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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Red Faction: Guerrilla – Review (PS3)

As I said in my demo impressions, the main thing I took away from my brief glimpse of the game was how much fun it was.

And the full game is even more of a riot.

I’m beginning to feel that Red Faction: Guerrilla is a bit of an underrated gem. The guy in the game shop actually said to me ‘that is a great game’ when I bought it which is a first.

It’s your basic David vs Goliath battle with the Red Faction resistance (you guys) taking on the evil Earth Defence Force who have taken advantage of their position in power on Mars.

You’ll be tasked with various missions and side missions to weaken the EDF’s stranglehold on the colonies.

Red Faction isn’t a game you can rush through as to unlock the final main mission for each section you’ll need to perform 4 or 5 side missions (or destruct some serious EDF property).

Luckily the side missions are pretty cool and there is enough variety to stop things getting boring.

You could try House Arrest – getting into a building to rescue hostages and escaping with them – or Guerrilla Raid – taking out a specific building for the resistance. If you like driving you could try Transporter, which is essentially a timed race across the map to a safehouse. There is a lot to choose from.

But the main part of the game is the destruction. Buildings fall realistically and weakening them structurally can often mean a delayed collapse.

In one mission I started taking out a smoke chimney/tower from the base and it flashed up ‘destroyed’. I made a run for it, looked back and saw it was still standing. Noticed a few bits falling at the bottom of it as the EDF troops turned up in jeeps and started firing at me. Then, with a massive creak, the entire tower fell sideways in one piece RIGHT on top of the EDF, killing them all! 😎

The weapons are brilliant, ranging from the standard rifle and timed mines to rocket launchers and the superb Nano Rifle – which effectively disintegrates matter. Awesome for making supporting walls/beams disappear from a distance 😆

You can even unlock a jetpack if you get enough currency, which makes getting around a lot easier, even if you can only use it sporadically.

The carnage continues in multiplayer with your usual modes chucked in amongst the falling buildings. A special word goes to the offline multiplayer which is basically a pass the pad and see who can cause the most damage affair – it’s so addictive that you just have to keep playing it!

Overall then I heartily recommend Red Faction. It’s not massively difficult but it has a good solid story and is insanely fun. You can pick this up for about £15 pre-owned in most places and it will be money well spent.

Rating: 8/10

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Top 20 PS3 Single Player Games

Metal Gear Solid 4

Looking back through some old articles I came across this list of the best single player games on PS3: Linkage.

This list was only written in April and yet the time since has probably been the best 6 months of my gaming ‘career.’

Not only have some fantastic solo player campaigns been released but I have also caught up on some single player epics I missed when they came out.

I knew the list needed to be extended and improved, as too many great single player games were missing.

So here you go – the top 10 is now a top 20 and any game from the initial list has it’s original chart position in brackets. You can also check out my full reviews (where possible) by clicking the title of each game:

20. PROTOTYPE

Prototype

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.

 

19. RESISTANCE 2

Resistance 2

After saving England in the previous installment Hale is back in business to rescue the U S of A – since his incapacitation the Chimera have launched a full attack on America and Hale, as part of the Sentinal squad (made up of soldiers injected with the Chimera virus but kept under control), have to step in and stop them in their tracks.

A hard hitting but fun first person shooter.

 

18. MIRROR’S EDGE (10)

Mirrors Edge

Mirror’s Edge wowed everyone with it’s crisp, clean graphics and it’s unique first person perspective.

The view takes a while to get used to and it had a few really annoying parts where it was difficult to time jumps etc because of the view but Mirror’s Edge is certainly worth playing through as it offers a style of gameplay that is totally unique in the current games market.

 

17. RAINBOW SIX VEGAS (9)

Rainbow Six Vegas

If you like your first person shooters with a bit of brain behind the brawn then Rainbow Six Vegas may be the game for you.

With a good old fashioned SAS vs Terrorists style plot and lots of fun set pieces Rainbow Six Vegas is definitely worth a shot.

 

16. RESIDENT EVIL 5

Resi Evil 5

For all it’s faults Resident Evil 5, taken as a whole, is a brilliant game and one that I would recommend. Graphically it’s stunning and while it isn’t a hugely difficult game you’ll enjoy playing through and unravelling the story.

It survives the huge expectation of following Resident Evil 4… just. This is a game that everyone should play as Resi comes to the new generation of consoles.

