Sunday, 26 February 2017

Berserk and The Band of Hawk Review - A decent warriors game although a tad repetitive.

By Sam Coles:

As well as Platinum Games the developers behind the Dynasty Warriors games have been making spin off titles based on video game series or in this case a popular Manga. Berserk and The Band of the Hawk is a good game, however it suffers due to its repetitive nature as the campaign lasts for about 20 hours and it out stays its welcome. Is it terrible? As I said no, but it could of been shorter.

Berserk’s story is based on the titular Manga where you play as the bad ass mercenary Guts who has the world’s most impractical sword alongside with Cloud’s buster sword. The game’s story takes place during the golden age trilogy of films as it uses animated scenes from the film trilogy and I must say these animated scenes are beautiful with excellent voice acting from the Japanese cast. Guts is your standard mercenary wandering from battlefield to battlefield fighting for whoever pays him the most gold. It’s not until he encounters a new group of mercs known as The Band of the Hawk he then settles down into a routine reluctantly as he fights the leader who then proceeds to incapacitate him. Guts then joins the group where they end up working for an army so they have a stable income. The game’s story is interesting to keep you playing with great voice acting and great animations from the anime cutscenes.

The gameplay is instantly familiar if you have played Hyrule Warriors or Dragon Quest Heroes where you have a huge map filled with enemies and objectives where the body count can rise to ludicrous levels. You have individual objectives which range from destroying catapults or killing high ranking officers, but it is mostly killing officers which can start to weight on you by the 10th hour. The game does offer some fun horseback combat which is hilarious when you run enemies over as they topple over like bowling pins I was excepting to hear the noise of bowling pins as the animation was so comedic.

Before each battle you can choose what character you can be, however in the main story you can only pick Guts and there is not much point to pick any other characters in the story as Guts gets the job done. The other characters are great if you want to play in free mode where you can pick any mission you want with any character you have unlocked where you can experiment with their move set.

Visually the game looks great as it blends a cell shaded look with realistic visuals as the character models are cell shaded to fit in with the Manga inspired look where the environments look great with good looking foliage and castles. However the locations do get very samey because once you’ve seen one castle and field you have seen them all.

The game tries to runs at 60 frames per second but it really struggles most of the time especially when there are lots of enemies on the screen and when you pull off special moves it starts to chug.

Berserk and The Band of Hawk is great if you’re a fan of the series but if you’re not it gets stale really fast, it has its moments but there is not much strategy besides press square to win.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Halo 3 Review - One of the best Xbox 360 games.

By Sam Coles:

Has it really been nearly 10 years since Halo 3 was first released? It’s hard to believe that one of the best games on the Xbox 360 is that old I remember when it came out and gazed enviously at my friends who owned an Xbox 360 with its beautiful graphics, gameplay and story. I didn’t get an Xbox 360 until 2009 for my 16th birthday and fortunately my 360 came with a copy of Halo 3 and I fell in love with the game. Does it still hold up 10 years later? Yes!

Halo 3’s story takes place directly after Halo 2 where we see the Master Chief crash landing on Earth after infiltrating the Covenant’s city High Charity in the second game and killing the Prophet of Regret. Chief had to leave Cortana in the city which was also being overran by the parasitic race known as the flood, Chief unfortunately does not know where she is and sets off to find her and defend Earth from Covenant forces. The story is great as it was meant to be the last game in the series but we all knew that it wasn’t going to be the last game as Microsoft knew they had something good it really does feel like the last fight.

Halo 3 took what it had from the first two games with gameplay and times it by 10 with tighter and more responsive controls with excellent gunplay. The levels were bigger and wider in scope compared to the first two games with brute enemies taking stage as the Elites are now working with you as well as the Arbiter which unfortunately you don’t play as him this time. You can play the entire campaign with 4 players and it is a blast, I remember finishing the campaign on Legendary in split-screen with a night of pizza and beer. This is what modern Halo games are missing local multiplayer it’s just what gaming is missing in general, don’t get me wrong I love online multiplayer but there is nothing like the noise of a living room full of people.

