Playing Games Like You Watch TV Or: Why It Took Me Over Two Years To Finish Dragon Age: Inquisition

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I’ve spoken about my gaming habits plenty in the past but I’ve noticed another shift in the last year or so. If I have an hour spare now in the evening I’m much more likely to play an online game, not something single player based.

While it sounds contrary to the above, I feel like I want to invest more time in single player game sessions than ever and really lose myself in that world, which conflicts with my gaming schedule – essentially the odd hour here and there in the evening. I’m finding that I don’t want to play something story based for 45 minutes or an hour. Or at least that’s how I feel about open world games, I’m certainly still happy to play an hour long session to complete a chapter of Uncharted or a main mission in Tomb Raider. More linear games still lend themselves to that style of play. I’ve always played those kind of games like TV shows anyway, a chapter or two at a time over the course of weeks rather than days. I’ve never been a gamer who will rush through a 15-20 hour game in a weekend.

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Horizon: Zero Dawn is a good example of this new play style, a game I likely would’ve rushed through before is now a title I’m planning to play over the course of months rather than weeks. Crucially, I also feel like I’m getting more enjoyment out of the game by taking the time to explore and discover smaller content along the way.

I think there is an accompanying parallel change in multiplayer games, which are doing a much better job of getting you to come back and play more often. There has been a positive change in a huge amount of games whereby new content (new levels/maps or characters) is being added free of charge for all players. This is important because, firstly, it means the player base isn’t split (some that paid have the new content but others don’t and they can’t all play together) and secondly it gives people a strong reason to come back to games they might not have ever returned to before this trend. In addition a lot of games are rewarding players for logging in and playing, which keeps people interested for longer.  I also feel like there are a ton of pick up and play online experiences that last 5-10 minutes per game, which align perfectly with the time I have available.

If I only have 30-45 mins spare why waste my time on an open world title and have to turn it off just as I’m getting into the rhythm of the game? I’d rather play a few rounds Overwatch and a game of Rocket League. It’s also occasionally quite nice to play something that has a set beginning, middle and end. I guess it’s similar to watching a really good eight episode TV show knowing it only has one season and tells a complete story within that.

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Big, sprawling open world titles are definitely still attractive to me, Horizon is one of the best games I’ve played in the last 4 or 5 years, but I just need more time to play and invest in them. Dragon Age: Inquisition took me over two years to finish. Why? I suspect the TV season-like structure helped, along with the change in my own gaming habits. What I loved about the structure of Dragon Age in particular was that your main hub in the game was your ‘War Table’, where you and your colleagues/advisors would plan your next tactical move and which mission to take on. On this table you had a selection of smaller missions, including favours for your colleagues that would reveal more about them and strengthen your relationship with them, but also one bigger mission that moved the main story on considerably. So for me, the game became like a TV show in so far as I would spend a few weeks playing side missions, levelling up and getting some character development for my team before doing the big, climatic ‘end of season’ mission and then putting the game down for a month or two.

Another huge title in terms of scale is Fallout 4, which I’m still playing 18 months after I started. Why? Well for similar reasons to Dragon Age but with the added decision from the outset not to follow the direct path for ‘character reasons’. I decided to make my character more selfish than my usual created characters, for example my elf Inquisitor from Dragon Age or Commander Shepherd from Mass Effect. In Fallout, Bella would be a character that was, for the most part, more interested in her own current affairs than any grander goal – which has been great fun and I’d recommend everyone to try playing a character like it at some stage!

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Another issue with mainlining games is burnout, doing the same thing over and over again is certainly not fun and can severely lessen your enjoyment of a game. However, I think there is a huge difference between repetitive gameplay over a longer period of time in hour sized chunks and repetitive gameplay experienced in bigger 3 or 4 hour time slots.  I genuinely believe that the reason I still enjoy long running game series like Assassin’s Creed, where you are essentially doing the same thing in every iteration of the game in a different setting, is because I’ve never really sat down and played them for 4 or 5 hours at a time.

