GregHorrorShow’s Guide To Gaming – Part 4: The Parent Edition

Guide Vol 4 Parents Main

So your kids are getting bigger, becoming small people with personalities and tastes of their own 🙂 All of a sudden they are asking about games… all their friends are playing games… can we get a console… can I play on the iPad… and so on and so forth. There is a hell of a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there with regards to games so we are going to discuss some of the stigmas around games and bust a few myths while we are at it.

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PEGI RATINGS

Guide Vol 4 Parents Ratings

So first things first, the most basic of all the information I have to share but also the most commonly misinterpreted. Most games aren’t made for children. That’s the best thing to get your head around. The average age of gamers is now 31. Unless it’s a game aimed at children, presume this was intended for adults to play. PEGI (Pan European Game Information) are the game equivalent of the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) for films. The age rating on the box of a game is the same as it would be for Film or TV. It is NOT a guide to the ability of your child like a puzzle or board game. These ratings are content based, not skill based. I once overheard a lady in a shop who had made this mistake and was considering buying her 10 year old son a copy of an 18+ rated game because ‘he is really good at games.’ Thankfully the shop assistant explained. So always check these ratings before allowing your child to play a game. Of course there is nothing to stop you allowing your child to play a higher rated game if you feel they are mature enough to handle it, that’s your call – my 4 year old daughter often played Skylanders with her bigger sister which was rated as 7+ and we had no issues. However, it should be a decision you make rather than just getting whatever game they ask for.

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PLAY TIME

Guide Vol 4 Parents Time

Gaming is no different to any other medium; a child should not be sitting down and playing their console all day. To be honest, adults shouldn’t be doing that but they are old enough to look after themselves! I wouldn’t recommend a child sits and watches TV all day, or just sits in a room reading a book all day. I’d also strongly advise against having a console in their bedroom so you can keep an eye on what they are playing but again that’s a personal parental decision. Most things in moderation are ok and gaming is no different. Make sure you explain to them what time you’re allowing (45 mins or an hour etc.) and then stick to it. You should allow a little leeway; say 5 minutes to get to a suitable stopping point. Most games now auto-save very regularly so don’t let them fob you off with tales of having to get to a save point. If they insist try googling the game to see if doesn’t have auto-save, just in case.

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IPAD / TABLET GAMING

Guide Vol 4 Parents IPad

My area of expertise is console gaming and I don’t have a lot of experience with iPad/Tablet games so my main advice is to be super vigilant. On consoles you would need to have a credit card linked to your PlayStation or XBox to buy anything. On phones it’s a lot easier for kids to accidentally rack up costs (often without realising it). Sadly the mobile gaming space is full of titles made with the aim of getting you to pay money. Beware of Free To Play titles, they are specifically designed to prey on people susceptible to gambling/addiction by making the game ramp up in difficulty or locking things behind a timer – “Wait two days to play again or just pay 79p to jump straight back in.” These games can be very dangerous to the wrong personalities (adults included) and can often be as bad as fruit machines. Best thing to do would be to check around online and see which games are rated highly for kids. Having said that even that can’t protect you from the stream of ads running alongside the game… a well-known kids app called Talking Tom (with a cute speaking cat you interact with) hit the headlines for running hard-core porn video ads in the game while children were playing. This thing is mainly avoidable on consoles as most products don’t have random ads running in the background.

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CONSOLES

So you’ve been beaten into submission and now you’re looking to get a console! But which one? Well fortunately you only really have three choices and two of them are very similar.

Nintendo Wii-U

Guide Vol 4 Parents Wii U

Nintendo are often kid’s first game experiences as they are very family friendly. Games like Mario Kart, Donkey Kong and Legend Of Zelda have great heritage and with new titles like Splatoon, they are still delivering solid kids content. The only issue you may have here is that a lot of other companies have stopped making games for it so it is mainly just those Nintendo games you’ll be playing.

XBox / Playstation

Guide Vol 4 Parents XB-PS

For younger kids you might be able to get away with giving them the older consoles (XBox 360 and PlayStation 3) which both have a wealth of back catalogue games and, while not quite up to the standard of the latest titles, will be great for playing lots of awesome games. However as they get older and need to keep up with the Jones’s, you’ll be looking more at the XBox One or PlayStation 4. These two are fairly similar and it will probably come down to what your kids friends are playing on. I’ve always preferred PlayStation, which also has the benefit of being market leader and getting the best versions of most games. Also there’s LittleBigPlanet, but more on that later!

