Tag Archives: 360

Batman: Arkham Origins Review

xl_batman_arkham_origins_logo2013 is the year of the prequel. With Gears of War: Judgment making waves on our side of the spectrum, and God of War: Ascension punching gods in the face…’over there’, Batman: Arkham Origins was the only one to be met with some form of distain. The reason being that the Arkham series is so beloved and so well-made, that when it was announced that London based Rocksteady wouldn’t be making this, but rather WB Games, people thought it may not be quite up to scratch. Let me quell those fears right now, the game is identical to Arkham City, in the gameplay sense. On a personal level, I believe that Arkham City is near enough the perfect game, so I should automatically love this right? It’s not without its faults, but read on and find out why I think the game is well worth your precious time.

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Let’s jump right in. As the name suggests, this is something of an origin story for the caped crusader. The majority of the street thugs and even future bat-friend, police commissioner Jim Gordon don’t even believe the bat is real. This adds a nice little bit of extra ‘oomph’ to the title as you genuinely feel great popping up in front of some wannabe mobsters and confirming their suspicions. This iteration does not falter in that regard. The fact that you are supposed to be Batman starting out makes him feel more vulnerable, and is therefore a tad more interesting. Although it’s an origin story, you seem to be starting out a couple years into the bat-career, Bruce Wayne is not yet, the Dark Knight. He’s more a billionaire who learned karate and made a fancy suit. This story is definitely a coming of age for the Batman, and I will say that the story and scriptwriting is the area that this game truly beats the other Arkhams.

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The story kicks off with a riot at Blackgate Prison, the prison has been overrun and the warden taken hostage. What an apt time for the Batman to swoop in and ply his trade. After some punchy encounters, you quickly become face to face with the scaly monster known as Killer Croc. It becomes known to Batman that Black Mask has put a $50,0000 bounty on his head, and hired 8 assassins to do the job. The night quickly becomes a race to round up these assassins before they can kill the bat so that Bruce can make it home in time for Christmas morning. I did feel a little cheated with the assassins as you take one of them out before it’s even known to you, Killer Croc being that very one. As well as some of the others being demoted to mere side missions. Hell, even Black Mask himself who was billed as the game’s main antagonist is just a side mission. The big man to defeat is once again, The Joker. I’m unsure as to whether or not the big-wigs out there believe that there can be a Batman game without The Joker. But I will say that it is done much better this time around. The Joker’s psyche as he first meets Batman is particularly engaging. It’s almost as if he falls in love with the dark knight. Many people were distraught at the loss of Mark Hamill’s amazing rendition of the killer clown. Let me break this down, Troy Baker is better. He gives a spine chillingly sadistic portrayal of the character, and I can’t wait to hear him have a go at it again when he inevitably gets the role in other mediums. Another great addition to the story was the adoption of a more serious Alfred. One that would care for and shout at Bruce, and truly guide him whether it’s telling him what he doesn’t want to here, or preparing a well-cooked turkey roast for the emotionally scarred 20-something. It is much akin to Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth from the Chris Nolan films. I can go on and on about each character and how well-done I think they are. I will just say that story and character development have not been done as well as this yet.

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In terms of gameplay, I have nothing too noteworthy to say. It is Arkham City all over again. The perfect freeflow combat makes a comeback. The gadgets are identical, apart from ice grenades being replaced by glue grenades. In layman’s terms, they have received Arkham City, wiped the content clean, and added their own story. It’s nothing more than a glorified expansion. However, it’s still jam-packed full of hours of fun and wandering. It will take you a very long time to fully experience everything the game has to offer, and it does not feel like a chore whatsoever. Much like Arkham City, you’ll be gliding and grapnel boosting between rooftops looking for Riddler Trophies which are now dubbed ‘extortion data’. The Riddler isn’t even The Riddler at this point in time, he’s simply known as ‘Enigma’.  The only new aspect of the game is quick travelling, which caused more problems than it solved. Every time I used the option, I was quickly greeted with my Xbox completely freezing and having to restart. Luckily I wasn’t one of the many that lost all of their game data due to this fact.

There are a lot of boss battles, these are unfortunately oversaturated with quicktime events. The same quicktime events. Over and over again. It becomes quite boring quite frankly. After doing the same block/punch combo to Deathstroke for the eighth time, I found myself just wanting the experience to be over. The only boss fight that was even slightly unique was against Firefly, who uses a jetpack and a flamethrower. But even then, the quicktime events came thick and fast. This is one area that the game severely needs improved, and truly hinders the fun experience you get when battling your everyday street thug.

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There’s also not a great deal to say about the environments. Rehashed straight from Arkham City, complete with snowy backdrops and not one civilian. Made all the more boring by having to traipse across the same bridge over and over again. I mean, it looks nice. But it’s the exact same thing we’ve always had. Would be nice to have a couple new areas to explore.

