7 x 7 Link Award

I have been bestowed with the honour of receiving the 7ร—7 Link Award from the lovely The Warning Sign.

I don’t often get involved with this type of thing but as a break from the reviews I’ve been putting up recently – here goes!

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THE RULES:

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1. Tell everyone something that no one else knows about you.

2. Link to one of the posts that I personally think best fits the following categories: Most Beautiful Piece, Most Helpful Piece, Most Popular Piece, Most Controversial Piece, Most Surprisingly Successful Piece, Most Underrated Piece, and Most Pride-Worthy Piece.

3. Pass the award on to seven other bloggers.

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PART ONE:

In my younger days I once played a full 62 lap race on a Formula 1 game in one sitting – my knees literally cracked when I went to get out of the chair. Not a healthy attitude to gaming, although it was a one off!

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PART TWO:

1) Most Beautiful Piece: In terms of content I would say my Great Game Openings piece – some of those are stunningly gorgeous.

2) Most Helpful Piece: My Top 50 Single Player Games remains very popular and hopefully is still helpful to people looking to pick up some games for offline action.

3) Most Popular Piece: My Killzone 2 review went down really well and still gets plenty of views to this day.

4) Most Controversial Piece: Not a specific piece but any ‘Top’ lists usually garner some feedback on what people felt should’ve been in the list. Certainly not a bad thing.

5) Most Surprisingly Successful Piece: My review of Dante’s Inferno – the original prose as opposed to the game. Up there among my most viewed posts – still surprised by that everytime it pops up!

6) Most Underrated Piece: Sad to see that my end of year Music round up from 2011 has only had a handful of views, although it’s not a great surprise as I’m mainly a gaming blog.

7) Most Pride-Worthy Piece: Thankfully my most pride worthy was also a popular one! I really worked hard on my Top 100 Games ever articles.

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PART THREE:

Pass the award on to seven other bloggers: some of these guys haven’t blogged in a while so I’m hoping this might give them a little kick start ๐Ÿ™‚

1) Beyond The D-Pad

2) Stacey Storey

3) renxkyoko’s space

4) What Now?

5) That’s Just Me

6) Liam’s Lions Outlook

7) Action Flick Chick.

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Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Review (Film)

I’m a fan of Edgar Wright’s work – Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and Spaced are all great in my opinion. So I was looking forward to his interpretation of the Scott Pilgrim comic books.

Sometimes the spirit of a written work can be lost in translation to a different media and while I haven’t read the books, from what I’ve seen of them this film does a good job of capturing the feel of Scott Pilgrim’s world.

Pilgrim is a slacker who plays in a band. After meeting a girl, Ramona Flowers, he decides he has to win her over and sets about trying to make her his girlfriend – despite the fact he already has one.

To date Ramona he has to defeat her 7 evil exes, which sets up some great game-inspired fight scenes. I enjoyed the stylised way Wright handled the film, although I’m not sure everyone will like that direction.

Certainly I suspect it’ll be a love-or-hate movie. Personally I really enjoyed it and thought it was well worth a watch.

Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are great in the lead roles and Kieran Culkin isย excellent as Wallace Wells, Scott’s roommate. The whole movie is pretty well cast, even the actors in smaller roles bring a lot to the table and it’s always nice to see Jason Schwartzman on the big screen.

Overall this is a difficult movie to recommend to a broad audience. If you’re into games I would say you’ll enjoy this, there are a host of little in-jokes/homages that you will have fun spotting. However it might beย a little bit too far down the rabbit hole for your average viewer. Having said that, it’s certainly a watchable film – you just need to suspend reality for a while ๐Ÿ™‚

Rating: 8/10

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Infamous: Festival Of Blood (PS3) – Review

Having thoroughly enjoyed both Infamous and Infamous 2, I was really interested in seeing what Sucker Punch would come up with for this stand alone downloadable game (which doesn’t require a copy of either game to play).

Festival Of Blood tells the story of Cole’s night as a vampire. The story is told by Zeke, Cole’s friend, as he looks to keep a woman in a bar interested in him.

The game takes place during ‘Pyre Night’ a festival held in New Marais every year as a way of warding off vampires and celebrating the death of ‘Bloody Mary’ – a vampire allegedly burnt at the stake long ago.

