Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Top 10 games of the 7th Generation

By Sam Coles:
The 7th generation support is coming to a close and I wanted to take the time to remember the best games of the 7th gen and remember this is my opinion so if you don’t see anything you like on here do not have a fit, if you like it fine but we are not going to have the same opinions so be mature about it.
10. Fable II:
Fable in my opinion isn’t the best RPG, but there was something about Fable II that I liked and they seemed to hit the right spot with this entry. By opening up the world more with large areas, more exploration and lots of loot to find, however it’s this high on the list because Fable is a fairly Vanilla experience and they’ve screwed it up after this entry.
9. Two Worlds II:
Again this RPG series is a very flawed one but the thing that made this game make my list is that this is the way a sequel should be done, by learning from you’re mistakes and fixing the issues from the last game. The issues with the first Two Worlds were legendary with the worst frame rate I’ve seen on the Xbox 360 and laughable voice acting which was like primary school kids acting Shakespeare it was called the poor mans Oblivion. Two Worlds II got rid of those problems by making the world, enemies and items interesting with a stable frame and beautiful environments plus this game still has the most interesting spell system out of any RPG where you can pretty much create anything you want if you think it up.
8. Driver San Francisco:
Driver took a very long hiatus after Parallel Lines back in 06 and then at E3 2011 Ubisoft show us this game which took a new and fresh spin on the driving genre. You play as John Tanner and you’re shortly put into a coma and then are stuck in a dream where you can shift into different cars and assume direct control of that person. So for example you can be in a car chase and if they are too far ahead you can shift into a truck up the road and ram him or her off the road.
7. Call of Duty 4:
Yeah when you say Call of Duty today you hear a heavy sigh from the gaming community, but back in 2007 World War II shooters were over saturating the market (sound familiar) so the guys at Infinity Ward stuck two fingers up and released Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare which was a breath of fresh air. The campaign was paced like a high budget blockbuster Hollywood movie and although clich├ęd it was executed well, with a hateable villain some shocking scenes and great characters. COD 4 also injected life into online multiplayer on consoles especially and especially on the Xbox 360, with its perks, loadouts and interesting game modes. If you still have a 360 or PS3 play COD 4 and where have you been if you haven’t.
6. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
I know, I know I’m going to get pitch forks launched at me with this choice, but I’ve always preferred Oblivion compared to Skyrim, because it felt more of an RPG with the different perks and it didn’t have this modern game design choice of “Play it your way”, so you pick a class and deal with it and work on it, it gave it more focus rather than clutter. Plus I was 13/14 when the game came out and it showed me that games are more than just games, that they can be living, breathing worlds that still live when I turn off my system and my adventurer is still walking through the markets of Cyrodil or battling bandits on the road side.
5. Max Payne 3:
Here is game that is often bashed by fans of the series and I don’t know why because the story was great and yes it was less complicated compared to first two games, but it was performed well with a fresh change in scenery of Brazil rather than the snowy streets of New York. The visuals of Max Payne 3 are beautiful and they still hold up today considering that the game came out in 2012, coupled with the John Woo gun carter action with the noir narration from Max. The game is a blast to play and is super cheap now so pick it up if you still have your 7th gen consoles or PC.
4. Red Dead Redemption:
Yes another Rockstar title and this game smashed it out of the park when it was first released, it successfully made a believable open world set in the wild west mixing popular spaghetti western themes from Fistful of Dollars with some great tension and drama with a complex anti-hero with a troubled past. You really felt that you were traversing the long and hot deserts in and having a gasp of relief as you reach the nearest town as you avoid the scrum bags of the open road.
3. The Witcher 2:
If you know me you know that I love the Witcher from the books to the games, by the way read the books if you like the games. The Witcher 2 introduced a lot of people to a dark and gritty fantasy world that is filled with monsters both supernatural and human alike. You play as Geralt of Riva who is a Witcher which is a monster hunter who has been framed for the murder of the king of Termeria so you must clear your name in this violent world. This is not an easy game it doesn’t hold your hand and you have to figure out things for yourself, coupled with the tight combat mechanics which demands timing and patience.
2. Grand Theft Auto V:
This game was an excellent swan song for the 7th gen of consoles as it pushed the boundaries of what these decade old machines could which squeezed all the juice out of them. Most of us were thinking that “No way could the 360 or PS3 produced these visuals” then the game came out and we were proven wrong. Rockstar again have reinvented the open world genre by including multiple playable characters in the story which open world games are slowly adopting now such as The Witcher 3, Batman Arkham Knight and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. It’s world is a living one where NPC’s will react to you whether it be what car you drive, your clothes or the way you talk to them it feels organic. The environments are varied and lush from the busy city centre, to the vibrant forest and the stretch out deserts.
1. Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots:
This game is very close to my heart as the ending is probably the first piece of video game media that has made me shed a tear as I’ve stuck with the series for years, where you see an old and withered Solid Snake slowly losing his mortality due to his accelerating aging and then collapse after his mission is done. The cutscenes do run longer than usually, but it’s rapping up every loose end in the MGS saga and its Solid Snakes final mission. The gameplay was excellent to with new stealth toys to play with such as the octo camo suit where it would automatically blend in with any surface. This game defines what video game art is.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Grand Theft Auto V PC Review.

