Alien Isolation – Review (PS4)

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So here we are again, another console generation and another Alien game. Isolation promised an experience much closer to the original film and pre-release material looked great. However as someone who got burnt by Alien vs Predator and Colonial Marines, I was reluctant to let the hype carry me away. Could Creative Assembly be the first developer in decades to nail an Alien game?

Picking up in 2137, between the events of Alien and Aliens, Isolation sees you take on the role of Amanda Ripley – the daughter of general badass Ellen Ripley. With Ellen still missing, a flight recorder from her ship Nostromo is discovered and Amanda heads to Sevastopol, the space station that has the recorder, to get some answers. And that’s where we pick up the story, playing as Amanda from a first person perspective.

The first thing you’ll notice is the presentation. From the opening boot up sequence, featuring some wonderful retro logos, to the in game world, everything has been crafted with a level of dedication that shows a real love for the universe. As you make your way through the levels you’ll find yourself taken in by how good your surroundings look. Of course, you’d expect a high level of fidelity and detail when dealing with enclosed spaces and corridors like this but that doesn’t mean its any less impressive. The fire in the game looks especially good and while character models can sometimes look a little off facially, Isolation is a pretty good looking game.

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Another thing to note is that while Isolation is a first person game that features guns, flamethrowers and other weapons, it is not a shooter. This is a horror game, pure and simple. You will spend a lot of time hiding and almost all of the game crouch-walking slowly around areas. While Amanda can handle herself against human and android enemies (although even those can kill you quickly) the Alien itself is not killable, or at least certainly not with the tools you have at your disposal. It will also kill you in one hit, often from behind. These mini cut scenes are great, for example the first you might know about it is suddenly losing control of Amanda and she looks down to see the tail of the Alien break through her chest! That means if you hear it nearby you’ll need to find somewhere to hide or set up a distraction.

The Alien is well designed and uses the games artificial intelligence to learn your patterns, which is really cool (but terrifying). If you keep hiding in lockers the Alien will check them first when looking for you. Same goes for hiding under desks or in cabinets. It’s a clever mechanic and doesn’t feel unfair, it’s something that adds a bit more tension to proceedings. The amount of times I was hiding somewhere only to see the Alien slowly stalk passed outside, I was literally holding my breath.

As someone who doesn’t really like horror games with jump scares (I survived about 20 minutes of Outlast before turning it off and let’s not mention P.T…) I found this to be a great experience. The issue I had was that it was so intense I could only play an hour or so at a time. Which is why it’s taken me months to finish it (apologies @lefty_flip!). And that brings me to my main complaint about the game, it’s length. It is quite rare these days for a game to be too long but unfortunately Alien Isolation out stays its welcome by a good few hours. Clocking in at around 20 hours, it was just too draining. Also a few of those missions before the game ramps up at the end really felt like filler and there was a lot of ‘go to this door, try the handle, power’s out, track back across the map to turn it back on, and return to the door’ type stuff. And all the while you’re being hunted by an AI clever Alien. It just felt too long.

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The other issue was that the game lost any suspense when failing areas. If you could get through them on your first or second attempt it was an exhilarating ride. However repeated deaths led to instances where you ended up just running here and there with pinpoint accuracy. I’m not really sure what the solution would be for that but it definitely shattered the carefully crafted illusion of the game on several occasions for me.

I quite liked the story but there were a few issues and the ending seemed to have a few gaping plot holes, which had me reaching for the internet. The characters felt quite well formed and Ripley herself was a decent protagonist. Even though I knew from the films what had happened to Ellen Ripley it still felt interesting and important when Amanda discovered new pieces of information.

In addition to the main campaign there is also Survivor mode, whereby you attempt to escape through levels as quickly as possible while doing optional side objectives to increase your score. You are given a time limit (30 minutes for example) in which to escape and the whole thing feels even more claustrophobic than the campaign. Having a timer running in the top corner adds even more pressure. I couldn’t even beat the first of these challenges so I suspect they are for more hardened/skilled players or people looking to play more of the game without replaying the story.

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It has been years since the last decent Alien game – Alien Trilogy on the PlayStation (1996) and Alien 3 on Sega MegaDrive (1993) come to mind as stand out titles – but Alien Isolation is the best we’ve had for a long time. It captures the feel of that first film perfectly and while it has some issues with plot and overall length, this is recommended – especially if you’re a fan of the Alien universe.

