GregHorrorShow: Game Awards 2013

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Well what a year it’s been for gaming! With the arrival of new consoles in the Autumn we were left wondering whether the support would still be there for the PS3 and if you needed convincing you only had to look at The Last Of Us, Beyond: Two Souls and Gran Turismo 6 to see there is life in the old dog yet.

As the PS4 didn’t arrive until November 29th (and I didn’t receive mine until early December) nothing for that platform will be eligible for this year’s awards (as they run November to November). Also there were a few games I held off of so I could get the superior PS4 version, namely Assassin’s Creed IV and Battlefield 4, so they also won’t feature.

We start with a new award, that recognizes the fact that I simply can’t play every game within the year. The ‘Missed Gem’ award goes to a game from the previous year that I didn’t play until this year but feel would’ve warranted a mention last time out if I had played it in time.

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MISSED GEM OF 2012

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WINNER: Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead (Season 1)

Everyone has rightfully raved about The Walking Dead. I’m one of them (check out my review) and I can safely say it was a fantastic experience. It’s a point and click adventure game, which wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea but the story here is soooo good. Highly recommended.

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

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Winner: Grand Theft Auto V (Multi Character Selection)

GTA V was a trend setter in many ways but one of the most impressive aspects of the game was the way you could switch between the main characters at will. With a button press you would be pulled to an overhead view of the map, moved across to wherever the other character was and then plonked down to them. This in itself isn’t a completely original idea, Driver: San Francisco had a similar mechanic that allowed you to swap between vehicles. The difference here are the little character vignettes when you land with a new character; Franklin pulling his friend away from a fight, Michael finishing a coffee and tossing the cup away or Trevor… well God knows what Trevor will be doing! This small touch gives you a real feeling that the world of GTA V is continuing around you at all times. It’s a very nice mechanic.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Crysis 3 (Multiplayer Highlights)
  • Bioshock Infinite (Skyhooks)
  • Metal Gear Rising (Precision Cutting)

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

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WINNER: Mass Effect 3: Citadel

The ending of Mass Effect 3 left a bad taste in many people’s mouths, even with the update Bioware released. If that was the case for you, or if you just loved the game/series then give the Citadel DLC a spin. This is the ‘Christmas Special’ of Mass Effect, a set of side missions that see you fighting off enemies, carrying out a heist and planning a party for your crew… Yes, that’s right organizing and hosting a party 🙂 It. Is. Awesome. And great fan service. The Walking Dead: 400 Days also deserves a mention as it carried on with the hard choices of season 1 straight off the bat, even if the characters were new. Soul Sacrifice on Vita was supported with a ridiculous amount of free DLC post launch which was all really cool so make sure you check that out as well.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Battlefield 3 – End Game
  • The Walking Dead – 400 Days
  • Soul Sacrifice – Various Free DLC Packs

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BEST DOWNLOAD ONLY GAME

Hotline Miami 1

WINNER: Hotline Miami (Vita)

Enough people were raving about it on PC last year but 2013 was the year I finally got my hands on Hotline Miami – the super fast, super violent and super challenging top down kill fest. I absolutely loved this game and don’t know anyone who played it that didn’t get hooked. The Vita version looks super crisp and the soundtrack is awesome. Most of the games in this category I played on Vita (though all of these were on PS3 as well) with some great titles like Guacamelee, Thomas Was Alone and Lone Survivor. Another pleasant surprise was Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – it had Robocop’s gun in it! ROBOCOP’S GUN!! 🙂

RUNNERS UP:

  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
  • Guacamelee (Vita)
  • Thomas Was Alone (Vita)

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2014

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WINNER: Infamous: Second Son

Well, the clear winner for this in my eyes was Cyberpunk 2077 but it turns out that isn’t arriving until 2015 so I had to have a rethink! A new Uncharted has me interested but so little is known about it at this stage, same goes for Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. The Witcher 3 and The Order: 1886 are definitely on my radar and No Man’s Sky looked awesome at VGX earlier this month. For me, at the moment, it has to be Infamous: Second Son. The game looks so damn good up close (I wasn’t allowed to play it but watched a hands off level playthrough) I could barely believe it. I’m hyped for this one, roll on March.

RUNNERS UP:

  • The Witcher 3
  • The Order: 1886
  • No Man’s Sky

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BEST GAME TRAILER

*Warning Contains Strong Language*

WINNER: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

I’m not sure I need many words here, as someone who grew up in the 1980’s… just watch the Blood Dragon trailer to see why it won 🙂 GTA always has great trailers and the below is no exception, super use of music as well. Love this Last Of Us one, not always a fan of live action stuff but this is clever. And Killzone always looks amazing, Shadow Fall is no different.

RUNNERS UP:

GTA V

Last Of Us

Killzone Shadow Fall

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BEST PS VITA GAME

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WINNER: Persona 4 The Golden

If you’d told me a year ago that a Japanese RPG would win my Vita Game Of The Year in a year when a Killzone title came to Vita, I would’ve called you a liar. I haven’t really ever played a JRPG before but then again Persona 4: The Golden isn’t like other JRPG’s. Like The Walking Dead this is a game all about your relationships with characters (Oh Chie) and P4G grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go. Don’t let the fact Killzone: Mercenary didn’t pick up GOTY deter you from grabbing it if you have a Vita – it’s the best handheld shooter ever made. Soul Sacrifice was another title I might not have played on a home console but it just seems like a great fit on Vita and it’s really fun in short bursts. Tearaway was a beautiful game that put you in a superbly realized papercraft world and utilised all of the best Vita features. A charming game.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Soul Sacrifice
  • Tearaway
  • Killzone: Mercenary

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BEST GRAPHICS

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WINNER: Beyond: Two Souls

It was a pretty close run race in this category with four superb looking games. The Last Of Us probably came closest to nabbing this with it’s fully realized, if grim, world and characters but while the animation of Beyond: Two Souls might’ve been off at times, graphically the game was stunning. Especially impressive considering they were using actors that people recognize and could more easily spot any faults. Also the fire/flame effects were majorly impressive. Los Santos in GTA V was such a wonder to look at sometimes I would just stop and admire the view – I can’t wait to see what Rockstar deliver on PS4. And while it was stylized, Bioshock Infinite created a beautiful world in Columbia and then filled it with dark, interesting people. Definitely a world to be explored and experienced.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Bioshock Infinite
  • GTA V
  • The Last Of Us

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BEST STORYLINE

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WINNER: Bioshock Infinite

There have been some great stories to play through this year and again The Last Of Us came very close to taking this award but this year’s winner is Bioshock Infinite. A title that had me guessing throughout and while I thought I had the twist sussed it turned out to be one of many that, by the time the credits rolled, left me reeling. As I uncovered more and more clues while playing through it was satisfying to put the pieces together. I thought Crystal Dynamics did a great job with the Tomb Raider reboot but the story was strongest in those opening few hours and fell away a bit beyond that. Those few hours though… what a ride. DmC was one of my more pleasant surprises this year (all round in fact) and I enjoyed the game’s story of greed and corruption and thought the world they’d created was very fleshed out.

RUNNERS UP:

  • The Last Of Us
  • Tomb Raider
  • DmC

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

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WINNER: Persona 4: The Golden (Vita)

This was a really difficult category to decide on – all four of these are great scores that you should definitely check out. GTA V was the surprise for me as I didn’t expect the score to be so awesome and well suited to the heist aspect of the game. The Last Of Us and Bioshock Infinite were more subtle but packed a big punch when necessary. However the award goes to Persona 4: The Golden for it’s crazy, fun and memorable score, which includes a few songs written for the game that are used during battles. There were plenty of other great scores worth checking out from this year, I’d also recommend Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Beyond: Two Souls.