Episodic gaming kind of solves this play style problem, although it doesn’t always necessarily do the best job. Titles like The Walking Dead and Life Is Strange are great games, although each episode usually runs the length of a film which runs into the same problem for me time-wise. Hitman, which is perfectly suited to the episodic format, is another title with lengthy levels (a positive when I have the time to invest) although the inclusion of smaller one off assassinations does mean that is a game you can also dip into here and there.

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Some people are quick to mainline these huge games and I just don’t get it. Why would you want to rush through these big titles? Where Uncharted is like a film, games like Skyrim, Mass Effect or Dragon Age are like having 10 seasons of a TV show in front of you. Finishing these open world games as quickly as possible by doing just main quests would be like having a cut down version of the TV show that just focuses on the main character and no-one else. Sure you’d get to experience the story at the centre of the show but without any focus on other characters. Imagine a Buffy The Vampire Slayer without any development of Willow or Xander? Or an Orphan Black with no focus on Donny or anyone except Sarah? Indeed, imagine a Mass Effect that didn’t bother to flesh out your crew but just double downed on the main story.

I’m as guilty as the next person of binge-watching TV shows but I do feel that for games it is a little different – as I mentioned above my confusion isn’t really based on people playing games quickly, it’s what you might be missing along the way. Even if I binge something like Jessica Jones I am still seeing all the story the creators put in there and want us to see. If you mainline a game you could be missing a wealth of interesting content and potentially things that might be integral to the wider plot of the game.

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Even in this age of on demand binge watching it can be nice to watch a TV show week by week – one of the biggest luxuries of the ‘old’ approach to watching TV or playing games is that you have time to think about and appreciate the content you’re consuming. I’ve found that in games but also in TV. Recently, Legion was a delight to watch week by week and I actually think I needed that time between episodes to process what I’d seen. Sure, there is a rush from getting through something you’re enjoying – it can exhilarating knowing that you are just a click away from another episode or main mission but I’d recommend giving slower paced gaming a shot. It’s definitely a different experience and one, for me personally, that means I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of open world games.

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GregHorrorShow: Game Awards 2016

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So another stellar year done and a lot of games played, there have been some great releases and so many that I simply didn’t have time to get to them all. So apologies to Doom, Watch Dogs 2, Mafia III and Dishonored 2 (among others)… I will get around to playing you soon I promise!

Anyway, for 2016 – here we go:

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MISSED GEM OF 2015

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WINNER: Telltale’s ‘Tales From The Borderlands’

I’m seriously considering changing the name of this award to ‘Telltale’s Missed Gem’ because once again they take this with ‘Tales From The Borderlands’, an episodic adventure set in the Borderlands universe with a (mainly) new cast of characters. Telling the story of Rhys and Fiona from both viewpoints and with what can only be described as unreliable narration of both sides, it’s good fun. Great writing and some awesome set up in terms of vibe and atmosphere made this a whole lot better than I expected – heartily recommended.

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

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WINNER: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate didn’t get the props it deserved in last year’s awards as I hadn’t finished it. So let the record state I thought it was the best AC game since Brotherhood. In addition to that we also got a great chunk of DLC based around the mythology of Jack The Ripper in which, playing as an older version of Evie, you have to track down London’s most notorious serial killer. Good fun and a rare chance to play as an older incarnation of a character, its well worth checking out. In terms of online DLC support both Uncharted 4 and Overwatch provided their players with free maps and new modes along with, in the case of the latter, new characters. Great stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Destiny
  • Overwatch

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THE JOE DANGER AWARD

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WINNER: Skullgirls – 2nd Encore

I put a whole host of, unexpected, time into Skullgirls upon it’s release for Vita in April. I had been looking for a fighter to get into and while I did consider the latest Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, in the end Skullgirls cartoon style won me over. What I wasn’t prepared for was how enjoyable the game would be to a newcomer. Playing through the character stories was great fun, though I did get repeatedly beaten online!

