Vanquish (2010) – 9/10 awesome third-person shooter game review

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Cast / crew
Director: Shinji Mikami
Producer: Atsushi Inaba
Art Director: Naoki Katakai
Conceptual Designer: Shinji Usui
Character Designer: Makoto Tsuchibayashi
Story Writer: Hiroki Kato

Vanquish (2010)

After wild over-population brings Earth to it’s knees, the US and Russia are at loggerheads. The tide is turned when a US Space Laser is hijacked by robot Russian forces and destroys San Francisco and war becomes the only option.

9/10

There is a case for this being the best third-person shooter ever made. Platinum Games and Shinji Mikami’s Vanquish is a constantly awesome third-person shooter that is widely regarded as a commercial disappointment despite selling about 1 million copies. The second-to-second gameplay is remarkably fun and rewarding. Some of this is down to wonderful enemies always responding when attacked. I know it seems odd that this is not always the case but even some celebrated big-budget games (such as Bioshock, if memory serves) see a blood spurt as an acceptable substitution for an action cancel (where your action, shooting them somewhere, cancels their action). Even better is that, especially on the larger regular enemies, shooting them in different places (arm, leg, back, head, gun, huge fuel tank) has different results and tactical outcomes. Weapon upgrades are juggled brilliantly; simple but with hidden depth. Special mention for some satisyfing trophies. Several are awarded for achieving some cool and / or challenging objectives during gameplay and individual trophies rewarding progress through the game on harder difficulties (instead of just one at the end). That said, even though it’s a difficult Platinum trophy, it’s not a difficult game, even on Hard.

This game contains sexual swear words, strong violence, unpleasant and extremely gory cut scenes

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

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Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 6 (2013, PS3 exclusive) – 9/10 driving game review

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Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Kazunori Yamauchi

Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 6 aka GT6 (2013)

9/10

Whether coaxing an unwanted Prius into 1st, manhandling a Stratos, marveling at the grip on a Mazda Roadster Touring Car or experiencing cornering speeds that seem beyond human comprehension in the Red Bull X-Series, GT6‘s driving experience is sublime. Every car is a joy to drive and this trumps every shortcoming the game has. On easier difficulties the AI let you win by ostentatiously slowing down (though I’m they removed this from Seasonal Events), the sound is highly variable, the track editor still doesn’t exist eight months after release, none of the career races feature standing starts or qualifying or racing exactly, the ultimate endurance races have been cut short by about 23 1/2 hours and they shouldn’t have wasted processing power on the worthless damage modelling. On the plus side, the graphics are astonishing for PS3, the lighting is wonderfully improved over GT5, the dynamic weather and time of the day is exemplary, the photo mode is as engrossing as ever, the track list is unmatched in quality with a superlative selection of original tracks backing up the old real-life stalwarts (Grid: Autosport is close), the car list is unmatched in quantity, hundreds of the car models are unmatched in quality and the (Dualshock) driving experience is totally unmatched: exquisite, an unending treat, a masterclass in response and communication.

Classified 3+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 3 or over.

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Grid 2 (2013, Steam on Windows PC) – 7/10 racing game review

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Cast / crew
Chief Game Designer: James Nicholls
Lead Programmer: Gary Buckley
Producer: Iain Strachan Smith
Producer: Toby Evan-Jones
Design Manager: Matthew Horsman

Grid 2 (2013)

A new racing series, World Series Racing or WSR, is looking to make it’s mark on the international stage and needs a driver to start making headlines with his preternatural skill and achievement. Your time has come.

7/10

There is a problem with all the cars feeling like they go at the same speed (a billion miles an hour) and there is not much differentiation in handling between cars meaning you don’t really develop an understanding with particular cars. On top of this potentially-bland driving experience, most of the non-driving aspects of Grid‘s single player game have been moved to the multiplayer or sidelined; I feel that this loses the extra interest, atmosphere, identity and personality of the Race Driver series and it isn’t restored using a flashy video with your name on it here and there. Fortunately, the driving experience just escapes blandness by making every car on the knife-edge of control and the racing experience is never less than completely thrilling. That’s not to say that it’s always fun or ever convincing. The handling is unpredictable, always, and as soon as you start getting into the faster cars it is a largely miserable if still heart-pumping experience. The game looks fantastic with a nice range of infuriatingly forgettable and interchangeable locations (Chicago, Miami, Barcelona and Paris, specifically; the real tracks are fine). There are plenty of race types (including a great overtake challenge mode) and there is a mammoth career mode to go through as well as a satisfying online mode.

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