RUNNERS UP:

  • GTA V
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • The Last Of Us

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

Hotline Miami 3

WINNER: Hotline Miami (Vita)

I mentioned Hotline Miami last year because I’d heard the soundtrack but hadn’t played the game. Nothing can quite prepare you for what is one of the most powerful collections of tracks in gaming. The songs here perfectly capture the feel of the game and lend a kind of hypnotic vibe to proceedings. Absolutely brilliant. The Grand Theft Auto games always have stellar licensed material and GTA V is no different, featuring great songs across lots of different radio stations. Bioshock Infinite‘s use of tears to play songs was inspired, especially as it also featured ‘Columbia’ versions of them all in game as well. And Far Cry 3, well that M.I.A use was brilliant and the Skrillex track fitted so well with the mission it was used on – just good solid choices.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Far Cry 3
  • GTA V
  • Bioshock Infinite

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BEST VOICE ACTING

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WINNER: The Last Of Us

This was another tough category this year as so many games delivered massive performances in terms of acting. The Last Of Us though is a deserving winner, with Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson bringing most to the table with solid support from, among others, Nolan North. Baker delivered another fantastic performance as Booker DeWitt in Bioshock Infinite alongside the excellent Courtnee Draper. Steven Ogg as Trevor gets GTA V a mention just on his own and alongside his other cast members helped to make our stay in Los Santos a memorable one. I suppose when you hire big name actors like Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe you expect big things but as we’ve seen in the past bringing Hollywood to games doesn’t always work out. Luckily for us with Beyond: Two Souls it did this time and Page’s delivery and commitment to the role added real depth to her character Jodie Holmes.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Bioshock Infinite
  • GTA V
  • Beyond: Two Souls

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: The Last Of Us

The Last Of Us is one of those games that has to be played to be believed. Titles such as Uncharted 2 and Journey carry the same gravitas and The Last Of Us can be added to that list of games that anyone with a PS3 should play. The journey of Ellie and Joel during the game is astounding and the world is a brutal, beautiful place to (carefully) explore. The Clickers were hideous enemies and the fact they could kill you in one hit just made things worse. Everything works here – the scarcity of ammo/supplies, the confined spaces you’d find yourself in and also little touches like finding the after effects of horrific events and finding out the mini storylines contained within. While GTA V and Persona 4: The Golden are totally different styles of game I stuck almost 60 hours into each of their single player offerings this year, which is a testament to their quality. And while the combat did drag at times in Bioshock Infinite, overall it was just such a great game that you can’t do anything but recommend it.

RUNNERS UP:

  • GTA V
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Persona 4 The Golden (Vita)

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: GTA Online

It says a lot about the opening 6 months of 2013 that during that time my most played online games were Killzone 3 (2011), Mass Effect 3 (2012) and Battlefield 3 (2011). The one new thing I played in this time was Far Cry 3, which had a nice co-op online mode and handled really well, in terms of feel of weapons etc. Then June hit and The Last Of Us arrived, with it’s new and fresh idea of what multiplayer could be. Run and gun was out, scavenge and hide was in. I had some very tense rounds of this immensely underrated online offering. Killzone: Mercenary offered Vita owners a glimpse of what an FPS title could do online and it was very fun, despite a few issues with spawn point locations. But the award this year goes to GTA Online. Finally released in October it was… well, broken to be honest. But now that it’s (mainly) fixed it is an absolute blast. Whether doing scripted missions or just messing about with friends it has been some of my most memorable online gaming in the last few years.

RUNNERS UP:

  • The Last Of Us
  • Far Cry 3
  • Killzone Mercenary (Vita)

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GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: The Last Of Us

The Last Of Us takes this year’s award – a combination of it’s superlative single player and fantastic online offering is more than enough to justify it’s win. All four nominees are outrageously great games and well worth playing. Bioshock Infinite‘s mix of bright, vibrant colours, stylised graphics and dark, sinister undercurrent make for a compelling game and while Persona 4: The Golden shares some characteristics with Irrational Game’s title it also has a wealth of depth that left me stunned. In GTA V Rockstar have created a living, breathing love/hate letter to L.A that will keep you gripped and amazed both online and offline.

RUNNERS UP:

  • GTA V
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Persona 4 The Golden (Vita)

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So there you have it!

There were plenty of other decent games that didn’t get nominated but I’d still recommend. Titles like Call Of Juarez: Gunslinger, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Rain and Puppeteer to name a few.

It’s also been a good year for Vita owners with titles like Retro City Rampage, Guacamelee, Hotline Miami, Thomas Was Alone, Stealth Inc., Lone Survivor and Spluenky making the jump over, along with exclusives like Persona 4 : The Golden, Soul Sacrifice, Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway. It was nice to see a Vita game crack the nominees list for Game Of The Year for the first time as well.

So what have you guys been playing? What have I missed? What was your favourite game this year?

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Top 100 Single Player PS3 Games: Part 5 (60-51)

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Well we’re fast approaching the Top 50 and there are still plenty of great games to come.

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)

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

Let’s kick off Part Five!

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60. Dishonored

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Dishonored puts you in the shoes of Corvo – Royal Protector (Bodyguard) of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin. You arrive back from a trip abroad investigating potential cures for the plague that is ravaging your city, only to find yourself framed for the murder of the Empress and thrown in jail. As you escape, try to clear your name and find Emily, the Empress’ daughter, you’ll take on the role of assassin rather than protector.

Dishonored looked like being one of the freshest, inventive games of the year – unfortunately the design choice of not allowing you to unlock more on your first playthrough hinders things somewhat. It’s a good, solid, rewarding experience but I was just left feeling it could’ve been so much more.

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59. SOCOM 4

In SOCOM 4 you take on the role of Cullen Gray, a Spec Ops Commander and leader of a 5-man NATO special forces squad. Your team is dropped into Malaysia to help deal with the rising threat of both local rebels, the Naga, and a mercenary group called Clawhammer.

While the story is standard Spec Ops fare I found most of the characters likable and it was one of the more enjoyable stories I played through in 2011.

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58. Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 takes place after the conclusion of events in the Mass Effect 2 DLC expansion ‘Arrival’ and now that the Reaper threat is real and imminent Shepard finds herself reinstated and back on active duty.

Your decisions from the previous game carry over and any casualties your crew sustained are also mirrored here. So it’s a similar set up to before as you go about the galaxy recruiting your new crew and trying to do your best to prepare for the upcoming fight against the Reapers.

Whilst the ending proved to be controversial for some (me included for some aspects) this game was definitely still worth playing through.

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57. Max Payne 3

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The third instalment of Max Payne sees Max at rock bottom – drunk and addicted to painkillers while working as low rent security for a wealthy Brazilian family down in South America. As you can imagine things go wrong quickly and Max is left trying to pick up the pieces while fighting his own demons.

Graphically the game looks fantastic, taking in various different areas/scenes as Max’s adventure continues. Some wonderful use of bright colours really makes a difference and reminded me at times of the Uncharted series.

When Max Payne 3 flows it is a wonderful, gritty, dark yet vibrant gaming experience. Unfortunately it doesn’t always flow. I was expecting big things from this game and Rockstar have delivered for the most part but some minor niggles along the way mean Max Payne 3 doesn’t quite hit the heights I’d been hoping for.

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56. Battlefield: Bad Company

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

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

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55. Prototype

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

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

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

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54. Bioshock 2

Bioshock 2 brings you back 8 years after the events of the first game (1968) to take control of a Big Daddy who has no memory of the last decade and wants to find the Little Sister he was originally paired with.