The multiplayer is easily the best in the series whether it is online or offline you have your standard slew of modes from the first two games like Slayer and Capture the Flag. However you have some new and interesting modes which have become staples in the series such as Oddball and Griffball which came from the famous animated show Red vs Blue. This was a landmark title on Xbox Live I would constantly hear about people talking about this game online alongside Call of Duty 4.

Visually the game still looks good if you ignore the ugly character models minus Master Chief’s. The environments are beautiful with some fantastic lightning especially the first level where you’re in a dense jungle with lush flora and fauna. Particle effects look fantastic as well with explosions and the muzzle flashes from plasma based weapons. The only problem I have as I said earlier is that the character models look dated as well as the animations, as they look a bit stilted.

Halo 3 is a game that I still hear people talking about today 10 years down the line and I can see people talking about it 20 years down the line. The game is easy to find on the 360 but if you want to play it at native 1080p and 60 frames per second then I would recommend getting the Master Chief Collection on Xbox One, be warned it does come with a hefty patch.  

Friday, 17 February 2017

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter Review - When Tom Clancy games were challenging.

By Sam Coles:

Tom Clancy games are games that I love to play when I want some tactical action but in recent years the games have been a bit casual as they are trying to appeal to a wider audience. The Ghost Recon series is one of my favourite tactical shooters and the Advanced Warfighter games were the last of the challenging shooters in the Ghost Recon series in my opinion. I’m not saying that the newer iterations are bad, on the contrary I’m looking forward to Wildlands but it looks more like Far Cry rather than Ghost Recon.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter takes place in the distant future of 2014, yes that was classed as distant as the game came out in 2006. Mexico is in a state of war as a revolution has happened as a militia in the region are trying to kill the current president. Scott Mitchel and his squad of Ghosts are sent into the region to extract the president and quash the rebellion by any means. The story is rather simple but honestly I never expect ground breaking stories from Tom Clancy games as they give you a basic premise and let you get on with it.

Gameplay is third person unlike the Rainbow Six Vegas games however the console and PC version are vastly different as the PC version is first person I think this was to accommodate for mouse and keyboard controls, but it’s something you don’t see these days having different versions of the same game. I own the Xbox 360 version but I did play it on the PC first, but I do prefer playing on the 360 as it is easier to control in my opinion.

You control Scott but you have the ability to command three other soldiers in your squad and you have control of a UAV that you can use in your tactical map. This is great as you can scout the coming areas for enemies as they deal a lot of damage as on normal mode you can only take between 3-4 hits. In some missions you get the ability to command different vehicles these can range from APC’s, tanks and my favourite the attack helicopters. 

The presentation still holds up considering the game came out 11 years ago and this was a very early title on the 360. The lighting in Tom Clancy games were really good Rainbow Six Vegas came out the same year which had great lighting too especially during dawn or dusk in the cities. Mitchel’s main character model looks really good but other models do look dated and the lip syncing looks a dust bin lid flapping up and down.

The only problems I have with this game is the frame rate has a habit of tanking during explosions or when there are a lot of enemies on the screen. Also the aiming is very sluggish and can be a pain to hit a target accurately.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is a fun and challenging game and is a game you should pick up for your Xbox 360 if you want a good tactical shooter. It is super cheap I picked up my copy for 99p so it won’t break the bank. It’s a great way to get in the mood for Wildlands.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Max Payne 3 Review - Why do people hate this game?

By Sam Coles:

The Max Payne series is something that I hold close to my heart with their dark and twisting stories coupled with fun and satisfying gameplay. Max Payne 1 and 2 came out two years between each other and remedy soon started working on a third instalment, however they were met with budget restraints due to the poor sales of Max Payne 2. Max Payne 3 was originally slated for a 2009 release on the Xbox 360 and PS3 but got delayed and we didn’t hear anything about the game until late 2011 around the same time GTA V was announced. Max Payne 3 eventually came out in May of 2012 and it was great, however there are a lot of people in the gaming community that don’t seem to like this game and I don’t understand why.

