All that news

29 01 2012

Hi there everybody. I come to you today with pretty much no news, apart from maybe I should do more with my saturdays other than work and play games 😛 So with all that, I’m going to just jump right into things and give you my review of Gears of War 3. Enjoy your read and please comment below 🙂

Gears of War 3 Review

The Gears of War franchise has established itself on the grounds on great, fast paced, cover based shooting and plenty of ways to paste our enemies across the walls. Gears of war 3 is no different, adding a couple new weapons and modes into the mix, aswell as bringing the lambent into the spotlight of the story, offering us even more types of enemies to get caught on the wrong side of our shotgun.

The story kicks off roughly two years after Jacinto, the last human stronghold was flooded in an attempt to wipe out the locust at the end of Gears of War 2. It would seem that humanity’s plan didn’t work, and the loscust are still the scourge of humanity. The story picks back with Marcus Fenix and his buddies living on a colony cruise ship, and big surprise, it gets invaded by the lambent. At this point, Marcus learns that his father may still be alive, and have important information about the locust. From then on this game is all about finding Marcus’ father, and hoping he has found a way to rid the locust threat once and for all.

The story gives us plenty enough motivation to keep on gunning through the (roughly) 6 hour campaign. Plenty of set piece moments and boss battles keep the pace up and the action high. This is the ending of a trilogy, so expect deaths, on both sides of the battle, and the death scenes were some of the best bits of storytelling the trilogy has seen to date. However, I still found the story to be little more than a reason to just blow things up. This is no reason to fear buying this game, because the rest of the game is really where the game shines through.

Firstly, the addition of an arcade mode to the campaign is a welcome addition. Adding a level of competetive play within the co-op story mode, as all of the players fight together against the locust horde, but at the same time compete for the most kills in an attempt to rack up more points than their buddies. It works great for the most part, however there are times when, if you’re not playing with players you don’t know, there may be moments, like in all games, where selfishness occurs, and opponents will leave you to die. Luckily however, players will respawn 30 after death, so long as one player stays alive, leaving frustration to a minimum.

The multiplayer mode is also now much improved, with dedicated servers working away behind the scenes, the lag is now almost non existent, and matchmaking speeds are hugely improved from the other titles. Not to mention the great new team deathmatch variation, which gives the whole team a pool of respawns to share, meaning that teamwork becomes even more important, if anybody just continues to run into no-mans land and die, then the whole team suffers. This new variation of the classic Gears gameplay is possibly the best so far, and the new best way to play multiplayer in Gears of War 3.

Then there is the new take on horde mode. Horde 2.0 adds fortifications and upgrades to this fantastic mode, and the game that defined the horde mode has now redefined it, making it harder, better and a whole lot more fun than ever before. Not to mention the boss wave on every tenth wave, pitting us against the likes of berserkers and brumaks. This then manages to destroy all your fortifications, and also, all of your plans, sending you and your buddies into panic mode as you scramble around the battlefield trying to wear down those big beasties. With fences, turrets, sentry guns, decoys and silverbacks all at your disposal, there are plenty of ways to keep back the devastating horde invasion. It’s a fresh a wonderful take on the much imitated mode, making it the best around yet again.

Finally, there is the all new beast mode. Beast mode is essentially a horde mode, which puts you in the shoes of the locust, letting you play the part of wretches and tickers, all the way up to bloodmounts and berserkers. This mode can be fantastic fun, giving us even more variation in gameplay, and who would have ever thought that playing kamikaze as a little ticker would ever be so much fun. Unfortunately the downside to this is that it really doesn’t last long enough, with only 12 rounds before the end, the fun ends almost as soon as it begins, with many players only unlocking the higher tier locust to play as right before it finishes, it leads to many wishing they had a bit longer to play around with all those bid baddies we’ve been crushing all these years.

Now with all these modes to play through, plus the ability to play through all of them with at least 3 other players at once, it’s easy to see why there is plenty of bang for your buck here in Gears of War 3. Plus, with an experience and unlock system that runs through the whole game, rewarding you with character and weapon skins, executions and mutators (e.g. infinite ammo and big head mode), there is plenty of reason to see it all here, and give everything a go, and many reasons to keep coming back for more.

That doesn’t mean however that there aren’t disappointments. Although there are many changes to the modes, trying to find the changes made to the core gameplay starts to become a little bit more difficult. Yeah, alright, they have the new mantle kick, allowing you to kick enemies into a stagger if they are in the way of you mantling over a wall, and yeah, they have a couple new weapons like the digger, and sawn-off shotgun. However, other than that, it feels pretty much like playing a very extensive Gears of War 2 DLC pack at times within the game.

You may have noticed however that graphically, this game has certainly had a nice bump up, this game is beautiful, and once again finds itself  being one of the most fantastic looking games of the year. Running at a smooth frame rate that never lets up, even when there are dozens of locust baring down on you. In fact, the whole presentation of the game is nothing but stellar, with a great soundtrack, wonderful, varied environments and an overall polish to the whole game, it’s clear to say that plenty of time and effort has been put into making this the best sounding and looking game of the trilogy so far. Also take note that the sound of a mans head being trampled into the ground has never been so satisfyingly crunchy.

So while not having a bunch of brand new content, there is still no denying the awesomeness that is Gears of War 3. With really tight and focused gameplay, some of the finer moments in the story so far and plenty of modes to play, this is definitely Gears at its finest.


