E3 2019 Preview

Indivisible

E3 2019 starts on June 11th and looks set to be a strange version of the annual conference. Following moves by several of the big publishers (EA/Bethesda) over the last few years to host their own events around the conference rather than as part of it, this year Sony has declined to take part. Mainly this is because, with the PS5 not quite ready and no new games to talk about, they simply wouldn’t be in a position to hold an interesting event.

The good news for gamers is that Microsoft looks set to follow in Playstation’s steps and finally confirm details of their new console. Rumours continue to swirl about power and features but, alongside the official news on PS5 last month, it means that after E3 the new generation of consoles will be on the way!

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There are plenty of games already announced that I want to know more about. Dragon Age Origins was a title I really enjoyed but the company behind it, Bioware, is reeling from two high profile games that have failed to make an impact. Mass Effect Andromedia disappointed fans of the series, while Anthem released in a bit of state and still hasn’t really recovered. Can they return to form on the new Dragon Age title? The teaser trailer confirms Solas will be involved and I wonder if many of the other characters will return. It’s not listed as part of the EA conference but I’d love it if they dropped another trailer as a surprise during their E3 presentation.

We had a good look at Cyberpunk 2077 last year so I’m not sure if it will be back again this year but I hope we get to see another slice of the game – maybe a different aspect of the game world. Another title I’ve been keeping an eye on is Indivisible, an RPG from the makers of Skullgirls. I had a chance to play this at Rezzed a few months ago and really enjoyed it. Would be great to get a release date for this one.

Control

Remedy have spent the last decade exclusively making games for the XBox so their switch to multiplatform means that the upcoming Control is the first of their games for a long time that I’ll have the chance to play. It looks really impressive and as it’s releasing in August it would be a pleasant surprise if they dropped a demo on the day for people to try out.

In addition to announced titles there are always a few new games that crop up, some more surprising than others. There is a lot of talk online around the next Watch Dogs game and whether it might be set in London. I think it would be great to have a big open world set outside of the US for a change and it’s been a while since the UK featured as a main game hub.

Horizon

Guerrilla Games have been very quiet since the release of Horizon: Zero Dawn. Rumours are that they are busy working on a follow up to that game which would be fantastic, although (and I know I’m in the minority) I would love it if they returned to the Killzone universe – either with a new title or a remaster of the excellent Killzone 2. Usually by this time EA would have a DICE-made shooter waiting in the wings for the Autumn but with content for both Battlefield V and Star Wars Battlefront II recently dropping, I’m not sure whether we’ll see anything else cropping up. Perhaps it’ll be more content plans for the games they have. To be honest I’d probably prefer if they supported the existing games longer and gave DICE more time to develop the new titles.

Bethesda have remained silent on a new Dishonored game but I really hope to see one announced at E3. The games have always been fun and got better with each title. Quantic Dream are another company that have gone multi-platform and, despite some heavy handed plot points, I’ve enjoyed almost all of their titles so far. We can’t be far away from them at least teasing their next game, even if it’s for the next generation of consoles.

So there we go, a slightly muted E3 compared to recent years but still plenty to look forward to.

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Talking ‘Bout My (New) Generation (Of Consoles)

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It doesn’t seem that long ago to me that I rushed home with a massive, shiny 60GB Playstation 3 and plugged it in for the first time. It was, in fact, almost 12 years ago. Even the excitement of bringing home my Playstation 4 was 6 years ago. It almost feels too soon to be thinking about a new generation of consoles but here we are at the start of 2019 with rumours already swirling.

It’s been widely reported that Sony’s own first party developers, such as Naughty Dog (Uncharted, The Last Of Us), Sony Santa Monica (God Of War), Insomniac (Infamous, Spiderman) and Guerrilla Games (Killzone, Horizon: Zero Dawn), have already shifted focus to working on the new platform. IGN recently reported that both Bethesda and Square Enix are confirmed to be working on next gen titles so logically it’s likely that Ubisoft, Activision and EA won’t be far behind.

But what does a new console look like as we head into the 2020’s?

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For all the talk of the future being completely digital, this next round of consoles will most likely be similar to the current generation – you will have a box under your TV that you pop a disc in/download games to. In the future I can imagine streaming games rather than buying them to download but I think we’re still a little way off that technology running smoothly for people around the world.