Multiplayer has been thrown into this one. It does have an interesting format. Three vs. three vs. two. The teams being Bane thugs, Joker thugs, and Batman & Robin. Batman & Robin work the exact same way they do in the campaign, glide, rappel, hide, and take down the thugs to raise your intimidation meter. Dying lowers your meter, max it out to get the win for the caped crusader and the boy wonder. The thugs work slightly differently, you have a number of lives. When you get to zero, if you all die, it’s game over. Kill Batman or Robin to earn yourselves more reinforcements. IT’s a third-person cover based shooter. An extremely dumbed down version of the Gears of War Unreal Engine. You can expect poor movement and running into a lot of walls. You can also earn yourselves the right to play as Bane or the Joker. Joker has a gun that kills in one hit, but Bane…man. Bane is an absolute monster, smash and grab like the Hulk, even wielding a rocket launcher that he pulls from his back pocket. In short, it’s really quite poor. If it had the fluidity of other well-made shooters, they’d really be on to something great here.

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To sum up, Bat fans can be sure that they’d have a good time. If you liked Arkham City, you will like this, even if you end up feeling a little underwhelmed. If you don’t mind paying big for what could really just be considered Arkham City DLC, I would recommend picking it up. However, for an experience tantamount to the Dark Knight’s travels in Arkham City, I’d wait on Rocksteady to make the 3rd in the Arkham stories for the next generation (hopefully).

It’s good, but it’s not quite the god damned Batman we’re used to.

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NHL 14 Review

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EA Sports are a company that has a lot to boast about. Not only are they the number one source of all sports games, but they are damn good too. FIFA, Madden, Tiger Woods, and NHL are all games that are nearing perfection. Year by year these games are updated to resembles their respective real-life counterparts. For the last few years, NHL has had strong outings under the EA Sports moniker, and number 14 doesn’t appear to be any different. It’s quite frankly a superb addition to the series. Read on to find out why.

Now bear in mind, I am not familiar with hockey. My knowledge extends as far as knowing that Wayne Gretsky is a person, seeing the Mighty Ducks, Mike Myers rather enjoying the Maple Leafs, and I’ve heard of the Stanley Cup. With that in mind, you’d think I would have some trouble with the playability. This is most certainly not the case. I found myself up by 18 goals by my second game, with the need to bump the difficulty up to hard and adjust some gameplay sliders. The fact that someone as oblivious as myself could pick up a controller and feel as though I were a god on the rink is truly a testament to some amazing development.

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The controls work very much like FIFA, the left bumper performs some close control movement known as ‘dekes’. The right stick is used as a trick stick. Again, just like FIFA. I often use it to wind up a fake shot to trick the opposition. The fluidity of the movement in this game is actually astounding. I’m unsure as to whether the player impact engine is carried over from FIFA, but it certainly seems so. It makes smashing into and gutchecking opposing players an absolute, incomparable joy.

Let’s talk about the most interesting part of the game…the fights! Oh lord, do we ever love the fighting. NHL 14 utilises the Fight Night Enforcer Engine. Now you may think what I thought when I heard this, that it works just as Fight Night Champion does. That’s not the case. It merely uses the engine for a more refined set of fisticuffs. You use the right stick to punch your fellow goon, flicking it up to jab and down to uppercut. The left stick is used to push or pull on your foe’s jersey. Pushing the jersey helps you dodge incoming punches., and I will tell you this, nothing feels better than pulling your opponent towards you, and devastating them with a tooth shatteringly vicious uppercut. The A.I. also instigates these fights more than you do. However, spot one of your team-mates taking a hit that you deem to be too rough means that you can press Y to throw your gloves down and skate towards the scumbag that did it.

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Right from the start, the game allows you to set your hospitality settings. You can choose between simulation or hardcore simulation. The differences between the two is not as marginal as it seems as manual passing and more or harder collisions are the result.

There are several modes in the game. Be a Pro mode has been replaced by the aptly named ‘Live the Life’ mode. It works the same as the Be a Pro modes in FIFA or Pro Evolution work. You start your career as a young upstart in the minor leagues or a reserve team. You begin in the CHL, and if you’re good enough, you will move on to the NHL draft. Then again, you do have the choice of just starting straight in the NHL. This choice does however negate all sense of achievement you might acquire.

Now this next mode is where ingenuity and brilliance come in. NHL 94 Anniversary Mode is a stripped down version of NHL 14 that is made to play like and resemble the classic and much-loved NHL 94 from the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis. To be fair to EA Sports, they could have released this mode as a stand-alone HD remake and pulled in a ton of money. Instead it’s thrown in here to give this great title a hell of a lot of value for money. This mode is so much fun, and it’ll be hard to go back to what is an amazing 2014 based game after this hilarious arcade fun.

