Dark Souls II (2014) – 10/10 fantasy action RPG game review

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Cast / crew

Dark Souls II (2014)

Drangleic is way past it’s glory days and, without it’s king, has transformed into a remarkably dangerous place. Bring the family; all falls included!

10/10

It took a surprising couple of hours before I died in Dark Souls II. This certainly doesn’t have the dank, morbid atmosphere of the endlessly and rightly lauded Dark Souls but it does have the wonderful unfurling exploration for which, remarkably, you don’t need a map; we learn the lay of the land just like we learn our own streets by travelling them every day. This is another way the Souls games are, possibly, unique among open-world games. While some of the boss battles feel like extra large normal dudes, there are some true highlights including Executioner’s Chariot and, in Royal Rat Authority, a boss that may require you to change game-long tactics (SPOILER disengage lock-on and get under his feet) and teaches you through emergent gameplay rather than a loading screen tip. As for the not dying… well, I sure made up for that later. Dark Souls II is a spectacular, immersive, ridiculously generous game but, aside from a much better user interface and vastly improved PC performance, it’s a hair less effective and atmospheric than Dark Souls. A hair, I say, and still a masterpiece in it’s own right. P.S. The DLC is all fully amazing.

This game contains violence

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

Links

Remember Me (2013, PS3) – 8/10 third-person science-fiction action game review

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Cast / crew
Art Director: Aleksi Briclot
Art Director: Michel Koch
Technical Director: Jérome Banal
Producer: Nicolas Simon
Lead Technical Designer: Gautier de Souza
Lead Technical Designer: Jacques Trombini
Lead Environment Artist: Sophie Van de Velde
Lead Character Artist: Alexis Smadja-Fellous
Lead Visual Effects Artist: Timothée Letourneux
Lead Lighting Artist: Frédéric Cros
Lead Animator: Carole Chaland
Lead Animator: Alexandre Cuing
Cinematic Director: Jean-Luc Cano
Lead Designer: Philippe Moreau
Lead Designer: Marc Pestka
Music Composer, Orchestrator, Producer and Adaptor: Olivier Derivière
Director: Jean-Maxime Moris
Kezia Burrows: Nilin

Remember Me (2013)

Nilin is rescued from a memory-wipe facility by Edge and has little choice but to follow his instructions to stay alive. As she gradually remembers more skills he quickly sets her to work as a revolutionary but Nilin is conflicted about the chaos she is causing.

8/10

Remember Me deserved rather better than to be sniffed at by contemporary critics who moaned about stuff that exists in other more lauded games (such as the very mildly unruly camera and completely normal number of enemy types). The gameplay adds welcome wrinkles to the third-person brawler with its Pressen system. These are actions slotted into custom combos that can deal damage, heal, accelerate super-power cooldown or amplify the preceding Pressen; a combined effect that you design then execute during exciting, absorbing action. The gameplay is mixed up, as is the norm, with traversal and simple puzzles but a couple of riddles crop up and are something of an unexpected highlight. The cut-scenes are smoothly integrated and beautifully directed and edited, the art design is superb while Olivier Derivière’s music is unusual, effective and fitting. Remember Me drew me in and I wanted to see it through to the end. Well worth buying; don’t forget Remember Me.

This game contains sexual swear words, bad language, adult dialogue, 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.

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..

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014, PS3) – 7/10 fantasy RPG game review

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Cast / crew
Director: Motomu Toriyama
Game Design Director: Yuji Abe
Main Programmer: Naoki Hamaguchi
Art Director: Isamu Kamikokuryo
Graphics and Visual Effects Director: Shintaro Takai
Main Character Designer: Tetsuya Nomura
Music: Masashi Hamauzu
Music: Naoshi Mizuta
Music: Mitsuto Suzuki
Lead Scenario Writer: Daisuke Watanabe
Level Design Director: Takeshi Iwabuchi
Lead Application Programmer: Daiki Hoshina
Lead Planner: Kazuyuki Shindo
Lead Planner: Masahiro Ishihara
Lead Planner: Daisuke Inoue
Lead Planner: Yui Sawada
Battle Design Director: Nobuyuki Matsuoka
Lead Battle Programmer: Satoru Koyama
Character Model Director: Masaaki Kazeno
Lead Technical Engine and Rendering Programmer: Shuichi Ikeda
Producer: Yoshinori Kitase
Lightning aka Claire Farron: Ali Hillis
Hope Estheim: Vincent Martella
Jessica DiCicco: Lumina

