Category Archives: Reviews

My opinions of video games.

Stardew Valley Review

Stardew

The recently released Stardew Valley has skyrocketed up the Steam sales charts since its launch, with the pixel art farming sim selling an immense number of copies (nearly 500,000 at the time of writing) in barely 2 weeks.  This is one of the fastest selling indie games I’ve ever experienced, and I am glad to have been able to play this amazing game.

Inspired by the popular life-simulation series Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley is a farming and life simulator, where at the beginning of the game your grandfather passes on his failing farm in the picturesque Pelican Town.  Starting with only a small amount of money, you must work to build your farm up from a run-down, weed infested plot of land into a prosperous business, while simultaneously befriending the townsfolk, restoring the town to it’s former glory, and finding a spouse.

Stardew 2While at first glance, it may seem like the only thing to do in this game is farming, there are actually a host of different activities available to help you earn money.  Along with the standard growing crops and raising animals, you can also fish, forage or explore the deep and dangerous mines where you can either mine precious gems and ores, or fight  dangerous monsters for loot that they drop.  All of these activities are viable ways of both making money as well as spending time while you wait for your farm to begin turning a profit.

Obviously, farming is the primary method of earning money (it is a farming game after all) and the mechanics presented in this game are very solid.  Drawing heavy inspiration from Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town on the Game boy Advance,(which was also my first Harvest Moon Game) with it’s pixel art and design, it takes all of the best parts of that game, and combines it with some great updates, mainly sprinklers, items you can craft which will water your plants for you, to help you save time and allow you to further explore the town.

Stardew Map

Pelican Town itself is filled with a large number of colourful characters, each with their own likes and dislikes, and their own day to day schedules.  You can attempt to befriend them by giving them gifts and talking to them daily, and occasionally they will post quests on the town notice board, asking you to fetch them some items in exchange for a friendship boost.  Achieving higher friendship levels with the townsfolk will lead to them sometimes sending you useful items, or recipes that you can use to cook high quality food.  There is also 10 spouse choices in this game, each  with radically different personalities and interests, and, in a break from Harvest Moon tradition, same-sex marriage is included in this game, allowing you to romance all 10 of these characters in order to find your perfect match.

Marriage_abigail

Fans of Harvest Moon and other life simulators and farming games will definitely enjoy this game, especially if you enjoyed Friends of Mineral Town, a very similar game.  I highly recommend this game to everyone interested in this sort of game, and even those who haven’t tried a similar game before to try this one out.  It’s relatively cheap, and amazing fun, and at the time of writing this, I have over 40 hours invested in less than one week of owning it.

 

Music Review: The Greatest Video Game Music (London Philharmonic Orchestra)

Released on the 7 of November, 2011, the London Philharmonic Orchestra tackles some of gaming’s greatest themes from the iconic Super Mario Bros. theme, to the more obscure Angry Birds theme in this amazing album, The Greatest Video Game Music.

Listening to the album is one of the greatest musical  collections that I have had the pleasure of experienced in recent years.  Along with magnificent arrangement of every gamers favourite tunes, the songs themselves bring back memories of the games they originate from.  Whenever the Zelda Suite came on, images of the lush greenery of Hyrule Field sprung to the forefront of my mind, bringing back memories of the time Link first left the forest and embarked on his amazing journey with everyone playing along, all those years ago.

Some of the standout tracks on the album include the hauntingly beautiful theme from Bioshock (The Ocean On His Shoulders), and the dramatic, heart-pounding action theme from Metal Gear Solid: Sons Of Liberty.  Although I have never played either of these games enough to have any fond memories (albeit the first time you are exposed to the enormous underwater city of Rapture) these songs bring together the experiences of the games into one, tight package, able to be enjoyed at a moments notice.  While not as good as actually having the game in your pocket, this is definitely a worthy substitute.