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NHL 14 has also adopted Ultimate Team from the FIFA series. It works just as FIFA does, except the currency is no longer known as gold coins. Instead you will be playing to earn yourself some pucks. I know, cute. Just like FIFA, without spending real life cash, you’ll have a hard time building up any kind of worthwhile squad. But if you’re willing to invest hours upon hours, eventually you can have a team to boast about.

Now, I attempted to give this game a go online. I tried several times over many days so that I could give this review an honest score. However, every game I attempted to play had next to 0 latency, and was literally unplayable. I did chalk this up to me being in the UK and hockey being a predominantly North American sport. I could be wrong there, but after some quick google searching, it appears online lag and latency isn’t an issue most mention. Therefore I will simply state that the lovely people in the United States and Canada just couldn’t handle my British Charm.

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So to sum up, I will say that NHL 14 is not only remarkable, great fun, easily accessible, intuitive, and amazing value for money, but it’s also a sports title that should be held in high regard as a placeholder that all sports games should emulate. I would go as far as to say that NHL 14 is EA Sports’ best current title. NHL 15 should be one to really look out for once the title arrives on the next generation.

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WWE 2K14 Gameplay Stream Reveals A Few Characters

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Late last night, Aubrey Sitterson and Bryan Williams of 2K Sports hosted a gameplay live stream of the upcoming WWE 2K14. It’s good to see the usual suspects didn’t go down in flames with THQ and can carry on doing the great work they do each year. This live stream was done to show the vast array of improvements that have been done to the gameplay over the last year. Let me say, improvements are plentiful.

But first, let’s get to some announcements. Yesterday WWE Superstar Darren Young bravely came out as only the third homosexual man in the world of wrestling. 2K chose this opportunity to announce his inclusion to the WWE Roster for WWE 2K14.

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This also all but guarantees his Prime Time Players tag-team partner, Titus O’Neil will have made it in the game.

As well as Darren Young, we were also treated to entrance videos for Rey Mysterio and the WWE’s Yes! man, Daniel Bryan.

In this stream, you will see brand new updated mechanics like new ‘OMG!’ moves, the lift mechanic, new drags, new reversals, new entrances, new move-sets, and updated character models. Check the stream out down below.

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Don’t forget, today is the Summerslam Axxess stream that will reveal the entire 30 Years Of Wrestlemania Roster hosted by Jim Ross, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, and Damien Sandow.

Catch that at 2K’s twitch channel live at 12:30 p.m. PDT

WWE 2K14 will release on the Xbox 360 this October  29th in North America, and November 1st in the EU.

 

The Serious Sam Collection Review

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It’s been about 12 years since Serious Sam first hit the scene. Serious Sam is a game that dazzled thousands with its frantic, relentless, manic, monster-explodey, non-stop action. Several years in the spotlight have gifted Sam with two HD remakes, a sequel, and a new sidescrolling shooter. Well now there’s one shiny box that contains them all. That’s right, The Serious Sam Collection is currently available for Xbox 360 consoles around the globe.

This amazing bundle comes with Serious Sam HD: 1st Encounter, Serious Sam HD: 2nd Encounter, Serious Sam 3: BFE, Serious Sam 3’s Jewel of the Nile DLC pack, and Serious Sam Double D XXL. These four well received games and a DLC pack at a nifty little discounted price. Well, we’ve got four games to talk about here, better hope straight to it. Let’s start from the…start.

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Serious Sam is a game about Sam “Serious” Stone and his efforts to defeat the alien scourge terrorising Earth’s past. Now that is just about as much story as you’ll get in this game. Much like Painkiller: Hell & Damnation, you’re dropped into rough terrain with a huge arsenal of weaponry, and you have thousands upon thousands of enemies thrown at you until you can’t stand it.

Now the gameplay, the enemies, the level design remains completely unchanged from the 2001 iteration. Quite frankly, the game is completely simplistic. Again, exactly like Painkiller. Serious Sam is an obvious homage to other games from its time such as Doom and Duke Nukem. Put simply, it’s all about racking up a Saving Private Ryan-esque body count rather than attempting to reach any kind of objective.

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The entire game takes place in what resembles the deserts of ancient Egypt. The lack of a change of setting does nothing to distract from the fact that the game is completely mindless and repetitive. Now this is not to say that it is a bad game, not at all. It can actually get quite deep once you discover what kind of enemy you’re going up against. Different kinds of aliens have different weaknesses that are all exploited by various weapons, and you will be going up against all different kinds, at one time. So it’s safe to say that some form of strategy definitely needs to be employed in order to become victorious. There is also another form of strategy that can be used to take down different hordes of aliens at any one time. Online co-op! That’s right, online cooperative play has been the saviour of many games, and it is what makes some games so damn playable. But then again, there really isn’t any challenge to the co-op. The game will merely send more monsters at you, and you respawn immediately after you die with no penalty. So it’s just as mindless and repetitive as playing by yourself. But hey, at least you get to have fun with friends.

