Batman: Arkham Knight – Review (PS4)

Batman AK Main

Rocksteady had a real job on its hands back in the late 2000’s – superhero games were generally very poor and the developer had been tasked with delivering a new Batman game. It was a challenge they relished and they ended up revitalizing the game genre, with seamless combat and tight scripted encounters, in 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. The second game in the series, Arkham City, opened the game world up to a part of Gotham and laid the groundwork for the latest instalment. 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight is the culmination of Rocksteady’s trilogy of Batman games and a showcase for the graphical capabilities of the new generation of consoles.

Set a year after the events of the previous game, Arkham Knight sees Scarecrow threatening to release a poisonous toxin throughout Gotham. When another, previously unknown, villain – the titular Arkham Knight – lends his weight to Scarecrow’s campaign of terror, it becomes apparent Batman is going to have his hands full. Luckily you’re not on your own, Alfred, Oracle, Robin and more are on hand to offer assistance.

Batman AK 1

In the panic and chaos, all of Batman’s greatest enemies come out of the woodwork to take advantage. These villains could easily have been written in throughout the story but are instead optional side content, called ‘Most Wanted’ missions. I felt that this was one of the strongest aspects of the game, as it allowed you to delve into Batman’s relationship with those villains when you wanted to and gave you a choice as to how far you wanted to pursue them. Each villain has 4 or more missions each before you finally get to bring them to justice.

I really enjoyed the side content in Arkham Knight, even more so for the fact that along with specifically choosing to do a side mission, you might just stumble across them because the game does a great job of delivering on visual/audio cues that you might naturally gravitate towards out of curiosity. It felt really great when, for example, I noticed a building on fire in the distance and went to investigate. When I got there it triggered the option to start a Most Wanted mission. Very cool.

My main complaint of the game was the way the Batmobile was handled. Introduced as a new way of getting around Gotham, it does a serviceable job – although I preferred to just glide over the city which was just as quick, in my opinion. Unfortunately the controls never quite felt right for me, with L2 switching the vehicle to ‘Battle Mode’, as opposed to braking – which is usually L2’s function for car based control in other games. It led to numerous occasions where I ended up failing a mission because, in the heat of the moment, I instinctively hit L2 to brake and instead the Batmobile came to a stop and transformed into a tank.

Batman AK 2

There are needlessly large car battles and even stealth Batmobile sections, both of which felt clunky and always seemed to break the pacing of the game. At one stage I almost walked away from the game entirely after an extremely draining chunk of time trying to finish one mission. Frustrating doesn’t cover it, especially as for most of the game you feel powerful and in control of combat – the Batmobile stuff just didn’t really work, sadly.

Thankfully that is the only real complaint I had with Batman: Arkham Knight, for the majority of the game I was having a blast and another of the new mechanics, Fear Takedowns, was a big reason. This ability allows you to cherry pick enemies to take out in order. Time stops and as you select targets Batman will automatically knock them out. As you upgrade the ability you can string more attacks together, mainly to be used for face to face combat. This means you can stalk your enemies first, taking them out with stealth attacks, and then confront the last four or five, taking them out immediately in quick succession.

Rocksteady do a fine job of bringing all of the Batman characters that you know and love into the final chapter of their trilogy. I’m not a big fan of Batman but I knew most of the characters here and even the ones I didn’t had interesting enough missions that I got to learn a little about them. There is a huge amount of content in the game, my playthrough was probably around 16-18 hours but that was doing a fair chunk of side content. I had finished the main storyline and completed almost half of the Most Wanted missions with an overall completion stat of 69%, so that gives you an idea of how much is here.

Batman AK 3

As much as I loved Arkham Asylum, for me Arkham Knight is a superior game overall. Not as ground breaking as the first title in the series but more fleshed out in terms of game world and content. To have the freedom of Gotham to explore, stumbling across villain missions or just taking in the (gorgeous) sights of the broken city, is a wonderful thing. This is a game to take your time with, to savour your surroundings and the world Rocksteady have created. Unfortunately a lot of the pacing and general enjoyment is ruined by the Batmobile missions – they are forced on you too much and leave a bad, frustrating, taste. Arkham Knight is the ultimate Batman game but be prepared to suffer through a few sections to be able to appreciate it all.

