Vanquish – Demo Impressions (PS3)

 

I’ve seen various trailers and bits ‘n pieces on Vanquish over the last few months but it never really grabbed hold of me.

For a start it looked far too crazy with so much happening onscreen I was concerned I’d struggle to play it.

Then I found out it’s made by Platinum Games who made Bayonetta, which caught my attention. So I downloaded the demo not really knowing what to expect.

And what I got was a pretty hardcore third person shooter. My concern about too much onscreen at once was dismissed within the first five minutes – when you’re playing the game you just deal with whatever’s thrown at you and it was no trouble.

The game looks great, although the voice acting is cheesy as hell. I enjoyed the combat and the ability to momentarily slow down time is great and helps to make sure you aren’t too overwhelmed by enemies.

If all this sounds very familiar it’s because Vanquish is basically the exact same game as Bayonetta – except they’ve changed the environment and concentrated more on gunplay. And that isn’t a bad thing.

Obviously this impression is based on the demo so it may be slightly different and varied in the final game but the demo has hooked me in. While Vanquish isn’t a day one purchase for me, it’s certainly a title I’ll be looking to get hold of at some stage.

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Scott Pilgrim vs The World – Demo Impressions (PS3)

 

I’m still yet to see the film or read the comics (I’m waiting for an omnibus :smile:) but I was most definitely interested in this PSN title. So when the demo popped up I grabbed it straight away.

Essentially an old skool 8 bit brawler, Scott Pilgrim looks and plays great. You make your way through various levels from left to right in the tradition of great games like Double Dragon or Street Of Rage.

You have various special moves as well as your regular kick and punch attacks to take down the bad guys. The demo takes place in the streets of Canada but there are plenty of places to work your way through in the full game.

You can have up to 4 players locally but sadly there are no plans to incorporate any form of online play. I think that’s a real shame as this probably would’ve been a must buy for me if it had featured that.

If you remember older titles, such as Final Fight or Golden Axe, and like the way they played then Scott Pilgrim looks like a nice update on that type of game.

As I said I’d have picked this up if it had online co-op but as it stands I may buy this if it gets a price drop on PSN. It’s worth checking out.

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Army Of Two: The 40th Day – Review (PS3)

 

I liked the original Army Of Two, it was a fun, no holds barred shoot ’em up. I was quite impressed a sequel was being made as the first game wasn’t that well received critically but strong sales meant we would be back in the mercenary groove.

We still follow the exploits of Salem and Rio, picking up a few years after the first game ended. This time they are in Shanghai as the city burns around them having been invaded by a terrorist force.

So far, so Army Of Two – the real draw here is that the entire story is available to play co-operatively online with a friend.

This leads to some interesting tactics. Aggro – the system whereby whoever is taking fire is the focus of the enemies while the other person can sneak around and ambush them – returns along with several new ideas, such as mock surrendering and timing your sniper shots.

You can essentially ‘spot and mark’ targets for each other which helps but if all else fails it’s a case of hide in cover, shoot enemies, advance, take cover, shoot enemies and so on.

That isn’t a problem as such, it might not be that innovative but it certainly is fun.

Until you start to run into the fatal flaws which threaten to ruin the game completely. Essentially, aside from the odd case of dodgy AI, there are just three major problems.

Firstly there are some appalling checkpoint placements. I don’t want to have a 10 minute firefight, die on the following section and then have to do both again 😡 Then there’s the terrible EA Online connection which meant regular disconnects. Finally there are a couple of points in the game with insane difficulty spikes that are extremely frustrating.

Individually these are problems you could overlook but sadly when you put them all together it’s *almost* a game breaker.

It says a lot that I still enjoyed the game and had plenty of fun during my playthrough.

The story is pretty nonsensical and at times I had no idea what was going on. One nice touch were the Morality Decisions where you had to make a choice on how to deal with certain enemies/characters. These often played out differently than expected which was a welcome twist.

This isn’t a game I would recommend to everyone but if you have someone online to play through with there are plenty of worse games you could try.

Army Of Two: 40th Day isn’t a great game but is most definitely great fun, especially if you like blowing things up.

Rating 6/10

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2012 – Review (Film)

 

2012 is one of those films that you see advertised and you know that the story is likely to be pretty bad but the special effects look so good you also know you’ll enjoy it.

As a disaster blockbuster 2012 does a great job with various landmarks crumbling under the influence of earthquakes, tidal waves and the like.

The film tells the story of Curtis Jackson (John Cusack), a struggling science fiction writer who has a chance meeting with eccentric conspiracy broadcaster Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson). Frost tell Jackson about the 2012 phenomenon (short version – the world ends after a series of natural disasters in 2012).

