Dishonored – Review (PS3)

Dishonored puts you in the shoes of Corvo Attano – Royal Protector (Bodyguard) of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin. You arrive back from a trip abroad investigating potential cures for the plague that is ravaging your city, only to find yourself framed for the murder of the Empress and thrown in jail.

As you escape, try to clear your name and find Emily, the Empress’ daughter, you’ll take on the role of assassin rather than protector. Corvo receives a boost of supernatural proportions which allows you to unlock various powers, such as freezing time, teleporting or possessing enemies.

Sadly this array of powers leads to one of the more confusing aspects of the game design – the second ‘tier’ of these powers is so steep in cost that if you choose to back one power you will miss out on lots of the others. So you’ll need to make that choice early on or spend an extended amount of time during the game to find the runes scattered about the level.

I understand wanting to keep a reign on the player’s power so they don’t just get everything too early in the game but I felt disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to try out some of the powers at all because of my choice of levelling up one power. I do see that they don’t want it to be too easy but I genuinely feel all the powers at the lowest level should have been unlocked during the story playthrough.

My gripe with power design aside, Dishonored is pretty good fun. Depending on the powers available to you and your approach to the missions (in terms of where/how you get into buildings/areas etc) you can have some varied playthroughs. Add to that the numerous ways you can kill characters (or non-lethally complete the missions) and the chances are you and your friends will have all completed the same mission in a different way.

The game also features a morality meter of sorts in it’s ‘Chaos’ system. The more people you kill, the higher the Chaos rating per mission. This accumulates over missions and eventually contributes to which of the three game endings you’ll get. However it should be noted that Dishonored’s endings are more in line with Bioshock 2’s subtlety different endings as opposed to something with drastic changes likes Heavy Rain.

While the game has a strong graphical style I actually wasn’t overly impressed with the visuals themselves. Some of the water effects didn’t look that great and on occasion the game just didn’t look as sharp as I would’ve expected. The style of the game is a positive though, despite those graphical issues.

Dishonored looked like being one of the freshest, inventive games of the year – unfortunately the design choice of not allowing you to unlock more on your first playthrough hinders things somewhat. It’s a good, solid, rewarding experience but I was just left feeling it could have been so much more.

Rating: 7/10

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Review (PS3)

I will start this review by making a disclaimer: I have not ‘finished’ Skyrim in the tradtional sense. Normally I will only review a game once I have finished it, in the interests of fairness.

However, as you’ll see when you read the below – I’m not sure if I’ll *ever* finish playing Skyrim.

Not because the game is bad – quite the opposite – but because, well… to be honest… I’ve never played anything like it.

That’s a fairly big claim to make as someone who has been playing games for over 25 years.

The content itself isn’t unique. It’s a first person, middle earth type Elves and Orcs affair in which you pick from a selection of races and build your character to take into the World.

There are swords, axes, maces, spells and potions.

While the gameplay is enjoyable and the mechanics are well designed (the combat is clunky for sure but it works) this isn’t anything surprising or revolutionary.

What Bethesda have done an amazing job on is making Skyrim feel like a blank canvas for your character.

It’s this aspect of the game that is like nothing else I’ve ever played. You could have a thrilling, intense gaming experience for tens of, possibly hundreds of, hours without even doing much in the way of the ‘main storyline.’

This is a game where exploring and doing side quests *feels* like the main game. The sense of freedom is intoxicating. Want to become skilled in magic and learn to raise the dead to fight for you? Then ignore the main quest marker and head north for The College Of Winterhold.

That’s what I did and in the (real-time) hours it took me to trek all the way up there on foot I encountered more and had a better gaming experience than some other titles provide in a main playthrough.

Graphically the game looks really nice, considering the sheer size of Skyrim. In particular the effects on the spells look great. Some of the character models do look a bit strange but for me it just adds to the feeling of being in an alien world.

I can’t speak much with regard to the main story, I have done a handful of those quests but the majority of my 20+ hours has been a self-created adventure with some truly memorable events.

