Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus (PS3 exclusive, 2013) – 8/10 action game review

Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus (2013)

Ratchet, Clank, Kronk and Zephyr are transporting intergalactic baddie Zendra Prog to prison when her brother catches up to them and breaks her out. Ratchet and Clank wind up marooned on a nearby planet and have to catch Zendra and put her back where she belongs. However, they’re going to need help from an unexpected source.

8/10

Into the Nexus‘ constantly evolving gameplay features lots of toys, lots of fun and lots of quality shooting; there’s so much opportunity for majestic overkill. It helps that these adventures are always good-natured in tone with a friendly feeling between Ratchet and Clank, smack-talking henchmen who aren’t above receiving a good jump-scare and even a scene where someone keeps their word and goes to prison willingly. Nexus‘ antagonists Vendra and Neftin Prog are good value but no Dr. Nefarious. It’s such a shame that the frame rate doesn’t remain smooth; Ratchet and Clank really should be prioritising a 60 frames per second update yet Nexus doesn’t maintain 30. Though it feels impressively frenetic and remains playable, the 30 fps at best means that it is difficult to track anything on screen.

Content Summary

This game contains violence

Cast / crew

Ratchet: James Arnold Taylor
Clank: David Kaye

Links

de Blob 2 (2011, PS3) – 8/10 action platform painting game review

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Cast / crew
Dedicated To and Environment Artist: Russell Hughes
Game Director: Nick Hagger
Art Director: Terry Lane
Lead Artist: Lewis Mitchell
Lead Animator: Shannon Caldwell
Lead Audio: John Guscott
Lead Designer: Mark Morrison
Lead Designer: Christian Canton
Lead Level Designer: Andrew Trevillian
Level Designer 2D: Bryan Duffy
Lead Programmer: Dan Khoan Chau
Audio Programmer: Lindsay Loughlin
Graphics Programmer: Jarrod Smith
Graphics Programmer: Florian Strauss
Technical Director: Graeme Webb
Project Manager: Chris Slater
Music Composer and Producer: John Guscott
Voice Casting and Direction: Douglas Carrigan
Dee Bradley Baker: Blob, Prof, Bif, Inky Scientist, Shepherds, Raydians
Candi Milo: Pinky, Spiky, Graydians

de Blob 2 (2011)

Unsurprisingly, Prisma City’s general election is going very well for Papa Blanc, as he has rigged the voting booths with mechanical arms that always vote for him. Once he has swept to power, he is revealed to be Comrade Black who proceeds to drain the city of colour once more. Only Blob and the Colour Underground can restore things but are they playing into Black’s hands?

8/10

Gentle, tinkly gameplay, beautiful visuals (the reds, greens and blues are particularly gorgeous and there is some excellent non-player animation) and high quality sound make de Blob 2 a good all-ages platformer well worth playing, but awkward jumping from uneven terrain, unintelligent targeting and some infuriating checkpointing mean it is oddly wearisome. John Guscott and Lindsay Loughlin’s dynamic music is wonderful and the large levels feel full of life and happiness when you’ve restored colour to them and how lovely is that?

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.

Links

Driveclub™ (2014, PS4 exclusive) – 8/10 racing game review

Driveclub™ (2014, PS4 exclusive) – 8/10 racing game review

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Cast / crew
Game Director: Paul Rustchynsky

Driveclub™ (2014)

8/10

Serious launch errors and delayed features (replays, photo-mode and weather) have undermined Driveclub and shapeless mobile game presentation will continue to undermine it but the thrilling experience of driving on spectacular, fun, original tracks make this a racing game to relish. A racing game isn’t likely to differentiate itself through a real world car list (GT6‘s Vision Gran Turismo and Red Bull X programme excepted) but through the track list. Driveclub‘s beautiful tracks are expertly designed so that they can be bounced around but accuracy will always give you lap time and sweet satisfaction. Driving them in a different class of car is like driving a new track; you discover new yumps and curves just because you’re travelling in a much faster car. It is entirely wonderful and helped by a choice of superb exterior and interior driving views. Even without the Challenge system and consistently working leaderboards (most of my times do not upload even though I’m connected to Driveclub‘s servers and earning Club points), Driveclub‘s outstanding racing and driving experience is enough to recommend it.

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

Links

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom (2010, PS3) – 8/10 fantasy action game review

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Cast / crew
Director: Yoshiki Okamoto

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom (2010)

At the urging of the forest animals, a thief makes his way into the castle in Q’umarkaj with the aim of finding out what’s causing the darkness that is devastating their habitat. Inside he finds a giant creature imprisoned and weakened and it’s clear that, whatever the darkness is, this Majin is the key to clearing it. However, the Majin, Teotl, cannot do it alone: he’ll need a friend.

