Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Borderlands 2

Border-ing on the amazing?

I'll make no secret of this - I loved this game.

Borderlands 2 is one of the best games I have ever played. It's addictive, lengthy, challenging, and, the most important factor, which I feel is overlooked in computer games - fun.

The game is based around your character, a vault hunter, in search for treasures in a huge land under the rule of Hnadsome Jack - the most likeable bad guy since Bane in Batman.

As the game starts - you choose your character class - Commando, Ninja Assassin, Gun Mad Fat Bloke, and a Siren. All of the classes have their own advantages, and all are as useful in a co-op game online, which again, is great fun.

There are a huge huge number of guns to find and choose from. Killing the bosses produce the rarest loot, and in the end you may stick around re-killing the same enemies to try and get the best items you can. Guns make this game, get the Social Conference Call Shotgun, twin it with the Elite Class Mod, and the Bee Amp Shield, and you're laughing. Well, until the game makers introduce a new splattering of guns into the game.

Anyway, I can't recommend this game enough. It's superb, the story is brilliant, and the gameplay is faultless. Get it now.

Rating - 10/10
Fair Price - £40

Halo 4

Spar-tan or Spare-us?

The 27th game in the Halo Franchise (may not be accurate) returns the the FPS format that made the games so popular. There has been promise of improved single player, a great storyline, the always impressive multiplayer (co-op and online). So, does it deliver?

FPS games really struggle to impress me now. The ridiculous 3 hours Call Of Duty storylines, which are exactly the same as the game produced the year before, make me incredibly skeptical of any new games coming out. Rare games breakout, Borderlands 2 for example, is one of the only games of this genre in the last few years which I actually strongly advise people to get.

However, i'll try to review this game independent of that. Halo 4 is a fantastic game for people who are a fan of the series. The enemies are varied, levels are challenging but fun, the graphics are good, but it is the atmosphere of the game is the element that impresses me the most. Rarely during a game do you get the real sense of panic that Halo 4 gives you. Speaking to my brother in law, he backs me up on the notion that the correct gun choice can make or break your success.

The game doesn't wow me though. It's a good game, but once again, I don't feel like the game lives up to the hype. Or not as much as I'd like.

Rating - 7/10
Fair Price - £20

WWE 13

Stone Cold, or um.. Stone Hot?

I'll make no secret of the fact that I haven't watched a WWE program since 2002.

However, the games tend to provide a fair few hours entertainment. Working out new ways of throwing people through tables, off of cages and evoking blood from your opponents cranium can be a great, simple idea for a game.

 The main implemented mode is the Attitude Era - allowing you to take charge of the biggest Superstars from the years that truly brought about WWE as the main wrestling brand, in the matches that went down in wrestling history as the most important, or memorable. The mode allows you to recreate certain historical events which I really enjoyed, especially as it was from the few years that I actually watched WWE, however, my main issue with this game comes after the Attitude Era is completed.

I thought I would check out the story, or career mode, only to find that the only true way to play the mode is to take control of every superstar - and enter every match.. which I have no interest of doing. You can play throught the games, entering into the matched you want to, but without the storyline. I just want to take control of 1 person, play through all their storylines.. not everyone elses. Maybe that's because I'm not a giant WWE fan now.

The usual features of creating your own player, arena etc are there, but without a decent story mode, this game really lacks something.

Rating - 7/10
Fair Price - £19.99

Friday, May 18, 2012

Goldeneye 007

Shaken, not stirred. Underwhelming, not impressive.

I was warned about this game, and that it fails to live up to how good you want it to be, based on the original N64 classic.

Unfortunately, the reports were spot on. The game offers nothing new or impressive. Its a bog standard Run, get shot, hide until screen gets less red shooter.

The story line is bland, voice acting more so. Graphics are average, and after the first 3 levels, I really had lost all motivation to carry on playing the game. And I review the game like I felt when I played it. Sub par, and if anything, longer than it needed to be.

Rating - 3/10
Fair Price - £8

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Prototype 2

I feel... taller. And mutated. And I have a sword for hands.

You gain the ability to morph your hands into multiple items.

Prototype 2 follows on from the mould of the first. A virus is let loose in New York (where else), which turns its victims into flesh eat monsters. Your new character (James) is infected by the primary character from Prototype 1 (Alex Mercer), who gives you his gift. Instead of becoming brain dead, the special strand of virus you obtain mutates your DNA, giving you super human speed, strength and abilities, as well as the vital ability to consume others and assume their form - your primary tool in being stealthful. The game mixes both stealth play and all out attacking well.