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014)

Lightning awakes from crystal stasis by the almighty god Bhunivelze and endowed with great power and a skimpy outfit and a mission to save as many souls as she can before the end of the world. Which will be in 13 days. Making things even harder is that the world has been frozen in immortality for the past 500 years and the length of time has crushed some of their souls. These are the ones God wants rescuing and Lightning will have to do whatever it takes to help restore light to their lives and save their souls.

7/10

"You’re just making things up now." – Lightning

While Lightning’s succinct statement applies to most JRPG’s (and most video game bosses in particular), it applies with such eyebrow-raising accuracy to all of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’s story sequences that you feel that the makers must be doing it deliberately. While the story does get around to sort-of explaining why Lightning has been such an overly-focused near-automaton for three games, that’s about your lot. Everything happens because it does and thanks to good production values, especially the superb voice work and outstanding music, I was happy to break out my wry smile and watch all the story scenes in their majestically daft seriousness. You see, did I mention that you can be wearing a giant hat or silly glasses or a precariously balanced afro or a tail or big bunny ears and an impractical suit of armour or next to no clothes during these world-changing sequences. It’s got to be deliberate. The game itself is generally a lot of fun and marks the first seamless 3D open-world environment for Final Fantasy. It’s easy enough to bumble through for the experience but it has enough depth in the battle system that, on Normal and Hard difficulty, preparation and strategy will be required to succeed. There’s lot to do and you will be happy helping people with their problems, ‘solving’ mysteries and swatting cactuars in the face with a sword that is twice the size you are. I’ve grown rather partial to Lightning and the fact that I can name the entire hero cast of the FFXIII universe and some of their defining character traits and arcs speaks volumes about the quality of this much-maligned trilogy.

This game contains violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

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

Links

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..

Dark Souls (2011) – 10/10 fantasy action RPG game review

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Cast / crew
Director / Producer: Hidetaka Miyazaki
Lead Programmer: Jun Ito
Lead Graphic Designer: Makoto Sato

Dark Souls (2011)

Not living, not dead, not capable of dying (just becoming hollowed), you’ve been banished to a remote prison. One day, a knight peers into your cell from the broken ceiling and tosses in a cadaver bearing a key for your door. Who he is? Don’t know. Why he gave you a key? Don’t know. Why it had to be on a cadaver? Absolutely no idea.

10/10

I suspect any discussion between fans of the unendingly, intricately wondrous Dark Souls (no-one does boss entrances or location reveals like the Souls games) quickly turns to the most souls and humanity lost by not successfully returning to the scene of your previous demise (31,000 souls, 2 humanity – about 3 levels-worth at the time – later, 12 humanity thanks to Ceaseless Discharge unexpectedly coming to meet me; nobody does boss names like the Souls games, either). It hurts. Badly. But one of the coolest things about Dark Souls battles is that you always know why you lost and it’s nearly always your own fault (I dodged backward off a ledge; then muttered disconsolately for the next hour). You knew you wanted to be a higher level. You knew the bridge was narrow and the parapet was damaged. You knew you needed to run away and heal. You knew you couldn’t take two on at once. You knew you needed to dodge not strike. You knew your armour was too heavy to run fast. You knew your crossbow takes ages to reload. You knew you were using the wrong shield. You knew you had to be patient. You knew it would be worth it. It’s always worth it.

This game contains bad language, optionally gory 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

Fahrenheit aka Indigo Prophecy (2005, Windows PC) – 7/10 supernatural crime drama game review

Cast / crew
Writer: David Cage
Director: David Cage

Fahrenheit

Indigo Prophecy (2005)

Lucas Kane horrifiedly watches himself carve symbols into his arms then stab a man three times in a diner washroom. When he regains control, or rather, when something or someone else relinquishes control of him, he knows that no-one will believe what happened. As the only person convinced of the innocence of his guilt, Kane determines to find out what really happened.