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TOYS TO LIFE

Guide Vol 4 Parents Toys

There is a new kid on the block in terms of games for youngsters – Toys To Life. This genre encompasses heavyweights like Skylanders, Disney Infinity and the newly announced Lego Dimensions. These games are played like others with a gamepad but the difference is that they come with a little portal. You pop the toys on top of the portal and then they appear in game for you to control. It’s pretty awesome actually, I would’ve loved this for my He-Man or Ghostbusters back in the day! My (gentle) warning on these games is not the content – they are definitely kid friendly – but more the fact of knowing what you are investing in. These games are full price (usually with a toy or two) and then further toy figures are around £10 each. Some (optional) areas of the game can only be accessed by specific characters and as you can imagine the cost can escalate quickly, especially if your kids have more than one of these titles!

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SUITABLE GAMES

Guide Vol 4 Parents Tearaway

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of games out there that your kids could play. Make sure you research titles before allowing them to play. Here are a few titles that I’d recommend.

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Under 5’s

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  • Joe Danger
  • Super Rub A Dub
  • Katamari
  • Skylanders
  • Disney Infinity
  • Octodad (this is actually really difficult but the kids love the comedy element)

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These games should always be simple and not too complicated so the child doesn’t get too frustrated – I’d strongly recommend Joe Danger (video above) and Katamari from this list as they can be played on a basic level with just one or two buttons. And both are great fun!

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5-12 Years

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  • Skylanders
  • Disney Infinity
  • Minecraft (more on that below)
  • FIFA Soccer
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Various Lego Titles (Batman/Avengers etc.)
  • DriveClub
  • Child Of Light
  • Tearaway

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There are some wonderful games in this list – LittleBigPlanet is shown above but Tearaway is also amazing and for something a little deeper Child Of Light is unbelievably good. These are games that both children and adults can enjoy (together if you’d like!)

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The ‘Teens’ .

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  • Destiny
  • Uncharted
  • Need For Speed
  • Mass Effect
  • Journey

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So included here are a bunch of game series that are higher rated age-wise and deal with violence but with a more sci-fi slant that isn’t going for realism. Another series in this vein is Uncharted, which is more like Indiana Jones than anything else. Also worth noting that Mass Effect contains (non-explicit) sexual content as you can romance a member of your crew, just in case that influences your decision.

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BIG NAMES

Guide Vol 4 Parents Minecraft

And now we come to the big names, the ones the kids will be begging to play.

PLEASE NOTE SOME OF THE VIDEOS BELOW CONTAIN EXTREMELY VIOLENT GRAPHIC CONTENT – I AM EMBEDDING THEM BELOW TO HIGHLIGHT POTENTIAL GAME CONTENT BUT CLICK AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION. .

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Minecraft

Minecraft is great for most children, it encourages building and exploration. Some of the enemies might be too much for very young children but I’d say this one is generally ok for most age groups.

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Call Of Duty

Call Of Duty is a huge franchise in which you play as a soldier killing other people. There are two elements to the game, single player and online. The online multiplayer is where they will likely be playing, in modes where killing the other players is the name of the game (literally, it’s called Deathmatch!). This tends to not be too graphic, although bear in mind you will be shooting and stabbing people. The other issue is online chat, although I’ll go more into that below. The other side of the game is the campaign in which you would play through the story. Known for its shocking violence these can sometimes be tough to watch as an adult – for example an interrogation scene in which you put glass into a man’s mouth and then crush it by punching him in the face. It’s probably most infamous for its ‘No Russian’ that sees you take part in a terrorist attack at an airport, shooting civilians. Footage below so you can see for yourself…

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Assassin’s Creed

The Assassin’s Creed games all take place in different eras of history (1400’s Italy, 1700’s Paris and 1800’s London for example). This means they can give a feel for those places at that time and you can visit recreated landmarks and go inside (Notre Dame was particularly impressive!). However, as the name suggests you will be tasked with killing targets as part of an overall Templar/Assassin storyline. Usually using blades, although guns do feature, this is probably the least graphic of the biggest games but still I wouldn’t really recommend for kids younger than 15, depending on the child of course.

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Mortal Kombat

And now I’m afraid I’m going to be really hypocritical. Let me explain. The original Mortal Kombat came out in 1993, when I was just 13. And we played it for hours at friend’s houses. While not quite as graphically impressive as games nowadays it still allowed you to perform brutal finishing moves on opponents and was, no doubt, not suitable for a 13 year old. Having said that it didn’t seem to do me any harm but I digress… The latest installment of Mortal Kombat is the tenth in the series and the games have leaned even more into the gross-out over the top finishing moves than ever before. As an adult I can differentiate between this type of ‘video-nasty’ horror/violence and real life, knowing that these moves are displayed tongue in cheek. However parents should be aware that although this verges on satire, they are still extremely, graphically, violent. Again, here’s a video showing a few of the moves in the latest game.