A couple of things before I continue -

  1. New York. Again. Virtually every film and game based around zombies, mutant.. it's based in New York. I wish that there was slightly more variety in locations. Apart from the name and cliche that the game is set in New York, I can't imagine it is geographically accurate. I have never been, but I can't imagine Private Military bases every few blocks. Base the game in Manchester or Liverpool (fairly complex DNA in the people there anyway). Get the Greyhound and set the game in Boston, Chicago.. Just something slightly different would be appreciated.
  2. An additional side effect of the virus is apparently the replacing of all socially acceptable adjectives in the brain to extensive swear words. Prototype 2 is very, very sweary. A !&@# load of !&@#s come !&@#ing streaming out of almost every mother !&@#ers mouth and every !&@#ing opportunity. Not to be played around children.
Your character can use the environment to eliminte the zombie threat. And the army, who areof course trying to kill you as well..

 The game itself is ridiculously fun. Sandbox games are often limited in enjoyment duration - either it takes far too long to do anything "cool" you lose interest, or it gives you far too many abilities to master with the learning curve of running into a brick wall. Prototype 2 has managed to control these aspects perfectly. The game itself is fun from the beginning, spoon feeding you new skills at a speed which allows to master each one. Graphically, the game is nothing special, there is nothing ground breaking in terms of music, or voice acting. But the game is undeniably fun.It manages to do what few games do and completely immerses you in a different reality and lets you have fun with it.

Eventually you'll be able to hijack tanks, helicopters, weapons.. Whilst the story follows a pretty standard zombie/infection path, the gameplay keeps you hooked, and like a good sandbox game should, you often find yourself roaming around the map doing odd bits and bobs rather than missions.

I have really enjoyed playing Prototype 2. Its pretty £%#!ing good.

Rating - 8/10
Fair Price - £28

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Batman : Arkham Asylum and Arkham City

Theres a very good reason I am only doing 1 review for these 2 titles.

Unless you are bankrupt, a few clowns short of a circus, have had a twin thumb-ectomy.. there is no chance you would have bought the first of these exceptional games, and not the second.

Both games are very similar in game play, objectives and style. But both are monumentally brilliant and addictive by themselves.

I never really got into the comics. The awful computer game releases coinciding with recent super hero films have not set the world alight – Spiderman, Superman and Iron Man to name the key culprits here. These 2 batman games are monumentally different from previous releases though.

As previously stated, I have never been heavily interested in comic books, or graphic novels as I will no doubt be reminded is their proper name (thank you Leanord, Sheldon and Penny). There is always a danger in being plunged in too deep when entering this world. Batman addresses this perfectly though, giving you the opportunity to read up on the background of each character (if you want to!), but not making your knowledge paramount in enjoying the game. I suppose though I should draw a slight distinction between the two games.

The first, Batman Arkham Asylum, plonks you right in the middle of a mental institution/correctional facility, as your old nemesis Joker is put away for his crimes. And he stays there and the game ends.

 Ok, fine.

 As predictable as a Liverpool FC statement being cringeworthy, Joker escapes and you spend the game searching through the Asylum and surrounding grounds. Along the way you gain control of Batman’s many gadgets and use them in your quest to solve riddles, challenges and puzzles laid out for you by The Riddler, and fight a large number of Batmans foes.

Batman Arkham City? The same concept, but set inside a cordoned off area of a city. Fighting to find a cure to a disease you’ve picked up along the way (no, not from catwoman), again your side missions are as compelling as the main story line.

Both games are truly brilliant. The combat system in both games is extremely simple, but you’ll need to master every concept to be able to beat the game. As batman you’ll use no guns, but instead rely heavily on stealth and distraction to lure your enemies and pick them off one by one. That or enter into a full on brawl with the grace of a Liverpool FC statement. That is to say, with none. The games look great, play great and are very hard to put down. Even with the main story lines complete and all side mission finished, you find yourself continuing to play the games through, and very tempted to just start the games all over again. A superb game series and I hope there will be more.

