You’re Playing It Wrong Or: How Ratonhnhaké:ton Helped Me Enjoy Games Again

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As things have developed for me over the last year or so, both professionally and personally, I have found myself having a little less gaming time than before. For one, as I creep into my mid 30’s, I just don’t have the energy to game until 1am or 2am like I used to. Add to that mix having children (no daytime gaming at weekends), the fact that I’ve been watching more TV & reading more books and it’s easy to see why. So am I in danger of giving up on my favourite hobby?

Nope, far from it, in fact. While my time has been cut down a bit, I’m actually enjoying games more than I have for a long time. A decision I made last year about this blog was that I wouldn’t rush through games just for the sake of getting a review up quickly. I’ll review games as and when I finish them, which eases the unconscious pressure a review deadline can bring. What has happened is that over the last few years my gaming style has changed from mainlining most games (just sticking to the main plotline) to fully delving into the wonderful worlds created by game devs. And in the last 6 months the scales have finally tipped fully in favour of exploration.

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Let’s rewind a little bit though as I can tell you when and where this all started, in the American Northeast back in 1754 – 1783. Or more precisely November 2012 while playing Assassin’s Creed III. There’s no nice way to say it but despite a few clever touches Assassin’s Creed III is the worst entry in the series of games. It starts strong but quickly loses its way after an interesting plot twist. The main character Connor, or Ratonhnhaké:ton to give him his real full name, was a whiny, uninteresting protagonist and midway through the game it became a slog that I simply wasn’t enjoying. But instead of either ploughing through until the end or giving up and playing something else, I took a road very much less travelled (at least by me)… I started doing side quests. Even hunting missions, stalking animals and taking them out. Next time I played the game I spent 45 mins doing side stuff, played a main mission and did a few more side bits before logging off. And suddenly over the next few weeks I found myself really enjoying the game! Sure the main story missions were still fairly terrible but by breaking things up with side quests they were a lot more palatable.

Don’t get me wrong, in some of the bigger/more interesting game worlds (Fallout, Bioshock, Red Dead Redemption, The Last Of Us, GTA and the like) I have often explored the environment but those games were few and far between and while playing titles like Assassin’s Creed, Hitman, L.A. Noire or Mafia II I would usually just play the story missions and do one or two side missions. And some games don’t require you to do anything but the main story, titles like Uncharted or Killzone, which is great and I love those games also.

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It’s just that even with less time to play I find that I’m drifting in between story and side quests in a lot of titles. I’m currently breaking my own ‘only-have-two-singleplayer-games-on-the-go-at-once‘ rule spectacularly by taking on Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor, Alien: Isolation, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Far Cry 4. None of these are small games but whereas before I would’ve burned through something like Shadow Of Mordor, I now soak up the world and enjoy simply being in it and travelling through it. It also helps in that specific case to have the nemesis system which helps keep the world feeling ‘alive’ and constantly changing. Far Cry 4 is another good example in that I’m more than happy to do a few side quests on the way to main mission sometimes. And I think a huge amount of credit has to go to developers for finding that balance between sparse pointless side quests and overloading the player with map icons in a lot of recent titles.

There are of course exceptions, I really enjoyed Infamous: Second Son but the world felt so… quiet. With side quests that were minimal and not that interesting, it left the game feeling empty a lot of the time. From the little I’ve played of Assassin’s Creed: Unity it seems to have the opposite problem. You can barely see the map for a flood of different icons (see below) and the kicker with that seems to be that when you try to do some of the side missions they are actually locked in the game until you sign up for some Ubisoft service or companion app. But that is a conversation for another time.

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I think it’s interesting that my gaming habits have gone in completely the opposite direction to how I would’ve expected. As my time playing decreased I would’ve thought I would be avoiding side quests just to get through and finish titles. Don’t get me wrong, even my reduced game time is probably still more than a lot of people that play games so I will still be completing a lot of games, I guess it’s kind of the best of both worlds? Perhaps stepping out of the review ‘arms race’ has given me a new perspective? Regardless, the simple fact is I’m playing less but enjoying it more – I believe quality over quantity is the correct term and its great.