Rating: 8/10

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Aliens: Colonial Marines – Review (PS3)

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Aliens: Colonial Marines has been in development for so many years it almost became a running joke. And then over the last 12 months Gearbox and SEGA really got to grips with the game and showed off some pretty stunning demos at trade events.

Set after the Aliens film and before/during the events of Alien 3, Colonial Marines sees you take control of Cpl. Winter as a group of Marines make their way to the ship U.S.S Sulaco and, later in the game, LV-426 (the planet Aliens takes place on). Their mission is to find and rescue the missing Ripley, Hicks, Newt and Bishop.

So the set up is kind of cool and as someone who loves the second Aliens movie I was really looking forward to finally going on another ‘bug hunt’. Sadly, what follows is a 5 hour trudge through a lot of similar looking corridors with a few open sections to break things up.

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Graphically the game just looks like a pale shadow of what was shown before release. Even if that was on a maxed out PC I’d expect the PS3 version to get somewhere close, look at Battlefield 3 for example. Colonial Marines can look good in places but lacks the polish and lighting of the pre-release stuff we saw.

The AI is quite bad and becomes more noticeable in co-op play because on several occasions all the enemies just targeted ‘Player One’, ignoring the other Marines entirely. For a large chunk of the game you’re fighting human soldiers as opposed to Aliens and it’s just not that fun.

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My main complaint with Aliens: Colonial Marines is the hit detection on the shooting. So many times I scored a direct hit with the red dot sight, only for it not to register at all. It makes the shooting so frustrating because I never felt fully in control of the weapons.

Sadly this also makes it way over to multiplayer, which is even more infuriating. The amount of times I was killed by another player while spraying bullets into them was ludicrous and made the online side of things a disappointment.

It’s not all bad, it has to be said. The pulse rifle sound effect is fantastic and the blips of the tracker are cool. I do wish they had used that to better effect though. Just a dash of horror in amongst the shooting would’ve been great. Some of the levels were enjoyable but the least said about the return of a character from the film the better.

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The characterisation and voice acting doesn’t do the game any favours, with more than one character suddenly having an attack of the ‘Cole Phelps‘ and randomly shouting lines when you’re right next to them. Considering how strongly you care about the characters in the Aliens films it’s disappointing to have no connection with the ones from the game.

Unfortunately somewhere along the line (and the events of that ‘line’ are a hot topic – check out Jim Sterling’s recent post) the game has gone backwards since the gameplay we were shown last year. I don’t ever recall seeing a game look so removed from the demos we saw. I know people always say Killzone 2 didn’t quite match up to it’s initial trailer but at least it was close. And the Aliens demos were GAMEPLAY demos, not rendered trailer footage. See below for a comparison video:

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a serviceable first person shooter with some dodgy hit detection. This is not the Aliens game we wanted or even the one were we shown before release. A massive missed opportunity that could’ve started a series of these games.

Rating: 4/10

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Binary Domain – Review (PS3)

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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.

Helped by a motley band of fellow specialists, including the wonderfully comic Big Bo, Marshall must track down the head of a Japanese corporation suspected of producing Hollow Children.

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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Graphically the game is pretty decent and the look of the characters is good, especially Cain – one of the few friendly robots in the game. The controls felt a little sluggish at times for a game that has some fairly frantic action moments. I also encountered a few instances where I just didn’t know what to do to proceed, a few prompts from team-mates may have helped.

Binary Domain is a fairly linear experience in terms of level design and levels are livened up with some on-rails shooting or big boss battles. However the interaction with your squad is clever and their responses to your conversations are interesting to say the least.

While it’s linear in terms of getting from Point A to Point B for each mission, the chats you have with your squad affects the trust they have in you. This trust level can have an effect on the story, leading to a few different variations on the game’s ending. It says a lot about how well implemented this is that I had no idea it was even possible until a few days after I’d finished it, when I was checking some stuff out online.

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Binary Domain seems to be one of the last of a dying breed – the middle ground game between small PSN titles and huge games with massive budgets. We’ve seen a few over the last couple of years – things like Bulletstorm, Singularity or Shadows Of The Damned – and unfortunately it appears these titles just aren’t selling enough to justify people making them.

Which is a real shame – Binary Domain and the titles I mentioned above are games that are definitely worth playing. Certainly Binary Domain may lack the polish of an Uncharted or Dead Space but they showcase some interesting ideas and stories that I’d recommend exploring.

Rating: 8/10

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PS VITA ROUND UP

Well it’s been a few months since the release of the Playstation Vita handheld console and while there is a break in game releases (Resistance Burning Skies hits later this month, while Mortal Kombat will be out by the time you read this) I thought it would be worth going over my thoughts on the device and doing a round up of ‘mini’ game reviews.