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2017

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WINNER: Mass Effect Andromeda

This was a pretty close run thing, truth be told and Mass Effect ends up taking it by virtue of the fact I’m confident it’ll actually come out this year, unlike Red Dead Redemption 2! Both are highly desired though and I can’t wait to get my hands on them. I loved the original Gravity Rush so it makes sense the sequel is up there and Horizon: Zero Dawn looks set to be the most exciting new IP of 2017. I did want to put Persona 5 on here but I’m a bit nervous about it, just in terms of having had a connection with the characters of the previous game. New characters, new location… same magic? Fingers crossed.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Gravity Rush 2
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn

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BEST GAME TRAILER

WINNER: Red Dead Redemption 2

What can you say about Red Dead Redemption 2? Rockstar dropped a logo on Twitter and the world went crazy. When they dropped the trailer the gaming world pretty much unanimously stopped for 1 minute and 8 seconds. The piano, the graphics, the feel of the Wild West. It’s all there and showed us a brief glimpse of what might be on the horizon. Battlefield 1 dazzled us with amazing graphics and Gravity Rush 2 maintained the awesome style of the first game. Meanwhile Blizzard delivered a near Pixar-quality short as a trailer for Overwatch.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Battlefield 1
  • Overwatch
  • Gravity Rush 2

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BEST VITA GAME

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WINNER: Skullgirls – 2nd Encore

As noted above I hadn’t thought Skullgirls would grab me the way it did, especially as someone that doesn’t really play many fighting games. But it definitely did and the game does a great job of teaching you as much as you want to learn with a really in depth tutorial system. The characters and art style are cool and the music is fantastic. The Vita port is solid as well and the game controlled really well. I’d definitely say to pick this up if you’re interested in getting into a fighting game.

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BEST GRAPHICS

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WINNER: Battlefield 1

DICE have a history of nabbing this award with previous wins for Battlefield 3 (2013) and Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) and this year the competition was even fiercer with both Uncharted 4 and The Division delivering awe inspiring worlds and Overwatch bringing a stylised vibe to the party as well. Having said that, Battlefield 1 is a stunning looking game – one of those games you’ll show to people on the edge about buying a new console… ‘But look at this!’

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • The Division
  • Overwatch

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BEST STORYLINE

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WINNER: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

I expect this one will come as no surprise to anyone as my love for Uncharted is well documented on these pages but after the departure of Amy Hennig I wasn’t entirely convinced that the heart of the game would still be there but thankfully Naughty Dog delivered everything we wanted story-wise. Sure, Nathan Drake now has a brother we’ve never heard about previously but the story here is well paced, enjoyable and uses the characters to great effect. Titanfall 2 has a claim on best level of 2016 with one mid level (pleasant) surprise and I thought the Infinite Warfare campaign was one of the best in Call Of Duty history. While Battlefield 1 tailed off in the last couple of story missions it started really strongly and Black Bess in particular was fantastic.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Titanfall 2
  • Battlefield 1

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BEST MUSIC (SCORE)

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WINNER: Overwatch

Skullgirls has a wonderful score that compliments it’s crazy outlandish aesthetic perfectly. Uncharted 4 and Battlefield 1 have amazing, soaring scores that do a great job to match the on-screen action throughout. But Overwatch… That theme when you load the game up, the swell as it reaches a crescendo. The ‘Play Of The Game’ theme is such a cool, heroic riff that does a super job of conveying that sense of heroism. Even the smaller parts like the music that accompanies the end of a round hit the mark. Really impressive stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Battlefield 1
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Skullgirls – 2nd Encore

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BEST MUSIC (LICENSED)

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WINNER: Gone Home

Despite some misgivings over the game itself there is no doubt that Gone Home had a killer soundtrack, with songs from Heavens to Betsy, Bratmobile and The Youngins (as GirlScout). With the game set in 1995 the developer did a great job of nailing that feel with the music. FIFA 17, as usual, delivered an eclectic mix of new artists for players to discover like Bishop Briggs and Barns Courtney alongside heavy hitters like Beck and Two Door Cinema Club. Special shout out to Tales From The Borderlands as well, I know it came out last year but as it wasn’t featured I felt a mention was in order for first class use of stuff like James Blake, The Rapture and First Aid Kit. Also apologies again to Watch Dogs 2 and Mafia III, who I suspect may have featured here if I’d played them.

