Tomb Raider (2013, PS3, PC, Steam) – 9/10 brutally violent action adventure game review

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Cast / crew
Director: Noah Hughes
Director: Daniel Chayer
Director: Daniel Neuburger
Producer: Kyle Peschel
Producer: Alexander W. Offermann
Programmer: Scott Krotz
Artist: Brian Horton
Writer: Rhianna Pratchett
Writer: Susan O’Connor
Lara Croft: Camilla Luddington

Tomb Raider (2013)

Lara Croft is the archaeological brains on a TV documentary but their expedition aboard the Endeavour goes horribly wrong when the ship happens upon a violent storm and is broken onto an island. Everyone seems to survive the shipwreck but then an island inhabitant knocks Lara out and she regains consciousness hanging upside in a room of unimaginable gruesomeness.

9/10

This is a really, really good game which does suffer a bit from having to get a good amount of gameplay into it. This translates to, essentially, obliterating an entire nation of bad guys too many and moving the franchise from teen-rated platforming to one of the most violent third-person shooters ever released. It’s an exceedingly good third-person shooter, though, and you just want to play the whole thing through in one sitting. In an important way, it is also extremely ambitious in character. It fails, almost completely, but what it is trying to do is place you in the shoes of Lara Croft and get you to go on her journey from boffin babe to Rambo. It never accomplishes this because the player is in Rambo mode from the start and so it is absolutely no problem for them to start decking dudes left, right and center and you’re never given the choice to do what you would actually do in the circumstance, i.e., dribble some wee down your leg and evade them. I mean, I don’t know how to strangle someone with a bow. Lara did.

This game contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue, sexuality, extremely gory and extremely unpleasant scenes, extreme, graphic and gory violence

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

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

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

Vanquish (2010)

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

9/10

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

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

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

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

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Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Kazunori Yamauchi

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

9/10

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

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

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Alan Wake (2006, 360-exclusive) – 9/10 action horror game review

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Cast / crew
Conceptual Designer, Original Concept and Writer: Sam Lake
Conceptual Designer and Lead Game Designer: Mikael Kasurinen
Art Director and Conceptual Designer: Saku Lehtinen
Conceptual Designer and Producer: Jyri “Jay” Ranki
Conceptual Designer and Lead Programmer: Olli Tervo
Conceptual Designer and Lead Technical Artist: Sami Vanhatalo
Conceptual Designer and Lead Level Design and Envrionments: Jarno Wallgren
Additional Game Designer and Original Concept: Petri Jarvilehto
Screenplay Writer: Mikko Rautalahti
Matthew Porretta: The Voice of Alan Wake
Fred Berman: Barry Wheeler

Alan Wake (2006)

Thriller writer Alan Wake and his wife Alice travel to Bright Falls for a vacation but some kind of dark force takes Alice to the bottom of Cauldron Lake. The darkness soon turns its sights on Alan but he has light on his side and it turns out that Bright Falls has a more serious problem than even he can imagine. No, actually, it has a problem exactly as serious as he can imagine.

9/10

While I’m not quite clear on why Wake succeeds at the end and Zane didn’t, the story certainly dares you to make sense of it. There’s a spectacular coming together of gameplay with everything else – lighting, technology, graphics (running at PS Vita resolution, remarkably, but not looking like it at all), sound, story and ambition – to create a unified sense of atmosphere and engrossing fun. The combat is outstanding: interesting, thrilling, challenging and thoroughly satisfying. It requires you to use light to destroy a shield around every Dark One before you can eliminate them permanently with a gun. Brilliantly, combat is not even always necessary as you can try and run away. Especially on higher difficulty levels and with a lack of ammo, this proves to be a wise but challenging tactic. This is a great game and, arguably, Xbox 360’s best exclusive.

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

Motorstorm: Apocalypse (2011, PS3-exclusive) – 9/10 spectacle racing game review

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Cast / crew

Motorstorm: Apocalypse (2011)

The City is in the throes of natural disaster and the Motorstorm circus travel there to race in the most extreme environment possible.

