Thursday, 10 November 2016

Aliens: Colonial Marines/ Xbox 360



In space nobody can hear you scream; however your neighbours most probably can and will the first time that you settle down to play this game.
It isn't a game that is very well liked by the masses, but I am not the masses and do not share some of the opinions that this is one of the worst games ever made. In fact I have quite the opposite of opinions and feel that this is a must play for non Alien and Alien fans alike. I can understand when delving into the history of the making of the game as to why it was panned on arrival. It is a game that was planned many years before and then constantly given new release dates up until its final release date, which was very late in the life cycle of the seventh generation of videogame consoles; 2013!

 This of course was a time that the new generation of consoles was on the horizon, so you could be forgiven for having a lack of appreciation for new releases with one eye on the future of gaming.
As I explore the gameplay, I will talk more about my personal and repeat journey with a game that will terrify you relentlessly if you are willing to look past the reviews.


The Plot

Set somewhere after the events of Alien 3 and considered to be an official part of the Alien franchise canon, some shit has gone down with Corporal Hicks (Aliens) who makes a distress call after being ejected along with Ripley (not in the game), Newt and Bishop from his cryotube whilst on board the Sulaco. Along comes a rescue team of marines (on board the USS Sephora), who include the main character that you control in game, Corporal Winter. Whilst carrying out an investigation, some more shit goes down as it is discovered that Weyland-Yutani private military have been using Sephora marines as hosts to the big ass aliens that have a knack for causing havoc wherever they show up (ask the Predators about this). The military attacks the Sephora from on board the Sulaco and in retaliation the Sephora fires back, meaning both ships end up going boom bye bye. Winter and a handful of marines evacuate, crash landing on the hell hole that is LV-426, of Aliens fame. From here the story centres first around finding help for marine Private Bella Clarison, who is impregnated with one of those little fuckers that likes to find its way out through a hole in the chest; then after she dies around finding Hicks and later Michael Wayland. Oh! there is an alien queen in this one also.


Gameplay (FPS/Alien Horror)

In short this is your typical first person shooter type of game, with such common elements as collecting weapons, dog tags, audio logs, etc, etc, as you make your way through the missions; however unlike a lot of today's games there aren't any side missions, you play directly through the storyline in a seek and destroy type of way, making a stand at the end of each mission against an onslaught of aliens or military men right up until the final showdown with the alien queen at the end, which unfortunately is a bit of a let down. As has been the case with a few of the fps games that I have completed recently, the ending comes a little too quick and easily after what has been many hours of playing getting to it. This hasn't stopped me from wanting to go back through the game and as of this writing I am currently into my third run and have downloaded the DLC. Why you may ask with such a bland description would I want to go back through once let alone twice? Well for a fan of the Alien movies I can honestly say that although lacking in anything special, at times this game, Colonial Marines, does feel like a genuine Alien chapter which isn't just littered with references to the movies, it actually has familiar places and faces from what I consider to be the best Alien movie, Aliens. Ok so the voice acting isn't the best (especially from Michael Biehn), with some conversations feeling like the person you are talking to is rudely butting in before you can finish your sentence and the look of the game overall is of one that looks in places like a highly polished Unreal project and in others like a game that was either rushed into fruition or just not given the full Unreal treatment. Perhaps this is because of the alleged lack of respect from developers Gearbox, whom Sega reported had taken away staff from the project to work on Borderlands or because of the accusation that Gearbox had in fact had to use millions of their own money because of Sega's underfunding to finish the project. Whatever the case may be, both developer and publisher should have more of an understanding of how petty behaviour can lead to costly losses of public respect and respective sales of future releases. Nuff said. You can overlook these minor defects and see that the game in its entirety is a credible attempt to make a game of a movie that has such a massive audience of fans globally. Right from the get go you are thrust into the action and from then on out there is little time to catch a breather as cut scenes are generally short and each mission can take up to an hour to complete; with 11 of them in total giving you a sizable campaign with the option of DLC, that will further explain what happened to Corporal Hicks.


For an mod of this game with a huge bundle of updates to graphics and gameplay follow the link. 
http://www.moddb.com/company/templar-gfx-modding

The game just about manages to hold onto the claustrophobic atmosphere of the earlier Alien films. You will genuinely feel the hair stand up on the back of your neck every time the tracker beeps to signify that an enemy is nearby. The human AI put up an intelligent fight, moving in groups and not just sticking to one place; as for the alien AI, they move fast, often in packs, coming in different sizes, sometimes spitting or exploding. You will need to move quickly and fire with precision to avoid having that dreaded inner mouth firing out to puncture a hole in your head. The humans you can deal with like you are playing most fps games, but the aliens are more of a challenge, often getting the better of you causing a checkpoint restart. Checkpoints in game are fairly close together. You can switch off a game and return to the checkpoint that you last saved at, meaning that you don't have to sit and go through a mission beginning to end worrying that if you do not you will have to go back to the start of a mission should you need to take some responsibility for your life; like going to work. There are a fairly large arsenal of fairly large guns to blast away with, with a nice little touch of being able to find legendary weapons from the Aliens movies most familiar characters; weapons that are hidden in some of the mission environments, that can be viewed on each missions check list of extras to find. The six legendary weapons that can be found are as follows:

  • Hick's shotgun
  • Gorman's pistol
  • Hudson's pulse rifle
  • Vasquez's smart gun
  • Vasquez's pistol
  • Frost's flamethrower
Each of the legendary weapons has its own unique abilities, cannot be customised, and with the exception of two can be used in multiplayer mode. For me it was a nice reminder of when the weapons were used in the Aliens movie; for example when Hick's shot the back of the head out of an alien that was attempting to pull open the doors of the APC he was escaping into, releasing a splash of its acid onto his chest plate that quickly starts to burn through it. You have four weapon slots that can be used for two main guns, a sidearm and an explosive which can all be accessed fairly quickly through the d-pad and not as quickly rearranged through the back button. Most of the big weapons can be upgraded with attachments to give more firepower and accuracy and bullets are found scattered or dropped by enemies frequently. Combat admittedly does get a little frustrating at times, but mainly because the aliens are moving and leaping quickly.... So what else would you expect? The sound and music are straight out of the Aliens movie. If you have watched the film then you will appreciate the heart pounding music, sounding like pipes clanging, that kicks in when the shit hits the fan and the distinct firing of the pulse rifle as you attempt to hold onto your own shit. Both create a sense of intensity that will increase your urgency to move quickly whilst cautiously checking around every corner. To sum up, Colonial Marines is Alien horror at its best in a game format. And to finish up, you also get to strap up inside a power loader for some more Aliens like movie magic.

Colonial Marines at times does look a little rough around the edges and will suit fans of the films better than non fans. I had a blast of nostalgia throughout my first play and for this reason I give it a score of 7 out of 10.


Twitter: @illuminatitingz
Youtube: Yogi Gamer
     
     
  


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Terminator 2 Judgement Day/ Sega Mega Drive/ Super Nintendo/ PSP Emulator


'I'll be back!' Or as it is in my case, I am back with another review/blog post. This time around I have chosen to go way back and discuss what is for me one of the best movies made into a game of all time....Stay with me on this one and I will explain why I feel this way.

First off I love Terminator 2 and as a youngster I was a massive fan of Arnie and just about every movie that he starred in; with the exception of the one where he gets pregnant...you know the one I mean right? Junior. Talk about ruining a man's image. The first instalment of the Terminator franchise was a huge success, which had me clenching my nether regions, too afraid to go to the toilet, as I first watched the T-800, rise from the ashes in all its shiny glory (as if Arnie as a Terminator wasn't scary enough). Then came the second instalment, Judgement Day, staring the unknown at the time Edward Furlong, who became a bit of a daydream character of mine, after I watched him being relentlessly pursued, by the seemingly indestructible T-1000, meaning, that in playground reenactments, I would take on his persona, believing that judgement day was indeed on its way and that I was the last hope for the human race. 
So deeply touched by this fantastic film, which is still one of my all time favourites today, it was perhaps inevitable that I would have similar feelings about the game. 