Firstly the device itself – ‘Wow’ is probably the most apt description. You genuinely have to play one to see just how amazing the screen is. Screenshots just don’t do the thing justice.

The analogue sticks work a treat – not as responsive as the PS3 ones but bearing in mind they are on a handheld they do what’s required of them.

You have a whole host of non-game stuff as well, Twitter/Facebook/Skype are all supported. Netflix is rumoured to be on the way, along with plenty of other social stuff I’m sure. Near is the one I use the most as it tells you (less interestingly) who is playing what nearby and (more interestingly) is a way to pick up in-game goods or challenges from your friends.

I went for the Wi-Fi model and have had no problems with it. I’m always somewhere with Wi-Fi when gaming online and in a worst case scenario I can tether to my HTC and use that as a Wi-Fi hotspot. I personally don’t see the benefit of 3G at the moment.

And so onto the games!

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MOTORSTORM RC (Download Only)

When I heard about this game and realised it was a cross between Micro Machines and Super Off Road I was stoked. I had no idea just how addictive it would become. The fact you’re constantly reminded of your friend’s times and compared to them means there is great incentive for ‘just one more lap’. The fact you get the PS3 and Vita version for the princely sum of £4.79 just adds to the value of the title.

Rating: 9/10

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UNIT 13

It makes me sad that Sony shuttered the company behind this game but I can understand why – their last few games have been competent but not polished. Unit 13 is no different. A third person shooter focusing on score based, bite-sized missions is a wise move on Vita and this is a great game. Unfortunately it’s hampered by a fairly serious issue – every now and again the game will ‘brick’ your Vita, requiring a hard reset. Very annoying. However the fact that despite that I persisted with Unit 13, aced every mission, earned myself a platinum trophy and loved playing it hopefully gives an indication of how highly I rate it.

Rating: 9/10

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UNCHARTED: GOLDEN ABYSS

The poster child for the Vita. Great graphics and great gameplay. The proper voice acting and motion capture, just like the PS3 games. Bend Studios have previous – the Syphon Filter and Resistance games on PSP they did were some of the highlights of the handheld’s output – and they have done a fantastic job on this. The only issue I had was with the pacing in the first half. It was far too ‘stop start’ for my liking, with minimal interaction before triggering another cut scene. That improves greatly in the back end of the game and the second half was a blast.

Rating: 9/10

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FIFA SOCCER

FIFA on the go? Yes please! Whilst this is based more on PS3’s FIFA 11 than FIFA 12 this is still the best football game on a handheld by miles. Essentially the full game in the palm of your hand, this boasts the career mode and plenty more beside. The gameplay is just as good (though based on FIFA 11 remember) and the graphics are pretty good, despite some dodgy stuttering in the opening cut scenes. Looking forward to the refined FIFA that will no doubt appear when FIFA 13 turns up. Cross platform play/saves? Don’t rule it out.

Rating: 8/10

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RAYMAN ORIGINS

I’m not generally a big fan of platforming games but Rayman Origins is a wonderful title. Visually stunning and with some inventive game mechanics this is a must have for people that enjoy this genre. I’d certainly recommend non-platform fans to at least give it a try as well.

Rating: 8/10

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VIRTUA TENNIS 4

Probably one of the best looking games on the Vita at launch, Virtua Tennis 4 is everything you’d expect from it’s console big brother. Smooth controls, wacky training mini-games and an indepth career mode mean you’ll be playing this one for a long time.

Rating 7/10

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SUPER STARDUST DELTA (Download Only)

I hadn’t played any of the previous Stardust games on PS3, despite their great reputation. But at just under £7 this seemed like a steal. You control a small ship and must avoid enemies while destroying rock/ice formations as they land on your planet. It’s a twin stick shooter with some great graphics and a competitive leaderboard 😉

Rating: 7/10

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MODNATION RACERS: ROAD TRIP

As much as I enjoyed the PS3 version of Modnation Racers I feel United Front Games have dropped the ball somewhat with the Vita version. The game looks fine and actually controls a little better than the PS3 one but the fact that you can’t set times offline and have them uploaded when you’re next online (like Motorstorm RC, Super Stardust Delta et al) is a real shame. For someone like me who is mainly offline that really makes me less inclined to play it.