7/10

It definitely falls apart at the end (specifically, from the meeting with Carla in the graveyard) as the plot loses cohesion and characters behave as if you’ve missed significant scenes or dialogue options (culminating in the surprise "I love you" on the train) but this remains a landmark game and a refreshingly different experience. You see, I wanted to reassure Sam before I left for work; I felt panic from claustrophobia; I felt joy when the Professor believed me and I felt dismay when it didn’t turn out well. Writer / director David Cage’s commitment to getting games to deliver something other than heart-pumping thrills and mind-bending conundrums is intriguing and worthwhile. When it works, as it frequently does here, it is a remarkable achievement and those experiences definitely enrich your gaming palate.

This game contains extreme and graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes and sex scenes, full nudity.

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

007: Blood Stone (2010) – 6/10 third-person / driving action James Bond game review

Cast / crew
Daniel Craig: James Bond 007
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Ian Fleming
Joss Stone: Nicole Hunter
Judi Dench: M
Stunt Coordinator: Benjamin Cooke
Music: Richard Jacques
Writer: Bruce Feirstein

007: Blood Stone (2010)

Bond is assigned to rescue missing professor Malcolm Tedworth

6/10

This is a good-looking, generally smooth-playing action and driving game but, as with most Bond games (and the Uncharted games, interestingly), there are simply too many goons to take down. Each level goes on for too long because of it and the proliferation of henchmen to de-hench reduces the irresistible forward-momentum a Bond game should have. Nevertheless, Blood Stone does have it’s moments which generally come from getting yourself out of trouble with a melee takedown followed by a quick Focus Aim shot. I think the holders of the Bond license should produce a game with a lot less shooting in it; perhaps structured more like a Bioware-lite action adventure rather than a duck hunt where somebody else eats the succulent bird during a cut scene and tells you how tasty it was.

This game contains strong melee violence, some mild graphic violence, 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

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Call of Duty 3 (2006, 360) – 4/10 World War II first person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Dave Anthony
Senior Producer: Pat Dwyer
Producer: Jason Blundell
Producer Multiplayer: Daniel Bunting
Technical Director Engineering: Mike Anthony
Lead Programmer Engineering: Christian Diefenbach
Technical Director Engineering – Game Content: Matthew Kimberling
Lead Programmer Engineering – Game Content: James Snider
Lead AI Programmer Engineering – Game Content: Peter Livingstone
Creative Director: Richard Farrelly
Lead Game Designer: Jeremy Luyties
Lead Level Builder: Adam Gascoine
Lead Level Scripter: Mike Denny

Call of Duty 3 (2006)

The arrival on Normandy’s beaches was only the start. Call of Duty 3 recreates some of the battles of the Normandy breakout.

4/10

Fortunately, Activision had already committed to a yearly cycle otherwise this dreary, frustrating, unfun shooter could have been the end of the Call of Duty juggernaut before it, er, began. The late Hill 262 mission is a good one (a nightmare on most difficulties though) – urgent and interesting – backed up by the consistently excellent music. There is some impressive technical achievement with great grass, water and some very convincing lighting effects (a strong point in all Call of Duty games) and it’s cool that you can drive around a couple of the levels which mixes things up nicely.

This game contains sexual swear words and war 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

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.

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.

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard (2009, PS3) – 5/10 mildly satirical third-person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Will Arnett: Matt Hazard
Neil Patrick Harris: Wallace "Wally" Wellesley III
Olivia Hack: QA / Evil QA
Lead Producer: Bryan West
Producer: Chris Puente
Lead Game Designer: Dave Ellis
Lead Level Designer: Michael Nelson
Writer: Dave Ellis
Lead Technical Programmer: Doug Cox
Lead Gameplay Programmer: Allan Campbell
Motion Capture Performer Matt Hazard & all various other characters: Richard Dorton
Motion Capture Performer Matt Hazard: John DeMerell

Eat Lead: Return of Matt Hazard, The (2009)

Reprising his role as gaming’s greatest hero once more, Matt Hazard is confused and dismayed to find himself getting killed at the end of the first chapter in a surprise twist. A hacker helps him survive but the game designers keep throwing in enemies from Hazard’s past to get rid of him once and for all.