This album serves as a soundtrack to many gamers lives, with classic, retro songs from a simpler time cropping up in between the newer, more dramatic pieces from the past 4 or 5 years.  A prime example of this is the appearance of both the famous Tetris theme song (The Russian folk song of Korobeiniki) and the much more recent Splinter Cell: Conviction theme.  There is a definite sampling here for all gamers, old or young, and surely everyone will find a song that fits their tastes, and brings back memories of a dramatic cut-scene, or a tormenting boss battle.  This album is an amazing collection of some of gamings greatest melodies, and a worthy addition to your own collection   This album is an amazing collection of some of gamings greatest melodies, and a worthy addition to your own collection and I heartily recommend this album to any and all fans of either classical music, or video game music in general.

Track Listing:

  1. Advent Rising: Muse
  2. Legend Of Zelda: Suite
  3. Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2: Theme
  4. Angry Birds: Main Theme
  5. Final Fantasy VIII: Liberi Fatali
  6. Super Mario Bros.: Theme
  7. Unchartered – Drake’s Fortune: Nate’s Theme
  8. Grand Theft Auto 4: Soviet Connection
  9. World Of Warcraft: Seasons Of War
  10. Metal Gear Solid: Sons Of Liberty Theme
  11. Tetris Theme:  Korobeiniki
  12. Battlefield 2: Theme
  13. Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
  14. Call Of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare: Main Menu Theme
  15. Mass Effect: Suicide Mission
  16. Splinter Cell: Conviction
  17. Final Fantasy: Main Theme
  18. Bioshock: The Ocean On His Shoulders
  19. Halo 3: One Final Effort
  20. Fallout 3: Theme
  21. Super Mario Galaxy: Gusty Garden Galaxy
  22. (Bonus Track On Amazon) – Dead Space: Welcome Aboard The U.S.G Ishimura
  23. (Bonus Track On iTunes) – Final Fantasy XIII: Hanging Edge

The Greatest Video Game Music is available to purchase from Amazon here, or from iTunes here

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Review

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a superhero based action game revolving around the multiple worlds of everyone’s favorite web-slinger, Spider-Man. Released just over a year ago, in late 2010, this Beenox developed title is a great romp through a variety of Spider-Man universes. I sunk a fair amount of time into this game, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The main gimmick of Shattered Dimensions is the way the game is structured. Over the course of 12 levels, you control 4 different incarnations of Spider-Man, the Amazing, Ultimate, Noir, and 2099 versions. All of these Spider-Men control differently and you’re forced to alter your style of gameplay for each level. 

Amazing Spider-Man is the typical Spider-Man.  Most of the levels involve using his webs to swing around, solve puzzles and beat up bad guys.  This Spider-Man is the featured as the main protagonist, with the majority of the story taking place in his dimension.  Ultimate Spider-Man is a fighter, currently being bonded with the alien symbiote (Venom).  As such, the majority of his levels feature wave after wave of enemies for you to beat back.  Noir Spider-Man is set in the 1930’s, and the Spider-Man in this dimension is a lot weaker than the others, and, as such, requires the use of stealth gameplay, sticking to the shadows and not taking enemies down in groups, rather one at a time (a la Splinter Cell).  Finally, 2099 Spider-Man is set in future Manhattan, where all the buildings have been raised to ridiculous heights, and you frequently dive off of them in order to chase a boss.  This creates some interesting free-fall combat segments, in which you must catch up to your prey and beat the living daylights out of them,while simultaneously dodging certain obstacles (eg. flying cars, random billboards, etc.). 

The story for this game is a bit weak, but works well as a way of bringing these different Spider-men together.  Mysterio (A recurring villain) attempts to steal a magical tablet: The Tablet of Order and Chaos. In his attempt to stop him, Amazing Spider-Man accidentally breaks the tablet, shattering it into 12 pieces, which end up scattering around the multiple universes. Madam Webb set’s the multiple Spider-men on a quest to find all 12 pieces before Mysterio can.  However, these pieces have all been found by Spider-Man’s many enemies, and so, Spider-Man must face off against them to get the pieces back. 