An interesting aspect of the new generation of consoles will be the idea of streaming creeping into more widespread use. As services like Spotify and Netflix become the norm will Playstation increase the cost of of its Playstation Plus subscription and offer streaming as part of the package?

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Recently a patent was uncovered that seemed to indicate Playstation were exploring a much deeper implementation of emulation. It looks likely you might be able to play your old Playstation 1, 2, 3 and 4 games on the PlayStation 5 – which would be massive. At the very least the PS5 needs to be able to play PS4 games or uptake will be limited. Especially as forthcoming stand out titles like Last Of Us II and Ghost of Tsushima are both scheduled for PS4.

Aside from backwards compatibility there are several other things I’d love to see from a new console. Of course the most visual of aspects would be a boost to graphical capabilities, full 4k at 60 frames per second and HDR for every game would be brilliant but I’m not sure how realistic that will be. As mentioned above I think more options for streaming would be great – perhaps offering a form of Playstation Now as part of the regular monthly subscription would be a good start.

The other big thing for me is how much of the PS5’s power can be used for A.I in games. Nothing ruins a game quicker than amazing looking enemies who proceed to just stand in the open taking fire. I’m hoping for another big leap, similar to the one we got for Killzone 2 on the PS3. I’d love to think improved and challenging enemies will be the standard for next generation… we’ll see.

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Of course the main tipping point for most people on whether to jump to a new console is price. While the PS3 weighed in with a whopping price tag of £425, the PS4 was a more respectable £349. I’d expect around the same again if I’m being honest. In a dream world it would be £299 but I’d hazard a guess it’ll be £329. A little more I could stomach but if it tips above £400 again I think PS5 will see sluggish sales beyond the initial die hard fans.

In terms of release date – I expect we’ll hear more about the console at an initial reveal this year with the launch date looking like mid 2020. Pure speculation but this guessing game is sometimes the most fun part of the run up to a new console generation!

Whatever happens it looks set to be an interesting and exciting time in the console space. I definitely feel like the PS4 has a year or two left in it but am really looking forward to seeing what Playstation deliver with their next console.

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The Order: 1886 – Review (PS4)

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The Order: 1886 had been on my radar since that amazing first trailer reveal – the graphical fidelity of the game coupled with an alternate history plot and Victorian London setting had me hooked. As more trailers arrived it seemed to just get better and better.

And then I played it. Last year’s EGX gave the public the chance to get hands on and I was very keen to do so. It certainly looked great but the animation felt lacking and the gunplay wasn’t what I was looking for. I walked away feeling a little deflated. However two friends that also played the same demo really liked it and came away impressed. I figured maybe when I was playing it at home it might click with me.

So now that I’ve had the full experience of playing the game, did The Order turn out to be a disappointment? Or did Ready At Dawn deliver on the initial promise of the game?

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Well the good news is that the animation problems I had previously with jerky movement of NPCs were almost non-existent so you could lose yourself in the game without being dragged out of the world every time someone would stammer across the screen. The issue with enemies not flinching from gunfire sadly remains, although this too is reduced. For such a film-like experience it does jar to have enemies not respond appropriately when hit by bullets. I mean if you look at games like Killzone 2 and 3 it can make a huge difference and make taking on enemies a lot more enjoyable.

Much was made of the game’s length before it’s release, with some people citing playthrough times of 5 hours. While The Order isn’t a long game, my initial playthrough took around 7 hours which I felt was a decent enough length. Whether or not you feel that sort of campaign length is worth £50 is up to you but it certainly wasn’t quite as short as was reported previously.

Another issue some people had was the amount of cut scenes and time spent not in control of the character. This definitely could be a problem for some, I personally felt ok with the way it was handled and enjoyed the story. Again I was happy just looking around the environment and exploring little pockets of the game world, enjoying the stunning job the developers had done. It almost verges on the ridiculous, with items in the world (like chairs or books) fully fleshed out and gorgeous looking, even when there is a good chance players won’t actively stop to look at them. There is no doubt The Order is a truly stunning looking game and between this and DriveClub you now have a couple of titles that can showcase the difference between PS3 and PS4.

