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

AmazonBuy Tomb Raider at Amazon

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..

Links

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

AmazonBuy Vanquish at Amazon

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.

Links

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

AmazonBuy Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 6 aka GT6 at Amazon

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.

Links

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

AmazonBuy Alan Wake at Amazon

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

AmazonBuy Motorstorm: Apocalypse at Amazon

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

AmazonBuy Killzone: Shadow Fall at Amazon

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.

Links

Bulletstorm (2011, PC, Games for Windows Live) – 9/10 first-person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Creative Director: Adrian Chmielarz
Lead Producer: Tanya Jessen
Lead Gameplay Designer: Edward Kay
Lead Animator: Jakub Kisiel
Principal FX Artist: Michael Kosieradzki
Lead Level Designer: Wojciech Madry
Lead Programmer: Lukasz Migas
Lead Gameplay Programmer: Grzegorz Mocarski
Lead Artist: Andrzej Pozmanski
Audio Director: Adam Skorupa
Lead Environment Artist: Tomasz Strzalkowski
Steven J. Blum: Grayson Hunt
Andrew Kashino: Ishi Sato
Jennifer Hale: Trishka
Chris Cox: Rell
Anthony DeLongis: General Sarrano

Bulletstorm (2011)

Ten years after discovering he and his black ops Dead Echo team were being duped into assassinating civilians by General Sarrano, Grayson Hunt comes across Sarrano’s battlecruiser, the Ulysses, and decides, drunk on alcohol and revenge, to ram him out of the sky. They both crashland on the planet Stygia where Grayson is going to have to sober up, really quickly.

9/10

It’s just fun, especially with the swears switched off. Things simply aren’t as much fun if your game is overbearingly effing and jeffing at you. Major highlight of the campaign is the model city level (Worst family fun vacation ever) and fighting with Waggleton P. Tallylicker. The single-player campaign is as good and longer and better paced than most contemporary games with a simple story (get from A to B) clearly told and the core shooting action is frenetic, accurate, imaginative, varied, awesome and fun, fun, fun.

This game contains optional sexual swear words, frequent bad language and optional gory and graphic violence, strong, highly fantasised violence.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

Links

Need for Speed Underground 2 aka NFSU2 (2004, Windows PC) – 9/10 open-world street racing game review

Cast / crew
Brooke Burke: Rachel Teller
Kelly Brook: Nikki Morris

Need for Speed: Underground 2 (2004)

After being violently taken out after reaching the top in Olympic City, the player has to start from scratch in Bayview. Still, he’s got some help from Rachel Teller who would like to see an end to corruption in the street racing scene in Bayview and thinks you’re the guy to beat the current top driver, Caleb.

9/10

This is the best street racing game of the PS2 and, arguably, PS3 generation with perfect handling balanced between accessible, convincing and demanding. It’s demanding in that driving your car requires input and concentration; it’s not difficult but you do have to pay attention. It’s an involving driving experience. The decision to make you drive to each event also involves you more than simply choosing off a menu. Using a menu exclusively in an open-world game completely defeats the atmospheric point of the open-world. Another thing that is great is that you can go through the whole game using the same car (I used a Peugeot 206) and just keep refining, tuning and upgrading it. This involves you further in the game in a way that racing games have moved away from. Gran Turismo 3 started the trend toward endlessly buying new cars from the get go, Forza Motorsport copied and the Need for Speed series finally completely capitulated with Shift 2: Unleashed. None of these games have any sense of ownership toward vehicles which is a gigantic misunderstanding of how to reward the player. Giving us new cars as rewards means we feel nothing toward them; we didn’t pick them, choose the colour or install a wicked sound system. We want to develop a relationship with our steed. When thinking about the game, we want to know that it’s in our car that we are achieving victory; that makes the victory sweeter and the game better.