 

15. KANE AND LYNCH (8) 

 Kane And Lynch

You take control of Adam ‘Kane’ Marcus, a criminal on his way to death row for crimes committed in Venezeula. Kane is busted out of his prison van by a mysterious group called The7 who he worked with previously. They think Kane stole the money from their last job and stashed it somewhere.

If he doesn’t get them the money back in three weeks his wife and daughter will be killed. Kane claims he doesn’t know where it is but he does know who took the cash and will hunt them down. And so begins a thoroughly enjoyable ride into the desperate life of Kane…

 

14. BATTLEFIELD: BAD COMPANY

Bad Company

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.

 

13. HEAVENLY SWORD (7)

 Heavenly Sword Main

Another game that didn’t garner the respect it deserves, primarily because it didn’t live up to the pre-release hype.

If you like God Of War you will like this game as it’s similar in style but it looks gorgeous in HD and I believe did a few bits (combos/blocking etc) better than the first two God Of War games.

12. ASSASSIN’S CREED (6)

AssassinsCreed

In Assassin’s Creed you play through Desmond Mile’s repressed ancestrial memories as Altair in the Medieval Holy Land (with brief interludes as Desmond struggling to find out what is going on in the present day).

You will need to research targets and carry out assassinations using a variety of options – sword, hidden blade, knife etc.

This game is great fun and I’m looking forward to the sequel which is on it’s way shortly.

 

11. GHOSTBUSTERS: THE VIDEO GAME

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters: The Video Game’s plot is essentially the third movie – set in 1991 you’re a rookie who’s been drafted in to help with the ever increasing ghost workload. A huge paranormal blast sets off a chain of events that only one group of guys can deal with…

For me Ghostbusters was a short (5 hour) game that had me chuckling and geeking out despite it’s flaws – it won’t be to everyone’s tastes but it has a good single player storyline.

 

10. KILLZONE 2 (5)

Killzone2 2

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

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

 

9. BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM

Batman

With some wonderful voice acting from the cast of the animated series, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s story moves at a good pace and familiar enemies are used to good effect throughout.

With such a vivid setting and a memorable selection of bad guys from Batman’s career it’s no surprise that Arkham Asylum is such a great game.

Despite the odds being stacked against it, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a quality title that has had a lot of care put into making it. I’d recommend this to anyone.

 

8. INFAMOUS

Infamous

So good it’s the only game this generation I’ve played through twice (seeing it’s rating bumped from 8/10 to 9/10), Infamous is a great game.

You control Cole McGrath, a courier who just happens to be carrying a package containing an electronic bomb when it goes off, devasting the city. Somehow Cole survives and, after coming out of a coma, realises the explosion has given him electrical superpowers.

From there on out the city is your oyster and there is plenty to do as you try to track down the people behind the explosion.

 

7. BIOSHOCK

bioshock

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

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

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

 

6. GRAND THEFT AUTO IV  (4)

GTA IV

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

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

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

 

5. FALLOUT 3

 Fallout 3

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

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

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

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

 

4. METAL GEAR SOLID 4  (3)

Metal Gear Solid 4

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

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

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

 

3. DEAD SPACE (2)

 Dead Space

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

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

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

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

 

2. UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE (1)

Uncharted Drake's Fortune

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

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

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

 

1. UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES

Uncharted 2

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————————————————

So it’s a double for Nathan Drake as he takes the top two spots with his exploration adventures.

With 5 new games in the top ten it’s great to see the wide variety of game styles on offer to PS3 owners these days.

Hopefully people out there will find this list helpful – feel free to drop me some comments below on the games or if you’d have put anything else in the list?

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TOP 10 SINGLE PLAYER PS3 GAMES

There are a great deal of amazing online games you can play with your mates *coughs* Killzone 2 *coughs* 😆 on your PS3.

While these are often really rewarding experiences it’s true that sometimes you just fancy going solo, staying ‘signed out’ and hitting some single-player action. Or you haven’t got the internet (Andrew (@shandation) I’m looking at you).

So for those of you looking for something a bit more story based that you can enjoy on your own here is my list of the top 10 best single player games:

10) MIRROR’S EDGE

Mirror’s Edge wowed everyone with its crisp, clean graphics and it’s unique first person perspective.

Obviously a lot of games have a first person viewpoint but most of these are ‘shooters’ whereas Mirror’s Edge is more of a parkour style run and jump adventure.