Three Is The Magic Number

27 01 2012

Hello again, I hope this post finds you all in a good mood, because it certainly has me. A week has passed since a PS3 has been finally brought into my life, after many years of service from my Wii and 360. Let me tell you guys now, there is nothing quite like having all three consoles (albeit for a very short time, as the WiiU arrives this year :/). With the ability to now search out the best deals between 360/PS3, and buy a game I want on whichever console has more game content, I couldn’t find myself in a much better position, not to mention, I get to play all console exclusives now. The main thought coming from this was, in what world does a fanboy actually benefit? surely everyone would be better off if they left their petty arguments and grudges to die, and just had the best of all worlds. Anyway, that’s another matter entirely, as today I am bringing you my final part to my guide to gaming on a budget, in the form of a list of great game for under £10. Please, as usual comment below and tell me what you think, or if I’ve missed anything out. Enjoy 🙂

Top 10 games for under £10

Right, I’m going to start off with a couple of rules I’m sticking to, just so nobody gets all flustered about my selection. Firstly, I am going to stick to games from ‘this gen’ (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) as to try to stay relevant, and besides, most games from earlier are below £10 anyway. Secondly, I am going to be sticking to retail games only, as the amount of great games and DLC you can get on XBLA, PSN and Steam is huge, and mostly under the £10 price mark, yet again. Lastly, all games from the same series will be sharing the same spot, as to be able to fit more great games on this list for you guys.

10. Blazblue Calamity Trigger + Continuum Shift (PS3, Xbox 360)

Now, really, most fighting games of this gen could have been put in this spot, but for me Blazblue has trumped them all. Yeah, sure, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat may also be great fighters, but for me, none of them can match up to Blazblue’s speed, precision, balance, depth and unique style, making it a complete steal. Obviously the better choice is Continuum Shift, as it has more characters and stages, not only that, but as it is the later game, the developers have had more time to balance and refine the game to near fighting perfection. Also make sure to keep an eye out for Continuum Shift II, when it hits consoles later this year.

9. Metroid Prime Trilogy + Other M (Wii)

Two very different Samus based bargains this time. Metroid Prime Trilogy is a combination of the two gamecube classics and the third Prime installment on the Wii, all in one box. It also gives players the chance to play the first two for the first time with Wii-based controls, making them even better than before. You can’t possibly turn down not one, but three of the best Metroid games ever for such a low price point. Other M is an attempt to return the series to it’s roots, turning it back into the fast paced side scroller it became famous as, it also adds a first person perspective to the mix whenever you aim the wiimote at the screen, allowing you to take a look around for clues on the fly. Although not quite as good as the Prime trilogy, if you are a fan of the old fashion Metroid games, its worth more than a look at.

8. Bayonetta (PS3, Xbox 360)

With the fourth Devil May Cry game showing it’s age according to many, Bayonetta attempted to pick up the slack, and give Dante a bit of a kick up the arse, and boy did it. Although Bayonetta’s style didn’t go down with the masses as much as hoped, not many people can deny, in terms of gameplay, Bayonetta truly took things up a gear or two. Offering some great weapons, and the chance to equip two at the same time, the numbers of ways to kill your victims was truly awesome. With tight controls and combat, every single kill you get feels earned, as does every death. In Bayonetta, there is no frustration, if you fail, you’re just not good enough.

7. Gears of War 1 + 2 (Xbox 360)

With the original game bringing great cover mechanics to the masses, and the second bringing us the much imitated horde mode, it’s pretty easy to say that Gears has left its mark on many games over the past few years. Although these games don’t have all the refinements and modes that come with the third installment, they’re still a blast to play through with a mate by your side. If nothing else, the joys of shooting a torque bow into a locust’s crotch never truly wear off.

6. LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

Possibly the first game to ever make our own imagination our enemy, LittleBigPlanet brings us Joy around every corner, and just as you thought there was nothing more to discover or make, you’ll be wrong, with literally limitless combinations of things to make, no two levels are ever the same, and days can be spent just trying to make your own LittleBig masterpiece. It may take some time to learn the ins and outs of level making, but it’ll be worth it, and when you are making your very own answer to Mario, you won’t regret it.

5. Dead Space 1 + 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Just as we thought survival horror may have infected its last mansion, Dead Space came along. With a great environment, combat and weapons, Dead Space was bound to be a great game, but its story and atmosphere was what made Dead Space a true classic. Reviving the survival horror genre from a bleak future, these games have reminded us how to be careful with our ammo, and that our health won’t always regenerate, no matter how much we need it to. The second game also added a (really unnecessary) multiplayer mode, for all of you wanting to tear your friends apart with your bare claws. This is easily the best the genre has to offer over the past few years, and one that nobody looking for a good scare should miss out on.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

Although this game is essentially a gamecube game, disguised as a Wii game with some waggle action, Twilight Princess is still a stellar game, and still one of the best games out on the system, despite being a launch game. Probably even more impressive is that many fans regard it as one of the best games in the Zelda franchise, which is certainly a huge claim to make. With some very clever dungeon design, and its lengthy play time, this is certainly one hell of a bargain if you have yet to pick it up yet, and one that no Wii owner should miss out on.

Fallout 3 + New Vegas

Fallout 3 is to this date, one of my favourite games of all time, with a vast world to explore, and an engaging story that includes some fabulous characters and moments. This game gets even better with its DLC offerings, with broken steel ‘fixing’ the ending, and giving us a chance to follow on the story after the rather disappointing original effort, some of the best moments are hidden away in these, making the game that much bigger, if absolutely massive wasn’t big enough for you. Even though the sequel wasn’t quite the masterpiece that Fallout 3 was, New Vegas added many things like gun mods and factions to the game, and still has plenty of great moments that any wanderer of the wasteland would be foolish to miss.