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Unfortunately for all the talk of how wonderful the game looks it simply isn’t that exciting to play. The gunplay, while having a certain heft doesn’t match titles like Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Max Payne 3 or even Grand Theft Auto V. It’s such a shame and it means those sections where they are throwing 20 or 30 enemies at you can be a bit of a drag. Of course I did have fun with some of the encounters, it was just those longer ones that tested my patience. There is also a stealth section that drove me mad, wherein you need to kill a set amount of guards but have no indication of where they are. If you are seen it’s insta-fail and right back to the beginning. Not including a checkpoint in there and having to restart every time meant it really broke the flow of the game.

It’s not all bad though, there was a lot of talk about there being too many QTE’s in the game but I thought it was handled ok and the addition of a few new mechanics thrown in for some helped to make some of the encounters feel different. The music is also superb, with Jason Graves delivering once again. Having such a dense, heavy score really helps to colour the game world and give you a sense of the atmosphere and feeling of this alternate London.

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The Order: 1886 certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I felt that the plot was good and the gameplay was enjoyable enough for the most part. When I got to the end and the credits rolled I thought to myself, ‘I’d play another one of those if they made it’ and I hope Ready At Dawn get a chance to refine this experience and give us a game that delivers on all fronts.

Rating: 7/10

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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)

Top100 20-11

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

If you’ve missed the previous installments, catch up here!

Part One (100-91)

Part Two (90-81)

Part Three (80-71)

Part Four (70-61)

Part Five (60-51)

Part Six (50-41)

Part Seven (40-31)

Part Eight (30-21)

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

Strap yourself in – here we go…

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20. Dead Space 2

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

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

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

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19. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

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

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

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

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

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18. Infamous

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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

GTA IV

One the biggest selling games of this generation GTA IV features the fortunes (and lack therof) of Niko Bellic – an immigrant arriving in the US at Liberty City to find empty promises and broken dreams from his cousin Roman.

As you work your way up the criminal ladder you’ll encounter all sort of dodgy characters and befriend even more.

Liberty City is a wonderful, if run down, place and Niko Bellic’s story is one you will enjoy playing through so make sure you pick this game up as soon as possible.

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14. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I’m not sure if I’ll *ever* finish playing Skyrim. Not because the game is bad – quite the opposite – but because, well… to be honest… I’ve never played anything like it.

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

What Bethesda have done an amazing job on is making Skyrim feel like a blank canvas for your character. It’s this aspect of the game that is like nothing else I’ve ever played. You could have a thrilling, intense gaming experience for tens of, possibly hundreds of, hours without even doing much in the way of the ‘main storyline.’

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

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13. Metal Gear Solid 4

Metal Gear Solid 4

Hideo Kojima’s tale of Solid Snake’s final mission is a brilliant showcase of the Playstation 3′s power.

This is a game that often gives you three or four different ways of approaching things – whether you realise it or not.

Metal Gear Solid 4 rewards those patient enough to stick with it by giving them a great gaming experience, with some memorable boss battles, that they won’t forget.

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12. Killzone 2

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

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

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11. Bioshock

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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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7 x 7 Link Award

I have been bestowed with the honour of receiving the 7×7 Link Award from the lovely The Warning Sign.

I don’t often get involved with this type of thing but as a break from the reviews I’ve been putting up recently – here goes!

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THE RULES:

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1. Tell everyone something that no one else knows about you.

2. Link to one of the posts that I personally think best fits the following categories: Most Beautiful Piece, Most Helpful Piece, Most Popular Piece, Most Controversial Piece, Most Surprisingly Successful Piece, Most Underrated Piece, and Most Pride-Worthy Piece.

3. Pass the award on to seven other bloggers.

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PART ONE:

In my younger days I once played a full 62 lap race on a Formula 1 game in one sitting – my knees literally cracked when I went to get out of the chair. Not a healthy attitude to gaming, although it was a one off!

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PART TWO:

1) Most Beautiful Piece: In terms of content I would say my Great Game Openings piece – some of those are stunningly gorgeous.

2) Most Helpful Piece: My Top 50 Single Player Games remains very popular and hopefully is still helpful to people looking to pick up some games for offline action.

3) Most Popular Piece: My Killzone 2 review went down really well and still gets plenty of views to this day.

4) Most Controversial Piece: Not a specific piece but any ‘Top’ lists usually garner some feedback on what people felt should’ve been in the list. Certainly not a bad thing.

