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Victor Vran review

Victor Vran is brought to us by Haemimont Games, and with legendary titles such as the Tropico series under their belts, then my expectations were extremely high for Victor. I do have to manage my expectations here and defend Victor a bit, a lot of people are comparing this game to triple A titles and that’s not fair, because triple A is something that Mr Vran is not. With developer behemoths such as Blizzard behind Diablo then titles like this from smaller developers already have a hard time getting noticed. It’s time to be open minded and give the small guys a go.

Victor Vran is our protagonist and he is a Demon Hunter by trade. Victor travels to Zagoravia, a dark dank city where all manners of undead foe spawn from the ground and evil wizards emerge to cast all hell onto you. The main thing that puts Victor out in front is there are no classes to speak of, it’s you, Victor, and endless enemies to battle through. You can, however, obtain outfits and these offer various perks and aesthetics but they’re definitively not classes.

You have four types of weapons to choose from: swords, guns, hammers, rapiers. These drop from enemies and can be found in loot chests scattered around the world. Like any game of this type, loot is important, and as usual the rarer the better. Each weapon has three abilities, I can’t really tell you what they are as I didn’t really take much notice but each one has its own devastating attack weather that be targeted or a simple AOE effect. Along with your weapons, you have Overdrive, as you attack this builds up its own power bar and when it’s full you can unleash your Demon Attack skill causing carnage in your wake. Demon abilities drop like weapons and also the rarer the better. Demon skills aren’t always offensive though as some give you protective and healing auras making life a little easier.

You can equip two types of weapon at any one time and eventually unlock the ability to equip two types of demon skills. Switching between one weapon type and another is simple, at the touch of the RB button you switch, meaning that you can use your harder attacks in quick succession. The controls over all are really good and simple to get to grips with. Victor Vran offers something a little different in terms of viewpoint though, whilst most crawlers give you a fixed view, Victor Vran allows you to rotate the screen meaning you can get into every nook and cranny of each area.

Combat is often fast and exciting, with mobs spawning around all the time and quite often in packs. This gives for a satisfying feeling when you drop a devastating melee attack and obliterate everyone on the screen. With multiplayer also being an option this adds for some exhilarating gameplay as you all bring your own unique flair to the game. Difficulty naturally increases but it’s worth trudging through with your team on the hunt for better loot. That being said, sometimes you can get lost in the carnage and things get quite confusing but that’s a small price to pay.

Victor Vran also gives players a jump ability, something that is missing from most crawlers, this allows you to jump over walls and seek out hidden treasures behind walls and fences. If you jump into a wall you get a double jump chance meaning that you’re not limited to a certain path and this allows for some exploration of areas. Typically areas are big enough to allow a fair amount of venturing off the beaten path, all in the hope of finding a find a rare spawn that will drop some phat loot.

Speaking of which Victor Vran is packed with the stuff, there is loot everywhere, some not so good but you don’t have to venture far into the game before you start picking up some decent items. Some people may be put off by that but it does come in handy early on, trust me. When you reach the ripe old level of 16 you get access to the transmutation machine, this allows you to sacrifice the trash loot and improves what you have. When it comes to loot, it’s yours and yours alone, there is no trading with other players and no swapping that legendary hammer with your friend for a quick boost.

With all the elements that most RPG/dungeon crawlers have, Victor Vran doesn’t disappoint. Sometimes it can get a bit tedious especially when it comes to the voice acting, which by the way stars Doug Cockle of Witcher fame. There is a character called the “The Voice” who randomly speaks to you and sometimes offers hints, the voice cracks the same jokes all the time, frankly it gets a bit boring. These shortfalls should in no way deter you from giving Victor Vran a go, because it’s a part of what is a fantastic dungeon crawler.

Victor Vran is not without its issues but on the whole I really enjoyed playing it and I will definitely be returning to Zagoravia for more. Graphically it’s adequate and the sounds fit perfectly, Victor Vran is a treat for dungeon crawler fans and perfect for those who want something a little different. No crawler would be complete without chickens making and appearance…yep that’s right you get a gun that shoots out chickens…what more could you want. Why not click on the video below for some gameplay and a video review of the game.

