Saturday, 3 August 2013

A well needed update


First of all i apologies for the severe lack of information in the last couple of months. This is for a variety reasons, first of all I've had a high university work load which has been taking up a lot of my time. Secondly it's those barren summer months where very few games get released and due to this there has been a lack of content to review. Finally an exciting update, episode 1 of the Game Invaders TV show has been created, this was a university project done with a massive £0 budget and an absolutely fantastic team.  It was specified that this show had to be filmed live, this meant no post production and it had to be shot in one take, so please excuse any hiccups that you might occur or any awkward presenting by myself. So if you wish to watch the final product, here is the you tube link.


With that we go from the past and look onto the future. Expect my next article in September where i will be discussing the highs and lows from London's Eurogamer Expo, this will be my second year attending but first year i will be covering the event..  Reviews most likely won't commence until around October where there will be plenty of titles to choose from. However they will probably still be following the once a month review structure as i will be entering my final year of University. Which brings me onto my final piece of exciting news, I have been green lighted to create my own game "Hyperion" as my final year project, this does mean i will be creating it entirely by myself including but not limited to; designing, 3D model and texture creation, animation, coding and possibly web design. As you can probably tell this is going to be a massive project that will take up a huge portion of my time, so if you don't hear from me from time to time please don't get annoyed, i'm just hard at work (surprisingly). However I will be giving you frequent updates on how the game is coming along and even hopefully have a playable demo for you all this time next year.

But that's all for now, i'll see you in autumn for Eurogamer Expo.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Dead Island: Riptide


The game can’t live up to the trailer, again.



Now don’t get me wrong, Dead Island: Riptide is fun, however there is a lot wrong from this title. The CGI trailer released once again set standards in story line  depth and emotional attachment that simply cannot be matched by the game, in fact with the latter two there is little to no evidence found within the game at all. Its premise is near identical to its predecessor. It carries on directly from the first game with the original four characters: Logan, Purna, Xian and Sam B, as we join them landing on an army vessel after escaping from Banoi with new enemy Serpo conducting experiments on anyone who is considered “immune”. At this point we are joined by a new protagonist hand to hand combat expert John. After a freak storm and sudden breakout of the infection, the ship crashes leaving the five protagonists stranded on the island of Palanai and in need of a way off. If the threat of a zombie apocalypse wasn't a big enough incentive, they now have the present threat of Palanai being on the receiving end of a nuclear bomb. This is the concept that holds the wafer thin story line together throughout the game.

The weapons are the stand out feature of this game, with a nice array of blunt and sharp objects to bludgeon the zombie masses, along with some fun hand to hand combat. These can all be kitted out with the various weapon mods that are found throughout the game, they require specific weapons matched with additional items to create a high powered killing machine. Even with the 50+ different Mods available, It really only comes down to four different types, Fire, Electric, Corrosion, and brute force. The combat itself can feel stiff at times but is fluent enough not to be a problem. Like the first game you have an option to manually control the weapons with the analogue sticks. It’s a nice premise, however it’s ultimately very fiddly and whilst satisfying needs some serious refining to make enjoyable.

The main problem with this game is that it doesn't feel finished; The AI is unbelievably sloppy, with characters wandering off or facing the wrong direction whilst you are engaging them in conversation. The voice acting is abysmal and littered with timing issues and clich├ęs. The Zombies are very one dimensional constantly spawning in the exact same location and only attacking when you get near. The use of guns on the game feels very sluggish and unnecessary when you have an abundance of melee weapons, you only encounter maybe a dozen enemies that need to be engaged in a fire fight, so why bother including them at all. Even the cars feel unneeded as there is only one road you can drive down (Palanai is a lot more constrictive and linear than Banoi). There were copious amounts of glitches, be it the game freezing constantly, the lack of sound,  getting stuck in objects, Or in rare cases game files being completely corrupt and unplayable resulting in having to start the game from scratch.

Even with all these nonsensical features and irritating glitches if you have access to online and a bunch of friends to play with, this game can still be a lot of fun, because at its heart it’s you and some mates killing zombies with gruesome weaponry. The Quests are nice and varied from simply rescuing a survivor (and then for some god forsaken reason, the survivor then decides it’s safe to just sit around), to creating a fish costume for the new superhero on the block, or even just surviving hordes upon hordes of zombies by mowing them down with a Gatling gun. One genius feature is the cross game leveling system. If you have a level 70 and a level 15 in your game, the level 70 won’t be able to rush through it, but at the same time it won’t be impossibly hard for the level 15. This is because of the ingenious system that levels the enemy you are fighting to the level of your own character. You’re both playing in the same game with vastly different levels however the difficulty remains the same for both players. This is a fun game and I have to stress that I enjoyed playing it, however an entertaining game doesn't necessarily make it a good game, there are just too many flaws to overlook, it feels like an expansion pack and not a completely new retail game, for this I give it a 6/10.