2. Bioshock 1 + 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Easily on of the most atmospheric shooters ever, Bioshock offered us a trip under the sea to a place called Rapture, for a rollercoaster ride of a story, that offers beautifully creepy twists and turns that will have you questioning every character in the game from start to finish. Not to be forgotten are the big daddies and little sisters, these big brutes guard ‘their children’ with their life, and if you ever want the chance to save or harvest the little darlings, you’re going to have to get through them first. The sequel offered improved combat, and gave us the chance to be our very own big daddy, but was never quite the same as the first game. Whilst still a great title in its own right, Bioshock 2 will leave you wanting a bit more. This is where its DLC may prove handy, as the Minerva’s Den add-on returns the title to great form. Pick these two up if you already haven’t, and you’ll see why everybody is so damn excited for Bioshock Infinite to launch later this year.

1. Mass Effect 1 + 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

With Mass Effect 3 coming out in a couple short months, it’s never been a better time to jump into the boots of commander Shepard and try to save the universe from the peril of the reapers. With Mass Effect being much more a typical Bioware RPG, with a splash of extra awesome, and the second installment being focused much more on a great combat system, there is a bit for everybody in the mass effect universe. You’ll want to keep in mind every decision you make, as even things you decide in the first game will have ramifications in the third title. Chose to let a squad mate die, and you’ll never see them again, which can be tough when that stretches through three whole games, and trust me, you’re going to be reminded about it whether you like it or not. Make sure you’re the best commander Shepard you can be, the fate of the universe depends on it.

After the storm

25 01 2012

Hi guys, now, as some of you may have noticed, it has been a few days without a post now, which I am very sorry for, It has been a hectic few days involving my birthday, moving back to uni, and doing some assignment work. However hopefully I can get back on to my schedule from now and get back to bringing you daily updates 🙂 As promised in my last post, I’m going to bring you a list of ‘hidden gems’ from 2011, try not to pay too much attention to ranking, just take note that all these games are awesome 🙂 Also, if there are any games you feel are worthy to be on this list, please comment and tell me below, after all, there are probably games that I have missed out on too :).

Top 10 games of 2011 (you probably haven’t played)

10. Shadows of the damned (PS3, Xbox 360)

Made by the twisted mind behind the likes of No More Heroes and Killer 7, Shadows of the damned follows suit in the twisted, hellish craziness department, with a crude humour to match. With your girlfriend being taken hostage by a demon, it’s your job to jump straight into hell after her and shoot everything that gets in your way with your boner (…the name of your gun). Whilst technically not the best game ever, it will certainly leave an impression on you, and if you have an ounce of insanity in you, you’ll not want to miss out on this…experience.

9. Might and Magic: Clash of heroes (DS, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

With this game already featuring on my top 10 GOTY list, you guys should probably have already guessed this is a great game. With a wonderful presentation, a lengthy campaign, great multiplayer, and a simple, yet beautifully realised puzzle battle mechanic, this game should be on everybody’s list of games to get, might and magic may be an old franchise, but this release showed the world it still has what it takes to stay more than relevant, let’s just hope it isn’t the last we see of it.

8. Dark Souls (PS3, Xbox 360)

Well, with a tag line of ‘prepare to die’ it doesn’t take a genius to realise this game is going to be a tough nut to crack. Whilst not always difficult for the right reasons (the game basically throws you in at the deep end, and leaves you there to figure things out yourself) it is fair to say that death will most certainly be on the cards. Luckily a brilliant mechanic in the game helps make up for it. When playing on the game online, you will encounter the souls of other players from where they have died, leaving you tips on what the next area may involve, or the weakness of a specific enemy etc. it’s a small but game changing idea, and I for one love it.

7. Rayman origins (3DS, PS3, PSVita, Wii, Xbox 360)

Whilst many ‘gamers’ passed on this game due to its childish (albeit amazing) appearance, it’s easy to say that they are missing out on some good old fashion, beautifully tweaked Rayman platforming. Throw some 4 player co-op a la Super Mario Bros. Wii, and some really challenging levels later on in the game, and Rayman Origins is a glorious return to form for our favourite free-floating hero, and for many, the best in the series so far.

6. Magic: the Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Although the card game this game is based on is anything but new, this game brings us a great way to discover and play it through. Don’t get put off if you’ve never played the card game before, as I hadn’t either. However, it is simple enough to learn, and difficult enough to master that it will leave everybody happy, newcomers and veterans alike. With several modes to play, from a campaign to unlock new decks and cards, to an extremely difficult archenemy mode, which pits you and two mates (or AI) against one super powerful enemy, this game certainly has enough to keep you going, and trust me, you’ll want to.

5. LA Noire (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Ever want to be a 1950’s cop in L.A. solving murder cases and more? Yeah, me neither really, that is until I saw footage of LA Noire, from then, it became a dream of mine. A dream that was beautifully realised by this great game by Rockstar. Giving us a look at what life is like on the other side, this game is a huge departure from GTA, however the quality is certainly still there. Letting us examine crime scenes, compete in car chases and even interrogate suspects (the facial scan technology they used means unparalleled facial animation, and some of the best acting in a game, ever). Despite whether you want to be an oldy-worldy cop or not, you should give this game a chance to interrogate the socks off you.

4. Bastion (PC, Xbox 360)

After ‘the calamity’ leaves the world in pieces, it is up to you to put the bastion back together, and make the best of a bad situation. An isometric dungeon crawler with a twist or two, this game will leave you wanting a narrator of your own (he narrates over the whole game, and it’s dynamic, to match whatever you are doing the in the game). The fluid combat and great weapons are more than enough to motivate you through bringing an entire world back from the brink of death. Not to mention all the little extra bits you’ll come across. This fantastic looking game will leave you begging for more, now let’s just hope we get it.