Thanks to Haemimont Games and Xbox for supporting TiX

Demon Crystals review

I love a twin stick shooter. Their simplicity, ease, and often hectic gameplay is the perfect mix for a quick and fun gaming session. Demon Crystals is one of a number of twin stick shooters that offers all of those elements, but how does it stand up to the rest? Read on find out, or if you don’t want to read then scroll down and watch the video review at the bottom.

Demons Crystals, brought to us by Badland Games, is an anime themed shoot fest where you lead Urican demons through countless hazards to bring peace to their world.

There is no complicated plot to Demon Crystals, what you see is pretty much what you get, the action, however, has you gripped making a complex story unnecessary. Each stage sets out a particular challenge, this could be to kill a certain amount of enemies or collect a certain amount of crystals. The levels cannot be cleared unless you complete the challenge.

In true anime style, there are loads of weapon pickups that offer some crazy over the top weaponry to help you with your quest. Each pickup will only last a limited amount of time but there are plenty to grab so you’re never short of a decent weapon. It is virtually impossible to complete a level without the firepower of a pickup, so make sure you search the whole area to find the next weapon. Along with the weapon pickups are orbs that add extra firepower, pickups for extra time, health or speed. There is even a mushroom that you collect that increases your size allowing you simply walk over your enemies.

Like most game of this type, it is sometimes not about where you’re shooting and more about dodging incoming bullets or enemies. After a set number of stages there’s a boss level, these are again about dodging. It can require some perseverance but it’s still fun nonetheless.

One thing that did strike me was the awesome sound. The music is very high quality and had me humming along at times. There are four different demons to choose from but they don’t really do anything different from each other. With the basic XP system your demon will level up but this seems pointless because it is purely to take on more difficult levels and enemies. There is an option, however, to have up to three mates join in and take on the horde but this could prove to be very hectic, but worth a try anyway.

Despite its lack of depth, I had an absolute blast playing it and I think you will too. If I had one criticism then it would be that each demon could do with a super ability, a bit of a panic button if you like, to take out all the enemies on screen at once.

There is no tactical gameplay and to be honest, once you’ve had a good go at it is has the risk of sitting in your installed games all lonely and gathering dust. Demon Crystals is cheap and definitely worth a playthrough, I loved it. At just shy of £4 it’s a pocket money game but unfortunately that’s as far as it goes. It’s not horrible and it’s not amazing, what Demon Crystals is, however, is a lot of fun and worth anyone’s money.

Thanks to Badland Games and Xbox for supporting TiX

Voodoo Vince Remastered review

Cast your mind back 14 years. If you’re anything like me then remembering yesterday is a task. Voodoo Vince was released on the original Xbox and has been sat, gathering dust on the developer’s shelves all this time. Beep Industries have however, given the Clayton Kauzlaric title a bit of a polish and released it back to the masses.

I haven’t played the original but remember it being released. PC gaming had most of my attention back then but I’m glad I have a chance to play now in all it’s HD glory. The video below is the review of Voodoo Vince Remastered so give it a watch and see if you agree. Don’t forget to subscribe to the TiX YouTube channel for streams, games and more reviews.

Thanks to Beep Industries and Xbox for Supporting Tix

Vertical Drop Heroes HD review

It’s been a long time since I sat in front of a PC, loaded up a web browser and played a Flash game. Things have moved on a lot since those days and unfortunately some of these gems aren’t getting the traffic they used to. Vertical Drop Heroes HD, however, has ascended from Flash game to console game, and is impressively the brain child of just one man.

Like most games of this type, repetition is key to progression, so the more you play the more you’re likely to succeed in the end. However, with death being an inevitability, and no chance of starting where you left off, it makes for quite a tiring experience. At the start of each game you get to choose from three randomly generated heroes with varying amounts of damage and health. Each character has a weapon that you can choose to auto attack the enemies, however, this, in my opinion, should be turned off due to your hero often attacking when it’s too late.