5/10

This is a fine idea which certainly raises a smile and has potential for some delightful gameplay anachronism but look at the cover. Why would anyone buy a game with such a ugly cover? Look at Hazard’s ill-proportioned head. That’s not the face of a hero, of someone a player wants to inhabit. Look at the guns. The assault rifle has been made as big as the mini-gun which is the reason the picture is subconsciously wrong. Ironically, a photoshop done to balance the picture ends up unbalancing the viewer’s mind and puts off potential buyers without them knowing why. Once in game, there’s good music and voice work but it’s consistently a little clunky control-wise (aim and shoot are on the wrong buttons for PS3) and the level / gameplay designers simply have no idea of how to make battles fun, flowing and exciting. And the potential for delightful gameplay anachronism? Disappointingly, the anachronism isn’t even there, delightful or otherwise.

This game contains 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

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.

Red Faction: Guerrilla (2009, Games for Windows Live) – 7/10 third-person science fiction demolition shooter game review

Cast / crew
Project Design Director: James Hague
Project Design Architect: Luke Schneider
Writer: Drew Holmes
Producer: Rick White
Project Technical Director: Chris Neihengen
Project Technical Director: Jeff Massung
Project System Architect: Dave Baranec
Troy Baker: Alec Mason
Kari Wahlgren: Samanya

Red Faction: Guerrilla (2009)

After his dog is killed by Mars police, Alec Mason joins revolutionary organisation Red Faction. As he presents his concerns to the authorities using a space sledgehammer, he discovers an alien artefact so powerful, so astonishing, so important that he completely forgets about it for the rest of his life and keeps sledgehammering dudes instead.

7/10

If Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson were to make a third-person action game, this would be it as every problem in the universe, including international diplomacy, extra-terrestrial mining, and freedom fighting is solved using a hammer. Once the even more stupid than usual story quickly goes off and sulks in a corner, the delirious, spectacular action takes centre stage and a daft grin starts to etch itself onto your face. As a generous helping of gravy, you then start getting new weapons and they’re all tremendous fun and / or unexpectedly cool. Which offsets the fact that, thanks to the all-powerful sledgehammer, you don’t need any of them. Perhaps Red Faction: Guerrilla’s most notable achievement is that the destructibility of the world is particularly well designed and communicated: you always know what can be destroyed and what can’t; most unusual.

This game contains sexual swear words and extreme sledgehammer violence, gun and fantasy 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

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.

White Knight Chronicles (2009, Fantasy RPG, PS3-exclusive) – 6/10 game review

Cast / crew
Producer: Akihiro Hino
Director: Yoshiaki Kusuda
Event Director: Hirokazu Nagai
Daniel Taylor: Leonard
Kari Wahlgren: Cisna
Dannah Feinglass: Yulie
Charles Shaughnessy: Eldore

White Knight Chronicles (2009)

The Kingdom of Balandor is about to come under attack and one of it’s most secret treasures exposed: an ancient supernatural White Knight armour stored deep below the castle. Strangely, the White Knight armour chooses to bestow it’s power upon Leonard, an ordinary labourer about to become an extraordinary hero.

6/10

White Knight Chronicles falls down on a tactics-free battle experience which you can consistently complete with an occasional finger while doing something else entirely. It’s a shame as the story, setting and characters endear themselves to you and boast some nice moments (such as a son putting more effort into producing a fake ornament for his father than it took our heroes to procure the real ornament – though that makes no sense whatsoever, of course). Oddly, the story really requires you to play as hero Leonard while your custom avatar silently accompanies him. Once the story is dealt with there is a huge free online component to explore with your custom avatar as the principle hero that is comparable in time and grind to paid MMO’s. It’s an easy-to-play game that is refreshingly enjoyable to amble through and is better than it first appears.

This game contains mild swear words and fantasy 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.
Classified Drugs by PEGI. Game refers to or depicts the use of drugs.