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Grand Theft Auto

Ah Grand Theft Auto – the bane of game headlines around the world! First let’s bust a few myths.

‘This game makes you sleep with a prostitute and then kill her to get your money back’

While this is possible in the game it is never requested as part of a mission nor are you asked to do so. The logistics of that statement are correct but this is player agency, you aren’t asked to do this.

‘Playing this game turned this kid into a killer.’

From all of the research I’ve read there has never been a proven link between games and real life killing. I strongly suspect playing GTA all day every day is going to do the player no favours, in the same way sitting and watching video nasties would potentially warp someone’s perception of the real world.

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The Grand Theft Auto games are violent, involve crime and come with a lot of baggage in terms of cultural experience. This means a whole lot of swearing (including the c-word) and possibly the most racial slurs/slang I’ve ever heard in a game. The most recent game also includes a torture scene in which you select which ‘instrument’ (pliers, wrench etc.) to use for most damage. Here’s the scene below, again it’s a tough watch but you should know what you’re letting your children get involved in.

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The irony of all this is that Grand Theft Auto is a superb game. It has furthered the media in so many ways. For all of the above negative points it is unrivaled in creating a lifelike vibrant city with an endless stream of things to do for the player. You can go to the cinema, play golf… even get a haircut or tattoo. The radio stations in the game allow players to discover new types of music and bands they may never have heard before. This game, all of the games in this section are great games. I’ve enjoyed playing them but as an adult. Not a child.

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ONLINE GAMING

Guide Vol 4 Parents Headset

Another thing parents should be aware of is online gaming in general. Gamers are able to communicate with game headsets so that they can talk to other players while in game. This can be a good thing, socially especially, and is a helpful feature when playing with friends. However you need to bear in mind that if your child is using a headset to talk to other gamers they could, literally, be talking to anyone. They could (and sadly probably will) hear abusive phrases thrown around casually. Racist slurs, homophobic slurs. It’s the same as being on the internet – if you let your child visit whatever sites are available and talk to people they don’t know there is a chance they could end up talking with some quite unsavoury characters. This isn’t a reason to panic but try to ensure they understand the dangers and, if possible, only use a headset to talk to people they know.

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So that’s pretty much it, I know it’s a *long* piece but I’ve been asked by enough people that it felt something like this could be helpful to fellow parents who aren’t as aware of games.

If you do have any other questions feel free to drop them in the comments or, of course, e-mail or tweet me. In the meantime feel free to share among fellow parents and anyone who might appreciate a heads up.

The main takeaway should be that games are not made exclusively for children but that they aren’t inherently bad for kids either. Be aware of what they are playing and monitor their progress.

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Top 100 Single Player PS3 Games: Part 9 (20-11)

Top100 20-11

Well it’s Top 20 time – not long to go now until we finally hit the top spot.

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)

Part Eight (30-21)

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

Strap yourself in – here we go…

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20. Dead Space 2

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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19. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

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

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

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

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

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18. Infamous

Infamous 3

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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17. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

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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16. L.A Noire

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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15. GTA IV

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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14. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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.

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.

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.’

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.

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13. Metal Gear Solid 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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12. Killzone 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 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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11. Bioshock

BioshockMain

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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So, it’s time for the top 10 – any guesses on what’ll be in there? Any games we’ve already had that would’ve made your own top 10?

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Top 50 Single Player Games: Part Five (The Top 10)

So we’re finally here – the Top 10 single player games. The cream of the crop.

If you’re just tuning in here are the previous entries:

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PART ONE (50-41)

PART TWO (40-31)

PART THREE (30-21)

PART FOUR (20-11)

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Which brings us to the final part of the list. The last two times I did these single player lists the Uncharted games had a strangle hold on the top two positions… has anything come along that could dislodge them?

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10. BIOSHOCK (8)

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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9. GRAND THEFT AUTO IV (7)

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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8. MASS EFFECT 2 (NE)

Mass Effect had always been the one XBox 360 franchise that I’d wanted to play – Gears Of War? Alan Wake? Halo? All good games I’m sure but not tempting to me. Mass Effect? Yes please :smile:

I won’t discuss the story at all as I don’t want to spoil anything for people that haven’t played it yet. Needless to say it’s your standard save the universe fair and with the game set in space that’s literally the universe you’ll be saving!