You jump into a randomly generated world and make you way down, yes down, not sideways or up, fighting as you go against randomly generated enemies. When, and if, you make it to the bottom there is a huge boss that is, you guessed it, randomly generated. You can skip the boss though, if you’re quick enough, because if you don’t have the damage or the health then death spells the end of your chosen hero.

Scattered around each level are gold coins that can be used to buy temporary power-ups or more permanent upgrades from merchants before or during each stage. Upgrades will add more attack power or health to your hero. Experience boosts are also an option and come in handy as you descend, giving you an upper hand on the boss. Also, placed around each stage are keys. The keys are used to unlock chests, alternative paths and, more importantly, the exit if you don’t want to face the boss. This does come in handy if things haven’t gone to plan on your way down.

To add a little extra challenge to each level, there is a quest giver placed towards the beginning of each stage. They give you optional quests to collect items as you go down, such as collecting specific orbs or animals. When you get to the bottom you can use a magic portal which, for a cost, teleports you back to the start of the stage to have another go if you missed something on your first run.

The bonus to Vertical Drop Heroes is the short sharp experience it offers. The levels are brief and can be completed quickly if you want, or you can take it slow and methodical, tactically considering you descent and collecting those optional quest gubbins. If you die, pick another hero and rinse and repeat. Due to it’s lack of depth it does get a repetitive but it’s well suited to limited play session where you only have a little time to spare.

Visually Vertical Drop Heroes is basic, but with a game like this you quickly stop looking at the visuals because you’re so fixated on dodging or collecting. A small game like this should definitely be on your ready to play list for those quick gaming sessions when you have nothing else to do, however, I must admit I can think of better things to blow £6 on; if dropped to half price then I’d say it’s definitely worth a shot.

Overall Vertical Drop Heroes is cheap and cheerful, fair play to Nerdook for transforming a flash game into something a little more substantial. Whilst the game is worth a go it’s not something that will grab your attention for hours. The first ten minutes will give you everything you need to get to grips with it, meaning there’s no real incentive to carrying on playing.

Thanks to Xbox and Nerdook for supporting TiX

Riptide GP: Renegade review

High powered water sports aren’t the most covered topic when it comes to the gaming market. That being said though when the subject is addressed, it is done extremely well. I give you Riptide GP: Renegade.

Vector Unit (which is an awesome name by itself) have polished up what was in my opinion already a success. Back in January 2015 our very own Phil Kowalski reviewed Riptide GP2 and gave it a glowing report. Well 2 years on and Riptide GP is still good and it also looks a lot better. Testament to it’s own success Riptide GP: Renegade has also had a go at the mobile gaming genre and won!

Riptide GP: Renegade

The arcade racer has seen a bit of a decline in recent years with more realistic games taking the front line and leaving little quirky titles in their wake. It is good to see though that the arcade racer hasn’t died off just yet and developers like Vector Unit are still confident they can pull it off. Riptide GP: Renegade see’s you racing on hydrojet racers across 8 different maps. After being sentenced to a 2 year ban for illegal racing your character has to start from the bottom and work your way up back to the top of the podium.

Riptide GP: Renegade

The campaign mode does exactly what it should and as you progress through the ranks gaining XP and levelling up your hydro racer your competition also gets better. This makes achieving the top spot more difficult. The story isn’t really engaging but it adds some seasoning to the game and gives you a bit of purpose as you progress. True to most mobile games each race is ranked with a 3 star system depending on how you do. There does seem to be a bit of a difficulty spike in your competitors,however. This makes keeping your 1st place that bit harder to maintain. However if you’re a grind addict then you’ll enjoy this because to get the appropriate upgrades you may need to do a bit of grinding to get the parts you need.

Riptide GP: Renegade

When you take part in a race, depending on where you finish, you get a certain amount of prize money that can be spent on upgrades. As you progress the cost of upgrades increases so you have to think carefully where you want your money to go, whether it be acceleration, boost, handling or increase in top speed. Despite your upgrades though if you so much as make one error then you can quickly go from the front to the back in a matter of seconds, leading to some frustrating catch up moments.

