Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Review (PS4)

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Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know about my love for the Uncharted series. Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan remains one of my favourite game characters of all time and the dynamics of the relationship between Nate and Elena, among others, keep me coming back title after title. But after the release of Uncharted 3 and a teaser trailer for the fourth instalment, it was all change at developer Naughty Dog – the driving force of the series Amy Hennig left and The Last Of Us team took over the reigns. The game was rebooted and reimagined. So could they continue the good work laid out in the previous games?

The Last Of Us had a huge impact on the gaming landscape both in terms of design and character development in games. The concern from some corners was that the devs might make Uncharted too ‘serious’. I don’t feel that happened and, actually, I believe toning down a few sections really helped the characters shine. Uncharted 4 still has the bombastic, action filled set pieces I’ve always loved but now includes a few options to use stealth for battles if desired. There are still plenty of one liners and quips but also real conversations and moments of downtime. It’s a slow start compared to other Uncharted games but I think it benefits the game in the long run.

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The story this time is your typical ‘one last job/coming out of retirement’ fare, all based around the reappearance of Nate’s long thought dead brother, Sam. For me, Sam was an interesting character but led to a few issues with the overall Uncharted universe. I don’t recall him having been mentioned much previously but if you ignore the ‘retcon’ of back story and just enjoy the plot it isn’t too much of an issue.

Graphically the game is a powerhouse, I’ve not seen anything like it and it’s definitely one of those games (like Driveclub or Star Wars: Battlefront) that you can use to show off what a PS4 can do. Gameplay remains largely the same, lots of climbing and firefights, although the addition of the grappling hook also gives you a lot more freedom of movement to escape from (or rush to) enemies. The AI of the enemies seems much improved and there were a few occasions that felt genuinely challenging on the Normal setting.

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I was a little disappointed that Greg Edmonson didn’t return to score but I guess the new Uncharted Naughty Dog team wanted to put their own stamp on things. Henry Jackson’s score does the job and the opening theme does hit home as expected. The voice acting is, as always, truly superb. Additionally the facial capture is among the best I’ve seen, able to capture subtle expressions of thoughtfulness or glee. Newcomers Laura Bailey and Warren Kole (as Nadine and Rafe, respectively) delivered two more great characters to the series. Rafe might actually be one of my favourite all time videogame villains.

I’ve always enjoyed the shooting in these titles and Uncharted 4 delivers again, with various weapons all feeling different to handle and having a decent heft to them. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the hand to hand combat. Taking a more Last Of Us direction meant that close quarters fistfights became a mess of button mashing and hoping for the best. There were also a few sections when climbing that weren’t immediately clear on direction and I ended up falling to my death. Having said that, at least it added some (small) stakes to climbing, which hadn’t happened in previous instalments.

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Multiplayer is back and bigger than ever, with fast paced action set around a few core modes. Uncharted multiplayer has always been a bit ‘Marmite’ but I’ve always enjoyed the fun nature of it and this game really ramps things up by introducing computer controlled side kicks and mystical abilities based on items from the series. This feels like a good move to me, the game thrives on the magic artefact theme so why not lean into it for multiplayer? Players remain a touch bullet-spongy, again not an issue for me but others may not like that style of combat. The grappling hook also comes into its own here and it’s very satisfying to take out a human opponent from up high!

I don’t want to go into detail about the story but I will say it was the most enjoyable one in the series for me. Uncharted 2, with its triple-crossing, pulp action comes a very close second but the character development in 4 is truly great. They have the benefit of this being the final game, which allows them the luxury of tying up some loose ends and I’ll finish this short section on the story by saying, as someone heavily invested in the series and characters, that I was really pleased as the credits rolled – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a great way to wrap up the series.

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Another stellar title in the series then, as Naughty Dog continue their amazing run of games on PS4. With the increase of players on Playstation this generation lots more people will get a chance to experience Uncharted’s special brand of treasure hunting. If you haven’t already picked this up, I’d really recommend you do.

Rating: 10/10

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You’re Playing It Wrong Or: How Ratonhnhaké:ton Helped Me Enjoy Games Again

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As things have developed for me over the last year or so, both professionally and personally, I have found myself having a little less gaming time than before. For one, as I creep into my mid 30’s, I just don’t have the energy to game until 1am or 2am like I used to. Add to that mix having children (no daytime gaming at weekends), the fact that I’ve been watching more TV & reading more books and it’s easy to see why. So am I in danger of giving up on my favourite hobby?