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Let’s get to the graphics. This is called Serious Sam HD, after all. This isn’t just an updated ratio or a new fancy layer of paint. This is an actual HD remake. That means new character models and environments. As well as brand new environmental effects all powered by the Serious 3 engine and displayed in glorious 720p. Now these graphics won’t compare to the majority of games today, but they do perfectly capture the garish and cartoony nature of the Serious Sam series without sacrificing gameplay at the hands of poor frame-rate.

Serious Sam HD: The 1st Encounter is a manic, fun, challenging shooter. It’s definitely repetitive and dated, but if you feel like you just want to shoot stuff without having to think at all, this is the perfect game for you.

serious sam 2nd encounterTime for the second encounter. There really isn’t much to talk about here since this is almost identical to the first game, in terms of graphics and gameplay. So let’s talk about the differences, noticeable and subtle. The very first big change for Serious Sam HD: The 2nd Encounter is the difference in location. The first game entirely took place in an Egyptian setting. Whereas this sequel has many different locales that serve to keep the game a tad fresh and keeps it from feeling like mindless dreck. There are many areas that will do nothing but remind you of the first game. But Sam jumps through time to beautiful jungles and caverns, as well as some visits to the medieval era. I could be wrong here, but the level design looks a smidgen cleaner than the 1st encounter. There are less jaggies and the environments are definitely smoother and prettier.

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Certain things return from the first, like co-op and multiplayer. We’ve even been treated to some new modes here. Such as Survival Co-Op and Coin-Op Co-Op. Survival Co-op drops you into an arena and pits you against endless waves and hordes of enemies, much akin to Call of Duty’s zombie modes (please don’t bite my head off for the comparison, I know there are plenty other games with survival modes).  Coin-Op Co-Op is where it gets interesting. You and your team of ragtag alien ‘sploders have but 3 lives between all of you. Once those 3 lives have been depleted, so has your fun time. This is certainly an interesting addition that will force you to play smart and tactically, using your teammates as a buffer for excellence.

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All in all, Serious Sam HD: The 2nd Encounter isn’t that much of a far cry from the 1st Encounter. However, the addition of Survival and Coin-Op Co-Op are very welcome and should help to promote longevity.

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After two HD remakes that people clamoured for, it was about time the series received a real sequel. This came about on the Xbox LIVE Arcade some time ago. This was the only one of the Serious Sam games I was yet to play upon writing this review. I immediately noticed that this one looked a lot better than the previous two HD remakes. The weapons have a nicer sheen to them, the environments…*sigh*

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That’s when I noticed the environments. Egypt. Egypt, again!?

You’d think I’d be really annoyed, but I wasn’t at all. The gameplay made up for it. I noticed that everything felt noticeably smoother. I found it a lot easier to strafe and shoot something down within the blink of an eye. Speaking of shooting things, I much prefer the things I was shooting at in this game. Giant roaches and zombies, hulking cyclops’ that made my buttcheeks flap harder than a fan in the hand of a geisha. For the first time, I was truly enjoying part of this collection. I literally felt fear at certain points. There is no feeling like the view of hundreds of different kinds of monsters, be them big, small, or really big, all making a bee line straight to you in the most intimidating slow motion Reservoir Dogs style walk. The first two games were hard, but this one was really unforgiving. I found myself hiding in corners and crevices throughout the duration of the game. I even flipped out and turned the game off at one point in a rage, and that is an emotion that has not been evoked in me since my teens.

BFE features all the usual multiplayer and co-op trimmings. Such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Last Man Standing, and Beast. You can play with up to 8 players in these modes. A word about Beast Mode, I found this to be a very unique and enthralling game mode.

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Serious Sam 3: BFE is the best entry in the series by a country mile, and should be given the headline of the cover art…if that were ever a thing. It is the only game in this collection that I legitimately enjoyed, and it even comes with a three-level campaign expansion called Jewel of the Nile. If you don’t plan on buying The Serious Sam Collection, you should ‘seriously’ (hehe) consider picking up SS3BFE from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

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Now this game is nothing like the previous three. I have actually had the pleasure of reviewing this one before. For an extensive look at its features and our verdict, please click here.

If you’d like a quick overview of my opinion on this side-scrolling shoot ‘em up from Mommy’s Best Games, here’s a quick excerpt from that very review.

