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

Links

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..

Links

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.

Links

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.

Links

Genji: Days of the Blade (2006) – 7/10 period action game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Yoshiki Okamoto
Director: Yuichi Ueda
Music: Yasuharu Takanashi
Daisuke Namikawa: Minamoto no Yoshitsune

Genji: Days of the Blade (2006)

Based on actual Japanese history: The Heishi clan has quickly recovered strength by employing magic that turns soldiers into hulking demons. Yoshitsune and Benkei must do battle with the newly-restored Heishi army and giant enemy crabs but they won’t be alone. Wait, hulking demons? Just a minute, giant enemy crabs…

7/10

This is a good action game with a notoriously bad camera. A long-winded and poorly designed final boss fight threatens to leave the game on a low but Genji’s highest quality component, the music, makes the climax and end credits a pleasure to sit through. The music is unusual to Western ears, heavy on percussion and strange male choir grunts, and very fitting indeed. The action in the game allows a lot of choice: you have four characters, each with their own weapon, each with four different fighting styles. While button-mashing will get you through, there is significant satisfaction to becoming one with the ebb-and-flow of combat, dodging, blocking and timing your attacks to perfection. Despite flaws in camera choices, save points and some fiddly platforming, the music and cover-free, flowing combat allow Genji to be enjoyable and it’s a much better game than the Metacritic score and mean contemporary reviews would have you believe.

This game contains bad language and violence.

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Crash Time III aka Alarm for Cobra 11: Highway Nights (2009, 360) – 7/10 open-world action racing game review

Cast / crew

Crash Time III aka Alarm for Cobra 11: Highway Nights (2009)

Semir and Ben investigate the bombing of police vehicles as a major international conference looms in the city.

7/10

Wrong-footing us from the get-go, the third, and best, Synetic action racing title in the Alarm for Cobra 11 series has a easy-to-understand menu where the active item is clearly highlighted. This staggering concession to usability extends to the in-game action as all frustrations from previous entries have been removed. Most of the time, you cannot fail a mission, you simply succeed less well and get assigned a out-of-five star-rating upon completion. Synetic also add an in-car shooting mechanic and it works really well and makes a satisfying alternative to smashing cars off the road Chase HQ-style. Dialogue remains endearingly stilted ("in famous" instead of "infamous") but it always wins me over and I very much welcome the light tone. There’s even some Fourth Wall-breaking (‘Man… this is the third time the Synetic guys have made me drive a tank’) which is odd but funny and welcome. There’s still, uniquely, cars with caravans and this remains, I think, the only game where you can race articulated lorries, which is tremendous fun.

This game contains bad language

Classified 7+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 7 or over.

Links

Fahrenheit aka Indigo Prophecy (2005, Windows PC) – 7/10 supernatural crime drama game review

Cast / crew
Writer: David Cage
Director: David Cage

Fahrenheit

Indigo Prophecy (2005)

Lucas Kane horrifiedly watches himself carve symbols into his arms then stab a man three times in a diner washroom. When he regains control, or rather, when something or someone else relinquishes control of him, he knows that no-one will believe what happened. As the only person convinced of the innocence of his guilt, Kane determines to find out what really happened.

7/10

It definitely falls apart at the end (specifically, from the meeting with Carla in the graveyard) as the plot loses cohesion and characters behave as if you’ve missed significant scenes or dialogue options (culminating in the surprise "I love you" on the train) but this remains a landmark game and a refreshingly different experience. You see, I wanted to reassure Sam before I left for work; I felt panic from claustrophobia; I felt joy when the Professor believed me and I felt dismay when it didn’t turn out well. Writer / director David Cage’s commitment to getting games to deliver something other than heart-pumping thrills and mind-bending conundrums is intriguing and worthwhile. When it works, as it frequently does here, it is a remarkable achievement and those experiences definitely enrich your gaming palate.

This game contains extreme and graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes and sex scenes, full nudity.

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

Transformers: War for Cybertron (2010, PC) – 7/10 third-person science fiction action game review

Cast / crew

Transformers: War for Cybertron (2010)

On their home planet of Cybertron, the Autobots and Decepticons battle to control Dark Energon.