Have any of you noticed any changes in your gaming habits over time – have you followed the same pattern as me? Or even gone the other way? I look forward to hearing in the comments below.

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Killzone Shadow Fall – Review (PS4)

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The Killzone titles have been one of my favourite game series in recent years, the superb Killzone 2 and 3 both spending plenty of time in my PS3. With a new console, Guerrilla Games is again pushing the graphical envelope with Killzone Shadow Fall but as the game breaks away from the plot and characters of the last two titles can it live up to expectations?

While the multiplayer is a huge draw for Killzone titles I have always loved the campaign modes as well. The characters have always been fun and memorable (yes, even Rico) and the story was usually decent sci-fi fare, which is cool with me. In Shadow Fall we say goodbye to Sev and Rico et al, with the game being set 30 years after the events of Killzone 3. You play as Lucas Kellan, a Shadow Marshall for the Vektans. Following the last game’s conclusion, Helghan survivors are granted refuge on Vekta and are eventually given their own territory within Vekta, called New Helghan. A huge wall is built between the two societies with covert ops being run by each government on both sides of ‘The Wall’.

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Which sounds like a fantastic opportunity for some ‘Cold War’ style espionage missions behind enemy lines and a chance to see the fight from both sides of the wall. And sadly Shadow Fall squanders a glorious opportunity to deliver a memorable and interesting story. The characters are uninspiring, Echo is probably the best of the bunch but is criminally underused, and the story plods along with no real urgency or sense of exactly what you’re fighting for. This isn’t a terrible campaign by any stretch of the imagination but I was left deflated by the end of it (and my word the ending is poor). There are a few moments of greatness – the trip through the Helghan slums for example – but on the whole the game fails to take advantage of its setting.

And it’s a real shame because for the most part Killzone Shadow Fall delivers in other areas. Graphically it is astounding and definitely a title to show off your shiny new PS4, particle effects and lighting are a huge step up – it’s hard to see in videos of gameplay but you’ll see it straight away when playing on a TV. Environments are varied and detailed, there are some real stand out moments – the border crossing springs to mind and character design is good, although the character mouths are a bit weird, especially compared to something like Beyond: Two Souls, which had excellent facial capture.

Gameplay-wise it’s a slightly mixed bag – the weapons handle fantastically and you get a real feel for how each one is weighted. You also have the option to switch weapons regularly which will keep things fresh. The AI is a bit hit and miss which is a shame because when it works it is a good, solid challenge. The developers have also included a few levels where you are weightless for part of it and the ship level reminiscent of Dead Space was a welcome addition.

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Unfortunately Joris de Man didn’t score this game and I feel this also leaves it without one of series best aspects thus far. The score here is good but has nowhere near the impact of previous titles. His scores carried such weight before that they were noticeable by their absence.

On to the multiplayer and here Killzone Shadow Fall really shines. Again it looks amazing and plays superbly. All the weapons and abilities are unlocked from the get go, which gives you a stunning amount of freedom to get yourself set up with a loadout that suits your playstyle. You’ll still need to unlock different explosives and sights for your guns but you have access to everything you need out of the box.

The maps are well designed and take a leaf out of Killzone Mercenary‘s book – granting you lots of different ways to get around (ladders/vents etc.), something that adds another tactical layer to the game. There is no rank system – instead you are faced with over 1500 challenges to complete. I don’t have a problem with that but I know it’s been a sticking point for some. You can also create and share your own custom game types (say knives only v sniper rifles only) which adds to the longevity of the game.

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Overall Shadow Fall isn’t hard to recommend. I’ve really enjoyed my time with the online of the game but the campaign, for me, was seriously lacking. Despite that, I would still say give it a run through and the game is probably worth the price just for the extensive online suite (with future maps being free as well). It’s disappointing in some ways but as a launch title for the PS4, Killzone Shadow Fall hits all the right notes technically. It’s just a shame the campaign can’t live up to the high standard of previous games.