Originally I borrowed a copy of the game from a friend at school who happened to be a girl (way before girl gamer's became a thing) and played it on the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) religiously until she started to ask for it back. As much as I tried to, I could not finish the game (as I had managed with the GameBoy version) in the relatively short period of time that I was allowed to borrow it (damn you Amy), so therefor, it disappeared into the back catalogue of games, that I stored in my memory to be replayed at the soonest next opportunity. Little did I know at the time that it would be a fast forward of my own time line and a massive jump in technology, before I would re-engage, with a game that I had never given up hope of playing again. Funnily enough, at the time of buying my PSP, (recently) with a massive library of emulators, I also found a copy of the GameBoy version of T2 in a charity shop. I will write a separate review for this game, as it is almost on par with the Mega Drive version.

So what makes this a game that is so special and still highly playable today? Well let's get into the game itself.

Plot

I will keep this short for all those who already know the plot of the film, as the game follows it closely. For the most part you are the T-800, modelled on Arnie's film character, tasked with the protection of both John and Sarah Connor, who are being hunted down by the liquid metal, shape shifting, T-1000. That's it, simple. 

Game-play (Side Scrolling Action Adventure)


The game switches between side scrolling levels based on scenes from the film and driving levels where you must avoid your pursuers and get to the next level. The game itself is difficult to play, as was the typical fashion of the 16-bit generation of video games. Back in the days, before having save spots, you had limited lives and continues to rely on helping you to get to the end of the game, so it was often the case that with a game such as this, the replay value was based on having to master the flow of every level, until you could set up for a relentless race to the finish, pretty much in the fashion that enemies and the reappearing T-1000 come at you throughout this game. Persistent springs to mind, with patience paying off as you take a deep breath at the end of each level. Surprisingly it is the driving that is most difficult of all; it was on one such level that I couldn't progress in time to have a chance of finishing the game before Amy came knocking. Each level gets progressively harder, especially when it comes to having to protect John and then his mother Sarah at the same time. If either should die then it is game over and Skynet has succeeded, in eliminating the human threat to its plans of a world ruled by technology. As you control your T-800, enemies come at you from both sides of the screen with a variety of weapons. Your Terminator begins by only being able to duck, jump, punch and knee, but quickly acquires his own arsenal of weapons that makes level progression a little more balanced, but still rather challenging. From the third level onward, the T-1000, will also join the mix of bad guys attempting to stop you, with its shape shifting, stabbing arms. The T-1000 isn't difficult for the early part to deal with, but it will reappear as often as it disappears after you have pumped some slugs into it. You are tasked with objectives to complete before being able to progress to the next level, with the environments being destructible and often with a level of interaction that allows for finding hidden items. It's all pretty basic stuff; like opening doors and shooting things that explode; typical hunter, stalker, seek and find game play common in a lot of Sega Mega Drive games. Overall the game both delights and frustrates at the same time, leaving you with that grit determination, of not being beaten by something, you know you can do if you should just have one more attempt. Thankfully, today via the PSP, you are able to save at any point, making this an even more plug and play experience than the original release. The music of the game is your typical 16-bit pumping techno style, with little reference to the the film soundtrack. The in game sounds and effects are what you would also expect from this generation...comical at times, but it was much loved in the 90's. In terms of how the game looks, to be honest, I still like it. I thought it was nothing short of film like quality back in the day, but I did have an incredibly active imagination and I could of been playing it in 8-bit, in black and white and still felt the same. Going back today I would say that it is what it is and you cannot expect it to be anything more. The technology of the time had its limitations, but that didn't stop the games from being fantastic and highly playable. Just check out how big retro gaming is today and it is clear to see that this is the case still.



So, unable to complete this game back in the 90's, my Terminator adventure has begun once more. Admittedly I don't have the same drive that I did as a teenager to sit and go at this until the end in one sitting, but that doesn't mean that I am not having heaps of nostalgic fun when I do pick it up. At the end of each stage, in typical Arnie fashion, it is case of 'I'll be back!' And I would encourage anyone who has missed this game to do the same; go back and pick it up.


 It's a little dated today but still worth a play, especially if you didn't back in the day, ha! Terminator 2 scores a 10 out of 10 minus 2 because of it's age and plus 2 because of it's impact on me as a child. 
Twitter: @illuminatitingz

  


Friday, 1 July 2016

Rage/ Xbox 360


Ironically the title of this game is how I felt after completing 19+ hours of play. Having been full of praise in my mind for a game that plays and looks fantastic, the ending left me with my mouth open, then shouting at the TV is this fucking it? After all that, this is it? 

When I first took a look at this game I was hyped to say the least, given that it is developed and published by two giants in the open world of gaming and fps type games. Bethesda and id Software deliver at first glance and suck you right in with some beautiful scenery and explosive game-play set over the backdrop of post-apocalyptic survival (which I love as much as I love survival horror) and then lead you right up a path of brutally making your way in the world as you try to figure out who you are and where you have come from, only to leave you with no real answers and the now knowing that there probably isn't going to be another Rage game to pick up the pieces left scattered all over the wastelands. I was sorely disappointed in how quickly and how easily the game finished, just as I was starting to think that two discs for the main game meant that I may be playing for at least another few weeks.
But it wasn't to be and now I must write with a completely changed view about a game that could of been all that.

Plot

The plot is pretty straight forward stuff and a little similar to Borderlands and Fallout 4. You awaken in the ruins of an ark (underground stasis shelter) the sole survivor of a project to rebuild humanity after an asteroid almost wipes it off of the face of the earth. The project has buggered itself (as is often the case in such games), so a little confused, you head to the surface. Once up above you are attacked and then rescued by John Goodman of all people or Dan Hagar as he is known in the game. Dan explains that a group of people known as the Authority, are reportedly the authority of the wasteland and are keen on snapping up any ark survivors; so now you have an enemy without asking questions. Shortly after being a willing slave to Dan's demands you are introduced to a group apposing the Authority (The Resistance), who are keen to have any of the remaining ark brought to the surface, in the hope that the Authority can be stopped in exacting their plans before the Resistance have time to exact their own. Oh and by the way you are pumped full of little nanotrites that were put into your blood stream to help you to deal with the assumed harsh conditions of a planet hit by an asteroid. These little fellows will occasionally kick in when the shit hits the fan. 