7/10

This is a stylish sci-fi shooter but it suffers from the inherited bland characterisations of the Transformers themselves, especially the Autobots. The robots are essentially indistinguishable from each other but the notable exception comes from the Decepticon campaign. Starscream entertainingly seeks his own glory and self-preservation but Megatron is an absolute riot with his endless self-aggrandising statements and credit-taking. The Decepticon campaign ends with a clearer and so more spectacular boss battle than the Autobot campaign (which sees you spend most of the time not looking at the boss).

This game contains mild bad language and robot violence.

Links

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Dragon Age: Origins – Leliana’s Song (2010) – 7/10 fantasy action role-playing game DLC review

Cast / crew
Cinematic Designer: Ryan Ebenger
Cinematic Designer: Jonathan Epp
Cinematic Designer: Michelle Pettit-Mee
Technical Designer: Cori May
Technical Designer: Keith Warner
Writer: Lukas Kristjanson
Lead Producer: Fernando Melo
Producer: Rob Bartel
Producer: Dan Lazin
Corinne Kempa: Leliana
Kath Soucie: Marjolaine
Adam Howden: Silas
John Ullyatt: Sketch
Mark Meer: Tug

Dragon Age: Origins Leliana’s Song (2010)

What was Leliana up to before she entered the Chantry and met the Warden? Well, she was a naughty girl.

7/10

Prequel to Dragon Age: Origins. Fun opening quests; before fleshing out the details we learned during her personal quest in the main game. Story doesn’t quite match up with Leliana’s recounting in Origins but we do get an interesting look into the Mother of the Chantry (who was seduced by Marjolaine) and the switch between Leliana having fun and then getting betrayed is interesting and well done. The dialogue more frequently doesn’t seem to follow on from itself. The ending isn’t exactly satisfying (there isn’t one exactly; Leliana says she won’t tell us what happened between her and Marjolaine) and the difficulty spike for the final boss is rather extreme.

Links

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Red Faction: Guerrilla (2009, Games for Windows Live) – 7/10 third-person science fiction demolition shooter game review

Cast / crew
Project Design Director: James Hague
Project Design Architect: Luke Schneider
Writer: Drew Holmes
Producer: Rick White
Project Technical Director: Chris Neihengen
Project Technical Director: Jeff Massung
Project System Architect: Dave Baranec
Troy Baker: Alec Mason
Kari Wahlgren: Samanya

Red Faction: Guerrilla (2009)

After his dog is killed by Mars police, Alec Mason joins revolutionary organisation Red Faction. As he presents his concerns to the authorities using a space sledgehammer, he discovers an alien artefact so powerful, so astonishing, so important that he completely forgets about it for the rest of his life and keeps sledgehammering dudes instead.

7/10

If Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson were to make a third-person action game, this would be it as every problem in the universe, including international diplomacy, extra-terrestrial mining, and freedom fighting is solved using a hammer. Once the even more stupid than usual story quickly goes off and sulks in a corner, the delirious, spectacular action takes centre stage and a daft grin starts to etch itself onto your face. As a generous helping of gravy, you then start getting new weapons and they’re all tremendous fun and / or unexpectedly cool. Which offsets the fact that, thanks to the all-powerful sledgehammer, you don’t need any of them. Perhaps Red Faction: Guerrilla’s most notable achievement is that the destructibility of the world is particularly well designed and communicated: you always know what can be destroyed and what can’t; most unusual.

This game contains sexual swear words and extreme sledgehammer violence, gun and fantasy gun violence.

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.

Links

Rise of the Argonauts (2008, PC) – 7/10 action RPG game review

Cast / crew
Lead Designer: Charley Price
Writer (Story): Rico Sablan
Lead Programmer: Matthew Altman
Lead Engineer: Ted Cipicchio
Casting and Voice Director: Kris Zimmerman Salter
Producer: David Marino
Brian Bloom: Jason

Rise of the Argonauts (2008)

Jason, King of Iolcus, sees what should have been a triumphantly happy day turn to tragedy as his bride-to-be is assassinated on their wedding day. Refusing to accept her death, he determines to track down and retrieve the long-lost, presumed mythical Golden Fleece, capable of restoring life.