This is not normal as a crush.
The final word however has to go to Harley Quinn. The vile voiced woman who features in both games as Jokers assistant, whilst is a brilliant evil sidekick, is crazily annoying. Wondering who voiced her, I googled her. Only to find a host of cartoons and real life women dressed as her. Apparently it’s a common occurrence for comic, sorry, graphic novel fans to have a fetish for her. You are as strange, weird, and idiotic as a Liverp.. Yeah, you know the joke.

Ratings – 10/10 and 10/10
Fair Price - £40 (each)

Xbox 360 Kinect

I like to move it, move it.

When the kinect was first released, it seemed, like most console hardware, a bit of gimmick. An attractive, innovative new gadget of course, but an additional expense that may follow the dust-collecting-on-top-of-the-cupboard ways of the DJ Hero decks or Tony Hawk skateboard. For now, there are few games of appeal for the kinect. Publishers rushing games to capture the money from the Microsoft fan boys around the new gadgets release as expected results in poor quality games. However, the kinect has the potential to be a long term success, depending on how future kinect necessary and kinect optional games implement the camera-microphone device into gameplay.

For me and the soon to be missus, the kinect gives us a double workout. Not only do we get a little sweat going playing the motion sensitive games, but we also get a little workout rearranging our furniture to get enough room to play. There are a few nice little touches to the kinect. Auto profile sign in based on facial recognition. Voice activated menus. Movement recognition menu browsing. In general, these all work seamlessly, however, in some games the kinect fails to recognise what you are wanting it to do. Not the kinects fault of course, but frustrating never the less.

So, heres a few quick game reviews for anyone looking at purchasing a kinect and its (currently) small selection of games.

Kinect Sports and Kinect Sports 2

Without a doubt the best games on the device. Both releases are full of fun, entertaining sport games that are extremely addictive – either playing by yourself, or with a friend. The first release contains Football, Athletics, Table Tennis, Volleyball and Bowling. Kinect Sports 2 contains American Football, Tennis, Skiing, Golf and Darts. Of those 10 sports, its hard to single a single one out as weak. All of the games, and mini games are well thought out, making the most of the kinect. All have the same charm – simple to pick up, but a challenge to master. Highlights, for me, are the Football, Athletics, American Football and Darts.

Rating – 9/10
Fair Price - £25 (each)

Dance Central 1&2

Whilst I can’t be too angry at a game that actively gets my other half to play the Xbox, the rumours I’d heard about this game turned out to be true. I myself am an excellent, “Lionel Messi of the dancing world” dancer, alas the game thinks otherwise. I had heard that the game only really works for girls, or overly camp males. And this has proved to be true. To be honest, it really puts me off trying the game again. However, in the interest of fairness, my fiancĂ©e loves it, and it probably would be great fun on a girly night in.

Rating – 4/10
Fair Price - £12


Rubbish. Very few games, very poor motion recognition. Not even worth a rent.

Rating – 1/10
Fair Price - £1

Jillian Michaels Fitness Adventure

To be honest, this game would get a far higher rating if it didn’t try and be a kinect game. On the off chance you can get past the menus (it completely refuses to recognise your actions and in so declines to let you navigate the menu screens), it then has the additional frustration of turning a blind eye to the exercises you perform in front of the camera. It took about 12 minutes and around 250 sit ups to recognise me doing 10. Had I just bought the game to give me a selection of workout ideas, it probably may have been worthy of a higher score. Which sort of makes the whole “kinect game” redundant.

Rating – 2/10
Fair Price - £4

Kinect Adventures

The base game that comes with the kinect. It’s not without its charm, but there are only 3 different game modes, and all get old very quickly. Addictive and compelling to play for the first hour. Hasn’t been played again since. A bit like Walcott should have been and would have been in almost any other team.

Rating – 6/10
Fair Price - £5

So there we go. A brief look at the Kinect and the main games. Regardless, I am looking forward to seeing how its used and integrated in Mass Effect 3.

A thank you to Christie Duke for helping me review the games! :)

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Goodbye real life?

No, well, not for me.

For a few weeks leading up to the release of Skyrim all I saw on my Facebook feed was 2 types of status based around Skyrim. Either those males apologising in advance to their significant others for making them a Skyrim widow, or the single ones who were cracking potential jokes about booking time of work to get stuck into the game.