A sequel to such a unique title was always going to be tricky to pull off. However 2k Marin have done well to recreate the atmosphere of the original game while keeping it different enough that you can tell time has passed.

At the end of the day this is definitely a title that revels in the world created for it by the previous game. You don’t have to have played the original to enjoy this game but you’ll probably get more of it if you have.

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53. Binary Domain

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Set in Tokyo far into the future (2080), Binary Domain tells the story of Sergeant Dan Marshall and his team. They are a ‘Rust Crew’ sent in to investigate and, if needed, eliminate ‘Hollow Children’ – robots that can pass as humans that have been banned by the New Geneva Convention.

Gameplay-wise the game treads familiar ground – it’s a third person action title but with some nice combat ideas. You can dismember the robots to slow them down or disarm them (literally!) and if you can knock their head off they will just attack whatever is closest to them – very handy when faced with large groups of enemies.

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52. Batman: Arkham City

Taking place in a city environment, as opposed to the enclosed Asylum setting of the first game, Arkham City sees Batman facing off against several well known villians. Of course The Joker is the main antagonist here, along with Hugo Strange, but you won’t be short of cameos from familiar faces.

Graphically the game looks great and the atmosphere is nicely set up with ambient noise coming in the form of rain and the chatter of henchmen, among other things.

Arkham City is a really good game. You can tell the developers have tried to think of everything to improve upon the first game and they have delivered a bigger, more open and content packed title. The question is – after Arkham Asylum, was that what you wanted?

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51. The Darkness II

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Jackie Estacado is once again the main character of the game and following the events of the previous title he now finds himself as ‘Don’ of the Franchetti family. The Darkness II is set two years after the last game and Jackie has been doing a great job of keeping the ‘Darkness’ (a hugely powerful supernatural presence) under wraps.

The Darkness II plays like your average first person shooter… right up until the moment your release the Darkness. The power manifests itself as two demon snake-like tentacles. Controlled with L2 and R2 (L2 to grab an enemy, R2 to swipe an attack at them) this means you have twice as much firepower as usual and can hand out some serious beatings to the onslaught of enemy thugs.

The story is well told and I think one of the more interesting campaigns I played last year. I really liked the characters and for me, The Darkness II was a hidden gem in the game releases of 2012. I’d recommend you unleash your inner darkness and give this one a shot.

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So there we go, another 10 down!

As always let me know if you enjoyed (or didn’t!) any of the games in this batch.

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GregHorrorShow’s Top 20 Multiplayer Maps

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I was looking back through some old blogs a couple of weeks ago and stumbled across my Top 10 Multiplayer Maps feature – I could not believe that was published way back in 2010!

Since then we’ve had lots of great online games featuring some superb level design – so here’s an update, with the 10 now 20:

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20. SAO PAULO BUS DEPOT (Max Payne 3)


Max Payne 3’s gritty, dark universe comes through in the multiplayer as well as the single player and Sao Paulo’s Bus Depot is a prime example. Run down and seemingly abandoned, the design of the map is fantastic. There are so many different ways in (and out) of the depot itself, as well as vertical levels, that you’re never far from trouble. Perfect for settling those Vendetta’s 🙂

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19. SYR DARYA UPLINK (MAG)

I haven’t played MAG for far too long but this was always my favourite of the huge maps on offer in the game. The initial capture points are perfectly placed and having them upstairs means it’s difficult to take but equally as difficult for the enemy if you do manage to secure it. The final point in the warehouse has so many twists and turns that it housed some epic battles for me.

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18. COURTYARD (Resistance Burning Skies)

BurningSkies Maps

Sadly because of the lack of video for Vita games I don’t have footage for this one – but it’s probably the map I enjoyed most throughout my time with the Burning Skies multiplayer. Set in and around a two storey building, including the street it’s on, Courtyard is a mixture of up-close indoor gunfights and some longer range firefights on the street and surrounding areas. Perfectly designed for smaller 4v4 online battles.

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17. OPERATION 925 (Battlefield 3)

The Close Quarters DLC for Battlefield 3 is among the best DLC I’ve ever played. And the map design of the levels is the main reason for this. Operation 925 contains a host of destroyable walls/glass which means no-where is safe to hide! The video above is an excellent look around the level. As well as the two levels of the building you also have the underground car park to contend with, which opens out nicely after the tight corridors leading to it.

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16. VALPARAISO (Battlefield: Bad Company 2)

With plenty of hills to fight up/down on, this is a wonderfully varied map boasting four differently styled bases that will keep you entertained for ages. The mixture of jungle environments just within this map is a testament to how well made it is – you’ll start in dense jungle before breaking into the open for a while until eventually you’ll find yourself in another dense jungle setting for an enclosed final base.

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15. SEASIDE – GLAMORGAN, WALES (Resistance 3)

I still maintain that Resistance 3 was a hugely underrated game and that extends to the online. Glamorgan’s mix of small one floor barns/buildings makes for a strong map and while the bridge in the centre can be a choke point, the fact that you can also go around the sides means it never becomes too much of an issue. Raised platforms at each end also offer the opportunity for sniper fire but it’s when up-close and personal that the map thrives.

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14. HIGHRISE (Call Of Duty:Modern Warfare2)

I’m not a massive fan of Call Of Duty but the multiplayer is pretty fun in short bursts and the Highrise map is one of the highlights of the series. Set, essentially, in the upper floor of two buildings and on another building’s rooftop inbetween – this is a close quarters map with plenty of scope for sneaking into the enemies’ tower. One of my favourite tactics was using the lower walkways to get into the opposite tower and launch an attack behind the enemy – that is of course if I could get in without being spotted… easier said than done.

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13. LONDON UNDERGROUND (Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception)

Like almost all Uncharted online maps London Underground is based upon a single player campaign level. And this one runs the full gambit. Three vertical levels of fun and a speeding train that passes through the level, killing anyone in it’s path. Fortunately Naughty Dog also put some of the objectives on the tracks or near where the train passes, just to add to the chaos! This is a really well designed map with lots of entrances/exits to all rooms, meaning you’ll need to stay focussed to keep hold of objectives.

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12. FIREBASE GODDESS (Mass Effect 3)

Another multiplayer that I really need to spend some more time with is Mass Effect 3. Firebase Goddess is a great map with lots of ins-and-outs and a cool exterior section showing the destruction that has occurred at the base. With the play in Mass Effect 3 being horde-based the numerous entrances make for some tense moments and you’ll need a good squad of players to hold down locations and complete objectives on this one!

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11. DRONE (Call Of Duty: Black Ops II)

I’ve found that my taste in Call Of Duty games tend to favour the Black Ops side of things rather than the Modern Warfare series. In terms of multiplayer I’d say Drone is my favourite of any Call Of Duty map. Tightly designed with plenty of ways in (and out) of buildings, you’ll need to keep a constant eye in all directions to avoid enemies flanking you. The main room with the slide doors will have you second guessing yourself – everytime you hear the ‘swoosh’ of the door opening you have milliseconds to decide… friend or foe?

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10. MAWLR GRAVEYARD (Killzone 3)

Killzone 3 has a lot of maps that revolve around a specific feature and MAWLR Graveyard is no different. The central route through the map means going through the path of a metal crusher – activated by a button on a raised platform. It’s very satisfying to spot a group of enemy soldiers making a run for it, hit the button and watch the kills stack up. But you also have other ways around, with two rooms on each side for close quarters action – which are linked by an underground tunnel. Fantastic stuff.

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9. CASTEL GANDOLFO (Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood)

The majority of levels in the Assassin’s Creed series have been effective but nothing special in my opinion. However Castel Gandolfo (a real province in Italy) is a fantastically made map that generates an amazing amount of tension during games. Set across two floors of the building, including some of the exterior as well, it’s crowded enough to lose your pursuers but not so busy that you can’t get a good chase on. Great placement of Trap Doors’ adds a further edge to proceedings.

