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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Fight Night Round 4 – Review (PS3)

FightNight2

I’ve been looking forward to Fight Night Round 4 for years – literally. Round 3 was released way back in 2006 so I’ve been eagerly keeping my eyes and ears open for news on a fourth installment. I was happy to find out last year that the game was scheduled for 2009.

I really enjoyed Fight Night Round 3 but it was just a graphical overhaul (albeit a very good one) of the Playstation 2 version.

Following on from my Demo Impressions blog I can confirm that the changes we wanted have been made for Round 4.

Firstly the knockdowns – rather than a set animation you now have a more fluid way of falling to the canvas. It’s much improved and while not perfect (you will sometimes see the same fall more than once) it’s probably as good as they are gonna get it.

Secondly the overpowered haymakers – this has definitely been sorted. Now not every haymaker stuns an opponent which is great news and the ones that do feel like solid punches that would genuinely do damage. Also being stunned doesn’t always mean you’re on your way down now.

FightNight1

In the previous game getting hit with a haymaker saw your health drop to almost nothing and a punch or two would be enough to drop you, regardless of what stage the fight was at. Now your remaining health flashes red, your boxer staggers slightly, you are slow in getting your guard up and whilst your opponents shots take off more health it’s easier to clinch or just soak up a little punishment to survive.

It makes the game a lot more interesting and fights seem to last a longer. In multiplayer fights in Round 3 you were often done in 2 or 3 rounds whereas in Fight Night Round 4 that is still possible, but most fights seem to go 5 or 6 rounds. You really feel like each fight is a battle now.

You use the left stick to move your boxer with the right stick controlling punches. So push the right stick up to the left – left jab. Push it up to the right – right jab. Holding L1 and moving the left stick leans, while R1 and the right stick blocks. It takes a while to get used to but it’s such a great control system.

The career mode is horrendously addictive – you create a boxer (or use a legend/current boxer) and take them on the journey that is their boxing career.

Let me briefly interrupt myself to discuss Photo Game Face, something EA has been pushing recently. I thought I would give it a try – basically you need a photo of yourself front on and side on then you move lots of crosshairs to indicate where your eyes/nose are etc. Once that’s done you can play around with some sliders to tweak your appearance and voila!

Now I always create myself whenever this sort of career mode arises and this is the closest I have ever got. Seriously, everyone I’ve shown it to has been impressed. It will probably add 15/20 mins onto your create time but it’s worth it (and you can use the face on any EA game without having to recreate it at all). NB. My main tip once you get to the slider part is get your wife/girlfriend to give you a hand as they can tell you what you look like better than a mirror and mine certainly wouldn’t have have looked as good without some help!

FightNight3

Anyway, back to career mode – you schedule your own fights on the calendar and get to put some training in first. Training is only 1 or 2 sessions and you can auto train but only get 50% of the possible benefits. I kept up with the training until I got into the top 5 then I switched to auto from there.

So you’ll fight and work your way up the rankings. You start ranked 50th and the first four or five guys you fight will pretty much be punchbags but once you hit the top 30/25 things will be more challenging.

I certainly found it a struggle once I got to the Top 15 – I was losing lots of fights on decision and didn’t have the stamina. So I changed tactics and didn’t go hell for leather which helped and really improved things – I still lost fights here and there but it was a steady climb from there.

Until a four hour session last weekend saw me clinch the EABC (Electronic Arts Boxing Comission) title. I was most pleased and it was even sweeter as it was at the second attempt following a 9th round KO defeat in my previous attempt.

There is more than one belt in each weight division and I believe you can also switch weights if you wish – however it took me until age 32 (starting at 18) to win the title so I doubt I’ll have much chance to switch weights! 😆

FightNight4

For me that makes it great – the fact I didn’t breeze through beating everyone up is a plus. My record currently is 21 Wins (17 by KO) 17 Losses and 1 Draw (I was robbed 🙂 ). 17 defeats is quite high but I reckon more than half of them were times I just couldn’t finish the man off and lost on points.