Riptide GP: Renegade

The stunt system plays an important part because the more stunts you perform in a single race the more it increases the amount of boost you have at your disposal. The stunts are fairly easy to pull of with just a little tweak of the thumb sticks. Initially though the stunts are basic but you can unlock more as you progress through the game. Scattered throughout each stage are ramps and table tops that help you get enough air to perform your tricks, however to add a little spice you can also perform tricks off high waves and the wakes of other riders that they leave behind. Don’t concentrate too much on the stunts though, because again if you bodge one you’re not going to keep your position for long.

Riptide GP: Renegade

There is a some online and local multiplayer gameplay that offers something a little different but options on race type are limited. Visually Riptide GP: Renegade is good, obviously the console version looks better than the mobile version but with full 1080p and 60fps the gameplay is smooth and crisp. That being said though the backgrounds are a little basic and have a touch of Trials Fusion about them but to be fair, like the original you’re not looking at the backgrounds for long because there is always someone trying to nick your spot on the leaderboard. The soundtrack has been polished a bit compared to it’s predecessor and is just about acceptable and appropriate to the fast paced gameplay.

On the whole Riptide GP: Renegade still remains a must buy for racing fans and noobs alike. It will sit proud next to any racing game you have and will draw you back to retain your top spot and upgrade your Hydrojet. Good job, Vector Unit, not only for this one but for keeping the arcade racer alive.

Thanks to Vector Unit and Xbox for supporting TiX

 

 

 

We’re looking for reviewers

Do you have an Xbox One and fancy the idea of reviewing games for us? Then we very much want to hear from you.

We are currently looking for passionate writers to join our little team, helping us provide great content and timely reviews. It’s voluntary work – we work for nothing at TiX – but you’ll get great experience writing as part of a dedicated team, exposure as a writer to the industry as a whole, and free games from the ones you review. It’s a great opportunity for those looking to turn games journalism into a potential career or hobby, and need a new, or first, outlet.

Experience isn’t necessary, all we ask is that you can turn reviews around quickly and can write with passion and enough analytical depth to really explore why games are good, bad or ugly. Our editors will help shape your writing to try and bring out your very best, so the ability to take constructive criticism is a must. However, with that said, even if you’re new, rusty or unsure of your writing potential, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Furi review

I’m all for independant games, the idea of a small company working hard and achieving success is a fantasy most indie devs dream of, and most of the time I’m rooting for them. Can this be said for The Game Bakers, the developers of Furi? Not this time, sorry.

The aim of Furi is pretty simple, hack, slash, dodge and shoot your way past 9 bosses. Each boss offers a varied set of challenges that you have to learn, counteract and out-smart along the way. You have all of your abilities right from the start. There are no skill levels or RPG elements to muddy the waters. Only you and the protagonist. Originally offered free on ‘the other’ platform, Furi comes at a cost, and one that is just a tad too much in my opinion. At £15.99 this may be a bit expensive considering what the game lacks in some areas.

Furi

The story is quite simple, you play a character called The Stranger. You are released from a prison cell by a man in an oversized rabbit mask. It’s sounds quite silly and there’s no real explanation who the man is either. Initially Furi felt like I was having a bad trip and I was lost in a world that has no point or meaning, but at least it got weird straight away so you know exactly where you stand. The Stranger never offers his opinion on things and he just lets the Rabbit man waffle on in random terms that have very little meaning. That is until later on in the game when you have to question your actions, but no spoilers here.

Furi

Furi’s art style is what I like most about it. With nods to the like of Afro Samurai, which incidentally was awesome, Furi’s art work is colourful with some truly epic boss models. An example of this is the second boss that initially you think is a mechanical robot with a TV camera on it’s head. It’s not until you get up close and realise it’s a female cyborg with a spot light for a head instead. The character models are full of little tweaks and details that question what you think you saw in the first place.