Links

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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

Frontlines: Fuel of War (2008, World War III Shooter) – 6/10 game review

Cast / crew
General Manager: Frank Delise
Senior Producer: Joe Halper
Design Director: David Votypka
Software Director: Alex Papasavas
Lead Designer: Frank Delise
Writing / Cinematics: Coray Seifert
Lead Programmer: Alex Papasavas

Frontlines: Fuel of War (2008)

China and Russia team up for the ultimate World War III fighting machine. A coalition is hurriedly lumped together and thrown into battle with small teams like the Stray Dogs expected to hit hard and deep and turn the red tide.

6/10

You get the feeling all the way through that this never quite turned out as originally envisioned. It feels like it should be a more tactical, squad-conscious shooter with a multi-path environment, multiple objectives and an accompanying squad that encourages thought to perfect each assault. Ultimately, the end product is just another run-and-gun shooter, quite a good one, but one which frequently feels less than the sum of its parts. The best thing about Frontlines is probably the variety of weapons which are all interesting and useful (though the tank is, as always, stupidly difficult to control and gets killed easier than you do and the default assault rifle is irritatingly weak). You get some really cool toys such as several different types of mini-drones, a mini-tank assault drone, strike designators, homing rocket launchers and a selection of armored vehicles on top of your usual array of personal weapons. Using all these tactical options certainly makes the game more interesting if you realise they’re there and remember to use them but the remaining elements all feel half-baked.

This game contains war 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.

Iron Man (2008, Third-Person Action Movie Game, 360) – 3/10 review

Iron Man Iron Man (2008)

Weapons-inventing genius Tony Stark has a change of heart and decides to rid the world of weapons he believes are in the wrong hands by not telling anyone he’s invented a perfect AI, building the most brilliant and destructive battle suit (i.e., weapon) of all time and going on a genocidal rampage across the world. No, hang on, that didn’t come out right.

3/10

Well, at least it’s easy to determine what’s wrong with this movie game: the flying controls are near unusable. Remarkably, the camera, aiming and movement controls are different when doing just about anything. Therefore, the only people who will ever play this game and get something out of it are those after a big lump of gamerscore. Add to that the unspeakable ugliness of the game and "movies," and the lazy difficulty and you have a legitimately worthless entertainment product. That sold nearly three million copies worldwide.

This Iron Man game contains 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.

inFamous (2009) – 8/10 Third-Person Open-World Super-Hero / Super-Villain Action PS3 exclusive game review

Cast / crew

inFamous (2009)

Cole is at the epicentre of an enormous explosion when the package he is carrying goes off. Somehow he not just survives but emerges with ability to regenerate his health and fire electricity from his finger-tips. The rest of the now-quarantined Empire City hasn’t been so lucky with the city gangs fighting over territory now that there’s no law.

8/10

inFamous is just so much fun; it wants to be played and enjoyed and it makes it easy for you to do so. This is because game balance is very well done: you are very strong and well-equipped offensively (I didn’t realise I had homing lightning bolts until the third play through!) but very weak defensively meaning that skill and accuracy are rewarded and that battles are never dull or one-sided in your favour. Additionally, there is a very forgiving checkpoint system (there are even checkpoints for the middle of boss battles). Amazingly, even escort missions are fun because the escorted runs and hides at the first sign of trouble, simple! Disappointingly, the good evil choices are a bit too give-away-all-your-money-and-both-kidneys or beat-an-orphan-with-this-kitten-in-front-of-Jesus. The final boss battle is also much harder than anything else in the game and requires some patience and tactics. These are just about the only weaknesses but, back on the positive side, you can accidentally electrocute people by running through puddles. Which is oddly brilliant.

This game contains mild swear words and mild unpleasant scenes, electricity violence, melee 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

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.

Quantum of Solace (2008, First- and Third-Person Shooter Game, 360) – 7/10 review

Daniel Craig: James Bond 007
Olga Kurylenko: Camille
Mathieu Amalric: Dominic Greene
Mads Mikkelsen: Le Chiffre
Judi Dench: M
Senior Producer: Garrett Young

Quantum of Solace Quantum of Solace (2008)

Bond follows a lead into the organisation who were manipulating Vesper Lynd. Though when I say ‘follow a lead,’ I mean Bond kills hundreds of gun-toting henchmen. Which has got to help a bit, at least.

