Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Darksiders Warmastered Edition - War has never looked so good.

By Sam Coles:

Darksiders is a series I feel that does not get enough attention and that is a shame because it is a fantastic game. I love THQ Nordic have rereleased them on Xbox One and PS4 to give the two games attention, they released the second game last year first and now the first which is the best one. Hopefully this will garner enough attention to get a third instalment, so how does the remaster stack up? Very well!

Darksiders takes place in the modern day (for 2010) when the apocalypse has begun on Earth and the player character War answers the call. However he has noticed that his brothers are not there with him and realises that the call was false and is then put on trial by the Chard Council who keep the peace and balance between heaven and hell. The story is interesting with the lore of the world by taking certain things from Christian afterlife etc. which will keep you intrigued from start to finish coupled with good voice acting.

The gameplay is an interesting one and it’s not a style you see often replicated and that style is The Legend of Zelda. This game controls like the 3D Zelda games with the lock on feature, exploring dungeons, unlocking items and fighting bosses. However the combat is much better than any of the Zelda games taking ques from games such as, Devil May Cry with the fast pace combat to the over the top violence of God of War. The gameplay is varied and fantastic unlocking new abilities such as being able to glide with wings to turning into a massive demon that destroys everything in its path. You gain souls which you can exchange for items such as healing potions, mana potions and upgrades for your weapon.

The visuals have been given a decent bump in quality with updated textures that look nice and smooth especially the quality of War’s character model. Colours have been give an extra bump as they look more vibrant compared to the Xbox 360 version; I played it on Xbox One if you’re curious.  It’s also great that game runs at 60 frames per second which makes the game more responsive compared to the original and it’s not just bound to the PS4 version like it was with Darksiders II which I don’t know why that was the case when that game was not visually intense.

The only problem I really have with Darksiders is that the game is really bad at telling me when I’m being hit by small and fodder like enemies which is a pain as you die because you were focusing on the bigger and tougher enemies.

Darksiders Warmastered Edition is great and is good if you’ve not played any of the games, this gives me hope that there will be an interest in restoring the series and maybe we’ll get a third game whether it be a reboot or sequel. Go out and get this game it’s cheap as well I saw it for £14.99 on Amazon so go out and get it! 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

10 years of PS3.

By Sam Coles:

It’s hard to believe that the PS3 is now 10 years old, I was 13 when the console came out and that point I was still rocking the PS2. I didn’t jump to the 7th generation of gaming until 2009 when I got my Xbox 360 it was the first console that was mine where I didn’t have to share it with anyone else. I didn’t get a PS3 until the tail end of 2013 when the 8th generation began and honestly I regret not getting one sooner with the variety of unique exclusives and the amount of PS1 classics I played on it. Let’s take a quick look at the history of the PS3.

The PS3 was released in November of 2006 a year later after the Xbox 360 and at first it was met with resistance because it was expensive I’m going by American prices it was $600 for the model with the bigger hard drive which was a tiny 60 GB. However this was during the transition from SD to HD and most people were still using old CRT televisions still and that’s why the PS3 came with AV cables as well as HDMI out. As well as that the PS3 was the cheapest Blu-ray player on the market so it put the new format on the map like what the PS2 did for DVD but people were not willing to pay through the nose for it so Microsoft had the upper hand.

The other reason why the PS3 was so expensive originally was the fact that the system could play PS2 games and this wasn’t emulation, they pretty much put PS2 hardware within the system and this was also problematic as the original PS3 was prone for failure as it had a habit of overheating.   
Sony were the underdog of the generation due to their poor start with sales etc. but also their online network was lacking to say the least and was a bit counter intuitive, but it was free to play online throughout the generation which Microsoft made you pay for, but Sony would change that for the PS4. They did update the PlayStation network over the years and it was better than was to begin with as they added the plus service which would grant you access to free games each month and they later added trophy support similar to achievements on Xbox.