3. Bulletstorm (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

With epic games offering the Gears 3 beta codes along with a pre-order of this game, it’s fair to say that many people who bought this game, never truly wanted to play it. However more fool them, as secretly, we all should have been buying this game, even if it denied us access to the beta. With the game giving us almost limitless ways to kill anybody stupid enough to get in the way, and the skillshot system rewarding us for finding them all, Bulletstorm is an almost limitless cycle of killing, and buying new death machines, leaving us more than happy gamers in the process.

2. LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)

Just missing out on the number 1 spot is the sequel to MediaMolecule’s fabulous imagination implementor, LittleBigPlanet. Number 2 simply gives us much much more, and lets us do what we want with it. Giving us new items, like the grapple hook, new genres of gaming to design, and even the option to make our very own cut scenes, no game has ever been so close letting us make our very own games, however we want to make them. Boasting an impossibly big combination of possibilities, no game has ever relied so much on us gamers. The bet pays off big time, with the community on this game flourishing, and more and more levels to play being added every day, you don’t even need to be a genius level designer in the making to appreciate this game, you can simply abuse the efforts of others and play their wonderous  levels. With all this and the ability to play almost all of it with 3 other friends, you certainly wont be running out of things to do on LittleBigPlanet 2 anytime in the near future.

1. Terraria (PC)

Simply put, this 2D lovechild of Zelda and Minecraft has captivated me, and many other gamers who have played it. With an ever-growing amount of enemies, bosses, weapons, armour and everything else in between, Terraria has a little bit for everyone. You can just build a massive fortress for you and the NPC’s to live in whilst the zombies and demon eyes haunt your nights forever, or you can build a little hut for a base, and go wild with exploration, all the way to the depths of hell, where you will more than likely be killed by the demons or the lava. This game has so much to discover that you will more than likely never find it all, and if you ever plan on it, be prepared to lose entire weekends spelunking caverns with your friends. So put on your rocket boots and equip your demon bows, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Getting old

20 01 2012

Hey guys, I’m writing to you today on the last ever day of me being a teenager, and it’s starting to make me feel old. However, today, as a nice introduction into true adulthood, I had to shovel out a bunch of money on a train, just to get home and visit family. This made me feel rather poor, and started to make me think about how I ever manage to keep up my oh so expensive hobby that is gaming. So I thought I’d bring you a 3 part guide to gaming on a budget. Firstly, today I have written you guys the methods I use to save money on gaming and get all those wonderful games to play. Then, over the next two days I shall post up A) a list of the best games of 2011 you may not have played/heard of   and B) a list of great games to get for under £10.

A Student’s Guide: Gaming on a Budget

Well, being a student in this day and age means one thing for sure, a severe lack of money to go around, so I have had to learn how to game on a very small budget. Today, being the lovely person I am, I’m going to share these tips on how I manage it with you guys. Hope you enjoy, and as always, feel free to leave comments and tell me how you guys save those pennies when gaming.

Time is your greatest ally

Well, I mean really, this one kinda goes without saying, but don’t go out buying all those games on release day. Games that may cost £40 on release will quickly drop in price to £20-30 within the space of about of a month, and although this may not sound like much at the time, if you make up to £20 saving every time you buy a game, it will certainly add up, and let you buy twice as many games. However, if there is a game that you really want to get on release, and you can’t bear to wait any longer, then I would actually recommend going out on a limb and pre-ordering it, as often you get little bonus content for showing your loyalty to the game. Another good tactic is to try and go to the midnight launch for the title, as often, specialist game retailers will also give out little incentives with the game to promote their midnight launches (for example, I got given 800 MS points free at the launch of Gears of War 3 at GAME).

Be Independent

By this of course, I mean that you should start playing more indie games. With many of the bigger indie titles offering as good a gaming experience as retail games (titles like Minecraft, bastion and super meat boy spring to mind), but only costing a fraction of the price, many of them can be a steal. With Xbox Live, PSN and WiiWare getting in on the indie action, it has never been easier to get your hands on these great titles, and plus, many of these developers may grow to make your next favourite blockbuster game, we just need to support them now as well, whilst they are still growing.

Timing is everything

Now, although you may only need to wait several weeks for retail games to drop in price, downloadable titles are a bit more stubborn when it comes to their price point. However, there is a way to get around this, and that my friends, is sales. With the holidays having just passed, many of you may have noticed huge price drops in some amazing, downloadable titles, and this gives you the perfect opportunity to grab those games you’ve been meaning to get, but haven’t wanted to fork out the cash for. For example, the holiday steam sale was magnificent, with many titles dropping in price by more than 50% for almost a whole month, and then the daily deals crunching those even further, to the point where some games were 80+% off their normal prices, you’d have to be crazy to not take advantage. The trick with these sales is to wait until the last day to buy anything you want, because at any point it could turn out to be part of the daily deals (which is when you really want to buy them). It’s not just the holidays to watch out for though, sales can happen at any point throughout the year, and with most services offering special deals every week/weekend, you have to stay vigilant, otherwise you may miss out on some fantastic deals.

Saving you a bundle of moneys

Buying in bulk

With all of these fantastic services offering us our games at great prices, many developers need ways to make their games stand out. It seems that right now, bundles is the next big thing. With things like the ‘humble indie bundle’ offering you a great selection of games, at a price point of your choosing (although you get more games if you pay more than the average price paid, which is usually around $6/7, which is a steal for 7/8 great titles), you can’t really go wrong, even if you only like 1 or 2 of the titles, you’re still paying way below the odds (often the value of these bundles is around $100), and as a nice little touch, they let you choose how much of your payment goes to the developer, with the rest going to charity. It’s not just indie developers that are doing this either. When on steam, you may notice that many developers are offering all of their games in one huge bundle, at a slightly discounted price. Wait until the sales however, and you can grab some bundles worth £300+ for less than £100, and you don’t need me to tell you, that’s a bargain.

