the game world. This can be when the game starts or following death. Usually following a short time penalty in online play (often between 5 and 10 seconds). As in ‘Hold on, I’m just respawning.’ (Reference Point: Battlefield Bad Company 2)

                                                                             Battlefield Bad Company 2 also gives you the option to respawn at a teammate’s location.

Spawn Camping – To camp, or wait, outside the specific spot where the opposing team spawn back into the game world so that you can kill them immediately. Frowned upon by most of the gaming community but is a big problem in a lot of games. (Reference Point: Modern Warfare 2)

Third Person – a viewpoint whereby you can actually see the entire character you are controlling. (Reference Point: Grand Theft Auto IV)

Trophy – an achievement unlocked by performing a specific act within the game world, set by the makers of the game. These vary greatly from game to game but are recorded all together on your online profile so others can view what you have and haven’t unlocked compared to themselves.

XP (Or EXP) – Experience Points. Most commonly found in RPG games as a way of ‘levelling up’ (see separate ‘Level Up’ entry) your character. Has recently crept into the other genres via multiplayer, where you will now often find yourself being given XP for competing in online modes of the game. (Reference Point: World Of Warcraft)

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So there we go, a look at some of the commonly used gaming terms.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any to add, any you would like explained that I’ve missed or if you’ve spotted any mistakes in the above.

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – Review (Book)

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is one of those books that I’d seen lots of people reading on the train and half dismissed as a mainstream work of fiction that wouldn’t appeal to me (ala The Da Vinci Code).

What a mistake that would’ve been!

This is a book that begins fairly slowly as it sets the scene and then unleashes closely entwined stories upon an unsuspecting reader.

Set in Sweden and telling the story of Mikael Blomkvist, a publisher at Millenium magazine, and Lisbeth Salander, a private investigator, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a great piece of storytelling.

The pacing is superb and Stieg Larsson creates some wonderfully believable characters. Not just the main characters either – the entire supporting cast seems to be very well thought out.

There is plenty going on here alongside the good old fashioned murder mystery. Once this book got going I could not put it down.

It’s uncomfortable in places as it deals with some controversial issues and can be fairly graphic at times. It never seems out of place though and against the rural backdrop most of the book is set in, it makes quite a nice juxtaposition.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is part of a trilogy of books (The Millenium Trilogy) and now I can’t wait to get my hands on the other two books in the series.

Rating 9/10

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PES 2011: Bouncebackability?

After a few years of disappointment, with titles recycling the same animations and commentary, I switched from PES to FIFA.

I documented the change at the time in several blogs, here and here. It was not a switch made with a light heart – after a decade with PES I’d lost heart and FIFA had essentially caught up.

Looking at the latest released gameplay trailer for PES 2011 it seems a lot of the problems I’d had with the game have now been rectified. Check it out:

The issues I had with the game were as follows:

– The computer deciding where I should pass instead of letting me do what I want.

– No control over the through balls.

– Poor, poor goalkeeper AI (repeatedly just pushing the ball into the path of the oncoming striker etc.)

– Bad referee AI

– same animations as last few versions

– The commentary

If they can fix these then perhaps a return to former glories is on the cards.

Now until we have a chance to actually play it I’ll be reserving judgement but the intial signs are very promising and with rumours of an online Master League (Linkage) also making an appearance might my defection to EA’s juggernaught be short lived?

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Bayonetta – Review (PS3)

In Bayonetta you play as a witch who was awakened 20 years ago from a slumber at the bottom of the lake. You have no memory or idea of who you are but with the help of an informant (Enzo) you start off on a supernatural quest to discover your identity.

Along the way you’ll be fighting angels and celestial beings as you work your way through various dimensions.

This is an action adventure game very much in the mould of Devil May Cry and God Of War 3. It’s fast paced and the emphasis is most definitely on Bayonetta – for everything except boss battles you will easily be the most powerful being in the fight.

That doesn’t always mean it’s easy though – quite the opposite – as the game throws various enemy types with different attack patterns at you all at once.

Speaking of difficulty, Bayonetta is possibly the most frustratingly hard game I have played for a long time. And that’s on ‘Normal’. 😮 Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the game and it’s a lot of fun but there were a few sections that just felt unforgiving and after an hour of trying to beat the final boss I ended up having to reduce the difficulty to finish the game. 😦

The story and dialogue, quite frankly, is insane and half the time I didn’t know what the hell was going on. However most of the time I had a smile on my face and I’d rather have a crazy game with imagination than a bland one.