7/10

Entertaining, very easy-to-play light RPG with good characters and story but under-developed, if grind-free, action. It makes a nice change to play an aspirational character: someone wise, respectful, and well-spoken. As brought to life through Brian Bloom’s good voice acting, Jason is a largely admirable character who could easily inspire others to accompany him to the ends of the earth and beyond. It’s a pleasure, almost a privilege, to be in his company. This feels like a game made with ambition and love and it’s difficult to fathom some of the contemporary hatred directed toward it. Sure there are a lot of lo-res textures, there is an unfortunate comedy pause between a lot of sentences and PC users have their patience tested with a persistent if unpredictable crash-to-desktop during conversation trees but this is a game featuring guards that open the doors for you in your palace, i.e., it makes you feel like a king, like a good hero, and that’s a little bit special.

This game contains extreme and graphic violence.

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

Links

Shatter (2009, Block Breaker, PS3 timed exclusive) – 7/10 game review

Cast / crew
Original Conception: Andy Satterthwaite
Executive Producer: Andy Satterthwaite
Executive Producer: Mario Wynands
Producer: Alan Bell
Lead Programmer: Christian Schladetsch
Lead Programmer: Rory McCarthy
Composer: Jeramiah Ross

Shatter (2009)

7/10

This is an excellent block breaker with a nice new idea (blowing and sucking the ball) and levels that do not suffer from the last block blight of every other game in the genre. However, the most outstanding contribution of the game is from composer Jeramiah Ross who supplies a nostalgic, fitting and uplifting soundtrack. The game is good, the music is great.

Legendary (2008, Fantasy Action Shooter, 360) – 7/10 game review

Cast / crew
Producer: John Garcia-Shelton
Lead Designer: Stephen J. Skelton
Lead Engineer: Ike Macoco
Writer (Story): Eric Church
Writer (Story): Stephen J. Skelton
Writer (Screenplay): Stephen J. Skelton
Writer (Screenplay): Tiffany Chu
Fay Masterson: Vivian
Enn Reitel: LeFey
Lloyd Sherr: Lexington

Legendary (2008)

Deckard, an ugly art thief, is hired to steal the contents of a box from a museum. When he attempts to open the box, it destroys the museum and New York and lets out all kinds of fantastical presumed-mythical creatures. It seems his employer left out one tiny teeny piece of ever-so-slightly critical information – the box is Pandora’s Box – and Deckard has just inadvertently unleashed the end of the world as we know it.

7/10

Every game reviewer in the world must have been on their period or something when Spark Unlimited released this but it is a spectacular shooter with terrific creature design both visually and tactically. Now it does start badly with a critical but optional prologue and an extremely ugly guy going through an extremely unpleasant cut-scene. You presume he’s a bad guy but, distressingly, he’s you. Fortunately, the game itself is much better. The fantastical creatures put up a significant challenge at all times requiring (a lot of) bullets and tactics to defeat while the human enemies provide a good change of pace. The level design is functional and urges you through the game at an entertaining pace. So why the hatefully poor reviews? Some of the elements such as shooting and jumping are a hair off just right, the artists can’t do faces, while some invisible scenery and spawning enemies provide small annoyances. At the end of the day, though, I think it was snobbishness. Legendary is a decent game with good ideas and a unique scenario but from an unfashionable developer. It never had a chance.

This game contains mild swear words and extended extreme gun and axe violence, fantasy violence, extremely gory, violent and extremely unpleasant scenes.

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

Heavy Rain (2010, Serial Killer Mystery Adventure, PS3 exclusive) – 7/10 game review

Cast / crew
Writer: David Cage
Director: David Cage
Producer: Charles Coutier
Pascal Langdale: Ethan Mars
Jacqui Ainsley: Madison Paige
Judi Beecher: Madison Paige
Sam Douglas: Scott Shelby
Leon Ockenden: Norman Jayden

Heavy Rain (2010)

Ethan Mars is put to the test by a serial killer who abducts his son, Shaun, and then offers him the location of his son in return for completing five extreme tasks before Shaun drowns in a well of ever-rising rainwater.