8/10

Just let the title screen sit and play the attract sequence. That trailer and, especially, the main musical theme is entirely wonderful: uplifting, heroic and full of promise, inspiration and hope. It sets up the mood of the game perfectly which is warm and charming as you befriend a giant, somewhat clumsy, creature named Teotl with whom you will thoroughly enjoy this adventure. One of the main ways this is achieved is because each of you can only be healed by the other. A lovely moment that is replayed delightfully is when you pick fruit to boost and restore Teotl’s power, you can hear Teotl excitingly burble in salivating anticipation. Developer Game Republic and publisher Namco Bandai must have been tremendously disappointed with sales, not just because they were about half what was expected but because this is a good, fun, original, accessible and unusual game. Everyone did a good job and still too few bought it.

This game contains extreme fantasy violence

Classified 12+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 12 or over.

Links

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends (2012, PC) – 8/10 racing game review

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Cast / crew
Additional Design and Head of Studio: Ian Bell
Additional Design and Development Director: Andy Garton
Additional Design and Chief Operations Officer: Stephen Viljoen
Creative Director: Andy Tudor
Producer: Suzy Wallace
Technical Director: Ged Keaveney
Audio Director and Composer: Stephen Baysted
Sound Designer: Greg Hill

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends (2012)

8/10

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends is yet another game unlovingly belched out by Atari before it was quite ready. Yet despite the sometimes iffy frame rate and PS1-era pop-up on Spa, a rough diamond shines through. This is a challenging but visceral and satisfying game with fun handling on Normal, attention-demanding on Pro; communicative on both. It really showcases the differences in performance characteristics between road and race cars and between generations. There is also an unusually accurate sense of speed in that your speeds feels different when you are travelling fast or slow. A lot of car games always feel like they’re going at a million miles per hour regardless of the car you’re in (see Grid 2). There are a number of tracks we’ve never driven in an officially licensed commercially available product such as Rouen and Enna Pergusa; there’s a welcome return for old Hockenheim, sort-of old Imola, old Silverstone and a top fantasy track in Misty Loch. The career mode throws up a pleasing variety of tasks and is surprisingly satisfying, especially once Mansley shows up. On Hard difficulty and Pro handling, this is an entertaining handful and a very stern challenge but there are three difficulty levels and two handling models to ensure that your time with the game is satisfying and fun.

This game contains

LEGO® Lord of the Rings (2012, PSVita) – 8/10 action game review

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Cast / crew

LEGO® Lord of the Rings (2012)

8/10

Successfully imbuing adorable tiny LEGO characters with the feeling of their big-screen counterparts (Gimli always raises a smile running into walls and I love the thwang of Legolas’ archery), this is a wonderfully honed jaunt through Middle-Earth. TT’s usual problem with communicating what you’re supposed to do in boss battles is present and correct but otherwise this is a slick, delightful experience. Interestingly, this game contains a bonus Big Head mode and it shows just how well designed all the characters are; giving them Big Heads makes them look awful. It demonstrates what a knife-edge there is between charismatic, cute, charming and off-putting and uninvolving. The designs and animations of the characters are genuinely perfect.

This game contains

Crash Time IV aka Alarm for Cobra 11: The Syndicate (2010, Games for Windows Live PC) – 8/10 action racing game

Cast / crew

Crash Time IV aka Alarm for Cobra 11: The Syndicate (2010)

A crime syndicate has sullied Ben and Semir’s patch and they’ll need to employ informants and surveillance cameras and car chases to rack up the arrests and get their city nice and clean again.

8/10

I love these games. I love that the prison transport driver is a total lunatic. I love the fact that I was slightly disappointed that Synetic’s menu was completely intelligible and usable. In this particular outing, I also love the handling and would claim it is some of the best in an action racer ever. Why? At all speeds, it allows you to do what you’re trying to do, specifically you can consistently drive between traffic, even oncoming traffic, at any speed without crashing. This is extremely impressive (and produces some amazing moments); for a test, try doing the same in the much-lauded Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit from the same year. You can’t, Hot Pursuit’s handling isn’t precise enough. But Cobra 11‘s is. It also has a terrific car roster. Cars with caravans seem to have disappeared from the roads but in the forty-vehicles we get to drive are a monster truck, a golf cart and one of those ginormous dumper trucks alongside the usual array of passenger and sports cars, SUV’s and, still uniquely I believe, articulated lorries. It even has an amusing ending where Ben and Semir SPOILER get sent on a two-month holiday so the city can recover from all the damage they cause.

This game contains violence

Links

Beyond Good & Evil (2003, 2011 PS3) – 8/10 action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Director, Game Designer and Story Writer: Michel Ancel
Producer: Yves Guillemot
Dialogue and Story Writer: Jacques Exertier
Game Designer: Sebastien Morin
Technical Manager: Christophe Beaudet

Beyond Good & Evil (2003)

Jade and her uncle Pey’j are looking after orphans in their lighthouse when it is attacked by the DomZ. After dealing with them, the cities’ Alpha Section show up and take all the credit but that’s not all they’re up to. Re-released in 2011 on HD platforms.