I can safely say Mass Effect 2 is one of the deepest games I’ve played. In much the same way as Fallout 3 plays out different for each person that plays it, this is a game where your overall story will be the same but the variables between start and end are numerous. It says something that I had minimum frustration and didn’t really get bored at all with a game that clocks in at over 32 hours.

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7. FALLOUT 3 (6)

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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6. METAL GEAR SOLID 4 (5)

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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5. HEAVY RAIN (4)

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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4. DEAD SPACE (3)

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 in the year it was released and it’s use of sound is immense. 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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3. UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE (2)

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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2.  UNCHARTED: AMONG THIEVES (1)

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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1. RED DEAD REDEMPTION (NE)

Red Dead Redemption tells the story of former gang member John Marston and how he is forced onto a quest to track down his old ‘buddies’ on behalf of the US government.

I don’t recall a sandbox game with such a fascinating and well realised world. The way the world around you continues regardless is reminiscent of GTA games but everything here just makes you feel a part of something larger.

The positives are numerous, for one the story, voice acting and characterisation in Red Dead Redemption is fantastic. This is up there with the Uncharted series for me and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

There is so much to do in the world that it is crazy. There are a whole host of side missions to undertake and mini games as well. I’m not a big player of cards but I found myself spending 40/50 minutes at a time playing poker or blackjack. Or horseshoes. Or arm wrestling. The list is huge.

It has been a while since a game had me smiling, eyes wide and with goosebumps on my arms at what was unfolding in front of me but Red Dead Redemption managed it. This for me is the best game I have ever played – not an accolade that I use lightly but one that is fully deserved.

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Well, it was always going to take something special to knock Nathan Drake and co. off of the top spot and cowboy John Martson takes home the plaudits this time around.

There have been some great games released even since I started compiling this list, with plenty more to come later in the year and beyond. Perhaps one of those will edge it’s way to the top next time.

Let me know if any of your favourites were missing from the list. Do you agree on Red Dead usurping Uncharted? Was there anything you were surprised made the Top 10? (or even Top 50!)

As always thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.

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Where should Rockstar go next?

Rockstar Games are one of the greatest publishers in recent game history and have tackled plenty of eras and different settings in their games.

They always seem to have a fresh take on things whether you are controlling a modern day criminal (Grand Theft Auto IV), a cowboy (Red Dead Redemption), a Scarface type gangster (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City), a schoolboy (Bully) or even the reluctant star of a snuff movie (Manhunt).

We know of at least two more genres they attempting to capture with the forthcoming L.A Noire (a 1940’s detective) and The Agent (1970’s spy).

                                                                                  L.A Noire looks set to take gamers somewhere different.

But where else can they go from here?

After pondering the question for a while I’ve come up with some suggestions that I think Rockstar could do a great job on. So here you go in no particular order:

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PIRATES

We’re not talking about the poncey Jack Sparrow pirate type of recent years – I’m thinking Treasure Island style pirates, real pirates. Starting out as a hand on the ship you work your way up at sea and on land until you’re assembling your own crew and sailing your own ship. Knowing Rockstar your old captain left you marooned for a crime you didn’t commit and somehow you’ve been rescued and must hunt him down for revenge.

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VICTORIAN LONDON

While similar in timespan to Red Dead Redemption, setting a game in Dickensian London would make for a fantastic experience. There are plenty of stories (Jack The Ripper/Thames Torso Mystery etc) that they could base a plot around – or just come up with something unique of their own. I believe a game set in this era would be something a lot of people would be interested in.

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ANCIENT ROME

I know ancient Rome has been done before in games but I don’t feel it’s ever been done a great justice. I’d like to see Rockstar give us a chance to experience the treachery and gluttony of the Roman Empire – whether that’s as a skilled gladiator or perhaps a soldier close to one of the great figures of the time.

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FRENCH REVOLUTION

There is plenty of great material from the era of the French Revolution that Rockstar could go with. The masses rising on the street, overthrowing the monarchy. Would be great to storm the Bastille! Or possibly viewed from a different perspective you could take on the role of a Monarchy sympathiser who has to escape the wrath of the uprising.

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WORLD WAR 1

The second World War has been a rich basis for games over the years, what with the almost cartoony villainy of the Nazis. But what of the original conflict? I’d like to see them approach it from a different perspective – perhaps as part of the Black Hand assassination group that murdered Franz Ferdinand? So not necessarily would you fight in the war itself but you would certainly get a feel for the time.