RUNNERS UP:

  • FIFA 17
  • Tales From The Borderlands

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BEST VOICE ACTING

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WINNER: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted once againtakes home the best voice acting award – adding the irrepressible Troy Baker (Sam) and amazing Laura Bailey (Nadine) to the already stellar cast of Nolan North, Emily Rose and Richard McGonagle. The game itself is so full of graphical prowess and little touches that give the characters personality that it’s easy to forget the stunning job the cast of Uncharted consistently delivered. Unparalleled in gaming. I enjoyed the cast’s performance in Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare as well, with Ethan the robot shining alongside David Harewood as Sgt. Usef Omar. Camilla Luddington was spot on as Lara Croft in Rise Of The Tomb Raider and while I loved the voices in Overwatch I didn’t feel there was enough voiced content in the game for it to take the award.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Overwatch
  • Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Rise Of The Tomb Raider

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

What a way to round out the series! Uncharted 4 excels in so many areas it’s difficult to know where to start. Graphically it’s a powerhouse, with a great story and excellent voice acting. It controls really well and Naughty Dog also managed to keep a more gritty tone while retaining the original trilogy’s sense of swagger and humour. A fantastic achievement and a bench mark for single player campaigns. Rise Of The Tomb Raider continued the series high quality revival, expanding on several elements to give the player a host of customisation to their playthrough. Considering the original Titanfall didn’t have a campaign, it’s surprising that the sequel’s turned out so well. But it did and had lots of memorable moments that set you up nicely for the multiplayer. Hitman was a delight this year, split into episodic chunks that you could consume at leisure, basking in each level’s quirks and areas. Similarly to the excellent Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, I really felt like if I made a mistake in Hitman I had a chance to recover or at least try something different. A real triumph and I look forward to Season 2.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Rise Of The Tomb Raider
  • Titanfall 2
  • Hitman

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Overwatch

I put quite a bit of time into both The Division and Uncharted 4’s online components this year and really enjoyed both of them. The Division’s cooperative online set up meant it was fun to play with friends and I’ve always enjoyed Nathan Drake’s multiplayer adventures so Uncharted 4 was no different. Probably the best ever offering in my opinion and while I didn’t play as much Titanfall 2 I thought what I did play was great fun. Despite all that only one game captivated me since it’s release back in Spring, of course, it’s Overwatch! With so many characters and classes (and sub classes) on offer (23 at last count with more coming) there is something here for everyone. Not great at shooters? Go with a healer instead, or maybe a defender like Mei, who can pop up ice walls to block off the opposition. Coming across like the best Saturday morning kids show ever, Overwatch might be the best multiplayer game I’ve ever played, and that’s saying something!

RUNNERS UP:

  • The Division
  • Titanfall 2
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

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GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Overwatch

I was really looking forward to Overwatch, I thought the Beta was neat and wanted to get my hands on it. It wasn’t even mentioned in my most anticipated games last year but it was the first game in a long time that I actually hit the level cap for. As discussed above there simply isn’t another shooter, or game, like it. The team based nature of it and the positive feedback loop of having good things during the match being the focus of end game round ups is awesome. Add into that the gender, and race, diversity that flows through the cast of colourful characters and you have a winning formula. Yes it can be frustrating, especially in competitive mode, but to win a closely fought match is one of the best feelings in gaming.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • The Division
  • Hitman

So there we go, another year down and lots of amazing games on the horizon for 2017!