8/10

A fun, engrossing and charming adventure whose only shortcoming lies in a malevolently awkward camera. Beyond Good and Evil feels like it was crafted by a master craftsman, someone who knew what they were doing. There’s just enough challenge to get you to pay attention; there are just enough optional areas to make you feel like an explorer and, in gameplay it should be noted, just enough running away from explosions in slow motion to make you feel like a hero. This is a review of the highly welcome HD release.

This game contains violence, unpleasant scenes

SOCOM: Special Forces (2011, PS3 exclusive) – 8/10 third-person / first-person tactical squad modern military shooter game review

Cast / crew
Technical Director: Jason Tartaglia
Game Director: Seth Luisi
Production Director: Alan Van Slyke
Producer: Thomas Rigas
Writer and Lead Designer: Travis Steiner
Art Director: Phil Knowles
Lead Programmer: Troy Mason
Software Manager: David Burton
Creative Director and Writer: Ed Byrne
Writer: Rafael Chandler
Matthew Del Negro: Ops Com
Nolan North: Gorman
Gwendoline Yeo: Forty-Five

SOCOM: Special Forces aka SOCOM 4: Navy Seals (2011)

A NATO Operation Commander finds himself trapped in Malaysia with only his two squad members when a revolution takes out the NATO Command Centre and a host of Private Military Company ClawHammer support ships. Miffed at having a helicopter nearly land on his face, he decides not to scamper away but to take the fight to them.

8/10

Though it didn’t find itself join the Call of Duty pie it appears to have been hoping for (less than 800,000 sold – vgchartz), SOCOM: Special Forces is a great-looking, intense, and involving tactical shooter. The British lead character (who amusingly hates fruit and sausages) makes for a different feel to the US-dominated hero stable of shooters and there is an interesting structure where a number of missions see you conduct a solo stealth mission the night before going in with the full five-man squad the following day. It’s amazing how different a map looks during the day or night. However, the nature of the game means that your colleague’s complete lack of survival instinct is horribly apparent. Why don’t they try to avoid being shot, run away or seek cover when under fire? To be fair, they’re largely critically useful and you make a deadly team, especially if you make use of the enemy marking command (essential for the last stand in Mission 13 on Elite, I found) but you do die an awful lot while they stand around getting needlessly riddled with bullets or admiring flowers or practising their grizzledness. Still, very good game and I enjoyed it a lot.

This game contains sexual swear words, graphic violence, anti-sausage dialogue

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

Forza Horizon (2012, 360-exclusive) – 8/10 open-world racing game review

Cast / crew

Forza Horizon (2012)

8/10

The handling is exquisite, beyond anything yet experienced in an open-world racer, and the racing is challenging and fun (I love my Koenigsegg) but the environment graphics aren’t quite as good as they appear in screenshots. The colour scheme (all brown, unless it’s night when it’s all black, haven’t game makers heard of high beam), shallow view distance (good luck distinguishing concrete freeway off-ramp walls, junctions or even other cars during daylight) and forgettable scenery and roads even in daylight mean that, in motion, it is very challenging to remember tracks or routes or, on the freeway challenges, see far enough down the road ahead. It also has an excrutiating framework (a festival; think Motorstorm without the bravado but more voice-over), an embarrassingly cheating final race (when you get the car that keeps whupping you, it goes 40mph slower) and, appropriately for a Forza game, absolutely no heart. Also appropriately for a Forza game, the driving saves it.

This game contains sexual swear words in songs.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss (2011, PlayStation Vita) – 8/10 action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Writer and Director: John Garvin
Technology Director: Christopher Reese
Production Manager: Gerald Harrison
Lead Engineer: Joseph C. Adzima
Lead Environment Artist: Francois Gilbert
Story Consultant: Amy Hennig
Nolan North: Nathan “Nate” Drake and Jose Parrot
Richard McGonagle: Victor “Sully” Sullivan
Jason Spisak: Jason Dante
Christine Lakin: Marisa Chase (only her grandfather calls her Marisa)
J.B. Blanc: Roberto Guerro

Uncharted: Golden Abyss (2011)

Brought on as consultant with fellow treasure hunter Jason Dante, Nathan Drake is in a Panamanian jungle thinking he’s helping an buddy out but is about to find himself up to his ears in double-crosses, malevolent generals, gunfire and gold. So, after hooking up with an attractive female companion, very much business as usual.

8/10

This is a spectacular, beautiful, fun, challenging and addictive must-buy game. You’ll be wanting to play it when you’re not but not always when you are. The reason is the same as that which blighted Uncharted 3, particularly: the story and characters can’t support the killing – or defeating as the game’s trophies coyly, or deceitfully, put it – of this many bad guys. Still, the encounters are all exciting with well-judged difficulty, meaning forward momentum isn’t halted for too long. Some of Drake’s new investigative abilities are highly welcome. I loved the rubbing and jigsaws and using a real world light to see hidden symbols and the peculiar but charming way he claps his hands together after regaining his balance.