Jackson dimisses this but as events begin unravelling around him he starts to believe that perhaps the old prophecy is coming true and tries to do all he can to save his family and friends.

Interlaced with Jackson’s story are several mini stories of people caught up in the disasters that Jackson crosses paths with.

One of the problems I had with this film that I’ve never had before was the fact that at least one of the frantic, visceral scenes (the car being chased by an earthquake) fell flat because I’d actually experienced this myself. Not in real life obviously but as part of the game Alone In The Dark.

This meant that while I appreciated the polish of the scene it had no great excitement compared to the interactive version I’d played through.

However I do think they did a great job with the effects on this film and it’s certainly an enjoyable watch.

2012 does exactly what you want it to. Entertains throughout and destroys plenty of recognisable landmarks along the way. The story wasn’t great and some of the characterisation felt a little lazy but overall this is worth a watch if you like action films.

Rating: 5/10

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Where should Rockstar go next?

Rockstar Games are one of the greatest publishers in recent game history and have tackled plenty of eras and different settings in their games.

They always seem to have a fresh take on things whether you are controlling a modern day criminal (Grand Theft Auto IV), a cowboy (Red Dead Redemption), a Scarface type gangster (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City), a schoolboy (Bully) or even the reluctant star of a snuff movie (Manhunt).

We know of at least two more genres they attempting to capture with the forthcoming L.A Noire (a 1940’s detective) and The Agent (1970’s spy).

                                                                                  L.A Noire looks set to take gamers somewhere different.

But where else can they go from here?

After pondering the question for a while I’ve come up with some suggestions that I think Rockstar could do a great job on. So here you go in no particular order:

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PIRATES

We’re not talking about the poncey Jack Sparrow pirate type of recent years – I’m thinking Treasure Island style pirates, real pirates. Starting out as a hand on the ship you work your way up at sea and on land until you’re assembling your own crew and sailing your own ship. Knowing Rockstar your old captain left you marooned for a crime you didn’t commit and somehow you’ve been rescued and must hunt him down for revenge.

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VICTORIAN LONDON

While similar in timespan to Red Dead Redemption, setting a game in Dickensian London would make for a fantastic experience. There are plenty of stories (Jack The Ripper/Thames Torso Mystery etc) that they could base a plot around – or just come up with something unique of their own. I believe a game set in this era would be something a lot of people would be interested in.

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ANCIENT ROME

I know ancient Rome has been done before in games but I don’t feel it’s ever been done a great justice. I’d like to see Rockstar give us a chance to experience the treachery and gluttony of the Roman Empire – whether that’s as a skilled gladiator or perhaps a soldier close to one of the great figures of the time.

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FRENCH REVOLUTION

There is plenty of great material from the era of the French Revolution that Rockstar could go with. The masses rising on the street, overthrowing the monarchy. Would be great to storm the Bastille! Or possibly viewed from a different perspective you could take on the role of a Monarchy sympathiser who has to escape the wrath of the uprising.

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WORLD WAR 1

The second World War has been a rich basis for games over the years, what with the almost cartoony villainy of the Nazis. But what of the original conflict? I’d like to see them approach it from a different perspective – perhaps as part of the Black Hand assassination group that murdered Franz Ferdinand? So not necessarily would you fight in the war itself but you would certainly get a feel for the time.

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EGYPT

Egypt isn’t a setting I recall for a lot of games but it is fertile ground for a game. Of course there’d be a lot of sand (:lol:) but I think the civilisations of the time would also be of great interest. Perhaps a little artistic licence could be used to have the player solve (or even cause) the death of a Pharoah such as Tutankhamun, who is rumoured by some to have been murdered.

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RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

There were actually numerous revolutions in Russia during 1917 with the Tsar deposed in February and then the government that replaced him overthrown in October by the Bolsheviks. I’d like to see you maybe play as a member of the Bolshevik party who works his way up and has a hand in the revolution.

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U.S CIVIL WAR

This is one I’d love to see, though I’m not sure whether it would be too sensitive for a US audience? Would be great to play through campaigns as a character from the North and a character from the South to see it from both sides. Perhaps the stories could converge at some stage in the final act of the game.

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CHINA

The fall of the Ming Dynasty began around 1630 and lasted until 1644. Again, this could be a rich environment and world for Rockstar to play in. You could take control of the rebels or the dynasty as the collapse happens around you.

.

NORMAN CONQUEST OF ENGLAND (1066)

Would like to see this set in the build up to the Battle of Hastings. Would be brilliant to take part in that, from either side to be honest. Maybe even a character who is ‘on the fence’ so to speak and then you choose which side to allign yourself with before the battle begins.

.