Start subscribing

With services like Lovefilm becoming more and more common, renting games has never been easier. Pay a subscription fee (packages range from roughly £5 to £20 a month) and you can start renting all of those titles you’ve been meaning to play, without having to buy any of them. I will say this much however, although this may be good for you wallet, I will still plead you on a moral basis to not use this method, as it leaves the developer severely out of pocket, meaning that in the future they may not be able to make any more of their amazing games for you. However, in an attempt to try and be as informative and useful as possible, I am obliged to tell you this, as it is genuinely a great way to save some cash.

pay for one game, get two... o.O

One man’s trash is another’s treasure

Like my last point, I will urge you to stay away from this tactic as often as possible, because those lovely developers gain nothing from this method either. However, used games is truly a great way to save huge amounts of your precious money With most game retailers offering other peoples unwanted games at discounted prices, this can be another method of picking up newly released titles at a fraction of the price, with games pricing at about £5-10 cheaper than their freshly packaged siblings. Buying used games is also often your only option if you are hunting down some old classics that you missed out on…speaking of which…

Respect your elders

Tracking down older games can be a great way to use up your time while you are waiting for those new games you’ve got your eyes on to drop in price. Searching round the internet for some good games you may have let pass you buy over years gone by can be one of your greatest options. The only problem can be buying them, as many retailers may have stopped selling these games by the time you try to acquire them, leaving you with no other option than to try and see if one just happens to be sitting in the pre-owned section of your local stores, or leaving you to try and win a tense bidding war for some lucky seller’s version of the game.

How could you possibly resist?


They’re called ’hidden gems’ for a reason

Chances are, that at some point down the line, there have been a few stellar titles that you will have never even heard of. With many of these great games dropping to ridiculously low prices really quickly due to lack of sales, going for un-noticed games is truly one of your best, and most satisfying bets. With many of these games dropping to as low as £10 within 4-6 weeks of release, you can find yourself buying 3 or 4 fantastic titles for the price of one, and all of them can be sparkling new in the process. The only catch however is that you’ll have to hunt them down. Scrounge around the internet and do you homework (a good place to start is looking for peoples ‘best games you may not have played’ lists etc.). However, if you keep seeing games crop up on a number of these lists, it’s probably a good sign that you should be trying them out, maybe try seeing if any of them have demos to try them out, make sure if they are the right game for you.

Friends do have their uses

If all other options fail you, maybe find a friend that is as big a gamer as you, and strike some sort of deal with them, in which you both borrow games from each other (it’s only fair they get something from you too). Again, this does short change developers, but maybe if you both strategically plan games to buy new, with the plan to lend them to one another, and everyone benefits. Just make sure you check how well they take care of their own games before you start trusting them with your precious possessions. After all, games are for life, not just for Christmas.

Do all good things have to come to an end?

19 01 2012

Hey guys, well, I’m afraid to say I don’t have much news for you today, having only woken up about an hour before writing this, and falling asleep after writing my two previous posts for you lovely readers yesterday, I’m afraid not much has happened. The demo for Resident Evil: Revelations has been put on the 3DS store today, so I shall hopefully be giving you my thoughts on that sometime soon.

Today however, I decided to stick with my emphasis on the games for the many, and move my way onto co-op gaming. Now, I’m going to a games night later on, and although there are options out there to play, for the most part, we are usually left with either having to play a competitive game, or all watch one person play on a game, taking it in turns to give everyone a go. What I really want to know, is what ever happened to co-op gaming and the world of local multiplayer. As always, please leave comments below on what your thoughts are on the state of ‘local’ gaming.

The death of the ‘games night in’?

As much fun as games can be whilst playing them in solitude til 5am in a dark room, there is no denying that when you get the right games, playing them with others can be a much more fun experience. Throughout all of my gaming life, I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun gaming than when me and mates have grabbed some junk food and energy drinks, and prepared for one hell of a games night. However, with the evolution of internet gaming, these experiences seem to be going out of fashion, playing the same games, with the same people, but in the comfort of your own home, without having to make any effort, it’s not difficult to see why people have chosen to go with the times and turn to a headset relationship with their friends.

However, is the future really the way forward? to this day, I have still never quite gotten the same experience from a headset as I have my friends, and I can’t see that changing any time soon. So, why don’t we all just stand up and rebel against this silly tradition? simple, because even the games industry is fighting against us.

With nearly everybody and their grandparents being connected to the internet in this day and age, developers are starting to feel like having online multiplayer in their games is a must. Even games which we didn’t really expect/want multiplayer options for (bioshock 2, dead space 2, mass effect 3…) have started putting it in their games, almost as if they feel they have to include it, or people won’t buy their game. In all of their excitement though, their vision seems to have become blurred, as many multiplayer offerings nowadays are online only, and some of them don’t even let you have a guest account play along with you.

remember this?

It’s rather odd really, the game series that kicked off the online multiplayer craze, Halo, let’s you play campaign, firefight, forge mode and multiplayer all with a friend or two sitting on your sofa next to you. This may make you think that developers would take a page from their book, but clearly not. Very few games out today let you play 4 player split-screen, and many others don’t even let you play with just one other friend locally. It seems everything must be done online in this day and age to ‘stay relevant’.