7/10

There is a complete absence of iconic action in the movie Quantum of Solace, a complete lack of Bondian swagger and attitude in both that movie and Casino Royale and a largely bland flow to the game’s levels but with these elements accepted, this remains a highly playable shooter with some agreeable cover-based action. It doesn’t fall into the typical Bond-game trap of trying to do too many things, nor does it supply ridiculously over-powered bosses (some are quick-time events, some take one or two judicious shots) or non-standard control layouts. Multiplayer offers a good selection of game modes which work well and are fun. So while, like parent movie Quantum of Solace, this simply doesn’t feel like Bond, it is a smooth, solid, easy-to-play shooter in its own right.

This Quantum of Solace game contains mild swear words and extended gun violence, strong melee 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.

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (2008, Alternative History WWII First-Person Shooter Game, 360) – 6/10 review

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (2008)

Without the charismatic leadership of Winston Churchill (who died in a car accident several years before), the German invasion of Europe has gone in favour of the Nazi’s and they’ve set their sights on America. A New York construction worker finds himself putting down his hammer and picking up sub-machine guns and putting the forces of evil back in their place.

6/10

Desperately unpolished and technically deficient first-person alternative history shooter. There’s no accuracy to the shooting, not because that is just the nature of the weapons, but because the game has wads of invisible scenery that you can’t shoot through surrounding every object in the game. It’s a big shame as the premise has potential (you see off a 1950’s Nazi invasion in New York, Washington D.C., and London; locations not available to traditional World War II games), the bomb-wiring mini-game works well and there’s something endlessly satisfying about putting down evil dictators who want to rule the world. It also has a certain old-school PC shooter charm and, being shorter than average but long enough, doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. A generous six, then.

This game contains bloodless gun violence, melee violence, occasional strong melee 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.

Terminator: Salvation (2009, Third-Person Action Game, 360) – 6/10 review

Terminator: Salvation Terminator: Salvation (2009)

John Connor, a resistance fighter in a future war against machines, hot-headedly goes to rescue a fellow fighter stranded inside a Skynet facility against the orders of his commanding officer and knowing it’s likely a death sentence. But he’s human, not a machine, and the odds don’t matter when a life is at stake.

6/10

For everything Terminator: Salvation does right, the teammate AI does something wrong, typically stand in a really unhelpful place and never move. Play the game in human co-op, and the mild tactical requirements of gameplay (one of you has to distract an enemy while the other shoots it in a weak point, usually the back, and you must make use of cover) shine through and it’s good fun. The game is well enough presented, doesn’t spoil the movie and is simple to play. The Achievements are easy and the game doesn’t outstay it’s welcome; that’s to say, it’s short – about half the length of similar games – and you would be miffed if you paid full price for it. So rent it.

This Terminator: Salvation game contains mild gun violence.

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

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007, Game, 360) – 4/10 review

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

4/10

This is a real shame. For a good while, this game works well. It’s simple to play (though, typically for movie games, the controls feel more complicated than they are), looks quite nice and progress is tangible and smooth. As we reach the At World’s End portion of the game, though, the developers decide to drag out the game by making the combat sequences and duels go on for far too long. As both elements are extremely simple or uninvolving, the earlier, shorter bursts (defeating half-a-dozen dudes, for example) are okay while later battles drag on wearily. Oh, and, bizarrely, Jack can’t swim. In the end, the game is tiresome but it was nearly a very decent movie tie-in.

This game contains mild abusive language and extended, occasionally strong, sword violence, extended melee 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.

BlackSite (2007, Game, 360) – 6/10 review

Executive Producer: Jim Molitor
Chief Creative Director: Harvey Smith
Art Director: Pete Franco
Audio Director: Clark Crawford
Design Director: Jim Stiefelmaier
Technical Director: Steve Broumley

BlackSite (2007)

Three years after a disastrous incursion to a facility in Iraq, Captain Pierce catches up with his past when he is assigned to help put down an outbreak of some kind in a military base in Nevada.