The combat is astoundingly good. Better in my opinion than God Of War or any similar title. There is just so much you can do, with gun attacks on hand & feet (yep, the heels of her shoes are guns), samurai sword, torture attacks (special moves focusing on one enemy – for example magically creating a guillotine and throwing one enemy into it) and climax moves (where Bayonetta’s hair, which is also her costume, flows upwards and forms itself into a massive demon to beat bigger enemies).

Yes you read that last bit right… her HAIR is her costume that can also turn into giant demons. 😕 😆

And that’s not to mention ‘Witch Time’, which is essentially bullet time, activated when you dodge an attack at the last second and can lead to some spectacular attacks on enemies.

One thing I wasn’t keen on was the mixed messages from the game regarding Bayonetta herself. Often portrayed as a sexual object, at times the overtly sexual movement of the character made me cringe – this is clearly a game made by men but while Bayonetta is always meant to be a kick ass heroine she is also there to be ogled by the player.

Tied into that is the fact that at times the dialogue stumbled in ‘Carry On’ territory and what we end up with is a game that’s aware of it’s sexual content and is mainly tongue in cheek but at times that aspect of the story/game just felt like a wrong turn.

Overall Bayonetta is not a game for the feint hearted gamer – this is a real challenge. If you’re looking for a hard, but immensely fun, slog of a game then this could be for you.

You’ll have no idea what’s going on (I ploughed around 15 hours into the game and after finishing it had to search online to work out what had actually happened during all those hours :lol:) but that doesn’t really matter – Bayonetta is all about the combat and the combat is awesome.

Just remember… Dodge is your friend.

Rating: 8/10

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E3 2010 – The GregHorrorShow Wrap Up

 

So E3 has been and gone, leaving us to pick through the huge mass of info and game news that it’s left in it’s wake.

Not all of us were lucky enough to go to the actual show but fortunately Gametrailers.com and the like have managed to bring us footage and interviews from the show.

For a more in-depth look at some of the games from someone that was at E3, check out @Zvolen’s website Beyondthedpad.com

Well there’s a hell of a lot of stuff to get through – so let’s get started!

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MEDAL OF HONOR

Looks pretty interesting, especially in single player. On the multiplayer front it seems very similar to Battlefield, which is a good thing in one way but slightly disappointing in another.

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DEAD SPACE 2

More of the same from Issac Clarke and this is one I can’t wait for. Not a fan of jumpy horror stuff but the whole Dead Space universe is so rich I’m in!

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LITTLEBIGPLANET 2

Make your own games? Sounds like a win to me. Hopefully another decent story mode to work through before downloading loads of great user generated content.

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SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 4

I’m fairly hopeful that this reboot will be decent enough – it looks great but it’s hard to tell without having actually played it. Looking forward to some sort of demo at a later date.

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INFAMOUS 2

Oh Sucker Punch. What have you done to Cole? 😡 The brooding, cool badass of the original has been replaced with a boyband reject – not a good look. Hopefully the game itself will live up to the standard of the first.

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TWISTED METAL

Really pleased about this announcement, been waiting for a new Twisted Metal for a long time and the team based mechanics look solid. Could be very cool indeed.

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KILLZONE 3

Looks like the clash between the ISA and the Helghast continues apace, which is great news for us fans of Killzone. 😎 3D has been added as well, though that isn’t of much interest to me.

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MOTORSTORM APOCALYPSE

I was sceptical about shifting the series to a city but am glad to have been proven wrong. With the option to drive under, over and even through buildings Motorstorm Apocalypse is one to watch out for.

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SPEC OPS: THE LINE

Great trailer huh? Initially shown off back in December, Spec Ops: The Line has stepped up to the plate and looks to have some nice tricks up it’s sleeve.

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ASSASSIN’S CREED – BROTHERHOOD

Wasn’t 100% sure how multiplayer would work in Assassin’s Creed but having seen some of the footage from E3 it seems to be pretty well implemented. Story wise we play as Ezio again which is definitely ok with me.