Saturday, 20 April 2013

Bioshock Infinite

                                             Would you kindly play Bioshock Infinite?


If i could sum up the game in one sentence it would be this, "Dewitt has to fight racists on a flying city whilst stuffing his face with food." Bioshock Infinite is a great game. I mean a really great game. It is set on a city in the sky called Columbia in the early twentieth century; it has a very similar ideological feel to rapture but is set in a completely different universe.


You take on the character Booker Dewitt an ex-army man turned private investigator with some skeletons in his closet, as he is met with this message “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.” This sparks the tone and premise of the story for the entire game as Booker seeks to rescue Elizabeth from Comstock the ruler or “Prophet” as he is better known, of Columbia. The very first scene is very reminiscent of the original Bioshock with Booker arriving at a lighthouse to find strange transportation that takes him to Columbia. Once there you are met with a lush and vibrant city, on arrival you are greeted by a fair, a festival and a full on Acappella band. From the get go it is hard not to be won over by the city. Columbia is a lot more linear that Rapture, but this doesn't take away from the game play as it limits you only to the most interesting areas. The Lutece siblings are one of the most enjoyable parts of the game, as they present you with choices throughout, the mystery of these two is a real driving force to further the progression of the game. All the characters are well rounded and have a deep back story that you can learn (mostly through Voxophone's), especially Elizabeth, who is a joy to watch as she experiences the joys of the beach, as well as the sorrows of death, for the first time since being locked away from birth. The game for the most part has a steadily action packed pace until the last quarter which is extremely compelling and makes the game hard to put down. This leads to one of the greatest and shocking twist endings in gaming history. It’s hard not to spoil the story if I go into too much depth, so all I can really do is encourage you to live it for yourself.

The game is a first person shooter, with Booker carrying a weapon in his right hand, and a Vigor power in his left. Vigors are drinkable tonics that grant the user supernatural abilities, not to dissimilar from Bioshocks Plasmids. Vigors allow Booker to do things like throw fire or electricity at enemies, or even summon a flock of crows to attack them. The mechanics will be instantly recognizable to anyone who played the original Bioshock, as they are nearly identical. New to this entry is a rechargeable shield and a hooked arm called the skyhook, that Booker can use for melee attacks and gruesome executions, as well as traveling around the city (which is highly entertaining). The only downside of this is that Vigors don’t have a natural reason to be in the game, Plasmids were created as people “spliced” themselves for self-improvement and power. Vigors however seem to be in Columbia just for entertainment.

The graphics take on a slight cartoonish feel; whilst sleek they don’t embody the realism we have come to know with games such as Battlefield or Crysis. This game doesn't take the Horror aspect from its predecessors rather it goes in the direction of an action adventure. The main premise behind the game is that Elizabeth can see and even move between dimensions, leading to some interesting game play dynamics such as pulling through turrets and cover from other worlds. I do however feel this mechanic is criminally underused, I believe they could have explored this much more deeply and feel as if a trick has been missed. 

When all is said and done this game is fantastic. 2K has done an astonishing job to plant secrets, character twists and references from the very beginning that makes fantastic sense on a second play through and if you go back and replay it on the devilishly hard 1999 mode then you’ll pick up on all of this from the start. This is the most fun I have had with a game in a long time. It’s aesthetically pleasing, the audio is great, the game play is solid and the story line is deep, for this I award Bioshock Infinite 9.5 out of 10.


Friday, 29 March 2013

The Walking Dead


The Walking Dead is the highly praised arcade hit that has won countless amounts of GOTY awards (over 70!), Well the exciting news is that the On Disc edition has now been released with all 5 episodes on 1 disc. The Walking Dead is a game based on Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead Comics and also ties into the TV show every so often. It’s a point and click adventure so don’t be expecting to run through countless zombies whilst simultaneously gunning them down.
 
The key idea of this game is all about moral decision making, when each crucial decision changes what happens in the game really entails each player to have a separate emotional attachment to their own game. Your choices, both large and small, have repercussions, and can change the course of the remainder of the game even if it’s only a slight shift. Split-second choices made later in the game can rewrite how people react to you regardless of how you've treated them up to that point, making each and every action all the more important. Inaction, too, is usually an option, amplified by the inclusion of a timer that makes it possible to completely miss a chance at making a decision, forcing you to sit on the side-lines and watch whatever your indifference has brought. It’s decisions like this that make the game play so deep and immersive unparalleled by any other game to date.

 
Incredibly strong writing and voice-acting give the narrative the spotlight it deserves. The main 2 characters (Lee and Clem) are so well written it’s impossible not to invest a strong emotional attachment for the two. The vast majority of the characters you interact with are well-developed, and it’s hard not to feel compassion for every character you meet, making you actually care about who you foster relationships with and who you choose to disappoint. What’s more, your actions have an impact not just on the events that you encounter, but in how people treat you.

 
The games graphics keep Robert Kirkmans The Walking Dead’s identity with some lovely comic book style textures and colouring. This makes the whole gaming experience feel unique, as if you are in the comic book itself. There is an incredible amount of replay ability in this game, for each option in the game (for which there are hundreds) it leads to a different story outcome, and so by the end you really want to see what you could of done differently and who you could of ultimately saved. 


The tense game play coupled with a surprising amount of story line twists, deep character development and moral dilemmas keep you hooked to this game until the ultimate tear jerking finale. This is a truly astounding game and one any avid gamer should pick up and for that reason I award this game 10 out of 10.



MegaMan


When mentioning the retro game era, we commonly think of Mario or Zelda first, forgetting other classics that were out at the time. MegaMan, first released in 1987 and became Capcom's most prolific series, with the publisher still releasing these games today. 

The story starts with you, the player, as a modified housekeeping robot sent to defeat the Mad Scientist Dr. Wily who is attempting to take over the world by reprogramming six powerful robots. It is your job to defeat the bad robots and find the evil Dr. Wily to bring him to justice. The unique selling point for this game was that it was the first game to employ a fully weapons based combat system, a lot different from jumping on the heads or hitting enemies with a sword. However it was the way you could play the game that set itself apart from the rest. MegaMan was the first game where you cloud play the chapters in any order you see fit (which was a lot different from the linear progression of Mario and Zelda). The reasoning was that each boss was more susceptible to a different type of weapon and after defeating a boss you absorb their special ability, helping you to defeat the other bosses who is weakest agents that weapon. 

MegaMan was renowned for being fantastically difficult and still provides a challenge for today's audiences. We ultimately gave this game 6 out of 10, but this is due to how the game would fair in the current day and not when it was originally released.



Assassin's Creed 3

The Assassin's Creed series have always been games of mystery, crammed with secrets, puzzles and references. But now we're approaching the end of the tale, and Ubisoft has promised us a proper ending. In Assassins Creed 3 we see the final chapter of Desmonds story line as he regresses back to the time of The American Revolution and takes on the memories of a Young Connor. Our modern-day Assassins are now also installed in America, inside the precursor Grand Temple. A short intro does its best to clue you in, but if this is your first Assassin's Creed game, go and read a couple of wikis or, better still, go and play ACII. 

Whilst playing as Connor the map is split into four main locations. The Davenport Homestead is your base of operations. Homestead Missions are a regular feature on the map, and involve convincing skilled strangers to join your growing village. Most of the map-unlocking synchronisation points are similar and repetitive as the game goes on. That said, there's great variety in the towns, from the pox-riddled ruins of New York, to the bustling harbour markets.


The fighting system is very similar to other Assassins Creed games, Connor has a selection of weapons such as tomahawks, swords and secret blades which can be upgraded at different venues around the game map and using only 2 buttons for different forms of attack and 1 button to block is really easy to pick up. The town guards are very aggressive towards Assassins so this makes avoiding a fight increasingly difficult as you progress through the game, even for the most stealthy of players. 


The biggest location by far is the Frontier. with cliffs, valleys, forts, villages and hundreds of animals it makes it a truly gorgeous place to explore it also provides Connor with an Assassin's Creed first, Tree Climbing! Hunting is also located in frontier, this lets you hunt and skin animals for it’s hide and are used to sell to merchants. Another new feature is the fantastic Naval battles, this sees Connor take command of a ship and due battle with others. Steering the ship is surprisingly sleek and firing at enemies is simple enough, this fairly arbitrary feature of the game actually ends up being one of the most enjoyable. 


The main story takes around 20 hours, however if you add side quests and exploration you could easily lose 35 hours in this campaign There are all the usual Assassin's moments of frustration. Connor repeatedly jumping into a pile of hay during a tough chase scene. Failing to catch onto countless ledges and triggering guards whilst incognito. But all of this is forgotten in epic third act. And the epilogue will simply leave you thinking “Oh God, What’s next?” All in all a sturdy outing for the Assassins Creed series, some minor flaws but ultimately very entertaining, a solid 8 Out of 10.