Furi

Play style is easily mastered, simple button presses and longer presses for charged attacks are probably what saved Furi from being uninstalled in record time. The difficulty, however, is unforgiving. I’m genuinely glad the controls were easy to get the hang of. You are greeted with a difficulty screen, the lowest difficulty is an easy yet short version of the game that has no achievement unlocks. Not a good idea in my opinion. This straight away rules out those who want to play a game for the fun. The normal difficulty is what is recommended at the start and the hardest level titled ‘Furiest’ difficulty I will never even attempt. On Normal difficulty the first boss is hard, no messing it is just hard. I managed to defeat him in 2 attempts but there was no easing the player into the game mechanics with trash mobs. It was straight into the fight. This for me is when gamers will quickly make their minds up and have to swallow deep that they have spent £16 on a game they may very well never play again. One saving grace however was there are checkpoints during the boss fights, but that doesn’t save Furi.

Furi

In between the fights there are narratives from Rabbit man and long slow, dull, irritating walks between each level. No interactive sections just long slow walks. These long slow walks have obviously been addressed because The Game Bakers even put an auto-walk option in by pressing the A button. I’m no developer but please, don’t let this feature happen again, spend the extra time and make a cool cut scene or something.

Furi

Musically, Furi is brilliant. I’m not completely rubbishing the game because that’s not fair. It’s obvious time has been put into the game’s audio and it has definitely paid off. I will even pay some well deserved respect for the soundtrack, go HERE to listen to it and buy it should you wish to do so. I’m not sure if Furi is trying to be like something else, a Ninja Gaiden perhaps? Some think it is a Shadow of Colossus type of game. Whatever it is, it’s not a God of War or Dante’s Inferno, 2 games that are exactly what a hack and slash game should be. Defeating the bosses does give you some satisfaction though, but this is taken away should you wish to drop the difficulty. Sometimes, satisfaction doesn’t make a game good.

Furi

On the whole Furi looks and sounds great, it’s a real shame that the difficulty and aim of the game don’t stack up to what could have been and should have been a real contender for the genre. Maybe I’ve missed the point, if I have I would be glad to hear other opinions but I can’t justify the price to enjoyment you get from it. Save your money and buy the soundtrack instead.

Thanks to The Game Bakers and Xbox for supporting TiX

 

Bridge Constructor Stunts review

Bridge Constructor Stunts saw it’s birth first on Steam and mobile devices, the basic aim is to get your vehicle from one side of the level to the other. As simple as it sounds Bridge Constructor Stunts is not easy, but is it any good?

If physics was your thing way back at school then this will see just how much you remember. The start of the game gives you a tutorial on how to edit the level’s bridges and add the necessary pieces to existing ones to give your vehicle a fighting chance of making it to the end. With the building and adjusting starting off quite basic this quickly moves onto more complicated bridges as you progress, meaning you’ll have to build bridges at various angles and heights to be able to get to the end goal. To add a little more of a challenge there are collectibles scattered throughout each level in the form of stars and screws, which to be honest, don’t really offer much in the way of bonuses – they were put there just for an extra challenge.

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Whilst the actual building of the ramp is straight forward, the more you practice the more proficient you will get making the whole puzzle solving issue easier. The best place to start is the base, after all, this will hold the whole thing up. Next you can work on the angle and height so your vehicle makes a smooth jump onto the next bridge. Just to add a little more spice later on in the game, you can choose the materials you use to allow more support and cope with heavier loads. One little gripe I have is that you have a limited budget, which often caused me a bit of frustration as I couldn’t just build everything in the strongest materials – but it does help add that puzzle element to the game.

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Once your bridge is built and you’re confident it won’t collapse, it’s time test it out. By using the left stick you can rotate your truck mid flight to make it flip and rotate, if you land it you’ll get a better score. Often however you think your truck is rotating nicely but then all of a sudden you will over rotate and it’s game over. Mixing the stunts, your bridge, the angles, materials and numerous test runs gives you a final score needed to pass the level. As you can imagine, at times this game got sworn at.