This game contains bad language and strong violence.

Links

Dirt 3 (2011) – 8/10 multi-surface racing game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Clive Moody
Senior Producer: Darren Campion
Art Director: Nathan Fisher
Lead Programmer: Andrew Dennison
Design Manager: Matthew Horsman
Project Planner: Richard Todd
Associate Producer: Toby Evan-Jones

DiRT 3 (2011)

Multi-surface racing against the clock and other drivers.

8/10

With handling even better than Dirt 2 and class-leading graphics, saying this is better than it’s only competitor – Milestone’s WRC‘s 2010 and 2011 – is giving it feint praise. An uninvolving Career mode (the original DiRT used a pyramid progression much more enticingly – the point of a pyramid is to get to the top, literally the point) means that it takes a while for the fun and satisfying driving experience to get it’s pleasure hooks into you. I didn’t like the Gymkhana events at all but the related at-your-leisure Battersea Compound Missions are a nice change-of-pace.

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

Links

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (2011, PS3) – 8/10 giant insect and robot third-person co-op shooter game review

Cast / crew

Earth Defence Force: Insect Armageddon (2011)

8/10

There was some concern that Earth Defense Force would miss the endearingly naïve atmosphere engendered by original Japanese developer Sandlot during this hiatus but Vicious Cycle have successfully not broken anything. Graphically, it is smoother and more polished but the loss of EDF2017‘s best-video-game-explosions-ever is keenly felt, there are definitely less giant ants about, the new robots aren’t as memorable and the enemies aren’t as clearly coloured and designed as Sandlot’s menagerie. However, they’ve restored the PS2 Global Defence Force’s soldier classes, split-screen co-op works better than ever (this is one of the few games to support dual-login and trophies on PS3), the Pesticide Cannon rules and it retains the series core: it is simple, unadulterated fun blasting giant insects. Special mention for the deliberately cheese-tastically hilarious ending if you completed the game on Inferno. "My name’s actually Roger." Awesome!

This game contains bad language and violence.

Links

Darksiders (2010, Windows PC) – 8/10 platforming action game review

Cast / crew
Liam O’Brien: War
Creative Director: Joe Madureira
Lead Designer: Haydn Dalton
Lead Developer: David Adams

Darksiders (2010)

After hearing a ruckus on Earth, Horseman of the Apocalypse War wades in and starts doing his thing only to find out that this isn’t the time for Armageddon at all and something has gone terribly wrong.

8/10

This Apocalyptic monster mash is a lot of fun with a refreshingly bright and unusual look (War looks like he’s balancing his own tiny head on everything he’s ever found and the giant hands and feet are surprisingly cool). The game design itself is also well done with lots of well-communicated puzzles, lots of weapons and toys, piles of agreeable demon-slicing and tons of confused weighty pomposity to go round.

This game contains extended extreme fantasy violence.

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

Links

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (2010, PS3) – 8/10 fantasy action game review

Cast / crew
Director: Enric Álvarez
Writer (Story): Enric Álvarez
Writer (Story): Luis Miguel Quijada
Writer: Enric Álvarez
Writer: Dave Cox
Writer: Eddie Deighton
Writer: Jon Sloan
Technical Lead: Carlos Rodríguez
Technical Lead: Jose González
Game Programming Lead: Darío Halle
Lead Level Designer: Daniel Alcázar
Music Producer and Composer: Óscar Araujo
Patrick Stewart: Zobek
Natascha McElhone: Marie
Robert Carlyle: Gabriel
Jason Isaacs: Satan

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (2010)

Gabriel Belmont, a Knight of the Brotherhood of Light, as sent to the Lake of Oblivion and begins an odyssey to defeat the Lords of Shadow, prevent the end of the world and resurrect his murdered wife.

8/10

It cannot be overstated how good this game looks; alongside the Batman: Arkham-games, this is probably the best-looking cross-platform game available on console. It’s technically lovely with lots of details and nice shadows and lighting but it’s also invariably spectacular and interesting and full of atmosphere (helped no end by Óscar Araujo’s lovely music). The combat is aiming for God of War and it does hit those heights, albeit not consistently. Gabriel’s whip feels a bit weedier than it should and, between endlessly blocking and dodging, you frequently don’t seem to have time to use any of the moves you’ve learned but, brilliantly, the game doesn’t need to offer XP to artificially boost your artifical skill. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow requires and educates you to genuinely boost your own genuine skill. It’s not as well done as the God of War games but, then, nothing is.

This game contains bad language and gory fantasy violence and nudity.