6/10

There was certainly an effort here to make a great game that also says something (about the military, prejudice and other things) but the contemporary commentary feel rather bolted on, like zits on the face of the game. Technically, the game is generally fine but does suffer from more bugs the further on you get. Graphics have that slightly unsatisfactory Unreal Engine 3 look that almost all third-party games seem to have (and a lot of the characters have a light bleed halo around their extremities) while the sound effects lack any punch and have little, well, effect. However, the game controls well, the team command is a welcome touch, the story is good enough, the enemies are pretty cool to look at, the bosses are fine (the huge tentacle monster on the bridge is spectacular though the final boss is bullet-sponge poor), cover destruction works well and the levels are clearly designed so that you don’t get lost. However, it’s never quite as good as it nearly is; there is just that last little bit of atmosphere missing that would take BlackSite from solid to really good.

This game contains mild swear words and gun violence, melee violence.

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

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

Killzone (2004, Game, PS2 on PS3) – 7/10 review

Managing Director Guerilla Games: Hermen Hulst
Development Director: Arjan Brussee
Production Manager: Alastair Burns
Production Manager: Martin Capel
Production Manager: Hans Tasma
Lead Designer: Martin Capel
Game Designer: Roy Postma
Lead Programmer: Michael van der Leeuw
Kal Webber: Captain Jan Templar
Jennifer Lawrence: Shadow Marshal Luger
Tom Clarke-Hill: Sergeant Rico Valasquez
Sean Pertwee: Colonel Gregor Hakha
Model Captain Jan Templar: Nico van der Helm
Model Shadow Marshal Luger: Micky Hoogen
Model Sergeant Rico Valasquez: Nasler Abdoel
Model Colonel Gregor Hakha: Mitch Jansen

Killzone (2004)

Years after he First Helghan War with Earth, Helghan forces bypass Vekta’s thought-impregnable defence mechanisms and start the Second Helghan War under the charismatic leadership of Scolar Visari. Though, it has to be said, calling a conflict The First Helghan War is probably tempting fate and a return engagement was somewhat predictable.

7/10

Accomplished military first-person shooter which makes good use of the PlayStation 2’s tendency to make graphics look muddy and unimpressive. The level design is consistently good giving the player enough tactical decisions and choices while the enemy and ally AI is generally more than good enough. Mildly inaccurate weapons and bullet-sponge enemies make the combat feel less crisp than other genre entries but whatever shooters need to be fun, playable and engaging, Killzone has it. It’s never more than a good first-person shooter but that is certainly enough. Laying out the manual like a newspaper was also a really nice touch.

This game contains sexual swear words and extended gun violence in gameplay, some graphic and extreme gun violence and strong melee violence in cut scenes.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.
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.
Classified Bad Language by PEGI. Game contains bad language.

Mirror’s Edge (2008, Game, PS3) – 7/10 review

Senior Producer: Owen O’Brien
Senior Development Director: Senta Jakobsen
Producer: Tom Farrer
Lead Designer: Thomas Andersson
Art Director: Johannes Söderqvist
Technical Director: Per-Olof Romell
Technical Director Art: Torbjörn Malmer
Sound Director: Magnus Walterstad

Mirror’s Edge (2008)

Faith is a runner – a pedestrian courier that surreptitiously uses the rooftops as her pathways – but, given that her packages will almost be illegal, the authorities are trying to fulfil their clichés. So Faith, blah, blah, freedom, blah.

7/10

This is a game that treats the players’ input with disdain and where your on-screen avatar (Faith) simply refuses to put the effort in. She won’t help herself, she won’t try and grab for a ledge you’ve missed (by a femtometre) or go through a door or walk down a street unless you’ve meticulously avoided catching your invisible aura on door frames and the like. There’s no strain in her on-screen hands and arms and little sense that what you are doing is physically strenuous or miraculous. You frequently can’t look around using the right stick, the button that tells you where to go frequently doesn’t, the button to drop your gun sometimes won’t, the button to jump tends to be more of a suggestion and the button to make a hard landing soft is reinterpreted as ‘fall to your death’ if you don’t quite clear the gap or land on a vertical pipe. The inability to redefine keys is almost criminal as the control scheme is alien to learn and it’s advantage over the more traditional buttons used for jump, crouch and attack is never apparent. Even with all that, Mirror’s Edge is an unmissable game for striking art direction and proving platforming in first-person is possible and the game can be visceral, thrilling and rewarding and the ending is good. It’s a nearly game and, for such a bold and unusual attempt, that’ll do for now.