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Bridge Constructor Stunts is a nice little game that requires lots and lots of trial and error. At times it becomes a bit of a bind, however, it is quite satisfying once you land your vehicle and cross the finish line knowing you worked hard to pass the level. On the ‘flip’ side all your efforts aren’t really rewarded much because there aren’t many achievements to be earned.

Bridge Constructor Stunts is a colourful and fun game with a pretty decent soundtrack, using a controller isn’t that easy and I can see why it was made for touch screen mobile devices in the first place.

Thanks to Headup Games and Xbox for Supporting TiX

Tennis In The Face review

When it come to reviewing games there’s a lot to take into consideration, the reader needs to know if the game is worth getting and of course the developers need to get a general feel on how their game is going in the big bad world. Sometimes however you get to review a game that is so simple, straight forward and intuitive that reviewing it becomes a bit of a challenge. 10tons have created that such game and it’s called Tennis In The Face.

Tennis In The Face comes in various guises and is available on just about any device you can get, even a Mac! With numerous mobile phone titles under their belt 10tons have spread their wings and ported some of their most popular titles to consoles. Originally called Clowns In The Face, Tennis In The Face sees you playing as ex-professional tennis star Pete Pagassi. It’s his job to rid the world of an Explodz addicted enemy epidemic. Explodz is a volatile energy drink and the drink plays it’s own part in the levels as you can use it’s explosive nature to aid you in your quest to clear each level. If you want there is even a website promoting the drink here.

Tennis In The Face

The goal for each stage is simple, get rid of the enemy using only your tennis racket and your balls. The least amount of balls it takes to clear the enemy the better. The enemy comes in various shapes and sizes and some require more than one hit with your tennis ball to get rid of them. You’re awarded more points should you get headshots and there are various challenges to complete. For example, take out 5 clowns before the ball bounces 4 times. It seems simple but it’s not.

10tons have perfected how to get under a gamers skin because, at times I forgot the general aim of the game and just spent half an hour trying to finish the challenges. At times, however, I considered the balance between the satisfaction of throwing my controller through a window and the cost of actually replacing both items. With that said it just shows you don’t have to have a ‘triple A’ title to get a kick out of a game.

Tennis In The Face

Tennis In The Face is basic. The art style is also basic but colourful, the controls are simple but don’t let that take anything away from just how addictive this game actually is. Very rarely do I get that engrossed in a game that I ignore what’s happening around me (in the Mafia house that is virtually impossible) but this game did. Working out trajectory, bounces, obstacles, using Explodz and working out how to get the tricky enemies had me hooked. Properly hooked.

If you are a gamerscore hunter then Tennis In The Face has your back, dishing out a cool 300 points during the first level and set of challenges alone was a massive incentive to carry on.

Tennis In The Face

Well that’s about it, aim your ball and fire, nothing too complicated about that is there. Tennis In The Face is accessible to everyone. As an example of this a senior member of the Mafia Family came over for Christmas well wishes and I let her have a go. She nailed it, and that was someone who had never even handled a controller. 10tons have it right with this but if I had one gripe then Tennis In Your Face isn’t a “go back to” game. On your phone? Yes, definitely. On your console, next to the likes of Battlefield 1, COD, etc? No, sorry.

One particular scenario where it may get numerous plays is if you have a little one and the ‘triple A’ titles aren’t really suitable for them to play. In that scenario. this is perfect, and for £3.99 it’s worth it. When all is said and done, it’s not child labour if they’re getting gamerscore for you, is it?

Tennis In The Face is available now and offers:-

  • Easy to pick-up bouncer gameplay
  • Hilarious ragdoll characters
  • Slow motion level finales
  • Over 100 levels plus bonus game modes
  • A dozen challenging Game Center achievements
  • Game Center leaderboards

Thanks to 10tons and Xbox for supporting TiX

Leaving The Xbox 360 and Taking The Step Towards Xbox One

xbox_2005

My history with the Xbox 360 has spanned through eight great years together; despite burning through a few consoles before the newer Xbox 360 S (slim) launched which seems to have more stable hardware! I have forked out a few repair bills in the consoles earlier days. Despite my gripes with the infamous Red Ring of Death – I kind of accepted it as part of the console and kept on paying and playing!

