Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Call of Juarez: The Cartel Review - It's not that bad.

By Sam Coles:

There are certain games that I don’t understand why they get so much hate, now don’t get me wrong there is no such thing as a perfect game *cough* Last of Us *cough*, however there are games that get lambasted when they are perfectly functional for the most part. Call of Juarez: The Cartel is one of those titles it is a decent game, but it is not a perfect game. It was heavily criticised back in 2011 so much so it was even called racist, while I don’t agree with that as it is more stereotypical like all of the Call of Juarez games with Southerners and Mexicans. Politics aside it is a fun romp with an interesting concept, where they make a western but set in what was at the time present day.

Call of Juarez: The Cartel takes place in Los Angles in 2011; the city has gang and drug problems due to the local Mexican gangs importing weapons and drugs from the borders of Mexico. The DEA is also bombed by the Mendoza Cartel, which forces the US government to put together a task force consisting of the LAPD, FBI and of course the DEA. You can pick three characters to play as; you have Kimberly Evans a sassy FBI agent, Eddie Guerra a wise cracking Mexican DEA agent and Ben McCall the reason why they call this game Call of Juarez as he is supposed to be a descendant of Ray McCall. The story is fun, with good voice acting but there are some parts where the delivery is rather awkward and just not good, but I do enjoy the lines that Ben McCall spouts as he comes across as this old and very angry cop constantly using four letter words like pepper mints.

Gameplay is a first person shooter like the other instalments in the series, you have decent cast of weapons to use and yes they are pretty stock standard where you have let’s all say it together now pistols, shotguns, machine guns and rocket launchers. Each character specialises in different weapons, Kimberly is good with long range weapons such as sniper rifles, Eddie is good with close range weapons and Ben is good with revolvers and can duel wield pistols more efficiently although it is redundant when machine guns exist. To be honest I did not notice much difference between each character with the exception of Ben as he can reload revolvers faster, I played as Ben as he probably the most likable character and I use likable very loosely. 

Problems I have with the gameplay is that the hit detection can be spotty, I’ve had instances where I’ve aimed at their head dead on for my bullet to travel through them which lead me to my death many times. Speaking of death, the time to kill is very inconsistent there are moments where I could take lots of bullets to the face and then there were other times I would get obliterated immediately, which make me want to turn my controller into a new wall mount. I also got very irritated by my partner’s dialogue, where they would comment on how bad my accuracy was when I was nailing headshots where they themselves could not hit an obese cow hogtied on a railroad.

Visually the game is not bad, but it is inconsistent as sometimes it can look fantastic with beautiful desert levels with abandoned towns which were once thriving communities to washed out and bland streets in LA. It’s just odd as there are some parts of the games that look genuinely good; on the other hand there are parts where it looks like someone slapped Vaseline on the camera lens, so much so that I thought my glasses were misty where I had to clean them on many occasions.

Call of Juarez: The Cartel is a decent game; yes it has some flaws with the gameplay, dialogue and visuals however it has an entertaining story with over the top action. I picked this up for my PS3 for the low price of £1.50 and I believe it is a similar price on the 360 so if you see it pick it up, it’s a fun 6-7 hour shooter to pass the time, plus it is a treasure trove if you’re looking to boost your trophies or achievements.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Review - Blow everything up!

By Sam Coles:

If you know me personally or on Twitter you will know my strong opinion on Remasters and Remakes, I’m not opposed to them but they have to be particularly old games with 10 years being the minimum. Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-Tered (what a stupid title), is a remaster that I am fine with because the game was released all the way back in 2009 and plus it ran badly on the PS3 and 360 due to the ambitious destruction physics which weighed down on the limited hardware.

Red Faction Guerrilla’s story takes place on Mars, where the people of Earth have colonised it and it is under martial law due to a small rebellion started by some miners. You play as Alec Mason a miner who has been transferred recently, his brother is killed by the Ultor cooperation as he was a part of the Red Faction resistance and gets mistaken for being a part of the Red Faction due to his association with his brother. Alec joins the Red Faction to get revenge against Ultor, what transpires is Alec smashing, shooting and exploding anyone or anything that gets in his way. The story is not particularly interesting it’s a standard revenge plot, plus the voice acting is spotty it has some decent delivery where other times it just sounds off.