5) Most Surprisingly Successful Piece: My review of Dante’s Inferno – the original prose as opposed to the game. Up there among my most viewed posts – still surprised by that everytime it pops up!

6) Most Underrated Piece: Sad to see that my end of year Music round up from 2011 has only had a handful of views, although it’s not a great surprise as I’m mainly a gaming blog.

7) Most Pride-Worthy Piece: Thankfully my most pride worthy was also a popular one! I really worked hard on my Top 100 Games ever articles.

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PART THREE:

Pass the award on to seven other bloggers: some of these guys haven’t blogged in a while so I’m hoping this might give them a little kick start 🙂

1) Beyond The D-Pad

2) Stacey Storey

3) renxkyoko’s space

4) What Now?

5) That’s Just Me

6) Liam’s Lions Outlook

7) Action Flick Chick.

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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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Most Wanted 2011/12

While we currently sit in the traditional summer games void, it won’t be long until things start ramping up.

So I thought it was time to take a look at what titles are coming along in the near future and what games have caught my eye.

Kicking things off in just over 3 weeks (August 26th) is Deus Ex: Human Revolution…

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DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION

The original Deus Ex was a great game and while I missed the other titles in the series it finally arrives on next gen consoles in the form of Human Revolution – a prequel to the first game. You take on the role of Adam Jensen and will be using a mix of stealth and more direct measures to take the fight to Sarif Industries… your former employers. With augmentation upgrades aplenty and lots of scope for choosing how to approach situations this is definitely one to watch.

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UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE’S DECEPTION

While we had a (most enjoyable) bit of time with the multiplayer beta, the single player of Uncharted has always been it’s selling point. This entry in the series is no different. If you haven’t already, check out the trailer above for an idea of what Drake will be facing this time around as he sets off on another adventure with Sully in tow. With a hugely improved multiplayer and proven track record of single player excellence, Uncharted 3 is a must buy for every PS3 owner this November.

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RAGE

Rage has been on the radar for a while now and this post apocalyptic slice of fiction is shaping up quite nicely. It’s a first person shooter with some third person driving thrown in for good measure. It’s running a new game engine called id Tech 5 which allows it to shine graphically. It’ll be interesting to see if this one can live up to the hype – at the moment the gaming community seems to be evenly split between optimism and pessimism.

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HITMAN ABSOLUTION

It seems like an age ago that we last stepped into the shoes of Agent 47 and carried out some well prepared sneaky assassinations/got caught and shot the place up ( delete as appropriate 😆 ). Last time out was on the PS2 and so the balding hitman is preparing to make his PS3 bow. From the trailer above it seems Agent 47 is more deadly than ever.

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GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER

Future Soldier caught a lot of flak at E3 after what was deemed a lacklustre demo and the game has been pushed back once again. For me personally I liked the look of it. It didn’t blow me away but it reminded me of SOCOM, a solid game I thoroughly enjoyed – so this is one I’ll be keeping an eye on.

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BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY

Arkham Asylum was such a great game that any follow up would have to bear close scrutiny but it appears, based on the opinions of people that have seen it in action, that Arkham City has pulled it off. Moving the action to a bigger, city setting and giving the player a lot more freedom means that this could be a massive step forward for the series. Rocksteady have also added a cast of villains this time, as well as Catwoman and the rumoured Robin as allies to Batman.

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TWISTED METAL

NB. This footage is filmed off of a TV so obviously the game itself will look a lot cleaner in reality.

Twisted Metal is one of those franchises that people either love or hate. I’m in the love camp, having spent hours playing the original on PSOne back in the day. This game looks pretty dark and the sinister vibe gives it a nice edge but this is all about the driving. Some of the arenas look huge and if the online take up is decent Twisted Metal could be absolutely awesome.

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RESISTANCE 3

Another of Sony’s flagship brands, Resistance 3 may not have the graphical prowess of a Killzone or Uncharted but it makes up for it where it counts… gameplay. The insane but well designed weaponry lends itself perfectly to an alternative time line, in which an alien invasion has seen Earth overrun by a species called the Chimera. If you haven’t played the first two games they are currently available as a double pack – well worth investing in to catch up on the story.