Rating: 8/10

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Top 100 Single Player PS3 Games: Part 8 (30-21)

I can’t believe we’re almost at the top ten, it seems like quite a while ago now I started compiling this list!

If you’ve missed the previous installments, catch up here!

Part One (100-91)

Part Two (90-81)

Part Three (80-71)

Part Four (70-61)

Part Five (60-51)

Part Six (50-41)

Part Seven (40-31)

Please bear in mind this list doesn’t take into account multiplayer aspects of games, it’s based solely on single player experience.

Let’s get into the Top 30…

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30. Hitman Absolution

Hitman1

In Hitman Absolution, Agent 47 has gone rogue after carrying out a mission in which he kills his former handler ‘Diana’. As a complex plot unravels you will be tasked with using all of your Hitman skills to track and eliminate targets to get information.

The controls are tight and Agent 47 handles well. I liked the feel of the shooting and felt that they did a good job of making your shots seem like they were landing with a suitable punch.

I can’t recommend Hitman Absolution enough. There are a range of difficulty levels (the higher ones remove instinct etc) so whether you want to get into Hitman or are a long time fan of the series, this game has a lot to offer. It’s not perfect and sometimes a little wonky AI or level design comes into play but this is a great title that you can have a whole heap of fun with.

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29. Portal 2

Portal 2 is essentially a puzzle game – a series of rooms that you have to work your way out of using a gun that shoots portals. Once you have shot two portals you can use them to travel between and (hopefully) escape the room.

The story that runs alongside the puzzles is interesting and while it’s a device to get you through puzzle rooms I found it to be enjoyable, especially considering the small amount characters in the game. It has a great sense of comedy, with a fair few jokes that had me chuckling out loud.

Further down the line you’ll have plenty of other elements thrown into the mix and you’ll need to use everything at your disposal to get out of the rooms. Definitely one to try.

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28. Assassin’s Creed II

Assassin’s Creed II picks up with Desmond Miles after the conclusion of the first game as he escapes with Lucy Stillman from the Abstergo Industries building and finds himself in a safe house with a new Animus, delving into another set of ancestral memories.

This time you’ll be playing as Ezio in Italy in the 1400′s. This is a glorious setting as you move between Tuscany, Florence, Venice and more. The difference in areas is apparent and they have gone to a lot of trouble to make each feel individual.

As well as the main plot missions there are a wealth of side missions and collectibles – this freedom of choice means you never feel railroaded into anything and delivers a wonderful gaming experience.

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27. Bayonetta

Bayonetta 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.

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!

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26. Battlefield: Bad Company 2

BFBC2

The single player campaign of Bad Company 2 is a wonderful blast through several impressive set pieces and the feeling of being in ‘B’ Company really adds to the experience.

That sense of community and closeness to the characters is a big bonus and probably the main reason Battlefield’s campaign stands head and shoulders above Modern Warfare 2.

Clocking in at around 8/9 hours it’s also almost double the length of Infinity Ward’s offering but it occasionally lacks the polish of Call Of Duty – perhaps down to the fact that everything is destructable in the environment. Overall though this is a great single player experience.

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25. Infamous 2

Infamous 2 is a more polished version of the original – if you’re looking for a vastly different game then this isn’t it. But with the first game being so enjoyable why change the formula?

I thought the story was excellent and the characters feel a lot stronger than the original. As before you can upgrade your powers depending on various factors and there are certainly some fun ones in there.

The Karma system returns and for the big choices is as obvious as before but it’s a nice touch to have the choice of approaching a handful of missions as either good or evil, regardless of your current karma level. I must say the final choice of the game had me sitting there for about 5 minutes fighting with myself over what to do.

If you liked the first game you will love this. If you haven’t you don’t need to have played the original (though I’d recommend it) to get the sequel. Infamous 2 was one of the stronger single player games I blasted through that year.