‘I’m just not impressed by it. I think it’s a good game, I had fun. But I think it’s good in the sense that a free-to-play mobile phone game is. I would not pay money for it. But I also cannot say it’s a bad game by any means. This is definitely a catch-22. Unless you know for a fact that you will be making good use of the co-op, I’d say you’re not missing out on anything by skipping Contra: Duke Nukem Edition. Sorry, Serious Sam Double D XXL’.

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So there it is. The Serious Sam Collection features four games and some DLC. But is it worth your time? Well, yes and no. The first two HD remakes are only worth playing if you’re a fan of the series and want to tickle your nostalgic senses. Double D XXL is merely alright, but it’s nice to play to have a break from the norm of this FPS craziness. Serious Sam 3: BFE is pretty damn good, and a laugh-riot. I recommend making an effort to play it for yourself. I’m quite conflicted here, I can’t go all out and say that this is bad, but I won’t say it’s good either. It’s definitely hanging out on that line and waiting for personal opinion to push it either way. So basically, if you’re a Serious Fan, go for it. If not, pass on it and pick up BFE.

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DARK Review

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Ah, stealth. The art of sneaking around and using nothing but your reactions and wit to overcome the towering obstacles in your way. There’s nothing quite like a good stealth game. Great stealth like Metal Gear Solid, Tenchu, Hitman, Deus Ex and not so much these days but Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell is hard to come by in this day and age. Enter Dark, a new stealth-based game published Kalypso Media and developed by Realmforge Studios. Now Dark might sound like an amazing prospect to the uninitiated. It’s a vampire stealth game. That means using the shadows to your advantage while teleporting toward your prey and sap their rich from their veins. Sounds amazing, right? Very, very wrong. More on how terrible the game is as we go on.

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The story centres around Mr. Eric Bane, a poor gent who just so happens to be a newly turned vampire. Get this, he has amnesia! The story is riveting already. Eric soon learns that his transformation is not yet fully complete. In other words, he hasn’t even reached his final form. In order to avoid becoming one of Nosferatu’s minions, Eric must drink the blood of his sire. The game then becomes who’s who of tired clichés. Such as angels appearing to him, leading young Eric down the righteous path. It is the angel that sets blood-sucking Eric Bane on a journey to recover his lost memory, a journey that will either see him revert back to his human form, stay as he is, or turn into a hapless ghoul from a Blade movie. Dark’s story is as dull as anything you have ever played. The characters you meet along the way do nothing to stimulate the story, or evoke any kind of emotion from the player. It’s as if there is no personality in this game whatsoever.

Enough story bashing, let’s talk about the awesome gameplay. Or how it’s not awesome at all…not even a little bit. So this is a stealth-action game, that means lots of hiding, sneaking, and quiet killing. You’ll find an abundance of furniture and chest-high walls to call your home due to this. Moving in and out of cover is easy enough. You can lock on to a piece of cover while already being in cover, and simply teleport straight to the next bit without being seen. The issue with this is that sometimes the game will simply bug out and throw you to the far right, far left, on top of, or literally inside the piece of cover you’ve intended to hide behind. There is a nifty feature called vampire vision. This allows you to see through walls and slow down time to help attain what your plan of attack will be. This is the only part of the game that works as it should. It’s not innovative or new, it just works.screenlg8

The problem with the stealth in Dark is that there is no surprise, only routine. Games like Splinter Cell or Deus show that sometimes having a plan of attack may not be enough. There might always be one enemy you’ve neglected to highlight who can send your entire plan astray. So having an escape route and or means of cutting off any kind of alarm system is key. Not here, there is only route learning and killing. Plus most of the other top stealth games I mentioned before have several means of completing a mission or route. To this day I’m still seeing things I could’ve done on Hitman: Blood Money and Absolution that I had absolutely no idea about. In Dark, there will only ever be one option, or the other. The main problem with the stealth aspect of the game is that it’s so repetitive it becomes a borefest. There may be one saving grace that could attract certain niche market of gamers. The game can be hard, very hard. But that’s not because of any kind of actual difficulty implemented into the game’s system. It’s because sneaking up behind an enemy and simply stealth killing them is a chore. The button prompt to kill your foe doesn’t appear until you are basically touching their backside, and sometimes you actually are touching their backside. This prompts all of Dr. Evil’s henchman to sound the alarm and shoot you with their…”lasers” (there are no lasers, but there’s gotta be something fun associated with the game). No, they just raise an alarm and shoot you dead because there is nowhere you can hide where they will not find you. There is no plan B, there is only succeed at this thing, or die a slow vampiric death.

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We’re not quite finished yet; Dark has broken another one of gaming’s golden rules. RPG elements where they do not belong. Getting through areas without being detected and getting kills will award you with XP. For every thousand points of experience, you earn something called a ‘power point’ that will allow you to upgrade whatever power takes your fancy.