In the winter of 2005 when I had completed three and a half years of accountancy studies I felt bored of my PlayStation 2, because I hardly gave it any time it deserved due to studying hard, and same with the (then) PlayStation Portable which I had imported from Japan in 2004. Console wise I’ve had many, and I will be totally honest with you that I was dying for a PlayStation 3 because I was just so used to having a PlayStation and that I didn’t own the original Xbox. With the PS3 looking a bit distant in 2005 and that my PS2 was just ancient to me, I was won over by the advertising for Xbox 360 and that very year with some family help I was able to spend £500.00 on the first Xbox 360. This was a lot of money considering it was the basic ‘CORE’ console without the HDD, but it was bundled with five games, a small 64mb Memory Card, extra controller and a headset. I had never ever played an online multiplayer game before, nor experienced anything in HD – I didn’t even own an HDTV in 2005!

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The first game I played as soon as I got my Xbox 360 unboxed and hooked up to the 40inch widescreen backlit projector screen TV as they were back then in SD; I played TigerWoods PGA Tour 06 and was just blown away by the graphics in comparison to TigerWoods 05 which I had loved on the PS2 for so long. I was in awe, then Condemned, the original Need for Speed Most Wanted, King Kong and some other game I can’t even remember was literally played to death all night long. My love of Xbox 360 at that point in time was only just the beginning – something magical happened between my console and me, that first connection to Xbox LIVE was a spark between us. I decided that I must experience multiplayer gaming albeit that I was a little nervous about meeting random people over the internet on a gaming console. The idea of it seemed great, but I wasn’t all that sociable enough to be able to spark up conversation with people I wasn’t stood in front of! Although I don’t remember the exact details, I do remember thinking how remarkable it was to be able to just switch on my console and be hooked up to other people when entering a multiplayer lobby. I had many a happy few games of Tiger Woods 06 that Christmas, and then had a two week ban for swearing even though I was already on my second repair by that time!

In the new year of 2006 I was won over by Xbox 360 and just had to know everything and anything about the little machine. What games were coming out, what accessories I could purchase, and I googled “Xbox 360 News” that would eventually lead me to Xboxic.com a smartly designed news site that I kept returning to use. Following repeated returns and a few months of commenting on the news posts (I even remember my first comment, it was a reply to a user named STUDLEY UK) I joined their forums. I am known for being quite opinionated and in person quite dominant with my opinion and I contributed a lot to the forums and met some great online friends who were the first people I added to my Xbox LIVE Friends list. Even now, eight years on some are still active and I have met them in person. Xboxic was the very first community website I joined, the very first forums I participated in as well as the very first Xbox news site I read. I was encouraged by a friend I met on the forums to contribute to news and I then went on to become a really active news and reviews writer for the site for a few years before leaving in 2010 to start up ThisisXbox.com

callofduty3

2006 was also another great year for me for two reasons – Call of Duty 3 and HDTV. Everyone that knows me, knows how much I am a Call of Duty fan, but at the time of its launch in 2006 I wasn’t familiar with it and couldn’t afford it as I had spent my last remaining cash on Gears of War, so my sister bought Call of Duty 3 as an early Christmas gift. Going back to Gears of War I guess I was drawn into the marketing campaign and it was my most wanted game that year, it was also the first game I ever played in HD. Playing a game in HD felt like playing the 360 for the first time all over again, I had to go through my games collection to see the noticable difference in quality from SD to HD gaming. I was once again amazed and in love with my game collection! Now, with Call of Duty 3 – when I got round to starting it I really loved the campaign, but with multiplayer gaming I had never played anything so addictive. It was the most enjoyable game over Xbox LIVE and I devoted hours and hours into it. There were nights I didn’t even sleep and I just couldn’t stop.