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

Links

Rango (2011) – 8/10 third-person action movie tie-in game review

Cast / crew
Producer: Lorne Nudel
Production Manager: Nicholas Lachapelle
Creative Director: Chris Ferriera
Senior Game Designer: Matthew Jackson
Game Designer: Paolo Pace
Game Designer: Jonathan Cournoyer
Lead Level Designer: Sébastien Bouzac
Technical Lead Level Designer: Jean-François Boulanger
Lead Programmer: François Bédard
Lead Animator: Stéphane Tardil
Jared Butler: Rango

Rango (2011)

When Slim is evaporated by a glowing meteorite, Rango relays the truth of the rocks and the tale of how he, the Sheriff, saved the town from Bad Bill. But Bad Bill is just the start…

8/10

This is a properly good game that just happens to be a movie tie-in. It’s really good fun, has a jolly atmosphere, and boasts crisp gameplay that is a mix of rightfully-lauded PS3-exclusives Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank and is fun, frantic and rewarding. Graphics are good with terrific work on faces and eyes, especially, brought to life with some expert animation. Voice-work for Rango himself is from not-Johnny Depp Jared Butler and music composed by not-Hans Zimmer Lorne Balfe and are rather brilliant, jovial and engaging. A little gem of a game and an easy, quick and fun Platinum trophy to boot.

This game contains violence.

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Dragon Age: Origins – The Darkspawn Chronicles (2010) – 8/10 fantasy action role-playing game alternate history DLC review

Cast / crew
Lead Designer: Rob Bartel
Lead Writer: Rob Bartel
Technical Designer: Mark Barazzuol
Technical Designer: David Sitar
Technical Designer: Josh Stiksma
Cinematic Designer: Jonathan Epp
Lead Audio Designer: Matt Besler
Audio Designer: Terry Fairfield
Lead Producer: Fernando Melo
Producer: Dan Lazin

Dragon Age: Origins Darkspawn Chronicles, The (2010)

Alternate history DLC. One Grey Warden remains, one threat to the Archdemon: the King of Ferelden, Alistair. He has gathered allies and armies but the Archdemon has endless hordes of Darkspawn at her disposal and has got herself a Hurlock Vanguard (the player) to slay the heroes and ensure darkness triumphs.

8/10

Though it’s not at all obvious that this takes place in an alternate history where your would-be Grey Warden died in the initial joining ceremony and Alistair became the Warden-King who led Ferelden into battle against the Darkspawn, this is a fun expansion with something of a studio tour feel. Look there’s Arl Howe! Look there’s Ohgren! Ooh, there’s Leliana! No way, it’s Morrigan! Though a studio tour where you’re equipped with a hulking great sword and then proceed to mow down all the stars. Terrific fun.

This Dragon Age: Origins game contains strong, gory violence with an hilarious option to leave you peppered with gravity resistant blood splatters that are way too big.

Links

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Dragon Age: Origins (2009) – 8/10 fantasy action role-playing game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Dan Tudge
Project Director: Dan Tudge
Executive Producer: Mark Darrah
Project Director: Mark Darrah
Lead Designer: Brent Knowles
Lead Designer: Mike Laidlaw
Lead Designer: James Ohlen
Art Director: Dean Andersen
Lead Programmer: Ross Gardner
Voice Over Producer and Director: Caroline Livingstone
Producer: Derek French
Producer: Vanessa Kade
Producer: Kevin Loh
Producer: Kyle Scott
Engine Architect: Derek Beland
Engine Architect: Paul Roffel
Peter Renaday: Duncan
Kate Mulgrew: Flemeth
Tim Curry: Arl Howe
Corinne Kempa: Leliana
Simon Templeman: Loghain
Claudia Black: Morrigan
Steven J. Blum: Oghren
Mark Hildreth: Sten
Susan Boyd Joyce: Wynne
Jon Curry: Zevran

Dragon Age: Origins (2009)

The Land of Ferelden, home to humans, elves and dwarves, is under attack by a Darkspawn horde invigorated by the discovery and release of an Archdemon. As the Grey Wardens prepare to do their duty and lead Ferelden’s army into battle – for only they can slay an Archdemon – the treacherous Teryn Loghain is about to seize this opportunity to take control of the country.

8/10

This turns out to be a great game thanks to the sheer weight of fun, interesting, intriguing and surprising gameplay and story that follows an uninvolving start – something typical of the genre. Story writers for games just refuse to learn that the player will not have an emotional attachment just because you tell them a character is your mother or father. So you aren’t bothered when they’re killed. Later on, after spending fifty hours with other characters, you are bothered when they leave you to become a wandering drunk, you stubborn, stupid entirely understandable fool. While there’s no sense that the world carries on without you and characters with their clothes off look bizarre, the game (on PC) looks terrific, quests frequently feature interesting decisions, the generous spots of humour show welcome humanity, and the rewarding combat is as simple or tactical as you want it (and can be altered during gameplay at any time without penalty, thank you). Though it should have just been called Dragon Age. What is it with Americans and their subtitles? They sure love them some colons.

This game contains bad language, adult dialogue and strong, gory violence with an hilarious option to leave you peppered with gravity resistant blood splatters that are way too big and sex scenes.

Classified 18+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for adults who have reached the age of 18 or over..