I had a few problems with the game, but not enough for it to be a major concern.  The wall crawling (which is a key part of the game) can sometimes be frustrating when turning corners or changing surfaces.  This is especially noticeable in the Noir universe, as if you don’t wall-crawl properly, you will be seen, and more than likely fail the level.  This is in part due to the camera, as once you turn a corner, it re-orients itself, occasionally causing you to turn back, around the corner you just turned.  There were also a few glitches in the game, such as when Ultimate Spider-Man would fall off the edge, instead of progressing to the in-game scene in which you save yourself, he would simply hover.  Unsurprisingly, this is not the first Spider-Man game in which this has happened to me. 

Overall, I found the game to be a very enjoyable, fun-filled romp through the many different Spider-Man dimensions.  As a non-comic, reader, I did not feel alienated from the game in the slightest, as it fully explained everything about the universes that I needed to know.  Plus, there’s always Wikipedia.  I would whole-heartedly recommend this game to any fan of Spider-Man, or of action games in general. 

Demon’s Souls Review

Goddamn it, this game is hard.  Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here’s a quick review of one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever played*

This hellish game is the work of Japanese game developers From Software (who made the fabulous game Enchanted Arms).  If you’ve read any other reviews about this game, you will have no doubt heard the difficulty level that this game exposes most gamers to.

In a world where gamers have been pampered with tantalizing “Easy” difficulty settings, Demon’s Souls is, without a doubt, a sharp slap to the face of any gamer looking for an easy ride.  This is the only game I have ever played in which you are expected..nay, forced to die against the first boss.  In fact, the only way to successfully complete the game (indeed, even the first level)is to make strategic use of death.  Yes, the game requires you to die countless times in order to progress.  To get past traps and to get to the first actually defeat-able boss, you have to die.  This introduces a whole new from of strategy to the game, and is an interesting change from the usual “Go forth, and don;t die” stratagem that is part of almost every other game these days.

The gameplay itself is quite decent, with an easy control system.  The only concern I have (and it’s quite a small one) is that combat is primarily confined to the L and R shoulder buttons.  This is quite a change from all other combat based games that I have played, and can be an annoyance at times, especially due to the fact that the square button (normally attacking in other games) uses items, and in the heat of battle, you can occasionally use a valuable item whilst attempting to attack.

The game has provided me with several hours of trial and error annoyances, where I repeatedly got stuck at the same area, due to either an annoying enemy placement, or sometimes (albeit rarely) an annoying piece of camera work.  This game can theoretically last you for a looooong time, and will doubtlessly provide hours of nail biting and swear-filled entertainment.

*and I’ve played Hell Tetris.

Not Quite Retro Review: Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life

One of my favorite games is Natsume and  Marvelous Entertainment’s 2004 game, Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. And I don’t really know why.  The principle sounds like the most boring thing ever, yet it is insanely addictive and enjoyable.

I don’t know why I actually got this game, as the premise of it seemed utterly boring. You play as a man (fan-named Jack) who moves to a small country town (Forget-Me-NotValley) after your father passes away, leaving his farm in your care. Your father’s friend, Takakura, introduces you to life on the farm during your first day, and shows you around the valley, introducing you to the locals, and, more importantly, your potential brides. Takakura finishes your introduction by getting you started on your journey by leaving you with a cow.

Celia, One of your potential brides.

When you wake up on your second morning in the valley, you are essentially alone. You have a dog which you found the day before, a cow that will only give you milk for 40 days, and an old man living on your property. Te primary “goal” of the game is to: a) Turn the farm into a profitable business, and b) Find yourself a wife and have a family.

The only way to turn the farm into a profitable business, is to plant and harvest crops, and buy animals. There is a moderate selection of different animal species to choose from, with your character being able to purchase cows (for milk), bulls (for mating with cows to produce more milk and more cows), sheep (to shear for wool), chickens (for eggs and breeding) and ducks (also eggs and breeding). Within these species, there is some variation in what you can buy, with higher graded animals producing a higher grade product, which will yield a higher profit (eg. Marble cow’s milk sells for more than Brown cow’s milk). Throughout the course of the game, special animals become available, mainly a horse (which serves no other means beside transport, but is perhaps the most useful animal in the game) and a goat. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES BUY THE GOAT. It stops producing milk after 40 days (1 year) and you are unable to get it pregnant to produce more milk, therefore, after 1 year, it just takes up space in your barn, and the only way to get rid of it is to kill it. Yes, you can kill animals in a game like this, although it is by no means encouraged.