The game takes place in a slightly futuristic setting, in a city that is totally controlled by the government. They keep tabs on the general population by using surveillance cameras and tracking all forms of electronic communication.

You take on the role on Faith, a “Runner”, who uses rooftops and other means to help deliver physical messages between revolutionary groups within the city. Following on from a set of dramatic events Faith finds herself being hunted by the authorities and has to try to stop the government silencing her.

The perspective takes a while to get used to and it had a few really annoying parts where it was difficult to time jumps etc because of the view but Mirror’s Edge is certainly worth playing through as it offers a style of gameplay that is totally unique in the current games market.

9) RAINBOW SIX VEGAS

If you like your first person shooters with a bit of brain behind the brawn then Rainbow Six Vegas may be the game for you.

You play as Logan Keller a member of the elite Rainbow Six team. Initially sent into a small Mexican border town to flush out a terrorist ringleader. Soon after your escapades south of the border you’re deployed to Las Vegas where a new terrorist threat is imminent.

This game is a lot more tactical than your average fps, for the majority of the game you’ll have two AI teammates with you who you can order to move into position and even get them to ‘stack up’ (ie get ready to enter) at unopened doors.

And you’ll need all the help you can get. This isn’t an easy game and Ubisoft have gone for a more realistic tone. You’re probably looking at two shots before death and it’s possible for enemies to catch you with a headshot and kill you with one bullet.

Luckily your team mates are pretty intelligent and commanding them isn’t a problem.

With a good old fashioned SAS vs Terrorists style plot and lots of fun set pieces Rainbow Six Vegas is definitely worth a shot.

8 ) KANE AND LYNCH

The first of two, in my opinion, vastly underrated PS3 games that make this list.

While not setting the world on fire and suffering from some control/camera issues Kane and Lynch was a brilliant gaming experience.

You take control of Adam ‘Kane’ Marcus, a criminal on his way to death row for crimes committed in Venezuela. Kane is busted out of his prison van by a mysterious group called The7 who he worked with previously. They think Kane stole the money from their last job and stashed it somewhere.

If he doesn’t get them the money back in three weeks his wife and daughter will be killed. Kane claims he doesn’t know where it is but he does know who took the cash and will hunt them down. And so begins a thoroughly enjoyable ride into the desperate life of Kane…

My full review is available here: https://greghorrorshow.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/lynch-do-this-lynch-do-that-lynch-stop-murdering-the-hostages/

While this game is fairly linear some of the set pieces are really impressive, the bank job and the jailbreak spring to mind immediately as stand out levels.

You can pick this up for as little as £14.99 pre-owned and it’s certainly worth a play through.

7) HEAVENLY SWORD

Another game that didn’t garner the respect it deserves, primarily because it didn’t live up to the pre-release hype.

I played this a while after it came out and wasn’t really effected by the previous hype so I really enjoyed it.

If you like God Of War you will like this game as it’s similar in style but it looks gorgeous in HD and I believe did a few bits (combos/blocking etc) better than the first two God Of War games.

Heavenly Sword tells the story of Nariko, a brutal female warrior whose clan protects the “Heavenly Sword”, a sword from the god’s that actually drains the life from whoever uses it. King Bohan, ruler of the land, wants to get the sword and use it for his own means.

The battles are frantic, often with hundreds of soldiers onscreen at once and the cut scenes have some of the best production values I’ve ever seen.

Heavenly Sword has a great story but is fairly short by game standards – you’re probably looking at around 5-6 hours to finish it however they will be a fun filled few hours!

6) ASSASSIN’S CREED

Assassin’s Creed is the story of bartender Desmond Miles who is kidnapped by a nameless company and awakens to find himself strapped into a machine (The Animus) that unlocks deeply buried memories from Desmond’s ancestors that are intertwined within Desmond’s DNA.

The memory they are interested in is of a man called Altair, an assassin around the year 1191 in the Holy Land.

Effectively you play through Desmond’s memories as Altair (with brief interludes as Desmond struggling to find out what is going on in the present day). You will need to research targets and carry out assassinations using a variety of options – sword, hidden blade, knife etc.

The only problem I had with this game was the initial scouting – you cannot progress into certain areas (your memory is blocked 😮 ) until you have scaled a huge building and surveyed the surrounding area. I found this a bit boring and repetitive however you must stick with the game past this part to get the best of it.

This game is great fun and I’m looking forward to the sequel which is on it’s way.