7/10

Because it’s so close to brilliant, inadequacies in story and acting feel rather more important than they are. The story both makes more sense and falls apart once the identity of the killer is revealed and the acting, especially from the children, is not as good as you’d expect; it’s not as good as in animated movies. However, this should not diminish the sterling achievement in fashioning this near-masterpiece, a largely satisfying interactive serial killer mystery thriller in the vein of Seven. Here is a game that makes you feel joy when rebonding with your son (The Park) and shock when you SPOILER think you haven’t rescued him in time at the end; a game that makes you feel something other than satisfaction or excitement (though it also does that brilliantly) is certainly a must-play.

This game contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue and fictional substance abuse and strong violence, some graphic violence, unpleasant scenes, an extremely unpleasant scene and nudity, lesbian sensuality, optional sex scene.

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

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires (2006, Tactical Action, 360) – 7/10 game review

Cast / crew
Director: Yoshihiro Kishimoto
Director: Jun Takato

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires (2006)

7/10

While featuring simple graphics with a terribly short draw-distance, Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires redeems itself with charm and surprisingly fun gameplay. Playing on Normal or higher requires tactical thought to be combined with the button-mashing combat and makes victories agreeably satisfying. A lack of any in-game instructions hides the mechanisms for equipping weapons, mounts (you can ride a horse or an elephant) and items but once discovered, it supplies a whole new dimension and confidence in the game.

This game contains 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.

Forza Motorsport 3 (2009, Driving Simulator) – 7/10 360 exclusive game review

Cast / crew
Game Designer: Dan Greenawalt

Forza Motorsport 3 (2009)

Race online or offline against up to seven opponents in most of the world’s most desirable cars from dozens of car manufacturers on scores of tracks set in twenty-one international locations (including new to the series Amalfi Coast, Benchmark High Speed Ring, Camino Viejo de Montserrat, Sedona Raceway Park, and returning favourite Fujimi Kaido). Customise them mechanically and visually and buy, share or sell tuning setups and designs on the new Forza Storefront.

7/10

Despite suspiciously glowing contemporary reviews and brazenly making eyes at casual gamers (you can complete the game and get a lot of the achievements almost without driving a single lap), FM3 is more hardcore than ever because only they will be able to extract any satisfaction from it. The casual gamer will give up before even a single lap is through thanks to AI that clearly doesn’t obey the same laws of physics you do, the fact that you can’t touch anything other than tarmac, wheels still seem to spin or lock with traction control and anti-lock brakes turned on, and an extremely uninvolving, if fluid, default driving experience. It is instantly dull and even more so in the uncommunicative cockpit view (almost imperceptible head movement). However, if you learn to drive with your assists off and spend time tuning your cars and avoid the cockpit view, you will be rewarded with a very good driving model and reasonable driving experience and you will appreciate the wealth of cars and superb original tracks presented with beautiful, crisp graphics at a marvellous sixty frames-per-second. Once here, it is, as before, bafflingly addictive but, even with that, you’re unlikely to play the game through to it’s 125-hour conclusion. Told you it was hardcore.

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

Links

Need for Speed: Carbon (2006, 360) – 7/10 open-world police / street racing game review

Cast / crew
Emmanuelle Vaugier: Nikki
Tahmoh Penikett: Darius

Need for Speed: Carbon (2006)

Returning from Rockport, you find yourself communicating with your fellow human beings in the only way you know how: beating them in races.

7/10

This has the same serious performance problems as Most Wanted which is, twelve months later, entirely unacceptable. This renders the weakest mode in the game, Canyon Drifting, extraordinarily taxing if not necessarily impossible. You are not afforded the minute control over your vehicle required to finesse the tight curves and this makes the Challenge Series mode of the game beyond the reach of all but those players who record their dedication and amazingness on YouTube. Both of them. It should be noted that the facial modeling and mouth animation in the game is outstanding though, really oddly, the car animation is atrocious. The major problems are a great shame as the game is largely highly playable, impressively tweakable and great fun; Most Wanted permanently at night with fairer and more fun police and opponent AI.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Race Driver: Grid (2008, PS3, 360) – 7/10 car racing game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Gavin Raeburn
Senior Producer: Clive Moody
Associate Producer: Darren Campion
Chief Game Designer: Ralph Fulton

Racedriver: Grid (2008)