Links

L.A. Noire (2011, PC Windows) – 9/10 post-WWII 1940’s detective thriller game review

Cast / crew
Director: Brendan McNamara
Writer: Brendan McNamara
Producer: Naresh Hirani
Technical Director: Franta Fulin
Lead Gameplay Programmer: David Heironymus
Lead Designer: Alex Carlyle
Art Director: Chee Kin Chan
Lead Artist: Ben Brudenell
Production Designer: Simon Wood
Graphic Designer: Andrew Hamilton
General Manager: Vicky Lord
Production Coordinator: Lara Derham
Composer (Score): Andrew Hale
Composer (Score): Simon Hale
Aaron Staton: Cole Phelps
Michael McGrady: Rusty Galloway
Adam John Harrington: Roy Earle
Sean McGowan: Stefan Bekowsky
Keith Szarabajka: Herschel Biggs
Gil McKinney: Jack Kelso
Erika Heynatz: Elsa Lichtmann
John Noble: Leland Monroe
Peter Blomquist: Dr. Harlan Fontaine

L.A. Noire (2011)

Hero GI Cole Phelps returns to the LAPD with his Silver Star and a rapid promotion to detective. As his case-closing and straight-arrow reputation rises, however, the closer he gets to the corruption and violence that the cream of Los Angeles use to further their own ends.

9/10

This is a brilliant change of pace as a highly competent detective adventure game gets wrapped up in an ambitious Grand Theft Auto-style play area with superb facial capture technology. It marks what must be the first time you can play as a fairly aspirational character in a major Rockstar game. L.A. Noire is a great game despite what I think are two major mistakes. First is the decision to ape profanity-laced L.A. Confidential 1940’s instead of witty fast-talking, no F-words Humphrey Bogart 1940’s. The second is the inability to shoot to disarm or wound. In L.A. Noire, every gunfight results in a pile of bad guys; you are given no choice and not rewarded for non-fatal precision. While the game mechanics sometimes feel like they’re being laid bare thanks to comical eye-rolling and head wobbling, there are many moments where the game achieves a very special, unique feeling. There are also lots of little touches (talking to your partner in the car gives you directions, taking a car from a disliked car salesman’s lot elicits an appropriate response, picking up your hat if you walk over to it after it gets knocked off in a brawl, car interior lights that work and more) that just delight when they occur. I want more of this; a CSI game, a true Bogart game, an Eddie Valiant Roger Rabbit game. We can dream.

This game contains sexual swear words, strong adult dialogue and extremely unpleasant and extremely gory scenes, strong violence and naked murder victims.

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

Links

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011, PS3) – 9/10 contemporary military first person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Writer: Paul Haggis
Writer: Will Staples

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)

With World War III in full swing, the baffled US and Russian presidents need to meet up with each other but Makarov is going to ensure that will never happen while he implements the next stage of his insane but successful plan: a bombing campaign against Europe’s capitals.

9/10

Such is the perfectly urgent pace of the outstanding shooting action that this irresistible game provides terrific excitement and spectacle throughout its generous amount of content. There are some great missions and, though its convolutions didn’t really detract from Modern Warfare 2, the story has been really tightened up with more obvious and relevant goals. It is notable that, despite three outings for Soap and Price, there is absolutely no emotional attachment to and, arguably, even purely visual recognition of them (mohawk and hat, respectively, if you’re struggling). Still, with such outstanding, industry-leading gameplay mechanics, emotions and characters turned out to be, perhaps appropriately, entirely expendable.

This game contains mild swear words and graphic war violence, some extreme violence right at the end.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

Links

inFamous 2 (2011) – 9/10 superhero / supervillain open-world action adventure PS3 exclusive game review

Cast / crew

inFamous 2 (2011)

Just as Kessler prophesied, the Beast arrives to decimate the world and Cole is preparing to take him on. As he is about to leave for New Marais to complete preparation, Cole has to engage the Beast in battle but is defeated resulting in the annihilation of Empire City. Escaping to New Marais, the Beast slowly follows overland laying waste to everything in his path but at least it will give Cole time to beef up his powers and make round 2 go his way.