Skyrim was always going to be extremely popular, thanks to its fans who have followed and hyped it up since their copy of Oblivion probably disappeared into dust in their CD tray. The Elder Scrolls series are notorious for being almost open ended in terms of game time. Similar to other sandbox type games, Skyrim has put considerable effort into making sure each person playing the game has an individual experience. The randomly spawning Dragons, Trolls, Horses, Rabbits and Bears are the easiest example of that. Sometimes a Dragon will appear, with no chance of you beating it. Which, although frustrating, allows the story to have some consistency to it.

When the game first starts, a bear is the most terrifying thing you can imagine. Later in the game, a few levels and skills up, a simple bear poses as much threat to you as Fernando Torres to opposing teams goalies. (for now)

I shall however share with you an important secret. I never liked Oblivion, and never gave it much of a chance either. About 2 hours into the game I kept getting shouted at for not knowing how to make a simple potion? Why didn't I know? I really didn't care. I, in the most, enjoy games that have their equipment and items right there for you to go and grab. If you want a new ability, you buy it, or select it from the menu. Oblivion got under my skin instantly for not letting me progress until I'd take then year 11 science lesson from a fat woman who scarily resembled a male lecturer from my University. I just wanted to get stuck in. Even go out, start fights with the guards and then run away - that would have done me! In hindsight I was probably wrong. I imagine there were ways around it - not choosing a character who relied on magic has crossed my mind..

So, a few weeks after most others I ended up picking Skyrim, trying to trade my way out of the completed RAGE (I can review if wanted). I got home, my girlfriend left and with a few hours to burn, I stuck in the disk and promised to give this game a real good go..


First issue.

What class should I be? Hmm. Well there must only be a couple to choose from ill just..

Balls. Theres loads. I know, i'll ask on facebook. 20 minutes later, advised (yet to be seen how well) by Rob Welling, I chose a fugly Elf character who would make Katie Price look half presentable. Hmm. Right, another 10 minutes sorting his looks out and im ready to go. No? O, cutscene. (whistles..) Anyway.. about another 15 minutes of dark and blurry running around and killing later.. I'm out in the open. Wow.

The graphics are superb.

The more of the game you play, the more little touches you see inside the game that make it so unique. I've played for a fair few hours (when my girlfriends out, unlike a heap of you other thoughtless bastards) and made very little progress. Mainly as I am trying to get everywhere I can on foot. It takes longer, but there's a whole lot more to experience of the game when you do take it slowly. I really am enjoying this game, some of the story-lines I am struggling to really get into, but regardless of that, with a little patience, the game has very few flaws. With the amount I play this game, i see this game keeping me going for a fair few months at the very least.

If a long, submissive, impressive, visually stunning game is your cup of tea.. then this is a bucketful of it.

Rating – 8.5/10
Fair Price - £28

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Portal 2

Good science?

Very rarely, a game comes along which truly rejuvenates love for console gaming. For me, Portal 2 has done just that.

As much as they dress them up, adapt, alter, promote, shorten, lengthen.. The games market has reached a bit of a plateau. Long running sports franchises which make slight adjustments each year, War games which make a half assed attempt at a single player game (we all are expecting a Call Of Duty : Take Down Osama type game now), but make their majority of interest with people killing each other for hours online.
Which, to be honest, bores me. I neither have the time, or interest in getting good enough to play online for long enough so that I am at a reasonable enough level that I am alive for more than 20 seconds at a time.

Portal 2 features one of the most intelligent and interesting physics engines around.

Now, I know Portal 2 isn't a 'new' idea. The 2 should really be a give away.. But I doubt I was alone in being excited and apprehensive about the immensely enjoyable side-game from The Orange Box having a sequel. The basic idea behind the game is your ability to fire 2 portals that are linked – walk through one, and you come out the other. Pretty simple? Sounds it. But as the game progresses, this relatively fundamental idea is exploited to the point where you will feel like crying due to the complexity of it. Turrets, cubes, buttons, lasers.. all are controllable by you.. and your portals.

The main reason I love this game, is the real feeling of accomplishment you get after the levels. I refused to use the walkthroughs, and there were some puzzles I was stuck on for almost an hour.. Sometimes it was something simple I had missed, others were something completely new in the brilliant physics engine I hadn't thought of. I found myself giggling at times. Literally, laughing at how clever the game was. The voice as Steven Merchant as your initial clumsy, simple robot companion is a brilliant touch – Not sure how but I would love to see Karl Pilkington voice a game..

Co-op character Atlas and P-Body.