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E3 2015 – The GregHorrorShow Round Up

E3 2015 MAIN

E3 used to be the pinnacle of the gaming calendar but it’s star has faded somewhat in recent years with events like Gamescom and The Games Awards stealing some of its thunder. 2015 is the year E3 made a comeback – lots of great announcements and two really strong conferences from Microsoft and Sony! And people have the cheek to say there are no games coming!! So let’s start with Microsoft. As you probably know if you’re reading this, I’m not an MS console owner so most of the exclusives weren’t of that much interest to me. A couple of the multiplatform games really stood out though. .

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RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER

I really enjoyed the reboot of Tomb Raider a few years ago and this looks like more of the same. My only concern is that a lot of my enjoyment last time out came from Lara being inexperienced and seeing her develop through the story. Hopefully they can make the follow up as interesting.

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CUPHEAD

I’ve been banging on about Cuphead for ages and it still looks amazing! Although currently only listed for Xbox One and PC the game studio’s twitter account recently confirmed these were the initial platforms and they’d be exploring others at a later date. I’d love this on my Vita!

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THE LAST GUARDIAN

And so it lives! The most hyped, requested game of the last few years – seen at E3 2009 and then quiet until now, The Last Guardian looks gorgeous and sees you take on the role of a kid who teams up with a giant beast. Together you’ll solve puzzles and work your way through the story. .

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HORIZON: ZERO DAWN

I love Killzone and so when I heard Guerrilla Games were working on something fresh I was excited to see what they’d come up with. Then a few bits leaked about robot dinosaurs. Excitement levels were building but nothing could’ve prepared me for the trailer they showed. Wow. What a great style and look. A strong female protagonist who is hunting robot dinosaurs among the remnants of mankind. I’m in.

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UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END

The absolute highlight of the show for me. My expectations were so high and yet Naughty Dog exceeded everything I’d hoped for. The graphics, the banter between characters, the set pieces… I could go on and on but set aside 7 minutes and watch the full clip above. Outstanding. .

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FIREWATCH

I didn’t know much about Firewatch before E3 but having watched the trailer I like the art style and adding a bit of story to an exploration game is pretty cool. I’d probably need to play it before committing fully but I’m keen to see more.

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CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III

I’m a little burnt out on Call Of Duty, despite the fact Advanced Warfare was one of the better entries in recent years. Having said that I’ve always favoured Treyarch’s Black Ops series and the fact that this instalment has a four player co-op campaign has piqued my interest. Should be fun!

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DREAMS

Dreams was very weird – I’m still not sure how much of it is a game but when a studio with the pedigree of Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet / Tearaway) is behind something, I’m always willing to give it a shot. Have a look at the above to see what I mean, it’s difficult to describe but looks beautiful.

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NO MAN’S SKY

No Man’s Sky continues to impress and this was a nice glimpse at what you’ll be able to do in the game. Looking forward to discovering some planets and alien species! Still no release date but I’d expect it to be coming in early 2016 – surely we can’t have another E3 with No Man’s Sky there!

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HELLBLADE

I really enjoyed Heavenly Sword and Enslaved so Ninja Theory’s new game was already on my radar. Based around mental illness, it’s being made in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust – I really hope they manage to handle the subject sensitively while delivering a great gaming experience.

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MIRROR’S EDGE CATALYST

We’ve been waiting a while for this one! Mirror’s Edge came in at number 39 on my Top 100 PS3 games and the follow up looks to be a refinement of the formula that worked so well previously. The game is actually set before the original game so we’ll get to see more of Faith’s origin story.

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FALLOUT 4

Wow. Just wow. This one pushed Uncharted 4 all the way as my biggest/best showing at this year’s E3. I cannot wait to lose myself in this world. The graphics are a step up and hopefully there will be less technical issues than the last few titles. And they even threw in a free mobile game to tide us over! (IOS only for now, coming to Android in the next few months)

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DISHONORED 2

Dishonored 2 was another title that looked great and continued this E3’s theme of empowered female characters with the news that Emily Kaldwin from the original will now be playable with her own set of powers/abilities. Great news and a really cool series, I’m glad this is getting another game.