Nope, far from it, in fact. While my time has been cut down a bit, I’m actually enjoying games more than I have for a long time. A decision I made last year about this blog was that I wouldn’t rush through games just for the sake of getting a review up quickly. I’ll review games as and when I finish them, which eases the unconscious pressure a review deadline can bring. What has happened is that over the last few years my gaming style has changed from mainlining most games (just sticking to the main plotline) to fully delving into the wonderful worlds created by game devs. And in the last 6 months the scales have finally tipped fully in favour of exploration.

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Let’s rewind a little bit though as I can tell you when and where this all started, in the American Northeast back in 1754 – 1783. Or more precisely November 2012 while playing Assassin’s Creed III. There’s no nice way to say it but despite a few clever touches Assassin’s Creed III is the worst entry in the series of games. It starts strong but quickly loses its way after an interesting plot twist. The main character Connor, or Ratonhnhaké:ton to give him his real full name, was a whiny, uninteresting protagonist and midway through the game it became a slog that I simply wasn’t enjoying. But instead of either ploughing through until the end or giving up and playing something else, I took a road very much less travelled (at least by me)… I started doing side quests. Even hunting missions, stalking animals and taking them out. Next time I played the game I spent 45 mins doing side stuff, played a main mission and did a few more side bits before logging off. And suddenly over the next few weeks I found myself really enjoying the game! Sure the main story missions were still fairly terrible but by breaking things up with side quests they were a lot more palatable.

Don’t get me wrong, in some of the bigger/more interesting game worlds (Fallout, Bioshock, Red Dead Redemption, The Last Of Us, GTA and the like) I have often explored the environment but those games were few and far between and while playing titles like Assassin’s Creed, Hitman, L.A. Noire or Mafia II I would usually just play the story missions and do one or two side missions. And some games don’t require you to do anything but the main story, titles like Uncharted or Killzone, which is great and I love those games also.

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It’s just that even with less time to play I find that I’m drifting in between story and side quests in a lot of titles. I’m currently breaking my own ‘only-have-two-singleplayer-games-on-the-go-at-once‘ rule spectacularly by taking on Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor, Alien: Isolation, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Far Cry 4. None of these are small games but whereas before I would’ve burned through something like Shadow Of Mordor, I now soak up the world and enjoy simply being in it and travelling through it. It also helps in that specific case to have the nemesis system which helps keep the world feeling ‘alive’ and constantly changing. Far Cry 4 is another good example in that I’m more than happy to do a few side quests on the way to main mission sometimes. And I think a huge amount of credit has to go to developers for finding that balance between sparse pointless side quests and overloading the player with map icons in a lot of recent titles.

There are of course exceptions, I really enjoyed Infamous: Second Son but the world felt so… quiet. With side quests that were minimal and not that interesting, it left the game feeling empty a lot of the time. From the little I’ve played of Assassin’s Creed: Unity it seems to have the opposite problem. You can barely see the map for a flood of different icons (see below) and the kicker with that seems to be that when you try to do some of the side missions they are actually locked in the game until you sign up for some Ubisoft service or companion app. But that is a conversation for another time.

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I think it’s interesting that my gaming habits have gone in completely the opposite direction to how I would’ve expected. As my time playing decreased I would’ve thought I would be avoiding side quests just to get through and finish titles. Don’t get me wrong, even my reduced game time is probably still more than a lot of people that play games so I will still be completing a lot of games, I guess it’s kind of the best of both worlds? Perhaps stepping out of the review ‘arms race’ has given me a new perspective? Regardless, the simple fact is I’m playing less but enjoying it more – I believe quality over quantity is the correct term and its great.

Have any of you noticed any changes in your gaming habits over time – have you followed the same pattern as me? Or even gone the other way? I look forward to hearing in the comments below.

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Top 100 Single Player PS3 Games: Part 10 (The Top 10)

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Well I can’t believe we finally made it – after such a great selection of titles comes the ultimate 10 games to round out the Top 100.

Before we go any further I must mention a few titles that I have played since compiling this list that would take a spot in the Top 100 so I will list those below and add to this as and when new, great titles emerge:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • DmC (Devil May Cry)
  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist

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

Part One (100-91)

Part Two (90-81)

Part Three (80-71)

Part Four (70-61)

Part Five (60-51)

Part Six (50-41)

Part Seven (40-31)

Part Eight (30-21)

Part Nine (20-11)

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

And now here’s the Top 10!

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10. Mass Effect 2

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

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

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

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9. Bioshock Infinite

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Moving the action from Rapture’s underwater city up into the skies above, Infinite is set in Columbia – a floating city that has broken away from the US to become the master of it’s own destiny. This all takes place in 1912 – decades before the events of the original Bioshock.