Finally, another thing that Portal 2 does so, so well, is the Co-op mode. I played it with a friend, from start to finish. We giggled like school girls as we shot portals infront of where each other were running. We fired cubes at each other through our portals. We fired each other a mile into the air, we childishly squabbled over who would do what. It was superb, and took us a day to do – not bad for a side game.

Portal 2 is fun, unique, challenging.. It is superb, and like I did after each level, I look forward to what is hopefully next in the series.

Rating – 9.5/10
Fair Price - £35

Saturday, October 16, 2010

iPhone/iPod Touch Apps

169000. At present there 169000 published apllications that you can put on your iPhone/iPod Touch. Are there actually decent ones in between the thousands of useless ones? Here's a selection of some of the ones I have encountered..


Incredibly simple game, in which you aim to jump your little green fella up a never ending tunnel of platforms and enemies, using various power ups to help you. Sounds simple, and is. But has a great lifespan in it, and you find yourself coming back time and time again. Would the Chilean Miners had this game, I could have seen some real injuries coming.
Rating - 7/10

Flight Control

Another simple little game, where you have to direct planes onto their correct runway by drawing flightpaths with your finger. Starts simple, gets incredibly challenging. Less of a want to go back to the game after a few times though.
Rating - 6/10

Field Runners

Absolutely amazingly addictive game. Building your own defence system, you buy different weapons, and they will do their best to stop the runners reaching your base. Can quite easily lose an hour at a time on this game.
Rating - 7/10


Handheld version of the popular game - very nicely set out, very good interface and all the money working out is done for you. Really enjoy this game. Good multiplayer too.
Rating - 8/10

Angry Birds

Quite simply - the most addictive, the best game you can own on a smart phone. So so simple - all you have to do is catapult birds into various flimsily made castles, in the hope of getting to the green pig monsters inside. Hundreds of levels, a game that will frustrate you, and elight you in its simplicity. Simply put - its superb.
Rating - 9/10

Cut The Rope

Cut The Rope is an extremely nice little game, where the aim is to cut ropes, in the hope of giving a little green dude some candy. The levels switch in difficulty quite frequesntly, which is one of the only real faults with the game. Although no iPhone game is really diverse, sometimes you are left longing for something else with this game. Still a good buy though.

Rating - 7/10

To end, I should mention that I play all thse on an iPhone 4G. I bought all apps from the iTunes app store. There are many many other apps avaliable - theres Flick Football, Flick Fishing, Paper Toss, Stone Loops - all great games, that are worth 59p. Please feel free to comment and let me know your favourites!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11

Birdie or Bogie?

The standard playing interface, but still looks great..

Tiger Woods didn't exactly have the quietest of years..

A woman emerged as the golf stars additional piece on the side. Then 2 did. Then a handful. A dozen. Before you knew it, the women who alleged to have Tiger in their bunker could have filled the empty seats for a Manchester City home game (I know, I know, a slight exaggeration, I doubt Hugh Hefner's exes could fill those empty seats).

It all became public in a bizarre, yet ironic way. After much covering up, it emerged that when Tiger's wife found out about his other ladies, she chased him out the house, followed his car, and smashed the cars window to get to him with a golf club. The irony, for those wondering, is that the swing taken by his wife, was probably the best swing taken by a Woods family member this year. Since, its been no secret that Tiger has struggled to retake his form which saw him become a cover star for his own brand of computer game.

EA Sports now had to decide whether to continue with the now disgraced golfers franchise of videogame, or whether to start afresh. They obviously took a while deciding this, as it doesn't appear alot of time went into game testing.

The game (I know, I finally get onto the game bit, hip hip hooray), isn't necessarily bugged or faulty.. but it is just ridiculously hard. My lasting memories from previous Tiger Woods games, has been the pick up and play ability of it. For the amateur or pro, the game could be played relatively easily. The console controller analogue stick way of playing was easy to grasp - and allowed minor faults to go unpunished in the interest of a smooth and non frustrating game..

This year however, the game has the learning curve of diving with sharks wearing a suit made of bacon. Even on the easiest setting, you find yourself increasingly frustrated as you start off in your career. I am sure this is how hard it would be in real life - so congratulation must go if that was their plan. But the slightest movement in the wrong direction of the analogue stick feels like it results in a far too harsh movement of the ball. To start off with, the game lacks fun.