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METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN

The Metal Gear games have always been special to me. A mix of completely insane story and superb gameplay, the latest instalment looks to be more of the same as creator Hideo Kojima signs off on his last ever Metal Gear Solid title. It’s sure to be some ride, with a huge game world and plenty of memorable characters and I’m looking forward to getting my tactical espionage on later this year.

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UNRAVEL

Unravel looks like a super cute, cool title that sees you take on the role of a yarn feline. You’ll be going on adventures throughout the game world, which seems to be based around puzzle platforming. This is another one I’m hoping might come to Vita further down the line.

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MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA

I am a big fan of the Mass Effect series, which signed off Commander Shepherd’s trilogy a few years ago. Back with a new protagonist and a new set of worlds to explore, I can’t wait to jump back into the Mass Effect universe. Although it’s all new characters I do hope a few old faces show up 🙂

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RAINBOW SIX SIEGE

I’m really excited about Rainbow Six Siege. This is tactical first person shooter at its purest. 4v4, small environments and tense objectives. Each team is based around the best special forces teams from across the globe. This could be awesome – my only concern is how many levels the game ships with. If it’s only 4 or 5 this might not be worth the full price investment.

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STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT

What can you say about Star Wars? The idea of a Star Wars game made by the people behind Battlefield pushes the right buttons for me. It looks and sounds amazing. While there isn’t a single player component, I imagine most gamers will be picking this one up!

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JUST CAUSE 3

Another game I enjoyed the previous instalment of and word on the (E3) street is that this is one of the best games being shown at the event, which is a little surprising but satisfying nonetheless. Rico Rodriguez is back, this time going home to the motherland to liberate the masses from another dictator.

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GHOST RECON: WILD LANDS

I really enjoyed the last Ghost Recon game. It wasn’t spectacular but what it did right felt good and so this surprise announcement was positive news for me. Hopefully it’ll have lots of variety in mission structure so the game has some longevity.

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HITMAN

A full on reboot of the Hitman games was unexpected but a good move in my opinion. After the previous title, Absolution, was the most accessible yet it makes sense to revisit the earlier adventures of Agent 47. The idea of targets appearing for a short time and then disappearing altogether is fascinating, if a little daunting!

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THE DIVISION

The Division has been floating around for a good few years now and while the main topic of conversation in the last few days has been the visual ‘downgrade’ (has there been one?) it still looks good to me and I’m excited to check it out when it finally gets released.

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DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a pleasant surprise a few years ago so a new title following on the story of Adam Jenson is very welcome. And boy, does it look good! Hopefully the game will retain the freedom of the previous title and we’ll be able to approach missions however we like.

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So there you go – what a year. It’s been a while since I had such a great bunch of games to choose from. It was really hard to narrow it down at all – titles like Batman: Arkham Knight, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Persona 5 and Need For Speed all looked great and of course the returning FIFA will be excellent I’m sure. So what did you guys rate? What was your favourite trailer and what are you most excited for?

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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.

PlayingItWrong2

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.

PlayingItWrong3

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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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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Top Ten: Franchises I’d Like To See On PS3

TwistedMetalMain

I was thinking the other day about what a great set of games we as PS3 owners have coming up with the likes of Uncharted 2, Assassin’s Creed II, Modern Warfare 2, God Of War 3 etc.

And then I thought back to some of the older games I used to play and how cool it might be if some of them were re-imagined, brought into the 21st Century and onto the PS3.

So here’s the 10 franchises I’d most like to see on the PS3…

 

10. Kingdom Hearts

KingdomHearts

Kingdom Hearts squeezes onto the list because I feel sorry for my wife who has had to make do with Kingdom Hearts II since 2006 🙂 It’s been a while since I had to sit and watch Sora, Goofy, Donald et al jumping and hacking their way across my TV.

For such a big title, which has been a success in Japan, the US and Europe it’s surprising a next gen title hasn’t been announced, although it’s been hinted at that the upcoming PSP game will tie in with a ‘future title.’

