Monolith Productions are the American studio behind the terrifying F.E.A.R and Condemned series and are the masterminds behind Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The Lord of the Rings universe has huge potential for a truly incredible game because of the fantastic lore that Tolkien has created, dozens of titles have attempted to fill that void but failed over and over again, until now.
Shadow of Mordor takes place between The Hobbit and Lord of the Ring trilogies, you play as Tailon, a Gondor ranger set with the task of guarding the Black Gate. Within the first 60 seconds of the game, this poor chap has his entire family brutally sacrificed in front of him and then being killed himself. This then leads to an Elf Lord spirit being summoned, bringing Tailon back from death’s grasp and the pair go on an epic journey across Mordor, slaughtering everything in their way until they get their revenge on the Black Hand.
That’s about the story in a nutshell, not the most eventful and it’s not helped by the fact that Tailon is a fairly dull character. His facial expression barely seems to change between confusion and boredom, no matter what is happening in front of him. Thankfully, the quests that Tailon sets out on keeps the main story missions interesting, usually involving the player stalking an enemy, following a trail or defending a certain object/person in a variety of different locations across the map. You’ll stumble across characters that you love from the main books and movies such as Golem, who is possibly one of the creepiest characters I’ve ever witnessed in a video game.
The stand out feature in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is the truly incredibly Nemesis enemy system. It’s hands down one of the best features » Continue Reading.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment is an investigation style game with a gentle nod to the great point and click adventure titles of the early 90’s when full exploration and experimentation were required, not just added for fun. Developed by Frogwares and published by Focus Home Interactive Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment was released for Xbox One (and Xbox 360) on September 30th.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment takes place in 19th century London and the surrounding suburbs composed of varied and somewhat exotic locations including central London with its dark and grimy alleys, sun kissed Chinese Gardens, the Roman ruins of St Albans and the world famous Kew Gardens. It draws inspiration from and resonates with the Russian novel Crime and Punishment by the novelist and philosopher Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky’s literary works explore human psychology in the context of the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmosphere of 19th century Russia. Frogwares have focused on the player finding the right culprit and making the moral choice of either absolving or condemning the culprit with various outcomes and knock-on effects dependent on the your choice.
There are six unique cases in Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments and each one has clearly been inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories and also written in the same traditional style. Each new case opens up a number of new locations to explore and clues that will need to be pieced together. Exploring and gathering clues will take up the majority of your time in Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment. As you progress and discover new clues they’ll be added to a list of deductions accessible from the Y button. Clues are gathered from crime scenes, exploring places of interest, interrogating suspects in Scotland Yard » Continue Reading.
Sacred 3 tells the story of five heroes working together to stop the evil Lord Zane from retrieving the “Heart of Ancaria” and opening the gates of the Underworld and unleash its armies on the world of Ancaria. This is the third game in the series but the first under developer Deep silver who acquired the license from the original developer Ascaron Entertainment. This is my first time with the series so can it do justice to the popular series?
Sacred 3 is a top down Hack n Slash game that uses RPG elements in order for players to customise the combat style of their chosen fighter by using XP to level up abilities, weapons and armour as you progress through the game. From the start of the game you can pick from any of five cultures, each represented by a hero from the Seraphim, Safari, Ancarian. Khukuri and new to the series, the Malakhim. This culture will be included in the First Edition version of the game available on release day as DLC along with the ‘Underworld’ Mission pack which adds four missions which will see you fight your way to the top of a sinister tower where the Black Seraphim will be waiting, an evil not seen such Sacred 2.
Once you have selected your hero it is time to step into the world of Ancaria. I chose the newest Culture of Malakhim due to his dual blades combat style. You will have a guide throughout the game in the form of Aria who will provide tips on what needs to be accomplished and where to go during story missions. What struck me straight away is how the dialogue in the game does away with the cheesy ‘ye olde’ style of fantasy speaking and » Continue Reading.
Strike Suit Zero is a game that was released on the PC over a year ago to some pretty stellar reviews. Fast forward to 2014 and it has had its release on current gen (I can say that now right?) consoles with some added tweaks and changes. This director’s cut of Strike Suit Zero even comes with some extra ‘Heroes of the Fleet’ DLC. But will you like the cut of its jib? Let’s find out.
Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut is a space combat simulator that harkens back to old classics such as the Star Fox and Lylat Wars days of my youth. Strike Suit Zero is a game that appears to cater to my own personal nostalgic tastes. So if you’re in your mid-twenties like I am, you just might enjoy all the occasional nods to the things that made your childhood great. Things like the appearance of 90’s hottie and X-Files legend, Gillian Anderson.
Strike Suit Zero takes place in the year 2299. You play as the rambunctious go-getter of a spaceship pilot known simply as Adams. There is a civil war going on between the planet Earth and its colonies. This is a real ‘every movie ever’ kind of plot as the colonies procure a weapon that can obliterate Earth like it is nothing more than a low-level Alderaan. Therefore, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to stop the oncoming assault and overcome the odds through nothing but grit and determination.
Let’s talk about how it looks for a short moment. This is the next generation after all. We are yet to get a game that truly wows us on the Xbox One. Ryse: Son of Rome is the closest we’ve come to true next-gen graphics. Well don’t worry, » Continue Reading.
Published by EA and developed by Pop Cap, the Plants Vs Zombies series first arrived for Xbox in 2010 and took XBLA by storm. Beginning with defending your home from a Zombie attack using mutated plants put a new spin on the Tower defense genre of games. Jump to 2014 and ‘Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare’ takes on the Third person competitive shooter genre in the same way as Plants and Zombies do battle across Xbox LIVE. But can it really stand up to such competition from the bigger names already shooting it out?
Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare has two gameplay modes. First up is Garden Ops which is essentially the ‘Horde Mode’ from Gears of War but given the Plants Vs Zombies make over. Playable as a solo mode or up to four player co-op, you take the role of the Plants as you defend your garden for up to ten waves of continuous Zombie attacks. You can host your own private game should you want to play it solo or just with friends or you can take it public over Xbox LIVE were your game will be filled with other players looking for a game. There is a difficulty option from Easy, Normal or Hard to test your skills or just to have fun.
First task is to pick the location of your “garden”, and you get a good amount of time to find the best location to defend it. Finding the right location really is key to how successful you will be. Find one with the best cover and view points to see the oncoming zombies and you have the advantage. Pick a location, depending on which map you are on, where you can be cornered by the attackers and you will find yourself » Continue Reading.
I have to be honest, this is my first time playing a Castlevania game. Have known about the series but never really looked into until I played a demo of it at last years Eurogamer Expo in September and was hooked by the combat and great visuals the demo showcased. After that demo I looked into the series and was fascinated by the story and its dark overtones but with combat which seemed to be the highlight of the game going by most reviews and player opinions on forums. When I was given the chance to review the game I jumped at it and wanted to see if the sequel lived up to not only the fun I had with the demo back in September, but also improve upon the criticisms of the first Lords of Shadow game.
Published by Konami and developed by Mercury Steam Studio, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is a third person action game, sequel to the 2010 original Lords of Shadow and continues from those events included in its DLC which sees the lead character Gabriel Belmont having now taken on the name Dracula, after 1000 years he awakens to discover most of his powers have been stolen and that the forces of Satan are preparing for his return. As Gabriel/Dracula you must regain your lost powers and work with another character from the first game, Zobek, to stop Satan from returning to the Earth.
The opening to the game is the same level that is used in the recent demo available on the Xbox Store and serves as both an excellent introduction to the dark world of Lord of Shadows 2 but also serves as one of the best game tutorials I have encountered in gaming. Often Tutorials can be » Continue Reading.
Another week and another racing game put through its paces. Last week Need for Speed: Rivals proofed to be strong on the Xbox One as a top contender, but what of Forza Motorsport 5, the king of racing games? Well it finally arrived back with the launch of the Xbox One and judging by all the hype Turn10 and Microsoft generated, it sure had better be good and far exceeding than anything that has preceded it. Was all the noise in the build up to release day just PR hype or is this game as good as they say? Ladies and gentlemen, buckle your seat belts and start your engines, this is going to be a fun ride.
If like me you are a follower of the franchise, you’ll be well aware that this is undoubtedly the best racing simulator around (forget about Forza Horizon – it’s not included), it’s that much better than F1 (no, really it is). Forza Motorsport 5 features in excess of over 200 cars, a petrol heads dream and we are talking some serious motors here from classic muscle cars to icon classics and of course the new McLaren P1, which not only looked drop dead gorgeous but handled like a dream… albeit a simulated dream. Other worthy mentions in terms of vehicles include the classic McLaren M23, Ferrari 312T2 and the modern day Lotus E21 as driven by Kimi Raikkonen in the 2013 F1 Season.