By Mina Summers:
·         Enhanced graphics make for a more immersive experience.
·         Killer combo of mouse controls and first-person viewpoint.
·         In-game video capture and editing features.
·         You need an extremely powerful rig and plenty of free memory to run it.
·         Not enough exclusive content.
There were a lot of delays, but the PC version of GTA V is finally here, and it was well worth the wait!
Rockstar initially released their open-world crime epic on last-gen in 2013, then a re-mastered HD version came out on current-gen in 2014, making this the third version of the game. Now, if you are already playing on console, I’m not going to try and convince you that you should spend another £40 on another version of the same game. However, Rockstar have really pushed modern PC hardware to its limit, bringing in yet more visual improvements and have bought in a wave of new features exclusive to the PC version.
Just check the memory requirements and specifications first, this is a big game!
First of all, GTA V is nothing like Rockstar’s previous, disappointing effort. GTA IV was dark and drab, and the storyline was uninteresting to the point that I was unable to play it to the end. It was a fun world to muck around in with your mates, but after a while, players just lost interest, and the PC port did nothing much to get us playing again. This is why, this time around, Rockstar have taken a whole new approach.

The improvements over console are apparent from the moment you hit go (I say go, I really mean after a mind-numbingly long loading screen…). Me being me, I headed straight for the graphics settings to start messing around. GTA V has a suite of graphics options that would make a lot of other PC games blush. There is nothing left to desire here, with both extreme ends of the hardware scale being catered for. For the weaker PCs, bring down the settings for a modest but stable experience, or, for the stronger PCs, crank things up for that crisp, 4K goodness. Whatever your setup, there is a configuration waiting for you (within a certain degree of reason of course.
Jumping into the game, and you’ll see the amount of sweat and blood that has gone into this game. GTA V is absolutely breath-taking. This is Los Santos at its most stunning, and the console versions don’t really come close.

I won’t go too far into the storyline, because most have already seen or heard about it. But for those who are new, here are the basics.
It is a tale of three criminals: Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. Michael is a retired bank robber living a life of luxury with his family in witness protection. Franklin is a streetwise repo man who craves that life of luxury. As for Trevor... Well, he is an unhinged meth dealer with a seriously broken mental compass.
Three different characters. One interlinking storyline.

GTA Online
GTA Online is a game in itself, mixing GTA’s sandbox chaos with elements of MMORPGs. You can take part in elaborate, multi-mission bank heists with friends, or just crash around the open-world causing trouble. It’s a thrilling online playground with a compelling level progression system and hundreds of missions, including bicycle races, death matches, destruction derbies, and skydiving competitions.
Sounds great, right? Well, there have been some issues. For example, GTA Online on the PC can suffer from some minor and some serious lag problems. Just like any online game, GTA V Online's lag comes from being paired up with players who are far away or with poor connections. Most of my time was rather lag-free, however being in a car with someone who is lagging is not an entertaining experience. "We're just about to crash into that-- oh, never mind we're on the highway now." Doing missions like this makes certain players virtually useless as they teleport all over the place and neither player knows what's really happening.
However, the majority of the time, GTA Online on the PC works like a charm, and is an absolute blast if you get a few friends with headsets involved!

Rockstar Editor
The real star of the PC version is the Rockstar Editor, an amazingly powerful tool that lets you record in-game footage, edit it, and upload it to YouTube. At any time during play you can start recording. But instead of recording video, it records an in-engine snapshot of your actions, letting you go in later and move the camera, add filters, and implement dozens of other tweaks and effects. Then, using an editing tool that’s like a stripped-back version of software like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut, you can string the footage together, add music and text, and then put it online.
Accompanying the editor is Director Mode, which lets you change the weather and time of day in a scene to create a specific mood, as well as selecting virtual actors from a massive list of non-player characters. This gives you total control over your scenes and, combined with the editor, allows you to make virtually any kind of film you can think of. You could create a gritty gangster drama, a horror, or a nature documentary. It transforms the game world into a giant film set, and creative players will be tinkering with it long after they’ve completed the game.
Final Thoughts
For those coming fresh to the experience, you’re about to play one of the best games ever made. It’s still very much the Grand Theft Auto you’ve known and loved since the series transitioned to 3D open worlds in GTA3, but it has been enhanced and improved to dizzying heights. At campaign level you’ll be playing as three distinctly different characters in an astonishingly detailed and accurate recreation of Los Angeles, engaging in missions that tips hats to the best in crime cinema. A GTA world has never been as populated with things to do, be that hurling yourself out of helicopters whilst riding an ATV, or seeking out bounty hunt targets for big cash rewards. Los Santos is a world full of amusement and excitement, although these days Rockstar’s satire is starting to wear a little thin and the jokes don’t always hit the right mark. Online, it’s the same experience, but all the other gangsters are real people.
If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Ascendance DLC (PS4) - Grapple Hook Fun!