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24. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

UCDrakesFortune

Uncharted maps the journey of Nathan Drake as he tries to find the lost treasure of El Dorado encountering, among other things, rival treasure hunters and mercenaries.

The graphics are unbelievable and the gameplay is well paced and well thought out. The characters and story and really well conceived and Nolan North, who voices Drake, is absolutely spot on with his irreverent humour and wisecracks.

At its heart Uncharted is an action adventure game much in the vein of Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider but, and I say this as a fan of both of these, it is better than either of them.

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23. Killzone 3

Picking up the story directly after the events at the end of the last game, you reprise your role as Tomas ‘Sev’ Sevchenko with the ISA (Interplanetary Strategic Alliance) trying to get off the planet Helghan – only to be met with the full force of the Helghast, who have regrouped following the climax of Killzone 2.

If you’re looking for a game to redefine or revolutionise the first person shooter genre then you are looking in the wrong place. Killzone 3 brings very little to the table in terms of new ideas but most people picking this up won’t be expecting it to.

This game is about taking down the Helghast, even if you are on the back foot. And what a blast it is.

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22. Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman AA 2

With some wonderful voice acting from the cast of the animated series, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s story moves at a good pace and familiar enemies are used to good effect throughout.

With such a vivid setting and a memorable selection of bad guys from Batman’s career it’s no surprise that Arkham Asylum is such a great game.

Despite the odds being stacked against it, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a quality title that has had a lot of care put into making it. I’d recommend this to anyone.

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21. God Of War III

God Of War III picks up exactly where God Of War II ended and the opening is stunning in it’s sheer scale.

The first part of the level sees you fighting enemies on a Titan’s back before you quickly move onto a boss battle that, quite frankly, would appear at the end of most other games. From there on out Kratos’ rampage against the Gods continues at full speed.

Most of the highlights of the game come from the boss battles, unless perhaps you are a fan of puzzle based gameplay – if so you’re well catered for here.

If you’re a fan of the other games in the series or have never tried a God Of War title before then jump straight in and get ready for a bloodbath… this is a game you have to play if you own a PS3 and is one of the best single player experiences out there.

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So another ten games down as we get set to make an assault on the Top 20 – check back next week for the penultimate edition of the Top 100!

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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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Top 50 Single Player Games: Part Four (20-11)

So here we go – the Top 20! 😎

If you’ve just joined us (where have you been?!)  click here for Parts One , Two and Three.

As previously highlighted I’m mainly focusing on good story based experiences, so things like FIFA or Madden won’t be appearing on the list.

Let’s get stuck in:

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20. ASSASSIN’S CREED II (13)

Assassin’s Creed II picks up with Desmond Miles after the conclusion of the first game as he escapes with Lucy Stillman from the Abstergo Industries building and finds himself in a safe house with a new Animus, delving into another set of ancestral memories.

This time you’ll be playing as Ezio in Italy in the 1400′s. This is a glorious setting as you move between Tuscany, Florence, Venice and more. The difference in areas is apparent and they have gone to a lot of trouble to make each feel individual.

As well as the main plot missions there are a wealth of side missions and collectibles – this freedom of choice means you never feel railroaded into anything and delivers a wonderful gaming experience.

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19. BAYONETTA (NE)

Bayonetta 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.

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. :???: :lol:

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18. KILLZONE 2 (12)

Killzone 2′s biggest achievement is, possibly because of the brilliant graphics, sound and AI, that you feel involved and become embedded in the Killzone universal whenever you pick up the pad.

It’s not perfect by any means but at the time it was easily the best first person shooter I’d played and I recommend anyone with a remote interest in this genre to check this out immediately!

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17. BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM (11)

With some wonderful voice acting from the cast of the animated series, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s story moves at a good pace and familiar enemies are used to good effect throughout.

With such a vivid setting and a memorable selection of bad guys from Batman’s career it’s no surprise that Arkham Asylum is such a great game.

Despite the odds being stacked against it, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a quality title that has had a lot of care put into making it. I’d recommend this to anyone.