Rating: 8/10

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Killzone: Mercenary – Review (Vita)

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What is it about Killzone games and showcasing a system’s graphical power? Killzone 2 and 3 showed how good the PS3 could look and Killzone Shadowfall seems to be making a case for the PS4. In amongst all this comes Killzone Mercenary for the PS Vita, Sony’s handheld machine.

Not only are Vita owners crying out for a big budget game (I love the indie stuff but we do need a batch of bigger budget titles as well) but the history of the FPS genre on Vita is chequered, to say the least. I ploughed quite a bit of time into Resistance: Burning Skies and Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified’s online offerings but they weren’t fantastic.

So have Guerrilla Cambridge managed to deliver on the promise of a big budget, graphical powerhouse that plays like its big brothers?

A definitive ‘yes’ is the answer.

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Killzone Mercenary gives you a big, set piece filled campaign mode, broken up into individual missions with handheld gaming in mind. The missions themselves vary in length – some were 20/25 minutes, whereas some edged towards the hour mark. I was playing on the hardest setting though, so your mileage may vary if you’re playing on lower settings.

One thing a lot of people noted in their previews was that you have a lot of choice in how to approach missions – quite often there may be two or three different ways through an area. For the main game you can play however you like and attempt to rescue a situation that has spun out of control.

However there are also three other versions of each mission: Precision (Quick), Covert (Sneaky) and Demolition (Loud!). While these add specific fail states (i.e Stealth through the lab etc.), it’s not just as simple as replaying every level the same way with a couple of different conditions – some of these objectives will take you to totally different areas of the level that you might have missed on your first playthrough.

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The game controls like the PS3 versions of Killzone, which is a good thing in my book. The weapons have a nice heft to them and they feel different enough to warrant switching them out if you need a change. To do that you’ll have to visit Blackjack. He’s the in-game black market dealer for weapons and the like. You’ll need to use in-game cash to purchase a weapon or van-guard ability before being able to use it. You can then chop and change (for a price) during missions at arms dealer crates scattered across the level.

The campaign itself was thoroughly enjoyable, this time positioning you as a merc rather than ISA grunt. So while you will still be fighting the Helghast you’ll also have missions where you’re facing off against the ISA. It certainly felt strange killing the ISA in a story driven context but it did give the game a fresh direction, which was good.

I played through the entire campaign, then went through again doing each mission on the covert settings and am now on my third playthrough as demolition. I don’t remember the last time I played a campaign more than twice? In fact, I’m not sure if I ever have since the Mega Drive days? Which tells you a lot about Mercenary but also about how much I love the Killzone universe 🙂

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Multiplayer will be the big draw for most people though and I’m pleased to say Guerrilla Cambridge have managed to squeeze an impressive online offering into the package. The action here is 4v4, with 6 maps of differing size and there is a fair bit of variety within the levels. Each of them have their own nooks and crannies, as well as lots of verticality.

This means you can get the drop on your enemies if you know the maps well enough and gives the game a lot of replayability. You level up across single and multiplayer so if you’re not within reach of a wi-fi signal playing the single player stuff offline will net you in-game cash to spend and anything unlocked via Blackjack is available both off and online.

Some people have reported trouble connecting to games in the online beta but I haven’t had any problems so far and I expect the final game to be more refined so hopefully that won’t be an issue.

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Overall, Killzone Mercenary is a fantastic offering for long suffering Vita FPS fans. There is a substantial campaign here with lots of replayability but, crucially, broken up into manageable level sizes. Online the game holds up – of course it’s not quite as big as the PS3 offerings – but there is a lot of fun to be had here. I am a huge Killzone fan but I believe even with no knowledge of the other games Mercenary is a top quality title that everyone can (and should) enjoy.

Rating: 10/10

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GREAT GAME OPENINGS (VOLUME 1)

A strong opening can define your experience with a medium, whether that is a film, a book or indeed a game.

What follows here are some of the best openings in games I have experienced. That could be an opening cinematic or even the beginning of the game that you play through.

This is volume 1 as, quite frankly, I could’ve had a ton more in here but will do a follow up blog at some stage in the future with more additions.

These are as spoiler free as possible athough obviously bear in mind some sequels may recap the events of the first game!