Not really worth the effort.

The crops system works slightly different to other Harvest Moon games (eg. Friends of Mineral Town and Magical Melody), in that instead of planting crops in a 3×3 square, you plant them one at a time. This may cause some confusion for veterans of the series, but as this was my first Harvest Moon game, this caused me confusion transferring to other games in the series.  Plants will be your secondary source of income, as they require a lot more work than animals with less payoff.

The presentation of the game is wonderful, and takes full advantage of the technology contained within the Gamecube. The graphics look lovely, with lots of bright, pastel collies crying out at you from the surrounding countryside.  Despite only having a small-ish area to roam around in, the game changes from year to year (every 40 game days), with the local merchant having a greater variety of products available the further into the game you are, and the local ruins expanding at the beginning of every chapter

The characters are wonderfully designed, and, despite some translation issues, are quite enjoyable to converse with, and I often found myself taking some time off while my crops grew and my animals ate to go and chat to the people around the village.  There are a few “side quests” to go about, mainly playing a mini game or two, or collecting recipes.  This nets you the favour of the people, and, in return, they occasionally bring you gifts, most of which are  merely just for exhibition, but are sometimes (if you befriend the right person) incredibly useful, and almost impossible to obtain any other way.

Despite the seemingly boring nature of this game (taking care of your livestock and plants) and the repetitive nature of the game, it is actually a very enjoyable time.  I found myself spending a lot of time playing this game when I was younger (4 or 5 years ago) and every now and then I pop it back into the Gamecube (the only reason I still have the thing) and play through a season or two.  I highly recommend this for anyone who likes simulation games, and anyone who ever found themselves addicted to Farmville (which, surprisingly, I can’t tolerate)  This is by far my favourite entry in the Harvest Moon series.

God Of War: Series Review

When deciding on my next review to write, I had to consider multiple options – do I review a style of gameplay, a single game, a series? Do I review a retro game, a game that makes me nostalgia all over the walls or a new game with newfangled graphics and about as much heart as a brick?

Eventually I decided to settle for a series of games that is often regarded as having the best action games of all time. Gratuitous violence, boobs, violence, gods, more violence and more boobs are all rife in this series – the God of War series.

For anyone that isn’t up to date with the state of God of War, the first game was released in 2005. Some said it revolutionised the Playstation 2 gaming community – sadly enough I wasn’t playing it back at release.

God of War made a statement on it’s release, a big statement. You know that a game doesn’t care about social convention when in the very first level you brutally murder a famous beast of the sea by impaling it’s head on the mast of a ship, watch children cut down right in front of you and most importantly, there’s a sex minigame.

Yes, a sex minigame.

It quickly becomes evident upon playing God of War in 2011, that the game is past it’s prime. The controls are a bit imperfect, the fighting is trying hard to be smooth but not quite at it’s peak and the graphics are… in today’s standards they are appalling. However, God of War exceeds expectations even today in just one single area that most games still manage to forget – it’s criminally fun. The boss fights are – whilst still fights, they’re more of an interactive movie than anything, with pleasing masochism all throughout every fight. There’s something extremely enjoyable about ripping a hell beast limb from limb, about breaking a sirens back. It’s just plain, easy fun. That is if you play on easy however. One of the things this game does well is that easy is just easy enough that you can virtually button mash through the entire game, however, up your difficult to normal, titan or heaven forbid, even GOD, and you’ll find yourself in a game that takes itself a lot more seriously, where it’s vital to pull off insane slashing combinations, counters and dodges just to kill the first monster in a series of 30.

Speaking Of Epic.

The puzzles in this game are refreshing – they’re a stop from the blood and gore that can be somewhat tiresome in large doses. And they’re refreshing in 2011 terms in that they are absolutely brilliant. Never do you leave a puzzle room and think “that wasn’t very well thought out.” – They’re always amazingly clever. It really begins to dawn on you near the end of the game that throughout it, you aren’t just solving a whole bunch of little puzzles simply to progress, but the whole game is a massive puzzle with each room a different mechanism in a grander puzzle.