While investigating screams from the catacombs under a church, Cole is bitten by Bloody Mary herself and he only has until sunrise to find a cure.

If you’ve played either of the Infamous games previous to this you’ll find yourself in familiar territory as Vampire Cole parkours his way across the terrain of New Marais… but there is a nice twist in traversal because Cole can now transform into a swarm of bats to travel extremely quickly over the city.

You’ll need blood to activate this ability though and Cole is able to feed on the citizens of New Marais as often as you need/like. Slightly troubling after I’d played through Infamous 2 as a hero but it’s set me up nicely for my second playthrough as an evil Cole ๐Ÿ™‚

Cole can also use a type of Vampire radar that allows him to enter an x-ray vision mode – normal humans are shown with red internal organs and a beating heart while fellow Vampires in disguise are just a blue skeleton. Cole can then attack the Vampires with a one hit kill if you’re close/quick enough.

This is a fantastic downloadable game, one of the better ones I’ve seen – certainly in terms of scope/gameplay. It seems crazy to me that you don’t need a disc to run it but Sucker Punch have done a great job here.

Clocking in at under 4 hours and with a price tag of ยฃ7.99, I’d recommend this to anyone. Obviously it’s not as long as a full Infamous title and one of the main elements (player choice re: Karma) is missing but Infamous: Festival Of Blood is well worth a playthrough.

Rating: 8/10

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Batman: Arkham City – Review (PS3)

Batman: Arkham Asylum blew everyone away upon it’s release in 2009. The thing that caught most people off guard was that this was a great superhero game. Of course we had Infamous, which was brilliant but there hadn’t been a decent game featuring a known comic book star for far too long.

That critical, and financial, success meant that the pressure on developers RockSteady was immense to deliver with the sequel – Arkham City.

Taking place in a city environment, as opposed to the enclosed Asylum setting of the first game, Arkham City sees Batman facing off against several well known villians. Of course The Joker is the main antagonist here, along with Hugo Strange, but you won’t be short of cameos from familiar faces.

The idea is that Strange has cordoned off a section of the city to use as a prison and keep all the inmates locked up there rather than house them within a single building.

Fortunately Batman has his grapple hook and cape to help him get around so you’re never too far away from your next mission. I struggled a little to get to grips with the mechanics for some of the air travel and on occasion it felt a little counter-intuative when compared to something like Just Cause 2.

Graphically the game looks great and the atmosphere is nicely set up with ambient noise coming in the form of rain and the chatter of henchmen, among other things.

There are a few missions of the game where you can play as Catwoman – basically a faster but slightly weaker version of Batman – but I found these to be uninspiring for the most part. Perhaps because I don’t know the character very well? Either way if you didn’t get them with your game (only new copies received the codes for download) I would say maybe give them a swerve unless you desperately want to play them.

The developers have stepped up the number of things you can do on the side – from Riddler trophies (there are now over 400 of them to find!) through to genuine side missions featuring new characters (I stumbled on a great one featuring The Mad Hatter). The amount of stuff to do can be a bit daunting but I would repeat the advice I heard from several sources – stick to the main story missions on the whole and then go back and do side stuff when you’ve finished the main missions.

I felt it took a little too long to unlock some of the better weapons/gadgets – I understand they don’t want to make the game too easy too quickly but at times early on I just couldn’t approach fight situations the way I wanted to.

For me that is a big draw of the game – being able to form a strategy and then strike in your own way. It’s a minor complaint and may not effect you if your play style suits what the game wants you to do at that time. For me it meant a fair few frustrating deaths until I nailed the fight the way the game wanted me to.

One other complaint is the fact that there is an alternative ending and I wish the developers had let you end the game that way. Why give you the choice only to then not let you live with the consequences. I’m not saying don’t give people the option to ‘rewind’ and reapproach the situation again but it would’ve been cool to have the choice to have that as your ending.

But I don’t want to dwell too long on the negatives because Arkham City is a really good game. You can tell the developers have tried to think of everything to improve upon the first game and they have delivered a bigger, more open and content packed title. The question is – after Arkham Asylum, was that what you wanted?

Rating: 8/10

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