Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Review (PS3)

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Ok before we get started, in the interests of full disclosure I must state I didn’t (or more accurately couldn’t) finish Metal Gear Rising. I made my way through 99% of it but after 90 minutes of trying I admitted defeat on the final boss.

Set 4 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, Rising sees you take control of Raiden once more – though he has changed somewhat since the Metal Gear Solid 2 days 🙂

The most glaring difference, as seen during some cut scenes in MGS4, is that Raiden is now mostly machine – a cyborg, fitted with an exoskeleton and lots of nice weaponry just waiting to be upgraded.

Metal Gear Rising is not a stealth game like previous Metal Gear Solid titles – the few stealth sections in Rising feel a bit out of place in my opinion. This is a game all about destroying your enemy rather than avoiding them. And you have lots of ways to dispatch your foes.

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Raiden’s main weapon is a katana which he can use to slice up his opponents, especially satisfying during ‘blade mode’, where time slows down and you use the right analogue stick to swipe your sword through any other cyborg in your way. It can also be a big help – a red box will appear on enemies while in blade mode, hit it with your katana and nail the circle button prompt to absorb your foes’ energy – refilling your life bar.

You can also parry enemy attacks by pressing square and pushing the left stick in the direction of the attack. Enemies give off a red light before they attack but unfortunately that doesn’t indicate when to parry, just that they are going to attack.

It makes it overly difficult to judge attacks and from what I understand on easy you only have to press square to parry, which sounds like a better option for these lower (easy/normal) difficulty settings. It just meant more frustration for me as I could parry some attacks but not others. I felt Platinum Games nailed the parry/attack mechanics in Bayonetta and Vanquish so it’s disappointing to see what they’ve delivered for Rising.

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Couple this with some big difficulty spikes and it’s a recipe for trouble. When you’re having to spend almost two hours fighting the same guy (Hi Monsoon *waves*), even if it is over two battles, on Normal difficulty then I feel the game is doing something wrong.

Graphically the game looks a little rough around the edges at times and I noticed a distinct stutter and frame rate drop during some of the scripted Codec calls. However the cutting in blade mode is stunning and it’s amazing to see your damage rendered in real time.

The story is focussed around PMCs (Private Military Companies) and how they benefit from war, or even just the threat of war. Raiden uncovers a sinister plot that one of the PMCs is carrying out and vows to stop them. It’s not really anything spectacular but serves as a nice back drop while you’re chopping up cyborg soldiers and massive robots.

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There is little mention of Raiden’s past (beyond him being a child soldier) or much else linking back to other Metal Gear games but there are a few things fans of the series will pick up on and the return of one character in particular had me smiling.

As I said at the outset of this review I didn’t actually finish the game. I was stuck on the last boss and sadly Metal Gear Rising doesn’t give you the option of changing the difficulty at all. I can’t remember the last time I failed to make it through a story-based game. I sunk a lot of time into that last boss and wasn’t making any progress at all so decided that my time could be better spent elsewhere.

It would’ve been nice to have had some middle ground with the option to drop the difficulty down while playing bits you were having trouble with. It’s the lack of flexibility that killed the game for me. I do like challenging games but being stuck on the same boss/area for an hour at a time isn’t fun. While some people might get off on finally beating that part, I just felt drained.

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And to be honest that kind of typifies my experience with Metal Gear Rising. For the majority of the game I was comfortable, in control and having fun. Then I would hit a crazy difficulty spike and just end up frustrated. My advice, unless you love a hugely challenging experience, would be to just play this through on Easy first time out and enjoy the ride. Rising is a fun and over the top action game, I just didn’t enjoy playing it.

Rating 6/10

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PES2011 v FIFA 11 (PS3)

 

The perennial battle for football dominance in the gaming marketplace has kicked off with both FIFA and PES releasing their latest iterations last month.

Regular readers of my blog will know that after a decade of PES I switched to FIFA last year and have not regretted the decision.

So how do the two compare this year? Here’s a breakdown of areas so we can see them side by side:

GRAPHICS

                                                                                    PES 2011 really does shine graphically.

Graphically PES takes this one. While FIFA11 is an improvement on last year’s FIFA title, Pro Evolution definitely trumps it in the looks department.

TACKLING

A fairly even one here, with both games giving you the ability to slide or block tackle and both games doing it well.

SHOOTING

                                                                                   FIFA 11’s numerous goal celebrations always raise a smile… for the scorer at least.