It’s not all bad though, some of the best multiplayer games of recent memory have still let you and your buddies play together, games like Gears of War 3, Halo: Reach and Left 4 Dead 2 all let you share the fun with at least one other member of the household, heck, even the Call of Duty games have 4 player split-screen, albeit without any AI bots to add to the mix.

How more games should be played

We also still have the option a having LAN parties, however, this still involves playing on multiple different monitors, so kind of takes away from the social experience. Also with these hard financial times going on, can we really expect every person who wants to play a game with their friends to have a copy of the game, a console to play it on and a spare TV or monitor to take to a mates house? not to mention the increased amount of effort involved, leaving even more people to just result to playing over the internet.

All of these problems and I haven’t even talked about the co-op side of things. Now, don’t get me wrong, with an emphasis on multiplayer in gaming right now, and the increased possibilities due to online gaming, there are actually more games embracing the co-op mode in recent years. My issue with them is that many of them feel like tacked-on afterthoughts, just like some of the multiplayer offerings of late. With many games simply re-using parts of the single player and adding a second player, or simply adding in a clone of player 1 into the single player (often ending up in a restricted experience), it’s fair to say that pickings are slim when looking for a fully fledged co-op experience.

Games like portal 2 have shown the world how to do co-op properly, offering us new locations, puzzles and story for us to enjoy along the way, portal 2’s offering is a near perfect co-op experience, making us truly need to work together to progress through, whilst giving us the opportunity to kill each other in imaginative ways every now and then, just for the giggles. Not to mention the other little touches they put in there, like having pointers and countdowns for you to utilize if words are failing you both. Plus, guess what, all of this is available to play split-screen, making this wonderful slice of portal cake even better.

get ready for some hardcore hugging.

Now really, I’m not saying I want any of this online nonsense to disappear, I think it’s a great thing to have. I would just like you developers out there to not forget about us gamers who like to socialize, and I’d like them to realise that a headset is really no substitute for having a few friends over to share the mayhem and laughter in person. There aren’t many bonding sessions that can claim to be quite as fun as a games night in, so what are you waiting for, call up your buddies and tell them to come round for a good old-fashioned gaming marathon.

Skyward Sword Review

19 01 2012

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the Wii’s one last big hurrah before it gets overshadowed by the impending launch of the WiiU in 2012, and let me tell you right now, this is one hell of a swan song and the perfect way to celebrate 25 years of possibly the finest gaming franchise of all time.

Skyward Sword actually takes place before any of the other games in the series, and tells the origins of the master sword, and the story behind it. This results in the world of Hyrule being transformed once again, this time, bringing a big chunk of the landscape into the sky, and it just so happens that, on this island in the sky is where our heroes, Link and Zelda call home.

Like most other Zelda games, we start the game as a humble little boy called Link, who is living a normal life, until a drastic event occurs, throwing our hero into the role he was destined for. This, however is where the similarities end. From the very start of the game, there is an emphasis on the relationship between Zelda and Link, telling the story of two childhood friends whose relationship is blossoming from the moment the game begins. Nintendo boldly went where they have never gone before with Zelda this time round, and I never want to go back. Despite a lack of voice acting, the amount emotion conveyed through the characters is unbelievable, leaving me genuinely caring for Zelda and Link’s relationship, after those few short hours they spend together at the very beginning of the game. It’s not just the main characters that will leave and impression on you either, every one of the characters in Skyloft, the games main (and only) town, makes a lasting impression on you, regardless of how little a role (if any) they actually play in the story. This is a testament to the sheer charisma that this game squeezes out of every orifice, everything you encounter in the game will feel like it has a purpose, and Nintendo have found a way to keep the wonderment going throughout the entire game.

The gaming couple of the year

They have completely nailed the story too, it follows a simple premise, save Zelda, and even though you are saving the entirety of Hyrule in the process, it feels like a positive side-effect of saving what you really care about. The aforementioned relationship that is formed between you and Zelda is enough to drive you emotionally through the game, and leaves you genuinely wanting to go ‘save the princess’. Nintendo have cleverly played to this in small ways throughout the game, for example, you are constantly aiming towards wherever Zelda may be heading next, there is no ‘save Hyrule’ to be seen, your one and only thought is you must save the girl you care so much about. However, the story is still fascinating, leading into tales of demons, goddesses and sacred swords, if rescuing Zelda is not enough to keep you going (firstly, you should feel ashamed), then the story will more than likely entice you through its twists and turns to the point of no return.

The antagonist of the game, Ghirahim, is a cocky, creepy and wonderful character. You’ll be wanting to slash your way through him from the moment you meet him, and unlike other games, the game gives you the opportunity. For the first time ever, you get to fight the antagonist on more than one occasion, at several points in the game. I love this approach, as it gives you a closer connection to Ghirahim, and makes you want to foil his plans all that much more, it also relieves some of the anger I always have for enemies in games, in which they encounter you several times, and never attempt to stop you until the end of the game. I also found myself loving your companion, Fi, who is charming in her own almost robotic way, try to think of Fi as Zelda’s answer (albeit a less funny answer) to portal’s GLaDOS, in the sense that the humour comes from the lack of understanding of human emotion.

You're doing it wrong!

Skyward Sword is the first Zelda to truly embrace motion controls, and after playing it, I find myself wondering how I have ever played a Zelda game without them. Utilizing the Wii motionplus add-on, Skyward Sword offers precision controls throughout, and lets us play around with Link’s sword. Using 1:1 control, we finally get unhindered control over the mighty master sword. This automatically makes the game better in more ways than I ever considered. The combat is now fluid, precise and can be rather challenging if you don’t pay attention to where you are waggling. Every slice, stab and spin you make is mirrored perfectly and can be the difference between life and death, as enemies now block and parry your attacks, and if you make a wrong move, prepare to pay for it, especially in the boss fights, which are easily some of the best bosses I have encountered ever (not even in just Zelda games).

