Mass Effect (2007, Science Fiction Action RPG, PC Windows) – 10/10 game re-review

Cast / crew
Project Director: Casey Hudson
Jennifer Hale: Female Commander Shepard
Mark Meer: Male Commander Shepard
Ali Hillis: Liara T’Soni

Mass Effect (2007)

As humans seek to ingratiate themselves with the tri-race Council ruling from The Citadel, an attack by a presumed-extinct species on the human-colonised planet Eden Prime hurls humanity, and Commander Shepherd in particular, into the middle of a crisis whose scope is beyond anything anyone alive has ever faced before.

10/10

An initial lack-of-fun, lack-of-focus and surplus-of-difficulty spike that is the first trap awaiting all RPGs is fallen headlong into here and an initial feeling of clunkiness in the game’s action may be enough to put off interested players. However, this is their very great loss as Mass Effect is a superb gaming achievement and successfully delivers a universe, characters and story worth playing through. Once the gameplay starts to come to the player (a natural curve in all RPGs), everything gels and makes this a game you’ll remember with fondness and look forward eagerly to playing through again. On PC, with no technical shortcomings, the game looks and plays magnificently and on repeat playthroughs (three times completed now) Mass Effect is a joy. It’s slightly better than it’s sequel because the story and character structure is better disguised, the climax is stronger and you are given a better hero moment as you come striding over the wreckage in the Citadel to the swell of the music. Though the sequel does have Miranda’s butt in it, so there’s that.

This game contains mild swear words, adult dialogue, substance abuse-related dialogue and violence, strong unpleasant scenes, very occasional mild gore, very occasional graphic violence and sexuality, sensuality, mild nudity.

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

Links

Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time (2009, PS3 exclusive) – 10/10 temporal puzzle action adventure platformer game review

AmazonBuy Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time at Amazon

Cast / crew

Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time (2009)

10/10

This is Insomniac’s masterpiece. It’s very funny, paced brilliantly and boasts intrigue and action aplenty. The real stars are Clank’s temporal puzzles which are all brilliant and whose real genius lies in how well the concept is communicated. Each one is superb, fun and challenging but boasting a perfect balance between logic and platforming. They never feel impossible and are tremendously satisfying to solve. Ratchet’s sections are also terrific. Naturally, he has a pile of wonderful, wonderful toys to play with but thanks to fun enemies with different abilities, all the action, even arena and space battles, are surprisingly thrilling, challenging and tremendous fun. It’s never just beating endless baddies the same way. The (optional) disappearing platforms puzzles are a bit irritating and there is a slightly baffling climax to the story but it doesn’t matter a jot to one of the most fun, satisfying and greatest games ever released.

This game contains mild fantasy bad language, extended mild fantasy violence

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Links

Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009, Classic Superhero Third-Person Action, Games for Windows) – 10/10 game review

Cast / crew
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Batman: Bob Kane
Game Director: Sefton Hill
Writer: Paul Dini
Lead Narrative Designer: Paul Crocker
Lead Level Designer: Ian Ball
Kevin Conroy: Batman
Mark Hamill: Joker

Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

You don’t look gift horses in the mouth and, while he considers this time a bit easier than normal, Batman has re-captured Joker and brought him to Arkham Asylum. Once inside, however, Joker escapes and, with the help of a few carefully planted accomplices, takes over Arkham. But why?

10/10

Arkahm Asylum makes you feel like a superhero, like Batman, striding around being awesome (voiced brilliantly by Kevin Conroy opposite Mark Hamill’s even more brilliant Joker). It’s a simple summation but incredibly difficult to achieve and studio Rocksteady’s achievement has been rightfully lauded industry-wide. Successfully clearing a room of gun-toting baddies one at a time makes you feel like Batman, and not like almost all other action games, as does using all the gadgets. As is often the case, making the player extremely powerful or flexible offensively but weak defensively (Batman can’t really take being shot), means that the player feels like he has overcome the odds rather than just button mashed his way through artificially massive hordes of fist-fodder. While the end boss fight feels wrong character-wise it’s the only misstep in the entire game.

This game contains mild adult dialogue and fictional substance abuse and violence, unpleasant scenes.

