LEGO Jurassic World (2015, PS4) – 7/10 family action puzzle game review

LEGO Jurassic World (2015)

7/10

More of the same with the odd good gag (there’s a terrific Jaws gag in the The Lost World segment that I almost wish had been in the actual movie) but while the tinkle of collected LEGO studs and minifig animation remains as delightful as ever (the diving animation is hilarious the first time you see it and adorable every time after that and the bald caps are wonderful), the core gameplay sadly requires no thought or attention at all. This isn’t light puzzling; collect A, B, and C and take them to D isn’t a puzzle, it’s following a list of instructions. Unfortunately, fun, readable puzzles are time-consuming and difficult to come up with and TT Games are busy squirting a few of these out every year. The general absence of rewarding gameplay in the last few years of LEGO games should be hurting the franchise more but although the game part has all but disappeared the charm has not.

Content Summary

This game contains violence, unpleasant and scary scenes

Cast / crew

Director: Jon Burton

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Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013, PS4) – 7/10 near-future military first-person shooter game review

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Cast / crew

Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013)

America gets upset when someone else on the planet wants to hold Armageddon-level super-weaponry. After using a legendary covert-ops unit called Ghosts to push unstable forces into a super-attack on America, they gleefully grab the pretext for war they engineered and start wading into South America shooting everyone who looks at them funny.

7/10

I find it intriguing that with one breath contemporary critics gush over experience games with little interactivity like Dear Esther while condemning Call of Duty: Ghosts’ single player for having not enough interactivity. If an indie developer made a game about carrying a dog through a battlefield, critics would explode into unanimous applause. While it is certainly a mechanical touristy jog through spectacular and pretty (PS4 version reviewed) but limited environments, Ghosts’ single player is still a polished, slick, easy-to-play and fun shooter and entertainingly stupid. It’s not emotionally involving, you have no idea who you are, who your teammates are, who you are shooting and why but then no Infinity Ward game has ever achieved that. The problem is that the alternate virtually-on-rails shooting, actually-on-rails shooting and quick time events are frequently ill-disguised and you don’t ever get let off the leash. Ironically, there’s a playable super-dog in the game (Riley, I remember his name!) and, as him, you do get let off the leash for almost several minutes. The single player does what it’s always done. If you want more freeform action, there’s the multiplayer which is as good as ever. Except they’ve removed the excellent, but presumably not played very much, Spec Ops mode.

This game contains strong violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, frequent sexual swear words in closing song

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and 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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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014, PS3) – 7/10 fantasy RPG game review

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Cast / crew
Director: Motomu Toriyama
Game Design Director: Yuji Abe
Main Programmer: Naoki Hamaguchi
Art Director: Isamu Kamikokuryo
Graphics and Visual Effects Director: Shintaro Takai
Main Character Designer: Tetsuya Nomura
Music: Masashi Hamauzu
Music: Naoshi Mizuta
Music: Mitsuto Suzuki
Lead Scenario Writer: Daisuke Watanabe
Level Design Director: Takeshi Iwabuchi
Lead Application Programmer: Daiki Hoshina
Lead Planner: Kazuyuki Shindo
Lead Planner: Masahiro Ishihara
Lead Planner: Daisuke Inoue
Lead Planner: Yui Sawada
Battle Design Director: Nobuyuki Matsuoka
Lead Battle Programmer: Satoru Koyama
Character Model Director: Masaaki Kazeno
Lead Technical Engine and Rendering Programmer: Shuichi Ikeda
Producer: Yoshinori Kitase
Lightning aka Claire Farron: Ali Hillis
Hope Estheim: Vincent Martella
Jessica DiCicco: Lumina

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014)

Lightning awakes from crystal stasis by the almighty god Bhunivelze and endowed with great power and a skimpy outfit and a mission to save as many souls as she can before the end of the world. Which will be in 13 days. Making things even harder is that the world has been frozen in immortality for the past 500 years and the length of time has crushed some of their souls. These are the ones God wants rescuing and Lightning will have to do whatever it takes to help restore light to their lives and save their souls.

7/10

"You’re just making things up now." – Lightning

While Lightning’s succinct statement applies to most JRPG’s (and most video game bosses in particular), it applies with such eyebrow-raising accuracy to all of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’s story sequences that you feel that the makers must be doing it deliberately. While the story does get around to sort-of explaining why Lightning has been such an overly-focused near-automaton for three games, that’s about your lot. Everything happens because it does and thanks to good production values, especially the superb voice work and outstanding music, I was happy to break out my wry smile and watch all the story scenes in their majestically daft seriousness. You see, did I mention that you can be wearing a giant hat or silly glasses or a precariously balanced afro or a tail or big bunny ears and an impractical suit of armour or next to no clothes during these world-changing sequences. It’s got to be deliberate. The game itself is generally a lot of fun and marks the first seamless 3D open-world environment for Final Fantasy. It’s easy enough to bumble through for the experience but it has enough depth in the battle system that, on Normal and Hard difficulty, preparation and strategy will be required to succeed. There’s lot to do and you will be happy helping people with their problems, ‘solving’ mysteries and swatting cactuars in the face with a sword that is twice the size you are. I’ve grown rather partial to Lightning and the fact that I can name the entire hero cast of the FFXIII universe and some of their defining character traits and arcs speaks volumes about the quality of this much-maligned trilogy.