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EGYPT

Egypt isn’t a setting I recall for a lot of games but it is fertile ground for a game. Of course there’d be a lot of sand (:lol:) but I think the civilisations of the time would also be of great interest. Perhaps a little artistic licence could be used to have the player solve (or even cause) the death of a Pharoah such as Tutankhamun, who is rumoured by some to have been murdered.

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RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

There were actually numerous revolutions in Russia during 1917 with the Tsar deposed in February and then the government that replaced him overthrown in October by the Bolsheviks. I’d like to see you maybe play as a member of the Bolshevik party who works his way up and has a hand in the revolution.

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U.S CIVIL WAR

This is one I’d love to see, though I’m not sure whether it would be too sensitive for a US audience? Would be great to play through campaigns as a character from the North and a character from the South to see it from both sides. Perhaps the stories could converge at some stage in the final act of the game.

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CHINA

The fall of the Ming Dynasty began around 1630 and lasted until 1644. Again, this could be a rich environment and world for Rockstar to play in. You could take control of the rebels or the dynasty as the collapse happens around you.

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NORMAN CONQUEST OF ENGLAND (1066)

Would like to see this set in the build up to the Battle of Hastings. Would be brilliant to take part in that, from either side to be honest. Maybe even a character who is ‘on the fence’ so to speak and then you choose which side to allign yourself with before the battle begins.

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JAPAN

 

There is plenty of scope for this one, whether you’re looking at the origins of Samurai or perhaps when they were at the height of their power. With the new Metal Gear game showing it can be done with some crazy sword cutting antics this would be a welcome addition to the Rockstar roster.

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So there you have it – a wealth of places Rockstar could go next. But what do you guys think? Agree with the above or have any other suggestions?

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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.

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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.

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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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GTA Chinatown Wars – Review (PSP)

Having been a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series since it’s first very instalment it is nice to see Rockstar taking the game back to it’s roots.

This PSP title returns the series to a top down perspective, although tilted to give it a semi 3D sheen. It certainly looks a lot shinier than those old PSX titles.

Set once again in Liberty City this time the story focuses on a triad gang member called Huang. He is escorting a rare family heirloom when he is set upon and it is stolen. His uncle demands he gets it back and the story kicks off from there.

One thing I was a bit disappointed with was that there was no voice acting – with cartoon cut scenes telling the story. Would’ve liked to have seen them accompanied by audio but perhaps that is too much strain for the PSP.

The missions are traditional GTA – some amazingly fantastic and some too hard. Too hard maybe isn’t the word – frustrating might be better. Because often you’ll have a large mission broken up into two or three pieces but if you die you start the whole mission again. It’s pretty annoying but is at least consistent with other GTA games.

The story is good but not great and a lot of the twists were fairly obvious, which is a shame.

One thing I thought was excellent, and I hope to see it implemented on the next console version, was the wanted system. As well as stars you now also have number of cop cars underneath.

So you’ll have two stars and two cars say. To get down to one star you’ll need to destroy two cop cars. Then another one to get rid of your last star. (You can also lose the cops in the traditional ways as well)

This led to some truly stupendous chases where I led the cops on a Dukes Of Hazzard style pursuit through the city, luring them into oncoming traffic etc. Awesome 😎

GTA Chinatown Wars is a large and well presented game. With almost 60 main missions and plenty of side projects it will certainly take a while to get through.

Despite a few annoyances this is definitely one of the best games out there for the PSP system.

Rating: 9/10

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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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Top 20 PS3 Single Player Games

Metal Gear Solid 4

Looking back through some old articles I came across this list of the best single player games on PS3: Linkage.

This list was only written in April and yet the time since has probably been the best 6 months of my gaming ‘career.’

Not only have some fantastic solo player campaigns been released but I have also caught up on some single player epics I missed when they came out.

I knew the list needed to be extended and improved, as too many great single player games were missing.

So here you go – the top 10 is now a top 20 and any game from the initial list has it’s original chart position in brackets. You can also check out my full reviews (where possible) by clicking the title of each game:

20. PROTOTYPE

Prototype

In Prototype you take on the role of Alex Mercer as he awakens during his autopsy 😮 ,wondering what the hell is going on. He quickly escapes, realising he now has various superpowers.

Mercer needs to find out what the hell has happened to him and why New York is infected with a virus that has turned half the population into zombies.

Prototype is definitely a game worth playing despite it’s various faults – it was a blast to play through if a little frustrating at times.