I even had my trainer begging me to quit (three times – it was a new low for a career mode in gaming 😆 ) but like Rocky I stuck it out and eventually got the belt.

The thing I love about this game though is the fact it’s a great pick up and play title. Anyone can get involved once they know the basic controls and while not as bad as a button masher they can still give you a good fight while frantically rotating the sticks in any direction 🙂

I’d recommend this to anyone, it’s great fun and has a surprisingly deep career mode.

Rating: 9/10

Fight Night Round 4 Demo – Initial Impressions

fnr41

Well it’s taken long enough! 🙂

Since Round 3’s release back in 2006 boxing fans have been desperate for a new version of Fight Night.

Round 3 was basically just a graphically superior version of the PS2 game and while we were all wowed by the graphics it wasn’t long until we noticed two main flaws with the game:

1) Each knockdown had the same animation set.

2) You could win fights in seconds by using the haymakers – well over powered.

So as I sat waiting for the demo to download last night I had my fingers crossed that these points had been remedied.

Upon loading I’m treated to a trailer explaining what will be in the full game and I have to say it sounds great – especially the career mode and the idea of having champions online that you can challenge if you rank high enough 😎

But back to the demo, first things first we head to the gym for training.

Now the big change as far as I’m concerned is that haymakers are now activated by holding R2 and going through the punch motion rather than dragging the right analogue stick back further before following the punch through like in round 3.

fnr42

Pushing the stick towards the bottom of the pad now lands body shots.

This for me is a much better system, although I think it’ll take me a while to get used to it – I found myself instinctively trying to pull off haymakers only to punch at my opponents body! 😆

It means you have a full set of punches at your desposal just on the right analogue stick.

If you do land a haymaker it’ll do more damage than a normal punch but luckily it’s not as devestating as the previous game (where a haymaker followed by one punch was often enough to put you down).

Parrying has gone but blocking remains, as well as leaning. Both of which are used to land counter punches that again do more damage but it’s all down to timing.

Occasionally a counter punch (or just a really good normal one) will stun your opponent – their health will drop to almost zero (flashing red) and it seems geniunely that all they can do is hang in there, blocking, looking for an opportunity to clinch.

Fighters can now get in close and punches aren’t a case of hit or miss – there are glancing blows and each punch is different.

You only have two fighters to choose from in the demo, Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao, but it’s such a step up from Round 3 you’ll be more interested in the game itself.

The demo is limited to 3 rounds and having played maybe 6 or 7 fights only one knockdown has occured (see below).

I suspect fights will last a lot longer in this game and tactics will come into play – especially with the between round RPG element of spending points you’ve earned in the fight on either Stamina, Damage or Health.

For me this looks like a great game and I’ll be interested to have a crack at the career mode.

I remember spending hours on Greatest Heavyweights on the Mega Drive (below) and boxing games have come a long way since then.

fnr4gh

I’d recommend downloading this and giving it a try, whether you’re a fan of boxing or not. I’ll certainly be picking up the full game based on this excellent demo.

MOST WANTED GAMES 2009/10 – PART ONE

This list started life as a Top Ten but as I began putting it together I thought I might as well just list everything that PS3 owners can look forward to in the future.

There were too many to fit in one blog so I’ve broken it down into two parts. The second part will be in the next week or so and will feature games that are further away on the horizon.

And so in no particular order, here’s what’s hot on the radar:

 

Terminator Salvation

Release Date: 19/05/09

I’ve read several previews of Terminator Salvation saying the game has ripped off Gears Of War and is similar is style. It certainly looks like Terminator has taken it’s inspiration from there.

And is this a bad thing? Obviously it’s great to have groundbreaking titles with fresh ideas but film licences are notoriously bad games (Iron Man anyone? :lol:).

If they can make a game half as good as Gears Of War with Terminators in it then I for one think that’s cool.

