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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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