Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Review (PS3)

It has to be said that a lot of people were wondering whether Naughty Dog would be able to improve on the superb ‘Among Thieves,’ a game that walked away with awards for ‘Best Voice Acting,’ ‘Best Graphics,’ ‘Single Player Game Of The Year’ and the biggie – ‘Game Of The Year’ in my end of year round up for 2009.

Where both ‘Drake’s Fortune‘ and ‘Among Thieves’ concentrated more on the relationship between Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher, this instalment focuses on Nathan and Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan. As a big fan of Sully that’s a plus in my book.

The gameplay is as fluid as ever although the same gripes from the second game do raise their head. The main one being when certain gameplay parts flow (such as a chase or escape scene) they *really* flow but if you fail the section and have to re-do it a few times it totally breaks the immersion for a bit.

This isn’t indicative of Uncharted specifically, any game that is scripted this tightly (for example the Call Of Duty games – in particular I had this issue with the snow sled escape in MW2. I’m sure it was amazing if you got through it in one go – not so much when having to re-do it) often have this problem but it feels so much more harsh here because the game does such a good job of dragging you in.

The banter between characters is fantastic and it is one of the few games I found myself chuckling along with. You can tell these actors have known each other a long time and worked together to build these character relationships.

The gameplay itself isn’t anything new, a mixture of climbing, shooting and solving puzzles but after the success of ‘Among Thieves’ refining rather than changing was probably the best route Naughty Dog could’ve taken.

The plot is great and throws up a few curveballs but nothing like the backstabbing double-crossing of the last game. ‘Drake’s Deception’ is the story of Nate and Sully and it was great to find out more about their relationship.

I wrote a detailed look at the multiplayer experience during the early access we had (which can be found HERE) and thankfully not too much has changed. Multiplayer really has improved from the last game and the whole experience feels a lot deeper – the medal kickbacks and power plays add a tactical element to proceedings and allow players to quickly escape a sticky situation if they’ve earned the right to.

I’ve seen some reviews of the game picking holes in ‘Drake’s Deception’ and while I admit it doesn’t have the same impact as the last game (how could it?!) Naughty Dog have done a great job on tightening things here and there to deliver a stellar title. We have been spoilt with the last two games in the series, which is why I think some people are a bit down on the game.

For me this is another complete package – the best third person multiplayer on the market coupled with a great story and the best character design you’ll see in a game. While watching the last cut-scene of this campaign I actually had goosebumps – surely the sign of something special.

Rating: 10/10

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GREAT GAME OPENINGS (VOLUME 1)

A strong opening can define your experience with a medium, whether that is a film, a book or indeed a game.

What follows here are some of the best openings in games I have experienced. That could be an opening cinematic or even the beginning of the game that you play through.

This is volume 1 as, quite frankly, I could’ve had a ton more in here but will do a follow up blog at some stage in the future with more additions.

These are as spoiler free as possible athough obviously bear in mind some sequels may recap the events of the first game!

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Dead Space

One of my favourite ever openings. A great start to a great game. Just watch it 🙂

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Bioshock

This is one of those openings that stuns you completely. The game paces it perfectly, taking minutes where others would take seconds, and provides you with the rich setting of the world you’re about to inhabit for many hours to come.

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L.A Noire

L.A Noire spent so long in development that we wondered whether the game would ever actually make it out of the door and onto shelves. Eventually we got our hands on Team Bondi’s great work and while it certainly had some issues, I don’t think anyone can deny it’s a game that all gamers should at least try. The opening sets the scene and helps to create that feeling of a time gone by.

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Borderlands

Borderlands was one of the more surprising games in the year it came out – having played it a bit at Eurogamer the previous year I wasn’t blown away but the game turned out to be great when you were getting inolved right from the start. This intro sums the game up perfectly – big, brash and fun.

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Prototype

*WARNING CONTAINS SCENES OF FAIRLY EXTREME VIOLENCE*

This doubled up as a trailer as well as an intro video for the game – looks amazing and gives you a good idea of the carnage you can cause in the game itself.

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Killzone 2

Ah Killzone 2. I must’ve watched this a hundred times. Graphically one of the best looking intros on this list, the tone is set early with Visari’s speech and the great music enhances the overall experience. One of my personal favourites.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Drake’s adventures continued in Among Thieves, with the game blowing away most of the competition when it was released. This should give you an indication of why – we hadn’t quite seen anything like it.