5) KILLZONE 2

Don’t need to say much about this game really, my review can be found here: https://greghorrorshow.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/killzone-2-review-ps3/

The multi-player is what everyone has concentrated on and rightly so, however the solo mode is definitely worth playing.

The cinematics are brilliant and some of the set pieces really do feel like you’re there.

While it might not have the best storyline ever written if you have a PS3, whether you plan on getting online or not, this is an essential purchase.

4) GTA IV

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

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

The amount of things you can do in GTA IV is mind boggling but never feels overwhelming.

Once you get the hang of the aim and cover systems you will be blasting your way round the city in no time.

This is one of those games you really have to play to believe. The way the world carries on around you, the overheard conversations of other pedestrians, the fact you could play this game for hours experiencing new things without even touching the missions.

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

3) METAL GEAR SOLID 4

Well, well, well. If it isn’t the Magnum Opus of the PS3.

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

Metal Gear Solid 4 is set seven years after the events of the 2nd game (Metal Gear Solid 3 having been a prequel) and sees Snake back in action – but this time as an old man. Because of his accelerated aging process (play the other three games to find out why 😀 ) we find ourselves playing as a hero who is, I suspect, about 60.

Obviously this doesn’t really hamper him too much apart from the odd moan about his back giving him jip 😆 and where the previous games featured mainly stealth, Metal Gear 4 allows you to be a bit more gung ho.

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

One thing about the story is that the cut scenes can be long – and I mean long. Some of them clocked in well over half an hour and obviously that’s a fair while to just sit watching.

But this is one game that rewards those patient enough to stick with it by giving them a great gaming experience, with some memorable boss battles, that they won’t forget.

2) DEAD SPACE

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

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

Full review of the game here: https://greghorrorshow.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/dead-space-review/

Needless to say this was one of the best games I played last year and it deserves to be above both GTA IV and Metal Gear 4 for its storytelling and atmospheric setting.

The use of sound is immense and the fear of the unexpected they create is awesome. I am not a big fan of horror movies or being made to jump all the time but Dead Space kept on the right side of all that by being unpredictable enough to be enjoyable as a ‘horror’ experience.

1) UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE

Nathan Drake, the character you control, is an explorer and treasure hunter.

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

Initial impressions article here: https://greghorrorshow.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/uncharted-drakes-fortune-quality/

I still maintain this is possibly the best PS3 game I have played as an overall experience.

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

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

There is no reason for anyone not to buy this as it’s now in the platinum range (£19.99) and can actually be bought online for as little as £14.99. Get it.. now!

So there you have it.

This list is obviously based on stuff I have played and enjoyed so there are bound to be a few great games missing (Bioshock, which I must get at some stage, Call Of Duty (although again I’ve heard that is stronger in multi-player?) and Resi Evil 5 but I’ve only played a couple of levels of that so far).

I have to give an honourable mention as well to Fallout 3 – I am nowhere near finishing this as the game is absolutely huge with tons to do and lots of different ways for your character to affect the story. If you’re looking for a game to get lost in for ages, as opposed to the usual 8-12 hours, I would give this a thumbs up.

The list above was formed with shorter bursts of gaming in mind and with a view to gamers who’d rather finish a few 10 hour games than start four or five 30+ hour games and never get to the end of them!

Feel free to add any games you’ve enjoyed in the comments that might have been left off the list.

Killzone 2 Review (PS3)

The much hyped saviour of PS3 has been in the works for half a decade and the final game has finally emerged – not blinking into the light like a newborn baby but bursting out armed with a pump action shotgun struggling to fight off the weight of expectation.

Following on from the first Playstation 2 game and Killzone Liberation on the PSP, Killzone 2 picks up the story as the ISA (Interplanetary Strategic Alliance) decide to take the fight to the Helghast on their own planet after the Helgans attempted to invade Vekta, the planet the ISA calls home.

And it dumps you pretty much slap bang in the middle of everything, as anyone who’s played the demo will know.

Unfortunately for you and your ISA buddies the Helghast aren’t quite as beaten as your superiors would have you believe.

So is Killzone 2 as good as, the pretty much universal, top scores it’s received? 😕

Let’s start with the graphics. Yes this is the best looking game I’ve seen – the way the light falls and the smoke effects following explosions are fantastic. The whole game looks amazing and in particular the deaths of the Helghast stick long in the mind with their brilliant motion capture stumbles, slumping to the floor as their legs give way. There are quite a few different animations as well so it doesn’t get too repetitive.