The Call of Duty community in 2006 was not what it is now, the game was not as huge pre Modern Warfare era and almost everyone online was over the age of 18. There wasn’t a kid to be heard anywhere and the lobbies were sociable and very respectful in 2006. Players made an effort to communicate and the best parts of my life with an Xbox 360 have been on Call of Duty 3 during 2006 – 2007. No other game at that time mattered – I was 26 and was well and truly sucked into the Call of Duty world of gaming. I couldn’t throw enough money at it to buy every map pack and then the same with Call of Duty 2 because that too was still going strong with players. Although I still love Call of Duty and can not wait for Ghosts on Xbox One, I feel Microsoft has killed off some of the social aspects of the console by introducing Party Chat modes. Gamers don’t integrate anymore and friends tend to stick with friends in their own parties online. Come 2007 when Modern Warfare launched I am surprised I didn’t burst with excitement. It was ten times the game Call of Duty 3 wasn’t and taking it out of the WWII era was the best move Infinity Ward had ever made for their franchise.

xboxic

Whilst I was still much an active member of Xboxic also in 2007, this was the year I started writing news posts and learnt quickly the importance of gaming PR, keeping up to date with everything on Xbox360 even if it’s not all able to become news, but I really got involved and stuck in with keeping Xboxic active news wise. Reviews didn’t come until later down the line, but I soon became an established writer on Xboxic and this lead to PR friends and getting known to the Xbox Community Network XCN (an opportunity headed by Graeme Boyd aka AceyBongo’s) which I have been part of since late 2008 or early 2009-ish. When I left Xboxic in 2010 and started ThisisXbox on September 6th, the XCN supported me in the change-over and have helped ThisisXbox become what it is now alongside the assistance from gaming PR reps who I had known through Xboxic.

Needless to say that also by 2007 when the PlayStation 3 was released, I did buy it on launch day but I was so established on Xbox 360 with a great list of friends that every time a multiplatform game was released I favoured the Xbox 360. My PS3 soon became just a Blu-Ray player for HD movies. It gathered dust and was left for dead on a shelf in another room.

Leaving Xboxic in 2010 was a hard decision to make. It was the first community I ever joined and the first site that allowed me to have such great opportunities with everything associated with the Xbox 360 from a gaming writers perspective. I didn’t like the site design, it was fast becoming aged, it appeared to get ad-filled – so I took all the ideas I had an created this very site. I have no regrets on that front, but I feel without Xboxic, the community of friends that I met on that site would not have made this site even possible. Everything I do now has stemmed from everything I learnt whilst with Xboxic. The consideration to join other sites was there having written for Technorati, GameStooge and others in the past, but I needed my own control and my own spin on a gaming news site.

xboxonebox

I have reviewed hundreds of Xbox 360 games over the years and to ensure I can afford the Xbox One on launch day I made the decision to sell my Xbox 360 to help pay for it. I felt it was worth more now before the Xbox One launch because I could just imagine a ton of Xbox 360’s popping up on ebay when gamers realise they will not need their 360’s because they will soon be gathering dust. I am at this time of writing without a console, I have had to forward my review games onto other ThisisXbox reviewers and wrapping up Call of Duty Ghosts nearly had me in a flood of tears, but with just under two weeks now until Xbox One is in the shops… my time on Call of Duty on a brand new console will come soon enough and I really just can not wait!

I know that from the moment my Xbox One arrives I wouldn’t have been interested in anything Xbox 360 anyway. The 360 now was no loss to me, it was just a tool to review the 360 games which now are better off being sent to reviewers who are not yet taking the plunge to next-gen. I have seen and played Xbox One titles already through attending Eurogamer this year with my press pass, so I know what joy will behold come November 22nd. As the Xbox 360 was responsible for me getting involved in a community, eventual writing, site ownership, reivewing… I wonder what the next few years of Xbox One will bring for us all and if the wait for next gen will be another agonising eight years!

For me – personally, Titanfall looks set to revolutionise multiplayer in ways you never thought possible. Having experienced the game first hand, I am excited to see how this grows and evolves into a franchise of its own.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane, share your early memories of Xbox 360 in the comments box below…if you’re really bored!