There’s not much to be said for how the game looks. There is a comic book/noir type feel to the game. This basically means cel-shaded with neon lights, for the modern era. It’s not great looking; it’s just not bad looking. This is probably the most positive thing I have to say about the entire game. The voice acting is bad, real bad. It’s not the kind of bad you can forgive like a dub gone wrong on a Japanese game, or voice acting so terrible it’s funny like Shenmue. The delivery was poor, like the actors were mumbling the words to themselves with no emotion as if they were at home reading a novel in their armchairs. I actually find it quite shocking that somebody oversaw the work that went into this and didn’t think to say “hey guys, do you mind sounding like people when you read these lines”. But then again, with the lines they were given, I’d probably phone it in too.screenlg7

To sum it up, Dark is a horrible bore of a game. A genuine contender right alongside The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct for the worst game this year. The story extremely boring and predictable. The only fun came from me switching it up between doing a horrible Tom Hardy impersonation every time the name Bane was mentioned, and pretending the character was actually called Eric Bana. The gameplay is rigid and broken. Stealth barely works, and when it doesn’t, combat doesn’t work either. The sounds and voice acting are some of the worst I have ever heard in a game, and it’s just a 9+ hour agonising struggle to get through.

If you’re a stealth enthusiast, just play any of the other stealth games you’ve already completed a thousand times rather than this. You’re guaranteed to have a better time. If you’re a vampire enthusiast, just watch Twilight. Seriously, Twilight is a much better time than Dark.

Basically, stay away from Dark. Do not buy Dark, and kill Dark with fire.

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Painkiller: Hell & Damnation Review

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Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is an HD remake of cult hit Painkiller and its Battle out of Hell expansion created by Bulletstorm devs, People Can Fly in 2004. The internet was abuzz when the game was announced back at E3 in 2012, and this guy (that’s me) couldn’t wait to get his hands on it. This new iteration is produced and developed by Nordic Games and The Farm 51 respectively. But that’s enough dawdling, let’s kick things off with a bit of backstory.

Painkiller: Hell & Damnation kicks off in the manner of its predecessor. At the start of the game, a wide-eyed blue collar gent named Daniel Garner and his wife Catherine are tragically killed in a traffic accident. As Catherine absconded to eternal peace in heaven, poor Daniel Garner is left rotting in purgatory, and he wants nothing more than to be reunited with his beloved wife. This is when he is approached by a demonic entity. I’d like to say it was the grim reaper, but that’s never made clear (although he does have a sickle). This bringer of darkness advises Daniel that he may yet reunite with his wife, IF he can return 7000 souls to the reaper. Now I know this is almost as cheesy as Little Nicky, but nobody comes for the story.

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It’s easy to see that this new version was supposed to be a lot more story orientated rather than just having a beginning and an end. However, throwing in extra cutscenes that weren’t in the original really did nothing for the game as they only really serve as a hindrance and a break in the action. Not to flip-flop on everything here but the cut-scenes do actually look tremendously beautiful. Almost next-gen worthy. But when people play Painkiller, all they want to do is spend their time eradicating the unholy spawn that roam the evil domain.

Speaking of eradication, you will still get to do that in spades despite the intrusive story. Seasoned veterans will definitely love this game. But for newcomers, you need to be told just what this game is. It is a series of battle arenas that have nothing but non-stop enemies coming at you. You walk into an area, get locked in, and kill everything until you move on to the next area and do it again. This repetitive way of development would be damned for most games, but we’re to assume that everyone that picks this game up knows exactly what they’re getting.

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The weapons, and this is where the game really gives you some ingenuity, the weapons are vast and plentiful; and you will constantly have the chance to use several different weapons that all have alternative firing modes. I found that the most useful weapon is definitely the shotgun. Aside from the rocket launcher, but as you may have guessed, there is a finite supply of rocket launchers that have just been left lying around. But the main weapon in your arsenal will be the SoulCatcher, which you acquire right from the get-go. It looks kind of like a bone saw with a tiny windmill for the blade. It also looks like it’s made out of bones. It fires off little blades at your enemies which create a huge bloody mess. Its secondary fire option is what I like to call the ‘Shang Tsung’. A green laser that sucks the soul out of your enemies. Suck enough souls and you can fire at one of the enemies and have them fight for you. Take that, hell! The SoulSucker is Painkiller: Hell & Damnation’s one and only new weapon, which is something of a shame.

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Honestly there isn’t much to be said about the combat. It doesn’t handle as well as today’s shooters. But it does handle exactly how you would think, rigid with a lack of iron sights. This will excite purists, but it does leave me with something of a sour taste. What I will say though is that it is a hell of a lot of fun and you can definitely see the influence that this game has passed on to shooters everywhere. For example, the Stake Gun which fires…well, stakes. These pin the enemies to walls and such, which we’ve definitely seen in more than a few games since then.