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8. GRAND BAZAAR (Battlefield 3)

Battlefield 3 has given us some of the biggest maps ever seen on a console shooter and Grand Bazaar is a stunning example of how good design can enhance the player’s experience. Basically an alleyway with lots of entrances/exits and the ability to flank around both sides, this is a map that makes it easy to get caught up in the choke-point of the alley but gives you the option of stepping back from the carnage and making a dash via a different route to try and claim a flag. It’s this freedom of choice that makes Grand Bazaar such a strong map.

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7. THARSIS DEPOT (Killzone 2)

Set on the same refinery as the single player mission, Tharsis Depot is full of steel and has an elogated bottleneck between the bases down one side of the map. Co-incidentally that is also where one team has to defend in search and destroy – which usually leads to all kinds of chaos. With two floors to choose from there are plenty of ways to surprise your enemies and I am a HUGE fan of holding down the corridor just off the main room in the middle to shotgun any enemies that come my way.

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6. THE SANCTUARY (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)

This map is my personal favourite from Uncharted 2. Whether it’s plunder, elimination, deathmatch or whatever – The Sanctuary almost always throws up a great match. The underground tunnels are a fantastic addition in that they effectively add a third layer to proceedings and the risk/reward of positioning the Hammer on the exposed ledge is a stroke of genius. In fact you can also climb to the top of the tower in each base, above the main rooftops so technically The Sanctuary has FOUR levels to play with. A monster of a multiplayer map considering how compact it is.

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5. PORT VALDEZ (Battlefield: Bad Company 2)

This was one of the maps from the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 beta and it is still one of my favourite maps on the game. The balance between defence and attack (in Rush mode) in terms of positioning of buildings etc is truly superb. The last few bases of this massive map are fantastic and you really do have to consider your tactics. Making a run for it is all well good but you can almost guarantee a host of snipers will have their sights trained on the entrance of whichever base you’re at. A really well designed map, especially considering the size and amount of bases in it.

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4. CHATEAU (Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception)

Chateau is one of those maps that creates it’s own centrepiece as the game progresses. At the start of the round the roof is set on fire and soon enough the rooms in the upstairs of the building catch alight, the floor crumbles as it burns and flames lick the walls. It is some truly stunning stuff. And that’s to say nothing of the zipline from a hole in the top floor down to the adjacent garden or the downstairs room with overturned furniture that can be used as makeshift cover. A well designed map full of character.

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3. CASPIAN BORDER (Battlefield 3)

There are so many great maps in Battlefield 3 that I could probably do a Top 10 list just based on that title alone but the one that stands out above the rest for me is Caspian Border. Finely placed objectives and a wonderful mix of high and low positions mean sheer fun. The four main areas are far enough apart that it makes sense to grab a vehicle but if you find yourself stranded it isn’t too far to run. Add jets and helicopters into the mix and you have a recipe for some seriously amazing mutilplayer action. Outstanding.

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2. LENTE MISSILE BASE (Killzone 3)

This is a map that I simply love playing on. The way Lente Missile Base spans so many levels is brilliant and, of course, the fact that missiles actually take off from the basement (and you can get killed if you’re foolish enough to be down there) make this one of Killzone 3’s best experiences. Like some of the other centre-pieces in the game’s online offering there is a switch you can push to cancel the missile launch. It’s the little touches like that which really give the level a touch of character. From tense fights in the main tower through to open battles in the courtyard and below to tight skirmishes in the tunnels under the base, there is always something going on in this map.

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1 RADEC ACADEMY (Killzone 2)

Yep *still* the daddy of all multiplayer maps, Radec Academy is a superbly designed map with both open areas and some really tight corridors/stairways which leads to some intense firefights. The positioning of the search and destroy targets (for both teams) is inspired – essentially requiring you to hold a room that has three or four different entrances. Meanwhile there is the opportunity to snipe from the balcony overlooking the square – but you’ll have be quick to take those chances as people don’t hang around… unless you’re lucky enough to find an unsuspecting soul taking stock in one of the doorways opposite. Then of course you have the tunnels that run between each base and the building at the back of the map which can get quite crowded if a speaker spawns down there. Overall for me personally, it’s tough to think of what more they could’ve done to improve Radec Academy…

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——————————————————————————————————————–

And there you have it – an updated list featuring the latest and greatest multiplayer maps… well certainly the ones I enjoy playing the most.

Because it’s such a divisive subject and because of the sheer number of maps out there across a huge amount of games, I fully expect you guys to have lots of maps that you love and feel should’ve been on the list.

So light up the comments and let me know which of the above are your favourites and which maps you’d add to the list!

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GregHorrorShow: Game Awards 2012

GOTYMain

So another fantastic year of gaming draws to a close and it’s time to look back to see what’s impressed in 2012:

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

GOTYInnovation

WINNER: Spec Ops ‘Degradation Of Characters’

It’s crazy to think that this has never been done before. In Spec Ops: The Line as well as physical changes, you and your squad also take a psychological beating. Later in the game as your character starts screaming his orders instead of calmly giving them it makes a huge difference. Even reloading calls are shouted through gritted teeth. It just makes the game feel incredibly visceral. Big shout outs to both Dishonored and Hitman: Absolution for bringing some new, inventive mechanics to the stealth genre. I expect both Blink and Instinct will turn up in other games at some stage.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Dishonored – Blink
  • Max Payne 3 – Bullet Time in Online Matches
  • Hitman: Absolution – Instinct

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

GOTYDLCCon

WINNER: Battlefield 3 – Close Quarters

While Borderlands 2 gave us a substantial chunk of gameplay with Captain Scarlett’s Booty and Uncharted 3 delivered some clever, new maps, for sheer awesomeness this award has to go to Battlefield 3 for Close Quarters. This map pack with two new game modes was a brilliant addition to the Battlefield package. The maps in here are some of my favourite in the entire game’s roster – Operation 925 and Ziba Tower are so well designed it hurts. Sure these maps slightly favour a shotgun but when has that ever been a problem 🙂

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 3 – Map Pack
  • Mass Effect 3 – From Ashes
  • Borderlands 2 – Captain Scarlett’s Booty

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BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME

Journey 1

WINNER: Journey

Journey is unlike anything I’ve ever played – it truly is a game that needs to be experienced rather than discussed but if you’d like to read more, check out my review from earlier in the year. A truly stunning game. Also have to congratulate the guys at Evolution on Motorstorm RC – when I first saw the reveal I wasn’t hugely impressed but the game turned out to be fantastic.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Motorstorm RC
  • Sound Shapes
  • When Vikings Attack!

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2013

GOTYMostAnt

WINNER: Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar continue to deliver top quality games – since the last GTA we’ve had L.A Noire, Max Payne 3 and the superlative Red Dead Redemption. Grand Theft Auto V looks set to continue that (check out the trailer in the next section) and I can’t wait to see what advances have been made since the last game back in 2008.

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BEST GAME TRAILER

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WINNER: Borderlands 2

I love this trailer. It completely sums up the game and when Claptrap… well I won’t spoil it but check it out.