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MASS EFFECT 3

Mass Effect 2 was a stellar title and has to be among the front runners for Game Of The Year. Telling the story of Commander Shepard, the game had an overall story arc but you were in control of the character’s main actions and decisions. Decisions which could skew the game in a number of ways. Mass Effect 3 looks to continue this space set drama and with the invasion of Earth as the back drop, it looks like it could be one not to miss.

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BIOSHOCK INFINITE

After creating the original Bioshock, Ken Levine and his team set to work on the prequel – handing duties on Bioshock 2 to a group of the 2k studios (who did a decent job in my opinion). Bioshock Infinite is that game. With the other Bioshock games set underwater in the city of Rapture, Infinite takes to the skies and the flying city of Columbia. You play as Booker DeWitt, an agent sent to rescue Elizabeth – a mysterious girl with special powers who is being held against her will. This won so many awards at E3 I suspect Irrational Games may need a new office building just to house them all.

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BATTLEFIELD 3

Not sure what more needs to said about Battlefield 3. It looks stunning on PS3, it has a single player campaign and the multiplayer boasts a heap of improvements over Bad Company 2. Widely regarded as the game that could break Call Of Duty’s annual dominance (it won’t – but I suspect it’ll put a healthy dent into it), Battlefield 3 is shaping up to be the best first person shooter on the market.

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OVERSTRIKE

Overstrike comes from the makers of the Resistance series (see above) and looks like a whole heap of fun. Hopefully they can transfer the fun weapons from Resistance into this world and it seems co-op will play a big part as well. Overstrike looks to have a good sense of humour and it’ll be nice to have a game lighter in tone to get stuck into.

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PAYDAY: THE HEIST

This is a PSN download title that has really impressed me. Sure it looks a little rough around the edges in places but a co-op game where you have the opportunity to do a bit of planning for the heist beforehand? Hell yeah! Little touches like being able to tell hostages to get down or tying them up to restrain them seems cool so hopefully Payday: The Heist won’t disappoint.

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UNCHARTED: GOLDEN ABYSS (PS VITA)

I can’t wait for the Vita to arrive (although it seems I’ll have to, as the confirmation arrived today that 2012 will be the release date for Europe) and I think the above video speaks for itself. Check out those graphics! Thankfully the touch based stuff can be avoided by just using the control stick and X so we aren’t being railroaded into all that. The game is a prequel to the original Uncharted game and I am very interested to fill in some back story on all the characters and universe.

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ASSASSIN’S CREED: REVELATIONS

A lot of people are beginning to suffer Assassin’s Creed burnout, what with Revelations being the third game in three years. I’m looking forward to seeing Ezio’s trilogy come to a close and finding out how that leaves the franchise. It’s certainly time for a different assassin but one last swan song is the least Ezio deserves. It looks like Ubisoft are tightening up the multiplayer as well, so Revelations could end up being a very attractive package indeed.

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ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM

I’m not big into my fantasy games, although I enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins, but Skyrim is a game that makes you sit up and take notice. A vast world to explore and rumours of hundreds of hours of gameplay have many RPG fans drooling already. It’s not a day one purchase for me but it’s definitely a game I’m looking forward to trying out.

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DUST 514

I haven’t heard of EVE Online – the PC game that this title ties into – but the trailer above caught my eye and I think this could be a decent little shooter. Early days as the above is all we have to go on but this is one I’ll be watching keenly. Hopefully we’ll have some more info soon.

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STARHAWK

Unfortunately Warhawk completely passed me by as I wasn’t online when it came out and none of my friends owned it, so it sank into the abyss. Which is a shame as by all accounts it’s a great game. Starhawk is the follow up and promises more multiplayer mayhem (as well as a single player campaign, which is a first for the series). They have added in some elements of tower defense. I’m intrigued to see how this ends up playing.

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ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES

Ah Colonial Marines. Promised so many times and *finally* it appears you may be on the horizon. Gearbox is a great games studio with a good rep, which means this could be the stand out Aliens title we have all been waiting for. As you’d expect you’re a bunch of marines investigating a potential problem which turns out to be alien based. The pressure is on and I’m hopeful Gearbox can deliver.

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So there we go – have I missed anything else that you guys are looking forward to?

Let me know!

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

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

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

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PART ONE (50-41)

PART TWO (40-31)

PART THREE (30-21)

PART FOUR (20-11)

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

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10. BIOSHOCK (8)

Bioshock has a great story to tell and it does it well with some interesting objectives and brilliantly designed levels.