9/10

Improving in every way but not breaking the perfect controls or wonderful playability of inFamous, this incredibly fun and impressive sequel is a joy from start to finish. It also delivers highly satisfying and different conclusions to the story for both good and evil playthroughs. Remarkably, both have genuine emotional impact: the good is touching, the evil is emotionally difficult. But it’s not just the big stuff inFamous 2 gets right. For some peculiar reason I absolutely love the sound of the carrier pigeons falling to the floor. The power-switching control scheme is the best and most flexible I’ve ever used (by miles). There’s no bad language. It’s not horribly violent. Brilliantly, the game automatically resumes when you start the disc, no button presses are required to get in to the game. Why more games don’t do this is beyond me. Sadly, inFamous 2 didn’t sell as well as the first but it is an exemplary, must-buy open-world action game.

This game contains strong melee violence, strong fantasy violence and sensuality.

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

This blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.

Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening (2010) – fantasy action role-playing game sequel DLC review

Cast / crew
Producer: Fernando Melo
Lead Designer: Ferret Baudoin
Project Manager: Adriana Lopez
Lead Programmer: Owen Borstad
Quality Assurance Lead: Jason Leong
Greg Ellis: Anders
Adam Leadbeater: Justice
Simon Chadwick: Nathaniel Howe
Steven J. Blum: Oghren
Natalia Cigliuti: Sigrun
Jamie Glover: The Architect
Dee Dee Rescher: The Mother
Robin Sachs: Varel
Grey Delisle: Velanna

Dragon Age: Origins Awakenings (2010)

With the Blight over and the Archdemon slain, it comes as a great surprise when you arrive in your new arlship and the new Ferelden Grey Warden Headquarters Vigil’s Keep, previously under the governance of Rendon Howe, and find devastation wrought by darkspawn under the leadership of one that can talk, reason and lead.

9/10

Perhaps it’s because it didn’t need the slow introduction of the main game but this supremely entertaining sequel to Dragon Age: Origins starts at full pace and doesn’t let up giving you lots of little quests to keep you busy, interspersed with the occasional impossible decision, peppered with a lot of funny, fun dialogue. It even has a secret room, at last!

This Dragon Age: Origins game contains mild swear words and strong, gory violence with an hilarious option to leave you peppered with gravity resistant blood splatters that are way too big, unpleasant scenes and non-sexual nudity.

Links

This blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.

Limbo (2010) – 9/10 puzzle platform game review

Cast / crew
Creator and Director: Arnt Jensen
Producer: Mads Wibroe
Programmer Boy: Thomas Krog
Animator Boy: Thomas Krog
Lead Game Designer: Jeppe Carlsen
Lead Level Designer: Jeppe Carlsen

Limbo (2010)

A boy must travel from left to right and overcome the ingenious obstacles in his path.

9/10

Brilliantly designed puzzle game which has clearly been play-tested and polished to near-perfection. The only misstep occurred late on (something I thought was a sign, and so just went flying past, was a switch) but that might be just me. Despite almost no instructions, prompts and hand-holding, the mechanics of the game are communicated wonderfully and frustration is avoided because checkpoints are sensible and the tools to make progress are always clear, it’s determining how to use them for each bite-size obstacle that provides the challenge. The satisfaction from completing each ingenious segment is a delight.

This game contains optional extreme and graphic silhouetted violence.

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

CRC 2005: Cross Racing Championship (2005, PC) – 9/10 mixed-surface racing game review

AmazonBuy CRC 2005: Cross Racing Championship 2005 at Amazon

Cast / crew

CRC 2005: Cross Racing Championship 2005 (2005)

Drive a handful of vehicles on tarmac, snow, gravel, mud and through streams on your way to achieving the full prestige of being Cross Racing Champion.