Both games have similar shooting mechanics and it’s possible to score some great goals in both games. I feel FIFA’s shooting has been refined nicely and PES’ has been improved on since the last game.

PASSING

FIFA11 starts to come into its own as you delve into the deeper gameplay aspects. Passing is superb and you truly do have full control over where the ball goes. In PES they have finally introduced a power bar for through balls and given you more control but it doesn’t quite match up to FIFA’s freedom.

AI

Sadly AI is where PES falls down completely. Players not making runs (or worse starting one then stopping just as you’ve passed it to them) and defenders standing redundant as attackers breeze past are just two of the problems. The goalkeepers in particular are still a bit unpredictable and while FIFA’s AI isn’t perfect it is certainly believable.

OVERALL GAMEPLAY

 

                                                                                FIFA retains it’s title as king of the football games for another year.

Overall then FIFA11 just feels like a better game, the range of freedom is too great to dismiss. It’s not perfect but it is one of the best football games I’ve ever played. PES 2011 is the game 2008 should’ve been. This is essentially the first proper ‘next gen’ PES. An overhaul was needed and that’s what PES got – now they need to tweak the formula. I suspect next year will be the closest battle between these two for a while but currently FIFA retains the crown as king of the football games.

FINAL RATINGS

PES 2011 – 7/10
FIFA 11 – 9/10

So big strides forward this year for PES but not enough to close the gap completely on FIFA. Next year should certainly be interesting though, especially if PES continues to improve over the next 12 months.

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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker – Review (PSP)

 

Peace Walker is set in 1974 in Central America with Naked Snake returning – this time running a mercenary group called the Militaires Sans Frontières (MSF).

It’s a similar scenario story-wise, track down the latest Metal Gear iteration and destroy it before the bad guys have a chance to launch a nuclear attack.

You can recruit enemy soldiers and volunteers to help in the ‘fight’ and apart from coming on actual missions with you, they can also research new weapons/items or be sent on covert ops of their own to earn you cash.

The control system has been revamped from Portable Ops and it’s definitely an improvement but the sooner a PSP arrives with two analogue sticks the better – Peace Walker is around the 15 hour mark in length and there is only so much PSP Claw one man can take 🙂

Gameplay-wise there are options for both stealth and direct action, though stealth will almost always see you through sections quicker because no back up arrives!

One new addition is the Fulton Recovery System, which is most welcome. In previous titles to recruit enemy soldiers you’d need to physically drag their unconscious bodies back to a truck at the beginning of the level and dump them in there.

While realistic it meant if you wanted to recruit you’d spent ages dragging each soldier back. Now you attach them to the Fulton, which inflates and carries them up into the sky from whatever position they are in. Totally unrealistic but for once an instance where that is completely cool with me. 😆

Peace Walker isn’t without it’s flaws though. Some of the boss battles were ridiculously lengthy and occasionally the controls did get in the way of the experience. The AI on some of the enemies was pretty questionable – although the same could be said of many Metal Gear titles.

Graphically I’d say this is above PS2 quality, though without viewing them side by side I suppose it’s tough to judge properly.

As I mentioned above Peace Walker is a full game, with a run time that would put plenty of Playstation 3 titles to shame. The story is as convoluted as ever, especially with Hideo Kojima at the helm, but that is part of the Metal Gear charm for me.

If you like Metal Gear or are just looking for a meaty game to get stuck into on your PSP then Peace Walker could be for you. Despite it’s flaws this is one of the most impressive feats ever seen on the PSP.

Rating: 9/10

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PES 2011: Bouncebackability?

After a few years of disappointment, with titles recycling the same animations and commentary, I switched from PES to FIFA.

I documented the change at the time in several blogs, here and here. It was not a switch made with a light heart – after a decade with PES I’d lost heart and FIFA had essentially caught up.

Looking at the latest released gameplay trailer for PES 2011 it seems a lot of the problems I’d had with the game have now been rectified. Check it out:

The issues I had with the game were as follows:

– The computer deciding where I should pass instead of letting me do what I want.

– No control over the through balls.

– Poor, poor goalkeeper AI (repeatedly just pushing the ball into the path of the oncoming striker etc.)

– Bad referee AI

– same animations as last few versions

– The commentary

If they can fix these then perhaps a return to former glories is on the cards.

Now until we have a chance to actually play it I’ll be reserving judgement but the intial signs are very promising and with rumours of an online Master League (Linkage) also making an appearance might my defection to EA’s juggernaught be short lived?