The main campaign will only take you around 4-5 hours to complete. But the replay value will come with you trying to make use of all the weapons in the game, as well as finding all the secret areas if you’re that way inclined. Although some of the level design is absolutely beautiful, in the most horrific sense possible since they’re all evil domains, this just doesn’t detract from the fact that you end up doing the exact same thing over and over again. While this will be a lot of people’s cups of tea, I just feel that as gamers, we have evolved past the aspect of linear gameplay (I know, that’s pretty much all we get anyway).

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One very cheeky side-note, I had to look into this as I was sure that there was quite a bit missing. The back of the box on this game certainly states that “this is a modern remake of two classic shooters, Painkiller and Painkiller: Battle out of Hell”, but it certainly isn’t; and it won’t be until the rest of it is released as DLC. I don’t condone this in the slightest, but then again it was released at a heavily discounted price. So you need to decide for yourself whether you only want to re-live a small part of the game you love, and buy the rest later, or not.

The game does have multiplayer. But it’s the bog-standard modes of Team Deathmatch, Capture The Flag, and Deathmath. The one mode that looked quite interesting but turned out not to be was Survival. It’s basically like doing a mission from the campaign, yet the player with the most kills wins. Nothing special going on here. Actually, a couple modes from the original were actually removed for this iteration too. Whether or not they will come out as DLC also, remains to be seen.

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To sum up, Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is a game that was made only for its fans, and they’re the people that it’s bound to piss off the most at the same time. It’s very well-made, plays just like it should, looks beautiful, has the most kick-ass metal soundtrack I’ve ever heard in a game, and it’s just as cheesy as ever. Throw in some co-op campaign and a spot of multiplayer, and you might just feel like you have a game worth owning.

Painkiller: Hell & Damnation has left me with something of a moral quandary here. I feel that the game is repetitive, and can’t stand with the shooters today by any means. The issue with removing almost half the game and making it approximately around 4 hours long doesn’t sit well with me at all, as I’m sure it won’t with its fans. But looking at it objectively, I’m reviewing Painkiller: Hell & Damnation, not comparing it to something that was made 9 years ago. So I can’t let that hurt the game’s score. With that said, it all boils down to one question. Did I have fun?

Well, I guess I did. But not enough.

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Capcom Announce 5 New Characters For Super Street Fighter IV Update

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Well we knew that Capcom were to announce their upcoming ‘balance patch’ for Super Street Fighter IV. But we had no idea just what they had in store for us. Since 2009, Street Fighter IV has received a huge amount of balance patches and updates. First came Street Fighter IV, which then became Super Street Fighter IV (in wonderful Capcom fashion), and finally came Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition 2012.

Capcom had said that they were announcing the much hyped balance patch for the game at the premier fighting game tournament, Evo. The shocker came when it was announced that not only is it a balance patch, but an entirely new version of the game. Complete with 5 new characters and 6 new stages. Four of these characters won’t come as much of a shock to you, as they were featured in Street Fighter X Tekken. But here they are anyway, with official artwork.

Elena (Street Fighter III):

ElenaHugo (Final Fight/Street Fighter III):

HugoPoison (Final Fight):

PoisonRolento (Final Fight/Street Fighter Alpha 2):

Rolento

 

The 5th character is a new character that is yet to appear in the Street Fighter series and will be announced at a later date. The safe bet would either be on Asura (of Asura’s Wrath) as he has already appeared in the Street Fighter IV engine, or another character transitioning from Final Fight.

On top of this, we have been promised six new stages and a handful of new modes. The update will be released as DLC for people who already own Super Street Fighter IV, as a full digital download, or on disc at retail. A pre-order bonus has already been announced. Pre-order with selected retailers and receive exclusive DLC costumes for the 5 new characters designed by legendary Capcom artist Udon as incentive.

The name of this new version will be announced along with an official trailer tomorrow before the Super Street Fighter IV Grand Finals at Evo.

Check out this video for the live announcement (beware, some crowd noise is NSFW).

This new version of the game is due to come out early 2014. Stay tuned tomorrow evening for more news along with the trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WWE 2K14 Debut Trailer & Cover Art Revealed

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For those of us that were fans of the series, it was a sad day to see THQ crumble as they did. It was made worse when the future of WWE Games was left in the balance. Thankfully 2K, the team behind the astounding NBA 2K series, have taken up the mantle. In conjunction with Yukes/WWE Games (the guys that made all current gen wrasslin’ games), WWE 2K14 is a reality. Now I’m glad to announce that 2K have released the game’s debut trailer, which you can check out down below. Continue reading WWE 2K14 Debut Trailer & Cover Art Revealed

Sanctum 2 Review

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When Sanctum was released on Steam in 2011, it was met with mostly positive reviews. A sequel seemed most likely. So of course, unsurprisingly, in 2012 a sequel was announced for Xbox LIVE. Fast forward a year and here is Sanctum 2. Sanctum 2 is a first-person, tower defense shooter developed by Coffee Stain Studios, who are responsible for the predecessor. The Xbox 360 is a bit oversaturated with tower defense. It’s a long list comprised of Grid Defense, Trenched, Orcs Must Die, and South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play, and many others. All of which are great games in their own right. Jumping into a niche genre doesn’t automatically make it a worthwhile, game however. Plain and simple, regardless of genre, it’s either a good or bad game. Read on to find out whether it’s worth your time or not.