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Battlefield: Bad Company

The first time we were introduced to Bad Company and immediately we fitted right in – “the new guy’s dead?” 😆

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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City remains my favourite of all the GTA games. The 80’s setting and a memorable (if not *entirely* original) story were high water marks in gaming style. This opening gets you in the mood to take a trip back to the 80’s.

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Resident Evil 2

This is one of those openings that doesn’t quite look as good as you remember when you see it now but the punch it packed remains the same, especially as at the time we were expecting a more sinister, slow paced game.

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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

As Snake walked across the bridge, I remember thinking that rain couldn’t look more realistic. As he got himself onto the boat it was the character animation that stood out for me. Metal Gear Solid 2 remains a fantastic game and if you were interested in playing it a Metal Gear collection of games on one disc that features this title is coming in February 2012.

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Red Dead Redemption

As a way of setting the tone this is top notch from Rockstar – managing to cram in some thoughts/beliefs of the time all the way along the train journey John Marsden finds himself on him.

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Medal Of Honor: Frontline

As an opening to a game this cut and paste of Saving Private Ryan, while not original, caused gamers to sit up and take notice. A truly immersive experience at the time.

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Homefront

*WARNING CONTAINS SCENES OF VIOLENCE*

While the game failed to live up to the hype this opening remains a slightly unsettling watch. If only the game could’ve carried this feeling through it might have been something special.

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So there we have it – hopefully if you haven’t played some of those games the clips above may give you enough of a taste to give them a try. (Though maybe skip Homefront 😆 )

As I said at the start of this, I’ll be doing a follow up piece with more great openings at some stage so feel free to suggest your favourites (spoiler free please :smile:) and I may add them in.

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Battlefield 3 – Review (PS3)

Battlefield 3 has been one of my most anticipated games of 2011 – having loved Bad Company 2 I was hopeful DICE would continue their great work in the genre.

This game is a follow up to 2005’s PC only Battlefield 2 as opposed to the Battlefield: Bad Company series that has recently appeared on consoles.

Have no fear though, the developers have incorporated lots of things from Bad Company to help improve the all round gameplay.

Whilst the older Battlefield titles on PC were strictly multiplayer only, Battlefield 3 comes with a single player campaign mode as well. Everything we’d seen pointed to something special… something that would blow the campaigns of the Call Of Duty games out of the water.

Sadly, as has been echoed already in reviews around the globe, this just isn’t the case. Battlefield 3’s campaign is a decent, linear shooter but it doesn’t really do much to break new ground.

I felt there were a number of cheap deaths and at times it was just too easy to get killed (playing on Normal). This led to a few instances of really frustrating play that I just don’t remember being as prevalent in Bad Company 2.

Graphically the campaign is stunning. Certainly the best I’ve seen in the genre on PS3. At one stage I found myself watching the rain fall onto the rooftop I was on rather than following my immediate objective.

The mutliplayer is sublime and (thankfully) has nothing like the amount of problems the beta had. The only issue I’ve encountered is when in a squad and joining a game you sometimes get split up from your squad and have to join up again in game. (EDIT: Which I’ve just read is an issue that’s about to fixed)

The gameplay is well balanced and flows fantastically. Your progress feels a lot more spaced out than in Bad Company 2 but I feel you’re being constantly rewarded with little additions (scopes/laser sights etc) along the way so everything feels like you are making strides to unlocking new items.

Almost everything here is team based – you’ll net points for supressing fire, kill assists, dropping ammo/medical supplies for your team etc. It’s possible to be the best player in the game without killing many people at all. In one match the overall best player had only killed 3 people in the game but had racked up points by supporting the rest of his team and carrying out the objectives during the round.

The maps are well designed and there are Squad Team Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch options as well as Battlefield staples Rush and Conquest, each with their own map layouts.

The guns handle superbly, with a recoil kick that takes a while to get used to, and almost every weapon feels different. The accompanying audio is top notch and the sounds of the battle really do play a big part.

Battlefield 3 is without a doubt the best multiplayer gameplay experience I have had on the PS3. The epic scripted events of most games campaigns happen here regularly and, more importantly, naturally – created by other players.