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

Links

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009, Third-Person Action Adventure, PS3 exclusive) – 10/10 review

Game Director: Bruce Straley
Creative Director: Amy Hennig
Lead Programmer: Pål-Kristian Engstad
Lead Programmer: Travis McIntosh
Lead Programmer: Dan Liebgold
Music: Greg Edmonson
Nolan North: Nathan Drake
Emily Rose: Elena Fisher
Claudia Black: Chloe Frazer
Richard McGonagle: Sully
Steve Valentine: Harry Flynn
Rene Auberjonois: Karl Schafer

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009)

Drake joins up with former colleague Harry Flynn to try and find the lost treasure of Marco Polo but when you’re among thieves, you really can trust no-one.

10/10

While Drake’s still got completely broken ankles, this is a fun, highly thrilling action game that you just want to play through in one sitting. There are some moments that are absolutely staggering such as battles being played on the floor of a collapsing building, on a speeding train, the chapter with Jeff and post-Jeff and a Tibetan truck chase. There are sequences here that would be awesome if they were in a movie or cut-scene but in a game, with you playing it, it’s awesome on toast. Additionally, there are lots of lovely touches including Drake being highly personable in swimming pools, petting yaks and introducing himself to Tibetan villagers and it’s even actually funny (“There’s a guy below you, there’s a guy below you.”) and genuinely charming. Then you’ve got the goodness that is one of the best multiplayer co-op experiences available. This is one of those games that people always start to describe by saying “it’s not perfect, but…” Of course, nothing is, but Uncharted 2 is the PS3’s best game and one of the all-time greats.

This game contains frequent mild swear words, mild adult dialogue and gory scenes, frequent gun violence, frequent melee violence, knife violence and sensuality.

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

Links

Bioshock (2007, Game, 360) – 10/10 review

Writer (Story): Ken Levine
Writer: Ken Levine
Creative Director: Ken Levine
Director of Product Development: Jonathan Chey
Project Lead: Alyssa Finley

Bioshock (2007)

1960, Mid-Atlantic: Your plane crashes into the ocean but a beacon of hope towers over the water. You enter and find a once-remarkable undersea city but the crash was only the start of your trauma. Welcome to Rapture, and the world of Andrew Ryan.

10/10

When reviewers talk about atmosphere in a game, this is what they are talking about (see also the Half-Life series). This is the best-looking non-Epic Unreal Engine game; it shows that it isn’t the engine’s fault that so many games built in it look kinda ugly but that the developers are not getting the best out of it. However, Bioshock isn’t quite perfect. The main problem is the staggering gameplay decision that pulling your Plasmid or Weapon trigger does not always fire it; you have to press it twice if switching from one to the other or you have to press a button then the trigger. Every other problem is rather minor (the Big Daddy boots make a quickly tiresome noise) and are more than compensated for by the incredible production design, wonderful sound, interesting gameplay and surprisingly well-told story (there are almost no cut-scenes) with a reveal in the second-act climax that will really tickle the grey cells especially if someone reminds you what Vita-Chambers do.

This game contains sexual swear words and substance abuse (plasmids) and extended extremely unpleasant and extremely gory scenes, extended extreme and gory gun violence, extended extreme and gory melee violence, extended graphic fantasy violence.

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

Gran Turismo: Real Driving Simulator 2, The (1999, PS1) – 10/10

Gran Turismo: The Real Driving Simulator 2 (1999)

1 player GT mode offline, 1 or 2 player Arcade mode offline.

Starting with lowly production cars, win races of all classes and disciplines to earn money to enhance your car and expand your garage, ultimately getting your hands on limited edition, ultra-rare full-on sportscars with outrageous performance.

10/10

The most comprehensive driving simulator by far at the time, Gran Turismo 2 has astounding breadth and is instantly brilliant in nearly every department. It’s one and only weakness – it is too easy, a fact concealed only by its length – is not enough to prevent it getting the full ten. Polyphony Digital once again provide a wonderful showcase of brilliantly designed and rendered environments for their exemplary driving experience that is convincing, challenging and, crucially, fun.

Gran Turismo (1998, PS1) – 10/10

Gran Turismo (1998)

10/10

Genre-defining racing game classic. I’ve taken another look at it almost ten years on now and the driving is as good as ever. Using a PC emulator, I had it set up with a high resolution display and analogue steering and analogue brake and accelerate on the Xbox 360 Controller shoulder triggers. Worked like a charm (aside from an humungous ePSXe-introduced dead-zone in the steering which has be got used to). Ridiculously, a lot of sim-slanted driving games since do not match this great game for that feel of being in control of a vehicle and knowing what it is doing from the vibration and screen feedback.