This game contains mild swear words and offensive gestures and melee violence, gun 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.

Lost: The Video Game aka Lost: Via Domus (2008, Game, 360) – 7/10 review

Lost Lost: The Video Game aka Lost: Via Domus (2008)

Flight 815 from Australia to Los Angeles: after surviving the catastrophic failure of the aircraft you come to in a jungle with no memory of who you are, no idea where you are and what must be a ghost of a beautiful woman standing in front of you.

7/10

Though you might be a bit miffed at paying full price for it, this is a near-perfect Lost video game. The story is terrific and the whole game has, brilliantly, the same polish and atmosphere of the television show. Though it is short (I finished it inside a day in just a few hours), the length feels just right with no padding or unnecessary backtracking. There are problems. Surprise insta-deaths and restart points that include unskippable videos are the main one but the lack of an illusion of choice is a bit of a surprise for an adventure game. Critically, however, this feels like a good episode of the original show and not many spin-off games achieve that.

This Lost game contains mild bad language and violence, gory and 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.

Medal of Honor: European Assault (2005, WWII First-Person Shooter, Xbox) – 7/10 game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Rick Giolito
Executive Producer: Dan Winters
Lead Designer Single Player: Jon Paquette
Lead Designer Multiplayer: Éric Chartrand
Design Director: Christopher Cross
Writer (Story): John Milius
Writer: John Milius
Writer: Adam Foshko

Medal of Honor: European Assault (2005)

American Lt. William Holt fights the Nazi’s in France, North Africa, Russia and Belgium.

7/10

One thing the Medal of Honor games have never overlooked is reminding us that these games are based on real people in real events in a real war. That is really sobering, as it should be. Generally, this is a very well-designed game so it is a shame to report that the final level is broken (you have to play half-an-hour to get to a point where you die almost instantly over and over and over) and that German soldiers can shoot you regardless of where their gun is pointing. Otherwise, boss Nazi’s, multiple optional secondary objectives, great controls and eye-catching animations are folded, along with an outstanding soundscape, into the superb atmosphere that is the hallmark of the Medal of Honor series. Shame about the broken final level.

This game contains mild swear words and war violence, extended gun violence, melee 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

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007, PlayStation 3) – 10/10 contemporary military first person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Project Lead: Jason West
Engineering Lead: Richard Baker
Engineering Lead: Robert Field
Engineering Lead: Francesco Gigliotti
Engineering Lead: Earl Hammon, Jr.
Design Lead: Todd Alderman
Design Lead: Steve Fukuda
Design Lead: Mackey McCandlish
Writer: Jesse Stern
Writer (Additional): Steve Fukuda
Writer (Story): Todd Alderman
Writer (Story): Steve Fukuda
Writer (Story): Mackey McCandlish
Writer (Story): Zied Rieke
Writer (Story): Jesse Stern
Writer (Story): Jason West
Producer: Mark Rubin

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)

Single player: tackle terrorism in a contemporary battlefield as the world’s armed forces unite to remove a common enemy in a politically unstable country.

Multiplayer: employ all your guile, skill and persistence and work your way up from a lowly private with stock weapons by partaking in various wargames against other people from around the world.

10/10

As good as first person shooters get whose only minor fault is that it sometimes feels like the action happens with or without you. This is utterly spectacular, beautifully paced, gorgeous to look at and listen to and, critically, features pitch-perfect controls and instant all-enveloping atmosphere. And who knew that being able to shoot through certain materials would be so rewarding? Even when the game is over, the goodness doesn’t end with a wry rap stressing the fact that Call of Duty 3 isn’t an Infinity Ward game, a bonus level set on an airplane (“Don’t call me Shirley.”) and a never-ending and worthwhile multiplayer component.

This game contains a single sexual swear word, mild swear words and extended graphic war violence.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.
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.
Classified Bad Language by PEGI. Game contains bad language.

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.