There are several twists and turns in the plot, most of which are not obvious and it’s no surprise to me that a film version is in the works (although I believe currently suspended due to budget concerns).

Dark worlds like Rapture aren’t to everyone’s tastes but you really would be missing out on an awesome story if you decided not to book a trip to the underwater city.

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9. GRAND THEFT AUTO IV (7)

One the biggest selling games of this generation GTA IV features the fortunes (and lack therof) of Niko Bellic – an immigrant arriving in the US at Liberty City to find empty promises and broken dreams from his cousin Roman.

As you work your way up the criminal ladder you’ll encounter all sort of dodgy characters and befriend even more.

Liberty City is a wonderful, if run down, place and Niko Bellic’s story is one you will enjoy playing through so make sure you pick this game up as soon as possible.

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8. MASS EFFECT 2 (NE)

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

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

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

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7. FALLOUT 3 (6)

After a tough few hours at the start you will find yourself rewarded greatly for sticking with this awesome FPS / RPG.

The story line sprawls across the world depending on your actions and you’ll find yourself taking a break from main missions to explore the wasteland or help out other characters.

I could go on and on about various things that happened and how cool it was, how great the story was or whatever.

But Fallout 3 is a game that needs to be experienced first hand and your story will no doubt play out differently to mine.

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6. METAL GEAR SOLID 4 (5)

Hideo Kojima’s tale of Solid Snake’s final mission is a brilliant showcase of the Playstation 3′s power.

This is a game that often gives you three or four different ways of approaching things – whether you realise it or not.

Metal Gear Solid 4 rewards those patient enough to stick with it by giving them a great gaming experience, with some memorable boss battles, that they won’t forget.

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5. HEAVY RAIN (4)

Heavy Rain is the spiritual successor to Fahrenheit, a fantastic PS2 title, and it’s creators have used the lessons from that game to help form the experience that is Heavy Rain.

And I say experience because Heavy Rain is unlike anything I’ve played before.

Telling the story of the Origami Killer, who kidnaps young boys and drowns them in rain water, Heavy Rain sees you controlling four main characters and through their actions – whether everyday stuff like carrying in the shopping or a frantic fight for their life – you get a real feel for the characters.

It says a lot that as soon as I finished this game I wanted to play through it again straight away. I want to give the characters a slightly different personality, experiment to see what happens and find out how it changes the story.

Heavy Rain is by no means perfect but it brings a whole raft of new ideas and innovation to the table.

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4. DEAD SPACE (3)

Coming on somewhere between Event Horizon and Aliens, Dead Space is a third person survival horror game.

You take on the role of Isaac Clarke, a ship engineer who finds himself trapped onboard a stricken spaceship infested with an alien outbreak which is threatening to take over the ship.

This was one of the best games I played in the year it was released and it’s use of sound is immense. The fear of the unexpected they create is awesome.

I am not a big fan of horror movies or being made to jump all the time but Dead Space kept on the right side of all that by being unpredictable enough to be enjoyable as a ‘horror’ experience.

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3. UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE (2)

Uncharted maps the journey of Nathan Drake as he tries to find the lost treasure of El Dorado encountering, among other things, rival treasure hunters and mercenaries.

The graphics are unbelievable and the gameplay is well paced and well thought out. The characters and story and really well conceived and Nolan North, who voices Drake, is absolutely spot on with his irreverent humour and wisecracks.

At its heart Uncharted is an action adventure game much in the vein of Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider but, and I say this as a fan of both of these, it is better than either of them.

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2.  UNCHARTED: AMONG THIEVES (1)

Uncharted 2 is a complete gaming package. There is plenty of taking out bad guys, lots of puzzles and some wonderful dialogue.

Naughty Dog really have done a great job on the voice acting and the expressiveness of the character models. It is easily the best I’ve come across (though Heavenly Sword was a close second).

I won’t spoil the story but for those who don’t know, Nathan Drake gets pulled back into that murky world of treasure hunting for hire. I loved the story of this game – with a few twists I saw coming and a few I didn’t.

If you own a PS3 there is no reason not to own this game – if you only have an XBox 360 or Wii then get yourself a PS3 Slim and enjoy one of the most finely crafted games I’ve ever experienced.

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1. RED DEAD REDEMPTION (NE)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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