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So what with a bevy of other tower defense games you can choose from, you might find yourself asking just why Sanctum 2 would be worth buying over any of the others. Well Sanctum 2 is also a first person shooter, and a pretty good one at that. It plays just as smoothly as the rest of the AAA titles that you might be into. Of all the shooters, it’s most reminiscent of Halo. The art style and the enemies bear a striking resemblance to the weird little creatures of the Halo universe. Like most shooters, your character is limited to a two-weapon loadout. You will unlock more as you progress through the 20 levels of the game. Most of the weapons are futuristic phaser type guns, as you might expect. All the weapons have a more explosive secondary fire option and will reload themselves if you switch to your other weapon. The enemies come at you in waves, of course and after each wave, you have the opportunity to collect resources. That’s where the tower defense comes in.

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Coffee Stain Studios hit the nail on the head with the gun-play, but what about the tower defense? Well it’s not overly innovative or fresh. But it works just like any other tower defense games. You require resources to build defensive barricades and automated sentry guns. You’ll find yourself making tough decisions as to whether you should upgrade your sentry gun, add another gun, or carry on building barricades. Mazing is certainly key as it makes your enemies take longer to get to you. But that’s where you make the strategic decisions on whether defense is the best offense, or whether going all-out John Rambo with the ammunition is the best offense. I opted for a bit of both, and it seems to work just fine. Those that are more in tune with tower defense may like to get more tactical with it, which can definitely be done. Mazing enemies into a thin tunnel is an excellent way to bottleneck the hordes and take them down with the utmost efficiency. So the core aspect of the game is solid, and works extremely well. Better than the few other tower defense games I have played, in fact.

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You can choose between four characters in the game. Each of which have their own special abilities and an arsenal of unique weaponry. Hagen Hawkins carries a shotgun, and has more health than the other characters. He is more suited to taking down the heavy opponents, and the ones that need to be eradicated before they do any major damage. The other characters have their own blend of special abilities and weapons. This means that in co-op play, every member on the squad will be of the utmost importance, and will have their own special task to carry out. This plays into the games heavy strategic style of play.

The art style on Sanctum 2 is absolutely gorgeous. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s eerily similar to that of Halo. The enemies get more and more gruesome as they come out of the woodworks. The weapons all have a sleek look about them. They look like believable weapons of the future. Hell, even the ammo that flies out looks quite pretty. I’d go as far as saying that Coffee Stain Studios have made a game that looks worthy of a full retail release. If there was a bit more depth to it, I’d say that the game should be a full retail release. It’s definitely of a higher standard than most XBLA titles.

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Sanctum 2 does have a bit of a story. Full emphasis on ‘bit’. Between missions, you’ll be met with a simple comic strip during the loading screens describing the current happenings and the reason for your mission. There is no real narrative to the story, but I get the feeling that it’s all about the gameplay. The comic strips are just a nice extra for you to have some understanding as to why this world exists. The lack of a real story becomes apparent immediately as you are thrown into a tutorial level with no explanation of why or what you’re doing.

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Overall, Sanctum 2 is a delightful and very different entry into an already rich genre. The first-person shooter aspect invigorates the game with a real fresh take on the tower defense game. The tower defense works just as it should. Any tower defense aficionados will feel right at home playing this game. Throw in a beautiful backdrop and an amazing art style. Along with a campaign that can take 20-25 hours of solid gameplay. As well as 4 player co-op, and you have a game that’s been bred for success. Sanctum 2 should be a successful outing for Coffee Stain Studios, and I look forward to seeing what they produce in future. The game should be a welcome addition to fans of tower defense, shooters, and all gamers alike.

Sanctum 2 is currently available on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for 1,200 Microsoft Points.

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Diablo III Finally Coming To Your Xbox 360 On September 3rd

Diablo III LogoIt’s the moment several people who aren’t a part of the glorious PC master race have been waiting for. One of last year’s most hotly anticipated PC titles has finally been given a release date for the Xbox 360. That’s right, ladies and gents. You can pop your retail disc into your consoles this September 3rd.  Continue reading Diablo III Finally Coming To Your Xbox 360 On September 3rd