Gameplay is a third person shooter and open world, although the world is rather condense and is not the most varied, see one dusty and sandy path you’ve seen them all. But enough of the dull world you want to hear about the explosions and destruction you can cause on Mars, and I must say being an almost human embodiment of a thunderous Norse god is rather fun. If you see a wall, building watch tower or pretty much anything you can reduce it to dust and cinders, and I always have a grin ear to ear when I’m playing this game because of how fun it is to go around and cause mayhem.

You are tasked in each area of Mars of taking out high value buildings or targets which are generally high ranking officers within the Ultor Corporation. You do this until you have total control of the area, you can also help the cause by freeing POWs or just causing havoc around the open world. It is fun but some of the activities do get a tad repetitive due them never really deviating. You can get the job done with a decent cast of weapons, from you low range but powerful hammer where you can smash through walls like the Coolaid Man to explosives which can level an entire building in one sitting if you lay them out in the correct manner as well as an assault rifle to dispatch Ultor goons.

Visually the game is rather dull, now I’m know what you’re going to say “It’s Mars what do you expect”. That is true but the environments are really boring and flat, this was during the period of gaming where developers were shooting for a “realistic” look with grey and brown hues, which was the equivalent of rubbing faecal matter in my eye. This is a game from 2009 and the character models definitely look like a game from 2009, this is a remaster rather than a remake so they have done the bare minimum by touching up textures, resolution and framerate characters have stiff animations like manikins. I also had an issue with the pre-rendered cutscenes as they look really washed out and compressed, it’s really jarring because when you jump back into gameplay it looks really crisp. Performance is good for the most part, it runs at 60 frames per second but it will stutter a bit when you start to get carried away with explosions.

Red Faction Guerrilla Remastered is a good game, if you have played it before then there is no real reason for you to come back as they have done the bare minimum instead of a massive overhaul. However if you have never played this game before you are in for a treat with plenty of things blow up and tear to pieces.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Metro 2033 Review - Nothing but you and the endless tunnels of darkness

By Sam Coles:

There are certain games that completely immerse you in the atmosphere; Metro 2033 is one of those games that has a great story as it is told through dialogue and the environment itself. Based on the novel of the same name by author Dmitry Glukhovsky, the game was a loose interpretation of the novel and was released in 2010 on PS3, 360 and PC, it also got a re-release in 2014 in a redux collection on Xbox One and PS4. What we got was a tense and immersive first person shooter mixed with survival horror and it is truly a beautiful game.  

Metro 2033 takes place in the titular metros in the year… well 2033, you play as Artyom a ranger who is tasked with destroying the mysterious creatures known as the “Dark Ones”, which sounds more racist every time I hear or say it. He traverses through the dark and for a lack of better words moist tunnels of the metros; he will battle mutated monstrosities that will want to rip his jugular out. He will not only fight mutants, but he’ll have to combat human forces such as the Communists who go by the old rules of Russia and the Reich who are a set of Nazis that are brutal and believe they are the ultimate super power.

Gameplay is a first person survival horror shooter, but there is more of an emphasis on stealth, not that supplies aren’t plentiful although that does vary on the difficulty you play it on. The game wants you to take a more stealthy approach, but it works as well as eating soup with a folk because enemies spot you instantly when they see a spec of your backside sticking out. To be honest it is easier to shoot your way out of most situations especially if you’re playing on normal because most enemies drop ammunition like a piƱata. Shooting feels good, guns have a satisfying punch from the magnum revolver to the earth shattering shotgun which you can upgrade to have four barrels, and yes it looks as ridiculous as it sounds.

As I said earlier ammo is not in short supply, but if you find yourself running low you can use gold Kalashnikov bullets for your AK-47 but this comes at a cost as these function as currency. You come at an impasse where you have to weigh up the odds and think about if you use your gold bullets to get out of a fight or flee knowing you can purchase more supplies later.

I played this on the Xbox One via the Redux collection and it looks fantastic, but even for 2010 it was and still is a looker. They really capture the depressing and oppressive atmosphere of a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland. Character models are a bit rough around the edges, but honestly I’ll look past it as the environments looks stunning so I can ignore them for the most part, plus it is a 2010 release so I expect them to be a bit angular.

Ignoring the weak stealth elements, Metro 2033 is an immersive game with good gunplay and a story that will keep you intrigued. I would recommend picking this game up on PS3, 360, PS4, Xbox One or PC console wise I would recommend getting the current gen version as they run at a higher framerate and resolution.