9/10

Despite an obtuse career mode (the aim is to complete races on lower difficulty to earn upgrades and championship points so you can unlock and win every race available on the hardest difficulty, earning 100% “Prestige” to complete the game; but it’s not obvious), this is one of the greatest racing games ever available on PC. It’s looks and sounds fantastic and the cockpit view is the best I’ve ever used. It’s immersive, convincing and, miraculously, you can see out of the windscreen. You’d be astonished at how many racing games have a cockpit view that you can’t see out of. The handling is responsive, convincing and simply thrilling to feel. The England track, in particular, is breath-taking at every corner in every car on every lap.

Links

Mass Effect 2 (2010, PC Windows) – 9/10 role-playing science-fiction action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Jennifer Hale: Female Shephard
Mark Meer: Male Shephard
Project Director: Casey Hudson

Mass Effect 2 (2010)

Commander Shepherd is killed when the Normandy is obliterated by a giant ship of unknown origin. Pro-human organisation Cerberus goes to tremendous expense to obtain her body and resurrect her, certain that only such an icon of human heroism will be able to gather and lead a team to combat a new threat to the human species.

9/10

This is a thrilling action game with reams of strikingly presented content but, despite expectation to the contrary, it doesn’t really continue where the first game ended. Instead, everything is reset (you pointlessly and inexplicably die and are resurrected which dramatically devalues one of the potential endings) and you spend the entire time going on a mission to recruit a team member, then going on another mission to make them loyal. This transparent formula is almost instantly completely mechanical and does not quite provide the intended emotional connection to your team mates. Nevertheless, the sheer amount of fun visually impressive sci-fi content is astonishing and most of the gameplay and all of the graphics tweaks are welcome. Sadly, the climax leaves one filled with trepidation, wondering whether Mass Effect 3 will make us do the same thing all over again as every Normandy crew member (except Joker) can die. Including your Commander Shepard.

This game contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue and substance abuse and extended violence, gory and unpleasant scenes, some strong violence and optional sexuality, sensuality.

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

Links

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (2002, Stealth Espionage Action, Windows) – 9/10 game review

Cast / crew
Senior Producer: Mathieu Ferland
Senior Producer: Reid Schneider
Original Creator: François Coulon
Writer: J.T. Petty
Lead Game Designer: Nathan Wolff
Creative Director: François Coulon
Michael Ironside: Sam Fisher

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (2002)

9/10

Occasionally obscure level design never undermines the total super-awesomeness that is Sam Fisher, the player. Splinter Cell consistently makes you feel like an amazing super-covert super-operative while still allowing you to be very vulnerable to bullets (unlike most games). Bullets hurt. On Normal, getting into a firefight is a to-be-avoided, near-death adrenalin bath. When you survive, it is always genuinely amazing and intoxicating. Usually, the action is far more considered and, remarkably, a similar level of satisfaction is obtained by successfully achieving your objectives without exposing yourself to the frequently game-ending danger of a gunfight. This is a complete classic.

This game contains none in game, sexual swear words in closing song (!) and melee and gun violence.

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.
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.

Split/Second (2010, Action Racing Game) – 9/10 game review

Cast / crew
Director: Nick Baynes
Senior Producer: Alice Guy
Director of Production: Alice Guy
Design Director: Paul Glancey
Technical Director: David Jefferies

Split/Second (2010)

9/10

Two things hurt this game: a title change from straight-forwardly cool Split Second to the teeth-grindingly unnecessary Split/Second: Velocity and the words ‘reality show.’ A demo that did nothing for me didn’t help but once I started playing the full game, Split/Second‘s eye-poppingly spectacular scenarios and consistently thrilling, fun and rewarding gameplay totally won me over. The entire game is like driving through a cut-scene, yet it is you triggering the spectacular carnage. There is surprising depth to the ‘splosions and handling with both providing immediate thrills balanced with greater gains for experience and finesse. The total lack of licensed music (we have a terrific Rocky IV-esque score by a seemingly uncredited Marc Canham) and licensed vehicles (wonderfully sleek supercars and meaty super-SUV’s) means it looks and sounds like nothing else. This is as good as arcade action racing gets.