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16. GOD OF WAR III (10)

God Of War III picks up exactly where God Of War II ended and the opening is stunning in it’s sheer scale.

The first part of the level sees you fighting enemies on a Titan’s back before you quickly move onto a boss battle that, quite frankly, would appear at the end of most other games. From there on out Kratos’ rampage against the Gods continues at full speed.

Most of the highlights of the game come from the boss battles, unless perhaps you are a fan of puzzle based gameplay – if so you’re well catered for here.

If you’re a fan of the other games in the series or have never tried a God Of War title before then jump straight in and get ready for a bloodbath… this is a game you have to play if you own a PS3 and is one of the best single player experiences out there at the moment.

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15. DEAD SPACE 2 (NE)

Continuing the story of Isaac Clarke, Dead Space 2 picks up three years after the first game was set, with Clarke now finding himself as a citizen on the Sprawl – a huge space station development on one of Saturn’s moons.

Sadly for Clarke he has no knowledge of the last three years and discovers a situation has arisen that only someone with his expertise can deal with.

Visceral continue their great job of creeping you out by NOT throwing stuff at you. I would’ve liked to have seen slightly more of the insanity that featured in NPC’s during the original game but on the whole the Sprawl is definitely somewhere you wouldn’t want to find yourself and this is a game well worth playing through.

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14. INFAMOUS (9)

So good it’s the only game this generation I’ve played through twice (seeing it’s rating bumped from 8/10 to 9/10), Infamous is a great game.

You control Cole McGrath, a courier who just happens to be carrying a package containing an electronic bomb when it goes off, devasting the city. Somehow Cole survives and, after coming out of a coma, realises the explosion has given him electrical superpowers.

From there on out the city is your oyster and there is plenty to do as you try to track down the people behind the explosion.

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13. KILLZONE 3 (NE)

Picking up the story directly after the events at the end of the last game, you reprise your role as Tomas ‘Sev’ Sevchenko with the ISA (Interplanetary Strategic Alliance) trying to get off the planet Helghan – only to be met with the full force of the Helghast, who have regrouped following the climax of Killzone 2.

If you’re looking for a game to redefine or revolutionise the first person shooter genre then you are looking in the wrong place. Killzone 3 brings very little to the table in terms of new ideas but most people picking this up won’t be expecting it to.

This game is about taking down the Helghast, even if you are on the back foot. And what a blast it is.

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12. ASSASSIN’S CREED: BROTHERHOOD (NE)

Brotherhood continues the Assassin’s Creed story with Ezio Auditore in 1499 and Desmond Miles in 2012, picking up exactly where the second game left off.

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.

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. This is a monster of a game that will keep you entertained for ages.

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11. L.A NOIRE (NE)

L.A Noire takes place in 1940′s L.A, with you taking on the role of Cole Phelps – recently returned from the war and starting out as a cop on the beat.

While a lot of people felt that this would be a 1940′s GTA (much like Red Dead Redemption was a Western version of GTA in many people’s eyes) Team Bondi have crafted a much more linear experience than expected.

The game this most reminds me of is Heavy Rain, stunning captures of the actors and an interesting, if flawed, story. Unfortunately it doesn’t feature the numerous different endings that Heavy Rain does so you don’t ever feel the story is in your hands.

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So we head into the Top 10 – what are you guys expecting to see in there?

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Top 30 Single Player Games – Part Two (15-1)

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So, following on from the first half of the Top 30, here we are the top 15 single player games on the PS3 – quite a few new entries on the list. See what you think!

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15. HEAVENLY SWORD (13)

Heavenly Sword Main

Another game that didn’t garner the respect it deserves, primarily because it didn’t live up to the pre-release hype.

If you like God Of War you will like this game as it’s similar in style but it looks gorgeous in HD and I believe did a few bits (combos/blocking etc) better than the first two God Of War games.