Max Payne 3 takes place after 9 years after the second game and we see Max at his lowest as he is drinking more and popping painkillers constantly. He now works as private security for a wealthy family in Sao Paulo Brazil who are being targeted by favela gangs and private military groups who have kidnapped your boss’s wife. You travel across Sao Paulo tracking her down unravelling a conspiracy of human trafficking where political figures make money from harvesting organs, you also have flash segments where you’re back in New York. This game has a very dark story not as dark as the other games but it is still very grim and is not for the faint of heart. I like this story as you see Max as a completely broken man at the start of the game but as you progress you see him reform himself as he stops drinking and repents his sins.

The gameplay is easily the best in the series because the shooting mechanics are incredible the controls are so tight with excellent animation. You really feel the weight and age of Max in this game as he slowly dives through the air with dual pistols before he hits floor at full force. Yes they did ditch the mechanic of being able to carry all your weapons as you can only carry two pistols and a two handed weapon. However this system works fine as it makes you adapt to the situation as you have to ditch certain weapons to accommodate for the situation.

The presentation in this game is beautiful considering it came out on the Xbox 360 and PS3 5 years ago it has excellent character models with fantastic animation. The environments look amazing with the dirty slums of the favela to the rain soaked docks where you can see the rain drops running down Max’s face. This game is extremely detailed with the violence as well because when you kill the final enemy in the room it will follow the bullet similar to Sniper Elite and show the holes the bullet leaves and you can keep firing until your magazine is empty. It’s so graphic with the violence and almost believable coupled with the animations when you shoot enemies in certain places as they will react appropriately as they will limp or crawl on the floor when they’re mortally wounded.

The only problem I had with this game is that it has frame rate problems (on console anyway) as it tends to drop below 30 fps during in game cutscenes, however it doesn’t during the pre-rendered scenes.

Max Payne 3 is a great game and I don’t understand the hate behind it, yes it is a simpler story but it is still an engaging game in all departments with beautiful graphics, great gameplay and dark and twisted story. You can grab this game for super cheap price these days if you’re playing on console get the PS3 version as it is on one disc unlike the two disc version on 360.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Review - It's time to saddle up.

By Sam Coles:

Like pirates the western is a genre that is underutilised and I don’t know why as they are a great setting to tell fun and even deep and compelling stories with love, betrayal and gun slinging action. Call of Juarez Bound in Blood is one of those games that I don’t hear a lot of people talking about these days and I don’t know why it’s a great first person shooter, with excellent characters and a great story.

Call of Juarez Bound in Blood takes place after the American Civil War as you take control of two former soldiers in the confederacy then they desert their posts during a battle to save their mother and family home. They are then branded as traitors and are hunted down across the United States and Mexico, Ray and Thomas McCall become outlaws making money anyway possible no matter who gets in their way. They start to squabble when a woman comes into play when they are in Mexico but a bandit owns the woman and things get very messy where Ray ends up killing him. Ray is the hot headed brother who ends get them into violent situations where Thomas is more of a cool headed person who tries to talk his way out, it’s a nice juxtaposition between the characters as it brings balance to the plot.

Gameplay is a first person shooter where you can choose between two characters at the start of each mission which have subtle differences between the two. Ray is a tank character where he can take more damage and is proficient with duel revolvers and shotguns whereas Thomas is more adept with rifles, bows and throwing knifes. Levels do play out slightly different if you play as the different characters such as Thomas taking a more elevated route as he has a rope he can use for climbing. Ray on the other hand takes a more direct route taking enemies head on as you would expect. They don’t control that differently minus the dead aim mode where Ray highlights enemies with the reticule and then guns them down quickly and Thomas locks on to them where you have to pull back the analogue stick mimicking pulling back the hammer on the revolver.

What boggles my mind with this game is that there is no co-op campaign you would think that with two playable characters that there would be some sort of 2 player campaign but there is not. This is a missed opportunity as it would have worked; a co-op campaign would be implemented in The Cartel which is an abomination of a game.