One monumental change that has been made to the game is the layout of the world itself. Gone are the barren plains that have haunted previous games, and in place of them are concise areas of land, containing more puzzles, enemies and challenges than ever before outside of a dungeon in Zelda, so much so that the areas themselves feel like mini-dungeons. They act as training grounds for the real challenges that lay ahead in the beautifully crafted dungeons. These too have received a bit of a shrink in terms of size, taking less time than a dungeon in your typical Zelda game. However, they also contain some of the cleverest design ever seen in a Zelda game, with the clear, shining example being the areas which switch between two-time zones on the fly through the use of time crystals, that cause a small area around the crystal to revert to how they were in the past, which results in enemies being spawned from skeletons, puzzles being activated and even landscape to be changed.

Oddly enough, despite everything I just said, Skyward Sword manages to be one of the biggest Zelda games to date, replacing empty spaces with areas so perfectly crafted it scares me slightly. This game could easily last a person 50 hours when taking into account all of the hidden treasures, heart pieces and side quests, and I haven’t even started on the upgrade system yet. Also, to make things even better, the game adds a new game plus type feature into the mix, which makes the game more difficult if you play it through a second time. They have also added in a time trail mode where you can attempt a marathon of all the bosses in the game in one go and see how fast you can do it.

Now, we all realise that the Wii has been showing its age over the last couple of years, however, the art style of Skyward Sword is exquisite, and almost like a moving painting. I love it so much that I could easily see myself comparing it to the likes of uncharted 3 and more for the best looking game of the year. Simply put, the all around presentation of the game is something which I thought was impossible to achieve on the Wii. Stunning graphics, amazing set-pieces and not to mention a beautiful soundtrack (as always) that was performed perfectly by a full orchestra for the first time in a Zelda game.

Easily the best looking Wii game to date

The truth is, words cannot really do justice how amazing this game plays, feels and looks. This review has barely even scratched the surface of what this game has to offer. Not to mention the feeling this game gives you when you are playing it. If all games were this good, then the world would be a better place.For every tiny blemish, there are 100 moments of spectacle that nothing can take away from. If there was an award for ‘best everything’ this game would win it, without a doubt in my mind. This game is a love letter to all that is Zelda, and proves anybody who felt it was an aging title wrong. If all games series can last 25 years and still be this fresh, fun and rejuvenating as this game was to me, then I can’t wait for the next 25 years of games yet to come. Many people still believe Ocarina of Time to be the greatest game of all time, and if Skyward Sword hasn’t stolen the crown, then it has at very least come astonishingly close, and proved the perfect way to celebrate 25 years of gaming brilliance.

I’m back!

19 01 2012

hey guys, now officially able to give you goodies again. 🙂 had a rather hectic day again today. Finished off my assignment today, went for a bit of a shop, got my hair cut far too short, and then died it ‘ultra violet’. So really, a bad day that is starting to get better, but it’s fine, because I have this to take my mind off of things…until I catch my reflection in my laptop and remember how short the hairdresser destroyed my hair to. 😥

Oh well, on to business, first I’m going to give you guys another top 10, and then, after a nice coffee break, I’m gonna get cracking on that skyward sword review I promised you guys. 🙂 Well, I was shopping before and got told by a lovely assistant that, even though I’m the mammoth age of 19, I may be better off looking in the clothes section for children. This then set me in a somewhat nostalgic mood, and to stick with this theme in my head, I have decided that today’s top 10 is going to be “the top 10 games that ‘everybody’ can enjoy”, and I certainly hope that you all enjoy my list too. As usual, feel free to comment and tell me any games that you think I have missed/should check out. 🙂

Top 10 games that ‘everybody’ can enjoy

Right, just a few little things before we start, as usual. Firstly, this list has been compiled with the modern gamer in mind, so with that, I have tried to restrict the list to ‘this gen’ games, just to stop myself listing a bunch of games you may not even have consoles for anymore. The next thing is, I have used the term ‘everybody’, but obviously, I don’t quite mean every single person ever will enjoy these games, but more that these are the kind of games that son, dad and gran could all enjoy together. Lastly, these games all have some sort of multiplayer aspect to them, so that the family can enjoy them together without having to sit on the sofa for a couple of hours before getting a play. Right, let’s do this thing.

10.  Super Mario Galaxy 2

Now, this game is amazing in every sense of the word, however it is only number 10 due to the fact the multiplayer aspect of it is rather poor, only letting the second player control an icon on the screen, which they can use for things like freezing enemies, and shooting star bits. However, don’t let this deter you from playing, as I said before, this is a brilliant game, and is probably a better game than most of the remaining games on the list. The levels are imaginative, fun and at times very challenging. If anybody tells you that mario games have become to easy, just show them this game and it will shut them up. Plus, the star count is huge, with 242 stars to jump, hop and yoshi your way through, this game will last you so long, you’ll be playing it on the WiiU before you even know it.

9.  Plants vs Zombies

You thought nothing could be as fun with shotgunning zombies in the face? well, that’s where you are wrong, Plants vs Zombies combines funny cartoon-style graphics and disco zombies, what more could you want? A co-op mode you say? oh, well it’s funny you should say, because that’s exactly what is has, giving you control over half the amount of plants as normal, you’ll find yourself screaming in excitement (with a hint of rage) at each other as you make a manic attempt to catch all of the sun coming your way, and making sure your other half doesn’t put a plant facing the wrong way. One of the quirkiest and most enjoyable tower defense games I’ve ever played, just hope the other player doesn’t get to put off when they see a Michael Jackson zombie, thriller dance all over their plants.