You play as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent, who has found himself saddled with financial problems due to his love of gambling. To clear his debt he is tasked with one simple mission. Get to Columbia and bring back a girl called Elizabeth.

Bioshock Infinite is such a well designed game and you can tell a whole lot of care went into the crafting of the world. The opening is fantastic and gives you a little bit of time to explore and take part in the optional tutorial exercises if you want to.

The story here is one of the best this generation and is handled with a soft touch, which makes a refreshing change from being beaten over the head with simple plot points like some other titles do. The last half an hour of Bioshock Infinite is some ride and as the credits rolled I was busy trying to work everything out. Great stuff.

Bioshock Infinite is one of those games that I wanted to start again as soon as I’d finished it. I definitely want to jump back in soon so I can experience it all again and, hopefully, fill in any gaps in the story by grabbing all those audio logs and whatever else I can find.

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8. Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Game

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In The Walking Dead you play as Lee Everett, a university professor on his way to prison for murder. After your car crashes, you meet an 8 year old girl, Clementine, who is alone because her parents are out of town and her babysitter… well I won’t say any more 🙂 . Lee takes her under his wing and they try to get somewhere safe and work out what the hell is going on.

The Walking Dead is a point and click adventure game, which means while you’ll have some freedom of movement you’re limited to small areas and different objects to interact with. Mainly you’ll be talking to the other characters and learning about the group of people you’ve ended up banded together with. And this is where the game shines.

I can’t praise this game enough. It’s a different style of game to what I would usually play and through the excellent characters and writing Telltale have delivered an emotionally charged and superbly crafted story that will likely leave you with a lot more emotional baggage than when you started. Play it. Now.

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7. Journey

I’m not going to discuss any story elements or really any gameplay elements here for fear of spoiling the game for anyone. What I will say is that Journey plays wonderfully and is very easy to control. It’s taxing at times in terms of challenge but this is a game that has been made to be played through to the end.

The game actually did a great job of conveying emotion and, in fact, of making me feel something for the characters and world.

I will leave it at this: Journey is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had. Ever. Everyone should give this a shot, it may just change the way you look at games.

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6. Fallout 3

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

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

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

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

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5. Heavy Rain

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

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

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

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

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

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4. Dead Space

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

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

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

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

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3. The Last Of Us

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Released only a few months ago, The Last Of Us tells the story of Joel and Ellie as they traverse a parasite-infected United States. 20 years ago a fungal infection spread to humans, causing the death of around 60% of mankind.

The people left are doing whatever they can to survive and Joel is tasked with getting Ellie outside the quarantine zone and to a resistance group.

Tense encounters and a lack of ammo make gameplay feel physically draining and added to that is some of the best writing and acting on the PS3.

I truly feel all of the characters are so well fleshed out that it’s hard not to be impressed. The Last Of Us is one of the best games I’ve ever played.

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2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

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

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

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

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

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1. Red Dead Redemption

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

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

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

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

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

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So there you have it – the end of the road in terms of the Top 100!

What would be your best game of the PS3 generation?

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The Last Of Us – Review (PS3)

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The Last Of Us takes place 20 years after the outbreak of a fungal virus that wipes out most of mankind. The virus is a brain parasite that turns it’s victim into a violent psychopath and then eventually mutates them beyond recognition.

As you might imagine, it doesn’t take long for the world as we know it to disappear. Bands of survivors stick together and are either on lockdown in heavily militarized camps or left to fend for themselves outside of the quarantine zones.

You play as Joel who, along with his associate Tess, smuggles goods between the zones – for a price. When a deal goes south and the only way to rectify it is to take on another job, Joel and Tess end up being asked to smuggle a 14 year old girl, Ellie, out of the zone and to a resistance group.

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And I will leave it there story-wise so as not to spoil anything. The Last Of Us has a fantastic story with lots of great twists and turns. Some I saw coming but the majority had me picking my jaw up off the floor when they hit. I would strongly advise not watching too many trailers if possible so you don’t ruin the game for yourself.

The Last Of Us is a third person game but beyond that it’s difficult to give it a genre. Stealth? Definitely. Action? Definitely. Survival Horror? Definitely. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that this isn’t a game for the faint-hearted. This is a visceral, at times disturbing, beast so if you’re not of strong stomach then it might be best avoided. Which would be a real shame because this is a truly exceptional game.

I came out of each play session feeling drained – physically and emotionally. The emotional side was obviously down to the story, superb script and fantastic voice work. The physical side is something that is much harder for game makers to provide, usually done by using jump scares and creating an atmosphere (see Dead Space).