JAPAN

 

There is plenty of scope for this one, whether you’re looking at the origins of Samurai or perhaps when they were at the height of their power. With the new Metal Gear game showing it can be done with some crazy sword cutting antics this would be a welcome addition to the Rockstar roster.

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So there you have it – a wealth of places Rockstar could go next. But what do you guys think? Agree with the above or have any other suggestions?

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Bioshock 2 – Review (PS3)

 

The first Bioshock game was a refreshing change of scenery and pace compared to a lot of other shooters, taking place in the dark, underwater ‘utopia’ of Rapture.

Bioshock 2 brings you back 8 years later (1968) to take control of a Big Daddy who has no memory of the last decade and wants to find the Little Sister he was originally paired with.

A sequel to such a unique title was always going to be tricky to pull off. However 2k Marin have done well to recreate the atmosphere of the original game while keeping it different enough that you can tell time has passed.

Plasmids return so while R2 fires the gun you have in your right hand, L2 shoots the plasmid ability from your left hand. Along with the fire, ice and electric abilities come some trap abilities such as cyclone tornado based one that sends enemies off in a spin.

You are able to collect the Little Sisters as in the first title but now that you are a Big Daddy you are also able to let them harvest ADAM while you protect them to get yourself better upgrades.

The story isn’t as strong as the original but I still found it to be enjoyable and battling your way through Rapture felt as good as before. Bumping into a few familiar faces also helped.

The gameplay is improved from the first game in my opinion with the controls feeling a lot more responsive, the extra powers helping and, in particular, the new system for hacking making the game easier to get to grips with.

My main complaint is the fact that although you are a fearsome Big Daddy you’ll often find just a couple of melee hits from an enemy will take you down.

I understand they don’t want to overpower you and make the game too easy but perhaps the answer would’ve been a God Of War type of affair where you’d be attacked by 5 or 10 enemies at a time so if you were killed it felt like it took a lot more to finish you off.

Multiplayer makes it’s series debut and I was pleasantly surprised. The footage I’d seen looked quite ropey but playing it was something different and it was good fun, though not a game I could see myself playing for any great deal of time online.

At the end of the day this is definitely a title that revels in the world created for it by the previous game. You don’t have to have played the original to enjoy this game but you’ll probably get more of it if you have.

Just like the first game, Bioshock 2 won’t be to everybody’s taste but it is a title that is worth your time and effort. With the newly announced Bioshock Infinite moving away from Rapture this may be your last chance to visit the underwater metropolis. It’s a trip I would recommend.

Rating: 8/10

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Fragged Out: Is the FPS genre reaching saturation point?

 

Having watched some of the recent trailers for upcoming first person shooters Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty: Black Ops I was struck by the realisation that I may be suffering from some kind of FPS burnout.

Despite both titles looking decent I’m finding it hard to get excited about them.

I already have Battlefield Bad Company 2, Killzone 2 and MAG to keep me entertained and if I fancy something completely different there’s always Borderlands.

Just a brief look at upcoming first person shooters in the next 6-9 months throws up the following list:

– Medal Of Honor

– Call Of Duty: Black Ops

– Killzone 3

– Brink

– Bulletstorm

– Bodycount

– Duke Nukem Forever

– Crysis 2

– Homefront

– Rage

From that list only Killzone 3 is a given as I’ll be trading up from the second game.

                                                                   Homefront’s tale of an occupied US makes for something different.

I also think Homefront looks interesting and everyone who has seen/played Rage is tipping it for Game Of The Year so that’s one I’m keen to check out.

Apart from that the others will more than likely be titles I’ll try at some stage but I’m not greatly excited by the majority of them, especially in terms of multiplayer.

So is this feeling of disinterest a sign of a lack of innovation in the genre? I’m not sure if that’s case – Bulletstorm certainly looks like shaking things up, although at its core it’s essentially the same as any other shooter.

                                                                                   Call Of Duty: Black Ops – good enough to see a switch from the games we are playing now?

Am I the only one out there that’s feeling this? Perhaps it’s a personal preference in that I feel Battlefield Bad Company 2 has pretty much nailed multiplayer for FPS.

I’m watching footage of Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty: Black Ops and just thinking am I actually going to play this over Battlefield or Killzone? The answer currently is ‘no’ and as time has gone on other titles like Crysis 2 and Brink have lost their appeal.

I was relatively impressed with both of them early on but the more information I’ve seen on them the more generic they seem.

                                                                            Brink brings the new S.M.A.R.T movement system but is that enough?

The main culprits though are the current period warfare titles – Medal of Honor in particular. All of these titles seem to be merging into one from a multiplayer perspective but I’m still looking forward to the single player campaigns.

We’ll see I guess. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong and the multiplayer sections of these games will be unique and different. I certainly hope so because as it stands I’ll be sticking with what I have.

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