God of War’s incredible soundtrack is augmented with an iconic riff known throughout the gaming world. This soundtrack adds to the intensity and experience of playing the game and really assists in indicating the absolute odds that are stacked up against you.

The storyline and characters of this game are somewhat lacking. Granted, it has a great story, but the story really takes a backseat. I’m never one to skip cutscenes; however they scarcely entertained me in this game simply because I wanted to kill more of Hades minions. It’s worth noting, also, that this game is based on Greek mythology and uses this prewritten mythology extraordinarily well. Connecting some key ideas together in ways that make so much sense you wouldn’t believe it! The characters are merely there as a medium of the story. You do not feel anything for Kratos (your main character) in this game, given that he is a self-indulgent, arrogant douchebag that killed his own family. Every other character is irrelevant as only really Kratos and the final boss appear more than once.

Shadow of The Colossus?

In 2007 a sequel to God of War was released, and this new game quickly attracted much attention. Most expected it to fail abhorrently, based on the fact that most sequels cannot stay true to those classic nuances about the first game. Is this true for God of War? No it isn’t. God of War II is almost identical to God of War!

The controls are somewhat improved, but still pretty mediocre, oftentimes I found myself falling to my death or failing a quick time sequence merely because the controls left something to be desired.

However everything else is drastically improved, drawing on the increased technology being brought out of the Playstation 2’s engine. The action is smooth and amazingly, even more fun. A return of the monsters from the first game, combined with new monsters – shows us that even after killing 100 Minotaurs, there’s still something sickly sweet about watching the blood spill from one’s throat as you force both of Athena’s Blades down there.

The boss scenes in this game (and I’ll continue to use the word scenes, as they are truly still an interactive movie) are even more badass, even more acrobatic and amazingly, even more violent. This game forces you to kill some people that – when knowing that God of War III is out and God of War IV is scheduled for release – you know that shit is about to go down. More mythological beasts emerge from the dark in ways that leave the player shivering with fright and Kratos laughing with joy. Kratos is greatly improved as a character also, with a bit more relatability and a hell of a lot more reason to give him a chance as a guy worth following. For those who don’t know, the game follows Kratos’ fall from grace as a god and attempt to claw his way back to the moment he was killed, his attempt to claw his way back to the temple of fates to change his fate.

God of War II’s soundtrack is again improved on the soundtrack of the first, with higher sound quality, better orchestrations and more intensity. While in the last it effectively outlined the odds Kratos is up against, in God of War II it helps to exhibit the helplessness of Kratos against the gods and the lack of hope in the slightest.

This game is and always will be a classic. It doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t, and most importantly it’s a classic (or rather it has no class) action game that never ceases to amuse with its puzzles, insane action, boobs and violence. Oh, so much violence.

God Tier

2008 came and went. 2009 soon followed with no mention of a God Of War III release. The new Playstation 3 system that had been released in the meantime boasted greatly improved graphics, capabilities and controls, yet still the cries from the God of War lovers seemed unfounded. In 2010 however, the light returned and it was announced that the final game in the trilogy was to come in epic scale. And come it did.

Right from the very start of God of War III, you are thrown right back into the action. And I’m not meaning the opening level; I’m meaning the opening credits! A silhouetted depiction of Kratos’ journey leading you straight back into the chaos of the battle between Titans and Gods. The graphics are stunning, the controls are exemplary, your blades easily carving their way through enemies with more grace than ever before, and when you reach the first boss, you can’t help but let yourself die a few times, just to enjoy the insane graphics and violence.

As the game progresses you begin to get an understanding of just how improved the Playstation 3 system is to the Playstation 2 system. The bosses are phenomenally awesome, with crazy sequences resulting in deaths in epic proportions. I won’t spoil anything, but the sheer scale of those bosses that you fight makes these fights more intense and more desperate. This is compounded by a greatly improved combat system and eventually, a multitude of new weapons and skills to play with. Those weapons are – excuse my greek – fucking awesome. They all have their own skillsets and they all have amazing feel to using them, you never get bored of any of them.