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14. GHOSTBUSTERS (11)

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters: The Video Game’s plot is essentially the third movie – set in 1991 you’re a rookie who’s been drafted in to help with the ever increasing ghost workload. A huge paranormal blast sets off a chain of events that only one group of guys can deal with…

For me Ghostbusters was a short (5 hour) game that had me chuckling and geeking out despite it’s flaws – it won’t be to everyone’s tastes but it has a good single player storyline.

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13. ASSASSIN’S CREED II

Assassin’s Creed II picks up with Desmond Miles after the conclusion of the first game as he escapes with Lucy Stillman from the Abstergo Industries building and finds himself in a safe house with a new Animus, delving into another set of ancestral memories.

This time you’ll be playing as Ezio in Italy in the 1400’s. This is a glorious setting as you move between Tuscany, Florence, Venice and more. The difference in areas is apparent and they have gone to a lot of trouble to make each feel individual.

As well as the main plot missions there are a wealth of side missions and collectibles – this freedom of choice means you never feel railroaded into anything and delivers a wonderful gaming experience.

.

12. KILLZONE 2 (10)

Killzone2 2

Killzone 2’s biggest achievement is, possibly because of the brilliant graphics, sound and AI, that you feel involved and become embedded in the Killzone universal whenever you pick up the pad.

It’s not perfect by any means but it’s easily the best first person shooter I’ve played and I recommend anyone with a remote interest in this genre to check this out immediately!

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11. BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM (9)

Batman

With some wonderful voice acting from the cast of the animated series, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s story moves at a good pace and familiar enemies are used to good effect throughout.

With such a vivid setting and a memorable selection of bad guys from Batman’s career it’s no surprise that Arkham Asylum is such a great game.

Despite the odds being stacked against it, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a quality title that has had a lot of care put into making it. I’d recommend this to anyone.

.

10. GOD OF WAR 3

God Of War III picks up exactly where God Of War II ended and the opening is stunning in it’s sheer scale.

The first part of the level sees you fighting enemies on a Titan’s back before you quickly move onto a boss battle that, quite frankly, would appear at the end of most other games. From there on out Kratos’ rampage against the Gods continues at full speed.

Most of the highlights of the game come from the boss battles, unless perhaps you are a fan of puzzle based gameplay – if so you’re well catered for here.

If you’re a fan of the other games in the series or have never tried a God Of War title before then jump straight in and get ready for a bloodbath… this is a game you have to play if you own a PS3 and is one of the best single player experiences out there at the moment.

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9. INFAMOUS (8)

Infamous

So good it’s the only game this generation I’ve played through twice (seeing it’s rating bumped from 8/10 to 9/10), Infamous is a great game.

You control Cole McGrath, a courier who just happens to be carrying a package containing an electronic bomb when it goes off, devasting the city. Somehow Cole survives and, after coming out of a coma, realises the explosion has given him electrical superpowers.

From there on out the city is your oyster and there is plenty to do as you try to track down the people behind the explosion.

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8. BIOSHOCK (7)

bioshock

Bioshock has a great story to tell and it does it well with some interesting objectives and brilliantly designed levels.

There are several twists and turns in the plot, most of which are not obvious and it’s no surprise to me that a film version is in the works (although I believe currently suspended due to budget concerns).

Dark worlds like Rapture aren’t to everyone’s tastes but you really would be missing out on an awesome story if you decided not to book a trip to the underwater city.

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7. GTA IV (6)

GTA IV

One the biggest selling games of this generation GTA IV features the fortunes (and lack therof) of Niko Bellic – an immigrant arriving in the US at Liberty City to find empty promises and broken dreams from his cousin Roman.

As you work your way up the criminal ladder you’ll encounter all sort of dodgy characters and befriend even more.

Liberty City is a wonderful, if run down, place and Niko Bellic’s story is one you will enjoy playing through so make sure you pick this game up as soon as possible.

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6. FALLOUT 3 (5)

Fallout 3

After a tough few hours at the start you will find yourself rewarded greatly for sticking with this awesome FPS / RPG.

The story line sprawls across the world depending on your actions and you’ll find yourself taking a break from main missions to explore the wasteland or help out other characters.