 

19. RESISTANCE 2

Resistance 2

After saving England in the previous installment Hale is back in business to rescue the U S of A – since his incapacitation the Chimera have launched a full attack on America and Hale, as part of the Sentinal squad (made up of soldiers injected with the Chimera virus but kept under control), have to step in and stop them in their tracks.

A hard hitting but fun first person shooter.

 

18. MIRROR’S EDGE (10)

Mirrors Edge

Mirror’s Edge wowed everyone with it’s crisp, clean graphics and it’s unique first person perspective.

The view takes a while to get used to and it had a few really annoying parts where it was difficult to time jumps etc because of the view but Mirror’s Edge is certainly worth playing through as it offers a style of gameplay that is totally unique in the current games market.

 

17. RAINBOW SIX VEGAS (9)

Rainbow Six Vegas

If you like your first person shooters with a bit of brain behind the brawn then Rainbow Six Vegas may be the game for you.

With a good old fashioned SAS vs Terrorists style plot and lots of fun set pieces Rainbow Six Vegas is definitely worth a shot.

 

16. RESIDENT EVIL 5

Resi Evil 5

For all it’s faults Resident Evil 5, taken as a whole, is a brilliant game and one that I would recommend. Graphically it’s stunning and while it isn’t a hugely difficult game you’ll enjoy playing through and unravelling the story.

It survives the huge expectation of following Resident Evil 4… just. This is a game that everyone should play as Resi comes to the new generation of consoles.

 

15. KANE AND LYNCH (8) 

 Kane And Lynch

You take control of Adam ‘Kane’ Marcus, a criminal on his way to death row for crimes committed in Venezeula. Kane is busted out of his prison van by a mysterious group called The7 who he worked with previously. They think Kane stole the money from their last job and stashed it somewhere.

If he doesn’t get them the money back in three weeks his wife and daughter will be killed. Kane claims he doesn’t know where it is but he does know who took the cash and will hunt them down. And so begins a thoroughly enjoyable ride into the desperate life of Kane…

 

14. BATTLEFIELD: BAD COMPANY

Bad Company

Chock full of explosions and with some really impressive destruction of buildings etc, Battlefield: Bad Company is like a huge big budget Hollywood blockbuster.

It’s a great, mindless blast of a game. Add some memorable characters into the mix and you’ve got yourself a very enjoyable, and playable, package.

 

13. HEAVENLY SWORD (7)

 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.

12. ASSASSIN’S CREED (6)

AssassinsCreed

In Assassin’s Creed you play through Desmond Mile’s repressed ancestrial memories as Altair in the Medieval Holy Land (with brief interludes as Desmond struggling to find out what is going on in the present day).

You will need to research targets and carry out assassinations using a variety of options – sword, hidden blade, knife etc.

This game is great fun and I’m looking forward to the sequel which is on it’s way shortly.

 

11. GHOSTBUSTERS: THE VIDEO GAME

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.

 

10. KILLZONE 2 (5)

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!

 

9. BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM

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.

 

8. INFAMOUS

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.

 

7. BIOSHOCK

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.

 

6. GRAND THEFT AUTO IV  (4)

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.

 

5. FALLOUT 3

 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.

 

4. METAL GEAR SOLID 4  (3)

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.

 

3. DEAD SPACE (2)

 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.

 

2. UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE (1)

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.

 

1. UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES

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 it’s a double for Nathan Drake as he takes the top two spots with his exploration adventures.

With 5 new games in the top ten it’s great to see the wide variety of game styles on offer to PS3 owners these days.

Hopefully people out there will find this list helpful – feel free to drop me some comments below on the games or if you’d have put anything else in the list?

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GregHorrorShow’s Top 100 Games: 10-6

ResiEvil

Here we go, The Top 10 begins!

A quick recap on how I decided who came where:

I decided, as so many games mean so many different things to me, I should come up with a fair way to judge them. This is what I came up with:

Time Spent Playing

Storyline

Difficulty

Fun

Ground Breaking?

A few provisos before we hit the next ten games…

Firstly this is my list of my Top 100 games. I certainly don’t expect you guys to agree with it (though hopefully you’ll agree with some of the choices 😆 ) and would welcome any comments.

Secondly, I’m not planning on putting the scores or totals up, just listing the games in the order they came out in.