Near the start of the game you hear a haunting melody float through the air of Hades, and I’ll be honest, I stopped my playing and sat listening for nigh on 10 minutes to this 15 second melody. It’s augmented relatively quickly with a note stating “When the voice sings of anguish and pain, I can cope with it. I’ve dealt with plenty of anguish, plenty of pain. However when the voice sings of hope, that is when I feel depressed and helpless.”

About a quarter of the way through the game is where you see the first new thing – a slight glimpse that quickly turns into a shining bright light by the middle. The emergence of a story! If you are eager to look you can see little nuances hidden throughout the game, however when it really becomes obvious is when for the first time, Kratos changes his goal. Kratos shows so much evolution as a character in this game, and it’s not just him. God of War III boasts many more great characters then the first two and ALL of them have individual stories that tie in to the main story.

While the story takes a frontseat for the first time, all throughout the game are scattered those small puzzles that are so integral to a God of War game, and might I say, they haven’t lost their spark. The puzzles are still showing up those of other games, are still important and some of them are still important to the story. As ever I was astounded at the fact that each individual puzzle unlocks just one more mechanism in the big puzzle that is God of War III.

And then comes the end.

I came up with many ways of explaining the end of this game in my head, none of which could quite explain it appropriately. The closest I came to it involved “Total mindfuck” “equivalent to cancer of the brain” and “WTF².”

My lord. I can not even begin considering how to start even the first part of possibly slightly understanding the very beginning of the end of this game. Nor how they can make a sequel, but hey, I’m excited.

Kratos’ journey is a long one, And while sometimes it leaves something to be desired in God of War 1 and 2, by the end of God of War 3 the first 2 games are just that more important, as with the addition of the story you now understand more clearly the arduous journey he has undertaken. The evolution of the games is phenomenal whilst still including elements that can be called “God of War-esque.”

The soundtrack is ever epic, incorporating both one of the most intense and fiery themes I’ve ever heard, one of the most haunting and atmospheric melodies I’ve ever heard, and brilliant use of dramatic interludes to increase the absolute tension that rides through all three games. It’s interesting how the developers managed to not only keep you entertained through such an arduous and arguably repetitive journey, but they managed to make you crave more with the intricate puzzles, exhilarating gameplay and tendency towards the violent. Of course the ample opportunity to see bare boob played a part in that also.

This series is renowned for revolutionising action gaming and even gaming itself, and after playing it, it’s definitely not hard to see why. I eagerly await the fourth instalment and will certainly play it through to completion very quickly, Because I like killing things. And I like boobs.

OMG.

Medal of Honour – Single Player Review.

Samuel:  This review has been sitting unfinished in the “Drafts” box for the better part of a year now, and I felt that with recent global changes it was time to finish it off and publish it.  I hope you enjoy it.

In the 2010 reboot of the classic shooter series Medal of Honor, developer Danger Close has attempted to emulate the career of a elite special operations unit situated in Afghanistan, roughly a year after the 9/11 attacks.

In the single-player game mode, you play as either one of 3 units – Rabbit, Deuce or Spc.Dante Adams – on a mission to kill anything that either:
A) Wears a turban or
B) Moves.

There are 2 different styles of gameplay, and these are determined by the character you are playing. When playing as either of the special operatives (Rabbit or Deuce) the missions primarily revolve around stealth or sniping. These moments are interspersed with mammoth firefights when your cover is invariably blown, providing a sense of relief from all the skulking around.
When you play as Spc.Adams however, you are armed with a SAW LMG to allow you to mow down enemy forces with ease, ensuring you’re finger is barely ever off the trigger button, slowing only to identify friend from foe. One of the most eventful and memorable moments in the game is definitely when you (as Adams) fight off wave after wave of Taliban, with no end in sight. As your fire team eventually runs dry on ammunition, and with you only having a few rounds left, the end seems nigh. Suddenly, as all hope is lost, a pair of Apache attack choppers appear, providing enough cover for you and your team to escape to cover and eventually be rescued by your allies.
The single player campaign, while short is incredibly immersive with the three player characters and most of the NPC’s and assisting characters being fully fleshed out, with great voice acting, but is cripplingly short, clocking in at slightly under 5 hours on normal difficulty.  This creates a sense of rushed-ness in the campaign, as all the story-lines come together a little bit too suddenly for my liking.  Borrowing heavily from it’s competitor, Call Of Duty, the three story-lines all merge at a focal point of the campaign, bringing together all your hard work and accomplishments into one tight little firefight against waves of opposing Taliban forces, and a brief chase scene.