Links

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Pigsy’s Perfect 10 (2011 DLC for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, PS3) – 8/10 third-person action game review

Cast / crew
Writer (Story): Mat Hart
Writer (Story): Jon Ashley
Richard Ridings: Pigsy
Marc Silk: Truffles
Music: Nitin Sawhney
Development Director: Nina Kristensen
Technical Director: Mike Ball
Creative Director: Tameem Antoniades
Head of Production: Mat Hart

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Pigsy’s Perfect 10 (2011)

Pigsy decides to make himself a perfect companion and, after carefully making plans, sets off with his robot buddy Truffles to collect the parts. However, they are all in Mech-patrolled territory and he will have to use all his cunning and gunning to make it through unscathed.

8/10

Pigsy ("I eat therefore I am") wants the perfect woman for a companion but it’s a relief to note that he never gets disasteful in this DLC pack for Enslaved like he did in the main game. There are gripes: checkpoints are only saved at chapter breaks, I didn’t realise that you could EMP and Bomb turrets (because in Enslaved, you can’t), there’s still some stuttering graphics and Pigsy’s abilities in this prequel disappear in the main game. However, Richard Ridings (Pigsy’s voice) is outstanding again, the design remains wonderfully detailed, the size and gameplay is satisfying and, perhaps most memorably, it’s got a really nice story; very sweet and worthwhile to experience.

This Enslaved: Odyssey to the West game contains robot violence.

Links

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010, PS3) – 8/10 third-person action game review

Cast / crew
Writer: Alex Garland
Writer: Tameem Antoniades
Andy Serkis: Monkey
Lindsey Shaw: Trip
Richard Ridings: Pigsy
Music: Nitin Sawhney
Dramatic Director: Andy Serkis
Dramatic Director: Tameem Antoniades
Development Director: Nina Kristensen
Technical Director: Mike Ball
Creative Director: Tameem Antoniades

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010)

A lucky break sees Monkey escape his captor’s bonds only to find himself plummeting to earth aboard a falling transport vessel. He’s not the only one, though, as a girl is racing toward the escape pods just ahead of him. While they both manage to escape, Monkey comes to after the crash landing to find himself in a situation he thought he’d just extricated himself from: enslaved; but this time to the girl who commands, needs, his help.

8/10

This is a great, fun game with a more interesting than usual story and characters let down by an intrusive lack of fluidity of the in-game camera and stuttery character traversal of uneven terrain. There is also a significant sound bug (on PS3, at least) and the game also crashed once. Yet the simple but satisfying combat (enhanced by the metal-bashing sound effects when they work), simple but satisfying gameplay, striking art direction and emotional investment in the characters are more than enough to overcome the technical deficiencies. The story offers up some funnies (one of Pigsy’s late lines in The Dam excepted), some intrigue (why were they on the ship at the start? Why did she do that? Why did he do that?) and solid audience involvement with characters brought to life, once more (after Heavenly Sword) by Andy Serkis; this time backed up brilliantly by Richard Ridings.

This game contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and violence against machines only, strong violence and unpleasant scenes in game over cut scenes.

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

Links

Call of Duty 2 (2005, 360) – 8/10 World War II first-person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Project Lead: Jason West
Executive Producer: Vince Zampella
Senior Design Lead: Zied Rieke
Art Lead: Michael Boon
Art Director: Richard Kriegler
Audio Lead: Mark Ganus
Design Lead: Todd Alderman
Design Lead: Steve Fukuda
Engineering Lead: Robert Field
Engineering Lead: Francesco Gigliotti
Engineering Lead: Earl Hammon, Jr.

Call of Duty 2 (2005)

Fight back against the Nazi war machine as and alongside British, American and Russian soldiers.

8/10

Great World War II game which benefits from fighting alongside lots of AI buddies and standard-setting, i.e., working, smoke grenades. Some annoyances like frequently getting stuck on scenery and afore-mentioned AI buddies who keep running in front of your gun sights (and insta-ending your game when shot and killed) are present but don’t greatly damage the atmosphere and intensity of the frequently pitch-perfect battles and shooting mechanics.

This game contains mild swear words and gun and knife war violence.

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

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F1 2010 (2010, Games for Windows Live) – 8/10 Formula 1 racing game review

Cast / crew
Senior Producer: Ian Flatt
Senior Producer: Paul Jeal
Game Designer: Stephen Hood
Technical Director: David Percival
Lead Programmer: Mike Stimpson
Lead Programmer: Neil Topham
Lead Programmer: Ryan Sammartino

F1 2010 (2010)

Formula 1 racing based on the 2010 season. Work your way up from the bottom over three, five or seven years to achieve the most prestigious prize in motorsport: the title of Formula 1 World Champion.