8. LittleBigPlanet

Whether it’s creating your masterpiece, watching your sackboy burn to death as you try to survive somebody’s re-creation of hell, or just laughing around because you made your sackboy wear some bunny ears and a mustache, LittleBigPlanet is always more fun with an extra sackboy or two occupying your screen with you. LittleBigPlanet’s real genius is that it lets people make anything they can think of, and trust me, some people’s imaginations are messed up, but in some fantastic ways. I’m not even sure I can count the hours I’ve wasted trying to survive shark attacks and death trains, and I regret nothing. 😛

7. Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise

Not only did this cute but addictive sequel add more pinata’s into the mix, across your normal garden, and the new arctic and desert regions. It also added a co-op mode, letting you and your friends all share a garden online and give it the love it deserves. Depending on the friends you choose to share your garden with, the results can be…shocking to say the least. Sometimes you may find that your garden has become a house to a bevy of chewnicorns and a choclodocus. If you trust the wrong people though, well, you don’t get angry, you get even. With numerous ways to get back at your new-found enemy, from smashing his favourite pinata do death with a shovel, to filling their garden with hundreds of weeds and whirlms, getting you revenge can be just as much fun as playing the game ‘properly’, just make sure you are there to see the other person’s reaction.

6. Worms series

Well, okay, technically this is multiple games taking up one spot, but, I don’t really have a favourite, so you can take your pick really. All of the games follow the same premise, use crazy weapons to blow the other teams of worms up. Simple, yet effective. Each game differs in the environments, weapons (although the holy hand grenade and sheep weapons are a must), customization options, and even dimensions (with worms 3 and 4 being 3D versions). However this never changes the sheer giddiness you get from flying a sheep into your friends last worm, firing them into a watery grave. Pick your favourite worms game , stick it here, and you have yourself a number 6 spot my friends.

5. New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Well, the red plumber makes his return to this list, and for very good reason. New Super Mario Bros. brought mario back to a simpler time, when all he had to worry about was if the princess would be in any of these bloody castles. With 2D making a triumphant return to the series, it was only a matter of time before multiplayer was added to the mix. New Super Mario Bros. Wii gave us just that, as well as a side order of new items, levels and a return of the wacky koopalings. 4 player mario turned out to be even more fun, and more mayhem than we ever imagined, with the ability to pick up and jump on your fellow players, loving families can become sibling rivalries, but it’s all in good fun, right?

4. Minecraft

What could possibly be better than building blocky castles? how about building a blocky empire with all of your best friends…that is of course, until you all turn  each other and start finding ways of sabotaging each others masterful creations, that, my good sirs, is war. The great thing about minecraft is that, not only are there almost limitless ways to build structures, there are also near limitless ways to build traps. Surrounding your fortress with lava, setting explosives to pressure plates hidden in the floor, or simply trapping creepers in your entrance to greet any unwanted visitors, there are many ways to surprise your buddies, and if your feeling really cruel, you could steal all their belongings when they die…but that’s just cruel. Speaking of which, I am seeing a trend in these games, it seems that people rather enjoy killing each other, especially when you’re not meant to. 😛

3. Rock Band 3

Well this game is one which you will certainly not be sabotaging each other, in fact quite the opposite, with the right players, this game can turn into a marathon of rescuing one another from the brink of death (or in this case, being booed off stage). The Rock Band and Guitar Hero games have always been great fun for a groups of all ages, but until Rock Band 3, never have we been able to rock out on our beloved (plastic, but in our heads, real) instruments 7 people at a time. The ultimate party game, Rock Band 3 offers a great range of songs for every music taste (include the DLC count of over 2,000 and you’d have be in-human to not like some of the songs on offer). Simply put, if your looking to keep your neighbours up til 5am whilst having a bloody good time in the process, you can’t get much better than this taste of rhythm game heaven.

2. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

We all know that Nintendo are becoming synonymous for their ‘games for everyone’, so it’s only expected that their games make a few outings on this list. The funny thing is, they had a great formula for one before they probably even knew it. I mean really, what could possibly be better than a game featuring all of their best mascots (and a few obscure ones for all the hardcore fans out there). It was enough for most people who this game could settle those age-old arguments like could like beat pikachu in a fight, and of course, with the addition of brawl to the series, one of the oldest disputes in history was settled, mario vs sonic (mario won, obviously).  Clearly this formula was a winning one, three games have been spawned from it, three games that many people still play today. While many people claimed brawl was a step down from melee on a competitive level, there is no denying that it’s still a hell of a lot of fun, regardless of how balanced/unbalanced the characters are. Really, I mean, who could care less that link is a better fighter than jigglypuff when you’re having this much fun.

1. Mario Kart Wii

What could be better than a game with Nintendos best mascots? how about a fun, crazy, unbalanced racing game featuring the biggest mascot in gaming, and all of his bestest buddies (and enemies). Mario Kart is the definition of a game for everyone, and playing it one the Wii is the most manic one of them all, making it a race of 12 players rather than 8, adding in bikes and some simplified ‘twist to turn’ wiimote control scheme, the craziness and audience has been multiplied. Even though the control scheme is a bit too simplistic for the hardcore, and the blue shells keep on frustrating the skillful, this is what makes Mario Kart Wii truly a game for all people. They have different control schemes for different skill levels, and the items a set up so that the kids have a chance against their parents who have been playing the games since the days of the SNES (and still play it secretly whilst their children are at school). Turns out all you need to have fun with the family is a red plumber and 4 plastic steering wheels.