Which brings me on to the sound. The score is superb, wratcheting up the tension as you try and blast your way through another fire fight.

One of the things that got me was the cries of your fallen comrades. You can revive teammates when they fall with a tap of circle next to them. It helps with the feeling of panic as you’re penned in by enemy fire and across from you your buddy is on the floor crying ‘help me! Medic! Please! Help me!’  😦

As well as that the Helghast themselves had some brilliant death groans – and some particularily gruesome screams if you set them on fire. They don’t die instantly from the flamethrower, instead failing around for 8 or 10 seconds desperately trying to put themselves out.:eek: The Helghans also had some good dialogue. It was nice to hear them shout ‘grenade’ as it’s usually just your own side who let you know about incomings!

Which brings me on nicely to the enemy AI. This is easily the most advanced AI I’ve encountered. From the simple (scattering out of the way when a grenade is thrown at them rather than just sitting there waiting for it to go off as usual) to the difficult (flanking you, flushing you out) it’s all done so well that it leads to some genuinely tense fireplay. You’ll need to keep them penned in with cover fire otherwise these guys will actually come and find you – and kill you probably.

The Helghast are not sitting ducks whatsoever. You feel like you earn each kill and the sense of achievement is excellent after a tight skrimish in enclosed conditions. 😎

You also care what happens to your colleagues – I often found myself exacted revenge for fallen buddies, whether it was a main colleague or one of the many army back ups from the bigger gun fights.

The singleplayer campaign is short but sweet – clocking in at just over 8 and a half hours on medium. I found medium to be more than difficult enough for me but that’s down to personal preference. I’d rather get through a game on medium than get annoyed with it from dying too much on hard. As it was I died plenty on medium!

Multiplayer isn’t ‘live’ yet but there is a singleplayer ‘Skirmish’ mode against up to 15 other ‘bots’ for practice. Very cool mode, with a new objective every 5 minutes. So it’ll be assasination (one team protects the other tries to kill) or capture the flag-esque objectives. After 20 minutes a winning faction – Helghast or ISA is announced and you start again. Obviously it was only against bots but they were pretty leathal on Elite setting.

As I mentioned in my previous first impressions the stutter is still there when loading the next section but after the third or fourth level I kind of stopped noticing. Would’ve been much better if this had run smooth all the way through but it’s a small complaint.

I also found my buddy AI improved as the game progressed which had been a gripe in my initial hands on with the game.

One thing I would’ve found helpful is a little bit of direction. On occasion I found myself without a directional marking and no idea what I was supposed to be doing/killing so a friendly ‘it’s over there’ or ‘get rid of the tank’ would have been nice.

Very small picky things which I suppose goes with the territory when looking at something as hyped as Killzone 2.

I’m not sure whether this game will revolutionize first person shooters – there isn’t much here that develops the genre. However it could be something to revolutionize the PS3 itself as it really showcases what a powerhouse the console is.

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

In one particularily frantic battle I ducked into an alcove on the verge of death and a second later a Helghan backed into the entrance. I let off a round into the back of his head and it wasn’t until he fell that I saw he was ISA not Helghast. 😥 It sounds ridiculous but I actually felt my stomach go over a little when I realised what I’d done. That’s how much this game sucks you in.

It’s not perfect by any means but it’s easily the best first person shooter I’ve played and I recommend anyone with a remote interest in this genre to check this out immediately when it’s released on the 27th.

Rating 9/10

Killzone 2 – Initial Thoughts

So I managed to get my hands on a (legal) copy of Killzone 2 yesterday and last night played through the first two levels.

Let’s start off with the bad…

The main failing for me in the game is the stutter as parts of the level load up. Why couldn’t they have just sorted an install on the hard drive like every other game? It’s a minor issue but really when you look at the production values of the game itself it jars with everything else. 😡

Only other thing I had a problem with from my time with it was that while your buddies AI is realistic with taking cover, backing off etc a few times they just stood still in front of me in a corridor. Obviously waiting for me to trigger the next scene but being stuck behind them. (Tip: L1 to melee attack them round the back of the head and they soon move 😀 )

That was it for the gripes and to be honest I think it’s mainly the high expectations the game has set itself that made these stick out.

However Killzone 2 is an absolute blast – I had read how hardcore the enemies are but experiencing it first hand is brilliant.

They take cover, give each other covering fire and actually advance from cover to cover towards you unless you keep them pinned in. 😮

You go in guns blazing and you’re dead. Simple as.