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Dead Space

One of my favourite ever openings. A great start to a great game. Just watch it 🙂

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Bioshock

This is one of those openings that stuns you completely. The game paces it perfectly, taking minutes where others would take seconds, and provides you with the rich setting of the world you’re about to inhabit for many hours to come.

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L.A Noire

L.A Noire spent so long in development that we wondered whether the game would ever actually make it out of the door and onto shelves. Eventually we got our hands on Team Bondi’s great work and while it certainly had some issues, I don’t think anyone can deny it’s a game that all gamers should at least try. The opening sets the scene and helps to create that feeling of a time gone by.

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Borderlands

Borderlands was one of the more surprising games in the year it came out – having played it a bit at Eurogamer the previous year I wasn’t blown away but the game turned out to be great when you were getting inolved right from the start. This intro sums the game up perfectly – big, brash and fun.

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Prototype

*WARNING CONTAINS SCENES OF FAIRLY EXTREME VIOLENCE*

This doubled up as a trailer as well as an intro video for the game – looks amazing and gives you a good idea of the carnage you can cause in the game itself.

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Killzone 2

Ah Killzone 2. I must’ve watched this a hundred times. Graphically one of the best looking intros on this list, the tone is set early with Visari’s speech and the great music enhances the overall experience. One of my personal favourites.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Drake’s adventures continued in Among Thieves, with the game blowing away most of the competition when it was released. This should give you an indication of why – we hadn’t quite seen anything like it.

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Battlefield: Bad Company

The first time we were introduced to Bad Company and immediately we fitted right in – “the new guy’s dead?” 😆

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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City remains my favourite of all the GTA games. The 80’s setting and a memorable (if not *entirely* original) story were high water marks in gaming style. This opening gets you in the mood to take a trip back to the 80’s.

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Resident Evil 2

This is one of those openings that doesn’t quite look as good as you remember when you see it now but the punch it packed remains the same, especially as at the time we were expecting a more sinister, slow paced game.

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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

As Snake walked across the bridge, I remember thinking that rain couldn’t look more realistic. As he got himself onto the boat it was the character animation that stood out for me. Metal Gear Solid 2 remains a fantastic game and if you were interested in playing it a Metal Gear collection of games on one disc that features this title is coming in February 2012.

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Red Dead Redemption

As a way of setting the tone this is top notch from Rockstar – managing to cram in some thoughts/beliefs of the time all the way along the train journey John Marsden finds himself on him.

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Medal Of Honor: Frontline

As an opening to a game this cut and paste of Saving Private Ryan, while not original, caused gamers to sit up and take notice. A truly immersive experience at the time.

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Homefront

*WARNING CONTAINS SCENES OF VIOLENCE*

While the game failed to live up to the hype this opening remains a slightly unsettling watch. If only the game could’ve carried this feeling through it might have been something special.

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So there we have it – hopefully if you haven’t played some of those games the clips above may give you enough of a taste to give them a try. (Though maybe skip Homefront 😆 )

As I said at the start of this, I’ll be doing a follow up piece with more great openings at some stage so feel free to suggest your favourites (spoiler free please :smile:) and I may add them in.

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

So here we go – the Top 20! 😎

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

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

Let’s get stuck in:

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20. ASSASSIN’S CREED II (13)

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

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

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

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19. BAYONETTA (NE)

Bayonetta is an action adventure game very much in the mould of Devil May Cry and God Of War 3. It’s fast paced and the emphasis is most definitely on Bayonetta – for everything except boss battles you will easily be the most powerful being in the fight.

The combat is astoundingly good. Better in my opinion than God Of War or any similar title. There is just so much you can do, with gun attacks on hand & feet (yep, the heels of her shoes are guns), samurai sword, torture attacks (special moves focusing on one enemy – for example magically creating a guillotine and throwing one enemy into it) and climax moves (where Bayonetta’s hair, which is also her costume, flows upwards and forms itself into a massive demon to beat bigger enemies).