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GRAN TURISMO 5

Gran Turismo 5 – we’ve been waiting for this for about 6 years 😮 Hyper realistic driving sim – graphics do look truly amazing.

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BULLETSTORM

Was not sold on this game at all previously but the stuff I’ve seen from E3 looks cool as a single player game. Still not interested in this as a multiplayer experience but I’ll wait and see how it develops before making a decision on whether it’s one I’ll pick up.

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HOMEFRONT

Hadn’t heard much about this but I’m a sucker for alternate timelines so this ‘US-has-been-invaded’ story sits well with me. One to watch.

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KINECT / MOVE

Motion control has obviously played a big part at E3 this year with both Microsoft (Kinect) and Sony (Move) looking to gatecrash Nintendo’s (Wii) party. In my opinion Move is already head and shoulders above Kinect, and probably Wii, with regard to proper games… Killzone 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, Heavy Rain (patch), SOCOM 4, Resi Evil 5 and Time Crisis all confirmed. Even if I don’t wanna play them with Move at least the option is there and they are REAL GAMES that don’t involve sports resorts or yoga.

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SOCOM 4

More interested in this than previous instalments, mainly because they have boosted the single player aspect (ie there is one :lol:) and also the fact that via Battlefield: Bad Company 2‘s multiplayer I’ve learnt the value of teamwork. Could be a really good experience.

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DEAD RISING 2

Quite excited to get my hands on this one as the first game was an XBox exclusive and I’ve only heard good things about it. My only concern is will there be enough variation to keep me playing?

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FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS

I lost 25 hours of my life to Fallout 3 – I’ve already pencilled in at least another day for New Vegas 😆

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MORTAL KOMBAT

I’m not a huge fan of fighting games but I loved the original Mortal Kombat and this new reboot is taking it back to the franchise’s darker, gory roots. Expect plenty of fatalities upon release.

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GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER

Like Bulletstorm, I pretty much had no interest in this prior to E3 but the thing that’s hooked me here is the potential for online co-op play. The gadgets look pretty cool as well. 😎

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RAGE

Still not sure on this game – looks like Borderlands? Guess that’s not a bad thing but how many Mad Max type games can you have?

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CRYSIS 2

This looks pretty sweet as a single player experience. Liking the style and the graphics are great.

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PORTAL 2 

VALVE even being at the Sony conference was a shock, especially having Gabe himself up there after all his slagging off of PS3 in the past. But Portal is a hugely respected game so I’ll make sure I work my way through that before approaching the sequel.

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METAL GEAR: RISING

NB. This trailer features graphic sword cutting – avoid if easily offended!

Metal Gear: Rising looked brilliant. Looks like a better version of WET‘s sword mechanics. Raiden as a bad ass? Who’d have thought it back in the MGS2 days 🙂

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GOD OF WAR: GHOST OF SPARTA (PSP)

Wow. Ready At Dawn look set to continue where they left off. Ghost Of Sparta looks tasty and I suspect will be full of awesomesauce (as DK money shizzle might say :lol:)

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Disapointment-wise, I’d say CASTLEVANIA which I thought might be cool but looks like a poor man’s Bayonetta/God Of War 😦

DRIVER, with it’s car jumping mechanic looks a bit too gimmicky.

I was very disappointed there is no sign of a new HITMAN game 😥

Also whilst CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPs looks good graphically I’m not sold – especially as that rappel bit from the trailer was nicked wholesale from RAINBOW SIX (now that’s a game I’d like to see announced! :cool:)

Would’ve liked to have seen new information on Last Guardian, Batman 2, Resistance 3 (an announcement that it’s actually coming) or Agent but suspect we’ll have more info on those at the Tokyo game show in August.

Also no PSP2! Though perhaps with hindsight they were wise – if they are gonna do it – not to put it up against the Nintendo 3DS (which I won’t be getting but does look like a great bit of kit).

But you can’t have everything.

So to sum up, in order, my Top 10 MOST WANTED of E3:

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1 Killzone 3

2 Dead Space 2

3 Metal Gear Rising

4 Twisted Metal

5 Crysis 2

6 God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta

7 Medal Of Honor

8 LittleBigPlanet 2

9 Infamous 2

10 Motorstorm Apocalypse

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Let me know what you guys are most looking forward to!

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