I’ve also included the runners up below so you can check them out as well.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Beyond: Two Souls
  • Bioshock Infinite

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BEST PS VITA GAME

GOTYVita

WINNER: Motorstorm RC

There have been some fantastic games for the Vita in it’s first year and I certainly don’t think the console is lacking in titles. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation came close to making this list but was edged out by the excellent Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Sony Bend Studios delivered a great Uncharted game and Gravity Rush was a blast, despite some frustrating combat issues. However the award in 2012 goes to Motorstorm RC, a completely addictive racer that took up far too much of my time. Beating friend’s scores on the tracks gave everything a competitive edge and I enjoyed it so much I bought all the DLC to get more tracks. In my opinion a perfect title for the Vita.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted
  • Gravity Rush

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BEST GRAPHICS

GOTYGraphics

WINNER: Max Payne 3

Usually best graphics is one of those categories where you can immediately arrive at a shortlist and the tough part is narrowing that down to a winner. But this year we’ve had a number of games that shone in various different styles. It’s been extremely difficult and titles like The Darkness II, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Hitman Absolution and Gravity Rush have all failed to make the cut. For me, although it was a linear experience, Max Payne 3 really delivered a mix of great technical work and graphical style to create a fairly unique and stunning looking game.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Journey
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Borderlands II

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BEST STORYLINE

GOTYStory

WINNER: Spec Ops: The Line

I had been keeping an eye on Spec Ops: The Line ever since it’s first reveal back at the Video Game Awards in 2009, so I was most pleased to see it finally get released in the summer. Promising tough moral choices, an interesting story and some good use of desert sand to trap enemies it looked like Spec Ops might dominate the barren Summer release schedule. It didn’t quite work out that way but Spec Ops: The Line tells one of the more engrossing stories in games of the last few years. The way things unfold is well choreographed and having seen some of the conversations with the writers of the game it seems almost everything in the game was planned that way from the beginning. It’s a slow start but well worth sticking with – one of the best storylines for a while.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Max Payne 3
  • The Darkness II
  • Dishonored

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

GOTYScore

WINNER: Max Payne 3 – Health

There have been some fantastic scores this year, from the usual military bombast of Call Of Duty: Black Ops II through to the quirky and lovable Sound Shapes on Vita. But most would be hard pressed to match Health‘s score for Max Payne 3, which fitted the game so well it was pretty much another aspect of Max’s character. Journey probably ran it closest, the sweeping joy and sorrow of Austin Wintory’s music really bringing a depth of emotion to the game. Big shout out as well to Hotline Miami, I haven’t even played that game but the soundtrack is fantastic in it’s own right.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Journey – Austin Wintory
  • Gravity Rush (Vita) – Kohei Tanaka
  • Sound Shapes (Vita) – Various

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

GOTYLicensed

WINNER: The Darkness II

It’s also been a great year for licensed music uses in games – in fact it’s the first year I’ve truly struggled to get a shortlist, never mind a winner. FIFA continues to impress by delving into indie territory and Sleeping Dogs ‘Grand Theft Auto-esque’ radio station approach threw up some great tunes to cause carnage to. Eventually it was a two horse race for this award and despite a few excellent choices (Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – “Nowhere to Run” and Deep Purple – “Hush” in particular) by Spec Ops: The Line, The Darkness II steals it with tracks like Ram Jam – “Black Betty”, Metallica “Some Kind Of Monster”, Stereo MCs – “Connected”, The Flamingos – “I Only Have Eyes for You”, Dean Martin – “In the Chapel in the Moonlight”, The Offspring – “Self-Esteem” and of course, Tone Loc – “Wild Thing”. Fantastic stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

  • FIFA 13
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Spec Ops: The Line

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BEST VOICE ACTING

SleepingDogs 3

WINNER: Sleeping Dogs

Square Enix assembled an all star cast including Hong Kong actor Will Yun Lee, Tom Wilkinson, Lucy Liu and Emma Stone to bring the characters of Sleeping Dogs to life. They do a great job and really help to pull you into the world the game creates. Nolan North again pulls a Nate Drake performance out of the bag, this time on the small(er) screen of the Vita. He also took on the main role of Martin Walker in Spec Ops: The Line – you can see why he’s one of the most in demand, and best, voice actors in gaming.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Max Payne 3
  • Spec Ops: The Line

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

Journey Main

WINNER: Journey

Journey is a gaming experience like no other. As you make your way across desolate, sandy dunes the game will run you through a gamut of emotions. It’s such a wonderful game, play it online and in one sitting (it’s 2-3 hours long) – you won’t regret it. While in some respects Mass Effect 3 was disappointing, overall I thought it was a solid, enjoyable game. There were some interesting missions and choices you could make that meant, while the ending might not have been different, how you got to the conclusion of the story varied depending on your actions. Sleeping Dogs was so much fun I think I played almost the entire thing with a smile on my face but the dark horse in this race, sneaking up on the others with a fibre wire, is Hitman: Absolution. After a mis-step with Kane and Lynch 2, IO Interactive really delivered with Hitman. Accessible and challenging – definitely one of the best single player games out there this year.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Sleeping Dogs

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

GOTYMulti

WINNER: Borderlands 2

It hasn’t really been a great year for online multiplayer in my opinion – too few new games grabbed our attention and it was far too easy to jump back into titles like Battlefield 3 or Uncharted 3. However Borderlands 2 would be a worthy winner any year. Getting online with 3 of your friends and blasting through madcap missions was insane fun and the dash for spilled loot only added to the comedy. Mass Effect 3 successfully introduced multiplayer, it was only a horde mode of sorts but most enjoyable and the added depth of different character races gives it some longevity. Call Of Duty: Black Ops II was the most accessible and flexible yet, with some really great maps to boot. Max Payne 3 adds something different with modes like ‘Payne Killer’ and ‘Gang Wars’ but stands up as a third person action shooter in standard modes like Team Deathmatch as well. I was quite impressed with Max Payne’s online, especially the way the developer factored in bullet time but it didn’t seem like that many people were playing it beyond the first couple of weeks of release.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Max Payne 3
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops II

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GAME OF THE YEAR

GOTYGame

WINNER: Borderlands 2

If you’ve been keeping up with the blog or following me on Twitter it’s probably not too hard to guess this year’s winner. For Borderlands 2, Gearbox Software ramped up the game and refined it to such an extent that it is genuinely hard to find fault with it. It’s fun on your own but truly comes to life in online co-op. Memorable characters compliment the game’s wicked sense of humour and an outrageous amount of classes, guns, shields, mods and relics just add to the chaos. Borderlands 2 is a huge game that you will love playing through.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Journey

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So there you have it, another great year for gaming and the above is only the tip of iceberg. There were some great titles that didn’t make the shortlists but are still worth checking out. Things like Syndicate, Binary Domain, X-Com: Enemy Unknown and Need For Speed: Most Wanted for a start. Or how about Unit 13, Everybody’s Golf and LittleBigPlanet for the Vita.

I never got around to playing a few of the big games from this year, most notably The Walking Dead and Resident Evil 6 but I’ll hopefully get a chance to experience those soon.

There’s been plenty to play this year and 2013 looks interesting, especially with new hardware on the horizon.

What is your game of the year? Let me know what you agree/disagree with in the above and what titles you would’ve had in there.

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Mass Effect 3 – Review (PS3)

Mass Effect 2 was one of my favourite games from this generation, giving the chance to shape the destiny of whatever version of Commander Shepard that you created. So I was really excited to see how Bioware were going to close out the trilogy.

The game takes place after the conclusion of events in the Mass Effect 2 DLC expansion ‘Arrival‘ and now that the Reaper threat is real and imminent Shepard finds herself reinstated and back on active duty.

Your decisions from the previous game carry over and any casualties your crew sustained are also mirrored here. For Mass Effect 3 you’ll be tasked with banding together a, mainly, fresh crew. There are a couple of exceptions but on the whole all of the characters from your crew in Mass Effect 2 that you bump into have no interest in re-joining you on board the Normandy.