The other issue the PS3 had was the infamous cell processor which was a pain for most developers so most of them would outsource projects to third parties who knew what they were doing with the processor. When people utilise it properly we got some superb games with excellent visuals that the Xbox 360 could not produce, sometimes third party games ran better on PS3 a great example of this is Oblivion it has better graphics, draw distance and loading times, it was made by 4J studios better known for making the console versions of Minecraft.

Over the years the PS3 slowly caught up with Microsoft in sales as it started produce excellent exclusive games such as Uncharted, The Last of Us, God of War III and many more. They revised the console twice to make the system more affordable but at a cost of losing PS2 backwards compatibility however all PS3’s can play original PlayStation games which opens up a huge library of classics from the 90’s.

The PS3 is a classic console and rose from the ashes after a rocky start and is a system you must own you can pick one up for a cheap price these days and I would highly recommend getting one. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Goldeneye (N64) Review - This game has aged terribly!

 By Sam Coles:

Back in the 90’s first person shooter games were generally bad ports of PC games such as Quake on PS1 etc. It wasn’t until Goldeneye came out on the N64 back in 1997 that changed everything and structured how first person shooter are made even today you can see Goldeneye’s DNA in modern console shooters. Does it still hold up? Mostly no but it’s still enjoyable in parts.

Goldeneye follows the plot of the film more or less scene by scene minus a couple of extra levels that has nothing to do with the film. You go through level by level completing objectives, this was different to other shooters at the time were you would usually go through the level kill everything in sight and reach the exit. In this game you have to complete all your objectives before you could finish the level and you would have to complete more objectives when you play on higher difficulties. This is great as it gives the game a lot of replay value as you can unlock fun cheats to mess around in multiplayer or the singleplayer like big head mode or my favourite paintball mode.

When you unlock the highest difficulty known as 007 mode this game will kick you in the gonads as it is extremely hard as enemies become more accurate with weapons and there is no longer any body armour and it can be frustrating.

The controls can take a while to get use to if you’ve never played an N64 game before but it does have a good auto aim system which you can getaway with using for most of the game but you must get a feel for the manual aiming for headshots for the tougher enemies and bosses.

This also had a really good local multiplayer as the N64 by default had four controller ports so you didn’t need to buy a muli tap like the PS1. It had varied modes like deathmatches, Golden Gun, Licence to Kill and You Only Live Once. It had the tropes of older shooters where you had to remember the map with pick-ups and weapons.

The big problem I have with this game that stops me from playing it these days is that it runs terribly it has the worst frame rate I’ve played it will drop down to single digits when it gets busy on screen especially in multiplayer matches. Most of the time it runs at 20 frames per second at best and I don’t understand how people can say that this game still holds when it performs this badly because game has aged terribly. These are probably the same people who complain about performance with modern games but give Goldeneye a free pass. It’s the only reason why I rarely (no pun intended) go back and play this game as it makes my eyes bleed with the performance.

Goldeneye set the standard for console FPS but to play it today is not good but I understand the legacy it holds. Former Rare developers moved to Free Radical to work on the Timesplitters series and you can tell they worked on Goldeneye even down to the user interface. You can pick up Goldeneye for a decent price these days, but the console and multiple controllers may set you back a bit.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Review - It's starting to show its age.

 By Sam Coles:

2007 was an interesting year for the 7th generation of gaming as we got great titles such as Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, Super Mario Galaxy and of course Uncharted: Drake’s fortune which released exclusively for the PS3. When the game was first revealed it was immediately compared to Tomb Raider aptly nicked named “Dude Raider” as they shared similar traits with treasure hunting. However when it was released it was met with critical acclaim and spawned 2 more sequels on the PS3 and a final instalment on the PS4. How does it fair over the years? Let’s find out.