Upon completing the game, I truly felt a sense of enjoyment and accomplishment, as I believed that the storyline had a great deal of weight behind it, and is one of the most topical, and thought-evoking story-lines I have witnessed in recent years.  I truly enjoyed this game, and although it may not have received stellar reviews from other sources, this would have to be one of my favorite FPS’ from 2010.

LittleBig Planet Review

Samuel: Today we welcome a new member to the team here at The Fallout Zone, Elenvy. He is a friend of mine and I hope he decides to stay with us and keep reviewing!

When I first picked up LittleBigPlanet, I had second thoughts about buying it. I’d heard so much about how it’s a great game and really well made, how it was a turning point in gaming. When I read the back cover, I saw a childish looking game, it looked boring. I decided not to buy it.
The next day, I again found myself in the same shop, looking at the same cover. I was entranced, I HAD to try it, even if I expected a disappointing experience. I suggested to my little sister to buy it, as it looked like her kind of game. When we got home and pushed the little disc into my PS3, I wasn’t expectant.

Late that night, as I pushed to finally beat that last annoying part of “The Bunker” my opinion was much different. The game was fun. It wasn’t a game in any sense of the word. Games as a rule are made to challenge you, to make things hard and require skill and quick thinking to finish. LittleBigPlanet was none of that.

The controls are simple, blindingly simple. So simple in fact, only 4 (6) buttons are required. For such a limited control scope, this game is able to do so much. The level design is genius, often using the same piece of equipment (for instance, a house) for 3 or 4 different uses. One side acts as a wall, another a climbing frame and so on and so forth.

The storyline, however, is relatively short and frustratingly easy. Only a few of the levels provide any challenge, and this is still no big problem. After beating the main story, I plugged in the dusty old Ethernet cable and found my way online.

At first sight, online is just what it should be, players playing together on custom levels and such. But then, after finishing a level with three others, I realised something. As we were all transported back to the party leaders pod, we were interacting. Something unique to this game, this interaction. You can spend an hour straight just pulling another player around the room and adjusting facial expression, and enjoy it the whole time. This is where it hit me, LittleBigPlanet is all about the players, the community. The game aspect could be completely forgotten as you spend 20 minutes just shuffling through the 4 different smiles.

“But doesn’t that get repetitive” I hear you say. Well no, for you see, not one Sackboy or girl is the same. LittleBigPlanet has MASSIVE character customisation, unlockable outfits and such. There are at least 1000 Unlockables in the Story mode alone, let alone all the downloadable packs and community items. Today am I going to feature a lion’s mane, wedding dress and fairy wings, or maybe a top hat with a full Elizabethan outfit. It’s all up to you!

The level creation system is good. Sure it has it’s downfalls – those which I won’t explain here, but again with the customisation – you collect thousands of different materials, objects and other little bobbits to make your level the best experience you can, all the while assisted by a very funny commentator that explains things well!

Whilst the main storyline is easy, there are many things you can do to make it harder, make it more complete. For instance, 100% completion takes planning, care and interestingly – 4 players! You see, LittleBigPlanet is one of those multiplayer games. You can just sit around and have fun, laughing and jumping around through the levels. There are many challenges to do that result in trophies – not the least of which is to beat every level in the game without dying – literally a perfect game. This, I fear, is very difficult, taking many hours of dedication to achieve, but still satisfying, because you obtain ingame rewards as well.

The downloadable content is good too, oftentimes better than the actual game. The Metal Gear Solid pack is thoroughly entertaining, and also challenging, it also provides you with a gun. Win!