My only reservation is that the footage I’ve seen looks a little repetitive in parts but hopefully that won’t be a problem.

At the end of the day it’s been too long since we had a chance to shoot up some Terminators!

Here’s hoping for a downloadable Arnold skin for the main character at some stage!!!

Will certainly check the demo before buying though!

 

InFamous

Release Date: 26/05/09

InFamous has crept into this list at the last minute and the main reason I was reluctant to include it is the game’s apparent similarity to the forthcoming Prototype (see below).

Now I understand these two aren’t exactly the same but I do feel InFamous may not have the same impact as Prototype because the character is limited to a superpower based on electricity rather than a selection of powers.

Your character is called Cole, a man who not only survives a huge electrical explosion but actually gets powers from it. You’ll be chucking balls of electricity at enemies and using your electrical charge to glide through the air among other things.

Recent trailers & footage have hinted at some cool features and the good/bad karma angle seems interesting.

Graphically it looks great and it’s a PS3 exclusive so I suspect I’ll check it out at some stage depending on how much I enjoy the demo.

 

Prototype

Release Date: 09/06/09

Well it always seems the way – a style of game doesn’t get touched for ages then two come along at once.

I see absolutely no reason not to own both Prototype and InFamous if they are good enough. Both have a different story to tell and have been made by different people.

You play as Alex Mercer, waking up in the morgue and wondering what the hell is going on. You have no memory but luckily for you (not for everyone else :lol:) you can absorb other people’s appearances and memory by killing them 😮

And so the story begins as you try and piece together what the hell is going on and where your superpowers have appeared from.

Prototype seems to take itself less seriously than InFamous (performing an elbow drop on a tank :cool:) so I’m not sure how the story will play out.

Either way I’ll be getting this when it comes out in the Summer.

 

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Release Date: 09/06/09

I don’t think we’ve ever really had a great Batman game, although a friend vouches for Batman Begins, but Arkham Asylum looks like it could be something special.

Not restrained by being tied to a film the game has a level of freedom in design and story that isn’t often present in licensed games.

Basically Batman falls into the Joker’s trap by arresting him and taking him to the Asylum. The Joker escapes his chains and releases the inmates to take over the Asylum.

It’s up to Batman to punch, kick and batarang his way through.

It all looks great and the options for stealth or attack look pretty cool but I feel this one will come down to how they implement the control system.

Hopefully it’ll be easy enough to play and I’m looking forward to the demo, which should be with us in the next few weeks.

 

Red Faction

Release Date: 09/06/09

Another one that has crept into the list, Red Faction: Guerrilla makes an appearance based on how much fun the demo was.

I watched plenty of trailers and footage for this game without being overly impressed. The main selling point seemed to be the way everything destructs realistically and to me that wasn’t something of great interest – as long as it crumbles I don’t mind how it goes down. 🙂

But I’d underestimated how much fun it is to destroy things. Especially with an oversized hammer 😀

Might be worth a rent before I decide whether to invest but I’ll be keeping an eye on the reviews for this one.

 

Ghostbusters

Release Date: 16/06/09

Well we’ve certainly waited long enough – after being dropped by Activision Ghostbusters is almost upon us.

From the footage I’ve seen this could be a great game and to be honest with the original cast and the sound effects of the proton pack, Ecto 1 etc it could be a re-skinned version of any generic third person shooter and I’d be happy. 🙂

As it is the game seems to be getting ok feedback, maybe just above average, and apparently the script and delivery are excellent.

As someone who grew up with the films and cartoon TV series a decent Ghostbusters game has been a long time coming.

My inner child cannot wait to fire up his proton pack and bust some ghosts 😎

*sings On Our Own by Bobby Brown*

 

Call Of Juarez – Bound In Blood

Release Date: 30/06/09

And so we have the second of the Western themed games and this one seems a lot more linear and story driven than Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption (featured in Part Two).

You control two brothers and have the option to use either as you progress through the levels.