Yes you read that last bit right… her HAIR is her costume that can also turn into giant demons. :???: :lol:

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18. KILLZONE 2 (12)

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

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

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17. BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM (11)

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

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

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

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16. GOD OF WAR III (10)

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

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

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

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

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15. DEAD SPACE 2 (NE)

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

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

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

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14. INFAMOUS (9)

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

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

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

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13. KILLZONE 3 (NE)

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

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

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

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12. ASSASSIN’S CREED: BROTHERHOOD (NE)

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

The changes Ubisoft have made to the game feel subtle but really they have honed this title so much it really doesn’t do much wrong.

There are lots more side mission types and your map will be chock full of things to do if you fancy a change of pace away from the main missions. This is a monster of a game that will keep you entertained for ages.

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11. L.A NOIRE (NE)

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

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

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

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

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Killzone 3 – Review (PS3)

It is always a struggle to build and improve on a game that still impresses two years after its release but in bringing us a sequel to Killzone 2 Guerrilla Games has done just that.

Picking up the story directly after the events at the end of the last game and stretching over the next six months, Killzone 3 jumps straight into the action.

You reprise your role as Tomas ‘Sev’ Sevchenko with the ISA (Interplanetary Strategic Alliance) trying to get off the planet Helghan – only to be met with the full force of the Helghast, who have regrouped following the climax of Killzone 2.

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

This game is about taking down the Helghast, even if you are on the back foot.

The new ideas that do make it into the game (Jetpacks/the multiplayer ‘Operations’ mode etc) are handled brilliantly. Guerrilla has done a great job of taking on board fan’s feedback and tweaking the controls/feel of the game for the better.

I wasn’t entirely sure how they would improve the multiplayer beyond a few tweaks but they have knocked it out of the park.

Redesigned classes, with abilities that are more relevant to each class, are the biggest difference but you also now have two more game types (on top of the already awesome Warzone) in Guerrilla Warfare (Team Deathmatch) and Operations – an objective based battle in which the top players from each team feature in the cut scenes between action.

The maps are brilliantly designed with some great scenery and feature different parts of maps for various modes. For example the Frozen Dam map – in Guerrilla Warfare only the small section at the front is available to play in, in Operations you make your way through the map section by section (like Rush in Battlefield: Bad Company 2) and in Warzone the map is open in it’s entirety.

I’ve seen some reviews criticising the single player story of Killzone 3 but for me it was perfect – I loved the new bad guys and felt that the developers did a good job of bringing the player closer to Sev, and buddy Rico, than ever before.

I would’ve liked to have seen more about the background of Helghan or perhaps some stuff on the civilian population (I’m presuming there still is one somewhere on Helghan?) but those are personal points of interest so it’s not like the story is missing chunks of information.

The A.I, for the most part, impresses and I’d forgotten how unforgiving the game can be if you try to break cover and expose yourself completely. Although with the new brutal melee kills that are activated at close range, you’ll be tempted to try and get as close to the Helghast as possible.

There is a lot more variety in the level design this time around as you traverse in snow and jungle terrain and the game looks as gorgeous as expected. Not quite the same ‘smack-you-in-the-face’ leap as Killzone 2 but impressive nonetheless.

Overall then Killzone 3 doesn’t quite grab you in the way that the previous game did but that doesn’t really matter in the end. Guerrilla Games have delivered a game that improves on it’s predecessor in pretty much every way it could. A must buy for any PS3 owner.

Rating: 10/10

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GregHorrorShow’s 10 Games That Should Be Announced For The NGP (PSP2)

With the official announcement of Sony’s NGP (Next Generation Portable – a working title if ever I heard one :lol:) the gaming world (mainly) rejoiced at what appears to be a gaming handheld for the hardcore market.

Regardless of whether you’re looking to your handheld to extend your PS3 experience or not, you can’t deny that a line up featuring original games (not ports of existing titles) from the universes of Uncharted, Killzone, Resistance and Call Of Duty to name a few is targeting a specific market.

For me there were immediately a whole host of game series swimming around my head that I’d love to see on this new device.

And just to clarify I’m not talking about ports of existing games – what I want to see are fully fledged spin offs or games that bridge the gap between a PS3 game and it’s sequel.