I could go on and on about various things that happened and how cool it was, how great the story was or whatever.

But Fallout 3 is a game that needs to be experienced first hand and your story will no doubt play out differently to mine.

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5. METAL GEAR SOLID 4 (4)

Metal Gear Solid 4

Hideo Kojima’s tale of Solid Snake’s final mission is a brilliant showcase of the Playstation 3’s power.

This is a game that often gives you three or four different ways of approaching things – whether you realise it or not.

Metal Gear Solid 4 rewards those patient enough to stick with it by giving them a great gaming experience, with some memorable boss battles, that they won’t forget.

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4. HEAVY RAIN

Heavy Rain is the spiritual successor to Fahrenheit, a fantastic PS2 title, and it’s creators have used the lessons from that game to help form the experience that is Heavy Rain.

And I say experience because Heavy Rain is unlike anything I’ve played before.

Telling the story of the Origami Killer, who kidnaps young boys and drowns them in rain water, Heavy Rain sees you controlling four main characters and through their actions – whether everyday stuff like carrying in the shopping or a frantic fight for their life – you get a real feel for the characters.

It says a lot that as soon as I finished this game I wanted to play through it again straight away. I want to give the characters a slightly different personality, experiment to see what happens and find out how it changes the story.

Heavy Rain is by no means perfect but it brings a whole raft of new ideas and innovation to the table.

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3. DEAD SPACE (3)

Dead Space

Coming on somewhere between Event Horizon and Aliens, Dead Space is a third person survival horror game.

You take on the role of Isaac Clarke, a ship engineer who finds himself trapped onboard a stricken spaceship infested with an alien outbreak which is threatening to take over the ship.

This was one of the best games I played last year, it’s use of sound is immense and the fear of the unexpected they create is awesome.

I am not a big fan of horror movies or being made to jump all the time but Dead Space kept on the right side of all that by being unpredictable enough to be enjoyable as a ‘horror’ experience.

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2. UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE (2)

Uncharted Drake's Fortune

Uncharted maps the journey of Nathan Drake as he tries to find the lost treasure of El Dorado encountering, among other things, rival treasure hunters and mercenaries.

The graphics are unbelievable and the gameplay is well paced and well thought out. The characters and story and really well conceived and Nolan North, who voices Drake, is absolutely spot on with his irreverent humour and wisecracks.

At its heart Uncharted is an action adventure game much in the vein of Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider but, and I say this as a fan of both of these, it is better than either of them.

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1. UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES (1)

Uncharted 2

Uncharted 2 is a complete gaming package. There is plenty of taking out bad guys, lots of puzzles and some wonderful dialogue.

Naughty Dog really have done a great job on the voice acting and the expressiveness of the character models. It is easily the best I’ve come across (though Heavenly Sword was a close second).

I won’t spoil the story but for those who don’t know, Nathan Drake gets pulled back into that murky world of treasure hunting for hire. I loved the story of this game – with a few twists I saw coming and a few I didn’t.

If you own a PS3 there is no reason not to own this game – if you only have an XBox 360 or Wii then get yourself a PS3 Slim and enjoy one of the most finely crafted games I’ve ever experienced.

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So there you have it, can anything break Nathan Drake’s stranglehold on the top two spots?

With a whole heap of new games coming up – not to mention the backlog of brilliant single player stuff I’m working my way through – I suspect by the next time I put this list together it will have even more great games added! 😎

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Aliens Vs Predator – Review (PS3)

 

I’d been looking forward to Aliens Vs Predator for quite a while and having had a (brief) hands on at Eurogamer last year I was pretty excited to finally pop the disc into my PS3.

Sadly what followed didn’t live up to my high expectations.

Let me begin by saying Aliens Vs Predator is not a bad game. It’s decently sized (around 9 hours) and well paced. The story is ok and you get to experience the campaign from 3 totally different perspectives.

So why the disappointment?

As insane as it sounds I think Rebellion gives the player too much control over the characters – and by that I mean in terms of what you can do and how, often, it’s damn awkward to actually pull off.