For any sort of accuracy you’ll need the zoomed in view for your gun. The normal view is more for scatter fire and should only be used in close quarters – or panic moments 😆

Obviously mutli-player isn’t up and running yet so haven’t been able to test that out – although I suspect that is where the majority of gameplay will come for Killzone 2.

I thoroughly enjoyed the opening couple of levels and I will hopefully get stuck into this more at the weekend and let you know how things go (spoiler free of course!). 😎

Dead Space – Review

‘In space no-one can hear you scream…’

But in my living room they can.

I’m happy to admit to being a big old scaredy cat when it comes to shocks and jumps. I can take the gore and guts without problem but repeatedly being made to jump is something I find extremely annoying.

So I began Dead Space with positive endorsements all round but a slightly heavy heart with regards to what I was letting myself in for. 😦

It probably would’ve been easier for the game studio to pack this game full of shocks and it still would have been received well. However what they have done is create a tension filled feeling of unease that starts almost as soon as you enter the stranded USG Ishimura.

And it’s that feeling of vulnerability, the pull in your stomach – actually hoping there is a shock around the corner rather than some crazy event that leaves you wondering what the hell is going – that makes this a stand out game for me.

You play as ship engineer Issac Clarke, part of the crew on a repair/salvage spacecraft that is on it’s way to the stricken USG Ishimura, a mining spaceship upon which Issac’s girlfriend Nicole is stationed.

No-one is responding on board so you’ve been sent it to find out what the problem is and see if they need any help.

So far so Sci-Fi, the difference here is that you aren’t a marine or soldier – you’re an engineer. As such you don’t have super-human strength or machine guns, just the tools of the trade. Ok so it’s tools of the trade from the future but nonetheless, it’s not what you”d want (or expect) given the circumstances.

Before I go any further I have to mention the fact that the entire first chapter of this game, and the introductory fmv sequence, is among the best openings I have played in a game. The set up is exquisite and I won’t spoil too much for you within this review.

After entering the ship you become seperated from the rest of your crew, your only communication being over your audio/visual headset.

There is no HUD (Heads Up Display) in Dead Space – your health bar is a strip on the back of your spacesuit and any objectives/information come via hologram projected ahead by your headset.

This makes for a fairly immersive experience. I don’t need to look anywhere other than the action to see how much life I have left – same for ammo, it’s projected just behind the weapon so you can see it as you aim without looking away.

I have often heard Dead Space called ‘Resident Evil meets Alien’ but to be honest I suspect a better description is ‘Resident Evil meets Event Horizon.’

The shocks are broken up by some particularily freakish moments, often involving no input from the player – we merely spectate – as the virus/disease that has hit the ship takes hold. 😐

Another thing I liked about this game was the fact that it also challenged my notion of gunplay. In other games, regardless of whether you’re shooting soldiers in World War 2 or zombies in Resident Evil, a well placed head shot (or two) is sufficient to kill off your enemy. Not so in Dead Space.

Because of the nature of the infected beings you have to dismember them one limb at a time. You shoot it’s head off it still comes for you. You shoot it’s legs off it drags itself by it’s hands to you. 😥

This instills even further panic as you know you’re looking at probably four shots to kill off an enemy. At least with the Plasma Cutter, which is your main weapon.

You also have a glorious weapon called a Ripper which is effectively a circular saw on an extendable rope that you can flail round madly cutting up all and sundry. 😆

Different weapons and equipment can be bought at stores strategically placed throughout the chapters and each of the weapons has a different feel, which is great.

The story is kept fresh with a few twists and turns – along with the introduction of further characters and new enemy types, which helps greatly with the pacing.

There are a few sections of Zero gravity, which show off the game’s amazing physics engine and while these are very well done it was the few moments venturing outside the ship which I found stunning.

As you come outside a clock races down on your back indicating your oxygen level and the sound of the game drops out completely. All you can hear is Issac’s breathing. The view of space at these moments is immense and I often had a mad scramble to get back to the oxygen filled ship after staring too long at the scenery!

Overall Dead Space was one of the best games I played in 2008 and with a playthrough time of under 10 hours is a perfect pick up and play game. Something to run alongside your 40 or 50 hour game of Fallout 3/GTA IV.

I would recommend this to anyone (over 18!) for it’s brilliant gameplay, amazing sound and great storytelling.

Rating: 9/10