I moved therefore onto a quick round, playing as Tiger Woods. Same issue. Extremely sensitive stick, and an exaggerated swing adjustment to match it. It is possible of course to change this, which is a nice feature, but requires you to be consistently good or bad with your swing - something I apparently can't do. I should mention that after around 20 or so events, I was no longer getting a double digit bogey round, but it just seems like Tiger Woods 11 takes far too long to get into - especially for the career mode, a mode which is normally the top of my liking list on a game.

Aquiring skills on "your" player has always been the first challenge on any Tiger Woods game and for some reason EA Sports seems to think that they have to change the way to do this for every single installment of the series. They had it spot on for the 2004 version, unfortunately the 2011 versions take on it is in my opinion the worst yet. Why? You now earn XP points very, very, very slowly....
Lester Freamon, www.redcafe.net

The link for Lester's full thoughts on the game, the link is at the bottom of my review.

As Lester Freamon mentions about slow XP building, EA has a plan - along with Ultimate modes in Madden or FIFA, to grab even more money off you after you have forked out in the game. To gain XP, you can now purchase it. Very disappointing.

The graphics can't really be faulted - the courses look superb, and with the additional camera views the play looks extremely realistic. Banana shaped club and egg shaped ball aside, the physics engine is improved - and after a while, the necessity of saving "focus", (the thing which gives you the ability to power up a shot, or put spin on a ball) becomes a real drawing feature to the game.

Courses from all over the world, including the Ryder Cup match at Celtic Manor

So the game is good. Apart from the most fundamental part of it. With quite a considerable amount of practice it becomes easier though, but I still think that Tiger Woods 09 was the most enjoyable of the series, and now for less than a tenner in some shops, I don't see Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 as a £30 improvement..

Rating - 5.5/10
Fair Price - £20

O and Chile - absolutely brilliant. Congratulations, the best story there has been in years. Gives hope to alot of people. Felt sorry for the rescue worker standing there unharnessing one of the workers while he screamed "I am only alive because of god" in his face. Irony.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Recent Games.. Red Dead Redemption and Just Cause 2

During my rather long gap from reviewing, I missed a fair few “top” games. Heres 2.

Red Dead Redemption

The big named release of the year. From the same people who bring us GTA, Red Dead Redemption (RDR) was always going to be open to criticism. In the main, the 14 year olds (who wrongly play GTA anyway)were going to be at the forefront of complainers.

“Theres no cars, no rocket launchers, its just a poor, old version of GTA”.

In a way, that is correct. The only cars are driven by the police agents who are blackmailing you. There are no rocket launchers. You make money by completing missions, for less than respectable characters. You own and use guns, you kill people. You make choices that affect your story..

But a poor GTA? Not a chance. For what its worth, I didn't really “get” GTA IV. I thought it took for too long to get into the fun aspect of a sandbox game that most look for. I thought you immediately lacked freedom in the game, and that the missions were not fun. The characters were annoying... It just was not a game I enjoyed. For this reason, I started off slightly apprehensively on RDR.

Within an hour, any doubts were well and truly cast aside.

Red Dead Redemption is amazing. And it gets better the more you play it.

The game looks.. just fantastic. Despite playing in the desert, and desert looking towns, there is a distinct feel to different areas. The towns are all set out differently, look differently, and have individual parts to them. The map is huge, it can take about 25 minutes to travel from 1 side of the map, right to the other.. But you don't mind doing it. Choosing, catching, taming and then riding your horse is a real intricate part of the game. Invest in horses, you will need them later. And you will get a bit cut up when your first long term horse collapses unexpectedly..

Missions are varied (but, as for all great games, missions are not the forefront of your experience), gameplay is natural and enjoyable, and most of all – the game is fun, and sucks you in.

Well played Rock Star. Now hope Cowboys come back into fashion..

Rating – 9.5/10
Fair Price - £40.99

Just Cause 2

Computer Games should be fun. They should put a big smile on your face, like you slept with a coat hanger in your mouth. Just Cause 2 well and truly does this.

The main reason for the fun in this game, comes from your dual ended grappling hook – meaning you can attach anything, or anyone, to anything. A car to a lamp-post so it pings back. An enemy to a plane you then fly around. A jeep to a helicopter. A rival gang member to a gas canister which you then propel into the air..

Just.. look at this..

And the beauty of this game? It is so, so fun. There really is no big deal made of not completing missions. Its simple, its easy to just dip in and out of, and you have around 120 hours of gaming until you achieve 100% completion.. And even then, I was tempted to play it all over again.