Rating: 6/10

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F1 2011

Formula 1 for the Vita is a bit of a mixed bag – when in full flow on a wide open track the game is great. However when you’re at lower speeds or there are a lot of other cars around the graphics take a big hit. It’s a shame as this seems like it might just be a port of the PSP title upscaled, rather than being linked more to the PS3 version. There is a robust career mode which should keep you entertained but I can’t help feeling you might be better off waiting for the next F1 Vita game, which hopefully may make more of the console’s abilities.

Rating: 6/10

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LUMINES

As part of the recurring theme for a lot of these games, Lumines is a game I wouldn’t normally play at home but, like Super Stardust Delta, really seems to suit portable gaming. It’s a music-based puzzle game that requires a great deal of thought if you’re to do well. As someone who isn’t into puzzle games I found this challenging – challenging but fun.

Rating: 7/10

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HUSTLE KINGS (Download Only)

A port of the PS3 version of the game (buying either version gets you both, which is cool) Hustle Kings is a nice pool game with lots of different modes and some interesting features. I hadn’t played the PS3 version but after trying the Vita demo I grabbed this as a title that is great to play when I only have 10 mins spare.

Rating: 7/10

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EVERYBODY’S GOLF

I thoroughly enjoyed Everybody’s Golf on my PSP a few years back but once all the courses were done there wasn’t much in the way of replayability. Thankfully as well as a great set of single player events the Vita version takes advantage of the devices online capabilities to give you daily online tournaments to take part in. Getting involved in these will see you rise (and fall) in the World rankings – addictive!

Rating: 9/10

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WIPEOUT 2048

Wipeout 2048 is one of those games that you can use to show off how gorgeous the screen is on your Vita. The sense of speed is impressive and this is Wipeout as you know it, although as it’s set in the early days of the Wipeout universe it might be the first time you’ve seen these ships race on grass 😆 You can connect and race against people that playing the Vita or PS3 version and I can confirm there are no issues on that front – it works as described. The killer here unfortunately are the load times. Apparently these are being patched but it just takes too long to get into a race. It’s a big issue, especially for a handheld game where your time might be limited.

Rating: 8/10

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So anyone else out there with a Vita? What do you think of these games so far? What else is on your radar for the device?

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Alpha Protocol – Review (PS3)

Obsidian Entertainment had been promising to bring us a whole new experience with their espionage RPG Alpha Protocol. A delay from October 2009 until May of this year sparked panic as to whether the game would live up to expectations. So how does the game stack up?

Let’s start with the negatives, because Alpha Protocol has felt the wrath of a few reviewers and while I feel some points are justified the overall response seems harsh to me.

Alpha Protocol is glitchy – there is no other way of describing the game. In one of the opening levels an enemy I needed to kill to clear the area and move on got stuck in the wall and I was unable to damage him, leading to a frustrating reload of the game.

Even worse than that was when a certain event didn’t trigger at the checkpoint, I was left wandering round the level with no idea what was going on or what I’d missed. The icing on the cake of that glitch is that it’s linked to your game save so you’d have to play through the whole 40 minute mission again 😥

As a quick aside anyone who is planning to or already is playing Alpha Protocol, for goodness sake run more than one save file!

The enemy AI isn’t great and at times seems completely insane but to be honest the game isn’t about the challenge of the enemies, it’s more about you and your choices of how to take enemies down.

The controls are pretty appalling. Just all round janky and not very user friendly. I stumbled my way into the odd death here and there just from bad control design but overall it was more of a pain in the ass than a game breaker.

So from reading those initial negative points you may be thinking you’ll give Alpha Protocol a miss, that it may be too annoying to play through? Well in my opinion that would be a mistake. And here’s why.

The game Alpha Protocol reminds me of the most? Heavy Rain.

Unlike a game such as God Of War 3 or Mafia II where your character’s destiny is pre determined and you are playing through *their* story, with Alpha Protocol you are creating your own version of Michael Thornton’s life.

And the choices you make have serious repercussions down the line. Whether that is mission choice or just the way you interact with other characters.

For example one of the characters on the box art I never even met because I had enough intel from other missions to intercept my target and never had to do that character’s mission.

You even have the chance after most of the boss battles as to whether you spare or kill your enemy – a choice which can cause ripples through the game.

In an absolute touch of genius Obsidian sets up standard spy genre scenarios – do thing A or thing B. In movies and some games you would do A and then have a dramatic crack at B, ending in success. Not so here – you can really only do one of them, as I found out with some unfortunate consequences.