Playing as the Alien holding down R2 allowed you to traverse walls and ceilings, which of course in theory is awesome but the reality was basically me ending up completely confused as to where I was. Or more importantly where my prey was.

As the Predator it’s often hit and miss as to whether you can jump to a higher ledge and it felt like you had to be in a hidden ‘sweet spot’ before you could jump up to ledges. Very annoying when trying to escape oncoming attacks and when you can see the Predator would blatantly be able to jump such a paltry distance… but the game won’t let you.

The Marine campaign didn’t really suffer in this respect as it’s a standard ‘bug hunt’ so to speak. I enjoyed this the most as Rebellion have done a great job recreating the feel of the films.

The balancing of the species is handled really well, each feeling suitably powerful but having their vulnerabilities. The times when it worked with Alien or Predator it was very satisfying but more often than not the controls/mechanic let it down.

Playing a game like this you want to feel empowered but not invincible – Batman: Arkham Asylum did this almost to perfection last year, here half the time it’ll bodge what you are trying to do and you’ll end up just killing everyone in the fallout.

The multiplayer has severe connction issues but if you can get a game it’s quite good fun. Problem being 9 times out of 10 I couldn’t get a game and was stuck with a ‘searching for games’ screen for 10 minutes at a time.

All three campaigns have their moments of brilliance and Alien Vs Predator, while frustrating at times is a fun game to play through – especially if you are a fan of the films.

Rating: 6/10

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GregHorrorShow Game Awards 2009

2009 has, in my opinion, been one of the best years ever to be a gamer.

With so many great games arriving and with plenty of 2008’s hits (Bioshock/Fallout 3/GTA IV/Metal Gear Solid 4 etc) falling in price it’s a great time to own a PS3.

Throw the PSP resurgence into the mix and it adds up to one brilliant era for games.

Anyway, now onto the main event! The awards you’ve been waiting for…

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BEST DLC (Downloadable Content)

WINNER: Fallout 3 – Expansion Packs

 

Offering hours and hours more gameplay and an extended level cap to boot, the various DLC packs for Fallout 3 were well above anything else that arrived this year. Getting back into the Capital Wasteland never felt so good. 🙂

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 2 – Maps

LittleBigPlanet – Various Costumes

Batman – Play as Joker Challenge Maps

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

WINNER: Killzone 2 (Changing Game Modes Within A Consistent Online Match)

Killzone brought the noise in more ways than one but the changing game types within one online game was pretty sweet. Meaning that just as you’d be capturing the flag (speaker) the game could switch to deathmatch (Body Count) or whatever which in turn means that no two rounds are ever the same – genius.

RUNNERS UP:

InFamous (Karma System Working Within Empire City)

Prototype (Running Up Buildings)

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Deathstreaks)

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BEST TRAILER

WINNER: Assassin’s Creed II

There were lots of amazing trailers in 2009 but for me the most impressive both visually and with respect to what the gameplay promised, was Assassin’s Creed II. A fantastic game that saw you playing through the 1400’s in Italy, the trailer showed off exactly what the game had to offer.

RUNNERS UP:

Uncharted 2

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

God Of War 3

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2010:

WINNER: Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Heavy Rain was nailed on for this and while it’s still one of my most anticipated games of next year, playing through the beta of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has swayed me in favour of DICE’s first person shooter. With vehicles as well as guns this one looks set to rock it come March 2010.

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

WINNER: Killzone 2 (Joris De Man)

There have been plenty of great scores in the games of 2009 but Killzone 2’s is awesome. ‘Helgan Forever’, the main theme, will live long in the memory – mainly due to the fact that it is a fantastic, stirring, piece of music. Brilliant throughout the game, Joris De Man’s score is a great companion to a stunning game. 

RUNNERS UP:

Uncharted 2

Infamous

Prototype

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

WINNER: Dirt 2

With a soundtrack featuring the might of Elbow, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Subways, Black Tide, Ladyhawke and Queens Of The Stone Age, Dirt 2 takes pole position in the soundtrack stakes. With a nice variety of styles it says a lot when you don’t get bored of the tracks after hearing them a few times and the inventive use of music through the menus and loading screens was a great touch.