Gameplay (FPS/Action Adventure with some crazy driving thrown in)

Attention to detail
Putting the plot to one side with its incredibly lazy ending, this game is a very well made game and fantastic to blast your way through. It is a first person shooter with incredible attention to detail (just check out the guns), so I will begin with the look of Rage. The one complaint (lets do this first) that people had of the graphics, something that I noted and to be honest wasn't bothered by was the fact that there is a slight lag at times with the background catching up with your characters sight as he turns to look at something else. Given the sheer size of the game and the high quality of detail, you can either let this slide, as its not always obvious or use it as a reason to rip the game to shreds rather than focus on the fact that it just looks delightful to the eye. When I first played this game, I played it on a straight forward LCD screen, then later on on my new HD TV. When I made the switch, I had one of those wow moments as I stepped off of the loading screen back into the game; which brings us sweetly to the point of loading and saving in game. There are big loading times in between missions and massive gaps between check points, meaning that you often have to pause to save just in case you die whilst in the midst of battle, otherwise you will go all the way back to the start of the mission you are on (a mistake that I learned from quickly). Unnecessary in modern gaming, but again something that could be excused given the sheer size of the game. Sometimes something's have to be sacrificed in order to compensate for others. 'I am doing my best to protect the developers, but it is easy to pick up on such things and lower the overall score of Rage.' 
The game is mission based, with side missions and a relatively open world map. Unlike Fallout though you are given vehicles to travel over great distances, which can also be driven in races to win money and race certificates which can be used to upgrade your quad or car with such things as armour and rockets. Driving is a blast (literally), with superb handling mechanics, even when the turbos kick in (there will be ample opportunity to test them out). Your character is as easy to manoeuvre around, with the control system being relatively fiddle free as you kick ass... or should I say shoot ass with big ass guns whilst glimpsing at some big ass titties from time to time...oh yes! Those are in high detail too. Not that I was overly focused on them. There are far too many enemies flying, jumping, running at you, and the AI are an intelligent lot who will keep you on your toes whilst you run and gun or throw grenades at them. There is a good selection of weapons to be picked up, with customised bullets to be found or made from schematics that you can also pick up. For me having this choice in bullets makes the game highly more fun to play, as you make the choice to take out enemies in a number of ways that can range from bullets inside of bullets, inside of bullets, to electro-bolts and bolts that explode after making contact. This is the mere tip of the iceberg in terms of the weapons and bullets available to you. The game at times becomes a bit of a gore fest, as you figure out creative ways to blast mutants and humans to pieces. Many times though I would opt for a cleaner kill as corpses in pieces do not leave behind items that you can steal from their cold dead hand. Mutants will just dissolve, so blast away. There are also many types of supplies that can be crafted into health items and power ups, plus bombs and artillery.
In between missions you can wander around settlements re-supplying or taking part in some of the games that settlers will play with you for small bets (cards, etc). The characters in settlements are varied and colourful, with John Goodman's voice not the only one providing decent dialogue. The music and sound effects are as good as the graphics. The overall atmosphere is moody with the music getting lively as you go into fights.
The overall difficulty of the game is that it really isn't difficult to get into and a little of a challenge as you progress, with some bad ass boss fights to be had right up until you get to the end and then it is a bit of a premature ejaculation just as you are about to orgasm. So finishing up on that note. I suspect that the detail of the game had something to do with the seemingly rushed ending. After two discs of play, the game could of been stretched onto another, but that would of probably meant a lot more in costs, plus there are actually three discs with the 360 versions, as there is also another for online play; something that I haven't been able to entertain. If this was the reason then I can only congratulate id on their attempt to squeeze something so big onto something so small. Maybe, just maybe they may get together with Bethesda again in the future and have another go at making a game that isn't Doom or Quake... or Fallout for that matter (Read my Fallout 4 review). So a score for Rage.

For the graphics alone it scores a 6 out of 10, coupled with a 4 for game-play and minus 2 for the ending. Rage scores an 8 out of 10. 
If you haven't played it, it is worth a go just because you will get at least 15 hours out of it.
Twitter: @DanLumma
Instagram: yogigamer34

           
 
  

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Shout Out to Classic Survival Horror


For the first time in a long time I have been wowed by a game; bonus being that it is also a survival horror (my favourite genre). Bonus two being that it is also a Capcom development similar I feel to both Resident Evil and Clock Tower; being said that it is the spiritual successor to the Clock Tower series. I like this game so much, that I feel compelled to write about it after having only played it for around two hours and only just gotten to the part where you are about to take on a companion in the form of a dog named Hewie (cute).  

First of all, I am just getting into this game because of two reasons. One, back in 2005 when it was first released, I was lost in the world of Xbox gaming and paying little attention to the PS2, unless it was anything to do with Resident Evil and Pro Evolution. And secondly, now that I am on a mission to catch up with all of the games that I may of missed or not completed due to various reasons, I have been watching a You-tuber by the name of MetalJesusRocks who very kindly points people like myself in the direction of gaming hidden gems of which I agree Haunting Ground is one. I find it highly amusing that Jesus is helping me to see the light in such a dark way. 


So this is kind of a shout out to what I consider to be classic survival horror with a review of the game coming as I get further into it or upon completion.

The late 90's to the mid 2000's is a time period that I consider to be the time of classic survival horror games, those that gave birth to and some may say eventually death to huge franchises such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill; although Resident Evil is still hanging in there like a desperate old king attempting to pop out one more child in the hope that it may be fit for the throne when he's gone.

Resident Evil 
This time period had both of those franchises on the lips of all survival horror enthusiasts, with talk of which is the better and one eye on the future in anticipation of what may come next. Although both Resident Evil and Silent Hill where absolutely massive, there were a ton of others that I managed to play and some as I am now finding out that I missed and that I am now attempting to find and play. It isn't an easy task to collect those missed titles as some are becoming highly sought after with prices going into the hundreds ( Rule of Rose and Kuon); but as is the case with any committed gamer/collector/addict, I will do my best to add as many as I can to my now growing collection of games on many consoles and probably have many a restless night and moments of intervention from worried friends and family.

Alone in the Dark
The first time that I played a survival horror title I believe was when one of my older step brothers bought a Sega Saturn and introduced me to Alone in the Dark, which I later played and completed The New Nightmare on PS1 and failed to complete the newer version on Xbox 360. Although I didn't play it much on my step brothers console I do believe that it impacted on me such that it set the wheels in motion for what has become my biggest gaming love affair and a bit of a broken heart in later years as the survival horror genre has become more of an action horror type infusion, with big guns and lots of ammo replacing the scarcity of items that made the 90's a time that you actually did have to survive horror rather than quickly obliterate everything that comes your way. I am not saying that I do not like this type of gaming, because there are some very good and scary titles out, but more that like an aboriginal lost in the modern world, I long for a return to the good old days when you bit your nails and almost wet your pants because you didn't want to go to the toilet as you had to find out what was around the next corner or get to the next save spot and then the one after because the story was so gripping as it unfolded. Silent Hill kept this type of survival going right up until the last release on the Xbox 360, with Downpour being a difficult game to master, whereas Resident Evil moving on from the PS2 started to become more action oriented. And what has happened to Alone in the Dark? Christian Slater, that's what and why oh why did they make a second Alone in the Dark film? (And why did I watch it)? Talk about killing a franchise off. Of all the games adapted into films, it has perhaps been Resident Evil that has been the most successful, although the Silent Hill films are worth a watch too; stay away from Doom though!  

Anyhoo! Back to the games. After briefly flirting with Alone in the Dark first time around, I had recognised two important factors that are present in a good game in general and definitely in a survival horror game.
1) Puzzle solving; something that I have loved since back in the days of Amiga gaming.
2) Suspense; the ability to build an atmosphere that sucks you in and makes you not want to move from where you are sat.
Survival horror appealed in a way that horror films had not when I was younger.

Silent Hill
After being the sort of child that didn't want to watch anything remotely scary, all of a sudden in my teens I had let my guard down and begun to venture into the world of horror (It took until age 21 to watch Nightmare on Elm Street). Tentatively and perhaps naively I ventured into Silent Hill after playing the much tamer (but jumpy still) Resident Evil. Both games blew my mind as I had never played anything previously that had had so much depth to the story or the amount of dialogue that is present in both; and then there is the graphics. Although looking terrible today, at the time it was state of the art stuff, with Silent Hill having the overall creep factor throughout and Resident Evil notching more points in terms of replay-ability. Both Capcom and Konami followed up with brilliant sequels that took the attention away from other titles being released. Resident Evil 2 is for me the best survival horror period and as of today I am yet to play Silent Hill 2 (the HD collection is waiting to be opened), but I do know of its impact on gamer's. I stuck with Resident Evil mainly because Konami waited for the PS2 before releasing another title and by the time it came I was off into the Xbox world of gaming and a personal hell of my own which saw me steering away from horror momentarily and into rpg's and action adventures. I did play Silent Hill 4 'The Room', which to this day has still got me spooked. That game is seriously fucked up!

The Xbox itself didn't have a large amount of survival horror titles. Missing a Resident Evil it did have Silent Hill releases, but the two games that stood out on the Xbox in terms of horror that I played are Obscure, of which I now have 1 and 2 and a game that is not a survival horror but has a horror/murder theme, Still Life. Obscure is what it says on the tin. Based on a teen slasher type horror movie, it was unique at the time because you could play two player co-op; something that hadn't been done before with survival horror. As the genre evolved developers experimented whilst always seeming to be able to keep the scare factor priority. Games had claustrophobic tendencies with an emphasis on keeping you stuck in one place or running around in circles as you attempted to figure out what to do next; of which a lot of is present in Haunting Ground. There was also the fixed camera angles that built up an atmosphere of panic, as you were unable to see too far ahead, meaning that anything jumping out from behind something was almost guaranteed to make you jump in your seat.  

In my haze of Xbox gaming I was missing the amazing titles that were abundantly being released on the PS2. But then came the Xbox 360 in all its shiny white might. The expectations were high and the disappointments were low, but after a while it was clear that the likes of Capcom were heading away from the fans of their games and that other developers were now wanting to use the power of the next gen consoles to show off the look of a game rather than game-play and plot building; something that is massively obvious with the now gen consoles. One of the first games that I played and completed on Xbox 360, was Monolith developed game Condemned, which stuck to the idea of horror needing to be survived whilst hugely improving on the game-play and developing and incredible story. Then there was Left for Dead which was more like 28 Days Later, a theme that was developing in both games and in films; horror was now moving fast. And because it is now moving fast, there is little time to think and more action needed, so of course there is the need for lots of guns, lots of ammunition, plenty of health items and more of a desperate fight than a game of survival hide and seek; and it seemed people tagging any old horror under the term 'survival horror'.

'I happen to like both, so you could say that both needs are being catered for, but it is my preference to get lost in hours of trying to figure shit out, whilst be scared shitless, which I feel has had to take a back seat whilst game after game has come out where the emphasis is on blasting away the enemies or even worse where the game is just plain boring (Dead Island springs to mind).'

As I look towards my collection of games, I note only one other title that stands out. Dead Space. Silent Hill in Space on fucking steroids! There are of course the open world experiments, such as Dead Rising and the downloadable State of Decay, but to be honest Dead Rising was just frustrating to play and I am yet to get into State of Decay. So for all the years that the 360 was king (in my opinion), there wasn't and could of been a whole new load of games added to compete with what came off of the old gen consoles. Instead there were one or two fantastic titles (Deadly Premonition and Condemned) and the misuse of the term survival horror in many others.

Today we are seeing a trend of remakes and remasters with Capcom surely proving that classical survival horror is king; why else would they plough so much time and expense into remaking their earlier games? So with little else happening and as I work my way back over, exploring what games I missed in my youth or just simply ignored because I was only playing games on one console, I am asking myself this?

  • Is survival horror dead? Capcom and Konami it seems believe so and other developers do not seem to want to fill the opening that is getting wider with Resident Evil being more action based and Silent Hill being....well Silent for now. 
  • Am I getting to old or stuck in the past? Maybe the time has just passed for survival horror and maybe like most trends survival horror will have a revival period similar to clothes fashion.
  • Have developers gotten lost in the power of new gen consoles and overly focused on the look of a game over the game-play? Off topic I was hugely disappointed with Fallout 4 for this reason, but there has been one success in my opinion; lets have more games like Alien: Isolation.
  • Is there a a hole in the market that other developers could plug? Maybe its time for a new giant or two to develop these types of games or better still maybe those who are familiar could go back to the roots and take away the rot, listening to what the fans are currently asking for. There is hope that Resident Evil 7 may breath life back into this genre. 
Whatever the case may be, for the moment I will find solace in the fact that I have many of the classic survival horror games yet to play and many hours of playing and writing about such games to keep me happy. Happy gaming to you all wherever you are and whatever games you choose to play.


 Let me know in the comments if you have an opinion on survival horror and which games are your favourites or which games you consider to be hidden gems.
@Illuminatitingz on Twitter for instant updates. 
P.s. Stop bitching about the Resident Evil 7 teaser, it is going to possibly be the best Resident Evil released in many years. 

'Finally, I have gotten around to playing RE 7 and I can say that, Capcom, have really pulled it back to the good old days of survival horror.'
'Fantastic game, expect a blog about it soon.'

      



Saturday, 7 May 2016

Fallout 4/ PS4


$ 750 million in 24 hours are the statistics for revenue generated from sales of Fallout 4 on the opening day of its release. £15 in the UK is now the average price that you can buy the game for, suggesting that it didn't quite live up to the hype. A large percentage of the world of gamers (including me) were going nuts at the announcement of the pre-order and were quick to put a computer game on par with big budget movie releases in terms of hysteria and sales. I have no doubt that the day will soon come when it is the norm for star movie actors to be making the bulk of their bucks voice acting and lending their likeness to the gaming industry. It is a shame that Bethesda didn't invest in a star or two for this outing. Get ready for mixed feeling's about my 20+ hours of play so far.


I had taken my time in purchasing this game, not because it didn't appeal to me upon its release, but simply because responsible parenting put my pre-order on the back burner as I took care of the needs of my son; especially given that it was so close to Christmas. At a glance I was captivated by how Fallout 4 looks, pretty much in the same way that I was captivated by the look of Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas when diving into both of those games. As I have dived further into Fallout 4, twice I have been up almost to greet the next day sun, on a work day, with many long sessions also and I am yet to feel as though I have begun to get into the storyline. This review will be my scratchings of the surface of a game that appears to be the biggest Fallout adventure yet (and possibly the biggest disappointment).

The further I get into the game, the more it is growing on me. So much so that I am now playing it more than any other game. You could say that Fallout 4 is a wine that is maturing rather than being a vintage. 

The Plot

The game begins with the setting of your character of choice and his/her family playing it all happy. The year is 2077, date October 23 rd, the day that the world decides to go nuclear big time (also the day that you conveniently get accepted for a place in vault 111). 
 After deciding on the sex and appearance of your character, you take a little look around the family home (a futuristic 50's style setting), and then bare witness to the nukes going off which sends panic throughout the surrounding neighbourhood. As you, your partner and tiny baby rush towards the vault at the bottom of the street (very convenient), another bomb goes off close by. As the blast rips through everything in sight, racing towards you, the vault closes just in time for yourself and family, leaving a handful of people helplessly outside to be toast, slightly on the burnt side. Ushered inside the vault, you are told that you will be frozen in time whilst the dust of nuclear fallout settles. Piece of piss! Bombs dropped, your inside a vault about to have a nap until it is safe to go outside again..... Ha! Never is life so simple (especially life in Fallout). You wake inside your cryogenic chamber (after time unknown) as the witness to your baby being snatched from the arms of your partner who is shot dead as this is happening; you black out and wake again to an abandoned vault as the only survivor left inside. You make your way out of the vault and back to the street that you once lived, to be told by your old house robot that over 200 years have passed since you went underground. Pretty impressive way to start a game; pretty depressive for your character. From here on out the rest of what's left of Boston becomes your play area as you meet the survivors and decide on who to befriend whilst searching to see if your baby is still alive.  

Gameplay (Open world,  RPG, First and Third Person)      

Once outside of the vault, after your awakening, the first thing to be noted is that the graphics of Fallout have been massively updated, combining Bethesda's Creation Engine (updated from the Skyrim engine) with Havok Behaviour, you will be reminded how much so every time that there is a loading screen, as in game characters are shown off as you wait (common in many games today). Whilst I can appreciate Bethesda's use of this combination I would very much like to see a Fallout game using the Unreal engine in future or another link up with sister company id Software. When they hooked with id for Rage, the graphics were mind blowing. Being a huge fan of Unreal, I would be interested to know if there is any potential for a collaboration. The graphics are so in your face that it kind of distracts you from the fact that there are many flaws in the actual physics of the game play. 

Back to Fallout 4. 
 It looks really good to say the least. I love the weather (excuse me, I'm English). The first time that a radioactive thunderstorm broke out I stayed hidden inside the back of a burnt out bus terrified to move as my character was irradiated every time lighting struck. The environment and the AI are highly detailed, with the environment standing out right away and an appreciation for everything else slipping into consciousness as the game pans out; possibly because it takes a little getting used to that everything is moving so fast. The only defect that I have noted so far is that when you are looking out across the landscape from the tall's of a building, there are small glitches in some of the buildings that you are viewing form afar and there are the familiar creepy glitches where objects such as skeletons will randomly move on their own or objects may appear floating in the space. (shit like this is simply Fallout). Apart from this, the game is a beauty to the eye with many opportunities to pause to take a good look around the environment and upload fabulous shots to social networking sites. There is a main storyline and as to be expected with open world games today, many side missions to take part in if you wish to, taking the total playable hours of the game into the hundreds if you are the type of player that likes to explore rather than blast straight through the main story.
I will be totally honest and say this. For me the story comes second to exploring the ruins left over from the nuclear war. It is something that truly fascinates and delights me; quite possibly because I admire that as a species humans are so adapt to overcoming the most extreme of circumstances here on earth (ice age springs to mind). Plus I am the type of person who enjoys wandering alone for hours. To give you an idea of how much there is to explore in the game, I can tell you that I am yet to reach Diamond City, the first major destination that you must travel to.

'I have recently just gotten to Diamond City after what must be close to 30 hours of play.'

Simply because along the way there are many sights to be explored as well as many challenges and side quest as you head towards it. If you happen to be a hoarder like myself, then you simply must explore every area of a building and collect every bit of junk possible before moving on to the next area or back to your town to drop off what you have collected to make room for yet more junk collecting. (I find this to be a satisfying way of keeping my OCD out of my own living space at home). Add to this the side quests and the fact that you can now build your own settlements, you may find on many occasions that you look at the clock and think fuck! I haven't even done anything yet. Plus there are going to be many, many, many re-loads as the game is rather challenging at times.
 Which brings us to settlement building. New to Fallout, you can now build, supply and defend your own settlements, not quite GTA gang banging, but a pleasant addition, one that messes with my OCD. It isn't easy to line up your chosen objects exactly how you would like to and I fear that the system for doing so wasn't planned out for people such as myself or planned out so that it considers the lumps and bumps of the surface areas that you build on.
'I don't want my fence poles hovering above the ground just because they don't bend with the contours of the land.' I want everything to look as tidy as can possibly be in a nuclear wasteland. (Is this being picky)? It is fun to build things though and a highly addictive way to get lost in doing nothing other than showing off pictures that you've uploaded to your online communities. Inside the boundaries of your settlements, almost anything not nailed down can be turned into usable materials for building and almost anything scavenge elsewhere can be added to the bigger parts that you collect.
Go go Power Rangers
 Playing the game itself also leaves mixed emotions. Everything seems to be moving faster....says the old man in me. V.A.T.S is no longer a blast-fest, as enemies will still move towards you whilst you target them and throwing grenades or explosives feels like a waste of time because the enemy AI will mostly just come straight at you rather than take cover, meaning that they will be out of the blast radius before explosion on most occasions. Your weapons and ammo at the start of the game also do not seem to match the excitement of your enemies. For example, you come up against a deathclaw within the first hour of play, when you are just beginning to scavenge for weapons and parts with which you can modify them with. Fair enough you also step into your first suit of power armour (so cool) and pick up a mini gun, but even that doesn't make it an easy task to take out the giant and powerful beast which is the deathclaw. Enemies will also ambush you a lot, seeming to come out of nowhere to surround you at a lighting fast pace that has you retreating whilst panic pressing buttons as you attempt to remember your quick items. I have found the fighting mechanics in Fallout 4 a little frustrating at times. Sometimes you feel like you are in a battle that is satisfying to come out of and others you feel as though the pace has been set too quickly and does not match up with your level, perks or weapons of the moment. Perhaps I am picking too much. You can after all step into suits of power armour and this in itself is a brilliant addition to the game (if you can find the fusion core to power it up). You can modify power amour. You can also modify almost anything that you acquire weapon wise making for some interesting ways of killing that which must be killed. And there is lots to be killed, with pretty much the same enemies that can be found in the previous two Bethesda Fallout titles as your targets to practice on. Lacking some originality on that front, but the enemies do look a heck of a lot more frightening; ghouls being a little more zombie like. Whilst I am having a cry though I will also add that the local map on the pip boy is a waste of time as it literally looks like all that are looking at is a load of waste that you cannot make sense of. Other than that, the pip boy is pretty much the same crack as the last two Fallout games; easy to get into and make use of. If you would like to read about the real pip boy that came out with the special addition release of the game, I have included a link that bursts the bubble of its wow factor that it had over people at the time of the pre-orders.

http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/why-the-fallout-4-pip-boy-edition-is-a-huge-disappointment

Sound wise the game is a delight to the ears. The effects seem to have an added realism to them this time around and the voice acting has improved, though not hugely. Once in dialogue with another character, rather than just seeing the person you are speaking to and a whole load of options for replying and asking questions, the screen will now shift from character to character depending on who is speaking, leaving a small collection of responses floating nearby when it is your turn to speak. I feel that a future Fallout game could make heavy use of some more well known voice actors, which would notch it up even further on the amazing games to play list. Given that the game made so much money, Bethesda could certainly pay actors the bucks and possibly make a less shitty pip boy for the fans of the game.
The music is retro in the style of 50's with more tracks being added to the radio stations playlist for this Fallout outing, meaning that there is a slightly less monotonous vibe about them. There is also a classical radio station which sounds tremendous when you are heading into battle. Hands up if you like 50's music just because you discovered it through playing Fallout.


And so we come to the end of this review with a little more to be added once I have finished the game.

Fallout 4 at this stage scores an 8 out of 10
So far it delights the senses whilst at the same feeling like it just doesn't have the wow factor of both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas; both of which sucked me in and did not let me go until the end.
It is though without a doubt one of the biggest adventures on PS4 so far. 
If you are reading these reviews and would like to know when the next one has been released then feel free to hit me up on Twitter @DanLumma
You can often find me streaming my adventures online via Twitch and Ustream under the name of CarlosJuanWolf.
You are also welcome to comment below on your thoughts about this review or the game itself. 
Happy Gaming.


       

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Resident Evil HD Remaster/ PS4



RESIDENT EVIL!! The godfather of survival horror games.
Admittedly not the first, but simply the best and a game that paved the way for horror of any sort in the gaming market to up its game.
The fact that it has been re-released so many times speaks volumes for itself.

The Fact that it has been re-released a second time and that the originals up to RE2 are being remastered also suggests that either A) fans of Resident Evil prefer the glory days of tank controlling survival horror or B) that Resident Evil as a series is on its way out and Capcom are cashing in on the games that made it what it is today.
In all honesty, even with the rumours of RE7 in the pipeline, I feel that it has certainly had its best moments as a heavyweight in the survival horror genre and maybe just maybe Capcom should end it with a full release of remasters up to RE4.

I fucking love this game though, so of course when I heard that a remastered version was being released for PS4, I snapped it up quickly and was blown away once again by a game that I have played over multiple platforms since its release back in 1996 (wow I was in my last year of high school then).

'When I started to play the PS4 version, for me it was like playing the game again for the first time.'  

 As with Resident Evil 2, I borrowed this game from my friend's dad, who at the time happened to have the ways and means of buying titles that I could not afford and was happy enough to lend them to me. A few years later I replayed it on the Nintendo GameCube, which was an impressive remaster at the time, then recently played what is the most impressive version to date, the PS4 version. What more can be done to top this? A VR version? Maybe. It has stood the test of time because of its popularity and because of its updated versions, an achievement that few other first series releases can boast; not even Silent Hill, it's main rival in the survival horror genre.


The Plot

S.T.A.R.S bravo team disappear whilst investigating some bizarre murders close by Raccoon City, leading alpha team into a zombie filled nightmare as they go out looking for them. Whilst investigating the site of bravo teams helicopter crash, alpha team are chased into a nearby mansion by zombie dogs. Alpha team members, Wesker, Chris, Jill and Barry make it into the mansion where they catch a breath and wonder about what has just happened. A gun shot goes off sparking the team into separately investigating the mansion. As they wander deeper into the mansion, the nightmare of what bravo team have already encountered is revealed as well as a number of conspiracies involving alpha team member Wesker and his involvement in the zombie outbreak. Your mission from then on out is to fight and kill zombies whilst looking for evidence against the evil Umbrella Cooperation (or Knights Templar) to prove their involvement in the zombie outbreak whilst ultimately trying to escape the massive mansion.



Game-play (Proper Survival Horror and One for the Purists)

Old school, classical survival horror with a tremendous update to the graphics, controls and camera positioning, if you want to sum it up quickly. 




It stills plays pretty much like the original release and for those who are stuck in the olden days as far as the evolution of survival horror is concerned (sometimes myself), there is the option to play in 4:3 ratio and with the original tank control system; kind of like watching a HD film on a black and white TV because you love nostalgia. You choose to play as either survivor Chris or Jill, with small differences to how they make their way through the game; mainly Jill being assisted at times by Barry and Chris by bravo team member Rebecca (Resident Evil Zero); there is also a slight difference in weapons available to both. Your mission is to investigate the mansion to try and make sense of what is going on. You do this mainly by finding keys and unlocking doors, whilst occasionally working out a puzzle that will allow you to progress further into the game. Every so often you will enter into a boss battle and come up against zombie animals as well as the zombie humans throughout; plus there are the added crimson heads, which are much tougher, slashing zombies that move quickly.

'Whilst currently revisiting the original release, I am seeing how simple the PS1 version is, even though, at the time it felt like a massive game to play, it is in fact made bigger, by added rooms and corridors in the updated PS4 game.'




At the time of the original release for this game it was something like no other in terms of just how big of game it is. OK maybe not in comparison to today's huge open world games, but even after all these years and many plays, there are still occasions when I completely forget what I am to do next due to the shear size of the mansion. What also set this game apart from anything similar (think Alone in the Dark) at the time, is the fact that if you are a fan of zombie horror films this is a game that pays homage to the old flicks from the time of Romero and the Dead films. For the most part it is a totally bloody zombie killing festival, in which you have to make smart choices about bullet and medicine use as though you are funnily enough in a survival situation which in reality would make it difficult to stock up on supplies. What happened in the later games of the series is that Schwarzenegger took over the development and the games focused more on guns blazing. (I'm joking of course, it was Stallone).

The first two difficulty settings offer little in the way of a challenge, but try playing the game on the hard setting and I am sure that even the most seasoned Resident Evil players will struggle with the lack of ammo and supplies. It isn't as easy to manoeuvre and kill zombies in tight corridors with just a knife, even with the updated control system that gives so much more freedom than the old tank controls; a lesson that I am learning as I attempt to collect the trophy for completing the game only using the knife. An updated version also means that you can now collect trophies for various tasks completed. Not usually a huge bonus for someone like myself, unless I am of course playing a game that I actually give a shit about. Resident Evil is such a game that is etched into my gaming battle wounds and worthy of collecting more scars (trophies). The voice acting is the same as the original three games; cheesy and off timing. It doesn't really matter though unless you are a total newbie to the game and used to all the Hollywood acting that is infiltrating the modern gaming scene. There are various save points in game, the classic type writer and of course those trusted item boxes that can be used to store items that do not need to be used immediately or in Chris's case to store most of the items that he cannot carry as he has less item slots than Jill. Killing your enemies is pretty straight forward; aim, fire, kill, using your hand gun mainly and guns collected along the way (slight difference in weapon choices for Jill and Chris). Healing your wounds is also simple, using a combination of herbs (green, red, blue) or first aid sprays. Of course you know all this if you have played any of the games prior to this remaster, meaning that there isn't a whole lot more that I can tell you, given that the main difference to the game is how it looks with the content largely remaining the same (thankfully).

If this is your first time around then you will most likely enjoy the game overall and maybe point your nose skywards at one or two things that are clearly outdated in the modern world of survival horror (especially if you joined the series at RE4). If you are a long term fan of the games and have not yet picked up a copy of the remastered version then I strongly suggest that you do. Either way, turn off the lights, crack open some Dr Pepper and get ready to blast through zombies whilst occasionally checking your heart beat.

'Given that I love this series so much, I am going to blog about the whole series or at least all of the games that I have played thus far.'

Resident Evil Remastered scores an 8 out of 10.
Back in the day I would of given the original a straight 10 out of 10 given that it was a one of a kind at the time. However the game is outdated and drops a couple of points due to this being obvious. It will however remain a true classic in the survival horror genre.  

For instant updates on what I am writing about, hit me up on Twitter @Illuminatitingz
Feel free to comment if you like this review or have played the game old or new.


Friday, 18 March 2016

F.E.A.R/ Xbox 360



F.E.A.R (fuck everything and run) or First Encounter Assault Recon to give it it's proper title. There are moments when the first thing you will want to do is run and hide, then, maybe peek back around the corner from your hiding place, with your massive gun shaking in hand. 
It isn't Silent Hill type messed up and despite what I have read, it isn't as terrifying as the Ring. Maybe at the time of its release back in October 2006 it had this type of ability to freak people out. For me personally it is a very good first person shooter with a horror element that will definitely keep you on edge if nothing else.


My first play of F.E.A.R ended very quickly, due to the dreaded ring of death, that used to happen on Xbox 360 consoles. I finally picked up a copy back around the time of its release, after eyeing it up for many weeks previously. In went the game and around 5 minutes later, off went the computer never to come back on again. I sold all of the games that I had at the time and didn't come back to this game until this year. The wait has been worth it in some ways and in many the game feels overly outdated. I am at the end of the game and have decided to start writing about it to coincide with my expected completion of the game this week.

The Plot

Your task as protagonist Point Man, is to apprehend Paxton Fettel, who has gone on a cannibalistic killing spree, taking control of an army of super soldiers, whilst taking over Armacham Technology Corporation headquarters, where some shady dealings have been taking place of the supernatural kind. As you journey into the depths of a psychotic nightmare more, of the plot is revealed, generally through recorded telephone messages (if you can hear them), that you can listen to, as well as information stored on laptops, throughout the buildings that you make your way through.

Gameplay

I happen to like this game a lot despite some of its minor flaws. F.E.A.R is given the title of survival horror/slash first person shooter, but in all honesty it is more of a shooter than it is survival horror, especially given the fact that the majority of what you are shooting at is human (in some cases telepathically controlled) and that the horror plays out more like a bad trip. At one point I found some little Easter eggs that seemed to suggest that it was all just a dream or a hallucination brought about by the peyote cactus that is on at least 1 in 5 office desks that you pass by. I am not quite sure if that counts as an Easter egg find, but I'll add it to the comically named vending machines and what appears to be gay porn on about 1 in 5 desks also. Maybe my mind is warped, who knows? It certainly adds to the atmosphere of madness that catches you off guard every so often.
 So your basically going around shooting a lot, with a combination of guns of which you can be armed with three at a time. Every so often you may blow something up with your grenades or your mines. There isn't a massive arsenal selection, however there are some fun non realistic weapons to bring down your enemies with; mine being the 10mm HV Penetrator (sounds a bit rude), which pins the enemy to whatever he may be closest to. The enemies, mainly human, get slightly more difficult to take out as the game progresses, with the odd one heavily armoured shooting rockets at you. I say only slightly more difficult because for most of the game you are also heavily armed and can manipulate space and time with the matrix style reflex time, which explains Point Mans superhuman reflexes, slowing everything down so that you can easily hit and run on whoever you are aiming at. Flaw number one, given that the AI in F.E.A.R are actually quite intelligent and will move on you tactically, it makes little sense to be able to cancel this out by slowing them down whenever you are attacked. You don't actually fight against any monsters until the end of the game and then it is a disappointing introduction, with an even more disappointing final boss showdown, with a girl/lady who looks like she has just gotten out of the shower and is slightly pissed off that she has to answer the door looking as she does. Flaw number two in this supposedly survival horror game, there is a lack of surviving horror. To look at, F.E.A.R hasn't quite stood the test of time, although there are many good qualities surviving, possibly due to Havok physics being used (I love Havok). I was especially impressed with the lighting and shadowing in game; shadows rocking up on walls at times being more jumpy than the threat of being attacked. Bullet destruction in walls and blood splats are top notch and my highlight is chopping an enemy in two with the shotgun at close range and sometimes blasting them into tiny pieces. The sound ranks up another flaw. I don't know if it is just me, but I am assuming not as my sound system is pretty good; I could not hear the dialogue throughout this game on many occasions. It was okay at times, but mostly I was straining to make sense of what was being relayed back to me. A minor annoyance as the plot unfolds mainly through information found on laptops and answer machines of which both are verbally communicated. In the end it didn't really spoil the fun that I was having, creeping about wondering when the monsters were going to show, scratching my head every time a hallucination began taking effect and shooting big ass guns at big ass enemies whilst looking like some kind of Neo wannabe. Sadly I missed out by many years on being able to go on-line with this game, so I am unable to comment on what appears to of been a popular aspect of the game-play.
    
F.E.A.R scores a 6 out of 10
For its fun shooting game-play it scores 5 and 1 for the horror element. The ending sets up a sequel which hopefully offers more horror for the horror fans out there.  

 Hit me up on Twitter for instant updates @Illuminatitingz
Feel free to add comments on the review or your own experience of this game.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Heavy Rain/ PS4



Heavy Rain is some heavy shit! You'll be forgiven for believing throughout that you are playing a slightly milder version of Saw and that Jigsaw may appear at any given point, adding to the already air of intensity that steadily builds throughout the game, climaxing in a plot twist that has certainly left me thinking WTF? 



The Plot

The main story kicks in two years after the opening of the game, where you are introduced to one of the protagonists, Ethan Mars. In the opening of the prologue Ethan is enjoying some family time which ends in tragic circumstances; a car accident that kills his eldest son and leaves him in a coma for six months. Fast forward two years, Ethan is left in a state of depression, suffering from blackouts and is racked with guilt as he blames himself for the death of his son. To make matters worse, there is a serial killer on the loose, the 'Origami Killer', who may of happened to kidnap Ethan's remaining son whilst Ethan is suffering another one of his blackouts. From here on in, you are introduced to the remaining three protagonists, of whom all are playable characters. Firstly, private detective Scott Shelby, conducting his own investigations into the case of the Origami Killer. Secondly, FBI profiler Norman Jayden who is supporting the Washington police force with their investigation and last but by no means least in terms of her impact on the storyline, photojournalist Madison Paige. Playing as one of the aforementioned characters at different points throughout, each will attempt to find out the identity of the Origami Killer, whilst battling with their own emotional issues that are hinted at and often revealed as you make your way towards a plot twisting and turning finale that will have you scratching your head long after the game has finished. I went to bed one night thinking that I had it sussed the next time that I played only to get back up and find that I was wrong. 


Gameplay (Point and Click, Interactive Movie)

Developers Quantic Dream like to think of their games as interactive movies. True they do require a lot of interaction with deep plots that often have you on the edge of your seat wondering what is going on and what is going to happen next, but in all honesty they are modern day point and click games. You could call it an interactive drama or action adventure, whatever you please. To me it isn't doing much more than you would in the likes of Broken Sword and Disc World, except looking fantastically realistic, especially on PS4 and sounding a heck of a lot better, especially the voice acting. Heavy Rain plays heavily on building suspense and then shocking your system with thing's that you do not generally expect to find outside of a GTA title. There is sex, nudity, a lot of violence, bad language and acts of debauchery that open the eyes and the mouth (just check my video playthroughs and you'll see). Again though this isn't entirely new either. Quantic Dream have already made a similar game in Fahrenheit; the difference being that instead of snowing throughout it is now raining. Wow I didn't realise until writing how critical I feel of a game that gave me such enjoyment to play. Perhaps it is the fact that it's very movie like qualities leave you asking for more, ending just as quickly as most movies that are put out today or perhaps it is because it is nothing new, but entertaining, like watching the new Rocky film or yet another Terminator outing. I really did enjoy playing and completing the game though. So much so that it was a matter of hours before I decided to go back through with the idea of fine combing my way through a plot twist that had me saying no fucking way did he do it when it came to the end of my first outing. There is that and the fact that every action taken in game has a reaction with the potential to alter the game ending; a clever way of adding replay value as well as wanting to collect all of the trophies and bonuses. You will find yourself being tested as far as your hand eye coordination is concerned, being prompted to quickly press buttons or directions during some of the fast paced action scenes. Having to hold R2 to walk sometimes sends you around in circles, which can be a little annoying when you are attempting to move quickly, but apart from this the control system is simple enough to be used by just about anyone, whether new to the game or not. To sum it up, Heavy Rain is a game that could be enjoyed like a Sunday movie, for the next few Sunday's until you have seen all of the possible ending's; kind of like getting the director's cut version of your favourite film. 

Heavy Rain scores a 7 out of 10
You will probably never forget the experience and at the same time probably not mention it often either. It is definitely worth a play though. 
As always, feel free to comment below on your experience of playing this game or my review of it and link me @DanLumma on Twitter for instant updates about my gaming journey.
I am also saving videos on Ustream of my second Heavy Rain playthrough under the name of CarlosJuanWolf.
 

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Batman: Arkham Asylum/ Xbox 360



Dna dna dna dna dna dna dna dna Batman!
I just couldn't resist it. It was either that or 'riddle me this, riddle me that, who's afraid of the great big bat?' Every villain in Gotham City might be the answer, but even if this is so, there are some who like to taunt him. In this game the first of a trilogy of Xbox 360 titles it is the Joker doing the taunting along with some familiar nut jobs (such as Harley Quinn) after he manages to get Batman trapped inside the Arkham Asylum, home to many of the criminally insane that have crossed paths with Batman at one time or another; how unfortunate for Batman. The Unreal engine (insert loud clapping) is used for this game (possibly my favourite game engine), giving it a super chiseled look, especially Batman's face and body. 
I was never a huge fan of Batman I must admit, at least not the comics. I watched the TV show that was shown in England when I was a child and some of the cartoons, plus I loved the first two Tim Burton films, but that's as far as it went. After playing this game though, my appreciation of Batman has grown and the rest of the Arkham titles have been invested in.