The interaction with other characters via conversation is well handled, with you choosing a style of response (professional/flirty/agressive etc) rather than a set line of dialogue. The best aspect of this system is you only have 3 or 4 seconds to choose or the computer goes with whatever the cursor is highlighting. So no more sitting pondering what would be the best answer. I’d like to see more games tackle conversation in this way as it felt pretty dynamic and made you make snap decisions.

The story is much of a muchness – secret agent gets double-crossed and goes rogue (the Alpha Protocol of the title) in an attempt to clear his name/get the truth out there.

You can level up your character in various abilities (stealth/guns/hacking/martial arts etc) to help you along the way which means most people are likely to get a different experience during their time with the game.

In my comparison to Heavy Rain one thing I noticed about Alpha Protocol was that it was a bit more daring than Quantic Dream’s title in that Heavy Rain often gave you multiple attempts to get out of a situation. Whereas Alpha Protocol was a lot more realistic in it’s execution of the story. Once you make a choice it’s done – there is no going back.

Alpha Protocol is one of those rare games that after I finished I found myself thinking on in the days afterwards. Pondering my choices and the fact that on more than one occasion my actions led to the death of a character. That to me is the sign of a great game experience – regardless of whether the controls are off or that the enemy AI isn’t that great. In giving the game a rating I can’t forget those problems but I can most certainly forgive them.

Rating: 8/10

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Vanquish – Demo Impressions (PS3)

 

I’ve seen various trailers and bits ‘n pieces on Vanquish over the last few months but it never really grabbed hold of me.

For a start it looked far too crazy with so much happening onscreen I was concerned I’d struggle to play it.

Then I found out it’s made by Platinum Games who made Bayonetta, which caught my attention. So I downloaded the demo not really knowing what to expect.

And what I got was a pretty hardcore third person shooter. My concern about too much onscreen at once was dismissed within the first five minutes – when you’re playing the game you just deal with whatever’s thrown at you and it was no trouble.

The game looks great, although the voice acting is cheesy as hell. I enjoyed the combat and the ability to momentarily slow down time is great and helps to make sure you aren’t too overwhelmed by enemies.

If all this sounds very familiar it’s because Vanquish is basically the exact same game as Bayonetta – except they’ve changed the environment and concentrated more on gunplay. And that isn’t a bad thing.

Obviously this impression is based on the demo so it may be slightly different and varied in the final game but the demo has hooked me in. While Vanquish isn’t a day one purchase for me, it’s certainly a title I’ll be looking to get hold of at some stage.

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Bayonetta – Review (PS3)

In Bayonetta you play as a witch who was awakened 20 years ago from a slumber at the bottom of the lake. You have no memory or idea of who you are but with the help of an informant (Enzo) you start off on a supernatural quest to discover your identity.

Along the way you’ll be fighting angels and celestial beings as you work your way through various dimensions.

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

That doesn’t always mean it’s easy though – quite the opposite – as the game throws various enemy types with different attack patterns at you all at once.

Speaking of difficulty, Bayonetta is possibly the most frustratingly hard game I have played for a long time. And that’s on ‘Normal’. 😮 Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the game and it’s a lot of fun but there were a few sections that just felt unforgiving and after an hour of trying to beat the final boss I ended up having to reduce the difficulty to finish the game. 😦

The story and dialogue, quite frankly, is insane and half the time I didn’t know what the hell was going on. However most of the time I had a smile on my face and I’d rather have a crazy game with imagination than a bland one.

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

Yes you read that last bit right… her HAIR is her costume that can also turn into giant demons. 😕 😆

And that’s not to mention ‘Witch Time’, which is essentially bullet time, activated when you dodge an attack at the last second and can lead to some spectacular attacks on enemies.

One thing I wasn’t keen on was the mixed messages from the game regarding Bayonetta herself. Often portrayed as a sexual object, at times the overtly sexual movement of the character made me cringe – this is clearly a game made by men but while Bayonetta is always meant to be a kick ass heroine she is also there to be ogled by the player.

Tied into that is the fact that at times the dialogue stumbled in ‘Carry On’ territory and what we end up with is a game that’s aware of it’s sexual content and is mainly tongue in cheek but at times that aspect of the story/game just felt like a wrong turn.

Overall Bayonetta is not a game for the feint hearted gamer – this is a real challenge. If you’re looking for a hard, but immensely fun, slog of a game then this could be for you.

You’ll have no idea what’s going on (I ploughed around 15 hours into the game and after finishing it had to search online to work out what had actually happened during all those hours :lol:) but that doesn’t really matter – Bayonetta is all about the combat and the combat is awesome.