So it’s a similar set up to before as you go about the galaxy recruiting your new crew and trying to do your best to prepare for the upcoming fight against the Reapers.

This third instalment felt a little bit more lightweight in terms of play time and clocked in at around 30 hours, whereas Mass Effect 2 was closer to 40 hours. However having said that there is more DLC upcoming that adds to the campaign and in the last game there was no multiplayer component.

Speaking of multiplayer, it’s safe to say that Bioware have delivered what we all hoped it would be – of no consequence to the single player (other than adding to your ‘Readiness’ rating – one of numerous ways to increase it) and a fun blast of online action.

It’s the same sort of horde mode seen frequently elsewhere but it’s well executed and gives players to chance to control the non-human species in the Mass Effect universe (Quarians ftw 🙂 ).

Going back to the single player campaign and it would be remiss of me not to at least mention the ‘ending’ debacle that plagued the game. My spoiler free take on it is one of pure frustration. Even with the new DLC ending added on I didn’t get the resolution I was looking for.

I didn’t have any issue with the ending itself, which was what most people were arguing about – it was the lack of clarity… If characters are dead in the ending of my playthrough show them dead! It was fine in Mass Effect 2 so why not here? Anyway it doesn’t really affect the game too much – I just found it really annoying after investing so much time in the series.

Overall I found Mass Effect 3 less enthralling than the previous game – it’s certainly a very good game but I just didn’t like the crew members as much in this instalment. The ending soured the game slightly for me just because it feels like all the other endings at least offered some sort of closure. The multiplayer is a great addition and I would definitely recommend trying it and if you played Mass Effect 2 you’ll enjoy seeing out the story and watching you Shepard do her stuff.

Rating: 9/10

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GregHorrorShow Game Awards 2011

Well I’ve been saying this every Christmas for the past few years but I honestly don’t think there has ever been a better time to be a gamer.

Once again we’ve been spoilt with a wealth of fantastic titles both in terms of first party content and third party.

As well as the big triple A exclusives, the level and standard of DLC and downloadable games has risen – giving gamers even more reason to keep playing older games, or to take a punt on a new downloadable title.

So without further ado – let’s kick things off!

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

WINNER: L.A. Noire – ‘Facial Capture’

I have to say it was pretty tough to pick between these as in their own way they could help move the industry forward. FIFA’s real time physics, while occasionally leading to comedy ‘bundles’, does add another dimension of realism to the game. Fight Night Champion gave us a great, enjoyable story mode *in a sports game*! ‘Operations’ Mode from Killzone 3 brings a touch of co-op style story to main multiplayer (shame there was only a few of them available) but looking back the innovation that stands out as something truly special was Team Bondi’s superb work at facial capture in L.A Noire. Just think, one day maybe faces in all games will look this good.

RUNNERS UP:

‘Operations’ Mode (Killzone 3)

‘Champion Mode’ (Fight Night Champion)

‘Real Physics Engine’ (FIFA 12)

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

WINNER: Killzone 3 – From The Ashes Map Pack

While the L.A Noire and Mass Effect 2 DLC gave us more content I felt that the job Guerrilla Games did on revisiting the Killzone 2 maps for the third game was outstanding. The maps were recognisable but for the most part completely different – whether it was the crumbling Radec Academy or the overgrown Blood Gracht. Great stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

Mass Effect 2 – Arrival DLC

L.A Noire – Extra Cases

Battlefield 3: Back To Karkand

.

BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME

WINNER: Infamous: Festival Of Blood

Sucker Punch delivered an inspired slice of downloadable goodness with Infamous: Festival Of Blood – a completely stand alone game that requires no knowledge of the Infamous games or indeed no copy of Infamous 2 to play. Infamous’ hero/anti-hero Cole McGrath has been turned into a vampire by Bloody Mary and has until sunrise to save himself. While the main story is pretty short there is enough here to keep you well entertained, especially at the price. Sadly Payday: The Heist was a bit of a disappointment, which may have had more to do with a badly timed delay that meant it’s release slipped even closer to Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3. However if you get the chance definitely check out Stacking, which is a wonderfully charming puzzle game.

RUNNERS UP:

Back To The Future – The Game: Part 1

Payday: The Heist

Stacking

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2012

WINNER: Mass Effect 3

This was between Mass Effect 3 and Bioshock Infinite – it was a very close call. While I love the Bioshock games the attachment that formed for my own Shepherd in Mass Effect 2 means that I can’t wait to see her get back into action. Hopefully she’ll be able to avenge those from our team that didn’t make it 😦 as the Reaper’s turn their attention to Earth.

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BEST GAME TRAILER

WINNER: Dead Island

There couldn’t really be a different winner could there? 😆 This trailer came out of nowhere and had one of the biggest, and quickest, en masse responses I’ve ever seen. It’s cleverly made and pulls at the heart strings, while also boasting an amazing piano piece to accompany it. Sadly it didn’t *really* represent the game because from what I’ve seen (I’m yet to pick it up) there isn’t much of an emotional aspect to Dead Island. Nevertheless, one of the best trailers for a while.

RUNNERS UP:

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

GTA V

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BEST PSP GAME

WINNER: The 3rd Birthday

There hasn’t been a wealth of new games for the PSP (the fact that one of the nominees was a Mini title says it all) but there was one title in particular that stood out. While The 3rd Birthday is heavily Japanese influenced (crazy story/really hard etc) it’s not too inaccessible and the gunplay itself is very nicely handled. Despite all this I do have say I’m looking forward to the arrival of the dual analogue sticks on the PS Vita!

RUNNERS UP:

Speedball 2 (Mini)

PES 2011

Football Manager 2012

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BEST SPORTS GAME

WINNER: FIFA 12

FIFA takes the title again and this year justifies it more than ever. With a revamped physics engine that means collisions take place in real-time (as opposed to triggering standard animations) and a bold overhaul of the tackling mechanic, EA have taken football games to the next level. Dirt 3 ran this close as it’s a superb game and PES 2012 deserves a mention as it’s a big improvement on last year’s title but FIFA wins this one.

RUNNERS UP:

PES 2012

Dirt 3

Fight Night Champion

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BEST GRAPHICS

WINNER: Battlefield 3

While you’d think (looking at Battlefield’s gorgeous single player and (to a lesser extent) multiplayer) that this would be an easy decision, take a peek at the Runners Up in this category. Killzone 3, Dead Space 2 and Uncharted 3 have some of the best graphics I’ve seen. And that’s not to mention countless others (Batman: Arkham City/Portal 2/L.A. Noire/Resistance 3 and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations to name… well, quite a few actually) that looked great but didn’t make the nominations. However when all is said and done Battlefield 3 impressed me the most. At one stage I found myself ignoring my objective to watch the rain fall on the neon bathed rooftop I was standing on – simply awe inspiring.

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 3

Dead Space 2

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

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BEST STORYLINE

WINNER: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Whereas Uncharted 2: Among Thieves focused mainly on Drake’s relationship with Elena and Chloe, the third instalment in the series shines the spotlight on his bond with Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan. That’s a plus for me as Sully is probably my favourite character in the game’s universe. In amongst this Drake is, once more, jet setting around the world trying to beat a villianous opponent to the (archeological) punch. With a story packed full of great characters Uncharted 3 continues the high standard of story telling set by the previous titles and I found myself with goosebumps at it’s conclusion.

RUNNERS UP:

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Killzone 3

Infamous 2

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

WINNER: Killzone 3 – Joris De Man

Joris De Man once again works his magic following the superb Killzone 2 score. Where the second game had the grand scale that accompanied the ISA’s invasion of Helghast, this score – with it’s lamenting strings and intense highs & lows – gives you a feel for the game’s theme of retreat/surrender. Revisiting a couple of pieces from the last game with a different twist is a great touch and really adds to the depth of the music. Special mention to both Uncharted 3 (Greg Edmonson) and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Jeremy Soule) which were both also amazing scores.