Just type in “Just Cause 2 Stunts” into youtube. If after watching a few of those videos you don't want to buy this game.. well then, um, I really do not know what more you want out of a game. Watching videos is worth so much more than me writing about the game..

The designers have actually pointed out they wanted “Rag doll and insane physics” in the game, and they did a fantastic job in putting them in.

Rating – 9.5/10
Fair Price - £40.99


As the game gets another year older, how is it maturing? Not too well..

FIFA has reached the difficult adolescent years. Since the vastly underrated World Cup game was brought out in May, I have been extremely excited by this years FIFA offering. The gameplay in WC was superb, graphics, as per usual fantastic, and a pretty seamless game.

After a fair few days spent attempting to immerse myself in FIFA 11 however, I am unbelievably disappointed. The game is nowhere near seemingly finished. Even a true FIFA purist/fanboy, must acknowledge the cheek of EA to put out this game, especially promoting it with promises of improvements from FIFA 10, which, in my opinion was the best club football game released in a long, long time. The hard truth though, is that this game is a drastic step back.

It almost feels like it is not actually you playing the game, the reaction speed and response time of the players is often comparable to a dead slug, and even worse online. Players often disappear, and will sometimes reselect who you are controlling for no real reason.

The career mode is a welcome highlight – no longer stuck in a 4 year cycle, there is more depth to the mode now, with more choice over your playing, or now managerial life. The Virtual Pro mode, as many will discover is extremely addictive, but the fact that gameplay is so slow, means it can be incredibly frustrating. Starting off at Bradford, my first season was a mixture of lows and other lows. Its hard to level up your pro, when you cannot pass (although that's just the game in general, not just my player), cannot shoot, and seem to care about the game as much as Tevez cares who he plays for.
The other main edition is the ability to play as the goalkeeper. Some will turn this into an art form, but I got bored extremely quickly with waiting endlessly to do something.

I always harp on about realism in games – and in effect, I am sure this game is extremely realistic to real life top flight football, but the fact that passing is so frustratingly inconsistent is a painful reminded that FIFA, and all computer games are supposed to be fun and enjoyable. Is this game? In the most, not at the minute. Is it too realistic?

Player growth in career mode makes career mode unplayable for me. Its random, and despite getting emails that your players are improving, they dont. I've been on the forums and EA have listed it as one of the things they are fixing for the next patch. Apparently if you play the career mode till players are like 25+ the growth speeds up... But what of younger players until then? You can play 2 or 3 seasons without them improving at all. Who wants to do that? And how does that make sense anyway? - Ekeke, www.redcafe.net

As for online, I can only really speculate how good it is/will be. Out of my 12 attempted online ranked games, I have managed to complete 2 of them (other friends have a lower %), and I am 0/9 on completion of the Pro Clubs online version. Its appalling. As mentioned earlier, the lag makes the game unplayable too, sometimes a full 4 seconds after pressing a direction, will your player make that move. Its just not good enough for a game which so many look forward to.

To be honest, I could continue to look at the bugs, glitches and canyons of faults with the game – but I fully expect EA to provide us with multiple patches to fix these at some point or another.

Maybe we have just been spoilt with FIFA's last few years releases. Few would argue that FIFA is sitting on top of the football sim pile over the last few years, but with Pro becoming a little more well respected this year, next years releases will be extremely interesting. I also fully expect to get a torrent of abuse about this review - but as always, it is my personal opinion. I do not enjoy this game the the minute, and cannot see it being worth the RRP of £44.99. Nowhere near.

Get working on your patches EA, then bring us something memorable next year please.

Rating – 4/10
Fair Price - £14.99

(Rating and Price will change, dependant on patches)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Madden 11

Good game for American Football rookies, or just for seasoned vets?

As with most sports games, there is a point where you wonder... where else can this game go? FIFA, PES, NBA, NHL etc, have all managed to keep there appeal and freshness, despite obvious limitations. It's often a hard choice whether a years improvement is worth upgrading and parting with your hard earned money.. So how does this years Madden fare?

The main feature that is new to this years game is the inclusion of "Gameflow", a smart play calling feature, that acts like your co-ordinators during the game. Depending on how you play, and what works against your opponents in games, so your given play will adjust. In the most, it has to be said that I love this feature. True, sometimes it makes an error and gives you an odd play, but it really makes the game quicker and easier for anyone who isn't a tactical master at American Football. I am a Wide Receiver for an American Football team in the UK, but I have as much clue about the defensive side of the game as Katie Price has a clue about how to be a mother.