Just remember… Dodge is your friend.

Rating: 8/10

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Aliens Vs Predator – Review (PS3)

 

I’d been looking forward to Aliens Vs Predator for quite a while and having had a (brief) hands on at Eurogamer last year I was pretty excited to finally pop the disc into my PS3.

Sadly what followed didn’t live up to my high expectations.

Let me begin by saying Aliens Vs Predator is not a bad game. It’s decently sized (around 9 hours) and well paced. The story is ok and you get to experience the campaign from 3 totally different perspectives.

So why the disappointment?

As insane as it sounds I think Rebellion gives the player too much control over the characters – and by that I mean in terms of what you can do and how, often, it’s damn awkward to actually pull off.

Playing as the Alien holding down R2 allowed you to traverse walls and ceilings, which of course in theory is awesome but the reality was basically me ending up completely confused as to where I was. Or more importantly where my prey was.

As the Predator it’s often hit and miss as to whether you can jump to a higher ledge and it felt like you had to be in a hidden ‘sweet spot’ before you could jump up to ledges. Very annoying when trying to escape oncoming attacks and when you can see the Predator would blatantly be able to jump such a paltry distance… but the game won’t let you.

The Marine campaign didn’t really suffer in this respect as it’s a standard ‘bug hunt’ so to speak. I enjoyed this the most as Rebellion have done a great job recreating the feel of the films.

The balancing of the species is handled really well, each feeling suitably powerful but having their vulnerabilities. The times when it worked with Alien or Predator it was very satisfying but more often than not the controls/mechanic let it down.

Playing a game like this you want to feel empowered but not invincible – Batman: Arkham Asylum did this almost to perfection last year, here half the time it’ll bodge what you are trying to do and you’ll end up just killing everyone in the fallout.

The multiplayer has severe connction issues but if you can get a game it’s quite good fun. Problem being 9 times out of 10 I couldn’t get a game and was stuck with a ‘searching for games’ screen for 10 minutes at a time.

All three campaigns have their moments of brilliance and Alien Vs Predator, while frustrating at times is a fun game to play through – especially if you are a fan of the films.

Rating: 6/10

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Yakuza 3 – Demo Impressions (PS3)

 

Having already played a couple of hours of the first Yazuka game back on PS2 I had an inkling of what to expect from this demo.

I suspect if you went into it with no knowledge you may find Yakuza 3 to be completely insane.

Basically the game puts you in control of Kazuma – one of the chairman of a family in the Japanese mafia.

The demo drops you into the story at an unspecified point – to be honest I didn’t have a clue what was going on and the lengthy in game discussions didn’t make much sense without context.

I enjoyed the demo and found the combat, in particular, to be very strong. Your standard light, heavy and grapple attacks are supplemented by a wonderful option to pick up various bits of random scenery (traffic cones/bicycles etc) that can be used as a weapon.

There was also the opportunity to indulge in some karaoke with a female companion via a series of button related rhythm mini games. It was a bit weird but shows the variation the game holds.

It took a while to get used to the controls and camera angle in places but overall this was good fun and I’d certainly say to people try the demo to see if you’re interested.

I’m not sure how much impact the story has from the first two games (as in whether or not you’d need to play them) but this could be a nice title to pick up when the game release schedule slows down in the summer. I probably won’t be buying this upon release but I may be tempted further down the line.

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Bayonetta – Demo Impressions (PS3)

Bayonetta is a bit of a weird one. I was never a fan of the Devil May Cry games, although the first was a good game, and this looked like more of the same.

I played a bit of it at the Eurogamer Expo and it was certainly one I thought I’d try out when it’s released in January 2010.

Then the reviews starting coming in – lots of high scores and in particular two extremely high scores: 40/40 in Japanese mag Famitsu and 10/10 in Edge magazine. Two magazines that are famous for not dishing out high scores unless games really deserve them.

Well having had a chance to sit down and explore the demo I’m very impressed.

There seems to be a huge amount of combos with various weapons involved – not sure if these will be available from the start but they are in the demo – which for the most part appeared by luck until I learnt the combos 🙂

I haven’t played a button masher of this type for quite a while so it was nice to get involved in a game with so much going on at once.

You can build up powerful ‘super’ attacks which are brilliant and come with a touch of humour as well – unsurprising in a game that has the main character’s hair double up as her outfit! 😆

First impressions are good – still not 100% sold on this being one to pick up immediately upon release though.

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