RUNNERS UP:

SOCOM 4

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

WINNER: L.A Noire

While FIFA 12 delivered it’s usual mix of current flavour tracks, Dirt 3 hit some high points with a few great choices and LittleBigPlanet 2 was close to taking this award with it’s whimsical selection, it was Team Bondi’s ill fated (for them unfortunately, they no longer exist – despite the game being a roaring success) Noir project that snags the award. Featuring the awesome talents of legends like Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Peggy Lee you were never short of great music to accompany you as you travelled around L.A in the shoes of Cole Phelps.

RUNNERS UP:

Dirt3

LittleBigPlanet 2

FIFA 12

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BEST VOICE ACTING

WINNER: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

There just isn’t another series out there like Uncharted when it comes to voice acting. The guys and girls at Naughty Dog do a fantasic job of bringing the best out of the actors involved and as the series has gone on the actors have become more and more comfortable ad libbing and bouncing ideas off of each other. It shows in some of the wonderful moments the characters share. Everyone involved deserves a pat on the back for another job well done – hopefully going forward more and more games will try and bring more characters to life rather than just getting someone to come in a booth and read lines alone.

RUNNERS UP:

Portal 2

Killzone 3

Batman: Arkham City

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Mass Effect 2 was nailed on to win this right up until the moment I fired up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, created a character and set off into the massive world Bethesda have made for you to shape your own story. I don’t think I have ever played a game that feels so organic before. Everything you do feels like a part of the story, indeed there is scope here for you to barely touch the main missions and just create a story of your own to play through. If you’re someone that enjoys single player games and is happy to get lost within a game for hours upon end, this was the title for you in 2011. I also have to give a nod to Resistance 3, which had – in my opinion – the best story of the entire series and seems to have be sadly overlooked by the public at large.

RUNNERS UP:

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Resistance 3

Mass Effect 2

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Battlefield 3

As much as I’ve loved the online for Uncharted 3 and Killzone 3 the sheer unpredictability of Battlefield 3 sees it secure the award for best multiplayer. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations deserves praise for managing to refine enough from last year to make a positive difference to the gameplay. However, nothing can touch Battlefield 3 at it’s best. When in a squad with friends… rushing the objective under a hail of debris from multiple explosions… as a fighter jet ploughs into the ground alongside you, the resulting ‘bang’ knocking the sound from the game as bullets come from all directions… as you creep up on an unsuspecting opponent and knife him to steal his dog tags… shooting enemies through walls that would be impervious to bullets on other shooters… the list is endless. It’s been a great year for multiplayer games on the PS3 what with Killzone 3, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3, SOCOM 4 and, for some less serious fun, LittleBigPlanet 2.

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 3

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

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GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

As an overall gaming experience I don’t feel Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception can be touched this year. Despite being runner up for both the single player and mulitplayer awards, the combination of the two sides of Uncharted 3 give it the edge. While Skyrim is outstanding as a single player experience I don’t feel it can compare with the variety of gameplay that Uncharted 3 can provide. Sadly for Battlefield 3 it’s campiagn was a let down and in fact it was Killzone 3 that came closest to Uncharted 3 in my opinion. Guerrilla Games third instalment in the futuristic first person shooter, had a great story and an impressive multiplayer. Uncharted 3’s  stellar campaign that, while similar to second game, provided plenty of new exposition and a few new gameplay surprises alongside a vastly improved and much deeper multiplayer offering means that for me that this is the complete gaming package for 2011.

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 3

Battlefield 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

——————————————————————————————————

So there we go – it’s been a challenge to get through enough of the big titles that arrived in October/November to form an opinion but the job was done in the end.

It’s crazy to think of the games that missed out on nominations – Rage, Bulletstorm, Crysis 2, Mortal Kombat, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Dragon Age II to name a few. In another year games like Dead Space 2, Batman: Arkham City, Portal 2, Resistance 3 and Infamous 2 would probably have walked away with awards and it’s a testament to the high standard of games this year that they have gone home empty handed.

What are your thoughts? Would be great to hear what your picks for the year were!

Thanks for reading through the year and contributing in the comment sections – it’s always appreciated. See you in 2012! 🙂

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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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E3 2011: Wrap Up

So E3 has been and gone for another year.

While there wasn’t much in the way of big surprises we got to see plenty of great stuff.

Here are my thoughts on this year’s games:

EA had a great press conference, showing off the expected big guns of Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3 and FIFA 12. Mass Effect 3 looked great and having just wrapped up the second game I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Same goes for Battlefield 3 – the game looks stunning on PC and it will be interesting to see how close they can get the console versions.

FIFA 12 looks set to be improved greatly by a new physics engine, which essentially means the end of set animations for players. From here on out players will react naturally to where they are hit. If implemented corrected it could be a game changer.

I wasn’t that sure about Need For Speed: The Run which brings QTE’s to the franchise for moments your driver leaves the car. Could be cool if they feature it well – overuse it and it could be the kiss of death for the game. One of the few ‘unknowns’ of the show, Overstrike is the new game from Insomiac Games (makers of the Resistance series) and it looks like lots of fun. Certainly it doesn’t take itself too seriously – check out the trailer below.

Speaking of Insomiac Games, I thought Resistance 3 looked cool. Maybe not as polished as some of the other games but certainly a story I’m interested in seeing continue. DUST514 was another unknown property to me but seems like something different in the shooter market.

Of course Uncharted 3 looked superb and it’s getting to the stage now where I’m considering not watching any more footage for fear of ruining the game for myself! Twisted Metal impressed – while it’ll be a hard sell to the masses, in my opinion, I am definitely on board having loved the original back on the PSOne.

Ubisoft were showing off Assassin’s Creed: Relevations, the final chapter in the Ezio trilogy and while it looks like refinements rather than innovation, I’m cool with that. They also showed a trailer for a new Brothers In Arms title called Furious Four. I thought it looked great, as many others have said it has a touch of the Ingloroius Bastards about it. The only issue I had was the fact that Brothers In Arms games usually take the moral high ground and base themselves on real soldiers experience, so the branding here jars somewhat.

The new Driver title looked like it could be fun but the last few have been fairly poor so I’ll withhold judgement for now. Certainly it was a cool trailer. I also liked the look of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. It reminded me of SOCOM 4, which I enjoyed a lot, so that bodes well. Far Cry 3 returned with a bang, showing off an impressive trailer that really set the scene. Far Cry 2 didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped so I have my fingers crossed for the third one.

Batman Arkham City had a reveal at the show, that Catwoman would be a playable character. A nice addition and we got to see some more footage of the game in action. It’s shaping up nicely and the open world setting looks amazing. Finally looks like XBox owners will get a slice of the Uncharted action with Tomb Raider, a reboot of the series that shows a more gritty version of Lara Croft finding her feet on a quest for adventure. From what they showed it looks great so I’m interested to check it out.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Bioshock Infinite were both known properties but the new footage shown has raised expectation even higher than before. Deus Ex hits later this year with Bioshock Infinite coming in 2012.

Modern Warfare 3 was also shown and, well, it’s Modern Warfare. No-one is likely to be disappointed with more of the same and it’s understandable with the walk outs the game studio had. I’ll enjoy the campaign and play some multiplayer as I do with each Call Of Duty. Surely this has to be the last outing for this game engine though?

Bethesda’s Skyrim looked stunning and if you like your games based in the olde worlde fantasy setting this will be one you’ll need to pick up. I was also glad to see X-COM make the jump from XBox exclusive to multi-format as I liked the look of that previously. With a 1950’s ‘Twilight Zone’ style setting it’s one to keep an eye on.