7/10

Grid is an apparently dumbed-down racing game but it boasts significant challenge without, rather cleverly, ever letting the player get stuck. The dumbing-down comes in the handling. There is absolutely no communication with any of the cars and no feeling of tyres gripping tarmac making the, er, distinctive handling difficult to fathom and master. No recognisable sense of momentum, slipstream or downforce and little sense of tyre grip. Add to this, AI opponents made of some sort of concrete rubber (touching them even lightly invariably sees you pinging off, usually into a wall) that cannot be PIT-ed while you regularly are, a broken 24-hour race (you are, staggeringly, never allowed to finish the race and cars have no lights on the external views) and replay music which could qualify as torture, a pointless team-mate, the inexplicably universal next-gen fake tan, and Grid starts to pile up irritations for the racing game fan. Talking of piling up, however, brings us to Grid’s party piece and saving grace: jostling into cars and scenery always results in always impressive and fun damage. The potential annoyance of this is mitigated by a brilliant rewind feature and when you learn a bit of humility and start using it, the game is mostly good fun.

Classified 7+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 7 or over.
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.

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Medal of Honor: European Assault (2005, WWII First-Person Shooter, Xbox) – 7/10 game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Rick Giolito
Executive Producer: Dan Winters
Lead Designer Single Player: Jon Paquette
Lead Designer Multiplayer: Éric Chartrand
Design Director: Christopher Cross
Writer (Story): John Milius
Writer: John Milius
Writer: Adam Foshko

Medal of Honor: European Assault (2005)

American Lt. William Holt fights the Nazi’s in France, North Africa, Russia and Belgium.

7/10

One thing the Medal of Honor games have never overlooked is reminding us that these games are based on real people in real events in a real war. That is really sobering, as it should be. Generally, this is a very well-designed game so it is a shame to report that the final level is broken (you have to play half-an-hour to get to a point where you die almost instantly over and over and over) and that German soldiers can shoot you regardless of where their gun is pointing. Otherwise, boss Nazi’s, multiple optional secondary objectives, great controls and eye-catching animations are folded, along with an outstanding soundscape, into the superb atmosphere that is the hallmark of the Medal of Honor series. Shame about the broken final level.

This game contains mild swear words and war violence, extended gun violence, melee violence.

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.

Links

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend (2006, 360) – 7/10 puzzle platform action adventure game review

AmazonBuy Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend at Amazon

Cast / crew
Lara Croft: Keeley Hawes
Senior Producer: Matthew Guzenda
Producer: Morgan Gray
Technical Director: Jason Bell
Lead Programmer: Rob Pavey
Lead Programmer Player Character: Gary Snethen
Lead Level Designer: Martin Dufour
Story Designer: Eric Lindstrom
Writer (Dialogue): Aaron Vanian

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)

Lara returns to ghosts past as she attempts to recover pieces of a sword that killed her mother when Lara was a girl.

7/10

This is a good, entertaining game marred by shoddy technical issues. Almost every death (even on the hardest difficulty which I played it on) comes from these issues including the camera angle changing the effects of your directional buttons, frame-rate problems causing unresponsive face buttons and an auto-lock-on system which frequently targets off-screen, out-of-range elements. The inconsistent frame rate spoils the visuals but it generally looks pretty good, especially Miss Croft herself (my favourite outfit to play in is the ripped red evening dress), and the special smoke, water, explosion and lighting effects are terrific. Special mention for an unusual and highly welcome time trial mode which challenges you to get through each cleared level within a certain time. I’d like to see that on all suitable games.

This game contains mild swear words, Gun violence, melee violence, supernatural 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.

Links

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions (2002, Driving Action, Xbox) – 7/10 game review

Cast / crew
Producer: Masumi Nagaya
Programmer Lead: Masumi Nagaya

Wreckless: Yakuza Missions, The (2002)

7/10

Graphically marvellous game with extremely busy city streets the action-packed and destructive environment for some insane vehicular action. There’s no guns, no swearing, no blood and no walking unlike many vehicle action games and it is better for it. However, the handling is horrible and makes a challenging game very difficult, sometimes frustratingly so. Make sure you have something soft to throw your gamepad at. Or your Xbox. Or your dog. Or your relatives.