RUNNERS UP:

Motorstorm: Arctic Edge (PSP)

Wet

Brutal Legend

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BEST VOICE ACTING

WINNER: Uncharted 2

Well, what can you say about the voice acting of Uncharted 2. It has to be one of the very best performances ever given in a game. I listened to an interview in which the cast compared the experience to theatre as they were all in the same room together for all of the voicing/motion capture and boy does it show. The chemistry between all the actors involved is apparent throughout and some of the ad libbed stuff is stunning.

RUNNERS UP:

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Wet

Batman: Arkham Ayslum

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BEST GRAPHICS

WINNER: Uncharted 2

Killzone 2 ran Uncharted 2 very, very close for this award but in the end Naughty Dog takes it on the variety of stunning locations they manage to fit into the game – especially the areas with some of the most realistic snow I’ve ever seen. The character models are superb and the animation is extremely well done. 

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 2

Dirt 2

Batman: Arkham Asylum

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BEST SPORTS GAME

WINNER: FIFA 10

If you’d told me 18 months ago FIFA would be winning an award on my blog I would’ve thought you were insane. In tandom with the decline of PES, FIFA has risen to former glories and is now the definitive football (soccer) game. This game actually makes you think about the build up play well in advance and, even more importantly, lets you have full control over the action on the pitch.

RUNNERS UP:

Fight Night Round 4

Dirt 2

Madden 10

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BEST PSP GAME

WINNER: GTA Chinatown Wars

There have been some great titles for the PSP this year but GTA Chinatown Wars pips them all at the post for sheer volume. There is so much to do in Liberty City and while the missions are bite sized there are plenty of them to get stuck into. A cast of colourful characters (as usual) helps matters and this is a fitting entry into the GTA universe. 

RUNNERS UP:

Assassin’s Creed Bloodlines

Resistance: Retribution

LittleBigPlanet

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BEST STORYLINE

WINNER: InFamous

 

Infamous was a surprise hit for me as I was looking forward to Prototype a lot more. However Cole McGrath’s story of dealing with superpowers and finding out how the explosion happened was so great I played the game twice. With a few twists I didn’t see coming this game boasts a really great story. Uncharted 2 ran this close as it had a brilliant story but Infamous just pips it at the post.

RUNNERS UP:

Wet

Assassin’s Creed II

Uncharted 2

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Uncharted 2

Undoubtedly the best single player game for some time, Uncharted 2 makes you feel like the star of the best action movie ever. This is one of those games where all the pieces come together so well it’s a completely seamless experience. Brilliant.

RUNNERS UP:

Infamous

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Assassin’s Creed II

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Killzone 2

Is there a more satisfying sound that the ping of a kill on Killzone 2? 🙂 Giving the players more weight made the game feel heavier but seemingly fairer than a ‘twitch’ shooter like Modern Warfare 2. Killzone 2 is certainly the game I spent most time online with this year – clocking up in excess of 100 hours, which is a first for me. Great online fun.

RUNNERS UP:

Dirt 2

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Uncharted 2

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GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Uncharted 2

Naughty Dog’s excellent Uncharted 2 is no surprise as game of the year. Having already seen it take the gong at Spike’s VGA Awards I am following suit and giving Uncharted 2 the Game Of The Year Award for 2009. A fantastic, deep gaming experience with a great multiplayer added to boot. Seriously I’d like to speak to someone who played this and didn’t like it. As a whole Uncharted 2 is the best game in years and a very worthy winner.

RUNNERS UP:

InFamous

Assassin’s Creed II

Killzone 2

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Wow, still struggling to believe we’re nearly done with 2009!

It says a lot about this year that a title as great as Batman: Arkham Asylum can be nominated for 4 awards and not win one. Quality titles abound.

It’s been an amazing year for gaming and the quality looks set to continue into 2010 with a host of great releases.

Let me know what your highlights were for 2009!

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