So altogether, my conclusion is that LittleBigPlanet is not quite the game it could be, but I wouldn’t want the community to be ANY different. In life, it’s the little things that count, however in LittleBigPlanet, there’s a lot of little things.

Overall: 8/10

(Note. This review was written a long time ago now. Don’t go onto the LittleBigPlanet community and expect the same experience anymore )

Bulletstorm Review

-This review is based on a Mature rated game.

 Bulletstorm is the latest release from developers EPIC Games and People Can Fly, so it has its roots in some pretty intense places, EPIC being the creators of the Gears Of War franchise.

What sets Bulletstorm apart from its spiritual predecessoris its unique style of humour.  Playing as a perpetually drunken space pirate, there is plenty of colourful language thrown around, some of the most memorable of which is tossed around in the last few hours of gameplay by one of the most entertaining characters I have seen in a while.

The skillshot system that was featured in the demo is greatly fleshed out, with it being very difficult to get all the skillshots in one play through, some requiring prior knowledge in order to obtain them. They also somehow manage to come up with a reason for your main character seeing them, although I don’t think they needed to do this.

The characters are all particularly great, with each of them having their own distinct personality. Marcus Fen–I mean Grayson Hunt is the disgruntled space pirate out for revenge against the general who used him.  His is the main star of the game so, naturally, you find yourself getting to like him.  Ishi is Grayson’s second in charge.  He used to be a human but when Grayson crashed the ship into Stygia, he suffered dramatic injuries and had to be turned into a human cyborg.  His main motivation is to get off the planet and get to freedom.  Trishka is the token woman in this army game, being the badass out for revenge girl.  She also plays the damsel in distress, but often shows herself to be the one holding the others in distress.  General Sarano is the final character to get screen time, and his lines are by far the most memorable.  He used Grayson and his men to carry out assassinations on high level targets who threatened to remove him from his position.

The presentation of the game is fairly good.  The developers have created a stunning planet on which to set the game, embracing both the untamed wilderness and the industrialised vacation resort which takes up most of the game.  The set pieces are incredible (again, akin to Gears of War) with huge events happening to due one small thing (ie, shooting an egg causes the entire city to come crumbling down later in the game.)  The graphics are pretty top-notch, giving the game a great overall look.

The only real problems I had with this game are that I sometimes found myself  ‘out-running’ the A.I, thereby causing the game to glitch out, and not letting me continue, which would often mean I would have to restart a chapter, as i reached a checkpoint before realising that Ishi and Trishka were nowhere to be found.

Bulletstorm is a…different kind of game.  It’s pretty much a first person Gears of War, so if you didn’t like that, then chances are you won’t like Bulletstorm.  While being a very good game, I felt at times that the storyline was just tacked on, and that they just needed to justify the amazing setting they used.

Bulletstorm Demo Review, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Shooting Guys In The Crotch

I recently downloaded the Bulletstorm demo for the Xbox 360, having pre-ordered it the other day from EB Games (and getting an awesome water gun in the process)

When the demo starts up you get verbally assaulted by the main character, Grayson Hunt (voiced marvelously by Steve Blum) about how you don’t stand a chance on Stygia but, hey, make the most of it. This then continues into a small story introduction and montage of available weapons, abilities, etc, etc. The real draw of the little clip show is defiantly there for people trying to get high scores, as it shows a numerous amount of Skillshots (The games main drawing point) including some that you would never think of trying.

The main draw of Bulletstorm is the introduction of a new ‘interesting’ way of killing, the Skillshot. The Skillshot involves combining a weapons special powers (or your foot) with the enemy (generally his face). For example, by launching an enemy up into the air and then shooting the pistol’s special shot (a flare) at them, you can cause them to catch fire, and if you’re a good shot, explode like a firework, raining fiery death down onto his comrades, and netting yourself a few hundred points in the process.

I can’t (at this point) see the story being as engrossing as, say, Mass Effect’s, but there could be some interesting and enthralling twists coming.

The graphics are not amazingly, eye-poppingly brilliant , but they’re not atrocious either. They actually remind me slightly of Borderlands cel-shading (albeit I haven’t played that in a while)

Stay tuned for the full reiew when the game relases later in February.

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