In no order whatsoever –

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BORDERLANDS

Borderlands was a fantastic game. With it’s cell shaded style and outrageous weapons you couldn’t help but be impressed. I know Gearbox has released a whole heap of DLC for it so some people may have had their fill but I’d love to see a version on NGP.

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EA SPORTS

Football? Yep. Hockey? Yep. American Football? Yep. There was no point trying to choose a specific sport here – needless to say with twin analogue sticks sports games should be able to step up to the next level on NGP. (Also on a side note… EA surely must be supporting the NGP and yet there was no sign of them at the announcement? Perhaps there will be a big EA reveal at some stage – I certainly hope so.)

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DEAD SPACE

The Dead Space universe is well fleshed out with books and films as well as the games. I would love to see an NGP game with an existing character that somehow ties into the main game series. There is certainly enough material to work with.

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BATTLEFIELD

With Killzone and Call Of Duty confirmed the shooter genre is fairly well covered on the NGP but that doesn’t stop me hoping to be able to play Battlefield on the go. C’mon DICE tie it in nicely with Battlefield 3 and we’ll be up and running!

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FOOTBALL MANAGER

 

As much as I love Football Manager on the PSP it is pretty limited and the makers have said they have reached breaking point on the current hardware. I’d love to see you be able to run a full reserve team, work on your team’s ground and have more detailed interactions with the media/fans/players. The developers recently said they were looking into making a console version of the game so I’m crossing my fingers.

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FALLOUT

Can you imagine a game like Fallout *in the palm of your hand* Probably nothing else would get played as I ploughed hour after hour into it 🙂 With the games being as buggy as they are anyway surely they’d be no problem bringing a new tale from the Capitol Wasteland or New Vegas to the NGP.

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ASSASSIN’S CREED

Yes, yes after two games in two years (and another one in 2011) some of you will be sick of stabbing people with the hidden blade but there is real potential here for a full Assassin’s Creed spin off with an entirely new ancestor instead of Ezio or Altair. Sheesh I’d even take a modern day take with Desmond that features proper action/stealth. Maybe breaking into Asbergo etc.

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SYPHON FILTER

Syphon Filter was a great little PSOne title that spawned a sequel or two and then branched further on the original PSP with two more games. Held back by the lack of duel sticks and some questionable A.I could the NGP see the return of Gabe Logan?

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BIOSHOCK

I’m talking Bioshock Infinite as opposed to Rapture, despite the fact I enjoyed the first two games. It would be great to have a handheld game that could maybe set up some of the story for the forthcoming game. I wouldn’t object to a title set in Rapture (perhaps during it’s heyday?) but that world needs to be done a little differently to avoid feeling stale.

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BATMAN (OR SPIDERMAN/INSERT HERO NAME HERE)

Come on you know you’d love to see this. At this stage I’d even take a Robin spin off 😆 After Arkham Asylum and the upcoming Arkham City, Batman is definitely back in vogue and perhaps a darker grittier version of another classic hero (Spiderman? Superman?) could also work. There are a wealth of comic characters out there if the feeling is that Batman has been over saturated.

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So there you go – food for thought on the NGP front. Would welcome any comments or games you guys would like to see on the NGP. Or even just to know if you’re gonna pick up an NGP?

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Fragged Out: Is the FPS genre reaching saturation point?

 

Having watched some of the recent trailers for upcoming first person shooters Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty: Black Ops I was struck by the realisation that I may be suffering from some kind of FPS burnout.

Despite both titles looking decent I’m finding it hard to get excited about them.

I already have Battlefield Bad Company 2, Killzone 2 and MAG to keep me entertained and if I fancy something completely different there’s always Borderlands.

Just a brief look at upcoming first person shooters in the next 6-9 months throws up the following list:

– Medal Of Honor

– Call Of Duty: Black Ops

– Killzone 3

– Brink

– Bulletstorm

– Bodycount

– Duke Nukem Forever

– Crysis 2

– Homefront

– Rage

From that list only Killzone 3 is a given as I’ll be trading up from the second game.