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

Links

Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008,PS3) – 9/10 action adventure game review

AmazonBuy Tomb Raider: Underworld at Amazon

Cast / crew
Senior Producer: Alex Jones
Creative Director: Eric Lindstrom
Lead Programmer: Rob Pavey
Environment Art Director: Patrick Sirk
Lead Environment Artist: Daniel Neuburger
Lead Designer: Harley White-Wiedow
Lead Animator: Primo Navidad
Lead Character Artist: Kam Yu
Voice Over Director: Kris Zimmerman
Lara Croft: Keeley Hawes
Story Writer: Eric Lindstrom
Story Writer: Toby Gard
Screenplay Writer: Eric Lindstrom

Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)

Lara comes to believe that her mother might still be alive in some kind of afterlife and has to sort through common mythology to find the truth of where the afterlife might be.

9/10

A fun, satisfying (if you don’t use a walkthrough), good-looking adventure which again places the emphasis on traversal and environmental puzzles over easy but nice looking and enjoyable action. This is easy to play, nice to look at and a joy from start to finish. Checkpointing is generous, removing all frustration and allowing you to concentrate on the task at hand. The story is agreeably non-sensical mythical tosh but once more highlights legends from history (Norse, this time) that you may be motivated into researching and that’s a genuine bonus from a game.

This game contains mild swear words, Gun and fantasy violence

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

Links

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009, Action Shooter, PS3) – 9/10 game review

Cast / crew
Director: Jason West

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)

Single player: Take on the role of a contemporary American soldier fighting against Russian invaders on American soil and a British commando fighting some other dudes somewhere else. Ah, yes, a plot. Modern Warfare 2 has one. That explains all that. Sort of.

Online multiplayer: classic multiplayer modes are bolstered by a robust and lengthy rewards system involving perks, equipment and levelling.

Spec Ops: earn stars for tackling coop-focused missions (split-screen or online) at different difficulty levels. Most of them can also be played alone.

9/10

A remarkably non-sensical and poorly-presented story does nothing to diminish the totally incredible, perfect, genre-defining shooting experience that Infinity Ward delivers yet again. Add to this the usual roster of multiplayer goodness and a new coop mode and you’ve got an incredibly polished, superbly-animated action game which pushes all the right buttons but you might feel a little more manipulated and hit-over-the-head than before. The controversial and optional civilian massacre level is really bad in design, story and concept and simply should not have been included as-is for quality reasons.

This game contains two sexual swear words and graphic war violence, optional potentially disturbing massacre violence.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

Links

Colin McRae: DiRT 2 (2009, Off-Road Racing Game, Games for Windows) – 9/10 game review

Cast / crew
Game Designer: Matthew Horsman

Colin McRae: DiRT 2 (2009)

9/10

Despite a notable lack of rallying and interchangeable international locations (Baja, Morocco, China and Utah are particularly indistinguishable and there is no snow and little tarmac), DiRT 2 improves on it’s predecessor in every other way. Graphics are completely fantastic (especially on PC Ultra) but it’s the handling that is the revelation. This is easily the best handling Codemasters have delivered since Colin 2.0 and is accessible, responsive, predictable and convincing. It is a perfect balance of arcade and simulation. Presentation is also splendid and the personalities are well represented (contrasting with the lack of character for the locations) and smack talking back to Travis Pastrana and Ken Block is endlessly great fun.

This game contains ostentatiously omitted sexual swear word in songs.

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

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007, 360) – 9/10 third-person puzzle platform game review

AmazonBuy Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary at Amazon

Cast / crew
Producer: Lulu LaMer
Creative Director: Jason Botta
Lead Designer: Jason Botta
Art Director: Andrew Wood
Lara Croft: Keeley Hawes
Game Designer: Toby Gard

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)

Lara Croft is on the trail of a Scion – a quest that cost her father his life – but quickly discovers that there are significant forces working against her both past and present.