Lastly, I never owned a Nintendo or Microsoft console so my experiences on these games were limited to friend’s houses etc – bite me 🙂

Let’s crack on with the Top 10…

 

10. SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (Sega Master System)

Sonic

Sonic The Hedgehog was a legendary game – sadly it’s been let down recently by some terrible games that while having the Sonic name don’t have the heart of the original. This was truly groundbreaking stuff – we’d never seen anything so fast! We had the Master System version and it was so good we played it for days on end. It could be finished in about half hour but the replayability was immense. This really is a seminal game – the music, the graphics, the gameplay… it all still stands up today and the blue hedgehog was a worthy adversary for Mario.

 

9. STREET FIGHTER II (Arcade)

Street Fighter II

Well if it isn’t the arcade classic that is Street Fighter II. This was one of those games everyone went crazy for. I remember playing it in the arcade and the only move I knew was Blanka’s electricity (just keep hammering punch). Once it got a home port and the games mags gave out the move lists I spent hours, literally, reading and learning the moves with no copy of the game.

That in itself is pretty sad – but on the other hand it meant by the time I got a copy or went to the arcades again I was a very good player. I remember pulling off my first Dragon Punch in the local chip shop (where the nearest arcade machine was) and hearing a little gasp from the kids behind me – geeky but awesome 😆 Guile was always my favourite character though – it was the hair! 😎

 

8. RESIDENT EVIL (Sony Playstation)

ResiEvilPsx

Resident Evil was a groundbreaking title in that it was the first mainstream survival horror game. Limited ammo, slow characters – it wasn’t something gamers were used to and that really made it stand out. That and the appalling dialogue. 🙂 Seeing Jill Valentine narrowly escape being crushed to death in a trap where the ceiling was lowering Barry quips: “You were almost a Jill sandwich!” Cue laughter from both characters. Erm… what? But what a game though – everyone who’s played it will remember finding ‘Kenneth from Bravo Team’ or the moment that made gamers everywhere jump like never before… the dogs through the window 😆

 

7. METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS (Playstation 3)

MGS4

We had to wait three years for the return of Metal Gear Solid after MGS 3: Snake Eater and when it did arrive Solid Snake was an old man. I kid you not. 😮 He had prematurely aged what with being a clone and all that (like Dolly The Sheep) and was left with no choice but to enter the fray with old age fast approaching. And what a fray it was, warring factions and the ongoing arms race provided the backdrop for MGS 4.

As we expected this was no ordinary game – with the ability to listen to his ipod to relieve stress and hiding in barrels added as well as the old classic – being able to hide in a cardboard box, MGS 4 took things even further than previous games. A complex moveset and a major storyline with some cutscenes lasting an near enough an hour might have been enough to put some people off but the reward was great. Even though I felt the ending was a cop out 😦

 

6. GRAND THEFT AUTO IV (Playstation 3)

GTA IV

The move to next gen was a great one for the Grand Theft Auto brand and the fourth game in the series clocked up plenty of amazing reviews when it was released. Liberty City is as close to a fully realised city as we’ve seen within a game. You could stand on the street and listen to people getting on with their (virtual) lives. I’m not saying it would be fun but the fact that it’s possible is testament to the dedication of the makers. Niko Bellic was a fun character to control and his motley crew of friends and girlfriends kept us all entertained long after they should have.

The choices you could make that impacted the story were great and the ending, well I won’t spoil it but it was certainly a fitting end to the Bellic’s story. But it was the random happenings that make all the GTA games great and this one was no different. When I first fired it up I went for a joyride as you do. Ran a red light and smashed into the side of another car. As we both came to a halt I could hear the other driver holding down his horn at me. I jumped out my car in a moment of road rage and ran over to his car. The side was caved in, the window smashed and the guy was unconscious with his head on the steering wheel – hence the horn. I was so shocked for a second I didn’t know what to do. 😎 Moments like that make games and there were plenty in GTA IV.

 

So we’re down to the final 5 – all will be revealed in the next, and final, installment of the Top 100 Games!

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“I’m Not Crying, It’s Just Been Raining On My Face…”

Ghost Whisperer

NOTE: This piece contains potential spoilers regarding the following TV Shows and Games: 

  • Ghost Whisperer
  • Firefly/Serenity
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer
  • Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles
  • GTA IV
  • Dead Space

If you plan to watch/play these DON’T READ THIS ARTICLE!!!!

So now that’s out of the way let me explain.

A few weeks ago a main character died on a TV show that I watch and I found myself a little choked up. That in itself is not really a surprise as I’m not the most difficult person to get an emotional response from – though we’re talking lump in the throat as opposed to actual tears.