This game contains violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

Classified 16+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 16 or over..

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Captain America: Super Soldier (2011,360) – 7/10 superhero action game review

Cast / crew
Game Director: Brandon Gill
Art Director: Barret Chapman
Audio Director: Alex MacFarlane
Technical Director: Darwin Chau
Lead Cinematic Animator: Rob Willock
Lead Gameplay Animator and Designer: Jeff King

Captain America: Super Soldier (2011)

As Dr. Anim Zola improves his understanding of human mortality through experimenting on prisoners-of-war, Captain America resolves to go in and punch him in the evil until he stops.

7/10

Successfully taking design inspiration from Batman: Arkham Asylum, this is a fun, highly playable and satisfying superhero movie game. Even without your special shield moves (which are too slow to deploy) the combat is rewarding to play throughout. The structure of the game provides an ever-expanding and constantly interesting 1940’s stronghold / science-fiction arena and taking the super-powered Captain through them picking up collectibles and leaving a trail of broken henchmen is a great balance of action and non-action. Technically, the frame rate doesn’t feel smooth but it loads surprisingly quickly, nothing is broken and it doesn’t affect playability. It winds up to a great speech by the Captain before a surprisingly not-irritating triple-boss battle during a boss battle, leaving us with a good memory of a good game.

This game contains strong bloodless violence

Classified 12+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 12 or over.
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.
Classified Bad Language by PEGI. Game contains bad language.

Headhunter: Redemption (2004, PS2, PCSX2) – 7/10 action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: John Kroknes
Director: John Kroknes
Writer: Philip Lawrence
Co-Director: Philip Lawrence
Technical Producer: Stefan Holmqvist
Game Design Director: Peter Johansson
Music Composer, Orchestrator and Producer: Richard Jacques
James Livingstone: Jack Wade
Lisa Renée: Leeza X
Claudia Coulter: Che, Supporting Characters
Alan Marriott: Psycho Star, Supporting Characters

Headhunter: Redemption (2004)

Headhunter Jack Wade rescues and recruits an initially unwilling Leeza X and sends her on a routine mission to gather intelligence while he goes on a more dangerous assignment. Naturally, his assignment turns out to be a ruse and she has to learn the job and fast as the routine assignment is merely the tip of an iceberg of corruption and painful history.

7/10

The coolest things about Headhunter were Jack’s ridable motorcycle and the theme music. So it is a bit baffling to find both are absent for a long time in this sequel while they’ve kept the broken, difficult-to-use camera during the shooting segments; it’s particularly infuriating and unreliable during boss battles. You finally get Jack’s theme after several hours (this is a long, good-value game) and it is glorious and you never get the bike (you see it briefly). It’s a shame as the levels, characters and mix of puzzles and action are good, the story is agreeably inexplicable, the voice-acting is excellent and this is a good game. Some very cool touches like the arguments in the alley and the comical villain holiday camp-like announcements are icing on the cake. Note: Headhunter: Redemption was played beginning to end on PCSX2 without problem.

This game contains bad language and violence, a gory and extremely unpleasant scene and inferred pornographic filming.

Classified 16+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 16 or over..
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.

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Two Worlds (2007, version 1.6 PC) – 7/10 open-world action role-playing game review

Cast / crew

Two Worlds (2007)

Your sister is kidnapped and held for ransom by mysterious forces who are scheming to open the tomb of Aziraal three-hundred years after your ancestors sealed him in it.

7/10

This is an ambitious, enormous, oddly charming action RPG that is fun to play and will easily hoover up twenty-five hours of your time. The most brilliant element of the game is item-stacking: if you find a weapon, shield or armor you already have, you can combine them to create a stronger version. Collecting loot is always one of an RPG’s most oddly satisfying pillars and item-stacking makes Two World‘s already excellent implementation a real selling point. The story about rescuing your hilariously under-dressed sister did involve me as did enough of the quests, caves, villages and locations (a bamboo forest was particularly lovely) of the game world. The combat had some nice moments and I happily clicked for hours. It also lightens up at times ("As you wish, oh master of the many wafting smells"; "I spent three years at the Shaven Back Monastery." "What’s their special power?" "Shaven Backs.") and I even got photo-bombed by a small dinosaur. This is the kind of game to which you form an unreasonable attachment and I enjoyed it a lot.

This game contains gory violence and your sister’s combination cleavage and side-boobs.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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