9/10

As someone who never played the original Tomb Raider, I very much welcome this kind of project which sees an older game updated technologically but kept intact thematically and stylistically. What most surprised me is that this is essentially a non-violent game (the player kills one person but it’s horribly out-of-character and highly unnecessary for Lara; deliberately so, as it raises the question: can’t games be about more than killing dudes?). The joy comes from linear and straight-forward but satisfying traversal and logic puzzles. Every large room you enter is a moment of joy as you start scanning to find your exit and plan your route out. As a bonus, all the bosses are better and more interesting than shoot-’til-you-drop and all require a little strategy and guile to defeat (or, at least, to defeat quickly). Time trials mode from Legend makes a welcome return and, frankly, all games like this should have such a mode. Ultimately, and unusually, this game feels like a gift from the Eidos, Core and Crystal Dynamics and it’s a really nice feeling.

This game contains , Wildlife self-defense gun violence, at-odds-with-the-game’s-tone gun violence and extreme knife violence

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

Links

Call of Duty: World at War (2008, 360, PS3) – 9/10 World War II first-person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Creative Director: Corky Lehmkuhl
Gary Oldman: Sgt. Reznov
Kiefer Sutherland: Sgt. Roebuck

Call of Duty 5 Call of Duty: World at War (2008)

World War II: Russian Pvt. Dimitri Petrenko is pushing back the Germans to Berlin and American Private Miller is pushing back the Japanese to Okinawa.

9/10

Beautifully polished World War II first-person shooter which is atmospheric, extremely playable, very smooth and controls, looks, animates and sounds brilliant. There’s only one real complaint (aside from a couple of dispiriting bugs which require level restarts) and it’s an old one: disagreeably obvious infinite spawning soldiers who direct 90% of their fire directly into any orifice they choose whether they are looking at you or not, whether they are holding a weapon or not, whether you knew you were going to pop out or not, whether they’re on fire or not, whether they’re dead or not, whether they’re being run over by a tank or not, whether they’re being riddled with your bullets or not, whether a grenade has just exploded in their face or not. Hardened is great fun as it is really tough and satisfying but, unlike Veteran, you don’t get punished for your lack of clairvoyance skills. What is always good about the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty World War II games is that you never forget that this was a real conflict in which real people died real horribly. The ease with which you die, even though it’s a game (you can take three or more bullets which is rather more generous than real-life) becomes, rightfully, a slightly sobering experience.

This Call of Duty game contains sexual swear words and extremely graphic gun violence, graphic blade, fire and melee violence, extremely unpleasant scenes.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.
Classified Bad Language by PEGI. Game contains bad language.
Classified 18+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for adults who have reached the age of 18 or over..

Links

Devil May Cry 4 (2008, PS3) – 9/10 fantasy action game review

AmazonBuy Devil May Cry 4 at Amazon

Cast / crew
Producer: Hiroyuki Kobayashi
Character Designer: Tatsuya Yoshikawa
Producer Movie: Shinji Shinohara
Producer Movie: Takuya Shibata
Director Movie: Yuji Shimomura
Director: Hideaki Itsuno

Devil May Cry 4 (2008)

Nero, a young knight in the Order of the Sword – an organisation that protects the world from demons – is as shocked as anyone when the legendary Dante interrupts proceedings and shoots the head of the Order. Nero is dispatched to chase down Dante and bring him to justice but will quickly discover that he is just a pawn in a plot to open the gates of Hell.