It’s been too long since we slipped on the gloves of Agent 47 and IO Interactive are looking to remedy that with Hitman: Absolution. A brief trailer was all that was shown but I can’t wait for this game. On the downloadable game front I thought Payday: The Heist looked like it could be absolutely superb. The idea of running through heists with friends online and it being different each time sounds like a lot of fun.

So there we go – one of the other big parts of E3 was the confirmation of the PS Vita handheld from Sony but I think that deserves it’s own entry so keep your eyes peeled for that sometime this week.

What were your thoughts on E3? Which games surprised you or increased your interest?

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MOST WANTED 2011

I’d already been planning another Most Wanted article over the last month or so but eventually it became apparent that I might as well hold off until after the VGA’s (Video Game Awards) as a lot of big titles are announced there.

It’s a long list and I’ve provided footage where possible. Grab yourself a tea/coffee/beer (delete as appropriate) and get comfortable. 🙂

To see the videos below in HD just click the little YouTube button on the bottom right of the video.

So here we go, GregHorrorShow’s Most Wanted for 2011 – in no order whatsoever… oh alright! the first two are my *most* most wanted…

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KILLZONE 3

Having been fortunate enough to take part in the multiplayer beta and having had a single player hands on at the Eurogamer Expo, I simply cannot wait for Killzone 3. Continuing the story of the second game you now find yourself on Helghan and wanting to get the hell off the planet. The already great multiplayer has been tweaked superbly and although everything I’ve played has been Alpha Code (i.e unfinished) it looks stunning.

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UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE’S DECEPTION

Wow. It was kind of on the cards as Naughty Dog had already done water and snow but setting the third instalment of Nathan Drake’s treasure hunting adventures in the desert is a great idea. The high production values of the single player in Uncharted 2 will hopefully be met (and exceeded) and with the continued support and investment in the second game’s multiplayer (over a year after the game came out) I expect it to excel there as well. My only concern is will the hype kill it? I hope not.

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HOMEFRONT

One of the more interesting takes on the FPS genre, Homefront takes place in an alternate reality 2024 where North and South Korea have unified to invade first China and then several other countries, including the USA. You play as a resistance member desperately trying to get rid of the opposing forces. The twist with this game is that you will be playing as a prisoner in your own country and the developers have promised some familiar places with some unfamiliar appearances. Very promising.

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RAGE

Rage for me is a bit of a mystery. The game looks gorgeous but the majority of footage I’ve seen hasn’t quite sold me. Taking place in a Borderlands-esque post apocalyptic wasteland the game feature vehicular combat as well as first person action. This just about makes the Most Wanted list as one to watch.

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HITMAN 5

Not a great deal is known about this one, other than it’s been outed several times by people working on it. No release date currently might imply a likely 2012 release but it could squeeze into the end of 2011 so it makes the list. I loved ‘Hitman: Blood Money’ so to see Agent 47 carrying out well planned assassinations in HD would be a pleasure. Hopefully with more powerful hardware behind it we’ll see an improvement in the enemy AI as well as the graphics.

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DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION

I really enjoyed Deus Ex back on the PS2 – it was a brilliantly crafted universe and Square Enix are taking us back to it, albeit to a time before the original game. What isn’t there to like about augmented cyborgs? Seriously though I’m hoping this can be as engrossing and thought provoking as the previous Deus Ex games.

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MASS EFFECT 2 & 3

Well I called it earlier in the year (although I expected the first two games) so it’s no surprise to see Mass Effect 2 on this list now that it’s been officially confirmed as hitting early in 2011. Essentially a space set sci-fi adventure in which your choices shape the story. To this day it remains the only XBox 360 exclusive that I don’t think has a counterpart on the PS3, so it’s a welcome addition to the line up. Bioware have also announced that the third game will also be coming to PS3 so that’s another one to look forward to!

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BRINK

Having actually played this and enjoyed it my concerns about the gameplay have all but disappeared. Now I’m more worried about whether it’s good enough to get more than a few hours of game time in what promises to be a packed year for shooters. Teamwork is the name of the game here as both sides battle to secure various objectives.

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L.A NOIRE

Simply stunning. Now THAT is a trailer! L.A Noire is shaping up to be something special. The facial animation is so good apparently you’ll be looking for facial ‘tells’ to work out if the person you’re interviewing is telling the truth. You play as a 1940’s police detective trying to crack cases. Can’t wait for this 😎

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SOCOM: SPECIAL FORCES

I wasn’t really that fussed about SOCOM after playing the appalling SOCOM Confrontation but getting some hands on time at the Eurogamer Expo with the new game changed my mind completely. Similarly to Zipper’s other game M.A.G, this isn’t the best game graphically but it was definitely a fun experience. There is a rumoured 4 player co-op mode which would be great if true.

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DEAD SPACE 2

Isaac Clarke returns in the sequel to one of my favourite PS3 games ever. Full of atmosphere and with plenty of shocks Dead Space came out of leftfield to surprise everyone. It was often what they didn’t show you in the first game that freaked you out and I’m hoping the story is as strong as the first game, which still sparks animated conversations about what actually went down on the Ishimura.

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MOTORSTORM APOCALYPSE

Another one I was fortunate enough to play at Eurogamer, Motorstorm Apocalypse played really well and seemed to build on what other driving games like Split/Second have done with destructible environments. Tower blocks and huge buildings collapse around you creating different routes around the track. Motorstorm games are always fun and look great, I’m expecting more of the same.

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GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER

I haven’t really played any of the previous Ghost Recon games as they seemed a little tactics heavy. However having seen the trailer and footage of this game I think it might be the title to turn me onto the series. Set a few years into the future you have a chance to use the latest warfare tech on the planet, hopefully it’ll be as cool as it sounds.

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BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY

Batman: Arkham Asylum was expected to fail by pretty much everyone but turned out to be so good I nominated it for 4 awards in my end of year blog. That it didn’t win one shows you the quality of the products that came to the market last year. Fluid combat and a real sense of power made this a must play and the sequel promises more of the same but with even more classic Batman enemies and the chance to take the fight to the streets of Gotham.

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INFAMOUS 2

Another of my favourite games last year told the story of Cole, a reluctant superhero, that gave you the option of playing as a good guy or a bad guy. Much fun both ways – it’s the only game this generation I’ve finished twice – and the sequel looks like even more of a blast with new power abilities and more insight into the story of the first game. I’ll be looking forward to lightning up some baddies come 2011. 🙂

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RESISTANCE 3

The Resistance series has been a continued improvement from the original PS3 launch title to the bigger and better sequel and now finally what looks to be a triple A title. Taking a much darker tone Resistance 3 sees the Chimera in control and your resistance being just that. Bands of human survivors bunching together to take on enemies as they make their way across the country. Sounds great. Bleak, but great.

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TWISTED METAL

 

The Twisted Metal series has come a long way since the PSOne days. Making its current generation debut next year it’ll see all manner of vehicles and crazy drivers causing chaos on the roads. Sweet Tooth (above) returns as do several other fan favourites. Hopefully this will live up to the legacy of the previous titles, which were great. The original was a top multiplayer title so with the boom in online gaming I think this will be an interesting proposition for gamers when it’s released.

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So there you have it. And that’s not even including other great titles like LittleBigPlanet2, Dirt 3 and the Mortal Kombat reboot.

Quite a list and I’m sure I’ve missed some stuff off – feel free to highlight anything that’s missing that you are looking forward to in the comments below.

Will any of you be picking some of these titles up? Are any of them a must buy for you?

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