Another issue I have with the gameplay are duel boss battles which are simple at first but get stupidly hard in the later stages of the game and if you play the game on hard all the bosses have god like reflexes. The duels are probably the least enjoyable part of Call of Juarez.

The game’s presentation is excellent for the most part with beautifully detailed environments from the beautiful forests of the Rocky Mountains to the baron and sun bleach deserts of Mexico. The only things that do look bit dated are the character models in some scenes they look great, but when they start to animate they look stilted and unnatural.

Call of Juarez Bound in Blood is a fantastic western game and is the best game in the series, before The Cartel ruined it and they had to reboot it with Gunslinger in 2013. Get this game it’s really cheap and I hope Techland work on a new game in the series soon. 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes Review - A complete waste of time.

By Sam Coles:

Probably one of worst blunders of the 8th generation so far was 2014 with buggy and unfinished games and probably one of the biggest rip offs and waste of times I’ve played and that comes in the form of Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes a glorified paid demo. I don’t know why Konami thought it was acceptable to chop the first level out of the Phantom Pain and sell for full price (in the UK) and people defended it and that also was perplexing to me.

Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes takes place in 1975 one year after the events of Peace Walker, the supposedly dead Paz is found by a Brazilian fisherman and she is then taken to Camp Omega which is just Guantanamo Bay. Snake and Kaz want to rescue her not because they like her but she has important information about Zero’s secret organisation. The tone of this demo is very different compared to The Phantom Pain as it is very dark with subject matters from implied rape to keeping prisoners against their will and I think this was Kojima’s original vision.

Gameplay is exactly the same as The Phantom Pain obviously with a few exceptions such as the silencer on your tranquilizer gun does not wear over time which completely trivialises the situation. Snake controls fluidly as has my favourite move in the game where you can make him fling himself to the floor which looks like it should break his ribs every time he does it. The demo takes place on Camp Omega a pretty big and sprawling map however changing the time of day and weather is only going get you so far before it gets a bit samey. You can finish the main story part in 30 minutes, there are side missions but these aren’t very interesting and probably pad out the limited gameplay for another hour or so.

One thing you cannot have a go at about the demo are the visuals they are a just a sight to behold it runs on the FOX Engine and it’s absolutely beautiful with the added plus it runs at 60 frames per second on PS4 and Xbox One anyway. There is some truly excellent lighting coupled with realistic water textures as it bounces off Boss’s shoulders and runs down his face.

Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes is everything wrong with the industry where publishers exploit the consumer’s excitement by squeezing every penny out of them. I don’t understand why they released this back in the day and also don’t understand why people defended it when it was a demo that you paid for. Don’t bother with this as it is a complete waste of time, if you’re really curious about it and haven’t played the Phantom Pain then get the definitive experience of MGS V as it is bundled with it.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Wet Review - A game that doesn't take itself seriously.

By Sam Coles:

There was a time where developers were trying to mimic the style of God of War or Devil May Cry with same style of action before open world games became over saturated. Wet is one of these games and it’s actually a really fun game and it got a lot of negative attention when it came out and I don’t understand why? Is it perfect? No of course not but it’s not a bad game it’s a fun action packed game, with a fantastic art style and awesome soundtrack.

The story of Wet is about a mercenary named Rubi who is a bad ass who shoots first and asks questions later and she takes on work from whoever pays the most. She gets caught up in a conspiracy as she hands over a man who is a son of a client and is then framed for his murder, she then goes on a tale for revenge and kills anyone who gets in her way. The story is campy and fun and is not to be taken seriously as it adapts the style of grindhouse cinema from the 70’s and Tarantino films with over the top violence.

The gameplay is familiar if you’ve played action games like God of War or Devil May Cry with sword play and duel wielding pistols similar to Dante, but it has mechanics from John Woo’s Stranglehold. It grades you on the style of kill you have done and this cane range from you running on walls, doing backflips, diving through the air or my favourite sliding on your knees as you knee cap enemies with your revolvers. It’s gloriously over the top in every sense with the action and the blood and gore.

