Medal Of Honor – Review (PS3)

The Medal Of Honor series has been around for decades and had usually focused on conflicts in World War II. However when EA announced it was rebooting the franchise we discovered players were heading to modern day (well, 2002) Afghanistan.

As often happens in these types of games you find yourself controlling multiple characters across different missions. You’ll start off as Rabbit, a member of AFO Neptune before stints as Deuce, of AFO Wolfpack, Dante Adams of the 75th Ranger Regiment and Captain Brad “Hawk” Hawkin, an Apache helicopter pilot.

It’s not as confusing as it sounds and actually I found the way Medal Of Honor weaves the characters and story together to be amongst the best in the genre. It certainly puts both Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops to shame. It was always clear which of the characters I was controlling and that is a big plus.

Graphically the game is impressive during cut scenes and in-game with regard to the levels and with things like explosions etc. However the character models are pretty poor, especially having recently played Killzone 3 and Dead Space 2.

My main problem came with enemy AI, which was awful at times. On several occasions enemies would have their backs to me firing blindly off into the distance or would be hiding behind a rock/wall facing the wrong way, waiting to be killed.

The gameplay itself is generally good and while missions were mainly brief, there were some good set ups and set pieces to get stuck into.

Speaking of length, Medal of Honor is a short game, make no mistake. I finished this in under 5 hours, which is extremely short – even for a first person shooter.

With regards to multiplayer it’s a bit of a mess. The maps are mostly tiny and the spawn points are poorly thought out. Most of the time you would spawn and just get killed straight away. Having said that the spawn point issue isn’t exclusive to Medal Of Honor, it’s something Call Of Duty also suffers from.

The shooting feels a little light, with the weapons not really having much in the way of weight or presence. The melee kill is disappointing (especially compared to the awesome Battlefield Bad Company 2 one) and most rounds descended into a mixture of spawn camping and rocket launching.

As is always the case with multiplayer I could’ve just been really unlucky in getting paired up with ‘bad’ players but judging by the amount of it going on I don’t think so.

It feels very much like EA just said to DICE “You know how Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is different to Call Of Duty and based on teamwork over large scale maps? Well scrap all that for Medal Of Honor – just copy Call Of Duty.” Which quite frankly is disappointing.

Overall then Medal Of Honor is a decent title to rent. Although enjoyable the campaign is too short and the multiplayer is just a poor man’s Call Of Duty.

Rating 6/10

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‘The Way Of Shadows’ by Brent Weeks – Review (Book)

The Way Of The Shadows is the first book in the ‘Night Angel’ trilogy and tells the story of Azoth, a street urchin in Cenaria City.

He longs to be an assassin, or wetboy as they are known in this universe, and decides he will do anything to become one.

He tries to secure an apprenticeship with Durzo Blint – widely regarded as the greatest living assassin but Blint refuses to take him on.

The book tells the story of how Azoth gives up almost everything in his pursuit of the apprenticeship and how his actions have a knock on effect in the world around him.

Brent Weeks has done a great job of tying it all together. While Azoth is the main character, several other plot strands with different characters are introduced and expertly tied together further down the line.

This was one of those books that once I started I couldn’t put down – well written and with a strong story to boot, I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the trilogy.

Rating 8/10

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – Review (PS3)

Coming so soon after Assassin’s Creed II, and with the accompanying marketing campaign focused on the multiplayer aspect of the game, a lot of people dismissed Brotherhood as a glorified add on pack before a surprisingly deep single player component also emerged.

This is Assassin’s Creed III in all but name.

The single player campaign is as long if not longer than Assassin’s Creed II, clocking in at around 15 hours for me – including a fair bit of side mission stuff.

The story continues with Ezio Auditore in 1499 and Desmond Miles in 2012, picking up exactly where the second game left off. There is also a helpful recap of the first two games events – although I still didn’t fully understand it all 😆 – for peeps who need a refresher or for people new to the series.

The changes Ubisoft have made to the game feel subtle but really they have honed this title so much it really doesn’t do much wrong.

Firstly there is now a very welcome fast travel system around the city. This was definitely needed as there are times you just don’t fancy having to trek all the way across the map to your next objective. In game they are via underground tunnels and you have to unlock each location by ‘renovating’ the entrance.

Renovation is a big part of the game now and you can spend cash to renovate shops within an area (netting yourself a few decent discounts along the way) and even buy up property to restore.

The more stuff you renovate the more cash you get back per cycle (20 mins in real time). This is one part of the game that is entirely optional but it’s fun and pretty helpful as you go through the game.

There are lots more side mission types and your map will be chock full of things to do if you fancy a change of pace away from the main missions.

The climbing system seems to have been tightened up and I found myself doing a lot less random jumping off buildings than in Assassin’s Creed II.

My favourite two additions though are the Borgia Towers and the Assassin’s Guild.

The Borgia Towers allow you to liberate areas of the city from your enemy’s control. Essentially you have to get into a restricted area, kill the Borgia Captain and then set fire to the tower. Once that is done you’re free to renovate shops within that tower’s area.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed these missions to be honest and I found myself doing them wherever possible.