8/10

Authentically structured Formula 1 game undermined by the staggering choice not to employ any recognisable FOM television graphics and shipping with a few game-spoiling bugs. The excellent career mode sees you striving to work up from trying not to finish last, through sneaking into the points, being a top ten contender, grasping a rare podium, to winning a race on a favoured track and finally putting together a championship campaign with a top team. It brilliantly insists on having you go through practice and qualifying (which can be time-accelerated) and a minimum 20% race distance (all the way up to 100%) making every event feel like an event. The core racing experience is outstanding; they harry and overtake where possible and this may be the first racing game where I’ve never being unfairly taken out by AI. Gran Turismo 5 may be the best driving game on this console generation, but F1 2010 is the best racing game.

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

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MotoGP 09/10 (2010, PS3) – 8/10 motorcycle racing game review

Cast / crew
Design Director: Luke Smith
Art Director: Gylan Hunter
Senior Producer: Greg Bryant
Lead Software Engineer: Ian Sweeny
Lead Artist: Harvey Parker
Lead Designer: Tom Goodchild

MotoGP 09/10 (2010)

125cc, 250cc and MotoGP motorcycle racing based on the 2009 and 2010 seasons of MotoGP.

8/10

Successfully allowing the player to get into a flowing riding rhythm with a more accessible learning curve than is usual for motorcycle games, MotoGP 09/10 backs up the core fun racing experience (featuring AI that likes to throw overtaking attempts at you) with a good career mode that sees you juggling engineering research and sponsorship hunting in order to rise to the top as quickly as possible and make the most of your earning potential. Inexplicably, there is no on-screen reward for winning a race: no podium, no jingle, not even a win screen. There is also the barest of win screens for winning an entire championship. Nevertheless, the challenge of playing the game at a difficulty (Severe for me) that requires you to complete the research tasks to make your bike more competitive and move up the field during the season is most fulfilling.

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

Final Fantasy XIII (2009, PS3) – 8/10 JRPG game review

Cast / crew
Director: Motomu Toriyama
Scenario Designer: Motomu Toriyama
Main Programmer: Yoshiki Kashitani
Main Character Designer: Tetsuya Nomura
Writer (Scenario Concept) Stellavista: Kazushige Nojima
Writer (Lead Scenario): Daisuke Watanabe
Cut Scene Director: Koji Kobayashi
Movie Director: Takeshi Nozue
Movie Director: Eiji Fujii
Sound Director: Tomohiro Yajima
Producer: Yoshinori Kitase

Final Fantasy XIII (2009)

8/10

Final Fantasy XIII is like watching a favourite television DVD box set over the course of several weeks. It’s a genuinely beautiful game and, despite some typically baffling cut-scenes, connects emotionally. The tight focus on story line gameplay to the exclusion of the genre staples of fetch quests and dungeon trawling largely works very well so it’s a shame that some of the bosses require a bit of grinding before they become beatable. The story has a really interesting backbone whereby the planet’s most powerful inhabitants conspire to deliver a cataclysm so devastating that it forces The Creator, God, to return and do something about it. It makes you wonder whether that is what we’re doing to our own planet.

This game contains fantasy violence, unpleasant scenes.

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Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 5 (2010, PS3 exclusive) – 8/10 driving game review

Cast / crew
Producer: Kazunori Yamauchi
Director: Kazunori Yamauchi

Gran Turismo 5 aka GT5 (2010)

8/10

It’s so easy to say nothing’s changed but the B-spec mode and in-built track designer are unique for the sim genre, it probably has more cars than every other current driving game combined and the car models are, by some distance, the greatest ever seen in a game. Here’s why Gran Turismo 5 is so great, though. Because each car is different, you’ll come to a championship with a car you’d turn your nose up at but when you climb in you find it’s fun and interesting to drive and you get real pleasure out of driving and mastering it. Moaning about taking over-powered cars into events is counter-balanced by simply choosing not to do so and the Special Events and Licence Tests which control the rules more tightly provide a superbly pitched challenge. The rest of the game is just for fun and the pleasure of the most communicative and rewarding gamepad driving experience ever created. Even with any disappointments you’ll have, this is still a landmark racing game.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Halo: Reach (2010, Science Fiction Shooter) – 8/10 game review

Cast / crew
Creative Director: Marcus Lehto

Halo: Reach (2010)

Mankind’s worst enemy, the Covenant, have set their sights on planet Reach. As part of Noble team, you meet them head-on but it quickly becomes clear that this will become a race to a valuable piece of tech that may hold the key to avoiding humanity’s extinction.

8/10

Halo: Reach is unquestionably the best Halo game since the first one, Halo: Combat Evolved. The core shooting experience is very good and there’s an agreeably somber tone (culminating in an unusual final level where you SPOILER play to your unavoidable death as humanity’s final resistance on planet Reach). There’s a big jump in graphical finery this time with no technical shortcomings to point out and a space combat mission proves a nice change of pace. Halo’s most impressive feature remains opponent AI who are quirky, fun and devious with harder difficulty levels utilising clearly more advanced tactics. Though it’s frequently unclear where you supposed to be going and what you’re supposed to be doing, the levels are interesting and fun to play in with all the toys and vehicles and weapons that Bungie give you.