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In The Last Of Us enemy encounters are so tense that even just a couple of opponents was enough to bring a feeling of dread. The amount of times I got through encounters by the skin of my teeth with almost no health left was high and it really gave the game a realistic grounding.

Holding down R2 activates Joel’s listening ability, essentially giving a sonar ping and identifying enemy locations, even through walls. However it only shows enemies that are moving so while very handy it doesn’t give you all the info you need, ala Batman Arkham City, which I think is a good thing. It can also be switched off if you want more of a challenge.

So you’ll hear them coming, take cover, activate listening mode and then formulate a plan. And you have lots of options. While scavenging you’ll find lots of items that can be picked up and eventually put together a different number of ways. Health packs, Shivs, Molotov Cocktails, Smoke Bombs and more can all be crafted to help you out of a jam.

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But you better find somewhere safe to craft them because it’s done in game. The action doesn’t pause as Joel bends down and the crafting menu pops up on-screen. Thankfully crafting itself is just a case of choosing what you want to make and holding X for 4 or 5 seconds until it creates it. 4 or 5 seconds is a long time during a firefight though…

As you progress through the game you encounter different enemy types. Sometimes it’s the infected, which also come in different stages of infection: Runners are newly infected – screaming, lunging balls of fury and madness. Clickers are stage two – without sight but with super sensitive hearing, these guys will kill you in one hit if they get too close. Stage three is… well, I’ll let you find out yourself. Other than infected you’ll meet other humans: some military, some fellow scavengers – all doing whatever it takes to survive.

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Graphically the game is outstanding, easily one of the best on the Playstation 3, and just goes to show there is life in the old dog/console yet. Some of the scenery had me just wandering, looking. I don’t recall the last time I played a game at such a slow pace, desperate to drink it all in. I thought I had played Bioshock Infinite that way but compared to this, I was much quicker through Columbia than the wastelands of The Last Of Us.

The audio design is truly fantastic – it has to deliver for the combat to work and boy, does it. The score is wonderful and used superbly. The world feels real because of the great sound work here. Aside from the noise of the world and the sounds of you breaking/using things just the horrible noises that accompany the melee attacks… at times it was almost too much.

And let me touch on that quickly because I feel, while it is a conversation for another day, that The Last Of Us has a very interesting message on violence and delivers it in probably the most mature and subtle way I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s one of many themes throughout the game and they all add up to a great narrative experience.

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But it isn’t all about the story with The Last Of Us. A robust and, most definitely, different take on the usual gaming multiplayer offerings is included. Can the sheer terror of the solo experience be replicated online?

Indeed it can. Naughty Dog have created a really tactical, challenging multiplayer offering. This is definitely not anything like Uncharted online. Here you choose a side to fight for and play through the in-game equivalent of 12 weeks (you can quit out and come back, you don’t need to play it all at once), scavenging for supplies – either from looting objects or the bodies of your victims.

It’s certainly very tactics based as (a limited) version of Listening Mode is available to all and makes for some very tense encounters. I can see myself playing this a lot because it isn’t like much out there in terms of multiplayer. The closest I can think of is Assassin’s Creed and even that isn’t really too similar.

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Overall then, in case you couldn’t guess, I can’t recommend this enough. If you’ve been following any of the game press recently you’ll have seen The Last Of Us get a perfect score from almost all of it reviews. I did wonder whether it really could be that good? The answer is yes.

Rating: 10/10

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Tomb Raider – Review (PS3)

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It’s not often I find myself in a position to make a u-turn on my feelings for a game when I’ve already played some of it and wasn’t keen.

Here’s the main part of my comments on Tomb Raider having played a section at the Eurogamer Expo last September:

I know I joked about it previously but if you only have an XBox 360 and haven’t played the Uncharted games then you’ll love this. Sadly for me, while it plays well, Tomb Raider is just a clone of Uncharted. Hopefully the story will lift this above that status.”

Perhaps a busy exhibition floor wasn’t the most suitable place to experience the game because within 10 minutes of starting Tomb Raider at home I was impressed.

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Graphically the game looks pretty amazing, with good character models and some great lighting and fire effects. Lara’s movement is fairly smooth and animations for both the good guys and enemies are nicely done.

Crystal Dynamics have delivered on their promise of a reboot for Lara Croft. Gone is the Lara of old with the wonky body shape and in her place is a more realistic Lara, both in terms of appearance and character. As a wannabe archaeologist Lara is not a trained hunter/killer and is still wet behind the ears after coming out of college/university.