                                                                   Homefront’s tale of an occupied US makes for something different.

I also think Homefront looks interesting and everyone who has seen/played Rage is tipping it for Game Of The Year so that’s one I’m keen to check out.

Apart from that the others will more than likely be titles I’ll try at some stage but I’m not greatly excited by the majority of them, especially in terms of multiplayer.

So is this feeling of disinterest a sign of a lack of innovation in the genre? I’m not sure if that’s case – Bulletstorm certainly looks like shaking things up, although at its core it’s essentially the same as any other shooter.

                                                                                   Call Of Duty: Black Ops – good enough to see a switch from the games we are playing now?

Am I the only one out there that’s feeling this? Perhaps it’s a personal preference in that I feel Battlefield Bad Company 2 has pretty much nailed multiplayer for FPS.

I’m watching footage of Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty: Black Ops and just thinking am I actually going to play this over Battlefield or Killzone? The answer currently is ‘no’ and as time has gone on other titles like Crysis 2 and Brink have lost their appeal.

I was relatively impressed with both of them early on but the more information I’ve seen on them the more generic they seem.

                                                                            Brink brings the new S.M.A.R.T movement system but is that enough?

The main culprits though are the current period warfare titles – Medal of Honor in particular. All of these titles seem to be merging into one from a multiplayer perspective but I’m still looking forward to the single player campaigns.

We’ll see I guess. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong and the multiplayer sections of these games will be unique and different. I certainly hope so because as it stands I’ll be sticking with what I have.

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E3 2010 – The GregHorrorShow Wrap Up

 

So E3 has been and gone, leaving us to pick through the huge mass of info and game news that it’s left in it’s wake.

Not all of us were lucky enough to go to the actual show but fortunately Gametrailers.com and the like have managed to bring us footage and interviews from the show.

For a more in-depth look at some of the games from someone that was at E3, check out @Zvolen’s website Beyondthedpad.com

Well there’s a hell of a lot of stuff to get through – so let’s get started!

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MEDAL OF HONOR

Looks pretty interesting, especially in single player. On the multiplayer front it seems very similar to Battlefield, which is a good thing in one way but slightly disappointing in another.

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DEAD SPACE 2

More of the same from Issac Clarke and this is one I can’t wait for. Not a fan of jumpy horror stuff but the whole Dead Space universe is so rich I’m in!

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LITTLEBIGPLANET 2

Make your own games? Sounds like a win to me. Hopefully another decent story mode to work through before downloading loads of great user generated content.

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SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 4

I’m fairly hopeful that this reboot will be decent enough – it looks great but it’s hard to tell without having actually played it. Looking forward to some sort of demo at a later date.

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INFAMOUS 2

Oh Sucker Punch. What have you done to Cole? 😡 The brooding, cool badass of the original has been replaced with a boyband reject – not a good look. Hopefully the game itself will live up to the standard of the first.

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TWISTED METAL

Really pleased about this announcement, been waiting for a new Twisted Metal for a long time and the team based mechanics look solid. Could be very cool indeed.

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KILLZONE 3

Looks like the clash between the ISA and the Helghast continues apace, which is great news for us fans of Killzone. 😎 3D has been added as well, though that isn’t of much interest to me.

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MOTORSTORM APOCALYPSE

I was sceptical about shifting the series to a city but am glad to have been proven wrong. With the option to drive under, over and even through buildings Motorstorm Apocalypse is one to watch out for.

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SPEC OPS: THE LINE

Great trailer huh? Initially shown off back in December, Spec Ops: The Line has stepped up to the plate and looks to have some nice tricks up it’s sleeve.

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ASSASSIN’S CREED – BROTHERHOOD

Wasn’t 100% sure how multiplayer would work in Assassin’s Creed but having seen some of the footage from E3 it seems to be pretty well implemented. Story wise we play as Ezio again which is definitely ok with me.

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GRAN TURISMO 5

Gran Turismo 5 – we’ve been waiting for this for about 6 years 😮 Hyper realistic driving sim – graphics do look truly amazing.