A word of warning though – Skyrim has been plagued with issues. Bugs, game crashes etc. I personally have experienced no issues whatsoever but a lot of people have so it would be remiss of me not to mention them. The game has been patched several times so hopefully these problems have now gone.

If you’re looking for a game to sink hours and hours into then Skyrim is perfect for you. The sense that you can go anywhere and do anything is unlike anything else out there. This isn’t a game to play for a quick blast but if you can invest the time you won’t regret it.

Rating: 10/10

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Rage – Review (PS3)

Rage is a title that relies on that old game cliche of the world being post-apocalyptic, however in this instance the damage done to humanity wasn’t self inflicted via nuclear weapons but the result of an asteroid crashing into Earth.

What little is left of mankind scrabbles to rebuild itself into small communities and groups of bandits. Ahead of the disaster ‘The Authority’ arranged for some people to be buried in ‘Arks’ underground and released a safe time after the event.

You play as one of these people, emerging from your damaged Ark into a world you have no knowledge of.

It’s very much a ‘by the numbers’ post-apocalyptic scenario, familiar from other games like Fallout: New Vegas or Borderlands.

Rage is probably closest in scope to Borderlands but rather than the cell shaded look Gearbox’s title went for, Rage really goes to town on the graphics front. Sure it’s also a stylised cartoon look but it’s much more realistic looking.

While the graphics are definitely the game’s strong point, along with some lovely character animation, I did feel let down by the sheer amount of pop-in throughout the world. Every time you turn it takes the game a second or so to catch up, which can be extremely odd at times.

Seeing a blurry looking wall suddenly jump to a gloriously rendered wall destroyed the game’s bond with me and constantly reminded me that I was playing a game.

The buggy driving and fighting is good fun but in the end I just kept boosting past buggy fights as they didn’t feel worth the hassle as I made my way from A to B.

The shooting is solid and some great weapon design means things don’t feel too stale when choosing your armoury. Shots pop nicely, the weapons have a decent weight to them and the recoil is well balanced so that each shot counts.

Rage is a real slow burner from the start. Your initial introduction to the world with Dan Hagar (the criminally under-used John Goodman character) is impressive but you are then saddled with about 3 or 4 hours of fetch quests.

The game doesn’t really get going until you leave Wellspring which is a real shame because once it gets going it improves greatly.

As you progress and find yourself doing some of the larger missions Rage seems to hit stride. This ties in with the unlock of new weapons and the fact you will probably have more money to spend on equipment.

Clocking in at about 10 hours, Rage is an above average shooter that fizzes when at its best. Unfortunately there is too much filler in the first half of the game and the struggle with it’s graphics engine causes a big distraction. This means it doesn’t quite hit the lofty expectations most people had for it.

Rating 7/10

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Eurogamer Expo 2011

Earl’s Court in London was once again taken over by gamers as the hugely popular Eurogamer Expo hit town.

With a wealth of games on display and the first UK showing of Sony’s new handheld, the PSVita, it was set to be an exciting show.

So without further ado, here are the titles I managed to get my hands on:

.

TOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER

A few E3’s ago this game looked like a futuristic warfare shooter where you would be using lots of gadgets to take out your enemies. While this is still the case to an extent, the game this most reminded me of was SOCOM 4 – no bad thing. Definitely a solid third person shooter, I’d certainly be interesting in playing through this if the story is strong enough.

.

BATTLEFIELD 3

I make no apology for the fact that I *love* the campaign and online of Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Battlefield 3 is from the same makers but is the sequel to Battlefield 2, as opposed to Bad Company 2. Which means it’s more realistic and less like Kelly’s Heroes. We played the online beta (which releases to everyone on Thursday 29th September 2011) and I have to say ‘wow.’ Once I’d got used to the changes (the recoil kicks especially) I had a great few rounds. Graphically great this is definitely a step up from any other shooter out there.

* ‘BATTLEFIELD 3’ : GREGHORRORSHOW’S BEST IN SHOW – Eurogamer Expo 2011*

.

CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3

Spec Ops was the only thing I got a chance to play – they had the game set up with headsets so you could communicate with your partner and the whole experience was great fun. The game looks really nice and while it doesn’t have the realism of Battlefield in terms of recoil etc, Modern Warfare 3 will be lapped up by fans of the series.

.

INVERSION

Inversion is one of those games that hit me out of leftfield when I first saw footage of it earlier this year. It certainly looked interesting and the gravity based gun play seemed like it could be fun. Unfortunately while this may turn out to be the case the gameplay on offer here didn’t really sell me on the game. Not to mention the fact that graphically it was quite poor, with lots of jagged edges and pop in. Fingers crossed the full game gets more polish before release.

.

JOE DANGER: THE MOVIE

I really enjoyed Joe Danger and the follow up plays it safe in terms of gameplay, with great stunts and lots of combos. What changes here is that not every level is bike based – there are mine carts, skis and more besides as Joe shoots scenes for a film. Brilliant fun and with the game moving to XBox 360 as well even more people will be able to enjoy it.

*EDIT* Been told that Joe Danger isn’t confirmed for XBox 360 – so we’ll have to see what platforms are confirmed.

.

RAGE

Rage is one of those games that just never excited me. It certainly looked great but coming on as a cross between Fallout and Borderlands I wasn’t sure whether I would end up picking it up – there are only so many post apocalyptic shooters I can play… But having got my hands on it I’ve changed my mind. What impressed most was the enemy AI, the fact they ran for cover and scurried away to protect themselves was very cool. The shooting felt strong and I liked the vibe of the game. This has gone from a maybe to a definite play.

* ‘RAGE’ : GREGHORRORSHOW’S MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE – Eurogamer Expo 2011 *

.

AWESOMENAUTS

Awesomenauts is a downloadable, 2D online battle game in which you take control of one of a selection of cartoon mercenaries. The gameplay is objective based and was good fun for a quick blast. Each character has their own abilities and can contribute towards the goal of destroying the enemy base (while also defending your own). Not sure if I’ll pick it up but if you like battle arena games, this is something different.

.

SAINTS ROW: THE THIRD

The trailers for Saints Row made the game look like a fun open world title and after getting a chance to try it out I can confirm this is indeed the case. Running around shooting random people and dealing with the cops/enemy gang members when they showed up left me with a big smile on my face. The only problem I have is that the game didn’t do enough to convince me to pick it up so I’ll wait and see before making a decision.

.

STARHAWK

It was more than a little disappointing to find that the hands on with Starhawk was ground based as opposed to in the sky or being multiplayer. Regardless, the action was solid and fairly enjoyable, though it was reminiscent of Red Faction, without the comedy destruction. I’m still looking forward to this but I don’t think this demo would have sold many people.

.

BINARY DOMAIN

This almost took my Most Pleasant Surprise award but was pipped at the post by Rage. Looking very much like Vanquish, Binary Domain features a nice bit of squad interplay in that you can issue commands but also have conversations based on which members you included in your squad. Fast and loose shooting is the name of the game in this title and you’ll be ripping through evil robots on the way to, what I expect will be one of many, boss battles. Definitely one to watch out for if you liked Vanquish.

.

PS VITA

Well I got to *see* a Vita – unfortunately the queue was so long that we’d barely moved after 15 minutes and with time running out we had to make an executive decision to get out and see a few more games instead. It didn’t look as big as I’d heard it described, which is a good thing and although I was viewing from a distance the screen gave a pretty clear picture. Would’ve loved to have actually played one but sadly it wasn’t to be… yet!

————————————————————————————————————————————

So there we have it, lots on show and plenty of stuff to play. One of the bigger surprises for me was that Bioshock: Infinite didn’t make any sort of appearance – seemed weird for one of the biggest games of next year.

Overall the Eurogamer Expo goes from strength to strength – now I need to start planning for next year 🙂

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine