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 The wait has been worth it in some ways and in many the game feels overly outdated.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.  

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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.