The opening few hours are definitely the strongest here – Tomb Raider is at its best during tense moments with just one or two enemies. With Lara coming to grips with the fact she’s going to need to do whatever it takes to survive. It’s been talked about a lot but her first kill is handled perfectly.

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Unfortunately it doesn’t take long for Lara to start mowing down 10 or 20 enemies at a time. And it jars more here than it does with something like Uncharted. Possibly because of the tone of the game, I’m not sure but I think if they could’ve found a more creative way to deal with this it could’ve made this one of the best games out there.

The answer isn’t immediately apparent – maybe keep adding new enemy types to keep things fresh but keep the fighting to small skirmishes with just one or two enemies. And then keep that 25 enemy fight for the end of the game? Possibly they could’ve incorporated the great optional tomb puzzles as main quests?

Regardless, on a personal level at least, using the bow for the most part (Lara had studied Archery) and guns as a last resort enabled the disconnect to not be too serious for me.

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Jason Graves (of Dead Space fame) delivers once again with the score and incidental music – this is one of the better scores I’ve heard this year so far. The voice acting is strong and it’s nice to hear so many different local UK accents in one place!

There will no doubt be the inevitable comparisons between Tomb Raider and Uncharted but I think they are different beasts – for now at least. Lara’s origin story is gritty and harrowing. For the most part she is alone, fighting to get her friends back. Nathan Drake spends a lot of time with Sully/Elena/Chloe and that brings with it the opportunity for a few wisecracks and conversation.

In fact the part of the game that felt like Uncharted-lite was the multiplayer – not bad in any sense but the addition of traps isn’t enough to differentiate this from Naughty Dog’s superb online offering. As I said at the top there, if you only have an XBox then you may love this online as it’s different to most stuff out there on the 360.

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Overall though Tomb Raider is a fantastic game. There are a few annoying difficulty spikes here and there but that’s par for the course in most games. Lots of action packed set pieces and climbing/falling moments raise the bar but it’s the quieter moments in Lara’s journey that really struck a chord with me. Considering I wasn’t massively psyched for the game it’s nice to genuinely recommend it as one of 2013’s best offerings so far.

Rating: 9/10

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Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Review (PS3)

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

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

The gameplay is as fluid as ever although the same gripes from the second game do raise their head. The main one being when certain gameplay parts flow (such as a chase or escape scene) they *really* flow but if you fail the section and have to re-do it a few times it totally breaks the immersion for a bit.

This isn’t indicative of Uncharted specifically, any game that is scripted this tightly (for example the Call Of Duty games – in particular I had this issue with the snow sled escape in MW2. I’m sure it was amazing if you got through it in one go – not so much when having to re-do it) often have this problem but it feels so much more harsh here because the game does such a good job of dragging you in.

The banter between characters is fantastic and it is one of the few games I found myself chuckling along with. You can tell these actors have known each other a long time and worked together to build these character relationships.

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

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

I wrote a detailed look at the multiplayer experience during the early access we had (which can be found HERE) and thankfully not too much has changed. Multiplayer really has improved from the last game and the whole experience feels a lot deeper – the medal kickbacks and power plays add a tactical element to proceedings and allow players to quickly escape a sticky situation if they’ve earned the right to.

I’ve seen some reviews of the game picking holes in ‘Drake’s Deception’ and while I admit it doesn’t have the same impact as the last game (how could it?!) Naughty Dog have done a great job on tightening things here and there to deliver a stellar title. We have been spoilt with the last two games in the series, which is why I think some people are a bit down on the game.

For me this is another complete package – the best third person multiplayer on the market coupled with a great story and the best character design you’ll see in a game. While watching the last cut-scene of this campaign I actually had goosebumps – surely the sign of something special.

Rating: 10/10

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

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

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

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PART ONE (50-41)

PART TWO (40-31)

PART THREE (30-21)

PART FOUR (20-11)

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

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10. BIOSHOCK (8)

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

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

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

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9. GRAND THEFT AUTO IV (7)

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

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

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

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8. MASS EFFECT 2 (NE)

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

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

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

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7. FALLOUT 3 (6)

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

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

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

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

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6. METAL GEAR SOLID 4 (5)

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

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

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

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5. HEAVY RAIN (4)

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

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

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

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

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

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4. DEAD SPACE (3)

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

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

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

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

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3. UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE (2)

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

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

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

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2.  UNCHARTED: AMONG THIEVES (1)

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

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

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

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

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1. RED DEAD REDEMPTION (NE)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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