Both of them have different special abilties, one is great with long range weapons and the other can target multiple opponents before letting loose with both barrels.

I like the look of this and while the game looks to lack a degree of freedom I think that in some cases it’s nice to play a game and be led by the story.

Again one to check the demo first but a probable purchase.

 

Fight Night Round 4

Release Date: Summer 2009

I enjoyed Fight Night Round 3 but, quite frankly, it was just the PS2 version with shiny graphics.

This is a whole new game engine built from the ground up and based on physics.

It looks incredible and the movement of the fighters is much improved. Also the boxers can now get right up close, the ‘invisible wall’ from Round 3 has been removed.

The knockdowns are much better, the repetitive knockdown animation is gone and each knockdown will happen in real-time, which looks brilliant.

The roster has been increased and Lennox Lewis & Mike Tyson are both welcome inclusions.

This will be great to play with your mates and I should imagine online will be great (EA certainly does online very well) but I’m hoping for an extended career mode in single player.

A demo is pencilled in for mid May so it’s not long until we get a chance to try it out.

 

Alpha Protocol

Release Date: October 2009

Alpha Protocol is a spy-RPG (Role Playing Game), meaning effectively that you have a say in how your characters statistics develop through the game.

Want to be a crack shot? Level up your gun skills. How about a deadly weapon with your hands? Level up your martial arts skills.

You take control of an agent who is so deep under cover even your fellow agents don’t know about you. You get to mould his skills to suit your style of play as you go from location to location completing missions.

This game sounds like it could be really fun.

Added into the mix is what sounds like an excellent decision making mechanic whereby you are given three answers to choose from when asked a question but instead of sitting deliberating (“well if I say that x might happen but if I say y this might happen”) you get 5 seconds to answer or (I believe) it picks a passive answer for you.

It’s nice to see developers putting out games that don’t necessarily sit in one genre and I think Aplha Protocol could be an awesome story-based gaming experience.

 

M.A.G

Release Date: TBC 2009

MAG stands for Massive Action Game. It would have to be a pretty big game to actually label itself ‘Massive’ wouldn’t it?

Most games have 32 online players, there are a few that can support 64 players at a time. So what would constitute ‘Massive?’

80? 100? 150 surely? 200?!

Try 256. All human opponents. 128 players a side.
We are pretty much talking an actual war here 🙂 and judging from the trailer above this could be great fun, complete chaos but fun nonetheless.

I’m interested to see if they can actually pull It off successfully. This could be the game SOCOM wanted to be.

 

Heavy Rain

Release Date: TBC 2009

Now this is an interesting one, Heavy Rain is aiming to be a whole new gaming experience – more interactive and filmic than ever before.

Very little is known about the story itself and several rumours have been flying around regarding gameplay etc

The most interesting of which is the idea that the story continues until the end regardless. If you die you don’t replay the level you switch to another (different) character and continue the story from their perspective.

If that’s true it sounds awesome. Regardless of the rumours the game is shaping up to be one of the best looking and innovative title that is on the horizon.

 

God Of War 3

Release Date: TBA (2009/10)

Do I need to write anything here? 😆

Seriously it’s shaping up to top the previous two games, which is really saying something.

This is one of the jewels in Sony’s crown. Critically acclaimed and loved by gamers, the God Of War franchise is edging ever closer to it’s next-gen debut.

The footage above is obviously from a conference on a big screen but it still looks great – the movement of Kratos has obviously been improved and the the gameplay seems to flow better.

This will be massive and I cannot wait for it to arrive.

 

So there you have it – the first part of my most wanted games. I honestly don’t think there has been a better time to be a gamer – whether it’s on PS3, X-Box or Nintendo.

The scope, scale and production values on games is immense and there is a real value for money feel to most games nowadays, with almost all titles clocked in between 8 and 10 hours of gameplay in solo player campaigns. Not to mention multi-player.

Hope you enjoyed the list and Most Wanted – Part Two should be up next week.