For some reason however, there seems to be a different movement mechanic for offence and defence. Running backs and receivers seem to be able to make turns tighter than the New York Jets salary room when the cap comes back in. But the covering corners, linebackers (think Waterboy) and other defensive players seem to be as agile as a Robin Reliant without wheels. Or without wheels. I don't think there's a great deal of difference. The movement just seems sluggish for the defence, which can be frustrating.

The 2 main offline modes are Franchise and Superstar modes, each offering different challenges. I have mentioned before how I really approve of customisable difficulty settings, and with a individually tailored Madden difficulty to set yourself, the game really fits around you. I am brilliant at my running game, as well as air game - but struggle to defend against air targets. Therefore I am a significantly higher difficulty setting for Offence, than I am for my poor Defensive skills. Working your way through seasons of franchise can be a long challenge, but extremely rewarding too.
Superstar mode allows you to create, or take control of a Rookie in the NFL. Similar to Be A Pro in FIFA, you can improve skills based on your effectiveness in matches. The game engine is faultless in this mode, you really feel part of the action, but it's nard not to feel a little left out by the lack of off the field interaction. After being able to talk to the press, train on certain areas, negotiate contracts etc, slipping back to the only options of "Complain about Coaches", "Ask for a trade" just seems extremely basic.

Some may disagree, but I feel this game lacks a little personality. Sure it's not what it's job is, but you still feel a little let down. However, the gameplay is addictive as per usual, the difficulty settings are brilliant, and the inclusion of the Gameflow play selection system is quality. It lets you play the game, even if you are not entirely sure what is going on. Just like Nigel De Jong.

Rating - 7/10
Fair Price - £27.99

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Crackdown 2

Agent or Failgent..? (Sorry)

The first Crackdown was an unsung hero of the Xbox 360. With its slightly cartoon graphics, many actually wrote the game off before it had even been released.

I was actually thrilled though to see that this game hadn't updated its image too much. The look of the game is superb, and fits perfectly with the setting. In the same way you wish your sports team wouldn't change its image – generally classy players, great academy set up, controllable egos, strong work ethic – since turning into a bunch of ruthless mercenaries/thugs for hire who love a dive more than anyone over 16 on facebook despises the “like” button on there. (A heads up for Manchester City fans around before 2006) – I wished this game would stick to its style.

Crackdown 2 is just really, really fun. The game itself is simple, some say repetitive, but theres no real frustration. The large (without comparison to Fallout, Red Dead Redemption, Far Cry 2 etc) open world map is actually pretty easy to distinguish between different areas, and landmarks add to this – meaning you, with enough game time, can actually feel like you know the neighbourhoods. There is so much to do – as you increase your characters abilities, different areas become open to you, and different challenges too. There is a real difference in the abilities of individual agents too, your character will very quickly improve in areas you excel in (for me it was explosions and agility), and the other areas, that maybe you don't use as much, will take more time for you to level up on (for me it was driving and firearms).

As well as fighting the criminal underworld, Crackdown 2 also features the surge of mutants to deal with. As well as taking over Criminal strongholds, you must now also clear mutant pits, using the Agencies technology. Whilst some will no doubt criticise the games lack of variations in missions, I rarely played more than a couple of missions in a row.. I was far too busy just mucking around. Picking up and throwing cars, blowing pretty much everything up, driving around and ploughing down mutants, this game is extremely personalised. Its often only that you are reminded that you remember that you have to do some missions. The game is as engrossing as Angry Birds.

Online, the game adds another dimension. With so many games pushing towards the main emphasis of itself to online play – its refreshing to see a game that could be pushed down the similar path.. not. Online was an afterthought, not that that statement is meant negatively. With a good group of friends, the game is extremely good online. Crackdown 2 is just pure fun. Sure, if you so choose you can run around killing the other players, but for the most, its more fun to much around with the environment. (However Tim, Kieron and John may have a duck grenade heading there way for forgetting to text me when they were playing!)

In conclusion, I am extremely impressed by the game. Would I want a few more and varied missions? Absolutely. Would I be pleased with a few more weapons? Of course.. But it is just a fun, exciting, great game. Highly recommended.

Rating – 9/10
Fair Price - £42.99