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BULLETSTORM

Was not sold on this game at all previously but the stuff I’ve seen from E3 looks cool as a single player game. Still not interested in this as a multiplayer experience but I’ll wait and see how it develops before making a decision on whether it’s one I’ll pick up.

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HOMEFRONT

Hadn’t heard much about this but I’m a sucker for alternate timelines so this ‘US-has-been-invaded’ story sits well with me. One to watch.

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KINECT / MOVE

Motion control has obviously played a big part at E3 this year with both Microsoft (Kinect) and Sony (Move) looking to gatecrash Nintendo’s (Wii) party. In my opinion Move is already head and shoulders above Kinect, and probably Wii, with regard to proper games… Killzone 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, Heavy Rain (patch), SOCOM 4, Resi Evil 5 and Time Crisis all confirmed. Even if I don’t wanna play them with Move at least the option is there and they are REAL GAMES that don’t involve sports resorts or yoga.

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SOCOM 4

More interested in this than previous instalments, mainly because they have boosted the single player aspect (ie there is one :lol:) and also the fact that via Battlefield: Bad Company 2‘s multiplayer I’ve learnt the value of teamwork. Could be a really good experience.

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DEAD RISING 2

Quite excited to get my hands on this one as the first game was an XBox exclusive and I’ve only heard good things about it. My only concern is will there be enough variation to keep me playing?

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FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS

I lost 25 hours of my life to Fallout 3 – I’ve already pencilled in at least another day for New Vegas 😆

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MORTAL KOMBAT

I’m not a huge fan of fighting games but I loved the original Mortal Kombat and this new reboot is taking it back to the franchise’s darker, gory roots. Expect plenty of fatalities upon release.

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GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER

Like Bulletstorm, I pretty much had no interest in this prior to E3 but the thing that’s hooked me here is the potential for online co-op play. The gadgets look pretty cool as well. 😎

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RAGE

Still not sure on this game – looks like Borderlands? Guess that’s not a bad thing but how many Mad Max type games can you have?

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CRYSIS 2

This looks pretty sweet as a single player experience. Liking the style and the graphics are great.

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PORTAL 2 

VALVE even being at the Sony conference was a shock, especially having Gabe himself up there after all his slagging off of PS3 in the past. But Portal is a hugely respected game so I’ll make sure I work my way through that before approaching the sequel.

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METAL GEAR: RISING

NB. This trailer features graphic sword cutting – avoid if easily offended!

Metal Gear: Rising looked brilliant. Looks like a better version of WET‘s sword mechanics. Raiden as a bad ass? Who’d have thought it back in the MGS2 days 🙂

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GOD OF WAR: GHOST OF SPARTA (PSP)

Wow. Ready At Dawn look set to continue where they left off. Ghost Of Sparta looks tasty and I suspect will be full of awesomesauce (as DK money shizzle might say :lol:)

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Disapointment-wise, I’d say CASTLEVANIA which I thought might be cool but looks like a poor man’s Bayonetta/God Of War 😦

DRIVER, with it’s car jumping mechanic looks a bit too gimmicky.

I was very disappointed there is no sign of a new HITMAN game 😥

Also whilst CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPs looks good graphically I’m not sold – especially as that rappel bit from the trailer was nicked wholesale from RAINBOW SIX (now that’s a game I’d like to see announced! :cool:)

Would’ve liked to have seen new information on Last Guardian, Batman 2, Resistance 3 (an announcement that it’s actually coming) or Agent but suspect we’ll have more info on those at the Tokyo game show in August.

Also no PSP2! Though perhaps with hindsight they were wise – if they are gonna do it – not to put it up against the Nintendo 3DS (which I won’t be getting but does look like a great bit of kit).

But you can’t have everything.

So to sum up, in order, my Top 10 MOST WANTED of E3:

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1 Killzone 3

2 Dead Space 2

3 Metal Gear Rising

4 Twisted Metal

5 Crysis 2

6 God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta

7 Medal Of Honor

8 LittleBigPlanet 2

9 Infamous 2

10 Motorstorm Apocalypse

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Let me know what you guys are most looking forward to!

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