I would imagine they’d give the graphics a lick of paint but the gameplay would stay the same and although I don’t play the games myself I do find it interesting to see which Disney characters they have included as we go through the levels.

However I expect with the PSP game yet to appear Kingdom Hearts fans may be looking at a late 2010/early 2011 release date for Kingdom Hearts III – unless those scamps at Squre Enix have been hard at work without releasing any info at all. All I’ll say is stranger things have happened!

 

9. The Helicopter ‘Strike’ Series 

DesertStrike

Sega Mega Drive classic ‘Desert Strike’ and the pretty good follow up ‘Jungle Strike’ (but we’ll leave it at those two I think 😆 ) were both games that lots of people will remember.

You were in control of a US army helicopter and after choosing your co-pilot got dropped in at the deep end – with a bunch of mission objectives and a host of M.I.A’s (Missing In Action) to track down.

The gameplay was really strong and while the content (a war with the Middle East) was sensitive at the time I was too young to understand all that and just wanted to blow some stuff up. 🙂

There are plenty of games that have used flying for it’s mode of transport and the recent Tom Clancy Hawx went down the simulation route but I think with a touch of ‘Mercenaries,’ a hint of ‘GTA IV’ and a splash of ‘Battlefield: Bad Company’ a new “Strike” game could be really great.

 

8. Manhunt

ManhuntMain

I would imagine a PS3 version of Manhunt is in the works but we haven’t had any sort of announcement from Rockstar about a next gen title in the series.

Obviously any new Manhunt won’t have the original’s twisted story to fall back on and I sincerely hope a new version wouldn’t be relying on ‘shocking’ close up kills to sell the game.

Manhunt, for me, was always about the character not the kills. The fact that this guy (or in fact, you) was being forced to kill was a real mindbender. Sure the guys he was taking out were evil thugs but still…

Perhaps the newer version could give you normal people to kill (or not, depending on your choices) although I suppose that might be taking it too far.

Manhunt is certainly a series that would sell well if another game was released but they would definitely need to come up with a great, clever story to juxtaoppose the over the top violence that most people remember the games for.

 

7. Chase HQ

ChaseHQMain

Chase HQ for me was a brilliant little game that, though limited in gameplay, never got tired – mainly due to the fact that once you caught up with the criminal you were chasing you lent out of the car window and popped one of those awesome stick on police lights on the roof 😎

I admit they may need to up the gameplay – as it was you were given a target, had a time limit to catch them then had to run them off the road.

On the plus side they could check out the updated versions of Out Run for how to do a good job of bringing Chase HQ into the next generation of gaming.

With a graphical overhaul, some new modes and online multiplayer this could be a good little game. Plus the siren is cool anytime 🙂

 

6. Football Manager

FootballManager

As someone who loves the PSP version of Football Manager but would like a bit more depth and interaction it would brilliant to see Football Manager make the step over onto PS3.

Obviously they released one a few seasons back on XBox 360 so I guess at some stage this could become a reality although possibly their ties with Microsoft could end up keeping it a XBox 360 console exclusive.

On the flip side I fear if this actually happened I might never play anything else ever again 😆

I’ve tried the PC version which was cool but I just can’t game on the PC – even with something point and click based like Football Manager, I just feel like I need a pad in my hand. 😐

 

5. Road Rash

RoadRash-II

Road Rash was a big fixture in my gaming childhood as I spent hours racing and fighting through the wonderfully colourful terrains created for this awesome game.

The idea behind it was simple – get a bike and take part in illegal street races. The difference here being the fact that you would fight with your rival racers as you made your way through, knocking each other off your bikes.

You’d start off with a terrible bike and earn cash from races to upgrade and get better bikes. It helped that you could also grab weapons from the other racers (like clubs and chains) that were devestating to wield.

You’d obviously have to flesh out the gameplay a bit for the next gen as people expect more bang for their buck but perhaps adding some different weapons and features for the bikes, along with the option to race against other online and a graphical overhaul, might just be enough to see this brought to a new audience.