The Assassin’s Guild sees Ezio building his own army of Assassins. 😎 You can recruit citizens by helping those who are being harrassed by Borgia soldiers. Once recruited you can send the assassins out on missions (you don’t see/control the missions, they are just to increase each Assassins stats) or, and this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a game for a while, you can call them into action to help you.

Yep that’s right. Your own army at your disposal. You can either select a victim and press L2, which will see a recruit emerge from the shadows/a haystack/a roof and perform a stealth kill, or you can hold L2 to have a stream of arrows rain down from the rooftops to take down any enemy soldiers in the area. It truly is an awesome sight and a brilliant inclusion.

Another new feature is the execution streak, in which once you counter kill one enemy you just need to hold the left stick in the direction of your next victim and press square to kill them with one blow. You can chain this together endlessly (at least until another enemy attacks you mid flow) and while some may feel it lowers the difficulty of the game I enjoyed the sense of empowerment I got from it.

The story is more of the same which wasn’t a problem for me although I personally would’ve liked to have seen a few more parts with Desmond in 2012 throughout the game.

But what of the much publicised multiplayer. When they announced Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood would have multiplayer I was not keen, deathmatch and team deathmatch as an assassin? Capture the flag? Surely not I thought.

And thankfully Ubisoft delivered one of the most unique multiplayer experiences around today. Playing completely to the main game’s strengths multiplayer sees you stalking opponents whilst also being hunted yourself.

The main mode, ‘Wanted,’ sees you given a picture of your target and a small radar indicating their rough position. While you track them down there could potentially be up to three other players also chasing that target.

In the meantime you could have up to four people chasing you! So essentially the idea is to act as normal as possible and blend in, while also tracking your prey and looking for the right moment to take them down.

Despite a sometimes questionable stun mechanic (as in it can be difficult to stun your pursuer even if you know who they are) the balance is pretty much perfect, with all the perks and unlocks cancelling each other out (if you happen to have the corresponding one equipped that is).

It is a wonderful game of cat and mouse and I genuinely think every gamer should at least rent this and give the multiplayer a shot. You won’t have played anything else like it and it is great to see a developer bringing something fresh to the table.

There are also team versions of Wanted and some other variations to keep you interested but I find myself drifting towards ‘Wanted’ almost every time.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is not without it’s flaws (the stun mechanic in multiplayer needs tweaking and the pacing of the main story missions could’ve been better) but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an improvement on the previous game in almost every way and features a great, original multiplayer mode. I have no problem giving it the GREGHORRORSHOW PLATINUM SEAL OF APPROVAL™

Rating 10/10

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Dead Space Martyr by B.K. Evenson – Review (Book)

Set well before the first Dead Space game, Martyr tells the story of Michael Altman, the geophysicist that initially discovered a ‘marker’ and kick started a whole host of trouble for people across the universe.

The book also focuses on the (fictional) Unitology religion from the Dead Space universe and Altman’s role in the origins of that.

As someone who loved the first game and is currently playing through the second, I found Martyr to be a great stop-gap between games and an interesting look back into the world of Dead Space.

While some may suspect they are doing it for the money, I have to applaud EA’s commitment to fleshing out the Dead Space universe with different media, whether that is books, films, games or comics.

Obviously if you have no frame of reference you probably won’t get the most out of this novel but it is still a cracking read. Well written, dark but with some humor and totally believable characters, B.K. Evenson does a wonderful job of bringing everything to life.

I enjoyed the story and as Altman delves deeper and deeper into the murky world of the marker you really get a feel for the way things are falling apart around him.

I would recommend this book if you like quite dark thrillers but obviously you will get a lot more out of it if you’ve played either of the Dead Space games and I would say it’s a universe worth immersing yourself in.

Rating: 8/10

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Joe Danger – Review (PS3)

When I initially saw footage of Joe Danger I thought it looked ok but nothing special. I imagined I’d pick it up at some stage but I wasn’t overly impressed.

I then picked up the trial and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I decided to take the plunge and invest a tenner in my first full downloadable game.

And it was £10 well spent becuase Joe Danger is a fantastic game.

The basic premise of the game is that you’re back out of retirement and looking to make your mark on the stunt world once more.

This involves riding your motorcycle through obstacle courses and stringing together combo moves and stunts. And what fun that is – sure it can be frustrating at times but when you land a huge score and leap to the top of your friends leaderboard it’s a great feeling.

The game keeps a track of you and your friends scores via PSN so you always have competition. The only thing I would’ve liked to have seen would’ve been more notification. As it stands you have to manually check the leaderboards yourself but it would’ve made a big difference if it just came up when you selected a course or popped up a message saying ‘so and so beat your score.’ etc.

This is a great game and well worth your time. You can also play races alongside online buddies but sadly I haven’t been able to take advantage of that aspect of the game yet. Joe Danger also caters for those creative types with level design tools that are fairly straightforward to use.

Overall Joe Danger is one of the best downloadable games I’ve played and will bring you many hours of madcap fun, especially if you have a few friends to compete against.

Rating 8/10

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