Visually as you would expect Forza Motorsport 5 is polished, it has all the bells and whistles and is exceptional to behold. Especially good is the Forzavista mode which we did have a taste of in Forza 4, basically you can have a good look around the cars opening doors and » Continue Reading.
The guys and gals over at SteelSeries have been busy crafting their latest creation, the brand new H Wireless Gaming Headset. Not only is it a beauty but it’s also rammed full of features. The headset itself is beautifully packaged with a circuit board effect adorning the box which is printed in a spot varnish for added beauty to those that appreciate graphic design. The unit is slightly more heavyweight than the 7XBs and the quality and build is far better (not that the 7XB wasn’t any good). The headset features the same super comfy ear cups and retractable mic although this time round SteelSeries have made the cups fully rotate so you can rest them around your neck – handy for when you take a break from gaming and the mic is slightly longer and sits closer to your mouth. It always felt a bit strange with how the 7XB’s mic sat so far away.
I had fallen in love with SteelSeries after reviewing the Spectrum 7XB and even though it was only a stereo headset that connected to the Xbox via a 3.5mm jack and RCA splitter, the comfort and sound it created was exquisite. All the controls were located on the ear cups meaning you had to remember what all the different beeps and tones meant when selecting the correct EQ setting – now that’s a thing of the past.
The H Wireless’ transmitter has an OLED display that tells you exactly what menu you are in or EQ setting you have selected. The menus can be controlled with a spin wheel which is located on the ear cup, you can then tweak the currently selected menu item and cycle through menus by depressing the wheel. If you press the headset’s power button you can » Continue Reading.
Back with a bang and a vengeance, Call of Duty has launched alongside the Xbox One this week. For the first time in its history the same game is available on both a current and a next-gen console in the same year from the same development team. Call of Duty 2 was Infinity Ward’s launch title for the Xbox 360, whilst Treyarch developed Call of Duty 2: The Big Red One for Xbox Original (dare we say Xbox 1); eight years on the same core mechanics of the popular franchise has made its debut for 2013 with Call of Duty: Ghosts. Available now from the Xbox One games store and at retailers in the Xbox One launch markets.
Call of Duty: Ghosts on Xbox One feels upon first impressions like a complete refresh to the franchise; it is as if some of the futuristic and modern elements have been stripped bare from the game to give you a completely new start for the newer consoles. Gone are the big dramatic moments and over-the-top action sequences in favour for a subtle sci-fi themed story based around a tight knit family unit and the star of the game himself ‘Riley’, the well trained military dog who is quite handy at ripping the throat from unsuspecting near-by enemies! We’re sure you’ve heard of the famous canine addition to the game in the build up to release in the media, and in the game he has many uses. You can tag an enemy for him to grab, control his movements with an attached spy cam and have him as a handy companion in multiplayer through the Guard Dog KillStreak.
If you haven’t yet experienced Call of Duty: Ghosts because you are ‘still’ awaiting the arrival of your Xbox One, by » Continue Reading.
When I was a younger, fitter more idealistic teenager I watched an episode of the hit American TV Show One Tree Hill and decided I would have liked to have played basketball and even fooled myself into thinking I might have been good at it. If my performance in NBA 2K14 from developer Visual Concepts and publisher 2K Sports is anything to go by, I couldn’t have been more wrong. But even though the jury is out on whether my personal performance in the NBA is one to be proud of, the courtroom have agreed 2K14 is a smash hit.
Another franchise under the 2K Sports umbrella and one that stands out for quality and putting fans right where they want to be, in the middle of the action. It seems however that for next-generation 2K have hit the reset button and gone at it from scratch. You’d forgive the team behind them game to have simply given the next-generation title a visual upgrade from its 360/PS3 version, but they have gone all out in creating what is still a tightly finished and complex game, yet something all together different. For NBA 2K14, 2K have ripped back the skin on several of its biggest modes. In some cases, this has resulted in considerable improvement, but not in all.
Let’s get started with the visuals. 2K have gone all out for Xbox One and NBA 2K14. Body models are extremely detailed and realistic and more so than any other sports title I have played to date. It’s been reported that 2K scanned 80% of all the players faces in the NBA to achieve an incredible level of detail. I did notice a distinct difference in the quality between the popular and less popular » Continue Reading.