This game contains mild swear words and 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.

Fracture (2008, Third Person Science Fiction Action, 360) – 8/10 game review

Cast / crew
Studio Director: Michael J. McDonald
Director Of Engineering: Michael J. McDonald
Lead Designer: Jeff Gregg

Fracture (2008)

As America is physically split in two by global warming, their people are ethically split as the Pacificans go all out for genetic modification while The Alliance outlaw genetics. Wars have been started over smaller things.

8/10

Unlike the Red Faction games and their Geo-Mod technology, Fracture incorporates it’s brilliantly accomplished terrain deformation technology and makes it a completely necessary gameplay and tactical element (especially on Hardcore difficulty). You can always tell if a new weapon system is completely brilliant if you wish it would appear in other games. Half Life 2‘s Gravity Gun, Portal‘s Portal Gun, Resistance‘s Auger and everything in Ratchet and Clank games are good examples. Fracture‘s Entrencher (Terrain Deformation) gun can now be added to the list. There are problems. You can’t always see what you’re doing because the field of view feels so narrow (you can run past someone and not see them), you sprint by jogging with motion blur, and our hero seems to shoot from his dead centre meaning you have to leave cover far enough to be able to wave your privates at the enemy before you can take them down (naturally enemies don’t have this problem, they seem to be able to shoot at your aura). However, the game looks fantastic (this is arguably the best looking third-party Unreal Engine 3 game), all the novelty weapons are fun and interesting, the ponderous Basil Poledouris-alike music from Michael Giacchino, Chris Tilton and Chad Seiter is entertainingly self-important and, of course, the Terrain Deformation technology is endlessly impressive.

This game contains violence.

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

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Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent (2006, Stealth Action) – 8/10 game review

Cast / crew
Michael Ironside: Sam Fisher

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent (2006)

Reeling from grief over his daughter’s accidental death at the hands of a drunk driver, Sam Fisher abandons his mission to find the night-vision goggles he hurled out of a helicopter over the sea and undertakes an highly risky undercover infiltration of a terrorist organisation known as John Brown’s Army.

8/10

After getting used to the pace of the game after playing just about anything else, this is an absorbing highly satisfying chance to pummel terrorists. Silently, of course. The structure of the game is terrific: you have several objectives, some have to be done, some don’t. It means that you don’t have to do everything perfectly and allows for three major decisions for you to take with agreeably weighty outcomes and lots of little ones. Despite being an early seventh-generation console game, it looks fantastic – crisp, detailed and highly convincing. It’s not brutal and detailed in the violence but that doesn’t lessen the impact or joy of rendering another scumbag unconscious without alerting any of his buddies.

This game contains bad language and violence.

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

Medal of Honor: Airborne (2007, WWII First-Person Shooter, 360) – 8/10 game review

Cast / crew
Creative Director: Jon Paquette
Producer: Christopher A. Busse
Producer: Tom Hess
Producer: Matt Marsala
Producer: Neville Spiteri
Producer: T.J. Stamm
Lead Designer: Rex Dickson

Medal of Honor: Airborne (2007)

World War II: Private Boyd Travers is a member of the US Army’s first airborne division and is about to see his first paratrooper action as part of Operation Husky.

8/10

This is nearly a very great game but the critical suspension of disbelief isn’t sustained thanks to poor enemy design and inadequate ammunition impact. It doesn’t matter how much body armour you’re wearing (in the case of this game, though, it’s none), being shot hurts and affects your ability to perform. Always. Even just being shot at affects your performance. Not if you’re a German soldier wearing black cloth and a gas mask, apparently. However, the levels available here are works of genius. They all look good with the Operation Varsity and Der Flakturm levels being unusual and spectacular. They are constructed in such a way that, generally, the entire level is accessible both as a start point and a waypoint. They feel like the best large multi-path, multi-level, multiplayer maps but work exceptionally well in every way as single-player areas. It makes Airborne unexpectedly unique amongst shooters and should be played by all genre fans.

This game contains war violence, unpleasant scenes.

 

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

Superbike 2001 (2000, Motorcycle Racing Game) – 8/10 game review

Cast / crew
Director: Antonio Farina

Superbike 2001 (2000)

8/10

Instantly impressive motorcycle racing game with outstanding animation, graphics and control. The animation is astonishing making this the best motorcycle video games have ever looked. Even without rag-dolls, the crashes, near-misses and bikes trying to unseat riders looks completely amazing and convincing (perhaps because the rider doesn’t disappear once a crash starts). Once you add the touch that your rider has to walk back to his bike and pick it up to continue (as do crashed AI riders), you genuinely cannot understand why motorcycle games since ignored everything amazing this game did. What is really odd is that the creative people behind this game still make motorcycle games at Milestone. Just worse ones. (Additionally, this works on Windows 7 in 98/ME Compatibility mode and with the 360 controller and in widescreen!)