I’d certainly pick it up as an PSN game even if they just touched up the graphics and made it multi-player online. Imagine 16 or 20 racers all online – just hope I can get the chain and hang on to it 😆

 

4. Speedball

SpeedBall

Speedball has had various updates over the years as several different games companies have attempted to bring the game into 3D.

I’d love to see someone like Rockstar have a bash at this and make it a really dark, gritty game. Would be awesome to see it as a story/career based game where you have to work your way up through the leagues/teams.

Kind of like a TOCA Race Driver type of story mode, only a lot more improved and with some sinster undercurrents 🙂

Speedball was always on the dark side – a brutal undeground sport where you could seriously injure your opponents and scoring goals after racking up the points multiplier was all that mattered. Imagine the people that brought you GTA, Manhunt and Max Payne working on a PS3 version! 😎

 

3. Twisted Metal

TwistedMetal

Rumours have been floating around for ages that David Jaffe’s (creator of Twisted Metal/God Of War/Calling All Cars) latest top secret project for PS3 is a new Twisted Metal.

He refuses to confirm (or deny) the rumour so this remains on the ‘ones I’d love to see’ list.

The original Twisted Metal on PSOne was a brilliant game of astute driving and absolute carnage. The weapons were well balanced and the drivers/vehicles likewise.

The amazing cast of characters also helped – everyone remembers Sweet Tooth (the psychotic clown with the Ice Cream Van) but all of them had their own back story and everyone had their personal favourites… mine were Crimson Viper and Spectre btw. 😎

Twisted Metal Black on the PS2 continued the high standard but didn’t quite have the same impact (for me at least, the game itself was very well received) although I suspect that might’ve been because it came at a time when I wasn’t gaming all the time.

Twisted Metal will be brilliant on PS3 and I hope the fact Jaffe hasn’t denied the rumour is an indication that this could be coming in 2010.

 

2. Syphon Filter

SyphonFilter

Having played and loved the original Syphon Filter on PSOne and working through the PSP games as well, I’m all for a return to the big stage for Gabe Logan. With the Splinter Cell series spiking off exclusively to XBox 360, PS3 is a man down in the stealth/gadget war and Gabe could be the man to rectify the balance.

Syphon Filter has always been about the gadgets, whether it’s Thermal Googles or explosive dart ammo for your sniper rifle. And of course the trusty EDT – a brilliant device that effectively tasers your opponent. Without the need to stay within the confines of usual laws you could keep it held on until your opponent was literally smoking. Extravagant? Perhaps, but when you were out of ammo it was a god send 🙂

The comparisons to Metal Gear Solid were inevitable but really Syphon Filter plays a lot like the more action based Metal Gear Solid 4 than the original stealth classic.

I think this would be a great addition to the PS3 catalogue of games.

 

1. Hitman

HitmanFranchise

Ah, Agent 47 – where the hell are you?!

2006 was the last time we got to use Agent 47’s skills to carry out some (and some not so) stealthy assassinations. And there is still no new word on a next gen version.

Eidos did announce Hitman 5 back in 2007 and I’m hopeful that Eidos money trouble and the take over by Square Enix won’t harm the chances of this one coming out *crosses fingers* but I would’ve thought we would have had some more info by now.

Hitman: Blood Money was the only title in the series I played but that was enough to give me a thirst for a next gen version – the way you had such choice in the assassination was outstanding.

You could make it look like an accident – rig a BBQ to explode etc or just get in and carry out an old skool hit. Alternatively you could resort to trying to blast your way in and blowing your target away but you were unlikely to succeed.

Also the fact you got the front page of a newspaper reporting on the murder as an indication of how well you performed was a stroke of genius.

I dread to think of the options and advanced AI the power of the next gen consoles could provide and I think Hitman could be a real stand out title if they nail it.

It would be a real shame if my last memories of Agent 47 were from the mediocre ‘Hitman’ film of a few years back 😦

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