It got me thinking about the reasons I would feel these emotions about fictional characters – was there some sort of checklist the programme-makers tick off to evoke these feelings? Or is it just that the makers/actors create the illusion differently each time?

Likewise with games, although it seems harder to trigger that same response (for me personally) – I haven’t really choked up over a game but I have often found myself shaken, or perhaps stunned is more accurate, by characters deaths.

Emo2

I discovered that research into this sort of thing has been going on for decades.

Back in 1956 an article entitled “Mass Communication and Para-Social Interaction” was written by Donald Horton and R. Richard Wohl. They discussed how the general public (or audience) felt connected to the TV presenters at the time because they were addressing the screen (and therefore the viewers) directly.

Research continued in the 70’s and 80’s and the term ‘Para-Social Interaction/Relationship’ came to mean the affection that viewers feel with the characters or personalities they see on screen.

So why was I upset when Jim died in Ghost Whisperer? Or knocked for six when Kate got shot at the end of GTA IV? I am a rational person – I have no delusions that these are real people, so what’s going on?

The answer it seems lies in further research…

Viewers attach themselves to characters – that is an obvious statement. If no one cared about the characters no one would watch the show. However it’s the depth of the attachment and the reasons for it that seem to cause these Para-Social Relationships.

Some people identify with characters, or at the very least facets of them, and invest emotionally because they feel a sense of familiarity when watching.

Emo3

Others idolize the characters or see them as role models. Someone they look up to perhaps, or aspire to be like.

Either way you’re drawn to these works of fiction and invest a great deal of emotion and time (especially in TV shows and games which can both last for hour upon hour) in them.

That is certainly a reasonable explanation – especially looking at something like GTA IV where you have crafted out a relationship with Kate for Niko (the character you control) by actually spending time with her and going on ‘dates’ etc. 

Several deaths in Buffy The Vampire Slayer shocked and moved me but for very different reasons.

The death of Buffy’s mother Joyce was possibly more to do with the way it was handled – with Buffy finding her stricken on the sofa, eyes wide open but unresponsive following a brain tumour. It was powerful stuff anyway but the bleakness and honesty of the scene was both upsetting and slightly disturbing. The fact that they showed the scene repeatedly during the episode also made it hit home harder.

Whereas the death of Anya, right at the end of the last season was upsetting in that a) she was a main character and b) in the chaos of the fight she was struck down almost without a death scene as the action continued.

Anya

Having said that Joss Whedon has a history of killing off main characters unexpectedly – in Serenity the ships pilot Wash is killed during a crash landing but at least with that death we got to see his wife’s reaction and emotion.

In Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, Derek Reese is killed quickly and while the shock did hit home it wasn’t as emotional as the other deaths I mentioned, say Jim in Ghost Whisperer, which had a longer build up.

So is there a reason some deaths effect us more than others? Is it solely down to our relationship with the characters and how we feel about them? Or do the makers of these programmes have some tricks up their sleeves? 🙂

I suspect it’s a mixture of both. Of course the director can use certain shots/angles or a powerful piece of music under the scene to help things along but if the actors don’t put the performances in the response won’t be as strong.

Maybe the groundwork has already been laid by the director in revealing the character to you in a certain light to motivate you to like and identify with them?

Going back to the former point about actors, perhaps that is why the emotions I feel during games are weaker than TV/Film? As great as the graphics are in games these days they are not entirely lifelike and often the person voicing the character is doing so months before the character is even properly created.

I expect you would get more of an emotional tie to a character you’d created, say in something like World Of Warcraft. If a character you’d built up from scratch and moulded however you wanted was killed it would hit you harder I would guess. I don’t play those types of games so I couldn’t answer that question directly.

The closest I’ve ever come to that is when I tried the Sims in 2 player with my wife. We created ourselves but unfortunately I died in a house fire 😮 I certainly wouldn’t play that again 😦

Emo6

Either way I’m glad to feel those emotions watching. It restores a little of my faith in TV/Film that these shows can evoke feelings of emotional shock or choke me up – especially when so called ‘reality’ television seems to be taking over the TV schedules more and more all the time. Certainly a worrying trend if ever there was one.

As for games I look forward to increasingly improving stories – more of stuff like Fahrenheit, Bioshock, Infamous, GTA IV and Dead Space. Games that made me feel something.

As the world of gaming evolves even further I think we have plenty of great stories to look forward to playing through. 😎

 

Note: I found the website below really helpful in researching this article and I’m not one to take unwarranted credit so please check it out if you’re interested or want more information:

http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/6428/Attachment-to-Media-Characters.html

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