Uncharted is about a young explorer named Nathan Drake where he convinces people that he is related to Sir Francis Drake. He is in Latin America looking for the lost treasure of El dorado which later on he finds out that it is cursed which cause horrific things to those who seek it. He is accompanied by Victor Sullivan or Sully for short who acts as his mentor and father figure as he chain smokes cigars throughout the adventure. You’re also in the company of a young journalist named Elena Fisher a competent yet very nosey reporter. The characters are great and charismatic although the main villains are two dimensional and just want the treasure as they manically laugh.

The gameplay is a mix of third person shooting and platforming the shooting is okay not the best as the aiming is terrible and very loose compared to the later instalments and it also doesn’t help that game has questionable hit detection sometimes. When you’re not being shot at you’ll partake in some platforming and this is great as it gives you time to breath as you traverse dangerous cliffs with bottomless pits to dark and ancient caves. However the climbing controls do feel a tad archaic as Nathan will not take in the fact that you want to grab the ledge next to you he will refuse to latch on to it. The controls are showing their age and to be fair the game is nearly 10 years old now and it was the first in the series so they had to start somewhere.

The environments look fantastic even to this day with lush tropical jungles with deep and detailed foliage but the environments do get a bit samey. The character models on the other hand have not aged gracefully with stiff animations during cutscenes and lip syncing that is off in some scenes, plus some character models look too clean with no blemishes.

Uncharted Drake’s Fortune is a good game but it does have a lot flaws that suck out the fun of the experience sometimes with clunky controls, but it paved the way for a fantastic series that put the PS3 on the map. It’s super cheap on PS3 or you can pick it up in the Nathan Drake Collection on PS4. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Assassin's Creed Review - A flawed product but a landmark title.

 By Sam Coles:

It’s hard to believe that the original Assassin’s Creed is nearly 10 years old; it had an interesting premise with the aspect of reliving your ancestor’s memory through the machine called the Animus. However due to the abundance of sequels since Assassin’s Creed II on an annual basis the games got stale and started to leak over to other Ubisoft open world games where they became uninspired. Assassin’s Creed when it came out in 2007 was very different with its setting and premise and yes it has flaws and it’s repetitive but it was a platform that it could leap off and glide to the heavens with its sequels.

Assassin’s Creed takes place during the third crusade of Jerusalem and you play as Altair an orphan who was later picked up by the Assassin order and is trained by them to help them stop the Templars. Altair is known for being a bit of a rogue and generally breaks a lot of the rules of the order but not out of malice but to get the job done more efficiently. He is caught breaking the rules at the start of the game and is then demoted to a recruit much to his disgust. The story isn’t really anything special with a generic plot where the main character questions who the true evil ones are. The future plot with Desman is interesting but they have a habit of getting in the way of the game and grind everything to a halt.

The gameplay is an open world game and this was during a period before the genre over saturated the market where new open world games were fresh and exciting at this time. How the game works is that you must report to someone in each city and he will assign you a target and then you must investigate the city and find information about the target and then eventually murder them. I like this because it evokes aspects of Hitman where you eavesdrop on conversations and find secrets about the target whether it be their routines or weaknesses makes the world feel alive and organic. However due to the structure of the world it starts to get a bit samey after a while because the game fell into a routine of eavesdropping, tailing, syncing towers and assassinating. This is the game’s biggest flaw repetition and that is why it took me so long to finish the game.

Visually the game still looks great with its environments but the character models look a bit dated, but it’s the environments that really shine with detailed cities such as Jerusalem and Damascus coupled with the open countryside as you traverse between cities. Sound design is great with meaty noises as you drive your swords and hidden blades in your enemy’s chest or throat, you hear the squelch of meat as you stab them.

The repetitive nature of the original Assassin’s Creed is annoying but it is a landmark title and fixed all the flaws in the sequel, this is similar to Watch Dogs a game with lots of good ideas but ultimately flawed so let’s hope Watch Dogs 2 can do what Assassin’s Creed did. You can pick up this game for a cheap price these days and you can play it on Xbox One via the backwards compatibility if you choose to get it on 360.