 The plot

The joker, that smiling old chap, arch enemy of Batman decides that it might be a good idea to trap the Dark Night inside the Arkham Asylum, home to the criminally insane, of whom most have had a run in with Batman at some point in their criminal career. Nightmare scenario for Batman, fun and games for Joker, of which there are twistedly plenty. Escorted into the asylum by a suspicious Batman (suspicious that Joker has purposely allowed himself to be captured), Joker escapes capture letting his plan be known, with the added threat of blowing up Gotham City with hidden bombs should anyone try to step inside the asylum to aid Batman. As the plot develops Batman becomes aware that the reason for Joker's ludicrous plan to hijack the asylum is that he had been secretly funding a project to turn Bane's venom into a more powerful venom called Titan that he plans to take from the asylum's Dr Young and use to create his own army of Bane like henchmen. Making his way through the asylum like a bat outta hell.....Batman must fight his way through a host of Joker's henchmen (some mutated by Titan) as well as some of his most recognised foes, such as Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and Bane to name a few, whilst attempting to re-apprehend the Joker.

The Criminal's


The Joker

Total nut job, dresses like a clown, real name Jack Nicholson (not really), loves winding Batman up and generally causing mayhem for no other reason than he can. Lures Batman into a trap as part of his plan to take Titan from Dr Young. Final boss that Batman must face after Joker jacks himself up on Titan and turns into a rather scary looking crackhead. Voiced by Luke Skywalker. 

Harley Quinn

Total nut job, dresses like a jester, real name Harleen Quinzel, has a soft spot for Joker (in her panties), dislikes Batman simply because she wants to win the Joker's approval. Taunts Batman throughout the early stages of the game until finally getting knocked on her pretty little backside and locked in a cell.

Victor Zsasz

Total nut job (bit of a theme developing), looks like Dhalsim from Street Fighter, escapes with the patients at the beginning of the game and gets his ass kicked pretty quick when Batman rescues the doctors Victor has taken hostage.

Bane


Full of rage and steroids (venom), which explains the rage that is generally directed towards Batman, Bane has been the subject of Dr Young's experimentation in attempting to make a super venom from the steroid that gave Bane his superhuman strength. As Batman is about to cut Bane loose, Joker decides to pump him full of titan, which sends him rampaging towards Batman, who then hands his ass to him on a plate (without a fork to eat it).

The Riddler

Real name Jim Carrey (joking), Edward Nigma only appears in the game as a voice that taunts Batman about how he will not be able to solve all of his riddles and therefore not find all of the hidden trophies, question marks and links to criminals who are in the game in one form or another. 

Scarecrow

Total nut job (surprise), Dr Jonathan Crane (not Frasier's brother) likes to fill people full of fear, using his fear inducing toxins, of which he inflicts on Batman at various points throughout the game, sending him into a nightmare game of cat and mouse with the Scarecrow each time, before Scarecrow is finally snatched from the sewers and gobbled up by Killer Croc.

Killer Croc


Living down in the sewers of the asylum is another freakish character with a hatred of Batman (yet another theme developing), going by the name of Waylon Jones or Killer Croc as he is also known because of a skin condition that has given him a reptilian appearance. He would like nothing more than to chew down on Batman, but finds himself settling on Scarecrow before being blasted even further below the sewers when attempting to chase Batman down. 

Poison Ivy

Perhaps the most challenging of all the boss battles and not because her striking appearance is distracting, but more due to the fact that she is aided by Titan enhanced plants that spit poisonous energy balls at you as you dance about attempting to strike at Pamela Lillian Isley whilst knuckle sandwiching the zombified guards that are also coming at you..... It's a lot to deal with all at once. It's quite an ungrateful assault on Batman given that he set Ivy free earlier on in the game.

A few more criminals appear in cameo roles, but the above pretty much covers the main ones.


Game-play (Third Person Action Adventure)

Oh there is so much fun to be had in this game...... So much. I will start by saying that this is the first game in a long time that has made me what to get all OCD and complete it 100%. Part of doing this is to crack all of Edward Nigma's riddles of which clues are scattered all over the asylum with trophies hidden also. It isn't just a straightforward game of hide and seek either. You will have to use Batman's detective skills as well as his gadgets, only being able to find certain trophies once certain gadgets have been upgraded or when certain areas of the asylum have become accessible. This is the main side quest of the game, which can be finished up once the main story has been completed as you will still be able to go back into the game and collect what you may of missed whilst fighting your way towards the Joker. The storyline is deep (written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini) and well thought out with graphics and voice acting that give the look of an actual Batman graphic novel and the sound of an actual Batman cartoon; Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) voices Joker which gives you an idea of how seriously the developers have taken it. Despite the game taking place in one location-the grounds and buildings of the asylum, there is lots to explore, with enough playing time to keep you hooked for at least 8 hours, with the added challenge mode that unlocks more levels as you progress through the main game. In the main game, as well as knocking out asylum inmates (Bats doesn't kill people), some pumped full of Titan, you will every so often have to look for clues using Batman's detective skills, which will normally lead you into a boss battle and then further on into the asylum. Every so often Batman will become marked on body and suit, giving the authentic appearance that he has indeed been in battle. The fighting system is easy to get to grips with, as is most of the actions you will take, but difficult to master in terms of creating huge strings of combos when fighting which will get you more points and help you to upgrade gadgets and body armor more quickly. It is very pleasing to be able to create such varied combos with a slow mo finish when hitting the last of your enemies. Using Batman's gadgets is a fun way to get around and to investigate your surroundings with certain ones upgradeable. Overall the whole experience of playing Arkham Asylum is highly enjoyable and playable for non Batman fans as well as the fanatics (I've seen the cosplay). The look of the game is what you'd expect if you are familiar with any game made on the Unreal engine and the sound is nothing short of movie quality.


The Gadgets

Batarang- Comes as one, two and then three which can be thrown to stun enemies or detach things from the environment, such as ropes. You can also knock switches and smash the chattering Joker teeth that can be found around the asylum and ticked off of the Riddler list. You can also upgrade to a remote controlled Batarang and a Sonic Batarang that emits a sound beacon that will attract the attention of a nearby enemy.

Explosive Gel- Can be applied to structural weak spots, then detonated to blow holes normally in walls. You can also use it to stun enemies. It can be upgraded to give more applications in a single use, as well as being able to go off when an enemy is close by.

Batclaw- Used primarily to open grates that cannot be otherwise reached it is also a handy gadget for pulling enemies towards you or off of ledges. Once upgraded to the ultra Batclaw, you can use it to pull down walls you would otherwise have to blast, meaning that you can get into more areas that are out of Batman's normal reach.

Cryptographic Sequencer- Used to access control boxes by way of hacking into them (simple). You can upgrade it's power and range.

Line Launcher- Used to travel long distances quickly and to get from a to b, when getting from a to b doesn't seem possible.


Batman Arkham Asylum scores a 10 out of 10
For the second time in my writing about games that I play I have given a game a 10. This game is near perfect with some heavy hitting names in terms of its development and publishing. It has everything that a great title has.

Feel free to comment if you have played this game. Catch me online as CarlosJuanWolf, often streaming on Twitch and Ustream.
For Twitter heads hit me up @DanLumma