By Sam Coles:
So the next Call of Duty Advanced Warfare DLC has finally arrived for the Sony platforms and PC with Ascendance, which adds a new Exo Zombie map with new infected level, 4 new multiplayer maps and a grapple hook mode which adds a faster pace to the already chaotic gameplay. Is it fun yes and no let me go through it.
In the new Exo Zombie map it takes place in a gas station and they’ve added a new Zombie type who are in the Goliath suits and yes they can operate the Gatling guns it’s a nice addition to the new mode and keeps things fresh but the fundamental gameplay is the same where you go through wave over wave until you die.
The fun part of this map pack is the added grapple mode which accommodates for the verticality of the new maps and really increases the speed and craziness in a good way and you can kill players with the grapple hook and it never gets old. How the grapple hook works is that it is like a exo ability so it runs on a battery so you can’t just spam it, it’s a great way to get round the new maps in combination with the exo jumps and dodges it really ads to the combat. The pack also comes with a brand new weapon which its primary function is an LMG but it has a secondary mode where it can turn into an automatic shotgun, I feel that this weapon is too heavy and sluggish in combination of the maps and grapple hook mode I feel that a new SMG would have suited the situation better.
Here are the maps that are included in the multiplayer:
Perplex is a small set of apartment buildings in Sydney which requires you to look everywhere when you’re on the ground because players like to hide on the rooftops to get an advantage. This is a close quarters map so I would suggest using sub machine guns and shotguns to gain full advantage in this tight yet open space.
Site 244:
This map is set in a crash site where a derelict alien space craft has found its self by Mt Rushmore bit bizarre but hey. This map is a medium to large map so weapons I would recommend using are assault rifles, LMG’s and sniper rifles so this a fairly long range map so be prepared to get sniped a lot.
Climate is a bio dome which has water flowing throughout the facility, but it can turn toxic and acidic in matches so after that has been activated don’t venture into the water because it will burn you alive. The map is a circular map so I would recommend using SMG’s and keep moving to keep your momentum that’s where the grapple hook comes into play to speed you around the map.
Chop Shop:
Finally Chop Shop is a small work shop for military hardware and exo suits so maybe you can go in for an oil change when you’re in the middle of a battle. This is a small and quick map which the advised weapon to choose is an automatic shotgun rather than a pump action because you’ll have delayed shots if you choose the pump action option and use the grapple hook to help you rack up kills.
Call of Duty’s new map back is fun only because of the new addition of the new grapple hook which adds even more speed which reminds of the old school shooters from the past. The only downfall is the new weapon because it doesn’t suit the frantic gameplay due to its sluggish and heavy nature.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Shovel Knight (Xbox One) - Classic Game Mechanics Feel Modern

By Sam Coles:
Shovel Knight is a game that evokes gaming mechanics from the past to bring forward in the modern gaming space, but however even though the mechanics have been pulled from games in the 80's they have aged remarkably well considering it takes queues from games that are nearly 30 years old such as Mega Man and Duck Tales. It is a breath fresh air with a game that is so light hearted and doesn't have gritty realism and the brown hues that saturate the main stream gaming space.
Shovel Knight if you haven't guessed already is a 2D platformer in the same vein as Zelda II, Mega Man and Duck Tales from the NES era with its game mechanics such as the pogo stick move taken from Duck Tales which is great when you rack a great rhythm with more difficult segments of platforming. The U.I is heavily influenced from Zelda II The Adventures of Link with aspects such as upgrading your maximum health or magic at certain points to the town hub area where you can restore health and magic.
Level layout is fairly similar to Mega Man from the NES era where you have small and dangerous platforming where you have to be precise with your movements. When you die in this game it's generally your fault and the not the game because you can't fault the game for its tight controls and excellent level design coupled with fun enemy design and bosses. So tread carefully in this game because it is not easy you have to keep a decent rhythm and momentum as you traverse this world with you spade.
Unlike some platformers from the era where you pick up coins as a means to gain extra lives Shovel Knight's gems have monetary value which helps you buy food tickets so you can upgrade your health or magic in the town area hub which goes up in value each time you buy one or you buy items in levels, so scavenge each level top to bottom. You'll gain extra items as well such as the fire rod which aids you in combat which takes the sort Zelda aspect of gaining items in dungeons this is where your magic meter comes in where it will take a certain amount of points from it that is why it's a tough decision to choose which one you want to upgrade.
How the game works you go through level by level on via a world map like Super Mario Bros. 3 and you go through the level and beat the boss then you'll unlock a gate to progress through the map. Each level is varied with different themes such as medieval to the creepy grave yards like Ghosts and Goblins.
Like the playstation version of this game where they had the included a exclusive character of Kratos Xbox gets the inclusion of the Battletoads which is hawking back to the NES days with the difficult platformer although Shovel Knight is not nightmarishly difficult like Battletoads, it’s a nice inclusion and maybe a teaser for a future game. Maybe?
Overall I found that I really enjoyed Shovel Knight it’s nice to see a light hearted platformer which seem to be a rarity these days in the triple A circle I must give a credit where credit is due to Yatch Club Games and say that this is a fantastic platformer with the old school NES feel. Get this game it’s on multiple platforms.