Whilst running towards a capture point in one match a jet flew overhead, was hit by a rocket a nosedived into the ground ahead of me causing a massive explosion. In the meantime a tank rolled by and blew out the wall of a building to the side of me. A few enemies spilled out from the smoke and I took them down. Experiences like this aren’t rare in Battlefield 3 and that is why, despite an average campaign, I’d recommend the title to anyone.

Rating 9/10

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Resistance 3 – Review (PS3)

It seems a lot of people were disappointed with the second instalment of the Resistance franchise. Personally I felt it was an improvement on the first title and I was hopeful Resistance 3 would continue to improve the series.

This time around you’re playing as Joseph Capelli, who was a side character in the 2nd game, and the feeling of fighting the Chimera has all but gone.

The humans lost the war. Resistance 3 is about survival. Beaten down and living mainly underground, Capelli and his fellow survivors get on with life as best as possible. These are not just soldiers, there are children and non-fighters as well, just trying to get through each day.

To say the game is bleak would be an understatement and it is a huge plus point for Resistance 3 that helps differentiate it from other titles. You’re often told in games “you are the only band of survivors left” but here it really feels like it.

You’re outnumbered and underpowered for the most part but the game’s great controls and wonderful weapon selection make it joy to blast through the levels. There are small victories here and there but as a battle heats up you’ll likely find yourself running away to survive.

Insomniac have gone old skool with their health system, which doesn’t regenerate and will need to be replenished with health packs. This also adds to the tension of gun fights as you know hiding behind cover is a temporary relief, not a solution.

Unfortunately the campaign loses it’s way in the last few hours and the final battle/ending was a touch disappointing to me.

Online things have been scaled down (from 60 players to 16) but for me that is an improvement and the unusual, but brilliant, weapons available mean that Resistance 3 offers something completely different to other shooters on the market.

Sure it takes a lot of bullets to get a kill but this title isn’t going for a realistic feel. I found it to be very enjoyable online, although it seemed that matchmaking may be a bit of an issue: occasionally I was told there were no games available when selecting a specific mode but choosing ‘Quick Match’ found me a game straight away in the same mode I was searching for 😕

Make no mistake – despite tailing off towards the end, Resistance 3 has the best campaign I’ve played this year. Whether or not that will hold with the glut of great games coming remains to be seen. The multiplayer is fun and something different for those looking for a change.

Rating: 9/10

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Bodycount – Review (PS3)

Bodycount tells the story of an American soldier recruited by ‘The Network’ – a slightly sinister operation that handles, and resolves, events where others (such as the UN) have failed.

It’s not the most original of plot devices but I’ve heard a lot worse and despite a few reservations I was looking forward to giving the game a try.

One of the biggest selling points of Bodycount was the destructability of the environments and while it can be fairly impressive at times – with bullets ripping through enemy cover – it was equally frustrating in tandem. I could shoot through walls and sheet metal that patched up the wall but when faced with some corrugated metal sheets my bullets (and grenades!) did no damage whatsoever.

The shooting itself was fairly enjoyable and the auto aim meant things didn’t get too annoying. When suddenly faced with 10 or 15 enemies, and with the controls not being quite as responsive as I’d like, it certainly helped to keep the game flowing.

One hindrance with regard to the shooting is the fact that there are no iron sights on the zoom/aim. The camera pans in slightly and your weapon moves off to the side. It’s not ideal and I think a lot of people may be disappointed to play in this style.

On the plus side there are a few good missions and some of the art design is great. Especially the Target stuff, which I won’t go into for fear of spoilers. So it’s a shame the rest of the game feels bland despite being nice and colourful. The fact you only seem to be shooting the same four or five enemies for the majority of the game is also a bit of a let down.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to play the mutliplayer – on both occasions I tried I spent a good 10 mins looking for a game but no-one else was playing it.

Bodycount feels like a missed opportunity – the twist in this story could’ve been really cool if handled right and set up correctly. Instead it felt like the game played it’s hand too early and left you to graft through the same level after level.

Bodycount is playable for sure but it’s tough to recommend a game that felt like going through something from about 5 years ago. With a different setup I feel this could’ve been a decent shooter, sadly somewhere along the line it lost it’s way.

Rating: 4/10

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