9/10

What happened to the sound and the fury? Pacific Rift and the first Motorstorm are sonic powerhouses; demonstration-level audio experiences. The de-emphasis on engine sound effects make Motorstorm: Apocalypse sound initially underwhelming. However, it is clear where the processing power went: astonishing, smooth, crisp 1080p30 graphics. This is arguably the most impressive-looking 1080p console racing game of it’s generation with spectacular environmental showpiece destruction. (If memory serves, there were four 1080p racing games: Ridge Racer 7, Gran Turismo 5/6, this and Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad) The looks are backed up with a heart-poundingly thrilling racing experience carried across highly-satisfying single- and multi-player modes including dual-login split-screen available both online and off. Motorstorm: Apocalypse is a very generous racing game with plenty of stunning environments, lots of great, highly customisable vehicles and as much quality racing action as your heart can stand. This is the best game from Evolution Studios to date but it’s commercial success was undermined by too-similar events in the real world in the shape of the devastating Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

This game contains violence, dangerous activities (for example, racing down collapsing bridges and across fallen skyscrapers)

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

Killzone: Shadow Fall (2013) – 9/10 science fiction FPS game review

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Cast / crew

Killzone: Shadow Fall (2013)

About thirty years after the end of the Second Helghan War with Helghan rendered uninhabitable by a Vektan bomb, Vektans and Helghans have been living on Vekta; each occupying half the planet, separated by a massive wall. As tensions reach boiling point, New Helghan makes another attempt at taking out their enemies once and for all.

9/10

Oddly received with a desultory sniff by contemporary critics overeager to prove themselves unswayed by beautiful graphical fidelity and excitement over a new console, this is the best in the series to date. Shadow Fall features an expertly balanced campaign with some varied, thrilling, kinetic battles and enough exploration, easy sections and down time to allow you to savour the intense bits. The main criticism seemed to be that this first-person shooter was a first-person shooter and, to be fair, it is absolutely a first-person shooter. For me, it sometimes gave me the good feeling of earlier PC shooters where there would be more to the level than your objective and numerous strategic options for getting into and out of skirmishes. The ridiculous end credits crawl is unquestionably the longest for any entertainment media ever at over half-an-hour; it’s possible every human being on the planet is listed but you’ll have killed yourself before it reaches your name. Or skipped it; whatever.

This game contains strong gory violence

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

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011) – 9/10 PS3-exclusive action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Co-President: Evan Wells
Co-President: Christophe Balestra
Creative Director: Amy Hennig
Game Director: Justin Richmond
Art Director: Erick Pangilinan
Art Director: Robh Ruppel
Lead Programmer: Pål-Kristian Engstad
Lead Programmer: Travis McIntosh
Lead Programmer: Christian Gyrling
Lead Texture Artist: Tate Mosesian
Lead Audio: Bruce Swanson
Lead Cinematic Animator: Josh Scherr
Lead Cinematic Animator: Eric Baldwin
Lead Gameplay Animator: Jeremy Lai-Yates
Lead Game Designer: Richard Lemarchand
Lead Game Designer: Jacob Minkoff
Lead Technical Artist: Mike Hatfield
Lead Technical Artist: Teagan Morrison
Lead Character Artist: Sze Jones
Lead Technical Character Artist: Hanno Hagedorn
Lead Lighting Artist: David Witters
Lead Visual Effects: Keith Guerrette
Cinematic Production Lead: Taylor Kurosaki
Director of Information Technology: Justin Monast
Writer: Amy Hennig
Music Composer: Greg Edmonson
Motion Capture & Voice Direction: Gordon Hunt
Nolan North: Nathan Drake
Richard McGonagle: Victor Sullivan
Emily Rose: Elena Fisher
Claudia Black: Chloe Frazer
Graham McTavish: Charlie Cutter, Zoran Lazarević
Rosalind Ayres: Katherine Marlowe
Robin Atkin Downes: Talbot
Billy Unger: Young Drake
Sayed Badreya: Rameses
T.J. Ramini: Salim

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011)

Treasure hunter and owner of the world’s strongest fingers Nathan Drake has been reduced to selling his prized Sir Francis Drake ring but, wouldn’t you know it, things don’t go as planned and everything is not as it seems. So, we’d better have a punch-up.

9/10

Oddly criticised for emphasising narrative over gameplay, the only significant problem with Uncharted 3 is too much gameplay, specifically, too many goons to kill. Taking out about 650 bad guys (not an exaggeration) to get to the end of the story is just too many; it keeps breaking the flow of the adventure. When they come, there are usually several waves to clear before the next door will open and every additional wave is entirely unwanted and unwarranted. The action is great, utterly thrilling, infuriatingly engaging and satisfying when cleared, and if you want more of it there are multiplayer arenas and coop modes but in the main story mode on Normal difficulty, where we’re itching to get to the next puzzle or area or bit of story, it’s a little bit wearisome and undermines the entire experience. But even with that issue, it’s still, unquestionably, a great game.

This game contains mild swear words and frequent gun violence, frequent melee violence, unpleasant scenes, inferred fantasy violence.

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

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