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The Sudden Decline Of Pro Evolution Soccer

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My experience with PES started on the PS2, with Pro Evolution Soccer, hence why my chart of the series begins here.

I’ve given these games ratings out of 100 from my experience so you can get a clearer image of my opinion.

As you can see the initial high standard was maintained throughout the PS2 years, with some games obviously more favorable than others. (Down to personal opinion).

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It seems to have been the move to next gen that has caused the most problems.

PES 2008 was, quite frankly, a disgrace. As next gen bows go it was a shocker.

The graphics obviously looked a bit better than the PS2 ones but they weren’t really stretching the PS3.

The game stuttered and shook, particularly on replays.

And the gameplay was ok but didn’t seem to have improved that much.

The online was the worst I’ve EVER experienced in a game. Some of it was unplayable. Meanwhile FIFA’s games were running, for the majority, smoothly.

We were promised changes for PES 2009 and we sort of got them – the problem being PES 2009 was the game PES 2008 should’ve been.

It left PES a year behind and allowed FIFA to close the gap.

PES 2009’s online was better than 2008 and the gameplay was much improved but I have no inclination to play a Master League (Career Mode) – I’ve played one on every other version (even PES 2008).

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Yes there is Be A Legend Mode which is pretty cool (and hopefully will be updated and improved for the next installment) but the major faux pas for me is giving the player 20 blank teams to create but not letting them use them in solo game modes! What. The. Hell? 😡

I played FIFA 2009 and I found it to be a little slow and lacking in control of players, however it was easily the best FIFA game I’ve played since the turn of the Millenium.

I have faith in Konami. I think they lost their way and the one glimmer of hope is that there was a (small) incline at the end of the graph.

They really do need to nail PES 2010 though otherwise it might be time for me to end almost a decade of PES and switch to FIFA.

PES Through The Years…

Wow, that was certainly a trip down memory lane.

Just on my way home from the Konami 40th Birthday Celebration at Centre Point in London.

The evening focused on Pro Evolution Soccer and how the game has developed and improved since the early days of PES (back on the SNES).

They had various iterations of the game on different consoles.

First up we sampled the SNES version. This was a tough one to control and the shooting wasn’t great.

Tackling wasn’t too bad and the passing was fairly accurate but the shooting was where we were struggling and a lot of the goals came from the keeper spilling a save and the forward sliding the ball home.

The graphics were true 16Bit – really took me back and while the controls were different enough to keep us on our toes I managed an 8-0 victory 😀

Next up we tried the new Nintendo Wii version of PES 2009.

You use the stick on the controler to move your player, the nunchuck to direct where you want to pass and a shake of the controller to shoot. It’s all a little bit complex and there is a hell of a lot going on on screen.

I’m sure with more perseverance it would get easier and it was quite nice to have total control over the play. This one finished 1-1.

Then we headed over to the first PS2 version ‘Pro Evolution Soccer.’

This was more like it but first impressions were “whoa! How fast is this?!” I played a fair bit of this game and certainly don’t remember it being so quick.

The passing was very unresponsive, often not kicking the ball until a good second or two after you’d pressed the button.

We went for a Euro XI vs World XI which was a close game as both teams were so good – managed to squeeze a 1-0 victory and got the same result again in the next game; Germany vs Uruguay. Felt a bit bad as was the better @shandation team in the 2nd game by a mile but succombed to the German counter attack. 😆

Our final stop took us all the way back to the N64.

This was easily the worst of the versions we played – didn’t help that the graphics looked even worse than they should as it was on a big HD TV.

It was hard to tackle, hard to shoot and we had no idea how to change player.

Dribbling was easy and fun (a little too easy at times, although they may have been us jumping into challenges 😀 )

It turned into a bit of a goalfest and I ran out as the winner with a final score of 10-3 to round off the evening in style 😎

It was great fun to revisit the older versions of the game, especially as I no longer own any of them.

 

Playing the previous games in the series really made you appreciate just how good the latest PES title is, even with the faults it does have.

Hopefully football titles can continue to evolve and improve with each version. FIFA has made great strides to make up ground on PES.

I used to play FIFA from the first game in ’94 right through to 2001 when I discovered PES. It’s been PES all the way since then but I am looking forward to seeing what both titles bring to the table this year.

Could FIFA 2010 really tempt me away from PES? We’ll have to wait and see.

For now I’m basking in the warm glow of nostaglia and enjoying reminiscing about great times had hunched over a control pad playing Pro Evolution Soccer.