9/10

Endlessly cool, fun and interesting action game whose only real apparent disappointment comes from a character switch partway through whereby you resume the role of series’ hero Dante. You really want to continue playing as new boy Nero because of his Devil Arm ability but it is good if a game leaves you wanting more. Amazingly, the same thing happens when the characters switch back again. You want to continue with Nero! There is unnecessary padding at the end with repeated boss battles but it’s a small complaint given the generous wonderfulness of the game as a whole. Capcom have also made the game entirely playable for anyone with the addition of a Human mode and a control mode where you don’t have to learn the combos but they have also left the spanking difficulty of higher modes intact. It’s a perfect balance and the same thing can be said for the entire game. Special mention for an oft-overlooked element of a game: the segue into and the (brilliantly playable) end credits.

This game contains bad language, Extended extreme fantasy violence, occasional graphic blade violence, occasional inferred strong 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

Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 3: A-spec (2001, PS2 exclusive) – 9/10 racing game review

AmazonBuy Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 3: A-spec at Amazon

Cast / crew
Game Designer: Kazunori Yamauchi

Gran Turismo Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 3: A-spec (2001)

1 or 2 players offline.

Starting with a small number of credits, purchase cars and upgrades till you’ve won every race and championship available.

9/10

While Gran Turismo 2: A-Spec may have been a more accurate, if mean, title, this game offers reference-quality graphics (not matched by any other PlayStation 2 game for about five years), an astonishing number of challenges and mildly improved (though still dull) A.I. but it takes significantly longer to get its addictive hooks into you. For me, the main reason for this is that there is no longer a racing modification available for ordinary cars and so you have little motivation to keep upgrading your car because it will just look the same even if it goes like stink.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005, 360) – 9/10 open-world police / street racing game review

Cast / crew

Need for Speed 9 Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

After losing your beautiful BMW street racing car, you have the help of full babe Mia and some dude called Rog to get back at the cheating toe-rag who won it, most wanted street racer Razor, by defeating fourteen other street racers (who share the inability to write their own name) on the police black list.

9/10

Tremendous fun despite strong technical shortcomings in frame rate, somehow the handling isn’t adversely affected and the game is responsive and eminently controllable throughout. The killer feature is the presence of police during any event at any time. Brilliantly, and most unusually, you can finish the game with the car you started (slightly upgraded, of course, I had a Fiat Punto I grew very fond of).

This Need for Speed game contains sexual swear words in songs and mild violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

This blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.

Burnout: Paradise (2008, PS3, 360, PC) – 9/10 open-world racing game review

AmazonBuy Burnout Paradise at Amazon

Cast / crew
General Manager EA Criterion Studio: Fiona Sperry
Creative Director: Alex Ward
Executive Producer: Pete Hawley
Lead Designer: Craig Sullivan
Senior Development Director: Jon Lawrence

Burnout Paradise (2008)

9/10

Though eight was the rating I wanted to give it because of handling foibles (your direction during low speed traction and jump landings are predictably unpredictable), that felt a little harsh. A game complete time of over 61 hours indicates the mammoth amount to do in Paradise City offline and online (integrated brilliantly)  and the game has a feeling of tremendous polish and excellence. It is always completely thrilling and, when not being occasionally frustrating due to your own lack of amazingness, almost always a lot of fun. The fact that I played it to completion on PS3 and 360, then rebought it for PC, probably tells it’s own story. Yes, I’m an idiot.

Links

Colin McRae: DiRT (2007, Off-Road Racing, PlayStation 3) – 9/10 game review

Cast / crew

Colin McRae: Dirt (2007)

9/10

Colin McRae Dirt is the best in the series since the brilliant Colin McRae Rally 2.0 despite slightly odd handling and, surprisingly, establishes itself as the best next-gen racing game by some way. Outstanding graphics (especially on the smooth-running PlayStation 3 version), excellent sound, reference-quality presentation, lovely and accessible replays and lots to see and do are all the icing on the cake of the fun and excitement of the core driving sensation.

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.

Available on PS3.

Continue reading “Colin McRae: DiRT (2007, Off-Road Racing, PlayStation 3) – 9/10 game review”