There is an interesting mechanic when you are diving or sliding it will go into slow motion and you can then aim at two enemies at once where the red circle is locked on with one hand and you can manually aim with the other. This is great as you can dispatch foes quickly especially when you’re fully upgraded. Sometimes Rubi will go into a rage mode where everything turns red and white this is where you can rack up a serious multiplier and you attack harder and faster.

Visually the game looks decent for a title that came out in 2009 it adapts the grindhouse look with film grain, this can get irritating at times but fortunately you can turn it off in the options menu. The soundtrack is amazing with a  mix of 1960’s rock and roll and punk rock during the high octane action sequences that get you pumped when you’re slicing and dicing or leaping from car to car in high speed chases.

The only problem I really have with this game are the platforming sections they really kill the pace of the game and Rubi feels very floaty in these parts as her movement is suited to combat rather than platforming.

Wet is a game that you don’t see these days as the industry makes games that are ultra-serious and don’t know how to laugh sometimes. The game is really fun with a great soundtrack and over the top gameplay pick this game up I found a copy for £1 and I would highly recommend it. 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Dragon Age Inquisition Review - The first game I got with my Xbox One.

By Sam Coles:

Dragon Age is a series that I hold close to my heart as the original got me through tough times when I was at a low point when I was doing my A-levels. It was a place I could escape to where I could be a hero and people needed my help and it made feel good, I bought Origins back in early 2010 from Blockbuster (yes that long ago) and put it in my 360 and fell in love. The year after I bought 2 on my 18th birthday and I really enjoyed it compared to other fans as they didn’t like it I liked it though, it would be another 3 years until we got the third instalment and it is one of my favourite RPG’s of all times.

Dragon Age Inquisition takes place a few years after the second game and it takes place in Ferelden and Orlais so you have a massive world to explore compared to the first two games. The continent is threaten by a new threat that is not the Dark Spawn this but instead a large portal in the sky dubbed the Breach is allowing demons from the Fade to leak through and letting them kill everyone. Compared to the first two games this game has a straight forward plot with a focused threat unlike the other games where you had a vague idea who you were fighting and I like this as you have a focus on the goal.

Dragon Age Inquisition’s gameplay is a mixture of the first and second game so you can go for the more tactical approach from Origins which is recommended if you’re playing on harder difficulties or you can use the real time system of 2 which I prefer. You are also the leader of the Inquisition so you have to delegate missions to your spies to gain resources and power. Power plays an important role in this game as you need it to progress through the main story as it is the only way you can discover new areas, how you gain power is doing certain missions for factions, closing breach gates or establishing camps in regions to telegraph a presences.

You really do feel as if you’re a leader of a powerful empire as you establish your forces across the kingdom and there are parts where you get to judge prisoners on your throne as well as being able to execute them if you choose that fate. The only real problem I have with the gameplay are the timers you have to wait for when you send agents throughout the land and these can range from 30 minutes to 3 hours! Fortunately these do run down in real time and will tick down even when you turn the console off.

Visually the game looks fantastic with its environments however character models look very stilted and look unnatural when the engage in conversation unless they are in scripted cutscenes. The game runs on DICE’s Frostbite 3 engine and it looks spectacular with the particle effects from magic spells and explosions coupled with the beautifully detailed environments from the forests of the Hinterlands to the frost laden mountains of Haven. You can’t deny the beauty of this game if you ignore the character models.

Dragon Age Inquisition is a fantastic game that you must play if you are an RPG fanatic which will keep you occupied for hours upon hours. It was a huge step up from the second game despite me liking the second game it did have its flaws but it was good but Inquisition captures the sparks of the original. If you have an Xbox One, PS4 and PC I would highly recommend if you haven’t played this classic, it is on the 360 and PS3 but they look very ugly this was during the period where they were still shoe horning games on those machines so get it on the PS4 and the One if you want the full experience.  

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